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Sometimes it seems as though time has stopped. We are stuck at home because of the pandemic. We are stuck at home because California is a blaze and the air is thick with smoke. Most restaurants, bars, and shops in our neighborhood are still closed. Yet sometimes February seems a million years ago — so much has happened since then.


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We are all connected. Julie Lindow

The U.S. economy has stopped. The global economy has almost stopped. The United States, as of April 24, 2020, has a 20% unemployment rate which means 26.5 million Americans are out of work. More than 9 million have lost health insurance—in the middle of a pandemic?!?! This short drone footage shows how downtown San Francisco has stopped.

I keep looking for silver linings. I keep looking past the present and into the future, years from now. I try to hold my gaze there.

The numbers are heavy. More than 50,000 people have died in the U.S. About 16,000 have died…


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My sister’s backyard in Oregon. Photo by Janese Lindow Ikola.

Every morning I open our windows and surprisingly sweet air flows into our tiny San Francisco apartment. The birds sing-song back and forth, delighted to have the city’s airwaves to themselves. No planes, few cars. The COVID19 Crisis may be nature’s way of taking back her planet.

In these sad times, farm, restaurant, and delivery workers are our heroes. I first want to thank them and all the health care workers who are putting their lives on the line. Across the country, hospitals are begging for mask donations, storing the dead in ice skating rings, and trying to make one…


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Closed shops and empty sidewalks, Hayes Street, San Francisco, March 21, 2020. Julie Lindow.

Writers always talk about how real life is stranger than fiction — case in point. All the shops in our cute, bustling neighborhood closed early on Monday. Or was that Tuesday? We have lived months in just one week. San Francisco went into lockdown, now California is in lockdown. I have cried several times, long heaving sobs, not out of fear, but for the gravity of the situation, the depth of emotion washing over the world.

My heart goes out to all the doctors, students, and health care workers at the University of California, San Francisco and other Bay Area…


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Well, fiction has become reality. We live inside a sci-fi film. SF is so quiet, so eerie. Store shelves are empty. No toilet paper, no paper towels. Almost all cultural events have been cancelled or postponed. City Arts & Lectures and some other venues are live streaming events. The Roxie movie theater is offering discounted tickets and making audience members sit six feet apart. Our hands are raw from washing. I am amazed by the miracle of soap. I go out only for daily walks and avoid everyone. The dogs look at me and wonder why no one is petting…


Hand-drawn heart with many colors by Christos Maravelis, 2019.
Hand-drawn heart with many colors by Christos Maravelis, 2019.
Heart by Christos Maravelis, 2019.

Many years ago, a mysterious bedfellow, a wild creature of the night, gave me a new perspective on love and loneliness. It was the day after Valentine’s Day. I came home in the morning to find little dots of mud in a circle on my pale blue duvet.

I had spent the previous night at a friend’s apartment. After a night out with college mates, my friend and I would curl up and sleep in each other’s arms — nothing more. It was exactly what I needed at this time in my life because I was working a job and…


The author, Julie Lindow, smelling a rose in Claude Monet’s garden.
The author, Julie Lindow, smelling a rose in Claude Monet’s garden.
The Scent of a Rose. Claude Monet’s garden. Photograph by Mary Brown.

Dear Reader, Before you begin this piece, find a scent, a perfume, a tea, a coffee, some chocolate, a rose from your garden to smell while you read.

Imagine Paris had no smell. No whiff of hot baguette, no aroma of café crème, no hint of musk in your wine, no trace of rose. As you wandered around Paris, it would feel flat, as if it had lost a dimension. This is how my friend Mary experienced the world, and this is why she asked me to travel with her to Paris — to be her nose.

Mary never knew…


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“NYC/PATH Subway Map” by George Garrastegui Jr is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

December is a month of birthdays — Frank Sinatra’s, Jesus Christ’s, and the sun’s. On this particularly cold December day, I ran carefully along a snowy New York sidewalk and down several flights of stairs just in time to hop onto a New York subway train and witness a birthday miracle.

It’s the rush-hour crush of hot bodies. I’m dripping sweat from the sudden switch from snow falling on my face to the steam of the crowd. Everyone is sniffling and coughing into sleeves as the car approaches the next stop. …


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Dining together is one of the most mundane and meaningful of acts, and Thanksgiving is a quintessential example. Thanksgiving is meant to represent gratitude for the peaceful coming together of Native Americans and European immigrants. Sadly, we know that it also represents the deaths of millions of Native Americans who were killed by the European colonizers. This makes Thanksgiving a bittersweet, uniquely American, nonreligious, and strangely inclusive holiday. Throughout US history, new immigrants (whether they felt welcome or not) have celebrated Thanksgiving as a means to become more American and simultaneously, to celebrate their own ancestry. Turkey, mashed potatoes, and…


“Juke Green” by droolcup is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Juke Green” by droolcup is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Juke Green” by droolcup is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Memories of New York in autumn run through my head, flashes of light fold time, origami stars. The darkness of the cemetery lies naked next to the candy-orange glow of the wind-up flats. Of course it would be the sun’s brightest glimmer that reveals the darkest depths of our eyes. Then we are there like Rothko’s lights of painting, next to Turrell’s paintings of light. Rothko’s paintings that either come crashing heavily upon us or push us to the edge, vertigo, falling. We stood as if before ancient church windows where the views move in a million gauzy layers from…

Julie Lindow

Writer and editor in San Francisco uncovering mysteries in cities and other creative nonfiction adventures https://julielindow.wordpress.com/

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