In Case Of Actual Death Avatar

Posts tagged with bestof

134 Notes

Emotional Transit

When I was young my family went to Ocean City Maryland every summer. There’s a boardwalk along the beach, and we’d walk different parts of it every evening as the sun set and the beach cleared out and the lights came up. I remember: french fries with vinegar, terrible haunted house rides that we went on multiple times, tourist shit-shops filled with pink & fluorescent yellow t-shirts (it was the 80s), sea shells with glued-on googly eyes, watching sand artists sculpt inspirational bible quotes into their castles. It was the best.

There was a little shuttle you could ride if you were tired from walking or wanted to skip to different parts of the boardwalk. One night we walked all the way down to the very end, and decided to take the shuttle back to our hotel. A few minutes into the ride a pair of young couples got on, cramming into the seat behind us. Probably what happened is my dad started making dumb jokes and they laughed politely, but what I remember is all of us having the best time on the ride home. My mom and dad laughing with them, everyone saying funny comments about things we saw along the way, strangers immediately connecting and bonding, on just the perfect night, the best time, driving very slowly along the beach at night.

Eventually we came to a stop and the couples climbed off the shuttle. I called out: “See you back at the hotel!” and they stopped and turned and my mom had to explain, No, they’re not staying with us, they’re going to do other things.

And I was like: We’re never going to see them again? Like, ever? I was not just distraught or sad but immediately inconsolable. These were our friends. How are these people who we just met and who we like so much, who we’ve had so much fun with tonight, going to disappear from our lives forever? We’re all ok with that? We’re all ok with going off into the night and never seeing each other again?

But of course that’s what happened. They walked off and we went back to our hotel and I’m probably the only person in the story who remembers any part of it happening, and none of it really matters, except that I still feel the sense of missing those people whose faces I don’t even remember as acutely as I did back then.

And I would love for the ending of this story to be: And that’s when I decided I didn’t need my heart anymore. But I do. I hate it, but I do.

56 Notes

My Life Of Continual Fear

One day when I was in 3rd grade I was taken out of class and brought to a room down the hall. You’re going to be in a creative writing class now, the teacher said. No explanation, no set-up. She just dumped me in a room with some other kids.

I was the only kid from my grade in the room, the rest were all older kids who I didn’t even recognize from the hallways. It seemed like they had already been coming to this room for a while—they knew the teacher, they knew each other, they knew what was expected of themselves and each other. They knew why they were there. I had no idea why I was there and thought maybe I had done something wrong? but I was a kid who always stayed quiet and never questioned anything, so I just sat there and did what the teacher told me to do, as uncomfortable as it made me.

She told me to open up a notebook and start writing. Write a story, write a poem. Thinking about it now, surely she had some kind of thesis, an introduction, some guidelines or encouragement she delivered, but I don’t remember that, I just rememember having to open a blank page and start writing a story with no prompt or warning or preparation.

I remember being terrified that I would have to share what I was writing with the class. I remember thinking: I have no idea what I’m doing. How do I write a story? What if this is terrible? What if I can’t figure out what happens next? Why do I have to be here? Why don’t I have any good ideas? Why can’t I be doing literally anything else right now? Why do I have to be writing when my class is probably at recess or watching a film strip? The other kids are clearly all better and more confident writers than me, what if they realize I have no idea what I’m doing? What *am* I doing?

That was 30 years ago. Every morning I sit down to write, and every morning I have the exact same questions and fears I did that first day.

72 Notes

Zoom Image

77 Notes

Today I wrote about Amanda Bynes & The Internet Teens saving the world with their selfies.
For more good writing about selfie culture and how we treat women both online and off, read what Lily wrote on Grimes, Amanda Bynes, and Being Seen. Zoom Image

Today I wrote about Amanda Bynes & The Internet Teens saving the world with their selfies.

For more good writing about selfie culture and how we treat women both online and off, read what Lily wrote on Grimes, Amanda Bynes, and Being Seen.

411 Notes

OK by now you’ve seen this article in The Onion and been like UGH TOO REAL. Yes! It is too real. It is painful and we recognize ourselves and the choices we have made in this article.  

But I think the reason this article is painful is because culturally we define success in such a weird and outdated way. There’s this idea that if you’re not doing what you’re most passionate about all the time, you’re a failure. If you aren’t make a living at it, you’re a failure. If you’re not Stephen King or Christina Aguilera, you’re a failure. And I think we grew up in this kind of 50-year pop culture bubble where we saw many people becoming huge megastars, actors and singers and writers and whatever else. And part of the disconnect we have now about what we should pay for music and books and movies, and how these things should be funded, are tied up with these questions about what we owe to ourselves,  and what we feel society & culture owe to us, and the media value we assign to certain “professions”. 

I was having dinner with Mary-Kim the other night and we talked a lot about how much more successful as writers we would feel if we didn’t give a shit about our families and lives. I might have gotten farther faster as a writer if that’s all I ever did or thought about, but like, so what? Is that a good model for how a person should live their life? It’s not that I love my day job all the time, but it’s a thing that someone needs to be doing, same as a lot of people’s jobs. And it’s not like me and my job and my writing are completely separate and siloed aspects of my self. My creativity is a thing that comes out in my writing on the internet, in my parenting, and in the rejection letters I send as part of my day job. That’s kind of a success, right? Albeit not one that sells magazines or drives clicks.

Maybe it’s not useful to define one person as the garbage collector and one person as the singer. Maybe everyone is a lot of things. Maybe the self-obsessed celebrity artist culture isn’t that helpful or useful. Maybe eventually we get to a place where we see that books and music and art are created by us, people who have school and day jobs and other shit we care about. And we’re not rich celebrities, and we are all always being pulled in different directions, but we’re present and engaged with the people in our lives? And we value what we contribute as much as what we create? And we create things because want to, and not because we have expectations for what it will get us, or how it will cause society to value us? And we don’t berate and hate ourselves for the very human failure of having a lot of complicated shit to juggle in our lives? That might be kind of cool? Zoom Image

OK by now you’ve seen this article in The Onion and been like UGH TOO REAL. Yes! It is too real. It is painful and we recognize ourselves and the choices we have made in this article.  

But I think the reason this article is painful is because culturally we define success in such a weird and outdated way. There’s this idea that if you’re not doing what you’re most passionate about all the time, you’re a failure. If you aren’t make a living at it, you’re a failure. If you’re not Stephen King or Christina Aguilera, you’re a failure. And I think we grew up in this kind of 50-year pop culture bubble where we saw many people becoming huge megastars, actors and singers and writers and whatever else. And part of the disconnect we have now about what we should pay for music and books and movies, and how these things should be funded, are tied up with these questions about what we owe to ourselves,  and what we feel society & culture owe to us, and the media value we assign to certain “professions”. 

I was having dinner with Mary-Kim the other night and we talked a lot about how much more successful as writers we would feel if we didn’t give a shit about our families and lives. I might have gotten farther faster as a writer if that’s all I ever did or thought about, but like, so what? Is that a good model for how a person should live their life? It’s not that I love my day job all the time, but it’s a thing that someone needs to be doing, same as a lot of people’s jobs. And it’s not like me and my job and my writing are completely separate and siloed aspects of my self. My creativity is a thing that comes out in my writing on the internet, in my parenting, and in the rejection letters I send as part of my day job. That’s kind of a success, right? Albeit not one that sells magazines or drives clicks.

Maybe it’s not useful to define one person as the garbage collector and one person as the singer. Maybe everyone is a lot of things. Maybe the self-obsessed celebrity artist culture isn’t that helpful or useful. Maybe eventually we get to a place where we see that books and music and art are created by us, people who have school and day jobs and other shit we care about. And we’re not rich celebrities, and we are all always being pulled in different directions, but we’re present and engaged with the people in our lives? And we value what we contribute as much as what we create? And we create things because want to, and not because we have expectations for what it will get us, or how it will cause society to value us? And we don’t berate and hate ourselves for the very human failure of having a lot of complicated shit to juggle in our lives? That might be kind of cool?

53 Notes

Heather handed me a poem she wrote.

Here, she said, Read this.

We were sitting on the thrifted couch in her apartment off campus. It was the end of the semester and the windows were wide open but useless against the Virginia summer night. 

I looked at the 4 or 5 stanzas. It was free verse. Something about nature and darkness. Something about loneliness and longing. I handed it back to her.

Cool, I said. That’s awesome.

Heather looked at me. No, she said, handing the poem back to me. Read this.

She was a year ahead of me. We’d been sitting next to each other on the first day of what turned out to be the world’s most difficult 200-level British Literature class, and quickly became each other’s life raft. We were supposed to be studying for the final but had somehow ended up drinking instead.

I looked at the poem again. Something about cicadas. Something about the full moon. Something about sex and the long summer night. 

Heather had a roommate who was majoring in modern dance. The last time I’d come over we’d bonded over her My So Called Life poster, but tonight she was out with her boyfriend, a white guy with dreads and a dog named Kenya or Nairobi or something. It was getting late and it was going to be a long walk back to campus. 

I handed the poem back to Heather. It’s really cool, I said. Poetry’s not my thing and I don’t know if I understand it, but I like it. It’s great.

Heather stared at me again, longer this time. No, she said, handing the poem back to me. Read this.

149 Notes

Realest shit I ever wrote Zoom Image

Realest shit I ever wrote

48 Notes

Kickstarter, and Being Your Creative Word

Matt Haughey wrote some really good words about Kickstarter and I wanted to throw my thoughts in. Because in theory I love Kickstarter! So much! People need help in order to make stuff. If their project sounds interesting to you, you help them. They make stuff, people are happy, the world is a better place. The end. 

In practice though, Kickstarter has been not something that I love at all. It has been something that has annoyed me, stressed me out, and fomented my already ongoing hatred of humanity more than any other website since Perez.

The problem with Kickstarter is this: You are asking for money. I give you money. Now you can finish your project. But was the money I gave you a donation, or an investment?

You could make a case for either side! A good one!

If it’s a donation, cool. I’m psyched about your project, I’m psyched that you’re psyched, and no matter what happens, best of luck in this and future endeavors. 

But in most cases Kickstarter projects have tiered structures where giving $X guarantees Y in return—which means the money I give you is an investment. I am a shareholder in your project, expecting a return on the money I gave you. I have an invested interest in the outcome of your project. 

But so what, who cares, what’s the difference?

The difference is that if I invest in your project, and we both agreed to a contract where my giving you $X guarantees me Y in return, you better finish that fucking project. If it’s not a donation, then in no way is it OK for you to take my money and disappear off the face of the earth.

Right? Seems basic? And really this is bigger than Kickstarter. People have been taking my money for projects that never ended up happening for as long as there has been an internet, and even longer. And it sucks, every single time. I want to be supportive of people doing interesting things, and every time I support a project that ends up going south, I am a little more hesitant to help out the next time.

"BUT," you say. "Sometimes shit goes wrong! Sometimes the writer gets mad at the director and they can’t work it out! Sometimes the hard drive dies and there was a back-up but the back-up died! And frankly mutability is the nature of any creative endeavor! Sometimes you start off making a movie but it turns out you were actually making a comic book!" 

I know! And all of that is totally OK! It’s totally fine!

AS LONG AS YOU COMMUNICATE ABOUT IT.

If giving you $20 means at the end of a project I get a book, and I never hear from you again, guess what! Now you have a customer service problem. Because fuck you, I paid for a book. 

If giving you $20 means at the end of the project I get a book, and you send me a DVD, guess what! You still have a customer service problem. Because what is this DVD shit, I paid for a book.

It has been stunning to me, how many project owners seem to fall off the face of the earth once their project gets funded. Realize that it is practically hard-coded into the creative process that you end up miles from where you intended. But when that happens it is critical to keep your investors in the loop. We are riding shotgun with you on our project! Keep us in the loop as the landscape changes! Just an update every so often: “Dudes, sorry, here are the reasons why this is taking longer or becoming different from what you expected, thanks for hanging in there with us.” That’s all! 

(Although, also, I will gently argue, that if you are at the point in your project where you need $X to complete it, and you receive $X, you should do exactly what the fuck you said you were going to do. If you say you need $X to complete your project, but actually then it ends up changing in some huge significant way, you had no business asking for $X in the first place, and you wasted a lot of people’s time & good will. And next time, if you hope to rely on other people’s support again, you should do your level best to make sure you have your shit exactly in order.)

Because either way, without communication, you’re done. Even if you do eventually finish the project two years later, I am not going to be super psyched to see that book or DVD and be reminded of you. I’m still mad at you, remember? You already broke my trust, remember? Doing the bare minimum of what you were supposed to do however long ago does not earn it back.

When you have investors in your creative project, it is just as important to manage their expectations as it is to manage your project. You got all these dozens or hundreds of people excited about a project that for so long YOU were the only person excited about. There is an expiration date on that support. Manage it, or lose it. Otherwise where once you had so much good will headed in your direction, you will have an angry mob of unhappy customers, some super furious and in your face about it, some just super disappointed behind your back, and none of them in any way interested in supporting anything else you do, ever again, ever. 

If a transaction goes sour on Amazon or eBay, there is legal recourse for people to get their money back. There’s a safety net. Not so on Kickstarter, where it’s just promises, money, and your reputation on the internet. And unless you’re new around here, you know that money + bad experience + internet != happy smiles.  

But at its most basic level, this is not about Kickstarter, and it’s not about funding creative projects, and it’s not even about the internet! IT’S ABOUT HOW PEOPLE WHO LIVE TOGETHER ON THIS PLANET SHOULD BEHAVE TOWARDS EACH OTHER.

In this and all other instances of human interaction on this planet, here is what should happen:

  1. Do the shit you say you are going to do.
  2. If shit changes, have communication about it.
  3. The end.

Please, creative humans, step your game up. Be realistic in your approach, be thoughtful in your interactions, and hold yourself to the standard you would hold others to, if it was your money you were investing. I don’t want to publicly call out any particular project like Haughey did but of course I am available by email or gchat to vent like the cattiest bitch ever.

152 Notes

Got in an argument with an 8 year old the other day. He was saying time travel was totally impossible. I was like WHAT. We were driving. This was me, staring straight ahead, 10-and-2-ing it, shouting into the windshield. He was in the backseat, stuffed between my kids. He says Yes it’s totally impossible, no way it could ever happen, something about there’s no way to speed up our leptons fast enough. I’m like SAYS WHO. He says Some guy on the radio. Well, there we go. I roll my eyes. I mean you’re going to make a sweeping declaration like that, have sources, pal. I started telling him something about 10 years ago and iPhones, which went nowhere. Kid had no frame of reference. I mean yes I know that I should not be interrogating my son’s best friend on a comment he made in passing during their own little conversation. And I mean I know he’s probably right. I’m not arguing that time travel DOES exist. I’m just saying, the larger principle here. How you are going to be 8 years old and already refusing to believe. AND: and. You want to hang out with my kids, don’t be introducing that nonsense around them. We celebrate time travel at our house. And ghosts. And metal ninjas, actually. I mean who knows, that’s the thing. That’s like the core value of my entire belief system. Who knows. And he’s attacking it. It’s just not in me to let something like that slide. But so fine, kid, I don’t want to live in your world, EVER. You’d still be welcome in ours. 

62 Notes

Brainblogging The Time I Dropped My Electric Razor In The Toilet

Stop crying.

Take a breath, Jesus, fuck. It’s not like you fell in the toilet.

Ugh OK now swallow the vomit right back down and stop thinking about being in the toilet.

Just fucking chill the fuck out. I don’t know how you’re going to shave either, but just relax for a second, we have a situation here.

I mean, it had been flushed previously? So technically this is as clean as it gets?

OK yes I know we’re not putting our hand down there, I was just mentioning facts.

Bread bags! 

Like you could put them on your hands to protect them. Sealed at the forearms with industrial-strength rubber bands.

No bread bags, fuck.

Here we go: chopsticks.

Yes you can. It’s just like Operation. Si se puede.

Don’t forget to hold your breath while you’re hovering over the toilet, so no errant molecules float up inside you.

And don’t forget to first bring the trash can closer to the toilet before you get started.

I know! All your least favorite things! Maybe someone’s dog could be trying to lick your face while you’re doing this?

OK: total concentration. Don’t think about dogs, open trash cans, toilets, or the time you smelled a garbage truck after it had been raining.

Aaaand whoops dropped it WATCH THE SPLASHBACK ARE YOU FUCKING MENTAL WITH THIS SHIT.

OK easy now.

You did it! Electric razor, into the trash!

Chopsticks, into the trash! Who cares if they’re the kind you’re supposed to wash and reuse! There are standards, even for Chinese take-out!

Hands, into the trash! OK not really, just alternate applications of bleach and Purell for 10 minutes.

Wow, check the heart rate, this might count as the most aerobic exercise you’ve had since your 20s.

So yeah, fuck it, we’re growing a beard.