What’s My Purpose? Who Cares!

If I hear the words, “passion”, “purpose”, or “calling”, one more time I might puke all over this keyboard.  Like projectile vomit.  If you’ve ever had to search for a job, change a career, go to school, you know these words well.  And I call bullshit on them.  Is it so heinous to believe that some of us may not have a purpose that’s tied to a career?  A lot of us believe that God is managing an assembly line of souls and bestowing a  purpose on each of us with his almighty magic wand.  Let’s see now…Michael you’re going to be a phenomenal singer and dancer *bloop*.  Stephen you’re going to be a physicist *bloop*,  Maya you’re going to be an iconic poet *bloop*,  Ted…well Ted…let’s see, how do I say this? You’re going to be a…well it’s not really a profession per se.  Um, well son, you’re going to be cog in a corporate wheel. Sorry.  Most likely your life’s purpose or your destiny isn’t floating around in the ether (along with unclaimed soulmates) waiting for you to snatch it up like a lightning bug.  While society will cram your head with successful people who’ve found their calling, and hold you to those same expectations, most of us have to find purpose in something that isn’t going to make us any money or provide us any fame.

You may be waiting to hear the sound of bullets loading into a revolver, but that’s not what’s happening here. This mindset should come as a relief.  No longer do you have to stay on a never-ending holy grail or fountain of youth-like quest for a job that you’re passionate about.  What if you decide to flush that idea down the toilet and say to yourself, “You know what, I’m going to find purpose and passion in something outside of my job.  I may not even go looking for it.  Shit, I may already be doing it.”  Would that be so bad?

Why do we tie our self worth and our identity so tightly to our careers? The idea of finding passion and purpose in our jobs has been shoved down our throats since elementary school.  Remember career day?  John’s dad is a police officer.  He keeps everyone safe.  Cindy’s mom is a nurse.  She helps sick people.  We’re wired to think that everyone must be a contributing member of society and you better be super psyched about the role you’re given. When you start thinking about a “calling” 1) It better be respectable.  2) There better be a track record of people making good money while doing it. 3) You should probably try to make a difference in people’s lives 4) Oh, and if it’s interesting and exciting that’d be great too (this is a modern one, I think).  Jesus, it’s no wonder why a bunch of us are depressed, anxious, unfulfilled shells of humans.  Basically society tells us that if you can’t find a job that you’re proud of, that makes a difference, and makes you money while doing it, then you’re a worthless piece of unambitious doo doo.

If you find meaning in the work you do that’s great!  The world needs people like you.  Additionally you may find a career with purpose and fulfillment later in life, and that’s great too.  However, if you’re not one of these people, then don’t let this silly American ideal of having a job that fulfills you, ruin your life (or even your day).  No matter what job you have, don’t let those 8-10 hours dictate how you feel about yourself.  It’s. Not. Worth. It.

If you feel like you’re never going to find a career that is meaningful and makes you want to spring out of bed every morning, stop worrying so much and stop giving so many fucks.  I’m not writing this to say give your middle finger to the man, quit your job, and begin your lifelong passion of breeding llamas.  No.  Sometimes we have to have jobs that we don’t like for serious reasons like affording rent, childcare, health insurance, etc. That’s honorable in itself.  Find purpose and passion elsewhere because, in my non-expert opinion, only a small percentage of us find it in our jobs.  You can find purpose in just about anything: coming home everyday and drawing comics, playing with your kids, gardening, taking your dog for a walk, holding the door for someone, not being a dick (this one is a biggie (no pun intended) and it’s in demand. Hell, if you’re not an asshole, you’re a huge success in my book), taking time to raise your kids so that they don’t turn out to be dicks when they grow up (another important one), taking care of a sick relative, painting, writing, making dinner for your family, making someone smile, reading, learning another language, etc.

Basically you can find your purpose in anything.  Who are we to say we fully understand what our purpose is?  Kind of arrogant of us, right?  It’s possible that our true purpose is beyond our understanding. So in the end, relax, try not to be a dick to other people, and enjoy the ride as much as you can while hanging onto the boat during the storms.

Btw, some physicists believe there’s a 50% chance we’re all a simulation.  If that’s not a great reason for you to stop worrying about finding a profession with purpose, then I don’t know what is.


Impatience Is A Bitch

Patience is a virtue, but let me tell you, impatience is a bitch. Impatience is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. But finally, I’ve made the decision to quit impatience. I’m done, finished, through, gtfo of my life you little toe-tapping son of a bitch. Impatience is that voice in your head that’s sighing and rolling his eyes behind you in line at Starbucks because you’re taking too long to figure out what you want to order. After his third sigh you get all flustered and order a vanilla bean frappuccino, which doesn’t even have any caffeine in it, and then you try to whip out your credit card, and instead coins fly out of your purse and spill all over the floor. Impatience is behind you in his tailored suit and designer glasses, muttering, “Jesus christ, get your shit together”. We’ve all had this asshole standing behind us in our minds. It’s time for you to take your keys, whip around, and jam the sharpest one right into the judgmental eyeball of that bastard.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? Yes, but impatience is hard to quit and here’s why:everyone fucking loves impatience.

I can’t quit you, impatience. Yes, you can! Image provided by quickmeme.com.
  1. Our society LOVES impatience.
    Think about it. We praise those who are “naturals” in their field. We mislead ourselves into thinking that genius comes from natural abilities instead of hard work. Did you suck at math when you were a kid? Then you must be an inferior human because you just didn’t get it on the first try. Suck at making free-throws on the basketball court? Well I guess you’re just not a natural athlete. We’re even obsessed with “chosen one” characters in movies: Goodwill Hunting, Limitless (although this is drug-induced), Harry Potter, Matilda, etc.) Practice is pointless because you’ll only get to a certain point due to your lack of natural talent. THIS IS BULLSHIT. These storylines in the media, the arts, as well as hearing your co-worker or neighbor talk about their gifted child all day, can drastically warp our sense of reality and make us incredibly impatient. A’int nobody got time for hard work and practice these days. If we’re not good at something the first few times we do it, then we give up. But here’s a little secret: most of us are not geniuses without working for it. You’re not going to realize on a drunken night that you’re the world’s most talented billiards player and didn’t even know it. You don’t even play pool and now you’re number one in the world? Amazing! Nope, nope, nope. This isn’t going to happen. Sorry. Get your ugly crying out of the way. However, if you’re one of the 5% of people in the world that has patience, you’re going to be incredibly successful. You’re not going to care about timelines. You’re only going to care about what you can do to be better at whatever it is you want to improve. So the next time impatience laughs at you when you whiff a golf ball, slowly give him the middle finger with your gloved hand. If you practice and have patience with yourself, you’ll most likely be better than when you started.
  2. Your family and friends LOVES impatience and expect him to show up at every party or family gathering.
    This one’s a toughie. If you are lucky enough to have decent loved ones, then they’re going to care deeply about your goals and dreams. If you fail, they’re going to feel it too. While you appreciate the support, seeing the sad faces of some of your loved ones when you tell them about a setback is like a double-barreled donkey kick to the chest. They want you to be successful and happy as quickly as possible. If you don’t tell your loved ones that whatever it is you’re working on will take a long time, then they’re going to see any delay as a negative. Be honest with your loved ones. Tell them you’re trying to be patient with yourself and most likely they will respect the amount of time you need for your goals.
  3. And deep down you LOVE impatience
    We all have this fantasy that we’re going to be discovered without doing any work. I have several of these. One is I’m at a bar telling my friend about a story idea. Unbeknownst to me an editor from a major publishing house just happens to be visiting Dayton, Ohio, and she’s sitting right next to me. She buts into my conversation and says, “I just overheard you telling your friend about your story, and wow, it sounds spectacular. Why don’t you send me a copy of your manuscript as soon as you can.” I haven’t even written the story. All I have is some idea floating around in my head. Sounds pretty sweet, right? Sure, but it’s not going to happen. We all have this crazy emotional love affair with impatience. Why? Because the alternative is working hard, failing, working hard, failing, and working hard some more. But the alternative is the only way it’s going to happen. As soon as we realize that we can begin to let go of impatience. You can even tell him it’s you, not him.

So what is impatience doing for you? Probably nothing besides giving you an eye twitch and maybe even a drinking problem. So be patient with yourself in whatever you’re doing. Put in the time, the research, the energy, and don’t compare yourself to other’s timelines. Everyone has a different reason why they are where they are in a certain point in time. So now, lock your front door, gather all of impatience’s belongings, and go to the highest window in your home. When he starts banging on the door and screaming your name through the street, open the window and drop all of his shit all over his head. Be sure all of your neighbors are watching.


Thanks “The Cloverfield Paradox” for Making Me Feel Better About My Shitty Day

The characters in The Cloverfield Paradox had a shittier day than I did. Photo courtesy of Netflix/Paramount.

When you wake up worried that your house is going to blow up, you’re probably not going to have a great day. Let me provide a little bit of backstory before I set the scene. My husband and I are lucky enough to live in a beautiful, older neighborhood.  While older homes may have a lot of “charm” they also have things like ancient, decomposing pipelines that can cause natural gas leaks and blow up your house. And I’m not just being dramatic. About two months ago, a house two streets over blew up from a suspected natural gas leak. The house is now a pile of wood and mangled pipes, and unfortunately the woman who lived there passed away in the explosion.

This was especially frightening for me.  Things that can kill you while you sleep, like carbon monoxide, fires, natural gas explosions, undetected heart murmurs, terrify me.  I’m that spaz that quadruple checks things like lights, burners, and even outlets before I go to sleep.  I even do it if I’m spending the night at someone else’s house.  Do I trust Susan to turn off the stove after we had been drinking all night? Hell no!  So imagine my horror when we smelled gas in our basement Sunday morning. With no bra and un-brushed teeth I ran around the house packing up valuables: my laptop, a hard copy of my current manuscript, contact lenses, underwear, my expired passport for some reason, and threw three golden retrievers and one beagle into my car (I’m dog sitting my parents’ dogs).  I drove around waiting to hear from my husband, nauseous, wondering if I would come back to a house that transformed into a smoldering pile of sticks. Meanwhile the dogs almost suffocated me and fogged up the windows with their rotten, fishy-smelling breath. Thankfully, the gas company determined there weren’t any major leaks in any of our pipelines, but instead it was our malfunctioning furnace that caused the gas smell.  The only damage was a nasty bump on my head while trying to get the dogs in the car, and a  scratch on my car when I was trying to get all of the dogs out of the car.

**Does this post sound like I’m whining?  I know it does.  Sorry about that.  Stick with me here; I promise I’m going to get to a point soon**

For a person who has been fearing a natural gas leak for the past two months, I was a little shaken by the end of the day.  By that night, when our furnace was working, my husband and I sat on the couch hoping to take the edge off with a few adult beverages.  Unfortunately for me, my liquid anti-anxiety antidote wasn’t working.  Even after sipping on a bourbon I still felt jittery adrenaline pinging through my veins.  I was completely freaked out…until I started watching the movie The Cloverfield Paradox on Netflix.

There’s nothing like a mediocre, but creepy, quasi-prequel (?), sci-fi movie to give you some perspective in your life.  The movie (which in my opinion is a modern version of Event Horizon) is about a group of scientists who go on a space mission to find more resources for Earth.  Unfortunately for them, they are propelled into an alternate dimension and begin to have a pretty fucked up day.  As they enter into another dimension they also unleash the monster/aliens we see in the first Cloverfield movie.  Thanks guys. After the movie’s one light-hearted moment involving the crew listening to some old school hip-hop and playing foosball, things go downhill fairly quickly for everyone.  A Russian dude (you gotta have a Russian in a space movie, right?) starts having a major issue with his eye and eventually has worms bust out of him.  An Irish guy (who btw, is the guy who plays the main love interest in Bridesmaids) gets his arm gobbled up and spit out by a wall (yes a wall).  Then an English woman (who looks like a younger, more attractive version of Tilda Swinton) pops up out of no where, trapped in a wall with a bunch of wires weaving in and out of her body.  By the end, all of the characters meet some unfortunate demise.  To the five people who read this blog, sorry for the spoiler.  You can guess by the first fifteen minutes what’s going to happen.

It’s one of those movies where you don’t feel warm and fuzzy after you’ve watched it, unless you had a messed up day like I did.  Even though I didn’t particularly like the movie, it got my mind off of things that bothered me earlier in the day.  Yes I may have had a shitty day, but at least I wasn’t propelled into an alternate dimension where logic doesn’t apply and everyone dies.  The fact that it gave my husband and I a chuckle after a stressful day was priceless.  Say what you will about stories that only exist for escapism, but I think they play an important role in our lives.  Even the most ridiculous of stories can provide a laugh, a sense of presence, and may help lower a pulse that’s been on overdrive for several hours.  So for that, I thank you Cloverfield Paradox.  Even though your plot was a little silly, I was engaged the entire time, and that’s all I needed after a shitty day.

See, I came to some kind of point, even though if it was after 800ish words.



Sorry, Hatsune Miku, But You Suck

Hatsune Miku “performing” on stage. Image provided by Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com/famous-hologram-j-pop-star-hatsune-miku-2016-5

You may be thinking one of two things right now. 1) Who is Hatsune Miku, and why is Andrea being such a bitch to her? Or 2) I know who Hatsune Miku is, and this conversation is so 2014. For those of you in the first category, Hatsune Miku is a Japanese pop star hologram who has enormous eyes, unnaturally long, blue pigtails, and unrealistic body proportions. Hatsune Miku, whose name translates to “The First Sound of the Future”, was born in 2007 as a 16 year old girl by the Japanese company, Crypton Future Media (if this name doesn’t sound like a company that will one day partner with a government contractor to create A.I. soldiers and kill us all, then I don’t know what else does). Being the first of her kind, Hatsune Miku quickly became an international sensation. In 2014 she became even more popular when she toured with Lady Gaga.  And I think she sucks.  Why? Because she’s not an artist. She’s a hologram with a synthesized voice and no feelings. Anyone who wants to argue the opposite are the same people who think their stuffed animals have feelings. While they may be cute, they don’t care if you accidentally leave them on the side of the road in a thunderstorm (sorry Ducky).

Alright, alright, Andrea, jeez…it’s 2018, why do you care so much about a hologram that was popular in 2014? About a week ago I watched a story on CBS News about musicians who are “coming back to life” on stage as holograms. I would rather watch someone on Youtube than pay to see a hologram, but that’s just me.  However, hologram versions of dead musicians were, at one time, incredibly talented artists. But then the story also spoke about the popularity of Hatsune Miku, who has never been alive. Hearing this story made me wonder: can an artist be computer generated? My answer is a solid, fist-pounding, red-faced no.

In my non-expert opinion, art is a reflection of the human experience. It’s empathy, it’s passion, it’s sadness, it’s happiness, it’s pain, it’s pleasure…everything! Any emotion you’re feeling right now can be bottled up in some artistic medium and regurgitated out to the world.  Do you want to choreograph a ribbon dance that represents your frustration with being a cog in the corporate wheel?  Well then go ahead and entwine yourself in pastel sashes and sashay your little artist heart out on the stage.  As a human this is a privilege we all have.  Our world can be a pretty fucked up place sometimes, so how lucky is our species to have the ability to express our thoughts and our feelings in other ways besides mansplaining to your cubicle mate or bitching to your girlfriend over a glass of chardonnay? Not only are we lucky to have the ability to create art, but we are also lucky to have the ability to see art and possibly feel what the artist is feeling. While we may not always empathize with the artist, by viewing their art we can get a snapshot of their life.

Human emotions can be transferred through art even if you’re watching it on T.V. For example, during the Grammy’s I watched Lady Gaga sing “Million Reasons”.  Even though I was watching her in my living room, I could feel the heartache and the beauty that I know Lady Gaga tried to convey in that performance. Say what you will about the Grammys and the commercialism of the artists that are nominated, but tears welled up in my eyes as I watched her perform that song.  For a moment I shared an emotional experience with another person I’ve never even met.  That’s a power that only humans can transfer through art.

Hatsune Miku cannot do this. She cannot create art or perceive art. She is a hologram without feelings, without real memories, and without loved ones she can fall in love with and lose. Shit, she was “born” as a sixteen-year-old; she didn’t even have to go through an awkward, ugly middle school phase. That reason alone makes me want to discount her legitimacy as an artist. And no, I’m not saying that all artists have to experience horrible things in their life to make art. Not at all. However, you do need a beating heart and an authentic perception of your world.  Hatsune Miku has never experienced anything and she never will.  So, sorry Hatsune Miku (and all you other future robot artists because I know people are going to attempt it), but as an artist, you suck. You are not my peer and I don’t care about your computer-generated view of the world.  Now, hopefully I’ll remember to delete this when the robot revolution happens in thirty years…


Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge

Howdy!  If you’re an aspiring author, like me, you should definitely check out author Chuck Wendig’s blog TerribleMinds.  Last Friday he posted a flash fiction challenge in which the writer must compose a flash fiction story (1,000 word or less)  based on the Sza’s lyric, “Why is it so hard to accept the party is over?”. Check out the challenge here.

Below is my stab at the flash fiction challenge.  Buuuut, before you read it, please note this is my first ever attempt at writing flash fiction.  I believe my story is actually around 1,100 words, so I kind of cheated.  Also if it feels a little rushed, that’s because I wrote about 3/4’s of it this morning at 7:00 am (It’s due at noon).  However, I had fun writing it and I hope you have fun reading it.

“Why is it so hard to accept the party is over?”

For the fifth time Celeste snaked her way in between the racks of bikinis in Target’s junior department.  Every so often Kiley would throw one over the dressing room stall in a pre-menstrual teenage rage.

“Gaaaawd, this one doesn’t fit either!  Why couldn’t I have been born like Chelsea Fitzpatrick?  It’s not faaaair.”

This was Celeste’s third trip to Target this week in search of the perfect bikini for Kiley’s first spring break trip with her dead-behind-the-eyes teenage friends.  Celeste grabbed the last of the bikinis that Kiley hadn’t tried on yet, and headed back toward the dressing room.  Toby, her two year old son, was in the cart, happily playing with a small plastic hanger.  A pang of guilt shot through Celeste as she glanced at Toby’s sock-less feet.  Four loads of laundry waited in her apartment foyer, ready for her to take it to the laundromat.  There was no chance she would be able to drag both of the kids along with her peacefully.

“Moooom?” Kiley yelled from inside the dressing room. “Can you look at this one?”

Celeste lightly tapped on the door and Kiley unlatched it quickly.  Celeste scanned her daughter’s doughy, cellulite-dimpled body.

“That looks nice, Kiley.”

Kiley looked back in the mirror at her breasts that poured out of the top that was too small, “Do my boobs look ok?”

Celeste caught a glance of herself in the mirror.  Her eyes looked muted and worn, and her hair frizzed on top where she hadn’t brushed it yet that day. Her clothes were the same she wore to bed the night before.

“Hello?” Kiley rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, that’s nice,”  Celeste muttered.

Celeste hung up the four bikinis that were left and closed the door.  Toby now had the plastic hanger in his mouth, biting it viciously with his few teeth.  Celeste grabbed the hanger from him, instantly inciting a wail.  Another bikini top and bottom flew over the dressing room door.

“Ugh!” cried Kiley.

Celeste rubbed her hands over her eyes.  This can’t be it, right?  She left Toby there, crying in the cart, and wandered in and out of the racks.  She wanted to leave the store without them.  She wanted to go somewhere, anywhere.  Feeling another pang of guilt, she made a step back toward the dressing room, but stopped when she heard a giggle.  The laugh was heart-felt with a crisp, light tone. Celeste didn’t see anyone so she moved in the direction of the laughter.  Against the back wall was a group of four twenty-somethings, two guys and two girls.  The laugh came from a girl who had her back rested against the wall with one foot propped up against it.  She wore short jean shorts, boots, and a flannel shirt that was tied so that her perfectly toned midriff showed.  Purple and silver hair cascaded down her shoulders and framed her oval face and soft features.  She was the most gorgeous woman Celeste had ever seen.  She didn’t understand why, but Celeste was magnetized to the group.  She wanted to join them.

Suddenly as if she was in some kind of feverish, tunnel-vision state, her son’s cries and her daughter’s tantrums melted away.  Celeste followed the group as they strolled around Target, keeping her eye on the girl with silver-purple hair.  In the electronics section the girl ran her hand through her hair and laughed while touching her hand to her chest.  Celeste, a safe distance behind, did the same.  Near the bedding and bath section, the girl did a little twirl in the aisle in front of her boyfriend.  When they weren’t looking, Celeste did the same in her worn black leggings and baggy sweatshirt.  Celeste caught the eyes of some confused shoppers, but she didn’t care.  This was her chance.

Finally, without purchasing anything, the couples walked out the store with their I don’t have to be anywhere, floating strides.  Celeste froze behind them as they slowed down in front of a black, topless Jeep.  She hadn’t felt this good in years.  She had missed out on all of this.  On them.  She had to do something. She couldn’t just leave them.

“Hey!” Celeste called after them.

The four of them stopped and looked at Celeste.  Three of them stood with their brows furrowed and wide-eyed, but the girl with the silver-purple hair looked relaxed.  The girl didn’t smirk, but smiled lovingly, as if gazing at her own child.  Celeste waited for them to laugh or yell at her, but they didn’t say anything. They just waited.

“Um,” Celeste was coming to now.  Her tunnel widened again. She took a deep breath, “Can I go with you all?”

They didn’t move or say anything.

“Ma’m?” a voice called from behind Celeste, “Ma’m? Are these your kids?”

Celeste felt a sharp pain in her chest as she whirled around to see a security guard standing with Kiley, arms crossed and red-faced, and Toby, still in the cart playing with a bikini top in his mouth.

“Mom? What are you doing?” called Kiley, exasperated.

Celeste rubbed her forehead and hung her head.  It was over. As she took a step toward her family, suddenly she felt warm fingertips touch her hand.  It was the girl with the silver-purple hair.  Celeste turned to face her and looked into her deep blue, almost lavender eyes.  The girl gently brushed a piece of hair away from Celeste’s face.  Her touch produced a calmness that infected Celeste down to her bones and made everything still.  Celeste grasped the girl’s hand and held it to her cheek as tears fell down her face.

“You will always be with us,” whispered the girl in Celeste’s ear, “but for now, it’s over.  You have to go back.”  Celeste shook her head, and two tears dropped to the concrete.  The girl walked away slowly and stepped into the jeep.  Celeste watched as they pulled away, the sharp pain in her chest slowly receding.  She would never see them again, but she could feel the girl within her, like an electrical shock bringing her back to life.


3 Drafts and 3 Funerals: Killing Your Darlings

Yesterday I spent a few hours writing drafts of a blog post that bashed the movie Downsizing and heavily criticized the recent lack of good movies in Hollywood. In fact, I wrote three different versions of it. Each version was whiny, kind of long, attempted to be snarky, and above all they were negative. Each version left me with was a bad taste in my mouth. You know, the kind of taste you have when you’ve had too much fun the night before, and even though you brushed your teeth there’s still the hint of alcoholic heaviness and sourness in your mouth. Unfortunately while I had fun writing it, I realized that the only reason I wrote this piece was to tell a few jokes and to vent. There was a line I was particularly fond of about the New Years Eve ball squashing 2017, Mariah Carey, Jenny McCarthy, and the guy Jenny McCarthy always tongue wrestles. There was another line that I enjoyed writing about how watching Downsizing made me want to drown in a giant bottle of Absolut Vodka, which is what Matt Damon’s character should have done from the get-go. But alas, the post was a meaningless, steaming pile of negative doo-doo. After a few hours of it marinading in my mind, I realized it was shallow and I wasn’t proud of it. While I had worked hard on it, I decided to slash it, delete it and never post it.

Wannabe writers, like me, learn the phrase, “Kill your darlings” fairly early on in the process. If you do a google search for who originally said it you will get several different results. They vary from Stephen King, to William Faulkner, to Arthur Quiller-Couch (not entirely sure who he is…). I’m particularly fond of Stephen King’s version of it, which is, “Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” So what does that mean? Well, for you non-writers picture this: let’s say you’ve been trudging through the first draft of your novel and you finally write the most beautiful piece of prose that’s ever formulated in your head. Suddenly you think, wow, did I actually write that? It’s so beautiful, it’s so perfect, maybe I am a writer! Maybe I’ll even frame it! As you continue writing, occasionally you’ll flip back a few pages and peek in lovingly on your beautiful sentence, gently stroke its back and whisper, “I’ll never let anything happen to you.” Then one day a reader or an editor comes along and says, “Yeah, so this sentence is well constructed, but it really doesn’t add to the story. I would suggest cutting it.” The next thing you know your beautiful sentence-baby has been sentenced to death. To your horror it’s being tied to the stake and angry readers are lighting up their torches. You’re being held back by your fellow writers as you scream, “No! Nooo!!! My baaaby!” and you watch your beautiful sentence envelop in flames. Ok, maybe that image was a bit much, but hopefully you get the point.

I like to extend this philosophy to the purpose of my writing. If by the end of a project I’m not proud of it, I kill it. This is different from self doubt, by the way. If I’m only writing something to have a bitch-fest, then maybe I should think twice about writing it at all. Now of course, this is just my opinion that applies to my writing. If you are talented at constructing bitch-fests and love doing it, then by all means please do so. The rest of us will probably enjoy reading it.

Killing your darlings isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can still learn from the pieces of paper you crumble up and toss in the trash (even if you crumble up something like a law school diploma, like I did…that’s a whole other post). For example; I recently killed a story that I had been outlining for about three weeks. Although I enjoyed writing the outline, once I had the skeleton of the story on paper, I realized it had several fatal flaws. It was about a girl who was bitten by a fox, and thought she was turning into a ware-fox, but she really wasn’t…yeah, pretty bad. Trust me the world is better off without that story floating around. However, prior to this, I had never outlined any of my stories. I learned through this experience the importance of taking the time to outline. Lesson learned—thanks shitty ware-fox story!

Sometimes you may spend a year, if not several years, on a project and never see it come to fruition, but it can still be valuable to you. Not only is this true in writing, but also true in life. There are things that we work extremely hard on and we never see anything from it. However there is always something to learn from it. So don’t be afraid to kill your darlings, you sentence-murderers, you.


You Don’t Have to Have All of Your Shit Together

Well hello my unintended and unplanned audience!  In my very first personal blog post I’m going to write about having the guts to do whatever you want without having all of your shit figured out beforehand.  Before I get into that let me hit you with this disclaimer: Yes, I have a potty mouth.  Curse words seem to roll off the tongue and pen so nicely for me.  I’m sure there are worse atrocities going on in the world than a few profanities flying around the internet.  I probably won’t use them in every sentence like a HBO series, but there will most likely be one in each of my posts.  Sorry, not sorry.

Glad I got that shit out of the way.  Anyway, one of the things I’m grateful for as I become more mature and better at adulting is I’m becoming less concerned with making mistakes and more concerned with action.  In my twenties I had less grit, confidence, and was painfully indecisive.  If I wanted to do something, any word of caution from anyone would make me second guess myself and send me in an infinite tailspin of inaction.  I always had (and sometimes still do have) the mindset of I’ve made mistakes in the past, and no matter what, I don’t want to make another one.

Well friends, I’m here to tell you that no matter what you do, you’re going to fuck up.  No matter what you try, you’re going to make mistakes.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Mistakes imply that you were out there doing something, trying something, living your life, or bettering yourself.  You weren’t just sitting on your couch in your underwear, eating Cheetos and whipped cream, and binge watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians. No!  You bunch of fuck-ups were out there doing stuff, even if it was wrong!  Good for you!  J.K. Rowling stated this more eloquently when she said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”  Word.

Before creating this blog I sent a text message to my immediate family with a list of titles and asked which one they liked best.  Of course my Dad was the first to reply and said, “What about Newt Gingrich?” Thanks, Dad ;).  Then my oldest brother replied, “I like all your names but I think it depends on who you are wanting your audience to be.” Then my other, older brother replies, “Word. Like what are your core competencies?” At this point in the text I had a little chuckle, but also experienced a moment of hesitation.  I hadn’t given any thought to whom my audience may be and I don’t even know what core competencies are.  The insecure asshole that lives in my head (let’s call him Steve, most Steves are assholes), yelled through his scratchy megaphone, “Hey Andrea, dumbass, maybe you should have taken some more time to think this through.”  Suddenly I began to wonder if I should even have a blog, if the articles are going to be stupid, if I was a good enough writer, etc.  Steve and his negativity swept through my brain like a F5 tornado in a midwestern trailer park.  Luckily for me, more confident Andrea showed up with some steel-toed boots and kicked Steve right in the balls and said, “Fuck it, I may not have all of my shit together, but I’m going to do this anyway.”

While I know my brothers were trying to help me, I can choose to take their advice or keep moving without it. I’m creating a silly blog, not quitting my job and taking out a $30,000 loan to start an artisanal cheese and crackers food truck business (although if you want to do this I enthusiastically support this decision).  It’s ok to listen to advice, but don’t let it stifle your actions to the point where you’re entombed in a sarcophagus of indecision.  Listen to your more confident self.  If your more confident self says, “Hmmm, maybe you should plan this out a little more,” then do that.  If it says, “Screw that, just keep on keepin’ on,” then do that.  It’s amazing what can happen when you kick your Steve in the balls and just listen to yourself.  Just DO IT!  And if you don’t take my word for it, then perhaps you’ll be persuaded by Benedict Cumberbatch or Shia LaBeouf.