How to Define Yourself

My writing mentor (even though we’ve never met or talked), Augusten Burroughs, writes some pretty wonderful advice about love and life and everything in-between. In his book, “This is How,” he gave his readers some insightful advice: Who you are is made up of multiple things, but you do not have to define yourself with any of them. In essence, labels are straight-up bullshit. You label yourself.

This is not a quote. In fact, I cannot find an actual quote of what specifically this book taught me (I highly recommend it, obviously). Anyway, I want to hash out that idea here.

Assume all quotations in this piece are by Augusten Burroughs.

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10 Things You Learn When You Think You’re Going to Die

A few months ago (and I’m still not really sure how this whole Mystery Illness is going to turn out), I admit it, I thought I was going to straight up die. I thought I was going to die slowly, in a hospital somewhere, with no diagnosis, probably alone in Los Angeles. I never really thought enough about dying alone to be afraid of it. It didn’t make much sense to me. Who cares? No one really knows what dying is like anyway – what’s the difference if you’re with someone or alone? Feeling deep inside that you may be dying brings about certain truths

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How to be Poor in a Rich City

You’re poor. No matter what type of poor, you don’t have excess money. Perhaps you spend more money commuting to your job than you make at your job. Perhaps you just graduated from college and you’re scrimping on your puny little savings, mad at the world. How could the world that promised you so much offer you so little? Yeah, you’re not alone. Maybe you joke about being poor. Maybe you never use the word. Maybe you have a laptop and a car and a smartphone so you couldn’t be poor, right? Listen, you don’t have to admit anything. You’re just reading this post out of curiosity. It’s cool.

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Accepting the Unknown

 

After traveling to different places and constantly shifting gears to change with the locations and people I’m surrounded by, I can’t help but get a little depressed every time I must leave to take on a new adventure, despite the excitement that comes with it. I fill my head with questions such as “Will I ever be back here” and “When I come back, will anything be the same? Will the same people be alive? Will I be able to visit the same places?”

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The Quarter-Life Crisis

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I’m sure you’ve all heard of the bleak and dreaded Mid-Life Crisis.  Legend says, once you hit your mid-forty’s to mid-fifty’s you start thinking about impending death, how half of your life is over, and how it’s all an uphill struggle from here.  Common symptoms include buying a toupee and/or a new car, a psychological sign that you’re either trying to make yourself feel better or you need to make up for the lost time you spent at a dead-end job or raising your high school drop out children.  I could talk all day about this, but I’ve never experienced it, and that’s not why I’m here.  I’m talking about the Quarter-Life Crisis.

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The Girl with the Ice Cream

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I came home from a day filled with good and bad things.  I had a great time with friends, learned a lot from visiting museums, and even found a cool restaurant!  I saw a movie, argued with my brother, and had to deal with my mom trying to convince me to “work harder” to get back together with my boyfriend ex-boyfriend.  It still just doesn’t seem right.  It still feels like it never even happened (not the relationship, but the breaking up part).

Anyway, I got on my computer and started my nightly Internet perusal.  I got out some Pirate’s Booty and some crispy seaweed as snacks.  I got bored of those after awhile and switched to chocolate ice cream topped with peanut butter.  The sweet, chocolatey taste made my taste buds zing and it was exactly what I needed to end my day.

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