MissDirt’s Unofficial Guide to Being Awesome

Since When Are Manners Sufficient Contribution to Conversation?

This is a response to the Goldman Sachs Unofficial Guide, which some folks seem to have mistaken for actual life advice.

  1. Shower, bathe, brush your teeth. Just do it. 
  2. Mind your Ps and Qs. Say please and thank you, etc.
  3. Listen to public radio.
  4. Read the instructions. Ask for directions.
  5. Do not apologize for your opinions, feelings or beliefs, but do be open to changing them when presented with good reason.
  6. Learn to disagree without having to “win” every conversation. People will be more willing to discuss interesting ideas with you if they’re not afraid of being shouted down.
  7. Smile and say hello when you see someone you’d like to talk to. If they don’t respond, leave them alone.
  8. Relax your face. Soften your jaw. Un-furrow your eyebrows.
  9. Smile.
  10. Put away your phone.
  11. Acknowledge when you’ve been wrong.
  12. Don’t waste time on revenge — it only deepens your own wounds.
  13. Expensive clothes aren’t important. Just take care of whatever you’ve got.
  14. Wear things that make you feel good.
  15. If someone tells you you’re too drunk, they’re probably right.
  16. If someone decides they don’t like you, don’t argue with them. You won’t win.
  17. Read at least one Jane Austen novel in your life.
  18. Never gossip.
  19. Skinny is not a compliment. Fat is not an insult.
  20. When someone speaks to you, give them your full attention.
  21. Wear comfortable shoes.
  22. Don’t wear clothing that’s too tight to eat a meal in.
  23. Cake is a gift from the gods. Eat it with joyful reverence.
  24. Learn to love your veggies.
  25. Split the chores with your roomie or significant other, but don’t make a huge deal if they miss a day.
  26. If you have to check around the room before telling a joke, it’s not funny.
  27. Respecting others never makes you look like an asshole.
  28. Use your blinkers.
  29. Learn to throw a punch, but avoid having to fight.
  30. Travel overseas at least once.
  31. Stop seeing others as competition. Befriend them and learn from them.
  32. Make dates with your friends.
  33. Do the fucking laundry.
  34. Have a hobby.
  35. Do not buy supplies for a new project before finishing the last one.
  36. Having children does not earn you any special privileges.
  37. Meditate.
  38. Go outside at least once every day.
  39. Try new foods and music whenever you get a chance.
  40. Do not blindly follow advice from strangers on the internet.
  41. Indulge in strange thoughts. They make you more interesting.
  42. Ask for help in times of turmoil.
  43. Never assume you understand someone else’s struggle. Just listen and show that you care.
  44. Masturbate. It’s not a sin.
  45. If there is a God, it wants you to be happy.
  46. Be nice to animals.
  47. Figure out your personal ethics, and stick by them.
  48. Don’t lie. It makes you ugly.
  49. Properly used curse words are fucking brilliant.
  50. Conflict is sometimes a sign of growth.
  51. If you’re fighting, make damn sure you know why.
  52. Tell people you love them.
  53. Make your home a place where friends feel welcome.
  54. Your parents are just human.
  55. Go to the beach sometimes. Even a bad one.
  56. Tip generously when you can.
  57. Try things you might fail at. Do it for the adventure.
  58. Make friends with people who are different from you. They have things to teach you.

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Don’t Be Bored

The summer after the sixth grade, I became friends with this girl, Anna, when I joined the cheerleading squad. Anna was a year older than me, and we never had occasion to hang out together before, even though we lived in a tiny town and went to the smallest private school in the area.

Anna lived way out in the country. Her house had a huge yard, and there were no neighborhood kids to play with. As May came to an end and we talked about our plans for the summer, I admitted to having mixed feelings. Summer always started with feelings of endless freedom and possibility, which soon devolved into oppressive heat and boredom. I spent much of the summer begging my sister to drive me to the swimming pool or snow cone stand. Eventually, I just wanted to go back to school, even though I hated it. School was full of stupid rules, adults making up for their miserable lives by making kids miserable, and kids whose primary mode of interaction was insult contests. But at least I wouldn’t be bored. Sadly, I prefered the stressful predictability of school to the directionlessness of summer.

“Really?” Anna said. “I don’t get bored.”

Seriously. She said this. And this is why we became friends. When I asked how that was possible, she said, “Last summer, I just decided I didn’t want to be bored, so whenever I felt bored, I would just do something.”

This was probably the most enlightened thing I’d heard in my young life. When Anna was bored, she would go ride her horse, paint a picture, dress up in her mom’s old clothes, rearrange the furniture in her bedroom, listen to her parents’ old records (this is how I learned about George Carlin and the 7 dirty words), make jewelry, climb a tree … you get the picture. Anna was awesome. That summer, and for the next several years while we both lived in our little hometown, our friendship revolved around doing weird shit just because it was fun. We wrote on walls, glued things to other things, adopted a pet lobster, rode shopping cards through Wal-Mart, climbed on top of elementary schools, and pretty much did anything else that made us laugh or made the world a little more interesting.

We had a great fucking time. 

Don’t wait for life to come to you. Don’t be bored. Go be awesome.

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Actual Marriage Advice from an Actual Married Lady

As a happily married lady with a slightly less than typical approach to relationships, I’ve decided that the world needs my relationship advice. Women my age grew up with the idea that we can support ourselves and we don’t need a man to take care of us, and yet weddings are more commercialized and hyped up than ever thanks to reality TV and good old fashioned marketing.

So, for anyone looking for confirmation that they’re with the right person or who feels lost in the relationship ocean, here are my 7 Signs You’re With the Right Person.

  1. He gets your brand of crazy. Everyone is a little bit nuts, even you. Don’t fool yourself. The more you resist this truth, the more delusional you inevitably are. A good partner understands and accepts this about you but is also willing to call you on your bullshit when you’re being crazy.
  2. You don’t have everything in common. Having things in common is easy and comfortable, but it’s more fun when you have some significant differences. My husband and I have very different taste in books, movies and music, and our areas of expertise are practically opposites. We constantly introduce each other to new things, and it makes our life together more fun.
  3. You have the important stuff in common. You agree on whether or not your theoretical children should be baptized and how to deal with two families for the holidays. You probably agree on evolution and global warming. Trust me: if you and your partner disagree on whether evolution is a legitimate thing, you’re going to have some really mind-numbing arguments in your future.
  4. You really want him/her to be happy and vice versa. You find yourself sincerely concerned for your partner’s wellbeing. You may not be into the 50s housewife thing (I’m not!) but something about seeing this person happy just makes the world feel right to you. AND you get the same in return. A life partner who loves to see you smile is sure to bring out the best in you.
  5. You fight well. All couples fight, even happy ones, and if you think your relationship is an exception, take a good hard look at what feelings you’re stuffing. A sign of a healthy relationship is that you can disagree, and yes, you can even get royally pissed at each other. This is OK because you are both (a) human beings with emotions and (b) adults who are capable of both controlling themselves in moments of anger and apologizing when needed. And I mean sincerely apologizing. I’m not talking about doing something mean, buying chocolates, then doing it again. That’s different, and it’s called abuse. But fighting occasionally is a part of life, and if you handle it lovingly, you can actually learn from it.
  6. You inspire each other. Maybe some people just want a partner who will maintain the status quo with them, but I find the status quo absolutely depressing. One of the greatest assets in my marriage is the epic sense of possibility I have when I’m with my husband, both in terms of what we can do together and the ways we can sport each other to be our best.
  7. You giggle together. Maybe you lay in bed making fart jokes together or gossiping or just being absurd. It doesn’t matter what you laugh about as long as you bring each other joy.

When I got engaged, I had an absolute meltdown over the fear that by getting married, I might be giving up some essential part of myself, and the only way to regain my grip on sanity was to remember that my then fiance was the same person I’d always loved and that the only thing that was changing between us was a piece of paper. Ok, and some familial expectations, but we can talk later about how I feel about other people’s expectations.

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