According to my camera roll from the month of April, we’re spending this pandemic like so many other people: buying ourselves flowers, cooking elaborate meals, and experiencing strange issues during our videochats.
We’re also celebrating birthdays to the best of our abilities. At the start of April, I turned 30, and I actually had less of an existential crisis than I usually do on my birthday. (It’s like when the whole world is in crisis it’s easier to keep your own problems in perspective?) Then two weekends ago, we biked over to our friends’ apartment to wish Eben a happy birthday while standing several feet away from each other and wearing masks.
That being said, Germany is actually doing pretty well and starting to loosen some of its restrictions. Churches, museums, and non-essential businesses are reopening, although mask wearing and social distancing are both still compulsory most places. At least masks aren’t in short supply here — the town halls around Berlin are giving them out to constituents for free, but they’re also available for purchase in convenience stores and pharmacies.
Other things I did in April include: collecting these links for you! Enjoy!
A Couple of Digital Literacy Resources
Starting with a fun topic! But, seriously, misinformation is a huge problem, so here’s a cute comic about how to think critically about all the news we’re reading right now. The last tip is my favorite — remember to be kind to yourself and others! We’ve all shared information that we later found out was false; it’s part of living in such an info rich era.
And this 6-page pdf called The Debunking Handbook has some tips for how to effectively correct misinformation. It’s specifically focused on debunking myths about climate change, but the strategies are applicable across topics.
A Couple of Links Overtly About COVID
If you want to skip these, I get it, but I tried to pick content that was uplifting(ish) and decidedly human. First is an article interviewing people who lived through other epidemics and pandemics about life afterwards. Here’s a taste:
The most important thing I learned from the polio epidemic is to be optimistic. The words of my dad are ringing in my head: “Tomorrow will be a better day, and next year will be a better year.”How I Knew It Was Over by Ruth Graham
Generally uplifting, right? Although that article will also make you angry about anti-vaxxers… so… it’s a trade off, I guess.
The second link I want to share is BBC Reel’s mini-documentary series “Lockdown Diaries.” I specifically recommend this video about a Catalan couple in quarantine with their four-year-old. Heartfelt and human.
A Couple of Articles Queering Media
This writer reading Little Women‘s Jo and Laurie as trans is a take I didn’t know I needed. And this piece is all about overt and covert queer representation in cartoons.
A Couple of Suggestions From E
Working from home with E has been fun — our desks are side-by-side in our apartment’s smallest room and he’ll often put on music while we work. His favorite combo has been opening two tabs on his computer and pulling up a Chillhop livestream in one and 10 hours of ambient rain sounds in the other.
When we’re not listening to jazzy, lofi, hip hop beats and soothing rainfall, we’ve been enjoying Ben Gibbard’s livestreams. He’s the lead vocalist for Death Cab for Cutie, and every Thursday since mid-March he’s been recording himself performing solo in his home, taking song requests, and telling little stories in between.
A Resource to Help Us Be Kind
In the one blog post I published in April, I mentioned how it’s okay for us to be upset about little things during this pandemic. And I stand by that! But I also want to share a resource that I have found super helpful when thinking about supporting others through suffering. It’s an idea called Ring Theory and you can read more about it in this LA Times Op-Ed. Basically, we’re all allowed to feel upset and to express our disappointment to others, but we should endeavor to direct complaints to people suffering less than us. Just go read the link, it’s short and the idea is important.
“But Emma,” You Say, “I’m Only Here for the Laughs”
That’s fair! In that case, have you seen this hilarious meme generator? The captions are written by a neural network and it is as delightful (and potentially offensive) as every other neural network generated thing you’ve seen online. An example:
And, as promised in the March link round-up, here is a photo of me attempting to do a split…
What have you all been up to in the last month? Cooked anything interesting? Bought yourself flowers? Taken any embarrassing photos? Tell me about your lives in the comments below!
1. Is that meal takeout or home cooked? Do you have a recipe? What is it??
2. That’s a super cute picture of the four of you! I love your smile, E’s snazzy mask, and Eben and Laura’s power pose 🙂
3. I love the idea of rain sounds plus music simultaneously. Sometimes when I’m studying I’ll put on headphones and go for ten hours of airplane white noise…
4. I also love ring theory although I guess I’ve never known its name. Just the phrase “comfort in, dump out” which is often repeated by my favorite (only?) advice columnist, Captain Awkward.
5. Yes to computer generated fun! Are you also familiar with This [x] Does Not Exist and Botnik? The first one is an image creator with a few categories – so far horses is the most fun. The second one is a comedy group (?) that makes fake Harry Potter chapters, trivia cards, sitcom scripts, etc by training their algorithm on various sources. It’s great. They also provide their keyboard program so you can write your own predictive text nonsense.
I’ve been taking private and group Japanese classes online, playing loads of Animal Crossing, trying to figure out how to quilt, playing World of Horror (text based horror game!) by committee over video chat, picking up watercolors again, taking pictures of birds to identify online, doing all the laundry, cooking a lot, and making outfit of the day posts on my Animal Crossing Instagram!
Thanks for this lovely long comment!
1. E made the dan dan noodles! I just updated this post so that it links to the recipe he’s been loosely following.
2. D’aw, thanks!
3. Personally, I’m not a fan of “white noise” sounds, at least not the kind that just sounds like static. I much prefer rain or ocean waves – something that I could encounter out in the world.
4. Captain Awkward is great! I guess I just haven’t read one of her(?) posts that includes the phrase “comfort in, dump out.” I think it’s just such a helpful way to recognize all hurt as meaningful without acting like hurt affects all of us equally.
5. Wowowow, we had so much fun playing with This [x] Does Not Exist over the weekend.
Thanks for sharing what you’ve been up to! Playing a game by committee sounds fun (as do many of the other things you listed). How have you been taking Japanese classes? As in, what is the website or program? And how are you liking it?
I’m really liking it! Today was just my fourth private lesson. I started classes by joining a group lesson online with a teacher I’ve been following on Twitter (@akokitamura), and that was really low stakes and low commitment. She has one class a week but they vary in difficulty so I was only doing that about once a month. Then she mentioned that she had other teacher friends looking for online students so I started weekly private lessons with someone else!
I am basically consumed with panic before each one, because it’s a one-on-one Zoom lesson with lots of speaking, but the panic periods are getting shorter each time so that’s good. It’s kind of funny as an adult being like “Please give me homework!!!”