Spend Some Time With Your Pandemic Logbooks

4 min

9 shares, 47 points

Melissa Kirsch

Spend Some Time With Your Pandemic Logbooks

Took Mom for a foliage ride without masks.

Picked up medical supplies for an off-site flu clinic at a retirement community. Very dark, wrong turn, lost and late.

Ate mixed nuts from a white Russel Wright bowl while a neighbor played piano and the dog sang along.

A few weeks ago, thinking about how we’ll talk about this period of our lives many years from now, I suggested that we’ll remember the broad contours of the months, a top-level narration of “how things were,” but we’re likely to lose the small details that make up our days: what we wore, whom we spoke to, what we had for lunch.

We won’t remember the details that texture our hours, the minutiae that capture, in its utter mundanity, what it was like to be alive in this hour, in this life, this home, this body in 2020.

I suggested writing down the facts of your day as a way to remember so when they’re revisited some day in the future, they will offer a close-up picture of your life, unpolished, without editorializing. A low-effort logbook to serve as a detailed record of an extraordinary time.

Many of you sent us your logbook entries, which, taken individually, were perfect specimens of one person’s fleeting experience, quick peeks into a life. When read together, these ordinary moments (“I ate cereal for lunch and only walked about 1,000 feet all day,” “Bought a rake”), while unique to the lives from which they’re captured, share a common context. The pandemic and its effects, seen and unseen, are a filament woven through each of our lives and each of the entries we received. That commonality of setting is rare. We don’t always see so clearly the ways in which we’re connected.

We wanted to give you the experience of flipping through the logbooks of At Home readers, so we gathered a bunch for you to peruse. When I read the entries together, my perspective shifts. My aperture widens. I see more than the squares on my own calendar, the people in my own pod, the pigeons on my sill. I’m connected, for a minute, to you and your new haircut. Your uncle’s funeral. Your yard full of pine needles. Enjoy these excerpts from your pandemic logbooks, and let us know what you think.

Credit…Johnny Milano for The New York Times
  • If you’re considering indoor dining, try to go at an hour when it’s less crowded, and make sure management and your fellow patrons are taking mask-wearing seriously. Pete Wells spoke with experts about the risks to look out for as restaurants reopen.

  • Research over the years has found that the trendy weight loss strategy of intermittent fasting spurs weight loss and improves metabolic health. But a rigorous three-month study published in JAMA Internal Medicine has found that a popular form of intermittent fasting called time-restricted eating, in which an individual fasts for 12 or more hours per day, produced minimal weight loss and one potential downside: muscle loss.

  • Remote learning is turning parents into reluctant helicopters, forced to sit beside their kids to help them log on, unmute, fetch materials and explain tasks. Our reporter asks, “How are young students able to master e-learning without an adult’s constant supervision and help?”

Credit…Christopher Simpson for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.
  • Banchan, the small side dishes that often accompany a Korean meal, can be the main attraction in their own right. Eric Kim has recipes for gochujang-glazed eggplant and two other banchan that he says can share the spotlight with freshly steamed white rice to make a spread fit for royalty.

  • Our Food reporters and editors have selected the 14 best cookbooks of fall 2020. Melissa Clark recommends Meera Sodha’s volume, “East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes From Bangalore to Beijing.” Margaux Laskey loves “Dessert Person” from Claire Saffitz, a pastry chef and a Bon Appétit contributing editor (who’s written for The Times).

  • And if you’ve ever been intimidated or confused when trying to decode a wine label, Eric Asimov is here to help.

  • The German artist Albrecht Dürer was fascinated by one subject above all: himself. Take a close look at one of the earliest self-portraits in Western painting, Dürer’s painting of himself at 28. “Here begins a Renaissance conception of the self that has become so commonplace we don’t even notice it: the self as a subjective individual, the author of one’s own life story,” the critic Jason Farago writes.

  • Join former U.S. Secretary of State (and lifelong theater lover) Hillary Clinton as she reflects on theater’s meaning, its absence, and its future, in a conversation with the theater reporter Michael Paulson on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Eastern.

  • The filmmaker Christopher Nolan is known for playing with narrative structure, military-grade action set pieces and demanding production schedules on films like “Memento,” “Inception” and his latest, “Tenet.” We spoke with Mr. Nolan’s collaborators, past and present, about what it takes to make his visions a reality.

Sign up to receive the At Home newsletter. You can always find much more to read, watch and do every day on At Home. And let us know what you think!


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