Day 433 and Walking

Walking is the only way to learn a city. I’ve never been able to pick up a feel for a city any other way. Being driven or driving in a car just doesn’t help me get a sense of place. It’s only after several days of pounding the pavement that I finally feel as if I can navigate without the help of a map or a GPS.

I’ve been doing my best to traverse the key neighbors in Frankfurt on foot over the last few days. I’ll set out for a basic destination like the grocery store or pharmacy on foot without my phone. Then I’ll choose something further afield like a restaurant or shopping center. Today I went for the ultimate test. I set off for the city center to visit a museum. Specifically Goethe House.

Goethe House Plaque

I barely needed to check my map at all. I made it to the philosopher’s house without any issues. I enjoyed an hour or two of history and then I set off on my journey back. I remembered a restaurant I wanted to visit on the way back. I realized I was near a store I’d been meaning to visit so I veered off track to check in. I found myself in a new district entirely. I spent some time visiting a mall. And then I set back for my Airbnb.

My the end my lifeline, aka my phone, had run out of battery. But I still knew exactly where I was. I was picking up my place in space. I was centered. And also extremely tired as I walked 13,000 steps steps in the space of three hours.

Medical Travel

Day 428 and Allergies

I’m staying in an Airbnb while I’m in Europe. I genuinely love the application and it’s community. I was an early adopter of Airbnb. Thanks to Airbnb I saved 60,000 dollars in one year. That cushion allowed me to quit a corporate job and pursue a startup without any anxiety.

My love for the application is pretty deep. It’s responsible for my marriage in some ways. I would only rent if I had another place to stay that allowed me to turn a profit. That usually meant I would rent while I traveled or if a friend has a place to crash. Alex was fascinated by my side hustle immediately. We’d only been on a couple dates when he offered to let me stay in his apartment while he traveled if we split the profits from my Airbnb. Naturally I said yes. I never moved out. And yes now we are married.

So yeah I really love Airbnb. But you do need to be aware of the community’s idiosyncratic norms. You are staying in someone’s home. That’s part of the charm. But also can can occasionally turn out in unexpected ways.

Since I arrived I’d been struggling with allergies. I broke out in hives. I had to figure out acquiring hydrocortisone in a foreign language. I was popping Benadryl like candy so I could barely stay awake. I was getting a little desperate to be honest. So I went on a long walk. Everything cleared up. I returned to the apartment and immediately started breaking out in hives again.

I texted my host to ask if he has any ideas. It turns out the host of my Airbnb loves scented candles. And he’s got great taste. The apartment has tons of candles and diffusers. But he’d put them into a cabinet so I didn’t know they were there. Alas I am extremely allergic to the chemicals that are often used in scented candles. Limonene in particular. So my body was going haywire over these candles but I had no idea they were there.

Thankfully we figured it out and moved them outside. But it’s a good reminder that context matters. At an Airbnb you are in a home furnished by a person with different needs and tolerances from you. And that’s ok. We figured it out. But me being upfront about my allergies from the start might have saved me a day of misery. Lesson learned.

Internet Culture Reading Travel

Day 427 and Rhythms

I’ve got a set of best practices for managing jet lag. If you are going east you get up a bit earlier and if it’s an overnight take something to immediately fall asleep even if it’s earlier. You should fast on your flight. this sucks if it involves first class and good booze but it’s worth it. When you land absolutely no napping. Stay up till normal bedtime even if it takes an extra coffee.

So far this seems to have worked for me. I woke up at 7am in Germany which is precisely my normal waking with the sun schedule. I didn’t have any issues waking up in the middle of the night nor did I have any fatigue in my workday.

Want to know the weirdest dumbest adjustment I can’t quite figure out? When to write my blog posts. It’s 5pm in Germany right now which is generally when I write my posts in Colorado. I prefer an end of the workday time as it lets me integrate the day’s knowledge and insights. But it’s only 9am in Colorado. When I post this as my own “end of day” wrap it will barely be the beginning of the day for my partners on the west coast.

This also has the effect of making me feel a bit out of the zeitgeist. When I woke up none of the overnight emails had gone out. Which meant I just got started on my day. Typically I spend an hour reading the news and drinking my coffee. But if there is no news to read it’s a much faster start to the day. So maybe it’s not that I’m out of the zeitgeist so much as the zeitgeist consumption process has tilted forward by 8 hours just as my day has done. I guess I better go open up Bloomberg and enjoy my morning news for with evening meal.


Day 426 and Missing Glamor

I flew to Europe today. Or rather last night. I had a business class flight to Munich, which in a past life would have been the height of luxury. Instead I found myself in the morass of Covid protocol lounges, individually wrapped dinner services and hygiene theater.

Because I was flying out of Denver I ended up a little bit high, (you can’t take it with you) wandering terminals looking for a business class lounge. When I did find one, it was all food service cold cuts and broccoli cheddar soup. The lounge was packed to the gills and had a mask mandate but did that ridiculous hygiene theater where you didn’t mask when eating. So everyone was eating but occasionally someone would yell at you if it was to clear you were between sips or nibbles. Eventually I gave up on the United Lounge as I’m just not a cold cure kinds gal and satisfied my munchies with some McDonalds fries.

Once I made it onto my flight I learned that under no circumstances was I allowed to take off my mask for even a moment to apply face creams. I’d been planning to apply my nightly beauty regimen on the plane before dozing off but was told it simply wasn’t allowed. The woman next to me was deep into her second Chardonnay but god forbid I get my resveretrol topically from Claudelie. I eventually snuck off to the bathroom for my nightly ablutions.

I was however allowed to take off my mask for my Crab Salad and champagne. Which was the last possible indication that flying used to be a luxurious experience. After dinner I learned we were expected to sleep in our KN95 masks. And to think I’d hoped I’d be wearing a beauty mask. Eventually I found myself a comfortable position to lie down in during a fitted N95. But I didn’t take any chances. I took two ambien to sleep through whatever bit of Covid protocol wanted me next.

Emotional Work Internet Culture Travel

Day 424 and Meltdown

The zeitgeist is getting stupid and panicky. Which means I’m feeling stupid and panicked. We’ve got folks speculating on nuclear war. It’s all very productive (that’s sarcasm) so don’t be surprised if regular people are on edge for no rational reason. I was surprised to find myself on edge as I know I’m being impacted by propaganda. But knowing isn’t enough to stop the emotional response.

I’m traveling to Europe for the next month and while I’ve got some concern about escalations in the Russian war in Ukraine, there is nothing I can do about it. If things get hot and a real nuclear meltdown happens, I doubt I’ll be any safer in Denver than Berlin. But rationally knowing something and emotionally being integrated on it are two different things. I’m on edge even though there is no point to it. And I am determined to continue living my life no matter the external chaos. I’ve had enough of putting life on old. But that choice has emotional consequences.

I realized how on edge I was when a daily drug I take for longevity and metabolic health, Metformin, was out of refills. I leave tomorrow for a month so I needed to check in with a doctor today to get it fixed. I found myself on the call explaining a bunch of unnecessary extraneous detail to the poor assistant about how I needed a refill immediately but I couldn’t get blood work tomorrow to prepare for a telehealth visit next week as I’m traveling so could I schedule bloods and the visit for April and still get a month refill?

Somehow this simple errand just completely set me off and I felt myself welling up with tears and anxiety. How had I missed this small detail and why couldn’t I communicate it normally? Why did I sound like some flighty woman who can’t communicate effectively? I felt shame and embarrassment overtake me.

I ended up asking my husband for help as I just sounded so loopy and stupid. The assistant didn’t need my entire travel itinerary and the logic for when and why I couldn’t get bloods done. I just needed the refill and to schedule my next visit.

I think we underestimate just how much chaos impacts our daily lives and routines. You can be a zen Big Lebowski type but you are still surrounded by friends who are ready to lose their shit over nihilism or Nazis or bowling Jesus. The world is increasingly complex and our little reactionary parasympathetic system is leaning on evolutionary hacks that are outdated for our current moment. Tigers in the grass are not the same as willingly doomscrolling social media to absorb someone else’s propaganda. Sure they both use pattern matching but it’s kind of an order of magnitude issue.

So be kind to each other as we’ve all been living through two years of chaotic pandemic angst. And now we are asking folks to dig back up Cold War fears. If someone has a little meltdown over a basic choice cut then some slack. And give them a hug. And yes I’m talking about treating yourself better. This shit is wild and scary and stupid for all of us.

Medical Preparedness Travel

Day 419 and Back to Normal

One of my friends texted to say “I’m shocked the hygiene theater at EthDenver failed as half my team has Covid-19!” Which is of course sarcasm. But we are all back in action. Consequences be damned! I’ve booked conferences through June. A venture fund that backs my husband just booked their CEO summit for an in person gathering. I have finally started eating at restaurants indoors again.

But for all this ridiculous talk of getting back to normal it’s just a lull. I’m happy to be out there as I’m confident in my immunity and my own risk tolerance based on having had an infection and being up to date vaccines. But it might not remain that way. And for plenty of people their risk calculus can’t be as liberal as mine. We’ve left behind the immune compromised. America doesn’t give a fuck about the disabled.

I hadn’t really meant this as a Covid post but rather it’s an introduction to this striving for normalcy. The pandemic is wrapping up and we can “Get Back to Normal” is more slogan than reality. If only because there is no going back. We’ve got the annoyance of all the second and third order effects of the pandemic to deal with now. And that is going to suck more than the pandemic

Faith in institutions is shaken and probably damaged for an entire generation. Health and medicine will make big strides as we finally address long virus issues. Maybe more chronically ill folks get better care. But for most people their trust in science is shaken. Not sure if the good will outweigh the bad yet.

We’ve also normalized a wide swath of government interventions we’d previously never tolerated. But it’s for our own good! Sure but who decides on the good going forward? What might else it get used for? And more people than I’d expected cheered on this kind of meddling in our daily lives. All for the greater good obviously. But I’m worried what happens when fascists get to decide on what is a greater good. And since we’ve normalized intervention it will be harder to push back.

I really do believe things are becoming more chaotic. We’ve accelerated a whole swath of changes that are going to shift our world. Some of it may be in good ways. I certainly plan to make a lot of money investing in the belief that we will adapt swiftly and positively. And either I’m right and we survive and so I make a lot of money. Or I’m wrong and it probably doesn’t matter. We’ve got to leap into the unknown to find out. But back to normal? Sorry buddy but we live in interesting times.


Day 418 and Come Down

A colleague of mine and I were texting after he had come off of a flight. He was tired. More tired than he remembered being after airplane travel in the past. We discussed how the muscle memory of travel seemed to have gotten lost in the pandemic. The stamina regular travelers build up over time had gone.

I’m feeling that today. While I didn’t fly anywhere, I was out of my home staying in a hotel and attending a busy professional event. At the time it felt fun and energizing. Even yesterday I was still enjoying a bit of the high from the social interaction. But today I’m exhausted. I’m pooped. I’m plum tuckered out. Stick a fork in me. I’m done.

This begs the question of whether we will regain our travel muscles again soon. I’ve already got four trips lined up between now and June. I’m going to Europe, then Bitcoin Miami, then Montana, then Austin for Consensus. That is almost as much as my pre-pandemic levels. I’ll be curious if I find it progressively less tiring. Or if in fact being tired is a good thing as it lets us know when we’ve overdone it. Either way I’m going to bed early.