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The Stories

A.B., a teen in Murrieta, CA

“I had to miss out on internships, summer programs, and my last year in high school. But it hasn’t been all bad. I’m lucky enough to have derived some good from the situation. I learned to better balance my life with school. I’m thankful that I figured this out before going to college. If I could give advice to others, it would be to sometimes set aside important things when you start to get overwhelmed.”

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R.S., 60, an Office Manager in Murrieta, CA

“I manage an obstetrics and gynecology office. Our business was essential and we did not have to quarantine. At the office, my job was to figure out how to keep patients and staff safe without clear guidance and limited access to medical supplies, run the business with a lower patient load and to keep staff employed. At home my job was to educate and comfort my kids.”

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N.C., a teen in Murrieta, CA

“My advice for others in quarantine would be to work on something. Find a hobby that will inspire you to become better. I took up speed-cubing during the quarantine and I have bumped my time down from about a 1:45 to consistently less than 45 seconds. I’m not that good, but I am getting better every day and it gives me something to focus on and destress with.”

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I.Z., a teen in Murrieta, CA

“…the hardest thing about quarantine is not being able to see my grandma, especially not being able to hang out with her during the holidays. My grandmother lives in another state so we would probably have to do a two week quarantine before even visiting her, but my family believes it is still too much of a risk to take. We call her on facetime, but, of course it is not the same.”

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S.M., a teen in Pleasanton, CA

“Now, that may seem selfish considering thousands of people are dying, and what I care about is the ‘high school experience,’ but look it from my perspective. Isn’t it scary enough, that in four years I have to decide what to do with my life, and now I have to find out whether I’ll get a chance to do anything? “

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O.S., a teen in Murrieta, CA

” think I felt the virus’s presence sooner than most Americans because I have family in Taiwan. When my aunt, uncle, and little cousin came to visit for Chinese New Year in February, just a month before widespread US lockdowns, my aunt spent the entire time in self-imposed quarantine. She only smiled once during her visit: when we gave her a collection of cloth masks, gifts from Taiwanese relatives that we never needed to use in the clean California air.”

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M.L.J., 73, a poet in Itasca, IL

“There’s a virus in the air, but I can’t see it.
People are dying around me, but I can’t save them.
There are spikes pierced in my back,
spasms, but I can’t touch them.”

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M.S., 27, a dancer in Matawan, NJ

“This year stopped me from living my ultimate potential in my career. I’ve struggled to make it this year, I picked up warehouse jobs and driving jobs just to pass time. My life hasn’t been the same and I’m constantly changing my path of work because of the pandemic.”

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B.N., 76, a former teacher in Murrieta, CA

“I have always been a person who has plenty to do to keep busy and haven’t minded being alone. However, being 76 years old and married to a man with a chronic lung disease has caused me to be extra careful with whom I spend time.”

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G.E., 72, an Editor, English Instructor, and Poet in Orinda, CA

“We sat together in couples
patting each other’s shoulders as we passed,
leaned across the table listening, looking carefully,
taking each other in. Your absence is breaking me.
The descending darkness brings home the loss
of all your warm and present bodies, all your arms
that held me in the doorway and all the little ones
we carried to their beds. “

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Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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