DEN at Home: Letter from Nate Carlson


Nate Carlson

There are few moments in our lifetimes when we experience a collective reality- moments when the veil of self is torn away, when the simulation crashes, when we realize our lives are so desperately and delicately interconnected to everyone who surrounds us. These moments, the moon landing, the JFK assassination, and the September 11th terrorist attacks among them, define generations and beg the age-old question: “Where were you when?”

On March 12, when Dr. Glassman sent his first email detailing our extended spring break and plans for distance learning, I was struck by the realization that I and everyone around me were in fact living through history- an uneasy and uncommon feeling. In the weeks since that day, when I said goodbye to my cozy albeit bland dorm room in Stevenson Hall and made the journey up I-57 to my parents’ home in the Chicago suburbs, that feeling has only grown.

Like many others, I’ve watched my already poor sleep schedule descend into chaos, my body thrown into a seemingly infinite loop of drab and depressing days that blend into each other. I wake up. I shower. I go back to bed. I microwave brunch. I find myself in bed again. And so it goes, with each day punctuated briefly by the Zoom lecture or hastily-written discussion posts that remind me I was a student before all this started.

It’s easy to slip into a certain kind of nihilism; to wallow in the cosmic unfairness of it all if only for a little before snapping out of it with the realization that I am lucky to not be one of the friends or relatives I see on Facebook begging for prayers or mourning a loss. Still, the distance between my bed and my desk often feels insurmountable.

I try, when possible, to concentrate on the good things. I call my girlfriend every night, we talk about our favorite memories, the foods we miss, the coworkers we hate (but wish we still saw if only so that we could complain about them more), and whatever TV shows we’re watching to fill the void. “Tiger King” was ok, “The Mandalorian” a decent binge. Sometimes for a few fleeting minutes, I am able to forget that I am in quarantine. Those minutes, spent both physically and digitally with the people and things I love, are precious to me.

Most days I am racked by nervousness about the future- a deepening pit in my stomach tells me that the “new normal” will last much longer than anticipated.

But some days things are fine. Some days things are good. In that way, things are much the same as they were before, and for that, I am grateful.

-Nate Carlson, senior TV and video production major.