Mrs. Lietzen: Day by day, stitch by stitch

Eva Williams, Features Editor

Embroidered flowers
In quarantine, Mrs. Lietzen keeps busy and creative by embroidering. (Photo courtesy of Kelsey Lietzen)

While names roll into the sidebar of the Big Blue Button conferences, English teacher Mrs. Lietzen likes to chat with her students about how they’ve been doing and keeping themselves busy. She’ll smile on her video cam at their responses and rotate her camera to show her dog, Harper. It’s a wholesome couple of minutes in which students can forget about the pandemic taking the world by storm. 

However, for the time being, she is making the best of the situation. She’s become nothing short of an embroidery devotee. Before the stay-at-home order was released, she stocked up on sewing supplies. Since then, she’s started an Instagram page to showcase her work and embroidered custom requests from family members and friends. 

While she stitches, she catches up on TV shows with her husband. They have dived into documentaries like McMillions, Tiger King, and The Inventor Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, but have also enjoyed more lighthearted programs, like The Office – “we finished it for like the seven billionth time,” – and Love is Blind. 

Mrs. Lietzen posing with husband
Mrs. Lietzen spoke warmly about spending time with her husband, watching TV shows together during their quarantine. (Photo courtesy of Kelsey Lietzen)

They also watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which her husband hadn’t seen. “How were we even married before?” She laughed. 

It was clear from our interview that not only does she enjoy watching the latest shows and classic movies, she loves spending time with her husband. “He is the most servant-hearted person I’ve ever met in my life. The way he serves and cares for people, in a very quiet and behind the scenes way, is incredible.” 

It was her husband that bought her the most discussed-topic of our English conferences. In January of 2018, he gifted her a bernedoodle puppy for her 25th birthday. They chose the name Harper, after Harper Lee, the author of the classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. She raved about the book, “I love the writing. From a teaching standpoint, I love that it makes kids think about a reality that’s not really that far back… We seem to think “oh, it’s so long ago” but it’s not. I think that it opens up conversation about discrimination and oppression in a way that’s very universal.” 

Mrs. Lietzen's dog
Mrs. Lietzen’s dog, Harper, was a gift from her husband for her 25th birthday. (Photo courtesy of Kelsey Lietzen)

Mrs. Lietzen has also enjoyed long walks through her neighborhood, which surrounds the Smithsonian National Zoo, with Harper and her husband. Growing up, Mrs. Lietzen cited Washington D.C. as one of the cities she would never want to live in, along with New Orleans and any city in California. “I hate humidity and I hate traffic.” 

However, after her husband earned a full-time job at a seminary in D.C., they made the move to the nation’s capital from Indiana, where she grew up, attended college, and taught for three years. “We ended up loving it! We live in a really good community with good friends,” Mrs. Lietzen said of her new home. 

She often visits home on the weekends, but due to the quarantine, she’s been calling her family to keep in touch. “I’m an extrovert too, so calling people has been a form of self-care for me.” 

When our conversation shifted to the coronavirus, Mrs. Lietzen said, “I think it’s going to take a lot longer than we want to get back to normal. It’s going to be hard.” She’s been embracing the idea of slowness that has stopped the world in its tracks. For now, Mrs. Lietzen is taking every day show by show, step by step, and stitch by stitch.