Here are the receipts

jfc Kevin stop starting drafts of blog posts and then never actually pressing publish on them. it’s just the internet! who cares.

Plus I am getting deep into my next project and it would be nice to update/tie off the previous one first.

Anyways one of my things this year has been LEARN HOW TO DRAW. I decided I would draw something every day and hopefully at some point feel like I’m getting better at it. I watch youtube videos here and there. I just draw whatever is handy. bottles, silverware, the tv. At some point I started drawing receipts and I really liked the challenge of drawing them so I kept at it and that is what I mainly draw at this point. Here are some pictures.

I have always thought of myself as A Person Who Cannot Draw. I took a figure drawing class at Cambridge Adult Ed (charcoal) in my 20s and felt like a failure. So I just went on my way, identifying as a person who can’t draw. But forcing myself to draw every day immediately flooded me with memories from elementary school, lying on my bedroom floor, drawing guitars and the MTV and Van Halen logos over and over. Drawing was a huge part of my life, my identity, my free time. Why did I completely forget about that? I understand the idea of youth being braver/less terrified of creative failure, but at some point I completely mentally rewrote my history to fit this narrative of me not being able to draw. How did I learn to think that I can’t draw, and how do I learn to unlearn it?

One other random thing, not sure why drawing receipts appeals to me so much but recently I was visiting my mom’s house and noticed receipts everywhere. Every room I went into, every drawer I opened, she had receipts tucked away. Like anything she ever purchased may be subject to return at some distant point in the future. I’m not going to dig into that any deeper, just noting it and moving on.

2022 (year-end errata)

I decided I’m allowed to post some thoughts/ideas from the previous year in JANUARY if I feel like it. Sorry to all the media corporations that post their year-end lists in November, my brain doesn’t work like that.

Also errata isn’t at all the correct word here I just like the sound of it.

I don’t remember if 2022 was the year I started digging into/getting serious about mantra meditation. Maybe? Anyways it was a big thing for me this year. Cultivating non-effort. Strengthening the tools to clear my mind, to be able to sit and think about nothing. Still a work in progress but one that I find immensely rewarding & helpful.

I sort of learned to use Garageband this year but I’m still so bad at creating & editing music. Sort of feels like I’m on a plateau with it, not sure what to do about it. Absolutely do not feel like (nor am capable of) spending hundreds of dollars on “better” software.

Definitely the year of annoying health problems. I wrote an email newsletter about it and completely forgot to mention my arthritis and anemia. How’s THAT for continued brain fog due to (probably, if my doctor ever writes me back, healthcare in the U.S. SUCKS A LARGE AND LEAKY BAG OF CORPSE BUTTS) long covid.

Speaking of which hang on I’m off to get some blood drawn for yet more tests that will prove nothing.

OK I’m back and only slightly woozy.

Books I read, another good topic. I deleted Goodreads a while back and have been using Storygraph for at least a full year now so I’m fairly qualified to say that Storygraph is kind of the worst, and I hate using it. Why is it so hard to see what I’ve read in the past year? They do nothing interesting with your data, and the social features are non-existent. GR was never great but it did some things well. Anyways after a lot of frustrated tapping I found a list of books I read in the past year nothing really jumped out as super memorable, that’s all I have to say about that topic. Congratuations to Storygraph for winning the yearly award for Worst App I Begrudgingly Support Financially.

I started volunteering at the food pantry in my neighborhood. I go every week and it’s the best. Fun & interesting people, hard work, doing something actually in my community. Not a lot of men working there so it’s unlikely I’ll make a new IRL friend there, which is a desperate ongoing need in my life, but other than that it ticks just about every box.

I thought my favorite song that I Shazam’d from a TV show or movie would be a good end of year list topic, and I think it was Judee Sill’s Jesus Was a Cross Maker, which was used in an episode of Minx, but I can’t find any evidence that I actually Shazam’d it, so whatever. Another one in the memory >>> data pile. Wait I found it in the app but not the linked auto-generated Spotify playlist. *jazz hands* The Internet.

But if I think about the music I listened to this year and had to describe my favorite song without the use of devices/lists/internets/etc the only song that would definitely come to mind with no external prompting is Barbra Streisand’s version of “Much More” from The Fantasticks, which was a on very early pre-fame recording of hers that finally got released in the past year. Whatever that says about me I’m fine with.

OK wait I’ll go through my Spotify list for 2022 and pick out some good songs:

  • Yeah definitely Jesus Was a Cross Maker and Much More*
  • SMiLE by DOMi & JD BECK
  • Andor Main Title themes obvs (esp Episodes 2, 4, 7)
  • Clouded Yellow by Michael Gordon*
  • SAOKO by ROSAL√ćA
  • Why I Came to California by Leon Ware*
  • What’ll I Do by The New Birth*
  • Chubb Rock Can You Please Pay Paul The $2200 You Owe Him by Prince Paul et al* & **

* Putting older songs that I heard for the first time in the previous year on the best songs of the year list is me being very true to me

** As of this writing Chubb Rock still owes Prince Paul $2200

I think I heard about the Chubb Rock being a grifter thing on a podcast (likely What Had Happened Was) so I’ll say something else about podcasts here: I like Pot Psychology and Fun City. I listened a lot less to Questlove Supreme because he doesn’t let Phonte & Laiya ask enough of the questions and I get frustrated. Also (and once you hear this you can’t unhear it) he starts every single sentence with “I’ll say…” Just say what you’re saying. I’ve asked Anil to mention this directly to Questlove.

This got me thinking about apps which got me thinking about Brands so here are some things I value: Protonmail, Mastodon, 1Password, DuckDuckGo, Duolingo, MorseMania, Oak, Overcast, TV Time, Spyderco knives, FXD workwear, Burton jackets, Sertraline, Aveeno, Vaseline lip therapy, Native plastic-free deodorant, using the Target app to navigate the store, Apple Notes.

Definitely a big theme of the past year was Continued Serious Interest in the Career of David Boreanaz. We did a full watch of Bones back in the first year of the pandemic, and this year started watching Angel for the first time (I like it) and I also got very serious about Seal Team. We won’t probe too deeply into the enthusiasm with which I have devoured 5+ seasons of Seal Team and instead we’ll just say I’m driven to be a David Boreanaz Completist. I will say that as a heavy drama Seal Team is not his best work, because he’s pretty under-rated as a comedic actor, and he got to stretch those muscles more in Bones (and Angel, here and there). Could I go on and on and on with Well-Considered Opinions About David Boreanaz? Email a bitch and find out.

What else. Favorite things I drank would be a good topic, but that would involve going back through photos and trying to jog my memory about all the random locally-sourced kombuchas and probiotic sodas and low-orbit energy drinks and whatever. Definitely I continued to enjoy Gatorade Zero this year.

Finally the big theme of 2022 as we all know was Experimenting with Gluten-Free Grains. Buckwheat was the run-away favorite, with sorghum trailing in last. Sorry, sorghum. Still: watch your back quinoa. Nothing is sacred.

I can’t think of anything else. I could easily do some linking to past projects to be like Look What I Did but I get so bored of it. I miss my cat.

bye, c u l8r


dear [computer]:

I want your help generating ideas for blog posts. I will tell you about my blog, and the posts I’ve written in the past year, and you can use that to suggest things I might write about this year.

My blog began in 1998, so it’s been around for a long time, although I don’t update it very frequently. It is a personal blog, so I don’t write about any one particular topic, and I don’t write sponsored posts. I am not interested in SEO and I do not care how much traffic my blog receives. I write posts for me and me alone, and do not concern myself with attracting vistors to my blog. Most of the posts tend to be a little sad/wistful, although occasionally they are more jokey, casual, weird.

Most of the posts I write tend to be about projects I’ve finished – books I’ve written; songs I’ve recorded. I often write about my creative process. I also use my blog as a kind of diary – a record of events in my life, feelings, things I’m going through – but not in a very explicit way. The blog entries function as a diary for me, memories of what I’ve been through, but the posts themselves are often written a bit vaguely, referring to specifics only obliquely, so that the casual reader comes away with an impressionistic understanding of my experience, rather than an explicit one.

In the past year (2022) I updated my blog 11 times.

In January, I wrote one post about my decision to deactivate all my social media accounts, apps I had deleted from my phone, and idly wondering if I was watching too much TV.

In February, I wrote one blog post, which mostly focused on some older material I had re-uploaded to the blog, some edits I had made to my other website, and some questions I had about whether it was important to archive or keep track of all the things I had posted to the internet over the past 2 decades.

In March, I wrote one blog post that simply announced an EP of heist music I had written and released. The EP is called “Background Music for a Series of Long Cons.”

In April, I wrote one blog post announcing a new chapbook I had written, called Imaginary Beverage Reviews. I touched on the background, my history of writing beverage reviews with my friend Josh, and how I had written this book during the pandemic. I included my favorite quote from Lynda Barry, which is sort of a central, core philosophy to my creative process: “You have to be willing to make things for no known reason”.

In May, I wrote one blog post announcing a tiny zine I had written, called Opsec Nightmares. People can download the zine directly from the blog post.

In June, I wrote one blog post just sort of catching people on what was happening in my life offline. I had hurt my back very badly, I went to an outdoor art show, I made vague reference to some wild drama that was happening at my old job. Generally this was a sad post, about the same-ish-ness of the passage of days I had been feeling since the pandemic quarantine.

In July I wrote one blog post announcing an EP of electronic music I had written and uploaded, called “orphan status”. I also included some liner notes about how the music had been created, and a philosophy I learned from John Lurie, which is: “Always try to go with the first thing.”

In October I wrote one blog post about how I felt that I was getting dumber as I got older. I talked a little bit about deleting things from my phone, where my time and attention were being spent, whether the things I chose to focus my attention on were hurting me. (I didn’t realize until weeks later that I likely had/have Long COVID, and my feeling dumber was a common symptom known as brain fog.)

In November I wrote one blog posts about how my life is a series of lists. I gave examples of lists I keep, to help me keep track of the things I want to do or remember. I recalled a list I had written in high school and wondered if that was the start of my fascination/obsession with lists.

In December I wrote two blog posts. One was about my cat, Moonlight, who had recently died. I wrote about what he was like, how he came into my life, how much I missed him. The other post announced a new EP of music I had released, called “Andor Variations.” I again touched on my creative process, about how I tried not to overthink what I was doing, or wonder why I was doing it.

So: what should I write about this year

Tell me

Andor Variations

text thread with Deans

Like a lot of people I got really invested in Andor this year but I did not notice that Nicholas Britell had written a different version of the theme for every song until Deans sent this text.

I immediate listened to all the themes so far (at that point we were only 6 episodes in) and ranked them favorite to least favorite. And then I was like I want to try this.

text thread with Deans

Like most of my projects, there wasn’t a lot of reason or forethought put into it, just: This feels like what I should do next. (Telling friends I was writing versions of the Andor theme usually resulted in them asking: Is the show really that good? It is! But that’s not the point.) Different phrases popped into my head, like “worker drone” and “below heartbeat” and “half-assed concierto” and I used that to guide the mood of the versions I wrote.

In the end I wrote about 14 and whittled them down to 5 I liked plus an extended version of 1:

And there it is! I had a goal of releasing 3 eps this year and this vow has been successfully met. I’m not 100% sure I have totally put this idea to bed; I may do more, but who knows, that’s a project for next year.

I’ve embedded the Spotify link up above but it’s on all the usual streaming platforms.

If I can allow myself a moment of self-criticism I don’t like some of how this album sounds and I wish I was better at mixing. If anyone has any tips/tutorials/Audacity macros I’m listening.

Moonlight

Moonlight came home with us on December 6, 2017. He’d been kicking around the cat shelter where I volunteer for a few months.

A picture of Moonlight at my mom's house

The cat shelter: started as a volunteering experience R needed in middle school. I was obsessed from the beginning, and have continued to go every month, long after everyone else in the family lost interest.

Coming home with a cat: we definitely knew that “volunteering at a cat shelter” meant “eventually bringing a cat home” but we held off for a few years. We already had Lola, the world’s grumpiest chihuahua, plus a very small apartment, realistically where would the cat box even go, etc. And in the meantime cats came and went through the shelter, and many were great but except for one kitten we’d never strongly considered adopting any of them.

Moonlight wasn’t that kitten. Moonlight was older, at least 5 as far as anyone could guess, plus FIV+, which despite not actually being a huge deal, meant he was less likely to get adopted. He was very chill. A background cat; not someone who was desperate for attention and entertainment, not interested in causing drama. A cat that wouldn’t necessarily jump up onto your lap, but if you lifted him up and put him on your lap, would stay there. He was very soft, with gray fur that changed color in different light, and a distinctive tear in one of his ears that hinted at some difficult past life on the streets.

Once we’d started talking about possibly adopting that kitten it was like something opened up, it was suddenly inevitable that we were bringing home a cat. That kitten got adopted quickly and then Ro came to the shelter to meet the other cats and singled Moonlight out immediately. What about this guy. This guy’s our man. He was.

Picture of a sleeping cat

He was bigger than Lola, and quickly established dominance. Other than that, he fit in seamlessly, easily, with the rhythm of our family. Like all cats, he would scratch any time he came upon a closed door, but other than that he wasn’t especially annoying, which let’s be honest is saying a lot for a cat. He liked to relax, which is definitely the vibe in our family. Whenever I opened the fridge he would run over and poke his head in like What are we thinking, snacks? He was a fine traveler and loved visiting my mom’s house, with her carpeted floors and sunlight from multiple directions, and a bed that she bought so he could snuggle up right next to her on her favorite chair. He was fearless in protecting us from the mice and rats (yes: rats) that wandered in out of the cold.

A screenshot of my camera roll showing all photos of Moonlight laying on me

During the day he would curl up on K’s bed. In the afternoons he would sleep in what had formerly been Lola’s bed. Every night after dinner I would lie on the couch under a blanket to watch TV and he would jump up and fall asleep on my legs. My camera roll is just this, endlessly. At night he would curl up on a chair in R’s room. He was always somewhere. You’d enter a room and just know he’d be there. That’s what’s hardest now; expecting him to be there, when you enter a room, and continually finding him not there.

He got very sick in the past year. Thyroid problems, and then lymphoma. He was on a bunch of meds, which he absolutely hated taking, and which may have helped a little, but ultimately not much. He stopped eating, lost more and more weight, started withdrawing, hiding out all day in the downstairs bathroom, the darkest corner of the apartment. It was clearly time, even though we were nowhere near ready. We found a vet who would come to the house, which was some of the best money we have ever spent.

I’ve said goodbye to cats before, and it’s always difficult. Something about this felt different though.

I don’t know what else to say. I often referred to him as my best friend, and that’s how I felt. I miss him so much. He was the best.


I’ve been looking at my phone for 20 minutes, trying to pick which photos to include with this post. Honestly they’re all gold.

Moonlight relaxing with his leg on mine for some reason