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Day 3

Greetings, fellow humans! Today is March 20.

Today has been absolutely wild. Well, “wild” might be a bit of an overstatement given the fact I think I spent roughly six hours in the same horizontal position on the couch reading. Save for the few breaks I allowed myself, and my “early” 10 a.m. start on Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology homework, I had my head in a book for almost a quarter of the day.

The morning was bleak, and the sun could never seem to break the cloud cover, so time passed monochromatically. While I’ve put in some time for my classes during the last two days, today was the first day of the “break” when I truly sat down and made myself complete assignments. For AP Psych, our teacher assigned us a reading about the psychology of people’s responses during a pandemic, specifically regarding their desire to purchase toilet paper.

I’d heard jokes from my peers and friends about how during quarantine showering starts to feel like a hobby, and I’m beginning to agree.”

While the reading itself was nothing I hadn’t already seen or heard about, I found looking into the psychological principles behind human behavior interesting, especially regarding mob/herd mentality and how it can influence one’s actions. After finishing a few short answer questions attached to the text and chowing down on an egg sandwich, I decided to switch gears and focus on AP Literature.

To unwind and calm my mind last night before falling asleep, I began reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which was one of four choices I had to select from for our current dystopian unit. The others included George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I had already read 1984 and planned to read Brave New World, but I had never heard of The Road before. So, I thought, “Why not?”

“Perhaps saying ‘dont’ and ‘havent’ is simply a commentary on the degradation of language and grammar in a post-apocalyptic world, but as a lover of proper punctuation it was purely painful.”

Well, here’s why not!

I expected the novel to be of the classic dystopian variety where a protagonist heroically fights the evils of humanity and society in an epic journey to defend good and righteousness. Instead I entered a book where the three most popular words seemed to be “gray,” “ash” and “okay.” While I can understand a story without a traditional plot (or even a relatable character) what I can’t get behind is an entire 287 pages where the author can’t seem to punctuate contractions correctly. Perhaps saying “dont” and “havent” is simply a commentary on the degradation of language and grammar in a post-apocalyptic world, but as a lover of proper punctuation it was purely painful. 

Last night I had read the first 20 or so pages, so I knew what to expect: death, ash and an overall depressing outlook that makes the reader both fear and despise humanity. You know, the perfect light reading during a pandemic. 

Senior Bailey Stover reads author Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Photo by Robin Stover.

To maintain my own sanity, I decided to finish the entire book in one day so I didn’t have to drag the cannibalism, illness and emaciation out any longer than absolutely necessary. I broke my reading goals into 20 page increments, and every 100 pages I took a 20-minute break to numb my mind with happy, thoughtless television in the form of the show “Outmatched” on Hulu, which follows the comedic lives of two parents with four children, three of whom are geniuses. While some may suggest reading be an activity for one to take time to enjoy, I would offer this counterproposal: When the novel centers around a father and son living in a dystopian society surrounded by corpses burned to roads, perhaps the reader is better suited to complete the book sooner rather than later. In my case, I finished an emotional marathon with the record pace of an Olympic sprinter. 

I am certain there are critics and readers out there who have absolutely loved The Road, but I am not one of them. I can appreciate the author’s careful attention to detail, his precise and expansive language and even his apparently extensive knowledge of the effects of starvation on the human body, but reading hundreds of pages featuring humanity at its worst was a little more than my heart and soul could handle. 

I am taking this time to enter the 21st century by learning how to use Instagram.”

Luckily for me, however, I was able to wash away the plot (literally and figuratively) with a relaxing shower after finishing. I then shared a delicious home-cooked meal with my parents and at last shook thoughts of The Road from my brain. I’d heard jokes from my peers and friends about how during quarantine showering starts to feel like a hobby, and I’m beginning to agree. It is difficult to motivate myself to care much for personal hygiene or appearance when I’m only seeing the same three people day in and day out. Unlike when I had a regular schedule of school and sports that required me to leave the house and be in others’ presence, now I have nowhere to be and no one to be in contact with.

That being said, I am taking this time to enter the 21st century by learning how to use Instagram. There have been messages on people’s stories about sharing body-positive photos, drawing carrots and tomatoes and passing on kind messages, so after a friend nominated me, I decided to post on my Instagram story for the first time ever. I was able to successfully navigate using the various buttons and nominated a few people

“I’ve always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is and not as you would like them to be.”

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

myself. I think this was my first real step into embracing the upside of having and using social media as a way to truly connect with others. While I do not support the negativity and pain some social media use can cause, I do think during a time of social distancing platforms like Instagram enable users to remain in contact and, when used how I’ve seen on other people’s stories and posts, to disseminate important information and spread love and kindness.

I hope everyone can pass on a little love, generosity, kindness and joy today.

“I’ve always loved you, and when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as he or she is and not as you would like them to be.” — Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

How did you spend your third day of social distancing? Let us know in the comments below.

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