May 31, 2020

*Note – Full versions of each contributor’s May reflection can be found by clicking their full name at the bottom of this post or from the table on the project overview page.

Reflection Prompt 1:

How did you feel today? (What thoughts are on your mind on this last day of May and what caused you to feel that way?)


K [Korea] It’s a bad joke, really. I’m aghast but not surprised that yet another murder has been committed by a police officer back in the U.S.

This is not the first time, and sadly as we have seen LITERALLY DURING PROTESTS, people will be abused and killed in the future unless meaningful action is taken. Having worked with middle and high school students for so long, I get the context, the inclination to not want to do work you’ve been told to do, but in the scope of what’s happened lately, I wonder what the lazier kids in school think now? Are they more inclined to believe the lies of politicians trying to game them for their own gain?

Do they spout harmful rhetoric like “All Lives Matter”?

If I could ask them right now, “When did America stop oppressing and systemically disenfranchising BIPOC?” what would they answer? Do people know about the drug wars? Redlining? Effectively racist school funding policies? Defunding of essential community welfare programs? My friends certainly seem to know, but their parents, and particularly white ones aren’t beholden to jack shit.

I’m livid.

I’m fucking livid.

These people, they’re so smug but they don’t have to answer to anyone. It’s infuriating that their biases and ignorant takes on important issues are never challenged in any meaningful way and that they’re allowed to isolate themselves so easily from communities of color or struggling areas literally within drivable distance of their homes.

E [US] – A surprisingly busy and social day in the midst of Corona “disappearing” (taken with all the proper social distancing precautions). I’d been feeling pretty pent-up and anxious due to the amount of video interviews I’d been doing recently and really just needed to get out of the house and clear my mind. John and I stopped by a local cafe (the local coffee shop had terrible coffee) and ordered two cups of brewed coffee—black.

I was honestly kind of appalled at the fact that the order to wear masks had quite literally been lifted a few days prior and not a single person inside the café was wearing masks or maintaining distance. We left as fast as we soon as we could.

After that, I was feeling great and wanted to go to another park just to relax and celebrate the dissolution of my anxiety in nature. That park, however, had a few too many people and didn’t really make me feel comfortable about celebrating, so we decided to head home. Along the way, we saw a garage sale and decided to try our luck, the first garage sale of the season is almost always a disappointment. However, we ended up picking up some cool glass photo frames and Blockus, which I was going to buy on Amazon anyway!

Then, just as we got home, John’s brother called and asked if we wanted to go kayaking with him and his girlfriend. “Kayaking?” I said, incredulous because I’d asked John to take me to a park with water and he said he didn’t know of any nearby. A mere five minute drive from his house, we arrived at a dammed-up lake and spent a while fishing and kayaking around. A busy day. 

Gigi [NYC] This has been a heartbreaking and enraging weekend for the United States. George Floyd’s murder by four Minneapolis police officers has sparked protests across the country, some places also having looting and rioting in protest of the systemic mental illness that grips this nation. I am angry. I am sad. I want change.

My day began with a text from a client asking me to walk her dogs, which I happily did, grateful for the distraction, and afterwards headed home for coffee and breakfast. I then spent some time sending off some pyrography art I had recently finished for a friend. She is such a kind and grateful person, it had been lovely to message her over those days when I was burning her pieces. 

Coming back from the post office, I stumbled upon a small protest on 2nd avenue, blocking traffic. A young black man was making an emotional speech.

Everyone took a knee, I joined them. I became overwhelmed, reading all of the Black Lives Matter signs, hearing this man’s words. Seeing many kneel, some raising their fists. I don’t think I was able to breathe that much.

I had been telling myself to stay off of social media, it was only fueling my heartbreak, but in that moment, I decided it was more important to share what I was seeing, spread the movement as far as it could go on my very small social media platform. So I took some pictures of the signs/crowd, and shared them on Facebook.

Once home again, I spent the rest of the evening trying to comfort myself with some quality father-daughter time by cutting his hair and watching anime. I saw that my favorite YouTubers had posted a video regarding the state of the nation. I cried watching the video and promptly donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund afterwards. I was so tired. I’m so tired. I checked Facebook once more before calling it a night, and saw my conservative relative tried to take a subtle stab at me with the Facebook post from earlier. I called her out on her bullshit, clapping hard back. I hope that shut her up.

Popped a melatonin and slipped away to odd dreams.

N [Chicago] – Today has been a mixture of emotions. The actual crux of my day has been really nice–I cleaned my apartment and I just feel so much joy being here.  It feels more and more like “home.”  As a reward for being so productive this morning, I allowed myself to be lazy for the afternoon and watch Scooby Doo on HBOMax.  Scooby Doo just reminds so much of my childhood, so it was a perfectly nostalgic show to spend my Sunday watching. After that, I prepped for the upcoming week and month.  By all accounts, today was a really good and productive day. 

NS [Chicago] Today was one of the first weekend days in a long time that didn’t feel restricted by quarantine. Illinois is undergoing a five-stage plan for re-opening and we’re currently in stage 3 ‘recovery’. The overall Restore Illinois plan was meant to flatten the curve and slow the spread of Covid-19, but times are strange and I feel like we all have a lot more that we need to ‘recover’ from. 

I woke up early with plans to head back into the city and actually do things with other people, which sounds idiotic as I type it out but this kind of simple day-to-day occurrence felt almost impossible a couple of months ago.  It’s strange to be in a city of over three million people and see people confused about whether to wear masks or not, indecisive (or ambivalent) about what their social responsibility and how to feel fulfilled. 

For me, playing tennis has been one of the best ways to stay active and have an outlet for my energy. The sun on a bright spring day, the calm breeze of Lake Michigan, and the ability to play tennis with friends I haven’t seen since the start of March all combined to provide a great release for my stress.

After I left tennis in Roger’s Park (northern Chicago), I was making my way downtown (insert Vanessa Carlton pun here) and faces certainly were not passing quickly. All of Lake Shore Drive was shut down due to protests and looting that were occurring in response to recent police violence against black citizens.

George Floyd was yet another victim of police violence and ingrained racism and to me, it’s wild that the madness of the world continues on even as we’re all collectively facing an invisible enemy like the novel coronavirus.  

I finally arrived in Gold Coast after a lengthy drive down smaller streets and I was surprised to see everyone acting so cavalier, walking their dogs and enjoying the sunshine.

Just last night, stores had been looted and gatherings had gotten pretty incited, but you’d never be able to tell in the light of day.

I spent the afternoon with a potential romantic interest (who I had met before the quarantine period) and it was simultaneously nice to remember that normal growing pains like dating still existed and weird to think that things may be returning to “normal” after a 2.5 month stall.

Paige [Korea]

Today was… relieving?

It sounds like a weird way to phrase the contents of this day but as a whole, this fits the best.

I had woken up after a few hours of sleep at an Airbnb with some friends for a birthday celebration (we stayed in our place, don’t worry about chiding me~) and after bidding them farewell, I hopped over to a favorite brunch place nearby (shoutout to Grain in Yeonnam-dong in Seoul!) to meet a Fulbright friend from my original cohort. We had just beat the lunch crowd and chomped on delicious brunch food while catching up on the various life changes that had been mainly spurred on by coronavirus shaking up the world.

It was nice to have that outlet, and we continued for a few hours more at a nearby coffee shop. The calm of that after the wild and loud birthday party of the night before (while I love loud and noisy and wild things) was really refreshing, because while I’ve not had a lack of deep conversations because of all the extra quarantine time, I have lacked having them in person. I topped the night off with a late night call to a friend in America, and the last instance of “relieving” in this day was finally watching the finale of season 12 of Rupaul’s Drag Race and knowing who won, rather than having to avoid all social media to avoid spoilers!

Reflection Prompt 2:

How would you frame your day (answer to the first question) to a complete stranger?

K [Korea]  I’ve been reflecting a lot on why the US just can’t seem to get it right when it comes to race relations. It almost seems like I’m ramming my head into the wall every time I have to explain to somehow how despite legislation being passed in the 60’s that outlawed lots of overtly racist practices, the lack of proper enforcement of those laws coupled with other more subtle forms of economically and socially racist policies that were enacted by people who didn’t like the civil rights movement have still guaranteed an unjustifiably slow recovery of BIPOC individuals from centuries of legal slavery, disenfranchisement, and harassment.

Too many people think they’re “not racist” but not enough of them are “anti-racist” and it’s a BIG problem, as when people don’t recognize their benefits from a system set up by those before them, but are also members of the traditional power castes, they tacitly endorse that system. It’s irresponsible at best and evil at worst, and I hear hardliners spout about what is or isn’t patriotic a lot, but I would certainly characterize inaction on this front to be antithetical to what America should stand for.

E [US] – I had a really busy day! I went to a park and did some writing and figured some stuff out about what I want to do in my future, went garage sale-ing (while maintaining social distance!), and met up with my boyfriend’s brother to do some kayaking. 

Gigi [NYC] I had a few dog walks from my number one client, always good to see the pups! I also sent some of my art to a friend, she is so kind, I really hope she likes them! I made her a hand-in-heart burn and a burned version of her own original art! I also came across a protest, of which I joined for a while. You know how our country is falling apart, right? Yea, I don’t need to explain. 

I then FINALLY cut my dad’s hair, he had been asking for weeks! I think it came out well considering I have absolutely no training!! I then spent the evening watching my favorite anime, Hunter X Hunter. I never conserved myself an anime person but HOT DAMN is this show MAGNIFICENT!

NS [Chicago] The sun shone brightly all over Chicago, but not bright enough to magically light up a Chicago street parking spot for my benefit. Thanks to my usual tardiness and the collective want of Chicagoans to finally get outside again, I was only a mere 20 minutes late to my tennis date.

And after the tennis date, I even managed to have a real date. I don’t know why I would play tennis first and then go hang out with a guy I’ve been interested in for a while all sweaty and gross (maybe I’m subconsciously self-sabotaging). At this stage of life and this point in societal growth and change, I don’t know what’s normal for dating anymore. I’m also not sure what I really want out of it, but hopefully the second half of the year will give me some clarity that I need to be more productive with my dating life.

Long story short, I’ll keep trying with dating and putting myself out there (as much as I can), but tennis will be my main focus for now.

Paige [Korea] I had a great long life talk over a delicious brunch with a friend, and spent the night relaxing at home and catching up on some things that needed to be done.

It was nice to have that outlet, and we continued for a few hours more at a nearby coffee shop. The calm of that after the wild and loud birthday party of the night before (while I love loud and noisy and wild things) was really refreshing, because while I’ve not had a lack of deep conversations because of all the extra quarantine time, I have lacked having them in person. I topped the night off with a late night call to a friend in America, and the last instance of “relieving” in this day was finally watching the finale of season 12 of Rupaul’s Drag Race and knowing who won, rather than having to avoid all social media to avoid spoilers!

Reflection Prompt 3:

What’s on your “quarantine ending/life returning to normal” bucket list and what are unique things on your overall life bucket list?

K [Korea]  COVID ruined both my plans to go home and any races I was planning to do in Korea, and sadly I have neither the means to really do either even if the opportunities suddenly presented themselves. I’m awful at summer racing and I won’t have the chance to go home for break until December after my first semester of graduate school. That all seems kind of bleak, but I’m not too worried I suppose?

I’ve never made a bucket list, though there are plenty of travel destinations and goals I would be happy to accomplish, such as learning more languages, better understanding history, and getting to a few more continents before my inevitable demise. In the immediate future, it’d be great to get to Vietnam and Taiwan, and overall, I just have some really good friends I’ve not seen in forever that would be a site for sore eyes.

E [US] – There are so many things on my quarantine bucket list:

  • Share food (any type of food) with friends and family. I love communal meals and they’re just not possible right now. 
  • Be able to talk to strangers comfortably. There’s been so many people whom I wish I could have interacted with, but again, that’s not just something we can do right now.

I feel like my regular bucket list is just as ordinary. 

  • Bungee-jump / skydive / many other ‘extreme sports’
  • Live in another country (again)
  • Spend a night in all 50 states
  • Open a café / coffee shop

Gigi [NYC] 

Moving to Norway for grad school.

Seeing my girlfriend again in Denmark (I think by the time we will feasibly be able to see each other again, it will have been 10-11 months apart).

Seeing my sister get married at her venue (Venues like hers aren’t projected to open until September).

Grabbing drinks with pals.

Visiting pals in different cities.

Booking (and going) for a weekend to a tropical destination with my sister and her bridal party (the bachelorette weekend was cancelled due to the pandemic).

Being able to start my new summer job.

NS [Chicago]

Quarantine Ending Bucket List

  • Take a cooking class with Michael and successfully make something edible
  • Take a trip out the west coast (Oregon) with close friends and relax along the beach for a week
  • Explore Chicago (because I’m probably moving :D)
  • Spend more quality time with the people I love
  • All-you-can-eat Korean bbq in Chicago

Life Bucket List

  • Learn more languages and continue improving Korean and Spanish
  • Learn how to love and accept love
  • Join more activities and talk to people with more than just small talk
  • Figure out how I can best use my talents to shape the world and my own path and happiness

Paige [Korea] As someone who has been in Korea during this whole “quarantine / social distancing” period, I haven’t ever actually been on a mandated lockdown, but that being said, I have done much more social distancing and tried to keep to the rules but also still let myself enjoy little things sometimes? I’m smart about it, though.

I think the two things I want the most for “life returning to normal” is to be able to socialize without fear of social judgment and not having to wear masks. I think it will take a long time for these to be realized, sadly, but since I have been able to go places if I please (restaurants or some shopping or small get-togethers with friends and my dance academy – NOT the clubs), I want to be able to go to these places again without having to worry that someone who doesn’t know the situation in Korea to get on my case about me not doing my job for the greater good. 

Also, I really despise wearing masks and can’t wait to breathe freely once again (especially in dance classes – it’s like waterboarding dancing with a mask on in a humid studio haha but we do it to keep safe!). 

I suppose one more thing that I want back badly is to be able to go to concerts and performances again. I miss seeing concerts and idols I love, as well as I miss being able to be onstage performing improv comedy for audiences. I have my students back in the classroom so I get a little of that performance aspect but the mask aspect also is a bit suffocating when you are as animated in the classroom as I am. ㅋㅋㅋ 

Find each contributor’s full-length May 31st reflections using the links below:







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