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.

August 3, 2020

Moon

I should understand the rhythm of the moon by now.

August 2, 2020

Normal

Giving up on normal seems like a critical psychic adjustment these days.

August 1, 2020

Max

“You’re looking at the future: people translated as data.” This line from Max Headroom certainly holds up thirty-five years later.

July 31, 2020

Cigarette

There was a half-moon in the sky and a large man in a red pick-up truck was talking to somebody on the phone about Jesus.

July 30, 2020

Ready

“You can put on a jacket,” she says, “but you can’t take off your skin.”

July 29, 2020

Pray

When I consider the man I want to become someday, I often picture myself as someone who prays.

July 28, 2020

Demon

Today’s headlines featured phrases about “demon sperm” and “the umbrella man” because we’ve slipped into a psychedelic hell.

July 27, 2020

Inspiration

A list of things that inspired the book I’m writing.

July 26, 2020

Wave

The seven o’clock cheers faded long ago.

July 25, 2020

Feedback

It’s two-thirty in the morning, and a caravan of motorcycles and dune buggies are growling up First Avenue, their engines rattling the windows.

July 24, 2020

Clay

The Stand brought me back to teenage nights of staying awake into the small hours with a flashlight, promising myself just one more chapter.

July 23, 2020

Way

It doesn’t matter if the nail is in the exact right place, so long as it’s holding together two pieces of wood.

July 22, 2020

Downpour

And for a lunatic moment I wonder if it will keep raining until everything is washed clean.

July 21, 2020

Detach

I remember speeding across a blank Oklahoma plain dotted with pump jacks and cattle pens.

July 20, 2020

Cover

Finishing a project means closing doors, killing darlings, and foreclosing possibilities.

July 19, 2020

Echo

Tonight I’m craving the kerchunk of a rewind button and the ritual of scotch-taping the edge of a cassette

July 18, 2020

Run

They say you never see a cheetah stretch, but maybe I should. My legs always hurt.

July 17, 2020

Anchors

Rode the subway home in an empty car except for me and an old woman wearing a t-shirt that said, “Love is so gangster.”

July 16, 2020

Soul

These medieval Catholics were haunted men who desperately wrestled with the question of a soul, not like the playful Greeks who made up the world as they went along.

July 15, 2020

Spear

And what is my intuition telling me? My first thought is to turn down the volume on the world so I can hear.

July 14, 2020

Remembrance

There’s a strange dynamic to this nightly journal, this sensation of writing against time. Or more precisely: writing for myself in the future.

July 13, 2020

Breakup

Nobody died from the pandemic in New York City the other day.

July 12, 2020

Empty

Ten years later, I still remember the sight of a young couple marching along an empty desert road in Nevada.

July 11, 2020

Diver

In this case, it was the half-remembered image of a woman grinning as she plunged into a shallow industrial canal.

July 10, 2020

Rain

There’s something oddly soothing about the sound of traffic peeling down wet streets on a rainy night.

July 9, 2020

Embers

Maybe it’s an ancestral memory of bearing witness through the night while tending to the flames.

July 8, 2020

Sleepless

You can almost taste it, that bright metallic sensation which floods the brain when it decides there will be no sleep tonight.

July 7, 2020

Nature

We contemplated where waterfalls came from and wondered how saltwater becomes freshwater and vice versa.

July 6, 2020

Vivid

A world without the color green. A man who repainted all the seashells on the beach.

July 5, 2020

Forgetting

It was remarkable, this sudden act of forgetting as if we’d left the past four months behind.

July 4, 2020

Independence

A degraded and muffled Fourth of July. The prospect of celebrating America these days feels like a dark joke.

July 3, 2020

Toll

Sometimes I dream about tollbooth operators, the half-glimpsed faces with cigarettes on their lips, their left hands forever clutching a quarter and a dime in change.

July 2, 2020

Spasm

Tonight I sat in front of a fan while premature firecrackers echoed through the streets. I wondered how to live in a nation that’s circling the drain.

July 1, 2020

Abandon

Maybe I should go live in a tree. Learn the phases of the moon and teach myself to cook with the sun.

June 30, 2020

Shadow

Sometimes I find comfort in a two-thousand-year-old myth about a Chinese emperor.

June 29, 2020

Belief

Last night I woke in the middle of the night and wondered if it’s possible to believe in something otherworldly in 2020.

June 28, 2020

Humid

We had a pleasant June for a while, but the long mean heat of summer is finally here. Beyond this, I’m losing the plot.

June 27, 2020

Rhythm

And there’s the sound of someone in the street laughing and saying, “How did we get like this?”

June 26, 2020

Invasion

Aliens could land in America and we would politicize them until they became just another round of ammo in our endless red versus blue battle.

June 25, 2020

Grace

As I listened to a woman talk to the pigeons, I began humming that Jesus’ blood never failed me yet.

June 24, 2020

Sand

They’re calling it the Gorilla Dust Cloud, and you can see it from outer space.

June 23, 2020

Routine

For years I would reach for my telephone the moment I woke up, groping for it with a junkie sense of need.

June 22, 2020

Phase

She made a comment about her life that seems like a solid piece of wisdom for dealing with any kind of history: “I need to look back, but I don’t need to stare.”

June 21, 2020

Radioland

During commercial breaks, I sang along to radio jingles for machines that control your brainwaves while you sleep.

June 20, 2020

Solstice

People are edgy, their dreams infected with anxiety if they can sleep at all.

June 19, 2020

Midnight

I scrolled through streets named after Hank Williams and Big Mama Thornton while the radio worried about leftists and alien abductions.

June 18, 2020

Convulsion

More than ever, surrealism might be the best strategy for surviving these days.

June 17, 2020

Tactile

And I’m reminded that I think better without the screen tugging at my thoughts like a magnet.

June 16, 2020

Reconciliation

I want to square my life with these instructions from Thich Nhat Hanh: “Vow to work for reconciliation by the most silent and unpretentious mean possible.”

June 15, 2020

Wolf

They call it the hour of the wolf, and I think it’s reassuring there’s a name for this time, that others feel it too.