Let Me Give You Some Advice


There’s a lot of great stuff out there on the internet today. A hairless cat, for instance, walking around in a bathtub half filled with water (I lost the link, I’m sure you can see it with your mind’s eye). And then there’s this great article about how a random small town in New York is going to get a state funded comedy museum that I will never be going to because of 1. The Location and 2. The Price of Admission. And then, of course, there’s the Hurricane and DACA (seriously, you can find the links that suit you.)

So it’s hard for me to think what to add. If I had a lot of money, or could control the weather, this post would be a lot more interesting.

Although, I’ve noticed, that sometimes people with vast amounts of money think that they should be able to control stuff like the weather, or at least other people. That’s my brilliant observation from afar–I don’t personally know anyone with millions and billions of dollars. I know people who have plenty to spare and people who are scraping by–but no one so rich or so poor that all the clichés on both ends would click into place.

One way to pretend to control people and the weather with all your money, of course, is to work on your lifestyle brand. I know, I’m going in a big circle here, but bear with me.

One thing I really hate, almost as much as the verbing of the noun ‘gift,’ is being told, especially by my husband, that I’m really good at Homeschooling. This may or may not be true, but what happens when he says it is that all my failures rise up like a hurricane force wind to stir up the internal contradictions of trying to be one kind of person, or good at something, and not being able to. I may be able to project the illusion of competence, and I may even have some small successes, but truly, the substance of my work is as but dust, or really, mud bricks being made into some ghastly pyramid. Maybe it’ll look nice and last, but who knows. Coming along and saying, ‘You’re amazing,’ really just emphasizes the hideousness of the task and my own ability to do it.

Which is why I never ever ever like to give advice. I just don’t. I don’t have any idea what you should do–whether you should homeschool or not, what you should make for dinner, how you should live your life. Occasionally I fall from this principled resolution and launch in and tell someone else what to do, but always as the words are coming out of my mouth I realize what a farce, what a bad thing it is that I’m doing.

Because you, if you look to me, will surely go wrong. I can’t get my own life together. How on earth would I know how to help you with yours? But you know, if you gave me a million bucks, and I got my hair, teeth, and nails done, and I had a Personal Assistant, and suddenly all my kids were dressed in perfectly torn designer jeans, I might suddenly feel a lot more competent, and more deluded about the kind of person I am, and I might think, ‘you know what would be great, if I marketed this disgusting green smoothie because it’s making me feel awesome and I bet it will help everyone in the whole world’s digestion!’ Or, worse, ‘you know what would be great? If I took the simple life lessons I’ve learned from my mediocre prayer life and half baked reading of the Bible and made them into a best selling book! I’ll tell you how to know God better!’ Never mind whether or not I have any real ability to know God myself.

And because you, just like I, feel cruddy about the quality of your abilities and your life, if I came along with amazing hair, you would probably think I knew what I was talking about and, in your desperation, maybe you would buy my product. I mean, surely we both, you and I, have looked carefully at goop’s million dollar tote bag and considered, just for a fleeting second, that it would produce good or even fantastic homeschooling acumen…that wasn’t you? That was just me? Blech.

Politicians, like life style gurus, should be required to have a lot less money at their disposal. Upstate New York doesn’t need a billion dollar Comedy Museum that no one will ever go to, and I don’t need a life style brand. We both, me and New York, are too poor and too incompetent to do anything that well. If anything good ever does come of the substance of all my labors, it won’t be because I knew what I was doing or got my life together. It will be because I had great hair and I fooled you into believing me…no wait, that’s not what I was going to say.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch the hurricane roll in on my phone while my children learn to spell or something.


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