Skip to main Content

Things to do in Alaska when you’re isolating

  • Author: Elise Patkotak
    | Opinion
  • Updated: March 25
  • Published March 25

Streets were mostly desolate Saturday, March 21, 2020, in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz has issued a "hunker down" order, asking everyone to stay at home as much as possible from late Sunday, March 22, until the end of the day March 31, to help control the spread of the coronavirus. Those working in critical jobs are exempt. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

I like to think of myself as a helpful kind of person. I help birds. I help dogs. When pushed, I even help some people if I like them enough. But we now exist in a whole new world order. All people need help and I am here to provide it. Below, you will find my expertly compiled list of things to do while self-isolating. They will make the days seem … well, probably as long as they are, given the unending boredom of being home all day. But they will amuse you, keep you occupied and eventually cause you to ask why you would listen to someone like me in the first place.

Here we go:

1. Empty out the junk drawer. Look at what is in there in horror. Try to remember what each random piece of plastic, cap, dried tube and multiple pieces of string and rubber bands are for and why you kept them in the first place. Decide if they are still worth keeping. Get frustrated. Throw everything back in the drawer and wait for next pandemic or the second coming to clean out. Watch “Big Bang” reruns.

2. Check on how much belly button lint you’ve collected since the last time you checked down there. Get very flabbergasted when you realize the amount far exceeded your expectations. Watch reruns of “NCIS: Los Angeles” and wonder how much belly button lint LL Cool J possesses.

3. Pull out that adult coloring book and start coloring. Realize that you no longer are able to color within the lines. Realize this was a lot more fun when you were young and high. End up on the couch watching “Schitt’s Creek.”

4. Try to copy your address book into your computer’s contacts program. Realize you don’t know how to do it. Get frustrated. Pound computer keyboard in hope it will scream the answer if you hit it hard enough. Watch “Mom” reruns.

5. Look in your closet. Decide to clean out clothes you no longer wear and get them ready to be brought to the shelter. Realize that while sheltering in place, you don’t need any clothes beyond a bathrobe. Realize you can’t give all your clothes away without getting strange looks from family and friends. Close closet door. Watch “When Harry Met Sally” and see if it’s as good as you remember.

6. Try to make that recipe your friend sent you 9 months ago. Realize halfway through that you not only are incapable of doing the recipe, but that you have also now substituted half the ingredients for things you could find in your cupboard that might taste the same. Look at the glop you have actually created. Bake the glop. Throw it out to the birds on the back porch. They won’t eat it either. Watch “Grace and Frankie” reruns.

7. Clean out all outdated meds in your bathroom. Realize they constitute more than half of your basic medical supplies. Think about going to the store to replace them. Decide expiration dates are more suggestions than anything else and 2012 was a great year for expiration dates. Keep all old medicine, because the cheap gene inherited from Nonna Sereni will not die and they might be good for one more dose. What else? Now watch President Donald Trump try to pretend he’s a wartime president. Watch us lose another war. Bonus points for taking whatever makes you happy every time he mispronounces a word.

8. Have you cleaned all your light fixtures yet? Because if that isn’t hours of frolicking self-isolating fun, I don’t know what is. Extra points for not falling off the table/ladder/chair and ending up exactly where you didn’t want to be — an emergency room.

OK, boys and girls. That ought to keep you occupied for awhile. Next week, we’ll move on to more advanced ideas for amusement while self-isolating, like folding a fitted sheet. This one is bound to cause hours of fun and frolic. And it will teach your pets all-new curse words, more than they ever imagined you knew. Finally, have your trash cans ready so we can go over the finer points of scrubbing it out so that you have the cleanest trash can on the block.

Happy self-isolating! It looks like it’s going to last a while, so pace yourselves.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at) Send submissions shorter than 200 words to or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.