Notes from the End of a World

Each night in 2020 I wrote a short post because I wanted to etch these strange days into my memory before I forget them. Before the world changed completely. And 2020 delivered more than anyone could have bargained for.

December 31, 2020

End

The end of the year leaves me feeling as if I’m supposed to be reflective, and I find myself hunting for revelations that never arrive.

December 30, 2020

Almost

It’s almost like a new form of weather, this atmosphere of everyone waiting for this wretched year to end.

December 29, 2020

Unthinkable

I try to imagine my reaction if someone showed me some scenes from the year to come.

December 28, 2020

Version

There will be no flash of light or burning bush.

December 27, 2020

Fallout

But for three or four minutes, something otherworldly seemed possible.

December 26, 2020

Shambles

A pair of ears clutches a knife. A pig dressed as a nun encourages a man to sign a legal document. And so on.

December 25, 2020

Moment

Remember this, I thought, because it won’t always be this way.

December 24, 2020

Eve

My first concept of god came from It’s a Wonderful Life.

December 23, 2020

Banquet

My memories tend to pile up around the holidays, fogging my thoughts with the textures of Christmas seasons from the past.

December 22, 2020

Stimulus

A billionaire was on television this morning, and he’s worried about our social fabric.

December 21, 2020

Hibernal

Heavy rain beats against the windows and it’s the longest night of the year, one of my favorite moments.

December 20, 2020

Postmortem

How would knowing that consciousness lingers while the body goes cold change the way we reckon with death—or bear witness?

December 19, 2020

Programming

I absorbed so many forms of 1980s sitcom trauma.

December 18, 2020

Fracture

“But I’m working on a special microchip that will block the signals of all demons and devils,” he said.

December 17, 2020

Death

An elderly man collapsed against the base of a Bernini.

December 16, 2020

Flurries

Maybe it has to do with the silence it brings, how it tranquilizes the world for a while.

December 15, 2020

Reflection

There were days when our images were honored, even feared.

December 14, 2020

Mundane

I’m reappreciating the joy of mundane events this year, the delight in everything happening as expected.

December 13, 2020

Vaccine

They gathered in Washington DC to wave flags with the president dressed up like Rambo, slicked with sweat and carrying a belt-fed weapon.

December 12, 2020

Narrows

I feel more present in the world at midnight, most like myself.

December 11, 2020

Numbers

Three thousand Americans are dying each day from the coronavirus, and two hundred thousand more are infected.

December 10, 2020

Worship

Three years ago on a Saturday night in rural Pennsylvania, I saw a vision of the future that I cannot shake.

December 9, 2020

Stare

His gaze leaves me questioning my life choices and entire personality.

December 8, 2020

Alright

I passed a church sign that said, “Jesus paid the price, you keep the change.”

December 7, 2020

Absence

I catch myself patting down my pockets while feeling phantom vibrations, seeking synthetic communion.

December 6, 2020

Release

I’m learning to carry my dead with me, to ask them questions while pacing the kitchen or driving to the supermarket.

December 5, 2020

Metal

If aliens landed, I’d probably mistake them for a guerrilla marketing campaign.

December 4, 2020

Pietà

The image of the Pietà occupies such a distinct place in memory that I often forget it translates to “the pity”.

December 3, 2020

Eat

I stopped at the window and gaped like a hermit suddenly confronted by society.

December 2, 2020

Language

How tragic to enter a museum hoping to feel dignified and ennobled, only to walk away feeling like a fool.

December 1, 2020

Snow

The first day of the last month of this nightly exercise, and I’m thinking about the value of this exercise.

November 30, 2020

Bear

Light snow here in Ohio, and the weather report was mixed with grim coronavirus forecasts.

November 29, 2020

Leave

The holidays remind me that I don’t have the type of family that appears in commercials and television specials.

November 28, 2020

Tree

Domestic rituals of all kinds will be critical during this long winter.

November 27, 2020

Access

Sometimes I blame modern-day aesthetics for my difficulties. The optics seem wrong for devotion.

November 26, 2020

Gratitude

Tonight I am grateful because I have a safe place to sleep, food to eat, and the freedom to make my own decisions.

November 25, 2020

Ash

I miss the dopamine loop, the carrot and the stick, and the rhythm of stepping outside for five minutes after each page or paragraph.

November 24, 2020

Shop

I tuned into the voice looping over the P.A. system, struck by how it sounded simultaneously rational and insane.

November 23, 2020

Patterns

There was a time when people believed the stomach’s gurgles and rumbles belonged to the voices of the dead.

November 22, 2020

Stretch

We stopped at a rest area where a man stood on the grass, grinning at the moon.

November 21, 2020

Image

I read about a temple where an image is treated as the living incarnation of an infant god.

November 20, 2020

Walk

I often hear people say they feel as if reality is slipping away. But perhaps reality is becoming more evident.

November 19, 2020

Post

I found a rare picture of my mom young and smiling, caught beneath the overheated gloss of a 1970s photo.

November 18, 2020

Forward

I don’t want to become a prematurely old man, pining for a romanticized past.

November 17, 2020

Hijack

Meanwhile, I keep forgetting the screen is a tool, not an environment.

November 16, 2020

Museum

I wanted to visit my favorite statues and paintings before things begin closing again.

November 15, 2020

Astro

Or take the word ‘disaster’, the inversion of ‘astro’, a term which means a negative star, a kink in the heavens that leads to catastrophe.

November 14, 2020

Reality

A profane old man would often tell me, “Fuck your feelings.” Then he’d remind me of the facts. That advice probably saved my life.

November 13, 2020

Lament

We knew it was coming. They’ve been telling us for months, and now it’s here.

November 12, 2020

Profane

How many times have I glimpsed a better, more spiritualized way to live—and retreated?