March 23, 2020

It strikes me when I walk outside that I have not been paying attention to anything. After listening to the same songs and going down the same path I always take with my dog, but now alone, I lower the volume. I put my phone in my pocket and breathe what feels like new air. 

Today was the first day I had online school. It was weird to work back at home. I finally felt like I had outgrown the desk that I spilled drinks on, stained with soy sauce, and colored over when I was a kid. Attempting to concentrate in an area that has endured so many yelling matches and kitchen accidents after learning to outstretch myself in the hidden oases of silent libraries felt odd and stressful. 

I Click. Minimize. Expand. Text. Close. Open. Tab. Watch. 

All at once. 

At first, I blame the new, online structure of classes for this contrived business. But I start to think it’s my limp brain that has learned to only accept good content in the form of a seven-minute strikingly over-edited Youtube video or an endless stream of TikToks filled with the same, reverberating chorus. 

I am everywhere & nowhere. 

All at once. 

Last week I felt personally accomplished for reading one book. For having the idea that I wanted to step out of my routine and learn to cook something (never actually putting it into practice). Maybe I am overwhelmed because of the boomeranging of the news, shooting out of screens only to be reinterpreted by my parents and my friends and Twitter. Maybe I just miss interacting with people face-to-face and am overly distracting myself, keeping busy by pretending there is so much to do. So much to check up on in such a historic event. The quiet is ironically pressuring. It whispers to me to accomplish and create and cling onto something that I can look back on and said I did while I had the time. Quarantine makes me realize how fleeting time is, but I never do anything about it. How difficult it is for the brain to wish and the body to be willed.

It’s nice to familiarize yourself. Playing the same piano chords, humming the same melodies, rewatching Parks & Rec, idling in the same bed. But it’s stagnant. Each household in each town right now is learning to re-remember what was fun. To them personally (not for group-sake which is very easy to get lost into when one is surrounded by others). Or maybe it’s just me that struggles to reinvent my perspective. 

Usually when I run outside, I push myself to keep the pace. Drone out my increasing tiredness with echoic pop synths and reverberating choruses. But I decide to plug myself in to the world. Envelop myself with the blue hues of a sky I have not paid enough attention to recently. I see other families merge together when I pass them. An ironic cohesiveness, isn’t it? Only when our ties to the external start to break. I think about the tabs 

I open & close. 

Words I gloss over & ignore. 

Mixed feelings of tedium and anger and angst bind into one dislocated blob.

My parents say this is like 9/11. That this will change the world to the same extent airport security was revolutionized, if not more. This is global baby. The whole world is entangled by this! It’s so easy to forget. And it’s so hard to remember how much one event can impact civilization. This isn’t like an asteroid meets dinosaurs kind of thing but it’s big. 

I always catch myself being amused by COVID-19 memes. Is it just a part of the human condition to mock the serious and laugh at the absurd or is our generation so desensitized to everything that we acquiesce to what is foreign, retreating in laughter? I want things to go back to how they were even though I want to change. I want to go back to a routine but one that doesn’t feel so stagnant. At least in that routine, I felt unbound. Now I wake up alone instead of in an occupied dorm hallway. I don’t bump into people anymore on a campus that has become home. I walk in the neighborhood I grew up in, altering my stride to preserve the glorious, dogmatic six feet of separation. My neighbors are strangers.. and ones I really don’t want to touch. I breathe in. At least the air quality is better. 

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