Categories
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.

Categories
Chronic Disease Community

Day 571 and Isolation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Aesthetics Startups Travel

Day 526 and Out of Practice Yuppie

A well dressed, tall, friendly looking white gentleman tried to join me on an otherwise empty blue velvet couch that I had deliberately planted myself in the middle of to avoid socializing. All that was missing was a “closed for business” sign around my neck.

I had attempted to tell him “no actually this seat is taken.” I was confused he didn’t immediately pick up on my body language. I had spread my entire body across the couch and had intensely “don’t come here” body language. I had my purse down to take up more space. I laid my hand with my wedding ring on my knee so it’s instantly visible. He didn’t pick up a single visual cue. I tried verbal. I literally shouted at him that no he wasn’t welcome to join me. “This seat is taken!” Didn’t make a difference.

I don’t think he could hear me as he sat down and tried to strike up a conversation despite his obvious discomfort clinging to the edge of the couch with half a butt cheek in mid air. He tried a few lines of conversation as I doggedly ignored him. I started a tweet and angled my phone screen towards him so he could see me typing complaints. Didn’t help at all.

I really had done everything I could to claim this space as my own. The couch was directly beneath an air vent trying to push cooler air into the crowded house bar. It was as hot inside the bar as it was outside but this one area had modestly more airflow making the summer heat at least breathable.

Which is to say it was over 100 degrees inside the old house. The Rainey Street bars in Austin are all converted old historical houses with wide open full floor windows and open doors to allow people to enjoy backyards with twinkling lights and hipster backyard games. These bars are a cultural treasure in March for SXSW when everyone enjoys the mild 70 degree early spring. In June during a heatwave they are a hellscape for yuppies who have simply forgotten how to socialize like normal human beings.

I was engaging in some incredibly rude behavior yes, but the bar has no other visible seating near an air vent and even the 5 degrees of lowered temperature and the moving air helped a little. I was wearing loose comfortable clothing but it was still intolerable. I regretted not sourcing a wheelchair for the week but then again none of these houses are accessible anyway. It was the only spot in the entire bar where I could even attempt to mitigate the effects of my invisible disability.

I could feel my spine starting to swell within minutes. Ankylosis is a winter disease. Heat and humidity swell the spine and that pain will radiate out to a kind of ambient full body throbbing intensity that cannot easily be ignored.

Actually, pain is just like the heat in that way. It overtakes your willpower slowly but inexorably. Quietly it makes itself known like the stillness of Joseph Conrad’s Jungle.

“And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect.”

Joseph Conrad “Heart of Darkness”

The amount of determination you have to play mind-over-matter games is simply a fight against time. Eventually you get tired from the effort. You pray you don’t let it take you to the dark places it took Kurtz. But you know one day it could take you too.

Eventually my husband came back. He’d been searching for a bathroom and our hosts for the evening. The yuppie next to me pretended to ignore him. He sat for another two minutes or so just to give the impression he’s weirdly close proximity to me was on purpose as a resting place and not at all an attempt to strike up a conversation with a woman who did not want to talk. A tactic we’ve all used once or twice to conceal a social faux we didn’t mean to commit.

Alex and I used to attend parties like this all the time. We were aggressively on the circuit for both tech and media events for well over a decade. He used to produce TechCrunch Disrupt in a long distant past before he transitioned into being an operator at early stage startups. Then those startups matured to established companies. And now it’s become clear we are established professionals.

We no longer need the social circuit. Networking has lost its payouts. More people want to meet us and ask for things than the other way around. We’ve made it. And it’s a good thing too as the social contract is breaking down all around us. Yuppies have forgotten their manners as we are all out of practice with the basic niceties of the social season. Everything from how we approach someone to begin a conversation to whom we may invite to a private event is now fraught. Hell I can’t even remember how to apply professional makeup anymore so I can’t look down on a man looking to chat. We’ve all lost some of our humanity over the pandemic.

And I find myself mumbling “the horror, the horror” as I walk myself back to the hotel because the streets won’t allow taxis in the downtown core. The transition from soft times to whatever comes next is full of unexpected surprises.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 520 and A Thousand Words

I’ve done a lot of writing that isn’t for this blog recently. And it’s mostly been about DAOs and corporate governance. My talk for Consensus involved a fair amount of original writing and research. If you want a preview of it it just went up today. To be honest I was tempted to just repost here to count for today as it’s very good. I hope you will read it.

And then this morning I decided why not jump into Jami Attenberg’s #1000WordsofSummer. It’s a two week community exercise in putting the proverbial pen to paper. I’ve been wanting to play around with writing science fiction as it’s my favorite genre.

I got down a thousand words about a a woman who is a sentiment analyst for a a bunch of DAOs in the 2070s. I wanted to explore what an alternative corporate governance structure fork from hierarchical limited liability corporations into decentralized autonomous organizations might look like practically. I’m not sure if it’s any good but I had fun with laying out some thought experiments.

She was probably stuck with low yield yoga and step side quests which wouldn’t do much to make up for the loss of her analyst pay. Investment DAOs paid better than scientific ones. Anyone that contributed to price discovery remained well remunerated. That had been true in her grandma’s day too.

My protagonist is trying to take a break from her workload but still needs to earn some side hustle to make up for the shortfall. I take you through her thought process on what to do. It’s mostly an excuse to riff on how we will sell different kinds of our personal data but maybe also get more in return. Lots of theory of labor value goofing off that I hopefully find a way to put into an enjoyable narrative structure.

It seems a bit crazy to take on an additional writing experiment when I already opt into writing every single day. But this blog has really evolved into a personal space to explore how I feel and what I’m working on. It doesn’t really build on itself in a natural narrative fashion. So I’ll keep poking away at a thousand words of fiction and see what happens. I can’t promise I’ll publish it but I may just put it out there for fun.

Categories
Media

516 and Shoot the Puck

There is a Canadian comedy called Letterkenney that has absolutely won my heart. It has snappy writing that shines through characters that are given real depth over multiple seasons. It’s funny as shit and absolutely vulgar. I couldn’t recommend it more highly. It’s about a small town living and being a hick, but that’s almost besides the point.

The show had an ancillary character, Shoresy, played by the creator of the series Jared Keeso ,who is a foul mouthed hockey player. Shoresy was spun out into its own series and recently premiered. I binged it over the long weekend with my husband. I won’t spoiler any of the plot, it except to say it’s got one of the strongest season endings I’ve ever watched.

What started as a truly disgusting bit of scatalogical humor ends up being the basis for a show with real heart. I found myself getting teary eyed as a story of teamwork unfolded. There is some classic underdog (literally the team is called the Bulldogs), tropes but you genuinely don’t mind. The emotional journey still works.

I’m a startup person so I’ve got a soft spot for watching something messy come together. And nothing is messier than a team that is dysfunctional. You root for them. As teams coalesce and a sense of identity forms, you cannot help but root for the improvement.

I’ve got a theory that the emotional rollercoaster of that process makes you prone to latching into aphorisms and simple wisdom. Its got something to do with the humility that comes from learning shit and being being bad at that shut. I suspect because everything is so chaotic when it’s new. The process of “becoming” so simply do mind shattering that koans and just-so story pearls of wisdom have added weight. They anchor you in the chop of uncertainty.

For Shoresy, the aphorism that tugged most on my heart strings was “you can’t score a goal if you don’t shoot the puck.” A simple sports metaphor so evocative you probably saw it on Naval’s Twitter account. Well ok maybe in just in second stringer venture capitalist sincere post. Clearly Ted Lasso isn’t the only sports sitcom show that can teach us something about becoming our most best empathetic selves.

Categories
Emotional Work Startups

Day 505 and Deadlines

I’m trying to stave off a cortisol spike that my body simply does not need. I’ve got a talk coming up for Consensus in June and I owe an editorial with my main thesis along with any visuals I may need for the talk due next week.

I know the area I plan to speak about quite well. It is titled the InDAOstrial Revolution and I plan to cover some far future possibilities for what the new organizational structure can bring. And I do mean far as I’ll talk about some radical ideas like data collectives for rare diseases and networked nation states. I’m really excited as I think decentralized autonomous organizations offer us a new path for how we can pool different kinds of resources. I think DAOs give humans a chance to build better bigger weirder things on totally radical timelines just like the advent of the corporation did before in the industrial revolution.

I’ve been watching Gilded Age as I’m a sucker for set pieces but also because I love stories of wealth and power and cultural mores being pushed. I think DAOs have the chance to do that for society and the family in a way that is just as unsettling and ultimately wealth creating as anything we saw in the Gilded Age. And the changes we see to cultural norms will be every bit as revolutionary as the ones we see with inventions or investments. When times change, we push all of the ideas we have about how to properly organize individuals and citizens with it.

What I’m saying is I’m obviously passionate about the topic and even when I’m home with the flu I’m thinking about ways to knit together different worlds and metaphors. I might not be the best expert on DAOs nor am I remotely close to being one of the earlier people to get into them, but I’m absolutely an informed and enthusiastic professional with the training to think about this holistically. So I’d listen to me if I had the chance.

Nevertheless I’m worried I’ll botch the talk. My mind wants to worry I’ve run out of time to do a good job (I obviously haven’t) and that even if I put in a lot of hours it could have been more. I could have started sooner.

But honestly I’ve got to let that self defeating talk go. What I bring will be enough. And a deadline looming even with a sickness is no reason to worry when you know and love a topic well. So I’ll trust myself to bring you something good.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 487 and Grocery Stores

I love settling into a new home by going grocery shopping. I’ve had the opportunity to be in a new city for an extended period twice now this year. And each time the joy I’ve taken in going to pick up groceries is palpable. Going shopping for food is my happy place.

I’m in Bozeman with dear friends and one of them noticed just how excited I was for the grocery run. We had a mostly empty fridge and I made a beeline to the nicest grocery store in town. It was a hybrid fancy yuppie grocery wrapped inside a big box grocery store. It’s a chain local to the pacific and mountain west called Rosaurs. I highly recommend it.

A grocery store is a powerful space. I’ve written before about my love for the American grocery store. I think it’s unique in its position as a functional and emotional retail space. It needs enough structure and repeatable patterns that anyone can shop a store and have an intuitive sense of where the basics are merchandised. But grocery relies on novelty and newness as much as any other retail store for driving order size and additional Martin.

The presentation of new brands and new products is fraught. The need to display something new competes against the need for repeatability and ease of locating core items in grocery. Grocery can be seen as human nature reflecting core tensions as it balances desire and safety. We yearn to feel nurtured by food but also crave to be stimulated by new tastes.

I spent an hour and a half wandering the aisles filling out my grocery list. I had done meal planning and had specific needs for the weeks meals. But I am also an inveterate shopper looking to feel excited by what was on the shelves.

To this day that I can look at any item in the store and buy it remains a surprise to me. It’s a luxury that never fails to delight me. If I want to get something I can. There is no budget or restriction on me like I remember as a small child. And yet I still couldn’t bring myself to buy a full size Turmeric spice jar. Reflecting back childhood emotions I didn’t even realize I had. A small reminder of how much seemingly mundane acts like grocery shopping can reflect much bigger things.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 457 and Pedicure

I did something today I haven’t done in two years. I got my nails done. And it felt so luxurious and yet also somehow normal. This regular act of grooming had once been a staple self care activity but today felt transformed into a ritual of joy.

I feel free and lucky in this moment. Getting a pedicure done means I have someplace to be where someone will see me. It means I am healthy enough to be going somewhere. It means I have a desire to be somewhere. All this cascading luck mixed to show me that my life was ok. I felt so much gratitude and self love in that moment. I am ok. The ok-ness of the universe in an act.

I know it sounds heady and existential and also a bit ridiculous as I elevate the act of a pedicure. But truly I feel so good about where I am in life that I can get my toes painted coral.

Also it’d worth noting that less glamorously cutting my toenails is hard for me to do on my own because of my spondylitis. So a necessity and a luxury in its own physical way. It is a quality of life improvement. So I’m grateful that this is where I am. May we all get little joys of normal in this chaotic world.

Categories
Aesthetics Emotional Work

Day 410 and My Own Valentine

I’m quite fond of Valentine’s Day. I like flowers and chocolates and cards. I like wearing bright pink. I like all the hyper feminine consumerism around the entire Hallmark holiday.

I’ve got my own rituals and routines for the day. I used to go to White Castle for their white tablecloth service with my friends. Yes that’s a real thing they do. It’s an absolute blast to get table service when the food is sliders. It’s a wholesome experience that somehow no one does ironically. They once let me take home all the balloons when I had the last reservation of the night.

But I am particularly enjoying Valentine’s Day this year because I’ve made a commitment to self love this year. I came into the day with a spirit of accepting myself in whatever condition I arrive in. It’s a glass half full approach in a time where it’s easy to look for downsides and depression.

I hope if you are considering committing to more love in your life that you start with yourself. That on Valentine’s Day you focus on giving yourself the love you’ve always wanted. Maybe it sounds as silly to you as having sliders with table service at White Castle. But I promise both experiences are far more than a critical ego will allow. Go ahead, open yourself up. To love and little hamburgers. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Categories
Finance Internet Culture

Day 371 and Never Work A Day In Your Life

I had almost nothing on my calendar today I didn’t want to do. I had small administrative things that took up maybe two hours and that’s excessive by my standards. It’s rare I ever have more than half an hour of genuine obligations. Mostly I just go where I feel like on any given day. I lay in bed on my phone and I move the world with strangers on the internet.

I’m not sure how I optimized for this kind of idyllic work life. I certainly didn’t used to live this way. When I was a founder I was constantly at the mercy of meetings I didn’t want and obligations I wanted to shirk. I always felt put upon. I never felt more like hustle culture owned my life than during my founding years. I was constantly optimizing and I felt like I never had any relief.

Maybe it’s the pandemic. Once we stopped with offices and workdays and all their attendant events and activities, life got a lot better. Everyone kind of settled into routines that made space for what mattered most to them. We no longer had cocktail parties or conferences. Thought leadership stopped being keynote speeches and started being shitposts on Twitter.

I don’t know what the fuck I did it exactly to free myself from that over scheduled fate. I’m so much happier and more efficient. I get shit done and I am less stressed and working fewer unnecessary hours.

Maybe part of it is that I might be a better investor than I was a founder. I could spend the whole day skipping through direct messages and sharing insights in Telegram group chats or having product breaksdowns in Notion. I’m actually good at what I do now. I bring more value and I do it more quickly. Maybe this is what real optimized work is like. You are so good it’s easy.

I’m so fucking happy right now. Over the last hour I’ve done more to advance my deals, connect my community and dig into shit that I genuinely passionately love than I thought I could do in an week. It’s like winning the lottery. I cannot believe I make money doing this.

I basically gossip all day with super smart people and then trade a bunch of densely coded social signals. Those all translate into money. I plot elaborate stories with fellow degenerates with deep aesthetics and then we send it into media zeitgeist. It’s like I work in fashion but the pay is much much better. So I guess it is true what they say. Do what you love and you never work a day I’m your life.