Tag Archives: Advice On How To Live Your Life

GoodReads, I love you

Sign up for GoodReads.com. It’s the new MySpace.

But FaceBook was the new MySpace, which was the new Friendster, which was the new AOL chatroom.

Sign up for GoodReads.com.  It’s the new sitting alone in the high school cafeteria before the internet was invented hoping everyone will notice the pretentious book you’re reading.

What am I doing with my life?

What am I doing with my life? Someone please tell me.

How to survive in a small town when you have big city ambitions

I live in a small town where I also happened to be born a baby. I love Charlottesville, Virginia, and so do many respectable magazines, but it is still a small town. When you are young and ambitious, the well of opportunity can sometimes seem to run dry. Especially when you are the type of person who sits around waiting for business proposals and dance parties to come to you. As my dreams get bigger and bigger (bestselling author, Salman Rushdie’s girlfriend, millionaire mother of fifteen, non-nailbiter. . .), I have thought a lot about the limits of small town living. So here is my survival guide for ambitious people who aren’t ready to leave their small town, but who want to be more than mayor of the local bar.

-First, decide why you are still here. Here are the wrong reasons:

a) You are neurotic about leaving your house.

b) You don’t believe you can make it in a big city.

c) You hate ethnic diversity.

d) Someone is guilting you into sticking around.

e) You are afraid of terrorist attacks.

Read More →

Everyone take the day off work and go to the library

Slate has published its diverse list of the best books of 2007. The list includes some poetry, some foreskin, some Denis Johnson, and some good germs. The end of the year is approaching so we’re going to be seeing a lot of best-of lists, but I like this one because it’s not devoted wholly to novels. I like to balance out my fiction with true tales of female circumcision. We have a lot of reading to do, people.

Scientific America article on raising smart kids

This Scientific American article hits really close to home because lately I feel like a lazy kid with more learned helpless than intrinsically motivated behaviors. When I read the article, I was waking up from a two-hour afternoon power nap. Instead of arising from the couch with the dream-inspired plot for my next novel, I arose with a need to surf the internet. Luckily the StumbleUpon gods had a life lesson in store for me. I think I have been putting too much stock in being innately talented or innately not talented and not enough stock in trying to be better. I mean yes, I’m a genius, but even geniuses have to stay awake for more than three hours at a stretch in order to accomplish anything.

The Scientific American website summarizes the article’s key concepts so I don’t have to:

Many people assume that superior intelligence or ability is a key to success. But more than three decades of research shows that an overemphasis on intellect or talent—and the implication that such traits are innate and fixed—leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unmotivated to learn.

Teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, produces high achievers in school and in life.

Parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in children by praising them for their effort or persistence (rather than for their intelligence), by telling success stories that emphasize hard work and love of learning, and by teaching them about the brain as a learning machine.

From now on I will try to focus on effort rather than on being a terrible writer or a good writer. I will also stop telling little kids that they were born stupid and/or they should just give up, and focus instead on complimenting their determination to finish three-piece puzzles.

Holiday Gifting Guide Part 1

1) If you live in Charlottesville, I suggest that you attend the Robot Wares & Record Fair at the Satellite Ballroom on Sunday, December 2nd. These girl and boy vendors sell their original crafts and artwork at low prices and all the money earned stays in the local economy. Some of it goes to poor, indie-rock babies in need of new ironic t-shirts.

2) If your friends and family don’t say things like, “It’s not a real gift if it didn’t cost you anything,” then visit this website for simple giving ideas.

3) Etsy.com. Here is the site where you can buy handmade, one-of-a-kind gifts from artisans all over American. It’s somewhat overwhelming to navigate the millions of products, so expect to spend an hour or so browsing. You can find some cool stuff. I liked these napkins and these pot holders for instance. Unfortunately I already own napkins and potholders. My friend Diana sells her original jewelry on the site, and she’ll have a small presence at the Satellite’s Record Fair as well.

4) If your friends and family don’t say things like, “A can of live worms does not constitute a Christmas present,” then visit the OxFam online store and buy someone a goat.

5) Soon the Perfect Flavor customized ice cream store in Waynesboro will be open. Get your dry ice ready! Lynsie’s ice cream is made with all local, organic ingredients. No eels.

6) Another indie shopping site.

7) The EWG gift bag.

8 ) Attend the “Second Annual Holiday Home Show” with Little Tree Press, By Cary, and eight other talented local artists.

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9) It’s always a good idea to pay off someone else’s credit card bill. Especially when it’s mine.

10) I think websites make good gifts. If you are tech savvy, you can buy someone a URL and then install a WordPress blog for him or her. Maybe a Mimbo! I am trying to buy a URL for my little brother so he can start his thermal underpants company, but every URL he picked was already a porn site.

11) A year’s supply of toilet paper. Is anyone else sick of buying toilet paper? Is there an alternative? The toilet paper shopping never ends.

I am running out of ideas. Let’s make this Part 1 of the Holiday Gifting Guide.  Please write with suggestions or self promotion.

Charitable Christmas gift

The Environmental Working Group is offering a superior gift bag equipped with a chemical-free water bottle and a cast iron pan for a charitable donation of $135. Get the bags while supplies last.

PS Did anyone else hear that Toys “R” Us accidentally printed an ad for Aqua Dots in their annual Christmas newspaper insert?

I cannot wait for the NPR Fresh Air website to be updated!

They won’t post today’s program until 6 p.m.! It’s so near and yet so far! I feel like I’m waiting to take Terry Gross’s virginity!

I am anxiously awaiting the online broadcast of Terry’s interview with Mark Shapiro, a reporter who has written a book called Exposed that investigates the prevalence of toxic chemicals in America. I only heard about ten minutes of the show when it was on this afternoon, when he very sheepishly admitted to being a smoker. He gave Terry a great interview though. He spent a lot of time comparing the American government’s regulation of toxic chemicals (whenever I say “toxic chemicals” I think of the Joker in Batman) to the European Union’s. Europe is so progressive on this issue, and the rest of the world is taking note. In a few years foreign countries will be exporting all their mercury, lead, flame retardant, and phthalate-laden electronics and toys to Americans, while they are sitting pretty on their organic sofas watching televisions made out of unbleached yarn.

Shapiro said there were two main reasons why the industrial lobby in the European Union has been so weak compared to the cosmetics/chemical manufacturer lobby in the US, which has effectively prevented the public from knowing what toxins they’re exposed to everyday. Shapiro said that:

a) In Europe, corporations aren’t allowed to give campaign contributions, and;

b) In Europe, the government pays for health care. How interesting! The European Union actually has an investment in keeping its people healthy, whereas in America we pay privately for health care. Who gives two shits if we all get sick in ten years from toxic chemicals (Batman?)? We’ll pay out of our own pocket for the medical nightmare and the cosmetic companies will still be rich and stuck in their benighted ways.

Whoa…this Diet Doctor Pepper is making me wild. It’s probably full of cancer! Somebody help me get off my soapbox and stop using exclamation points!
My show’s almost on!

The Satellite Ballroom’s Robot Wares & Record Fair

I am thrilled to announce the return of the Satellite Ballroom’s most outstanding event of the year (after, of course, last week’s Slightly Stoopid show):


For those of you with superior taste who have lived in Charlottesville for a couple years, you may remember this as THE shopping and music event of the holiday season. Last year I bought homemade manatee stationary while listening to Sarah White and drinking mimosas. Patrick Critzer sold curry, Thomas Dean sold silk-screened t-shirts, Junkyardoll sold vintage clothes, and a good time was had by all. I hope that everyone comes out to the Satellite Ballroom this year to support Charlottesville’s best vendors, craftspersons, and artists. I swear to blog that you will end up finding some kickass Christmas presents there.

The fair is on the afternoon of December 2nd. Let me know if you want to help organize or publicize the event, or if you need information on how to reserve your own table and make tons of cash money.

See this movie

Autism: The Musical

It’s a documentary about a woman in California who starts a performance art company for autistic children. The kids are incredible–they’re superstars–and as much as you feel sorry for the parents who have to give up their former lives for their high maintenance children, you’re also sort of jealous that they get to co-habitate with such cool little people.  The kids have to overcome so many behavioral and neurological obstacles just to be seen. It’s a really moving, funny, and fascinating piece of work.

The film reminded me a little of How’s Your News?, a1999 documentary directed by the writer Arthur Bradford. It’s about a mentally challenged news team that drives across the country, interviewing strangers.

I love humans sometimes. We’re all pretty great in our own way.  God bless those who catch us being great on film.

By the way if someone wants to shoot a movie about my daily struggle to stop devouring leftover Halloween candy, please write. I only ask that you make me endearing and sympathetic to the end viewer. I will also need my own trailer and a wardrobe consultant.