Instructional Method is exactly University of Washington
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.
2020-12-01The week before the national quarantine guidelines were announced, I was on a choir trip to the Southern Division ACDA competition in Alabama. This trip was the beginning of my final high school plans, the beginning of the end. I was expecting to come home and tell my friends all about it, to plan for my next choir trip to New York City in a few short weeks, to soak up my last moments of high school, and, of course, to finally walk across the stage and graduate. It is kind of ironic that I was dreading the spotlight on me when I was handed my diploma and doing the awkward tassel flip, but now I wish I could have anything close to that experience. When I left that day for Alabama, I did not expect to never see a majority of those people from school ever again. The feelings of hopelessness and of worthlessness were shared among many globally, including myself, leaving me in a state of prolonged stagnance. Immediately after I got off the bus home from Alabama, I was sent on a train to my dad’s new house in rural upstate New York. I did not get to go home and get my things or say hi to my family. The next few months of my life consisted of my duffel bag packed for one week, random Amazon orders, and an endless forest. At first, I still had school to keep me occupied and feel normal, but eventually, that ended and I had nothing to fill up the days. My dad was barely home, as he had just started a new job, and there was no other human within several miles, not that I could talk to them anyway, but the thought would have been nice. I was completely isolated. I tried painting, baking, video games, and dying my hair, but nothing filled the emptiness I was feeling. I felt extremely unproductive, like I was just wasting away where no one could find me. Eventually, I decided to take advantage of the nothingness surrounding me. I ventured into the woods and saw a whole world that kept continuing amidst the pandemic. I was reminded that life kept going, and while it seemed like mine was completely frozen, that it would start up again one day. I started spending more and more time in the woods, watching saplings develop, the fawns growing older, and the stream carve its way through the rough earth. In order to keep a piece of that life closer to home, I created biospheres in glass jars so that I could feel the hope for life when I didn’t want to go outside. Through those months, I did a lot of reflection on the pandemic and what it meant for myself and others. I realized that my life will continue, I will continue to live one day, but some people will not if we are not in isolation, so suddenly all the pain of the things I missed was worth it. Eventually, I had to leave New York and come to Washington. I moved into my mom’s two bedroom apartment shared by her boyfriend and my little brother a few months prior to school starting. I began to experience those same things I did when in New York at first, but the difference was that here, I did not have a vast forest to walk into. I had approximately 1,200 square feet and a shared bedroom with a five year old boy to wander around. I had to learn to cope all over again. I turned to one of my favorite things, even before the pandemic: plants. A simple succulent now carried so much more weight than before, reminding me of life, similar to the forest in New York. I have since expanded my plant collection in my dorm room, reminding myself everyday that even when it doesn’t feel like it, I am continuing to grow and one day life will be back to normal. Once the pandemic ends, I will continue to care for and expand my collection of plants. I think that one day it will be cool to show people my “pandemic plants.” It will be a symbol of my growth through quarantine, a symbol that I made it. I never thought that something so simple would make such a big difference in my life. Everyone lost something during this time, but I believe everyone gained something too, and I gained some very valuable life lessons and insight. While the pandemic is still blazing forward and so many things are changing, I will try my best to stay inspired by life and inspire those around me as well.
2020-08-10It is human nature to ignore somethings over others through the application of selective attention. According to human psychology, we tend to focus on information that we think matters more while ignoring the presumed irrelevant details. The same applies to colors. They are flamboyant, bringing out the best, most salient parts of objects. However, they are merely as alluring without the shades, the easily ignored parts that make objects pop. If you were to ask me before the pandemic COVID-19, what the utensil that produces shades means to me, I’d probably tell you schoolwork. It means working on an assignment in Spanish class, drafting an artwork for art class. It’s something that blends into my life, something so easily accessible that I had ignored. COVID-19 inspired me to expand my selective attention, giving me an opportunity to deal with my personal crisis. It allowed me to realize the importance of shades. Pencils are typical. They have long and narrow bodies, a burgundy pinkish eraser on the top, and a greyish carbon tip. It’s everywhere, in school, stores, houses…So obtainable that people tend to disregard its essentiality. Before the COVID crisis, I use a pencil mostly under instructions: “use a pencil to darken circles for this section”, “please use a pencil to do the annotations”, “always draft your artwork with a pencil”. It had been an object that I associate with obligations and restraints. I enjoy socializing and being in crowded locations. Deep down, I know that spending time with others provides me an excuse to not face “me”. Being accompanied by technology since my early childhood, it’s easy to feel lost and hollow when I’m idling around; when I’m truly alone with myself. I didn’t like being with myself because I know I would overthink. So, I used to go out whenever I could. It is a personal crisis that I have avoided and procrastinated on fixing. Coincidentally, the pandemic happened, and I was forced to quarantine in my house, with me. As a member of Generation Z, I spent most of the first two months immersed in technology: Tik Tok, Instagram, and YouTube. I used all my time absorbing useless information online, to fill the emptiness I feel from lack of social stimuli. Until one day when I was spacing out at my desk, thinking which information dump to go to next, I noticed my pencil lying on the table. I picked it up, with nothing in mind, I started scribbling on a piece of paper. The products are in all forms, intersecting with each other but not showing any outline of specific objects. They are abstracts piled together. It struck me as I realized the freeing side of pencil. When you press it on to the paper lightly, the shade that comes out is lighter, and vice versa. I understood that I have control over the pencil and over what I want to do. Not some structured art assignment that tells me to have a meaning in my artwork, to go with the norms of art. It’s a language of my own. When I see the overcrowded lines, I feel the noisiness; when I see spaced lines, I feel the indifference and coldness. That day, I spent the entire afternoon scribbling and looking at lines and shapes that I had created with a pencil. A language is forming. Being focused on my “language”, I registered my change as I started tuning out my anxious and overthinking self. I am feeling the present, because every single line, is controlled by me. I need to stay focused on expressing my feelings through lines. One might ask why I wouldn’t write journals instead, that way I can articulate my feelings more intentionally. But writing is restrained, you have grammatical and spelling structures to follow. There are so many rules to adhere to in order to let the future you look back and be able to understand what the present you are trying to say. That’s exhausting. I started to use pencil to scribble every day before I go to bed. It’s refreshing, almost like a personal space where I express all my feelings that I’ve experienced in the day. Through utilizing my pencil, I can appreciate the beauty in gradient of shades, the beauty of my consciousness. I consider penciling the medium that allows me to connect with myself and be more aware of my thoughts and feelings. Even though pencil can only produce monochromatic colors, they mean color to me. It is my form of communication with myself. I’ve been out with my friends several times after quarantine. But now, I no longer feel the constant need to be accompanied by someone to be distracted from my thoughts. I’ve learned how to respect my personal space and alone time. A clear line between my “me time” and my socializing times is established. This change for me is immaculate as I change the lens I use to see the world in, but this time, with more self-consciousness with it. Pencil helped me comprehend the importance of self-acceptance and appreciation of the unnoticeable things in life. It made me more conscious of my surrounding as I continuously try to seek things that I’ve taken for granted or have ignored. It freed me from my personal crisis, giving color to my world through shades.