Am I Famous Yet?

On this, the last Thursday of the most lit Black History Month since George Washington Carver was like “Y’all will not believe what this little nut can do”, I present a special #TBT.

As you know, a few weeks back an open letter to Beyonce went viral. I was like, “Girl, I have arrived!”

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“I’m famous. No more UberX for me. Black cars only, please!”

I quit my job. I moved to Branson (“The Hollywood of the Midwest!”) I opened up a bed and brunch (ain’t nobody got time to get up and make breakfast)!

But. Then I posted another blog post and the Internet was like “Sorry, we’re really obsessed with Daniel’s shoes right now. Please leave a message.”

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However, I was Googling myself (as one does) and I came across this video from Yum’s The Word, Robin Gelfenbien’s fabulous storytelling show and ice cream cake party, and I remembered,  this was not my first brush with Internet fame!

Over a decade ago, I went hilariously, tragically and very controversially  viral with an ill-timed satire about Black History Month. And, because I am a whore for fame, I am bringing it up again! I’m Faye Resnick, y’all, and I’m ashamed of myself.

Give this story a listen. It’s a scream. You will have emojis about it.

And then!

Check out my wonderful fiance’s recent TEDx Talk on the intersection of sexual orientation and spiritual identity. It’s wonderful and heartfelt and revolutionary and I’m obsessed with him.

 

Wokeness Brokeness

Y’all haters corny with that living in poverty mess.

Okay, so last week I celebrated Black History Month by doing the blackest thing I could think of–going h.a.m. on the price of Beyonce concert tickets. We love to get incredulous about how much things cost. Doesn’t matter how much money we have; it’s the principle! You haven’t lived until you’ve been in a Safeway watching the 90 year-old head of the usher board telling the manager he ought to be ashamed of himself for how much he’s charging for these Nilla wafers.

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In response to my piece about her concert ticket prices, Beyonce also did the blackest thing she could think of: continuing to get her damn paper. She was so unbothered by me! And that’s a beautiful thing.

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We, as a people, have a complicated relationship with money. It’s not surprising. Our ancestors were treated as property. That can fuck a people up.

Sister Bertha is not fussing about Nilla Wafers; she’s talking about dignity. She’s asking for justice. And a raincheck.

Maybe it’s controversial–apparently it’s controversial–but lemme tell you: there’s nothing wrong with making money.

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I don’t know why this is controversial. I thought this was still a capitalist country (until the Bernie revolution next January or whatever is supposed to happen. Side note: should I buy my socialism starter kit now or will it be shipped directly to me? Is buying it wrong? Will it only be available for barter? What about bitcoin? Can I download it on Tidal? What. Is. Tidal?! So many questions.)

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Despite the economic principles this country was founded on people are coming for Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar like the IRS.

And just like Sally Field at the end of Steel Magnolias, I want to know why!

People keep saying that they reject “Formation” or the Super Bowl performance because it seems calculated. First of all, Beyoncé doesn’t care what you think. How many times does she have to tell you? Beyoncé is Regina George; stop trying to make your opinion happen. It’s not going to happen.

Like why are your trying to come for her and her money? She’s not here for you. She’s not even here. You’re at the wrong house. This is Solange’s house.

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Second of all, what kind of common core arithmetic are you doing where you think the most calculated thing the biggest pop star in the world can do is release a black Power anthem?

Beyoncé’s like “Hm. I’d like some more money. Should I release ‘Single Ladies II’? Nah, I’ll remind people that Black Lives Matter. [insert maniacal laugh].” She would have to be a worse business person than Donald Trump to think that the most money is in that banana stand.

Like, she knows how this is done. We all do. Rihanna was like “Gotta pay the weed man, so I guess I’ll release a song” and then came out with a song that was literally called Gimme your fucking money. Like, bitch just pulled her Hummer up to the ATM and ripped the whole thing out the wall. And Rihanna stans were just like “Yaaaaaas! Slay! My PIN is 2233! When is ANTI coming out?!”

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Four years ago Adele sold 8 million albums by adding music to the last text fight you and your ex had after breaking up. Then she came back this year and sold another 6 million albums by musicalizing a 3 am “Sup?” Snapcat. Yo, I love Adele because I have ears and eyes but that is calculated.

Making money requires calculation. If a person has money, they’ve done some calculating. Unless they’re Donald Trump in which case they fell backwards through a rip in the moral fabric of the universe, flailing and spitting all the way.

Truth is, your fave has money and they’ve put thought into how to get it. And that doesn’t make them less woke. Bernie is a rich person. Kendrick is a rich person. DeRay is running for mayor; that takes money. Your fave is a rich person. Unless your fave is Kanye. Kanye is poor.

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LOL Kanye is so poor.

At least I think you can make money and be woke. Girl, you know I don’t know.

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You know how the Social Security administration sends out your lifetime earnings and estimated SSI payments every couple of years? Well I got mine and it was just this GIF

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I have already put in my pre-emptive application to be a senior greeter at Walmart because this bitch is never retiring. Shady Pines doesn’t give a damn how many blog hits I got back in the day.

I work in non-profit and I write plays, two fields that also have a strange relationship with money. I’ll tell you this: I am really good at my job and I am really qualified for my job but I don’t make a lot of money. And that’s not a read on my job (although I did wait to post this until after my review; chile who you playing?) It’s just the way things work.

When you do “good” work or “do it because you love it” people think you don’t need to get paid for it. If I was this good at my job and also worked at Google, I’d have stacks on stacks on stacks. I’m not complaining; I’m just expressing my philosophy. People matter most, relationships matter, spiritual practice matters, but so does paying your rent. I got all kinds of things to pay for. I’m going to have a kid one day. You think that’s cheap? I’m gay as hell; I gotta buy a kid. You thought Nilla wafers were expensive. Child.

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I love what I do, which is why I do what I do. I used to work for banks foreclosing on mortgages held by young couples in over their heads and widows and divorcees. Like, you’ve seen The Big Short? I was the sequel. Bigger, shorter. There’s a dick joke there but I don’t want to reach for it.

Hold for applause.

I got paid doing that job but I didn’t love it. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid to do something you don’t love. But there’s also nothing wrong with making money doing something that you believe in. Dr. King paid his bills, too, okay?

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Maybe that’s a cynical thought but so is the idea that the only way artists should make money is by putting out facile, manufactured commercial hits.

You like the message but don’t want to pay for it? Cool. Do you. I’ll be over here with my big wide brimmed black hat and my empty bank account blasting TPAB and being reminded that I, too, might one day afford the American Dream.

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Coming in June 2016: TIME IS ON OUR SIDE, a world premiere play by R. Eric Thomas
Commissioned by Simpatico Theatre Project and directed by Jarrod Markman
Find tickets and information: http://bit.ly/TimeJune

 

 

Concert Dreams, Cheddar Bay Budget

Dear Beyonce,

Ma’am. Ma’am! I did not realize the registration fee for the revolution was going to be so high.

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Me logged on to Ticketmaster

First of all, thank you. You are a phenomenal performer, businessperson, icon and GIF-factory. We are lucky to share the Earth with you.

Second of all, what the fuck are you doing charging me all this money for your concert? Where am I supposed to get the scratch to pay for your Givenchy-brand event? Can I pay in Frank’s Red Hot? Do you take Red Lobster gift cards? Do you?

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No. You do not.

Ma’am!

I, like many of my compatriots, am woke af. Now. This morning I greeted my fiance with a hearty “Black Power!” (He is white. This was awkward. Yes we can, amiright?) But, ma’am, I got to pay for cable. And a wedding. And, Bey, your husband told me I had to pay for Tidal so that I could get Rihanna’s new album and I did it, ma’am, because I didn’t know that you were about to sound the horns of Jericho and make every other album irrelevant.

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(I literally just remembered that Hamilton and Adele exist. It has been days since I thought of them.)

And I’m trying to support you, you know. We have to stick together as a people. It only took two and a half days from the time that you released a Black empowerment anthem for all the conversations to turn to how white people feel about it. But whatever. I’m still here for it. I’m still here for America. Yes we can. Am I right? Am I?

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You gotta understand, I’m trying to have a Diana Ross in Central Park moment with you. That is, free and potentially life-threatening. I not here for these $300-a-seat reindeer games. I’m not for it!

I logged on to Ticketmaster with my BeyHive access code and I couldn’t, for the life of me, find the Black Excellence discount. This site was treating me like one of those… regular people. I was whispering at my computer screen “Girl, it’s me. What’s the black password? ‘Damn damn damn?’ Should I screenshot my nostrils?”

imkiddingAll very distressing.

This site tried to come back at me with some $600 for two tickets. 12670068_10156541023235252_3514762293048735283_nMa’am! I didn’t pay $600 for my bed and my ass is in that every damn day. You think I’m going to pay $600 to stand in the middle of a stadium and squint to see you?

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No ma’am!

(I mean, yes ma’am, but really…)

These prices are not Cheddar Bey-informed.

Where are these seats, anyway? In an underwater police car? In Angela Davis’ living room? Am I going to be sitting directly on Jesus’ lap?

Props to you, ma’am, for charging what you’re worth. We all should. We should all make what we’re worth. If we were paid our worth, we’d all be Black Bill Gates. But then if we were all paid our worth, no one would be poor, I guess. So, upside–we could all afford your concert. Downside–we’d all have to admit Bernie Sanders is right, or something.

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But that’s not the world we live in. I ain’t got this kind of money even though I am also a democratic socialist. (Doesn’t everyone join the socialists as a get rich quick scheme? Just me?) I mean, I put your tickets as an item on our wedding registry but I don’t have high hopes, Bey. We also need some Wedgewood dishes. I love you Bey, but I can’t serve dinner for 6 on your fabulousness.

As much as I have tried in the past.

Alls I’m saying, you’re stumping super hard for Red Lobster when you need to be shilling H&R Block. Cuz all your stans are going to be slaying their tax refund to pay for tickets.

But, in conclusion, I ain’t mad. Get that money, girl. You deserve every penny.

Black Power!

Eric

 


Coming in June 2016: TIME IS ON OUR SIDE, a world premiere play by R. Eric Thomas
Commissioned by Simpatico Theatre Project and directed by Jarrod Markman
Find tickets and information: http://bit.ly/TimeJune

Do White People Exist?

Where do I begin?

After dinner, my fiance, David, retired to the bedroom to do some reading for grad school. David is a Presbyterian pastor who is getting a second Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. This dude effin loves school. David plus academia, sitting in a tree.hermione

David, my fiance, also happens to be white. Is that what you’re supposed to say? He just accidentally fell into Caucasia through the random vagaries of genetics (science, wtf, amiright?). I think it’s such a funny thing that we do when we need to mention someone’s race but we’re also not racists. We start verbally tip-toeing through our sentences like the spaces between the words are filled with sleeping wolves. “He’s a… person of… white… descent? He’s an American-American.” I mean, this doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens enough. I find myself doing it a lot more than I’ve done it in the past. I’ve built a locally moderately successful-ish “career” out of standing on stage and telling funny stories about race. But now that I’m engaged to a, um, you know, I get self-conscious about pointing it out.

Sometimes.

Other times I literally cannot wait to log on to Facebook to post about whatever crazy white shit this man did today. Like the other day he was talking about how his skin was really dry because we have radiator heat that our (otherwise wonderful) landlord permanently sets to “brimstone.” I immediately transformed into a very opinionated Mother of the Church. I grabbed his arm, looked at it over the bifocals that suddenly appeared on my face, and clucked. “You should be moisturizing, child,” I declared. “White people need lotion, too!” He looked at me and, in seriousness, this white man said, “Do they?”

Girl. I am still laughing. “Do they?” Honey, what do you think, they made Bath & Bodyworks just for black girls? They don’t make anything just for black girls. Somebody has to be buying all that coconut lime verbena.white people

I ended up buying him a bottle of Aveeno. I considered writing “Whites Only” on it Sharpie but I didn’t because sometimes I offend myself.Im-Shocked-gif

Anyway. David, the white man who lives in my house, was in the bedroom reading for grad school. I came in after a couple of minutes to find him staring a little bewildered at his iPad. Poor thing, I thought. I slid into bed next to him to read over his shoulder. This semester he’s taking sex therapy so I like to entertain myself by veering wildly between being absolutely scandalized by everything and making the same damn Dirty Sanchez joke every time he reads. I have a Ph.D in being an asshole.oprah face

I peered over his shoulder and what prurient analysis did I find? (Heh. Analysis.) This man was on the Pottermore site!

“You getting ready for your Defence Against the Dark Arts midterm?”

He looked at me, bemused, and did not even acknowledge my hilarious and timely pop cultural joke. Instead he sighed and turn the screen to me.

“I took the Pottermore Sorting quiz again because it’s been a few years and they put me in Hufflepuff.”

Girl. Red alert.

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First of all, I love that this wonderful dude takes the Sorting quiz every few years like he’s renewing his passport. Second of all, David, my fiance, is definitely a Gryffindor.

Like, Harry Potter was less of a Gryffindor than David. David is like Hermione Granger if she were a man. And white.tea sip

David is a pastor who works with housing insecure people and the LGBTQ population; he’s an Eagle Scout; he has a multiple crash bags stored around our house in case of emergency, natural disaster, terrorism, or dementor attack. He’s so Gryffindor that when he went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the guy playing Dumbledore was like “Damn, son, I’m getting really intense vibes from you and it’s freaking me out, tbh.”

So, this development with the Pottermore site was, without hyperbole, a disaster. Get the crash bag.

I was of two minds about this, actually. On one hand, I saw that this was seriously shaking the foundation of David’s sense of self. On the other hand, I thought it was hilarious.

I, it should be known, have always been Hufflepuff as fuck. First to the kitchen, last to the battle, please! Sure, I’m pretty type-A and I will get in your face about paint swatches with a quickness, but deep down I’m just trying to lead a happy life. Honestly, I think most of my type-A-ness comes from the fact that a version of my happy life also includes massive multi-platform professional success and enough money to swim in, Scrooge McDuck-style. Also, I listen to the Hamilton soundtrack non-stop and that shit will make you hella assertive in a business meeting. Or subway car. Or anywhere.

Anyway, I laughingly reassured David that he was still the Gryffindor that dressed as Harry and took me to the Harry Potter festival for our fourth date. “Maybe all this work at being a therapist is setting off some Huffle vibes,” I suggested.chestnuthill

He seemed to accept that and hopped off the bed to get a glass of water, but minutes later I found him staring forlornly out the kitchen window like Fantine in Les Mis. Or Cosette in Les Mis. Or anyone in Les Mis. God. Those people are so sad.

Our kitchen window doesn’t even have a view. It faces a brick wall. And it was night time. He was legit despondent over this quiz. And I think I knew why: he’s of the age where Harry Potter was an integral and constant part of his coming-of-age. I’m a little bit older so I boarded the Harry Potter train a little late and saw it mostly as a fun pop culture thing of which to be a part. Sitting in Rittenhouse Square on the day that the Deathly Hallows came out and realizing that everyone else around me was reading it, too, was cool, but so is live-tweeting an episode of Scandal. My relationship with Harry Potter was transactional, or casual, I guess. David’s is emotional. David plus the Order of the Phoenix. Sitting in a tree.

David also has a very different understanding of the world of Harry Potter after having spent some time in Scotland after college. He’s able to speak educatedly about Scottish history, cultural shifts and diversity and the way that manifests itself in the Potter world.

Me, I’m just like, “Uh, McGonagall taught me that not all witches are the devil. So that’s cool.”

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Honestly, like honestly, I did not even know all that stuff about Scotland and Harry Potter. I actually don’t even know it now as evidenced by the fact that I couldn’t even remember enough details to accurately fill that paragraph so I was just like “Eh, they’ll either know what I’m talking about or they won’t.” A pathological aversion to research is one of my better qualities.

Later in the evening, David, still reeling from the Pottermore shock, took to the couch to convalesce. I sat next to him and tried to figure out the best way to appear comforting while still being able to see my phone.

Apropos of nothing, he stared into the middle distance and muttered, “I wonder what the world will be like for our kids.” Oh, Lord, he’s going into the light. I paused the Hamilton soundtrack and turned my attention to him.

“I’m sure they’ll have wonderful lives and I promise to never tell them you once got sorted to Hufflepuff.”

He looked at me perplexed. “I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the future.” He explained that he’d done pre-marital counseling with a couple earlier in the day and asking about their families and cultural traditions had sparked his imagination.

We talked about what values and traditions we’d instill in our kids. For him, it was a love of travel, exploration and Harry Potter. For me it was, “never pay full price, always order dessert, and try not to leave the United States if you can help it.” So, basically these kids are set for life.

David wondered, “suppose we adopt a white kid. By 2020 whites won’t be in the majority. Do you think they’ll have a different understanding of white culture? Will they live in a sort of intersectional moment?”

And then we talked for like an hour about what white culture is without once mentioning a pumpkin spice latte.macklemore

I think white culture is such a fascinating idea, no offense. (Who am I saying no offense to? Rachel Dolezal? I don’t know. No offense anybody.) I have jokingly said for years that I love white people and white things but when you start to take it apart I’m not sure what’s actually there.

This isn’t to say that white people aren’t cultural. Or important. Or, I don’t know. No offense. I said, no offense!

We developed this theory! This is what we do in our house, we sit around and develop theories about race. Cam and Mitchell we’re not.

Anyway, so here’s the thing, if you try to point out things that are inherently white American, you will frequently find yourself naming things that actually are rooted in European countries. This makes sense, many white people’s families are from Europe. But as we get farther and farther from the point of immigration, those cultural hallmarks become more obscured, more ingrained in plain old American culture.

I think this probably feels shitty.

That’s my academic opinion.angry

I think it’s probably hard to look at the black community and black culture–which, itself has been subdividing, mutating, fusing and assimilating for many generations now–and think “It would be nice to have something that is just mine, too.”

And the irony is not lost on me that, ostensibly, everything is for white people. They don’t make all that coconut lime verbena for nothing.

But it’s hard to point at Bath and Bodyworks and say “This is white culture.”coucous

And even if we do we are having more and more, as David put it, intersectional moments. So, more people are being welcomed into the mainstream and it’s widening and changing to accommodate them. And those spaces that used to be tailored only for white people, at first only certain white people and then more and more white people, are now being tailored for a larger pool of people. And if you resist that widening, you get labelled a racist.

And it’s not hard for me to imagine that some people, some people, some white people, are not actually being racists when they wish for a narrower time, when things were made for their experiences or perspectives (or at least the perspectives they’d been conditioned to think were theirs). Instead I imagine that it’s an experience somewhat akin to staring forlornly at the Pottermore site, having been told all their lives that they were Gryffindors and now being told that they’re Hufflepuff. And, to extend the metaphor past its expiration date, not only are you not a Gryffindor, but being a Gryffindor is wrong.

I can imagine that.

No offense.

What I’m saying is that as we, slowly, become a more inclusive, varied country, I think some people who were told that their experience of the world was the “normal American way” are starting to feel unmoored. Because what we’re not saying is that though being an American doesn’t only mean a pickup truck, blonde hair, blue eyes, and two legs that work, that isn’t one of its many meanings. Or maybe we are saying it. Maybe I’m just not hearing it.

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Either way, I’m writing about it. I’ve been writing about it for a while now. My new play, Time Is On Our Side, (which opens in June) is basically two hilarious hours of LGBTQ people wrestling with history, asking “What do we keep and what do we leave behind?” One character, Curtis, is a black man who is estranged from his affluent family. He spends the play struggling to carve out a place that is both steeped in history and yet totally new. “I invented myself!” he declares with a tragic amount of sincerity. Curtis is the opposite of the unmoored white person I’m imagining, but the estrangement is strikingly parallel.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt like that sometimes. Whereas David’s life experience is rife with historical echoes–family heirlooms, stories from the old world–mine is comparatively new. There’s nothing that my family has passed down that is older than a century; most is much newer. We don’t know where we came from prior to America; slave trade erased our roots. But because so much is new, so much had to be rebuilt, I at once feel closer to “my culture” and free to establish new traditions, to pivot and to reassess.

What I love about David and about our place in history is that he is able to grapple with a bit of cultural unmooring without become a Trump acolyte, clinging to the good old days. He’s able to pivot, yes, but he’s also able to reach back in a way that I am not. And when we have children, they’ll be able to see in more depth and complexity than we currently are able to. They’ll see the recent past and the days of yore as equally open to them; they’ll be able to locate themselves culturally as citizens of the world as much as they are progenies of specific countries; they’ll be free, I hope. Freer than any of us is.

And, no matter what race they are they’ll use lotion.

 

7 Things That Happen When All Your Friends Are At The Beach

Bad news from my orthopedic surgeon, guys. He says I have FOMO. It stands for Fear of Missing Out. My orthopedic surgeon has a lot of opinions about my social life. And my left knee. But who the hell cares about being able to walk when everyone is hanging out without you?

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 It’s devastating. You think you’re invincible. “I’m young, I take care of myself,” you say. “I pay my tithe to multiple gymnasia. I get Retweeted on the regular. I keep it 100. It can’t happen to me.” I’m here to tell you that it can! FOMO is no respecter of persons, chile! It’ll get you. I appreciate your support. I’m setting up a GoFundMe but in the meantime you can just PayPal me directly.

 

This is a new epidemic. I’m here to raise awareness (and funds. See: PayPal, above). But if you’re over there suffering in silence, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone. Let’s go through this together.

 

7 Things That Happen When All Your Friends Are At The Beach (And Your Carrie Bradshaw Ass Is Still In The City)

1. Realization

2:30 on the Friday of a 3-day weekend rolls around and you’re all kinds of pumped because your office is closing at 3 and you just figured out how to fix the formula in an Excel spreadsheet. Both are equally exciting to you. All of the sudden, your Facebook feed fills up with pictures of your friends in traffic, wearing jaunty hats, laughing. It’s happened. These bitches took the day off and now…

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THEY’RE GONE.

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1.5. Denial

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Maybe these are just #FBF posts. They’re not really at the beach.

You rush outside. Surely they haven’t all deserted you.

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Me, in real life.

 

kidding me

2. Acceptance

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And by “Acceptance” I mean, “Sitting quietly and flooding the room with negativity.”

3. Reading

You pick up that copy of Gone Girl, you’ve been meaning to finish. I wonder if Ben Affleck really gone’d that girl, you muse, as you peel back the pages–

LOLOL, just kidding. I mean Reading Everyone for Filth.

Your friends start uploading pictures of themselves on the beach…

feelingmyself…and you go to work.

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“My, it’s so brave of you to choose such a skimpy suit…”Im-Shocked-gif

“A photo of everyone jumping on the beach…”

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This meme has a grammatical error and it’s really fucking up my life right now, tbqh.

“Oh, Matthew, brought a ‘friend’…”dowager

 

4. Blogging

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That feels better, right?

…right?

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 5. Reaching Out

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 6. Coping

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coping

7. Just Going to the Fucking Beach

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BONUS: 3 Things That Happen When You Actually Go To The Beach

1.

Ugh-People

2.

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3.

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I used to blog at ijusthaveafewnotes.com so if you want to read more, try there!