Alia and I listened to Hanif Abdurraqib’s Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest on a road trip, which was excellent and you should read it, and so I’ve been listening to a lot of A Tribe Called Quest, Lou Reed’s "Transformer," and the first Crosby, Stills, and Nash album (I have no explanation for this last one). I have’t done a good job keeping up with new music probably since high school, and though I used to feel some guilt about it in college, I’ve been happy enough to find things I like slowly and on my own time. I don’t have much more to say about this except I’m happy to be listening to what I’m listening to this week.

It’s been busy.

We were in the midwest for most of last month visiting family and doing family things and also getting ready for Alia’s home bakery to open. For my part, this has meant building the website, which as of this writing isn’t up yet but will go live sometime tomorrow evening. I built the main site of it using very similar technologies to what I use to build this site, but because she needed a way to take online orders, I built a Flask app, which meant I was constantly confusing [object].length and len([object]) when switching between the front-end (JavaScript) and the back-end (Python). But I’ve learned a lot in the process so that’s been good: form submission, validation, email sending, all kinds of good (if simple, so far as web apps are concerned) stuff. I’m not quite done yet but getting close. The deployment and so on is all automated, too, so updates will be easy (yay).

As a small sidebar, I’ve been trying to (finally) make the switch from Atom to VS Code. Why? In part because you still can’t get Atom on the Raspberry Pi, which has more or less turned into my main personal computer now that Alia and I are sharing my old laptop (which she needs more often for business reasons), but mostly because VS Code does a few things better so far as my job is concerned (a very simple example: telling me ahead of time when the heading levels in a document are out of whack, or if there’s a bad URI). I’m sure Atom does those things too, but it’s a little less out of the box.

The thing I liked about Atom though was that beautiful file: a lazy would-be-editor-hacker’s dream. VS Code wants you to make an extension. Ideally it wants you to write that extension in TypeScript. So I’ve finally gotten around to doing some of that, since it’s the part of my ongoing 6-month cycle of relearning JavaScript in which I actually kind of know some JavaScript, and so TypeScript has (so far) been easy enough to pick up (at least so far as the minimal amount I need to know to rewrite my Atom commands for VS Code). You can see what poor progress I’m making on the GitHub repo. We’ll see if it’s ever good enough to publish.

The bigger thing I’ve been thinking about though has more to do with my time and my phone, namely, that I spend too much of it there. And I’m not really so-so bad, in truth. I’m pretty good about it in person: I’m not someone who looks at my phone when I’m out and out with friends. But I do check it a lot at odd moments when otherwise I could just be letting my mind wander (e.g., on the toilet). I miss my mind wandering. I think a part of it is that I have been stuck at home and not on or waiting for the bus or the T, have not been bike commuting (which is its own kind of wandering).

I’m back to working in some kind of office (i.e,. various WeWorks around Boston — a topic for another time), so I’m back to commuting, and it’s really really nice, and I’m enjoying having the headspace again. One of the things I appreciated most about Abdurraqib’s book was the mediations, the way(s) he connected the music to his personal history to larger cultural and societal tropes (the quick, trans-Atlantic cultural history of the music’s roots near the beginning of the book was fucking beautiful (among other passages)). I’m not that kind of storyteller: I don’t really work with mythologies and cultural legacies as much (or rather, explicitly: all that shit is there all the time, you know?), but I want to borrow something of the headspace, of the drawn lines. I think I used to do that — I think I’m capable of it — but I haven’t had the headspace or the energy for much of that or any writing lately.

All of which is to say that I’ve deleted all the social media apps off my phone in the hope that, once I get this website built, I can have the headspace for work on the writing again.

So far as the self-expression thing that one in theory uses social media for (HA!), I’m going to try to stick to this here blog. It’s more like writing, you know?

Obviously, I’m still going to log onto Twitter and whatever via a web browser; I may still look at IG on my phone; I’m going to see about actually deleting my FB account though, because I genuinely never use it and want to stop feeling guilty for missing messages from months ago the few times I do log in. But the point is I’m trying to unlearn the itch to pull out the stupid screen every time I have a spare moment without some explicit task.

It probably won’t last so long / but we’ll see how it goes.