Thursday, December 26, 2013



--IT'S STARTING TO GET HAZY OVER HERE


"People call me an optimist, but I'm really an appreciator....When I was six years old and had scarlet fever, the first of the miracle drugs, sulfanilamide, saved my life. I'm grateful for computers and photocopiers...I appreciate where we've come from." Julian Simon

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do." Helen Keller

"The last thing we learn is our effect on other people." George Elliot

"The real measure of your wealth is how much you'd be worth if you lost all your money." Bernard Meltzer

"You will never find the best when you are always looking for the worst." Jeffery Benjamin

U.G.L.Y: U gotta love yourself.

"Just because we don’t talk, doesn’t mean I don’t think about you. I’m just trying to distance myself because I know I can’t have you." Wiz Kalifa

"Your girlfriend wants me in her mouth like I’m her dentist." Wiz Kalifa

"Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes." Ghandi
"When you are happy, you can forgive a great deal." Princess Diana

-"Ever notice how ‘What the hell’ is always the right answer?"
-"Creativity has got to start with humanity and when you’re a human being, you feel, you suffer."
-"I don’t want to make money. I just want to be wonderful."
-"A career is wonderful thing, but you can’t snuggle up to it on a cold night."
-"Most importantly, keep smiling. Because life is a beautiful thing, and there’s so much to smile about."
-"It’s not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on."
-"Imperfection is beauty. Madness is genius. It is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring."
-"Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss, and fifty cents for your soul."
-"It’s often just enough to be with someone. I don’t need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You’re not alone."
-"To all the girls that think you’re fat because you’re not a size zero, you’re the beautiful one, its society who’s ugly."
-"The real lover is the man who can thrill you by kissing your forehead or smiling into your eyes or just staring into space."
-"I’ve often stood silent at a party for hours listening to my movie idols turn into dull and little people."
"Suicide is a person’s privilege. I don’t believe it’s a sin or a crime. --"It’s your right if you want to, though it doesn’t get you anywhere."
-"Beneath the make-up and behind the smile, I’m just a girl who wishes for the world."
-"The truth is I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t. When they found this out, they would blame me for disillusioning them and fooling them."
-"Please don’t make me a joke. End the interview with what I believe. I don’t mind making jokes, but I don’t want to look like one… I want to be an artist, an actress with integrity… If fame goes by, so long, I’ve had you, fame. If it goes by, I’ve always known it was fickle. So at least it’s something I experienced, but that’s not where I live."
-"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so you can appreciate them when they’re right. You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself. And sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."
-"I’m selfish, impatient, and insecure. I make mistakes. I am out of control and at times, hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you don’t deserve me at my best."
-"Sex is part of nature. I go along with nature."
-"People respect you because they feel you’ve survived hard times and endured and although you’ve become famous, you haven’t become phony.
-"I restore myself when I’m alone."

-"Men who think that a woman’s past love affairs lessen her love for them are usually stupid and weak. A woman can bring a new love to each man she loves, providing there are not too many."--Marilyn Monroe

Monday, December 23, 2013




--TROUBLE WILL FIND ME


…We’re getting closer to Christmas all the time.  I hope things are too hectic for you.
…These were some interesting and/or funny things my Facebook friends had to say last week:

-Dear Universe,
Please stop fucking with me. I'm weak and tired and will hate Christmas forever if you keep it up.
Your Sentient Being,

-I want to be serious and use Facebook to reflect my serious existence and make serious updates but then people get mad and yell at you because they can't see your face or feel empathy for you and everyone on the Internet disagrees so I guess I'll just post about my cats and things.

-You know those people who love to give parenting advice--who don't even have kids, or a cat, and have likely never even raised a plant to maturity--I'd like them all to have their tongues stapled to their cheeks. And I don't even think that's a violent response or bad role modeling on my part, so there.

-my future life goals involve cake and whiskey.

-I just had my first acid flashback. I was listening to Sugaree and all of a sudden I saw the walls flicker like a candle and the floor smelled like a sad tree and I really really felt like I needed to find a bathroom, the same way I used to feel after shitty parking lot LSD at Dead shows. It was horrible. No wonder I quit being a hippie.

-Okay, so I'm on a roll. In the past 24 hours I've been approached by security at the Mall (they went away when I said I was waiting for my daughter and pointed her out), I've been proselytized by two Mormon sisters while trying to buy donuts at a Dunkin's (they were out of all donuts, WTF?), somebody hit the parked van leaving a black streak on the rear bumper to match the black streak somebody left on the front bumper last month, now the overzealous fraud protection folks at #$@%*#( credit card company have denied my last three Xmas gift purchases without telling me until now, which required an hour on the phone to solve, which failed, which was finally solved on internet chat. Did I mention both of my girls are home sick? I wanna be sedated.

-some days, you sit down at your stupid desk job and stare at an excel spreadsheet full of bullshit and want to die and then you remember someone you really love sent you an amazing essay that you can't wait to publish and it makes you want to write again and you can't stop thinking about gems because the essay is like a gem and it's like fuck this excel spreadsheet, fuck this job, fuck everything that isn't that essay, fuck everything that's not a gem.
Goddamn it. I swear, any show that introduces a dog solely to have them die needs some kind of warning. After all, they do have a warning for sexual content, which is considerably less upsetting.


-I tried smoking crack today.

Friday, December 20, 2013



--MAYBE YOU SHOULD APPROACH ME SIDEWAYS


…I went to a Christmas party in Seattle last night, which was a lot of fun, but man oh man was it cold this morning.
When I got home I found out I had these poems accepted and published in Colours Journal:


                                                                  The Missing
                        I heard the bullet hiss through the black-holed night.  I watched the drugstore window shatter, the clerk’s pistol smoking as you slumped like rags.
            It was supposed to be easy money but we never figured on Eddy turning.
Now time is nothing is everything is too much balloon skin, stretching and contracting like a rubber sack that holds me captive. 
I lean against an object, never a person.  You would have bought me pretty things with lace, new dolls, a porch swing.
I’ve kept your remnants—Sex Pistols sweatshirt, your Kerouac book, a skeleton key.  But the bullet, that is the piece of you I covet most.


                                                               Written By
            For Christmas I am given a tool set.  Unwrapped, it consumes the kitchen table.  My typewriter sets on the linoleum floor, a heap of springs and metal.  Mother watches Father who picks bacon from his teeth and tells me, “Go ahead, I want to see this.  Fix the thing.”



There is a Mark


Cops and reporters came
with their carnival barker noise,
nighttime lit up like the Fourth
by sirens and generators.

For a while this was the place to be,
last stop at the end of the world,
gangs getting even,
bludgeoning a little girl.

Now all that’s here is a mark,
a wine stained-Venezuela.
Some days I pull out the book she gave me, bloated thick from the rain.
If I could read it, I would.
But I never cry and I don’t sweat anymore because
my blood is made of concrete
and my dreams are steel.


Downs

Cat sweaters and puppet clothes lay on the floor by your sister’s doll house,
small as quilt squares.
The naked Barbies wait to be dressed
and Ken is blind or bored
but your sister is rocking and slapping herself convulsing.
You take her hand away the same as removing a strand of hair.
You hold her palm, tell a joke and there in the laughter
I find a resemblance,
how her mongoloid eyes are lit with your same sense of wonder.

In the doorway saying goodbye,
sideways rain pimples your cheek,
sounding tinny on the gutters,
and you ask,
“What?  What are you smiling about?”


  
Teenage Summer


The good thief watches while
we soak in a night-blackened sea of shimmering oil,
water that makes us weightless
even as you kick and paddle.
We’ll be old soon enough.
Now the stars urge us to write songs or
yodel so that our laughter rifles through the sky.
The waves rock us like babies.
They slurp across our slick skins
and beckon us to kiss,
kiss deep and long
as lovers do.




Wednesday, December 18, 2013



--I CAN SEE YOU HANGING BY YOUR WINDOW


                                                            A Fair Exchange

To make it work, she borrowed babies, blue ones with bloated cheeks and the rheumy eyes of old men.  In the dressing rooms she crawled beneath the stall slits while customers examined themselves in mirrors, verbose salesclerks lurching over shoulders like bleach-blonde jack o’ lanterns.
The junk people carried around astonished her.  She'd been taught to ignore it, just grab cash, but still their oddity had a perverse attraction, like the strong pull of pornography, and so she kept some items: a gold-plated nail file, an old-fashioned opal broach with a rusted clip, day glow condoms, a paring knife, one lone shotgun shell.
She always brought the babies back by dusk.  The exchange was not dissimilar to summers when she'd unload gunny sacks of potatoes from her Uncle Ernie's truck.  Uncle Ernie with his Polish jokes, his ratchet laugh and carrot-thick fingers busy up inside her.
Now, one of the infants follows her movements as if it wants to be hypnotized. 
"He likes you," the mother or relative or whomever says.
The other babies blink and bawl at the sound of an adult voice somewhat happy.  
“He don’t like me,” she says, angry now.  “He’s starving.  Don’t you ever feed these kids?”
The babies go still.

She takes the baggy filled with bindles.  She can’t tell by their weight if it's a fair exchange.  Later when it's cooked up and boiling in her veins, she'll know for sure.

Monday, December 16, 2013



--THE MOON KEEPS WALKING AWAY FROM US


…It’s freezing outside this morning; 31 degrees.  Ducks and geese really like cold water because there are a few dozen of them floating outside on the lake, some of the ducks diving below the surface for several minutes.  Me, I’m not a fan of cold weather or cold water.

…But I am a fan of these things to start a new week:

"Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend's success." Oscar Wilde

"All I would tell people is to hold onto what was individual about themselves, not to allow their ambition for success to cause them to try to imitate the success of others.  You've got to find it on your own terms." Harrison Ford

"He liked to like people, therefore people liked him." Mark Twain

“That's what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” Simone de Beauvoir

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing.  That’s why we recommend it daily. –Zig Ziglar

If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. –Vincent Van Gogh

There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. –Aristotle

"To write, a person has to take off their coat, shirt and skin." Dan Pence

"If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood.  I'd type a little faster." Isaac Azimov

"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection." Thomas Paine

"My idea of the modern stoic sage is someone who transforms fear into prudence, pain into information, mistakes into initiation, and desire into undertaking." Nassim Taleb

"You're first sentence makes a promise that the rest of the story must keep." Barbara Kingsolver

"If you are patient in one moment of anger you will save a thousand days of sorrow."

“Good days, they come around the oddest corners.” Colum McCann, “Let The Great World Spin

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." Einstein

"No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true."  Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill

"Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the common place, the slaves of the ordinary." Cecil Beaton


Saturday, December 14, 2013



--I AM A TUNNEL THAT SMALL BIRDS RUN FROM


                   Acts of Love   

            The sky cracks open, sooty and loud and wet.  Marty, our wiener dog, goes nuts, spins in circles and the only means of stopping him is to tackle the critter and hold him tight, like a vest bomb. 
“You’ll crush him that way,” my wife says.  Marty is panting and his moist black eyes bug out, but then, I tell myself, they’re always bulging.
            We’re supposed to be talking about us.  That was the plan before so much thunder and lightning ripped through our spackled city.
            I got my wife this condo because she wanted a place with lots of windows.  She claimed she had nothing to hide.  Now, there’s violence outside every pane.
            When I ask if she wants to start first, she counters by saying, “I thought men didn’t like to share their feelings?”
            “I guess I’m different.”
            “I guess you are,” my wife says.
            A twisted branch of lightning strikes the window, glowing radioactive through a sheer blind.  I remember my wife’s negligee being that see-through, the outfit she wore a few months after our honeymoon when she said she’d be sure to keep things interesting, when she promised we’d never grow bored.
            Glass clanks over at the cupboard above the sink.  My wife’s become an efficient drinker, takes her scotch neat, no ice.  Only needs a tumbler.  If I weren’t around, she might not even use that.
            Marty’s gum-colored tongue laps my chin.  It’s like that time a friend sent me a YouTube video of a beheading overseas, and an anxious wave of nausea rippled through my gut and I spewed a wild, toxic stream but had the wits to turn the video off and hit delete before the sword was lifted.
            She raises her glass to her chin and it seems I can see vapors like heat shimmers from the pavement misting her skin, but that’s impossible and I know it’s just the effects of nervousness I’m feeling, that and this rattling storm.
            I can hear the choppy gulps as she swallows even though she’s trying to be subtle and make herself out to be a judicious drinker.  I could point out that it’s only 11 am on a Saturday morning, but I don’t.  Push my wife just a little, and she becomes a runaway.
            “Okay,” she says, slumping down in the egg-shaped chair opposite me, “what do you want to know?”
            It’s a gut punch to find us here, in this gutter, playing games after so many years.
            “Maybe you could start by telling me when you first fell in love with him.”
            She snorts a twig of laughter through her nose.  “Don’t be an idiot,” she says.  “It was an affair.  I’ve never loved him.”
            Lightning nests my wife’s hair in the window, forming an electrified crown of thorns.  Wind smears the glass with rain tears.  “If you want to end it,” my wife tells me, “just say so.”
            Now who’s being an idiot?  Everything I am and everything I’ve ever cared about is stitched into that woman, and I knew from the beginning that I’d have to teach her how to love completely and selflessly.  I knew there’d be crashes and destruction.
            She flaps her hand.  “You can keep Marty,” she says.  She lets the last topaz pearl splash onto her tongue.  “I think I’m becoming allergic anyway.”
            I lean forward.  I take in oxygen so it falls all the way in. 
I tell her she’s a coward.  I say my words softly, without nuance or inflection.  I tell her she always wants the painless route out.  I say, “If you think I’m letting you off this easy, you’ve got another thing coming.”
            She’s up and across the room in a flash.  I hear the drawers screeching open, clothes hangers clanging off a metal rod as she packs.
            I put Marty in the closet and lock the door because he’s seen enough.

            Under the sink, by the cleaning solvents is where I put the rope and duct tape and Taser I bought for this occasion.  I know I’m about to cross a line, yet I tell myself it’s worth it, that this is unavoidable, just another act of love, necessary but not at all desperate.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013



--I'M TOO LOW FOR ZERO


…Here we are in the middle of the week and it’s freezing out.  Hope you’re staying warm and being productive, if in fact, you want to be.

…Yesterday a story I wrote the day before got erased from my computer.  That sucks.  I didn’t have a title for the piece, therefore didn’t save it, and thus it is a goner.  At least I didn’t like the story a whole lot.

…These are some things I like on a Wednesday:

“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.” Maya Angelou

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” Henry David Thoreau

"The self is not something that one finds. It is something that one creates." Thomas Szasz

"You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you." Dale Carnegie

"Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstances." Bruce Jones

"Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." Elizabeth Stone


"Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles." Helen Keller

"Live as you will wish to have lived when you are dying." Christian Furchtegott Gellert

"Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." William Jennings Bryan


“Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Desmond Tutu

Monday, December 9, 2013



--I GO TO A RUINED PLACE MOST EVERY DAY


      Tight Rope

            I had never picked up a hitchhiker, let alone a pregnant one, and now as we drive outside of the Seattle city limits with the Olympics fading fast over my shoulder, she opens the glove compartment, rooting around with a familiarity that’s both startling and alluring.
            “Hey, what’s this?  You pack a gun?  I didn’t take you for the type.”
            It was actually my father’s pistol.  Dad was always trying to make me more masculine.  He bought me work boots and toolsets even though I am a law clerk and write poetry.
            “You probably shouldn’t play around with that,” I say.
            “You’re kind of a nervous nelly, aren’t you?”
            My fiancĂ© had just called off our engagement.  She claimed I had no pluck.  I had to look up the word, but after I had, I realized she was likely correct.
            This girl, the pregnant one, is maybe twenty.  Maybe.  She wears a plaid shirt unbuttoned too far and she might be wearing a bra but I can’t see anything except skin and valleys, shadows and curves.  Her eyes go wider when she spots me staring.
            “Might want to stay focused on the road there, chief.”
            I have four sisters, tomboys all of them.  I was the youngest, Dad’s only boy.  But we all knew I was a disappointment from the get-go.  Even now, Mother is convinced I’m gay.
            “Seriously, you should put that pistol back.”
            “Pistol.  I like that word.”
            “Yeah, why’s that.”
            “Pistil, stamen.  Like biology.  Like sex.”
            I swallow, louder than I want.
            “You ever do it in a moving car?”
            A croak jumps out of my throat.  “That would be extremely usafe.”
            “Don’t you ever do anything dangerous, hmm?  You ever lived on the edge?  Even close to it?”
            I want to tell her a fantastic story about me being daring, and borderless but I can’t think of one.  “I used to skinny dip in the neighbor’s pool.”
            “But I’ll bet it was only at night.  And you were alone.  And you probably only did it once, and not for more than a couple of minutes.”
            Had she been there, seen me?
            She drags the snout of the gun between her cleavage, rubbing up and down, doing it slow, in jerky spasmodic movements.  Her breathing has changed, gone deep now, gotten spicy.
            I switch the heater to AC.
            “How far along are you?” I ask just to have something to say.  My mouth is so dry the words feel like hair balls.
            She smooths the gun chamber across her belly, sighing a little.  “Seven months.”
            “Seven?”
            She nods, her eyes glassy, her mouth parted, lips glossy with sticky saliva webbed like a tightrope between the upper and lower one.
            “I think you’re really handsome.  Hot.”
            “No you don’t.”
            She nods again and the web of saliva pops in two.  “I want to have sex with you.”
            “Are you nuts?”
            “You’re driving me crazy.”
            “I just picked you up.  Ten minutes ago.”
            “I know.  That’s the nutty part about it.”
            It is hard to breathe.  The air’s too thick, as if it’s filled with sawdust or gnats.
            She licks the rim of the gun barrel, her tongue a slithering white worm.
            “Please don’t do that.”
            “You want me to stop?”
            “Yes.”
            “You do?”
            “I’m trying to drive a motor vehicle.”
            She looks down at my lap.  “That’s not all you’re doing.”
            My eyes start to water.  I hold my breath down the same way you drown someone in a shallow pool.  I’m afraid that I might combust.  My knees knock against the instrument console.  My jaw is flexed so tight I can feel one of my molars is cricking.
            When I look over, I see that she has half the gun inside her mouth, simulating a motion I’ve seen in films.  Or maybe she isn’t simulating.  Maybe she’s getting off.
            Yes.
            She says, “Yes.”  He
r voice is hot and high, perfect.
            She says, “Yes,” again.  One hand steers the pistol in and out and in and out of her mouth while the other hand massage her swollen stomach, the a breast, finding a nipple.
            “Holy hell,” I say.
            I am on the summit Snoqualmie Pass, at the section that always gave me the willies because the road runs right to the edge of a sheer overhang, no guard rail in sight.  I’ve been afraid of heights my whole life, even more so after Dad made me go on a hot air balloon with him at age eight, the to the top of The Space Needle where he goaded me into spitting over the edge.
            The girl is in a trance.  Drool spills down the gun metal, glistening on the trigger, pooling in her the crux of her palm, sliding down her wrist like a foamy slug.
            Her eyes inch up, latched onto mine like a pair of bronze manacles.  My legs twitch.  “Do you want me?”
            I do.  I do.  I want her.  I want her desperately.  I tell so.
            She smiles just before swallowing the gun nearly to the very hilt, gagging, then slowly withdraw it.  I’ve seen snake before, eating whole mice.  I’ve seen other things as well.
            “Do you really want me?”
            “I told you I do.”
            “How much do you want me?”
            “Come on, I’m dying here.”
            “How much?”
            “I’d do anything.”
            “Really?”
            “Yes.  Anything.”
            “Prove it.”

            When I look at the instrument panel, I see that I’m pushing ninety.  Out the window the air is vacant except for our vehicle.  I don’t know exactly when I’d driven off the edge of the mountain, but I know that I’m flying now, that there’s no going back, that I’ve finally doing something brave or foolish.

Friday, December 6, 2013



--YOU AND I ARE LIKE CONTROLLED HALLUCINATIONS


…I saw this and thought it was interesting:


The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People
How to succeed at self-sabotage.
November 18, 2013  |  



Most of us claim we want to be happy—to have meaningful lives, enjoy ourselves, experience fulfillment, and share love and friendship with other people and maybe other species, like dogs, cats, birds, and whatnot. Strangely enough, however, some people act as if they just want to be miserable, and they succeed remarkably at inviting misery into their lives, even though they get little apparent benefit from it, since being miserable doesn’t help them find lovers and friends, get better jobs, make more money, or go on more interesting vacations. Why do they do this? After perusing the output of some of the finest brains in the therapy profession, I’ve come to the conclusion that misery is an art form, and the satisfaction people seem to find in it reflects the creative effort required to cultivate it. In other words, when your living conditions are stable, peaceful, and prosperous—no civil wars raging in your streets, no mass hunger, no epidemic disease, no vexation from poverty—making yourself miserable is a craft all its own, requiring imagination, vision, and ingenuity. It can even give life a distinctive meaning.
So if you aspire to make yourself miserable, what are the best, most proven techniques for doing it? Let’s exclude some obvious ways, like doing drugs, committing crimes, gambling, and beating up your spouse or neighbor. Subtler strategies, ones that won’t lead anyone to suspect that you’re acting deliberately, can be highly effective. But you need to pretend that you want to be happy, like everybody else, or people won’t take your misery seriously. The real art is to behave in ways that’ll bring on misery while allowing you to claim that you’re an innocent victim, ideally of the very people from whom you’re forcibly extracting compassion and pity.
Here, I cover most areas of life, such as family, work, friends, and romantic partners. These areas will overlap nicely, since you can’t ruin your life without ruining your marriage and maybe your relationships with your children and friends. It’s inevitable that as you make yourself miserable, you’ll be making those around you miserable also, at least until they leave you—which will give you another reason to feel miserable. So it’s important to keep in mind the benefits you’re accruing in your misery.
• When you’re miserable, people feel sorry for you. Not only that, they often feel obscurely guilty, as if your misery might somehow be their fault. This is good! There’s power in making other people feel guilty. The people who love you and those who depend on you will walk on eggshells to make sure that they don’t say or do anything that will increase your misery.
• When you’re miserable, since you have no hopes and expect nothing good to happen, you can’t be disappointed or disillusioned.
• Being miserable can give the impression that you’re a wise and worldly person, especially if you’re miserable not just about your life, but about society in general. You can project an aura of someone burdened by a form of profound, tragic, existential knowledge that happy, shallow people can’t possibly appreciate.
Honing Your Misery Skills
Let’s get right to it and take a look at some effective strategies to become miserable. This list is by no means exhaustive, but engaging in four or five of these practices will help refine your talent.
1. Be afraid, be very afraid, of economic loss. In hard economic times, many people are afraid of losing their jobs or savings. The art of messing up your life consists of indulging these fears, even when there’s little risk that you’ll actually suffer such losses. Concentrate on this fear, make it a priority in your life, moan continuously that you could go broke any day now, and complain about how much everything costs, particularly if someone else is buying. Try to initiate quarrels about other people’s feckless, spendthrift ways, and suggest that the recession has resulted from irresponsible fiscal behavior like theirs.
Fearing economic loss has several advantages. First, it’ll keep you working forever at a job you hate. Second, it balances nicely with greed, an obsession with money, and a selfishness that even Ebenezer Scrooge would envy. Third, not only will you alienate your friends and family, but you’ll likely become even more anxious, depressed, and possibly even ill from your money worries. Good job!
Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and, for 15 minutes, meditate on all the things you could lose: your job, your house, your savings, and so forth. Then brood about living in a homeless shelter.
2. Practice sustained boredom. Cultivate the feeling that everything is predictable, that life holds no excitement, no possibility for adventure, that an inherently fascinating person like yourself has been deposited into a completely tedious and pointless life through no fault of your own. Complain a lot about how bored you are. Make it the main subject of conversation with everyone you know so they’ll get the distinct feeling that you think they’re boring. Consider provoking a crisis to relieve your boredom. Have an affair (this works best if you’re already married and even better if you have an affair with someone else who’s married); go on repeated shopping sprees for clothes, cars, fancy appliances, sporting equipment (take several credit cards, in case one maxes out); start pointless fights with your spouse, boss, children, friends, neighbors; have another child; quit your job, clean out your savings account, and move to a state you know nothing about.
A side benefit of being bored is that you inevitably become boring. Friends and relatives will avoid you. You won’t be invited anywhere; nobody will want to call you, much less actually see you. As this happens, you’ll feel lonely and even more bored and miserable.
Exercise: Force yourself to watch hours of mindless reality TV programs every day, and read only nonstimulating tabloids that leave you feeling soulless. Avoid literature, art, and keeping up with current affairs.
3. Give yourself a negative identity. Allow a perceived emotional problem to absorb all other aspects of your self-identification. If you feel depressed, become a Depressed Person; if you suffer from social anxiety or a phobia, assume the identity of a Phobic Person or a Person with Anxiety Disorder. Make your condition the focus of your life. Talk about it to everybody, and make sure to read up on the symptoms so you can speak about them knowledgeably and endlessly. Practice the behaviors most associated with that condition, particularly when it’ll interfere with regular activities and relationships. Focus on how depressed you are and become weepy, if that’s your identity of choice. Refuse to go places or try new things because they make you too anxious. Work yourself into panic attacks in places it’ll cause the most commotion. It’s important to show that you don’t enjoy these states or behaviors, but that there’s nothing you can do to prevent them.
Practice putting yourself in the physiological state that represents your negative identity. For example, if your negative identity is Depressed Person, hunch your shoulders, look at the floor, breathe shallowly. It’s important to condition your body to help you reach your negative peak as quickly as possible.
Exercise: Write down 10 situations that make you anxious, depressed, or distracted. Once a week, pick a single anxiety-provoking situation, and use it to work yourself into a panic for at least 15 minutes.
4. Pick fights. This is an excellent way of ruining a relationship with a romantic partner. Once in a while, unpredictably, pick a fight or have a crying spell over something trivial and make unwarranted accusations. The interaction should last for at least 15 minutes and ideally occur in public. During the tantrum, expect your partner to be kind and sympathetic, but should he or she mention it later, insist that you never did such a thing and that he or she must have misunderstood what you were trying to say. Act injured and hurt that your partner somehow implied you weren’t behaving well.
Another way of doing this is to say unexpectedly, “We need to talk,” and then to barrage your partner with statements about how disappointed you are with the relationship. Make sure to begin this barrage just as your partner is about to leave for some engagement or activity, and refuse to end it for at least an hour. Another variation is to text or phone your partner at work to express your issues and disappointments. Do the same if your partner is out with friends.
Exercise: Write down 20 annoying text messages you could send to a romantic partner. Keep a grudge list going, and add to it daily.
5. Attribute bad intentions. Whenever you can, attribute the worst possible intentions to your partner, friends, and coworkers. Take any innocent remark and turn it into an insult or attempt to humiliate you. For example, if someone asks, “How did you like such and such movie?” you should immediately think, He’s trying to humiliate me by proving that I didn’t understand the movie, or He’s preparing to tell me that I have poor taste in movies. The idea is to always expect the worst from people. If someone is late to meet you for dinner, while you wait for them, remind yourself of all the other times the person was late, and tell yourself that he or she is doing this deliberately to slight you. Make sure that by the time the person arrives, you’re either seething or so despondent that the evening is ruined. If the person asks what’s wrong, don’t say a word: let him or her suffer.
Exercise: List the names of five relatives or friends. For each, write down something they did or said in the recent past that proves they’re as invested in adding to your misery as you are.
6. Whatever you do, do it only for personal gain. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to help someone, contribute to a charity, or participate in a community activity. Don’t do it, unless there’s something in it for you, like the opportunity to seem like a good person or to get to know somebody you can borrow money from some day. Never fall into the trap of doing something purely because you want to help people. Remember that your primary goal is to take care of Numero Uno, even though you hate yourself.
Exercise: Think of all the things you’ve done for others in the past that haven’t been reciprocated. Think about how everyone around you is trying to take from you. Now list three things you could do that would make you appear altruistic while bringing you personal, social, or professional gain.
7. Avoid gratitude. Research shows that people who express gratitude are happier than those who don’t, so never express gratitude. Counting your blessings is for idiots. What blessings? Life is suffering, and then you die. What’s there to be thankful for?
Well-meaning friends and relatives will try to sabotage your efforts to be thankless. For example, while you’re in the middle of complaining about the project you procrastinated on at work to your spouse during an unhealthy dinner, he or she might try to remind you of how grateful you should be to have a job or food at all. Such attempts to encourage gratitude and cheerfulness are common and easily deflected. Simply point out that the things you should be grateful for aren’t perfect—which frees you to find as much fault with them as you like.
Exercise: Make a list of all the things you could be grateful for. Next to each item, write down why you aren’t. Imagine the worst. When you think of the future, imagine the worst possible scenario. It’s important to be prepared for and preemptively miserable about any possible disaster or tragedy. Think of the possibilities: terrorist attacks, natural disasters, fatal disease, horrible accidents, massive crop failures, your child not getting picked for the varsity softball team.



8. Always be alert and in a state of anxiety. Optimism about the future leads only to disappointment. Therefore, you have to do your best to believe that your marriage will flounder, your children won’t love you, your business will fail, and nothing good will ever work out for you.
Exercise: Do some research on what natural or manmade disasters could occur in your area, such as earthquakes, floods, nuclear plant leaks, rabies outbreaks. Focus on these things for at least an hour a day.
9. Blame your parents. Blaming your parents for your defects, shortcomings, and failures is among the most important steps you can take. After all, your parents made you who you are today; you had nothing to do with it. If you happen to have any good qualities or successes, don’t give your parents credit. Those are flukes.
Extend the blame to other people from your past: the second-grade teacher who yelled at you in the cafeteria, the boy who bullied you when you were 9, the college professor who gave you a D on your paper, your first boyfriend, even the hick town you grew up in—the possibilities are limitless. Blame is essential in the art of being miserable.
Exercise: Call one of your parents and tell her or him that you just remembered something horrible they did when you were a child, and make sure he or she understands how terrible it made you feel and that you’re still suffering from it.
10. Don’t enjoy life’s pleasures. Taking pleasure in things like food, wine, music, and beauty is for flighty, shallow people. Tell yourself that. If you inadvertently find yourself enjoying some flavor, song, or work of art, remind yourself immediately that these are transitory pleasures, which can’t compensate for the miserable state of the world. The same applies to nature. If you accidentally find yourself enjoying a beautiful view, a walk on the beach, or a stroll through a forest, stop! Remind yourself that the world is full of poverty, illness, and devastation. The beauty of nature is a deception.
Exercise: Once a week, engage in an activity that’s supposed to be enjoyable, but do so while thinking about how pointless it is. In other words, concentrate on removing all sense of pleasure from the pleasurable activity.
11. Ruminate. Spend a great deal of time focused on yourself. Worry constantly about the causes of your behavior, analyze your defects, and chew on your problems. This will help you foster a pessimistic view of your life. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by any positive experience or influence. The point is to ensure that even minor upsets and difficulties appear huge and portentous.
You can ruminate on the problems of others or the world, but make them about you. Your child is sick? Ruminate on what a burden it is for you to take time off from work to care for her. Your spouse is hurt by your behavior? Focus on how terrible it makes you feel when he points out how you make him feel. By ruminating not only on your own problems but also those of others, you’ll come across as a deep, sensitive thinker who holds the weight of the world on your shoulders.
Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair and seek out negative feelings, like anger, depression, anxiety, boredom, whatever. Concentrate on these feelings for 15 minutes. During the rest of the day, keep them in the back of your mind, no matter what you’re doing.
12. Glorify or vilify the past. Glorifying the past is telling yourself how good, happy, fortunate, and worthwhile life was when you were a child, a young person, or a newly married person—and regretting how it’s all been downhill ever since. When you were young, for example, you were glamorous and danced the samba with handsome men on the beach at twilight; and now you’re in a so-so marriage to an insurance adjuster in Topeka. You should’ve married tall, dark Antonio. You should’ve invested in Microsoft when you had the chance. In short, focus on what you could’ve and should’ve done, instead of what you did. This will surely make you miserable.



Vilifying the past is easy, too. You were born in the wrong place at the wrong time, you never got what you needed, you felt you were discriminated against, you never got to go to summer camp. How can you possibly be happy when you had such a lousy background? It’s important to think that bad memories, serious mistakes, and traumatic events were much more influential in forming you and your future than good memories, successes, and happy events. Focus on bad times. Obsess about them. Treasure them. This will ensure that, no matter what’s happening in the present, you won’t be happy.
Exercise: Make a list of your most important bad memories and keep it where you can review it frequently. Once a week, tell someone about your horrible childhood or how much better your life was 20 years ago.
13. Find a romantic partner to reform. Make sure that you fall in love with someone with a major defect (cat hoarder, gambler, alcoholic, womanizer, sociopath), and set out to reform him or her, regardless of whether he or she wants to be reformed. Believe firmly that you can reform this person, and ignore all evidence to the contrary.
Exercise: Go to online dating sites and see how many bad choices you can find in one afternoon. Make efforts to meet these people. It’s good if the dating site charges a lot of money, since this means you’ll be emotionally starved and poor.
14. Be critical. Make sure to have an endless list of dislikes and voice them often, whether or not your opinion is solicited. For example, don’t hesitate to say, “That’s what you chose to wear this morning?” or “Why is your voice so shrill?” If someone is eating eggs, tell them you don’t like eggs. Your negativity can be applied to almost anything.
It helps if the things you criticize are well liked by most people so that your dislike of them sets you apart. Disliking traffic and mosquitos isn’t creative enough: everyone knows what it’s like to find these things annoying, and they won’t pay much attention if you find them annoying, too. But disliking the new movie that all your friends are praising? You’ll find plenty of opportunities to counter your friends’ glowing reviews with your contrarian opinion.
Exercise: Make a list of 20 things you dislike and see how many times you can insert them into a conversation over the course of the day. For best results, dislike things you’ve never given yourself a chance to like.
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I’ve just listed 14 ways to make yourself miserable. You don’t have to nail every one of them, but even if you succeed with just four or five, make sure to berate yourself regularly for not enacting the entire list. If you find yourself in a therapist’s office—because someone who’s still clinging to their love for you has tricked you into going—make sure your misery seems organic. If the therapist enlightens you in any way or teaches you mind-body techniques to quiet your anxious mind, make sure to co-opt the conversation and talk about your misery-filled dreams from the night before. If the therapist is skilled in dream analysis, quickly start complaining about the cost of therapy itself. If the therapist uses your complaints as a launching pad to discuss transference issues, accuse him or her of having countertransference issues. Ultimately, the therapist is your enemy when trying to cultivate misery in your life. So get out as soon as possible. And if you happen upon a therapist who’ll sit quietly while you bring all 14 items on this list to life each week, call me. I’ll want to make an appointment, too.