You, Me, and Ennui

You, Me, and Ennui

Bridget Lomax, Author

The Millburn Middle School, like many schools around the country,  is moving into another week of online schooling and no one seems to really know when we are all going back to school in the traditional sense. Activities have stopped, there’s a curfew, we must stay six feet apart at all times, and the list goes on. This is our new reality of quarantine, and for many the world has slowed to the point where it seems as if there’s nothing left to do. When before you would have gone out with friends, you’re now being forced into the confinements of whatever living space you may or may not inhabit. Obviously, there are some pitfalls to this sudden change of life. If you don’t want to spend your extra time watching YouTube or Netflix, here is a list of fifty other things to spend your time with: 

  1. Make pom poms. Have any leftover yarn? Then you already have all of the materials you need for some fabulous fluff balls.
  2. Origami. So maybe you won’t master it, but try your hand at the ancient Japanese art of paper-folding. There are plenty of tutorials out there, and it’s always fun to have paper cranes littered on the floor. Or paper umbrellas, boxes, ninja stars, foxes, dragons… You see my point?
  3. Paint something, anything that you can get your hands on. That broken computer that’s been sitting in the basement? Paint it. A ruler whose numbers have worn off? That, too. As long as you have permission, the possibilities are endless.
  4. Clean your room. Being stuck by yourself feels a lot better when you can clear your mind. Part of your mental health, however, comes directly from your environment. Start with something small; that pile of junk in your corner, a bookshelf, a drawer, and eventually your entire room will be clean.
  5. Learn how to code. Most people are picking up languages, but they are forgetting other, digital ones. Python and Javascript are a great place to start.
  6. Speaking of languages, learn one! It doesn’t even have to be a “real” language; take Animal Crossing, for example. Being fluent in Animalese is bound to impress someone out there.
  7. Fix all of your contacts. There are always a few contacts on your phone that don’t have a first name or a last name or a phone number or a birthday. Go through your phone and fill in all of the blanks so you’ll remember who you’re talking to. 
  8. Add pictures to your contacts. You don’t need a headshot for every person; sometimes having things that remind you of somebody can work. Avid plant enthusiast? Maybe some watercolor petunias. Get creative!
  9. Go camping in your backyard. You’ve got the time. If you want an escape from your house, other than going on a walk camping is your best bet. Make the most of it; pull out some marshmallows and have a great time annoying the neighbors.
  10. Speaking of walks, take one! Your pets- and yourself- will appreciate it. Just remember to stay away from people. 
  11. Reorganize your room. Let your inner interior designer shine! With your newly-cleaned room, it’s time to shuffle things around. Maybe set it up to look like a doctor’s office and reenact a scene from Grey’s Anatomy. It’s fun to shake things up since you’ll be at home for a while.
  12. Knit. If pom poms aren’t your thing, you can still make use of that yarn. Chopsticks and pencils are some thrifty alternative to knitting needles if you’re really desperate. Make a hat for your friend’s birthday to give to them when we get out of quarantine.
  13. Learn how to roll your r’s. Have you ever felt jealous of the people in your Spanish class who can roll their r’s? Well, no more! It’s time to watch some tutorials.
  14. Bake. See what’s in your pantry, and look up a recipe to make the most of it. Perfect your chocolate chip cookie recipe. Try something international like lamingtons, honey babka, or orange ricotta pound cake. Even if you mess up, baking is forgiving to the optimist.
  15. Cook. We’re all living off pasta and oatmeal. Luckily, there are many pasta and oatmeal recipes to go around! If not, innovate something new. Add red chile flakes to your regular marinara sauce. What about baked ziti? Get creative with it!
  16. Read a book. Is there a book that’s been on your radar for the past few months that you haven’t gotten around to reading yet? Now’s the perfect time to start! Set aside a few hours from your very busy schedule and read.
  17. Learn the splits. Even the best gymnasts had to start somewhere. Luckily, stretching can be done under almost any circumstances. As long as you aren’t stretching on cold muscles and are maintaining proper form, learning the splits is something really great and rewarding to work up to.
  18. Name inanimate objects. If you’re going to get close to your house, might as well get comfortable with it, too. There’s no one around to judge you, so run wild naming your wigs, carpets, favorite pencils… Remember to wish them all good morning!
  19. Improve your handwriting. Even though we’re in a digital age, take some time to and save your teachers some trouble. Looking for a challenge? Try mastering cursive.
  20. Make a signature. The next time you have to sign whatever papers your parents or teachers throw in your face, do it with style. 
  21. Organize your Google Drive. Start with grade levels, then subjects, then type of assignment, and move on from there. If you’re really fancy, try color coding it, too.
  22. Make a Spotify playlist. Do you want some nice study music? Make a playlist. How about a way to remember your nostalgic childhood songs from seven years ago? Playlist. Maybe you just really like boybands; playlist time. Songs that make you happy; songs that make you sad; workout songs; songs for the holidays; make playlists for every occasion.
  23. Make homemade birthday cards. Birthdays tend to sneak up on us, and you won’t be able to make a last-second stop to Walgreens with the way things are going. Try making birthday cards for all of your friends in advance and mail them when the time is right.
  24. Memorize Shakespeare. Try the more famous ones; “Sonnet 18”, Antony’s monologue in Julius Caesar III.ii, Romeo’s lines from II.ii of Romeo and Juliet, Jacques’s monologue during II.vii of As You Like It.
  25. Find out what Hogwarts house you’re in. Go to and finally figure it out! Take it twice. Thrice, even. Let your slytherclaw, ravenpuff, or whatever else shine.
  26. Sharpen your pencils. Everyone has a stash of unsharpened or dull colored pencils. Now’s finally time to cut to the chase and get them all sharpened to a point. You’ll thank yourself later.
  27. Make a list of all of the national holidays for the next month. Plan how you will celebrate, and make sure to make a huge deal of your favorite nonsensical one. The less consequential the better.
  28. Do your makeup one day. Have any leftover stuff from Halloween? Put it to good use and look like a bear for a day. Do your hair to match, too.
  29. Write and star in your very own play or musical. Force everyone in the house to watch you, and feel free to experiment with props and costumes.
  30. Learn how to touch your nose with your tongue. Not the coolest party trick, but it’s up there. Plus, the tongue is a muscle, so you’re technically stretching.
  31. Learn how to snap. The next time there’s an Addams Family reenactment, you’ll be prepared.
  32. Learn how to yodel. Become one with the hills of Short Hills. 
  33. Learn how to play Yahtzee. Or chess. Or mahjong. Or Clue. Or black jack. Or limbo. Or Dungeons and Dragons. Honestly, just try something new!
  34. Compile a dream school supplies list. Treat yourself to some state-of-the-art school supplies for next year. Just make sure you have a backup pencil that is willing to volunteer as tribute when people ask to borrow it.
  35. Sew a costume for your pet. Do you have a mammal in your possession? Do they hate being dressed up? Now’s the time to ignore their consent and make them look like a little bumblebee with pipe-cleaner antennae. 
  36. Plan your costume for next Halloween. Make it, and then decide what your trick-or-treating route will be for maximum profits and make a list of your favorite candies.
  37. Pick up gardening. Will you be self-sufficient? No. Will you be proud of the three tomatoes that you managed not to kill? Absolutely!
  38. Take the BuzzFeed bread quiz. Much like finding out what Hogwarts house you’re in, but with debatably questionable results. For the vegan biscuits and gluten-free arepas of the world, I see you.
  39. File your work. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably at least in middle school. That means that you’ve also probably had a lot of other grades before the one you’re in currently, and you subsequently have a lot of old papers laying around. Spend a few hours putting them away.
  40. Conduct a pantry raid. Has your brother always hogged the beef jerky? See what the fuss is about. Maybe he’s got a point; do a taste test of everyone in your house’s favorite snacks and rate them from worst to best.
  41. Rethread your hoodies. Too often do hoodie strings come out in the wash. Relocate them, then reunite them with their respective hoodies. Then do yourself a favor and knot the ends so as to avoid having to repeat the process.
  42. Write a short story. Make like Edgar Allan Poe and try your hand at horror. Maybe dystopian is more your speed. Try realistic fiction, fantasy, or an anecdote from a day-in-the-life of a kid stuck in quarantine. Literature is a broad subject.
  43. Write a poem. There are many different types of poems; iambic pentameter, haikus, lyric poems, free verse, limericks. Even blackout poetry. 
  44. Do a workout. Even though sports are cancelled, that doesn’t mean you have to stop doing everything. Maybe run a few miles on the treadmill or see how many pushups you can do. Anything is fair game when you’re stuck at home.
  45. Save coupons. Look through magazines and cut out any coupons you might have in there. Save them in a ziploc bag for when you can go shopping again.
  46. Go thrifting in your siblings’ closets. Do you want to switch up your style and experiment? See what all the fuss is about with their favorite shirt or pair of shoes.
  47. Research what plants you should garden next season. Make a list of what to plant and where. Become your family’s stay-at-home garden expert!
  48. Experiment with new methods of sitting. Have you ever tried sitting backwards? Hunched? Cross-legged? With your ankles crossed? With your feet straight out?
  49. Start a collection. Souvenir spoons; stamps; fruit stickers; pennies you found on the floor. Collecting is a great way to see growth overtime.
  50. Draw a monster family, cut them out,  and decorate your house. Put them under beds, in closets, under pillows, on mirrors, and slip them under doorways. 

Hopefully these unusual crafts and ideas will serve to kickstart your imagination during this time of self-isolation. If not, let me draw your attention to the secret number fifty-one.

51. Google “Things to do when you’re bored.”