Hey Presto! #1: 27
This is a version of a post I sent out via my email newsletter. If you’d like to follow along, you can sign up here.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of… whatever this is.
To be frank, I’m still figuring it out - what this newsletter can and should be. But I do know a few things:
First, that I’ve started this same email at least 3 different times in the last 2 months. Every time, I get a few paragraphs in then get stuck. Either I get distracted by a project, or work gets stressful, or I have to clean the bathroom, or I don’t like what I write, or there’s a new episode of True Detective, or, or, or…
Second, I know that I do have things to say, pictures to share, thoughts to think. I initially thought I might send out one of these each month, as a bite-sized recap, mostly to make later summary and reflection a less daunting task. (Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.)
And third, I know that something is (almost always) better than nothing. I’m bad at remembering this. In most things, I hold myself to high standards (usually exhaustingly so!). I want anything I touch / write / do to be complete, considered, intentional. I often think about the fact that I was a relatively late talker, mostly using single words until 28 months. But once I started, I spoke in complete thoughts. From my mom:
“You were slow to talk- really single words like ‘ball’ ‘Egg’ ‘truck’ etc until 28 months, almost 2 and a half and then the flood gates opened and you strung together very complex sentences with ease.”
That is all to say, there is some precedent for me delaying doing something because I wasn’t ready, or it wasn’t ‘good enough’!
But, another thing I know: waffling is exhausting. I’m ready to send this first email so I can stop feeling guilty about not having done it yet.
So, I’m committing to putting down all my thoughts right now. I’m sitting on a bench at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade on Sunday at 5PM. It is 45 degrees and sunny and I can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance due west. My stomach is full from a rotisserie chicken sandwich from Lincoln Station and day-old leftover coffee. I’m going to write until I get tired, then send this out and stop worrying about it. (Well, I can’t actually commit to stopping worrying about it, but I’ll do my best.)
Thanks for being here.
Last Monday, the 11th, was my 27th birthday. I’ve never particularly enjoyed being the center of attention, so birthdays can be a bit awkward, but this one was lovely. My sister and her husband were in town, so I got the pleasure of playing host. I was happy to discover I’ve finally lived in New York long enough to have some worthwhile suggestions, which must be some minor landmark.
For my birthday proper, we visited the newly opened Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Brooklyn museum. The exhibit was beautifully done, focusing on painting a full portrait of Frida through more than her paintings (which did include self-portraits, naturally), but also portraits of her as a young girl in Mexico, taken by her father, as well as dresses she grew up wearing, art she kept at home, and braces she painted and wore daily, supporting her spine which had been weakened by a serious car accident at the age of 18.
The rest of my birthday was filled with banh mi’s in Prospect Park, a nap, a haircut, a massage in Chinatown, then oysters and a too-expensive cocktail. A full and warm birthday, to be sure. I’m thankful.
I’m getting sore from sitting and I want to do a bit more walking before dusk, but I want to distill a bit of what I had written in previous newsletter false-starts. (Even though I haven’t send one of these updates this year, I have been fairly productive otherwise!)
Most recently, I wrote a blog post about getting started with React + Rust + Wasm, technologies I’m very excited to learn more about. The blog post got picked up by a Rust email newsletter and at this point has received over 2,000 page-views, which is certainly the most attention I’ve received for anything technical I’ve written this far.
I also wrapped up a long-running project: p4ktldr. P4ktldr is a tool that allows you to search for Pitchfork album reviews, sorted by rating. You can read more about the project here. A day after launching, I got the attention of the dev team at Pitchfork, who had a bit of fun with me by spoofing all API calls to exclusively return results from Jet, the preeminent mid-aughts Australian garage-rock band. I wrote more about that here.
As much as I do sincerely enjoy being productive and breathing life into silly ideas I have or exploring topics I’m interested in, I need to find a way to balance being productive on side projects with writing (both for my own good as well as for this newsletter), as well as extracurricular reading, fitness, etc. This is something that I need to be more intentional about, though I’m not quite sure how. As the days get longer and warmer, I’m certain that my time will be at even more of a premium, but I think as long as I don’t take myself too seriously, I’ll figure it out.
I have plenty more updates to give (Terrace House! Sober January! Facebook-less February! Pikuniku! This soup! Etc. etc.) but I think that’s going to be it for now. So far this email is just over 1200 words, which is definitely on the longer end of what I expect these emails to be going forward.
I’d like to promise that the next email will be more timely, less tedious, more concise, better. But ultimately all I can promise is that do sincerely appreciate your time and attention and do not want to take it for granted. Having you here with me is no small comfort, and I hope that this email finds you happy, healthy, and productive.
I like to imagine this email as a little bit of me interjecting (invitedly, hopefully!) into your day, on the subway, going to sleep or waking up, or maybe just in between work emails or Netflix episodes. Maybe you archive it instantly (no harm done, I am glad to be one less thing for you to do in a busy day), or maybe you read it all and follow all of the links (to be sure: there will be links!). In any case I am glad we have the opportunity to be together, asynchronously.
I love the idea that this newsletter can be a 2-way avenue for communication. If you have any thoughts about balance, communication, productivity, imperfection, or anything else, I’d love to hear them!
If nothing else, know: I enjoy the warmth of your pocket. Thank you for carrying me with you.