Datin’ Without Hatin’ — Return of SM’s Dating Advice Column! Inspired by the Godawful Relationship Writing on “The Flash”!

Well, hi there! I know, it’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, let alone this column. But I am not gone! I am still here!

 

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And I’m still capable of advising you on how best to live your life, because I’m definitely not an internet hermit to whom it makes no difference that I’m snowed in on a Sunday because it wasn’t like I was planning to go outside anyway. Nope, that’s definitely not me right now.

Anyhow, I was inspired to write a post lambasting some of the horrendous relationship choices made by the writers on The Flash this season, specifically one particular section of dialogue from the most recent episode.

If you’ve never seen The Flash, don’t worry, I shall explain:

Barry Allen is the Flash. He can run super duper fast. He thus became a superhero and fights all sorts of supernatural threats that regular cops can’t deal with.

This season, he met a lady cop named Patty. Patty is awesome and they start dating, but Barry never tells her anything whatsoever about being the Flash or about the supernatural threats that are endangering her, even though Patty is on the special police task force specifically established to deal with supernatural threats. 

He constantly flakes on her, backs out of plans without explanation, lies to her about everything from his whereabouts to his emotional needs, etc, all because he refuses to tell her anything she needs to know, even though this is constantly putting her in danger because she lacks the critical information necessary to protect herself.

Girls, boys, and others — this is SUPER unhealthy. But my even bigger issue came this past episode, when Patty finally confronts him about his behavior. How does she do it?

“Look, I have been a really cool girlfriend, okay? Most girls wouldn’t have the self-esteem to deal with [begins to list numerous ways in which Barry is a lousy boyfriend].”

This line…this line…I don’t even have the words to explain how much I despise this line.

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You want to know why many girls put up with lousy boyfriends? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not because of self-esteem.

Usually, it is literally the opposite.

We put up with lousy partners, negligent partners, abusive partners — and why? Because we don’t think we deserve better. We think that our emotional needs aren’t worthy of attention. Because we think that making our needs and desires known will make us “uncool” or “clingy” or “demanding” or “shrewish” or, god forbid, “nagging.” This goes for all genders, fyi, but I do think that there are extra complications for women because there is SO MUCH societal pressure on women and girls to be nice and polite and sweet and accommodating and “cool” in a low maintenance way.

Note that “shrewish” and “nag” are used almost exclusively to describe undesirable behavior in women. Note that Patty equated her silence with being “a cool girlfriend.” Note that on other occasions, she prefaces perfectly reasonable requests with, “You know I don’t want to nag, that’s not who I am.” The fear of being considered a nag can be so intense that we frequently shut up about what we want or need in an effort to just be “cool.”

I speak from experience, as someone who dated a lousy boyfriend, years ago, and put up with all the flakiness, the cancelled plans, the broken promises, the constant “compromises” that weren’t compromises because they just amounted to me giving in to what he wanted.

I thought those things made me a good girlfriend. I thought that I was being nice, that I was being strong and not giving in to insecurity, that I was being generous and understanding. Because I did understand that, say, he was tired and didn’t want to hang out, or that he canceled on my birthday because he was feeling really anxious about a lot of things so we skyped instead, or that it made more sense for me to travel an hour and a half to see him on certain days because he had class until noon and if he had to travel to me after class ended, we’d have less time to hang out.

All of these things individually were understandable, but they piled up, skewing the reciprocity, so that I was giving, giving, giving, and he was taking, taking, taking. And when I did try to say that it felt unfair or that I needed something from him in return, he would call me “clingy” or “demanding,” and I would be appalled at myself and shut down my needs, and concentrate on just giving more and being better.

It was not because of self-esteem.

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I haven’t forgotten that this is a dating advice column. So here’s my advice:

To girls, because we’re socialized to be pushovers (but this can of course be applicable to other genders as well): Speak up about what you need. Don’t be ashamed of it, don’t repress it, don’t be afraid that it makes you naggy and clingy and undesirable. If it’s something that you honestly think you would willingly do for your partner, it’s not too much to ask. And if your partner is repeatedly unwilling or unable to meet or respect your needs, walk away. You will be better off.

To boys, because it’s not your fault but you’re probably not aware of just how much girls are socialized to accommodate others: If you feel like you screwed up, but the girl says, “it’s okay” or “don’t worry about it” — don’t always take it at face value. Sometimes it is okay, for sure, don’t get me wrong. Like when I walk into a guy’s place and he’s all, “sorry about the mess” and I’m all, “pffft, whatever, don’t worry about it,” I genuinely mean that, because messes genuinely do not bother me. And if it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon canceled plan. But if it’s a fairly big no-no, like canceling on her birthday, or if it’s a pattern, be mindful of that. There is so much pressure on us girls to just be okay with everything that sometimes we stay silent when we should speak up. So just in case, try to make it up to her sometimes. Nothing flashy, just “I know you said x was okay, but I felt weird about it, so I did y, or I got you z, or I made q plans” — just something.

And please, for the love of god, do not call her “clingy” or “naggy” or “demanding” or any of that stuff. They are all ways of saying, “your needs are not important,” and if she believes you, and starts believing that, the psychological damage is enormous. Believe me.

If her needs or desires genuinely do overwhelm you and you can’t meet them, either because what she wants is truly outlandish or because you personally are not equipped to handle it, that relationship is probably not the best fit for either of you, and you should probably end it.

 

I know all of this is general and oversimplified and each individual relationship comes with its own calculations, but overall, I think these are important to keep in mind, along with the most vital piece of advice I can give you: Don’t listen to the Flash writers about dating. Just don’t.

 

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Like this post? I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you, wonderful reader, that my GoFundMe campaign is still open —http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive. The proceeds no longer go toward automotive school tuition, because I have paid off my loan in full, but you can still commission me to write anything you want. You can force me to watch ANYTHING and review it for you. Anything. Real-Housewives-of-Atlanta-kind-of-anything. Hit me with your best shot.

#ThrowbackThursday — My College Application Essays (and Reflections on Outgrowing Yourself)

My mother’s gmail account was giving her trouble yesterday, telling her she’s reached her storage quota (which is absurd, because we both have 15 GB of storage and I apparently have 500,000 emails and she has about 25,000, and yet I’ve only used up 50% of my storage quota, but whatever, GOOGLE *shakes fist*) so we went back to her oldest emails and set about the Massive Deletion of 2015 (soon to be a major motion picture), and stumbled across my college application essays from 2008, which I had her forward to me before she deleted them.

I’d been in Israel for the year at the time, so I was sending drafts of the essays across the world to my parents for approval, and for desperate advice on what to cut, because for one of them, I’d written an 800-word colossus for a 500-word max. I never did get it down to 500 words, but fortunately the text box on the application site measured in characters, not words, and I slaughtered those characters like I was George R. R. Martin and got it under the limit. Phew.

I don’t have that character-limited final draft; it wasn’t in the emails we found, and my AOL account from those days has long since sealed me out. But what you have here is the original first draft in all its 800-word glory, with a couple of content revisions borrowed from a second draft. I don’t remember what the topic was, but think generic “what struggles have you overcome and what heartwarming lessons have you learned etc.”

* * *

There’s a lot to write about writing. Most of it’s already been written; in fact, there’s a whole bookshelf full of books about writing books in the Barnes & Noble store ten minutes from my house [Edit from the future: that store no longer exists 😦 ]. Characters, literary theory, viewpoint, plot, setting, novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, read-aloud, Braille — you name it, they’ve got a book on how to do it. Probably more than one. I like to sit in the aisle facing that bookcase when I’m writing, but I’ve never taken a book off the shelf. Why?

Writing is personal. At its best, it is an extension of self; at its most penetrating, it is life experience, given a manifest, accessible form. That can be taught far more effectively through the writing process itself than from a book, no matter how well written or instructive. Writing is personal, and it’s the best teacher I’ve ever had.

Lesson #1: “Nothing good comes easy.” Sure, you might catch a few breaks along the way; nobody said it was impossible. Your brother may come home with a flyer from school that advertises a Young Adult Writers Colony for the summer of 2005, guaranteeing publication of any novel completed during the group-centered eight-week program. You may frantically rewrite the first fifteen pages of the novel you started in fifth grade, and then luck out when the program’s organizers like what they see. You may even receive a dizzying stroke of good fortune when illness nearly disqualifies you from the Colony and instead of being sent away, you are set up to work one-on-one with a terrifically insightful volunteer editor, who guides you all the way to the finish. All you have to do then is wait, and the novel is eventually published in an anthology in 2007. Sounds like a piece of cake, no? A published novelist at age seventeen? Where’s the difficulty in that?

Ah, but there’s that other lesson, the one best phrased by the playwright Lillian Hellman: “Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped.” All through the years that I was writing in elementary school, all the feedback I got came from my best friends who read as I wrote and always loved every bit of it. My own personal crew of yes-men. Encouraging, yes. Helpful? Not so much. But help came with the program. “I’m thinking ‘plausibility’ here,” my editor, Chris, would often gently say when I proposed an outlandish explanation my friends would have lapped up. He taught me to troubleshoot the issues with the manuscript stemming from a fifth grader’s mindset, and together we ironed out the kinks until the published version could legitimately be called “moderately implausible” instead of “implausibly implausible.”

But that was only the beginning.

Last lesson learned, and learned the hard way: “Life’s not fair.” Neither is publishing. Being published doesn’t mean you’ll be read. Being finished does not mean you’re done. Having “nothing wrong” with a novel is not good enough. It’s just not. After seeing how hard it was to persuade people other than my closest friends to buy an entire anthology just to read my book, I set about trying to land a literary agent who would market my novel individually. I sent query letters to various agents and awaited their replies. This process is inherently unfair: a query letter is essentially your whole novel condensed into one paragraph, and yet that one paragraph should still somehow be indicative of your writing style. If you want to catch an agent’s eye, a completely different skill set from novel-writing is needed, in addition to a lot of luck. Rejections came pouring in — my total may presently be as high as fifty — but a handful of agents were intrigued. This sparked the most intense stage of revision I have yet encountered: six months of scrapping entire sections and rewriting them from scratch, prioritizing, sacrificing, and compromising. There’s a lot of a neat stuff in that old draft, and at least two really good jokes that I know I’ll never get back, but the narrative itself was strengthened and the characters enhanced. However, in the end, the agent whose detailed suggestions had prompted this major overhaul apologetically passed on the project. That hurt. So I suspended agent-hunting for a couple of months, then started anew. Signs from the latest interested agent are good, but there are no guarantees.

My writing has taught me that life should be labeled: “WARNING! Frustration and failure come standard.” I know I have a good book; a professional agent spent six months of her time and free editorial advice on it. The finished product simply wasn’t right for her contacts in the industry at the time. That’s the way it goes. The publishing world contains only a miniscule sample of the outside forces steering the tide in the real world, so I know I’m in for many more disappointments as I grow up. But as long as I stay flexible and don’t expect everything to always be fair and easy, I have the confidence to handle any challenge that comes my way. Bring it on.

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This second essay is a hilarious load of garbage, and I’m not just saying that in hindsight — I knew it was garbage at the time that I wrote it. But it wasn’t entirely my fault, because the topic was garbage: “Imagine yourself graduating from our program, four years from now. How have you grown, what have you gained, etc.”

When I was venting to a friend that I honestly have no idea where I’ll be in 4 years so how could I possibly write this stupid essay, she replied, “I don’t know how to say this, but — don’t be afraid to lie?” Hence the beautiful bs you are about to read.
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To paraphrase Douglas Adams: The world is a mind-bogglingly huge place. It is big and chaotic and, worst of all, there is so much in it. So much to experience, so much to learn, so much culture to absorb, news to track, people to meet, plays to see, books to read, books to write…I remember how I couldn’t wait to get in the thick of it. Fresh from my year in Israel, my identity solidifying by the day, I arrived at Macaulay Honors College ready for anything, and I was not disappointed.

I’ve always known that the best, most insightful writers draw on experience, not simply imagination or cold knowledge. The latter two help, but the deeper the well of experience, the greater and more nuanced the writing becomes. No matter how imaginative or well-read I was as an 18-year-old, there is only so much experience a Queens-dwelling, yeshiva-attending, orthodox rabbi’s daughter can have, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing–not all experiences are good ones–but it is limiting.

After four years in a program that exposes me to numerous cultural elements and a widely varied student body, I have been able to broaden my scope, re-awaken forgotten interests, and most vitally, grasp new aspects of topics ranging from theater to archaeology to civil rights. Every piece contributes to my understanding of the world and my strength as a writer, not to mention my growth as a human being.

All I knew for certain upon my arrival was that I wanted to major in Creative Writing. What I would do with it, whether it could be a viable career–I had hopes, but much remained to be seen. Now, four years later, I have complete confidence that I can do whatever I want with my writing, thanks largely to the mind-boggling hugeness of the world, or more specifically, of New York City and the unparalleled access granted to me by the Honors program.

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LOL at that conclusion. Talk about telling colleges what they want to hear regardless of actual factual facts.

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Looking back, I know I represented myself as someone who wanted to write for a living, because that sounds good, it sounds focused. It sounds much better than, “eh, who the hell knows.”

I don’t remember if at the time I was still genuinely interested in making a career out of writing, or if I just wanted to get this one novel republished and see what happened. I know I was still writing the sequels at the time and had hopes of finishing the series. But I also knew that a lot of what I’d written was awful and would need to be completely overhauled, and I didn’t really want to do that. I didn’t really care THAT much. But I couldn’t actually say that to anyone, because that’s shocking and scandalous makes you sound like a lazy bum who can’t finish what she starts.

People seem to have a tough time understanding why you would do so much of something and then decide you don’t want to do it anymore. But this has now happened to me enough times for me to know that no, doing something a lot is EXACTLY what you need in order to evaluate whether you want to keep doing it. To be able to say, “I know exactly what this entails, and I can do it, but I don’t like it enough, I don’t want it enough, and I don’t believe in it enough to keep subjecting myself to that.”

It’s true of friendships, of careers, of relationships, of hobbies. You aren’t bound forever by what you once wanted. You’re allowed to outgrow it. You’re allowed to let go.

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I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you, wonderful reader, that my GoFundMe campaign is still open — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive. The proceeds no longer go toward automotive school tuition, because I have paid off my loan in full, but you can still commission me to write anything you want. You can force me to watch ANYTHING and review it for you. Anything. Real-Housewives-of-Atlanta-kind-of-anything. Hit me with your best shot.

#ThrowbackThursday — Untitled

This is VERY different from a usual Throwback Thursday post. It’s not from a previous Facebook note, blog post, or even radio segment. This is from a personal email I sent once, to a boyfriend. It’s probably also in a file somewhere on my computer — when I start having stress about a relationship, I start a file with the guy’s name on it where I write out my feelings. Sometimes I send them or parts of them to the guy (like this one), sometimes I don’t because it would only compound whatever the problem is, because it’s unfixable and I just need an outlet so I don’t explode. I have probably a half dozen files titled with various boys’ names floating around my computer, accumulated in the past 3 years or so that I’ve been dating. Some of them have many, many entries, some have only one or two. Some haven’t been opened in years; one was just created recently.

But I decided I wanted to post this email (editing out certain personal information pertaining to people who are not me) because it seems that I have a number of friends embarking on new relationships and new relationships are terrifying, especially when your previous dating/relationship experience has been crummy, and this email did a pretty good job encapsulating some of the many complicated emotions of that roller coaster.

It’s from November 11, 2012.

 

 

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“I’ve been having a lot of thinky thoughts about us.

What I keep circling back to is this line from the movie trailer of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” — Emma Watson’s character says: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” And I think that was always [insert name of another ex who has his own file on my computer]’s problem – I loved him so much more than he felt he deserved, and he couldn’t accept it and pulled away.

And now there’s you, and you’re crazy about me in ways I don’t think he ever was, and even though I’m supposed to be the one with the ego and the confidence and everything, I think on some fundamental level I feel like I don’t deserve this insanely high opinion you have of me. In a perverse way, I was more comfortable being treated worse because I know I’m not perfect so I didn’t deserve to be treated perfectly all the time. It’s like, you’re the exact kind of person I need, someone who appreciates all these things about me that other people never quite get, so you can’t possibly be real; things like that just don’t happen. So all these walls come up to insulate me and protect me from getting too attached because my brain is sure this can’t last.

What I can tell you is: I really enjoy spending time with you. I think you’re an incredible person and I don’t understand how you were still single when I met you. I really like that you’re honest about how you feel about me even when it puts you in a vulnerable position. I have to admit that I do get a little uncomfortable or pressured whenever you say something or look at me in a way that reminds me that your feelings for me right now are stronger than the ones I have for you, but that’s only because I want to reciprocate so badly and I don’t know how yet and I get scared that I won’t be able to and that I’ll hurt you and hurt myself by ruining something amazing.

I feel like there’s also this perverse instinct that we humans have, where we most want the things that we can’t have, and since you’ve made it abundantly clear that I could definitely have you if I wanted, that instinct doesn’t kick in. So I don’t have that superficial kind of “want,” and I have to build up a real, serious emotional connection instead if I want this to work.

And I think it’s pretty clear that the only way to figure these things out is to be patient and give it more time, which I of course absolutely intend to do. I just want to continue in our tradition of hot emotional honesty and make sure I keep you informed on exactly where I stand.

SM”

 

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Like my thinky thoughts? You can commission more of them via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — or subscribe on the sidebar, and thanks for reading! You can also buy me tools from this Wishlist but really I just like money.

 

#FlashbackFriday — “Why I Write”

I wanted to post something a little more positive than the downers I’ve been tossing up here lately. This is nice post. *pets post*

Original post was a Facebook note from October 14th 2013.

 

Why I Write

 

I always find it funny — at least, ironic-funny if not haha-funny — when people say, “Wow, you write a lot of notes.” Funny because I always feel like, if anything, I don’t write enough.

Obviously I use notes way more than anyone else I know on Facebook, enough to know exactly what glitches there are and exactly how many people I can tag, and as my friends tell me, “It’s because you use Facebook notes as your blog.” But of course if I were a real blogger, I’d write a lot more than I do, or at least a lot more often.

I don’t even write a note once a week. Facebook says I have 92 notes (this is the 93rd), and that’s from about 4 years worth of postings. That’s not even 25 a year, and it’s not like all of them are hugely substantial — I have at various points posted songs (finished and unfinished), poems, fiction excerpts, school papers, my undergrad thesis (which will tell you why I write fiction, which is separate from why I write personal essays), and even once a longish status update that was just a bit too long for Facebook’s old accommodations. So maybe I’d consider around 50 of 93 to be legitimate posts. So like 13 a year of those. Barely more than one a month. Really not a lot.

My dad likes to tease me and mock the kinds of stuff I write: “I have a mole on my left shoulder — you’d never see it or know it’s there, but here I am going to tell you all about it and my complicated emotional history with it!” Ha ha. Like that’s not trivializing or demeaning at all. But this is how my dad expresses affection — he’s like me: mock and joke in person; be a lot more genuine in writing — so I try not to get too worked up about it. (Also I can unfriend him or block him anytime I want, so there, Abba. 🙂 )

The fact is, if I wrote about the things that everyone can already see, there wouldn’t be much to say. The point of writing is to communicate. If I am communicating something you already know, then what exactly have I done? As Neil Gaiman put it in his first Doctor Who episode, people are so much bigger on the inside. There are a lot of things people might think of you from seeing you on the outside. Life is a constant struggle to get people to look past those impressions and to see you, really see you. At least, my life is. I wouldn’t know about yours. Unless you decide to tell me, of course. Or write about it.

I can’t tell you exactly why I write each individual piece I write; there isn’t one reason I can tap into, which is why my posts are irregular and I can go months without posting or have 3 in the span of two weeks. But often the times I feel compelled to write are when I’ve been somewhere or done something where my insides do not align with my outsides and I need to restore my equilibrium and make those parts of myself visible somehow. So I turn myself inside out and spill my guts into writing and post it. And it helps.

Honestly, sometimes I don’t know why I feel compelled to write and post some of the things I post. Sometimes I just have THOUGHTS, and I’m not really sure anyone would want to read them or anyone would care. I know that our social media and Twitter-driven generation is derided for thinking that our every thought is worth documenting and disseminating to the whole wide world, and I don’t always think that what I write in these notes is any more than that, and that I am only adding to the infinite, exponentially growing word dump that is the internet.

So you have thoughts. So does everyone. So what.

It does suck to feel like that, since my thoughts are one of the only things I value about myself. They’re the only things that make me different, that make me not-you. Because you are already you, so if I were you too, what would be the point of me existing? (Did those pronouns track properly? I hope so.) I don’t want to be anybody’s copy, anyone’s redundancy. And since we all do so many of the same things — eat, sleep, watch TV, read books, surf the internet, shower, go to work, do laundry, wash dishes, hang out with friends and family — the only things that really differentiate us are our thoughts.

Sometimes when I write something, I know way before I post it that those 5 or 10 friends will definitely appreciate it, that X person will definitely have something to add, that Y person will have a unique perspective, and it’s great to know that in advance.

But often I don’t know why I write something, or who will get it, or why there is any reason to post it. But I’ll feel like I have to get it out and it doesn’t matter why, so I’ll do it. And often it’s those pieces that get the most intense appreciation, even if they don’t always speak to the most people, quantitatively, and usually make my dad shake his head and poke fun.

The few reactions I do get from the people who really connect — they make it so worth it. Like, “THANK YOU for writing this” and “I needed to read this” and “this made me so happy” and “this made me cry in the best way” and “this made me get back in touch with my ex and finally bury the hatchet and really forgive and move on.”

So so worth it. I’ve made friends entirely through the process of people finding and reading my writing. I’ve had casual acquaintances become closer friends because of it. I’ve had a guy basically fall in love with me because he fell in love with my thinky thoughts first. I’ve been able to keep in touch with friends who don’t have much time and to keep important and satisfying conversations going with them just by tagging them in a note. I’ve become acquainted with people purely because someone I don’t know recommended something I wrote to someone else I don’t know.

Naturally, it doesn’t always work as nicely and neatly as that. Plenty of people I meet have no time for or interest in reading my stuff. Sometimes people will only read my writing when they want to date me, and when I make it clear that nothing can happen, they stop. Sometimes people who’ve told me they love my writing and specifically requested that I tag them suddenly stop reading/liking/commenting and I don’t know why, and confronting them about it seems tacky.

But the good reactions really do blow all of those out of the water. Like there was that time I wrote a guest post for a professional baseball blog, in my usual very personal style, and the journalist running the blog had this to say:

“What a wonderfully written piece. You’re exceptionally good at this, and I’m very glad you’re pursuing it. Writing is the reason I got into this line of work. Not to break news or to meet ballplayers or watch games. I just like to write, and I love reading someone who writes like this. Best of luck in school, and seriously, thank you for writing something for the series. I’m proud to have it on my blog.”

WARM FUZZIES EVERYWHERE.

But my very favorite has to be one of my facebook encounters with a relative stranger. He graduated from my honors program a few years ahead of me, and I knew who he was but had no idea he had a clue who I was. Out of the blue, he sent me a friend request, with the accompanying message:

“Hey,

So aside from the obvious creepiness of this message, I want to just explain why I would like to be friends on facebook. As a member of the Honors Academy at BC, I never got a chance to talk to everyone, I realize much to my detriment I was too caught up in making friends with all the wrong people. Regardless, now having spent the past two years since graduation reflecting and occasionally reading your wonderful writing as it shows up on my feed through facebook activity of our mutual friends, I am always so inspired by your candor, honesty, and realness. I do not know you very well, but in your writing I find a sense of ‘knowing’ that is very refreshing and if anything is a result of this ‘oh-so-creepy’ message, please continue writing as we need people such as yourself to talk, share, and create space for conversation. Hope this message finds you well and good luck with the remainder of your time at BC. Hope we can be facebook friends, if not, disregard this message and lets just keep this between us, or you can share, but yeah lol. I usually am not this forward with people, but I really really enjoy reading your work.”

. . . I mean, dayum. Of course I accepted that friend request.

And it’s funny — again, ironic-funny — that I think he knew what I was trying to do before I myself really did. That I was trying to foster conversation and make safe spaces for it, that I try to do that in person and that I try to do it online. That I will be frank to the point where it can be unflattering so that people will see that they can be too, that they don’t have to censor themselves around me in the same ways they do elsewhere. It’s not that people have gotten to know each other or have conversations with each other in the comments sections of my notes (although that would be awesome), but at least they know they can have a conversation with me.

And perhaps equally important is the fact that these notes have created a standard for me to live up to. They represent the best of me, me at my most articulate and most clearheaded. While yes, I have outgrown some of the things I’ve written and I don’t have any illusions that everything I’ve written is brilliant, there is still a certain level of something that these notes make me strive to meet, when I’m writing and when I’m not writing. So I guess you could say that I think my writing makes me a better person.

But what do you guys think? If you read my writing somewhat consistently — why do you do that? (You can be honest; “Because SM will guilt me if I don’t” is a totally legitimate reason.) If you like reading it, why is that?

I’m not trying to fish for compliments here (clearly I get enough of those to keep my ego healthy, as evidenced above) — I just really want to know.
(http://uphillwriting.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/messy-desk-big-pile.jpg)

 

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Like my thinky thoughts? You can commission more of them via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — or subscribe on the sidebar, and thanks for reading! You can also buy me tools from this Wishlist but really I just like money.

REVIEW — Supernatural, “Swan Song” (Season 5 finale)

This is a wayyyyyyy overdue review for Marsha L., who generously donated and sponsored it months ago. (Commissioned post #5 out of…I’ve totally lost count; there are a lot now.) SPOILERS AHOY!!!

I was only in season 3 at the time that this was sponsored, and I was watching along with my favorite reviewer/blogger Mark Oshiro of www.markwatches.net (check him out!), so that accounts for some of the delay. But then I finally got up to this episode when Mark reached it at least a month and a half ago, but I still didn’t watch it because I was super busy and wanted to sit down and watch it with my full attention, so as to properly review it. And by the time I had a chance to do that, I had practically forgotten what was going on in the season and decided that before watching the finale, I should rewatch the previous episode, Two Minutes to Midnight, so I wouldn’t be totally lost.

 

Aaaaand…I kinda wish I hadn’t done that.

 

Because as I was watching the finale, I realized that a big problem I had with it was that I found the setup so much more interesting than the payoff.

 

See, the past few seasons have been constantly introducing new and fascinating elements that expand upon the universe of Supernatural, flesh out its very nature, and what tasks have been set for our heroes.

 

Non-comprehensive list of super intriguing elements introduced in the past couple of seasons:

 

  • Angels exist
  • Angels are actually jerkfaces who want to bring the apocalypse
  • God exists
  • God is actually a jerkface who doesn’t want to help stop the apocalypse
  • Castiel has become a rogue angel and gradually loses his powers
  • The trickster from earlier years is actually the angel Gabriel
  • The archangel Michael wants Dean as his vessel
  • The devil, Lucifer, wants Sam as his vessel
  • John Winchester had another son, who died
  • jk, the angels totes brought him back as a substitute vessel
  • There’s this dude named Chuck who’s written a bazillion books on the Winchester adventures, including stuff that he can’t possibly know, thinking it’s all fiction he’s inventing
  • Chuck is actually a Prophet of the Lord and sees what will happen to the Winchesters before it happens
  • The four horsemen of the apocalypse exist
  • The four horsemen are actually superpowered dudes who wear rings and drive awesome Mustangs (because HORSES, geddit??)
  • The four rings from the four horsemen can put Lucifer back in his devil-cage in hell
  • Both Sam and the Death the Horseman think the only chance to get Lucifer back in his cage is for Sam to allow Lucifer to possess him, and then overpower Lucifer’s possession enough to jump into the cage

 

…and that’s what you missed on Glee! Er, Supernatural!

 

All these elements are firmly established going into the Season 5 finale, because, as Marsha told me when she sponsored this review, this is what the writers have been building toward for 5 seasons. And I understand that, I understand that this episode already has all the pieces laid out on the table and is just moving them around.

 

But that doesn’t change the fact that after all the fantastic developments we get in the preceding seasons, and even the preceding episode, we don’t learn anything nearly as new or intriguing here. Honestly, that 5-minute scene between Dean and Death the Horseman in Two Minutes to Midnight was more compelling to me than just about anything that happened in the finale.

 

I am NOT saying that the finale wasn’t entertaining (it was!), that it wasn’t immensely watchable (it was!), or that nothing surprising happens in this episode at all (it did — for instance, Lucifer knowing about the Winchesters’ plans with the horsemen’s rings and Dean’s “oh crap we are so screwed” face was a definite highlight). But the surprises are all on a plot level, regarding what is happening; the whys of everything remain just as opaque as before. There are no lightbulb moments, no epiphanies. Our level of understanding of why this is all happening is the same going into the episode as it is coming out. It doesn’t add up to anything more than a bunch of things that had to happen so that there would be a TV show.

 

Still, okay. It’s a TV show, an entertaining ride of conflict, resolution, drama, and humor — that’s what I signed up for, I guess. Ideally, the show could aim higher, considering the vast realm of religion and mythology that it has chosen to use as its playground, but it falls short of that. I get that sometimes as a writer, you bite off more than you can chew, set up more than you can pay off, and as a TV writer, you’re under a special kind of pressure to keep churning out episodes, and if there’s an arc and you think of something great later, it’s not like you can go back and plant it in earlier episodes, because they’ve already aired, so your continuity may suffer more than the continuity of a novel or a movie, which can be edited as a finished product before any of it is released to the public. So things in serialized TV often come out as less than that fabulous lofty ideal. I get that.

 

But what bothers me so much more than that is the fact that the writers KNOW it doesn’t add up, and they actively dismiss the viewers’ perfectly legitimate potential complaints about it, right there in the show. I’m referring, of course, to this monologue by Chuck the Prophet (whose narration in this episode I initially adored but eventually found problematic for several reasons, which I am about to enumerate):

 

“Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There’s always gonna be holes. And since it’s the ending, it’s all supposed to add up to something. I’m telling you, they’re a raging pain in the ass.”

 

Oh em gee, fans are so annoying, amirite? Them and their perfectly valid analyses and critiques of our storytelling and plotting and endings that mean they spent at least as much time thinking about the show as we did. Jeez, stop thinking, sheeple! Just worship unquestioningly at the altar of our creativity! Feel for us! We worked hard on this show, dammit!

 

 

It’s not the most audience-condescending monologue that I’ve ever seen on a TV show (that medal still goes to Aaron Sorkin and his thoroughly gratuitous diatribe against fandom [“that’s not being a fan; that’s having a fetish”] through Josh Lyman on The West Wing), but it’s in the top two. I mean, fall short and have a subpar finale if you must, but sheesh, be less obvious and defensive about it. Don’t complain about how hard endings are and how hard writing is; this is literally your job and no one wants to hear you whine about it. Of course finales come with expectations. Suck it up!

 

 

 

Naturally, this activated my contrarianism. I might possibly have been more forgiving if I hadn’t been told directly by the writers that I should be forgiving. As it is, I now feel more justified in complaining a bit more, so sit tight!

 

My two main complaints, one of which is even broken down into subcategories:

 

Problems with Chuck’s narration

  1. Insults audience for critiquing. Bad, show. BAD.
  2. Turns the car into the ultimate symbol of Winchester brotherhood by talking about stuff we’ve never seen on the show before, like the toy soldier stuck in the car door, the initials carved into the car, etc. I love car porn as much (or possibly more) than the next guy, but we’ve seen this car in every episode for 5 years and the writers couldn’t think of one previously established thing about it that could actually carry the emotional weight they’re slapping together and shoehorning in here at the last second? It feels like telling instead of showing. It feels lazy. It feels like a retcon to try and squeeze emotion from a place that doesn’t really have it in the way the writers want it to, and I was not impressed.
  3. It spells out the incredibly uninspired lesson of the whole shindig in this other monologue:

“So, what’s it all add up to? It’s hard to say. But me, I’d say this was a test… for Sam and Dean. And I think they did all right. Up against good, evil, angels, devils, destiny, and God himself, they made their own choice. They chose family. And, well… isn’t that kinda the whole point?”

 

 

Seriously? It was about choosing family? Wow. You know what other episode of Supernatural was about choosing family?

What’s that you say? “Every damn episode”? That is correct.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with a moral of choosing family first in the face of dire danger. But in the context of this show, it’s deeply unsurprising because we’ve seen it so many times and expect nothing less. Having no narration would have been an improvement on pretending that this particular lesson is some kind of ultimate meaning.

In fact, having no narration at all would fix all these problems, and I do think that the car stuff could have been done better by using unnarrated flashbacks. But they’ve done that before and this is a season finale so the narration is the writers’ way of doing something new and different stylistically just for that, regardless of whether previously-used techniques would work better.

 

  1. Problems with the whole destiny thing

 

This, to be fair, is a problem I have with a lot of shows, and it’s more of a whole season problem than just this episode. Essentially, I don’t like being lied to about how much you planned for something, writers. I know and you know that you didn’t plan plenty of it, that you made up a lot of stuff as you went along — as I said before, it’s a reality of episodic TV, you have to work quickly, you can’t plan that far ahead, and you certainly can’t go back and set things up if you just came up with some new brilliant idea or new character, and I accept that! What I don’t accept is when a show lies to me about it, pretends that this was totally the plan all along yessireebob.

Angel did this a lot in later seasons and it bugged me, and it bugs me here too, every time that the angels or Lucifer claim that this is how it was always meant to be, that brother was always meant to fight brother, and especially that Azazel chose Sam for Lucifer and the devil has been keeping tabs on Sam through demon spies for his entire life because he is Lucifer’s ultimate vessel — gimme a break. Azazel put Sam in that Hunger Games thing at the end of Season 2, yes? The one where Sam DIED? There was nothing special about Sam then, not any more special than the other demon-blood children — he was expendable, one of many potentials. If Dean hadn’t brought Sam back with his crossroads deal, presumably whoever survived that survival-of-the-fittest contest would have been deemed Lucifer’s vessel. But did all of them have brothers that Michael could have inhabited to fight Lucifer, as per the brother-vs-brother destiny? What if Lucifer’s vessel had been a woman? WHAT THEN, SHOW.

Basically, you have to scrap anything that happened before a certain point if you want this destiny thing to make sense, unless you modify it and say that yeah, Sam was one potential and now he’s the only one left. But that’s not what the show did. It lied and retconned, and hoped that we would conveniently forget about the not-making-sense part, or figured that they could say, “WE’RE not saying that Sam was the plan all along; the ANGELS are! And LUCIFER! Can’t trust those douchefaces; of course they’re lying. Don’t blame us!” Weak, writers. Very weak. I’m fine with you pulling things out of your posteriors once in a while; just don’t lie to me about it.

 

 

Again, I don’t want you to finish this review thinking that I hated the finale. I definitely didn’t hate it; it’s just not an episode I feel compelled to rewatch anytime soon because there are so many episodes leading up to it that I enjoyed more. And I’m very glad that the show didn’t end here, because if it had, I’d have been disappointed, because this is not a great ending.

 

For the record, it is absolutely 100% better to have excellent setup and so-so payoff than to have poor setup and epic payoff. I disliked the book Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell for that reason — it was 600 pages of setup and 200 pages of payoff, and the setup was so uninteresting to me and such a chore to get through because it felt like I was just waiting and waiting and waiting for something to finally happen, and then it finally did, and it was good payoff, but I remember none of it, because all I remember was how bored I was for most of it and how I kept waiting for it to get good.

 

With Supernatural, I’m sure that in a few years I won’t remember the specifics of the plot of these past few seasons, but what I will remember is how fascinated I was by the gradual expansion of its fictional universe with all the new and surprising elements that caught my interest, and I’ll remember the characters and their dynamics, and I’ll remember liking so many more episodes than not, and I’d say that’s definitely a win for any show.

 

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Like my thinky thoughts? You can commission more of them via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — or subscribe on the sidebar, and thanks for reading! You can also buy me tools from this Wishlist but really I just like money.

Why Cars?

 

Ah, the question everybody’s been asking ever since I, of all people, announced my intention to become an automotive technician/mechanic.

 

I could give you a lovely, oversimplified answer in the words of Roald Dahl:

 

“A gasoline engine is sheer magic,” he said to me once. “Just imagine being able to take a thousand different bits of metal — and if you fit them all together in a certain way — and then you feed them a little oil and gasoline — and if you press a little switch — suddenly those bits of metal will all come to life — and they will purr and hum and roar — they will make the wheels of a motor car go whizzing around at fantastic speeds . . .”

~ Danny the Champion of the World

 

But let’s be real; that’s not really why I’m doing it.

 

My reasons are far more nefarious, of course.

 

There were two major legs of this journey thus far: (1) deciding that I didn’t want a white collar job, and (2) deciding that out of the various blue collar trades I could choose, I wanted to try auto mechanics.

 

Why not white collar?

 

For years, literally years, possibly a decade or more, when people asked me what I was going to do when I grew up, I’d say, “Well, I write, but that’s not very lucrative, so at some point I’ll have to get a real job.”

 

Same answer from the time I was 14 until now. I probably even used the word “lucrative” in my answer back then too. People interpreted it jokingly (a 14-year-old with that much foresight about the ways of the world is always amusing), and I may have even meant it jokingly at first because I was young and surrounded by people who had no knowledge of what writing for a living actually entailed and so always told me that I could do it because I was talented. As if talent alone buys health insurance.

 

Yup.

 

As the years unfolded, my statement about having to get a real job that did not involve writing stayed the same, and people heard it the same way, as a joke, but I started to mean it more and more seriously. By the time I was in college, even though I had no qualms about majoring in Creative Writing, I knew that I did not want to write for a living, that I did not want to have to write book after book or article after article knowing that if I didn’t, I’d have no money and no food. I wanted writing to be something that I did because I wanted to, not because I had to. And the common supplemental jobs that even successful writers tended to have so that they wouldn’t have to depend solely on their writing for income were things that I had little interest in, like office work and teaching.

 

[I have had enjoyable office work experience, for the record, and if I like my coworkers and I like the atmosphere, I’m sure I could be quite content with it. But it feels like a backup, not a Plan A. As for teaching, being the daughter of two teachers has taught me that it is largely the most thankless job you can have, aside from perhaps umpires and referees, and I respect everyone who goes into the profession, but if I’d had a list of possible jobs, “teaching” would have been the very first one I crossed off.]

 

Early on in college, I also realized that I had zero interest in going to grad school. There was nothing I liked enough to study exclusively for two or three or four or five additional years while paying tons of money for the privilege. Medicine, law, business, philosophy, psychology, education, social work, math, engineering — I’d never even wanted an undergraduate degree in any of those; why would I suddenly want a Masters or a PhD? As for an MFA in Creative Writing . . . I knew I didn’t want to write for a living, or get a Masters degree in order to teach, so spending all that money and all that time held little appeal. It seemed like an obvious, conventional path that didn’t really lead anywhere that I personally wanted to go. (No disrespect meant to anyone who does get an MFA or two — you guys rock!)

 

Jesus approves.

 

I concluded in those early years of college that if I was in fact going to get “a real job,” it would be something that did not center on writing, or editing, or sitting in front of a computer screen, or even words at all. I didn’t want my job to tap into those particular creative juices and sap them, using them for the benefit of some company or corporation or publication, and not for my own.

 

And I also did not feel that doing something like that would be satisfying enough for me to do day in and day out. To sit at a desk, type on a computer, fill out paperwork, or work in a lab. Perfectly worthwhile and necessary occupations, and something I could probably be content with, but again, not something that felt like Plan A. And I didn’t want to do something that required me to be in constant contact with people, either, like a therapist or a social worker or an activist or anything like that. It’s not that I don’t think I have people skills, but I’d rather not have a job where that is 80% of the job description. That’s too emotionally exhausting. My emotional energy, like my word-related creative energy, is something I’d rather reserve for myself.

 

I wanted something totally separate, and very tangible. Something that would be gratifying because the accomplishments were visible and measurable and involved getting my hands dirty. I like working with my hands and fixing things, especially when other people can’t. And to me, that all added up to blue collar.

 

 

Why cars?

 

If you’d asked me two or three years ago, I’d have told you that when I finished with college, I was planning to go to trade school to become an electrician. It was an option arrived at mostly by process of elimination because being a plumber would involve poop and being a construction worker would probably require a lot more heavy lifting than my temperamental back can handle and there weren’t many options for carpentry training. Plus, I like wires, and electricity is pretty exciting.

 

I did a lot of research on electrician training in the New York City area, had a lot of tabs open and a lot of webpages bookmarked, and even decided on a school that I wanted to check out. I even called to find out their tuition and enrollment dates. This was back in the summer of 2013, after my graduation from college in June earlier that year.

 

But then I stalled. I was warned that it takes 8 years to get an electrician license in New York. I was warned that there was a lot of heavy lifting involved in being an electrician, too. But mostly I felt that the lack of specificity of “electrician” didn’t make me feel excited about all the possibilities therein, but rather, frustrated by how broad and unfocused and open-ended it all seemed. I started thinking back to other options I’d considered, like in my Hollywood hostel room on my January 2013 trip to do research for my book, when I’d curled up in bed with my laptop and spent a few hours looking into Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning programs and curriculums. HVAC didn’t really hold much interest for me, and the only local program I could find wouldn’t accept students with above-high-school-level education, but still, I felt a pull to invest in something more specialized.

 

this showed up when I google-image searched for “specific” and who am I to argue with google

 

I decided to put things on hold for a little while. Give myself time to mull it over a bit more. And so I decided to work on my novel for three months, see if I could finish it, see how far I’d get, and put trade school on the back burner.

 

This didn’t go 100% as planned. I kept getting distracted by the constant pressure my mother started putting on me to get a job or decide on trade school, and I spent more time surfing the internet doing research and looking at all my options and bookmarking more sites about electricians, HVAC, plumbers helpers, etc, than I spent writing.

 

My mother had also spoken to our appliance repairman, and he’d suggested looking into the field of home automation because the cables were thinner and lighter and would be less taxing on me physically. So I looked into that, but not with the utmost enthusiasm, because it felt to me like the kind of people who are automating their homes — installing security cameras, motion sensors, remote locking/unlocking systems that can be accessed from your phone — are a very particular niche, and of a fairly high socio-economic class, and I didn’t want my services to be SO specific, limited only to moderately wealthy people who want to protect their stuff. I totally support them wanting to protect said stuff; I’d just rather let someone else do it. I wanted to be specialized, but not that specialized.

 

I can’t really remember at what point in the process did it first hit me that, “You know what’s really cool? AIRPLANES.” I’d always thought airplanes were pretty awesome, but I’d never really considered them a possibility, careerwise. Why? No real reason, honestly. Just that the idea seemed so huge and out there and absurd, even more so than working in other trades, especially for a woman, that my brain didn’t really acknowledge the concept.

 

But apparently I’d reached a point where I said to myself, “Self, just let the ideas run wild. No idea is too stupid, too crazy, too impossible. Don’t dismiss something offhand just because it’s huge or you don’t know anyone else who does it or because everyone’s going to tell you that it’s no place for a tiny little girl. There’s never going to be a better time to try something. Life is only going to get more complicated from here on out, so the time is now.”

 

“The way I figure it, we are all entitled to one really big, incredibly stupid screw-up in our lives. Maybe this is one of those. We’ll see.” ~Michael Garibaldi

 

So I arrived at: “Airplanes are coooooooool.”

 

Then came: “You know what’s cooler than airplanes? FIXING airplanes.”

 

And I looked into training options for that and couldn’t really find anything in my area, although there were a number of posts on job sites for “entry-level mechanics” at the local airports, JFK, Laguardia, and Newark. But they required knowledge of tools and other basic experience, not to mention a driver’s license, so while I considered applying, it didn’t seem like the best idea.

 

Then: “What makes airplanes so cool?”

 

“It’s this big giant machine with a bajillion moving parts that all add up to basically magic.” (This is where that Danny the Champion of the World quote comes back around.)

 

“You know what else are big giant machines with a bajillion moving parts that all add up to basically magic?”

 

“CARS.”

 

So I started looking into that, and lo and behold there were trade schools for it within commuting distance from my house. I researched them online, requested information, talked with them on the phone, arranged campus tours, got free swag, waffled some more (I plan to write a future post about how I chose between the two programs I was looking at), spoke to graduates of the programs (male and female), decided that I wanted to enroll in May, and finally did it, student loan and payment plan and all.
 

*

 

People have told me that they find it inspiring that I’m following my dream. That’s kind of awkward to hear, because I don’t know if cars, and potentially ultimately airplanes, are my dream. I don’t always know why I’m doing this. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing it for the same reasons a lot of people go to law school — they don’t what else to do.

 

But I know it’s certainly not anyone else’s dream for me, given the number of people who’ve told me outright or implied that they’re disappointed that I’m not pursuing writing, or radio, or whatever else brilliant college-educated young women are supposed to do. And if it’s not anyone else’s dream, it must be mine, right?

 

All I really know is that 1) it’s the first stage of my education that I have had control over from start to finish, because no one else would ever have chosen this for me, and 2) today I assisted with an oil change and checked a car’s hoses and belts and fluids and got my hands covered with grease and I feel fantastic.

 

I’ll keep you posted.

 

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Like my thinky thoughts? Want more of them? Consider donating and commissioning more, via my GoFundMe campaign — http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive — and thanks for reading! And you can keep up with me on Twitter @FloatingSpirals and never miss a post 🙂

 

Project “Help SM Keep Writing While She Becomes an Automotive Technician”

(honk if you turned your head sideways to see this pic better)

As you may or may not be able to see from the picture, I am a petite 24-year-old Jewish girl with a degree in Creative Writing, who wants to pursue a very different sort of career. I considered many options and decided that I want to work with cars and/or airplanes. Not designing them or engineering them, but actually working on them with my actual hands. And my research to this point leads me to believe that my best option for getting started building those skills is to enroll in one of the Certified Automotive Technician programs in my area. Since I know basically nothing about cars except for some socio-cultural connotations of certain brands (humanities major ftw!), this will be an adventure.

The thing is, once they stop laughing, most people who know me and hear about this plan are concerned, some for my sanity, some for my safety, but overwhelmingly they are concerned about my writing. “How can you not pursue writing as a career? You have such a gift!” and “Please promise me you won’t ever stop writing” are fairly common reactions. (For context, here’s my Amazon author page: www.amazon.com/author/smrosenberg, my blog: www.smrosenbergblog.wordpress.com, and various  other posts of mine around the interwebs.)

So to accommodate that concern, I’ve set up this campaign: http://www.gofundme.com/sm-automotive and this email address: smautomotive00@gmail.com. The idea is that if you donate, you are eligible to send me a topic to write about, which I will post on my wordpress blog. This way, I will have an influx of ideas and inspiration AND a reason to write. (Only nonfiction requests; I want to keep my fiction juices geared toward the novel I’ve been working on.) You are free to donate as much or as little as you want, although of course those who donate more will get priority. If you do donate and make a request, PLEASE use the email address and not facebook or any alternate method of communication; it will be so much easier for me to keep track of things if they are all in one place and not scattered across communication platforms.

This is the program I’ve selected: http://www.nyadi.com/portfolio/certified-automotive-technician/  The tuition and fees come to about $16,000 ($50 registration fee, $14,800 tuition, $1000 for tools, $75 for books, $46 for uniforms, $3 ID tag) not including transportation and living expenses, so rest assured, I can use any donations you can spare. Be aware that GoFundMe takes 7.9% of the total + 30 cents per donation, so I’m not getting everything you give.

RULES:

You can pick any topic you want! You can ask me to write about why I decided to do this, my top ten TV shows, or about how I do my hair — I don’t care! I am the final arbiter of what I am and am not comfortable with and if you email me a topic that I won’t write about, I’ll ask you to pick another. I can’t guarantee length or word count (except in specific instances of $15 donations and $150 donations – see reward levels on the GoFundMe page) or time frame, but I will try to write at least 100 words on whatever topics you choose, no matter how ridiculous. I will notify you by email when your topic has been posted. ALSO: Let me know in your email if you want to be credited in the post by name or by a username as the donor of the topic, or if you want to be completely anonymous.

You can ask me to watch and review an episode of television if you donate $25 or more! (I’ll let you know if I think your requested episode is too spoilery for me to watch and let you pick an alternative.)

You can ask me to review a movie if you donate $50 or more ($65 if the movie is currently playing in theaters, because theaters are expensive)!

You can ask me to read and review a book if you donate $75 or more! Be nice, though; try to make it something I might like. And around 300 pages or less? I can be flexible! But I am gonna be in school, you know.

If you donate $100 or more. . .*drumroll please*. . . you can pick a song that I have to sing at least one minute of (if it’s not too filthy) and upload to my SoundCloud account: www.soundcloud.com/floatingspirals. Seriously. I really hope nobody does this.

At $150, I will write you 1000 words on whatever topic you pick (provided that it’s something I’m okay with writing about)! Some of those words may wind up being nonsense words, but still, they will be words!

At $500, you get whatever you want, basically.

The first topic request costs as little as $1, but if you’re going to request multiple topics (which you totally can; go for it!), I ask that you donate more than that. $5 – $10 per topic? Use your best judgment.

If you have any further questions, email me at smautomotive00@gmail.com or tweet at me @FloatingSpirals on twitter.

And if you can’t think of anything to request, donate anyway! I will accept your money! ALL YOUR MONEY. You can always request a topic later. Every dollar counts! If you never got me a birthday present — this is it.

Look at the cute little widget I set up! How cool is that?

Links to the writing samples I linked above, in case you’re curious:

http://boylanblog.tumblr.com/post/34574365681/currently-eating

https://www.facebook.com/notes/sm-rosenberg/on-no/10151777996233186

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/10/teen-fiction-knowing_n_1870971.html

http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2014/01/27/pinch-hitting-sm-rosenberg/

https://www.facebook.com/notes/sm-rosenberg/heavy/10150827187218186

http://boylanblog.tumblr.com/post/49763062122/intern-magic-hat

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE TO ALL: Donations are a gift. As such, I absolutely do not expect donations from any of you, so I don’t want you to feel guilty if you can’t give or don’t want to. Guilt is a powerful motivator, but if it means people start feeling awkward around me because they haven’t donated, or if they start feeling resentful of me for putting them on the spot, that’s obviously really really bad. I’d rather have your friendship and your respect than your money. (Of course I’d love both, but if all you can/want to give me is words of encouragement or support, or sharing it around to others who might be interested instead, I will be touched nonetheless.) I will try not to be a jerk about this, and if I do ask you, “Hey, did you see the GoFundMe I started???” please understand that I’m not trying to pressure you into donating; that’s just me being really excited about this whole project, the automotive school and the writing. Because I am PSYCHED. Also terrified. But psyched.

Hugs to all of you.