• Steph VanderMeulen

Time, Time, Time. See What's Become of Me


In grade 8, our teacher told us, "Things aren't boring, people are boring." I think it's at least partly true, and especially true of me. I've always said I never get bored, that I can always find something to do, but bring on a coronavirus and see how much of a liar I am.


I decided to take stock of what I've been doing since the quarantine started. I've got time. My work kept me busy at first, but the jobs have been delayed over the past couple of weeks and I haven't had much, if anything, to do. It's been good in some respects: Now I shower and dress every day, I eat meals, and I get out for a walk, do yoga, and sometimes try a workout. But I can't stretch out those things all day.


Since I was born, my mom's been telling me to get a hobby, and to do "something for the benefit of humanity."


I'm not big on parental advice, so I still don't have a hobby, unless scrolling through Instagram videos of your favourite TV characters is one, and there isn't much I'm able to do for the benefit of humanity right now except stay home. I don't think of reading as a hobby, and besides, my focus these days is non-existent: I haven't been able to read so much as a magazine. Soulfully staring out the window, though... I excel.


These have been my tricks for combatting boredom and various other meh states of mind so far.


1. Obsessively scroll through pics and videos of Supernatural characters while avoiding spoilers of the last few seasons you haven't watched yet. Do this until you have to charge your phone battery already at 3 p.m. Daydream about being a badass on the show. Slaying demons and monsters and stopping the actual apocalypse brings some much-needed perspective to the coronavirus, and having a goofy but competent angel on your side doesn't hurt. Wait, that part isn't real. It's acting. So daydream about filming great scenes, but also chumming with the cast and playing pranks and making hilarious bloopers on set. Because that's totally what acting is, right? That and someone does your makeup and hair? #goals


2. Get in the shower and shave off all of your body hair while singing "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. You can add songs, like "Nose on the Grindstone" by Tyler Childers, depending on how much hair there is. Then get out and put on your glasses and see all the spots you missed. Oh well. Next time.


3. Try, again, to watch Gilmore Girls. Turns out COVID-19 makes the third time a charm for the cozy and cute show with the totally annoying banter—plus, the mom makes me feel super-mature. PLUS, (who knew!) Jared Padalecki, 6'4" master of puppy eyes and profound empathy shown through V-shaped forehead lines on Supernatural, is in it.


4. Google topics such as eye surgery; angel sigils; every skincare product in existence that promises anti-aging miracles; Chelsea boots; waterproof raincoats; Jensen Ackles; jeans that aren't skinny for the love of God; pics of ranch living in Montana; stetson hats; how to drink beer and still lose weight; learning the guitar when you don't have one and can't get one right now; how to bring your dog back from the dead; and how not to lose touch with reality.


5. Play Louden Swain's Saturday Night Special on Spotify and jam with them onstage live in your head. Try (fail) not to cry during "She Waits," and "I May Be Crazy but at Least I'm Medicated."


6. Medicate. Ignore all the advice about not living in the past and think about how your life has gone and what it might have been had you made different choices. Make a list of real-life goals and daydream about sexily serving craft beer in your own brewpub. Then write a blog post about your midlife crisis.


Well, I was going to come up with ten, but truthfully, there really aren't any more things. I have discovered just how boring I am. The couch is starting to look lopsided. I'm thinking about taking up squirrel care in our backyard.


My better half is working, so we don't hang out until dinnertime. We don't have kids, or a dog to walk or play with, or animals in a barn to husband. The chores are done. Before, I was always thinking, if only I had more free time! But what actually am I doing with it? Now I try to prolong C's visits upstairs to get tea or coffee by giving extra-long hugs and trying to be provocative, but (just so his boss knows,) he's amazingly self-disciplined.


So this is life right now in lockdown. I don't feel sorry for myself or anything. I'm all right. I'm just observing. I do chat with friends and family too. As I said, I exercise. I plug in my headphones and listen to podcasts and a lot of music. I clean up free-range-budgie shit every few hours.


But I'm still faced with just how otherwise uneventful and uninspired my life really is when I'm not working. It's not that I want to be working. That's more a necessary thing. I'm talking about doing more interesting things. But there's no instrument I play, not a crafting or artistic bone in my body, and I have zero inclination to do things like bake—I long ago gave up that slippery slope. What else do people with no kids do?


If you'll allow me a nerd moment, this coronavirus and change-of-pace business makes me think of The Lord of the Rings: “'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo. 'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'”


Faced with how I've decided to use my time, I'm kind of cringing. Sorry, Ma! Seriously, though. I need a hobby. I need to do something for the benefit of humanity (and animals) besides polishing other people's writing all day. I suppose if there's any other lesson to be learned here, it's that all work and no play make Steph a snore.


I have no idea if balance is actually attainable, but at the very least, once this lockdown is over, I've got a mission. Hopefully I accept it. Maybe it can be a reality show: You'd watch Pimp My Life, right?

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