Q(uar) & A is a series of interviews with some of our favorite storytellers and creators about how they’re living while in lockdown.
Mariana Timony is a music writer from California.
Where are you currently sheltering in place?
I am sheltering in place on a horse farm on top of a mountain in a little town called Scarbro (yes, that is how it’s spelled) in West Virginia, where I’ve been since leaving New York City on March 13th.
I am here with my friends Erika Lawson, an artist and teacher whom I know from another life in L.A.’s early 2010s DIY punk scene, and Lenza Paul, a girl who loves horses. Along with the humans, there are two horses (Cisco and Zeb), three dogs (Max, Ben, and Tascam) and two cats (Gandy and Catten.)
What does your face mask look like?
I haven’t worn one yet actually. We’re so isolated on the farm that it’s not really necessary unless we leave the mountain to get supplies of any kind. However the number of COVID cases in our part of West Virginia has been creeping up concurrently with the state opening back up (shocker), so this will likely change in the future.
Do you follow any kind of routine at this moment?
I’ve been lucky enough to keep my job, so my work schedule hasn’t really changed which means I work all the time! Fortunately, I love Bandcamp and writing about music, so it’s never a chore and I am grateful every day. I was a daily exerciser before quarantine and I’ve kept up that routine by doing Zoom pilates and yoga as much as possible. It’s actually been super fun being able to take classes with my favorite teachers in Brooklyn from my bedroom in WV. I have started making my bed every morning, just to keep my room a little tidier and give me a sense of accomplishment even on bad days.
What are some pieces of entertainment that you have consumed and loved during this time?
I watched the High Fidelity reboot on Netflix expecting to hate it, but it was really good! I thought it was very true to life and I related to Rob a lot. She’s such a bitch.
Are you working on anything during this time? And if you’re having trouble “creating” things at the moment, how are you getting around it?
I started a newsletter called The Weird Girls Post to write about music life and mountain life. I’ve done an issue about the horses, an issue about listening to music in quarantine with the writers of Tone Glow (an experimental newsletter I contribute to), and I’m currently working on one about bands and labels from West Virginia. Subscribe to it, it’s cool!
Have you taken up any new hobbies?
It’s not really a hobby, but living with horses has been a special experience. Before coming here I was legitimately afraid of horses, but now I find them so interesting and really just very beautiful. They’re very unique creatures. I got to see them get their hooves trimmed recently, which is like a horse pedicure, and the horse dentist is coming next week to file Cisco’s teeth, which I am very excited about (Cisco probably not so much.)
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten so far during quar?
There’s a fast food place nearby called Cookout where we’ve gone a few times when leaving the mountain for whatever reason. I had a very memorable meal of a BBQ sandwich, fried okra, and a regional cherry soda called Cheerwine that we ate while hanging out on the main street this little town called Mount Hope, which has a super interesting history—it was basically the Brooklyn of Fayette County in the early 1900s because it was one of the few towns that wasn’t controlled by a coal company so there were independent shops and stuff.
Also, every gas station in West Virginia sells these snacks called pepperoni rolls, which are like the state food in a way. They are a stick of pepperoni and sometimes cheese wrapped in white bread. They’re amazing.
What’s your current iPhone wallpaper and what’s the story behind it?
This is a photo I took at the Bandcamp company gathering in Arizona in late January of this year. One of my colleagues is from Australia and brought over a bunch of Aussie candy bars for everyone, and I was snacking between meetings and took the photo. I made it my wallpaper because our editorial art director suggested it and she has amazing aesthetics. I don’t know why I haven’t changed the photo, but I suppose it’s a nice reminder of the last time I was able to travel without fear. It does make me miss my colleagues though, thanks for asking me this depressing question, Stet.
What’s the best quar purchase you’ve made so far?
Rain boots! It rained non-stop in April and we even had an honest-to-god snow day, so having waterproof shoes to stomp around in the mud and in the barn has been essential. Plus there’s horse shit everywhere. Other than that, probably Moon Juice supplements. I don’t care what anyone says, that shit works.
Any unexpectedly memorable moments of quar so far?
So many! Working the first Bandcamp COVID fundraiser day a week after I arrived in West Virginia was a very special experience. I wrote about that experience a bit in the first issue of Weird Girls Post.
Other things… Riding in the back of a pickup truck is 100% legal in West Virginia and also extremely fun, done that a few times and hope to do it more now that winter is truly gone. One evening we took turns shooting a shotgun. A pretty severe storm rolled through one afternoon, and we took shelter in the barn with all the animals for 20 minutes due to a huge downpour of hail and some really intense winds. That was frightening. Another time one of the downhill neighbors inadvertently started a forest fire while burning a bunch of brush and the town fire department came up to the farm unexpectedly because they thought we were responsible. West Virginia governor Jim Justice (who is basically the Trump of West Virginia) saying “fuck” during one of his COVID re-opening speeches remains incredibly hilarious to me.
More generally, it’s been amazing seeing spring come to the mountains. Everything was grey and dead when I arrived, and now the trees have turned green, the buttercups are blooming, and the crickets sing every night. The landscape is quite dramatic here. The way the sun falls on the mountains and how the clouds mist hang in the hollows changes all the time. West Virginia really is such a beautiful place and so full of life regardless of what’s going on in the world. I feel very lucky to be here.
Find Mariana on Twitter @marianatimony.