Five friends, five coronavirus diaries

Photo from The Great Empty by The New York Times.

When adults talk about 9/11, they say that they remember exactly where they were and what they were doing. They say that everybody that was alive has a 9/11 story, they say that the generation before had JFK’s assassination and that the generation before that had Pearl Harbor. And then they sometimes wonder, What will you kids have?

I hope that we never experience anything close to a terrorist attack, a presidential assassination, or a declaration of war, but right now we have COVID-19. This is a collection of five stories of where we were, what we were doing, and what we were thinking.

In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson repeatedly quotes from the various diaries of regular British people who participated in Mass-Observation. Mass-Observation was “an organization launched in Britain two years before the war that recruited hundreds of volunteers to keep daily diaries with the goal of helping sociologists better understand ordinary British life” during World War II.

After reading about this, I wanted to corral some of my friends into doing something similar for the coronavirus pandemic.

I love making my friends participate in my blog posts–it’s like hearing their genuine brain talk. I know it’s not the same if you don’t know the people behind the names, but dang, reading what they wrote made me happy. (If anybody can guess correctly which sentence made me laugh out loud, pick a prize and you might get it.) Basically what I’m saying is, if this post is boring and too long (this post is so long, I think the longest I’ve ever made), I really don’t care.

And finally, an editing note: everything they sent me is unedited except for a few commas, spacing, and the like.

Annie

The First Day

Last, last Thursday, I woke up and knew immediately that school had been canceled. I knew because I had woken up naturally and because it was too light outside.

The night before, I had already started preparing for school to potentially closing. In other words, I mentally remind myself to put books on hold at the library ASAP. If I was going to stay home for several days, I was going to need a reserve of books.

I got a call from my dad with the news that school was canceled until March 25. My instinctive reaction? Pure, unadulterated joy.

My dad told me school had been canceled until March 25 (now it’s to April 6, but I’m guessing it will be even later if at all?), I immediately called Jonathan to tell him. “Really?” he said, with a little bit of the same instinctive excitement I had at not having school. And then he had to be realistic and ask, “Are you guys going to have to make it up in the summer?” –me rolling my eyes–

I told him I didn’t know and that I couldn’t believe we were actually living through this. “Oh. Yea,” he said. It sounded like it was the first time he had actually thought about it. Which it probably wasn’t, but he can’t defend himself unless he reads this, and I don’t think he will, so ha.

Five lists

What I did on my first day of social distancing: Watched Batman Begins. Made ugly dumplings with my mom. Watched Ryan Higa’s new video. Got an email from my math teacher about online school.

What I’ve been doing in the days following: Learning the capitals of countries on Seterra. For real binging this show called Cable Girls–dude, I’ve never really binged something before but I basically spent an entire day watching TV. It’s destroying me. Read books–I started War & Peace but whether I finish is up in the air. Quite a bit of sitting and looking at a screen. Going to the park to rollerskate and play catch with a football with my dad–both of our spirals have improved immeasurably. I’ve also been running but maybe half a mile a day–nothing like the three miles my friends are doing. Or the seven miles my sister she did. Like, what.

Things that have been canceled/rescheduled in my life and in the world: Piano class. The SAT in March. In person AP tests–now they’re online, much shorter, and open note. Who would’ve thought? The Olympics. Democratic primaries. Baseball, basketball, sports. Disney has closed for the first time since 9/11.

Various related online articles I’ve read: ‘People are Dying’: 72 Hours Inside a N.Y.C. Hospital Battling Coronavirus. We Take the Dead From Morning Until Night. (This one made me cry.) Chris Evans as sanitizers, a thread. With Live Sports Gone, Announcer Offers Play by Play of the Everyday. The first lines of 10 classic novels, rewritten for social distancing.

My teachers and administrators making me smile with their kind and sometimes goofy emails:

Thinking

As of right now, I’m on the slightly positive/fine side of the scale when it comes to school being canceled and social distancing. It’s actually gotten easier to stay at home and not see friends, not harder. And I’m so lucky to be able to say that.

What about the people who can’t drop a few hundred bucks at the grocery store to stock their pantries for two weeks? What about the people who need to work in order to make enough money to survive? What about people without homes? What are they going to do? Who’s going to take care of them? What about all the people who have filed for unemployment? For Americans, Congress passed the aid package, but I know it can’t be enough.

And on a smaller but not less painful scale, there’s all the seniors, high school and college, whose last year–and supposedly most special–year is being canceled. Some of these are specific to my school, but some must apply to seniors across the states. Prom. Walking across the stage. Graduation celebrations–or as they do at my school, teas–literally so southern. Sports games. The senior AP art show. The spring musical. Junior-Senior Banquet. March Madness. How in the world are college grads supposed to find a job right now?

In times of tragedy–hurricanes, school shootings, the Berlin Blockade–people help. But what about when for most of us, helping people looks like avoiding them and for the rest, helping looks like putting your life at risk?

Doctors and nurses and everybody in the medical field are heroes on a regular basis, but today, I keep thinking about all the scientists out there workign on a cure. I’m guessing they’re not sleeping or eating much. I haven’t seen them get any press right now–probably because they’re too insanely busy to be bothered–but they and everybody who are giving their days and nights to save people deserve all the recognition.

It feels so wrong that both of these things are true: that people are intensely suffering right now and that I’m enjoying the break.

Lucy

12 March 2020

6:36pm

Ok so they basically just cancelled school because a bunch of parents started a petition for that to happen and yay! They succeeded. Although I can see the reasoning behind this, Danny (editing note: Lucy’s brother) and I agree that cancelling school isn’t really going to help prevent the spread of coronavirus because people still have to interact outside of school. It’s probably just so FISD can’t get sued if someone dies after catching the virus at school. Honestly it must be a huge deal because just straight-up cancelling a week of school creates so many new issues. (I do not want to make up a missed week during the summer. No, thanks.)

Personally it just means I am sitting at home watching a lot of YouTube and Netflix and looking at my friends’ posts on Instagram, where they are still hanging out a lot and traveling to other states and countries (again, why cancelling school won’t really help). Also, my solo/ensemble contest for orchestra is cancelled, so that’s really fun.

Finally, there’s only 3 cases in Frisco and it’s already such a big deal so it’ll be even worse if it spreads. My friends and I were talking about how the US is not handling the situation as well as other countries; for instance a Wakeland student wanted to get tested for the virus after travelling but the ER didn’t have any testing kits… This is a big problem. 

15 March 2020

7:35pm

So we will probably be doing online school for a while starting this week, and I’m surprised they were able to switch this fast. There will probably be a lot of problems and confusion, so I don’t know how well it will work. First of all cheating, and also how am I supposed to take orchestra online? 

Also it’s kinda weird because some of my friends are basically quarantined at home, and some people are still going to Main Event, so I don’t think social distancing is super effective right now.

22 March 2020

2:03pm

Update time: Apparently Texas has about the same number of people as Jilin province in China and already has more confirmed cases than Jilin has had over the entire past few months. And numbers are still growing here, but people still aren’t really prepared for the virus to spread and can’t get tested and stuff like that. The situation just feels really weird and far away even though there are cases in Frisco.

Online school seems ok but I don’t know if we’re actually going to learn anything. Plus AP exams are online which seems unfair but I guess it’s better than nothing. I’m basically expecting online school to last through the entire year at this point, so a lot of events and competitions that were cancelled will probably never be rescheduled. I also feel bad for seniors because they can’t see their friends and probably won’t have regular graduation. Plus what are colleges going to do concerning admissions? Everything school related just seems really messy right now. 

Jael

Hey! This whole situation is pretty crazy and bizarre. If you told you that after the Thursday before school let out for spring break that could be my last time going to school and seeing my friends in person I would think that you are absolutely dumb.

Coronavirus used to be a joke and a meme but it is way too real right now. During spring break the Frisco School district told us that we had an extended break for one more week and everyone was super excited. But in reality, they broke our hearts on Saturday morning saying that we would be starting eSchoo! I was sooo sad! Somebody explain to me why teachers have assigned more online work than they would on a normal school week!

On Monday I went to the DPS to get my permit but after we stood outside the DPS for an hour the staff came out to they said that the system was down and then we just left. But by the grace of God, he continues to keep me safe because I later found out that staff inside the DPS had the coronavirus and we were blessed to leave before we step a foot inside the building.

One thing that has kept me sane during this quarantine period is going running outside with my dog and listening to music. Every day I have been running at least 3 miles per day. When I go outside I see like the whole community outside walking and playing on the playground cause no one knows what to do.

I have also been doing a puzzle and watching TV to relax and get my mind off things. The thing that relaxes me the most is going to an empty gym and shooting a basketball around in silence. Anyone should try it even if you don’t play basketball. 

The saddest thing about all this is that I can’t go see my friends, but it is ok cause we are facetiming every day, playing Brawl Stars, and watching The Bachelor and Big Brother.

Also for church we did a Zoom class Friday night, and it was pretty awkward but it got better cause we got into small groups and we just talked to each other. This virus has affected soo many things, like my track season is basically over, my band spring trip to Disney world got cancelled, and I can’t go back to Malaysia to see my family this summer.

I just pray and hope that DCCYC (editing note: our church’s summer camp) does not get cancelled because that is one thing that I look forward to every year. I hope this goes by as soon as possible and my dad said that next week that we might help with meals on wheels which is an organization that delivers food to elderly people. If anyone has free time (duh who doesn’t rn) I would suggest helping out. Alright, this was really long sorry. Continue to pray for God’s guidance. 

Jolly Jael Out! 🙂

Jocelyn

First off, the term “coronacation” is extremely inaccurate because I am literally quarantined at home. It is not a vacation if we can not hang out with friends or go out into public without the fear of catching the disease.

Also, we still have online school which is terrible. I can’t focus at home because there are waay too many distractions and most of the stuff I have gotten so far is busy work. I’d honestly rather go to school because I’m not learning anything at home. I don’t know how people who are homeschooled or do online school do it.

I have also been walking my dog everyday just to keep me sane because that’s the only time I am allowed to leave the house. Some things that have been canceled have been STAAR testing which I am happy about. But also something else that has been canceled is our Hawaiian Falls physics field trip. I don’t really care that much, but I just want my money back.

Something else that I don’t understand is why people are so desperate for toilet paper. There are so many other essentials that I would buy before toilet paper like gloves or food. There are so many alternatives for toilet paper like tissues or paper towels or worst comes to worse, just take a shower. So yeah, those are the thoughts I have formulated thus far.

Riley

DAY IN MY LIFE VLOG FT. CORONA

Hi guys! My name is Riley, and today you will be experiencing a day in the life of a fifteen (wait can I share my age or is that not allowed??) year old girl. Actually, I’m making this because Annie told me to write about my day and how corona affects school and other things and etc. So today (Monday, March 23) is my first day of online school. 

Over spring break, my school sent out like a billion (pretty much useless) emails telling us about the switch to distance learning, but they didn’t give us any details on HOW we were going to switch and what we would be using for online school. They decided to wait until last night, at like 10 pm to finally (!!) send out useful information about the schedule and what applications we would be using. Yay?

ANYWAYS, I woke up this morning at 8 to make breakfast and prepare myself for whatever assignments my teachers decided to throw at me (online school starts at 9). My school does block schedule so I normally would have physics, Spanish, orchestra, and a free period today.

Let me just tell you that my physics teacher is the best person ever, so I was kind of excited to see what assignments he would post for us. I was not disappointed. He sent us a very entertaining email, and I was glad to see that my only task for his class was to post a little update on how we were doing on Microsoft Teams.

I posted “hi guys!! i am doing very well because i made brownies! i would attach a picture, but i don’t think y’all really want to see that to be honest. i am not pumped for distance learning, but hey it is what it is.” And he responded with “Hopefully it will grow on you, Riley (Distance Learning, that is…not your brownies…)” Once again, I must say that he is the best person ever.

After I finished that, I checked what my Spanish teacher posted, and I finished that relatively quickly. It was only 9:30, but I was basically almost done with my entire school day. My orchestra teacher just had us submit a recording of us playing one of the pieces we had been preparing, but that took maybe 10 minutes. I’d finished school in an hour. Amazing. 

I’ve been doing a lot of exercising at home because of corona. I tried out for the crew team at school and made it (!!). My “real” sport is volleyball, but I really like rowing, and it has definitely helped me get a lot stronger. We row at a lake about 10 minutes from my school and do workouts and erging at the fitness center at my school.

HOWEVER, because of corona, my school cancelled at sports activities and forbade us from practicing together. So, my coach sent us a list of “No gym? No problem!” workouts for us to do at home. I do them M/W/F and they’re so much harder than I expected them to be haha. Every day I run 3 miles on my treadmill and take walks at a nature preserve that is walking distance from my house.

I feel like corona hasn’t affected me THAT much otherwise. I still go to the store (with caution of course!!) and go out in certain public areas, but many of my favorite restaurants have been shut down. My church has cancelled gatherings but have been livestreaming worship services. I can’t go to the gym, but that’s not too bad. My mom refuses to let me hang out with friends, but I still facetime them and am at least able to see their faces. My violin teacher has assigned me a LOT of scales, etudes, and concertos to practice because I have “sO mUCh sParE tiMe nOW.” Sigh. Thanks man. 

Anyways, I think that’s all I have for now. Subscribe and comment down below. “Wash your hands” if you watched this entire video, and SMASH that like button and DESTROY that bell for notifications. Hahaha. Just kidding. But seriously, wash your hands.

Hey, what’s up? What are you reading/watching/doing to keep up with friends? What does online school look like for you? Do you have a daily-ish, regular-ish schedule? My administrators keep reminding us to do that. How freaked out are your parents?

19 thoughts on “Five friends, five coronavirus diaries”

  1. This post was so interesting to read!! Annie! I loved it, wow. What’s crazy is that when everything blew up (maybe on March 12th or 13th I would say?) I was in New York City. I can’t believe I was just walking around New York, going out to eat and in Times Square and in an airport and on an airplane…somehow, by the grace of God, no one on the trip with me or myself ended up showing any symptoms and we’ve been back for a month now, so it ended up being okay. When I heard about school getting canceled for another week (initially that’s all it was for us), I was at Rockefeller Center. My first thought was a second of excitement, but my second was of dread- honestly, my mind went first to “what about AP tests, we’re going to be so behind” and “my friends!” and “what about our dance recital?” Of course, now AP exams are all changed, and I’m relying on facetime, and my dance show has been indefinitely postponed.

    I really enjoyed reading all the journals about the feelings everyone had! I can relate to a lot of it. Also, this is a slight tangent, but I was surprised but intrigued to see that I actually go to the same school district as a couple of your friends, which is pretty cool. :))

    I love the email your teacher sent. One of mine, in her first email to us, told us to not stress too much about school and then proceeded to give us a list of things we could do instead, one of which was “learn new TikTok dances,” which made me laugh.

    I think I’ve transitioned from the initial shock of quarantine to acceptance. It’s crazy that this is the world we live in and these are the precautions we have to take, but there’s nothing to do except comply, stay inside, social distance, and hopefully it will be over sooner rather than later. I’m definitely glad I’m not a senior right now, and I feel so bad for everything they’re going to miss out on.

    Amazing post! Hope you’re doing well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AHH, thank you!!

      Oh my goodness, that is insane. I am so glad you and everybody that went with you are doing well.

      I think it was two weeks for us at first? Hahah, my first feeling was definitely one of excitement, but I’m not sure seeing my friends or being behind for AP tests crossed my mind soon after.

      Do you like how the group facetimes work where the speaker enlarges? And I’m sorry about your dance show being postponed–I hope you guys hadn’t started working too much on it already.

      Thank you!!! I’m very glad other people besides me are enjoying them. Whoa, that’s awesome! Dang, that reminds of this thing–have you heard of that idea where it’s between you and anybody else there’s like nine (or some number) degrees of distance? It’s the theory that proposes that you know someone who knows someone times nine that knows say, Taylor Swift.

      Hahah, I love that! What were some other things on her list of things to do? Also, learning TikTok dances is HARD. I tried learning the renegade one, and I just didn’t.

      I know. It’s weird to me that even if I was to think about this time and all the precautions we have to take right now in ten years, I would probably have a hard time imagining it being reality in that moment. Agh, I know–and even more so the college seniors. I can’t imagine what it’s like to look for a job right now.

      Thank you! I hope you’re doing well too :))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! Me too. :))

        I kind of like the group facetime enlarging thing? Sometimes I feel like it’s annoying when it keeps shifting, though. Usually my friends and I use Houseparty because one of them has a Samsung, haha. Thank you- unfortunately, we had, but it’s okay!

        Oh, I haven’t heard that before, but that’s so interesting! I love your usage of Taylor Swift as an example, haha. I’d like to think that theory is correct! But still, that’s so awesome.

        I can’t remember exactly, but I think she also had reading, baking something, going outside, and spending time with family on there. I KNOW, I have discovered that me being a dancer does not correlate with any kind of TikTok dancing skills.

        So true! And yes- being any kind of senior right now would be really rough.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I agree. I’ve definitely heard of Houseparty, but I’ve never used it before. Is it similar to Zoom?

          Haha, of course I was going to use Taylor Swift :))

          Ohh, those are all good. The only one I have yet to do is bake something. Hahaha! I know one person who is a ballet dancer who sees TikTok dances as not counting as real dancing–do you share a similar opinion or have you heard that among friends who dance?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It is! It’s an app, and you can talk with a lot of people at once. It’s pretty much group facetime, except you can use it on any phone and not just apple ones.

            I haven’t baked anything yet either! Hmm, I have to say, I think tiktok dancing is just a totally different kind of dancing, one that I cannot do. I think it’s still dancing, but definitely not anything like the classical ballet classes I take??

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Ohh, got it. I’ve heard good things about the group messaging platform Discord from two people, and both times, I basically had the same conversation. I asked them why nobody used it if it as the best platform, and they said that it’s because people think it’s for gaming. So I guess all of us non-gamers are missing out.

              I “baked” pre-made cookie dough the other day! Ohh okay, that makes sense how tiktok dancing would be very, very different from ballet.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Interesting! As a non-gamer, I feel like I miss out on a lot. I’ve observed that all my friends that are guys are basically spending this whole quarantine playing video games.

                That’s fun! I have been eating a lot of pre-made cookie dough without baking it first, which is probably very bad. Was it chocolate chip?

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I know I miss out on so much but I don’t know if I mind. Ahaha, I think most of mine are watching tv, but I know that some of them must be playing games too. Do you know what they play?? My friends that are guys play League the most I think. And then this one guy plays Clash of Clans which is SO OLD. Some of my friends who are girls play brawlstars, and one plays Plants v. Zombies, which is also so old.

                  Hahah, why do they make it so tasty if they don’t want people to be eating it?? And yes it was!

                  Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a super cool blog post idea!
    I’m not in school anymore, but I am teaching at a music school and we’ve transitioned to online lessons, which is weird. It certainly takes some getting used to! My parents are thankfully not too freaked out, but my mom is making sure we are updated on the latest information and taking it seriously.
    The weirdest thing is that all of our theatre stuff has either been postponed or canceled. I’m not a hugely social person normally, so for me the theatre stuff is the biggest thing.
    We have been hanging out a lot as a family now though, which has been neat. We play games, make food, and watch movies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!
      Whoaa, you teach at a music school? That’s so cool. My piano teacher has also transferred her lessons to online–we’re doing it over Skype. How is it working for you?
      My mom is slightly freaked out, and my dad’s not (this is how it always is)–but I think we’re trying to find that good balance of updated and taking it serious as well.
      Agh, I’m so sorry about that. I hope you guys hadn’t been working for too long already? I know at my school before we started online school, they had just started rehearsals.
      Ahh, that’s great! What games and movies have you guys been playing and watching? The other day my friends and I figured out a way to play Codenames through facetime. Also, I saw that Onward is now available on Amazon! I am hoping to watch it soon :))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am teaching lesson over Zoom, and it’s kind of weird because I can’t hear my students as well, but I think it’s working pretty well.
        We were pretty far into rehearsals for the theatre showcase we were doing that got canceled, but we hadn’t started rehearsals for our main-stage musical yet. We were just about to start when everything started happening.
        We’ve played Scrabble and some card games and Pandemic. The other night we tried to play a Bible Trivia game but the game itself had several wrong answers (for example, it said that Bathsheba was David’s mother), so we gave that up. That’s awesome that you figured out how to play Codenames long distance! I want to pay that again.
        We watched The Farewell recently, which was super interesting. We also did a re-watch of LOTR (extended edition, naturally) and several Pixar movies. Onward is releasing on Disney+ on Friday, and my sisters and I are excited to show it to the rest of our family. When you watch it I would love to hear your thoughts, even if they are more criticism than praise.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. In a podcast I listened to recently, the hosts were talking Scrabble strategies–one of them is really good and has all the two letter words memorized. He was talking about how Scrabble is actually a math game, not a word game. What do you think about that? Yes, I’ve heard about Pandemic and how it’s getting popular right now–that’s both surprising and not. Hahah, oh no! I guess they forgot to get the trivia fact-checked.
          I didn’t even know there were extended and shorter versions of LOTR? Ahh, I still haven’t watched Onward yet. I promise I will tell you my thoughts, good or bad, as soon as I watch it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Huh, that is interesting about Scrabble. I can see how it is part math game, but I think it’s both, but one or the other. You really can’t avoid the word part.
            Oh yes, I am a nerd about LOTR. It was released theatrically (this is the shorter version) but afterward they released an extended edition, which had some much welcome added scenes. It is the only way to watch LOTR for my family. What’s hilarious though is that they did the same thing with the Hobbit movies…even though they already extended that story beyond reason by stretching one book into three movies. I haven’t seen the extended Hobbit movies because the whole thing seems kind of ridiculous.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hm, do you know why they released the shorter one first and then the extended? Did it have to do something with how long a movie in theaters could be? Hahah, wait I thought the Hobbit movies were for the series, not for the book. See, I’m revealing my extreme lack of Tolkien knowledge right now.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I think that it did have something to do with the normal length of a theatrically released movie, yes. The theatrical versions are for normal movie goers (though even too long for some of those) and the extended editions are for the diehard Tolkien nerds.

                Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post, I really enjoyed reading it 🙂 I’ve been in self-isolation for a bit but recently the country started lockdown which is lasting until april 22 at the earliest but probably will be extended, so I have online school and they’ve moved up the two week break to start today so I haven’t really had that experience yet but it’s going to be weird.

    Like

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