Friday, April 29, 2011

Search Your Feelings

What's the most terrifying thing about becoming an adult?

It's not that you have to find your own way in the world.

It's not the process of learning to navigate vast social, political, and economic structures around you.

It's not the difficulty of trying to decide who you will be, what you will do, and what really matters.

It's not the problem of balancing different aspects of your life.

It's not the acceptance that you are subject to forces you have no hope of controlling.

It's not coming to grips with the mistakes you've made.

The most terrifying thing about becoming an adult is looking back on your childhood, and realizing that your parents, just like you, were largely making it up as they went along.*


Friday, April 22, 2011

My Self-Help Book Would Be Short

"Lack of Motivation" is one of the most common things people beat themselves up over. We look at the successful, the brilliant, the talented, and know deep inside that such heights would be within our reach if we only had the discipline to pursue it.

Only I don't think that's quite true. 

The kind of motivation you need to work at the same thing, day after day, can be fueled by many things—and not all of them are as positive as iron will. Profound emotional damage, for example, will do just fine, as it's a constant push to lose yourself in work. Desperate, gnawing lack of self-worth is another common one, since it can be temporarily beaten back by personal accomplishments.

And let's not forget OCD. Nothing makes you perfect your craft like the inexplicable feeling that you have to.

So maybe the reason most people goof off so much is that they're relatively well adjusted. The person who's happy, healthy, and fulfilled doesn't need to conquer the world.*

*They just need to pretend to.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


The idea behind a vacation is that it's a time for you to relax, and get away from the daily pressures of work. And that would make sense, were going on vacation not incredibly stressful. 

Not only do you have to arrange all the things which are normally handled by your established patterns: food, lodging, transportation, etc-you also have to manage all the little stuff that you can normally put off, like laundry and dirty dishes.

Oh, and you have to do all this with a deadline. And coordinate it with anyone who's going with you. And prepare for any rain/traffic/other delays that might occur. Also you didn't clean out the cooler last time you used it, so now you've got to go rinse it with bleach. Don't forget anything.* Who's feeding the cats, again?

*If you forget your phone charger, you've remembered a paperweight.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Best I've Got

Once you get married, you occasionally get asked for advice on dating. The theory there is sound enough: if you want to know how to do something, ask someone who's done it. The problem, however, is that happily married people didn't "figure out" the dating world, and were likely just as bewildered and frustrated by it as you are, right up until the point where everything worked out.

But that being said, I do have a few notes:

For a single person who'd like to fall in love and get married, the club scene is perhaps your greatest resource. Why? Because it's a magnet for exactly the kinds of people you want to avoid. The loud music, alcohol, and mobs of people are a direct hit for any skeezy guy who's just looking for a hookup, and any boring girl who has little of interest to say.

If you're offended by this because you occasionally go out drinking, let me clarify: I didn't say that EVERYONE in a bar or club is like this. But by the same token, not EVERYONE at Disney World is a child. In both cases, however, it's clear that the experience is catered to a certain demographic.

So, then, we can think of your local "night life" area as a sort of magnet*, which draws all the crappy people into one spot. Now you need only avoid this place, and begin your search anew.*

*Unfortunately there's not a counter that goes the other way. Maybe you could walk around, and drop $5 bills with your phone number on them. A person who calls you to return it is probably worth a look.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fine Diction

So you want to write a consumer product review. Well that's great! I'm sure that once it's completed, it will be the shining star among the other hundreds of unread reviews on the same site. But before you begin, how about going over a few pointers—some common mistakes that should be avoided.

1. There's such a thing as an "outlier"

"What a piece of JUNK! I plugged it in but nothing happened! Do NOT buy this it's a waste of money cause it doesn't do what it's supposed to! These people should be ashamed of themselves for ripping everyone off."

If you're writing a negative review because the product didn't work, here's a little insight: It's possible that it's an isolated incident. I know it's hard to believe, but it turns out that every manufacturer has to deal with bum units from time to time. So just because the thing you got doesn't work, that doesn't mean they all don't work, or that the manufacturer is a pack of monsters, or that their headquarters should be stormed with torches and pitchforks. Maybe you could return it, try another one, and then write the review?

2. Asking for help

"It worked at first but then I started getting an error message. Love the product but wish they would fix it."

In the event that you do have a problem, check the packaging! It's entirely possible that the manufacturer has teams of people on hand to help you for free! Call these people, you give their work meaning!

3. Not writing every single detail

"The product arrived at 6:15PM on 4/8/10 via UPS. I wasn't home at the time, so the delivery guy left it at my door. Once I got the cardboard box I immediately cut it open to reveal a smaller green box. Inside that I found several cardboard spacers, a pack of "do not eat" silica gel, the product itself inside a clear plastic bag, and several . . . (and it goes on like that)."

Hey, sum it up there, James Joyce. I don't need to know what you had for breakfast the day a product arrived. That's not actually important to whether or not I decide to purchase this product. See, my time is valuable to me, and you're wasting it. Cut to the chase already.

4. What is wrong with you?

"OMFG thiz is so dum why wud you buy this pize of crap thing it donnent wurk im returning it rite now and never buying anything from bestbuys again why wud you buy this piz of crap thng."

What corruption has happened in your mind to let you put this anywhere someone might accidentally read it? This and anything else that drips off your tattered thought process should be locked away with household cleaners and rat poisons, sealed tightly in a child proof container. No product* that can be purchased at "best buys" will ever be as broken, or as dangerous, as the language you have here produced. Unplug your computer. Put it in a box. Give it to a library. Then sit quietly among the books and think about what you've done.

*Except for the Kesha** albums.
**I refuse to acknowledge her ridiculous spelling.