A Day in the Life: “Social Distancing in Barcelona” Edition

April 7, 2020

You know that feeling?

The feeling you might have in the ten or so seconds when you first wake up in the morning…

And you know there’s something horrible going on. BUT YOU CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT IT IS YET.

Your heart starts pounding as your sleep-fogged brain starts up. Your body knows there’s something wrong. You’re in fight or flight even as you clutch your blankie to your chest.

What is it? What’s happened?

Oh yeah.

Now I remember. We’re all gonna die of some virus. And in the meantime, we’re sitting at home, pretending like watching Netflix is heroic behavior.

Welcome to…

Social distancing lifestyles

It’s been quite a time here in Barcelona.

As I write this, we’re in week 4 of lockdown, and there’s no real end in sight.

Better days in India, half a lifetime ago.

Apparently, the government is studying how to get people back to work – and hopefully devising a system in which people can take a walk now and then – but for now, social distancing is the order of the day.

And I mean really social distancing: no leaving the house unless it’s to buy food, go to an essential job, or go to the doctor. Bars and restaurants closed.

(“Every bar in Spain closed” would normally be the setup for a really bad joke, I guess. But now it’s just our lives.)

Anyway, let’s look at a day in the life…



That feeling, etc.

I could try to get back to sleep, but it probably wouldn’t work.

So I might as well get up and do something.

As I reheat some of yesterday’s coffee, I contemplate the options.

I could meditate. Or read something edifying. Or start working on that novel.

Or – hear me out on this one – I could lie back down on the couch and look at butts on Instagram.

Hmmm… that’s a tough one.

I decide to look at butts.


Morena’s alarm goes off.

Several minutes later she shuffles to the bathroom. Several minutes after that, she shuffles back to bed, where she’ll be working all morning.

Zooming, or whatever they call it these days.

I waste time in embarrassing and unspeakable ways, until it’s about 10 in the morning, and I completely hate myself.

Finally, I open up my serious blog and start fiddling around with the SEO on some old articles.

That’s a waste of time I at least can tell myself is “sorta work”.


The sun’s out today, so it’s time to move this whole operation out to the balcony. We have about 3 hours of direct sun every morning, which ends when the sun goes behind the buildings a bit before lunch.

I do SEO on the balcony for a while.

But actually, speaking of lunch, I should probably go out and buy a few things.

I’m avoiding the supermarket, but the regular market is just a block away.

This lockdown is the first time I’ve thought that people in the suburbs might have the right idea. I see them on Facebook, lounging on driveways with a bigger footprint than my whole house, social distancing in enormous yards.

On the other hand, I can still wander down the street for 2 minutes and buy all the organic vegetables I want. The meat I buy comes from the hills outside of town, and it’s better than anything they can get back home.

No egg shortage here. My chicken lady is wearing a mask and gloves. Like most other people.

It turns out that Spanish people understood personal space this whole time, they were just ignoring it.

Before, we’d ignore each other to the point of blocking people’s way and bumping into each other.

Now we make it a point to give everyone 2 meters – still, of course, ignoring everyone else.

The supermarket has a line stretching two blocks, with 2 meters between shoppers. But, of course, the regular market is almost empty.


Okay, I’m back at the house. I’ve got protein for a couple of days.

I’ve also stopped by the wine place. My wine guy seems annoyed. But hey… seems the government won’t let anyone be evicted from their home or business for the next few months. So my wine supply is safe. And I’m supporting small business.

Actually, almost every dollar (euro) I’m spending these days goes to small business. Either at the market, or at the little immigrant-owned shops down the street.

Maybe, in reality, it’s my aversion to standing in line… but why would I give my money to some German supermarket chain right now when there’s someone right down the street who’s probably in a really bad situation and could use the money?

In fact, I’m suspicious of all the people saying “When this is over, we need to start supporting small businesses.”


True story: there’s probably someone living close to you who’s just trying to make a decent living, working their asses off, not being a huge corporation, paying way more taxes than you’d believe, and doing great things for the community.

And you’re going to fucking McDonalds.

Fuck you.



Oh no, I’d almost forgot.

It’s time to check El País for the latest virus statistics. They’re released every day at half past eleven, and here I am ranting about supporting local businesses.

Today’s deaths: 743. Total deaths: 13,798. Total confirmed cases: 140,510.

Spain is among the hardest-hit countries. At least for now.

And of course, these numbers are largely bullshit. But they at least appear to be going in the right direction. The curve seems to be flattening.

Check out the numbers on El País if you want. They’re updated daily.

In any case, checking out death statistics is a new thing in my morning routine. And something I never expected would be there.

I’ve never spent so much time looking at logarithmic charts.

Or clapping.


I’m doing a new video every day during this bullshit lockdown.

So today, I make one.

Doing something every day is an excellent heuristic, because it means you don’t have to decide whether or not you’re doing it today.

Here’s how it works: you’re doing it every day. Today is one of those days. So do it.

I make the video. I edit it. I upload it to YouTube. People in faraway places watch it. I’ve done something for humanity today. Even if it’s only teaching people how to use the word “along”… I’ve done something.


Time to work out.

Remember what I said about the useful heuristic of “I do this every day”? Well guess what… I’m doing a bodyweight workout every day, even if it’s not super intense.

Pushups, squats, table-top bridges. A bit of stretching in the evenings, usually.

Gotta do something. Plus, being tired helps me with the whole “staying inside” thing.


Lunch time.

At least this whole thing has me cooking again.

A month ago, I was going out for meals at least 4 or 5 times a week. Now I’m at home. Cooking. And actually it isn’t that bad.

My whole theory of cooking is…

  1. Start with animal protein.
  2. Add fat.
  3. Salt until it tastes good.
  4. Tell anyone who tries to warn me about cholesterol to fuck off.

And predictably, today’s meal turns out great. It’s a chicken ramen, made in pig’s foot broth, with just a bit of kale and garlic.

I make the best ramen.

(The key is in the pig feet.)


Watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Andy Samberg is a true American hero. Not only did he do Dick in a Box, he also has a TV series in which he’s a hilarious cop in New York.

Although technically, my favorite character on the series is Captain Holt, who’s a total badass / grammar nerd, with a deep sexy voice and impeccable work ethic.

Obviously, I can relate.


Speaking of work ethic…

It’s nap time.

I’m self-employed, and I’ve been working at home for almost 5 years now. So if I feel like taking a nap, I can get away with it.

I take the mind-numbingly boring biography of Stonewall Jackson to bed with me. Morena moves to the living room to finish her workday on the sofa.

Except for what I learned in high school, I know very little about the American Civil War. And the bio of ol’ Stonewall, while boring, has a lot of details I’d never considered.

In summary, imagine a bunch of devout Christians with dysentery, occasionally gnawing on some rotting salt pork, and marching through hip-deep mud. Occasionally stopping to fire muskets at each other.

It sounds ugly, smelly and cold.

However, as I said, most of the info is just mind-numbing. Who telegraphed what to whom. How far was marched by how many men. It’s perfect nap time reading.

Soon, I’m out cold.


Up again.

Time for yoga with Morena.

I haven’t seriously attempted stretching in several years. So obviously, I can barely touch my toes these days.

But it’s a good practice. I actually feel lighter afterwards. Younger.

At the end of the yoga sesh, we meditate for a few minutes.

Sitting crosslegged on the living room rug, I remind myself of the timeless words of Naval Ravikant.


We’re all just monkeys on a tiny spinning rock. The universe is ten billion years old, and will be around for billions of years more. Your existence, my existence, is just infinitesimal… like a firefly blinking once in the night.

Naval, in Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans. Read the full quote here.

I don’t know about you, but I’m comforted by the fact of my own insignificance.


Almost time for clapping.

It’s still a high point of the day.

And I’m on a first-name basis with several neighbors now. People with balconies across the street. When the weather is good, we stand in the sun and chat with (what were recently) strangers.

Today, the neighbor across the street puts on a couple of songs before the clapping, which he times to end just as the applause ends across the street.

And there we all are, applauding the healthcare workers who are putting their asses on the line to crush this pandemic once and for all.

I’d like to think that when this is all over, something will have changed.

That we’ll all come to our senses, that politicians will step up and pay the people who matter most the sorts of wages they deserve.

But honestly, I doubt it.

The folks in parliament will probably bail out a couple of airlines and hotel chains, pat themselves on the back and then go on vacation.

But hey. I’m willing to be proved wrong.


Morena’s cooking, again.

Dinner is spaghetti with chicken and chorizo. Once again, not bad at all.

If I gain 15 pounds in quarantine, I’m fine with that. I’m intending to walk 20km a day as soon as they let us outside again.

While Morena cooks, I draw silly cartoon animals.

nine inch snail goes on a date

Some of my animals say smart things.

Stoic Sheep quotes Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. Pedantic Panda actually explains snail reproduction.

Nine Inch Snail, though, just quotes Reznor… for now.


Eating. Watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Drinking reasonably-priced wine.

Except for the part where we can’t leave the house, this isn’t all that bad. Morena and I are both able to work from home. We’re eating well.

We’ve still got a dozen rolls of toilet paper.

Anyone who’s ever opened a history book, or listened to Jocko Podcast, or Hardcore History, knows…

It could be so much worse.

Here’s hoping it doesn’t get there.

Anyway, I’ll be in bed soon. And tomorrow, we’ll do this whole thing again.

Stay strong, y’all.


Mr Chorizo.

P.S. If you have a small business that could use some free publicity at this time, let me know. We’ll see if there’s something I can do to help. Here’s the contact form. Thanks… and keep it real.

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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