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 ROSALÍA
  • 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

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

ls

Basically everything in my life boils down to lists these days. My grocery list. What I’m cooking for dinners next week. My Target list. The things I want to do today/this week. People I should touch base with b/c I haven’t talked to them in a while. New episodes of TV shows I’m current watching. Bourne movies, favorite to least favorite. Stuff to mention at my next physical. Medicines I see advertised online. Schools to visit with K. 

We drove up to one of those schools and stayed in a hotel for one night. I kept a list of all the things I didn’t like about the room. (No Hallmark channel, creepy lighting in bathroom, no towel bar, 8 other things). 

I also had a list of potential places for us to eat dinner while we were there. 

When I think about who I am/how I am, it’s a list of things I’m doing/not doing // interested in/not interested in. 

The list of My Life Lately is:

  • learning morse code (I wondered how hard it could be, it’s not)
  • learning backgammon (same)
  • sort of working on music but not much (I have a list of ideas I will pursue at some point)
  • thinking about whether I want to/can/could learn how to rollerblade
  • looking for places to volunteer
  • the list of meds I need to give my cat every day to try to maintain his quality of life
  • God Andor is so good
  • Semi-stressed about work/tech/career stuff but fine for now
  • occasional runs & bike rides
  • slowly getting back into reading

There’s a couple of other things I’m up to lately and I meant to write them all in a list so I would have them handy when I wrote this post, but I didn’t. So in a sense those things do not exist.

I wonder how I would summarize my life to someone who knew me in high school. Not that I would need to, but like what would they learn from my online breadcrumbs, which are fairly few & far between since social media collapsed. I do not remember keeping lists in high school, if that helps. 

Actually not true I just remembered 1 list from high school. I had to write something for an English class and had decided to write a story and then when I realized how difficult that would be it was too late to back out. I was extremely stressed out and didn’t know where to start so I just wrote a list of all the things I needed to figure out in order to be able to finish the story. So I did and then I did. Vague memory, potentially heavily edited by time, of my teacher being more genuinely interested in the list than the story itself. Really makes you think.

I’m getting dumber as I get older

but I’m sort of leaning into it. It’s been a gradual process. I’ve had time to adjust.

My commute to my first real office job involved a 20-minute walk through Harvard Square. With one of my first paychecks I bought a DISCMAN (!) so I could listen to music on my walk. (Discmans had existed for a while by then but I had never owned one. MP3s and MP3 players and portable cellular devices were still a few years away.) I remember emailing my friend Cheryl about a week later and telling her my fear that this was going to make me dumber. What if listening to music while I walked wasn’t giving my life a soundtrack so much as it was drowning out my thoughts. Like was there some under-appreciated value to being along with my thoughts. She was like “…Listening to music does not make you dumber.”

Anyways it’s 20+ years later and by just about any objective measure I am dumber now than I was then. But yeah it wasn’t “listening to music on my walk to work” as much as it was “years of drowning my brain in things happening online.” And partially this (like everything) is glazed in a post-pandemic uncertainty. A vague sense that since quarantine my brain just doesn’t work like it used to. Not that I was ever Joe Brainiac but didn’t I feel sharper, quicker, more astute, at one point? The references and connections I needed to make, the memories, the faces, the names, seemed a littler closer to the edge of my fingertips. Now I can barely finish this thought. Have I written enough for this to be relatable to someone or do I have to keep typing about this.

Marie Howe: Even as I write these words I am planning / to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.

I’m trying to experiment with what I need or don’t need, online, on my phone, in my day/life/whatever. Deleting apps, noticing the muscle memory of my search for them. A working hypothesis: having every bit of information so easily searchable means I retain none of it. There’s no reason to! I can look it up again later. Someone on a show said a word I didn’t know and I knew as soon as I read the definition it would never stick in my head. And the fact that I can’t even remember what the word was, what the show was, how many days ago this happened, does any of that matter?

Same with youtube, same with podcasts. What if I go on my dumb little walks and DON’T listen to a podcast. Will my life be objectively better? Will I gain back a few IQ points? Are there thoughts, ideas, connections in my brain just waiting to rush back? I mean 20 years of this website suggest probably not.

Mary-Kim Arnold: It’s been difficult to sustain a thought for very long.

Me: why would you even want to sustain a thought? PASS

Anyways. No point here, big shocker. I’m not going to turn into an Internet Bad person. Realistically no one I’m close to would even notice my dropping a few IQ points. I’m just trying to engage with it. Being mindful of the things that keep me alive: antidepressants, meditation, love, exercise, writing, making music, my cat. Being just online enough to connect with friends, be in community with others, but not so online that I lose track of…something. Me. A way back. Fine fucking line. Almost invisible.