Write Like Everyone Hates You

I admit, sometimes I can be a special snowflake. Not a self-entitled one, but a little sensitive. My entire sense of self-worth is wrapped up in my academic career and performance.

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A couple years ago I sent in my first (and at this point, last) research paper for publication in an academic journal. I didn’t figure I’d go straight to publication, but I thought I would at least try. As my grandpa used to say, “The worst they can do is say no.” But there is worse.

Even though I didn’t think I’d make it to publication, I thought I might get enough constructive feedback that I could make edits and eventually be chosen for an issue. I knew my topic had a place in historiography. It was important and no previous research had been done (you’ll have to take my word on it, my dissertation is pending).

As an assistant editor of a historical journal at the time, I knew what to expect from the submission process being from both sides of the typewriter. Even so, I don’t think I could have been prepared for this.

I was still disappointed when I received the “thank you for your submission but…” letter I knew I was going to receive. I also saw that they had included the three reviewer’s comments. That’s what I saw as the true value of this experience anyways. I was getting free research and writing help from professionals.

The first two letters were extremely helpful, pointing out research holes and that I had taken on too large a topic for a thirty page article (they were right). The third letter, however, was a harsher written murder than I had ever endured before.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t told all through my academic career that everything I touched was gold. I had one professor that would get unintentionally tactless and utter phrases like, “is that it?” or “have you learned nothing?” I had one that didn’t have to say a word, all I had to do was look at her face. I was well aware that I was capable of less than stellar work. Plus, I am a Type A person to a fault. If I see the hint of disappointment I automatically assume what I’ve done is terrible and this person will think I’m stupid and hate me forever. I didn’t think anyone could ever criticize my work nearly as harshly as I did. I, again, was wrong.

This third reviewer, we’ll call him Carl, did not provide a sentence of anything that could be used to better myself. It seemed not about my work but personal. The hate he spewed clearly stated that I was hopeless and I should just never try again. I would share the exact wording, but somehow I have lost the letter. I stuffed it in a drawer somewhere and my memory has blocked out where I put it.

Now the disappointment faded and I was just plain hurt. The other reviewers gave suggestions of how to improve with a sense of “try these things, you’ll get better.” But this third one got personal, stating that I was hopeless and should just stop.

Carl seemed to almost have a personal vendetta. I shared the letter with my advisor at the time. He was enraged and called it unprofessional. I asked him if he knew Carl and he said yes, he had a disagreement with this person and that mere association could be the reason for the scathing letter. I’m still not sure if this is true. My advisor was such a nice man he could have just said so to save what was rest of my already fragile ego.

Sure, I got mad. I ranted and raved. Then, when I stopped talking, it got quiet. Except for Carl, now in my head. When I would write a simple book review, he would whisper ‘Why? You know you’re not good enough. You’re an imposter and soon everyone else will know too.’ My book reviews started getting rejected by journals. I couldn’t enjoy sitting and free writing anymore either. I felt that everything I touched was terrible and worst of all, I was stupid.

Now that I have passed my comprehensive exams, I am to start writing my dissertation. Carl is with me every single day. Some days I become so anxiety-ridden I’m not even capable of the simplest topic sentence. I’ve had a few when he’s been a little quieter and I’ve been able to finish a few pages. Then he returns and I have to resist the urge to delete everything.

I had a professor in my undergraduate say that the real reasons students procrastinate is because they are afraid what they do isn’t good enough. I thought he was overly optimistic at the time and the real reason people didn’t do their work until Sunday night was because they didn’t want to, and there were way more fun ways to spend a weekend. But Carl has made me understand what he meant. He was right. I am procrastinating because I fear what I write will be terrible.

Someday, I hope to finish my dissertation and mail that rat bastard a copy of my diploma (also the professor I had as an undergraduate that called me stupid for not knowing what a Roman forum was, and those who said I couldn’t finish it while holding down a job).

I recently read the paper I submitted for the first time since I received Carl’s insults. The other reviewers were right about it being too large a topic for thirty pages and that I should have included more analysis and what I think rather than just telling the story. But overall, I don’t think it’s absolutely horrid, or worthy of hanging up my historian hat. I will actually use pieces of it in my dissertation. Someday, I hope to also publish it as a book in which I will include Carl in my ackowledgements. There’s nothing that motivates me more than someone telling me I can’t do something. Sure, Carl is in my head on a nearly daily basis, telling me I can’t do it. But dear Carl, watch me.

f you

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Why Am I Doing This? A Dangerous Question During Exam Time for Graduate Students

Why Am I Doing This? A Dangerous Question During Exam Time for Graduate Students.

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I am a Ph.D. student in History. I am having an existential crisis. This can apply to people in any type of situation when it gets tough and makes you ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Sometimes you don’t have an answer.

To earn a Ph.D. in history at my university, you must take so many semesters/credit hours of coursework, earning a grade no lower than a B. That is not enough to prove your worth, however. You must take three, six hour long exams over three days, known as comprehensive exams (comps). The three exams are your general field (US history), secondary field (American West), and a minor field (Public History).

Why are these so daunting? For me personally, I am not good at tests. Sure, I know the information inside and out but when I am handed an exam I can’t even remember what name to put at the top of the page. I will do reviews, projects, or write you a frickin’ book but don’t give me a test. In addition, I am aware that the exam can ask anything that happened in the United States from 1492 until the 1980s. That’s roughly five hundred years of stuff. And you must know what every historian has written about each era as well.

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Yes, I’m aware it’s a form of academic hazing. It’s weeding out the lesser, supposed to be humbling, etc. As if taking (and acing) history courses for about ten years isn’t good enough. And humbling? What about surviving the professors that routinely made your colleagues cry and whose classes required multiple all-nighters (not from procrastination either).

What I’m getting at, besides being whiney, is today after I found out I must also submit a dissertation proposal during the exact same time as I’m supposed to be studying (and getting signatures from my committee is like herding cats). I made the mistake of asking myself, “Why am I doing this to myself? Why am I even getting my Ph.D.?”

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Most people go to graduate school to get degrees required for higher jobs. I went for my Ph.D. because I had just gone through a divorce, wanted to avoid a personal life, and only knew of adulthood through the lens of a college student. I genuinely love the classroom and reading, any academic pursuit really. If I had unlimited scholarships I would be happy doing nothing but being a perpetual student.

But then there’s real life. The place where I had to quit my dream job I went to graduate school for in the first place because it didn’t pay enough for me to survive on. The place where I work a horrid 40+ hours a week job with a verbally abusive boss before going home to stress over these exams. I’m proud to say that through hard work, scholarships, help, and luck I have no student loans, but I’ve paid dearly for that in other ways. Because I work, I am unable to dedicate myself to publishing (which is the only means to employment, if you can even find it). So why am I doing this?

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In addition, where I live, having higher education makes you more unemployable than a felon. I often lie and leave off my higher education on resumes or I don’t receive interviews or are flat out told I am over-educated, over-qualified, etc. Smart people need to eat too. (I’m serious about the felon part-I know of a registered sex offender that has a job that pays three times as much as mine)

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I wish I could end this post with an enlightened, ‘This is what I reminded myself of why I’m doing what I’m doing’ but I’m not there yet. I don’t have an answer. Maybe I’m doing this because I’ve already worked for three years to get this far into the Ph.D. Maybe because school was the only thing I felt I was ever good at and base my sense of worth upon it.

Perhaps this is why you seldom see sober Ph.D. students when they’re studying for comps.

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Self High Five: My Filter Broke at Work

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I’ve posted before about my soul-sucking time as an assistant here. To give you a better verbal portrait of my boss before sharing my triumphant yet gutsy (rare for me) comeback, I’ll give you a little context. He is a narcissist that feels most important when putting others down, specifically by calling them ignorant or indirectly implying it. He also doesn’t articulate what he wants very well. I have followed him from room to room in the office asking him five times in a row which exact file he had asked for because he had simply said “get me the file.” Considering we have four rooms with files from floor to ceiling, that’s pretty f$%^ing broad. Sometimes (ok, maybe more often) if you ask him a question or to clarify his instant reaction is god%$#^ it. 

Now, armed with that information, you are ready for the split second my filter from brain to mouth broke. I think I got a little piece of my soul back in the process. 

The Story

He calls me into his office to say, “Call [name of person] and tell him the attachment to the email didn’t work.”

Me “Ok, that person has sent several emails today and the attachments aren’t labeled so what document specifically do I need to ask him for?”

Boss “The god*&$% document.”

Me, in a complete deadpan voice and expression “You want me to tell him we need the god%$^& document?” 

I realize I’ve said this aloud, even though completely unintentional. But hey, it’s already out of my mouth and I can’t take it back, so I just continue my dead faced stare. He is actually speechless for a few moments, which in itself is an accomplishment. 

My awesome coworker tries to somewhat fix the situation and not laugh “You did tell her to tell him that.”

Boss, quieter “You’re being sarcastic” [Nooo, I’m really going to ask someone that, jeez.]

Boss “Tell him we need the [document name]”

It sounds like a little, insignificant thing but I feel it was a minor victory on multiple levels:

-He got a small taste of what it was like to have profanity coming from someone other than himself. 

-He heard what he sounds like because I just repeated exactly what he had said to me. I honestly think he has no clue how he speaks to us. 

-I made him speechless and was doing a little inner badass happy dance.

-I made my coworker laugh, which in that place we are all grateful to any piece of joy we can glean from each other. 

This is what my happy dance looks like. It's not pretty.

This is what my happy dance looks like. It’s not pretty.

First Post. Again.

So it’s been a while since I started this blog but my direction got a little confused and some s$&@, I mean life, happened. I hope to once again write posts soon as life keeps shanking me in the heart with events to write about.

Hello,

So I’ve decided to start a new blog. I figured I could either write in a journal that no one would ever see and I’d become tired and stop writing after a week. Or…I could write a public but anonymous blog  that perhaps others could find somewhat amusing even if only when they’re drunk…bonus points for those who enjoy this sober.

I wish to remain anonymous not because I’m some coward that can’t face life. I’m not going to be bashing anyone on here anyways but I want to the freedom to express whatever I want whenever I want. There will be things that maybe I don’t want my family to see, maybe things I just want to write about rather than talk about. That is a special kind of freedom.

So stick around for the ride, it’ll be wild! If you have any topic suggestions be sure to comment and I’ll do my best to cover it. Please refer me to your friends. The posts will be of different topics and types. Sometimes they’ll be fun bar talk, snarky soul searching, or they’ll be a random funny. Either way I hope to reach more people.

And yes, I did get this idea from the MTV show Awkward. I love that show…but I’m not in high school so the taste of this blog will be a little spicier.

XOXO

Things to Avoid When Hitting on Me (Or Any Person)

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I found this article the other night and thought I would share it as a sort of public service announcement. At some point, I’ll get around to writing my own version. But these are some basics that apparently some guys (or girls I guess) haven’t gotten the memo on.

Melanie Curtin, “Ten Things to Avoid When Hitting on Me,” Huffington Post, June 15, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melanie-curtin/ten-things-to-avoid-when-_b_3447210.html (accessed June 17, 2013).

“Being a moderately attractive young woman, I get hit on my fair share. I’ve noticed some of the same mistakes being made over and over by men, so I’ve decided to share them. This is in an attempt to spare both you, my fine male friends, as well as myself and other women, the cringe-inducing effects of such attempts at, um, seduction.

Here’s what to stop doing:

10. Don’t neg

This regretful trend in pick up is more than just obnoxious — it’s obnoxious and obvious. Negging, also known as “negative comments,” is praised by pick up artists everywhere, based on the assumption that negging a woman forces her to try to “prove” herself. This, in turn, supposedly puts the man in the power position, so he can get her to “do the work” rather than have to prove himself to her.

Does it work? Sure. The question is: who does it work on?

It works on women still constantly seeking love and approval from the world, from a substitute father figure, or from themselves. It works on women who second-guess their choices or clothes or the school they’re thinking of going to, based on an annoying comment by some guy at a bar. It works on women who don’t know themselves well enough to know that they shouldn’t waste their time with men who think they have to neg in order to not feel helpless in front of the opposite sex.

In other words, it works on women who suffer from low self-esteem. This means that in fact, negging is manipulative, underhanded, and in some cases downright mean.

I, on the other hand, will not respond well to you insulting my outfit, hair or drink of choice. Not only is it annoying, it makes it screamingly obvious that you are trying to run game on me… which is really not going to work.

Negging thus simultaneously attracts a woman who doesn’t know who she is (and is potentially a hot mess), and repels women you might actually be able to want to be with for longer than one night.

Sounds like a solid strategy to me.

9. Don’t lead with your money

I don’t really care how much money you make or what kind of car you drive. I mean, I care, but I don’t care that much.

Want to know what I do care about? You telling me about it. Straight up: it’s weird. Again, this may work on other women, but it doesn’t work on ones who have their shit together.

To me, telling me your salary says two things: 1. You’re probably lying; 2. You’re scared that you don’t have anything more important to offer.

Incidentally, you’re the same guy who gets pissed when the girl you’re dating assumes you will pay for everything. Gonna lead with money? Don’t be surprised when she expects you to spend it on her.

8. Don’t put yourself down

There’s nothing sexier than a man who insults himself before you even know him… NOT.

I’ve had guys tell me they weren’t smart, good looking or successful. I get that you’re going for the self-deprecating thing, but there’s only so far you can take it before I start to believe you.

Plus, I hate feeling like I have to reassure you, even in jest. “No, no, I’m sure you do just fine.” It’s tiring. And if you’re already using me to reassure you now, what would you be like in a relationship?

Finally, don’t kill the mystery. Give me a chance to figure out that you suck on my own. Seriously — we all have things we suck at. In fact, true intimacy is getting an insider’s glimpse into the things someone else sucks at and accepting them anyway.

This is also known as love.

7. Don’t get handsy

Unless it’s obvious that I’m really into you, stop touching my lower back, elbow or shoulders. It’s not that this is unpleasant; it’s just that it’s so obvious that this is something else you read in Pickup 101.

Seriously? I just told you I’m a sex and dating coach. Do you really think I haven’t read The Game?

It’s *literally* my job.

6. Don’t coddle me because I’m a girl

Don’t assume I don’t like whiskey or that I don’t know anything about cars because I’m a girl.

Now, I happen to hate whiskey and know next to nothing about cars — but I don’t like you assuming this is true. Doing so makes you look closed-minded and occasionally misogynistic. Get to know me before you jump to conclusions — I’m smart, sarcastic, sweet, well-meaning, unsure, and racy. Yes, some of those are paradoxical. Hi. Have you met me? I’m a woman.

5. Don’t make fun of my friends

Period.

Maybe one of my friends is a little neurotic. Maybe one is drunk and loud. Maybe one doesn’t dress well.

It doesn’t matter. You can’t make fun of them.

Not only is this unattractive, it reveals a disturbing character trait on your part: you’re going to talk about me behind my back in the same way. I’m creeped out just thinking about it.

Plus, I live and die by my friends. I’m fiercely loyal and you trying to dis them isn’t going to earn you any favors — in fact, you’ll be lucky to emerge unscathed. My wit is as sharp as the talons I wear on these dainty little feet of mine, and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of either one.

Trust me.

4. Don’t leave your sexuality at the door

There have been a remarkable number of men apparently hitting on me, who I only realized later were attempting to do so. I’ve been stunned — stunned — to discover that they were interested in me sexually. Bottom line, guys: if you aren’t owning and feeling your sexuality, I’m not gonna feel it.

I think a lot of men suppress the fact that they want to fuck because they want to make women “feel comfortable.” The problem is, flirting and sex appeal are by definition slightly uncomfortable. That’s why it’s called sexual tension. How many times have you heard a girl say, “It was so hot how I was in my comfort zone the whole time I was around him…”?

The truth is, you making me feel comfortable will usually make me so “comfortable” that I miss the fact that you’re dtf. Because when you act all buddy buddy with me, I assume you just want to be my buddy.

Nobody wants to fuck Mr. Nice Guy. So stop being him if you want to fuck.

3. Don’t try to make me laugh

It’s not that I don’t like laughing. It’s that I hate fake laughing.

Look — I’m a nice person. So when you say something that’s supposed to be funny, I’m going to laugh (or at least make a noncommittal whimpering sound to help you save face). But the truth is, many men who hit on me are trying so hard to be funny that it’s downright painful.

It’s not that I don’t want you to make me laugh — it’s that I don’t want you to try to make me laugh. If you think of something genuinely fun and funny and clever in the moment, go for it! I love that. It’s art in the moment.

But if you’re sitting there racking your brain for the next funny/clever thing to say, I can feel that, and I can feel how much you’re not actually paying attention to me while you’re trying to make me laugh.

Plus, no matter what you’re saying all I’m really hearing is, “See what a funny guy I am? Now don’t you want to fuck me?”

No. What I want is for you to relax and stop trying to prove yourself so that I can get a glimpse into who you actually are.

2. Don’t be cocky

I don’t care if you bench 300 lbs, hang out with famous people, or pick up models. It takes more than muscles, a Volcom shirt, and the fact that you “totally know that guy fromArrested Development” to impress me. It takes heart and soul and vulnerability and desire and backbone and groundedness and a sense of purpose and humility.

Because cockiness is distinct from confidence.

Confident men know what they have to offer on the inside so they don’t feel the need to prove themselves on the outside; cocky men are obsessed with the outside because deep down they’re terrified they have nothing of worth on the inside. Confident men are comfortable just being; cocky men think they have to constantly be doing to qualify.

Lastly but potentially most importantly, confident men already know their value so they don’t have to constantly talk about themselves; cocky men are busy talking about themselves in order to impress me.

Guess which one I’m actually impressed with?

1. Don’t take it personally if I say no

You could avoid all nine of these other tips and still get shut down. It happens all the time. And it sucks — I’m not going to sugarcoat that. In fact, I have mad respect for men who hit on women — you’re 20 times better than the guy who stands in the corner and does nothing. Even if you do everything wrong, I salute you for being a man.

That said, your efforts as a man are not always going to pan out. Sometimes women are just going to say no — myself included. And if I do, please don’t take it personally and then take it out on me. Hint: yelling, “Why you gotta be like that!?” really isn’t helping make your case.

In addition, some of the men I respect the most — and some of the strongest friendships I’ve forged — are with those who asked me out and I turned down. When I said no and they took it in stride, I had so much respect, faith and trust that they were able to handle themselves, that I wanted to be around them more. I wanted to get to know them; I wanted them to get to know me. They didn’t shame me for not wanting to fuck them, which had me feel secure. Ultimately they ended up seeing aspects of me that they never would have been privy to otherwise.

The truth is, attraction is a mystery. You can do everything ‘right’ and still get rejected. You can do everything ‘wrong’ and still get a date. The only thing we can all do is show up fully as ourselves and see if there’s a match.

So show up as you. You are not what you make or what you do or where you’ve been or who you know.

I want YOU: goofy, sarcastic, clumsy, outgoing, exhausted, generous, honest, frustrated, sexual, introverted, excitable you.

Hit on me with all that, and I might even hit you back.”

Newbie and Probie

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 This blog will run like a personal journal at times but I also have a few themes. Tales of the Cutoffs will be those who have a bit (or a lot) too much and must be cut off. BOA, or Bitch on Arrival, will discuss the douchebags that I’d like to beat with giant beer mug (but didn’t because this face wouldn’t do well in prison). Lastly, Pickups and Failed Funnies will feature all of the corny pickup attempts and jokes that only the teller finds hilarious.

First I must set up the blog with the beginning. This is how this all started…

So I’m a new bartender. No I’m not a person who’s never been around alcohol ever but I’ve just never been the one to make the drinks. I’ve always wanted to learn but never had the chance/opportunity.

I will not say the name of the place I work, just that it’s a place where the bartenders are female models with hair, makeup, image requirements etc. So that adds even more fun to the mix of booze.

We went through rigorous training, some days lasting for twelve looooong hours. We learned company branding, marketing, etc. before getting to the bar. For the bar portion we learned the company specials and most popular drinks. We also free pour-that means instead of measuring the amount of ounces of booze we pour and count, hoping it’s at least somewhat close to the amount of ounces. I realize it’s quicker but personally my OCD self prefers the known accuracy of the jigger pour.

Anyway I was (proudly) the only person to pass the free pour test the first time. Does that mean I’m comfortable and awesome at it? Yeah…no. Then we were timed on making two random drinks and had to take a written test on recipes, ounces of different glasses, signs of intoxication, etc. My state requires a liquor license, which involves answering four questions (one was “Are you a cop”??) and paying $30.

Despite my slow pace and inexperience I have tended bar for the last three nights. It has been interesting. I’ve cut off a table of twelve people and one person seated at the bar. I’ll detail those in the “Tales of the Cutoffs” themed posts.

Apparently there are a shortage of attractive females over the age of twenty-one so we are all worked to death in the bar. (Many places tend to hire more attractive women as they bring in more men and money) Along with other multiple jobs I was scheduled to work seven straight days of nine hours each and a double shift.

I had my first mini-meltdown. I’m normally not an emotional person at all but after getting only two hours of sleep at night and being at some form of work from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. I was a shortfuse. After seeing the schedule with no days off for another four days I was first pissed, then cried. And once I started there was no stopping.

Thankfully, once of the best people in the world ever said she’d take my shift so I could have the day off. Most of the people there don’t have other jobs so why I was one of the only ones scheduled without days off is beyond me. But I owe her soooo much.

So after today’s much needed sleep and rest, there will be more!