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.

November 11, 2020

Suffuse

Words that haunt the unconscious: Trilobites, moonfish, and gorgons.

November 10, 2020

Spirit

In the beginning, God was only “a permanently existing ghost.”

November 9, 2020

Test

Shops are removing the plywood boards from their windows after barricading for riots that never came.

November 8, 2020

Shift

Yes, I wept as Kamala Harris and Joe Biden gave their acceptance speeches in a Delaware parking lot.

November 7, 2020

Catharsis

The networks called the race for president at 11:26 this morning, and the city erupted in cheers.

November 6, 2020

Endless

Meanwhile, we wait for a signal, a 72-point headline or a glossy cable news graphic that cements and formalizes.

November 5, 2020

Goo

Patchy sleep and fever dreams of narrow margins and outstanding ballots. But it’s not much different from waking life right now.

November 4, 2020

Razor

A slow-motion drift in Pennsylvania. Refresh. A lot of places are sold out of nicotine gum.

November 3, 2020

Election

After so many months of isolation, working the polls for seventeen hours reminded me of something important: New Yorkers are beautiful and insane.

November 2, 2020

Gesture

I was mortified by just how childish I’d become, that I would allow any man to crank my lizard-brain into full swing.

November 1, 2020

Hour

The end of Daylight Savings Time is my favorite holiday because it creates more night.

October 31, 2020

Halloween

America hit nearly 100,000 new infections yesterday. Britain declared another lockdown tonight, joining Germany and France.

October 30, 2020

Devil

My first understanding of how media hysteria works, the way it creates a dark scoreboard with a record begging to be broken.

October 29, 2020

Wind

“Sometimes I think they are graceful like ballerinas,” he said as we drove. “Other times, I think they are wicked.”

October 28, 2020

Mirror

It looks like half the country is burning and the other half is freezing.

October 27, 2020

History

It’s an uneasy sensation, knowing something massively historical is one week away.

October 26, 2020

Court

I will channel my anger into becoming a morning person this week.

October 25, 2020

Safe

A friend sent me an article about a helmet you can buy that creates its own microclimate of filtered, customized air.

October 24, 2020

Up

Eighty-five thousand new cases reported yesterday, another record smashed in a year with too many records broken.

October 23, 2020

Lights

Returning to the city, I felt a familiar drain on my attention as I drove down the FDR to ditch the rental car.

October 22, 2020

Ocean

So we listened to the sea, and it gave us much better information.

October 21, 2020

Fog

We admired the smudged headlights of oncoming traffic, the fleeting sense of driving on some other, better planet.

October 20, 2020

Landscape

I’m endlessly rewriting, forever shuffling scenes and squinting at the possibilities.

October 19, 2020

Monsters

Why would my brain invent monsters to terrify itself?

October 18, 2020

Fatigue

What is the line between fatigue and acceptance?

October 17, 2020

Monument

I’m always captivated by Louise Nevelson’s monuments built from pieces of furniture painted black.

October 16, 2020

Noise

I miss being around sounds I can’t control.

October 15, 2020

Watching

Maybe the question shouldn’t be “Are you still watching?” but “Why?”

October 14, 2020

Simulation

He stood in front of an airplane flapping his hands and crowing before a sea of red hats. All those red hats like angry sores.

October 13, 2020

Slate

A place where only the occasional shredded tire or dilapidated cabin would interrupt my fantasy that I’m driving on another planet.

October 12, 2020

Pictures

While running through the rainy dark, someone stepped in front of me and took my picture for no apparent reason.

October 11, 2020

Drome

More and more, it feels like trying to critique the sky.

October 10, 2020

Spare

When you cut something down to the bone, every decision becomes much more dramatic.

October 9, 2020

Silentium

And I realized this was because of that rarest quality of all these days: silence.

October 8, 2020

Landfall

Lately I’ve been having a dream about a weatherman grinning in front of a map while talking about a hurricane of bullets.

October 7, 2020

Creature

The fly felt like a portentous symbol in a year that has reached the caliber of myth.

October 6, 2020

Kite

I once saw an old woman in a red sundress flying a big yellow kite down a busy street.

October 5, 2020

Dust

As if I’m doing something wrong just by living in such an embarrassing time.

October 4, 2020

Extreme

This year has made conspiracy theorists of so many of us to some degree.

October 3, 2020

Oldies

I find myself craving the days when a 303 sounded like it contained all the mysteries and possibilities of the world.

October 2, 2020

Positive

Today the president went to the hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus.

October 1, 2020

Ritual

A mixture of marble and steel that looks like a collision of the past and future.

September 30, 2020

Training

“You’ll be working at least seventeen hours on Election Day,” he said. “So bring a sandwich.”

September 29, 2020

Shame

Tonight’s first presidential debate was a fitting spectacle for a degraded nation.

September 28, 2020

Dots

If I’ve gleaned anything from keeping this glum journal throughout this year, it’s that I keep returning to the language of grief.

September 27, 2020

Converge

It’s my mind that kills me, the constant looking at my watch until I remember how to forget about time.

September 26, 2020

Lull

But tonight there’s light rain, our windows are open to the city’s hum, and there’s something dark and slow on the radio.

September 25, 2020

Homeward

We’re leaving the Ohioan wilderness behind, night-driving back to New York.

September 24, 2020

Birds

Standing in a superstore parking lot this evening, I watched some geese fly south, and I remembered my parents’ relationship with birds.

September 23, 2020

Shatter

Three moments in America today that reach beyond my ability with words, striking only the rudimentary language of grief.