I Robit: Interstate Cyborg Games

We are about to play a game with our friends. In California.

I know, it’s not that surprising that online gameplay is already thing. It is the future, after all. But this is a live-action roleplay of sorts. And we (Ben and I) are playing as the robot.

With the help of two IP cameras, Facebook chat, and a microphone and headphone splitter on our end, we are your robot overlords R&D team recruiters. Also, we have no idea how to play this game

2:34 – We’ve read the briefing, we know our roles and the rules (in general) we are still not quite sure how to play

2:42 – We may have just sent for innocent cubes to their death.

2:43 – Oh wait, it seems like death is more impending than immediate.

2:49 – The second camera is in a bedroom for “private chats” Apparently some of the people in this game are traitors. What a world.

2:50 – Attempt to chat with humans in bedroom unsuccessful. But hilarious.

2:54 – A cat came into our room. Tried to make contact. Called cat a pretty kitty. Made smoochey sounds. Also unsuccessful.

2:57 – We are frequently at butt level

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We are not complaining.

3:00 – One of the humans is on time out

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3:05 – He’s escaped.

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[[3:16 – Hanging out with our friends without having to put on clothes, leave the house, or talk to anybody. We have found nerd utopia. ]]

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3:21 – The cloning booth has been explained to me.

3:30 – Accusations have been made

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These humans clearly distrust each other.

3:41 – We have picked 6 cubes for imminent death. No idea what happened to those other four cubes. They’re probably fine.

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3:50 – We have seen ourselves. We are glorious.

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3:57 – We have done our duty. It was for Friend Computer.

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[[4:15 – If we do this again, we think it could be cool if, instead of talking, we typed everything into a text to speech program. For maximum creepiness]]

4:27 – We have been voted least trustworthy teammate. Initiate overconfident deflection.

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[[4:40 – The one drawback to being remote is that we lack access to snacks. The snacks we have here are crap.]]

[[5:10 – We’ve developed a system where one of us operates the camera and the other of us talks, and we can approximate normal conversation, but when Ben has to pee, everything basically goes to hell.]]

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5:52 – Hey cat.

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Cat.

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Yes.

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STOP CRYING CAPITALIST SCUM

The business closes tomorrow and I have a very good attitude about it.

I am suiting up and I am showing up and I am being entirely too shitty at everything, but I’m here, in real clothes saying reassuring, normal sounding things like “It’ll be nice to make some money again” and “It’s a relief to have options” and “The experience is what really matters,” which are true but only half true because for the first time ever, I completely missed my period and while I’m acting like a level headed super mature adult woman about this, I have alternating panic shits and rolling nausea. Because my body thinks I died and doesn’t understand what I’m still doing here since I put all of myself into a thing for more than three years and now it’s dead so I must be dead too.

I’m crying alone in the bathroom like a responsible professional and I’m wearing things that make me feel strong and not weak and I am not going to let this get me down, no sir.

After all, I have no right to be sad. I have financial stability. I have love and friends and Career Options. We just put an offer on a house and it was accepted.

I have a husband who is nice and quietly consoles me when I come home without underwear sulking and feeling utterly disgusting. 

I am a pale shadow of the strong woman I am supposed to be. I’m a ridiculous house slut who’s vanity project didn’t work out and so now I have a weird hope that maybe I am pregnant so this baby can alien-style murder me and finally I can die doing something other people will actually think is useful, even if the act and practice of unbridled procreation fills me with dread.

Fortunately for all of us, I am as barren today as I always have been. I took two tests and made a joke about hemorrhaging to death so my husband will not worry about me.

I have had way way worse shit happen to me than this literal shit. This is just a thing, a temporary condition of gut wrenching sadness that makes me want to puke. Why am I acting like this? I have been here so many times before, but not this exact version of here.

This is a kind of alternate dimension version of loss where I can lose so much and still have so much more than I have ever wanted. More than I thought I deserved, to be honest about it. This business was just a part of me. A huge fucking part of me, but a little piece of my life, which is both mine and not mine. But in a good way.

I never had external structures before. I mean, I did, but not like this. I used to rest so lightly on the world because I know what a burden I am. I am so heavy. My emotions, my issues, my body, my everything has always been too much.

At a certain point, I just started holding myself in. Just hold this weirdness inside. But it comes out. In gross ways. Physically and emotionally gross ways.

I have lost everything so many times. So why does it feel so horrible to only lose a part of everything? Why am I not walking this off?

I never had the luxury to lick my wounds before. And I felt so much resentment towards anyone who did. I still feel it. Which is why I am so angry at myself for this weakness all of a sudden.

I used to have Good Days and Bad Days. I had a black and white view that fit my two-dimensional life and that was that. I didn’t have anything, I didn’t want anything, and it was just a coincidence that those two balanced out perfectly.

The problem with paradigm shift is that it can be as traumatic as the thing that caused the shift to begin with. I happen to be smart, but that doesn’t mean I was ever meant to have depth. I want so badly for there to be a bad guy who I can blame for these feelings and there isn’t. It’s just a shitty fucking side effect of having a life worth living.

If you never build anything, you’ll never have to feel the pain of it being torn down, or worse falling apart under the weight of it’s own inertia. You’ll never have to put on a Ninja Turtle shirt just to go outside because that’s the level of cold sweat anxiety you are experiencing that morning and Donatello, unlike you, is a good monster. Or maybe you will, but you’ll miss out on the building, which is so wonderful by contrast that at least there’s some justice in this horrible pain I’m in.

Hold on. I think I just realize something.

Editor’s Note: I did realize something: There is no such thing as avoiding grief. There are not enough superhero shirts or necklaces my husband gave me or yonic rings my great-grandma made in a million million earths to make that happen. This post has been slightly edited for mentions of stress shits (yes, it was worse) but otherwise will stand as a monument to this day, which had lots of sucky parts but also several really good parts too. Thank you people who told me I am a good monster, in all the ways you told me that.

How to Blog Regularly

I’m doing an experiment where I’m asking my friends to tell me what skills of mine they admire so I can either tell them how I do it, or do it and give it to them. This is because, as a part of our recent troubles, I have been trying (with varying degrees of success) to convince as many strangers as possible to find value in me and I’m starting to have trouble articulating what that is after so many interactions that are the conversational equivalent of being picked up and put down at a garage sale.

Matthew wanted to know how to blog regularly.

This is another one I feel a little silly writing about since I stopped blogging five days a week back in December, but I had previously kept that schedule since February 2012 with very few missed days. So I lasted almost five years blogging 5 days a week with no breaks. That’s pretty cool.

The most important factor in my obsessive love of blogging was a lack of creative direction at work. As soon as I started working for myself blogging became a chore, but I kept it going for two more years because I’d already changed so much about my life that I used blogging to give myself a sense of place, but I had less clicks, less traction, and more bullshit stories. Also I complained about starting a company a lot. 

When I started blogging, I felt stagnant, I wanted to make my own creative decisions and I wasn’t able to in my day to day life. I also missed writing. I was a literature major in college, I started my career as a copywriter, but at that point, writing was the smallest part of my job. So in order to feed that echoing emptiness, I started to blog.

Like working, writing for has been a huge part of my identity for as long as I can remember. For whatever reason, if I don’t write enough in my day to day life, I feel obsessively compelled to do it in any way possible. Before there was blogging, I journaled almost daily. In college I was always working on a paper, then copywriting. Writing is how I deal with stress when I can’t work.

One of the major issues since I started the company is that I write SO MUCH now. In the beginning, I blogged for my company , I blogged for my clients. Now Kate blogs for me, but I still write all the proposals, processes, and analysis. I also write for my part time job constantly. When I’m done with that writing, it’s really difficult for me to think of what to write about on my own time, although sometimes I still feel inspired.

The older I get, the more I value my ability to get my meaning across via writing. I don’t know if my social anxiety has gotten worse, or if it took 30+ years to notice exactly how awkward I really am in person, but my face to face interactions tend to leave me with a lot of stress about my inability to communicate well. I think I freak people out. I mean, I probably freak people out on the blog as well, it’s not like I’m a different person in writing or anything, but on the blog the person has the option to go away. When I’m right there in front of them saying this kind of shit, most people will also find a reason to go away, but it’s slightly more obvious for me.

Working and writing are the things in my life that belong to me the most. Which is maybe why I feel so gutted by my recent business struggles. It’s literally not business, it’s personal. Here I have invested in the two spheres of myself that have always been safe for me, and it didn’t work. I mean, yeah it worked for three years, but it isn’t working now. My happy place has become distinctly unhappy. 

Recently, I’ve been trying to answer the question of who am I without outside validation. Like the validation I got from work and writing all these years. So far, the answer is profoundly sad. 

How to Run the Show

I’m doing an experiment where I’m asking my friends to tell me what skills of mine they admire so I can either tell them how I do it, or do it and give it to them. This is because, as a part of our recent troubles, I have been trying (with varying degrees of success) to convince as many strangers as possible to find value in me and I’m starting to have trouble articulating what that is after so many interactions that are the conversational equivalent of being picked up and put down at a garage sale.

Heina wanted to know how to run your own show.

I feel a little funny answering this one since I’ve been thinking that’s the last skill I have at this point, but the truth is that even if we don’t make it through this round of We’re Fucked, It’s Over, I’ve been doing this on my own for the last three and a half years and I accomplished a lot of what I wanted (move to Oregon, make my own schedule, feel confident in my professional abilities – most of the time), as well as some things I didn’t even know I could do (aid in the professional development of others, pay a living wage, get rid of some debt).

Since the answer is such a complicated knot of experience, education and instinct, I’m just going to write about how I learned how to be my own boss and hopefully that will be insightful. Because there’s no right way to be a boss. There’s lots of wrong ones, and I’ve done that too. But leadership is not a tiny flag they hand you in first grade that you must carry with you always. It’s a responsibility that any of us not only can rise to, but that we have an obligation to strive for in whichever way suits us best. Not for ourselves, but for all the kids like us who probably didn’t get flags or maybe who did and were never given the opportunity to see the diversity of leadership styles and paths that are available to them.

The first business I had was called I’m Hungry and Scared to Go Home. This is actually where I learned to make stubbornness into a commodity. My friends all wanted to go to the convenience store and get ice cream. I very badly wanted not to have to go back to my house. I can’t remember if it’s because we had no money, because I was afraid of my mom, or both, but I was hungry and I needed a way to deal with that immediately. I walked up to one of our neighbors doors and asked if she needed any light bulbs changed or if I could sweep her walk. She told me that she did need a light changed, but that it was too high off the ground and she didn’t want to deal with the home owners insurance if I fell and broke my neck. She gave me $5 to go away. This is probably my most monetarily successful venture to date, both in terms of sunk cost vs. profit as well as the timeline to solvency.

I didn’t hold a regular person job until I went to college. I worked under the table as a house cleaner, a gardener, sign-shop assistant and tutor. One time I was even a background extra on a TV commercial. I learned that work made me feel, for the first time, like I was valuable. There was a one to one correlation between how much I worked and how much money people gave me. Up until I started working, my tenacity, my outgoing personality, and my assertiveness were punished instead of rewarded. In the working world, such that it was for me at that time, I was praised and–more importantly–paid for these skills.

In college, I was in the work-study program, and I learned for the first time that sometimes people just didn’t show up for their shifts. Other students I worked with would frequently not show up to work and not call and there was nothing the college could really do about it. But I lived in a reality where if I didn’t work, I didn’t eat. That had been there from the very first day of my working life. Add to that the feeling working gives me, and there is no way in hell I don’t show up. This became problematic later when my inability to take sick days actually helped exacerbate my horrible burn out, but almost every business owner I know shares this unwillingness to quit for better or for worse.

Success is so frequently the intersection of training and passion. All the different jobs I worked, all the hours I poured in to school, getting up day after day on three hours of sleep, making finances stretch, grocery shopping with a calculator, getting to that professional place and still hating the way that I loved work but work didn’t love me. Hating the way my fellow workers were exploited and mismanaged even as the work itself redeemed so many people, myself included.

At the last job I had before I launched this current venture, I really had enough. We were supposed to protect workers, and we manipulated them. We ground through good people and we used every bureaucratic loophole in the book to promote mediocrity in the interest of not rocking the boat. We failed to engage people’s creative minds, and we punished them when they tried. We were a bastion of paper-shuffling, blame-passing clock punchers. If we had processes, I would say that we made people slaves to it, but we didn’t even have that. Half the time we spent was used up constructing fantastical justifications for why we even existed, rather than going out into the world and showing people. We never kicked our own tires and as a result we were both unprepared and injured when something inevitably exploded. As a result, the executives used lay-offs as a way to balance the books, rather than the strategic restructuring that comes before a massive change in direction.

The one bright spot in my otherwise miserable childhood had been work. I had been useful and valuable and my last job stripped that joy from me as surely and as easily as a chef guts a fish. It’s important for me to recognize that my obsession with being useful is problematic. Ever since I was abandoned by my parents, I have operated on the fallacious assumption that I have to make people like me, or at least tolerate me everywhere I go. My own parents tossed me out. There must be something fundamental about myself, so fundamental, in fact, that it was obvious to them even before I could properly talk, that causes people to leave me, to forget me. Therefore, I will be the most useful person they have ever met. I will be the best, the stickiest, the most apparent human any human could ever be. And I know about this, I’ve said affirmations to myself, both naked and clothed, in every mirror I own. At a certain point, I decided the way to process this grief is to stop feeling bad about how it effects me. 

So, here I am. I have an insatiable need to be useful, that’s helped me collect some pretty necessary skills. I am passionate about work and working, and I have this theory that the key to market domination is to find good people and pay them good money. But I don’t have any money. Which is really my only problem. And I think I can solve that. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the key to being your own boss is to always have one more trick up your sleeve. By which I mean that you have to care about something so hard that you will reach up there and tear off anything you can find if it means one more day living life on your own terms. It’s more of a pathology than a skill when I think about it.   

The Experiment

This is an experiment. Perhaps a terrible one. I’m tired of trying to prove my skills have value to strangers. If there’s something I do that you wish you could do, or more specifically that you wish I would do for you or tell you how to do, post a reply here, or message me and I’ll turn it into a blog post, either about how to do the thing, or I’ll actually do the thing and send it to you in addition to doing it.

Because lately I’ve been feeling like my only skill is taking a beating and getting back up. Which is great, people tried to shame me about my apparent gluttony for punishment when I was a kid and didn’t know how to back down, but I’ve made my peace with tenacity and I do value it, but surely there’s more to me than that. Right?

Okay, So Maybe I Go Sideways with This Ship

Since I so brazenly shared a low point yesterday. I want to update you guys. Mondays are always hard when things aren’t going well because they represent lost time. Every Monday is a new week to try an catch up to where I think I should be. A blank slate with nothing to show for itself. By Friday, I’m either too exhausted to care, or more often than not, have at least something I didn’t have on Monday.

The thing about taking weekends off (from this job at least; it is Ghost Tour season) is that Monday becomes a weird monolith, rising out of the pool of weekend relaxation empty and terrifying. It’s better than working 7 days, 12-17 hours because that way had me skidding along the bottom of my abilities from day to day with absolutely no resources. This Sonic the Hedgehog style controlled fall while grabbing everything in sight is actually a massive improvement.

Like I said in the update on yesterday’s post, we went from 5 days to live to 3 weeks in the span of about 12 hours. This perceived massive recovery was actually my own cautiousness coming out to save me… after first hurting me because I was totally freaking out, but it’s a learning process after all.

I got no sleep Sunday night. I still got up, had my little cry, wrote my to-do list and got my ass to work. At the same time, I still took breaks for meals and drank plenty of water, which let me work longer and had me more clear-headed than if I had done things the old way and started working at 2am when I realized I wouldn’t be sleeping. Instead, I laid still listening to audiobooks all night and trying to breathe normally so at least my body would be rested and then I made sure to fuel accordingly during the day. When I felt like I needed a change of venue, I went to the coffee shop because I know from experience that trying to force myself to work in my office at home is impossible and even more exhausting than when I take the time to pack up and change location.

No matter what happens with the business in the coming weeks, I really appreciate the level of adulting I seem to be capable of. I get that there are a lot of ways to learn these skills, and I’m really grateful that I got to learn them this way, on my own terms.

I Go Down With This Ship

As you guys know, I haven’t been blogging at my regular schedule for the last few months. My podcast has also fallen off, even though I’ve been recording them (well, one of them). I haven’t had the time to convert and publish the files.

The agency has become my all-consuming priority. Despite the fact that I haven’t taken a cent of pay since January, I have spent every free second there, but it wasn’t enough. I took a part time job to offset costs, and even though I drew a firm boundary that the job came second to the company, I slipped in that regard so terribly and so obliviously that we have come to this point.

We are operational for exactly one more week and then everything closes down.* We’ve been here before. But we moved faster back then. I will carry on wrapping up loose ends until the end of the month and then we will close permanently.

And I don’t feel anything but obligation, though not in a bad way. For the first time in my life, I can really say that this is my profession in addition to being my livelihood and my passion. Because a professional knows that, no matter the circumstances you show up, you practice your craft, and you manage yourself. Catastrophic changes of fortune for better or for worse are only scheduling issues. Suddenly you have more time in the schedule, suddenly you have less.

This is something I should be writing about well after the fact. After I’ve pulled our ass out of the fire. After everybody is safely re-homed and nostalgic for the time I tried to start an agency. How delightfully young and unfettered. What an adorable little mistake those crazy four years of my life. Coming on the heels of the adorable little five year mistake that was Los Angeles after college, that was college itself, that was everything that ever hurt me or showed me who I am.

I don’t know what will happen. I can see the wrong turns that projected me off this cliff so clearly from this state of free-fall that I want to catalog them before I get distracted by whatever comes next, which will be entirely consuming whatever it is. Because that’s who I am. I only ever contemplate trajectory between the frying pan and the fire and I don’t necessarily mind it. If I didn’t do things like this I’d still be in the frying pan wondering about the bacon smell.

I should have broken more eggs. Ironically, for being such an off the cuff person, I became obsessed with process when I had other people working with me. The risks I took as an individual seemed untenable with other people on board, which may have been a smart impulse, but it went too far.

Even as I became very conservative in terms of process, I remained too casual in presentation. I realized too late that the things I did as a person to put clients at ease actually made them question my professionalism as an agency executive. I focused too much on my work and too little on my outcome. I was still a soldier when we needed a general.

As a result of all these things, I started to isolate. When it was crucial that I go out into the business community and represent us as the knowledgeable, young go-getters we were telling ourselves we were, I spent a lot of time hiding in my house or behind the laptop, exhausted from my part time job and my personal dramas, not just unwilling but physically incapable of spending one more second shaking hands and making business talk.

In the end, I rearranged my schedule, re-stated my priorities and dove back into community life, but it may be too late for us. I would like to say that I regret that these lessons won’t get to be applied, but they will be. Maybe not here, maybe I don’t deserve the luxury of applying lessons in my own company anymore, but somewhere.

If we close now, or if we close 20 years from now, I regret nothing. Even if I would do so much of it differently today. Part of me wants to say that I am sorry for the team I assembled and have to let go, and maybe it’s selfish but I’m not. I picked skilled, driven, smart women to work with me and nothing is going to stop them from being successful and lucrative wherever they go. I have complete faith that this was just a small interlude in an otherwise upward trajectory for us all.

For the next 5 days, I will be working frantically to save what I can. Like I said, we’ve been here before, but how many times can one ship sink and then bob triumphantly back to the surface? And is this the point where the captain becomes resigned to her fate, or is it the point at which she realizes she’s been driving a god damned submarine all a long?

* In the span of 12 hours this statistic has changed. We are currently operational until Aug 31. I don’t need to ride roller coasters, I have a business. For now.

Trump Dildo

Hey bros. Cool new thing.

It’s called Trump Dildo and you should get onto it dudes.

Regular Trump is boring.

Also he is lame.

Lame.
Lame.

 

Trump Dildo is cool.

Cool.
Cool.

Also he’s a dildo. Post Trump Dildo for coolness, Internet friend.

The Logical, Educated Argument for Replacing Every Picture of Donald Trump with this Dildo in Trump Hair

This is Donald Trump
This is Donald Trump

This is for all y’all Democrats because I know you love this cerebral wordy college shit.

Michael Moore has said he believes only satire can bring Trump down. So far,  Democrat offerings in that regard tend to be smug, overly-analytical and rely heavily on irony. A concept most of us only pretend to understand in order to justify the crippling student loan debt we acquired at 18 and will likely carry with us into retirement. We could have purchased a farmhouse in Missouri, but who wants to live in a fly-over state, am I right?*

Very few people fail to understand the concept of a dildo. It’s fake beef. A plastic, orangey substitute for what you really need. It has no pulse, no soul, and sometimes the dog finds it under your pillow and chews it’s sad helpless head off. It’s literally filler.

Thus, the humble dick joke. Uniter of wo(men). We already know from His inability to take a simple finger-mocking that Trump is fundamentally insecure, particularly about the size of his no-doubt underperforming penis. What better way to bring us all together behind this ineffectual tool than to ensure that a vote for Trump is explicitly a vote for Dildo.

Are you, Trump supporter, afraid of change? Are you angry that your elected officials don’t seem to work with you at all? Look on this Trump Dildo and despair. Don’t be swayed by Trump’s empty promises. Don’t forsake the real world for 5-speeds of artifice claiming to make your cunt America great again. Don’t be fooled by the technological marvel of his carefully sculpted dome, I implore you. Do you think that Trump validates your race fear (also known as racism)? Do you believe that he will keep you safe from those unpatriotic fucks who would import illegal immigrants at the same speed at which they export your jobs? I have terrible news for you. Donald Trump’s word is his bond in the same way that this cold, plastic buggerclaw  is your God damned boyfriend, do you get me?

Therefore we must draw back the curtain on this fool, my collegiate fellows and Dildo Trump is the way. Please cease this senseless overestimation of our quarry. The Trump voter will only appreciate our thesis in dick form. Go forth and propagate this image. For democracy. For America.

*This kind of shitty cultural elitism is why were losing to the human dildo, Trump, by the way.