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A Freshman’s Guide to Quarantine

Chapter 1. Life Before Quarantine

To introduce myself, my name is Danny Palmer. I’m writing this based on my experiences with this quarantine to hopefully help those who read persevere until life returns to normal. 

Speaking of normal, for me life was good up to quarantine. I had just begun to really enjoy my freshman year of high school. I enjoyed all of my classes, I was in fun extracurricular activities, and I was finding good friends. 

One of my favorite classes was English. Not only because I had just published the same piece twice, in “The Quill” and MSJ’s amazing English teachers’ book called “Insights.” But also because that was the time of year when freshmen at Mount Saint Joseph would be working on their Solutions Showcase Project. It was fun because everyone’s project was different in a way. Some guys built objects like instruments or made podcasts on sports or another subject they enjoyed. 

I was working on a stuffed animal donation drive for kids who were experiencing some kind of trauma in their lives. My project was going very smoothly up to quarantine. I was working on a poster I planned to hang up around the school. I also was calling Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, The Ronald McDonald House, and Stuffed Animals for Emergencies to see if they would like to be a part of the drive and collect the donations. The next step for me was to start the drive throughout the school with the permission from Miss Coyne to collect the stuffed animals. 

Besides organizing the school drive, almost every day after school I was able to participate in MSJ’s show “Newsies.” In the show I played the character of Les. This was my first show I’d ever been in. Auditioning for this show helped me find my passion and helped me gain this confidence to do more. Being able to go to rehearsals with my friends was the highlight of my day every time. I was even planning on going to the Spring Formal Dance with a girl that I met at rehearsals.

A little more about myself. I love to do art. All of my classes were great and I loved doing all of them, but art is my favorite. I found the art room to be my safe haven in school. It was a great place to go and relax. I was also in the art club that was held almost every Wednesday after school in the art room.

Besides the art room and rehearsals, being in my homeroom was another highlight of my day. I got to see all my friends, most of whom were in the show. Some of my friends and I also loved going to the games especially during the basketball season. 

Then word of the Coronavirus started spreading around the world and we heard rumors that we’d go into quarantine. No one really believed it at first because it just seemed so harmless and felt like a joke. Then the school started to take more precautions and I saw my life and what I loved begin to crumble. Then quarantine finally struck and everything that was normal was gone. 

Chapter 2. BOOM!

First off, what is Covid-19? It is a type of Coronavirus that spreads extremely quickly between hosts by air or physical contact. It originated in China and spread quickly throughout the world affecting major world economies. The virus completely stopped unnecessary travel, caused social distancing and finally caused quarantine. 

When the quarantine came, it was a surprise to most of us. It just seemed to escalate very quickly. Everything changed. We were told the bare minimum of quarantine would be two weeks, but deep down we knew it would be much longer. Then the fact set in that we wouldn’t be able to see our friends and do the activities we love to do. I continued to practice for the show still hoping that it would happen. 

Meeting up with my teachers and friends online, and knowing that they were ok was a huge relief. However, online learning was definitely a change. For me the hardest thing to do was finding the encouragement and motivation that I normally found in the classroom. Also when you’re not with your friends in a work setting being overlooked by the teacher it seems pointless. 

Life became so boring. Not being able to see friends, participate in activities, and being cooped-up in a house with the same people for more than a month is ANNOYING! Everything good that I was planning to do flew out the window. Like going to the Spring Formal Dance, performing in “Newsies” with my friends, or doing a school wide drive, and donating the stuffed animals to kids, and presenting my work to a professional panel of judges.

Speaking of the project, I had to completely scrap the idea and start over. So while I searched for a new idea, I thought, how can I help people in the MSJ community? So I decided that I could write a guide based on my experiences with this “Coronacation” that would help me and others to deal with quarantine.

Chapter 3. Do’s and Don’ts

The following is based on my experiences with quarantine. 

Do’sDon’ts
Stay in touch with friends and familyKeep yourself in isolation
ExerciseBe a slob
Try new hobbiesBinge the crap out of Netflix
Clean around the housePray your Mama will do it
Get ahead or catch up on schoolwork Say whatever 
Read a bookTry to reach a high score of 100 on Flappy Bird
Turn off Social Media for a whileTurn on Social Media for a while 
Go to bed and wake up at a normal time Stay up till 4 am on video games and wake up at 2 pm

Keeping in Touch 

Quarantine has started! That doesn’t mean we are completely apart. It’s healthy to stay connected with family and friends. A daily text like “Hey! How are you doing?” or just a quick five minute phone call as a check up on friends and family will not only improve your mental health, but others’ too. Without this you may feel a sense of loneliness. 

There is a chance that we may not see each other until January of 2021. I think that the biggest challenge with this quarantine is uncertainty. We have to remember that at this point no one knows when or how this quarantine will end. No one can see into the future, people can only make predictions, which do not always turn out to be the truth. 

  • Disconnect 

New truths are being refreshed on the news all the time. No matter if it’s the C.D.C., Fox News, C.N.N., W.H.O., etc. Whether or not it is about the death count around the world, the total of people who contracted the virus, or if the curve will flatten over the summer before school starts up again in the fall. Constantly checking the news can cause stress and anxiety. 

Though it is good to stay informed, too much news can be bad for your mental health. Just by turning off the Internet or other social platforms like Snapchat or Instagram and spending more time with family you will do yourself a lot of good. Even Archbishop William Lori had a few words to say about this particular problem related to the pandemic, “If we’re stuck at home watching all this, we’re going to get fatigued and become discouraged.” 

Even though school hours are shortened and pushed back, that doesn’t mean we should stay up till midnight watching Netflix or playing video games. I’m sure most, if not all of us, have already done this. Going to bed at a normal time every day, possibly at 10:30 p.m., can help you to do more the following day. 

Read a book. Try picking up new hobbies. Like an instrument, making art, sewing, woodworking, etc. Maybe if you are fortunate enough to have a large front or backyard, practice the sport you’re a part of.

  • Getting Ahead

We might be stuck at home for a lot longer, possibly till the end of 2020. Make use of it! Besides getting into new hobbies, we have to remember that school is still a thing. Most of our teachers have already posted more assignments than we can count. It’s important not to fall behind. Even if you did, now is still a good time to catch up. 

It’s also important to stay on top of your tasks because we are a part of a bigger plan. You see, the county needs proof that online learning is working. If you do not want school to go further into the summer it’s important to get your work done. 

  • Clean around the House

Also since we are home more it’s best to do our mothers a favor and clean around the house. Most of us are the ones who have to go to the store for the necessities because our parents or guardians might have pre-existing conditions. This makes it extremely important to always be washing our hands. I find it best whenever you pass your kitchen or bathroom sink just to wash your hands then. Scrubbing down all flat surfaces such as tabletops, counters, shelves, etc is very helpful. Just by doing light house cleaning once or twice a week you will make a lot of improvement.

  • Exercise 

Being home for over a month can be challenging. Especially since we are not outside more often doing sports or other activities it’s important to continue the amount of exercise we used to receive or at least get as close to it as possible. Just being outside for an hour can help. 

Before this whole quarantine started I went to the YMCA about three times a week. I know that most of the guys at MSJ were going to the gym, YMCA, or other places to exercise. Sure the equipment at the gym was great and really did make a difference, but even though we are at home that doesn’t mean we should stop. I recall my friends telling me that they sort of or completely stopped working out regularly because of quarantine. 

I think that quarantine is actually the best time to get in shape and work out. We are at home 24/7 now. Make use of it! I’ve started to challenge myself to different workouts recently. Since we aren’t outside as much as we usually are, I like to find a small space in the living room or basement and jump rope. In between my kitchen and living room we have a pull up bar in the doorway. On YouTube I saw this challenge that was being held in Los Angeles: if you were able to hang on to a bar for 100 seconds you won a hundred dollars. At first I thought it’s not that difficult and I tried it and I only did sixty seconds. I think it was the second day when I actually managed to complete the challenge and now I’m extending how long I can hang on the bar. 

It’s also important not to forget the basics that you can do without any equipment. Just your basic pushups, sit-ups, crunches, wall sits, etc. For instance, I want to train myself to be able to stay in the plank position for an hour. It seems ambitious, but it would be amazing if I could pull it off!

 Chapter 4. The upside of Quarantine 

Even though quarantine took away our normal lives, at the same time it gave us the meaning of family as well. For me, being able to see my sister every day can be annoying ,true, but she is now back from college. That is both a curse and a gift. We have been able to do so much more! We make movies at home on iMovie almost every day , which I will NOT be posting on the Internet! 

As a family we watch family movies almost every night after dinner. Also after dinner we all have been slowly losing it. All of us miss our social lives. Now we start to break out dancing to our favorite songs. Even our dog joins in the fun by barking at us thinking that we are fighting. Then ten minutes later we have all stopped trying to catch our breath and out of nowhere and out of the silence he throws up very subtly. It’s gross but it means that he had a good time too. 

Don’t be afraid to get silly. By this time we have already passed the fifty day marker. Enjoy your family, spend more time together. Try at the end of each day to remember the three things you are grateful for that happened that day. It’s a good practice to do with your family. 

Have meals with them more often. Pray together. My Mama found a prayer that is said for the protection during the time of a pandemic. It is a novena prayer, which is a nine day prayer, but you can pray it every day until the pandemic ends. We have prayed it every night before dinner alongside with the prayer before meals. Both Archbishop Lori and I  recommend everyone to pray this prayer because in these trying times a little bit of prayer is what we may need right about now. 

Chapter 5. Wrapping it up

I hope that these suggestions will help during this “Coronacation.” Just remember to stay safe, and care for each other. 

Go MSJ! Saint Joseph pray for us!

Danny Palmer is a freshman student in Mr. Lambdin’s English class.

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