august 2021



What a long strange journey it has been.  After landing the house, the Great Waiting Game of 2021 began, in which we waited patiently and then impatiently for our closing day on August 25.  In the lead up to that day, we would be at the beck and call of mortgage agents checking up on our finances and visiting every Home Depot and literally every furniture store in the Twin Cities (sometimes twice) in the search for new bathroom and kitchen fixtures, a new couch and a bed.  After you make a big purchase like a house, they tell you not to make any big purchases, like a bed or a couch or fixtures, because you want to be able to close on your closing day and like still be able to pay all those fees.  So, it was what felt like an entire year of waiting and searching. Turns out, it was only a month!

On the work front, I got to attend pre-orientation at my new school district with the new English Language teacher who was hired, also from out of state.  In the first 30 minutes of that meeting, we both discovered that our job would not consist of teaching at one school.  No, for her, she'd be teaching at two different schools 25 miles apart.  And for me?  Oh, well, I would be teaching at 4 different schools.  On MWF, I'd be teaching at one school in the morning and another in the afternoon.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I'd be teaching at 3 different schools, shuffling from one to the other to the other. 

The poor mentor who told us this was racked with anxiety because he felt like it was a) unfair and b) fucked up that everyone in the district apparently delegated and deflected the task down to him, 3 weeks before we were supposed to start school.  It's funny that this didn't come up once in the interview and they never even asked if I had reliable transportation, which seems like it would be necessary for doing this job successfully?  The mentor told me that the plan was to hire 3 EL teachers, but the finance person left at the end of last year, as did the superintendent, and the new superintendent didn't want to rock the boat by asking for money to hire the planned 3rd teacher.  So, that becomes the folks on the lowest rung of the ladder's problem — the teachers like me tasked with trying to do a reasonably good job in that totally unreasonable situation — and the students, who are always our number one priority, right?  The American public education system remains alive and unwell!

As the Kill Bill sirens were going off in my head, I decided to check the job board and see if there was anything else — just in case.  I was about to sign a mortgage, though, so it's not like I could change jobs that easily.  However, I am not one to just take some bullshit lying down.  I will at least sit up to take the bullshit.  I applied to a job at a city school in Minneapolis with a big student population and lots of English Learners.  I got interviewed, and then offered the job.  And then I had to make a life-altering decision in the middle of a bunch of other life-altering decisions, which is not as fun as it sounds!



Can you even believe? Artwork by Theo Lorenz, the best.

Can you even believe? Artwork by Theo Lorenz, the best.

By this time, it was time to close on the house which was an amazing feeling and an amazing day.  Our realtor and overall master of all trades, Theo, presented us with the keys to Elaine, our new house, and also a waterpainted masterpiece of Mr. Tito Abundance himself, hard at work as he is every day of his life.  I shrieked when I saw it, and I'm glad Theo waited until the notary was out of the room because she might have been like "you weirdos don't deserve a house" had she seen my full reaction.

After going back into my original district for another meeting, and listening to my mentor lament more about his low morale, I was pretty sure I needed to listen to my intuition and not ignore all of the red flags waving around me. Plus, by now I had signed the mortgage, so it didn't really matter what job I had because I am on the hook for those payments. So, I spoke with my supervisor, who lied to my face and told me he had no idea how the scheduling happened (on day 1, my mentor forwarded me an email from June showing that the supervisor was the one who put the schedule plan in motion...) and I just went ahead and asked if I could resign.  Their weak ass HR department tried to hold me to the contract, but after I completed my exit interview they "clearly can't hold [me] prisoner and don't want to stop [me] from acting in [my] best interest."  So, I resigned and accepted the job at the other school. And that is how you at least sit up to take the bullshit.

When we got to our house on closing day, we saw a card from the previous owners family, which wished us well in the home that they had the fondest memories of, the home that they visited their grandparents and aunt while growing up, baking cookies and playing in with all of their cousins.  I shed a single tear, Diego said "Awww, that was so nice," and we then proceeded to rip the toilet, sink, and bathtub from the bathroom.  Thanks for the memories!



Me and Diego

Me and Diego

Diego and I have animorphed into Tim the Tool Man Taylor and his gay lover Al.  Patricia Heaton moved to Texas and made abortion illegal, I guess.  We have since commenced the minor (?) aforementioned renovation process to bring Elaine's kitchen and bathroom into the 21st century, in addition to things like, oh having internet cables installed since Elaine lived without cable or internet for her whole life???... Literally, we were the ones to get that installed. In 2021.  God bless Elaine.

Now, it is already September and we have a lot of work ahead of us before we move in for good by October 1.  A big shoutout to all of our friends who have renovated their homes or rooms before us and gave us a reality check that we're in for a nightmare.  Luckily, we can't sleep!

All in all, it is such a privilege (and responsibility — did I mention the crushing weight of responsibility?) to be in this position and to own a little piece of something that will be ours.  We're trying to remember that, enjoy the process, and laugh at how ridiculously overwhelmed we are from time to time.  Thankfully, watching the entire run of Superstore has been our nightly ritual this month and it's been a happy place to unwind. Watch it if you haven't seen it already.

Here's an exclusive clip of Diego and I on our first day in our house after realizing we just bought a house.

Check out our mood boards and inspiration if you're feeling this fantasy...


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july 2021

From the first of July onward our lives got a little easier day bidet.  By easier, I guess I mean less intense. We made it to a nice hotel outside of Toledo, Ohio with an indoor pool.  We were able to rest our aching bones, catch up on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and ponder why Denise Richards received an onslaught of suspicion, derision and torment for possibly having a threesome, and yet Erika Jayne is "a good person" who also just happens to probably be complicit in stealing millions from widows, orphans and burn victims.  Such are the questions that keep you up at night when your brain-melt of choice is the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  We swam in the indoor pool, much to the chagrin of the 9 year old girls who whispered and giggled at us from the other side of the pool.  I just went through hell and I was not about to let those little girls bully me out of the pool.  They left because it was probably their bed time and Diego and I got to swim around and enjoy a whole 30 minutes of uninterrupted family fun.

On Friday we were back on the road, which mostly were the terribly dilapidated roads of Indiana. The only thing I could think of was that we are fucked with Mayor Pete as our Transportation Secretary cause Indiana's highways are in shambles, people.  Gays in charge of infrastructure and transportation?  The only thing transportation-related gays are good at is walking fast.

We made it all the way up past Madison, Wisconsin as the 4th of July vacationers slowly trickled onto the highways throughout the day, making driving a U-Haul with our car attached a bit more annoying.  We stayed at an insanely expensive Quality Inn where our feet stuck to the carpeted floor and we ordered Pizza Hut and Diego pulled another tick out of his hair. As a recovering alcoholic I am ashamed to admit that no, even that did not beat my rock bottom.

On Saturday, the Holy Land was within reach.  Just a few more hours to our destination: a U-Haul facility where we could unload our possessions that weren't left on the street in Brooklyn.  It was there that I used the bathroom and peed all over the sleeve of the shirt that was tied around my waist and I thought to myself "Who the hell do I think I am, moving across the country?"

We unloaded our shit and Derrick from U-Haul delayed our departure by another 20 minutes by engaging in what we would come to know as the Minnesota Goodbye.

Finally, at like 4pm, we arrived at our new furnished studio apartment.  We'll be staying here until we find a house and luckily it is a total 180 from our Brooklyn pre-war, cockroach-infested apartment.  For starters, it's brand new! It has a dishwasher! It has laundry in the actual unit! There is a rooftop with a grill and firepit! It's like the Soho House but in downtown Minneapolis.  Tito's explosive diarrhea slowly started to dissipate and we were able to get out and see some of Minneapolis.

By seeing some of Minneapolis, I mean we made 4 trips to Target in as many days. Some initial observations after living in NYC for over a decade: holy shit, everything is big. Like, I could walk with my arms outstretched through a Target aisle and not hit anyone for hours.  I think we kept returning to Target because it was the biggest Target we'd ever seen.  Also, Target in NYC is a hellscape.  Target in the burbs is...heaven.  There is actual space here —  on the streets, in the yards, in the grocery stores.  I am living my best suburban fantasy in an actual city.

We decided to regain some normalcy by checking out Zola at the Landmark Lagoon movie theater.  Zola was interesting — it felt poetic, unique from other movies I'd ever seen, and jolting like the original tweets if lacking a little bit of her initial charm.  I'm still thinking about it a few weeks later. 

Parents! 5 days! Maybe too much?
Parents! 5 days! Maybe too much?

Later that week, my parents came to visit and help us look at our very first houses.  My dad insisted on being there to help me know what to look out for and what problems to avoid, etc.  That was extremely kind and I'm very grateful for that because it was ultimately helpful!  They stayed for 5 days.  When I got sober, I made a decision that 3 days is my limit for family visits.  I am now more certain than ever that 3 days is my limit for family visits, even when they're being very generous and helpful.

On our first weekend of looking, we saw 8 houses.  The first house we looked at on the "secret" MLS website for realtors belonged to a hoarder (bless their heart) and featured a noose hanging in their basement.  We decided not to go see that one.  Instead, the first house we viewed in real life had a bullet hole through the front porch window and lodged into the siding next to the front door.  Bless their hearts also.  House hunting.  We had truly arrived.

Starting things off right.
Starting things off right.

Diego and I really want an old house with original woodwork, so we got to see lots of houses with "skate parks" as our fucking amazing realtor Theo calls them — floors that go up and down and are warped into oblivion for various reasons.  Theo also happens to be an artist and they wrote and designed a coloring book I own called Unicorns Are Jerks.

By that Saturday, we had only been in Minnesota for one full week and we had already seen 8 houses.  By Sunday, we'd put an offer in on a house because we are truly b-a-n-a-n-a-s.  It felt like a long shot, but it stood out like a glittery, non-jerkish unicorn compared to the noose house and other houses we'd seen.  We figured the worst that can happen is that we'd get rejected on our first weekend of looking.

Bye bye Mom and Dad, thanks for everything!
Bye bye Mom and Dad, thanks for everything!

And rejected we were!  By Tuesday, my parents left (2 days later than they should have) and we had to do Olivia Rodrigo things like get our new driver's licenses.  That weekend, we went for more and by our 2nd week in Minnesota, we'd seen 13 houses and put another offer in on a long-shot dream home.

We were, of course, rejected again.  I don't know if you've heard, but buying a house right now is a stupid, stupid, horrible, foolish idea, just like pretty much anything else millennials ever do, apparently.  Everything I've read (which might be everything that exists on the subject, to be honest) tells me we're in for a long haul with multiple rejections, especially because we refuse to buy a house without inspecting it, which is apparently a thing people are doing. Could not ever be me.

Proud? You betcha.
Proud? You betcha.

In between looking at houses on our 2nd weekend, we went to our first Twin Cities Pride festival.  It was there that I found the perfect outlet for blowing off real estate steam: a queer rugby team!  I had always wanted to join one of these things in New York but I was incredibly intimidated.  But I'm a new woman in Minnesota, and so I decided to go for it.

It was so. much. fun! I've only been to one practice, but I'm hooked for life. You can find me on the internet watching rugby videos, researching why cleets are a thing, and looking for cheap used rugby balls. This is me now!

On our third weekend in Minnesota, we looked at more houses, including our newly revised dream house with beautiful original woodwork, a retro kitchen, and a completely unfinished upstairs that could be literally anything we want it to be.  Feeling totally defeated, we put our lowest offer yet in on the house and already the tension was getting to us.

How bizarre, then, was it when we were returning the next day from our self-care lake trip that we got a text from Theo letting us know that...

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june 2021

We started the month off still in Brooklyn, NY, awaiting a deluge of visits from family members anxious to get their New York City fix one last time before we departed. I'm writing to you now from the couch in our new temporary apartment in Minneapolis, Minnesota and boy, are my arms tired.


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thank you new york city

Thank you to New York City for allowing me to blossom into my queerness, which is what I will always love and appreciate you for.  My initial judgments of those more femme and queer than me, which were really jealousy disguised as disgust, set free so I could be who I yearned to be and who I will continue to become.  Thank you to NYC for showing me that I could wear short shorts and traipse down the street, that every street was a catwalk if I wanted it to be.


Thank you to Nick and Kerrie and Irene for welcoming me to New York and being my first new co-workers and friends.  Thank you for supporting me without judgment in the terrible mistakes I made and for seeing beyond my youth and immaturity to advocate for me.  Thank you for giving me my start in working directly with queer young people, setting in motion who I am today.


Thank you to Sistah Bitch, Matt. Thank you for being my first New York City roommate.  Thank you for many nights watching TV, helping make our apartment a home, and for your patience with me and my antics.  Thank you for bearing witness to the insane homophobic and sexual harassment of our super. I am sorry I failed you in so many ways and that I could not be more of the friend and support you needed.


Thank you to John and Courtney and Elizabeth and Casey for providing me with friendship and my first truly magical New York memories and family.  Thank you for giving me a place to crash on Leonard Street, for all the nights at Metropolitan and lord knows where else, and for tolerating my antics.


Thank you to Jack, my first New York crush and a one night stand that lit a spark in my imagination of what my life and what love could be like for me outside of North Carolina.  Thank you for introducing me to Roisin Murphy though I was not ready at the time.  Thank you for trying to keep me around even though I didn't know how to do that.


Thank you to Javier, my wild fling in the height of my delusion.  I was not ready for reality, and neither were you.  Thanks for giving me a detour into a fabulous life, for the fun and frivolity we shared, and the salacious memories.


Thank you Andrew for giving me my first real gay friends outside of North Carolina.  Thank you for having boundaries with someone who had none at the time.  Thank you for your generosity, your patience, for introducing me to your friends and giving me the nights out dancing without any cares in the world.  When I look back on my time in New York, you are a central part of it.  I did not appreciate you enough when you were my friend and I did not know how to keep our friendship going after I got sober, but that's not your fault.  I am sorry that I was not the friend I should have been to you, and I will never ever forget the kindness, fun, and respect you gave me even when I was the biggest mess on earth.


Thank you Kelli for being there for me, poking and prodding me constantly, for being fiercely strong and demanding more from where we worked.  You showed me how important it was to be unrelenting in your advocacy for the people you were tasked with serving.  You gave me intense love and support when I was in the highs of my addictions.  I am sorry that my addiction hurt you.  Thank you for leaving my life and not trying to reconnect when our time was done.  I learned so much about what was acceptable and not acceptable in my relationships, both in how I treated others and how you treated me.


Thank you Emily and Meagan and Steve for your commitment to fun, adventure and travel.  Thank you for giving me a place to stay when I had no home, for taking me on trips both psychedelic and grounded to the earth.  Thank you for not giving up on me in New Orleans.  Thank you for letting me go and leaving my life when our time was done.


Thank you to Jason for the generosity, being a house mother, being one of the really nicest and most welcoming people I met in New York City.  I am sorry that I didn't know how to keep a friendship going after I got sober.  You welcomed me into your group, you looked out for me, you were a fantastic friend to me.  Thank you for being unapologetic about your fabulousness, femininity and queerness.  It showed me that people will make assumptions about us and that those people are not the ones for us.


Thank you Kassie for loving me and being my friend as I came into my own as a teacher, thrown into the deep end thanks to New York City Teaching Fellows and for all your curiosity, open-mindedness about my life and experiences, and for your vulnerability.  Thank you for being fully in touch with your emotions and helping me know and feel certain that our emotions and sensitivity are strengths and not weaknesses.


Thank you to Lindsay and Tom and Alex for welcoming me into your friend group through Diego with open arms, for staying the course with me and loving me as I changed and shed old habits.  Thank you for staying my friend through my recovery and for becoming my chosen family.   Thank you for your endless generosity, for your commitment to Diego and I, for the amazing gifts you gave, for dancing at Callbox Lounge and everywhere else, for concerts, for dinners, for sharing all of yourselves with us.


Alex, thank you for showing me Barnaby and accepting that his new name would be Tito.


Thank you to my visitors from other places — Mike, Kyle, Chance, Sarah, Stephen, Heather — for being vital to the memories I created in New York.  It was through you that I created lasting memories in New York with people I loved from before my life there, and it's through you that those memories will remain.


Thank you to the Patricia Field store (RIP), to Agave for bottomless brunch, to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (my mom's favorite), to Koko Ramen, to Spectrum bar where Diego and I had our first date, to Bartini, to Berlin, to Nowhere Bar, to the Cock, to Eastern Bloc, to Metropolitan and your cookouts and dance parties, to Clubber Down Disco in the Chelsea Hotel, to Webster Hall and Radio City Music Hall and the Music Hall of Williamsburg.  No thank you to Terminal 5, you suck.  Thank you to nights dancing at Mondo NYC, the Callbox Lounge, to Fire Island Cherry Grove ONLY (none for you the Pines, even though Prab*l Gurung gave me his number at the meat market). Thank you to all the places I ventured into but forgot because hello, I was an active alcoholic!


Thank you to BAM and to Broadway, where I saw trash like Anastasia: The Musical (thanks Mom!) but also Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell!), Angels in America (...ugh, Andrew Garfield), Stonewall: The Opera (the Brick!), the Waverly Gallery (Elaine May!), A Doll's House (Diane Lane!), RENT (Scary Spice!), and too many more to name but I'll always remember because I saved the Playbills.


Thank you to the Keith Haring artwork everywhere, to the museums and galleries where I was transformed and touched by artists like Tilda Swinton sleeping in a box at the MoMA, Marina Abramovic, Peter Hujar, Donna Gottschalk, Jean Paul Gaultier, Mike Kelley, Kehinde Wiley, Vincent Van Gogh, Juno Calypso, Alice Neel, Kara Walker at the Domino Factory, Kerry James Marshall, Mrinalini Mukherjee, Edvard Munch, Chunky Move at the Joyce Theater, Alex da Corte, Alexander McQueen, Diane Arbus, Charles James, Georgia O'Keefe, Marilyn Minter, Stephen Varble, to the drag queens and performers who slayed us (Charlene Incarnate!) and to all the unknown artists who made the city beautiful with the works that adorned the walls, subways, and random nooks and crannies.


Thank you to Videology for RuPaul's Drag Race viewing parties where I watched not only the show but a handsome mustached young man who would eventually become the love of my life, the kind of love I dreamed about but couldn't even imagine when I was just a little queer boy in Kernersville, North Carolina making his first XY.com profile.  Thank you to that young man, Diego, for loving me through my antics (sensing a trend here?), for holding me accountable for my actions, for wanting more for me than a life of cycles and patterns and addictions and for sticking around to see what that life would be like.  Thank you for being my partner to do activities with, to explore the city with once I was able to be present in it, for joining me on this ride called life.


Thank you to the man on the bicycle who rode past us dining at Bubby's on one of our final meals who yelled frantically "NEW YORK CITY BITCHES!!!"


Thank you for chewing me up and spitting me out, New York City.  You did a great job.  I did a great job.  I'm proud to have known you the way that I did.  Bye bye now.


may 2021

Friends reunion who? Give me more Val Cherish.
Friends reunion who? Give me more Val Cherish.

Well, I got it!  Since the last time we checked in, she's been busy.  I got two offers for high school ESL jobs in the Twin Cities!  One was for a charter school and the other is for a public intermediate school district that supports students with IEPs and "non-traditional" students (adult learners, etc.)  The charter school offer came first, so I accepted that.  Then, the public school offer came and I was like "Uh oh."  After experiencing the shitshow that is the NYC Department of Education, I have firsthand knowledge of invaluable unions are — even when they are run by nincompoops.  So, I had to decline the offer I accepted and I went with the public school.  Juggling multiple offers was not as fun as I expected it to be!

In the end, I feel like I made the right decision and the beauty of teaching is, if it ends up not being the right decision, I can re-evaluate where I'm at after next school year and switch it up.  For now, I am really excited about building my skills to be a better teacher for all students and their different learning styles and needs. I know it will be difficult, but I'm up for the challenge.

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Later in May, the entire Haus of Abundance (including Tito) ventured onto a real live aeroplane to go check out our new potential habitat: the Twin Cities.  It was Tito and Diego's first time (did I mention we're flying by the seat of our pants here?) and phew, they liked it!  It's so damn green (when it's not powdery white), with tons of parks, bodies of water, and bike paths.  We checked out a few neighborhoods, went to the amazing bowling alley/theater/restaurant from that viral drone video, drove by Paisley Park, said hello to the Mississippi River and checked for Grimes on a riverboat. Our waitress at the last restaurant had recently moved from Manhattan because the pandemic had her all like "Hell no."  We took it as a good sign.

Tito explores Minnehaha Falls
Tito explores Minnehaha Falls

The trip was essentially our gut check and we came back to our cockroach infested Brooklyn apartment knowing that we have had it — officially.  Plus, we met our realtor who is queer and amazing and specializes in first-time buyers like us.  All in all, our guts said "We can do this."  Of course, there are random moments when your stomach drops and you're like "Everything I know is about to change!" but that comes with the territory of taking risks. And a risk we are ready to take!

It was a risk to uproot my life and move to New York back in 2009 — a risk well worth it.  Of course it was never always easy, or happy, or life-affirming.  It broke me the hell down, but I built myself back up and I'm not sure what that would have looked like anywhere else.  I'm proud of myself for taking that risk and becoming who I am today.

And who I am today is just another cliched Zillow millennial who bought roller skates and is chasing that dream starter home.  It could be worse. I could be a geriatric millennial!

Went to the Met to see Garibaldo!
Went to the Met to see Garibaldo!

One final life important life update: we watched Eurovision for the first time ever because we needed a break from binging Girls5Eva.  Well, consider me a stan.  It isn't as weird as I thought it would be — no, it's fucking campy!!  It wasn't until I watched it that I realized how starved I've been for good old fashioned camp.  Seriously, the new Drag Race queens could learn a thing or two from these folks. I have fallen off a Eurovision cliff, and this month's playlist reflects that.  You are welcome!


april 2021

Did you know Tito listens to My Chemical Romance?
Did you know Tito listens to My Chemical Romance?
I'm not like other Dads, I'm a cool Dad
I'm not like other Dads, I'm a cool Dad

We started the month with a trip to Fort Tryon park for Easter Sunday. I made a fool of myself as you can see in the above photos.  I can also share the incredible news that Blue Bloods filmed in my neighborhood.  My mom was really excited. I tried to tell her that ACAB but she didn't care, she loves Tom Selleck. Did you know Michael Shannon lives in my neighborhood? He's not on Blue Bloods, but we've seen him on a porch and on the subway a few times.  Also, Ted Schmidt from Queer as Folk is my neighbor. We say "hello" to each other walking our dogs every morning. I've never blurted out "tell me everything about playing a meth addict on an instrumental show in my queer coming of age," but we still have a few months in Brooklyn left.

Objects d'television
Objects d'television
Beautiful morning for stunts
Beautiful morning for stunts

The Aries man Diego turned 37. Because he's not a big fan of parties/being the center of attention, I consolidated an extravagant celebration into this ridiculous(ly amazing) candle for his homemade coconut cream birthday cake. 

We also passed the 8 year mark this month. One of our first dates was taking the free Staten Island Ferry (poor, nasty little queers we were) with some cans of beer and there was a full moon. It was kind of a trip to realize we met when he was 29, I was 27. We're old as hell, but it feels really good to get old as hell together.

April 23 2013 — Our 2nd date?
April 23 2013 — Our 2nd date?

Diego also became Herbie Fully Vaxxed, so we decided to do some things we haven't done in over a year and a month: eat at a restaurant (Traif) and see a movie in an actual movie theatre (Judas and the Black Messiah at Nitehawk).  I felt like maybe it would be weird, but it very quickly was fine and highly enjoyable if I do say! People weren't jerks! We saved the economy! Although I survived the service industry myself in a past life, I have an entirely different appreciation for service industry folks these days. I have a new understanding of "if you can't afford to leave a generous tip, you can't afford to be doing it."  Which may be why we've been to a restaurant once in the last year. 

Tito's like "another resume and cover letter?" UGH
Tito's like "another resume and cover letter?" UGH


I am applying to teaching jobs (11 so far) like its going out of style and keeping everything crossed that I get at least one offer. It might make the whole "moving across the country" thing a little easier. The dream would be to find my very own Flatpoint High School where I can settle down to teach, but I'm cool with doing a year at any school to figure out where I want to stay in the long run.



Tito helps Dad write his masterpiece
Tito helps Dad write his masterpiece

The last, best, most amazing news is that Diego is going to be published! He got word back that one of his stories will be published in Carve magazine. You may not know this, but Diego writes on almost every day off from work he has and has done so for the last 4.5 years. His self discipline is really something to behold — your fave could never — and I for one am juiced to see it validated this way. Once it is set free to the world, I'll holler.

Cherry Blossoms in Brooklyn
Cherry Blossoms in Brooklyn

April 2021 Playlist


  • Current Music
    Silver Dagger by Dolly Parton