Evernote This

While hanging out with other smart women with smart women problems (anxiety, rage, misshapen molars from grinding), my friend Sarah concluded that we’re miserable because we used to milk cows and plant food gardens and build houses. “We wouldn’t have time to freak out,” she pointed out. “We’d be dropping into bed exhausted at sundown.”

And we three enjoyed a few seconds of imagining a prairie front blowing the hair from our unadorned faces as we walked out to the well, no phone’s insistent blurping with text messages; no anxieties about whether to Tweet, Facebook, blog, or fart the idea we just had; and no agonizing whenever someone showed up on Tumblr doing the thing we swore we were just about to do.

Of course, frontier life had its disadvantages, such as miniscule life spans, chronic dry skin, and—oh, yes—being forced into a sow-like state of constant breeding and suckling for as many times as your husband could put it to you. (Which some people would be very happy to see return!) But our collective longing for simpler times is part of why pickling, DIY, knitting, and all that is making a huge comeback. Men, too. We’ve all had it with this stupid Information Age. What do we do with all this information, anyway?

I copied a few Moleskine journals’ worth the ideas into Evernote thinking it would create action, but I ended up just forgetting I even had the stupid program. (Still, I highly recommend Evernote as a great place to see all your ideas and inspiration and sketches and to-do items in one clean place.) I love Pinterest, but can see how it would get terribly out of hand if I decided to have whole boards dedicated just to the color yellow or interesting oil slicks or other random reasons to avoid doing anything of substance.

Is anyone actually using Evernote and Pinterest to enrich and facilitate their creative endeavors? If so, fuck you. (Just kidding, please let me eat your still-beating heart.) I’d like to know how people are getting things done, or if they are just better and better and putting things between them and getting things done.

I can’t imagine that particular ability would help you win Frontier House.

For you, from my favorite essay in Mr. Vonnegut’s Man Without a Country:

Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that.

Tim Ferriss & I Should Go Clean a Cobra Pit

Every now and then,  just when I start to feel an eensy bit okay about myself and my future, the Internet comes along like a raging crosstown and sprays me with rancid Chinatown garbage water until I go back inside and cry under my bed on a pillow of dust and dog hair.

This time, the glaring evidence that I’m a spineless weenie came in the form of this video of a guy cleaning out a cobra pit…with real, live, hissing cobras in it. Lots of cobras. (As if that matters; one cobra would make me pee myself.) Here, look:

There’s something undeniably Zen (and yet thrilling) about the nonchalant way this guy grabs a flared, erect snake and tosses it aside. One after the other! Grab/toss, grab/toss, each one creating a pile of horrible, angry enemies just behind him that he largely ignores.

I want to be like this guy more than anything in the world.

Forget this creepy huckster and his soulless, sociopathically self-serving brand of self-help. If Timothy Ferriss is the juiced-up guru for Patrick Bateman types with an irritating amount of energy and disconcerting lack of virtue, the guy cleaning cobra pits is the real deal. He’s the motivational idol for DIYers with pickling fetishes. Back to basics! What’s Facebook? Grab snake and toss. Grab/toss.

He doesn’t cheat the snakes and win a Chinese Kickboxing Championship by pushing his opponents out of the box, and – as far as the video shows – he doesn’t taunt them or traumatize them. He just wants to clean up their poop and eggs without them being all up in his face. Shut your hole, snake. Toss.

This was an epiphany for me today, as I peer over the lip of depression, as I hunt for jobs and talk myself out of each one, as I become less and less sure of my capabilities, my worth, my ideas. As I stare at the words of my book on the screen and think “I’m going to write a shitty book about my mother’s death and our life together and what loss and trauma are like, so I should just stop now.”

This is now on a Post-It above my computer:

1. Grab snake

2. Toss

If you stop to think, you get scared and freeze. The snake can sense your fear and it will strike. The snake in this metaphor being, for me, self-doubt (or the overwhelming urge to refill the birdfeeder, clean the grout with a toothbrush, or any other number of things that aren’t finding work or writing my book). In that sense, Timothy Ferriss does have a point that’s helpful to a lot of fear-frozen individuals: you might have to be a cocky wanker in the face of all those “Nos” and “Can’ts.”

Or you can simply clean the cobra pit.

See also:

  • This enlightening take on Tim Ferriss from someone who knew him pretty well. In case you just picked up his book and think he’s the Greatest Ever Ever! and haven’t yet digested and fully evacuated from your being the enormous, toxic crapload he’s filled you with.