Categories
Emotional Work Politics

Day 768 and Memory

I’ve not ever read Proust in its entirety because what am I an eternal being who exists outside of linear time? But, thanks to Wikipedia and university survey courses, I am familiar with its basic themes of memory and it’s frustrating insufficiency.

Anyways, when not pondering madeleines, I am often confronted by how resilient the mind is in protecting us from the horrors of the world. Memory is a very funny thing. As good a reason as any to maintain diaries or personal hagiography is that you’d be surprised at what you forget.

A doctor asked me to get a pelvic ultrasound. I surprised myself by saying absolutely not unless it’s an emergency life or death situation I am not doing that. And she, in sincere surprise, asked me why not.

And, because I guess therapy works, I recalled a pelvic ultrasound from maybe 10-12 years ago. I’d been referred in to a specialist as there was concern about a uterine cyst. This doctor, a gentleman over 50 in the kindly white gentleman archetype, who I did not know know, proceeds to tell me this won’t hurt.

But it does hurt. I am screaming bloody murder. It hurts so much I cannot stop. He tells me he will call security unless I quiet down. I cannot and I am in tears hysterically trying to convey the pain. I pass out.

I had utterly suppressed the memory till today. It happened to coincide with my husband mentioning a think piece in New York Magazine about women who empathized with the Clare Danes character from Fleishman Is In Trouble. There is a profoundly violating scene around reproductive health and consent.

And of course, because it’s happening to a striving insecure aspirant white bitch it totally doesn’t count right? Fucking Karens. It’s super cringe to consider where the system hurts you, because you dumb bitch, you benefit more than anyone else.

So I guess I am not surprised I had banished the experience of something bad but you know not so bad you are allowed to complain about it. And that is how the patriarchy perpetuates itself.

What I’m saying is that maybe you need to remember who it is that benefits from you not remembering the pain. Who benefits from forgetting? And trust me they are very scared when you realize that you remember.

Categories
Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 758 and Two Sides

I somehow missed watching the Mandalorian when it came out. My husband isn’t really into Star Wars and I’m a Star Trek person so as just missed it. I started watching it today for the first time and I’m experiencing it somewhat fresh of its original release context.

But I’ve got a vague memory of the culture war issues that it triggered at the time. Somehow Gina Carano got coded to team red and champion of the downtrodden right wing. I honestly couldn’t tell you why except I think she mouthed off on Twitter. She sacrificed her career as a main character on prestige Disney tv show for shitposting. She thought she had social latitude that she just didn’t when working for Big Mouse. Shockingly naive if I’m honest.

That somehow everything has a side in the culture wars is a real tragedy of our time. Because a couple years pass and whatever dumb stunt that got you put on team red or team blue probably gets forgotten. Normal people have moved on and the discourse gets digested eventually into common knowledge. Memory is a fickle thing. Madeleines and Proust or something in that direction.

If you are team red you go into an alternate universe where apparently being a dick with a right wing slant on YouTube gets you 50 million dollar media deals. I assume there are as many opportunities as now being on team red is a real badge of honor and whole media ecosystems arise because it’s an actual demographic. Shocking somehow to some people but I guess I’ve always lived adjacent to team red. I’ve be always known you could make money on that audience.

I suppose the real tell is that if you are team blue you don’t really change ecosystems at all if you pick their side in the culture war. You get to maintain your plum gig at Disney. You do not have Ron DeSantis gunning for you. I hear that woke mobs come to get you but I’ve never actually seen it in action. The worst part of my chaotic evil leftist Twitter bubble stops at Taylor Lorenz though I am aware that a murky left exists beyond Chapo Trap House and I know about Tankies.

It just seems so strange to take sides in any of this nonsense if your aim is to make a living as a performer. Sure maybe you can cater to one niche or another. But really isn’t the whole point finding the things that bind us all in the human experience? I always assumed art was meant to transcend whatever petty shit happened while making it.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 750 and Interstitial

If you have ever stayed in an airport hotel or a particularly standardized corporate hotel, you’ve encountered the grand global homogeneity of acceptable hospitality.

Airwave bedroom at a Marriot in Prague

This aesthetic owes a debt to Silicon Valley and the way we’ve sanded off peculiar edges and smoothed over individual characters to make the real world’s brand book as consistent as our virtual ones. It’s called Airwave.

If you enjoyed the silky sameness of a WeWork or a perfect Airbnb or the reclaimed wood counter at a third wave coffee shop in Prague or Frankfurt, you’ve enjoyed Airwave.

If you travel enough, you find the aesthetics comforting eventually. As if your entire palette or taste profile was subtly sifted into the window of preferences set by an art director at an advertising agency in Brooklyn or Amsterdam.

Soothing sameness

Sure you seek out newness and novelty, but also you are glad for the suite at the just nice enough Marriot which delivers you a club sandwich with a request to room service. Remember when Jonny Mnemonic screamed for room service? If you are of a certain age I bet you do.

Ah the height of luxury for a data currier criminal of cyberpunk legend is now the expected outcome for the rootless cosmopolitans. Who is to stay which of us as a worse dystopia?

Categories
Politics

Day 740 and Immigration Failed Us Again

My second attempt at a securing a tourist visa for a friend failed this morning. If you’d have asked me a few years ago if I thought the American immigration basically worked, I would have agreed that, sure I thought it probably worked ok. No reason to think otherwise right? Phew I was wrong.

But after years of being humiliated over and over again by the state department for “the crime” of wanting a family friend to come visit us for vacation, I’ve never felt more ashamed of myself and my country.

I’m ashamed I was such a sucker. I thought we would still do the basic work of being a functional state. I’m ashamed that America treats people who want to visit us this badly.

We have well off, interesting, curious guests that want to explore our culture and spend their time & money seeing our land. We spit on our guests by turning away anyone who isn’t on a Schengen or ESTA waiver. You probably think that includes most people. I did. But we are wrong.

Only 40 of the 195 countries on the planet are granted travel visas without going through the visa embassy approval process. Most people have bad passports. Latin America, Africa, the Balkans, the former Soviet blocks and most of Asia have “bad passports” that require a tourist visa that requires years of waiting for appointments and almost assured disapproval at the Embassy.

I’ve never met a system so broken I couldn’t find a workaround. But here I am at the of my workarounds in tears at how I’ve let down my family and friends. The visa I’ve been helping with was denied a second time today after waiting since March for a second chance to re-apply. That first meeting at which we were also denied also took years of waiting.

And it is getting better. This round after flying to Prague, we got two minutes instead of thirty seconds in Frankfurt. In those minutes they still didn’t look at any of the materials prepared. Just a generic we don’t like the look of your people rejection. We got some boilerplate language about strong ties or weak ties and no we won’t read the 200 pages of supporting documents you brought.

I was a mess yesterday about how afraid I was we’d get down turned down again. But I thought surely I was being too paranoid. The lawyers we paid thought we had a good chance. We’ve brought everything possible for paperwork from mortgages to W2 forms. I’d taken personal financial liability for our friend. I let the government have an invasive look at our finances. I gave the consular offices the deed to my house. I worked for months to get a Congressional letter asking for a fair review of the application. None of it was reviewed.

Now in the aftermath, I’m not even sure if it’s possible to get a consular officer to do a fair review. Our congressional representatives wrote the consular office and they send back boilerplate with no details. No one reads the applications I guess. We can apply again. And again. But would good would it do?

Categories
Preparedness

Day 738 and Little Things

I’ve come to appreciate the little luxuries in life in the aftermath of the pandemic. The Great Weirdening was in full bloom just as the world shut down into a global viral pandemic. The things I took for granted from 2015 are now treasured joys to be relished privately and also on social media. Dooming for the clout.

We are all performing elaborate acts about how we are flourishing, but in reality we’ve all had a number of rebirths and realizations. A lot of people suddenly stopped giving as many fucks and the downstream effects have been a calamity.

Everyone knows this has happened but pet theories as to why and it’s implications are rampant. We’ve fractured into conspiracies depending on what media ecosystem we spend the most time in. I know a lot of extremely online shit because I spend time on Twitter. We all have different scapegoats.

This is also all colliding with the great Jankening. All those people giving fewer fucks. Well, it shows up in what we make. And a lot of products and services got worse. Sometimes subtly. It tugs at your mind that so many little things don’t work like they used to work.

I am happy to fight for what’s mine. But I am fighting harder to get the experience I want. So I notice it when something goes right. When a meal is a bit better than you expected. And quality of service was better than it has a right to be. When maybe something is a throwback to a simpler time. When shit worked. I cherish the things that are genuinely good. I don’t want to lose them.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 726 and Healing

As most of my extended network is aware, I am a big fan of therapy. We all grow up in imperfect families doing their best in a cruel world. No one is immune from emotional hurt, especially if you came by those wounds in childhood. Healing those old wounds as an adult is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and is not reflective of any weakness on your part or failure of your family.

Hurt people hurt. Every single one of us has lingering traumas from our childhood no matter how privileged our lives or lucky our circumstances. Trauma is universal. No one escapes being alive without some.

One of the most relatable types of hurt a child will experience is being made to feel less than, an outsider, unworthy or unloved. Our families might not intend for us to feel this way but it’s not uncommon to be bullied or ignored or told we are unworthy. If we do not find ways to heal from feeling like we are less than others, we will make others feel the same way. And we are obligated as responsible adults to not victimize others.

Nerds who don’t heal their trauma wound of being “unpopular” become quite dangerous when they go from underdog to ruling class

When I was young being called a nerd was an insult. But now as an adult the power dynamics have shifted significantly. The intellectuals have inherited the earth. But too many of us remember ourselves as victims of the strong. As adults we have an obligation to adjust our priors as we are no longer victims of what we experienced in childhood. In fact, we now we have the upper hand. Revenge of the nerds is due for an update.

We must remind our inner child that those days are over. We survived. It’s over. We are now strong adults with our own agency and capacity to set boundaries. Of course, it’s a hard task to reason with our inner child. The ego is very accomplished at guarding us from reality. It doesn’t want us to repeat those traumas and rightly so. It only takes being burned once to avoid the fire.

But if we don’t work to understand why we we still react as adults as if we were a hurt child the wounds of childhood trauma we will never allow us to reality.

If you want to see the truth of your circumstances consider going to therapy. If you cannot afford it, there are many recovery programs that are free to attend like Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon. Contrary to popular perception they are not just for addicts. Heal yourself. We are all rooting for you.

Categories
Background

Day 721 and 40 Questions

I came across a list of 40 questions that Stephen Ango answers every year on Twitter today. It looked like a fun exercise so I thought I’d participate.

What did you do this year that you’d never done before? Bought a house & got my very first mortgage, moved to Montana, lived in Germany for a month, spent time on the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, and experienced -45 degree temperatures.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions? I don’t make them but I did intend to write every single day (for the second year in a row) and I have so far accomplished it.

Did anyone close to you give birth? No

Did anyone close to you die? No

What cities/states/countries did you visit? Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, Florida and Texas for states. United Kingdom, Germany, Albania and Greece for countries.

What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year? All the money for my venture fund and visas for freedom of movement for my friends and family.

What date(s) from this year will remain etched upon your memory, and why? June 18th was the date we closed on our homestead in Montana. August 1st was the day we moved in.

What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting my family safely to a Montana homestead that is the first home we’ve ever owned.

What was your biggest failure? I don’t think it’s a failure, but I wish I got more done particularly when it comes to fundraising and deploying capital, but objectively I did as much as I could. I try to remind myself that the self is not an attack vector so this question is an opportunity to remind myself that failure is just opportunity.

What other hardships did you face? I got a very bad flu in the middle of purchasing the house in Montana. I watched the markets repeat elements of the crashes of 2001 and 2008 which allowed me to see how far I’ve come since my childhood trauma of my family’s bankruptcy on 2001.

Did you suffer illness or injury? The flu in May was awful, I’ve had a number of random infections and I live with chronic ankylosis spondylitis but I’m the healthiest I’ve been in years.

What was the best thing you bought? A house in Montana. But smaller things I’ve loved include a Lunya robe, Ariat boots, Skimms cotton tank bras, and my first go at Botox.

Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband has been an absolute superstar rolling with my crazy plans and I’ll be forever grateful he trusts me to see things that he hasn’t yet seen. I’ve written many a love letter this year to him and my appreciation for the ways big and small he makes my life better.

Whose behavior made you appalled? Not appalled necessarily but the dick riders are really a bummer. We are all sinners and ain’t none of us are saints.

Where did most of your money go? We bought a very nice piece of land with a gorgeous farmhouse on it. The second biggest expense after buying a house was medical bills. It’s fun to be sick in America. Third on that list is food both because my husband is a gourmet cook and because inflation on food was quite high.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? Being a homeowner has been exciting as hell. Everything about buying a house and making it our own has been amazing. I also spent a lot of time excited about DAOs and corporate governance, my founders, and spending a month next to the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

What song will always remind you of this year? I don’t listen to much music so I don’t have an answer.

Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? Thinner or fatter? Richer or poorer? I am happier, poorer, and thinner than I was last year.

What do you wish you’d done more of? I have a lot of things I want to beat myself up about for not doing more, but I actually feel like I didn’t my time well this year. I don’t always need to be improving things. So I guess I wish I was comfortable doing less.

What do you wish you’d done less of? Beating myself up for not doing more.

How are you spending the holidays? I am in bed with my husband watching disaster porn movies while it is 45 degrees below Fahrenheit.

Did you fall in love this year? I am deeper in love than I was last year which is one of the benefits of always working on yourself and having a partner that also works on themselves.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I wouldn’t say I hate them but I’ve been disappointed with everyone involved in Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

What was your favorite show? The Peripheral. It is the adaption on Amazon of William Gibson’s most recent novels and it is stunningly good science fiction. I’ve enjoyed a lot of television this year though.

What was the best book you read? Hands down Peter Watt’s Blindsight which I cannot believe I didn’t read till this year. If you are autistic I in particular recommend it.

What was your greatest musical discovery of the year? Again I don’t really do music.

What was your favorite film? I’m not a big film person so I didn’t watch a ton of movies this year. I’m a TV person. But probably the Weird Al parody biopic. Extremely funny and very sweet. Worth taking the trouble to find on Roku.

What was your favorite meal? I’ve had so many amazing meals this year. Perfect Montana steaks is probably at the top but schnitzel in Frankfurt, branzino in the Mediterranean, BBQ in Austin, and stone crabs in Miami round out the list. I traveled a lot this year and that means I had a lot of great meals.

What did you want and get? A homestead in Montana.

What did you want and not get? A visa for a family friend. American immigration is extremely broken. I’m hoping I get the visa granted next year for them.

What did you do on your birthday? I discussed my “fundraise in public” for chaotic capital and spent it with Elle Morrill and my husband. Elle cooked for me and it was absolutely epic.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? The American immigration system working. But that’s like asking for world peace. I spent a lot of time and social capital trying to get a visa that still hasn’t been granted.

How would you describe your personal fashion this year? Black. I mostly wear cotton black sweats and a long sleeve cotton tee-shirt. My biggest upgrade to that look was adding in a Lunya robe. But I also bought a bunch of chore clothing for working on the homestead. I also got to enjoy my “heat” wardrobe which is mostly Grecian gowns made by Norma Kamali.

What kept you sane? My therapist Dagmar and writing every single day.

Which celebrity/public figure did you admire the most? Folks hate this answer but I love Kim Kardashian. She works her ample ass off for her family business, spends her time working against the carceral state, makes a great bra and she started a private equity firm.

What political issue stirred you the most? The government’s interest in deciding what I do with my own body. I’m a libertarian because the very foundation of sovereignty rests on your right to control your own body. Though this issue is very closely followed by our inability to grant visas and bring immigrants to America in terms of animating my energy this year.

Who did you miss? I miss my grandmother Nanamai. She’s my mother’s mother. She’d be so proud of what I’ve done with my life. I wish she’d be been alive to wear one of my lipsticks. I wish she were alive to see the family life I’ve built. She passed on more than a decade ago and I’m still consumed by grief if I think about it too hard.

Who was the best new person you met? There are almost too many to chose from. Meeting in person my internet friends who got me through the pandemic is the correct answer. You know who you are. And I can’t wait to meet more of them. Internet friends are real friends.

What valuable life lesson did you learn this year? I learned a lot watching hero worshippers, I mean dickriders, beg their chosen figurehead to save them. But alas the only person who can save you is you.

What is a quote that sums up your year? Fuck around and find out.” But in all seriousness just doing the thing and trying shit out is actually crucial in life and business.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 716 and Slightly Embarrassed

I spent my entire day on Twitter. I’m not embarrassed by that to be clear. It felt like a vacation day. And even though I live in a majestic mountain paradise, I will spend my time off inside looking at my phone.

Yes it was absolutely gorgeous day in Montana. I marveled at the playful pinks of the sunrise over the mountains in our backyard while drinking coffee. And then I got back in bed and on my phone. And you better believe I fucking doomacrolled.

I just gorged myself on cheap attention calories. Gimme that dopamine drip. I did not even try to modulate my consumption pattern or prevent myself from going into fight or flight. It was goblin mode. I’m still not embarrassed.

But Twitter is a fucking mess. Watching people go tribal on Elon Musk is worse than people going tribal on the president somehow. Maybe because it feels more personal to me? Don’t get me wrong Trump felt existential, but Elon Musk is personal.

And it’s fucking embarrassing watching people react to him and his decision making. Here it is my industry’s moment in the spotlight. The technology industry showing itself as a keeper of common goods and open discourse right? Absolutely fucking not. We’ve shat the bed. Old management was incompetent sure. But new management is not an improvement.

I went into Twitter being purchased by Elon Musk modestly optimistic. He’s our guy right? He’s one of us. He likes startups and capital and technology. He reads the same science fiction as me. We’ve got friends in common. This is what it’s like to be a fan of the home team right?

Well fuck me sideways it has been going poorly. The site is pretty broken but I’m over that. It’s just the constant mayhem. Dave Kellog termed it adhocracy. Some random bullshit happens and the whole website has to lurch around conspiracy theories and rationalization.

It has frankly not been a fine showing for techno-libertarians. Not sure about showing up for a monarch executive now that you’ve seen your civil rights up for terms-of-service revisions by fiat huh? I’ve always thought the neo-monarchists to be dickriders but that’s a sentence that’s only comprehensible to the terminally online. And yes I should go outside and touch snow. I’ll do that now.

Categories
Culture

Day 712 and Effort

One of the biggest mindfucks in life is how little effort and reward are correlated. I spent a bunch of time yesterday trying to write something heartfelt and it just didn’t get there. I spent maybe 2 or 3x the amount of time I normally do writing on this piece and I just couldn’t get it to hit emotionally.

I could feel that I was pushing it too hard. I asked Alex to do an edit and a re-organization of the content. It was a lot more legible but it didn’t have that special sauce. Sometimes working at the problem doesn’t fix it. And because the topic was a little bit too of the moment I had to let it go.

None of which is to suggest that effort isn’t important. You’d be shocked at how showing up and doing the work is rewarded. Putting in a little effort takes you pretty far. And less than you’d imagine so long as you combine that work with social graces. If you are feeling stuck in life go study manners as hard as you can. Then go hang around smart people and watch the work roll in.

Categories
Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 711 and Excession

So Elon, this isn’t likely to actually make it to you, but this is my blog, I write every day for myself, so why not, I can give it a try and pretend. If it turns out this is any good I’ll ask a mutual friend to send it to you.

tldr: I feel a (parasocial) connection with you & I want more from you (and maybe also for you). I know it feels cool and edgy to wink at taboos but you’re getting rekt by fuck bois, sycophants and opportunists.

I know we are all Galileo in our own mind shouting “and yet it moves” to narrow minded Papists but you realize being a martyr requires your death right? I don’t want you to die.

You certainly don’t remember this, but we met a number of times in the mid-teens. Times like when a friend of mine hosted a blow out birthday party in New York. We sat next to each other in some awful club and discussed chess with a small group. The same friend had a big wedding. I remember goofy dancing. Your sons made snow angels in the confetti. It was nice.

You seemed as uncomfortable as the rest of us nerds. Your autism didn’t seem any worse than mine though. I remember finding that comforting at the time. It has curdled into alienation over time as your fame far outstripped your origins. And I’m sad to have lost the feeling of love I had for you.

Before we “met” I had slight case of hero worship. I remember thinking here is someone just like me. He likes the same science fiction. He dreams about the singularity. He’s neurodivergent. And he wants to get us off this damn rock. And he’s got more money and power than I do so maybe he is worth admiring. I was young and stupid and hadn’t yet gone to real therapy.

I would tell my friends I wanted to die outside the earth’s gravity well. I thought perhaps you might be the man that got us there. Had I not had a chance to see how much you were just like me, perhaps I’d still be a stan.

Never meet your heroes. Everyone is just people. Now I’m worried I’ll die here on Earth filled with grief like Captain Kirk. There are no dicks left to ride once you realize we are all just humans.

What I see now from you isn’t power and happiness, it’s isolation and sadness. But I want you to know it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to listen to the flattering dick riders. They want shit from you. They want their agendas and they see your money and power as a way to achieve it. I know you know this.

It makes me angry to see you coddle the parasites. I’m shocked your mother hasn’t told you to knock it off. She seems like a cold bitch who gets shit done. I’m sure she’s told you that you are better than them. The nerds and autists did not inherit this Earth just to squander it for the roar of the crowd. If it is all bread and circus, remember you are a king and not a clown.

Maybe you think their slavish slobbering attention is a fair trade for some of your magic, I used to be emotionally slutty like that too.

Being an attention whore isn’t unusual for someone with distant parents. Shitposters gotta post right? Once again, I feel a kinship to you on the compulsion to post and roast. I’m addicted to Twitter too. We are all filling up the holes leftover from our childhood. I’ve got daddy issues so I’m sure you get it.

And yes, I am projecting my own insecurities. But maybe I can tell you a story that will comfort you in the big wide universe. Maybe it will comfort someone else. Maybe it’s just to comfort myself.

I read you named your family office Excession. I’m also a fan of Ian M. Banks. Since 2008 or so, I carry around a paperback of Excession with me whenever I vacation. Which isn’t a lot. I normally use a Kindle to read but this paperback has become a kind of totem. It signals to my hindbrain that I am in a sympathetic state of rest and digest. I reread it over and over in 20-30 page chunks. It bounces me out of fight or flight now after much repetition, it’s my comfort book.

A picture from September 2014 in Miami. We seem to have come full circle on Ukraine
Here is a picture of you with the same copy in 2015 while in Sun Valley.

Your love for Ian M. Banks all felt very relatable to me as I’ve been dreaming of a post-scarcity world where my AI space ship friends shuttle me around as they pursue their inscrutable intentions. I want to sublime. Maybe not for a few thousand more years though. But I want to make it through the singularity to the other side, or at very least avoid dying in William Gibson’s jackpot. I feel like you get what apocalypses preoccupied my mind.

Most of my fantasies and fears have been touched by my love for science fiction. I saw in you someone who saw the same possibilities as me. You were very much one of us.

I also see someone being used for their dreams. They are harnessing you and your power to drive the rest of us to focus on their nightmares. Don’t let them steer you.

But your posting is reaching people. It’s annoying to some, but it hits. Maybe it hits too hard. But the isolation I imagine you feel isn’t necessary. Power laws can separate just as effectively as they bring us together. You don’t have to be surrounded by reply guys. There is a path to connection even for the most singular among us.

Now of course, I want something from you too. I want you to get us off this rock before it’s too late. I know it’s a big ask.

My best is advice is to go reread Excession and get yourself out of this persistent “fight or flight” cortisol pump. Get focused back on the shit that matters. Maybe find yourself a nice autistic sociopath who will love you for you. Maybe she can protect you from some of the pain. I’m sure you will figure it out.

I want you go to therapy. Mine is pretty good if you’d like an introduction. She’s an aristocratic 80 something Swedish woman, so you might like her. She’s perfect for working through attachment issues. She’s quite good at dealing with poor little rich kids with mommy and daddy issues. Her neighbors are all billionaires so she won’t be impressed by your bullshit. She has a sub-specialty in sex so she can probably help with that dick riding problem too.

And most importantly, she’ll be the only person who doesn’t want anything from you. And you need that more than anything.