Self-Isolation Diaries – Week 7

Greetings, Internet! How’s everyone doing? Well, April happened. That was somehow fast and slow? The ukulele channel has upgraded to a setup with a real microphone, the world continues to be chaos, and I’m actually making progress with some of the main primary sources of my dissertation (even though it is looking less and less likely that there will be a medieval history job at the end of this because lol, the economy and higher education). Daily summaries below!

Day Forty-Three (4/24/20)

  • Recorded and posted my cover of KT Tunstall’s “Under the Weather.” It wasn’t a request, but the song was fitting. Also I really need to learn how to create a proper thumbnail. Everything YouTube preselects looks like I’m confused.
  • Did a work hangout with a friend. Read Gregory of Tours’ History of the Franks and took copious notes. There was also talk about next week’s setlist. I’m always open to suggestions. Honestly, if no one gave me suggestions, there’s a decent chance I’d sing a song in French. From “Ratatouille.” Because we could all use a Pixar movie/song/anything right about now. And I can also pretend I’m practicing my language skills.
  • I’m at ten subscribers! Ten! Double digits! Zomg!
  • Caught up on “Outlander.”
  • Currently feeling: How are people in my program doing when it comes to dissertation progress? I am genuinely curious. I don’t have to (at the moment) travel to an archive, so it’s as though I suddenly have nothing hindering me from diving into my dissertation. On the other hand, I’m seeing a lot about how this is a stressful time and there shouldn’t be so much pressure to be productive. Except when I was in undergrad and I fractured my tibia, I literally stayed home for an entire summer, barely left the house, and got so much done on my senior thesis that it was ridiculous. I feel a bit guilty that I’m not in that mode right now. Although I suppose the best way to eliminate that guilt is to go into that mode tomorrow. Yes, I guess I’ll do that.
  • Currently looping: Evanescence’s new single, “Wasted on You.” Hooray for new Evanescence!


Day Forty-Four (4/25/20)

  • Did the FES cycle. Caught up on “Legends of Tomorrow.” Love that show.
  • Watched The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” sing-along YouTube livestream. Gosh, I’d forgotten how much I love that movie.
  • Over a third of the way through Gregory of Tours’ Histories! The spreadsheet of notable passages is really growing. I even started a “what a punk” category every time Gregory noted that someone did something ridiculous.
  • Did a wine-and-FaceTime with my sister. She wasn’t up to drinking, but at least my brother-in-law was! She just started a new job at Apple and is working remotely. She’s the best. I’m writing this two glasses of wine in, which you could probably tell. She also encouraged me to get the acoustic guitar I’ve been eyeing (sorry, I love my ukulele, but some songs are just better on guitar).
  • Currently feeling: So The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article telling grad students who are about to go on the job market to consider a Plan B like yesterday. Does this extend to PhD students who are three years away from finishing their degrees? I know the job market took a hit in 2008/2009, but Inside Higher Ed published back in mid-February (yes, THIS mid-February) that the History job market finally had begun to stabilize. I imagine that this is no longer the case. If it takes about ten years for the job market to stabilize after a crisis, then what should PhD students (particularly in the humanities) do? I remember when I was deciding between PhD programs, a former professor advised that I start my program with a backup plan, because there were not likely to be any History jobs when I graduated (cheerful fellow, but accurate fellow). I replied that I was seeing the PhD as an opportunity to write a book about a subject I cared about, and that seemed to be an acceptable answer. It seems I should get on that book, while also figuring out some backup plans.
  • Currently looping: The end titles from Good Omens, or, David Arnold’s “The Theme That Got Left in the Car.” The whole soundtrack is great study music.


Day Forty-Five (4/26/20)

  • Recorded a song for tomorrow that my sister requested. It’s about baseball. We miss baseball.
  • Had planned for a Zoom chat, but it has been postponed. I do not know to when exactly.
  • Writing workshop continues! As per usual, I got drunk and apologized for what I wrote. Then I knocked my expensive microphone onto the floor because I am a klutz. Then proceeded to start my draft for next week. Oh, it’s a mess. Sorry, writing buddy. I promise I’ll tidy it up.
  • Currently feeling: Again, I did the thing where I got drunk before I wrote this part of my diary, and now I’m not sure what to write. I should get an acoustic guitar. Some songs just sound better on acoustic guitars. No offense to the songs I’ve been playing lately. I’m sure they’d all sound lovely on guitars. I guess because I’m drunk and trying to be somewhat introspective when it comes to my feelings, I should probably say that I’m so thankful for friends who think I should continue with a hobby that I really love. It’s hard to find good friends. I’d bear-hug them, but I don’t think I’ll be allowed to do that for many months.
  • Currently looping: The Cranberries’ “Linger.” It’s a classic.


Day Forty-Six (4/27/20)

  • Posted my cover of Belle and Sebastian’s “Piazza New York Catcher.” I miss baseball.
  • Did the FES cycle. Looked up how to change the key on a guitar. It’s one of those music theory type things I never really picked up.
  • My audio interface arrived! Let the assembly begin!
  • Listened to a bunch of covers of songs. Typically, a peppy/dance-y song ends up getting an acoustic treatment. Or an artist performs a song in a way that’s their own style. I should come up with a style beyond, “Hey! I learned the chords!” Oh, you bet I am going all in on this hobby.
  • Purchased an acoustic guitar. Going. All. In.
  • Did a work hangout with a friend today. Am halfway through Book Five of Gregory’s Histories, so, still chugging along with that. I mean, sure, I go hard when it comes to my hobbies, but I’m being paid to be a scholar, so that comes first.
  • Spent two hours setting up my microphone and audio equipment. I’m going to bed after 1am for sure, but it’ll be worth it.
  • Currently feeling: I need to stop feeling guilty for buying an acoustic guitar. I spent two days justifying the purchase to myself, and rambled about it nonstop to my sister and at least one or two friends, all of whom assured me that there’s nothing wrong with buying a guitar. I just worry that after quarantine is over (whenever that may be), it’ll sit in a corner and collect dust, which is exactly what my ukulele did before this self-isolation period started. I guess only time will tell. I really want to keep playing after we’re allowed to go outside again, but then there’s the whole “do you actually have time for that?” factor. Ugh. At least for now I can say that I’m super excited to get it.
  • Currently looping: Aurora’s “Runaway


Day Forty-Seven (4/28/20)

  • Tested out the microphone setup with a couple of songs, both of which were recorded! Believe it or not, this took up about four hours of my day. Can I please keep doing this after quarantine ends?
  • Caught up on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” I love Peraltiago so much.
  • Currently feeling: I might as well just turn my channel into a request channel, right? Is that a thing people do to up their subscriber count? Like, “Hey, I’ll do a song for you. Just be subscribed to my channel!” Although I guess people could subscribe, request a song, and then unsubscribe once I’ve played it. Hmm. I do not foresee that working out. I’ll just keep playing things and see if anyone likes it enough to subscribe. Eventually I’ll figure out what my “cover style” is.
  • Currently looping: There’s an Evanescence/Within Temptation playlist on Spotify (they were supposed to go on tour together in Europe, and that’s been postponed), and so I’ve been listening to that. But I love Evanescence’s “Good Enough.”
Microphone Setup
Eeeeeek, it’s happening!

Day Forty-Eight (4/29/20)

  • Did the FES cycle. Caught up on “Legends of Tomorrow.”
  • Have been experimenting with toppings to put on top of frozen pizza. Mushrooms really need olives.
  • Watched “Clue” with some lovely people. Such an underrated classic.
  • Compiled a list of more song chords to test out.
  • Currently feeling: My horoscope literally told me today (yes, I have the Costar app) not to feel like an imposter. Or, rather, it said, “You are not an imposter.” Even my horoscope is trying to provide validation for my slew of videos. My friend counted fifteen videos that I’ve posted over the past, what? Five weeks? Gee whiz, that’s a lot. Should I take it down a notch so that I can work on covers that are more “Val’s take on it” and less “Val’s filling the hole in her heart that karaoke left”? Or maybe this is the “karaoke heart-filling” phase that needs to continue for a bit longer, just to get my bearings, and then I can work on developing “Val’s take on it.” I don’t know. I’ll figure it out. Or write original material. Ha, that’d be hilarious.
  • Currently looping: Birdy’s cover of “1901” (yes, that is the actress who played Luna Lovegood in the music video). It just got stuck in my head the other day and I needed to hear it on repeat.


Day Forty-Nine (4/30/20)

  • My mom’s here! She baked an apple cake, which we ate shortly after it came out of the oven. Apple cake: providing joy since the time it was discovered that apples and cake could be one.
  • Spent lots of time with Book Five of Gregory of Tours’ Histories. Dang, Gregory is all about that Merovingian king hot goss.
  • Got my guitar! Except it’s in a box within a box, and I don’t have the strength/angle to get the smaller box out of the larger box. #musicalwheelchairuserproblems Also apparently I need to get myself some studio headphones, because none of my headphone jacks work with my audio interface. Boo.
  • Ate more apple cake. Don’t judge. It’s quarantine.
  • Currently feeling: I’ve kind of sort of balanced my work with other things today? I don’t know. I saw this New Yorker cartoon and was kind of feeling it. It’s hard to forget that there’s utter chaos outside, especially when living in NYC.
  • Currently looping: Within Temptation’s “Supernova.” It’s a sad song, but it’s so good (but the music video is kind of ridiculous).


Thanks so much for reading! Hope you’re all staying as safe as you can be!

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