Categories
Homesteading

Day 763 and Winter

When we first decided to move to Montana basically half of the questions people asked us were about the weather. “How are you going to survive the winter?“

I would kind of humor people with stories about how I grew up in the Colorado Rockies and I’ve got Swedish heritage. I had a whole bit about how I was suited to this by nature and nurture. I meant it to be a bit funny but also reassuring. I really am suited to be happy here.

But these days Colorado winters are milder than Montana ones. Global warming trends when combined with a sunny high altitude meant sometimes you can ski in a tee shirt. You’d be surprised at how warm it feels when it’s 40 and sunny.

So I really hadn’t experienced a good cold in a while. And even as a kid, Colorado cold was honestly a lot warmer than an Illinois winter and certainly warmer than a New York one. It’s one of the more pleasant winters you can experience and still have seasons.

And yet here I am in February in Montana and I honestly love it. I love the cold. I love the snow. I even love days with cloud cover. I take great pleasure at looking out over the snow in our pasture to the frosted pines on the mountains barely more than a mile away. The air is always crisp and you can really breathe here.

Montana summers might be some of the best weather this good earth has to offer. Between the cool evenings that stretch the day towards 10pm and the absolutely majestic views, it’s no surprise someone called it Paradise Valley. But I honestly couldn’t love the winters more.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 760 and Beginner’s Mindset

I recently decided to boot back up my Instagram account. I’d let it lay dormant for almost five years. A lot has changed since I stopped using it. I’ll withhold judgement on whether it is for the worse or not. Right now it’s mostly just modestly confusing. I feel like a beginner again.

Amusingly one of the first genres of advertisements I got was for Instagram editing tools. There is a whole cottage industry of paid applications that help you put together Reels and Stories.

Many of them are relatively sophisticated with templates that help you overlay text, audio, music and advanced video techniques. Being a creator these days requires a fair amount of sophistication so I’m not surprised to find $10 a month editing applications.

I am struggling to find to find the joy in the experience. It feels like like a lot more work to make visual content than written. Now, I grant that it didn’t feel easy writing at first either. Twitter was stop and go for me for years.

But Instagram is a more natural place for some of my interests like cosmetics and shopping. I want to give it a fair shake. And maybe I’ll find joy in the space with some time. But becoming fluent in the language of Instagram’s visual literacy makes me feel stupid. But I guess that’s what it feels like to be a beginner again.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 759 and All Dressed

Social media has given us so many ways to become fans. We have ever more content thanks the streaming wars. Give content a chance to live everywhere online and it will develop a fanbase beyond its intended audience. The internet gives small shows outsized impact.

I’m a fan of a Canadian comedy called a Letterkenny. It’s about a small town in Canada. It’s got people and their problems. It’s a very funny character study and has fundamentally warm and loving humor. I’ve watched every episode and the spin-off. I’ve taken a lot of solace in the very human nature of the show, particularly during the pandemic years when everyone felt far away from each other.

There is a phenomenon that is particularly prominent online called parasocial relationships. Someone creates art or a personality and it develops a fandom. Over time, the fans, through repeated exposure to a character or show, believe they know them like a friend. It is fun to be in the fandom. Enjoying art is a universal experience. I am a stan for Letterkenny. I’m in a parasocial relationship with the Letterkenny crew and it’s universe.

How deep is it? Well my husband and I recently ordered some Canadian chip flavor called all dressed featured on an episode of Letterkenny. The chip is, as the name suggests, every single type of flavor. It is salt and vinegar, bbq, ketchup (weird but crucial), and sour cream & onion. And it is absolutely delicious. As a Twitter friend said to me, it is the Dr Pepper of chips. It’s not for everyone but it’s spectacular.

All dressed ruffle potato chips

Because it is Sunday, I am taking a medically necessary amount of THC. I’ve had a gummy. And I thought this was a perfect moment to try the Letterkenny chip.

And it was indeed glorious. All dresseds is a chip made for the munchies. It’s got bite and taste and texture and it all rolls up into an experience. It’s a chip worthy of the extra attention of weed focus.

And because I am extremely online I shared my appreciation for it on Twitter.

Now on Letterkenny there is a clique called the Skids. They are the weird kids. They are the hipster ones. They are the nerds. They are small town weed dealers. Asking me to pick a favorite on Letterkenny is like asking me to pick a favorite child. One of the Skids is Roald. He is a loyal friend but his own man. He definitely likes weed. I love Roaldie.

And I’m delighted to learn through my all dressed munchies Tweet, that the actor who plays him, Evan Stern, is following me. He likes the tweet. What a perfect way to enjoy a very specific kind of fandom. A parasocial relationship’s individual manifestation through social media. Now that I’ve made a big deal out of all this I should probably say hi to Evan. It’s going to be weird no matter what but it brought me a lot of joy. It’s good to be a fan.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 758 and Two Sides

I somehow missed watching the Mandalorian when it came out. My husband isn’t really into Star Wars and I’m a Star Trek person so as just missed it. I started watching it today for the first time and I’m experiencing it somewhat fresh of its original release context.

But I’ve got a vague memory of the culture war issues that it triggered at the time. Somehow Gina Carano got coded to team red and champion of the downtrodden right wing. I honestly couldn’t tell you why except I think she mouthed off on Twitter. She sacrificed her career as a main character on prestige Disney tv show for shitposting. She thought she had social latitude that she just didn’t when working for Big Mouse. Shockingly naive if I’m honest.

That somehow everything has a side in the culture wars is a real tragedy of our time. Because a couple years pass and whatever dumb stunt that got you put on team red or team blue probably gets forgotten. Normal people have moved on and the discourse gets digested eventually into common knowledge. Memory is a fickle thing. Madeleines and Proust or something in that direction.

If you are team red you go into an alternate universe where apparently being a dick with a right wing slant on YouTube gets you 50 million dollar media deals. I assume there are as many opportunities as now being on team red is a real badge of honor and whole media ecosystems arise because it’s an actual demographic. Shocking somehow to some people but I guess I’ve always lived adjacent to team red. I’ve be always known you could make money on that audience.

I suppose the real tell is that if you are team blue you don’t really change ecosystems at all if you pick their side in the culture war. You get to maintain your plum gig at Disney. You do not have Ron DeSantis gunning for you. I hear that woke mobs come to get you but I’ve never actually seen it in action. The worst part of my chaotic evil leftist Twitter bubble stops at Taylor Lorenz though I am aware that a murky left exists beyond Chapo Trap House and I know about Tankies.

It just seems so strange to take sides in any of this nonsense if your aim is to make a living as a performer. Sure maybe you can cater to one niche or another. But really isn’t the whole point finding the things that bind us all in the human experience? I always assumed art was meant to transcend whatever petty shit happened while making it.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 755 and Instagram

I haven’t been on my Instagram account since 2018. I stopped actively posting in 2017. I’d become absolutely sick of the social media platform and the relentless aspirational influencer content marketing that had taken over my feed. I can’t say I’ve missed it, but I’ve decided to reinstall the application and begin posting again.

I’ve been a participant in the “creator economy” long before it had a name. A college friend set me up on a WordPress blog after a fellow student had written a piece criticizing me for being interested in fashion on campus.

I’d written something about designer denim in the competing school newspaper. My friend told me I needed to watch out as this new nemesis was going to ruin my Google results. From these petty seeds a fashion blogging “empire” was born.

I have some dubious distinctions from being early to social media. Women’s Wear Daily claimed I was the first person to liveblog fashion week in 2006. I turned that into an advertising network for online lifestyle publishers called Coutorture. It was eventually acquired by PopSugar. I went on to work at a number of luxury and fashion brands before starting my own cosmetics line.

I’d like to think having been there from the start of the creator economy counts for something but the harsh truth is that once you stop posting you tend to disappear from any social network. I stopped fashion blogging for my own enjoyment once I made it into a career.

During my girlboss years as the CEO of Stowaway Cosmetics being on Instagram felt like a part of my job. I had enjoyed it more when I wasn’t obligated to look cool. I remember 2012 Instagram fondly as a place where you followed photographers and fashion insiders at work. By 2016 it was loaded with aspirational lifestyle content. I felt like I all I saw was sponsored content.

Somewhere in that timeframe I racked up 30,000 followers. I don’t think I ever maintained anything remotely professional. It was just pictures of whatever was happening in my life so the usual mix of food and travel. It didn’t seem like a huge loss to walk away.

Oddly even if my follower count on Twitter isn’t actually that much larger than my Instagram account I feel like I’m much more influential there. I’m better with words clearly. I am a shitposter so it always felt lower stakes. And maybe that’s why it’s less of a burden in my mind. I do Twitter joyfully.

But I’m going to experiment with Instagram again. I’ve got visual things in my life that are worth sharing as I’ve now got a totally new aspirational lifestyle. I’ve graduated from fashion influencer to doomer optimist. Homesteading and cozy farmhouse is it’s own aesthetic and maybe I’ll enjoy sharing mine. And I’ll admit that I’m not at all above coveting back on gifting lists. I guess if you enjoy that sort of thing find me back on Instagram. Or if you want to send me some free stuff I’m open to getting back into the SponCon game.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 750 and Interstitial

If you have ever stayed in an airport hotel or a particularly standardized corporate hotel, you’ve encountered the grand global homogeneity of acceptable hospitality.

Airwave bedroom at a Marriot in Prague

This aesthetic owes a debt to Silicon Valley and the way we’ve sanded off peculiar edges and smoothed over individual characters to make the real world’s brand book as consistent as our virtual ones. It’s called Airwave.

If you enjoyed the silky sameness of a WeWork or a perfect Airbnb or the reclaimed wood counter at a third wave coffee shop in Prague or Frankfurt, you’ve enjoyed Airwave.

If you travel enough, you find the aesthetics comforting eventually. As if your entire palette or taste profile was subtly sifted into the window of preferences set by an art director at an advertising agency in Brooklyn or Amsterdam.

Soothing sameness

Sure you seek out newness and novelty, but also you are glad for the suite at the just nice enough Marriot which delivers you a club sandwich with a request to room service. Remember when Jonny Mnemonic screamed for room service? If you are of a certain age I bet you do.

Ah the height of luxury for a data currier criminal of cyberpunk legend is now the expected outcome for the rootless cosmopolitans. Who is to stay which of us as a worse dystopia?

Categories
Aesthetics Media

Day 748 and Molly Millions

I’ve been rewatching the excellent Amazon adaption of William Gibson’s The Peripheral. I’ve said if before but no single artist has had a bigger impact on my aesthetics than him. As the father of cyberpunk, his impact looms large over the computing industry.

Molly Millions is a cyborg in William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy which includes the famous Neuromancer. A dark brunette, she has mirror shade eyes and razors under her nails. Molly is first introduced in the shorty story Johnny Mnemonic which became a Hollywood thriller with the same title. In the movie, Molly is renamed as Jane but is fundamentally the same character.

The cover of William Gibson’s Neuromancer with Molly Millions.

In Johnny Mnemonic we have an entirely new aesthetic for Molly Millions as Jane. The brooding inaccessible brunette is replaced with a curly haired blonde played by Dina Mayer.

Dina Mayer as Jane in cyberpunk style.
On the far left, a strong jawed and sharp featured Jane in a cyberpunk bar
Dina Mayer as Jane

I personally loved Dina Mayer’s energy in Johnny Mnemonic. She brought a kind of girl next door folksiness that brought a lot of humanity to the problems of being a cyborg. She was light where technology dictate a darker aesthetic. Cyberpunk needed a Betty. I assume some of this is related to the creative direction of photographer (of Men in Suits fame) Robert Longo but it could have easily been Dina Mayer’s rising star in Hollywood. I hadn’t thought much beyond it until I watched the Peripheral.

But now all I can see in the Peripheral is how much Flynn Fisher (as played by Chloe Grace Moretz) looks like Dina Mayer’s Jane. In my fantasy, it’s like I’m seeing the first woman Willian Gibson ever loved. It almost makes a romantic of me imagining a world where a curly haired blonde mattered to him. But the essence shared by Moretz and Mayer is hard to deny.

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

I see a lot of little similarities between the two actresses but it’s ultimately the affect. The bold lip and the harsh pulled back hair is contrasted in softer moments with wild curly halos and warm inviting features. Flynn is a southern girl. I’ve got no idea if Jane had a heritage. But now I’ll always wonder why the dark mirror shaded women of Neuromancer became a blonde.

Categories
Travel

Day 745 and Restless Travelers Scrolling

Coming of age in the golden era of digital hospitality had an enormous effect on my expectations for flexibility on the road. I rarely book ahead, I never worry about finding a place to stay, I overpack luxuries and I am always uncomfortably on the hunt for my personal totemic signifiers of safety. You need things on the road to keep your rituals intact so you don’t drift.

I know how to search for a place to rest and I restlessly pursue it on the road. Singles browse dating apps like I browse Airbnb. I spot red flags on apartment listings like a woman who has been on one too many bad dates.

I spent much of my childhood traveling. My most potent recurring nightmare is packing for a trip that never arrives. I have lived in a perpetual state of readiness to get up and leave. I bring endless tiny compacts and one singular pair of high heeled shoes for a night out I never go on. I am ready for glamour on the road but all I find is the anxiety of instability.

It’s this perpetual readiness to flee that has made me an exceptionally good picker of hotels, rental units, vacation homes and other short term stays. I couldn’t afford a deposit for an apartment in New York for so long that I could find an under-market illegal sublet on Craigslist on a moment’s notice. It’s a handy skill set.

Naturally I’ve come to take this talent for granted as I’ve cultivated it. I’m confident that I’ll pick a decent rental because I can spot issues from miles away. I admit I’ve looked down on complaints about how bad Airbnb has become. I thought I’d avoid the quality control issues. It’s no longer a better value than hotels generally speaking but the real crime is that it’s troubles are not worth the hassle for many. It’s not seamless like a branded hotel.

I felt the hassle was worth it for the comforts of home on the road. But I think I’ve crossed my personal Rubicon on Airbnb in Prague. I won’t default to it any longer. The costs are now basically identical. You’ve got to weigh the costs of friction against having your life a bit disturbed. Hotels specialize in hospitality. It’s probably worth remembering.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 743 and Wandering

I took some time to go wandering today. I’ve been in Prague for six days but it’s been such a mess I haven’t actually felt like I’ve been in the city.

I like to get to know cities by walking. If I’ve only been in a cab or an Uber I don’t have a sense of place. I need to walk to feel like I’ve landed in a place. While I love a good resort destination now and again, I find it hard to feel grounded without being able to roam.

I wonder if being raised in a small town affected this at all. I wasn’t really a suburban kid. We had suburbs in my town but you still went to a downtown core where kids would walk from the library to the high school to the pedestrian mall. Walking was entertainment for my teenage years.

Now as an adult I find nothing more liberating than just walking for as long as you can. Being wedded to a destination or a GPS mapped route feels too much like having to do something or be somewhere. But wandering around with no place to be tastes like freedom. You are still in charge of your own life if you can go for a long walk with no purpose.

Categories
Aesthetics Culture

Day 723 and Season’s Eatings

Maybe it’s because we’ve had to do so much packing and unpacking this year, but we didn’t bother with getting our Christmas decorations out of the boxes in the barn. We didn’t dig out the Menorah for Chanukah either. Seasonal decoration just didn’t seem like a fun use of limited energy and focus. We’d already spent enough of it on simply furnishing the house.

We aren’t entirely without the spirit of the season. We’ve got a beautiful large pine next to the house. Alex recruited a friend to put lights on it and it’s served beautifully as our Christmas tree. It’s quite magnificent in the morning light in particular. The dawn on the morning of the solstice bathed it in blue light.

Our Christmas Tree lit up by white lights

Equally we didn’t entirely ignore Chanukah. One of our favorite jokes is a simple guide to Jewish holidays is as follows; they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat. So rather than prayers and candles we made latkes on the first night.

Latkes and applesauce

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Stockings aren’t hung. But as has been our tradition as a couple, we will be preparing a Feast of the Seven Fishes. Neither one of us is Catholic but we’ve taken to a seafood feast on Christmas Eve as being sacrosanct.

Despite being in Montana we have acquired a variety of seafood including a lobster tail, mussels, clams, cod, and shrimp. We will have cioppino and lobster fra diavolo. We get to the full seven with the help of Goldfish crackers and Swedish fish.

Lobster fra diavolo

Tomorrow will involve lamb chops which seems like a very fine Christmas Day feast. I’m sure we will prepare it while listening to Dr. Demento’s Christmas Album. And yes we will be watching Die Hard. Which we should technically be watching tonight but whatever. I’m not entirely sure how we will manage Chinese takeout tomorrow, an absolutely crucial meal in a Jewish-Calvinist household. There are surely Chinese restaurants in Bozeman but we’ve not bothered to find them thus far. In in a pinch we’ve got frozen dumplings in the chest freezer.

With all of these season’s eatings (the proper grammar I’m riffing on is season’s greetings) it’s no wonder I’ve traditionally done a fast between Boxing Day and Epiphany. I’ve not yet decided if I’ll do it this year as it can be a bit intense. I like to start the year with a 10 day water fast but it’s not feasible sometimes. But I’m putting it out into the universe to see what comes back.

That I’ve got the incredible good fortune of enjoying exceptional food and also the capacity for extended fasts is very much a gift. I hope you have the good fortune to chose nourishment that brings you joy this season.