Biking, I’m Biking I’m

Over the last year I got really into bike-riding. I know, so fucked up. Since I have yet to generate the energy sufficient to make a practice of deleting old tweets before they can be weaponized against me, here’s a headstart for my haters.

It’s just: I exist primarily as a pedestrian, and can count on 1 hand the number of times I almost got hit by a car, and on 2 hands the number of times I almost got hit by a bike.

Always a guy in tight pants, always wearing a terrible, tiny little hat, always a messenger back slung across their back. Always apoplectic that I was so busy following the rules of the road that I didn’t notice them speeding through a red light. The nerve of me, existing.

It wasn’t just me not wanting to identify as a bike nerd that kept me from riding, it was, you know, fear of death. Cambridge streets (Boston streets in general, really) are no joke and should probably be declared illegal. There are ghosts bikes chained up everywhere. I know people who’ve been hit, doored, took a pothole and went over their handlebars and spent a month so concussed they couldn’t look at screens. It seems: bad.

But there are these Bluebikes everywhere now and parts of Mass Ave even have dedicated bike lines so one morning, as I spent 45 minutes in the cold waiting for my bus (a commute that takes 30 minutes to walk) I saw it would only take 15 minutes by bike and was like OK ! and walked away from the bus stop and haven’t been back.

It was only about a week before I bought a helmet, a full membership, a flashing light for my backpack, the whole deal. It’s embarrassing and I hate how I look but at least I get there in the timeframe I expect to get places, which does marvels for my mental health. And I haven’t completed abandoned my ideals. I stop for pedestrians. I don’t blow through red lights. I pay attention to what the cars are doing around me, rather than assuming they are paying attention to me.

The threat of death is still ever-present of course. I mean when is it not. It’s less abstract though, a thing I’m participating in, not a thing that’s just happening to me. I think about what it’ll be like if (when, right? it’s definitely when) I get doored and the bike crumbles beneath me and I sail over my handlebars. I picture myself flying for those few seconds, sailing through the air in gentle silence, usually over the side of the Mass Ave bridge, into the Charles.

we r all random ppl

Tonight someone I follow on Instagram went Live because she was having trouble taking off one of her eyelashes and wanted advice. She sat there facing the camera/audience with one eyelash on and one eyelash off, reading comments and making jokes. She kept starting to remove the eyelash and then stopping, until someone said something about warm water, and someone said something about using a cotton round, so she ran around getting supplies and then finally, just as she was about to actually remove the eyelash, she paused the video.

And then everyone in the comments started talking about what they were having for dinner, and whether they liked the new Billie Eilish. Without the original person to focus on everyone in the audience started interacting with each other. An instantaneous pivot into a lovely little community. This went on for a few minutes while we waited for the video to unpause, but it never did. It just ended, and the whole thing was suddenly over. All these little communities being born and quietly dying, like stars on the other side of the universe.

lilmixedhunny with one eyelash

Fearless Tryer – The Trader Joe’s Zine

Yes, it’s true, a whole zine about Trader Joe’s. Based on their newsletter, the Fearless Flyer, but soooo much more. Product reviews! Art! Recipes! Personal histories! Interactions with Cashiers! Fan fiction!!!

Fearless Tryer - the Trader Joe's zine

Contributors include: Meghan Deans, Millie De Chirico, Nalini Edwin, Elisabeth Geier, Stephanie Gayle, Helen Jane Hearn, Eden M. Kennedy, Amanda McCleod, Tracie Masek, Brett O’Connor, Sarah Olson, Nora Redman, Hannah Skibbe, and Mike Toole.

Edited & designed & organized & produced by Sarah Brown and me.

32pp absolutely packed to the corners with content. Makes a great gift for your friend who won’t shut up about Trader Joe’s.

SOLD OUT thanks everyone

some much content it stands on its own

newer organic music discovery inputs

Years I wrote a Tumblr post about how my music discovery processes had changed over the years. Hold on let me see if I can find it. 

OK yeah here.

Ah, 4 years ago, 32 notes. Nice. 

This is honestly…a pretty good overview.  I should have added Shazaming in H&M, where I seriously always hear something I like. Also I should have said something about the visual process of browsing the record store, and deciding whether I would like or dislike something based solely on the album cover.

Probably the only significant new addition would be soundtracks of TV shows & movies, a lot of my favorite songs these days end up being from Killing Eve or John Wick or whatever.

The subtext for writing about this then and now is how Spotify’s algorithmic recommendations increasingly reinforce the stuff I already like, and do increasingly little to prod me in new and random directions. There’s a brief uptick in the UX where you’re like Hell yeah I do love this and then a long falling tail where you realize you might just be listening to the same songs forever until you die, and this, this, is the elderly out-of-touch-ness you were worried about all those teenage years ago.

Anyways what was my point. Yes: so the other day I was at the Porter Square T stop. If you’re not from the Greater Boston Area, Porter Square is the deepest station on the entire MBTA system, and therefore has the longest escalators. They’re actually a little unsettling if you think about it too much. But anyways I was riding them up to the surface the other day and every so often on the handrail someone had strewn flyers for an upcoming live event of some kind. I wasn’t paying attention the first few times I saw it, but like I say it’s a long escalator ride, so eventually I picked one up and read it. Some kind of world music fest, pass.

It listed a bunch of bands I’d never heard of, but one band name stuck out for whatever reason – M.A.K.U. SoundSystem. I thought: I should check them out later to see what they sound like. And I did! They’re on Spotify, they have live videos on YouTube. I was pretty into it. I found one particular song I liked and added it to my playlist of music I have liked in 2019. It won’t be enough to encourage the Spotify needle to lead me down a new and exciting musical journey, but at least I I still got it, it being the capacity to listen to something I haven’t already heard.

making zines these days

Before “being a adult who writes Kim Kardashian fanfic” became my claim to fame, I was a person who made zines. I would dump out sewing kits full of content onto the internet and pick up the pieces I liked best to save in print. Books that I made by hand and sold online, writing little notes on the inside covers, addressing and stamping envelopes, wondering who are all these people buying my books. This was a big part of my life from 2001-2012? Weird that it was all so long ago. Everything went off the rails when I started writing novels.

Anyways suddenly! recently! I had 2 new zine projects in the works and no idea how zines were made anymore.

My first book, Twelve Times Lost, was extremely a scissors & tape & photocopy affair, but most of my other books were done in Microsoft Publisher. I think? This was all so long ago and I hate thinking about the past so grain of salt. But iirc I had gotten the program for free on some computer and used it for everything book related for years. It worked great, better than you’d expect, and I never had any complaints about it.

But I don’t have it anymore and I guess it still exists, but not on my computer and not without a subscription. InDesign seems to be what many people use to lay books out these days but I do not have the money to access it nor inclination to learn a new program on a tight schedule.

And anyways there’s so much new tech and tools these days, apps for everything, so I assumed I would find amazing resources for making zines online, probably using Google Docs or at least maybe Apple Pages? But tons and tons of searching produced zero results. This is still so bizarre to me.

So finally I tweet my frustration and 30 seconds later mathowie has shown me this really killer template in Google Slides. It’s not full-featured or robust or overflowing with helpful text manipulations tools, but it removed the barrier for entry I faced and a few minutes later I’d reconfigured the template how I needed it and was putting together the book. I went to F*d*xK*nko’s to print out a copy and see what it looked like in my hands, then I rearranged a few slides and it was ready to go. Repurposing an online presentation software for print media felt like a solid, modern DIY medium between scissors and tape and an Adobe Creative Cloud Membership Plan.

Anyways the two books. The first was this thing I put together for my mom’s 75th birthday, collecting people’s favorite memories of times with her. Big hit, you can imagine. The 2nd is a Trader Joe’s zine Sarah and I are working on and you’ll probably hear more about it soon. The end!

a picture of the zine I made for my mom's birthday