Updated: May 22
Enjoy these 3 journal entries from our very own staff, giving an intimate look into the life of a self-isolated teenager.
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I remember it being uncertain on Thursday as to whether or not school would indeed end for the next week, and on that day it didn’t seem quite so disastrous. Friday rolled around and it felt like the apocalypse struck. People were wearing facemasks, it was raining, which like, never happens in LA, and it was official-- school was shutting down.
I reconnected with friends I hadn’t seen for a while over the weekend, and we made plans to hang out over this weird, pseudo-break, only for that to be shot down by my dad.
Social isolation. I’m going insane.
The first day of at-home school was certainly interesting. There’s something to be said for doing work at your own pace, with the ability to take breaks or eat whenever you want. The problem with that, for me, anyway, was that I cannot focus without someone telling me to focus. I had no friends to tell me to work. I had no teacher reprimanding me for talking too much, or playing scorpion solitaire instead of working. What I’m saying is that somehow I managed to drag out working until slightly past 7 PM. I was exhausted by the end. This was a common theme all throughout the week.
Socially, I was also going crazy. I went outside to take a walk on Tuesday (in the park, which was almost empty), and I shattered my phone screen, which I assume is some sort of omen. I also saw a cute dog and moved towards it, only to have the dog’s owner back up like I had the plague. I suppose that’s fair. Does coronavirus mean you can’t smile, though?
The only social outlet I really had all week was my dad. I didn’t want to annoy him, seeing as we were in the same room from about 8 AM to 9 PM every day, so I didn’t FaceTime anyone (except for my boyfriend; I call him every time I take a short walk. He keeps me sane.). My dad and I have been spending our quarantined days watching 40’s screwball comedies (and one dumb Cary Grant movie called The Grass is Greener, wherein Cary Grant knows his wife is cheating on him and invites the dude she’s cheating with over to visit, and then fishes with him for some reason) and watching Star Trek: Deep Space 9. We also watched Bridesmaids, which had the dude from IT crowd in it-- I thought it was a really fun movie, but they didn’t ever explain why a british dude could be a cop, did they? It was sweet. It made me feel things. My dad and I also FaceTimed my grandparents, who are thankfully doing okay! They’re busy putting up ceramic frogs and hanging up my grandma’s quilts on the wall. It was nice hearing from them.
My friends and I set up a Zoom meeting on Friday, where we played cards against humanity. Social outlets! One of my friends dropped her phone in a bucket of water (literally!), so I haven’t been able to talk to her at all since school ended, but she joined the Zoom so I got to talk to her!
I won the game.
I moved houses to my godfather’s house later that Friday, for more social isolation but with a different person-- cool. I played an abundance of Minecraft with my boyfriend. Also, I rewatched Kill Bill, and was reminded why being buried alive is one of my biggest fears. I do not have Uma Thurman’s hand strength, either, so if I get buried I’m dying in there. Kill Bill has a gratuitous foot scene where Uma Thurman talks to her feet for five minutes, which is interesting. Despite this, I am now considering being the Bride for Halloween, if we aren’t still in the Coronapocalypse (official terminology) in October (we shouldn’t be, right? Right??).
Season 3 of the Netflix original Elite just dropped, and I am both excited and nervous to watch it. What’s the mystery this season? Will the characters… remain being incredibly hot? I’m on the edge of my seat.
Well. Tune in next episode, where my cat… becomes my therapist. Bye!
Me and my younger brother have never really been competitive. For most of our childhood, our age difference was just large enough to ensure our interests were never so aligned that they ignited competition. While I was coloring, Julian was in the corner, quietly gnawing on a spatula. If I was playing dress-up, Julian was likely to be found smashing rocks with a hammer in our driveway. If I was walking the dog, Julian was teaching it Klingon.
Put short, when it comes to hobbies, we’ve never had much cause to butt heads. Except one.
Many consider puzzles to be a low-stakes activity. Relaxing, even. Simply meant to be dumped on the dining table and pieced together at leisure, perhaps whilst listening to whale calls, or NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
These people are fools and not to be trusted.
To my brother and me, puzzles are a test of strength, stamina, and mental dexterity. In our household, if you leave the puzzle table for a water or bathroom break, you are deemed weak and voted off the island. If you begin a section of the puzzle— say, the dolphin in the corner, or the tiny basket to the upper left— and fail to finish that section, your sibling will swoop in and take the glory for themselves.
Just as Twitter brings out the worst in all of us, puzzling brings out the worst in the Selby children. Julian becomes a hunchbacked shadow of his former self, bending over the table to snatch the coveted corner pieces into his grimy paws. I can’t say I’m much better, though I turn more obsessive than evil-- I’ll sit at that table for hours, cackling and scheming. Those unwise enough to disrupt the mania (read: my poor father) receive death stares or hissing.
To be fair, this behavior is likely hereditary. Once, my mother— a grown woman with a 401k and vitamin routine— destroyed a freshly-completed puzzle just because she didn’t get to put the last piece in. (She has since abstained in the interest of maintaining the tentative household ecosystem.)
In short, quarantine is going as well as can be expected.
Signing off for now,
When I came to realize that school was closing, initially lost much of my motivation. Hamilton, Skills USA, my film projects, everything seems to be taken away from me. But then a few things came to mind of our time at home: Pouring rain, cozy blankets, hot tea, and the joy of playing Settlers of Catan with my friends. I knew I could definitely make the most of this. I should’ve been having more existential realizations, but my first Friday night home, I didn’t have a care in the world. It only consisted of my best friend and I watching Star Wars for hours, eating ice cream, and goofing off, like we were kids again.
Suddenly the hope of playing Settlers of Catan with my friends was gone. The fantasies I had of wasting away the days with them were changed drastically. I had my first feeling of missing school since a large source of my happiness is often times the days I spend with my close friends. But against all odds, with two of my best friends, Miguel and Edgar, we make it a point to call one another at least once every day. While we drive each other insane, I think we are the only ones keeping each other sane while staying home. In fact, something I’m grateful for this crisis is how I’ve been able to reconnect with them. With school, college-prep, family, and DP/AP life normally on our plates, we rarely find time to talk. It just makes me realize how we are each other’s default setting, always coming back to each other when everything else is stripped away.
Anyway, we can’t be talking all the time, so it’s time to find ways to kill time on my own. First are my hobbies: scriptwriting and ukelele. Of course, I’d love to be editing or filming, but all of that equipment is back at school. I do love what I’ve got. I loved going back to my old adaptation script ideas and expanding on them and so far, I’ve been able to successfully play I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You by Elvis Presley. Progress. I’ve also got plenty of time to learn cooking. This week marks my first attempt at my mom’s pancake batter recipe! And most surprising of all, I’ve killed time cleaning (more or less) my god-awful room. Of course, I also had to time manage my online schooling into my schedule. Fortunately, I only have 4 classes to worry about, and the system seems to be working decently.
“I haven’t prepared enough for this.” “Things are okay right now, but when I go back, my life is going to spiral.” “I’m alone and it’s because I’m reaching out to enough of my friends.” “You’re not going back to school. You’re never going to see your teachers ever again.” “There’s no way I can stay happy on my own for long.” “You remember that important trip to Mexico you’ve been saving to immerse yourself in Spanish? It’s gone.” “Things won’t get better.” My thoughts layered themselves over each other. The news of racism and death on the TV certainly isn’t helping. The arrival of college decisions isn’t helping. It’s overwhelming how much is holding me down. But writing this, I know that what I need to keep doing is to focus on what is helping me. Conan’s Gray’s new Kid Krow album released. Disney Plus is a thing. And I always manage to forget one thing: My family.
The last Friday night, I spent with my sister. Huddled under blankets, watching Shazam and Big Business, laughing, and shouting at a screen like maniacs, I realized that my family’s here for a reason: To support each other and love each other through a time that is terrifyingly uncertain. The one thing we can hold on to is love, and we cannot let go of it.
Thanks for listening,