Let’s Talk: Writing About Coronavirus

Hello everyone!

Today I wanted to discuss my thoughts on writing about coronavirus. It makes sense to write about things that affect you and you have personal experience with, which means a lot of writing about coronavirus is happening right now. I’ve written a couple pieces about it myself on this blog that you may have seen. I’m not saying it’s a good or bad thing– no writing topic is simply good or bad. If you want to hear the rest of my thoughts on this hot topic translating into your writing, keep on reading.

As I already briefly mentioned, I think it’s so important that we see pieces that reflect the crazy times we’re in now! However, I know that for me personally, it’s really hard to put my own personal twist on this topic. I’ve been very careful about social distancing and there’s only so many things I can write about being stuck in my house.

I’m also lucky enough to not know anyone personally who’s had the virus yet or particularly suffered from having the virus– my family members and friends are thankfully safe. I don’t have a personal experience to write about in this area, and I’m not in a place where I want to find one.

I’ve come to the point where I want to write about anything else as an escape from reality and a reminder of different, happier times. If you’re at that point too, that’s not a bad thing either. Write about whatever comforts you and gets you through living in these times.

Conversely, if you need to write about COVID-19 and related things to cope with the situation and get those feelings out on the page, of course do that! Besides, who am I to tell you what to write anyway? 🙂 As we’re all probably familiar with, writing is just another form of freedom of expression that makes our lives more bearable.

As with any topic you plan to write about, write your truth, and write it your way. I have enjoyed hearing about other people’s perspectives on this situation– the bad, the good, all of it together. This is definitely a strange time that needs to be documented, and there’s plenty of free time to sit down and document it. Similarly, there’s plenty of free time to read about it and keep up with the news.

There’s also so much going on in our world right now that’s not directly related to COVID-19. 2020 has been an absolute rollercoaster, and the political climate is intense right now in the USA because of the upcoming election. You can write about these topics if you want without mentioning COVID-19 at all, and they’re just as relevant!

I hope this was sparked some inspiration or other thoughts for you all! I just wanted to have a sort of reminder that this is a great time to write, whether it’s about what’s going on in the world or not. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on this in the comments. Stay safe and healthy out there!

Brooke

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A Letter to the Class of 2020

Dear Seniors,

I am so sorry for the loss of your senior year second semester, graduation, and all the activities and celebrations that were supposed to commemorate your hard work leading up to this point. I understand this is a time of mourning and yet a time of excitement at the same time; the unfortunate situation does not strip away these accomplishments and the fact that you have committed to colleges, or that you are, in fact, still graduating.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in your position. This COVID-19 crisis has affected the whole world in different ways, but the class of 2020 is all experiencing similar emotions in terms of grieving the loss of finishing the rat race that is high school in its traditional form. As a current sophomore, I’ve looked up to you guys the past year. Observing the seniors and eagerly awaiting the time when you’ll get to be in their shoes is commonplace for underclassmen, but this year is clearly different.

This experience may be defining of this year, but it does not define your high school experience. I’ve seen articles about people trying to organize “redemption proms” at their respective colleges they will be attending, and I hope you are able to achieve this chance at “redemption” in some capacity. Regardless of the eventual outcome, whether your graduation is online, postponed, or cancelled altogether, just know that you are still on the path to bigger and better things in life.

I realize this may sound annoying coming from a sophomore and I know I don’t understand exactly what you’re going through because I’m not in your place, but I want any seniors out there to know that we are here for you. You might be about to enter the next stage of life, but as someone in high school looking forward to being a senior, I do have some idea of what you’ve lost.

Best of luck in all your future endeavors! There will hopefully be opportunities to make your own celebrations and try to make the best of this situation, no matter how difficult it is. Congratulations- regardless of the situation, you still made it.

Brooke

8 Things I’ve Been Missing While Quarantined

Hello everyone!

I’m sure we all have those things we never expected to miss going into quarantine, but actually found ourselves longing for a few weeks into it. I never thought I would miss the hustle and bustle of my busy schedule so much, but here I am! Today I’m going to be sharing a list of 10 things I miss from my normal/pre-coronavirus life with you all, in hopes of inspiring gratitude for the things we don’t normally realize we’re lucky to have or experience.

What I Miss #1: Car rides to and from school.

This was a shock to me, but I do actually miss looking out the window, noticing how busy everyone else is, and people watching during my twenty to thirty minute commute to and from school. It’s my peaceful time to listen to music or have heart-to-hearts with my mom, and I miss that little space of peace in my day.

What I Miss #2: Seeing my teachers and learning in a classroom.

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’d know that I love my teachers (and learning in general) and so I obviously miss them a lot. I’m thankful that they’ve been understanding and helpful/accessible throughout this online learning process, but I miss getting to see them and have them explain things in person. I also miss sitting next to my friends in class and getting to chat with them while working or before/after class.

What I Miss #3: Getting up early.

I’m a morning person, but I don’t see the point in still getting up super-early when no one in my house will be awake and I’ll have to be quiet. Also, I’ve been staying up a bit later than normal to watch Netflix or read. However, I miss starting my day early and seeing the last moments of the sunrise as I get ready for school.

What I Miss #4: Yearbook hump days.

Let me explain this one: every Wednesday in yearbook we would take turns bringing a sweet treat/some form of food for the class, just as a reward for making it halfway through the week and a little bonding thing. I definitely miss looking forward to see what would be brought in and getting to celebrate making it halfway through the week with my fellow staff members. I also miss everyone from yearbook so much in general.

What I Miss #5: Club meetings at lunchtime.

I miss all the activities I was involved in at school- most of the clubs I’m in haven’t made any plans to meet online just because we’re fairly small or the activities we normally do can’t really be done online. It’s weird not running around campus and getting to spend time with different groups of people. I’m also sad a lot of events ended up getting cancelled, particularly some events for my Spanish Honors Society.

What I Miss #6: Volunteering at my local animal shelter.

I’ve mentioned this on this blog a few times before, but I usually volunteer at the animal shelter every weekend for a couple hours and just take care of the dogs. I miss the cute little dogs so much!! Their adorable faces would always brighten my day, and it was nice to get to interact with the potential adopters there.

What I Miss #7: Going to get food.

My family has still been getting takeout to help support local businesses, but I miss being able to spontaneously grab lunch with my mom or go get a treat like frozen yogurt when having a tough day. It’s also a major social activity in my area usually, since we live in the suburbs and there’s not much to do out of the house besides go out to eat and a couple other main options.

What I Miss #8: Seeing my friends.

This is the most obvious one which is why I didn’t put it in the beginning, but I know we all probably miss our friends so much. Even the simplest conversations at school or being in the presence of some of my less-close, acquaintance type friends are missed. I’m really craving that social interaction right now, because FaceTime and contact over social media isn’t the same.

I hope this inspires you to make your own list of things you miss. I didn’t make this to mope in a negative way, but to recognize the things that I’m grateful for so I can appreciate them more once life goes back to normal and I experience them again. These times really are crazy, but it will be a huge relief when things go back to normal. I’m wishing the best for our world, and my heart goes out to any of you who have experienced hardships because of the virus. Stay safe and healthy!

Brooke

COVID-19 In My Community

Welcome back everyone!

After my post about coronavirus yesterday, I figured I could add a little personal update. If you haven’t read my post from yesterday, you should go check it out- it was just some information about how the virus is affecting high schools in my area and elsewhere, and all the indirect consequences it’s having on education around the country and world. Although I included a lot of information specific to my school, I didn’t talk about my feelings and situation regarding coronavirus specifically. Since I have the spare time and have just started my week off from school while writing this, I figured I could give you a more personal perspective on how the virus is affecting me and my community, aside from school closures.

At the time of writing this, there are just around 10 confirmed cases of the virus in my county. Nonetheless, stores are completely wiped out of frozen foods, wipes, water, and toilet paper- my mother said the line at Costco was about a half hour long just to get in the store, so she gave up on going. We’re not sure how things are going to play out. A lot of people have continued their lives as usual, with some of my friends hanging out because of school being out for the week, and everyone in my neighborhood being out and about. My parents are making me be a lot more careful as my elderly grandmother is still residing in our house for the time being (and will most likely be for a lot longer time now that she can’t be out house hunting) and we have to make sure none of us get sick and spread anything to her.

I’m normally a fairly paranoid person when it comes to disease and sickness as I have a horrible immune system and get sick about every four to six weeks, but I’m lucky and blessed enough not to have any major health issues or complications. I’m not too worried about the virus since I’ll probably just be chilling at home and occasionally running errands until school gets back in session unless things get more severe in my area. That being said, it’s still scary to know how fast things are changing and the developments of the virus elsewhere.

My friend has a club soccer teammate who caught the virus and is in the hospital, and someone from a high school in my school district is currently awaiting test results. It continues to hit close to home, and it’s also alarming to watch the news as updates come in about the situation in Italy and other countries where they are in complete lockdown mode. I’m not sure if that will be next for us, but because of the aforementioned situation with my grandma my parents want me to stay at home for the most part anyways. It’s also alarming to see how much it’s affected the economy, with the stock market hitting lows (my college money is tied up in there…) and the tourism industry lowering prices all around.

I was supposed to go on a mini-road trip to San Fransisco with my mom over spring break, but she cancelled it as soon as we heard about the compromised cruise ship docking there and how it was a breakout spot of the virus. I don’t want to come off as bratty because I know I was lucky enough to have had the trip planned with my mom in the first place, but it was really disappointing to have to cancel it as it’s been the thing motivating me in school throughout this semester so far. We were planning to stop in San Luis Obispo and visit Cal Poly SLO, and then make our way up to San Fransisco and visit UC Berkeley and other schools around the city. I guess the trip will be postponed to a later time since luckily we do live in California and only a long car ride away from these places, but it’s still sad to cancel plans. I can’t imagine how other people with more elaborate spring break plans felt about having to cancel them and possibly lose out on money- luckily all we had booked were hotels so far since we were driving up, and my mom was able to get all her money back.

All my extracurriculars and various activities/meetings have gotten cancelled for this month as well, as they should be. The only thing on my calendar for the rest of March that hasn’t gotten cancelled is my driver’s lesson, funnily enough. I guess if it’s just me and an instructor in a car, we’re safe from the virus as long as they’re keeping the car clean. It’s quite chaotic for yearbook though, as our final deadline was supposed to be this week. I believe the editors stayed late on our last day of school and the weekend before closure to finish up things as best as possible before submitting the pages, so hopefully it all works out. I’m just thankful it was only one deadline and we have basically already finished the book. In general, most of my main extracurriculars from this year are over, so luckily not too much was disturbed in that regard- I feel for any of you spring athletes out there. All of the spring sports at our school have had their seasons completely postponed, and I know some other clubs/activities have cancelled spring events.

The bottom line is, even though my community isn’t completely infected/endangered yet, everything is still in disarray. I sincerely hope you all are well and staying healthy. Let’s hope a better solution for this horrible situation comes soon. Remember to keep washing your hands 🙂

Brooke

How COVID-19 Is Affecting High Schoolers

Hello everyone!

I know I’m a little late to the game on discussing coronavirus, but if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you might know that I pre-write and schedule my posts about a week/week and a half in advance, so that’s why this post is going up now. I am definitely not the most knowledgable person on the subject (although I have been obsessively checking Twitter for news) so I won’t bore you with a bad interpretation of the statistics- if you are looking for news, please read articles from a reputable news source or look at the CDC or WHO’s websites. As you are reading this, I am currently at home, with school out for the week. I just wanted to make a post explaining how different high schools are dealing with this issue differently, and the huge impact it’s having on our education.

Before I go more into depth, I just want to say that I am so privileged and blessed to be safe and healthy right now. I am not trying to complain in this post, just inform others on what’s going on in my area with school right now. I hope you are all staying healthy and safe as well. I live in Southern California in a county that has around 10 cases of the virus as I write this, probably more by the time you’re reading it, but we are not in lockdown/quarantine or anything at the moment. However, many private schools around my school district started shutting down last week, at the time that colleges nationwide were beginning to close. There was talk of my school district shutting down, but nothing was set until a sudden announcement on Thursday, March 12th that we would have school the next day (Friday), but school would be out the entire next week.

They were planning to reevaluate during the week off and decide if we would have to remain out of school, and what lesson plans would look like in that case. The most obvious choice would be virtual learning, but in a public school district there are some issues with that since some low-income kids don’t necessarily have access to computers or Internet, and places such as libraries where they could normally gain access are closed in this quarantine/public emergency situation. I’m not exactly sure how they plan to work around it if we have to stay out of school, but I’m assuming we won’t be going back so soon since one week won’t change much about the virus. During this first week of being off, teachers aren’t allowed to give us anything to work on- instead, they’re supposed to be developing their lesson plans for if we have to miss even more school.

Some of my teachers had speculated we’d be out until after our spring break (mid-April) was supposed to end, and my chemistry teacher even said she thought we might be out of class until May 1st. My AP Euro teacher (the only AP class I’m in this year) has no clue what he’s going to do for lesson plans and what will happen with the AP test. I know the March SAT got cancelled in my area, so a lot of juniors were upset about that after months of preparing. As far as AP testing, a lot of my teachers were saying it might get pushed back into summer, and that we might even get days of school extended into our summer break if we miss too much and we aren’t getting sufficient lesson plans.

I’m so confused on how everything is going to work and how there can be so many different predictions/expectations within just my school about what the rest of our semester is going to look like, but it varied a lot. Some of my teachers said they’re consider just cutting our grades off for the semester now and ending it there, some said we might have to extend the semester into summer once the virus dies off, some said we should be fine to do virtual learning, some said AP tests will be cancelled but we won’t get our money back, some said they’ll just be postponed. At this point, there’s no real point in predicting what’s going to happen as the situation is changing too often; my school switched plans 4 times in 48 hours, and now we don’t even know what we’re doing.

I was supposed to have class registration during this week that we’re missing (the juniors/rising seniors already did theirs, but freshmen and sophomores haven’t), and so I’ve missed that as well. That’s kind of a big deal, as junior year schedules are so important. However, other than that, I’m thankful to be a sophomore (for once!) rather than a junior or senior. I can’t imagine the stress of having SAT dates in limbo and so many AP tests in question (at least I only have 2 with 1 in class) as well as not being able to do college tours and not knowing how your second semester junior year grades will finish out. And for seniors, the possibility of all the second semester activities you look forward to for so long is so disappointing, as well as not being able to go to admitted student days for colleges to help pick where you want to go. I wish you juniors and seniors the best of luck; I know it’s stressful, but at least find comfort in that the whole world is dealing with this and colleges/schools/whoever will have to be understanding.

There’s also the fact that even though it’s a “break” from school, this is not fun or exciting! Not only is it boring to be cooped up in the house and discouraged from hanging out with friends, it’s nerve-wracking knowing that new developments related to the virus are constantly being released on the news, and the consequences and closures of public places are only spiraling even more out of control. I have no idea if I’ll be back at school next week, next month, or even longer. I don’t know how I’m supposed to learn and get a good foundation before taking super hard classes junior year, and I don’t even know how I’ll be registering for my junior year!

If anything, at least I have some time to reflect. I’ve been super go-go-go and busy lately, and something like this puts it into perspective what really matters. Remember to stay safe, wash your hands, and be smart in this strange time. I know as young people we’re not in imminent danger, but we do all probably have older relatives who are. Best of luck to any people displaced, quarantined, or affected in any way by this horrible pandemic.

Brooke