June 7, 2020

Hope

We’re still living through a season that requires the suspension of disbelief, but perhaps it’s possible to believe we’re heading somewhere better.

June 5, 2020

Presence

Tonight I came across Tolstoy’s three questions, and they feel especially pressing in these overloaded and disorienting days.

June 3, 2020

Alert

The silence was stunning. It had presence and weight that nearly muted the birds and the steady beat of three choppers in the sky.

June 2, 2020

Curfew

I say hello to an old man with a power drill and a bucket of screws. Everything’s coming so fast and ugly this year.

June 1, 2020

Desecration

A news anchor said, “We are descending into something that is not the United States of America tonight.” I’m not sure if this is true.

May 30, 2020

Dissonance

The presence of the police introduces the prospect of violence like a promise, and that promise came true by nightfall.

May 28, 2020

Haze

When I flipped on the news around midnight, my concerns about running, writing, teaching, and everything else felt stupid and indulgent.

May 27, 2020

Accretion

The amount of incense smoke that darkens a temple’s ceiling demonstrates the popularity of that particular god.

May 26, 2020

Market

I’m fantasizing about a sprawling network of night markets and bazaars that reclaim the streets and devour the cars.

May 24, 2020

Bell

Riffling through my small box of family memories, I came across a note written in an unfamiliar hand.

May 23, 2020

Recursion

Thinking about the blurry line between media consumption and my soul.

May 22, 2020

Time

Time is a concept. Time is a flat circle. Clocks only measure other clocks.

May 21, 2020

Babble

Each morning I wake to the imaginary babble of fully-formed news reports and television clips while skating across sleep.

May 20, 2020

Cracks

I write and work. I step outside and look at the sky. Sometimes I go for an ugly run. I make phone calls. I tend this journal. Repeat.

May 19, 2020

Dark

I remember watching the darkness in my bedroom when I was small, hypnotized by grey-pink flecks while I waited for sleep.

May 18, 2020

Weird

Maybe we’ll have a vaccine soon. Maybe the president will poison himself. Things can go either way these days.

May 16, 2020

Symbols

We might remember crouching on the sidewalk, frantically trying to gather the teeth falling from our mouths—not the circumstances that led us there.

May 15, 2020

Grass

We spent a few hours in the park because it’s almost possible to forget this pandemic while hiding in the grass beneath a tree.

May 13, 2020

Remember

I’m writing these things down tonight because I want to look back in a few months and see if any of these dire predictions came true.

May 12, 2020

Scramble

Someone down the hall has been practicing “New York, New York” on their piano for the past hour.

May 11, 2020

Next

The triggers for fear are largely universal: loud noises, fast-moving objects, and the sudden loss of orientation. The loss of orientation has been sudden this year.

May 10, 2020

Seeds

I find solace in these instructions from Epictetus: do not say something is lost, only that it is returned.

May 9, 2020

Season

Time feels like an increasingly fictional concept as these weeks and months bleed into one very long day.

May 8, 2020

Opera

“I will create a world from the past,” she said, and she painted an audience on the walls and danced for them every Saturday night.

May 6, 2020

Horizon

It’s becoming a nightly habit: scrolling through desert scenery while fantasizing about horizons, speed, and possibilities.

May 5, 2020

Options

People keep talking about a return to “normal,” as if there’s such a thing.

May 3, 2020

Scold

There are advertisements on street corners and bus stops for events that will never occur.

May 2, 2020

Saturday

I wonder if I’ll ever get accustomed to the uneasy combination of sunshine and masks, as if we’re afraid of a perfect spring day.

May 1, 2020

Headlights

You can never see further than your headlights—an old slice of trucker philosophy that makes more sense with each passing year.

April 30, 2020

Outline

I’m beginning to understand why so many novels and television shows are set in the past.

April 29, 2020

Compound

Night walk to the corner bodega and I nearly forgot to wear my bandana.

April 28, 2020

Smile

The smile is the expression that can be seen from farthest away.

April 27, 2020

Diner

Tonight I miss sitting in diners and listening to people murmur and jive, scraping their forks and stirring their coffee.

April 26, 2020

Glum

Maybe I should work on my resume. Instead, I press on with reading The Plague, dropping the book every few pages to marvel at its resonance.

April 25, 2020

Avalanche

Strange how something you’ve heard a thousand times can suddenly knock you over.

April 24, 2020

Drain

Sometimes there’s poetry in anger, and I saw it scrawled across the street this afternoon.

April 23, 2020

Ruins

Flipping through an old notebook last night, I came across a page dedicated to the first time I saw a painting by Hubert Robert.

April 22, 2020

Flowers

There should be a clinical term for the sensation of wanting to look at my phone while looking at my phone.

April 21, 2020

Glacier

I remember the sound of white thunder, that bone-shuddering crack as another piece of a glacier fell into the sea.

April 20, 2020

Fugue

My eyes stutter and loop through the words before me because my attention span has been chewed up by the news.

April 19, 2020

Interference

I find myself frequently returning to a century-old line from The Surrealist Manifesto: “Let yourself be carried along. Events will not tolerate your interference.”

April 18, 2020

Reverb

I thought I’d dreamt about standing before my bookcase and picking up a copy of The Plague by Camus.

April 17, 2020

Mouth

I can’t stop staring at this photograph. I study the woman’s mouth, teeth bared and jaw dropped, probably wrapped around a word like tyranny or freedom.

April 16, 2020

Slow

Maybe I could become a Zen lesson in the art of presence, but it feels more like I have the attention span of a goldfish: understanding the world only nine seconds at a time.

April 15, 2020

Wednesday

Time blurs. Every day feels like it’s either Monday or Saturday.

April 14, 2020

Neon

I remember walking through corridors of jumbled neon and thinking this was the poetry of the nation: the grammar of dead casinos.

April 13, 2020

Window

I stood at the window and watched raindrops slide down the glass like I was six years old again.

April 12, 2020

Object

This season of suspension will forever tint the thoughts of all who survive it. Bright-line moments from recent memory cannot compare.

April 11, 2020

Escape

Consider the word “ecstasy” in its strict sense, a Greek word that describes standing outside of one’s body.

April 10, 2020

Stars

It seems like a tragedy to go through life not knowing the names of the lights overhead.

April 9, 2020

Senseless

Last night I dreamt about a god who was angry because the noise of humanity prevented him from sleeping.

April 8, 2020

Sensible

These days I walk to the market like I’m about to commit a poorly-planned crime.

April 7, 2020

Space

And so much space there’s nothing to think about except something resembling god.

April 6, 2020

Lung

Dig the old lady who cut a tiny hole into her surgical mask so she can keep smoking her Benson & Hedges.

April 5, 2020

Park

We wear bandanas and scarves across our mouths like a haphazard gang or makeshift religion.

April 4, 2020

Sound

Sirens and cheers, these are the sounds that shape our days.

April 3, 2020

Prediction

I thought I’d devote my energies to becoming pure and benedictine, brand new and all-seeing. Instead I scroll and refresh.

April 2, 2020

Doubt

Now they’re saying the virus spreads by talking and breathing. We can kill each other just by being a person.

April 1, 2020

Passing

Passing each other on the sidewalk, we hold our breaths like children in a graveyard.

March 31, 2020

Shake

Don’t shake out your dirty laundry, the television says. You might release a viral cloud.

March 30, 2020

Cheer

There’s the guy I’ve always wondered about, the one across the street who leaves big chunks of bread on the fire escape for the pigeons.

March 29, 2020

Grid

Meanwhile, I’m reverting to the diet of a five-year-old. All I want to eat are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

March 28, 2020

Conspiracy

Each headline is more disorienting than the last, and these pandemic days are breeding baroque conspiracies.

March 27, 2020

Mojo

Every night the Electrifying Mojo would sign off with the same message and I want us to hear it in our heads now, delivered in a slow baritone with a grin around the edges.

March 26, 2020

Point

The optics feel wrong, more like a simulation than reality; it’s eerie to see New Yorkers so evenly spaced apart.

March 25, 2020

Kneel

I hear the undoing of a lock and her voice calling behind me. “Thank you, darling. Pray for me.”

March 24, 2020

Six

A deeper hush fills the city, a sense of bracing for an unseen blow. We know things will get worse.

March 23, 2020

Night

This is dedicated to the nighthawks and graveyard shifters, you beautiful enemies of sleep.

March 22, 2020

Blank

I spent the morning scrolling through images of empty highways and blank parking lots that look like a new form of land art or maybe a message to the gods.

March 21, 2020

Anger

Once this is over and we’re allowed to gather outside again, I hope we take to the streets for all kinds of reasons.

March 20, 2020

Artificial

There’s a blush of dopamine, an uncoiling of the nerves. The smudged memory of doing arts and crafts in a classroom while a storm beats against the windows.

March 19, 2020

Hothouse

Tonight I sympathize with Will Durant’s wistful sketch of Rousseau: “He escaped from the stings of reality into a hothouse world of dreams.”

March 18, 2020

Quiet

There was a time when I would count how many words I said each day. At night I logged the number into a notebook. Sixteen. Twenty-three.

March 17, 2020

Suspension

These are long days of suspension. For a moment I convince myself that everything is just fine. That I must have imagined the whole thing.

March 16, 2020

Vigilance

Riffling through an old box of keepsakes, I came across a note that I wrote to her five years ago.

March 15, 2020

Distance

I run through Central Park, passing joggers with balaclavas and kerchiefs wrapped around their faces like they’ve been throwing Molotov cocktails.

March 14, 2020

Communion

I needed to work with my hands today. To be reminded that I can make something that takes up space and serves a need.

March 13, 2020

Control

I’m beginning to understand the street preachers and late night radio voices who root through arcane numerology and biblical verses that implicate Wall Street, Hollywood, and the United Nations.

March 12, 2020

Storm

The streets hum with a hunter-gather energy that brings to mind the days before a hurricane. Except there is no storm, only the prospect of staying indoors.

March 11, 2020

Spike

Meanwhile in New York City, we’re told the subway is safe although we should avoid taking it.

March 10, 2020

Denial

A note on Barnett Newman’s portrait of “the agony that is single, constant, unrelenting, willed—world without end.”

March 8, 2020

Country

Went to an exhibition about the countryside that felt like walking into a Wikipedia entry written under the influence of heavy-duty stimulants.

March 7, 2020

Armory

The brittle energy of coronavirus anxiety commingled with ritualized decadence. Face masks and champagne stations.

March 5, 2020

Sanitizer

We wash our hands constantly like we’ve done something wrong. We try not to touch our faces.

March 3, 2020

Tuesday

Another chapter in this endless season of passive-aggressive battles in hotel lobbies and gyms, their flatscreens cycling between Fox News and CNN.

March 2, 2020

Golden

Tonight I crave the cadence of the desert. Groom Lake. Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range. Devil’s Hole. Epic names that speak of salvation and redemption.

February 29, 2020

Leap

“The beginnings of Dada were not art but disgust,” said Tristan Tzara in 1918. Each day the rationale for Dada’s rejection of logic makes a little more sense. But cynicism is a cheap dodge, isn’t it?

February 28, 2020

Crash

A woman was visibly upset in aisle six because they’re out of antibacterial hand-wipes. “But when will there be more?” I’m still thinking about the look in her eyes.

February 27, 2020

Scribble

A consultant from Brussels asked everyone to draw the shape of their lives on a Post-It note. I made a scribble and people began approaching me as if I’d scrawled a cry for help.

February 26, 2020

Cross

Ash Wednesday and people walk the streets with smudged crosses on their foreheads. A beautiful ritual, ancient and haunted.

February 25, 2020

Jabs

Instructional videos at the train station teach me how to behave in 2020. If there’s gunfire, take cover. Silence your cellphone.

February 24, 2020

Salmiakki

Meanwhile the television says things like “jawbone damage may occur” and “America’s most trusted home surveillance system.”

February 23, 2020

Virus

She scrolls through websites that sell protective face masks while I half-watch a conspiratorial documentary about our hyper-mediated world.

February 22, 2020

Pattern

The machine says tens of millions of people will flood into Las Vegas as well as Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, and Houston.

February 20, 2020

Perfect

A man studies yesterday’s horoscopes on the train. He carefully highlights a line that says today is the day to take action.

February 19, 2020

Event

Debate night in America. We tune in because we need to know: Who can withstand the punishment of live television?

February 18, 2020

Love

I remember sitting in a cathedral on a snowy February morning and watching an elderly couple hold hands.

February 17, 2020

Eye

Sharks have a transparent membrane that allows them to see despite the blood and carnage that fills the water when it attacks.

February 15, 2020

Blue

Why are so many visions of the future cast in cool tones? Blues and greys, whites and silvers.

February 14, 2020

Future

A vaguely human-shaped slab of bronze staggers into a ferocious wind, its body on fire, determined to walk.

February 13, 2020

Ghost

The first gods must have been born while we slept.

February 12, 2020

Stranger

Nearly every advertisement on the subway trumpets the virtue of having your favorite meals, outfits, entertainments, mattresses, and toothbrushes delivered straight to your door.

February 11, 2020

Dreams

Waking up this morning, the world doesn’t feel much different from the illogic of sleep.

February 9, 2020

Clutter

I catch a glimpse of a beloved actor from the 1980s smiling across three flatscreens in an empty lobby, encouraging everyone to triple reverse-mortgage their homes.

February 7, 2020

Decision

I scroll down the aisles of the office supply store, soothed by the racks of folders, binders, and containers that promise an organized and efficient life.

February 6, 2020

Twilight

‘Civil twilight’ is an elegant term for the moment just before the sun sinks beneath the horizon. It might be a fitting name for these strange years.

February 5, 2020

Boot

My eighty-year-old German neighbor and I picked at our omelettes while a television in the corner of the diner delivered the vote count.

February 4, 2020

Change

New York’s skyline stopped me in my tracks this afternoon, reminding me that I live in an increasingly alien city.

February 3, 2020

Seeing

Walking down street tonight, I find myself paying closer attention to shadow and light, reminding myself that yes, this is plenty.

February 2, 2020

Birthday

I wonder if deep down each of carries a fantasy of one day becoming an ascetic or a mystic, some hardwired notion of stripping our lives bare and praying in the gloom.

January 30, 2020

Static

These are destabilizing days when there always seems to be a screen playing something upsetting in the room.

January 29, 2020

Light

Finding lightness becomes the job. And if it cannot be found, it must be invented.

January 28, 2020

Glitch

The mathematical precision of these birds looked improbable. Maybe it was a sign of some cosmic change, a hidden pattern made visible.

January 27, 2020

Hidden

I closed the book and watched everyone on the subway swiping and scrolling, hunting for something. Or escaping.

January 26, 2020

Rotation

We talked about not staying in New York. We talked about finding a way back to Helsinki and we discussed moving to Taipei.

January 25, 2020

Turbulence

The turbulence began the moment we entered American airspace. It was hard not to read this as an omen.

A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful

An installation of 50,000 anxieties and desires—and a widescreen portrait of the American mood.