101 ways to pass the time during Snowpocalypse/Snowverkill ’10

Snowpocalypse/Snowverkill 2010: a series of significant snowfalls in the Mid-Atlantic region, which have grounded me for over a week. The scooter is snug under its duct tape-patched nylon cover and about three feet of snow, and I have tried to creatively pass the time. Here are some of the highlights.

1. Netflix. The Gods gift to the housebound. For as little as $9 per month, you will have unlimited access to endless supplies of streaming B-movies, random A-list cult classics, and obscure television shows. So whether you want to work your way through the cheese-tastic Xena and Hercules series or indulge in the crack cocaine that is LOST, Netflix is a wise investment for even the snow-free times of year. Caution—the sensual red of the viewer screen can easily seduce your productive life away. Set a timer for safety.

2. Facebook. I think everyone I knew in the region was on Fb this past week. From posting/enjoying nonsense links (Calvin & Hobbes Snowmen) and perfecting crop rotation schedules on Farmville to partaking in communal lamenting/rejoicing over cancellations and stalking old lovers from the other side of the world, Facebook took up large chunks of my raw, non-baked time.

3. Clean out your e-mail Inbox. This is probably the only genuinely productive task I accomplished this entire week. Nevertheless, I am proud to announce that my mired swamp of communication is down to under 100 e-mails and only a handful awaiting reply.

4. Index your music. Tasks like this are the ones that generally slightly improve quality of life but are too tedious to actually sit down and do. However, during times of emergency, or substantial procrastination, they are the perfect activity for making you feel like you are actually accomplishing something worthwhile. I take an obsessive-compulsive pleasure in organizing all the albums and artists, with proper album art, into the appropriate folders on my external hard-drive. I also like to keep track of how many different languages I have in my 14GB collection: 14 and counting.

5. Balance your checkbook. Another worthwhile task; unfortunately, this only took a couple of minutes of creative math. The mysterious $5.10 made another reappearance. How long before you just decide it really is your money and not just an oversight or un-cashed check?

6. Spend quality time with your pet. Ashlie was quite happy I was home with her. She showed her pleasure by sitting on top of me at every opportunity and curling up between my arms as I type. Of course, she does this normally, but she seemed more relaxed this past week. I tried to convince her we should go play in the snow; however, she reminded me she knows where I sleep, so I took the idea off the agenda. We did spend some time on the porch knocking icicles off the skylights and eating last season’s verbena. Crunchy, and if you squint your eyes, the snow looks like powdered sugar.

7. Knit. Well, in theory, I should have finished several of the 20+ projects I have on my needles, but I guess this seemed just a bit too productive. Sorry, everyone, 2008 and 2009 yule presents will be further delayed.

8. Read. If you are a student, this may, unfortunately, be a drudgery, but for those of us who are not chained to mandatory books or teachers buried under white mounds of essays, snow storms are a good time to catch up on some light reading. I am currently reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke, which is enjoyable in a bizarre way but is not really the best stuck-in-your-house-without-any-social-outlet sort of book. “Desperate” isn’t the right word, but it’s the first word that comes to mind.

9. Clean your house. Yeah, right…

10. Bake-fest. The prerequisite for this step, of course, is having stocked up on needed ingredients before the storm(s) hit. I did not. The thought of going to the market sent chills down my spine. Think about it: the normal after-work rush, on Super Bowl weekend, before a massive, “history-making” snow storm. Not a chance. However, in a stroke of forethought several storms ago, I bought a large jar of Nutella. So I replace this suggestion with “Find out how many things in your cupboard taste even better with Nutella.” If you have never tasted the sweet nectar of the gods that is Nutella, let me assure you that you have not yet lived. Nutella hails from Italia and is made from hazel nuts and chocolate. The recipe came about as a result of government oppression, true story. So in the name of activism and forestalling boredom, I empirically researched the enhancement capabilities of Nutella on a wide variety of things and discovered my current favorite: Pepperidge Farms’ Chessmen.

11. Call your mom (or relative of choice). I mean, I probably don’t call her enough anyway. I think she likes hearing from me even if I am not her favorite child. And she can talk for quite a while about her cats. I think she spoils them rotten to make up for past shortcomings, but they are extremely ungrateful. At least I never peed on her bed. Well, not for many years.

12. Watch your neighbors try to dig out. This kept me entertained for hours. With no curtains, it was like impromptu theater.

13. Have a wine tasting, by yourself. Again, this requires pre-storm preparations. Nothing like watching the snow fall while sipping a glass of red wine by a fire. Unfortunately, all I had was the effin’ snow.

14. Write letters. Who doesn’t like getting something in the mailbox other than bills? I have several friends, including one who is teaching in Ghana, who write to me, rather more faithfully than I reply. So I used the quiet time to catch up on some correspondence. Of course, the mail was not running in the area, so my letters, rent check, water bill, and Netflix disc went out and came back in several times before they actually were taken, each time looking the worse for the wear. My porch gutter is spilling an icy cascade onto my steps, including my mailbox. So if you receive a very smeared envelope with water stains, please don’t be afraid to touch it. It is just melted snow; I promise. However, I make no claims as to what was in the snow before it got to me.

15. Write a self-indulgent blog. Obviously, this is a personal favorite. Who doesn’t like talking about themselves? Plenty of free hosting places exist on the Web, and blogs are supposed to be the new (last several years) trend in writers marketing the hell out of themselves. Decades have passed since the only necessary skill of a writer was, well, writing. Writers must do the work of legions of paid professionals (agents, editors, marketers) yet are only paid for the writing part of the process. If they are lucky. However, like the allure of Nigerian princes, state lotteries, and capitalism, somebody’s father’s cousin’s former roommate won a movie deal, so the cycle perpetuates.

16. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

In the end, I spent more time these last few days having paralyzing panic attacks over the state of the weather than I did being productive. So while I should have a pile of edited poems and essays tucked safety in envelopes waiting for the next time I can catch the elusive mail-person, all I have to show for myself is a neat Inbox and a balanced check register. As the snow melts, I hope so will my anxiety, and next week awaits.

*Note: This blog is meant for edutainment purposes only, and to that end, I may occasionally use some literary license. Furthermore, by reading this notice, you are acknowledging that no legal liability exists for following the aforementioned suggestions, and you are aware you should enjoy yourself at your own risk.

Tiffany Santos - Find me on Bloggers.com

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