Opinion | Keeping Up With the Columnists: Vignettes of sheer boredom

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Leah Mensch | Contributing Editor

From the bedroom to the bathroom to the refrigerator to the laundry room, Pitt News opinions columnists have been traveling far and wide. Well, as far and wide as possible in the time of COVID-19. This is all to say, we’re so incredibly bored. “Just how bored?” you may ask. Well, see for yourself.

Devi Ruia, Senior Staff Columnist

Even before social distancing, I had an unhealthy relationship with my phone — especially with Twitter. Now that I haven’t left my house in days and I have yet to be assigned work for my classes, that problem has increased tenfold and even expanded to other social media apps.

I’ve never really been a big fan of Instagram, but lately I’ve been spending a ton of time on there watching celebrities read children’s books on the account Save With Stories. I am an adult — legally at least. I don’t really get anything out of these books. I don’t even like or know all of these celebrities. But I am so desperate for any form of entertainment that I have spent large chunks of my day watching people like Brie Larson and Reese Witherspoon read me books meant for children 17 years younger than myself.

I will say though that watching these videos is giving me more than just a distraction from the news. These videos and these stories are oddly soothing in this time of extreme stress — honestly I’d recommend we all spend a few hours watching them. Not like we have anything better to do anyway.

Leah Mensch, Opinions Editor 

In my last vignette, I wrote about the dying plant in the window of my yoga studio. The good news is this plant is now not only surviving, but frankly, it is thriving. While multiple studies have shown that plants can see, hear and smell — and possibly even feel pain — there is no evidence that plants experience any kind of generalized anxiety. Cool. Good for the plants. I am not a plant, but sometimes — especially in these trying times — I wish I was.

Yes, I’ve had time to think about this. Here are some other things I’ve done out of sheer boredom. I baked a very fancy pie. (See the featured photo). I also reorganized the furniture in my room. By reorganized, I mean that I moved my dresser into my closet so that I would have a space on my floor for my yoga mat, and I moved other items, like the vacuum, clothes drying rack and broken lamp into the room of my third roommate, who decided to stay home for the remainder of the semester. The third bedroom in my house has effectively become my attic. Then, pretending the level of neatness mattered at all, I reorganized my attic.

Josh Beylinson, Staff Columnist

Although the point of these vignettes is to document the sheer boredom that we experienced while in quarantine, I like to think that I didn’t completely waste my time over the extra long spring break. For once, I was able to completely focus on the things I enjoyed doing, instead of the things that would make my resume look better or boost my GPA. Instead of reading a long-winded political science treatise on ethnically heterogeneous countries, I was able to enjoy a beautifully illustrated book on the Plantagenet dynasty of England. Reading for my own pleasure was something I am unable to do that often during the semester and it was nice to get lost in the drama and power politics of late medieval England.

Reading a book is worth it even if you learn just one interesting fact from it. One fact makes you just a little bit more interesting and worldly. For example, did you know that there was an old Anglo-Saxon method for testing the innocence of priests in medieval England, where the priest in question was forced to eat a piece of consecrated bread, and if they choked, they were found guilty?

Thanks to the Plantagenet dynasty, priests are no longer forced to consume bread.

Alex Dolinger, Staff Columnist

I’m spending an unfortunate amount of time on social media these days. I never used to look at anyone’s Instagram stories, but now that I am desperate for any kind of stimulus, I will tap through them for what feels like hours.

Thus, I came across the most egregious form of Instagram stories — people drawing fruits and vegetables and tagging their friends to do the same. I scrolled through story upon story of shoddy carrots wearing sunglasses, among other emoji accoutrement.

This is just a reminder to me that I am stupid by nature because I keep looking at instagram stories, I keep paying attention to these fruits and vegetables that sometimes have faces for some reason and I keep getting irrationally angry that none of my friends have tagged me to draw one.

Julia Kreutzer, Senior Staff Columnist 

I’ve been trying to search for the silver linings amid this madness. It all comes down to sleep and dogs. And obviously getting to spend quality time with my family — hi, Mom! Other than that, I’m struggling. I’ve fallen down a deep, dark hole of television. I’ve finished “Schitt’s Creek,” “Grace and Frankie” and all of my other binges. I’ve resorted to those weird, cancelled series that post episodes or extended clips on YouTube. “Pawn Shop” — I love it. “Live P.D.” — I’m on the edge of my seat. 

I’ve learned five guitar chords. I’ve organized half of my basement and found a hodgepodge of childhood photos (see reference). I’ve synced my sleep cycle to naturally wake up around 1 p.m. and fall asleep around 1 a.m., limiting the amount of time in the day I have to fill. My 13-year-old sister is cutting my hair. I’ve randomly started trading emails with friends to make each other giggle. I got halfway through making biscuits until I got bored and abandoned the “dough” I had most definitely not made correctly. I’ve treasured this pause but I couldn’t be more ecstatic for the day we get to hit play again.

Paige Lawler, Assistant Opinions Editor

Since I’ve been home for a while with nothing to do — aside from a history paper that I’ve been avoiding for, like, two months — I’ve decided to deep clean my entire house. Fun fact — I started my cleaning spree after trying to write this vignette and getting annoyed at how unproductive I’ve been. So far, I’ve hit the kitchen, laundry room, downstairs bathroom, guest room, my bedroom and my bathroom. I’ve also organized the pantry, dusted the piano and rearranged my closet and bookshelf.

Highlights of my cleaning spree include finding a $50 bill under a pile of papers on my desk and listening to my music on full blast — a massive perk of being the only person in the house whose workplace shut down.

The worst part of my cleaning spree — the lowlight? — was discovering that a little yellow-orange spider moved into my desk lamp while I was away at school. I tried to get him to crawl onto a pencil so I could fling him out the window — you know, as one does — but he wouldn’t cooperate. As a result, the lamp is now sitting on my front porch, where it’s likely to remain until I have proof that the spider is gone.

Michael Clifford, Staff Columnist

I’ve realized that I’ve amassed 17, maybe 18, maybe 19 Hawaiian shirts in three years of buying them. The collection is far from finished.

Maggie Durwald, Senior Staff Columnist

When life suddenly grinds to a halt, we all deal with it in different ways. I dealt with it by reading a 900-page epic in the first days of the pandemic, a book which emotionally wrecked me for all other books — thank you, Wally Lamb. Due to the emotional hangover that book left me with, I found myself unable to even look at the massive pile of books I’ve been meaning to read should the entire world shut down. So instead of reading all those books, I decided to sort through and clean out my bookshelves, as my mother has been asking me to do since 2015.

I should confess I have a bit of a problem when it comes to books — it’s nearly impossible for me to walk out of a book sale or a second hand shop without at least one tucked under my arm. And besides that, all my life people have always just given them to me in spades. One of my high school French teachers gave me four heaping boxes of old books, with the threat that she’d throw them away if I didn’t take them. And listen, I’m not heartless.

So I spent two whole days taking my books off of their shelves. I let them marinate in the middle of my room for another day, tripping over them incessantly. I spent the next two days sorting them by subject into neater stacks which I continued to trip over. And then I spent one very long night reshelving them alphabetically by author and in order of publication date. Here an exciting hurdle presented itself — when stacked in the same direction, English and French language books’ spines face in opposite directions. So I had to go through and flip all the French books.

And that’s the most enthralling thing I’ve done during the pandemic to date — wait until you hear the boring parts.

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