Today, Today, Today

Notes from the epicenter of a pandemic.

I promise this gets better, but let’s start here: Ugh.

Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh.

Thank you for letting me get that out of my system.

It’s been almost 3 months since my last post, and I’m writing this from the American epicenter of a worldwide pandemic.

How have you been? I’m doing fine, all things considered. I’ve spent the last few months clearing a work backlog, landscaping an island in Animal Crossing, beating back generalized anxiety by baking homemade focaccia, and exploring new ways to be a little more directed and organized by adopting tools like Notion. (Maybe one day I’ll write about that.) But in the back of my mind, there has been a nagging, open loop beyond the mortgage payment to Tom Nook: my redesign blog post series. I hope saying that I am worried about blog posts communicates the extent of my safeness and soundness in New York City. Not everyone is so fortunate, and my thoughts are with them tonight.

A couple nights ago I took another look at my site redesign. Ugh. Why? Ugh. There was a lot of work happening at the end of February that went undocumented. I jumped into markup and started figuring out how I wanted to use CSS grid. I discovered some unresolvable bugs in Chrome’s implementation of grid. I realized the necessity of CSS subgrid and the amount of junk code I’d have without it. I worried about this creeping complexity. I distracted myself by creating a color approach for each page and a system to generate color palettes on the fly. Then, I decided to put it down for a couple weeks, because I was running in circles.

A few days later, Covid hit the fine shores of New York City, and who the hell cares about websites anymore? Some formerly easy things (like food shopping) became difficult, the world shut down for safety, focus and initiative rightfully waned, and optional endeavors that required any iota of mental acuity got pushed out. Life hits fast, and now there is an edgy monotony to each day. Time evaporates until 7pm when I hear the applause, shocked that it is already that late. Where did the day go? Nothing’s happening, but I’m doing just fine, really, because I have been here before. Welcome to the incubator.


A few years ago, I spent about three months in the hospital with a sick parent. Once that difficult season ended and I did the hard work of fully mourning, I remember the excitement of being able to sit down at a restaurant – a real restaurant! – and overhear the conversations of people sunk in the everydayness of their lives. Babysitters, status update meetings, farmers markets, new shoes, opposite side parking, dates, vacuuming, scheduling conflicts – oh my god. Plans! Those are things! Here was life, lush in its abundance, being frivolously and inspiringly wasted on the mundane. It was marvelous and shocking. Life was not life or death. Life was life and life, lush and fertile, more and more, and and and, a matter of fact, there, right in front of you. And how else could it be? I had to slowly reintroduce living after a season of dying, like an astronaut’s body re-acclimating to gravity. Nothing notable happened in the six months after my mother passed away. I watched life go by and it was the sweetest thing I have ever, ever experienced.

I am not entirely sure what I am trying to say here. It’s a jumble of a few different ideas, and my brain is fuzzy from a lack of vitamin D. First: being in the incubator denies you your life for a time but can give back a different perspective. Cliché, but all the same, true. It can be a time to reevaluate satisfaction, and I am so, so curious to see how the world will step back into itself once it is safe out there. Spending 60 consecutive days at home inspires a productive kind of modesty and shuffles around your ideas of indulgence and austerity. Nearly everything I own? Unnecessary. Take it away. But baking that single chocolate chip cookie every night in the toaster oven? I’d rather die than stop. How will I know the day happened without the cookie? Could tomorrow even arrive without it? Sacraments get invented during lean times like this.

Second: that the marrow of life lives beyond novelty in the unexceptional. I say this a lot: “the simple things are worth doing well, because they happen every day.” It is my mantra because I am the king of forgetting it. Any goodness that comes to me during the time of Covid will be by attending to what happens each day. The dishes pile up and the dishes get washed. They pile up and get washed. Isn’t that remarkable? It’s today and then today, then today, and today and today.

And third: hooooly shit have I let my life get filled with convoluted and inessential things, thoughts, and methods since those six astronaut months. Now that I’m back in the incubator and feeling the austerity of isolation with the rest of the world, I realize: leanness agrees with me. I can do this, I know this, I am good at this. But I am forgetful, and sheltering at home shouldn’t be necessary to recognize and address the ways I have been inattentive, complacent, sloven, slack, withholding, feeding the trap, and using complexity and distractedness as an armor for fearful ego. Beyond this, there is a life that is smaller, tighter, looser, and more giving.

I haven’t really worn shoes in almost two months. I am watching my feet relax into a new shape. I hope the same is happening to my mind. Time for dishes. Time for a cookie. It was a today! Today today today today today.

Frank Chimero illustrated portrait

Frank Chimero is a designer and writer based in New York City. For the past 15 years, he’s worked at his tiny design studio, Frank, with a few years away to co-found Abstract.

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The Shape of Design Cover.