Coronavirus Anxieties and Spring Break Exploration at Democracy Brewing

It’s been a whirlwind of a week. This past weekend, I finished my last shifts at the tapas restaurant where I have been working as a host since I moved to Boston in September. Now that I am taking two masters courses and am working as a graduate assistant this semester, working four nights at the restaurant has become too much. I need to be able to adequately devote time to my studies. Graduate courses involve a great deal of work, and I have only been able to barely able to keep up. So, I gave two weeks notice to the restaurant and made plans to start working some catering events.

My last shift coincided with my spring break. I was looking forward to some adventures during break. I was supposed to get my first visitors to Boston this weekend, my friends Anthony and MJ. I had some awesome ideas for things for us to do, including getting some great grub. I was also looking forward to the cooking classes I would be working this month, including croissants, macarons, and an Italian class. I seriously could not wait to assist with these classes.

Flash forward just two days later (on Tuesday) I was out and about when I heard the news that Harvard was cancelling all in-person classes and events for the rest of the semester due to Coronavirus. I dreaded that Boston University would soon make a similar decision. And sure enough, the next day, BU announced they would be shutting down until April 13th. Classes will continue online, but all in-person events are being cancelled.

Let me be clear. I am not saying these precautionary measures are unnecessary. At first, I didn’t want to believe they were needed, because I was terrified of the consequences of shutting down the school. As things have rapidly progressed this week, I began to see the logic in what is being directed. However, that doesn’t mean I am not disappointed by what is happening. I think it is a perfectly rationale response to the situation.

I felt a huge spike in my anxiety over the past few days. There was so much uncertainty, including whether or not I still had a paying job. Ironically, I quit my second job because I had zero free time, and just a couple days later, I was faced with the potential of having too much free time. That caused me some serious stress, wondering if I’d be able to pay rent, especially if this goes on for an extended period.

However, the other half of my anxiety was due to crippling loneliness. I have been feeling very lonely and very much missing social interaction. Since I moved here, I have had very few times where I could hang out socially. My primary form of social contact has been at work and class. The idea of losing all of that was incredibly overwhelming. I was terrified that I’d have to be stuck in my apartment with limited human contact for the next month. Even worse is that due to spring break, I was tasked with coping with this news alone, as I had spent most of the week without human contact. That in itself was super isolating.

I was also so excited to get to spend some time in my new city with my friends, but we all decided it was best to cancel the trip. This was devastating for me, because I so badly wanted this time with my friends. I completely understood though and fully supported the decision to cancel, to keep everyone safe. I think it was the responsible thing to do, and I couldn’t ask my friends to put themselves at risk because I was lonely. I am confident we will get to see each other soon, but for now, I am saddened by the situation we are all in. I feel for people across the globe as they are faced with physical and mental health challenges. This is a difficult situation for so many. My thoughts are on those who have been infected with COVID-19, as well as those who’s livelihood are being threatened by the quarantines and precautions. This is absolutely a huge hit to the global economy, and working class individuals will be hit the hardest.

I have had some time to process everything, and my anxiety is doing a little better today. I received the good news yesterday that I will be allowed to come to work and do some office work during this down time. This is good because it means I get to be paid, and I’ll to get out of the apartment. I was so worried about what would happen to my mental health if I was left to be shut inside my apartment for the next month. That would have been detrimental for me. I know I will just be doing some busy work in the office, but that will be better than being stranded at home.

This whole thing has already taken a toll on my mental health. If I hadn’t been dog-sitting this week, I don’t know how I would have coped with the news. At least I had a cute, furry friend to ease my worries. My roommate’s dog, Daisy, is an excellent cuddler and had pretty much insisted on being physically attached to me all week.

When I received the news about Harvard, I was downtown doing some book shopping. This is when I came across a wonderful brewery called Democracy Brewing. Located right by the Boston Commons, this is an employee-owned brewery that opened July 4, 2018.

I don’t blame myself for not knowing about this place. After all, I have practically been working 7 days a week since I moved here, leaving me little to no time to explore this great city. Now that I found this place, I just wish that I wasn’t here by myself during this whole struggle. I wish my friends were here, because we could all enjoy this brewery together. As soon as things have cleared, I am going to introduce everyone I can to this brewery.

The brewery is spacious and well-designed. It was completely empty when I arrived a little before noon on a Tuesday, though a couple groups soon arrived. I can see how this place would be quite busy on weekends and evenings. They seem to have a good beer list. I was intrigued by the seasonal cherry sour called More Than a Feeling. I love sour beer, especially fruity sours. This was a perfect beer for me. I wish I had brought home a growler of this beer, but I had to make a trip to the library on my way home.

I also checked out the food menu, figuring this would be a good place to grab lunch. The beef cheek patty melt caught my eye. I don’t think I have ever ate beef cheeks before, but I have heard how good that part of the cow is. They braise the beef cheeks in their stout beer and pile thick Texas toast with the meat, smoked cheddar, caramelized onions, and mushrooms. This is a sandwich fit for a culinary goddess. I used to think I wasn’t a beef person, but through culinary school, I just realized that I wasn’t served well-prepared beef. This braised meat was so wonderfully beefy, and the other ingredients in the sandwich complemented the beef nicely. The meat was super tender and flavorful.

This sandwich was so big, I chose to take home half and eat for dinner, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to devour the whole thing. I walked to Boston Public Library after this outing, so I didn’t want to be stuffed walking down Boylston Street. The leftovers heated up nicely in the toaster oven, keeping the bread crisp.

When I was sitting at the bar, I had a nice conversation with the bartender, as well as well as the assistant manager. Ben (who is one of the co-founders) was the original executive chef of the brewery. I had a great conversation with them about their beer, their food, and some general culinary chat. They were engaging and clearly passionate members of this field I am trying to enter. I wish I actually lived downtown, because I would make this my neighborhood joint. Still, I think this will be a place I come to frequent.

This post was supposed to be focused on the brewery, but I had a lot of other things on my mind. Since I haven’t had much of a chance to talk about how I was feeling, I figured I’d write about it. After all, my blog really is my public diary. And I do feel a little better having said all this. I’m still having some uneasiness with how the next few months are going to play out, but I can only focus on what I can control. So, maybe I will actually get to devote some time to recipe development during this time and work on my craft. Maybe I will actually have time for self-care and doing something beyond working, school work, and sleep. I do think this is a hard situation for so many, but I am trying to not let it get the best of me.

 

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