Observations 1-1-20

  • Going to the Korean market with Casey — our anniversary tradition.
    • Starting 2020 with spicy Korean soup in my stomach and on my shirt.
  • My neck hurting from rocking [12-31-19].

Observations 1-2-20

  • Reading weightlifting advice on a fitness site for women because the writing on fitness sites for men is so unbearable. And because: who cares?

Observations 1-3-20

  • The street cleaning vehicle parked in front of the liquor store.
  • The emergency siren that climbed in chromatic steps like a synthesizer.

Observations 1-4-20

  • The used car lot that plays a recording of seagulls in distress to deter them from pooping on the cars.
  • A film studio’s floor-to-ceiling rack of carefully organized C-clamps.

Observations 1-5-20

  • This super haunting song, “Potter’s Field,” by Alice Swoboda.
  • The sounds on 3:47 EST by Klaatu (via Dad).

Observations 1-6-20

  • The study that shows a sample of women’s voices lowered by 23 hertz since 1945, possibly as a result of changing social roles.

Observations 1-7-20

  • Hearing Mavis (“Ain’t No Doubt About It”) in the grocery store.

Observations 1-8-20

  • Kyle Chayka’s awesome essay about minimalism, “Being in Nothingness,” in Harper’s Magazine.
  • The NYTimes short doc about the Liverbirds, an all-women Liverpudlian rock band from the sixties.

Observations 1-9-20

  • The elementary school student riding home from school on a hoverboard.

Observations 1-10-20

  • Feeling pathologically incapable of listening to board game instructions.

Observations 1-11-20

  • How there’s often graffiti even in fancy restaurants’ bathrooms. (Life finds a way.)
  • Casey refusing to dance to “Don’t Stop Believin’” at a holiday party, affirming my love for her.

Observations 1-12-20

  • Trying to express this idea more clearly: When you consider how many people there are in the world and how much stuff is going on in their heads, it’s amazing that you could ever look out on a night in a city and hear silence.

Observations 1-13-20

  • A mountain to move: getting everyone to back up their data and switch to persistent file formats [a la 12-17-18].

Observations 1-14-20

  • The deliciously 1950s type on the cover of Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, a self-help book by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone.

Observations 1-15-20

  • Two transcription software error gems: “a squirt for my friends,” “pumpkin hardcore.”

Observations 1-16-20

  • Alain de Botton’s A Week at the Airport’s awesome middle ground between austere, concise writing and ornate, clever writing.
  • Turning into a restaurant’s parking lot and someone — maybe a security guard — shining a green laser into my eyeballs. I was so mad. It felt violent!

Observations 1-17-20

  • The tall, tropical plant in the window that flailed so wildly in the wind at night I thought it was a peeper.

Observations 1-18-20

  • Casey’s special ability to name stray lizards on the fly.
  • The handwritten set lists, Corvette-shaped pool table, ceiling-mirror bed, sticky pleather pillows, and signature hat display of the Bret Michaels suite at Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.

Observations 1-19-20

  • Anya Ventura’s Baffler article about the for-profit Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Observations 1-20-20

  • Playing at Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky Festival in Riviera Maya, Mexico!

Observations 1-21-20

  • While sea kayaking, Casey and me scooping up a bug from the ocean surface onto our kayak, letting them hitch a ride to shore. Hoping that they wanted to be on shore, that we hadn’t scooped them away from home.

Observations 1-22-20

  • Walking around Mexico City.
    • The impossibly sad-sounding organ grinders.
    • The denimed-out teenagers playing metal guitar to a track.
    • The moms with blankets, breastfeeding and changing diapers.
    • The blues bands.
    • Lots of open making out.

Observations 1-23-20

  • Burning my tongue on street elotes.
  • Ordering horchata at the cafe on the eighth floor of the Sears across the street from the Palace Museum, just to get a view of its golden dome.
  • The air trapped between two glass panes in a signage panel at the Palace Museum looking like a Rorschach test.

Observations 1-24-20

  • The zillions of business-to-business stores selling construction tools, emergency vehicle lights, and restaurant refrigerators in Mexico City.
  • The gondolas at Xochimilco.
    • Ordering full meals and gallon-sized micheladas from vendor gondolas that sidled up and docked next to ours while they prepared our stuff.
    • The pulque bars, serape sellers, mariachi bands, and marimba players on their own floating stores and stages.
    • The high school students dancing and drinking mini bottles of SKYY vodka with straws on a party gondola.
    • The Venus flytraps and reptile riverside attractions we elected to skip.

Observations 1-25-20

  • Buying a shirt from the Scouts de México store with Mom. Then, running into a Scout meeting in a park, feeling grateful I wasn’t wearing my new uniform (lest I get mistaken for an eight-year-old Scout).
  • The street quesadilla seller making tortillas from scratch with gray putty-like dough dug out of a bucket.
  • Doing the accidental-flash-photo thing at a show (a Wilco show!) for maybe the first time ever, and the Hubble Telescope-esque red-hot photo of the inside of my hand I have to show for it.

Observations 1-26-20

  • How the term “conscious hip-hop” seems super offensive.

Observations 1-27-20

  • The grocery store employees having a hard time moving a giant potato chip display, bickering like an Abbott and Costello skit.
  • How a solar energy company moved into the former Standard Oil building (via NYTimes).

Observations 1-28-20

  • Tonika Johnson’s Folded Map Project, which shows images of mirror addresses on Chicago’s north-south axis (e.g. 6720 S. Ashland and 6720 N. Ashland) to “reveal the inequity … how Chicago’s legacy of segregation has impacted the neighborhoods.” And her “map twin” portraits, which “introduc[e] people living on different sides of the city and ge[t] them to really talk with each other — that’s how the map becomes ‘folded’ and ‘touches.’”

Observations 1-29-20

  • Buying a lightbulb, a washboard, and a plunger at CAS Hardware, a neighborhood hardware store going out of business after 41 years.
    • The brightly colored packaging and amazing typography on all the new old stock in its aisles.
  • Putting a hat on a pile of clothes and worrying that the pile would come alive… because I put a hat on it.

Observations 1-30-20

  • Starting a whole new skincare regimen under the supervision of Casey, a specialist.

Observations 1-31-20

  • The joy of using keys made out of high-quality, non-bendy steel (cut by CAS Hardware [1-29-20])
  • Another day, another stranger who says I look like Toby McGuire.