Postcards from the Pandemic

Welcome to my blog within a blog, which combines the need to write with the compulsion to  procrasti-bake/cook in times of  stress.

March 21

Teeny Tiny Egg In a Hole

Saturday brunch was  Quail Eggs in a Hole with home cured lox and home-baked whole wheat bread. As expected, brunch looked adorable.

To crack open a quail egg, click on this link.  I skipped the pouring into the ramekin part and poured them directly into the hole.

March 20

Home-baked Whole Wheat Bread & Home-Cured Lox

Eggs, regular flour  and bread are nowhere to be found, so I made do with what was available – egg-free whole wheat bread.  And because the xenophobe in the White House loves to talk smack about the Chinese Virus, the Asian groceries are relatively empty and salmon is more abundant than hand sanitizer. However bad things sound, you can still scavenge for  food amid scarcity. Here’s how:

Vegan dinner with Family

Most of the food was prepared by a member of our yoga family, but I brought the asparagus dish at bottom.  The only thing the Food52 recipe below needed were garlic cloves grated into the shallots.

March 19

After a fruitless search for eggs at Vons and Trader Joes, I found these beauties at Vinh Hung the Vietnamese grocery in City Heights.


March 18

Comfort food for a cold rainy day. Ground pork cradled in rice noodles, basil and spinach, immersed in a ginger, garlic, onion broth.


March 17


Though goat meat is readily available at the neighborhood grocery, I prefer to use lamb shanks and put everything in the slow cooker soon after lunch.  By dinnertime, our house smells like a Filipino home.  

March 16

Our cats ignored the memo on social distancing.   Happy Hour means nothing to them.


March 13

Last Supper

Home-cured lox  & whipped cream cheese

Lesley’s  much anticipated 70th birthday party was canceled three days before it was set to take place. A hundred guests were flying in from out of state and from  out of the country, and  ten of us had volunteered to make cakes.  But after Covid 19 reared its ugly crowned head, she thought better of putting herself and her guests at risk and called off the celebration.

Suddenly our weekend seemed bleak. But after spending a week in Texas, I was determined to see some friends before Covid 19  laid waste to our social life. Max and Consuelo came to dinner on Friday the 13th, for what now looks to be the last dinner party I’ll be hosting for the foreseeable future.

Roasted Cauliflower
Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic

Chicken with 20 Cloves of Garlic

Roasted Cauliflower:

March 11


We buy most of our fresh produce and proteins at the local Vinh Hung in City Heights (recently renamed Little Saigon) and at North Park Produce, the halal grocery so I had no idea that folks had been emptying the shelves at Trader Joe’s and Ralphs.

Perhaps the sole advantage to having a xenophobe in the White House who’s decided to call  the Corona Virus the “Chinese Virus” is that Asian groceries are relatively empty of shoppers. But even they have run out of flour.

March 9

San Antonio or Bust

Tower of the Americas

By the time San Antonio’s mayor declared a state of emergency over the Covid 19 pandemic last March 2, it was too late to get a refund on our Airbnb rental. I was traveling to that city with a lawyer, a poet and a  journalist to speak on a panel at the AWP Conference & Book Fair, an annual event that draws thousands of writers, editors, publishers, and booksellers. 

I’d seen much chatter on social media about the pros and cons of attending the conference, but since none of the other speakers on my panel voiced concerns about falling ill, and because three of us had already paid for our Airbnb rental, we decided to take our chances.  Armed with three packets of travel wipes and a travel sized bottle of hand sanitizer, I met the Anne, Carolyne and Ari at the San Diego Airport for our early morning flight.

After wiping down my  tray table, arm rests, and seatbelt buckles, I settled in for what I assumed would be a routine flight. As our plane approached San Antonio, we were rocked by five minutes of the worst turbulence I’d experienced in recent memory. Fearing we would crash, I began making nervous chitchat with the bearded  man  in the window seat. Robbie was attending the same conference, was the nonfiction editor for The Rumpus. I made a mental note to pitch him a story idea, if we survived this flight.  When the plane finally landed with a teeth-jarring thud, I was actually relieved to arrive in a city gripped by the pandemic.

The exhibition hall at Henry B. Gonzalez Convention looked twice as cavernous for its rows of unoccupied booths. Out of the 11,000 expected participants, about 5,000 had canceled.  

But I was grateful for those who showed up.

Nearly all of the panels I’d planned to attend  were cancelled, giving me more time to walk down each depleted aisle and to chat with indie book sellers and editors. Slower foot traffic meant less FOMO.  We greeted each other with  jazz hands and thanked each other for showing up. Each time I picked up a pen to sign up for their newsletter, they insisted I take it with me.  I collected many pens.

2040 Books publishes Writers of Color!

On the morning of our panel, both meeting rooms on either side of ours were deserted.  I worried no one would come to ours, because despite its provocative title He Done Her Wrong: The Redemptive Value of Reframing Violence in Story — did anyone want to hear about domestic violence when the Corona virus was dominating  the news? To our surprise, the room filled up. 

With Ari Honarvar, Carolyne Ouya, and Anne Bautista

Perhaps this was because ours was among the few panels still available to attend. I prefer to think people came to listen  because domestic violence  poses the more immediate existential threat than does this new, incurable disease.

I began by explaining how a  day job interpreting  for domestic violence survivors inspired me to write  The Mango Bride. Anne the immigration lawyer, laid out the basics of the Violence Against Women Act and the U visa. Carolyne  the Kenyan poet, led a call and response session before reading a piece she’d written about the American dream. Ari the journalist,  recalled how as a child in embattled Tehran,  she would sit  on the roof with her family and  watch missiles light up the sky. She described people on the streets  and those on the rooftops calling out  lines of poetry to each other, using  Rumi’s verses to dispel their shared fear of impending death.

To put things in perspective, folks have a far greater risk of dying from intimate partner violence, mass shootings, car accidents, and plane crashes than from Covid 19. The bottom line? Life itself is a risk, and I’m going all in for mine.

Free handout from  the Creative Writing professor

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