Tag Archives: Advice

A tragic tale of self-employment

I started working for myself this past March. Despite the abysmal pay and lack of traditional employer benefits, it’s the flyest gig ever. I may not get health insurance or paid vacation days, but my boss sure is understanding. She’s like Ja Rule’s dream girl, a certified down ass bitch. Because she’s myself, and I treat me like my number one.

I am at once the best employer and best employee that ever existed. The synergy between me and myself is outrageous. We are so, so synergetic. That means we’ve synchronized our energies. (We’ve also synchronized our cycles—a convenient side effect of being the same lady.)

For instance, let’s say I want to take a long lunch break. Maybe I want to go on a half-hour bike ride to the rock gym, climb a while, go to Wendy’s for a baked potato and a frosty, and bike the half hour back to the office. My boss is 100% cool with it, because she also wants me to spend the majority of the workday playing and eating.

Or perhaps I want to take a little rest on the office couch and cruise Craigslist for kayaks and kittens—two things I have no intention of actually buying.* My boss encourages it! She too enjoys perusing the catalog of kayaks and kittens available along the Eastern seaboard.

Our company is the best employer in the country. Dogs are allowed, pajama casual dress is worn, and snack breaks are mandated every seven minutes.

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All right, that’s enough. You get it. I LIKE WORKING FOR MESELF.

I gots a little office in the downstairs of the Weight Watchers center where my mom works. It’s huge and cement and empty, but my space is cordoned off with a bunch of hanged-up sheer curtains. It’s kind of like being inside of a shower all the time. I have a couch and a mini-fridge and a desk Curtis bought me for Christmas where I do freelance work.

I don’t have any coworkers—a sad reality of working for yourself, since coworkers are good—but I at least have my mom upstairs. She’s even better than a coworker because she grew me and gave birth to me and is thus required to love me unconditionally and sometimes buy me lunch and drive me to work.

If I walk outside through my downstairs exit, my mom’s office windows are right above mine. Now that the weather’s nice, I’ll sometimes go outside to peel oranges. If I feel like having a chat, all I have to do is chuck a couple of orange peels at my mom’s window and wait for her to open up. She gets pissed but only because she thinks it’s a bird flying into the glass. And boy, nothing gets my mom madder than a bird’s death. That’s one of my most vivid memories as a child—my mom losing it whenever a bird flew into her car’s windshield.

“GODDAMMIT BIRD SHIT I KILLED YOU GODDAMMIT MOTHERFUCKER I DIDN’T MEAN TO BASTARD ASS UNLCEFUCKER GODDAMMIT TO HELL.”

She likes birds.

Anyway, two weeks ago I went outside and felt like having a chat. I didn’t have any orange peels but I needed something to throw at my mom’s window. They always use pebbles in the movies but that seems dangerous. The only thing my mom hates worse than an innocent bird’s death is the prospect of getting showered with shards of broken glass because a rock smashed through her office window. So in lieu of rocks, I decided to throw pieces of mulch.

This may be news to you, as it was to me, but individual pieces of mulch are hella hard to throw. It’s almost impossible. They’re not at all aerodynamic and they don’t have enough heft for heaving purposes. They suck. It’s like trying to throw, I don’t know, a single corn husk. A wadded piece of dry toilet paper. The top to a tube of chapstick. Anything light and stupid, you name it.

So I threw pieces of mulch at her window and none of them would reach. They’d get really close but they’d never quite make it. I could have given up—could have walked 100 feet and just gone to her office, or I could have called or texted or emailed her—but I didn’t want to. I wanted to throw a piece of goddamn mulch at her window and have a chat.

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I tried a million different ways. Overhand, underhand, super forceful, less forceful (in case the force was too much and was actually slowing down the mulch’s velocity—logic that makes no sense to anyone except me). I tried curving it left, curving it right. It’d come within inches of her window but would never reach. (Know that this was all done in sight of many, many motorists—the Weight Watchers building is on the corner of a busy intersection.)

After four minutes of trying every mulch-throwing technique I could think of, I still wasn’t ready to give up. I picked up a new piece of mulch and gave it my most powerful hurl yet. So powerful I probably would have thrown out my shoulder had I not instead violently twisted my ankle and crashed to the ground in a cloud of dirt and mulch.

I sprained my ankle and, worst of all, the mulch didn’t even make it to the window.

There are two lessons to be learned from this:

  1. If you want to get a person’s attention by throwing something at their window, DO NOT USE MULCH. It simply don’t work. Go for orange peels or, if you’re brave, a pebble. An apple core or banana would likely work too.
  2. If I ever offer you a job, do not take it. I am a stupid boss.

P.S. My mom did hear pieces of mulch hitting below the window, I’ve just desensitized her to it. I consider this my most shameful accomplishment.

P.P.S. I went outside to get a picture of the mulch for this post and couldn’t resist throwing a piece at the window again. I got it on the first try.

*I did buy a kayak. I couldn’t help myself, and I don’t even like kayaking that much.

 

 

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The Russian Bathhouse

It’s been almost two years.

It’s been almost two years, and I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. About the time I went to a Russian bathhouse.

A Russian bathhouse—or banya—according to Wikipedia, can refer to a number of types of steam baths popular in Eastern Europe. A Russian bathhouse, according to me, is an underground swamp hell, built of germs and hair and sweat where overweight Russian men glisten and beat patrons with branches.

In 2014, I went to one for my cousin’s birthday.

This cousin’s name is Caitlin. If there ever existed an objective list of the world’s most fun, pleasant people, Caitlin would be at the top. So, two years ago, when I found out she’d be celebrating her birfday in New York City (she lived in Puerto Rico at the time), I traveled down to meet up with her and join in on the festivities.

The festivities were fly. Caitlin, her friends, and I ate hamburgers on English muffins and drank drinks with alcohol and I think even danced dances, maybe. The next morning we ate bagels and peanuts and more hamburgers. By Sunday afternoon, we were engorged with meat and booze—and while the process to get there had been fun, we felt and smelt like beefy alcoholics.

Caitlin decided a trip to the Russian Turkish baths in Manhattan would reverse our feelings of beefish alcoholism. She told me that when she still lived in New York, she and her friend Nikki would go there all the time. It was really hot and intense, Caitlin said, but wonderful and rejuvenating.

“Well, I despise heat and intensity,” I said. “But don’t I love wonder and rejuvenation. Plus, I trust your judgment. I’m horrified by the sounds of this, but I will join you.”

“Word!” said Caitlin. “We’ll just have to buy some bathing suits first. I think today’s a non-naked day.”

If you’re ever invited somewhere, and you’re told it’s a “non-naked day,” I suggest you shout NAH THANKS PLAYA and turn the eff around. If a place a business has naked days and non-naked days, I promise it’s not the type of establishment you want to mess with. That’s important advice I did not learn until after I went to the Russian bathhouse.

We bought bathing suits at a department store in Brooklyn called Bobby’s. No disrespect to Bobby’s, but their bathing suit selection is … straight covered in pudding. For real—the day we went, every bathing suit available at Bobby’s had been manhandled by grimy pudding fingers. I bet you’re thinking, Pudding? Why do Bobby’s customers got such pudding hands?

Here’s a secret just between you and me, homie: Bobby’s customers probably don’t have pudding hands—they probably have poop or blood hands. But we told ourselves it was pudding because Caitlin’s friend Nikki was already waiting for us at the bathhouse, and the train was coming, and we needed bathing suits—poop, blood, and pudding be damned. I chose a shiny blue bathing suit and Caitlin chose a pretty teal one, neither of which we tried on, for $3.99 each. Then we went to the bathhouse.

When we got there, several men with round, gleaming stomachs greeted us. They were all half naked, sitting at tables, eating pork and mashed potatoes.

“Hey,” I whispered to Caitlin. “What’s going on with all this pork? Where are the garments for these men? THIS ALL SEEMS VERY STRANGE TO ME.”

“Come on, there’s Nikki. Let’s get our locker keys,” said Caitlin.

We got our keys and then went into the locker room, which was located directly off the pork café and had only the flimsiest of saloon-style doors.

“I like how these doors swing so freely,” I thought. “A very nice quality for locker room doors.” (My thoughts were hella sarcastic that day.)

We changed. Since it was towards the end of winter, I hadn’t seen myself in a bikini in a while—and I’d never seen myself in a bikini quite as sleazy as the one I got from Bobby’s. There was an alarming amount of pale flesh and dark hair (and I’m on the blonde spectrum, fam!). It was as if someone had dropped an industrial-sized batch of white bread dough on a dog groomer’s floor, picked it up, and then stuffed it into a glimmering string bikini.

“Yo, peep this,” I said to Caitlin, turning toward her. “I look like someone dropped an industrial-sized batch of—WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!”

“I …” said Caitlin. “Something’s gone astray.”

Nothing had gone astray with Caitlin—something had gone astray with her bathing suit. It was tiny. So crazy tiny. Child’s size small tiny. Which makes sense, because that’s the size bikini she’d purchased, child’s size small. It covered about 1/50th of her body, but that didn’t matter. She still had to wear it. And wear it she did! Right down into the depths of the bathhouse.

Imagine, right now, that you are sitting in a room. That room is made of stone blocks and is 130 degrees and has at least an inch of water on the floor. You’re wearing a dirty, undersized bathing suit, likely with someone else’s poop or blood or pudding on it. There are 25 other people in the room with you, some of them touching you, most of them grunting or moaning, all of them sweating like old men eating plates of pork and mashed potatoes. Scummy soap bubbles build up around your feet, and a couple branches float by. You find a long strand of hair between your fingers, from a different color spectrum than your own, fam. Two men start shouting at you in Russian.

That’s a bathhouse.

If you want to make it extra terrible, like Caitlin did, you can purchase a platza treatment. Doing so will get you 20 minutes of being violently attacked with branches and contorted in unnatural positions by a burly Russian man. She loved it; I did not. I did not even like watching it. I felt like the worst Samaritan of all time, standing there not doing anything while my cousin got the shit beaten out of her on her birthday.

After an hour and a half—an hour and a half of simmering in the sweat of strangers in a literal cesspool—we left. On the way out, the man who had whipped Caitlin with branches gave her a hug and promised the next visit would be on the house. I told you, she is objectively the world’s most fun, enjoyable person.

On the drive home back to Maine, I had the driver’s side window cracked. It was precipitating a wintry mix that day, and a plow truck in the southbound lane sprayed some slush across the median and it hit me right in the face. It was amazing actually, how fully it got me. A straight up white wash.

For scale: The experience of having a pound of gritty slush smack me in the face while driving on the highway was at least 16 times better than going to a Russian bathhouse.

All right, did it. I told my story, and now I will never speak of it again. (Unless you want to go, in which case I’m in.)

 

What to do when you invest all your money and then the market crashes and you quit your job

After several years of watching the stock market, I finally bought some of it. I went through a ridiculous rigmarole to get set up to invest through an investment company, and then I invested the majority of my savings. I won’t tell you how much exactly because that there ain’t none of your business.

That was in November. I invested in a total stock market ETF, which means that rather than investing in a couple companies—like Apple or Facebook—I invested in all of the companies. Or most of the companies. I don’t exactly know, but it’s something like that.

Anyway, I invested some money. I felt responsible and mature and rich. The stock market had been doing well and, I figured, would probably continue to trend upward. For a little while, it did. And then it did not.

The stock market straight sucks right now.

POOP

POOP

It took a giant poop dive (that’s a nosedive but into a pool of poop) and I lost a bunch of money. Again, the exact amount ain’t none of your business. Plus, to be honest, I don’t know the exact figure. But I’ve lost enough that it sucks. Losing five bucks sucks, and I’ve lost considerably more than five bucks.

Beyond that, I’ve also recently made the decision to quit my stable, decent paying job, and not because I have another job lined up. I intentionally do not have another job lined up, in fact. So not only have I lost money in the stock market, but I’ve also lost my source of income.

What does a person do when these things happen?

A person keeps her money in the stock market, because as long as humans continue to innovate it’ll probably return to pre-poop dive levels one day, and if she sells now then she’s really losing that money forever.

A person stops spending all her money on stupid shit like diet Snapple and fancy trail mix and crazy backcountry tents that she thinks she’ll use one day but of course never, ever will.

A person … I don’t know.  What else does a person do? You tell me. Please. It appears I am stupid and have made a series of very poor decisions.

On attractiveness and fanciness

Looking good is fun. Like, dressing up, wearing jewels and makeup and, I don’t know, barrettes? It’s fun. Makes you feel good. Makes you feel attractive and fancy, and that’s what life is about, ain’t it?

No, WRONG-O, life is not about those things. I’m not sure what life is about, but it’s not about looking good and being fancy. It’s probably about other things, like reproduction and survival.

Oh, looking good is what gets you a mate? And fanciness, as a display of wealth, is proportional to your ability to survive in the industrialized world? P’shaw. I heartily reject that baloney.

Imagine you meet someone. For sake of this argument, this someone is a man and a babe. He’s wearing a well-tailored suit and has an expensive hairstyle. He smells good. Nice, straight teeth. Muscled shoulders. You think, “One day, I’mma marry that man.”

One day, you do. And boy, he looks fly in those wedding pictures.

Chances are, you just got TOOKED. Any asshole can trick you into marrying them. That handsome man, he might suck. So many people suck, and the people who care the most about looking good are probably the ones who suck the hardest. This handsome man won’t want to chill with you, he’ll be busy getting his suits tailored and beauty snoozing while wearing his retainer. And when he’s not doing those things, he’s probably strutting around town, primping and preening and seeking admiration from others.

That’s not say all handsome men are scoundrels, nor all beautiful women. But definitely some are. Don’t let their looks sway you, and don’t let your looks sway others. You should aim to be as unattractive as possible. Got a chiseled jaw? Cover that up with scraggle beard. Got a neat butt? Wear puffy poodle skirts so no one can see. Then, when you meet someone and decide they’re worthy of your love, you can shave your beard and show off your donk. It’ll be a wonderful surprise for all parties involved.

As for fanciness being a symbol of your ability to survive, that’s bull, too. If you’re wearing diamonds and going on extravagant vacations to show the world how rich you are, you’re actually threatening your survival. Bad people gonna wanna kill you for all those riches, and the Earth gonna wanna kill you for your big ass carbon footprint. Motherfunk that frivolous display of wealth. Instead, show us aggressive saving habits and a frugal lifestyle. That’s how we’ll really know you got money in the bank to pay for our homes and medical bills.

A note: I wrote this because I looked stupid today and am soon to be unemployed. There’s a decent chance life is about looking good and being fancy. IDK.

(I used italics to emphasize “is” back there. Cool, wasn’t it? We got to bring italics back.)

WebCG: Sprained Nickelboob

Welcome to WebCG, the classygallie.com version of WebMD. WebCG provides valuable health information. Note: Just kidding. Nothing you’ll find here is at all valuable. I’m not a doctor and I don’t know your business, so do not believe anything you read here and certainly do not take it as legitimate medical advice.

Sprained nickelboob
Sprained nickelboob is a slightly uncomfortable condition of the human nickelboob. The nickelboob is that triangle-shaped, nickel-like indentation centered smack dab between the boobs. Also known as the xiphoid or xiphoid process, it’s where your ribs connect to your sternum. If you twist or reach the wrong way, it can get tore up. If it does, it hurts a little bit. Not enough to totally wreck your day, but enough to make you want to complain about it.

In some circles, sprained nickelboob is also known as costochondritis. Those circles are typically hella nerdy, the kind doctors run in.

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I call this “human nickelboob.” Others call it “Xiphoid process frontal” by Anatomography – Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.1 jp

Causes
Moving in a funny way that your body doesn’t like. It could be just one funny movement or a lifetime of funny movements. I guess you could get it if you have a cold and you’re coughing like crazy. Or you could get it if you’re way too hard on your nickelboob in general. There are probably lots of causes. I don’t know like I said I’m not a doctor.

Symptoms
Painful nickelboob, especially when you move funny or someone pushes down on it really hard (a doctor, for instance). I recently sprained my own nickelboob and goddamn did a doctor push the crap out of it.

When to seek medical care
Here’s the deal: If it’s really just a sprained nickelboob/costochondritis, a doctor’s visit is probably overkill. You’ll be told to apply ice and heat to it and to take over-the-counter pain medication to reduce discomfort. It’ll probably heal pretty quick and you’ll be back to pain-free nickelboobing.

That said, a hurty chest is a symptom of a lot of scary health conditions and it’s best to know whether or not you’ve got any of them. A doctor will check all your vitals to make sure business is in good working order. They’ll want to make sure that you’re breathing fine and that your legs aren’t swollen, numb, or otherwise acting kookily. They’ll also want to make sure you’re not feeling nauseated or feverish. They’ll take care of you. It’s never a bad idea to have a doctor check a hurty chest.

Cures
Time. Time heals all nickelboobs.

Surfing in the Winter

If you want to surf somewhere cold—like Maine in the winter, maybe—the first step is getting a thick wetsuit. If you don’t already have a thick wetsuit, visit your local surf shop and follow these steps:

AT THE SURF SHOP
Seek help from one of the friendly employees. Ideally you’ll find the owner of the shop, maybe a 60ish-year-old gentleman named John, and he’ll lead you to the wetsuit section of the store. You’ll want to be on your cell phone at this point, so John knows you’re important and not that serious about wetsuits. But you’ll also want him to sympathize with you, so knock over a skateboard display and fart a rotten one. This will show him you’re both down-to-earth and helpless, and it will endear you to him.

PICKING OUT THE SUIT
Follow John’s lead on this one. He knows how cold the waters can get, and will recommend the right ones to keep you warm. Some of them will have hoods, some will not—just make sure you tell him your sisters used to suffocate you under blankets and that you hate constrictive clothing and struggle with claustrophobia. He will not understand, but you’ll feel better having told him.

THE FITTING ROOM
John will escort you to the fitting room, likely located directly across from the main entrance of the store. Tell him you’re wearing underpants—not a bathing suit—under your clothes, and ask if that’s cool. Remember, you will have earned his pity from the skateboards and the farts, and he’ll reluctantly let it slide.

TRYING ON THE SUITS
Put on the first wetsuit. Since it’s supposed to be warm enough for cold-water surfing, it’s going to be crazy thick—six millimeters, even. Squirm your way in as best as you can. Then, once you’ve zipped yourself up, walk out from the fitting room and into the main part of the store, and ask John to check you out. He’ll tell you your crotch is sagging, and then he’ll make you tug at your junk for the next ten minutes. Finally he’ll tell you the wetsuit’s positioned correctly, and you’ll tell him you’re choking and that you “hate this so much.” Retreat to the fitting room.

TAKING OFF THE SUITS
Remember how you squirmed your way into the wetsuit? You will now realize that your shoulders are too broad and your fingers too weak to squirm your way back out. Tug helplessly for five minutes, get so sweaty the suit sticks to you even worse, and then run out of the fitting room shouting for help. Remind John about how much you hate constrictive clothing. Ask him to get you out of that GODDAMN THICK ASS FUCKING WETSUIT.

STILL TAKING OFF THE SUITS
It will require two people—John and a high school girl who works there—to get you out of the wetsuit. When they’re done, thank them by explaining, again, how your sisters used to try to suffocate you with blankets. You will notice both John and the girl are uncomfortable yet amused. Look down and realize you are in your underpants in the middle of the store (just the top half, but still definitely underpants). Hasten back to the fitting room.

NEXT STEPS
Do not buy a wetsuit. Do not surf anywhere cold.

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Should I Get a Dog in My 20s?

Are you in your 20s and trying to decide if you’re ready to get a dog? Do you want an adorable creature to take pictures of, but not sure if you’re really up for the responsibility of caring for it? Lemme give you my version of the lowdown on dog parenthood.

What to Expect During Puppyhood
Puppies are cute. They got this stank skunk breath that smells wonderful, despite the stank skunkiness of it. They hip hop around and chase butterflies and are soft and snuggly and floppy. And yet, much like Ben Franklin, puppies are the devil.

They pee and poop on your things—usually your floor, but sometimes other things, too. Like your bed. When my dog, Dizzy, was a puppy, he peed on my brand new mattress in the middle of the night. I took him outside to finish any remaining business, he didn’t do anything except sniff, we came back inside, and then he pooped in the hallway while I was trying to clean my mattress. I texted my mom and said “I WANT TO PUNCH HIM SO BAD RIGHT NOW.” That’s a terrible thing to think and to say, but I did want to punch him. Peeing in my bed I could forgive, but pooping in the hallway! After I’d just taken him out! I didn’t punch him, but if he were a person I maybe would have.

If you don’t want your puppy to pee and poop on your things, you’ll have to take him outside all the time. And you’ll have to follow him around the house to make sure if he does pee or poop, you can catch him in the act and tell him to quit it. Even if you work really hard at that, it still might not make a difference. Dizzy was still pooping inside after eight months. The little bandit pooped TWO TIMES during dog obedience school—in the middle of class, right in front of the dog trainer. Watching puppies all the time is exhausting, and it doesn’t even necessarily make a difference.

Other bad things puppies do: chew your things, chew other people’s things, bite you, bite other people, bark, try to eat stupid things that will kill them, take up all your time, take up some of your money.

Before getting a dog, you only ever have to worry about yourself. After you get a dog, you’ve got a real live creature whose well-being depends almost entirely on you. It’s a big adjustment. Before bringing home a puppy, make sure you got back-up. If it weren’t for my parents, I don’t know if I would have made it through Dizzy’s first couple of months. It was weirdly sad and lonely. Felt like I had postpartum depression or something (I say “or something” because I’ve never had a human baby and I don’t know what postpartum depression actually feels like). Dizzy and I are super tight now, but puppies are dicks. Know that it’s not all snuggles and selfies.

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BUT STILL SOME SELFIES Y’ALL

What to Expect During Doghood
Having a dog definitely gets easier once they get a little bit older. They stop with all the indoor peeing and pooping, mostly. They can be left alone for hours at a time and trusted not to eff up too much of your stuff. Though they’re probably not as cute as they were as puppies, they’re still cute and they suck way less.

They will continue to cost you money. Dog food and dog toys and vet visits aren’t cheap. They will continue to take up your time, because they rely on you for entertainment and exercise and love. Also they get a little bit smellier. Most dogs will seek out rotten things outside just so they can roll in them. Their breath loses its puppy scent and instead smells like old hamburger and salmon. Dogs with long fur get poop stuck in the fur around their b-hole. If they’re like Dizzy and they suck at peeing, they splash pee on their legs and smell bad that way, too. Expect to do gross things, like pull rope out of their butt and cut matted fur off their wieners (if they have wieners).

Besides the gross parts, though, grown dogs are the bomb. They love doing activities and will be down for almost anything, unless it involves vacuum cleaners or fireworks. They’ll probably stare at you a lot and that’s annoying, but they’ll also be stoked when you come home from work and will keep you warm in bed if you let them sleep with you. All good things. Remember though: They are work. They need exercise and love. Be a person that’s cool with exercise and love.

For real: You ready?
In your 20s, most people are used to living young and wild and free. So what you get drunk? So what you smoke weed? You’re just having fun, you don’t care who sees. So what you go out? That’s how it’s supposed to be. But then you get a dog, and all that gets much harder. You want to drink booze and smoke marijuana? Your dog needs a walk, not a rain shower in the studio, Wiz Khalifa.

A few questions to answer before getting a dog:

1. Do I like dogs?
2. Do I like the dog I’m thinking about getting?
3. Do I have enough money to pay for food and vet visits?
4. Am I OK with spending that money or am I too cheap?
5. Am I lazy?
6. Do I mind gross things?
7. Am I all right with the outdoors?
8. Am I cool with exercise and love?

If you answered yes, yes, yes, yes—OK with it (not cheap), no, no, yes, double yes, then you’re probably ready to get a dog. Good luck!