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MIT student blogger Abby H. '20

Distraction News by Abby H. '20

Your internet connection is unstable

Classes are happening again and I am not ready.

I am looking at the little boxes on Zoom and everyone seems so calm and ready to start back up again. People are giving helpful suggestions and input.

The dogs01 It's one of those fox, chicken, bag of corn problems. Dog 1 is old and hates Dog 2. If left together, they will fight. Dog 3 will start barking if Dog 1 or 2 starts barking. Dog 4 is a puppy that cannot be left unsupervised with Dog 2 because Dog 2 tried to bite him once. Dog 3 hates that she is no longer the puppy of the house and hisses (like a cat) at Dog 4, who has taken her place. Dog 2 sheds a lot, so it's best not to keep him in the living room, but he also doesn't fare well outside where he can hop the fence and bark at other non-numbered dogs. Dog 4 needs to be watched because he will eat anything off the floor. Dog 3 has pancreas issues, so you need to make sure she doesn't eat anything too fatty. Dog 1 eats cat food, Cat 1 (there is also a cat involved and currently he hates Dog 2 even though they used to live together) eats Dog 1's food, Dog 2 eats any and all food, including the special food my mom buys for Dog 3, Dog 3 only wants to eat food that a human is holding even though she secretly snuffles around on the floor for food the same way Dog 4 does, and Dog 4 will eat Cat 1's food only if Cat 1 is standing by the food, because Dog 4 bullies Cat 1. Dog 4 is biting my Achilles tendon right now. Cat 1 will tackle and bite Dog 4 if no one is looking. A knock at the front door will trigger Dogs 1-3 to bark. Dog 4 is still mostly non-verbal. Cat 1 will roll around in pollen if left outside, creating an allergen flurry for Humans 4 and 5 in the house unless we have taken antihistamines that day. have all started barking, so I turn off my video feed and go put one of them outside, one in the basement, one in a bedroom, and one on my lap.

puppy biting my hand

ow

The guest lecturer is saying something about empathy and personal growth from my kitchen counter as I swirl crepe batter around a frying pan. Can they see the mess in the kitchen? I double-check my camera, getting batter on the trackpad of my laptop.

Every time I turn my audio on to say something, a red exclamation point pops up and tells me there’s something wrong with my microphone, which is the built-in one that came with the laptop when I bought it four years ago. I don’t know where the microphone is located within the laptop, so I just switch the audio on and off until I can be heard. I will try plugging in my little Rode shotgun mic next time.

My youngest sister has walked into the room, staring at me wide-eyed and mouthing that she needs something. She walks in, four-foot-four in a big t-shirt; she starts digging around in a plastic tote in the background of my video feed.

I am in the basement listening to someone lay out a plan for the next week, and the overhead fluorescent lights just cut off.

I am in my sister’s bedroom, the only room with a desk, and I am taking down her cloth wall decoration that says “The Smiths.” No one needs to see that in the background of my Zoom call.

I am on the couch in the living room right next to the wi-fi router. The audio from the call is dragged out then sped up then silent and everyone is still for too long for it to be a natural pause. I watch as a little hazard sign pops up next to the four wi-fi bars in the bottom toolbar of my laptop screen. No internet connection. I leave the call and try to rejoin. I repeat this process four times within a two-hour period.

There is a fish tank in my sister’s bedroom that is a constant source of gurgling sounds, and a rabbit in a cage that is a constant source of rustling sounds. One of the dogs, who is a visitor, keeps pushing the door open to see the rabbit. The rabbit’s bedding is old newspapers that I shredded yesterday; we ran out of bedding.

Everyone on screen pauses, moves one or two frames, goes silent. Your internet connection is unstable.

your internet connection is unstable

well no shit!

My mom is calling.

I haven’t blogged in forever.

I need to reply to that email.

I’m running out of clean clothes.

The instructor says “What do you guys think?” and I am currently unable to think.

Do I hear a weed-eater or a chainsaw outside?

I am not sure what’s going on in this class.

I’m typing this with one hand, holding a dog with the other.

me holding a dog

please let me work

There is a small response due Wednesday for this class that involves submitting a picture and writing a little bit about the weird time we find ourselves in. I don’t know if I should send in my pictures of all the PODS lined up on Amherst Alley…

…a picture of my friends guest-hosting my final in-person show at WMBR…three co-hosts at the radio station

…a picture of our sanitary handshake…

shaking hands at a purell dispenser

feat. my excellent posture

…a picture of my chaotic good soap dispenser vandalism…02 this soap dispenser has been broken for at least two years now and it's a slap in the face how they put up signs like <em>wash your wands uwu :3</em> despite not ever fixing it!!!! so I've been buying soap this whole time for the suite bathroom and it ran out like three days before moveout so I broke open the soap dispenser and just filled up the empty soap bottle with MIT's Bagged Pink Corporate Soap soap bottle in a broken soap dispenser

…pictures of the piles of stuff being thrown away/donated due to the sudden moveout…

…a picture of packages piled up to be returned…many outgoing boxes at the front desk

…or a picture of the Muddy, closed until further notice.03 as goes the Muddy, so goes the rest of campus a sign on the door of the muddy charles that says it is closed

I have a canker sore that keeps rubbing against my right lower canine tooth. It’s been there forever and hasn’t healed any, almost as if it has as little grasp on the progression of time as I do.

In this lecture, the instructor and TAs have left their cameras on so that the guest lecturer has some human faces to look at while he presents. They smile and nod occasionally to encourage him, but an hour or so in, I can tell they’re getting tired of it. My camera is off and the clementine I’m eating burns.

My mother is a fish, Jewel’s mother is a horse, and I am a seahorse in a plastic bag slung over the side of a fish tank to bring my bag’s water temperature to equilibrium with the fish tank.

Everyone keeps walking into the living room and interrupting my class; I find myself paying more attention to potential interruptions than to the class.

My mom is walking in with groceries and is disappointed that the house hasn’t been cleaned. I’ve been babysitting animals and attempting to do work all day. I live with vocal coronavirus truthers. They go to the grocery store every day; I’m not sure why. I haven’t left the house (besides riding in a car twice) since March 16.

Someone sent me a tweet that had the word ontology in it, one of the words I can spell but whose meaning I always have to look up because my brain stopped accepting new vocabulary words some time around 2017. Other words on that list are eschatology and heuristic.

I am looking up how much a wi-fi hotspot costs.

There’s a moment of actual, non-technical silence in the lecture, and I watch the yellow halo bounce from picture to picture as background noise tricks Zoom into thinking that the tea kettle whistling in someone’s house is them speaking.

My dad calls my mom as she puts down grocery bags. He says, “I’m at the store. Do we need anything?”

Everyone has been extremely helpful and understanding and imploring people to reach out if they need help but the kind of help they can offer is not exactly the help I need because I’m not really sure what kind of help I need I just don’t have any motivation to do anything right now and I’m trying to use classes to force some motivation and structure into the blur that is living at my parents’ house but that’s so hard to do when there’s nowhere quiet for me to go and there are three other people streaming lectures and Netflix on the same wi-fi and there’s so much junk food around and the vacuum is running and I want to burn up my savings on an apartment for myself but it feels so selfish, I feel so guilty, I am so privileged to even have the option and my parents might not even let me move out but for the sake of my own sanity what am I supposed to even do if no one knows what’s going on and I keep hearing the word unprecedented but surely everything’s going to be okay even though hypothetically the worst is yet to come but could someone please tell me that this has all happened before and we learned from it but this is the most tedious stress I have ever experienced and this includes those summers in elementary school where all I would do is watch reruns of Crashbox and eat cereal and let my brain rot and I didn’t feel so fugue-y and the ennui didn’t hit as painful and soft as it does now

I told my friend I was going to write a blog post about how Zoom is terrible for people with no attention span. He said “true!!! I had to hide the other peoples’ faces because I got distracted by all the people in their houses.”

  1. It's one of those fox, chicken, bag of corn problems. Dog 1 is old and hates Dog 2. If left together, they will fight. Dog 3 will start barking if Dog 1 or 2 starts barking. Dog 4 is a puppy that cannot be left unsupervised with Dog 2 because Dog 2 tried to bite him once. Dog 3 hates that she is no longer the puppy of the house and hisses (like a cat) at Dog 4, who has taken her place. Dog 2 sheds a lot, so it's best not to keep him in the living room, but he also doesn't fare well outside where he can hop the fence and bark at other non-numbered dogs. Dog 4 needs to be watched because he will eat anything off the floor. Dog 3 has pancreas issues, so you need to make sure she doesn't eat anything too fatty. Dog 1 eats cat food, Cat 1 (there is also a cat involved and currently he hates Dog 2 even though they used to live together) eats Dog 1's food, Dog 2 eats any and all food, including the special food my mom buys for Dog 3, Dog 3 only wants to eat food that a human is holding even though she secretly snuffles around on the floor for food the same way Dog 4 does, and Dog 4 will eat Cat 1's food only if Cat 1 is standing by the food, because Dog 4 bullies Cat 1. Dog 4 is biting my Achilles tendon right now. Cat 1 will tackle and bite Dog 4 if no one is looking. A knock at the front door will trigger Dogs 1-3 to bark. Dog 4 is still mostly non-verbal. Cat 1 will roll around in pollen if left outside, creating an allergen flurry for Humans 4 and 5 in the house unless we have taken antihistamines that day. back to text
  2. this soap dispenser has been broken for at least two years now and it's a slap in the face how they put up signs like wash your wands uwu :3 despite not ever fixing it!!!! so I've been buying soap this whole time for the suite bathroom and it ran out like three days before moveout so I broke open the soap dispenser and just filled up the empty soap bottle with MIT's Bagged Pink Corporate Soap back to text
  3. as goes the Muddy, so goes the rest of campus back to text