The Other Holiday Hangover — the dread of going back to work.

You know what my mom said the other day?

She had just opened a gift of those coffee-bomb things you put in fancy espresso makers. She said, “I can’t wait to go back to work tomorrow.” Ostensibly to use the things, but also because she is a freak that loves working.

My dad always says, as an example of how the two of them are so different, that his favorite day is Friday, and her favorite day is Monday. I’m more like my dad. It doesn’t matter what my job is, at some level I will always hate it.

I currently actually really like my day job. I get to tell people what to do, show up in my pajamas, and feel like the hero on the daily because I’m the most technically proficient person on staff.

But, every morning, it’s still a fight between the tattered, flimsy bits I call my work ethic and this unknowable dread…

It’s worse after a weekend, and worse still after a holiday. The longer I spend time away from work, the longer this dread builds inside of me. It’s as if I forget that work is something I must do, and I start believing that vacation could be permanent.

I don’t know if “normal people” (or at least people like my mom) have a different perspective on work but I suspect they do. I don’t think everyone has a gremlin living in their cupboards, like an evil Doby the house elf, that just wants to be set free. I can only guess that my resistance to a normal work schedule began with public school, when my teenage internal clock fought the 7:55am start time. Getting up in the morning to a day that doesn’t belong to me feels like prison.

I could try to take ownership of my work, so that I might look forward to it more — but I feel my true work will always be my writing. I have to barricade space for that, or else I’ll be spending my mental free time structuring Trello boards and writing Gmail filters. Such things can be rather addictive unless I tell myself that I hate them.

I know that when I have to go back to work, the night previous I will be a restless mess of reluctance. I will do something pathetic with my time, like watching cable television and playing solitaire on my iPad. I don’t know why, but I waste every moment that is my last, simultaneously berating myself for not doing something more valuable with what I still have.

At my core, I don’t want to work a goddamn day. I only want to write. And maybe that’s it, only my life’s passion won’t fill me with this mysterious dread. As I point my head towards something that isn’t my dream, my body recoils at the very thought of spending time on anything else. When I’m still foggy in the morning, and my sense of responsibility hasn’t set in, I struggle to talk myself into the reality that my heart hasn’t chosen.

But maybe, if I chose writing as my job, it would become just that. Maybe, I would learn to hate that too.

My friend Katie says I need to take more selfies, so here's a particularly festive one. Enjoy (what's left of) your holiday!

My friend Katie says I need to take more selfies, so here’s a particularly festive one. Enjoy (what’s left of) your holiday!

How the Grinch Stole Facebook

grinch-who-stole-facebook

My goal here is not to insult my friends. I’ve refrained from writing private letters of direct criticism because giving unsolicited advice is for pretentious douchecanoes. I am not intending to create an anonymized naughty list for you to find your name in. I will remix attributes from several friends so that what you will see is an amalgamation, and if you find yourself in any of these descriptions it is only because these behaviors are universal — they sprout out of primal social needs.

But really, sometimes my friends piss me off.

Isolated from complex human subtlety by the frame of the screen, my Facebook friends become tiny caricatures of themselves, or a blown up facet or two of their personalities that, in real life, is much less clumsy. Because of this, it is quite possible to love — and I mean really love — a friend in real life, but hate what they become in my news feed.

First, stereotypes.

A buddy might be good company over a Lagunitas IPA… But, contextualized by an endless stream of Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and Jezebel posts, they become a loathsome stereotype. Their photo is a square sticker signature slapped onto readily-available asshole personalities. Facebook posters generally expect their friends to be kind and understanding. They do not realize that when they like some sexist meme or other, I don’t see someone who has a complicated appreciation for both feminism and its seedy counterpart, in an ironic sort of way. Bah! Humbug! There is nothing festive about misogyny! I am not amused.

There’s the trope of the gay guy who calls women bitches and thinks vaginas are gross.¹ It’s supposed to be cute because he’s non-threatening and mince-y.  In my newsfeed, I have seen a good friend use the c-word.  “Um,” I want to say, “just because you’re ostensibly lower on the privilege totem pole than straight women doesn’t mean you get to call them cunts.” I should assume this person is adopting the stereotype for the sake of humor, but on the sterile screen, the words echo hatred like an angry red zit.

If I don’t know the person too well, such breaches have me reaching for the “hide” or even “unfriend” buttons. Facebook only lets me see you in one-dimension, and the one you’re giving me is ugly.

today-i-feel-trite-cliche-meaninglessThen, there are my sad friends.

In real life, they are clever and strong. They match self-deprecation with wit and laughter. They feel terribly about themselves, but muster up bravery to face the night. We commiserate about our human weaknesses, and wash the bitter taste away with fun and alcohol.

On Facebook they are whiny children. “Help me” sad post follows help-me-sad-post and they cry into the little box that asks: “What’s on your mind?” I see selfies described with words like “ugly,” “awful,” “not cute.” A flurry of comments reject the insecurities. Fine, I won’t disparage fishing-for-compliments if it’s effective for you, but I’m still always turned off by delusional postings. As in, your selfie is hot, please don’t lie and say it’s not.

And, of course, the over-sharers, in both senses of the word.

I won’t delve too much into the TMI tribe, because I’m probably just the asshole here for not giving a feel when your boyfriend is borderline abusive (and you think it’s more appropriate to cyber-whine than dump him). But I will just say if “some people” did something and they “know who they are” I am pissed at you for not giving me the whole story.

How-to-catch-James-Woods-ooh-piece-of-candy-family-guy

The other over-sharers seem think if they create a trail of links to “funny” or “amazing” internet “articles,” we’ll be gobbling them up like James Woods a la Family Guy. I’m sorry, but your fluffy internet photoblogs about 18 Little Whatsits that Insert-Anthropomorphic-Verb-Here or yet another slapdash rant on how Celebrity Epitomizes Insert-Hyperbolic-Adjective-or-Trendy-Social-Activism-Phenomenon-Here don’t have me bending over exclaiming “Oooh! Piece of candy.” Go play show-and-tell in Reddit where you can at least learn from your downvotes.

I feel like the Facebook Grinch.

Every Who down in Whoville liked Bitstrips a lot
But the Grinch who lived just North of Whoville did not!

The Grinch hated HuffPost! The whole Facebook feed!
What’s the point of this insatiable, selfish human need?

It could be that Upworthy talks down to us, like we’re kids
Or that when I’m in a public place, I’m not trying to watch vids…

The crux of it all is that I’m guilty. I am at once in-narcissistic-love with my Facebook persona and sick with the shame of self-promotion. If I am cringing when my friends post pictures of their lunches, how annoying is my stream of blog links, proud-of-myself check-ins, and hungover affirmations that I have so much party in my life?

We are not professional content finders and writers. Our news feeds are not as carefully curated as The Electric Typewriter. Our editing tools are too basic and imprecise. Facebook filters out 90% of babies-doing-baby-things for me (thank you!), but still shows Upworthy posts on the mobile browser. I blocked it! I totally blocked it already!

We’re scrap-booking together living, breathing yearbooks of human experience, as best we can.

As sappy as it sounds, there is something beautiful about that. What, perhaps, is insane, is that we’re expected to create and consume in this way every day. I’ve always felt squicky about nostalgia. Perhaps I’d be more comfortable if Facebook news feed browsing was relegated to an annual tradition, like an actual yearbook. We could submit content year-long, but it would disappear into the void until it unlocked like a time-capsule. Hmmm….yes…

Fantasies aside, this Grinch’s heart grows three sizes when she thinks about what Facebook represents despite its limitations. Yes, it’s a little bit of amateur-hour. But this mixture of the anxious, the banal, uplifting hope beside crushing failures, daily life and life events — this mixture is as raw and snotty-nosed and breathing and shitting, laughing, sighing as “the real world.”  We’re creating human records and they are exactly that, human.

So, please acknowledge my posts when I please you and I’ll do the same for you. If I come across something I don’t “like,” I guess I’ll just keep on scrolling.


¹To be fair, there is a trope of the lesbian who hates men and says dicks are gross, and while I’m not that way, I’ve heard such sentiment out of the mouth of babes, and I didn’t put my clothes back on and drive away.

Lost in Hollywood

A friend posted a link in the ol’ newsfeed to Google’s Location History to appraise Droid users of just how intimately your phone knows where you were last night.  A privacy concern, for some.

My first thought was: Haha, yeah! I can show my friends exactly how lost I got in Hollywood last week.

I’ve been feeling lately that to truly get to the meat of what San Diego is like, I need to juxtapose it with other places. So when Katelyn needed to make a trip to Los Angeles to pick up something she won on eBay, I happily joined her do research, and, you know, to make sure she didn’t go into some creepy millionaire’s basement and get murdered.

She went into some creepy french millionaire’s basement and did not get murdered, so afterward we went to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles to celebrate. As you probably already heard, I scooped chicken and waffle alike with my hand shovels into my mouth bucket, and then wiped all with individually packaged moist towelettes, and felt sated and warm.

Afterwards we decided to go to the Frolic Room, which promised via Yelp to be the best dive bar in town. Based on the reviews and my limited understanding of Hollywood, I guessed it was the best simulation of a dive bar in town, with well dressed white people, new furniture, and an unusually kind bartender. Basically, the perfect spot for a San Diegan in an unfamiliar city.

First, we returned to our car to drop off unfinished chicken and waffles.  We had parked on Carlton Way, which is flanked on both sides by towering palm trees in symmetrical rows – probably a street that has shown up in a movie somewhere – the height and precision of which isn’t seen in comparably modest San D.  I think that is where we started to go wrong; we started to imagine ourselves sauntering down this aisle of palms like Californian rockstars and went absolutely the wrong way down Carlton.

Here’s our goal:
Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 9.25.55 PM

Approximate actual route:

Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 9.25.40 PM

That’s only Part One of our misadventures, and it doesn’t show you the brief moment we started to walk the wrong way down Sunset Blvd. We stopped to consult my smart phone, and exactly as I feared, some “helpful” citizen off the recently departed bus started talking to us, in a creepy old man talking to two young women kind of way. I whipped around, “We’re fine. Bye,” and kept walking, determined not to look as lost as I felt.

We made it to the Frolic Room.  It was an enjoyable approximation of a dive bar…. hipsters, new furniture, and an nice bartender. Besides realizing that LA is much bigger than SD, I’d also noticed that fewer (guy) people talk to me, though Katelyn assured me we had no lack of gawkers with long white beards reminiscent of our friend at the bus stop.

I’d also noticed that drivers in town sort of make up their own rules — running red lights, meandering around stopped cars — in a peaceful sort of way. I’d seen two cars pirouette easily around each other in a parking lot, where back home I’d have seen frustrated 5-point turns, impatient glaring, even honking.  San Diegans have a certain, anxious rigidity about traffic law, and a certain insecurity about parking situations.

We walked along the streets again, and I saw a woman with skunked hair on tall, heel-less platforms, surrounded by jackals, her entourage of sharply scruffy men. There’s a different sort of confidence in Hollywood. Maybe it’s all an act, but she seemed to know she was indefatigably interesting, stylish, that she knew where she was going…. Which, apparently, 10 blocks ago, I did not. We had planned to get just one more drink on the way back to the car, at some tavern or another, but-

Let me remind you of our goal:

Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 10.05.48 PM

Now let me show you an animation of just how lost we got in Hollywood that night:

lost-in-hollywood

How to Play Cards Against Humanity

cards-against-humanity-haiku-mime-having-a-stroke-reddit-foshofersher

Stolen from reddit user, foshofersher.

Remain sober, so you can defeat everyone with your mental acuity.

Identify known trump cards. “Pacman guzzling cum” is a trump card. So is “dick fingers.” For most, so is “Hellen Keller.”

Try to recall your friends’ personal trump cards. Emma G. will always choose “BATMAN!!!” Art Meier is weak for bacon.

Cheat. When you draw “Toni Morrison’s Vagina” and you know your friends aren’t going to get it, slyly put that back in the deck and draw a new one. Or not so slyly. Nobody is paying attention to you.

In general, just realize that nobody is paying attention to you because this game is designed for narcissists.

Confidently play “8oz. of sweet Mexican black tar heroin” only to be beaten by a deeply nostalgic moment over the card “Lunchables” that has nothing to do with the black card at all.

Try to bring up the fact that Cards Against Humanity charged an extra 5 dollars during Black Friday, but everyone already knew that. Become deeply insecure that you might be a “boring person.”

Start regretting that you offered to be the designated driver, because it’s like all the drunk people speak special drunk people language and they are playing by deranged drunk people rules.

Try another attempt at a trump card by whipping out “Firing a rifle into the air while balls deep in a squealing hog” — which you’ve been saving for 3 turns — only to lose miserably to “Glen Beck convulsively vomiting as a brood of crab spiders hatches in his brain and erupts from his tear ducts.”

Carefully time your bathroom break. Come back. You didn’t win.

Finally take your first turn as the Card Czar and announce the cards with decreasing dramatic zest…because a side conversation starts to dominate the table. Once you’ve got your white cards arranged into piles, wonder what everyone wants you to pick because you’re starting to think you’re categorically unfunny. Nobody laughs when you select your answer.

Cry a little inside when you draw the card “Active Listening.” What does that even mean?

Cry a little inside after you play your pick for “White people like _______,” and the replacement card you draw is “White privilege.”  IT’S TOO LATE. YOU ARE NOW CURSED. YOU WILL ALWAYS DRAW THE PERFECT CARD 1 TURN TOO LATE FOR THE REST OF THIS GAME.

Zone out for awhile contemplating the intricate levels of inside jokes you are not a part of.

Start chucking throwaways into the pile every turn because you’re determined to save “Trail of Tears” for that one card about white people ruining the lives of Native Americans.

Feel a little grateful that you’re at least not playing Apples to Apples.

Surreptitiously check Urban Dictionary for the definition of “swooping” on your smartphone and discover someone else out there had the same idea while playing this game. Feel less alone.

Draw “Life for the Native Americans was forever changed after the white man introduced them to __________” as your black card. Slam your fist on the table. Your friends look at you suspiciously. All hope has died.

Start writing a blog post in your mind about how Cards Against Humanity, while effective at bringing a room full of people together, is perhaps the loneliest game we play at parties.

From cah.tumblr.com