Lisa Quarantine here.

Who by the way, has never been good at group projects.

Lately I’m remembering my school days, because this pandemic feels like one big group project.

And I’m the one doing the work.

I got the oaktag, the glitter, the Magic Markers, and the goopy Elmer’s.

I did all the homework.


I bet you feel the same way, because people of like mind find one another.

We’re the ones doing the homework, in the worst group project ever.

We’re still in lockdown, whenever possible.

When we leave the house, we wear a mask.

We keep social distance.

I still wipe down counters, but now I’m living dangerously by opening the mail on the day it arrives.

Luckily, the post office is being sabotaged, so I get less mail.

There’s a solution I hadn’t thought of.

No mail, no virus.

Mission accomplished!

I had been wondering why I was getting so little mail and the mail I had sent wasn’t getting there. I had mailed out a bunch of books, but most of them were never received, so I had to buy more books and resend them all over again.

I thought it was just chance; turns out it’s by design.

See, there’s always a reasonable explanation for things.

It’s just that treason isn’t the first thing you think of.

I always vote in person, but this year, I applied for a mail-in ballot, thinking that would save my life.

Little did I know that the government would rather us dead than voting.

Raise your hand if it breaks your heart to see mailboxes carted away in trucks.

Or perfectly good mail-sorting machines destroyed for no reason.

Who breaks something, on purpose?

Who breaks anything on purpose?

Meanwhile, I see the other students. They’re not doing the homework. They run around without masks. They go to parties and take selfies together. They’re having a good time, laughing and boozing it up.

I watch them with the feeling I always had, which is, why do they get to have all the fun?

Will the teacher notice that I did all the work and they didn’t?

You know the answers.

No and no.

You will do your best, and whatever grade the group gets, it was because you did all the work.

If anything, you saved their ass.

You will even keep it secret that they didn’t do the work, like a complicit nerd.

But in this topsy-turvy world, they don’t even keep it secret.

They are that stupid.

Or that smart.

They have all the fun, we do all the work, and we both get to live.

Too dark?

Truly, I don’t want anyone to die.

All I want is for them to put on a frigging mask.

So that I don’t have to live my whole entire life inside my house.

Quarantine without end.

Pointless and futile.

Desperately trying to keep myself safe, since my government has left me defenseless.

God knows that the best students stepped up, big-time. They’re the doctors, nurses, first responders, mail carriers, grocery store clerks, all of those people.

If we pass this test, they are the reason.

They do the homework for all of us.

They deserve an A+++++.

And all the extra credit points.

Those of us who do the work in this nightmare group project are doing the right thing.

But here’s the question:

Why bother, when it does not pay?

The answer is simple.

If you do the right thing, all the time, it becomes who you are.

And that’s called integrity.

You either have it, or you don’t.

I never thought I would have another group project again in my life, especially one for my life.

And for yours, too.

It didn’t have to be this way.

But now I’m thinking this:

America is the ultimate group project.

There will always be those who do the homework, and those who don’t.

Most of us will do the right thing, and we will carry the others.

And we will all go forward together, an unwieldy commonweal, a mash-up of good and bad, smart and stupid, selfless and selfish.

This is life, where goodness is its own reward.

And in the end, it always prevails.

Look for Lisa and Francesca’s humor collection, “I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses,” and Lisa’s first historical novel, “Eternal,” coming on March 23, 2021. Also look for Francesca’s debut novel, “Ghosts of Harvard,” on sale now.