Thursday, February 6, 2014

Google and Brains: A Love Story

I use Google a lot. More than I think I even realize.

I work in online media, and I live in 2014. As a result, my entire life is spent within the confines of an internet browser. I'm going to venture a guess and say that your situation isn't much different. There's nothing wrong with that. You're great. Don't change.

But it's weird. The smallest, most insignificant question will come to my head, and the process of opening a new tab, typing an inquiry directly into the url bar, receiving the information, and closing the tab is as effortless as whatever dumb communication goes on between the synapses in my brain.

Here's some news: the smartest people in the world still don't know what happens in the brain. Some things are known about this weird organ that named itself, but most things are not. But we get computers. We made them.

Google is great, but it doesn't know your life outside of knowing what your spending habits are, which websites interest you, who your friends are, where you live, how much money you have, your schedule, what you do for a living... I guess that list goes on for a while. Nevermind.

In an effort to go back to the ol' brain roots for a second, I'm going to do you all an enormous favor. I'm going to type "How to" into Google, and then type a letter of the alphabet. I'll then make a tutorial based on the very first autofill. For each letter of the alphabet. I'll be making these with my brain. And, well, Adobe Illustrator. BUT NO GOOGLE.

Come along with me! This should be dumb.

How to add fractions.
Adding fractions is easy. Just write them on separate pieces of paper, schmoose them together, and make kissy noises. The wetter the better.

How to boil eggs.
The important thing to remember is that eggs don't want to be boiled. They want to live inside their mother's butt forever. The right thing to do would be to put that egg where it came from, which is what I've illustrated below.

How to close apps on iOS 7.
Prop your phone up so it's looking right at you, and then throw a couple pelvic thrusts at it, see what happens.

How to draw.
I hesitate to share my most delicious secrets when it comes to drawing, but here goes. Just keep it to yourself.

How to enable cookies.
Why you'd want to encourage addiction, I'll never know. But I'm not here to judge.

How to fall asleep.
What people don't realize is that the moon isn't just in charge of tides - it's in charge of sleep schedules. Specifically yours. So give it a little love. It craves the attention.

How to get iOS 7.
Interpretive dance. Really lose yourself with it.

How to hack.
This one should be pretty self-explanatory.

How to install iOS 7.
My god, you guys. With all these iPhone questions. Familiarize yourself with the Apple Dance Commands cheat sheet, and be done with it.

How to jump a car.

How to kiss.
Practice, practice, practice. Trust me. Practice makes passable.

How to lose weight.
Shut it out emotionally, withhold affection, and "accidentally" let it find some of your flirtatious email exchanges.

How to make money.
Just make a grilled cheese sandwich. That's basically money.

How to not care.
Get the thing you care about drunk, and ask them about their last relationship.

How to open a coconut.
Leave it alone. Be patient. Eventually it will need to change into its pajamas.

How to pick a lock.
Oh, wow. So many to choose from. I don't know - go with the combination lock, I guess. That way you don't have to carry some dumb key around.

How to quit smoking.
Easy. Whenever you smoke a cigarette, listen to looped audio of goats screaming.

How to roll a joint.
Basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella. FRESH mozzarella. None of that skunky shit.

How to screenshot on a mac.
With this key command, you can take a screenshot of any individual window. Cmd+Shift+3 will take a shot of the entire screen. Cmd+Shift+4 lets you drag a rectangle over the area you want to save.

These aren't all useless.

How to tie a tie.
Stand in a meadow, and wait for the wildlife to tie it for you. Like Cinderella or whatever. It might take a while, but they'll do it.

How to update iTunes.
Update iTunes by using Spotify.

How to void a check.
Tell it that it's worthless. It might seem harsh, but it's the truth.

How to write a cover letter.
Depending on what country the job is in, it's probably best to use the Arabic alphabet. But you do you.

How to X-ray.
Use reverse psychology.

How to yodel.
You'll need two things: a head cold, and a mountain.

How to zip a file.
Why did you unzip it in the first place, you garbage-person?

You're welcome.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Best I've Got

I'm very much disappointed in myself. For reasons you'll soon understand. But for now, just know that that's where my head is.

Dreams are weird. Every night, whether or not you remember it, your brain is building somewhere around seven different worlds in an attempt to keep itself busy while your clumsy corporeal form gets the rest it requires. Your brain isn't tryna do that. Your brain is that kid everyone knew in college who never seemed to need sleep. Ever.


Detailed environments are invented and recalled. Things you're sure you'd long forgotten will rise to the surface. Absolute bananas nonsense things will happen, and you'll go along with it like it's normal as garbage stir fry dinner on a Tuesday night.


Then, of course, there's waking life. The moment you wake up, you've got feelings you need to deal with. Happy feelings - if you've just dreamt about your arms falling off. Sad feelings - if moments ago you were in your 4th year at Hogwarts. Paralyzing terror - if and when the sickest, deepest depths of your most sinister brain fold was in charge of dreams that night.


I've always been fascinated by dreams. More specifically, lucid dreams. In a lucid dream, you are completely aware of the fact that you are dreaming. It's rare. At least, for me it is. And I consider myself to be an exceptional being, so let's stick with rare. Is everyone good with that? Voiceless audience? Good.

There have been a handful of times in my life where there has been definite potential to turn my run-of-the-mill dream into a lucid one. When that thought comes into my head - are you dreaming right now? - one of three things will happen.

1.) I'll voice it, and the dream people around me will tell me that I'm an idiot. I will take the insult graciously, and go back to cutting whale hair.


2.) I'll voice it, I'll believe it, and I'll freak out. I'll do whatever it takes to wake myself up.


Waking myself up is priority. Terrible things will happen if I don't. My first instinct is always to jump off of buildings, because if I die, I wake up. Right? No. I learned that in order to wake up, I have to be mentally grounded. I have to tell myself truths. I'll say out loud, "My name is Kristin, I'm from Connecticut," and as soon as I say Connecticut, I'm awake. It works every time.

Of course once I wake up, I'm mad. Mad at my brain for not taking advantage of the opportunity.

3.) The third scenario is the most rare. I'll realize I'm dreaming, and I'll keep my shit together enough to understand - and this is the whole point - that I can do literally anything I want. There are no rules. Physics isn't a thing anymore. My imagination is the limit. Incidentally, that's the title of my new book. It's a book of recipes, and every ingredient is cheese.


I had a scenario three experience very recently. One of those extremely rare moments where I realize I'm dreaming, and I keep my shit together. It did not end well. I hesitate to even tell this story. My greatest shame. But oh, look. Here I go.

So in the dream, I'm on an airplane. A private jet, to be more specific. I'm with two unknowns, and we're going to some sort of awesome place. At this point I'm blissfully unaware that this is not my actual life. Completely oblivious to the fact that in reality, at that moment, I am sleeping spread-eagle without covers on my twin-sized bed, damp with sweaty dew because I'm trying to brave the rest of the summer without an air conditioner.


All of a sudden, we're all in a swamp. It's clear that the plane has crashed, because I can see the plane - looking like a broken toy - in the distance. No one is hurt. I'm confused, because I can't remember the crash, but everyone else is unconcerned. I reason that had I actually been in a plane crash, I would have been injured. At the very least, I would have remembered it.


At that moment, it clicks. I'm dreaming.


No, I didn't actually summon Joffrey. That would have been a good use of my omnipotence. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, guys.

Here's what I ended up doing. So overwhelmed with the possibilities, I did the first thing that came to mind. I stuck my bare hands into the mud I was standing in.


As soon as I thought it, an enormous, cavernous sinkhole appeared at my feet. I was thrilled. It was working. I was controlling the world around me, and I was lucid.


Do you want to know what I did next? Knowing full well that there were no limitations, no restrictions, and no consequences? Do you want to know what I did?

Lucid_17 Lucid_18

Moments later, I was a barista at the Starbucks I had created with my mind.


So what does this say about me? It says that in my wildest fantasies, I am a part-time employee at the only known Starbucks sinkhole location.

As soon as I made it happen, I understood that I had failed. I could have wiped the slate clean and started over. But I didn't deserve it. I sat on the floor, put my face in my hands, and told myself that my name is Kristin, and I'm from Connecticut.

Monday, August 5, 2013

I've Got a Problem

I didn't quite realize the severity of my problem until I attended my company's Christmas gathering last year. It wasn't a party, it was a gathering. It was perfectly nice, but it was a gathering. 4:00pm in the conference room. When the cubes of cheese were gone, and the plastic cups of wine were drained, people went back to work. It was a gathering.


I worked this particular job, at a small but well-known publishing house in Manhattan, for almost exactly three years. Which is weird to type out loud, because for a job I didn't much care for, three is a big chunk of my cumulative twenty-five. I'd lay some math on you at this point, but I don't math well, so I won't.

So back to Magic: The Gathering.


My office wasn't the type that would socialize. Or maybe they did, I don't know. I wasn't doing any socializing. There were two people in my department, including myself, and if the higher-ups looked hard enough at what we were doing every day, they'd realize that we could've easily been replaced by computers. Well - let's say robots. Robots are more glamorous.


So anyway, I'm standing in a corner, looking at people who I've worked with for upwards of three years, realizing that I don't know any of them, getting anxious about it, and sipping my merlot. Corner, people, anxious, sip. A cycle. Soon I'm tipsy, as is my wont.


At some point, one of the senior editors approached me directly. That or I was blocking the door frame, and I misinterpreted his "excuse me" as an invitation to start talking at him.


For a quick moment I was relieved that a conversation was happening. I remember that. I remember congratulating myself on all my accomplishments thus far. I was having a conversation at The Gathering. I had washed my hair that morning. The afternoon wasn't a total bust.

But as quickly as that feeling came, it left. It left me like Brad left Jennifer, the dog. All of a sudden I was extremely self-conscious. I started stressing about rules of basic human interaction.


We talked for a minute or so. About whatever. I was borderline drunk, and sweating profusely. I couldn't understand why I was having so much trouble holding up my end of the conversation, and the more I thought about it, the worse it became. Involuntarily I started tuning him out, so I could regroup in my drunk head and come out the other side with something interesting to say.

I could tell by his cadence that the sentence he'd been speaking was almost over, and that I'd need to give some sort of indication that I'd been listening. So I business laughed.


Business laughing isn't real laughing. It's a placeholder. But it didn't matter - it worked.

Here comes the part where I realize I've got a problem. Remember? The problem I have? I alluded to it in the first sentence. Try to keep up.

We finished business laughing, and he asked me a question that brought me out of my anxious tipsy haze.


At this point it should be reiterated that at that moment in time, I had been working full-time at that office for close to three years. And so had Tim.

Something shifted. I felt the anxiety fall away. I laughed. Loudly. And this was no business laugh.


I couldn't stop laughing. It was, and still is, ridiculous. He gave a genuine apology, and I genuinely accepted, still laughing. I laughed for a million years. We laughed together, and at some point, he left. Everyone left, and I was still laughing.

It wasn't until I went back to my cube and put my head on my desk that I realized I had a problem. That it wasn't Tim's responsibility to get to know every insignificant assistant on the company's payroll. That not only do I need to make an effort, but I need to be better at the efforts I actually end up making.


Eight minutes later I lifted my head up and watched a moth flap its stupid moth dust all over my inbox, which in that place was a physical box, with paper, like in the old movies. Two weeks later, I left that job forever.