The Hobbies and Products Getting Us Through Quarantine


You do have to fill it every time with clean water, or else treat the water with chlorine. We also have a small electric pump, and we hooked up an extra hose to our hot water line so our kids don’t freeze to death. This pool has been a lifesaver for getting my children away from the television, outside and running around. Yesterday, they were bobbing around, playing Shark and Minnow, for two hours. Bonus: After dinner, I just squirt some Johnson & Johnson in there and pool time immediately becomes bath time. —Adrienne So

Discursive Meditation

Quarantine is fatal to routine. Perhaps that’s why any routine that wasn’t disrupted felt so profoundly necessary. For me that was daily meditation. I do what’s called discursive meditation, which is different from the “mindfulness” meditation that’s common today. Discursive meditation is not about emptying the mind, it’s about focused, purposeful thinking. It’s sometimes associated with religious practice—I discovered it years ago while reading writer and Trappist monk Thomas Merton—but it doesn’t have to be.

If you’d like to give it a try, here are some instructions on how to get started with discursive meditation. You don’t need anything but a sturdy chair. Sit comfortably straight up in a chair, not leaning against the back. Keep your feet flat on the floor, knees bent at a right angle, legs parallel. Rest on your hands on your thighs. Breath on a four count: inhale for four counts, hold for four, exhale for four, hold for four. Repeat. Let your body relax into that breath for a few minutes, then take up a theme—I generally use sentences from books, but visual images work too—and consider it in a general way until some aspect pulls you in. Follow that pull for five to ten minutes. I promise you will be continually surprised by where you end up. —Scott Gilbertson

Live Script Readings With Friends

A few weeks into shelter-in-place, my friends and I started searching for free movie scripts online, divvying up the roles, and reading them out loud via Zoom on Saturday nights. We’ve even incorporated drinking games relevant to that day’s film into our read-throughs. It’s wonderfully silly and an excellent bonding experience. It reminded me of staying up late at night with my buddies in middle school to read the latest Harry Potter book aloud (that is, before J. K. Rowling started disappointing all of us LGBTQ fans). There’s something close to pre-quarantine intimacy in the act of group storytelling, especially when it involves allowing your friends to see your terrible Dumbledore impersonation. Next up on our list is The Princess Bride. —Saraswati Rathod

Dutch Oven Fried Chicken Wings

Quarantine has forced me to rethink the idea that some foods are always better restaurant-made. It’s also given me a lot of time to test out recipes for sticky-sweet Korean fried chicken wings.

Right before lockdown, I purchased an orange Lodge Dutch oven for just about $60—$300 less than the Le Creuset Dutch oven recommended by well-compensated foodies. It’s become my kitchen-sized, there-when-you-need-it Room of Requirement. Anything I want appears inside it after enough research and time. It’s manifested Tuscan kale and sausage stews, southern chicken and dumplings, sourdough bread, Agedashi tofu, and Szechuan dry-fried chicken. And thankfully, it’s durable enough for the failed experiments too, like fried whole fish. (So says my partner, who does the dishes.) —Cecilia D’Anastasio

Kombucha Brewing

I am nothing if not a product of my social milieu. I’m in my mid-twenties, I live in San Francisco, and I’m white—so of course I love kombucha. But with Bay Area rent and a nontech salary, it doesn’t exactly fit into my budget.

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