"Sometimes I enjoy being at home, all snuggled up in my bedroom. Other times I feel as if I am trapped."

June 1, 2020

Hi everybody! To be honest, I held off on writing this for a bit in hopes that something super exciting would happen for me to write about, but this week just felt like any other week. A regular week is better than a bad week, so I cannot complain.

Fortunately, my mom and I got the chance to see my older brother, who we haven’t seen in months because of the quarantine. My brother is a registered nurse, so throughout this whole pandemic, he has refrained from seeing us and isolated himself in the process. He and I regularly quarrel with one another, as siblings usually do. Still, I will say that not seeing him for so long was very unsettling. I constantly worried about his health, and it made me feel bad that he had to quarantine alone. Though this crisis isn’t exactly over, promptly seeing him in good shape made me feel hopeful that it will be soon. He even brought us cupcakes from a place called Huascar & Co., which apparently won Cupcake Wars a few years book! They were incredibly delicious, and I really recommend it for you all to try! I would say that they’re worth its price, but since I didn’t pay for them, I wouldn’t know!

I also went on a social-distanced walk this week with a close friend of mine. I’m surprised my mom allowed me to, as she has been strict with this whole self-quarantine thing. She understood that my mental health was practically deteriorating while being at home 24/7. I was initially nonchalant about it, but now I experience mood swings. Sometimes I enjoy being at home, all snuggled up in my bedroom. Other times I feel as if I am trapped. 

Going back to my walk, I made sure that I took the necessary precautions we should be, and I ended up walking a whole two miles alongside my friend! I had an awfully nice view of nature. It felt deeply satisfying to finally be meet up with her and talk about everything this quarantine has forced us to internalize. As some of you may know from my last blog, I recently lost a close friend named Stef. Though I have been trying to grieve in the healthiest ways possible, I genuinely hate that this quarantine isn’t allowing me to properly memorialize Stef. I feel as if she deserves better, which further upsets me. Some of you who read my last blog took it upon yourselves to check up on me, which I greatly appreciate.

Knowing that I have a solid community here at Bottom Line makes me feel better during these trying times, so I just want to take a moment to say thank you. Your support does not go unnoticed.

I wonder what the end product of this quarantine will be. I wonder what our new normal will look like, and whether or not I’ll have a hard time adjusting to it. I don’t think I’ve ever contemplated as much as I have during this quarantine, but I feel like doing so has been healthy. It’s allowing me to create expectations for the future, which in turn has helped me set goals. Things to look forward to. I hope that you’re all doing the same.

May you all have a wonderful week, and don’t forget to come back next week to check out my new blog. It makes me feel good!! See you all soon.

"I want everyone reading this to take some time out of your day to give thanks for the life you have. Appreciate who and what you have around you and express how much love you have for them."

May 21, 2020

I want to start this blog by prefacing that this week has been one of the most difficult weeks I've had in a while. I just lost one of my best friends to COVID-19, which breaks my heart tremendously.

She had been hospitalized for a few months now, yet I remained hopeful that she would get better. When I received the news of her passing a few days ago, I felt completely devastated. I'm still in disbelief up to this very moment. It's hard to process that my friend, someone so young, so full of life, and so goal-oriented, was stripped of the opportunity to create a life for herself.

With that being said, I want everyone reading this to take some time out of your day to give thanks for the life you have. Appreciate who and what you have around you and express how much love you have for them. Never in a million years did I think I would lose someone so dear to me at such a young age. I wish I had the chance to tell her how much I valued her as my friend.

One positive thing about this week is that I am finally done with two of my AP courses. I took the AP Calculus exam this past Tuesday and the AP Literature exam this past Wednesday. I mentioned in my blog last week that these classes were taking a lot out of me. Maintaining the energy to wake up early, attend online classes, complete my assigned coursework, and study for exams all during self-quarantine is no joke, but I've thankfully made it.

As many of you may or may not know, the College Board has cut AP testing time to 45 minutes for all of its exams, meaning that students only have to take a portion of the test we were originally going to take. I initially felt very intimidated, as I was completely unsure of which lessons I should've gone over to do well on the exams, but I found this past week that all my anxiety was for nothing. The tests were surprisingly light! Those 45 minutes go by in the blink of an eye, and the relief you feel afterward is delightful. If you still have any exams or finals to take, know that you will be fine!

I had a fabulous Mother's Day with my mom here at home. We spent the day together just hanging out, and I managed to cook up a chicken alfredo for her, a recipe I've never followed before. I will admit that because I'm not a pro at cooking, my mom did have to help me out, but I like to think that I did most of the job myself. My brothers even got her a beautiful bouquet, which she loved! They aren't able to spend time with us because of the quarantine, but the thought behind the gift was extremely admirable. I'll attach a picture of the flowers for you all to see!

Though I still have another exam remaining next week, I have already jumped into relax mode. I need this time to focus on myself and take time out to grieve. That's pretty much all for now. I hope that you folks are all doing well, and I hope you tune back in for next week's blog. See you all then.

"My relationship with my mom is really great at the moment. We’re constantly dancing, cracking jokes, and telling each other stories."

May 8, 2020

I’ve been doing some thinking over these past few days about what life will be like once COVID-19 comes to a halt, and I’ve come to the realization that maybe I’ll miss the quarantine... just a bit! Over the past few weeks, I’ve been able to reconnect with old friends that I never thought I would come in contact with again. On top of that, my relationship with my mom is really great at the moment. We’re constantly dancing, cracking jokes, and telling each other stories, which makes me feel really good. It’s crazy to think that our parents had their own lives before having us. I’m fascinated by my mom’s childhood stories because I come to the understanding that she was once like us, inexperienced yet ready to explore all that the world has to offer.

This quarantine is allowing me to strengthen the bonds I have with others in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to before, simply because I wouldn’t have had the time. Before the pandemic, I would arrive home at around 5 p.m to 6 p.m., settle down, eat, and jump straight into doing homework for the rest of the night. School was my main priority, so I didn’t go out of my way to shift my focus onto anything else. Now that I’m actually processing the fact that I’m going off to college, I’m trying to explore the values of life besides having a solid education. I’m coming to understand that this quarantine may have been necessary for me. I’m finally catering to myself and taking the time to fortify the relationships I have with my loved ones!

Even so, I do miss hanging out with my peers and exploring the city. As the weather becomes warmer, I cannot help but to gaze outside my window and reminisce on after-school adventures. When the weather was nice, my friends and I would make our way around Central Park. There’s something about face-to-face conversations that video chatting just can’t replicate. I’m hoping that I’ll still be able to create some fun summer memories with others before Fall comes. I’d hate to go away without at least a few group selfies!

As for school, I must admit that it is taking every fiber of my being to keep myself going at this point! Two of my AP exams are next week, AP Literature and AP Calculus, which I cannot wait to be done with already. Once I complete those, along with my other AP exams, I’ll finally be done with school! Of course, I’ll still have classes to attend and small assignments to do, but my workload will not be as intense anymore. I’ll have a huge weight off my back. I recently found out that the college I’m going to is one of the nine schools in the nation that doesn’t offer course credit for AP work, which was extremely shocking. Part of me is somewhat relieved that I don’t have to study intensively for the upcoming exams. Still, another part of me cannot shake the feeling that maybe, just maybe, all the hard work I did was for nothing. Nonetheless, I cannot wait for all of it to be over with!

The enormous amount of time I’ve spent introspecting is something I’ll definitely carry with me after this is over. Keeping a journal and writing in it whenever I can has helped me examine my own thought patterns, which in turn is helping me understand who I am as a person. I tend to have mixed feelings about the quarantine, but as of lately, I’ve really been enjoying myself. That’s all I have to say for today. Thanks for reading, I’ll see you all soon.

"Growth could also be giving yourself a break you deserve, taking things easy, or learning to listen to your body's needs."

April 30, 2020

I honestly cannot believe we've been out of school for more than a month now. At this point, it's starting to feel as if I may never have any human interactions again, which sucks, but I'm trying my best to remain as hopeful as I can be. 

 On a brighter note, I should finish reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston at the end of this week. Hurston's way of storytelling and how she incorporates so many literary elements within the plot makes the reading feel extremely rewarding. Reading African-American authors is captivating for me because a recurring theme is often exploring one's own identity and finding one's place in the world around. They feel relevant to me, so I connect with these books in a way that I never thought possible. With that being said, I recommend that you all read, Their Eyes Were Watching God.

As I mentioned in my last post, finding a work-life balance at home has still been troublesome. This is because when the quarantine first began, I made a list of skills that I wanted to pick up while simultaneously juggling my school work. I convinced myself that within a month, I'd have learned a different language and that I would have written a whole bunch of poems. This has not been the case. 

For the first few weeks, I managed to do a couple of things I found rather enjoyable, but now, my focus is on catching up with the abundance of work I'm assigned continuously, leaving me little time to achieve the things on my "quarantine to-do list." I've been hard on myself for that. For some reason, I felt this underlying pressure to use my time in quarantine to become some transcendent version of myself. I slowly realize that it's all right for me to take life step-by-step, mainly because we still have so much time left. 

If you, too, feel pressure to undergo some sort of transformation, know that you do not have to come out of this quarantine with a banging summer body or a rare set of skills. Growth could also be giving yourself a break you deserve, taking things easy, or learning to listen to your body's needs. Overall, growth comes in many forms, and it does so in its own time. Try not to be hard on yourself and do not spread yourself thin! Trust me when I say that you're exactly where you need to be in life.

My online classes have begun to pick up the pace as AP exam dates quickly approach us. My teachers are now offering virtual tutoring sessions and hosting online boot camps, which is making me feel a bit anxious. I knew that being a second-semester senior would be overwhelming. Still, I told myself that my reward would be all the fun I'd be able to have with my friends afterward. With the promise of senior-year fun and excitement is gone, I'm left with very little motivation to keep working hard. I'm aware that I can't give up now, so I decided to make a list of movies and shows I'll be able to binge-watch after all these AP exams are over (can you tell I love making lists?). Netflix, here I come!

All in all, this past week has been a rollercoaster of emotions, but as I said, I'm learning to take life step-by-step and deal with things as they come, which is something I suggest for everyone. 

The support I'm receiving from my family, friends, and my teachers have been superb. Try to remember to stay in contact with those dear to your heart, and together, you'll make it through. I appreciate you all taking the time to read this, and I hope you can learn something from what I had to say! See you all soon.

"Remember, we still got this class of 2020! We have worked too diligently to let our hard-earned accomplishments be forgotten." ​

April 17, 2020

Hey there! Before introducing myself, I want to give a huge shoutout to all the courageous individuals who continue to work during this world-wide crisis. We appreciate all that you do, and we hope you stay safe. 

For starters, my name is Gabriel Mora (but I usually go by Gabe), and this is my first post as a student blogger for Bottom Line! I hail from the Bronx, NY, and I'm a current senior who is part of Bottom Line in New York. In the long run, I see myself pursuing my interest in social activism by potentially enrolling in law school. Luckily, these past four years of high school have helped me realize how much I enjoy being an advocate for others. Though I don't have my college decision on lock yet, I know for sure that wherever I go, I'll continue to rep "power to the people!" 

With the virus progressively making its way around the city, the probability of returning to school is becoming increasingly unlikely. My apologies go out to all the seniors out there who had hopes of finishing the school year on an enjoyable note. Remember, we still got this class of 2020! We have worked too diligently to let our hard-earned accomplishments be forgotten. 

Personally, my transition to at-home learning has not been the smoothest. At first, getting the hang of remote classes felt overwhelming. I had a couple of friends who didn't have access to computers or WiFi at home, which prompted me to reach out to a few faculty members at my school. There was also an arising panic of necessities going out of stock at various stores across the city (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about). This concerned my mother and me as we wouldn't have the time to pick up some things after she was deemed an essential worker. Overall, I felt anxious about how things would unravel, and it also didn't help that I missed my friends! 

My current situation has progressively gotten better. I was able to get my friends the resources they needed, and I managed to get a hold of some groceries! Relating to remote learning, I've gotten the hang of it, but managing my classes still seems to be troubling. I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say that maintaining a structured schedule isn't easy when you're at home. My biggest challenge so far has been cultivating a healthy sleeping schedule and keeping up with all my assignments. Waking up early for my commute to school created discipline for me. But, now that we have the freedom to sleep as late as we want without having to wake up and catch a train, getting up for online classes has been daunting! It certainly requires a great deal of self-control, which I for one lack. As for the heavy workload I'm receiving, I think many teachers are failing to realize that the "classwork" they assign on top of the homework essentially just becomes… more home-work. However, my school is doing a great job of listening to our feedback, which is greatly appreciated. I honestly didn't realize how much time I'd be spending on both my phone and my laptop trying to balance my work out. Though we teenagers love our electronic devices (as they say), I'm pretty sure that it's starting to affect my eyesight (should I be worried?)

Nonetheless, being quarantined at home has granted me an abundance of time to get to reconnect with old friends and explore some of my interests. So far, I've started a new book, I've learned how to meditate, and I've done some arts and crafts activities! It pains me to say that I didn't get the chance to visit some college campuses, as I'm someone who heavily relies on the energy and vibes I get when I go somewhere. Still, Bottom Line has done a stellar job at connecting me undergraduates from my accepted schools. I've been able to take a lot of notes from the student testimonials. If you're someone who is currently deciding between a handful of schools, I advise you to reach out to as many people who attend the colleges you're looking at as you can and ask plenty of questions! Connect with people who share similar identities with you and hear what they have to say! It makes the process easier.