April 30, 2020

STELLA | The Four Stages of Quarantine Blues

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Today marks the 44th day that shelter in place has been instituted in California, and there is still no real end in sight. If you’re in one of the majority of states that still have lockdown orders, or if you’re virtuously still trying to limit your outdoor adventures in the states that are reopening early, the days are feeling long and seldom fulfilling. The activities we used to be excited about having the time to try now seem like undesirable responsibilities that we didn’t sign up for. Growing a mustache was exhilarating at first, but now grooming and styling with mustache wax has become a daily chore (need to keep it until quarantine is up though, the public needs to see what I’ve accomplished). Shearing the dog was all fun and games, but now mom makes us put sunscreen on the parts we messed up.

The seven stages of grief is a common phenomenon when dealing with some sort of loss. It is often difficult to know what to do with yourself. While in quarantine, we experience emotional states that change day-to-day. One day we’re angry, the next we’re sad and we’re left repeatedly wondering what to do depending on our moods. I’ve boiled these emotional states into the four stages of quarantine blues. Below are some daily schedules to fill your days, depending on which stage you’re in.

1. The ‘Bored Beyond Belief’ Day

Probably the most common mood around the country right now, this one doesn’t need much of an introduction. We find ourselves meandering from room to room, hovering in front of our refrigerators, deciding on a snack until the fridge beeps because its doors have been open too long (I don’t know if all fridges do that. My fridge does that). We’re too slumped to create anything, but too agonized by the idea of sitting to turn on our televisions. We’ve watched everything on Netflix and Disney Plus anyways.

What to Do: The trick for days like these is to think outside the box. We could very well be reliving the same day over and over if we don’t do something to stop it, and what better way to diversify your routine than by becoming an amateur tattoo artist? Stock up on oranges and ink, buy a tattoo gun and you’re there. Orange peels are, apparently, similar enough to human skin to practice on. Nothing like the real thing though: My brother used his own leg as a canvas. If you don’t want to make a very real, very permanent mistake, maybe a pair of moonshoes is for you. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you’ve never thought to do before.

What to Watch: Nothing. You could be watching a 10/10 on IMDB (don’t trust Rotten Tomatoes) and still think it’s a horrible flick because everything seems dull in this stage.

What to Listen to: Songs from our middle school dances, so we remember a better time. “Low” by Flo Rida or “Like a G6” by Far East Movement.

2. The ‘Time To Get My Shit Together’ Day

The polar opposite of the previous stage, these days we wake up ready to take on any challenge the world can throw at us. Like a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Back in our elementary years, it was days like these when we told people we wanted to be the president of the United States, or the first person on Mars. Now, it’s when our friends text us every accomplishment they’ve had throughout the day or when we see people post home workouts on social media. I miss the childhood innocence.

What to Do: People often think the best use of this spark of motivation is to get their school work done. Common misconception. If we start by finishing our class assignments, by the end of the day we’ll lose the motivation and it’ll be gone for the next week. Instead, start your days with something more useful. Create a paper mache statue of your dog, then leave it in your parents room as a gift (just like the gifts we used to give them for holidays back when we wanted to be the president. I can’t wait to pretend to love my child’s homemade pottery mug when I open my 41st birthday present). If arts and crafts aren’t your thing, write a hefty email to Pixar, describing your idea for the much needed sequel to A Bug’s Life.

What to Watch: A Bug’s Life. Just kidding. Intellectual thrillers: Inception and The Sixth Sense. Pretty much any Cristopher Nolan or M Night Shyamalan movies will do.

What to Listen to: Study music. Live-streaming low-fi beats or French classics should do the trick — try out “La Madrague” by Brigitte Bardot or “Comment te dire adieu” by Francoise Hardy.

3. The ‘I’m Angrier Than A Baby On A Plane’ Day

It may be hard to admit, but most of us are more easily irritable these days. Staying in one building all day, followed around by nagging parents who want you to help vacuum and dust can do that. They think I dust at school? But we always feel bad if we lash out at others, so it’s important to have outlets to let out the inner wrath that is trying to claw out of us like that alien from … well, Alien.

What to Do: Apart from the obvious, buying a punching bag with your nemesis’ face taped to it, you can have some fun with this one. Buy ninja stars off Amazon and perfect your aim by throwing them at trees with your nemesis’ face taped to them. Dress up in a Chewbacca onesie and play the holographic chess game from the Millenium Falcon, then smash the table when you lose: “It’s not wise to upset a wookie.” If you’re at the end of your day and want to mellow out, try glass blowing. I hear it’s soothing.

What to Watch: An easy one — anything that gets you ready to fight for glory. Usually war or sports movies: 300, Braveheart and Rudy are good places to start.

What to Listen to: I would never recommend death metal. Go for goofy EDM songs with gnarly drops: “Mr. Saxobeat” by Alexandra Stan or “Jolene” (Dumplin’ Remix) by Dolly Parton and DJ Ricky Luna.

4. The ‘I’m All Alone’ Day

Last, but unfortunately not least, come the days when we are overwhelmed by the gargantuan loneliness that wells up inside us until we are left quietly crying in our rooms, scrolling through old photos of our friends. Tissues are in short supply, so we can’t afford too many days like these.

What to Do: First and foremost, recreate Akon’s music video to “Lonely.” Once that’s under your belt, get a parrot for conversation, a weighted blanket for mimicking cuddles and draw a face on a volleyball to have someone across the dinner table from you. Oh, and call your friends. They probably don’t miss you as much as you miss them, but sometimes they’ll answer out of pity.

What to Watch: Movies about unlikely friendships to remind us that we will be social again sometime soon. The Breakfast Club and Isle of Dogs. I cried at the latter on a plane and the gentleman next to me offered judgemental stares. Hey man, when a dog dies in a movie, I’m spouting waterworks, whether the dog is stop-motion or not.

What to Listen to: James Blunt on repeat. The occasional break for Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times.”

AJ Stella is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at astella@cornellsun.com. Stellin’ It Like It Is runs every other Friday this semester.