Random Miscellany

I’m in the midst of a massive going-through-my-papers, if-I-can’t-die-famous-at-least-I-can-die-without-20-year-old-paystubs PROJECT.

So far, I have shredded 8 pounds of paper, and recycled almost as much, a turn of events as deeply satisfying as anything outside of the realms of sex and chocolate can be.

Today I’ve found several funny things, including:

1. A “Blue Bulletin” from Andover. This was a souvenir of the daily announcements sheet from my high school. My then-boyfriend gave it to me, because my name was on the infirmary list for that day.

Besides the desperate calls for new members of the Physics and Debate Clubs (“New members welcome. Food!”), I liked the announcement for computer classes:

LEARN HOW TO WORD PROCESS ON THE APPLE IIe! Any student who has a major paper due this term and who would like to learn more about the features of AppleWorks is urged to attend. 

Even then, Apple had only a loose understanding of the rules of capitalization.

2. A math test from Senior year in high school. First question:

f(x) = 1/x2, g(x) = 0 , x = 1, x = 4

Apparently, I once understood exactly what this meant.

3. On a 3 x 5 notecard:

But here in New York, we have something we think about as much as romantic love. Which is real estate.”

This whole experience is like a guided tour of my brain from the past 15 years.

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What Men Say / What Men Mean

What men say:

“It’s not because you’re a woman. It’s because you’re too fat / thin. It’s because you’re too analytical / too emotional. It’s because you’re too inexperienced / too old. It’s because you’re not absolutely, 100% perfect. ”

What men mean: 

“It’s because you’re a woman.”

By Sofia Echegaray Posted in Feminism

You Can Only Keep What You Throw Away

A few years ago, I entered into a very difficult period of my life, where everything that could go wrong, did.

I got sick, I got broke, two cars died in rapid succession, I lost friends, everything. I worked harder than I’d ever worked in my life, but it felt like I was only treading water; nothing I did seemed to move me forward, and it was only with tremendous effort that I kept from falling further behind.

One strange thing I noticed during this period was that almost everything I tried to accomplish in the world of stuff just…didn’t work. In addition to the aforementioned car fiascos, my small, modest attempts at making acquisitions backfired a lot. I would unpack a new item from its box, only to see that it was broken and needed to be returned. New clothes often needed to be returned as well. Once, I decided that if I wasn’t going to be able to drive a car, the least I could do was repair my boots. I took two long bus rides to get them repaired — and then the repair ended up being botched.

“I can’t seem to keep anything,” I thought. “All my efforts get undone.”

And that’s when it hit me. What if I throw stuff away? If all of my efforts to acquire stuff got undone, maybe I could finally see some results — and get to “keep” my effort — if I put it towards getting rid of stuff. (Especially paper. Oh Paper, My Crinkly Nemesis.)

So, I tried this new approach, although I admit I was nervous at first. I was so used to having my efforts thwarted that I half-expected whatever I put in the recycle bin to show up on my doorstep the next morning.

But the gone stayed gone. Everything I let go of, stayed let go of. I finally got to keep it.

You can only keep what you throw away.

After a while, I started thinking that this maxim must be true for life, as well.

Every good moment in my life has been good, largely because of what I had cleared away.

Every bad moment in my life has been bad, largely because of what I was still holding onto.

The “clearer” I am, the more happiness and joy I get to keep.

You can only keep what you throw away.

Lessons from Star Trek

Things I have learned from watching Star Trek: The Next Generation:

1. In the future, we will all wear pajamas.

2. People in the future don’t have to go to the bathroom. This is why they can walk around in one-piece bodystockings with no discernible zippers.

3. If you happen upon any Eden-like planets, filled with nubile, willing inhabitants, RUN AWAY.

This is because:

 A) They plan to mate with you, then drain you of your living essence.

B) Things are great there because they kill all the lawbreakers OR they kill everyone over 25 OR there’s some other kind of seedy-underbelly-type-action going on.

C) Surprise! There is no planet with nubile young playthings. It’s all a hallucination created by a malevolent being to distract you while you’re being…drained of your living essence (see A).

By Sofia Echegaray Posted in Funny

And the winner is…

Just found some of my old journals from Harvard. I found a quote of a kid in my choir who was drunk: “I’ve had so much vodka that I don’t mind that this is London Dry instead of Bombay Sapphire.”

Yep. It’s like pretentiousness boot camp.

By Sofia Echegaray Posted in Funny

Advice

I used to see a physical therapist twice a week in midtown Manhattan. This was years ago, when I was living in Brooklyn, and way before Brooklyn was cool.

Anyways, right next door to my physical therapist’s office was a fancy salon, named after the founder, a woman d’un certain age. The salon sold high-dollar youth creams and beauty potions.

One day, I shared the elevator with the founder of this beauty line. She must have been at least 50, but still had incredibly smooth, flawless skin. “You know, you really do have amazing skin,” I said. “What’s your secret?”

She smiled. “Genetics.”

And so she’d made a fortune selling creams and lotions, because her skin was her calling card — even though those products had nothing to do with her beauty.

This brings me back to something I’ve noticed many times: We always take advice from the wrong people.

If we want to lose weight, we’ll ask our skinny friend with the fast metabolism rather than our normal-size friend who actually lost weight.

We also prefer bad advice from charming people over good advice from boring people. We prefer to believe the  beautiful person holding court in the center of the room, and ignore the nerd in the back, who’s adding up the sums accurately and ruffling feathers when he says they’re wrong. This is because we trust advice based on who we want to be, rather than what we want to do.

This leads to all sorts of misperceptions in the world about how people actually got to where they are in life:

Tell me Ms. Jones, how did you become such a successful saleswoman and get those cold call sales?

Answer: “Self-confidence and a great work ethic”

Real Answer: “Model-perfect good looks”

Mr. Smith, you’ve become so very successful at business. To what do you attribute your success?

Answer: “Creativity and thinking outside the box”

Real Answer: “Family money”

People watching these interviews say to themselves, “That’s right! If I want to be a success like her, I just need to be more self-confident!”  Whereas they might get farther with major plastic surgery.**

So basically, as I said, most people have a natural instinct to trust advice based on who we want to be, rather than what we want to do. But, once we know that might be a pitfall, we can be aware of it, and try to compensate for it.

Also, this tendency to follow “winners” — even if they win for the wrong reasons — robs us of great wisdom, because failures often have excellent advice. People who fail multiple times in an undertaking know what doesn’t work – so you don’t have to try it yourself. And, when they do eventually make it past their roadblocks, they can actually tell you what they did, rather than bragging about what they thought they were doing while the universe took care of the rest. Failures often understand the process to success better than someone who’s naturally gifted. But still, we gravitate to the prodigy as the master, and ignore the person in the back, who struggled to learn everything they mastered…and so knows how to teach.

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** And no, I am not advising you to get plastic surgery. You have a great nose, don’t ever let anyone else tell you differently.