topic_interest is exactly writing in times of crisis
2020-12-15Coronavirus hit me as a senior in high school. It began as an exciting two-week spring break and then continued to alter my life and everyone else's with no end in sight. I acknowledge that I was lucky in the ways coronavirus affected me as I did not lose my job, any loved ones, and was lucky enough to stay healthy along with my family. However, coronavirus and its related restrictions did hit me in ways I never would have imagined. It started with the loss of graduation, the loss of closure at the end of my senior year, worsening mental health, and questioning everything that was to come of my future. I had a plan: a plan to graduate along with 400 other students, a plan to travel in the summer, and a plan to go to college. These plans that seemed so certain were all uprooted instantly. Instead, graduating high school seemed like a formality, not a celebration, college at UW seemed so uncertain and financially difficult that I questioned attending, and traveling became a walk to the park. In the first few months I found myself sinking into a depression, my body and brain shutting down. I felt lost. As time passed, I began to find purpose and to find enjoyment in little things I never would have months prior. In the first few months, I found myself trapped in my house with little interaction, falling into a rut of depression and anxiety. I slowly began to find enjoyment in small things that got me out of my head. About a month into isolation I found myself scrolling through years of photos and videos reminiscing on my pre-covid, pre-mask, and pre-isolation self. I instantly began to print these old pictures creating photo journals and I made several slideshows of photos I had taken or found throughout my life. I created a video of my senior year of highschool full of photos and videos portraying the amazing times I was able to be a part of. I watched myself grow in these photos along with some of my closest friends and family. At first, these old photos made me sad, made me feel so alone, and then the photos made me appreciate everything I have been a part of. Looking back on the past, I realized how much I took these moments for granted. The small things such as going to restaurants, attending school in person, playing sports, etc. While looking back at the many adventures, I appreciated every photograph, every laugh, every cry. I realized how important the small things were. This is when I discovered my love for photographs, collaging, and slideshows. Creating these photo journals and slideshows gave me a reason to get out of bed and made me feel like I had a life in a time like it felt like I was completely lost. I had a five-month summer ahead of me, the longest break from school I have had since I was five years old. These photographs allowed me to spend time and energy on something that distracted me from reality. Slowly, the reminiscing and creation of these collages of my pre-covid life led to a sense of longing, a longing to be rid of this pandemic. I then found a job and instead of dreading a shift, I looked forward to it as it gave me a sense of purpose. I would document my coworkers who soon became some of my closest friends. I took photos of us at the break, spilling mop water on the floor, and going on drives to buy us all coffee. I then used the photographs to document the time I was in instead of the time I had once lived in. As restrictions started to lift I began to see my friends again but not in the same way. We would sit in our cars in parking lots, at parks six feet apart, or wearing masks on each other's front yards. I photographed all of this. I made videos of us blasting music as we sat in our cars not being able to hug or embrace each other. I wonder how these photos will age. These moments I have captured are of unimaginable times. I will view these in years looking back as the best and worst times of my life. Slowly I was able to create my social bubble of work, family, and a few friends. ll of these people became my support system, my family. Through these last few months, I and those around me have gone through more than I have experienced with anyone else. This includes loss of employment, loss of income, loss of family members, and loss of mental health. I started to create collages and photo journals to give to those around me. When sharing these pictures with those around me it brought smiles to our faces as we reminisced about our memories together or laughed at the altered world we live in today. I found that when I got to my darkest points I found solace in my photos and the sharing of these photos. Later in quarantine during July a few of my friends and I decided we were going to explore Oregon in every aspect we could. We hiked beautiful mountains, swam in the lakes, went to the beach, and watercolored in parks. I documented all of this along the way. Now instead of looking back on what I missed pre-COVID, I look at what I found during COVID. I found my family, my escape, myself. I found that I have captured more memories during these last nine months than at any other time. I have done more for myself and with those around me than I ever have. These photos and videos have been my way of illustrating the positive effects of this pandemic in my life. A couple of years ago I may have looked at these photos and videos and thought why masks? Why social distance? Why so much time spent with my family inside? Now, they bring a smile to my face. Yes, COVID19 has taken many things but it has given me many things as well. And one day I hope to show what it gave me through my photos.
2020-12-16I’d like to start by expressing that when I started this paper I’d come to the early conclusion that I didn’t have an object that “helped my ride the covid crisis”. I had adopted the similar sleeping patterns of a hibernated bear and didn’t have a shiny, new hobby to show off. My thoughts mirrored the resemblance of a pinball game, half-baked ideas ricocheted back and forth in what, at the time, felt like a seemingly small head. My problem was that I didn’t truly realize the significance of this object until I was forced to introspect. With consideration, an object I’d choose to represent the duality of my life pre and post COVID would be a pen, not the type rich ladies would drape their fingers around and daintily dip into a rich, black ink in order to create the most beautiful calligraphy strokes. Just an ordinary, utilitarian pen. I guess before Corona this is exactly how I pictured it. There was nothing remotely special about a pen at the time, just a necessity for in-person schooling. The motion of grabbing my pen in the morning became just as routine as brushing my teeth; it had been a part of my routine since elementary school. In March, the static sound of the intercom interrupted derivative practice and emerged from the speakers telling students to grab their belongings from their lockers. At the time it seemed COVID would be the cause of an extended Spring Break. Thinking little of it, I tossed my pen to the bottom of my bag and blended in with the crowd of students rushing to the parking lot as if it’d just been announced everyone would be competing in a Nascar race and had to depart immediately. The thing about time is it continues regardless of circumstances. Eventually classes continued on Zoom and technology was incorporated in nearly every part of my day. Admittedly my new routine proceeded as follows: 1) Wake up and check my phone 2) Online classes 3) Homework completed online 4) Use my phone or computer on and off until bed 5) Repeat This was the most disengaged I had felt from both school and friends in years. I felt like I’d been placed on a conveyor belt and was just moving along without actually doing anything. My eyes transferred lazily between the Zoom computer screen and my phone. If my screen time was represented by a bar graph it probably would’ve looked like it pranced into a New York City elevator and rode it to the top without stops. Initially I was glad homework was switched to being strictly online. My keyboard acted as a catalyst as I completed my assignments much quicker than I would have with a pen and paper. After a couple weeks of this, the honeymoon phase had passed and reality loomed in like storm clouds. I became more aware of the growing disconnect between what used to be seemingly normal activities. Desperately trying to clutch onto life pre-Corona I picked a pen back up. Quarantine, so kindly, gave me mass amounts of time to spend alone. At first this juxtaposition was overwhelming as it seemed all the institutions I had once known collapsed around me. It was noticeably easier to fall victim to this pessimistic mindset, but instead I nervously started trying to process my thoughts on paper and journaling. The stay at home order had quite literally put up a barrier between the outside world and my friends. Journaling was the healthiest pastime I took up. It allowed me to work through internal barricades on my own time. I’d compare journaling to knitting - at first it’s just ideas (or yarn) trying to organize themselves in order to create the final product. Originally with either hobby it is both frustrating and confusing to begin, but with practice it becomes relaxing and the motions proceed with little need for thought. For the first time since pre-quarantine I felt clarity with my thoughts; the storm clouds were clearing out. If anything this was the most comfortable I had been with myself because there was no one else to compare myself to- just my pen, paper, and myself. I grew up with a negative connotation around therapy, so this was incredibly healthy for myself and allowed for tremendous personal growth. It also helped me break the technological constraints and dependency I was feeling. With this same pen, I also started drawing. Looking back, drawing has helped me tremendously become less critical of myself. I use to try to mimic other people’s art styles and would feel deflated when they encompass the same artistry. I finally learned how to doodle as a meditative purpose instead of it needing to be something I’m great at. Instead of allotting all my free time to technology, I used pens. The colors danced around each other on the page while my wrist controlled the motion. Even before the pandemic, I was aware of the social media crisis in our society, but lockdown reemphasized this concern of mine. This was a way for me to unplug. When I contrast pens and computers, I think of the theme of originality. Nearly everyone’s work on the computer follows the same monotonous MLA, Times New Roman font, double spaced papers, whereas everyone writes differently or has a different pen preference. There is more room for creativity and uniqueness to shine through. Overall, pens paved the way for me to take a step back and reprioritized. I came out of quarantine feeling more comfortable with myself and carried my writing hobby along with me from California to Washington. I’ve been staying in touch with loved ones through handwritten letters, something I certainly would not have done prior to quarantine and would have opted for a text instead. There’s something special about using a pen. Writing is so universal yet individual at the same time. Everyone writes uniquely and handwriting reveals personality traits. It’s something I’ve realized is special. The picture on the left is my mom and brother with their pens of choice, and the picture on the left is my holiday card my mom sent me in college; in a way pens unite our family.
2020-12-01Ever since I was a child I have always had a love for Nintendo and their many consoles and games they’ve made throughout the years. As a child I played on the DS and 3DS and have wonderful memories with those consoles in particular. Before Covid, I didn’t think much of the Nintendo Switch. I always thought about buying a Nintendo Switch but never went ahead to make the purchase. I thought of it as an unnecessary console and thought I could just stick with playing on the 3DS when I felt the need to play a video game. I always loved the dual screen aspect of the DS and 3DS, something the Nintendo Switch lacked. Everything changed sometime in February when the Special Edition Animal Crossing Nintendo Switch was announced. Animal Crossing was one of the franchises which I had a lot of history with, playing ever since I was little. When I heard they were releasing an Animal Crossing themed Switch, I knew I had to buy it. Little did I know what world the Nintendo Switch would open me up to during a time of isolation, loneliness and chaos. I preordered the Nintendo Switch only a month or two before the pandemic broke out, it was as if I knew something huge was going to happen and I had to stock up supplies. I’d like to think I knew what was coming, and I was doing a favor for myself. By the time my Switch was delivered lock down had already ensued and all of America was going into quarantine. It was March 17th when it arrived, and the Nintendo Switch from then on, has been very special to me. For many people, the release of Animal Crossing New Horizons alongside the themed switch was a bright light in the darkness that is the pandemic. Through escapism, millions of people were able to escape to a deserted island they could build up to their wildest dreams through this game and I was one of those people. This game helped me think about other things than the pandemic, it gave me some joy in these trying times. I played many other games when I first got my switch besides Animal Crossing including Fire Emblem Three Houses and Rune Factory 4 Special. All these games gave me a place to escape to, and for me, having a place to escape to during the pandemic was the best thing that I could’ve done. The best part was I could share this joy with others. It’s not only the games themselves that brought me some joy during the pandemic, but also the communities along with it. I made countless online friends through these games, ones that I’m very close with. Through Discord, I joined a Rune Factory server and made many close friends through it. I felt a belonging during such an isolating period in our lives. I saw how others struggled, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t let that happen to myself. I’ve always been the introvert type but even now and then I get bored only spending time to myself. These video game communities helped me form friendships and bonds during a time that was thought of as impossible. Through Rune Factory 4 I especially made friends I’m still very close with even now. If I never had bought the Nintendo Switch, I would’ve never found these communities filled with wonderful people who were just like me, looking for belonging, looking for a friend, an escape from reality. Not only can I share my love for these games with these people, but I can share my Nintendo Switch with my family as well. While I’m quarantined with my family we would bond by playing games together on my Nintendo Switch. I never get to hang out with my older brother much since he has a full-time job, but I was able to get him to play with me and my sister, it was a heartwarming and fun moment I will keep as a good memory even during the pandemic. The Nintendo switch is a mediator between my quarantined space and the outside world through the internet. I can play online games with my friends and meet people through online gaming communities. I can see when my friends are online and see what they are playing. This day and age, with technology it’s so easy to connect with the outside world from your own bedroom, and so I did it with my Nintendo Switch. The possibilities of the Nintendo Switch are endless. Even when the pandemic ends, the Switch will never lose its value to me. I have made so many good memories with this Nintendo Switch over the past months I’ve had it, and I plan to make many more. There are many games coming to the Switch in the future such as Rune Factory 5 which I’m looking forward to. This time I have many friends who play the games I play, so when I start new games they’ll be by my side, and we can bond while playing the games together.