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  • Writer's pictureJenna Beall Mueller

Let's Talk Quarantine.

I haven't left the house, with the exception of walks around our neighborhood, since Friday, March 13th.

I realize this is a blessing. Adam and I are lucky we can work from home. We're fortunate to be able to afford grocery deliveries. We're extremely lucky that neither of us has gotten sick.

I originally wrote this post as a sort of pep talk—here are all the awesome things you can do while social distancing!—because that's how my mind operates. Not only a hopeless romantic, I'm also a hopeless optimist. I once applied for a master's program at the University of St. Andrews (Yes! The one in Edinburgh, where William and Kate met) and was completely heartbroken when I received my rejection letter.

I'll never forget my Dad consoling me. "How many students does the program accept?" he asked.

"Five," I said between sobs.

"Jenna." My dad struggled to keep a straight face, but he was already beginning to laugh. He went on to tell me that while I'm a wonderful writer, the St. Andrews program had been a very long shot, and that I shouldn't be quite so torn up over it.

I went into this whole social distancing practice with high hopes.

I was going to finish a novel manuscript and write a new children's series.

I was going to turn into a workout fiend—God, maybe I'd have the calves of Serena Williams by the time this was all over!

I was going to deep clean our house with gusto. Why, I would even find time to clean the Ruggables—and anyone who owns an 8x10 Ruggable knows what a pain that is.

I was going to cook complicated recipes from my Julia Child cookbooks.

Speaking of Julia Child, I was definitely going to work on my French.

I was going to finally attack that "Books I Want to Read" list on my Goodreads account.

I was going to learn how to contour my face so I looked ten pounds thinner.

And on and on and on.

The reality is that quarantine has been tough. It's hard waking up in the morning, even after eight hours of sleep, when you have no place to go. Oftentimes, it's hard to even sleep, as I toss and turn thinking of worst case scenarios. There are so many scary things happening right now: people are getting sick, people are dying, our healthcare system and its workers are totally overwhelmed, people are losing their jobs, our beloved small businesses are in jeopardy... It's devastating, and there is a lot to be anxious about.

While I appreciate the slower mornings and the noontime walks, working from home has its own challenges. Sometimes the audio is wonky during an important meeting, or a system trudges along, so, so slowly. Often, I'm clenching my teeth as the dogs completely freak out over someone walking down the street, the mail carrier having the audacity to do his job, or, you know, a squirrel.

This is the park we can walk to from our house. What a luxury!

Margot usually has to be carried home.

I've been doing some stress online shopping. I bought a candelabra (unnecessary) from anthropologie and lots of Bath and Body Works hand soaps (practical and fun). I washed the duvet for the first time in months, though I haven't had the ambition to put it back over the down comforter yet.

I've also been eating a lot. I'm not talking fruits and vegetables either. I'm talking Ghirardelli brownies, Dot's pretzels, Goldfish crackers, Graeter's ice cream, and cheese. So. Much. Cheese. Have I mentioned I'm not eating vegan anymore?

It's a true victory if I find the motivation to shower, so you can bet I'm not finding the drive to work out, cook complex dishes, brush up on a foreign language, etc.

Evenings and weekends are weird. I love and appreciate all the time Adam and I get to spend together, and I like that we're slowing down. I really do. But I'm also realizing how much joy I got out of walking to our neighborhood cheese shop or stopping by Nine Giant's Plinko Night. I miss those random interactions with strangers at the bar. And I definitely miss seeing a bustling Pleasant Ridge business district. I miss the simple luxury of going to a museum on a rainy Saturday. I miss the excitement of seeing my favorite coworkers arrive for the day or an afternoon stroll for coffee. Gosh, one of the things I miss most of all is mindlessly wandering around Target.

There are good parts of quarantine, for sure. Adam and I eat lunch together most days, usually a spread of homemade sourdough bread, cheddar cheese, and apple slices, and I cherish those 30 minutes perched around our little smorgasbord. I am getting a lot more creative writing done than usual, and I love our neighborhood sing-a-longs during the week. I'm FaceTiming with friends both near and far when we used to exclusively text. I have a new appreciation for our house and our yard. I certainly have a new appreciation for our dogs, who both drive me crazy and keep me sane.

My new IT support

This whole post is to say this: Quarantine is a strange, complicated time. It's great if you're doing fabulous things like organizing your spice cabinet, penning the next Great American Novel, or cleaning all your windows. But it's also great if you're binge watching Tiger King, re-reading favorite books, or sleeping twelve straight hours in a single night. The only "right" thing to be doing right now is staying home and distancing ourselves from others. So, if you're doing that?

You're handling quarantine beautifully.

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