I had some practical acquisitions that needed to be purchased. They were most easily purchased via an in person retail environment for reasons I won’t get into. I much prefer ecommerce but not everywhere has Amazon if you can believe it.
I wanted to get this done quickly. While it’s true I like to putter around many types of stores. I’m quite fond of browsing in grocery stores for instances. But I prefer to be ruthlessly pragmatic when it comes to necessities. Browsing can be your enemy when you know exactly what you want.
Much of shopping can be a hostile and adversarial environment. Merchandising, pricing, sales associates all work on your focus and attention.
I have a few tricks I use on my own psychology if I would prefer my limited cognitive energy be used on more important decisions than what I’m about to purchase. Deciding between a bunch options for a non important decision weighs on your capacity. I don’t know if science has replicated decision fatigue but it sure feels like it’s real to me.
I wore a pair of high heels to go shopping in this case. It’s just enough discomfort to provide a bit of focus. I wouldn’t want to stay on my feet overly long in heels so I’ll encourage myself to make decisions quickly and not linger over it.
I was able to easily and without agonizing make quick decisions on a number of purchases. Once something fell within 80% of the parameters I’d set out for the item I know I wished to buy I said yes and moved on. It really can be that easy. I’d rather use my focus on important things.
I had a series of unplanned excursions today that got slightly out of hand. A hotel didn’t work out and I found myself switching my base of operations.
In the process of moving about, I thought to myself “I’ll just have a coffee and eat later!” I fart all the time. It was 10am at that point and I’d had dinner the night before at 6pm.
Truly I sealed my own fate. I did not stop to eat for the next ten hours. I first repacked all of my clothing and other travel items. I then packed it all into a car. I then drove all over town running various errands to make sure I was prepared for the week. I didn’t want any distractions during my workweek.
Being practically minded, and hoping to avoid eating out for all meals, I ended up at a grocery store and bought a week’s worth of meal ingredients. That itself took over an hour. By then was a busy Sunday afternoon so it felt as if the entire city was doing grocery shopping at the same time as me. Fighting with folks in the parking garage made me reconsider if some people should be allowed cars at all. I was getting exasperated.
The drive to my subsequent my lodging managed to take well over an hour and a half. Traffic on the weekends right?
While I knew the lodging was up a hill it somehow didn’t occur to the “bitches be shopping” version of me at the grocery store.
The version of me that lives in reality had to schlep suitcases and a week’s worth of groceries up what my fitness tracker says is five flights of stairs. It took a few trips.
By the time I’d unpacked, put away the groceries and finally had the sense to put together a plate of cold cuts and tomatoes it was 6pm.
That number of activities doesn’t seem like it should have taken the whole day but at least I got in an accidental fast. I hadn’t planned to go an entire day but I’m sure I’ll make up for it with all the groceries I bought tomorrow.
I am a good shopper. I know retail cadences and when to buy a product. If you want to know sales happen or new merchandise timing I usually know. I know manufacturing chains, sourcing standards and material costs across multiple categories. I loved working inside corporate retail and consider my time in cosmetics and fashion to be foundational to my approach to businesses.
This is useful context for what I am currently feeling. I’ve become a very distrustful shopper. Now I feel as if I’m starting from scratch every single time I need to replace an item even if it’s in a category I know intimately.
I’ve worn the same pair of simple black Gap 100% cotton sweatpants for as long as I can remember. They were roughly $30 and I’d get years of good wear. I’d reorder a couple pairs every Black Friday just to be sure I’d always have them.
It wasn’t easy but I could find them. I’d need to check what size (medium) and its name from the last order (always changing) but I’d almost always be able to find it. It drove me bonkers it didn’t maintain a consistent SKU (stock keeping unit) when it was clearly the identical product.
It got harder and harder to find. And then this year they appear to have stopped manufacturing them entirely. I’ve been checking in on the Gap website every couple of months this year and it’s just not re-appearing.
I deliberately insulate from algorithmic visual content. It makes you miserable for one. But more importantly, it deadens your aesthetic palette from overexposure.
If you want to develop and sustain personal taste and style, do yourself a favor and do it deliberately without the subtle nudging enforcement of refinement culture.
I do however avidly follow the propagation of different fashions as a personal interest. I like to see where a runaway trend goes as virality and social contagion set in. The New York Post’s entire culture section is dedicated to moral panics but it occasionally hits on real sources of social anxiety.
I still have anxiety about weight from living through the TMZ era of body shaming. So I’m sympathetic to what it must feel like to younger women facing the relentless scrutiny of living online. They rightly perceive appearances to be a part of how value is calculated in wider society and are afraid of losing it.
I’m convinced some portion of the extremely online Gen Z are living entirely out of the slipstream of historical culture. They consume artifacts from other people’s youth culture but live in a what amounts to a “long now” in which the future seems unstable. We rebooted 2003 as a micro trend but the apocalypse is almost here.
The nostalgia machine gives Gen Z an ever present history but very little present to hold onto for grounding in physical reality. Their ahistorical vibes approach seems to overweight the need for youth.
Sean Monahan of K-Hole normcore fame posted a mapping of the aesthetics of the decade that I thought spoke well to the strange relationship digital aesthetics have to time. I’m posting a diagram here from his post here.
If Gen Z is aging like milk it’s probably not because they are actually aging quickly. Though I’m sure the stress isn’t doing them any favors. I think dit’s what Ryan Broderick of Garbage Day points out here. The glamified hyper-media full face contour is an ageless one. It’s inspired by the past and stuck in the past. It’s got nothing to do with their actual age.
I like a little “woo” in my life. Anytime I hit a particularly interesting number in my daily writing I tend to do a bit of collective consciousness spelunking across the shared spaces of the internet.
Unsurprisingly, 1111 sparks quite a bit of interest across pop culture numerology depictions. The first search results were women’s interest magazines.
Women’s Health with the uplifting new beginnings represented by 1 before associating 11 as a doubling of 1’s energy as a “master number” with spiritual insight, enlightenment, and intuitive understanding.” Sure, I want an intuitive understanding of my life’s new beginnings. Good job magazine editors. Groundbreaking.
Because what good is hidden knowledge of divine intentions without an affiliate marketing link program with it? I’d love to know if search engine optimization on numerology combined with attractively curated e-commerce affiliate content hits the Cosmopolitan P&L in any meaningful way.
But if you really want lean into your pattern recognition and the subtle schizophrenia of Internet apophenia, my original source Women’s Health helpfully leans into “service journalism” by sharing that Kabbalists 1111 is a sign from God or divinity itself.
This is because the ancient Hebrew name for God, Yahweh or YHWH, when written resembles four ones.
I will caution readers that I don’t know if any of this is true. Obviously my goofy posting shouldn’t be seen as having the same rigor as a LessWrong epistemic status post. While I like a post-rationalist, I don’t know if any of the consumer friendly versions of ancient wisdom is true. I wouldn’t be taking my reading of the Talmud from magazines typically dedicated to recipes and workouts myself.
Women browsing random bits of pattern recognition at the grocery store or on their phone really is the stuff of fluff and the stuff of fear. Who knows what bits of knowledge might lead us astray.
Best case scenario you end up with a nice Oud candle that helped keep Cosmopolitan quiz writers paid. Worst case scenario, you might summon a malevolent algorithmic rabbit hole determined to fill your feeds with angels and demons.
After we a did a run to the proper grocery for other necessities like satsuma tangerines (the rare Christmas citrus has a short season in December) we headed home laden with marvelous delicacies and at least ten meals for the week ahead. I was then very grateful to get an afternoon nap. So rare to be relaxed enough for REM sleep in the middle of the day.
Our home in Montana is county land off of a dirt road. Our USPS mail box requires a half mile trek to get there and back. It is the perfect amount of walk at sunset when you want to take a short break and stretch your legs.
I had some skincare waiting for me so the anticipation added a pleasant boost to my already happy mood. It was golden hour as the sun set in the west. The Spanish Peaks were washed in light and clouds were orange. As far as being content with the human experience, it’s hard to get much better than that for me.
It’s nice to feel joy when everything is uncertain. Not that life ever offers much certainty, but it’s easy to feel grim when the problems facing my country and the planet seem insurmountable.
A beautiful sunset in the west could just as easily be read as sad metaphor. A lot feels like it’s going wrong if you read the news or spend time on social media. American decline, global warming, conflicts and strained spheres of influence all paint dire picture.
But that’s all outside my locus of control. The things I can do for myself are broad and life affirming. I enjoy a walk in the quiet beauty of nature because I’ve been graced with building a life where sunset in the west is a good thing.
I spent the night in Helsinki after taking the ferry from Tallinn. Amusingly the hotel heavily advertised having once been a prison. The receptionist informed me that I stayed in a suite that would have been home to seven juveniles. A Finnish prison is apparently an ideal boutique hotel for millenials and is part of the Marriot telegraph family.
In thoroughly international manner, I ordered Indian from Wolt. The hotels breakfast buffet was inside another set of cells in the basement. Nothing like eating chia pudding contemplating prison.
I was able to walk through several intersecting islands from Katajanokka through to Market area to the Esplanade and ended up next to a brutalist train station.
Naturally I made a stop at the Moomin store to pick up half a dozen postcards and trinkets as I’m a huge man of the children’s series by Finnish author Tove Jansen. I am a Little My person. Think of it as a Nordic version of picking which Winnie the Pooh character suits your personality.
I ended my day at the Helsinki Port on the excellent ferry. I may have overdone it a bit by booking a cabin but I am comfortably paying down on a bed while I write my post for the day. It’s probably best to buy the business lounge tickets as it has an excellent meal service but for a once in a lifetime trip it’s pretty lovely to write from bed in your own cabin on a boat. It’s like being transported to another era.
I am in a pocket of personal heaven that I did not know existed until just now. I’m on the Tallinnk ferry to Helsinki. It’s just before sunset and briskly cold. The wind is whipping small white caps as we exit the bay.
I had not expected the serene calm that overtook me. The many shades of grey and blue where the sea meets the horizon’s soothe my autonomic nervous system. Watching the small waves crest as we roll ever so gently sends me into parasympathetic. I feel cozy.
Tallinn Bay. Passing another ferry.
I decided at the last moment to go to Helsinki for a day. I wanted to visit for my birthday but didn’t feel well enough. Since actions define who you are, I booked myself a business lounge ticket on Tallinnk ferry. It’s fifty miles and about two hours.
I have a lounge chair at the very front of the ferry. It’s as large as a cruise ship and feels as smooth. It’s clearly a premium experience. I paid 60 euro for the privilege and was rewarded with an excellent dinner of poached trout and chocolate mouse. I have a lingonberry juice in a proper glass.
We are passing other ferries with some regularity. There are routes to every imaginable Nordic destination. There is even a ferry to St. Petersburg. Google maps lists out the routes as I peel out of Tallinn Bay. Twitter mutuals note that the Nordic ferry system is the envy of the world. And I can see why. What a pleasurable way to travel.
I feel lulled into a peace I hadn’t considered possible with travel. My Bose headphones are playing Endel’s AI generated relaxation music. I have my Apollo Neuro set to relax. And I have an hour or so to contemplate the beauty of the ocean. If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to take one of these ferries do it.