I write by hand because that is how I began, and I love it. Moving the wrist, the marks the pencil or pen leave on the paper—like the trail of a snail—well, it is like drawing, no, it is drawing, and I am so enamoured of this activity that sometimes I write continuously without actually forming real words, I call it ‘fake handwriting,’ and it’s just as much fun as actually ‘writing’. By fun I mean it’s just as much a mystery. The whole wrist-moving action is why I write in the first place. I don’t like tennis, or knitting, I like writing with my hands.
I love reading this because I feel the same way. I take notes by hand and collect notebooks and pens not because I am working on great novels or essays. But because I like pens and paper and how they feel in and under my hand.
Our days have accumulated tasks and responsibilities that behave like invasive plants: if you neglect their maintenance, even for a day, they threaten to pull the entire enterprise asunder. The less societal privilege you have, the more true this feels. People with good credit, power and seniority within their organizations, and an emergency fund can afford to (momentarily) fall behind. Their apologies for a delayed email, a late bill, a late kid will be accepted. For everyone else, drop one ball and risk catastrophe: lost hours, lost jobs, lost credit, lost cars, lost homes.
I saw this tweet recently and it reminded me of a curiosity I’ve had for ages. Why do companies pay money to put their names on stadiums? Is it to remind us they exist? Do they hope for some goodwill between going to see basketball and buying office supplies (and now Crypto?)
The current home of the Washington Capitals and Washington Bullets/Wizards has changed names a number of times since I’ve lived here. Throughout it’s life, this building has been called:
Capital One Arena
Have I ever associated the venue with any of these companies? No. Have I ever thought about the company names when I was there? Absolutely not. When I hear other venues and their names, even when it’s a well known and obvious one (Fed Ex Field?) I never associate it with the company behind the name.
Other than changing names on signage, I wonder how many years it takes for people to start calling the venue by its new name. Jiffy Lube Live used to be called Nissan Pavilion. I called it Nissan for years after the name change and still catch myself referring to the MCI Center. Did I ever think about cars when I went to concerts? No, other than the one I used to drive there.
In my head, the name of a place is completely divorced from the company paying to name it. Other than hilariously stupid or weird names (Jiffy Lube Live!)
And I’m sorry, “Anything Dot Com” Arena/Center is a terrible name.
When I wake up, I never know what the world is going to offer up to me. I might laugh I might cry. I might feel emboldened and ready for the day, or ready to retreat to my warm, weighted blanket and hide in a nest of my own making.
This morning was a gut punch.
I ran an errand before work and when I parked in my driveway. I opened Tiktok because of how it feels. As I scrolled through a few things, I landed upon this one.
Now, I’ve seen this question posed before and I love the call-and-response style Tiktok allows for. You never know what the response is going to be. This morning, it was real and it was serious.
Julian Sarafian dropped in to lay down his experience with Harvard Law School and getting out into the world and Making It™. He had the job. The money. The prestige.
But he didn’t have his mental health. He didn’t have a life he enjoyed living. And if you don’t have that, how can you have anything else?
The knockout blow I saw coming. Ear Hustle is a phenomenal show. Ear Hustle is “The daily realities of life inside prison shared by those living it, and stories from the outside, post-incarceration.”
The show started in 2017 and came to prominance when they Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor won the Radiotopia Podquest. At the time Earlonne was still incarcerated and Nigel would go to California’s San Quentin State Prison to see him and others.
The prison has a media lab and has some progressive policies to rehabilitation. The episode I started today was about people imprisoned abroad.
Going to prison in your home country can be disorienting enough. What about when you’re new to the culture, don’t speak the language, and are thousands of miles from family and friends? Three Americans describe their experiences of incarceration in Japan, Thailand, and Iran.
Getting to the part in the show about reading the transcripts is what got me. The reach of this show and the good it’s doing in the world is immeasurable. Giving a voice and hope to people locked away in boxes for next to nothing…
The show continues to impress me. Coming from both outside and inside the prison (when COVID allows) it provides a well-rounded picture of experiences from people of all walks of life. When we found it, my wife and I listened to the entire first season on a road trip.
Family—that’s a spouse, kids, or any close personal relationships.
Scene—that’s the fun stuff that comes along with success. Parties. Fancy dinners. Important friends. This is the stuff that looks good on Instagram, that you can brag about, that falls into your lap like a wonderful surprise. Offers, invitations, perks.
I love this advice from Austin Klein, via Ryan Holiday. You can’t have it all. You burnout. You’re miserable. You’re robbing someone of time or attention or love or presence.
The two you pick can change as your life does. Your balance may shift from work to family or scene to work. As they all feed each other.
Picking two is important as remembering you can switch the two at any time. It’s not a lifelong choice.
I’ve always found family and work (as its meant here) to be the most rewarding. Sure the scene can be fun. But that’s the part I most readily give up. That’s what works for you. You follow your path and find what works for you.