topic_interest is exactly reading
2021-02-17With all of the free time suddenly on my hands due to the pandemic, I was forced to find new hobbies that would occupy the time. Some of the hobbies that I developed over the course of the pandemic and specifically during the quarantine are following along to Bob Ross videos, fiber arts including latch hook and cross-stitch, and I have rediscovered my love for reading mysteries. These hobbies have helped keep my mind off of and cope with COVID and everything else that is going on in the world these days. Despite the negative effects that COVID has had on the world and individuals, it has allowed me and many others to delve deeper into new and old passions due to the amount of time that we have on our hands that we never had before.
2020-03-01Like most people living through these difficult times, I've found it exhausting to endure months without being able to see close friends and not being able to enjoy activities that I once took for granted. A lot of people have coped with these new, debilitating circumstances by adopting new hobbies such as baking breading and making pottery, but I've chosen to dig deeper into my favorite pre-pandemic hobby: reading. Before the pandemic hit my radar back in March (Like it did with most people), I had already amassed a collection of books that I had gathered from thrift shops or borrowed from the Phoenix Public Library. These books, whose topics ranged from Chinese science fiction (The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin) to 20th century European history (Reappraisals by Tony Judt), have helped me partially escape from the daily despair that came from watching the national death count tick up toward 200,000 people and the anxiety that comes with having friends and family who work in the vulnerable service industry. I feel guilty about escaping from our deadly reality into the pages of fiction, but it's necessary to prevent oneself from giving in to darkness and corroding your mental health. Besides, it's not like I have anything better to do with all of this time. Sometimes, I'd rather think about how it would be like to live in Ceres Station (The Expanse series) or to be constantly reincarnated (The Years of Rice and Salt) than to see the cold, hard reality around me (We're on the road to 300,000 dead by winter's end). Sometimes, you just have to drink the soma to get through this brave new world of ours. I just wish it didn't have to be this way. I just wish we had done better as a society.
2020-09-02COVID-19 has affected several of my relationships and how I have stayed in contact with friends. I wanted to talk about how COVID-19 has changed my interactions with one of my friends, Angie. I have known Angie for several years but we became really close friends when we attended the same church congregation in Provo, Utah from 2015-2016. When I graduated from school in Spring 2018, I moved away from Provo for an internship and I haven’t lived in Provo since. Angie also graduated around the same time and she continued to work in the same area. Normally, Angie and I will visit one another every other month and get lunch or I would spend the weekend with her at her apartment. The last time I was with Angie before COVID-19 lockdown began was in February. I was staying with her for a weekend in Provo, Utah for a wedding. On February 7, we got Korean BBQ bowls and went to an art museum. The next morning we woke up early and got kolaches. And I was thinking we’d get together soon in another month or so. For Angie’s birthday that same month, I sent her a sun hat because we made plans with our other two friends to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in June. But with the news of the onset of COVID-19 a few weeks later, we ended up canceling those plans. After a FaceTime call in April, we both figured out that we needed ways to stay connected while social-distancing safely. However, we didn’t have any new things to report because we were social-distancing. So we started our audiobook club to give ourselves something to chat about. So far we have listened and discussed The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11, I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, and White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. We are currently listening to Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood. Neither of us remembered who suggested our book club, but I’m glad we have stayed connected through it. Both Angie and I have enjoyed each of these books. They have made us much more knowledgeable about the world around us and I like discussing them with Angie. My favorite book we read together was White Fragility. We read it in response to the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. As white women, we realized we needed to better educate ourselves. We had a tough conversation, but I’m glad I had it with Angie who is incredibly compassionate and thoughtful. Besides our book club, we have had video chats with some other friends and we’ve texted one another. I finally saw Angie in person while she was passing through where I lived. We cautiously sat outside 6 feet apart and ate popsicles on my grass lawn. And I met her boyfriend for the first time! The pandemic has changed how I connect with my friends. I rely much more on technology and scheduled calls. I have learned to cut myself and others some slack for this situation because there is so much more social friction than before. Weirdly enough,in some ways it has helped with my social anxiety because I don’t feel FOMO (a.k.a. The “fear of missing out”). We’re all in the same crappy boat. The pandemic has also helped me think about why certain people are my friends. Now it’s less about proximity or someone’s availability but more so about someone’s loyalty, kind heart, or strong values.