Will: Me Time in Quarantine

cooking

We all gained an unlikely friend over the past seven months: quarantine. That nasty, no-good friend that we are obligated to hang out with for the foreseeable future. As someone whose calendar used to look like a failed game of tetris, having nothing to do for large swaths of time became oddly draining.

Under normal circumstances, I would talk to so people every day that I barely had time to think for myself. When quarantine hit, I had to rework how I went about each day, and I still struggle with that. Thus, I continue to actively work toward seeing the bright side of being inside my own head all day, every day. 

That being said, over the summer, I came to recognize that having free time for yourself amidst the chaos is gravely important. For many college students, including myself, having that “GO GO GO!” attitude all the time can become exhausting even if you don’t realize it. We all need time to decompress. 

It took me a while to figure out what that might look like on a day-to-day basis, but, eventually, it began staring me right in the face: cuisine. Food and drink. The culinary arts.

I chef it up several times each week, if not several times a day. Cooking is my time to relax and escape from everything for an hour or two. I enjoy all sorts of kitchen activities, whether it’s using a new method to brew coffee, dishing out some mise-en-place for an omelette with toast, throwing together a quick stir fry, or developing a dish for dinner that becomes more elaborate as the day goes on.

Cooking is a way for me to not only carve time out for myself, but it forces me to pay attention to the time and eat three square meals every day. 

In quarantine, every day seems the same as time blurs together. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of stepping back from your work a few times a day, regardless of what your method of relaxation is.

You’ll feel much better for it — trust me 🙂

Will: The Fruits of Labor – Pre-Packing Your Meals

Through the entirety of freshman year, I missed one thing the most. Was it love (Baby don’t hurt meeeee)? Was it the kindred friendship of my pals at home? Was it my sheer pride in the Central Massachusetts identity as Apple Country?

The answer is: no. It was my kitchen. Yes, I can hear you saying, “But Will, the dining hall is ~sOoOoOoOo~ convenient! How do you miss your… kitchen?”

Well, folks, here’s the thing: I’m a foodie. If you’re a foodie like me, the monotonous daily routine of eating the same jerk chicken with tofu, rice, and salad made me go a tad crazy. Yes, the dining hall is convenient. Yes, it’s a great way for me to not spend egregious amounts of money ordering out. However, I still missed being able to experiment, cook, and eat something which both filled me up and made me happy.

Thus, I decided to move into an off-campus apartment. I am currently a sophomore, and that which I loved most was making a truly triumphant return: the kitchen.

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(^Not my kitchen, but one can dream!)

However, after just a week, it became clear that the dining halls were a GENIUS idea! Although I love to cook, cooking takes what students like myself have slim to none of. What is that exactly? That’s right: time.

I went back to the drawing board; I needed a new solution. I was not going to spend money on dining hall meals because I do not have a meal plan, but I also did not want to starve throughout the day until I returned to the apartment. This is both unhealthy and, surprisingly, a very un-fun experience.

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(^A relatable tweet)

Then, I had a flashback: high school. As a human being with a grandiose stomach size, I needed something more than the chicken patty with a government-mandated, mouse-sized salad served at my local public high school. So, I began bringing in my own food to supplement it.

Huh? My brain began to toil as it calculated, re-routed, and combined past experiences with present-day problems.

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Then… An epiphany! A feat of brilliance which I will never return to!

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 The homemade lunch!

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 After this realization, I began making my lunches the night before and grabbing it in the morning before I headed out, and I continue to do it to this day! Not only is this doable in a dorm setting (at least if you’re a sandwich person like myself), but it’s ergonomic, economically efficient, and exquisite to taste. On top of that, I COULD MAKE IT MYSELF and NOT be a Hungry Hungry Hippo­­­TM all day!

Therefore, in conclusion, I cannot recommend enough that you make yourself a lunch at the end of your day. Set yourself up for a successful eating strategy the next day! It’s okay, you can thank me later.

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