g r a d u a t e d. 🎓✨

So 6 days ago I graduated from The Undergrad Experience™.

Today marks the 60-something day I’ve spent in my smol apartment quarantine.

I was blessed with clear skies and a friend with great artistry to help me document the moment in my grad regalia on a barren campus in 49 degree weather. She captured what felt like an hour of “normalcy” — normal grad pics, normal “culminating hoorah”. The bursting forth of joy for all of the love for the people, places, and experiences I’ve been so lucky to have for the past 4 years.

As I watch us all having our own celebrations… at home, with family, virtually… it’s hard not to be filled with a gratitude that extends beyond the normal huzzah hurray pomp n circumstance that comes with this rite-of-passage kind of ceremonial time.

My youngest brother is also graduating high school and I can’t imagine how hard this is. For people in these shoes who had planned for things to go a certain way, only to have the red carpet kind of yanked out from under them. But the joy and resilience and comfort and closeness that this time has brought us… I think, is, in a way, a grad gift of its own.

Not many will be able to tell their future offspring that, during a worldwide pandemic, they graduated anyway. Not many will be able to say that, despite this mass migration to online learning in classrooms over Zoom and WebEx that feel so foreign and cold and exhausting [esp. when you have one after the other!] but yet oddly comforting as you see the faces of others going through it like you… that you did it anyways.

The days feel like mini rollercoasters, blending together in a rush that feels like a lifetime but also a few minutes– some days are better than others, more creative than others, more positive than others.

And some are days where you just want to roll up in a ball and not do anything but binge watch your favorite series on Netflix for all 8 hours you’re awake.

Taking time to write down and document the present moment helps. Taking time to look around at all the *new* things, the new concepts and ways of life, the habits that you’ve come to cultivate, the practice you’ve had at giving yourself the time and space to actually heal with good habits, with a focus towards turning in & tuning in to what’s really going on.

This time has been a gift, and continues to be so— even as people throw around talk of “returning to normal” or “re-opening”– we’ve spent so much time re-doing, re-learning, re-imagining… I don’t think it will ever truly go “back to normal”. Which is a blessing, I think. So much of all this has transformed the way we think about public health, about the Internet [as a FRICKING UTLITY!], about our work-life balance, about how we treat eachother, how we “show up” for one another even if we can’t do it physically.

I think all of us graduated this year.
We’ve graduated from our old lives.

We’re walking across a stage that’s intimidating and scary with the fear of stumbling.

But we’re walking towards something greater than ourselves.

xx

we did it (:

the quarantine diaries: day 38 // the tassle hassle

So my cap n gown arrived in the mail today.

There’s only 17 days left til “g r a d u a t i o n” |-,: There’s so much left to do and the day seems to be shrinking instead of getting longer and this time by myself really E X P L O I T s my time management weaknesses (((-:

But alas. Patience. Patience with myself. I need to be reminded to have patience with myself.

I basically worked all day today but landed a summer job (????) with a good starting salary all things considering??? Thank the Lord [literally, it’s a church job.]

Annnd not a single ice cream sandwich was had
Until now [I’ve been trying to restrain myself– they’re now a staple of my every day life, along with Gilmore Girls and it’s associated late 2000’s revamp.]

What a time to be alive.

the quarantine diaries: day 22 // a palm sunday

“therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

MARK 10:9


Palm Sunday.

It’s wild to think about perhaps the “Lent-iest Lent” we’ve ever had…

Government mandates that we stay home, stay inside.For many (myself included), it’s been a refreshing opportunity to slow down…to reflect, to turn inward… which has been…difficult, revealing, frustrating, revolutionary, rejuvenating, and eye-opening…

And as I think about all the pockets of joy that exist in the liturgy before holy week, a rollercoaster of grief, change, transformation & ultimately resurrection, I think about this verse, and where we are. Where we physically are.

We’re separated from family and friends.Easter is not cancelled, but the “normal” day, which we’ve come to expect and anticipate through the years, the day of joy and brass band, triumphant hymns, glowing pastels, flowers, flowing dresses and kids running around after eggs on a lawn will (fortunately, for the health and sake of others) not be as it was in past years.

But this is a lovely reminder, a bold statement of solidarity— that the Church, (with a capital C), the nation of fierce love and faith and joy embodied by a people that can’t be fit (6ft apart or otherwise) simply into walls or defined by the physical presence of altars, pews, & kneelers, c a n n o t be broken by physical distance.Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate, worldwide pandemic or otherwise.

Watching a sermon from my home church’s online service today, this bit stood out to me: “Life isn’t happening to us. It’s happening FOR us.”
The lens through which we view everything is so important. Using this time as opportunities to be and share love with others, to grow & connect with others is something I feel like we don’t have enough of.

What time like the present?

There’s a palm on my door today, an open spot in my DMs, and a virtual hug here for you.

Stay safe friends ♥️🌿♥️


the quarantine diaries: day 18 // whipped joy

In between the hiding behind my computer screen lectures and assignments, work and projects… It feels like all the days blend together and it is up to *me* to make them interesting! Which is both an amazing and…interesting concept.

So. I saw this recipe for Dalgona coffee (or whipped coffee) on the Internet and put it in the back of my mind to try out the next time I was making my daily coffee.

It was super easy and super fun to make. I only needed:

– 2 tbsp instant coffee
– 2 tbsp HOT water
– 2 tbsp of white granulated sugar or brown sugar [I liked using 1 tbsp of each]

And then?

1. I whisked vigorously by hand 🙋‍♀️[i did it with a rubber whisk, you could use a mixer if you had one] until light brown & frothy— when you dip your whisk/mixing blades in, it should form stiff peaks.]

2. I poured the mixture over an *aesthetic* glass of cold milk [almond milk / coconut milk works too!] and the whipped coffee, if whipped thoroughly, should float delicately on top.

3. I stirred it together and it was lovely, and slightly diluted & not as strong.

o o o h pretty

And I noticed something.

By bringing forth this lil cup of frothy caffeine into existence, something I’d never done before, it was just a little slice of joy for me. A tiny joyful distraction from the pressures and unknowing of this time.

A small reminder that creating joy daily is possible, that it’s more important than ever, and that this time, while complicated and busy in weird ways, is using us. It’s using me. And we’re using it. We *get* to use it.

To move, to breathe, create, to rest, to recharge, to connect.

xx

the quarantine diaries: day 15 // birthday edition

Years from now I’ll be able to tell my kids or the kids of my friends about this…weird time.

The time I wrapped a string of green christmas lights around a one of our living room lamps and cut out palm tree leaves to tape around the lampshade.

The time I baked my own cake to look like a sunset, dressed with “sunflowers” of pineapple and maraschino cherries, adorned with black script proclaiming my aging.

The time my roomies and I sat 6ft apart from eachother in our pitifully tiny “backyard” and “patio”, with the speakers blaring, enjoying tropical drinks within our #doomsdayluau themed festivities.

The time we recreated a picture of ourselves for three semesters in a row because we’re cheesy and dig continuity.

The time we made jello shots in a baking pan, and proceeded to cut them up like brownies and serve in individual bowls to make sure that nothing & and no one was unnecessarily touching each other.

The time we turned the aggressive news cycle off to live, breathe, and laugh in the same space– to temporarily shift the collective sadness at a senior year pulled out from under our feet, to the back of our minds as we smashed each other in continuous games of Quiplash

The time we connected creatively, separate yet together.

the quarantine diaries: day 7 re-framing "social distancing"

Ever since COVID-19 hijacked the news cycle, our lives, and our daily conversations (is it novelty? Is it a giant, shared relief that we all have this collective, deeply felt human struggle now…?), the words “social distancing” , “self-isolation”, and “self-quarantine” (chiefly “social distance” and “quarantine”) have been thrown about, splattered among headlines, and prescribed by the experts. It was a very real concern, the way to flatten the curve, the surest way to a quick return to normalcy.

And so we throw the words around in our Instagram posts, our daily fitness live-streams, our virtual family reunions, perhaps unaware of the weight they carry. I saw some others point this out, though, and wanted to look at it myself.

“Social-ness”, is intrinsic to being human.
Merriam Webster has the word tied to our institutions, our society, and our ability to be in relationship with others:

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There is scant, if at all, mention of space. Of distance.
Rather, it’s about welfare, relationship, organization… mutual benefit, even. In times like these, as we watch the workforce crumble, our institutions come to a screeching halt, our lives uprooted, and our capacity for solitude stretched and tested– it’s these things that remain paramount: welfare, relationship, organization, & mutual benefit.

I came across 3 alternatives, 3 suggested replacements for the term “social distancing” (which has, seemingly invaded our cultural lexicon and shot to the top of Google searches overnight), and hope that we can use them to more accurately label our situation and what we hope to achieve; that is, to cling to that relationship and caring and interaction and mutual benefit that is so distinctly human, if only from a distance:

Physical distancing: Straightforward and literal. Physical knocks out the societal ramification and narrows it down to your kinetic sphere– your body, where it’s placed, in comparison to others. The CDC recommends six feet of distance between you and someone else.

Holy space: Encroaching into theological soothing territory. My campus minister held a virtual service today, where she talked about how it’s wild that this pandemic and all of its massive changes are happening during the season of Lent…how it’s a time of “holy pause”, and that “…if you haven’t chosen a lenten discipline, that’s okay because maybe it’s been thrust upon you” [lol]. How it’s a time of “fasting from being strong… at time of vulnerability and tenderness” and a time of “softness for the soul” as we “fast from anxiety…with radical trust in Jesus Christ, with abundance of the heart rather than the scarcity of the things.”

And then, there’s my personal favorite as of now:

Distant socializing: Again, emphasis on physical distance. We. Are. So. Fortunate to have all of this technology that enables us to get face time with our friends and relatives. I was on a FaceTime not so long ago with one of my friends and…I could just feel my mood improve, and my anxiety kind of dull to a low hum. ^___^

Staying connected is everything right now, and I hope these alternatives are something we can sub out for what the media has fed us ✌️



the quarantine diaries: day 6: COVID-19 and online learning.

The day is boneless. No bones, no structure. I have to fill it in myself. I oscillate between my to-do list and talking to my refrigerator (…I wish I were kidding. We’ll skip the part about filming embarrassing short film dry erase stop-motion animation on the smooth fridge surface).

I didn’t realize just how many emails landed in my inbox until I was not distracted all day enough to notice them all come rolling in. Half of them, it seems, are university emails, asking for student input (which is great), updating us with revised schedules, or simply words of consolation as the semester seems to be singlehandedly imploding.

Professors (some of them who hate touching computers) are scrambling around feeling helpless not knowing how to best help their students, and trying to wrangle their courses into a neat, digestible package for online use.

This is wild to me, partially because now that “online learning” is thrust upon it, it doesn’t have this glowing, golden halo that a lot of people says it does. Is properly curated online learning a great way to have content without walls? Absolutely. Does it give people who are unable to travel a way to participate and learn and discuss? By all means. But it feels like, as of now, there are holes– gaps, which leave out the nuances of face to face instruction. I just saw an instagram account: @dontwasteyourcollegetuition (haHAA too late) that put out a post re: “how to stay focused in online classes”. There are a lot of vaguely good tips in there, (“create a structured schedule, be clear about deadlines, keep in contact with peers and professors on a chat/video platform”), but nothing really related to our attention spans, blotting out actual distractions, plus the effects on mental health and social relationship building.

It’s crazy to me that so many people are making this transition practically overnight…including those who don’t learn that well in an online learning environment. I am personally frustrated about this change, and while I wish it could be different, I know that this is how it has to be for a bit, and so I’m seeking a way to make peace with it. In a way, part of this process is taking it apart, looking at it and its implementation, and treating it like a learning experience, like an experiment.

And when our university (and subsequent universities) made their big announcement the decision to do this, it hit me. And since I’m trapped inside with much time to stew and speculate, I can write about this realization: this move to Online Learning relies on 2 bold assumptions:

  1. That students have access to a reliable, fast (enough) internet source while they are self-quarantining.
  2. That those in quarantine have devices capable of handling online class environments

I remember how THRILLED I was at the dawn of 2020, knowing my fam had *just* made the switch from DSL to Fios, and the upgraded speed being so much faster than it had been before… I can only imagine, had we not made the switch… relying on 1 modem to handle the bandwidth usage of the entire family, who also need to be online for school. Our system definitely would not have been able to swing that. But I know in my county back home there are those who definitely benefitted from the school’s internet connection, from the library’s internet connection, who will most likely be struggling through this time of online conversion.

Last semester, in one of the most fascinating classes I’ve ever taken, we spoke about the digital divide and the ideological battle for a free, (perhaps mildly regulated) internet. There are so many posts about how this pandemic is, in a way good, because it’s forcing us to reckon with the institutions we’ve built, the outdated systems we have in place, and “the way we’ve always done things!” And part of this is exposing the issue of people’s ability to access the Internet in a way that doesn’t make them bankrupt, or break their backs and sell their souls to tech giants and broadband moguls.

What institutions need to realize is that they are putting the spotlight on the digital divide — the gaping hole between those who have ready and ubiquitous access to the Internet, and those who don’t. This isn’t new. People’s access to the rapidly expansive internet relies, unfortunately, on education, & income, and even race & gender (a product of socioeconomic status), and even attitude concerning technological adaptation. It’s just wild to me how, every day there seems to be a part of the machine that has fallen apart, or broken in front of our eyes. It makes me wonder why we’re not building our own Internet infrastructures, being self-reliant to avoid these system-imposed boundaries and just doing it ourselves, like many successful communities have done.

Some are saying that once this is all over, everything will just go back to the way it was like nothing happened…but I hope for my life that that’s not true.
We’ve learned so much. There’s too much been unearthed now for us to turn back.

covid-19.

I’m sort of at a loss.

And this is WEIRD.

5 days ago I was leaving spring break in South Carolina in a big white van with my mission trip members with so much in my mind, so much unknown, and so much weighing on my shoulders.

…I’m now Day 4 in COVID-19 quarantine, unable & not allowed to return home, and the gravity of everything is settling in. A week ago, I don’t think we really knew what was going on, the scope of this whole thing, how important the distancing was…

Classes have been cancelled. They’re moving courses online. Graduation has been postponed until further notice (which I know has hit hard in the hearts of the ones I know who’ve spend the past 4 years looking so forward to this.

So we take time, and we process it all). Family, friends and I are having to create our own routines, avoid going crazy, fighting boredom with ingenuity, and we are still trying to wrap our minds around everything.

Professors, some of whom hate touching computers, are running around in a frenzy wondering how the heck they can help us from a distance. And everyone is just out here, doing the best they can with what they have. (Including myself. Let me know if you want my Saltine-Cheddar nacho recipe…)

I had a work call a day ago with my boss and the first 30 mins felt like a friggin therapy session, talking about how nothing is certain, that yes, I will graduate, commencement ceremony or not, and that the accomplishment is not something they can take away from you. This is all true. And she is very wise and I know that the cloud of feelings I felt during that time d e f i n i t e l y impact how I feel.

Point is, I don’t think any of us pictured it like this. My heart breaks for family and friends, medical workers, patients, & The Helpers across the nation—for their health, for their isolation, for the feeling of having closure and perhaps your “lasts” & culminating evidence of your accomplishments pulled out from under you…

But this…is our reality now. Our eyes are open. To ourselves, to others, & our society. And we get to trail-blaze, slow down, invent, laugh, make messes, and try new things…and hold on to hope in the meantime.

Some fave words I’ve seen around recently:
Faith is not cancelled.
Hope is not cancelled.
Joy is not cancelled.
Love is not cancelled.

Amidst trying to flatten the curve, this pandemic has uprooted the lives of so many.
We’re called to rest, to slowing down, to creatively problem-solve, to be with ourselves, to sit with ourselves…

And that’s not to say that we have to immediately jump into positivity or optimism right away.
I, among many, am heartbroken for those infected, for those suffering, for those who are out of work or isolated or having a tough time. We need time to process, and that is okay.

But there is freedom, I think, in this time, and in knowing that with this uncertainty comes all this space, an open door of possibilities, even if we don’t see it right away.

We have an opportunity to open up, to relax, re-examine, re-prioritize, and reevaluate the way we do things, to pray, to go within, to break free of routine, to reinvent ourselves, clean, create, and care in novel ways. I’m so thankful for all who are doing their best, helping with all that’s going on, even at the risk of their own health (stellar healthcare workers we’re looking at you!)

Some things I keep seeing and reading and trying to internalize for this time apart:
• Check in on your friends & support em!! (DM me on social media because my phone # be broken!)
• Tell them they’re loved
• Know that *you’re* loved, if even from a distance by people or your Creator
• Get creative & weird & annoying!
• Make things unabashedly & fearlessly (screw perfectionism!!)
• Be smart! Wash ur damn hands!
• Take it easy on yourself!
…Because this rollercoaster of feelings of uprootedness & isolation can be pervasive & massive, but *VALID*.

I hope everyone’s staying safe and healthy… and know I’m sending good vibes your way.

When nothing is certain, anything’s possible.
This too shall pass.🌿

♥️ much love