an introvert’s guide to quarantine bliss

or how i learned to stop worrying and love the calm

As an introvert, I love the idea of never leaving the house. It doesn’t matter what the event is – I can always find a reason not to go. So the idea of a self-imposed quarantine sounds amazing.

If you don’t believe me, here’s what my husband does to show he cares: he takes our kid and leaves for the day. I have the whole house to myself, alone. It’s glorious.

All I need to work is a laptop and an Internet connection, so COVID-19 means more work (for now). Lots of website announcements and emails to send. If I see another one of those “49 Things to Do While Quarantined” articles I’m going to break something. So in the spirit of irony, I’m going to write one of those articles. Writing about all the things I would love to be doing is actually doing one of them (#8). The complete list is below: keep scrolling to read in order, or click any item to jump to that section.

If you have no idea what to do with free time at home… here’s what I would/will be doing. I’ll include suggestions to make it super easy for you.

1. read the crap out of some books

1. read the crap out of some books

With the exception of art supply stores, art museums, and artisanal dark chocolate, actual, physical, ink-printed-on-paper books are my favorite things ever.

Most of what I read comes from Mid-Continent Public Library. I play this game of alternating holds for new books and available now books, hoping I can stagger arrival. Lucky for me, I lost that game and everything came in at once before the library shut down. I’ve got a stack of 4 books I haven’t even opened yet. I’m already reading 3. I also have at least 10 unread books in my personal library. My happiness is directly proportional to the amount of books surrounding me at any given moment:

If quarantined, I would brew a cup of tea, fight a cat for the comfiest spot in the house (shout out to beanbags), and read for hours.

Handy Suggestion Box:
Love reading? Peruse your own shelves, see if you can borrow something from a non-COVID infected friend, or buy a book on Amazon. We all know their merch sits in giant robot patrolled warehouses, so it’s
probably safe. Burn the dust jacket if you’re worried (I hate dust jackets). If you’re brave, you could order used books from Half Price Books online inventory.
Not a fan of printed words on flattened trees? Go the audiobook route and download Libby, an app that lets you check out audio or ebooks from the library. You could also get a free trial of Audible, which is currently offering kids books for free.

If helpful, a couple book series suggestions:

For Kids:

  • Our favorite author is Adam Rubin. We love every one of his books, but our favorite series are Those Darn Squirrels.
  • We’ve really been enjoying the Nick & Tesla series (available through MCPL on Libby). They’re about a couple of 11 year old kids, so probably better for that age range, but I read them to the 5 year old and ask questions/explain things. Very science-y spy stuff.

For Adults:

  • Nonfiction: See my Books Every Human Should Read List for nonfiction recommendations, which is what I normally read. Feel free to comment here if you’re looking for something specific.
  • Fiction: it’s been a while, but the last fiction I read (fantasy) was Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series. Book #1 was awesome, I liked #2 less, and I never got to #3 although I hear it’s also awesome.


  • If you don’t want to mess with paper or ebooks, check out my favorite blog, Wait But Why. He basically writes books on the Internet, and they’re amazing.

2. paint and stare into space

2. paint and stare into space

As this website shows, I’m a mixed media artist. Making art requires something a quarantine provides in abundance; large blocks of uninterrupted time. I generally have very few of these, which makes it hard to make art. Looking around my studio right now I have:

  • a huge painting in progress for something like 2 years taking up the whole floor
  • a half complete painting on my drafting table
  • a barely-begun painting
  • a painting that needs retouched and sealed
  • a painting that’s 85% complete but requires nice weather
  • sketches galore that have yet to be started

Lest you think I never finish anything, the multiple-pieces-in-progress is by design. I need pieces I can work on indoors, outdoors, absentmindedly or with zoned in details. It’s the same reason I read 5 books at once. If I’m not in the mood for science, I’ll read the culture/history book. The next night I might read about mindfulness. It’s hard not to find something you like when it’s a buffet.

If quarantined, I would find the painting that speaks to me, strap on my smock, put on some music and stare into space for 20 minutes. (I split art time between staring at art and making it). Or I’d start a new painting for some serious emotional processing of this weird reality we find ourselves in. I’m itching to paint something surrealist.

Handy Suggestion Box:
Before you say “I’m not creative,” let’s make this clear: humans love making things with their hands. It’s what we’ve done for most of our existence. As much as I love writing this article, I’m on my laptop. This is nowhere near as therapeutic as pushing paint around a canvas. You can create something in actual physical space that didn’t exist an hour ago. Amazing, right?

It doesn’t matter if you paint, or crochet, or cook, or turn a bookshelf into a rocking horse. Just make something. No expectations. It’s called playing, and you don’t have to post it on Instagram.