The End of the Quarantine Notes

There were some days I didn’t renew the blog, at first because of a deadline, then because I was tired, then I worked offline some days, now I’m again tired, but I will write this last note about my quarantine life. Actually the lockdown was loosen since May, it’s just I don’t have a reason neither motivation to go out. So probably from May this series of blogs should just be called “Hikkikomori Notes”.

Apparently, the Hikkikomori life will keep going. But there will be less things could related to the society or related to other people. And I may not have much time to update my life since more works are back.

So first I will show the only food I made carefully with heart: Shanghai style cold noodles.

Then some foods I cooked in 15 minutes. A new skill I leaned during lockdown is, to cook three meals at once and within 25 minutes.

Pasta and soup made with the same instant-pasta package:

put cheese drips in oven while cooking tortellini soup:

“Complete tomato rice”, a kind of fast risotto cooked with rice cooker:

Then I will write about some experience of going out of home.

On 25.05 I had my first take-out from a local restaurant.

On 26.05 I went to a friend’s place to take an old electronic device for my installation. On the way I was in a milktea shop first time since lockdown. You can see the lines on ground, we must stand in the queue with 1.5m distance.

On 29.05 I had a rehearsal with two musicians in a room and went to restaurant afterwards. There are many restaurants closed earlier than usual or can’t let people eat in because they don’t have enough space, so we just had something random.

Then I took a train to go back. It’s still quite empty. By the way at least on this train the toilet can’t be used. I wonder how would people travel longer.

On 31.05 and 01.06, I was working with the musicians in a studio. This is the very fusion Ramen we had for lunch on the second day. The soup is even red curry soup…

Some other foods bought on the same day (kit-kat ice-cream, oolong bubble tea, and vegetarian curry):

I didn’t earn any money from the work but working did let me feel like I can have more enjoyment without guilty.

A notice I found in station, not the only one telling about the shop is shut down:

A friend in China said after the lockdown, ALL shops around the university she works are shut down forever. The economics is damaged so much everywhere. In China the government is even encouraging street market for the first time. They were regarded as a shame of the city and the ugliness in city landscape for decades. But now there is really no reason to suppress people from surviving.

More things happened these days, except the SpaceX, most of them are just very bad news. For immigrant students and researches who have a Chinese root, this year could be the hardest year since 1990. I don’t understand why there are still people trying to find some “good points” of the pandemic. For example the so-called improvement in pollution during lockdown, I think it’s just the same like loosing weight by not eating, either you die or your weight will be back.

If the lockdown helped my anyhow, the first thing is it let me recognise what I’m really NOT interested in. I was always using “no time” as an excuse to not practice classical pieces (especially on violin), now I know I really don’t like it. And there are something else like a full-time job which my family putting stress on me to find, because of the pandemic their expectation became lower, so I had the chance to think whether I really want them. The second thing is I can take it granted to socialise online only, which made my bad offline socialising skill less awkward.

In a word, the pandemic gave people a reason and a chance to not be excellent. But I guess those “positive” people won’t think that’s a good thing.

Quarantine Notes 11-13.05

Online meeting at 12, 14 o’clock. Missed the time to cook something better.

I was very frustrated because I couldn’t remember a German word. But after remembering it I feel like I can again do a lot of things.

So practiced instruments, did some organization stuff for #pajamaopera. I should also do some reading and writing and probably learn some program. I always wished I have time for all of them, but now I found perhaps I just don’t have enough enthusiasm. People think I’m energetic because I did a lot of things, but they’re far fewer than what I wanted to do.

12.05.2020

My landlord told me his relatives would be here in afternoon, so I cooked two meal at noon. Simplified Bibimbap, simplified glass noodle bowl. Nothing creative. I don’t have many ingredients to choose and not so much time to think. The two dishes took no more than 30 minutes.

A lot of areas started relaxing the lockdown, probably it’s also why people are reacting to #pajamaopera so actively these days. I will still try to demonstrate what did I mean with “remixing” in the coming live-stream. I hope people will at least get an idea about this project before it ends.

I should also prepare more for the life after quarantine. Rejecting letters, friends with no job and facing expired visa, raising insurance… During lockdown these problems are less important. Without thinking them I could feel like I have the same situation as a 23-year old white boy. Lockdown made most people’s lives worse, so mind didn’t seem so terrible. But it still make sense to let most people’s lives better.

13.05.2020

I think I’ve eaten something bad last night, or it’s just I can’t digest whole wheat toast. It’s so uncomfortable in stomach and I couldn’t sleep well. I watched an online lecture broadcasted from Shanghai around 6:30 and tried to sleep again.

Then the cleaner came, I felt awkward to enter toilet when she’s cleaning so I waited until she left. It’s already 13:00. After that I had some food and tea but still feel not so well in stomach. It’s so depressing to wait more than one hours to go out, mentally and physically it’s just hard. I can’t do almost anything. And I’m worried if I want to eat something except bread after 20:00. I did cooked some noodles for evening but it’s still awkward to take and reheat them after 20:00 when my landlord watching TV. In my life there’s already like 20 years no TV sound, the TV sound, especially a German one, reminding me clearly that I’m in an alien place.

It’s two months now since quarantine. Someone wrote online that in future when she looks for an apartment, she won’t just think “I need a cheap place” but “how would it be to stay in this place for two months”. Clearly I have a different lifestyle from my apartment, it’s still ok if I stay here 8-10 hours a day, but two months is almost on my limit.

If there are reasons that I wish the quarantine stop, that would be the main one.

I planned to go to supermarket again on Monday. But if I can’t eat the whole wheat toast maybe I should go to buy something else tomorrow or Saturday. I regret everyday after last shopping that I didn’t buy oatmeal.

Quarantine Notes 08-10.05

I’m trying to eat better now because before I went to supermarket last time I almost felt sick because of the monotonous/bad-cooked food.

And having this is the highlight of my everyday since I bought it.

But today I had another highlight: watching “The Vaccum Cleaner”. As a theater I think it’s good but not my favorite. But it’s very inspiring because it’s written and directed by a Japanese and there is an Australian performer (he even studied music!). I recognized it because of his accent, and there is another performer from Switzerland, I think both of the accent added something to their character.

As I was small I wanted to be a voice performer (声優) for Japanese animation. But my father said, there are so many Japanese, why would people give you job when your first language is not Japanese? So my parents didn’t support me in this direction at all. Even today a lot of Chinese people think that foreigners will always be inferior and can’t input any culture to the society. This thought also make them think, having accent is shameful, people must imitate either US standard pronunciation or UK standard one. If someone has some words pronounced in US standard and other words in UK standard, they may still be shamed.

“The Vacuum Cleaner” let me confirmed all of these ideas are wrong. Being a foreigner has a lot of restrictions and obstacles. But language is not a main one. And it’s possible to convince the audience with something they’re not familiar with. The story, stage and characters especially the vacuum clear is very Japanese, the director/ theater writer didn’t even change the Japanese names of the roles. That’s something very inspiring. I don’t have a clear idea, how people could learn from it. But at least I see a reason to not let your origin and language stop you or your children’s dream.

09.05.2020

Tried some Sichuan style potato. I have no Sichuan pepper or coriander, so it’s just some fusion style dish.

And I went out again to send a post. It’s so hard to going out (as always, even before the pandemic), people have to change cloth and bring everything they need. Thinking of that much work I procrastinated again. The plan was to send the mail before 12:00 so it will be on the way today, but I went out around 15:00 so it will be collected perhaps on Monday.

It’s already very warm outside. I can remember some summer days in elementary schools, the PE lesson was the last one and there was no extra lesson after it, I wanted a popsicle on the way home.

Again, glutious rice is the cult of south of Yang-tze River. Perhaps my landlord is going to his relavants’ place again on Saturday, I have a lot of time in kitchen today.

I miss bubble tea actually, but as a friend of mine said, the best of the bubble tea is not the bubble, not the milk, nor the tea, it’s the straw. If I can’t suck it while walking, half of the enjoyment lost.

10.05.2020

More potato dishes before my potatoes go bad.

Sour-spicy sliced potato. I can’t really cut slices and I think shredder is lame, so that’s what I can do best.

And potato pancakes. It tastes better than it looks.

I communicated still very little with people these days. I always feel I should finish some work first, but it’s hard to start working. Shortly before 13.03 I wrote my very belated new year’s resolutions, and when the staying home time started I thought I’d have time for them, but I’m still far from finishing them. And perhaps after the staying home time I won’t have time anymore.

Officially the restrictions are loosen now. But I may start going out again from next month. I stopped paying my traffic tickets until July, so perhaps even next month I won’t go out much. Actually people spend more money when they earn more, only if they earn much more than they used to, it’s possible to change life with money. For the moment I’m not even thinking about this possibility, I’m a bit looking forward to the “normal” life just because I’m tired of eating what I cooked myself, and being heard by my landlord what I’m practicing.

Quarantine Notes 06-07.05

Today is the day of presentation. I was kind of nervous so I didn’t do much before the presentation, only cooked something better than days before because now I have much ingredients again. So vegetarian Cordon Bleu, dried instant noodle and German cabbage (Weißkohl). The cabbage is really hard to fully cooked and it has very spicy taste when it’s raw or partly raw. I was almost throwing away the half cooked cabbage but I just saw a recipe in social media by my kindergarten friend about how to cook cabbage. Luckily the recipe was efficient to my half cooked cabbage.

This friend was graduated with master of food science, an interdisciplinary subject mainly about chemistry and biology, but after going back to China she’s working as a food writer. Sometimes I feel a bit pity for her, but it’s still a very smart choice. Now food is almost the only subject people can write without thinking about the censorship, and even the restaurants were closed during corona lockdown, food writers can still write about self-made food, delivery and canned food.

When I was in university to have the “carrier plan” seminar, the teacher let us first think about the city we want to live in future, then the occupation. That time I didn’t understand the order because I think if you’re passionate to an occupation you’d be able to do it anywhere. But from my friend’s experience, it’s clear that the teacher was right.

Presentation was fine. I still have a lot work to do until a bigger presentation next month, but I can have short time off now. I tried the Turkish dish Shakura, but my landlord came after I began. With the TV as background sound, I felt I must hurry up, so the vegetables were not enough cooked.

After missing my most expected theater of Berlin Theatertreffen, I’m very alert to time now. But I don’t like today’s theater very much so I just watched half of it.

07.05.2020

I fixed the date with my student to have first private lesson from end of the month. And I got informed that I may start another teaching job next month too. Mentally I’m slowly preparing for going back to works with people and need to go out. Practically I started practicing classical pieces on instruments again.

And a simplified Bibimbap. With a rice cooker it doesn’t need to open the cooker, and can be finished in 5 minutes.

I’ve heard that some of my friends like to cook while watching TV series. I was surprised at first, because it’s not even an idea for me. I started really cooking from I’m in Germany, and since then I always share kitchen with some other people. I hope someday I will be able to have this kind of enjoyment too. Although I didn’t watch TV series for very long time, maybe I won’t watch any in future either, but I still want this possibility.

Quarantine Notes 04-05.05

I went out again!

Last time I found the ducks sound very interesting but I didn’t bring recorder, so before I went to supermarket, first I went to find some ducks. I googled “what time do ducks go out” and there were just many answers about “what time is the best for duck hunting” and even “how to kill more ducks”… Human is crazy. So I gave up to research what time do they make sound.

Luckily I still found some ducks, although they didn’t make sound (some mandarin ducks were in the lake and busy looking for food). I just recorded some nature sound, probably people can tell there’s also sound of the ducks looking for food with their beaks on the surface of the lake.

And the restriction to the children playground is cancelled. I’ve seen more people outside, it’s also almost busy as usual on the road (although there are not so many cars on road in where I live anyway).

Now people must wear mask to enter the supermarket and use trolleys. I was thinking at home, do I still have to insert a coin to use the trolley? If so would it be still risk because of the coins? Nevertheless, I looked some minutes for my coin purse. I didn’t use cash for almost two months, it’s so hard to remember where my cashes are. Finally I found them in the down jacket which I wore in the coldest winter.

And yes, I must insert a coin to use the trolley! But there is a worker keep disinfecting the trolleys, so I guess it would be fine.

Very surprisingly, I found Loquat in our remote supermarket! And they taste really good. As I wrote in former notes, I seldom go to China in hot summer, so I have very long time didn’t had this fruit.

After I was back, I tried to join a lesson online at 14:00, then I found it’s actually at 13:00. I waited very long to join the session and still managed to listen the last ca. 40 minutes. Then there was another online lesson… After the lesson I felt like I must choose between the online Berlin Theatertreffen and my dissertation, and I chose the dissertation.

The piece I reworked on 24.04 is now online. Thanks to Music&Friends Chamber Ensemble! When I saw the notification I was still in the online lesson so I listened the piece with microphone off. It’s so easy to get distract during online lesson, but perhaps I’d check my phone some times as well in a real classroom.

And the pre-deadline screen… Finally I moved all what I need for writing dissertation in my bed. But sometimes it’s just hard to move from one side of the bed to the other.

05.05.2020

Woke up with a rejecting letter, laid down again, then found it’s almost the time for online meeting.

Meeting at 12:00, 14:00 and 14:30, almost none stop. But I don’t have to say anything in the last meeting so I turned off the camera and had lunch.

After these meetings I found it’s already not so much time until people be off work, so I just sent my 6-page finished text (I planned to send 10 pages). Then I tried to watch a theatre of Berlin Thetertreffen which I missed when I was working on the dissertation. And I found it’s already expired. I realised for the first time that I didn’t watch anything for 2 days but not 1 day. It’s the theatre I wanted to watch the most in this festival, now I can only hope someday I can see it in a theatre.

While writing communicating with people became even harder, especially oral communication. These days I only took one phone call about reworking on one of my old pieces and still feel kind of hard to talk in an online meeting or writing emails.

Tomorrow is the small presentation of my dissertation, after that I will start replying non-emergency emails.

And I finally opened the hair chalk I bough in Japan in 2014. Since no one will see the failed result, I can experiment on my hair endlessly. It’s so strange that I still have many things I bought during that trip and still didn’t use. Sometimes people think, I may not be in this place for very long so I should buy more things for future using. But since people don’t have the time in the place (to try more things), neither the time to travel, how do they believe that they would have the time to try these things in another place?

After many travels between Asian and Europe, I learned that don’t bring too many things from either place. But probably I was right in 2014 to buy a lot of things because indeed I won’t go to Japan for very long time.

I still remember a former partner said around 2013, let’s go to Tokyo Olympic in 2020. And there’s not even Olympic in 2020 now.

Quarantine Notes 29-30.04

For some reasons I’m in a Zoom improvisation workshop with a lot of students majoring visual art. Today is the first day and it’s more theoretic, I just let the video run and look at it time by time.

Then did some reading and some late-night writing (still not for my dissertation yet).

Cooked noodles for two days. I first time cooked the white onion correctly, it really needs a lot of time to be not that spicy. I used all the cheese, and still have two eggs. If I want enough protein for the rest of the week I should maybe go to supermarket on Friday or Saturday. But people still have the habit to do grocery on weekend, so I may postpone it until Monday to avoid meeting many people.

30.04.2020

Day two of the workshop. It came to practice, but it means as well that I must always show up in front of the camera.

The schedule is warmup from 9:00 and start jam from 10:00 to 17:00, with about 70 minutes rest in all. So it’s quite crazy. I set up my first virtual background in Zoom with the Shin Ramyun theme. It’s fun but I’m still a bit skeptical about allowing Zoom to recognize my face.

After that I went to sleep directly. Then got up to edit the video of my mother playing music with her friend in USA. Tomorrow is the Labor’s Day, it’s very important festival in China and my mother wants to post the video on that day.

And did a new Bandcamp release: https://dongzhou.bandcamp.com/album/piano-motif

I’ve seen schoolmate already going out for bubble tea. Actually my wishes and desires came back these days, maybe because of the rhythm of the started semester. But I still don’t know when I will go to buy bubble tea. I stopped my bus ticket until end of June, it means I may pay extra for traffic if I go to a bubble tea shop.

And I still feel it’s not the time to go out ONLY for a bubble tea and spend like 10 euros just for that.

1/3 of 2020 passed. I still didn’t archive much. It’s like every year, I can’t blame the virus for it. I can just try to create more, reach more out, and hopefully in the end of the year it won’t feel so void.

Quarantine Notes 27-28.04

Pre-live-stream day: test Zoom to Facebook broadcasting with all my devices for #pajamaopera

A friend asked whether I’m in China after seeing this photo, the reason he guessed so is that I was wearing a down jacket. Well probably you don’t know it’s already warmer than 25 degree in most areas of China, and Beijing will have 31 degree on the Labor’s Day; and you don’t know how is it to work in cellar. Sometimes I even feel my knee is having slight pain, I’m having calcium supplement now but I don’t know when will I go to a doctor, I hope it will be fine before I must go to one.

There would be a planned online meeting but it’s moved to tomorrow. And from tomorrow there will be event everyday, but I still have 2 deadlines in the first week of May. So worked on some writing before I can’t.

28.04.2020

Online meeting at 12:00, 12:30, 14:00; tech-check for live stream at 15:40. live-stream at 16:00. And I have to finish two video editing before 12:00.

With this schedule, it’s extremely frustrating when I knew that I calculated time zone (again) wrong for the musician in Brazil. When a performer told me about it around 13:00, I tried very hard stopped the video editing and sent a message to the musician. Unfortunately he was still sleeping. And earlier in morning another musician also canceled his present.

Organizing online performance is not at all easier than organizing an offline one. For a 25-minute session it needs more than 4 hours for me to prepare, for other performers it would also be more than 1 hour.

Still, I made some pancakes with eggs for protein.

And in today’s 3 online meeting before the live-streaming I all have to talk or present something. So after the live-stream I had some rest food of yesterday and directly went to sleep. I booked a session of Genesis (game by Alexander Schubert) at 0:30.

The semester seems really started.

Quarantine Notes 22.04

My landlord was going to city again, so I made the Chives Pancake (葱油饼). It should be much more flatter but I really tried my best. It took about 2 hours to make 5 pieces (the mini one doesn’t count). I heard that there is some frozen ones in Asian Market, after we could freely move I will definitely buy them instead of making them myself. Although I’m not quite sure whether I will still think of this food. Recently I really don’t miss any food, but after eating something I can still be impressed by them.

And I went out! Because I wanted to see someone and there’s no extra contact happened (we both didn’t take public transport).

It’s very amazing to see flowers, ducks, insects and… people. When I walked by an ice-cream shop, there were already full of people in front of it.

Is eating ice-cream prohibited? No. In theory, people can now also take public transport and even meet individually at home. But I still feel these things are very strange. I can’t be so happy when there are a lot of people dying, and everything in future is unsure.

In east Asia the culture it doesn’t encourage people to have fun, and my mother is influenced by it very much. So if there is no special reason, it’s not allowed to have fun. Maybe I’m a bit like that too, but for me there’s also a lot of practical reasons to not have fun for the moment, for example, protecting my landlord (he’s in the high-risk group).

I took one photo on my way. And I thought I could take more photos on the way back, but then it’s too cold and dark and some flowers already rested.

I went to Penny for the first time since 13.03 on my way back. There’s no basket to use but only shopping cart (for keeping the distance), but they are outside of the supermarket so I didn’t take one, just bought a few things and left.

When I was home, my landlord was watching a very important TV program for him and he wants me to not cook during this program. It has been so long that I came back at this time. I found a quinoa snack from my Rossmann order. Luckily it’s not bad.

When my friend talked about plan after the crisis, he mentioned to move a place. And I suddenly recognized, one of the reason I feel like I can’t plan anything after the crisis, is that I’m in this remote house which only suit for ascetic life. If I want to cook longer, invite people, let people stay with me, hold event at home, keep pet, decorate my room differently… I must always first inform my landlord. It’s like, they all need a reason.

Walking on the street, there was a police car passing by. I was thinking, will someone check my document and ask what I’m doing outside? It reminds me when I was in elementary school, I liked it very much to explore different corners with a friend. But there can be a teacher any time appear and ask us, what are you doing there. So we got a solution called “sticker chasing”: my friend had always some stickers with him. If someone asked, he would say that I want to rob his stickers, so he was fleeting without direction; and I could say that the stickers should be mine so I was trying to chase them back.

I don’t like the feeling to always think of a reason. Under this kind of circumstance I feel threatened. For my situation, staying at home means either initially to choose an ascetic life, or always looking for reasons for my non-ascetic activities. I’m still quite ok with the initially chosen ascetic life, and somehow I’m trying to make it even more ascetic. But in long term I will change it.

Quarantine Notes 19-21.04

Recent biological clock: waking up aroun 7:30-8:30, feeling hungry, brushing teeth and eating, feeling tired again around 9:30…

I’m still trying to finish a piece so I confronted with myself from 15:00. Before-deadline lunch/ dinner:

20.04.2020

I had an online meeting where we decided to play a 5-minutes spontaneously. Because the violin needs longer time to start, I played Otamatone there. Through the Zoom connection a saxophonist thought I was playing saxophone, so sounds like pretty successful. I may use it more for improvisational music in future.

And from next month the school in Shanghai will all open. My mother is planning to wear mask for all the lessons (they will soon be off-line too!), so she ask a friend of mine whether he can buy some masks for her. My friend bought it on the way after work and asked me about my mother’s address. He said he’d use the fastest express delivery service to deliver them. Although I told him it’s not necessary because my mother will use them next month, he still chose that express. And after about 90 minutes, my mother received the masks.

Well another story of “China speed”. I’ve heard that this friend also used the same delivery to deliver handmade breakfast to his girlfriend when she was ill. It must be very absurd for people out of China: people there must earn their not-so-big money so my friend can’t be off work for half a day, but he still want to show his concern and care so he paid people who earn less money to spend the time instead of him. Maybe that’s why people living in China believe so much in money, because except “buying someone else’s time”, they don’t have other choice (maybe being very much isolated is a choice).

And at night I finished the first edition of the score.

21.04.2020

After eating a lot of days of bread, toast and salad, I started feeling bad in stomach, so a day with congee. My mother was warning me about taking enough protein, so I had some vegetarian sausages too.

The congee with rice and dried grained corn is so good. Whether you eat it sweet or salty, it’s great. It’s typical in north China so before I went to Germany I had only once when I was very small. After that I was keep trying to figure out, what kind of corn (or the way to prepare the corn) is it and always got no answer. This time I found the dried grained corn by accident when I scrolling the website of the Asian Market. It may be the second best purchase (after the toy bunny) since quarantine.

And probably you can find in picture I started to plant carrot now. Let’s see how will it be.

Officially since this week the restriction is relaxed. But my life is not changing too much. This semester for universities will be all online, and there won’t be concerts before September. I don’t know why would I go out, but maybe I won’t do grocery online from now.

I finished rewriting a piece for my friend’s online project. I’m looking forward to the premier of the new version next month.