Over the past few weeks, strict social distancing rules have grounded 40 million Californians to a halt. Cartoonist Adrienne Hedger is one of them. Together with her husband and their two teenage daughters, Adrienne is doing her part in fighting the coronavirus and staying at home. Naturally, the quarantine and all that comes with it have disrupted the flow of the family's everyday life. So to make peace with these difficult times, the artist behind Hedger Humor is turning her experiences into comics.
From changes in shopping trips to new and not-so-productive workout routines, each of these strips is receiving thousands of likes and people can't stop commenting on how they find their own families in them. Continue scrolling to check out the amusing stories and Bored Panda's interview with Adrienne herself.
All things considered, Adrienne said the quarantine has changed her family's lives in both big and little ways. "One big change is that we actually get to see our 16-year-old," the artist told Bored Panda. "She got her driver's license last summer, and after that she was always out and about. We would worry about her, hoping she was driving safely and we would check in to see where she was. Now we don’t have to wonder where she is. She's right next to us on the couch, wearing the same pajamas she wore yesterday."
"Another big change is how we're perceiving time. We've lost all sense of what day it is, and even what time it is. It will routinely be late afternoon and the kids will think it’s like 11am. There’s a cartoon where Claire says she has an assignment due April 13, but she doesn't even know when that is."
A small change, on the other hand, is that they're eating a lot more leftovers. "We want to limit our trips to the store, so we plan meals that can last over several days. Very often, the answer to 'What's for dinner?' is 'Think back to what we had last night.' Sometimes I try to present the idea of leftovers in an exciting way. Like I'll say, 'Tonight is a celebration of Mexican food!' and the kids are like, 'We're having tacos again?'
Also, tasks that were fast are taking the family a lot longer now. Adrienne believes it could be because they're really distracted by the news and they're spending more time calling loved ones. Nonetheless, it's weird because, even though they aren't going anywhere, it's hard to get much done in a day. "It's like we're moving in slow motion or in a fog or something. The kids said they are feeling this with their schoolwork as well. It's taking longer than usual to get things done," she said.
"Things were especially weird and difficult right after everything was canceled and the self-isolation began," Adrienne explained. "One morning, early on in the self-isolation, Kate just sat on her bed for hours, drinking a vitamin C beverage and staring into space. Another time, I came upon Claire, sitting in the kitchen by the oven. She was staring at a drawer, waiting for the oven to heat up. Later, I sat on the couch for a long time, just petting the dog and asking him, 'What's happening?' No one was quite sure what to do."
Their new everyday life is testing the family's patience with each other. "The other morning, Kate announced that she was 'very annoyed' with all of us. I told her, 'It's way too early in the day to be very annoyed. Try being mildly annoyed right now, and then let that build throughout the day.'"
Adrienne said the kids drive each other crazy by simply chewing ice, slurping through a stray, burping... They even got in a big fight the other day about whether or not it was possible to hold in a burp.
"Jack is busy working, but I'm noticing that the kids and I are starting to lose the will to be productive. When self-isolation first started, the kids were exercising every day, painting and just being active in general. Now, they're mostly lying around. The other day, they made cupcakes and they told me, 'We whisked the batter, and that counts as being active today.' But I'm no better. Instead of exercising, I ate two of the cupcakes."
Managing their supplies is an issue, too. "We've been trying to be careful about our supplies, such as toilet paper. But one day, early on in the self-isolation, Claire bumped a fresh roll of toilet paper into the (thankfully, clean) toilet bowl," Adrienne recalled. "The roll of toilet paper was soaked, but I left it out to dry because I was worried we might run out. It dried, but it was all shriveled up and weird. Looking at it, Kate said, 'What we’ve learned about toilet paper is that it’s not meant to get wet and then dry.'"
Also, the family is seeing sharp differences in keeping the house clean. "My husband is a very neat and tidy person. The kids and I are not. For example, we will keep stacking things on the trash and pushing it down until it clearly needs to be taken out. But we won't take it out. Then Jack will come in and say, 'No one thought to take this out?!' It's exasperating to him. Issues like this, that used to only emerge on the weekend, are now happening more frequently."
However, the upside of isolation is that little things becoming exciting. For example, Adrienne's family looks forward to picking out a restaurant for take-out on Fridays. Also, their friend arranges a trivia game every Friday evening on Zoom, so that’s something they look forward to as well. Another friend loaned them a puzzle, and that was quite something as well. The kids tried to make cake pops, and even though they looked terrible, they tasted good, and the whole experience was also exciting.
"We also come together as a family each night to watch a show," Adrienne said. "Right now, we're watching The Great British Baking Show. It's pleasant family time, and it gives us something to look forward to all day. On Saturdays, we watch a movie. It takes us a long time to agree on which one, but a movie is something we look forward to."
"Food is playing a big role in our coping these days. I did, however, draw the line when the kids wanted to make edible cookie dough for breakfast."
Making cartoons has been Adrienne's main way of coping during this "crazy time". It allows her to focus, and keeps her from worrying. Finally, when she posts a strip and sees people commenting, commiserating with each other, and sharing their own stories, it really comforts her as well. "We're all in this together, and together we will get through it," the artist added.
Luckily for the family, there are signs that California’s early adoption of shelter-at-home policies may be paying off, with hospitals spared from being hit as hard as in New York City, the center of the pandemic.