By Jackie James


First, let me state that I am in NO WAY trying to state that my isolation period as a kid is on the same level as a quarantine and a pandemic; I understand that my situation was not life-threatening and this article is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I do, however, know that as a teenager, everything can seem apocalyptic, even when it’s clearly not.

How to Survive the Corona Virus Quarantine

Already bored staying home, distancing yourself from your friends and co-workers during this unprecedented time in history? Finding it difficult to occupy your time? Experiencing major FOMO? (fear of missing out, for those not familiar with “current lingo”). Already binged watched all the episodes of “Stranger Things”? There’s no question; being stuck at home is no fun. However, you CAN be thankful it’s not 1982…

Back in 1982, I was 15. (Yes, I am THAT old). I was struggling to find myself, and I did not always make the smartest choices. At the start of the summer, life was “bitchin” as we used to say in San Diego, the place I was lucky enough to call home. I had my friends, the beach, the parties—it was the perfect combination of sandy summer days and evenings sprinkled with questionable decisions.

It was one of these evenings that pushed my parents to their limit, and they determined that my punishment should be a severe one. They convinced my older sister and her husband to take me in for the summer and I was unceremoniously shipped off to Houston, Texas.

Looking back now, God Bless my sister and her family. I was moody, angry, bored, and I knew no one in Texas other than her than my sister, her husband, and their twin 8-year old sons. I was used to being able to spend my time outdoors during the summer in San Diego; the humid, blistering hot weather of Houston was quite an adjustment for me. I spent most of my time indoors, since I really had nowhere to go, no one to see, no way to get there and the weather was not conducive to walks or other outdoor activities. I didn’t have access to a car and there were no shared scooters or bikes, so I was stuck. While this isolation period was somewhat self-inflicted, at the time, I never knew how I was going to get through the summer! I spent my days listening to 8-track tapes of Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” and Steve Martin’s “A Wild and Crazy Guy”; my evenings were spent watching movies like “Time After Time” and “Blow Out” when I wasn’t attempting to get clear reception of Doctor Demento’s radio show. (I learned all the words to Moon Unit Zappa’s hit “Valley Girl” that summer, so there was an upside.) Cell phones were non-existent, so I couldn’t call anyone and if I had, it was from a phone hooked onto a wall. Plus, calls to California would have been assessed a long-distance charge, so I didn’t make calls. It was during this time that I wrote tons of handwritten letters to my friends (and evidently, I was so bored, I wrote the same letter to several different people because I had very little to share). No YouTube, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Snapchat, and no internet. My sister didn’t even have cable, so even though MTV used to play videos back then, I still couldn’t watch them. I ate, I slept, I drove everyone crazy with my pouting and complaining, and I found ways to fill my day. Yes, I survived the isolated summer of 1982.

So just think—currently, you may be relegated to “sheltering in place”, while maintaining a safe distance from those around you. While this may seem like an unfortunate circumstance, embrace this time for what it is: a learning experience. While it may be difficult making the adjustment, try to appreciate the technological advances that we enjoy today that were absent in 1982. Entertainment-wise, you have the

world at your fingertips. Television, movies, and music are all on demand; in 1982 we were lucky to have more than three tv channels! Peruse the internet for all its worth—learn a new language, watch music videos, learn to cook a new recipe, or discover a hobby that interests you. Have a video chat with someone. Write a novel. Listen to books on audio tape. Make TikTok videos to Biggie Smalls “Hypnotize” or make parody videos to post on YouTube. Paint your room. Try new make up or a new hair color. Learn to play an instrument. Do yoga or Pilates. Walk your dog. Go for a run. Play board games.

Want to really use this time to your advantage? Work on an idea to make the world a better place. Write an actual letter to someone and make their day! There’s nothing like receiving a letter in the mail to know that someone is thinking about you. Put together craft ideas and share with parents who are shut in with small children. Offer to pick up snacks and essentials for an elderly neighbor. Have someone older tell you about their life experiences because once that person is gone, so are their memories and stories. Make a difference in someone’s life. Do something wholly unselfish.

Right now. It’s all we have, so instead of lamenting that you are cooped up like a chicken, be fearless instead and relish this moment. And maybe in 40 years, you can tell your kids about the TikTok dance you created during the pandemic of 2020.