Barb & Meg | Get off your butt and out of your rut!

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BARBARA BALLINGER AND MARGARET CRANE

Have you ever hit a wall? Well, our friend “A” and her honey did. They were going stir crazy in their New York City Upper East Side apartment looking at the same four walls day in and day out. In the spirit of caution during the height of the pandemic, the pair had quarantined in their home for some 730 days.

We could relate.

However, once the pandemic abated a bit in early February, they donned their K95 surgical masks and headed down the block to a swanky hotel for some new-wall therapy. The room was the size of a New York closet and cost a king’s ransom, but at least the bathroom was enormous, A. reported. They had a lovely dinner and checked out the next day after spending a small fortune but feeling “wall” refreshed. Ironically, they couldn’t wait to get back up the block to the four walls they know best.

We each started thinking about our walls closing in on us and decided on some remedies that require less money and effort, especially now that the weather is warmer, and the views outdoors are nicer. We realize that the ramp-up in Covid-19 numbers is a concern, but we also feel it’s okay to venture out a bit more; of course, we pack our N95 mask,  an extra one for good luck and a little bottle of hand sanitizer. Here are 13 options both to enjoy our surroundings more and see a little more of the world:

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  1. Rotate art or mirrors on your walls so you’re staring at something different each week or month when you stay in. And if you’re a raging narcissist, you can always stare at yourself in a mirror, too. Consider a bigger mirror for more YOU!
  2. Move around the furniture to trick the eye into seeing the walls in a different light.
  3. Switch locations within the room. If you always sit on the sofa, move to a comfy chair for a different view and angle or pull up a chair to a table and play a board game. This will give you something different to stare at and keep you busy.
  4. Sit in front of a window and appreciate a new vista, even if you face a brick wall or another apartment’s building. You can then stare at their four walls. Binoculars or camera with telephoto lens offer yet more new views, as in the Alfred Hitchcock movie “Rear Window.”
  5. If you’re willing to spend a bit of money to refresh your surroundings– and who hasn’t during the pandemic, paint at least one wall a new hue or go for some wallpaper. There’s removable paper these days, so you can take it down periodically and put up something new.
  6. Spend more time in your bedroom; it has walls, too! Linger in bed and read the newspaper or a book or stare at the ceiling-what designers always refer to as the fifth wall. Be sure you have great pillows, sheets and a throw. Any view looks better when you’re comfortable or in a reclining position.
  7. Consider cooking more, if you haven’t. Kitchens have walls and often a window, though not always in New York City. Focus on some complicated recipe and you won’t have time to think about walls when your arms are covered in flour from making your own babka, which takes hours to knead, roll and fill with chocolate! Cinnamon! Nutella! And then wait for it to bake. In these circumstances, and for a change of pace, you can always stare at the oven door. Turn on its light, and you can look inside-four more walls.
  8. Head to your bathroom and take a steam shower or bubble bath. Hopefully, you have great tile to look at; if not, at least it’s a new view. Better yet, close your eyes while relaxing, and you don’t have to worry about a wall view at all.
  9. If you’re lucky enough to be in a house, consider the walls of your attic or basement. Barbara has never stepped foot in either of hers out of fear of what could lurking behind those walls. She’s decided however, after months of the same old, same old walls, these areas might offer a wonderful opportunity for new wall scenes and even some horror stories to write about.
  10. Learn to do a headstand. Being upside down gives you a totally new perspective as you stare at your walls wherever you are in your home.
  11. Do the old switcheroo. Ask a close friend, who maybe was in your COVID-19 bubble and has been double or triple vaxed and boosted, if you can come stare at their four walls. It’s like exchanging houses. Do it for a few hours or a day. Be sure to bring along a great gift, maybe wine or a good single malt scotch. Everything will look different after a couple of drinks.
  12. Make a plan to occasionally head out for an outing and new walls. Don’t do this too much or you may get lax. Margaret was gifted a ticket to the opera; Barbara has tried two movies. Wear your masks, sit away from others and enjoy the new walls and whatever show or play or concert you’re attending.
  13. RENT-A-WALL. This could be a new business, the Airbnb and VRBO rental equivalent of stare-at-a-new-wall- (acronym is SANAW). Sign up and pay by the hour or the day. Questions to ask before you do so: how big are the walls–the longer and taller the better, what are the views-windows or art, what are the furniture options for sitting on, are you allowed to move the furniture and art around and eat or drink while staring? Can you also bring a spouse, partner, friend or pet?

If you’re feeling cornered at home and, if as they say the walls have ears, why not give your four walls a break from listening to your chatter with your partner or kids. And if you’re single and talk to the walls, have some pity. They need some space, too. Go take a walk in bucolic Central Park, Forest Park or any park, which has the best bonus of all–no walls just miles and miles of trees, flowers, maybe a fountain or pond and chirpy birds.