Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

It’s come to my attention that conservative voters are low information voters.
Stupid is as stupid does.

Baby Boomers need to die faster.
I don’t care if they live or die. I just want their wealth to be redistributed with extreme prejudice.

So you would vote for Cynthia Nixon?
Over Cuomo in the primary? Fuck yes. Over any Republican in the general? Double fuck yes.

How is someone as wise as you so willing to support the worst politicians?
You are such a fucking child. Please grow up or shut up, because the rest of us are here to win and we are are done babysitting spoiled brats like you.

Do you listen to Chapo Trap House?
I tried for a minute. I really tried, but I couldn’t get into it. I don’t find them particularly likable, insightful, or entertaining. (I’ll take the crew over at Crooked Media any day of the week.)

How do I get laid when I hate people?
I dunno. It’s never stopped me.

My boyfriend and I are planning to do molly together, it’s my first time, but not his. Any advice to make the most of the experience?
Stay hydrated. Make sure you don’t have anything planned the following day that requires any significant concentration. Any special feelings that either of you express towards one another while rolling should not be held against one another afterwards. Most importantly, enjoy yourself. Feel all the feels!

Is it wrong/weird/immature if I have absolutely zero interest in remaining friends with any of my exes? Regardless of how the relationships ended.
It’s fine. Don’t overthink it.

Is radical kindness a good idea or am I just setting myself up to be a doormat?
Radical kindness is a great idea. The only way to end up a doormat is to be unskilled at setting and maintaining proper boundaries.

I had all of your playlists on my old computer, which sadly died and has since been replaced. I noticed the old playlists are lost in the ether and was wondering if you have plans to bring them back to life. If not, I’ll plan a weekend of building them all out in Spotify over some whiskey. Thanks for putting together such great mixes!
The old playlists are not lost in the ether. They’re all right here. I’d love it if you built them all in Spotify for me. Thanks!

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Thoughts

On my latest book list

Alright, we got a playlist THANK YOU! Now could we please have a book list?

 

Yes, yes. I know what time of year it is. Fair warning, though. I’ve spent the last long while coming out of my own personal dark night of the soul, so this year’s book list is pretty intense. It’s all about nature and art and death and resurrection. There’s some old-school wisdom and some new-school wisdom. Some of it is candy, and some of it is just plain weird. All of it has helped me gain perspective on who I am and what I believe to be true about the universe.

So, without further ado, here is my latest book list:

 

Religion Without God by Ronald Dworkin

Modern Man in Search of a Soul by C.G. Jung

The Gift by Hafiz

The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell

Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell

On Having No Head by D.E. Harding

Letters From A Stoic by Seneca

Metamorphoses by Ovid

The Republic by Plato

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald

The Dark Half by Stephen King

The Omen by David Seltzer

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Tinkers by Paul Harding

I Married You For Happiness by Lily Tuck

The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor

M Train by Patti Smith

The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Loving & Hating Charles Bukowski by Linda King

I Knew Jim Knew by Jim Walrod

How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art by David Salle

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren

Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky

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Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

Met a super hot older man a while back. He was passing through my city, we’ve stayed in touch since then. He’s married and has at least two lovers, one in his home city and one in my city (whom he was visiting). He writes me poetry and recently told me that he thinks he loves me. I’m being played, right?
Like a cheap violin. Unless the wife knows about you and the poetry, don’t entertain this douchebag. (And to be clear, he doesn’t love you. He doesn’t even love the idea of you. He loves himself, and he merely enjoys the way you make him feel.)

If I’m not physically attracted to him, that means I need to break up with him. Right?
That’s not what it means, but that’s what you’ll end up doing.

I feel super unhealthy around my family and always leave thinking I am a fuck up, both physically and mentally. But gosh am I healthy.
You’ve got a family of origin (mom, dad, etc.) and a family of choice (friends, mentors, etc.), each with its own system that governs your roles, your values, and your patterns of behavior. You feel unhealthy around your family of origin because the system itself is unhealthy, and you are its symptom bearer. Once you’re back amongst your family of choice, you feel healthy again because that system is (relatively) healthy. I don’t know why you’ve taken on the role of “fuck up” with your family of origin, but it definitely serves some sort of purpose, not necessarily to your benefit.

Why does he want to reconnect on social media after 10 years of not being connected?
I don’t know. Maybe ask him? Use your words.

I’m on my way to getting a picture book published, and all I can think about is that I’m going to fail to meet my deadline, that it probably won’t sell anyway, and that I just used my connection with the publishing house instead of working hard like a real artist. I’m doing my best to blow up all these self-sabotaging thoughts, but if you have any additional advice I’d really appreciate it.
Shut-up and get it done. Pour every ounce of your soul into the art. Do not give one solitary fuck if it sells.

How long do you give it before the college industry bubble bursts?
It already burst, but not like you think. Academia is capitalism-adjacent and not subject to the same market forces as, say, the mortgage industry. Nevertheless, there was a massive cultural shift over this past decade in the perceived value of higher education. The shift is what matters. It was a cultural bubble that burst, not an economic bubble. Now, if you’re asking how long before tuition drops, that depends entirely on who wins the 2020 election.

Finally admitted to myself that I’m in an emotional affair. Now what?
Now admit to yourself why you need it. The affair itself is just a symptom of a much larger problem. What is that problem? Once you figure it out, maybe try and solve it with some integrity.

What do you think about Jesus H. Christ and his teachings?
Overrated.

Just letting you know I had the best sex of my life last night.
Why wasn’t I invited?

Do you actually speak Latin?
I read Latin. Don’t really have anyone to speak it to.

Are you still friends with that guy you were madly in love with that suddenly moved on with that woman he just automatically hit it off with?
Yep. That seems like a long time ago. We’re all good friends now. They’re getting married.

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Advice

On leading an examined life

Maybe it’s just because my 28th birthday is in a week, but I’m feeling extra shitty about my life choices lately. By all accounts, I’m doing pretty ok: I’m making a living off a career I chose in high school and still love (with a fucking art school degree), I’m living in one of the best cities in the world and I’m about to move across the country to another one, I’m fairly attractive, decently in shape, and I have a boyfriend who loves me. I’m healthy, I’m paying off my student loans, and I’ve got amazing credit. So why do I feel like I’m wasting my life?

 

You’re basing your entire sense of purpose off of a checklist, and it’s not even your own fucking checklist. You’re trying to attain spiritual fulfillment using cultural capitalism’s default settings for being a good consumer. Sorry, but that’s a recipe for a big fat existential crisis.

Set the checklist aside and start leading an examined life. Go deep. I’m talking about religion here. Not the canned stuff, obviously, but real religion. Primal stuff about nature and consciousness and the mysteries of the universe. Ask the big questions. Explore the human condition. Get busy with moral philosophy, metaphysics, and aesthetics. Soak it all up. Learn, and then go do.

It doesn’t really matter what you end up believing or how you end up putting it all into practice. The process itself is how you discover a life worth living.

(Oh, and happy fucking birthday!)

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Fun-Sized Advice

On fun-sized advice

You can’t just go marching back here like you didn’t ABANDON me for MONTHS on end with no real explanation MOM.
I can do whatever I want.

Look….I understand being too busy for the blog, I understand being too busy for the advice column….but can we, pretty please, get a playlist? I miss those so much!
Boom.

A friend just told me she 100% believes in ghosts, and I’m just so irritated. I don’t have a question.
This is America. You’re gonna have to get used to all the dumdums believing in a vast array of painfully stupid shit.

I listen to music that is much cooler than I am.
No you don’t. You are exactly as cool as the music you love.

How do you make friends as an adult? Moved to a new city, have a decent job but am the only person in their early 20’s, everyone else is married with kids and acts like it.
Making new friends in a new city after college isn’t automatic. You have to work at it like it’s a second job. You have to put yourself out there. It’s almost like dating. (I mean, shit. There’s a reason BumbleBFF is a thing.) It also takes time. In my experience, it takes about two years to develop a new and genuine friend set from scratch. If every six months you get to know one new person you want to keep in your life, you’re ahead of the curve.

Guys from dating apps keep asking me to FaceTime before meeting up. What the fuck? Is this what we do now?
It’s what you do apparently. It’s not what I do. A grown-ass man wants a piece of my time, he’s gonna invite me to dinner or drinks like a proper goddamn adult. Fucking hell. If you post-millennial shitbirds start making me do the whole “back in my day” routine I swear to god I will burn this motherfucker down.

What is Jordan Peterson wrong about? I love you both by the way.
Ugh. I am so sick of hearing that man’s name. I get why there’s some crossover in my readership and his fandom, but I don’t want anything to do with that Canadian hack. He’s not worth my time. If you want a deadly accurate assessment of Jordan Peterson, go watch ContraPoint’s YouTube video. She nails it so I don’t have to. (Actually, go watch all of ContraPoint’s YouTube videos. She is hilarious and amazing and deserves her own Netflix series.)

Does it get easier, making conscious choices to change in the moment? Or is it always a slog?
Making conscious choices to change in the moment will always be difficult. What gets easier is everything else.

Going to a music festival alone. Good or bad idea?
Go. Just go. Quit worrying about the stupid idea and just go do all the things.

How would you like to be remembered? How do you actually think you’ll be remembered?
I won’t be remembered. None of us will. We will each be known briefly by the few who love us, and then we will all be dead forever.

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Advice

On hitting the reset button

After 3.5 years together, he ended it. Out of nowhere (from my perspective.) I thought everything was fine. I thought we were going to get married and have kids. He led me to believe that was the case. Now all of a sudden it’s over. I live in his apartment – everything is his. I own nothing, have no money, no plan. I centered my life around him, which was my own fault. I feel like I’ve been cracked open and nothing is left. I’ve never felt so low and I’m starting to feel genuinely scared of what’s going on in my own mind. I don’t want to be here anymore. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything’s dark.

 

Pack a bag, empty his bank account, and buy a one-way ticket to a city far, far away. Better yet, take his car and drive there. Find an apartment with roommates. Get a job, go to school, make friends. Build an entirely new life.

I’m deadly serious about all of that, but if it seems too extreme, then just start by packing a bag. Get out of his apartment as soon as possible. That’s the first step towards feeling whole again.

There’s no way you can see this yet, but you’ve been given a rare and precious gift. You get a fresh start with a clean slate. You get to hit the reset button on your life, and as terrifying as that sounds, it’s likely going to be one of the most profound and necessary experiences of your life.

Get going. You can do this.

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On the real enemy

Okay, so I may be totally off-base here. But am I the only one who’s suspicious of the consequences of impeaching Trump? Like, maybe that’s exactly what Russia wants us to do?

I don’t know. I admit I know jack about politics and I’m not very smart. It’s just that Russia has always been weirdly out there with their tactics (shit more nuanced and fiction-crazy than some of the shit the U.S. has done — thinking of the Cold War Georgi Markov ricin assassination here). It seems odd that a country with such a complex history of clever subversion would want a cartoon villain for U.S. President, and nothing more. Think about it. All our attention is on Trump right now. Even quite a few Republicans are galvanized to move against him, and we’re all converging on him without really thinking about anything else because, at the moment, his existence in politics is the worst thing anyone can think of. What if that’s exactly what Russia wants? We finally impeach him and we’re so up our own asses with heady victory that we don’t even see whatever it is they have planned next for us until it’s too late.

Am I an idiot for entertaining this idea? Should I hang up my tinfoil hat?

 

Russia is not a person. It’s a country. It has national interests, but not “wants” in the way you’re using the term. Vladimir Putin is a person, and he definitely has wants, but he’s also not a secret evil genius. I mean sure, he keeps plenty of secrets, he is cartoonishly evil, and he has a certain kind of Machiavellian genius, but we also tend to give him way too much credit. At the end of the day, he’s just a crime boss with nuclear codes. His interests are transparent and predictable.

It’s true, one of Putin’s overarching foreign interests is the slow and steady destabilization of Western Democracy, but we all know that. (Well, everyone but the President knows that.) Still, there’s no strategic mystery here, and to the extent that Putin has control over the Russian government, he will use state power to play his zero-sum spy-game of fucking with the United States and other NATO countries.

Now, no one — not even Putin — really believed that Trump was gonna win the Presidency. Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election was an effort to destabilize and delegitimize what everyone expected was going to be a Clinton administration, but Putin fucked up and accidentally got Trump elected. You’d think a Trump victory is what Putin would have wanted, but it isn’t. Putin was playing the long game, a low-key death-by-a-thousand-cuts style attack on the West. With the election of Trump, Putin got his hand caught in the cookie jar, and the Russian interference in our election provoked a massive immune response within the institutions of the US government that will likely culminate in impeachment proceedings against Trump.

If this massive institutional immune response ends up inoculating our government against further cyber and psychological warfare, then Putin overplayed his hand. If Democrats win back Congress in November, I think we’ll all see the fever break. There will finally be legitimate hearings into the 2016 election. There will be election reform. There may even be impeachment proceedings. Then again, maybe not. Democrats may not win back Congress. Trump could end up serving out his term, nominating another Supreme Court justice, and maybe even winning reelection. It’s possible, but none of that would be due to any nefarious Russian subversion. It would be due entirely to American stupidity.

So yeah, long story short: Don’t be afraid of Russian subversion. Be afraid of American stupidity and the institutions that foster it. (I’m looking at you, Fox News.) That’s the real enemy. An unsophisticated domestic electorate is infinitely more dangerous than a sophisticated foreign adversary.

In other words, educate yourself, get involved, and GET OUT THERE AND FUCKING VOTE.

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Advice

On your father’s death

I knew my dad was going to die soon. It took fifteen minutes to resuscitate him two days prior. We agreed with the doctor not to be aggressive in treatment after they extubated him.

When he regained consciousness, it was without awareness, his tongue lolling and his eyes rolling into his head. He would barely focus on people when they spoke directly to him. He couldn’t answer even the simplest questions.

His breathing was labored and fast. As they gave him sedatives and pain medication it began to turn wet and I imagined it would soon culminate in either a severe struggle, or series of terrible and unforgettable sounds. Between machines with alarms going off and the sounds of him drowning, it might be unbearable.

My mother, not fully understanding the situation, kept trying to talk to him. I carefully weighed leaving my father to die alone against saving my mom from an experience that might destroy her. I honestly felt that if she had to remember my father’s death rattle she would literally go insane. I know I only barely felt strong enough to believe I could.

To my mind, my father had already died. Forcing her to watch as the nurses swept away the pieces just didn’t seem right. Or worse, some terrifying moment of struggle that made her feel even more powerless would just be torture.

I told her I would take her home to rest. We said our goodbyes and promised to check on him the next day. Both doctors had already explained the prognosis was extremely poor. And my mom tried to push it aside by saying that she didn’t like this doctor or that doctor.

Moments after we got home the phone rang and we were asked to return as my father had passed. I looked out the window and it began to rain. Even after all that contemplation, I still don’t know if I did the right thing. Did I?

The week before, when he finally got the tube out the last time, he finally said, “I love you.” Something I swear he’s only said to me maybe twice before. And I couldn’t understand him through the mask clearly enough to be certain. I asked him to repeat it but he was very weak and didn’t. I feel like I denied him that. And then, I abandoned him.

I don’t know what to feel. But I am hurting.

Did I do the right thing?

 

Yes, you did the right thing. You needn’t carry any measure of guilt for not bearing witness to the exact moment of your father’s death. He certainly wasn’t conscious at the end, and you had already said your goodbyes. You spared your father a final indignity and you protected your mother from further trauma. You did what you thought was best, and it seems like it was exactly what your father would have wanted you to do.

And no, you didn’t abandon him. You didn’t deny your father any opportunity to express how he felt about you. He had an entire lifetime to express how he felt, and if he wasn’t the kind of man to tell you that he loved you, then that’s on him. That’s his missed opportunity, not yours.

My condolences on your loss, for whatever that’s worth. It’s perfectly okay to not know what to feel right now, and it’s going to hurt for a very long time. It’s supposed to. Don’t rush trying to feel normal again. It’ll happen when it happens.

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On resonance and inevitablity

The past couple of posts that you have written, I have found a resonance with them. Your replies, though less frequent, are very fulfilling for me. There was a cheekiness early on that I LOVED very much from you. But, what you give me now is more adult, less sweet or lurid, it’s deeper. Your words are more important now; they hold more weight. You always seem to write, right when I begin to miss you the most.

I mean this,

I love you very much.

But I still miss you (or the idea of you, or the fun version of you I had in my mind, or the no bullshit cokehead 25-year-old you)

But I like this you. It’s lovely.

 

Thank you. I don’t miss the 25-year-old cokehead me, but it’s nice to know that crazy bitch left an indelible mark on something other than my liver. A decade ago someone asked me how I maintained, and I remember acknowledging the fact that I would eventually have to move the party up the hill. That’s what I’ve done, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally. When I left Los Angeles, I cashed in my youth for a greater sense of purpose, and it was worth every ounce of cheekiness.

I have officially moved into the dinner party phase of life, and as you say, it’s more adult, less lurid, and much, much deeper. The fun part is recognizing that there’s a grand inevitability to it all. I see that in another ten years, I’ll be discovered by the teenage offspring of my original readers and looked upon as some decadent subcultural artifact from the aught years, an era of naiveté when we gave away our privacy for free and still believed that having a bumbling cowboy as President was the worst thing in the entire world.

In the meantime, I get to speak in my adult voice. You find resonance in that voice because we’re all adults now and we’re terrified to discover that not only are we the ones in charge, but that we’re all still faking it, our parents were all faking it, and every generation before us was faking it too. None of us have ever had any fucking idea how any of this works, and at any moment it could all end in thermonuclear war, or worse, because we were texting while driving.

The nihilist in me appreciates how little control we have over our own fate. My inner child has always been the type to let go of the handlebars, so I don’t mind one bit that we’re all hurtling rudderless into the void. I like this part. I’m really good at being the adult in the room, not because I have some special wisdom that comes with age, but because I’m perfectly comfortable with the fact that as a species, we are totally and completely full of shit.

 

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On doing it now

I don’t feel worthy of the kind of person I want to date. I’m working on my body, my career, my life, but feel like I can’t start looking for a partner until I’m in some perfect spot in the future that might never come. This also bleeds into friendships where I crave closeness but also can’t let myself drop my guard enough to build that intimacy.

How would you advise someone works on this? Apart from therapy. I’m looking into that as soon as my insurance kicks in.

 

I wish confidence was a bodily fluid. I wish I could spend my nights catching average white men in nets baited with vinyl records and vape pens and then milk their excess confidence like snake venom. That’s all you need, really, a healthy dose of the undeserved confidence of an average white man. (And by average I don’t mean typical. I mean mediocre. Those uninspired fuckers are brimming with the stuff.) I wish I could bottle up that warm, slippery goo and then sell it to people like you on the black market. I’d be rich and you’d be happy and the world would be a better place.

In lieu of this service, all I can do is attempt to inspire you to build your own confidence through mental and emotional exercise like some personal trainer of the soul. That’s a bit of a trick for me, because it’s difficult to inspire someone like you without dragging out a sackful of stale-ass Tony Robbins style self-help clichés about tuning into the present moment and not letting the perfect become the enemy of the good.

I mean, shit. I hope your insurance kicks in and all, but you don’t need a therapist to tell you that the future doesn’t exist. It never has and it never will, especially the one in your head where you’ve accumulated enough external indicators of value to finally warrant being loved by someone.

This moment right here and right now is all you’ve got. It’s fine to work on your body, your career, and your life, but not for the sake of some far off imagined future. The work you do has to give you sustenance now. Start getting messy today. Let your fucking guard down already. Take a risk. It doesn’t have to come from a place of confidence. It can come from a place of howling terror, as long as it comes. As long as you come. Now. Do it.

Now.

I don’t have a syringe full of undeserved white man confidence, but I am high enough at the moment to instead give you literally just one word of advice:

Now.

One more time for the cheap seats:

Now.

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