Last week was a regular and normal week for me. I had my rehearsals, my work at the library, my trainings, a meeting for the Phd. I went out with friends, had a party where I shared glasses and cutlery, grappled with my senpai & kohai, hugged with sensei. But we live in a different world now. A world in which we are told to “maintain social distancing” to “flatten the curve”. This change of routine is unpleasant for me, as I am attached to my schedule, my structure. But being at home is no problem at all, on the contrary, my home is my castle, an Aspergirls’ Paradise. I do not often claim that I am particularly good at something, however, I am really good at enjoying myself at home alone. And with this post, I hope to share some tips for this, so that you can become really good at it as well, for I believe that it is important that we stay happy + healthy in times of Corona. Take care! <3

Ta maison est ce que t’amène à toi.

Moi

I like being home alone, dressing up, throwing indoor picknicks, playing with my cat, planting seedlings, building with LEGO, inventing my own (board) games… “I hate it”, one of my friends interrupted my thoughts, “I will get bored out of my mind! It is a true punishment, like having to wear an *ankle monitor!” Her reaction surprised me, as for me, being at home alone is a necessary part of my life, to reinvigorate and spend time with my cat and my (other) special interests. I do not only love it, I need it. So – except for the occasional face mask – what do I do, what can you do, being at home alone?

First of all, now you can do all of the things that have been waiting for you! Like, organising your books, cleaning your windows, framing that poster and sorting out your holiday pictures. You can create a scrapbook out of them, or a little movie. I made this one about Canterbury, for example:

A slideshow of pictures of Canterbury, with improvised flute music, based on the theme of “The Canterbury Tales” by composer Jerry Mayle.

If you are like me, you always have two or three books as well as some newspapers and magazines, waiting for you to read them. Now is the time! 🙂 If you know Dutch and like classical music, you can also read all these magazines online for free. Personally, I prefer to read analogue, at the table or on the ground, but of course, you can also read on your laptop, in bed or in the bath, anywhere you like, it is your home, after all. Why not create a special reading corner for yourself, with a comfy chair or some cushions inside of a tipi? From within this special spot, you can also call your friends and do a meditation, if you feel like it.

Secondly, you now finally have time to be creative. You can play music, write your own song, try out some origami or papier-maché… and maybe you can start drawing? You do not need to have any “talent”, you only need two things, a stack of cheap printing paper and a pencil or a (ballpoint) pen. A nice trick to get you started doodling, is by copying an image that is upside-down. This forces you to let go of your assumptions and draw only lines and shapes. But there are all sorts of drawing exercises for beginners, from manga to portrait, both analogue and digital. I usually like a combination of those two. After you finish a small drawing, you can take a picture of it and edit it with all sorts of apps, like I did with this “tanto geisha”:

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#geisha #tanto

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I drew this geisha with my old fashioned fountain pen and digitally edited it on my phone, by enhancing the contrast and applying an “aquarel” filter.

If you have a little money to spend, you can pick-up a new hobby, like Warhammer or Sumi-e. Another easy way to be creative, with a low threshold, is by creating collages, for example on postcards and letters to send to your family and friends. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the scrapbook movement, you do not need to buy anything expensive. Just collect some old magazines, wrapping papers, postcards and/or stickers and you can start creating collage art! 🙂 You can also use tools like Spirograph or stencilling. Or take your own photographs, like I did when designing the collages for this issue of E!M. I took pictures of the vintage sheet music in the library and had them printed to cut and assemble together in new ways. Digital collages can be created with many apps (my favourite is Canva) and who knows, maybe you like your work so much that you want to set up a Tumblr portfolio? 🙂

Another nice thing to do is to engage in old-fashioned handicrafts. It always calms me to be knitting, crocheting and sewing. There are many easy projects to be found online, I made some scarfs for my mother and myself, crocheted some tiny animals for my friends, knitted my Awesome Boyfriend a pair of huuuuuuuge mittens and like to craft some new mermaidy clothing for my fake Barbies. In my experience, doll clothes are really easy to create and make a perfect gift for children. This one, for example was made in < 20 minutes, from an old sari-like shawl:

A tail & top to transform a (fake) Barbie doll into a magical mermaid.

The third thing you can do is something you’d probably already thought of yourself: screen time. You can spend many happy hours watching “TV”, as Netflix is loaded with interesting series. Documentary Storm is another favourite website of mine, just like TedX. And do not forget “good old” YouTube, which features some excellent channels on history and gaming, for example. My personal 2go2 is Coursera, where you watch university level (USA Bachelor) lectures about almost any topic you can think of. I learnt so much via this wonderful concept. If you are ready to take it to the next level, you can also officially sign up for a study, there (financial aid is available), and that is how I came to study Neuropsychology at the University of Chicago.

Screen time can of course also mean: gaming. If you like gaming, you probably have same games lying around, waiting for you to finish them. There are tons of free-to-play games on Steam. As for me, I am a retro gamer and love to engage in ATARI games (oh, those musics!) and DOS games like the first Civ or King’s Quest. Genres I am very fond of are the walking simulators and text based adventures. There are many of them online for you to play. If you have a little money to spend, I can highly recommend Subnautica (game footage below).

Subnautica is a beautiful game that features a variety of imaginary creatures and plants.

The fourth thing you can do is to engage in sports. I often practise my kata at home (for I have trouble remembering them all, haha), but also like to do some Yoga, some HIIT or other fitness routine and even dance, once in a while. You can do this as well, there are many exercises you can do at home, without equipment. And you’ll be surprised how refreshed you can feel after just 10 minutes of workout before your shower or dinner. You’ll be proud of yourself after those sit-ups, burpies and push-ups and then it’s time to treat yourself with a nice warm bath and some me-time: shave, wax, pluck, exfoliate, moisturize… do whatever it is you want/need to do. It will empower you and boost your confidence.

And the word “dinner” leads us to the fifth idea: spend some time in your kitchen. Together with my friend Atse, I’m making this series of “show-don’t-tell” videos with easy vega(n) meals you’d might want to try out. But we are not the only ones, of course, there are lots of people sharing their recipes to create delicious meals, cakes and other “foodies” online. Maybe you’d like to try out some cupcake decorating, or a new juice to freshly press yourself, for a change? Often, there will be an indication of the difficulty and/or length of the preparations given in the recipe.

My variation of the fruit cake I learnt to bake in London – a recipe with exact measurements can be found below the video (in the description) when you click the link.

Last but not least, you can do what I am doing now: write and/or practise a foreign language. You can write a postcard to a friend, a poem (haiku is a nice genre to start with), a short story, a Facebook rant… the possibilities are endless. And you can practise a foreign language by writing in it, but also by watching “TV” in your target language, reading some blog posts, practising your vocabulary (with Duolingo, for example). Maybe now is the time to pick up a new language to learn?

So… what are you going to enjoy, being at home alone, in these times of Corona? Just set some goals and go for it!

  1. Things that have been waiting (home decorations, holiday pictures, reading)
  2. Be creative (make some music, start drawing and/or create a collage)
  3. Screen time (watch films & series, follow a course, engage in gaming)
  4. Do some sports (kata, yoga, fitness routine, dance… and take care of your body afterwards)
  5. Spend time in the kitchen (cooking & baking)
  6. Write and/or learn a foreign language

* As I am not sure how international that practise is, I shall briefly explain: here in the Netherlands, we use electronic tagging as a form of surveillance, thus an electronic tag fitted above the ankle is used for people as part of their bail or probation conditions.