Sidecars

Catching up on the Road Work podcast. I like the ones where John talks about relationships. This segment starting at 46:44 resonated with me, for better or worse:

Other people are doing life, and the mailman comes at a certain time of day, and dinner is at dinner time. And I’m bouncing along, careening in like “Oh my God, is it dinner time? I’ll eat dinner! I’ll eat dinner with you guys. I happened to be here and it happened to be dinner time.”

And then off I go like a sidecar that’s just come unmoored from its motorcycle. And I’ve never met a person who had those same rhythms. And if I did find somebody who had those same rhythms I don’t know if that would work at all. I don’t think two people could be in this sidecar. If two people were off on their own motorcycle and we just clanged into each other at random intervals on a 30-hour cycle … maybe! Maybe that would work.

John Roderick on Road Work Ep. 136

Pictures from the drive home

Drove Dad’s truck back home to Minneapolis after Mom died. It’s my truck now. 200,000+ miles and a lot of rough edges, but we gave it some love. Replaced the cap on the tailgate, new front valance (the plastic bottom half of the front bumper), new CarPlay stereo, cleaned what was cleanable, new brake pads, a few other fixes I’m not remembering.

It was good to have a project, something to keep us talking, working, focused.

I don’t know why but I just couldn’t bring myself to get on a plane and fly home after it all. Too simple, too sudden. I’d been in the house down there for weeks. Anchored. Waiting. Home felt like something I had to earn again.

Found one of Mom’s old cameras, a Nikon FunTouch 4, while helping Dad tidy. It’s nothing special. I don’t even remember it that well (I picture her more with the Canon Elph). But I felt drawn to it, so I took it. Picked up some film at Walgreens and tried to remember how film cameras work on the road back.

I spent half the trip full of adrenaline, the other half exhausted. Bad weather, worse roads, dumb drivers, dumber deer. It wasn’t fun. (I wasn’t in a mental place for fun anyway.) But it was right.

Things that aren’t money anymore

I’ve had a truck for a couple weeks now. (Long story.) So I’ve been taking care of niggling errands around town, and visiting places I haven’t been to since I was dating someone with a car who took me to them.

Today’s errand was cashing in my change at a Coinstar machine. The places that have them around me are all bike-hostile; mega shopping centers and the like. So my coins have been piling up for years now.

These things, it seems, are not money, or are money no longer:

A hand holding two chewed up pennies, a CR2032 battery, an arcade token, and a mysterious coin.

I should get a bank account here, in Minneapolis. I know. But aside from needing my coins counted it hasn’t mattered.

While feeding my coins through, no fewer than three people asked me “Do they charge a fee?” Yes, they do. It’s exorbitant. But now it’s done and I don’t care. You can pick a gift certificate with no fees, but I couldn’t see myself spending $130 at Applebee’s. The last time I was at an Applebee’s my traveling companion had gone to bed at 9pm so I walked across the hotel parking lot to an Applebee’s and got drunk on $2.50 Long Island Iced Teas (meaning I was tanked $7 later). $130 worth of late night happy hour Long Island Iced Teas at Applebee’s could kill a bridal party.

The money’s already spent, in my head, anyway. I bought a camera I don’t need this morning from a Craiglist ad. I’m on a film photography kick now. So if anybody wants to buy this camera in, say…April? May?…let a guy know.

A Nikon FE2 camera on a table with 8 rolls of film behind it.

My 2018 Playlist

A rock band performing on stage as viewed from the crowd.
Naked Giants opening for Car Seat Headrest at First Avenue

Early in the year I started an iTunes playlist called 2018. I added songs to it as it occurred to me. I didn’t really have a plan, but it ended up creating a portrait of my year.

Many tracks are new music that resonated with me. A few are old favorites that had particular relevance this year. I did just a bit of light editing (paring down to one track from any given album) and rearranging to taste.

Hope you find something new that ya like. Here’s the tracklisting:

  • Fly As I Dare – Shredders
  • How Did This Happen!? – Bodega
  • Stand By Me – Ki:Theory
  • Nont For Sale – Sudan Archives
  • We’re Alone – Naked Giants
  • Yr Throat – Jeff Rosenstock (favorite new song of the year)
  • Noid – Yves Tumor
  • What a Time to Be Alive – Superchunk
  • Sour Cherries – Kitten Forever
  • I Feel Energy (feat. Amber Mark) – Dirty Projectors
  • Barcelona City Tour – Mourn (favorite new band I saw live)
  • Aquarius – Starry Nights
  • Unbelievers – Ezra Furman
  • Depreston – Courtney Barnett
  • 22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version] – Bon Iver
  • Gold Rush – Death Cab for Cutie
  • Heaven – Charly Bliss
  • Sun In an Empty Room – The Weakerthans (theme song for the excellent Heavyweight podcast I discovered this year)
  • Everybody’s Coming to My House – David Byrne
  • Annihilation (feat. Sims) – Four Fists, P.O.S & Astronautalis

Thanks to Neil for the Google Play version!

Interview: The Write Stuff

Corey Gwin is building a writing app called Blurt. To promote the app, he’s been writing about writing. To promote my book, I’ve been tweeting about writing. I tweeted out one of the things he wrote, which made him notice me, and then he asked me to do a video interview for a series he’s doing to promote his app, which I was happy to do to promote my book. Ah, the virtuous cycle of online self-promotion 🙂 

I did it at the office, as my kitchen at home has all the visual personality of a corporate break room. The headset I’d planned to use was not working well, so I was glad I had my trusty Apple earbuds handy. Probably one of the better products they’ve ever made, dollar-to-value wise.

Write every day, yes, fine, I’m trying

My journal is full of entries, my Ulysses inbox is full of notions and half-starts. So I’m writing a lot. I’m writing a lot. Good. Great. But I’m not quite getting to what I want to with a lot of it. I want to be on that Austin Kleon wavelength, you know? That easy, collected, curious tone of a blog written by someone who knows what they’re into and what they’re about, and also knows what people are into about them.

This is maybe the fifth post I’ve started writing tonight. Gotta finish something to be able to publish something, so I’m gonna commit to publishing this one now and keep going.

The difficulty isn’t word making so much thing making. I can make the words go all damn day. The first draft of my book was twice as long as they wanted (whoops). So that’s not hard. Laborious maybe, but not hard. It’s the discipline, the shaping, guiding the words somewhere, toward a thing, a unit you can post and share and promote … or at least pick a damned title for. That’s hard. For me, anyway.

My buddy Rob tweeted recently about not trying to make his posts perfect, and instead just publishing more, which I think is a great sentiment. Perfectionism is a big bad in my productivity rogues’ gallery. But I don’t think that’s quite what I’m wrestling with lately.

“So what am I wrestling with?”, he asked himself, in the hopes of prompting an answer from within.

Yeah, not sure.

I think some of it, tonight especially, has been tripping over … what, ambition? Lack of discipline? Something that starts small and might make for a nice little post blooms out into stubs for several posts, or an idea for a project, or no wait maybe I’ll start a Twitter thread about this! So instead of one simple little finished thing I have five little unfinished things or one big unfinished thing, and in either case they’ve sort of sucked the air out of the room.

My experience with these things is that it’s often a matter of habit. Get used to stopping, proofing it, naming it, hitting publish. Sometimes to finish you’ve just got to stop. So let’s.

(Update: Wrote this several nights ago and not sure why I didn’t publish it? This is maybe a different problem.)

Pumpkin pie for one

I am reasonably certain I’ve never made a pie before. I knew I’d have a lot of time this weekend, and I freaking love pumpkin pie, so I made one. Used a store-bought gluten-free crust because I didn’t want to have two things to screw up. Got a two-pack of crusts for about $8 at Whole Foods.

I went with the straight-up classic back-of-the-can Libby’s recipe. It calls for ground cloves. A container of ground cloves at both stores near me was very costly, and the bulk buy section only had them unground. So now I own a stainless steel mortar and pestle.

Canned pumpkin, canned milk, all that good stuff.

Turned out pretty good. I should have blind-baked the crust about 10 minutes first, I think. I found competing opinions on this online, and the instructions on the crust package were somewhat ambiguous.

I was not prepared for how long it needed to cool so I didn’t cut my first piece until about 9pm last night. I also had really disturbing dreams. Related? Don’t know. Will repeat the experiment tonight, no doubt. So far it’s been breakfast and lunch today both, with some ham in between.

I spent Thanksgiving solo, which was fine. I am not immune to feeling lonesome but the holidays don’t do it to me in any particular way. Running or vending at Market Day for many Thanksgivings in a row meant that my only real Thanksgiving tradition was taping down electrical cords. I’ve been traveling a lot, and I have two more trips coming up in December, including to see my folks, and it’s been really nice to have nowhere to go for a few days. The apartment is very clean and I turned on my Nintendo Switch for the first time in about six months. (Splatoon 2, mostly.)