Self-Isolation Brings on New Routines

During this period of self-isolation, the author is honing her cooking skills
Catherine Yesayan

Catherine Yesayan


The Coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives. While our world seems to be turned upside down and everything around us has changed course, I should say that this new reality surprisingly has filled my days.

Let me begin by telling you a story. As I was stepping into my wonder years, (I mean my life’s third act), I felt a need to sharpen my mind. It took some months of planning to finally bring five interested friends together for a weekly card game. We decided to start our first weekly meeting on Wednesday, March 11, several days before the orders to stay inside.

At five o’clock, my friends arrived. We sat around the table. After having a light dinner I had prepared, we shuffled the cards and began to play. Just around that time, my kids, one by one, began to call and tell me that having guests in the middle of an epidemic is not ok. It was an awkward situation because I didn’t want to embarrass my friends and let them know what the kids were telling me.

During this period of self-isolation, the author is honing her cooking skills

During this period of self-isolation, the author is honing her cooking skills

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the call I received from my son saying, “Tom Hanks and his wife have been identified with Coronavirus.” I shared that news with my friends, and we came to the consensus that we no longer should gather to play cards until the situation has improved.

My friends left. My kids coaxed me into self-isolation. To tell you the truth, at the beginning I resisted because I was not aware of the fast-moving course of the virus. I knew about Italy’s quarantine situation. I had seen clips of how they had made staying at home fun by singing from their apartment balconies. I had also heard from my friends in Armenia, that in Yerevan some people had already started to self-isolation.  But here in Los Angeles, especially in Glendale, the situation didn’t seem to be so drastic.

I checked online, to see the number of cases on that Wednesday in LA County. The toll was only 17 cases affected by Coronavirus and one death. My self-quarantine started on the following day, Thursday, March 12.

Even though at the time the toll was so low, my kids had the foresight to warn me about the fast-spreading of the virus.

I feel, in this day and age, the roles have been reversed—our kids have become our parents!

In a matter of a few days, after my kids admonished me to stay home, the tide rushed in and the toll surged. Directives by California’s Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were issued asking people to stay at home.

Disinfecting groceries is a new routine the author has picked up during self-isolation

Disinfecting groceries is a new routine the author has picked up during self-isolation

As I write this, only three weeks later, on Monday, April 6, the number of confirmed cases in LA County has reached 6,300 with 147 deaths. By now my self-isolation has been 26 days. My kids have been very protective of me. They don’t even let me go to the market. They bring groceries, so I don’t risk anything.

The author is washing produce and other essentials.

The author is washing produce and other essentials.

Contrary to my initial resistance, I’ve gained many routines that I didn’t have before. I have daily walks around my close neighborhood, I exercise, I take online classes. I watch TV, I cook and do daily chores.

Thanks to a friend who generously has offered her time for free online Zumba instruction, I start my day with exercise. Then it’s cooking time.  If anything, I’ve stated honing my cooking skills.  I’ve also signed up for an online class to learn Russian. I have a few other online sessions and a few Zoom conferences such as a book club, woman to woman support groups, etc.

I talk to friends and family on the phone and do FaceTime with my grandkids. The best thing that has developed, and I’m very happy about it, are daily sessions with my grandkids to teach them Armenian. With all these activities, it seems I don’t have enough time. Though at first, the idea of being isolated seemed to be Dystopian, I’m truly enjoying this new norm.

Another activity—every day in the afternoon, I listen to the updates and briefings of Coronavirus. Today I heard good news from Mayor Eric Garcetti that the curve of Coronavirus in LA county has improved. Although this might not be a trend, it’s a flicker of hope.

As we all continue to navigate through these surreal and unprecedented times, it’s essential to be vigilant and follow directives and guidelines. I hope we will come out of this quandary victorious. Let’s keep our spirits high.

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  1. Ann Marie Smith said:

    Catherine, I really appreciate your honesty, clarity, flair and optimism. Keep sharing your profound style of expression. We relate.

  2. Harriet Horowitz Mestel said:

    Well written Catherine. You sure are making great use of your time. You would be quite productive doing this when we are freed from our house arrest. Stay safe .