My dog likes popsicles. Specifically, my dog likes grape popsicles, but she only really likes them if you hold them for her while she licks them. If you put the popsicle down even for a second, she gets bored and she stops licking.
My point is this; my dogs’ obsession with popsicles is a lot like the American public’s obsession with the media. We all suck it up as long as someone is spoon feeding us the information, but the second we’re expected to do anything for ourselves, we lose all interest.
Case in point; everything gives you cancer.
In the ten years I’ve been online, I’ve been sent about 7000 messages indicating some innocuous thing like number two pencils or pork barbeque was going to give me cancer. This mass panic works. People share the message. They comment on the message.
They all get together and lick the giant purple popsicle.
Here’s the truth people. EVERYTHING gives you cancer. When I was in the Germany, I joined a debate class mainly out of boredom, but also to get out of work details. I was only auditing, but I was still given the opportunity to make a speech when Spring finals came.
My speech was entitled ‘the benefits of smoking’ and I pissed a lot of people off. I pointed out the decline of obesity rates in smokers and I pointed out the positive economic impact of smoking. When people argued cancer statistics, I came up with some statistics of my own.
Specifically, in a free thought poetry format I named about 400 chemicals, that you will find everyday in products in your house, that will give you cancer. Not making this up. Email me if you want the list.
After that, everybody shut up, not just because of my mad, mad lyrical skills, but also because everyone knows the Germans can’t rap.
The truth is that cancer isn’t that complicated. It is nothing more than cells multiplying at maximum pace. Once they multiple fast enough, they go from ‘calcifications’ to tumors. How do you get those cells to multiple? Constant friction.
You ever rub your hands together real fast and little rolly balls of skin start to come off? That’s pretty much the explanation of cancer, only it’s happening inside your body where you can’t control it. Much like constant friction on the inside of an oyster will create a pearl, constant friction on the inside of a human body will give you cancer.
So yes, everything will give you cancer. Hell, if I rubbed a strawberry under my left armpit long enough I’m sure I would eventually get cancer. Because the formula for cancer is surprisingly simple. Constant friction results in frequent cell turnover, but when that friction tells cells they need to turn over faster, they start creating new cells.
But cancer, no matter how simple, is still sexy. It’s still news. Those news stations want you to tune in so you can see how your air fresheners, your carpet clearer and your box of California raisins are all toxic. After all, imminent death is news worthy. The results of friction aren’t.
Everything gives you cancer. If it hasn’t yet, it will soon. But I don’t panic and I don’t argue. Instead, I start rubbing another strawberry under my armpit and I say “I’ll see you in hell bitches.”
Because if everything can give you cancer, then there’s really nothing left to avoid, now is there?
You never really wind up where you thought you’d be. I think that’s kind of the whole meaning of life.
But if I could freeze frame a moment in time, I would freeze frame this. Me and Sara sitting on the hood of her car, at Jericho pond outside of Berlin New Hampshire. We passed a joint back and forth. I told her I was gonna be a famous writer. She told me that she was going to marry the trophy husband to end all trophy husbands.
What can I say? It was Berlin New Hampshire; our dreams were small.
Less than half an hour later, our idyllic haze was lifted by the entrance of Sara’s boyfriend. I was left behind with Sara’s bitter friend, Jesse.
Jesse yakked about his ability to steal car stereos for about 20 minutes straight, while I tried to look interested. I mean, how hard is it to steal a car stereo? See car…insert screwdriver. Done. It’s hardly rocket science.
But then Jesse started yakking about his big city dreams. At one point, he looked over at me and he said. “Nah, you don’t get it. You’re a hick. You were born to be a hick. You’ll never get out of Berlin, New Hampshire.”
Rest assured, I wasn’t offended. By the time I was 18, I learned what it was like to be the smartest person in the room, when your room was filled with a bunch of Forest Gumps with no ambition. I knew that people not as bright as me resented me and I wasn’t that impressed by anyone’s ability to steal a car stereo. Hell, a monkey with a screwdriver could do that.
But it got me wondering, what about having small town aspirations is so bad? What if I had decided to stay in Berlin New Hampshire? What if I had decided to carve out a life for myself in a town that boasts less than 10,000 residents? Would that mean I gave up? That I didn’t think I could hack it in a city?
Nope. I’m going to go ahead and disagree with that one.
Both types present their own form of challenges. In a city, you live with an anonymous past and you try to find a way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. In a small town, everyone knows your past and you try to find a way to get the people there to forget about the things you’ve done.
Now, I’ve acclimated myself to a lot of cities and I’ve acclimated myself to a lot of small towns, but I always found those small towns the hardest to break into. Because when you become part of a small town, it’s almost like marrying into a family. Sure, you’re technically a part of it thanks to some legality, but you can’t really become part of it but for the approval of the people.
In a big city, I show up, I pay my rent and no one gives a fuck. But also, no one gives a fuck if I’m dead in my apartment for 3 days while my dog eats my face.
You give a little, you get a little.
I have a friend. I have a really sweet friend who once told me, “I don’t care about money. I don’t care about love. I just want to find a home.” Then, after that inspirational statement, she vomited on my shoes and passed out on the floor.
City living at its best.
That was when I realized, you don’t really need to choose one or the other. You can make friends in a city as easily as you could make friends in a small town. What matters is your perspective. You get what you put in.
So I’m not a small town girl, nor am I a big city girl. I’m simply a citizen of the world.
That day, Jesse was right. He wasn’t right in calling me a hick. I had an IQ at least 40 points higher than his and I also knew that stealing a stereo didn’t mean shit if you didn’t take the base box with you, but he was right about one thing.
I didn’t really belong anywhere. I saw the cities and the small towns for their flaws and I never looked deeper. I went from place to place and avenue to avenue trying to find a home, when I should have known that home was right in front of me.
I’m a citizen of the world. I blend seamlessly into it because I know that I’m not that important. Every now and then I do something that matters. Every now and then, I say something that matters, but I don’t say it on behalf of any given place.
I say it for me and I say it because it needs to be said. I would have said it regardless of whether I lived in a big city or a small town.
Where you live is not an accomplishment. If by an accident of your birth, you were born in New York City or Kenosha Wisconsin, you’re not special. You’re not special until you do something that makes you special.
You know when I became special? It happened on a hot summer night, sitting on the hood of my friend Sara’s car up at Jericho Park in a tiny little town that no one gives a shit about.
I picked a lofty dream, despite the fact that I had small town roots and I made that dream happen. But when it did, it wasn’t about where I came from. I could have been born in a small town and I could have born in a big city. Either way, the results would have been the same. I would have grabbed the world by the nut sack and I would have made it do what I told it to do.
So I’m not a city girl and I’m not a small town chick. I’m simply a citizen of the world. I’m a citizen of the world because I know this.
It isn’t about where you came from. It’s about where you go.
As you all know, I like to delve into various writing styles. I write in everything from technical non-fiction, to pulp novels to erotica. But there is one area I have never tried out before…until now.
If we’ve learned anything from Stephenie Meyer or Jaime McGuire, writing young adult romance is a fucking goldmine! If they can do it, why can’t I?
And why can’t you for that matter? As I was researching into this, I found many of the following common themes that I am going to use to make me a quadrillionaire.
So here are my tips for writing a shitty young adult novel that will have readers banging down your door for more. Then, you can cash in again by writing the same story from the heroes point of view.
Essa’s Tips for Writing a Shitty Young Adult Novel
- Your heroine must be beautiful, but she must have no idea that she’s beautiful To underline this lack of confidence, she should regularly trip over her own feet and she must dress like a bag lady…right up until her gay BFF gives her a makeover.
- She must have a gay BFF. Gay BFFs have three benefits. Number one, they show other girls how trendy we are. Number two, they show boys that other boys like us. Number three, those straight boys won’t be intimidated because our gay BFF isn’t competition. Because god forbid a chick be friends with a guy who is straight.
- The boy must qualify as a bad boy, but he also must be redeemable. See, in real life, these high school bad boys with the tattoos and the muscles spend all their time being tough and cool, instead of getting good grades and applying for colleges. After high school, these bad boys trade in their motorcycles for jobs pumping gas and peddling small amounts of weed to local teenagers. At night, they become ‘that creepy old dude’ at the high school kid’s parties. But in the novel world, the bad boy is secretly a genius who only needed the love of a good woman to set him on the right track.
- All the other girls in your book, aside from the kooky, weirdly overprotective best friend, are sluts and bitches who want nothing more than the leading man. Actually, every single woman on the planet should be obsessed with the leading man, even the lesbians. Because lesbians don’t exist in the young adult world. Only sluts, bitches and the kooky best friend exist.
- Never underestimate the power of exclamation points! Exclamation points make everything more exciting! Why describe how exciting something is when you can just phone it in with punctuation!
- Every man on the planet who isn’t the leading man is a nefarious, evil stalker who will eventually attempt to rape the female lead…if she hasn’t been raped already. Because there is nothing more romantic than a graphic attempted rape scene in novel aimed at young adults.
- The hero must commit several felonies to prove his love for the heroine, up to and including; beating the shit out of any guy who dares talk to the heroine, kidnapping the heroine, breaking into her house or repeatedly stalking her. These same crimes would usually be creepy if an ugly guy did it, but the hero gets away with it because he’s hot.
- When in doubt, also make the bad boy a vampire or werewolf…fuck it, make him a werewolf/vampire/pirate.
All right people, I’ve got to get to work on this. I’m estimating I can churn out one book like this a week for the foreseeable future. After that, all there is left to do is count my money.
Today, something that most people call inspiring kind of set me off. Specifically, it’s the new Cover Girl, “Girls Can” campaign.
There are so many things I hate. I hate peas and cold weather. I hate fan fiction. I hate Kirk Cameron, the Taliban and people who clap when the plane lands.
But above all, I hate being patronized.
In case you haven’t seen this ‘inspiring’ new gem, it features a group of female celebrities, who normally, I don’t hate. These ladies spend the entire commercial talking about how hard it is to reach the top as a woman in music, business, and a whole host of other industries that are apparently allergic to vaginas.
This is all done for a campaign for a make-up company.
Now look, I’m not one of those chicks who hates make-up. I rarely wear it, because I can’t find a color scheme that matches my sweatpants, but I don’t hate it.
What I hate is that an industry that is completely dependent on making women feel like they’re not good enough unless they’re pretty has the balls to jump on the “girl power” train. What I hate is that a company that claims to be so women focused has a board of directors that’s 60% male.
I hate being patronized and I had the phrase ‘girl power’ or anything to do with ‘empowering woman’ because I find it entirely patronizing.
Nothing makes me want to smack a chick in the chops more than the phrase “girl power.” It’s usually spewed out after a bunch of shots of Jose Cuervo, after said girl just got dumped and has decided to “give up on men” and “just focus on me for awhile”.
Even though I give an agreeable smile and down my own shot, I get annoyed. Why?
Ladies, ask yourself this? Has a man ever done this? Has any dude you’ve even known shouted out ‘boy power” as he downs a shot and said that he didn’t care about picking up, he just wants to focus on himself? No?
Hold on while I recover from my shock.
Ladies, straight up; it’s patronizing. While you’re shrieking out ‘girl power’ you’re making it clear that you had no power of your own to begin with. When you say, “I’m just gonna focus on me,” you’re indicating that you weren’t before. And I know, two months from now, no matter how much ‘focusing on you’ you’re trying to do, you’ll have some unemployed douche bag living on your couch because you’re afraid of dying alone.
Because you’re not powerful. You’re just using a phrase that rich white dudes came up with to sell lipstick.
People who are actually powerful never have to tell others that they’re powerful. It’s obvious from their actions. When woman who are powerful say “I succeeded despite the fact that I’m a woman,” they’re not taking a stand for feminism. They’re simply making it sound like there’s something wrong with being a woman.
And when they start saying dumb shit like ‘girl power’ and ‘girls can!’ it sounds a lot to me like of case of protesting too much. It’s patronizing.
The fact is, some girls can’t. Just like boys, some girls are stupid and lack talent and would have never made it to begin with. It’s not because they’re girls. It’s just because they suck.
And yelling ‘girl power’ and ‘girls can’ all night isn’t going to change that, no matter how many celebrities you stick in your ads.
In a few minutes, I’m going to go outside, light something on fire and shoot my gun up into the air. No, not because it’s 4th of July. Mainly, because it’s Friday and I’ve been day drinking since noon.
I like being American. I like being American because America is me. America is a good looking, aggressive, capitalist loving, loud-mouthed country that loves talking shit. It frequently gets into fights for no reason, and gets itself involved in fights that are none of its business. It tells others what to do, despite that fact that it’s a broke, substance abusing mess. It never admits it’s wrong and when something makes it really mad, it blows something up.
I’m pretty sure that is how most of my friends would describe me. I’m super glad that I was lucky enough to be born in a country that I have so much in common with.
But I’m not ‘proud to be an American.” To me, being proud actually indicates you did something to earn that pride. Being born an American was a lucky accident of my birth. I didn’t earn being an American. It was given to me by the benevolent flying spaghetti monster. For that I’m grateful.
But I’m not proud.
I’m proud of my novels. I’m proud of the time I served in the military. Hell, I’m proud of the fact that I can tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue. I earned those things because I worked for them, so I am proud of them.
I wouldn’t say that I’m proud to be white or proud to be blond. Those were genetics. I had nothing to do with that. Am I glad? Hell yeah! I can’t dance and I could never get one of those complicated handshakes down. I really wouldn’t be able to pull off being black and I’m not sexy enough to be Hispanic. So I’m glad to be white, but I’m not proud to be white.
And I’m not proud to be an American.
Ironically, the people who actually deserve the right to claim they are proud to be Americans are the ones who get bitched at the most for being here in the first place.
The people that crawl through the desert in the dead of night to get past the border, or pay their life savings to arrive in someone’s trunk should be proud. The people that come here on makeshift life rafts, paddling their way across an ocean that is more likely to kill them than help them deserve to be proud. The people who come here seeking asylum because they spoke out against their own country’s corruption and crimes against humanity deserve to be proud. The people who have to study for and take a citizenship test that most of us born-and-bred Americans couldn’t pass deserve to be proud.
Those people wanted to be here enough to risk their lives for it. They faced imprisonment for it and they gave up everything for it, including their wealth and families. Who does that remind me of?
Oh yeah, these guys.
Yes, I’m pro-immigration and pro-open borders, and it’s not just because of my love of Hispanic pool boys. It’s because if someone cares enough to come here, whatever the risk, I think they deserve to be here.
“E pluribus Unum” isn’t just some silly Latin phrase on our money. It means something. Specifically, it means “out of many, one.”
It was the original endorsement for immigration and it was made when this country first started, when people actually had to struggle and fight to be here and to make this our country….and also kill a fuckload of Native Americans, but I’m going to go ahead and gloss over that one in honor of the holiday.
Those people were proud Americans and the people that fight to be here are proud Americans.
But I’m not a proud American. I am a very lucky girl who was born 3 hours south of the Canadian border. I could have just as easily been Canadian…and I’m a fuckload of glad I wasn’t. I’m far too rude to be Canadian.
So happy 4th, from one glad American, who was lucky enough to be born in a country arrogant enough to call itself the greatest nation on earth. America, we were made for each other.
Now if you’ll all excuse me, I need to go indiscriminately fire some bullets into the sky and blow up a trash can with a cherry bomb.
As you know, I frequent a little place called “Gas Station” for purchasing my addiction necessary items; i.e. cigarettes and beer. No, I’m not making the name up or changing it. This place is actually just called “Gas Station.”
I can respect that kind of marketing transparency.
What I can’t respect is you, new cashier. You have started playing the obnoxious dating game that I hate so much, despite the fact that I want nothing more to do with you than beer and cigarette purchases.
Let me give you the dating game in four stages, in case it’s unclear.
- Outright flirting “gee, your eyes are blue.” “I like your hair like that.”
- Passive aggressive flirting. “You’d look prettier in orange.” “Why don’t you leave your hair down?”
- Playing hard to get. “Oh, I can’t wait on you now. I’m busy answering my fucking cell phone.”
- Outright hostility. “Do you need to drink this much beer?” “Despite the fact that I see you 14 times a day, I need to see some ID.”
Apparently, new cashier, you have decided we’re in some type of relationship because I go to your store on a regular basis. I have been put through all of the obnoxious stages of flirting, from outright flirting, to outright hostility, despite the fact that I have no interest in you whatsoever.
Look at me. I show up at your fucking store in sweatpants with hair that hasn’t been brushed in a week and I bitch about period cramps as I slip an economy pack of tampons onto your register. I am making no effort to impress you. This is not part of the mating ritual. You are supposed to be my safe zone. I shouldn’t have to deal with your fucking mind games because I never promised you anything but the $4.23 a day it costs to support my nicotine addiction.
But you still manage to get offended by me refusing to date you. Really, you should be thankful. I’m a terrible human being. But you need to stop being offended, because you aren’t my type.
Let’s make this crystal clear. In order to even the playing field, because I’m Barbie with a brain, you must be one of two things to date me.
- You must be much better looking than me.
- You must be smarter than me.
I meet the guys I date by stumbling into shirtless models outside of Abercrombie and Finch, or by trolling Mensa meetings. I have never, and will probably never, pick up a cashier at the convenience store because he’s holding my beer and cigarettes hostage. I’m better looking than you (even on a sweatpants day). I guarantee I’m smarter than you, because right off the top off my head I can think of 11 different alternatives to working at a convenience store.
So stop with the bullshit. We’re not soul mates; we never even dated. I barely know you and I don’t give a shit about you.
I know you think that you have all the power, because you stand behind the register, but you don’t. There are at least 34 different convenience stores I could go to in a four block radius. I used to choose yours, because I used to enjoy it. Then they hired you, and they ruined it.
I’m not usually the kind of chick who makes complaints; I’m far too lazy to do that. But I’m seriously thinking about having your ass fired. Because when you think about it, who is management going to side with?
The totally replaceable dude they’re paying $6.00 an hour to, who makes his customers wait while he makes imaginary calls on his cell phone?
Or are they going to side with me, the chick whose beer and cigarette purchases are putting their kids through college? Trust me bro, I push it, you’ll be out of there faster than I can say namastē.
Save your novice college games for the girls who will actually play them and get me my beer and cigarettes without wasting my fucking time. I’m not at Gas Station to flirt. I am here to buy what I need to buy and move the fuck on. You want to play games, know that my game playing skills come in at the advanced level. Expect some slashed tires.
So I’ve been sucked into a soap opera. Yes, I know they are filled with clichés, plot holes and one dimensional characters, but I am a sucker for a good story and soap operas tend to deliver.
My current obsession is Hollyoaks. Also, if any of you motherfuckers reveal who killed Fraser Black in the comments, I will hunt you down and murder you.
Living in a soap opera world is much more difficult to navigate than living in reality. You have amnesia, who-dunnits, evil twins and people coming back to life several times over before they actually die.
Which is why I have decided to write my own soap opera, casting myself as the lead detective.
Chantilly Flats – An Essa Alroc Production
Detective Essa Alroc wakes in the early morning as her phone starts to ring. Muttering, she checks the display; Chantilly Flats Police Department.
Essa: <sits up in bed and her hair is absolutely perfect, despite the fact that she’s been sleeping for 8 hours>. This is the last thing I need after finding out that my bi-sexual husband has been having an affair with my gardener Filipe, who also might be my secret love child that I gave up for adoption. <She answers the phone> Detective Alroc here.
Officer Eric Mendelson: Sorry to wake you up so early boss. But we got a murder on our hands. Jackson Bedford has gone missing and all clues point to him being dead.
Essa: <Rolls her eyes> Do you have an actual body?
Officer Eric Mendelson: Well, no but there is a lot of blood in his car, and we found it abandoned in the woods. Plus, he got into a fight with just about everyone in town last night, including me…and you…and his cat. All signs point to murder.
Essa: <deep heartfelt sigh> Listen, we both know how shit works in Chantilly Flats. I go out there, all gung-ho and arrest somebody, have them put on death row, then six months from now Jackson Bedford shows up claiming he has amnesia and doesn’t remember who tried to kill him. Let’s cut to the chase. I’ll start this murder investigation when you drag Jackson Bedford’s cold dead corpse onto my doorstep.
Officer Eric Mendelson: But I don’t have time to find the body. My sister-in-law is about to give birth to my secret love child and I need to get to the hospital in time to switch babies and…
Essa: <hangs up the phone>
Four hours later, Essa’s phone rings. It interrupts Filipe as he tries to climb in bed with her to have potentially incestuous relations in order to blackmail her later.
Essa: Filipe, get the fuck out of my bed! I might be your mother for Christ’s sake. <answers the phone after seeing the call is coming from the Chantilly Flats Police Department.> You got me a body?
Officer Eric Mendelson: Yes boss. Right on your front stoop. It’s definitely Jackson Bedford.
Essa: Hopefully, I can get this done in time to make it to my disciplinary hearing. You know, from when I let the Olgavie sisters off with a warning for murdering their uncle, who’d been sexually abusing them for years. Now gather every single person in town right to my front yard.
Officer Eric Mendelson: All of them? There’s like 14 people in Chantilly Flats.
Essa: Just fucking do it. I’ll be right down.
Essa arrives in the late afternoon, after having yet another fight with her bisexual husband, who is concerned because he might have testicular cancer. She stands at the podium in front of all 14 of the residents of Chantilly Flats.
Essa: Listen, I’m sick of these small town who-dunnits dragging on for months, so we’re going to take care of this right now. Everyone who had a fight with Jackson Bedford on the night of his death, raise your hand. <Every single hand goes up, including the paw of Jackson Bedford’s cat.> Great, now every single person who can’t name their alibi because you were screwing your sister or brother-in-law at the time of the incident, go away.
Eight people walk away, including Officer Eric Mendelson and Jackson Bedford’s cat.
Essa: Next, does anyone here have a drug problem which would prevent them from remembering the night in question? <Two hands go up> Good to know. Leave and check out your local AA chapter. It won’t help, but it will provide some interesting drug addict story fodder next season.
The two drug addicts walk away and Essa is left with four suspects.
Essa: Alright people, let’s hear some motives.
Karen Bedford: He was my husband and he was cheating on me with his secretary, who is also my secret half sister.
Lisa Nichols: I’m his secretary and he was blackmailing me into sleeping with him for years, because he knew that I killed my first husband and held my step kids captive in an attic. We have a secret love child together that he threatened to kill. It’s also in the attic.
Marcus Salinger: I’m his right hand man in his drug empire and I was having an affair with his wife. I also might be his secret love child.
Lilly Anderson: I’m a 14 year old girl scout. When I went to Bedford’s house, he refused to pay for the Thin Mints he ordered. Also, I have a brain tumor that causes brief periods of uncontrollable rage.
Essa considers all the information she’s heard. Drawing on years of tela-nova and soap opera watching, she realizes who did it.
Essa: Lisa, Karen, you can both go. No woman ever kills a man when she should in Chantilly Flats. Marcus, you can go. You are too obvious a suspect. Also, I’m pretty sure you’re my secret love child. Lilly, I know exactly what happened. You and Bedford wrestled over the Thin Mints. Bedford was a diabetic who had just gone into psychosis because he refused to take his insulin. He pulled a gun on you. You wrestled over the gun and in your panic, accidentally shot him.
Lilly: How did you know?
Essa: What can I say? I have too much time on my hands and I watch way too much TV.
Essa’s statement is interrupted by the sudden, shocking appearance of Jackson Bedford.
Jackson Bedford: Wait, that isn’t me <he points to the corpse on the ground>. It’s my evil twin. I only showed up now because I had amnesia.
Essa: Oh, fuck this. I’m moving.