Carolyn Hax: "Sometimes surrendering to the awful is more useful than fighting it."
Graham Joyce: "why can’t our job here on earth be simply to inspire each other?"
Dan Harmon: "I believe in magic. I believe in mythology. I believe in shamanism. I believe that spells can be cast and I believe that random things coalesce and reveal themselves to be part of a plan we don’t control, you know."
Nora Ephron: "Never turn down a front-row seat for human folly."
Lord Vetinari, Unseen Academicals: "One day I was a young boy... when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. Even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued... As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and the pink roes spilled out much to the delight of the baby otters. Mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that is when I first learned about evil. It is built into the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior."
McAlvie "The ultimate downfall of modern civilization won't be war; it'll be Twitter and Facebook."
Jenny Zhang: "A lot of writers swear by routine, but I swear by chaos. There’s enough fucking routine in my life. Every day I have to brush my teeth. Every day I have to smile at strangers. Every day I have to worry about money. Every day I want something I can’t have. Every day I find some way to go on! I know that writing every day for an hour would help me tremendously with writer’s block, but I also know that I need an element of wildness in my writing. I need to know that writing is something I do because it sets me free. It makes me feel golden with confidence. It gives me the gift of gab. I feel like a god. I feel like an entertainer. So write when you damn well please."
Joe Queenan: "If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it's probably because at some level you find "reality" a bit of a disappointment. People in the 19th century fell in love with "Ivanhoe" and "The Count of Monte Cristo" because they loathed the age they were living through. Women in our own era read "Pride and Prejudice" and "Jane Eyre" and even "The Bridges of Madison County"—a dimwit, hayseed reworking of "Madame Bovary"—because they imagine how much happier they would be if their husbands did not spend quite so much time with their drunken, illiterate golf buddies down at Myrtle Beach. A blind bigamist nobleman with a ruined castle and an insane, incinerated first wife beats those losers any day of the week. Blind, two-timing noblemen never wear belted shorts."
LogicalDash: "Nobody of any age should have to fend off sexual partners. That such defense is assumed as a part of the cost of adult courtship is suggestive of some more fundamental problem than age difference and its effect on consensuality."
Keith Richards: "I had to invent the job, you know," he said, earlier. "There wasn't a sign in the shop window, saying, "Wanted: Keith Richards."
Caitlin Moran: "As I started to reassess my writing style, I thought about what I liked doing--what gave me satisfaction--and realized the primary one was just... pointing at things. Pointing out things I liked, and showing them to other people--like a mum shouting, "Look! Moo-cows!" as a train rushes past a farm. I liked pointing at things, and I liked being reasonable and polite about stuff. Or silly. Silly was very, very good. No one ever got hurt by silly.
Best of all was being pointedly silly about serious things: politics, repression, bigotry. Too many commentators are quick to accuse their enemies of being evil. It's far, far more effective to point out that they're acting like idiots, instead. I was up for idiot-revealing.
"I am just going to be polite and silly, and point at cool things," I decided. "When I started writing, I would have killed to have one thing to write about. Now, I have three. Politeness and silliness, and pointing. That's enough."
Carolyn Hax: "Unless 15 years’ worth of mail has misled me, no one has ever found love through complaining about the lack of it, and no lonely person has ever felt better for hearing, “You just haven’t found the right person yet.”
David Simon: "Change is a motherfucker when you run from it."
Joe Queenan: "People who read an enormous number of books are basically dissatisfied with the way things are going on this planet. And I think, in a way, people read for the same reason that kids play video games ... they like that world better. It works better, it's more exciting, and it usually has a more satisfactory ending."
Dan Savage: "There isn't someone for everyone. Some of us do wind up alone, and that just fucking sucks and sometimes that stings, and you don't know if you're one of those people who's going to wind up alone until you die alone....So you kind of have to live in hope and build a life for yourself that's rewarding and fun, has friends and pleasure in it, whether you're alone or not."
the painkiller: "I will not be tagged, pinned, circled, liked, tweeted, retweeted or numbered."
Steve Jobs: "Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Apple: "Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Miss Manners: "Please do not -- repeat, not -- make a hostile approach to knitters. Have you not noticed that they are armed with long, pointy sticks?"
Stephen Tobolowsky: "And of course, nothing is what I figured on in my life. That seems to be a recurring theme."
James Bulls: "When you find yourself walking a true path, you will know it because you will want to walk it no matter the burning Sun, freezing sleet, torrential rain, and treacherous ground. The risks become no less and the journey as always exhausts you, but your desire to brave the challenges never diminishes."
Amy Argetsinger: "Twitter is a disease, plain and simple. It makes people insane. A decade from now I expect the CDC and FDA will be issuing warnings."
Cary Tennis: "You don't have to "move on" either. Not until you're ready. People say, Oh, you should be grateful. They say, Oh, it's time for you to move on. I'm like, What are you, a cop with a nightstick? I'll move on when I'm done playing the blues on my harmonica, thank you very much."
Mark Morford: "It is 2011 and here is what we know: Reality is fluid, fact is malleable, cause and effect completely uncertain. We know what we don't know, but we also know the opposite."
Charlie Jane Anders: "Just remember, if you flinch from your destiny, you'll never achieve your true greatness — you didn't choose to be chosen, but being chosen means you have to choose."
Roger Ebert: "To put it bluntly, I believe the world is patriarchal because men are bigger and stronger than women, and can beat them up."
Myca: "Jesus is not the reason for the season, and there's no way I need to act like he is. Christmas is a stolen tradition. There's no reason we can't steal it back."
Lady Gaga: "I hate the holidays! I'm alone and miserable, you fucking dumb bit of toy!"
Dianna Agron: "I am trying to live my life with a sharpie marker approach. You can’t erase the strokes you’ve made, but each step is much bolder and more deliberate."
John Mayer: "It occurred to me that since the invocation of Twitter, nobody who has participated in it has created any lasting art. And yes! Yours truly is included in that roundup as well. Let me make sure that statement is as absolute and irrevocable as possible by buzzing your tower one more time: no artwork created by someone with a healthy grasp of social media thus far has proven to be anything other than disposable."
Vanessa, Something Positive: "I like 'em crazy. You hear insane rants, I hear a reminder that the sex is interesting. Oooh! Hear that? Tonight's gonna tingle."
Anonymous: “Your problem is that you want to be an artist. What you need to be is an artisan.”
Sugar: "Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it."
Wide Lawns: "Often very odd things happen to me. Usually they are not my fault and mostly beyond my control."
Anonymous reporter: “When weird shit happens around here, weird shit really happens around here.”
Anne Johnson: "Today some stranger sent me an email that said, "You are a nut case." Well, I must admit this never would have occurred to me. Everyone else is a nut case. I'm the sane one. I think."
Carl Mayer: "Whenever I start to feel like my life isn’t where I want it to be, “Cops” is there to put everything into perspective. Yeah, I haven’t made all the right moves over the last 34 years, but I’m not hiding from the police under a kiddie pool, either."
John Scalzi: "In retrospect, it’s a little weird to think that my entire future was falling into place as I obliviously tucked into the El Presidente chimichanga platter, but of course, that’s life for you — the most important days of your existence don’t always announce themselves in obvious ways."
Tart and Soul: "Indeed, love comes whether we have braced ourselves for it or not. But commitment offers a choice, tapping us on the shoulder to say, “sorry to bother you. Is this a good time?”
"Additionally, in the weekly meetings we are currently listening to 10-minute presentations prepared by employees about their “river of life.” This is a PowerPoint presentation prepared with personal photos and sharing of personal (sometimes VERY personal) information. Most of the employees really get into it and share about losing people in their lives, illnesses, etc. My turn is is coming up and I have absolutely no desire to share personal information with the other employees. Additionally, I am already working 80 hours a week and I frankly resent the idea that I have to spend any time preparing a presentation with personal photos, which has nothing to do with my work and job performance. Is there any way I can get out of this without insulting my boss or my teammates?"
I did really enjoy some people's suggestions as to what to do instead....
“Four score and seven years ago, I sprang fully formed from Zeus’s forehead after his drunken bender left him with a wicked headache…”
I’d totally fill my presentation with the most inane pointless factoids.
“Here’s the ‘A’ I got on my 5th grade science test.” “This is what my dad got me for my 23rd birthday.” “Here was the combo to my old gym locker.” “Here’s my recipe for Campbell’s soup. Step one: Get can of soup. Step two: Open (with a can opener) and empty into pot. Step three: Heat up. Step four: Enjoy with a spoon (in a bowl if you prefer).”
“Here was the combo to my old gym locker.” 23-3-29!
I’d go all “Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and photoshop myself into obviously-famous adventure photos.
My kids are under direct orders that when I die to fill my eulogy with amazing tales of my accomplishments. My Turing award, the year I won the Nobel prize was the same time my career as a super model took off…I want to be fabulous and the truth is not appreciated.
Do you have a pet? Can you just show pictures of them? That would fill up 10 minutes for me.
If you don’t have a pet can you make up a fake pet and do 10 minutes of pretend facts about your pretend pet?
I’m not going to lie: I’d at once resent the hell out of this project and think of so many awesome things to do with it.
My dept just finished this exercise for our boss’s boss. I didnt want to participate for the same reasons as the OP so my presentation was full trivial details and work related stuff (past positions and two photos of a painting i made and my bike, trivial stuff like “I go to the gym 3x/wk” “I like my bike commute”. ) My boss actually reviewed the file before i presented it and askes why I didn’t post a pic of my husband and why I didn’t share details like where I grew up, etc. I didnt change my presentation, and maybe it will be held against me, but it took 3 hours for our whole dept to run through all of the slides and you could tell Big Boss was just as annoyed with it as the rest of us by the end. I doubt we’ll be doing this again anytime soon!
One way you can make this work is to tell ONE INTERESTING STORY for ten minutes, and bracket it with light biographical details to fulfill the whole life-river thing. Like, “I was born in England, but moved to Texas when I was five. While I was in college in Connecticut, my family moved to Seattle, and when I left school I moved here to live with them. Here is the hilarious story of the second time I filled my mouth up with superglue. Now I work here with all you people.”
I worry that I talk too much about my cats, so I’d go with this and actually try to make everyone die of boredom during my presentation. Maybe mess with them a bit, with one cat slide introduced with,”When I was being deprogrammed after my parents abducted me from the cult, I fostered this little guy…”
I've said before that I think Ask Polly is the new Dear Sugar. In this column, she REALLY does a comparison.
"On the same day that Dear Sugar column was published, June 3, 2010, I also answered an advice letter — on my blog. The 2,388-word letter also asked some big existential "WTF?"-style questions. My reply was 2,880 words long, for a total of 5,268 words.
Dear Sugar's column that day in June — letter and response — totaled 871 words. This included the story of being molested by her grandfather, losing her mother, mercy-killing a baby bird with a broken neck, and the bold but still gentle admonition to the letter writer to "ask better questions." Also, this: "The fuck is your life. Answer it."
My blog post, on the other hand, strikes me now as a rambling, unfocused precursor to every tepid-guy-based existential call-and-response I've ever written. Sugar says she used to jack off her grandfather; I say I've been feeling really dizzy lately. Sugar says she misses her dead mother; I say, "I miss drinking games where you point at someone's face really aggressively and shout YOU YOU YOU YOU! DRINK DRINK DRINK YOU FUCKING PUSSY DRINK!" Sugar says she killed a baby bird with her bare hands; I say something about eating lukewarm soup.
So when you mention this poetic column by Cheryl Strayed and then ask me, "Are you sure?" my answer to you is: HELL, NO. I am not sure. I am never sure."
"Q. Avoiding Family Holidays: My career has led me to go to school and get a good job far away from family. My parents and my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew still live in the same area so every holiday I fly to see them. Last Christmas, my father declared that holidays were only for people who had children and that anyone who doesn’t have children is worthless and has no reason to live. Everyone but myself at the table agreed. I was the only person at that table that doesn’t have a child and needless to say I was hurt. After the festivities were done, I took my father aside to politely express my hurt to him. He starting yelling at me that I was just jealous of my sibling and that he stands by his judgment. I’m glad my sibling is happy but I never want to be her and I love my life. Before that holiday, I thought I had a supportive family that was proud of me. Now I find myself not wanting to fly back for any of the holidays. How should I handle my family’s requests that I visit?"
"A: You could say something like, “After last year’s discussion, I’m afraid I simply can’t guarantee that if I fly out to see you my plane will be hit by a drone, explode, and then my worthless life will blessedly be over.” I’m glad you spoke up to your father because sometimes people say idiotic things then when called out on it, explain, “I didn’t mean you, honey!” But apparently he meant you. You say to your family that you remain shaken by the dreadful things said about your life. You don’t feel you’re being overly sensitive when you object to being told you have no reason to live. If they want to revise their stand, then you will be happy to listen, and then you will consider if you have reason to come for the holiday."
Yeah, at the very LEAST you don't go back there without a fucking apology. I would give this person permission to cuss out the entire family.