I’m not into sourdough starters
The world’s COVID cases are once again spiking through the roof and I’m quarantining in a house in Munich, the morning sun shooting into the living room, where I’m contemplating a second espresso. The day already feels hard for a variety of reasons, but as an outdoor cat, it mostly comes down to the fact that being trapped inside scares and upsets me.
Here’s the truth. For people who suffer from anxiety and depression, this pandemic has been a lengthy, exhausting marathon of fear, and a queasy feeling that won’t seem to go away. For those who don’t suffer from anxiety and depression, this period has been confusing. They don’t quite understand why their loved ones are trudging around the house in an existential crisis.
Not only that, but there have been a lot of conversations about productivity during this time. Miranda’s career is flourishing. Dale bakes bread. Lucy lost ten pounds. Well, congratulations to the practical strangers on Instagram! I successfully feel like shit. But let’s remember that this pandemic hasn’t been a cakewalk for anyone. Even Dale and his delicious bread.
So let’s all cut ourselves some slack. And by some slack, I mean spools and spools of it. It’s a confusing time. We’re having to learn a lot more about ourselves, our partners, and our families than we ever wanted to, all in one swoop. Not to mention, we’re all working from home.
Many have screaming toddlers in the backgrounds, some are caring for sick relatives, and others have taken on second jobs. They don’t have time for baking bread!
So this article is for the courageous front-line workers and anyone who wants to be comfortable and lazy (you know I do), while still enjoying some fun activities in lockdown. So screw #quarantineculture and stay awhile…
1. TAKE A DAY TRIP
It’s true, lockdown isn’t super fun. But a road trip to a cool town or forest or river or beach nearby? All while wearing a mask? Now we’re talking! Germany is locked down, so we drove North to Heidelberg to tour around. Believe it or not? There was a ton to do!
We hiked to a castle at twilight, toured little streets comparing timelines of architecture, window shopped, tried to translate signs to learn more about local history, walked a philosopher’s path with a great view, enjoyed nature, went out of our way for speciality take-away coffee, walked along the river, took pictures on the various bridges, and picked up takeout from three different places: appetizer, lunch, and second lunch!
Point is, yes, things aren’t open, but if you’re wearing a mask and following COVID protocol, there’s a lot of beauty to experience! Not to mention, traveling puts your mind in a totally different place. Even a day away gave me a lot of tranquility and helped me normalize my emotions for the week. Sometimes, all it takes is a little perspective.
2. DESIGN A TOUR
We missed out on taking a professional history tour around Munich. So…I made my own! Yes, yes, I am a huge nerd and not everyone is, but sometimes just putting in a little effort, you can really wow your partner or roommates. Tell them to clear part of the day, scoop them up, and take them around town explaining the cultural and historical significance of various sites.
If you want to be super extra about it, you can write things out, include primary sources, and put on an accent. If you want to pick out two cool things to show them, that’s cool too. Go for it as much as you want. There are no rules. The point is to get out, learn some new things, and to maybe to do your best impersonation of an overeager tour guide. No matter what, if you laugh and learn, you win!
3. ASK YOUR FRIENDS FOR THEIR TOP NOTCH RECIPES AND MASTER THEM
We all have a few killer family recipes. My Grandma’s coffeecake and scalloped potatoes. My boyfriend’s Grandma’s malfatti and crema caramel. Each family has a few that are truly knockout!
Best thing (and worst thing) about quarantine is that we’re all in this together. Text your friends and ask for their best family dishes. If you really want to go all out, have your friend over for a socially distanced tasting session. Even though this idea is a little more work, it will hopefully leave you with an entire repertoire of mouth-watering masterpieces, not to mention, it’s a way to bond with your friends and learn more about their heritage.
4. START A “SHORT BOOKS ONLY” BOOK CLUB
A “short book club” offers a group of friends the chance to get together over zoom, have some wine and a discussion, and still get to bed on time. When work and life are crazy, this is a great way to keep reading!
Here are my picks for great short reads (and links to buy on Bookshop!)
CITY OF THIEVES by David Benioff (Historical Fiction Novel)
YOU ARE A BADASS by Jen Sincero (Self-help)
ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell (Fiction Novel)
IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? by Mindy Kaling (Memoir)
GET WELL SOON by Jennifer Wright (Non-fiction)
MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE by Lori Gottlieb (Non-fiction/ Memoir)
5. NO TIME FOR A CLASS? SEARCH YOUTUBE!
Your best friend decided to back to school in quarantine, your neighbors are taking a cooking class, and it’s not that you don’t want to learn, it’s just that committing to something that’s expensive and long is daunting.
So instead, take one-off lessons from the greatest experts in the world via YouTube! There are other platforms such as LinkedIn and MasterClass where you can learn at your own pace.
So far, we’ve learned web design, video editing, pilates, taken cardio classes, mixed “professional” cocktails, perfected our carbonara recipe, and dyed my hair from a box.
6. SCHEDULE “FREE TIME”
This one has been a LIFESAVER. We’re inside all day, surrounded by countless chores. We also have an entire day of work. We cook all our meals there, do our workouts, call our Moms, and have game night with our friends over zoom, all from the common room. It is truly overwhelming, especially if you live in a one bedroom, grid-locked apartment between Pico and La Cienega.
My boyfriend and I work in the Entertainment Industry and we both love our jobs. We want to be working all the time. But quarantine has scarily made this possible for us. For a while we failed to schedule time to relax, hangout, and do anything lighthearted and new. We had to schedule and prioritize fun! Here are my ideas for some free time adventures:
JAM SESH — We’re musicians and some nights, we clear the evening, plug in a salt lamp or two, and play around on instruments! We keep it really light and creative instead of productivity focused. CLICK HERE TO SEE OUR LATEST!
DRIVE TO A NEW NEIGHBORHOOD FOR A WALK — During the pandemic, we’ve discovered a bunch of neighborhoods and we have a lot of potential ideas for fresh places to live. Plus for me, exercise and looking at real estate is the ultimate combination.
MAKE SOME ART — I paint for fun and recently, I convinced my boyfriend to pick up a brush. We had some wine, cleared off the table, and painted while we listened to some really good jazz.
REALLY TALK TO EACH OTHER — Whether it’s sitting down for a meal together or scheduling time to have tea, creating a moment without phones buzzing, TVs blaring, and other various distractions is important. If you need a little help, there are lot’s of games online that are similar to 20 questions. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s also kind of fun to learn stuff you didn’t know about your partner or roommates!
7. PRETEND IT’S CHRISTMAS
Especially if you haven’t spent a holiday season with your roommates or partner, this is a fun way to spend a Saturday when you’re stuck in a cycle of monotony. Everyone can contribute a dish or a tradition that they love during the holidays, whether it be Christmas cookies, giving gifts, or watching old holiday movies.
Earlier in the year, we saved all of our packages and stacked them up in the middle of the room. My boyfriend played Christmas carols on the piano and I made my Grandma’s coffeecake. We had a blast!
This activity is especially good for kids or the easily excitable (me). Our Christmas was kind of over when we opened all of our packages (Santa brought organizational tools!), but the house smelled like cinnamon all day and I got to share some Christmas traditions with my boyfriend. Afterwards, we took a nice sunny walk around LA in our shorts.
8. TAKE TURNS PLANNING “SATURDAY NIGHT”
If you have super fun roommates like I used to, losing the typical Saturday night is a big change. Getting ready at our place together, dancing the night away in West Hollywood, and coming home at 2 am to eat nachos are nights I will never forget.
Now in this stressful quarantine, I miss them even more. What I wouldn’t give for a night to let loose and have fun with my friends. Now that I’m spending most of my quarantine with my boyfriend, we’ve started taking turns planning Saturday night, and it’s been pretty fun. Not every good Saturday night needs to be at a dance club…
HAVE YOUR “QUARANTINE BUBBLE” OVER — If the group is all quarantining and is trustworthy, host a mini dinner party! Wine and games highly recommended.
HAVE A ZOOM COCKTAIL HOUR — Early on in quarantine, my old roommates and a few friends got together and caught up for hours! It was a great way to feel connected to my group again and let off some steam.
CHECK OUT A *SAFE* PATIO — It’s hard to know what’s really safe, and we’ve not done much of this, but we have friends who go to dinner and drinks on patios and feel safe doing so. It’s a great way to support local restaurants!
DANCE PARTY/WORKOUT — Recently when my boyfriend went to run errands, I joined an Instagram dance party (don’t worry, no one can see you) hosted by the brilliant Ryan Heffington. He plays glorious music, and it’s a dual dance party / workout!! Check him out on his Instagram.
SUNSET BEACH PARTY — Have the quarantine bubble to the beach for appetizers and a gorgeous sunset. If you don’t live near a beach, try a local park! Don’t forget to bring something to sit on like a blanket or chairs.
9. INVEST IN A BIKE OR ROLLER BLADES
A great way to enjoy the city? Wear a mask while on wheels! We are lucky enough to have bikes in Munich and it’s completely opened up our world. We can get all the way to Marienplatz, so we can safely avoid public transit, which is a COVID hotspot. Parking is also expensive in town and biking allows us to get exercise and see more of Bavaria.
My old roommate now has roller blades and sends me pics from Santa Monica! I’m too scared to try, but he’s having an absolute blast.
10. GO ON A CITY SITE — SEEING DRIVE
While in LA, we recently drove to Pasadena from Mid-city and if you’ve ever been on the 134 during golden hour, you’ve probably taken in the back-lit, stunning view of Downtown LA on the drive. We went to the Huntington Gardens for a tour and a walk (another outdoor activity I highly recommend for those of you who live in LA) and had a lovely time driving around Pasadena!
Getting out of the house brings fresh ideas and new conversations into our heads. As a writer, I seriously miss this and I have to find other ways to feel inspired daily. Maybe you rarely go downtown because the parking sucks. Well, don’t park! Take a tour via car and make a list of things to do when you can walk around the city. If you live in a more rural area, maybe it’s more about finding new hiking trails, or cute towns you didn’t know about.
11. TAKE A MEDIA CLEANSE
I know it’s ironic that I’m saying this on a website. But social media is tough on the soul and on our mental health, especially while we’re trapped inside and some of our IG friends never got the memo. I think it’s really important to take a break not just from media but also from constant screen time.
PUT YOUR PHONE IN A DRAWER, OR HAVE YOUR PARTNER HIDE IT — Make sure to tell work colleagues and family you’ll be away for the day.
TURN OFF THE INTERNET ON YOUR COMPUTER — If you’re going to use your computer to write or read, make sure there is nothing popping up!
FIND AN OLD BOOK — The house where we’re staying in Munich is LITTERED with old books! It’s been such a treat, looking through them and finding old gems. Schedule some time to read without interruptions.
FIND A FOREST — For me, nature provides a significant change in my mental health. Put on your mask and go for a walk where you can see some, even if it’s just green grass.
DO SOME JOURNALING — When I’m not being constantly stimulated by the world, I like to slow down and journal. I make tea, get cozy, and write about anything. Check out The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron for more guidance on how to write Morning Pages.
12. MAKE SMALL, ATTAINABLE PLANS! (YES, IT’S OKAY)
I know it’s incredibly daunting thinking about the future. I know that it’s hard to get daily tasks finished right now. However, we will come out of this. There will be a time when it’s safe to visit your family or have a dinner party with friends. I’ve let myself plan and here are some things I’m excited about! I’d love it if you messaged me yours.
HOLIDAYS — This is my first Christmas away from my family. I’m pretty heartbroken, but I also get to spend my first Christmas with my boyfriend’s family in Italy, which I’m really excited about! I’m planning on making my family’s traditional dishes for them and introducing my boyfriend to several Christmas movies he’s never seen.
OUR FUTURE APARTMENT — When we move back to LA, we plan to get a larger apartment where my boyfriend can have a studio to compose and I will have an office. I’m excited to curate a space that works for us — and day dreaming decor and furniture!
WHEN I DO GET TO SEE MY FAMILY — Though I miss them and haven’t seen them for a year now, I am planning some fun activities and quality time with my parents and brother when I get to see them! We do try to play Yahtzee weekly over zoom, which is something we hadn’t even thought to do before quarantine! In this terrible time, we’ve actually found ways to be closer.
Ihope this list helped you come up with some fresh ways to hang in there. I support you and your busy or lazy self and I say, keep at it! Don’t forget, we’re all in this together and no one should honestly tell you what to do with your time. Screw your second cousin who remodeled her entire house. Turn off your phone, and disconnect from all the stress with a good book. If you want to, that is!