Central Park, NYC

They’re taking down the makeshift hospital in Central Park. Someone put masks on the status of Romeo and Juliet. Masked icons have become a new genre, an emblem appearing on statuary all over the world.

The mood is shifting in New York City. The Chinese takeout spots have pulled up their metal shutters. The florist is open. Bars are serving takeout drinks, and there’s a block party atmosphere along the Avenues as people gather among the corporate art and concrete plazas of the high-rises.

Finished Ling Ma’s Severance this afternoon. Although I’ve had my fill of emotionally-detached narrators from Brooklyn, I admire how she places something that feels like a memoir within a dystopian frame. Her depiction of a pandemic-stricken New York harmonizes with our current moment to an eerie degree, particularly the slow unwinding of normalcy rather than the sudden cataclysm that defines so many other apocalyptic visions. And she writes wonderfully about how we cling to routine while craving disruption: “We hope the damage was bad enough to cancel work the next morning but not so bad that we couldn’t go to brunch instead.”

Each night in 2020 I wrote a short post for a series called Notes From the End of a World because I wanted to etch these times into my memory. Before the world changed completely.
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