April 23, 2020

When This is Over

By Christine Trotter

Evening Writing Effectively II Class–Top Left to Right: Priscilla Karant, Marianna Plata, Zoya Ustmenko; Second Row: Mercedes Paz Rijo, Alina Kulikova, Yura Makarov; Third Row: Rich Fujii, Paula Zorilla, Roy Chen

As an assignment, ELI instructor Priscilla Karant recently had students in two of her classes read an article in The New Yorker titled “When This Is All Over” by Alex Watt–a humorous take on the many things the author looks forward to once quarantine has been lifted. (Haven’t we all been going there lately?)

Using the article as a prompt, Priscilla had the students in each class break into groups and create their own lists. Here is a sample of what came up. 

Daytime Comprehensive English Class–Top Left to Right: Yuhan Wangliu, Arina Kochena, Priscilla Karant, Helen Wang; Middle Row: Yifan Si, Hiroto Yoshimori, Louise Amar, Tom Shalom; Bottom Row: Xueli Yan, Angela Santamaria, Yoko Suzuki

  • When this is all over, I will buy as much bubble tea as I can. Bubble tea with brown sugar, salty milk foam in a delicate plastic cup. I will ignore the calories, and just enjoy the pleasure of the salty and sweet taste.
  • When this is all over, I will quit cooking for a month, and that means I won’t need to wash dishes ever again. Every day, I will go to different restaurants located in different areas of the city. I will never complain about how far the restaurant is, how crowded the subway is.
  • When this is all over, I will talk to every stranger who I meet on the road. I will forget that I’m a shy Asian, and will say “How are you?” or “I like your outfit!” or “It’s a great sunny day, isn’t it?” and in the end say, “Have a good day!” smiling at them.
  • When this is all over, I will never watch YouTube. If I want to see something, I will go outside to see beautiful green grass and smell the flowers and hold someone’s hand.  I will be able to feel the warmth.
  • When this is all over, I’m getting a haircut. Even though fashion experts claim that long hair and beards are going to be in vogue this season, I don’t quite agree with them. 
  • When this is all over, I’m going to celebrate all my friends’ birthdays that I missed out on. Hopefully, they won’t expect me to buy presents with the $1200 stimulus check from the government.
  • When this is all over, I’m heading to the grocery store with $1200 from the government and I’m not buying a single roll of toilet paper.
Class group with teacher

Daytime Comprehensive English Class–Top Left to Right: Angela Santamaria, Yifan Si, Vincent Ko, Priscilla Karant, Louise Amar, Xueli Yan, Helen Wang, Tom Shalom; Front Row: Yoko Jin, Arina Kochneva, Yuhan Wangliu, Hiroto Yoshimori

  • When this is all over, even Venetians won’t complain about the tourists and even New Yorkers won’t complain about the crowds at Times Square.
  • When this is all over, I’ll finally get out of my pajamas and I’ll sleep in my fanciest dress.
  • When this is all over, I will never answer my parents’ phone calls. Instead, I will buy a ticket to fly to them so that I can talk to them in person while holding their hands.
  • When it is all over, I will contact my ex again. Not because of love, but because of appreciation. I appreciate that he hasn’t bothered me during this crazy quarantine–that is, if he is still alive.
  • When this is all over, I will never spend all day at home no matter how bad the weather is. If it’s pouring, I will go out naked to take a shower outside not inside; if it’s steamy, I will go out naked to have a sauna outside not inside.
  • When this is all over, I will take the subway morning, noon and night. I will enjoy having someone lean against me and I will even enjoy feeling somebody’s high heel piercing my foot.

What will you do once quarantine is over? Let’s dream big!

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The student writers who contributed to this post are in Writing Effectively II in ELI’s Professional English Program or Advanced Reading/Writing in ELI’s Comprehensive English Program.

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