The Socially Distanced Diaries

April 24, 2020

Times are strange. Schools are closed. Students and parents alike are (mostly) stuck at home. Each day in this article, a different Clarion staff member will be documenting their experiences during these unique days. Please check back every day for a new post.

I’m very thankful for FaceTime

If you asked me a month ago about how I was doing, I would have told you that I was perfectly fine, but if you were to ask me right now, I will tell you that I can not wait for all of this to be over. April has gone by fast, but not in a good way. Everyday felt exactly the same, and it felt like the entirety of the month was one long boring day. I will not try to pretend that everyday was long and miserable, but if I am being honest there were many of those. 

The only things keeping me sane are my family, friends, painting, baking, and working out. However, at this point the only reason I workout is so that I can be in shape for travel basketball, but more importantly, bake dessert without feeling guilty. I can not explain to you how much time I have spent in my kitchen throughout this quarantine.  

In my personal opinion Netflix party is one of the best creations to ever be made. I have watched so many movies and shows with my friends on it and it has been amazing. I thoroughly enjoy being able to watch something on Netflix while simultaneously judging the film in the chat with my friends. My friends and I have also done movie nights in my backyard. We have stayed socially distant ofcourse, but it’s fun to have late nights outside watching a movie on the projector, even if we are six feet apart. 

Because today is mothers day, my family is going over to my grandparents. However, they will be sitting on the porch while we are on the lawn. It makes me extraordinarily upset that I can not hug my grandparents, but that is what it is going to take to keep everyone safe. I can not wait for the day to come where I can give my nana, papa, and Gigi(great grandmother) a huge warm hug. 

My thoughts in this article are very scattered and all over the place, but I am going to pretend that I did that intentionally to symbolize my headspace through this time in isolation. I hope that everyone reading this stays safe throughout these terrifying times. For anyone who has personally been affected in any way by this terrible virus; I hope that you stay strong and know that there are better days to come. 

Day #55: Sunday, May 10, 2020

My+grandma%27s+balcony+on+Mother%27s+day.

Betti Ibarra (Azu's aunt)

My grandma's balcony on Mother's day.

I want to start this off by saying Happy Mother’s Day to all the awesome moms out there! Today is Mother’s Day and honestly if it weren’t for my mom, I would not be able to survive quarantine; she’s become my closest friend, literally. 

Anyways, I am actually back at work for the weekends; I work at a cafe and we finally opened for online pick-up. I really like working and I used to work a lot, so it is a nice taste of my old life. Because it is Mother’s Day we’re a bit more busy than we would be, but I love it, anything to keep my brain functioning. 

I got off of work at around 11 a.m. and walked home. I usually enjoy the walk, but today it was cold, rainy, and I had my hands full of drinks and baked goods for my family. I got home and we quickly ate brunch before going to my grandma’s. We didn’t actually go inside, my family met up outside. It was really nice to see everybody, but it also made me really sad that this was one of the only ways we could spend time together. I’m used to always having relatives over, so this is weird. 

We hung out in her parking lot for a little bit and talked to her while she was on the balcony. She had a bucket and rope attached to the railing so we could send up food and flowers. I have a cousin who is a nurse at Advocate Christ Medical Center, one of the most hard-hit hospitals in Chicago, and she talked to us about what it is like on the frontlines. Spoiler alert: Not freaking good. 

After my grandma’s we went to the grocery store for our weekly splurge to get the food that we needed (or wanted.) I’ve gotten used to seeing everybody wearing masks and social distancing, so it’s a bit unphasing by now. We shop at a small Mexican grocery store, so you know we stocked up on the good things: chicharrones, galletas principes, Yakult, pan de elote and Abuelitas cocoa. 

They temporarily closed El Milagro tortilla factory, so there is currently a real life corn tortilla shortage in the hispanic community. We had to buy some weird brand tortillas (they were bad) because there is no way in heck that we will ever eat flour tortillas. 

After our long early-afternoon out, we came home and FaceTimed my other grandma for a bit. She doesn’t like being stuck at home so we do everything possible to keep her in good spirits. My brother and I made dinner for everyone, and it turned out okay, our stomachs are still intact.

That’s where I’ll finish off this rather-exciting day, now I am just going to watch The Great British Baking Show until I develop a British accent. Stay healthy!

Day #53: Friday, May 8, 2020

Money issues?

When I woke up this morning around 10:30 a.m. I was glad I didn’t have to do e-learning. Honestly, I hate e-learning and I’m glad that we only have about two weeks left. Then I got up to French toast, a personal favorite of mine. Well, anything could be a personal favorite at this point because we’ve had pancakes for the last six days now and I’m starting to get sick of them. After breakfast I went back to my room with my friend who has been staying with me. After a while we heard some arguing in the kitchen. My mom and her boyfriend were arguing because we as a family have been struggling to keep up with rent and pay for groceries due to this whole coronavirus pandemic. With my mom on unemployment and having not received her check yet tensions have been really high for our family. But even through it all my mom and I have still found time to help out my uncle run his small business. He owns a bar/restaurant called Lindy’s Chili & Gertie’s Ice Cream. My mom takes orders and I do the delivery service. I run off tips from customers and what ever I make goes back to my mom to help out our family in any way I can. But yeah work is very tiring, I work from 3-8 p.m. Monday through Saturdays. Gotta do what you gotta do to survive this pandemic, even if it means sacrificing your safety.

Day #52: Thursday, May 7, 2020

Loving my new normal

Claire+passes+the+time+by+cuddling+with+her+kitten%2C+Marley.

Claire passes the time by cuddling with her kitten, Marley.

Unlike most of the people in my life, I’m still enjoying quarantine. I know I’m a crazy person, but I am really appreciating all of this extra time to do all of the things I’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had time to.  

With the majority of my time, I have been reading excessively. Most of the books I have read are not ones I would typically read, but, when I’m finishing a book in two days, it doesn’t really matter. During normal times, I barely have enough time to read two books each month, but I can now read two to three books every week, so I’m very grateful for this time. If you’re looking for a really long good book, I would recommend Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. 

I’m extremely disappointed with the state of the United States right now. The fact that states are trying to open when this pandemic is nowhere near over upsets me deeply. If people aren’t going to listen to the government or every other country in the world, the CDC is definitely the most qualified organization to get information from, yet some people still choose to ignore the experts.

Moving on, I have become nocturnal. I see the sunrise most mornings, and I struggle to wake up for 1:00 pm Zooms. My reasoning is that if I’m ever going to be up all night, now is for sure the time to do it. I understand when my parents are upset when I have a sleep schedule like this during normal summers, but I have no reason to be on society’s schedule right now. It’s not like I’ll be going anywhere for at least the next couple of weeks, so I’m living my dream. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. When I’m awake later than everyone else and find myself in complete silence, I find my inner peace. 

I can deal with the quarantine for a while longer, but I am so done with e-learning. During normal times, I consider myself to be a motivated student, but I would not consider myself anything close to that right now. Any shortcut I can take, I definitely do. I’m very grateful that J.B. saved me with the whole 60% rule, and I’m grateful that I have the resources to be successful in e-learning times, but I feel kind of guilty for not trying my hardest. In the beginning, I was definitely doing 100% of the work with full effort, but I’m having trouble seeing the point now that we know that we’re not going back to school. I understand why AP classes have to continue at full-speed, but I don’t get it for classes that don’t continue into another course. Teachers are doing everything they can, but I’ve been struck with laziness.

Until further notice, you can expect to find me in my house reading and watching tv with a cat on my lap. I’m curious to see what the world will look like after this whole shebang is over. I hope that society as a whole will learn to appreciate essential workers and will understand why people need to make a living wage. People tend to dislike change, but maybe this whole process will make the transition to a more supportive and accepting society easier. 

Day #51: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Keeping up with E-Learning and other quarantine thoughts

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 51st edition of Clarion Socially Distanced Diaries, courtesy of yours truly, Liam Mathews. Normally I wouldn’t have added that sentence, but I can already tell that I’m gonna struggle to make this long enough, so I needed a space filler. That sentence was also a space filler, I’m so sorry. So now that I’ve added three filler sentences we can get to my actual SDD, spoiler alert, it was boring.

I think we’re on our eighth week of quarantine now (to be honest that guess could be way off, I’ve completely lost track of time) and all of my days pretty much seem the same. My boredom levels are at an all time high, I literally have three different activities to do each day, and none of them are particularly interesting, so I won’t waste your time, as well as mine by writing about them in depth, so instead I’m just gonna write a brief overview of my day, and then we can both be on our way.

Over the last week or two, I feel like E-Learning has become basically non-existent, just a couple of weeks ago I was complaining about getting too much work, and now it seems like I’m getting none, I guess someone was listening to me. But seriously, all of a sudden my teachers are all assigning us a worksheet or two on monday, saying that they’re due Thursday. Now listen, I’m never one to complain about having an assignment due later in the week, but I just want to let my teachers know, they’re playing a dangerous game here, the chances are very low that I’m gonna do work for three classes in one day, and even lower that I would do some of that work before the day it’s due. This is like playing Russian Roulette with classes, it’s completely random which classes I do the work for, and which classes I don’t, I’ve already decided to do my Spanish, but it’s a toss up between whether I do my Euro notes or my health Ed Puzzles, there’s also something out there that i’m supposed to be doing for Chem, but I’m not sure exactly what it is. Anyway, my point is that seeing something assigned early in the week due on Thursday or Friday never actually works out the way I hope it will, it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt, namely my grade.

Well that train of thought turned to take up way more space than I thought it would, maybe I didn’t need all that filler space, if you’re reading this, go ahead and forget about those first three sentences. So that’s pretty much all that I think is worth sharing with you today, and I think this article is long enough, so I think I’ll leave it off here, I sincerely hope quarantine doesn’t go on long enough for me to write a third one of these.

Day #50: Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Wrinkle Twinkle Little Star

Please+know+that+the+image+for+this+article+was%2C+in+fact%2C+clickbait.+I+desperately+miss+the+15+seconds+of+fame+I+would+get+by+having+my+articles+in+the+paper+and+I+figured+the+best+way+to+reach+a+wide+range+of+members+from+the+RB+community+would+be+to+lure+you+here+under+the+illusion+that+I+had+gone+insane+and+was+genuinely+shoveling+the+driveway+in+80+degree+weather.

Isabel Hughes

Please know that the image for this article was, in fact, clickbait. I desperately miss the 15 seconds of fame I would get by having my articles in the paper and I figured the best way to reach a wide range of members from the RB community would be to lure you here under the illusion that I had gone insane and was genuinely shoveling the driveway in 80 degree weather.

My time for reflection is no longer found as I half-consciously stare into the depths of my dorm room mirror and draw eyeliner on myself in the wee hours before my 10 a.m. class and instead creeps into this petty pace from day to day, often juxtaposed between my third and fourth mid-day snack of the hour. I have surrendered, and here I take a closer look at every wrinkle, blemish, and twinkle.

A year ago I was on the stage of the main gym quoting Drake’s God’s Plan as a final send off for RB’s class of 2019. The wisdom I wished to impart on everyone was that despite all of the hardships we may face, so long as you can face them with your broski’s, you’ll be just fine. The funny thing about measuring where you are today against where you were is that the magnitude of change will always be stunning. It’s the direction in which we let it stun us that remains to be important.

As a species, I would say that, objectively, humans are horrible when it comes to dealing with change. I mean, Americans were scared shiftless about changing to a measurement system based on the number 10 from one based on a man’s foot. Fetish much? I digress. Change has been abundant in the past few months and it seems that the only thing we can count on in our lives is uncertainty. Here I was thinking that this year I would just have to fend off the “freshman 15” but instead I’m dealing with the “COVID-19”.

Nine months ago I moved into Weston Hall in Champaign, Illinois. A week in, I had perfected the “Hi! I’m Isabel! I’m majoring in chemical engineering! What’s your name!?” elevator pitch given to potential friends to such a degree that I actually resented people who didn’t need to socialize and meet new people–it’s too tiring! What I’d give to be back sharing a bathroom with 50 of my closest friends…

We wear the mask that grins and lies. While we can shelve said mask when it doesn’t cover our scars, we still must live with all that it represents. Life is not necessarily about “living everyday as if it were your last” but more along the lines of “make choices that you would be down to overthink for, say, five months in quarantine.”

Four months ago I was chowing down on dining hall dinner surrounded by my friends. We had just finished a four-hour lab that kept my resting heart rate from dipping below 130bpm. I had totaled 15 hours of sleep on the week and while my body loathed me for the coffee to water ratio I had going, our conversation had entirely by spelling words with elements from the Periodic Table put an ear-to-ear smile on my face.

It’s funny how life has a way of keeping you in check. And it’s a good thing that we get knocked down every once in a while. Could you imagine how insufferable life would be if the world let the ego of Chad from Pi Kapps get any bigger? We are getting stunned into oblivion with the state of our world right now and the only thing that matters is what we choose to make of oblivion. No one has been here before, so we can either choose to be the fearless Superman of our dreams, or not. What mindset will we bring to the forefront when we are released from this time-out?

Day #49: Monday, May 4, 2020

The New Normal…

Tim+Buckley+goes+to+school+through+his+laptop+these+days.

Tim Buckley

Tim Buckley goes to school through his laptop these days.

For someone who is usually alright with a sedentary lifestyle, watching “Grey’s Anatomy” on Netflix all day and playing video games until an unholy hour, you’d think this global pandemic would be a gift from the heavens above. (Spoiler Alert: it’s not)

Let’s start from the top. In my opinion, this pandemic began when the major sports leagues decided to suspend their seasons. I was actually at the Chicago Blackhawks games when the NBA decided to suspend their season; that’s when I knew that we were in for a major societal change. The first major sign of that change to come was when I had gotten an email from the Illinois State University Teachers Education Department, (context: I am a History/Social Science Education Major, and was doing observations for my Introduction to Education class) saying that we were not allowed to go back to schools to observe teachers, which I had planned on doing with many teachers at RB the next day. That was when I knew we were in for the long haul, and I was absolutely terrified.

The first days of quarantine and the Illinois “Stay at Home” order can be described as a horror show. But from my perspective, I got to stay in my apartment all day, and some days I’d go to work. Staying at home and earning money: what could be better? That all changed when someone at the office I was going to be working at contracted the virus, and I became “non-essential” very fast. Okay, money earning is out the window… but sitting on my butt all day? That’s going to be a good time, online schooling can’t be that hard for a sophomore History Major and a Political Science Minor… right?

Welp. If you guessed, “Yes Tim, it will be very hard!” you’re a better guesser than I am! Trust me, I’m grateful I am able to earn credits from ISU and be safe from a global pandemic but come on. Some of your teachers don’t know how to set up YouTube on their personal laptop, and you now expect them to TEACH AN ENTIRE CLASS ONLINE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THEIR LIFE! I get it, times change fast and no one could prepare for it, but jeez louise! It’s made students’ lives a living nightmare!

Schoolwork and online classes have made up the majority of my time during this quarantine. I’d love to talk about all the papers that I’ve written over the past month, the sleepless nights, the 9:30 a.m. Zoom Lectures, the online exams that are easy as heck and the essays… oh god, the essays. Do you know how hard it is to write a 15-page research paper on British and German naval warfare during World War I without having access to resources, like a library or a professor’s office hours, which would be very helpful to the writing and creation of this paper? I’ve had to call my professor and beg for ways to find sources from his collection because I care deeply about my education. Always striving to be the best that I could be.

Now, what about the only times of day that I’m not focusing on schoolwork? I’ve learned how to bake a cake (not well), I’ve learned how to make brownies (kinda well), I’ve mastered the art of macaroni and cheese (except for when I forgot to put water in the cup—it was 2 a.m. and I was tired) and I’ve learned that cleaning is crucial to boosting the morale of someone who is trapped in their apartment all day. I’ve cleaned more during this quarantine than I’ve had in my entire life. I’ve also learned that I enjoy puzzles, which I would have never thought about before this.

But you know what I miss more than anything? I miss my friends, I miss my professors, I miss my residents and I really miss the late-night Taco Bell runs because the dining hall is closed and I have five dollars to spend. I cannot wait for this world to go back to normal once again. I’ve learned that FaceTime and Zoom is a valuable resource for staying up to date with my friends. Seriously though, if you’ve made it this far you obviously care about these daily articles, or you’re just really bored during your quarantine. Thank you for reading this far, and please stay home. Don’t be like those people who are protesting the stay at home orders in Michigan, or Minnesota, or North Carolina in the name of “freedom”. I get it, this sucks! But if you want this over with, STAY HOME! WASH YOUR HANDS! WEAR A MASK! Do it for those who can’t. Don’t kill granny to save the economy… or even to own the “libs,” you’ll regret it.

Day #48: Sunday, May 3, 2020

Bad News: The New Normal

Quinn+sits+at+island+table%2C+the+poster+girl+of+crabby+cabin+fever.

Photo taken by Kim Palermo

Quinn sits at island table, the poster girl of crabby cabin fever.

When I wake up in the morning, it’s to the sound of landscapers and leaf blowers below my window. Pollen manages to make its way through the cracked window on a rogue gust of wind, and I’m immediately doubled over sneezing like there’s no tomorrow. I blindly reach out for the allergy medication next to my bed and throw it into my mouth between sneezes. I had been expecting my allergies to begin soon, and had placed some meds there just in case this exact scenario happened. Spring is here, and it brought bittersweet feelings along with it. 

On one hand, that meant that the weather would be consistently warmer and that everyone’s lawns and parks would be exploding with greenery and newly sprouted perennials. On the other hand, my allergies were always terrible during the start of spring and social distancing meant that I needed to stay in seclusion. It was as if someone had made cinnamon rolls on a weekend morning, and then told me that I couldn’t have them. No matter what, though, I was determined to enjoy the season even if I was barred from some of its best parts.

With that examination of my feelings on spring having reached its conclusion, I lazily tumbled out of bed and closed the window before my room could be filled with any more pollen. Curse town planners and their preference for male trees! I would gladly take a few unsightly seeds and thistles on the ground over the feeling of spewing mucus out of my nose every few minutes. There is nothing I can do about people’s past mistakes now, though. I went downstairs and made myself an iced coffee while my parents played country music and cut up fruit for breakfast. While I can’t stand country music, I also didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. We had just finished the bulk of moving into a new house, and my mom was still stressed over movers and landscaping and figuring out how the washer and dryer worked. My dad was stressed about the WiFi being down; as a lawyer, he can’t do much without being able to communicate with others. Non-work related things didn’t stress him out as much, so I figured it was safe to complain to him about their choice in music as the Keurig finished brewing the last of my coffee. Though he ignored my (very justifiable) complaints over genre choice, he did pull out a seat for me at the island in the kitchen.

I sat down at the island and nursed my coffee while my parents chatted idly about painting the foyer in the future and what fruit we’d need to buy on the next grocery trip. Overall, breakfast was very normal. I feel like everything just feels normal now: quarantine feels normal, wearing a mask everywhere feels normal, and even the news of those invasive giant murder wasps from Asia feels normal. Bad news was just another part of my day: when you’re swimming in the middle of crazy all day long, a few extra gallons of it doesn’t seem like all that much.

After sipping on coffee and picking at fruit for some time, I took my dog out for a walk. I like to have a podcast going on during walks so I don’t feel bored, and lately I’ve been into history podcasts. It’s really cool how things that seem somewhat inconsequential can change the political atmosphere and future of a nation in substantial ways. For example, did you know that an election in 1946 changed the House and Senate majority from Democrat to Republican over something like meat shortages from price ceilings? Human behavior is wild. 

Anyway, after the walk I played a few offline video games to pass the time while WiFi was down. For the past few weeks I have been playing “Horizon Zero Dawn,” and I have been loving it. Same with “The Witcher 3;” my Gwent skills have never been sharper. 

Ultimately however, I felt bad wasting what was a perfectly nice day on something like video games. I ended up sitting on patio furniture outside and taking my Kindle to read a few old books that had been forgotten in the depths of my Kindle library. “The Grishaverse” by Leigh Bardugo has been re-read a few times at this point in quarantine, and I have yet to lose my appreciation for it. 

After a solid few hours of reading I went in to do some dishes and other chores. I like doing dishes. The routine of scrubbing the debris off the plate, the scalding hot water brushing my fingers- it’s all just really familiar. I appreciate that in a lot of household activities, actually. In a time where new things are introduced every day to society, housework is something you can turn to.

Once I was done with chores I went out and took a nap. I wish I could say there was more going on in my day, but unfortunately life is boring for everyone in my house except for my dog, who has been getting more attention and new stimuli than ever before. 

I can’t wait for quarantine to be over.

Day #47: Saturday, May 2, 2020

Construction is my new alarm clock

Well, I’m back again, and not much has changed. I still wake up, do schoolwork, and play video games all day. There is one thing that has changed though: Riverside started doing construction on my street. 

At first, this didn’t sound that bad, especially because my street has been in need of repair for a really long time. However, as every day passes, I realize how much I hate it. 

Every morning, I have to wake up to loud trucks and weird construction machines outside of my house. My bedroom is facing the street, so it’s louder for me than it is for anyone else in my family. Not only that but when they start working on my side of the street, we aren’t going to have access to our driveways. They’re making us park on a totally different block if we want to access our cars. 

I know what you’re thinking, there are bigger problems in the world right now, and I totally agree. It doesn’t make it any less painful waking up to the beautiful sound of CAT trucks outside though.

E-learning has been pretty painless for me surprisingly. Tons of people have been complaining about how it’s stressful and how there’s too much work, but I honestly don’t mind. Although challenging, I still haven’t had to spend tons of time on my work, and I haven’t had much stress. 

I’ve been doing zoom calls every Tuesday for my SAT prep, and although I thought it would be dumb at first, I actually kind of like it. It’s as close to face to face communication I get with someone that isn’t my family. Even if it is an SAT tutor, it’s nice to be able to talk to other people during this quarantine.

 

The weather is finally getting nice, and the trees are starting to blossom again, and I have never been happier about that. I’m able to go on rides in the car and get outside without having to wear a jacket or long sleeves. Even if the quarantine is supposed to go throughout May, I won’t complain as long as the weather stays nice. 

Overall, my quarantine has been filled with Xbox talks with my friends, construction every morning, and absolute boredom throughout at least half of every day. I’m super grateful for what I have though, and I’m just hoping this quarantine is over soon and everything can go back to normal.

Day #46: Friday, May 1, 2020

Infinite parallel universes. They are all I can think about lately.

We are all on a different timeline these days. And, at least for the first few months of this strange time in our world’s history, we all know what we were supposed to be doing. The list is infinite and covers the seemingly infinite number of activities we all used to occupy our time with: missed family vacations, missed sporting events, missed visits with far flung family members, missed dental appointments, missed concerts, missed comic book releases, and so on and so on.

For our frontline responders and essential workers, this timeline is likely a jumble of missed time with husbands, wives, children, parents, family and friends. The heroic acts, both large and small, these folks are taking on each and every day for the rest of us cannot be praised enough. To all of those who are working to keep us healthy, to those who keep us safe, and to those who keep us supplied, I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to publicly thank you for your bravery during this time. Thank you!

As a teacher, my mind constantly turns back towards my students. At Riverside Brookfield High School, I am the luckiest person in the world because I get the chance to work with my freshmen English students and my Clarion newspaper students each and every day. I am pained by all of the opportunities and missed moments for all of my students.

My daily routine these days is a far cry from my pre-pandemic existence as a teacher. After about a week of pushing for it, I was able to convince my wife to allow me to set up a folding table at the base of the stairs in our basement. Instead of my own classroom, these days I teach snuggled firmy between a cat scratching post and an American Girl Doll sweet treats food truck.

In this timeline I teach through my screen, which mostly means I track my students’ progress throughout the week. Instead of face-to-face interactions, I send a lot of emails and occasionally see my kids’ faces through Zoom. Let’s be honest: it’s not the same. We clearly took the socialization component of public schooling for granted before the coronavirus hit. I can see it in my students’ faces and hear it in their voices during our Zoom calls. My freshmen to my seniors share openly that they miss seeing their friends and their classmates. In one of my recent English Zoom calls, a freshman even said she missed seeing the people she never really talked to. This whole experience is likely harder on kids than we realize, and as teachers, part of our job is to help them cope as they navigate this new world.

At least once a week (if not more), I am fortunate to get to meet online with my Clarion newspaper kids, and it is both a comfort and a joy to see them, listen to them, and watch them continue to do their jobs. This timeline has us all in different physical locations, but they carry on with their work the same. I am so proud of them.

Finally, while I am concerned for all of my students and their well-being during this time, I am especially thinking of my senior Clarion kids, many of whom I have taught for most of their time at RBHS. I can miss a social interaction or two and be fine. But for my seniors, their timelines have shifted so dramatically… cancelled proms, uncertain plans for graduation ceremonies, shifted expectations for what “going to college” might mean or entail, and so on.

To Mia, Dan, Rahim, Seymone, Shalah, Madi, Casey, Taylor, Sarah, Kenna, Modear, Greg, and Diego: our staff and our school is lucky to have you. Though the end of your time as a student at RBHS does not look how you envisioned it does not mean that the time you have spent with us has been diminished in any way. I hope when you think back on this time you do not look back with regret but with fondness for the times when you were together. You all showed one another kindness and gave one another strength during the entirety of your time as Bulldogs, and especially as members of the Clarion. Do not think of the events you missed. Instead remember the times that you were present: Food Fridays, staff meetings, late night hard copy insanity, article brainstorming sessions that got way deeper than we initially intended, fake press conferences, and the other 1,000,000 small moments in between.

This timeline is different for all of us, and sure, we are all a little different as a result of it, but I hope that when this is all over we start to work towards building a world that has empathy and kindness and compassion and hope as its foundations.

Day #45: Thursday, April 30, 2020

Fallout 4 review

A+screen+cap+of+John+playing+the+game+Fallout+4.

John

A screen cap of John playing the game Fallout 4.

During my quarantine, I haven’t been doing much. I’ve been sleeping, I’ve been doing school work, and I’ve been playing Fallout 4. Although Fallout 4 came out in 2015, I never got around to playing it. I was always intrigued by the concept of the Fallout series; You get to explore the wasteland after, as the game puts it “total atomic annihilation.” I got the game for my birthday, which coincided with the first week of quarantine, and since then it has been the only thing I have played. 

I finished the main quest of the game only a couple of days, and haven’t slowed down since. I have put in close to 60 hours of work into two different save files, and have enjoyed learning more about the lore surrounding the game. 

Fallout 4 takes place in 2287, 210 years after the world fell apart because of a war between the United States and China. The main character gains access to a bomb shelter and is frozen, only to be thawed out to see their spouse killed and their baby kidnapped. The player is refrozen and wakes up later with only one objective; find their son Shaun. 

The game gave me a clear objective, and tells a story of revenge and confusion, as they try to find their son through the irradiated remains of the Boston area. Fallout 4 also supports modifications to the game even on console, meaning that once I was done with the main game I could potentially add a mod that allows me to shoot full cars out of some guns or just making the game looking a little bit nicer, like better-looking grass or making the water in the game look like it is completely clean, untouched by even modern society. 

Although I have thoroughly enjoyed playing Fallout 4 for the last month or so, I have found a few small things that annoyed me. I had to find a mod to fix the game because at some point the game had glitched, keeping me from finishing a quest. My other complaint is that the dialogue is often boring, having only four options for every piece of the conversation. 

Overall, I have really loved Fallout 4 so far, and I haven’t even discovered half of the locations in the game yet. The game has helped me distract myself from the current world pandemic, and I can tell that I could play this game for years and not see everything that it has to offer. It is no wonder that Fallout 4 won the Game Of The Year award from Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. 

Day #44: Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Quarantine diaries: Minnesota edition

A+view+from+Bella+Brick%27s+window+in+Minnesota+during+quarantine.

Bella Brick

A view from Bella Brick's window in Minnesota during quarantine.

Ah, yes. Springtime is finally here, and what better way to ring in the last leg of the school year than to finish school from home…with a foot of snow outside. My school in Minnesota has been in quarantine since mid-March and things are looking a little different up north. 

This quarantine was very shocking to me. I am aware of the severity of a pandemic, but the day before we started online school, I was sick and stayed home from school. (Upset stomach, don’t worry) So now, my gym clothes and shoes are rotting away in a locker for the rest of eternit— I mean quarantine. But if that’s my largest issue, I feel grateful. 

The beginning of quarantine was quite nice actually. The weather fluctuated between the high 50s and low 60s. A lot of hammocking ensued. In true Minnesotan fashion, the weather did a 180 and it was snowing less than 24 hours later. 

Minnesota governor Tim Walz does not think we will return to school this year, but every single teacher I have is convinced that we will be re-entering for the last two or three weeks. 

A typical day as a Minnesotan quarantiner goes like this:

School begins at 9:30. We have block scheduling that alternates every other day. On A days we attend odd numbered class periods and on B days we attend even numbered class periods. 

After looking out the window and contemplating why I moved to a snow infested land, I normally grab my school iPad and check my email to see if we have any google meets (a safer version of zoom). Between the first and third period, I normally run downstairs (at a pace that would rival Usain Bolt because we do not have passing periods) to grab some type of food. After heading back upstairs, I attend my class. If I’m being honest this consists of an hour of a teacher lecturing, followed by busy work. Not the most fun, but it’s better than having to give presentations every day. After school ends, I usually still have a good hour of homework to do. After that, it depends on the day. Some days, when I’m feeling particularly productive, I will workout. Other days I will watch Netflix until 2 am. This new “normal” has definitely been an adjustment, but I am happy to be home and safe. As cheesy and overused as it is, April distance brings May existence. STAY HOME!

Day #43: Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Animal Crossing has taken over my life

Peter+Vasquez%27s+%22Animal+Crossing%22+character+practices+proper+mask-wearing+on+the+island+he+shares+with+his+sisters.

Peter Vasquez

Peter Vasquez's "Animal Crossing" character practices proper mask-wearing on the island he shares with his sisters.

Let’s start this off right, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” I’m sure you’ve heard of the game. If not, then I’m assuming you’re roommates with Patrick. The games are awesome, I’m a huge fan of “Animal Forest” on the GameCube. I preordered “AC:NH” and let me tell you, if this whole corona-quarantine caused me to not get the game on March 20th then the world and I were gonna throw hands. 

From day one “AC:NH” was a challenge, my sister chose a really badly shaped island, and since she was the first resident and creator of the island her character was the Island Representative and for those that don’t play, it’s the person who can choose things like where to build bridges or stairs. They’re very important. She, however, doesn’t play the game as I do. I spent a total of 110+ hours on my account and 70+ on hers making our island as nice as possible.

One of the things the game has you do is get the game’s famous musician K.k Slider to play a concert at your island. To do so you’d need to get your island rating up to a 3-star. You can achieve this by planting flowers and adding to the overall scenery of the island. Completing this made me want to cry. 

Not acting as the island representative made things so much harder than they should have been. I don’t like time-traveling. The only thing I time-traveled for was to make my villagers move in without waiting. With that said, everything is a day-by-day playthrough, I have spent a total of 180+ combined hours on our Animal Crossing characters to bring our island to a 3-star. It took me 80 hours before I realized that even if I’m planting flowers and contributing to making the scenery nice using my character, that does not count towards the rating of the island. 80+ hours of work for nothing. 

Realizing this, I had to keep going back and forth from her account to mine just to make the island a 3-star. I did this for nearly a week. But get this… it gets better! I share a Switch with my siblings: my older sister Andrea, and my younger sister Isadora. I have never been so frustrated with someone more in my life. She is the island kook, The first day on the island she stole everything from my front yard and sold it. She decorated her yard in randomly dug holes and buried singular flowers. Not the plants themselves, just the individual flowers. She had numerous campfires surrounding one lawn flamingo. 

I’ve taken up playing Overwatch again, too. The competitive mode has sucked me in yet again. I’m proud of myself though I’m nearly in the top 500 of the country for the damage role on Xbox one. Other than playing games, my day-to-day activities include waking up to play “Animal Crossing,” eat, sleep, play games, and do schoolwork before I knock and then repeat the cycle the next day. 

I hope everyone has a safe quarantine and things go well for everyone. I can’t wait to hear how everyone’s quarantine is going. Also, add me on Switch. I would love to see people’s Islands. My friend code is SW-1994-1243-7218.

Day #42: Monday, April 27, 2020

Managing stress with "Animal Crossing: New Horizons"

Okay, before I say anything else, my Nintendo Switch tells me I have played Animal Crossing: New Horizons for 175 hours. With that, I’m sure it’s already pretty telling how my days during the lockdown have been going.

At the beginning of the semester, I was doing a really good job of managing my stress. I scheduled three out of my five classes on Monday, devoted my online class to Tuesday, and my last class of the week took place Wednesday morning. My time management skills were perfect. I was usually able to get all my assignments done for the following week the Tuesday before, so I could dedicate the rest of my week to my job and extracurricular activities.

Then, all of this happened. As my college transitioned to all online courses, I lost all of my time management skills that I have been maintaining throughout my three semesters at college. My current stress levels became unmanageable, and there was obviously no support or understanding from any of my professors (“I understand times have been tough, but here are three assignments for the week, and you should also be working on your final project.” x5 classes). I made the choice to change all my courses to pass/fail as a safety net to save my 4.0 GPA! Yes, I’m bragging, but only because it was far from a 4.0 when I was at RBHS. 

I’m still working from home on top of all the school stuff, but luckily, my bosses are far more understanding and supportive. I really miss my work friends more than anything else. I work at the Student Diversity and Inclusion office at my college (@ColumbiaChiSDI on Instagram!), and I manage the social media accounts as well as create digital illustrations. 

I also miss my friends from my extracurricular clubs and sports, especially because this was supposed to be my last semester with them before my senior-year schedule took over. I was on the e-board for my college’s Pride club and my college’s ballet team, and I have had a hard time realizing that it’s all over.

Zoom meetings are so awkward! They are weird and uncomfortable, and whenever my professors force everyone to have their microphones on, I hope they seriously regret it when they have to listen to my younger brother play “The Entertainer” on the piano over and over again. 

Also, as mentioned prior, I scheduled three of my classes on Monday. That means, from 9 AM to 6:20 PM every Monday, I’m stuck in Zoom meetings! If I knew this was going to happen, I definitely would have considered a different schedule! The best way I’ve found to pay attention; however, is to crochet while listening to my teachers. It honestly helps me focus on the content better than if I was just staring at the screen for those nine hours.

With all the uncertainties in the world, I have mostly been managing my stress by playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Occasionally, I have been going on bike rides with my family which is really helpful towards bringing me back to nature. I’ll also do funny oil paintings of old family photos to keep myself amused. Playing Final Fantasy Mystic Quest on the SNES is also a strong go-to!

I hope everyone has been staying safe and taking care of themselves. When this is all over, I hope we can all take time to heal as a community and catch up with the people we’ve all been away from because Zoom just doesn’t cut it.

Day #41: Sunday, April 26, 2020

Audrey+and+her+brother+Andrew+in+the+midst+of+their+coronavirus.

Audrey Pekny

Audrey and her brother Andrew in the midst of their coronavirus.

For two and a half wonderful months after graduating early from RB in December of this year, I worked as a nanny. It was the perfect situation for me, still having a consistent schedule, snuggling a bunch of cute babies, and making money for college. Then, of course, coronavirus happened. 

Like everyone else, my life did a total 360, and it was not fun. I spent a couple of days figuring out what I was going to do and not really thinking the virus was a big deal. I obeyed social distancing rules and only left my house to go to the grocery store, but personally thought everything would soon be fine. Then I got sick with the actual coronavirus, which really did a number on me. I spent quite a bit of time on my couch eating popsicles and sleeping, but after a couple of weeks I felt much better. 

Now that I am totally recovered and have been for close to a month, I have been taking daily walks with my brother Andrew, my dad, and my dog Doug (also known as Riverside’s biggest jerk). It is quite refreshing to get outside and walk a couple of miles a day as well as spending time with my dad who I couldn’t see for the three weeks I was sick since he doesn’t live with me and we didn’t want to spread it to him. 

I’ve also been getting quite a bit of work done for college in the fall and have finally found my soon to be roommates, which I am super excited about! Another fun part about getting ready for college is spending a whole lot of money. So far I’ve ordered shoes, clothes, and almost cried while spending close to $900 on a Macbook Air. 

 Although I graduated early, I was very much looking forward to prom, senior awards night, walking the stage for graduation, and so many other things that our class won’t get to experience. Realizing that none of that will happen continues to suck every day, but at the same time, I am trying to look at the bright side of everything. For a bit of time before graduating I was looking into study abroad programs for this semester. Had I been in a different country at this time, I may have been stuck there for who knows how long and wouldn’t have access to the healthcare I have here. Also, none of my nanny families got sick at all, which I am very thankful for. 

I spent a couple of hours with a friend this last weekend in our separate cars a parking spot away with our windows rolled down, which obviously was not typical, but felt normal and was very good for my mental health. I’ve also gotten to Zoom with friends which has been wonderful. 

I want life to go back to normal. I want to be able to go to college in the fall which is becoming more and more unlikely every day. All of this sucks, but I am trying to remind myself of how much worse it could be. My family and I are safe as well as my friends, so there isn’t much more I can ask for. Seeing our community come together during this time has been very encouraging and I cannot wait to see the celebrations that will happen when quarantine is over. 

Day #40: Saturday, April 25, 2020

College Life During Quarantine

If you asked me how I imagined my senior year of college to be, it would not be anything near what I’m currently doing today. In August of 2019, I was excited! I was going into my senior year at the University of Iowa studying Social Studies Education and History. In the Spring I would finally get to start my student teaching experience, something I’ve been looking forward to for the past four years. For the past two years, I’ve been living in a house with nine other roommates and couldn’t wait to be able to spend our last year together 24/7. We had a spring break planned for Cancun in March. My senior year looked like so much fun! Everything looked like things were finally falling into place, and that just maybe, I finally had my life together. I couldn’t wait to walk across the stage for graduation with my best friends after four long years of studying and hard work.

But then… March of 2020 happened. I remember sitting in my living room in Iowa City back in January talking to my roommates about “that virus that seems to be getting bad fast”, not really think much else about it. I couldn’t even imagine that my senior year could be cut short due to it. You don’t really plan for a pandemic to come and ruin your senior year. Now it’s getting towards the end of April and I’m sitting back at home with my two parents, attempting to apply for jobs in the midst of economic distress, making face masks, and missing my friends and my favorite city, Iowa City, and continuously washing the weeks worth of clothes I brought home for Spring Break only.

If I could, I’d fast forward through 2020, maybe even 2021 at this point. I’m a person who needs to be busy or at least be doing something, and COVID-19 has given me all but too much free time. Student teaching has been suspended since all Iowa schools are now closed, I have a single college class left and, of course, have completed all the homework assignments that were ever due, and lastly, my job is also closed back at school. So… you can say I have some free time. I was thrilled when Mr. Helgeson reached out asking if I’d want to write an article for The Socially Distanced Diaries since CLEARLY I have too much free time. At least all of this free time has given me the opportunity to get into shape and apply to ten- thousand jobs nationwide.

I feel selfish for even being the slightest bit upset that my senior year has been cut short. Thousands upon thousands are dying. People aren’t able to say their final goodbyes to loved ones, yet I’m over here throwing a pity party for myself because I didn’t get my final goodbyes at college. I keep telling myself that I’m allowed to feel those emotions, but again, there are bigger things happening around me. Bigger things that I’ll eventually be teaching to my own students one day.

Through times like this, it’s quite easy to be negative, but we’re in this together. We’ll get through this together, and who knows, maybe in some weird, kind of messed up way, this will make the world we live in a better place. But for now, I’ll continue to sit at home and hope for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Day #39: Friday, April 24, 2020

Kiera+lives+life+through+her+laptop+now+that+student+teaching+is+done+from+home.

Kiera Donnamario

Kiera lives life through her laptop now that student teaching is done from home.

If you thought the four years leading up to being a senior in high school were bad, just wait until you’ve spent four years waiting to be a senior in college. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Kiera Donnamario. I spent three of my four lovely years at RBHS as a member of the Clarion as both a staff reporter and the Public Relations Editor among other extracurriculars. After high school, I ventured out to the cornfields of Dekalb, Illinois to obtain my Bachelor of Arts in History and Social Studies Secondary Education from Northern Illinois University. My anticipated graduation date was May 9th, 2020, but, of course, plans changed. 

I have spent the last four years preparing for my final college adventure: student teaching. If you don’t know, student teaching happens during an education major’s final semester of college. They work one-on-one with a cooperating teacher (CT for short) who opens up their classroom to them. That student teacher eventually takes over and runs the show; attendance, grading, teaching, lesson planning. It’s all on them. It is, by far, the best part about being an education major. You get to really discover who you are as an educator and how you’ll one day run your own classroom. I’ve spent time in several different classrooms all across the state of Illinois but none will compare to my final classroom: B106 at Larkin High School. 

I spent the last seven months at Larkin working with my awesome CT teaching classes like Psychology, Sociology, and AP Gov. The first half of those seven months, I went one day a week but when student teaching began, I was there everyday from 7:15 to 3:15 (school starts at 7:40 and ends at 2:55) as it was basically my full-time job. While exhausting, the time I spent there both semesters was full of the most memorable experiences of my life thus far. 

March 13th, 2020 changed everything. My psych students (the class I taught four periods of), were just beginning our new unit on psychoactive drugs. That day, so many of my students were distracted, asking me questions about if I thought we’d be at school the following week due to the fast-spreading Coronavirus. Other schools in Illinois were closing due to it, so why wouldn’t we? “I don’t know, we’ll have to see what happens” was my response. At the end of 7th period, an announcement was made that all students needed to leave with their Chromebooks and chargers. This sparked more questions, and I did not have any answers. I left school that day and said goodbye to my CT and the other teachers in the department, saying I would see them on Monday. Wow, was I wrong.

After school that day I got the announcement that my district was closing until March 31st due to COVID-19 concerns. We were given the two weeks completely off (one of the weeks was spring break), so it worked out. My CT and I decided we would just pick up where we left off when school returned and it’d be no big thing.

Plot twist: it was a big thing.

Next thing we knew, school was postponed until April 7th. Then April 13th. Then April 30th. Postponing turned to cancelled, and that was that. 

We began our version of e-learning, distance learning, on April 1st, trying to piece back together what we left in the school. Our students don’t have access to their textbooks at home, which forces us to get creative with planning. So far, it’s been pretty successful. Psychology is a subject that many of them enjoy (as it’s an elective), so they like doing the work for it. My CT and I are in contact regularly, and I will be remaining a co-teacher until the end of Larkin’s school year.

Everything surrounding distance learning though, has been a nightmare. My sister is a COVID-19 survivor (see Day #37’s entry). On top of taking care of her while she was sick, I am still trying to graduate. One of my program requirements, as well as a requirement to become an educator in Illinois, is completing and passing the edTPA, a content specific performance based assessment for teacher candidates’ to determine whether or not they are ready to teach. All of the prep work had been done (i.e. video recording myself teaching, the lesson plans, etc), but now it came down to writing the whole thing out (3 different writing tasks, each from 6-9 pages long). My NIU teacher besties and I were supposed to meet to do it together over our spring break but it was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Anyone who has obtained an educator licensure in the last few years will tell you edTPA is terrible. It is stressful, and if you don’t answer their prompts in a way that really proves your reasoning and explanation, you don’t pass. Not to mention, it’s $300 to just submit it. Doing it on my own with virtual support from my friends and NIU advisor while attempting to take care of my sister with my mom and plan for distance learning with my CT was a nightmare. Oh, and don’t forget applying for jobs. I felt like I was pulled in seven different directions at once. I submitted a few weeks later than I wanted to because of it, but it be like that sometimes. 

As of right now, I am anxiously awaiting my edTPA results (stay tuned for April 30th), applying for jobs, and spending the rest of my newfound free time playing “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” on the Nintendo Switch. I’m still going to graduate in May, but the ceremony has been postponed until August (for now). As for student teaching, my program wraps up on April 24th, but I am extending my virtual stay to not miss out on time with my students, even if it’s at a distance. On my unofficial last day back in March, I told one of my students I was scared it’d be the last time I’d see her. Who knew my biggest fear would come true.

I hope you all are taking this seriously. COVID-19 is not a joke. It has taken away so much from not only me, but my friends, my sister, and other seniors (high school and college) everywhere. If I can teach y’all three things, it’d be to stay home, wash your hands, and wear a mask if you have to go out. It’s that simple. 

Day #38: Thursday, April 23, 2020

Quarantine

Day+%2338%3A+Thursday%2C+April+23%2C+2020

For someone who generally loves nothing more than to sit on the couch and do absolutely nothing, you’d think this time would be a blessing. 

It’s not. 

The first few days of quarantine, I was kind of relieved to have some downtime. I was working 30 or more hours a week, had just put my cat down, and was commuting to and from school every day. I was ready to embrace a little rest and relaxation. As I acclimated to the new normal, I sought out various hobbies to keep me occupied, and had no shortage of Netflix shows to entertain me well into the early hours of the morning. 

But, when confined to the same space for so long, there’s only so much you can do before running out of ideas and energy. What were once productive days filled with reading, experimental baking, writing and art projects became week after week of staring at the ceiling letting existential thoughts flood my mind. Suddenly, I had no energy. I could barely manage to make myself breakfast in the mornings, let alone tackle a massive house project like people all over social media have been doing to stay busy. It just wasn’t practical. 

When I realized how miserable I was, I started to feel guilty about my lack of energy and productivity. If I have few responsibilities other than school, why am I not making the most of this time? Am I just being lazy? Is everyone else feeling the way I do? I knew I should be doing something, but I just couldn’t. I felt far too foggy, unmotivated and exhausted. 

But the reality of the situation is that it is so unprecedented that nobody knows how to feel, and people will cope in different ways. For some, that looks like catching up on to-do lists, while for others it simply means sleeping until 2 p.m just to take a nap at 4 (yes I really do this).

I’ve now reconciled with how I feel—tired, sad and anxious—and take each day at a time. The upside is that I’ve had ample time for introspection and self-reflection, and have come to some important conclusions about myself: I now know that a great deal of what brings me happiness on a day-to-day basis is often found in the plainest of activities. But once those activities become inaccessible to you, you miss them like crazy. Never again will I take for granted the simple pleasures of getting coffee with a friend, commuting to school, and even working my job. And those are the exact things I look forward to doing once again, and that keep me afloat during these times.

Day #37: Wednesday, April 22, 2020

I literally had the coronavirus...

I’m going to keep it very real with anyone reading this. The Coronavirus is NOT a joke. I am 17 years old and never in a million years would I have thought that I would be hit by the virus that is basically controlling our 2020 year. 

That day when RB announced we would be out of school for a while, I was extremely sad because that was a few weeks of my senior year that was being taken away. But I watch the news. I could see that things with COVID-19 were slowly getting worse and it was hitting closer to home than I thought. 

The first week of e-Learning I wasn’t too worried about Covid. I had a schedule that week. I would wake up, shower, hang out with my boyfriend, come home, and do my school assignments. At some point in the week, I started waking up feeling drained, but I always just thought it was because I didn’t sleep well that night. I didn’t think much of it until the next week. 

The weekend before spring break, I began to feel a little better. I wasn’t feeling as drained and I assumed it was because I was sleeping much better than before. I was following everything the CDC said about washing your hands and not touching your face, etc. I only left my house when my parents sent me out to get what we needed due to the shelter-in-place that was coming. 

A few days later, the first day of spring break, something felt off. I spent most of my day in bed because my body was feeling drained again. I had no appetite which was weird because I hadn’t eaten at all that day. I finally forced myself to eat and after I had done so, I felt warm, but I was having cold chills like you couldn’t even imagine. I took my temperature- 99.5. A low grade fever. This is when I started worrying. 

The first week, my family and I thought it was just the stomach flu. I had the constant feeling of throwing up all week, but nothing ever happened. By the end of spring break, I was in so much stomach pain that I had to throw up. I couldn’t handle it anymore. Let’s just say that night I slept on the bathroom floor using toilet paper as a pillow. 

The second week came and I was feeling better. I was beginning to eat small things again such as crackers, eggs, strawberries.. But then it took a turn for the worse. My mom had made me a doctor’s appointment to get an official opinion on what I could have had. 

The result of that doctor’s appointment made me realize that COVID-19 wasn’t a joke. (Which is totally ironic because I got diagnosed with COVID-19 on April Fool’s Day). This was early on when tests were hard to come by so I wasn’t able to officially get tested because they had to save tests for the health care professionals. 

That second week hit 10x harder than the first week. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t drink anything. I couldn’t even take a shower without feeling like I was going to pass out from standing up. 

In the third week, I finally reached a point where I was ready to eat and that’s how everyone knew I was getting better. I didn’t fully have an appetite, but I was ready to eat. My sister got me Chick-Fil-A and I was so happy to finally be eating real food again. It took me over 20 days to even feel like myself again. For anyone who knows me well, they know I have an attitude towards almost anything and once I started showing that attitude, I knew the worst was over. 

All I want everyone to keep in mind is that Coronavirus is not a joke and everyone needs to be smart and safe about their choices. Stay home. Don’t leave your house if you don’t have to. Take all the precautions necessary to keep yourself safe because I never want anyone to go through what I had to go through. 

Day #36: Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Not much has changed . . .

Michael+Fanta+watches+a+video+while+playing+video+games.

Michael Fanta

Michael Fanta watches a video while playing video games.

Confinement life has been pretty interesting to adapt to. It has not been the most difficult change to adapt to, because in general it is not like I was going out all the time. However, there have been some difficult things to adjust to. 

Unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to get a haircut while barbershops were still open. I was already due for one and my hair was getting pretty long, so at this point I’m sporting a head of hair that is quite a bit longer than average for me. This may not be a big deal, but it is annoying. Now I have to make more of an effort with my hair and getting sweaty hair in your eyes when you’re running is never fun.

Other than my overdramatic hair problems, living in quarantine has not been too bad. Transitioning to online college has actually been pretty simple. Teachers have been very accommodating and helpful. All of our assignments are posted online along with weekly schedules, and attending lectures just requires logging into our virtual classroom. I will not lie: I have attended quite a few early morning lectures in bed. In some ways, I might miss online college when it is over. It has been a nice change of pace.

I have been engaging in a lot of casual activities to keep myself entertained during confinement. I have been watching a lot of Netflix and Disney+. The new season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars has been a great source of entertainment and enjoyment. Playing video games is, of course, another thing I have done to pass the time. I usually play them while talking with friends, and it has been a great way to stay in touch while also having a lot of fun. Some of the games I have been playing are Rocket League and Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I have basically been playing whatever I feel like playing when bored, or whatever my friends feel like playing when we are on and talking with each other.

Seeing family less has been pretty odd. I was not a person who was going out all the time to do things, so the switch to being more isolated has not been too difficult for me. However, seeing the rest of my family less for dinner or anything else has definitely been one of the weirder parts of this. It’s not that not seeing them is that big of a deal, but it was just something so regular and consistent in my life that it not happening now makes life feel a bit off. 

 Working out is another thing I have continued to do while confined. Though a great thing for me, my parents are not always a fan because I sometimes choose midnight to run on the treadmill. All of this time, yet I still procrastinate running until late at night. Some things never change.

 While I have enjoyed certain aspects of confinement, I do hope that it ends soon. I really want to get a haircut and being able to see more of my friends and family in-person would be great. I will miss online school though. Sleeping later and watching lectures in bed is fantastic. It has spoiled me for sure. However, there is simply not enough to do here in the long-term. I want to go outside and see people and do things, so hopefully this gets solved quickly. As a final positive thought, I must say I am thankful that Avengers: Endgame came out April of last year instead of this one. If it got delayed due to this pandemic, I think I would have lost my mind.

Day #35: Monday, April 20, 2020

Eat, sleep, NHL 20, repeat.

Bridget takes a nap during quarantine.

Bridget Maher

Bridget takes a nap during quarantine.

As much as I love the idea of being able to do absolutely nothing, I hate being forced to. Having to live at home, being stripped of the freedoms of being away at college, I hate it. It has gotten to a point where I am running out of things to do, watch, play, hence my appearance on this container article. So here is a breakdown of how I have spent my time in quarantine. 

I was on spring break when I got the email from my school that I had to come pack up my dorm and move out. I was extremely heartbroken that my freshman year was cut so short, and since I am not returning there next year I was unable to say a proper goodbye to all the great friends I had made down there. Ever since then I have been taking classes online through the university, which have proven annoying for I have little motivation to do any of them. I am not getting the same attention from professors, office hours are nonexistent, and the courses I am currently taking require a lot of hands on interaction. This has sent me into an angst regarding getting my tuition back, because online courses cost a fraction of going to a private Jesuit university. My schoolwork has consisted of writing essays, watching pre-recorded lectures, and a lot of drawing. Oddly, it is a lot more than I really had to do when I was actually on campus. 

Besides doing work for school, I have been spending my time reminiscing on the time when NHL Hockey games were live. Nothing has been able to fill the hole in my heart that is typically spent watching my boys Alex DeBrincat and Auston Matthews rough it up on the ice most nights. Stanley Cup Playoffs should be going on right now, but instead I am watching replays of past 2019-20 season games and just pretending like I hadn’t seen them before. It can be very exhilarating watching the same Toronto Maple Leafs vs San Jose Sharks game you saw a couple weeks ago and forgetting your Maple Leafs lose it 2-5. This has probably been the hardest thing for me. Although I did get a copy of NHL 20 for my birthday, and learning and perfecting my skills has been keeping me quite occupied. I have never been so invested in video games until all this. I’ve found myself inhabiting Netflix a lot more lately. I discovered a show called Community that I have not stopped watching since first observing it. I finished eight seasons of The Walking Dead as well.  

I have accomplished a lot since quarantine started though. I have mastered the art of cooking breakfast foods, and through this discovered that I can make a mean potato pancake. I’ve learned how to cook omelettes the way I like them. I found out how to make hash browns from scratch, it really never clicked in my mind that it was just grated potatoes. At my school there was a Jamba Juice on campus, and since I am not there, I have also been trying out smoothie recipes. I have also become a hairstylist, having cut my own bangs, hair, and have dyed it multiple colors within the last month. Right now it’s black with white bangs, haven’t touched it in almost two weeks now.

Working out has proven an obstacle. At campus I would usually be in the recreation center that was right next to my residence hall as much as I could. Now that gyms are closed I have been at a loss, and have been feeling even more like a potato than usual. I have been doing Just Dance for the Wii occasionally, but it doesn’t hit the same when you’re not a seventh grader in gym class. I appreciate that quarantine is limiting my spending on fast food though. That has had both fiscal and health benefits lately. My sleep schedule has been wack. One day I’ll find myself awake at four in the morning, and sleep until twelve. While another day I’ll be out at six, and wake up at four. My average sleep time, according to my beloved Fitbit, is around 9.5 hours a day. That is just above the recommended amount of sleep people should get. I mean it’s at least better than the three hours I would get while at school.

I do miss the real world. I miss all my friends, I miss my college, and I really look forward to the day that everything goes back to normal. Especially since this is the first year I have had to celebrate my birthday without my friends or family around. At least I have my cat. On a serious note though, don’t be selfish. Stay at home. This is not a time for seeing your friends or window-shopping at Target. For someone who usually goes to target twice a day, I haven’t been in two weeks. If I can do that, so can you. Wash your hands, stay away from others, we are all in this together.

Day #34: Sunday, April 19, 2020

@ RB I miss you girl

Day #34? It feels like day #6389. At this point I don’t even know how to describe what my life is like during this quarantine; it’s just one big cycle of nothing really. The days all blur together and I have serious cabin fever. Typically I wake up late afternoon and stay up until the birds start chirping and it’s light outside.

As for occupying myself, during the week I’ve just been trying to keep up with all of the E-Learning assignments which has been overwhelming to be honest. I know this seems like a no-brainer but learning online is NOT the same as learning in a classroom setting. My reason for stating the obvious is that I’ve realized how much we (students) take for granted: hands-on/in-person learning, the well thought out lesson plans teachers prepare for us, tutoring offered by the school, quiet study locations, emotional/mental support from faculty, face to face communication, etc. Due to the lockdown, all of that has been reduced to links and Google Documents. 

Furthermore, it’s just so hard to stay motivated enough to complete homework assignments these days especially since we now know we’re officially not physically returning to RB for the rest of the semester. Not to mention, it doesn’t feel like I’m learning anything, just completing assignments to get them done. While some students love the idea of just doing assignments for completion, the idea scares me especially with AP tests right around the corner. 

Of course my lack of motivation is no one’s fault, I have the cabin fever and social disconnect to thank for that. My teachers have been trying super hard to help their students as much as they can during this troubling time. 

As for the weekends, my breath of fresh air, I get to take a break from E-Learning and fall into the endless circuit of Netflix shows, Disney movies, and YouTube videos. 

A healthy distraction for me during quarantine has been college. I currently am undecided on which university I’ll be attending but merely pondering my choices, filling out scholarships, and planning for the future has given me a bit of hope and has shined a bit of light on this dreary situation. It gives me something to look forward to. That being said, with the current progression of the coronavirus and the daily news updates, the possibility of universities starting late or an online first semester terrifies me. Putting a pause on my college experience would just add salt to the wound prom’s cancellation already created. 

All of this being said, I have also used this time of isolation to reflect and think about things on a worldly scale. Black and Brown communities are being disproportionately infected; the working class and the impoverished don’t have the same access to treatment or tests as the rich do; the economy could possibly face a devastating collapse; not everyone can afford to miss work for months; Black people in China are being discriminated against and racially targeted; some tenants aren’t given leeway with their payments. This is a sad time we’re living in and the intensity of it all just doesn’t seem real. The least we could do, though small and simple, is stay inside and wash our hands.

Day #33: Saturday, April 18, 2020

Totally untriumphant times...

Alexis's frog keeping her company while quarantining.

Alexis's frog keeping her company while quarantining.

I’ve started to completely lose track over time, what time even is it? When was the last time I’ve seen other life besides family or people sheltered in their cars beside mine on the road? The past 4 weeks or so has been quite a bumpy ride. Even as an introvert who originally spent a lot of time in her room, there were still sources of happiness outside of my front door and beyond. 

To be quite honest, this isn’t fun and I’m sure that’s no surprise to anyone else. My days have consisted of the same material and events as the day before, today had been no different than the others so far. I woke up at around 6 am before e-learning hours to take my small angry, stubborn dog for his morning walk in the cold. After many attempts to get him to walk as I’m being blown around in the cold morning air, he sits there admiring the fresh grass with little attempt to speed up the process. I come to realize my dog is having a more zen time than I could ever have at this point and it makes me jealous that he could be in the house every single day and just be so fine with it.

Later in the day now, I’ve spent over four hours painting to the point where all my watercolor paper has run out. I’m nearing the brink of insanity sometime soon and just painting everything in my room with acrylics to a point where my room has begun to resemble a poorly done art museum.  It’s now what I believe to be 5 pm? I don’t know, the day is so sluggish I barely have the motivation to check. Covered in all sorts of colored paint, I leave my room for the first time in hours to spend time with my family. As much as I absolutely despise this whole quarantine situation, I’ve come to notice that it has its perks when it comes to the amount of time I get with these people, watching maybe a couple weird movies or documentaries like Tiger King each day. You never realize how much it means to you until now. I imagine what it’s like being alone during a time like this. It’s upsetting that people can’t just use some soap and wash their grimy hands.

Nearing the end of the day, it’s about 8 pm and everyone has retreated to their rooms. I use this time the same way as a routine and practice self-care followed by the maintenance of my aquatic frog tank. They’re my two little roommates who don’t mind watching my breakdowns or staring at me while I overeat and paint a bunch of nonsense, well I don’t think they really have much of a choice, they don’t have eyelids.

Yes, this is all very difficult and I know for certain these are very rough times, but in the end I know it’s all gonna be okay with baby steps. Signing out with love.

Day #32: Friday, April 17, 2020

My socially distanced life is a double-edged sword

Staying inside all day isn’t really a new experience for me. It’s how I spend a lot of my summer break time, so adapting to the quarantine lifestyle hasn’t been anything earth-shattering. Most days, I’m waking up around 7:30 to 8:00 AM, but then I fall back asleep because I’m too dang tired from staying up late the night before. This is all because my body still thinks I have to force myself out of bed for school on weekdays. I’m pretty much always awake again before 11 AM, so I can sign in for daily attendance before I fall back asleep because I’m still drowsy. It’s only by the afternoon do I actually stay awake, and I may not even bother getting out of bed for another hour or two.

So yeah, quarantine has thrown my entire sleep cycle for a loop, but that always happens every summer anyways. The only difference now is it could affect me more than my health if I don’t bother getting up until 3:00 PM, since all my schoolwork is now homework to me, and I have a habit of getting a late start on homework. I will then typically go downstairs, take my dog for a short walk, have breakfast, and go back upstairs to play games or watch YouTube. Riveting, I know. I get around to schoolwork anytime between 7 PM and 9 PM, and after it’s all done, that means more time for the former two activities.

To go back to E-Learning, right now it just doesn’t feel like school to me. For others who maintain a healthy sleep schedule without the obligation of attending school in person, it’s probably been pretty fine. But I have almost no motivation to attend any Zoom meetings unless it’s expressed to me that they’re mandatory or at least critical for my class, mainly because my sleep schedule just doesn’t enable me to wake up for a class meeting that often, where I would probably only retain half of what I would learn if I was fully awake.

For some students, this model still offers them resources for them to learn and keep up with their studies. I just do not find this method as rewarding or engaging as the system we use outside of a time of pandemic, but maybe it’s just because I’m not used to it yet. I’ve had far more time to adapt to normal school life, so it’s only natural that this change would rattle me. Still, the consistency normal school affords is something E-Learning can’t match. An environment conducive to learning is something normal school provides much easier, and E-Learning just can’t deliver that for nearly as many people, which is probably my biggest gripe with it.

Enough about that stuff, this isn’t just going to be my complaints about E-Learning. Social distancing has offered some positives too. It’s given me plenty of time to play through “Persona 5 Royal,” which finally released in English on March 31st this year. The amount of time I’ve already put into the game is a little insane, considering this is an enhanced version of a game I already own and have invested an obscene amount of time with. I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere around 70 hours in, and I’m having a blast finding out everything new about the game and enjoying all the stuff that made the original amazing.

Even though I prefer single-player experiences, I’m still making an effort to spend time with my friends, even if I can’t see them in person. When “Persona 5 Royal” launched, I decided I would share my first session of gameplay with a couple of my friends who also very much enjoyed the original version. This was via Discord, a service that lets you chat with friends and countless other people online via text and calls, and it’s centered around gaming, but can be used for a wide variety of purposes.

A good friend of mine and I would often hang out at my house on Fridays after school, which is when we’d play some kind of game together. Even though that isn’t possible now, I can still talk with them over Discord and share my screen and sound with them while I play a game, so we both get to experience it together. I’ve also developed new interests in a few more games instead of sticking to series I already know, so quarantine has given me the opportunity to branch out.

I don’t think my socially distanced life has been significantly worse, but I’ve certainly fallen out of the balance that I used to keep when I was going to school normally. It kind of feels like the planet has stopped turning, in a way, or at least slowed its spin down a lot. Once the world can safely move on from COVID-19, I’ll have to start back up, too, so I can’t let this time of rest make me complacent. I’ll be graduating this year, and with college ahead of me, it only gets tougher for me from here on out. I just hope I can prepare myself for the future, even when time has seemingly stopped.

Day #31: Thursday, April 16, 2020

New day, same quarantine

Staff+Reporter+Greg+Boswell+playing+NBA+2K+on+the+Xbox+One.

Greg Boswell

Staff Reporter Greg Boswell playing NBA 2K on the Xbox One.

Quarantine has made me realize how much we all take school for granted. Staying inside not really able to do anything is a weird feeling, and as each day passes by, it still doesn’t feel right to me. 

My day starts around 10:45 AM, waking up, signing in for my attendance, looking at what work I have to do for the day, then going back to sleep for two more hours. Once I wake up again, I start working on my work for the day. Once I complete my work, I eat dinner then go on Xbox, which I proceed to play Madden and NBA 2K for hours upon hours. I probably play for too long, and that statement is backed up by me falling asleep at 5 AM every “night.”

I didn’t really realize how serious this quarantine was until school was cancelled again even longer. I realize how many things I took for granted in my own life; and how much different my life is now with quarantine. On the off chance I do go out, the vibe outside feels completely different than what it did before Coronavirus hit the U.S. 

Although quarantine hasn’t been my favorite time, I have made it the best I can make it. I have started spending more time with my family and having more quality conversations with them. My friends and I talk more than we did before, we call almost every night, talk about our day, and just have a fun time talking with each other.

Once this quarantine is over, I feel like I will look at everything a bit different, not take things for granted like I used to do. But until then, I will be chilling inside throwing touchdowns in Madden, and popping threes in NBA 2K.

Day #30: Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The many advantages of extra free time

During this uncertain time, many things have changed in daily life. My daily life has changed drastically as I’m able to do more things that I wouldn’t have been able to do while at school. I’m able to do things at my pace and my schedule is flexible. I can do homework in the morning or the afternoon. I prefer getting it done right away in the morning and the great thing is that I’m able to get it done relatively fast. If I were in school, I would have to deal with the extra time sitting around when I could be at home playing video games, watching movies, or spending time with my family. 

On the weekdays, I do homework and then I watch a show or movie. I’ve been watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars and I just finished La Casa de Papel (Money Heist). I’m still watching Clone Wars as there are many seasons including the new seventh season. I’m almost done with those episodes. With Money Heist, I was able to finish all 4 seasons within a matter of a few days. My parents really enjoyed watching that show and I figured with them talking about it a lot, I would hop on the hype train and watch it. Something that I wouldn’t have been able to do while being at school.

After a few episodes, I’ll get on the Xbox and play some Rainbow Six Siege. This is one of my favorite games ever and with the new given free time, it’s allowed me to rank up more faster than I’ve ever imagined. The main game mode on there is called “ranked.” Essentially what happens is there are  teams pitted against one another (5v5). The players choose their operators which are equipped for the most part with a unique weapon setup and ability to use during the match. The matches are intense and very skill-based because if you’re fooling around, you’re not going to win any matches. There’s a rank system in there, with the highest being “champion” rank. Even I haven’t been able to reach that rank yet. 

For the weekends, I do everything relatively the same except for the homework part unless there’s some project due Monday that I haven’t started to work on yet. 

While the quarantine has its advantages, I hope to get back to school and be able to see friends and teachers again. If that were the case, it would mean everything would be back to normal. 

Day #29: Tuesday, April 14, 2020

A day in the life of an essential worker

A+meme+representing+Ashley%27s+life+right+now.

A meme representing Ashley's life right now.

“Es·sen·tial: adjective

 absolutely necessary; extremely important.” 

(From google dictionary)

 

That is the first thing I see when I type the word essential into the Google Search bar and press enter. Seems like a pretty simple and straightforward definition, no? Just four words that fit together and make total sense. 

So what does this have to do with anything, you may ask? Well, the first thing you should know is: yes, I am an essential worker, and yes, I am working four to five days a week in the middle of a pandemic. 

While it is not as life-threatening as working on the front lines or in the hospital as a doctor, nurse, or first responder, it is still just as scary being out in public surrounded by people whom you know nothing about. Going to work in a grocery store that hundreds of people visit every day means not knowing where people have been or if they are sick or not. It means you have to constantly worry about catching the virus but not showing symptoms, then going home to spread it to your family and loved ones, and having it affect them. 

Well, what do I do to keep myself and my co-workers safe during this life crisis? Honestly, a LOT. 

The first thing I do when I get to work is to punch in using our finger scanner which is COVERED in germs since no one remembers to wipe it off through the day. After I’ve touched that germ campground, I go to the bathroom and wash my hands, making sure I wash them everywhere for at least 20-25 seconds (and no, I do not sing when I do this). When I leave the bathroom, I grab the handle with my sleeve because once again, no one wipes it down. 

Yes, Mariano’s (yes, I am exposing where I work, do not come for me) provides us with latex gloves to protect our hands. Yes, we have to change them after we use the bathroom or if we sneeze into them. No, of course, they do not fit me, which results in me having to wear scrunchies tight enough to keep them in place and make my wrists itch. We are not provided masks; many of my coworkers tie bandanas to their faces to protect themselves, many do not. The most annoying part of all this? I am fully aware I can not touch my face. I am constantly reminding myself and have it stuck in my head. Yet, my body rebels against me and my entire face itches. Every. Dang. Day. 

Now when it comes to me working, I have to bag everyone’s groceries. Yes, I hate the paper bags but luckily we have not been using them for a while due to the fact that the virus could supposedly spread from the bags. The same thing goes for reusable bags; if someone comes to my register with them, I need to step aside and let them bag for themselves. 

After a customer leaves, the cashier and I take our bottle of cleaning spray or disinfecting wipes, and clean the ENTIRE register. Both belts are sprayed and we wipe down the whole thing, not just one portion of it. Then the counter, where we have plastic walls to protect the workers and the silver countertops where we usually place the paper bags. And lastly, the card reader, where we wipe off the screen, the keypad, the pen, and the counter used for signing checks. 

Reminder: we have to do all of this after EVERY SINGLE CUSTOMER! It is super annoying and frustrating doing this every five minutes for the entire shift. But it is even more infuriating when people walk right up, completely IGNORING the signs on the floor telling them to wait, and throw their stuff on the counter. Please just do not be disrespectful and act like the rules do not apply to you because news flash, they do! And also, STOP leaving your disgusting and dirty gloves and wipes in the cart or on the ground. You are an adult, act like it and clean up after yourself. 

That is my entire work routine until this pandemic is over. While it may change or shift depending on how we can keep everyone safe, the emotions of fear I experience practically never change. There are some days when my co-workers and I are in good spirits laughing, talking, and smiling. But the dark reality always comes back to us after the little moments of happiness wear off.  Lots of people say, “You are so lucky to still have a job!” Yes, I have a job that is not working from home, but while you are sitting in your safe living room, I am out here in this germ fest because I am considered “essential.” I am “essential” because I am needed to put people’s groceries in a bag to make money. I am risking my health because “essential” means absolutely necessary, therefore, I am absolutely needed to be out surrounded by germs just to put items in a bag so I can make a quick buck to help support myself. So please stop saying that and please do not leave your house unless you really need food for your family. 

STAY HOME! 

Day #28: Monday, April 13, 2020

Babysitting is the highlight of my day

Quarantine for me has been quite honestly unbearable. Having to stay inside and not being allowed to see anyone but family is driving me insane and the loads of school work isn’t making it any easier. The only thing that is getting me through this hard time are the days that I babysit. Babysitting is really nice for me because it gives me a chance to get out of my daily routine of waking up at 10 am, doing e-learning, then going back to sleep.

When I babysit I usually get up at 7 am so I have enough time to shower, eat breakfast, get some coffee, and be at their house by around 8 am. Then when I get there, I start to work on e-learning while the kids finish eating breakfast and get ready for the rest of the day. The kids usually finish their e-learning around 12 pm so they eat lunch while I finish up whatever I’m working on.

For the rest of the day, I try to hang out with them. We usually go outside to play or we play a game on the Switch, which they usually enjoy. Their parents get home around 3:30 pm and then I go home.

In all honesty, the rest of my day is pretty boring. I usually finish my e-learning, then go outside and play with my dogs. After that, I eat dinner and just relax for the rest of the night.

Quarantine has been a really difficult time for myself and others. What makes it even more difficult is seeing other people hanging out and disregarding the shelter-in-place order. It is so important to just stay at home during this uncertain time, no matter how hard it is. The truth is: if you want to have a summer, stay at home. 

Day #27: Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter in quarantine

On a typical Easter Sunday, I wake up early anticipating the day ahead of me.  Usually we have our family over for a big dinner and just to spend time together. Not this year. Because of the quarantine we can’t have our family over like we usually would. We really haven’t done anything like normal. Usually my street is filled with cars of people going to visit their families. The street is empty.  There’s no kids out, no people, and no smell of all of the food being cooked. It feels like every “normal” quarantined day.

Today I woke up around 12:30, nothing like previous years.  There’s no big dinner this year. The only thing that was normal about it, was that we dyed eggs.  We aren’t able to see my grandparents because we want to keep them safe, and even my brothers and sister in law aren’t coming.

I understand that we need to keep them all safe, but Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays because of being able to see all of the family that we don’t see on a regular basis. This year, nothing is the way that it should be.

The rest of my day consisted of painting, like I have been doing every other day. Then we had a small dinner, and then I was off to work, which is honestly another thing that makes no sense to me.  An ice cream place that is still open right now. Usually on Easter, or any other holiday all businesses are closed. I guess this year, since nothing is normal and they figured that people wouldn’t be having their normal dinners, they decided to keep them all (for the most part) open.  

I really wish that everything was back to normal. I miss my friends and family. I miss having a schedule. But, I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy!

Day #26: Saturday, April 11, 2020

A new distraction

Billy%27s+simple+addition+equation+for+profit.

William Kraft

Billy's simple addition equation for profit.

These days do not flow well, at this point my hours are just an endless stream of time strung together by the threads of a screwed up sleep schedule, minimal human interaction, a wobbly eating pattern, and a high apathy for the sameness that I call a schedule. Many times I hide away in my room giving my time to the games in my repertoire that give me solace in my bleak itinerary for my waking hours. Today, however, something happened. There was a shift in the schedule, a change of pace, a crater in the path I have walked everyday for the past few weeks, and that change was “Stardew Valley”.

If you don’t know, “Stardew Valley” is a popular farming simulator game in which you move to a small town called (surprisingly enough) Stardew Valley after the passing of your grandfather who left you a plot of land there. Over the course of the seasonal months you can talk and get to know the different townsfolk of the valley as well as help them with problems and struggles they may have.

Anyway, this game has been in my Steam library for a couple of years now, as I have played it a few times off and on every so often. I took a long hiatus from the game and when I saw it again, I saw different updates that have been made to it over those years it has been collecting dust in my library. Skimming through the game notes of bug fixes and additions, one particular update caught my eye, 1.3’s “Multiplayer Update” which allows for more than one person to play on the same farm. This is when an idea popped into my head, inviting the boys into a game and becoming a wealthy farming tycoon.

I introduced the idea to my buddies and the two of them agreed without hesitation. The rest from then on is history. With nothing but our dreams, the clothes on our backs, and equipped with the best watering cans money can buy, we will achieve a farming monopoly in no time.

Day #25: Friday, April 10, 2020

Another day of quarantine distractions

Day+%2325%3A+Friday%2C+April+10%2C+2020

Ever since this quarantine started, my brother had been making fun of me because I always asked my mom to be home schooled. But now that I am actually “home schooled”, I admit that I hate it. The assignments that teachers normally give us a few days to do at school are now due at midnight for online learning. 

My plan for today was to make up assignments that I did not complete from the past days because it’s a non-attendance day for the school. However, my plan failed the minute I woke up at 12 pm and was too lazy to get up. I was about to get up from my bed when I got a text from a friend telling me I should watch the new Netflix series “Tiger King”. I decided to stay in bed a bit longer and see what the hype is about. The next thing I knew….it was 4 pm. 

After I finished watching Netflix, I was yet distracted again, after I got a text from my future roommate that our university room selection for Fall 2020 has been delayed. I was doing research on the Covid-19 statistics to see if cases are dropping, because my biggest fear at the moment is not being able to attend my first year of college. After seeing the number of the current Covid-19 cases, I hopelessly gave up and tried to think of plan B. What other school can I go to where I can do online learning for a cheaper price?  

I realized thinking about college stressed me out too much. So I went to annoy my Westiepoo who was laying on the couch with my mom. I’ve been annoying my dog since quarantine started, and I can tell  that he’s the only one who hates quarantine more than me. And so another day ended without me finishing my e learning assignments.

Day #24: Thursday, April 9, 2020

A Day in Quarantine

Day #23: Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Breaking world records, including most boring three weeks ever

Quarantine certainly hasn’t been the best but I have certainly made the most out of it. During the quarantine, I’ve found myself altering my schedule and daily life. A normal day for me now usually begins at around 9 am when I wake up to do my attendance. Then I usually find myself going back to sleep till around 2:00 pm. After I wake up for the second time, I eat and do my e-learning for the day. After I finish my e-learning, I usually work out for a couple of hours before I come back inside to shower and get ready for dinner. After dinner, I play PlayStation practically all night until about 4 in the morning when I decide it is a good time to sleep. Spending a lot of time in my house, I’ve found a lot of weird things to do. My friends and I have been trying to break different world records every day and we’re not doing too bad. Recently, we beat the world’s longest telephone conference call of 48 hours by more than double at 100 hours.

I did like the first week of being home but as time passes, I’ve begun to just get really bored and I want to go back out with my friends. I miss being able to hang out and drive around with them. I also miss being able to play sports and going on late night Wendy’s runs. I get kind of annoyed when I see people hanging out still even though we’re supposed to be quarantined. To me, they’re just ruining things for other people and the quarantine would be over sooner if they would just listen to what the government is saying. I think in the future this problem will come to an end but I don’t think that will be soon as nothing’s really changing now.

Day #22: Tuesday, April 7, 2020

I am running out of things to do

Managing+Editor%2C+Taylor+Kosiak+plays+with+her+dog%2C+Ginger+during+quarantine.

Managing Editor, Taylor Kosiak plays with her dog, Ginger during quarantine.

Today was just like any other quarantine day. So much so, that it is getting more and more difficult to tell each day apart. The endless loop of my routine at this point, has become a form of torture.

I have already rewatched every good tv series I could find and the selection of available  movies is slowly dwindling away. Even cooking and running have been a means of distraction. I’ve already spent endless hours in the kitchen making pasta, gnocchi, even ice cream. Running however, is only slightly better than sitting and counting the number of tiny chips in the paint of my bedroom wall, 24.

I can only spend so much of my day cooking. So I solved that problem by becoming as efficient as possible. It sounds weird but the longer I take to do something the longer it can keep me distracted. Today I spent 45 blissful minutes kneading dough, which was unbelievably unnecessary but it gave 45 minutes of time where I wasn’t tortured with boredom. So, I guess it was worth it.

Playing with my dog has also eaten up a great deal of time. My dog is loving the company and the constant walks. Playing with her is wonderfully entertaining until she decides that she is tired or bored with me and goes to lay down. She would much rather cuddle than run around.

Being bored all the time sucks, but this much free time does have its perks. I have become a somewhat productive individual. My room is much cleaner than it was before and the dishes are always clean. So it isn’t a total loss. I’m trying to remain optimistic, but I don’t know how much longer I can do this before I go crazy.

I have put up with all this so this virus doesn’t get any worse. I have to do it, you have to do it too. Don’t be selfish. Stay at home. Wash your hands.

Day #21: Monday, April 6, 2020

Never ending quarantine

This past month quite possibly could go down as the strangest month of my life. Of course it started out fine, but everything abruptly changed and the entire world flipped upside down.

These last weeks have been pretty tough for me. Unfortunately, all of this quarantine stuff has taken away some of the most important things to me: baseball and being able to connect and hang out with my friends. It has been a while since I went this long without being able to get out on a field or get to go to one of my friends’ houses, but like everyone else I have learned to adapt and be content with what I can do. 

Over the days, I have gotten somewhat of a schedule down and I rarely stray away from it (on the weekdays at least). I start my day by waking up around 10ish and immediately get started on my school work. It might not be the best thing to do, but I have found it to be the most productive. I get the most work done in the morning when I am free of distractions and still tired enough to not want to leave my room. Depending on how much school work I have, I usually get up and out of my room by 12ish and start the rest of the day, which consists of not too much. I eat some lunch and then I try to go for a bike ride or workout or go play basketball with my brother.  After that I kind of just do whatever I want considering I don’t have too many things to do. At this time I usually end up playing video games (mostly MLB The Show) with my friends, watching a movie or just falling asleep.

Around 7ish I end up eating dinner with my family. Family dinners are always interesting, especially with my brother back from college, just because it’s back to how it used to be when he still lived here. That definitely is one thing that is pretty good about this whole quarantine stuff, my brother being back from college, and we usually mess around and hang out for the better half of the day. 

After dinner we usually find a board game to play and that usually lasts around an hour and by 8:30 I find myself with nothing to do, except play video games or talk to my friends. I do that until I get tired enough to get back into my bed and just relax and usually listen to music. Eventually around 2-3 in the morning, I fall asleep, wake up and start the whole thing over again.

Day #20: Sunday, April 5, 2020

A fun distraction in an unexpected place

Staff+reporter+Eric+Rangel+is+enjoying+Bed+Wars+on+%22Minecraft%22+during+quarantine.

Leyla Rangel

Staff reporter Eric Rangel is enjoying Bed Wars on "Minecraft" during quarantine.

With free time coming in spades as more and more activities outside are halted or hindered, it feels nearly impossible to keep myself entertained for much longer. I’ve gone back and played games I’ve never got to finish like “DOOM,” I’ve picked up new games of series that I love like “Fire Emblem,” and I’ve even shared a crack at reading and watching movies. While they have supplied me with hours of enjoyment, the thing I miss the most is collaborative play with friends.

This is where an unexpected entertainer for me and many others come out. “Minecraft,” more specifically Bed Wars. While the vanilla version of “Minecraft” doesn’t really do anything for me, the idea of Bed Wars is extremely interesting as both a concept and in execution. 

The central idea of Bed Wars is that four teams are put on a map with one bed each. This bed grants the ability for you and your teammates to respawn after you die, but once it’s broken the ability to respawn is gone. This means once your team all dies once with their bed gone, you lose the game. The way you win is if all the enemy team’s beds are destroyed and all the teams are eliminated.

It’s deceivingly simple, there are hundreds of different ways to play. Before it rarely used to catch my interest but recently with self-quarantine, I found myself growing more and more familiar with the mechanics and design of the game. Should I go straight into the action and risk having my bed destroyed, or should I lay low and play defensive? Use high utility tools like pickaxes, axes, and potions, or go for the more tried and true options like swords, and armor? No two games are alike and I’ve played games that have lasted to as little as two minutes to as long as twenty minutes. It’s highly enjoyable with a group of friends and a fun way to pass times in a time where going outside with others isn’t an option anymore.

Day #19: Saturday, April 4, 2020

When I said I wanted to go home, this isn't what I meant . . .

UChicago%27s+dean+of+admissions%27+dog%2C+Patches%2C+during+their+Welcome+Class+of+2024+online+event.

Rahim Kouferidji

UChicago's dean of admissions' dog, Patches, during their Welcome Class of 2024 online event.

After a fun-filled night of doing absolutely nothing, I woke up on Saturday feeling something that I haven’t felt in a long time: excitement. 

You see, not only was it my aunt’s birthday, but it was also the day of the University of Chicago’s Class of 2024 Welcome Event, which was held at 11:00 AM through Google Zoom. 

Before that, I greeted my aunt with a “Happy Birthday!” (not a hug, of course) and gave her a birthday card that I made for her. I usually go out to buy gifts for my mother and aunt for their birthdays and holidays, so I felt bad that I wasn’t able to do so for both of their birthdays this year. 

My aunt actually came back home from vacation three days ago, so we’ve been taking even more precautions when it comes to quarantining and keeping everyone healthy, which is something I’m still not used to. 

I brushed my teeth and made sure I looked somewhat presentable in case this UChicago event actually involved us video chatting. Now that I think about it, that would’ve been impossible considering the sheer amount of people “attending” it, but I was still paranoid and made sure I at least didn’t look like a bum.

The event lasted about an hour, and I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would. The dean of admissions ran it, and several recent alumni and current students came in to talk about their UChicago experiences, including a graduate who works at Snapchat (she may have also helped invent it, but I still can’t tell if that was a joke or not). 

They answered our questions and I really liked the vibe that I got from everyone, including the other admitted students in the chat. I even made a joke in the chat that got a couple of laughs, so yeah, you could say I felt a little proud of myself.

I was a little intimidated coming in, but the event showed me that UChicago people were warmer and more fun than I expected. I still don’t know exactly where I’m going to go to college (even though the college decision deadline is coming up soon) but I’m glad I took the time to do this. Plus, it wasn’t like I had anything else going on anyway.

Unfortunately, that was probably the peak of my day. I then ate breakfast at noon (late, I know), and took a shower. I almost forgot to drink my Emergen-C, which I’ve definitely been drinking too much of these past few weeks. 

I then went on my phone until I decided to take a nap at 4:00 PM. I must’ve been pretty tired, because I ended up waking up at 5:30. Next, I ate lunch (stop judging me) and started writing this article. 

Later, I ate dinner, and after talking to some friends, I stayed up until about, I don’t know, 4:45 AM playing PS4 with my friends and watching Youtube. OK. You can judge me now.

Saying this whole experience has been frustrating is an understatement. Not only has this made testing and the whole college decision process more difficult since I’m not able to visit anywhere, but at this point, I just want to see my friends. The possibility of not being able to finish my senior year is depressing, and I’m constantly asking, “Why now?” when I think about how I might not be able to experience things like Prom and my high school graduation. I know that we were making a lot of preparations to have some family members come over to the States to watch me graduate, but this entire situation just derailed those plans. 

Also, the amount of e-learning work that I’ve had is ridiculous. I understand that we still have to “graduate,” but sometimes it feels like I’m getting punished for actually taking the time to do my work.

I know that all we can do right now is stay home and wait, and I’m fully prepared to do that, but it just sucks. The only thing that makes this situation somewhat bearable is being able to spend some quality time with my family, but I feel like they’re already sick of me at this point. 

So I’m just left here, stuck. I know I always said I wanted to go home during school, but maybe, just this once, I want to go back? What’s wrong with me?

Day #18: Friday, April 3, 2020

The most peaceful three weeks of my life

Paul+Proteau+relaxes+during+quarantine+by+reconnecting+with+his+bass+guitar.

Paul Proteau

Paul Proteau relaxes during quarantine by reconnecting with his bass guitar.

It’s not awful, it’s not ideal, but it most certainly could be worse. It’s crazy to think about, but I remember in early 2020 we turned COVID-19 into a meme and now we are living an unprecedented reality. 

At the end of the second week of e-learning, I’m doing all right. I’m not completely bored… yet. It’s been the most peaceful three weeks of my life. 

I woke up at about 9ish and got dressed, my favorite long sleeve tee and my favorite joggers. Right off the bat I got into my e-learning. I know a lot of people who do it at night, but I like to speed through it during the day as much as possible. I popped in my earbuds and went straight to work. I think the only significant thing about it is I discovered what might just be my album of 2020. It’s by a cool underground R&B artist named Brakense. He just dropped his new album punk2 (highly recommend checking it out). Work was an easy load, with no major problems.

Afterward, I debated going out for a run, but absolutely wasn’t feeling it today, so I decided against it. Running is what I’ve done most of my days. I miss track (especially my teammates) and my guess right now is that the rest of the season isn’t going to happen. Luckily, I am a sophomore and I have plenty more miles to kill in the next two years. I just feel bad for my senior friends who will not have their senior season. 

I spent the rest of the day just chilling out. The weather was beautiful and I took advantage of it. I chilled out and sat in my backyard and played some bass guitar. With all the free time that’s been given to me, I’m able to reconnect with a hobby that has become less relevant to me over the years.

Around 6:30ish, I helped my dad make dinner, a nice plate of chicken parmesan and some mostaccioli. I ate it quickly. Following dinner, I FaceTimed a lot of my friends to catch up and give each other company.

As the night was concluding I checked live stats on the coronavirus. I couldn’t help but be struck with a sense of grief when I found out that over 1,300 Americans today lost their lives to the virus. It’s a grim reminder on the importance of social distancing and doing your part in being responsible. I’ve been very fortunate to have good health and to have my loved ones and other people I care about to be in good health.

I want to close this entry with a message to do your part for your neighbor, for your country, and for your fellow man to be smart and responsible during these truly crazy times.

Day #17: Thursday, April 2, 2020

Every day feels the same in quarantine

These past three weeks I have gotten into such a routine that I feel like I’m Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day.

This day as every day I wake up to the sounds of my younger brother waking up at 7:30(he also has school off so I don’t know why he does this), then I close my eyes for 5 minutes and when I open them it’s 9:30 already. 

I go downstairs, pour myself a bowl of cereal and then look at the wall as I eat the cereal and try to wake up. After I finish the cereal I walk to the kitchen, put the bowl in the dishwasher, grab my chromebook, and sign in to my attendance.

I start with my first period class, P.E, I don’t really understand the point of doing e-learning for gym but I still do it by putting down short one word answers about the workout I choose for that day(which I didn’t actually do). Next is English, the assignment is writing. It takes me at least 7 minutes to get motivated enough to do the writing assignment and then another 30 minutes to write it. My next class is Spanish which i’ll do later because I don’t speak or understand even basic forms of the language. Now it’s time for algebra.

You might think that I am a great mathematician based off the fact that it only takes me about 15 minutes to do all of my algebra, but if you read into my work, which I don’t’ suggest, you’ll find plenty of errors, but at least I finished it and that’s all that really matters. After algebra I have bio, which is basically like Spanish for me because I don’t understand it at all so I’ll skip it for now. Now i’ll do my Western Civ which only takes about 15 minutes so I finish that quickly.

After I finish the majority of my schoolwork I head upstairs to shower. After my shower I make sure to put a baseball cap on my hair while it’s still wet. My reasoning for this is so that I can work on my “ched” for lacrosse season if we do go back to school that is. After that I head down to  my basement to play ps4 with my friends. I spend about 45 minutes playing “GTA V” before I switch over to “NHL 20” for another 40 minutes. 

After I’m finished playing PS4, I head upstairs and go outside. I spend about 40 minutes shooting into the lacrosse goal before I get bored of that and decide to play basketball. After about 25 minutes of playing basketball I get bored again and go back inside.

Once inside I decide it’s time for a quick afternoon nap, unfortunately I can’t control how long I sleep for so it’s either a 40 minute nap or a 3 hour one, there is no in between on this. 

Fortunately for me, this time my nap only lasts 40 minutes so I still have time to play PS4 or basketball before dinner.

After my family and I finish dinner, I decide it’s time to finish the Spanish and bio. The bio surprisingly actually isn’t that hard if I had just read the instructions the first time. The Spanish however, is extremely difficult. I tried reading the instructions but they are in Spanish so i have to go with my gut for those questions, which probably isn’t a good idea. In the end the Spanish takes about 40 minutes and is mostly just random Spanish words in a list with a period at the end.

After I finally finish all my work I sit on the couch in the basement and watch Youtube, I circle through the same channels of Barstool sports, Buzzfeed unsolved and ECD lacrosse for about 4 hours and by the time I get bored of watching it’s almost 12:00 and probably time to go to sleep.

Day #16: Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The e-learning grind never stops, even on April Fools Day

I woke up to silence.

That’s strange, I thought. Ever since we started doing e-learning at RB, I have set an alarm for 8:30 a.m. so I can get an adequate amount of sleep while still getting a healthy start to my day and maintaining some sort of schedule while quarantined at home. But today was different. Today my body was telling me to wake up early, that there was something exciting happening and I needed to greet the day and experience whatever life was about to bring me. I checked my phone for the time: 7:45. But it was the notification under the clock that caught my eye. This was it, the reason why my body told me to wake up. The moment I had been waiting for.

A brand-new episode of “Schitt’s Creek” was just added to my iTunes library.

Finally. Something worth waking up for.

After I finished watching the episode, I got dressed (if you can call sweatpants and a sweatshirt “dressed”) and ate breakfast. Most mornings I’ve gone for the pretentious homemade avocado toast (the key is a touch of lemon juice), but we were out of avocados, an essential ingredient for that meal, so I opted for a bagel instead. I then made myself a peppermint tea and retreated to the basement, the location in my house I have chosen to study for the extent of e-learning.

I have barely taken attendance and begun my schoolwork before I get distracted. One second I’m writing down notes on voting rights for government class, the next I’m watching nine-month-old YouTube clips of Late Night with Stephen Colbert and it’s 10:20 a.m. My attention span working from home is nonexistent.

I managed to muscle through the morning, which included a Zoom Clarion staff meeting, and pause at noon for lunch: leftover pasta. Classy. After my break for nourishment and to watch the next episode of “Tiger King,” I returned to my studies. I finished working around 4 p.m., just in time for my Zoom conference call with a few students and professors at Oberlin College about their music programs. Since admitted high school seniors are not able to visit campus before committing to their colleges, many schools have been doing similar online seminars and interactive tours to give the students a feel for the campus and academics.

By then it was almost 6 p.m. and I needed to get out of the house. I literally don’t think I had breathed fresh air in three days, and I forgot what natural light looks like. I called my friend Nicole Wolff, and before I knew it, she was at my house and ready to go on a bike ride (and by at my house, I mean in my driveway at a safe distance of at least six feet apart at all times). We rode around the First Division a few times, then over the Swinging Bridge into Lyons and back.

As monotonous as the quarantined life has become, there is one aspect I am appreciative of: the bonding forced upon my family when stuck inside the same house for weeks on end. We are fairly independent; we never ate meals together and lived life on our own schedules. Now, I have nothing better to do than hang out with my parents. This particular night, my dad and I took turns showing each other our favorite Lori Lightfoot quarantine memes and analyzing Pete Buttigieg’s post-presidential candidacy look of a shaved head and beard.

I retreated to my room around 10 p.m. and did some work on my laptop until I was interrupted by a scream from my parents’ bathroom. Remembering my sister placed a fake spider on their toilet paper roll earlier today for April Fools, I broke into laughter as my mom ran out of her room. It is important to find times to smile.

I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. watching old episodes of “House M.D.” on Amazon Prime before I finally passed out. I have found it hard to go to bed at a normal time because, what’s the point? Every day is the same in quarantine. That in mind, physical isolation is extremely important to stop the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.

Wash your hands, kids.

Day #15: Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Distancing with dogs

Day #14: Monday, March 30, 2020

Quarantine's not that bad...

The self quarantine experience has not been particularly difficult for me, since I sometimes enjoy isolating myself. I miss seeing my friends, but I also value the time I have on my own. I always have. Everyone is different when it comes to finding motivation, but I am the most motivated when I am by myself. Because I have always been pretty independent, it has been really easy for me to find something to do. Throughout this period of time I have been exercising more, journaling, researching topics I am interested in, and have been talking with my basketball coach about the future. I have been drawing more, and doing other things that I normally do not have time to do. Recently, I have picked up the guitar again because I have always wanted to learn how to actually play it, not just a few chords.

It stinks not being able to see my friends, but I have spent more time making memories with my family. My mom and I have done a lot of cooking together, playing cards, and talking. When we come together as a whole family (my dad, mom, brother, and I) we will often watch Harry Potter or go on a walk with the dog.

In difficult times like these, it is easy to focus on the negatives, but I don’t like to do that. Being at home, I have appreciated the life and family I have more. My mom, being a teacher, has done a lot to stay connected with her students and provide them with all of the work they need. She has gone out of her way to individually write and draw the students letters. She has also sent them each individual videos daily to connect with them. I believe it is really important to check in with the people you care about frequently so they know you are there for them. 

I am someone who enjoys having a  bit of structure in my day, so I have already developed a pretty solid routine. This morning was no different from any other. I woke up at around 9 o’clock, ate breakfast downstairs at the table, and wrote out my agenda for the day in my journal. After I was done planning, I quickly organized my room and Face Timed one of my friends. When we were done talking, I got ready and began my homework. As of right now, I am writing this while simultaneously eating lunch and talking to a few of my friends on the phone. With all the extra time, you would think I would spread out my activities, but instead I continue to do everything at once. I do not think I will ever break that habit even with the many extra free hours I have to spare. 

This pandemic can be a very scary time for many people. I am so grateful that both of my parents are able to work from home at this time, but I am aware that not all families have this luxury. I hope that everyone stays safe and takes precautionary measures. I also wish everyone the best luck to all families during this stressful time. 

 

Day #13: Sunday, March 29, 2020

I’d prefer to be on a beach somewhere warm rather than here

A+paint-by-numbers+project+Hannah+Sales+has+been+working+on+while+quarantined.

Hannah Sales

A paint-by-numbers project Hannah Sales has been working on while quarantined.

I’m not excited about starting up e-learning again tomorrow. It sucks that I’m stuck in the house on the last day of spring break. I’d prefer to be on a beach somewhere warm rather than here.

I woke up around 12 p.m. … yeah I know that’s kinda late but my sleep schedule has been so off due to this corona break. I went and made some Eggo waffles with my friend for breakfast. I’ve been staying with a close friend of mine due to my mom being an Uber driver and she doesn’t want to get me sick due to her job along with some other family matters. 

We’ve been kept up in the house for about three days now and we’re starting to go insane. Other than the social distancing rules we think we’ve been exposed to someone who possibly has the coronavirus. Today is the last day of the 14 day period. 

The day before everyone was put on the stay at home rule, my friend and I went and got some fun things to do like paint-by-numbers and friendship bracelets. Those have been keeping me busy but there’s still times where I just wish to go outside. 

For the last three days I’ve been doing friendship bracelets, a paint-by-number and playing Animal Crossing. I’ve been busy with all that but there is still a part of me that longs to go outside and just go for a walk. 

At around 7 p.m. my friend and I went skating. Her mom finally let us out of the house. Freedom! The wind was so strong that we could just glide with the wind at our backs. We’ve been practicing tricks to keep busy and we’re getting there slowly but surely.

Living with my friend has been such a blast, we keep each other entertained. Just doing the smallest things can make us laugh for hours on end. Or maybe that’s cause we’re losing our minds a little at a time.

Honestly I hope they extend school break, I read something today about President Trump pushing the social distancing order back to April 30th.

Day #12: Saturday, March 28, 2020

I don't know what day it is

As I’m writing this it is currently 4:08 PM, and I’m ashamed to say that my day has just started. I woke up at around 10 but didn’t get out of bed until 3 … Let’s just say this period of self-quarantine for me has been a never-ending fever dream. I no longer understand the concept of time and by that I mean my sleeping schedule has turned into sporadic naps, and I have to continuously ask my mom what day it is. 

About day six of social distancing I genuinely ran out of methods to entertain myself. Going into this break I thought, “Yes, this will be a perfect time to catch up on some shows and get some rest.” However, and I thought I’d never say this in my life, I’m sick of watching TV, and sleeping all day is boring and draining. Wake up, spend an hour on Instagram, switch over to Snapchat, watch some Netflix, add some Disney Plus in there, open Twitter, which leads me to TikTok, suddenly remember that I have to put food into my body, so on and so on. Consequently, I’ve been forced to be creative with how I keep busy. 

One night I thought it would be fun to whip something up in the kitchen just to switch things up. Well, every night since then I’ve been making dinner for my family of 6, and I am in no way complaining. It’s a nice way to occupy myself for an hour instead of staring at a screen. Even better, I’ve actually started to clean … for fun. Yes, I’ve hit rock bottom. 

An advantage of all this free time is that I’m getting to spend so much time with my family. I know that is my only option due to the shelter-in-place order, but it’s proven to be very rewarding. Neither of my parents have left the house very often. My mom, a Registered Nurse, is working from home and has only physically gone to work a couple of days for a few hours in the past two weeks when it was absolutely necessary. My dad owns a barbershop and has had to temporarily shut down for obvious health reasons. My siblings get bored easily just like me so we often gravitate towards each other in search of sources of entertainment. We’ve had more family game nights this week than we had all of last year. B.C. (before corona), all of our daily schedules kept us busy and didn’t allow us to spend much quality time together. 

Not to mention, each day is so chaotic and random. This morning I woke up to a pinball machine in our living room (gifted to us by our lovely neighbor), yesterday we rode bikes in the house, last week we had a funeral for our fish, and earlier this week I impulsively bought an electric guitar. I mean, I’ll be at home for a while, what better time to learn how to play?

Honestly, I haven’t done much homework at all. I’m no longer in “school mode”, and I physically can’t sit down or focus on anything school-related right now. The least I could be doing is studying for my AP tests … we’ll see if I feel up to it next week. I have been working on scholarships though. I’ve also already started online dorm shopping (I’m so over senior year at this point). 

On a more serious note, I’ve often found myself saying aloud, “I can’t believe we’re actually in a global pandemic right now. It doesn’t feel real.” Every day I wake up and attempt to stay updated with any news related to COVID-19. As much as I read about it, it all feels like a dream (or rather a really bad nightmare) but unfortunately those affected by the coronavirus, and the number of overwhelming cases the U.S. has is definitely real. It’s so weird to think about us being a part of a moment that will go down in history, one that will change/influence critical parts of our society like educational institutions, healthcare, and the economy in the future. 

Seeing as no one knows how long this virus will last the best we can do is continue to practice social distancing. While it’s devastating that huge milestones such as prom have been canceled, and we’re all bored out of our minds, I’d happily accept more time of self-isolation if it means that we’ll flatten the curve. We have to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously, and we have to be concerned about not only our own health but also the health of those around us. 

On a personal level, I think this crisis has highlighted how much I take for granted on a daily basis: simple things like health, being able to afford not working for weeks on end unlike some other families in the working class, being outside, having supportive friends and family, school, etc. Remember to stay inside, wash your hands, and check up on your loved ones!

Day #11: Friday, March 27, 2020

Well, there's always next year

Quite honestly, being socially distanced sucks. I woke up today to a couple of texts from my friends, a few notifications from various social media sites, but nothing special. The days are kind of melding together at this point honestly. I know every kid was excited for “a long spring break” at the beginning of this quarantine, but I don’t think anyone thought it would be quite like this. 

Now, one thing about me is that I’m extremely extroverted. I quite literally crave some sort of social interaction on a pretty much daily basis. I’ve really been missing my friends lately. I don’t want to sound like an ignorant teenager here, but this quarantine is driving me crazy and I really just wish it would stop. 

Nevertheless, I got up and did my daily routine. You know, showering, brushing my teeth, getting dressed for no special occasion, and so on. My dad texted me and asked if I would come over to his house for some “early birthday lunch.” Needing to get out of the house, I agreed. 

My birthday is on March 28th, and I’m sure every kid who has their birthday over the quarantine feels the same way: “Cool, my birthday is (a certain day) but what is there to do? I mean what makes this day special if I can’t spend it how I want?” Trust me, I’ve tried not to think about the fact that all I’ll be doing for my birthday is eating cake and playing video games.

My friends have done their best to assure me that my 18th birthday will not inevitably suck and I’ll find a way to make it special. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do something on that day too, but really, what makes it more special than any other day in quarantine? Well, I guess there’s always next year. 

In full honesty, I do understand why this quarantine is happening. It’s necessary for the health of the people, and to ensure that the general population is staying safe. I just wish that times weren’t like this.

Day #10: Thursday, March 26, 2020

Day+%2310%3A++Thursday%2C+March+26%2C+2020

I woke up around 8:30 a.m. and walked downstairs to have breakfast and make a cup of coffee. 8:30 is pretty early to wake up on a day over Spring Break (for my standards), but I decided to follow a routine for myself over these few weeks so I would have some sort of structure in my day. After breakfast, I read a few chapters of my favorite book “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” which I am now reading for a second time. It’s a somewhat slow read, but it’s not like I have much else do to. 

I closed my book and looked out of my bedroom window. It was cold and rainy out, but that didn’t stop me from taking my dog on a walk around my neighborhood. I hadn’t been outside during the day in a while, and it was almost eerie. Not that there would be tons of people outside on a rainy day, but I only saw one car driving on the road the entire time I was walking. 

I ate lunch when I returned home and spent a few hours playing video games with my sister. We beat Super Mario Brothers for the third time since we’ve been home together. Being able to spend time with my sister who is home from college is one of the only things I love about having to stay inside. I’m not able to see her often, and it’s fun to be able to do things with her rather than just speak to her over a phone call or FaceTime. 

The afternoon began to wind down and I opened the box containing my art supplies. Instead of painting, however, I just sat in front of the blank canvas for a few minutes. I decided to listen to music instead. I had no inspiration to create anything, and I have felt that way for the past week or so. I really enjoy painting, and I always wished I had more time to do it during school weeks. Now I have all the time in the world to paint, but I have no ideas and don’t feel the same excitement as I did before. This helped me realize that I draw inspiration and motivation from the people and the world around me, and not being able to see my friends or attend school as usual has impacted me negatively. 

Day #9: Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wishing people would do their part

Claire+Harrison+has+been+marking+her+hand+for+each+day+that+has+passed+during+the+pandemic.

Claire Harrison

Claire Harrison has been marking her hand for each day that has passed during the pandemic.

My day started at exactly 2:47 p.m. with rays of sunshine coming through my window. I immediately knew that this would be a good day because of the weather. The forecast said that it would reach 60 degrees, so I was obviously excited. I started my day right by adding another checkmark to my hand in black Sharpie. It may seem a little bit grim, but this is how I’ve been keeping myself sane.

Other people are having a lot of trouble with this worldwide unprecedented situation, but, being the introvert that I am, I am having the time of my life. I’m upset that I am losing time with my friends and family, but I am so grateful that I have not been personally affected by this pandemic. I understand that staying away from others is a different battle for different people, but I wish that people would do their part and stay inside to stop the spread.

Now that I’m off my soapbox, I’ll get back to my journal: it was time for me to have breakfast. I had a beautifully homemade sandwich. Having breakfast at 3:00 p.m. is weird for others, but I’m a night owl and have cemented myself into a routine of about 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.

Following my meal, I sat on the couch and worked on the scarf I’ve been crocheting for the past week. I half-watched some TV while I was working to maximize my entertainment.

Once I got bored of my scarf, I decided to call my friends and try to get a socially-distanced bike ride going. To my surprise, I was able to convince two friends to come out and enjoy the weather with me.

I pumped up my bike tires for the first time in seemingly ever and headed over to my friend Alex’s house. My other friend Mia met us on the bike path, and we rode and enjoyed each other’s company. It was inspiring riding around the neighborhood seeing people having barbecues in their yard while still staying six feet away from each other or people going for a run together. Even if I couldn’t get within six feet of some of my best friends, I was so happy to watch the sun set with people I love dearly.

It’s hard not to be negative when you can’t invite your friends inside because it’s getting cold. It’s hard not to be upset when you have to leave the wallet your friends left in your backpack on the front porch instead of handing it to her. It’s hard to be living in a time like this. There’s no one to blame, and there’s nothing you as an individual can do to change it. It’s frustrating to see people on social media having a “Quarantine Party” when they should be at home stopping the spread of this virus. People never want to do their part until it affects them personally. The thought of someone I love getting this virus because of something I did terrifies me. As teenagers, we aren’t the generation who has to be worried. We should be proactive and socially-distance ourselves to protect our parents and grandparents.

After the bike ride, I watched a movie with my mom and had popcorn for dinner. Having time to do whatever I want is very rewarding, but I do miss school and my teachers.

As I work at a local shelter and I am a foster family, I have a quarantine kitten, Marley. I am seeing firsthand the unintended consequences of shelter-in-place. There are so many animals stuck in the shelter, and it truly breaks my heart.

I ended my day with another movie and another craft project: Fred: The Movie and baby blocks. Making baby blocks is a family tradition that stops for no global pandemic. My aunt and uncle had my tenth first cousin yesterday, and this is our way of welcoming Anna to this crazy world. Happy Spring Break everyone!

Day #8: Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Finding a purpose to all of this craziness

When it was first announced that school was going to be closed for a while, I was really upset and I wasn’t sure what I would even do during the day if I wasn’t at school or out somewhere. Once I had thought about it though, I decided that it was probably good that I was given the chance to have time to myself and with my family. 

For the past week or so, I’ve been at home making lists in my head of what I can do while I have been home. Besides binge-watching some TV shows, I’ve just been trying to keep myself busy by writing or picking up some extra shifts at my job.

I think I already started and finished at least three different shows within the past week and a half. That takes up a couple of hours out of my day, and imagine that every day since school has been out. I realized how bad it was when my sleeping schedule started to change drastically. I needed to take a break, so I decided that I should start writing, drawing, reading, or anything that could help me not look at my phone or computer screen. 

I started off with simple things to start with like writing down what I dreamt, or how my days were either in my phone or written in a notebook. I also was reading more news off of Twitter, but I only have really picked up one book to read and I still have gotten past the first few chapters because I always end up falling asleep. I failed at not using my phone as much, but I was becoming dependent on it. 

All of this free time has gotten me up 11% of my screen time from weeks before. I ended up making restrictions for myself because I can’t always be looking at a screen. Some of my family members and even a few friends told me that it would be a good idea to take a break from social media because of how much it can affect a person. 

For a person that uses social media a lot, I would even say that it isn’t worth having. I was able to get things done, and have more time to be with my siblings. 

Being in quarantine still hasn’t changed my work schedule. Being able to go to work has really been the only thing I am “allowed” to do, and it’s been the most exhausting thing, apart from cleaning my house every day. However, I am so happy to see my coworkers because they are the few people that I get to see while we are under quarantine. 

Things are becoming different in my daily life, and not only does it make me realize how much I took certain things for granted, but it’s helping me have gratitude for the things I have now. 

People should be aware of the sacrifices that are made or are making during this time, because I have a strong feeling that they would be for a bigger purpose than people might see it as. 

I am taking this time to really work on myself. I want to continue doing the things that are beneficial to me mentally and physically, as well as doing things that keep me smiling.

Day #7: Monday, March 23, 2020

One small step for man, one GIANT leap for me

My+mom+crocheted+a+hat+for+my+dog+on+Monday%21+Photo+taken+by+Azucena+Gama.++

My mom crocheted a hat for my dog on Monday! Photo taken by Azucena Gama.

I will be real, I absolutely hate being quarantined. From someone who spends over 10 hours working a week, over 35 hours a week at school, and then a good amount of hours of fun outside, this has been a nightmare. 

The first few days were okay, I caught up on some Netflix and my sleep. I spent a lot of time with my family in the living room. Like a lot of time. E-learning was the highlight of my week. To be honest, I did it for real. But once I was done for the day I felt empty. 

I woke up with the intention to sign in to my classes, but then I remembered, it’s Spring Break. This was our actual, “Break.” And so that means that this is my actual break too. I felt pretty down about no classes this week so I decided I had to go out. 

I told my mom, “I’m going to go outside today.” And she said, “Okay, wear a jacket.” 

I go to my room to get my jacket and then I see my laptop on my bed. I lay down. That’s where I first went wrong. I open my laptop to check the weather, because it’s March, do I really need a jacket? 

I check and it turns out I do, but then I see my Hulu tab peeping through, ah, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dines.” I decide the sun is still up, there’s time for me to watch. I watch two episodes, and wow I am hungry! 

I go down and my mom says, “I thought you left!”

I make myself a sandwich and go back. Okay, don’t lay down. For the love of everything, Azu, do not look at your bed. I sit at my desk. Oh no! My phone is on the bed. I must go retrieve it. Ah well, I will lay down, I deserve to eat my sandwich on my bed, when’s the last time I got to do that? 

Mind you my jacket is still on the ground. 

Then, I start googling. Just nonsense googling of all kinds. The kind that takes you to Buzzfeed Quizzes and Pinterest Memes. 

I get up. I get a La Croix. I have to go.

I put my shoes on, there’s no going back now. And after four hours of procrastination, I am proud to say, I left. I didn’t really have a destination so I walked as one normally would, towards school. 

It’s a nice walk even with no intention of actually going to school. I noticed there were a lot of people outside, like who knew so many families lived in Riverside? Get a grip, you guys. 

I do a loop around while blasting some LCD Soundsystem through my earbuds. Then I start to see people I recognize. Okay that’s enough for today I think to myself, and I head home. 

When I get home I take a shower and resume back to my horizontal position. 

If I am going to learn one thing during this time off, it’s going to be how to get things done on time, because wow I am really bad at that. 

Day #6: Sunday, March 22, 2020

Shelter in place is driving me insane

A+picture+of+my+laptop+with+spotify+open+to+Eternal+Atake.

A picture of my laptop with spotify open to Eternal Atake.

I’ll be honest, my mood has changed a ton during the duration of this break from school. The first day of e learning, I was just glad to be at home doing whatever I wanted. That mood lasted about a day.

I am now sitting at home, playing the same video games I have been for the past week, desperately searching for a new Netflix series to watch since I’ve binge watched every interesting looking series on the site already.

I think my family is starting to go as crazy as I am. My dad, who is always out and about, has now been forced to stay in the house, and he is doing things I never imagined him doing. Him and my mom were building puzzles yesterday. Yes, you read that right, building puzzles. I have never seen my mom build a puzzle, much less my dad!

I was thinking about going outside for a bit to get some fresh air, but then I realized it was 36 degrees and there was snow on the ground. As if this week could get any better.

Don’t get me wrong, being able to sleep until whatever time I want to and having nothing to do but lounge around all day is definitely a good problem to have, but in a way it sucks the energy out of you.

I’m really starting to miss hanging out with my friends. It’s one thing to keep in contact with them through snapchat or facetime, but not being able to see them face to face makes me feel pretty lonely after a while. When I envisioned my spring break, I was thinking about decent weather and hanging out with friends, not snow and quarantine, but hey, it goes to show how quick life can change.

I did my laundry today, and that was honestly one of the weirdest things in my life. I do my laundry all the time, but I’ve never had to do a laundry basket with nothing but pajamas and sweats. Most of the time, I wait until my laundry bin is full of clothes and then I bring it down to wash it all, but this time I had to bring it down to wash because I was out of clean, comfortable clothes to wear around the house.

This entire day has been going from playing on my computer, to listening to music, to watching netflix, and repeating that process, and I never thought I would hate doing that more than I did today. However, if quarantine is what’s going to keep us safe and help bring a resolution to COVID-19, then I’m willing to be bored for a while longer.

 

Day #5: Saturday, March 21, 2020

My spring break: books, 409, and AP Gov.

Kenna%2C+at+home%2C+cleaning+doorknobs+with+409+cleaner+and+waiting+for+this+to+be+over.

Kenna, at home, cleaning doorknobs with 409 cleaner and waiting for this to be over.

I began my first day of “spring break” at 11:30 am, waking up feeling refreshed and energized. I know, I know, that’s incredibly late but I have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. A benefit of this whole e-learning situation is that now I can just fall asleep when I am tired and wake up when I have slept long enough. Usually I go to school sleep deprived, like many teenagers do. 

I drifted downstairs in my pajamas (getting dressed under quarantine is a skill I have not yet mastered) and had some breakfast with my dad. Nowadays, my dad is the only person allowed in the kitchen to make food so we are not all touching the same things. We also disinfect doorknobs or sink taps daily. Some people may think this is a little overboard but honestly, I think most people aren’t doing enough. At my house, we are observing social distancing very strictly. Nobody has come in or gone out of our house in days, aside from walks every now and again. My dad is a stay-at-home dad so this was natural but my mom is part of a coronavirus response team as a healthcare professional. She has been working around the clock from home, calling her work and emailing doctors, from the time she wakes up until she sleeps. We found out yesterday that she will also be working in the clinics for about two or three days a week. I only really get to talk to her at night when she’s getting ready for bed. The social distance was difficult for my brother, who is fifteen-years-old and a social butterfly. Initially we let him have one or two friends over at a time as long as they washed their hands etc. and he was not allowed out. However, after about two days of this, my parents re-assessed the severity of the issue (which seems to be changing every day) and decided against any visitors. I get a little frustrated seeing other people my age out with their friends on social media. I don’t think anybody is above social distancing, especially when countless people all around the world like my mother are risking their lives to provide essential services for everyone else. This is hard on everyone but it will go by faster if everyone is contributing to solving this problem. Anyways, breakfast was consumed by coronavirus discussion yet again. A little depressing and anxiety-provoking but sometimes necessary, to be on the same page as my family. 

I went upstairs and finished reading the first part of a book. I have been reading sooo much lately and I love it. I will be doing some book reviews on the Clarion in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned for those. I sunk into my bed and watched Gilmore Girls for a few hours. This is also a form of procrastinating doing some leftover e-learning work for my AP classes. I feel a little frustrated by e-learning. I love school and I am grateful to have such a wonderful education with so many opportunities. However, the sheer amount of e-learning work I am given each day seems counter-productive. There is a lot going on for everyone and I don’t think e-learning deserves to add to the stress. I flipped through my assignment notebook and compared last week to this week, which was shocking. This week I had more assignments in all of my classes than ever before. If each teacher is assigning two things to do each day (or more!), that means I have fourteen assignments at least per day. I know this is likely the speed we would have been operating at in school but I don’t think that this is worthwhile for students. Education does not always happen inside a classroom. I think students should be spending this time focused on their health, hobbies, and spending time with their family. However, my teachers have all been so supportive and kind during this time. My math teacher has been posting audio messages and videos talking to us about our classwork but also just about how we are all doing. My former physics teacher sent out an email to our class asking us all how we are and if we wanted to set up a Zoom meeting to talk with everyone. My AP U.S. government teacher (now my social studies teacher for all of high school) and I emailed about our assignments but also book recommendations. Last but not least, Mr. Helgeson (the Clarion’s sponsor) has been organizing staff meetings on Zoom to update us on articles but also just to talk. My teachers have made this experience so much easier and they still feel very much a part of the lives of students. I eventually got around to doing my AP Government work and it wasn’t that bad at all. 

Then, I watched a teen rom-com movie that I had been waiting for time to watch and sat outside for a bit. I had one of my favourite Trader Joe’s dinners of Indian food, which was amazing. In the evening, I had time to group call with three of my best friends that live in different parts of the U.S.. It is very interesting to see how other states are reacting to this. One of my friends’ school got cancelled for this entire semester and I am predicting that this will be the case for RB. If that is the case, I will be pretty devastated by losing all the fun parts of senior year but I think that might be the safest thing for us to do. My friends and I talked for hours, laughing until my stomach hurt. We got off the phone super late at night but I wasn’t tired yet so I decided to watch yet another movie on my list! I must admit, I enjoy the freedom of scheduling my day as I please and indulging in hobbies I previously never had time for. My mother and I talked before she went to bed and she brought me a little smoothie she invented, which was delicious. After my movie, I fell asleep almost immediately and didn’t wake up once. 

Life in social distancing can be tedious and uninteresting but I think it’s the best decision to protect all of us. Time to enjoy some more movies and books and ride this storm out.

Day #4: Friday, March 20, 2020

Me + e-learning = bad chemistry

Day four of what I’ve dubbed “corona break,” our last day of e-learning before “Spring Break,” begins exactly the same as the previous three days did. I start to stir at around 8:30 and make an attempt to get up, which ultimately fails and I fall back asleep. Okay. Take two. This time, when I wake up at 9:45 I stay awake. After making my way downstairs, I say hi to my family and get myself a bowl of Chocolate Chex, which I take downstairs, where I have set up an “office” for me to do my e-learning.

I try my hardest to get all my e-learning done quickly but run into a couple of problems: mainly, though, it’s my complete inability to understand the Honors Chemistry curriculum. I check the clock, and see that it’s 10:50, ten minutes until I have to join an online meeting with the rest of the Clarion staff. Our meeting is relatively productive, we make plans to keep this website updated through “corona break,” as well as getting some much needed human interaction.

After signing off of the meeting I shower, get dressed, and head back to my basement. At this point it’s 12:30, and my brother is sitting in my favorite chair playing PS4, and he has informed me that he isn’t gonna get off for a while, so I promptly head back upstairs. It’s at this time that I realize I forgot to finish my e-learning. I decide to ignore my chemistry lab for now, and decide to focus on my other work. I finish all of my work for AP Euro, Spanish III, Honors English and Geometry in 45 minutes and find myself face-to-face with the monster that is Chemistry. I probably would have spent a lot longer on my work for my other classes if I had spent a bit more time on an essay I had for AP Euro, but I just couldn’t force myself to spend more than 15 minutes writing yesterday. Clearly that wasn’t a great decision, as I now have to finish writing two articles today. Karma’s a bitch.

By now you may have noticed that I hate chemistry so much that I even avoid writing about it. However, just like I couldn’t avoid doing my lab yesterday, I can’t avoid writing about chemistry today. It took me a while, but I eventually figured out how to do the lab that Mr. Melquist assigned us, as well as made the scatter chart he told us to make, and place it on the page. I was relatively proud of my work, and I hope Mr. Melquist can forgive me for not adding a trend line to my chart, which I couldn’t figure out how to add.

By now it’s almost 3:00, and I get a text from my friend asking if I can hop on GTA, and I say yes. At this point it’s fair to kick Ciaran off the PS4 since he’s been playing since he woke up and should probably take a shower. I spend the next couple of hours playing “Grand Theft Auto V” with my friends, which for us, consists of getting in a police chase that would put anything you’ve seen in the movies to shame. This particular confrontation with “12,” as my friends are calling the police officers, involves us stealing a fire truck, shooting down multiple police helicopters while in an armored car with a turret on top, and finally, hijacking a helicopter which we fly to the top of a skyscraper. The chase ends when we all run out of ammunition for our guns and decide to jump off of the building rather than letting the police get us.

Now it’s time for dinner, which was deep dish pizza last night. My brother, still upset that I made him get off the PS4, now challenges me to a one-on-one game of basketball on our backyard court. As I expected it’s a relatively low scoring game, since neither of us is very good, which eventually ends when we get bored. By now it’s 7:30 and we go inside. I would continue to write more about my day, but none of it is very interesting, so I think I’ll stop now. I should probably get out of bed now and begin day 5 in quarantine.

Day #3: Thursday, March 19, 2020

Quarantined on the beach

Quinn sitting on the beach at sunset.

The first thing I heard when I woke up was the sound of a fan whirring gently in the humid air and the rhythmic crash of waves meeting sand. I checked the clock; it was six in the morning, and I was in Florida during one of the most temperate, beautiful days of the season.

For context, I’m in Florida because my parents wanted to go for spring break anyway, and the minute they received the notification that we’d be moving to e-Learning they all but threw us into the closest car and drove down to our annual vacation spot a few days early. I’m not saying that I agreed with that decision, though. There was lots of crying and anxiety that came from going to a new place in uncertain times like these that left me in a sulk for the first few days up here. Ultimately, I can say that this decision wasn’t a terrible one- the weather is fantastic, and the only real contact we’ve had with other people has been at grocery stores as we stock up for our stay. 

Even though it’s been a couple of days since schools have been canceled, my body is still wired to get up early. I blearily rub the sleep away from my eyes and pull out my phone to mindlessly scroll through all of my social media. As things have gotten progressively worse, I do my best to steer my feed away from accounts focused on the pandemic and the related economic fallout internationally. In spite of that, I manage to see a lot of coronavirus-related posts anyway. Memes about the virus and pictures of sleep-deprived hospital staff fill up my feed as I scroll. Even when I switched to other accounts that mainly posted things like funny tumblr and twitter screenshots or fashion inspiration, I stumbled upon anxious captions with dire recaps of whatever the most recent news had been and how it was changing their lives. While it’s nice to be plugged directly into the most recent of current events throughout the world, it’s also nice to take a breather once in a while from the terrible, disastrous things happening and just focus on the tinier, sillier things. So, I put my phone down and grabbed some bread from the counter; it was time to incite a riot.

Now, when I say a riot, I don’t mean a riot with like people and copious amounts of violence. I mean a seagull riot, with a swarm of seagulls fighting amongst one another and diving at me to get more bread. It was the perfect way to get my mind off of the pandemic, so I was going to do it no matter the cost. 

 It was a clear breezy morning and I stepped out onto the beach as a warrior does when facing a battlefield that was not their own. The stale bread bag, both my weapon and demise, crinkled and swang with every step on the lustrously white beach. In the beginning, there were only a few gulls, and they were out amongst the surf looking for an honest meal. But I knew that as soon as I started tossing, they would come to me like the stars come to hang in the night sky.

 I decided to start with a few small pieces, in order to pique the interest of the gulls bobbing in the waves. They flew over to me, wary but curious. I encouraged that curiosity with another crumbly piece. Every new piece thrown meant more fighting amongst the gulls, and that fighting attracted more gulls, who then proceeded to embiggen the size and intensity of the bread war, which attracted more gulls, and so on and so forth. I had great fun throwing the last few bread slices to the mass. It was a different story when they realized I had nothing else to give, though. The most impatient gulls began to swoop viciously towards my head, which left me no choice but to run towards my condo as fifty gulls chased wildly after me. At that moment I knew I had become icarus, for I had grown too confident in my ability to keep the swarm controlled and fell from my seagull throne in the minute it had taken the seagulls to realize I had nothing left to offer them. 

Luckily for me, I was able to find sanctuary behind the sea wall of the condominium complex; it appeared that gulls would no longer have the high ground there, in a place rife with umbrellas and chlorinated water and manicured trees. And so they all dispersed, leaving only the original few seagulls that had come to this patch of the ocean in search of a few fish. 

After that invigorating event, I ate breakfast, which was only unusual in that it consisted of a donut. Usually I don’t eat food like that, especially first thing in the morning, but we were in Florida and an amazingly fresh donut stand was only a few blocks away from where we stayed, and I simply had to take advantage of it. If I were at home, I’d probably have a go-go squeeze (applesauce or another fruit puree in a squeeze pouch) and maybe some granola if I was feeling extra hungry. My parents and brother were awake by then, and my mom spent the entire morning patting herself on the back for thinking of coming down here earlier than we would have normally. When I say patting herself on the back, I do mean literally, by the way- I think it was meant to be funny but I can’t actually be sure. 

I then checked into all of my e-Learning classes on my phone, because I didn’t want to do my homework just yet and I knew that if I opened my laptop I’d just start doing it. Once all my classes were electronically attended, I was gripped by a desire for some light napping. So, I grabbed a towel and beach chair and set my stuff up out on the beach. It was devoid of people at the time I went out, which was good- I was able to fully sprawl out on my towel in a way that probably would have been embarrassing if I had been seen. So I napped, occasionally switching positions to get even sun coverage for about five hours. It was very nice, and very much needed. I’m not a napping person in general, but the sun’s gentle rays and the newfound freedom awarded to me by e-Learning made it something that I could do to fill up the time I had available to me. 

All that napping had worked up quite an appetite, so I went back inside to make full use of the kitchen. My mom had gone crazy stocking up the pantry so we wouldn’t have to leave to continually get more food throughout the week, and it showed. I had a lot of options, but I decided on starting with a light snack of crackers, cottage cheese and pickles. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. The best uncommon food combination, by far. Just as I was gearing up to make a sandwich, I was approached by Danny, my brother, who had come from who-knows-where to ask if I would come with him to get something for a late lunch. I enthusiastically agreed; I had no idea what the state of things were in some of the neighboring towns, and wanted to check it out for myself. My dad was confident that Seaside, an upscale town next to Rosemary Beach, would be totally deserted because of some of the (admittedly basic) measures put into place by whatever local government that was here in order to keep people from gathering. We hopped in the car and drove over there, expecting to have to find a place to eat elsewhere. 

So imagine our surprise when it was packed to the gills as usual. The local restaurants did their best to abide by the anti-gathering rules in place, but it was clear that they were stretching it at certain points because of the surge of people who had come to shop and eat. I don’t think floridians would know what social distancing was if it walked up to their front door and introduced itself. The social distancing we’ve done here has to be done actively; a lot of the people we’ve seen here have been carrying on with their daily routines like nothing is amiss, and have even been going to large gatherings in neighboring towns without any regard for the safety of themselves and other people. It’s kinda crazy, not gonna lie. But we contributed to the problem when we ate at one of the local places anyways, I suppose. The fried pickles weren’t even that good, and there were simply too many people for it to be enjoyable in any way.

It was at around this time that I was supposed to do my work, but the new “Act of God” rule put into place by J.B Pritzker left me feeling confident I could afford to put off all of my work until Friday evening. Was that a bad choice? Probably. But working in a place that I’ve always traditionally considered to be a vacation spot just doesn’t feel right, if that makes sense. Obviously I will get to it at some point, but I have a lot of outdoor options that won’t leave me in contact with other people that made doing schoolwork seem like a bad use of my time. I think it would be easier for me to find the motivation to do my work if teachers were able to build in time for an optional lesson live stream, or something similar to that. 

We got back and I swam in the ocean for a good thirty minutes before taking another nap on the beach. Everything I had was wiped down with disinfectant by my dad when he saw us and heard what we’d been doing- he absolutely did not want to catch COVID-19 under any circumstances. After the nap, it was dinnertime, and I ended up eating some asparagus and corn and a little bit of steak, though I wasn’t that hungry. It was probably around 9:00 by then, and I was tired. I threw myself into bed and passed out, completely unaware of the world around me. Man, beach bum life is hard. Too many naps, and I just become sleepy all of the time.

E-Learning, while allowing for a significantly more flexible learning schedule, is also keeping people from learning as they should. I’m definitely missing out on a lot of key concepts when learning from worksheets, and I miss seeing my teachers and fellow students every day. If I could, I’d leave all of this behind to go to school in a heartbeat. It just feels weird to be learning but not actually learning, you get me? Once spring break actually begins, I think I’ll feel a little less weird, but in the meantime it still throws me off. Family is great, but I can only spend so much time with them before I go crazy.

Day #2: Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Being quarantined isn’t the only reason I won’t be outside for a while

Ava+makes+one+final+visit+to+the+city+of+Chicago+before+she+is+%22involuntarily+quarantined.%22

Justin McNulty

Ava makes one final visit to the city of Chicago before she is "involuntarily quarantined."

Day 2 of e-Learning: It was a sluggish start to the day. I tossed and turned in my bed as my dad yelled at me to wake up to do my E-Learning. I instantly picked up my phone to look at the time, and my wonderful iPhone 7’s clock read 10:00, which means I had an hour to sign into my classes.

I never usually eat breakfast, not on weekends, not during breaks, and definitely not on school days. It all depends on if I wake up hungry enough, which in this case, I woke up not hungry at all. So instead, I decided to actually get my E-Learning done quickly, so I could do “Whatever I want,” the rest of the day. Most of the assignments are pretty short. For some classes, it’s hard to transfer what we do in class to online. I found this extremely evident for AP Macroeconomics, and Honors Chemistry, since we have a lot of instruction needed by the teacher. Obviously, Lifeguard Training is a little difficult to do online, as you could imagine. I wonder how all the students in my period will get lifeguard certified if we have our school cancellation extended. And this obviously affects SAT, ACT, and AP exams. Which, College Board confirmed on their Instagram page that they are working to have students take the AP exam from home. That’s crazy.

Anyways, I decided to get out of bed after I finished my E-Learning, so I could shower and at least say “Hi,” to my family before I left for the rest of the day. You might think I’m crazy for wanting to go out during a time like this, but I think what would really drive me crazy is if I sat at home for three weeks isolating myself from the outside world. 

I walked to the kitchen, immediately getting mauled by my 5 month old puppy, full of energy of course. My brother was in the basement playing our PS4, of course. My dad was laying on the couch in the living room, watching something off the History Channel, of course. My mom was at work, surprisingly. I don’t know why they haven’t cancelled her job yet, since it involves a lot of exporting of goods. They even cancelled my dad’s job, he doesn’t know when the next time he will be able to work is. His job involves big events and convention shows, which you can infer, won’t be happening for a long time.

Expecting that I was going to go out, I pretty much laid in bed for the entire day. A lot of my friends weren’t allowed to go out, and if they were, making plans was a challenge. I asked my mom if I could have people over, but she said I can only have one person over at a time because she can’t risk getting the coronavirus. I thought ‘Fair enough’ so I had my boyfriend come over so we could watch “Victorious” for the remainder of the night.

This shows that the virus has affected everything, how many people I can see, when I can see them, and especially where.

After my boyfriend left, I was expected that to be the last time I not only saw him, but any of my other friends, since my mom said that that was the last night I could see people before she quarantined my brother and I.

To my surprise, I got a text from my friend asking if I would like to go downtown with him and another friend. My parents were asleep, but I thought since this was the last night I could see people, I might as well go out with a bang!

Long story short, I did end up going downtown, and many other places that night. Despite the time of night, it was like a ghost town. I noticed many 24-hour stores were closed, as well with many other places usually open. My parents weren’t too happy when they found out what happened. Let’s just say being quarantined isn’t the only reason I won’t be outside for a while.

Day #1: Tuesday, March 17, 2020

How I restricted my three week break on the first day

Day one of E-learning started off pretty normal for me. I woke up around nine and made myself a bigger-than-usual breakfast considering I had extra time to do so. I cooked four eggs, over-easy obviously, and also ate a bagel with cream cheese. I then signed in my attendance for seven classes, and did very little homework despite having assignments in nearly all seven classes. I went on my phone a lot. According to the screen time in my settings, I was actually on my phone for seven hours. That’s an entire school day spent staring at a screen. Yikes. 

Like most high schools in America, colleges have also sent their students home for the next few weeks, or some even the rest of the semester. My sister, Jessica, a 19 year old currently enrolled at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, was sent home last week due to Covid-19, meaning the next three weeks we will be stuck with each other once again. Things were fine in the morning. She even brought me home a doughnut on her way home from voting. Then she got an email. She had just been informed that her school was closing for the rest of the semester, and she wouldn’t be moving back up to michigan again until next school year. This did not please her, considering her entire life is now in Michigan. Myself, being the annoying little brother I am, was sure to make her even more upset. Obviously I was successful, and she got quite mad. 

By this point it was almost three in the afternoon, the same time the baseball team scheduled our third player-lead practice. We “practiced” for about two hours, taking a quick Infield and an extended batting practice during that time. I then returned home to an empty house despite both my parents’ cars as well as my sister’s in the driveway, but similar to most teenagers after any practice, I was too tired to care. I wandered into my room, fell on my bed and slept for a short while. I woke up and ate dinner, which was corn beef today in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, then meandered back into my room for an extended nap.

 It was now two hours later, and I woke up realizing that I had made plans with some of my friends to do something later, considering we didn’t have to be at school the next morning. It was already eight-thirty by the time I drove over to my friends house, where two of my friends were already located, and we spent the next three plus hours just sitting in his basement watching TV and playing shuffleboard. Pretty low key night, but only up until that point. 

I left his house craving chocolate, so I drove to the only place I could rely on being open at 11:30 on a Tuesday night, McDonald’s. I went through the drive through, and I ordered a chocolate sundae. It wasn’t great, but it filled my chocolate desires for the time being. After pulling over to eat my sundae, I once again hit the road to go home. 

I reached the train tracks in downtown Riverside, and the tracks were blocked, and a train just began to drive away heading into the city. It’s nearly midnight at this point, and I really just want to go home. But as the guard rails are still going up, a woman, still carrying all of her belongings, begins to wave at my car, signaling for me to roll my window down.

I reluctantly rolled my window down, assuming she didn’t pose a threat to me, and maybe she needed help. She began by asking me if this was Riverside, to which I replied “Yes, we are currently in Riverside.” She followed that up by asking me if we were close to the mall. I wasn’t sure what mall she was talking about, until she said North Riverside Mall in an uncertain tone. I nodded and said that the mall was maybe two miles from here, the next town over. She asked if I knew how to get there, and I said I did, but i didn’t know the streets well enough to tell her exactly how to walk there. Then she asked me a question that i have yet to be posed with by a stranger asking for directions: “Could you drive me there?”

I panicked. I didn’t want to be rude, but there was no chance I could let this woman into my car. I’m a 16 year old, driving home past my curfew, on a Tuesday night. Once again, the woman never showed any aggressiveness towards me, or said anything rude or hostile. She seemed to be nice, but I still had to be cautious. She had multiple larger bags with her, making me suspect that those may be all of her belongings, and that she may be homeless. She proclaimed to me that she was finally happy, and something along the lines of that that’s all that matters. I then told her the easiest directions to get to the mall, and she said thank you. I responded saying good luck, assuming she was attempting to start over her life.

I was finally able to drive away, and I was just in utter disbelief. I don’t know why, but it was just so weird to me that something like that could happen to me. I arrived home and told my sister what had just occurred, since she was still awake watching Netflix. 

She asked why I was home so late and I told her that I went to get a sundae, then had that interaction with the stranger. I also mentioned that I was super bored and sat in front of the house for a while and contemplated driving downtown for no good reason. She seemed interested, so I asked her if she wanted to. Out of my disbelief, she got out of bed, grabbed her coat and said let’s go.

I was excited. What 16 year old wouldn’t want to drive downtown at 12:30 in the morning with their sister? We tried to be very quiet when we walked downstairs, but Jessica was apparently too loud looking for yet another jacket (she ended up accidentally grabbing one of mine), and our mother woke up and said “Hello?” from our parents bedroom. My sister told her that we were just going to get frosties from Wendy’s, and that we would be back in no more than 20 minutes. She was too tired to say much, so she sort-of mumbled “okay.” 

After this we both ran to the car, I drove off and we got on the highway. We talked a little bit, then blasted the radio and sang along with the music for a good 10 minutes. Once we finally got downtown and began to head towards the lake, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket, and I heard my sister’s phone buzz as well. I looked at her and asked if mom had texted us. She said she was scared to check. I told her just check, if either of us get in trouble, it is going to be a lot worse for me.

She already has mandatory class every time, so she occupies a lot of her time with that, and almost all of her friends are somewhere in Michigan, leaving her with nothing to do all day.

Myself on the other hand, I had three weeks of no school coming up, and if I got grounded I would be stuck at home for at least two of those three weeks. I still told her that I would take the fall considering this was my idea, and I asked her to go. 

The first text my mom sent us, without any context, was “You both lost car privileges,” followed up 30 seconds later by “Get home NOW.”

My sister finally responded, saying we just went downtown for a “quick look (of the city)” and that we had gotten lost.

My mom then sent “No driving for the rest of the week.”

I couldn’t read these, considering I was frantically trying to drive home as quickly as possible, but Jessica was sure to panic and let me know what my mother was saying, as well as how scared she was to get yelled at.

The final text my mom sent us, which I found quite funny, was “Enjoy your self-quarantine. That’s from Dad.”

It was hard not to laugh, despite my sister’s fears of getting in trouble, because I knew that I did this to myself, and couldn’t blame anyone else, so I wasn’t that upset. I also know that my mom has a history of caving in after punishing my sister and I.

We drove home questioning whether our parents would be awake at the kitchen table waiting for us, or if they had just decided to sleep and deal with this tomorrow. I knew they wouldn’t be awake, considering they both have to be awake by six tomorrow morning for work, and I was correct. We finally arrived home at 1:45 in the morning to a dark house. We entered through the back, locked the door behind us, and sprinted upstairs as fast as we could. 

What an interesting day for me to get to write my day in the life of an E-learning student. A lot of this may not directly tie into E-learning, but none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for E-learning. I would never be allowed to go to my friends house at 8:30 on a typical school night, and I most definitely wouldn’t ask my sister to drive downtown if i had to wake up at 6:30 the next morning. E-learning gave me the opportunity to have all these unusual experiences, and while they may be the only ones I have during this extended break, I would still probably do it all again. Probably.

1 Comment

One Response to “The Socially Distanced Diaries”

  1. Laurence Forberg on May 15th, 2020 11:56 pm

    Well written Ethan! How am I not surprised that would happen to you on your first day of quarantine!! Nice, entertaining story.

Please be aware of the RB Clarion commenting policy. You can view this policy by clicking on the "About" link for our web site.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Clarion • Copyright 2020 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in