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.

Emotional Work

Day 720 and Good Inputs

I’ve been enjoying how relaxed and open everyone is this week. A good chunk of folks are out on break for Christmas (with the requisite nod to Chanukah) and it’s making for delightful conversations and relaxed interactions.

Having more time to attend to your life clearly is beneficial for everyone. I know it’s been a frantic year. Heck it’s been a frantic couple of years. And being frantic fucks you up. I feel like I repeat this constantly, but being in fight or flight on a permanent basis is bad for you.

So it’s nice to see people have space to breathe. I love seeing people bring more of themselves to an encounter. I’ve had so many great connections with people this week. It’s shown up in my fundraising. I’ve seen it in my deal flow. I’ve enjoyed it in every interaction I’ve had this week.

It makes me wish more people could have the space to give themselves the right inputs in their lives. It won’t be the same for everyone. But it really does help when people have the basics like sleeping, eating, exercising and other “taking care of their body” activities time. I hope that everyone remembers the joy of the season is from giving everyone around us grace. And that includes ourselves.

Aesthetics Startups

Day 714 and Cosmetic Organization

I used to be the CEO of a cosmetics company called Stowaway. We were a direct to consumer brand that manufactured and retailed our own line of travel sized makeup. Alas I got too sick to work and we sold the company to a private equity holding firm who shuttered it during the pandemic. I’m “shocked” that travel sized red lipstick wasn’t popular during two years of masking and lockdown.

I don’t particularly want to work in cosmetics again, even though I have arguably priceless experience that could be put to good use helping other brands. Startups are are traumatic and it’s not unusual for founders to find it challenging to work in spaces they know well. You don’t want to undermine the enthusiasm of founders. Also you’ve probably taken enough risks for a lifetime in a given space to never want to touch it again even if you made money.

But I do still enjoy being a consumer of cosmetics. I’ve got what might be the most comprehensive library of travel sized makeup in existence. I moved all of it up to Montana this year where it lives in a modestly organized vanity. For some reason I decided do a little reorganization of it today.

A very messy cosmetics vanity littered with makeup bags, travel sized packaging and a Sephora advent calendar.

Instead of finding a new schema for where I plan to keep all my products, I made it much worse. I let myself get a little bit of tunnel vision and instead of playing around for half an hour I spent an ungodly amount of time making it much worse. I’ve got drawers that are bursting with tiny mascaras, tiny lipsticks, tiny eye shadow palettes and thousands of other items.

I was surprised to find myself enjoying it. I did some comparisons of packaging and formulations and found that I was still quite pleased with what we had built. Many new brands have emerged since then but the promise of a minimalist purse friendly brand remains elusive. I see all the ways I failed but I also saw all the ways in which our team succeeded. And it was nice to feel like perhaps I’d learned something. But now I’ve got to clean it all up before my husband steps on an eyeliner.


Day 713 and Travel Logistics

I’m planning my first international trip since we moved to Montana. I will be going to Prague for a couple weeks in January if you happen to be around. And the logistics are very much only for experienced travelers.

I’ve not yet had to fly out through the Bozeman Airport but Alex tells me it is easy and straight forward. We have many short hops to international airports. The real issue seems to be that with a pilot shortage getting out of hand, arranging layovers eats up more of your travel time. Airlines are less able to do hub banking with their flights so I will be enjoying a six hour layover in Munich. Finally all my German lessons on Duolingo will get a property stress test.

I love optimizing for Airbnbs when I travel. I have a lot of little details that I look for when I’m going to be somewhere long enough to settle in. For instance, I like to cook my own meals. I like to be walking distance to a grocery store so I can pick up ingredients and cook when the mood strikes. That can be trickier if you are staying in a downtown area. So I look to be near the major neighborhoods but maybe just a bit off the beaten path.

I managed this quite well in Frankfurt last year where I was a short 10 minute walk to a high end grocery store in one direction while also being only 15 minutes from the main shopping area and farmers market in the other. I didn’t take a single cab or Uber the entire time except to get to the airport. It was absolutely perfect planning for enjoying living as if Frankfurt were my home.

I think I’ve achieved this for Prague. I found a cute spot that is equidistant to to most of the sights I want to see as well as the errand and obligations on my itinerary. I am yet again attempting to help someone with an American visa so I wanted to be near the embassy. But the embassy row isn’t much for other amenities like grocery and nightlife so I found a spot on a small park next to all the crucial shops. I am excited so if you have suggestions I am all ears.

Internet Culture

Day 704 and Nothing Is Real

One of my favorite science fiction series is Ian M Bank’s Culture series. Attempting to give a basic premise is a bit of a disservice to the sweeping space opera, but the TLDR is advanced artificial intelligence has spread humanity’s descendants to the stars in a massive pan-galactic utopian civilizational diaspora.

This future transhuman utopia has finally reconciled humanity’s inherent lack of cognitive processing power and set about flourishing in other ways, while our various AI friends, the Minds, make sure we are kept fed, watered and sheltered in sundry starships, megastructures and planets.

The Culture regularly engages in wars and espionage as it absorbs new species and civilizations, sees others off to the enlightenment (called the Sublimed) and generally gets up to batshittery because sometimes AI is inscrutable. It very fun and if you’ve not read them there is no real order just grab a book and start. If you need a starting place go with Use of Weapons.

The Culture has been on my mind has we are enjoying something of a Cambrian explosion of artificial intelligence generative art tools including the open source Stable Diffusion, OpenAI’s DALL E, and Mid Journey. People have been having a blast creating all kinds of wild imagery. Our tools are rapidly outpacing us in their ability to generate reality.

But I’ll fully admit I didn’t think it was personally that fun to fuck around with until we got a text generator from OpenAI called GPTChat. Surprise surprise I’m more interested in the written word than I am in generative art. I made all kinds of dumb prompts.

And I’m definitely having a bit of a Neo in the Matrix whoa moment with the possibilities. Imagine how much gets automated when our basic communication mechanics are freed from squishy meat space. It’s a long way to a Culture Mind but I definitely had a moment where I thought oh fuck some of us baseline humans are going to struggle to adapt to a manufactured world that isn’t created primarily by other humans. What a fucking trip!

And now I cannot get the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields out of my head. The creative realities emerging from our human minds might not be the dominant ones within my lifetime. I won’t have a clue what is real or what is a fantasy created entirely by machine. And doesn’t that just demand a reassessment of how real is our reality in the first place.

Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever

Strawberry Fields

Now the the Beatles were in an LSD phase but most of us are familiar with the glimpses of different realities that underline the shared sentiment that what if in fact nothing is real. But is it such a big deal? Our egos don’t need to get hung up about another tool to remake reality.

But we should be prepared to find out that our world and all our creations might be sharing space with some very strange new ways to mould reality. I cannot wait for the mind fuck personally. I hope I get adopted by a Culture ship with a name like Extentuating Circumstances or Nervous Disposition

Aesthetics Emotional Work

Day 681 and Boob Tube

In a sign of how emotionally over this week this week I am, the first thing I thought when I woke up was “I’ve got so much good tv to watch!”

I wasn’t allowed to watch television as a child. So it’s a bit ironic that it is my personal view as an adult that television is America’s best developed art form. While one can’t deny that impact American film, music and fashion, it is our television that moves global culture. Only Bollywood and anime have even come close to its impact in the last several decades.

I truly love television as a cultural mirror. I don’t think you can work in any of the culture industries (including Silicon Valley) without being aware of the mythology of television. Our archetypes and tropes are reinvented and reimagined over and over as references become anchors. No art is so naturally effective at reinvention as television returns episode after episode and season after season. No story is ever finished.

I’m particularly pleased that so many stories are returning this weekend. I’ll be watching new seasons of Mythic Quest, the Crown, Yellowstone and the Good Fight. Which is quite a lot of television for one person even on a weekend where you want to do nothing but tune out to the boob tube.

I’m only adding two two show new to my rotation this season and one is the absolutely excellent William Gibson project on Amazon called Peripheral. No one has ever done the near future as well as Gibson and his take on the Jackpot is already playing out. My last public event before the pandemic hit was a reading of one of the books that this shoe is based on It absolutely deserves wider recognition.

The other is a show I just began is called Reboot. It is an is oddly not at all solipsistic look at making a sitcom from the vantage point of formerly estranged father daughter pair of show runners. As someone who also followed in the footsteps of her father and has complex feelings on abandonment and family legacy it has been quite a comfort over the last week. As I look at history repeating within the context of my own family and within the wider financial markets, I appreciated considering that perhaps we are capable of overcoming our traumas. And that maybe all our parents ever wanted was for us to learn from them.

Internet Culture

Day 660 and When Extremely Online Goes Terminal

I committed one of the cardinal sins of the extremely online yesterday. So much discourse was happening I overwhelmed myself. Just like an endless stream of stuff was hitting my hind brain and like an idiot I just kept drinking from the firehose of engagement. I stayed up till 1am.

I’m typically careful about how much central nervous system stress I’m willing to tolerate. It’s a hazard of the job when being visibly online and searching for investments is mostly virtual. Purposely consuming a significant amount of bad news or scrolling the deep cuts of the dark corners of the message boards is meant to be done in small doses. I have no need to push my endocrine system into permanent fight or flight. No one does. It’s very counterproductive.

Going into a sympathetic nervous response is a part of life though. Some stress is good. I have an entire routine for soothing an overstimulated vagus nerve. I take adaptogens. I meditate. I live in Montana with plenty of open spaces and fresh air. I am skilled in discerning agitprop from all corners of the information wars. When I dive into the dopamine river I do so responsibly with the right tools. Don’t try this at home kids.

But that doesn’t mean I’m immune from drowning in the dopamine drip. I just have a good chance of pulling myself out before it’s too late. Around 9pm or so it became clear that even after a quiet dinner, some CBD and THC gummies, and relaxing television with my husband that I was in fact still very much in sympathetic response.

I panicked a little bit as hour after hour passed and I continued to be reactive. I’d started a negative flywheel. I took an Ativan fully expecting the steroid of the mind to knock me out. It did not. And so giving in to all my worst impulses stayed on Twitter. Fuck it if the good rare drugs weren’t doing it. I said “let ‘er rip!” I had recently finished the Bear.

Today I undid the damage. I slept until my body decided it was time to wake up. I followed my supplement routine carefully. For the TMI readers I had about a dozen orgasms. I slept some more. I stretched and took a walk. I took a long leisurely shower with every possibly form of exfoliating and conditioning I could imagine. And now at the end of the day I think I might have pushed my case of terminally online back to a place of merely extremely online. Let that be a lesson to everyone.

Emotional Work

Day 653 and Flat Lay

I am “enjoying” the monthly gift of a horrific migraine pattern courtesy of my Aunt Flo. It appears to be one of those all day twenty four hour beasts. I am laid out flat from it.

My suspicion is I made the symptoms modestly worse by barreling through the past two weeks in my enthusiasm for my life. Life is good and that presents some challenges for me in over doing things.

The world may be unraveling but the personal realm of Julie Fredrickson has rarely been better than it is now. As it turns out, moving to Montana was an inspired long term investment right from the get-go. So naturally I want to share this good fortune with my most beloved. We’ve had an influx of friends and family.

One of the spiritual guardians of the the homestead is Elle Morrill. She was with us when we found the farm and made an offer on it. As we built out our guest rooms, Elle’s Room, has been name that stuck. As you can imagine, I was beyond excited to have her come visit for my birthday.

It is a beautiful thing to feel loved and cared for on one’s birthday. This whole week has been a rush of joy and support, running the gambit from being fed and nourished by Elle to being welcomed and aided by wider the startup community with my fundraise for

I can feel myself expanding and reaching for new competence and new horizons through the efforts of my friends. Elle made a Coq au Vin. Is there anything that says a love language quite like feeding someone? My love language might be writing but I think this gesture is easy to translate.

Coq au Vin or Chicken in Win with rice pilaf.

But nothing sweet can be enjoyed fully without a hint of bitterness for contrast. Light is only illuminating against the presence of the dark. A painting without shadows is flat. And so the flat lay photographs of sumptuous gourmet meals made with love and care by someone I love perhaps has to be contrasted by being laid out flat with a migraine.

So as I lay flat in bed yearning for the energy to be with Elle, with my work, and with my life, I must remind myself that the work of art that is my life needs the shadows too.

Emotional Work

Day 648 and Open

I share a lot of myself online. For an introvert with more than a hint of Autism you’d think I’d find it mortifying to be as open as I am online. My therapist would probably say it’s because I like the distance provided by sharing online and it’s hard to disagree. But I like being open to the world. I want to be a little beacon in the storm so that you might find me if you are looking.

But while I am so open to the public online, I am protective of my personal space for a number of reasons. I guard my health and my body as I manage a chronic disease. I prefer to operate from a place of non-reactivity as I like my central nervous system to maintain eustress. And I am not generally energized by spending time with others. I am energized by alone time.

But like any other human I do want to be seen. And I want others to feel like I am seeing them. I prize empathy and openness. Showing my vulnerability and weaknesses with the world is part of how I try to be seen and also let others know I see them.

My efforts to be healthy and my struggles with pain and fat are human problems. Maybe other aspects of my life are less relatable, but being worried about my weight and struggling with physical discomfort is the stuff of being an average woman.

I am perhaps overly sensitive to what I perceive as failures and short comings. I project confidence but it isn’t always natural. But I also recognize that, even if flaws terrify the part of me that is still emotionally a child, these supposed failings are the human condition. Everyone has elements of their bodies, their emotions and their intellect that they occasionally feel shame about. We are all working to let go of that shame.

I want the people I work with, especially the founders who are pouring their lives into their companies, to know that they are psychologically safe with me. Doing new things is hard. Creation is hard. Building is hard. Startups are hard. Shouldn’t your investors and advisors be a safe harbor to share those challenges with?

If you are feeling scared or ashamed or angry about yourself, I want you to know you are not alone. It’s ok to be open about your power and your accomplishments and your unique genius. And it’s also ok to be open about all the things you struggle with as well. You contain multitudes.

So if you see me putting out huge asks online or sharing incredibly embarrassing details, I want you to know it is because I see you and I trust you to see me too.

And if we are meant to be in each others lives then it will because we are capable of seeing the multitudes in each other. And if that is not for you that’s ok too. We all deserve to be loved as we are. I trust you. And I hope you might trust me too.

Aesthetics Travel

Day 600 and High Season

A lot of folks seem to be coming through Montana over the next two weeks. Maybe it’s the nature of high season that people flock to Montana at the end of the summer?

But it’s been quite fun to have all kinds of friends, mutuals and acquaintances reach out to make plans. Visibility on Twitter has played a large role in this, as anyone passing through Montana might be inclined to grab a meal or a drink if they scroll their local mutuals. I like to think I am top of mind because I am a good hang but it’s probably because I’m just quite visible.

All these tourists has got a bit of a “center of the universe” feel to it. It’s like a mountain summer town version of Manhattan during fashion week. Or Los Angeles during the Oscars. I’ve got to say it feels like I’m Monaco and it’s F1 racing season. Every city of note has an event that brings all of the jet set to their hometown.

I’m usually mixed on doing too much social activity but I’ve been feeling like socializing more. I’ve even been eating out with much more frequency. And what’s amazing about it is that in the past I didn’t want to do more than a couple events a month. But this end of summer in Montana thing has me looking forward to more deck cocktails, eating cold cherries on the marble kitchen slab, going to pubs and ale houses, and maybe even a few steak houses too.