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One everyday pair of black jeans makes quarantine more tolerable

While many of us were getting very comfortable (maybe too comfortable) in sweatpants and yoga pants this year, writer Alexander Chee was rediscovering a past sartorial love: black jeans.

Having bought a new pair for the first time in a long time shortly before shutdowns began, he experienced the pants as a kind of homecoming: “[Black jeans] taught me how to move away from home, flirt with strangers in a bar, protest the government, and strike a match one-handed,” he writes on Medium. “There is never a walk of shame in black jeans.”

“Putting on these jeans was never meant…

A West Village story of social distancing and blossoming romance

Photo: Bill Hayes

As everyone’s lives ground to a halt in March, author and photographer Bill Hayes was in Manhattan’s West Village, navigating a new relationship under the strictures of social distancing and wandering the streets, camera in hand, to document the strange effect of the pandemic on his city. What follows are excerpts from his diary, published alongside his photographs in the new book How We Live Now: Scenes from the Pandemic.

I’ve done some dating over the past five years, since my partner Oliver Sacks passed away. I gave it a concerted effort with two guys in particular, both good guys…

I’ll be starting senior year of high school on a bittersweet note

Illustration: Kaia Ross

So much for looking forward to senior year being the time of my life.

I’m sure the last hurrah of high school is much more of an enigma than most people care to admit, but those who’ve already lived through it didn’t also have to deal with the anxiety of a global pandemic, or the extreme isolation that comes with it. I’ll be applying for colleges without the comfort of summer camp, the annual senior night at a theme park, or whatever else is considered a classic high school experience, something I may never see fully for myself.

I’d developed…

Things are bad, but they can get better. Just keep your mask on.

A protestor in Milan, Italy, on June 7, 2020. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Not long ago, it felt as though we were finally willing to break from our old, broken ways. This tone of optimism was immortalized in a video posted online in late April by 26-year-old Tomos Roberts (aka Probably Tom Foolery), who wrote a bedtime story imagining our post-pandemic future. In his four-minute poem, which has tens of millions of views on Facebook and YouTube, Roberts describes the world prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 — our isolating addiction to screens, our destruction of the Earth, and our political resistance to change. But then, as Roberts’ story goes, the virus arrived…


Writers in the Medium universe are getting creative under quarantine

Each week on Medium Rare, I’ll be sharing stories you might have missed that are definitely worth a second look. Got a suggestion for a piece we should feature? Pop it in the responses below!

  • I, very sadly, don’t have a cat. But I will enthusiastically learn how to crochet just so I can make one of these absurd tiny couches my fantasy future cat will one day enjoy.
  • Sarah Cassidy put in the work to plan out your next Zoom call with friends or family. …

Normal life isn’t coming back. To pretend otherwise is deadly.

Patrons wait outside Caffe Dante in New York City on March 19, 2020, days after bars and restaurants were limited to to-go orders by the city. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Getty Images

The few times I’ve gone out to “enjoy” a nonessential service since shelter-in-place began in Chicago, I’ve found it to be an intensely guilt-ridden, hollow experience. Buying a coffee, getting a sandwich, shopping for clothes at Target when I didn’t really need to — I thought these exercises would feel comforting and normal. Instead, they have felt like a perverse mimicry of my old life, a game of pretend played at the expense of workers with a lot less power and security than me.

A week ago, I went to a walk-up window and bought a bubble tea. The shop…

A lifestyle of silence and solitude has helped women of the cloth navigate the Covid-19 lockdown

An illustration of a nun with her hands clasped together in prayer and a coronavirus-shaped halo behind her.
An illustration of a nun with her hands clasped together in prayer and a coronavirus-shaped halo behind her.
Illustration: Daniel Zender

On a rolling, leafy property a few miles outside of Baltimore, more than a dozen women are cloistered inside their home. Confinement is a liberal word for their way of life; they operate within 26 acres of fairy-tale grounds, which include a Tudor house, stone walls, and tulip gardens. They perform all their daily activities here, eat their meals together, and rarely leave. During this pandemic, that’s not so unusual. But when the stay-at-home order eventually lifts in Maryland and everyone huddles nervously in bars and parks, these Carmelite nuns will remain inside, just as their community has since 1790.


Nope, still not okay to slip over to your friends’ place for a barbecue and a few drinks, no matter how gorgeous the weather is

Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

I see you people. I see you sneaking out of quarantine like a teenager breaking out of the bedroom window to go to a party at the moon tower. Word gets around, you know. I got a friend of a friend who threw a dinner party with multiple couples. I got another friend of another friend who’s sleeping around with multiple women he doesn’t live with, right now. I am routinely sympathetic to the eternally horny, but still. One guy I know had a neighbor throw a fucking party the other night. Another couple threw their kid a birthday party…

The little things we’re missing during the pandemic add up to a lot

For weeks now, there has been a lot of pretending going on. I have deployed all kinds of pretending exercises to stop the grief I feel I have no right to have — grief for the loss of so many things. Some will come back: museums, sports, sanity. And some won’t: cherished restaurants, canceled milestones, confusion about who or what is essential.

I pretend a bit when I notice the late afternoon light slanting into my apartment, which I never noticed before, and which now seems to announce itself vehemently, radiating a white, blinding blaze. This living room reverse-eclipse happens…

The sooner we open up the economy, the faster we simply recreate what got us into this mess. It’s time for a radical shift.

Image: Anton Petrus/Getty Images

Everyone wants to know when we’re going to get the economy started up again, and just how many lives we’re willing to surrender before we do. We’ve all been made to understand the dilemma: The sooner we “open up” American and get back to our jobs, the more likely we spread Covid-19, further overwhelming hospitals and killing more people. Yet the longer we wait, the more people will suffer and die in other ways.

I think this is a false choice. Yes, it may be true that every 1% rise in unemployment leads to a corresponding 1% rise in suicides


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