I Stayed In For 7 Days — Here's What It Did For My Mood

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
I confess: When it comes to invitations, I’m not good at saying “no.” A friend asking me to see a show, a colleague suggesting post-work drinks, a grad-school classmate proposing a night on the town — I agree to it all. It's reached the point where I suspect I've developed a problem with setting boundaries with my schedule.

Honestly, I blame this on improv training, which teaches you to always run with your scene partner’s suggestion, no matter how outlandish. (This is also known as the “Yes, and” principle.) Improv isn’t just a theater technique — it’s group therapy. So I’ve always taken the “Yes, and” approach when jumping on life’s opportunities. If a friend asks me to go to dinner, I counter with, “Yes, and let’s get drinks first.” It’s great for the social life but not so great for the sleep cycle — or adhering to any type of cleaning schedule.

Still, I have to admit: There's something to be said about staying home. Even one day of nesting makes me feel less rushed, more focused, and just plain happier. Inspired by the 30-day challenges everyone seems to do at the start of the new year, I decided it was time for my own (albeit shorter and slightly delayed) version: seven days of staying in. Besides, I had a screener of HBO's new show Big Little Lies, which is on Sundays at 9 p.m., and my week-long hiatus gave me the perfect opportunity to stay in and watch it with my book-club friends.

Ahead, see how it all went down when I stayed in for an entire week.

On the first day, God created light. I cleaned my apartment. This was a major, take-the-day-off-work sort of undertaking. It required everything of me: organization, focus, at least six podcasts. I cleaned my hardwood floors three ways (it's possible), defied my allergies by dusting things I never knew should be dusted, scrubbed down my entire bathroom, and Kondo-ed my closet in half (so many jeans, so little joy).

While the Christmas potluck leftovers did not survive my Monday kitchen purge, there was some cilantro, parsley, garlic, and lemon that still had the will to live. Inspired by this recipe, I threw them all into a food processor along with olive oil, a splash of red-wine vinegar, Parmesan, and the remains of a bag of almonds to make pesto. By the time my fiancé got home, I was tossing the freshly made sauce with spaghetti I found in the pantry, and we ate dinner the way commercials always wanted us to.
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.

Inspired by my Tuesday turn at domesticity, I resolved to cook more. Since I invited my nine-person book club to come over on Sunday, I needed to think about what I was going to make. I went down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest and emerged three hours later with a menu: pork tacos with pineapple, guacamole and chips, and margaritas.

The fourth day is for rest, right? Let's go with that. Between work and school, I was done by the time Thursday night rolled around — so much so that I was actually relieved when I had a legitimate excuse to skip drinks with my coworkers. My fiancé was working late, so I made the tough call to make the night about me. I tried the charcoal face mask I brought back from Japan months ago and, after that, took the longest bath of my life. What else are you gonna do with a just-cleaned tub?

Does going grocery shopping constitute as going out? Probably, but there were no delivery slots available at the online supermarket. This was how, despite my bank account's protestations, I found myself outside the most expensive grocery store in Brooklyn Friday night. I have no excuse other than the fact that buying food is exponentially more fun when it's fancy. I got everything I needed for Sunday night, plus some churro ice-cream sandwiches for dessert.
Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
When I cleaned my apartment Monday, I unearthed mounds of family albums under my bed and decided it was time to find a permanent space for them. I lassoed my fiancé into looking at each and every photo with me until he (a.) had an accurate sense of my family history, (b.) knew exactly how adorable I was as a child, and (c.) fully appreciated the wonders of digital photo storage. This also gave us the perfect chance to select pictures for our wedding's photo display. In: a shot of 5-year-old me driving a toy car while wearing a string of pearls. Out: the goth years.

After reading Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies with my book club, I was very excited to learn HBO was turning it into a show. And because I was able to get a screener of it, I invited everyone over for a previewing party and to gorge on all the tacos, guac, and margaritas they could handle. We feasted, we reminisced, and we did a deep dive into the evolution of Reese Witherspoon's career. Between all the food, the show's seaside visuals, complex female leads, and a heaping dose of intrigue, I was left with one thought: Can I do this again next week?

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