4 min read

Scattered, vol. 6

  • It’s been a hard week.
  • We said goodbye to our dog, Cooper, on Monday. Today, I learned that my friend Paula died from cancer.
  • It is a strange thing about life that when you have a loss—or even a happy change: a birth, a new relationship, what have you—the world and even your own life just continues on. You still have to buy groceries and wash your clothes, your bills keep arriving and demanding to be paid, your neighbors keep having parties in the middle of a pandemic. It is both frustrating and comforting, by turns and all at once.
  • Weirdly, I haven’t been drinking much. In fact, the past year I’ve been drinking a lot less than usual, not because of any effort to cut down but just because I haven’t felt like it. I realized this afternoon that, whether I’m alone or with others, I usually only drink when I’m feeling happy or celebratory or peaceful.
  • A lot of my thoughts lately have been starting with “It is a strange thing” or “Weirdly” or “Oddly enough.”
  • Last night I had to wipe up a spill under our washing machine and I found some of Cooper’s hair under there. I asked J today how long she thought it would be before there was no trace left of him in our house. “It’s only been four days,” she said.
  • I have spent the past several hours scrolling through Facebook, reading the outpouring of grief and memories and praise for Paula. Paula was a brilliant, meticulous, intelligent, and groundbreaking artist. She was also one of the warmest, most enthusiastic, energetic, kindest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Everyone loved her.
  • I took a break from writing this letter to check the mail, and found a sympathy card from our veterinarian. This was very kind of them, but also I had already been crying off and on for most of the afternoon.
  • When you lose a loved one, the hole they leave in your life is bigger than their physical size. How does that work, exactly?
  • I’ve been to a lot of funerals, starting from when I was eight or nine, I can’t remember exactly when. Up until shortly before I turned 30, I’d been to more funerals than weddings. I don’t know when the next time I’ll go to either one will be.
  • Over the week, a lot of friends, family, and coworkers have contacted me with condolences about Cooper, sharing memories of him. I took him to work with me every day for many years, so he got to meet a lot of people. He was here to see each one of our kids come home for the first time. He was always very patient with them. Everyone loved him.
  • I told J the other day that having experienced loss before doesn’t make this time around less painful, but it is helpful to know the shape and patterns of my grief. It is useful at least not to be surprised by what I do or don’t feel, and when, and for how long.
  • Is it weird that I have spent so much of my life wondering what my own funeral will be like? Is it weird that I have been thinking about what I will say or write about my loved ones if I should outlive them? I don’t know. Sometimes I think it’s weird that everybody doesn’t think about these things.
  • It always feels strange and selfish to turn inward and think about myself when I lose someone. But if death is the end then they don’t know the difference. And if it’s not, I think they must understand. I hope so, anyway.
  • If you live long enough, you cannot help but lose people you’ve loved. The thing that is amazing is that as much as is taken from you with every loss, there is always more the next time.
  • No matter what you subtract from infinity, the remainder is infinite.
  • Is what we are subtracting, and subtracting from, love?
  • In fact, there are whole infinities that you can subtract from infinity, and still be left with infinity.
  • Oh, I don’t know.
  • It’s been a hard week. I hope next week is better.
  • For you, too.


It’s time for BuyArtFriday again! Here are some items for your consideration:

  1. Photographer Margaret Durow's self-titled photobook is available via Setanta Books. £40, or £50-£70 with signed print. Only a few copies remaining.
  2. Veritas Editions is running an IndieGogo campaign for a forthcoming photobook by photographer Kenro Izu, "Impermanence – Kenro Izu: The Spirit Within – A Fifty Year Journey."
  3. Photographer Matt Eich recently released volume 6 of his zine Seasonal Blues, via Little Oak Press. $35 + shipping.
  4. Photographer Wendel White will be giving a Zoom artist talk with Blue Sky/Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts on Wednesday, February 10, at 5 PM PST, to accompany his "Manifest" exhibition, which will be on display through March 27.
  5. My friend Juliet SanNicolas de Bradley and Joshua David Watson recently started their Art for the Isolated initiative, delivering art and poetry safely into hospital rooms for quarantined patients and caregivers. You can donate via Center.
  6. Candela Books + Gallery just released the exhibition catalog for their "Photography Is Dead..." exhibition, available now via the Candela online shop. $30.
  7. Volume X of One Twelve's Diffusion print annual is now available for purchase. Features work by more than 80 artists, including my friend Paula Riff, who passed today.


It’s Friday, so here are a few things that mattered to me recently.

  1. Lyz Lenz's "I Am Worried We Will Forget" piece from her newsletter, as usual, captured what I've been thinking about lately. Especially this: "Our future is built upon how we perceive the past. And if we are so focused on forgetting the past pain, we'll just replicate it into the future over and over again."
  2. David Naimon’s recent conversation with Teju Cole on Between the Covers was one of the best interviews I've ever experienced in any medium. A profoundly human discussion of art and writing, what it means to see, what we keep ourselves from looking at, and how to be a person in this world.
  3. Jay Caspian Kang's recent NYT profile of Steven Yeun was one of the more interesting pieces I've read recently on Asian American-ness, the push and pull of identity, and contending with or against the white gaze.

As always, this is just a portion of what mattered to me recently. I'm very tired right now, which is just to say that I will try to get some rest soon and I hope you do as well.

Thank you, and take care.