Monday, January 26, 2009

The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul

You know I am a mom, right? And sometimes, the mommy job requires that I bare little buttocks, and swat them soundly. Other times, it means taking a distraught child, curling her against my body, and offering what comfort I can with my words, my arms, and my love.

Today, while you may be hoping for the former, little Askers, you're getting the latter.

When you happen onto this blog, you'll immediately think, "fuck me with a chainsaw, another emo Indian kid blog." Don't. And, don't roll your eyes at me, either. I don't care much for student blogs, but for some reason, I want to take this girl, wrap my arm around her, and tell her that life will be okay.

New is hard. And, frankly, it sucks ass. You are living in a new town or new country, far away from all that is familiar. You want your mom to be there when you're sick. You want to walk down a familiar street. You want the friends who've known you for years. You want home, and all of the ten million tiny details that are encompassed by that word: the scent of home, the familiar faded curtains, the furniture that bears the scars of recurrent collisions with your body parts, the stain on the rug from red nail polish when you were 16.

Ms. Gruntle is young, and she's learning a hard lesson: once you leave, you can never really go home again.

Oh, you can go back to the same place, but you'll have changed, and so will that place. And, the people you knew there will have gone on in your absence, and they'll have changed, too. Some things will be the same, but there will always be jarring absences, strange pauses, stories you didn't participate in, and new and disconcerting shops, restaurants, houses, and people.

Welcome to Adulthood.

All you can really do, Ms. Gruntle, is document the journey. Fill your blog with all the details that you WANT to remember from the trip. What you don't write down will get lost: faded, fuzzy, and forgotten.

And, if you want to document your journey for the rest of us, do this:

1. Add an "About Me." I want to know why you are in the United States, what you hope to accomplish, and a bit more meat about who you are besides the fact that you run "like a mole." You don't have to give incriminating details (Calamity and I had a long convo about this very topic - blogging anonymity - over drinks on Fridya night). But, you do need to give the readers of your blog a backstory to fill in the gaps, so we know what the fuck you're talking about.

2. Give more details that are relevant to the story. Instead of telling us that you miss the smell of a particular place, tell us what the smell is...tangerines and almonds. Or, fried dough and turnips. Or, my favorite written description of New Orleans: Roses and sewers. Let us miss it, with you. When you talk about depression, don't tell us you're sad, tell us how that sadness FEELS.

3. Let go. With everyone else, we say, "edit, edit, edit." With you, for now, I'm going to say, "stop editing." Let it flow. Give yourself 30 minutes, write whatever your are feeling, even if it is nonsensical, and post it. Then, let it go. If you can't do that in your blog's present form, find some kind of anonymity that allows you to do this. Anonymity is hard to keep, but it is valuable. There is one irony about blogging that never ceases to amaze me: I can tell horrifying secrets to strangers that I'd never tell close friends. If you lose the anonymity, you've lost that opportunity.

4. Write, everyday. Do it because doing so will help you, personally. And, here is how: It's been 5 months, and you're in this strange country, and everything is alien. In another 6 months, though, it will be slightly more familiar. Even now, you have your little routines. If you push yourself, those routines will expand, and you will start to build a place for yourself, a place that feels just ever so slightly more like home. In 2 years, you will really FEEL like you're home, and home will feel strange and alien and changed.

You should document that process, because when times get hard, you can look back and see how far you've come. You can see the progress you've made, and you can take heart from it. And in years to come, you'll realize just how strong you are, just how capable you are, and when future changes come, you will be able to more easily take them in stride. That is the one certainty of adult life, by the way, that all things change, even the things that you hope will never change.

And, now, with my mom hat securely on my head, I want you to know these things, as well:

Dear Ms. Gruntle:

I'm worried about you. Here is my best motherly advice to help you weather these tough times:

1. Eat better. Sure, McDonald's is cheaper, and the greasy carbs give you a quick high, but ultimately, you will feel worse. Better than McDonald's is this meal from Wendy's, for under $4: Small side salad, baked potato, chili. If you are struggling with depression, the worst thing you can do is eat a lot of unhealthy, carb-heavy, toxic food. It will only make things worse.

2. Do one thing each day that scares you. I'm not talking about jumping out of airplanes, but I am talking about pushing yourself outside of your rut. Talk to someone in the classroom. Smile at a cashier. Ask a stranger a question. Invite someone to go to dinner with you. Go for a walk and discover a new place. Eat a new kind of food you've never tried before. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You are on your own in a new place, this is an ADVENTURE. Treat it as such.

3. Take lots of pictures. You'll want to remember the things you've seen, done, enjoyed, hated, explored.

4. Find at least one thing each day that gives you joy. Maybe it's a song. Maybe it's the sight of the sun streaming between the bare branches of the trees onto crystalline snow. Maybe it's a funny bumper sticker. Force yourself to find your bliss.

5. Find some words that inspire you, and put them on your mirror where you will be forced to read them every morning. Do it so that you can internalize them. I recommend Ralph Waldo Emerson. Perhaps you can start with this:
Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.

If you do these things, and you write, write, write those feelings out, I promise that you will find that the sky is significantly lighter in the next couple of months, and so is your daily mood.



I give you , with the promise of more to come if you keep working at it.

I am also giving you this for this post.

Stop overthinking this shit. It's just a blog, for god's sake.


  1. Awww. I thought this review was right on. This girl has a sense of humor, I just think she needs to embrace it a little more. I think her blog is going to be really entertaining once she gets a little more accustomed to her surroundings.

  2. LB, this shit was PERFECT. First review of the New Year that I agree 100%, yo.

  3. Also, I now have the urge to find footage of a running mole.

  4. "I have been abandoned mid-flight more than once, and it hurt so much that I gave up on society."

    Yeah me too. Don't know where you're located but if you're near me I encourage you to drop by and see yourself in about 15-20 years. It's what you need.

    Be a warrior and do what love bites suggests and dig deep to do something scary every day.

  5. Gap, dude, that December 15 post on your blog was brilliant. Why in the FUCK don't you write more?

  6. God, I want to hug YOU, LB. That was a great review.

  7. Oh, and Gap is only allowed to write when GoK tells her to. She's his bitch.

  8. Just curious. I submitted my blog around late October - early November. Has it been lost in the shuffle? Or is it still in the queue? Or is it so horrendous that the reviewers continue to bicker over who gets to enable my self-immolation?

    On second thought, perhaps I'm not that curious.



  9. From what I've seen around here, Doug, its better to be patient than forfeit any leniancy the reviewers may have given you.
    Lb: wonderful review, from here you almost seem human.

  10. Ooooohhh, I want to review the impatient old guy!

  11. Ah, I remember when I was studying abroad and it was the first time in my life I was able to keep a journal (back in the days before blogs). I think it's so valuable to retain proof of that time, to log what happens and how you feel. And that's what this blog reminds me of.

    Nicely reviewed, LB.

    Also, I love the purple. I can't help it.

  12. Doug, we are freaking popular. It looks to me like there are about 30 blogs before you. Suffer!

  13. The only post I see on the 15th is a note to my dead cat, Maui. I don't know why I don't write more but it's probably for the same reason a prisoner doesn't step out more often

    Yes, Pirate, I am his "bitch". Whatever it is about that man that makes me say such a thing, I'll never know. Okay, I know why. That's why I'm his bitch.

  14. Exactly. Whatever happened to that Rickey Henderson fella? He was fun.

  15. I think he lost patience with the process...he was only here for the ego strokes, clearly.

  16. Gap, I know. I have the same problem with him. Nothing sexier than doing the no pants dance and having him tell you you're the ugliest bitch on earth. I find it so enticing.

  17. This is totally off-topic, but I feel sorry for the bitches who don't have an invite to key's blog and missed out on this brilliance.

    I'm going to be fucked up thinking about this one for a while, not because I was military, but because I miss some of the same shit about my former job.

    That's the difference between a good blog and a shitty one, the good ones, the person reaches inside their gut and pulls out something so real, so true, that you can't stop thinking about it. It transcends space and time.

    The blog I reviewed today reminded me of my first days away from home at 23, living in a strange state with strange religious freaks, and way too many white people. 1990 was a miserable fucking year.

    And, key's blog reminded me of 1999...and for that matter, 2009.

  18. Goddammmitall, now I'm all introspective and mellow and shit.

  19. Thanks Calamity. Suffer I shall!

  20. Enjoyed this, good use of the Stairsteps. Although what's wrong with the guy who comes in around 1:10? He's singing like he just left the dentist.

  21. I took an instant liking to this blog, probably because I know what it is to be a stranger in a strange land and have total home issues too.

    Love the review LB and the advice you give.

  22. I love being able to ADORE a blog. This one, I adore. Thanks for a fantastic review, LB.

  23. I am still looking for something witty to say here.

    Otherwise, thanks a ton for the review Love Bites. And thanks for the perspective too.

  24. I read the girl's blog.
    Reminds me of so many friends of mine who had to move, except she can actually feel. And if she wrote more of what she felt it would be amaing.
    My dear Love Bites, why oh why oh why won't you review my blog?
    I'm an Indian kid.I'm not emo, but I write.
    I submitted it TWICE the last time over two months ago.
    I can handle criticism.
    Just give it a shot, won't you?

  25. Trill, I think you underestimate the power of standing in line.

  26. I never cease to be amazed by man's need to draw more fire upon himself. Asking the reviewers to 'hurry up and expose my genius' is a death sentence around here.

  27. A whole other side of Love Bites is revealed! The softer side, the lovelier side...

    Wonderful. Now I'm all introspective and mellow and shit too.

  28. I just love Narcoleptic. She's a sweetie. And you're right, LB, she needs to take better care of herself!

  29. Meh.
    In India, in the nineties, we weren't ever taught of patience.

    Modesty, humility and batman, yes, but never patience.


    Guess I'll just have to wait, huh?


Grow a pair.