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weeknotes: The Postal Service and revisiting your art; climate workshop with Vienna Teng

The Postal Service and revisiting your art

I booked last-minute tickets to go see The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie for the 20th anniversary of the Postal Service album Give Up. The Postal Service has only done tours every 10 years and I didn’t want to wait around till the 30th anniversary tour!

It was really sweet - they mentioned that Give Up was a teeny side project and they were hoping that it’d get as many as 5000 listeners. Now, 20 years after its release, it sold out Madison Square Garden 2 nights in a row.

Give Up made its way to me in high school years after it had come out. I’d listen on the long rides home from quiz bowl tournaments at faraway high schools. I know the first 2/3 of the album much better because I’d inevitably fall asleep by the last few songs. I like thinking about high school Carrie, how happy she’d be to know that I still share interests with her, and also how impressed she’d be that my life accomodates things like last minute concerts in fancy venues.

I was watching the artists’ expression to see what it felt like to perform stuff they wrote as ~25 year olds, now that they’re ~45. I think it’s quite possible to be proud and impressed by a song you wrote a long time ago - that you can notice the tenderness or brilliance of a particular melody or turn of phrase. Or perhaps I think that just because I’ve never written a song - I know from my own writing that my older stuff always makes me wince.

Vienna Teng’s climate workshop

I love singer/songwriter Vienna Teng, in part because she’s so fluidly changed between different professional identities. She now works in climate and was leading a climate workshop (helping attendees prioritize what actions they wanted to commit to).

One big thing she emphasized was “figure out how to not be one person”. So yes, do all the things on your own (fly less, change your diet, reduce reuse recycle etc), but make sure you’re talking about it in a non-annoying way and making it easy for any interested people to do the same things. Cause ripple effects however you can.

This made me reflect: when I was living in San Francisco, my friends were fairly politically engaged and we were constantly going canvassing or organizing voter education parties or whatever. That’s faded out of my life in New York without me really noticing until now. Granted, the landscape of national politics has changed a bunch, and the pandemic, but it’s startling to realize my priorities have shifted without me explicitly shifting them.

Learning and growth at work, with Joy

I had a really thought provoking conversation with my coworker and friend Joy. I want to do a podcast episode with her, but a few highlights:

-   one, that it’s a totally legitimate goal to just have a good-enough relationship with your job. “But what about ambition and growth and learning?” Well, if conditions keep changing at your work (new projects, team reorgs etc), you’ll probably learn and grow a lot just trying to maintain a stance towards work that you feel happy with.

-   two, that many people need pep talks at work, and that this is a legitimate need, and you’re less likely to get pep talks as you get more senior, so figure out who gives you convincing pep talks and how often you need them, and make sure to get them!

what is this?

I’ll call these weeknotes: I often have a hundred words or so to say about a topic but it feels like not enough for a whole blog post (yes, I know that space is free on the internet, but still). I’m experimenting with just dumping these into a weekly sack and posting them.