Just beneath the surface of normal

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This Idea is CLAIMED, Y’all

Seems like all my best material goes to Facebook because they’re clever responses to other people, and it seems in some ways like a horrible waste of material since I’m sort of trying to cultivate a readership over here.  For now, I know most of you on Facebook so it’s kind of a rehash for you. Sorry about that. But for those who are sifting through my archives someday, I present:

1) If my last name were Khan I would totally get a PhD just so I could make people sing “Dr Khan let me rock you, let me rock you Dr Khan.” Because I’m the sort of person who makes expensive life-changing decisions for the sake of 30 year old song punnery. Let it never be said I lack conviction.

2) Someone on Facebook posted a picture of a legless off-brand Barbie and asked for tips.


In retrospect, she might have just been looking for help reattaching the legs.

My advice was to go buy off-brand dinosaurs (not that there are brand-name dinosaurs or anything), rip off their legs, and reattach them to the doll to make a Barbiesaurus. Or maybe a Centaurbie? I’m still working that out. And frankly, it could work with lots of animals, not just dinosaurs, so I should probably go for something generic. Do centaurs HAVE to be half-horse, or is it more focused on the “half” part?

Anyway, I searched the Internet for a picture to show how to do it….AND IT HASN’T BEEN DONE YET. For once in my life (well, maybe twice) I think I have come up with something actually original. Only this time it might catch on.

Now I have to go home and buy a barbie and a dinosaur and take pictures before someone else tries to steal it as their own. I’m posting it here before I do that so that I can prove that I thought of it first, because that’s the sort of thing you need when you’re in a copyright dispute over plastic toy chimeras. I’m also going to print this and mail it to myself, though I’ve never been entirely clear why that’s important. Except then I’d have to get stamps. And actually mail it. I can’t even get cards I’ve already filled out into the mail, though, so I’m probably being optimistic. Regardless, it’s mine, so move along. You’ll have to find other random things to smoosh together to claim as your own.

But so: updates to come when surgery is complete.


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It’s Not Plagiarism If You Cite It, or What I’m Reading Now

I spend a lot of time every week reading articles and essays. I read them on the train, I read them in the office when things get slow or there are too many interruptions to get any kind of work done, I read them while I’m waiting for something to finish cooking at night. I read a lot of really excellent work, and then I ruminate on it, and I incorporate it into my life.

If I’m going to write a lot more, I think it would be a fun weekly feature to share what I’ve read this week that got me thinking, and maybe comment on it or whatever, and get a whole blog post out of stuff other people did, which is kind of cheating, but I don’t actually give a fuck.

Without further ado, here’s my first edition.

1. Chuck Wendig doesn’t give a fuck about your pre-rejection excuses for not writing:

Pre-rejection is bullshit.

It’s a control thing, a power trip, a grotesquely pessimistic fantasy. I know, you’re saying, uhh, it’s not a fantasy, weirdo — except, au contraire, panda bear, it is a fantasy. It’s much easier to reject ourselves than it is to weather the crotch-kicks delivered by someone else. You could far easier slide a knife across your open palm than let someone else do it — it’s so much better when we control the pain that’s sure to come. It’s comforting, easy, lazy even to just get that rejection out of the way now rather than later.

Okay, first of all, I have never heard the phrase “au contraire, panda bear” but I am stealing it forever. This essay was worth it for that alone.

The most adorable disagreement ever.

Second of all, I am compulsively guilty of this thing, “pre-rejecting”, which sounds kind of like literary bulimia except without the life-threatening (usually. See: tortured writers). I can’t even tell you how many unfinished pieces are in my drafts folder because I deemed them not funny enough…or my anxiety was on overdrive in all directions that day…or who the hell am I to talk about how to be a good parent because I only have one incredibly easy kid half of the time? I think about that last topic especially, as I watch her and her high school friends struggle to have their own identities against the will of parents who think they can still control who their kids become this late in the game. But anyway, what this guy’s essay really gets to is how terrifying it is to be vulnerable sometimes. The silly, ego-based posts are easy because entertainment is my public form of safety; when everyone’s laughing, nobody’s criticizing. But what makes good writing good is vulnerability (well, and planning, but you can still make a wonderful plan that falls flat because the writer takes no risks). So maybe when I find myself stuck I should be asking myself where I’m avoiding vulnerability.

That’s certainly the real cause of the last few months’ silence.

2. I didn’t even watch the Grammys and I have zero skin in the Beyonce’ vs. Beck game (beyond my revulsion at the truly stunning displays of covert sexism and racism that ensued), but this made my whole last week:

I would SO pay to see them perform this live.

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The Zen of Fucklessness

Some things are just so simple and so abrupt that they change your life.

Like this, only actually important. Not that Obama isn’t important. I’m talking about the not-really life changing effects of vegetable juice. If you never see me again, it’s because I was detained for conflating the president and V8 because of bad grammar. And this is why education is important, people.

My V8 moment was The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck and if you have not yet read it, please go do so now. We’ll wait…

Welcome back!

Aside from having seriously the very best cover photo for an article ever, Mr. Manson basically discusses how giving too many fucks holds us back. Giving a fuck about being different is the cause of the majority of our anxiety. Giving a fuck about things not meeting our expectations is the cause of 99.9% of our irritations. Giving a fuck is the oil leak of our emotional engines. Not to say that there are not times when fucks are important to give, just that if we don’t pay attention they tend to explode everywhere and leave stains on our lives and our peace. –Except maybe not explode? I’m trying to extend the oil metaphor but I don’t really understand engines, so now it seems like I’m talking about a different sort of explosion, IFyaknowwhatimean. So you know what? Let’s just make this a Mad Libs moment: “It’s just that they tend to ____(verb)________ everywhere and leave ____(plural noun)____ on our lives and our peace.” — Whatever just happened there is on you, weirdo (but hopefully you picked something hilarious and didn’t give a single fuck about it seeming weird).

But see? Like half my blogging is essentially giving a fuck about you as an imaginary judge! What will I even write about if it’s not what a ridiculous wreck I am? (Answer: how much fun it is to be a ridiculous wreck who gives no fucks!)

So about 2 weeks ago, I saw that essay and suddenly my entire life popped into focus like one of those magic eye posters supposedly did back in the 90’s (admit it, you never managed to see a picture either). I have lived a like a giant snail, leaving trails of casually discarded fucks wherever I go (OMG, you can’t combine this metaphor with ANY-damn-thing without it turning dirty! Don’t lie, you know you laughed too). I was miserable. I hated the easiest job on the planet, I hated everything except being at home crocheting in bed. I may have been a little depressed.

Rather like the ocean is a little damp. Or Chernobyl was a little radiation problem. *shrug*

It’s funny how you have to get really sick of yourself before you’re ready to do something different. Like, it’s not as if stuff like journaling, meditation, and reflexology from fabulously wise friends wasn’t always there. I was just too attached to my suffering – too busy hemorrhaging fucks about my job, and tiny slights from random strangers, and how I imagined I’d rather my life looked – to pull it together and do them. But you know what? Suffering is really, really boring. And I have absolutely no aptitude for enduring boring things. If it was my aversion to suffering that made me miserable in the first place, it would be my aversion to suffering that would make it stop. So I started doing those things that were available to me, like journaling and meditation and leaning on friends (who seem to actually not mind, surprisingly enough).

And then, by the grace of the great tentacled god Facebook, my teacher appeared in the form of this Philosophy of Fucklessness, and I declared unto the world “Today I shall hoard my fucks and give them, like expensive truffles, only to those who are worth it.”

At the end of the day I still had every. last. one. of my fucks. And I was unusually productive. AND I got my sense of humor back, because not giving a fuck is ridiculously entertaining, because nothing is personal, and nothing is really about you. And suddenly I could see how everyone was just oozing fucks everywhere, and I was all “holy shit, is that what I’m like? That is NO way to live!”

Which is how I became an annoying evangelist for not giving a fuck. Everyone I know who has a problem now, I’m like, “why do you even give a fuck about that?! You do you!” Which may have something to do with why suddenly nobody wants my advice. But seriously, you guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how free this is. I feel like goddamn Neo walking through a matrix rain of fucks.

Acting? Pfft! Zero fucks given, bitches.

It’s not as if this is a new idea. The Greek philosophy of Stoicism is, at it’s core, all about not giving a fuck. No less than the philosopher-king Marcus Aurelius said, “Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill… I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no man will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with my kinsman or hate him; for we have come into the world to work together…” which translates into modern English as, “though people around me may positively weep fucks, I shall (with the utmost compassion) give no fucks which are not mine to give.”

And eastern philosophy is chock-full of non-attachment, because how the hell else do you survive wave after wave of invading empires and indifferent bureaucracies? The Tao Te Ching says “Fame or Self: Which matters more? Self or Wealth: Which is more precious? Gain or Loss: Which is more painful? He who is attached to things will suffer much. He who saves will suffer heavy loss. A contented man is rarely disappointed. He who knows when to stop does not find himself in trouble. He will stay forever safe,” which MARK MY WORDS means “seriously, quit giving a fuck – it’s completely awesome! Except occasionally when it isn’t, but don’t give a fuck about that either and you’ll be fine.”

“Shh! See that fuck over there? Don’t pick it up. Just. Leave it. Laugh at my brick cape & playing-card shoes all you want, but I still think they are the bomb-diggity because I ain’t pickin’ it up neither.” – Lao Tzu

So here’s what happened when I stopped giving a fuck: I had more energy and got more done, because giving a fuck all day long is exhausting. I started dancing better, because I didn’t give a fuck how I looked to anyone else. I started working on my novel again because I don’t give a fuck if it’s perfect, I give a fuck about writing and about making some progress. My anxiety levels dropped, and I became a better partner because I wasn’t paralyzed from fear of judgment so I was more able to speak my mind in a strong but loving way. And wonder of wonders, I suddenly felt like blogging again.

My therapist has been trying to get me to understand how much I give my power away for the past 2 years. If he had just come out and said, “why do you even give a fuck about what all these people think?” way back when we started, I’d be able to shoot lightning bolts from my fingers by now. Thanks a lot, Steve. These fingers are *boring!*

There’s only one problem I see with my new philosophy: people are seriously disconcerted by the word “fuck”. Like I know a lot of people who won’t even say it. And I did sort of find my chest collapsing when I tried to explain it to my dad. But you know what? I adore my dad, but that’s his fuck to give, not mine. It’s no longer never been my job to anticipate everyone’s discomfort and cut it off at the pass. I am not the emotional catcher in the damn rye. If people want to send their fucks running over the cliff, I can only ask if they’re sure about that.