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
Internet Culture Politics

Day 764 and Natalism

There are a number of cultural streams in American life that have all aligned around being natalist. You want your country to have babies because it’s good for the economy. And presumably also good for national security.

This fairly basic insight means everyone from techno-libertarians to Catholic homesteaders believes that Americans should be having more babies. It is not just the Quiver-full types having six babies anymore, so are our wealthiest aristocratic titans of industry.

But this alliance is missing some crucial basics. Like for instance the fundamental civilization level things we need to do to make it desirable and affordable to have children. It’s expensive to be pregnant, it’s expensive to raise children, it’s expensive all around to be parents. I spent $40,000 on IVF and it ruined my health. If I counted lost wages and being forced to sell my startup I’m the total costs is seven figures.

I don’t know if you’ve looked at just the costs around having a baby but it will shock you every time you turn a new corner in the fertility space. I learned today you will spend between $100,000 to $200,000 to hire a surrogate. It’s a person’s salary and a lot of medical care so sure that seems right but damn.

I guess I am interested in the math of Natalism to see if I could afford it. I am one of those “tech elites” that thinks we have to have children to drive the innovation of tomorrow. Our future is based on an optimistic hope that maybe we can push for a better future. Humanity won’t continue without children.

But I don’t have a body that is all that healthy without medical intervention. I live a normal life now and can work full time again because I take some exceptional medicine.

But it’s not medicinal regime that can be combined with pregnancy. So if I want to carry a child I have to go off what amounts to life saving medicine. Without it I’d be on bed rest. You can imagine the math I’m doing in my head? Do I want to pour another million into having a family?

So what’s a girl like me to do? Surrogacy right? But I’ve got 10 eggs and 2 embryos so assuming a third of them make it, that’s nearly half a million dollars in surrogacy fees. To get three kids. That’s a heavy price tag on the future. If more of them take it gets even wilder.

Now ok sure I’d rather we encourage a world where younger healthy folks do things naturally but don’t we want everyone going at maximum effort for a better tomorrow? Shouldn’t we want technology to solve this? Where are my artificial wombs at?

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 747 and Defeat

They say you shouldn’t make big decisions after a failure or a defeat. I failed during my trip to Prague. And I’ve been trying to let go of the sting of the failure. I was trying to help a family friend secure a visa to America. It was my second attempt and second failure. I’ve been working on it for two years.

I don’t know what to do next. I am unsure if I am able to do more to help. It’s humiliating to keep failing at securing a visa. Americans have little to no idea how hard it is to get into our country. Only 40 countries of 195 can travel to America without going through our Byzantine maze of rejection and waiting.

Maybe I need more time to pass before I’ll come up with another idea or solution. Every time I write about visa issues I get back a bunch of comments from folks and alas few of them appear capable of fixing the situation. I’ve got a few leads ranging from fixers to number one ranked legal firms. We’ve reached out and secured help from congressional representatives and ambassadors.

I don’t accept defeat easily. I chew on failure like a dog on a bone. I want to find a way to a solution for our friend but at this point it’s not just about them. I need to find a path forward for myself as well.

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
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
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 727 and Low Recovery Scores

I am chuckling at how excited my former self was for a productive holiday season. I was just overcome by enthusiasm for getting ahead over the break. I was so sure the relaxation would lead to creativity and connection. Pride comes before a fall I guess. But according to my Whoop & Apple Watch, my heart rate variability has been significantly worse than usual.

Maybe it was the extreme weather. Montana had a temperature swing of 95 degrees over the last week. Perhaps I’ve simply been overdoing it with cortisol and overstimulation, as I’ve had an exciting couple of days online.

I’ve wrote up a product road maps for Twitter’s messaging service and gone viral for therapy poasting. Those two activities are tied together. You can guess who the audience was for each of those and enjoy a chuckle.

I’ve got at least one post I’d like to get done before I wrap up year two of writing every single day. I think it’s important to do a year end “best of” overview. But that will require focus and time to get right. But I won’t be doing it today. Today I will listen to my body and let it recover. 2022 was by all measures a hell of a year. I look back on it and see a huge level up in my personal life across multiple dimensions. So if my body wants a little extra recovery time it earned it.

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
Emotional Work

Day 724 and Christmas Therapy

Yesterday a Twitter friend asked how they could survive a challenging work situation. They have to tolerate some people that frustrate them as it’s not a good time for them to leave their job. In response, I managed to sum up five years of therapy in a single Tweet.

Go to therapy. Find out what makes you reactive (usually something to do with childhood interactions), learn not to get triggered by it and enjoy giving fewer fucks about other people’s inappropriate boundaries because now you have boundaries. Tbh AA/Al-Anon works & is free

I am posting it today on Christmas as I think it’s salient. During the holidays you are especially prone to getting triggered by other people’s reactions. It’s quite natural in family dynamics as you tend to regress around people that knew you as a child. But you are not doomed to repeat it.

You must understand know that other people’s bullshit has nothing to do with you. It’s all their childhood shit & personal reaction formations. You are equipped to choose your boundaries & not allow yourself to be dragged into codependency & reactionary cycles. Merry Christmas

Categories
Aesthetics Startups

Day 714 and Cosmetic Organization

I used to be the CEO of a cosmetics company called Stowaway. We were a direct to consumer brand that manufactured and retailed our own line of travel sized makeup. Alas I got too sick to work and we sold the company to a private equity holding firm who shuttered it during the pandemic. I’m “shocked” that travel sized red lipstick wasn’t popular during two years of masking and lockdown.

I don’t particularly want to work in cosmetics again, even though I have arguably priceless experience that could be put to good use helping other brands. Startups are are traumatic and it’s not unusual for founders to find it challenging to work in spaces they know well. You don’t want to undermine the enthusiasm of founders. Also you’ve probably taken enough risks for a lifetime in a given space to never want to touch it again even if you made money.

But I do still enjoy being a consumer of cosmetics. I’ve got what might be the most comprehensive library of travel sized makeup in existence. I moved all of it up to Montana this year where it lives in a modestly organized vanity. For some reason I decided do a little reorganization of it today.

A very messy cosmetics vanity littered with makeup bags, travel sized packaging and a Sephora advent calendar.

Instead of finding a new schema for where I plan to keep all my products, I made it much worse. I let myself get a little bit of tunnel vision and instead of playing around for half an hour I spent an ungodly amount of time making it much worse. I’ve got drawers that are bursting with tiny mascaras, tiny lipsticks, tiny eye shadow palettes and thousands of other items.

I was surprised to find myself enjoying it. I did some comparisons of packaging and formulations and found that I was still quite pleased with what we had built. Many new brands have emerged since then but the promise of a minimalist purse friendly brand remains elusive. I see all the ways I failed but I also saw all the ways in which our team succeeded. And it was nice to feel like perhaps I’d learned something. But now I’ve got to clean it all up before my husband steps on an eyeliner.