Observations 11-1-19

  • The joy of sweeping up leaves indoors and knowing that you’re helping make the place cleaner, even if you don’t get every single leaf.
  • Almost crying at Henry Thomas’s E.T. audition tape.

Observations 11-2-19

  • Establishing a war room for my recent zits. Casey is the general. I’m the subordinate. We’ll make a tactical excursion to Ulta soon.

Observations 11-3-19

  • Loose Shoes and Tight Pussy by Alex Chilton. Horrible name, great record (via Sammy).
  • Spotting the coyote at the end of our block again.

Observations 11-4-19

  • Playing drums for Casey (Case Oats) at Sleeping Village to a heartwarmingly attentive audience!

Observations 11-5-19

  • Learning about the tonbak, a Persian drum, from the Hidden Drummers of Iran documentary. (Look up esfahan_tonbak_arefacademy on Instagram.)
  • Bob Dylan’s Q&A with Bill Flanagan from 2017.
    • “The melody in [‘There’s a Flaw in My Flue’] is kind of like the background in the Mona Lisa painting, a mystical, phantasmagorical fantasy land. To me that’s the real painting, like a science fiction world. The person looking at me is just a face …”
  • Almendra’s self-titled album.

Observations 11-6-19

  • The woman on the sidewalk whom I thought was wearing a Deadmau5 mouse mask, but who in fact had a laundry bag balanced on her head.
  • Doing sound for a very sweet father-and-son free jazz group, the Michael Formanek Duo.
    • How, when a double bass player bows the bass, the bow plays the bass but the bass also plays the bow… man.

Observations 11-7-19

  • The New Hovering Dog by BJ Cole.

Observations 11-8-19

  • Stepping on crunchy frozen grass.

Observations 11-9-19

  • At an Andy Warhol-themed event, watching a man in a period-incorrect blond afro wig amusingly but horribly yell at the event’s DJ for playing period-correct records — an “I can’t believe anyone could behave this way” moment.
  • Yanyi’s interview in the Creative Independent: “I realized that creativity is not in the business of being productive.”

Observations 11-10-19

  • Feeling skeptical that dogs’ noses are as sensitive as people say they are.

Observations 11-11-19

  • Shoveling snow with Mom.

Observations 11-12-19

  • Mapping out an essay with notecards on a bulletin board like it’s 1400 BCE.

Observations 11-13-19

  • The typo in a text from an acquaintance: “have a good nugget.”
  • The moment, while looking at your olive drab shirt, olive drab belt, olive drab watch band, and olive drab carry-on bag, when you realize that you’re like one of those military geeks who wore fatigues to high school.

Observations 11-14-19

  • The Wilco show in St. Lous — Basil’s first.

Observations 11-15-19

  • Taking the Amtrak train home to Chicago, like a quaint little pioneer.
    • Passing a gravestone shop called Grieff’s.
    • Smelling a smell in Union Station that, for one super brief moment, seemed to change my entire experience of the world — like a whole new feeling of life in one second. It’s weird how smells can do that.
  • Kim Gordon’s No Home Record and Mohammed Reza Mortazavi’s Ritme Jaavdanegi (thanks Billy-John).
  • Rebecca Solnit in Hope in the Dark: “The apocalypse is always easier to imagine than the strange circuitous routes to what actually comes next.”

Observations 11-16-19

  • Looking at a picture of my high school class with Mom and naming as many of my classmates as I could, worrying that if my memory were like a balloon, I was letting the air out of it by doing so?!
  • An amazing record: A Tabua de Esmeralda by Jorge Ben.

Observations 11-17-19

  • My coworker schlepping, in a reusable grocery bag, a small TV with antennae to watch the football game at the bar.

Observations 11-18-19

  • The dump truck with a bunch of rubber flaps strung beneath it, like scales on a centipede’s underbelly.
  • Getting more and more uncomfortable with the cognitive dissonance of driving while despising oil companies — not because of my individual car’s emissions, but because I’m complicit in those companies’ horrible practices when I buy gas from them.

Observations 11-19-19

  • Feeling emotionally wrung out from reading Denis Johnson’s The Largesse of the Sea Maiden before bed — the letters from a rehab patient to his family especially.

Observations 11-20-19

  • Finally realizing, after 11 months of working in a bar, that I can make Shirley Temples for myself whenever I want.

Observations 11-21-19

  • The older man watching videos of trains on an iPad, in a booth in a diner.

Observations 11-22-19

  • The “high tea” service in the St. Paul Hotel’s lobby reminding me exactly of the way my grandma and grandpa’s house in Belleville smelled (though they didn’t serve tea).
  • The woman on the train carrying a plant in a Tupperware container.
  • The Lyft driver who said he could tell I was a drummer from my hair.

Observations 11-23-19

  • Getting chocolate rocks and black licorice at a 100-plus-year-old candy store with my friend Willa.

Observations 11-24-19

  • Eve Ewing’s interview in The Creative Independent.

Observations 11-25-19

  • The 18th annual 24-hour improv and music benefit at Second City.

Observations 11-26-19

  • The 18th annual 24-hour improv and music benefit at Second City (continued).

Observations 11-27-19

  • The ten or so different blinking pattern settings on a cheap set of LED holiday lights, and wondering who came up with them.
  • “Girl Don’t Tell Me” by the Beach Boys.

Observations 11-28-19

  • How, when you’re working on a big writing project, reading an author you love can feel like they’re there next to you, helping you write.

Observations 11-29-19

  • Staying inside all day to write, and only leaving the house to help Mom bring Costco groceries inside.

Observations 11-30-19

  • The Orthodox Jewish man (with tzitzi) at a bar, dancing to house music, clapping on the downbeats.
  • Getting a splinter from peppermint bark.