5 Self-based Surprises (Thanks to COVID-19)


The nationwide quarantine caused by the COVID-19 outbreak was in of itself a surprise to all of us. The sudden shift in day to day life has been a total eye opener on both a small and large scale. Personally, I’ve learned a lot of new things about myself that have come as a total surprise; maybe it’s a new perspective gained from the thought of a decade-long pandemic beyond the scale of the Spanish Flu of the early 20th century, or just being locked inside with my siblings and odd ruminations for weeks on end. Anywho, here’s a list of five things that came as a surprise to me personally.

1. I Look Darn Good With Facial Hair
Due to the incessant need to look somewhat professional at any given time, something that has seen itself developed with age, until recently I’d never actually taken the time to grow out my facial hair to any noticeable extent. My peers will testify that they’ve seen the scraggly neck hair I grow out over a week, but beyond that I’ve never seen myself putting the razor down. Besides one full shave early into quarantine, I haven’t used my brand new straight razor and shaving gel nearly at all. As Kronk from ​The Emperor’s New Groove (​ 2000) might say: “Oh yeah, it’s all coming together.” Maybe it’s the Travolta patch, maybe it’s the stylistically dated Scot-chops. Who knows! Either way, as long as you don’t admit the silent truth that the stache will grow into McConaughey’s Dazed and Confused​ (1993) lip-brow, we’re all good.

2. Taking A Break From Writing was A Good Thing
From The Ridge Review, to my own novel ​Culprit Midwest ​and its accompanying bits of poetry, to the nasty paragraphs of text messages I’ve had to angrily send to my friends during their bouts of stupidity, there have been a lot of outlets for me to funnel my creative writing skills into over the past year. With this being the case, I can assuredly say that the involuntary-break I’ve gotten thanks to the viral outbreak has been nothing but beneficial in honing my writing skills. Burning out, or the inevitable brick wall that is writer’s block are both horrifying potentialities to any inspired author. They’re spurred by one thing: writing too much. Getting that immediate break from writing made me go cold turkey, for sure, but since then I’ve seen myself writing over longer spans of time. Holding onto more inspiration than ever before, I must admit maybe too much concentration focused on a student-run newspaper can take a legitimate toll on anyone.

3. I Actually Love People (Though I Still Hate Them)
I’m not very sociable, or personable, or peoplegenic. Hm, frankly it’s not because I’m an introvert, more so because my peers (and most supposed adults) just annoy me. That’s not based out of angst or edginess or condescension, it’s only based out of truth. Even so, I’ve found myself depressed by the sudden shift in day-to-day human interaction I was once able to immerse myself in. I miss my heroes, my villains and everyone in between. I’ve held a spitfire tongue for so long, I really can’t stand being unable to use it. Perhaps it’s entirely for selfish reasons, or maybe not; I just can’t wait to accept all the people that I’ve been used to for so long back into my life (that in of itself being something that I neither imagined myself saying nor ever necessarily wanted to). Of course, I miss everyone that I cherish in Newspaper and will probably be ecstatic by the time I launch into class as Editor in Chief. I guess I’m just a Grinch (Jim Carrey’s), even through all the initial anger I need some love from those around me.

4. ​I Can Cook
Whodathunk? I spend so much time on the keyboard, or washing dishes at work; usually I have a pen in my hand. I guess with all of that combined it came as a bit of a surprise that I can actually cook fairly well. Of course I’m no Ramsay, sticking to simple dishes that can reside in a pan alone over a gas stove, yet everything I’ve made has been beyond acceptable (so far.) My one kitchen sin has been that I do, sadly, douse everything that I make in cumin and sage. At the same time, I don’t really ever use butter. Maybe I’m just a madman in the kitchen who has no idea what he’s talking about, or maybe I have magic hands, the world may never know. Either way I can make a good chicken filet paired alongside a cup of hot chocolate spinned with some Saigon cinnamon.

5. I Actually Kind of Like Rap Music
Okay, let me defend myself here. Most modern rap is the quality equivalent of a dumpster grease-fire on Mardi Gras. With that out of the way, a select few artists have really caught my attention recently. Quarantine has allowed me to branch out musically, with many new beats also acting as inspiration for practice with my upcoming choir performances next year. I’ve been sticking to Alex Ebert’s ​I vs. I ​(2020), with absolutely no regret. Perhaps rap, or the weird folk rock-rap I’ve been listening to isn’t necessarily my new go-to music, but it has been great for writing and studying.