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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Please Don't Feel Sorry For Me

“Teenage girls, please don’t worry about being super popular in high school, or being the best actress in high school, or the best athlete. Not only do people not care about any of that the second you graduate, but when you get older, if you reference your successes in high school too much, it actually makes you look kind of pitiful, like some babbling old Tennessee Williams character with nothing else going on in her current life. What I’ve noticed is that almost no one who was a big star in high school is also big star later in life. For us overlooked kids, it’s so wonderfully fair.”
Hey guys, it's me. I took a break from the endless run of books starring very flawed people who do very flawed things and no marriage is happy and no child loves their mother and read Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

It was a treat, you guys. A treat I deserved because I'm worth it. And don't think for one second that I'm diminishing what Kaling has done here. In her own words: “This book will take you two days to read. Did you even see the cover? It’s mostly pink. If you’re reading this book every night for months, something is not right.” It doesn't all have to be literature, folks.

I've never really read these kinds of books. I like comedy, and I like a lot of comedians, but usually when they come out with a book I assume it's some kind of necessary rite of passage on one's career path that I could skip, no problem. Then I remind myself how many comic books I read. And then I remind myself what a dreary world this place can be if we don't read some jokes now and then.

Did you guys know that a lot of people are mourning right now? People I know closely, also people I hardly know, but still understand what it's like to lose a loved one. I don't know about you guys, but there's a lot of sadness surrounding me right now, though not directly affecting me aside from the pains of empathy when I watch loved ones suffer. People are scared, or sad, or despondent, and it is just hitting me really hard right now.

Listen, this is a pretty good spot to be in, all told. Like, I had this terrible day in the field yesterday. Hiking horrible terrain, ran out of food, ran out of water, sunburned, tired, light-headed. Just the pits. The weather was OK, that's about all I have to say about it that wasn't garbage. It wasn't even that pretty of a place.

Look at this bullcrap

At one point I thought I was almost finished and realized no, I actually had several hours to go. I got so mad. Like shouting swear words at nobody mad. Mad enough that having a great-horned owl land close to me and just hanging out didn't help. Mad enough that I barely appreciated the baby hummingbird chilling out by my brightly colored flagging tape.

But flash-forward to that evening, when I'd showered, eaten, changed into comfy clothes, and taken some Tylenol. Aside from lingering shoulder pain from my pack, things were pretty good. Yet the people I know who were suffering that morning were still suffering that evening.

I was lucky enough that every one of my problems could be solved with food, hot water, comfort, and medicine (and a backrub). Which was all readily available in my house. That's a pretty good spot to be in, actually.

Anyway, back to Mindy Kaling and her refreshingly funny book. I just love her. Before I read her book, I liked her. Mostly I knew her from The Office. But getting a little more time in that head of hers was really nice and pleasant and I can't wait to read her next book.
“Why didn’t you talk about whether women are funny or not?

I just felt that by commenting on that in any real way, it would be tacit approval of it as a legitimate debate, which it isn’t.”

What if we all had a book? And we could tell our stories and what was going on in our heads when we messed up and how hard we worked for the accomplishments other people seem to think we didn't earn? Where we were sometimes tough and sometimes vulnerable and worried about the future. What if when you meet someone new and think, this is someone I would like to know better and they handed you a book, like a business card, and said this is me. Understand me. What if we understood each other?