September 18, 2020

STELLA | Establishing COVID-19 Rules For Your Off Campus Housing

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It’s hard to live with your friends. Some might disagree with your opinions on household necessities, some might have a different understanding of the phrase “work ethic” than you and some might have no accounts on streaming services to contribute. They just watch The Umbrella Academy on your Netflix and scramble your recommended content. Especially now, when we’re spending more time in our living spaces than ever before, it is important to establish some rules early on to avoid aggressive encounters down the road when the garbage is overflowing and the living room still smells like the fish you burnt last week.

Some of the rules can and should be monotonous: who has what chores what week, stack your dishes in the dishwasher, don’t just leave them in the sink, no sex in the common rooms (when your roommates are home). But you can also make this process a fun one. Incorporate roommate-specific rules to single out your friends or take pity on them. If Seámus leaves the AC on again when he opens the windows, sneak into his room to turn his AC off before he goes to bed. Saves the energy he’s wasted, and the punishment of a sweaty night’s sleep is as bad as any. If Stacey puts up another tasteless painting in the common areas, write redrum in lipstick on her mirror. The Shining is less terrifying than her passion for interior design. Stealing house rules from television shows or movies can also spice things up. The douchebag jar from New Girl, or — copying The Big Bang Theory — if one roommate develops time travel, the first place they stop is the exact moment when this rule is formed … pretty disappointing. It is important, however, not to go too overboard. You are living with your friends, afterall, not in a totalitarian regime. Reggie has to cool it with the enforcement of coasters.

You can also turn rule making into a drinking game with your house or apartment mates. Let’s face it, these days largely the only people we’ll be drinking with are our roommates, so Friday nights need to get creative anyways, otherwise we’ll be facing a slow mental deterioration and we’ll be unintentionally recreating scenes from The Lighthouse. Whether it’s a subpar nightly chef or a roommate who grunts like they’re wrestling a pig during an indoor workout, we’re going to need innovative nights to differentiate the days. Take turns creating a new house rule, and if the majority veto it, take a drink.

One thing I miss most from previous nights out at Cornell, before 38% of Americans stopped buying Corona beer (did you expect more from a country that charges you $30 to watch Mulan on top of a monthly subscription?), is the themes. Dressing up in ridiculous attire, drinking subpar drinks that barely meet the requirements of said theme and listening to loud, relevant music — I never thought I’d miss it until it was gone. One meager way to relive your former glory could be adhering to themes just within your own house. My apartment will be founding Themed Thursdays this semester, starting it off with Wild West and Wine Bags. Sangria Safari took the number two slot (there’s no point in putting in the effort if you’re not willing to alliterate). You can also do it with foods if your household isn’t big into drinking; Tacos and Tequila, oh wait.

Just don’t throw actual events where you live, we’ve already seen small spikes from parties in college town, and are just starting to get it managed. Keep it to those that live with you or reside within your bubble. Coronavirus complicates living situations even further. Some people have already driven home because their roommates have not taken this pandemic seriously. Communication is more essential than ever to cohabitate.

Coming out of a year of living with close friends and maintaining those relationships is all about relying on each other. The trust not to disobey social distancing, or the trust to hold their grip on you as you’re lifted to stomp on your ceiling to give the neighbors above you a taste of their own medicine. They are either holding bidaily tap dancing lessons or they are continuously purchasing build-your-own furniture from Ikea. Apartment 4A, have a little more neighborly courtesy at 8 a.m.

To more evenly spread daily tasks, you can leave a calendar on the fridge, post-it notes on bedroom doors or a color coordinated spreadsheet shared to all with the household’s menu. Red rows for failures, green for success. The truth of the matter is that if you can endure a month without your final roommate in Ithaca — the one that brings up the TV, toaster, printer and Playstation – then you can probably endure the semester. You survived on four forks and one pan for the month of August. Discovery Channel should give you a survival show, pitch it as a more realistic Man vs. Wild.

AJ Stella is a senior 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.