Observations is a daily blog published on a not-so-daily basis by Spencer Tweedy.
I owe it all to the guy eating whole dill pickles out of a ziplock bag in Union Park, Chicago, July 2018.
I was working at a music festival in the park when he walked by, handlebar mustache, all-brown outfit (broutfit), pickle bag and all. There was something so exciting, so picturesque about him, I had to write it down. So I did. And then I wrote down other things about my day, and about the day after that, and after that. And I haven’t stopped since.
I had been looking for a reason to start writing on the internet again, anyway. My friend Heather Whinna bought this domain name for me in 2004, when I was about nine, because she didn’t want it to get gobbled up by porn sites (a fate which she thought, reasonably, was likely for all un-purchased domains in 2004). I used it to blog from ages twelve to sixteenish and it became a really important part of my life during that time. I grew up feeling connected to people (mostly Wilco fans) because I had an outlet here.
But at some point, blogging started to feel weird. I’m not sure if it was the shift to social media, or if I just became more private, but I lost the motivation to do it. And it took this bullet-pointy way of writing, and the Pickle Man, to make me start again.
The limitations of OBSERVATIONS make it easier for me to write.
The bullet points remind me to keep every item to its topic sentence, which I find harder to do in full paragraph form. And in an anal, analytic sort of way, they help me feel like I’m getting the full list of my ideas across, even if I recognize that the mind is an amorphous blob and there’s no such thing as the “full list” of ideas in the first place.
The high-minded-sounding, unwritten prefix, “I observed…,” helps me write about stuff that’s external to me. It also allows me to avoid the rote diary-writing question of “What did I do today?” There are people who can answer that question beautifully and interestingly, but I’ve never felt like one of them. Maybe more than anything, this process of fitting everything into a box behind “I observed…” has helped me feel like blogging is fun and hopefully not too vain again.
Writing OBSERVATIONS has had other health benefits for me. My mind feels clearer when I have a single, unified place for the stuff I want to write down. Of course, that can also bring me back to the fallacy I mentioned earlier, that it’s possible to collect your thoughts into a perfect, absolute account. But there’s still something helpful about having a running narrative in one dependable place. I feel more oriented when I can situate thoughts there (here).
So that’s what this blog is doing for me—thank you, Pickle Man, thank you, Heather—and I hope it does something positive for you, too. Either way, thanks for stopping by and reading!
OBSERVATIONS is generated by Jekyll, managed with Siteleaf, hosted on Netlify (via GitHub), secured by Let’s Encrypt, and registered with iWantMyName. The newsletter runs on Buttondown. And there’s just one cookie on the site: a stats tracker from Quantcast. I want a cookie-less alternative, but for now, the service satisfies my goal of avoiding Google Analytics.
I write notes and posts in Bear (using Markdown) and Field Notes. I designed the site in Sketch and I develop it in Sublime Text.
OBSERVATIONS is set in ISO by Scribble Tone. The asterisk logo is “Connections” and the list markers are a modified “Star” from the Noun Project.
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