Categories
Biohacking Travel

Day 455 and Jet Lag

I rolled into Denver around 420pm yesterday and I felt excellent about my timing. My ten hour flight from Frankfurt was quite pleasurable. There is something about long haul flights that are existentially quite satisfying, especially if the onboard wifi isn’t working, as one feels free from the outside world for the duration.

It was midnight in Germany when I landed so I made sure to have a coffee an hour or so before touchdown to keep me up for my time zone adjustment. My goal was to make it to 9pm Mountain Time so I could immediately adjust to my new time zone.

A slightly silly goal as I’ll be moving back two time zones in just a couple days as I’m headed to Miami. But I’m a day bird not a lark or an owl so I need my days to be productive. So staying up “all night” was on the agenda.

I managed to stay awake till about 845pm by keeping busy with unpacking and dinner and catching up on all the “couples shows” that I can only watch with Alex. Ironically about half of what I unpacked is going to get repacked shortly but I needed to do some sorting and replenishment. So I did my best to keep the adrenaline pushing me to activity. And it seems to have worked.

I was up this morning at 5:30am feeling rested and basically functional. The only issue I noticed was hunger. I was starving. I immediately got in the car and went to the good bagel place. I got a second bagel with plans to eat it tomorrow and then ended up having a second breakfast around 10am. And yes I still ate lunch at 1pm. And I’m starving now. Just absolutely ravenous all day.

My tracking apps seem to think my body is experiencing jet lag. Gyroscope said it was contributing to a lower health score and “shortening my lifespan” so that was anxiety inducing. I went for an hour long walk and my Whoop buzzed twenty minutes in. Apparently to indicate I’d hit my target strain. A leisurely stroll netted new a 8.8 score when I typically barely break a 4. Their system maxes out at 20 I think but I rarely get higher than a 10-12. And then Welltory gave me reds across stress, health and energy.

I suspect some of this is due to being back at altitude as a month is long enough to lose your acclimation. But in general I seem to be perfectly fine on my time zone and I felt mostly functional all day. I kept it light. Tomorrow when I plan to work longer hours will be the rest test.

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

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
Chronic Disease Emotional Work Travel

Day 443 and Chores

I’ve got a mix of personal and professional and familial reasons I’m spending the month in Europe (mostly in Germany). But one of the reasons was to get some time apart from my husband Alex. Yes I know it sounds kind of shocking. What a bad wife!

We’ve barely been apart during two years of pandemic living. I also had an additional year or two where he was my primary caretaker during medical challenges. My reliance on my husband is something I am very forthright about. I’m deeply grateful for what he has enabled me to do. But we both felt like our marriage would benefit from being on my own for a little as the pandemic becomes more manageable and my health has become stable.

It’s been amazing and invigorating to be on my own again. Anyone who deals with me closely has noticed how much more inspired I am to be in a new place on my own. It’s enabled me to see some of my coping mechanisms more clearly. For instance, my inner child feels safer in the chaos of new things because she got used to moving a lot when I was little. That has given me a gift for startup work, but it also means that I can become resentful and stifled if I feel trapped.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t disclose that a big factor in needing to be on my own was to learn if I could do my own damn chores. Holy shit I still absolutely hate how much I energy it takes to keep me clean, watered, medicated and fed as a moderately disabled person. My husband is a natural caretaker and I will happily enable that.

It’s so much damn energy from my limited reserves to care for myself. Alex has always done it better than I do. But if I’m apart from him I don’t have the backstop of him picking up the maintenance work of my life. I wanted to know if I could survive it. In order to freely accept his love and help I needed to know I could live without it.

And I am. This Saturday was dedicated to grocery shopping, laundry, doing dishes and tidying the Airbnb. I had to lay down and rest because of the effort of my day “off” from work. But I did it. Kinda. I still haven’t put the comforter cover back on the bed. But I’m working my way up to it.

Categories
Biohacking

Day 441 and Circadian Nightmare

I am all for remote work and distributed teams. My husband has been working with distributed teams long before the pandemic hit as Stack Overflow was an early adopter of the “hire the best talent no matter where” trend.

But it does come with challenges. He contends that it’s helpful to have no more than six hours of time zones between core teams. And I’m really starting to see why. I’m really struggling to keep a decent sleep pattern and collaborate with Californians. So I’ve tried to stay up later so I’d have more working hours on American time zones. Plus I have a regular time with my therapist and for group therapy on Mondays that is 10pm and midnight in GMT+1. So I’ve got to stay up a bit later for that too.

I figured if I could wake up at 10am and go to sleep at 1am that would work great. I got myself a nice eye mask. I close the blinds. But hot damn if my body cannot tell that this is not when I should be sleeping. I can manage to stay up later but I’m still waking up with the sun. I cannot seem to sleep in past 8am.

So I think I’m going to give up this Circadian nightmare as I’m going to rack up a huge deficit. I’m just not a night owl. I’m a day person.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 438 and That’s Enough

I attended a schooling system developed by an Austrian man called Rudolf Steiner. It’s commonly known as Waldorf schools. One of its hallmarks is a lack of comparative grades.

Steiner believed that grades forced teachers and students into a curriculum that taught to the middle of the class. The tyranny of the median student meant slower students felt stupid and frustrated and smarter students felt bored and disengaged. Only the average child did well in a graded system. And no one is ever truly average. A graded system fails us all.

Waldorf schools teach a pedagogy that is holistic and geared to meeting each individual child at their unique level. It uses a variety of techniques like having children make their own textbooks (called main lesson books) so they are never conforming to some idealized medium standard. At it’s highest ideal it means being compared only to your past performance. You don’t compare yourself to other students. There is no ideal grade at which a student will think “I am the best” as that is fruitless. How will the best student ever bother to improve if they always get a perfect score? Grades hamper the cultivation of genius.

This sounds idyllic right? Always improving yourself without external markers that say you are good or bad or even average. That’s the dream. A perfect schooling system. And if I am being honest it absolutely was what provided me with the curiosity and desire to always be learning. It sustains my career now.

But every shining light casts a shadow. A system without grades. A system without comparisons or averages also means you never ever get to win. I never got a gold star as child. I never got an A. I never got a trophy. I missed out on millennial laziness cultural tropes. I would have killed for a participation trophy as a kid.

Because nothing was ever good enough. Because I always knew I could do more. I could always improve. There was no resting on your laurels. I never got a chance to say I was the best in my class. I never got to win. Because I internalized there was no winning. There was only ever improving. I was always improving. I felt like Sisyphus. Except the bolder never rolled down the hill. The hill just kept on going. The mountain had no summit. It was only improving. I never felt like I could rest. I never felt like something was good enough. Because tautologically it couldn’t be.

The consequence of this system for me as an adult is that I never feel like I’ve done well such that I can ever rest. Even if I’m objectively the best compared to others, I remember the ethos of school. The school that said next time you can do better. Next time you can push harder. Next time you can improve even more. If you’ve ever seen the movie Gattaca it’s the scene where the hero wins because he never ever saves anything for the swim back.

I’ve yet to balance the shadow cast by the light of Waldorf school. I desperately want to feel like I’ve won. Not because I need to feel better than anyone else. But because I struggle to stop. I yearn for rest. To have a finish line. To have some mile marker or trophy or award that says I’ve done enough. One day I’d like to give myself that. Maybe I should find a trophy or ribbon store and buy myself something that says “That’s Enough.”

Categories
Biohacking

Day 434 and Taking a Toll

I’ve been feeling engaged and energetic. The combination of a new environment (I’m in Frankfurt) and one of the most dynamic & chaotic investing environments has had me on focused.

But it would seem that my body would like me to maybe take a step back from from the current moment and care for it. As you may know I’m an avid biohacker. This is a screenshot from my Welltory HRV app which is part of my stack. And it is not thrilled with now I’m coping.

That means I should go to bed early and maybe take a day or two off till my metrics improve. So I’ll keep this post on the short side.

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
Travel

Day 418 and Come Down

A colleague of mine and I were texting after he had come off of a flight. He was tired. More tired than he remembered being after airplane travel in the past. We discussed how the muscle memory of travel seemed to have gotten lost in the pandemic. The stamina regular travelers build up over time had gone.

I’m feeling that today. While I didn’t fly anywhere, I was out of my home staying in a hotel and attending a busy professional event. At the time it felt fun and energizing. Even yesterday I was still enjoying a bit of the high from the social interaction. But today I’m exhausted. I’m pooped. I’m plum tuckered out. Stick a fork in me. I’m done.

This begs the question of whether we will regain our travel muscles again soon. I’ve already got four trips lined up between now and June. I’m going to Europe, then Bitcoin Miami, then Montana, then Austin for Consensus. That is almost as much as my pre-pandemic levels. I’ll be curious if I find it progressively less tiring. Or if in fact being tired is a good thing as it lets us know when we’ve overdone it. Either way I’m going to bed early.

Categories
Internet Culture Medical Startups

Day 415 and Accessibility

I don’t think of myself as disabled or requiring special accommodations, though I have a well controlled medical condition that swells my spinal cord called ankylosing spondylitis. But for the first time since my diagnosis I really felt like I was handicapped. And I am feeling so much sadness over the idea that I might genuinely be disabled.

I’m attending ETHDenver and it’s wildly over capacity. No consideration has been given to any kind of basic accessibility. I didn’t think it would effect me though till I got here. I can walk without a mobility aid and if you met me you’d never know I have an issue. But I can’t stand in line on cold concrete for two hours. It turns out I would need a wheelchair for that kind of activity. And even if I had a wheelchair the first two days were in the cold and snow so I couldn’t have wheeled over or around the slush and water.

So I have only attended private parties and small events and group outings. This is great for me as I’m a well networked established member of the startup ecosystem. I’ve got a popular Twitter handle and can easily reach out to people. But I’m noticing just how much a bit of inaccessibility will gatekeep the crypto and web3 community. If you don’t have my heaps of privilege there is no way you could navigate this conference.

And we really need web3 to be welcoming and accessible. To build a better future with infrastructure and economies we all collectively own and benefit from we need an order of magnitude more people participating. But if no one can get in and experience things first hand than web3 will just be a repeat of the oligarchy of web2. It’s honestly my worst fear for crypto. We will accidentally exclude the people who will benefit the most from our innovations.