Scribble #22: Basket Case

“Do you have the time to listen to me whine”

After multiple vaccinations and even getting COVID-19 in 2020 before vaccines were available, I am once again isolating after a positive COVID-19 test. With exams coming up and less than 20 days before I move home for the summer, this has come at a very stressful time. On top of all of that, most of today was spent packing for and moving to my five day “vacation” at Northwood Apartments.

“About nothing and everything all at once?”

Hopefully I’ll be able to make a quick and full recovery and be back in my Ann Arbor home as soon as possible – I’m sure I’ll update you next Wednesday. Until then, it’ll be a whole lot of studying, doing homework, going on walks and runs, playing guitar, drawing, and watching YouTube. Forced, mandatory self-care time with a side of loneliness and stress. 

“I am one of those melodramatic fools…”

This is making me even more grateful for everything – and everyone – I have here. My friends are constantly checking in on me, offering to bring me anything I need, and asking to video chat with me to help pass the time. It’s only been a day in isolation housing, but I already feel so much love and support from my friends here. I might be isolating, but I am definitely not alone.

“Grasping to control, so I better hold on!”

Listen to Basket Case by Green Day here:

How Lucky You Are

Seniors mourn their cancelled celebrations. People grieve over ill or lost loved ones. Many are unemployed and face hardships even after all of this is over. It’s true that the future is uncertain, which is why it’s important that you allow yourself to grieve. Allow yourself to be angry, frightened, or sad. Allow yourself to be concerned about your health, your job, and the economy. But also allow yourself to heal.

I turn to a song featured in the musical called SeussicalSeussical, created by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, is based on a variety of children’s books of Dr. Seuss. Having performed it during my senior year of high school, I will forever be biased towards this zany show; however, as much criticism as the musical gets, it’s undeniably a good time for performers and audience members alike. In all its wackiness, Seussical also projects positive themes and messages for all. One such message is found within a song that hits home right now titled “How Lucky You Are.”

How Lucky You Are

When the news is all bad
When you’re sour and blue
When you start to get mad
You should do what I do

Tell yourself
How lucky you are

When your life’s going wrong
When the fates are unkind
When you’re limping along
And get kicked from behind
Tell yourself how lucky you are

Why decry a cloudy sky
An empty purse
A crazy universe?
My philosophy is simply
Things could be worse!

So be happy you’re here
Think of life as a thrill
And if worse comes to worse
And we all know it will
Thank your lucky star
You’ve gotten this far
And tell yourself how lucky you are
How lucky, how lucky, how lucky, how lucky, how lucky, how lucky you are!

In the musical, “How Lucky You Are” takes place as the Whos’ clover—with all of them on it, of course—is dangerously soaring through the air. The Cat in the Hat, who acts as the musical’s narrator, freezes the action and sings ironic lyrics about how “things could be worse.”

Much like the Whos and their clover, the current epidemic and situation surrounding it can feel like a free-fall. Our world has been rocked, with many things we previously viewed as stable no longer being as solid. Our loss of our sense of security and social connections provide an even greater need for those connections, as we need a way to bear witness and communicate what’s happening around us.

In addition to educating yourself about the virus and following the instructions to stay at home, try to find new ways to adjust and move forward. I challenge you to acknowledge the grief you’re feeling, but to also know it’s okay to smile. During challenging times such as these, it seems impossible—or even wrong—to have fun and be joyful; however, being open to finding happiness in the mundane is important. Fear and anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming, but healthily coping with stress can help make you and your community stronger. Gratitude and empathy can help us connect with one another and conquer these difficult times with grace. With that, I hope you stay safe and “tell yourself how lucky you are.”

Marge Makes Comics #26: Like Genuine Despair

Hey guys. The recent developments on and off campus regarding COVID-19 have been tearing me apart lately. I’m scared for my family and friends and I’m torn between feeling lucky and grateful that I can go back home to be with my family and angry and devastated for my friends, for my classmates, for the world, for myself. Taking the time to mourn lost time is important. Take time and take action. Stay safe out there, be kind and be careful.

The Media and Xenophobia: COVID-19 Edition

On March 1st, a tweet by the New York Post stated, “First case of coronavirus confirmed in Manhattan”, followed by a link to the article. The attached picture, however, was a photo of an Asian man in Flushing, Queens. While the caption was referring to the case of a middle-aged woman who had contracted the virus while traveling in Iran, the misleading thumbnail was an example of bias in the media and the perpetuation of racist stereotypes.

In the past few weeks, social media has been flooded with myths, memes, and warnings about COVID-19. Among these antics are tweets relaying incidents of racism, narratives by victims of xenophobia, and plenty of “reputable” sources exacerbating the creation of racial or ethnic connotations. There’s not only an outbreak of the virus, but of racism.

Fear, unsurprisingly, can make people do strange things. Across the U.S., stores are selling out of items such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Besides shortages and a spike in delivery services, anxiety about the virus is also bringing out racist underpinnings, and the result is not pretty. Text, images, and videos on various social media outlets portray discriminatory rhetoric and behavior against certain Asian identities, specifically those of Chinese descent. Reports include “No Chinese” signs outside of businesses in other countries, incidents of harassment in public areas such as subways, and tremendous losses by local Chinese restaurants due to lack of patronage. Luckily, there’s been an insurgence of people and online comments calling out the discriminatory behavior, but the problem still stands, especially when news outlets pander to rumors and xenophobic stereotypes.

During times of crisis like the current COVID-19 epidemic, it’s easy for fear to play into “legitimizing” discrimination against “outsiders” perceived as potential threats. While looking out for one’s own families, communities, and nation can be a good thing, what’s not a good thing is the exclusion or detriment of others. Relying on a sense of white nationalism won’t fix a global crisis, nor the spread of COVID-19 in our own country. By referring to the epidemic as a disease brought by dangerous foreigners, we create a metaphor for invasion; yet, however much we label the virus as an external menace, the truth is that it’s now within our own borders.

As the outbreaks continue to spread, so do panic, politics, and tension. While examining the details regarding the first COVID-19 diagnoses in Wuhan, China, it’s important to separate the facts from personal biases. This isn’t an argument on the origin of the virus, but rather an acceptance of the danger that comes with attaching certain identities to the virus. Racial undertones both demonize and detract the biological facts of the virus. By being sensationalist, the media is perpetuating a false image of the virus, thus causing people to be misinformed and antagonistic towards each other.

As someone who is immunocompromised and struggles to battle even simple colds or infections, I understand your fear of the virus and the unknown; however, as an Asian-American—or simply someone with a sense of humanity—I urge you to be aware and refrain from channeling fear into racism. The enemy is a virus, not the Asians that are being used as scapegoats. Rather than letting your fears and other emotions get the best of you, try your best to gather evolving information about the virus from a credible source. And, as always, wash your hands.