Quarantine Journal #1

Turquoise blue waters off the coast in Cancun.

Where I vacationed earlier this year. Where I want to be.

I have a confession to make. I’m not in quarantine.

Not that I don’t take this pandemic seriously, because I do. It’s just that, sad as it may seem, I already live a quarantined life.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being outdoors. I swim and run every day in the summer. I run and walk in the winter. At restaurants, I always opt for outdoor dining.

But I work at home, I live in the suburbs and I have no kids. Why go out?

This is a big change from my earlier days.

Growing up in one of the most populated cities in the world (Manila), after I moved to Toronto, it felt like the suburbs to me. And if you’ve ever been to Toronto, you know how insane the traffic is. Yet, downtown rush hour was a cakewalk. Moving to Chicago was no different, except for more honking.

Buses and cars inch their way forward on a gridlocked corner in Manila.
Manila traffic is often gridlocked.
Toronto traffic. It's not as orderly as it seems.
Toronto traffic at rush hour. It's not as orderly as it appears.
Fortunately, I lived closer to downtown and didn't have to take the highway.
Chicago traffic. I can hear the subway rumbling overhead.
Chicago traffic. I can hear the subway cars rumbling above.

And now, I live in Raleigh, NC. Clearly, I’ve lost my way. I’m not even living downtown! I live in Wake Forest.

Yup, it’s the boonies, alright.

Do you know that "boondocks" comes from the Filipino word, "bundok," meaning mountains? I'm lost in the wilderness. Maybe I've come full circle… but I digress.

Suburban neighborhood with manicured lawns in Wake Forest, NC.

The Boonies, NC

Space. There's all this space.

There’s lots of grass and trees, hiking trails and parking lots. I live in a house with a garage. There’s even something called a bonus room that’s larger than my entire Chicago apartment. I used to walk everywhere. Now, I drive.

And then, there's silence.

No streetcars rumbling by. No honking. No verbal abuse on the street. Just nice people everywhere, waving to each other.

Yep, there’s a twilight zone aspect to living out here, and it took some getting used to. Watch me now as I run. I wave to everyone. Well, almost everyone.

I’m leery of waving to people in trucks. I’ve never seen so many pick-up trucks. I associate them with a certain aggressive behavior. But I could use a truck for my business so I’m stuck. The city girl in me is making do with a roof rack on top of my little VW. It looks ridiculous at times, with a 4x8 sheet of foam board strapped to the top going 5 miles an hour. Now I look longingly at trucks.

Artist Victoria Primicias wears a mask and lab coat in the garage studio while cutting a board with a jigsaw.Move along. Nothing new to see here.

As far as wearing a mask, because of my allergies to my medium (oil/cold wax), I’m used to wearing it. It sure came in handy when this Covid thing started. I don’t like wearing a mask any more than I did before, but now you feel my pain. Try wearing it for hours in the garage when the thermostat says 100 degrees.
The artist in her garage studio, wearing a 3M mask and a lab coat while staining the sides of wood panels.

When I stain and sand the sides of the wood canvas, I like to don a white lab coat to protect my clothes. I’m sure my neighbors are confused as they see me working in the garage studio. Maybe I should buy a face shield and a stethoscope to get them going on Nextdoor. Bring out the popcorn!

See how much trouble you can stir up without leaving the house?

So I continue living my quarantined life. Since I’m self-employed, one day bleeds into the next. There are no weekends because I’m always working. I never knew what day of the week it was anyway. I’m lucky if I know when the clocks change.

I feel like I’ve been rehearsing for this pandemic for years.

Back in March, my survival list consisted of butter, garlic, pasta, wine, and toilet paper. In no particular order. That’s all it takes to make me happy. I’m happy. I can be creative with pasta.

How's your quarantined life going? Don't do what I do. Stay out of trouble!