How to become a grown-up in 468 easy(ish) steps.


(Graffiti from a young lady, left after my mom shared this article with her high school students. That is a beautiful depiction of the act of whispering “pho-key-wa” to yourself whenever you leave a place, to remember that your phone, keys and wallet need to come with you.)

6th May 2013 205 notes , Comments

Step 301: It’s OK to freak out when good, big things happen

This big thing — maybe it’s your college graduation, or the start of a job you were really hoping for, or your wedding, or having a baby — is coming. And yes, it’s a happy thing. But it’s also a terrifying thing. 

So while people are — and should be! — happy for you, it’s OK to have mixed feelings inside yourself. You can go from insanely happy to inexplicably sad to weirdly apathetic to panic attack and back to insanely happy within the space of the hour. That is the nature of freaking out — it’s everything, all at once.

In my case, it’s the knowledge that something I have worked on directly for two years (and wanted since I was a little girl) happens in 10 six hours when my book publishes. I am ridiculously happy and also so terribly frightened. It can be both.

But my friend Jessica, who is also an author, gave me the best advice: Whatever this big thing that is happening? That is not you. That is a small part of you. There are so many important things — your friends, your family, your significant other, your pet — that you can focus on to calm yourself. Because that big thing may go great or may blow up in your face. You don’t know. But the more important things? They will still be there. And you will still be you.

P.S. Thank you so, so, so much to all of y’all who pre-ordered the book. I really hope you like it. I’m proud of it.

6th May 2013 548 notes , Comments

Step 300: Do not vulture on other people’s relationships

Friend who recently broke up with his boyfriend: Ugh. This guy keeps texting me. The whole time (ex-boyfriend) and I were together, he’d always be showing up and dropping hints, and now that I’m single it’s twice a day.

Boyfriend Dave: Oh man. He was VULTURIN’!

It’s not exactly great karma, but you are more than welcome to wish and hope and pray and cast voodoo spells against a relationship that contains someone you would really like to be with.

You can even — one time — make it clear to that person that you are into them, and if they should find themselves single, you hope you’re the first to know. Don’t touch them while you do this, because the point here is not to tempt them into cheating. You make yourself clear and hope that they extricate themselves from something that they maybe weren’t that into to begin with. After you’ve said it one time, you drop it and never speak of it again until/unless they are single.

You should not, however, be constantly pinging this person with texts and veiled invites and wheedling. Let that relationship die in peace, or thrive. It does not need you circling endlessly overhead, your creepy bald head glistening in the sunlight, your acute sense of smell picking up every sign of impending doom.

5th May 2013 369 notes , Comments

Adulting classic: Know when and how to end a conversation

At least 87 percent of casual, small-talk conversations last too long. The problem here is twofold:

• People are afraid to end the conversation and;
• “It’s time to end this talk” hints are ignored.

A solution to the first problem after the jump …

Read More

2nd May 2013 790 notes , Comments

Anonymous asks: “How long should I wait before I tell my friend to knock off his sad, sad breakup Facebooking?

Q: My friend is posting corny “I wish I could be with you”/”I messed up”/”I miss you” pictures all over his social media pages because his girlfriend left him for what I think is the second or third time. He’s obviously hurting right now, but this whole thing is making him look selfish and clingy. About how long should I wait until I call him on his douchey desperation?

So, first things first: people can lose their minds with sadness during a breakup. Believe me! I know! You can be sadder than ever seemed possible. That sadness fills your sky and darkens everything and you just bumble around, smacking into and falling over everything. A breakup can make the sanest among us reach new heights in pathetic ridiculousness.

But … but. Someday, your friend will not feel the way he does right now. But those status messages, like everything we tell the Internet, will live on and on.

Edit: If you aren’t close friends, you should probably just hide his updates and leave him be. 

But if you *are* close, here’s what I would say:

"Friend? I know you’re really hurting right now, and I’m so so sorry you’re going through this. You have a right to feel and say these things, but I think instead of broadcasting them to hundreds of people — friend, acquaintance and work colleague alike — you should say them to someone, and say them privately.

You can call or text or email me, or [mutual friend, mutual friend, relative he is close to]. And then, if you REALLY need support from a larger network, you can post a cry for help on Facebook.”

And … I’ll just leave this here.

2nd May 2013 106 notes , Comments

Step 299: If you don’t have money to shop, and lack willpower, do not “window-shop” as though that’s a real thing.


That’s like advising people on a diet to watch other people eating steaks for a little pick-me-up.

I LOVE thrift shopping, and seeing how cheaply I can find things is part of the thrill. But when I was 22, making borderline-poverty wages, I did not have $10. I learned, the hard way, that I will always, always fall in love with something at a thrift store, and there was no point in torturing myself by finding and then having to leave it behind. 

You are not going to want to shop less when you’re in a store. Don’t tempt yourself! Go somewhere that won’t make you feel sad and poor, like a park, or your equally-poor friend’s house.

1st May 2013 314 notes , Comments

Some additional very important secret GChat (GEECH!) emoticons

So we already discussed the crab — V.v.V (or, as alert reader penguinperverson put it, an emoticrab)— but here are some more. For science. And productivity. Scientific productivity.

\m/ is the devil’s horns, for congratulatory or Satan-summoning purposes.

+/’\ is a cowbell that rings. Because, cowbells!

[:|] is a little robot, but WHY NOT A WINKING ONE, GOOGLE?

</3 is a broken heart; deploy it when someone has cancelled your after-work drink plans via gchat.

annnnd, best of all …

>.< is a little wince that tilts her face to the side in disgust. 

1st May 2013 290 notes , Comments

GChat etiquette! Let’s establish some.

I feel like a good 40 percent of my direct contact with human beings comes via GChat (or, as I hope everyone starts calling it, “Geech”). It presents its own challenges, one of which is typified by the exchange I just had with a professional contact:

Me: love you
that was to my boyfriend
geech is a tricky mistress

12:53 PM
Caitlin: sorry, was talking to my boss about a book he’s pitching
I don’t mind a misplaced love you here and there on the geech

So. There seems to be no standardized Geech etiquette norms, although I would propose the following:

  • Green status always means you are available to talk. Red means you are available to talk to the people you like and have well-established GChat camraderie with. Otherwise, red folks get a cautious, “Hey, do you have a second?” If you are actually busy, go invisible.
  • Don’t ignore messages. A curt “Sorry, can’t talk!” is perfectly acceptable. This can be deployed infinite times until this would-be chatter takes the hint.
  • Long pauses are par for the course, as much gchatting happens at work. But it’s great if you can type “Phone call, back in 20” or whatever.
  • If you have to leave the conversation during someone else’s long pause, just say, “Hey, I had to go. Bye!” rather than just signing off.
  • I, personally, do not think that capitalization is necessary. I also think that you are allowed to use really embarrassing words like “totes” if you want. This is the Wild West of interpersonal communication!
  • All conversations should, in fact, be closed. Doesn’t have to drag out; a simple, “Have to run. Bye!” and then 45-second pause for reply is more than sufficient.
  • This has NOTHING to do with etiquette but it feels important. If you type this: V.v.V then it turns into a little crab! Geech, I loved you anyway but oh my God.

What am I missing?

1st May 2013 251 notes , Comments

Adulting classic: Do not expect “closure”, ever, on anything

This is a sad thing to post about, because show me someone who is seeking “closure” and I will show you someone who is not having a Happy Time. But that doesn’t make closure any more of a real thing that exists than, say, kind and gentle unicorns who think you are pretty and are eager to read your unpublished novel.

Because what you mean when you say “closure” is “magical verbal bullet that will make me not feel like shit, even though I’ve just been dumped.” And that, sadly, is not something that exists anywhere in this world.

Here is how you imagine a conversation that will provide “closure” would go:

You: Why did you break up with me?

Person That Broke Your Heart: Because you were too incredible, and way funnier than I am, and I felt like you could fly ever higher once you weren’t weighed down by me. I loved you so much that it felt selfish to spend one more second with you, because you have already brought me five lifetimes’ worth of joy.

You: Oh. Well, when you put it that way. 

But if someone were going to be honest about the reasons they broke up with you, here’s how a “closure” conversation would go:

You: Why did you break up with me?

PTBYH: Because I knew I couldn’t stand a lifetime of that humming noise you make when you chew, and I’m tired of having sex with you and want to have sex with other people — people who aren’t you, and who don’t make that humming noise. Also, my mom doesn’t like you.

You: Oh. Well, when you put it that way. 

And really, his or her reasons can probably not be verbalized. Think about the last time you broke up with someone without obvious cause (i.e., cheating, substance abuse, etc.) If that person demanded an explanation, could you give one? And would you want to give one? No and no.

So wait for closure if you wish, but you will save yourself a good deal of time and angst by accepting that it doesn’t matter why it didn’t work, only that it didn’t work. Some things will eventually close. Some things will never quite close. In the meantime, all you can focus on is moving forward.

30th Apr 2013 994 notes , Comments

Adulting classic: Check yourself when it comes to friends’ exes

(click to enlarge)

In a perfect world, we would view the exes of friends like we do zoo animals: some you like, some you don’t, none shall you have sex with. But this world of ours isn’t perfect.

It should be said that even though I made the “Go for it” box green, it’s really more of a yellow proposition. Every part of dating someone your friend has dated is either a red light or a yellow light. But social circles can be small. And I have some exes who I would genuinely be happy to see date friends of mine they were compatible with … and some that I absolutely would not be OK with.

This flowchart, and so many more, can live in your purse if you buy the book!

29th Apr 2013 258 notes , Comments