My Day as a Psycho Celebrity-Spammer on Twitter

So, let’s talk about CELINE FUCKING DION. (You’re welcome.)

This story starts a few months ago, when some literary agents were telling me that my author platform wasn’t strong enough to warrant a book deal in today’s sure bet-driven marketplace. Which, in other words, means that I don’t have enough Twitter followers. Which, in other words, means that I’m not popular enough. Which, in other words, means that the publishing industry is basically Mean Girls and — Oh my God, Danny DeVito I love your work!

The fucked up thing about it is that if I actually did have a hundred thousand Twitter followers, I’d probably be one of those entitled, douche-y assholes who’s all, “Duh. Get with the times. Of course I have a huge platform; what do you think I am? A loser?

So maybe I’m a hypocrite, it’s fine.

One day in March, coming off the bitter sting of a fresh rejection, I was IM-ing with my friend Kaci.

  • Nic: Ugh. Still not popular enough
  • Nic: How do I get more followers on Twitter???
  • Nic: Maybe I should just start harassing celebrities in hopes that they’ll retweet me?
  • Nic: Which ones, though?
  • Kaci: Celine
  • Kaci: obvi
  • Kaci: I need to start getting cats and committing to dying alone
  • Nic: That’s it!
  • Nic: I’ll ask Celine to adopt a cat with me

And then a monster was born.

1

RE: the whole “Aegean” thing: basically I just Googled “cat breeds” and then chose the one that I felt would read most elegantly within the context of a tweet to Celine Dion. But apparently my elegance didn’t matter, because Celine ignored me as if I were a creepy Internet weirdo or something.

But then! I figured out why:

2

Still nothing. So then I moved into the anger stage and was all, “Fuck Celine! I’ll branch out to… Martha Stewart.”

3 4

DROP G’S! I thought it was brilliant. But Martha clearly wasn’t amused, as she ignored me too, forcing me to wonder if maybe my Internet fame wouldn’t be best found through middle-aged divas (one musical, one domestic) catered to the daytime-TV-watching crowd, so I went after the Jonas Brothers.

5 6

BUT NO LUCK THERE. (On the kitten or the marriage.)

So then I went back to Celine in a final, desperate attempt to get her to at least adopt something with me, but for some reason by that point in the day I became an incoherent mess who required three tweets to finish a thought and close a set of parentheses:

7 8 9

Celine continued in her staunch dedication to not acknowledging that a crazy person was spamming her on Twitter, which made me frustrated.

Frazzled and feeling like if I didn’t get at least one celebrity retweet by day’s end that I’d NEVER GET PUBLISHED, LIKE, EVER, I proceeded to do this:

10

By the end of it all, I reviewed my timeline’s activity and felt highly, highly ashamed of myself. Who does shit like this? I wondered. This is pathetic and embarrassing.

But then my thoughts wandered into a more gratitude-y place — feeling relieved that, well, at least I didn’t have a hundred thousand followers watching.

 

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That Married Dude I Made Out with Last Year? SAW HIM AGAIN

Last November I met a man on a train. Let’s call him James. James and I bonded all the way from New York to Connecticut, and then we passionately made out in his car like a couple of horny high schoolers until we decided to cut the party short due to the fact that he had a wife whom — no big deal — he almost forgot to tell me about. It was a debacle, and really you should just read my entire original post about it to get the full effect before continuing, because OH MY GOD – I saw him last week.

I was stuck at the train station due to a delay and decided to treat myself to a large iced coffee to ease the pain (because large iced coffees always ease the pain — they’re a lot like Vicodin and/or puppy therapy in that way).

As I approached the Dunkin Donuts stand, I noticed that there was a man with an effortlessly strong build standing at the front of the line in sharp tan suit pants and a white T-shirt. His suit jacket and dress shirt were cradled loosely under his hot right man-arm.

I’d so hit that, I thought to myself, apparently not requiring any knowledge whatsoever of what his face looked like.

Then he turned around and our eyes met.

AND IT WAS JAMES.

We hadn’t seen each other since the night we met, so this was kind of a BFD. (That’s “big fucking deal” for those of you who actually put your educations to use and therefore don’t speak in profane teen girl abbrevs.) (Abreva?)

I immediately went into super-adrenaline mode and decided that I would just pretend I didn’t see James in front of me or that I did see him but had absolutely no idea who he was because I’m the type of person (in this imaginary scenario of me not recognizing him, that is) who just makes out with strangers on trains all the damn time and so trying to keep track of them would be like trying to keep track of the number of nipple rings at a Bear convention.

(Explanatory side note for straight people: Bears are large hairy gay men who are traditionally into body piercings and leather. And conventions, apparently.)

Our eyes met again as James stepped to the side to wait for his coffee and I moved to the front of the line. He looked nervous.

“Large iced coffee, please,” I said, trying to look as directly at the cashier as possible. “With milk only.”

I spoke loudly, immaturely hoping that the sound of my voice would initiate some kind of nostalgia or arousal or regret or why-isn’t-Nic-saying-hi-to-me?-ness (emotion of any kind, really) in James.

I wanted him to notice that my outfit was similar to the one I wore the night we met seven months ago – a button down shirt, slightly open at the chest with two chains of contrasting lengths showing (because yes, on Tuesdays I dress like the owner of a pizzeria). I also wanted him to notice that I had a bunch of new half-hippie/half-someone-who-hangs-out-on-boats bracelets on my left wrist, so I made sure to really stick out my hand as I reached forward to pay the guy behind the counter.

Why did I so desperately want James to notice everything about me?

Maybe it was just my way of acknowledging how bizarre it was that last fall we shared an intimate moment – a moment that I’ve since written and talked and thought about at length; a moment that has been the subject of blog posts and essays and bar conversations and marathon phone calls and so much else – and here we were pretending to be total strangers.

It felt rather dishonest.

But it was all either of us could bring ourselves to do, I guess. And so James and I continued to stand there in awkward silence until we each got our respective cups of fuel for the morning.

“Thanks,” I said to the DD guy.

“Have a good one,” James told him.

And then we each sped off in directions so completely opposite that anyone watching would have never known we were both going to the exact same place.

I couldn't really think of a good picture to accompany this post. So here's me squatting on a rock during a hike a few weeks ago. There's a message here somewhere, maybe.

I couldn’t really think of a good picture to accompany this post. So here’s me squatting on a rock during a hike a few weeks ago. There’s meaning here somewhere, maybe.

P.S. It just occurred to me that, when left open to interpretation, the last line of this post could totally make it sound like I was insinuating that James and I took roundabout routes to the men’s room and then gave each other blowjobs in the handicap stall or something – and I’d just like to clarify that that’s not what happened at all. I just meant that, you know, we were both commuting into the same city. There was probably some underlying metaphor there, too. I didn’t need to clarify any of this, did I?

P.P.S. How gross would it be to give a blowjob in the stall of a train station bathroom? How gross would it be to do anything that involves heavily breathing through your nose in a train station bathroom? Just, ew.

P.P.P.S. No judgment, though, if train-station-bathroom-blowjobs are your thing! To each his own.

P.P.P.P.S. But still I probably wouldn’t share a drink with you.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Unless that drink was a vodka gimlet. Or a Guinness. Or a White Russian. Or a jalapeño margarita. You know what? Never mind.

 

Sometimes Life (and/or Oprah) Gives You Exactly What You Need When You Need It

Like many writers – cough, Cheryl Strayed, ‘achoo! – I enjoy taking long, meditative walks.

I used to walk all over my hometown as a kid, so walking all over my current town kind of reconnects me with my inner child. Plus something about being alone and surrounded by nature gives me the sense of space and freedom I need to contemplate shit that I might otherwise leave bottled up.

The results of any given walk are typically healing and awesome.

During my after-dinner walk on Sunday, though, things didn’t start out so well.

After thinking about my career aspirations for a few minutes, I found myself on the verge of falling into a spiral of self-pity over the fact that I want to do everything. I want to write everything. Book concepts, blog ideas, freelance gigs, ALL the essays, short stories – these things ganged up on me like a mental army of “YOU’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO DO IT ALL!”-screaming assholes.

I started thinking about how beginning one project always feels a lot like neglecting another project, which, given the fact that I have a full-time job and a highly active social life, feels a lot like making a big ass commitment to something that might not be the best project – which then makes it really easy to just be like, “Okay, fuck it. I’ll do nothing.”

I approached a big hill and kept walking. As my elevation increased, I moved on to feeling pity for myself over the fact that I’ve already devoted two years to finishing a book which is still yet to be represented. Then I felt more pity for myself over the fact that it’s probably because I don’t have enough space or time to write (or edit, for that matter) to my highest potential, because again: full-time job and highly active social life.

These are ironic and silly things to be upset about. These things are blessings.

So then I went into angry, tough-love mode on myself: Why are you so fucking impossible to satisfy? Boo-frickety-hoo, Nic! You work for a great company and you’re just too popular? Man up and figure your shit out. Stop sleeping so much. Maybe don’t go to happy hour. Maybe write. You could be writing right now instead of walking. MAKE A DAMN SACRIFICE, ASSHOLE.

And then finally I gave in and was like, Yeah. I just need to write. Start something new. I’ll do that.

And then I thought about all the book concepts, blog ideas, freelance gigs, essays, and short stories I want to work on — and I soon found myself right back at square. Fucking. One.

This walk had set me off on a mental cycle of doom, and it was a problem.

I started picking up the pace and feeling extremely tight and anxious – sensations that are usually reserved for when I obsess over my career in less tranquil scenarios such as when stressing over my workload at the office and/or peeing in dirty commuter train bathrooms.

As I reached the top of the hill, I saw an intriguing piece of litter sitting by the curb outside someone’s driveway. As I got closer, I saw that it was a coffee sleeve.

I soon recognized it as one of those new green Starbucks coffee sleeves that are given out to promote Oprah Chai – the new Oprah-Starbucks-Teavana partnership that benefits educational opportunities for youth.

I immediately thought to myself, WWOD?

(Note: This means “What Would Oprah Do?” and I should mention that it’s unusual that it took me coming across a discarded coffee sleeve of hers to finally ask this question in this situation. Usually it’s the first thing that comes to my mind in periods of distress, sleeve or no sleeve.)

The timing of this query couldn’t have been better, as each Oprah Chai sleeve comes complete with an inspirational Oprah quotable.

I bent down and picked it up to read my fortune:

Live from the heart of yourself. Seek to be whole, not perfect.

IMG_20140512_201609

And THIS is why Oprah fucking WINS. AT. EVERYTHING.

Because of Oprah, litter is no longer litter. Because of Oprah, litter can now change lives. Or at least momentarily brighten them.

Because of Oprah, my anxious, existential crisis-y, mental-cycle-of-doom walk led me straight to an undeniable sign from God that everything is going to be okay. I can trust my intuition. I don’t have to be perfect. I do have to be myself.

Everything is going to be okay.

And then I saw a bunny.

IMG_20140512_201519

It was less blurry IRL; this is just what happens when I quickly take a picture of a moving bunny while my phone camera is all zoomed in. Is it just me, or does it kind of look like a Monet?

 

If You’re as Sensitive as I Am, You Probably Just Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Watch TV

So I have this thing where I’m really empathetic all the time and I feel ALL the emotions. Even when I’m not trying to, I always find myself inadvertently mustering up at least some degree of empathy for everyone in every situation ever.

In real life this is usually a positive trait, as it allows me to have things like “compassion for others.” And understanding. And melodramatic bonding sessions with overemotional female friends who are going through ugly breakups with major douche bags who have no regard for women’s feelings but whose sides of the story I can also understand and relate to on some level, because again, empathy.

It’s a whole thing, and both my mom and new age wisdom tell me it means I might be an Earth Angel.

(OMG like Nicolas Cage in City of Angels? Which, I mean – his name is Nicolas. Without an H just like me. Holy shit. Someone find me a black trench coat and a cynical-yet-soft-on-the-inside doctor who looks like Meg Ryan.)

My high-strung emotional sensitivity can become a big problem, though, when I’m watching television. Because if the thing on the screen is all sad and desolate, then I cry and question the meaning of life. But if it’s super fun and hilarious, then you can probably bet your ass that I’m laughing out loud like the Whoopi Goldberg hyena from Disney’s The Lion King.

Basically I watch TV like a toddler on uppers.

(Side note: I’m not a parenting expert, but you probably shouldn’t give your toddler uppers. Or downers, for that matter. Or heroin. And definitely not Lucky Charms. Actually? Just don’t give them anything. Most toddlers are assholes anyways.)

(Maybe I am a parenting expert?)

So. The other night I was drinking red wine and watching some episodes of Modern Family I had saved on my DVR, and I got to one where the teenage girls Haley and Alex were lugging a mirror down into Haley’s bedroom in the basement and, out of the fucking blue, a possum (or is it opossum? this word is a dick) showed up on the steps behind them.

The reactions of the girls were really funny to me at first, and so I laughed, but then I got a closer look at the possum and my hypersensitivity arrived on cue and I was all, “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME YOU FILTHY EXCUSE FOR ONE OF GOD’S CREATURES.” And then Alex made a “playing possum” pun and Haley (the ultimate ditz) didn’t get it, but then I paused for a moment and realized that I didn’t get it either, and so I was like, “What the fuck, Alex? Thanks for making me feel stupid.”

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the episode, Cam’s daughter Lily had lice.

After struggling to keep her away from him by telling her that the carpet he was on was hot lava and then literally putting a cardboard box on her head (this is why I love this show), he eventually decided to travel to the Dunphy house to acquire some lice treatment he was told they had in their basement – at which point I yelled at the television screen, “DON’T DO IT, CAM. THERE’S A POSSUM LURKING!”

But he didn’t listen to me.

So then he went to the house, where Alex and Haley had lost track of the possum after hiding out in Haley’s bedroom for too long and were all like, “Huh. Where did it go? Maybe it went back outside?” and then Cam and Lily started walking down the stairs and then the fucking possum FELL FROM THE CEILING and then I legitimately screamed like Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween and threw my arms up in the air in what can only be described as a really, really gay tizzy. Which also happens to be exactly what Cam did.

Except unlike Cam, I had that glass of red wine in my hand.

And, so, THIS:

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Amazingly, though, I managed to miss the couch and my rug entirely – which I’m incredibly grateful for, because that would have majorly sucked. So really, in the end, I was touched by an angel. AKA MYSELF.

 

It’s Those Damn GED Commercials That Are Making America Fat

Lately I’ve been trying cut back on my bagel intake because summer is approaching, and because carbs.

Also, lately I’ve been having existential crises where I feel like I’m not trying hard enough to succeed in life.

And so now I do this thing where I’ll get all depressed and start watching TV, and then I’ll see one of those commercials for “GED pep talks,” where C-list celebrities like the mom from That ’70s Show are literally paid to motivate people (via telephone hotline) to get off their asses and work towards a GED.

And so then I ask myself, “How the fuck do I feel inadequate when there are these lazy-ass fucks out there who need to be pep-talked into getting a GED?” but then I realize what an elitist snob dickhead I must be for even having a thought like that in the first place, because “Those people couldn’t just casually graduate from high school and go to college and grad school like you did, Nic. Their circumstances were likely adverse growing up, and sometimes they probably couldn’t even eat proper meals,” and so then I just say, “Fine, fuck it,” and figure that I might as well practice gratitude and take advantage of my privilege and just eat a fucking bagel already.

And so basically I’m failing at that whole “cutting back on carbs” thing and my chances of having a six-pack (or really, an any-pack) in time for beach season are nonexistent, and IT’S ALL THE MOM FROM THAT ’70S SHOW’S FAULT.

What a bitch.*

Bagel

*Kidding! She’s delightful.

On Awkward Arm Positioning When Sharing a Bed with a New Person

So you know that feeling when you wake up next to a brand new guy and it’s 5:00 a.m. because your body likes to be a total dick sometimes for no reason, and then your mind starts wandering and you’re like, “Perhaps I should get up and pour myself a glass of water,” but you realize you can’t because your arms are so weirdly positioned under/around New Guy that you’re basically trapped and so before you know it you’re having a mental hissy fit about how your arms are assholes and THEY are holding you back from living your best life? And then you get briefly sidetracked as you randomly remember that you need to do your taxes that day, and so you make a mental note for later and feel irrationally accomplished for a good twenty seconds but then you suddenly have to fart and then you have to pee, but again, arms, and so basically the whole thing gets real Armageddon, real fast? And then you look over and New Guy is still asleep and therefore totally unaware of how hard your life is because even after everything that’s just happened, it’s still only 5:03?

That may or may not have been my life a few Saturdays ago.

I eventually sat down in front of my computer to do my taxes this past Saturday, but then I opened Paintbrush and an illustrated graphic of the other Saturday’s debacle just randomly oozed out of me like some kind of weird discharge that one would probably have to send away to a lab for testing if it happened in real life (but that I most likely wouldn’t because now I still haven’t done my taxes and so if there’s anything to be learned from this blog post it’s that I clearly don’t have my self-care priorities in order).

Note: I made the font for my thoughts extra fancy because that’s how they look and sound in my head. They’re British, basically. (In fact, I recommend you read them aloud in an accent as you explore the graphic.)

Sleeeeeep

I think the moral of the story here is that we all need to stop blaming our arms for everything and just accept that life is uncomfortable sometimes. Also, taxes need to not exist, because arms. Wait. Did I just blame my arms for taxes?

 

Possibly the Best Unintentional Metaphor for Life as a Disillusioned Young Professional Ever

Every so often I get the brilliant idea to wake up super early in an effort to gain control of my life and make the most of my pre-work morning time.

Here’s what my living room looks like in my head on those mornings:

Room1

ESPN? Porn? What the hell am I, a straight man?

Here’s what my living room looks like in my head on every other morning:

Room2

Admittedly more common.

In both scenarios, I get to work at the same exact time.

But I mean, in Scenario A, there’s this whole illusion of freedom and choice happening. ”I’m an adult who is in control of how he spends his time,” Scenario A proclaims.

“Hey asshole, no you’re not. Shut up and go to work before you get fired and therefore have no living room to procrastinate in in the first place,” says B.

“You know what? You’re mean. Maybe I don’t need a living room,” Scenario A might reply. “Material shit doesn’t matter! What is money, anyways, but paper and energy and an illusion?”

And that’s usually I get all What-am-I-doing-with-my-life-and-if-money-doesn’t-matter-then-why-don’t-I-just-quit-everything-and-move-to-a-shack-somewhere-in-the-woods-so-I-can-focus-on-my-true-passion-but-then-how-will-I-pay-my-student-loans-and/or-Wu-Tang-Clan-Fan-Club-dues?-FUCK-I’M-TRAPPED and my brain short circuits.

(Side note: I’m totally kidding about the Wu-Tang Fan Club thing. I have no idea where that random gangster rap reference even came from. Actually, wait. I do. I was going to write Mariah Carey Fan Club, but coming from me that just seemed far too predictable at this point. So then my mind was all, “Okay, well Mariah did that ‘Fantasy’ remix with Ol’ Dirty Bastard in 1995… and he was a part of the Wu-Tang Clan… and sure! I’ll say ‘Wu-Tang Fan Club’ and it will be funny.” But now that I think about it, I could have done better. I mean, I wasn’t even a Wu-Tang fan in the nineties, let alone today. Also, I highly doubt they would have had a formal fan club for me to join in the first place. I mean, would that have even been legal? I feel like drugs and guns would have been involved in some capacity, and I’m assuming that the post office would have had something to say about that. And then arrests would have probably been made, and then I wouldn’t even be able to write this right now because I’d be too busy wasting my days away IN JAIL, WONDERING WHY I CAN’T HAVE CONTROL OF MY OWN LIFE.)

Holy shit. Did the Wu-Tang Clan just prove my entire point for me? I think they did.

 

The Definitive Rule for Using Exclamation Points in Work E-mails

We can all tell from the name of this blog that I love a good exclamation point. I mean, they’re fun. They evoke a sense of, like, “Yeah! Life is good!”

Or at the very least, a sense of “I’m perky and approachable and I don’t loathe you.”

Exclamation points say that you’re breezy for you, so you don’t have to say it yourself – because we all know from Friends that explicitly stating you’re breezy totally negates the breezy. So really, exclamation points are an essential communication tool, maintaining the awareness of all our collective breeziness and soothing the egos of probably a million-ish neurotic people per minute.

But what happens when exclamation points become a source of contention, jealousy, and betrayal?

I’m writing, specifically, of exclamation points as employed (no pun intended) in work e-mails.

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Desktop background courtesy of Tiny Buddha. Exclamation points courtesy of an outlandish young professional with access to wine and a smartphone.

To give you an idea of where I’m headed with this, here’s a conversation that recently took place between my work-wife Jenny and I:

  • Nic (pointing at an e-mail she had open on her computer): What is THIS?
  • Jenny: What?
  • Nic: He wrote “Thanks!” at the end. “THANKS!”
  • Jenny: And…
  • Nic: To me, he always writes “Thanks.” WITH A PERIOD. He hates me, doesn’t he? I knew it. Is it because I never returned his three-hole puncher to him that one time? Tell me everything you know.

Jenny, unwilling to sing like a canary, was just like, “Don’t be silly! He gives me periods all the time. This e-mail was an anomaly.”

Her response was a nice attempt at assuaging my pain, but the damage was done.

Now, I totally get that some people just don’t do exclamation points. Most of these people are men (myself notwithstanding). For whatever reason, women have no problem feigning excitement – in e-mails, texts, the bedroom, etc. – but guys tend to be more direct and stoic in their communication styles. (Do you love how I’m setting progress back fifty years right now by totally generalizing male-female social patterns? You do, don’t you?)

With the above in mind, I can totally get down with a dude who uses periods (or even semicolons)… but the guy in the e-mail to Jenny was different. While I had previously put him in the category of “straightforward man who never uses exclamation points,” seeing his e-mail to Jenny destroyed that identity altogether and indicated that he DOES indeed use exclamation points — but that he’s highly selective about it. He’s the pretentious NYU of exclamation points. (Note: I’m allowed to make this joke because I’m alumni.)

I never thought of myself as someone whose emotions could be dictated by punctuation, but apparently I’m hypersensitive and have too much mental time on my hands.

Or is this just the mark (no pun intended again! Okay, maybe a little this time) of the twenty-first century? Assumptions abound and communication suffers because no one wants to actually talk to anyone out loud anymore?

At the end of the day (because I don’t really feel like trying to explore that last question) I think it all just comes down to consistency. I clearly like to keep people in boxes, so here’s what I have to say to all working professionals: If you’re going to be a period person, then please, for the love of Mariah Carey, stay in your box! And exclamation point people, try to do the same.

Let’s all do our part to prevent emotional meltdowns in the workplace.

P.S. For the record, I will continue to always take the exclamation point route myself. Mostly because my biggest fear is being interpreted as a disgruntled misanthrope by those around me. Plus it leaves open the option to occasionally use them in a passive-aggressive manner when someone says “Do this” and I say “Sure thing!” when what I really mean is, “If you were attacked by a large, aggressive bear with poop on its paws right now, I might be okay with that.”

P.P.S. It just occurred to me that maybe the aggressive-bear-with-poop-claws exclamation point is actually exactly what Jenny received in the e-mail in question, which would mean that that guy is in fact not selective in an NYU kind of way, but more so selective in an angry-evil-bear-poop-whisperer kind of way.

P.P.P.S. In light of that last postscript, I’ve just realized that my entire argument in this piece is ludicrous and baseless and unfounded — pretty much everything but “definitive.”

P.P.P.P.S. WHY CAN’T I EVER MAKE AN IRREFUTABLE POINT? I guess this is why we should never try to keep people in boxes. Run free, everyone. Follow your heart. Use whatever punctuation you desire. Just be breezy about it.

 

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