The advantage of having written this newsletter for over a year and a half now is that I can mark the deja vu of things: this time last year I was writing about the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and, lo and behold, I have to fight the urge to do the same thing today, but instead will settle for again cribbing this perfect excerpt from Charles Mudede:
I think it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of jazz ever composed. Listening to it is like watching snow through a window. The room is warm, something is roasting in the oven, and outside the flakes are falling faintly through the universe and upon the trees, the hedges, the rain gutters, the telephone poles, and the rooftops of a thousand apartment buildings in a very big city. This is where you want to be forever. This is Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here.” It opens with a trembling bass, like someone coming out of the cold, stamping their feet, brushing the snow off their shoulders, hanging up their winter coat, rubbing and blowing on numb fingers, and entering the living room where there is a window for watching the flakes falling faintly upon all the buildings of the living.
Because I am a massive nerd and love artifacts, I also took a look at Buttondown’s backlog from this time last year. Here’s what it looks like:
I honestly want to do all of these things. I don’t think I....ever will? This time last year Button-down was still a pleasant little puzzle box of features that a couple dozen people used every day and now it is a groaning, weary thing with debt and performance issues and the accumulated weight of so many poorly made 6am decisions. Which is not to condemn it: it is the biggest and best thing I have ever made.
I spend a lot of time working on Buttondown feeling some sense of regret: if only I had more time, if only I had more energy, if only I could build out X and Y I would be so much closer to some abstract sense of completion.
But, in November of last year, Buttondown sent three thousand and twelve emails. This November, it sent out six hundred and seventy three thousand emails.
In business parlance, that number is a vanity metric — it doesn’t mean anything. But Buttondown is, albeit modestly profitable, not a business — it’s a thing I built because I wanted people to send more emails.
And of all the things I did this year that I’m proud of — finding my dream job, running my first 10K, beginning to write poetry again — Buttondown’s growth and success might be the biggest one.
(And yet, if I only hadn’t written it in Vue…)