RS: You founded the very popular Tumblr, I Love Charts. How did you come up with that idea?
JO: I Love Charts started as a joke shared with a good friend from college, Cody Westphal. We were both un- or under-employed in 2009 — a year after we graduated from Hamilton College — and had taken to one-upping each other finding increasingly depressing data and charts about the Great Recession and how we would be forever destitute. We were sharing our findings on our personal Tumblrs and began joking that we should make a side blog exclusively for the game.
People who follow you on social media will note that you've done a lot of traveling recently. Which was your favorite place to visit?
Japan was wonderful. It was a constant medium-level challenge. I don't know the language. I went alone without linking up with anybody I knew there. I got lost a lot. It was the best. I can never relax sprawled on a towel at the beach, pretending it's fun to be doing nothing. It's hot. I still haven't figured out how to read a book at the beach what with the sun and how it bounces off the pages into the eyes, and the need to rotate one's body in relation to that stupid sun, and the persistent feeling this imperfect leisure is a waste of time. Then comes drinking and dehydration and sunburn. Anyway, Japan was a challenge, so I could actually relax. It provided a novel set of challenges which replaced the quotidian nonsense I typically agonize over and cleared my brain out a bit.
What can people expect from your reading?
I don't know what I'm going to do yet, but it's a safe bet I'll end up going one of two directions: (1) absurdism which might include a guitar (2) purple prose about anxiety, obviously related to the very act of coming up with something to read in front of people. Most of what I come up with deals with how I'm feeling while coming up with something, or how I'm feeling about the medium, so basically everything I do is about anxiety. So ... prepare for a good time!