This weekend, a story I told on Twitter almost six months ago was published on a few web sites. If you haven’t read it, the story was about the time I went looking for Matt Damon while I was studying in Morocco. I tweeted it because a friend asked for a story, and I’d had a few beers, and, well, that’s the whole thing. A friend asked and I’d had a few beers.
I have absolutely no idea how it became a thing six months later, but I woke up one day with a thousand new Twitter followers and a lot of mentions of Matt Damon. I also had a few texts and tweets from concerned friends who had read the comments on Jezebel and Gawker and were worried about my feelings. From what they tell me, there were quite a few comments that were less than flattering.
First of all, I am so grateful that I have people in my life who rush to my defense when the internet tries to put me down. Truly. But this whole episode made me realize that Twitter has taught me a life lesson I should maybe share with others. Listen up, because if this is new information, it’s gonna change your life.
Never read the comments.
No, really. NEVER READ THE COMMENTS.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s important to hear from people who have different points of view. Constructive criticism is essential to any artistic or intellectual endeavor. But let’s be real. Comments on the internet are the opposite of constructive criticism. They’re the ‘ring and run’ of virtual social interaction. They are THE WORST.
Imagine, if you will, a cocktail party. Someone you’ve never met is telling an anecdote; an amusing, but essentially superficial, humorous tale of the time they almost met a celebrity. Everyone is laughing politely, and sipping their respective adult beverage. Some people think this party guest is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Others think oh my GOD, is this story over. The storyteller delivers the punchline, and most people laugh politely. Except for one person. ONE person, who stands up and says, “That was the dumbest story I’ve ever heard and you are a fucking moron.”
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is your average internet commenter. The person who lacks the social fluency to gauge the relative importance of your discourse, and respond in an appropriate manner. In essence, the asshole.
I tweeted a story about looking for Matt Damon. From what friends have told me, the comments have ranged from “check your privilege” to “you’re a fucking liar.” I’d like to say that I just don’t care, but I guess that’s not 100% true. Nobody likes being called out. I’m not immune to that. But to be completely honest, I don’t really have a lot of feelings. This is a joke among my friends, but it’s true. I don’t have a lot of feelings. So I’m not going to say this for myself, but I will say it for everyone else out there who maybe needs to hear it one more time.
You are not the dumbest thing on the internet.
I mean, think about that. There is literally no point in time in which you are the dumbest thing on the internet. Have you seen the internet? YOU ARE NOT THE DUMBEST THING ON THE INTERNET. That will always be true. Statistically, in your lifetime, that will always be true. There will always be someone dumber than you on the internet. Geraldo Rivera tweeted a half-naked selfie last night. I mean, ffs, YOU ARE NOT THE DUMBEST THING ON THE INTERNET.
Remember that the next time you think about saying something. You are not the dumbest thing on the internet. No matter what anyone else says - and trust me, people will say things - you just aren’t. You may not have the best story to tell, or the smartest take on whatever breaking news is currently breaking, but you’re not the biggest idiot out there either. Ann Coulter is still spouting nonsense. Glenn Beck has a radio show. You’re allowed to say something that isn’t the most thought-provoking thing this generation has ever read. You can just tell a semi-drunken story about a thing that happened a few years ago. You really, truly, can.
All of us have that voice inside our head that tells us we’re not good enough. That what we have to say is stupid, and not worth listening to. That we’re insignificant, and ineloquent, and essentially a waste of space. And that’s plenty. I mean, for god’s sake, we don’t need anyone else driving those points home. So when someone you don’t know comes out of nowhere with an opinion about what you have to say, or how you’re choosing to live your life - take a step back and think. That person took the time to register with that web site and create a profile. They made a password, and handed over an email address. They probably falsified a date of birth and zip code. Just so they could tell you they think your story is stupid. I mean, think about that. That is some seriously misused free time.
I don’t read the comments. Not about anything I post, and not about anything I read. There’s a time and a place for measured, thought-provoking dissension. The comments section on a Gawker post is not that time or place. Not because the shit I tweeted one night in February is just that awesome; but because anyone who takes the time to tell me it’s really not is kind of a dick. And that’s all there is to say.
Don’t read the comments. Anyone who says nasty things in them is essentially the guy the rest of us are staring at, wondering who invited them to the party. We got your back. Do your thing, say your piece, and odds are pretty good that you’re not remotely the dumbest thing we’ve seen all day.
I mean, two million people watched the premiere of Sharknado.
You got this.
You know how some people are completely anal retentive about their name? Like, if you spell Sarah with an h, but it’s actually Sara without an h and they totally lose their shit? Or how other people let someone continue to call them by the wrong name past the point when it’s socially acceptable to correct them?
I’m in that latter group of people.
I honestly just don’t care. My name is Erin Faulk. It’s a pretty good name, except for when people don’t pronounce the l. That gets awkward, mostly for them. But other than that, I can’t complain. St. Patrick’s Day always feels like it belongs to me a little. And I don’t mind hearing the occasional “Faulk you.” My middle name is Marie, which is kind of boring, I guess. But better than Louise, which is what my parents wanted it to be until they realized my initials would be ELF.
People think that because I don’t have the same last name as Adam, I didn’t change it when we got married. That is incorrect. I did change it. I was 20, and getting married, and everybody said “But what about your kids? Don’t you want the same last name as your kids?”
Looking back, it’s hard to understand how that argument made any sense to anyone ever. Are these hypothetical children too stupid to know who their mother is unless they share a name? After birthing said hypothetical children, would I not feel any attachment to them unless we had the same last name? Also, did you know that you can name kids whatever you want when they’re born? (Except for dirty words and stuff - that’s illegal in some places). My hypothetical offspring could have my last name, how does that sound, I’m the one who GREW THEM IN MY BODY.
Most importantly, I’ve been married for ten years and this issue has yet to come up because the children are still hypothetical. So I changed my name back.
Which is not as easy as you might think.
Changing it the first time wasn’t so bad. Show the marriage certificate at the Social Security office, boom. New driver’s license, boom. New Erin. Changing back was a circus. I actually had to pay money to get my name back. My name, which is the first thing ever given to me as a little tiny human; my name that was mine for 20 years. And I had to pay with cash or check.
I had to sit in a courtroom filled with other people who wanted to change their names, and watch them stand before the judge, one by one, and explain why. There was a judge, and his actual job that day was to be like, yeah, okay, that seems like a good reason to change your name. Aside from the one kid getting adopted, everyone’s reason was divorce - I had no less than three women ask me “How long were you married?” and I said “Oh, I still am,” which got me the stink eye, and a row of chairs all to myself.
When my name was finally called (which seems kind of mean, since they knew for a fact I was there because I didn’t want people to call me that anymore), I walked on up and stood before the judge.
"What is your legal name?"
"Erin Marie Critchlow."
"And what would you like to change it to?"
"Erin Marie Faulk."
"It says here the reason is marriage: is Faulk your husband’s name?"
"No, it’s my maiden name."
"I see. You’re getting divorced?"
"I still want to be married, I just want my name back."
"Because it’s mine. I want it back."
"Why did you change it then?"
"I don’t know, I felt like it."
"But not anymore?"
"No, now I want my real name back."
"Well…uh, okay then."
My argument won him over. I had to swear that I wasn’t trying to avoid debt or outstanding warrants, and then the judge approved it and I paid my money with a check that no longer had my legal name on it and walked out the door. Then I had to go to the Social Security office and show them the document, and then the bank, and then my university, and then my health insurance company and my credit card companies and my cell phone company. Plus, they printed it in the local paper, because everyone has a right to know I changed my name, which led to numerous people telling my parents they were so sorry my marriage didn’t work out. The good news is, I think Erin Critchlow still had some unpaid fines at Blockbuster. Don’t tell the judge about that one.
But I got my name back. Because it’s a pretty good name. Now when I fill out forms, I have an alias that has to be listed. Which is kind of cool, like Critchlow was my spy name. I don’t think having my name back has caused much confusion (except for every elderly relative on both sides who send a birthday card to Mrs. Adam Critchlow every year - I’ll tell you right now, that person never did exist). People know Adam and I are married, and if they think we’re not, I could not care less. My hypothetical children are pretty smart, so I think they’ll continue to be well-adjusted and hypothetical. And some people still call me Erin Critchlow, which I respond to the same way I respond to Erin Faulk, e faulk, Erin Scafe, Erin’s Cafe, Anne, Ingrid, and yes last week I let someone call me Sarah for like an hour. Or Sara. Whatever.
Feel free to call me whatever you want. In the words of my late grandfather, Earl “Scotty” Douglas Swall, “Just don’t call me late for dinner.”
(J/k, have you met me? I’m always late for dinner.)
Today President Obama called Kamala Harris, Attorney General of the State of California, the “best-looking attorney general.”
Let’s set aside the fact that Obama was probably right. (No seriously, if he’s talking CA State Attorneys General, Harris wins. Tirey L. Ford is a close second. http://oag.ca.gov/history )
But nobody’s upset that Obama called a good-looking woman good-looking. What’s got everyone’s panties in a twist is the casual sexism the statement implies. That women should be pretty and men should be strong. The same sort of casual sexism implicit in the phrase don’t get your panties in a twist, am I right?
I don’t believe the President intended to offend the women of the world, but sure. It was a thoughtlessly shitty thing to say. What absolutely blows my mind is that anyone feels confident in calling the man out on it. Casting the first stone takes a lot of self-confidence, no?
So gentlemen, before you rush to defend our honor, which annoys the ever-living fuck out of a lot of us, please make sure that you have never committed any of the following acts of benevolent sexism.
Have you done any of these things? I mean, honestly? Because every guy I know has. And I still like them. I might roll my eyes occasionally, but being condescended to is nothing new. And the vast majority of you don’t even mean it. Guess what? We get it. It’s how you were raised. It’s how I was raised too. It doesn’t mean it’s ideal; it just means it takes a little effort to undo those years of assuming we need your help, or your money, or even your praise.
Does this make it awkward for you to tell us we’re pretty? Yeah, kind of. And I really can’t be bothered to care that much about it. That’s what happens when you try to fix shit that’s been wrong for thousands of years. So let’s make a deal: men, you try your best to recognize that not all compliments come across as such. In exchange, we’ll forgive you for trying to score political points by placing us on a pedestal.
@itstheannmarie is writing a paper about Twitter and parody, and asked if I would answer some questions. (Obviously, I am a leading thinker in the fields of funny and Twitter. Or more likely, Ann-Marie wants an excuse to tweet and call it research.) Either way, these answers were longer and less funny than I intended. But when I put this much time into writing something (like, 30 minutes), I make you guys read it too. You’re welcome.
I turned 30 this weekend. I’ve known it was coming for a while (math is hard, but not that hard). Still, it surprised me a bit. I’ve never been nervous about turning 30. In fact, I’ve always suspected I’ll be much better at my 30’s than I was at my 20’s. (Considering I haven’t managed to take a shower today, I may have to reassess.) But for better or worse, it’s here. 30. 3-0.
Not gonna lie, it feels the same.
I mean, obviously, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and change doesn’t happen overnight, and age is just a number, and other awful idioms. But it seriously feels just the same. Except for that number. That three makes a difference. Not because it makes me grown-up (it doesn’t), even though I used to think it would (I really did), but because it makes me think. 30. Maybe I am growing up, because that number makes me feel so utterly and enthusiastically grateful for those years. I have no clue how I got this lucky.
Did you know Biggie Smalls was 24 years old when he died? 24. I’ve had 6 more years of life than that, and they’ve been crazy full. Tupac was 25. Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin both died when they were 27. Buddy Holly was 22.
Clearly, the morbid point I am making is twofold: thank god I didn’t become a musician, because that doesn’t seem to end well; and every year we get to experience on this insane planet is a freaking gift from the universe that not everybody gets, and very few of us earn.
And along with those years have come an embarrassing number of other gifts.
A Brief Sample of the Incredible Gifts 30 Birthdays Have Brought Me:
Looking back, it’s been a jam-packed 30 years. Looking forward…well, a friend recently reminded me of that part in Saving Private Ryan - which is a great film and if you don’t agree you should probably never admit that to anyone - that part where *SPOILER ALERT* Tom Hanks is dying, and he grabs Matt Damon’s jacket, leans in close to his ear and says “Earn this. Earn it.” And I really hope I get 60 or so more years. I’ve got a lot to earn.
My friend asked on Facebook why anyone would vote for Obama, because she truly does not understand. I like her, and I happen to have voted for Obama, so I decided to write a serious answer.
I know you don’t mean to offend - and I’m certainly not offended. I think it’s crazy that so many people truly don’t understand why more than half the country supported Obama, but I’m guessing part of that comes from where you live and who you talk to. Utah went for Romney by over two-thirds, I think.
I think one of the biggest blind spots conservatives had in this election was marriage equality. I know a LOT of people who turned out to vote on a civil rights issue. I think there are people who don’t feel like they understand the economic issues, even people who don’t understand the differences between views on healthcare, or defense, or any of number of things, but who feel completely confident in their assessment that rights are rights and fair is fair.
In states where marriage equality has passed, little has changed in the lives of hetero couples. It’s not the big scary thing it was 10 years ago. Voters have rapidly changed their minds on this issue, and young voters, who turned out in record numbers again, are fiercely supportive of marriage equality.
For a lot of people, even people who feel that same-sex relationships are immoral, this is simply a civil rights issue. The courts are reinforcing this belief. And most importantly, the single greatest factor in your support for marriage equality is having an LGBT person as a close friend or family member. It’s one thing to say that in general, you don’t think gay marriage is right; it’s another to tell someone you know that they shouldn’t be able to make critical medical decisions for their life partner, or provide health benefits for the person they have chosen to spend their life with. And it’s another thing entirely to say you think the other issues in this election are more important than somebody’s rights.
To a lot of people, when the Republican Party’s platform snubbed LGBT Americans, voting for Romney became the equivalent of voting against basic civil rights. The Democrats doubled down on that, and their inclusion of marriage equality in the party platform became a huge benefit for them.
On top of that, the general Republican strategy seemed one of exclusion: ignore the people that didn’t agree, and instead focus on energizing voters who shared their ideals. It was a huge flaw in their campaign strategy. Gallup overestimated the number of White voters by 6% - a huge margin. They ignored issues important to Non-White voters: the Dream Act, Obamacare, and let’s be honest, food stamps. Poor Americans are overwhelmingly Non-White. In the US Census, less than 10 percent of White Americans live below the poverty line; that number is near 30 percent for Hispanic and Black Americans. These Americans are also traditionally underrepresented in elections, and the Obama campaign reached out to and registered record numbers.
To top it off, the world increasingly favors universal healthcare, and demonizing Obamacare was, I think, a GOP misstep. We spend twice what other first world nations spend on healthcare, while still managing to have millions uninsured. When Americans hear that citizens of Canada and Australia and the UK don’t have to be afraid to walk into an ER and ask for care, it very quickly makes up a lot of minds. I am uninsured, and have a single basic medication that costs me $98 a month. With insurance, it costs $7. That’s a frustrating gap, especially considering I am essentially uninsurable due to preexisting conditions.
Add to that the fact that the recent rape gaffes made a huge impression on female voters. I think they were stupid, overblown mistakes, BUT I also don’t think the GOP correctly assessed the impact it had on female voters - 52% of the electorate this time around. It showed that the Republican Party endorsed candidates out of touch with voters and unsympathetic to women’s issues.
While I am personally pro-life, I tend to vote pro-choice because the right has somehow managed to make this an issue about women choosing “convenience” over life, rather than the difficult choices that have gone into every abortion I’ve ever known about. It is remarkable that a party with such a solid claim to respect for life has managed to let the narrative become negative, rather than uplifting. This respect for life is also undermined in the eyes of voters by the insistent GOP support of the death penalty, which I find mind-boggling. We don’t tend to like our country to be compared to Yemen, the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, etc.
I think the biggest problem of all was a general feeling that the GOP viewed a large number of Americans with contempt and disdain. And as someone on the left who doesn’t go to church, I’m going to tell you right now that even Democrats have read Matthew 25:40. Compassion is no longer a word conservatives like to use; it seems they place more importance on fighting entitlement, even at the expense of the truly needy.
Romney’s 47% comment hit home with people because it feels as if the Republican Party doesn’t care about half the country. The overwhelming feeling among Democrats is that Republicans don’t like Mexicans, or poor people, or women who work or people who recycle. I don’t think it’s 100% true, but I will tell you that I have been met with enough personal contempt from conservatives that it isn’t 100% not true. I’m not big on feelings, so this isn’t generally what influences my vote, but the vitriol of many right-wing pundits is devastating for the future of the Republican Party. Somehow, the GOP thought fighting “Hope” with “Don’t be an idiot” was a winning campaign strategy. I think it’s always a harder battle to get people to fight against something than for something. The Republican Party used to be incredibly patriotic; this election cycle, they seemed to be defensively so.
You’ll notice I didn’t mention economics. This was a factor in my voting, and far and away the thing voters claimed most influenced their voting choices. But I believe numbers can lie. I think a lot of people were satisfied with the explanation that Obama wanted to tax rich people and Romney didn’t. I think that accounted for some votes.
But more importantly, the country is doing better than it was 4 years ago. You can say it’s not doing as well as it should be, and I think everyone will agree. I think Democrats will also jump too quickly to blame Congress (which deserves a decent amount of blame.) But things are better. This is not the apocalyptic future predicted by some conservatives four years ago, and that makes it pretty hard to believe we’ll finally get around to that apocalyptic future in another four years.
Jobs are historically created faster under Democrats. In the latter part of Bush’s second term, the US economy was losing an average of 417,000 jobs a month. In the latter part of Obama’s first term, we’ve gained an average of 155,000 jobs a month. Is it good enough? No. But it’s a hell of a lot better than where we were four years ago. And I don’t think it was actually the most important factor that influenced voters once they stepped into a polling booth.
I think you know this entire post is out of character for me. I don’t mind talking politics, but I hate doing it on Facebook. I’m also much more likely to crack a joke, or post a funny picture than to get up on a soapbox. But you’ve said you truly wanted to know why people voted for Obama, and I like you. I think you deserve a straight answer. People voted for Obama because nobody likes to show up to a party that they weren’t invited to. Republicans failed to build bridges, they failed to change minds, and they failed to win the election.
And I hope to god they try to do those things in the next four years. A Democrat in the White House and Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate sounds like a dream come true for half the country, and in some ways I’m sure it would be. But opposition in government is important, if for no other reason than to prevent laziness and complacency. Governing should be hard, it should be time-consuming, and it should require compromise. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong.
You ask why so many people voted for Obama? Because he gave them reasons to. The Republican Party focused on giving Americans reasons to not vote for Obama. It’s a subtle, and important difference. Pro tip: in four years, try inviting people to the party.
A few weeks ago, I got tickets to see Scarface at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Right next to Paramount Studios, Hollywood Forever is the final resting place for lots of famous people who built Hollywood and whose names we kind of recognize. During the summer, they project films onto the wall of one of the buildings for a crowd of 3,000 drunk and unruly individuals. Seriously. It’s like a gathering of the worst people in the world.
I made Adam and Hassan go to this because a) it was Scarface b) we live in LA and never do any local stuff and c) it was Scarface. Young Pacino is really hot. The only other time I’d been was last year with my friend Rachel to see Edward Scissorhands. Either it wasn’t nearly as awful last year, or the body not remembering pain extends to emotional pain as well. Because this was bad.
We got there over an hour before the film started, mostly because I didn’t look at the time on the tickets. There isn’t any reserved seating, so everyone brings their camping chairs and blankets and stakes out their little plot on the lawn. Pun intended. (There are several cemetery puns buried in this post. That was another one. I am not ashamed.) We picked a spot next to Arthur Jay Waters (1871-1923) and Charlotte Miller Waters (1877-1928). It also happened to be next to the handicapped section, which was outlined in bright orange tape, and manned by what appeared to be a 12-year-old boy.
The boy was attempting to inform the never-ending procession of idiots trying to sit there that it was for handicapped individuals and their guests only. Adam pointed out that a sign could have gone a long way to helping the kid out. As we sat there, we witnessed the worst people in the world being awful. Kid: I’m sorry, this is the handicapped section. You can’t sit here. Awful Person: Well, what constitutes handicapped? Other Awful Person: My friend’s a cripple. (points at friend who rolled his ankle playing basketball) Even More Awful Person: Are you kidding me? They don’t need all this room. Right before the film started, the kid lost his hard-fought battle against idiocy and the section was flooded by lazy people and those who came late. RIP, kid. You did what you could.
Then the film started.
Which was difficult to tell, actually, because no one stopped talking. The couple behind us, clearly on a first date, continued sharing their life stories with one another. At full volume. Aided by liquor. ( I hope they genuinely liked each other, because I highly doubt they were making good choices by the end of the 3-hour film.)
A man in front of us, sitting in the handicapped section with his very pregnant wife/girlfriend/date, kept taking pictures of the screen. On his iPhone. By holding his arms straight in the air above his head, thus blocking our view of the screen and making him look like he was calling a touchdown for Pacino. Or dancing to YMCA. It was obnoxious. Especially because we could see what he was getting a picture of. A dark screen on a dark night, without even zooming in. Hassan decided there must exist a Facebook album that consists solely of blurry, dark, far away shots from that night.
At one point, the kids next to us (who seemed to be healthy, able-bodied boys in the handicapped section) asked us for a lighter. When we said no, they kept asking everyone around us until they found one. At which point, they lit up a joint. Come to think of it, maybe they were in the handicapped section due to cataracts?
By the second hour, the aggressive picture-taking had me at my breaking point. Adam just kept drinking beers and muttering about hating people. Hassan quietly glared at the man.
Adam: It’s a good thing that man’s taking pictures. I bet there are no pictures anywhere on the internet of any of the scenes in Scarface.
Hassan: I will buy that man the DVD if he just stops. Just stop.
Random woman next to us: I have some pita chips you can throw at him.
Me: NO ONE CAN SEE WHEN YOU DO THAT.
Man with Camera: Just a second.
No, seriously. He told me just a second and kept taking the picture. Then took more. It was amazing. Soon after, he got up to escort his wife to the bathroom. We enjoyed 15 blissful minutes in which we could see the screen, almost hear the dialogue, and unsuccessfully try to decipher what was happening in the film. We finally decided we should probably just leave and beat the traffic. Actually, Adam mostly decided. He won me over by saying “We can watch Scarface at home, whenever you want. Just please, can we leave?”
As fate would have it, we waited just long enough for picture man to return from the bathroom. He helped his wife/girlfriend/date into her chair, then proceeded to clumsily fall into his own chair, flipping it over and dumping him out onto the grass. On his head. I cannot remember the last time I laughed that hard. We had to run away to the car, because we could not stop laughing, and, you know, people were trying to watch a movie.
As we fled, Hassan snapped a picture of the guy flailing around on the ground (see above). As he noted, IT LOOKS LIKE EVERY PICTURE THAT MAN TOOK THAT NIGHT. For those of you who are on Facebook, feel free to tag it Worst Person in the World and add it to the Blurry Dark Far Away Shots of Scarface Album.
I always hate this day. That’s kind of a stupid thing to say, I suppose. No one likes it. There are plenty of people in the world with more reason to hate this day than I have. But still. I’m never ready for it. It always sneaks up on me, somehow. Which is weird, because it’s not like I’ve forgotten. Nobody who saw it 11 years ago has forgotten. Every time I see the words “never forget,” I think, right. Like that’s possible.
I was 18 years old 11 years ago. I was a college freshman, living in a dorm at BYU. Three weeks into the semester, I think I had finally figured out where all my classes were. I hadn’t called my mom nearly enough, and I’d called my boyfriend far too much. I was used to moving, and being on my own. I had been to boarding school. I was feeling free, and self-sufficient, and like I totally knew what I was doing and where I was going. And then the rules changed.
I heard from my roommate, who I didn’t particularly like. She tended to be overly dramatic, so I didn’t believe her at first. Then everyone was talking about it, and you could barely see any of the TVs on campus. I always forget that I did see the news that day. I saw them replay the second plane hitting, and I turned and walked away. I didn’t see any more footage from that day until a year later.
I grabbed my bag and walked to class. Three people were there for the first ten minutes. When they realized no one was coming, they left. I sat there until class was over, then went to my next class. I was the only one. I went to all my classes that day, then went back to my room and tried to get some news from the internet. I think I talked to my mom. I think I talked to Adam. I refreshed CNN.com at least a thousand times.
I woke up that morning with a solid understanding of how the world worked. And every time I got a new piece of news that day, I thought, oh. Okay. This is how it is now. It’s terrorists. Okay. Thousands of people are dead. Okay. The Pentagon, too. Okay. And nobody could tell me when it was going to be over, and when I could stop saying okay and start becoming accustomed to this new world with its new rules. I spent the day waiting for the other shoe to drop, and then the other, and then the other. I had no idea when it was going to stop, so I kept waiting.
11 years later, I’m still waiting. I kind of feel like I’m constantly steeling myself. Waiting for the next thing. Every piece of bad news, I just add to that ever-shifting world view. The one in which there aren’t any rules, and anything could happen. I hope it was the worst day of my life, but I’m ready for it not to be. It’s a shitty way to come of age. There’s no forgetting. I’ve never voted in an election that wasn’t colored by that day. Every time US soldiers die overseas, I scan the names online because I have friends out there. I used to sleep on planes, but I don’t now.
I went to a memorial on the first anniversary, where they showed a documentary special. I saw for the first time a lot of the news footage everyone else had watched for weeks after it happened. I didn’t watch it all. It was too soon. 11 years later, it’s still too soon. I’m pretty sure that means it will never not be too soon. So yeah. I didn’t watch a TV special today, or attend a memorial, or read articles online. I didn’t spend the day in service to my community. I should have. I know that. I’m really good at avoidance. This year, I wrote all these words down. Give me another 11 years, and maybe I’ll do better. In the meantime, I promise you, there is no possible way I could ever forget.
There’s not much I hate more than having to ask people for money. It’s always awkward for everyone involved. The person asking feels embarrassed and nervous. The person being asked feels put on the the spot. That’s the single greatest benefit I can see of being crazy rich: you don’t have to ask people for money anymore. You do what you want.
As it turns out, I’m not crazy rich. And I’ve been in a ridiculous number of situations in which I’ve had to ask people for money. Some of these situations have been totally worth it; the vast majority, however, have not. I give you:
A Sampling of Situations in Which I Have Had to Ask People for Money and the Ensuing Awkwardness:
The point of all of this, is that I hate asking people for money. It’s the worst. And I’m sure you’ve heard by now that I have a Kickstarter, in which I am voluntarily putting myself through the misery of asking people for money every day for 30 days. I feel like this deserves an explanation, so here it is:
I believe you should make the art you want to see in the world. I’m not a fan of complainers who don’t bother helping to create. You don’t like all the inane shows on television? Then make a better one. And I don’t mean write a script and hire actors and buy a camera - although, if that’s your dream, then go for it - I mean do what YOU can do to make that happen. Watch the good shows. Talk about the good shows. Throw a fit when they fire Dan Harmon. And put your money where your mouth is. When you see someone working to make something you’d like to watch, and they ask you for a few bucks, throw them a few bucks. I’ve done it, and I’ve never missed that $5 bill.
A very smart lady once told me, “You’ll never regret the money you spend on art or books.” Clearly, this was before Fifty Shades of Grey happened to us. But I think she was mostly right. It’s a gift to live in a place and time that we can create art that makes us laugh and think and talk and argue. And I will never regret cutting back on my Starbucks spending for a few days in order help make that art happen.
Yes, I have a Kickstarter. I’m asking you to give me some money. If you click on the link, and watch the trailer we’ve created, and think “This is the absolute worst thing I have ever watched, oh god, my eyes, MY EYES” - don’t give us any money. I mean, SERIOUSLY - don’t give us any money. We’re clearly doing something wrong, and should come up with a better idea. We can handle it. But if you click on that and think “Hey, that wasn’t half bad, I wouldn’t mind watching that film” - throw us a few bucks. We’ll do everything in our power to make something worth watching. Because, honestly, there’s no way in hell I would go through the torture of asking all of you for money if I wasn’t desperately trying to create the art that I want to see in the world.
Thanks, and here’s the link:
Okay, you guys. It’s time to talk mommy porn. (Mom, I’m sorry for using that phrase, but I didn’t make it up.) In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so, allow me to explain.
There’s a book called Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s written by a British woman named Erika Leonard, whose pen name is E. L. James. I don’t see the point in a pen name if you tell everyone your real name, but whatever. Least of my concerns. The book was originally fan fiction based on the characters of Bella and Edward from the Twilight series. At that point, the author’s pen name was Snowqueens Icedragon. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP. Bear with me. (Almost wrote bare with me. Should have. Tasteless puns are what this book deserves.)
Fifty Shades of Grey is the first in a trilogy, which has sold more than 3 million copies worldwide, mostly to middle-aged moms (if the media coverage is to be believed.) As it is an erotic novel, someone dubbed it “mommy porn,” and then people couldn’t stop saying mommy porn and suddenly everyone in the country has heard/used the phrase mommy porn. This has effectively ruined both the words mommy and porn for everyone, everywhere.
I read the mommy porn. Don’t ask why, and also stop judging me. But I did. And I did it so that you don’t have to. You’re welcome. But now you have to deal with the fallout, which is that I have so many issues with this book that have been bottled up inside for days now, and I have to let it out. This is going to be intense, so if at any time it’s too much for you, please remember that the safe word is popsicle.
Some of My Issues With Fifty Shades of Grey but not All of Them Because I Have Fifty Shades of Issues With It and it Would Take Years of Therapy to Explore Them All:
Okay. I feel better about all of this. Just getting it off my chest is good. I would feel bad about the spoilers, but I don’t think you can technically spoil something that was bad to begin with. If this blog post prevents even one person from spending $10 on this book, I’ve done my job. The bottom line is that the extreme sex is probably the most realistic part of Fifty Shades of Grey. Ms. Icedragon has said it’s just all her sexual fantasies, put to paper. I bet her kids are mortified. And I hope someone teaches them about email.