I have no motivation to do anything anymore. Classes are boring, my reading is boring, and my social life is boring. How do I start enjoying life again? —Bored in the Butts
Dear Bored in the Butts,
You’ve stumbled onto one of the most debilitating states around: apathy. When we lose the ability to get excited about things, we lose most of the enjoyment in life. Humans are addicted to seeking (Temple Grandin, “Animals in Translation”), meaning that we don’t get emotional fulfillment from having things; we get fulfillment from the quest to obtain them. Think about “the chase” in romantic situations or that rush you get when you find the perfect raincoat after months of searching, even if you never add it to your cart on Amazon. (This is a very real situation I am in.)
This problem has a multi-step solution. In part one, I’ll tell you what my momma told me: You’ve got to fake it ’til you make it. This motto works in pretty much every situation. Pretend you’re confident until you actually are. Pretend to like tomatoes until you actually do. Pretend to be interested in Kant until you realize that he actually had some interesting shit to say. You’re over your friends and your classes, but pretend to be into them until you to start to see their positive elements once again. I know this sounds really bitchy—pretend to like your friends, pretend to have a soul and not just be an emotional succubus—but everyone feels this way at some point. Don’t do anything drastic, because apathy comes in waves and soon you’ll be feeling better again.
Part two: Take some motherfucking initiative. You don’t get to sit on your ass in the Butts and whine about being bored! You’re at the goddamn peak of your physical body, you’re intellectually stimulated every time you step outside, and there are genuinely freaky people who care intensely about weirdo shit all around you. Invite somebody who scares you to lunch. Do something that gets really primal, like drumming or hockey, and push your emotions by drawing with Drawing Co-Op or, better yet, modeling for them! I find that public nudity really helps me combat apathy. Try crying in public or putting hot sauce on everything. You are the only person who can fix the boring, so quit bitching.
This guy whom I work on a publication with keeps mansplaining things to me, and I’m struggling to keep it together. What do I do when he gets that “I’m an expert and you’re a woman” look in his eye and starts rambling about a topic I understand quite well?? —Got It, Thanks
Dear Got It, Thanks,
I goddam fucking love this question. What a CLASSIC SITUATION. Truly frustrating. Now, how to destroy him? Being a Southerner, I rely entirely on charm to destroy people—as my mother says, you’ve got to kill them with kindness. And I’ll be frank: I like to stab people very violently with some razor-sharp kindness when they start to mansplain. My usual move is to pair something very frank and honest and maybe a little bit cutting with something funny and charming to soothe the wound. Being a bitch is fun, but isn’t effective in the longer term. Instead, be sweet and charming and take no shit. This is called being a Steel Magnolia, I think, although I never saw the film and don’t know what that means.
Here’s an example of what I would do.
Mansplainer: Using a computer seems really complicated, but here, I’ll show you. First, you turn it on. Then you click Internet Explorer. Then you type in Google. Then you ask Google how to open Firefox.
You: Haha! Okay, yeah, I totally love that idea, but what if we just open Google Chrome directly? I think what you’re doing has a lot of merit, but I’ve had a lot of experience with this.
Mansplainer: No, I’m a man, and I learned how to use computers while I was a fully-formed tiny human inside the birthing vessel of my worthless mother. Probably your uterus is distracting you from what to do, but my golden penis will lead us to the answer.
You: Hmm. I hear you, but I’m feeling very confident about how to handle this. Since this is one of my strengths, why don’t I handle this while you go jerk off into a jar?
Idiots need to be handled with care. Although they do not deserve special treatment, and you’re exerting a lot more self-control than they are, it is beneficial to maintain pleasant relationships by catching flies with honey, not vinegar. So don’t say that last part about jerking off into a jar. Basically, you need to keep your cool, but you don’t need to keep your silence. Point out your strengths, advocate for yourself, and gently cut him off when he gets idiotic. Stay pleasant, stay calm, and stay steely.
What should I be for Halloween? I want to look sexy but don’t want to participate in cultural appropriation. —Help for Halloween
Dear Help for Halloween,
In my understanding, cultural appropriation occurs when you take from a group oppressed in some way—dressing up like a slutty Indigenous Person, for example—and wearing anything that indicates that you are a member of a group without autonomy over themselves is shitty. I yearn to pee on people who dress as “prisoners”; like, have you ever fucking heard of the prison industrial complex, you shitty piece of human skankery? However, owning your sexuality is a goddamn right. Looking sexy while appropriate whenever you fucking feel like it is really fun on Halloween.
Here’s my time-tested move: be the slutty/sexy version of someone or something in a position of power. I’m going as slutty Phyllis Schlafly, because she fought against the Equal Rights Amendment, and I want to grind up on some strangers and practice some premarital sluttery as a big fuck-you to her “women belong in the kitchen because they are on a higher moral plane than men, but only men can make money or decisions” thing. Last year I was sexy Paul Simon because I respect the hell out of him and he makes great music about being a comfortable white man with a lot of money. Also, it was fucking funny to wear a mustache with a crop top. Being slutty is great; being slutty and smart is even better. Please don’t be a docile slutty animal; be a slutty and EMPOWERED animal, like a crocodile with a college degree who respects hirself and hir sexuality.
Halloween is an opportunity to lampoon the existing power structures, but never an excuse to mock those at the bottom of these power structures. Also, keep in mind that people have different ideas of what constitutes “sexy,” so respect your own preferences. You may be the sexiest piece of toast with jam you’ve ever seen, but maybe I hate toast and don’t find it to be sexy. Who gives a shit? Do it for you.