Jim Lange Published

10 Cures For Cabin Fever From Eclectopia (Or How Not To Lose It During The Pandemic)


“When the world is running down, You make the best of what’s still around.” -The Police

The forecast, as of this writing, looks like America is in for a long haul. We’re practicing avoiding each other – politely known as “social distancing.”

I’ve washed my hands until they are a bit raw, wiped down every surface with an OCD fervor and IF I go out for groceries, I wear a mask but still find myself holding my breath lest airborne pathogens emmanate from my fellow shoppers. Paranoia has always been a constant companion – nothing new here.

It’s become ridiculous, but this is the new normal. So, what can you do? Answer: whatever is necessary to not get infected, but still not lose your mind from all this quarantined living.

We have to be smart. Unlike the kids who went to party on Florida beaches on spring break, we can use our heads for more than just growing hair.

1. Your home is still your home, but optimized!

HOME now stands for Highly Optimized Multipurpose Environment.

Homeschool! Yes, it’s now a school for you hearty parents to teach your little ones! Got that lesson plan yet? Going to have a mini-graduation ceremony at the end of the semester? Run out of patience yet?


Credit Emily Gardner
Photo by Emily Gardner. Used by permission.

I see happy photos of kids on social media now, but in two weeks time? Three? I say, soldier on! (And if you like wine/beer, don’t feel guilty having a small glass when the long day is done. You most definitely deserve one. Or two.)

Then let the kids watch Frozen or Frozen 2: The Reckoning on loop while you sneak a little nap. It’s ok. You are a champion! (Editors note – WVPB also has an amazing collection of At-Home Learning Resources for your kids 😉 )


Credit Photo by Amanda Weisse. Used by permission.
Your pets are now masters of the house. Resistance is futile.

It’s your workplace!

Working from home is also the new norm – stay in your bathrobe or pjs all day. If video conferencing, you might want to upgrade to your fav T-shirt. Pants: that’s your call. Well, ok maybe not. Your significant other might suggest otherwise.

It’s a gym. Forget all that yoga stuff. Work out with Leslie Jordan. He’s become the comedic relief during this terrible time.

2. Read all those books you’ve been putting off.

Who am I kidding? I don’t really read anything. Ask Bill Lynch or Eric Douglas. Both are authors and/or you can read their work, but I bet they have some good suggestions.

Explore the literary world, kiddo! Here’s a list of the 100 best choices. What’s that “No man is an island” quote? Find it at The Poetry Foundation – a fabulous source for all things poetical. I’m a big T.S. Eliot fan and Four Quartets keep me fascinated.

For my temperment, David Sedaris is one of the best humorists today.

3. Listen to music.

If you want to slow the mental gears down to a manageable level (You CAN reach a complete emotional saturation with the daily dire news.), I suggest starting with classical. Mozart, Haydn and Bach’s Aria on a three hour loop to start your step-down of mental trauma.


Credit WikiMedia Commons.
Brian Eno: master of chill.

If thou wants chill, start with Brian Eno – the man who started it all. My favorite is the 61-minute Thursday Afternoon which is audio valium. About 20 minutes into this, the tension has melted away. You can also sing along with Brian or listen to a public talk.

What to avoid: earworms. Talking with my friend George this week, who lives in NJ, I asked about his coping with working from home. It was fine he said, but when we got around to sharing what amused us musically, he asked, “Have you heard the Baby Shark song yet?” No was my answer and then he sent the link. About ten seconds in, I shut it down. Methinks George is coping admirably (Not!), but I won’t post the link.

If you are the type of person who needs a more dark variety of music during a crisis, let me suggest David Sylvian’s masterpiece: Secrets of the Beehive. If you want to go all the way weird, here’s my suggestion: Jan Bang/ Erik Honore’s Uncommon Dieties. Sylvian reads prose over some of the most creative (strange and weird to average listeners) music and sounds.

Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with Neil Young singing, with Spanish subtitles, about Elvis.

4. Watch.

It’s tricky. In this crisis, some may want dystopian movies and others want to escape to island paradises.

Again, you may only want light rom-coms. I have zero suggestions because they are all dreadfully predictable.

Comedy? I’m a Will Farrell kind of guy. Ben Stiller too.

If you want romance, why not The Year of Living Dangerously? It’s got a young (pre-meltdown) Mel Gibson, the lovely Sigourney Weaver, plus Linda Hunt: all set in Indonesia.

Netflix has lots of documentaries. Werner Herzog has made some of the best of them. Both light and dark, but always provocative. If you are really brave, then this one is for you.

5. Humor!

Humor is tricky because, like food, everyone varies in their taste. Here are my suggestions: watch old SNL skits.  The Barry Gibb Talk Show! How about Studio 360’s Kurt Andersen with Werner Herzog?

I own the SCTV DVDs with John Candy, so my I suggest my favorite skits like Polynesian Town, or a sendup of Ocean’s Eleven, or Mel’s Rock Pile?

6. There are a zillion podcasts.

I tend to listen to Fresh Air just about every day. Plus, the archive is open! You can find Bowie, listen to Terry’s youthful voice in 1978 when interviewing Steve Reich, Ira Glass interviews Philip Glass (the best I’ve ever heard), and last week I learned that Stephen Sondheim studied with Milton Babbit (and they would analyze Jerome Kern), and many more including the sad, but immensely funny Richard Pryor.

Just when I discovered Studio 360, Kurt Andersen has retired, but archives are up. This American Life has many great stories, but I love this one about an opening night fiasco. I never forgot Scott Carrier’s strikingly honest story about his job taking over his life. Finally, who could forget their Christmas story with Sedaris and David Rakeoff.

Song Confessional – a podcast that uses language that some listeners might find objectionable – has a unique approach to podcasting. Here’s their interview with Tristen.

7. The fridge is not your new best buddy.

On social media, I see all sorts of posts from people about trips to the fridge or overindulgence in food.

Stress eating, hoarding and subsequent overindulging comes with this new normal. Jokes abound about gaining the Covid 15. I’m doing my best not to overindulge and try to get my lazy self out on a walk, hike or a bike ride every day that the temp is suitable. I see others have the same idea. Exercise, like very few other activities, can clear the mind of anxiety.


Photo by Shirley Drennen. Used by permission.

8. People, please stop cabin fever baking. It’s making me hungry!

Ok, I just flatly contradicted myself. I have little to zero resistance to cake. Ok, it’s all out in the open now. Are you happy?


Credit Photo by Jim Lange.
Clay County, near Bomont.

9. Exercise!

Look, just move. Don’t care what, just move. On cold days, I walk. On warm days (has to be at least upper 50’s), I ride my bike. Some folks do yoga in their home. On any day, I will hike!

10. The big summary.

We’re in it for real now, but one day this will be something we ALL went through. Let’s do this right and smart with love and respect for one another. In a dog-eat-dog world, we only show our animal nature. Let’s not do that, please. Be calm, be civil, set an example.

Once we are truly in the clear, things will go back to normal. After all, you are accountable to your friends, your neighborhood and your community.

Please: be kind, be smart, be safe. Reach out to loved ones via technology. You’ll feel recconnected.