Facing the Unknown
Updated: Mar 25
Facing unprecedented changes — school closure, exam cancellations, statewide quarantines and now-bare toilet paper shelves we once took for granted — the Tesserae staff adjusts to life during a pandemic. As we return to reporting in the coming days and weeks, we share our own stories.
It's Taking a Toll
China has some disease spreading mid-December, how bad could it be?
It’s on the other end of the world, so we don’t need to worry.
It’s the end of January and suddenly it’s here.
Well, it’s in Washington state, so no need to fear?
Nope, early March and what do you know?
It’s come to NYC, so close to home.
They call it COVID-19, and it’s on every screen.
Parties, science fairs, even people; nowhere to be seen.
Soon it’s on everyone’s tongue. Concerts, plays, all postponed.
School’s still open, please don’t close.
But nope, we come home Friday to a long-awaited weekend,
Turns out it’s much more than that — a month I can’t figure out how to spend.
I create a schedule for myself at the very start, hoping to stay on routine,
Scratch that. I wasn’t even close, not even in between.
Countless hours in front of the TV, on my phone, clicking away on my laptop,
I miss the swing of things, the stress and everything being non-stop.
All year we sit praying for break, from school, work, the daily hustle,
But when we get it, nothing’s to be heard, not even a rustle.
I wash my hands 100 daily, disinfect everything I see. Our first prom could be canceled, My grades could use a boost, even the makers of AP and IB exams are confused.
I could go on and on, even write a book, a never-before-seen time in history
Is really taking a toll. The word, “corona,” which I associated with royalty,
Now reminds me of how being stuck at home isn’t as amazing as it seems.
Studying alone, FaceTiming, Housepartying, cleaning, and everything in between,
Is what our world has come to, whether we see it as a curse or a “corona” on the heads of us queens. - Ria Gupta, 11
I Am Not in This Alone
I didn't appreciate my normal until I lost it.
Don't get me wrong, I am one of the fortunate ones. We still have food in the fridge and work to go back to. It all hit me so fast though, like a giant wave. And I still haven't quite come up from the water.
I remember only days ago I was preparing for a big presentation in English. Now, who knows when we're going back to school? I think that's what is so unsettling about this whole situation. The certainty of tomorrow is lost. That's why it is so hard to take that pause from normalcy everyone seems to be on and take advantage of this time we've been given.
So sometimes, I have to step or even leap back to look at the big picture and remind myself I am not in this alone. Neither I nor the writer for The New York Times knows what's coming next and all we can do is live in that now.
And take it all day by day, together. - Alex Behn, 11
I Never Want to Forget
This week has been different than all other weeks in the year.
It is like the start of the four Passover questions: why is this night different from all other nights?
Well, it's because we're living it in the midst of a pandemic. Every day, I get used to new norms that could follow us for several more months to come. I have been working on school work from home, but since I don’t have a schedule, it is simply overwhelming to sit down and work through an endless list of math problems or answer chemistry questions when there is no sense of what it is all going towards.
Will the year even end?
Will school drag on through the summer?
No amount of coffee in the world can shake my head, and hands, of these worries, and trust me, I have tried. In this time of chemistry homework and calculations, I have decided to delve deeper into my hobbies.
I have started shooting film again, as I am fascinated with the art of photography and figured that if we fell into an apocalyptic state I would still be able to develop some film once digital was rendered useless.
I have truly just enjoyed getting out of my house a bit and photographing the things I find on my street: the wildlife, the empty stores, the environmental portraits of families walking six feet apart.
Even though I would give anything to be out of his situation right now, it is still something that I never want to forget, and hopefully, my venture into film photography will Kodak every moment along the way.
- Charlie Marshall, 11
I Don't Know What to Say
I now make $16.30 an hour.
Hazard pay, they call it, for coming during the pandemic.
Work has now become ground zero for watching the masses struggle. Everyone is quiet, because they don't know what to say or maybe they're afraid of opening their mouth when they come through my line; I don't know.
I have to limit almost every item in the store so everyone can get food, but I feel like I'm taking food out of people's mouths. I'm tired of arguing about how many canned goods people are allowed to have.
People call me rude — and other names I'd rather not repeat — under their breath. I feel their pain, but I do not know what to say to make the situation better.
Yesterday a woman almost started to cry because we have no toilet paper, I couldn't tell her everything was going to be okay, because honestly I do not know.
- Peyton Spring, 12
It Could Become Reality
In the past 10 days, my world has turned upside down.
My normally busy schedule has completely cleared out. I was supposed to have hours of week-before-the show ‘Crazy For You’ rehearsals, but the musical has been postponed indefinitely. I was practicing my flute, piano, and vocal solos for NYSSMA; that has also been canceled. So has my dance recital.
But the fact that pretty much everything I was working toward this spring is now cancelled isn’t the only way this virus has affected my life. Because my dad is an anesthesiologist at Guthrie, the danger is very real for my family.
We used to joke about quarantining my dad in our travel camper. Now, with multiple potential coronavirus cases coming into the hospital each day, our little joke might soon become reality.
One good thing about our current situation is that I have a lot more time to spend with my family and to do fun things. On a normal school day I eat dinner in the car between activities and don't get home until about 9:30, when my brother is already in bed. On a normal weekend I spend all my time studying and at various activities.
Now, I get to eat dinner with my family and play with my brother. In my free time, I run, read, bake, and watercolor. I am trying not to worry too much and appreciating the chance to slow down and enjoy the little things.
- Laura Wentzel, 10
Focus on the Small Things
In this overwhelming and stressful situation, I have found peace in the simple things in life.
Spending the quarantine listening to calming records, and spending time in the woods has allowed for the chaos to be pushed into my subconscious. Finding an escape in exploring and the emotions brought upon by music has been key in having a calm mentality about how different life is from normality.
Another thing I have found interesting is how famous people are using their outreach to comfort the general public. Rex Orange County went on Instagram live for an hour and just played the piano and sang, taking public requests to make the time pass, while Tony Hawk, at fifty-one years old, did the same thing by performing skate tricks.
Even though the world is altered and suffering, the surprising outpouring of support and kindness is remarkable to point out. For now, all you can do is focus on small things that make you happy in the comfort of your home and hope everything works itself out. With that, I find peace and tranquility.
- Cyrus Walker, 12
The Unity of the Internet
During the past few days I’ve spent at home, I’ve seen quite a mix of reactions on social media due to COVID-19. From seniors scared about their future, to celebrities diagnosed with the virus urging people to stay home, it can be reasonably stated that the coronavirus has changed everyone’s daily life in an unprecedented way.
However, I’ve realized that this unfortunate situation has brought us all so much closer together thanks to one thing — the Internet. At 12:15 pm everyday, I FaceTime my usual lunch table to catch up on our days and eat lunch together. It has allowed us to rant, laugh, cry, and everything in between. Over the course of this past week, I saw my friend Molly get attacked by her brother Jack over FaceTime. I got to see what a coronavirus test looked like while just browsing on Instagram. I learned an endless amount of TikTok dances to the point where my mom thinks it's not healthy. I played games with my Homescapes team on my phone. I texted actor Noah Centineo after he gave his number to his fans on Instagram. I even took an online live streamed ballet class with the New York City Ballet. Would I have ever gotten an opportunity to see or do these things without the need for social distancing and the Internet? I don’t think so.
Reflecting on it now, I think that this is something I’ve never cherished before— the unity of the internet. People all around the world are finding new ways to connect online, and I think it truly disproves the classic “Boomer” theory that this generation cannot build connections anymore due to our use of the Internet. Our use of technology to connect during this time has actually shown that social media and our devices are the one thing we can rely on for stability, routine, and contact with others. Most importantly, it has allowed us to know that we are not alone in these tough circumstances.
Until now, I didn’t fully realize the amount of connection social media and the Internet can bring us, and in times like these, it is what the world needs. Social distancing might be a giant pain, but I think it has done a quite ironic and powerful thing — give us the opportunity to try new experiences, and allow us to build even stronger relationships with our loved ones.
- Alivia Jiang, 10
I have become a runner-
Although I am an athlete and have been going to the gym multiple days a week for months now, running has never, in my entire life, interested me — at all. I honestly don’t even remember the last time I ran just on my own, or just with my mom.
Since the gym is closed, lacrosse is cancelled, and we happen to have just recently given all of our gym equipment away, what other choice do I have besides running? My mom asked me the other day if my dad and I wanted to tag along with her on her run. For some odd reason, I said yes and was actually excited to go exercise. I laced up my Brooks and ten minutes later walked out of the house, extremely motivated to go on my first run in probably three years.
My first run — a success! I actually survived running, and enjoyed it, for the first time in my life. This of course made me want to run even more, which was a huge surprise to me.
Running has always been super scary for me; being alone with my thoughts for the time it takes me to run a mile and a half, dying as I try to make it back to the driveway, never appealed to me. For me to be running is a huge personal accomplishment which would have never happened if I wasn’t confined to my house for weeks.
Who knew that I would be waking up early on a Saturday morning to go run a quick mile, for fun?! Although I am definitely not the fastest runner and I may still take breaks to walk in order to catch my breath, I am still getting in the exercise needed to live a healthy life.
Although COVID-19 isn’t a great thing, making personal improvements and being motivated to try new things — instead of binge-watching Netflix for three weeks — is.
What new improvement can you make in the next couple of weeks?
- Lorren Perry, 12