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The Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab (WPHL) in partnership with Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS), and the Humanities Edge has created a platform entitled Stories in the Time of Corona in order to hear -- and record – the stories from the members of our FIU community and South Florida at large in this very difficult and unsettling moment. Our thought is to train the commitment to community engagement and public-facing work that each of us does on you, members of our beloved FIU community and beyond; to hear from you, learn from you, and create a community of knowledge and empathy as we struggle to understand how the ground is shifting beneath us.  We will emerge stronger and with an archive of stories in a multitude of formats (textual, sound/visual, digital) able to remind us and teach us as we move forward together.

We will inspire members of our community with a series of themes that together will create the archive of narratives, textual, visual and/or digital. We will encourage expression of all kinds, from photography  to words in the form of free thought and poetry and art.

Our next theme, HOME, deals with changes in the domestic sphere during this time. Share your story here!

Home

  • Jordana Pomeroy

    "Home, is where I want to be

    But I guess I'm already there."

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    Women have traditionally asserted dominion over the home. Public spaces, by contrast, have historically been the domain of men, places where transactions, conversations, and events took place, from which women were excluded. I grew up with a working mother, and I witnessed how she and her peers strove to straddle both worlds, negotiating the male world of public spaces while also managing the female realm of domestic interior spaces. A few women I knew worked out of their homes, such as artists, whose studio space might comprise the kitchen or perhaps an area carved out from the living room.

    I am now in my tenth week of sheltering in place, which has given me ample time to consider the meaning of home.

    Home is no longer just a refuge for me, a respite from my work as a director at a museum, a quintessential public place. I don’t come home from a hard day’s work. I’ve hardly left it. My commute consists of a walk from my bedroom to my home office, via a loop around the abandoned blocks of Coconut Grove with my dog.

    Then I’m back at my desk to continue the workday. I may stop to do laundry or the dishes, mundane activities that are harder to ignore when one’s office and home are one and the same. This maintenance of my work space is a legitimate part of my day, I tell myself. I have to control my instincts not to scrub the baseboards or rearrange the furniture, watching time slip away from me.

    I love my home, an island of peace in the midst of a lively urban neighborhood of which I am a part, but separate. Little did I know when I bought it that this would be the perfect pandemic apartment, with a private entrance from my patio. Well, that’s just one more selling point, as they say in the real estate business. Exquisite, one-of-a-kind, condo residence, has pandemic egress.

    My home provides me with a haven from the challenges and perils of the physical world, a comfortable base from which I can virtually navigate the public spaces of my workaday life, and a means, when I need it, for me to safely escape into the real world outside and then retreat back into my domestic sanctuary.

    During these days of sheltering in, however, I seldom leave home or return home. I am home. Or I am turning into my home. My home and I are one.

    Image: Eva Rubinstein, Window and Chair, 1978, gelatin silver print, Gift of Neikrug Photographica Ltd., New York, New York, FIU 89.2.8

  • Amanda González Izquierdo
    A few weeks ago, a professor introduced me to a guest lecturer on our Zoom class as Cuban-American and I immediately said “actually, I describe myself as Cuban-Miamian.” Cuban-American has always felt strange on my tongue and I realized that if I was ever to identify with anything in the midst of the diaspora, it would be the palm trees. Cuban-Miamian: she from where the palm trees sway. Home is where I can hear the palm fronds dance with the wind.

    I came down from Jersey for spring break and then found out classes would be remote until the end of the semester and I ran to cancel my flight back. I stayed among the palm trees, in my parents’ apartment with all my art history books and Rothko prints on my bedroom wall, and all the pictures and VHS tapes of my childhood that we brought with us when we left our island in the Caribbean. It’s been hard to get any work done, especially because of the financial stress brought on by this difficult time and I’m anxious hasta por gusto. My dad told me the other day: no es que te ahogas en un vaso de agua, es que te ahogas en una sola gota. He’s right and I’m glad to be home and be able to get in my parents’ bed when I’m too overwhelmed and have them hold me as if I was little again. When they tell me it’ll be ok and they kiss me on the forehead and say “te adoro” in the same tender way they’ve been saying it for almost 22 years, I believe that it will be ok after all.

    We’ve been watching old tapes and looking at pictures and remembering our lives among the palm trees ninety miles south from here. We stand on the balcony we’ve filled with the same kinds of plants we had on the balcony of our apartment in Cuba and we recite the poetry I had to learn in elementary school and sing the songs my grandmother used to sing. My parents tell me of times that precede me and we take mental walks around my childhood neighborhood. We realize that we’ve made our home in our memories.
  • Rozzmery Palenzuela Vicente

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    Over the past several weeks I’ve heard friends and loved ones repeatedly refer to their home as dark spaces that aim to confine them. When people ask me how I’m dealing with being “stuck at home” I’m usually one of the few people who say, “fine,” and actually mean it. While I can definitively say that I do have introverted qualities, my being “fine” with being quarantined indoors is not so much because of my personality, but a result of my childhood upbringing:

    My family and I emigrated from Cuba in 1998. My mother, brother, grandparents and I arrived first and my father followed a year later. Unlike so many people suffering in Cuba at the time, we didn’t leave because of necessity. In fact, we were one of the more “well-off” families during such a difficult time. We left because we could and because my parents wanted to provide my brother and I with opportunity and choices that we wouldn’t have in Cuba. We lived in Miami for the first two years, and even though I was young I can still recall it being some of the worst times in our lives. Like a lot of Cuban immigrant families, we were taken aback by the constant news of murders, sexual assaults, accidents, and petty crime that we were unaccustomed to hearing about in Cuba. Living in a small apartment in a bad part of Hialeah, my parents became extremely overprotective. While my brother experienced a childhood in Cuba where he could go to the store, visit neighbors, and play with his friends on the street, my childhood was largely indoors. I wasn’t allowed to go outside and play, or really interact with many of the neighborhood kids because of the “mal ambiente,” as Cubans often say. Miami was a complete shock to our system.

    When we moved to Tampa, the situation was fairly similar. We either lived in low-income neighborhoods or in the most run-down house in the nicer neighborhoods. We moved over twenty-four times and I went to over six different schools. Growing up, I couldn’t find solace in my friends or in my community. I also didn’t have extended family to visit or cousins to spend time with. We sent remittances to Cuba every month so we couldn’t afford things like afterschool or summer programs or extra-curricular activities. I was also never the type of kid who asked their parents for much. I grew up understanding (perhaps more deeply than any child should) the value of money and the hardships that my parents endured to try to provide for us and give us a better life. I felt their pain more deeply – every burn from working at the Dry Cleaners and every pulled muscle from doing heavy lifting during a move. I didn’t have a quinceañera and I didn’t go to prom. I didn’t really go out on weekends or go on expensive field trips. We didn’t have vacations until we started returning home to Cuba more regularly; even then, we were there for family, not experiencing the island as tourists. I never wanted my parents to sacrifice or work more than they already were.

    All I knew growing up was “casa y escuela” (school and home), so I was forced to find comfort within the home and with my family. I loved cleaning on Saturday mornings with my mom while listening to Celia and Los Van Van. I loved fighting with my dad over "mala jugadas" (bad plays) while playing dominoes during Sunday barbecues. Sleeping in the same room when the power went out during hurricane season and "burlarnos de la situación" (make fun of the situation).
    Sitting outside on the porch with my grandma and reminiscing about her life in Cuba are still some of my most treasured memories. My books and my films were a great support for me as well; any book worm would say that there’s nothing quite like getting lost in someone else’s stories. Most importantly, I treasured the daily meals my parents would make. No matter how long their workday was, my parents always cooked dinner for us and we always ate together "en la mesa" (at the table) as a family. Like any family, we didn’t always see eye to eye and we experienced hard times. But we all felt that our home was our safe haven and that our family was all we had (or needed) – a feeling that united us more than anything else could divide us.

    As a budding historian of family and childhood, I’m fascinated by children’s experiences and of familial experiences within the home. Generations of women and children working together in small spaces and bonding over sharing domestic duties and child-rearing is the stuff of gold to me. As I’m knee-deep in preparing for Comps, I find myself connected to stories of Soviet women in a "kommunal'naya kvartira" (communal apartment) or Cuban families in living in run down "solares" (overcrowded tenement buildings) and small "placas" (homes with two-living units). Like so many in these stories, I’m finding comfort and meaning in performing daily activities in domestic spaces. In cleaning and doing laundry, cooking, re-decorating, organizing, reading and writing. In the daily experiences that I share with my family such as watching documentaries together, eating family dinners, and discussing politics and covid-related news. As I scroll through social media and read about the difficulties that most parents are facing with their young children at home, I’m reminded of how thankful I am to have had parents that taught me to have love and respect for my home; to care for it and value the few material things inside of it and the people that share in those memories. If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that happiness begins in the home. In the four walls that sustain you and in the family that keeps you.

  • Aime Ballard-Wood
    I have a home office. It’s upstairs, on the same level as my teenage son’s room, and I’m about as inclined or likely to enter it. There are two defunct computers, victims of our uneasy relationship with operating-system upgrades; five filing drawers full of 20-plus years of paper, most of which probably could have been tossed the minute the bill was paid; four bookcases full of everything from 50-year-old copies of Nancy Drew to 30-year-old college textbooks to two-rows-deep shelves of novels, un- or repeatedly read; a nook stuffed with backpacking gear that, according to my husband, needs airflow; a 25-year-old TV-VCR combination that, because it’s not connected to cable or a digital antenna, can only play any of the 50 or so video tapes piled up under one of the two desks; a lean-to of un-hung art, photos, and diplomas, although the walls are empty; a futon that you can tell used to be comfortable if you stay to one side; and a banged-up-ish old lamp on a nightstand consisting of a stack of bins holding the fixings of Halloween costumes past and future. I’ll stop there, but you get the picture. It’s a project 10-years in the making, the product of closing my consulting business and returning to a so-called in-house position, and of our pack-rat and slothful tendencies (maybe we’re pack-sloths?). It’s also exactly the kind of home project my more industrious friends and neighbors are taking on—as though they have a room like this in the first place—during the ‘Rona. But we don’t. I don’t. Instead I work 10-hour-days at a desk in the front hall, squarely between necessities like the kitchen and TV and others like bedrooms and bathrooms. My co-workers are used to the parade of humans and animals slipping past the back of my chair. It took me weeks to bother figuring out how to hide the comings and goings behind the cover of a digital backdrop, and even that seemed like giving in, admitting that this is the ways things are and will be. Imagine what will happen if I clean up the room upstairs and trade the ability to lean back in my chair to wave out the front door at a friend walking past with her dog for the semblance of of being somewhere other than at home. I might forget the home part of home office. I might forget to come out. Then again, I might forget to go in.
  • Paul D. Whittle
    Isolating in Place
    Staying home is the new normal for us. Our trips, other than the morning walks, are by computer. The virtual world seemingly developing as we go. An electronic unfolding. Perhaps it was all there before, just waiting for our discovery and engagement. We play bridge on-line with other couples in an app. Another app lets us play Uno with my daughter and granddaughter. Laughter and pseudo groans abound. What fun. The learning curve certainly steeper for us than a 9-year-old. We share stories, jokes, fanciful drawings and are together again. The 2,000-mile separation shrinking to zero with love filling the airwaves and our hearts.
    Oh, and we wash our hands now more than ever. It feels like more than cumulatively ever. We wash before things, after things and above all things. I sing the little alphabet song. My favorite letter is elemeno. I know there’s other little ditties you can use, but I stick to what I know. Not taking chances with either the song or dirty hands.
    We’ve actually been out in the car a few times. It felt both strange and comforting doing it. Empty roads, empty sidewalks and parking spaces everywhere. Businesses, restaurants, and most else closed for a while. How long is uncertain. Lots of things uncertain. Our first excursion was to the pharmacy about a mile away to pick up a phoned-in prescription. Linda wore a mask and rubber gloves. We planned to meet the pharmacist in an alley behind the store. There was no one around when we arrived. The pharmacist himself came out and placing a small package on the trunk of a nearby car, smiled, waved, and left. Likely the only one working in his shop. We retrieved it, handling the bag carefully, unwilling to touch it to another surface in the car, and drove off. It somehow felt clandestine.
    The trip to the post office was simpler. With the car idling by the curb, I jumped out and with gloved hand opened the mailbox and dropped in our over-postaged envelope. The rear-view mirror of a car nearby draped with extra face masks. I’m grateful for the Post Office, as I am for many things. At least they’re still functioning. Front-line folks there.
    All our food is delivered now. Never having done that before, we really appreciate this service. And especially grateful for the delivery people and order pickers. From the stories, we know they frequently contend with shoppers unconsciously or otherwise ignoring the separation guidelines in the stores. Putting them at risk. A heartfelt feeling wells up for those people, now important players in our lives. We express our thanks as we can, but really feel it emotionally. Front-line troops as well.
    Costco has been a surprisingly great source for us. Same day delivery. Fewer out-of-stock situations, and great quantities of food. Okay, overwhelming quantities of food. We wanted some rice. Got 20 pounds. Oranges? A case. We don’t use much sugar, but needed some. 10 pounds! Potatoes, sweet potatoes, lemons, avocados? Lots! Really LOTS. Huge net bags full.
    Everything delivered gets dropped off outside our gated condo. We no longer use the elevator so I make repeated stairway trips carrying boxes and bags up to the 3rd floor. Carefully following the guidelines seen in a video, we disinfect the stuff brought into the house. Putting down plastic coverings for the clean and unclean supplies on the counter, we wash, spray, strip off packaging and have our own food processing line. When it’s done, we realize just how much we’ve received. Too much really. So, we start dividing items into bags and containers to share with others less well supplied. One set goes to our cleaning lady, now temporarily unemployed. One to a friend in need. Some smaller collections go to neighbors.
    The friend lives nearby. Gloved and masked I drop a box of food on her front steps. She waves thanks through the window, as I slowly drive away. All of us now are more grateful for things we used to take for granted. We knew before that everyone wasn’t as fortunate. We now know this with a more acute awareness. Sharing is a small way of expressing our gratitude, all of us connected. All blessed.
    Appreciating the love, the quiet time, the willingness to be happy and grow in the face of possible adversity are some of the gifts we’re being given now. In isolation we’ve somehow become more connected. Smiles mean more. Waves from strangers, triple honks, and acknowledgements out there mean more. I feel it in my heart. They mean we’re loved, those signs. Cherishing others more, noticing more and feeling grateful for things, are our rewards. They were always available, maybe invisible at times and ignored perhaps, but available. Priorities have shifted. Values and outlooks have shifted. Who we really are is perhaps becoming more obvious. Possibly we’ll listen to that little voice inside. Maybe we’ll take advantage of what is truly an opportunity, semi-imposed upon us, to become ourselves. To be and to express who we really are. That’s available now in our lives like it never seemed to be before. The choice, ever present, is ours.
  • Jenn Gebelein
    Home has taken on new importance and meaning for me since Mid-March when the remote work and stay at home order began.

    Home in terms of being a mother:
    I have a 6 year old, high energy, fabulously smart and wonderful little boy. Before this pandemic began I wished for more time with him. I got my wish, he is literally with me or my husband: All. The. Time. And I love being near him, that he stops in my office to give me a hug, zoom-bombs my meetings, reveals to me exactly how special and unique he is in so many ways. Time has stretched out for he and I, and while it can be challenging, I tell myself it won't last forever, and I hug him extra tight and for a little longer than I normally would, each time he needs a snuggle. Home has become the center of our world.

    Home in terms of work:
    Working from home, with above-described child, has been unbelievably hard. I work most nights after he goes to bed for several hours just to keep up with tasks and projects. I wake up early before everyone else to get things done. I work on weekends. I am exhausted. Sometimes I don't know what day it is or what time it is while I work in the middle of the night, and it's an odd feeling. I miss seeing my colleagues face to face, joking, sitting with them, going to lunch or for a cafecito. Remote work is a band-aid, and a good one, but it's very very tough for many people, parent or not. The fact that home is now my gym, my office, the place we sleep and eat, and summer camp is overwhelming at times.

    Home, gratefulness and offering positive change:
    Each day, to combat negative emotions that crowd into my head sometimes, I practice gratefulness. I hide somewhere in my house and sit quietly for a few moments and think about 1-4 things that I am grateful for: my son and husband, that I have a job that allows me to work at home, a home, enough to eat, and so on. This small act helps me so much each day, and resets my head and heart back into a positive space. It's become a daily mantra that I do each day.

    The pandemic has offered me the opportunity to do better, to become a better mother, employee, leader, and innovator. I want to take the lessons I am learning and continue to improve to better help others. My whole life I've been inspired by Mr. Rogers. He once said:

    “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

    My goal for a long time has been to be and continue becoming one of the people who helps those in need. Each one of us has the opportunity to do good things and offer hope in this world, and when things are bad, that's your chance. Let's do this.

Time

  • Rebecca Friedman

    I just closed the book on Time. Quite literally. My monograph on Russian Time is now in page proofs. Perceptions of time shift profoundly across history and geography. How long is a second? A day? How long have I been in my sweatpants or not left the house? (My 18-year old – who should be flying back to college today – is playing a game with himself to see how long he can stay indoors, creating “stations” for sitting inside, in order to demarcate the bits of the day. There were always meals (breakfast time, lunchtime, dinnertime…..) but now we have sitting stations (chair, couch, stool, bed…..tic toc, tic toc)).

    I am always aware of time, its movements and deceptions and too its friendlier guises. Once one turns fifty years old, all bets are off and one wishes for time to simply slow the hell down. Not now. Not in the Age of Corona. How many weeks until quarantine is over? Test results in? I can return to normal life? How many hours until it is tomorrow?

    Why do we wish for temporal speed? Perhaps because we wake not to the sound of the alarm reminding us that our children need breakfast and to be ushered off to school nor to the knowledge that we have to make it to the gym before our eight o’clock class. Instead, the day begins when we decide to open the shades or pour the coffee or go for a run. There is no set moment. No need.

    And inside each day there resides a whole universe. A whole range of feelings and contemplations and cogitations; from joy at unity to grief at the Italian bodies on social media to fury at the lack of Federal leadership in this country. Fear, grief at death and poverty and the unknown. The bed that was once a refuge, is now a trap. What will a minute feel like when it is all over?

    Time has slowed down in ways I might have wished for just a week ago. Has it really only been a week? 

     

  • Julio Capó, Jr.
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  • Ana Menéndez

    Oranges and eggs have vanished from the stores. Are vanishing. Vanished? Have vanished is so weak, and yet the mind struggles to reconcile the linear expediency of verb tense with the vertigo of time in pandemic.

    The recent past now seems achingly far. Was it only two weeks ago that I was assuring a colleague that it was fine to travel to D.C. for a conference? A week that I returned from back-to-back trips? When was it that we were making plans for March – festivals, seminars, dinner parties -- as if the future were a willing dance partner?

    Yesterday recedes, while the long past, always precious, seems suddenly close enough to hear.

    I think of my grandmother Kika who loved Carlos Gardel. She would sing along whenever the Argentine’s classic Volver came on the radio: Sentir/que es un soplo la vida/que veinte años no es nada/que febril la mirada/errante en las sombras/te busca y te nombra.

    Kika was the daughter of Lebanese immigrants who had survived sorrows they kept forever buried in memory. Her mother never spoke of famine or genocide. Not of the first husband killed by a train. Not of the first child, lost to epidemic. To sense/that life is mere breath/that twenty years is nothing/that the fevered gaze/passing in shadows/hunts you and names you.

    My parents who left Cuba in their early twenties still live inside the trauma of their flight. An entire life lived in the continuous present tense of loss.

    And now here I am, standing in front of shelves emptied of oranges and lemons, mandarins and eggs, abruptly pulled into a simple, private past.

    I cannot remember Monday, but without willing it, I’m back in Tampa 1979, my childhood home, a mid-century ranch abutting public land that my father "borrows" to raise chickens. We have what seems an endless supply of fresh eggs and, when someone is prepared to do the killing and plucking, all the free-range chicken we can eat. My immigrant father has planted a grove of citrus, a fence against deprivation. We live inside the seasons, from frost, to buds, to fragrant blossoms, to the lemons, oranges, mandarins, tangelos and grapefruit that we pick from the trees. The memory is so close now. The sweet scent of orange fills the empty store, and I sense that if I turn suddenly, I will meet my nine-year-old self, outstretched arms full of abundance.

  • Susan Gladstone
    I am a very big fan of Downton Abbey and one of my favorite characters is Lady Grantham, played by the marvelous Maggie Smith. The character has lived a life of total leisure for 80 or more years. There is a brilliant scene in which a new character has joined the family, a person with a ..... JOB. He mentions that he will have some free time “ on the weekend”, to which Lady G. asks, “What is a weekend?”

    While the reason behind my current circumstance is totally different, and I am working from home and certainly not feeling leisurely, I am losing my sense of days of the week. And so, I find myself asking the same question. “What is a weekend?”
  • Jordana Pomeroy
    Once in a Lifetime in the Age of COVID-19

    I hear that Talking Heads lyric in my head: “Well…how did I get here?”

    “Here” is the Grove, my shelter during the pandemic of 2020, where I live alone with my sweet terrier, Artie.

    I think about my children, now grown and living their lives up North with their partners.

    I reflect on the past five years, on losing my sister, my sister-in-law, my father.

    “Letting the days go by, water flowing underground,” the song continues. Water, a metaphor for time’s passage. But time doesn’t flow during the pandemic. It seeps…slowly.

    Across the street, in Regatta Park, families leisurely bike and skate. The power boats and jet skis in the bay have slowed to a standstill.

    I work at home, running a new museum, a virtual version of the building where I usually work. It is a museum without space or time, never open, but always open.

    The hours pass, without the interruptions that usually punctuate my work day. I walk with Artie, basking in the sun’s warmth, a break in my unending day.

    Time streams onward, toward an unknowable destination. Same as it ever was?
  • Stephanie Doscher
    Seeking order.

    The quantum physicists tell us that time, and reality itself, is an illusion. What we perceive as the directional flow of time, from past to present to future, is just our perception of the process of entropy, the progression of order toward disorder. Reality co-evolves as we interact with it—we measure what we can sense and we sense that which has order. The past is a known thing. We experienced it, we interacted with it, we sensed things and we can describe what happened, what we saw, felt, heard, tasted, smelled. The future is full of disorder. We cannot describe nor sense what it is because we have not interacted with the things it holds. In the present we walk forward carefully, step by step, along a razor’s edge of past and present, order on one side, disorder on the other, our hands gripping a guardrail of perception that keeps us from falling into another reality, another world.

    And then the guardrail disappears.

    Suddenly we no longer interact with the world as we once did, and time folds in on itself. Disorder slips into the present and seeps into our perception of the past. Where once there was order, we now see chaos. We look to the future and see a new order, a potential for more safety in the unknown than we ever experienced in the known. We freeze in place, unable to take move forward. What is reality? Has the world changed or has my perception of it changed? If I step this way, am I moving toward my future, or am I re-living the past? The physicists tell us that the true nature of reality is found in the quantum world, a place where entropy does not exist, time does not exist, and particles can exist in two places at once, their location solely determined by the position of the observer. And so, alone, standing on the edge of time, with no guardrail at hand, we slowly, carefully, bravely, blindly, take a cautious step in a direction that we cannot measure, we cannot sense, alone.

    Seeking order.
  • Martha Schoolman
    “So your future veils its face….”

    Herman Melville begins his book of Civil War poetry, Battle Pieces: Or, Aspects of War (1866) with a poem called “The Portent.” It is a grisly work, recalling the execution of the militant abolitionist John Brown, whose raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry is widely viewed as the first, if unofficial, battle in the US Civil War (1861-65).

    In my courses, I teach the poem as an example of the large body of literature trying to make sense of John Brown’s actions. It is a deep and fascinating literary tradition that began in 1859 and continues into the present.

    Under our current “arrested” circumstances however, the poem has been speaking to me more abstractly for its ability to capture the feeling of a moment like ours that seems both momentous and radically uncertain.

    In the poem, John Brown hangs, swinging from the gallows, his face covered by the traditional executioner’s hood. That it is an event that “portends” something we cannot deny, but from the poem’s position in 1859, we do not know what.

    My own day-to-day life is so far only minimally affected by social distancing (with gratitude I can report today that I am not ill, I am employed, my family is thus far uninfected). My principal change in temporal awareness has been toward the future. While such is always the case, it somehow seems especially true today that we do not know what tomorrow will bring.
  • Luna Goldberg
    In this first week of social distancing and quarantine, time has felt fluid. Days rollover into the next and feel continuous, especially as we live with little leave from our homes. Place, too, has an effect on our sense of time. Movement and a change in setting can help structure our days, and with restrictions enforced, one can't help but question how to break up time, or create structure to give meaning to each day. This has been my focus this week as I build in time for a daily walk, schedule time to connect with a loved one, or limit time watching the news or being on a screen.
  • Tim Rodgers
    Some events linger in the mind far too long: drowning as the pneumonia advanced; remembering the red-faced man sitting next to me on the plane; reminding my husband I wanted to be cremated; seeing blood in my urine; a feeling of resigned amusement.

    Some things now take far too much time: making breakfast, lunch, and dinner; walking the dog; washing dishes; discussions of the future.
  • Yoana Lorenzo
    Time is relative.
    It slows down or speeds up Tentative
    Depending on the movement of something else. Health?

    Time is relative and to millions, time slowed
    Dulled by the mundaneness of too many Zoom meetings,
    Deprived of face to face greetings
    I bet seconds feel like days at the ends of unemployment lines

    Time is relative, and to first responders, I’d bet time’s speed increased
    As hours of life turned to thousands deceased.
    Minutes must feel like seconds, when exhausted fingers are moving to save expended lives
    Minds racing, spending too many moments wondering how many will survive

    Time is relative, and to those who’ve lost loved ones, I can imagine how it stopped.
    As unspoken words and unmet kisses lay on regretful lips.
    Tears slip, in rooms absent of one’s voice that was never meant to die so soon.
    I can imagine how one second can last a lifetime.

    Time is relative, so we no longer measure this year in 525,600 minutes
    While waiting, we measure a year
    In daylights and sunsets
    In assignments and push-ups
    In laughter and longing
    In the number of cases and number killed
    In all things, now considered a little more consistent than time.
  • Ellen Friedman
    Time: The ambient atmosphere has changed. Although I go about my day more or less as I had, it occurs in a reduced theatre, the computer. Much of my activity is contained within the dimensions of my screen. I meet my classes via Zoom, though some students do not show up on my screen and I worry; I grade papers on line as I've done since courseware took over. And I meet them virtually. I type instructions, videotape lectures, conduct some discussions asynchronically online. I carry on, I carry on. Take walks, do my small weights, shop for groceries--very carefully, read, watch foreign films on the IFC channel. Suspension, unreality, and no sense of an ending. Beckett's Waiting for Godot or Endgame, which?
  • Max Friedman
    My sense of time has not changed during the pandemic.
    I am always conscious of time mainly on the historical and scientific levels.
    Historically, time flows smoothly from the ancient to the contemporary. Right now I'm reading about the byzantines and Alexander in India.
    It's all one large canvas and continues in all directions but keeps moving. Actually this idea of time, and one can also include the history of our planet, solar system, galaxy, etc, makes more sense to me as a fourth dimension than Einstein's time as dimension. But I do think about this physical concept. I'm also reading Lisa Randels book on extra dimensions and have read that the universe on the plank level (10-33 cm) is composed of space time tiles. Can we come to understand this along with Plato, evolution and our own personal use of time? We should try..........we have lots of Time during the plague to do it.
  • Donna Ruff
    When the stay at home first started, I thought I’d spend my time learning, and took an online art history course on the Book of Hours, a common medieval book that served not only as a devotional, but also as a perpetual calendar. Faced with unknown numbers of days home alone, I started to make my own perpetual calendar, on a blank accordion Moleskin book I often use to make art. On each page I drew a grid of seven squares; and each day I fill in a square, in sequence, so that the end of one week continues to another. Each page is dated and I’m almost at the end of the book, double sided, which contains 63 pages- nine weeks. Soon I will start again at the beginning, dating the page, which started on Friday, March 13th, my first day of isolation. The second instance of Friday after nine weeks will be May 15th.

    As it happened, this coincided with a period in Jewish holiday ritual I didn’t know about: The Counting of the Omer. Instead of counting down days, in Judaism the days are counted up. A Torah commandment is to count 49 days starting on Passover, ending on Shavuot. This period of time is intended to prepare to receive the Torah and its teachings. I found this passage from Psalm 90: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

    The idea of counting days has moved me deeply, when I know that we are experiencing an unprecedented period of grief and vulnerability. Time for me feels elastic- sometimes the day goes by and I wonder where it went. Sometimes it feels like an endless expanse, one hour, one day, one week blending into another. It’s important to me to mark these days, to have something tangible to show for my time. I hope that one day I can end my isolation- but I will not end my counting.
  • Molly Daggett
  • David Rifkind
    I used to think of time as a finite resource that I had to use as economically as possible toward the larger goal of productivity: writing, researching, teaching, engaging in service to the discipline. I even measured my parenting in terms of how efficiently I used time. I came to resent the time I was compelled to “waste” doing things that should have brought me pleasure, like eating a meal, reading something unrelated to my scholarship, or sleeping late on a weekend morning. No more.
    The current crisis has helped me focus on the necessity of enjoying the pleasures contained in the practice of everyday life. I cherish the time I devote every evening to making dinner with my partner. I relish the time I share with friends riding bikes three mornings a week. I prize the time I spend with friends and strangers hanging out virtually to discuss movies and whatever else seems interesting or important.
    I no longer measure my life in terms of how much time I can devote to my profession. Life is too short.
  • Mary Larsen

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    On Friday I hugged my students and wished them a good weekend. Then overnight, without any training, I became a virtual visual arts teacher. The reality of facing quarantine alone began to sink in. The first two weeks were filled with intense anxiety, sleepless nights, random sobbing and a deep loneliness that hit me hardest in the middle of the night. But then something slowly shifted in me. As the initial panic and fear of isolation gradually dissipated, I began to embrace the solitude, the moments of peace, knowing that I had so much to be grateful for. Little by little I found my groove and began seeing the quarantine as a gift. My days had a rhythm to them, and I started to feel content with being alone.

    Part of my day is spent teaching, looking into the vacant, scared faces of my students, frustrated at my inability to engage them. Afterwards, I retreat into my studio, blast music, paint and dance. No matter how hard my day is, dancing puts a smile on my face. Artists, by nature, spend a lot of time alone and I began to pour my anxieties into my work. Making art keeps me sane in the best of times and is a lifesaver during this surreal moment in history. At dusk I sit in my yard with a glass of wine, listening to the birds and watching the butterflies flit around the flowers in bloom and every night I cook myself spectacular dinners like I’m on a special date with myself.

    Before the pause, I spent an enormous effort each week making plans, attending social events, going on dates with mediocre men in an effort to not feel like a loser. It was exhausting. Suddenly, I’m free of all the pressure to maintain the social life that was expected of me. It’s incredibly liberating. Still I vacillate from contentment to complete despair and there are days when I don’t know if I can bear the isolation and lack of touch another day. But I try and stay in the present and hold onto little moments of joy like when my daughter, in Queens, sends me photos of the microgreens she’s growing on her fire escape or my son FaceTime’s me from his tiny apartment in Paris or seeing my sisters, who live all over the country, for a weekly virtual card game. This pause allows me to breathe, focus on my work and nurture myself. Some days I fear that I might never want to return to “normal” life. I’m content that my world has gotten smaller and life, simpler. Whenever I venture out, I feel a sense of relief to be home again. After 46 days of quarantine, what I miss most is intimacy, being hugged and touched. I think I’d be happy if I never had to go to another art opening or party but being deprived of touch may be my undoing.

  • Juan Lopez
    I am 44 years old and I have lived in westchester for all of those years. I have spent my time trying to negate my fears by way of an extreme effort to make the most of the time I may have. First, I decided to fortify my body and prepare it for what could be a fight for my life. I’ve changed my diet to absolutely no sugar or processed foods and have begun walking, bike riding, and calisthenics in the yard. I will not go quietly. To date I’ve lost 35lb and I am consumed with a feeling, that I need to outrun this specter. When I’m not strengthening my defenses, I’m Looking at pictures of old friends and places of significance in the story of my life. The tree by Sylvania Heights Elementary where I had my first fight, it’s also the place where I realized I loved Van Halen. The Westchester Library on Coral Way, where I learned to appreciate books and borrowed Van Halen tapes. Trusty Bird drive park, he place us neighborhood kids would go to unwind. When you live in a place long enough, every corner is a sacred memory. I don’t like the idea of saying goodbye, but if I must. I’m going to the park, surrounded by ghosts and listening to Diver Down. My name is Juan Lopez, some people called me Big John, and I was here. Van Halen rules.