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
Emotional Work Medical Politics

Day 765 and Kobayashi Maru for Women

I woke up to a totally off handed tweet of mine going viral. I had done some googling on the cost of pregnancy surrogacy and learned that it would probably cost $200,000 a pop. I’d never really considered the cost as to be honest as I didn’t think I’d be having children that way. The responses to the tweet left me feeling despondent.

Five years ago I did IVF to freeze embryos (and eggs too) and it kicked off a massive health crisis that I only feel I’ve gotten under control recently. It took everything from me. I was on medical leave, I sold my startup, and my marriage got to learn what “in sickness and in health” really means. It was awful. I am crying just remembering.

It took years to get healthy again. Of course, I first had to get stable at all. I spent years, and a huge chunk of savings, biohacking my way back to a body healthy enough to work. I’m thrilled to be back doing what I love most which is working with early stage companies. But work wasn’t the only goal of getting healthy.

I’ve had a fantasy that if I just kept at my biohacking that one day I’d be off all these medications. That I could truly be healed. That all this trouble and heartache wouldn’t be permanent. That I could heal myself. Unsaid in all of that, is that I cannot be pregnant and on the medications that saved my life. How is that for a kick in the teeth.

I’ve got two embryos and ten eggs and a fleeting dying ember of hope that I could ever carry them. I don’t know if having them via a surrogate is my path forward. Maybe there is still hope I could be healthy enough. I frankly don’t know and I’m not ready to say where my fertility is headed.

All I know is that this feels like a no scenario. That having a child in America is a fraught and expensive endeavor even when everything goes right and you are healthy and young. There is no winning as a woman as any decision around family is going to upset someone.

It’s the Kobayashi Maru for American women. Juggling your partner (or partners), your money, your home, your health and your fertility means balls get dropped. You are going to lose somewhere. And it really hurts.

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 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
Uncategorized

Day 739 and Immigration Anxiety

My family has been working on a visa for a friend to come visit us in the United States. It’s felt like the longest 2 years of everyone’s lives. I had no idea how broken our visa and immigration system ones until we tried to invite a family friend with a bad passport on vacation to America.

Sure the pandemic distended wait times into bulging impossible monstrosities, we pushed simple state department work into an impossible task. But it’s not just the broken bureaucracy at play. It’s a system so broken by it’s own disdain and lack of resourcing, your only hope is the grace of God.

If you tried to arrange a tourist visa for someone from the global south you’d find the next available appointment for a tourist visa was three years down the road. And this was after the borders opened up after the pandemic got to be too much trouble. It only got worse from there. I quickly become shocked at how impossible it is to travel to America if you aren’t on a Schengen passport from Europe.

I’ve been working on this seemingly intractable problem for well over two years. We are on our second embassy appointment. The first visit was in Frankfurt in March where it was immediately turned down without the officer even looking at the paperwork. Thousands of dollars and endless time lost to a random bureaucrat in thirty seconds.

And you aren’t even allowed to ask them to take another look as they could ban you on the spot. I cried I was so humiliated after seeing that first refusal. How could America be so broken? We did everything right and it didn’t matter. Kafkaesque doesn’t begin to describe it.

Apparently the American state department treats a visa like a Rabbi handling a conversion. It took another 10 months to schedule a follow up appointment in Prague. Our friend’s home embassy has a three year wait so we’ve been going to European embassies to avoid needing to pay a bribe for an appointment in his home country. Legal immigration is much harder than illegal immigration.

So we planned a trip to Prague. And now the appointment is tomorrow. And I’m terrified. I’m despondent. I’ve done everything right and I have no idea if we will succeed. And it’s not even a visa for me. I can’t imagine how they feel. To be treated as if you are a criminal when all you want to do is visit friends and spend money in a other country.

I’m almost embarrassed how invested I’ve become in making this work but I will not allow myself to be beaten by this system. Guests do not deserve this humiliation and America is my house.

Mind you this is for a tourist visa not a work visa or a green card. This is just for coming to enjoy tourism and spend time with friends and family. Tourism is an important part of the American economy. Especially where I live in Montana. The whole world wants to see Yellowstone.

The entire process has been so humiliating for everyone involved. As the sponsor of the visa I filled out a form called an I-134 where I had to prove my net worth, my home ownership, my income, my job and compensation. I accepted personal financial responsibility for them.

This after being instructed that our guest must show strong ties to their home country and a minimum financial independence of their own. They had to show their home ownership, car deeds, work pay stubs & tenure at the company, not to mention guardianship and primary care responsibilities for their grandmother among many other invasive questions. The paranoia of visa overstays has made it so no one can get a tourist visa at all.

All this humiliation be granted the privilege of spending wealth in America as a tourist. It’s beyond insulting. It only gets worse for each step down the line if you want to work or live in America.

If you’ve ever wondered why we don’t have more legal immigrants this is why. Insofar as I can tell there are two ways to get to America. Illegal crossing and you pray. Or tens of thousands of dollars and years of waiting and you pray. Oh and you probably only get to come if you do it illegally. It is a crisis in every sense of the word.

We’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars, weeks of time on the ground in foreign countries and it has gotten us no where.

We’ve also called in everyone type of favor and access we could find. A privilege most lack. Our constituent services office at our Congressional office has been amazing. They submitted a letter asking for a fair review.

If the hundreds of pages of professionally prepared paperwork, the millions of dollars of financial assets and a congressional letter of fair treatment simply aren’t enough, I wouldn’t be too proud to go crying hat in hand to the ambassador to please consider our case. All we want to do is have a family friend granted the freedom to travel. I’ve got no idea where to turn if it isn’t granted.

I’m so anxious and depressed now that the culmination of so many years of work is coming down to one short interview tomorrow, over which we had no control. I’m mess. I’ve let it get to me.

I cannot fathom what else we could do. If millions of dollars of assets, a by the book legal case, multiple political appointees vouching for us and a good faith effort to show our personal responsibility aren’t enough, than what is enough for America?

My fear is nothing will be good enough and I will be despondent in tears tomorrow by 11am. And I pray I have the strength to fight on if it happens. Because I believe in America and I will go to the mat to bring more people to see it’s splendor. Empire’s end won’t happen on my watch without a fight.

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
Travel

Day 736 and Liminal Civilization

It must have been somewhere in the late nineties or early aughts that I first learned about the concept of liminal spaces. I’m fairly certain I got it from William Gibson. I’ve associated it with travel and the in-between spaces like corridors, escalators to nowhere and empty lounges. But it really means any in-between space that is not clearly claimed as one type of space or another. The rules of the space are unclear as it doesn’t have an identity.

After my most recent flight to Germany last night, I am wondering if manners and social contracts can be liminal too. Between the spaces where rules and social probity apply, and where we believe we can we can engage in bad behavior, is liminal civilization.

You are not quite bounded by the rules of your friends and countrymen nor are you fully bound by agreed upon civilizational manners when traveling. And nowhere is this truer than traveling when sick.

On the first leg of my flight a white twenty something gentleman sat next to me. He had an awful cough. He would sniffle, hack and then snurg up a ball of snot and swallow it down on repeat. I hadn’t put on a mask as the airport was mostly empty and so was the flight.

But I was next to a gentleman who was clearly in the grips of some type of viral infection. I put on a KN95 and didn’t remove it. He stated daggers at me. Like I was the rude one. But frankly I had no intention of getting his cold.

On my second flight I encountered a couple even further removed from decent manners and leaning full into liminal incivility. United had a huge fuck up on my flight which had them scrambling to reseat me after they gave away my seat when their own flight didn’t make it to Denver. I had bought another ticket on another flight and checked in at the lounge and has my husband call to confirm but alas I almost didn’t make it onto my flight. After pleading, I was reseated next to these two chumps.

I noticed the wife coughing first. A polite hem hem cough sniffle sniffle. She asked the flight attendant for a tissue. But her companion was far sicker. He coughed every 8-10 seconds while he was awake. A wracking hacking wet cough. And neither one of them had masks. A passenger with a baby asked if they would consider one. I said I had masks still in their wraps and NyQuil if it might help.

Whatever liminal edge of society in which they live, it is clearly one where the politics of masking has taken them so far beyond the bounds of basic decency, no one on the flight could convince them to cover up. Not even while the flight circulator was off during take-off, landing and taxi. These were visibly sick people. It wasn’t Covid paranoia. It was simply please keep your germs contained.

The gentleman thought it was so rude. Unless someone has cancer or another immune disease it was ridiculous for anyone to wear a mask. He explained has anti-bodies so it was clear he couldn’t get any of us sick. That’s how antibodies worked he explained. We stated incredulously. His argument was because he has had“it” before his immune system was fine. He couldn’t get us sick. In fact he wasn’t even sick really, just showing symptoms right? Needless to say this isn’t how infection works.

Furthermore, if he could get any of us sick from these coughing fits, it was because we were weak. I told him I took immune suppressants for a spinal condition and an infant was one seat away from him. The parents of the child and I both wanted to avoid a cold or flu if possible. He just laughed and said we were idiots.

I can’t really fathom living this far out of basic civilizational norms. It used to be impolite to cough in people’s faces. You were encouraged not to travel when ill. Other cultures introduced masks so the ill wouldn’t infect the rest of us. But since COVID’s disastrously overdone masking policies, we’ve now lost a basic tool of hygiene and human decency to keep those infected from harming others.

One reason I identify as a doomer is because of how often I see people like these three travelers completely ignore the needs, wants, desires and safety of others. It’s like they have their own bubble and fuck any of us with our needs and boundaries my desire to not get sick is just my opinion man. And it’s rude of me to ask.

I ended up masking till the air circulators came on. I slept without one. I hope the baby managed. If I were their parents I’d be furious some asshole decided his right to engage in society when sick was so much more important than theirs. Travel might be full of liminal cultural spaces where the rules of civilization no longer matter. Covid broke everyone’s brains.

Categories
Background Chronicle

Day 729 and My 22 Round Up

I scrambled a bit to do round up of this year’s posts. I went through through each day individually and attempted to sort posts that grabbed me into succinct categories. I don’t want to call it a “best of” list so much as a set of themes and experiences that made up my 2022. It was quite a year.

The most popular post I wrote this year was my viral hit about dickriders by a huge margin. The tweet got several million views and the blog post got upwards of 50,000 readers. Nothing else even compares. I think my some of my most honest writing came through two days in May when Alex and I decided to buy our house in Montana. Day 499 and 500 respectively. But I cover a huge breadth of topics over the year so without further ado here is the list. In no particular order.

Twitter Shit

Dick Riders or Don’t Outsource Your Credibility

Excession, Nerd Wounds & Needing to Be Liked

Gender Politics.

Mommy Issues, Girlbossing, & Chivalry for Women After Feminism

The Cuckservatives

The Fuck Boys

The Thot Leaders

Startup Content

My #5Before40 Project to Build Chaotic Capital in Public

Managing Founders or The Rule of 3 Asks

How To Do Cold Outreach

Managing Winter As A Metaphor For Downturns

The Importance of Corporate Governance for Startups

Glass Cannons, Gaming & Going Critical In Startup Life

Accidentally Ahead Of The Fraud Trend

Shoot The Puck or Letterkenny as a Metaphor for Startups

Vibe Shifts, Web3 and End Times at EthDenver

High Agency People

How I Sensemake My Investments

Emotional Work

FTX, Crashes, And History Repeating

A Love Letter To My Husband About Chores

Being A Daddy’s Girl

Halfway There or 500 Days

Vinegar or Why Boundaries Are Good

The Emotions of Buying Your First House

The Emotional Security of Owning A Home

A Painting Without Shadows is Flat

A Deep Sense of Okayness

Watching Others Drown

Montana

Bozeman, Boulder and the Uncanny Valley of Progress in The American Mountain West

Hospitality, Guest Rooms & Welcoming

Leaping into Action or How A Wilderness EMT Course Helped Me Work in Chaos.

We’re Not In Colorado Anymore & Our Digital Barn Raising Move

Health & Biohacking

The Personal Politics of America’s Drug War

Aesthetics, Religion and Botox

The Poetry of Migraines & Stretched Time

A Meditation On Heat, Social Mores, Pain, and Texas

Tracker Jacker or When Your Health is Outside The Mean

Politics

Preparedness, Consumer Culture & Distrust

Margin Call & Collapse

Women & Bodily Autonomy, Young Male Reactionaries and Groypers

The Humiliation of America’s Broken Immigration System

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
Internet Culture

Day 725 and Messaging on Twitter

For all the debate and consternation and concern around Elon Musk buying Twitter, there was a sizable group of power users, myself included, who were optimistic that Elon taking over would lead to a revitalization of the Twitter product. An injection of user aligned passion to fix all the little stuff that would improve the experience. So far we’ve gotten different colored verification badges and ads that are stuck to the top of our feeds.

But speaking as someone who’s seen it grow from the earliest days, who has spent untold hours on the site, for whom it’s been a lifeline during the pandemic and my own health issues, there’s really there’s only one thing that Twitter needs: make it a first class messaging application. Make DMs great again.

I love Twitter’s direct messaging feature. It is the glue that holds together my deal flow and my fundraising. It has all of the network of LinkedIn professionally, with none of its cringe. In fact, Twitter makes you look cooler. It’s the place where your achievements meet your personality. It actually is a holistic place to display yourself as a person. And shockingly we like to work with people that are authentic. Humans like empathy and vulnerability.

A Twitter DM comes with context. You know if you are mutuals. You can open it to people your followers follow. An excellent heuristic for deciding on how to direct your attention. You trust your network to make some decisions for you.

The ability to connect with people via DMs literally can’t be recreated elsewhere – there’s no trading contact info, confirming who you are on, – just see something interesting, click the person, send a message.

And because these messages are so powerful we desperately need improved features for communication on them. A few industry baseline improvements are all it would take to go from worst in class to baseline usability.

Threaded/Contextual Responses

A Twitter DM has no in-line individual message responses. This makes it hard to have a conversation that flows like it does in iMessage, Signal or WhatsApp. It makes it utterly chaos for Group DMs. Of which I’m in a number. I’ve used them to organize parties at crypto conferences and to guide the direction of a Doomer community. Imagine how crazy a chat with 20 people in it looks like without inline messaging. Absolutely nuts. But still easier than migrating to Discord.

Organization

While this isn’t technically a feature set for just DM, right now we can’t search our own followers or organize them with anything but the most manual full sight search. It would have been handy to see everyone who follows me in Austin Texas when I was there for the conference. I could have done a meet up much more easily. Or if founders could search by venture capital in profile bios and cross reference it with people their friends follow. Instant warm leads list.

We could build target lists based on who is most followed relevant to any of our passions or interests. Great Twitter users do this on intuition. That’s why Twitter is notorious for launching careers and fulfilling dreams. They had an entire advertising campaign based on it. #TwitterDoYourThing.

Search

DM search is completely unusable. I know multiple people who use texts.com literally JUST because it’s search of Twitter DMs work, unlike native search.

I’ve had some of the most valuable conversations of my life in DMs and yet its almost impossible to go back a few months later and find them.

Also while they’re at it, can they just fix Twitter search in general?

E2E Encryption

This one speaks for itself.

If Twitter could deliver on the promise of giving to its entire user base what it has given for its power users, their financial woes would surely improve. Plenty of proven ways to monetize people who you make money. But this all starts on the premise that we can message each other. We tweet into a wild stream and we get replies back. But what comes next is a better networked world. I’d be pissed if they took 10% but I would not scoff at 1%. If Elon wants to become WeChat he has to fix DMs first.