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#4 – Poor and Procrastinating

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Right now I am poor and procrastinating, and as is my tendency I am actively ignoring the pressing realities of life in favor of pretending that real world concerns don’t exist. Unfortunately, they do. Some of these practicalities include: not going into debt, getting a “real” job?, etc.

I’ve also been living and breathing this one project that is very important to me for the past six months, to the extent that it’s been hard to see the forest from the trees.

I don’t think I even know how to be a normal, real, functioning, contributing member of society anymore. Plus, as I said, I’m really poor, probably because I spend a lot of money but also do not make any. So it’s really just a matter of time before I become completely homeless.

Weirdly, I’m not too worried about it. Being homeless is going to be stressful, sure. I’m going to have to make some compromises. But first of all, let’s be realistic. I’m not gonna be homeless, homeless. I’m a girl. Girls don’t get like, sleeping-on-the-sidewalk homeless usually. We’re kind of like a high class of homeless… Like living-out-of-a-car homeless.

Plus, after I have to sell all my belongings and trade in my prius I’d probably be able to get like, a nice mini van or something, so I’d still have some space to lie down, etc.

The other good news, I’ve realized, is that part of the reason I am about to go completely bankrupt is because I spent a good chunk of money on a DELUXE DISNEYLAND PASS which, let me tell you, I do not need at all and conceivably might never get a chance to use again.

The other reason I’m going to be eating literal garbage in a few weeks is because I spend, mmm, ALL OF THE REST OF MY MONEY on books. I buy a lot of books. So many books that I probably don’t actually need because I have so many books I can’t get to them all quickly enough.

But, I remember one time this homeless guy asked me for a cup of coffee. I went to go buy him one and when I got back someone else had already gotten him one. I guess the point is, I feel like people are generous if you are desperate and charming. That guy had two more cups of coffee than I do, FOR FREE.

So I guess when I started thinking about it, I felt okay about everything. Sure, I could potentially blow an amazing opportunity by never coming up with anything good enough and also never address the aforementioned “real world realities” (“money to pay for things”) and end up completely destitute…

But in that scenario I’d still be living at Disneyland and having enough time at night to read all these books I’ve been wanting to get to, drinking coffee, and that sounds even better, to be honest.

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An Observation

I don’t think I know anyone who doesn’t claim to want to connect to other human beings. This is probably because I sometimes engage in social activities, and by their inherent nature it seems the others involved also have a predilection for various forms of communication.

However, I’ve noticed that my understanding of what it means to “get to know” others has been wildly off base.

You see, I was under the misconception that we are alive to understand those around us. I thought, incorrectly, that I was supposed to listen to what others have to say and ask questions. I mistakenly believed that if I took in other people’s stories, opinions, and impressions of the world then I would learn more about what it means to be human. Perhaps my biggest problem — I thought that if I attempted to share certain experiences with those I encountered — by helping them or showing them some basic level of respect, that my bonds would become deeper and more meaningful.

It seems this is not the case. I didn’t realize it until recently, but the point of being alive is to talk about yourself as much as possible. It doesn’t matter if you understand or know anything about anyone else, so long as they know explicit and important details about you. This is why the best people in life are famous. Everyone knows everything about them but they are not burdened with having to know anything about anyone else.

As for helping people, forget it. It’ll never matter. Instead, try to promote yourself in all cases. Never, ever put anyone before yourself. This is a sign of weakness. Only do things that are both convenient for you and sure to bring about more attention for yourself.

Helping people can be a tricky matter, but I’ve finally come to a realistic understanding of what it really means to “be there” for someone. Never offer sincere, thoughtful advice. This probably means you’ve been listening to the other person, and therefore not talking about yourself enough. Instead, do speak about yourself constantly but thinly veil your comments as things that could apply to the other person. For example, if you are lonely and miserable, and a friend is looking for “relationship” advice, inform them that all men are douchebags and that dating in LA is super hard. In this way, you are reflecting the reality of your world, and enforcing it upon theirs. Also, in talking about yourself when offering others “help,” you are simultaneously validating your own experiences, which is the whole point of being alive. Talking about you and what you’ve been through.

Other tid bits:

  • If you haven’t spoken to someone in a while, but need something from them, ask for it anyway.
  • Be aloof and indifferent towards everyone. This will make you seem mysterious, and also protect you from anyone who might have wanted to talk about themselves to you.
  • Be flaky. If you show up to things when you say you will, people will think you have nothing better to do. Instead, over-promise and under-deliver. This will make you seem important, and again, your absence will prevent you from having to do anything for anyone else except you. Only do things if they are both highly convenient and means of promoting yourself efficiently.
  • As far as romantic relations go, fuck ’em and leave ’em. Duh. A real relationship just means that someone else will be competing with you to talk about themselves all the time, and no one needs that.
  • Never let anyone make a choice you disagree with, even about where to eat for dinner. Forget compromise. It’s your way or the highway.
  • Be weird and refuse to make eye contact with people unless they are engaging in a conversation about yourself. This is along the same lines of being aloof and indifferent, but just more specific and effective.
  • Act like you’re the shit all the time, even if you secretly aren’t. Arrogance is just a better word for confidence.
  • Exclude others in activities, especially if their presence or interests are inconvenient to your own prerogatives. This isn’t about them having fun too, it’s about you being awesome and better than everyone else.
  • If you think someone might be better at you at something, treat them like shit so that they feel bad and give up. Then you can climb the ladder of success without anyone getting in the way. This is especially effective if you are manipulative and passive-aggressive. This way you can get your way all the time without initiating confrontation. If someone does try to accuse you of something, you can deflect their comments and tell them they’re crazy.
  • If people don’t do things for you all the time or if they ignore you in anyway, berate them for their poor behavior so they realize their mistakes and pay more attention next time.
  • If for some reason you do have to talk about other people, be sure just to bring up their flaws. This way, people will be reminded of how much better you are than said other person and listen more to what you have to say about yourself.
  • TALK ABOUT YOURSELF. If someone brings up anything, turn this topic into one that is about yourself. This shouldn’t be hard, since you are clearly an interesting and well-rounded person. However, if you find yourself in a rut where someone has the center stage and is talking about themselves, then just say some random non sequitur that has nothing to do with anything (except yourself). For example, if someone is going on and on about their dead mom, bring up some more pleasant fact like, “Oh, so I just bought a new dress.”

Ultimately this list might seem redundant, yet limited. There are a slew of other qualities you can have to ensure that you live a happy, fulfilling life in which you can really connect with other people. However, the basic theory remains the same in all cases: MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS ABOUT YOU. YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD.

(I acknowledge that this post reads like it could have been written by someone with Aspergers, but apparently I’m not normal so I guess it’s appropriate.)

The Sunscreen Song

This is more important to post:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Secrets to Life

Hey kids. Now I know, you’ve been surfing the internet for hours looking for the answers. How do I get what I want in life? How can I get everyone I meet to like me? Lucky for you, you’ve stumbled upon some random blog that just happens to be written by an extreme genius. I know pretty much everything there is to know about acquiring fame and/or fortune thus enabling you to finally be happy. Here are some secrets to (a successful) life. If you can learn and incorporate these strategies into your day-to-day activities and interactions then you’re sure to at least have friends and probably get that promotion (in two simple steps).

TAKE AN ACTING CLASS

“Acting? Pshaw!,” you say, “I want to be a corporate executive, surely acting has nothing to do with me?” Or, “Yeah, It’d be cool to be the lead opposite Jessica Alba, but I just don’t see it happening for myself. Isn’t that a waste of time?”

Well, no. First, if you want to be happy, you should probably pursue a career in acting no matter what. Someone French once said, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Hopefully your answer to that rhetorical question is, “become an A-List celebrity!” However, even if it isn’t, I can understand. Maybe you’re ugly! This is God’s fault, and understandably you come from a disadvantaged place. Maybe becoming an A-List celebrity seems impractical to you.

However, I am here to tell you that even the ugliest of us all can become what they call, “character actors.” Just look at Snookie from Jersey Shore. Acting classes can benefit anyone in this way, because there is always a need for someone to be ridiculous and easy to laugh at.

But, okay, okay. Somehow, maybe you just have no interest in the entertainment industry. Although foolish (people only like famous people or people who know famous people), this is a sentiment shared by 10% of the population, so you are not alone. Nonetheless, an acting class can still benefit you.

The person you are hardly matters. What does matter is the person other people think you are.

Here’s a (limited) list of qualities no one should have:

-Anxiety
-Insecurity
-Bad breath
-Awkwardness
-Depression
-Too emotional
-Needy/Clingy
-High strung/Controlling
-Lazy/Messy
-Demanding
-Etc.

Chances are, if you are alive, and especially if you are a woman, you have at least one if not more of these qualities. And without doubt, there are people who dislike you because you do inhabit one, if not many, of these negative qualities.

“They’re no picnic in the park themselves,” you say, “why should I be any different?”

It doesn’t matter how they are. They don’t care that they themselves are flawed. What matters most is that you are flawed. And don’t play coy, you want their attention and you want them to like you. And even if you don’t really care if they like you, there is definitely something you want from them. They can get you a job, or they can introduce you to someone you do like, or they are still another human being existing in this world who has the potential to like you and make you seem more worthwhile.

Thus, it is crucial that this person like you. And how are they going to like you? Not if you continue to be the miserable asshole you are. No, instead you are going to have to be perfect.

“I can’t be perfect,” you say, “that’s impossible. No one is.”

Fair enough. You aren’t that great, it’s true. And this is where acting comes in. Fake it ’til you make it. (You’ll never actually make it, so be sure to be great at faking it.) In learning how to embody another character (one who is a more likable human being than the one you are) you can get exactly what you want.

Learning how to smile and pretend to appreciate other people is probably one of the first things you will learn. These are indeed great skills. And overall, the more you can suffocate your real thoughts and feelings and replace them with those of a happy and interesting individual, the more people will actually want to talk to you. The better an actor you are, the easier this will be, and the more you can manipulate and con your way through life getting people to like you and then give you things you want.

TAKE A MARKETING CLASS

The only thing that really matters in life is advertisement. If you can understand and execute the philosophies of marketing, then you’re set.

“What about family and friends?” you wonder, “aren’t those the things that really matter?”

Friends come and go, but they usually go. Family dies and the only way you’ll ever create your own is if you find a person who wants to bone you, and even then you’re going to want to trick them into staying around long enough to help raise the kids (who might eventually grow up and realize they have a lot of reason to despise you).

Now, this might all seem “pessimistic” and “negative,” but those are just terms created by people in denial to hide from the truth. In fact, the above scenario is merely realistic.

“Okay, fine, I see your point, but what does this have to do with marketing? How is that going to help me avoid the inevitable tragedy of life?”

Marketing is your savior my friend, and here is why. Friends and family do matter. Careers do matter. But humans are fickle things. Consider the following:

I come up to you, having just met you and ask, “Can I have a hundred dollars?”

Unless you are amazingly generous, or retarded, which you probably aren’t, the answer is no.

Another, similar scenario; I come up to you, having just met you, and ask, “Will you marry me?”

Well, in this instance the answer would probably be yes, because I am stunningly beautiful. But, looks aside, you might be hesitant.

Why is this? Because people don’t give you things in this life without expecting something in return. You might give me a hundred dollars if I offered to babysit your kids in return. You might agree to marry me if you had known me for a period of time and come to the understanding that I could act as a sufficient replacement for your mother. Or, you might marry me because I would give you the gift of being able to look at me for the rest of your life.

This is where marketing comes in. To get what you want you have to be savvy and know what people want in return. Advertising yourself properly is key to your success. If you are valuable and invaluable to others, then you will have a much easier time getting what you want from them.

“I’m not really all that great though, what do I do?” you ask.

No worries. Marketing will save you. Think about any product, say, a shitty salad from Carl’s Jr. This salad is comprised of wilted lettuce, rotten apples, and cheap, mass-produced dressing. Doesn’t sound so appetizing, right?

How about now?

The reality is, most things in this world are shit. However, by creating a fantasy-version of that product you can entice people into wasting their money on it. You can do the same for yourself. If you advertise yourself as worthwhile and interesting, then chances are enough people will fall for it to give you the ability to charge more for yourself than you are worth. And by charge I don’t necessarily mean prostitution, although for that the same rules apply. Instead I mean that you can ask for more than you deserve. Learning how to act can help with your ability to advertise yourself, but knowing how to brand yourself is also crucial.

This is why terms like “jock,” “nerd,” “hottie,” and “goth” have become important parts of our culture. They are easy labels that give people a good understanding of what they can expect from you. Clothes are also important to this process. Your body and face are mutable, and can be presented in an infinite amount of ways. Even ugly people can try to pretend to be pretty thanks to make up and plastic surgery. Thus, it is important that you take the time to brand yourself and present yourself in the way you want the world to see you. What do you want from the world? What will the world expect from you in turn? Knowing the answers to these questions should guide you in your future marketing strategies.

Thus, in just two easy steps, learning to act and learning how to market yourself, you too can be the person other people want you to be, thus ensuring a life of fame, fortune, and clearly happiness.

A Single Man.

This isn’t so much a movie review, as it is a movie that made me think about shit. Normally, a long, slow, and stylistically pretentious movie would annoy me and send me walking out of the theater or at least wondering when it would be over. However, in this particular instance I was moved. Perhaps the change is just me? Maybe I am embracing my inner liberal arts degree. But this is unlikely because my own pretentious, self-aggrandizing view of life will hopefully remain a dark secret until I die.

This movie also made me want to be a professor. But then I realized that the truth was much more specific. I want to be gay Colin Firth giving poignant lectures that give the kid from About a Boy a boner.

Seriously though, I identified a lot with this movie in spite of my shortcomings (not being gay Colin Firth). I loved that the movie validated depression to an extent, or at least explored it in an honest way without commenting on it too much. I think as a society we try to erase it as quickly as possible. I feel like medications, in many cases (not all) are just a means of putting a blanket on the ugly part of life. Not that I want to be depressed or I want to wish that on anyone else. It isn’t healthy certainly to feel sorry for yourself and dwell in your misery. But I also feel like being sad is normal, but as a society we treat it as a mental condition that needs to be fixed. I don’t know if depression needs to be “fixed” (again, in most cases). I think what it needs to be is experienced and learned from. Not to sit in it, but to accept it more. Not medicate it, but try to grow from it and figure out what it’s telling us.

So I enjoyed (in a sympathetic way) watching Colin Firth and Julianne Moore struggle and cope with their lives. I’m probably much more like Julianne Moore — waiting for someone to save me (I’m trying to be there for myself more). Then again, I guess this is potentially okay since the alternative seems to be attempted suicide until someone “gets” you. And then you have a heart attack. (Spoiler…)

I also liked that the important things for these people were the human connections they made in their life. Lately I have felt like there is a de-emphasis on human relationships, or “real” ones. People have become relationship collectors… just trying to get to know people on a superficial level so they can have “contacts.” “Networking” is a term now, that sort of thing. I feel like the moments that really matter though are those that we share with people who evoke love, whatever that emotion might be. Sometimes it seems like love is uncool now. Hooking up is prevalent. Being guarded and alone is viewed as a “strength”. “Independence.”

Not to say that those aren’t good things. Despite how important it is to connect it also seems that to an extent we are all alone, or at least if we can’t be there for ourselves then it is unlikely anyone else can be. I suppose it’s about finding a balance. Learning to be there for yourself and finding inner peace but being willing to open up and accept people to come and go into your life.

I regret that this post wasn’t silly and is probably pretentious. I’m trying to write more and to think less. Hopefully (and more likely) no one reads this.

Weird Week.

For having been out of commission for so long, this week has been sufficiently weird.

Mostly it seems that I have learned an important life lesson in how to go with the flow while having faith in the future. What!? Crazy, I know. Several things didn’t “happen” and yet I felt at peace with all outcomes. On top of this, I maintained a sense of optimism that those things would “happen” when the time was right. Yeah. I know, right? Fucking crazy. I must be like an adult now or something.

The other thing was that connections were found between my past and present via Facebook. Which confirms that my life would be meaningless without this social networking tool. I am a sucker for “coincidences” and ties of these sorts. Everything happens for a reason? Six degrees of separation? Small world? YEAH. Fuck yeah. It all comes full circle. I guess.

Overall this week has felt like the conclusion to insanity and the introduction to a new-found, self-assured Jdog. Goodbye baggage from this year and last! I have purchased new luggage and now know how to pack more efficiently. I won’t be carrying around unnecessary hair dryers and bitches anymore. George Clooney has effectively thrown the pillows and trauma into the trash can. From now on I’m traveling on this journey with only essential business suits and confidence. The list of approved co-pilots is impressive and reliable. I’m excited to reach my future destinations, but I’m also looking forward to the ride because I hear I’ve been upgraded to business class. I really liked the salted nuts.

Honesty and Balance

For a blog that I intended to be filled with jokes and hilarious anecdotes, I am mostly just writing movie reviews and proposing some psychological quandaries. Both are usually feminist rants in disguise. It’s really disappointing for me. Not that I don’t love feminism. But did I lose my gift for dry humor? I can’t even muster a pun. The pictures are also becoming less and less, another disappointing fact considering I recognize how seeing things is much easier than reading them.

I’m taking this storytelling class still, and today was a day of honesty. I took full advantage of the opportunity, deciding to speak of perceived identities and my own defense mechanisms. Also I worry a lot.

I thought such exercises would be relieving. Because don’t people have an inherent need to be heard? It can’t just be me.

Instead, it wasn’t that relieving. It didn’t make me feel anxious, but it did make me feel weird and self-indulgent. I felt like, “I know I can say these things because the whole point is that other people think and feel these things too.” But then, I also felt like, how is this comedy? It felt more like an extra therapy session. All that growing as a person stuff.

Lately I feel like I am straying far from the path of jokes and hi jinks. I had thought that at least sarcasm was in my belt of tools. But it turns out when you talk about sarcasm openly and candidly it becomes much more difficult to utilize because it functions on insincerity and unsaid truths.

I have been a flood of honesty lately, even outside of class. Or at least, more than usual. Instead of making fun of myself and others I have been talking about TV shows. Instead of laughing at things that bother me I have been taking them seriously. For some reason in my attempt to reconcile with “things that happened” and “the person I am” I have been trying to address things straight on.

Similarly, in an attempt to find purpose I have been signing up for lots of classes and looking for jobs. The process has become more overwhelming than enlightening. I still have no purpose, but now I also seem to have responsibilities. Today I woke up at 11:45, ate breakfast, took a nap until 2:45, and then ate a burrito. My life purpose seems to resemble that of a bear anticipating the worst winter. Or in my case, work and classes and learning and coming to terms with my past and accepting who I am now.

Ultimately one of the things that I am learning is that I don’t really want to be me. Or maybe accepting who I am is also learning how to accept my inherent instinct to normally avoid this kind of helpful therapy. Up until recently I had been finding great ways to sweep my problems under the rug by distracting myself with new problems and to mask my feelings with untrue things. But now I am caught up in a wave of being honest and sincere, and to be honest it’s kind of driving me crazy.

I feel vulnerable in this whole process of opening up and dealing with shit and so of course it’s uncomfortable. And it’s also hard to switch off. And I do love sarcasm, even though I normally would never admit that I love sarcasm because it’s an unsarcastic thing to say that you love sarcasm. I just want that back, I think. I miss the banter and the feeling of control. Honesty, in theory, seems like a great way to take control of your life and feel empowered. In practice, it is the opposite.

The truth is I need to find a balance. Or maybe I just need to exercise and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Either way it sounds like just another challenge in a life full of growing up and learning to be a capable adult. It sucks. And I’m disappointed that instead of going through a rebellious teen phase of live rock concerts and drugs that I was just an accidental albeit awkward lesbian for a few years. I got nothing out of my system and instead I added more problems to my repertoire. Balance: it’s not lesbianism, but it’s something else. Walking the line between being a real person and a comedian. Figuring it out. Not taking things seriously, but then taking some things seriously because they are serious but learning how to laugh at most other things.

Either that or apparently ecstasy is great for this kind of stuff, for the low cost of one ice cream scoop of your brain!