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How my uncertainty made dating very hard and also....Backyard Kickback #1!!
BK1 has it all - stray thoughts about fatherhood, quotes also about fatherhood, podcast recs, and absolutely incredible photos of old computer advertisements from the 80s for Atari and microsoft Excel
Hello and hi! Something VERY interesting happened today while recording the audio for this post.
While recording and talking through how I’d decided to keep the audio and the Backyard Kickback only for paid subscribers, realized at the end that I WANT TO MAKE IT ALL FREE AND JUST TRUST PEOPLE THAT THEY WILL PAY IF AND WHEN THEY WANT TO. (you can hear this realization happen in real time at the very end of the audio lol).
So, here is the whole enchilada - I hope you enjoy. AND I PROMISE TO NOT TALK ABOUT MY ANXIETIES AROUND PAID SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR AT LEAST SIX MONTHS.
With that being said….(lol)
If you’d like to become a paid subscriber to support the work I’m doing you can do so here. But you don’t have to. You do what feels good for you. And I will keep making this stuff for everyone because I get really anxious right now thinking about doing it any other way lol.
You can also share this with your friends which means a lot it really does its like the biggest deal actually.
OK NOW LETS GET INTO IT.
Uncertainty Is Annoying
I hate uncertainty. Always have, always will. Well…maybe not always? There mighta been brief moments when I didn’t hate it, but I can’t be sure…. AH ITS HERE THE UNCERTAINTY MONSTER IS BACK DID YOU SEE THAT IT CAME OUTTA NOWHERE.
There it is - Fraidy. Do not under any circumstances call it Friday, it hates that, the little scamp!
Fraidy played a big role in the newsletter I sent out last week posing the question any Important Writer (ShakeSpears, TSK Eliot, Mary Wallstonecrafty, etc) asks their audience: ‘what more can I do to make you love me enough to to pay for this newsletter?’
Despite how incredibly emo it was, and I’m talking Dashboard Confessional x Papa Roach emo here, you all graciously answered and, to be h, I learned a lot.
Before I share though, let’s rewind a bit to Fraidy’s origins by way of a brief story.
Would it be okay if I maybe kissed you?
Having been a late bloomer in high school, aka a short boy with low self esteem who started prep for the SAT in 4th grade, I did not have much luck with the ladies. Not for lack of trying—I asked many girls to be my girlfriend, but much to my chagrin, I was rebuffed, spurned, snubbed, declined, repudiated and many more words I don’t feel comfortable saying on AM radio.
One time I got close - a girl I really liked asked me to come hang with her and some friends at the McDonalds at like, 1030pm. Also, she was a cool girl so she was with cool friends. Her request was without any shadow of a doubt a sign that she was in love with me, so I went on up there and tried my best to communicate that I too was into her and ready for a kiss of some sort to take place either before or after we ate some dank chicken nugz with honey mustard sauce, but alas she was super stoned and drunk and also with another guy.
I would have gladly become both stoned and drunk too but no one really offered so I went home and stomped down to the basement where, surrounded by absolutely obscene amounts of canned goods and bottled water procured by my parents from Costco, I lifted weights for a long time, most of which was also spent crying.
BUT THAT WAS THE PAST. The future was college - a fresh start where everything would be different. Right? RIGHT?
I did in fact spend those years flirting with girls, trying to maybe see about kissing, and most importantly, seeing if they liked me and wanted to be boyfriend girlfriend. Was everyone hooking up and doing sex? Sure. Did I want that too? You betcha. But more so I just wanted to date, to fall in love, AND I DID! There were a couple relationships, deep, emotional and full of the cringe and heartbreak that only puppy love can produce, but the majority of my time was an endless yearning driven at root by a need to prove to myself and the world that I was worthy. Worthy of love. Plus, I was horny. Not trying to sound like some sort of Jane Eyre romantic here. There was libidinous energy all about.
But unlike my friends, all of whom seemed to have no trouble with tha ladies, I went into a code red full on panic as soon as soon as there was even a flicker of a hint of a possibility that romance might be around the corner.
This culminated in my junior year during a particularly hot and heavy period of maybe flirting with this one girl Amanda (changing the name bc I have eyes on me). We were texting a lot, hanging a good amount, mostly honestly just gchatting which, for a guy who likes to communicate his feelings and comedy via written word while remaining a safe physical distance away from other people who make him nervous, was perfect.
Amanda and I maybe kissed once, I honestly can’t remember. But after that maybe kiss, I lost my mind. I couldn’t stand the uncertainty of not being sure what sort of label we were, what to call us, what box to place us in within my mind. I was so uncomfortable and anxious that finally I just broke down and sent her a text which said:
“Hey I can’t handle this, it’s way too unclear. What are we?”
WHICH IS A BATSHIT CRAZY THING TO ASK AT THAT POINT!!!
What are we?? We are nothing at that point, we are - or we were - in the earliest stages of early courtship which, breaking news, is RUINED immediately upon asking to define the status of the courting.
It’s like a Schrödinger’s cat thing, except the opposite - the courting only exists until you try to define it at which point it becomes, well, either a real thing or a no thing but in most cases it will be the no thing because you are asking way too soon.
This happened fairly regularly, so my friends got together and implemented a nuclear code system such that I was not allowed to text any girls without first getting the written approval of TWO separate friends. Once both friends had flipped the ‘okay’ switch, I could send the text.
I’m pretty sure it worked, I don’t know. I kept having trouble with the uncertainty of relationships but learned how to manage it better and not vomit it onto the other person. Eventually I met Lauren who, well, this actually is a bad example. After spending a month working together on the Oscar Award Winning Film Bloody Homecoming (it wins every year), Laur was set to leave back to grad school in for North Carolina, but I asked her to stay a few more days and she did, after which I asked her if she wanted to be boyfriend girlfriend hahaha. BUT SHE SAID YES.
And look at us now. Married with child, like the Alfred Bundy show.
Point is: I believe it was this same hunger for certainty that drove me to post last week. I came to this largely after reading some amazing advice from Michael Estrin (who writes the absurdly funny Situation Normal - go and subscribe ya dummy). Here’s what he said:
Will I pay for exclusive information? In a heart beat. But I’m also quick to cancel those subs if I don’t need that info anymore. BUT I also pay for things I love, and I tend to stick with those things indefinitely.
The catch is that love is kind of a slow burn most of the time. I found Both Are True about a month ago. I’m slowly falling in love because your words are becoming part of my week (a lovely part!). Keeping all posts free gives readers like me the space / time to fall in love at my own pace. Posting regular reminders that’s there’s a paid option for those who love your work and want to support it is a subtle (or not so subtle) nudge that pushes me to reflect on the love question. Yes, there’s an element of guilt here and I know that can feel icky, but here’s the thing, I don’t think I’d feel guilty about getting something for free if I didn’t love it. Put another way, if I love something but I’m not really showing up to support it, I feel guilty, and eventually, if given the opportunity at regular intervals, the guilt overcomes me and I just subscribe. That’s how NPR got me and it’s how Anne got me, and they both have me FOREVER.
He’s so right!! The relationship between a reader and the person they’re reading has to happen on its own time - one cannot be guilted or forced into it, or most importantly asked to define it prematurely. Cuz the reader probably doesn’t know yet. You’re on a 2nd date with them screaming WILL YOU MARRY ME AT SOME POINT AND IF SO WHAT DO I NEED TO DO IN ORDER TO ENSURE THAT HAPPENS.
All of the comments I received were incredibly helpful, and I just wanna highlight this one because it was so funny:
Hello uncertainty, my new friend
So. I am going to try and live in the uncertainty of not being in control of any of this for a while and I promise here to you all that I won’t talk about paid subscription stuff of any kind for SIX MONTHS. Each post will still have a little call to action for becoming paid if you would like to, but that’s it. THIS IS MY PROMISE: no jabbering on about my feelings and paid subscriptions or any of that until April 21 2023. And maybe even longer who knows.
With that said, everything will be free and available for all! When I recorded the audio for this piece, I did not yet come to that realization so listen to the audio if you wanna hear what this originally said lol.
So without any further Adele, let’s get into the first Backyard Kickback!!
Backyard Kickback #1
Hi. Feeling…pretty good honestly? Last week was a rough one, largely because of the anxiety I had around Brad C. Onversion. It’s absurd to write but it is also real and so (points to the sign), both are true.
There’s a line from the season 2 finale of the amazing show Industry where after two characters have sex right before one of them is about to get married (to another woman), that dude (Rishi) says “just had to get the poison out.”
That line has stuck with me, and was how I felt after the post last week. BUT THEN
I was looking up quotes about uncertainty from THA GODDESS herself Pema Chodron whose book “Comfortable with Uncertainty” is an all time fav and found this one:
The pith instruction is, whatever you do, don’t try to make the poisons go away. When you’re trying to make them go away, you’re losing your wealth along with your neurosis. The irony is that what we most want to avoid in our lives is crucial to awakening bodhichitta. These juicy emotional spots are where a warrior gains wisdom and compassion. Of course, we’ll want to get out of those spots far more often than we’ll want to stay. That’s why self-compassion and courage are vital. Without loving-kindness, staying with pain is just warfare.”
AHHHH She called it. Don’t try to make the poisons go away!!
So then the goal is what? To learn to live with them? To allow them their space to be lil poisonous guys without taking over? To see the good in them and eventually love them? Brb texting Pema (had to google ‘is pema chodron alive’ after writing that - SHE IS!)
What else, what else….I wrote a piece for halloween that I submitted to McSweeney’s! Odds are they won’t accept it and thus I will post it in Both Are True before Halloween!
Oh. One thing I am loving about Wilder these days - he does a thing where when its time to put his shoes on, I get on the floor and he sorta backs up into me until he just sorta plops down into my lap - it’s so cute I cannot stand it. There’s something about that experience, the way he sorta melts into me, and how I am seeing the world from his point of view, like we are looking in the same direction, it’s a trip. He’s becoming such a little man. Whenever people say ‘it goes by so fast’ I want to scream because its like no shit dude it’s life but also, IT GOES BY TOO FAST. I am thinking of getting a tattoo of an egg to celebrate this specific period in his life because he is obsessed with eggs and says ‘eg’ all the time. Last night he took out EVERY SINGLE POT AND PAN out of the cupboard and presented each to me followed by the word ‘eg’. Eventually I did make an ‘eg’. Two in fact. And they were gud. Yum.
C.S. Lewis' full name: Clive Staples Lewis - incredible. No way in hell he’d have become who he was with that full name.
Same goes for Daniel Day Lewis (both Lewis wtf?) If he was DD Lewis, no way. Also not if he was Dan Day Lewis or Dan Lewis. He HAD to be Daniel Day Lewis for his whole brand to work out.
Absolutely wild that there is now a Genre on Spotify called Focus. Genres used to be about the type of music it was, right? Well, maybe not. Rock n roll is about what you do. Country is about where it is located. Rap describes rap. Hip Hop sort of both the art form and what people do (they jump idk) EDM very clearly is Electronic Dance Music lol. But FOCUS. That’s an end goal. It’s like how drinks and foods say stuff like Calm, Focus, Energy, Sleep, etc. Flavors are now states of being. This must be studied and quickly.
Ya know where the grass is definitely actually always greener? Outside.
Sleep, it makes snoozers of us all.
Earlier today I saw MoshJesus (the hero from my story about my car Onyx and my grandpa Alik) again in the neighborhood. He was, I shit you not, holding a car steering wheel in his hand. Jesus had, there is no other way to say this - literally - taken the wheel.
Stuff that made me go whoa
This quote from Michael Chabon’s intro to the book Pops - The intro is about the advice he got from some older author (who he then reveals was Richard Yates) that was basically "don't have children." and that for every child you have, you lose one book you coulda written. Here's the last paragraph from Chabon that blew me away.
If I had followed the great man’s advice and never burdened myself with the gift of my children, or if I had never written any novels at all, in the long run the result would have been the same as the result will be for me here, having made the choice I made: I will die; and the world in its violence and serenity will roll on, through the endless indifference of space; and it will take only one hundred of its circuits around the sun to turn the six of us, who loved each other, to dust, and consign to oblivion all but a scant few of the thousands upon thousands of novels and short stories written and published during our lifetimes. If none of my books turns out to be among that bright remnant because I allowed my children to steal my time, narrow my compass, and curtail my freedom, I’m all right with that. Once they’re written, my books, unlike my children, hold no wonder for me; no mystery resides in them. Unlike my children, my books are cruelly unforgiving of my weaknesses, failings, and flaws of character. Most of all, my books, unlike my children “do not love me back. Anyway, if, one hundred years hence, those books lie moldering and forgotten, I’ll never know. That’s the problem, in the end, with putting all your chips on posterity: You never stick around long enough to enjoy it.
This interview w Julio Torres, the incredible comedian behind some of SNLs best sketches lately (including Papyrus) as well as one of the creators of the truly genius funny weird show Los Espookeys on HBO (h/t to Chris Duffy of Bright Spots for the find).
My goal is always to create work that I’m excited about. It’s never being affiliated with a thing that already exists. Which is why I was never a sports person. I’m not into succeeding in the game that somebody else came up with. It’s like, I scored a goal, OK, great. But you’re the one who designed that the ball was supposed to go into the net. I’m just a little peon succeeding at your thing. Saturday night live was a fantastic arena for me to explore, but it was never like, this is what I have to do with my life. Actually, I think that’s sort of an unhealthy way of entering it. Because then your goal becomes succeeding at the show and not having fun at being funny. If you’re too preoccupied with what the show means — it’s like you don’t want to go on a date already having a crush on the person. You want to see if you like them first. They have to prove themselves to you, too.
Here’s Papyrus god it is so fucking good.
Three Podcasts (actually four lol)
We Were Three: AHHH it’s so good, Nancy Updike produces and she was part of the Serial team, it def has that vibe but less mystery more tragedy of a family with some people who aren’t so into Covid being real. do NOT listen to the trailer it gives away the entire first episode it should not be allowed to do that trailers must go through a system of being watched by 10 people who also watch whatever the trailer is promoting and they say THIS PASSES or THIS FAILS that is final I am sorry.
The Gray Area episode with Raza Aslan - Aslan was a producer on The Leftovers one of my fav shows of all time - he talks about working on that show, religion in America, and more. V good. A+.
Ezra Klein talking with Rachel Maddow (NYTimes gift link with transcript) - I love how Maddow thinks about news and managing a news room. Also she talks about her new pod Ultra which is BATSHIT INSANE and REQUIRED LISTENING - see below.
Ultra - There were a bunch of far right Christian Front asshats trying to take down the US Government…in 1944. The eerie similarities between then and now coupled with some genuinely amazing storytelling (especially how the first ep starts) make this an A+ with another +.
Ads for old computers > > >
Absolutely obsessed with these old ads for computers (full list here). Scroll to the end for an absolutely insane 4 page spread for 1987 Microsoft Excel.
1987 Microsoft Excel Ads
OK THAT IS IT WOW WHAT A DOOZY OF A BACKYARD KICKBACK!!!
If you are still here and wanna say something in the comments, BE MY GUEST: