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Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Do you want to be delicious or true? Would you rather be sweet or salty? Would you rather be crunchy or moist? Did you forget that you have a choice? When we talk, we talk about things that go wrong, and places we've already been. We talk about how mistaken most of them are, and what we don't want for dinner, and who said something ignorant, and where are the handles on this thing, and why haven't they called me back, and aren't there more of these and who left this open and where are the others and will you forget again and why does it work that way when it doesn't even work and don't you agree that it wasn't all that, that she wasn't that great, that he didn't have much to say and where should I put this and do you think he's coming back or can I take this chair and why do you think she thinks you're funny when I don't? When we think about things, we're clouded by years of subconscious regret and longing and subterranean self-hatred and, yes, guilt. We look to the hills covered in snow, we notice how clear blue the sky is, and how your lips look rosy in the cold, and how nice it would be to tromp off into the woods, maybe with a few dogs and a heated blanket and a bottle of hot chocolate spiked with something innocuous, and even though the heated blanket would be weighed down by about a million batteries, that doesn't enter our minds. Actually, it does enter our minds, and shortly thereafter we ask where is our stop and why won't that baby be quiet and why didn't he shower before he left the house today and why are these oldsters going on about Enron and do they feel more responsible for it than we do and how many times worse will our Enron be when we can't shut up about Brad and Jennifer and Ben and Jennifer and Marc and Jennifer? How great will the world be when it's run by people who think mostly about Jennifers, around the clock? Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer. When we talk, we talk about things that went wrong, and people we never knew but thought we did once, but we didn't, we were mistaken. Who can't be friendly and clever? Who can't ask good questions and give empty answers? Who can't nod and agree? Who can't order the filet and ask for a clean spoon and scoff at radical notions and dismiss almost everything intelligently? Who says, "You have delightfully sharp elbows." "Thank you, I sharpened them this morning. You have a look that tells me you need to get laid soon." "No doubt. But maybe I need to use less product in my hair. Would that help?" "That hungry look isn't helped by the product, that's for sure. But that's just my opinion, the opinion of someone who savors the company of men who are indifferent or distracted. Men who focus make me nervous." "You're moving out of that, though. I can tell by how sharp your elbows are, and by the way your hair falls behind your ear, and the way your eyes get big when you see something interesting." "Ok, you're making me nervous now." "Nobody likes the truth." "I couldn't agree more. Let's be delicious instead."

7:52 AM

Monday, January 10, 2005


Dear Rabbit,

Excellent advice.  Funny and true, but...the green-eyed waitress don’t want me.

The raven haired lawyer, she’s married. That go-jus, smart, funny Asian graphic artist I fell for harder than I’d fallen in a long time is a hardcore drunk and she’s engaged to a drummer and ain’t interested. I want her happy – who doesn’t want happiness for the people they care about? – but this has “trainwreck” stamped all over it in indelible ink, and there’s nothing to do about it but watch it play out and hope she’ll survive the crash.

The research assistant has lots and lots of cats – lots -- and a little dog she keeps in her bag.  It pokes its nose out like the tip of a neurosis iceburg. The nice divorcee across the hall wants to talk about Sweet Baby Jesus.  Incessantly. Might be fun, but do you want to live next to it once it goes all Old Testament wrong?

The nice chica at the not-for-profit and her whole posse are all hearing each tick of “A Clockwork Biological” going off in their heads like mortar fire: They. Must. Mate. Now.  They are...The Sperm Hunters.

That woman at the gym looks long eyes at me. She’s huge. Sorry, but it matters. The last blind date couldn’t make anything like intelligent conversation; actually scared her...and I only brought my road game. The red-head friend who jumped the line after my divorce turned out to be every bit as bipolar as I thought she was. And could not control her temper.  And was both remarkably uptight and remarkably incompetent in bed. And crazy about me, but she’s back to being a friend now, and that is a 1:00 a.m. phone call I’m never going to make.

This isn’t just a bit of my own narrative; it’s the story of any number of people I know who aren’t bloodless cost/benefit calculators. It’s the asymmetry of the field of battle that’ll wear you down, y’know?  Render you a little risk-averse. Them as you want, don’t want you. Them as want you, ain’t wanted by you.

I wish it were as simple as “Go For It”, but it isn’t. I wish the folk wisdom of “he/she will come once you stop looking” were true, but it's not. Maybe sometimes, but don’t count on it to catch you when you fall. 

So a loud Amen! to “faint heart never won fair maiden” and a loud Amen! to “Dum vivimus, vivamus!” And, for that matter, amen to the sentiment and high ideals of socialism...as they exist in theory. But please don’t lose sight of the fact that human nature and conditions out in the real world can be a whole lot trickier and crueler than theories anticipate.


Dear Driftglass,

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. "Find someone who you can love passionately, dickcheeses, because it's fucking important to love and be loved" is not a theory. It's a way of life. The fact that conditions in the real world are cruel and tricky no more disproves the wisdom of believing in true love than the fall of the Soviet Union disproves Marx's theories about the corrupt, alienating nature of high capitalism.

Who would deny that conditions in the real world are cruel and tricky? Don't fucking talk to me about cruel and tricky, unless you want to hear about multiple failed experiments in cohabitation, starring a line-up of the wishy-washiest, flinchiest stoners ever to walk the planet in search of a big bag of salty snacks and a "Law & Order" marathon. Mistakes were made. There were errors in judgment. Some blamed bad timing.

Here's the thing: I didn't get out fast enough, ever. Instead, I wept and tore my hair and delivered rousing self-righteous monologues about the importance of commitment and building a belief in each other and accepting each other's flaws. Blah blah blah boringcakes! No one wants to be converted, least of all a flinchy stoner who'd rather watch Sam Waterson tsk-tsking another crime which so clearly reflects the sorry state of the human animal today.

I've been involved with lots of men who were wrong for me, and I was wrong for them. What does that say? It's hard to find the right person. All the more reason to redouble your efforts, as opposed to sitting on your ass, sipping on a big cold beer, whining to your friends about how this chick's a psycho and that chick wants a baby.

Love, my little dumplings, is worth the effort, and the effort lies in cultivating the right attitude about the world around you. Believing in your fucking place in the world, being a little bit romantic about your qualities, feeling good about what you bring to the table at your job, with your friends, wherever - these things matter. You do the things that make you feel like a rock star. You stop berating yourself around the clock for everything you aren't doing, and start congratulating yourself for the little things you get right consistently. You recognize just how worthy of love you are. It's not that difficult, just pay a little attention to some of your nicer qualities for once. Do the things that make you proud of yourself.

And then, other people have nice qualities, too, and you notice these more than you notice how they fit into one or another cliché. You open your eyes a little. The green-eyed waitress might not like you, but her friend really does, and she's sort of funny and actually pretty cute and it's not really that scary when she cries, for some reason. It's touching, even.

A good director can make an audience fall in love with anyone, just by revealing this or that little quality that makes the person glow, or this or that weakness that makes the person feel small. Start looking at the people you meet through a filtered lens. That doesn't mean you'll date the alcoholic or the mother with three insane kids who just filed for bankruptcy. It just means you're open to what's there, you're interested, you want to know more, you're not rushing to categorize and label every human you meet according to how they're sure to eventually disappoint you.

Look, you can still have a fucking sense of humor. You can still complain. Jesus christ, fuckwhackers, it's not like I'd ever keep you from complaining. Complaints? Them's salty snacks for the soul!

But if you're more aware of cruel tricks than you are of magic, honkies, you're fucked. You have to believe that good things are waiting around the next corner, no matter how many corners leave you empty-handed. Every time I buy a lottery ticket, I'm pretty fucking sure I'm going to win. I look up the numbers online the second they're available. Sometimes I even tune in for that moment when the numbers are announced, so I can watch each number come down the shoot and cheer each one, so that I'll discover that I won millions at the very moment that it happens. Keep in mind, I'm not an optimistic person, and I've probably played the lottery about 10 times total. But mostly I buy a lottery ticket so I can spend the day imagining that I'll win.

This is what I believe: If you imagine that you might just fall madly in love at any moment, it's far more likely to happen. Then, of course, you have to make sure he's not a fucking pudwhacker or a jerk or someone who'll drive you nuts or someone who'll never commit because he's indecisive and kind of child-like. Fuck, most people are child-like. He just needs to believe in you. Make sure she's interesting to you, and that she fucking believes in you, and wants you, and loves you, dipwings.

We've all been through all kinds of bullshit. But believing in love makes love possible, and deciding that it's impossible is fucking stupid. Getting hurt is no big deal, idiots. I've been hurt and hurt and hurt and hurt. Every time it's easier. You have to keep leaping, keep throwing yourself in. Find someone who's worthy of your crazy mind and your stupid notions and your filthy urges and your homemade waffles with blueberries on top. Fuck the flinchy and the fault-finding! Find someone who's fun and moody and sweet, someone who knows how to listen and apologize, someone with opinions about everything, someone who can't help but tell you how great you are, often. I know you can do it, fuckwieners. I'm counting on you.

In the meantime, make yourself some fucking waffles, and feel good about all the things you have to offer, because love does sometimes end, and the more you celebrate who you are, no matter how strange and messy, the more love you'll have to give and receive. Love, love, love. And if someone breaks your heart and leaves you for your best friend, find someone else to love. It's everywhere. It's all over the fucking place. Go get some, you dumb pumpkins! Stop collecting data and drawing conclusions, and start burning a little brighter.


8:04 PM

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columnist for new york magazine & bookforum, author of disaster preparedness, co-creator of filler for the late, great suck.com

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