Writing Free

Because a writer who doesn't write isn't worth the shit he takes at his day job.

#Forward

Closure is a personal quest. It doesn’t require someone else’s consent or blessing. It doesn’t even require someone else’s acknowledgement or awareness. The lingering feelings — be they fear, resentment, guilt, shame, or, worst of all, longing — exist in your mind. You twist and wring them out of your own thoughts and let them hang like a haze, preventing you from seeing your memories as they actually are.

Yet you don’t need anyone else’s permission to wipe that fog away and clear your own head. The only things you need are a willingness to let go and a desire to move forward.

Then it’s only a matter of when. In the future, when you look back on those periods of time that you spent dwelling and sulking and wishing, the only thing you’ll think is that it was too long. And you will be right. It doesn’t matter if it was a day, a year, or a lifetime. It’ll have been too long, and the next paragraph in your life story will begin with that time’s end.

Consider this the last page of an epilogue that dragged on much longer than it should have. Now it’s way past time, but never too late, to put my head down and get back on that grind.

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I am definitely doing this wrong.

I’m currently in my ninth month of unemployment. It is even more depressing than that sounds.

Today I was going through my usual rounds of applying to jobs and found one where the assistant I needed to contact had her actual email in the job posting. I immediately looked her up on Facebook to see if we had any mutual friends, as passing my resume through one was always more successful than passing it directly to a stranger.

As it turned out, we did have mutual friends. In fact, she went to my same college. She started as a freshman in the same year that I fucking graduated.

I had always known that I was emailing assistants much younger than I was, since I spent five years in DC before deciding to change my career and move out to LA, whereas most of them came straight out of college. It was a fact that I thought I had accepted. This was my new life. These were my new colleagues. They happened to be mostly 5-10 years younger than I am. Okay, no big deal.

However, it’s a completely different perspective when they’re connected to my past life. I had classmates below me who had younger high school siblings that I met when they visited campus, and this girl went to school with those siblings. Now I’m begging this girl to consider me for a pitiful $30,000 a year job. A job that actually takes me further away from being a writer, which was why I came out to LA in the first place.

The most pathetic part? She won’t even consider me. She doesn’t know me, so I’ll just be another unread resume in her inbox.

Whatever the fuck I’ve been doing these last five years in LA, it’s all been wrong. I walked the wrong paths. I made the wrong choices. I listened to the wrong people and tuned out the right ones.

As former stockbroker and convicted felon Jordan Belfort would tell you, this is when you need to have a clear vision of what you want. If where I am isn’t where I want to be, and it’s not taking me to where I want to go, then what the fuck am I doing here?

I’m out.

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This post is garbage.

I’m always drinking Jameson these days. It’s become my drink of choice now that I’ve hit an age where I need a stiff drink straight up just to get through certain days.

Why Jameson? Because once upon a time, when I still needed a fake ID even to get a drink, I sat down at a bar with a cute girl who told me to get rid of my damn mojito and drink Jameson like real men do. It took many years before I started doing that regularly, but, when I did, the piece of that memory that remained tagged in my mind presented itself. I wasn’t thinking of that night or that girl, but the word “Jameson” flashed across my consciousness. That’s what I ordered, and that’s what I’m still drinking now.

So I chose my drink of choice based off one moment eleven years ago that I shared with some chick who never returned any of my calls.

Honestly, this stuff tastes like shit. I’m buying a bottle of Maker’s next time.

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The Antagonist

A girl like that doesn’t belong in your life. She belongs in literature.

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Your Family: Past, Present, and Future - Wait But Why

I love this blog because it always puts things in perspective.

Consider this: you have two biological parents. You have four biological grandparents. Eight biological great-grandparents. Go back six generations, and you have 128 great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.*

Assuming the average generation is 25-30 years, that means in the early 1800s, there were 128 people around your age going about their lives somewhere in the world. That’s 128 sets of hopes and dreams and fears and desires. 128 sets of problems and responsibilities. 128 people going places and doing things, and they all had at least one thing in common.

If any one of those 128 people didn’t fuck somebody, you would not exist today.

Moral: Go have some unprotected sex. Somebody’s life depends on it.

*If you were born somewhere like West Virginia, this number will be smaller. Maybe much smaller.

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Control

Once upon a time, there was a ruler who presided over a land and all the people in it. This ruler set laws for the people in his land to follow. He did not justify or explain his laws; he simply ordered the people to follow them without question. The punishment for breaking his laws was death.

Then, one day, a maverick in this land gave the people a choice. Instead of merely accepting the ruler’s laws, the maverick offered the people the ability to think freely and educate themselves. They could learn, make decisions, reach conclusions, and develop their own sense of right and wrong.

The people accepted the maverick’s offer and, for the first time ever, started thinking on their own. When the ruler discovered what they had done, he exiled not just the people but everyone and everything from this land and sentenced them all to die.

Now I ask you: in this story, who is the villain? The maverick, the people, or the ruler?

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wait but why: Putting Time In Perspective

Three things about these timelines that blew my mind:

1. If you are 75 years old or older, your birth date is closer to the day that Lincoln was assassinated than it is to today.

2. A tyrannosaurus existed closer in time to a living Justin Bieber than to a living stegosaurus.

3. As the sun expands, it will eventually make Earth inhospitable for life, but what if its changing proximity and luminosity to planets further away gradually makes each of them hospitable for life? What if each planet got its own “time in the sun,” but the time spans of intelligent life on each planet is so relatively short that we never overlap long enough to discover each other?

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There are many who will tell you that there can be no pleasure without pain, but acknowledging that pithy fact will only get you halfway to your goals.

To truly achieve success beyond what your capabilities should allow you to achieve, you must embrace a mantra that is far more spartan:

The pain is the pleasure.

The work is the art.

The journey is the destination.

The suffering is the reward.

To paraphrase a quote from (stay with me here) Evan Almighty: When you pray for strength, do you think God just gives you strength, or do you think He gives you the opportunity to become stronger?

Yet your success isn’t just based on whether you seize your opportunities but how you choose to take advantage of them. Are you going through the motions and hoping to get something out of it, or are you embracing them and actively transforming yourself into something better?

There are many who will tell you that there can be no pleasure without pain, but acknowledging that pithy fact will only get you halfway to your goals.

To truly achieve success beyond what your capabilities should allow you to achieve, you must embrace a mantra that is far more spartan:

The pain is the pleasure.

The work is the art.

The journey is the destination.

The suffering is the reward.

To paraphrase a quote from (stay with me here) Evan Almighty: When you pray for strength, do you think God just gives you strength, or do you think He gives you the opportunity to become stronger?

Yet your success isn’t just based on whether you seize your opportunities but how you choose to take advantage of them. Are you going through the motions and hoping to get something out of it, or are you embracing them and actively transforming yourself into something better?

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That Time I Beat Timber in a Footrace

Timber is a pomeranian-poodle that belongs to my ex-girlfriend, and all his life he’s been fast.

The first time we let him out onto an open baseball field, he was still a tiny puppy with stubby puppy limbs who loved to chase you if you ran away from him. I let him off his leash, took off running and turned around to see how far back he was. He wasn’t. He was right next to me, keeping pace even as a puppy.

As Timber grew up, he turned into a gangly beast with long legs that could sprint much faster than before. He got to the point where he could accelerate and turn more quickly than virtually every dog at any dog park. I had no hope of keeping up anymore.

I was not okay with this.

One night, like many nights, I came home very drunk and took Timber out for his night-time walk. When I brought him back inside to the hallway leading to my apartment, I decided he was acting a little cocky that night.

"You know what?" my inebriated brain slurred to itself. "I’m gonna race him."

We were at the back end of the hallway, about 100 feet from my apartment door, which was directly at the front end. I looked down at Timber, gave him a look I imagined was exactly like Vin Diesel in any Fast & Furious movie, and took off.

I was pumping all my muscles as hard and fast as I could. I looked down next to me. There he was: prancing along effortlessly, looking up at me with his tongue wagging out, thinking this was such a fun little game.

This was not a game.

I pushed even harder. My arms flailed back and forth. My legs crushed the floor underneath me. I was a gazelle. I was Usain Bolt. Timber was slowing down. I was going to win!

WHAM!

First my face hit the door, and then my ass hit the floor. I sat there for a few moments. Between the alcohol I’d been drinking all night and the shock of smashing my face into a wooden door, my brain was taking longer than usual to process what had just happened.

My ex-girlfriend came out and saw me sitting on the floor. “What’s going on?” she asked.

I looked up at her and said, “I beat him.”

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The Dos and Don’ts for Messaging Women on Online Dating Apps: Why You Should Delete Your Essay and Just Ask About Her Cat Instead

I had to come up with a couple writing samples to apply for a copywriting job that I’m pretty sure is direct marketing penis pills to guys over the Internet. One of the prompts was to write a dating tip for men. This is what I submitted:

There she is: the woman of your dreams. A beautiful smile, awesome body, great sense of humor—and that’s all just from one profile picture. Welcome to online dating, or as many of us living in 2013 call it: dating.

Yet this new medium for dating comes with new rules for flirting as well. There’s more strategy to it than throwing back two shots of tequila, sidling next to a woman and making up some story about a catfight outside the bar.

For men new to online dating, it’s easy for to be confused and start treating your messages like an email to your buddies or—worse—your co-workers. Here are some quick beginner’s dos and don’ts for guys messaging women on dating sites:

DO send messages to many, many women. Online dating for men looking for women is a numbers game. Women who actively use online dating sites are inundated with messages daily. And if she’s hot? Take that times ten. Yes, you want your message to be that amazing one that stands out above all the others. But if it doesn’t, then you want to have 8-10 more chances. If she’s good enough to consider, she’s good enough to message. In fact—

DON’T add women to your “Favorites.” Just message them! Favoriting your choices is an easy way to build up a backlog of women that you will never contact. Just take the plunge. Now what should you say?

DO be funny. If your message makes her laugh (intentionally, not at you), then you’ve won.

DO say something relevant to her profile. Find a common interest, a funny picture, a place she’s been that you’d love to visit, anything that stands out to you and ask her about it. At the very least, prove to her that you did more than look at her pictures and decide to message her because she’s hot. In fact—

DON’T tell her she’s hot. She knows you think she’s hot. You messaged her. Give her a specific compliment. Tell her you love her sense of fashion. Tell her that her hair reminds you of the girl from Tangled. Tell her you want to wash your shirts on her rock-hard abs. Just don’t tell her, “Wow, you are so beautiful!!!”

DO ask a question in every message. Do you expect her to analyze what you just said and come up with questions for you? She’s not your therapist. Give her something to which to reply. And don’t make your question a Yes/No one. You’re likely to get back just a “Yes” or a “No.”

DON’T use a template. Women who’ve been online dating for a while can tell right away when a guy is sending her the same message that he’s sent dozens of other women. When thinking about what works online, it sometimes helps to imagine it as if you were approaching this woman at a bar. If she knows you’re going down the bar using the same opening line on every woman, she’ll know there’s no special reason you approached her other than that she happened to be there. Come up with something original.

DON’T tell her your life story in your first message. Going back to the bar analogy, would you ever go up to a woman and prattle off all the places you lived as a child, your college highlights, your career arc and every city to which you’ve ever traveled without letting her get a word in? She would walk away in under two minutes, and her online counterpart wouldn’t make it through your second paragraph. In fact, unless your name is David Sedaris—and I know it’s not because he’s not cruising for chicks, don’t write anything long enough to qualify as an essay.

DON’T just say “Hi.” This is the opposite problem, and it is something that will work at a bar but won’t work as well online. Hi. How are you? What’s up? You have an entire profile of information and plenty of time to think up of something interesting to say, and all you came up with was “Hi?” Even if you’re on an app like Tinder with just photos and virtually no information, you can and should do better. “Hi” is for guys who look like Ryan Gosling holding an adorable puppy. Do you look like Ryan Gosling holding an adorable puppy? Then try harder.

DO sell yourself. Even if she read all 150 of your favorite movies, books and bands that you listed on your profile (spoiler alert: she didn’t), match up your interests to hers. Don’t just tell her why you find her interesting. Explain why she’d find you interesting. This is a pitch. Assume she hears dozens per day. Make it easy for her to have a reason to reply to yours.

DO have substance in your messages, but keep them brief initially. Give her a chance to get to know and like you, and then allow your messages to get longer. Hopefully in person over drinks. However—

DON’T ask her out in your first message. Yes, this will totally work sometimes, but you have a much better chance if you give yourselves a chance to build a rapport first. But as soon as you have a good rapport—

DO ask her out. That’s the point isn’t it? Unless you’re looking for a penpal.

Most importantly, though –

DON’T send her a picture of your penis. Ever. EVER.

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The ghosts of your past do not haunt you. You drag them behind you, bound by chains of guilt and regret that you yourself have crafted. If you took the time to pause and inspect each of your bonds, you’ll notice many of them no longer hold their specters at all. Even they have moved on and found new life without you. The only burdens that remain are the devices that you built to carry them.

Break the chains. Free yourself.

The ghosts of your past do not haunt you. You drag them behind you, bound by chains of guilt and regret that you yourself have crafted. If you took the time to pause and inspect each of your bonds, you’ll notice many of them no longer hold their specters at all. Even they have moved on and found new life without you. The only burdens that remain are the devices that you built to carry them.

Break the chains. Free yourself.

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Then the young girl cried, “I don’t want a vacuum! I’m gonna be an astronaut!” And she flew away in her imaginary spaceship, while her mother left the precarious toy where it lay.

Then the young girl cried, “I don’t want a vacuum! I’m gonna be an astronaut!” And she flew away in her imaginary spaceship, while her mother left the precarious toy where it lay.

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The crushing weight of responsibilities.

Every time I see this postsecret card, I think the person who wrote it must feel so…

liberated.

The crushing weight of responsibilities.

Every time I see this postsecret card, I think the person who wrote it must feel so…

liberated.

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In 2006, I tried to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with a friend. On the last day up, about 1.5 hours from the peak, I vomited and passed out. I was nauseous, freezing and exhausted. It felt like the worst hangover of my life. I didn’t want to go up. I didn’t want to go down. I just wanted to die, so I wouldn’t have to move anymore.

I didn’t, obviously. Our guide picked my useless ass up and helped me stumble, fall and vomit my way back to the nearest hut in front of the hundreds of people summiting the mountain that day, most of whom did reach the peak along with my friend.

I failed. I failed spectacularly, I failed horrifically, I failed to the point that I wanted to die. But I didn’t die, and now I know: that won’t kill me. And as the cliché goes, it makes me stronger.

In 2006, I tried to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with a friend. On the last day up, about 1.5 hours from the peak, I vomited and passed out. I was nauseous, freezing and exhausted. It felt like the worst hangover of my life. I didn’t want to go up. I didn’t want to go down. I just wanted to die, so I wouldn’t have to move anymore.

I didn’t, obviously. Our guide picked my useless ass up and helped me stumble, fall and vomit my way back to the nearest hut in front of the hundreds of people summiting the mountain that day, most of whom did reach the peak along with my friend.

I failed. I failed spectacularly, I failed horrifically, I failed to the point that I wanted to die. But I didn’t die, and now I know: that won’t kill me. And as the cliché goes, it makes me stronger.

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What kind of a peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace – the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living – the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children – not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.

Examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable – that mankind is doomed – that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made – therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable – and we believe they can do it again.

#JFK (at Pico-Robertson)

What kind of a peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace – the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living – the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children – not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women – not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.

Examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable – that mankind is doomed – that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made – therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable – and we believe they can do it again.

#JFK (at Pico-Robertson)

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