Life is all about transitions.
So you’ll notice that people who are good at transitions are pretty good at life.
You see this in soccer a lot. Where a team transitions from defense to offense fluently and spectacularly, hits the other team on the break before they even have time to react, still out of position, out of shape, stunned and stupefied and blitzkriegs them with a brilliant counterattack.
(I just took a break from writing this post because the coffee was ready so had to pour myself a cup. Usually I just have it black, sometimes with a little whole milk, but today I was feeling extra frisky. Why not some sugar? Hmmm? I love carbs. So I go and plop in a healthy scoop of sugar.)
(It was salt. [I clearly don’t do this very often.] Also, I did find the sugar later and there were tiny shrimp in it. [See top photo.] This is the crazy house that I grew up in.)
Anyway, most transitions are not elegantly poetic, though. Most transitions are pretty messy.
America is going through a pretty messy transition right now. Hell, the whole world is.
Well, China is chillin’. But that’s also why China should be super worried, right? China’s been around. China knows how these things go. (Why do you think Xi just moved the goalposts?)
It’s never easy man.
It’s the hardest in winter.
I’m so bad at transitioning in winter.
We are a thrifty family so the A/C is never turned up in summer and the heat is never on very high in winter.
I’m OK with sweating a little bit.
But man, in the winter, I just can’t get out of bed.
Take extra long showers.
Don’t wanna leave the car.
Don’t wanna go for a run.
Just wanna cuddle.
Well, to be specific, this is a very New York problem.
Because the solution for a lot of people is to move to California.
I tried that once.
My friends know not to bring it up because I love ranting about San Francisco. I hate San Francisco so much.
People are like, man that guy is such a hater.
And they’re right. That’s totally true. I am a fucking hater.
A fucking hater of SF.
So look, I am hardly the super fan of Tim Ferriss that my sister Nina and my friends Vahe and Eunice are. I mean, I read the 4-Hour Work Week a long time ago and it was good. It was OK. It was like 200-300 pages of me thinking FML. He has other books, too, like the 4-Hour Body. And I didn’t read that one but I bet it would be like 200-300 pages of me thinking FMB.
Clearly, it’s hard to be a super fan of Tim Ferriss when you’re as insecure as I am.
But Tim Ferriss has grown on me.
Because Tim Ferriss gets me.
At least on the topic of San Francisco.
Tim writes (H/T Eunice):
Indeed, I have relocated to Austin TX. After 17 years or so, I decided to leave Silicon Valley.
This answer could be a mini-novel, but suffice to say, here are a few reasons:
1) I wanted to move to Austin after college but didn’t get the job at Trilogy Software. Since 2007, I’ve visited Austin every year and felt the pull to move there each time. It a wonderful exploding scene of art, music, film, tech, food, and more. The people are also — in general — much friendlier.
2) After effectively “retiring” from angel investing 2 years ago, I have no professional need to be SF or the Bay Area.
3) Silicon Valley is often a culture of cortisol, of rushing, and of fear of missing out (FOMO). There is also a mono-conversation of tech that is near impossible to avoid (much like entertainment is some parts of LA), where every dinner has some discussion of rounds of funding, investing, and who is doing what with Uber, Amazon, or someone else. This can be dodged, but it takes very real and consistent effort. I don’t want to spend 20-30% of my daily mental calories on avoiding the mono-conversation.
4) Even though Silicon Valley has the highest concentration of brilliant people I’ve found anywhere in the world, it also has the highest concentration of people who think they’re brilliant. The former are often awesome, keenly self-aware, and even self-deprecating (let’s call that 15% of the population), but the latter are often smug, self-satisfied, arrogant, and intolerable (let’s call that 60% of the population). That ratio just no longer works for me. It’s too much. This asshole inflation usually corresponds to bubbles (I’ve seen it before), when fair-weather entrepreneurs and investors flood the scene.
5) Silicon Valley also has an insidious infection that is spreading — a peculiar form of McCarthyism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism) masquerading as liberal open-mindedness. I’m as socially liberal as you get, and I find it nauseating how many topics or dissenting opinions are simply out-of-bounds in Silicon Valley. These days, people with real jobs (unlike me) are risking their careers to even challenge collective delusions in SF. Isn’t this supposed to be where people change the world by challenging the consensus reality? By seeing the hidden realities behind the facades? That’s the whole reason I traveled west and started over in the Bay Area. Now, more and more, I feel like it’s a Russian nesting doll of facades — Washington DC with fewer neck ties, where people openly lie to one another out of fear of losing their jobs or being publicly crucified. It’s weird, unsettling, and, frankly, really dangerous. There’s way too much power here for politeness to be sustainable. If no one feels they can say “Hey, I know it makes everyone uncomfortable, but I think there’s a leak in the fuel rods in this nuclear submarine…” we’re headed for big trouble.
6) Golden Gate and tech are terrorist targets, and I don’t like being close to the bullseye. This is based on good information from friends who work full-time in threat assessment.
7) I really like the sun and SF is foggy.
9) Austin is far more dog-friendly than SF.
10) Sometimes you need to think about the “where” of happiness and change your scenery to prompt new chapters in your life.
In the end, I absolutely LOVE the Bay Area, but it’s become a perverted Bizarro world version of what attracted me there in 2000. Many of my best friends in the world are there, and it pained me to leave, but I had to relocate for my own sanity, growth, and happiness.
Oh, and one more time: Texas BBQ.
Hope that helps clarify a bit!
And look, no offense to all of y’all who live in SF. Y’all are lovely, lovely people.
And I feel super bad for you.
Also, well said Tim. You’re spot on. (And only 2-3 years late!)
Mathilde writes: “Also, I read The Remains of the Day a few years ago and found it boring. What did I not get? Everybody seems to agree it’s wonderful. I did really enjoy When We Were Orphans, though.”
In America, we’d call that OVERRATED.
Kinda like SF.
(lol I’m such a hater. <3NY)
Top image: shrimp in my brown sugar.