Day 1-March 18

My name is JP Armstrong, and this is my fourth day in isolation. My classes were all canceled Friday, March 13th, and since then we have learned that most services on campus have been shut down. My place of employment has also shut down for at least two weeks, leaving me without an income for now. Other than that, all the gyms have shut down, and as someone who goes three to four times a week, that is leaving me with a lack of weekly physical activity.

I have been taking isolation particularly seriously since my dad has a weakened immune system due to his past chemotherapy, leaving him at risk. My dad is currently stranded in Montreal. Since it is unsafe for him to take a plane home, we are leaving today to pick him up. 

On a brighter note, since we are all suffering from increasing boredom and lack of exercise, a classmate of mine suggested we go on a hike yesterday. Since that is one of the only things we can do while isolating, we decided that it was a great idea. It’s also a great opportunity to take some photos, which is a hobby I rarely have time for normally.

My sister and I left at noon today to go pick up my dad in Montreal. We are staying at his condo for the night and heading back to Burlington in the morning. We packed food to reduce the chance of stopping along the way to avoid possibly coming into contact with the virus. Normally I would see this whole thing as a task but in these circumstances, it seems more like an exciting adventure. I guess five days in I’m already desperate for something to do. 

We ended up stopping at the On Route in Port-Hope for a bathroom and coffee break. Usually, On Routes have large sitting areas for people to eat, but when I walked in, all the chairs and tables were stacked up in the corners of the building. This was accompanied by a strict “no loitering” rule. Even the man in the red shirt seen in my photo who was leaning on the taped of chairs was told to leave by security.

We arrived in Montreal at around 7 p.m. My dad is doing well and is not showing any symptoms. 

Day 2-March 19

We all ended up leaving Montreal at around 4 p.m. today. We found ourselves not feeling rushed since there is not much chance of hitting traffic these days. Even while driving through downtown Montreal during rush hour, we barely came across any traffic. We stopped at a St. Hubert in Cornwall, but since the inside of the restaurant was closed, we had to find our own sitting area. 

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to every parking lot being empty in every town we drive through. 

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We spent our time pointing out all of the shut down gyms and casinos and talking about people we know who have been affected by the pandemic. To stay positive, I ended up making a list of positive things that have come out of everyone’s self-isolation. The list included having time to do photography, a greater appreciation for the outdoors, and catching up with friends I had not spoken to in a long time. 

We arrived at 11 p.m., and now it’s back to normal self-isolation. 

Day 3-March 20

My dad woke up with muscle soreness and a mild fever. I’m aware that it’s the time of year for the common cold but I can’t help but worry. He had to rest all day so I was in charge of the groceries.

 On a brighter note, my girlfriend is working from home and is staying with us, so I didn’t have to go alone. This was the first time I went to a grocery store since this whole thing started, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I was happily surprised though, since the grocery store was fully stocked (toilet paper and all) and everything seemed pretty normal. Hopefully, this is a sign that things will be getting back to normal soon. 

I’m finding myself not being able to keep track of time anymore. I rarely know what day of the week it is and the days seem to go by very fast. This makes it very hard to keep track of my school assignments. I realized today that I have a handful of assignments that I still have to do, some of which the due dates have already passed. Tomorrow looks like it will be a day to catch up on all of that. 

Day 4-March 21

Today was a day of school work and organizing, which meant I was cooped up in my room. So at around 5 p.m., my girlfriend and I decided we needed some fresh air. A walk around the neighborhood did me more good than I thought it would. It’s crazy how we take the outdoors for granted. The few people we came across were also very friendly! They all greeted us and had short conversations (all while staying six feet apart of course). I guess it’s a side effect of the isolation. The silence I felt while outside was odd though. The odd car would pass by now and then, but other than that… nothing.

One of the more offputting things we noticed was the completely empty parking lot at Mapleview Mall, which is normally completely packed. On a lighter note, I noticed a sign while walking that encouraged people in my neighborhood to decorate their windows and garage doors with art in order to make walks more interesting for people in the community. 

Thankfully my dad is feeling much better today, he seems to have much more energy than he did yesterday and he doesn’t have a fever anymore. Hopefully, it stays that way. 

Day 5-March 22

Today was a very slow day. I stayed in and worked on assignments all day. I’m trying to organize myself and remember everything that I have to do in the coming weeks. Time management is a bit confusing due to the circumstances, but I seem to be managing. I didn’t leave the house all day, and the boredom is really kicking in now. I think I’m going to try to convince myself to go on morning runs. Since the gym is closed, it’s all I can do to stay in shape these days. 

My girlfriend is being asked to return to work. Unfortunately, since my dad is at risk, we don’t know when it will be safe for her to come back. It might be weeks or months before I see her again. It’s not ideal, but my dad’s health is my main priority. 

Day 6-March 23

My dad asked me to do a big grocery run today. One to last at least two weeks. Due to the circumstances, we can’t afford to keep going out to get food. I went to three different stores and I was still unable to find everything. Items like fresh meats are becoming scarce. Hopefully, we are good for a while now. 

In other news, the Ontario government has announced that they will be closing down all non-essential businesses. Hopefully, this doesn’t add to the panic. Thankfully, due to the government announcement, a lot of businesses have been more open to letting their employees work from home. This means my girlfriend will be allowed to stay with us for the foreseeable future.  

I wasn’t able to find the motivation to go on a run today, but I’ll try again tomorrow. 

Day 7-March 24

I finally found the motivation to go for a run this morning. The fresh air was really nice. I even took a detour to get back even though I was too tired to keep running, just to enjoy the outdoors a little longer. For the rest of the day, I felt like I had more energy than the other days in isolation. I had forgotten how good morning exercises feel.

I spent the rest of the day doing assignments and looking for new car insurance. Since I’m no longer working, I won’t be able to afford my insurance payments for much longer, since I was already cutting it close. After hours of phone calls, I couldn’t find a better price, so I gave up. I really don’t know what I’m going to do. 

I’m currently looking into the emergency fund that the federal government is putting into place, but all the information I can find on it is very vague. Worst case, I will simply have to cancel my car insurance until things get back to normal. 

We ended the night playing Yahtzee with my father and sister. We seem to be doing stuff like this more often since the outbreak. I guess that’s a silver lining. 

Day 8-March 25

Since I got a lot of work done yesterday, I decided to take a day to relax and collect myself. I scheduled the next two weeks to make sure I keep up with my assignments, and then I spent the rest of the day playing video games and talking to my friends on Discord. Since we’re all social distancing, talking in a chat room is the closest thing we can do to hanging out. 

I kept calling it my “self-care day,” as I sat playing games at my computer while eating cake. I figured I wouldn’t be able to play games until I finish my assignments, so I decided to take advantage of it.

We ended the night once again with a family game of Yahtzee. We are getting competitive and keeping track of the winners. 

Day 9-March 26 

My dad installed his stationary bike in the basement, so I have added that to my morning routine. I biked for a solid 45 minutes, and then jumped straight into school work. I got a lot done today, and since I’m following the schedule that I’ve made myself, I no longer worry about falling behind in my assignments. 

While I was doing my assignments, I decided to make a Discord server with my school friends in it so we can discuss our assignments while working on them. It was nice to hear everyone’s voice again. We spent about an hour catching up, talking about how different things are now and how we’ve been dealing with the situation. 

My girlfriend went to bed at around 10 p.m., but I stayed up till 1 a.m. again. I have been falling back into my bad sleeping habits I had in university, where I would regularly sleep from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. I might start asking my girlfriend to wake me up when she wakes up for work, so I can keep a decent sleep schedule. 

Day 10-March 27

I was woken up by an emergency alert from the Ontario government saying that staying home for 14 days after having left the country is now enforced by law. This was a clear sign of how serious things have become.

Today was also my sister’s 20th birthday. I found it a bid sad that she couldn’t go out with friends like everybody else does on their 20th birthday, but we tried to make it a fun night regardless. 

To prepare for her birthday, I had to do a quick stop at the grocery store and the LCBO. Going out these days is becoming very exhausting. Especially since people in stores really do not take the “6 feet apart” rule seriously. I noticed that they have installed plexiglass shields in front of every cashier station. Definitely a good precaution. 

The LCBO had the most organized precautions I’ve seen to date, though. There was a security guard standing at the entrance allowing only a handful of people in the store at one time. He also asked us if we had left the country in the past two weeks, and then made us sanitize our hands before entering. It seems like a lot, but as someone with an at-risk father, I was very relieved businesses were taking it so seriously. 

We finally got home and had a simple birthday party. We ate cake, played games, and made “quarantinis.” Celebrating your birthday during a global pandemic is not ideal, but I think she still had fun.

Day 11-March 28

I woke up at 1 p.m. today. It’s been years since I’ve slept in for that long. I really need to start setting alarms so I don’t fall into a bad sleep schedule again. 

Boredom hit an all time high today. I finished a few assignments and after that I decided to make a poll on Instagram. I am asking my followers if I should buzz my hair. I’ve had long hair since grade four, so it would be quite the difference. My girlfriend is very against the idea, but I think it’s exciting. I guess we will find out tomorrow if I will be buzzing off all my hair.

After that, I decided to go to my mom’s house. I haven’t seen her since this whole thing started, and she also had my old mountain bike in her garage. My lack of daily exercise is worrying me, since I have made a lot of progress at the gym in the last 10 months. So maybe having my mountain bike back will help me get back on track. 

It was nice seeing my mom again. Of course we stayed six feet apart just in case, but talking to her face-to-face was nice. 

Day 12-March 29

Today I refurbished my old mountain bike with my dad. It used to be his and it’s about 20 years old. It was a fun bonding experience, my dad and I haven’t done something just the two of us in a while. After a few hours of work, the bike was finally done.

I took it out for a ride since the weather was so nice. I wanted to go ride by the lake but the path was surprisingly packed with people walking. Seeing that many people in close quarters was unsettling. I guess since the sun was out, everyone forgot about the global pandemic. I turned around immediately to avoid people. I rode around for about an hour in back trails and parks that were empty. 

After 12 days of this, things have only gotten worse. We have no idea how long this is going to last. My dad was telling me that Quebec has started locking down regions, to stop people from traveling. I’m wondering if Ontario will follow suit. By the looks of it, the government will have to take more aggressive measures since people are not taking the isolation seriously enough. I’m just hoping that life goes back to normal relatively soon.

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