Why it's so hard to find time to see your friends

I was particularly struck this week by a pair of pieces in The Atlantic about why you never see your friends anymore, and a related piece about the scheduling woes of adult friendship. This is something I think about a lot! Many people I know often lament how hard it seems to be to get our friends together in adulthood — I have some friends in New York who it feels like I see once a year, even though we live in the same city! I regularly send my friends Google Calendar invites for dinners and drinks, and often use Doodle to plan gatherings that involve upwards of 5 people, since the alternative is sending dozens of emails to establish a date and time when all members of the group are free. And this is just for friends who are local: it’s even harder to see and keep up with long distance friends — and we have more of them these days than perhaps on parents’ generations did, since many millennials went further away for college and then scattered across the country, moving for job opportunities as they came up. (Two small thing I’m trying to do more on this front: spontaneous phone calls — because scheduling “phone dates” basically never happens — and sending more snail mail).

The Atlantic pieces tackled a couple things: the first one discusses the bigger economic factors that have led to all of us seeing our friends less: unpredictable work schedules and longer, more demanding hours that mean we’re rarely free at the same time as our friends, since our schedules are now all subject to the whims of the industries we work in. And the second piece tackles the bit I mentioned above: how scheduling time with your friends now requires Google Calendars, Doodle polls, slack, and all kinds of other tools. I really enjoyed both — and I’m guessing you’ll find something to relate to in each of them, too.

What I’m reading

Why you never see your friends anymore, The Atlantic. (And related: The scheduling woes of adult friendship)

How Emily Weiss’s Glossier went from millennial catnip to billion-dollar juggernaut, Vanity Fair.

Enough Leaning In. Let’s start telling men to Lean Out, New York Times.

Is America’s favorite playwright too much for New York?,. Slate. Lauren Gunderson is the most produced playwright in America, but she’s never had a hit in New York — her success has been in regional theater productions around the country.

The writer as influencer, Study Hall.

Basic bitches, collective delusion, and the long American history of being defensive about pumpkins, Summer Block.

Mindy Kaling didn’t sign up to be a role model, Elle.

In defense of wellness, The Riveter.

How raspberry vinaigrette changed the way we salad, Taste.

What I’m cooking

This section returns! Now that it’s getting a little colder I finally felt excited about cooking again. Last week I made Bon Appetit’s slow roasted gochujang chicken (which also features potatoes roasted under the chicken in the chicken fat, and they are AMAZING) and this new Alison Roman recipe for vinegar chicken with olives (castelvetrano olives: so much better than regular olives!). And because it’s October, you’re legally required to make something with pumpkin in it (I don’t make the rules!), so I made this pumpkin chickpea curry from Melissa Clark.


Thanks for reading! If you like this newsletter, please share it on social media or forward to a friend — they can subscribe at nishachittal.substack.com. And if you have thoughts on this week’s newsletter or suggestions to include in the future, feel free to reply to this email and let me know.

A whole bunch of good links

Happy Sunday; I’ve got lots of good reads for you from this week. I especially enjoyed this piece from Jill Filipovic about why Type A women love yoga, which I found extremely relatable and I’m guessing many of you might, too. And don’t miss the Patricia Lockwood piece in the London Review of Books — everything she writes is such a pleasure to read (Priestdaddy was incredible!) and this piece is no exception.

What I’m reading

Why Type A women love yoga, Medium.

This is the moment Rachel Maddow has been waiting for, New York Times Magazine.

In the land of self-defeat, New York Times.

The rise of the “getting real” post on Instagram, The New Yorker.

How to succeed at work when you’re marginalized or discriminated against, New York Times. A great guide by Smarter Living editor Alan Henry.

The not-so-secret life of a Tiktok famous teen, Vox.

Does where I live have to define me? Man Repeller.

Malfunctioning Sex Robot, London Review of Books. Patricia Lockwood wrote this. Enough said.

The myth of soulmates, Medium.


Thanks for reading! If you like this newsletter, please share it on social media or forward to a friend — they can subscribe at nishachittal.substack.com. And if you have thoughts on this week’s newsletter or suggestions to include in the future, feel free to reply to this email and let me know.

Tiktok and VSCO girls and I feel old

This week I read an explainer on VSCO girls and then a long profile of Tiktok teens and honestly felt a little overwhelmed. I had resisted Tiktok for a long time, but after reading the New Yorker article I finally downloaded the app and watched several videos. (And I made two Tiktok videos of my dog, obviously; pets on Tiktok are definitely the best part of the app).

I sort of get Tiktok now — the good ones are hilarious! — but it can also be an endless timesuck if you let it. Jia points out:

I found it both freeing and disturbing to spend time on a platform that didn’t ask me to pretend that I was on the Internet for a good reason. I was not giving TikTok my attention because I wanted to keep up with the news, or because I was trying to soothe and irritate myself by looking at photos of my friends on vacation. I was giving TikTok my attention because it was serving me what would retain my attention, and it could do that because it had been designed to perform algorithmic pyrotechnics that were capable of making a half hour pass before I remembered to look away.

This is the scary thing to me about Tiktok: it has no purpose; its only purpose is to keep you scrolling as long as possible, by serving you whatever it is that will hold your attention. I can see how that makes it endlessly appealing to bored teens avoiding their homework. But for adults with lives to juggle and a need to monitor and cut down on their screen time, it’s a dangerous little black hole to get sucked into (sorry, I know, OLD).

And then there’s the VSCO girls thing, which also made me feel exceedingly old. From what I have read, it’s basically a 2019 version of the cool-girl aesthetic from when I was in high school: girls who carry Hydroflask water bottles, wear long shirts that cover their shorts, scrunchies on their wrists, shell necklaces (puka shells are back?) and excessively filter their photos on VSCO. They are not unlike the girls that were “cool” when I was in high school, which goes to show you that time is just a flat circle!

Reading both of these pieces about teen internet culture this week struck me as fascinating but also a little exhausting. There’s so much social media to keep up with already — you have to document everything on Instagram stories, maintain a professional Twitter presence — and the number of platforms for performative #content creation seems to keep multiplying while none of the platforms ever really go away. I sometimes wonder about what today’s teens, growing up with these apps ever since they were small children, will function in the world as adults, treating everything as a performance, treating every moment in life as content that can be consumed by and audience.

I’m tired just thinking about it.

What I’m reading

How TikTok holds our attention, The New Yorker.

The Cancel Culture con, The New Republic. “Cancel culture” is not a real thing, it’s just holding people accountable for their actions!! This is a great piece.

The age of bathfluence, The New Yorker. I’m not a bath person personally but it is true that I have seen 1000 bath photos from Instagram influencers. But really, must we turn *every* moment of our lives into #content?

Stories about my brother, Jezebel. Heartbreaking and extremely good.

The Forbes 30 Under 30 hustle, The Information. I made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list once but I’m not sure it actually has any benefit or meaning. It’s a good moneymaker for Forbes though! This piece pretty much nails it.

Would you like a tiny fish with that?, New York Times. Yes, I’m spreading pro-anchovy propaganda.

Big Fan, Catapult. This is a delightful short story that nails so many things about New York media!

Four years in startups, The New Yorker. This was so good that I cannot wait to read this woman’s book.


Thanks for reading! If you like this newsletter, please share it on social media or forward to a friend — they can subscribe at nishachittal.substack.com. And if you have thoughts on this week’s newsletter or suggestions to include in the future, feel free to reply to this email and let me know.

On the frenzy to do the most

This week, I loved this piece by Katie Heaney in The Cut on figuring out the difference between ambition and anxiety. Heaney describes the frenetic feeling of wanting to do ALL THE THINGS — write so many stories and books and accomplish lots of things — which could be ambition, but could also be driven by anxiety, by fear of what happens if she doesn’t accomplish all the things. Heaney writes:

All I want in life is for someone to tell me when I’ve done enough. Crucially, this is not the same thing as being told what to do, which I don’t want at all. As someone who wants to write as many books and stories as possible in my time here on Earth, and as someone who is also pretty anxious — about my mortality, my work ethic, my productivity, my creative output — it can be hard for me to tell when my work is motivated by drive, or fear. Or is it both? Is there a difference between the two?

I found it very relatable, as a person who is similarly always trying to do too much! And yet, I pretty much always have the nagging feeling that I’m behind and not doing enough. Is that ambition, or is it actually my anxiety? I’ve had an article I’ve been working on here and there for a month now and still haven’t finished but really want to write, because I never seem to be able to find the time. So then I’ve been feeling terrible about being so behind on it when I am actually trying to do it on top of my actual full-time job. Heaney described in her article how she’s written four books while holding down a full time job: it’s because she gets up every day and writes 500 words, every single day, including weekends. Which is extremely impressive, and I am going to try it out, because this article somehow improbably only made me want to do more rather than less. I don’t think that was its intended effect, but oh well! Anyways, I recommend reading it, because I know a lot of ambitious women trying to do a million things will probably relate.

What I’m reading

On 9/11, luck meant everything, The Atlantic.

How I learned to (try to) stop asking female candidates about sexism, The Cut.

On Chandler Bing’s job, The Atlantic. All of the characters on Friends had cool jobs that weren’t just jobs but their passions: a chef, a professor, a fashion executive, an actor, a musician. Except for Chandler.

What college admissions officers really want, New York Times.

I was a low-income college student. Classes weren’t the hard part, New York Times.

What’s the difference between anxiety and ambition?, The Cut.

Your parents’ financial advice is (kind of) wrong, WSJ.

How I learned to stop killing houseplants, Curbed.

The new spiritual consumerism, New York Times.

PS: Sorry for sending this newsletter during Succession! Thanks for reading.


Thanks for reading! If you like this newsletter, please share it on social media or forward to a friend — they can subscribe at nishachittal.substack.com. And if you have thoughts on this week’s newsletter or suggestions to include in the future, feel free to reply to this email and let me know.

Happy fall

Happy September! Isn’t it funny how the moment the calendar switches over to September, everyone starts getting all nostalgic about fall foliage and pumpkin spice lattes and using their ovens again and wearing sweaters and boots? And then we simultaneously mourn the end of summer as if we’re not going to have any fun again the rest of the year. I don’t really get “mourning” the end of summer as adults. As kids, sure, it made sense, because summer’s end meant the end of a three-month vacation and going back to school. But as adults, we work all year, and vacations can be taken any time of year, regardless of season. We worked in the summer! So who cares if summer is over? We may not be going to the beach, but isn’t it all the same? Fall is just as fun! What’s the difference, really, besides twenty degrees?

What I’m reading

Kara Swisher on ambition, bragging, and having a baby at 56, The Cut. I’ll have whatever Kara’s having!

How a shoe that looks like a sock became the working woman’s obsession, Vox. I own two pairs of Rothy’s and a pair of Allbirds flats so yes, I am the target audience for this story.

The battle hymn of the #boymom, Jezebel.

I gooped myself, The Atlantic. What is Goop really selling women?

How to focus on one single goddamn thing, Vox. You mean I have to put my phone down?

What’s next for Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, InStyle. I love this adorable couple so much.

The cult of Sally Rooney, Vox. Why I can’t put down Sally Rooney books, and why no one else seems to be able to either.

The gospel according to Marianne Williamson, New York Times.

A century of shrill: how bias in technology is hurting women’s voices, The New Yorker.

You know Emily Doe’s story. Now learn her name, New York Times.


Thanks for reading! If you like this newsletter, please share it on social media or forward to a friend — they can subscribe at nishachittal.substack.com. And if you have thoughts on this week’s newsletter or suggestions to include in the future, feel free to reply to this email and let me know.

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