It’s the first week of August, and I’m driving from Michigan to Washington D.C., just like I did in August 2019, when I hadn’t yet started my job or my degree, back when D.C. was still strange to me and I still thought it was okay to cough in a crowded metro car. Time seems to have spooled out and looped over itself so that I don’t know if this year has passed by in a moment, or if it’s been several lifetimes since that first cross-country drive.

So much in my life feels fragmented and interrupted right now. This year I’ve written letters and articles and essays—polished things. But something about the notes I dashed off on my phone feels more faithful to this whirlwind year. Here, lightly edited, are a year of the mundane and serious and baffling things I felt the need to save:

August 2019

  • I’m flailing in the way a vine does reaching out looking for something to hold onto
  • Notify bank of address change
    Visit AU financial aid office
    Figure out metro monthly pass
  • It’s always night that is the hardest
  • Protect the CICIG! [now-defunct Guatemalan anti-corruption body]

September 2019

  • It is similar to being in love and then suddenly, not; the absence is physical. But then this metaphor gets embarrassing because love is mutual and while this country meant so much to you, what did you mean to it? They don’t need you, not at all, not like you feel that you need them
  • How is imitation like a plateau… they’re both the highest form of flattery

October 2019

  • It is the simplest and yet most radical idea, that people around the world are living their own lives with their own public and private joys and fears and hopes
  • Karaoke songs – added “total eclipse of the heart”
  • great british baking show
  • Tweet (image) @birth_marxist: how y’all karl marx locally but hillary clinton globally?

November 2019

  • No one told me how beautiful this country [North Korea] would be
  • When I was younger, we used to play a game where we would fold a paper in three accordion-style and each draw part of it. You couldn’t see the other person’ drawings, just the faint lines extending down which showed you how to line your picture up. That meant a person could turn into a fish which could turn into a tree because you were filling in your own idea of what fits there
  • We can only tell the stories we know
  • Cornstarch, lemon juice, canned biscuits
  • New Yorker cartoon (image): “Yes, the planet got destroyed. But for a beautiful moment in time we created a lot of value for shareholders”

December 2019

  • Susan Sontag
  • Karaoke songs – added “eye of the tiger, living on a prayer, call me maybe, take me home country roads”
  • There too much space inside of me to fit in a world that ends

January 2020

  • Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
  • In Life We’re Briefly Gorgeous
  • “Doing things” friend vs “being there” friend
  • Informed consent by beneficiaries trusts that people will make the right decision for themselves. That’s what partnership is – the opportunity to say no
  • Hond embassy
    in the U.S.

February 2020

  • Matches
    Whole grain flour
  • Is emotional availability in men tied to religiosity
  • All I want, all I really want
    Is to be wildly and deeply loved
    After that, acclaim, I suppose
    The selfish idea that the work I do matters
    In the absence of love this feels adequate
    But wouldn’t I be happier, adored and anonymous
  • Panini book in cemetery
  • Words roil like a knot in a muscle, like a spool of tangled yarn to be worked out, to be worked over in the gentle motion of soothing and sorting, straightening, ordering, righting, putting straight
  • How do you tell the sex of an ant. Put it in water. If it sinks it’s a girl ant, if it floats…

March 2020 (pre-pandemic)

  • On the street where the boy was killed the orange jacaranda blooms excessively.
  • We cannot both claim to defend the human rights of North Koreans and at the same time deny them the opportunity for basic food and medicine
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Did you hear why the old lady tripped and fell into the well/ because she couldn’t see that well

March 2020 (post-pandemic)

  • We step out blinking to the audacity of blossoms. When was the last time I watched the clouds turn red and roll over
  • I have never lacked for food or shelter
  • Resting comfortable upon the sins
    Of my fathers
  • “Plague in the Bible is not a storm weathered before a return to normalcy. It’s a call to come together in new ways in order to survive, hold the powerful responsible for their unjust policies and the lies they’ve told to cover up injustice, and rebuild on foundations of love and justice”, Liz Theoharis
  • Pay attention now because you won’t have these eyes again -Bishop Mariann Budde
  • “I am not alone in my tiredness or sickness or fears, but at one with millions of others from many centuries, and it is all part of life” –Etty Hillesum, Dutch writer who was killed in Auschwitz

April 2020

  • What do you like about being a man?
  • Sourdough cinnamon rolls

May 2020

  • Meme (image, translated from Spanish) Professor McGonagall looks out at Hermione, Ron, and Harry: “Why is it that every time something bad happens, you three are there?” Hermione, Ron, and Harry are labeled, respectively: “colonialism”, “patriarchy”, and “capitalism”
  • Hola, bienvenidas y bienvenidos, por medio de este grupo estaremos compartiendo recursos para comida u otra asistencia gratis
  • Kindness scavenger hunt

June 2020

  • Young people and place, as if our land was nothing more than occupancy
  • 3 things I want – joy in community, pride at work, rest at home
  • WRITE A BLOG POST ABOUT EXTRACONTINENTAL MIGRANTS [migrants traveling through Mexico to the United States from Africa, Asia, or the Middle East have always been uniquely vulnerable due to the length and difficulty of their trips and frequent inability to speak Spanish. This vulnerability is exacerbated by the pandemic, which trapped thousands of migrants mid-journey.]
  • Desmond Tutu said that racism is “the ultimate blasphemy, because it could make a child of God doubt that she or he was a child of God. People of faith cannot be neutral on this issue. To stand on the sidelines is to be disobedient to the God who said we are created, all of us, in God’s image”

July 2020

  • I didn’t unpack for weeks, and that felt like something I’ve done my whole life
  • 3 robins
    2 pileated woodpeckers
    5 chickadees
    1 chipping sparrow
    5 wild turkeys
  • We will always be opposed to empire
  • Mad max fury road


  1. Courtney Zonnefeld

    This works so well as a found-footage essay, a lovely glimpse into moments and conversations over time! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Avatar

    A part of me wants this to be a “tag yourself” meme; I’m “sourdough cinnamon rolls” and “Mad max fury road,” even though my favorite by far is “Is emotional availability in men tied to religiosity.”

    These notes remind me of Anne Lamott’s advice in Bird by Bird to carry a notebook with you everywhere as fodder for writing. You’re inspiring me to take note a little more often too.

  3. Kyric Koning

    “You will never have these eyes again” is my favorite. Always looking at something different, both beautiful and sorrowful.

  4. Avatar

    I read this article a week ago and loved it – and now, every time I open Keep, I remember this and smile. Thanks for making art out of the mundane.


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