When I started writing this article, I was in quarantine for 58 days. Self-imposed quarantine because in the Netherlands only the rules of social distancing apply. Admittedly, the approach here is pretty relaxed.
But we managed to spend our quarantine in such a way that we didn’t get bored at all (and believe me, I’m probably the woman in the world who is always looking for something new). Yes, yes, I know, I’m very picky. Sometimes.
If someone had told me last year at this time that I would no longer be able to go to the office, to the cinema, to concerts, to restaurants, to cafes or terraces (I miss cafes so much), I would have said that that for me is impossible and that I could not live like that. And yet, here I am.
This period of self-isolation came after a very busy first two months of the year. We spent New Year’s Eve in Palermo, from where we returned in early January. Then at the end of the month I went to a conference in Dublin. At the beginning of February, I went to another aviation event in Miami (you can’t even imagine what a pleasure it was to leave the fifth month of consecutive rains in the Netherlands to go to Miami Beach – I love the sun). Then came the APOC Anniversary Party (where we had 200 guests from all over the world) and a weekend in Luxembourg (to pick up the last things I had left there before moving). I would have had another event in Austin in early March, but I preferred not to go. The borders were already expected to close and I didn’t want to be stranded there for who knows how long. And after all that super hectic time, the lockdown came. Exactly in March when we had tickets to see Star Trek II (with special guest William Shatner), a concert with Maluma, a Burlesque show starring Dita Von Teese and a team building event at a superb hotel in Austria. None of this happened and we stayed in the house.
And yet for us it is not so bad. We work normal hours every day (even more than usual) and the rest of the day still never seems to be long enough.
Here are some activities we’ve done or plan to do:
- Cook every day from scratch (especially Daniel). We tried many new recipes (among which I cooked drob (a traditional Romanian dish), for Easter; completely unexpected on my part). We also made hamburgers from scratch at home. They came out very good and were healthy.
- I made various new table and plate arrangements (this way I will be ready for the next dinner party with friends).
- We watched a bunch of movies we never had time to watch.
- We watched documentaries. Our favourites are Roman Empire, The Mind of a Chef, and Salt Fat Acid Heat (we tried other culinary shows but we didn’t like them). And the stand-alone ones are interesting; our favourite was Untamed Romania. But there are many other nature shows (some of them quite harsh).
- TV series. Of course, La casa de papel came first. But I also started others like Grace & Frankie, Homeland and also some older ones like Community. We enjoy watching Tacoma FD (already in season two), and we also caught up on past episodes of Young Sheldon and the latest season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Daniel watches Better Call Saul separately.
- Board games (which can be played in pairs). We have Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico, Exit The Game (a series of escape room-themed games), Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne.
- Online games (which you can play with friends). Our favourites are hosted on the Steam platform. We played The Room – a bit boring for me (I told you I get bored quickly), but still interesting and kept us distracted with something other than work. There are also those from The Jackbox Party Pack that I enjoyed a lot. Another app, Houseparty (a group video chat) offers party games (although I don’t like this application at all).
- Where’s Wally (or Waldo) – we had already bought the travel edition and as no getaway is foreseen in the near future, we started the game.
- I finally have time to read the books that have been lying on my nightstand. I really enjoy sitting on the balcony in the evening, when the sun is shining, and reading.
- Various challenges on Instagram. Yes, yes, I know what you’re going to say, that only superficial people do these. But we had a lot of fun with them (except when Daniel got annoyed that he didn’t learn all the steps in three minutes – but it passed very quickly). And it was also a very useful way to do sports.
- I attend online cardio classes with my instructor from Luxembourg and it’s great. I do Piloxing Barre (because I don’t have the bar, I use a chair and because it flies around the house when I kick, Daniel has to sit on it; and yes, he sits with his laptop and works in the meantime). I also do stretching and Zumba. Jacque also has a YouTube channel where you can get Jacque DanceFit inspiration. If I want to do more than the three days, I use the Timer Plus App and do various exercises on the bench, with weights or on the mattress.
- New cocktails (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). We made a very very good strawberry margarita. And I also tried making a Disaronno Fizz, but it wasn’t very successful.
- Rotary meetings continue and now there are even more than before because all the clubs have moved online and that’s how we get to know each other more easily.
- We read various sites with lifestyle articles, political or economic, blogs and look at various vlogs (I recommend Haihuin2, LIFE.ro).
- We keep in touch with others virtually. We drink coffee, have lunch and have drinks with friends (and colleagues at the office). We usually use Zoom or WhatsApp or Messenger (if we are not too many).
- Another thing – the fact that I finally give myself time for the displays made especially for the stories on Instagram.
- Ah, yes, something I never thought I would do: we organized various things in the house that we probably wouldn’t have touched until the next move. We are very proud of ourselves for this.
- Another thing I really like is to organize Aperitivo on the balcony (of course I have only one guest, Daniel). We live on the third floor but those on the ground floor have invited friends who come with their own chairs, glasses and bottles of wine or beer and stay at a distance of at least 1.5m from each other and talk. With such a distance, they have to speak quite loudly, so we can hear what they are talking about. We have fun with them. If we understand what I’m saying, we know a few words in Dutch. I made the classic Italian appetizers, with prosciutto, salami, mortadella, pecorino, provolone, bruschette, etc. I tried a new recipe: take out the middle of a normal-sized mozzarella (and eat it while you prepare the appetizer, bonus for effort) and instead add very small chopped tomatoes, pieces of olives, garnish with a basil leaf, salt, pepper and top with oil. Very good. This is always accompanied with Campari Orange (but I use blood orange juice), Aperol Spritz or Cynar. The next few days I want to make an Aperitivo only with cheese (because we do live in the Netherlands). You can find it on my Instagram page.
- I also tried to do my nails but seriously I am terrible at it.. These girls are artists (I knew this before but now it has been confirmed to me in full force). I’m still trying to keep the mystery in the relationship (I’m old school) and I didn’t ask Daniel to dye my hair. I hope it won’t come to that. George, Diana (from Tribute by GS, I miss you so much.
- So that I don’t feel totally disconnected from the reality before Corona, when I have online meetings (at least) I dress for the office, put on make-up, arrange my hair and even wear heels around the house. I guess the neighbours are not exactly happy but I feel very elegant and powerful.
- There are also live concerts (on YouTube or various other channels). Andrea Bocelli, Matteo Bocelli and even Bruno Mars are now posting live concerts. For some you have to pay, others are free. So all you have to do is search for information about your favourite artists and you will find all their activities. And when we cook (or when we want a relaxed evening), we look at the opera: Paris Opera, New York Metropolitan, you choose where you want to participate. I also really like the fact that the Maria Filotti Theater in Brăila has some online shows.
- I’ve experimented with something else: makeup. Now that our face is covered with a mask, the makeup around the eyes must be even more remarkable. Out of 10 attempts, I liked two, but it’s still something. Until now, I haven’t had time for experiments. Plus I finally have time to do my whole routine of day and evening creams, masks, etc.
- And now I have found the right moment to teach Daniel one Romanian word a day. He already knew almost everything that defines food, but now I have evolved into verbs. Let’s see how long it lasts.
- And last but not least, we celebrated all the holidays: Palm Sunday, Catholic Easter and Orthodox Easter (yes, this year we had two Easter weekends in a row), King’s Day in the Netherlands, May 1, Cinco de Mayo, the fact that we finally watched the Downton Abbey movie. And let’s see what’s next.
I know we all spend our time differently. But never in history have there been so many ways to have fun on the couch. Of course, it is not good to stay with the same habits once this situation is over. But for now, I don’t think we have anything to complain about.