Caleb Kim

Apr 1, 2020

4 min read

earthquake (in one day)

today I woke up to snow outside my window, coming down like cotton balls and swirling around the air outside. I opened my window even though I shouldn’t. just to let the wind into the stagnant air inside.

and then I groggily logged onto online classes.

staring at my screen, hoping my professor doesn’t call on me, I was thinking about the awesome not-nap I’ll have afterwards.

I didn’t get much sleep the night before. my chest has been hurting lately, and I’ve been unconsciously keeping my teeth clenched for a while. my jaw hurts. sometimes I stare at my computer screen for so long that I need to lay my head down on my desk, bury it into my hands, and just wait until the sting subsides.

I didn’t notice but the snow stopped falling eventually, and the sun started to peek out from the clouds.

“dad, have you ever had chest pain? the sort where it feels like something’s gripping your heart.”

“yeah, I had that when I lost my job when you were a kid.”

“so it’s anxiety? what could I be anxious about?”

“what’s there not to be anxious about? you should be outside, meeting people, talking with friends, running events. you’re stuck inside, you’re not supposed to be.”

“what about the constant fear of losing someone I love to the global pandemic.”

“that too.”

the not-nap was great, absolute stillness, I laid in bed and willed myself to fall asleep but couldn’t. I burnt so much energy in the process of forcing my eyes shut that I was stuck in that weird in-between consciousness.

I normally never have trouble falling asleep. everything about everything feels wrong. the blowing sound of wind didn’t exactly help me to relax, sleet pelting against my window. what weird weather.

day 3 of chest pains. day 17 of quarantine. a month away from campus.

after the not-nap I went to the bathroom. I dropped my phone (which I do.. very frequently). the screen finally broke (oh no), shattering in a corner, but it remarkably continued to work (nice). the cracks spiraled out from the impact point, but they looked harmless, pretty almost. without thinking, I felt them with my thumb and cut myself. the cut healed itself fast but the cracks remained.

I have a screen protector on now to avoid cutting myself while continuing to use my phone. the protector’s too thick, so typing is particularly bothersome. it takes me a few tries to backspace or use the M L P keys for whatever reason.


at around 6 pm, I was feeling a little delirious. I wanted to scream-sing. so I did. I closed my door and sang until I could feel my throat start to get raw. afterwards, I felt dizzy. maybe I really burnt myself out with that one. I feel a little nauseous. I might faint. I must be sleepy for once, actually sleepy. thank god, I’m headed to bed. I’ll tell my parents to not call for me.

I open my door, and the world is shaking.

my mom tells me it’s an earthquake. the lights are swinging back and forth, we’re about to head outside. we live in Idaho, earthquakes don’t happen here, this isn’t supposed to happen, our apartment’s on the 17th floor, what do we do, how do we get down, we have to get outside. the stairs will work, it’ll be better than standing around. get your jackets, put on your shoes… then it stopped.

turns out it was a 6.5, but far away from us. what we actually felt was a 3.0: weak magnitude, swinging lights, and mild immediate fear. you know, just a little sprinkle.

I’m just really sleepy I tell myself. god, I’m so sleepy. I fall into bed while listening to my mom ask my dad about if there might be an aftershock.

snow was whirling outside again.

my parents put on masks and nitrile gloves to go grocery shopping. they managed to find a napa cabbage somewhere for $10. one cabbage. for 10 USD. they wanted to make kimchi, we ran out a few days ago. the original plan was to get four of them, but $40 kimchi was a bit of a no-go.

impatient, we ate unfermented kimchi, 겉절이. delicious, fragrant, almost sweet even though we didn’t use any sugar. we ate the whole cabbage. we knew that having another meal like this would mean venturing out to get another head… for 10 Whole United States Dollars. and you know, possible infection.

my parents told me we had a lot of instant ramen at home. I guess I’m back in college.

how long will this last, I don’t know.

will we all make it through, I don’t know.

shaken, quite literally.

I’m writing these words until I can fall asleep. today should’ve ended a few hours ago.

I wonder if it’ll snow again tomorrow. I’ll make sure to mention it to my Chinese professor during class if he calls on me.

“Patterns are very important in Chinese. This is for ‘duration of non-action.’ Repeat after me: 我三个星期没看到张老师。”


“很好。Now you will always remember this pattern. Just remember this sentence.”

“I haven’t seen Professor Zhang for three weeks.”

“I haven’t gone to the gym for three weeks.”

“I haven’t felt like myself. I haven’t slept well. But, I haven’t given up yet. I haven’t stopped holding on. For three weeks.”