Life Without a Smartphone

6a00d8341e497553ef0120a50d1a46970bI don’t have a smartphone. Actually, I don’t have a phone at all. I used to have an old mobil phone in Prague, but it finally gave up the ghost about the time I decided to move back to America. I guess I could be embarrassed, but I’m not. I don’t mind not having a smartphone. I actually kind of like it.

I’ve never been a fan of the cell phone. A few lifetimes ago I had a job working for Nextel Communications. Remember them? No? Anyway, I was forced to have a Nextel phone when I worked for them. They called it a perk.  I called it a nuisance. I did not like the idea of my job being able to get ahold of me whenever they wanted. The boundaries between my actual life and my job seemed to blur with a cell phone. I took the thing. I only turned it on while I was at work, getting paid. I never gave the number to my friends or family. God forbid my mother should be able to contact me at any time of day or night. It just seemed like a huge intrusion.

When I moved to the Bay Area I had a mobile phone instead of a land line. That worked fine for me. When I decided to move overseas I didn’t even think about a phone. I figured it would work itself out. And it did. I got another clunker and subsisted as most expats did in Prague – by sending SMS’s instead of calling. Cheap and easy. Just the way I like things.

So now I’m in Seattle and I don’t have a smartphone. Or a phone at all. It’s not that I’m trying to make a statement about the digital world and how disconnected we all are (because we totally are) but I just don’t need a smartphone. It seems like a lot of money just to be able to look at Facebook while waiting for the bus. I’m not out of touch with life – I am fairly active on social media, I have this blog, and I read news on the Internets when I have a moment. I’m in touch. A good friend of mine said I was “in the world, just not of the world”. Could be.

I went through a time where I had smartphone envy. It is similar to the ipod envy I felt living in San Francisco circa 2005. Everywhere I looked folks had one. Today it is the same with the smartphone. I look around me and all I see are people: heads down, thumbs and fingers dancing across the tiny screen, ear buds plugging up yet one more vital sense, barely noticing me or anyone else they might be walking into. And it isn’t just in America. When I was leaving Prague about two years ago, Smartphones were the item de jour for not only the Czechs, but the expats as well. Necessary or not, the smartphone is something people want. People make fun of you if you don’t have a smartphone.

People are shocked when they hear that I don’t have a smartphone. Much less a phone at all. I always hear the same thing, “Oh, I wish I didn’t need one… but my job…my kids… my life…” I heard the same ridiculous reasoning from people when I moved to Europe. “Oh, I wish I could do that but I have a family and a job.” So? I promise you that you don’t need a smartphone to do your job. Unless your job is putting together smartphones. If you have a regular phone you can still call people if there is an emergency. If you have a home computer or laptop you can still be a part of the world via FB, Twitter, and email. You can even work from home. The smartphone just helps you take all of that into your bedroom, holidays, your kid’s latest school performance, or even god forbid the weekend.

There is nothing so important that I need to stop in the middle of the street to see to it. There is no email, text, or post that needs to interrupt my life. I am here to tell you that you are not that busy. You are not that important. You just like feeling like you are.

Smartphones make life a little more convenient. A little. But all of the convenience may be making you kind of stupid. For instance, a co-worker of mine couldn’t drive in the city they’d spent almost a year living in without the navigational help of her smartphone. That’s sad. And I have absolutely no sense of direction. I get lost walking to the bathroom. But I am able to get around town just fine because I took the time to learn where I am. Street names. The city grid. I don’t feel helpless or naked without a phone. I figure out where I am going ahead of time, and if I get lost I ask for directions. Easy. I’m pretty resourceful.

18s013fzv6a72jpgI have a billion slips of paper: book titles, ideas for novels, things to get at the store, and even sketches. The act of writing actually helps to improve your memory. Unlike the act of Google-ing. When someone wants to know who sings a song, or what film Nic Cage did with Kevin Bacon (the answer of course is: They have never been in a movie together. I am going to start a petition to get this rectified as soon as possible) I don’t need to Google anything via my phone. I just delve into the deep Rolodex that is my mind and I remember. And if I don’t know, I don’t know. I’m cool with that, and it gives me something new to learn. And RETAIN.

I also find that not owning a smartphone helps me focus on what I am actually doing. For instance, if I am watching an episode of Mad Men, that’s what I am doing. I am not listening to the episode while I look at my Facebook, email, work email, Amazon,  Local Indie Bookstore, and 34 other sites. I am paying attention to what I am doing. I am mindful. I know that multitasking doesn’t work. (Look it up. I’m correct about this one.) People who multitask are usually scattered thinkers and seem more hurried and frazzled than need be. And that is simply their own doing. If you put down your smartphone and use your own brain, you’ll get your shit done in a timely manner. Be mindful of what you are doing and get ‘er done before moving on to the next task. This will also fend off boredom.

I don’t believe in boredom. I don’t have a television, or phone, but I’m never bored. I have cards, games, books, paints, pencils, Angry Birds, and a dozen other activities to keep my mind active. When I wait for the bus I do so with a book in hand. In line at the store I simply observe what is going on around me. I have developed patience that seems huge in capacity compared to what I see around me. A three-minute video is “too long” for some people to “sit through”. You can’t wait three minutes for a joke? You kinda suck. When you expect instant results, instant entertainment, or instant replies from people, your expectations are not just too high. They are unreasonable.

I’m not saying that smartphones are the devil and all those who use them are morons with short attention spans. That would be short sided of me. But I will say that folks depend on them far more than necessary. Having a smartphone gives you the option of checking out of any event or conversation that you don’t like. And it gives you the option of not listening or paying attention. It has become almost a reflex. The moment people have down time they reach for the smartphone. They disengage.

I will put forth a challenge to all of you smartphone users out there. Whatever you are doing this weekend, don’t bring it with you. If that scares you or sends you into an instant panic, you’ve got a problem. You should be able to go out to dinner, or for a hike without need of your phone. You should be able to go to the market or to the park without it. Try packing a book instead and see how your day goes. You’ll get past the panic and eventually feel that warm feeling called relaxation settle over you as you realize you don’t have to check anything.

Sticks and Stones

Image“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

We all learned that rhyme as kids and even back then, we knew it was crap. Sticks and stones hurt, but so can words.

A few months ago I wrote a post about living in Austin, Texas. When I initially posted it, it didn’t make much of a splash. Some people loved it. Some people hated it. Some people didn’t care either way. Jump ahead to yesterday and… BOOM!

Over the last two days that post has had over 18,000 views and over 300 comments.

To say that I am overwhelmed by the attention is an understatement. I thought I had hit my biggest number of views when I was featured as “Freshly Pressed” last month. Wow, was I wrong. Almost overnight my blog views exploded. And so did the comments. While I’m happy and grateful to have so much attention, I am also a little freaked out by all the hate.

I knew my piece on Austin wasn’t going to be popular with… some people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Texans, it is this: Texans LOVE Texas. Texans do not want to hear about/from/of people who do not love Texas. Oh, and this: Texans hate Californians. Not one to back down from opposition, I wrote about my personal experiences here in Austin.

Knowing what I know, I expected some criticism. And I welcome criticism. I welcome dissent and discussion. What I don’t welcome is hateful or hurtful speech. I don’t welcome rude comments. I do not welcome personal attacks. I don’t know what it is about the internet that lets people think they can be assholes, but people be assholes! Here is a short list of things people wrote to me, or about me because I don’t like living in Austin.

Bitch, loser, pretentious snob, whore, asshole, cunt, twat,”Get the fuck out”, privileged rich bitch, co-ed, idiot, stupid, ugly, lame, retarded and finally, evil. Yes, evil

After a day and a half of trying to wade through these comments and find the ones worth reading, I gave up. I closed the comments and gave myself some peace.

Now, I am left with a weird feeling. The comments don’t really bother me. I’m used to it. I think it is the sheer volume of them – both good and bad. But who does that? Who logs on the internet, reads an opinion they don’t like and then calls that person a cunt? Who does that? And the fact that someone would say such ugly things and then think I am stupid enough to actually post them just astounds me. Honestly. My blog is not a democracy. (Nobody can publish a comment without it getting through me first. If I don’t like it, it goes in the trash. So be nice.)

The internet should be a place for opinions and discussion. It shouldn’t be a place for bad behavior. Don’t assume you know someone from reading one thing they have written. Or twenty. Unless you actually call that person a “friend”, you don’t know them. Don’t go assuming that all people different from you are crazy, and don’t yell at people who have a different opinion. Just because you scream doesn’t mean you’ll be heard.

All I can do is keep on doing what I’ve been doing for the last 8 years. Write. I’m going to keep on writing about where I am and what I see. Hopefully some of you get something from it. People asked me what I thought of Austin, so I told them. It’s my opinion. You might have a different one and that’s rad. If that different opinion is something you are passionate about, you can tell me about it. If you tell me about it using respect I’ll even post it. If you do not use respect your opinion will not be heard. It will go in the trash. Telling someone to move out of “your” city is juvenile. Screaming about how amazing Austin was in the 90’s doesn’t do anyone any good in 2013. Name calling, and ignorant statements will be ignored.

I did have some kind folks who wrote and apologized on behalf of their city and the lovely language used by some of Austin’s finest citizens. They said thank you for sharing and best of luck for the future. It made me smile. A little politeness goes a long way. So just be nice. Even if you don’t agree with someone. You can disagree without calling someone a rude name, or sounding ignorant.

Or at least most of us can.

10 Minimalist Habits

2219482836_5cb11df36aI’ve been living a small version of a Minimalist Life for a long time, I just didn’t know it. I didn’t know there was a name for it, and I didn’t know that there were folks out there in the world who were passionate about it. Boy was I wrong! There are many people who embrace a minimalist lifestyle in some way. I consider myself a Minimalist. Does that mean everything I do is Minimalist? No. But, I bet a few odd little things I do might fit the bill.

Most of these habits won’t seem like much. In fact, they just might seem “cheap” to some of you and “impossible” to others. I ask you to look at these things with an open mind and look at them as ideas. I keep an uncluttered home and I try not to have excess. I don’t have a dining room table and chairs – we eat sitting on the couch. I don’t keep a ton of kitchen appliances – I make toast in the oven and reheat things on the stove since we don’t have a microwave. These are just small things that help me keep clutter out of my home, and it saves me from spending money needlessly. Consider these ten little habits and picture what your life might be like. More peaceful. Less cluttered. Less stress. Remember, everything you bring into your home needs your space and your attention.

  1. No Keys – Ok, I have a set of keys but I don’t use them. And, there are only two keys on there: my post box key, and the key to my flat. That’s it. If I go for a walk, I’ll take em. But I never worry about them. If you feel you couldn’t live without all of your keys, consider downsizing them to just the essentials. Do you really need to carry around those work keys? How about that one which opens the lock on the gate no one ever uses?
  2. No watch – When I was in grade school I loved watches. Actually, I loved Swatches. I had one and wore it for a while, but eventually abandoned it because it made my wrist sweaty. I haven’t worn one since. I feel more free sans watch and it makes me far less conscious of time. This let’s me focus on the people and tasks in the present. I also don’t have an alarm clock. I wake up (whether I want to or not) at 7:15 sharp. Every morning. It’s a blessing and a curse.
  3. No smartphone – I would love to write “no cell” but I do have one. Sort of. No one ever calls me on it, and I’m pretty sure it is at least five years old. I use it to text my sweetie silly things when I am bored at work. My phone is usually off. If someone needs to get in touch with me they will have better luck sending me an email. I hate talking on the phone anyway. I know some of you think you couldn’t live with out a cell phone, but I promise you can. And don’t use “I have kids” as an excuse. Plenty of people have been parents without the luxury of a mobil phone. If you feel you need it as a security blanket “in case something happens” try leaving it off when your kids are with you.
  4. No mobil internet – While were at it, I don’t play on the internet unless I am sitting down at a computer. Like I said above, my phone only makes calls and texts, takes calls and texts. That’s it. It doesn’t have WiFi and it doesn’t play music. I can’t look up the weather or check my FaceBook. When I am out in the world and I have to wait two minutes for something, I just wait. I look at the world around me and I people watch. Let me tell you, people watching in Austin is excellent. I like to play Fatty Vs. Hipster (so far I have seen way more of the former than the latter) or dogs Vs. owner. (Dogs are way cuter than their owners in this city) It’s fun. If I have to wait longer than a few minutes I always have a book in my bag for just that occasion. I like the feeling of being disconnected. It’s very liberating.
  5. No T.V.tumblr_ldachzWKlm1qa5699o1_500I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating: I don’t own a television. I haven’t owned a television in over a decade. I don’t pay for cable and I still watch the shows that are interesting to me. There is so much crap on TV these days that it’s hard not to get sucked in. Getting rid of cable and TV helps. I am very conscious of what I watch and how it will make me feel. TV isn’t just “on” at my house. If a show or movie is on, it was because of intent. I learned a lot of great tips living in Prague. If you want to know the best sites for streaming movies or tv shows, just ask an expat. They know what’s up.
  6. No car – I know for some of you, this seems crazy. My household has a car, but I don’t own it, or drive it. Or, I try not to. I hate driving. My boyfriend drives me to and from work every day, and we go to the market together. We use the car as needed. And unfortunately, it is needed in Austin. It’s not a great city for bikes or for public transportation. Not to mention nobody wants to walk 3.5 miles home after work in 100 degree heat. If you can’t do without a car, try doing with it LESS. Walk to the store. Ride a bike someplace. Take the bus or Metro.
  7. No ipod – again, I have one – but it is close to death. It’s pretty old. It has one of those clicky wheel things that you spin to find a song you like. I got it as a gift in 2005. I only use it when I’m working out in the gym. And since I don’t go to the gym here… it just sits in a drawer. It annoys me to see people walking around with those things stuck in their ears. (You all look like zombies. Hipster-sheep zombies.) I enjoy listening to the world around me, and seeing nature. You never know what you might hear!
  8. No credit cards – I have one credit card that is used for travel. I buy tickets online and then pay off the bill asap. I don’t “shop” with it, I don’t pay bills with it, and I don’t have another one. I have one credit card which is used solely for travel purchases. If I don’t have the money, I don’t buy it. It’s pretty simple. Use cash, debit or Paypal before using a credit card. And, stop shopping so much. Do you really need all of that stuff?
  9. Share – I share a lot. I share meals with my boyfriend when we go out to eat. The portion sizes in America are overwhelming, as is the fat content and prices. Sharing a meal let’s us go out to eat and enjoy good food without being wasteful and over spending. Buying food just to “save it for later” is the same as hoarding. Take only what you need, and share. In Prague I would share my books. Finding good books in english is expensive in Prague. When I finished a book (or ten) I would let people have them, or take them to a book exchange with friends. That way I got new books while making room for them!
  10. One in, one out – One way I keep down clutter is by having the “one in – one out” rule. For example, I recently lost some weight. More than some. I lost about fifteen pounds, enough so that none of my clothes fit right. I needed new clothes. (I try not to buy clothes unless I actually need them. I was really excited I finally needed a new bikini!) I ordered a super cute new bikini online and as soon as it arrived, the old ones went out. I don’t keep things around that are unnecessary. If you shop at Wal-Mart or Target and end up coming home with more than just that mop head you went there for – this rule is for you. If you bring a new item into you home, get rid of something.

Why I quit Facebook

super-hero-facebook-likes1I quit Facebook yesterday. I came home from work and deleted my account. Someone posted something stupid and it made me mad. It made me mad all day. It made me mad all day until I realized I had a choice. I’d let someone who I hardly know infuriate me. I gave someone who isn’t a part of my life, power in my life. No more. I’ve been threatening to do it for a while now, but I just couldn’t commit. I had justification – My blog is connected to Facebook. Being a writer was a great excuse for “needing” a Facebook account. It is easy, free and convenient. But that is just an excuse. This blog has a few hundred followers outside of Facebook. If someone misses me, they know where to find me.

My FB lifestyle was not jiving with my personal beliefs, and who I am in “real life”. I am tired of holding my tongue and I am tired of getting upset. I shouldn’t have to delete “friends” because they use sexist language, are idiots, or I haven’t seen/spoken to them in years. What a pain in the ass. I realized that it is far easier to just remove myself from the equation all together. I am tired of being attached to Facebook and I am tired of looking at pictures of your dog, your kids, your lunch and your neighbors pet chicken. I don’t care what you are listening to. I have no need or desire to play Farmville with you, nor do I give any shits at all about where you have checked in. Your score on Bedazzled doesn’t interest anyone and thank you so much for posting the score of Jimmy’s soccer game. I was totally losing sleep over it.

Two days in and I must say, I feel lighter. I have so many better things to do with my time. I thought I would feel uneasy or nervous, but I don’t. I feel relief. And I don’t suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) so I should be alright. FOMO is the #1 reason people keep their FB accounts while posting about how much they hate Facebook. How often do you check your FB? I bet it is at least in the double digits. Every single glance at all the badass things your friends (and enemies, let’s be honest) are doing just fuels the fire. You start wondering why you aren’t doing badass stuff like climbing mountains, getting married, or getting wasted with a group of Russian tourists.

Start playing the comparison game and you’ll lose every time. That’s how the game works. It starts innocently enough… maybe just a little filter on that picture of your hamburger to make it look brighter. Then, maybe  a second filter to show each and every seed on the bun. By the time you are finished, your photo looks nothing like that thing you ate which gave you indigestion. The only way to win is not to play at all. It’s a losing game. Everybody will always be thinner than you on Facebook. They will be smarter than you. Their Angry Bird score will be better than yours. Their friends will always be hipper than your friends. Their Instagram account will have cooler shots than yours. They will get married before you. Their kids will have cooler names than yours. Their dog will be cuter than your dog. Their cat will be more popular on Youtube than your cat.

You will always lose at Facebook.

SN856871

Crawdads (Austin, TX) Alicia Brooks photo

But it doesn’t matter because it’s all a lie. All of it. Take my profile for example. Just recently I posted this picture. Looks incredible, right? Well, here is what I didn’t tell you. That picture was taken at the world’s most boring party. The food you see was not seasoned – at all – until it was thrown in the bowl. Then about six different people took turns salting it. The conversation  was about as exciting as the food. The highlight of the party seemed to be when the host dared a guest to let a crawdad latch onto his nipple… for $5. I kid you not. But, I knew that I could take a very cool picture of the food and nobody needed to know the rest. Facebook is a facilitator of lies.

Everyday we are presented with an endless montage of small excitements disguised as every day activities. We judge ourselves against the carefully cultivated and created profiles that people present as truth. That is absurd behavior. Facebook is the ghost in the machine. It works on your behalf when you are not there. It actively distorts us to our friends, and worse yet to users whom we have never met. Facebook is exploitive and unnecessary. It makes us yearn for approval in the form of “likes”, the more the better. As a writer I began to see my worth in the amount of likes or views a piece got. How backwards is that?

So, I guess I quit in pursuit of happiness. Facebook was affecting my moods and my life so I am taking a sabbatical. How can I attempt to live a minimalist life with the clutter of Facebook in my… face? It might be a week, it might be a month, it might be longer. I don’t know. All I know is that when and if I decide to go back, it will be with a new outlook on the tool. And it is a tool. Just more for the folks at Facebook than for you. I’m not here preaching for you to quit social media sites. Do what you will. I’m here saying take a look at what you post, how often, and how often you are posting. Be aware and maybe take a day off and see how you feel. I feel like I just sprouted wings.

Slacktivism

tumblr_mke3vsTpkr1qkd1ybo1_1280I am usually not a supporter of “Slacktivism”. I find it rather silly and doesn’t do one bit of good for whatever cause you think you are supporting. How is posting the color of my bra as a status update supposed to show that I am fighting for a cure to breast cancer? How is changing my profile picture to anything count as ‘activism’? It doesn’t. Not usually. That’s why they call it “Slacktivism”. It’s activism without doing anything, thus Slacktivism.

But I did change my profile picture to the red equal sign, and I’ll tell you why. First off, the sign is from the Human Rights Campaign, and it is to show congress that America – ALL OF AMERICA – supports marriage equality. It was a genius campaign of peer pressure that resulted in 13 members of congress showing the sign.

Peer pressure can be an effective tool for enacting change in people who are too dumb to do it on their own. Every single argument that has been made to “protect marriage” has been dismantled. Seeing all the red out there is inspiring. It’s making me think that maybe this will inspire people towards REAL activism. Maybe this will inspire people to speak up when they hear someone say “…that’s so gay…”, or attend the next Gay Pride march.

157079_10151543112548281_1837861246_n

At the very least, the red equal sign has hushed the idiots. Maybe seeing all that red made people think twice before posting a derogatory slur. Maybe it inspired one asshole to change the way he thinks. Even if it only got one person to stop and think about human rights, and what it means to be human, then it was worth it. 

ANd it can’t end there. I challenge you to prove you are not just an armchair warrior. If you were one of the millions of people who proudly changed your profile picture to a red equal sign, I challenge you to take it to the next level. Get off your ass and become an activist. Don’t be scared. You have already taken the first step! You were outraged enough to publicly state “I demand change!” That’s a good thing. Now all you have to do is get out there and show the people you mean it. Talk the talk. Walk the walk. Find a fun event taking place in your city that supports the LGBT community. Write a letter to your congresswoman or man. Donate money to the Human Rights Campaign.

Change starts when you let it. Let it.

A Letter to Myself – age 16

Me in my teenage bedroom.

Me in my teenage bedroom.

Dear Me,

It’s me! (You!) I am writing to you from the future. Don’t get freaked out or anything, but the future looks a lot different than the world you are living in. I am writing to share with you (me) some things I have learned on this crazy ride. Maybe things would have turned out different. Or maybe not. We are one stubborn woman. Either way, you are a super cool teenager who grows up to be a strange, talented, smart woman. And yes, we still have Le Mutt, and we still like Bruce Willis. Even if he is a republican.

  1. Computers are your friend. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but computers will become a way of life for the whole world. Stop falling asleep in keyboarding class and know that in about ten years computers will be super cool. 
  2. Learn to speak spanish. This is going to sound crazy to you, but years from now you will be living in Texas, teaching spanish to little kids. You don’t speak spanish. You even lived in Mexico for 5 months! Do yourself a favor and use spanish as one of your electives. Oh, and while we are talking about electives – please, PLEASE when you are in Madrigal’s do NOT let Mr. Kelsey be an asshole. He picks out the ugliest dresses for you to wear on tour, and even tells you ladies that you should “wear more make-up”. Please!  Make sure you boycott, and tell HIM to wear the fucking lipstick.
  3. Stay Brave. You will hear this throughout your whole life: You are one of the bravest women I have ever known. It’s true. You are. At 16 you have already been through a lot, and you are going to go through even more. No sweat though. You blossom into a super badass, super YOU. Sure, you are still scared of a lot, but you don’t let it stop you from living life. Keep it up.
  4. Don’t sweat the bitches. I know you spend quite a bit of time wondering why those snooty, popular girls are so mean to you. I know it confuses you because half of you can’t stand them, (their matching outfits, and shinny cars that Daddy paid for – barf) while the other half just wants to be invited to the party. Well I have news for you – they don’t stay popular forever. In fact, years from now “The Internet” will give you a way to peek into their lives as grown ups. It’s awesome. I don’t want to give anything away here, but you totally win. Just remember, you don’t peak in high school like those bitchy girls. So just tough it out and you’ll end up feeling pretty good about the whole thing.
  5. Love your body. I know you think you are fat, but take it from me: You are the thinnest you will ever be RIGHT NOW. You are super cute and hot. Your tummy looks just fine. But you would do well to ditch the “Mauve on White” lipstick, and do me a favor –  DON’T GET THAT PERM!

I guess that’s all for now. You are doing pretty well at 16, and don’t need a lot of advice. I’d tell you to stay away from the assholes (in the dating department) but you won’t listen. Some lessons need to be lived in order to really learn from them. But don’t worry you end up with a super hot sweetheart who treats you with kindness and compassion. He also makes fart noises whenever someone bends over. You act mad, but inside you are all giggles.

Keep enjoying life kid-o, you deserve it.

-Me

New Year’s EVOLUTION

tumblr_mfnvg2Ki8S1qbrdf3o1_500I was going to post Best Movies of 2012 list, but you don’t need that. No. You already know that Django Unchained is awesome, and hell I post so many movie lists that you should have plenty to watch. Instead I wanted to take this last day of 2012 and say “I resolve to do better. I will EVOLVE!”

That’s right. I am going to evolve this year. 2013 is the year I stop making “firm decisions” to do or not do stuff, and start becoming a truly badass human being. It’s going to be lot’s of hard work, but I know me. I can do it. Here are somethings I will be doing to help myself evolve into greatness. Feel free to copy me. I care not.

  • I will be better to my body. This means actually working out. Getting those muscles back into Zombie fighting strength. Because you never know when the Zombie Apocalypse will be upon us. And playing with the Wii only counts if you are 82 years old. Saying you worked out by playing on the Wii is like saying the dog farted when you did it. It’s just a distraction.
  • I will not “waste time”. This is tough. I am a smart enough woman to never be bored, but I do watch a lot of kitten videos on the youtube. So, as a way of bettering myself I will instead paint, or read, or write instead of playing SpellTower or Angry Birds. I’m keeping the kitten videos.
  • Bad ass people make things. I am going to buy less and make more. This goes for food, art, and whatever else I can manage.
  • I will engage more in the community. It’s tough being a vagabond. On the one hand you get to travel and see the world. It was a fear of mine to suddenly be 45 one day and realize that I lived in one place my whole life. How dull! But, the downside of being a vagabond is having to adjust to new places and people all the time. It’s not easy. But, while I am in Texas I might as well enjoy it. So, I am going to get a gym membership, maybe join a book-club or two or something like that. It can’t be all heat and hipsters here, right?
  • Make better choices. I say this to my kids at school constantly. It’s a good thing to remember. You ALWAYS have a choice. Is your girlfriend mean to you all the time? You have the choice to leave. Do you hate your job? Quit. Get a better job. Take action. I make pretty good choices these days, but there is always room for improvement. I can choose NOT to eat the last cookie.
  • I will stop rolling my eyes every time I see/hear Zooey Deschanel. It’s not really her fault that she is obnoxious. I blame her stylist. I will do my part by ignoring her, and pointing out that all of her “IT GIRL” qualities are circumstantial at best.
  • I will accept the fact that I am awesome when I am. And I am awesome a lot. I was dubbed “The Empress” of karaoke and I just blushed and turned shy. Screw that! I AM good! I am good at lots of things and I should be proud of that, rather than embarrassed. Little girls are taught to keep quiet. Women should be taught to be loud and proud.
  • I will stop saying “Seacrest out!” every time I leave a room. It’s time.

Happy 2013, every one. I hope you try your best and do awesome things this year well into March or April. Just remember, there is always room for improvement. Even for you. Espically for Zooey Deschanel.

I leave you with this awesome video. It has lot’s of dogs. Happy New Year! 

 

2013: Looking Forward “The Year of Russell”

5201105546_748c5a3472Well, the world didn’t end this year. It kept on spinning just like it always has. Last year (on this exact very date, as fate would have it) I wrote a blog about what the next year would be like. Funny enough, most of it came true! I did start going back to the gym and kicked all kinds of ass. I did happen to move to America and eat a really good sandwich. I didn’t do NaNo this year, but I did watch a ton of End of the World movies and got even closer to Mr. Cage. Being a bad ass isn’t easy. We need support just like anyone else.

Since it worked out so well last year, I thought I’d try it again. So, strap yourselves in, the year ahead might have turbulence.

Jan. 1, 2013 – I ring in the New Year from my living room in Austin, Texas. This city is full of crazy drivers and I don’t want to be on the streets with any of them on NYE. Instead my sweetie and I share a bottle of champagne and watch Big Trouble in Little China.

Jan. 3, 2013 – Back to work. Sad face. I was beginning to enjoy sleeping in and wearing pajamas all day.

Jan. 8, 2013 – I start working half days. My disposition improves greatly.

Jan.11, 2013– It’s my Birthday! I go out to dinner with my friends, and see a movie.

Jan. 14, 2013 – I start going to the gym again. I am overly enthusiastic.

Jan. 15, 2013 – I am sore all day.

Jan. 25, 2013 – I remember that I got ten books for Christmas. I stop playing Angry Birds Star Wars on Facebook and begin reading.

Feb.8 – I cook a birthday dinner for my man. He is happy and thinks I am rad. We invite friends over to play Star Trek Catan. I am an awesome girlfriend.

Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day. We go to Alamo Draft House for a dinner date. We see something romantic like “A Good Day to Die Hard”.

March 16 – I have been working out for three straight months and I look & feel great. I still enjoy watching The Biggest Loser while eating hamburgers, though.

March 17 – I resume studying for my Personal Trainer certification.

April 3 – Spring time in Austin! I begin to enjoy Austin a little more every day but secretly start fantasizing about moving to Colorado, or Hawaii…

April 27 – The song “My Baby Takes the Morning Train” gets stuck in my head. Not for the first time, either. It stays there for two whole days.

May 8 – I go to the gym and get offered a job as a trainer. I say yes, and wiggle a happy wiggle.

May 22 – My boyfriend and I make mexican vanilla ice cream – from scratch. We are awesome.

June 16 – Send out Happy Anniversary cards to my friends in Prague who got married last year.

July 28 – It’s hot here. I am cranky.

August 4 – It’s still hot and I am still cranky. I realize I have been back in America for one full year. Although I miss Prague, I decide that you can’t have an adventure if you stay put. It’s good that I left.

September 12 – We get a kitten! We name him Plisskin. (What, it could happen.)

October 1 – Plissken is so adorable that I start a Tumblr about him.

October 23 – I remember that Halloween is in a couple of days and scramble to think of a costume.

October 31 – I end up staying home and watching scary movies. It’s much easier and there are no drunk frat boys. We put a tiny witch hat on Plissken.

November 1 – NaNoWriMo begins and I am off to a great start!

November 30 – I complete another National Novel Writing Month!

December 2 – I call Nick Cage to remind him how much he loves me. He says thanks, but he doesn’t have time right now.

December 3 – I decide I don’t need Nick anymore. If he doesn’t have time for me, I don’t have time for him. Plisskin gives me an idea.

December 4 – I begin watching Kurt Russell movies and walk around saying “Call me Snake…”

December 25 – Christmas Day! I leave a voicemail for Nick (it’s Christmas after all) and send Kurt a singing telegram. It’s me. Dressed as an elf. He thinks its hilarious.

December 31 – New Year’s Eve. This year we all go over to Kurt’s for some a little Star Trek Catan, and Buffy marathon. When midnight comes I am smiling, happy and covered in kisses from my fella. Happy New year everyone!

Thanksgiving Playlist

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t like Thanksgiving. For me it is nothing but overeating and sloth sprinkled with a few family fights over silly things like politics or who has to wash the heaping pile of dishes. Ugh. No thanks. This will be my first Thanksgiving in America since 2005 so I am trying to be a little more positive. I am going to bake some soft, frosted Pumpkin Spice cookies and get a new fall outfit to sooth my dampening spirit.

I am thankful for so much. I am thankful for my boyfriend who makes me happy everyday. I am thankful for my job and the cute little brats I get to hang out with and teach. I am thankful for books, music, pizza, pancakes, boots, coffee, my penguin slippers and the new warm blanket my mommie sent. I am thankful for all that I have – everyday. Here is a playlist of gratitude. Play it while you bake some pies.

  1. Little Old Wine Drinker Me – Dean Martin 
  2. The Slackers – Thank You 
  3. Beans and Cornbread – Louis Jordan 
  4. Caveman – Thankful 
  5. Homeward Bound – Simon & Garfunkel 
  6. Making Pies – Patty Griffin 
  7. We All Want To – A La Mode 
  8. Nothing Short of Thankful – The Avett Brothers 
  9. Everybody Eats When They Come to My House – Cab Calloway 
  10. Talking Turkey – Electric Six 
  11. The Long Way Home – Tom Waits 
  12. Maximum Consumption – The Kinks 
  13. Charlie Parker – Carvin’ the Bird 
  14. Eat It – “Weird Al” Yankovic 
  15. Alcohol – Bare Naked Ladies 

12 Ways to Deal with Ann Coulter

I have an ongoing list of people I’d like to punch in the face. The list ebbs and flows like the tide – sometimes it is long, sometimes it is short. Right now the list is down to one solitary person. But this person is so annoying, so totally undeserving of just one solitary punch that I thought up twelve more creative, fun ways to deal with the meanest, most repugnant woman in America.

  1. Send her away… Far away – That’s right. You wanna see what being a cute blond American woman is like NOT in America? Huh? Do ya? I think she’d look real cute wrapped up in a Burqa. I wonder how many people would pay attention to her gaping hole of a mouth if it wasn’t attached to her Barbie doll looks. Maybe if she really didn’t have rights, or physical beauty, she would start to grasp what woman’s rights are really about. Or we could just hit her in the face.
  2. Make her write a thesis on Down Syndrome and Women’s Rights – Two things she hates. Maybe if she actually knew anything about these two topics she wouldn’t be such an asshole about them.
  3. Force her to eat foodWomen like her are skinny because they survive on the souls of babies, and kitten blood. We can’t let this continue. We must force the Skeleton better known as “Ann Coulter” to eat actual food. Maybe she’ll be nicer if she eats some cake.
  4. Cage Match: Ann Coulter vs Elisabeth Hasselbeck – There is only room for one ignorant blond. Let’s make ’em fight for it. My money is Hasselbeck. She’s got experience from fighting on both Survivor and The View. Either way, it would be awesome to watch.
  5. Redirect – That’s what you are supposed to do with kids throwing temper tantrums. So maybe every time she starts acting up in an interview the host can jangle some keys in front of her or send her to “the alone spot” so she can think about her actions. I know. It doesn’t work with kids either.
  6. Tweets – Just for Her – Since you can’t take away her right to send out stupid tweets, maybe we can take out the sting. Every time she Tweets it will be followed by this sound: http://sadtrombone.com/ Try it! Here is Ann talking about taking away women’s right to vote: “If we take away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat President.  It’s sort of a pipe dream, a personal fantasy of mine.” http://sadtrombone.com/
  7. Send her to live with Honey Boo Boo – I don’t have any good reason for this. I just think it would make her totally miserable. If there is one family in the world who doesn’t give two shits about her rhetoric, it’s that family.
  8. Put her under the Brooklyn Bridge – Traditionally, trolls live under bridges.
  9. I hear The Tower of London has a vacancy… – The Tower of London is a  symbol of oppression, inflicted upon London by the new ruling elite. I think it’s a perfect spot for her.
  10. She sits in a room for hours on end listening to … 
  11. Make everyone ask for her permission before using the toilet – I swear, there is nothing more annoying than people asking for permission to use the toilet all day. By the third one you are ready to jump out a window. So, I think it would be awesome to have anyone who is in a room with Ann Coulter ask her for permission to go to the bathroom as needed. All day. Every day. In an elevator. At the Zoo. In an interview. At home. EVERYWHERE.
  12. Tell her she’s got her own TV show – But it never airs. Ever. She goes in, week after week and does a show. She has guests. She has a set. Everything is real except for the fact that it never airs. She thinks she’s out there being a hateful bitch, but in reality every one has forgotten she ever existed. Life gets just a little sunnier. The ozone layer begins to mend. People are nicer to each other, and political parties start working together. Nobody can remember why things changed, but nobody cares. Folks are just too busy getting along to care.