coronavirus chronicles #7

Memories, snapshots, and ramblings from this past week:

I. Pray. Embrace the liberation that comes with morning runs, first unusually quiet without music, and now captivating with the sudden sounds of rural Vermont. Let the water warm, shower, and put on some clean clothes. Coffee, yogurt with granola, or a smoothie. Answer emails, community organize, review material. Clean your room before class, save yourself the social embarrassment. Log-in just in time for class on Zoom. Come lunch, open and close the fridge, open it again, and remember you did make food. Think a little too much about GI coursework as you eat. Breathe briefly outside and return to your desk. Flashcards. Answer texts. Refashion the window ledge for a standing desk. Call a friend or chime into a meeting. Study some more. Go hiking somewhere in the forest. The oven broke. Grill some veggies instead. Read, write, do some art, do anything, then prepare for tomorrow’s classes. Catch up with her over the phone, and think of her world for a while. Scroll aimlessly, play some music. Tell your parents how much you love them. Sleep. Choose your adventure.

II. I love the lessons of seasons / how each winter seems so cold and long and isolate, how each year spring insists on returning (like that goose my neighbor Ashley and I named April) / a patient, slow tide or a burst of crocuses from lingering snow, or morning you notice the dawn chorus, the return of birdsong, and a smile.

III. I’m going stir crazy. Let’s play badminton outside, take off our shoes, and switch over to boules/bocce, and toss a baseball around. I’ll be the monkey in the middle. We’ll throw a football and think of a memory that hasn’t come to mind in a long-time. Did you all play PowderPuff? Elle and I will move the lawn table and its chairs just beyond the reach of the newly discovered awning, past the nest of wasps. We’ll start the grill, play some protest music. In the kitchen, we invent a pulley system to bring up the hot potatoes, less than a flight of stairs, through the window instead.

IV. I find that some of my pastimes are reincarnations of middle, high school activities, of which I thought I grew out: reading manga, watching TV, staring at clouds, eating milk chocolate baking chips. I eat some in my room and feel the guilt secondhand experienced from reading a book: a story about a protagonist who ate chocolate chips from a bag in secret, during an apocalypse. Her mom was livid.

V. I embroider flowers while increasingly shocked by the revelations of the “Tiger King” documentary. America can be so weird. Afterward, I don’t know how we ended up debating whether doctors have a duty to treat, about exceptionalism in medicine — questions whose answers are for now postponed as much as life seems to have been. We retreat to our rooms, and I am struck by how the full moon shines into my bedroom. Why have I never noticed its light before?

VI. It’s 7 am, and our classmate is leading a workout on Zoom, encouraging us to make that last crunch, leg raise, or burpee. I imagine the view from their screen is absurd. Our social life is rebuilding itself on Zoomcooking classes, Zoomba lessons, book clubs, and lunchtime sessions when our classmates open their hearts, open their minds.

VII. A mentor of mine, of great strength and resilience, cried on our phonecall, overwhelmed by the uncertainty, danger, and challenges of working at the hospital without personal protective equipment. Is it not our government’s responsibility to provide for and protect its citizens? So many community organizations are filling in the gaps. Where’s our leadership? Another mentor, a retired physician, emailed me to ask what color I’d like for the cloth masks she wanted to sew for me. And another said: Am I selfish to say…that I’m happy that you can be safe at home and that your not more years into your life?

VIII. At 9 pm EST, we all logged into Zoom, in fun clothes and bright lights, to celebrate your existence, to listen to Yaeji. Happy birthday Kevin! 

IX. I spent a Sunday morning, drawing endocrine pathways, learning about how hormones, signals flowed from the hypothalamus to the pituitary, and then to the thyroid. I think of supply chains, people who are driving trucks across the country, and how something so small can be the product of a whole history of talk.

X. I reunite, on WhatsApp and Facebook, with friends I met on my Watson journey, in Malaysia, Morocco, the UK, and France. We usually update each other others on our once-converged, increasingly diverged lives. Yet, now our conversations focused on a new shared focus, something we haven’t felt collectively in a long time. But still we worry about each other, not knowing what the experience feels like or may mean for each other given the differences in our reality. And I think the best thing we can do now is to tell each other that we’re thinking of each other, despite the distance of the world or time, and say, this world seems more like home knowing they’re somewhere smiling in it.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Articles on my mind:

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