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Baby, You’re Never Gonna to be Ready

Wherever you’re at right now, you’re not ready.

You’re not ready for the reality of your situation. You’re not ready for the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that’s inevitable if you decide to take a swing at this thing. You’re not ready for another pile of cat vomit directly underneath your right foot. You’re not ready to lose. And you’re sure as hell not ready to win.

You’re not ready to fall on your face or spend hours thinking about how it could have all gone differently. You’re also not ready to get what you want because you’re afraid of those snarky messages from the people you call friends who think you don’t deserve it. You’re not ready to tell your mom. Or him. Or her.

You’re. Not. Ready.

Congratulations. Welcome to the rest of humanity because no one else is fucking ready, either.

That’s because being ready is bullshit.

You can be prepared. Do your homework, learn your lines, study-up, know your shit and be completely fed up with the status quo.

But you’re never ready for the feeling that comes as you step up to take the swing.

So what if, instead of focusing on being ready, you focused on being alive?

Because the feelings you have right now — the stress and the fear and the worry and the <fill this blank in with dumb feeling shit that doesn’t make you feel good> — are making you dead inside.

You’re so worried about being ready that you’re forgetting to live.

I’ve spent the past two weeks of my life getting ready for a 5-minute audition I had yesterday. I had voice lessons, walked around my neighborhood singing like a crazy person while walking my dogs, sang in my car with a guitar track on repeat, and…well, let’s just say that I was more than stressed. Why? Because I’d never sung in front of people before. Ever. Except for this one line I had in this musical number in a show not a lot of people went to a few years ago and I basically just yelled it on-key so volume made up for the talent gap, y’know?

And I was going to be walking into a room with three people in it:

  • A guy who created a hit TV series you’ve all heard of who was writing this new musical
  • A guy who wrote the songs for the show who was sitting at the Grammys a week ago, as a nominee
  • The casting director, who got my name on referral from a friend (a friend who stands to look like an asshole if I’m a total shit show)

No pressure at all, right?

I had a great session with my voice coach on Sunday morning and I felt good about my music. Then, I had two and a half days to remind myself what a piece of shit I was and who the hell was I to walk into that room with those people in it and let anything powered by air come out of my mouth?

I was anything but ready. But then, I did something that sounds completely silly. I listened to a meditation from a smart lady named Amy Jo Berman (she ran casting at HBO for over a decade) while I was on the treadmill yesterday morning and she said something to the effect of:

“What if today, you decided to have an adventure? What if this was fun? And what if the people you met today are playmates, and you could play like you did when you were a kid?”

And a lightbulb went off in my head.

Holy shit. I’d completely forgotten, in this entire process, to have fun.

So for the rest of the day yesterday, I had an adventure. I came home and ditched what I had totally fussed over to wear to the audition. I put on my wavy Texas hair (which I love), my Corral cowboy boots, skipped the bra and said, “Yeah — this is me.” I got in the car, drove to the audition, sat in the waiting area, the casting director came out and said, “Hi Erika!” because she recognized me from Facebook, and when she called me into that room I wasn’t ready.

I wasn’t ready at all.

But I was going to have fun, do ME, and have a goddamned adventure. 

And I did.

I did a monologue I love, cranked out an a cappella version of Bobby McGee that made Grammy guy whip out his guitar and play along with me, and sang his song. They said thank you and I left.

Because you know what I got to do yesterday? I got to sing a song by a dude who was at the Grammys as a nominee — with him playing the guitar for me.

I got to sing in front of people and no one died. Most importantly, me.

I got to do something I’d never done before, for people I’d never met before.

And I wasn’t ready to do any of that.

And I’m sure as hell not ready to do it all again. But I would in an instant.

Because I don’t know what I sounded like in that room, but all of ’em bopped along, heads bobbing, as I sang Bobby and I could go over all of it and give you a list of 34 ways I could have been more ready.

But seriously. To hell with being ready. I want the adventure. The fun. I want to play and remember what it was like when I gave less of a fuck about what people thought about what I do and who I am. I want less focus on ready in my life and more on heart and soul, and the ability I have to put all of me into something.

And knowing ME isn’t pretty and it’s pretty much a mess. But it’s a damn fine mess when I get my hair all did and put the boots I love so much on my size 8 feet and can walk into a joint in my own skin.

You’re not ready. You never will be. And neither will I.

But you can damn well be prepared, let all the bullshit go, and have some fun. Figure out what it was like when you felt happy all those decades ago. The moments you believed you were a lady astronaut on the moon and the kid next door was driving (yeah, driving) the lunar module. When you were a ballerina scientist who developed a new kind of ballet shoes, even though they were just scotch tape and some cardboard and it took a week to get the adhesive off your feet. When you were a country music star and you could see the audience of 20,000 through the floodlights on the stage just enough to remember that they were there for you.

Baby, you’ll never be ready. But there are things in life worth a whole lot more than being ready.

And what would your life look like if you put your energy there instead of where you’ve been putting it?

OR

So, while some of you already saw this over on Facebook, here’s a little Janis Joplin for you. I thought she was my spirit animal until I remember she dies of a heroin overdose. Which prompted me to get a new spirit animal. But she helps me be a more OUT LOUD version of me. Thanks for that, Janis. I wasn’t ready to record this. But I did. And it was fun.

(Oh, and stalk me on Instagram at @erikadnapo if you’re not already.)

(If you’re reading this via email and the Instagram video didn’t come through, click right here.)

 

A little Janis for an unseasonably sunny fuckin’ day in Chicago.

A post shared by Erika Napoletano (@erikadnapo) on

The Consequences of Starting

I have all of these ideas in my head.

Things I want to do. Try. Actually, they’re more than just ideas. Ideas are worth fuckall. I have shit I actually want to get done. Shit that inspires me and I know I can totally DO if I would just get said shit out of my head and into the universe.

But I’m afraid to start. There. I said it. I’m afraid to start the thing. Maybe that’s surprising for you to read coming from me — the one who advocates hitting the Fuck It button and just doing the damn thing already. The one who’s ever-so-comfortable telling clients to get out of their comfort zones because nothing awesome ever happened there.

But I go through life with a metric ass ton of fear as of late — and a lot of it has to do with starting things.

I’m afraid to start ALL THE THINGS because starting has consequences.

Accountability, for one. If I pressed play on these impulses I have, I’ve given birth to obligation.

Obligation to nurture. If I push this thing out of my brain and into the world, I can’t just leave it crying on the sidewalk. It needs care. To suckle at the teat of my soul. It needs my heart and mind and my time — jesus. My time, as if I have any to give even though we all know we make time for what’s important. If I start this thing, I can’t tell it that I’m too busy to help it grow into everything it can be. I have to take care of it to the point of launch, the point where it’s self-sustaining enough to turn over to others and find out if it has legs strong enough to walk, much less run.

And then, there’s another consequence: outcome.

If I actually do these things in my head, there’s going to be an outcome. While all these impulses are in my head, they’re safe. There’s nothing except the scenarios my imagination has conjured up over two dirty martinis and the cigarette I wish I could smoke but can’t bring myself to actually light.

If I start, something and then take care of it to the point where it has legs and I let it run for itself…

It could explode from the starting gate and leap like a gazelle over hurdle number one…and catch the toe of the left shoe on the top edge of the hurdle, sending it face-down on the track in front of millions of viewers. Embarrassment. Total mortification. Ruin.

And yeah, I know it could clear the hurdle and win the gold.

But there are consequences to success, too. I could realize that I’m just an Idea Person and don’t want to be married to this thing I’ve launched. Then, I’d have to find a new impulse to keep me busy and happy and then the thing I’ve created could turn into total shit in someone else’s hands. Or, I could find myself wrapped up in keeping this success a success and then come the internet comments about my tits and how I can’t write and stupid fucking woman and this thing is a giant piece of shit and she’s fat and just because I launched something I’m fair game for insults and judgement and every shitty comment about my life and choices ever and maybe I’m just not that strong.

And then there’s the consequence of never having having started. Where I’m stuck, as ZeFrank says, in the place between zero and one feeling like I feel every day. Feeling as if I’m on the verge and waiting for permission. As if I’m waiting for the phone to ring with The Thing and finding out the damn thing has been on silent all day and I’ve missed 9 calls and no one’s left a voicemail.

Feeling like I do, right now, writing this after not having written in what seems like a very long time.

Feeling as if I did it. And I didn’t know I was doing it. Starting something, that is. Pressing play. The biggest consequence that comes with starting something is the regret of never having started it in the first place.

When you can’t start dating because you’re afraid of having your heart broken.

When you can’t start writing because you’re afraid it’s just going to be a piece of shit before you’ve written word one.

When you can’t start leaving because you’re more afraid of the uncertainty of leaving than you are of the unhappiness in your status quo.

When you can’t start loving because you’re afraid of letting someone see the parts of yourself you think are unlovable.

When you can’t start creating because the voices who hate what you haven’t even made are louder than the ones telling you to take a swing and see what happens.

Because life is messy and if I start something, I have to say that I’m okay with the messy consequences of my messy ideas-turned-impulses and not always having the answers or knowing how it’s all going to turn out and THAT is one huge fucking mess and there’s no housekeeper for who can get that creative stain out of my soul’s carpet.

But if I’m brave enough to start, I just might realize that I fell face first into an unexpected consequence — one far more rewarding than the track against my face in front of a million people.

I just might find that a consequence of having started is connecting with one heart in this world who was also afraid to start something. And together, for no matter how long, we can find the courage to start the next thing — long after this thing has decided whether it’ll walk, run, or fall on its face.

or,

Choosing Between Who You Love and What You Love

That’s one hell of a subject line, isn’t it?

While I was in NYC top of January, I sat down with Jonathan Fields to record an episode of his podcast, The Good Life Project. I’d been on before — back when he was doing video interviews (remember this hair and those 10lbs I needed to lose?).

We talked about making big choices.

Why I do what I do. How I got here. How I used to build theatrical scenery in Virginia and pull cable through AT&T central offices and install fiber optic bays for a living.

And all of it got me here.

So today, I’m happy to share with you the episode we recorded.

If you’re reading this via email, you can click here to listen.

Otherwise, have a listen while you’re on the train, cleaning the house, or just sitting around STUCK about what to do next.

Choices — we all have them. They vary in size, shape, depth, and severity. But never forget that we have them.

And as humans, we’re wired to make the safe ones.

I’ve been working on making better ones instead.
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Hard Truth 221: Normal is a Place in Illinois, Not a Goal

 

This post originated on my Facebook page (Are you hanging out with us there? It’s a mighty fine group of folks.) — and it deserved to be its own Hard Truth. So I elaborated where necessary and cut shit out that didn’t belong.

*****

On a New Years Eve, I thought I’d share a bit of me…with you.

Over the past eight years of building this brand, I’ve  become the “fuck” girl. If it says fuck, people send it to me. Little did I know that my appreciation for this highly versatile word would bring me…well…the desire to no longer be the “fuck” girl.

I’ve been sent a link to a “sweary coloring book” more times than I can count.

People apparently think I need to read everything that Mark Manson writes. He’s a savvy follow, eloquent as hell, and one of the few blogs I actually subscribe to. Rest assured, I do read what he writes. I just don’t need to be sent a link every time he publishes. I’ve read it, I promise (winky face).

The “enunciate and swear like a fucking lady” t-shirt and mug are at ad nauseam levels in my inbox and Facebook wall.

This poster? Well, I own it. It used to be on my wall. Used to be. It’s a bit too fucky for me these days.

I completely adore the word “fuck,” make no bones about it — but it’s not the only word I know.

And it’s not how I feel about everything.

I used to be someone who said fuck a lot of things. Fuck people who don’t like me, who don’t like what I do, who don’t like what I think, and especially fuck doing things you don’t necessarily like doing.

Y’know. Fuck all those things. Fuck all those people.

But much of that distribution of fucks came from anger. Mostly at myself. I wasn’t living the life that I wanted to be living.

I was doing shit I was GOOD at instead of shit I LOVED and WANTED to be doing. I was doing mostly shit I hated and little I loved.

And I saw people who were doing amazing shit and I thought that shit wasn’t for me.

It made me really angry. It’s the kind of anger you get when you look around your life and think that good only happens to people not named YOU. That no matter how you bust your ass, you’re still going to be standing behind the door when awesome is doled-out. That every day is a fight against an unknown enemy, leaving you the world heavyweight champion of shadowboxing, yet you still feel like you’re suffering a knockout in every round.

Angry. And the bitch about anger is that we usually don’t know it when we’re that kind of angry. So you stay angry and maybe you get to a place like the one I’m in today where you’re able to look back and go, “Jesus on toast — I was super fucking angry.”

So all that anger made me say fuck all those things and fuck all those people.

I understand why I’ve become the “fuck” girl.

Because I was threatened. I was threatened by the simple fact that these people doing all sorts of amazing had a confidence I did not and might never have.

Getting Un-Angry

I stayed angry from roughly 2010 until early 2012 — from when Jason died until I realized I wanted to keep living. When I actively made the choice to stick around on Planet Earth, I realized that I had to lighten my load. I couldn’t keep walking around with everything I’d been carrying.

So, that envy — that jealousy and fear and intimidation I felt towards all of those people doing amazing shit — dissipated. Envy will eat you from the inside out if you keep feeding it. I got a fucking therapist and started dealing with shit.

My crazy, my pain, every thought and feeling I felt I didn’t have permission to feel. Well, every thought and feeling from back then. God knows, I still have a shitload of thoughts and feelings but at least now, I have clearly labeled tupperware bins to put them in.

I was angry at my life. The life I was living was my fault. And it was also my choice.

So, if I had a choice, why not make another one? The next choice. A different choice from the one I’d been making over and over and fucking over and over again…

Instead of telling myself that there was a life I couldn’t have, I turned that statement inside out:

What if there’s a life I could be living instead of the one I wake up to every day?

And I dared to try.

And through my income being cut in a third, moving away from a place I thought I’d always call home, turning down work I don’t want to be doing anymore, and then taking some work I found I enjoyed — I’ve found a path to doing work I love.

Creating. Writing, performing, directing, producing — y’know, doing work that embraces my crazy instead of hating the fact that my life wasn’t normal. Y’know — normal like everyone else’s.

And it’s taught me a lot about all those things and people I used to think can go fuck themselves.

On Doing Shit I Don’t Like, but Need to be Doing (formerly “fuck that shit”)

We all take work we need to be doing when in the pursuit of what it is we want to be doing. It pays for shit like the mortgage and rent and Christmas presents for our families and a squeaky toy for your pup and a little stupid something that puts a smile on your love’s face at the moment they least expect it. Work we need to be doing buys the spontaneous soft serve from McDonald’s on a 90-something degree day when you swore you’d never give them a dime and it also puts money in the bank so you can leave a job you hate when you find one you love that pays a bit more but doesn’t start for 3 more weeks.

Stupid advisors will tell you to stop doing shit in your business cold turkey that pays your light bill. Smart advisors will help you realize what you want to be doing in your business and help you build the business of the future (not the business for tomorrow).

I do what I need to do if and only if it ultimately serves me doing what I love.

On the People Who Hate Me (formerly “fuck those people”)

Since the day I landed on this planet, people have hated me. Most for pretty stupid reasons — but I’ve hated people, too. For equally stupid reasons. It takes a lot of energy to hate and a mind is a rare thing to be changed if it’s not ready.

So it’s nice to know — and accept — I’m not going to change that. People are going to hate me. It’s cool. I just don’t have enough energy to deal with those people AND the people who love me and whom I love.

It’s really one or the other and I’ve made my choice.

On No Longer Being the “Fuck” Girl

I started this post by saying I wish I hadn’t become the “fuck” girl. Every message and product with this amazing four-lettered gift to the English language isn’t “my thing.”

Both are still true. But I do have fucks to give — I just spend them more wisely as fucks are a precious currency.

All my fucks these days are for Fuck Yeah.

Fuck Yeah is about LOVE.

If I’m spending my energy on fuck that or fuck yous (except fuck you, yoga and fuck you, sink), then I have less to give my Fuck Yeahs.

This life I’m living — including all of the bullshit and amazing and weird and ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! and cat vomit and love and loss and day-to-day just getting by — is amazing. And not too many years ago (four, to be exact), I almost hit the ultimate Fuck It button. The one you don’t come back from. Eject on life, goodbye cruel world, a note to friends and family and a sad shelter pet story for two dogs and two cats.

I’m so very glad I did not.

Because Fuck Yeah.

Because if I had, I wouldn’t be sitting here telling you I found Fuck Yeah and I’d have left you with nothing but fuck that and fuck you.

But I love this and you and life and all of the bullshit so fucking much it makes my heart burst.

So in 2016, be on the lookout. There’s a whole lot of Fuck Yeah coming your way from ME. And no, that doesn’t mean less swearing (seriously?), less funny (because life is fucking hilarious), or fewer opinions you might not agree with. I have a lot of opinions (just like you).

It means HONESTY — because it’s the ultimate Fuck Yeah in a world where too many people think that fuck this and fuck you gets you what you want.

They get you something, that’s for sure, and I got it. Oh boy, did I get it.

And it sure as hell wasn’t what I wanted.

Finding Your Fuck Yeah for the New Year

So maybe as you look to the year ahead, you’ll find YOUR Fuck Yeah. And yes, as Clark Kent would say, the “new year” is merely a demarcation point on an antiquated calendar…another day sandwiched between two other days truly no different than any other single day.

But if you’re going to pick a day to say farewell to fuck you and fuck that, I think the turning of the New Year is a fine day for such. Resolutions fail because our thoughts and behavior don’t align for the long haul.

Maybe this year you’ll find the resolve to transform a thought to transform your life. Or a life, even if it’s not yours.

Fuck Yeah, family.

Fuck Yeah, my business.

Fuck Yeah, my love.

Fuck Yeah, that book.

Fuck Yeah, standing up for myself.

Fuck Yeah, falling in love with your YOU.

Fuck Yeah, a puppy.

Fuck yeah, my first house.

Fuck Yeah, I love her/him.

Fuck Yeah, another day. Another BEAUTIFUL DAY I can go through as this gloriously fucked up human being I am, surrounded by other gloriously fucked up human beings like you.

And I can’t do any of that if I’m worried about being normal.

Leaving Normal Behind

At 43, I can look back and say that I’ve spent a great deal of my life in pursuit of a life that I thought was normal. Family, kids, the right job, a published book, an online course that people download that will fundamentally change lives for a scant $497 because everyone has one so I should, too.

Normal is a place in Illinois, not a goal. Not even the people who live in Normal are normal. They just pay taxes there.

I can stop trying to be perfect. I can stop wishing for normal. Because I’ll never be either.

So Fuck Yeah, Fucked Up Me. You’re a sexy beast. And you’re going to do amazing things with all that energy you used to spend on trying to be perfect and normal.

Oh, and fuck “normal.” If I’m going to say fuck that to anything, it’s being normal. My pursuit of it has done nothing but fuck me.

Happy day sandwiched between two other days on the calendar, my loves. Flip the calendar. Your life is waiting — and the only thing it’s waiting on…

is you.

See you in 2016. Happily.

or

f normal

Hard Truth 219: Because a Part of Me Will Always Believe I’m a Piece of Shit

It’s always funny to me when I look at the MailChimp report for people who have unsubscribed from my blog.

The most common? No response.

The next most common? Some iteration of the following:

RedheadWriting used to have this edge and a real fuck-you to it. You’ve gotten soft since you moved to Chicago and the whole lovey-dovey thing doesn’t do anything for me.

Your wit used to be acerbic and I miss that. Now it’s all help-this and help-that. I don’t need a self-help book.

You kinda became boring when you fell in love.

Those are actual responses.

Which leads me to today’s hard truth: and that’s there’s a part of me that will always believe I’m a piece of shit.

A complete and totally unlovable piece of shit.

That no matter what I do, it’s wrong.

That by sharing my heart, I’m an asshole somehow.

That by realizing that there was a better way to be living than the way I was living, somehow I turn out to be the cunt in this whole karmic equation.

That by using the word “cunt,” I hate women. (I’ve been told this. I’ve also been told that kissing would get me pregnant and Mark Zuckerberg would send me some shared of Facebook for sharing a status update.)

By simply daring to have an opinion and putting it out there and someone didn’t like it and decided to stop by to tell me I should just kill myself already (happened, more than once), I’m a total waste of cosmic space.

I recently wrote about why I bother to continue writing when I occasionally get metric fucktons of shit for the stuff that comes out of my keyboard.. Mostly, it’s because I can’t not write.

But the woman powering this blog of eight years has a bit of a self-esteem problem.

A bit. Not as much as I used to. But today, let me take you on a journey that shares a bit more about me than anyone who’s followed this blog for three or eight years has probably ever known — because it’s all the reason why there’s a part of me that will always believe I’m a piece of shit.

I grew up on comedy. Red Skelton, Bob Hope, and when I was old enough (or rather, when we got cable), Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor (holy hell, only when my parents weren’t home), and Eddie Murphy.

I grew up surrounded by people laughing at people who made us laugh…at other people.

And let’s be honest — some people are laugh-atable. Yes, that’s a word.

And the thing I’ve always wanted most was to make people laugh because there’s nothing I liked more about growing up than the sheer delight of laughing at these amazing stand up comedy specials.

You’ll be hard pressed to convince me, though, that great comedy comes from a place other than great pain.

So to find comedy, you start looking in the darkest places — the places where the things people don’t talk about live.

Like your heart and soul.

Because on top of much humor coming from the depths of darkness, we’re taught from an early age how to not take a compliment.

That self-deprecation is a desirable trait.

And today, there’s still amazing humor that comes from watching a master comedian, screenwriter, or playwright take us on a journey where Everyman or Everywoman struggles against their greatest enemy: their own selves.

So now, we’ve got a passport filled with stamps from The Dark Places of the Heart and Soul coupled with a Master’s Degree in Self-Deprecation.

This is how I lived for 30-some-odd years. Finding the humor in the shit no one wanted to talk about, about others and occasionally, about myself.

We laugh at the mentally ill person on the subway. We ignore the homeless person asking for money. We cackle and share the images from People of Walmart (no link provided for a reason).

Because we’re better. And it’s easier to laugh than it is to admit that if we didn’t find a way to laugh, we’d drop a live toaster into a full bathtub and scrub-a-dub-zap. We have to convince ourselves we’re better and that we made it out of somewhere these other people didn’t make it out of.

All these years, I’ve played around with different ways to laugh and what I laugh at.

And 43 years later, I’ve found what makes me laugh the most: the person I used to be and the person I struggle to become.

And that’s why a part of me will always think I’m a piece of shit.

When you spend a life in pursuit of laughter, you find some dark-ass shit along the way. And some of that dark-ass shit belongs to you.

Because Fuck You, Yoga. It’s funny because it happened and there’s a part of me that thinks no one but a piece of shit could lose two yoga mats in four hours. It’s funny because I think of everything that had to go wrong in order for it to be possible to even tell that story.

It’s funny because it’s human and it’s my dark-ass shit and if I couldn’t laugh about it, I would cry and everyone loves a crier.

Losing Your Sht

We’ve all got some dark-ass shit floating around in our lives.

The problem with the dark-ass shit, though is that most days, I think I’m the only one who has it. That I’m the only one who’s fucked up. That I’m the only one who’s lost something, missed something, almost had something, been hurt by someone, and otherwise ended up on the ass-end of the universe’s pogo stick.

And when we start to feel alone in our dark-ass shit, we start to think that we’re a piece of shit. Unworthy of good. Unworthy of kindness. Unworthy of love. Unworthy of happiness.

And so, we keep laughing (if we can).

And at 43 years, I’ll tell you how I get through the darkness of those piece of shit days:

I look at who I was five years ago and ask myself who I like better — me today or me then.

The answer is always, without fail, me today.

Because me today has been through some dark-ass shit and has lived to tell the tale.

Me today has succeeded more than she’s fucked up (evidenced by my ability to write this blog post my damn self instead of sending you a message from the great beyond, post-toaster-and-tub incident).

Me today fell enough in love with herself that she found a man who fell in love with her brand of weird. We live in weird together because he’s a weird-ass dude with some dark-ass shit of his own. Every now and then, we bump into one another’s dark-ass shit and we deal with it. Together.

And what I like to think is that the people who have stuck around this joint all this time have journeyed through their own dark-ass shit. We’re kind of a collective filled with assorted and sundry types of dark-ass shit.

And this place, it’s a safe place for you — and me — to lose our shit. And I know I write using a lot of “ands” and it gives me a great level of anxiety sometimes which is totally fucking weird because who sits there at their dining room table at 8:14am and worries about how many fucking “ands” they’re using and where?

Me. That’s who.

So — yes. There is always a part of me that will think I’m a bit of a piece of shit.

But I’m not as big a piece of shit as I used to be — back when I wrote at the expense of others, powered by anger and needing to shove others down in order to raise myself up.

And for anyone who misses that version of my piece of shit self — that’s what the unsubscribe button is for.

This place — it’s a nice place to lose our shit, together. And your dark-ass shit is always safe with me.

or for the SFW crowd

Hard Truth 218: The Best Hug I Got in 2015

Every day when I’m walking home from the train, I pass my neighborhood market.

She’s there.

She stands outside the doors, selling StreetWise magazine. It’s a Chicago-based venture where those who are homeless can buy this magazine for $1 and sell it for 2, keeping the profits or using the profits to go back and buy the next week’s edition for sale. In all honesty, it’s an absolutely terrible bit of journalism, but what it does is support someone who is paving the road from homeless and jobless to entrepreneurial and hopefully, homed.

She always has the sweetest smile on her face. “Would you like to help the homeless today?” I can’t imagine how many times she says this each day.

And I’ve never bought a magazine from her.

Today’s hard truth is about asking, “What else?” because there’s always a next — and better — question.

I’m ashamed this morning to say that I don’t know her name.

But every time I see her, I go ask her, “Do you need anything from inside today?”

And her eyes light up.

There’s always a pause before she says, “Really!?”

Yes, really.

And some days it’s rice. Others, it’s cooking oil. Sometimes she asks for cut up chicken, “Wings or legs, whatever’s cheaper.”

So I buy whatever she asks for. And a few things she doesn’t.

Yesterday, it was brisk and windy so I waved and smiled at her as I ducked into the store. I filled my hand basket with the few things I needed and grabbed a package of chicken legs and some rice as well. I had the cashier bag it separately. Then I walked out and handed her the bag.

Her eyes got wide. “What’s this?!”

I said, it’s for you.

She looked in the bag and this massive grin came over her entire face. “Oh, my — you know my favorites!”

And she hugged me.

the best hugs

And it’s the best hug I’ve gotten in all of 2015.

The best hugs is the world are powered by selfless ZEAL –a willingness to squeeze the shit out of someone because it’s the only way you know to share the gratitude bubbling over in your heart. And that’s what I got. It was a great fucking hug.

I told her that whenever she sees me, I’ll be happy to get her anything she needs. She just has to ask. And even if she’s busy and can’t ask, I’ll still get her something.

And today, I’m going to go back by there and bring her an extra down coat of mine. Because yes, I have one I hardly wear in my first-world, highly privileged life.

Because there’s always the next question to ask. And today, I’m going to ask her her name.

It’s the little things, you know. The one more thing we can do. For our clients, our customers, a stranger. Our lover, a kid, or parent.

The one thing that takes so little effort. And all it takes to deliver that one little thing…

is a question.

Because people, I think, just want to be seen as people. And that they matter.

Because they do matter. Just like you matter.

And it’s a shitty world we live in that we’re reminded of these things once a year at a time called the holidays.

So, what will you ask today — that one NEXT question?

“What’s your name?” for the woman who stands outside your market.

“How big was it?” for the nephew who doesn’t stop talking the minute he walks in the door and hasn’t shut up for 2 hours when he’s telling you about the dinosaur that was living in his backyard last week.

“What’s that like?” when Uncle Bob is telling you about the intricacies of ice fishing when you can’t imagine a greater hell.

“How are you doing — and don’t lie to me” for a person who recently lost his spouse of 46 years and tells everyone he’s FINE.

“How are you spending the holidays?” to the server who’s been nothing but chipper to you and your family on a totally slammed night filled with tables full of tourists who don’t tip?

Because maybe in return, karma will come around and someone will ask you that one question that makes you feel SEEN today.

OR