Good Morning Good Morning Good Morning Good

We’re at the point in the year where we can sleep with the windows open without fear of waking up the next morning feeling as if we’ve frozen solid; indeed, without warning, we ended up at the point where not having windows open makes the air feel thicker and, just maybe, it’s time to think about sleeping on top of the sheets, too. (It is the end of June, of course; okay, maybe there was some warning.)

The reason I mention this isn’t to update on how I’m sleeping or my temperature regulation activities; it’s because, as the weather improves and the windows open, I’m rediscovering the joys of listening to the morning anew.

I’ve previously written about how quiet the house is first thing in the morning, but the rest of the world doesn’t follow suit, wonderfully. There is bird song, as countless different birds chirp and warble to each other in high-pitched Morse Code that seems as pretty but unintelligible to me as it does incessant; lists to it, the invention of music feels inevitable — it wasn’t even as if humans had anything to invent, given how melodic, repetitive and rhythmic the birds have been singing all along. We just ripped them off and gave it a different name.

But it’s not just nature out there. There’s the sound of cars in the distance, that slowly increasing, then decreasing hum of the engines and the crunch of the road underneath the tires. I lie there, listening and unintentionally trying to work out where each car is, relative to me. That one’s on Belmont, but this new one has to be on Cesar Chavez…? and so on. I don’t really mean to do it, it doesn’t matter, but I can’t stop myself, nonetheless.

And then there are the occasional footsteps, even in these quarantine times — although, of course, the quarantine is losing its strength as time goes on. I listen to people walk past, jog past every now and then, hear snatches of music or conversation as they do. It’s a gentle reminder that this isn’t a bubble or a life raft, but that I’m part of something larger, a world out there, filled with life, ready for me to wake fully and join in.

All I Ever See Is Them And You

The joy of the THR newsletter graphics is their speed, the way in which they go from “here’s the headline” to completion in a matter of minutes. In many ways, it’s like subconscious design, which allows for both happy accidents and unexpected moments of, if not inspiration, then at least discovery that I find myself fond of afterwards. Here’s the latest batch, with perhaps the happiest accident yet.

Easily my favorite moment of miscommunication, the following graphic had to be reworked two different times after my editor initially mixed up Alexander Skarsgard and Peter Sarsgaard, and then, upon realizing his error, didn’t communicate it with me until the last minute so I had to change the image to make sure we weren’t showing the wrong actor. We’re all very professional, I promise.

One Down, One to Go

When July started, I saw enough people talk about us being midway through 2020 that I ended up researching it; surely that couldn’t be right, could it? February is so short that we must be a week off or so, surely, before we catch up again? Surely we can’t actually be halfway through the year?

Much of that disbelief came from, simply, the feeling that we couldn’t be half done with the year just yet. (More cynically and dramatically, that the year wasn’t half finished with us yet, perhaps, but, it’s been that kind of a year.) 2020 has been existentially difficult, a year that’s assailed us in ways that I’m not sure I could have really seen coming in any way beyond jokingly imagining worst case scenarios that could never, really, come true; a year that looked at my End Of 2019 wish that, coming off a year that saw my divorce and attempts to rebuild my finances in the wake of that, maybe the next 12 months would be just a little bit easier and laughed maniacally. Oh, if only I knew what was in store. If only.

Time has flattened, or folded, since quarantine went into effect. March was seventy years long, but April seemed to go by in a blink. Even just writing that feels like a surreal thing, though, a reminder that we’ve been in quarantine for longer this year than not — everything shut down mid-March, and since then we’ve had fully April, May and June living almost entirely inside our homes while our jobs go away and, judging by the infection rates in the US, nothing actually really gets better. Is this just the way things are going to be, now? Surely not, and yet…

(A brief aside; something rumored for the President’s July 4 speech and thankfully missing was an announcement that, basically, we’d all just have to learn to accept this as the new ongoing reality going forward. Even the idea of saying that felt so callous, so cruel to me.)

So I looked into it, like I said, and it turns out that July 2 is the actual midway point of the year — the 183rd day, with 182 behind it and 182 ahead. Still earlier than I thought, but still; we’re firmly in the second half of 2020 now. May it be kinder than the first.

When I Look In Your Direction Gone

Half a year in, and I’m unsure how I feel about 2020 Vision, the project to make a new image on here every weekday. (Technically every workday, I think it was originally intended to be, but I might be misremembering…? Of course, I took Thursday and Friday off last week, because I wasn’t working, so…)

Part of that comes from the fact that, to put it mildly, 2020 is far from the year I expected when I set the project out for myself in the first place. I’m not blaming myself for that, considering, you know, there’s a global pandemic that has dramatically rearranged life for everyone in the fucking world, hastening a financial disaster brought about by incompetence and malice that has resulted in a record-breaking number of Americans losing their jobs — something that’s not left me unaffected — while, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, there are also daily protests against systemic racism and police violence in almost every major city in the US, which has been happening for more than a month now. With all that in mind, “2020 isn’t the year I expected” feels like an understatement.

On a practical level, this perhaps shouldn’t mean anything, but if wishes were horses, etc. My days have become more disordered in part because my thinking has become more disordered, and the daily image has started to suffer as a result. It’s become less of the playground it was intended as, and more of an obligation to fulfill, which feels like the very opposite of what any self-directed study should be. It was supposed to be fun, dammit, not a box to tick off on my to-do list.

This isn’t the only “I’ll do this for 2020!” plan that’s gone awry, I should make clear; I started the year off, filled with vim and vigor at the idea of keeping track of everything I’ve been reading, and that fell apart in the middle of February, thanks to the mystery illness that I still think was an early COVID outlier. My best intentions for this year have all collapsed, it seems.

I’m not sure what this means for the project as a whole, whether I’ll wrap it up, change the frequency, or keep going in the hopes of pulling out of the fog. I’m writing this days before it runs, uncertain of whether or not I’ll even make an image for “today.” But if I can’t use this site as a self-aware, self-conscious place to talk out loud, then what purpose does it serve…?