A New Normal: A Quarantine Commentary

Two to fourteen days. That is all the virus is supposed to live for, but the inability to stop our fast pace capitalist society from going keeps the COVID-19 going. Small businesses hurting, stock market crashing, unemployment rate increasing, people social-distancing, colleges closing. Not just the nation, but the world is having to learn new ways to live their day to day lives. The digital age has taken a whole new level of meaning. Every person is affected by the coronavirus in different ways. Rising Rock, a group of students from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga seek to tell their stories on how this pandemic shapes their experience, and what this extraordinary moment in history looks like from their perspectives. A New Normal: A Quarantine Commentary is a creative and documentative project by the students of Rising Rock. Step foot into the perspective of college students as they share what their world now looks like in this rapidly changing society because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scroll to the bottom of this page to click on individual stories.
By clicking one of the names below, you’ll see a glimpse of how this global pandemic has now shaped each of our lives.

This week’s featured story:  A New Normal by Elian Richter

Waverly Hunter poses for a photo from her back yard in Hendersonville, Tenn. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Photo by Elian Richter)
“As the days blur together and the heavy weight of isolation builds, it’s easy to dwell on the negative emotions brought out by the current situation: boredom, loneliness, depression. These emotions are certainly overwhelming at times but there’s also a brighter side to this too. … I’ve recently realized that the pandemic has also brought at least one positive outcome during this strange time; the opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite people in the world, my little sister Waverly.” To continue viewing more of this post, visit A New Normal by Elian Richter.
Produced By Rising Rock Media

Exotic Paws and Claws

Dr. Shannon Dawkins examines stuck eye caps on a ball python, Snickers. The snake had been unable to shed properly due to a previous injury causing discomfort. Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Rising Rock/Cat Webb.)

While most prospective pet owners will opt to have a cat or dog, others may opt for something a bit different. Some may choose a pet that is categorized as an “exotic”. This broad category of pets includes common pets such as snakes and other reptiles, rodents, tropical birds, and amphibians like axolotls and salamanders.

While there are plenty of vets in Chattanooga that will perform regular examinations on exotic animals, it may be harder to find emergency veterinary care for exotic pet owners. 

Dr. Shannon Dawkins aims to make emergencies easier for exotic pet owners with Claws and Paws Mobile Veterinary Services. She has formal training with exotics and has worked with wildlife rehabilitators and vet since a young age. Claws and Paws began as a side gig while doing relief work at overburdened animal hospitals, and slowly grew into what it is today. She sees all kinds of animals, from cats and dogs to snakes and opossums. Exotics make up a large amount of her business.

“I would say maybe 20 percent are exotics,” she said, “I tend to actually get more surgeries that are exotic because I don’t know that there are a lot of people that are doing surgeries.”

Dr. Dawkins’s setup is small, confined to a trailer she pulls behind her pickup, and therefore isn’t set up for handling most emergencies. During the week, she can handle most routine procedures, but off-hours are a different story. She has no staff on weekends and due to lack of space, she doesn’t have a setup to keep animals overnight. 

“I recently had a rabbit client, for instance, that I had to send all the way to Knoxville because it needed to be seen by a vet that could hospitalize it on the weekend,” Dawkins explained, “and I couldn’t get anyone here. I couldn’t get any of the emergency clinics to do that.”

Because Chattanooga lacks emergency exotic vets, pet owners may have nowhere to turn. Not everyone can drive two hours for veterinary care, and not every emergency can wait two hours. According to Dr. Dawkins, that is why she may sometimes see exotics outside of regular hours.

“It’s not that I want to see emergencies on the weekends,” Dawkins said, “I just know that sometimes people are really left high and dry with no other options.”

Dr. Shannon Dawkins attempts to take the weight of her patient, a ball python named Snickers. He was underweight and hadn’t fed in a while due to discomfort from an injury. Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Rising Rock/Cat Webb.)
Dr. Shannon Dawkins prepares pain medication for home administration for her patient. The patient was a ball python which had sustained an injury previously. Tuesday, July 7, 2020. Photo by Cat Webb.
Snickers, a ball python, awaits the end of his appointment. He visited Claws and Paws Mobile Veterinary Service for a follow-up on burns due to equipment failure and stuck shed related to that injury. Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Rising Rock/Cat Webb.)

A New Normal by Elian Richter

Journal Entry 4

Selfie taken using the reflection in a mirror on Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (Photo by Elian Richter)

After today, my college experience will be over. One last zoom meeting and a brief ten minute presentation are all that stand in front of me graduating from UTC. College has been the absolute best time of my life so far and I’m uncertain how to feel about leaving.

Continue reading “A New Normal by Elian Richter”

A New Normal by Margo Zani

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Julie Dunn assembling a wooden cross decorated with live flowers to celebrate the Easter holiday. Dunn explained that because her family couldn’t attend church they decided to celebrate by building this cross. April 11, 2020. (Photo by Margo Zani)

Saturday, April 11th was my youngest brother Eli’s birthday. He turned 18 which is a pretty significant birthday to be quarantined for. He spent most of his time inside trying to make the most of his special day. At one point, Eli’s friends drove by in their cars outside of our house and honked their horns as a way to celebrate his birthday from afar. It was really sweet but I couldn’t help but feel bad that my brother wasn’t allowed to appropriately celebrate his birthday in a “normal” way.

I thought about how radically different our eighteenth birthdays looked like. Almost three years ago I turned 18 and it happened to be the same day I was graduating from high school. My whole senior year, the thought of sharing my day of celebration with all 400 students of my graduating class bothered me. When the day actually arrived, it turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’d ever had. We were all celebrating something and got to be surrounded by so many people with lots of hugs and socializing. Now fast forwarding to April 11, 2020 Eli wasn’t even allowed to spend the day with his friends or even think about having a party if he wanted to because of COVID-19. Don’t get me wrong my family and I celebrated him as best as we could but this is just another example of how this pandemic has disrupted what we know to be normal.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Paul Zani, Eli Zani, and Donna Zani celebrating Eli’s 18th birthday. Since quarantine was still going on Eli stayed at home rather than going out and celebrating. April 12, 2020. (Photo by Margo Zani)

In the same weekend, millions across the world celebrated Easter on Sunday, April 12. Churches have not been allowed to gather for weeks now meaning they wouldn’t be able to celebrate one of the most significant days of the year for Christians in the typical way. This was the first time I haven’t gone to church for Easter in as long as I can remember, but that didn’t make the day any less important for me or the millions across the world. Instead of gathering at churches, many of my neighbors placed crosses in their yards or used chalk art as a way to celebrate.

These two celebrations were a bittersweet reminder that life is still moving forward day by day, and that there will be many more birthdays and holidays to come. Hopefully, sooner rather than later we can get back to celebrating the way we used to, but now with a new-found appreciation for being surrounded by friends and family.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Zani family gathers to eat brunch together. They were celebrating both a birthday and Easter during COVID-19. April 12, 2020. (Photo by Margo Zani)

Journal Entry #3

Last week, I was in a meeting for my internship with The House, and my boss asked us to reflect over some questions concerning grief. I was confused. I hadn’t lost anyone so what was I grieving? But grief doesn’t always mean death, and quickly, I began to realize what I actually had lost over the last month. The rest of my spring semester, proximity of friendships, summer plans and much more. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Student interns for The House campus ministry gathering together over Zoom for their weekly intern meeting to discuss all different things pertaining to the ministry. During this meeting, they were told the story of the bible from Genesis to Revelation through different types of foods. April 7, 2020. (Photo by Margo Zani).

I have done a decent job at not letting the craziness of this whole situation get the best of me. I have tried to control my emotions, but sometimes it’s hard to deal with so many feelings when they’re happening all at once. In a time where I have the space to process what I’m feeling, the task of discerning each different emotion that comes hand in hand with grief seems overwhelming. They say there are five stages in the grieving process. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Some days it feels like I am processing all stages at once. However, I have slowly begun to accept this pandemic for what it is. 

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t had any hard days during the past month. Some days are productive and some days are lazy. Some days I’m motivated and others I procrastinate until the sun sets. Some days I feel really good, but lately a lot of days have felt heavy. I think it’s because i’m beginning to accept my losses.

However, in my acceptance these are the things that I still know to be true. I am healthy and safe. I have my family who hurts with me, but refuses to let me slip into a funk for too long. I have friends to return to in Chattanooga, and in the meantime phone calls and letters will have to be our best bet at staying in touch. I have simple pleasures that still bring me moments of peace like music, writing and reading. Lastly, I have faith. Faith that this pandemic will eventually end and the process of healing will soon begin for all.

Saturday, April 4, 2020 – Monday, April 6, 2020

Continue reading “A New Normal by Margo Zani”