On the night of my youngest’s sixth birthday, when the house was quiet and everyone else was asleep, I wrote in my journal, “I will never put you to bed as a five-year-old again.” That was months ago now, but I am still thinking about it. It is in many ways—most ways—a small change, and yet it is one that nevertheless feels profound in its irrevocability. Change is, of course, inevitable, and though in this case I feel the loss of a part of my daughter’s childhood that will never and could never return, I’m fortunate that in return I get the opportunity to know her as a six-year-old.
Though, of course, not every change comes with an opportunity to offset the loss, at least not in a way that provides any comfort. I’m increasingly aware of my good fortune in that, still, no one I know personally has died of the virus. But as I write this, 276,000 Americans have died and more than 2000 are dying each day, a number that is only going to continue to accelerate as we see the effects of Thanksgiving get-togethers, and then Christmas. It seems inevitable that at some point I will lose someone to the virus, it seems just a matter of time. One in 1200 Americans have already died from it, and I have surely known more than 1200 people in my life—I have more than 500 “friends” on Facebook alone, many of whom have, themselves, lost family or friends.
I don’t know what will come. I don’t know what tomorrow will look like. It seems like most people I know want simply for things to get back to “normal,” and, to be sure, there are things I miss that I look forward to doing again some day: visiting family, spending time with friends, eating in restaurants, browsing in bookstores (or even just taking my time strolling through Hmart). But so much of “normal” didn’t work for so many people, whether you were queer or a person of color or a woman or an immigrant or even just working a shitty job. Our leaders failed us, and we failed each other, so often and so profoundly, it’s hard to understand wanting to go back to the way things were.
Of course, I say that, but is it so hard to understand? After all, there’s a part of me, too, that wants to be comforted. All it requires is to look away from that which is discomforting, and that’s such an easy thing to do. And I do, all the time. We do.
But next year isn’t going to look like last year, or like 2016, or 2008, or 1996, or 1960. Those we’ve lost are not coming back. I’m never going to put my daughter to bed as a five-year-old again. Things change, and all we can do is choose how we respond to those changes, choose what kind of people we want to be in a world that so often refuses to give us good choices. I’m doing my best. I’m sure you are, too.
Back When I Used to Shoot Film
What I’ve Been Up To
- Keep the Channel Open is on hiatus for the rest of the year, so I’m taking the time to revisit some old favorite conversations. This week I’m re-sharing my 2016 conversation with my friend Esmé Weijun Wang, one of my favorite writers and just an all-around wonderful person. I still find myself thinking about her debut novel, The Border of Paradise, quite a lot. At the time I first read it, what stuck out to me were mainly to do with the way race works in the book: Daisy’s feeling of foreignness, the way David can’t connect to his half-Asian children. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking more about how the characters so often feel that they’re doing what is best for others, and nevertheless wind up hurting each other anyway. That feels particularly apt this year.
It’s #BuyArtFriday once again, so here are some items for your consideration:
- Candela Books + Gallery (Richmond, VA) is offering pre-orders for their limited-edition exhibition catalog of Gary Burnley’s “Stranger In the Village” show. The catalog is $35 signed and $25 unsigned.
- Painter Angela Jackson has mixed media pieces and digital prints available via her website. Prints are just $25, and original pieces start at $50.
- Photographer Bootsy Holler is offering a number of limited edition and unique prints via her online shop. Prints available from $450.
- Photographer Julie Rae Powers has copies of her self-published photobook Once More, Gently (foreword by poet Ruth Awad) available in her online store. Books are $28 and ship within one to two weeks.
- Photographer Carissa Dorson is running a Kickstarter for her Conversations With Dad book project. The campaign is currently 34% funded and runs until December 29.
- All artworks in photographer Andhika Ramadhian’s Society6 store are currently 50% off.
- Legendary skate photographer J. Grant Brittain has vintage 80’s skate posters and prints available via his website, with posters from $50 and prints from $150.
- Photographer Leonardo Magrelli’s new photobook West of Here is now available for pre-order from Yoffy Press. The book is available with special presale-only print offerings through December 31, and will ship in early 2021.
- Sulfur Studios’ annual affordable art exhibition White Elephant VI features work by 25 artists from the Savannah, GA area, all available online for under $200.
- The Arnika Dawkins Gallery (Atlanta, GA) Holiday Gift Guide is available now, including fine art photographic prints from $750.
- Photographer Niall McDiarmid has prints available in his online shop from £180.
That’s what I have for this week. If you have art for sale or any upcoming online events, please share your links in the comments, or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please support the arts however you can!
It’s Friday, so here are some things that mattered to me recently:
- The Allusionist did an episode this week about the destruction and revival of indigenous Australian languages. I thought it was particularly interesting to hear the discussion of family words and how English words get adapted.
- The BBC podcast Short Cuts released an episode called “The Interpreter” last month that included a segment called “A Birthday Card.” It’s an elegiac and beautiful piece about family after a divorce, tender in both the writing and the delivery. I thought it was amazing.
- The latest issue of Don’t Take Pictures magazine included a feature on Fabienne Rivory’s constructed landscapes, which combine photography, collage, and painting in a way I haven’t seen before, and which is very beautiful.
As always, this is just a portion of what mattered to me recently. I’m trying to remember to take care of my own needs, too. I hope that you’re able to do that, too.
Thanks, and take care.