Question for the Hive Mind regarding Paris

I would like to spend a couple romantic days in Paris with my wife in July. How does one go about finding an appropriate hotel there? What should one see and do while in the city? How does one avoid freaking out re: pickpockets (my personal travel phobia on any trip anywhere)?

A note to my 16-year-old self

Do everything exactly as I did, changing absolutely nothing, because if you change anything, even the smallest detail, it will ripple through the space-time continuum and – like an Amazonian butterfly wingflap causing a hurricane on the other side of the world (yes, you heard me right, there will be a period of time in your future when people say idiotic bullshit things like that) – possibly change something, and you don’t want to change anything, believe me. You don’t want to change the house you live in, the beautiful woman you are married to, or your children, who are funny, beautiful and brilliant and love you as much as you love them, if you can imagine such a thing, and you love them perhaps imperfectly, but absolutely. Change nothing at all. You will suffer, but less than many people, and you will witness intense beauty both great and small, and you will be very happy, for the most part.

Now, if you can be absolutely sure that you can change a few things at your age without fucking things up for me, here are a few small tips:

  • Stop worrying about the size of your johnson*, it’s perfectly fine, and anyway it’s not the size that matters, it’s how much of the housework you do.
  • Soon you will be seventeen. In that year, punk music will happen, and you will go to Europe, and kiss a pretty girl, and grow a beard. Seriously, it will be a great year.
  • However, when a drunk guy driving a van cuts you off on the freeway near 78th St., please slam on your brakes instead of swerving, because if you swerve you will hit a car and it will be your fault. No one will be hurt, but it will suck nevertheless.
  • Isn’t “swerve” the coolest word?
  • Take better care of your lower back. Running, swimming and working out with weights all help.
  • Coincidentally, they also help with depression. Perhaps seek therapy for this as well, if more exercise doesn’t do it, it will improve the quality of your life considerably. Melancholy is fine, but depression is a waste of your life.
  • Begin taking electric bass lessons immediately, if you get good you are practically certain of finding a spot in a band. Cello also. It is a beautiful instrument and you will sound better when you are older.
  • Before doing anything, ask yourself a question: Is this stupid? If the answer is yes, and you still do it, and it really was stupid, learn from it and don’t do it again.
  • Also ask yourself: Will doing this hurt someone more than if I don’t do it? If it will, don’t do it. In general, try to pay closer attention to other people’s feelings and don’t hurt them, you will regret it all your life if you do.
  • However: learn the difference between wisdom and fear, and grant the former a larger role in your life, and the latter a smaller role.
  • Your dad: talk to him, watch him more closely, listen to him. He loves you deeply, he is just giving you space and giving you a choice. He is letting you make your own mistakes. He has some good advice, try to get as much of it as you can. If you can, make friends with him, because you will miss him sorely when he dies.
  • Be friendlier to people, and kinder, and do not fear them
  • Study writing if that’s what you want to do. Don’t waste your time studying economics, you’ll forget everything after graduation anyway. Study more languages, you have an aptitude at your age.
  • Buy Microsoft stock, as much as you can. Keep buying it until Google stock becomes available, then sell all your Microsoft stock and buy Google, then sell that in like 2008 or something.

*my apologies to people named Johnson, it’s just my favorite word for wang**.

**my apologies to people named Wang***

***also people named Dick, and Pecker, and so on

How to write a killer blog post

I can’t read anything lately. Fiction sucks, blog posts* suck, self-help sucks, self-help blog posts suck most of all. Poetry is still okay, and maybe essays, haven’t read any of the latter lately. Soon, maybe, I’ll look for an essay on “How to get a Christmas tree out of your house without getting needles on everything or the kittens escaping.”

I have been stumbling across the occasional self-help blog post, and it is this scourge I’d like to address here. I missed the Web 2.0 make money with your blog memo, but there seem to be tons of people who didn’t, and there are all these new blogs out about how to do things.

This is caused, I guess, by the “find your niche” thing. Be an expert on something, and they will come.

Do those guys who do this really make money?

This, too, will pass, I guess. The nabobs will be all nattered out eventually. Because, eventually, it all boils down to getting into your car, and chasing Buddha down the road.

It’s not called self-help for nothing.

I read this article on How to be Independent yesterday. I read it by accident, I wasn’t googling “please tell me how to be independent” or anything.

It boiled down to popping a cap in Buddha’s ass. Pack your own lunch, stuff like that.

That’s my New Year’s resolution right there. Be less of a jerk. Pack my own lunch. This Car Does Not Break For Buddhas bumper sticker.

You should see the bumper stickers on Beta’s car. I drove it to work once when my car was in the shop and my co-workers now think I’m a maniac.

Here is my advice to all of you new bloggers who want to write killer blog posts: learn to play backgammon, and do that instead. Fuck. No one cares what you have to say. Some of us have been doing this for ten years now, or more, and we are much better at it, and no one cares what we have to say either.

Do some push-ups and sit-ups instead, and cut down on the refined carbohydrates.

Learn to play a musical instrument.

Fuck, I don’t know.

Why do you want to write a killer blog post, anyway? Who cares about blog posts? Blog posts are stupid.

Also: write something every day, to something-something with all those people who subscribe to your DNA feed or whatever it’s called.

Be independent, basically.

By “independent,” I mean “you”.

There are days you will be cranky and of the view that blogging is stupid: write a post about that! Maybe it will make you famous or something, and Amanda Palmer will play you a Radiohead song on her ukulele in her underwear.

Remember that less is more. Write, then cut everything out again. After ten years at this, it is easier. So keep it up, too.

Also, get a muse. I have several. Gamma was giving me good advice the other night. I was telling her a bedtime story about the Mayan prediction that the world will come to an end in 2012, and she said, “see, that’s the difference between the stories you write down and the stories you tell me,” (she finds the latter superior to the former). (In the story I was telling her, a little girl had heard a strange noise and was searching her darkened house.) “You would just write, ‘she looked everywhere,’ but when you tell me the story, you say, ‘she looked in that room, and then she looked in the other room, and then she went around the corner and looked in the next room, behind the cabinets…’ and so on. And I like that better.” So, remember to include lots of details and don’t cut out too much.

Also, give away free e-books for some reason.

And have contests!**

*except yours

** that reminds me, Valentine’s Day looms, doesn’t it.