Ed Wolf's journal of the Trump years for December: "What is it? Just everything."

Published 06, Dec, 2017
Author // Ed Wolf

Ed Wolf: "It helps me to remember that though the tsunami was a terrible event, the story that’s most important is about people helping each other through Terrible Times."

Ed Wolf's journal of the Trump years for December:

Day 108. One Life, One Death

Two years ago, after a sweet birthday dinner, I couldn’t return to my apartment because policemen blocked the street I lived on. I could see flashing lights in front of my building and a body in the street. I waited for hours, with many of my neighbors, before police lead us back to our apartments. When I got to my door the body was gone but the street was still wet with his blood.

The following day I found out that the victim was our neighbor Amilcar Perez-Lopez, a 20-year-old Guatemalan immigrant. He’d been killed by two cops who said he attacked them with a knife, even though autopsies showed he’d been shot in the back while running away. He was unarmed and didn’t speak English; they didn’t speak Spanish and weren’t wearing uniforms. We created an altar for him on the street and attended an infuriating and insulting Town Hall meeting about his murder a few days later. I was eventually questioned about what I saw and heard and now, two years later, the investigation into his death is still pending.

Over and over through the course of my life, I’ve see how the most victimized of our citizens are often turned into the attacker and the institutions that oppress them become the victim. I don’t always know what to do in these circumstances, but I’m grateful to still be alive and to add my voice to the on-going calls for justice.

Day 113. Comparative Suffering

The AIDS epidemic was much worse than anything Trump will do, the Vietnam War was the most terrible experience I ever lived through, Nixon did more harm than Reagan, Trump will be more disastrous then either of them, the prison industrial complex is damaging our society more than current immigration laws, climate change and global warming are the most important issues of our time. My grandmother was born in 1900, my dad in 1915, my mom in 1925. I can remember grandma describing the horrors of the Great Depression and my father raising his voice: “World War II was much much worse than the Depression!” Grandma yelled back at him, saying he’d never known hunger the way she did and he’d slam his hand down on the table and say she was ignorant to say such things. My mom would take my sister and I into the bedroom and close the door. We’d ask her what she thought was worse and she said it was the two big bombs that our country dropped on the Japanese people.

Day 117. A Drive Through the Country

My grandfather loved taking us for long rides through the countryside on Sunday afternoons. We didn’t want to go, it was boring, nothing to see but cows, but our mother said it made him happy. My brother and I would get in the front seat as my sisters reluctantly crawled into the back. I remember one of those beautiful afternoons, grandpa driving slowly down a country road, impossibly white clouds floating above, cows raising their heads in the warm air, when our youngest sister started crying. Grandpa looked into the rearview mirror, but kept driving as her cries turned into deep mournful sobs. No one knew what to say or do as the car moved through that perfect landscape. When her crying slowed I turned and looked at her. “What is it?” I asked. “Oh,” she said, wiping her face with her hands and looking at all of us. “Just everything.”

Day 122. The Tsunami

Six years ago the massive earthquake and resulting tsunamis occurred in Japan. Thousands were lost, coastal communities destroyed. There were so many cell phones, helicopter videos and security cameras in operation that day you can watch the entire calamity unfold. The monstrous waves appear on the horizon and then quickly flood into the streets, destroying everything in their path. Sometimes when I can’t sleep, anxious about what’s happening in our country today, I get up and watch those videos again. If you look closely, you can see people running to get each other up hillsides, lead each other to stairways, pull each other from stalled cars, help each other out of harm’s way. And the moment the waves recede, citizens rush into the streets, looking to do more for each other. It helps me to remember that though the tsunami was a terrible event, the story that’s most important is about people helping each other through Terrible Times.

Day 127. RIP Derek Walcott

As the assault on our democracy (and all the resistance to that assault) continues, it's important to note those who are leaving the good fight. One of those today is Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize-winning writer. This poem of his has gotten myself and many others through some very tough times. Take a moment to read when you can.


The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you have ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

- Derek Walcott

All photos from the internet except the top one, of my poor neighbor, which was taken by another neighbor

About the Author

Ed Wolf

Ed Wolf

Ed Wolf, a native of New York City, moved to San Francisco in 1976. He’s been working in the HIV field since 1983, as chronicled in the award-winning documentary, “We Were Here”. He worked as a Shanti counselor on Ward 5-A at San Francisco General Hospital, the first designated AIDS unit in the world. He’s developed HIV-related curriculum and provided training and technical support for a large number of national and international organizations and institutions, including the California State Office of AIDS, the UCSF AIDS Health Project in San Francisco and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles. Other projects include classroom training and technical assistance in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe to increase the effectiveness of adherence counseling in MTN (Microbicide Treatment Network) Clinical Trials. He has also been the lead content developer of an e-learning training in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as delivering adherence counseling trainings and technical assistance for staff in the iPrEx Clinical Trails in both North and South America. Ed is currently providing the Personalized Cognitive Counseling Training for HIV counselors through the San Francisco Department of Public Health. He was the first HIV Content Expert Writer for Answers.com, one of the world’s largest internet-based information websites. Ed has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and was awarded the HIV National Educator of Year Award from the body.com. You can find out more about him at EdWolf.net.