Notes & Stories: Short Attention Span

Here’s my goal for this newsletter: Mention coronavirus as little as possible. I’m sure you’re all reading the news, maybe (but probably not) as often as I am, and we all know what’s going on. I’ll try to keep this issue light, distracting, and personal—so I can trick my brain into moving away from its usual heavy, obsessive (I check a lot of maps), and globally-oriented thoughts. Also, I can’t string two thoughts together, which is why this is so bullet-pointy.

My attention span is shot. I haven’t finished a book in two, almost three, weeks. I still watch television, but a 22-minute episode seems too long. Even during Schitt’s Creek, my very favorite show of all time, I end up pausing in the middle to scroll Instagram or check the news. Surprisingly, there are a few series on Hulu (I guess they were YouTube originals?) with ten-minute episodes. I did manage to watch an entire movie last night, but it was a kids’ movie, and I did have to stop twice in the middle to get up and do other things. 

Pockets of joy, quarantine-style: My favorite part of the day comes twice, once in the morning and once in the evening. I wash my face, and I get to touch it as much as I like. I splash water over my whole face, rub cleanser around everywhere, and then spend what feels like ten minutes drying my face with a washcloth—I touch my eyes, my nose, my mouth, every single spot that’s forbidden the rest of the day. At this point nothing feels more indulgent and decadent than unrestrained face-touching. (And then I wash my hands for 20 seconds, to make double-extra-sure that I’m not spreading my face germs everywhere.)

Poppy gave us a YouTube-style challenge last week: eat all foods of one color. She wrote the names of colors on little slips of paper, then folded them and put them in a jar. The colors we had to choose from were orange, yellow, red, green, brown, tan, and white. I was obviously hoping for green (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage) and Poppy was hoping for brown (chocolate, chocolate ice cream).

This was the day before I planned to shop, and there wasn’t much food left in the house, so we decided that each of us would get to draw two colors out of the jar, so make sure we had enough choices of food to eat. I drew orange and white; Poppy drew tan and yellow. Our lunch was pretty good, and as Poppy said, “It makes you eat stuff you normally wouldn’t eat.” 

Orange & white: Yogurt, banana*, mango, oranges, honey. Delicious!
Tan & yellow: Bagel w/butter, banana* w/peanut butter, coconut pudding.

*Note: Yes, we know that bananas counted as white on my plate and yellow on Poppy’s. We’re not hard graders.


One serious article to begin with, because I found it to be helpful, practical, well-researched, and reassuring: Kenji Lopez-Alt on food safety for Serious Eats. He talks about three aspects of food safety—the safety of grocery shopping and cooking for yourself, the safety of takeout and delivery food, and the safety of cooking food for other people. 

TikTok is the ultimate in short-attention-span entertainment. I can’t handle the scroll, but Harper is an expert at curating videos for me. Here are a few that I love:

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