A New Life Is Waiting

Entry: 16

Time: 4:47 p.m.

Date: May 12, 2020

  • Location: Manhattan, Kansas (I’m back!!)
  • Temperature: 50 degrees (booooo)
  • Weather: cloudy and a bit chilly
  • Listening: Disney Spotify Playlist
  • Watching: Superstore 
  • Reading: Untamed by Glennon Doyle
  • Mood: a bit worried but fine
  • Drinking: diet coke!
  • Last Ate: sandwich
  • Goals: finish my classwork and turn in things!
  • Lows: oh the permanent anxiety and focus issues
  • Highs: chatting with my mom and friends

Dear Diary,

It’s been a few days, and I’m sorry about that, but life’s been real busy since I last wrote. I have good news and bad news for you, diary. See, today I officially finish with the homework assignment that this began as. Yes, it’s true! The project is due today. That’s the bad news.

But don’t fret, I do hope to continue chatting with you occasionally! It just won’t be as homework anymore! Hopefully, life details start sorting out in the next few weeks. I might be wrapping up a Master’s Degree, but I…you know…wouldn’t mind a job lined up for the fall. But I don’t want to focus too much on those worries here. 

Gotta find some joy in writing during this pandemic!

Instead, I knew I wanted to close up the assignment portion of these diaries on a more positive note. Last week, I jotted down a note about an idea I wanted to write about but didn’t have the time for. We had just finished talking about The Marrow Thieves in our Zoom class, and I was thinking about the presence and importance of found families in that narrative, so I also thought I’d be able to relate that to my time during COVID-19 and experience at K-State.

So, closer to the start of this Pandemic, a bunch of celebrities helped Gal Godot sing “Imagine” and the internet roasted them. 

I get it. Most of us don’t get to isolate ourselves in mansions during COVID-19. 

Yet, when the cast of High School Musical reunited to sing “We’re All In This Together” during the first Disney Family Singalong that’s now streaming on Disney Plus, I wanted to believe in it a little bit. 

Based on all of the apocalyptic narratives we studied this semester in Welcome to the Apocalypse (the most timely title for a class in history, perhaps!), the end of the world is a lot better when you have people to work with and lean on and survive alongside. We love reading about the reluctant frenemies of Jane and Katherine in Dread Nation. The boy and the man keep the fire going together in The Road. We treasure the true alliances Katniss makes in each Hunger Games. Every adaptation of Dr. Robert Neville experiences a breakthrough after finally connecting with another person. Thor needs to accept after Ragnarok that Asgard was a people and not a place. 

We’ve been grasping at community in different ways during this apocalypse, but every video chat, text message, email, and social media interaction let us cling on to that part of our humanity. I’ve needed every single one of them.

Well, maybe not all the emails…

But I did need all the Zooms for classes and with friends. I needed the virtual game nights once a week with the folks in my grad school cohort as we tried to survive distance friendship—decent prep as all of us look back towards our separate corners of the country after graduation. Trivia is still fun over Zoom, if not as fun when competing on the same team as one another, but our track record of second place teams won’t be broken this semester.

Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to get a team together at some point in the future. We’re great at team names. The Holyhead Hotties (Harry Potter trivia) and Trash In the Camp (Disney trivia) reign supreme, despite second place finishes.

Speaking of “Trashin The Camp,” this bop is from Phil Collins and the Tarzan soundtrack. That man went hard for us, and we’re eternally grateful. In a post about community and togetherness “two worlds, one family” seems to fit perfectly.

Raise your head up

Lift high the load

Take strength from those that need you

Build high the walls

Build strong the beams

A new life is waiting

But danger’s no stranger here

“Two Worlds” from Tarzan
I’d understand if someone decided to go live with the apes in the midst of this.

Yours From Six Feet Away,

Noelle

Where Do I Go From Here?

Entry: 15

Time: 7:22 p.m.

Date: April 30! Tomorrow…

  • Location: Carrington, ND
  • Temperature: 65 degrees
  • Weather: Cloudy but a nice day
  • Listening: country mood playlist
  • Watching: Never Have I Ever on Netflix (It’s so good!!!)
  • Reading: The Marrow Thieves
  • Mood: just a little anxious but pretty good
  • Drinking: water
  • Last Ate: sausage and potatoes
  • Goals: get ready for last week of classes
  • Lows: oh the general worried of life
  • Highs: did a good job with things tho!!

Dear Diary,

As I’ve been thinking about things today, I got inspired to write a little bit more after our Apocalypse Zoom Class. We read a really great piece by Cutcha Risling Baldy called “Why I Teach ‘The Walking Dead’ in My Native Studies Classes,” and it was a great read. We talked in class about the piece itself being very conversational and accessible to a nonacademic audience as a way for plenty of readers to gain a little bit more understanding about Indigenous people, studies, and cultures. I’ll link the article here—

It’s got lots of great ideas and points, but I want to linger for a little bit on one of the questions that Baldy says The Walking Dead asks their audience.

 “Do you think we can come back from this?” 

Baldy discusses how the characters in the popular zombie apocalypse show have to do AND live through terrible things in order to survive in their current world. Baldy uses the question in order to think about how former generations of Native Americans needed to ask it of themselves so that future generations could come back and thrive in any capacity. It’s come up many times in our class that Indigenous populations have in many ways faced elements of the Apocalypse. Honestly, world history is basically summed up by one line:

Whereas, for many of us, we’re facing it now for the first time with COVID-19. And we don’t exactly know what life is going to be like going forward. Tomorrow, on May 1st, my home state of North Dakota is one of the first places to start opening more businesses. While we haven’t technically had an official stay-at-home order, a lot of nonessential businesses have been closed for over a month. But, tomorrow night, the bars on Main Street will be open. 

And I don’t really know what that means yet. 

I also don’t think we know what’s going to happen with school moving forward. Tomorrow, the ND Governor is expected to make an announcement regarding schools in the state, and as someone in education and has a lot of family working as K-12 teachers, I also feel pretty personal about the topic. My sister and a lot of other teachers believe opening schools for a couple of weeks would mostly mean teaching all these new guidelines within some very confined spaces, which wouldn’t make for very productive educational spaces. I agree. My mom works at a daycare, and she’s all for the kids going back for a bit—but that’s just because things are crazy there right now!

Nevermind what all of this is going to do for the future of higher education. High school seniors are already ending their K-12 schooling during this time, I can’t imagine them making decisions about college when it’s not clear right now if things will continue being online. But how can we imagine nineteen-year-olds living in dorms again in August? 

Every time I’m in a Zoom class lately, I have some of these same intrusive thoughts about our lives being fake right now. “This isn’t real,” I think as I stare at a screen again with all these boxes like we’re The Brady Bunch. And we do miss so much of human interaction with this limited Zoom landscape. Body language and eye contact and…reading people in other human ways.

So—we come to the question again. What makes us human? 

It’s a question we’ve ruminated on all semester, ever since watching the Blade Runner films. Only now, maybe we’re all the androids. I never thought I’d relate so much to Joi, the holographic companion of Ryan Gosling, who’s attempting to grasp at humanity and intimacy in so many ways. 

Standing out in the rain just to feel something is so relatable right now.

And I don’t know right now how to come back into the real world after living like Joi. 

Or if we should. Or can.

In this entry of many questions, I’ll end with a song from Disney’s Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. I haven’t read many academic takes on these Disney movies, but I’d be very curious because it has the Disney gloss over many of the issues we’ve mentioned Native Americans communities facing. At the same time, it also poses some truths.

But where do I go from here?

So many voices ringing in my ear

Which is the voice that I was meant to hear?

How will I know?

Where do I go from here?

My world has changed and so have I

I’ve learned to choose

And even learned to say goodbye

The path ahead is so hard to see

“Where Do I Go From Here” from Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World

I’ll still be here asking questions for who knows how long.

Yours From Six Feet Away,

Noelle

Ain’t No Way We Survive This

Mushu is too much in this entire gif. I’m sorry.

Entry: 14 

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Date: April 27

  • Location: Carrington, ND
  • Temperature: 65 degrees
  • Weather: It’s nice!! Partly cloudy
  • Listening: a lot of Taylor Swift 
  • Watching: Upstairs Downstairs Season 1
  • Reading: The Marrow Thieves
  • Mood: a little worried but okay
  • Drinking: Diet Coke
  • Last Ate: Doritos
  • Goals: prepare a lesson 
  • Lows: anxiety levels are high!
  • Highs: the weather is very nice!!

Dear Diary,

I miss my clothes!!!! Have I talked about this before? Maybe I’ve mentioned it, but I want to talk a little more today about the face that I feel parts of my identity dwindling in quarantine, and one of those things is my confidence. 

Let’s get this straight, diary, I’ve always been a very self-aware person, which has also made me pretty self conscious throughout most of my life. Even as a kid, I always was someone to think before speaking up about anything. Plenty of people called me quiet. A lot referred to me as shy. Thing is, I don’t think I’m that shy around people once I get to know them and feel more comfortable, but I am a careful person. I’m careful with my words, actions, and emotions. 

That carefulness sometimes gets interpreted in different ways, and it takes time for me to make real friends. Now, in some professional settings, things are easier because there’s a more common script to most interactions. Furthermore, I’ve expanded a decent professional wardrobe in the past several years, and my sense of fashion has been able to blossom in my 20s. As a teen, I cared less about clothes because I was a high school athlete that just wore shorts, jeans, sweats, and t-shirts. When we dressed up for games, I occasionally put on a pair of heels, but I didn’t care as much about my clothes.

Why do clothes matter to me now? We’re in the middle of the apocalypse. I’m always at home. I can wear whatever I want to be comfortable. I like wearing leggings and sweatshirts. 

But I also feel my confidence slipping a bit right now. There’s lots of reasons for this, especially as I continue to fill out job applications and wait and wait and wait to hear back for interview calls because so many schools have been set back because of the pandemic. And those interviews that would’ve been done in person are now happening digitally, which in some ways makes me more nervous because I can’t fully hype myself up with the process of getting ready physically. 

And getting dressed helps me feel best about myself.

Plenty of my friends have joked that the way I present and carry myself can be intimidating—an overall air of self-actualization, confidence, and just having my shit together.

Truth is, I’ve needed to get very good at faking confidence in order to feel like I have any. 

Mulan is awkward—but she grew in confidence when faking who she was! AND SAVED CHINA!

I can acknowledge the privilege it is to be missing a nice closet full of clothes during the middle of a pandemic when people are battling illness, losing work, and struggling financially. At the same time, I do need to get better at acknowledging my own emotions and why I’m feeling so rough right now. Those feelings shouldn’t be discounted—even though I’m capable of putting my life into perspective. 

I mean, I’m reading The Marrow Thieves right now for Welcome to the Apocalypse, and the main characters need to scrounge for clothes and shoes that fit. When one of the youngest characters, a little girl named RiRi, finds a pair of discarded, shiny boots, she worries about how the previous owner lost them. Shoes are so rare for them that she thinks whoever left them behind must have been taken by the recruiters, who are capturing Indigenous people for their bone marrow. Narrator French needs to convince her that whoever left them must’ve been some rich little blonde girl so that she’ll take them.

RiRi only got a moment of hope from her pink rubber boots, and she was still thinking about others before she could wear them. 

I guess I’ll have to reframe my own ideas and beliefs about confidence as I move forward in this pandemic. I KNOW I have other traits that are far more important. Sometimes looks are just the first thing people notice, so it’s another thing I’m super aware of. I’ll just have to concentrate on wowing interview panels with my intelligence, work ethic, and empathy (etc. but I’m not a braggy person!!! I have a need for humility!!)

Sigh. Settle down. Be comfortable in your own skin.

You’ll be reunited with your closet soon enough.

Who is that girl I see

Staring straight, back at me

Why is my reflection someone I don’t know

“Reflection” from Mulan

It was initially tougher to find Mulan COVID-19 references, but the GIF I found to begin this post is very dark, and the live action movie that was supposed to come out in March got postponed, so that’s sad. Guess I’ll wait for 2021 to defeat more Huns.

Everyone fighting COVID-19 in 2020.

Until then, I’ll sign off for now.

Yours From Six Feet Away,

Noelle

It’s a Nightmare, But It’s One Exciting Ride

Entry: 13

Time: 6 o’clock

Date: April 24

  • Location: Carrington, ND
  • Temperature: 60 degrees
  • Weather: It’s nice!!
  • Listening: This Is: Little Mix Spotify Playlist
  • Watching: Upstairs Downstairs Season 1
  • Reading: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  • Mood: fine
  • Drinking: H20
  • Last Ate: a sandwich
  • Goals: another job app
  • Lows: getting snippy with my mom
  • Highs: the weather is very nice!!

Dear Diary,

I don’t have too much I want to write about today, but the president did recommend drinking bleach yesterday, so that’s on my mind. He also, like, suggested doctors inject disinfectant right into a person’s blood stream?????????

So that was just one of those news stories that really makes me feel like we’re living in some wild alternative universe right now and somewhere out there another timeline exists where in 2016 Hillary Clinton won the election and never outright dismissed a pandemic team when making government cuts. That has to exist somewhere. If we’re operating on a belief system where there’s multiple parallel universes, I think she won in the majority of those.

But. We’re. Stuck. In. This. One. Honestly, how are these headlines even real??????

Just Your Average 2020 News Cycle

Essential journalism in 2020 includes The New York Times needing to do an entire article telling readers not to drink bleach. Meanwhile, I still have high school classmates on Facebook telling me not to listen to the media during this time because COVID-19 isn’t that bad.

Me every time I see someone spread misinformation on Facebook

I try to limit my Facebook and social media time, but that’s a challenge when those are also the platforms I’m using to talk to actual friends right now. Nevertheless, there continues to be dumb and dangerous shit on social media—and that’s part of the reason we’re in this mess.

So many things come back to 2016 when Number 45 got elected. He’s truly terrible and just so so so dumb. Will some of his supporters go and drink bleach now????? Maybe. Then, they might try to sue Lysol. Lysol shouldn’t have to send out additional reminders via Twitter not to ingest their product. We’ve know this for ages!!!

This is a multiple punctuation mark kind of entry, if you can’t tell. But look!!!!

On the plus side of American politics, Former President Barack Obama has also been more vocal in the past few weeks. The wrapping up of the 2020 democratic primary was complicated and not ideal in many ways, BUT I am so happy to have President Obama being vocal during this very weird time. He endorsed his former VP Joe Biden in a great video, but I have to admit I was just happy to see his face and hear him speak without, you know, telling the public to inject lysol.

Slight tangent, diary, I also used President Obama as part of my Broadway songs Instagram challenge today because the remix of “One Last Time” with his voice honestly makes me cry if I listen all the way through.

Barack Obama may not have been a perfect president. I’m not sure one exists.

But 45 is something else entirely, and his die-hard followers can actually be scary, so it felt fitting to use “The Mob Song” from Beauty and the Beast for my post today.

We don’t like what we don’t understand in fact it scares us

And this monster is mysterious at least

Bring your guns bring your knives

Save your children and your wives

We’ll save our village and our lives

We’ll kill the Beast

“The Mob Song” from Beauty and the Beast
Gaston was also an egomaniac

I think I’m calling COVID-19 the Beast here?????

One last reminder not to inject bleach into your body!!!

Yours From Six Feet Away,

Noelle

With Blue Skies Ahead

Brother Bear is a seriously underrated Disney movie.

Entry: 12

Time: 6 o’clock

Date: April 21 wow this month near the end omg time is weird

  • Location: Carrington, ND
  • Temperature: 55 degrees
  • Weather: It’s pretty nice out
  • Listening: This Is: Little Mix Spotify Playlist
  • Watching: Superstore
  • Reading: The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice
  • Mood: alright
  • Drinking: H20
  • Last Ate: pizza!
  • Goals: Zooming
  • Lows: waiting to hear about job applications
  • Highs: going for a walk with my sister

Dear Diary,

North Dakota is too slow to spring. I’ve spent almost every year of my life in my home state, but Kansas really opened my eyes as to what a real spring could be like when I was there for most of last year. See, Kansas has regular seasons. North Dakota has Pre-Winter, Winter, Extra Winter, Teaser Sprig, Just Kidding It’s Still Winter, A Few Weeks of Spring, Summer, and A Short Fall Before Winter. 

But in the past few days, I’ve been excited to hear lawn mowers running outside. When our living room gets warmer in the evenings from the setting sun, I like getting to open a window to feel a crisp spring breeze. 

The spring weather feels even more welcome and essential this year, of course, when we’re all feeling so trapped. The good thing about living up here is that we’re truly rural enough that social distancing is pretty easy. Half the town can be out on a walk at the same time, and we still don’t risk crossing paths with one another. Okay, maybe not half the town, but you get the idea. 

Tomorrow is also Earth Day. I’m a fan of Earth Day, and I think a large portion of the general public would agree that appreciating and being good to Earth is important. This Earth Day, though, we can also all reflect even more on how the presence of humans has impacted Earth, especially post the Industrial Revolution, because we’re suddenly not leaving as gigantic of a carbon footprint every single day. 

A recent meme in the Twitter world has been making fun of this idea of Earth rebounding during the pandemic. The meme started with some viral tweets featuring canals in Venice having clearer water, though I also love this one of some elephants getting drunk in a Vineyard.

Wow this tweet has everything a good tweet needs, even if its not real.

Unfortunately, many of these tweets were later debunked, aside from the very real story about a bunch of goats taking over the streets in Wales, which I love.

Nevertheless, a meme was born. 

“Nature is healing. We are the virus.” 

– A 2020 Pandemic Meme

I find the Furbie one particularly terrifying.

There will be less travel this Earth Day. Gas is the cheapest it’s been since years before I got a drivers’ license. That doesn’t mean we’re being as kind as we could be to Earth. We can actually learn a lot when we think about this meme a little bit more. Because Earth isn’t healing just because we’re spending more time inside. We still throw away a lot of trash. We use plenty of electricity. Most states are still highly dependent on fossil fuels, and I don’t think this is the space to dive fully into the topic, diary, so no worries, I’ll try to wrap up my thoughts. Point is—meme humor is sort of on point.

I hope to find ways to celebrate Earth tomorrow. Maybe I’ll do an old school trash pick-up along the highway or donate to a conservation nonprofit. And, I’ll finish today with some Brother Bear, an underrated Disney film that’s very centered around the natural world, and “On My Way” has some killer Phil Collins lyrics that speak towards end of quarantine feelings.

‘Cause there’s nothing like seeing

each other again

No matter what the distance between

And the stories that we tell

will make you smile

Oh it really lifts my heart

So tell ’em all I’m on my way

New friends and new places to see

And to sleep under the stars

Who could ask for more

With the moon keeping watch over me

“On My Way” from Brother Bear

Soon, we’ll get to keep exploring more of Earth, but hopefully we’ll also appreciate her more because of this time.

Yours From Six Feet Away,

Noelle

Are You Satisfied With Your Care?

Entry: 11

Time: 3 o’clock

Date: It’s Sunday but days still don’t matter

  • Location: Carrington, ND
  • Temperature: 48 degrees
  • WEATHER: sunny but windy
  • Listening: Hadestown Broadway Cast Recording
  • Watching: Superstore
  • Reading: The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice
  • Mood: fair
  • Drinking: Diet Coke
  • Last Ate: funfetti pancakes
  • Goals: finish grading today
  • Lows: too much time in basement
  • Highs: Actually went to Walmart yesterday and left the county !! 

Dear Diary,

Okay, today I need to do some talking about people who are being dumb during this pandemic. Many states are preparing to slowly start opening things back up. I’m excited and anxious for things to get back to normal. I literally left Foster County yesterday for the first time in FIVE WEEKS. That honestly might be a record.

Of course, I followed all social distancing rules during this little field trip. We took a trip to Walmart for some groceries. The store was pretty empty, so it was easy to keep within our group and not cross paths with others. After a quick shopping trip, we ordered some take-out from a bar and grill in town before going to park by the Jamestown reservoir to eat in the car. It was nice just to do something outside of the ordinary day-to-day of every day being the exact same. 

I get the need for things to return to normal. 

What I don’t get is this.

Image from The Financial Times
“Ma’am, this is a Baskin Robbins.”
Protesters stand outside the Statehouse Atrium where reporters listen during the State of Ohio’s Coronavirus response update on Monday, April 13, 2020 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. About 100 protesters assembled outside the building during Gov. Mike DeWine’s weekday update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, upset that the state remains under a Stay-At-Home order and that non-essential businesses remain closed. (Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

The final image is just one that went viral, most for comparisons many were making to zombie movies and shows like The Walking Dead.

And yeah, all of these protests look like something out of a zombie movie. I’ve been talking about this since the beginning of the pandemic—how we watched three versions of the film throughout Welcome to the Apocalypse. The panicked people in airports a few weeks ago reminded me of the crowds in I am Legend. The emptiness of stores reminds me of The Omega Man. Every time someone mentions the potential for a vaccine, I think of these movies as well as The Last Man on Earth. 

Still from The Last Man on Earth. Crazy that it’s called “Europes’ disease” here but very similar to how some call COVID-19 the “Chinese Virus”.
Ruth poses with the models in The Omega Man.

Meanwhile, essential workers put their lives on the line every single day. My Uncle Jimmy has been working at a grocery store for about forty years, and he’s continued to do so during the pandemic. He’s sixty years old, has an intellectual disability, and can’t go visit a lot of his friends right now because they’re 80+ years old. Right now, he’s taking every precaution in case COVID-19 were to come into the store. Yet, I know plenty of people still have been gathering in large groups, even as the number of cases spiked in North Dakota at the end of this week. 

A meme I save that was going around Facebook

Anytime I see a crowd, I can’t help but think about how overwhelmed so many health care workers are across the country and world right now. So many have needed to distance themselves entirely from families and put their lives on the line. The least we can do is stay home to lessen their work as they continue this fight. 

Quote from Big Hero 6

I understand the need to escape right now, but we can’t survive this pandemic thinking only about ourselves. Until we have Baymax from Big Hero 6 taking care of us (a very kind robot who can’t get sick), we need to look out for the real, flesh and blood humans that still are every day.

Thank you to all healthcare workers. Thank you to other essential employees.

Everyone else, let’s keep our distance.

Yours From Six Feet Away,

Noelle

Out There

Entry: 10

Time: 7:25

Date: Wednesday, April 15

Location: Carrington, ND

  • Temperature: it’s finally 30 degrees again
  • WEATHER: bit chilly but not bad at all
  • Listening: Six the Musical
  • Watching: BBC’s Pride and Prejudice mini-series
  • Reading: The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice
  • Mood: decently caffeinated 
  • Drinking: water
  • Last Ate: fish and baby baked potatoes
  • Goals: write my research infused essay for nonfiction
  • Lows: constant work lol
  • Highs: WENT OUTSIDE FOR FIRST TIME IN 5 DAYS

Dear Diary,

It’s a pandemic, and I still have too much homework to do. Some days, it feels like I have even more than before we switched to online classes???

Either way, I can feel my brain turning further into mush as I try to push it through academic hoops without ever getting to actually see people. Because I’m a naturally pretty introverted person, I didn’t realize how much my happiness relies on tiny, ordinary day-to-day interactions with literally anyone. Honestly, I miss just getting to be nice and smile at fast food workers. I haven’t been called “honey” or “sweetie” by a woman at a cash register in over a month. 

This will truly be me. Can’t wait to get my hands on a 4 for 4 and Frosty.

Sidenote: Fast food workers are so damn nice when you’re nice to them. It shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise that McDonald’s has been in the news recently for not treating employees fairly, but fast food businesses have been deemed essential during the pandemic. 

Here are a couple of the headlines talking about McDonald’s and other fast food companies in the midst of coronavirus.

These workers deserve hazard pay AND paid sick days off for working!!! through!!! a pandemic!!!

It looks like Wendy’s is giving hourly workers a 10% pay increase, so I definitely know which fast food joint I’ll be supporting when going back into the real world.

While I am looking forward to physically walking into restaurants when social distancing expectations are loosened a bit, I have been trying, along with my family, to continue supporting local restaurants that have been opened for limited hours during the pandemic. If I have to order a fire strip basket with ranch and seasoned fries from the Hi-way Drive-In to do my part during a crisis, I will certainly do that (while I still have the funds—can’t wait to see if that stimulus check it my account yet).

SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES!
Visit the drive-in when going through Carrington

In truth, food has been one of the things that I’m able to look forward to during this time. I get to eat meals with family. We’ve had baked goods, like cookies and banana bread, almost every week. Food has given me little joys the past few weeks. But I’m still looking forward to getting some food and eating *live* in a restaurant. Crazy stuff.

But, we might be getting closer to that moment. People have expressed a little more hope lately on the news. I want to be hopeful. But I’m also hesitant.

It’ll happen though, if just for one day. I’ll be “Out There” like Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Taste a morning out there

Like ordinary men

Who freely walk about there

Just one day and then

I swear I’ll be content

With my share

Won’t resent

Won’t despair

Old and bent

I won’t care

I’ll have spent

One day

Out there

“Out There” from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Yeah, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a dark choice for Disney, but Alan Menken did the music, so it slaps—naturally.

Six Feet Away (For Now),

Noelle

The Planet Earth Was Down on It’s Luck

All Hail The Muses: Goddesses of the Arts and Proclaimers of Heroes

Entry: 9

Time: 5 o’clock

Date: Monday, April 12

  • Location: Carrington, ND
  • Temperature: 25 degrees
  • Feels Like: 1 DEGREE
  • WEATHER: COLD COLD BRRRR
  • Listening: The Prince of Egypt – New Musical Recording
  • Watching: Brooklyn 99 Season 7 
  • Reading: The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice
  • Mood: decently productive
  • Drinking: water
  • Last Ate: cold italian pasta salad
  • Goals: apply for one job
  • Lows: complaining about mom to my work
  • Highs: fair success in starting essay for creative nonfiction

Dear Diary,

Yeah, I lied about coming back to write the next day. What of it? It’s the apocalypse. I can’t write in my diary every day. 

Yesterday was Easter, and it was one of the most lackluster holidays I’ve had in my lifetime. I actually felt a little bad about my lack of enthusiasm on the day as a whole because, while I needed to finish writing a paper and planning my teaching for the week, my mom was determined to make something special out of these unusual holiday circumstances. She didn’t stop at making Easter baskets for me, my sister, my dad, and my uncle. No, Ruthy needed to make baskets to deliver at the houses of other family friends in the community. Yes, she’s wonderful, and I don’t deserve her, but she should be limiting her time in Dollar General a little bit more during a pandemic.

Live footage of my mom going shopping for extra Easter baskets.

So what happens to religion during the apocalypse? Well, we got a few guesses at that from some of the texts in Welcome to the Apocalypse. Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation definitely gave us the most developed religious community within the story’s worldbuilding. Chapter 21 “In Which I Attend Church,” the preacher reiterates talks about “the abolitionists who unleashed this Sinner’s Plague of the Dead” (245) and that the civil war “disrupted the order God had given to us” (246). Basically, this preacher, along with other followers, argued that God sent the zombie shamblers as punishment for upsetting the natural order of slavery. 

At the heart of Cormak McCarthy’s The Road are really big questions about God. Is there a God? What does it mean for humanity if God left the world in such a state? How should humans act if there is no God? 

The man does seem to believe in God, and he’s mad at God. In an early section, the man wonders:

 “Are you there? he whispered. Will I see you at last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a soul? Oh God, he whispered. Oh God.”

The Road

A thread of spirituality also seems to follow the boy with his determination to “carry the fire” because, even if what’s left of the world doesn’t follow any traditional religions, the boy still represents humanity’s remaining potential for goodness. 

In our current pandemic, some states still tried to hold church services for Easter. The Kansas Supreme Court denied any measures to allow in-person services, thank goodness. North Dakota church services have been suspended for about a month now. This was my favorite Facebook meme about Easter church in 2020:

The accuracy kills me.

I didn’t take in any online services, but I did decide to watch the beginning of The Prince of Egypt, a truly beautiful animated film with a soundtrack that slaps. I’m also listening to a new musical cast recording from the West End. It’s excellent, though it’s harder listening to “The Plagues” in this current timeline.

“I send the thunder from the sky
I send the fire raining down”
“The Plagues”

However excellent the movie and soundtrack may be, The Prince of Egypt is a Dreamworks movie, and I need to end with Disney. Thus, I’ll turn to some Greek Mythology and some Gospel Truth from the Muses.

It was a nasty place

There was a mess

Whereever you stepped

Where chaos reigned and

Earthquakes and volcanoes never slept

And then along came Zeus

-“The Gospel Truth” from Disney’s Hercules
“Back when the world was new…”

We can only hope for Zeus to hurl some thunderbolts to knock out this current chaos.

Until then I’m Yours From Six Feet Away,

Noelle

Sad and Confined

“And always locked behind these palace walls” -Jasmine in Aladdin on Broadway

Entry: 8

Time: 7 o’clock

Date: Saturday, April 11

  • Location: Carrington, ND
  • Temperature: 30 degrees
  • WEATHER: Cloudy and cold
  • Listening: the heater
  • Watching: BBC’s Pride and Prejudice mini-series
  • Reading: The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice
  • Mood: tired
  • Drinking: water
  • Last Ate: popcorn chicken salad
  • Goals: write paper for Downton Abbey class
  • Lows: lots of work to do
  • Highs: meals with my parents

Dear Diary,

I’m sorry it’s been a couple of days. I really haven’t felt much in the mood lately, but it’s now Saturday night, and I guess I’ve avoided writing to you long enough.

This week marked the end of our third week into online school and serious social distancing and…I’m tired of it. It feels like we’ve been doing this thing forever. I’ve almost forgotten how much motivation to do things I build up from little moments of fun and escapism during the day. Every walk to the union to get ice cream with a friend gives me just enough energy to write the next page of a paper. The constant walks around the offices and check-ins with friends provide brain breaks that allow me to finish readings for class. Now, it just has been sinking in even more that I’ve done those things for the last time at K-State. I won’t ever work at my desk in my little office space anymore or burst into show tunes with my officemates. 

Live action look at us bursting into song in ECS 028

I’ve got some bigger research assignments due for school in the upcoming week, and I just haven’t had the energy to think about them. I can keep up with most of my day-to-day work, but the bigger projects feel even more daunting than usual. I’m still trying to keep normal sleeping patterns. I still drink the same amount of caffeine to get me through the day. Also, I’m nearing another college graduation, so that means needing to find a job for next fall, which is anxiety inducing enough when there isn’t a pandemic.

Every day during the apocalypse.

I know I’m not the only person who’s mental health has taken a hit in these past few weeks. Benjamin J. Miller writes for USA Today on the topic that “Social isolation and loneliness are linked to a variety of mental and physical health problems. From depression to heart disease, these health conditions often get worse when we are alone.” The article goes on to detail how many elements concerning or affecting mental health have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/04/08/mental-health-our-epidemic-within-coronavirus-pandemic-column/2939511001/

So, my entries on week three have been a little more melancholy, and I think I’m all out of words today, but I’ll try again tomorrow. As for today, I’ll leave with Jasmine’s optimistic escapism from the Aladdin Broadway Soundtrack.

Maybe there’s more beyond these palace walls

What if I dared?

What if I tried?

Am I prepared for what’s outside?

Why shouldn’t I fly so far from here?

Something awaits beyond these palace walls

“These Palace Walls” from Aladdin on Broadway

I’m still within the walls of my home (not a palace) and yours from at least six feet away,

Noelle

But You Must Go On

Entry: 7

Time: 3 0 1

Date: Tuesday

  • Location: Carrington, ND
  • Temperature: 39 degrees
  • WEATHER: Partly cloudy
  • Listening: My Dad being loud on Zoom
  • Watching: Succession Season 1 (FREE HBO!)
  • Reading: The Way of Thorn and Thunder by Daniel Heath Justice
  • Mood: content
  • Drinking: Diet Coke
  • Last Ate: raspberries
  • Goals: Zoom for classes
  • Lows: Zoom getting a bit repetitive
  • Highs: I took 2 walks yesterday

Dear Diary,

In most of my entries so far, I’ve done a lot of talking about my family. It makes sense. They’re super important to me even when they aren’t the only individuals in my social circle. But this time social distancing from friends and work means that I’m even luckier to have always had a mostly happy homelife. 

I’m also teaching twenty-seven undergraduate college students in a literature class right now, and I know that the majority of them are also at home right now. When I checked in with them about their whereabouts during the first week of online classes, I found it encouraging that many seemed to be appreciating the additional time with family. Nearly all expressed being able to spend time outside with loved ones as one of the highlights of their days. That said, I also worry as a teacher about the conflicts that are bound to arise with young adults moving back in with their parents. The increased tension and anxiety can really bleed through a household. I can only hope to be as supportive and understanding of my students in such weird times and circumstances.

Yesterday, I started thinking about all of this again when I saw that the New York Times published an article about the uptick in domestic violence over the past several weeks. Amanda Taub writes that “As quarantines take effect around the world, that kind of ‘intimate terrorism’ — a term many experts prefer for domestic violence — is flourishing.” 

Sadly, it wasn’t something that surprised me. The article focused mostly on women facing domestic violence, but I’ve also had conversations with my mom recently about kids being at home all day, rather than in school, and that will surely also mean an upswing in child abuse. A little further research revealed the Times posted another article specifically talking about children facing violence during these few weeks. Nina Agrawal, a child abuse pediatrician, writes specifically on this topic. Agrawal points out that, “Typically, the watchful eyes of teachers, guidance counselors and day care providers serve as lifelines for vulnerable children. Educators are the primary source of reports (20 percent) to child protective services nationwide.” Agrawal also discusses things that can be done to help out in these situations:

Small acts of support — whether in the form of food, toilet paper, coloring books or just an empathetic ear — can make a difference and ease parents’ stress.

Nina Agrawal, The New York Times

I found these suggestions, which included making connections between community leaders and organizers with social workers and mental health clinicians, a bright spot in the article. On the whole, I still see people showing an abundance of care for others. We know times are dark, but, as Albus Dumbledore says in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

I still see light and love.

One way I notice the light and love every day is by looking around my town at the many hearts on display in windows. The “World of Hearts” campaign actually started with a Facebook post from a woman living in Bismarck, ND, that’s now gone viral and crossed over into multiple areas of the country. The Fargo Forum wrote up an article about her a couple weeks ago:

https://www.inforum.com/lifestyle/family/5011692-A-world-of-hearts-starts-in-North-Dakota-as-online-effort-to-share-love-spreads-during-pandemic

An image from Wisconsin featured in the Fargo Forum’s article.

A simple idea—but we need every bit of love and beauty right now. These window decorations serve as reminders for us all to keep going and have strength, especially those facing difficult situations at home. Hopefully, they also pass along joy to healthcare professionals and essential workers helping us all during this crisis.

In the meantime, I’ll keep doing my best to take care of myself, and maybe make a few hearts for our kitchen window for good measure. Like Anna says in Frozen 2, we’ve got to continue trying to do “The Next Right Thing.”

I won’t look too far ahead

It’s too much for me to take

But break it down to this next breath, this next step

This next choice is one that I can make

So I’ll walk through this night

Stumbling blindly toward the light

And do the next right thing

And, with it done, what comes then?

When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again

Then I’ll make the choice to hear that voice

And do the next right thing

“The Next Right Thing” from Frozen 2

Yours From Six Feet Away,

Noelle

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