Dan Sinker/blog

Best Laid Plans

Well it's been a while. This year began with the high hopes of getting back on a regular blogging cadence and, halfway through, it's been a little more irregular than I originally thought. Best laid plans and all that. But! Hello again! It's July, and it's nice to see you. I have a couple things I'm really excited to tell you about.

Three months of Question Mark, Ohio

First up: A big reason that I haven't been blogging as regularly these last few months is because the (admittedly limited) free time that starting this blog helped to fill has now been completely obliterated by the entire town that Joe Meno and I have built, Question Mark, Ohio. When I last wrote about Question Mark, just two months ago, it was still in its early stages. Now the mystery of Question Mark is in full swing, there are updates to it on Instagram, Twitter, and across the web nearly daily, and thousands of people are following along. There's even a dedicated crew of folks on Discord unraveling the deeper mysteries. It's amazing!

It's also really huge and keeping up (let alone jumping in) can feel hard. I get it! And so this week we launched questionmarkohio.com, a reader's guide to to the whole story. It's new site that offers a way in for new readers and a way to make sure you're not missing anything for folks that are already following along. We break each week's events into episodes and have written summaries full of links to all the action (a new episode is added every Friday). We have a character guide to the many residents of Question Mark and links to learn more about them. And we offer a lengthy "How to Read Question Mark" section that includes links to every discovered website associated with the story (there are nearly two dozen at this point).

Now that we're over three months into Question Mark, Ohio, I can say without any hesitation that this is the best work I've done in forever, and I would absolutely love if you were to check it out and, even more so, spread the word. Doing indie projects in this era of social media collapse is really challenging. It's doubly so when the projects themselves defy easy description. Your advocacy for this work helps it to grow! Thank you!

Marginally Employed patches

Next: A month or so ago I was at a cookout for an old work colleague and friend. It was 100% people who I haven't seen since at least the pandemic hit, and most of them a few years even before that. And so, obviously, the first question anyone would ask is "what are you up to now," and, well, that's sort of a hard question for me to answer. As has been established on this blog before, I do a lot of things. Some of them are job-shaped, while others look, well, like an entire fictional town in Ohio. All of them are important to me and all of them are a little hard to explain.

And so it was on that night that my brain—sometimes a friend, other times an enemy—responded "Well, I'm marginally employed," before launching into a full-throated explanation of the wild world of Question Mark, Ohio to increasingly concerned onlookers.

I left the cookout feeling pretty weird, if I'm being honest. Since I'd last seen most of the folks that were there, they'd moved on to really incredible work. And here I was cobbling together bits and pieces of job-shaped things while spinning a yarn about a town plagued with disappearances. And then there was the term I used: marginally employed, which felt right but also felt a little embarrassing.

And then something happened. I talked about this on Says Who afterward and I heard from a bunch of folks who said, basically: Hey, me too. And I realized like, wait a second: I want to be doing work like I'm doing. Work that's weird and exciting and, admittedly, hard to describe to people while also gnawing on some ribs. I don't want to be doing a 9-5. I want to be marginally employed.

And so I made a patch. It's really simple, just maroon on white and set in Cooper Black, my very favorite typeface. It reads, simply, "Marginally Employed." No apologies, no frills. I love it. You might too. It's $10 and ships free in the US.

Some additional miscellany

The biggest thing happening in my life right now is my oldest is about to head to college and, as I said on weird new Twitter clone Threads earlier today, it's like having my heart ripped out of my chest. I mean I am thrilled and excited for him and also... Yeesh. I'm sure some of you reading have gone through this particulars experience already and any advice would be welcome because, as Jets to Brazil once sang, "I will tell you I am fine / I got some news, friend / Feels like I'm dying."

On a culture tip, the mostly-overlooked Peacock series Mrs. Davis is easily some of the best television I've watched in years. It is completely batshit in all the right ways and will take you on a ride that you won't forget anytime soon. The less you know about it the better, just go watch it.

Finally, I've got a lot of really great work coming up really soon and I can't tell you about any of it yet but I'm really excited to share it once it's ready.

I promise I'll update this sooner next time.

Published July 11, 2023.

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