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Sheltering-in-Place: When Mayonnaise Was the Only Reason to Leave the House

By Howard Fishman June 22, 2020 Lifestyle


Could have been the perfect Zen experience. Sitting underneath the shade of a Bodhi tree in perfect lotus position. Floating above the ground in a meditative state. The cool brush of saffron robes against my skin. The tinkling sound of tiny Tibetan finger cymbals calling me to a distant place.

Could have been. Didn’t happen.

Instead, the best I can do during the time of Coronavirus is to sit cross-legged on a LazyBoy. Drooling into a cup. Numbly processing the six hundredth episode of Law & Order, SVU. The one where Liv realizes how deeply she misses Elliot Stabler.

We all miss Elliot Stabler, don’t we?

My chakras cry out for alignment. Anxiety and stress push mindfulness and wellbeing into that quiet place in my brain where I store happy things.

It’s been 14 weeks in isolation; 16 weeks since my house has been professionally cleaned; 20 weeks since my last haircut. If a search party from another planet found me in the rubble, they’d assume I had been raised by wolves.

Never much one for exercise, my noble objective now is to walk 50 steps a day.

A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Indulging myself in a high-minded cultural re-evaluation of the 1970s, I grapple with the big topics. Unsolved mysteries avoided by the greatest minds of the 20th century.

My mind finds peculiar questions to ask, such as: What symbolism prompted Carly Simon to write, “I had some dreams they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee”?

Why did Joni Mitchell write that she was “stoking the star-making machinery behind the popular song” in America, but felt “unfettered and alive” in Paris? Why is Cat Stevens now called Yusuf Islam – yet his greatest hits album is still called Cat Stevens’ Greatest Hits.

What did Madonna mean when she said… well… anything?

When the Intellectual Pursuits Get Boring, Everyday Life Takes Over

Our precious 10-year-old Golden Doodle, Zoey, has cut me down to two walks a day. She no longer tilts her head trying to understand caveman communication. She now prepares her own meals.

Alexa, who once jumped to attention when I requested a three-minute timer for my ritual morning meal of soft-boiled eggs, now audibly sighs when I enter a room. When I question her, she now answers in Swahili.

I know she mocks me.

I worry that the new killer hornet will migrate from Seattle down into the desert where I live. As if scorpions and tarantulas weren’t enough.

And in terms of outside excursions, it’s come down to this: I only leave the house during a severe mayonnaise emergency.

Lost in Space

Like Will Robinson, upon hearing his robot scream, “Danger, Will Robinson”, arms splaying about in frustrated panic, I feel lost in space. Traveling around the universe in search of – hmmm – what were they searching for?

I wonder when the pandemic will end and what it will mean for all of us when it does. I see people in masks and resign myself to the mask as the new must-have luxury accessory. Though when I wear one, I look like I’ve just held up a convenience store.

I wonder. I wonder. I wonder.

What have you turned your mind to in the days of Covid? How do you engage with the world around you? Do you move enough to qualify as exercise? Do you feel settled or lost in space? Please share your thoughts below.

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The Author

Howard Fishman is a writer. An expat from California, now residing in Spain, Howard is focused on a journalistic second career, sharing insights on the expat experience, the culture of aging, meaningful friendships, generational workplace issues, and the arts that best express who we are at fifty plus. His writings can be found at

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