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.

September 22, 2020


We’re standing on the verge of an uneasy fall, unsure of just how high the curve will go.

September 21, 2020


A modern marvel where you can eat fast food on top of eight lanes of freeway traffic.

September 20, 2020


Last bonfire before we return to the city.

September 19, 2020


There’s a problem with modern grief, a rupture that cannot be filled with squishy words like mindfulness and acceptance.

September 18, 2020


Looking at the state of the world today, perhaps we need more architectural details designed to scare away demons.

September 17, 2020


Five thousand years ago we began outsourcing prayer and devotion to statues that would worship on our behalf.

September 16, 2020


The deer didn’t seem alarmed by my presence. It just watched me while munching some foliage.

September 15, 2020


Like painting legs on a snake. My in-laws taught me this Chinese idiom, a scold against unnecessary embellishment.

September 14, 2020


Sometimes I fall asleep thinking about the ancient atomists.

September 13, 2020


This has been a year of references to plague novels and the dystopian skies of science fiction.

September 12, 2020


My breath catches in the existential and super-saturated detergent aisle: All. Era. Gain. Cheer. Bold.

September 11, 2020


Nineteen years ago but it still feels like it was just the other day.

September 10, 2020


I’m not sure if I believe in symbols or signs, but today gave me plenty to decipher.

September 9, 2020


I’d always thought the future was just around the corner, but it’s already here.

September 8, 2020


They walked around caked in mud with lice in their hair, which they called the “pearls of god.”

September 7, 2020


Why is the sound of thunder so soothing?

September 6, 2020


There’s that principle that we burn up all available time to complete a task—and this gets scary when measured in years.

September 5, 2020


“Beauty is remembering the sad times without crying,” said one girl, who at fifteen years old was already so wise it broke my heart.

September 4, 2020


This election will test much cruelty Americans will tolerate, and how many of us crave it.

September 3, 2020


As I scrolled through the radio dial in search of voices to keep me company, I began to understand the appeal of its doomsday preachers and fear-merchants.

September 2, 2020


Perhaps the best work scrambles genre and rides strange lines that might swerve at any moment.

September 1, 2020


Demons and hexes would nicely explain why some people behave the way they do.

August 31, 2020


It’s always good for me to be reminded that writing is a physical act.

August 30, 2020


I’m chilled by how quickly phrases like “the other side” have become so natural. Because that’s the grammar of war.

August 29, 2020


To erase the “I” and stand outside of time, writing like a ghost.

August 28, 2020


I wonder if there’s anything to learn from my recent drift towards color and my desire to return to monochrome.

August 27, 2020


He said, “The president recognizes the best way to restore normalcy to people’s lives is to bring back entertainment options.”

August 26, 2020


I switch the channel and a meteorologist says, “Just behind this vortex is a wall of water getting ready to surge.”

August 25, 2020


Then the First Lady stood in the Rose Garden and lectured us about civility while her husband smirked.

August 24, 2020


Tonight I sat outside in the unfamiliar terrain of southeastern Ohio, lit a candle, and watched the stars.

August 23, 2020


First memories are such peculiar creatures, these fuzzy impressions and garbled snapshots that teach us how to see the world.

August 22, 2020


For a glimpse into the brainpan of America, you can’t beat late-night AM radio.

August 21, 2020


Heading west on Interstate 70, there’s a beautiful sunset and it’ll have to do for tonight.

August 20, 2020


An empathy machine sounds like a pretty good leader right now.

August 19, 2020


Somewhere in southeastern Ohio, I drove past two ranch houses sitting side by side with tidy sidewalks and neatly mowed lawns.

August 18, 2020


A woman at the supermarket kept making a noise I could not decipher.

August 17, 2020


Somewhere north of Columbus, we tuned in to the first night of the Democratic National Convention.

August 16, 2020


The body remembers slowly and forgets very quickly.

August 15, 2020


Maybe it was the barometer dropping, the rearrangement of air pressure.

August 14, 2020


We’ve entered the last stretch of summer when everything is overripe and so green it feels obscene.

August 13, 2020


An old man pushes a shopping car filled with metal scrap and hollers about demons.

August 12, 2020


By now I should know the only way to outrun my bullshit is to keep writing.

August 11, 2020


It’s an exhausting puzzle, trying to figure out which parts of this world to let into your head.

August 10, 2020


Three days without television or constant internet access—unless I drive twenty minutes to sit in the parking lot of a Speedway gas station.

August 9, 2020


The cabin smells like cedar. There is no internet here. No cellphone reception either.

August 8, 2020


Americans of all kinds gathered together to admire their country’s geological features. All is not lost.

August 7, 2020


I still remember the frantic voice of a late-night caller who said, “We can’t get the blood out of our eyes fast enough to see what’s coming next.”

August 6, 2020


We’re packing for a trip of indeterminate length.

August 5, 2020


Lately my dreams have been all garble and grime without symbolism or plot.

August 4, 2020


Maybe human brains aren’t equipped for this, absorbing painful images from everywhere at once without the ability to be present and act.