"I told him we were going to have coffee and asked him if it was a good idea."
"What did he say?"
"He said yes it was a good idea, absolutely, but that you might write a tumblr about it."
I blushed, but in the bright sunshine there on the bay’s edge, it was impossible to see any change in the color of my cheeks.
"No no! He didn’t mean anything bad by it."
"Still, I’m mortified. Truly."
There is something mischievous about him. I noticed it the moment he bounced off the median toward me, as I waited in front of the Ferry Plaza. If there had been a light post — not the fascist one he described sitting to the right of, but an actual light post — he’d have swung off it, Singing In The Rain-style. The bounce was charming and unexpected, and if I’d been at all nervous he’d have disarmed me then and there.
If anyone was a little nervous, my money was on him. Not terribly nervous, but I could see a touch of it around the edge of our initial conversation. It dissipated quickly. The coffee helped, but sitting and talking about love helped more.
We sat in the sun, the Bay Bridge stretching out before us. His face lit up when he talked about her. His eyes were blue with touch of green in them, hidden behind glasses, but when he spoke about her they widened a little, became bluer and greener. We talked a long time about how it had come about, the situation. About feelings and reality and what could and couldn’t happen. I listened and asked. We talked on. He never once looked at his watch.
At first he seemed to want to talk more than to listen, but as the conversation continued we went back and forth. We talked a little about me and what I was going to do, about decisions I had to make. About plans I had. About interactions I ought to see a little differently. He was right. We drank a bottle of rosé from Washington state. Midway through the bottle I saw things about me I’d never understood, looking as I did through his blue eyes. Then I laughed as he paused, eyeing me up and down enjoying the way I ate a sweet potato french fry dipped in sauce.
He was shorter and more handsome than you might have imagined, with broader and stronger hands. He smelled wonderful.
There’s something so boringly obvious about Kara Swisher’s behind-the-scenes look at how Facebook came to own Instagram. To fans of Silicon Valley drama (amongst whom Swisher seems to count herself), it’s a breathless tale of luck, determination, and picking the decisive moment to pivot. From a more critical vantage, it’s the story of a rich white son of privilege selling his company to another rich white son of privilege.
Maddeningly1, Swisher insists on writing it straight as a rags to riches story, glossing over the life of complete safety and entitlement of Instagram’s most prominent co-founder, Kevin Systrom. Prep school, four years at Stanford, startup internships, requisite time at Google — this is a well worn path in the valley (or a parallel one to Wall St.) and there’s nary a hint of what made Systrom different or interesting. If you read the story hoping to glean some lesson for selling your own zero-revenue company for a cool billion, keep looking, unless that lesson is to pick your parents well.
Perhaps there’s some cause to celebrate the waspy young turks who forsake well-groomed, upper crust New England lives in finance or medicine or law to strike out to the already tamed frontier of the valley. After all, Systrom and Zuckerberg and Bill Gates all reached further than their fellow prep-school grads to amass unimaginable wealth from silicon and social. Look no further than a Winkelvoss or (Randi) Zuckerberg to see how it could have turned out. Ultimately, though, these amount to little more than brave tales of how the 1% become the 0.1%.
The background stories of today’s robber barons amassing users and mining likes are no different than any other generation’s: wealthy scions risking little and being rewarded for their cynicism and ability to network.
Maddening, if not exactly surprising, considering the whole thing is in Vanity Fair. The day Swisher’s story was published, the second most popular story on the site was one about a hedge fund manager alongside a slideshow of beautiful people on horses. ↩
The ocean is great, right? It’s big and wavy and wonderful and smells delightfully briny. Let’s all go jump in it on New Year’s Day.
What? On January 1, at 12 noon, let’s all go jump in the Pacific Ocean.
Where and when We can meet up at 11:45 on the beach, at the Judah intersection….
I can’t recommend this enough. I did it last year and it was one of the best things I did all year. If I weren’t going to be a big hippie and do a yoga workshop on New Year’s Day, I’d be there in a heartbeat.
Man, maybe I’ll do it anyway. There’s always time for yoga…
A few years ago, when Tumblr was going through some of its earlier growing pains (as opposed to just its regular pains), I was a very dedicated Flickr user, relying on it both as a way to share my photography and as a home to a beloved community. There was a period when Tumblr users were taking…
As you may or may not know, due to the incredible generosity of you wonderful people, we’ve raised over $2300. Even after Pledgie takes the standard 3%, we’ll still have a remarkable amount of money. I am astonished.
Lisa, Bailey, and I have been emailing back and forth, coordinating. Michaela, who is an absolutely amazing person, went above and beyond: She drove to Seattle to get the cats. We’ll be covering her expenses (and buying her a drink).
In one email, Lisa let me know she spoke with Jeff’s aunt. As you may know, his few family members live on the other side of the country. The aunt said his mom is, quite obviously, devastated at the loss of her son. She is also dealing with many other difficult situations at this time. We immediately decided, rather than donate the extra funds or give them only to the cats, to help his mom in the only way we can and alleviate one tiny burden, which is a financial one. Lisa explained about the money we raised and offered to help pay for Jeff’s cremation.
I hope this is okay with all of you. This is your money you have freely given, but I want to be very open about where it goes. I am fairly certain we can pay for it in its entirety. Even if we do this, there will still be plenty (plenty!) of money left to take care of the cats’ transport (again, major, major thanks to Michaela) as well as any vet bills, etc.
When Lisa told Bailey and me, we knew immediately the right thing to do, and we hope very much you will agree. If you do not, please let me know, and if any of you change your mind, I am happy to work with you to give your money back or to make sure it is earmarked in some way.
This morning I spoke with someone who was very close to Jeff (I won’t say who unless she tells me it’s okay). I told her what we planned to do and she said she thought it wonderful and absolutely what he would have wanted: He never, ever would have wanted to burden anyone, and this makes things the tiniest bit easier.
Your money allows us to help his mother and it’s also helping his cats, which is what he asked us to do. Thank you.
Why we're shipping Jeff's cats, and what we'll do with the money
It seems inevitable, in almost any situation, that someone will take umbrage with a decision you have made. Most certainly we live in the age of “you’re doing it wrong”.
This is particularly painful when you’re doing something you think is not only right but right in a bigger sense. Right because it’s morally right. Good. The right thing to do. But as I am eternally fond of saying, “No good deed goes unpunished”.
Someone found their way to my original post via twitter and, in a series of comments, let me know this decision to ship Jeff’s cats, Bert & Buddy, was dumb. Worse than that, our asking for help in this endeavor was shady. There are shelters in Seattle, people who adopt cats in Seattle. The person who’s adopting Bert & Buddy, if she’s such a good person, giving them such a good home, then she should be able to pay for them all alone. The guy who owned the cats, the guy who died, if he loved them as much as we say he did, he should have taken care of them before he killed himself. His family, what about his family, they should be taking care of everything. Right? RIGHT????
So here I am, spending my lunch hour, writing this so I can explain a few things.
Jeff loved his cats. That’s something we know.
When I read Jeff’s note on tumblr, I felt sick and helpless, in that chest-searing way that feels like someone has carved out every bit of insideness, as if they were making a smooth canoe in the small cavern of my ribcage, the wood tight and too hot to touch. Totally helpless. Could I have done something? Could anyone? Could I do something now? Anything? Nothing? I didn’t know. The last line, the aloneness, was the worst, the most painful, the most white-hot.
A few hours later Bailey and I texted, and we thought about his cats. We thought about them because he mentioned them, and because we love cats. Lisa had tweeted about trying to find a home for them, and Bailey mentioned adopting them if she could ship them down here. Without a second thought, I told her I would help her get the money.
I don’t think I should have to explain this but I will because this is how we do things now:
These cats are a part of a friend, who we lost.
If we scatter them, put them in a shelter where we hope they will be adopted, give money to the shelter to support them: We could do that. Who knows what would happen. We could work to find them homes. They might stay together, they might be adopted separately. We’d probably never know. Then we move on, and that’s that.
But here was a friend, a part of this internet community, this funny thing we have that is sometimes wonderful and sometimes horrible and sometimes neither of those things but just is, who was offering to take both cats. And here I thought: We should all pay for this. Not just one person. We should all pay to take care of these creatures Jeff loved because that is the least we can do, goddammit. I was hoping we’d raise enough to ship the cats. If there was a little extra for food and litter, then that would be great.
But then a crazy thing happened. You guys happened. By the time I started writing this post, we’d raised over $2100.
I think what happened is our collective sense of helplessness poured out. Maybe. I don’t know. We didn’t know what to do so we tried to rescue these cats and support them and put them somewhere they’d still be in the circle of people we knew, where we’d feel like, “You know, maybe that would make Jeff happy.” And we are all paying to support those cats. Not just one person. All of us. Because in a way we’re all coming together to try and honor this person in the way that we hope would mean the most to him.
Because I do not like to be called shady, and because I really didn’t expect to get more than a few hundred dollars, I want you to know what we plan to do with the money. Our plan with the funds is as follows:
ship the cats from Seattle to their new home in San Francisco
pay for any necessary vet bills, vaccinations, etc.
factor costs for food, litter, flea medicine, etc. (possibly months, possibly a year, maybe more, because cats require love and care for a long time)
If there are excess funds, we are going to figure out a way to donate the money to something that makes sense. Possibly an animal shelter in Seattle, possibly a mental health organization. Open to suggestions.
Truly, neither I nor Bailey (and this was not her idea to ask, it was mine) had any idea you would all be so generous. We thank you for being amazing. In my mind, I think we want to help Jeff’s cats have a happy life in a good place because we couldn’t help Jeff have a happier life, as sad and uncomfortable as that is to think, and this is the best we can do and a way we can honor him right now.
For those of you who do not agree with bringing the cats to San Francisco, who think we should have left the cats in a shelter, who think whatever it is you think: Please familiarize yourself a little more with Jeff’s story and please, please have a little bit of respect for friends who are trying to do a good deed for a dead friend.
Bailey, the best, has offered to adopt them if we can ship B&B down here. It will cost at least $200 per cat to ship, which of course doesn’t count the costs Bailey takes on as cat mom.
Internet, I’m asking you: If we shipped B&B, Jeff’s cats, to San Francisco, would you help pay? Please? I really don’t like asking for money, because I feel like someone’s always asking for money, but that guy loved his cats and for god’s sakes people, the least we can do is keep them together and give them a good home with a good cat mom.
Please let me know. If yes, say yes and also maybe tell me how much in my ask box if you want to be private I’ll set up the thing I’m supposed to set up or you can PayPal me or whatever. Something. Ok?