I woke up this morning at 09:30, very late for me normally, and spent my time on discord until noon.
At 12:39, I received a call from the student health center.
My results came back, and I tested negative. I could go back to my room. I now had to pack my shit again and head into the same bus.
Yay, I'm not sick!
It's funny how life works. My entry yesterday – my mindset, really – was building up to this indeterminate period of complete isolation. Lots of fear, lots of confusion, lots of uncertainty. Then I get cleared, and all that buildup is for not.
It's a little anticlimactic for sure. But that's just the way things work. And honestly, it's better that way. I'm glad that I'm safe and sound, and that I can resume my life without fear of accidentally harming others. If it makes a shitty novel, I don't care.
That's another thing about life. When I was younger, I felt that my whole life was just one big narrative story that I get to write. Each day is a new adventure, blah blah blah kid's spirit blah blah rose tinted glasses nostalgia blah blah. You've probably heard all that stuff before, and know it personally.
Point is, recent events in my life have made me feel empty. Feel like I'm not doing what I should with me life. I wake in the morning and don't care what the day could bring me, I just live. I've always shunned that mindset that I feel a lot of people go through life with. I want every day to be a new adventure.
Well, I suppose today has been a new adventure of sorts.
At 16:50, just as I was going to work on my PCR mini-essay, I look at my phone and see an email in my inbox..
It's from my genetics teacher. I won the raffle.
>Last week, my genetics teacher started a raffle to see who would win his custom designed t-shirt. The requirement to enter was simple: correctly guess who was the namesake of the unit of genetic distance, the centimorgan (Thomas Hunt Morgan). I entered just for gits and shiggles; I didn't really care if I got the t-shirt or not.
That didn't matter though, because the magical hand of fate decided I really needed another t-shirt in my mostly collared shirt catalog.
As the clock ticked closer to 18:30, my anticipated departure time, I became consumed with an overwhelming sense of anxiety. I could feel butterflies in my mouth – not in my stomach, no, they yeeted themselves up my GI and out of my mastication machine. I don't know why I was so anxious – I didn't know in the moment, and I still don't know – but it further consumed me with each minute. It's like I didn't want to leave where I was. Did I unconsciously feel safe there? Was I too afraid to leave? Was my body just tired of the stress from the first move?
I tried easing the anxiety by watching Clone High.
It worked for about all of 45 seconds after the episode ended. Then the butterflies decided to continue their great exodus out of der Mund des weißen Trottels. I continued packing my belongings, and by 18:10 I was moving them in front of the elevator. I entered the elevator and pressed the button for my desired floor.
I pressed it again. Nothing. No response.
I pulled out my phone, began dialing the front desk.
"Hello, this is the ██████ front desk."
"Hello yes I-I'm on the elevator and I need it to go to th-
Wait, is the elevator moving?
I looked at the floor indicator – it was moving upwards.
My heart shot out of my throat.
Oh God. OH GOD OH GOD OH GOD NO NO NO NO PLEASE DON’T GO UP NO PLEASE STOP PLEASE NO PLEASE GOD NO PL-
"So you need it sent to the tenth floor?"
"NO I NEED IT TO GO DOWN AAAA"
I was freaking out trying to get the elevator to the desired floor, as it kept going from floor to floor seemingly at random. When it went to the top floor, I screamed "DON'T GET ON PLEASE", despite their being tape blocking them from entering the elevator. I had no idea whether or not these people had the virus. I wanted to be as far away from other human beings as possible at the present moment.
Nevertheless, I stopped spazzing out, and the woman over the phone helped me get to my desired floor. I started taking my bags out of the shaft, then freaked out when I saw two women approaching the shaft. It was 16:21 when all of this unfolded. Now all I had to do was wait.
It was 16:48 when the car arrived. I was visibly miffed – even more so when I saw there was someone else in the car being brought in for quarantine. The driver sanitized the trunk, and I loaded up my belongings into the car. The woman that was being dropped off wasn't as lucky though – her room key wasn't present when she arrived. I can't imagine going through all that stress and fear only to have the one thing you're promised be absent from your grasp. I hope things resolved for her.
The drive back seemed much shorter than it was yesterday. The same driver from yesterday took me back to the room, though he was much more convivial. We went to my dorm, and as I unloaded my stuff I overheard him on the phone speaking French. Apparently that wasn't a Nigerian accent I was hearing, but a Haitian Creole one. Knowing where I am, I should've figured, but the mind is a feeble thing.
The rest of the evening went by without a hitch. I got dinner, called my mom, did my laundry, and assembled this way-to-long daily summary.
I suppose if there's anything to take away from today, it's that sometimes the script life gives you is better than whatever you plotted for yourself. I am once again destroying my sleep cycle by writing this at 23:19, and will probably publish this the following morning so Neocities updates properly.
Author's note: I'm formatting the site at 08:04 the next morning. I rather fancy doing this in the morning than in the dead of night.
Today has been, perhaps, one of the strangest days of my life.
I woke the same as I have for the past week. Alarm goes off at 7:00. Check emails on my phone. Tell my professor he sent one to the wrong class. Get on Discord and see what the lads are doing. Another Henry stickman meme, heh. I go on my phone and fill out my daily symptom checker.
PLEASE STAY HOME
Huh, haven’t seen that before.
>My University makes all residential students take a "daily symptom checker" as a measure to monitor the health of the residents.
Last Friday I noticed my throat started feeling a little sore, and became especially aggravated while working.
The aggravation eventually colluded with sinus congestion and feelings of an inner ear infection as the days went by. Still feeling off on Sunday, I took 15 minutes of my time during work to schedule a PCR test for 11:45 Monday morning.
I took note of my symptoms, and was told to self-isolate by the form.
PLEASE STAY HOME
I felt perturbed about it. Distressed. I decided to stay in the room that morning until I met up with my mom. She drove over to drop off the last of my belongings that I left at home. Afterwards, she dropped me off at the PCR testing site. It was in a secluded, heavily monitored part of a church. It honestly looked too sterile inside to belong to a church, but that's not what concerned me then. I went in, swabbed my nostrils, and went out. Five minutes.
My mother and I then went shopping for groceries, though I slinked through the store in an overly cautious manner.
We then headed our separate ways, and I went back to the room. There I did my usual Monday morning work. German homework, looking at memes, procrastinating.
Then, at quarter after four, I noticed there was a missed call on my phone.
"12:39 - [UNIVERSITY] Student Health Center".
I immediately redialed the number and tried to get ahold of whoever called me. They then called me back a few minutes later, saying they were returning a call I made that morning.
I had completely forgotten I made that call. After I got my symptom check results, I thought I would let the health center know about my symptoms and see if they could give me insight.
That didn't turn out as planned.
Deciding not to waste their time, I told them that I took the PCR test and my list of symptoms.
The nurse over the phone told me that I needed to pack my shit and get quarantined off-campus.
She verified that because I was sick in the slightest, I needed to be escorted off campus for the safety of everyone else.
No, no. That's extreme. That's ridiculous. My test results aren't even back yet! This isn't covid. This can't be covid. I have a runny nose, sore ears, and a sore throat. I haven't ran a fever in months.
Even as I write this, my temperature reads 97.8.
My breathing isn't labored… wait, wasn't it a bit hard wearing that mask on Sunday?
No, that's just from exhaustion. From working in the sun.
It's just an upper respiratory infection.
It's just a cold.
It can't be covid… it can't be…
…I don't think it is. I hope it isn't.
Well, even if it's not covid, it's still probably a bug of sorts.
I mean, if I stay here, I'm still putting others at risk of something.
After a minute of failed bargaining, both with myself and with the nurse over the phone, I accepted my fate and arranged to get picked up at 7pm – 19:00 EST. I would've left earlier if I didn't have a class at 5:05 to virtually attend.
It was now 4:25. I had approximately 40 minutes to pack as much shit as I think I would need for, at most, 10 days of being trapped in an unknown room, of unknown quality, at some hotel I'd never heard of, not even being able to choose my own meals or do my laundry until Wednesday.
And the worst part is: how am I going to break this to my roommate? He has to quarantine, too!
So, I did what I always do under times of great stress: I played some George Harrison.
I thought "Hari's on Tour" would be great music for frantic packing. It worked really well, actually. I packed 10 days worth of clothing, about 4 books, all of my class binders, and my bathroom supplies into about 3 bags and a laundry basket.
That's a lot of luggage!
I then sat in my chair for the last time that day and attended my 5:05-6:20 virtual course: Genetics and Genomics. Taught by the same guy that sent me an email by accident this morning. He's a really neat guy, and is one of four human beings I have ever seen unironically wear a fedora (outside of myself). But that's a story for another time. I was so preoccupied with my situation that I remember practically nothing from the lecture. Something about junk DNA and mitochondria and splicing or something the same.
When that wrapped itself up, I put on my mask and gloves, and went downstairs to borrow a cart to put all my shit in. I called my mom about the isolation, and she was not happy to say the least. She shared many of my same concerns – being in a building with other confirmed cases, not knowing where the hell I was, not being able to leave an all-but familiar room for (possibly) weeks – but things turned better when she looked up where I was going.
I then loaded up my cart, went downstairs (avoiding as many people as possible), donning my new favorite brown fedora, and waited outside to get picked up.
I was informed that I was going to be called when my driver would arrive.
At 18:56, a white minivan with my University's branding on it pulled up. No phone call. A man with a Nigerian accent walked out of the van and opened the trunk of the car. When I asked, he said he wasn't told to call me before arrival. I became incredibly weary about the situation, but continued to load my luggage and myself into the van. There were transparent dividers installed into the van, as to separate me from the driver, but nothing else PPE wise aside from us wearing masks.
Thoughts raced through my head as the van left the University.
Who is this man?
Am I in the right car?
What if this is just some guy trying to jump me and steal my shit?
I could see his phone from over his shoulder – no, he had a text with my full name on it.
If this is a con artist, then they're doing next level shit.
In hindsight, those are some pretty funny thoughts. I mean, come on, why would you want to jack a possibly COVID-positive person and leave them to die?
But in the moment, my mind kept racing on-and-off.
I watched the streets we drove by, mentally keeping note of some intersections.
There was R and B music playing. It was kind of a nice change of pace – It's been a long time since I've heard any R and B, and my diet of largely Anglophonic alternative rock/prog rock/grunge/house has been getting a little stale.
After about 10 minutes, we arrived at the hotel I was being housed at. I didn't get a good look at the place before riding in, and my anxiety spiked once again when I thought he was driving into a car dealership. But we arrived to the designated quarantine entrance floor without a hitch. I unpacked my stuff, called the lobby to send up an elevator, and then went to my room.
As soon as I approached my room, I could hear the person in the room over blaring whatever shit makes up the billboard 500 – which, mind you, they have been doing on-and-off the entire evening in 20-40 minute intervals – and reignited whatever stress left my body when I entered the floor.
Nevertheless, I entered the room on my keycard. It's a very nice room – clean water, basic cable, a desk, Queen-sized bed, even a recreational sitting chair! Nothing else I could really ask for. I was afraid I was going to end up in some roach motel room or modified prison quarters, but knowing the rate at which my University cums money I should've known better.
I unloaded some of my belongings and began eating my courtesy dinner – cold pasta and a brownie. I hadn’t eaten a full meal all day, so I ate it and didn't care. Then I opened up my computer and checked up on what happened today.
It is currently 23:21 as I write this 1,799 word summary of my strange day (23:51 as I finish formatting it to the site). I highly suspect what I have is nothing more than a head cold, but if my University wants me to stay here until my results come back, then so be it.
I'm missing out on work and being able to see my professors in person, sure. But I'll get to see this situation from a different perspective. I emailed my roommate about me going back to the room, and he's informed me that they're confining him to our room until I'm cleared. I feel bad for him. Imagine if you were forced to stay in your room because your homebody, shrewish roommate had a sore throat and dropped this onto you with a handful of hour's notice.
I owe him a full apology whenever I get out of this predicament.
Perhaps I should take this confinement as a second chance. I spent most of my summer indoors due to the [prevailing circumstances]. I had high hopes for this summer – finishing the Mahābhārata, working on my website, doing research projects, etc. All I really did was increase my ████████ rate and destroy my sleep schedule.
Now, I'm in a similar situation. I have less resources to my disposal, but they're more clearly defined ones. I brought three books on Genetics with me, and a book on Hindu Myths. I think now would be a good time to get to grind out my homework, get ahead, and even get some side projects done.
That's the reason why I made this overly-long journal entry. I finally have something to put on my website. Something to catalog my mental state. Something to get me going in the morning besides following a set routine.
I don’t know how many posts like this will follow. I can only hope that they'll exist, period.