This is a quick heads-up that I will cease to care about anything or anyone else on the planet this Friday except for the four-part revival of “Gilmore Girls” on Netflix. Here are just a few things the existence of which I will forget about for six full hours:
My failed high-protein diet(s)
My unkempt eyebrows
Neo-nazis (see above)
Deep dish pizza vs. regular pizza
Daylight Savings Time
Zucchini noodles aka “zoodles”
The oceans (all)
The continents (all)
1066 (I know stuff happened but I forget most of it anyways blah blah England)
Most of History
Whatever generation I am
Non-fat Greek yogurt
Your racist uncle
Birth control methods (all)
Indiana (included in above “red states” but I want to forget it twice)
The New York Times
Sort-of-real-maybe news, but it was retweeted by Joss Whedon so who knows?
All birds, really
Whether or not there is a God(s)
Whether my direct deposit for work will kick in soon
The fact that we are all, as Dickens said, fellow passengers to the grave
Why? Because after this year, I deserve this ONE THING, OKAY? WE ALL DO! JUST THIS ONE THING! SIX HOURS! FOUR NINETY-MINUTE EPISODES! PLEASE JUST LET US HAVE THIS, UNIVERSE!
It’s been a nutty couple of months. I’ve been doing job searching while also finishing a draft of a Young Adult novel (aka YA for the uninitiated). It may or may not ever see the light of day (aka the shelves of a bookstore), but I’m pretty proud of having finished it. So proud, in fact, that I thought I’d share the wisdom I gained throughout the writing process for all my 17 blog readers. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Step 1: Come up with an original, never-before-imagined idea for your book. HAHAHAHAHA LOL J/K THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE DYSTOPIAN CHILD-KILLING-GAMES-MY BOYFRIEND-IS-A-VAMPIRE SUN; pick your poison, put your twist on it, and move on.
Step 2: Draft a detailed outline of your book, including key plot developments, character introductions, and emotional arcs. This one is easy: open a word doc and begin with Chapter 1. Then, halfway through outlining Chapter 1, give up and just begin to wing it because who has time for this shit?
Step 3: Write about 5,000 words of your book and feel pretty good about it. You know what? This isn’t half-bad! Teens would like this, right? RIGHT?
Step 4: Re-read your first 5,000 words and realize they are TERRIBLE. Oh my God, my dog could have written this. Why am I even trying? WHY AM I EVEN ALIVE?
Step 5: Cry
Step 6: Remember the E.L. James is a published author of poorly-written plagiarized fan-fiction and get your shit together. YOU CAN DO THIS, YOU WILL DO THIS!
Step 7: Get to 25,000 words and feel pretty good about it. You like your protagonist, and you hate your villain. There’s real conflict here, and some humor. You’re a good writer, you really are!
Step 8: Re-read the 25,000 words and remember that you are the worst writer to ever walk the Earth and also a terrible human being. OH GOD WHY DID I DO THIS? I’m a worthless hack. I’m going to go eat everything now.
Step 9: Cry while curled up into a ball on your bed and devouring a bag of pretzel twists dipped in an ENTIRE TUB of cream cheese while re-watching Star Trek: Voyager on Netflix. To be fair, this is my coping mechanism for all my setbacks in life, not just writing-related fails.
Step 10: Remember that if she could see you now, Captain Janeway* would tell you buck the fuck up, guzzle some black coffee, and get back to work, Ensign! I’m sorry, Kathryn, I was weak. I WILL KEEP WRITING RIGHT AFTER I STOP THAT WARP CORE BREACH AND PREVENT THE BORG FROM ASSIMILATING THE SHIP, CAPTAIN!
Step 11: Read a really good book by an excellent author and come to peace with the fact that you will never be that good but at least you can write grammar real good; and know how to do punctuation and stuff and things.
Step 12: Damn it.
Step 13: Finish your draft! Wow, what an accomplishment! Even if no one reads this, you’ve written a fucking book–how many people can say that?
Step 14: Go on Twitter and realize everyone and their mother has written a YA book just like yours. Fuck.
Step 15: Edit your manuscript which primarily deals with the lives of teens and realize that you have no idea about the lives of teens. I think I made a reference to desktop computers in there…do kids even use computers these days? Or do they operate their smartphones via chips embedded in their brains that allow them to send Snapchats with the firing of a single neuron? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND OUT ABOUT THIS? I guess I could ask an actual teen, but…ew, amirite?
Step 16: Shake your fist at the sky and curse the day that the first members of Generation C were born. Little bastards expecting their lives to be accurately depicted in literature–don’t they know that you are OLD AF RN?
Step 17: Remember that Generation C will soon supplant your Millennial Generation as the most hated of all time. Steeple your fingers while laughing maniacally at their forthcoming generational pain. NOW GO BUY MY BOOK, KIDDOS!
*I apologize for the obligatory Star Trek reference as I know certain people (ahem, L**) think all I do is talk about “Star Trek, Star Trek, Star Trek,” but I’ve basically just embraced being a ridiculous obsessed nerd so…yeah, get over it.
I’m back in San Francisco, and, after actually cleaning my apartment for the first time since I broke my foot two months ago, I am embarking on a personal spring cleaning exercise – TO CLEAN MY SOUL. Okay, so not my soul, per se, because I think that requires you to pay an indulgence to the Catholic Church. Or can you no longer do that because of the Reformation? What about Buddhism, can I pay money to cleanse my soul in Buddhism? Any other religions I should offend in this intro? No, all religions hate me already? Okay, cool, moving on.
In all seriousness, aside from the A-Z challenge, I got behind on some of my personal goals while I was laid up, so I’m putting them down here to keep me accountable. Congratulations, you are all now my life coaches. The position is unpaid and provides no benefits, but you do get my undying gratitude and occasional pictures of my manicures on Instagram:
Goal #1: Writing
I’ve been working on a YA project for a while, but keep getting distracted. My goal is to now write minimum 2000 words a day on that project through the month of May. I’ll maybe get a word count widget going on this blog to keep myself ULTRA accountable. Yay!
Goal #2: Fitness
Before I hurt myself, I wanted to run a 5K this year. This is still my goal. I can’t officially start trying to run until this weekend, but I am going to walk minimum 10,000 steps per day until then and then start “training” (also known as jogging for a couple minutes each day until I can then jog for, like, 5 minutes without dying, and going from there). I CAN DO THIS! (Right? Can I?)
Goal #3: Career
June 1st is the anniversary of my leaving the Goog, and by this Fall I’m probably going to look into getting a full-time gig again as I continue to work on writing, because I like money 🙂 Seriously, though, I want to take one action a week to investigate what job(s) I might like to do full time come Fall. This week, I’m talking to a recruiter at a cool company on Thursday, so we’ll see how it goes!
Goal #4: Mental Health
I didn’t feel my best mentally this past week, partially because I got REALLY drunk on Saturday and it’s affected me for the past two days because clinical depression + wine = depressive episode. I’m in my thirties now, damn it, and I need to take better care of my brain. I talked to my therapist, and I’m going to engage of minimum 5 minutes of mindfulness meditation per day and also watch my social drinking. The drinking thing is especially annoying, because I really only drink socially once or twice a week, but when I do go out with friends I lose track of what I’m drinking quickly and then I’m screwed (this, to be clear, is my own fault, not my friends’!). Also, our overall culture has a super sick relationship with alcohol, THANKS SOCIETY. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ So I’m only going to have 2 drinks max when I go out, and if that means I have to drink a shit ton of shirley temples at the fancy restaurant then THAT’S WHAT I’M GONNA DO!
Okay, I have SHARED MY GOALS AND NOW YOU BETTER MAKE ME MEET THEM, INTERNET OR I WILL SEND THE BEYHIVE AFTER YOU AND YOUR GOOD HAIR!
If anyone has any personal goals to share in the comments, please do! I would love to return the favor with some encouragement and accountability 🙂
The April A-Z Challenge is over, and I completed it! Yay! Yeah, I started late and ended on the first day of May, but overall, I’m pretty proud of myself. Wait brb.
Okay, back now, and, WOAH! So, I just did that thing that Obama did once where a fly flew at me and I def caught it in my hand and smushed it SO I AM A SUPERHERO! I am feeling pretty good about myself at this moment! I mean, I’m basically Obama now, right?
Ahem. Anyways, as I wrote this weekend, I wanted to share my (beware corporate speak) KEY TAKEAWAYS from the experience for my fellow bloggers out there to compare and contrast. These “lessons” are very personal to me, and are in no way meant to tell anyone else how to blog, but in case others are interested I thought I’d put ’em down on virtual paper because I always like reading about others’ blogging and writing processes.
Lesson 1: I’m a planner: In the past, I’ve always had a vague goal of blogging a few times a week. Sometimes I’d accomplish this, and other weeks I’d fail, usually due to procrastination or pure laziness. During this challenge, however, I made a planned commitment to blog pretty much every day for a month, and I set aside a time to do it–around 9 pm every night for the following day’s post. And, guess what? It worked! With the exception of this past Saturday, which was supposed to be Z but got pushed back due to my being in NOLA for JazzFest and then getting a killer cold virus, I didn’t miss a day, and I finished the challenge. So, moving forward, I’m going to commit to posting minimum 2x per week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with my planned blog writing time being Monday and Wednesday evenings. Huzzah for planning!
Lesson 2: Less is sometimes more: I felt better about (and got more views on) many of my shorter posts over the course of the challenge–especially humor posts. I’m going to try to keep my posts under 800 words, unless I feel like I need to go in depth on a topic. I can be a rambler in my writing, and since I don’t really edit my blog posts I need to just cut myself off. Lol not every thought I have is gold!
Lesson 3: Personal stories always connect: I love writing humor on my blog, and a lot of readers like it, too, but the post over the course of the month with the most views was the most “serious” one, F is for Fatass. It was hard to write, but it was worth it. I’m not saying my blog is going to become The Sad Sob Stories of Jackie–sometimes I need to write about boobs whether y’all want to read it or not–but issues I deal with like mental illness and body confidence connect with my readers, and are important for me to share, so I will continue to share them.
Lesson 4: Ask and you shall receive: Bloggers are always saying, “If you want people to comment, ask them to do so!” For the longest time I didn’t, but now I do and the frequency with which people comment has increased a ton. YOU WERE RIGHT, OTHER BLOGGERS, OKAY?
Lesson 5: Fun and engagement are the goal: Throughout the challenge, there were several times I started posts and deleted before publishing because I didn’t have fun writing them, or didn’t feel engaged while writing. I’m glad that I did this, because if I don’t like writing a 500 word post at all, or am not interested in it, then why the fuck would you want to read it? For instance, I’m liking writing this blog advice shizzle right now because I think it is useful and sort of funny, so I’m gonna keep typing away. If a topic doesn’t engage me, I won’t force it. It’s not like I’m gettin’ paid for this, so I’m NINE YEARS OLD I DO WHAT I WANT, ya know? So, have fun out there!
Anyone else participate in the challenge? What were your takeaways? Did you have fun? I had a blast 🙂 Lmk what you think in the comments! ❤
Laissez les bons temps rouler! Today, I am off on a voyage (usually I would say “trip,” but T was a couple days ago on the blogging challenge) to New Orleans for JazzFest. This is my first music festival in years; the last one I went to was Outside Lands in San Francisco when I first moved back there, oh, FIVE years ago.
I am much older and (maybe?) wiser this time, so I have some travel goals this time, and I’m putting them on the blog to keep myself accountable:
Don’t die: NOLA is booze and party central, and I am in my thirties, so staying alive might be a real challenge. I am going to try to limit my alcohol consumption to two drinks per day. LOL we’ll see how that goes. Also I will drink water.
See Stevie Wonder: OMG SO EXCITED. Also, the way 2016 is going, I think we all need to see as many musical legends in concert ASAP as they’re all dropping like flies.
Eat beignets: Never had one; time to change that. (I know, I am a noob, etc.)
Don’t get burned to a crisp: I am beyond ever trying to be tan again (not that I ever had that as a goal) and am owning being the palest bitch alive since Elizabeth I. I got my Neutrogena sheer sunscreen and a hippie dippie coverup for long festival days and I will NOT BE BURNED.
See a ghost: Okay, so this one might be hard, BUT I REALLY WANT TO SEE A GHOST AND I HEAR THERE ARE GHOSTS IN NEW ORLEANS! Especially since I am currently writing a novel with ghosts. If I don’t see a ghost, I at least want to see an Original Vampire. Preferably this one:
Not break my foot again: I am in normal shoes now, but the foot is still a little sore, so I will just have to walk slowly and not trip over cobblestones and shit (the not drinking too much should help with this, too). Sorry in advance, T and other girls on the trip, for being a slowpoke!
Finish the A-Z Challenge! I’m so close, guys! Many thanks to putting up with some of my less, er, inspired posts over the last twenty days or so. I’ve actually learned a lot during the challenge about blogging–what content works, what doesn’t, how to hone my humor, how to balance serious with comical topics, how to make sure you all know I’m an extreme nerd, etc. My posts may be shorter for letters W-Z, but I’m sure you all won’t mind too much.
Sweat more than any human has ever sweated before in the history of the world: I don’t think this one will be hard.
À bientôt, bloggy bitches!
Seriously, if you have any suggestions on what to do in New Orleans (never been!), please leave them in the comments 🙂
It’s R day on the AZ Challenge, so I’m tackling one of my favorite topics: Romance novels. I personally discovered the Romance genre in my mid-twenties, and boy, did I wish I had gotten off my high horse and dived in earlier! Thanks a lot, college, for making me read fucking classics and, like, textbooks for four years. I REALLY APPRECIATE IT (heavy sarcasm).
Ahem. Anyways, for six years or so I’ve read anywhere from one to ten romance novels a month depending on my workload and willingness to sleep, so I think I know what I’m talking about. Therefore, I’m going to do you all a favor and share 10 ways to guarantee my readership of your Romance Novel(TM) to all romance writers (and aspiring writers) out there:
10. Regency setting: Set your novel in Regency England, complete with references to Almack’s, people being good or bad ton, shining Hessian boots, and muslin gowns, and I am fucking THERE. Bonus points if there’s a makeover scene where the heroine goes to a famous modiste for a new wardrobe of ravishing gowns which highlight her elegant figure FAR BETTER than the “plain round gowns” she was wearing before.
9. Dukes: I will read anything with a Duke in it, and I am not alone. If there were actually as many Dukes in England in the 18th and 19th centuries as there are depicted in period romance novels, there would have been more Dukes than bakers and chimney sweepers combined, but who gives a shit? Dukes are DA BOMB. Extra credit if the Duke is only marrying to beget an heir, but then falls in love with his betrothed/marriage of convenience bride and has to discover who he really is as an emotional being before professing his love to her.
8. Cinderella story: Every fourth romance novel is a Cinderella story, where the heroine is an under-appreciated governess/poor relation/companion and is rescued from poverty and/or abuse by a rich lord (lol usually a Duke) and then she becomes the most celebrated hostess in London due to her unique charm, personality, and style, and the bitchy old shrew who treated her like crap in her old life is left to rot in the country. And you know what? I FUCKING LOVE IT. There’s a reason Cinderella has been retold a thousand times: it’s a classic, it works, and if you add a Duke it’s somehow even better than a prince charming.
7. Mistaken identity: OH MAN I GET SO EXCITED AT THIS. The mistaken identity usually happens when the heroine, who is set on a good match in order to save herself/her family from penury, falls in love with the rich, handsome hero, but mistakes him for (or is fooled into believing him to be) a gardener, highwayman, rake, poor soldier, or some other unsuitable dude. Ultimately, she decides to FUCK SOCIETY and run off with her gardener for TRUE LOVE, only to discover that he was the mysterious or cold Earl/Lord/Marquess/probably Duke all along. And the hero is thrilled because he knows that his girl loves him for HIM, not just because of his money and rank, and they ARE SO HAPPY OMG CRYING.
6. Dowager Duchess/Countess Plays Cupid: If you include an older female relation who is funny and bucks convention to maneuver her lucky-in-rank-and-fortune but unlucky-in-love son into a marriage with the right girl, I will def read your book. If you describe her in such a way that makes me able to imagine Maggie Smith or Judi Dench playing her in a movie, I will read EVERYTHING YOU EVER WROTE NO MATTER HOW SHITTY.
5. Your book is basically Pride & Prejudice: If your book is a hate-turns-to-love story where the stuffy rich guy (again, usually a Duke) proposes to the unconventional heroine and is turned down only to win her heart later on by proving how great he is underneath, I will read it, because it is basically Pride and Prejudice and I will read every version of that book ever, no matter how cheesy it is.
4. You are Mary Balogh: If you are Mary Balogh, I will never stop reading your books. Or loving you…er, your books. It’s your books that I love, not you, Mary. I’m not sleeping in a tree with a view into your bedroom window or anything. Nope, not doing that.
3. There is a sexy Scotsman in your book: If there is a sexy Scotsman in your book, I will read your book. It is one of the few departures from Regency that I allow; COUNT YOUR LUCKY STARS, DIANA GABALDON!
2. The heroine is a secret heiress: Oh, am I sucker for the secret heiress! She is usually over twenty-two, and therefore on the shelf, but she has an inheritance of MINIMUM 50,000 pounds comin’ her way and doesn’t even KNOW it! And everyone treats her like crap EXCEPT the hero who loves her even though she’s poor (or so he thinks), AND the libertine gold-digger who is somehow aware of her secret inheritance and is planning to kidnap her for it. Oh, man, everyone is SO SURPRISED by her secret fortune, but it doesn’t matter because at the end she has LOVE and LOVE IS SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONEY.
1. The Marriage of Convenience: YASSSSS QUEEEN! There is nothing better than the marriage of convenience; nothing. It is the best trope in all of romance, and I will defend it until my dying day. Guy meets girl; guy needs wife, girl needs to get away from her shitty existence. They become friends…AND THEN SO MUCH MORE. And then there’s a misunderstanding where they both think the other one hates them, and then there’s usually a duel, and then they live happily ever after. SIGH. I COULD LIVE ON THIS, YOU GUYS.
Ok, gtg, I have a queue of like 30 marriage of convenience Duke novels on my Goodreads rn. Ttyl, and remember, ladies, ONLY MARRY HIM IF HE IS OF GOOD TON!
Please let me know what you think in the comments, especially if you are a Duke…and if you are a Duke, call me. ❤
Primary season is upon us! If you’re lucky and not being voter suppressed and are able to get away from work/childcare/other life duties and actually vote in your state’s upcoming primary or caucus, you have an important decision to make: who will you support for your party’s nomination for President? I know it can be daunting, especially for millennials who don’t have decades of experience in becoming apathetic and exhausted by our disastrous political system voting. Fear not, fellow twenty-and thirty-somethings! I have put together the following guide to help you exercise your most cherished democratic right and duty.
Step 1: Ensure you can properly name and stereotype each candidate. For Democrats, this is easy! You only have Crazy Socialist Old Jewish Dude and Feminazi Wall Street Lover Vagina-haver to choose from (Mr. Pleasant-faced Generic White Guy already peaced out; RIP Pleasant-faced Generic White Guy!). For Republicans, you’ve got Crazy Billionaire Who Wants to Bang His Daughter, the Guy Who Doesn’t Know How Hoodies Work, the Sleepy Surgeon, the…oh, who am I kidding. If you’re a millennial you’re probably not voting Republican. If you are, I wish you well–may the powers that be help you in choosing a candidate from among these clowns!
Step 2: Do your research. Remember, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so you have to dig deep to make sure you’re getting the real scoop on what issues each candidate will prioritize once in office. Examine their voting records in Congress, read their books and writings (going back to college and graduate school, if possible), watch their public addresses and speeches on YouTube, read the endorsements of various newspapers and organizations…
Step 3: …Shit. That’s A LOT more work than you thought. Both of these assholes have, like, decades of service under their belts, and they’ve both done good and bad things during that time! I mean, obviously income inequality is a big issue, but so is gun control…I guess they both support reproductive rights, but Hillary got Planned Parenthood’s endorsement, but Killer Mike likes Bernie, and…wow, this was a lot easier four years ago when there just wasn’t a democratic primary and you hated Romney a lot.
Step 4: Don’t panic and read Facebook. Luckily for you, most of your Facebook friends are politically-minded! They’re sharing really interesting pieces from writers big and small on your feed, from all perspectives: the LGBTQ community, feminists, activists of color, political giants, foreign policy specialists, small business owners, you name it. Dive in, and prepare yourself to be informed up the WAZOO! Your choice will be easy as pie once you take in this information.
Step 5: Wow there is some SERIOUS shit going down here on Facebook. Huh. You’ve only clicked on one article your friend from college posted and people are having some REAL STRONG REACTIONS in the comments. Someone just called someone else a bitch, and that girl just said that other guy is a “berniebro,” and now everyone is talking about false narratives and apparently if you vote for Hillary it’s only because you have a vagina, but if you vote for Bernie you are betraying your vagina, and maybe our political system is now dependent on the votes of our genitalia? How would voting genitalia even work? It seems like voting machines would have to be majorly redesigned…
Step 6: Something something Supreme Court nomination. Holy shit, Scalia died! Wait, Mitch McConnell says Obama can’t nominate a successor? What is this shit? Also people are saying OBAMA should be the next justice, but like he is already President…oh, after he’s done being Prez, you mean, and either Hillary or Bernie could nominate him…but doesn’t Obama deserve a vacation from this crazy country after the past 8 years?Oh God, Scalia is dead, after all! Am I being disrespectful of the dead? This think piece says I am, but this other one says I’m not, and this one says the election is now turned on its head, and this one says the Zika virus is turning the world into Children of Men, and THIS ONE says that Bernie is actually an alien, and THIS ONE says Hillary is an Ewok, and THIS ONE says #OscarsSoWhite, and THIS ONE says…
Step 7: Descend into madness. HOW DID BOTH OF THESE CANDIDATES BECOME EVIL ALL OF A SUDDEN?WHAT THE FUCK? WAIT WAIT WAIT A COUPLE YEARS BACK EVERYONE WAS SHARING BADASS MEMES OF HILLARY ON A PLANE TEXTING BUT NOW SHE HATES BLACK PEOPLE AND LOVES BANKS? AND BERNIE IS LOVABLY GRUFF AND HATES CAPITALISM BUT DIDN’T LISTEN TO VERMONT’S BLACK LEADERS AND ALSO MAYBE LIKES GUNS? HILLARY LOVES HEALTHCARE BUT MAYBE HATES BEYONCE? WAIT, DOES BERNIE HATE BEYONCE, TOO? CAN WHITE PEOPLE LIKE BEYONCE? DO I EVEN LIKE BEYONCE? SHOULD I JUST VOTE FOR BEYONCE? AM I ALLOWED TO LIKE “FORMATION?” WHAT ABOUT KANYE, IS HE CRAZY OR WHAT?
Step 8: Cry. sobsobsobsobsobsobsobsob can’t we just have Obama for a third term?
Step 9: Have a stiff drink. God damn it, get yourself together and make a God-damned decision! YOU ARE AN ADULT YOU CAN MAKE THIS ONE CHOICE.
Step 10: Call your most bigoted, sexist, “The Civil War was really the War of Northern Agression” relation and ask them which candidate they hate the most. Vote for that one.
BOOM! DEMOCRACY, I OWN YOU! YOU ARE MY BITCH! HUZZAH!
Occasionally, despite my college education and now 31+ years of experience living as a Human on the Planet Earth, I make a Life Error™ so gargantuan that it shakes the very fiber of my being and makes me doubt whether I am worthy of success, happiness, or love.
I order self-assembly furniture online.
I know, I know, but it wasn’t my fault! I am A WRITER, DAMN IT, and writers need desks. I could write while sitting at my kitchen table, but it’s cold in the kitchen. I can also go to a coffee shop, but a coffee is two bucks MINIMUM and it’s much cheaper to just make coffee at home. The obvious solution was a small-ish desk that fits into the bay window nook in my warm-ish bedroom with the cheap homemade coffee only feet away!
So I went on Wayfair and ordered a desk. Five days later, the desk arrived. And thus began my descent to the ninth level of hell, where I joined Brutus, Judas, and…Cassius (is he the third guy? too lazy to google) in being chewed in the giant maw of Satan.
The process began auspiciously when the FedEx guy cheerfully offered to haul the giant desk-containing box up three floors to my apartment. I immediately set out to assemble the desk, whereby I rediscovered Jackie’s Foolproof Process for Furniture Assembly and Losing Your Soul:
Using a knife, cut through the tape along the edges of the box.
Attempt to open box, and discover that there are apparently three more layers of taped-up cardboard between you and the desk.
Hack through these layers while dripping sweat everywhere. Finally remove all the cardboard to discover the furniture is encased in a sarcophagus of styrofoam, which is all stuck together with a kind of tape that is probably used to seal airlocks on the International Space Station.
Hack at the styrofoam, getting bits of it all over your apartment and inhaling a good 20% of it into your lungs.
After 30 minutes of chopping at styrofoam, reveal the desk. Take a water and stretch break and realize that if you can’t open a box without getting breathless that you might want to sign up for the gym.
Using the included mini toolkit, attach the four legs to the desk. Easy peasy! You’re 90% done- the last step is attach the knobs to the two little drawers that are built into the desk.
You go to pull out the drawer. The drawer falls apart in your hand:
Ok, you can fix it! Get out your hammer and nails to see if you can cobble the drawer back together.
OH MY FUCKING GOD HOW DID I HAMMER THREE FINGERS ON MY RIGHT HAND ALL AT ONCE OH GOD OH GOD IT HURTS AGHHHHH!!
Breathe through the pain, breathe through it. Ok. You’ve got this.
Go down the block to the local hardware store and buy superglue. Return home, glue the drawer back together, let it set for 20 minutes per instructions. Huzzah! It looks great! YOU ARE A GODDESS!
Lightly touch the drawer with one finger to test the strength of the superglue. The drawer explodes.
A single tear escapes your right eye. You remove the drawer and put the desk right-side up. The desk leg lands awkwardly and stubs your right toe.
You burst into tears because ARE YOU KIDDING ME I WENT TO YALE I SHOULD BE ABLE TO PUT TOGETHER A FUCKING BUCK FIFTY DESK AND MY HAND HURTS AND MY FOOT HURTS AND I’M SWEATY AND IT’S RAINING AND THERE’S STYROFOAM ALL OVER MY APARTMENT AND I’VE BREATHED FIVE POUNDS OF IT IN AND NOW I’M GOING TO DIE OF STYROFOAM LUNG CANCER WHY AM I EVEN TRYING TO BE ALIVE IF I’M TOO STUPID TO SCREW TOGETHER A FUCKING WAYFAIR DESK sob sob sob.
Call your mom, who is bewildered but manages to calm you down.
Ashamed at your outburst, you try to go online to request replacement drawers for your desk, only to discover that the new Comcast set-top box that Infinity made you install earlier that day has DESTROYED THE INTERNET and the only network in range is called “We Can Hear You Have Sex” but it’s fucking PASSWORD PROTECTED.
Remember that your phone has internet, and use that to request the parts. Ok, they’ll be here in a few days. It’s all good.
Go out to a friend’s open bar birthday party to destress and consume three of these:
Go home and vomit up everything you ever ate or drank, but because you’re an IDIOT you throw up in the shower and not the toilet, and so when you wake up at 3 am and go in the bathroom you discover that you have to clean up a hell of a mess. You go back to bed and at 6 am you clean up and hydrate and go to the laundromat when it opens to wash your vomity clothes. Call Comcast, fix the internet, and wait for your replacement drawers as you recover your dignity.
A few days later, the drawers arrive, in perfect condition! You replace them and the desk looks GREAT! HUZZAH! WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WOOOOOORRRLD!
Decide to take a walk to celebrate. Pull out your headphones so you can listen to some TUNEZ while you traipse through the park.
So, it turns out that–despite the existence of alcohol and chocolate–I have made it to my thirty-first birthday. A year ago today, I was in a sort-of-impressive-sounding corporate job with a four-hour round-trip daily commute and an email addiction. I was really depressed, and so, shortly after turning thirty, I took a leave of absence which ultimately led to me quitting my job. It was the scariest thing I have ever done in my life, with the possible exception of going into that super gross hot tub at Myrtle Beach during our senior trip in college (those flesh-eating viruses are NO JOKE).
Now, one year into this journey off the beaten high-achiever path that I’ve dutifully followed for most of my life, I’ve achieved a new milestone: being proud of myself on my birthday.
This may not sound like a big deal, but for me, it really is. Once I was legally able to drink, I stopped enjoying my birthday. Every January 5th brought on a contemplative funk during which I lamented my lack of achievement and progress during the previous year: “Some people my age are olympic medalists! Half my friends have graduate degrees! Look at that guy; he’s only twenty-three and he makes so much more money than I do! Look at that girl; she’s only twenty-five and she’s married with a baby! What have I done? Look at how worthless I am!”
I once expressed this attitude to one of my coworkers at Google a few years back. She was a pretty cool chick and refreshingly honest, and she was baffled by my view of aging. She’d lost a close family member at a young age and birthdays inspired gratitude in her–she was always happy and relieved to make it another year. I remember nodding and chastising myself internally for not being grateful enough for my birthdays and for not having cancer or losing an arm to that Myrtle beach hot tub, and then going right back to dreading early January and berating myself.
This year, however, is different. When it comes to traditional measures of success, this year certainly hasn’t touched most of those that preceded it. I can’t say that I work at a fancy company. I can’t say my salary is XYZ bucks per week. I can’t talk about awards or kudos or performance scores at work, or drop the name of any executives I work with.
What I can say, however, and what I’m proud of, is that I’ve had the most new experiences in the past year of my life than in the previous eight put together. These experiences ranged from good to bad to everything in between, but they made me think (and blog) about myself and the world deeply, and in different ways than I have before.
I experienced the joy of realizing that I could write, and write well(ish), and write enough words and sentences and paragraphs to make a whole book-type document that people might want to read. I experienced the excitement of getting an agent, and the subsequent anxiety and boredom of submitting to publishers.
In short, I experienced life, and I had the time to really take it in, as opposed to watching it all pass me by. And, for the first time since I was a little kid, I’m proud of myself for that fact alone. I’m proud of myself for trying to live well, and I’m grateful to all those people (both IRL and on this blog) who have come along on the journey with me this year.
So, here’s to the thirty-first year of the Jackie! May the thirty-second be just as interesting, and may you still be interested enough to tune in and read about it once in a while 🙂