I Was Social Distancing Already. Corona Made it Harder.

I’d moved to a new city for work. I had Pennsylvania on my lips and mind months to graduation and so when I finally found work in the state after uncertain months in the Washington DC area, I knew manifesting and saying positive things into existence worked. I loved my new job. It came as an affirmative sign that I needed to remain in academia regardless of the appeal and heavy attraction I found in international development.

My new city was perfect. I was three hours away from everything. When you have tons of un listened to podcasts and talkative friends, a three hour drive isn’t that bad. I could be in New York city, Philadelphia and back in the DC area if I added an extra hour to the drive. It wasn’t that bad. The new area was serene and beautiful. It was a valley surrounded by endless mountains. I could pursue my interest in photography and actually make something out of it here, – the whole place looked like a post card and reminded me so much of Aburi mountains in Ghana. And so though perfect, I had no friends in the area because of course, I was new in here.

Stay Home
I was quite isolated ; coming in Friday night and going back out Monday morning for work was how unsocial my life was. I really had no work friends, no neighborhood friends, no just stopping by unexpectedly type of friends, no when are you coming over friends, no happy hour friends, no gym friends, no let’s hang out and do nothing friends. I came home and stared at the wall or slept off through a show. I joined a yoga community that was very warm, discovered that I was in the same class with the parents of some of my students and slowly came to realize how tiny my new city was. Everyone knew everyone. Small city problems. Back home sleep or work filled a good amount of my time and so though unsocial, I really had no down time to worry about how slightly lonely my life was. Friday March 13, which generally superstitious people consider a bad luck day was the day my employers told faculty that the Pennsylvania governor had directed a two-week closure as an initial measure to curb the spread of the COVID 19 virus. Cool, I could do with some time off, it shouldn’t be that bad. I’d be home. I really don’t go out anyways.

Do Not Touch Your Face

The average person touches their face ninety times. I didn’t know that! I resented the person that had forwarded me the text. My ex. It sounds very cliché to resent an ex I know, – however this feeling came from our cordiality. I appreciate his concern on good days and I hate it on days the hormone monster takes me over because why would you care and be interested in how I am doing in the midst of a pandemic when you live only four hours away and could physically check in if you really CARED that much? I think concern and interest are things that should not be half assed and that’s how I feel. You either totally care or do not and so save me forwarded texts about COVID 19. The internet is free and I can locate that information myself. I read every word of the message though, it was an advisory piece from his cousin who is a medical doctor. I did not reply but was grateful for the information. The average person touches their face ninety times a day? This Corona was from hell then because tell me who does not touch their face? This is either the Bird Box movie or literally testing our capacity to avoid reflexes that are sadly and irrevocably human! And so our newest and latest challenging development in human existence was keeping face touching to the minimum. Infection happens when the eyes, nose or mouth are exposed to droplets containing the virus. It made sense to keep hands clean and avoid touching the face. This really felt like Bird Box. Do not open your eyes and you’ll be okay. But how does a person live without performing essential reflexes like opening their eyes or touching their faces? Might as well tell people to stop swallowing their own spit. My anxiety was building up, but then I knew how to suppress it quite well with anything and everything. I had things to think about like what my life would look like if employers decided they could no longer pay for non attendance or where to start with alternative plans for if I needed to move instruction online. How about travel? I certainly could not remain in this city away from friends and family if a lockdown happened. I suddenly had a newer appreciation for levels of grief. I was worrried about my own life and empathetic to the unimaginable struggles of other people with deeper worries than mine.

Avoid Non- Essential Travel

I woke up on day one of my Stay Home directive feeling anxious. Truly, knowing one has a day off versus knowing one has a day off as a result of a pandemic are not the same things. On a day off, I could stroll into a mall, go do my hair or honor that waxing appointment because I could. Today though, I was not up for rethinking and or replaying all of the ways I think I may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus while I was out. I do not remember a time where the sneeze of my hair stylist became a sudden problem or a time where a door knob looked more intimidating than ever. I’d also started this weird routine of linking any unfamiliar feeling in my body to a possibility of being infected. I had a temperature last night, I wondered if I had the virus and was exhibiting mild symptoms. Idris Elba had mentioned he had no symptoms at all. What if I had no symptoms as well just like him? I wanted to go to Staples for some supplies. I woke up pumped, did some work outs, decided on an outfit, looked at the empty street beneath me, and remembered the dreadful line; avoid non essential travel. Did I really need to be at Staples today? I guess not. I slumped into the chair feeling more trapped than ever.

A Shift in Values

A Paragraph from my most read website about a change in human values in the face of uncertainties

I came by my friend’s in Philadelphia. She’d been working from home with a thoughtful home office space set up. She’d spread out all her resources and needs all around her. On the one hand, this set up incited very positive feelings in me. I loved structure and purpose. She even had a book she said she was reading. The home office made me feel grown and purposeful and proud to be acquainted with such a focussed person. She was waking up at 7am, going through a morning routine and settling down for work at 8am. This was a complete 8hr schedule from home. She had a career she was building, goals and things to check off a progressive to do list. This was great! We spoke a little of why a real home office complete with plants and comfortable furniture and dim lights and music and a tiny shelf for snacks and drinks was an absolute necessity in a our near future super adult lives. I was in high spirits. Yet, the actual reason we were home and working from home lingered in the back of my mind. That part brought a little or actually many questions to mind. Happens I wasn’t the only one with that many questions. My go to blog which I love because it mostly features research backed information on diverse topics had published a short article on what the pandemic had reduced our lives to. It listed three things our lives had become in the aftermath of COVID-19. The second one stuck with me. The pandemic had in one way or the other changed our needs as a people and that was the undeniable truth.

‘When their need for closure rises, people become “group-centric,” which means they yearn for cohesion and unity.

The coronavirus pandemic is scary. Everyone can be infected. No one is exempt. No matter what your station in life, your status, power or popularity, the virus still can get you.

This possibility evokes an overriding sense of fragility and vulnerability. Ample research attests that with one’s feelings of control and personal agency at an ebb – such as in infancy, in sickness or old age – one’s dependence on others rises.

This prompts putting social relations at a premium, strengthening one’s attachment to others, boosting the appreciation of one’s loved ones, family and friends.

One consequence of our helplessness in face of the pandemic is our greater sociability, a yearning for warmth and succor, the realization that we need others, that we cannot hack it alone.

The sense of needing to check on people or the other sense of a we-are-in-this together is seen especially on social media. Two of such cohesive events that drew my attention were John Legend’s live IG mini concert and just last night, March 21, Bloom Bar Gh’s IG live of their in house DJ. We are in quarantine and ingenious online meetings are not only a demonstration of our need for social company as people, but also the immensity and positive impacts of social cohesion especially in times like this

Tenacity in a Time of I Want It Now

My 2020 has been full of road blocks. Mainly professional. Some of the resolutions to these hoops come soon enough and others only resolve themselves much later. I’ve lost count of how many days it is since non essential workers were asked to stay home. On the news yesterday March 24 and today March 25, President Trump has been alluding to a lifting of the stay at home guidelines because to paraphrase his words, America is not a country that was made to be closed.

Last night I took a walk outside with my friend. The walk was meant to let us get some air, talk and maybe find food though we weren’t that hungry. The height of our walk was when we got to a pizza place and nearly entered but saw a sign that said that we couldn’t go in to order. They were only open for deliveries. The workers in the pizzeria were as invested as possible in being safe and so they were taking phone orders only. We weren’t upset, I mean, we weren’t even that hungry to start with. But then, something about the previous ease and mindless effort in ordering food and how it now was suddenly so hard put many things in perspective for me. We accepted their directive with grace and turned around. No arguments, no calling your manager. We just simply understood.

Personal Road Blocks and Juxtaposing with COVID-19

I’ve been in my own back and forth with an editor over an article I want published somewhere I believe I’d gain more traction as a writer invested in the arts, literature and culture. I’ve been grateful for the editor’s willingness and patience in explaining to me that they do not fact check and so they’d rather receive submissions from PhD candidates or PhD’s researching in the areas they want to submit in. The back and forth started with a recommendation to search for a PhD or candidate to co author my article. Two emails to faculty I have a good relationship with returned no response from the first one ( who I have an excellent relationship with ) and an indirect negative response from the second one ( who I also have a good relationship with ). I asked a friend whose research isn’t in my interest areas because I thought she could work since the editor asked for the co author to be in the categories of candidate or actual PhD ( they did not say her research had to be in the area I wanted to submit in ). Anyway, an email back said we are sorry your coauthor can’t be listed because her research isn’t in literature. Bummer. And so I ask another friend whose research and area of interest is literature and who is no longer a candidate but an actual PhD. I honestly do not even know why I didn’t think of him at the very beginning! We send an email, and after some silence, more bad news. They are sorry I can’t be listed as a coauthor ( though I wrote the article ) because their editorial rules only allow them to receive submissions from PhDs or candidates. They don’t work with writers who have only received Masters degrees aka me. I have a routine of checking my emails first

thing in the morning. I mean. They appear right among the notifications on my phone. There’s no missing them. I took a whole day to reply this email.

The editor concluded by saying ‘Let me know how you feel’…

How I Feel

I won’t be credited for an article I wrote, however my friend, the PhD, could as much as I have, written the article with even more depth and meat.

I will be listed beneath the article as a contributing author, which is fine because this won’t be the first or last time I decide to write. It is something I like to do.

The next time I submit to this blog, I’d be better acquainted with their procedure and requirements; hopefully be in a place that saves me this many loop holes.

Who knows what opportunities or engagements I could gain from this one article going out?

I replied with these thoughts in mind, they could go ahead and publish listing my friend as the author and I as a contributing author. It works. Did I sell my birth rights? Mirroring my personal story with what is going on now, I’d say tenacity, patiently going through the process, pursuing perspective and not rushing results or an outcome is the attitude that I personally think would help everyone keep sane in this trying time.

China was in lockdown for nine weeks. That equals two months and a week. We just started. Trump needs to calm down.

A Note to the First Adult Apartment

I should’ve time travelled to the month of March to tell the first adult apartment that there would come a time in 2020, when we’d sit staring at each other for an indefinite amount of time. An indefinite amount of time that would make the dog no longer wag his tail when he saw me because his attitude had now shifted from enthusiastic to indifferent. And quite expected because whoever expressed happiness when boredom had chocked, overwhelmed and drowned us? I should’ve mentioned that my actual Fear of Having Missed Out during the 2019 Year Of Return would probably happen again in 2020 because no matter how much man proposes God still disposes regardless of how we feel. I should’ve seen into the future and told the renter that her needless urge to lay out the overemphasized fact that the neighbors are very chill was a lie and that the neighbors were in fact slightly hard to live with. The wife spoke way too much and the kids I guess like many other children in the world were hyperactive. Or maybe plain crazy. Nearly wild. I didn’t mind the adults running up and down like crazy bunnies in the stair well. I just hope presently that they would stop frying whatever it is they fry at no other time than 11pm. The smell of hot oil or food is hard to sleep through. Or maybe this was a daily routine I was only just noticing because we were all home just staying home away from Corona.

Published by Efua R. Armstrong

Efua is from Ghana and is interested in society and culture as well as conversations on gender and sexuality. While sitting through a speech by a professor at Kenyon College, I agreed with the idea that the limitations of the human mind aren't necessarily burdens but gifts! I couldn't agree more! I am curious and love to process and reexamine information. I also have absolutely no restraints in admitting that I don't have all the answers or that I am still thinking about something! Go ahead and leave me a message!

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