Coronavirus. The end of the world as we know it. Thousands of people struggled to adjust to the new way of life. For example, school has been split between virtual and brick-and-mortar, a term we all hate. School, and life in general, doesn't feel real. It's like I'm reliving one day, each day, over and over, in a constant cycle that only ceases when I'm asleep. One aspect of life that helps slow down the endless cycle is the routine of school. The best part of school besides the rare sighting of interesting classes is the searching for a nice group of friends and keeping them. You have to find people you vibe with, or it won't work. Finding the perfect group of high school friends takes work. Like finding the perfect pair of glasses. If the energy is blurry, I can't see myself staying in that situation. With there being so much distance between people playing it safe and people risking their lives, I feel like I know nobody. It's difficult to actually socialize considering I have never seen some of these people in real life. The pull to attend brick-and-mortar school is strong, but my desire to not catch a virus is stronger. Especially with people breathing down my neck constantly, trying to guilt me with “I miss yous.” Texting me “it's so fun here.” Don't forget the fan favorite “they give out free snacks.” They also give out a free virus that I'm not interested in. When the option was proposed for students to return to brick and mortar, I knew from the beginning my answer would be no. Some kids were eager to return, but not me. Sure, it would prove to be a fun social experience, where you could meet lots of new friends. But I didn't want to meet the coronavirus along with them. This decision to stay safe and at home didn't sit right with my friends. To this day, I receive requests to log into the district portal and switch that selection to “brick and mortar.” It's weird to think that I won't truly step foot on my school until sophomore year or later. Even though my friends miss me, I'm not comfortable with returning to normal school. People can pull my leg or try to convince me, but I won't do it. I'm happy standing my ground just as the coronavirus cells will stand infectiously in their noses.
We've all lived a life that we considered to be normal. Nothing has ever questioned the normality of our everyday routines, at least, nothing until recently. Not many people in this world have truly faced a pandemic, if they have then they might already be aware of the terrors that come with each pandemic that occurs. Many younger generations, including myself as a Gen. Z., have not yet had this previous experience when facing such a drastic and overwhelming change. For me, pandemics are something you only learn in a history class, like the infamous yellow fever. The idea of experiencing an event similar is something I couldn't have imagined especially as a seventh grader. At least, not until the middle of my eighth-grade year. When COVID-19 first created an uprising, it was feared, since it was something, everyone was uncertain about. What made this uncertainty worse, especially for me, was the idea of not having a cure or solution. When the news plastered the overwhelming information and the internet posted daily updates on the growing cases, it was almost terrifying. It was a new society that evolved based around this commotion. I still remember the empty shelves in the stores and my mom getting groceries early in order to stock up on what the news had been saying, "was going to run low for a while" whether it was toilet paper or canned food. The commotion reminded me from a scene in a zombie apocalypse show, like where each character would rummage through abandoned stores looking for medicine or canned food. To me, the terror was each "what if." Not only that, but I wondered, "For how long do I have to live like this?" I remember in the beginning, getting ready for track practice. Everyone on my team was so excited for the first meet of the season after working for about two weeks to get where we were. It wasn't until the highly anticipated meet got canceled, and then canceling practices for the rest of the year. Soon, my school moved completely online. Every student had to move their belonging from their lockers back home. Each day we went in order of getting our books and notes based off our last names. I remember being one of the last and grabbing a box to shove my textbooks and notebooks into while wearing my cloth mask. I remember the following week being the first where I got introduced to online learning and the now infamous platform, "Zoom." Classes ran shorter, and teachers didn't know how to adjust to such changes - I was barely into the second semester when a trivial event, like COVID-19, had to take away that comfort of my routine in my own life. There was no more going to school regularly, there was no more eating in at restaurants, no more seeing friends I used to see almost every day and the hardest was no more seeing my family which just showed this dire feeling of hopelessness in society. I remember looking at social media to everyone's silence and invisible cries on the growing depression and loneliness we all felt from being alone. I think this feeling that was building up was something that everyone could relate to. It was something that the entire globe was experiencing. To me, it didn't matter what the background was since we all had that one common emotion relating to coronavirus. Of course, with this virus being global, it stirred conflicts that were especially apparent in the news like pointing fingers at China or any Asian related country for the faults of COVID-19. These past couple years of being isolated and in this pandemic was time where every group of people, whether it was political or not, pointed fingers or argued on topics that may have not been related with COVID-19. We all were in a period of frustration and anger, and a time of reflection that would soon turn to a period of protests or riots around the country. Now, referring to the isolation it allowed most of society to turn to social media. The new hit being "Tik Tok." This is where being isolated didn't have to mean being bored or depressed, or even stressed of the current political, economic, or other underlying issues around the world. It was a platform that gave us entertainment. It was a way to get our newly developed voices and opinions to be heard, with the more time on our hands of course. For me, I think the pandemic was both a time of reflection and a new start for the country to be able to understand; however, I think that it was also a time of chaos and fear that instilled its way into our world through the overall idea of the pandemic. Though today COVID-19 still exists and constantly mutates into another variant, we can try to live to what can now be a life of normality whether it is living with more vaccines or more masks in the world. This is now what is going to be common and what is going to be "normal." So, for me, I don't want to live again not being able to be thankful for another form of a routine that I had before.
It was a very long groundhog day. It all started in March when schools, courses, play stations, cinemas and all possible places where everyone could get infected began to closing up. The school hadn't worked for a month. These economic crises have been continuing for now. Some branches were opened off the record. Mostly, computer clubs or bars were running themselves unofficially. To be clear, anyone who had offline business couldn't have made a lot of money.Before pandemic our city was quite polluted because of contaminated air.And my friend's friend recommended to buy masks to filter the air.Even though it did not help a lot,I bought 60 masks for 2100 Kyrgyz soms.Half of it was black and the other half was white.Then one mask costed 35 soms.In period of pandemic I sold some of masks for really high price.It was one of the safest masks for breathing.I gave masks to the store which is in our yard.By the way store owners were my neighbors.So,I offered them this idea and we made a deal.One mask costed 500 soms and you could use it for a month.So masks were sold out.It was really good idea and I embodied it.I don't know why I did this because I didn't need money.I didn't even spend this money.I think it was not even to make money,but simply to implement the cool idea.Once we tired to sit at home and went to walk.And we were shocked that there was no one in the street.Fresh air like in mountains,trees were much greener and livelier than before quarantine because no cars were being driven,so no traffic jams and unclean gases which cars produced.After this,you begin to appreciate nature and become more friendly to the environment.Also we had curfew after 8pm.To be out,after curfew without permission was to risk punishment.In the summer 2020,I got sick of Corona virus.I'd been ill for three days.Firstly,you feel weakness but everybody have different types of symptoms.It seems to me that after the Corona virus,everyone became weak and lazy and began to forget all events.Perhaps,these“everyone”were my grandparents.They started getting older.I visited them everyday,so I noticed it then.But in general,in my family no one had been sick with the virus for a long time.Then school started.This was the moment where very groundhog day started.My school was online, and it was quite bad.I studied at usual public school.I was in 8th grade.First of all,I thought that we are going to study on zoom with cameras,but most of lessons were on Whats App.Most of the teachers just sent video tutorials for a topic of lesson and sent exercises.So they didn't teach us.Some teachers didn't even answer to my questions.All we needed to do was register ourselves.So everybody liked doing nothing.That's why I decided to change my school.It was quite easy to study for me so at the end of 8th grade,I finished it with excellent marks.To be honest,I sometimes cheated.So,the first rule is to learn by yourself and not to wait until someone forces you.At winter I bought one game and played it for whole winter and spring.Cinemas and all possible branches began to be open.Of course, they had been closed and opened for many times,but by the summer everything was open.Every week something new came out,I mean movies,games and serials.After sitting at home and not doing absolutely any sports,I got hypodynamia.After taking two-weeks of massage therapy at 8 am on the other side of town,I started to exercise frequently and became healthier.Everyday was alike.A looped day is like in which you wake up and try to do something interesting and looking for something to occupy yourself with.It was very boring at home so I tried to do everything.Everyday I walked and rode a bike.I replayed all my video games,board games,started to learn math,all school objects and read all books.I could do all stuff and hobbies that I couldn't do before quarantine.One year of sitting at home gave me more opportunities and free time to build a plan or think about future but I didn't do anything. I just lied on bed,watched YouTube,played games and did some useless things.It's hard to control your will or future because there is a lot of temptations in life which divert you from your goals and aims.Only strong people can upgrade themselves and fight with laziness.So laziness is killer of your aims.To be honest,I won my laziness at the end of spring 2021.Also my eye vision became very bad to end of the year.To cap it up,results of pandemic had been bad.But there were also many good sides.I think it was a break or pause to think and do what you couldn't do before.It was challenge for people, everyone perceived it differently.Relationships between loved ones got improved.Personally,I began to communicate more with relatives.During this time,some people slowed down and became lazier.Everyone has spent this pandemic in their own way,fun or sad,productive or useless.As if the time had stopped for the humanity,to look back at their mistakes,to slow down and to understand the main value of life.
Do you know why I wanted to write about this topic? There is nothing in the world like the smell of hot bread made from natural wheat flour and baked in a hot “tandir” (Uzbeks bake bread in a special oven made of clay)! Especially if this bread is covered with the loving hands of your loving mother! This process may seem simple to you, but the smell of hot bread has become unforgettable for me due to one incident… Beautiful spring. However, due to the quarantine caused by the spread of the coronavirus, no crows are seen on the streets. My family (me, my husband and my little daughter) and I live in a rented apartment in one of the city's apartment buildings. The reason for the pandemic is that we almost never go out of the house. We only go out when we need to (usually my husband does). In the apartment across from us lived an old Korean woman (she spoke to us in Russian). He took his dog Niki for a walk every morning and evening. My daughter loved playing with Niki. The old woman lived alone. From time to time the old woman would come to see her sister, who was standing a stop away. I used to hang a bowl next door to my neighbor while I was cooking delicious meal. We did not leave the house due to quarantine. Of course, we barely met our neighbor's lonely old woman. One day my daughter Malika and I opened the door to go outside to pick up trash. The door to the apartment across the street (the old woman's house next door) is open. I was surprised. The lonely old woman would never leave the door open. At the sound of our footsteps, Niki looks out the door with sad eyes. When he saw us, he jumped out of the door and started walking around us. I thought Nicki was happy to see Malika. But for some reason Niki began to lead me to the open door, biting my anxious skirt. I was really scared to go into my neighbor's house. At that moment, a thousand thoughts crossed my mind. Then I gathered my thoughts and decided to go home. As far as I can see, the poor old woman is exhausted and helpless. Looks like she haven't tasted meal in a long time. We immediately called the doctors. At first we thought the old woman had a coronavirus. Fortunately, he was not diagnosed with the disease. She had high blood pressure, dizziness, and fatigue. He left the door open so that no one would know when I died. We also admired Niki's intelligence and dedication. Without him, his master would have died. We often took out food for the old woman, and for Nikki as well. Soon the old woman recovered. One day the old woman said to me, "Dilya (that's what she called me), if you go to your village, bring me a loaf of hot bread baked in the tandir, and I want to smell the hot bread". I said with pleasure, "When I go to my village, I will bring you hot bread". Days passed, and the air became hotter and hotter. When you go outside, it burns like a hot oven. It was the arrival of summer. At this point, you want go to cool places and relax around the eastern stream. Fortunately, quarantine restrictions in Uzbekistan have been eased. Now it's time to go to our hometown. We were very happy with that. On my way to the village, I was overjoyed to be able to bring hot bread to my neighbor. We had a pleasant weekend in the village. My husband was called to work because the quarantine restrictions were relaxed. I immediately went down to bake hot bread. I hurried to town, hugging two loaves of hot bread. As I went, I imagined how happy she would be to give the hot bread to the old woman next door. Little did I know that we had come a long way with such thoughts. Here we are at our destination. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw people gathered in front of our house, and something stuck in my throat ... In the morning, the old woman died. Sorry, I didn't make it ... I burned myself, but to no avail ... Since then, when I smell the hot bread that has just come out of the oven, my heart becomes strange ...
Nisrine is confined to the balcony — not because of a pandemic. Madame has simply ordered her to not leave the house. Though Balcony Nisrine (the nickname I've given her) is a character in a book and this lockdown is my reality, I struggle to decide which scenario is worse. I always judge a book by two things: the cover and the first line. I subconsciously chose the book while skimming aisles of a Dollar Tree over a year ago. It reminds me of me: a hardcopy with an unfussy cover. A simple appearance to contrast complex inner contents. (It being a one dollar is a plus.) To my expectation, the first line of the story piques my interest. But the book doesn't get opened until my brain is cornered, two weeks into the lockdown when I finally decide to do something more productive than: Watering my succulents (all nine of them died a month into the lockdown from overwatering); color-coding my already–color-coordinated closet; video calling people who I never had a substantial relationship with prior to 2020; and watching DIY videos on YouTube. (I've learned how to give a mediocre self-pedicure, make banana-oatmeal cookies, and use toilet paper to remove stains from white sneakers.) I read the first page of the book in full. Then the second section. I read the opening line of that second section again. The rains came to the foreign city with red skies. I like that the sentences are short, gentle, and poetic. I continue reading and make substantial progress the first two months during lockdown. But I abandon the book because I begin an unexpected romantic relationship with a friend. Developing a romantic relationship during a pandemic is trending. Everyone I know is suddenly in a relationship. But I believe this is mainly because solitude inclines hearts to grope for love, or anything related to it, even if only on the surface and from a distance. I am not the exception. But the policeman in the book is. He has access to family and colleagues. He has the entire city in the palms of his hands. Yet his heart gropes for unreachable Nisrine — her balcony existence. Much like the pandemic, my relationship is precarious and transient. I fall in love with someone who will eventually be a fiancé until he decides that he isn't ready to be with me; the pandemic made him do it. And, just like that, the number is deleted; the ring is gone; the pandemic is dwindling; I return to the office and remove the “Congratulations” balloons, toss the engagement ring streamers, insistently thank my boss for the expensive gift he bought us when “us” was a thing — but I keep the “Newlyweds Forever” mug for heating up ramen. But I digress. Reading about someone falling in love who is confined to a balcony is hopeful during a pandemic. I stop reading the book right after the policeman risks his life to show love to Balcony Nisrine. Before the vaccination and the proposal. Before the in-laws meet. After we share a non-Facetime first kiss. (The phone is inert; his lips, dynamic.) Why that relationship at that time? Because Balcony Nisrine motivates me. Because the lockdown circumstances have ironically become the ideal ( — remote love is better than no love, right?). Because I haven't gotten to the part where war breaks out and Balcony Nisrine returns to her home country and takes her heart with her. The part where virtual conversations triumph in-person dialogue because we've forgotten how to socialize independent of technology. The part where the policeman cries himself to sleep at night. The part where proposals become entertainment and relationships are a result of loneliness, not love. The part where you only remember how to love from afar. Actually, I don't know what happens after the policeman risks his life to visit Nisrine on the balcony because I haven't finished the book. Does Nisrine return home? Does the policeman cry himself to sleep? Who knows, but I do know that the lockdown made people hopeful. And that hope could either create or break a person's heart. And that I was part of the group who experienced the latter. The policeman has a heart that has ached for a woman he could only love from a distant. So, his solution is to risk. Go to her, even if prohibited. Even if loving her puts him at a disadvantage. Even if they both understand that the “right” time will never exist between them. He lets his heart grope for her though he knows the furthest she will go is the balcony. I used to pity Nisrine — stuck in the center of the city with nowhere to go but within. Now I envy her. Favor her fictional scenario over my reality. To have a slow, unexpected love that surpasses distance — deep and risky and unambiguous. Well, it could've been a result of loneliness, not love. But since I don't plan to finish the book, I technically don't know if Nisrine and Policeman's love ever ends. And that is reason enough to envy Nisrine.
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!
I opened my eyes at the insistent sound of my alarm. It was such an annoying sound, I hated waking up like that, but I had to, I needed to revise something for school and I couldn't ask my parents to wake up at 5.30am so that they could wake me up, right? It would be extremely selfish. Especially because the reason was not a real reason. I opened the window and the sun rays entered my room. I didn't even bother putting some clothes on, nobody would notice anyway. I know I'm lazy, but online school really brings out the worst part of you. I experienced it in my own skin. As usual from a month or two - I lost track of time, every day is just exactly like the one before - I sent a text to my best friend, Anna, asking her how she was. She had Covid-19 and she was at the hospital. I couldn't go visit her, but that was fine, we always FaceTimed each other, at least once a day. I revised history and at 7.30am I checked my phone: no answer. Maybe she was still sleeping. I turned on my computer and clicked on the link our Italian teacher sent us. Great, another Italian lesson where she won't stop talking. She's a good teacher but since we're in lockdown, she just goes on and on and on with our school program without ever stopping. It's April and she's already doing something we should do at the end of May. At 10am I check my phone again: still no answers. But I mean, wouldn't I sleep until 11am if I could? Most definitely yes. I had a 20 minutes break, so I decided to have breakfast. I can eat at any time and sometimes I just forget to do it in the morning: it's not healthy, but I still do it most of the days. I returned to my online lessons: I had history, the teacher was going to test some people. I wasn't even that anxious, I had my book just next to me, if I didn't remember anything, I could just look at it. But then, then something happened, something I could never even imagine that would happen. I received a call. Obviously, I did not answer for two reasons: I was at school and it was an unknown number. They called again 5 minutes later. And again 10 minutes later. The fourth time I left the zoom call, the history lesson, and answered. I would just say I had “internet issues”, it's not like they can know in any possible way. I heard a voice I did not recognize. Maybe a male? I wasn't sure. They said “Hi, is this Valentina?”. I answered affirmatively. It was probably just a call center, always calling at the right times of the day. “I need to give you bad news.” They said. Oh no, I didn't like how that was going. They hesitated. “Come on, just say it, this way you're making it worse.” I said. “Anna has passed away this morning. You were in her “favorite contacts” list, therefore I thought I should call you.” I froze. “Yes, great nightmare, now can I wake up?” I whispered to myself. “I'm really sorry.” They said. Wait, was that really happening? It couldn't be possible, Anna was 18, she was in good health. It must have been a nightmare, right? “What is happening?” I asked. “I'm sorry.” They said, and then they hung up. I looked around me: everything was in the right place with the right colors: it couldn't be a dream, it was too vivid. I fell on my knees, finally realizing it: Anna was dead because of a stupid virus. I was sure she was going to get better soon enough, I was so sure. How did that happen? I felt a tear rolling down my cheek. I couldn't move. I don't know how long I stayed in that position, I just know that my memories after that moment are very blurry. I remember my mother hugging me, I remember walking upstairs and laying on the bed. I remember crying until I passed out. The next thing I remember is going to her funeral. No, it had to be a nightmare. Just let me wake up.
“Put yourself first.” It's a mantra that most of us live by and practice daily, and in the midst of a crisis, our own survival and wellbeing become especially imperative. But just because we put ourselves first doesn't mean that we should forget about others. The world functions the best when people help out one another and make an effort to show that they care. This seemingly simple concept is challenging for many, myself included. In the early days of the pandemic, the only thought on my mind was how much of an inconvenience it was on my life. I didn't realize then how fortunate I was because I was too focused on myself to stop and wonder for a single second how others were managing. This wallowing in self-pity lasted for a couple of weeks until my stay-at-home mom suggested that I help her deliver food. My mom has been an active participant in the food assistance programs at our church over the past few years. She'd gotten especially involved in the Fern Street Backpack Program, which delivers backpacks full of food to food-insecure families with children enrolled in the school district. When remote learning went into effect, my mom switched to home deliveries. But delivering forty-plus bags of food all over our town was no easy feat, and my mom needed help. Seeing as I'd been laid off from my three part-time jobs and was holed-up at home, I was the perfect assistant. Prior to this, I had little involvement with food assistance. Sure, I knew what it was, but I'd never experienced it myself or been close to anyone who had. The neighborhood where I live is upper-middle-class, predominately white, educated, and privileged. This was the environment I'd grown up in. It was all I really knew. I'll always remember the first few days of our deliveries and how shocked I was at how drastically different living conditions were just on the other side of my town. Every Wednesday and Friday, my mom and I would drive to each location, lug heavy paper bags—two per family—overflowing with food out of our car, and leave them on doorsteps or outside of housing complexes. We'd wait for someone—usually a mother, some of whom weren't much older than me— to collect the bags, then drive off to our next destination. On one day in particular, it was incredibly hot—blistering, even. My latex gloves were damp with sweat and my bare legs stuck to my car seat as my mom pulled into an apartment complex where four families resided. She eased over a speedbump, being extra cautious since we had eggs in the back, and parked under the shade of a tree. The mother of the first family, who I'll call Nadine, lived in the basement of one of the apartments. She was disabled and had a hard time walking, so we routinely delivered her food through her window. As my mom unloaded two bags from the car, I called Nadine on her phone to let her know that we'd arrived. “Wonderful!” she exclaimed enthusiastically! “I'll be right there.” A few moments later, she opened the window with a broad smile on her face. I could tell that she was warm by the sweat that had formed on her hairline. While most of the families kept to themselves, Nadine loved sharing the details of her personal life with us. She had cancer and underwent chemo semi-regularly. She was a recovering alcoholic and a devout Christian, always ending her conversations with us with a “God bless you.” She had a daughter not that much younger than me. She had a tough life, and yet, she was one of the most positive people I've ever met. On that particular blisteringly-hot day, we had a couple of cartons of ice cream from a Trader Joe's pickup we'd made earlier in the week. We gave Nadine one—butter pecan, I believe it was—and her eyes lit up with excitement. We received two “God bless yous” that day—one for the ice cream; the second as we were heading back to the car to finish our deliveries. When we drove past her window, which was still ajar, Nadine's smile was unwavering. I couldn't remember the last time something I'd done had had that effect on someone, but it was an amazing feeling knowing that I'd made a difference. It's been over a month since we made our final delivery. My mom plans to start back up in the fall, and I'll probably join her. Assisting these families has done more than just connect me with my community; it's humbled me and reminded me of my privileges. No one is enjoying this situation. That said, I'm lucky to have employed parents, access to basic resources like food, and be in decent physical health. It seems only right that someone like me should make an extra effort to support those who aren't so well-off. After all, just because we can't be near each other doesn't mean we can't still look out for each other.
“I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6: 8. As the world was rippled by an unprecedented crisis, in terms of government responses and civilian confinement, my thriller-hazed and overstretched mind repeated this verse as the soundtrack for this out-of-body pandemic (coupled with Lux Aeterna and World War Z reassuring melodies). However, thanks to a mental slap by my remaining brain cells of logic, I came to my senses and buried the verse deep down in the coffer of my existential worries. Officially 649,662 people have hitherto perished from the novel coronavirus, a mind-boggling number and heart-wrenching reality which has exposed our health care deficiencies and, specifically, the dilapidation of our nursing facilities for the elderly and the vulnerable. Low and behold, despite school physically closing its doors, my life did not take a drastic turn for the psychologically worse. Due to school work, my general preference for snuggling in my bed watching movies or reading books instead of going out to rejuvenate my body with fresh air, my micro-phobias, and my tendency to over-analyze human interactions, I was never really an extrovert nor did I enjoy the outdoors. With the lockdown, suddenly my lifestyle became the norm. While I was pinched sometimes by bitter-sweet school nostalgia, I communicated with my friends every day, even though video-calls. This is a little embarrassing, but skipping the harrowing process of dusting my skin flaws with makeup every day was a liberating experience. The stress of catching the metro every morning and sharing my personal space with people from all different backgrounds of breath aromas, body odors, and perceptions of personal hygiene, the adrenaline of running like a headless chicken from one class to the next and having to socialize during the breaks, was gone. The extra time I gained was channeled towards creative activities, projects that I actually enjoyed. I worked more on my assignments, wrote more, read the books that had asphyxiated on my dusty bookshelves and learned more on global events, like the Hong-Kong protests, the wars in Afghanistan and Syria, climate change, how China is exactly governed and why the coronavirus happened there, problems whose gravity eradicated my amoeba-sized complaints and caprices. I reconnected with old friends, tried some online art courses, participated in online MUNs, studied more music, and experimented with the baking recipes, rampant on the Internet for intrepid lockdowners (yes I almost destroyed our oven). Regarding school, our final exams were canceled, a fact that my 5-year-in-exam-preparation psyche has not digested. I feel greater anguish for the canceled trips of the youngsters, which in my time created the most profound, inspiring, and memorable experiences. The COVID-19 pandemic brought an undecipherable hiatus to my 6-year old secondary-school marathon, by deconstructing, on the one hand, my deterministic worldview, but also by re-affirming my pesky peradventures on human relationships; laconism in the number of friends and mental solitude have become an oasis while meandering the wasteland of social anxiety, complicated friends and companions. This bunch of friends, however, becomes often invaluable. My best friend fell gravely ill, the grandfather of one of my most beloved classmates passed away. On my way towards home, one lady slapped the hand of her child when he touched the handle of a door at the bus stop. “Do you want to never see your parents? To stay alone in a hospital room without your friends?”, she screamed not to her child but towards the sky. I felt helpless, visualizing endlessly the grandfather of my friend trying to survive the abyss while being agonizingly alone. While many people reveled in the serenity of loneliness, million others were slowly scorched by its flames until they perished. In Greece we say “ουδέν κακόν αμιγές καλού”, meaning “every cloud has a silver lining”. Millions of other people are faced with the emotional paralysis of death, the uncertainty of unemployment, the phantom of depression, the anxiety of overwhelming bills and obligations. I hope that we will be able to recover stronger, united, and willing to start fixing the fissures that render the foundations of human happiness and well-being teetering and shaky. (the picture features the Grand-Place, the most famous landmark in Brussels, deserted during the peak of the pandemic in Belgium)
It's the 3rd of February, the world's at its best pace. I'm on my terrace, walking, thinking, dreaming. The sky looks beautiful in its deep blue. The orange sun is yet to set. I start browsing, I witness a myriad of vacant rooftops and just one or two human figures, either in search for a dependable cell phone network or peace. I come here for the latter. My father is a social worker, he has devoted his life to service. While I was in school, I wouldn't see him for days, even if he was still in town, by the time he'd come I was mostly asleep and by the time he was up, I was in school. My sister is completing her studies in a different state, I don't even remember the last time I talked to her for more than five minutes. My mother is a homemaker, but she's barely home probably because she's a "social person" and when she is home, I either have an assignment to complete or some place to visit. It's been ages since I've had a proper conversation with any of them, or since the four of us sat together talking about the good times and amusing. My family is just one of the thousands of things that pop up in my head while I'm up here. I walk further to the edge of the terrace, I bend slightly to get a peek of what's going on in the world below. I discover a bevy of kids playing soccer, people wrapping up their days, cars honking moving around in a rush, a couple walking hand in hand, a small time grocer trying to desperately sell literally everything he has to a single customer. I see the kids again, this time half of them celebrating their victory by hugging each other and laughing in delight. Besides them, I see two women, probably neighbors, fighting and abusing each other with complete vigor. One of them is now looking skywards and yelling some terrible words, I wonder who she's shouting at, there's nobody up here except me. Oops, I better get back to my walk. So basically today looks just like any other day! Now let's fast forward a little to when a pandemic took over our lives and everything just flipped. It's the 26th of march today. A few days back our Prime Minister announced a complete lockdown in our country. I still come up here, on the terrace, but it's an entirely different sight nowadays. The sky is still in its deep blue, I still hear noises, but this time not of the cars honking, today I hear the sounds of humans, a lot of humans, to be fair. The rooftops that once never showed signs of life, now look like a carnival, only a socially distanced one though. On any other day I would've been slightly disconcerted by the fact that the only place I turned to for peace had transformed into some kind of playground filled with people. But not today, and to be honest I actually feel delighted, because I don't just see individuals, I see families, families that have probably laughed together for the first time since ages, families that have conversed with each other as a whole, families that held hands like there's no tomorrow. Even I am not alone today, I'm walking alongside my father, talking about things we never thought we'd ever talk about, discovering interests, we never knew we had in common, exploring my plans for the future that I never thought would fascinate him. A few feet apart, I see my sister and my mother sitting together and laughing about how terrible my sister had cooked last night, and surfing for new recipes on the internet for my father who's next in line to cook dinner, and it's not just the four of us, I see joy and happiness all around me. Funny, isn't it? The times that are the hardest, are the times I am surrounded only by felicity. My father went and sat next to the mother-daughter duo, gesturing me to join, I tell him I'll be there in a minute. I would've just gone and sat with my family, but I'm so amused by looking at everything around me, that I was tempted to uncover this new world. I see a young couple teaching their toddlers badminton, I see a mother teaching her kid to ride a bicycle next to her husband who was listening to his daughter explain some features about the laptop, I also see the neighbors who once used to come to blows quite often, today sit on their respective balconies, chattering. I smile to myself and go sit with my family. People feel that the pandemic somehow forced families and individuals to come closer, but I feel that the pandemic just gave us a reason to pause and reflect. We'd all been so worried and in such a rush to get the best of our lives that we missed savoring the most beautiful moments. The pandemic, let us stop for a moment and breathe, it let us contemplate, realize and understand all those pieces that we had missed in these hasty lives of ours. I'd once read "Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone's hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours." This pandemic made us reach out and hold one's hand as well as let our hands to be held.
Have you ever wondered how can we stay connected with each other, even with the strangers during these testing times, right from our homes? I feel, through stories we can connect with them even without having a conversation in the real-time. My story is about sharing and narrating stories of hundreds of people from different communities, background, profession, speaking different languages and from different parts of the world. Let me start from the beginning. It was the evening of 14th May 2020, I was watching one of the motivational videos where the speaker advised the people to not just think about something, but doing something about that thought and the initiative. This single sentence had impacted me a lot. Since the coronavirus pandemic started and the lockdown has been imposed, I had thought of talking to people about it. I wanted to know what are they feeling, what are they going through and how has it impacted their lives? This was just a thought. But, while watching the video I decided that I will do something about this thought. Many questions were going on in my mind. So, I shared the idea with two of my very close friends, Nishant and Shivangi. The idea was to make an open platform where people can share their experiences and stories. Both of my friends suggested many more things to be included and some beautiful ideas which can give this idea a practical approach. So, it started. I was the Founder and the other two were the Co-founders. We listed out the things that need to be done to launch this initiative and make this available to the people. For the next 7 days, we segregated the tasks and allotted ourselves tasks mutually in which we were better. We worked day and night, taking a sleep of not more than 4 hours each day for the next 7 days. I worked on the technical part, Nishant worked on the layout, and Shivangi reached out to people for their stories. The day came, 21st May 2020, when we launched in our small community and connections. Gradually it started spreading among people. More people wanted to join us and share the stories with us. We also started interviewing people and pen down their stories and people also started sending their stories. After sometime when a lot of people started joining us, it became more of a platform where anyone can showcase their creativity in any forms and our ever-growing community became a storehouse of ideas, suggestions, interests, creativity and talent. As a result, we started narrating stories through various mediums and platforms like podcasts, videos, graphics, etc. The mediums and platforms are increasing day by day. We have always looked for a way to align the interest and talent of any individual associated with us with storytelling. We have always believed in collaborative teamwork where members join their hands together and contribute and we come up with the final version. It is roughly 2 months since we started this initiative and today we have 54 members in our community from 6 different countries, published more than 250 stories from 15+ countries, interviewed more than 30 personalities and connected to 4000+ people virtually right from our homes. The initiative has reached 45 countries and 20,000+ people visited the stories on the website. It has also been covered by 2 Newspapers recently. We now publish 4 stories every day, release podcasts and videos twice a week and conduct helpful sessions through live talkshows twice a week. We have also released videos related to Mental health titled ‘Sadness v/s Depression' which has been viewed by 12,000+ people. The platform has stories of Doctors treating COVID-19 patients, Frontline warriors, vendors, businessman, employees, essential employees, actors, singers, athletes, RJs, and many more. The initiative is called 'The lockdown story' and it exists because, in this time of the pandemic, every story deserves an applaud. People reach out to us and share with us how the stories are helping them to heal, believing that they are not the only one with a particular thought or feeling, there are many others like them and how they are connecting directly with the stories. These feedbacks motivate us a lot in continuing to do so and expanding our reach to more and more people. I feel that this is the period which the students will read about in their history books in future. This is a very important phase in the lives of people which will be remembered for decades. By reading stories, talking to so many people and interviewing them, I have realised that this period has impacted almost all the people in many different ways and at many different levels, positively or negatively. No two people have been impacted exactly in the same manner. The post-pandemic period will change the life of each and everyone in one way or the other, majorly or minorly. So, the experiences during this period will play an important role in future to learn and to grow.
The year 2020 has not been what any of us expected. That's an understatement to say the least. But a new year feels like a new start, and we welcomed 2020 with the blind optimism and hope that began every year. For my fiancé and me, 2020 held even more promise than years past. The light sparkling off my engagement ring mimicked the stars in our eyes, and we eagerly leapt into planning our wedding. Well, maybe it's more accurate to say that I eagerly leapt into planning our wedding. After all, I was the one who had literally spent hours (ok, days, who's counting?) of my life dreaming about this day. As my tastes had evolved through the years, so had the vivid details of my dreams. Elaborate, sparkling ball gowns transformed into simple, understated A-lines. Fancy venues and churches became scenic woods. Formal, brightly colored bridesmaid's dresses faded into flowing, natural hued gowns. Fall leaves blew away red rose petals. Casual, fun invites erased formal, fancy invitations. I could see it play out like a movie. Red and orange leaves whip through the air on the crisp, cool breeze. The green leaves left on the trees contrast sharply against the slate gray clouds threatening rain. Guests, dressed casually and prepared for weather, sit in chairs facing a clean white arch. Pachelbel's Canon begins, softly, cuing guests to turn around. My father stands next to me, waiting to walk me up the aisle. My family and friends smile in the audience. My bridesmaids stand in front of the arch, dresses blowing with the wind. There was just one detail that was never clear...my future husband. No matter how many times I revisited the dream, nothing changed; not until the moment I heard those four words I had been longing to hear: "Will you marry me?" The most beautiful words, coming from the most incredible, amazing man I had ever known. And in that moment, everything snapped into focus, and I saw him standing there, watching me walk up the aisle toward him, waiting to start our life together. And so, with the final piece of the puzzle in place, I waited (impatiently) for October 23, 2020. Then, COVID-19 flipped the world upside down. Cases escalated, every day life halted, and nothing was certain anymore. The world fell apart around us, and we were left with a decision. As reality set in, I retreated to my daydream of our special day. And I realized that something had changed. I watched the dream play out, but the details seemed different. The breeze had faltered, the colors dulled, the music muted. It was as if everything had faded—until I looked at him. I saw him smile at me, in full focus and clarity, and I realized that the wedding day I had dreamed of for so long wasn't as important to me as I had always believed. In that moment, I knew that what really mattered was getting to marry my best friend. Our wedding day was April 6, 2020, not October 23, 2020. Dead leaves rustled across the lawn in the soft, cool breeze. The green leaves growing on the bushes contrasted softly against the smoke gray clouds suggesting rain. Our five guests, dressed casually and hoping for good weather, sat in chairs facing a tree with sheer curtains draped over the branches, forming a makeshift arch. In lieu of Pachelbel's Canon, the young children next door provided running commentary loudly in the background. And my best friend and I walked up, hand in hand, to be married. As we started our life together, in a way we never would have expected, in a world that no one was prepared for, the details were suddenly more vivid, more beautiful, and more real than I ever could have imagined. And I knew that the memory of our wedding day would be far better than any dream.
The world around us collapses, hard to watch it without a movement. This little thing took all the great things, taking peace, taking the Tranquility, He took love from above the earth, to feed him hungry soil The pain that comes out of the windows of the houses is no longer Endurable Slave silence cross-predictable, does not stop the red signage, there is no one crossing the street .. Noise and screaming trip to another place .. Where did he go? In the middle of hospitals, screaming and stacking, Breathlessness came out with difficulty, tired of trying This little thing did not know that children should be happy but he choose them too, did not know that older people love to be remain among they lovers, and he takes them from their sofas houses, did not tell him anyone that young people have big dreams, They are trying to reach it, And he takes them before they arrive. My friend mother's died and no one come to the Solace but her, she told me that when her father died, the strangers who were walking next to the house come .. When her father died and he has a name, her mom become one of the numbers، she can not deposited her without distance, Do not Treat her wound. There is no longer a importance to the feelings of the loss, anyone can't stop to touch his grief, fearing to be moved by the infection .. I stand on the edge of the world .. I do not know that it would be terminated but if that happened I want to fall first. Because i can not seeing that destruction.
“Massive Bushfires”, “Veronica and Dorian storms”, “Floods and Inundation”, “The threat of Nuclear War”: these are all 2019 headlines of the international mass media. Clearly, the number of natural disasters has been rising, but the situation in the international political arena has also been hyper charging (heating up). Demonstrating military, political and economic capabilities, declaring sanctions, closing consulates and viewing these actions as a means to an end, to achieve domination, economic independence and prosperity. All of these news items, however, were firmly eclipsed by the emergence of coronavirus (Covid-19) at the end of 2019. It is no secret that the very first appearance of this virus was in China, to be more precise in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province. It changed everything from leading more and more people to obesity to the way we visit our grandparents (using those devices with the screen). The initial hypothesis of the cause of coronavirus was linked to the genome of bats. Nonetheless, it is still not apparent what the source of the very first case was. Nevertheless, there are several main conjectures in the air, ranging from the bats and bananas to the conspiracy theories. “Everything happens for a reason”. When you think about this statement, it becomes horrible and formidable. But still it is impossible to reject and forget this statement. Are not all these present challenges associated with coronavirus linked with people's boundless belief in their strength? The majority of the twenty first century's generations started to hugely rely on modern technologies and mistakenly believe that they are the creators of the nature and of the whole world itself, forgetting about God. In addition, moral decadence can be traced in correlation with the loss of traditional values. Some may argue that they are atheists and there is no link between these phenomena, a theory which, like any, has the right to exist as long as there are those who believe in it. Considering the ideas listed above I believe that one of the ways to beat this virus in the present moment is to encourage people to lend a hand to each other. I personally hope and believe that we can overcome all these difficulties and obstacles. But the real question is, “what is the price of a such victory?”. This ailment has already claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands people regardless of who is acting as a bulwark against its spread. Undoubtedly, the lion's share of onus is on the shoulders of doctors and medical staff, and they can be fairly considered as heroes. The only action that we can take at this moment to support these heroes is to abide by the Government guidelines. In addition, being more kind, polite, sincere and open to collaboration, especially now when all have to unite, can also be considered as a retaliation against the virus. In reality, of course, this is a vast oversimplification of the issue. However, the united people with the same, good purpose is a massive power, far stronger than those who are alone. By way of conclusion, I understand that this is clearly a problem of such complexity that no solution is likely in one day. However, it is by no means insurmountable, and I am convinced that we can stem the tide of this virus. Admittedly, this piece of writing is not about to change something in a global scale, but the reader that looks through this work may think over the ideas listed here. Be nice, bring love during these unprecedented times and the virus will be overwhelmed by the amount of honour that Earthmen possess.
Nowadays the world population is in a fight for their lives against coronavirus . The current situation of the world has changed considerably because of Covid-19 which affected many people's life including me. In the given essay, I am going to highlight about how coronavirus changed my lifestyle. When the Covid-19 epidemic started in my country, I had to leave my house in order to purchase some supplies and groceries as my husband was working at that time. The nearby supermarket was full with desperate people in need of food and other daily supplies. I was not expecting people to be in such a panic that made me more troubled about near future. As I stood in a line, I silently watched people wearing black and blue face masks and latex gloves in order to protect themselves from the virus. They were too silent to say a word being afraid of catching the virus. When the quarantine was announced , it was last days of my pregnancy. I had been informed by a local nurse to go to hospital by ambulance, not by private car. Moreover, i was warned about being alone while giving birth. I was so troubled cause I never experienced childbirth before. Even though I did not want it, I had to follow quarantine rules as a responsible citizen. When I went for giving birth to hospital, doctors did not allow me to turn my face mask off though I needed more fresh air in labor pains. However I suffered a lot, I was happy to know my baby and I were still healthy when we returned home from hospital. Many family traditions have changed as a consequence of Covid -19 in my family too. Mostly people begin to work online sitting at home during the quarantine but my husband still goes to work every day. He is a customer officer so he has to work even at that dangerous time. I know he deals with international drivers who can spread the virus and I was in a fair cause he can come home in contact with infectious person. When my husband gets off work, he takes a shower as soon as possible and washes his clothes with hot water in order to kill germs being afraid to catch and spread coronavirus to our family. These days he is isolating himself from us eating in the kitchen and sleeping in an another room. Even though he really wants to hug our kid and play with him , he has to keep distance not touching. Though we are so close by heart, we are so separated from each other because of current quandary. I respect my husband so much cause he still feels enough responsibily for his job and keeps his commitment at this challenging period. I hope it will end soon and our family will be together again. First, it was quite difficult to adapt not being able to go out and to meet my friends and relatives. I was not using staying at home all the time and working online. Additionally, I had to pass graduation exams sitting at computer. I was so disappointed with ongoing pandemic and complained about being bored to my friends by social networks. After some days, I understood the quarantine was a good chance for personal development and growth. So I downloaded some motivational and inspiring books to read that widened my outlook and worldview noticably. At the same time, I created my own page on Facebook called " Feel beauty" in order to insist people on living in a peaceful world and making the world a better place to live at that troublesome time. Until now I am preparing special posts with suitable photos every day and sharing my own stories to the subscribers. Besides, I became more caring for my family because of condition . Nowadays I prepare for them healthy food including many vegetables especially rich in Vitamin C. I demand them to follow quarantine rules such as wearing face mask and latex gloves and keeping distance from other people. It is Uzbek tradition to greet with shaking hands among men and hugging each other among women. I warn my father who goes for shopping every three days. To conclude, I firmly believe coronavirus opened both my eyes and heart bigger and it changed not only my life, but also my mind.Thanks to coronavirus! Because of it, I realized how our life was beautiful and valuable. I love and appreciate the life more now that makes me feel every tiny beauty. I can see miracles of life. Every day I look outside through windows . I only see empty streets without people but ambulance every time . I cry inside imagining about invisible war between life and death. I miss my parents and siblings so much that I cannot describe my painful feelings with words. Now I understand the most important things in the world: they are health and security not items or property...
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