Categories
Emotional Work Travel

Day 746 and Control

When I feel afraid I seek control. I have rituals and rhythms that help sooth the fears of my inner child.

This morning I was in my least favorite fear control pattern. I had to leave a temporary hotel for a new Airbnb as a mold issue destabilized my first week. Hives and prednisone and such. I hate packing and I hate the logistics of it. It reminds me of my childhood nightmares.

I set my alarm early enough to get breakfast and packing in before the slightly too early checkout. I was racked with anxiety I couldn’t repack everything as I’d acquired new items meant for an apartment stay and my suitcase overflowed.

I had vitamins and medicine to take but I couldn’t do more than choke down a croissant. I ordered fruit and cheese and than was too worked up to eat it. I hate wasting food so I wasn’t thrilled. I beat myself up for being a bad person who can’t take care of herself.

As soon as realized how had it was getting I took an Ativan. Joke all you want about benzodiazepines but occasionally they are the barrier between a traumatized woman and the history of her fears. Probably why it’s such a cliche. Just the sort of thing you learn as you are alone in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language.

I felt so rushed by the need to be out at a certain time. Each knock on the door a reminder of my failures. Each internal call to calm down a criticism I recalled from my father, my coaches, my bosses and my lovers. A hysterical woman is a shameful thing.

Each “hurry up” a reminder that I am someone who is policed and polite and controlled for other people’s convenience. I am not allowed to be scared or cry or reactive. A hysterical woman woman is, again, a shameful thing.

Finally after the tension and anger and shame bubbled up, I threw the first thing I could get my hands on to release the tension. Better than hurting myself a dim quiet voice said. I cracked my watch face. And immediately felt better. And so embarrassed I’d boiled over.

I’d only needed five more minutes to get myself together. Just a moment. Give me a second. Please just let me be. And each time my preferences had to accommodate someone else I lost more of myself.

I was able to exert the seamless self control over my emotions eventually. I checked out. I tipped. I’m swanned over to my new digs. I executed exactly what I needed and got on with my workday. But the shame stung and the control soothed it like a cold aloe gel.

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
Emotional Work Travel

Day 744 and Nothing

It’s always a toss up as to whether I am going to write beautiful missives showcasing my deepest emotions when traveling or just shit out whatever I can manage. I’ve discovered I’ve got quite a range over the years. And I can almost never predict it.

I assume everyone can relate to this. You can never really predict when your best efforts will yield great results. This is, of course, why I prattle on and on about about practice and habits. If you aren’t forcing yourself to hone a skill set even when you don’t feel like it you won’t ever improve it. If you don’t let yourself fail you never win. You miss all the shots you don’t take.

I totally get why people are obsessed with sports metaphors. I often wonder if athletes use business or war metaphors because otherwise they are stuck with the literalism of being descriptive.

I’ve always hated when business people use war metaphors as it feels a bit offensive (don’t elevate your work to life or death unless it actually is life or death) so I default to sports metaphors.

But mergers, term sheets and deals aren’t as sexy as goals, shots or points so if you are an athlete maybe sticking to literalism is fine? I mean, they are to me, but of course I’m inclined to think my work is hot. You’d be worried if didn’t.

So today I’ll accept that we use the metaphors we have on hand as sometimes we do t have anything else. We’ve got nothing. And you’ve got to work with what you’ve got to make something from nothing.

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
Background

Day 721 and 40 Questions

I came across a list of 40 questions that Stephen Ango answers every year on Twitter today. It looked like a fun exercise so I thought I’d participate.

What did you do this year that you’d never done before? Bought a house & got my very first mortgage, moved to Montana, lived in Germany for a month, spent time on the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, and experienced -45 degree temperatures.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions? I don’t make them but I did intend to write every single day (for the second year in a row) and I have so far accomplished it.

Did anyone close to you give birth? No

Did anyone close to you die? No

What cities/states/countries did you visit? Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, Florida and Texas for states. United Kingdom, Germany, Albania and Greece for countries.

What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year? All the money for my venture fund and visas for freedom of movement for my friends and family.

What date(s) from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why? June 18th was the date we closed on our homestead in Montana. August 1st was the day we moved in.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting my family safely to a Montana homestead that is the first home we’ve ever owned.

What was your biggest failure? I don’t think it’s a failure, but I wish I got more done particularly when it comes to fundraising and deploying capital, but objectively I did as much as I could. I try to remind myself that the self is not an attack vector so this question is an opportunity to remind myself that failure is just opportunity.

What other hardships did you face? I got a very bad flu in the middle of purchasing the house in Montana. I watched the markets repeat elements of the crashes of 2001 and 2008 which allowed me to see how far I’ve come since my childhood trauma of my family’s bankruptcy on 2001.

Did you suffer illness or injury? The flu in May was awful, I’ve had a number of random infections and I live with chronic ankylosis spondylitis but I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years.

What was the best thing you bought? A house in Montana. But smaller things I’ve loved include a Lunya robe, Ariat boots, Skimms cotton tank bras, and my first go at Botox.

Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband has been an absolute superstar rolling with my crazy plans and I’ll be forever grateful he trusts me to see things that he hasn’t yet seen. I’ve written many a love letter this year to him and my appreciation for the ways big and small he makes my life better.

Whose behavior made you appalled? Not appalled necessarily but the dick riders are really a bummer. We are all sinners and ain’t none of us are saints.

Where did most of your money go? We bought a very nice piece of land with a gorgeous farmhouse on it. The second biggest expense after buying a house was medical bills. It’s fun to be sick in America. Third on that list is food both because my husband is a gourmet cook and because inflation on food was quite high.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Being a homeowner has been exciting as hell. Everything about buying a house and making it our own has been amazing. I also spent a lot of time excited about DAOs and corporate governance, my founders, and spending a month next to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

What song will always remind you of this year? I don’t listen to much music so I don’t have an answer.

Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer? I am happier, poorer, and thinner than I was last year.

What do you wish you’d done more of? I have a lot of things I want to beat myself up about for not doing more, but I actually feel like I didn’t my time well this year. I don’t always need to be improving things. So I guess I wish I was comfortable doing less.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Beating myself up for not doing more.

How are you spending the holidays? I am in bed with my husband watching disaster porn movies while it is 45 degrees below Fahrenheit.

Did you fall in love this year? I am deeper in love than I was last year which is one of the benefits of always working on yourself and having a partner that also works on themselves.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I wouldn’t say I hate them but I’ve been disappointed with everyone involved in Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

What was your favorite show? The Peripheral. It is the adaption on Amazon of William Gibson’s most recent novels and it is stunningly good science fiction. I’ve enjoyed a lot of television this year though.

What was the best book you read? Hands down Peter Watt’s Blindsight which I cannot believe I didn’t read till this year. If you are autistic I in particular recommend it.

What was your greatest musical discovery of the year? Again I don’t really do music.

What was your favorite film? I’m not a big film person so I didn’t watch a ton of movies this year. I’m a TV person. But probably the Weird Al parody biopic. Extremely funny and very sweet. Worth taking the trouble to find on Roku.

What was your favorite meal? I’ve had so many amazing meals this year. Perfect Montana steaks is probably at the top but schnitzel in Frankfurt, branzino in the Mediterranean, BBQ in Austin, and stone crabs in Miami round out the list. I traveled a lot this year and that means I had a lot of great meals.

What did you want and get? A homestead in Montana.

What did you want and not get? A visa for a family friend. American immigration is extremely broken. I’m hoping I get the visa granted next year for them.

What did you do on your birthday? I discussed my “fundraise in public” for chaotic capital and spent it with Elle Morrill and my husband. Elle cooked for me and it was absolutely epic.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? The American immigration system working. But that’s like asking for world peace. I spent a lot of time and social capital trying to get a visa that still hasn’t been granted.

How would you describe your personal fashion this year? Black. I mostly wear cotton black sweats and a long sleeve cotton tee-shirt. My biggest upgrade to that look was adding in a Lunya robe. But I also bought a bunch of chore clothing for working on the homestead. I also got to enjoy my “heat” wardrobe which is mostly Grecian gowns made by Norma Kamali.

What kept you sane? My therapist Dagmar and writing every single day.

Which celebrity/public figure did you admire the most? Folks hate this answer but I love Kim Kardashian. She works her ample ass off for her family business, spends her time working against the carceral state, makes a great bra and she started a private equity firm.

What political issue stirred you the most? The government’s interest in deciding what I do with my own body. I’m a libertarian because the very foundation of sovereignty rests on your right to control your own body. Though this issue is very closely followed by our inability to grant visas and bring immigrants to America in terms of animating my energy this year.

Who did you miss? I miss my grandmother Nanamai. She’s my mother’s mother. She’d be so proud of what I’ve done with my life. I wish she’d be been alive to wear one of my lipsticks. I wish she were alive to see the family life I’ve built. She passed on more than a decade ago and I’m still consumed by grief if I think about it too hard.

Who was the best new person you met? There are almost too many to chose from. Meeting in person my internet friends who got me through the pandemic is the correct answer. You know who you are. And I can’t wait to meet more of them. Internet friends are real friends.

What valuable life lesson did you learn this year? I learned a lot watching hero worshippers, I mean dickriders, beg their chosen figurehead to save them. But alas the only person who can save you is you.

What is a quote that sums up your year? Fuck around and find out.” But in all seriousness just doing the thing and trying shit out is actually crucial in life and business.

Categories
Emotional Work Startups

Day 719 and Step By Step

I was discussing my goals for 2023 with a friend today. They wanted to know if I was planning on making any New Year’s resolutions. I told them that I wasn’t in the habit of using a new calendar year for making big changes.

Generally speaking if I want to do a thing I just start. I honestly feel like it’s far too intimidating to declare yourself to be some kind of fundamentally new person that will, as of a certain arbitrary day, make huge life changes. It’s too much pressure. One of my rules for biohacking is to only change one variable at a time. And I don’t make big changes to it either. 10% a week is good enough for most goals. Anyone familiar with the magic of compounding knows that small changes add up to big numbers.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t started big life changing projects on January first. If you count back from 719 you will notice I first began writing on January 1st 2021. I did indeed resolve to write every day. But I hadn’t intended it as something I’d keep up for a specific amount of time. I’d hoped I’d practice my writing for thirty days and I allowed myself a little fantasy about how amazing it would be to write for a thousand days.

A thousand days seemed like an impossibility at the time which is why I allowed the fantasizing. My pragmatic side said just get started and see if you can keep going. And I did. I put one foot in front of the proverbial other for two years. Now I’m relatively confident that if I want to do so I’ll make it to a thousand days.

I approach most goals like this. I had a fantasy that I could make it as an investor. I was a founder so I thought let’s wire some small angel checks. We were already committed as a family to being startup operators so why not combine our skin in the game with a little more capital risk with our network.

I never envisioned myself raising a fund and making some big announcement about how I had a venture fund. I just started learning by doing. I cut checks. I ran some special purpose vehicles. And this year I decided to one-step-at-a-time go about raising a rolling fund. I am just doing the thing one day at a time. And it’s going well. Amazing people are coming on board. I am confident I’ll reach my goals just by putting one step in front of the other.

If you’d like to join me my goal is to raise $500K per quarter. I’ve got folks like Joel Spolsky of Stack Overflow and Michael Pryor of Trello so you will be in good company. You can read the fund overview here. Yoican sign up on Angellist through the above link or get on a call with me and we can discuss the fund, our portfolio construction and my thesis. Because I intend to work through the holidays because it remains one day at a time.

Categories
Culture

Day 712 and Effort

One of the biggest mindfucks in life is how little effort and reward are correlated. I spent a bunch of time yesterday trying to write something heartfelt and it just didn’t get there. I spent maybe 2 or 3x the amount of time I normally do writing on this piece and I just couldn’t get it to hit emotionally.

I could feel that I was pushing it too hard. I asked Alex to do an edit and a re-organization of the content. It was a lot more legible but it didn’t have that special sauce. Sometimes working at the problem doesn’t fix it. And because the topic was a little bit too of the moment I had to let it go.

None of which is to suggest that effort isn’t important. You’d be shocked at how showing up and doing the work is rewarded. Putting in a little effort takes you pretty far. And less than you’d imagine so long as you combine that work with social graces. If you are feeling stuck in life go study manners as hard as you can. Then go hang around smart people and watch the work roll in.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 707 and Self Discipline

In case it’s not readily apparent from the fact that I’ve written for seven hundred and seven straight days, I am very good at personal discipline. I can will myself to do almost anything. But this gift gets tangled up in negative emotions easily.

Part of this internal sense of discipline is the very clear set of norms I got as part of gendered expectations for good womanhood. You must exert ownership over yourself. Because without doing so, you will be unable to do the work that is expected of women.

You just discipline yourself to serve others. Because women must put other people’s priorities and schedules ahead of their own. Women must be accommodating. Women must be nice. It’s all a very careful training to insure you’d never consider stepping out of line. At it starts at self discipline.

Deviations like weight gain or chronic tardiness or looking unkempt in public were roundly censured in popular culture. I internalized all the ways in which I needed to be constantly improving, fixing, bettering and otherwise making sure I was showing up as others wanted me.

I am slowly unraveling the ways in which this has shown up negatively. Now as I try to unlearn my own obedience I find unproductive ways to rebel.

A small list of the ways this manifests. I hate external deadlines. If someone tells me I must deliver by a specific time I get anxious. If I have a morning appointment r my body wakes regularly through the night to check that I’ve not missed it. Calendars and schedules evoke feelings of despair that go back deep into my childhood. I’ve clearly been learning and unlearning this pattern for sometime.

I am deeply grateful for having discipline as a friend in my life. I have excellent habits in many areas because of it. But making it a true friend will take more time. It’s one of the hardest pieces of shadow work I’ve ever done.

Categories
Culture

Day 698 and Looking Ahead

I’ve got the sense that people are writing off big chunks of time. The long now has so thoroughly burned out everyone that who cares about achieving anything in the medium term right? December is a wash. Heck I’m talking to folks who have wrote off all of 2023 and even into 2024. The now and the long term are all that matters.

And I’m actually quite amenable to this viewpoint. I’ve still got to get things done before the end of the year. I’ve got fundraising to do and deals to close. I’m excited for how 2023 will go as a down market is a builder’s market. But I understand the frustration with trying to plan ahead when everything feels like it is crumbling. The medium term feels like a sand trap sucking in your attention and emotional energy.

It takes a guts to walk through a dark valley of despair. And we’ve got a lot to feel despairing about at the moment. But just because it is all doom and gloom doesn’t mean we’ve got no reason for optimism. People are resourceful and humans as a species are shockingly good at problem solving.

So I guess what I’m saying is I’m feeling good about looking ahead. Maybe it all takes longer than I’d like. But maybe it stops me from engaging in brute force efforts that are going to burn me out. We all just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Categories
Medical Startups

Day 696 and Edge

I’m enjoying a migraine this weekend that was both strong and as of yet unbeaten. Perhaps I overdid things on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. But I’ve been stuck in bed in a dark room for the last 48 hours or so.

While this sounds a bit miserable, I can assure you it is also part of my edge. When my physical works shrinks my cognitive capacity unfurls. I very much liken it to the traditional super hero dilemma of being gifted with something that makes living a normal life a challenge.

I may be stuck inside struggling with light, noise and smell but I can still do most of my core deep work. I can’t take calls or go to meetings but I can be on my phone and my Kindle. I can intake information and I can synthesize that information when I’m in darkness.

And that is 90% of my job. Be informed and make the best decision you can. Those decisions are generally done when you are calm and fast. And I get the benefit of being in rest and digest as often as possible as it’s what keeps me alive.

I’ve got a generalized theory related to finding one’s edge. It’s pretty simple. If other people perceive it as a weakness but you understand how to wield it as a strength then your got an edge. People dismiss you sure. But being underestimated is one hell of a way to get on the better end of a trade.

And so while I’m here looking like I might not be worthy because of some set of heuristics that’s have typically worked well for you I’m actually the one that has a leg up on you. You would do well to think about all the ways in which you can leverage talent and insights that trade below their value. You can make a lot of money betting off of truly underestimated viewpoints.