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
Travel

Day 752 and 24 Hours

I cannot remember the last time I pulled an all nighter. Probably something related to Black Friday sales. But in order to travel back from Prague to Montana I was awake for 24 hours straight across three flights and four separate airports.

I hadn’t really intended to be awake for the entire trip but because one has to pad timing around flights these days, every leg of the trip involved three or four hours between flights or an extended delay that has me running.

I was awake at 5:30am in Prague for a 7am flight that boarded at 7am. I arrived in London at 10am GMT after delays. My Heathrow to Denver flight was meant to department at 1pm. That 9 hour flight was the most pleasant part of the journey but I didn’t want to nap during it as I was concerned it would make my jet lag significantly worse.

I landed in Denver at 3:30pm Mountain time which is 7 hours minus GMT and 8 hours behind Prague so it was 10:30pm for me. I was dragging as that was a long day in and of itself. And frankly I’m used to living off a hub like Denver so a final leg of the journey was a new experience for me.

It was snowing in Denver which had created a significant backlog for takeoffs as everyone needed de-icing. I made a made dash for the 1:30pm Bozeman flight that was delayed to 4pm. I sprinted through Global Entry and back through security but the doors had already closed. I had to wait for my originally schedule 7:30pm flight.

Miraculously that flight was only delayed to 8pm because of the weather but I still found myself sitting in Terminal B for hours as my energy flagged and my spine started to hurt. My body clearly knew it was time for me to be in bed but here I was under florescent lights, eating a Caesar salad at a chain restaurant, waiting for one last flight.

When we boarded at 8pm it was 4am for my internal body clock. Thankfully the 700 mile flight from Denver to Bozeman is only a little over an hour. We touched down at 930pm. By the time I got to Alex waiting for me outside I had been up for exactly 24 hours.

I crossed a contingent, the English Channel, flew over the arctic circle and through another continent, which is an impressive territory to cover in a single day. But what a long day it was.

I slept from 11pm to 10am MTN to make up my sleep debt for the all nighter and I am still pretty tired. That was the equivalent of sleeping till 5pm. It all felt very collegiate to sleep through “the entire day” even though I am now settled back into my original time zone.

My Whoop recovery score was a 24% so I was pretty into the red from the whole experience. But I should be ready to spend the week on the proper time zone so I suppose it was all worth it.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 607 and Shopping

I’m in a heavy “bitches be shopping” phase. Moving into a new house always necessitates some new purchases but adjusting to an entirely new lifestyle is a heavy lift.

We don’t have much furniture that effectively made the transition from loft in lower Manhattan at the start of the pandemic to townhouse in Colorado for 18 months. So it’s almost like starting from scratch furnishing a farmhouse in Montana. We are using Havenly to help us decide on items we want for areas we’ve never had to furnish before like a dining room and guest rooms. It’s an amazing service that does all the product market work of finding items in your price point and desired styles.

But of course, it all takes forever to get furniture and I wish we’d started on this earlier. As rationalized not starting till we moved in but of course every week some new piece of furniture gets delayed. I’ll be lucky if I get the dining room table by mid October at this rate.

A rendering of our dining room from Havenly

The other big shopping project is upgrading my wardrobe as even after two winters in Colorado most of the adjustment from Manhattan to the Rocky Mountains was technical fabrics and activewear clothing not actual workwear.

Now I have outdoor clothing needs that are less “let’s go for a hike” and more “someone needs to stack wood” or “turn over the soil in the raised beds.”. I guess this means I’m changing over from Merril hiking boots to Ariat paddock boots and from hiking pants to Carhartt canvas work pants. I placed an order for a bunch of stuff today and am modestly enthusiastic about it.

I’ve spent a small fortune on adjusting to Montana life and a huge chunk of the purchases feel aspirational. Or at least my perception of what kind of adjustments are required. As much as I’ve lived in the country, and worked on a farm, my childhood is well in the distance. I’m working from memories.

Categories
Emotional Work Travel

Day 576 and A New Chapter

I don’t live in Colorado anymore. I’m not really sure I felt like I lived there at all right now. I feel as if the last two years were just a Covid blip attempting to do the impossible; to go home.

By home I mean I left Manhattan for Colorado. Back to the city where I was raised. Boulder was a city where most of my childhood and firsts happened. My first dog. My first period. Where I met my first love. And where then I had my first heartbreak. Where I had so many silly little personal accomplishments that make up a childhood. All of those life milestones happened in Colorado.

When the world turned inside out during Covid, I wanted some sense of safety and certainty and recognition. You can’t really go home though. Being back felt like an interlude. Like a break where I was vacationing from real life. Convalescent after one too many curveballs. Which is a surreal way to feel about a town that raised you. But it just never quite stuck.

I’m driving through Montana as I write this. My mother and her husband are helping Alex and I move up to Bozeman. I’ve got about a hundred miles till we hit town. We are driving alongside the Yellowstone River on I-90. And I suddenly feel like I am home.

Categories
Chronic Disease Community

Day 571 and Isolation

The move to Montana is mere days away. Alex has started to feel a sense of loss. He’s been able to build a nice community here in Boulder in just two years thanks to his deeply weird (joking) habit of having hobbies. I on the other hand, have never felt more isolated from my hometown. I cannot wait to leave.

Some of this feeling of alienation is simply transient. It is my natural dislike of summer coming to a head because of the physical toll extreme heat takes on my spinal inflammation. I can’t be outside much during these new extended heatwaves, which defeats the purpose of living in Colorado almost entirely. Who wants to live somewhere you can’t go outside for 3-4 months of the year. Let it snow!

But some of it is that I can’t have physical hobbies that are too energetically expensive like like Alex enjoys. I spend my summer weekends alone in bed reading and shitposting, while Alex has a fairly vibrant in person social life year round. My lower key physical hobbies like gardening also aren’t particularly social even though they could be if folks wanted to join me.

Part of the issue is that we have a rented townhouse n Boulder that is too small to allow for any socializing. You can’t really come visit us. There is no open space for welcoming friends, neighbors or family members. While people have come to visit us in Colorado, virtually none of them have set foot inside the house. Some of that was Covid but it was mostly not having any space for anyone to sit and relax for extended periods. And because we knew it was transient we never bothered to fix it.

And when you can’t guarantee your physical health, it mostly looked like people coming to visit Alex and me staying home. I couldn’t afford to use my energy budget outside the home a lot during Covid. I assume folks think I hate them, when in reality I just can’t guarantee I’ll be well enough to be out and about for three hours.

It’s much easier for me to commit to socializing if I am home in a safe place where I can lay down or access my medications. I’d like to play host as it’s just easier to accommodate my own limitations. It feels selfish but I think most people wouldn’t mind working around a minor disability like spinal pain.

I hope that people will take this as an open invitation to come visit us in Montana. We will be investing heavily in our guest rooms and eventually a full guest house in the barn. We want people to come up to take advantage of our access to a more remote and laid back form of living. You can go shoot with Alex or you can kick back on the porch and stare at the mountains with me. It’s up to you. But we’d both love to see you.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 534 and Never Go Home

They say you can never go home. I never took the saying to heart as I didn’t have a consistent childhood home for more than a few years at a time. We moved once every two years till I went off to college. And it only got worse from there as I wandered from dorm rooms to illegal sublets over a decade or so of instability. Probably why I’m so excited to be buying a house. For me there was no childhood home where I could return.

But the one place I considered home was Boulder Colorado. I lived in three separate houses in Boulder across five separate moves. The math involved my parents divorce and going off to boarding school for a bit. Yes it’s complicated.

But Boulder as a place has felt more like home to me than any other place. Even New York City where I lived the longest (over fifteen years if you don’t count the occasional breaks to San Francisco) never laid claim to being my hometown.

So I’m feeling a bit bittersweet about the prospect of leaving Boulder. I was running errands today and kept coming across Deadheads at every stop. Dead & Co, the name of the current not Phish, but not not the Grateful Dead, is doing two nights at Folsom Field this weekend. The town is filled with happy hippies. And also John Meyer.

A blonde woman walked into my coffee shop this morning without shoes and no one blinked an eye. Camper vans with Dead decals are parked all across town. I saw a man brushing his teeth in the Target parking lot wearing a tie-dyed shirt. The dispensary was completely out of my particular edibles. The concert crowds had cleaned them out.

It makes me feel a bit nostalgic for how I remember the town as a kid. Boulder was a town filled with folk music and weirdos. We were a hippie town and proud of the heritage. As I came over the hill into town coming back from my raw milk pickup I felt like I could never leave. Look at me doing hippie shit like being in a dairy cooperative. Boulder is still weird I said to myself. But I’m sure I’ll come to feel the same way about Bozeman in time.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 518 and Liminal Housing

The appraisal walkthrough for our Montana homestead was yesterday. We’ve never bought a house before so the process still has a lot of new twists and turns that seem to stretch our forever. Every time I think we are closer to having the deal be actually done there seems to be another step to consider. The next two months are going to be liminal housing space for Alex and I.

It’s an uncomfortable feeling being in between homes. Our townhouse in Boulder will be rented out once we’ve confirmed we have purchased the Montana homestead. The Boulder rent is going up quite a bit which figures. But we can’t move into the Montana house until August. Instead we’ve got this two month period where our old home isn’t really home any longer but our new home isn’t ready for us to move in either.

I don’t exactly know how I’ll spend my time during those two months. Alex has some travel and I’m considering doing some of my own. I’ve got Europe on my mind. The Mediterranean seems popular during the summer months.

I’d like to be preparing for when we arrive in Montana so we can hit the ground running but there isn’t that much to do here as the packing can’t be done too much ahead of time. Couple that with finance being in a messy panicky and I doubt I’ll get much actual work done.

Many LPs aren’t allocating, startups are holding back from fundraising if they don’t have to, and even my own plans for how I structure our investment vehicle looks a bit up for debate until certain things get wrapped up. Ironically I’ve been told they need about six to eight weeks.

So maybe my best move is to just get in an airplane and go. Take the summer. Enjoy the in between and simply stop worrying so damn much.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 499 and Maturity

I don’t get FOMO. “The fear of missing out”hasn’t ever plagued me. Maybe because I had good years where I was a cool kid and I lived at the tip of the cultural spear and at the top of the class food chain. And no I don’t feel cool typing that, it’s actually kind of embarrassing. But now I find myself getting further in touch with exactly who I want to be and where I want to do it. This has been a year of becoming myself. I’m maturing into the adult I plan to be. I went all in on being middle aged. The Boomers never got old but their millennial kids hit middle aged in record time

As I’ve shared the decision making process of moving our family Montana I’ve been so moved to see so many of our friends and extended community members support us. Alex and I both talked through this decision in real time across our social media and in our daily in-real-life lives. And people have been here for us. I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to people. I honestly had no idea this many people wanted good things for Alex and myself. It makes me feel so loved. If you think I’m talking about you trust me yes I am. This is a subtweet about how much you helped.

One of my husbands good friends is a general contractor and he came up to Montana to do a walk through on the property with us. Thanks to his insights we are much more confident in our decision to buy. And as I mentioned earlier in the week two of our good friends came up with us to Montana. Their emotional insight and support helped us make this massive investment. This support has enabled Alex and I to confidently make one of the biggest decisions of our lives.

When you are younger you play an optionality game. You seek to maximize your choices so you can pursue the biggest life possible. You have the totally rational viewpoint that your whole life is ahead of you. You shouldn’t limit yourself. And then suddenly you find yourself wanting to put down roots. You want to find your people. You want to find your family. Maybe it doesn’t look like everyone else’s family but that’s ok because eventually you have the maturity to accept the consequences of the life you want. And then you have to take action on making that the life you life. And it’s actually quite hard to have the maturity to do exactly what you want. Nothing is free and everything has a price.

So am I absolutely terrified that I’m in over my head by deciding to move to Montana? Actually no I’m not. I’m supposed to tell you of course I’m scared. The right emotional play is to talk about my uncertainties. But I am not uncertain. I’ve seen the data points that I need to make a choice about my life. Maybe I’m willing to make the bet earlier than most. I probably am. My girlfriend called me a cultivator. I am here for the journey and I’m not afraid to commit before anyone else. I don’t mind if you think I’m crazy.

I’m actually so glad that I’ve had this experience during a time when I’m chronicling my life. Having decided to write every single day I’ve opted into a certain amount of transparency but also responsibility for my own thoughts. I’ve had to own a lot in the moment. That actually was a little scary at first. But at some point the benefit I derive from being this present is worth the risk. And I’m absolutely confident that this has been worth the investment.

Categories
Politics Travel

Day 491 and Uncanny Valley

If you’ve been following along this week you might have noticed I’m in Bozeman Montana with some friends. I’m hoping to find a homestead. My father loves to call Montana the last best place. He moved up to Whitefish a few years ago for retirement from Boulder Colorado. Our boomers know the score. He knows the last best places are dwindling as the frontier turns into subdivisions.

Growing up in Colorado was about as close to paradise as it gets. We had clean air, plenty of open space and a laid back uncrowded atmosphere. My brother was born there but my parents made a brief detour to Silicon Valley where I was born in the eighties. But Chief Niwot’s curse must have called to my family as we moved back to Colorado when I was still young. My dad thought Boulder was a better place to live than San Francisco or Palo Alto. No one who has been to Boulder escapes the curse.

People seeing the beauty of this valley will want to stay, and their staying will be the undoing of the beauty.”

What is Chief Niwot’s curse?

I call myself a Boulder native even if it’s not technically true. If you count the sojourn in the Bay Area, I’m one of those Californians that ruined Colorado even if my family had arrived long before I did. But we certainly didn’t arrive before the Arapaho. Perhaps I wasn’t in the wave of Californians that turned Colorado, and Boulder Valley in particular, into a boom town in the aughts and teens, but I’m still part of the undoing of the beauty of this valley. Anyone who is descended from immigrants has contributed to the curse.

The reason I chuckle at my father calling Montana the last best place is because the state is following the path that Colorado took. Bozeman feels exactly like Boulder did during my childhood. It’s no surprise to me Colorado folks are moving here to recapture what we’ve lost. If you came of age in the mountain west before urban sprawl and yuppie gentrification you yearn for a return. Boulder Valley has been undone by those that loved it’s beauty. And so we seek new frontiers.

In twenty or thirty years will the Gallatin valley and Bozeman face a similar fate? Almost assuredly. If anything, it makes me confident in putting down roots here. Maybe then my kids can call themselves Bozeman natives the way I do with Boulder. Maybe they can complain about the high housing prices and the arrival of tech workers and tell tales about how their family got here in the roaring twenties before all the Coloradans ruined the place.

Categories
Politics

Day 486 and Open Road

I’d love to thank Eisenhower for having the foresight to build the interstate highway system. It’s one of the most crucial pieces of infrastructure that America has ever built. And it’s also absolutely gorgeous. Truly shameful we’ve not embarked on anything so ambitious since the Highway Act of 1956. Did you know it cost $114 billion dollars to make the interstate system? That’s $535 billion in 2020 dollars and who knows how much more know in 2022 with current inflation. But sure Biden can have 2 trillion for infrastructure as long as it keeps the interstate open.

I spent most of my day on the interstate. I traveled north on I-25 and then headed west on I-90. I’ve done several cross country road trips in my life including, California to Colorado, Colorado to Illinois, Colorado to Texas, and of course New York to Colorado. I’ve done I-70 as well as 80. It’s my hope to do many more trips in all possible directions.

The romance of the road is so foundational to American culture that I’d recommend everyone enjoy an interstate highway trip to a national park. There’s simply no joy quite like speeding along a wide open road with vistas as far as the eye can see.

The only sour note of the trip is the high cost of gas. The lowest I saw was $3.90 and the highest was $4.19. Diesel was substantially more expensive at $5.59 a gallon. I didn’t see a lot of trucks on my trip but my route isn’t particularly crucial as far as supply chains go. I mostly saw Amazon and Fed Ex trucks. Most goods are coming into Seattle so this stretch of land appeared to be given over e-commerce deliveries. I’ve been worrying over rising gas and it’s impact on well everything. Empty interstates seem an ominous sign