Isolation (I miss you guys)

When I was thinking about my blog post a week ago, I would never have guessed it would be about Covid, but here we are! Monday, July 4, I woke up with a sore throat and dragged myself through two lectures with a negative Covid result, only to get two positives that afternoon. So I packed the stuff I needed, along with literally all the snacks I had, and went to a super secret location to isolate. (My new room is nice, but I miss talking to Sharon in the dark in our tiny dorm).

Tuesday was the field trip to White Sands, which I’m sure you’ve already read 5 blog posts about. I, on the other hand, cycled between attempting the astro pset, attempting to fall asleep, and attempting to wake up. I chugged bottles and bottles of water. (Figure 1) I stared at my phone (screentime undisclosed but very high) and thrived on pictures of the hikes and dunes and intermittent messages. And even though I was sad to miss such a great field trip, as I looked at every picture in the Snapchat over and over again, I was grinning to myself. I was so happy my friends had fun, even if I didn’t. (But I still miss taking selfies and raiding gift shops and sleeping on the bus).

I got a bottle of honey Tuesday night, and I absolutely devoured it on Wednesday. We had an amazing guest speaker, Dr. Fast, from the Planetary Defense Coordination Office, and I was able to Zoom in and get some awesome stickers thanks to Dr. Rengstrorf. Thank you so much! I found a nice surprise delivered with my lunch, too: a shirt from White Sands! (Figure 2) Mateo, Gosha, and Sriram, you guys are so thoughtful. Thank you! After the afternoon lecture, I tried to get my pset answers to not be a few hundred thousand times too large, and eventually succeeded. (Who knew that forgetting pixels in a few units could get you from 40 to 300,000? David, apparently. Thank you.) I realize there’s a lot of thank yous in this paragraph, but don’t worry, I’m not even halfway through with all my gratitude. Anyways, I got done pretty early (8:40pm? What?? That’s like morning in SSP time) and didn’t have anything to do. (Because even though I can listen to music constantly and nap in bed whenever and eat snacks without leaving the room, I miss impromptu karaoke that wakes Rohan up and losing at SSPoker. I miss sharing oranges and drawing on whiteboards and listening to piano in Driscoll).

Thursday morning, I was suddenly intrigued by an astro problem that arose from an image of three planets over Etscorn: if the ecliptic plane makes a 24.8 degree angle with the visual horizon, and latitude and longitude are known, can you determine the time the picture was taken? I got absolutely nowhere solving the question, but I did make a model of the Earth with an orange. (Figure 3) Mateo named it spherical trig orange, or SPHORANGE for short. In a break in morning lecture, Bess captured a picture of Evan, David, Gosha, and Philip working on a pset. It had the most beautiful composition, and it looked like it could be in a museum. Naturally, I started sketching it. (Figure 4) I got four cookies and zero utensils for lunch, and then it was back to lecture. The evening was fun, if your definition of fun includes six hours, not including lecture, of confusion and algebra. (Figure 5) That’s right, I was doing the math physics pset. I’d like to thank Olivia J for legitimately saving my life and also for being my emotional support this past week. Sorry! And also thank you! (I really, really miss desperately grinding psets in the computer lab and working through problems together).

And that brings us to today, Friday, 7/8/22. I’m feeling much better, thankfully, and I’m hoping to be out of isolation soon. I finished my pset early and called some friends, and things felt more normal. As I write this blog post, I want to thank some people. Thank you, Ms. Martinez, for taking care of everything I’ve needed and wanted, and for taking care of stuff that I’m sure I don’t even know about. Thank you for bringing me food, getting me honey, and making sure I’m ok. Thank you, Dr. Rengstrorf and Dr. Anderson, for setting up Zoom calls for classes and the guest speaker. Thank you to the TAs for also helping with the Covid stuff and with my psets. Thanks to all my pset collaborators (you know who you are), Olivia J for keeping me (mostly) sane through this mess, and Gosha for lending me his mouse (and for other, probably more important things). And of course, thank you to all the SSPers who have offered support and pictures through Snapchat and who come and wave at me during lecture breaks.

Maybe, when I’m finally out of isolation, I’ll miss my big room, listening to music in the shower, napping between lectures, and having my own bathroom. But then again, I don’t think I’ll really care. Because I’ll be able to chat in Driscoll until silent time (and then whisper some more) and take pictures and buy stupid shirts. I’ll get to belt Firework by Katy Perry at 11 PM and go all in on poker and cover a whiteboard in math. I’ll see my friends in person again, and that’s better than having a mansion all to myself.

(I miss you guys. See y’all soon?)

Fig. 1: Water Bottle triangle

Fig. 2: Thanks guys ❤️


Fig. 4: My sketch, “Grinding Psets” and Bess’s photo

Fig. 5: I attempt to do algebra

About me: Hi! My name is Ellie, and I’m a rising junior from Conway, Arkansas. I love math, coding, and physics, and in my free time I draw, do puzzles, play viola, and spend way too much time on the internet.