documenting strange times, pt. 1

Hi wonderful people— I hope you are safe and well out there.

Can I ask you a (maybe personal) question? I’m going to assume yes. I’ve been thinking about processing methods a lot lately (because let’s be honest, there’s a shit-ton to process right now), and I’m curious:

How are you processing this moment in time? 

At a foundational level, I think many humans process the world through documentation. We make sense of our conditions by taking stock. This comes in many forms. Some are artistic (writing, photography, sketching, video), while others are quantitative (data collection), social (relaying stories to friends, passing down family folk-lore), or the product of our technological age (Instagram-ming, Tick-tock-ing…is it a verb yet? idk). Sometimes we document to engage in later analysis or share our experiences with the world. Other times, documentation has no external purpose. It is simply a way for us to see ourselves, a silent nod of self-validation.

My default processing (documentation) method has always been writing: journaling, blogging, brain-dumping thoughts on tiny folded up pieces of paper, opening a million one-sentence “Notes” in my iPhone app. And since March, when COVID hoop-la surfaced in California, I’ve been writing like a madwoman. But I’ve also begun to crave creative new ways to document this strange and uncertain time.

One medium I’ve discovered? iPhone screenshots. Without even realizing it, I’ve been “journaling” my COVID shelter-in-place experience through screenshots since early March. Funny, random, heartbreaking, comforting, and poignant. Looking at them as a set now, these screenshots (and their corresponding timestamps) are the mind’s modern-day polaroid: instant snapshots of what I was thinking about, resonating with, or responding to. A record of fleeting moments I wanted to save to see again.

Here they are, below.

Also, if you’re so inclined, please let me know how you’re processing or documenting. (Or, if you’re like one of my best friends, who said “I’ll tell you how I’m processing— I’m NOT”, well, then please tell me how you’re not processing and what you feel. That counts too!) I can’t wait to hear from you!


[March 7] I was monitoring travel restrictions to Israel in anticipation of a spring trip I had planned. A few days later Israel closed its borders to nearly everyone (not just NY, WA, CA). At the time, reading this article was bizarre. I remember thinking “What? How the hell can they even operationalize that?” Now, obviously, the concept of international travel in itself feels bizarre.



[March 9] Still monitoring travel restrictions, I came across this timely PSA from February. I remember laughing and thinking to myself “There’s no way this won’t all be over by Passover [April].” How wrong I was.



[March 10] This note notification popped up randomly on my screen. I was having a rough day. The reminder that we “never know” what good or bad may come our way felt serendipitous. I can tell you confidently that on March 10, I really had no idea.



[March 11] The world felt like it was screeching to a halt this week. Everything was changing so quickly. I spent a lot of time thinking about how COVID might be a dress rehearsal for the end of the world. This quote resonated.



[March 13] FaceTiming took on a whole new meaning this week. I added the term “social-distancing” to my vocabulary. On this call, we were guessing how long the world would be in this state. Even the least optimistic of us (me) guessed we’d be back to normal by summer.



[March 18] My cousin moved from NYC to Portland and bought a Tesla. My grandma emailed us a dual picture of her father at a young age with his car. Things felt connected through time.



[March 27] On Instagram, masses of bored people were posting #rough pictures of themselves, captioned “Until Tomorrow” (they would take down the photo the next day). I joined in with not one, but 15 photos. Why not.



[March 30] FaceTiming with my original Israel gals (minus @Hannah). Earlier this year we were scheming a 2020 reunion for the five of us in NYC. Now it looks like we’ll have to stick to virtual.



[April 3] G-bless my Grandma’s humor. I also love the email subject line. I hope you are all very OK too.



[April 5] There’s been a lot of endless scrolling on social media. This is a post from 2018 I liked on a Costa Rican farm’s page. LESS seems like a good lesson for now.



[April 9] I like looking at the mosaics of photos I’ve saved from other people’s accounts on Instagram. It’s like a living collage. Here there’re photos of yoga, child Holocaust survivors, Bar Rafeli pregnant (future pregnancy fashion goalz), fluffy dogs, and an important reminder: “You don’t have to use this time to ‘improve’ yourself.” Noted.



[April 14] Another good reminder. I believe, at our core, this is what most of us really want.



[April 14] A lot of old emotional baggage bubbles up when you’re stuck at home for weeks on end. Working on self-compassion is not some fluffy-flower-girl thing. It’s tough shit. Here are some resources.



[April 24] This is from a NYT piece titled “When Life Felt Normal: Your Pre-Pandemic Moments.” I must have screenshotted it just because the room looks so peaceful. I miss being in beautiful spaces with other people. Especially yoga studios.





[April 25] I remember seeing this headline and thinking “This is certainly a situation I never thought we’d find ourselves in.” Also, is it just me, or has no one heard anything about the election for like…months?



[April 25] These photos, from a NYT piece titled “Denuded of Tourists, Paris Reveals Its Old Beating Heart”, made me feel quiet, still, hopeful, and peaceful. Some of the world’s most trafficked places are returning to their stewards: their residents.



[April 28] FaceTime fatigue is a real thing. Which is why you need to keep it light and funny sometimes, too.



[April 28] “The virus has collapsed distances.” This quote made me cry. How true, in so many ways.



[May 2] This title made me think about all the accomplishments and celebrations (e.g. graduations) that people are experiencing alone right now. They are “Blooming Lonely” like the trees.


[May 3] From a NYT piece, titled “My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore?”. Heartbreaking words that made me think about the overturn of our economy and precious small businesses. What will the world look like when “she wakes up”?



[May 6] I sent a copy of this print (from the Oakland artist People I’ve Loved) to my best friend for her birthday. It’s titled “Lift Each Other Up.” We all need it right now.



[May 9] As most of the country begins to face optional trade-offs, Silicon Valley is still mostly locked-down…I oscillate between jealousy and gratitude.



[May 9] I needed this validation the other day. I’m a firm believer in sometimes Losing It.



[May 9] Our beloved friend and neighborhood school secretary Anna started this GoFundMe to raise money for children whose parents are unable to provide food for their households. If you are able to, please contribute. All together now.

To be continued…stay tuned…love you all.



  1. Carlos Rosales Navarro · May 10, 2020

    Thank you!! Great reading Carlos

    > El 10 may 2020, a las 2:10, earth to cass escribió: > >  >


  2. Sarah Rashid · May 10, 2020

    Hey Cass!

    I always look forward to your blog posts. You are a good writer. 💜💗 I don’t think I am processing too much at this time…I am more so figuring out how I am going to navigate the world as a soon to be new parent. I have a baby daughter on the way (she was due May 5th) and yeah…just trying to figure out how to keep her safe. I really like your screenshot about having to bloom alone. It’s been difficult not having close friends and my family around to feel her big kicks or too see me very pregnant. Lol. & Just like you…I long for the yoga studio. It’s always been a place of peace for me and my heart goes out to all the yoga teachers we know.


    Liked by 1 person

    • cassidycraford · May 10, 2020

      Dear Sarah!!! Wow. What wonderful news to receive this Mother’s Day morning. I hope you are taking lots of pictures and maybe writing down how you feel at this time. Once she’s older, I think your daughter will want to see/hear all about the strange times she was born into. 🙂 Celebrating you from afar today, and sending you all the best wishes for her peaceful transition into our world.

      (And yes, the yoga studio…absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I ache for all of our beloved teachers…) Love to you.


  3. Gretchen Craford · May 15, 2020

    Wow! You have been busy collecting a lot of screen shots and musing over them. What a journey we are on. I keep finding myself grateful to have our nest full as we move on/forward/back …glad you are recording your impressions as we muddle along.


  4. Pingback: documenting strange times (pt. II) | earth to cass

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