Monday, September 15, 2014

Coffee and Havoc

Disclaimer: This is not a rant against coffee snobs. I like snobs. Yes, they can be annoying. We can all be very annoying.

I am a little grossed out by the fetishization of coffee and its contrived association with comfort. What I’m referring to is any time you hear or read “curl up with a book and a cup of coffee.” And maybe I hear/read this more than others, because I do drink coffee and read books, sometimes even at the same time (but I prefer reading and drinking hard alcohol). Maybe it’s not cliche.

So, sure, I drink coffee when I read. However, “curling up” makes drinking coffee and reading at the same time improbable for me. I have three options, and I may only select two. Even if not for the immediate physical difficulties, it’s impractical. When I drink coffee, which I suppose is mostly at home and in the mornings, I have to shit. Even if I already took a shit, apparently my caffeine addiction is such that if I don’t have coffee, my colon forgets there is more shit to be shat.

And if I don’t have coffee, I’ll forget where I put my car keys, and my wallet, and my time. Mind you, I only drink two (extra large) cups of coffee (with a shot of espresso in each) every single morning (and maybe more in the afternoon if I’m off from work ((or, fuck it, even if I’m at work)) that day).

Comfort? Screw comfort. I need coffee to live like a human being. Being a human is not comfortable.

And that’s what the Scotch is for.

And everything else.

Forever and ever.

Amen.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Spam of Good Intentions

One of the more peevish aspects of being a writer, or any kind of artist, is that you are continuously offered unsolicited advice from people who have very little understanding of what it is you actually do. I realize individuals in other fields experience the same badgering, but it's a little easier for a nurse or a steelworker to tell an unqualified opinionator to shove off.
One of my (least) favorite forms of unsolicited advice, is having someone remind me that all great writers and artists started off as failures.

My question for anyone who dares send me any version of this link (there are a few variations), is how naive do you think I am?

Do you assume I believe my heroes to be perfect in every way? Do you really think my inability to be perfect is the source of the anxiety that is still holding me back? Granted, I'm a people pleaser. But I also understand I cannot please everyone. I'm getting better at this. I'm also a meddling perfectionist, procrastinatorial apologist, etc. I piss and shit and fall asleep at night. I get it, I'm human. Some list you found on Buzzfeed isn't bringing me closer to enlightenment.

This is shitty advice because a lot of artists and writers would have been considered failures for their entire lives until after they died, and only then did their work catch on. It's such a familiar cycle of artistic "success" that it borders on cliche. But I guess it's more my job to be concerned about perpetuating cliches, not yours, Mr. McBusybody. But my point remains; how is that encouraging?

But let's go back to this idea of famous writers receiving rejection letters. Thank you, everyone who forwards me this link, but this is nothing revelatory. All of my peers and colleagues have been rejected. All of my mentors have been rejected. In grad school,  on the very first day, I was introduced to Rejection Wiki. I learned very quickly that rejection from publications, both minor and major, is actually an honor in and of itself. It means someone read your work and maybe even put some thought into it. As writers, that's all we're really ever asking for. So, yeah, I'm not surprised Stephen King was rejected multiple times from multiple publications. I probably won't even receive rejection letters from The New Yorker. I won't receive a letter of acceptance, either. I'll still probably flood a certain New Yorker editor's inbox come Halloween, should my submissions make it past her purportedly aggressive curse word filter, because that's just what we do.

It's not the thoughtful, professional rejections that keep me up at night. It's the rejection from everyone else, and that includes you. When you forward me this link, or any other form of thoughtless, hollow advice, for the umpteenth time, you're essentially rejecting me. You're not listening. When it comes down to it, you only have the best of intentions. In essence, you're telling me to "try harder." I would like to pay this kind of encouragement back to you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Here's Why You Shouldn't Care about Jennifer Lawrence's Nude Pics

I first found out about the release of Jennifer Lawrence's nude pics (along with the pics of a bunch of other female celebrities nowhere near as popular as her at the moment) through an article imploring me not to look at them.

I agreed with the article, and then realized my newsfeed was about to be besieged in an onslaught of articles regarding JLaw's bare body.

I realize none of us have any choice but to care about this issue. We're all at risk of having our computers hacked. We all have said or done things on our computers that we'd rather the world not know about. We're not celebrities, so we have both less to gain and less to lose.

The media has gone so far as to call this a "scandal," cause, you know, celebrities, nudity, blah blah blah. I agree with Scott Mendelson, though, it's most definitely not a scandal. It's an attack. Naked photos do not necessitate the hacking and sharing of said photos. Lena Dunham tweeted, "The 'don't take naked pics if you don't want them online' argument is the 'she was wearing a short skirt' of the web. Ugh." I wholeheartedly share this sentiment. While rape and the hacking of nude pics are not the same crime, they both fall on the spectrum of violation. I shouldn't have to define "violation."

But, of course, people want it to be scandalous because people hate naked bodies. They shouldn't. It's dissonant. We love sex, we love suggestions of sex. There is nothing wrong with that so long as we are not violating others. Jennifer Lawrence is gorgeous. She has nothing to be ashamed of. I am not gorgeous, by my reckoning (have you ever smelled me? Seriously), but I shouldn't be ashamed of my browsing history, or the awful short stories I've typed and summarily deleted, etc. And yet for some reason I am ashamed. What the fuck is that, society? Shame serves a valuable function. You're supposed to feel bad when you've done something wrong. There is nothing wrong with the human body, and if you think it's designed by God then there's especially nothing wrong with it.

You should feel shame if you look at naked pictures of someone that you weren't supposed to see. You shouldn't feel shame if someone sees you naked. It's only complicated because we make it so. We're animals and we're going to die, and god forbid we acknowledge that from time to time.