i turned 27 last week. for a long time, i wrote about my birthdays; i took last year off 1. it seems weird to do one of these annual posts both for my birthday and for the ending of the year, but also i want to indulge a little: i would like to write again about my birthday, and to engage in some solipsism.
i spent 26 being the most professionally engaged and energized i’ve been in my entire life:
- my job, which i’ve written little about, is terrific. i love what i am working on; i love the people i work with (and, for reasons passing understanding, they tolerate me); i find it hard to leave the office for the first time in my life.
- my side projects are doing tremendously well. i wrote two years ago that if buttondown ever hit four digits MRR i would be ecstatic past the point of comprehension; both buttondown and spoonbill (the latter of which i have written very little about) are on track to end this year with >2K MRR. this is wild to me.
- i am no longer consulting, because i don’t have the time or energy. but that’s probably for the best; it feels correct to spend what i can on things that yield compounding value.
i bought a house! i can’t believe i bought a house. i spent the entire time in closing terrified and certain that i would receive a call from my lender or the seller or the government saying “just kidding, you will not be receiving a house, you are not worthy.” it is only when i was handed the keys that this feeling only slightly diminished; even now, i will wake up in the middle of the night, keenly aware that i have somehow pulled a con on the world — convinced everyone for just long enough that i am not in fact three preteens in a trenchcoat, emotionally speaking, just long enough for them to give me a house.
having a house is very nice. people counseled me that it’s another job in of itself, which is true. there are so many things to do: some foundation work; the kitchen is ghastly and needs retiling; the basement needs finishing and i now have a yard that needs, uh, yard work.
but none of that is stressful. i woke up the first morning of Being A House Owner, up in Roosevelt, in a place quieter and more vaguely urbane than the neighborhood of Capitol Hill where I had spent my past five years. it immediately felt correct in the way all of my really good big decisions have felt. when i shuffle around the eighty-year-old floors on a quiet thursday morning, waiting for the coffee to brew, i think two things that i have decided are in fact not contradictory:
- there is so much to be done
- it is perfect
i have been reading a lot, “reading” being inclusive of audiobooks. the count is somewhere in the thirties, which is not important — quantity does not matter. i’ve been bad at carving out time for reading; i’ve been relying, mostly successfully, on reading time being thrust upon me as if part of the hero’s journey — on pleasant and quiet train rides, on sunny afternoons in the park, on planes to Japan.
i have been writing very little. i think 26 is the year of Limited Creative Output. part of this has been, i think, a surplus of energy being spent on all of those lovely professional things; part of this, though, has just been muscular atrophy. i don’t have a good sense of why to write or how to write or when to write, all of which is solved by opening more empty textboxes.
i have been tweeting and social media-ing very little as well. i have some amount of regret here — i love my internet circles, and they have brought me much joy and wisdom — but i find myself retreating further and further from talking on the internet. i get stressed out by waking up to missed texts, DMs, tweets and emails; i get peace by responding in daily batches, as if going through that day’s mail. “slow discourse” — talking with people on the phone and over coffee/tea/beer/cocktails, and doing things without a sense of traffic flying overhead, feels much better and much more sustainable.
i am very happy, and i have reason to be.
there are days where i catch myself unhappy — days where what my partner and i refer to as “work brain” takes over, and i can’t quite get myself off of the hamster wheel of productivity and puritanic work ethic. the problem, i think, with engineering your life to maximize the number of to-do items accomplished is that you can trick yourself into thinking that the to-do items are the important part. i want to get better about this as i am, uh, “in my late twenties.”
mostly, though, i catch myself happy, and i do what Vonnegut tells me to do:
And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’
i could list some examples, but that seems unnecessary. here is just one: my partner an i made halal cart chicken a few weekends ago, in the aforementioned New House, and it was the best i think i had felt in three years. we ate it while watching a terrifically inconsequential show on interior design and drinking martinis; we went to bed at 10pm.
i’m going to bed earlier and earlier; i’m going to bed happier and happier.