Claire Manship belted songs out the window. Ketaki Chowkhani began barking at a stray puppy. Blake Mitchell performed in drag.
As millions of people grapple with isolation in a pandemic, those who live alone face a particular kind of solitude.
More people live alone now than at any other time in history, a seismic shift from even a half-century ago, and one fueled largely by women’s economic rise.
Being alone and being lonely are not the same thing, of course, and many people who live by themselves spend little time alone.
Until, perhaps, a pandemic hits.
Weeks or months into the stay-at-home orders worldwide, we wanted to know how solo dwellers were faring. What were they doing to keep themselves occupied? What did they most long for? What did they feel liberated to live without?
More than 2,000 readers shared their stories and their photos. Here are some of them.
Jessica Bennett, Daniel Jones and Anya Strzemien
It’s a relief or a nightmare, irritating and liberating, and already, for many, interminable. This is living alone in a pandemic.
Take a break from news.
The 24-hour news cycle can make anxiety spike. Give yourself a limit. Stick with what you need to know and what’s happening in your community.
Change your mindset.
Avoid thinking too much about the future or worst-case scenarios. Forecasting can trigger anxiety. Instead of saying, “I’ll never recover,” tell yourself, “I’ll make it through this.”
Because of the colossal impact that the coronavirus outbreak has had on the U.S. economy, less than half of Los Angeles County residents — 45% compared with 61% in mid-March — still hold a job, a decline of 16 percentage points, or an estimated 1.3 million jobs, according to findings from a national survey released Friday.
Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2020
Less than half of L.A. County residents still have jobs amid coronavirus crisis
“One of the keys to becoming more resilient is to practice compassion both toward ourselves as well as toward others,” Ms. Marston said. “One of the keys to doing so is to interrupt recurring cycles of negative inner dialogue.”
When we find ourselves cycling through negative thoughts that don’t go anywhere, it’s important to take a step back to disrupt the cycle of anxiety, Ms. Marston said. “This can include stopping and focusing on our breath rather than on our thoughts, changing our physical environment to help create distance from our initial mental space, or having a conversation with someone we trust to get a fresh perspective.
Dr. Sarah Kate McGowan, an assistant clinical professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggested coming up with coping statements to help you get through dark moments. This might be something like, “I can take this one day at a time” or “This is frightening, and I can handle it.” You can even write these statements on index cards to refer to when you find yourself back in the negativity loop, she said.”
Kristin Wong, NY TIMES
How to Stay Optimistic When Everything Seems Wrong
Brown is a 33-year film veteran. He has seen many ups and downs in the industry, from the Writers Guild strike in 2007 to 2008 to the global financial crisis to natural disasters. This one is different. “Our income currently is zero dollars with no end in sight. It’s frightening,” he told CNN Business, “I am going to deplete all my savings.”
Brown is a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which represents roughly 145,000 entertainment workers working behind the scenes. In March, IATSE announced that more than 90% of its members are out of a job due to the pandemic — that’s roughly 120,000 craftspeople, technicians, and artisans.
Anna-Maja Rappard, CNN Business.
Hollywood Has Gone Dark, And It’s Crushing Thousands
Tacoma Quarantined from Mick Flaaen on Vimeo.
In less than two decades, the share of income paid out in wages and benefits in the private sector shrank by 5.4 percentage points, a McKinsey Global Institute study found last year, reducing compensation on average by $3,000 a year, adjusted for inflation.
The result is that a job — once the guarantor of income security — no longer reliably plays that role.
“For many working families, wage growth has not been strong enough to allow them to meet their basic needs on their own,” the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston concluded in a report last year.
“Straggling In A Good Economy, And Now Struggling In A Crisis”
The coronavirus pandemic has brought big changes in how Americans work.
Some are fortunate to work from home, while others, including health care workers and delivery drivers, still have to go out in public.
Both women are also supporting children at home.
Humphreys, a single mother who is caring for her son and niece, says she is trying to save money by limiting the use of air conditioning, even though the temperatures in Austin have been in the mid-90s.
She’s also trying to hold off on grocery shopping.
“I started going through my freezer, we are eating everything that’s in the freezer before I have to buy groceries again,” she says. “I’m trying to go through all the canned foods.”
She will lose her health insurance next month, so her son’s father will put her son on his insurance. But for herself, things are uncertain. A survivor of thyroid cancer, Humphreys says she “can’t be without medication.”
“What I tried to do was refill all of my medications for 90 days for now,” she says. “I at least have that for now.”
Lee says she is barely getting by. She has three children and her husband was recently laid off from his job as a trucker. She says he’s receiving unemployment benefits, but combined with her income, that’s “barely” enough to support everyone.
“American Workers Confront Range Of Challenges During The Coronavirus Pandemic”. April 2020. Wbur.Org.
In an isolation room, the doctors put him on an IV drip, did a chest X-ray and took the swabs.
Now back at work remotely, he faces a mounting array of bills. His patient responsibility, according to his insurer, is now close to $2,000, and he fears there may be more bills to come.
By Elisabeth Rosenthal and Emmarie Huetteman
Ms. Rosenthal is editor in chief of Kaiser Health News, where Ms. Huetteman is a correspondent.
What do you want Instacart customers to know right now?
They need to understand where their groceries are actually coming from: the same stores that they would shop at. They’re being delivered in people’s personal cars. Shoppers are not paid an hourly wage. We’re paid a flat rate. Tips are very important. We’re considered independent contractors, but many states have already found that to be a misclassification. And I’d like customers to know that we’re doing the best we can. We’re trying to keep us safe, and we’re trying to keep them safe. We’re trying to save our families. We shouldn’t have to rely on tips in order to make it worth it. We should be paid fairly with tips on top of that, but we’re not, and that’s the reality.
Aaron Mak interviewing Heidi Carrico
What it’s like to lay off nearly 300 employees—and rethink unchecked capitalism
Now New York is facing another unthinkable catastrophe — this time, along with the entire world — and the restaurant industry is threatened as never before. Last week, Danny Meyer, Colicchio’s one-time partner, shut down all 19 of his storied establishments, laying off 2,000 people — some 80% of his workforce. Thomas Keller furloughed 1,200. And Colicchio has done the same, laying off all but a few of his 300 employees.
Recognizing an existential crisis for his industry — with many other sectors of the economy sure to follow — Colicchio has turned his attention to defending independent restaurants and their 11 million employees around the country from total devastation.
Aaron Gell talking with Tom Colicchio, March 27 2020
Today a different global calamity has made scarcity the necessary condition of humanity’s survival. Cafes along the Navigli in Milan hunker behind shutters along with the Milanese who used to sip aperos beside the canal. Times Square is a ghost town, as are the City of London and the Place de la Concorde in Paris during what used to be the morning rush.
The photographs here all tell a similar story: a temple in Indonesia; Haneda Airport in Tokyo; the Americana Diner in New Jersey. Emptiness proliferates like the virus.
The Times recently sent dozens of photographers out to capture images of once-bustling public plazas, beaches, fairgrounds, restaurants, movie theaters, tourist meccas and train stations. Public spaces, as we think of them today, trace their origins back at least to the agoras of ancient Greece. Hard to translate, the word “agora” in Homer suggested “gathering.” Eventually it came to imply the square or open space at the center of a town or city, the place without which Greeks did not really regard a town or city as a town or city at all, but only as an assortment of houses and shrines.