The Worst See’s Candies Experience of My Life

I just had the worst See’s Candies experience of my life.

Once in a great while, I’ll pop in to buy one piece. Just a small treat. Of course, as everyone knows, it’s more of a buy-one-get-one situation since no one leaves without free candy. And if the line is long and you have to wait? You get another free piece.

They just give the candy away like that. It’s enticing. See’s Candies is the creepy guy in a van of candy stores.

The line was long today. I had been waiting for five minutes already when the cheery lady behind the counter came out with a tray full of what looked like vanilla cremes. Everyone behind me got one. I was denied. I really like vanilla cremes, but she didn’t care.

It was a sign, and I should have heeded it.

I ordered my candy. I had been in the line so long I’d talked myself in and out of many wonderful choices. Apricot Delight won out in the end, maybe the worst possible option.

Anyone ever go for a nice, juicy apricot? No, that is literally a thought no one on Earth has ever had. Apricots are the “I guess that exists” of fruit. So, why did I embrace the ‘cot and take a flying leap towards “Put it in my candy!”? The world may never know. I sure don’t.

The moment arrived. I’m opening up my wallet and the cashier reaches under the counter. She brings her hand back up, smiles, and says “Here’s your sample.”

And on the counter before me is…another Apricot Delight.

I walked out the door with three Apricot Delights (there’s two in a cup), none of which I actually wanted.

I had eaten them all before I’d even arrived home.

This was my worst ever See’s Candies experience, and the worst thing to happen to me today.And if the worst thing to happen to me today was getting free candy (of any sort), I guess that makes it a pretty good day.

Top Songs of 2021

I live in a weird music bubble. I don’t listen to the radio, and at my age I don’t really have any peers left who listen to new music with any kind of passion. So, I discover things on my own, either via browsing the Apple Music store or through the occasional bits of music news that leak through. I don’t even use Spotify or stream music–I purchase it. This makes me a throwback, I know, but it makes the music much less disposable and much more enjoyable for me. (And has the added benefit, I think, of putting more money into the artists’ pockets.)

I’m not going to pretend to have a particularly elevated taste or even know much about music. I really don’t. I have zero musical ability, and I actually quite like that. It’s one of the few artistic things I enjoy purely as appreciation and not so much examination. But I do have taste, of a sort. All the music I like is GOOD. Feel free to disagree (I know you will).

At the end of every year, I make two playlists. One is my Top 10, and the second is my Top 11-20. I segregate them this way because I want my Top 10 to be a TRUE Top 10. I force myself to make difficult choices to create a truly excellent playlist worthy of being revisited, and then the 11-20 list is what is leftover. Still great songs, but just not Top 10. Both lists are ordered for listening pleasure, not by ranking.

There are a few rules that govern these lists. They are as follows:

1. No artist may appear twice in one list, even if they had some truly excellent songs that would otherwise qualify.

2. Any song I discovered in the past year is fair game, no matter what year it was actually released. No matter how late I came to the party. (See: West, Kanye)

3. When trying to pick between two great songs, greater weight is given to the song released during the current year.

This year, a theme emerged in the songs I like best: being a jerk. Whether it’s identifying jerkiness in others or being self aware enough to recognize your own jerkiness, there’s a lot of reflection and regret going on in these songs. I’ll let my future self suss out whether that’s just the year in music or something I’m working out within myself.

Also, it’s a 50/50 split between male and female vocalists. That’s pretty cool. I like the variety.

So, here, by no demand whatsoever, is my Top 10 and Top 11-20 playlists. All songs are either the clean versions or homemade edited versions. If you choose to wade in, I highly recommend the following listening order:

TOP 10

1. All My Favorite Songs – Weezer

2. Ringside – Julien Baker

3. Runaway – Kanye West feat. Pusha T

4. brutal – Olivia Rodrigo

5. Amy Shark – Amy Shark

6. Better If You Don’t – CHVRCHES

7. Locust Laced – Sleigh Bells

8. Needle – Middle Kids

9. I Lied – Lord Huron & Allison Ponthier

10. In My Room (At My Piano Version) – Brian Wilson

TOP 11-20

11. True Seekers – Sleigh Bells

12. Extreme Ways (Reprise Version) – Moby

13. Somebody Desperate – The National

14. Happier Than Ever – Billie Eilish

15. I Made It – Andrew W.K.

16. Flathead – The Fratellis

17. Bad Neighbours – Middle Kids

18. In the Car Outside – The Killers

19. Sometimes – James

20. Funeral – Phoebe Bridgers

The Crippling Fear of Creation

When I was an illustrator, every single time I sat down at the drawing table, I was overcome with the crippling fear that I’d forgotten everything–how to build a figure, how to put down a line, how to turn a blank piece of paper into a finished piece. Every. Single. Time.

I know this is not uncommon.Now that I’ve pivoted to writing, it’s the same thing. Whenever I begin something new, there is that voice in my head that pushes against all my past work, all my confidence, and says, “The words will not flow.”

It’s terrifying, but I push past it.

And it’s never true. The words are always there if I but put the fingers on the keyboard and begin. You’d think, after all this time–after 30+ years of actively making art of one kind or another–this would not keep happening. But, it does.

At some point I guess you either accept the fear as part of the process or you let it cripple you. It makes me wonder what function that universal, personal terror actually has. Is there a misunderstood friction necessary for creation within it, or is it an essential anti-force without which our tenacity and determination to create would wither?

I dunno. I just keep going.