Corona Columns: Issue #6

Reporter Ivy Reed shares journal entries about being bored in quarantine and taking a step back to think about the surreal world we live in right now


Ella Cuneo

Reporter Ivy Reed shares some of her journal entries. Art by Ella Cuneo

Remember that Wednesday that everything kind of got worse? It was the day Tom Hanks got coronavirus, the NBA season was cancelled and Trump banned travel from Europe. For some reason those three events did some kind of stewing together overnight and the next day everyone in St. Louis seemed to be in a panic. Anyway, I started writing a journal after that, so I thought I’d share a few entries:
DAY 9: A few of my quarantine cuisine favorites:
Cake. I made this chocolate cake “for the household,” but I’m literally the only one eating it.
Breakfast tacos. I slap some refried beans on a tortilla, sprinkle cheese on top, and throw it under the broiler while I “scramble” (burn) two eggs. Then the eggs go on top of the tortilla for a comfortingly bland yet filling meal.
Subpar produce (bitter, hard to peel, mealy, sour). I know, the global pandemic pales in comparison to the citrus catastrophe going on in my fridge.
DAY 10: Last night I set an alarm for 9 a.m. in an attempt to get up and be productive. But this weird thing has been happening where I wake up clutching my phone an hour and half after my alarm supposedly went off, with no memory of getting up to stop the alarm or hit snooze. The day got progressively worse as I proceded to get every single question wrong on a driving permit practice test, lie in bed and stare at my computer for several hours, and eat cake. Well, the eating cake part was good in the moment.
DAY 11: I strategically avoided reading any section of the Sunday New York Times that would remind me of the current state of the world and kept it light and frothy with the Sunday Styles section. Then I fell back asleep and decided to make dinner when I got up because I had nothing else to do. So I found a recipe for “creamy white beans with herb oil,” which sounded promising, so I walked to Schnucks to get cannellini beans. I guess I forgot about the serious shortage of beans right now, so I had to get pinto beans instead. I also forgot that I hate beans. I think the pinto bean replacement ruined the recipe, because it ended up sort of mushy and flavorless. Oh, and it snowed this morning. That was weird.
DAY 12: This would have been our first day back at school, and I was so bored that I went for a RUN (!) today. Tomorrow I’m getting up at 7:30 a.m. to go for another run (!) in Forest Park. I’m like, a person who runs now.
DAY 13: The thing with my alarm happened so I didn’t start my run until 9. Now my legs are incredibly sore and I’ve been hobbling around the house all day. This is why I don’t work out! I finished all of Gilmore Girls season 5, even though I’ve seen every episode of every season about 10 times. There were no tomatoes in the salad at dinner. Isn’t my life thrilling?
DAY 15: I’m thinking about doing the thing where you don’t wash your hair for weeks until it starts to clean itself. I’ve gone two days without washing it so far.
DAY 16: I gave in and washed my hair. What else is there to do?
DAY 18: I was depressed all day because my dad said something about how much people are going to buy after this is all over, and then I started thinking about how everything’s going to go back to late-stage capitalist doom and the wealth will stay concentrated and the majority of the population won’t benefit from the economic system. Anyway.

I think I’m developing an unhealthy relationship with clementines

— Ivy Reed

DAY 19: I think I’m developing an unhealthy relationship with clementines. Every Monday my mom buys a huge bag of them and I’ve usually eaten them all by Wednesday.
DAY 21: Today at dinner my mom and I got into a fight because we had run out of lettuce so she made this cabbage salad (that I sort of hated). We were talking about the grocery list for the week, and I said, “Can we get lettuce for real salad?” Then my mother got mad and said it was selfish and rude to complain about the cabbage salad. So I claimed that by “real salad” I just meant conventional salad and that I loved the cabbage salad and had nothing against it. Then to prove it I had three helpings of it and now I’m really full but at least I won that argument.

DAY 25: Today I took my dog for a walk in Forest Park. I know a lot of these entries have been kind of cynical, but today I was thinking that someday when I’m old and looking back at this weird time, I won’t just remember how bored and antsy I was sitting around the house and how scary the news was. I’ll also remember how we stayed at home and stopped buying things we didn’t need in excess, and how the normal world order was disrupted and everything felt different. I know I come from a position of privilege to be able to say this, because I’m not worried about my parents losing their jobs or my family not having a steady income. But I hope one day I remember how the park was still and cold and empty, and how I let the dog off the leash and we ran through the empty damp fields before he flopped his wiggling furry body down in the thick spring grass that went unmowed. How for once Art Hill was completely empty, and how we sat and looked out at the great green slope under a cool grey sky, quiet except for the rush of fountains that kept running while the world stood still around them.