Claudia Melton and Dara Khan

Recorded September 26, 2020 Archived September 26, 2020 37:56 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby020077


Dara Khan (34) and his wife, Claudia Melton (34), discuss how their lives have change with the arrival of a newborn and COVID-19.

Subject Log / Time Code

DK asks CM to describe her morning duties with a newborn.
DK describes his adjustment to fatherhood and parenting.
DK describes his upbringing in a non-diverse environment.
CM describes being a librarian and how her work connection her to the community.
DK asks CM, "When did you realize this pandemic was going to affect our lives?"
DK asks CM what she learned about herself during quarantine.


  • Claudia Melton
  • Dara Khan

Recording Location

Virtual Recording


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00:00 Reading has started to go ahead.

00:02 My name is Derek on I'm 34 years old. We're recording today from Las Vegas, Nevada Saturday September 26th, and I'm Claudia's husband.

00:15 My name is Claudia Marie Melton. I am 34 years old. Today is Saturday September 26th, 2020. I am recording from Las Vegas, Nevada. And Dara is my husband.

00:36 Sequoia, how are you? How are you doing? I'm good.

00:41 What are you been up to this morning? Probably around 5 or 6 in the morning because Isaiah needed a diaper changed he needed to eat and he just he just doesn't want us to sleep in any more adjusted to not getting any sleep as a librarian that would probably go to bed at 10 p.m. Or so every night. You've adjusted well to the chaos. Wake up more frequently so I can look after him and he wakes I stopped pretty consistently now. He's on a regular schedule that we didn't create. How are you adjusting to fatherhood?

01:34 Really? Well, I I love taking as an evening when I finish work and getting to play with him getting to drink a beer and hang out with him. He's the come by my number one, you know beers buddy, and I think I really enjoy.

01:56 Zooming in my parents to watch him for a couple hours every day. My perfect world, they'd be here and they be all over Isaiah. But of course, they're being smart and safe and staying home not traveling because of course feature descendants were in the age of coronavirus. So right now until you know how Society figures things out. We're trying to get them to

02:25 Be smart and be safe so that they have many more years of grandparenthood to do you is at your mom so much. I see her in the video chat and I hear her it's hard. I sometimes imagine myself 30 40 years from now and imagining were in a similar situation where I can't be there with my son and his first child that's really really difficult. So I am really proud that you make that time for your mom. And for your brother is for your dad to see and getting a truck with an even though they can't be here. I think by the time your mom does come this year or early next year. He's going to know the sound of her voice.

03:20 Is it hard for you at all to not have them here? I have my family. Here it is and when I when they jump on the zoom, of course, it's it's like we're right there with each other in that my mom's nagging me and tell me all the things. I'm doing wrong and telling me not to burp him too hard and do not make jokes about his pooping and peeing cuz he be embarrassed but at the same time it's really nice to have them because it's this snippet of normalcy and you know a world where almost becomes normal speed adjusted, you know that new normal now, but it still helps just to have them around for him. You know, I'd like to think that he can hear their voices and their excitement and their interest in him and and somehow that's that's going to you know, if that's

04:20 Stay with him. I think so and with my parents living so close. It's really special to me because

04:30 My mother's parents passed away before she had any children. My dad's parents were still alive, but I never really get to know them as much as I would have liked you and to see my mom and dad and siblings get the whole day and be with him.

04:53 It's such a special thing. It's not really guarantee you ever that photo that.

04:59 Pink cupcake my brother took a mom. Dad Noah as his cousin and Isaiah. We talked about this before but being able to you pull your grandkids and house and clothes and you still taking care of yourself to the point that still have plenty of time to see them grow up. So I'm really trying to take advantage of the fact.

05:29 My parents and my parents. Love you so much to you.

05:35 I'm really happy that they do welcome to the Stow Open Arms. Mom wants you to come over when my maternity leave and she expects you to be there. So even though your mom can't be here. I'm really glad that my family is kind of like stop doing that kind of support for all of us time on the west coast, and they really are my family since we

06:02 Married, but they've always looked out for me. They've always kind of accepted me as their own. I think I'm completely different from anyone in your family, but they've always made me feel very loved and very well, I thought it was

06:28 Superb, you know Suburban not very diverse. I was one of you know, probably a handful of South Asian American kids in high school and I think Annapolis Maryland has maybe a four to five percent black population and culturally and economically socioeconomically things are so separated that sides playing basketball with a few kids and having one black friend growing up. I don't really have that many different races and things like that. But no, I didn't want to move to Vegas. I was blown away by how diverse things are. You know, people people don't even know that people live in Las Vegas. What is there outside the strip movie spell whole suburb, which is the most of the city. But yeah, I mind and

07:28 Of course, I moved to the party, you know capital of the world and married a librarian. That's just how I do it.

07:36 Very proud to be a librarian.

07:44 What I want to ask.

07:48 What is it about being a librarian that you like?

07:52 So everyone things working in a library is about books, but it's really about people I am a very introverted person. You know, I'm the person of the party who stands in the back and watches and has a perfectly good time doing that.

08:09 My job is a librarian that was all about people because it's a public service and I have to get to know everybody from zero to a hundred and it's good for me as a person.

08:26 I don't have the ability or the time to discriminate against people. Unfortunately, sometimes I work in the library and people will be upset when they see many people who are homeless or many people who might be different from them and they feel safe telling me how they feel and that you know, they are there wondering what why is this person here? Why is that person there? This person is he's in the library that the way I think they should be using library and I have to tell folks.

08:58 It's not my place to judge. Everyone is welcome here. You're welcome here same as the person sitting ten feet away from you that we're talking about. So that's what I like about the library. It's it's just being able to work with people and just get to know them and then you know where I get to defend people and their right to have access to books in the internet and as frustrating as the small something that we need a 4.

09:40 I don't I don't think people know how Wild it is being a librarian the Mustang everything's nice and quiet and you wear glasses and you read all day, but the fact of the matter is especially in a place like Las Vegas is more than just a place where people go to learn. It's a community center. It's a safe space for people. I always laugh at every crazy story you have Library cuz for every nice Patron, I feel like there are two or three lists a eccentric wands and all that. You have a security guard at work The View.

10:24 You know what? I tell people or share news articles about how Librarians across the country are learning how to use Narcan people just don't understand how much of a Support Center Library really is and it's not really until you talk to a librarian that you can even come in a figure out what what that world is like it just looks like a place where people go to get book don't quite understand what today's modern library is about because we are all about people and they don't discriminate things to treat yourself. Well be treated as well as cheap space. Will your you're more than welcome and for everyone crazy situation I have I have 99 totally regular interactions, but that 1% really really does does stand out. I just really grateful that I can make it.

11:24 Money to support my family has something something. I love you work for Caesars Entertainment here in Vegas hangover. I work in software development for Caesars and asked me if I have a freestyle for half the system and whenever jackpot know I work in software development apps that are employees use and I moved out to Vegas to take that job with scissors and it brought me to you and brought me to all my friends that I've made out here all the adventures Outdoors. I've had here. It's always tough to move from home, but I'm so glad I did it cuz

12:20 From every fun crazy adventure to meeting you to starting our family out here to just just the environment bright and sunny. It's beautiful when you're by so many national parks. All those things is so different from growing up in the east coast where

12:40 Out here You Can See For Miles depending on where you are and see mountains when you're on the East Coast you can barely see above the trees and especially in Maryland, the swampy area around you so that was a big change. But yeah, I love what I do. I love the people that I work with him. Yeah. I mean, it's fun to hear The Hangover stories that really do happen all over this trip. Someone asked me what it's like working in Vegas when I moved out here and I said, you know, you hear the crazy stories and Vegas really is a wild place, but it's also very fun place. I'm in a weird way. I think it's kind of a very promising place cuz

13:21 When people come to Vegas, they're not coming to Nest some people are coming to relax the most people are coming to aim to have the best time of their life and course doesn't always work out that way, but I don't know that there is a place like that anywhere else in the world where everyone just bats on having an incredible incredible time.

13:44 That is definitely a characteristic of Vegas. Everybody wants to have a good time, but they may not they may not have a good time right now with coronavirus Las Vegas is really really struggling. I'm so many people have lost their jobs.

14:07 Kids are not in physical school during virtual. School's what do you what do you think of all of all of this?

14:18 Oh, I think people are adjusting to

14:23 All the challenges better than governments are

14:27 And I think some people are better prepared than others. One thing that we realized as Lockdown came about was we were very lucky. We were pregnant. Will he were unsure about our jobs? We were stuck in the house with our dog and our soon-to-be born son together, but we both knew as we started hearing stories about what was happening all over the country that we were super fortunate to be in the position. We were in we could have our groceries delivered where some people were barely scraping by and still are a half a mile around the block you would hear at meanwhile, we've got home delivery because we're fortunate we were able to go to the doctors and get medicines and

15:16 Have everything we need delivered to us by Amazon. And it's it's a it's one of two stories of these times. I think if you were wealthy if you are fortunate if you have privilege you can weather this storm at even through hardships life goes on but that's only one story for the people that have enough to weather the storm. There's so many people that don't end are screwed unless someone steps in to help them unless they have a support system must have a government that works for them. They are just they're done for and you can see those stories to now and so one thing I got out of all of this was

16:07 You know getting back whenever you can is important. I've got two old compete not old computers the two computers that could be donated that I thought about selling on eBay. Clark County Tech fun educational text mom cuz somebody needs those and we've been more active. I think they never thinking about you know, what we're going to stations. Can we donate to like black lives matter and Southern Poverty Law Center ACLU

16:39 The local at the food bank

16:45 Crazy that we live in a timer in the 21st set for 20 years is a 21st century and people are still struggling to suit and I am incredibly grateful that we were able to weather the storm up until this point the way we have

17:07 But it's impossible to forget that there's just so many of our neighbors her chest.

17:16 I I normally see many of those Folks at the library using the computers just having a moment to themselves to have some peace in the quiet of a nickel free removed from that right now because we have Isaiah. I feel like we're leading up to you at to have a nice day. We've just been a little bubble and we've gone out here and gone out there. It's just an incredible to see how drastically things have changed in what it was March when we were walking up for a few months. I was going to ask you about that because

17:58 We found out we were pregnant December of last year December 2019 and

18:07 By March we were locked down like the rest of the country.

18:11 But you had a drop on things. When did you realize that this pandemic was going to affect our lives so we can see if we got married in August we conceived in November and I found out the first couple weeks of December. So I knew I was pregnant about 2 to 3 weeks, which is really incredible. But at the end of December I got very very sick and I was sick for a long time. I think I got sick the last week of December and I didn't get better until the first week of March and I chalked it up to you being pregnant and being vulnerable to all sorts of diseases and things like that to this day. I really don't know what it was can't say it was the coronavirus or not, but I was tested for the flu. I was treated for a sinus infection.

19:11 But whatever it was it stayed and it linger in during that time.

19:17 I could only stay in bed and wash YouTube and for whatever reason the YouTube algorithm decided to recommend videos from use agencies in Asia talking about the coronavirus and I didn't think I had the coronavirus still don't know if I had it in the past then but I would watch and I would watch them and see that the news agencies in Asia were saying was drastically different from what they were saying in the United States.

19:50 Three to four weeks were it was barely making the news in the United States and seeing what the people in Wuhan China we're going through the way people in Korea for preparing based on these music. I just knew that this was going to state if it if it wasn't bad. So I think it's that time I figured out it was going to be a rough time and then think it was when I got better early March I went to you and I said, I think we need to get prepared. I thought you thought I went crazy person cuz I stopped food emergency medical supplies. We still have a

20:43 A closet full of like disaster equipment just in case, you know, the worst actually happens to make that mental leap to say everything is going to change was was difficult. You had your experience there. Were you knew that I was interested in sex all the time. Yeah. Yeah. It was I mean, it was scary when you were sick because in the first trimester, there's not a lot you can take or do you just kind of have to weather it? So, you know, we went to the hospital to check in on you wands. We you know, there's just nothing to do with not getting better weather at end.

21:36 I

21:39 I would listen to you and I did not think that it was going to be this impactful in the US. I was traveling for work and travel to Atlanta for a few days for work in and at the end of February and when I flew their family in December and come back and spend some time in Islamabad for my cousin's wedding and even then I mean there wasn't much talk of it. It's not far from the Chinese border.

22:14 And

22:16 There's nothing seemed out of place them. So I said how bad can it really be this would be news on the side of the world and then it hit me when I was coming back from Atlanta sings it completely I travel a lot and usually the TSA agents are very diligent about

22:35 Checking your ID scanning at all of them were wearing masks. Wasn't that way when I traveled into town a few days before they were letting people through very quickly and one of the ways I know something's up is when you know, he's kind of tear down that probably doesn't need to be there and the TSA PreCheck in lines. If you're usually reserved for people that pay for that service to move through the airport faster all of them were wide open and they were not checking people. They just wanted to get the flow of people going as soon as they can as soon as I could and limit lines and Gatherings of people so that point I thought something might be up and then sure enough that week at work my team discussed work-from-home what you would do every Friday but never for a whole week and then two weeks later a National Emergency was declared.

23:32 Things move slowly until they move really quickly and we came out June, but you were still working from home, but I had to go back into the library was probably about 5-6 months pregnant at the time. How would you prepare I was ready to go back. I was scared to go back but we

24:06 We're it's debatable whether or not a library is an essential resource. I think a librarian is an essential resource because Internet isn't free internet is expensive people want to come to the library, but initially and I agreed with his decision completely. We were still a lot to the public and we would arrange curbside to go to the library to take out the materials to them and they could move on and have that entertainment some of the people I talk to you though. Contact with people since lockdown they would call the library and he was like, are you guys open and we've explained door partially open for curbside pickup, especially for the seniors. They hadn't talked to anybody really in the outside world for that time. And not only have they not talk to anyone. They haven't been outside and I believe many of those still haven't left some of their see

25:06 Senior Communities because it's just too dangerous for them. But I think the location of my library had one of the highest rates of covid-19.

25:28 My team again it was good to be around people in to have a project and something to work on and that first 30 days I think was mentally good for me because I had I had something to do during lockdown weed guard and I didn't we we created our own projects, but there is something about working going to work that I do really really love and that I continue to work in the library until I was ready to give birth. I worked in the background away from people but I was there and being a manager being a team leader. I had to figure out how do I be present for my team but not present for the safety of myself and my kids

26:26 But that's not what you sign up for when you choose to be in a leadership position. You got to

26:33 And I still think about my co-workers and my papers at the library, but I really try to disconnect the last 45 days cuz I still have another great ideas ahead of me of maternity leave just to focus on Isaiah and slow down and enjoy this time cuz I don't know if I'll ever get another time to be with him this much cuz I go I go back to work after the election, which is perfect timing.

27:12 What did you learn about yourself when we were in lockdown that you didn't know before or what? What is what kind of crystallized for you more about yourself?

27:22 It's not about myself but about us we dated for four years and we've been married now just over one locked out during lockdown. That was the most time that we spent with each other like we we spend time with each other after work we spend time with each other all week. We spent the most time together. It's a good Global pandemic spend every waking moment together.

27:55 I know some people who struggle with trying time for them, but for us it's on the relationship side on the emotional side of the family side. It was and it was it was good to spend that much time together and it wasn't that other little differently or deeper. We just really had more time to spend with each other cuz you're working 40 hours a week. I'm working 40 hours a week. You have your hobbies. I have my hobbies but lockdown really did keep us in one place and

28:38 It also made me feel about able to create a really good family life for Isaiah. We're not we're not carrying each other's eyes out. I just think we I just think we made lemonade out of lemons were here to just make the most of it, but we can and that's another sign of our privilege to have a nice own where you can have or not. You have an office space and I can go on the backyard.

29:16 It wasn't even if it's something we can manage and I think we did pretty well with it.

29:26 So I say I was born on August 14th.

29:30 What was it like being in the hospital? And did you notice anything that seemed out of place or that was just different that stood out to you because of Coronavirus?

29:43 I I noticed how much care everyone I say is my first child. So I don't know what it's like to have a baby outside of the times that we're having the hospital seemed emptier hair, but

30:10 There was

30:13 It's hard to put my finger on there just seemed to be something missing and I think it's just everyone was extremely cautious these nurses and doctors have families to go back to you. So maybe

30:30 Maybe that was it.

30:33 I just can't put my finger on it. But I do feel that. Oh, I know what it is.

30:40 You are the only one allowed to be with me and I've had friends you've given birth family has given birth and it was such a joyous situation cuz you have family and friends to come to the hospital to see you. And thankfully you were allowed to be there. But Mom was not I wasn't able to invite my friends. I wasn't able to invite my family. So we had Isaiah on a Friday. We left the hospital on a Sunday and you know, it was that the family aspect that was missing that that celebration that joyous the joyous event that we can share with many many people. Everything was done virtually yours over the phone and that's a good substitute, but it's on it.

31:37 My mom it was like she was as far away as your mom.

31:40 What is the I just had to wait a couple days to see here?

31:48 But I'm glad you could could be there.

31:52 Glad I didn't have to do it alone cuz I heard stories in March of people who has to give birth without any family support. I don't think I could have done that.

32:05 So Isaiah's born in the age of covid-19, but he is a very diverse little guy with hopefully a lot of good things to look forward to in the Horizon. What's what's your single greatest wish for Isaiah?

32:23 What are they going to have a happy long life? I don't have any particular wishes beyond that. I do want you to know and this is something my dad shared with me that carry with me through difficult times something his mom told him and I'm sure those Generations back but I just want you to know that he's loved he's always been loved and he always will be loved and sometimes when you have a challenge in your life is knowing that the people around you to care and do love you. I can carry you through some really really dark times.

33:03 So that's all I want for him. I wanted to be happy always want him to remember whether it's now or leasing a year old man, and he will see that we won't see it with him a difficult process. But with our memories will be hanging out.

33:41 You're you are such a lovely little boy holding you in my arms right now, and we love you so much. I think that's his crazy is that he has time throughout his life.

34:12 Explore and question just the meaning of existence and reality and what I mean by that is I guess I mean in a few different ways may be scientifically, what are the things? I loved him with Isaiah's watching a PBS show called space time where everything from the quantum nature reality to the farthest reaches of the Galaxy or Explorer. So whether it's scientifically or religiously he's

34:42 The son of a Muslim dad and Catholic mom have a lot of opportunities to explore the World Through The Eyes of religion and even just threw what self-worth means to him whether it is or

35:08 Something artistic. I hope he's always asking himself. What's

35:14 What's the purpose of these things but also at the same time not getting to lost that being able to say I'm enjoying the moment. I don't have I can put away the distractions and I can just sit down and think about what I'm grateful for when I'm happy for what I wake up for every morning who I love to me. That's what it means to question the nature of reality and end Your Existence is to think about those things and be grateful for what you do have and to stay curious about the things that you don't yet understand we had we watch a some YouTubers that sail around the world and one of them has this funny saying he says in his Australian accent. He says all will be revealed in the fullness of Todd. So I hope Isaiah takes that that Mantra to Heart

36:09 I do too. I hope I hope you asked questions.

36:13 Ask ask a lot of questions and go out seek your answers.

36:19 Do you have a any closing thoughts for our descendants that are hopefully in a few hundred years on the moon or Mars are on space stations and the captain into the Library of Congress from wanting to know what things are like in 2020. Do you have any any pointers for them?

36:39 I don't have any pointers. I stick with what's gotten me through.

36:44 You're loved he's always been loved and you always will be loved and I think that will get you through any situation on planet Earth deep sea station Aurora Colony on Mars will see if you want to go to Mars. Just let us know. We'll help you get there.

37:16 Near a lake

37:22 Any closing thoughts?

37:26 I think if you're watching this or listening to this in a few hundred years just remember that.

37:33 Have a good sense of humor, but be resilient and I think those two things with some love mixed in wall will take you very far and give you what you need to not just to make it but to thrive.

37:46 Hey greet.

37:54 How to do coordinate