0

Thanks a Lot, Everything..

That awkward moment when you tell yourself to step up your game and you realize you’re already at the top of it. And there is nowhere to go from there other than facing your own stupidity.

Oh also? ALSO? I have a short story deadline. Got 7th in this international (I always use that qualifier) competition back in the summer and now the bitches (ie some guy named Ken. KEN ffs..) keep emailing me (I figure they email all winners personally, 1-10) and remind me that this huge story competition is now underway and won’t I please enter it? And in a moment of pure exhaustion end up emailing him back with a succinct “bitch, please. I am on my last leg this week and going, no fuck the niceties, DRIVING, to Chicago friday afternoon. When am i supposed to write the damn thing? During a pee-and-stuff at a random Wendy’s?” which is exactly what I will probably end up doing because, hello, three grand.

GREAT. NOW I WANT WENDYS.

Thanks a lot, everything..

… Ok so i am paraphrasing the email.. it was more like “I really appreciate the consideration but i am etc..”

And i’ll probably just end up pulling a wine-and-redbull-allnighter because THIS IS THE DREAM. And slowly it’s happening.

If i were a smart person (see above) I’d take the easy route and write a blog about how angry the world makes me a la Peter Griffin’s “Ya know what really grinds my gears?”. And get a book deal out of it. But nah… I have to be an idiot and take the classical “Enter competitions until I have enough wins under my belt to land a decent agent” nonsense.

There are a number of writers I have to thank *blame* for this approach..

But in all seriousness (just for a second..) the latter approach is the way to do it. Because it’s all about the quality of the agent. Quality agents, by and large, still adhere to the classical methodology of wanting to see industry-recognized results BEFORE they sign a writer. A blog is not a result. A blog is more like a means to an end. A win is a result.

Damn man I am getting too old for this crap…

So to sum up: You know what really grinds my gears? The fact that this entire time i was bitching to you, my 2 followers, i could have been writing…. See? STUPID.

Excuse me..

5

Wrecking Ball Feminism

About a decade ago, low-brow, middle aged profiteers were feeling concerned about the sudden, strong mistrust surrounding the Sex Sells cultural giant. Suddenly, people were starting to realize that degrading young women for profit was flat-out unacceptable. People were starting to demand SUBSTANCE and INTELLIGENCE from the female protagonists in their lives. Whatever was a cheap entertainment industry that, itself, had neither substance nor intelligence, to do?

So after what I’m sure were dozens of late night emergency brainstorms over cold Thai food, these same low-brow, middle aged profiteers  decided that, rather than fight the inevitable, this “cute little feminist trend” would be a fabulous thing to exploit and a marketing master plan was born. Female empowerment did not have to be the enemy of entertainment if they could just subtly and cleverly shift the definition of empowerment to mean the exact opposite of what it was supposed to.

Welcome to Wrecking Ball Feminism. Where women who are tired of being treated like sandwich-making, beer-getting, bitch-slapped prostitutes are convinced by a series of very clever male-centric marketing ploys, that being treated like a prostitute is empowering.

This is not to be confused with the very substantial truth that assault is assault and abuse is abuse, no matter how a woman (or man) chooses to dress. A miniskirt is not an invitation for sexual assault or even sexual insult. Unless your knuckles drag when you walk, this is something that should be well understood in today’s culture. The right to dress in a way that makes you comfortable is not the issue here. Women and a good deal of the men who love them were already up in arms about this truism. Hell, they were angry enough to stage parades. The idea that clothing does not imply consent was a topic on fire, and rightly so. But my oh my, what a great place to start from a creepy, misogynistic marketing perspective!

And this is where the beast would sink its teeth. They already had a firm support base of well-meaning individuals and those individuals seemed to hold some semblance of cultural influence. The entire marketing base was ready-made and waiting for them. All they had to do was exploit it.

Women are more objectified in today’s media than ever before. We are more degraded, more two dimensional, more foolish. But we have been told that, hey, it’s ok. A woman should be able to be a “slut” if she really wants to. (And fuck am I getting sick and tired of that word…) That to even suggest that someone is trying to harm her or to pimp her is now somehow anti-feminist. “Miley Cyrus is a strong, empowered young woman and that’s why she is a model for today’s strong, empowered young women! You can tell how empowered and strong she is by how she allowed a pack of 40 year old profiteers to convince her that being naked on a wrecking ball was empowering.”

Marketing like this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. As someone who cut her teeth in the marketing world, this is sleazy marketing 101. Take something that is important to your target demographic and change its definition to suit your agenda.

This is nothing new. Look at how religion has been warped and twisted over the years by this very same technique. You think major world religions started off as hateful excuses for carnage, death and subjugation? Absolutely not. They started off as a peaceful means of protest against hateful excuses for carnage, death and subjugation.

We humans are terrible at learning from our mistakes, mostly because we still don’t quite understand them.

The worst thing about all this is that it is a blow, a MAJORLY POWERFUL and TARGETED blow, for feminism. There is a group of creepy little men out there that are successfully convincing the average mind that feminism is not real feminism unless the woman is being objectified in the process, to the extent that those who speak against this monster are now being accused of misogyny.

Being used and abused is not a form of self-empowerment, even if you think it’s what you want. And quite frankly, I find the trend of saying it is to be profoundly disturbing. There is a world of ruling class douchebags who will subtly tell you to dance for their nickels and make you really, really believe that it was your choice all along. And worse than that, they will make you believe that by objectifying yourself for their amusement, you are somehow empowering yourself and the people you feel you represent. To the point where you will accuse those of trying to return you to your true self-empowerment of keeping you back, holding you down. It is reminiscent of the “black tv shows” of the early to mid 1990s that the average white guy believed empowered black people by slamming their two dimensional stereotypes on network television as a cheap laugh for the honkys. We know this now, we’ve finally figured it out. That wasn’t cool. At all. But to have brought this up in the 90s was about as good an idea as branding your forehead with a swastika. To speak out against network racism was racist.

Marketing 101.

You have been brainwashed into supporting the very culture of hate and abuse you claim to despise.

There is no “right” way to be an empowered female other than to live your life the way you feel comfortable living your life. If all women could do that, there would be no need for feminism in the first place. We need to stop allowing men to define feminism.

0

Hostage situation

I am jealous of the leagues of bullshit writers out there who think they’re good writers. Because I decided tonight to look back on the stuff I’ve written over the years. And things i thought were the best things I’ve ever done are just a total disjointed pile of steaming dogshit. And now i’m just sitting here and crying over a casserole of nonsense that represents the “talent” you well meaning people insisted i had. Thanks for trying.. And i love you for that.

I envy those of you with arrogance. I wish i had enough of it. It would make being a writer a whole lot easier. No, I’m not fishing for a complement. No complement on earth is going to erase the huge, tangled mess of words I’m staring at right now. Do you know I have over a thousand pages of content? And none of it worth the pixels it takes up? I’m looking at this thing and it’s like.. damn man.. It’s like i’ve taken the english language at gunpoint and forced it to try and accurately represent me. This isn’t writing. This is a hostage situation.

I don’t think i’ve ever used social media to puke out my current emotional state but you guys? This is bad. This is about as bad as it gets. The worst thing about all of this is that deep underneath this twisted bucket of pretension and nonsense is actually a half decent talent that will never, ever see the light of day because i’m just too damn stupid.

I’m not sad so don’t try to make me feel better. Tell me a joke or something like that. I enjoy a good joke. Or better yet give me a cogent and sensible plotline. Because i have no clue what i’m doing.

0

5 Things People Call Bullying That Aren’t Actually Bullying

Bullying used to be just an unpleasant part of childhood. Like curfew or pimples, it was this rite of passage that almost every kid in every generation speaks of with this bittersweet, nostalgic fondness crafted over years of character development and getting the hell over themselves. But then somewhere along the line, somebody decided that childhood’s most grevious annoyance should become a matter of not only public record, but public outrage.

I have to admit, as a bullied kid myself, at first? I was on board with this. Hell yeah, I thought, somebody finally standing up for the nerdy, awkward little guys who, try as they might, can’t always cut it socially. Sure, I thought, kids might still get picked on or teased but at least somebody will finally put a stop to the reign of terror fraught by those swirlie-giving, cat-killing kids who eventually grow up to be serial killers.

I never thought for a second that it would disintegrate into what it has become. Complex legal battles over the use of the word “fucktard”. Grown adults threatening lawsuits over a difference of opinion. We have, in our typical style of not giving a flying fuck about our own dignity, turned what could have been a righteous and ethical campaign toward human enlightenment into a cesspool of wolf-crying bullshit where everyone, everywhere is guilty of being the most horrific bully known to man for simply asserting themselves.

Most people today will now mistake assertion for aggression. And this has not only produced a really fucking annoying Victim Culture. It has also produced a new generation of aggressors who protest sensationalization of victims by becoming as asinine, stupid and obnoxious as possible.

In a sentence, our oversensitivity to every fucking thing has produced a platform of pussies standing off against an army of dumbasses. And nothing actually being done to help the kids (and adults) who actually NEED it.

If you feel like you’re being bullied, refer to this list. Because there is a chance that you’re just being an hypersensitive, overentitled fuckbucket.

1. Your opinion is disregarded as foolish

I can’t tell you how many times i’ve run across this clownshit crazy phenomenon. To simplify, here is a use case, perhaps a bit over-exaggerated but when i’m pissed off, i’m given to hyperbole so roll with it.

Person A: I think all gay people should go straight to hell

Person B: Not only are you wrong, that’s a fucking nasty thing to say, you dick.

Person A: You can’t just bully my beliefs like that because <intolerance>!

Now. What the actual fuck just happened there? Lots of you reading this are going to say “It’s never that simple…” Some of you will say “But but but.. beliefist tolerance…!” and still others, many on the LGBT side, are gonna say “Well person A is actually the bully!”

You’re all fucking wrong. (which takes me to point B but i’m getting ahead of myself)

Here’s how conversations like this work. Person A thinks that gay people should go to hell. Now in my personal opinion, Person A is a dillhole. Plain and simple. Person A is being offensive to my beliefs. Also plain and simple. But to person A, their stupid, offensive belief is important. He or she beliefs that this information is important shit for people to know. And person A is stating that belief because something in their twisted universe triggered them to try and help humanity in their own twisted way.

However, person B has every fucking right to be offended and has every fucking right to disagree with Person A’s opinion.

The name of this activity is “Debating”.

There is this weird thing going on in the world right now where people are being raised to believe that “the right to an opinion” automatically comes with an equally weighted right to not have that opinion questioned under any circumstances. Person A will counter a rebuttal with something idiotic like “I have ever right to my opinion!” which is absolutely irrelevant because it automatically proves that Person B automatically has that same right to their own opinion. If someone tells you your opinion is stupid, they aren’t a monster out to squash your right to free speech. They are ALSO an autonomous person with their OWN opinions that have nothing to do with you or your right to express yours.

The problem here is that people lately are being raised with a bizarre idea that they are the only thinking, feeling, opining creature in the universe and everything else just exists as a prop in the great Movie of Me. There is a two way street with freedom of expression and that means for every opinion you bleat out, no matter how sensible or how ridiculous it might be, the world has a right to counter that with any old rebuttal it sees fit short of threats. Even if that opinion is something that makes you want to puke.

IN FACT…

If you are not allowing someone to express their opinion because your rights and beliefs are so damn important, then YOU are the bully. YOU are making the assumption that your rights trump all other people’s rights. And that is the definition of a bully. No matter WHAT side of the debate you’re on.

2. You are being objectively evaluated

I don’t have kids yet. But i have a niece. I love her. She’s awesome. She’s one of the smartest people i know. And not in some sort of “per-capita-taking-age-into-consideration” garbage. I mean genuinely, this kid is probably smarter than most of you reading this right now. And one day this kid brought home some weird-ass shit.

There is this pile of nonsense floating around the school system lately. Known by its ‘medical’ name as “No Child Left Behind”, people with even a modicum of common sense know it better as “That bullshit rule that allows chronic fuckups to advance academically regardless of performance.”

This mysterious entity known as the Education System (which, as far as i can tell, is pretty much a bunch of dumb fucks, that have not only forgotten the point of education but of childhood in general) have deemed it “counter-productive to healthy ego development” (or some stupid shit) to alert a child to their shortcomings. So a kid who understands 30% of the year’s material is advanced right along with kids who understand 90% of the material because “red pens make kids sad“. It has nothing to do with the fact that a kid actually has no firm grasp of the material. Fuck that! The color red is responsible for all of our failures in life.

My niece, genius that she is, told my sister that, no, actually she didn’t have to really worry about doing ALL her homework.. after all, she’d pass no matter what, right? So what’s the point? My sister firmly explained to this child “If you complete less than 50% of your assigned work, you will repeat the grade. I will see to that personally.”

Now, entitled fools that really don’t give a good god damn about their kids beyond appearances would say my sister is a bully. But in reality, my sister just gives a fuck about her child’s education and wants to make sure that little girl has the best edge possible. Given her brain, she’ll have lots of doors open for her later if she doesn’t fuck up now.

She knows full well that raising a generation of entitled dumbasses, we are, as a result, raising a generation of people who feel like they don’t have to do shit to survive. Who don’t feel like paying a power bill is ‘fair’ because fuck the power company. I am a delinquent consumer because bills make me sad. Who don’t feel like paying back a credit card debt is important because “banks are all fucking bullies anyway.”

No shit banks are bullies. So why would you take out a loan from a bully? Or, for that matter, why would you turn in work that you spent twenty minutes bullshitting together? I’ll tell you why. Because in getting that free ride, you were endowed with horrible coping skills and horrible critical thinking skills that don’t offer you any ability whatsoever to think ahead about the consequences of your own actions.

IN FACT….

Adulthood is basically like Tron, just with crappier cars. And if you’re not preparing your kids for that, you’re an asshole. Unless your kid has a million dollar trust fund lying in wait, the chances of a kid like this surviving in an increasingly consumerist, money-driven society are almost nothing. And given the level of personal entitlement you’re endowing your poor kids with, I doubt a trust fund will keep them going very long either.

3. You are told to shut the fuck up already

We all knew that kid. Truth be told, i probably was that kid sometimes myself. That know-it-all asshole who just lives to mess with people. Who gets inside the heads of mainstream children, sniffs out their most grievous pet peeves, and exploits the hell out of them.

I’m not gonna say it’s the annoying kid’s fault. As an aspergers kid, I understand the personality flaws that come with being an aspergers kid. In the 80s and 90s, i think we were known as nerds. We knew something about everything and made a loud, obnoxious point of bringing it up all the fucking time because it was fucking interesting, goddamnit.

To people in their 30s it was indeed interesting. Aspergers kids tend to have a lot of friends over the age of 30. But to anyone under the age of 18, it was just tedious. They weren’t where we were. Socially they were beyond us. But intellectually they were far, far below. I’m not being an arrogant jerk. That’s just the reality. Aspergers-type kids are really fucking smart kids with huge, expandable minds just bouncing with plasticity and curiosity. Childhood can’t contain that brain. And unfortunately, childhood fights back.

Now… lots of less annoying smart kids are picked on, GENUINELY bullied and tormented because they are intelligent, quiet, given to life’s less boisterous pleasures. Whatever. This is not the scenario I’m referring to. I’m referring to that kid who just won’t shut up. I know how many bones are in a pterodactyl. I can tell you how hot any given point on the sun is. I can talk backwards. I can count to a billion by pi. You shouldn’t use an apostrophe there.

And in the face of this tidal wave of useless information, you inevitably get this kid (who isn’t some sort of sociopathic monster prone to shit and terror) who finally can’t take it anymore and says “Dude, shut up. You’re being annoying.”

It’s all over Facebook these days. A kid gets told “you’re annoying” by someone who, typically, is a pretty nice youngster. A pretty nice youngster who just wants to enjoy childhood and not have to spend all day hearing about the finer points of dinosaur anatomy, early Gnostic christian diets or the finer points of the Oort cloud.  The pretty nice youngster doesn’t mean anything devastating but to an Aspergers kid, it can have a pretty devastating effect. And this little mini Carl Sagan goes home, tries to hang him or herself and the world is suddenly up in arms about how sad it is that this brilliant kid with lots of promise was bullied to the point of wanting to commit suicide.

The reality is that this normally nice kid who finally said “dude, just shut UP already..” hasn’t done a damn thing wrong. This kid is tired of listening to the little brainiac motormouth go on and on. They want some space, some peace and quiet, some time to be a kid. They are honestly just trying to get the person to stop talking for five seconds and far from dunking any heads in any toilets, they say so, honestly, candidly and succinctly. Trust me. I’ve seen myself talk on old family movies. I’d tell me to shut the fuck up too. I give MYSELF a headache.

Telling someone to just shut up and give you some space isn’t bullying. It’s an honest evaluation of how much you’re annoying them.

IN FACT….

People have every right to tell you to cool it if you’re driving them bonkers. Just because you don’t perceive yourself to be annoying, doesn’t mean you CAN’T be annoying sometimes. Keep that in mind. Listen more and talk less. Be understanding of the needs of people around you and save your endless chatter for those who welcome it. And if absolutely nobody is listening to your endless prattle, do what I did and write an article for Cracked.

4. You are the recipient of some much-needed karma

Some people can be huge dicks. In high school this equates to bragging about your dad’s car, purposefully stealing your friend’s boyfriend, insulting someone’s shoes. Making everything all about you. It’s not that different in the adult world either, come to think of it, save for the fact that most adult selfishness involve resources that actually matter, like time or money.

People don’t like that shit. If everybody dislikes you, there is a chance you’re a douchebag. It’s not so cut and dry for kids. It’s trendy to have that one kid who nobody is supposed to like and that sucks. But as you get older, if you are perpetually at the center of drama, chances are you’re causing a good deal of it.

Eventually people get tired of a selfish prick. And they start excluding this person from their lives. This person, because they’re a selfish prick, assume they are being unfairly singled out out of malice, jealousy or spite because given their inflated sense of their own importance, what other reason could there possibly be?

People have every right not to like you. And if everyone is exercising that right, you should really take some time and examine why that might be.

IN FACT…

if you’re constantly making others bit players in the epic tale of your own selfishness, you’re probably an actual bully.

5. You are physically or sexually violated

So i saved this one for last. I want to focus for a second on the Reteah Parsons case. This happened in my home city. Close to my actual house. A few blocks away. No shit.

Society didn’t want to blame itself. So it did what society does best. It attached a trendy buzzword to a horrific crime in a last-ditch attempt to take any culpability whatsoever off of anybody whatsoever.

They called it ‘bullying’.

Listen right now girls and boys. If somebody fucking rapes you while you’re passed out drunk, makes a video of the activity and then posts it online for the world to see, you haven’t been bullied.

You’ve been criminally violated.

Calling this bullying is like calling Ted Bundy a schoolyard pest. It’s offensive, powerfully dismissive and completely inaccurate.

There is this space around your body. Think of it like a bubble. If some shithead gets inside that bubble and you don’t want them there, they are committing a crime. They’re not “bullies”, they’re blatant sociopaths who need to be removed from normal society so they can have their nuts fed to rabid dogs.

But i guess this goes back to #2… We can’t damage children’s precious self esteem and I guess that caveat includes prosecuting sociopaths who go around raping up the countryside. Anonymous took four hours to solve a crime police claimed lacked evidence.

How’s that for bullying?

There is no IN FACT here. This is very simple. If someone does anything like this to you, don’t let anyone make you think you are a mere victim of schoolyard bullying.

You have been raped and physically assaulted. Do whatever you have to do. My back is turned on whatever karma you choose to inflict at this point.

1

Rabid Bulldog

You guys? I’ve thought this over and i think the best thing for everybody is if i just sell out, write a crappy bestseller, take the revenue and drift into relative obscurity until i’m an old lady screaming at fast-moving traffic with an aging bulldog and a confederate army pistol by my side. And when people say “what the hell is your problem, you nasty old reptile??” I’ll say “Suck my balls i wrote a book once.” And then they’ll say “Yeah? What book?” and i’ll tell them and then they’ll ask “So… were the first few chapters really just part of Roderigo’s dream?” and i’ll say “I gotta take my pills. Go away” and then my bulldog, French Fry, will bite their ankle.

I’ve spent a good number of years trying to figure things out. Which is just hipster for “There is only one thing I’m good at doing in the entire goddamned world and for some fucking reason, I’m too…” (What? Proud? Embarrassed? Shy? Cantankerous?) “to do it.”

Most people are lucky. They are good at lots of things but their dream is to be a tortured genius. Their dream is to follow some fantasmagoria of creativity and die alone in an apartment with only the musky odour of cat piss and loneliness to usher them into the next world. But they’re not very good at that. So they do the things they’re good at and find out “Hey, life as an accountant/programmer/doctor/teacher/garbage man isn’t so bad after all!” and by some miracle, do everything right. Stay out of debt. Settle down by 28. Have lots of babies. Buy a house and eventually die.

Then there are other people. Those people who know there is something about them that is… well the politically correct term is “unique” but the REALITY is more like… “a little peculiar”. Who aren’t good at anything really. Except that ONE THING. They’re like weird idiot savants… who really DO want that secure job, the quiet life, the four stupid kids who’ll run you ragged and bleed you dry before taking the last of your pathetic old age pension and head for the hills to start their own mediocre lives. These are the people who, after getting kicked out of school for being retarded, kicked out of the army for being anatomically incorrect and finally wind up in a patent office where they sit every day thinking “What’s the point of all this?” finally realize that Life, The User Guide, was not written for them. (And no.. i’m not comparing myself to Einstein. Well.. maybe I am. But in the most unflattering way possible.)

These are the people who just CAN’T do things the way most people do things. Because there is something else they have to do.

That wouldn’t be so bad. Being a tortured genius, i mean it sounds good on paper. Lots of things sound good on paper. “Bacon-infused sugar pizza” sounds good on paper but let me tell you now, eat just ONE of those motherfuckers and your mistake will fast become clear. My brain sees no problem with eating a giant disc of dough covered in bacon, maple syrup and truffle oil (yes. I’ve actually eaten this.) but my stomach, the reality check of my entire existence, is always swift to tell me otherwise.

Society is kind of like my stomach. The bacon-infused sugar pizza of my “gift” is not something it wants to contend with. Society, when you think about it, is sort of a dick. It wants great minds to push it forward in a neverending deluge of human progression but does not want to support the process necessary to achieve this. It wants those great minds of every generation to shit their brilliance out, quietly and effortlessly, after putting in an 8 hour day doing a job they can’t stand to come home to an empty house because, shit you guys, they have to CONTRIBUTE more than the average person. They owe it to their aggressors, their naysayers. Their tormentors.

They are held to a higher standard than the rest of you. Being hated for being weird implies great responsibility. 

I think the sheer volume of digestive similes I’ve puked out so far (yeah? Did you see how i did that?) should give even the average reader the strong impression that I feel like I’m being eaten alive. And I do. It’s not enough that you won’t let the “gifted” (again, i prefer the word “peculiar” but whatever…) folks of this world do the work they have to do to make you feel like humanity isn’t a giant waste of time, you then take credit for what they have achieved as if it is a cumulative outcome of humanity’s Great Brilliance. How many times do I see some moron on facebook post a quote from Einstein, Twain or even fucking Kafka as a way of trying to justify their own existence? To say “Look what I have somehow inexplicably achieved. I have not only hit the ‘share’ button,  I UNDERSTAND the impact of these words. Therefore I am an important PIECE of history.”

When the reality is that in any given day, you people encounter countless Einsteins and Twains – maybe not Kafkas because well… there aren’t many of them out there. Thank god. – and you scorn the shit out of them. And it’s because of the scorn of the masses that these people are able to eventually rise above everything they’re ever told is wrong with them or, better yet, CAPITALIZE on what they’re told is wrong with them, to dog-ear their OWN pages in history. That’s not you. You didn’t do that. THEY did that. Greatly sacrificing their reputation with society in order that one day society can take credit for the things they had to overcome it to achieve.

So why do these great minds owe you, society, anything at all? Why don’t they say “fuck this shit” and do what i plan to do. Write crappy bestsellers, rabid bulldogs by their side?

Here’s the secret. Those minds don’t owe you shit. They do it for the same reason most of you have those four kids. They do it for the same reason you go out and get hammered on a friday night so you can fail the YMCA mime without feeling like a jackass. They do it for the same reason most of you go to the bathroom.

They can’t help it.

For the love of god.. just let me write. If you, society, will just allow me to do that and absolve me of any other fiscal or social human responsibility, I will, in turn, create something that your kids can one day feel like they were a part of.

Just please.. leave me be. Don’t force me to join you for the bad when none of you want me around for the good. Let me live apart from your boring nonsense. If you want people who can’t do anything else to lift themselves above the day-to-day crap the rest of you thrive on, then LET US, for the love of god. Don’t make it so hard for us to hang on to the edges of your world.

interracting

0

Christmas Turkey Guts

Writing is about adventure.

We didn’t have Experiences growing up. My mother was afraid of them. We never had a real family vacation because she was afraid of flying so in order to get anywhere, we pretty much had to rely on the family car. And for a family that doesn’t enjoy being together for protracted periods of time, the Family Car was less a chariot to adventure and more a chamber of misery and leg cramps. So of course, we never really went anywhere unless you count a road trip to Tennessee when I was ten. Somewhere around Pennsylvania, I punched my sister in the face for trespassing on my side of the car. When my dad asked me what the holy hell that was all about, I remember distinctly saying “because we’ve been in a car for four days when we could have flown here in four hours. It’s hot, this car smells like feet and I’m pissed off. Damnit.” and I remember thinking, in a moment of rare wisdom and clarity probably uncharacteristic for a ten year old that not only did open cursing just get its first pilot run, I had accurately and openly addressed concerns with some degree of articulate cogency. Of course, along with that was the flash of plain, naked fear that came from the knowledge that I was about to Get It. There were two things that were loudly discouraged in my family: cuss words and cynicism. Really it was safest to shy away from all forms of honesty other than tattling and confession. Observation was something that was not done in our house. Observational honesty mixed with my family created a chemistry that was very unstable. Complaints were wrong. Criticisms were dismissed and Observations were usually only halfway out before one or both of them interrupted in such a way that didn’t only imply my thoughts weren’t important but, had mastered the art of demonstrating that, in that moment, I didn’t exist.

So it’s no real surprise that on that ill-fated odyssey that I decided to do two things. Act out like a motherfucker and start keeping a diary. “Decided” might be the wrong word. On day two of the trip, after loudly mourning that I had forgotten to pack any “damn comics”, my father handed me a set of headphones and a journal and said “Make it work”. And I liked it. At first I just liked the bubble it created between me and everyone else. It took me a few days to figure out that, most importantly, that journal was a place where I could say everything I was thinking and not get kicked under a table at Denny’s because “the fucking syrup tastes like bee piss.” In that blue book, I could feel however I wanted about my surroundings. I could capture and harness any crazy scenario raging inside my twisted little head and not have it called “foolishness”. I could observe the world around me without being told I was seeing it all wrong.

Most ten year old girls don’t know themselves well but I REALLY didn’t know myself. At all because to a large extent I was discouraged from being myself. Not using whatever gifts I had was unacceptable but using them (and at that age you’re using any genius you may or may not have purely in instinct) was Tedious. Annoying. Tiresome. Actually that was probably the word I heard the most. I, the human being, was Tiresome. That was pretty much all I knew about myself. But between the pages of that blue book, I was able to realize why I was so tiresome. Because I craved everything. New experiences, adventure, change, chaos, spicy food, air travel. I craved a plot. And i wanted to achieve these things by watching the world very closely and then telling it exactly what I thought of it.

Criticism is a spiritual process to someone who has opinions in the same way eating is a spiritual process to someone who has an appetite. They’re kindred activities. You smell it. You crave it. You savour it and then you wind up bloated, tired and a little scared of what you’ve just done. But like having one too many helpings of turkey every year, you relish the simple, slutty honesty of it all. And every year you go back for a third helping even though you know you’ll wind up passed out on the couch with your pants undone. You keep going back. Because it’s good for the soul.

Whether you’re submerged in critical theory or gravy, the most important piece of advice I can give you is wear pants with an elastic waist.