Quarantine diaries: Sights, thoughts and creativity from 5 el Don staffers

These last few months have made us feel crazy, they’ve made us feel uneasy and they’ve even made us feel things we’ve never felt before. But we’re all adjusting to the new normal of relative isolation and finding ways to stay sane while we are under Gov. Newsom’s mandatory stay-at-home order. We are learning

Some of our staffers wrote about their experiences during quarantine — their daily sights, thoughts, habits and creative expressions. What are you doing with your days between classes? Email your words, sounds or videos to [email protected]

Bre Castañeda: Coloring the Anxiety Away

I’m sure many people with mental health issues can relate, but this can be the worst thing happening to us right now. For those who need to feel better with social interactions, or those with overthinking tendencies not seeing a good ending when all of this is done. Usually when I feel my anxiety kick in, just about anything could make me feel better. Now, it’s different. I can’t go out to walk around Downtown Disney to calm down. I can’t go to the mall with a close friend to eat an ice cream and talk it all out. It’s actually hard, and those zoom meetings and google hangout calls can barely make up for lost interaction. The only thing that is making me feel at ease throughout this hectic time is actually coloring. Specifically adult coloring books for me. It really gets my mind winding and cooling down. All I could think about when coloring is just what I’m doing. “Will that leaf look better with this green? Will orange and blue stand out nicely on this flower?” My mind is at ease. I should get back into painting next,but coloring for me has actually helped me mentally through this hectic time. Playing your favorite jams while coloring or playing something funny in the background to at least make you laugh, (my sister keeps putting on Sponge Bob so at least that does make me feel better.) To anyone who can relate or needs to get their minds off everything and everyone scaring and stressing you out, sit in your house with either someone or no one and let the colors flow you away from it all.

Christopher Castro: Rap, Time, and Mind

Hello people in a specific place and time. I spend my time at home by rapping over beats I find on YouTube. My favorite rap instrumentals I use is, Kendrick Lamar FEAR., rn im listening to a free mix of asap rocky and xxxtentaccion type beats called “BENEATH THE LIGHT”. and this is a song I wrote.

Emily Hernandez: Stubborn smart devices and grandmothers — who has the strongest will? 

My grandmother and I sat in the kitchen drinking coffee saturated in milk and sugar. My grandma asked the smart device sitting on the edge of the round table named “Alexa” to play a song by a Spanish artist. After asserting her command, Alexa played “Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles.” I felt a smile spread on my face as the first notes began to play and melted away layers of anxious thoughts. Somehow this song made the moment better as I tried to explain to her that “Los Beatles” were playing. The melodies playing were smooth like honey and reflected back to me memories from my childhood. She asked Alexa again to play the Spanish artist and instead, it played a heavy metal song. The song screeched noisily and elicited a look of horror on my grandma’s face and a chuckle erupted from mine. Finally, my grandma asked “Alexa” for a third time to play the Spanish artist. In defeat, Alexa played the Spanish tune and it filled up the room like an aroma as my grandma sang along to it.

Julian Reynoso: My Octane

For what seems like it’s been forever, people have filled every inch of this house with footsteps. Mouths have created noises and rhyme that our ears decipher into a language we understand. Hands make beats as they tap on tables, counters, and legs from boredom. We are stuck within four walls that have turned this world upside down, creating a “new normal.” I walk up to the stove that I’ve been waiting for to heat up my water. I pour it into my overused stainless steel cup, along with my favorite hazelnut creamer and TERRIBLE powdered coffee. I stir and I add the ice. I know it doesn’t make sense to heat up the water and later add ice. And I’ve been meaning to change that routine, but routines are keeping us sane right now. I head to the kitchen table, sitting on the spot I have claimed as mine. I look at my caffeinated filled cup that acts as my octane with a love I can’t explain. I take the first sip and it immediately wakes me up. I swallow the next few gulps and I’m brought back to life. I digest the last bit of coffee as I stare down the barrel of the cup, watching the light brown liquid disappear into my mouth. And just like that, the anxiety, the depression, the loud noises from the neighbor’s kids and my dog barking at everything that passes our window. It’s all gone for those few minutes. And I already can’t wait for my twentieth cup of coffee of the day.

Sarah Harwell: Professional Concert Attendee

Before quarantine, I would attend my friends’ concerts almost twice a month and see another band once a month. My life was taken up by being able to go to shows, and it was often my way of “partying”; dancing with my friends, going to In-N-Out after, and driving home late at night, listening to the same set I just heard, still giddy from the live music. I often had a routine of getting ready, choosing carefully how I was dressed depending on who I was seeing, and planning ahead if I was going to slowly sway to the music or mosh with my friends. After the coronavirus hit, I had to cancel my Coachella plans, all of my future concerts that I was so excited for, and watch all my friends have to cancel their shows and desperately push to sell their merch. For me, going to shows was a community activity, where I met friends who had the same music taste as me, and would often see them at other shows without intending to meet up. It was a way for me to feel like I belonged somewhere in a group that had such a strong alliance with something that I loved so much. My best way of feeling that way again was going for a drive and listening to music alone, belting out lyrics to absolutely no one but myself. I would join my friend’s drum lessons through Zoom just to hear her talk about music again, and dance with her virtually as she played examples for her students. In place of new music release parties, my friends and I would join live-streams through Instagram on our phones and FaceTime on our laptops as we talked about which songs we liked. It was oddly intimate, even though I yearned for loud music and watching and supporting my friends’ bands. Despite our distance, and not being able to physically be with one another, it meant even more to me to be able to connect with others through music, even during a pandemic.

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