Five New Hobbies to Distract Yourself from the Horrifying Prospect of a Quarantined Boston Winter

A supremely helpful guide to your next six months and/or years.

woman facedown on sofa

Photo by bymuratdeniz/Getty Images

It’s been fun socializing in parks, hasn’t it? Such a sense of whimsy, like it’s the 1850s and this is the trendiest social event of the season. But despite our best efforts to venture outside in increasingly colder temperatures, it’s hard not to feel a deep sense of foreboding about the upcoming winter, which will add darkness and miserable weather to our pandemic doldrums. That’s why I’ve come up with this list of hobbies I will definitely be taking on as the seasons change, despite the fact that I have yet to nurture a sourdough starter, teach myself to knit, or pick up a new language. Perhaps I simply haven’t been trapped inside long enough.

Hobby #1: Break all prior records for screen time

I want to start with something achievable so I don’t get discouraged on my new path. Right now, I would estimate my screen time to be roughly 28 hours out of every 24-hour day. But sometimes I still pause to sleep, or eat something like a hamburger that requires both hands to lift. I also occasionally go out to buy groceries, which can necessitate the use of two hands to tie my shoes. To make better use of my time, I will be incorporating exclusively fork-friendly foods and cease leaving my home altogether. This will be in pursuit of training my brain to draw joy from nothing except for ceaselessly refreshing Twitter to see if the apocalypse has, in fact, arrived.

Hobby #2: Explore new realms of waistband-free clothing

If the first infinite months of this pandemic have taught me anything, it’s that no one can see the bottom half of your body on Zoom. It’s led to a real revolution in my personal style, which previously was dominated by sale-rack professional gear from Ann Taylor Loft, but now includes such classics as “the good sweatpants,” “the holey sweatpants,” and “the formerly good, now holey sweatpants.” Why have we ever had clothing items that could not also be worn while repainting our homes? (Don’t worry, I will not be repainting my home.) But these garments, as kind as they are to those of us who eat a lot of hamburgers and slouch like a human letter C all day, represent but a fraction of at-home comfort clothes. This winter, I welcome the toga, the large potato sack, and my new invention, the Bathrobe That Is a Presentable Work Shirt Up Top.

Hobby #3: Determine how close I can stand to a heat lamp

I have followed with great interest local eateries’ efforts to make their patios more palatable to Bostonians during the harsh winter months. Eating at cool restaurants, after all, is part of the reason I pay an exorbitant amount of money to live here. I want to support them in their hour (ahem, untold eon caused by utter lack of government stimulus) of need, but quarantine has taught me to enjoy my creature comforts, as they are literally the only things I have right now. I will therefore endeavor to determine exactly how close I can stand to a heat lamp before I start singeing my terrible pandemic hairdo.

Hobby #4: Stare morosely through the window at the barren trees like an emotive teen who imagines someone is watching her and thinking about how deep she looks

This was my favorite hobby during my teen years, when it seemed vitally important to me that everyone understand exactly how profound and pensive I was. I wasn’t a regular teen—I was a teen pointlessly staring out a window. Anyway, no one will be able to observe this habit now besides my cat, but I think he’ll be pretty impressed with all the important thoughts I’ll be thinking during this time. Because I’ll have so much time to think those thoughts! Every thought I could possibly think, all running on repeat through my head. When I reach the end of every thought in my brain, I will simply hit rewind on the battered old tape deck of my mind and start again. The main difference between this and what I’ve been doing all summer is that the view is worse, just to clarify.

Hobby #5: Forget how small talk works

At this point, the only people I talk to with any frequency are the couple of people in my quarantine pod (which includes a 14-month-old who exclusively communicates by handing off items he has put in his mouth) and various other loved ones who have known me for more than 15 years. Plus, work conversations. What I have lost are casual acquaintances—running into people I don’t see that often, chit-chatting with retail employees, shooting the breeze with strangers at cocktail parties. And the longer this goes on, the more I realize I’m starting to lose the muscle it takes to generate conversation with people I don’t know very well. Over the course of the winter, I plan to eliminate it completely, such that when I finally encounter a new person, I will struggle in vain to call to mind acceptable starter topics, and say things like, “When is the weather?” and “Have you a sport?” Whenever we are free from this hell again, I will be ready! To live forever as a shut-in with terrible personal style.