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Justin Hocking


I survived a long bout with a severe illness in 2016/17, so most things feel like a cakewalk in comparison.

These past couple months I taught myself to make vegan fish tacos while practicing Spanish via audiobook. My wife and I planted a garden: cilantro, basil, beets, kale, onions, lettuce. Our cat loves that we're home all day—he lies on my chest, rubs his face all over my beard, vibrates the valves of my heart with his purring.

Down the street, some neighbors' agave plant sprouted an eighteen-foot-high stalk that eventually burst into otherworldly yellow flowers. This only happens once in an agave's life, and they can live to be 100. In tribute I mix margaritas to sip while lambasting bad movies with friends on Netflix Party.

I keep myself busy making erasure poems from Trump's The Art of the Deal and posting them on Facebook—my goal is to make 100 erasures in as many days.

What do I have to complain about? Not much.

Although my wife had to permanently shutter part of the business she worked fifteen years to build; when she came home last night she looked sadder than I've ever seen her. Moving boxes filled with office supplies and framed artwork and yoga mats now clutter our house. There’s a budget crisis at the university where I work and I'm scared I could lose my job. But we have a home and food and family and it would take a disaster of much greater scale for us to lose any of that. At least that's what I tell myself. There are other sentences describing other possible outcomes that I've considered writing here, but for my own health and wellbeing I'm just going to skip them. A close friend texted me the other day with advice from a wise elder: "Don't get caught in the wreckage of an imagined future."

Speaking of wreckage, yesterday I saw our former neighbors living out of their Chevy Blazer behind the Safeway, all their possessions spread out on the sidewalk like a depressing picnic. The thought of stopping to offer help never even crossed my mind. They were honestly terrible neighbors. And we have to keep our distance, don't we?



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