Categories
Preparedness

Day 757 and Hunker Down

I really missed the cold and snow while I was in Prague. You might be confused. Isn’t Prague known for its cold winters? Well maybe not this winter. As it turns out, the unseasonably warm winter in Eastern Europe is good for the energy crisis on the continent, but bad for someone who prefers the cold.

Thankfully we’ve got a massive snowstorm bearing down on the Gallatin Valley that has a polar vortex of arctic air coming along as a chaser. We are expected to get a foot of fresh powder over the next 24 hours and then extreme cold (another -30 with the wind chill situation) will hit us on Sunday into Monday. Looking out on our back porch we have some accumulation but it has been melting earlier.

Several layers of snow on the back porch of our farmhouse looking out across our pasture

Alex and I have a standard storm routine that we follow that is part of our habit of preparedness. The best storm preparedness tip I’ve ever gotten was to clean your house. Wash dishes, do the laundry, take a shower, and anything else that requires power and running water. You will appreciate the clean house no matter what and it extends your ability to cope with something bad happening.

I am currently feeling very fancy as I did my Sunday grooming routine today and my skin and hair are looking fantastic. If we get socked in at least I’ll be clean and pretty. I used a hair glossing seal from BeautyPie and a Mediheal collagen mask and I recommend them both.

A shockingly long receipt from Rosaurs

I also did a massive grocery run yesterday as in addition to the storm we have a houseguest coming up. The receipt was so long I had to take a picture of it surrounded by a partial haul as it’s practically CVS length. Our guest is gluten free so I did some stocking up on options for him, along with a bunch of snacks because why not?

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 755 and Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 754 and Smooth is Fast

I like to move quickly. With my enthusiasm for generating momentum, I can easily get myself myself into trouble. I’d bet you can remember a time when you accidentally slowed yourself down by trying to go too quickly.

The phrase “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” originates from the SEAL teams but the purpose behind it can be applied to all situations. There are many situations when we want to react quickly and start moving, but in your efforts to move so quickly, you end up slowing down the operation

Chris Fussel, McChrystal Group

I was rewatching William Gibson’s Peripheral and happened to hear the SEAL slogan from one of the main characters Burton. As his sister Flynne scrambles he reminds her that slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

I am taking that to heart today as I’m itching to get a bunch done. But I am still a little jet lagged from being on Europe time and I woke up a little bit sniffly and a low recovery score on my Whoop.

As tempting as it is to beat myself up about feeling behind on work or scold myself for deliberately slowing myself, I am reminded that there is a reason high performance teams like the SEALS believe slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

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
Travel

Day 751 and The Voyage Home

I began my long many legged journey back to Montana at 5:30am GMT+1. Most of my west coast friends haven’t even gone to sleep for their Friday nights as I set off before dawn on Saturday. Time zones are fun.

Journeys home make for a great narrative arc as we follow our hero from foreign lands back to his or her native land. My home is Montana so the trek from Prague is many legs and transitions.

Vaclav Havel Airport 5am in snow

She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.

William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

The first quote that comes to my mind is William Gibson’s theory of jet lag from Pattern Recognition. My soul finally caught up with me in Prague and now I’ll be waiting on my soul tail cruising behind me as I cross a continent, a channel, an ocean and another continent. I’ve got no lost luggage but a lost soul is a perpetual risk of globe trotting.

I used “The Voyage Home” as my title as it happens to be tied for my favorite Star Trek movie (along with Wrath of Khan). Yes, it is l own as “the whale movie” in which a pair of humpback whales must be brought from the past to save Earth. It is called the Voyage Home as Spock is being brought back from Vulcan by his crew after a death and rebirth sequence.

Trailing souls and rebirths are satisfactory metaphors for traveling. We work to maintain our sense of self even as our surroundings change. Sometimes those changes are transformative.

And like Spock I am stumped by a key question. “How do you feel?” Unlike Spock I do not fail to understand the nature of the question. I am sad, ashamed, angry and tired after the second visa failure. But if I must imitate everyone’s favorite Vulcan, you can tell my my mother I feel fine. Or I will soon. I am knitting together the timeline of my future with my soul in tow.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 747 and Defeat

They say you shouldn’t make big decisions after a failure or a defeat. I failed during my trip to Prague. And I’ve been trying to let go of the sting of the failure. I was trying to help a family friend secure a visa to America. It was my second attempt and second failure. I’ve been working on it for two years.

I don’t know what to do next. I am unsure if I am able to do more to help. It’s humiliating to keep failing at securing a visa. Americans have little to no idea how hard it is to get into our country. Only 40 countries of 195 can travel to America without going through our Byzantine maze of rejection and waiting.

Maybe I need more time to pass before I’ll come up with another idea or solution. Every time I write about visa issues I get back a bunch of comments from folks and alas few of them appear capable of fixing the situation. I’ve got a few leads ranging from fixers to number one ranked legal firms. We’ve reached out and secured help from congressional representatives and ambassadors.

I don’t accept defeat easily. I chew on failure like a dog on a bone. I want to find a way to a solution for our friend but at this point it’s not just about them. I need to find a path forward for myself as well.

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
Aesthetics Travel

Day 743 and Wandering

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

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

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

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