Delarai has been having a hard time lately. She moved to a small village in Belgium with her family not long ago. She misses her friends in California. To add to all of that stress, everyone is fearful of the Coronavirus. How can Delarai make friends when they are sitting so far away? As she arrives home after school and opens the door, the sweet smell of rose and pistachio fills her nostrils. That smell could only mean one thing: Nan-e Nokhodchi cookies for the Persian New Year! Delarai runs into the house and drops her books on the sofa. “Mummy? Is it really Nowruz already?!” she shouts with excitement. "What's Nowruz?" Delarai's five-year-old sister Annalisa asks, running in behind her, out of breath. Delarai turns and smiles at her sister, “It's the Persian New Year, and it means spring is here!” she exclaims. Annalisa thinks hard, trying to remember what Nowruz was like. “Is that when we jump over the fire?” she asks. “Kind of,” says Delarai, laughing, “That's the holiday starting things off, it is called Chahar Shanbe Suri!” “That's right,” Mummy says, “Great memory! Do you remember where that tradition comes from?” Delarai scrunches up her face, thinking. “I think it's about burning away all the bad stuff in our lives. I'm so excited! It's so much fun to jump over the fire with everyone, even though it is a little bit scary. Is it almost time to do it this year?” “Yes, darling, but this year because of coronavirus, we have to be more careful than usual. We cannot gather with other Iranians to do this as a group. We must stay safe, but I will ask Papa to put together some fire in the backyard and we can still celebrate together. You can even bring one friend from school, now that Belgium will allow it! For Nowruz, we can also see family and friends if we stay safely in our social distancing bubbles.” “But Mummy, I have a hard time just choosing one friend,” Annalisa moans, “I want to invite Benaya, and Louise, and Dana, and Jasmine...” Delarai shrugs her shoulders, “I don't want to invite anyone Mummy, I don't have any friends at school,” she says, sighing sadly. “We still have time to figure something out, honey. Now, we need to get busy doing khooneh tekooni, cleaning the house. Would you like to help me out?” As they clean, Delarai tells her mom about her latest school assignment from her teacher, Madame Caroline. The essay topic is to talk about how your family is celebrating a certain tradition differently in the times of corona. “You should write about Nowruz for your essay,” Mummy suggests. “That's a perfect idea!” Delarai says, excitedly. The next day at school, when Madame Caroline calls on Delarai to read, butterflies instantly erupt in her stomach. She stands up from her desk, swallowing her nerves, and gathers her courage. “How my family celebrates Nowruz in the times of corona: “Every year on the exact day of the Spring Equinox, the whole family gathers to celebrate Nowruz. Everyone in our family helps to prepare the house and puts on new clothes. By doing this spring cleaning, we wash away the bad things from the previous year and prepare for better things to come in the new year. In the evening of the last Wednesday before Nowruz, bonfires are lit and we all jump over the flames. The flames burn away sickness and bad luck and it is the warmest memory that continues in the rest of the year. After that, every family member comes and sits together around a special table called the ‘Haft-Seen', which means ‘seven S's'. On it, there are seven special objects, all of which begin with the ‘s' sound in the Farsi language and which symbolise something meaningful for the coming year.” Madame Caroline approaches Delarai and asks her what part of Nowruz she loves the most. Delarai thinks for a moment. She wants to say that the best part is getting presents for thirteen days straight, but that this year will be different because they cannot visit anyone. Usually, for Nowruz, they get to visit all family members and friends that they might have not seen for a while. Suddenly Delarai remembers that there is one part of Nowruz that even coronavirus cannot take away. Her great-grandmother always said that Nowruz is not Nowruz if someone leaves the celebrations with a heavy heart. Yes, Delarai thinks, this is the best part of Nowruz: trying to bring a smile to everybody's face. That is the core beauty of Nowruz. You forget about all of your negative thoughts and feelings and help others forget theirs too. You give them all away to the fire. Then you have a fresh space for your good thoughts, good deeds, and good actions.
By the age of 5, I already attended a fair share of quincenearas and knew by then that I did not want to have a traditional 15th birthday celebrated by my Mexican culture. Wearing extravagant gowns with lace trims wasn't my style. I'd rather don a Jedi robe and in lieu of a flower bouquet, I'd carry a lightsaber. My parents, partially to blame for my love of all things Star Wars, gave me the middle name Leia, after Princess Leia. I was a freshman in high school and college and was turning 15 in 2020. My family kept trying to persuade me to have a quinceanera, even trying to coax me into having an 18th Birthday celebration, customary in my Filipino culture. Despite their persistence, they caved in and built the Star Wars themed party I dreamt of, including personalized lightsabers down to handcrafted Baby Yoda ears to wear, to be followed by a Disneyland trip. March, Friday the 13th, a day before my party, there was news about quarantine for this thing they referred to as Covid-19. All that meant to me was my party and trip were canceled. It was spent binging Star Wars to peel our eyes off of the coverage of COVID. We soon realized much was unknown, except for the numbers–numbers of infected, number of countries with outbreaks, number of dead. Numbers were something I loved, math was my favorite subject; solving equations or analyzing statistics. I've never been more scared of numbers. School announced we were doing distance learning and it became a reality, it wasn't just my birthday that came to a halt, everything I normally loved doing was put on pause. Everyone thought it would be 2 weeks, an early spring break. Two weeks became a month, a month became two. and then the rest of the year. It was when our school issued Chromebooks to learn from the safety of our homes that it cemented—2020 history included life in a pandemic. Online school brought challenges: I dreaded someone noticing I was still in my PJs, secretly trying to scarf down breakfast while in class, or dozing off because of the comfort of doing school at home. Uncomfortable desks and creaking chairs were something I thought I would never miss. I longed to hear the chitter-chatter of my classmates, instead of the silence of muted mics. There's a pang of guilt for feeling my world has turned upside down; it's not even remotely comparable to what others go through. Before the pandemic, my only worries were maintaining a 4.0GPA, working towards my AA degree, and meticulously planning that perfect 15th birthday. Instead, I was consumed with worry over things I never thought I'd agonize over. Extreme germaphobe tendencies of my mom plastered on sticky notes were instilled in me, I worried about what germs were harbored on each inanimate object I touched (or even just barely grazed). I felt like I was constantly washing my hands to the tune of Happy Birthday, a reminder that my celebrations were called off, not to mention the constant washing made my eczema flare-up. My hands were dry and itchy, burning when I would apply hand sanitizer for what felt like the 100th time that day. Breathing in another person's air became my worst fear as the CDC reported how the coronavirus spread. It shouldn't be an issue because I wasn't going anywhere, but my father's a correctional officer-a frontline worker. Every night we had a longstanding tradition; I would sneak to the room right before he fell asleep, and put one of my stuffed animals next to my dad as I kissed him goodnight. However, that petrifying word, numbers, haunted me at home. A great number of staff and inmates were infected. Anxiously, I would refresh the website that tracked cases at his work, praying we wouldn't see an increase. The news reported many frontline workers were making makeshift homes away from homes to protect loved ones. Our family just couldn't fathom the idea of dad living away from home. Hugs became air hugs. No cuddling together on the couch. Goodnight kisses turned into video calls as we made that heartbreaking decision because my mom and I both had underlying health conditions. My world became all about screen time. School had turned into Zoom meetings, visits with my sister and nieces who lived just a walk away were now on FaceTime, hanging out with friends in person became video gaming together online, and to be informed with the outside world, I was now consuming more television and social media than ever. My Sweet 16th was another quarantined birthday, which also meant the pandemic reached over a year! However, there's that glimmer of hope as I received my COVID vaccine. For a sense of normalcy, I get dressed up as if I'm going physically somewhere to meet online. I believe in science and chose to make the best of what I can do from the safety of my home and my newly transformed room my parents did for me to make things just a little bit easier. After all, I'm now spending so much time there, we might as well make the most ideal space for me to be in!
Looking back over the last year, 2020 might have been an awful year for a lot of Earth's population, but for a writer, quarantine was paradise. I completed almost 150,000 words in 5 different novels and/or novellas. Counting up the progress during January left me in awe of my own work ethic. The Quade family series is on its way with the second book in the series complete. The third book, about Alanna Quade is in the planning stages with one or two chapters already in the draft. Not in the correct order, but hey inspiration shall not be stifled because it came out of sequence. Stand alone novel Unexpected Complications is nearing completion with only the final arc to write. The Promises Series is through the second book as well. I'm looking at a major rewrite of the first book. Reader's suggestions have given me the strength to tear into my very first attempt at a novel. Considering it was written almost thirty five years ago, I think it deserves the help. I've become so much more than I was then. I have more than a dozen short stories in an Anthology called Hibernation dreams and looking at what I've accomplished on Reedsy.com https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/karin-venables/ I have 16 short stories posted there, some of which made the front page as great examples for the prompt chosen. You can find me on inkitt.com https://www.inkitt.com/knottyknitter You can find me on Wattpad. com https://www.wattpad.com/user/uschibear and on Tapas.io https://tapas.io/buggeredhip I've got my stories posted on these sites to promote beta reading. I'm hoping to self publish through one of several service available to the independent author. With luck you'll see my books available on Kindle and Kobo by the end of the year. So there you have it. My hope is 2021 is as productive. Keep on writing.
I am a Nigerian, living in one of the county's busiest cities ever, Lagos. You see, when we first read news about how Corona Virus was affecting the west, we came up with far too many theories, anything to convince ourselves that such an evil virus could not possibly touch God's own beloved continent. It was at this point that most people resolved that being in a country as Nigeria and a continent as hot as Africa was a bliss. You see, we only had access to a fair amount of truth concerning the virus and thus, we went on living our lives as though everything was normal. Unfortunately, we had no idea of how the whole of 2020 was about to change our definitions of normalcy. It was at the time that the first case of the virus was reported, that we understood how foolish we had been in ignoring the warnings and safety measures as seen in other countries and faintly broadcast by our media. It started with one case, and right under our noses, we had a total of 1000 infected people across the country and counting by the minute. A few months passed, and we went into a lock-down such like we had never had. Of course it started with curfews, which frankly, wasn't too strange for us, due to our military background. But to have the whole country shut down, from airports to borders, markets and churches, schools and offices was an event we were not prepared for. As the event unfolded, many began to lose their jobs and businesses. Offices which managed to retain their staff, could not pay salaries as usual, hereby creating a grave financial and social anxiety, thus plunging the nation into a state of panic and uncertainty. To make matters worse, surviving a pandemic became a battle; A battle that we for long fought, a battle that knows it's victor even before it begins. It is the battle of greed over compassion, intoxication of power, the wealthy versus the wretched. Across supermarkets and pharmacies, panic buying was the order of the day. Medical supplies such as nose mask, gloves, toilet papers, hand sanitizers and even Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which are only needed around here by medical staff when dealing with the infected were scarce to get a hold of. You would think that in such a time where it seemed as though the world would come to end, people would care little for money and show more compassion to one another, but sadly, that was not the case as the prices of these medical supplies which were paramount to the fight against the virus were hijacked by the wealthy, greedy and powerful in the society. The price to pay to acquire just one pack of nose mask was equivalent to a days meal for an average family of three. During the lock-down, I worked from home. This new development did not start immediately, and surely took some time getting used to. However, I thought I had it all figured out - Wake up in the morning, have breakfast, turn my computer on and work sitting in one position, till nightfall; This new normal was fast becoming! As the weeks went by, I grew tired of my new routine. With more restrictions from the government than ever, and little money to last the months to come, the hope and longing for my old life and routine were slowly turning into a far fetched fantasy. It was at this point that depression set in. As the legendary Greek philosopher, Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal"; thus, being locked indoors with no form of social activity whatsoever was beginning to affect the state of my mental health. The social media tended to be the only peep hole into the outside world, hence, several hours spent. Unfortunately, social media could not replace my normal physical social life. I remember days where I sat by the window, starring at nothing, trying hard to occupy my mind with positive thoughts, only that these thoughts were being blocked by tall fences and the sound of emptiness. I was drowning, and fast too. I cried more times than I can remember, I thought of my dreams and goals that I had set for the year and feared that they would never be made manifest. Then somehow, in the very midst of my scattered thoughts and fears, it hit me. I am not alone in this crisis, I realized that there must be someone out there going through the same manner of confusion, fear and uncertainty as myself or even worse. Suddenly my thought pattern shifted. I went from being afraid of not knowing how I would survive the next day to thinking about how to help someone survive the present day. I wanted to bring some calm to anyone who was just like me. I wanted to give people hope, hope for today and the future. I wanted to assure people that everything would be alright, one way or another. I began what I called 'The Lock-down Series'. A platform where I shared motivational videos on social media, that would inspire those dealing with depression and other forms of anxiety due to the pandemic. In doing this, I found purpose. I found me.
I expected to enlarge my world March 2020, attending a conference, discovering Wisconsin, and visiting relatives. Instead, my world grew smaller in the minutia of coordinating quarantine, navigating a pandemic, and fighting stagnation. When I became ill with flu-like symptoms, the world was normal—the construction of a major roadway through town, work schedules, and meeting and greetings of family. Nobody wore masks. I only met doctor with flu-like symptoms because of the virus in the headlines. My fear motivated me to be cautious of a disease spreading like the rainfall of brown needles below pine trees just beyond my patio. I was told not to worry because Little Rock, Arkansas is not an international transportation hub and our first case didn't come until the next day. Strep, flu tests, and upper respiratory panel sent off negative. For four weeks and two illnesses, I remained in quarantine. I was too ill to do anything, but according to local officials I wasn't ill enough to warrant breaking quarantine to be tested. It was safer preventing me infecting others or preventing someone else infecting me. My pets, cat Ricochet, and parakeets, Widget and Whimsy, were my only companions, so, for me keeping everyone safe was easy. I didn't leave the house, besides a couple of times, for a few minutes, stepping out in my patio garden lush with new growth and colorful pansies and removing bags of trash. I didn't touch the outside of my door, giving friends, putting themselves at risk with my needs, time to walk away before pulling supplies in. I saw no faces—masked or not, for almost every minute of a month. My birthday passed without note. I wasn't well. My life boiled down to mundanities. Despite depression and being introvert, I socialize, run errands for myself and my family of pets, and see doctors and therapist. Those lifelines were sharply cut. The only way I survived was through kind friends. Within my four walls extraordinarily little was done. I was often content to just lie down, staring up at my smooth cream ceiling staccatoed by the shadow of my fan blades. I journaled of pet interactions; fighting with my landlord over the ac which ended up 6 ½ weeks out; grief of my lost opportunity to travel; and the rain. The world wasn't well. The New York Times headlines told me all I needed to know about the world. Social media also told me what people were doing individually—working from home, coming up with a variety of ways to make masks, businesses shutting down with many jobs lost, people spitefully coughing on others to get ahead, and a growing online way of life for everyone—from museum exhibit to workshop video. The pandemic and weather eventually put me in a real funk, and I wondered what my mundane, monotonous notes contributed to people. It is easy to forget the global pandemic of such disasters as the pandemic. I thought about how even I, a thousand miles and without family or friend connection, couldn't imagine a pain greater than that which wrenched my heart or imagine the pain of those families there that day the Towers fell in New York City. So many lives lost or affected. As the headlines bolded New York's pandemic death toll from the pandemic as surpassing those in the World Trade Center, I wondered why I didn't feel about this greater disaster as I still do about the day the lives of those in World Trade Centers, Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania The pandemic was more than within my four walls. It was millions of people around the world touched in ways similarly and differently. People in hospitals were cut off from loved ones for fear of infection. People worried in lines over test results. Millions of people in the US alone lost their jobs and wondered how they would pay electric, water, grocery bills. Battles were fought in government agencies and among government representatives. Supplies like bathroom tissue ran short. The creative made masks and patterns for masks. Gatherings and vacations were canceled, enclosing or separating families and friends to the same four metaphorical walls as mine. People were bored. They were angry. They were anxious. They also looked forward to a future when all this is behind us. I was and did too. I hope writers also document people making the best of a bad situation by celebrating in parades; the pedagogical community overcoming obstacles to continue education; beautiful sunsets and sunrises created by lower emissions; laughter over the unending board games, movie marathons, and, yes, the hunt for toilet paper; and how people rallied not just for themselves but for those around them. I still wear my mask and practice social distancing. I still play with pets and tend my garden. I have picked up work on my portfolio defense for the fall—my graduating semester, and I am revising an independent study I hope to publish. All these things I write in and about are groundwork on which to build the rest of my writing and global life.
Time is our big asset. Time is our big asset and we should use it properly. I got the idea of the time spent on something great, even though it requires small steps, is better than the time spent for nothing. And the word "nothing" here can indicate different meanings to different people. If you watched a TV for 2 hours and did not get any useful insight then you spent it on nothing. If students spend their days watching youtube videos just for fun rather than studying and exploring more on their fields, their career will go for nothing. People work in different jobs from the cashier in McDonald's to being CEO of one of the big companies in Silicon Valley. Surprisingly most people tend to settle down and stick to one low paid job not trying their best and evolve. The reason is we have a proclivity not to change anything too quickly but be in our safe zones or as they say "Comfort Zones". We have dreams, ideas, and plans inside, that could change the world. But, we have to delay it because we were busy working 24/7. We work every day at the same job from paycheck to paycheck just to keep our lives stable. We always waited for the best condition and time to accomplish what we actually like to do and change. It is the year 2020. The year brought us many surprises along with deep emotional and practical lessons. The COVID-19 caused a pandemic in the whole world. We as a nation started fighting back the virus by taking care of each other and quarantine ourselves. Scientists throughout the world are experimenting to find the best vaccine that could finish the virus once for all. All the doctors of the world are giving their precious time (24/7), and dedicating their lives to save the human from this virus. They could also spend their time around family and friends but they chose to save lives instead. Doctors are the heroes of the world. Quarantine has lasted 4-5 months in different countries. The time in these months we had for ourselves was enormous. We had 5 months to spend with our thoughts and ideas, to learn something new, to self-develop, finally do the thing we always were prolonging for a better time. My daily healthy routine. I wake up early at around 4:30 to 5:00 am. The first thing I do is washing my face and drinking water, water helps our organisms to stay hydrated. Then I go outside to train. I run every day and try to overcome my own achievements in the distance. I think I grow faster when I compare myself with my past. Then, I take the first hot then cold shower, it trains my body to stay healthy and immune. Next is making breakfast for my family. We have breakfast at 7 a.m. After that, I check my phone for news updates for different topics and make a plan for the day. Finally, I will be ready for my studies and work at 8:00 am. A good healthy routine will help a person to get their targets in life faster than the ones which are mixed up. The story below is how I came to the decision of following a healthy routine. When I first came home after studies were overdue to quarantine, I did not have any routine at all. I finally was feeling free of waking up early and preparing for school, I was binge-watching my favorite series of "How I Met Your Mother". At first, I kind of felt good but then my days and time started passing so fast that I did not care about morning and night. At some point, I started realizing that I was just slacking off my time. My studies continued and became online. I became so lazy at that time, that I was not clearly focusing my attention on my studies. I had clutter in my thoughts. Sometimes, the things we want in life are not useful and healthy for us. We just do not realize it until we experience it. So, thinking about the outcomes of our actions at the current moment would make a huge difference to faster accomplish life challenges and targeted achievements. One morning, I just thought about life and what my intentions were towards it. How to make a change and influence the world, make it a better place to live. All that stuff comes from our wants and interests. If we find what we love to do and it is useful for the environment. We should not have the second thoughts but try as hard as we can, to make at least a small influence that could be helpful to the communities, societies, and the world. So, I also set my own goals and promised myself that I would never give up. And set up my routine and trying to keep it every day. Study hard and work on yourself to get the best future you could possibly have. Because this COVID-19 gave millions of people a great opportunity to spend some time for themselves and think about life and their actual wants. It also gave a chance to accomplish those interests we have inside but could not actually do because of our usual jobs and stereotypical everyday issues. Do not lose a chance and be the best version of yourself now. Because later you may not get this "sales ticket" again.
“I want you all to know that I am very proud of all of you. I don't want you guys to be scared of what is ahead, but just be cautious of the future.” It was the last block of the day and the teacher was giving us the same spiel that the rest of our teachers had been giving us since we found out today was our last day until April 23. “It's only three weeks,” I thought to myself, “we'll be back once the state says the cases have gone down. Once the curve has flattened.” The last bell of the day rang and I ran across the street for my boyfriend to pick me up. Students were scattered everywhere, trying to get to their busses. Everyone was laughing, joking, cheering. Little did we know what was going to come of this. The news did a good job of scaring us though. Every channel. Every platform. “Covid-19 cases are rising hour by hour.” people were starting to work from home. Schools were closing. College classes were being put online. Nobody would have expected where it was going. A few weeks later, we got an email. The email stated, “Due to the continuously rising cases, we have decided to push back coming back to campus until May 1st. As of right now, Graduation and Prom have been postponed.” Thirteen years of hard work. Thirteen years of studying. Thirteen years. Washed down the drain in just 10 words. These words bounced in everyone's head. Possibly no prom, after my dress was already paid for. Possibly no Graduation, after we had already gotten our gowns and counted down the days. All of our senior activities, memories, and chances, down the drain in just one short email. Later, the school decided it would be best if all classes were canceled for the rest of the year. My senior year was cut extremely short and I was in shambles because of it. Emotions were high. Any time I told anyone that I was upset, I got the same response. “People are dying. Graduation is the least of our worries” People are dying. Losing their jobs. Their homes. I was fortunate to be able to have my boyfriend move in with me, to be able to still see my family, and still have a roof over my head. But I still could not get the thought of Graduation getting canceled out of my head. Proms started getting canceled a while later. Then there were no large gatherings. Then it was Graduations. They were getting canceled left and right. Friends messaging me. Cousins messaging me. All of their schools had abandoned their Graduations. Stores were closing early, only allowing few people in. Masks were to be worn everywhere. Six feet apart. Our new normal was not ideal but we got used to it. We had to. Early July we had our Prom. It was parent sponsored and not very big. But we got a prom. I dressed up, got my hair done, and took amazing pictures with the Love of my Life, my best friends, and my family. The cases were low then. They were lowering and it was seemingly becoming better. Or at least that's what it felt like. About a week later we got confirmation that Graduation was still going to happen. No walking into our seats to “Pomp and Circumstance” like every other year, everyone had to sit six feet apart, only six guests allowed per student, and families were separated from other families. But it was a graduation. One we were not expecting. But what we wanted all along. That was four days ago. It was the best day of my life and I have never been more proud of myself, my boyfriend, and my Senior Class. All of our Class Officers made heartwarming speeches that left us all with tears in our eyes and we all cried as we threw our caps slightly in the air to keep them from cross-contaminating. I can't tell you what they will do with this next year or years to come but I hope that they do not experience the heartbreak, pain, and suffering we had to. Wear a mask, keep your distance, and don't judge others. Everyone has their own battles.
I`m going to tell you about a real event which happened several months ago. This story is about a young and unmarried couple`s history. Jake fell in love with Ann the minute he saw her. Ann was a pretty girl who had nice ways and was sweet to kiss and cuddle. Jake was a tall, strikingly handsome guy with dark hair. Every girl who saw him was bound to fall in love with him. Jake started to write letters to express his feelings to her. They were getting to know each other well day by day. They always wanted to be together. They were obviously very much in love . You could see real love in their eyes . Even if Jake hadn't seen Ann once a day, he would have really missed her. The wedding day was clear. Everything had been going well until that day… It was the night of March 31 st and Ann called Jake because of missing him. After a 2-hour-phone conversation, Ann told Jake that she wanted to sleep: - Ann : Jake , I want to sleep - Jake : Actually, It is time to sleep and I have a lot of work to do tomorrow. So I have to sleep right now. See you tomorrow. Good night! - Ann : But… I have to tell you something very important. …just don`t fall asleep early. - Jake : Well, but what has happened ? Do you feel Ok? - Ann : Just don`t fall sleep early and wait for my text message… Jake agreed to wait for her message and said good-bye. It was 1.30 a.m. Jake received a text message from Ann. The following were written in the message : “ Don`t bother and call me anymore, please. Actually, I don`t love you. Let`s forget everything, our love story and our past. Forgive me, please. …” Firstly, he didn't understand why she was saying so. Then, Jake called Ann, but she didn`t answer the mobile phone. He called her again and again. As a result, Ann turned off her mobile phone. Jake couldn`t believe that the only person who is the meaning of his life and he trusts gave up him. Jake read her last words with tears in his eyes. He was shocked. He didn`t know what to do. Finally, he decided to go to Ann`s home to hear these words from herself and wanted to ask why she made that decision. Jake was driving fast to get to Ann`s home and find answers to his questions. While he was driving , he didn`t stop calling her every minute. Because of the bright lights of the oncoming truck on the opposite side, he looked at the way. As he was driving at high speed, Jake could not control the car, as a result, his car collided with the truck. It was 2.30 a.m. Inside the burning car, Jake slowly opened his eyes from the sound of his mobile phone and regained consciousness. There was a text message from Ann : “ Happy April Fools` Day !!! I love you very much. That was only a joke. I will never give up on you. “ After 5 minutes, Jake died… Love is a wonderful feeling that only a few people get. You can fall in love with anyone but being loved back by the same person is very hard. It's hard to believe this story, but anything can happen in this life. Draw your own conclusions from this story.
On July 19, 2020, my mother and I finally stopped debating at 10 A.M. We get ourselves ready: a pair of jeans, an unenthusiastic t-shirt, shoes, and the last touch, a face mask. For several hours, we debated whether we should venture outside and if it was worth the risk. I assure you it was not. However, during the last few months, it seems as though our definition of what is worth the risk has shifted. We wanted out of the house. A day to pretend everything around us was just a moment that has finally passed. So, shopping was my suggestion for our venture out into the unknown. As we drove into the parking lot of the department store, I felt nervous, anxious. I have not been into a clothing store for the last four months or so. Why was I afraid? I was afraid of being around other people. I was petrified of being in one place for too long. And I was fearful of this being the place where I could encounter the virus, a place of unessential items, of no importance to life or death. First, I scanned the store to avoid too many people at once. We opted out of grabbing a shopping cart. Eventually, we had too many things in our hands and reluctantly resorted to the treacherous task of fetching a cart. The store had several carts already sanitized, but we do not trust their accuracy in disinfecting. I grabbed one, and I am perplexed on how I will clean the handle without sanitized wipes. I turn to my mother, who assumingly reads my expression, and she dumps hand sanitizer onto the handlebar of the shopping cart, rubbing the bar with her hands. I immediately become repulsed by her actions and reprimand her for such a cringe-worthy moment. Nonetheless, we continued sifting through racks of clothes. About halfway through the store, I felt sick. I could not breathe, and I wanted to rip my mask off and take a breath of department store air. I felt dizzy; my head was spinning, my heart rate rising. The risk of taking off my mask fluttering through my mind, and I knew I had to calm myself down. I had to remember why I was wearing the mask in the first place. It becomes difficult to do something that feels extremely alien. The mask has become a shield from the virus and a shield from the world we once knew. As my mother and I casually picked up items, I noticed other shoppers doing the same thing. Why are we all shopping? There is nowhere to go, nowhere to be, yet, here we are shopping as if we all have events to attend. My eyes scanned shoppers only to see their eyes in return. Their eyes filled with doubt, hope, indifference. Some seemed panicked and in a rush. Others daydream about where they might wear a new, pristine outfit. In contrast, some shoppers seemed determined to ignore a difference at all, unphased by the armor wrapped around their face, gripping their ears in an effort to remain a diligent protector against our one enemy. For whatever reason, we were all in this department store together, shopping for the future. Own futures that would help fuel our desires to maintain some sort of hope for the way things used to be. Uncomfortable with the amount of time we have spent lingering in the store, I urge my mother to the checkout counter. Another daunting task, spacing ourselves from other shoppers, practically holding our breaths until we reach the checkout clerk. An older woman, wearing latex gloves, a mask, and a transparent shield, waves us over to her register. She seems tired but does her job with ease. Her face is friendly, and her smile seems like it is always there, even through the adjustments of a world dealing with a pandemic. The risk she takes to continue her work makes me feel sad. She should not have to be here during a time like this. But maybe she has no choice, maybe she does. However, I still feel guilty and unsure of how to feel “normal” in moments like these. We leave the store and are emotionally exhausted, but the job is not over. We quickly throw our bags into the car and hurry to get to disinfecting ourselves. Ripping our masks off as if we just escaped an inhospitable terrain, we began the process of dowsing ourselves in hand sanitizer. The smell of alcohol sickens me, and the fumes turn from a haven to an inescapable high. We have managed to interact with society and engage ourselves in a common occurrence. I know my outside adventures will not always consist of the same feelings I experienced with my mother. The world will not always be in a state of fury and fear. I look at my son and see hope; I see the future of change in his eyes. And now that we can only see each other's eyes, I see people clinging on to a life they may have never seen before. My favorite author Paulo Coelho said, “Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.” I believe I see those who still see our world as hopeless, but I choose to see people like my son, unafraid of the challenge to see beauty.
Looking back only a bit, I am surprised how much my life has changed over a brief period of time. It feels like a life time, but the new reality in which we all are living started not so long ago, when it was a disease of which I heard only on TV. The quarantine in Uzbekistan, provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic began on March 16, 2020. From that day on, I, as well as all university students switched to distance learning. It was not the first time for me to use conference programs, since at my university, in particular the MGIMO-Tashkent, distance classes were held before quarantine, but the lessons were conducted with all my classmates sitting in one room, so it was even fun. During the quarantine, I had to get used to a new reality: many turned off their cameras and sat in silence, usually only the teacher spoke. I learned how to fully concentrate on what my teacher said despite the initial reflex of my mind for an easy distraction in such an unusual setting. Several months passed, at the end I and we all successfully passed the final exams. The quarantine has deprived us of the celebration of this momentous day for us but learned us how to appreciate simple things, how to learn despite changing realities, and how to feel united when we are in the distance. Training and the lack of communication with friends was another normality which I never though could change. Yet, all sports clubs were closed and it was even impossible to do my running program outside. I only took it as another challenge. From the very first days, I decided to rebuild a training program at home. And very soon I saw an advantage discovered there was no need to go anywhere to practice and work on yourself. I even overcame a seemingly huge drawback of not having the equipment for the exercise. I just started I went out to run in the evenings, but the quarantine was so severe that even for several days it was forbidden to run through the streets. Indeed, to maintain high immunity, constant sports are required. Fortunately, the authorities thought of it and allowed it, but by that moment I was too lazy to go out alone. Before the quarantine began, we traveled with friends, there were at least 3 people and it was great, since everyone is trying to improve performance, looking at their friends and achieving more every day. As it turned out, quarantine not only removes, but also brings people closer. Before the quarantine was announced, I had no idea that I was surrounded by such good neighbors. I found myself a partner in doing sports on horizontal bars among my neighbors, unfortunately he turned out to be stronger than me, there is something he strives for (a goal has appeared), and this is very cool. Sport is one of my hobbies, and quarantine has deprived me of that. I will now try to explain why I deprived it. The gym is the place where everyone trains, there is an incentive to do this, all the guys have a specific goal, they tune in before arriving at the gym, therefore, this improves the quality of training, and shows excellent results. Also in sports clubs there is always a coach who will correct you at the right way so that you do not get injured. This disappointed me greatly. Quarantine made it possible to finish the books that I began to read. Surprisingly, I started to break my book reading records. In five days I finished a book that has five hundred pages. During quarantine, I read four books that I really liked and they are all of a different nature. But more, I prefer business books that push you to act, achieve the next goals, and teach a lot. Today one of my favorite books is "From good to great", I also recommend this book to the readers of my essay. Apart from books, I started slowly learning German. In the second year, I will begin a compulsory course in teaching the German language, thus, being an excellent student, I would like to stand out among my classmates by knowing this language, and quarantine allows me to study at home on my own. Quarantine brings family closer. Oddly enough, I began to spend more time with my loved ones. Before quarantine, we sometimes saw each other in the morning at breakfast and later in the evening at dinner. My studying schedule is very tough and requires self-discipline, the beginning of the training courses is always at 9, and the end is from 4 to 6 in the evening, and if my friends and I do not decide to get together somewhere, I come home around 7 in the evening. And so quarantine pushed it all back, so we started spending more time. I finally understood the character of my parents and their psyche, thinking abilities and what motivates them to take certain actions. When we dine together, we often discuss politics, our future and what steps need to be taken to avoid trouble.
It has been said that hindsight is 20/20, and for the most part, I have heard this used with a negative connotation. My question is, does this have to be a negative thing? What if we rewrite the story of hindsight? 2020 started off, the way it did for many. I was curious what the year would bring? Grateful for the people in my life, especially my incredible husband of 15 years! I was loving my job, and I was so grateful that I had the privilege to care for such an amazing family! I got to spend all day with the cutest 4 year old girl, and we had so much fun together! Her imagination held so many fun new adventures for us every day! Then in the afternoon, the adventures would continue, with two boys who couldn't wait to get those school wiggles out! In the words of Emperor Kuzco, from the movie; The Emperor's New Groove, "Everything was going my way. Or so I thought." Now, I didn't have someone threatening to smash me with a hammer, inside of a box that was inside of another box, but I did have some major circumstances that were threatening to smash my hope, peace and dreams. The week of my husband's 34th birthday that is when everything started to change. We found out that his company had to make some major cuts, in order for the company to stay afloat. The only problem, we were told his company was considered "essential". It was a hard call that his boss had to make, several times that week. Our hearts went out to him. During this time, I had a health scare that we thought was "Rona" but false alarm, it was a virus that had the exact same symptoms but not the Coronavirus. It was my first time to experience a drive-in triage. That was a wild experience. Nurses and doctors would come up to your car window and take your temp, and ask what your symptoms are. Then based on the severity of symptoms, they would show you which driving lane to be in. They would write your symptoms on a post-it note posted to your windshield, so they would know how to treat you. My husband and I drove to where the test was, and you know it's probably not going to be a whole lot of fun, when the nurse who is administering the test says, "sorry". It felt like a bee was stinging my brain! After a few days, we did receive the good news, however I was still symptomatic so I needed to continue my quarantine. It was during this time that the world went into quarantine. My job was furloughed because the parents I nanny for have been on the front lines of this pandemic, at two hospitals. One parent worked days, the other worked nights. My husband and I, like many people have had to, apply for unemployment. Things were uncertain and very unknown. Yet there was hope and peace. We had gone through challenging times before, and it always ended up being good in the end. So we held onto this truth: "If it's not good, then it's not the end." My father-in-law has experienced a serious decline in his health. The family had to come together multiple times to think through what would be best for him? How can we get the care he needs during a pandemic? The nursing homes were full or going through a time of quarantine, so it was challenging to find a place for him. He went from one nursing home to another, to finally coming home, with hospice care and currently in the hospital, while this disease progresses rapidly. I had yet another health scare, with someone close to me testing positive for Covid-19. Round two of testing was taking commence. However, during this time, my husband had to stay with his parents so we did not risk getting his dad sick. The results took forever to get back. There was more good news though! I did not have Covid-19 and my friend recovered quickly, without any serious symptoms! It was time to get back to work, and I was so excited to see everyone! However, the weekend before returning, I received a phone call from the mom. It was time to find a new nanny. She said it was so hard to make the call, and she spent so much time thinking about it, but she was terrified that I would end up sick in the hospital from something that would be brought home from the hospitals. She didn't want to risk my already immune compromised health. I was grateful yet heartbroken, all at once. Now, the above is A LOT! If I let it consume me, but I hold this truth, to be self evident, "If it's not good, it's not the end." There was a moment in my life that I didn't know if I would walk or speak again, well that's a whole different story! Guess what, I am walking, dancing and verbally expressing my gratitude to be alive! I have great hope and feel full of peace that my husband and I have a beautiful brilliant future ahead of us! I have never been so grateful for my family! During a time where we are both unemployed, we have been able to knock out some serious debt! We have been dreaming together frequently and loving all of our chilling with Netflix, time. When looking at 2020, what do you see?
2020. I feel like that's all I have to say now. "Hey man, how are you?" "Oh well, you know. 2020. Am I right?" Then just laugh it off like it's no big deal. But it is. This is the year we needed. To open our eyes and face reality and just punch a hole in it. This is not a year of light or happiness. This year is a bottomless pit that we keep falling into. Month after month there's always some obstacle preventing us from finding peace. Yet, you still sit here and do nothing. I know how you feel: hopeless. Tired. You alone can't do anything for anyone and you're stuck as you see media feeding us lies and you just want to believe in them so badly, that the Government really is trying to help us by giving us money. So we don't cause an uproar from quarantine and covid. Big corporations feeding us entertainment so they can live big while we think we're the lucky ones. What about those that are unlucky? The people forced, stuck, in an industry that allows harrassment behind the scenes and corruption as we sleep. You think you can't change that? What about women's suffrage? 1852. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1950's. Malcolm X, 1965. Brenda Howard, 1970. These people represented us valiantly and justly, they had courage and they were hungry for change. Where's your hunger? You have to crave for a better world, not just lie in the comforts of your own home. We can unite as one, because past the skin and past the cognitive works that make you, you, all I see is a human. A human who has the same core beliefs as I do: justice, equality, and peace. What we are living through is anything but. And it all starts with you. Living and breathing for a better world, because we can do it just like the people before us who left their beautiful legacies for our protection. We need to do right by all the people before us, and for those are crying out for help, by standing up and saying "I want change." Start a movement. Be apart of one. We have a voice and together we can move mountains? You want to be heard? Then talk until your throat runs dry. You want change? Stand up until your feet bleed. Stand against those who try to control you, look them in their eyes, and say: "I want change." Because it starts with you.
The beginning of 2020, lots of people set off fireworks, brilliant displays of everyone's anticipation for the new year. As many admired the open-air art, maybe it seemed that the world slowed down a little bit, allowing time to reflect on career goals, relationship goals, routines, and diet changes. However, after the celebration, the world sped up, becoming just as fast as ever before (if not faster), like a constantly spinning merry-go-round. Everyone's chasing something, whether it's more followers, more likes, or more to add to our professional profiles, the world is infused with a "more, more, more" mentality. Don't get me wrong. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Of course, if nobody had this mentality, there wouldn't be any books being written, businesses being created, and so on. On the flip side, some people never take a breath. If you've ever seen the 80's movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, you know the quote, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Now, since the COVID-19 crisis was declared a pandemic, the world has come to a pause, like slamming on the brakes, even though nobody wanted this. Nobody predicted 2020 to go this way. The question, "What would you do if your life was put on pause?", a seemingly theoretical question, now becomes real for many of us during this eerie sci-fi movie time. Side note: This post is by no means being written to take the situation lightly as I understand lives are being taken by this virus. This is a devastating, frightening time that poses tremendous uncertainty about the future. Since I'm not a healthcare worker, I feel I cannot write about the situation, but since I'm stuck at home without a job, I can write to those also stuck at home looking for a brief distraction. If you've ever said, "I wish I could ‘blank' more, but I'm just too busy," now's the time! Fill in the blank. It could be read, draw, workout, call friends on the phone, declutter, cook, blog, learn a language, or whatever! Get creative. Also, if you're feeling discontent spending so much time at home and are willing to try something new, what about hygge? Hygge, a Danish trend meaning "wellbeing" in Norwegian, describes the concept of enjoying coziness. If you're stuck at home, there's no better time to make your atmosphere as cozy (and clean) as possible. You could accent a room with string lights, light some candles, prepare yourself a warm beverage, and get some snacks out to set beside you. It's important to take time to slow down and simply be present instead of rapidly scrolling through your phone or frantically replying to text messages. There's nothing better than setting the phone aside and snuggling up with a good book and maybe a blanket if it's not too warm. Other cozy activities to try are journaling, writing someone a letter, or watching one of your favorite shows either alone or with someone else in your house. Atmosphere is key. Perhaps, when it's safe to go out again, at least you'll emerge with a newfound appreciation of your home. If not, you could be absolutely sick of your home and dedicated to spending every waking moment out of the house (that's fine too). Either way, hygge could still provide some sense of comfort during this stressful time. And when the world speeds up again, slowing down every once in a while should come naturally. Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
Disease. Disasters. Destruction. Mass fear. Sounds great, doesn't it? Welcome to my world. We're in the middle of a worldwide pandemic like nothing we've ever seen before. Businesses are closed, shelves are cleaned out, if they're smart most countries have made gathering in groups of more than ten people illegal. Schools have been shut down, most, if not all international trade has been canceled, 1 in 5 households have had reduced work hours, if they are lucky enough to have any at all. There have been Millions of cases worldwide with nearly 600,000 deaths. Not surprisingly, most people have been told to avoid all unnecessary human contact. Makes sense, right? So, with school and work canceled, and the very strong encouragement to stay inside your house, what do people do? Not that, of course. Trails, and parks are more crowded than ever before. It's only been a week and people are sick of sitting cooped up in their houses, but you can't really blame them. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly perfect either. I've been out of the house a couple of times too. The problem I have with that is safety. It's obviously safer to stay in your house, and not socialize. That doesn't stop some people though. Now, it's not all bad news and stupidity. There is an amazing amount of good in this world too. You'd think that earthquakes and quarantines would drive people farther apart than they already are, either from distance, fear, or brawls over toilet paper and the last jar of peanut butter, and while those things have happened, it couldn't be further from the truth to say that the world has seperated and abandoned each other. Walmart and other major shopping centers have donated areas of their parking lots for testing. Businesses that are closing for the time being are donating their extra toilet paper and hand sanitizer. A distillery in Portland has started making and giving away hand sanitizer. Google and Microsoft are paying their employees even though they aren't working Authors and artists are making daily videos to help teach kids, museums are giving virtual tours, theaters are giving free online shows and ballet lessons. Adobe is offering free services, Amazon is giving RAISES to its workers in the midst of this. Police officers are parading down empty streets, singing for the people stuck in their houses. Those same people are singing together, helping to ease the fear that is so prevalent. Families are growing closer, we are learning to appreciate the loved ones that we can't have in our lives right now. For a while the #1 most trending video on YouTube was a message of hope from the prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The president of the US, a man renowned for being, less than spiritual, declared March 15th a day of prayer for the country, alongside a beautiful proclamation that quotes scripture and feels as if it came from a religious leader There are smaller things happening too. As they walk by each other on the trails and in the parks everyone smiles and waves at each other with joy in their voices. People are sitting on porches playing guitars to all the people walking by. There are chalk drawings with messages of hope drawn all over, people are having conversations on the sidewalk in rainbow colors. Silly pictures have been taped to windows all over my town, putting a smile on the face of anyone who walks by. Dozens of texts are coming asking nothing more than “How are you? Is everyone you love doing alright?” We're calling each other, just because we miss each other and want to see faces and hear voices again. So, if you're feeling down. If you're sick of being stuck at home. If you just want to hug your friends again, if you're hurting because of all the darkness and terror everywhere, because there is a lot, even before this happened, just remember: It is not all bad. It's been said before that war brings out the heroes in some and the monsters in others, and if we look through that lens at all those people who gave what they had, it's safe to say that our world can be pretty great when it wants to be. People rose up in this crisis, and donated time and effort and money to help each other. Look at all these examples of love and service, and that's without even talking about the people working tirelessly to end this disease. If you need more, just Google it. I found most of these within 3 minutes. I guess what I'm trying to say is this. I'm sick of it too. I need people in my life. But the key to happiness is you. You can choose to be happy no matter what is going on in your life, and the best way to do that is to try and make others happy. So, do that. Talk about positive things, check in on the people you love, draw those sidewalk chalk pictures, sing those songs, write those stories and watch what happens. Spread the love that you have, the love that you want, the love that this world needs. Because that, is how we make a difference in this world
I used to see anger like rolling thunder—precluded with curling, spitting skies, and a rumble so deafening your heart would quiver. A warning, a war cry, a natural effect of collision. A countdown to the final blow. I've been a bag of emotions lately. The predominant feeling I'm longing to tackle is this anger, but I have found that it's something of a nine-headed beast that isn't always easily identifiable—namely, it's been my method of coping and dealing with everything, no matter the true emotion lurking meekly beneath the fury. I have come to find that it's quieter counterpart to thunder. It's splitting strokes of lightning, young threads pulsing through my own currents. My actions are an attempt to discharge it, and I only cause more collisions, more bolts swirling in my dark matter. I yell, say words that sting, unhinge my jaw and sink my teeth unto the helpless—and I create more friction, therein, I never feel better. This isn't a pity party, although I am apt to throw one of those a little too often. In my existential quest to attempt self-discovery and find my ultimate purpose as a microbial being living on a dust mote in this expansive, never-ending universe—I've found a little something at the crescendo of these furious storms. A birds eye view of my past, my present, and even a smudge of my future. Is it indulgent to say that this all started with my own parents? A little, because I would like to think that it's not my fault. Yet, so would they—nothing was ever their fault, they don't remember, it was out of their control, and if they did mean it, you deserved it. In my childhood, you obeyed anger, but you were never allowed to be angry. If something bad happened, you forgave and never held a grudge. My present has been a hallowing and humbling look at cause and effect. There are twenty-seven known human emotions and I am still so angry. I am angry... When I am marginally inconvenienced. When I am anxious and don't feel safe. When I am failing and frustrated. When I am not feeling heard. When I am in pain. When my boundaries are crossed. When something is wrong. That's when I've realized that maybe I'm not actually feeling angry all the time, but rather, reacting angrily when I am on red alert. It's not bad to be angry, although it can be a mistake to react in anger. Anger tells you that something isn't right, it jumpstarts the fight or flight instincts in you and forces you to make a choice. We can't always see through the storm, though. Sometimes, we have to make a plan and wait it out. Intuitively, I know that I need to move myself out of the path of destruction. This means realizing that I need to take responsibility for my actions, for my feelings, and for the way I treat others. The time has passed for a relationship with my parents, but I can draw from our interactions as a guideline on how not to treat others. I can learn that forgiveness and boundaries happily co-exist. That being angry can drive change, but reacting angrily drives people away. I'm deciding to replace my hostile words and reactions with grit. When I am failing, frustrated, or inconvenienced, I will persevere. When I am anxious, not feeling heard, in pain, I will have courage. When boundaries are crossed, when something is wrong, when it's not safe, I will follow through and do the right thing. When I eventually find all of these things to be difficult to do, I will be resilient. And maybe—just maybe, I'll discover shimmering pearls swirling underneath.