• Harris Solomon and Nicole Kohut

Don’t You Just Love Quarantining in LA?

Updated: Mar 2

Affirmative

By Harris Solomon


It’s soft and warm inside my bed. I’m dreaming about ahi tuna and equitable wealth redistribution when a soothing melody gently awakens me from my slumber. It’s Ronaldo, a cheeky house finch who frequents the radiator outside my window, greeting the day with a song. He has a name now because we have established a rapport; quarantine has really given me time to connect with nature.


At first, I thought it would be hard to adjust to a life without the familiar charms of Columbia dorms—low water pressure, walls made of looseleaf paper, and partial nudity in the hallways. But after a couple minutes of mental adjustment, I realize how lucky I am to be living in the greatest city since the Venice of the Renaissance: Los Angeles, California.


My house overlooks much of UCLA, a comforting daily reminder that I attend a slightly superior academic institution. As I walk into the living room, my younger brother, an aspiring musician and former Disney Channel celebrity, is filming both intellectually stimulating and mildly humorous Tik Toks by the fireplace. My mother, a gourmet chef at a renowned catering company, asks me what I want for breakfast. “Surprise me!” I say. It is always a pleasant surprise. I wish my father were here, but he is busy coordinating the efforts of three different emergency medicine departments, and they need all hands on deck. It’s wonderful to see him open our door to an applauding crowd every morning, but sometimes I wish they’d keep it down.


Illustration by Sahra Denner

The best part about LA is that it’s a city, but it’s also an environmental haven. I like to take walks to the local dog park between my classes to clear my head. To debunk a common misconception: even though the city is practicing social distancing, it’s still easy to meet new people! For example, I recently infiltrated the social circle of a group of high-ranking mothers in the neighborhood PTA. Karen, the undisputed leader of the pack, likes me because I remind her of her nephew, and we enjoy talking about how Matthew’s principal isn’t being proactive enough about hiring teachers who are willing to think outside the box. Lisa, another mom, is alright, and she lets me pet her dog. Janice is a total buzzkill, but we keep her around because her husband is Paul Giamatti’s agent.


Hungry? They don’t call Los Angeles (and parts of Orange County) the food capital of the world for nothing. I got tired of ordering take-out after a while and decided to camp out at Whole Foods at 4:00 a.m. with my excess energy and newfound purpose. Once the store opened, I realized I wasn’t really hungry anymore, but decided to peruse the aisles to pass the time. The last jar of sugar-free cashew yogurt? Never tried it, and it sounds disgusting, but why not see what all the fuss is about? Whole Foods is crazy!


On a recent afternoon, I got the urge to surprise my father during his 32-hour hospital shift with a delicious Animal Style burger, but my car broke down on the way to In-N-Out. Did you know that just because they call it a “drive-thru” doesn’t mean you have to drive thru it? Jogging is better for the environment and burns calories, thus making the order a reward. My father gave me an air hug in his scrubs, and through tears told me how much I meant to him. I was home just in time for my last Zoom class!


Zoom University in the City of Los Angeles? Filling out my transfer application!



Negative

By Nicole Kohut


The birds outside my window wake me up at approximately 7:00 a.m. It’s fine, though, because the recurring dream I’ve had since coming home has helped me to acclimate to intermittent sleep cycles. It goes like this: I’m stuck in a dark well, and Jason Aldean’s “Big Green Tractor” is playing on repeat. Matzo is my only food source. The only way to escape is to pass a Fro Sci exam from 2012—without the curve. I call this a dream because the true nightmare occurs when I wake for the day and face the cruel, unforgiving hell in which COVID-19 has forced me to reside: Los Angeles, California.


We know that despite its formal title, the ‘City’ of Los Angeles is merely a sprawling suburb. Right now, in New York, you can take an isolated walk, only disrupted once in a while by a blaring siren–but, let’s be honest, if you’ve lived in New York long enough, you’re partially acclimated to that anyway. I live near UCLA, so my walks are a daily reminder that the joys of higher education have been stripped from my wanton hands. There are also children. Everywhere. The PTA moms walk their dogs at least six times a day, facetiming other PTA moms to try figuring out what they’re going to do without their PTA events. And now that there are no events at which to strut one’s diamond-encrusted Louis Vuitton pouch, perfectly paired with one’s blow-dried pooch, the daily neighborhood stroll has become something of a haute couture runway.

Illustration by Sahra Denner

Forced to flee from this assault on the senses, I committed to the lifestyle of a hermit. Eventually, I ran out of food. That’s when I remembered LA’s only claim to fame: driving. It occurred to me that in the age of quarantine, the streets would be blessedly rid of traffic, and that Angelenos’ typical destinations would be equally empty. But upon my arrival at Whole Foods, I realized Angelenos are defying their order to stay at home in deference to their cravings for bone broth and oat milk. I waited three hours to get in, only to find that the store had been stripped of my sugar-free cashew yogurt.


While the extra dose of my morning Adderall should’ve suppressed any pesky appetite, the emotional toil of the Whole Foods fiasco left me ravenous, so I hopped into my car and went to In-N-Out. Everyone knows the rules: You clog up an entire intersection to line up for your burger, because waiting in the drive-thru fosters more of a retro-vintage vibe than going inside the restaurant. Well, at least that’s what I thought, until some guy jogged right in front of my car and cut the line to order a burger. Newsflash! Just because you can jog does not mean you’re a motor vehicle. Stop showing off.By the time I got my burger, it was cold. Of course, they’re always cold, so I wasn’t surprised. It was just another reminder that this is the best Los Angeles has to offer. I went home to finish up my last Zoom class of the day. With my entire family home, the prospect of peaceful silence laughed in my face, but going outside wasn’t an option either (see: unvaccinated children aimlessly roaming the streets.) I would have been able to endure class if Harris Solomon, a member of my CC class, hadn’t produced the most distracting show of all time. He told our class he just “had to sit outside because the weather was so lovely and the birds were serenading him.” His love affair with his environment almost made me throw up my burger, but I can’t help but wish I were quarantining in his world.

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