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Sandra Tsing Loh
December 19, 2020

10 Things I Can't Live Without

Sandra Tsing Loh's Quarantine Essentials

I lay it across my chest at night while I lie in Savasana (corpse pose) (counts as yoga) while reviewing all the things wrong in the world and how woefully short I am falling in solving them.

  1. My Osaki 2000 Massage Chair from Costco.  (“On sale” at $1999, this was a major purchase, akin to one and a half units of college tuition).  However, in the years since, though every single person in my family (down to 10 years old) has roundly mocked me, all have climbed into it, sometimes falling asleep in it.  When I drop into the clam shell and its labial folds enclose me, I return to the womb.
  2. My Hypervolt—aka: hand-held “gun” robo-massager. (On sale from Equinox at $299).  Are you sensing a theme here?  You can grind this thing into your right butt cheek or wherever exactly you want it.  In bed at night, our reading glasses knocking into each other, my partner and I fight over my Hypervolt.  It’s obviously a very sexy middle-aged scene.  Soon to be a hot new HBO series.
  3. Carbs.  That’s what’s happened in the pandemic—stress carbs.  Sourdough baguettes that have been impulsively purchased at the grocery store “for other people,” buttered (because, Keto-style, the fat “erases” the carbs), while standing over the sink and vigorously tearing pieces off (counts as cardio).
  4. My fat GODDESS pants.  Elastic waistband, one size fits all, handmade in Nepal, enough billowy fabric to sail a small ship, in fabulous colors: Midnight Purple, Turquoise Isles, Emerald Green, Magical Magenta, Fire Engine Red.  Paired with matching mask to go to our newly cautiously-opened farmer’s market, for a brief fleeting hour one can feel less in a several-months-long pandemic than in a summer seralgio (and that’s just my male partner—they’re unisex).
  5. Mayron’s Goods charcoal soap.  Instead of a vacation, beach trip, or even a spa visit, there is my bathtub.  I luxuriate my exquisite and expansive goddessness in the bath (exulting in the eco-friendly fact that it needs less water to fill than before), and I slather myself COVID-safely with heaven-scented Mayron’s Goods.  They’re handcrafted by Melanie Mayron (Melissa on thirtysomething) and her ingenious scientist father.  Try: you deserve the love.
  6. Alcohol.  Confession: this pandemic has not been Sober January.  Although thank God we’re done pouring together—on ice—all the dusty mystery liqueur bottles (gifted how many years ago?) (pair with Advil) languishing in our cupboard.  A clean bottle of rose (any time of day) always cheers, particularly on a Wednesday (why are Wednesdays so challenging?).  Promise to turn over a new leaf (not to mention all those carbs! bad carbs!) when this all is over.
  7. Online Mahjong Solitaire (free).  Forget Tetris, Spider Solitaire, the Jewel game.  I discovered Mahjong Solitaire on a flight leaving Newark in February, just before the COVID gates came down.  Because I’m afraid to fly and will literally do anything to pass the time (including doing Easy Sudokus in airline magazines in pencil, erasing them, and then doing them again) I said, “Oh what the hell, I’ll try this,” and I kid you not, before I knew it (with admittedly a somewhat sickening feeling due to gradual hand and eye strain) we were landing in Los Angeles.  The rules of Mahjong Solitaire are impossible to explain in English (or perhaps really any language)—it’s like riding a horse, you just have to start doing it.  The pleasant lute-strummy music and satisfying “click” of the tiles make it especially addictive.  Indeed, just typing that sentence makes me wish I were playing it right now.  It’s the one can’t-stop-doing thing in my daily life besides eating carbs and drinking rose—which, as I like to say, makes it very healthy, indeed COUNTS AS CARDIO.  (Particularly when slamming laptop quickly shut when family member who-was-told-to-be-quiet-because-Sandra-is-“writing” pads quietly into the room.)
  8. Extra pillow.  I do not have the body pillow of my dreams yet, but in the meantime, I have a spare pillow in a heavy fabric case.  I lay it across my chest at night while I lie in Savasana (corpse pose) (counts as yoga) while reviewing all the things wrong in the world and how woefully short I am falling in solving them.
  9. Comfort viewing: The Best Magnolia Hotel movies, The Great British Baking Show, etc.  Because within the past few months, due to the angst and stress and unknowingness of everything, at times my resting heart rate has reached 115 (even on lavendar chamomile herbal tea!), all my viewing is X-treme comfort viewing.  I watch Gracie and Frankie for the soft pashmina sweaters.  I wailed upon learning the Best Magnolia Hotel series only has two entries (my serotonin levels drop when I see Dame Judi Densch walking pertly down the street in HER fluttering goddess wear).  I was hooked on The Great British Baking Show until I became too anxious regardless the collapsing fondants.  “It’s like I need a channel that is only the Snuggles Bear channel, or maybe just The Teletubbies!” I told a friend.  He parried by suggesting this new channel exclusively made to calm dogs down—DOGTV.  Try it.  You’re welcome.
  10. My Roomba.  Guilt-free vaccuuming.  As I sit in my goddess pants.  In massage chair.  With my rose.  Watching DOGTV.  Need I say more?


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Sandra Tsing Loh is a performer and author of six books, including The Madwoman in the Volvo, which was named one of 2015's Most Notable books New York Times.

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