Categories
Emotional Work Politics

Day 768 and Memory

I’ve not ever read Proust in its entirety because what am I an eternal being who exists outside of linear time? But, thanks to Wikipedia and university survey courses, I am familiar with its basic themes of memory and it’s frustrating insufficiency.

Anyways, when not pondering madeleines, I am often confronted by how resilient the mind is in protecting us from the horrors of the world. Memory is a very funny thing. As good a reason as any to maintain diaries or personal hagiography is that you’d be surprised at what you forget.

A doctor asked me to get a pelvic ultrasound. I surprised myself by saying absolutely not unless it’s an emergency life or death situation I am not doing that. And she, in sincere surprise, asked me why not.

And, because I guess therapy works, I recalled a pelvic ultrasound from maybe 10-12 years ago. I’d been referred in to a specialist as there was concern about a uterine cyst. This doctor, a gentleman over 50 in the kindly white gentleman archetype, who I did not know know, proceeds to tell me this won’t hurt.

But it does hurt. I am screaming bloody murder. It hurts so much I cannot stop. He tells me he will call security unless I quiet down. I cannot and I am in tears hysterically trying to convey the pain. I pass out.

I had utterly suppressed the memory till today. It happened to coincide with my husband mentioning a think piece in New York Magazine about women who empathized with the Clare Danes character from Fleishman Is In Trouble. There is a profoundly violating scene around reproductive health and consent.

And of course, because it’s happening to a striving insecure aspirant white bitch it totally doesn’t count right? Fucking Karens. It’s super cringe to consider where the system hurts you, because you dumb bitch, you benefit more than anyone else.

So I guess I am not surprised I had banished the experience of something bad but you know not so bad you are allowed to complain about it. And that is how the patriarchy perpetuates itself.

What I’m saying is that maybe you need to remember who it is that benefits from you not remembering the pain. Who benefits from forgetting? And trust me they are very scared when you realize that you remember.

Categories
Internet Culture Politics

Day 764 and Natalism

There are a number of cultural streams in American life that have all aligned around being natalist. You want your country to have babies because it’s good for the economy. And presumably also good for national security.

This fairly basic insight means everyone from techno-libertarians to Catholic homesteaders believes that Americans should be having more babies. It is not just the Quiver-full types having six babies anymore, so are our wealthiest aristocratic titans of industry.

But this alliance is missing some crucial basics. Like for instance the fundamental civilization level things we need to do to make it desirable and affordable to have children. It’s expensive to be pregnant, it’s expensive to raise children, it’s expensive all around to be parents. I spent $40,000 on IVF and it ruined my health. If I counted lost wages and being forced to sell my startup I’m the total costs is seven figures.

I don’t know if you’ve looked at just the costs around having a baby but it will shock you every time you turn a new corner in the fertility space. I learned today you will spend between $100,000 to $200,000 to hire a surrogate. It’s a person’s salary and a lot of medical care so sure that seems right but damn.

I guess I am interested in the math of Natalism to see if I could afford it. I am one of those “tech elites” that thinks we have to have children to drive the innovation of tomorrow. Our future is based on an optimistic hope that maybe we can push for a better future. Humanity won’t continue without children.

But I don’t have a body that is all that healthy without medical intervention. I live a normal life now and can work full time again because I take some exceptional medicine.

But it’s not medicinal regime that can be combined with pregnancy. So if I want to carry a child I have to go off what amounts to life saving medicine. Without it I’d be on bed rest. You can imagine the math I’m doing in my head? Do I want to pour another million into having a family?

So what’s a girl like me to do? Surrogacy right? But I’ve got 10 eggs and 2 embryos so assuming a third of them make it, that’s nearly half a million dollars in surrogacy fees. To get three kids. That’s a heavy price tag on the future. If more of them take it gets even wilder.

Now ok sure I’d rather we encourage a world where younger healthy folks do things naturally but don’t we want everyone going at maximum effort for a better tomorrow? Shouldn’t we want technology to solve this? Where are my artificial wombs at?

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
Politics

Day 740 and Immigration Failed Us Again

My second attempt at a securing a tourist visa for a friend failed this morning. If you’d have asked me a few years ago if I thought the American immigration basically worked, I would have agreed that, sure I thought it probably worked ok. No reason to think otherwise right? Phew I was wrong.

But after years of being humiliated over and over again by the state department for “the crime” of wanting a family friend to come visit us for vacation, I’ve never felt more ashamed of myself and my country.

I’m ashamed I was such a sucker. I thought we would still do the basic work of being a functional state. I’m ashamed that America treats people who want to visit us this badly.

We have well off, interesting, curious guests that want to explore our culture and spend their time & money seeing our land. We spit on our guests by turning away anyone who isn’t on a Schengen or ESTA waiver. You probably think that includes most people. I did. But we are wrong.

Only 40 of the 195 countries on the planet are granted travel visas without going through the visa embassy approval process. Most people have bad passports. Latin America, Africa, the Balkans, the former Soviet blocks and most of Asia have “bad passports” that require a tourist visa that requires years of waiting for appointments and almost assured disapproval at the Embassy.

I’ve never met a system so broken I couldn’t find a workaround. But here I am at the of my workarounds in tears at how I’ve let down my family and friends. The visa I’ve been helping with was denied a second time today after waiting since March for a second chance to re-apply. That first meeting at which we were also denied also took years of waiting.

And it is getting better. This round after flying to Prague, we got two minutes instead of thirty seconds in Frankfurt. In those minutes they still didn’t look at any of the materials prepared. Just a generic we don’t like the look of your people rejection. We got some boilerplate language about strong ties or weak ties and no we won’t read the 200 pages of supporting documents you brought.

I was a mess yesterday about how afraid I was we’d get down turned down again. But I thought surely I was being too paranoid. The lawyers we paid thought we had a good chance. We’ve brought everything possible for paperwork from mortgages to W2 forms. I’d taken personal financial liability for our friend. I let the government have an invasive look at our finances. I gave the consular offices the deed to my house. I worked for months to get a Congressional letter asking for a fair review of the application. None of it was reviewed.

Now in the aftermath, I’m not even sure if it’s possible to get a consular officer to do a fair review. Our congressional representatives wrote the consular office and they send back boilerplate with no details. No one reads the applications I guess. We can apply again. And again. But would good would it do?

Categories
Preparedness

Day 738 and Little Things

I’ve come to appreciate the little luxuries in life in the aftermath of the pandemic. The Great Weirdening was in full bloom just as the world shut down into a global viral pandemic. The things I took for granted from 2015 are now treasured joys to be relished privately and also on social media. Dooming for the clout.

We are all performing elaborate acts about how we are flourishing, but in reality we’ve all had a number of rebirths and realizations. A lot of people suddenly stopped giving as many fucks and the downstream effects have been a calamity.

Everyone knows this has happened but pet theories as to why and it’s implications are rampant. We’ve fractured into conspiracies depending on what media ecosystem we spend the most time in. I know a lot of extremely online shit because I spend time on Twitter. We all have different scapegoats.

This is also all colliding with the great Jankening. All those people giving fewer fucks. Well, it shows up in what we make. And a lot of products and services got worse. Sometimes subtly. It tugs at your mind that so many little things don’t work like they used to work.

I am happy to fight for what’s mine. But I am fighting harder to get the experience I want. So I notice it when something goes right. When a meal is a bit better than you expected. And quality of service was better than it has a right to be. When maybe something is a throwback to a simpler time. When shit worked. I cherish the things that are genuinely good. I don’t want to lose them.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 726 and Healing

As most of my extended network is aware, I am a big fan of therapy. We all grow up in imperfect families doing their best in a cruel world. No one is immune from emotional hurt, especially if you came by those wounds in childhood. Healing those old wounds as an adult is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and is not reflective of any weakness on your part or failure of your family.

Hurt people hurt. Every single one of us has lingering traumas from our childhood no matter how privileged our lives or lucky our circumstances. Trauma is universal. No one escapes being alive without some.

One of the most relatable types of hurt a child will experience is being made to feel less than, an outsider, unworthy or unloved. Our families might not intend for us to feel this way but it’s not uncommon to be bullied or ignored or told we are unworthy. If we do not find ways to heal from feeling like we are less than others, we will make others feel the same way. And we are obligated as responsible adults to not victimize others.

Nerds who don’t heal their trauma wound of being “unpopular” become quite dangerous when they go from underdog to ruling class

When I was young being called a nerd was an insult. But now as an adult the power dynamics have shifted significantly. The intellectuals have inherited the earth. But too many of us remember ourselves as victims of the strong. As adults we have an obligation to adjust our priors as we are no longer victims of what we experienced in childhood. In fact, we now we have the upper hand. Revenge of the nerds is due for an update.

We must remind our inner child that those days are over. We survived. It’s over. We are now strong adults with our own agency and capacity to set boundaries. Of course, it’s a hard task to reason with our inner child. The ego is very accomplished at guarding us from reality. It doesn’t want us to repeat those traumas and rightly so. It only takes being burned once to avoid the fire.

But if we don’t work to understand why we we still react as adults as if we were a hurt child the wounds of childhood trauma we will never allow us to reality.

If you want to see the truth of your circumstances consider going to therapy. If you cannot afford it, there are many recovery programs that are free to attend like Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon. Contrary to popular perception they are not just for addicts. Heal yourself. We are all rooting for you.

Categories
Culture

Day 690 and Status Games

Noblesse oblige. Literally translated from the French as nobility obligates. It’s commonly understood to mean that aristocracy has a responsibility to act graciously towards the civilization which has granted them status.

It’s a turn of phrase I’ve written about before, specifically how in our post modern times, we are challenged to understand who is pursuing a life of virtue and what their obligations may be to the rest of us.

No one is sure if they are nobility or peasantry. No one is noble or good. Which means nobody deserves anything they get. Which is about as close to the war of all against all as I can imagine. Hobbes would be pleased.

JFredrickson.com Day 45

Humanity has always been rather clever at inventing new classes. We need fresh blood from the bottom to keep revolutionary sentiment in church. Every century we are finding new ways to fight it out for new types of status and virtue.

Business values money. Old money values class. The intelligentsia values intellect. Hipsters value taste. The religious value faith. And around we go with status games as we trade social capital for actual capital just so we can get something to eat.

There is always an emerging new game that upsets the underlying order. The printing press destabilized the church and its priestly cast. The internet destabilized the media and it’s editor cast. You know the drill.

Right now there is a massive internecine fight over which order rules over Twitter. And depending on whose camp you fall into you are probably signaling different things. And that lack of shared cultural values is leading to some pretty silly reactions. A lot of dickriding is happening across every major faction.

Which if you take away the reactionary specifics, is totally understandable. If one class of person values money but the competing group values taste than you aren’t really fighting for the same things. Different values are different.

But you’ve got to be careful with your own reactions. Ask yourself if you are responding out of some shared cultural loyalty that is overshadowing your own common sense. Your attention is valuable and powerful people recognize your attention for the commodity that it has become.

Don’t buy into bullshit just because it’s your team. The chance that someone is making a buck off of your attention sure ain’t zero. And America being a free country and all means you shouldn’t be living enthralled to someone else’s priorities.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 689 and Dick Riding

As chaos continues to unfurl around the world, the tendency towards hero worship is getting out of control. Cults of personality are having a moment absolutely everywhere, even as we are treated to even more spectacular variants of the Emperor Has No Clothes. You’d think the recent flameouts in finance, technology and politics just this week would make us all a bit more skeptical of authority and yet that does not appear to be the case.

You cannot go onto Twitter without exposing yourself to someone’s daddy issues disguised as a low rent business school case study thread. I was concerned about the information hygiene as platform capacity degraded. But I honestly wasn’t expecting the first disease that actually emerged. Twitter is in the throes of an emotional venereal disease.

I am talking about dick riders.

If you are not familiar with the term, being a dick rider means praising absolutely every move of someone you perceive as having more power than you. Dickriding is a particularly uncomfortable form of reply guying wherein you praise absolutely every move of the person whose dick you are riding.

It’s especially virulent among regular people without personal expertise or exposure to the problem at hand. Not knowing any better is not however a prerequisite for dick riding. You can lend your credibility to someone else by using your expertise to rationalize just about anything.

Humans love power and hierarchy. I guess it makes us feel safe to believe that someone knows what the hell they are doing when we are afraid. But the sad reality is that we are all human. Even the most accomplished and brilliant among us are still saddled with bias, self doubt, insecurities and blind spots. If you are inclined towards the religious, we are all sinners. Though I’d recommend you combine that with a side of grace as I don’t mean this to be judgmental.

I realize it’s pretty funny to bring up the redeeming power of grace in the context of sexually explicit slang. But I do think it’s helpful to remember that even the worst of us have redeeming qualities and even the best of us have flaws.

So if you are tempted to engage in dickriding because you think someone is better than you, might I encourage you to consider that we are all equals in the eyes of God. Or at very least equal in the face of a good shit post.

I’m a straight woman so I like riding dick but I don’t know what excuse the rest of you have.
Categories
Aesthetics

Day 646 and Birthday Shopping

My birthday is next Tuesday and I’ve been using it as an excuse to browse my favorite cosmetic and clothing websites. I should treat myself right? No gift is better than what you select for yourself. Plus, I love a free gift with purchase. A birthday is often the anchor of any decent loyalty program so I’m justifying this as an exploration of current merchandising trends.

Sephora in particular has dedicated itself to a Birthday Gift franchise that women obsess over all year. If you are part of their loyalty program called Beauty Insider or Very Important Beauty (VIB if you spend $350) you get to chose a gift during your birthday month. There are a lot of other perks in the program but the birthday gift doesn’t require spending any of your hard earned rewards points and it’s free to join.

Sephora’s Loyalty Program Birthday Gift Options for 2022 for VIB & VIB Rouge included Laura Mercier, Tatcha, Amika, NEST & Olaplex

It’s a big deal for the brands to be selected as one of the gifts for the year by Sephora as it’s a great way to get sampling and visibility for twelve straight months. Plus Sephora kicks in on some of the hard costs. It’s one of the better gauges in the cosmetics industry of who is up and coming and desirable, but also has enough cachet that it drives desire around the program.

They generally offer one color cosmetic, one skincare brand, one haircare brand and a fragrance but it can be a bit mix and match depending on what trends are in the industry overall. And they offer up slightly fancier rewards for the $350 and $1000 spending tiers.

This year haircare brand Olaplex was so popular as a VIB gift that only January birthdays got the gifts causing some angst. That slicked back clean girl aesthetic bun TikTok wave and the brand’s IPO last year might have been too much demand for it to be a part of a loyalty program that is intensely scrutinized.

I have actually never used Olaplex as I’ve got low maintenance princess hair. I would have loved to try it in a sample gift just to see but the merchandising gods said sorry girl you ain’t a Pisces.

I’ll admit I was pretty bummed as it was advertised all year but I only realized it was sold out when I was able to begin my own birthday gift selection process. Guess I should have kept closer tabs on the beauty influencers.

Charlotte Tilbury Sephora Birthday Set with Pillow Talk mini Matte Lipstick and Mascara

Because I am VIB I had access to a gift that wasn’t initially pictured in the Birthday section. My theory is it got added in after the Olaplex debacle but this is just me putting on a tinfoil hat. I ended up selecting the Charlotte Tilbury gift. When I was the CEO of Stowaway Cosmetics we duped their best selling shade Pillow Talk many years ago.

I’d never actually purchased the original one from Tilbury as I simply had access to the original source contract manufacturer. I never tried it in matte as Stowaway’s original formula was a satin, so I thought “let’s select this” as my gift for the year. I thought it was a nice throwback to remember a time when I wasn’t a civilian but had access to all the cosmetics I wanted straight from the factory. And yes I miss it but not necessarily enough to go back. But I’ll let you know if I like the lipstick!

Categories
Politics Travel

Day 631 and Reunion

I normally spend a lot of time my husband. During the pandemic we got very accustomed to being around each other twenty four seven. We quite enjoy each other’s company so it’s been a life upgrade.

But occasionally we take longer chunks of time apart. It started as a deliberate effort, but now as the post pandemic world works itself out travel is starting to happen naturally again. We haven’t seen each other for two weeks. And completely organically.

And we couldn’t have had more diverse life experiences and seen more varied cross sections of America if we’d planned it. Alex was at an investment firm’s CEO summit in Santa Barbara while I was in Billings Montana taking wilderness medical incident first responder training. He was hobnobing with bankers while I was doing “stop the bleed” with wildfire fighters and EMTS.

When we reunited this evening after being apart, and for such disparate types of experiences, it was so much fun to compare notes. The types of concerns and the expectations for the good life couldn’t be more divergent for the two poles of people. And I am modestly afraid that as America polarizes and different industries code for different versions of America that it will be rare for different classes to intersect.

And that’s a real problem if bankers are so far removed from paramedics as to have entirely different interests and ideals for their shared country of America. It’s clearly possible to encounter all types of Americans across all classes but I’m not sure I’m optimistic about enough people making the effort to bring us all together.