A Dragon Looks Ahead

Fnert, I need to get my life straight. I was a better adult as a kid than I am as an adult.

Okay, so I still have the lousy work ethic I had as a kid. Must ask someone who wasn’t raised by wolves: is a work ethic born or bred? If bred, then I was cheated out of one and must nail one together somehow.

If born, then I’m off the hook. Procrastinators of the world, unite tomorrow! Sometime in the afternoon or whenever.

I have a good life, but I can’t feel it. I’m too busy with anxietymonster. Quick, do nothing!

I second-guess every decision, and then third, fourth, and fifth-guess it. To blog/tweet/update Facebook status/write essay, short story, novel or not to blog/tweet/update Facebook status/write essay, short story, novel? That is the question. And we all know what happened to Hamlet. Hell, he took the whole family down with him.

I don’t care that, at 35, my finest eggs have likely been laid; I refuse to have a baby until I’m no longer Hamlet. Also, do I want to bring a child into a world where “Toddlers and Tiaras” is perfectly legal but a nipple slip is apocalyptic?

This entry wasn’t supposed to be about my reproductive fence-sitting, but it is about fence-sitting in general. I do nothing because I worry too much, and I worry too much because the worst thing I can do is invite criticism from the likes of me. It’s a nasty business, self-loathing.

Because I cannot seem to write in a diary anymore (I’ll claim the decreasing ability to write longhand as a form of evolution, like a shrinking pinky toe and having no wisdom teeth), I’m here going to state my resolutions for this year, the Year of the Dragon. My year! May my passion, damnably high standards, and fertile mind drive me to riches and not ruin.

1. Pick my battles. I have only so much time and energy. Most of the time, when I start to blow up about something and chase it down the rabbit hole, it’s because I want to avoid the Thing That Shall Not Be Named*.

*: Writing my book

2. Get my old ass back. Not what you think. I used to be a terrific ass. Someone once even called me “braying.” Ten years of theater and improv taught me not to second-guess myself – to throw out jokes even if they don’t work, do voices, make faces, say outrageous things. Even if no one else got me, I used to crack myself up. What a wonderful gift. I’m becoming Captain Bum-Out

3. Get my old ass back. Now it’s what you think. I’ll get in amazing shape and take a bunch of vanity pictures, because it’s all downhill from here.

4. Sing in the car every time. EVERY TIME. Sing in the shower. Sing while cleaning, while cooking. Sing, sing, sing.

5. Stop obsessing over how shitty my memory is getting. Everyone’s memory is shitty. I need to commend myself on my extensive knowledge of ’80s pop culture and relatively firm grip on grammar rules and just relax about not being able to call up my favorite lines of poetry in conversation. Those people are assholes, anyway.

6. Stop hating women who are getting accolades for doing what you think you could be doing better.  It’s not their fault you’re a lazy person with serious mental problems. Also, good for them/us. Start seeing women as sisters, not ghastly phantoms here to torment you for your shortcomings. (Some women honestly do suck huge donkey dicks of mediocrity, but enough about Whitney Cummings and Chelsea Handler.)

7. Hug more. Not every problem needs to be solved. Arms do what brains cannot.

8. Finish the goddamned memoir. My great-grandma Zelma Swift would have said “You don’t make a pie with your head, dummy.”

9. When it comes to writing and submitting work: Grab snake. Toss.

10. Rely less on meanness to be funny. Tina Fey said in a 2004 interview with Bust magazine that in your teens and 20s you can be mean, but keep it up, and you’ll be a cunt by 40. There’s a wonderful challenge in being funny without being mean. I mean, I’ll still say mean shit of course. Of COURSE. It’s funny to say mean things, especially about real assholes. But I need to put a few more tools in the shed. Photoshop helps.

Alright, Intermess. You’re my witness. Also, look for my t-shirt, soon to come: It’s not oversharing if you never undershare.

Inspiration – (Doubt + Internet Noise) = 2012

Oh my God. I just wrote the most magnificent blog post of all time. And WordPress deleted it right as I published it.

It was about not second guessing myself all the time and resolving to give in to my inspiration.


Hi ho.

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.