Categories
Travel

Day 454 and Up In The Air

When I first started this experiment in daily writing my schedule was quite predictable. We were in the middle of the pandemic and each day could be relied upon to deliver some consistency. But now that era of at home living is slipping away for abled people, even marginally at risk folks like myself have to contend with new challenges.

In this case, the challenge is writing before being offline. It’s noon in Frankfurt. I’ll be catching a flight back to a Colorado early this afternoon. I’ll land in the late afternoon Mountain Time but for me it will be Thursday already. So I have to consider if writing on the proper day in both Germany and Colorado counts, or if I could leave it till when I land. I decided to do it ahead of time as it is both in the spirit of the daily consistent writing pattern but also I’ll be far too tired to do it after a ten hour flight.

What’s a fascinating to me is that this one big travel block felt like a one off. But once I broke the seal on being up in the air I felt like I could do it again. So I’ve booked a trip to Miami next week. And then Montana in May to spend time with friends working remotely and scouring for homesteads. And from there I’ll be headed to Austin in June. And so the schedule of travel renews.

It’s not exactly the new normal. Travel is still a nightmare. I just had a wheezing fit of tachycardia because of a security line issue and had to beg to have my mask off so I could take medicine and slow my heart. Flying is still a bit of a nightmare. But it feels good to take flight again. I am spiritually ready to be up in the air again.

Categories
Travel

Day 453 and 80% Rule

My husband Alex has this rule for travel he calls the “85% rule” for when to expect homesickness. It’s a pretty simple concept. You will feel the maximum amount of negative emotions as you begin the final days or weeks of your trip. But it clears up once the trip nears completion. You will feel worse when your completion bar is at 80% than you will at 99%. In your final day or even hours you will wish you were staying but two or three days before you will wonder why the fuck you aren’t already home

This rule holds true for business travel and personal. It’s remarkably consistent on short trips and as I discovered even month long excursions. I’m flying home to Colorado tomorrow which is a Wednesday. But last Thursday and Friday I was so done with being in Frankfurt. I just wanted to be done with it. I debated looking for earlier flights.

Thankfully Alex reminded me of the 80% rule. He encouraged me to feel the homesickness and sadness. Enjoy the discomfort even. And that by the time Tuesday rolled around I’d be sad that I was leaving Germany behind.

And just as he predicted today I was hit with the wave of happiness and nostalgia that comes at the end of a long enjoyable stay. I had to walk into the city center to get my Covid test for my flight back. As I finished up the errand I found myself slow walking back to the apartment to put off packing. I went by the big indoor farmers market to get a snack for the airplane. I veered over into old town to take one last look at the architecture. I even popped into a souvenir store to eye expensive cuckoo clocks and beer steins. I normally hate knickknacks.

I’m enjoying an immense wave of satisfaction and nostalgia. This trip has gone even better than my wildest fantasies could have imagined. I’ve reminded myself of my priorities and independence. It’s given me a new appreciation for my marriage and it’s importance to me. I’ve pondered been insights into my motivations and coping mechanisms. I wish I could stay longer to pursue the history of a city that perfectly aligns with my historical, economic and aesthetic history. I guess the 80% rule works. I’ll head home in the morning.

Categories
Chronicle Preparedness

Day 451 and Takeout

I’m a little embarrassed that this is the second time I’ve written about takeout on my daily essay series but fuck it I am owning my love of outsourcing food. My fridge has absolutely nothing in it but leftover boxes of takeout right now and I’ve used Wolt every single day this week. I highly recommend if you find yourself in Germany.

When I get tired or overwhelmed or otherwise struggle to manage life food has always been one of my bigger struggles. I just have no affinity for cooking. The people who find it relaxing or enjoyable seem insane to me. My husband is one of those people. He’s a talented cook. I on the other hand have been known to hyperventilate because I set the microwave on fire because I didn’t know you couldn’t put tinfoil in it. Also this is the second day in a row where I’ve admitted to setting shit on fire. I wonder what that is about.

As much as I love traditional skills and think preparedness and homesteading are worthy and even vital pursuits, cooking is just not the skill for me. I’ll garden and handle the animals but please don’t ask me to make a meal. I can’t handle planning an hour ahead of time. My timing horizons are one year or ten years.

This affinity for long term planning is probably why I like planting and venture capital. I’ll happily work towards a long term goal but if I have to pressure myself into a task on a specific day well frankly I’d probably rather set something on fire. I just can’t predict how I’ll be on any given day. And I’ve only got so much energy so why would I use it on anything that’s not crucial or enjoyable.

So fuck feeling bad about it and my Wolt bills from this month. It’s who I am and everyone in my life who is affected by this habit seems fine with it. Well except maybe the recycling and trash bin guys. They’ve got to be thinking “this bitch needs to chill on the takeout boxes!” But also look at this amazing piece of packaging and tell me it wasn’t all with it.

A bison burger in a takeout box
The magic of good recycled packaging

Categories
Chronicle

Day 449 and Lost Time

I lost some time this week. I was living on someone else’s schedule and it cascaded into a wash of hours where I felt like I was completely out of sync with the wider world as I struggled to get back in my own time.

I’m not at my best when I have to push myself to live on other people’s time. Everything shrunk down to my bedroom and my body and my own myopia about righting my sense of reality. I was in a lot of physical pain which pushed me mentally as well.

I started to feel genuinely better and on track around 5pm in Frankfurt. Technically that meant I still had a half day in California to work. But I’d lost the will to push. I needed to regroup. I am telling myself that it’s ok because it’s not as if I work a standard 9-5 job. I can take the weekend to find my way back to the timeline. And if I’m honest some of my best work gets done on Saturday night.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 448 and Disappointment

I’m feeling disappointed in myself. I want to shake the feeling as I’ve done nothing wrong that warrants punishment. But the feeling of disappointment is lingering which is a double cruelty I’m perpetuating on myself.

I have been pushing myself physically. I know this has consequences. And yet I’m frustrated by my body reacting exactly as I know it will when I run myself down. And worse than that, I find myself negotiating with my body to justify pushing just a little bit more. What if I take this medicine? Will that buy me more time? How dangerous will it be if I just keep ignoring how I feel so I can push a little bit more for a little bit longer? I’m rationalizing what amounts to self harm all because I want my body to be something it cannot be.

I feel like I should know better than to be so cruel to myself. I should let it go of the foolish need to push. What I need is sleep and my routine. I should take my medicine and instead of using the feeling of relief it brings to push, I should use the relief to rest in comfort so I heal and recover.

I hate that I keep relearning the same basic lessons of chronic disease over and over again. But hating myself for being disappointing is of course the pattern I need to break. It defeats the point. The self is not an attack surface. Being disappointed serves no purpose in this moment. It’s not driving me to be better. It’s driving me to be worse. So I’m letting it go. And I’m hoping tomorrow I’ll go a little easier on myself.

Categories
Travel

Day 447 and For Others

Yesterday I reminded myself that I write for me. The choice to write is one I’ve prioritized day in and day out. Today I organized my entire day for someone else. I regret it.

My Airbnb was supposed to be cleaned today. The owner texted me as reminder to be out of the apartment from 12-4pm for the cleaning crew. I moved my calls and meetings to tomorrow. I decided I’d go to the Zoo for the day.

I rushed to be out of the house before the cleaners arrived. There are still Covid protocols. I felt stressed by the obligation. I have a tendency to clean for the cleaners. Eventually I left and decided I’d go to the Frankfurt Zoo.

I made a bit of a day if it. I took pictures. I browsed. I watched penguins and spider monkeys play games. I saw the tigers. I had a beer and pretzel. As the zoo closed down I headed home sure I’d done my duty for my Airbnb host and the cleaning crew.

The apartment was untouched. Nothing has been cleaned. No one was ever there. Seems my rescheduling my entire work day for someone else’s workday has been in vain. Some excuses were given about sick family members and no one was able to tell anyone what was happening.

I expressed that I wouldn’t be able to rework my schedule again for someone else. That I needed to have my work day. That I just couldn’t live my schedule on someone else’s tomorrow or the next day. I have to mice for myself.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 446 and For Myself

Some days I forget I picked up the habit of writing every day for myself. It might feel like an obligation or a burden or even a sacrifice. Today it feels like a sacrifice. I want to be spending my time elsewhere. But I’ve committed to doing this habit every single day for myself. And when my desire to write conflicts with another desire, it’s a challenge to form a good narrative.

I have to ask myself honestly what priorities do I put off so that I can always write every single day? Am I sacrificing other things to give myself this daily writing habit? Of course, the answer is yes. Every act, every decision, every time we apply our focus it is a choice to pick one priority over another.

I am in this moment sacrificing time with someone so I can maintain this habit. I pulled myself away from someone to put finger to keyboard (a much less romantic turn of phrase than pen to paper) so I could prioritize myself and my habits.

And that’s ok. I want to put this habit first for the few minutes it takes me. It doesn’t make me a bad person to pull away to do this for myself. I don’t need to justify it. This is what I choose. Getting comfortable with the responsibility for my choices is the bigger challenge. As it is for us all.

Categories
Chronic Disease Travel

Day 440 and Twitchy

Last night I had a poor night of sleep. My body was just all kinds of weird. A muscle spasm thing kept me awake. I tried magnesium (it’s a natural muscle relaxant), several rounds of Theragun routines, a few stretches, and finally actual muscle relaxers.

Nothing stopped the weird twitching. It was 2am in Germany so I was resigned to a bad night of sleep. I just laid in bed waking myself up every couple of minutes. It was exhausting.

Eventually I got to sleep and seemed to wake up in the morning no worse for wear. I wasn’t especially alarmed, as my body has a tendency to just go off on weird physical tangents for no reason. Whatever the fuck happened it seemed to have passed so I went about my work day.

I broke for dinner around 6pm or so. I ordered Ethiopian and chowed down hard. I was feeling full and sleepy and I figured I’d lay down to digest a bit. I put on some television and was promptly out like a light. I woke up two and an hours half later and realized it was probably time for me to call it a day.

I swear the only thing that woke me up was the knowledge that I had to write my blog post for the day. I’m mostly kidding. The heater turned on and roasted the room so I needed to open the window. But now I’m absolutely going back to sleep now.

Categories
Travel

Day 433 and Walking

Walking is the only way to learn a city. I’ve never been able to pick up a feel for a city any other way. Being driven or driving in a car just doesn’t help me get a sense of place. It’s only after several days of pounding the pavement that I finally feel as if I can navigate without the help of a map or a GPS.

I’ve been doing my best to traverse the key neighbors in Frankfurt on foot over the last few days. I’ll set out for a basic destination like the grocery store or pharmacy on foot without my phone. Then I’ll choose something further afield like a restaurant or shopping center. Today I went for the ultimate test. I set off for the city center to visit a museum. Specifically Goethe House.

Goethe House Plaque

I barely needed to check my map at all. I made it to the philosopher’s house without any issues. I enjoyed an hour or two of history and then I set off on my journey back. I remembered a restaurant I wanted to visit on the way back. I realized I was near a store I’d been meaning to visit so I veered off track to check in. I found myself in a new district entirely. I spent some time visiting a mall. And then I set back for my Airbnb.

My the end my lifeline, aka my phone, had run out of battery. But I still knew exactly where I was. I was picking up my place in space. I was centered. And also extremely tired as I walked 13,000 steps steps in the space of three hours.

Categories
Internet Culture Media

Day 431 and 9 Lonely Hours

I was excited for the time difference working in Frankfurt. It’s GMT + 1 which makes it six hours ahead of New York and a whooping nine hours ahead of San Francisco. I had this idea that I would enjoy getting in a full day before any of my American collaborators. Imagine the productivity gains!

But I’ve actually found it lonely. The silence of my social media has felt anything but, well, social. I adjusted immediately to the time difference without any jet lag. I woke up at 7am with the sun on my first day. And then I realized my California compatriots wouldn’t be awake till 4pm my time. Shit.

It’s not as if I have no one to talk to during these hours. I have founders in Europe and collaborators that are in these central time zones. But Twitter and my media news diet is strangely quiet in the early hours. It’s almost eerie. There is something disquieting about waking up before the news roundups hit my inbox. Like the world isn’t awake yet. Except obviously in Europe everything has stashed already.

I had no idea just how much my information environment depended on American filtering. It’s not that I was unaware that I was consuming a heavy diet of American media, but most of my news diet enters my feed through the East Coast media centers and is propagated through the lens of Silicon Valley. The Twitter friends I spent the most time with were clearly mostly American.

This is clearly an opportunity for me to branch out my information diet and my social circle. I’m grateful for the reminder. But I can’t help being a little sad that for a month I’ll be so offset from what I know and love. But it’s also exciting.