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Welcome. It’s Blursday again, as a tweet that recently popped up in my timeline observed. Weeks are watery, each day a puddle seeping into the next. I started writing this newsletter on a Blursday in August 2020, just about a year ago. Then, as now, a lot seemed hazy, subject to speculation. Then, as now, I looked for solid things to give the days definition.
A tiny routine I’ve been trying out: Each night before bed, I ask myself the reader-recommended question “How are you today?” Sometimes I write down the response, other times I just contemplate it while brushing my teeth, a two-minute meditation. Today I am hopeful. Today I am nervous or today I am numb. Last night, the feeling was hard to articulate: tightness; a high-pressure-cabin feeling; a balloon, filled to capacity, about to pop.
Here’s how some readers answered the question over the past week (responses have been edited for clarity and length):
“How am I? I’m really not sure. Some days I’m depressed, some days I’m not. I have never unmasked and am fully vaccinated, but right now I’m on a self-imposed lockdown, as much as I can be — except for groceries. I went back to volunteering at a local hospital for one brief week and then stopped because Delta was making itself famous. Back to streaming church, too. I felt comfortable in my Covid-19 routine, but I don’t with Delta. I don’t want to be a breakthrough case. I don’t trust folks, am mad with some local schools for not mandating masks and am fearing for my grandchildren. I feel more vulnerable than ever.” —Lynne Nicholson, Birmingham, Ala.
“My husband died last Wednesday. He had liver cancer, and was 74 years old. I am 62. We were married 35 years, but we were engaged five years before we married. Today I feel relaxed, because he had a quiet death, and my son and I were next to him the last two weeks. I loved him, but he was suffering. I was singing and talking to him about the path to go away.” —Soraya Grajales, Cali, Colombia
“Today I am feeling crushed and grateful together. I am feeling crushed because I have pneumonia and needed to do the responsible thing and cancel our going-away party. (We are moving from Maine to Alaska.) I am feeling grateful because I do not have Covid, and I have a caring community that wanted to toast us but feels respected by our decision. The Covid world is confusing.” —Alix Laferriere, Kittery Point, Maine
“I am OK, in this midsummer moment, but beyond that, who knows? I think about my planned return to in-person teaching in under a month, which makes me nervous but defiant, determined. I’ve let go of assumptions, but hold on to hope. —Laura Hurwitz, Hamden, Conn.
“I’m great. Today I turned 70. I wasn’t always sure I’d make it that far with a chronic lung disease and parents who died before their time. That’s reason enough. Today I bought a car, mailed out a watercolor I didn’t think anyone would buy (but they did!), opened birthday cards and will soon have a wonderful dinner with a great bottle of wine and the guy I’ve loved for 25 years. If I’ve learned anything in this past year, it is that life is fragile and anything could happen. We owe it to ourselves to live every day with as much joy and gratitude as possible — even the tough ones. There will always be tough ones, but today I’m having a great day.” —Jeanie Croope, Lansing, Mich.
“Like I Used To” by Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen is the song I’ve listened to more than any other this summer. In a rare occurrence, the comments on the YouTube video are delightful. (A sample: “I’m gonna get married AND divorced to this song and then let it haunt me for the rest of my life.”) Put it on repeat.
Take a look at the “iconic and controversial” Best Products catalog showrooms completed in the 1970s and ’80s by James Wines’s architecture firm, Sculpture in the Environment (SITE). “Wines’ friends and contemporaries — especially in the art world — envied his freedom to create works that, in their exploration of decay, neglect, and artificiality, so obviously critiqued the throwaway nature of American consumer culture, the source of his clients’ business success.”
The Chrome extension Earth View from Google Earth is an old favorite of mine, a constant source of joy. It presents you with a new image from Google Earth every time you open a new tab.
How do you give your time structure? What routines or practices help you keep each day from blurring one into the next? Tell us: email@example.com. Include your full name and location and we might feature your response in a future newsletter. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more ideas for leading a full and cultured life, whether you’re at home or away, appear below. I’ll see you on Friday.