Mary Beth Writes

In the first week of quarantine one of my kids said, “I hate the coronavirus. I hate this so much.” The fury in their voice surprised me but they were right. This disease is horrible, dangerous, lethal, unknown … and it is breaking the world. Humans are dying. Everybody else’s lives are upside down and backwards.

This is no joke so let me be clear. There is nothing about Coronavirus I like or appreciate. Nothing. 

But there are things I appreciate about the experience of being quarantined.  None of us asked for this, but it is not all awful.

Today I am going to try to think of things I like about living ‘locked-down’.  Also, as most of hyou are aware, I'm retired. I don’t have a job. I don’t have kids or elderly parents to care for. I am in a uniquely free part of my life. Like most of us, Len and I have known difficult times, but as long as we and our loved ones stay healthy - this is not one of them.

1. It’s weird how little traffic there is.  I rarely have to wait at any intersection.  I mean, I do stop because I didn’t get to be this old by ignoring crosswalk signs.  I look both ways and even though Waukesha’s voiced commands are saying “Wait, Wait!” I cross the street with insouciance.

Sometimes, just to stay current on my Wild Woman Badge, I walk in the middle of a street.

2. Sourdough bread!  $16 per pound yeast? Are you kidding me?  Len has become the Master of the Sourdough Starter and the Baker of the Sourdough Bread.  This is absolutely the best bread I’ve eaten in my life.  

We got our 50 pounds of North Dakotas Mills bread flour yesterday. This is what our fridge now looks like.

3. Knowing one tends to be introverted is one thing. Living six weeks in quarantine and feeling oneself thriving in it is … profound?

I am looking back at parts of my life where I was most unhappy; those times were always times when I was super busy with social obligations.

We had a conversation about this here in the comments a week ago; I said something I’d not thought of before. Most women are raised to be social. It’s the job ascribed to us by society, it’s also our survival skill in a dangerous and dismissive world. 

Which means the natural temperament of introvert girls got pushed to the side as we learned to negotiate a world not set-up for inward-oriented women. 

I like people and I’m not shy. I have friends and plan to continue enjoying them for a long, long time. But I am also kinda pumped to live the rest of my life as an unapologetic introvert!

Are you an introvert? Maybe read this... 

4. I’ve walked all my life. One of my first memories was walking with my grandfather who said I was a good walker.  Since we all know what dilly-dalliers little kids can be, that must have been one of my purposeful days. I do remember holding his hand and am grateful to have that sweet memory.

Since I don’t have to go places during quarantine, I’m walking way more.  I don’t get up in the morning and “get ready for my busy, social day.” I get up, put on yesterday’s stale clothes and go out for a long walk.  Len is riding his bike more.  I don’t think city-dwellers can do this as much. They have Mayor Lightfoot standing at the end of their block, arms crossed, telling them to go back to their apartment.

5. I like writing every day. 

6. Cooking. I like that Len is doing WAY more of it than me.

7. Sometimes I have insomnia but usually I am sleeping better. All that walking and sourdough bread.

8. Underneath the pain of people, the earth is shifting. We are not fighting climate crisis. We are not fixing anything.  But here in this hiatus, I hear birds all the time and everywhere.  I can almost feel and hear the earth breathing. 

9. More people seem to be a lot more angry about the inequalities we live with; about how much earth’s wealth has been grabbed by the global imperialists and their uber-rich sycophant relatives. It is a topic. About time.

I read this today on Facebook; written by a guy I’ve never heard of.

“We are not in the same boat, but we are in the same storm.” 

10. We get to Facetime read storybooks to our 3-year old granddaughter almost every day before her nap (and our naps). I  love this so much. 

What are you noticing about quarantine that ii s interesting or positive?




Wait for your mail everyday.. Has helped in many ways.. Thank you!!!!
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you. It keeps me going, too. Paying attention is a way to stay upright when things are crazy.

Yep, sourdough is The Best. I had a home-grown starter for years named Bubbles. One time when I had to move, I gave Bubbles to a bread-baking friend. Knowing that friend, Bubbles may still be alive and ... bubbling. My understanding about introverts, of whom I am one, is that in addition to being depleted by too much noise and too many people, even beloved ones, we make decisions based on our assessments and not those of others. Looking at the world from inside quarantine, I have definitely decided for myself whom and what to believe, which is not much of what’s being said. I’m not sure, this time, if this is a good or a bad thing. Lol Sedgwick, who is in Day 43 of quarantine

No school shootings, no mass shootings in public places.

I like that I can play games with friends and still be at home. I like hosting a party for which I only clean the upper part of one room and don't have to think of what food to feed people. I like that I don't have to wear shoes to work, and that I can start and end my workday an hour later because there are no bus schedules to organize around. I like the lack of traffic too. LA will really grieve that piece when things start to crowd up again.

!!!WOW!!! #37, ¿Who'd a thunk? Friday I enjoyed a 2 1/2hr phone conversation with a new friend... Saturday it was yard work, Indian take out for dinner with Michael followed by a surprise Zoom 3rd B-Day party for the great niece... That night instead of a good night text from the new friend he sent me the Beatles singing "Good Night" ( He's racking up browny points ) This sunny morning I had my coffee on the lake while enjoying the sun as it danced upon the water, excercised and sunbathed.( 1st time ) then a leisurely breakfast... Came home and dragged some large plants outside for cleaning, watering and a little bit of sun... They had been pretty much ignored all winter and yet survived the abuse.( ¿Who Knew? ) The plants have been crowded around the piano next to a large window for the winter... I rearranged the plants when I brought them in giving me full access to the keyboard which couldn't be reached even if I wanted to... Now with all the time on my hands I'll be able to get back to creating music only for my own ears.( You'll thank me later ) It's truly been a good weekend...

I am also an introvert and I work at home - so, I am used to being alone. We also take care of my 88 year old Mom - but, now we can’t - we have to trust her asst living facility to do the things she need and they are awesome. I am loving getting my entire house clean - to have the time to read. My husband and I are on our 2nd Netflix series. I am well into making a granny square alfgan. I am still working full time and am overjoyed that tomorrow my work hours will drop to a 32 hour week. Except for missing my family - and the sorrow I feel for all going on in the world - I am amazingly content. Right now, we have been given ‘“permission” to just take care of ourselves.
Mary Beth's picture

Perfectly said.

I have been lonely in a crowd. Years of feeling like “the other” no longer exists as I am not faced with my differences of thought, behavior, wants and needs. Home with my cat, my handcrafts, walks inside and out, and still physical therapy for my shoulder. Today is an absolutely glorious day: windows open, sunshine, a slight breeze. I will thrive.

When I lived in San Francisco I had a sour dough starter: the weather is perfect for it! Many loaves...for myself and my co-workers at Levi Strauss & Co. Until the day my second floor apartment was robbed and the starter was knocked over...
Mary Beth's picture

Oh No!!

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Quarantine Diary #150 8/11/2020 Taking a Break

I’m depressed. How about you?  I’m not the kind of depressed where I should call a doctor. I’m more “Michelle Obama depressed.”  Things feel stuck, wrong, and getting worse. There’s the pandemic and the feeble, chaotic response to it. There’s racial strife. When, if ever, will the police police themselves? Teachers and kids are being thrown back into schools like spaghetti thrown against a wall - to see who will stick? There’s the angry self-entitled idiocy of too many people.

Quarantine Diary #142 Swimming Lessons

“It's a good idea to begin at the bottom in everything except in learning to swim.” Unknown author

I was well into my 40’s when I realized that one doesn’t have to wait for perfect weather if one wants to go into the water. 

Quarantine Diary #141 8/5/2020 "Red Dust"

I just finished reading “Red Dust – A Path Through China” by Ma Jain.  It is a remarkable book that asks more questions than it answers.

Ma Jain was born in the 50’s and grew up grew up very poor in a small Chinese city. He remembers when his mother would simmer stones for dinner so that the neighbors would see her cooking and not realize how poor they were.  (A whole different take on the children’s tale “Stone Soup.") The violent and terrifying Cultural Revolution that Chinese citizens lived through is over but memories of it are in everyone’s minds.

Quarantine Diary #140 7/31/2020 Wishing you a Merry Quarantine Weekend

When I’m in a certain mood I love how-to articles – and I’m in that mood right now. I think it happens at the intersection of reasonable weather and Friday ... when happiness still seems possible.

I googled “How to have a nice weekend in the time of Covid” and guess what? There are no Wiki-How articles on how to be happy in a pandemic.

Let’s invent this right here, right now.

Quarantine Diary #134 Written while sweating …

My best coping skill for appalling weather is to show it who is boss. 30 below?  Cool. Let me put on all my clothes plus a hat down to my eyebrows and another one up to my glasses, and I’ll go out there.

Quarantine Diary #131 7/23/2020 "Becoming Labrador"

Yesterday I forgot to write about a movie we watched which I think many of you might like to watch, also.  We’ve been talking here about what one can stand to read and watch these days when our spirits are stressed and anxious.

I thought I wanted to reprise some of our Canada travels.  FYI, if you’ve traveled in a place you loved, put that place into your streaming service Search window, find some great or mediocre documentaries about that place, and revisit your memories.  It’s fun.

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