Tag: unsolicited advice

The Morning After Stage of Life: Unsolicited (but sound) Advice

hard partying Wendover

I’ve entered the harsh morning-after stage of my life and I’ve got some solid advice for those who haven’t crashed on the floor of their youth yet to wake up with worms in their mouths and strangers drinking from their sinks:

1.  If you don’t have a strong sense of curiosity, you better cultivate that shit before your brain mummifies in the arid desert of your disinterest.

2.  If you hate insects you but your dearest dream is to become an entomologist – you’ve got some crazy-ass wires not connecting in your head and it’s time to find a new dream.

3.  There is no situation in which giving up your autonomy of person to another person is going to pay off in empowerment and anyone who promises that if you give it up to them you’ll know true love/power/spirituality is lying their power-hungry asses off so they can take your light off of you. Walk away from those assholes and fight like fucking hell to hang onto yourself.

4.  If you’re allergic to shellfish, don’t eat shellfish motherfucker.

5.  Always trust your first instinct.

6.  Sometimes the people who reject you because you’re not perfect have herpes.

7.  The trick to motivating yourself to do things you don’t want to do is realizing that most of the things you don’t want to do aren’t as bad as being shot in the gut by a 9 mm bullet and left to bleed out in an alleyway full of human excrement and cockroaches.

8.  No matter what else is going on in your life or how much things are falling apart – ALWAYS BRUSH YOUR TEETH IN THE MORNING WHEN YOU GET UP AND AGAIN BEFORE YOU GO TO SLEEP.

9.  Fake mustaches fix nothing. NOTHING.

10.  Always be kind to homeless people. Even if they’re panhandling and you haven’t got any change to give them, look them in the eye, tell them you haven’t got anything and wish them good luck. Smile at them. Statistics can prove that that could be you one day.

11.  The most precious commodity you can possess is the ability to see beauty through people’s vast imperfections, both physical, mental, and spiritual. Walk through your day with the humility of a human who knows its own small shadow and be open to seeing gorgeousness in all the humans you pass. If you can’t see physical beauty in the unconventional faces and bodies, you’re fucked. You’ll never see the hearts and experience inside of them.

12.  Be kind to people who hate board games, they’ll be loyal to you for life if you never pressure them to play and you don’t own a gun.

13.  Everyone has to break at least one promise they’ve made. The human who hasn’t done so simply hasn’t gotten there yet. It’s healthy to feel remorse about it. It’s healthy to move on. Learn to give yourself a fucking break.

14.  If forgiveness isn’t part of your life ethos then you’re a fucking asshole to yourself more than anyone else. This isn’t my first harsh morning on earth and I can tell you that forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and to others.

15.  Guilt is useless if you don’t learn from it and move on. It becomes a corrosive self indulgence if you let it take the wheel of your Mustang.

16.  Pretty sure even Jesus curses mosquitoes, so don’t sweat it if you find yourself cursing bankers, double standards, and weak beer.

17.  Always dress and undress in the proper order.

18.  STOP MAKING NOISES THAT MAKE ME FEEL HOMICIDAL.

19.  You feeling horny and no one wants to get funky with your body? MASTERBATE, DON’T RAPE!

20.  You like polka dots and stripes and plaid and you want to wear them all at the same time? YOU’RE PRETTY MUCH MY KIN AT THIS POINT AND IF THAT SCARES YOU – IT REALLY SHOULD!@!(*^&^e$&$#$%%*(&^(*

21.  If you’re in a city where a natural disaster has struck and you aren’t helping the older folks get supplies, I’m pretty much going to have to kill you.

22.  Develop your own yardstick for success. From scratch. Preferably from an organic 50 year old piece of drift wood you found on the beach.

23.  Don’t expect the people who love you to support your crime spree.

24.  If you know how to pirouette, don’t hold back! Do it in the rain, do it in the Walmart parking lot, do it for yourself when you’re alone in your room and in deep despair and your heart is breaking – pirouette your fucking toes off for all of us who can never stand that tall or spin like that.

25.  Write your own eulogy. If you don’t do it someone else will and they’ll find a way to mention gonads even if you don’t have any just because it’s all about them anyway and your spirit can’t rest with that bullshit floating around the pulpit.

25.5  Love. Just love everyone the best you know how, including and especially your absolutely wholly flawed self. You’re beautiful, you freak.

 

Don’t Use the Word “Negro” Unless You Are 167 Years Old

I wish I felt as shiny as the crosses on The Church of Saint Rachel.  I seem to have caught myself a cold.  Or just a cough.  I can’t tell yet.  My chest is congested but my head is fairly clear.  I think people aren’t covering their mouths when they cough in front of their computers and I’ve gotten sick digitally.

(I’m sure I couldn’t have gotten it from my mom who’s had a wicked bad cough for over a week and a half now.)

This week was punctuated by a conversation I started on facebook about the word “titties”.  I dislike the word.  I stated that I think it’s one of the worst words in the world.  I didn’t think deeply about it – I heard a food blogger say “titties” in a post and I was much struck with how awful it sounds.  This is the power words have – to have an immediate impact on the person reading or hearing them.  But talking about words is interesting because when you start digging for explanations for your strong reactions to them – there’s often an underlying rational reason for disliking or loving a word or expression.  So a conversation was launched which organically evolved into a debate about whether words can actually be “bad” which withered into a discussion about political correctness and how an acquaintance of mine thinks “negro” is a perfectly acceptable way to refer to a black person.

I know what you’re thinking “Maybe he ‘s a hundred and sixty seven year old civil war veteran.”

I assure you this is a man younger than me who apparently hasn’t gotten the memo yet that words are powerful and white people should never call black people “negros” because it brings up a whole emotional cocktail of cultural memories of tar and feathering and burning crosses and slavery and – so much disregard for the rights and the feelings and the humanity of the black people in this country.  This young man argued that “negro” is simply the Spanish word for “black” and words are just words and are just a means of communication.

He said he feels totally comfortable using the word “negro” to refer to black people.  I wish I had asked him if he actually DOES this but I won’t because I had to shut down the conversation and block him from seeing any more of my posts so I won’t yell at him.  He claims to have no patience with all this political correctness crap and refuses to play along with it.

I have to tell you that this whole conversation upset me so much that I got knots in my stomach.  I promise I did listen to his point of view and I did remain respectful while trying to impress on him the gut wrenchingly awful insensitivity of his words.  He’s right – words are a means of communication and his words communicated a hell of a lot to me about his disregard for the feelings of those around him.  It’s more than that though.  Any person who knows how charged the word “negro” is and uses it anyway is, in fact, racist.  Racism has two main components at its core: fear and disrespect.  To know that “negro” is a disrespectful way to refer to a person of color and use it anyway IS TO DISRESPECT THEM.  I recognize that there are degrees to everything and to disrespect a person or a group of people doesn’t automatically mean you hate them – but to know you might be shoving an emotional knife in someone’s gut and do it anyway is a hateful thing to do.

I am not always politically correct myself.  I get it.  We need to hold onto the power of words.  We can’t go around insisting that words not be used just because they might have negative connotations.  Life is full of negative situations and we need a way to communicate that effectively.  I happen to love the word whore.  It’s not the kind of word you can just fling around though.  I would never actually call a promiscuous woman a whore because being sexually liberated is not a moral failing and the word whore implies fallen “virtue”.  I also wouldn’t call a prostitute a whore.  I would much rather call a John a whore.

I DO call myself a ketchup whore.

But there are a few words in our language that have such a powerful link to heinous events in history and periods of time when men and women behaved shamefully towards other humans and to use those words is to conger up a world of hate and pain for those you use them on.  “Nigger” is one of them and though “Negro” might seem less harmful – the only people who ever referred to black Americans as negros were people who were born long before the civil rights movement of the 1960’s during which it was made plain that black people do not ever want to hear white people refer to them using those words again.

So to be a white person and use those words to describe a black person is to knowingly disrespect them and is racist behavior. No one who was alive after the civil rights movement can claim not to have known how charged those words are.

I’m sharing this because I can’t believe I had this conversation with a peer.  I hear white people complain about black people (and liberal people of all colors) using the “race card” as they stupidly like to call it.  I hear people complaining about how people are always trying to make everything about race.  They’re so tired of having to have this conversation over and over again.  Boo hoo, buttheads.  I use the word “buttheads” completely aware of it’s negative connotations.

Here’s a rule of thumb when choosing words to describe people: avoid using any kind of condemnation that attacks things about a person that they do not have the power to change.  Skin color.  Origin of birth.  Their sexual orientation.  How many limbs they have or don’t have.  Whether they can walk or not.  The brain they were born with.  What gender they are.  Where they were born.

What you can question and condemn: people’s behaviors towards other people.  Assholes can be called out because assholes can stop being assholes if they choose to.  Chauvinists can change their attitude about women.  Racists can choose to change their attitudes about other races.

So I call out all the assholes who think race is such a tired conversation.  So boring.  Those assholes who say “What racism?  There’s no racism anymore.  You’re just puffing smoke out your asses because you don’t want to admit that it’s suspicious that our president is black and wasn’t born in the contiguous United States.  Hawaii barely counts.”

There is racism all over the world.  On every continent.  In every country.  And every race has racists.  We all know about the white people who hate black people.  Did you know about the black people who hate Latino people?  Did you know about the Asian people who hate black people?  How about the white people who hate Asian people.  Or about the Latino people who hate white people.  And yes, there are black people who hate white people.  Haters come in every race.

So until there is no racism left – it will always be part of the conversation.  So get over it.  This isn’t a political game.  It’s about humans evolving enough to stop attaching value judgements based on skin pigment.

We are not born racists.  We learn that hate.  We have the choice to lose that hate or perpetuate it.  We may not get to choose who we are when we’re born but we all get to choose who we become.

My unsolicited advice to you today is: unless you want to sound like a 167 year old civil war veteran or are actually racist don’t fucking use the word “negro”.

Unsolicited Advice: put the little zealot back in your pants

I have a quality about me that brings the zealots out to play.  It seems that my innate curiosity about the world, my open way of asking questions (50% of which are rhetorical) inspires “teachable moments” in evangelists of all kinds of faiths, diets, lifestyles, and medical alternatives.  This is especially true of my facebook interactions.*  I realize that many people on facebook have never met me in person or spent any time reading my blogs which might provide more clarity about who I am and how I communicate.  I’m not perfect, but I AM PREDICTABLE.

How to have pleasurable conversations with Angelina (and other people trying not to take everything too seriously):

If it is possible to insert levity in a serious discussion, I will do it.

I am pretty skilled at reading the subtext in conversations so there’s a good chance I know what you DIDN’T say.  Also, if I know you pretty well, I can fill in a lot of blanks from our personal history of conversations on any given comment.  You should be able to do the same with me.

No topic is so sacred that I won’t joke about it.

I have a lot of friends who are more clever than I am and I often don’t get their jokes.  But I do try because when I don’t get them I end up doing to them what people do to me – taking them up as though they were being completely serious.  So, clever friends, I’m working on learning when you’re telling really smart jokes so I stop making a fool of myself.

I’m a writer, I use colorful language and artful exaggerations to make my point

My attempts to avoid confrontation sometimes make things more difficult. In an effort to be polite I avoid saying things like “you are stressing me out with your comments” or “I already know your extremely extreme views on this subject and my ears will bleed if I have to hear you lecture me about it any more”.  But my tactics for avoiding confrontation haven’t been effective.  So I may be adopting a new confrontation avoidance method in which I respond to comments that make me uncomfortable by saying “Thank you for your thoughts on this.” which acknowledges a comment but allows me to not divulge the fact that someone is pissing me off or hurting my feelings or ignoring what they should already know about me but are too bone-headed to accept.  Coming soon to a discussion on home schooling near you!

Sometimes I’m an asshole when people push my buttons.  It’s a quality I don’t love about myself and am always working on.  If you feel I’ve just been an asshole to you and don’t understand what you did to bring it on, you probably pushed my buttons.

Put the little zealot back in your pants

Examine your conscience before you comment.  Are you tempted to comment only because you want to do battle with my viewpoints?  Are you open-minded enough to have an actual discussion about this viewpoint you want to challenge?  Are you willing to have your own viewpoints challenged?  More to the point: are you willing to change your viewpoints?  If not, take a Quaalude and chill the hell out**.  If you aren’t willing to have your mind changed by my perspective, then don’t try to change mine with yours.

Everyone exaggerates for effect, even if they don’t admit it

So if I don’t want you shoving your agenda into my conversations, why the hell bother to have conversations in the first place?  Conversations are a way we get to know each other and share our stories.  Sharing stories isn’t about trying to convert people to your groovy new lifestyle doing Tai Chi in the snow in your underwear, it’s about sharing that you’re mad enough to stand around for three hours in the snow doing Tai Chi in your skivvies.  The trick is to share your experience with zero agenda to convince others to do it.  It’s seriously about your intention.

So what if I mention that I have a rash and I can’t figure out what it is or how to treat it and I sound like I’m asking for input?  Fair enough.  I do that all the time and I do actually appreciate people’s input.  Mostly I’m interested to know if you have personally experienced such a thing yourself and what you did about it and how that worked out.  But if you know me at all then you should know that suggesting treatments that include changing my whole diet or lifestyle pushes my buttons.  If that actually worked for you personally, tell me your story.  But don’t tell me it works for everyone because you can’t possibly know that and most people into huge diet changes for health want to share “studies” or “reports” that are easily countered with other “studies” and “reports” that completely contradict them, and they want you to take everything they have to say as gospel.  Just knock it off.  I’m not a gullible idiot.  I want to hear your personal experience, don’t evangelize.

Goldenseal makes me burp for a minimum of 12 hours

I am much more likely to take the uneducated**** medical advice of a person who is equally open to both modern “western” medicine and naturopathic medicine than from someone who is strictly on one side or another.  If I happen to already know that you will only treat illness with herbs or acupuncture, then it will seriously push my button when you tell me that I just need to change my whole diet and take a shitload of wacky expensive supplements for the rest of my life.  Sometimes it’s not about your damn diet.  Likewise, if you’re a person who I know thinks all natural medicine is bogus and always suggest I should go for the surgery or go for the pills without exploration into all options, you will annoy the crap out of me and I won’t listen to anything you have to say on the topic.

I’ll take my Jesus with a side of salt

It’s the same with religion.  I am much more likely to actually hear what open minded Christians have to say than I am to really listen to those Christians who are against women’s and gay rights or who think being Muslim automatically makes you a terrorist.  The same goes for any other spiritual belief system.  If you hate atheists or those who don’t have religion I will smell it on you even if you don’t declare yourself and I will not be able to get past your hate to hear what you have to say.  I actually don’t think I’m very different from most people in this way.

This also applies to politics, education, lifestyle, gender, and virtually every topic you can come up with.  I can’t hear people above their agendas.  Can you?

Here’s a summary of everything I’ve said above:

The more you try to convince me of your extreme views the less open I am to hearing them.

Let’s both keep zealotry out of our casual conversations, okay?

 

*Want to join me on facebook?  Please do, but only after you read this post.  Okay?  Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/angelinawrites

**See that?  That was levity.  I wouldn’t seriously want you to take a Quaalude because that’s so last century.***

***I did it again!  I actually meant I wouldn’t want you to take a Quaalude because I wouldn’t ever actually suggest anyone take drugs.  But you should have already known that.

****Meaning you aren’t a trained professional doctor.

5 Tips for Yelling at Your Child Effectively

When my kid was a toddler I discovered the surprising fact that I am not the calm patient person I’d been thinking I was my whole life.  I based this self image on the fact that I never got in yelling matches with people (excluding all the times I suddenly freaked out and started yelling at friends because they touched my stuff because repressed memories don’t count).  I yelled at my kid.  A lot.  I found myself losing my temper constantly.  It’s not a pretty thing, yelling at kids.  It’s demoralizing for you and frightening to them.

Unless you know how to do it the right way.  I have been mastering my yelling skills for many years now and have become so good at it that if you were to ask him if his mom yells at him he would tell you “No”.  I know this because I mentioned how I don’t like it when I have to yell at him and he looked mystified and said I don’t ever yell at him.  How can my child not remember that I just yelled at him three days ago?  How is it that he doesn’t remember that I pretty much yelled at him non-stop through years 3 through 5?*

Because I did it THE RIGHT WAY.  And now, because I want you all to have the same parenting success that I’ve had, I am going to share with you the simple rules for yelling at your kid the right way too.

1.  Never make value judgements about your child when you’re losing your shit.

When I as an inexperienced yeller I would say things like “You’re being so bad!” and “Why the hell won’t you nap you little hellion!!”.  This implies that your child is misbehaving on purpose and is a bad child.  I realized that every time I yelled at my child I was accusing him of being a bad kid or of purposely sabotaging my life by dumping the entire bookshelf onto the floor instead of addressing the actual thing I was mad about.  So I changed my language accordingly “What you’re doing is not okay!” and “It makes me angry when you won’t nap!”  This expresses how I’m feeling about his behavior rather than suggesting that his behavior means he’s a bad person: instead of yelling about who my child is by suggesting he’s an evil little cur, I’m expressing that his actions are making me angry.

2.  Don’t be mean.

Some people might suggest that yelling in itself is being mean.  I disagree.  Yelling serves a distinct function in your child’s growing up experience.  For one thing it helps teach them that people have limits to their patience.  Can you imagine what would happen if a kid grew up never reaching the limit of their parents’ patience and then discovered out in the world that people have serious limits and are much more likely to punch you for pushing too hard when you’re not a sweet little cherub?!  Kids have to learn this and it is best for them to learn this with the people who love them best in the world. Yelling is also sometimes necessary to keep kids out of danger (like when they hurl themselves out into traffic without looking, this is a great moment to yell your guts out to get their attention while you grab them back to safety).  It may scare them but sometimes this is useful for their own safety.  Yelling also helps them understand that everyone has to express their anger sometimes, that it’s normal to lose control of your emotions sometimes.

When you yell at your kid you should never be mean.  This is an extension of the first tip.  It’s not just about how you phrase your anger – it’s about not saying petty mean shit to your kid that they’ll remember long after you’ve made up.  Things like “You’re so stupid!  How many times do I have to tell you not to pee on the seat?!” or “What kind of loser kid are you to not understand what I told you?!”  The kid will NOT remember that the reason for the anger was an action that is remediable but will remember only that they are inherently stupid, which you only said out of anger, not because you really think they’re stupid.

3.  Remove the swear words from your yelling.

I heartily approve of swearing to relieve tension and to attach emphasis in language where it is needed.  However, peppering your shouting with swear words makes it much scarier and though you may achieve something like making yourself feel better, you will not have a positive affect on your kid.  Swearing at your kid is a lot like saying mean petty shit when what you really need is for them to acknowledge that they’ve done something you want them to stop doing.  I speak from personal experience.  Once you let the damns and the fucks rampant in your yelling, you’re just losing ground.

4.  When you have become calm again, talk with your kid about what happened.

Apologize for losing your cool but be clear that an apology for yelling is not giving them a pass for what actions of theirs made you angry in the first place.  In the adult world it is not okay to yell at someone and if you do yell at someone an apology is always necessary.  By apologizing to your kid for yelling sends a couple of important messages: that everyone loses their cool sometimes and this is a forgivable action but also that the proper thing to do is apologize for having done so.

Then discuss calmly the thing that made you angry.  Explain why their actions are not okay with you and if you feel consequences are required, mete them out.  If I lose my cool and yell then I usually give my kid one more chance to change his behavior before giving consequences.  But I let him know exactly what the consequence will be during this discussion, while I’m calm.  Often times these sit down talks become meaningful discussions about appropriate behaviors and sometimes they extend into great learning moments.  Take your time.  Give your kid the chance to respond with questions or opinions.

5.  End discussion with a hug

Then give them a giant hug and tell them that they are your most favorite person in the entire world and that no matter what they do, you’ll always love them.

This is the moment I usually inform my son that I’ll love him even if he commits crimes but I won’t lie for him or hide him from the police.

To be honest, I rarely yell at my child anymore.  I snap at him impatiently sometimes but the days when I frequently hauled off in a yelling fit are far behind me.  By writing this post I’m not saying that parents SHOULD yell at their kids, only that it’s natural, it’s definitely going to happen, and it matters how you do it.

*To be fair to me, raising a special needs toddler takes even more patience and energy than raising your usual hellion tiny person.  I was just discovering at that time how different my kid was from other kids.  The things that worked for other parents didn’t work for me.  Their patience was tried, mine was fried.

10 Bad Blogging Habits to Avoid

 

1.  Apologizing for how much more important your life is than your stupid blog.

Readers already know that everyone’s life is more important than their blogs.  Readers are aware that life trumps  blog writing, especially for those blog writers who are writing for fun and social reasons and who aren’t professional writers.  They will forgive you without your constant apologizing.  When every post you write contains some excuse for why you haven’t written in so long it diminishes the quality of whatever else you have to say.  And if every other post is nothing but an apology or explanation about how your life is too important to pause and tell us interested readers what you’re up to, don’t write at all.

2.  Suggesting that blogging is a self indulgent narcissistic activity.

If you feel this way, you should not write a personal blog.  If you put down your own blog writing as a shameful immodest navel-gazing waste of time – you also insult your readers, many of whom are also bloggers.  You make your readers, whoever they are, feel that they are wasting their time reading your blog and worse than that you make them aware that you think you’re better than them.  Would you accuse Steinbeck of being self indulgent for writing “Of Mice and Men”?  Writing is, by it’s very nature, is an introspective art.  Every writer sees through the lens of their own personal experience and all their stories have their germ in the writer’s personal life.  A blog is telling your personal stories, if you don’t respect it, don’t do it.

3.  Being a tease who never puts out.

There are few things worse than a blogger who tells you how much they’re not telling you.  You’re reading their story, you’re interested, they reveal something personal, then they tell you that there are all these details they’re leaving out because it’s too personal to share.  Fuck you.  If you don’t want to share something, don’t share it, but also don’t tell us how much you’re not sharing.  What that does is basically inform your readers that they aren’t good enough to be in your inner circle where all your REAL secrets live.  Congratulations for truly wasting our time and making us feel like a bunch of oily sardines.

4.  Accosting your readers with your music.

The trend for setting up music to turn on automatically when your blog loads is easing up but there are still way too many bloggers who don’t understand how rude automatic music is.  When a reader opens up a blog they are essentially bringing you into their home.  They may have chosen to read your blog but they did not choose to listen to your music.  You forced it on them and while you may think listening to Michael Bolton is the best part of every day, I assure you that many will not agree.  Go ahead and set up your music jukebox but make it mute so that when people come to your blog they can choose to turn it on if they like your play list but will not be blasted with it.

 

5.  Telling us how boring you are.

Nothing kills a reader’s interest faster than a blogger who constantly apologizes for being boring.  If you actually do think you’re boring, don’t write.  If you don’t think you’re boring but you worry that others do, keep it to yourself.  If you think you’re being charmingly honest – you’re not.  Nothing is less charming or disingenuous than a writer constantly apologizing for their writing.  Believe me, if you write a blog for long enough you’ll have something real to apologize for and you want people to actually believe you when you mean it.

6.  Ignoring comments.

Don’t ignore your readers.  It’s insulting.  Especially when they are reaching out to you after you’ve revealed something really personal and painful and they want to give you their warmest thoughts and hopes to help support and uplift you.  Nothing will confirm you as a truly self indulgent and self absorbed writer than ignoring the people who reach out to you because they care about you.  Blogging, at its best, is a communal sort of writing.  You tell your stories and people who read them and are moved (whether in a positive or negative way) have the chance to make a conversation out of it.  If you don’t take part in the conversations you start then you may as well declare yourself the Queen of England.

7.  Whoring yourself out.

I am not of the opinion that it is inauthentic to have ads on your blog.  My personal take is that your ads should never speak more loudly than your content.  A blog whose writing columns are narrower than the ad columns is not a pleasant place to be.  Sponsored content isn’t my personal deal but I’ve seen people do it tastefully.  You are not a whore for trying to make money from your blog.  It’s damn hard for writers to make a living and I cheer on anyone who makes a go of it provided they don’t over do it.  What’s over doing it?  If you have giveaways every week, especially more than one a week, and if you have sponsored content every week – you lose my trust in your authenticity.  Choose your advertising tactics with care.  If anyone is curious – my own ads don’t make me more than $2 a month so far (and that’s up from $0).  I’d love to make more.  Money is good.  Making money from writing is awesome.  It’s my main goal in life – to be paid to write, because I’M A WRITER.  Just don’t ever lose sight of the quality of your content.

8.  Telling poop stories.

The blogging platform allows all women (not just professional writers) to share the stories that matter to them with other women all over the world.  This has created a greater sense of community and shared knowledge and support amongst us all.   Unfortunately the new-found freedom to talk about anything real in our lives – like the fact that parenting involves a lot of diaper changing – has created some distressing trends in women writers.  I don’t know why it is, but telling stories about your baby’s poop is a great favorite on mom blogs and it has become an exhausted topic.  There are no revelations left to share on this topic.  The humor really isn’t there either.  Just stop it.  Same goes for snot and spit-up and projectile ANYTHING.  Stop it.  There are other ways to “keep it real” in your writing.  Find them.

9.  Telling readers what a burden your blog is.

This is similar to telling your readers that your life is more important than your blogging is, except it’s worse because now you’re suggesting that you don’t even like it.  If you have any readers (and most blogs, even tiny ones, have at least a few readers) they come to hear your stories because they’re interested and they probably really like you.  Otherwise they wouldn’t waste their time on you.  When you talk about what a burden your blog is and how you don’t even enjoy it, it’s like having sex with someone and then telling them that having sex just isn’t worth the effort.  No one wants to feel like they aren’t worth the effort.  If you find blogging a burden, don’t do it.  Quit your blog.  But don’t tell your readers they weren’t worth it, just tell them you’ve discovered that blogging isn’t your true calling.

10.  Being an asshole tightwad with your blogroll.

Do you have a blogroll?  If you blog you should have a blog roll.  Sharing the link love may not be required but other bloggers notice.  Other bloggers make up a large proportion of most blog readers.  Not having a blog roll is like saying you’re too important to share your readers with anyone else.  Some of the biggest  bloggers with insanely high traffic have blog rolls because they know that sharing the love is part of what makes the blogging world a largely generous and diverse place to spend time.  So don’t be a tightwad with your connections.

Bottom Line:

Don’t make your readers feel stupid, creepy, unwanted, inferior, or that they wasted their time reading your blog.

Use Honest Language to Talk About Death

I don’t approve of this current anti-death culture where everyone treats death as though it was some horrible event that’s never meant to happen to any of us.  People have forgotten how to respect death, to acknowledge its rightful place in our lives as the natural other half of life.  No one gets to live without dying.  No one who’s died has been denied the chance to live, even if only for a minute.  They come together.  You can’t have one without the other.  Life and death are part of one whole experience.

I’d like to address how we all talk about death when it happens to someone in our lives or in our circles.  No one is ever expected to repress their feelings of sorrow, surprise, shock, or to not fall apart.  We all react differently to the news that someone we know has died and I’m not trying to take away honest feelings.  However, I would like to suggest that the language we use to discuss these feelings be one without denial, without inanity, without false balm.

The basic fact is that there’s no such thing as a time that someone is “supposed” to go.  All of us would like the people we love to never die but they will.  Most of us don’t want to die ourselves, but we will.  Let’s agree that most of us are hoping for the most amount of time to live possible.  We are hoping we will live to be pissy old men and women who see everyone else they know die and finally, when there’s nothing left to do, we pass peacefully into death in our sleep.  Hoping is one thing, expectation is another.

No one has a right to expect to live to be old nor does anyone have a right to expect their loved ones to live to be old.  That is our hope, but it is not based on any rights or any facts or any promises the universe or God has made to anyone, because, of course, no such promises have ever been made to a living soul.

So when you lose someone it’s using a language of denial to say “It wasn’t her time” or “He died too soon” or “They weren’t supposed to go like that”

There is no “supposed to” and no “too soon” because none of us are in control of these things.  We all go exactly when we are meant to go.  We all go when the time is right or we wouldn’t go.  There are no accidental deaths where god “oops!” took someone by mistake.  I don’t believe in God but I’ve heard a lot of people who do say things like “Susie was taken before it was her time” and it strikes me as grossly sacrilegious that anyone accuse God of making mistakes.

What I’d like to see more people do is use more direct and truthful statements about how they’re feeling.  Instead of saying “Susie wasn’t supposed to die this young” (not factual or remotely true, since she obviously died ‘this young’) how about saying “I’m devastated Susie died so young!” (true) or “It’s so sad she didn’t get to live longer” (presumably true) or “I’m so fucking angry that Susie is dead and I was never going to be ready to lose her!!” (probably most true of all is anger at losing someone you liked).

No one is ever ready to lose the people they love.  That’s the bottom line.  That’s what most of us are feeling.  So let’s put more truth and strength and acceptance of our feelings in our language about death and erase the inane platitudes that don’t really make anyone I know feel better.  There is so much more power in saying what you really mean.

There is an urge in humans to distance themselves from death.  We do it in our language before we do it anywhere else.  I hear people say things like “I don’t know how to make sense of his death” and I want to shout out  that you don’t have to “make sense” of it.  It isn’t confusing.  It’s just personally painful.  I think dealing with loss would be much easier if we all stopped trying to make death mysterious and understand why it has to happen.  Do people really not get it?  Or is it that they just don’t want to express death in personal terms like saying “Death sucks!” or “I’m angry that people have to die!” which is very honest and most of us could relate and agree with those sentiments.

Death just is.  It is as much a fabric of all of our lives as births are.  It’s generally one of the least comfortable parts of life but it’s necessary.  Why?  Cause people insist on having tons of babies and if none of us ever died this planet would have been overcrowded to mass starvation point before Christ ever came along.  It’s that simple.  People die because if they never died they couldn’t keep being born.  You like birth, right?  You all feel warm and fuzzy when life is ejected from wombs but that cute and fuzzy event comes with a price.  Someone must die for the new life to thrive.  We all have our turns.  Some of us get a few seconds on earth.  Some of us get over a hundred years.  The fact remains- every single birth is also an eventual death.  When I hear of babies being born I already understand that the baby caries a burden of death into the world with them.

In summary:

Instead of saying the inane useless crap like “Henry died too young” let’s all be more truthful and say what we’re really feeling which is “I feel slugged with sorrow that Henry’s dead because I’m going to miss the hell out of him” and then we can proceed right on with the natural stages of grief and in being more directly honest about what’s happened and how we feel about it I think we do more honor to the person who’s died.  We get right to talking about what we’ll miss and what we loved about them.  Let’s start creating a culture of acceptance and honesty and respect around death.  This doesn’t diminish the sorrow and pain we all feel, in fact, it brings us straight to the heart of our devastation and that’s where we are able to actually honor both ourselves and the dead.

As a last note:

I am definitely hoping to live long enough to get my book published and to see my son become a well adjusted adult member of society.  I am hoping for more time than just today, however, if I die today I will be a fiercely angry ghost if anyone who knows me DARES to suggest I died too soon or that I wasn’t meant to go that way or anything patently stupid.  I promise that if I can figure out how to do it, I will haunt your ass until you stop talking in such useless shabby platitudes and just accept that this was always going to happen whenever it was supposed to and please watch over Max and get my books published posthumously.

Other topics I wish to discuss about death, dying, and mourning:

How to mourn: different methods to suit every taste.

How to eulogize without telling lies about dead people.

 

 

Your Blog design is HURTING MY EYES

I am about to offer a piece of advice that will almost certainly be completely ignored, and while I’m not fine with that, I feel that bringing this up and offering my help is a public service.  If this piece of advice applies to you, I want to promise you with all my heart that someone you know has been dying to broach this subject with you (because they love you) but are afraid.

WHITE TYPE ON A BLACK BACKGROUND IS DIFFICULT TO READ AND IF YOU CAUSE A PERSON’S EYES TO HURT THEY WILL NOT WANT TO READ WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY.

Many people believe that black is sophisticated and “frames” everything really well.  While this is occasionally true in design, it is never true of print.  So if you have a blog with white type on a black background it is almost certainly making people’s eyes uncomfortable and in some cases it may actually pissing them the hell off.

When I set up my very first blog on blogspot I chose that template with the dark green background and the white print.  I had that template for at least a year.  Maybe even two, before I changed it.  When I finally changed it my blog was transformed.  I have to say that looking at it every single day had irritated my eyes though I never realized how much until I stopped having to look at it any more.

A black background is not sophisticated.

Please,  PLEASE be kind to your prospective readers and inspire them to come back by not hurting them.

Recap of public service announcement: Black background with white type on a blog…KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF!

Credentials for giving such advice: design school, two years as the color specialist at a mens necktie company, growing up with an artist mother, my own dismal blog mistakes, I’ve painted many color wheels, I like to read and I prefer it not to be an annoying experience, all the books ever printed (that are worth reading) have been printed on either a cream, natural, or white paper using black ink.

Take Your Socks Off!

Socks aren’t sexy.  They can sometimes be pretty, cute, sporty, sad, rustic, happy, rugged, or even versatile.

But they are NEVER sexy.

So when you’re undressing for a romp, I suggest that the first thing you remove is your socks.  Always.  (You should do this anyway, even if you’re just undressing for bed, with no prospect of a romp.)  Because even for those of you who are sex-gods: you are NOT sexy in your socks.

Should you ever find yourself completely naked except for your socks, you should book yourself an appointment with your therapist immediately (and book one for your partner too, because after seeing you like that they may have a very hard time getting in the mood again for a long time).

I’m going to give a little piece of extra sock advice: white tube socks are the most hideously unsexy socks on the planet.  You shouldn’t even own any.  But if you are so misguided as to wear white tube socks: take them off the second you wish to appear attractive and sexy to another human being!

Just in case you asked:

What’s so bad about white tube socks?  They sag.  They bag.  They are always dingy after the first wear.  They’re white for god’s sake!  They’re uninspired.  Not designed for feet.  Instantly bring to mind: stinky bachelors in airless apartments that smell like dirty laundry, old pizza crusts under the bed, Budweiser beer cans in the sink, and tighty whities.

Final word: SEX AND SOCKS DON’T MIX*

*Unless you happen to have a sock fetish.  You might want to make sure your partner is also a sock fetishist.