Other than trips to the grocery store, an occasional restaurant run for take-out, or rare trips to run an errand, I have not left my house during the self-enforced self-isolation period. .
It's been a long 10 months
I’m reluctant to complain too much about my solitude because I’m one of the privileged few who don’t have to go to work. I depend on the essential workers out there holding it all together, and there is no bottom to the gratitude I feel for these unsung heroes.
And yet … in spite of my appreciation, there are moments when the monotony of staying inside, alone, day after day crushes me.
It would be easy to slip into a pity party and lament my frustration, uncertainty, and boredom, but, what’s the use? I know I’m not alone; we are all suffering in our own ways.
Rather than be a constant killjoy during quarantine, I decided to reframe my story. I chose to not lie around all day in my pajamas with a bag of chips on a Netflix binge. Instead, I found ways to stay busy by amusing myself with latent interests and diversions I’ve never had time for.
Below are some of the ways I have distracted myself from the endlessness of the quarantine:
I learned to bake bread. My no-knead loaves were a hit and the focaccia recipe is a keeper. But, my biscuits turned out like brown little stones. I trashed the whole lot. I vow to try again. I have learned that baking is a process. It takes love, patience, and a lot of trial and error. I’m working on it. I even created a sourdough starter. It was like tending to a fussy baby. I made a couple of tasty loaves, but I’ve decided yeast bread is for me.
I experimented with making “quick pickle vegetables” like the ones we love from the bibimbap we used to eat in Clarksville, Tennessee, at Fort Campbell. I pickled carrots, daikon radish, and cucumbers in a Ball jar in the fridge. I feel so fancy. They are a crunchy accompaniment to my salads. This diversion is a keeper.
I put together several puzzles with my husband. After dinner, my husband and I sit at the end of our dining table staring at pieces until our eyes blur. Eventually we find pieces that fit together. Then we high five. It’s fun to work on something together. There’s something special about actively doing something together, rather than staring at a TV together.
I started using Babbel to learn Spanish and Korean. Every morning, I sip my coffee and practice on the app. Learning a language via app is nowhere near the same as person to person lessons, but it’s what I got for now. And now is where I’m living. Ahora, puedo hablar un poco de Espanol. Korean, on the other hand, is a big challenge. But I refuse to concede!
I am writing more than I have in years. I started a personal blog and publishing pieces on different sites. It feels good to have the open time and space in my day to write dirty first drafts and transform them into articles people actually read.
I enjoyed my first Zoom cocktail party. My husband and our friends shared a cocktail and caught up on Zoom. I really didn’t expect it to be so much fun. We all needed a break to relax and laugh. I miss those goofballs!
I tried take-out from several new-to-me local restaurants. We’re doing our part to help the local economy. Weekly take-out runs to local eateries is new favorite pastime. I’ve discovered new places to eat burgers, tacos, and other favorite foods. Baking and cooking are fun, but even that gets boring day after day. Nowadays, picking up takeout feels like a treat.
The truth is, I can’t change the situation I’m in. None of us can. Whether we like it or not, COVID-19 is not going anywhere for the time being. Even with the vaccine, it will take time for the world as we knew it to level out. My feelings about it, and the energy I bring to the day are irrelevant. It is what it is, like it or not.
But, what I can change is my response to the situation. I don’t have to be a victim. I can decide to spiral into a tantrum, or I can choose to find one small thing to be grateful for every day. I can choose to be productive and open to possibility in this new normal I find myself in.
Adapting, adjusting, and finding a new normal is a process. Some days are harder than others, and I’m not sitting here being Pollyanna about it. I am a work in progress, just like everyone else. So, I get up every day and re-decide to hold for another day.
The only thing I can control right now is my reactions. I get to decide how I invest my time and energy. No pandemic or outside situation can control how I choose to respond. It’s not much, but so far, it’s helping me be optimistic.