#035 Or Maybe You're Just Actually Good At This

Mackenzie and I have been hiding out at shared living situation in Greenpoint where we’ve yet to meet the people we live with. Every now and then, stuff around the apartment moves but we still don’t know who is in this place with us, which gets stranger every day.

Kenz started putting random things out of place, like the hand soap in the sink or the paper towels on the couch, to see if our ghostly neighbors would move it while we weren’t there. At this point she’s fully convinced they don’t exist and I’m so exhausted at night that I can’t even come up with a formulated opinion.

Typically we come to New York for 4 or 5 days at a time and go so hard that we’re more than ready to get back to LA where we can “stop by home real quick before dinner” or “go get something out of my car real fast.”

But this time we decided to extend our stay and make sure we don’t miss the trees change color—A feeling that Kenz and I both have deep nostalgia for, coming from the Midwest.

I’m here until Thanksgiving to get a sense of what it’s like to not have the typical false reality of the city that most people get when visiting…

20,000 steps daily

6 bagels in 4 days

27 slices of pizza

constantly drunk

over caffeinated

out until 4am

It’s also given us a chance to meet new friends. At dinner last week, an online friend who apparently been following this newsletter had so many nice things to say about it while I was pretending it didn’t exist so I didn’t feel guilty about the infrequency of delivery as of late.

She mentioned that it just felt real because it wasn’t always so perfect, and that there’s an effective method of communicating that feels effortless and attractive to the other people who are working in creative practices. I was both flattered and overwhelmed, immediately looking for reasons for why I wasn’t worthy of that kind of praise.

Our conversation was cut off because the owner of the restaurant brought out a tray of whisky shots in exchange for the cigarettes we were letting him bum throughout the night. As we were raising our glasses he said “We don’t even sell liquor!”

Nobody questioned it and happily threw back the drink to end the night.

On the walk home I told Kenz that maybe she was so complimentary and kind because “She hadn’t read a lot of other writing by people who are much better than I am” or “That it was an encouragement to keep going with hopes I’ll keep getting better since I was just getting started.”

Kenz didn’t pick her head up as we were drunkenly walking toward the L, making sure she didn’t trip over her own feet. And without hesitation, she said “Or maybe you’re just actually good at this.”

— Alex


Ideas from me

I. ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER

We're so quick to sign up for one thing without realizing we're signing up for the other.

Committing to growth means we've signed up for accountability.

Becoming more intimate means we must erase our fear of vulnerability.

Being disciplined means we're okay with delayed gratification.

II. TASTE

Taste will always be the determining factor because it can't be taught.

If it can be taught to you, it can be taught to somebody else, and then they will replace you with the person that is cheaper and faster.

III. HOW TO MEASURE LOVE

The best measure of our love for a person, place or thing is if we're left wishing we had more time with it.


Quote from somebody else

Consumerism causes a kind of alienation, in the Marxist sense: When workers are separated from the products of their labor and compensated by an hourly wage, they can't find satisfaction in their jobs or the remainder of family life. Thus they turn to acquiring capital as the only form of self-fulfillment.

We work only to accumulate stuff and in turn the accumulated stuff dominates us, further distancing us from non-commodified things like relationships, joy, and community. Labor "is therefore not the satisfaction of a need, but only a means for satisfying needs external to it," Karl Marx wrote in 1844.

"The less you are the less you express your own life, the more you have," Marx argued, "the greater is your alienated life, the greater is the store of your estranged being," Stuff is therefore the enemy of happiness, and not just because it's crowing your apartment, but because it's part of this larger alienating system.

— The Longing for Less, Kyle Chayka


Links worth sharing

I’ve been collecting a lot of links the last few weeks, but they’re all good I promise!

🏠 Richard Neutra’s Architectural Vanishing Act - The New Yorker

💎 For Jess Hannah, The Answers Are in The Questions - MOUTHWASH Journal

🪑 Collection of works by MASA

🪟 WindowSwap let’s you see what the world sees through their bedroom window

💃 On The Internet, We’re Always Famous - The New Yorker

🛠 Are.na plugin for Figma

😅 An observation for all my friends who work on set.

🤔 The Atlantic wants to hire newsletter writers — and it wants their subscribers, too - Recode


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