Welcome. I like to get up while it’s dark, before anyone else has begun to stir, walking through the apartment on tiptoe with the world on mute. I fix my coffee in the dark and wake up slowly. There are fewer variables, minimal stimuli. At 5 a.m., New York’s famed sleeplessness is repudiated.
This morning, I used the time to sit and think. I tried to remember the early morning on this date 19 years ago, but found many details were lost. That day, in my memory, begins at 8:50 a.m., when I left the house for work. My recollection is limited to the broad strokes of the narrative I’ve retold over the years: I went here, I saw this, I felt this. I know I bought dried figs on the walk home, but only because I’ve recounted that one detail so many times.
If only I’d kept a log book then. I learned about the log book from the artist Austin Kleon, who recommends keeping “a calendar of past events,” a notebook where you record the ordinary facts of the day. It’s a very simple form of commonplacing, of setting aside information for your future self. I love the simplicity of this practice, how it’s distinct from a diary, which to me implies commitment and complete sentences. As Mr. Kleon writes:
Keeping a simple list of who/what/where means I write down events that seem mundane at the time, but later on help paint a better portrait of the day, or even become more significant over time. By “sticking to the facts” I don’t prejudge what was important or what wasn’t, I just write it down.
The log book excites me because its simple lists of small details might, when I reread them someday, unlock troves of memory. If I jot down that on Sept. 11, 2020 I bought oat milk from the deli on the corner, then perhaps, decades from now, that shorthand will remind me of the $5 bunches of hyacinths I bought every spring at that deli, how I once saw a handwritten sign taped to the shelf there that said “PLEASE STOP BITING THE BREAD,” that I used to go there late at night and chat with the owner through masks, that I once saw a famous musician there in his pajamas and slippers. I’ll be able to access the particulars of this period and not just the synopsis of a year in quarantine.
What would you write in your log book today? What bit of info will you jot down that you would otherwise forget? Write to us: email@example.com. Include your first and last name, age and city. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. And thank you for sending your favorite cover songs; I’m listening to and loving so many of them and will share them next week. As always, more ideas for living an agreeable life at home and near it this weekend appear below.
How to pass the time
In the latest installment of “Diary of a Song,” the host Joe Coscarelli goes deep on Sam Hunt’s country radio No. 1, “Hard to Forget.” The song samples Webb Pierce’s “There Stands the Glass,” a fixture of the Grand Ole Opry from 1953, as well as 808 drums borrowed from rap.
New York Fashion Week this year will consist of “digital activations,” which, in most cases, means live shows will be replaced by videos, online lookbooks or a combination of the two. In Europe, some cities are still committed to holding in-person shows, despite travel advisories. We break it all down for you in our opinionated guide to Fashion Month.
Suzanne Vega’s new live album, “An Evening of New York Songs and Stories,” is due out today. Have a look at her 10 cultural must-haves, which include William James’s “The Varieties of Religious Experience” and Revlon “Cherries in the Snow” lipstick.
What to watch
“I think that being a provocateur, in the good sense, means to challenge the status quo,” says the “Call Me by Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino, who has a new series coming to HBO next week. The show, “We Are Who We Are,” follows a group of teens who are exploring their gender and sexual identity. Guadagnino was inspired by the teenagers whom he worked with, relying on them as creative forces.
If you’re in the mood for a political documentary this weekend, consider “Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President,” a musical chronicle of Carter’s campaign, presidency and beyond. And Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, was a producer on “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” which interweaves the history of disenfranchisement in the United States with her own story.
And if you’re in the mood to stream something but you can’t decide what to watch, check out our selections for the best movies on Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. There’s sure to be something on our lists that strikes your fancy.
How to deal
Now that many people are at home for much of the week, the concept of “time off” has lost some of its meaning. For some, every day looks like a weekday, replete with chores and looking after children. For others, it’s an endless weekend, free of Sunday scaries and early-morning commutes.
People who have acquired dogs during the pandemic are taking their new pooches with them when they travel. “Corona puppies” are joining their owners on road trips, staying with them in Airbnbs and snuggling into sleeping bags with them at campsites around the country.
And we visited stores around the country and spoke with the people waiting in long lines to enter them. Have a look.