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“Do You Have Any New Ideas?”
Old reliable ideas growing tiresome
A year ago today, I stopped going into work and set up shop in my bedroom, with my laptop propped up on two cookbooks in front of a window. The other day, I tried to find a single unfamiliar detail in the landscape I can see from that window, and I gave up after ten minutes; I have literally seen it all.
At the same time, Kina has been attending school remotely, and I’ve taken an unusually visible role in her day; we play games, tell stories, and exchange jokes as I pass through the living room—our day has a rhythm. Sometimes, that rhythm feels to both of us more like a routine, in ways that remind us both that we’ve been at this for a while. The other night, Kina asked to play a game, and I offered up one of her old favorites—“Burlingame Wakes Up Baby Rainbow Cat”. No, she said. I offered to play “Elsa Flies Around”. No. I suggested “Daddy Gets a Checkup”. Kina stared at me pathetically and asked if I had any new ideas, and I just… didn’t.
It’s not that I don’t have the capacity to deliver a new game, or to imagine a novel story, but it really is a slog these days. It’s easier for me in a way to walk the path we’ve been walking all year, because it helps me ignore how much work it’s taken to beat that path through the brush. I don’t want to have new ideas right now; I just want to walk through this last bit of the tunnel and go outside. Kina, at the same time, is having the opposite experience. She is simultaneously less exhausted by this whole affair and more tortured with the boredom. Somehow, we have to meet in the middle. I am sure that Baby Rainbow Unicorn has another exciting story ahead of her, but I’ll need to think about it. I have to think about it.
In a little more than three weeks, I will have been drawing The Daily Kina for three hundred and sixty-five consecutive days. I am trying to figure out how to look back on a year full of newspapers as we approach that anniversary—so much is in here, and every headline represents an idea that emerged from these moments that Kina and I have shared. I’ve given up going back through my notes to see if I’ve duplicated any stories, because there’s just too much to scan through, and every day’s headlines actually feel different. There have been some foundational storylines, but each day is something new and ridiculous. This paper is the change that keeps me going, the constantly novel detail in the landscape of our last year together. It’s easy to forget how new it all is, because the routine of the days feels so familiar, but Kina’s existence is refreshingly chaotic. I’m glad I’m recording it.
Each day I sit down with the same pad of paper and the same box of markers, and every day a new paper comes out. I do have new ideas, I want to tell Kina. She just doesn’t know how to read them yet.