Categories
Startups

Day 761 and Calls

Yesterday ended up being a big day for me. A couple projects that have been in the works for months for final confirmations. That meant I spent a lot of time on phone calls yesterday.

I hadn’t planned for Monday to be so busy. I have therapy in the late afternoons so I tend to back my mornings but I still leave enough breaks to come down from the energy and excitement of a big call. I find synchronized communications to be a little overstimulating so I like to meditate and do Wim Hoff breathing to break down my cortisol levels.

But I couldn’t make it happen yesterday. It was too much back to back. I went from an hour long fact checking media call right into my two hour group therapy session. I’d had a few other smaller calls before it as well.

My earbuds were the first to note the issue. With about fifteen minutes left in my two hour Zoom I got the 10% battery left warning from my AirPods. My technology realized it was time to recharge before I did.

And boy was the decay quick. The AirPods went bwoooop and went dead. I could feel myself getting a little dazed myself. As soon as I was off the call I checked my HRV using Welltory and found all my systems were drained. Too many calls has called on too few resources.

Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 754 and Smooth is Fast

I like to move quickly. With my enthusiasm for generating momentum, I can easily get myself myself into trouble. I’d bet you can remember a time when you accidentally slowed yourself down by trying to go too quickly.

The phrase “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” originates from the SEAL teams but the purpose behind it can be applied to all situations. There are many situations when we want to react quickly and start moving, but in your efforts to move so quickly, you end up slowing down the operation

Chris Fussel, McChrystal Group

I was rewatching William Gibson’s Peripheral and happened to hear the SEAL slogan from one of the main characters Burton. As his sister Flynne scrambles he reminds her that slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

I am taking that to heart today as I’m itching to get a bunch done. But I am still a little jet lagged from being on Europe time and I woke up a little bit sniffly and a low recovery score on my Whoop.

As tempting as it is to beat myself up about feeling behind on work or scold myself for deliberately slowing myself, I am reminded that there is a reason high performance teams like the SEALS believe slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Categories
Travel

Day 752 and 24 Hours

I cannot remember the last time I pulled an all nighter. Probably something related to Black Friday sales. But in order to travel back from Prague to Montana I was awake for 24 hours straight across three flights and four separate airports.

I hadn’t really intended to be awake for the entire trip but because one has to pad timing around flights these days, every leg of the trip involved three or four hours between flights or an extended delay that has me running.

I was awake at 5:30am in Prague for a 7am flight that boarded at 7am. I arrived in London at 10am GMT after delays. My Heathrow to Denver flight was meant to department at 1pm. That 9 hour flight was the most pleasant part of the journey but I didn’t want to nap during it as I was concerned it would make my jet lag significantly worse.

I landed in Denver at 3:30pm Mountain time which is 7 hours minus GMT and 8 hours behind Prague so it was 10:30pm for me. I was dragging as that was a long day in and of itself. And frankly I’m used to living off a hub like Denver so a final leg of the journey was a new experience for me.

It was snowing in Denver which had created a significant backlog for takeoffs as everyone needed de-icing. I made a made dash for the 1:30pm Bozeman flight that was delayed to 4pm. I sprinted through Global Entry and back through security but the doors had already closed. I had to wait for my originally schedule 7:30pm flight.

Miraculously that flight was only delayed to 8pm because of the weather but I still found myself sitting in Terminal B for hours as my energy flagged and my spine started to hurt. My body clearly knew it was time for me to be in bed but here I was under florescent lights, eating a Caesar salad at a chain restaurant, waiting for one last flight.

When we boarded at 8pm it was 4am for my internal body clock. Thankfully the 700 mile flight from Denver to Bozeman is only a little over an hour. We touched down at 930pm. By the time I got to Alex waiting for me outside I had been up for exactly 24 hours.

I crossed a contingent, the English Channel, flew over the arctic circle and through another continent, which is an impressive territory to cover in a single day. But what a long day it was.

I slept from 11pm to 10am MTN to make up my sleep debt for the all nighter and I am still pretty tired. That was the equivalent of sleeping till 5pm. It all felt very collegiate to sleep through “the entire day” even though I am now settled back into my original time zone.

My Whoop recovery score was a 24% so I was pretty into the red from the whole experience. But I should be ready to spend the week on the proper time zone so I suppose it was all worth it.

Categories
Travel

Day 751 and The Voyage Home

I began my long many legged journey back to Montana at 5:30am GMT+1. Most of my west coast friends haven’t even gone to sleep for their Friday nights as I set off before dawn on Saturday. Time zones are fun.

Journeys home make for a great narrative arc as we follow our hero from foreign lands back to his or her native land. My home is Montana so the trek from Prague is many legs and transitions.

Vaclav Havel Airport 5am in snow

She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.

William Gibson, Pattern Recognition

The first quote that comes to my mind is William Gibson’s theory of jet lag from Pattern Recognition. My soul finally caught up with me in Prague and now I’ll be waiting on my soul tail cruising behind me as I cross a continent, a channel, an ocean and another continent. I’ve got no lost luggage but a lost soul is a perpetual risk of globe trotting.

I used “The Voyage Home” as my title as it happens to be tied for my favorite Star Trek movie (along with Wrath of Khan). Yes, it is l own as “the whale movie” in which a pair of humpback whales must be brought from the past to save Earth. It is called the Voyage Home as Spock is being brought back from Vulcan by his crew after a death and rebirth sequence.

Trailing souls and rebirths are satisfactory metaphors for traveling. We work to maintain our sense of self even as our surroundings change. Sometimes those changes are transformative.

And like Spock I am stumped by a key question. “How do you feel?” Unlike Spock I do not fail to understand the nature of the question. I am sad, ashamed, angry and tired after the second visa failure. But if I must imitate everyone’s favorite Vulcan, you can tell my my mother I feel fine. Or I will soon. I am knitting together the timeline of my future with my soul in tow.

Categories
Emotional Work Travel

Day 746 and Control

When I feel afraid I seek control. I have rituals and rhythms that help sooth the fears of my inner child.

This morning I was in my least favorite fear control pattern. I had to leave a temporary hotel for a new Airbnb as a mold issue destabilized my first week. Hives and prednisone and such. I hate packing and I hate the logistics of it. It reminds me of my childhood nightmares.

I set my alarm early enough to get breakfast and packing in before the slightly too early checkout. I was racked with anxiety I couldn’t repack everything as I’d acquired new items meant for an apartment stay and my suitcase overflowed.

I had vitamins and medicine to take but I couldn’t do more than choke down a croissant. I ordered fruit and cheese and than was too worked up to eat it. I hate wasting food so I wasn’t thrilled. I beat myself up for being a bad person who can’t take care of herself.

As soon as realized how had it was getting I took an Ativan. Joke all you want about benzodiazepines but occasionally they are the barrier between a traumatized woman and the history of her fears. Probably why it’s such a cliche. Just the sort of thing you learn as you are alone in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language.

I felt so rushed by the need to be out at a certain time. Each knock on the door a reminder of my failures. Each internal call to calm down a criticism I recalled from my father, my coaches, my bosses and my lovers. A hysterical woman is a shameful thing.

Each “hurry up” a reminder that I am someone who is policed and polite and controlled for other people’s convenience. I am not allowed to be scared or cry or reactive. A hysterical woman woman is, again, a shameful thing.

Finally after the tension and anger and shame bubbled up, I threw the first thing I could get my hands on to release the tension. Better than hurting myself a dim quiet voice said. I cracked my watch face. And immediately felt better. And so embarrassed I’d boiled over.

I’d only needed five more minutes to get myself together. Just a moment. Give me a second. Please just let me be. And each time my preferences had to accommodate someone else I lost more of myself.

I was able to exert the seamless self control over my emotions eventually. I checked out. I tipped. I’m swanned over to my new digs. I executed exactly what I needed and got on with my workday. But the shame stung and the control soothed it like a cold aloe gel.

Categories
Travel

Day 745 and Restless Travelers Scrolling

Coming of age in the golden era of digital hospitality had an enormous effect on my expectations for flexibility on the road. I rarely book ahead, I never worry about finding a place to stay, I overpack luxuries and I am always uncomfortably on the hunt for my personal totemic signifiers of safety. You need things on the road to keep your rituals intact so you don’t drift.

I know how to search for a place to rest and I restlessly pursue it on the road. Singles browse dating apps like I browse Airbnb. I spot red flags on apartment listings like a woman who has been on one too many bad dates.

I spent much of my childhood traveling. My most potent recurring nightmare is packing for a trip that never arrives. I have lived in a perpetual state of readiness to get up and leave. I bring endless tiny compacts and one singular pair of high heeled shoes for a night out I never go on. I am ready for glamour on the road but all I find is the anxiety of instability.

It’s this perpetual readiness to flee that has made me an exceptionally good picker of hotels, rental units, vacation homes and other short term stays. I couldn’t afford a deposit for an apartment in New York for so long that I could find an under-market illegal sublet on Craigslist on a moment’s notice. It’s a handy skill set.

Naturally I’ve come to take this talent for granted as I’ve cultivated it. I’m confident that I’ll pick a decent rental because I can spot issues from miles away. I admit I’ve looked down on complaints about how bad Airbnb has become. I thought I’d avoid the quality control issues. It’s no longer a better value than hotels generally speaking but the real crime is that it’s troubles are not worth the hassle for many. It’s not seamless like a branded hotel.

I felt the hassle was worth it for the comforts of home on the road. But I think I’ve crossed my personal Rubicon on Airbnb in Prague. I won’t default to it any longer. The costs are now basically identical. You’ve got to weigh the costs of friction against having your life a bit disturbed. Hotels specialize in hospitality. It’s probably worth remembering.

Categories
Aesthetics Travel

Day 743 and Wandering

I took some time to go wandering today. I’ve been in Prague for six days but it’s been such a mess I haven’t actually felt like I’ve been in the city.

I like to get to know cities by walking. If I’ve only been in a cab or an Uber I don’t have a sense of place. I need to walk to feel like I’ve landed in a place. While I love a good resort destination now and again, I find it hard to feel grounded without being able to roam.

I wonder if being raised in a small town affected this at all. I wasn’t really a suburban kid. We had suburbs in my town but you still went to a downtown core where kids would walk from the library to the high school to the pedestrian mall. Walking was entertainment for my teenage years.

Now as an adult I find nothing more liberating than just walking for as long as you can. Being wedded to a destination or a GPS mapped route feels too much like having to do something or be somewhere. But wandering around with no place to be tastes like freedom. You are still in charge of your own life if you can go for a long walk with no purpose.

Categories
Travel

Day 735 and Detail Oriented

Packing is one of my most consistent niche subtopics on this experimental “write every single day” habit. I’m fact, I’ve written 23 times about packing over the last seven hundred and some days. It would have been more but the pandemic kept me at home more which also eroded my packing skills.

I’ve written about my recurring packing nightmare in which the anxiety my inner child feels about travel & packing in my childhood looms large. I’ll be trying to locate a key item as a countdown clock ticks down. I never find the item & I miss the trip.

We moved every two years from house to house. We also traveled constantly for my father’s work. The dream so clearly represents abandonment it’s barely worth invoking psychology.

Now as an an adult I loathe packing. It brings back all my childhood memories of never feeling stable. Boxes and suitcases take me back.

Day 222 and Recurring Nightmares

To overcome this lingering childhood fear, I am a very detail oriented packed. I’ve got lists. I’ve got a whole triage program to be sure I have all of my medicine and vitamins in their original prescription bottles so the security folks don’t fuck me. I do doubles so if I get separated from a bag I can manage 24-48 hours without it. And I never let my core prescriptions leave my backpack which never leaves my sight line.

A grey Muji overhead suitcase and an Aer backpack

I’m a very light packer when it comes to clothing. I’m a two shirts, two pants, one dress and six undergarments type for a two week trip. With some winter sweaters taking too much space. I do them in cubes that zip down for less space and then I label them.

Packing cubes with labels

I try to label everything in my packing cubes and match them back against my master Notion document for packing necessities. I think do another hand written list in my notebook as well.

I have to take a number of medicines and vitamins with me to manage my ankylosis which takes up a third of my suitcase. I could be a much lighter packer if the TSA and other security institutions didn’t insist on me carrying drugs in their original prescription bottle and a file with my prescriptions printed out. I’m not a detail oriented person without focus but nothing forced focused quite like the prospect of falling ill overseas.

Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 733 and Rollercoasters

I felt amazing last night coming out of my weekly therapy block. I was emotionally present. I was kind to myself. I felt like I was making progress. What a way to kick off the New Year I said to myself. I was riding a high.

I went to bed at my usual time feeling relaxed. I definitely thought I was doing the moisturized, thriving, in my lane meme perfectly. But then I woke up at 1am completely alert. Fuck.

I usually have more trouble falling asleep than staying asleep. Coming down from an emotional high like therapy can often take me a few hours. But every once in a while, I will wake up in the middle of the night and find myself unable to fall back asleep.

I felt like I was on a roller coaster. I was up then I was down and then I was up again. I was energized and completely awake for three hours in the middle of the night.

The sleep hygiene folks tell you it’s best to get up and do some sort of activity if you find yourself awake during your normal circadian sleep cycle. I decided to read a book.

I’m in the middle of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. It has been recommended on numerous “best of” lists. I am enjoying it quite a bit as it’s about friendship, a gaming startup, disability and creativity.

Eventually I felt myself getting drowsy around 4am. According to my sleep tracker I was in and out of light sleep until around 6am when I finally transitioned into deep sleep. The rollercoaster had ended its ride.

Categories
Community Emotional Work

Day 731 and Starting Year Three

2022 was a good year for me, but it wasn’t without its losses. I have a tradition on New Year’s Eve with a very old and dear friend. We’d send each other a scene from a comedy show about hipsters in Brooklyn.

The show made a special new year’s episode. In it, the characters play a game where they do absolutely unthinkably cruel thing to their friends. But it all must be forgiven at midnight because “Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas!” Their tradition is you have to forgive each other no matter what has been done.

The Burg

In the real world forgiveness is trickier. Sending the “Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas” was a tradition that stretched some fifteen years. Going into 2023, if did not happen. I’d rather not get into the specifics but some things cannot be forgot even in the spirit of Auld Lang Syne. I hope some year down the road it can be restarted, but sometimes you don’t know what can be forgiven till you do. Fixes, remedies, and recovery take time to mend and set.

For old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind
Should old acquaintance be forgot
In the days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet
For the sake of auld lang syne

Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788

I did however, begin the New Year with another respectable tradition. We managed to stay up till midnight thanks to the sparkling wit and hospitality of a new Montana friend’s dinner party. Champagne was toasted. Fireworks were set off.

It’s a strange way to ring in a new year by straddling the two years over midnight. Rare is the person for whom this isn’t a disruption to their schedule. I usually sleep by 10pm, but I found myself sleeping from 1:38pm to 10am on the first day of the year. And then still absolutely needing another nap that afternoon to recover. And I didn’t even drink except to toast.

And so a third year of this experiment begins with something lost and something gained. Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas. I still want more sleep. Revelry and late nights are harder the older you get. But I am excited for what this year will bring.