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


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


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

December 29, 2020


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

December 28, 2020


There will be no flash of light or burning bush.

December 27, 2020


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

December 26, 2020


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


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

December 24, 2020


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

December 23, 2020


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

December 22, 2020


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

December 21, 2020


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

December 20, 2020


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

December 19, 2020


I absorbed so many forms of 1980s sitcom trauma.

December 18, 2020


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

December 17, 2020


An elderly man collapsed against the base of a Bernini.

December 16, 2020


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

December 15, 2020


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

December 14, 2020


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

December 13, 2020


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


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

December 11, 2020


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

December 10, 2020


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

December 9, 2020


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

December 8, 2020


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

December 7, 2020


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

December 6, 2020


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


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

December 4, 2020


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

December 3, 2020


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

December 2, 2020


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

December 1, 2020


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

November 30, 2020


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

November 29, 2020


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

November 28, 2020


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

November 27, 2020


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

November 26, 2020


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


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


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

November 23, 2020


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

November 22, 2020


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

November 21, 2020


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

November 20, 2020


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

November 19, 2020


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

November 18, 2020


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

November 17, 2020


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

November 16, 2020


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

November 15, 2020


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


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


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

November 12, 2020


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