The Covid Diaries, excerpts from the class

Updated: May 29

Students' Diaries from the past few months.

Eddie in Mexico: As part of this sensorial ethnography I wrote a poem of one of my mornings taking part of my activity, [bike riding with mom to the nearby lake during quarantine]. I was focusing on all senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste.

Cool Spring mornings, clear sky.

Empty streets, a city barely awake

Early risers going to work, passing by

In sight, the lake


Yeast and flour in the air

Sourdough bread rises with the sun

A couple of strays keenly aware

The feast has begun


Footsteps, chain-links and the wind

Drowning my ears

Reflecting on mankind

A group of honking geese appears


Sweat streaks down my face

Stiff handlebars and shaking legs

The stray Pancake licks my hand apace

Softly bites me, "more kibble" he begs


Salt and water are the only quencher

Mosquitoes are not as tasty as they say

Without some conflict there is no adventure

Wouldn't have wish for a better birthday

Laiana: I live in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico; a town to the west coast of the island that is home to the second largest campus of the University of Puerto Rico, where I graduated from BA in Psychology. I’ve lived here since 2015. At the start of this year, I moved in with my boyfriend, we’d been dating for almost a year. Pandemic life for me has been mostly being with him without the usual restrictions of everyday routines and classes. I’m including here an excerpt from my journal about pandemic life from April 25th-27th:

Friday Morning– Me and my boyfriend wake up when our eyes tell us to, there are no alarm clocks, no where we need to go. This weekend we've decided to stay with my mom because she often gets lonely during these times of pandemic. My boyfriend always wakes up before me; he catches up on shows I don't watch while I'm still asleep. When I wake up, I find him watching one in the living room. My routine every morning is the same, I must go to the bathroom and wash up before anything else: wash my face and teeth. I come out and he has stopped the TV, we begin making coffee and breakfast. He gets going on the food while I grab the things necessary for the coffee: find the coffee grounds in a top shelf, fill the cup with water, transfer it to the coffee machine, place the grounds and turn it on. As the coffee starts to make, I grab our mugs, pour the sugar and start warming milk for my boyfriend's (Carlo's) cup. We begin to talk about something or other. Yesterday we'd been able to have some friends over whom we hadn't seen in over a month, they'd been quarantining for weeks now. We were able to play some board games together before the curfew. Carlos and me talked about how nice it was. When breakfast was ready, we sat in front of the TV and put something on. After we finished eating we stayed a while longer watching New Girl, its an easy comedy to watch and requires minimum concentration. After a couple of episodes it was time to get up and clean up. We also had to start packing to go to my mom's. We think about packing food, when we are with het we probably won't be able to go food shopping. Food shopping has turned into an "all–day" ordeal involving a lot of lines.

Saturday– My birthday was a month ago, right when the quarantine began. Carlos was a little annoyed that everything he planned for my birthday got cancelled because of the quarantine. He finally found a way to get one of the gifts but it was at the Best Buy in Bayamon (which is a town about an hour and half from my mom's). Today, we would go to pick it up. The store is closed but orders can be made online or by phone and arranged for curb side pick up. My mom comes along with us since we were staying with her. When we arrive at Bayamon, Carlo's family lives near by so we decide to pay them all a quick visit; everyone is been pretty closed up for a long time now. This is the first time I meet Carlo's grandparents, they have been alone since the quarantine began. They are also meeting my mom. Everything has turned into an accidental family reunion. We also visit Carlo's parents whom I'd met before. This time, my mom is meeting them. When we get to Best Buy, there are strict instructions to pick up orders. We are told to stay in our cars and drive past a tent. The employee indicates that everyone in the car needs to be wearing a mask in order for him to approach. We all put our masks on. The employee approaches the car with a clipboard and asks for the order information. We are then given a parking number and told to park. Another employee asks for an ID. We show it to them, they do not grab it, but glance at it from a distance. After a few minutes another employee appears and signals us to open the back of the car. Once we do, they place the order and close the back. We are told we can leave. Carlos bought me a Nintendo Switch, which I had wanted for a long time but specially now so we could play together while we were stick at home.

Sunday– Today I woke up late and spent the entire day studying and getting everything ready for the end of the week deadline. Mom made us grilled cheese and French fries for breakfast. I heated some leftovers for lunch. At 6m Carlos and I went walking with mom.

Sensorial Reflections:

Life in COVID-19 times is much slower than life before the pandemic. The rhythm of general life is slower. I usually wake up without an alarm clock and everyday that waking up time gets slower and slower. My mornings usually smell like coffee and sautéed onions (for scrambled eggs). I think that life is filled with the smell of home cooking a lot more since the pandemic began. Eating out was almost non–existent a few weeks ago. Starting last week, places began to be open again and we've been able to order and pick up food a couple of times. Most of the time, we are cooking at home and trying new recipes. The other day, my boyfriend and I ventured to make what is called in Puerto Rico as an "asopao". An asopao is like a soup with corn, meat and other starches. Because we are vegetarian we made it without the meat. It smelled and tasted delicious. The other day we also ventured to make homemade pizza sauce so we could make pizza at home. I think the fact that we don't have to leave the house to always be somewhere saves us from the traffic that we usually encountered outside and consequently saves us a lot of time. Maybe the experience of living at a slower pace and having a lot more time correlates with the fact that we use the car a lot less. Our lives are ruled by things like “masks”, “6–feet”, “quarantine”, “curfew”. If there is anything that must be done outside we have to plan to get it done strictly within the hours allowed.

Debbie: PRELUDE: First, these interviews with my grandson were started because my daughter has three children now at home not going to school or preschool or daycare. The

middle child, whose name is Colin, (not his real name), is 6 and having a hard time with

schooling online. He seems to be quite a genius in math, but absolutely is having major

tantrums about lettering, reading and writing and my daughter doesn’t have as much

time as before to tutor him. So, I told her to have him FaceTime me and I would try to

virtually “play” and “teach” him. So, the first day, when I heard he had a really stressful

day, I had called him (on his Mom’s iPhone with her permission). My voice is in italics.

Hi Colin, what are you doing? Not much, it’s raining. Well, do you want me to show you

my silly cats? Ok, yeah.

So, I talk to him while walking down my hallway to find the cats, one scurries away but the other one I just follow into the den and it rubs its cheek on a toy truck in passing to its favorite sunbathing area behind the curtain. We follow. Colin says, wow, I bet that cat likes to play with that toy? What toy? The back loader truck! Oh, ok, yeah, maybe it does!

And then he takes his phone and gets up from the couch and goes to his den and shows me his trucks one by one. He tells me quite articulately what each one is named and what it is used for. I see his sister in the background and she waves but knows this is Colin’s time. Colin tells me more about his truck city that he is making and we end on this note. I’ve made contact, the native(s) are friendly and willing to talk and share.

The next day, he calls me and is excited to show me something. I say, ok, what is it?

Now he is holding the iPhone in his hand with the glass face up. I have a great view of

being carried by him, seeing his little determined face from below and I can see, I, the

iPhone, that is, being lifted and falling in rhythm with his walk. It is a beautiful partly

sunny day. Finally, we get to the ad hoc “sand box”, which is just a big pile of sand to be

put into one of the arenas but right now it’s a play area. I see this because momentarily

he swipes the phone from one hand to the other. Then places me, the iPhone, on the

ground looking at the sky and starts to talk thinking I can see what he is doing. I feel like

Humpty Dumpty, laying there on the ground, hahaha! I tell him to put the front of the

phone like it is my eyes so I can see him playing. I say to him he can lean the phone on a

pile of sand or rock or a toy truck. He gets me lined up where I can see all the trucks

now he is showing me how they work in action outside in the dirt. I ask him what letter

does each truck’s name start with. He hesitates at first, but then catches on.

Then it starts to rain, the trucks are ok outside but he wants to get himself inside, so

“we” run back inside the house. Now I see his face chugging away and the rhythm is

much stronger so I feel I am running, too. Whoops! All of a sudden, I see the sky then

the ground. I think I fell, yep, we fell, but we’re ok and up and running and back in the

house. Dinner is called and phone dies.

The next day he calls again, he is sad and hungry. He props up the phone so I can see

him well in the kitchen. We talk about how to make macaroni and cheese. He gets the

pot with water and turns on the cooktop. Then I ask about how to spell pot, he does a

great job. I praise him. He is overjoyed. Then I ask about what rhymes with pot and he

has a great imagination with all sort of words. Then he asks me why the water isn’t

boiling, I suggest to put the cover on. He does. Then he asks me how to spell cover, I

do, then he asks me to rhyme words with cover, and then the water boils and he gets

down the macaroni and carefully puts it in and stirs it. I am amazed of his cooking skills.

I ask him when he opened the cheese packet what did he smell? He looked at me

quizzically and said Cheese! Then went back to stirring, then he offered to say he could

also smell the macaroni as the water got hotter. I closed my eyes, I started to really

hear the bubbling. I ask him about his day. He says it was cold and windy outside so a

lot had to be done with the horses. I see his earnestness in his face with this

explanation but also a sadness, so I extrapolate that too much attention on the horses,

although, he understands that, caused less attention for him by his parents today. At

this point, Mom, comes into the kitchen says the macaroni needs to be drained and the

rest of the food made. She looks tired but happy and tells me it is time to sign off for

the night, I say, ok, have a good night and good night to Colin, too.

I feel as if I am there with Colin in his household. I wonder how many other

grandmothers may be doing the same thing around the world. And, I actually feel more

connected to my grandson than ever before and I wonder is that also felt worldwide.