4 Recipes That Will Make You Feel Like You Have Your Sh*t Together

I hate to cook. I don’t know why, it’s just not my thing. Because of this, it’s easy for me to make really bad decisions when it comes time to make a meal. I have spent a lot of money ordering food, or eating things that are not good, both for me and taste-wise.

The thing is… my bad food decisions cause me a lot of shame and unhappiness (that’s what makes them bad). There’s moment when I literally give up on trying to make myself real food, and instead choose something random that’s at hand: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cereal, some frozen meal I’d have to dig out of the freezer. There have even been days I have chosen to eat nothing because I can’t deal with even making a bad choice.

In an effort to ensure that there’s always easy food available to me, I got into dump dinners. Dump dinners are a bunch of meals you make ahead, all at the same time, then freeze and cook as needed. In theory, they were great; I would buy a bunch of food on a Sunday, make a whole bunch of meals for the next 2 weeks in one go, and then didn’t have to worry about it.

In practice, the meals were… not great. The main reason was probably because I am not the audience for most of the recipes I found. They are almost exclusively geared towards cash-strapped moms who have more limited food choices than I do living in the Bay Area. They leaned very heavily on ingredients that were high in sodium and sugar, which is not my jam (but is easy to get at any supermarket). They also tended to be repetitive – every set of recipes included beef stroganoff, taco soup, and orange glazed something. Eating the same meals every week are also not my jam. Just FYI.

So I started branching out. This week, I tried out some one dish/pan meals, and some low-key pasta meals. And let me tell you… they were OFF THE CHAIN! I didn’t really make any of them ahead, but I definitely could have. For the most part, they were so easy and fast, it was not that big of a deal for me to make them when I got home from work.

Here’s a list of my favs, for you to use when you’re tired, stressed, too hungry to function, or just not in a cooking mood. All of these are also great if you want to impress someone but are not good at cooking, or if you are just trying to be frugal.

One thing I will mention is that these are not terribly vegan or gluten-free friendly. Some may translate easily, but others are literally just meat with bread on it, so…. sorry! I will keep my eye out for not-so-meaty-gluteny meals.

And if you really want to feel like you have you sh*t together, I recommend cleaning your kitchen as you cook, and cleaning your dishes as soon as you’re done with them. No need to do a deep clean; I usually just clean up what I used to cook as I go (waiting for the water to boil? put away the cutting board! food’s cooking for 15? wash the mixing bowl!), and then clear off the countertops. Combine this with not leaving dirty dishes in the sink, and you will feel super accomplished and on top of everything!

This recipe is GREAT because it uses those ramen noodles you get at the store, which means there’s no time spent making regular pasta. Pasta and sauce is literally the easiest thing to make, and it requires almost no energy, but when I am super hungry and tired, thinking about how long it takes to boil water and the whole shebang instantly crosses pasta off my list.

This recipe cooks up in minutes, and while it does need a bit of babysitting to stir it and stuff, it’s minimal. It also tastes fancy, like something you’d get at an upscale Italian restaurant where the menus aren’t in english.

Don’t be scared by the crockpot bit… you do not need a crockpot to make this. Instead, preheat the oven to 450, and cook it for about 30-40 minutes (I set a timer for 15, then 20, and gave it a couple extra minutes).

This recipe can also be made ahead, because it’s literally just some chicken, taco seasoning, and canned stuff dumped together. I let this sit overnight to marinate, but you could make it right away or freeze it for a day you’re like NO WAY JOSE to making dinner. If you make it without defrosting, it will take longer to cook, just FYI.Also, this recipe was amazing as leftovers. I don’t know why! It just was.

I LOVE THIS RECIPE. It’s a little more involved than I would normally suggest, but, 1. you can totally make this ahead – just make the breaded chicken and add the beans & tomatoes when you actually cook everything, and 2. it’s so good!!!!!

This recipe is also great because almost all the ingredients for it are kitchen staples, so if you keep them handy, you can always make this and feel like a fancy, age-appropriate person!

Again, do not let the way this recipe looks scare you. I swear, it will be over before you know it, and you will be eating tasty, filling pasta with bacon in mere minutes.

I am not crazy for turkey bacon, so I did not use it, and the recipe turned out ok, so use whatever you have. Like the recipe above this one, this is also something that uses basic staples, so if you have most or all of this stuff on hand, you can always have this. Yay!

I almost never have all the ingredients needed when I want to make one of these, you might! Or you could go out and buy them and be ready for when the craving strikes.

Oh man… I actually think I could make this brownie in a cup! Maybe I will go try it.

TW: Trigger Warnings

Awhile ago, when that super long and bullsh*tty article in The Atlantic came out, I jotted down some thoughts about trigger warnings for this blog. But then I found some other articles that were far better said, and also, it’s such a dead horse issue at this point, it didn’t seem worth it to hit “Publish.”

Then Barry O-Bams got into it, and I got inspired.


I am not an academic, or even someone who had any experience in my academic career (which was short) that would have been better with trigger warnings, safe spaces, political correctness, etc.

Basically, I have 0 skin in the game. Except that I am a human being, which, as you’ll read, is kind of the crux of my whole view on this.

Number 1: I find it really hilarious that the second students ask for any changes, additions, or deletions from their education, they are met with brick walls and “In my day!”s. Well, not hilarious.

Our benevolent higher education gods know America is a capitalist country, and they have been working their little butts off to make education as profitable as possible. In fact, this issue is a total capitalism sandwich: on one side, administrators control the product with a “take it or leave it” attitude because they essentially have a monopoly since college grads statistically make more than those without degrees; on the other, students – aka, customers – are demanding certain standards for this product they’re paying for.

God forbid they should ask for some say in whose huge speaking fee they (or their parents, or the taxpayers, or the donors) pay! Especially if that person does not represent the values and ideals they are essentially going into debt to learn how to hone and make real in the world.

In what world are people forced to pay millions of dollars for the rest of their lives for things they don’t want?

This one. It’s this world.

Number 2: The majority of people who make decisions about what students study and discuss in class are straight, white, cisgendered men. No, really.

This means they are less likely to both consider point of views beyond theirs as lenses for that information, AND that they are less likely to include the voices of those with less privilege than them in course designs and curriculum.

No, really.

Do you know what that means? It means that, when students ask for things like trigger warnings and safe spaces or they protest certain speakers, it is a radical act. To openly question authority and mainstream thought… is that not the point of education? To look beyond the status quo? To be curious and to stand up for your values and to put your brain to work for a greater good… is that not worth the millions of dollars they’ll pay?

I mean really, who’s most sensitive in that scenario: the people who are asking for their education to catch up with the fing times, or the people who made such a fuss about it they got the President of the United States involved?

Which leads me to…

Number 3: For places that are supposed to be educating future generations so they will continue our upwards evolution for generations to come (thereby ensuring our existence on this planet), higher ed institutions are remarkably inflexible. Hmmm…. I wonder what that says for their potential longevity?

(Spoiler Alert: it says they’re f*cked.)

Number 4: My main man Barack aside, I have yet to see anyone but older white people complaining about this, anecdotally and irl. I am 100% sure there are all different kinds of people who fall on all possible sides of this issue, but only one type of person has written scathing articles in major publications about it.

This leads me to believe this is just another one of those things rich, clueless white people are afraid of because it requires them to check their privilege and also acknowledge they are no longer relevant (if they ever were).

Number 5: As someone who uses tumblr a lot and feels like it has reached critical mass for its own tumblrness, i fully recognize how these things can get out of hand. I’ve seen people asked for trigger warnings on (what I deem) the dumbest shit. Even tumblr acknowledges that throwing out the word “problematic” every time you’re upset is problematic.

But that’s an extreme. It is a convenient faux-example – like when opponents say gay marriage will lead to people marrying their dogs – used to scare and agitate others. In actuality, no one is asking anyone to put warnings on things and then give people option to not do the work; they are asking for a. a head’s up so they can emotionally prepare for the reading, and b. an openness about what the f we are really studying, which, again, is more often than not colored and shaped by the majority (rich, white, cisgendered men).

Regarding the latter, trigger warnings, et al. are keys to long-locked doors. Requiring teachers tell their students ahead of time that a reading might include rape, racism, sexism, violence (etc.) means that they have to acknowledge that those things are part of the piece, and they allow their students to bring those things up for discussion. I know it’s easier to live in a world where there’s no conflict ever and we can just pretend terrible things never existed and The Birth of a Nation is just one link in the timeline of film history.

But none of that’s true. And by trying to pretend it’s true, you’re turning a very obvious blind eye to some real sh*t.

“Political Correctness” in higher ed is a loud call for real context and head-on confrontation of the reality of the world.

I ask again: who is more sensitive here?

On a, people who understand and confront the reality of triggering (a very small group because this requires emotional intelligence, something that is not often taught or cultivated) recognize that we all get triggered and it can happen any time, but avoiding these types of situations can often be counterproductive, especially in the work of social change.

There are a variety of techniques a person can use to avoid being triggered, one of which is called “meshing”. Meshing is the practice of mentally strengthening yourself when you think you might be triggered, so you don’t get swept up in it and carried away. You imagine you are a screen door, and things pass right through you. Hence, meshing.

The tools are out there, and they are tools that will help everyone interact with each other, and get to know themselves better. So why are we are not teaching these techniques to future generations? Not only are we not teaching this level of emotional intelligence, but we’re actively telling people they are wrong for both being triggered – a SUPER common occurrence for all humans everywhere – and for giving a sh*t about others being triggered.

This brings us to…

Number 6: It is basic human decency to be kind and caring when someone tells you they are hurt or offended. Pushing back when someone expresses emotion is the basic definition of an asshole.

It took me a long time to learn this, and even then, I had to piece it together on my own. The world does not natively nurture love for each other, especially not in a capitalist country. Capitalism is an every man for himself mentality; sharing doesn’t generate financial profits, so who gives a sh*t?

It’s extremely important we instill the concept of caring for our fellow humans in those who will be taking care of us in the future. I shouldn’t have to tell you why, but, considering the topic of this post, I know I probably have to:

If we don’t teach everyone how to love each other, we will not last long as species. In a more immediate timeframe, if we don’t teach future generations to take care of each other, they will not take care of us.

No. Really.


Lastly, I am not sure where this fits, but I thought of it when I was writing this.

My favorite book when I was 15 years old was Push, the novel the film Precious was based on. If you saw the movie (or read the book), I probably don’t need to tell you how messed up it is. If you don’t know anything about the story, it is messed. up.

At 15-16, though, it was fascinating to me. I was a little messed up & morbid myself, so a book that’s just perverse tragedy all the way down was exactly what I was looking for. I learned a lot from that book, and the many other pieces of messed up media I loved back in the day (Whores for Gloria was another of my fav books, and I owned about eight fiction books just about teen heroin addiction).

Recently, I picked up the sequel to Push, The Kid. For whatever reason, these books are both now classified as YA lit, which they were not when I was younger, and I am actually really curious to know why they are now. Anyway, I was actually kind of excited to read it and maybe relive some of that magic I experienced with the first book.

I could not make it even 5 pages. Maybe the book loosens up later, but I don’t think that would have been worth it considering how absolutely rough those first few pages are. They take you through ever horror you could imagine, and – again! – this isn’t even into the second chapter.

I returned the book.

What does this mean? Does it mean I’m weak? Sensitive? Asking to be coddled?

I don’t think so. There is a huge difference between me at 15 and me now: I know a hell of a lot more now.

At 15, I had not lived any life whatsoever. I had little life experience, and I looked to media to fill me in. But by 33, I did not need that info anymore. Whatever lessons it could give me, I already learned.

Why You Shouldn’t Be A “Grammar Nerd”

I have been extremely bothered lately by people who correct others’ use of words.

For example, “literally”, which has literally been used in its hyperbolic sense since at least the 18th century (sorry everyone who gets their jollies from saying “you LITERALLY died?” like we’re not capable of understanding that the person telling us the story did not actually die).

As someone who has a degree in writing, writes professionally, and also creates style guides for a living, it’s super frustrating to hear these kinds of things, and even worse to encounter them in articles plastered across the web. It’s false information. It’s the grammatical equivalent of a quote about summer beach bods attributed to Abraham Lincoln.

It’s frustrating, and at times straight-up painful, because language is a deep and important part of being alive on this planet. Human language is a global art project every one of us takes part in every day, whether we’re speaking, signing, writing, singing, or finding other ways to communicate thoughts and ideas to each other.

It’s tied to our history on the planet, and every word we say (or “say”, if we’re not speaking-speaking) connects us to ancestors from thousands of years ago, and thousands of miles away. If you use words like banana, beef, tote, cross, galore, phoney, slogan, whiskey, sofa, cushy, khaki, violin, cartoon, hug, brainwashing, and ketchup, you dip into the soil of every continent on this planet, whether you genetically hail from there or not.

And every day, human language changes. People spell things with more letters, fewer letters, different letters; they connect different words to each other and use words in new ways to express their feelings; they create completely new words from out of the ether, or out of components they’re borrowing from our collective human history on Earth, and those words may never make it into any dictionary simply because they are only said in one place at one time.

I thought about this as I was walking up the path to my front door, and it gave me a lot of joy to think about. How cool is it that we connect to all of humanity just by saying hello to someone?

That’s why, when someone feels they have both the appropriate knowledge and the exclusive right to tell others how to communicate, it bothers me. Yes, for formal, professional writing, we should tap into the rules, it can’t just be punctuation anarchy out there, but we should also strive to let our written words mirror their real-life counterparts so that the meaning is clear. “Complete and utter” might be redundant, but it also stresses the emotion of whatever follows it. Ending a sentence with a preposition might not be OK in the rule books, but if you’re writing in your own voice, “it gave me a lot of joy to think about” is way better than “about which thinking gave me a lot of joy”.

So if you’re someone who gets anxious about how you speak, f all the haters. Tell them you are just harnessing the power of every human who has ever lived, then be like, “which means I am too busy to talk to you”, and walk away.

And if you’re a grammar nerd… well, it was a good run. Maybe you can correct people’s social media-induced rumors?

Minimum Wage & You: A Primer

I could probably spend all day on   this article. Number 1, it’s on   The Blaze, so it’s almost certainly high-level trolling. Number 2, the author says he’s 28, and I have to tell you, with all due respect to 28 year olds the world over, that means he has definitely not amassed enough life experience to expound on this topic. Number 3, he says stuff like “I’m not trying to offend you”, after saying things like “your job takes no skill and doesn’t require a degree”.

The list could go on for much, much, much longer, and this topic has been written about many times before this, by people smarter and more interesting than I will ever be. So I’m not here to reply to this article specifically.

What I’m here to say is, first, a friendly reminder that someone has to flip our burgers, and clearly this dude (and many others) don’t want to do it. I also do not want to do it. I am guessing that this dude, also like me, does not want to clean up poop, blood, vomit, bugs, or hair, and he does not, like me, want to spend 12 hours in the sun picking delicious strawberries. He probably also does not want to take care of a bunch of kids, change hotel room sheets, move furniture, or drive a cab.

But someone has to. Because as much as I do not want to do any of those things, I DO want someone to flip burgers for me, and to clean up my waste, to pick my strawberries, to take care of my kids, make my hotel room clean, move my color TVs, and drive me from Point A to Point B. And I am guessing this dude does, too. What’s the point of making “significant chunk of money” if you can’t get other people to do shit for you?

It takes everyone to make this country go. Everyone has to do their part, otherwise, no one will get what they want. No produce, no childcare, no heavy lifters, no delivery people, no drivers, no cleaners, no assemblers, no nothing. You can’t eat a website, so while I do value people who blog for a living as this guy does, that does nothing for me when my unquenchable bloodlust rears its head and I need to eat a burger in or to keep it at bay.

So, that’s first: if everyone had an awesome, high-paying job, who would do the stuff we consider low-paying, aka “minimum wage” jobs?

If you don’t want to get too emotional about it, you can also think about it economically: if everyone had an awesome, high-paying job, our economy would crash because there would be a huge supply of people doing the same things, and simply not enough demand. I mean, how many doctors and lawyers do we really need?

Second, everyone should be able to choose their job. I mean that figuratively, not that everyone should dictate what job they do, because the world does not need that many Kardashians. I mean that, if someone wants to be a doctor, they should be able to pursue that. And if someone wants to flip burgers, they should be able to to do that, too.

My dad is a lawyer. Well… he’s still a lawyer in that he has a law degree. But he doesn’t practice law. It never made him happy. He ended up becoming a courier, and now he delivers things like wound vacs to hospitals. He loves his job. He sets his own schedule, his boss loves him, he gets to do something that fulfills him, and he occasionally gets to do stuff like meet John Legend. Yes, that John Legend.

My mother has a similar story. She works at WalMart. When she was a little girl, she didn’t dream of working tirelessly in retail. She dreamt of traveling. She dreamt of owning her own home. She dreamt of having good times with the people she loved. I’m sure careers sparked her daydreams occasionally, but moreso, she thought about things she wanted. Life goals.

It took me a long time to realize my mom didn’t see her time at WalMart as a punishment. It was a means to an end. She travels the world now- cruises, drives across Europe, weekends away in Las Vegas. That’s all she ever wanted. She didn’t need business cards or her own office to be happy, she just needed money to pay for what makes her happy.

Now, my parents have some things going for them that many Americans don’t, so I’m not going to pretend that their story can be or should be everyone’s. My point is simply that they did not want “fancy” jobs. They want to work and get paid and live their lives.

Everyone should be able to choose what works for them. Some people might like to get up at 2 PM and work till 2 AM. Some people might like to get up at 4 AM and work till noon. Some people are all about that 9-5. If someone’s willing to do a job, it fulfills them or works for them in one way or another, they should be able to do that job and not suffer or be punished because of it.

This last one I will probably get guff about, but it’s true. Work shouldn’t be about just doing, it should be about doing for each other.

Most people may not understand this, and that’s ok. All I can tell you is that, doing something nice for someone makes me feel good, and having someone do something for me does, too. Almost like it’s good for us or something.

And if we thought of workers in this country not as bodies hired to generate money, but as people with gifts to share, it would be pretty revolutionary.

This is really the crux of this minimum wage conversation, I think. We see some people as “gift-givers”, with skills that are good and worth paying a living wage for. Others we see as simply idiots who have nothing we could POSSIBLY want. I mean, who wants a burger, right? Medium rare, with a perfect bun, special sauce artfully dripping down one side, fresh tomatoes and lettuce perched on top, crunchy and the perfect flavor offset to the steaming hot, juicy flame-broiled burger.


DISGUSTING. I especially hate the part where I did not have to make it after my 8 hours at a desk with health insurance and job security. I AM TIRED, WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LET ME MAKE MY OWN BURGER? Everyone knows the things we work for are sooooo much better than the things we are given through the hard work of others.

In all seriousness, as I said before, it takes every one of us to make this world go around every day. Every single thing you do touches and has been touches by countless others, many you will never see or even think of. We’re all doing things for each other all the time, but we almost never put it into those terms. So when the burger flipper who has saved us time (which is equal to money, btw) and fed us asks for a few more dollars so he and his family can also save some time and be fed, we all flip the f out.

That’s all I want to say.

Oh, wait, there is one more thing: how does someone, in the same article, note that a wage increase would have fast food workers out-earning firefighters, and not immediately realize there’s something wrong with the entire system?

What’s the Point of Focusing on Productivity? aka, My Story

I’ll just start at the beginning of the beginning. I had this chair in my room. It was a large office chair – an executive chair, with a high back, very tall and imposing. Also, incredibly comfortable.

This chair sat in front of my desk, where a desk chair should be. And most of the time, it was covered in clothes. Piled up to almost the top of this already-tall office chair. Things would get lost in the pile, and I would forget about them until I decided it was time to clean my room.

The chair and its pile made me feel terrible. Anxious and shameful and immature and stressed out. It wasn’t the only thing that made me feel that way, either; I was surrounded by things that made me feel that way in my home, signs of ways I did not have my life together. There was nowhere in my own home I could turn that didn’t make me feel unhappy.

Then I realized something. I felt so dumb when I did, too, like, how did I not think of this before?

(It’s not actually dumb to not think of this, I just felt that way.)

If I never piled clothes on the chair, the chair would never have a pile on it. 

So simple. Hard to do, it turned out, but after a few weeks, I had the full grasp of it. And it had a domino effect on the rest of my room: what else could I keep clean just by cleaning as I went along?

All of a sudden, my room was in order all the time. Then my apartment.

Even more important than that, I no longer felt that anxious-shame-stress-selfhate feeling anymore when I thought about/looked at my apartment. I was no longer carrying a black hole inside my caused by my out-of-control home.

Did my depression go away? All my anxiety? No, of course not – those things are hardwired into me. They are me. But I had removed a bunch of triggers, which helped me manage my mental health (I am not a healthcare professional, this is just my story).

A lot of religious-y productivity/self-help/lifestyle movements like to say that we all have control over how we feel, and if we feel bad, it’s because we’re thinking bad thoughts.

That’s a really convenient way to sell a book/online course/in-person motivational retreat, because it makes puts the blame for your current and future states on you, conveniently ignoring anything real, like oppression, mental health, genetics, economy, culture, etc.

So I am not a believer in all that, and I won’t tell anyone that. What I will say is that, I made a conscious decision to take control of the things that I could control within my physical space, because I was tired of how they made me feel.

What amazed me when I made that decision was that I had felt for so long that nothing was within my control. That I had convinced myself (or my mental health issues had convinced me) that feeling bad was just the way things would always be, there was no way out.

Again, getting my self together around cleaning my bedroom did not make my problems go away. I didn’t get a job for another few years, I still struggle with social interactions, I spent many, many nights with insomnia because of my depression.

But I could look around, even in the worst moments, and I didn’t have that feeling about myself, that I didn’t have it together. That one thing that had always plagued me was gone, and it allowed me to feel smart, strong, and capable.

It reminded me that my mental health stuff is a physical thing with a mental effect, and that maybe the thoughts and feelings I was having were not actually “true”, e.g. – the voice telling me I am a failure is not actually my own brain, not actually a real thought.

After awhile, I was able to wake up in the morning at a normal time (instead of noon or 2 PM), start work, do all my work throughout the day like other freelancers, and then be done at a normal time (instead of midnight or 3 AM), and have a normal evening playing video games or watching TV or going out with friends.

And my day would not feel wasted. I couldn’t blame myself for things not getting done, because that stopped happening.

This was over 5 years ago now, and I am still using the guiding principles I taught myself back then (which are more than just putting things away, but that was a good start!).

So what’s the point of focusing on productivity? It can take one (huge) thing off your plate, so you can focus on other things that are maybe harder to deal with, and might be out of your control.

Think of it this way: if you had enough money that you will always be comfortable- enough to ensure you had food, shelter, clothing, and money for life and health expenses for all time- would there still be things in your life that would bother you or make you unhappy? Probably, but if that one thing- worrying about money- was off your plate, the other things would definitely be easier to deal with.

Taking control of personal productivity can have a similar effect. It removes one thing from your brainspace, and gives you more room to breathe.

Doing this is different for everyone, it is not a short process, it requires long-term maintenance. But once you see/feel it in action, it is worth it.

5 Ways To Focus When You Have Important Sh*t To Do

One of the most difficult tasks for me to do is writing & sending out cover letters and resumes. Even after I got that ish down to a SCIENCE, it still filled me with a singular, ice-cold dread that was so deep, avoiding the task seemed like the only thing to do.

Because I’m not an independently wealthy heiress, I needed to send in resumes to get a job, so I couldn’t avoid it.

So I got really good at not avoiding it.

Now, as Master of Tricking Yourself Into Focusing™*, I pass that knowledge on to you.

An airplane crossing the sky1. Go somewhere else

Libraries are great for this, but really, anywhere that is not your house is good. You’d be surprised how much just being in your home makes it easy to waste time. Not only is everything you need right there within your reach, but it also decreases your sense of urgency, which, if you’ve ever had to do a task you hated, is sometimes all that pulls you through.

While we’re at it, when you work at home (even on personal projects), don’t work in your bedroom/bed. In fact, if you can set yourself up in a straight back chair at a table or desk, do that. Being at home sitting on couches puts your body and mind into unwindulax mode. Keeping your sitting position all business keeps you going.

An old, old typewriter2. Cut the internet cord (not literally, though)

I try not to be one of those people who’s judgey about the way people spend their time on the internet because I actually think it’s a great mental break space. In fact, I keep stuff like this bookmarked at work.

That said, the internet is a productivity serial killer. It’s so easy to get lost in a Wikipedia hole, or scroll endlessly through Facebook and Buzzfeed. Sometimes, I get stuck on sites I don’t even care about, just to avoid working.

So if you have something you NEED to get done, turn off your internet. Don’t be afraid to get serious, either; if you need to unplug the entire thing, do it.

If you need a less involved solution, try Citrus (or Facebook Nanny, if just Facebook’s your trouble). I also occasionally use an Mac app called Concentrate, which costs $30, but can do a whole bunch of things not just on the web, but on your computer, too, like restricting the apps you can open. Here are some similar apps for Windows. Oh, and here are 19 more to boost your concentration, if you really like app solutions. Applutions.

Headphones3. Get rid of ALL distractions

This one might be tough for some people, because it requires doing some things that might make you feel uncomfortable.

The best possible way to make sure you get focused and stay focused is to remove all distractions from your workspace. This means no TV, no phone, turning off all notifications (yes, I mean email), and, if possible, shutting your door or otherwise letting people know you are not available.

If turning off notifications or being away from your phone feels like too much, remember that it’s only temporary. If you need to tell you boss or your mom or your partner or whoever that you’re not checking email for the next hour, do that. As long as they know, an hour is actually a small sliver of time. They won’t even notice.

To up your distraction-free game even more, find your magic sounds. Spotify has a whole focus section, which includes white noise/nature sounds, as well as ambient & classical music. There are also apps online and for your phone. Or, if singing doesn’t distract you (I can only do music with lyrics if I’m doing “mindless” work, like credit card reconciliations), you can use or create a workday playlist.

Whichever you choose, make sure you do two things: 1., get a good pair of noise canceling headphones (these are my favs, and they’re only ~$40), and 2.,do not listen to your “focus” sounds when you are not trying to work, ie – if you listen to rainforest sounds to work, do not listen to them to go to sleep.

A cute maltese dog4. Train yourself to focus

Here’s why you shouldn’t listen to your “focus” sounds when you’re not working: if you use the certain sounds only when you work, you will train your brain to feel motivated when it hears those sounds. They don’t have to be the same exact sounds every time; for example, if you listen to classical music when you work, classical music in general will become the trigger.

I used Brian Eno’s Music for Airports when I first started training myself to focus. I have never listened to it at any other time than when I am working, and I can work for incredibly (totally healthy) long hours when I have it on.

Besides music, just having a dedicated “workspace” can get you in the focusing mood. If somewhere in your house is for work, and only for work, just being there will have the same effect as the sounds.

If you really want to get Pavlovian, try this: when you are working and focused and feeling motivated, gently pull on your ear, or some other non-harmful physical act. Do it every time you’re in the zone. Every single time. After a month or so, you should be able to do that physical action whenever you need to focus, and you should feel motivated. The real key to this one is wanting it to work; if you go into skeptical, or not into it, you’ll negate the mind-over-body stuff this needs to work.

A clock on a wall5. Just do 5 minutes

If you’re really avoiding a task, start by just doing 5 minutes. Set a timer if you need to. Most of the time, you’ll want to keep working past 5 minutes, and you won’t need to break or anything. But if 5 minutes is up, and you’re like, “I’m done”, then be done. Take a break, or switch to a different task.

Then, do it again. Keep doing it till the task is done, or until you are doing more than 5 minute intervals.

For more structured time management, there’s the Pomodoro Technique, which uses 25-minute intervals. You can also try setting up your own intervals, or you can try what I call The Genius Method.

Research of highly accomplished, focused people has shown that they all pretty much do the same thing: over the course of a day, the work no more than 4 1/2 hours, split up into three 90 minute intervals, with breaks in between, including a 20-30 minute afternoon nap. I’ve found that 90 minute intervals really are the best chunk of work time, even if you do different tasks within those 90 minutes (so, maybe, just tackling your to do list for that time).

Oh, one last thing: don’t use your time between intervals to check all your “distractions”, like your phone or email. At most, use the break to check your messages, but don’t respond. That way, you can assuage your fears without getting off track.


Do you have a favorite way to get & stay focused? Share it with me!

* – not really ™. Back up ?

How To Adult Starter Kit, Item #2: Eat Well

I was hoping to post this much sooner, but got caught up in all our collective bs around food. How do you tell people to eat without invoking any of the other sh*t?

Then I read this article.

Well, ok, at first, I just read the headline, “Breakfast Is Not The Most Important Meal Of The Day”. That was enough to make me angry, because my whole thesis is that it is. So I skipped actually reading the article.

This morning, I realized “not important” doesn’t really negate my argument, and I decided to read the whole article.

I was somehow, after years of studying and criticizing our culture’s baggage around food and body size, SURPRISED that the only thing the article focused on was whether or not people lost or gained weight based on their breakfast habits.

It had nothing to do with, say, concentration or focus, motivation, or- of course- actually being healthy. And I could not find a link to any of the studies mentioned (in fact, it’s an article about an article about 2 studies, and the lack of links in both is suspicious), but my guess is the actual science either only focused on weight, or did not actually prove breakfast isn’t important.

So with renewed vigor, I present to you, the (maybe?) long-awaited follow-up to 2014’s “How To Adult Starter Kit, Item #1”….

How To Adult Starter Kit, Item #2: Eat Well

Before we start, what I mean by “eating well” is feeding yourself regularly in order to keep you, your brain, & your body operating at top capacity so you can get sh*t done, and get rid of the crushing, stressful weight of your neverending to do list.

What I don’t mean is:

  • dieting
  • not eating certain types of food
  • portion-control
  • eating organic/vegan/etc.
  • losing weight
  • gaining weight
  • any of the other bs baggage that we put on food and eating

(though I totally recognize all that stuff may come into play as people think about this, because our culture is messed up enough to tie basic physical necessities with self-worth, all while millions of Americans do not have regular access to food)

I am assuming you know that you’ll die if you don’t eat. But you won’t die like Vizzini in The Princess Bride, totally lucid and normal, doing what you always do, and then just falling over out of nowhere. It’s a painful process in which your body shuts down your organs and slows your metabolism to preserve your brain, heart, and lungs.

And it starts roughly 6 hours after you last ate.

At ~6 hours without food, your body will not have enough of what it needs to keep your brain functioning in tip-top shape, and it’ll start in on your fatty acids, while rerouting resources from the rest of your body. This means that your brain might get enough of what it needs to keep going, but definitely not enough to work properly, AND the rest of your body will feel like sh*t because it’s being denied resources.

So what?, I can hear you say through your computer screens, I don’t wait 6 hours to eat… lunch is only 3-4 hours away from breakfast!

Except that if you sleep for at least 6 hours (and you don’t sleepeat like Liz Lemon), you wake up already in that state.

In simplest terms, if your car runs out of gas, you don’t keep trying to drive it. In fact, most of the time, you don’t let it get to empty.

In this analogy, your body is the car, and food is the gas (heh heh). Food is fuel, and you can’t run without it.

THAT is why eating breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s the first big meal you’ve had in awhile, and you need it to get you going. Your brain is not operating at capacity until you get SOMETHING in your body for it to pull glucose from. An orange, a muffin, even a cup of coffee. You need to get something into that stomach of yours before you ask your brain to start focusing and calculating.

Now, I said you just need to eat something, whatever it is. If that’s the only compromise we can strike here because you are anti-breakfast, fine. Skip to the end, and sign up for my newsletter. In reality, you do yourself more favors by eating well at breakfast.

Your brain needs a lot of glucose to do its thing, and giving it a little at a time may mean a boost for however long it lasts, but you will do yourself a serious solid if you eat enough food to keep your brain going for awhile.

For example, a muffin and a cup of coffee may get you into the office and at your desk, but what happens when your brain runs out of energy-giving resources a few minutes after you sit down? Your mind starts to wander, and you get sidetracked from a task, or you start futzing around on the internet, and then all of a sudden it’s 11 AM, and your day is off. AND you’re hungry again.

If you give yourself the appropriate amount of food as soon as you wake up, and then follow that with the right amount of lunch & dinner, and snacks between meal times, you’ll be like a well-oiled machine, kicking ass & taking names.

Czech Honey Cake

What’s the right amount of food? Just like everything else, it’s different for everyone, and you might need to do a bit of legwork to find out what works for you.

I actually experimented with a variety of foods before I found what I needed: PROTEIN. I ate sausage and eggs every single morning for a few years, until I switched from freelancing to in-house work, and no longer had a kitchen & open schedule at my disposal. At that time, I tried a bunch of different yogurts, until I found a really great greek yogurt that is pretty much like breakfast pudding (and is nice to m tummy).

I started experimenting with breakfast & the amount/type of food I ate not because I was having trouble concentrating (I was, but I didn’t know it at the time). I started tracking all kind of things about my life- sleep, food, social activity, etc.- because I wanted to see if anything triggered my mental health issues.

I am not in any way, shape, or form a doctor or therapist of any kind, so this is not medical or psychiatric advice. Also, again, everything is different for everyone, so what works for me may not work for you.

What I discovered by tracking a variety of data was that, when I did not eat enough food throughout the day, I was more likely to first, become anxious (an almost immediate response), and second, become depressed (a response drawn out over a few days).

Before I knew there was a connection between my anxiety and my eating habits, I assumed that was just who I was all the time. I would just become anxious with or without an obvious trigger, and I would just have to wait it out.

Now, I had a possible solution to both keeping the anxiety at bay, and dealing with it when it came.

On the depression, it was less clear how things flowed together in such a perfect storm because, as many of you may know, depression is sometimes the cause, sometimes the effect. The anxiety might keep me from doing any work, and then the depression would set in because I didn’t get anything done. Or the lack of enough food would make my body not strong enough to keep myself together, and depression would just leak into me like poison.

Obviously, learning to eat well did not “cure” me. I still get anxious, and while I’ve been on an even keel for the last few years, depression is still something I deal with, even just in little ways. For me- again, this is just my deal, and others are most likely different- it’s easier. It’s easier to avoid or work through these things when my body has everything it needs. It’s easier to get sh*t done in my life that previously were supertriggers, like paying bills or cleaning the house.

Again, whether or not this will work for you, I don’t know, but if you find yourself struggling to concentrate, feeling tired or sluggish, or just not being as productive as you like, try eating 3 full meals a day, with some room for snacking for at least a month, and see how you feel. I recommend eating breakfast before 8 AM (or as soon as you get up, if you don’t 9-5), and other meals/snacks as soon as you feel hungry. Don’t try and make food a reward, don’t put it off until you do x,y,z thing. As with all items in this starter kit, routine is really important, so train your body to expect food at certain times by giving it food when it asks for it.


Lastly, let me say, without trying to make this a political thing, you should eat whatever you want. When I was a kid, my mom fed me only the healthiest, leanest stuff, totally homemade macrobotic whatever. I started to eat stick of butter- I would just go to the freezer and suck on them like a popsicle- and she asked my pediatrician how to make me stop. My pediatrician asked what she was feeding me, and then told her that I was doing it because I was not getting enough cholesterol. She upped my cholesterol, and I stopped eating butter.

Since then, she made sure to teach me that my body would tell me what it needed. To this day, I follow that, and I go for what I crave, and also try to make sure I balance my food out, including with sugars (dessert is awesommmeeee). AS ALWAYS, everyone is different, and, technically, I’ve been trained to do this since childhood, but…. be kind to yourself and your body. Don’t deny yourself food that you’re craving because it’s “bad”, because you could be denying your body nutrients it needs.


At this point, I hope that the pictures have made you hungry, and you go from here to somewhere to eat preferably cake, but I guess fried chicken would be ok, too.

Next Up in the Starter Kit: Get A Routine


On Miley Cyrus, Kathleen Hanna, and Music

First, let me say that I was inspired to write this because of something a friend said on Facebook, but, Chris, if you’re reading this, this is totally not a personal response to you. We clearly had completely normal discussion about it, and also, I owe you one for that time I said The Locusts weren’t real music, which I still feel terrible about.

For all the other dudes: you need to SFTU about this topic. If there was ever one thing that male-identified people needed to step the f back for, it’s this. Kathleen Hanna’s whole career has been expressly about supporting women, promoting feminism, and tearing down the patriarchy, so any male-ID’d person trying to talk about this automatically negates whatever they might say, simply because there is absolutely no space for you in any conversation about Kathleen Hanna & women.

Kathleen Hanna in he 90s.

KH in her BK Days.

Following that thread, I want to say that no member of riot grrrl, and especially not Kathleen Hanna, ever made a rule about what kind of women could be part of it. All women were and continue to be welcome, and all women who don’t like riot grrrl aren’t automatically ostracized or put down because what it’s always been about is letting women take up space. Sure, it played out as an underground thing, and b in the d, not gonna lie, that was kind of the appeal for me. I was an outcast, and I felt like I didn’t belong, so only music that wasn’t on the radio was going to really get to me. But that didn’t make it some elite thing that only those who “passed” could be a part of (or like something precious that needs protecting; I mean, riot grrrl was commercialized a looonnnnggg time ago).

So when I think of the first time I heard songs like “I wanna be yr joey ramone” or “Suck My Left One”, I don’t think that she’s pretending, or she’s just following trends. I think she’ a kindred to all of us that found Bikini Kill and Kathleen Hanna, and were all of a sudden tapped into a world where we weren’t second class citizens. We were leaders of a revolution.

I don’t know what it’s like to be Miley Cyrus. I mean, I bet it’s pretty cool, since she’s a bajillionaire, but I also know that sexism and inequality don’t look at your bank account before they f*ck you. I can’t imagine Miley Cyrus listening to Kathleen Hanna and NOT immediately feeling empowered and no longer alone. That’s what KH is all about, and that’s why she’s pretty much an American shero.

Miley Cyrus performing.

MC recently.

I also have to say that I am a little perplexed by the backlash because it feels like a lot of people are shaming Miley for being openly feminist. And not just everyday “women aren’t second class citizens” way; in an aggressive, in-your-face, unapologetic way. What does it say about us that a huge pop star connects with a feminist icon, and we all immediately say she’s faking it?

It says we have rules about which women get to be awesome badasses, and which don’t. It says we think feminism is ok, but only if you deserve it.

And it says that we think Miley Cyrus can’t be smart enough to be feminist. Like “Rebel Girl” or “My My Metrocard” are dense, TS Eliot-level epic poems that you need at least 2 degrees to figure out. Nor is the reality that women are not treated equally in the world.

Anyone who loves Kathleen Hanna loves her because they get her, full stop.

Also- and this is probably the one place where people will be like, “wait, hold up”- Miley Cyrus has been putting forward a lot of Kathleen Hanna energy in her career as of late. Think about it: people wanted her to be a Disney Princess, wearing chaste clothes and singing predictable pop songs. And she was like, NOPE!, flaunted her sexuality publicly, and did her own damn thing. She got a lot of people talking about feminism and woman’s bodies and women’s lives. Sounds pretty familiar to me, frankly.

Lastly, I want to say that I also think it’s telling how we police each other’s musical choices (among other things). Music is about feeling, emotion. Songs have the power to make you physically happy. Or sad. So why do we treat people’s musical choices like they have moral weight? Listening to Miley Cyrus doesn’t make you a bad person, and if you’re not into it, that doesn’t make you a bad person, either. And if Bikini Kill floats your boat, then that’s awesome, too. In fact, the more eclectic your music tastes, the more options you have to feel connected to some greater whole, so why do we look down on that? Why don’t we let people enjoy whatever music they like?

And should Miley Cyrus stumble across this post, girl, just remember these awesome BK lyrics the next time someone’s talkin’ sh*t:

Don’t need you to tell us we’re good
Don’t need you to say we suck

We don’t need you, we don’t need you
Us girls don’t need you


Bonus thing to mention: I did not get all intersection-y here, but I do feel very strongly that Miley Cyrus is pretty racially insensitive, to say the least. I also find the riot grrrl revival happening now to be pretty f*ing whitewashed, and have hindsight to see that its first time around was, too. I chose to just focus on the one road in this convo, which is a positive look at both of these things, versus a deep takedown.

Oh, and the featured image is from here.

How To Adult Starter Kit, Item #1: Sleep Well

This post is the first in a starter kit for anyone who wants to become an adult, and is wondering how the f to do that. The starter kit will be the bare minimum requirements for getting one’s life together, and it’ll also be useful  for anyone who has their life together, but wants to up their game a bit.

Some of the items may seem too easy, or obvious, or even unnecessary. Everyone is different, and needs different things, so I’ll try to leave it open wherever I can.

What I do know, however, is that successful people do all these things (and more, of course, but this is the starter kit, you know?). And by “successful people”, I don’t just mean the Lady Gagas and Hilary Clintons* of the world; I mean that chick at your work who always seems so together; your friend who makes 6x what you do, but is still so down to earth; your family member who has traveled around the world more times than you can count while working a day job at Walmart.

So your mileage may vary, and I encourage you to find what works for you and rock that as hard as you can.

And also… it might be worth it to at least try these things for at least a month, and see how you’re doing before writing them off.

It can’t hurt, right?

Without further ado, I give you…

Item #1: Sleep Well

When I was started getting my life together, this was probably the thing that made the most difference, and was also the thing that I most did NOT want to do. For whatever reason, our culture codes staying up late as “cool”, and sleeping late as “luxurious”. Frankly, I hear both of those because going to be is for nerds, and sleeping late is for Beyoncé.

But actually, sleep is like food: our bodies literally need it to survive. Sleep isn’t a negotiable thing, including the amount of sleep we need, so figure out when you have to go to bed to get at least 8 hours of sleep, and stick to that schedule. 30 minutes (or more, preferably) before going to bed, put away all your screens – TV, computer, cellphone, whatever. Read a book or magazine, or listen to music. Or just take an extra long BM, whatever fills the time.

Then, when it’s bedtime, get in bed, and stay there. If you’re like me and you have Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome that might keep you awake worrying about your day, get some melatonin or Tylenol PM or whatever, and let it carry you to Dreamland. All this will help train your body to go to bed when it’s bedtime, so in a month or so, you’ll just be tired at the right time.

Now, if you can’t imagine going to bed without looking at your cellphone or watching TV or whatever, try switching to something like music, white noise, or even old radio shows or new podcasts or something. Make it something you only do when it’s bedtime; so if you listen to a certain podcast, don’t listen to it any other time but beddy-bye time.

And if THAT doesn’t fit your needs, get familiar with your TV timer. Set it for 30 minutes (no more than 60), and make sure that it goes off completely then. That way, you get your TV time, and it doesn’t keep you from REM sleep by being on all night.

And on top of the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep, getting up early in the morning will make you feel like a badass. No joke; because getting up early gives you more time to get stuff done, you mentally feel more accomplished and motivated. You don’t even need to leave your house! Just the act of getting up early and doing something can act like an Awesome Enema in your system the whole rest of the day.

So start with getting to bed on a schedule, and then work to getting up early. I personally am still working on that one, but just getting up and eating breakfast instead of trying to do breakfast at work has revolutionized my productivity.

Next Up: Eat Well

* – and Jesse Jacksons, if he’s important to you. Back up ?

On “Socialized as Female/Male”

First and foremost, this idea presupposes that there is one way to be “female” or “male”, one way to teach those things, one way to experience, them, etc. That is obviously inaccurate, if for no other reason that the obvious one that gender is not a real thing, therefore, it lacks any consistency in its definition, presentation, or realization.

Secondly, saying someone was “socialized as [whatever]” and that affects who they are now is a tried & true tactic of transphobes the world over. While I recognize that most people who are not transphobic and use this concept do not mean it in a harmful way, it is pretty harmful to use an idea that is kind of the core of all modern transphobia.

Third, following up on the above, this concept is kind of an under the radar way of saying someone is not “100%” their chosen gender. As in, “He’s a man, but he’s really a woman”, or “She’s a woman, but she’s really a man”. Trans & gender variant/non-conforming people are not “part something else”, unless of course they identify that way, but even then, it doesn’t make them any less anything else.

Lastly, humans aren’t finite in who they are. Each and every one of us changes and grows and moves and expands as life inspires us to, and as a result, someone can be something for the first 18 years of their life, and then something else for the next 60. In fact, I would expect most people to “grow out”of their childhood, and in the case of a life-changing & life-affirming thing like transition, I would hope the person becomes someone new. I would hope that something that huge would have a profound enough effect on them that they put themselves together in a new way.

It’s not that I don’t believe we treat children differently based on a variety of factors, including gender, and that that treatment affects people down the line. That’s obviously true and real. I’m living proof, if nothing else. But it’s not possible that something that happened to someone in their youth sticks with them in an irreversible way. And it’s not particularly fair or kind to treat people like they can’t change, no matter what they do.

So, in conclusion, please reconsider using this concept and/or phrase when you are describing either your experience, or the experiences of others.

Rich is Relative.

A few days ago, I only had $13 in my bank account.

A friend asked me how he could get over the shame and stress of paying bills on time, so I gave him my whole personal bill-paying shame story, and my system to overcome it. This required me to say, out loud, that I only had $13 in my bank account, to illustrate how the system I use provides me with freedom.

I hesitated saying the actual number, and once I did, I questioned whether or not I should have done it. While overanalyzing it, I realized…. there’s no shame in only having $13 in your bank account. It’s only because we attach a moral standing to being rich that money things even cause any shame at all.

And I decided I would not be ashamed.

I would not be ashamed for the obvious reasons, like the fact that $13 is more than many people have, and it’s enough for 3 awesome bagel sandwiches at this coffee shop I love.

I would not be ashamed because all my bills were paid, and that $13 was just what was left from the money I could do anything I wanted with.

I would also not be ashamed because I have a full time job for which I receive regular paychecks, and I have a savings account, as well as 2 retirement accounts, so it wasn’t the last money I had in the world. In fact, the idea that I have other money available to me and am able to plan for the future is such a huge privilege in and of itself.

Most of all, however, I decided I would not be ashamed because I do not want to buy into the idea that rich people are better, or that rich is a real, tangible thing. They’re not, and it’s not. Rich is relative. You’re rich compared to some, and poor compared to others, and probably what you think of as rich and poor is more about how a person is living than how much money they actually have.

Bill paying anxiety isn’t about ‘being an adult’ (because that’s not a real thing anyway); it’s about feeling like you are not worthy, not good enough. It’s so deep and pervasive and invisible. It creates a cycle, where you avoid paying bills as they stack up, you spend money on other things even though you think you should know better, and then you’re hundreds of dollars in a hole, hating yourself.

That cycle looks very different from the other side. Companies thrive on our anxiety because where they could have gotten $50, they now have $500.

And it becomes easy for all of us to complacent and even aggressive about people on welfare, people who are without their ideal living situation, even people who are having a hard time finding work.

Because they’re not just part of a broken system, or being affected by outside circumstances… they’re actually bad people.

I am still struggling with the shame of having so little in my bank account, even though it was a few days ago, and my account’s now full again because it was just payday. Even though I know all of the above.

I’m trying to keep in mind something another friend said about this, which is that I am living within my means. It’s weird, but living within one’s means is an actual privilege, too. How backwards is that? That just to be getting by is privilege.

So I going to hold on to that, and remind myself every day that money has no bearing on the morality or worth of a person.

Adult Secret: Being An Adult Is The Same As Being A Child

As I get older, I bump my head against the horrible realization that Adulthood(TM) does not gain you any bonus information. I mean, it gets you extra knowledge, like how to make a t-shirt for a paper bag puppet, and how to get money to buy toys, most of which is awesome.

But when I was a kid, I thought Adults had SECRETS. They were tapped into some magical extrasensory perception, and if I could just cross the threshold into that space at [insert age here], I, too, would have this special knowledge. Finally! I would have a clean room, and lots of friends, and everything I wanted and needed, and everything would be ok!

That never happened. Obviously. Even worse? I discovered that not only does adulthood not make you any smarter or better, but actually, there are a lot of people who don’t even get that far.

Work is the No. 1 place we encounter this in our lives. We spend so much time with people in this really unique relationship: The Coworkers. They are not your friends, you don’t choose them and you aren’t with them because you have even the faintest wisp of anything in common. They aren’t you’re family, but you’re forced together with them by unseen hands and you have to put up with their little weird gross quirks. And the aren’t just strangers you can ignore while you wait for the bus.

It’s a special relationship, and it’s not one we’re prepared for. So when you politely ask the woman in Cubicle G to turn down her music, and she says ok, then starts a rude email chain about you, it feels pretty WTF. Why would she even bother? Why does it matter if you asked her to turn her music down? Why is she so crazy GAWD!!

Most people would leave it there (well, maybe some might key her car or something), which is actually for the best. Because digging deeper gets you to Disappointment Valley, where you quickly and painfully realize that everyone is as lost as you are, and no one learned anything upon crossing the threshold into [insert age here]. Which means that your parents and all the adults you knew never learned anything either, and they were basically just saying things to kill time.

Obviously, it’s not quite that. There are plenty of people, old and young, who say and do incredible stuff. The catch is that for every incredible thing, there are at least 80 dumb things waiting in their wings. This is why so many of our heroes are also terrible people. Drunks, drug addicts, jerks, homophobes, Republicans (not a joke – Robert Downey, Jr. is a forever let-down).

The bright light at the end of the tunnel is that you’re off the hook for having to know anything or be any certain way. Can’t do your dishes? No one ever does dishes. Have a job you hate? That’s basically the name of the largest employer in the US. You were rude to the lady at Kohl’s? 15 minutes before, someone threw a Slow Cooker at her, so technically, you were the highlight of her day.

If you can get out of bed and make it at least 8 hours without blowing something up, you’re doing better than half the population.

Of course, now that you’ve made it this far into Disappointment Valley, you have to walk out with something. You have to be better. I think this is what keeps people from fully realizing how being an adult doesn’t give you any special knowledge, or even basic knowledge. If you have to become a better person to face that, it’s not worth it, most of the time.

I’m trying to become a better person, and also, I’m lowering my standards. If I expected someone to be able to do something, I was probably overshooting by a good mile. I tone down my expectations, and think about the best way to teach kids to not be total %&*holes.

Eureka Moments Never Happen

Today, someone asked me about ‘eureka moments’. Like the moment when Mrs. Fields realized she could sell her cookies and make bank, or the moment Steve Jobs decided computers were his destiny.

The thing is… those moments never happen. Those are definitely movie-ready moments, things we create to encapsulate a story. But they aren’t real life.

In real life, people find things they like to do, and they do them, and then the find ways to monetize them. Even people like Tim Ferriss do it; he may prefer to travel the world studying MMA, but he was starting companies with products that reflected his real life, like study aids and weight-building pills.

If you’re waiting for your brain to back up your ideas with some movie-magic-moment confirmation, you will probably wait forever. Your brain is hard-wired to not take risks, and also, it doesn’t know squat, so how could it know whether your idea is good or not?

How to tell if your idea is good or not is to do it. You don’t even have to go whole hog. Just start small. Want to blog? Blog. Blog, and connect with other bloggers you like.

Want to make and sell jewelry? Just do that. You can sell on Etsy, you can sell in a local craft fair, you can just sell to your friends.

Want to go back to school for something? Just take one class, or go to some networking events. Or, if you’re not trying to be a doctor or something, just start doing it, and see if you like it.

And, yes, some of your ideas are not going to work out. That’s just real life. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure, or a terrible person, or that none of your ideas are good ever. You are not your ideas. You are your actions, so act awesome after you fail, and you’ll be awesome.

Race & Class Walk Into A Bar

One of the big barriers to getting white people to deal with race is the language we use to try and put race into perspective. One word, in fact:


White people have serious reactions to this word because the definition we most use for it is RICH. And when we talk about race- especially African-Americans- we talk a lot about being POOR.

So when you’re trying to talk to an average white person about racial privilege, all the hear is, ‘YOU’RE SO RICH AND LUCKY!’, to which they respond, ‘No I’m not! I grew up poor! No one did anything for me!’

Of course, if we get to the poetry of it all, that’s exactly why we use the word ‘privilege’ – because it means HAVING MORE THAN OTHERS. White privilege is the ultimate trust fund.

It occurred to me today that white people connect race and class in a deep way. It’s not that non-white people are poor, it’s that poor people are not white. So if a white person grew up poor, they don’t think they’re any different than a person of color. In fact, some white people, especially those who are under 40, may even consider themselves to be non-white because whiteness is defined by having $$$, not by your actual skin color. As if it were possible for people of color to be given all the best things from the very beginning, they’d all turn out like Carlton.

This does a couple things:

1. It makes POC culture (especially black culture) non-existent because it says that it’s economic status that created things like rap and certain clothing styles and AAVE, not a group of people creating a lush, historically tied culture independent of white influence;

2. It disempowers both POC & non-POC because it supports the capitalist idea that poor isn’t a state of being that you can remove yourself from, it’s a condition you are born into, a biological truth, so we don’t try and elevate ourselves economically;

and 3. It allows white people to further distance themselves from confronting race because it lets them ignore race AND ignore their own privilege.

All this very much reminds me of this popular but no less true Steinbeck quote:

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

Ultimately, facing the reality of the intersection of race & class in America is really about this. The second we wake up and admit that the people at the top are keeping all of us at the bottom, we’ll face up to racial inequality at all its levels.