COLUMN: FROM QUARANTINE TO…QUARANTINE

LIAM EASLEY, TRUMPET FEATURE WRITER

If I were Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’d keep it simple and just say, “I’ll be back.” But I’m not, and I like to think I’m a little less oafish. So instead of a short, three-word phrase, here is a whole multi-paragraph story.

I stayed home this semester to avoid the pandemic, which if you haven’t heard has been going on for a bit. Obviously, it’s more complicated than just avoiding a wildcard disease – I have a family member at high risk. While at home, and while I wasn’t in class or doing homework, I spent my leisure time either reading books or watching movies.

It doesn’t reflect well on how I’ve spent my time in the past, but I haven’t read so much in all my life as I have now. I have been surrounding myself with Ovid, Shakespeare, Euripides, Homer and the other cyclic poets as well as reading for class. This has been the first semester where I have actually read all the assigned readings so far. 

As for my cinematic experience, I must have watched at least 200 movies from all over the world since quarantine started. It’s amazing what an absence of a social life can do.

That being said, one hardship of being away from campus has been attempting to stay in touch with my friends. I’m not one to stay social in the first place, as I prefer in-person contact, but I started to realize that virtual contact was important now more than ever. As a result, I have been attempting to stay in touch more and have even gained a pen pal (the hard part is actually getting the letter in the mail, as I am very lazy).

Speaking of laziness, since my classroom is my bedroom (and since I always naturally wake up around eight or nine), I hardly ever set alarms. However, I still arrive to class on time every day, and my cats routinely join me.

Genie, one of my cats, was in class with me almost every day. My other cat, Lulu, understands that my room is Genie’s territory. They are very competitive and fight constantly, so Lulu hardly joined me in class. I would make time for Lulu by taking her for walks. It’s been her ambition during her 15 years of life to wander outside, and I decided to take matters into my own hands and show her around outdoors. Genie couldn’t care less about what lay beyond the walls.

Outside of cats, class, books and film, I busied myself with other work. Around early September, I finished building a desk. For the first month of school, I sat on the floor with my laptop on a small, unidentifiable piece of furniture made of cheap wood. My dad and I went to a reclaimed wood depot, gathered some odds and ends, slapped them together and had a desk made in no time.

My main priority was to build a bookshelf-desk hybrid, and we found four old shipping crates for Viva Italian squash (I just now read that since I’m at my desk). The four crates were stacked on top of one another, two on each side for the legs, with the cavities facing outward – these would be my bookshelves. The desk surface was as we found it – we just applied a stain and a wax finish – and all was well. Add some nails and screws and that’s a desk.

But now that Fall Term is nearing an end, I can see my inevitable return to campus on the horizon, which probably spells out less time for film and fantasy.

It won’t be anything complicated – all I have to do is drive west from Illinois to Iowa and then throw myself in self-isolation for two weeks. Readjusting to life in college might be tricky in some regards, and while a social life isn’t exactly ideal at the moment, I will definitely enjoy contact with my peers after so many months without.

I don’t know exactly what’s in store for me, but outside of COVID, I’m looking forward to being back.

If you must, here are the best movies I have seen during quarantine with years and countries of origin (so you can find them more easily): “November” (2017, Estonia), “Fitzcarraldo” (1984, Germany), “Breathless” (1960, France), “Soleil Ô” (1967, Mauritania), “Knives Out” (2019, United States), “Pixote” (1981, Brazil), “Lucia” (1968, Cuba), “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (2020, United States), “Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion” (1972, Japan), among many others.

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