Bragging vs. complaining

next: pride

How does this work? Each newsletter you’ll see one reader’s answer to the previous week’s question. Then you’ll see the question they have for the list, which you can respond to if you’d like. Or you can just read and enjoy.

Previous ask:

Would you rather be surrounded by people who brag all the time, or people who complain all the time?

Matt answers:

Brag!

Back when I was 14 in 2001, I was enrolled for a second summer trip to bike with other teens, this year we'd spend 3 weeks biking around Vermont. (This is a first world problem story, so bear with me.) A few weeks before starting, I got a letter in the mail from the couple who ran the program, the camp directors (paraphrasing):

"We know you're excited for your second bike trip, we would be too. But please, don't spend that much time with your new acquaintances this summer talking about and comparing this trip to your last bike trip. Things are always different the second time around, and it's not necessarily endearing to be the person who's always comparing experiences to a previous one."

Basically, it was a letter from an old couple to a teenage boy, saying, "Don't be that guy."

At the time I was more confused than impressed, though I think it affected me that summer more than I planned.

But more notably, this letter is one of those touchstone pieces of advice that replays in my head - when a coworker compares his current job unfavorably to his last job, when a friend compares a restaurant to the one they went to with a different friend - I'd much rather they be bragging than complaining.

If only they'd gotten that letter from Mr. and Mrs. Lefkowitz.

Matt asks:

What's something that made you proud as a child?

If you’d like to answer this question, you can simply hit reply to this email and write it in. Be sure to also include a question that you’d like to submit next. And tell us a story — your answer will be the bulk of the next newsletter. We will only use your first name, but if you wish to answer anonymously, let us know.

Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing.

Unexpected gift

Next: brag vs complain

How does this work? Each newsletter you’ll see one reader’s answer to the previous week’s question. Then you’ll see the question they have for the list, which you can respond to if you’d like. Or you can just read and enjoy.

Previous ask:

What is a gift you weren't expecting to receive, but really appreciated once you got it? 

Lucia answers:

Earlier this year, I helped a new colleague get set up at our company, something that another person did for me when I arrived. It was very easy and simple, answering questions about how to navigate our systems and some basic advice about how to get up to speed — all stuff that I think is probably much tougher when we’re working remotely. I was expecting a “hey, thanks so much” in return — which I did get.

But a week later, in the mail, a small package arrived containing a few packets of seeds. The note read “why send flowers when I can help you grow some of your own.” I’ve never had a green thumb, never even considered it, but I followed the instructions and planted the flowers and, guess what, now they are sprouting. I don’t want to get too cheesy, but after a year of feeling like we were slogging through, day-by-day, to actually grow something and watch it flourish feels like a minor miracle. Now I just have to not kill the plants, I’m not sure I could take that.

[ed note: Somewhat related, but I recently received a gift of a little kit that lets you grow a caterpillar and watch it turn into a butterfly. This was ostensibly for my daughter, but I found myself totally enraptured and staring at it for hours on end.]

Lucia asks:

Would you rather be surrounded by people who brag all the time, or people who complain all the time?

If you’d like to answer this question, you can simply hit reply to this email and write it in. Be sure to also include a question that you’d like to submit next. And tell us a story — your answer will be the bulk of the next newsletter. We will only use your first name, but if you wish to answer anonymously, let us know.


Bits and Pieces

From time to time, I’ll throw some updates, links, and other notes at the bottom of the newsletter.

  • It’s been a bit since an update, and in that time I’ve had two big series I worked on come out and wrap up. If you haven’t, I’d love for you to listen to Death at the Wing and The Line. They are both very different, but I’m proud of each of them and found them both very satisfying.

  • We are in the middle of the spring fundraiser for Radiotopia. Thanks to everyone who listens to This Day and chips in however you can. Means a ton.

  • Incidentally, I got together with my co-host Nicole Hemmer last weekend. This was only the second time we’d ever met in person. The first was last February when I floated the idea of starting a podcast together. I’ve never met our other co-host Kellie Carter Jackson. Wild. Hoping that will change this summer. And here’s hoping you’re reconnecting as well.

  • Here is Jonathan Mahler’s masterpiece on where New York City stands today and where it could go if we take advantage of the moment

  • I’ve been trying to dial back my use of the big monopolistic companies like Amazon, Spotify, etc etc… Amazon, at least for purchasing things, has been pretty easy to ditch. And switching from Audible to Libro.fm was a breeze. Spotify I have fewer problems with, and it is certainly tougher to disentangle from, but I’m trying to do as much of my listening (and more importantly, actual buying of music) on Bandcamp. One useful (obvious) trick has been putting the Bandcamp app on the homepage of my phone and ipad. Anyway, find me over there and say hi, and please recommend music to buy!

Find Me: Twitter | Instagram | @thisdaypod (T) | @thisdaypod (I)

A quarantine friend

Next: Unexpected gifts

How does this work? Each newsletter you’ll see one reader’s answer to the previous week’s question. Then you’ll see the question they have for the list, which you can respond to if you’d like. Or you can just read and enjoy. [Spring 2021 pledge: this is going to come out far more regularly!]

Previous ask:

Tell me about a friend you’ve made during quarantine.

Connor answers:

I work at a grocery store so I haven't really been quarantined, but I have become fast friends with one of my coworkers during the pandemic.  I haven't been able to see any friends my age in months, but I look forward to seeing him every week.  He's eighty-something and I'm in my late twenties.  He's a Vietnam War veteran and I live with my parents.  I'm at least a head taller than him.  We make quite a pair.  

At the beginning, we would talk about how empty the shelves were and compare how many times customers asked us where the hand sanitizer and toilet paper were.  He went from greeting everyone in the department with a handshake to an elbow bump.  We got used to wearing masks for 8 hours a day.  For a while, I tried working nights and slept during the day.  When I switched back, he was still there plugging away.  He's the hardest worker in the department.  Most of the time, he would be in aisle 10 and I would be in 11. We worked through managers leaving and new coworkers joining, and struggled through a busy holiday season. We got pretty good at making bales of crushed cardboard boxes. 

Sometimes we chat about some of the old music the store plays on the radio, like Fleetwood Mac and Rod Stewart.  He showed me a picture of him and his wife disco dancing that he keeps in his wallet, and I really got a kick out of it.  Mostly though, we just whine about how much work we have to do or how much we're looking forward to our days off.  When I tell him I've got a day off coming up, he'll say something like, "oh good, you deserve it" and that always makes me smile. 

Thankfully, neither of us have gotten the virus over the past year.  He got his first shot of the vaccine a couple weeks ago and I'm hoping to get mine soon. 

Connor asks:

What is a gift you weren't expecting to receive, but really appreciated once you got it? 

If you’d like to answer this question, you can simply hit reply to this email and write it in. Be sure to also include a question that you’d like to submit next. And tell us a story — your answer will be the bulk of the next newsletter. We will only use your first name, but if you wish to answer anonymously, let us know.

Find Me: Twitter | Instagram | @thisdaypod (T) | @thisdaypod (I)

The last photo you took.

Next: New friends.

How does this work? Each newsletter you’ll see one reader’s answer to the previous week’s question. Then you’ll see the question they have for the list, which you can respond to if you’d like. Or you can just read and enjoy. [Spring 2021 pledge: this is going to come out far more regularly!]

Previous ask:

What was the last photo you took (not counting selfies)?

Zach answers:

I took this photo of the Williamsburg bridge pillars from the east river park (on the manhattan side) this morning.

My most consistent activity during quarantine has been early morning walks on the east river. I started as a safe way to get out of the house; then, mid-August, I fell off my bike and broke my collar bone and replaced my longer bike rides and runs with long walks: 8 miles on weekday mornings and 16-20 miles on weekends. (I’d go down the east river, loop around battery park, then walk to a nice grassy area a bit past Chelsea Piers, then walk back.)

I’m always struck by how beautiful this spot beneath the Williamsburg bridge is. I see lots of folks stop here and look out at the water.

On one walk I wrote a short haiku:

“between the williamsburg bridge pillars / water flows / the other way.”

[ed note: We got a bunch of great responses to this, with some lovely stories. Usually we just feature one answer, but I’ll post a few of the photos here, as well]]

Zach asks:

Tell me about a friend you’ve made during quarantine.

If you’d like to answer this question, you can simply hit reply to this email and write it in. Be sure to also include a question that you’d like to submit next. And tell us a story — your answer will be the bulk of the next newsletter. We will only use your first name, but if you wish to answer anonymously, let us know.


Bits and Pieces

From time to time, I’ll throw some updates, links, and other notes at the bottom of the newsletter.

  • I recently shared my “Gaslight Daniel Tiger” parenting technique on twitter, and was then asked to come on the “Good Kids” podcast and tell a story. It was very fun. I also really love the format of that podcast — one voice, some smart scoring and sound design. I wish more shows would try this.

  • One year into the pandemic, we are all of course thinking about how our world and our lives have changed. It will be a long time before we understand what this phase has done to us. Lately, I’ve also been thinking about what I like to call “innocuous life phases.” So many phases in life are defined by big things — family, death, work, health, the larger world. But I also have noticed that there are these seemingly random and innocuous phases in life as well. For about two years, I drank water almost exclusively out of a Camelbak backpack-straw-type-deal. Why? I have no idea. Why did I stop? I have no idea. The Camelbak still sits next to my bed, as it always did. But one day that phase just ended. As we get older I think we accumulate a lot more of these innocuous phases, and I’ve come to love them as a marker of time. Not all of life is defined by the epic. Not everything has to change you to your core to still help shape you.

  • Some recent additions to the Perfect Songs playlist.

    • “After Laughter (Comes Tears")” by Wendy Rene

    • “Baby, You’re My Kind” by Blossom Dearie

    • “Excitable Boy” by Warren Zevon

    Find Me: Twitter | Instagram | @thisdaypod (T) | @thisdaypod (I)

A forgiveness.

Next: A photo.

How does this work? Each newsletter you’ll see one reader’s answer to the previous week’s question. Then you’ll see the question they have for the list, which you can respond to if you’d like. Or you can just read and enjoy.

Previous ask:

What was the most difficult forgiveness you granted someone?

Marc answers:

The hardest forgiveness I had to grant to someone was to Kevin Smith for making Jersey Girl.  After making Clerk, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma and Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back in a seven-year span, Smith waited three years to put out his next film Jersey Girl. This film was so bad and disappointing that it was the movie equivalent of walking in on your partner with someone else, except no question I would have forgiven any of my girlfriends quicker than I did Smith for his betrayal. What made it even worse was that this started a downward spiral in which afterwards he put out Clerks 2, Zach & Miri Make A Porno and Cop Out.

At this point it had been over 6 years since he had put out Jersey Girl and not only had my hatred for that film hit peak levels, but I no longer even cared what Smith was doing. Or so I thought. A year later one of the greatest comeback's in film history happened. It was called Red State. Smith had created perhaps his best film ever and brought me back as fan. Though it wasn't until Comic Book Men two years later that I was fully able to forgive him for Jersey Girl.

Marc asks:

What was the last photo you took (not counting selfies)?

If you’d like to answer this question, you can simply hit reply to this email and write it in. Be sure to also include a question that you’d like to submit next. And tell us a story — your answer will be the bulk of the next newsletter. We will only use your first name, but if you wish to answer anonymously, let us know.


Bits and Pieces

From time to time, I’ll throw some updates, links, and other notes at the bottom of the newsletter.

  • Many years ago, I helped my friend Webster on a project to visit 50 state capitols in 50 days. It was a very ambitious and tiring project. Also quite moving. Each day, we’d arrive at a state capitol building (Wyoming and Colorado are two of my favorites) and walk up the stairs, sit down, and play music. (Webster played the guitar beautifully, I fumbled around on a xylophone) We rarely got any attention, and almost never any bad attention. It made me believe in the power of civic space, something I’ve tried to retain as I’ve also gotten more cynical and realistic about our politics. Which is all to say, among the many heartbreaking things this week, it’s especially heartbreaking to see so many capitol buildings locked down and under threat. I hope we can freely amble up the stairs again sometime soon.

  • “What is an extra rule your family added to a popular board or card game?” A total rabbit-hole of a thread. I can’t believe I spent twenty minutes reading an argument about whether Monopoly is better with a twenty-sided die.

  • I’ve recommended Leah Sottile’s “Bundyville: The Remnant” podcast to everyone I know. Particularly since the events of January 6th. Here’s Leah with some thoughts: “All Bets Are Off.”

  • This week, we added a third host to my Radiotopia podcast “This Day In Esoteric Political History.” Kellie Carter Jackson is amazing, super fun to talk so, and very very smart. Read more about her and find the show on our website. Here we go.

Find Me: Twitter | Instagram | @thisdaypod (T) | @thisdaypod (I)

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