OK, we’ve all been living La Vida Lockdown for about a month now. And maybe we have even managed to adjust to the lockdown lifestyle somewhat. But even if, like me, you are socially distant at the best of times, you may be experiencing some cabin fever. You’ve now read all of the previously unread books that were in your bookshelves, binge-watched as much Netflix as you can stand, and finally realized, like me, that you are not going to use your surfeit of stay-at home time for cleaning, organizing, or exercising. So, what to do?
Memes. Covid-19 has really brought out the humor and creativity in people. I have lost many hours being entertained by memes. Some of my favorites are the Batman memes, and those involving kids and their parents trying to cope with school-from-home. You can Google some of the best ones, or just wait for them to cross your dash, or even better, if you are creative and have a good sense of humor, join the fun, and create and share your own.
Online Games. If you are a serious gamer and embrace the covid quarantine as perfect justification for staying in your room and playing games nonstop (finally, vindication!), you will never see this article. You were ahead of the curve. But if you haven’t done much gaming since you were in school, maybe you’re rediscovering the sims. If you have a shorter attention span (mea culpa), there are more traditional, but no less addictive, games online, like Sudoku, Set, and Solitaire.
Coloring Books. You finally have time to make use of all those interesting, grown-up coloring books you bought a few years ago. If you were able to resist that fad, did you know that plenty of the world’s museums offer free, downloadable coloring books? Not sure that’s really the best use of their budgetary resources, but there they are, nonetheless. Whether you prefer the art of ancient Greece, medieval stained-glass patterns, or botanicals, there are some superb designs to color.
Virtual tours. Avoid long lines, the TSA, delays, expense, and lost baggage. Take advantage of some of the virtual tours of top destinations, or just take a short trip using Google street view. You can even time travel, and see ancient Rome. Your virtual journey may just be the most pleasant travel experience you have ever enjoyed.
National Parks. You can’t get there in person right now, but thanks to these virtual experiences, you can enjoy the best of the great outdoors in the U.S. national parks without having to worry about mosquitos, weather, wild animals, or where to find a restroom.
Live Cams. If you are missing your spring trip to the zoo, lots of zoos, aquariums, and human wildlife offer live cams of their daily existence. So check out the baby tigers, naked mole rats, or impoverished students trying to earn a buck letting you share their daily lives. You can share an animal enclosure or a tiny apartment without violating any social distancing rules.
Museum Virtual Tours. Art, history, archeology, natural history: whatever your interest, it is probably there.
Dallas Arboretum Virtual Visits. The spring blooms are not to be missed, even if you can’t get there in person. When I worked there on the Paseo years ago, I know I was sometimes rained on, snowed on, and even got heatstroke once, but I remember it just as Sunny World, a beautiful place filled with families enjoying the garden installations, school kids on field trips shepherded their teachers, and groups of friends exploring all the 66 acres had to offer.
Concerts. Many arts organizations are providing their musical offerings for free, their performances going viral, so you don’t have to. NPR has a list of many of the classical concerts, and the Berlin Philharmonic, among many others, is providing free access to their performances while concert halls are closed. If classical music grates on your last nerve, rock, pop, electronic dance, and other types of artists are also livestreaming for us while we are stuck at home, possibly drinking one too many quarantinis. I’ve bookmarked the David Guetta livestream for charity to listen to later.
Audiobooks. Audible, for example, has a large collection of free audiobooks online right now to help get you through the coronapocalypse. I sampled the first book of the Harry Potter series, the Jungle Book, and Brave New World (seemed topical).
Public Libraries. The libraries have done an amazing job of stepping up with new ways of providing services while we’re all essentially under house arrest. You can stream or use curbside pickup. Check out your local library. They will get you a library card if you don’t have on yet.
Free Online Courses. For the more ambitious among us, there are all sorts of free online courses out there. Learn a language, study art, learn coding, or take a biochemistry course at an Ivy League university; the choice is yours.
Academic Journals. If you’re a knowledge junkie and love the minutiae of an intense discipline, the obscure discoveries in a difficult field, or just want to learn something about the latest research in virology, given that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, you can find it all at the MUSE site. Universities and research institutions around the world are making vast quantities of their information for available for free. But hurry, much of the free access seems to end by June 30th, or even before.
Pen Pals. If you remember the joy of receiving a letter from your pen pal in France or England during high school, you may want to seek a pen pal. You can find people all over the world to correspond with, either electronically or by snail mail, with the colorful stamps that provides for your collection. Brush up on your high school French, or just correspond in English (or Texan).
Fandom. If you’re a nerd and love this social distancing and isolation time as much as I do, you probably already know that there is no better time to read and write fanfiction and to play in the fictional worlds that we have come to love (and which are almost certainly better than the present one in which we find ourselves, and some of them are dystopian). I have been spending time at J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, which has launched a Harry Potter at home hub, where you can get your wizarding passport, learn to which Hogwarts house you belong, and receive your virtual magic wand. There are also free activities and a link to a free audiobook listening experience.
People have come together and responded in so many positive ways during the pandemic, so enjoy the opportunities for free experiences that are offered during lockdown. We may never have so much free access to knowledge, culture, and virtual activity again.
by Jen Green, Burch Law