New Quarantine Habits

Whew, it’s been a hot minute. All this stay at home business, though, has gotten me thinking about this ol’ blog again! So much has happened in year since I last wrote. Mainly career-wise.

Basically there is a really important award for junior faculty, and if you get it, you are basically set. Maybe about 20% of junior faculty receive it. I never in a million years thought I would get it, but on my second try this year, I did! The difference in my work-related stress levels is like night and day. I feel like a newborn baby. It’s basically validation of all my research ideas and the effort I’ve put into the last 4 years of being an assistant prof. And it feels amazing!!! Tenure should be in the bag now (knock on wood).

Along with feeling way more relaxed about my career, one of the reasons I stopped writing was I had gotten weirdly obsessed with checking my blog metrics (like page count), and it was stressing me out to try to write “good” posts/comments and track how well the blog was doing. I know, I know, it sounds silly for this tiny personal blog, but I guess that’s the Type A part of my personality coming out. Anyway, I deleted the WordPress app from my tablet and am making a promise to myself not to check any blog metrics, and just enjoy the act of writing and sharing my thoughts with the world!

For this post, I wanted to collect (and document for future me) some thoughts on the whole stay-at-home thing, what I’ve been up to, and how it’s changed my lifestyle and habits. As a white collar worker, I’ve been really lucky not to be severely affected by the current state of affairs. Besides working and teaching from home (which is a whole other story), we haven’t had any furloughs or other major lifestyle restrictions. (Although furloughs are likely coming given the university’s budget shortfalls.) It’s been a good time for self-reflection and resetting. So here’s what’s changed so far for me, the good and the bad.

The Good

Lots of sewing

Being home all the time has resulted in lots of sewing time. I’m all sewed out for a bit now, to be honest. But here’s what I made during this recent spurt of productivity:

  • The brown duster is my fave! It can be worn both open and closed, and has that robe-y style that is oh-so-popular now (or am I outdated).
  • The navy skirt is a basic that will be a workhouse in my wardrobe (why is it so hard to find a good, simple skirt??)
  • The white wrap blouse (inspired by MM Lafleur’s Deneuve blouse) is honestly not that great. It looks OK in the photo, but in reality it’s kind of blousy and pirate-y. Oh well, despite that expensive silk noil material, it might bite the dust.
  • The pink jacket (sans buttons, for now), was inspired by the recent flooding of chore jackets on the market. I saw one from Madewell that I think subconsciously influenced me to make this. Yay trends.
  • The aprons are well, aprons. My old one was a souvenir from China which I’m pretty sure was kids size, so I wanted to upgrade. One of the aprons is for my sister, who’s in college and becoming quite the cook herself 🙂

Cooking upgraded

So much cooking… I’m tired. S is pretty useless in the kitchen, so it’s been all on me. Because of all this eating at home, I upgraded my CSA box to come once a week, instead of every two weeks. I also discovered juicing! It’s a great way to use up all these random veggies that come in the CSA box, which was a major source of guilt before I got the juicer. There is way less food waste this way. Leftover lettuce juice? Zucchini juice? I know, it sounds weird, but throw in an apple or a beet, and it all tastes good!

Some strange juice mix.

Early bird + gym

I have been discovering that I am, in fact, an early bird. I’m not sure if this is a pro or a con (I’ll also talk about it later below in “The Bad” section), but I’ve been waking up at 6-7am almost every day, without an alarm clock, filled energy and the need to jump out of bed. This has led to very productive mornings before settling down to work – gym, household errands, cooking leisurely breakfasts – all things that I never did before. It really makes you feel accomplished to get a bunch of stuff done before 9am!

Speaking of gym, with the school gym being shut down, I’ve been making do at home. Dumbbells are sold out everywhere, so my dumbbells are now my pots and my laundry detergent 🙂 Thank goodness I already had this pullup bar, a yoga mat, and the stretchy elastics. The IKEA stool has also turned out very useful to do exercises requiring platforms of different heights. After many months of training (starting pre-quarantine), I’m finally able to do one non-assisted chin-up!!! It feels amazing, and I can actually see  the shape of biceps and triceps on my arm (wut). For someone who’s always been the typical “skinny Asian girl” with no muscles, this feels amazing. Now to get that second chin-up…

At home gym

Plant lady

I’ve also accumulated quite the collection of plants. Some of them are evacuees from my office, and others are just… well… more plants. I’ve also been on a planter buying spree from Target, and have way more planters than plants now. Will have to return them later. My current favorite (although you shouldn’t pick favorites from your plant children, right?) is the rubber tree. I saw it in the store and thought it looked kind of like that home blogger favorite, the fiddle leaf fig, but is supposed to be much easier to care for. I love the leaf shape and color.

And isn’t that scenery outside gorgeous? The bougainvillea (I think that’s what it is) blooms for probably half the year here… I love it.

The Bad


Like I said earlier, I wake up every morning filled with adrenaline/energy, and can’t go back to sleep. The energy’s not all positive, though… it seems almost like nervous energy, and I don’t feel very good. I think this got triggered from the early stages of the pandemic, when I would wake up and compulsively reach for my phone to check the latest virus statistics. Although I’ve calmed down a lot lately (and thankfully the pandemic also seems to have), I need to break this habit and be able to sleep in again. I’m going to try meditation, which I’ve been doing on-and-off for the past year (mostly off).

Elbow/neck pain

All this working from home has been very comfortable in terms of being able to take useful/productive breaks (laundry in between meetings, anyone?), but it’s been killer for my neck and elbow. I first noticed this during my home workouts, when I started feeling some elbow pain in my right arm during push-ups. I don’t think this is a good sign, given my relatively young age. I think this is from poor posture when using my mouse, so this past weekend, I went to my office and stole my chair back (after getting appropriate permission). I hope this will help solve the issue. This was also part of the motivation for my chin-up exercise routine, as I’m trying to strengthen my back/chest muscles to improve posture.

I’m also planning to order a standing desk, because it looks like we’re going to be working from home for a while. The latest rumours don’t even have us being fully on campus in the fall quarter 😮 So I want the home office to be in good shape.

Finally have my work chair at home!

How are you handling the stay at home measures? Have you formed any new personal habits?

2 thoughts on “New Quarantine Habits

  1. Glad to see you back and congratulations on the big award! And wow, the scenery outside your window is really lovely. All we see from our apartment windows is the apartment complex across the street, alas.

    We have been lucky enough to be able to start working completely from home almost immediately when things got serious here in NYC, around March 13 or so. No disruptions to income or job security yet, though I wouldn’t be comfortable continuing to bet on that next month or later for my workplace. It’s really hard to predict whether we’ll continue to bring in new business after that… There’s just so much uncertainty about what the rest of the year is going to look like.

    My sleep schedule’s been all over the place, it changes every two weeks or so. I definitely feel a lot of tension and nervous energy most of the time. I’m trying not to worry about the distant future too much and to take things a day at a time, but it’s hard! I’m missing the office quite badly, which is a surprise. I would have thought I’d appreciate having the ability to work from home all the time!


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