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.

June 14, 2020

Need

Sometimes my mind lands on a jittery thought: screens have become our reality and the physical world simply exists to serve their needs.

June 13, 2020

Texture

This morning I came across a stray photograph from my mother’s things, and something about it looks like a scene from a dream.

June 12, 2020

Liability

It’s a strange kind of whiplash, living in a society that’s somehow becoming more sensitive and cruel at the same time.

June 11, 2020

Saints

Tonight I’m going to play Funkadelic on repeat, dim the lights, make bad coffee, and write some purple prose.

June 10, 2020

Trampoline

And I’m trying to conjure the faith of those fiery manifestos when they believed a particular font, grid system, or color scheme might solve everything.

June 9, 2020

Otherwhere

This morning I was pacing our flat, searching for something I could not find. She told me it was probably “otherwhere.”

June 8, 2020

Mortichnia

Sometimes you come across a phrase that haunts you all day. A few words scraped from last night’s dream, maybe an odd line in the news.

June 7, 2020

Hope

We’re still living through a season that requires the suspension of disbelief, but perhaps it’s possible to believe we’re heading somewhere better.

June 6, 2020

Paranoia

Men with amplifiers delivered gnostic interpretations of the facial expressions of various health officials.

June 5, 2020

Presence

Tonight I came across Tolstoy’s three questions, and they feel especially pressing in these overloaded and disorienting days.

June 4, 2020

Oblivious

My interest in triangulating art, faith, and the day’s events feels increasingly toothless, maybe even oblivious.

June 3, 2020

Alert

The silence was stunning. It had presence and weight that nearly muted the birds and the steady beat of three choppers in the sky.

June 2, 2020

Curfew

I say hello to an old man with a power drill and a bucket of screws. Everything’s coming so fast and ugly this year.

June 1, 2020

Desecration

A news anchor said, “We are descending into something that is not the United States of America tonight.” I’m not sure if this is true.

May 31, 2020

Vacant

The White House went dark tonight in response to the protests across the street and spreading throughout the nation.

May 30, 2020

Dissonance

The presence of the police introduces the prospect of violence like a promise, and that promise came true by nightfall.

May 29, 2020

Pain

A man stood before the crowd of reporters, his eyes filled with pain and conviction.

May 28, 2020

Haze

When I flipped on the news around midnight, my concerns about running, writing, teaching, and everything else felt stupid and indulgent.

May 27, 2020

Accretion

The amount of incense smoke that darkens a temple’s ceiling demonstrates the popularity of that particular god.

May 26, 2020

Market

I’m fantasizing about a sprawling network of night markets and bazaars that reclaim the streets and devour the cars.

May 25, 2020

Memorial

After sixteen hours of talk radio, interstate winds, and screaming into metal boxes for food, my grip on the world grew slippery.

May 24, 2020

Bell

Riffling through my small box of family memories, I came across a note written in an unfamiliar hand.

May 23, 2020

Recursion

Thinking about the blurry line between media consumption and my soul.

May 22, 2020

Time

Time is a concept. Time is a flat circle. Clocks only measure other clocks.

May 21, 2020

Babble

Each morning I wake to the imaginary babble of fully-formed news reports and television clips while skating across sleep.

May 20, 2020

Cracks

I write and work. I step outside and look at the sky. Sometimes I go for an ugly run. I make phone calls. I tend this journal. Repeat.

May 19, 2020

Dark

I remember watching the darkness in my bedroom when I was small, hypnotized by grey-pink flecks while I waited for sleep.

May 18, 2020

Weird

Maybe we’ll have a vaccine soon. Maybe the president will poison himself. Things can go either way these days.

May 17, 2020

Genre

The Chinese takeout spots along First Avenue have pulled up their metal shutters. The florist is open.

May 16, 2020

Symbols

We might remember crouching on the sidewalk, frantically trying to gather the teeth falling from our mouths—not the circumstances that led us there.

May 15, 2020

Grass

We spent a few hours in the park because it’s almost possible to forget this pandemic while hiding in the grass beneath a tree.

May 14, 2020

Mono

An otherworldly landscape of alkaline and soda towers surrounded flat waters without a single ripple.

May 13, 2020

Remember

I’m writing these things down tonight because I want to look back in a few months and see if any of these dire predictions came true.

May 12, 2020

Scramble

Someone down the hall has been practicing “New York, New York” on their piano for the past hour.

May 11, 2020

Next

The triggers for fear are largely universal: loud noises, fast-moving objects, and the sudden loss of orientation. The loss of orientation has been sudden this year.

May 10, 2020

Seeds

I find solace in these instructions from Epictetus: do not say something is lost, only that it is returned.

May 9, 2020

Season

Time feels like an increasingly fictional concept as these weeks and months bleed into one very long day.

May 8, 2020

Opera

“I will create a world from the past,” she said, and she painted an audience on the walls and danced for them every Saturday night.

May 7, 2020

Mystery

“Everything’s a mystery and I’m just another small part of it,” said a woman at a gas station in Barstow.

May 6, 2020

Horizon

It’s becoming a nightly habit: scrolling through desert scenery while fantasizing about horizons, speed, and possibilities.

May 5, 2020

Options

People keep talking about a return to “normal,” as if there’s such a thing.

May 4, 2020

Coherence

My grandmother was tradition personified, a west side Polish Catholic who served Saturday night dinners of kielbasa and fried smelt.

May 3, 2020

Scold

There are advertisements on street corners and bus stops for events that will never occur.

May 2, 2020

Saturday

I wonder if I’ll ever get accustomed to the uneasy combination of sunshine and masks, as if we’re afraid of a perfect spring day.

May 1, 2020

Headlights

You can never see further than your headlights—an old slice of trucker philosophy that makes more sense with each passing year.

April 30, 2020

Outline

I’m beginning to understand why so many novels and television shows are set in the past.

April 29, 2020

Compound

Night walk to the corner bodega and I nearly forgot to wear my bandana.

April 28, 2020

Smile

The smile is the expression that can be seen from farthest away.

April 27, 2020

Diner

Tonight I miss sitting in diners and listening to people murmur and jive, scraping their forks and stirring their coffee.

April 26, 2020

Glum

Maybe I should work on my resume. Instead, I press on with reading The Plague, dropping the book every few pages to marvel at its resonance.