An experimental post. Might feel similar to patch notes but want to play with the form. Probably post through blot first for a publish loop.

I visited about a month ago and wasn’t planning on being back so soon. A few weeks prior my friend Cody and I got to scheming and came up with the shape of something to demo in-person for a discord we’re in; called DEF. It would also be NFT NYC week which means people descending from all over to attend talks, parties, and events; from the ridiculous to the banal.

It didn’t take much to convince me. What sweetened the deal was Cody’s offer to crash at a friend’s place in East Village - spitting distance from my old neighborhood Lower East Side. I’d also get to see more friends who I didn’t get to see last time, and maybe even meet some new ones. I booked the tickets and set off.

welcome to LaGuardia

Upon landing, I was met with chaos. Par for the course for this airport. I wish I recorded the scene, which can only be described as war between the drivers and officers directing traffic. I was back in the city, and it was time to get busy.

We got right into build mode. The demo was in 14 hours. There were still a few key components not finished, and we had a few bullet points laid out for our presentation. A short bout of sleep later we continued on, now counting down the hours before we were to be live.

I haven’t done a last minute demo sprint since the startup days. It’s a riveting mode of collaboration, all parties constant pruning and simplifying as the hours tick down, sometimes taking shortcuts and other times completely axing a part of the build due to time or complexity constraints. Thank you CJ and Arthur for the last minute support there.

We applied the final css changes (don’t talk to me about organizing css but I can make a mess of it) and we shut our laptops and walked north to Union Square. On the 20-minute walk up we hashed out a rough presentation, leaving most of it up to a few slides with questions to the audience.

It went splendidly. The crowd was a bunch of builders, many of whom had worked with each other and ourselves before. In other words: the perfect folks to demo to. We received buckets of genuine feedback and ideas. By this point we were exhausted, hungry, and socially drained (from an excess of positive + excited energy, luckily).

A gracious invite and an uber ride later we found ourselves at a pizza party: a venture capital firm was footing the bill for happy hour party in a pizza shop in Brooklyn. The windows were taped up with cardboard paper and a bouncer stood outside doing access management. Between the hunger and the volume of the combined yelling, we sat back and enjoyed our slices, trying to re-connect to reality and our bodies.

people, so many people

The thing that makes New York what it is can’t be found in the infrastructure or the buildings or the plaques. It’s who’s there now, and who might fly in next week. Millions of bodies squeezed onto an island, the only escape being up. The infrastructure is downstream of the people: tubes deep underground to move everyone around, door handles meant to be pulled 10,000 times a day, and garbage trucks roaming the city like sentries.

Friday afternoon, taking the L train across the water to Bedford Ave. It’s rush hour; people coming home from work and others going to party. The bodies exit the car and a herd instinct takes over as we move up the stairs and out around the corners to sunlight. Topsoil is beautiful: the sun’s energy matching the social energy. People stream by, attractive in the shimmering sun. Everyone is going somewhere. Talking or absorbed in thought. Everyone is attractive.

It’s just ridiculous to think we should be subjected to someone else’s acoustic emanations without consent [2022-06-23]

Nothing in the city gets me going like a garbage truck roaring by in the middle of the night shaking the building like a localized earthquake. But – someone coming into a shared space and designating themselves as public DJ really grinds my gears too. This applies to phones, speakers, and vehicles. I take much kinder to outdoor live music generation: busking is an art and I am here for it. But leaving a Spotify playlist running with ads interrupting it ain’t it.

usernames to faces to names

New York. I missed this magic. This serendipitous social energy. Everyone is basically down for everything. No speed limits as I like to say. [2022-06-23]

Identity and the internet have had a complex, under-researched, and wholly fascinating relationship since you could message others through it. Online identity in the crypto space even weirder: some people are known simply as the id of the nft they hold in a wallet anonymously while others introduce themselves by their real names. I’m on the real name side but appreciate why others aren’t: fears of professional repercussions, targeted theft risk, and the ever-present risk of twitter mobs raving around.

It’s always a jarring experience to have someone transform a virtual connection in my mind into an embodied one simply by saying their name or username. Occasionally I can guess by their voice or by a reasonable guess but it’ll never stop being awesome.

thank you, friends

This trip was very interesting wrt a re-orientation, a re-framing of who I am returning to this city as, of seeing myself through people who knew me a long time ago. They’ve changed since, I’ve changed. But there are hints I can glean from them about who I am and where I’m headed. [2022-06-26]

I owe a lot to the crowd I landed with in New York. There were a few folks genuinely cared about who I was. Some of these people took risks for me and some got hurt in the process. I distinctly remember Justyn warning me that this city would chew me up and spit it out if I wasn’t careful. To remember why I came here and surround myself with people I could trust.

I am ever grateful enough to that early wisdom and those who’ve stuck by me since we found each other. My favorite thing to do is dinner and a long walk along the river, reminiscing about times long past and the wondering about our futures. They made me who I am; simply by believing in me and celebrating enough of my wins to teach me to celebrate and love myself.

Every return visit has been its own chapter. Jon visits every time, but my friends see and speak with someone different every visit.

During my years in NYC, every return visit to Sacramento I felt a different person touching down on the tarmac. I’d visit family, old friends, memorable bars and restaurants, and my favorite hikes. Three or four or seven days later - I’d be on the same plane headed in the other direction now - almost always journaling about all that had happened in this short yet significant period of time. 5.1.21 | cities are chapters