“Upsketch”: the veneered life of performance

Replied to Sarah Taber ( (Mastodon) It’s wild bc they put a lot of effort into making the apartment *look* upscale- granite countertops, very up-to-date style of flooring, etc.

But the actual construction was crazy cheap- flooring was a thin laminate & the floor itself was wavy, closet doors couldn’t close, plus the tub was the cherry on the sundae.

I hereby dub this construction style “upsketch”

This approach — it doesn’t matter if it’s shackled together with zip ties as long as it looks good — is symptomatic of so many aspects of our society, not just construction. We’re constantly selling our lives too, on social media and in person.

Looking good trumps feeling good. Performing for the camera on family holidays and excursions shows off what a perfect family you have, never mind whether you’re actually happy. Performing toxic masculinity means you don’t have to admit to the weaknesses of insecurity and uncertainty.

And we even pretend to ourselves as a survival mechanism for capitalism. Buying a cute zippy car makes the soul-sucking commute in bumper to bumper traffic feel not so bad. Looking like the best mom or coolest weekend jet-setter on Instagram masks self-doubt and dissatisfaction. We invest ourselves in the symbolic status we can achieve through performance, because we can’t fix the underlying problems.


Status indicators and the nature of work

Replied to The Presence Prison by Jason Fried (

what does “available” and “away” really mean? Official definitions don’t matter, because here’s what they actually mean: “Available to be bothered” and “I’m running away and hiding because I can’t get any fucking work done around here.”

I really hate the status indicator. It’s a dumb system that guesses what I’m doing based on if my mouse is moving enough or my calendar says I’m booked. It’s a tool that doesn’t work for the style of work I do: largely unscheduled days I spend making things and making things happen, communicating primarily via email, and doing knowledge work that needs long blocks of uninterrupted time.

I especially hate away. I think of the description in Bird by Bird of what counts as writing – when she’s bouncing on her sitting ball looking out the window, it looks like she’s doing nothing. Only when she’s typing does it appear to be work. Yet the real writing happens as she’s sitting, thinking, looking out the window; the typing wouldn’t happen without the thinking part. (Scalzi too.) We only interpret the loggable, measurable action as work, when much of what we do and make would probably be improved by stepping back to think more before doing.

But the status indicator is dumb. It wants busy. Only production is fruitful.

And it’s true, process is important, and showing up is needed for forward progress… but the system isn’t smart enough to know when we’re doing something outside of the computer. Thinking, sketching, brainstorming, proofing, planning, making lists, taking calls… all things I do off the computer. Real work, made invisible by the dumb status light.

Lifestyle Reflection

Home Decor and Adulthood

Liked #50: Beautiful dining chairs by Haley Nahman (Maybe Baby)

I’ve possibly lost my mind a little, but not in a bad way. I’m actually feeling very lucky.

[A]nother question might be, what value is there in feeling like an adult?

I feel this essay. This was def me last spring / summer.

it’s easier to obsess over decor than almost anything else in the world. I am busy, distracted, occupied, dreaming. When I am reading reviews about knife magnets I am not reading the news. When I am looking for an extendable shoe rack I am not looking for a reason to go on. This is probably the point of capitalism.

This makes me think of the idea of choosing something to worry about, a little – it gives structure even as it’s not helpful and often distracts from the real problem.

Lifestyle Society

Trophies of Domesticity

Liked How KitchenAid and Le Creuset Took Over Millennial Kitchens by Amanda Mull (The Atlantic)

For many young Americans, stability and sophistication look like a KitchenAid mixer.

My excitement at trying a new hobby was somewhat tempered by the vague indignity of admitting that I, too, am part of a group to which luxurious lifestyle products can be predictably sold.

I’m in this and I don’t like it.

“Now it’s ‘I want to try and make donuts this weekend, because I’ve never made donuts at home,’” Collier says. “That might be the only thing they cook for a month, but that’s pretty ambitious.”

Marketers love to talk about how Millennials want “experiences, not things,” which belies the fact that experiences usually require tools.

Cooking as hobby more than obligation.

The traditional markers of adult achievement have yet to click into place for many people in their 20s and 30s, which has required them to reimagine what stability in America might now look like…It’s no mistake that these status symbols—both the cookware and the food itself—are tremendously photogenic…Instagram is where young Americans go to perform domesticity.

Interesting to think about, I feel like that connects with my long-time interest in home decor blogs. While being reluctant to act traditionally I was nevertheless drawn to the idea of making my own home.