The second entry in my wild ride through women’s glossy mags at Revolt Daily. This one deals with Cosmopolitan thinking they should educate the masses on BDSM…
The second entry in my wild ride through women’s glossy mags at Revolt Daily. This one deals with Cosmopolitan thinking they should educate the masses on BDSM…
My new column at SYW!
My friends and family know me as the one person in America who gives a flying fuck about pro-cycling. They also know me as a hardcore supporter of Lance Armstrong. What this means is that whenever there is a cycling scandal, they come to me to dish, and whenever Lance is in the news, they come to me for my thoughts with concern in their voices.
Yesterday I discovered that HusBANG! did, in fact, know that Lance Armstrong was scheduled to be on Oprah this week and was rumored to be planning to confess to doping, but hadn’t brought it up because… well… I assume because he was hoping I somehow didn’t hear about it, and maybe wouldn’t ever. I am certain that whatever happens on Thursday (or rather today, when they are filming) I will have friends asking me for my thoughts, and here’s the truth:
I don’t really want to talk about it.
If the rumors are true and Lance Armstrong admits to doping, lying, large scale coverups, and conspiracy– I’ll feel like an idiot. I’ll feel I’ve been lied to. I’ll feel really silly for defending him time and time again. But mostly, I will feel the loss of a personal hero. Someone I look up to and admire.
One might argue that I am a little too old to look to sports stars as heroes. One might be right. But I don’t admire Armstrong for winning a lot of bike races. I became aware of Armstrong along with the rest of America, but I became a hardcore fan sometime after– when my life was bleak, when the odds seemed insurmountable, when I felt like I may as well just stop trying all together– and then there was Lance Armstrong. Record breaking athlete that was never supposed to live long enough to win a single Tour De France, let alone seven. A man who took that success and poured it into a foundation meant to help others dealing with cancer find support, community, and the optimism he sometimes credits for saving his life. A man, who was seemingly persecuted for nothing more than being better at his sport than a lot of other people.
I related to him on levels that are hard to explain to anyone who wasn’t me during this time. I felt inspired by him. So maybe I am too old to have heroes, but it worked for me at the time.
If that is taken from me, I am sure people will come to either give condolences or to rub my face in it. I am sure people will want to know how it felt, because I’m the only person they know that cares so much.
But I won’t want to talk about it.
It may seem overdramatic, it may not even compute with people who don’t have “heroes” in the public eye–but I will need time to grieve quietly and privately. I will need time to feel like a fucking idiot all by myself.
And if Lance is going on Oprah for some publicity stunt, if the rumors aren’t true…
I probably still won’t want to talk about it. Because let’s be honest, that’s kind of a dick move. As pro-cycling becomes more about figuring out who doped, and who gets the title after it is stripped from someone else, it is harder for me to enjoy it, or even bother to follow it. I’ve seen a lot of cyclists I followed fall into disgrace as part of the drug culture in the sport, and I just feel like I can see much more interesting depictions of druggies by reading Irvine Welsh.
You are not special. You are not activists, or even “hacktivists”. You’re assholes.
Activism usually implies that there is some greater goal, that you believe what you are doing will help people, perhaps “make the world a better place.” The last few major acts of so-called hacktivists haven’t made an understandable point. What they have done is put regular people in bad places.
When a member of Anonymous took down GoDaddy today, he/she didn’t just fuck GoDaddy up. Small businesses and freelancers got fucked up. They are missing a full day’s worth or sales and/or work. My own website is admittedly, not that important in the scheme of things, but it’s down. Several sites that publish and/or sell work by indie authors are down. Regular people are losing money on this, and if you are a small business owner or freelancer, you know how much one day’s earnings matter.
And the reason? Well, the tweet explaining it verged on illiterate, but it came down to “testing” the safety of cybersecurity. Seriously?! Look, if my front window is single pane glass, I know it isn’t bullet proof–so don’t claim you did a drive by to test the safety of my window. Anyone with a brain realizes the internet isn’t safe.
Many people have complained that GoDaddy should have had better security, and I suppose that is a valid complaint, but let’s remember that the last high profile hack was reportedly the FBI. It sounds to me like this member of Anonymous did it because he could.
Well, I could go around punching unexpecting people in the face. I could steal candy from the locally owned convenience store. I could kick puppies. I don’t because I’m not a fucking dick. And that’s what it comes down to, “hacktivists”, you’re not changing the world, you’re not special–you’re just a dick.
Last night I went to bed the same old me I’ve been for approximately twenty-eight years. Or at least the same old me I’ve been for the last ten. I mean, I’ve changed in that time, but I’m always me. The difference last night, was that I knew when I awoke, things would change.
And change they did. I awoke and I was a published fiction writer. Oh, I’ve been published. You can check some of my credits out on the main site. I’ve done “professional blogging” and I have an essay out there in this great big world–but my heart, my love, my fiction–usually just sat around.
So the question is, does it feel any different? And the reality is…it doesn’t quite. I still woke up feeling like I would die without coffee, I still had all the same tattoos and no new ones, I still needed my glasses to see properly. What’s different, I guess, is much like a wild animal, once I’ve tasted blood I must have more.
Since I received the email saying my story would be published (you can read it here on page 18) I’ve been thinking about how long it took. I realized something important. It didn’t take long at all. See, it feels like it took a lifetime. I’ve been writing ALL MY LIFE. But submitting? I’ve been submitting fiction for the last few months. I wonder if I am lucky. I just had the right story at the right place at the right time, or if the reality is, if you are aggressive, you’ll find success.
Once I started submitting, I dipped a toe in. I submitted one story to about three different places. Then I talked to writers I admire and found out that they often have over 30 pending submissions. So I took three stories I really loved, and went to work on Duotrope, researching to find the best places to send them. I papered the digital world with these stories. I got a lot of rejection letters. I mean, stacks. But it only took a few months. Not years. I guess I can thank the internet for making it that easy to send out forty-something submissions in a few days.
I guess what I am saying is, while it is hard to get three or four rejections in the same day, it’s better than taking a year and a half to see any fruit from your labors. And I’m saying, if you’re a writer, get a Duotrope account (it is free). And that’s really my only advice because I still don’t feel like I have any idea what I am doing. I’m holding hands with writers and authors that are always willing to help, workshop, and give advice–and tell me, “suck it up, Buttercup” when I am worried about submitting. So maybe that’s my advice–find some cool people who know what they’re doing and ask a lot of questions. Having a partner that “gets it” is important, too.
And this all feels really silly. Me giving advice. But I’m stoked, and I wanted to share my excitement in a way that wasn’t just “LOOKITME LOOKITME!”
But seriously: LOOKITME!
Last night, very late, I published the latest Books And Booze podcast, so this morning I logged into Twitter to let my followers know. I glanced over the trending topics and noticed “Colorado Shooting” and “Columbine” trending, which I thought was odd, so I clicked.
The tweets featured gave me a basic idea of what had happened. I felt my heart sink and a general sense of “oh shit” come over me. Then I noticed a tweet mentioning the infant that was injured in the massacre–the person was upset that the infant was even there. I felt a moment’s rage–how is this even relevant? People are dead, those parents are likely thanking whatever they believe in that their infant survived. But it is easy enough to brush off a single sentiment from a single person on the internet.
By noon, I think I was ready to write off humanity entirely. Why? Because everyone seemed to be using this horrifying tragedy to push their personal agendas. Pro-gun people went on about how if more people were armed the man could have been stopped. Anti-gun people went on about how dangerous guns are. People in favor of universal healthcare used this as an example of why everyone needs mental health coverage. More about infants in movie theaters. More and more and more.
And I have to ask–when did the victims of this horrible crime stop being human beings?
I am sure the people posting about this thought they were doing something at least partially selfless. I am not judging their hearts on an individual basis, but I am disgusted by how this unfolded. Can we not allow the 12 dead to make it to the funeral parlor before we start viewing them as vehicles for our political beliefs? Can those survived have a moment to process everything that happened to them before we forget that they were actual human beings that had been through a real terror and neglect to mention them AT ALL when posting/talking about this event?
The political response, of course, is to proclaim that if your personal belief were held by all/put into law, that this would never have happened. The human response is to feel empathy for those who were involved. To think of the terror the survivors are likely still living in. To think of the family and friends of those who were brutally killed.
I am not special in any kind of way that really matters in this situation. I hold some of my socio-political beliefs very close to my heart. But I do like to think that I am more than those socio-political beliefs. I like to think that I am a human being before I am a member of an advocacy group, a political party, or a religion. I am so outraged right now it is hard to lay out what I really want to say, and at the same time I feel a little guilty for being outraged at these people when, in fact, there are people suffering because of this shooting in Colorado, and that’s the only reason I have something to be outraged over.
I know it’s an election year, and politicians like to make us believe the “other guy” is going to do the opposite of what we want. The other guy is going to take away our right to bear arms, or he is the one who is going to make sure every whack job in the country has a gun. He’s going to make our country unsafe in this way or that. Your religious freedom is at risk. Your freedom to be without religion is at risk. Everything is at risk! But it’s bullshit. It’s political bullshit. What happened in Colorado last night was incredibly real. People lost their lives. Others were terrorized.
So please, from the bottom of my heart, can we see these people as people, at least for a little while? Like everyone else in the country I have opinions on religion’s role in government, gun rights, and universal healthcare, but those opinions mean fuck-all to the grieving families left behind and those who likely still haven’t slept since being shot at in a crowded movie theater.
Just once this election year, can we try to be human beings first?
By now, many of you have probably read the New York Times blog “The Busy Trap” by Tim Kreider. It’s been blowing up Facebook and Twitter and is “the most e-mailed” NYT blog post. Most people seem to just love it (if you haven’t, you can read it HERE).
Tim Kreider is a cartoonist and essayist of some success. He has book credits, a regular feature on The Opinionator (New York Times) and several other credits many writers would kill for. He argues that being busy is a “self imposed trap”, and goes on to tell us that he has found success while writing for four or five hours a day, riding his bike, and catching up with friends. Hey, good for Tim Kreider, right? But he’s an asshole, and I’m going to tell you why.
Either he got very, very lucky and broke into the business very quickly, or he worked his fucking ass off. There is no in between in the creative world–there is blood, sweat and tears and there are overnight successes (though most “overnighters” will tell you that it only appears that way, and they put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears). Those of us in creative industries (like the artist friend he mentions who lives in Paris now, and is like, totally relaxed) know we have to work our asses off. One of the things Kreider admonishes us against is “work obligations”. Work? We should…not work so much? He also decries being “driven” and feeling like we “could do better”. Do I need to comment on why being driven and wanting better for yourself is a good thing?
Work less. I don’t even know what that means. I’m being honest. I work my ass off daily in hopes that someday a place like the New York Times will look at me with a moment’s interest. I’d love to have a book out. So…I’m fucking busy. The time I am not writing, working on a project, or networking, I am thinking about those things, or, you know, doing laundry. Us writer-types wear clothes, too. Busy means progress. Busy means I am not sitting around waiting for my dreams to come true. I’m working. I’m saying “yes” to the opportunities that knock, and yes, I am scheduling friends in, because they are kind enough, and care enough about me to want to see me succeed.
It’s not just us creative types, either. I have some friends, a married couple, who run a business in the Los Angeles area, for most that would be “busy enough”. Not them. They volunteer, they network constantly, they are involved in everything from animal rights to their local Chamber of Commerce. I have to schedule visits about a month in advance. By Kreider’s op-essay, they should be “cranky”, “dead on their feet”, “sad”. But they are happy. They are making a difference in their community, and probably brining more business to the company they work so hard to make successful. And here’s another secret–they meet people they like while doing these things. They have fun.
So, what does Kreider say to that? Did he really just wake up one morning and have the money and influence to write a few hours a day and then go do…whatever? I doubt it. If he did, then he isn’t a hypocrite, just unqualified to comment.
So, the question, I guess, is why are so many people yelling “AMEN!” to Kreider’s essay? My theory? I think we all look for reasons to dial down. Writers are infamous for getting on the net to “research” and ending up on Facebook or googling funny pictures. We say “I wrote for five hours yesterday, I’m not going to write today.” And that’s fine, it’s part of who we are (writers and non-writers alike) but we can’t forget that those people we look up to, the Lance Armstrongs, Stephen Kings, and yes, even Tim Kreiders, got to where they are because they spent a lot of time being relentlessly busy. Thankfully, most of them haven’t forgotten that. They will tell you to put the work in, make sacrifices, work your ass off. They won’t tell you to do the minimum amount of work to stay afloat (because most of us aren’t floating where we’d like to be) then go take a leisurely bike ride around the city.
In fact, most writers I know, that entertain any level of success, work harder than anyone I’ve ever met. The people who are in their thirties and working the jobs they’ve always wanted, making decent money and enjoying their life–work harder than everyone else. It’s a fact. And, there’s laundry. There’s dishes. There’s family. For most of us, there’s a day job, too.
Kreider seems to have forgotten how much work goes into gaining the life he leads. It’s kind of sad. He should be proud of working his ass off to get to a point where he can work the way he claims to. If he’s happy with where he’s at, nothing is stopping him from enjoying the privileged lifestyle so many of us would love to have.
I agree with Kreider on one point–busy-ness is self imposed. It’s what people do when they want to be great. Not good. Not moderately successful–great.
So I plan on staying busy. I hope my friends with dreams do, as well.
I’ve been working pretty hard on this Books and Booze thing, and last night was no exception. I had planned to post my response to “The Busy Trap” article that’s been making rounds, but worked too much last night and today is a holiday! Going to kick back and relax, then watch controlled explosions. Look for the real blog tomorrow. In the meantime….
SURPRISE STEVE BUSCEMI! The best kind of Steve Buscemi.
Umm…so I forgot to write a blog for today. I had the best of intentions before going to Hollywood to see my friend’s band at Bar Sinister, then…well, everything is sort of a blur after that. Two things you should know: 1) I am a lightweight 2) They pour very heavy at Bar Sinister. Secret third tip: don’t get into a car directly after your last drink if you are a lightweight and have had several heavily poured drinks.
So, after four hours of sleep and a day of realizing how old I actually am, I didn’t write a blog. It’s not you–it’s me. On to business. Monday should be Music Mondays, right? Okay.
Daybreak Ends. Got to see them on Saturday and in addition to the joy that is reuniting with an old friend over drinks, they were amazing. I grew up in small, dimly lit clubs listening to local punk rock. It was beautiful (as we’ve discussed) but with everything beautiful, there are always people who want to destroy it. All the punk venues got smashed. Enter the metal underground. Oh, it existed prior to all the punk venues getting shut down, I just didn’t know it. I went on a several year metal binge, hanging out with some of the hardest bands in the Central Valley, and it was good. Underground metal is a really special thing, there is an undeniable energy to the mish mash of heavy bass, screaming, and melodic singing. Daybreak Ends captures all of that, and adds ten years more skill than any band I saw back in the Central Valley.
I highly suggest checking them out. I suggest it so much, I got the bassist, Josh Chastain, to agree to join us on Books And Booze for our inaugural episode. So click the links in the blog and get ready to get to know them better in a couple weeks!
We’re launching http://www.reneeasherpickup.com and hoping to make the blog a big part of the RAsherPick experience. Check back here for my rants, ramblings, news, and reviews of books and music.