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Reflections in the time of coronavirus Lauren Mills

WEEK ONE

3/25- Welcome Distractions

On a normal day, my dogs are loud, annoying, disgusting, smelly, and lovable. They get in the way of my work and bark at me until I let them out to terrorize passersby. Then, they fall asleep and I finally have time to be productive. I forget my irritation with them when I see their adorably peaceful snoozing faces. I love my dogs, but they are disobedient menaces to society. I have been cooped up with these monsters for about a week and a half, but I haven't been as annoyed with them. Sometimes I find myself drowning in busywork and in a foul mood. I look at my feet to see big brown eyes staring at me with incredible devotion and love. My heart melts a little and I spend the next thirty minutes playing with my dogs. I realized today that they don't like being locked in the house either, but they are ecstatic to have their family home. I am also shocked to find that I feel the exact same way. Everything sucks, but at least I have my loved ones to support me during these uncertain times.

My bulldog, Meatball, asleep on the couch while I take a break from schoolwork

3/26- Villain design

My friend, Elizabeth, loves to write dark stories and invent new characters. She asked me to draw one of the villains from a recent story of hers. I decided to draw Noire after I finished my school work for the day. I wanted my drawing to reflect this character's elegant and cruel disposition. I searched for images of black gowns on Google and saved eight to my camera roll. I took aspects of each dress and merged them to create the outfit below. Fashion design is a passion of mine and I really enjoyed taking the time plan out each element of this gown. I may not be the best artist, but I am thoroughly pleased with my work. I sent a picture of my drawing to Elizabeth. She was thrilled and asked me to draw another antagonist. I think I'll start that one over the weekend or next week.

3/27- Productivity

Today was my busiest day of school during quarantine. I had 3 zoom sessions, completed a geography packet for AP World History, finished my chemistry work, and started lessons on Edgenuity. Most of the packets feel like busy work, and I despise Edgenuity with a fiery passion I didn't know existed until I began the first lesson. The boring teachers are detestable, the lessons are slow, and I can't skip through unnecessary videos or redundant audible instructions. I hate this website so much I want to cry. I don't normally get headaches, but this awful learning platform gave me a migraine. Now I understand why so many of my classmates were strongly against learning on Edgenuity. I miss normal school.

WEEK 2

3/31- Mom's birthday

Tuesday was my mom's fifty-second birthday. She doesn't really care about her birthday, so we didn't do anything special except make spaghetti carbonara and give her birthday cards. The one thing she wanted was a birthday cake she didn't have to bake, so my sister made her a white cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. It was a little stodgy, but still delicious. Nadia M. drew a picture of a character we both like and sent it to me. I loved what she drew and made it my phone's wallpaper. It is one of her best drawings so far, in my opinion.

4/3- Birthday Celebration (part 1)

April 4th is my birthday and I'm supposed to spend it with my dad this year according to the court agreement, so I celebrated with my family at my mom's house the day before. I went grocery shopping with my stepbrother while my mom and sister made the cake (devil's food cake with strawberries. My favorite since I was two). I knew this year would be different and I shouldn't expect the frivolous hors d'oevres I wanted, so I was surprised when I was able to find all of the ingredients for my dinner at such a low price and in the same store. I bought caviar, creme fraiche, crackers, blue cheese, strawberries, puff pastry, pigs in a blanket, tomatoes, basil, and ricotta cheese at Ralph's after stopping by three grocery stores and scoffing at the lines. When my stepbrother and I got home, my birthday cake was in the oven. I started to cook the food.

We had bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese, caviar and creme fraiche on crackers, my mother's delicious pepper-jack cheese and salami puff pastry, and bruschetta with tomato, basil, and ricotta. My family members had never eaten these snacks before and fell in love. After we ate, we watched my favorite movie, "Gone With the Wind." I also did a zoom call with my friends.

Every birthday, I staple and tape my family member's cards shut. It's kind of my trademark. This year, they took revenge on me. I was sent on a scavenger hunt to find every card. One of them was taped to the ceiling! It was crazy and fun.

4/4- Birthday Celebration (part 2)

I woke up at 7:30 am instead of my usual 9:00 am. I played games on my phone for a few minutes before getting dressed and putting makeup on. I wore a cute sweater and green bow. At 10ish, my sister and I drove to our dad's house. Our dad and stepmom weren't home, so we let ourselves into the house and played with our dogs. My grandparents sent me a birthday card with a beautiful pressed flower and a $50 bill. My parents burst through our door with a box of donuts singing happy birthday. My stepmom baked bread to have with dinner before the four of us sat down to watch the new Disney movie, "Onward." We had steak, baked potatoes, and the braided bread my stepmom made earlier for dinner. They couldn't get me a gift, which is fine, but they gave me two gift cards for Amazon and iTunes. Overall, I had as good of a birthday as you can in quarantine.

WEEK 3 (Spring Break)

4/10- Jesus Christ Superstar

I am a musical theatre nerd. I love Broadway, musical soundtracks, and flashy costumes. I have listened to a variety of musicals and seen 5 productions at the Pantages theatre. I'm actually supposed to see "Mean Girls" this May, though I'm not sure if that will happen due to coronavirus concerns. Andrew Lloyd Webber, esteemed composer of 13 musicals, including the longest-lasting and my personal favorite, "Phantom of the Opera," will be releasing shows online for a 48 hour period. This Friday, "Jesus Christ Superstar" was released. Of course, I know the iconic song, "Superstar," that makes a mockery out of Jesus Christ, but I haven't listened to this soundtrack and know little about biblical stories, so this was enlightening and a little confusing for me. The musical was a bit intense, especially during Jesus's whipping and crucifixion, but I'm glad I watched it.

4/12- Bringing food to Grandma

My grandmother lives alone in Newbury Park. Normally, my mom, sister, and I bring her breakfast on Sundays and eat with her. She always has a piece of cake and apple juice for us. Due to quarantine, she can't leave the house. We picked up biscuits and gravy from Country Harvest Restaurant and dropped some food off. My grandma is fine, but she's ticked off her gym is closed and she can't eat lunch at her favorite restaurant every Wednesday anymore.

WEEK 4

4/16- New Fish

We needed pill pockets for my cat, Inky, so we went to the pet store. There were three beta fish remaining, and my mom felt bad for them, so we picked one to bring home. We set the fish up in a clean tank we had, did our best to make him feel at home, and named him Dex, after a book character my sisters and I like. Unfortunately, he was too stressed and the ammonia levels in the water were too high, so he passed away overnight. My mom felt guilty, so we went to the pet store and adopted the remaining two. One is pitch black with silver stripes, similar to the hair of a character named Tam from the same book series we named Dex. Obviously, the fan girl in me calls him Tam, as does my younger stepsister. The rest of the family calls him Shade, another name I came up with to appease everyone. The second fish is a slate color and reminded me of an alleyway, so I named him Kaz, after a crime lord from another book series.

Dex
Kaz
Shade/Tam

4/17- Phantom of the Opera

As I said last week, Andrew Lloyd Webber is streaming Broadway shows every Friday for a 48-hour period. I don't know what musical it will be until the day of. Late Friday night, I scrambled to the TV because my dad just told me the chosen show was "Phantom of the Opera." Excitement coursed through my nerves as I navigated to the Youtube app on my TV and searched for the video. "Phantom of the Opera" is my favorite musical of all time. A young opera soprano becomes the object of obsession for a deformed madman who haunts the opera house. One of the reasons I love this rock opera so much is not only do the actors and actresses have to sing operatically, but they also have to act, dance, and convey the powerful emotions of each song. Only the insanely talented are chosen to perform. I have massive amounts of respect for the cast. Last June, I saw "Phantom of the Opera" at the Pantages with my older cousins and sister. It was a moving experience I will never forget. Friday's show was amazing, especially the performance of the song, "Point of No Return." I'm thrilled I get to see my favorite musicals every Friday at home.

4/19- Birthday Month

My mom's birthday is March 31, my birthday is April 4, and my youngest stepsister's birthday is April 19. I call it "birthday month," because it reminds me of an episode in "The Office." Instead of a birthday dinner (traditional birthday celebration at my house), my stepsister, Gabby, wanted brunch. Early this morning, my stepdad went to the market to find all of the ingredients for eggs benedict. My grandma came over for brunch (even though it probably wasn't the smartest decision) because she loves eggs benedict. We had a lovely meal and ate homemade lemon cake with raspberries. My grandma left shortly after Gabby opened her gifts.

WEEK 5

4/23- Drawing

Quarantine has given me lots of free time to do the things I enjoy. I'm rereading one of my favorite book series and wanted to draw one of the characters. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to draw her based on her description in the book and little details the author mentioned. This character is dead and the main character never knew her, so everything I know about this woman is what the main character learns. She had turquoise eyes, long pale blonde hair, and always wore lip gloss. Her favorite color was purple and had hundreds of stunning gowns in this color. From these details, I drew my interpretation of her. I'm happy with how the drawing turned out.

4/24- Construction

My house has been under construction for 6 years. Almost everyday, I've woken up to the sound of jackhammers and sawing. The lawn is nothing more than dirt and construction supplies. For some reason, the workers always need to access my bedroom closet and bathroom, so I'm kicked out. Even more humiliating, sometimes they wake me up and I have to walk out in my pajamas and untameable morning hair. Since I've been home, I've had a LOT more experience dealing with plumbers, electricians, distressed dogs, and waking up much earlier than I'd like. Hopefully, 2020 will be the last year of rusty nails, dust, and irritated neighbors.

Dust from construction can oftentimes be found on our floor :(

4/26- "The Office"

Shockingly, my family has never seen the beloved comedy, "The Office." I have watched most of it and know the major plot developments, but I have never seen the show the whole way through. For the past couple of weeks, we have been watching "The Office" together. The show is hilarious and the thing I love the most is to see my parents crack up, even at the smallest joke. They turn to me expectantly for spoilers, but I keep my mouth shut. My dad and stepmom's favorite characters are Dwight and Michael. I love Stanley and Pam. My stepmom mentioned the character Andy looks exactly like an older cousin of mine, and now I can't get the image out of my head. I love this show.

WEEK 6

5/1- Dinner with Ben

My stepbrother Ben came over for dinner this Friday. My mom made a delicious steak dinner and spent all afternoon baking bread. It was absolutely delicious. This is the first time I've seen my stepbrother in a couple of months. He's in college and lives with his mom, so we rarely see him anymore. We chatted about online school, COVID-19, and his job. He's keeping busy and working. After dinner, we made ice cream sundaes. I went to bed early because I was exhausted.

5/2- "Cheers"

During quarantine, one of the ways I've been entertaining myself is by the 80s sitcom, "Cheers." This show follows the story of Sam Malone, owner of a bar and former Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, and Diane Chambers, an intelligent woman who becomes a waitress at the bar when her fiance leaves her for another woman. The show's colorful characters include tired accountant and bar frequenter Norm Peterson, spitfire fellow waitress with 6 kids, Carla Tortelli, know-it-all mailman Cliff Clavin, and bartender Coach, an elderly man who means well but isn't the sharpest crayon in the box. I'm currently on the fourth season and have met Woody (basically a young version of Coach) and Fraiser Crane, a psychiatrist so beloved by original fans of the show he got his own spin off series that was, just as, if not more, successful as "Cheers."

"Cheers" is pretty advanced for it's time, considering its acceptance of homosexuality and the fact that characters speak up about gender inequality. Sometimes it shows its age through technology or interactions that wouldn't be appropriate in today's world, but everything is pretty tame. The only problems I have with it are personal and trivial. The central character, Sam Malone, is a womanizer and played by Ted Danson. I have some trouble making this connection because Ted Danson plays a grandfatherly figure in Michael Schur's "The Good Place." Another connection I have difficulty making is young bartender Woody, played by Woody Harrelson, and Haymitch from "The Hunger Games." In "Cheers," Woody is young and innocent, like a puppy. In "The Hunger Games," Woody Harrelson's character is a drunkard and winner of a game that celebrates bloodbath. Like I said before, these are connections that are personal to me, and they do not prevent me from thoroughly enjoying the show. Once I finish "Cheers," I think I will watch the spin off, "Fraiser."

Top (left to right): Cliff, Coach, Carla, Norm Bottom: Sam, Diane

5/3- Bringing food to Grandma (part 2)

My mom, sister and I brought biscuits and gravy to my grandma again. For some reason, today was more awkward than usual, but at least my grandmother was happy. She bought marble cake from Albertsons for my sister and me. I spent most of the visit reading, but I tried to make conversation with my grandma. It's really hard to talk to her because she'll criticize something, not understand what I'm talking about, or awkwardly stay silent. I don't know that much about her except for the fact that she immigrated from Germany, she never knew her birth father, and she is an excellent cook. I had hoped quarantine would bring us closer together, but I guess not.

Credits:

Created with images by CDC - "This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)." • Constance Chen - "Eggs Benedict"