Observations 2021-05-01

  • Casey and I making a trip to IKEA, trying not to be hubristic while believing we’re above the age-old “IKEA trips ruin relationships” story.
  • Dining on the Schaumburg Noodles & Company patio.

Observations 2021-05-02

  • Visiting a house with a room full of dozens of Guitar Hero and Rock Band guitar controllers.
  • Watching my cousin and his son ride unicycles.

Observations 2021-05-03

  • Building our first acoustical panels for the new studio.

Observations 2021-05-04

  • Fearing that I’ll accidentally burn Basil’s tiny lungs by Dutch oven-ing him while he’s sleeping between Casey and me.

Observations 2021-05-05

  • Anger is a poison, for sure. Makes your life, everyone else’s, worse. (Passionate opposition to injustice is different, but exactly how, I can’t articulate now.)

Observations 2021-05-06

  • My friend Vivian gave me a cutting of a plant with tiny, white, firm flower bulbs on it, so shiny they looked like plastic.

Observations 2021-05-07

  • The beautiful lavender-esque flowers and budding undergrowth at Funk’s Grove Nature Preserve, seen while Casey, Sima, Dorian, Kerry, and I walked Basil and Arpi.
  • The deflated golden balloon stuck in a tree outside our Airbnb in Columbia, Missouri, like a fallen stretch of space-station mylar.

Observations 2021-05-08

  • Playing with Liam and Ohmme at True/False Film Festival, our first real-audience shows back.
  • How I know that music festival season is returning: I pooped in a porta-potty while bassy PA speakers blared nearby.
  • Gothamist’s story about the gargantuan projects to expand and improve New York City’s nearly 200-year-old water tunnels, quoting a construction worker: “This is how big it is: my father worked on it. I worked on it from 1978 and am still working for it today. My son has worked on it. And the way we are going, his sons are liable to work on it.”

Observations 2021-05-09

  • On our way back to Chicago from Columbia, seeing a bald eagle get hit by a car. It was grazing on roadkill with some vultures when a car approached them in the lane opposite us. The vultures flew away, but the eagle was slow to launch because it’s so big. By the time it had lifted off the car was too close and clipped its wing; it spiraled out to the ground. Casey and I were horrified.
    • We pulled over to figure out how to help, and moments later a young sheriff happened to drive by. He took a look at the eagle, thought it was dead, but assured us (convincingly) he would drive up the hill to get cell service and call a wildlife org. (Why he couldn’t radio dispatch to call, I wasn’t sure.)
    • It was disturbing to see because all violence is disturbing, but also because the eagle is so huge and beautiful. It’s also hard to divorce the way you feel about a bald eagle from their status in our culture. Their status feels deserved.

Observations 2021-05-10

  • Nothing has cured me of perfectionism more than working on a DIY renovation project. After six months of toiling over little details, you arrive at a more sincere acceptance of “good enough.”
  • Watching the Roches on Soundstage with Dad.

Observations 2021-05-11

  • The woman in front of me in line at the grocery store (unprompted), to me: “Don’t get married.”
  • The guy pulling a grocery cart behind his bike, tipping it over as he tried to round a corner: “Fuck!”
  • The thwack of hitting a baseball, as I remember it from the one or two times I made contact in little league batting practice.
  • The suction of the car vacuum, unbearably loud, leaving my ears ringing.

Observations 2021-05-12

  • The hostas at the studio, donated by Jason’s family and planted by us right before winter, shocking us with their full bloom.

Observations 2021-05-13

  • Finishing Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts on a plane (first pandemic flight), crying…!
  • Basil staring up at me from his pet carrier throughout the whole flight, eyes glistening.
  • The thin vines growing like hair beneath an underpass in LA.

Observations 2021-05-14

  • The tree branches swaying outside our second-story Airbnb bedroom window, with nothing but sky behind them, making the room feel like a rolling ship.

Observations 2021-05-15

  • The best chile relleno I’ve ever had, at Nativo.

Observations 2021-05-16

  • Walking around the Melrose Trading Post flea market.

Observations 2021-05-17

  • The trauma of shoving Basil into his pet carrier, him fighting to get out fiercely but silently. Worrying he’ll never forgive us. (He did.)
  • The sadness and self-loathing and bad behavior and beauty in Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son.
  • The Lyft driver to Casey and me: “I hope you guys are married 50 years.” (A counterpoint to the grocery store woman.)

Observations 2021-05-18

  • Thinking about “the grind” versus work that feels easy, work that doesn’t feel like work at all. They seem contradictory but they’re just two different tools in the kit of making great stuff, I think.

Observations 2021-05-19

  • The delight of watching whirligigs fall to the ground. (I had forgotten they fall in the spring and so I was a little freaked when I saw them all over the ground.)

Observations 2021-05-20

  • The return of soupy humidity.

Observations 2021-05-21

  • Some vegan Korean soup… some tears… what better medicine is there?
    • The tears courtesy of Colette, an Oscar-winning short documentary about a former French resistance fighter.
  • The “PSYCHIC READER COMING SOON” sign in a former Catholic vestments store.
  • The two teen girls standing on the Metra tracks, filming each other flipping open a switchblade.

Observations 2021-05-22

  • Buying firewood from a woman as she danced in her yard to a haunting, spacey, cumbia song with her toddler daughter.

Observations 2021-05-23

  • The young boy and his parents releasing butterflies from a mesh cage in their front yard.

Observations 2021-05-24

  • A Tweedy Show episode dedicated to Bob Dylan, for his birthday.

Observations 2021-05-25

  • The needles on the bush in our studio courtyard, newly sprouted and soft enough to touch now.
  • Fred Neil’s self-titled.

Observations 2021-05-26

  • The semi-truck driving down our skinny city residential street, asking me for directions.

Observations 2021-05-27

  • The tow truck drivers, from different companies, waving to each other from across the intersection.

Observations 2021-05-28

  • First indoor show back! Playing drums for Sima Cunningham at Constellation.

Observations 2021-05-29

  • The sadness of someone diligently keeping their white shoes clean.
  • The cuteness of adolescent robins in their nest, scruffy feathers poking out.
  • The mind-boggling creative genius of grelley.
  • The fact that there are species of superdense wood that sink in water (via Craig Mod’s newsletter).

Observations 2021-05-30

  • The reopening of the Hungry Brain, beloved Chicago bar.
    • Taking an accidental flash photo during the band’s set.

Observations 2021-05-31