Tag Archives: Coronavirus

Staying Home Update #4

August 10, 2020

Creativity / Culture and Society / Reading Books

It’s been a minute since I’ve written about how I am actually doing as the Coronavirus continues to ravage the US. The obvious setbacks that we are all experiencing are ever-present in my life. I stay at home over 95% of my time, with the exception of getting groceries from the supermarket and the farmer’s market once a week as well as dropping off our household trash and recycling. This means that visiting friends and family, working on a film project with other people, or something as mundane as going to a movie theater to see a big-budget film are simply out of the question.

To delve deeper, I released a short film on my Youtube channel last month that conveys my emotional state since the lockdown began last March.

Here is “The Summer Inside”:

Yes, I am feeling all of what this film communicates, but beyond this low-grade, ongoing depression (and anxiety), my world has opened up in different ways:

  • I have had more time to devote to learning how to play a new musical instrument. Every day, I’ve been learning something new on my ukulele. I never thought that I would enjoy this so much!
  • I have had more time to make my films. As of today, I have filmed, edited, and released 18 short films on my Youtube channel since Easter back in April. I’ve lost count of how many hours of filming and editing this has taken up! I’ve learned so much, and I’ve become a more capable filmmaker in the process.
  • I have been working toward building a personal system of daily actions in my life that addresses self-care and what I need to cultivate for my creative work to keep growing. Specifically, I’ve been reframing my workflow and optimizing each step of the work that I do in the interest feeling healthier, stronger, and more fulfilled.
  • I have been exercising consistently every day. This reaps so many benefits.
  • I have been reading very good books.

As limiting as sheltering in place has been, I have carved out these small ways to keep developing my life. None of this is easy, by the way. All of the above has involved lots of trial and error, research, and fighting doubt, which is one of my longstanding foes.

Like the rest of the world, I have no idea when everything will return to being like it once was. Maybe the world has changed permanently, for better or worse, because of all this. I know that I will continue to nurture the small amount of good that is growing out of this experience. I want to figure out how I can sustain all of this even when Covid-19 someday settles down and the world starts to open back up again.

Until then, I will read my books, write for this blog, create my short films, meander daily on our long driveway in the woods at a slow but purposeful pace, play my piano, strum my ukulele, sing, enjoy fresh veggies from our garden, and keep myself and my loved ones as safe as I can.

Life, in whatever form, pushes forward. In my own way, I am doing the same.

Incidentally, my newest film release, which describes colonialism, is out right now. Have a look at it right here:

Staying Home Update #3

April 13, 2020

Culture and Society

Lately as I shelter in my home, I often feel a push and pull between two forces in my head. One force wants me to be productive and take action on the house projects and creative pursuits that are all waiting for my undivided attention. Another, softer tug wants me to take meandering forays into the deep recesses of my reflections, to be present in stillness and sit with the trauma that is implicit in the act of fearfully hiding from a phantom pandemic.

Honestly, the best I can do at the moment is a little of both. I make small but measurable gains toward my goals and have moments when I simply stop everything, eventually falling asleep or getting lost in a moody reverie.

It’s fair to say that there are no right or wrong actions to take. Some decisions may be better or more appropriate than others, but nonetheless, it’s more important to move with intention and awareness.

If you feel tired, then rest. If you don’t feel like doing anything at the moment, then don’t. If you feel like working on a project just to feel some sense of normalcy, then do that. I’ve been learning to cut myself some slack if something doesn’t get finished or if my day is derailed by some kind of nuisance.

Lucky for me, I love to take naps. This happens at least once a day. I have a beautiful deck that overlooks the wild wilderness that surrounds my rural country home. I’ve been enjoying the deck more now that the weather has warmed up. I take naps on a lounge chair out there as much as I can. I’ve also been playing my ukulele lately, and it’s been a quirky little salve to my stressed spirit. I’m continually amazed at how versatile an instrument it is because it feels more like a toy. I am working on some original songs and a few covers, as well as some finger-picked melodies.

Photography is another charming pursuit of mine. It forces me to find perspective and beauty among the seemingly mundane of everyday life. The blooms in our garden are impossibly and delightfully photogenic. Taking photos of them makes me happy.

On the other end of this spectrum are my various projects. I mentioned previously that I am pressure washing our massive wraparound deck. This is ongoing. I am also working on a couple of screenplays and editing a big film project. I enjoy this work, but the learning curve to achieve the results I want is steep. So, I’ve been progressing slowly in hopes that in time I will get it right. I am also reorganizing and redecorating my office and creative workspace. This includes rummaging through an interior storage space to make more room. Again, I am taking my time with this.

Lastly, there are two activities that keep me grounded in my life. One of those is playing the piano, and the other is reading books. I play my piano and two electric keyboards as often as I can. The sounds they make and the way the notes coalesce as I sing feed and nourish me. Reading a book is a quiet, noiseless, but altogether engrossing activity. I can visit other countries and universes and leap into fantastic adventures in the warm coziness of my reading nook. Both the simplicity and the enormity of it keep me engaged and enthralled.

I say all this knowing that the specter of the coronavirus pandemic lingers heavily in my mind. Its devastation saddens me. The irony that I do my part by practically doing nothing feels disempowering, but that is the paradox in these times that we face. I have made a donation to an organization that provides support and equipment for nurses, but it does not feel like enough.

What are you engaging in at the moment? How are you spending these sheltering days?

I feel the need more than ever to be intentional with how I spend my time, even when this means doing nothing. The reality of a pandemic is the gravity of our delicate mortality. I don’t want to waste another day should this virus find its way to me.

My life and all of our lives are far too precious.

-Roqué


Here are a couple of previous posts! Stay a while and enjoy!

Staying Home Update #2

March 30, 2020

Culture and Society

The days lumber on as I shelter in place. Most of the time, I fight the urge to check the news. This involves a swift and anxious perusal of several news websites including CNN, NPR, The Guardian, USA Today, and a Nashvile TV news station. I am getting a better handle on this obsession. Nonetheless, I harbor a deep concern for the wellbeing of the world. The coronavirus pandemic is on its way to being a catastrophic world event with aftershocks that we will experience for an unforeseeable future. I fear for the vulnerable populations all over the world and for the poor countries (such as those in Africa) that do not have the resources and infrastructure that the developed world has. If wealthy countries like Italy, Spain, and the US cannot even contain the spread of the virus and its devastating mortality rate, then how much harder will it be for the poverty-stricken of the world? I can’t even.

This is all overwhelming, and I am simply trying to stay calm.

To that end, there are some daily practices I have cobbled together and try to do as consistently as I can. I maintain a list of friends and family members with whom I check in whenever I can without becoming a nuisance about it. This involves messaging on social media, texting, email, Zoom chats, and phone calls. At a time in which we need to be physically distant from one another, I see this moment in history as an opportunity to support and comfort each other as much as possible.

Another daily activity I have is walking. Being out in the country, I am fortunate to have a private driveway that is half of a mile long from our doorstep to our mailbox. It runs right along our creek and makes for a truly idyllic and calming stroll surrounded by thousands of trees and abundant nature. Our wifi does not extend beyond the house, and I do not get a cell phone signal on our property at all. This means that I am completely cut off from the world when I take these walks., and this is quite refreshing. There are no news websites to obsess over and no people to avoid. I get to be alone with my thoughts and with the natural world, as well as get the easy and low-impact kind of exercise that I generally prefer.

Here are some photos I took a couple of days ago along my way.

Our creek runs right along the driveway.
This is a peaceful and picturesque path.

For about an hour or two if it is not raining (and it rains A LOT in my neck of the woods), I have been working on what has been a lengthy home-maintenance project. I am pressure washing our deck . This has been time-consuming for a couple of reasons. Our house is over 20 years old, and I do not know if the deck has ever been pressure washed before. The layers of mold and normal wear have taken their toll. I have to go over many sections several times just to get a lot of it off. The other reason why this is taking a while is that the deck wraps around the house. It’s A LOT of deck. So, I do a little at a time on most days, and I should be done in about month at my current glacial pace. The before and after photos are quite shocking. Our deck post-wash looks almost brand new! I love it!! This process has been surprisingly rewarding.

In this photo, the darker section is the “before.” Seriously, what a difference huh?

Grime and mold disappearing after a thorough pressure wash.

Like I mentioned last time, I am also doing a lot of reading, knitting, and music playing on my piano and ukulele (less so on cello lately, but that will change soon).

I do all of this in the interest of trying to live calmly as we all weather the growing storm of this virus.

I hope you find meaningful or at least enjoyable activities to fill your days as we try to stay healthy and less stressed out.

Be safe and be kind to yourselves. (Also, wash your hands when you get a chance.)

There will be more updates to come.

-Roqué

Staying Home Update #1

March 23, 2020

Culture and Society

I am currently one among millions of people around the world staying home right now to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This week and at various intervals over the next couple of months, I want to share my experiences while the world waits for this pandemic to pass.

For the record, I have always been an introvert at my core. I see this time as an opportunity to return to my inward-facing roots, despite having been a performing musician and college student. The timing of this call to shelter at home is actually quite fitting at this stage of my life. Last December (a mere three months ago or so), I graduated from college. I earned a degree in Video and Film Production from Middle Tennessee State University. This means that I’ve been repeatedly asking myself the question “Okay, what now?” ever since and wondering if my degree will basically be useless as we sift through the carnage of this unprecedented pandemic.

Well, for the next few weeks of self-isolation, I have more time to think about my future and how I can apply what I learned in college toward work that earns an income but also feels creatively fulfilling. That’s been on my mind a lot. I’ve been journaling a bit, staring out at the forest that beckons beyond the wrap-around deck of my woodland home, and mostly dreaming. I take a bunch of photos on my DSLR camera as well as edit a couple of film projects I’ve been working on. I am thankful that I now have the time to ruminate.

I also had to cancel a couple of out-to-town trips I had been planning for a while—one to celebrate a dear friend’s birthday and another to film a music video. I’m hoping to carry on with both prospects eventually.

Otherwise, I’ve been neglecting my Netflix feed in favor of books. So far this year, I have read twelve books. I wonder if that makes me a bad filmmaker if I’d rather read a book than watch a movie. So be it, I suppose.

Since I am not able to actually go to a library at the moment, I’ve been using my active free memberships to three different library systems. Here in Middle Tennessee, that would be Davidson County/Nashville, Rutherford County/Murfreesboro, and Cannon County/Woodbury. Their digital collections can be accessed both online and through an app on my phone. I hunt for books that I want to read on all three systems, and I am able to get what I want pretty easily. Did I mention that all of this is free? (Eat your heart out, Netflix monthly fee!! MINERVA!!)

Over the last few days, I’ve also been trying to engage in activities that reduce anxiety AF. The looming threat of contracting a lethal virus that has already killed THOUSANDS of people is kind of wigging me out. So, what does that look like? Pacifist bullet points please . . .

  • Cat cuddling. Yup, you read that right. No, I am not part of the furry community, and I marginally don’t believe that cats are supremely superior over all other species. I simply just LOVE TO CUDDLE WITH THEM SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!! So. Damn. Much. UUUGGHH . . . Now, it doesn’t help that my cat Steinway is extremely affectionate and likes to plop on my face when I sleep at night. It also doesn’t help that we have 4 cats who live with us. Ugh. UUUGGGHHH!!!
  • I play solitaire. Left-handed (of course!) and with an actual deck of cards AF. There is something strangely calming about this game even though I legit lose 99.99999999% of the time. Okay, so I’m pretty terrible at it (obvs), but it’s one of the most zen-like and calming activities I’ve ever come across. The physical act of laying the cards down and slowly contemplating each option and move is strangely relaxing. Who knew?
  • I play music. Specifically, on the piano, cello, and ukulele. I play piano the most, but I practice on the other two as often as I can. Playing music is my emotional-release valve. I can sit at my piano, sing my heart out, and let my feelings wash all over me. It’s important to have an outlet like this, and this is mine. I mostly sing as I play and run through the catalog of original songs that I have written. This heals my spirit in times like these.
  • Staying in touch with friends and family. (AKA Making sure my people are ok). This involves lots of text messaging and phone calls, but I’m about to use Zoom a whole heck of a lot AF! In lieu of actually seeing friends and loved ones in person, this is the next best thing.

There are other activities like knitting, self-care, exercise, and secretly devouring a whole tub of peanut butter AF, but the four bulleted ones are among the most prominent.

Incidentally AF, what am I trying NOT to do while I am self-imprisoning? Again, non-violent bullet points please . . .

  • Endlessly scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds. I already have a love/hate relationship with social media. I see them as our modern-day Big Brother. They are so darn addictive, and that bothers me. So yeah, trying (and sometimes failing) to NOT do that.
  • Become consumed over my anxiety about the coronavirus. This is a tough one. Not only do I want to avoid dying a painful death all alone in a hospital, but I also fear for my elderly loved-ones and friends. I’m trying to stay calm, but this is difficult.
  • Become obsessed with productivity. Prior to graduating, I worked my smooth Asian ass off!! I attended every class and aced virtually everything. (Not to brag of course, but I earned every damn A that I got.) Ultimately though, I payed a heavy price for this. My social life and valuable connections with friends tanked, and I became overly preoccupied with being productive ALL OF THE TIME AF. This isn’t healthy because there is immense value in chillaxing and doing nothing whenever possible. I missed out on a lot of chillaxing and fun in college, and now, I make it an intention every day to have time to take naps, stare at my foot, or literally do absolutely nothing at all. Yup.

Well, that’s my life so far as I am at the beginning stages of my stay-at-home-self-sheltering-try-not-to-die-of-the-plague stupor. I hope you find your own way through these uncertain times. Take a moment to be thankful for your health and for the privilege of having a boring afternoon. Sadly, some of us do not have that luxury any more.

Until the next update, cuddle away!!

-Roqué

Compassion In the Age of the Coronavirus

March 16, 2020

Culture and Society

With the onslaught of the Coronavirus, the realities of daily life all over the world are quickly changing. The traditional ways that we as human beings interact must be adjusted into what feels like an impersonal and counterintuitive model. The life-affirming connections that simple handshakes and hugs foster must stop completely. People have to stay several feet apart out in public while not touching their faces. It seems safer to assume that everyone has it and to let this color how you carry out any interactions with people.

What I find the most troublesome about these necessary precautions is how they might encourage people to harbor a panic-driven fear of the disease and each other. By and large, interactions fueled by fear can open the door to racism, violence, and all sorts of phobias and anxieties that simply do not do anyone any good.

As an alternative, I propose that we proceed into these scary and uncertain times with compassion in our hearts both for ourselves and everyone in our daily lives. This involves a shift in our mindset about the precautions we are all taking to safeguard our wellbeing.

Much talk is circulating about social distancing as a way to combat the exponential viral growth of this disease. Staying indoors and forbidding any interaction with the outside world is a core practice in this ideology. Rather than relegating this behavior to one based upon fear of others who have the contagion, I believe that it is rooted in a far more compassionate framework.

When we practice social distancing, we essentially limit the spread of the virus. This means that our healthcare system, including emergency rooms, respirators, medical staff, and other important resources, can be utilized by people who are truly at a greater risk of dying. The fewer infections there are, the more resources we have to save more lives. In a worst-case scenario, healthcare workers would have to pick and choose who is more deserving of treatment if all the available options become scarce. I cannot imagine having to make those kinds of choices.

Social distancing is an act of compassion because it makes resources more available once Covid-19 hits a critical mass. If I do not get sick, then that frees up medicine and a respirator for someone else (potentially even an elderly loved one) who desperately needs it to save their lives.

This is just one example of how we can understand the compassion behind the preventive measures we are taking to mitigate the rising catastrophe.

Ultimately, we all play a part in saving lives in our own communities with the precautions we take. Let your actions be guided by compassion, and hopefully, even with the inevitable casualties to come, we can prevent the devastation as much as we can humanely, respectfully, and with the dignity we all deserve.

-Roqué