Other new shirt.
Holy cow the urge to get out on a board hit hard today, so I just watched my slide video and stared at the quiver trying to decide which one I’m going out on first when the coast is clear. Pretty sure it’ll be the Subsonic or the Pantheon. The Comet calls but baby steps.
- I send ❤️ emojis more readily
Some things from this period I am appreciating:
I started an early rise routine a few months ago, mostly to make the commutes for the occasional 7 a.m. meeting feel less onerous. I have mostly kept the routine but without the 45-minute commute. I have so much time in the morning before work, now.
That time often goes to making good breakfasts for Ben. Play a podcast, make the pancakes or biscuits and gravy, drink tea.
I love my office. I’m surrounded by my pictures, I have the lighting dialed in. It’s bright and welcoming. There’s decent sound. My mood improves when I walk in first thing. At the end of the day, I sit in the lounge chair in the corner with the lights low and think about nothing.
We have a lot of discrete spaces now that the weather is turning: bedroom balcony/porch, front porch, little back patio with sun sail, our offices, and the living room. It’s great to just go out and sit on the balcony in between meetings and get a little sun and breeze.
Our patterns throughout the day take us in and out of offices/rooms. Sometimes we all end up in the living room; Ben sewing or playing a game, Alison and me working. It’s companionable. After a while a phone call or whatever breaks up the moment and we drift away.
It is easier to consider what’s next during the day. At first home is a distraction, but after a while it’s back to deeply familiar and comfortable. Grab a glass of water, sit on the porch for ten minutes and think about what’s important for that next meeting or work sprint.
It’s so quiet now. You can see more stars at night.
People are masked and all skirting wide, but the friendly little wave–a sort of manual curtsy–is back in vogue. I was a friendly little waver when we moved here 20 years ago, but the move to the sorta WASPy, chilly northeast Portland beat it out of me, and Lents people are more about the uptilted “sup?” chin, which is less a greeting and more a fleeting nonaggression pact.
I see more of Ben and he wants to talk more.
In the quiet and relative calm I’ve carved out around me, I have space to remember people are not at their best. Sometimes people aren’t at their best sort of at me, and it has become easier over the past few weeks to return to center afterward. We’re all sort of alone with our egos right now. People succumb. They need understanding and patience, and a sincere belief on my part that there is nothing to forgive.
No commute home at night. Just that last email or Slack, a quick check for invoices or purchase orders or expense reports, then gather up the mug or glass, lights out, and head downstairs.
People reaching out and being closer in the isolation.
Space to sit in the dark and grieve, or feel shitty, or cry, or worry.
Writing more feels like an adaptive behavior, at the slight cost of coming to believe meetings are best for the truly novel, but not being sure how to address that.
I have finally found the sweet spot between keeping handwritten notes and capturing actions reliably. It’s simple: Take notes, annotate actions with “!!!” and then sweep that into Things at the end of the meeting, which is easier when you’re not rushing down a floor and across the building to get to the next thing.
Ben’s room is a marvel to me. He understands comfort and coziness in a way I was incapable of at his age. Throw pillows, big blankets, fairy lights, candles. I poke my head in and my heart melts. He learned how to figure out what he loves and he surrounds himself with it. It took me forever–well into my forties– to stop being angry and hard on myself, and to learn how to find things that brought joy or comfort. I’m really proud that he just has that.
This is a hard time. Sometimes I think it could swallow me. I worry for people I care about, and people I don’t even know. I sense inside me a resistance to listening to angry people because they are a demand on my reserves, so I worry that I might starve my own pet anger and begin to forget important things.
So this wasn’t an act of “it’s all fine!” It was an enumeration of things that are good because of so much that is bad. It is a reminder of how much I have. I’m grateful for it.
Somebody made a giant mock-up of a Claymore mine. As I stood there explaining Claymore mines to Al a lady across the street yelled “what is that?”
“It’s an anti-personnel mine, kind of!” I shouted back. She looked confused and Al shouted “a military thing!”
“Oh. Thought so!”
… it’s a meaningless term for understanding our politics, with almost no remaining descriptive power.
There is still a narrow slice of the political spectrum that has relegated itself, with its strict readings and narrow legalism, to the role of useful idiot for nihilists of assorted stripes. Those people espouse “conservative” ideological beliefs and adhere to rigid “conservative” principles, and they are being gamed by people do not, themselves, have a particularly conservative world view.
Those nihilists are not “conservative,” because they are hostile not only to how institutions are run when in the hands of Democrats or “progressives” or “liberals,” but are hostile to the institutions themselves. They’ve spent the past few decades chipping away at our faith in public education, and in the current circumstances are busy going after the Postal Service partially because of a mania for privatization, and partially because it could be a vehicle for enhanced voter participation and they don’t like that.
If you want, you can recurse even further into that nihilist tendency and unearth a number of camps: “watch the world burn” nihilists, “liberal democracy is a failed experiment” nihilists, and “we could probably just privatize police and military and be safe on our compounds” nihilists. These are not “conservative” positions.
We need better words than what we are using now, because the nihilists have captured people who are not, themselves, nihilists. They’ve done that partially by hijacking conservative institutions, and partially because our outmoded language and failed categories are blinding us to potential allies.
In this country, the conservative program won decades ago. That happened with Reagan and then Clinton. Democrats do not, with the exception of what passes for a “far left” in that party, talk in terms that are hostile to basic main street/Chamber of Commerce conservatism. The fundamental program of the Clinton-era Democratic party (I’d argue that’s the current era given this year’s nominee) is to triangulate enough to peel off what we refer to as “independent” voters and eke out wins.
That doesn’t all mean the “no material difference” people in the fever swamps are right. They’re wrong. It’s just that the difference between the two parties isn’t “liberal” or “progressive” vs. “conservative,” because the Republican Party isn’t a conservative institution. It is a nihilist institution that will burn any tradition or norm to the ground in order to eradicate any law that impedes the accumulation of wealth at the expense of all other concerns. In the taxonomy I put out above, that’d be the “we could probably just privatize police and military and be safe on our compounds” wing of the nihilist faction. When the Republican Party was still a conservative institution, it resisted that outlook: It saw some institutions as good things that guaranteed, if nothing else, the reinforcement of certain ideological constants.
Because that nihilist faction has to coalition with social conservatives, there are also some differences in terms of social agenda, and the Democratic Party is a more reliable ally in that regard. That’s why I’m not arguing that we need to destroy the Democratic Party, or sit out elections, or whatever left-nihilist formulations we could recount here.
I think instead I’m arguing that our politics have shifted and evolved to a point where there are people committed to what we widely understand as “civilization,” and people who are trying to destroy any of its trappings either because they have decided it is a failed project, or because it is keeping them from making as much money as they could without large parts of it.
I don’t know what language I would propose instead of “conservative” vs. “liberal,” but I do think the puck is pretty close to being where it is headed and we’re using language from a bygone era to categorize people and their beliefs in a way that is causing us to miss a huge political realignment.
See also this one, which is along the same lines of thinking:
Not a historian, but I imagine every time a society or system has undergone radical, shocking change, there have surely been people who were sitting around thinking that the radicals clamoring for change had no chance because they simply weren’t being realistic. I’m sure the radicals who ultimately upended those societies were glad they didn’t stop to listen to the “realists” as they set about defining the new reality, grateful they understood the truths of the old one well enough to destroy it.
One thing I forgot in my media pruning post: I set my RSS client to “mark as read on scroll.” If I don’t stop and read something or save it to Pocket, it’s marked as read as soon as I go past it.