In quarantine with Jocelyne Beaudoin
Where are you in the world right now?
I am staying at my house just 45 minutes outside of New York City in the United States.
Are you currently on lockdown?
All of New York State is on lockdown, we are the epicenter of the pandemic in the world! We are able to leave our house to go for walks in the woods and for food shopping. Aside from grocery stores, pet food stores and hardware stores, everything else is closed. We have to wear a mask any time we leave our house except in the woods.
Are you alone or with others?
I am with my husband, one dog and one cat. We had a guest from the city staying with us, but she left because of a dental emergency.
How are you keeping yourself busy, occupied?
Our house is from the late 40’s and needs a lot of love. I have been doing house projects that I have wanted to do for 18yrs... Cleaning the shed, I discovered a beautiful wrought-iron garden chair that I didn’t know we had! I am stripping it bare to restore it to its former beauty. I listen to podcasts while doing my projects. Aside from that, I video stream yoga lessons with the yoga studio I frequent. It’s nice to see/speak to familiar faces once a day. Making dinner has become a big deal everyday. I try to make something new 3 or 4 times out of 7 each week. My husband is writing a book and has a deadline. He disappears in his office after breakfast and comes out for dinner. It’s a blessing that he is very busy and we are not getting in each other’s way, I have the house to myself all day long. At night, after walking the dog, we watch the news on CNN (often with consternation). We never watch TV. Strange new habit. And, lastly, I keep in touch with my assistants, some of which are stuck alone in small apartments in Brooklyn (the epicenter of the epicenter). I worry for them, young, out of work, no savings to speak of as they are all paying off student loans. It’s very hard on them.
What are you finding the easiest/most difficult aspects of social distancing/ lockdown?
None of this is easy. I don’t miss the commuting everyday and I am lucky, I live in a house with a garden and close to beautiful hiking trails in the woods. I have a nice husband that I get along with. But, I miss our kids, my family, my friends, my work. We took so much for granted, and POUF! All gone! We missed my father’s 90th birthday in Montreal, Canada in late March. Who knows when we will see him in person again? Nobody knows. And that is very disconcerting.
Do you have any positive thoughts on what’s happening?
This situation is highlighting glaring holes in our country (lack of medical insurance and accessibility to medical care for hundreds of thousands of people, no safety net, no real leadership, etc...) and around the developing world. I’m happy to see real collaboration between countries to help find answers to the pandemic. The longer this lasts, the more obvious the burden we are imposing on the planet will become. Maybe we will all realize that we need to slow down, consider the earth and consider the less fortunate. Even though we keep hearing that “we are all in this together” there are vast differences on how people are experiencing this situation. For some of us it’s an inconvenience, for some of us it’s a disastrous collapse of their lives. It’s time we realize how society counts on everyone to hold it together from the migrant workers who harvest the food we eat to the emergency room doctors who are saving our lives.
What new things are you learning during this time?
Mostly, I am learning to be content with what I have. I don’t need 3 new pairs of sneakers just because they look cool.
In your opinion - how will this period change our lives in the future?
Everything will be different. This period is likely to last much longer than we can presently imagine, everyone will be forced to do everything differently. People are very creative when forced to survive, it will be very interesting to see what comes out of all this. Already, working from home is becoming normal for so many. And, we might start realizing that some who we have overlooked like supermarket employees or delivery workers, just to name a few, are essential workers, an integral part of our well-being, and a building block to our society.
Are you planning on making any life changes when the virus eventually disappears. A new career path, focus or hobby?
I will definitely be VERY happy to go back to work. No more complaining about 5AM call times or overtime into the wee hours. BRING IT ON! I will also re-think how I spend my money and how much I put away for a rainy day. If this lasts a couple months, we will be fine, but if it lasts more than 6, we will be in trouble. I worry that the next pandemic is right around the corner and we need to be ready for it.
What can we do to help those suffering the most?
That is too difficult to answer in one paragraph, but on a personal scale, we can help the people around us who depend on us for their livelihood, the house cleaner, the dog walker, etc... Even if they are not working for us right now. They need it urgently, especially if they have young children or older parents they support. And, in this country, we could elect a more compassionate President who really cares about his people...
What could be a new mantra to emerge from this with?
“BE KIND. TO EVERYONE”
What are you ...
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (in English) and Sérotonine Michel Houellebecq (in French) and I’m about to start “Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef” by Gabrielle Hamilton.
On Spotify, a Playlist by Noemi Bonazzi “et in arcadia ego (e.i.a.e.)” -her favorite classical music songs, old and contemporary. Two Podcasts daily: “The Daily” by Michael Barbaro for the New York Times and “Intelligence Squared”.
Don Lemon on CNN at 10P. Movie: “Ash is Purest White”
Home-cooked food exclusively. Current favorite: Mashed Cauliflower with parmigiano and butter.
Campari soda before dinner daily :-)
Dishes from the New York Times Cooking App. A favorite is “One-Pot Spaghetti With Cherry Tomatoes and Kale”
Keeping in touch with our kids, our family, my team of employees, my friends all over the world -especially the ones that are home alone and high-risk, my neighbors some of which are older and very isolated.
Jocelyn's quarantine diary: