Sunday, January 30, 2011

Things learned from binging on Self magazine

I just moved into a new apartment.  During the move process, I had to purge all of the old magazines I'd collected over the past few years.  I hung onto all of the Self magazines that I hadn't gotten around to reading.  I decided to read 6 in one sitting.  This is what I learned:

Self wants you to give up something, anything - month after month countless articles of suggestions and helpful tips on how to quit a behavior that has become part of your life.  They weren't tackling the hard hitting behaviors like crystal meth or shoplifting (I'm talking to you, Winona Ryder).  No, there was a lengthy piece about the dangers of every once and awhile going into Starbucks.  Apparently instead of getting sucked into the power of that seductive mermaid logo, you should breathe, think about your kids and walk away.  And then you will never again spend the afternoon self-flagellating because you spent $5 on a latte.

Models give shitty advice - Heidi Klum gave the advice that looking too thin makes you look bad as you get old.  I'm sorry, Heidi Klum, is this advice?  From a super model? When I look in the mirror and feel like a tub of chunky monkey I think the last person I want encouraging me that it's ok not to be stick thin is Heidi Klum.

Every issue will attempt to solve the "boredom in the bedroom" problem.  Why does a health and fitness magazine have article after article about sex?  Well, because it's apparently the only reason to be healthy and thin - to give you the adrenaline and confidence boost to fuck a loved one until the wee hours of the night.  And if you aren't having fun on the 19th hour of the fuckathon, you need serious serious help.  Self is there to pat you on the back and offer helpful tips like how you should smear boiled carrots on your boyfriend's chest.  It's organic and cruelty free!

Healthy girls worship at the alter of Jillian Michaels.  I live in a place where straight up loving a woman is embraced.  If you live in the middle of North Dakota, you can channel your lesbian energy into the pages and pages dedicated to the Self proclaimed goddess Jillian.  You can tell everyone you love her because she teaches you to be "healthy."  But I am not fooled.  I realize that Self is just your porn.

Living outside of SoCal sucks.  There are whole issues dedicated to fixing your cracked, bleeding winter skin, how to not get frost bite on your nipples while running outside, how to do yoga poses with snow men and ultimately how to make love to your frozen boyfriend (burns calories, people!).

Limit yourself to one glass of wine.  A week.   No, Self.  No!

Friday, January 28, 2011

5 things that I shouldn't like (but I do anyways)

  • The Counting Crows - Let's all put on an album and contemplate suicide.
    • Sure, every one of their songs sound exactly the same.  And Adam Duritz is probably a complete tool.  (Why would a grown man willingly look like Side Show Bob?)  But once I hear the "sha la la la" intro to Mr Jones intro I'm transfixed.  
  • Chipotle - Giving millions of Americans food babies every day. 
    • Chipotle is the oasis in the desert for the hungover.  Once you prop yourself off of your hardwood floor and take a good look at yourself in the mirror ... head to a Chipotle and stuff yourself with that sweet sweet barbacoa.  Feel better champ?  Sure, they'll charge you $12.99 for guacamole.  And yes, there will be 20 skater punks ahead of you in line.  And yes, they're owned by the giant suckhole that is McDonald's but just this once, for this one hangover, hold the diet and get yourself a burrito.
  • Tim Tebow - Literally the poster child for the pro-life movement.  
    • Where do I start with poor Tim?  For one, Tim was home-schooled.  I imagine the results of this upbringing render Tebow's social skills akin to the wild boys in The Lord of the Flies.  Also, Tebow appeared in a pro-life advertisement during the super bowl.  Tebow is "saving himself for marriage" as I'm sure we all imagine that Heisman trophy winners are capable of.  But one look at Tim Tebow's delicious biceps and all is forgiven.  Hell, I'd even go to church if it meant Tim and I could be together.  Forever. 
  • Old School - let's give up hope that men ever grow up!
    • I pride myself on being an intellectual career woman.  But damn, give me a 5 minute gag about a petting zoo, a dart gun and a children's birthday party and I will gladly give up an evening of watching Masterpiece Theater. 
  • The smell of gasoline - yep, you heard me.
    • No one would ever argue the merits of craving the scent of industrial fuel.  I have nothing to say for myself.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The liability organ

I wanted to love him in a way that no one would notice.  Notice the heart muscle that pulsated a little too rapidly, the speech that was nervous.  I wanted to shove that all down to the basement of my psyche.  To the overpriced storage closet that doesn't get opened. 

I wanted to choke the words that were begging to leap from my tongue.  Like a gold fish on a suicidal jump out of its glass bowl.   There was no rational reason to release a heart that had been methodically covered with protective gauze, stopping the generous bleed of an old wound. 

I wanted to love him in a way that protective layers would stay in tact.  I wouldn’t have to unbundle years worth of winter preparation.  To de-layer means you aren’t protected from the next inevitable emotional tide.  It's easier to maintain an amber alert on all feelings.  Early detection is best.  Find the feeling.  Identify it.  Kill it. 

But there are some people who eschew the obvious route to your heart.  With each chuckle.  Each reveal of intimate secrets.  They take their time unbandaging you.  Until one afternoon, I realized that was a slight shift in the platelets beneath me.  The earth had moved long enough to allow a crack of light to shine through the floor. 

He came into my life, sweet like jelly beans.  Candy coated dimples.  The ticking train schedule of my life placed on hold.  Lullaby thoughts of him in my sleep.    He was a world of bear hugs and saccharine grins.  My heart's temperature rising.  Desiring to capture his lightning bug in my jar before summer was over.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I don’t like being helped.  I pride myself on being self-sufficient, a one stop shop for all material and emotional needs.  I want to be so good at this that I don’t need you for anything.  You are the cherry on top of my life cake.  But if you dropped out of my life, I’d survive.  I’ve always felt the only person you can rely on is yourself.  People, at any given moment, are liable to let you down. I, however, am a guarantee. 

This philosophy is annoying to anyone who has been in my life when I’ve been sick. Weakened, with immune systems on strike, I become even more convicted to do everything alone.  A few years ago, I was awoken with a sudden feeling that I was going to die.  I walked a mile (not in the snow but it was damn cold) to the emergency room at 4am.  Everyone who loves me cringed when I told them this.  Why didn’t you call me?  They asked.  I could have come to pick you up.  What if something serious happened to you?  The answer, of course, is that I would have figured it out myself. 

That fateful ER trip led to the diagnosis that an organ needed to be removed.  I argued with the surgeon, asking if there was anything I could do without his help.  He offered that changing my diet could produce nominal results.  I set off on changing everything I ate for two years, trying to ward off the inevitable.  I’d have painful, debilitating attacks every now and again.  People at work would inquire.  Concerned for the situation, seeing that it was getting worse.  Wondering if I would ever bite the bullet and get help.  I don’t remember the final attack in great detail, other than at some time in the witching hour I finally concluded that this was insane.  We shouldn’t go through life fearing everything you eat, stubbornly refusing medical advice.  I scheduled the surgery.

My parents wondered about the surgery – how long I’d be out, how long the procedure took, who was my doctor.  I answered all of their questions except for their last one – who will take care of you.  In my mind, I had already solved the problem.  I’d take a cab back and forth from my apartment to the hospital.  I’d take a week off work and rest.  To parents, half way across the country, this was a suggestion that did not sit well.  What if something goes wrong?  What if you’re too drugged to hail a cab?  Who will be there to help you eat? 

Despite my objections, they flew out for the procedure and my recovery (each taking half of a week long shift).  It seemed silly for two people to spend $500 each on a plane ticket to watch me sleep for 18 hours a day. 

I woke up from the surgery in unimaginable pain.  (I later asked the surgeon about it and he said “well if I would have told you how bad it would be you never would have gone for it” … touché surgeon, touché.)  There were strangers poking at my limbs, I had an unnerving need to go to the bathroom and no control over any part of my body.  Nurses kept telling me to relax.  It was foreign and clinical – like a butcher surveying a cut of meat. 

The only thing that distracted me from the pain (before the morphine kicked in) was the sight of my dad.  He watched medical professionals from a respectful distance, keeping an eye on my pain.  Letting me let go of the situational control and power I had become accustom to.  He wheeled me into the recovery room.  Patiently listening to my incoherent speech as drugs kicked in and my sanity was released.  He knew it was time to take me home and let me sleep. Checking in at precise intervals.  As my dad took the plane home my mom arrived.  She took the second shift with zeal.  She drove my car, while I was sedated in the passenger seat, on scenic routes past palm trees and peekabo ocean views.  She listened to me plead that I was well enough to go back to work and ignored it.  How often does a mom get to hit pause on her life and come out to California?  Delay work.  Delay stress.  Enjoy the ride.  She saw it not only as an opportunity to mend my wounds but my spirit as well.  I was grateful in those few days for last minute plane tickets and parents who knew better than to listen.. 

There was an organ in my body that stopped working.  I tried to fix it and failed.  It took an ER doctor, nurses, a surgeon, and loved ones to heal me. Inside and out.    

Monday, January 24, 2011

You'll never know unless you go

I had my first break up in a long time.  It was the classic "it's not you, it's me."  I just said goodbye to my trusty beach apartment and to a community I'd happily called home for 3 years.  My place was like a steady boyfriend.  We had grown out of the honeymoon phase long ago.  It had been years since I walked into the front door and felt giddy that this place was actually mine.  It had slowly but surely become a part of who I am.  I knew all of the quirks.  Which electrical outlets controlled which lights.  Which marks on the walls had been strategically covered up with art and design.  I knew that the oven knobs were misleading gauges of temperatures in the stove.  It was a place of memories.  Of dramatic kitchen failures.  Of spilled wine and vomit.  Where seductive dresses of dates past hung in the closet.  A place that knew my tears and my joy.  It saw friendships bloom and relationships fail.  But it was mine.  My little space in the city of LA.  

At some point in the course of our courtship, I started to get that uncomfortable tick in my brain that whispered it was time to go.  My apartment and I were on an unending spin cycle.  Churning along with no conclusion.   

Financially, there is never a rational reason to move.  Moving is a sinking hole of credit card receipts and pieces of furniture that you will never use again.  I knew this.  But I couldn't shake the feeling that I wasn't meant to be sleeping in that bedroom anymore.  Like my boyfriend in college, we had grown apart.  It was time to part ways.  

I went through the exhilaratingly miserable process of searching for a new place.  The process is tough, mainly because you instantly compare everything to what you already have.  I suppose this is what makes dating tough.  There is no objectivity - only comparison.  Sizing up value and fit.  There were a few times I got to the point where I thought I'd give up on the whole venture and live in my current apartment forever.  My landlord hadn't raised rent in years and I had amazing neighbors. Part of me wanted the search to fail.  I wanted to put up with the old beau even if he was holding me back.

And then on an uncommonly rainy Sunday I found a match.  It takes about .5 seconds to realize when you've found the right place.  Something inside you knows that it feels like home.  I imagine/hope this is what it's like when you meet a person who is supposed to have a significant impact on your life.  You don't need hours of careful study, you just know.  You know you will love and care for your new place.  You know there will be highs and lows.  But you take the risk, the giant leap and sign.  Signing on the promise of a better tomorrow and saying goodbye to today.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Carlo & The Gunman

Carlo has never met a bong he didn't like and he used to go by the name Charlie.That's exactly what you'd say if someone were to put a gun to your head and ask you to describe him in one compound sentence.  If the gunman pressed for more one more detail you'd say he's one of those boys whose passion for celluloid film seduced him away from his european homeland to LA.

More, the gunman would say.  He's fascinated by Carlo.

Carlo has sustained 3 successful relationships with striking Moroccan girls.  Proof that he is not only charming in America, but he's charming everywhere.  His talents are many.  He takes 5 hits from a bong named Bella and creates a meal that forces you to question your ability to cook. 

Be careful what you tell Carlo, you'd warn the gunman.  You may chose to share an anecdote about the mental instability of Pasadena with him.  But Carlo choses to take it.  He pitches the anecdote to a man who controls movies.  Carlo wears a scarf and orders a cappucino at this working lunch.  He casually mentions the many ways in which Americans have ruined the art of espresso.  Carlo sells the man on the idea that being Italian makes him a better director.  This sell is easy because of the global insistence of Italian superiority.  We love Italy so much that we cram Little Italy's into every city where real estate space is precious.  We love Leonardo DiCaprio because his name means more than Brad Pitt's.  Carlo(who used to be known as Charlie) indulges the voracious thirst of the Italian envy machine.   Each revolution ensures that one more gelato shop will open up somewhere in Toledo.  He will be whatever you romanticize. You will be whatever he needs you to be.  

If you've ever met him as Charlie you will note the striking similarities.  In fact they're basically the same person except that Charlie will be seen with you in public.  Charlie was a guy you knew in college.  Carlo's name is listed on IMDB.  You are not sure if it was Carlo or Charlie who cried at the documentary about the dolphins.  It all depends on if there is a self serving reason to weep over porpoise.  You know that one day you will die 5 seconds too early because you wasted precious mental energy on this thought.  In the crowded real estate of your brain, Carlo/Charlie takes up too much space.  He's the virus of charm and good chianti.  

You wonder about the chicken and egg syndrome of Carlo/Charlie.  Did we force the idea of Carlo upon him or did he thrust the idea of Carlo upon us? The idea that one day Carlo may become a global celebrity is frightening.  The impending uprising of Italian hipsters in West Hollywood must mean doom for all.  Say goodbye to your plastic yellow American cheese.  They will torch every last frozen lasagna, insisting that Italian food is very light.  You turn your back for one second and fresh basil has appeared in your instant coffee. 

Beware boys named Carlo, you'd warn the gunman.  And the gunman would let you walk away.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The 8 non negotiable duties of (girl) friends

1) Provide booze and distraction immediately after a break up.  Any time you get “the phone call” from a dear pal you have one duty and one duty alone – show up at their place with a bottle of grain alcohol and let them lead you on an evening journey of tears and irrational behavior.  I don’t care if you’re taking your bar exam the next day, the first and only obligation you have is to your friend.  Why?  Because in this crises scenario you are the only thing keeping this woman from taking a knitting needle to the eye of her former beloved. 

2) Present your friend in the best possible light in front of their suitors.  You know the scenario – they’ve been chatting up Mr. Wonderful Coworker for a month and you’ve heard every excruciating detail.  Then you meet Mr. Wonderful out at a party.  Your sole purpose for existing is to be a one person PR rep for your friend.  Never mind if your friend has never done anything of notoriety.  Make shit up if you have to. 

3) Throw down the douche card (as gracefully as possible).  We have all found ourselves in a scenario where we are giving someone our undivided love and attention that absolutely doesn’t deserve it.  We are also very clever at lying to ourselves about the many ways in which this is OK.  I have found myself pleading with a close friend about all the reasons why I should continue an emotional affair with a married man.  She (luckily) pulled the douche card on me.  She wanted more out of life for me and didn’t stop until I recognized it myself. 

4) Take a vow of silence on all nights when you turn into a drunken wildebeest.  The hilarious stories of your drunken antics are free to be passed around like a joint at a Dylan concert.  But good friends know where humor stops and tragedy begins.  For example, it’s ok to remind a friend that she went on stage, grabbed a mic from the band and announced she was going to take her clothes off in the parking lot and everyone was invited.  Refrain from telling your friend that literally no one followed her outside to see her naked.

5) Help her prepare for her meeting of the ex with the vigor of a wedding planner.  Once you know that your dearest will be seeing HIM in a month you must go into full coordination mode.  There will be outfits that need to be selected, questionable choices about tanning products and several lengthy discussions about what he will say.  If the evil gods of relationships force her to see him at a plus one event, you will hunt down the hottest available man you can find.  She will show up with enviable arm candy, a dress she can’t afford and a hair do that is so taut she will not be able to cry.

6) Remind them (as many times as needed) that they’re a special snow flake.  Since you’ve already done your friendventory, you know this is a kick ass friend.  You see all they have to offer but they see a portly monster staring back at them in the mirror.  When it comes to friends, you must be the endless fountain of positive reinforcement.  (Unless they are crushing on a total douche, then you can boldly go back to Step 3).

7) Thou shalt not judge when she enters the next stage of her life.  Of course, your first instinct is that she will be leaving you behind to wallow in the misery of singlehood. But try to remember that first dates may lead to marriage, knocking boots can lead to pregnancy, and dream jobs can move friends around the world.  You love her, you’re there for her.  Repeat your mantra. 

8) Be the kick ass person that people want to be friends with.  People don’t tend to want to hang out with bitter, miserable women who fight about petty shit.      

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

30 things I did before I turned 30

1.  Went to a gay bar.  Felt humbled by the awesome calves of drag queens.
2. Defied my parent's expectations.   Spent a year obsessing over my dream college.  Got in.  Told them I was transferring after less than year.
3. Was undeniably uncool.  Wallowed in the misery that no one liked me. Spent Friday nights at used record stores pretending the voices on the other end of the album were my friends.

4. Became insanely popular.  Joined the right sorority.  Shared a mattress with the right guy.  Wielded the awesome power of the wealthy, young and beautiful.  Became the asshole I hated when I was a loser.
5. Got the fuck out of this country.  Drank absinthe. Declared I was never coming back to the US.
6. Pumped my own goddamn gas
7. Conducted a friendventory.  Not everyone is a special snow flake.
8. Figured out how to feed my friends something they wouldn't choke on.  With pre chopped vegetables and premade everything at Trader Joe's you're out of excuses, asshole.
9. Had a spectacularly explosive break up - one that dragged on for two years where both parties were so miserable that homicide seemed like the only way out.
10. Changed my appearance radically.
11. Got so drunk I cried in public.  I let my emotional Mt St Helen erupt.
12. Quieted my inner demons by drinking a bud light in a lazy river.

13. Realized that my parents were once young, cool and care free.
14. Pregnancy scare.  Bonus points since my gynecologist was a family friend.
15. Gave up on the dream that I was going to be a professional athlete
16. Spent an entire wedding analyzing the reasons why I'm single.  Ended up alone next to a bag of sour patch kids.
17. Lived alone.  Played the game of "what's rotting in the fridge" on a weekly basis.
18. Figured out how to get off of a chair lift on a snowboard without taking out a pregnant woman and toddlers.
19. Spiced up a failing relationship with a trip to a strip club.
20. Took care of someone's bloodthirsty cats.
21. Made a celebrity uncomfortable.  (Thereby disobeying the only rule of Los Angeles).
22. Spent too much on an ill advised purchase.  Wrote off everyone who judged me for doing so.
23. Missed my flight.  Three times.  Due to the World Cup, Irish car bombs, and sex.
24. Shared a house with someone I've never met before.  Was shocked when they turned out to be trust-fund-baby swingers.  Learned to love them anyway.
25. Became a master black belt of parallel parking.

26. Got fired from a job in a blaze of glory.
27. Joined a political campaign that failed.
28. Declared my undying love for someone who would eventually break my heart.
29. Figured out a way to accept me for who I really am.
30. Made a list of 30 things I did before I turned 30.

Brainy is the new sexy

There is a psychological study (The Pratfall Effect) that I’ve never been able to get out of my mind.  The study concludes that people are drawn to individuals who are (a) attractive (b) are competent and (c) have visible flaws.  Basically if you saw a hot girl at coffee shop you’d be attracted to her.  If that same girl dropped a cup of coffee in front of you you’d be even MORE attracted to her.  You will find her minor faux pas endearing.  She will seem more accessible.  You will become more comfortable.  On some level women get this intuitively.  This is why I’ve met hundreds of Jessica Simpson wannabes who like to display their foibles on purpose.  They pout with puppy dog eyes that they can’t figure out how to use a remote control. They’re trying to get you to love them, flaws and all.  And most men fall hook, line and sinker.  Who doesn’t want to be a hero to a fragile creature?  (Especially if they’re blonde and busty).  There is something undeniably adorable to men about this. Granted, I’ll say “certain men” because I know a few for whom it would annoy the shit out of them.  These are the guys who put a premium on intelligence.

But back to our Jessica Simpsons … I believe that there is something kind of sad about a grown woman who can maintain a professional career but can’t figure out how to use a remote.  If you’re not technically savvy, fine. Some remotes are over engineered. But if you have the means to figure it out and you pretend you don’t … well that’s just sad.  My mom had a good friend who called her husband to come meet her at a gas station because her tank was suddenly on empty.  Her husband left work and met her about 30 minutes away because she did not know how to pump her own gas.  It boggles my mind that a woman in her early 30s could drive to work every day and not have the desire to figure out a skill that is basic to adulthood. And furthermore, that she relied on her husband to swoop in like prince charming and save the day.  It’s a manufactured damsel in distress situation. 

I really hope to live in a world where women strive for self sufficiency.  Where women feel encouraged to show their competency to the opposite sex.  Where the easy route is less elusive.  Where no one downplays what they have to offer. Because trust me, we all have foibles.  We’re all going to drop the coffee.  It’s just far more endearing when it’s real and not manufactured.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What wine will fix

Transatlantic flights – Because nothing says celebration like sitting next to strangers in a small chair for 6 hours. When the captain turns off the seat belt sign, it’s time to adjust your travel pants and throw back some $5 chardonnay.  When the person next to you gives you the evil eye after your third or fourth, just keep drinking until it looks like they’re giving you a sexy wink.  Be careful about going to the bathroom – turbulence, drunkenness and narrow walk ways do not mix.

Sporting events you have no vested interest in – don’t care about the Clippers?  Neither do I.  After a bottle of wine I can and will become their biggest fan.  Sporting events provide your inner drunk with the excuse to shout suggestive and inappropriate statements to a crowd of people.  Phrases such as “TAKE IT OFF” seem to make sense to everyone in the heat of the moment.  Some sports stadiums do not serve wine.  No problem!  The solution is always wine in a can.  Smuggle wine in your lady parts and pour it into an empty diet coke can. 

Hangovers – Wake up feeling like the undead?  Point yourself in the direction of a champagne bottle.  Add a splash of OJ or two and you’re only 15 minutes away from getting drunk again. 

Getting fired – While this won’t help you get your job back it will temporarily dull the pain.  Just call everyone you know in a panic, force them to your apartment and drink until you wake up clutching your laptop with flights to Italy on your web browser. Be sure to never clue them into why you need to drink so badly as to make the experience exciting and fun. 

Karaoke– Belting out Lady Gaga to a crowd of beach tourists never felt as good as when it’s done on a belly full of Shiraz. Karaoke bars are infamous for dim lighting and ugly clientele so your purple wine teeth are guaranteed not to raise any eye brows.  Bonus points for dedicating your song to “you … you there” and pointing to anyone in the crowd you’ve never met before.  Then give them the wonky eye and blow a kiss.  You’re only a few more sips of wine away from making out with a man twice your age. 

The crushing realization that we’re all going to die – You can’t think about the end of humanity when you’re looking for a discreet place to vomit.  Any time your brain wanders to that place where the gentle river of life flows, grab some Merlot because it’s business time.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Shakespeare ruined my freshman year of college (and how black holes could have saved it)

My freshman year of college I was part of a university which required everyone to take writing seminars – mainly to make sure chump engineers had enough writing skills not to be embarrassing in adulthood.    Since I was a badass juvenile journalist I assumed this would be two slam dunks A’s on my transcript. 

Of all of the writing classes to choose from, I went straight for the jugular – “Fantastic Shakespeare!”  Notice the use of punctuation, it HAD to be fantastic.    On my first day of class an angry short German man instructed us to buy the complete works of Shakespeare.  Now, it’s not often you hear someone bragging about reading every single comedic play Shakespeare ever wrote.  That is because it’s the kind of thing that a) makes you a pretentious wind bag and b) means you have subjected yourself to reading 16 plays about men cross dressing. 

This was the gist of all 16 stories:

·  Boy dresses up as a woman and meets his dream girl. 
·  Boy’s real identity is revealed and dream girl embraces him with open arms.  (She was obviously reading a lot of Dan Savage).

Now imagine that you have to write 16 papers about those two bullet points.  It’s like being forced to watch 24 hours straight of romantic comedies.  The mindless repetition of plots eats away at your soul. 

To add insult to injury, the Angry German believed that my writing skills were akin to that of a wild animal.  He tried to tame me (like a shrew) through forcing me to read everything another girl in my class turned in.  I hated her.  I hated her writing style.  I hated the German and eventually I hated Shakespeare. 

I decided that since my Shakespeare class made me consider drinking arsenic and cross dressing viable future plans that writing in general was not for me. 

Now lest you think that all freshman writing seminars suck I give you an alternative example.  Picture a class titled “Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Pulsars and All That.”  On average a class about black holes would lead one to contemplate suicide. But no!  This class involved sitting in a drum circle talking about the stars and not having to write a goddamn thing.  Everyone got an “A”, everyone made out with someone from class, everyone left feeling like the world was full of wonder.  I know quite a few people from that writing seminar and they have all gone on to live successful productive lives.  I submit it’s because their dreams were not thwarted by fantastic fucking Shakespeare.  

* In a cruel twist of fate, I ended up working for an aerospace company after college,
surrounded by black hole nerds.

Monday, January 3, 2011

5 tips on how to have a shitty year

1) Pick the most implausible thing in the world that could happen.  Experience it and resent 

Right out of college my company sent me to Indianapolis.  I cried on the phone when they told me this.  I had taken the job with the expectation that I would be living in Boston and DC.  Even though I was born in Chicago, I'm not a fan of the midwest.  I dreamed of east coast cities the way little girls dream of their wedding dresses.  The day I moved into Indianapolis I felt like shit.  I continued to feel like shit until I moved to Boston.  I spent as many weekends as possible driving back to Chicago or visiting friends in other cities.I made minimal effort to make friends because I did not want friends who lived in Indiana.  And at the time my doctor prescribed me with Ambien to help me sleep so basically I was experiencing a chemically enhanced Indianapolis.  The neat thing about expectations is that they come true.  I was determined to have a shitty experience there and I did.  Then I found out I was moving to Boston and spent the next month researching, dreaming, anticipating that move.  When I got to Boston I fell in love with everything I saw.  Looking back at those two times in my life I realize I had shitty times in Boston and good moments in Indianapolis but the script I wrote for both determined the outcome.  

2) Start drinking and touching everything you see.  

I love stats.  I trust them.  This is probably because the most influential man in my life works as a psychological statistician.  When the number of people you have slept with in three months is 400% more than the number of people you've slept with in the previous two years there is a problem.  Tell yourself that men aren't interested in your brain or what you have to say. Tell yourself that this is normal.  Convince everyone else your behavior is normal.  Drink more to make the convincing of yourself and strangers easier.

3) Overachieve at work as a way to ignore everything else in your life

Workaholism is just as painful to your body and your mind as alcoholism.  The former is not only socially accepted but it's rewarded.  Start finding reasons to work until 8 or 9 at night.  Start getting to work earlier.  Find reasons to have to work on the weekend.  Stop engaging in conversations because there are work emails to send at dinner parties.  Conveniently tell everyone else in your life you cannot be there for them because you have to work.  Convince yourself this is normal.

4) Pick the one thing you are truly passionate about and stop doing it

I am a natural writer.  I have a point of view.  I have a writers brain.  I wrote voraciously for the first 20 years of my life and then I stopped for an entire decade.  Tell everyone it's because writing is self indulgent.  That you missed the boat on your journalism career and there's no way to recover your talent.  Tell good friends that they are crazy when they say you're a gifted writer and should get back into it.  Stop reading because it reminds you of writers.  

5) Hang onto one way relationships

Let someone have the best of you.  Keep giving it to them.  Let them off the hook when they give you nothing in return.  Let them convince you that you are crazy, that you need to change everything.  Change everything to make them happy.  Ignore how unhappy you are.  Tell yourself you want to be snow boarding in Colorado when you really want to be at a museum in New York City.  Give up your hopes and dreams for the other person.  Tell yourself their happiness will make you happy.  Ignore how miserable both of you are.