They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
2016 is fast approaching, and I managed to make it almost all the way through 2015 without writing a single post. This was not due to a lack of things to write about. 2015 was one of the more eventful years of my life. Using the excuse that I was ‘busy’ seems silly at this point though, so instead I’ll go with the idea that it’s much easier to make day-to-day updates on other social platforms and leave these long-form posts for deeper reflections.
Trying to summarize the past year feels nearly impossible. 2015 started with my wife, Brianna, and I freshly married and living in our small house in Minneapolis. We were spending most of our free time with our band and working on music. In February, we finally went on our honeymoon, spending 10 days in a roof-top apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Going from a frigid Minnesota winter to a (very) hot Argentinian summer was bewildering and amazing. We did our best to enjoy all the food, wine, art, music, and history Buenos Aires had to offer. We had a blast, and discovered some amazing new foods, wines, and artists.
During the rest of the spring, we played a lot of shows with the band, explored even more restaurants and bars in Minneapolis, and generally had a good time. I also spent a lot of time working on a long-form ambient composition that ended up being called “Oxide Memories.” I pulled in a number of talented musicians to help me work on it, and it launched me in a new music direction. I built a new website for my musical endeavors, and dove headlong into the world of tape loops, analog multi-tracking, audio processing, and minimalist ambient music.
In May, we adopted a puppy that needed a home. Her name is Loki, and she and her siblings were found in a dumpster in Mexico. Now she leads a life that alternates between adventure and leisure (mostly the latter).
With a new puppy to train (and play with), we filled up just about all of our time. Unfortunately, only a few months after getting our new pup, the company Brianna was working for unexpectedly laid-off most of its employees. This left us in a strange spot. Brianna was having trouble finding a new position, and we were both longing for a big change. Half jokingly, Brianna suggested that we move to the east coast, perhaps renting my family’s vacation home on Nantucket island. I was all for the idea, and soon I had made arrangements with my family. Brianna found a job on the island (I work remotely), and all of a sudden we decided to move halfway across the country to a island 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. After a three-day drive and a two-hour ferry, we made it to our new home.
Nantucket is a strange island. In the summer, it becomes the vacation spot of the rich and famous – the population swells to 80,000 and the tiny streets are crowded. The massive mansions by the beaches are full, and all the restaurants and boutiques are bustling. For those who live on the island year-round though, it’s a different story. During the winter, the population drops to around 10,000 and most of the restaurants and stores close down. The locals are just like the locals of any other small town, with most of them employed as construction workers, teachers, small shop owners, and commercial fishermen. During the colder months, the island is full of empty mansions and shuttered restaurants.
The island itself is beautiful though. Due to a huge conservation effort, at least a third of the landmass is protected and open to the public as wildlife preserves (around 14,000 acres total). This means there are hidden trails all over the island to explore, and the terrain is wildly varied, from desert-like expanses to thick wooded forests. This island has nearly everything.
In addition to the scenery being rustic, it’s also a forager’s dream come true. I’ve found many edible mushrooms, wild hazelnuts, wild grapes (innumerable), various different berries, sea vegetables, and of course, countless types of seafood. It’s amazing to be able to walk to the beach, throw a hook into the waves and pull out a fish. It’s equally incredible to be able to dig clams and scallops whenever I care to.
Since moving here, we’ve made jelly from wild grapes, beach plums, and autumn olives, as well as fresh cranberry sauce, lots of clam chowder, grilled fish, and scallops prepared many ways. In addition to the wild caught and foraged foods, there are a handful of farms on the island where we can buy fresh vegetables and eggs, and more than a few great fish mongers where we can get the best cod, flounder, striped bass, red snapper, and lobster that the ocean can offer. Lobster is cheaper here than chicken.
As the year comes to a close, I’m realizing just how much has changed. I’m also thinking about the goals I had when I started this blog. Here’s how I stack up now (in reverse order):
While I no longer play out regularly with a band, and no longer co-write pop songs, I do spend a lot of time thinking about and working on music. I’m currently working to improve my compositional skills and actively working on an album of minimalist themes. I’m also reading more than ever and regularly taking pictures (even if they’re just camera-phone pictures). I feel like I’m on a good path with my creative endeavors.
Living on an island so full of trails to explore while raising a puppy means doing a lot of walking, which is great. I do more walking now than I probably ever have in my life. It feels great to spend so much time in the outdoors. Ultimately, that isn’t enough physical activity though, and I still spend most of my day sitting. This next year I’m going to have to make a strong effort to get in shape before I hit my mid-30’s and it gets even harder. Eating healthy will remain a priority, as will maintaining my and my wife’s happiness. Being married means “being a better husband” will now always make an appearance on my new years’ resolutions.
I’m succeeding here more than ever before. I’m doing more hiking and foraging now, and we’ve managed to buy a good deal of our groceries from local farms. I always wish I could do more though. One of the problems with living on an island is that beef, chicken, and pork all have to be brought over from the mainland, as do so many of our “usual” grocery items. I see this as amazing practice, and wherever we end up in the coming years, I know all the knowledge I’m gathering will help me to live as close to nature as I can.
I’m no longer in a cubicle, and that alone is a major achievement in my book. I work from home, and have put together a comfortable office/studio to work in. My job still has its share of frustrations and I’m still working out what I want to be doing in 5 or 10 years, but at least I’m not in a cubicle. It’s too bad I can’t get paid to hike, fish, forage, and make music.
I’ll try to post again next year, maybe even sooner, who knows. For now, I’m just going to welcome 2016 with open arms.