Presenting a #TBT series marking a decade of digital distortion and deletion by Yours Truly on the insidious Instagram app. Beginning in July 2021, I used this series as an excuse to delete everything I over-shared for ten years, as part of a gradual mental divestment from social media.

This crassly yet carefully curated chronicle begins in 2011, my 7th full year as a designer and developer at BBM&D in Ventura. I sometimes biked the short distance to work, but not really for exercise, racking up only 196 total miles. My bands released two quickie, digital-only EPs (one each for Honey White and Radblaster) but our rehearsals tapered off to only four with full lineups. The Keir & Em Baseball Tour went to Arizona (our 7th stop overall), but I visited no new states beyond the 9 I’d seen already. I joined AIGA via the local SB chapter. I was my brother’s best man. I turned 35.

2012 was my 8th full year designing at BBM&D (as “Chief Creative Officer,” a title I neither wanted nor enjoyed) and my first on the all-volunteer AIGA SB board (as Communications Director). I biked a bit less, for only 145 miles. I acquired my first new instrument in 6 years, another Fender jazz bass (which is now the oldest one I own). That year’s Keir & Em Baseball Tour stops were in DC and Baltimore (our 8th & 9th overall), so I visited Virginia, DC, and Maryland for the first time. I self-published a novel that was five years in the making. I turned 36.

My 2013 in the local design biz was split almost halfway between BBM&D in Ventura and Oniracom in Santa Barbara (where I started as a web developer). I re-upped for a second year as AIGA SB Communications Director, and landed in Philadelphia for my first AIGA Leadership Retreat (and 10th Keir & Em Baseball Tour stop), visiting Pennsylvania for the first time. Em and I flew to Bend for our second snowy Christmas in 4 years. I acquired a fourth bass guitar, a Fender Jaguar (now only the second of two I own). I began biking seriously for exercise, with 36 rides for 492 miles. I began wearing eyeglasses. I turned 37.

2014 was my first full year at Oniracom (now as a designer and developer) and third year as AIGA SB Communications Director, and I even combined both groups twice for design events. I went to Denver for my second AIGA Leadership Retreat. I visited Wisconsin and Illinois for the first time, where the Keir & Em Baseball Tour made its 11th, 12th, and 13th stops at Milwaukee and both Chicago stadiums. Em and I looked good at other peoples’ weddings and saw tons of live concerts, though I myself made only a little music. I spoke about design at SBCC. I biked 43 rides for 591 total miles. I became an uncle. I turned 38.

2015 was my second full year at Oniracom (as a designer-developer-strategist) and fourth year on the AIGA SB board (my first as President, overseeing eleven design events). I traveled to my third AIGA Leadership Retreat, this time in Grand Rapids, visiting Michigan for the first time. The Keir & Em Baseball Tour made its 15th stop, in Denver, sandwiched by two Red Rocks concerts. I attended my 20-year high school class reunion and actually enjoyed it. I recorded and released a seven song EP under my own name. I spoke about design at SBCC again. I biked 64 rides for 918 total miles. I turned 39.

2016 was my third and final full year at Oniracom (as a senior designer). It was my fifth and most intense year on the AIGA SB board (and second as President, overseeing thirteen design events). I traveled to North Carolina for the first time, attending my fourth AIGA Leadership Retreat in Raleigh, and went to Vegas for the AIGA Design Conference. The Keir & Em Baseball Tour made its 16th stop in Minneapolis, bringing us to Minnesota for the first time. I returned to UCSB for my first Daily Nexus alumni reunion. I biked 81 rides for 1113 total miles. I turned 40 on the day the Cubs won the World Series.

In 2017 I saw Louisiana for the first time, launching my first business, Tight Ship Design, with my co-captain Julia during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. I went to a second Daily Nexus reunion. Em and I saw out-of-state, semi-pro baseball in Portland. I tempted fate with a sixth year on the AIGA SB board (my third as President), and visited Texas for the first time to attend my fifth and final AIGA Leadership Retreat in Dallas. I oversaw ten design events, including portfolio reviews at SBCC, CLU, Cal Poly SLO, and Allan Hancock. I spoke about design at CSUN. I had a weird health scare but still biked 98 rides for 1268 total miles. I watched my city catch on fire. I turned 41.

2018 was my second (and highest-grossing) full year as Designer/Co-Owner at Tight Ship, and I returned to New Orleans for a second Co-Captain Summit. I spoke about design at Cal Poly SLO and at Loyola in NOLA. I attended my third UCSB Daily Nexus alumni reunion. I stepped down from the AIGA SB board after my seventh full year (and fourth as President, overseeing seven design events), and helped transform it into AIGA Central Coast. I began Le Tour DuBois, driving to bike in other, further-away cities, which helped me log 116 rides for 1704 total miles. I saw tons of concerts with Em and we marked two decades together. I turned 42.

2019 was my third and final full year as designer/co-owner of Tight Ship, and I returned to New Orleans for a third and final Co-Captain Summit. I drove to Pasadena for my second AIGA Design Conference, but after that and one other local event, I let AIGA go. I continued Le Tour DuBois and biked in fewer faraway cities, but still logged 118 rides for 1834 total miles. I attended my fourth UCSB Daily Nexus reunion. I spoke about design at UCSB and Tulane. I briefly co-hosted a design podcast. I traveled with Em to Nashville for her birthday, visiting Tennessee for the first time. I saw a handful of concerts, mostly with Em. I turned 43.

In 2020 I lacked a full-time job for the first time in 16 years when quarantine forced Tight Ship’s closure, but I also launched Keirtography, my map design side-hustle. I had to cancel a planned Keir & Em Baseball Tour revival in Dallas, but before the pandemic shut everything down we did see one concert and I made one road trip. Despite a scary wipeout, I never stopped biking (masked or unmasked), logging a best-to-date 130 rides for 2081 total miles. I spoke about design on a virtual dataviz panel and as a guest on two podcasts. I recorded and released a second seven-song solo EP. I acquired a custom mandocello. I ran a virtual D&D campaign. I turned 44.

I spent most of 2021 inside my own head. I couldn’t land a “real” design job, despite my prior 17-year career, striking out with in-house applications at companies both local and remote. However, I did score some freelance work and @keirtography map-art projects. The national Keir & Em Baseball Tour didn’t resume, but we did hit all three SoCal stadiums, briefly visited family all over California, and caught one fall concert. I produced @mybandrockspod, a 12-episode podcast about my 25 years of amateur musicianship. I was a guest Adobe Creative Jam judge. I continued running a virtual D&D campaign. I biked 128 rides for a personal best 2103 miles. I turned 45.

My main creative impulse is to compile and purge, so in the spirit of everything fake and curated on Instagram, the delete-and-montage spasms will continue yearly until morale improves (and probably after that). Happy New Year, y’all. Be well and stay safe.

Update 12/30/22:

In 2022 I was still dipping in and out of my own head, mostly when I foolishly let judgmental social media noise define reality, but the year got better as it went. I kinda gave up on finding a “real job” after being declined for a few more local positions, but I kept the side-hustle running as a published map artist with several cartographicillustration projects, plus some other freelance design work from very kind friends. I released a fantasy-map atlas, self-publishing for the first time since releasing a novel 10 years ago, and talked about Keirtography on a virtual panel with folks from Europe and Africa. The DuBois Baseball tour didn’t resume, but Em and I did see lots of little league and some local semi-pro ball, as well as catching the Padres twice in San Diego during their improbable yet ultimately unsuccessful playoff run. I drove up and down the state again to see family, and still biked a lot, but in the 10th year of “Keir By Bike,” I rode 137 times for 1800.80 miles—less miles, but more rides, than 2021, 2020, and 2019—failing to meet or exceed a prior year’s totals for the first time, but I’m fine with that. I continued running a virtual D&D campaign. I saw two live concerts (one more than last year). I turned 46.

Update 12/31/23:

In 2023 I was more of a house-spouse than a freelance designer and I was mostly fine with that, because while I landed almost as many good freelance and @Keirtography projects as last year I still had plenty of time for personal projects. I paused my virtual D&D campaign but self-published a print version of last year’s fantasy-map atlas and then recorded and released a third seven-song solo EP under my own name. Em and I finally restarted the DuBois Baseball Tour, visiting Kansas City (for our 16th stadium), Missouri (my 21st state), then caught 3 Padres home games, 1 local semi-pro game in TO, and scores of Santa Paula little league games. I drove up and down the state again to see family, and still biked a lot, but in the 11th year of “Keir By Bike” I rode 136 times for a measly 1558 miles (about as many rides as 2022, but the lowest overall mileage since 2018), and I blame frequent repairs, bad weather, Covid, and Baldur’s Gate 3. I saw only 3 live concerts (but that’s 1 more than last year). I attended my 5th UCSB Daily Nexus reunion. I turned 47.