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100 Tiny Newsletters✨☄️🎉
In celebration of our almost-100th edition, some thoughts on turning on the lights and telling the truth. (Plus, as a THANK YOU, a sweet, summery Paid discount for Free subscribers 🔥!)
Next week, I’ll be publishing the 100th edition of A Tiny Apt. As you can imagine, there is something really symbolic about this milestone. Not just the number itself, but the road it’s taken me on, tending to this
kooky little garden of a newsletter—one I began thinking about when I turned 40 (more than a decade ago) and started writing about in February of last year.
We all go through blue periods, and for some reason, approaching 100 newsletters didn’t fill me with the glee nor the proverbial high-fives I was yearning for. Instead, it filled me with a nagging self-consciousness and the stirring of a very persuasive inner critic who was, at times, verging on hostile. A voice I could hear, saying something along the lines of, “Seriously? A newsletter…after a decade-and-a-half of building a global media company?...just…a newsletter??”
It’s terrible. I know. But the truth is, there is nothing more terrifying, even paralyzing, than being at the beginning of something. Something that is entirely dependent on YOU to make it good and smart and interesting and unique and, honestly, something smart and interesting people like you might actually find GREAT and useful in your life. It’s why we all grew up haunted by nightmares about our teeth falling out or showing up to school without any pants on (for me, it was my shoes that were always missing). To feel in your heart there is a great sense of obligation to create something worthwhile, something that makes people sincerely give a shit, and to wonder if in fact you are living up to it can be its own kind of torment.
But…when you’re at the beginning of something, and, let’s be honest, the END of something else—be it a massive career, a marriage, a deep, deep friendship, ANYTHING that once really mattered or felt like a compass—all you can do is breathe, show up, and do your best to make sense of it. And that has basically been my North Star: making a newsletter that you and I both look forward to, that makes us feel moved to look around our homes or tiny offices or quirky hallways in a different way, one that allows us to see obstacles in our lives/careers/DREAMS with a sense of hope rather than dread. A newsletter that, in its own funny (tiny) way, captures that same fleeting, often elusive, spark of creation. You know, when you’re at the very beginning of something you’re not really sure has a name, a destiny, or even a purpose, but you know it’s there.
Just waiting for you to turn the lights on…
So, that was me back in February of 2022, still sort of in the dark, but nevertheless, flipping the switch of A Tiny Apt. with a simple animated gif of my logo + a caption on Instagram.
I will tell you, at that time, there were two things I could count on in my life: my home (which includes my family and closest friends) and writing. That was it. And that became the seed of this newsletter. Tending to that seed, mending what was broken, and beginning a new life with, among other things, mismatched tile, a lot of closet cleaning, tiny kitchens, good sofas, thrifted treasures…and basically, conjuring a home and workspace that reflected me now…the me that emerged when the other one vanished.
I’ve been writing in journals my whole life. Keeping a notebook, collecting fabric scraps, love-notes, magazine clippings, Old Céline receipts, and mostly, things people said. Like the time I was at a PR meeting and the woman I was with mentioned something about a man she knew who “wore a turquoise ring like he really meant it.” Or when one of my co-founders insisted I had to announce my pregnancy to the company because “it was making people uncomfortable” that I hadn’t already (I was almost six months pregnant and still afraid I might not make it to the finish line). Or when a then-boyfriend came over to my studio apartment for the first time and, looking around, in a delighted state of awe, declared my home should be called “the dollhouse.”
Many of the things I’ve written down have become essays and stories here (and oooh, there are MORE). And many of the things I always wanted to write/talk about ended up here, too. 100 newsletters isn’t quite 10,000 hours, but it’s getting there. And it was my partner Kevin who reminded me of something that hadn’t occurred to me: “You’ve written more in the last 18 months than you’ve written in the last decade.” He was right. Perspective really can be a kind of medicine, especially when you’re grieving. And growing a new part of yourself.
It’s strange, but I think I’ve been writing under the banner of A Tiny Apt. my whole life…I just didn’t have a name for that weird yet enchanting space I felt most comfortable dwelling in. If you’re a reader of A Tiny Apt., and hopefully a friend or fan, you know that ATA isn’t just about missing square footage, organizing, and imaginative design. It’s also about the truly human moments that tend to unfold when we’re navigating tough spots—in our tiny bedrooms and lives—with tenderness, creativity…and some grit. As ironic as it may sound, my own small spaces—the ones I’ve occupied for as long as I’ve been alive—forced me to imagine a life much bigger than the one I was currently inhabiting. And they always energized me to be resourceful…
Wings need food, you know🦋.
Of course, the real muse of this newsletter is my own tiny apartment—all 750-square feet of her. And what I’ve learned over the years, that this home has taught me, is that every time I open up my space and life to other people, it opens up something new for me, too. I am grateful to each one of you for subscribing and holding me to this promise. I’m thankful for every comment, every Paid subscription (that helps me make this damn thing!), every Founding Member, every share, every repost... EVERY new name I see pop up in my Substack database—I love each of you, and if you ever see me on the street I will tell you!
Here’s the last thing I want to share (and it’s GOOD so stay with me:): A long time ago (2013, upon googling!), I read an interview in T Magazine between Sofia Coppola and Lee Radziwill. This was before SC was on social media and I don’t believe LR ever was. They were talking in Q+A form about privacy and discretion. And I remember so clearly Sofia saying something to Lee about how she’d read recently of a celebrity sharing something about a health issue in an interview. And she was like, “Why not keep that private?”
That really stuck in my brain. And I remembered it again, three years later, when I made the choice to share my own “private” health issue, wondering if I was embarrassing myself or blowing my cover as a “together” person. Choosing to publish that essay all those years ago definitely changed something in me and other people, too. Because after years of feeling isolated in that experience, I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. And it still reminds me how sometimes telling the truth and sharing the things we’re afraid to or unsure we should, can open up a door…a door for anyone to move through.
So, here’s to YOU, my other muses. To Landon, Jen, and Evelyn who have helped me over these 18 months to see (tiny) things more clearly. And to another 100 editions of tiny, bewitching stories to share and celebrate together. I feel grateful today…and each of you are a humongous part of that. xxChristene
Photographs by Jen Steele
And, just because, a few of my absolute FAVORITES from the last 100…xxCb❤️
⭐️ Why IKEA has become so bloody collectible—plus, the 16+ things I ALWAYS grab when I’m there (other than veggie balls and Swedish apple cake).
⭐️ The true (New York) story of finding a mystical frog statue on the UWS and then hauling it home on the 2 train. P.S.: She loves her new home!
⭐️ Cutting off 10 inches of hair and the 10 years of BEAUTY + RUIN that went with it.