Is it me you’re looking for?

Heyyyyyyyy.

So, remember last year when I said I was going to write on this blog every dayand I was going to rediscover myself as a writer, and I think the end goal was for me to prove to myself that I still had it while also somehow accumulating millions of readers and getting a book deal and probably a movie of my moving tale of reconnecting with life through blogging starring Jon Hamm as Ben and me as me?

That obviously didn’t happen. Not even the Jon Hamm part. Like, especially not the Jon Hamm part.

And I don’t even have a good reason why. It would almost be better if I could come back with a triumphant post that was like, “You guys, I know I said I would be doing this every day, but I contracted a totally gnarly disease from a baby bear I held at the IX Indoor Amusement Park, and for a while I lost the ability to speak and use spoons, but I’m back and better than ever and dedicating my life to bear disease awareness!” Then I would ask you all to post brown ribbons on your Facebook feeds to bring more attention to the plight of the tens of people impacted each year by bear disease, and I don’t know, maybe run a 5k or something, but probably not, because I am slow and lazy.

The truth of the matter is, I wanted to take a break. Just a day or two. But then I let a week go by. And then suddenly I became crippled not only by the pressure of delivering an extra-hilarious post to explain my week-long absence, but also by my crushing failure as a human being in general for not being able to maintain something as simple as writing a 300-word blog post every day.

See, things spiral out of control pretty fast over here in the old Kim Oja brain.

So a week had gone by, which I let turn into a month, which because more than a year, and every single day I thought to myself, “I should restart my blog!” And then I laughed and laughed, and then treated myself to an evening of playing Sudoku on my phone and intermittently reminding myself what a garbage-y person I am.

And I really did mean to do it. I mean, I paid the $9 fee to save my URL address. That has to count for something, right? Although really, I think it was set up on autopay, so it just sort of happened, but I didn’t do anything to actively stop it from happening.

But for whatever reason, I just couldn’t do it. Maybe laziness. Maybe depression. (Side note: I feel like literally every female humor blogger is depressed? It might have actually been required in the TOS I signed when I put up this site.) But whatever it was kept me away for a good long time.

Until today.

And that’s not to say that this is some sort of amazing, sun-breaking-through-clouds redemption moment. I’m still probably not going to have the wherewithal to write every day. Nothing has really changed, except I have mustered up enough energy to a) write this and b) overcome the gigantic chasm of dread that stopped me in my tracks on a daily basis for over a year.

Wow, it sounds kind of badass when I say it like that. Yes, that is what I did. Chasm jumping. In a tank top. Looking awesome. Please take note, Jon Hamm.

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Things or topics I found interesting 27 years ago, and my feelings on them today

IMG_54571. Dinosaurs. I mean, I guess they’re all right. Addie is obsessed with them. She does this thing where she’ll ask you your favorite dinosaur, and if you say, like, triceratops or something, she sneers at you for being so basic and informs you that her favorite dinosaur is compsognathus, because of course.

2. Rocks, or racks. did have a weird rock-obsession for awhile, now that I think of it. I used to find what I believed to be quartz scattered all over the blacktop at my elementary school, and would shove it in anyone’s face who would listen, although thinking back on it now, it was probably just broken concrete. There may have been a rock polisher involved? Now if it says racks, then I don’t know what to say to that, because while my own rack is pretty spectacular, I don’t really spend much time perusing any others.

3. Unsolved mysterys. This is totally still true. Back in the day, this meant tuning in every Wednesday at 8 p.m. to catch Robert Stack on the show by the same name. If this show were still on now, I would watch the fuck out of it, even if it was just one long, unbroken shot of Robert Stack’s corpse reenacting alien abductions. Now, I get my fix from Dateline and 48 Hours, but it was never quite the same.

4. Cavepeople. I do actually spend more time thinking about cave people than most people probably do? But it always involves, like, really stupid things, like did they wipe themselves after they went to the bathroom? Or were they basically animals? When did they invent songs? Were they any good? Were they catchy?

5. Egipt. This might have sprung from the fact that every single year at Easter, my family watches The Ten Commandments, during which we mock it mercilessly the entire time. That movie, and the song “King Tut” by Steve Martin, are basically the only things I knew about Egypt at the time, and that pretty much holds true today.

6. How chalk is made. I call bullshit on this, there is no way I was interested in how chalk is made.

7. How school started. This is very broad. It might tie in to my cave people obsession? Like, at what point did they decide, fuck this, this cave is cold and dark and has bugs in it, so let’s educate our kids so they can move up to clay huts? I was very, very into school as a child, so I don’t think I was asking this out of any sort of malice. I probably just wanted to know who to thank, because I was a giant, giant nerd.

8. How computers work. I applaud my past self for even recognizing, in 1988, that computers were a thing. I did have computer lab at that age, but all it really was was the PAWS typing test, over and over and over again. But I am amazing at typing, so I guess it was all worth it in the end. Also, I still assume that computers work because there are tiny men inside filing away everything I type and quickly sketching copies of the pictures I upload. Obviously.

9. How felt was invented. What? No, get yourself together, kid!

10. How dominos were invented. Oh my God, you’re embarrassing me.

11. Fish. True that, fish are legit.

12. How fist fighting started. I don’t really know what I meant by this, but I think it’s a totally adroit question that I would actually like to see answered. Who was the first cave person to just pop another guy in the mouth with his fist? Did the other guy see it coming, like, at all? I’m assuming that my interest in this then is the same as it is today, which is that I have always secretly wanted someone to fistfight over me. “Boys, boys,” I would say, as two men pummeled each other with their fists. “You’re both handsome! Now, who can tell me how felt is made?”

The End

IMG_5464

The author at the age this list was written, very happy about something, probably fistfights.

Amazing and totally legit prompts for blasting writer’s block

I think it’s time to admit it– I have writer’s block.

I was wondering when it would happen. It had to come eventually– there was no way I was going to make it through this project without encountering it at least once. As soon as I found myself writing an entire post about jeggings, I sensed its arrival, a big squat animal blocking the entrance to my creative portal and regaling me with stories about this one time it thought it saw Steven Tyler at the airport, but it just turned out to be a bag lady.

But not to worry– I’ve been here before, and I have a number of tried and true prompts for overcoming writer’s block, and because I’m a generous kind of gal, I figured I’d pass them on to you, in case you ever found yourself in the same spot.

Imagine elaborate scenarios in which I am wronged, but persevere anyway, and everyone feels really badly about it. In most of these creative exercises, I find myself hospitalized for some reason, usually due to an illness that I tried to warn people about, but no one believed me. Well, they believe me now, but now it’s too late. And when I get out of the hospital, I find piles of flowers on my doorstep, left by guilty well-wishers, but I just step over them, ready to go inside and begin a montage of myself weight-lifting and becoming stronger and nigh invulnerable. And when I finally re-emerge, everyone is like, OMG she is so strong for overcoming this disease that she totally warned us she had but we didn’t believe her and made her clean the bathroom anyway even though she said she was dying, and now she’s also super hot from all the weight lifting. She has Michelle Obama arms, and we are not worthy.

Celebrity road trip! Oh, no! Your favorite celebrity’s car inexplicably broke down in front of your house, because for some reason they were in the area and really wanted a scenic tour of The Septic Systems of Geauga County. It’s up to you to get them back to Hollywood! And also convince them that you are a glittering star that burns too brightly for this world! You will probably do this through the power of song, so you have to have the perfect playlist ready at all times. It must include both Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” but the rest is up to you. Go!

What is Britney Spears doing right now? Is she pooping? My first assumption is always that she’s pooping for some reason. But after the pooping, then what?

What do we get when we die? For some reason, I assume that death comes with a parting gift? Because it seems kind of shitty to make you leave all your cool stuff behind and show up to heaven without even a portable CD player or anything. My personal belief is that when we die, we will be handed a book that reveals every secret detail of our lives– the names of every person who ever secretly had a crush on us, but we didn’t know it, or everyone who just couldn’t stand us, or every time you nearly died but then didn’t, like if you stepped off a curb at the exact right moment to avoid being hit by a bus, or left the one e. coli tainted lettuce leaf lying at the bottom of your burrito bowl at Chipotle because lettuce is stupid. I, for one, am dying to get a copy of this book. No pun intended, although that would have been a pretty sweet pun, had I intended it.

Elton John fan fiction! Daniel, Honky Cat and Rocket Man meet in line to buy cartoon balloons in town. Hijinx ensue.

(Okay, full disclosure. I’ve never actually done that last one. But now I’m weirdly intrigued?)

Any one of those prompts should be enough to jumpstart even the most blocked brain, but feel free to combine them for some added oomph. What if your celebrity road trip ends in a car accident sending both you and Britney Spears to the hospital, where you have a near-death experience and get to read only the introduction to your Death Book (“Introduction: So, You’re Dead!”) before being dragged back to the present, only to be greeted by three bobbing Get Well balloons that appear to have been purchased from Levon?

The possibilities are endless! As is Britney Spears’ pooping, apparently.

Dear basically everyone,

Rocketbook-2016-01-08-145544-Page003I’m really sorry I haven’t called/texted/responded to your e-mail/written you a letter on the cute stationery I keep buying and then shoving guiltily in a drawer, where it stays hidden from the light of day until Addie unearths it and uses it to write letters to her boyfriend Alex (and by letters, I really just mean pictures of them dressed as ninjas and riding unicorns over a rainbow). Don’t worry, it’s not you. I am failing everyone equally.

I used to be the poster girl for Keeping In Touch. I once wrote an embarrassingly long and heartfelt letter to my second grade student teacher and gave it to my dad to mail it, despite the fact that I didn’t have the woman’s address or first name. My dad, rather than attempting to track her down and hand-deliver the missive, as a TV dad might do, chose to hoard this letter for twenty years and then present it to me one unsuspecting Christmas, alongside the response I got to an ill-fated fan letter to Mark Harmon that just read “rude is rude and I don’t reward it”, so that I could suffer maximum retroactive embarrassment in front of the highest number of family members. This is why my dad is infinitely cooler than TV dads, even though our soundtrack was more out of control laughter than AWWWWs.

Even after these ignominious failures, I kept on pursuing my mission of being The First Person to Never Lose Touch With Anyone She Ever Knew, Ever. Some of you may remember this phase– there were a lot of letters with quotes from Billy Joel songs in them, plus long phone calls in which we lovingly dissected the plots of each Harry Potter book in turn. I was a wiz at texting on the T9 format, and I may or may not have had a text message signature.

But somewhere along the line, I started running out of things to say.

I don’t know if it was the arrival of my first smartphone– presented with a device that allowed me to call, text and e-mail from one convenient location, I proceeded to freak out and use it solely as a method of playing bootleg Uno against strangers for hours– or my full-time job, or my children– but over time, I realized there are only so many ways to say “I went to work, I drove home, I microwaved some dinosaur-shaped chicken and read five thousand books about cats, and then I went to sleep” before your audience starts losing interest.

Deep down, though, I have remained that overeager yearbook signer begging everyone to KIT! So I hope all of you will consider this form letter to be my first volley into a successful re-ignition of our communications:

Dear [YOUR NAME HERE],

I am so sorry that I fell off the face of the earth and stopped responding to your e-mails. The truth is, while you were off being awesome and doing your [Cross-fit/volunteer work/pro-bono cases involving cute monkey defendants/writing and directing a successful Broadway play about the life and times of Spiro Agnew/other cool hobby here], I have been very busy barely remembering to shower and spending an uncomfortable amount of time reading quizzes on Buzzfeed.

As you may have heard, I am spending 2016 trying to better myself, and also learn Spanish and maybe start drinking more than a pity cup of water every day, and so, I would love for us to get back in touch. I promise I will write you witty repartee about my day, and ask questions that really matter, like “do you put your dirty dishes IN the sink, or on the counter NEXT to the sink?” You think that question has an obvious answer, but ask around. You’ll be surprised.

So [YOUR NAME HERE], what do you say? Are you ready to enter into the magical world of electronic communication? Also, do you promise not to save any embarrassing e-mails I write and forward them back to me in 2036? That’s kind of a dealbreaker for me.

Love,
Kim

 

(I can’t get no) Self-Control

I just ate what appears to be all the food in the entire universe, and I’m not feeling very good about myself right now.

Everything started out so well– I had a little turkey bacon and some coffee for breakfast, brought an apple for a snack, feeling very righteous and healthy and somewhat smug. Then cake pops suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and honestly, I think it might be against the law not to eat cake pops when they materialize for free right in front of you. Then we catered in Asian for lunch, and I’m not even sure if anyone else got to eat anything, as I stood directly in front of the containers and scooped the food directly into my mouth, and then when I was walking back to my desk I saw that there was an uneaten salt bagel sitting all by itself in a sad little almost empty bagel box, and that’s just a cruel thing to do to a salt bagel, so I brought it back to my desk in hopes of comforting it and making it feel like it was in a safe space, but then I forgot that that was my plan and I ate that, too, and I think I might actually be dying now, send help.

This lack of self-control is evident in many areas of my life, such as the area that stupidly thinks I will be able to eat only one handful of M & Ms, or the area that spends two hours reading Canadian memes on Buzzfeed. It’s the reason that I have to keep that app on my phone to remind me to drink water or go to sleep, without which I might start washing my face with Diet Pepsi and staying up until 5:00 a.m. searching for the perfect floral umbrella on Amazon.

I’ve never been one to exhibit excellent self-discipline– this would explain why I immediately stopped writing once I was no longer being graded on it. It might also explain why I have literally taken two breaks from writing this so far to play a game of Best Fiends on my phone. My guess is that David Sedaris doesn’t get distracted from his work by videos of baby sloths on the internet. I also assume he doesn’t eat an entire pound bag of Sunkist Fruit Gems in one sitting, but that’s probably true of most people.

Point is, this is obviously something I need to work on, but I have no idea how. What methods do you use to stay on task and keep disciplined? The pomodoro method? The shutting off the wifi method? The fuck it, eat all the things method? Actually, no need to provide any insights into that last one, as I have already mastered it.

Beginning again

So let me back up a sec.

I have known for nearly my entire life that I wanted to be a writer. I started writing my own short stories when I was in second grade, and graduated to horrifically bad novels by the age of 10. I have both undergraduate and graduate degrees in creative writing, even though I was made well aware by both my parents and literally everyone over the age of 25 that there were no job openings listed in the newspaper reading WANTED: SOMEONE TO WRITE DEEPLY EMBARRASSING AND REVEALING PERSONAL ESSAYS ABOUT THEIR OWN SHORTCOMINGS. I was committed to it. I enjoyed it. And I was– I like to think– good at it, or at least good at surrounding myself with people who were willing to lie about it being good.

And now I am an executive at an insurance company. And I don’t write at all. And I want to know why.

There is, of course, the obvious hipster argument about how working for The Man destroyed my creativity and my drive to succeed in the arts. First of all, I was never much of a hipster. While I enjoy their glasses and their ironic tattoos, their music makes me sad, and I look terrible in beanies. And I’ve always kind of enjoyed The Man. I like the smell of copier paper and the fact that I get to sit a lot. And the money. I do enjoy the money.

But I think that having a full-time job sitting in front of a computer does kind of cap that desire, a little. And I think the break I took after graduating from my MFA program– the relief of not needing to record every detail of my life and rearrange it until it met a certain theme, the simple joy of just living something without writing it– developed a sense of permanence after a year or so, and by then it started to feel too late.

That was ten years ago.

But it’s not too late. Right?

That’s what I’m here to find out.