Advice to Josh: Quarantine

With a limited amount of things to do in quarantine, FM is coming back from its six-year hiatus to provide advice to our eternal and anonymous freshman, Josh. We’ve asked FM writers to help Josh come up with some new ideas to help pass his time in quarantine. Josh didn’t even ask for FM’s advice — so you can be the judge of who’s really crying for help here. Anyway, here are their expert answers.


With a limited amount of things to do in quarantine, FM is coming back from its six-year hiatus to provide advice to our eternal and anonymous freshman, Josh. We’ve asked FM writers to help Josh come up with some new ideas to help pass his time in quarantine. Josh didn’t even ask for FM’s advice — so you can be the judge of who’s really crying for help here. Anyway, here are their expert answers.

Grow a Quarantine Beard.

Social isolation is an excellent time to experiment with new looks and hairstyles. First popularized by shipwrecked pirates, the “Quarantine Beard” adds some wonderful color to one’s face as you stare at your own reflection in the mirror and ask what you have become. “Why is the rum gone?!” you exclaim in your best Jack Sparrow, standing pantless in front of your parents’ liquor cabinet. The beard cackles along with you: “Good one, Harrison!” Hey thanks, buddy! Your quarantine beard also has the added benefit of helping you measure the passage of time: Since you no longer need your meticulously documented G-Cal to plan your days, just use the millimeters of growth in facial scruff to mark time creeping by. — HRTW


Should I wear pants today? This is a question I’ve struggled with a lot in quarantine. Here’s the answer: Pants are extra credit during these Trying Times™. Walmart has seen a significant increase in the number of tops sold, but not in bottoms — irrefutable evidence that you’re allowed to neglect wearing nice clothing — or any clothing for that matter — if the region in question falls outside the Zoom shot. Pants? Non-essential workers — but maybe you’ll feel good about it at the end of the day. When you wake up, assess how mediocre you’re feeling: There should be an inverse relationship between high spirits and quarantine pants. In other words, wear pants when you feel your worst. Wearing jeans, however, is intolerable, especially the trendy, vintage kind. Feeling trapped inside is enough — don’t let your pants trap you too. — JFA

Animal Crossing.

I’m not normally one to brag, but I have the best town. Animal Crossing Town, that is. In case you’re uncultured, a Boomer, or simply not up-to-date on the newest version of the popular Nintendo game, “New Horizons” was released on March 20 for the Nintendo Switch, just in time for my quarantine — I even pre-ordered so I could play one day early. I think you’ll find that it’s literally the perfect game for anyone’s shelter-in-place. Can’t go outside? Well, I have a whole island to explore and can hop a plane whenever I choose. Can’t find your favorite fruits at the supermarket while exploring the aisles in your hazmat suit? Well my island has six different kinds: cherries, oranges, apples, pears, coconuts, and peaches. Miss seeing your friends everyday? I’m living on an island with 10 friends who give me free furniture and compliment me. My real life blockmates maybe said one or two nice things to me total, and they certainly didn’t give me that bean bag chair that YOU PROMISED I COULD HAVE AFTER FRESHMAN YEAR, CHRIS. If you can ignore the fact you’re living with talking animals (I’m back to Animal Crossing here — do try to keep up), a cheapskate raccoon who charges you bells — my town’s currency for everything — and that it’s completely electronic, it’s basically the perfect life. — SPM

Play Trivia Crack.

You probably already have a Trivia Crack account left over from middle school. Quarantine is the perfect time to revitalize twelve-year-old you. Look past the incessant advertising and poorly-phrased questions — “Identify this popular fish.?” paired with a photograph of, apparently, a Largemouth Bass — in order to prove your intellectual superiority. Oh you didn’t know that was a Largemouth Bass? Huh. If you’re like me, your expertise will be in the art category, where 89 percent of questions concern the work of Vincent Van Gogh. And if you’re like me, your failings will obviously occur in the sports category, because, if it is nothing else, Trivia Crack is a space to affirm exactly who you are. I haven’t changed much since I was 12, I guess. If you get so into it that you start submitting your own questions for the game — for example, a harmless question about Kate Bush — expect them to be mercilessly and overwhelmingly rejected by the Trivia Crack community. — OGO

Great British Baking Show

For some, quarantine is the perfect opportunity to begin a new hobby or hone an existing skill. Baking has proven popular: Some stores are even suffering from egg shortages. But if you can’t bake yourself and/or don’t want to risk souring your dough on expensive, probably fake spices like “caraway seeds” (named for the character from “Gatsby”?), “borage” (apparently not the same as “porridge”?), and “juniper berries” (nearly killed Katniss and Peeta in “Hunger Games”?), there’s a next best thing: binging all seven collections of the Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Instead of despairing over your own unrisen loaf, you can watch Paul Hollywood jab his finger into a contestant’s failed attempt at a brioche and proclaim it “underbaked.” You don’t need your friends to condescend towards you about their baking prowess via their Instagram stories when you could have a real-life British person do it on your own television! Between the soggy pastries, loveable characters, and stunning dessert displays, there’s bound to be something that hits the spot. — JZL

Joyous Unproductivity

I heard that you never had the opportunity to develop hobbies that are meaningful to you because you were too busy being valedictorian, captain of the tennis team, finding a cure to cancer, and volunteering at homeless shelters every day of high school. Is that right, Josh? Well, when you’re used to being busy all the time, it can be hard to be okay with doing nothing. Like mine, your timeline has probably been flooded with people who have large platforms on social media, boasting their two week ab challenges, upcycling projects, or newly discovered artistic skills. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve even book marked a few of these videos for later, even though you probably never took that second look. And you probably feel bad about yourself for your inability to commit to an activity that doesn’t involve staring at a screen for 18 hours of the day. It’s important to remember that quarantine is not a productivity contest, and that it’s okay for you to not check off everything that’s on your to-do list. I’d recommend you spend this time filling your empty schedule with activities that bring you joy regardless of your unproductivity, whether that be binging a tv series, taking a nap, or FaceTiming friends. — NBF


Now I’m sure that when you first heard of “Zoom,” you may have thought of the somewhat life-changing but also somewhat mediocre live-action PBS Kids television program that first aired in the winter of ’99 and ended prematurely in ’05. But actually, you and many other people are all sadly mistaken. The current mass discussion over Zoom is not regarding the highly anticipated comeback of a globally beloved television variety show consisting of segments made by kids (called Zoomers!) for kids, but the buzz is actually about a software company specializing in videotelephony. No worries, you can still reclaim that turn of the millenium, chaotic-good Zoom magic on the same platform that you use to watch your lectures! For example, I’m in the middle of a Zoom murder-mystery game with my blockmates to jazz up our days! Others are creating appendage mandalas using Zoom’s group call “gallery view” function. You too can repurpose this academic learning tool for shenanigans with your friends! Or you can just use Houseparty. — KL