Month: February 2013

February 26, 2013

I love familiarity. By that, I mean I guess I’m a creature of routine, as most of us are. I’m outside on the patio on this glorious late February night in Austin, enjoying the lower 60’s temperature, the light as it disappears behind the horizon, the cold Red Stripe beer by my side, warm laptop on my lap, and the Old 97’s playing in the background. To me, this is almost perfect. I say “almost” because nothing can be absolutely perfect, and anything that claims it is…isn’t.

I spent a lot of time on this patio in the six weeks before I landed my job, and I enjoy coming to “my spot”: the lawn chair to the left, one in front of me to prop my feet up when my legs go numb from sitting too long and I get the white noise feeling in my legs. You know what I’m talking about. Pins and needles, which isn’t an accurate description, in my opinion. The sensation is tickle-y static as the blood begins circulating your veins and arteries; that feeling. You feel like a seasick sailor trying to gain your sea legs when you stand up, all wobbly and disoriented.

I don’t have much to talk about tonight, but I haven’t written in a while, so I need to exercise my fingers and my mind.

The New Job is going well, I think. Everyone I work with is extremely nice, especially this one woman. She seems concerned for me in a way. I took my lunch break yesterday, was gone for my allotted thirty minutes, and I came back and sat at my desk area behind the counter. She seemed surprised to see me. “Are you okay? You’re back soon. Did you have a good lunch?” Yes, I am okay, I took the proper amount of time, and my apple and glass of ice water was, well, apple-y and ice water-y, thanks. She’s a sweet lady and I think she’s empathizing with me from her days of being the new girl. 

I remarked earlier on Twitter that all the patients I’ve seen are also extremely nice and polite, too. There were nice patients in Nebraska, but Austin seems to have a surplus of them, which is actually very refreshing. Nearly everyone has said to me as I’m leaving the exam room after completing my duties, “it was very nice to meet you, Erin.” Likewise. One of my co-workers shakes everyone’s hand as he introduces himself. I remember thinking to myself when I started working in Nebraska if I should do that to patients and ended up deciding against it; I didn’t want to come off as weird. But this guy offers a firm handshake and a smile, and the patient reciprocate willingly, so by golly, I’ve started doing it, as well. I think it’s a nice gesture, and one that’s appreciated, especially working in healthcare. These patients aren’t just warm bodies occupying our rooms and known by their medical record number. They are human beings who are often scared to be there, especially the ones who have just received new pacemakers or defibrillators. They have a hunk of metal in their chests and for some, this gadget is keeping them alive. Their apprehension is understandable and they seek more knowledge about the device to make themselves feel better about it. Anyway…the point is, it’s amazing what a friendly smile and a little reassurance can get from people.

I did have a “…what?” moment this morning, though. I was applying a heart monitor to a patient, something I have done five days a week for five years at my previous job, but the limbo I had between jobs stole something from me. I looked down at the color-coded wires and thought to myself, “how in the hell do I put this thing on?” I did the same thing when I checked my first device at this job. I had to quickly run through the process I used in my head before I could start so I wouldn’t mess it up. I must have looked like I didn’t know what I was doing with the patient this morning because she asked, “is this your first day, sugar?” No, ma’am, it isn’t. I’ve been to this dance before, but just forgot how to move my feet for a second. That was embarrassing, to say the least.

So that’s work.

Now on to a topic I’m having trouble with. Here we go.

I rejoined OkCupid. That in and of itself is troublesome because ACK, but here’s the real reason.

I don’t like to think of myself as a woman who constantly needs a male companion to make myself feel…whole, I guess is a good word. There are people who get right into another relationship soon after their previous one ended, and I don’t really understand that, even though I’m guilty of it myself to an extent. I dated four guys this past summer, but I justify that by saying I had just decided to start dating again after the two year separation and divorce from my ex. I was ready to date again, and I did just that. None of the stints lasted more than a month, sometimes less because WHORE, but I don’t know. I’m trying to work this out in my head as to why I saw so many men in such a short time. I saw a man for about two months last winter, and I admit to wishing I hadn’t been, well, me and ended it, but we’re still good friends and that’s all right with me, even though I do find myself thinking the inevitable “what if?” with him. After we ended, I didn’t see anyone until the summer, as I said, then it was boomboomboomboom, and all thanks (?) to OkStupid.

Sigh…what a site. Again, I met some pretty cool dudes via that abortion of a dating thingy, but nothing really…meaningful? That sounds rude. I met one guy and we’re buddies and I don’t want to sound like a cunt and disregard our friendship because we met through OkCupid and I’m grateful for his friendship–wish it would have progressed to something more, but c’est la vie. ANYWAY, I’m trying to make a point and that is I didn’t have the best romantic luck there, so why I decided to renew my profile and try again is bonkers. Plus, it’s like, a week after I just broke up with my last boyfriend.

Jesus Christ, I sound like a slut. Wow.

But you see what I mean? Why did I join again barring my past failures and recent heartache? Am I really more lonely than I am letting myself believe? Am I really one of those people who just always has to be with someone? Because if so, I’m going to deactivate my goddamn account again. Besides, I’m not ready, which again, why the good goddamn did I start up the profile again? I do admit I don’t really have any intention of finding love again, not so soon after this relationship ended. It’s disrespectful to him and to me in a weird way, don’t you think? Or am I just making that up? I don’t know, man. I’m messed up, I think.

Plus, I was browsing my “matches” a while ago and I could feel my eyes rolling around in my head. I’m sure they are all nice men and have a lot to offer a lady, but geez Louise. My snark comes out in full force and I find myself harshly critiquing their self summaries…mainly the poorly written ones. Maybe I should message the most poorly written profiles and offer to rewrite them for the men. That’d be a fun message to send: “Hey, I’m Erin. I’m not interested in dating or even meeting you; I just want to edit your profile so you can meet a lady…who isn’t me.” That could be a good idea, I think.

Maybe I’m not meant to be with anyone. Now, before y’all chime in with your opinions, hear me out, please.

I don’t like talking, which I know those of you who don’t know me personally, only via social networking sites and this here blog, might declare shenanigans to this statement, but it’s true. I don’t like to talk. Writing is completely different from talking…kind of. Talking makes me uncomfortable, and it’s hard for me to express my feelings and emotions and verbalize what I’m thinking because it’s a goddamn impossible thing for me to do, and incidentally, a major reason in why my relationships don’t work. I just can’t make words form from my mouth hole. I have perfect conversations in my head all the damn time, but perhaps the wiring from my brain to my mouth is fucked up and that’s why I hate talking. This is also another reason I am shaking my head at joining OkCupid again. My profile is, and pardon my bragging, but it makes me sound cool and awesome and a lot of fun and that I’d like to have conversations with equally cool and awesome and fun men, but it’s a sham. If I had a nickle for every time someone has told me I have a completely different online persona than in real life, I’d have a lot of damn nickles. I don’t think I portray myself differently online than in person, I just don’t talk as openly and freely as I write. Writing allows me time to contemplate my words and to get them out when I want to, not being forced to face another human and try to mumble my way through a conversation. However, if liquor is involved, I’m a chatterbox, so I guess that means I should be drunk all the time. But I played that game before and no thanks. I’m sitting this one out, coach.

So I don’t like to talk. Reason 1 of why I should be alone.

Reason 2: I like to be alone a lot. It’s my introverted nature. I need time to sit by myself and think and to analyze things. I can’t be around people all the time. I can’t. It makes my anxiety skyrocket. But again, this tends to come off as “I don’t want to be with you” to some people, and that’s not really the case. It seems like I don’t want to be around you, but it has absolutely nothing to do with you at all, it’s about me. Is this a selfish need? Maybe. And on the same vein, I also enjoy my independence. Please remember during my marriage, my ex and I hardly did anything together, and I got used to that. If I wanted to do something, I’d go do it. I’d always ask my ex if he wanted to go, but he rejected my invitations. Maybe that was an early sign of our incompatibility, but that’s a moot point now, I suppose. But on the flip side, I can be only clingy bitch when I want to, read “I WANNA BE WITH YOU ALL THE DAMN TIME” which really sends mixed signals because eventually, I’ll request alone time, but if I’ve been with someone non-stop for days and then suddenly go “yeah…I gotta leave…” I can understand the “what the fuck?” attitude some have when this happens. I apologize. Again, not you–me. Oddly enough, my horoscope (shut up) for today said something about being too independent and needing to realize people need to be together or something like that and I was all “aw, mannnnn…”

You know, those are really the only two reasons why I am not meant to be with anyone. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t met anyone willing to accept these two things about me and be okay with them? It’s like the age-old question of how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? The world may never know…

Well, I said I didn’t have much to write about tonight, and here I am at over two thousand words. I’m a liar. Having said that, I’m going to take my leave of you for the evening. My day has caught up with me and I want to lay in bed–er, the pull-out couch bed–and watch Downton Abbey.

As always, thanks for reading.

E

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Unzipped

The cab driver sits impatiently in his car behind a row of cars waiting to get out of the parking garage. He’s tapping the steering wheel with his long fingers, mumbling come on, come on to himself, urging those in front of him to move faster, but he knows it isn’t their fault; it’s the parking attendant. This woman has a penchant for making small talk with each person who passes through her lane, as he’s been victim of her chatting many times. The driver is close to laying on his horn to make a point that she needs to hurry it up. He has fares to pick up and a living to make. Every minute stuck in this garage is time his competition has to pick up his customers and the driver can’t have that.

The SUV in front of him taps on its brake and the interior of the driver’s car illuminates with red. The driver catches his reflection in the rear view mirror and marvels at his red countenance; how his eyes seem to glow and the light reflecting off his silver hair makes it look almost pink. He chuckles to himself at the thought of having pink hair and what his four-year-old daughter would say to having a daddy with such hair.

Finally, it’s his turn to pull up to the woman whose name tag states her name is Tina. She is a homely woman with large, protruding ears, a mess of thin, greasy looking ginger-colored hair tucked behind her ears, which didn’t help mask the size of them. Her nose is strong and broad, and her lips thin and pale.

“Oh! ‘Ello again, you! Ready to start yer night, I take it?” Her accent is thick and the driver can’t quite place it. It’s English, but from what region, he can’t tell. It’s too proper for Cockney, but still rural enough to make him question her origin. As she speaks, the driver notices she has what his grandfather called “summer teeth.” You see that feller over there, my boy? He’s got summer teeth: some ‘er there, some ‘er not.

The driver is waiting for her to do what she always does when she talks to him: start playing with the zippers on her pants. Whenever Tina and the driver converse, Tina zips and unzips the pockets on her jeans over and over again. The first time the driver heard the noise, he wasn’t sure what it was, or where it was coming from. What’s that sound? he asked. (ziiiiiiip) What sound? she replied. (ziiiiiip) That! That sound there! What is that? (ziiiiiip) Oh, she sounded sheepish, that’s me pants. I have a nervous habit, I suppose, and can’t help messin’ wit the zippers. (ziiiiiip)

“Aye, yer goin’ to be a busy one then tonight, I’m a fearin’,” she says as she hands the driver his ticket (ziiiiip). “Lots o’ people out and about tonight. I fink it’s the full moon, always messin’ with people and such (ziiiiip). You be careful out there, ya here, cabbie? Don’t take guff from no one, and if’n they do, you just give ’em the business, if ya know what I mean (ziiiiiip). There be lots o’ talk of a serial killer, ya know. Some poor bastahd be hackin’ folks up and leavin’ ’em to die, but the kicker is, ‘e takes a little present wit ‘im (ziiiiip).” She winks a yellow eye at him. The driver can’t tell if her eyes truly are yellow, or the reflection of the single bare light bulb hanging above her head from a worn cord.

“Will do, Tina. Have a good night, and see you in a few hours,” the driver replied. Tina winked again (ziiiiip).

“Oh, cabbie, I’ll be ‘ere. You know I a’ways is (ziiiiip).”

The driver pulls out on the road, merges into traffic, and shakes his head. Tina and her zippers unsettle the driver; it’s such an odd thing to do, and he wonders if she does it all the time, or just with him. He drives a few miles before he picks up his first customers; a tall, lanky young man and a short, chubby woman. Both are dressed in neon colors, and the driver thinks the woman is wearing fairy wings of some sort, but it is hard to tell since she’s seated in the back now.

“Where to, friends?” the driver asks.

“151 8th Avenue, please. We’re going to a rave!” squeaks the woman. The driver looks in his mirror at her, and sees her hand her companion a small silver flask, and wipes her mouth with the back of her fat hand, her fingers smearing the ruby red lipstick on her lips across her face. The man takes a long pull off the flask and hands it back to her. She giggles as she stuffs it down the front of her enormous cleavage. The man leans over, places his face between her breasts and from what the driver gathers, bites the woman, as she lets out a loud squeal and pushes his face deeper into her decolletage. The driver smiles to himself and signals to switch lanes.

The couple is making out in the back seat and the driver decides to have some fun with the kids. “Hey, you two hear about that serial killer going around? I hear he likes rave kids.” He glances up into the mirror to see if they heard him. The boy did not, and is busy slobbing all over the girl’s tits, but she hears the driver, and is suddenly very interested in what he has to say.

“What? Are you fucking around with us?”

“No ma’am, I am not. Heard it on the radio before I picked you two up. Some sicko is going around to raves and killin’ people. Stabbing them to death and leaving them in alley ways for the wild cats to eat. But…he takes a little present before he goes. You know, a prize from his victims. A little something to remember them by. I’d be extra careful out there tonight if I were you. Plus, it’s a full moon. Lots of crazies out anyway. Could make it easier for this guy to hide that way.”

“Burke! Burke!” she hisses into his ear. “Did you just hear what this guy said? A fucking killer! He’s killing people at raves!”

Burke decides he’s done with his girlfriend’s breasts and sits upright. “No shit, huh? That’s fucking rad!”

Burke! This isn’t fucking funny, you asshole! We could get killed!” she whines.

“Ah, baby, relax. I’ll protect us,” and he leans over and goes back to her tits. The driver smirks and drives them the rest of the way to the bar in silence. He pulls up to the curb and parks the car.

“That’ll be $17.50, please.”

The girl reaches into her bosoms once again and produces a small credit card holder, opens it, and hands the driver a twenty-dollar bill. “Keep the change,” she says to him as they leave the cab.

“Hey, thanks. And remember–be careful out there.”

The driver pulls away and back into traffic. The rest of his night is uneventful; just the usual fares, and nothing exciting. He finds himself laughing at the two rave kids periodically during the night. Gullible fuckers. They made his night less mundane. At 2:00 a.m., he makes his way back to the garage. Tina’s shift is over, and some fat, pimple-faced kid with sausages for fingers takes the driver’s ticket. They make their transaction and part ways. The driver takes the cab to its usual parking spot on the fourth floor and parks.

He marks down his mileage for the night, adds up his fares, divvies the tips and pockets them, and puts the rest of the money into the small zipper bag that goes to the office at the end of his shift. He takes the bag to the night drop box and heads back to his own car which is parked across the garage. As the driver approaches his vehicle, he sees the dome light on, and slows his walk. Closer to the car, he sees the passenger side door is slightly ajar. The driver reaches for his back pocket where he keeps a switch blade, and puts his hand on the weapon, ready to pull it out.

He walks to the passenger side and examines the door. Someone pried it open with something, and he looks around on the ground and sees the crowbar under the car next to him. He takes the knife out of the pocket and flips the blade open. Then, he stands in front of the door and quickly swings it open, knife poised in his hand, ready to attack. He looks on the floor of the car, expecting to see whomever jimmied his door open to be crouched below the dash, but no one is there. He hits the unlock button, and goes to the back door and flings it open. Laying in the back seat, a figure huddles into a ball, trying to obscure themselves with the old ratty blanket the driver kept. He grabs the blanket with one hand, the knife still in the other, and yanks it off the person, exposing them to him. He stands in disbelief for a few seconds when he sees who has broken into his car–Tina. He knew it was her by the umpteen zippers on the pants.

“The fuck are you doing, Tina?!” he bellows at her. She covers her head with her arms and tries to curl into a smaller ball, as if that would make her disappear from him. The driver grabs her left ankle and yanks hard. Tina lets out a loud yelp as she’s scooted across the seat and almost out of the car. She grabs on to one of the seats to keep herself from falling out.

“Tina! What the fuck? What the fuck?!” The driver is furious.

Tina slides out of the back seat, and stumbles as she gets up. She re-positions her clothes and smooths them out, as if that will help her appearance any. She stands upright and faces the driver.

“I can explain–” she starts before the driver cuts her off.

“You goddamn well better, you psychotic bitch! What’re you doing in my car? You have ten seconds to explain yourself. One…two…”

“A’right, a’right! Jayzus Christ! Gimme a bleedin’ minute, you fuckin’ wank!”

“…four…five…six…” the driver slowly brings the knife up to her eye level.

“The fuck is that for, you loon?! You tryin’ to fuckin’ kill me?!” she screams.

“You have eight seconds, Tina. I suggest you tell me what in the fuck you were doing in my car.” The driver turns the blade in his hands, the point catches the overhead fluorescent light and flashes. He can see it sparkle in Tina’s eyes as she looks at the knife.

“Okay, okay, I was waitin’ fer ya to get off, cabbie. I t’ought maybe we’d get a drink or somethin’…” she explains, here eyes never leaving the blade.

“So you broke into my fucking car?”

“Aye, I did. It’d be easier dat way, cabbie,” she says slowly.

“Easier for what, Tina?” The driver lowers the knife to his side, the adrenaline rush subsiding.

“Easier to do dis–” and in one swift movement, Tina rushes the driver, grabs his wrist and shoves his own knife into his side. She pulls his wrist up and he can  feel his flesh tearing. The driver stumbles back into the car beside him. He’s in shock and Tina takes advantage of this and takes the knife from his hand. She pushes up against him, and he’s surprised at how much force she has for such a slight woman. Tina takes the knife and slits the driver’s throat in one swift swipe of the blade. The driver’s blood splatters her face when she hits the jugular and the blood soaks his shirt in seconds. He gasps for air, and the slit in the throat bubbles with blood. Tina is still firmly against him, and stabs him repeatedly in the sides. The cabbie is weak and starts to slump down to the cement. Tina steps away from him and the driver falls to the ground. His blood is everywhere, and Tina tries to get away from it.

“Aw, ya fucker, these are my favorite sneakers!”  She kicks him in the side and can feel the toe of her shoe sink inside the driver’s belly. He tries to make a sound, but it’s difficult when his neck is ripped open from ear to ear.

Tina leans over the driver, the knife still in her hand.

“I a’most forgot. I need dis,” she whispers in his ear, grabs it with her free hand and slices it off. The driver is fading fast, but the fresh wave of pain in his head brings him back to consciousness for a moment.

He’s on his back, his blood all around him, and the last thing he sees before he shuts his eyes for good is Tina putting his ear into one of her pockets and zips it shut.

 

Kurasawa

We sit across from each other at a wooden picnic table. The paint used to be red, but it’s chipped, and sun-faded, the weathered wood showing through. Lil’ Carlo was here at one time, apparently, and carved this into the top of the table, next to a crude etch of a stick figure riding a penis. I trace it with my finger, and wish I had something to add to the carving. Maybe a top hat on the figure; class it up a bit.

“Are you a fan of Kurasawa?” he asks as he takes a sip from his beer bottle.

“Kurasawa makes mad films,” I reply, not looking up from the table. I can tell he’s looking at me, so I glance up at him. He has a blank expression on his reddened face. We’ve been sitting outside for a few hours and his cheeks and forehead show it.

“What?”

“‘Kurasawa makes mad films’ is a song lyric,” I tell him. “It’s from the song ‘One Week’ by the Barenaked Ladies,” I state matter-of-factly.

“Heh…that’s actually what they say?”

“‘Kurasawa makes made films, I don’t make films, but if I did they’d have a samurai,’” I recite.

He stares at me, smiling. “You’re a fascinating woman, you know that?”

“I get that a lot. Do you have a pen? Or like, a pocket knife or something?”

He pats his pants pockets. “Sorry, I left it with my Scout master.”

I let out a quick chuckle at his joke.

“Why do you want a pocket knife, may I ask?”

“I want to carve a T-Rex fighting this guy riding the penis,” I say. “I think that would greatly enhance the artistic value of this piece.”

He shakes his head and finishes his beer, slamming it on the table. A paint chip flies up and lands in my glass of beer. I give him a look, and fish the fleck out with my finger.

“Oops, sorry,” he apologizes. “You want another? This round’s on me.”

“Sure. Thanks. I’ll have the same thing, please.”

He gets up from the table and goes inside to fetch our beers.

I look around the beer garden and see a woman sitting by herself. I walk over to her and ask if she has a pen. She does and hands it to me. I go back to our table and start drawing my masterpiece.

LET’S DO THIS!!

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.

But then…

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 hereclose.

“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,

E

P.S. I totally submitted an idea to Cracked as per David Wong’s suggestion to try to write for them. Fun!