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The Importance of Not Caring

My Phetasy Newsletter went out. One of these days I SWEAR everything will all be in one place. That day is not today.

After spending a much needed four days in my church, Joshua Tree, with my best friend since first grade, I feel rejuvenated. In that brief time I was reminded how mandatory it is to unplug from the news cycle and social media; how valuable it is to have quiet time with friends and nature. The biggest revelation was that I didn’t care about anything that was going on in the world. At all. I’d get text messages about whatever was happening and I just…didn’t care. I was having too much fun catching up with my friend, hiking and cooking healthy food. This is the way it’s supposed to be.

We’ve been tricked into thinking we need to care about everything. Every birthday. Every life event. Every social movement. Social media has trained us to believe we should not only care, we should have an opinion. It doesn’t matter how far out of our lane we drift—suddenly we are experts in shipping lanes, nuclear power, Iran or epidemiology (even if we had to google what that word meant just 15 months ago) because we read a wikipedia article and watched a few YouTube videos. The truth is, most of us know a lot about a couple of things and next to nothing about everything else.

It’s never been a better time for someone like me, a moron who has a million ideas a minute and a million opinions and wants to make ironic t-shirts and podcasts and shows and greeting cards and endless content. The Algorithm, with its insatiable bottomless appetite and need for a constant stream of content, relies on short-attention spanned spastics like me. For this, I am very grateful. But all of this content creation comes at a price and that price is sometimes my sanity. After too much time online I’m agitated, restless, dissatisfied, fearful, unfocused, envious, entitled and self-righteous. This is a feature, not a bug. We are all addicted to tech and it takes a lot of self-awareness and discipline to recognize when that addiction is bringing out the worst in us.

But it can also bring out the best in us, which is one of the reasons I’ve decided to launch my Substack. Writing brings out the best in me. It helps me process the world and my emotions. I’ve been doing an awful lot of talking lately—but writing requires all the things I’ve been avoiding: patience, focus and silence.

There is something magical about Joshua Tree—and it’s not just the prehistoric landscape. It’s the silence so deafening it feels like you’re in a vacuum. It takes at least a day for my nervous system to adjust to the slow, natural pace of the desert. Cities, even in a moderate form of lockdown, are racy and anxious. The energy is scattered, angry, impatient. Joshua Tree, with its rocks that are half of the Earth’s age old and its Dr. Seuss trees that grow one-half inch to three inches per year, knows all about patience. And patience knows all about the humility of not knowing and the peace of not caring.


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Live Streamed on March 9, 2023 11:07 PM ET
Late Night Check In

I've been crazy busy and just want to check in with the Pham

February 07, 2023
Factory Settings: MONEY!

This week on #FactorySettings @justjeren and I talk about the elephant in the room. MONEY! We talk about when we first became aware of it, how it affected our parents' divorces, how much we spent on our addiction, being dependent, financial insecurity and so much more!

Walk-Ins Welcome w/Thomas de Zengotita

I continue my series with Thomas de Zengotita as we go through his book Mediated chapter by chapter. This week the topic is identity politics and we cover a lot of ground. #WalkInsWelcome

February 09, 2022
Unedited Check-In 167

Maybe we should just focus on TV show reviews.

Unedited Check-In #167
December 07, 2021
Unedited Check-In 158

Grandpa's letter home after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Unedited Check-In #158
September 01, 2021
Unedited Check-In 144

Maggie is back! Also: The "No Complaining" challenge.

Unedited Check-In 144

Hello new followers, I hope I don’t disappoint you. I want this place to feel like home, where we can escape the Thunderdome and process the world. Where we can post dog pics and recipes and book recommendations. Where we support each other as we get sober, lose weight, embark on new business opportunities, creative endeavors, relationships and travels. I want this to be your oasis of sanity and laughter in an increasingly mad world. A creative outlet where you can share your spirit with us.

We might not have any control over the news cycle—but we can control our habits and attitude. It all starts with us. And hopefully a little piece of that will start here.

Hey hey! Just catching up with you lovely people and your posts. My life has been effing CRAZY. Still smoking cannabis, unfortunately. But otherwise it's all good. So good. I hope you're all well. I'll be snarking up your comment sections more regularly again. 💜

More straw.

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March 24 - Bizarro World
What struck me as strange was the realization that my audience or fans (I’m not comfortable with that term) or you the person reading this post—know more about me than my good “friends.”

Describe a bizarre experience you had recently.

Two times this week I had the bizarre experience of getting in touch with an old friend and sending them a picture of my daughter and having them respond with, “Who is that?” To which I responded, “She is my daughter!”

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March 23 - Local Flavor
And the floats, oh the floats! There were floats? Apparently there were and you won't believe your eyes when you see the creative and colorful displays in your photos the next day.

Write a piece about a typically “local” experience from where you come from as though it’s an entry in a travel guide.

If you're looking for a grand St. Paddy's Day parade experience, look no further than Newport, Rhode Island.

Now, let me tell you, Newport knows how to celebrate like the Irish. The parade kicks off at 11 a.m. and if you want the truly local experience, you’ll already be on your way to blacking out by the time the streets are lined with green-clad revelers ready to paint the town green (with vomit.)

Image taken from the Marshall Slocum Inn website.

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March 22 - Stranded
There are rivers to sit by in Prague—or lakes in Chicago—or beaches to go visit in Barcelona.

You’re stranded in a foreign city for a day with no money and no friends. Where do you go; what do you do?

Oh I’ve been here before—this isn’t even theoretical. First of all, it depends on the city but the absolute best way to get to know any city is to start walking. So if I was in a city with no money or friends, I would just start exploring. You can easily look up a walking tour of any city online if you’re someone who needs more structure and wants to take in some architecture and history.

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