Sunday Fun Day! Yippee!
And by that, I mean “I’ma gonna sit at home, listen to music on Pandora, and write.” We all have different definitions of fun, people. This is fun to me as an introvert, plus, writing.
However, I’ve felt a little down on myself the past few days. As y’all know, I moved to Austin, Texas at the beginning of the year. Holy big change, Batman! Good for me for making such a big step. I know some of you are all “big whoop. You moved. Want a medal?” Yes, actually, I do want a medal, and I’ll tell you why: because this was a huge deal to me, you guys. I’ve lived in Nebraska for thirty-one years. Sure, I moved to different towns in Nebraska, but that hardly counts. Anyway, I moved; go me.
Then, I had the always ass-tastic task of finding a job here, which I admit to not being overly worried about because I work in healthcare. If I may paraphrase George Bluth in Arrested Development, “there’s always a job in healthcare.” And there is because three weeks after moving here and posting my résumé on some job site thingies, I landed an interview at a place I have heard amazing things about from one of the doctors I used to work for. Insert super intimidation and excitement here. I interviewed, thought it went very well, and I guess it did because I was formally offered the position about two weeks ago to which I wholeheartedly exclaimed “motherfuck yeah!” after I hung up the phone with this organization. I’ve filled out my prerequisite paperwork, peed in a cup for a stranger, and submitted information for a background check, and was told “we’ll keep in contact about your start date.” Cool. I’m ready. I’ve been jobless for one month and two weeks and I’m starting to fa-reeeeeak out about that. This is the longest I’ve ever been unemployed in like, damn near thirteen years and holy crap. My hat and respect to those who are currently searching for jobs because sweet Molly Brown.
So, my feeling down on myself. I waited all of last week to hear from future employer about when I can don my scrubs once again and check devices. I was also told that the background check could take up to ten days to clear, which I shouldn’t be twerking out about too much because this past Friday was ten days, but still. It’s making me think I committed a felony and forgot about it. I hate it when I murder someone and don’t remember doing so. And thus begins another week of keeping my phone next to me to wait for the phone call for when I can begin this new job and here comes my down-and-out-ed-ness: I’m broke. I’m staying rent-free at Jamie’s house and mooching her food and borrowing her clothes and burning her tea kettles into charred messes* while she works two jobs. And not to mention having the boyfriend pay for me wherever we go. I’m a progressive gal, I like to contribute my fair share. The poor man isn’t my sugar daddy, for chrissakes.
*quick story about that: I was boiling water in the kettle because Jamie is a savage and doesn’t own a coffee maker. I hate the whistle the kettle makes when the water has reached boiling point, so I flip the lid up to avoid the sound. Well, I may have been distracted by the shiny internet on my phone while I was outside smoking, because the next thing I knew, the smoke detectors were blaring and Jamie’s puggle comes tearing ass out of the apartment onto the patio and I’m all “what the what?” I come inside and all the water had boiled out of the kettle and started melting the plastic handle which caused the alarms to go off. Yep. It should terrify you all that part of my job includes keeping people alive. End story.
I just feel lazy, despite the fact I know that I have no control over the present situation. I mean, I can’t predict when this joint is going to get my paperwork done and whatnot. I’m just anxious to start working again and *gasp* earn money and pay bills, which may I just add that I’m not a religious gal, but I think I have angels in my life because my mother and stepfather have been amazing in helping me keep my phone on and driving a car. My dad has been great, too, as he’s housing all the crap I couldn’t take with me to Texas at his house. Yay, parents!
So there’s that. More reasons for feeling like a poop are somewhat personal and don’t feel like getting into that at the mo’, but feeling like I can’t do anything right and/or am a giant fuck-up.
Because I’m a dork and sometimes search for quotes on my current feelings and read them in a weird attempt to make myself feel better, I googled “feeling like you can’t do anything right,” and by the magic of Al Gore’s perfectly coiffed hair, I was sent a link to the Cracked website, of all the goofy places. For those unaware, Cracked dot com is, to me, hysterical. I love the shit out of that site, and what’s not to love when they feature articles such as “5 Ways You’re Accidentally Making Everyone Hate You,” and “7 Species That Get High More Than We Do.” I’m not being facetious here, either. I truly enjoy this site very much, and sometimes, they flip the poignant coin and post articles not laden with poop jokes (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
The one I found today is entitled “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A Better Person.” (the article in its entirety, complete with photos with funny captions and more swearing because I’m going to be lazy and just pick some key points.)
Go on, Cracked, I’m listen–eh, reading.
The article, written by David Wong, whom I’m certain if given a chance, I’d ask him politely to have my babies, but I digress. It starts out asking you to think of five impressive things about yourself, and not the typical “I’m a nice person, I told my friend her baby was cute when I really didn’t mean it” sort of things. David is talking about things you’ve actually did, as in “I won a spelling bee, I volunteer with the homeless” etc. I admit I had a helluva time with that, and could only think of one impressive thing and that is that I’ve had some of my short stories published online. Other than that, I came up empty-handed. And then Mr. Wong goes on to prove his point if, like me, a person had difficulty thinking of five things. Here is David’s list.
1. The World only cares about what it can get from you.
“If you want to know why society seems to shun you, or why you seem to get no respect, it’s because society is full of people who need things. They need houses built, they need food to eat, they need entertainment, they need fulfilling sexual relationships. You arrived at the scene of that emergency, holding your pocket knife, by virtue of your birth — the moment you came into the world, you became part of a system designed purely to see to people’s needs. Either you will go about the task of seeing to those needs by learning a unique set of skills, or the world will reject you, no matter how kind, giving and polite you are. You will be poor, you will be alone, you will be left out in the cold.”
Harsh level on a scale of 1 to wicked harsh (to be read in a Bostonian accent, please): about a 3. He’s right. While politeness, manners, and kindness are all lovely and admirable traits to have, it won’t get jackshit done for you. Saying “bless you” when someone sneezes won’t pay your bills. Saying “bless you” while holding the only box of Kleenex in a 50 mile radius will open up some doors, though.
2. The Hippies were wrong.
David references the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross,” and is about a group of real estate agents who are given incentives to win a contest to see who can makes the most sales. First prize is a car! Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third, walking papers, son. We don’t need your lazy ass in this firm. Duly noted, sir. So, there’s an absolutely EPIC scene when Alec Baldwin comes in and collects a handful of asses by giving a speech about how he’s going fire them all if they don’t close their deals. “Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids. If you want to work here, close.”
“It’s brutal, rude and borderline sociopathic, and also it is an honest and accurate expression of what the world is going to expect from you. The difference is that, in the real world, people consider it so wrong to talk to you that way that they’ve decided it’s better to simply let you keep failing. You don’t have to like it. I don’t like it when it rains on my birthday. It rains anyway. Clouds form and precipitation happens. People have needs and thus assign value to the people who meet them. These are simple mechanisms of the universe and they do not respond to our wishes.”
Harsh level: 6…but damn you, David Wong, you’re correct. If you want to work here, close.
3. What you produce does not have to make money, but it does have to benefit people.
This is where Wong’s brilliance starts to shine. He uses Cracked’s main demographic as an example here, and by golly, it’s perfect. The primary readers of this site are 20-something men. David goes on to state that he receives tons of emails from his fan base asking him advice on relationships. “I don’t get why girls go for jerks. I’m a nice guy!” “Nice guy? Who gives a shit.”
“What do you bring to the table? What do you do?”
“So you’re saying I can’t get a girl unless I have a nice job and makes lots of money?”
“No, your brain jumps to that conclusion so you have an excuse to write off everyone who rejects you by thinking that they’re just being shallow and selfish. I’m asking what do you offer? Are you smart? Funny? Interesting? Talented? Ambitious? Creative? OK, now what do you do to demonstrate those attributes to the world? Don’t say that you’re a nice guy — that’s the bare minimum. Pretty girls have guys being nice to them 36 times a day. Are you going to mope about it?… It’s up to you, but don’t complain about how girls fall for jerks; they fall for those jerks because those jerks have other things they can offer. “But I’m a great listener!” Are you? Because you’re willing to sit quietly in exchange for the chance to be in the proximity of a pretty girl (and spend every second imagining how soft her skin must be)? Well guess what, there’s another guy in her life who also knows how to do that, and he can play the guitar. Saying that you’re a nice guy is like a restaurant whose only selling point is that the food doesn’t make you sick. You’re like a new movie whose title is This Movie Is in English, and its tagline is “The actors are clearly visible.”
Harsh level: 5. I just freaking love this so much, it hurts my heart a bit. From the female perspective, this is so spot on. “Girls never go for the nice guys” however, is not true. All the men I’ve dated in the last year and a half have been very nice, just that each one offered something the one before did not.
4. You hate yourself because you don’t do anything. (note: this is when I really started paying attention.)
“…it’s always “How can I get a job?” and not “How can I become the type of person employers want?” It’s “How can I get pretty girls to like me?” instead of “How can I become the type of person that pretty girls like?” See, because that second one could very well require giving up many of your favorite hobbies and paying more attention to your appearance, and God knows what else. You might even have to change your personality.”
“But why can’t I find someone who just likes me for me?” you ask. The answer is because humans need things.”
“But I’m not good at anything!” Well, I have good news — throw enough hours of repetition at it and you can get sort of good at anything. I was the world’s shittiest writer when I was an infant. I was only slightly better at 25. But while I was failing miserably at my career, I wrote in my spare time for eight straight years, an article a week, before I ever made real money off it. It took 13 years for me to get good enough to make the New York Times best-seller list. It took me probably 20,000 hours of practice to sand the edges off my sucking. And if you hate hearing this and are responding with something you heard as a kid that sounds like “It’s what’s on the inside that matters!” then I can only say…
5. What you are inside only matters because of what it makes you do.
“Inside, you have great compassion for poor people. Great. Does that result in you doing anything about it? Do you hear about some terrible tragedy in your community and say, “Oh, those poor children. Let them know that they are in my thoughts”? Because fuck you if so — find out what they need and help provide it. A hundred million people watched that Kony video, virtually all of whom kept those poor African children “in their thoughts.” What did the collective power of those good thoughts provide? Jack fucking shit. Children die every day because millions of us tell ourselves that caring is just as good as doing. It’s an internal mechanism controlled by the lazy part of your brain to keep you from actually doing work. ”
I had to combine 4 and 5 because of their tie-in with each other, so their combined harsh level is 12. Daaaaaaaamn, David Wong! I very much enjoyed his personal account of becoming a writer because I’m pretty sure I’m at the point where I don’t think my writing is good enough to ever be popular with more people than just the fifteen of you that subscribe to my blog. (thank you, I love you all, thanks for reading.) But I know other writers, writers who have like, legit books and shit, and you know what they tell me whenever I feel all “woe is me” about my writing? Ready for this? The exact same damn thing David Wong wrote. I need to, as Mr. Wong so eloquently puts it “sand the edges of my sucking,” or write. Write until you don’t want to write anymore, and then fuckin’ write some more. One of my main issues is submitting my stories. I again thank you all for reading my blog, but I want more people to do so. The only way I can do that is to put myself out there in the writing community, and the only way to do that is to send stories to places accepting submissions and to not get butthurt when one publication rejects me, because that just opens the door for somewhere else that (hopefully) will. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, and I keep forgetting that lesson, but one of these days it’ll stick in my ol’ grey matter for good.
(drum roll, please)
Listen up, babies; this one’s important and what made me want to write this damn post immediately after I read it.
6. Everything inside you will fight improvement.
Maybe y’all didn’t get that, so I’ll repeat it.
EVERYTHING INSIDE YOU WILL FIGHT IMPROVEMENT.
Here is David has to say in its entirety because all of this is crucial:
“The human mind is a miracle, and you will never see it spring more beautifully into action than when it is fighting against evidence that it needs to change. Your psyche is equipped with layer after layer of defense mechanisms designed to shoot down anything that might keep things from staying exactly where they are — ask any addict.”
“So even now, some of you reading this are feeling your brain bombard you with knee-jerk reasons to reject it. From experience, I can say that these seem to come in the form of …”
*Intentionally Interpreting Any Criticism as an Insult
“Who is he to call me lazy and worthless! A good person would never talk to me like this! He wrote this whole thing just to feel superior to me and to make me feel bad about my life! I’m going to think up my own insult to even the score!”
*Focusing on the Messenger to Avoid Hearing the Message
“Who is THIS guy to tell ME how to live? Oh, like he’s so high and mighty! It’s just some dumb writer on the Internet! I’m going to go dig up something on him that reassures me that he’s stupid, and that everything he’s saying is stupid! This guy is so pretentious, it makes me puke! I watched his old rap video on YouTube and thought his rhymes sucked!”
*Focusing on the Tone to Avoid Hearing the Content
“I’m going to dig through here until I find a joke that is offensive when taken out of context, and then talk and think only about that! I’ve heard that a single offensive word can render an entire book invisible!”
*Revising Your Own History
“Things aren’t so bad! I know that I was threatening suicide last month, but I’m feeling better now! It’s entirely possible that if I just keep doing exactly what I’m doing, eventually things will work out! I’ll get my big break, and if I keep doing favors for that pretty girl, eventually she’ll come around!”
*Pretending That Any Self-Improvement Would Somehow Be Selling Out Your True Self
“Oh, so I guess I’m supposed to get rid of all of my manga and instead go to the gym for six hours a day and get a spray tan like those Jersey Shore douchebags? Because THAT IS THE ONLY OTHER OPTION.”
“And so on. Remember, misery is comfortable. It’s why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes effort.”
“Also, courage. It’s incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don’t create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created.”
“It’s so much easier to just sit back and criticize other people’s creations. This movie is stupid. That couple’s kids are brats. That other couple’s relationship is a mess. That rich guy is shallow. This restaurant sucks. This Internet writer is an asshole. I’d better leave a mean comment demanding that the website fire him. See, I created something.”
“Oh, wait, did I forget to mention that part? Yeah, whatever you try to build or create — be it a poem, or a new skill, or a new relationship — you will find yourself immediately surrounded by non-creators who trash it. Maybe not to your face, but they’ll do it. Your drunk friends do not want you to get sober. Your fat friends do not want you to start a fitness regimen. Your jobless friends do not want to see you embark on a career.”
“Just remember, they’re only expressing their own fear, since trashing other people’s work is another excuse to do nothing. “Why should I create anything when the things other people create suck? I would totally have written a novel by now, but I’m going to wait for something good, I don’t want to write the next Twilight!” As long as they never produce anything, it will forever be perfect and beyond reproach. Or if they do produce something, they’ll make sure they do it with detached irony. They’ll make it intentionally bad to make it clear to everyone else that this isn’t their real effort. Their real effort would have been amazing. Not like the shit you made.”
“Read our article comments — when they get nasty, it’s always from the same angle: Cracked needs to fire this columnist. This asshole needs to stop writing. Don’t make any more videos. It always boils down to “Stop creating. This is different from what I would have made, and the attention you’re getting is making me feel bad about myself.”
“Don’t be that person. If you are that person, don’t be that person any more. This is what’s making people hate you. This is what’s making you hate yourself.”
“So how about this: one year. The end of 2013, that’s our deadline. Or a year from whenever you read this. While other people are telling you “Let’s make a New Year’s resolution to lose 15 pounds this year!” I’m going to say let’s pledge to do fucking anything — add any skill, any improvement to your human tool set, and get good enough at it to impress people. Don’t ask me what — hell, pick something at random if you don’t know. Take a class in karate, or ballroom dancing, or pottery. Learn to bake. Build a birdhouse. Learn massage. Learn a programming language. Film a porno. Adopt a superhero persona and fight crime. Start a YouTube vlog. Write for Cracked.”
“But the key is, I don’t want you to focus on something great that you’re going to make happen to you (“I’m going to find a girlfriend, I’m going to make lots of money …”). I want you to purely focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people.”
“I don’t have the money to take a cooking class.” Then fucking Google “how to cook.” They’ve even filtered out the porn now, it’s easier than ever. Damn it, you have to kill those excuses. Or they will kill you.”
Harsh level: wicked harsh. Oh my god, you guys. Oh my god. I especially freakin’ ADORED this: “Remember, misery is comfortable. It’s why so many people prefer it. Happiness takes an effort. Also, courage. It’s incredibly comforting to know that as long as you don’t create anything in your life, then nobody can attack the thing you created.”
Misery is comfortable. I was extremely comfortable in mine until November when I decided to change my misery. I was working at a job I didn’t much care for. I love what I do because it’s massively fascinating and rewarding and great and awesome, but I get antsy and feeling like I’m not being used to my full potential sometimes, which is what happened. I was stuck in a position that I knew I couldn’t advance further. I was, and honestly still am struggling with finances. I was living in a friend’s basement, which bless his heart for letting me move in with him in the first place, but I had that moment of “Sweet Lord God, I’m living in a basement and I’m 31. This is not where I need to be,” but I didn’t do anything about it because again, misery is comfortable. I would get wild hairs up my butt every now and again and decide to make A Change, but then I’d remember change is fucking scary and I’m happy in my comfortable misery.
Or so I thought.
It turns out, I wasn’t, but I didn’t really discover that until I got here to Texas. Granted, I moved here jobless and unsure of being here, but I know this is where I need to be right now. When your own parents tell you “Erin, you need to move away,” you should probably listen to them. You’re never too old to listen to your old man and lady because they do know what’s best still, as annoying as it may seem. Just because you’re an adult and on your own and making your own life doesn’t mean your parents stop looking out for your best interest. Lord knows mine still are, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.
Anyway, I’m here, I did it, I’m still working things out, I experience periods of “good god, what have I done?” and homesickness, but you know what? I’m here, and I truly feel I’m making a better person of myself for doing so. I’m not going to become comfortable in misery again because I spent nearly 1/3rd of my life doing so, and that’s horseshit.
There you have it. There’s my Oprah moment for the day. I don’t feel so yucky about myself anymore. I hope you don’t, either.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. I totally submitted an idea to Cracked as per David Wong’s suggestion to try to write for them. Fun!