Quarantine Diaries: Coping And Staying Sane

Quarantine Diaries is a communal project of stories from our readers about how they are managing their lives during the coronavirus crisis. In this piece, readers share their daily coping strategies.

We have 14 acres to call our own on which we enjoy the sunshine, the fresh air, the feeling of spring on the horizon, the freedom of not being cooped up. We watch the fruit on our trees slowly ripening, anticipating their juicy sweetness. We wait.

Michelle Faerman Baer, 31, from Melrose, Florida

With my immediate family spread throughout the world in different time zones, one quick way of connecting every day is with a little art contest we’re doing. Each day, someone picks something to draw and we all have to post them in our group chat. Even my 60-something-year-old parents are getting into it.

Tarryn Rudolph, 37, from Vancouver, Canada

This is our time to wait and be still. And to acknowledge the fact that we don’t know what the outcome will be. Breathe deep, my friends. Breathe in peace, breathe out the need for certainty. Breathe in joy, breathe out cynicism. Go in your living room and dance like nobody’s watching. Go in your bathroom and wash your hands like Anthony Fauci is watching. And give me a shout to let me know how you’re doing.

Barbara Gregory, 49, from Westminster, Colorado

We’ve been staying in and making face masks, which we’ve been passing out to neighbors and donating to places that need them. But the first batch was sent to our kids and grandkids along with our face mask challenge: They had to send us a photo of themselves as a well-known couple/group posing with face masks in place. As an example, we posed as Samson & Delilah. The kids went all Photoshop-y on us.

Bill McDannell, 70, and Jonna O’Dell, 73, from Freeport, Illinois

We live on a marsh and love it. Life during the pandemic means time for microscopes, the amazing world of tiny pond creatures, and time for gardening with my wife, Janie. A retired pathologist, I restore classic microscopes, like my Leitz Ortholux that I rebuilt from bits found on eBay and use to study the myriad of tiny creatures in Seattle’s lakes, ponds and swamps.

Rand Collins, 73, from Seattle, Washington

Oh, how fabulous it is to be paying $30,000 in out-of-state tuition just to take online classes in my bedroom. During high school, I worked excruciatingly hard to have good grades and impressive extracurriculars so I could leave my small town and go to college. I skipped parties, dances and get-togethers, and I spent my days studying. Yet after attaining everything I set out to achieve, I am stuck in my room studying, unable to go to parties, dances and get-togethers. It’s like the step I took forward never happened, and I am stranded in the same place with no definitive end in sight. My University of California San Diego experience was filled with learning in classes, going to farmers markets, dancing at concerts, performing in improv shows and many spontaneous trips to the beach. I met friends who will stay with me for a lifetime. I was living the life I worked so hard in high school to have, and the second I got used to it I was forced to leave it all behind. Please stay inside and do your part in flattening the curve. I, like so many others, want my life back.

Megan Cox, 18, from Albany, Oregon

I am a sewing instructor to local refugee and immigrant women. When we were issued the stay-at-home order, classes ceased for our 50 or so students. But we found a new direction. Using donated fabrics, a group of current and former students have begun making masks. Several hundred have been donated to the refugee community, to our affiliated clinic, to low-income housing and the local hospital system.

Lisa Roszler, 56, from Charlotte, North Carolina

Things I have not done in a month: worn jeans, worn a regular bra, applied makeup, done anything with my hair except comb out the knots from messy buns after multiple days of wear, eaten a vegetable.”

Shelby Sayre, 31, from Fargo, North Dakota

We’re on a 46-acre farm on the side of a mountain in Maine. Our area is beloved by tourists from everywhere, but not too many people want to spend winters here. Sheltering in place means one of us is inside working remotely as a therapist and the other is pruning apple trees after an April snowstorm came in, causing great damage. We miss our children and friends. We miss going in to our general store. We are afraid for those who are ill and sad for those who are alone. We are grateful to have land to walk and air to breathe. We’re grateful for Manhattans and “Schitt’s Creek.”

Mia Mantello, 60, from Lincolnville, Maine

My name is Jack. I am 15 years old. I have autism. Next to autism, I have anxiety. They ride beside each other, two passengers in a car. They take turns driving. I call anxiety my fear. I say I am having a fear that cannot go away, and it is a big, huge elephant in my mind and it takes up all the space.

Jack, 15, from New Hampshire, as told to his mother Carrie Cariello

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