No Satisfaction

This article originally appeared in the Portland State Vanguard hereIt has been revised slightly for use on OJ&T.

The young woman with short dyed-blonde hair frowned over her computer. Lisa Dunn was…reading, you might say, but it felt to her more like she was eating Cheetos while watching Real Housewives. She threw her head back and sighed deeply. Her editor had foolishly assigned her a romance novel.

A bad one.

One with too many adverbs.

One that used the word “literally” literally three times.

It was unsatisfyingly called Satisfaction (Brothers Ink, Book One) by Sarah Mayberry. Satisfaction is the tale of Maggie Hendricks, a beautiful unicorn of a woman who doesn’t realize how utterly smart and amazing and hot she is. A woman who is clearly meant to be so bland that anyone who reads the book can pretend they are Maggie.

Maggie, when we meet her, is a 27-year-old bookshop owner who has never orgasmed. Not even on her own! She is resigned to her shameful fate, until one fateful destiny-filled night of fate during book club, her slutty friend Cleo tells her and the other girls over wine and Wolf Hall about a sexcapade she had with a tattoo artist. Cleo winks and giggles her way through a (literally) unbelievable tale of bareback madness with a complete stranger, and Maggie becomes intrigued by her friend’s bravado.

So Maggie comes up with a plan. A plan to achieve orgasm with the tattoo artist Eduardo, a sex-god sent from heaven. Because, she tells herself, if he can’t do it, no one can.

By a stroke of luck, Maggie accidentally gropes the wrong brother and ends up in a strange pact with Eduardo’s even sexier, even more amazing, even richer brother, Rafel. He’s tan with green eyes, narrow hips and abs. He reads pension-planning books at night and has a huge cock.

Rafel can’t quite figure out why he is so incredibly attracted to the reader’s proxy, because by all accounts she’s a wet blanket. But he is. And so he vows to help her overcome her problems.

Satisfaction is one of the highest-selling books on the Kindle store, and my editor is a mean man, so I had to read it.

“I don’t expect you to read the whole thing,” he said.

“It’s just for laughs,” he said.

But of course I finished it. Every last goddamn page of insulting, pseudo-feminist, badly written word porn. How could I not? I finally found a book that used the phrase bone-deep not once or twice but seven times. Hell, Mayberry describes Maggie’s ear as “that small, secret space.” Rafel, at one point, sends “shockwaves of sensation ricocheting through her.”

At one point, Mayberry writes the actual words, “[She] proceeded to tell the book club about it in intimate, very detailed detail.” Not just intimate detail, but detailed detail.

But the bad writing is low-hanging fruit. What I’m really interested in is what the popularity of a book like this means. Maggie owns her own bookstore at only 27 years old. That doesn’t look like the typical romance novel wilting flower who needs to be rescued by pirate Fabio. That’s a woman who is smart and driven.

But below the surface—behind the successful business, the supportive friends, the cutesy little cottage she owns, and the self-proclaimed independence—she’s miserable. As self-possessed as she seems, it’s all just an act. Because she can’t come. In her 27 years on earth, she has, and I quote, “had fun” but she has never actually felt the big earthquake down under. And that makes her otherwise lovely life feel, well, empty. She’s utterly incomplete as a woman if she can’t experience the big O.

She needs a man to do it for her, she says, or she’s doomed. She needs a man, in other words, to be whole. The logic lies somewhere in the idea that she’s gone this long without being able to do it for herself, so she’ll never be able to do it without the help of a hunky sex god’s throbbing peen.

And, thank god, Rafel understands Maggie better than she understands herself. She’s been living with this affliction for years, and yet it takes this dude’s insight for her to break free. From what, you may ask? Oh, you know, just from her brain and stuff. Mayberry writes, “The challenge, [Rafel] decided, was going to be getting Maggie to stop thinking.”

Oh, hunky Brazilian, save me from my burdensome brain, won’t you?

Of course Maggie and Rafel transcend the creepy teasing in order for her to find what she’s looking for. But oh wait, it turns out that it wasn’t an orgasm she was missing. It was love. Duh. I mean, the underlying theme of this book isn’t new by any means. It’s something you see in most romantic comedies and romance novels: the protagonist—usually a harpy career woman—only finds happiness when she finds her mate, most often a rich (or at least a well-to-do) laid back dude who helps her let her hair down, so to speak.

There is something disturbing at work in this book. It’s not just 300-ish pages of poorly-written sex scenes, awkward movement, and adverb abuse. It’s demeaning to women.

In an age where we’re still fighting for fair wages and, hell, bodily autonomy, there’s something unsettling about the idea that a woman’s deepest fantasy is to give into the compulsion to just let the men decide.

But, hey, he does drive a Bentley. Maybe I’m missing something.

The Owl Backpack

Sometimes I suspect, deep down—way, way deep down, for fear of diagnosable narcissism—that I’m in a movie. Because that’s the third time in six weeks I’ve seen that particular owl backpack. The blue one with the red geometric jewel eyes and little ears poking out of the top. All in different neighborhoods, neatly divided among demographics: a drug-addled woman with stooped shoulders out on 72nd, a creepy-cutesy high school girl bouncing along to class.

Finally, long after I forget the backpack, I’m in the middle of an anxiety attack. What am I doing with my life? Am I good enough to be in this program? Am I even a good person? It’s late, and it’s maybe raining, and I’m on campus. And a woman carries a worn-down owl backpack, the same eyes as the others, holding her daughter’s hand as they wander past the street car. It feels like an easter egg of sorts, a wink from the universe to those who pay attention. Like: hey, you, there’s something larger at work and you’re in the thick of it.

But nah. Impossible. Because the idea that I could be the center of a universe, that I’m the protagonist to anyone but my own mind? That’s fucking crazy talk, lady. It’s a fantasy I suspect everyone has, but anyone rarely admits to. Sure, the girl with the selfies and the incessant status updates and the fuckin’ attitude could cop to it, but not me. I read. I go to restaurants alone and write in unlined notebooks. I think about the world. I feel lonely and mean. It’s horrifying to think that I could be the same as that girl.

Or it’s brilliant.

Now, don’t get me wrong: the attitude that the world revolves around you is not something anyone should cultivate by any means. It’s just…my embarrassing selfishness is a way in, so to speak. The idea that there’s something watching you, a universe keeping a finger on your pulse—it’s really just the idea that you matter to someone other than yourself, that maybe you’re not alone in the world. That protagonistic urge is the hope that there’s some kind of connection to others that, even if you can’t see it, is there.

I have wasted so much time trying to figure out ways to mark myself as different, to label myself “unique”—a phrase which makes me cringe because of how utterly dependent it is on external validation—that it’s nice to get these glimpses into everyone’s sameness. I can be so judgmental and wrapped up in my own world: oh, look at her drink her pumpkin spice latte. Look at him wear his flat brim hat. They’re talking about the stupidest things. I forget that beyond those trivial details, we’re all so delicate, so worried about ourselves and the big questions in life.

It’s nothing short of magic that our inner lives are so rich and have so little to do with the images we present to others. The clothes we wear, the music we listen to—those things are such a small piece of the puzzle. That owl backpack came out of nowhere and hit me when I wasn’t ready. I was so consumed by what life could offer me and what about the things that I want and doesn’t anybody fucking care? And then, the owl. That moment of pure selfishness knocked me off my “But me!” pedestal. It reminded me that there’s something bigger than my own wants and needs.

The Luxo ball, Hitchcock on the bus: these easter eggs remind viewers that it’s all make believe, that we’re safe from the harm being done in the universe we’re witnessing, that it’s not real. All of a sudden, the owl backpack put my Möbius strip thought process into context. Those red eyes, carrying through the weeks, were like dew drops on a spider web. There’s something out there connecting everyone and everything. Even if I can’t always see it, it’s there, and I am merely one part.

Being part of something bigger used to scare me—my thoughts and fears, my hopes are not special or unique in any way. It felt like a threat to my existence. But if one piece of the web feels the clawing emptiness, another part must as well. It fortifies. It comforts. We are not alone. It’s easier to reach across the divide and connect with other people.

As I step outside of myself, I also find myself settling into my writing, which, funnily enough, requires me to to think in terms of what about me? in order to understand what about us and it and them and all. I’m becoming more comfortable with myself as a writer because I’m not so desperate to mark myself as the only one to have these desires. I used to feel threatened by other writers—they’re decreasing my chances, lowering my bottom line, encroaching on my territory. I thought I had to be the only one who felt this way in order for my feelings to matter. In order to do what I do.

Screw that. I’m a dime a dozen. There are many people out there as talented as me. More so. Many people who feel the same ache that I do, this existential inability to do anything else and still be happy. And that’s fucking beautiful. The great writers in my program are not my competitors. They are my colleagues, my cohorts—the ones who understand this need to write.

Those people I judge based on the shallowest of factors—they feel what I feel. I feel what they feel. They live in their own movies just trying to fill something. I am not always “I.” I am sometimes “her,” passerby, villain, concept, plot device for someone else to find what he is looking for. It’s crazy. It’s beautiful. Sometimes it makes no sense to my tiny brain that other people feel what I feel. But I can look at them and know that they know.

Being human can be so isolating.

But it doesn’t have to be. Just look for the owl backpack.

To Do List

1. Go grocery shopping.

Problem: Living on rice, canned soup, and roommate’s forgotten leftovers. Starting to feel slightly grimy and light-headed. Pants too tight.

Goal: Eat fresh vegetables, avoid scurvy.

Solution: Overcome avoidant personality and face new life as adult who has to do things for herself. Drive to grocery store, don’t have panic attack in the cereal aisle.

2. Clean room.

Problem: Cannot find shoes or roommate’s cat.

Goal: Walk from door to bed without stepping on something.

Solution: ???

3. Work on handwriting.

Problem: Chicken scratch, often mistaken for gobbledygook.

Goal: Legibility, respect from my coworkers.

Solution: Take calligraphy lessons. Watch more period piece movies. Invoke Harry Potter.

4. Plant a vegetable garden.

Problem: See: grocery shopping problem.

Goal: Grow food in own backyard in order to avoid people, remain safely cloistered in own space.

Solution: Buy seeds and rake, get jazzed, forget about seeds and rake, make roommate do it.

5. Be less of a self-righteous asshole.

Problem: Condescending attitude, keep losing friends.

Goal: Be less of a dick. Realize that I don’t know everything.

Solution: Read more to develop empathy. Or maybe read less, because it makes me think I’m better than everyone. Or maybe read the same amount and just think before speaking.


I don’t know where to start, so I’ll just say it. I hate what Orange Juice and Toothpaste has become. Or rather, I hate what I made it—what it’s been from the beginning.

In 2012, when I first thought about starting a blog, I was honestly quite nervous. I mean, I had been out of school for two years. I was working a dead-end job. I was in an unhealthy, unsupportive relationship. I almost never read or wrote anymore—in any form. But I felt this sort of desperation: if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.

I had to start writing again. And I wanted to do it in a public manner, so I could create some sort of accountability, an obligation—to others—to write consistently. It would, I figured, be a great way to get used to the idea of publishing my writing. Maybe I would even make a few connections, get a little following. A writing job here or there. Maybe someone would see my website or my Twitter and say, “Wow, that girl is talented. Get her a freelancing position at Pretentious Magazine, and stat!” My imagination went wild with possibility.

I didn’t know where to start: who would read it, what it should be. That question itself—what kind of writing do I want to do—seems, in hindsight, laughable. That I even had to think about what my voice would sound like, I think, says it all. I was already over-thinking what other people would want, not what I wanted. Every successful website out there had some kind of unifying theme—cooking, parenting, crafting, humor. Movies, pop culture, politics.

“You need a brand,” my friend told me. She gets paid to brand websites, run their social media accounts, write SEO-rich content. I figured she knew better than I did.

But even the word “content” seems, to me, to miss the point. I’m not writing content to fill a website. At least, that’s not what I wanted to do. I write because I have to. Because there’s something in me that, if I don’t get it down, in some form or another, will rot and make me, in turn, rotten.

Though I hesitated, it still seemed like a win-win. I write content that other people (theoretically) want to read; I gain an audience in turn. I provide, you consume.

It’s not a popular blog, though. Not even marginally. I don’t post very often, and when I do, it’s out of a sense of obligation or impending doom, not because I want to. OJ and Toothpaste, to be frank, isn’t me. It’s snarky, flirting with downright mean, and try-hard-y. It’s the mean, insecure middle schooler inside me, worried about what other people are going to think about me. Except, instead of writing Good Charlotte fanfiction (seriously), I’m writing about shitty movies I couldn’t care less about or bumper stickers that, in reality, I hardly notice.

It was never supposed to be about getting a certain amount of followers or writing about a certain sector of pop culture or society or whatever. I don’t know why I painted myself into a corner, but I’m not doing it anymore.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m done trying to brand myself, trying to give myself a certain voice. I don’t know where this is going—if it’s even going anywhere—but I’m not Snarky Lisa or Funny Lisa or Let’s Talk About the Issues Lisa. I’m just Lisa.  And this is the new Orange Juice and Toothpaste.

She’s Just Being Miley

I’m not going to lie: ever since the cruel, faceless overlords took SpongeBob SquarePants off of Netflix Instant, I’ve been struggling to find reasons to get out of bed in the morning. What’s the point? I can’t cook dinner while listening to SpongeBob ask, “Art thou feeling it now, Mr. Krabs?” I can’t skip class and watch my favorite fry cook teach a little piece of floating algae about fun.

Trying to fill a SpongeBob-shaped void is a lot harder than I thought it would be. He is irreplaceable. So instead, I decided to watch the most awesomely bad shit that Netflix Instant has to offer. Some shows and movies are so bad that they make you feel better about yourself. You get to sit there in the same clothes you wore yesterday, mustard stain on your shirt, and say, “Well, at least I’m not that person.”

But there’s a bell curve: an optimal level of badness that makes something funny. And sometimes, a movie crosses the line from bad-funny to bad-offensive. That movie is 2012’s LOL with Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore.

LOLmovie poster


The movie’s tag-line warns us: “You can change your status, but not your heart.” Okay, I get it. Love is difficult to navigate as a teenager, especially in the social media era. I can dig it. So I grabbed a bowl of ice cream and some potato chips, and I settled in for 90 minutes of mindless fun. God, I wish I had watched Pretty Little Liars instead.

The movie opens with a nauseating bitch-slap to the rule of thirds: a schizophrenic, wide panning shot of Wrigley High School. An elevated train, a giant shiny bean, and big buildings. I wonder, briefly, if they think I’m stupid. I fucking know where we are. I travel. Jesus. The clumsy exposition does not bode well for what clearly should be a masterpiece of subtlety.

chicago bean

Deep-dish pizza is a Seattle thing, right? (Source.)

After we establish setting, we meet Miley’s character, Lola. She wears ripped tights and oversized flannel shirts because she’s laid-back. If the flannel wasn’t enough of a tip-off, she tells us that she’s “just goin’ with the flow. Trying to love, live, and laugh out loud. Which is nice, cause [her] name is Lola, but everyone calls [her] ‘Lol.’” I briefly wonder if anyone taught the writer to show, not tell.

Her friends are Something 1 (Blonde) and Something 2 (Brunette), whose names fly away from me as soon as they’re out of Lola’s mouth. She also has a boyfriend named Chad. I’m supposed to believe that they didn’t talk all summer long even though they’re totally in love and her phone is surgically attached to her hand. He casually tells her that he hooked up with someone else over the summer. She runs off to the bathroom so she can scribble over the sharpied testament to their love: <3Chad + Lola 4ever<3. (Not anymore, apparently.)

This is where we conveniently meet Chad’s best bro Kyle, or, as I like to call him, Cheekbones Guitarman. Lola tells us that he’s her best friend even though I thought Blonde Something and Brunette Something were her best friends. He reminds me of those creepy “We love the moon” creatures, spongmonkeys. But his cheekbones could cut glass, and he’s sensitive. His businessman father doesn’t understand him or his music. So, you know, he’s perfect.

quiznos creepy animals2

Dreamboat alert. (Source.)

This movie is confusing. Like, really confusing. There’s a Battle of the Bands plot for Cheekbones’s band, No Shampoo. (Yes, that is really the name of his band.) Cheekbones sings a song about always having loved a certain lady friend. It goes like this: Something something, I won’t let you go now that you’re mine, something something, strum the guitar, something. He gives Lola the spongmonkey eye, which I think is a good thing.

Meanwhile her freshly-divorced mom, Demi Moore, whose character’s name I can’t recall, has a meet-cute with a cop. Demi meets Dreamy McCopButt when she breaks her high heel at the courthouse. He’s all, “You’re not gonna find a cab at this time of day. I’m a safe driver, trust me.” So she accepts a ride on the back of his motorcycle. Hello, stranger danger? But what am I even saying? Infantilization is so totally hot. She melts for him, as do we all.

And then, when Demi is gabbing with her friends, this conversation happens:

female sexuality LOLmovie

LOL, women r ridiculous. Just lay back and think of England, mmkay?

So, Lola and Cheekbones get to know each other in a movie montage—even though they’re supposed to be best friends?—and it’s adorable. They visit the shiny bean, share a lollipop, and run the wrong way down an escalator. Lola writes in her journal, “I can’t love him, but I do. I feel so real with him.” As you can see from her Moleskine journal and her forbidden feelings, she’s deep, y’all.

Oh man, this is boring. Anyways, Facebook era and all. It’s complicated. She thinks Cheekbones and some “skank” she lovingly calls Post-It fucked in the bathroom. Post-It, who “sticks to everything,” is a skanky skank who is a skank because she’s a skank. You wouldn’t understand. Anyways, instead of talking to him about it, she storms off. For a while, she goes from “Fuck you” to “Okay, see you in an hour” back to “Never talk to me again.” This is, admittedly, the most realistic part of the movie.

miley cyrus LOL upset

Philosophizing and junk.

Blah blah. Demi goes on a date with Dreamy McCopButt where she says something along the lines of, “I used to be all for women having the same rights and sexual liberation, but with my little girl, I just don’t know.” Then she asks a man who has no children for advice on raising her children. He says, “I think you think too much.” She responds by sucking on his face. He’s a panty-dropper, that one.

Lola and Cheekbones get back together on their way to Paris for a school trip. (Yeah, that happens.) Anyways, when she gets back, her mom asks her how her trip was. She says, “It was cool.” You’re not going to tell her about the things you saw or the house you stayed in or anything? The Eiffel Tower or the food? No? Okay… Um, also, Cheekbones breaks up with Lola again over Facebook Chat, citing bad timing and Chad and stuff. Then, almost immediately, it’s back on. Cheekbones says, “Ur my girl.” To which she responds with a smiley face. God, it’s romantic.

Blah blah, there’s a fight between Lola and her mom, which results in Wisecracking Grandma saying, I shit you not, “This house needs a man.” Run and tell that, Granny. What else? Cheekbones wins Battle of the Bands in front of his mean businessman dad, effectively melting his icy, business-y heart. Lola and Cheekbones walk off together into the sunset. Or something. It’s happily ever after for the spoiled brats. In the end, Lola learns something important: “You can pretend to be anyone you want, but when it comes to love—I mean real love—just be yourself.” Cue vomit.

My problem with this movie isn’t that it’s mindless or even that it’s poorly-written garbage. Sometimes there’s nothing better than just zoning out in front of something you don’t have to think about. My problem is that it markets itself as a movie for independent young women—Miley’s character being a sort of trailblazing young teen just trying to figure it all out. And yet, it fails the Bechdel test, a manner of testing the realism of female characters in books and movies, so hard.

bechdel test

LIPSTICK!EYE SHADOW!SKIRTS! (Also, check out Alison Bechdel’s website, Dykes to Watch Out For.)

Lola’s friends technically have names, but they escape me. Not that their names matter. I mean, they’re not real people nor do they have personalities; they’re just there to thrust Lola towards her hunky destiny. Save for a montage in which they play dress up in Paris, there’s no, for lack of a better word, substance to these relationships.

She doesn’t have a single conversation with Blonde Something or Brunette Something that doesn’t eventually turn into a conversation about her boy troubles. Oh, wait, that’s a lie. She and Blondie have a brief exchange in Paris about a phone adapter. Oh, but technically it turns into a conversation about Cheekbones. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

Chad and Cheekbones are supposed to be peripheral to Lola, part of her story, yet, while they get to exist outside of the relationship bubble, she doesn’t. They have several conversations about their musical aspirations. But Lola? Even though she’s the title character, she has zero personality outside of tEh bOizzz. She can’t even tell her mom about her visit to a foreign fucking country because it isn’t a conversation about Cheekbones or Chad or her dad or Dreamy McCopButt.

Her mom, to boot, functions as this kind of straw-man feminist. She constantly makes snide remarks about equality, but in a manner that’s supposed to make you disagree with her. She nods along to Random Husband’s astute observations on female sexuality. She’s childish when it comes to her relationship with her ex-husband, getting mad at him for “screwing random sluts” even though she’s dating/screwing Dreamy McCopButt. She even asks Wisecracking Grandma why everything has to be about dating and men—while talking about dating and men. She cannot support her own opinions because they’re unsupportable.

Dude, I know I’m probably expecting too much out of a movie featuring Miley fucking Cyrus, but that’s kind of my point. Well-rounded female characters shouldn’t be groundbreaking or unexpected or Academy Award material. It’s weird to say, but women are people too. With, like, hopes and dreams and interests and stuff. I guess I’m just mad because I’m on my period, but I doubt Miley Cyrus only thinks about Thor’s little brother, that Hunger Games guy. (That’s a thing still, right? Those two?) She probably also thinks about how much hair bleach burns and, like, music or whatever. And, let’s be honest: teenage girls aren’t going to watch The Hours until they get to their hairy armpit phase in college.

So, for the love of god, let’s put a bit more effort into this shit, okay? Show girls that there’s more to life than boys? All I ask is for one conversation per movie—just one—that’s not about dating or boys. I will even take a conversation about the benefits and drawbacks to nail polish, just as long as I don’t hear, “Well, my boyfriend hates when I paint my nails.” Please? I’m trying to impress a guy in my History of Women class.

Case of the Mondays

Today is the first day I woke up before 10 AM in about six months. As someone who is about to turn 24, I am fully aware of how sad this is. But, you know, hashtag YOLO and stuff.  I had to do some work for school, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it this weekend, so this morning I had no choice but to crawl out of bed like Samara crawls out of the well in The Ring.

As I intermittently chugged coffee, slapped myself in the face, and ADD-ed my way back to Reddit, I told myself that, you know man, it’s just Monday. Of course it’s hard to concentrate. That, however, is bullshit. How do I know? Because, when I tried to sit down and get my work out of the way on Friday, I told myself that, you know man, it’s Friday. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I don’t know how to adult. In celebration of my arrested development, here is a scientific study on how people avoid work based on what part of the week it is.

excuses ojt

Haikus for Stand-Up Comedians

I’ve been in a funk lately. It’s nothing serious. I still shower and see the light of day. But instead of writing, I’ve been doodling idly in my notebook, making up fast food puns, and writing haikus. The 5-7-5 structure of the haiku is, apparently, the only thing my brain can handle right now, outside of Netflix. I’ve been drooling and staring into space a lot this summer. But, hey, on the bright side, I wrote some fucking haikus! And they’re for some god damn stand-up comedians.

I love stand-up comedy. I think that the really good comedians are, essentially, philosophers who just happen to use a different medium. It took guts for Reggie Watts to question the objectification of women in “Fuck Shit Stack” or for Jerry Seinfeld to ask what was up with airline food. In all seriousness, I’m going to try to pull myself together. In the mean time, read these damn haikus, the likes of which you probably haven’t seen since grade school.

Reggie Watts

Beat-boxing afro.

Cut to the heart of things, man.

Fuck shit while smiling.


Jim Gaffigan

Elton John’s offspring.

Bring on more of that cake, please.

A cute polar bear.


H. Jon Benjamin

A living cartoon.

Dry as McGurk; angry Bob.

Small man but tall voice.


Robin Williams

Genie, you crazy.

Do a line, talk about God,

Like a wind-up toy.


Maria Bamford

An anxious screeching,

Wide-eyed stare, intensity.

Crazy pug lady.


Joe Rogan

Mold on the sandwich:

Worlds within worlds within worlds.

It’s microcosmic.


Dane Cook

Your job: stealing jokes.

Louis did it better, dude.

Yell about blow jobs.

Today’s Weather

ojt balls


I don’t have much else to say, because I’m starting to melt into a puddle.

A Guide to Drunk Talk

The other night, I went to happy hour with a friend and some of her coworkers. While I am usually quite content getting drunk with strangers, I met them when they were three hours deep into what was supposed to be a one drink gathering. So, instead of trying to catch up to them, I just sat and listened.

As I am usually one of them, I never noticed before, but, my god, drunk people are idiots. They speak their own impenetrable language that one can only understand when also hammered. And yet, again, as I am usually one of those drunken idiots, I had the pleasure of accessing their collective headspace without getting the spins.

While I watched them scream for more shots of bottom shelf tequila and attempt to work the photo booth, I thought of something.  You know the phrase, “A drunk person’s words are a sober person’s thoughts”? Well, it’s total crap. Drunk people are just as prone to tell lies as sober people. In fact, they have their own language of doublespeak.

Sure, there’s the occasional “I’ve been in love with you ever since our Psychology of Women class” confession, emboldened by Goldschlager. But, on the whole, drunks are like children. They’re little liars. They think they’re being sneaky, but they’re stupidly obvious, and only other children fall for their shit.

There are a few key phrases that’ll tip you off to whether it’s a sloppy, drunken confession or just another pile of horseshit covered in vodka.

“I’m sorry but…”

What I’m about to say will offend you. I don’t have the guts to say it without a few beers in my belly, so I’ll offer you a buffer apology. I’m not sorry at all. My opinion is uninformed, but unmovable.

“I’m so down.”

We are very drunk and planning things that we will never uphold, such as a book club or a promise to join an intramural soccer team. Related to the phrase, “We should totally…”

“Oh my god, I love that!”

I have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about. Hopefully you won’t ask me any specific questions, and I can get away with nodding my head enthusiastically.

“This is my song. AHHHH!”

I heard this on the radio today! I’m not that old! I AM STILL RELEVANT. What’s a Macklemore?


I really, really fucking hate you, but all of my other friends like you. I’m just going to pretend to like you until everyone gets sick of you.

“I know I don’t say it enough, but I fuckin’ love you man. You’re my best friend.”

Not to be confused with the “Besties!!!” invocation. A genuine outpouring of emotion for someone you truly love. Usually comes pre-vomit or during an ebb in projectile vomiting.

“Who wants tacos?”

I am trying to fill an emotional void with sex, but I keep striking out. I will throw up on the side of a building tonight.

Now, if you’re like me, these opportunities will be few and far between. Mostly because you’ll be the one throwing up outside of a Panda Express and screaming at a broken pinball machine. At any rate, I strongly suggest that you print out this article as a guide to navigating drunk talk and offer to be DD tonight. It’s kind of fun listening to your friends try to come up with a good name for their ill-fated Dungeons and Dragons guild.

Harry Potter Ruined My Life

When I was eight, I was really good friends with the school librarian. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I was that kid. I had just started wearing glasses; I had also recently quit soccer and, as a result, I was growing a nice little pot belly; and, though this was the age everyone was supposed to like everyone, I was annoying as fuck. Sure, I had my friends, but I was a bossy bitch. (Haha“was.”) So the librarian and I? Best friends.

It had its benefits, though. Sometimes I would ask to go to the bathroom and just visit her instead, and I wouldn’t get into trouble. Because, I mean, hey, who’s gonna punish a kid for wanting to sneak away to the library? I also got first pick of all the new arrivals. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had just been published, and I remember so distinctly sitting in a circle on the floor during reading hour.

“Do any of you know what Harry Potter is?” she asked us. In my head, I was all, Dafuq is that? Several hands shot up in the air, though, and I became intrigued.

“Well,” she continued, “I just received the second book in the series. Who here would like to read it first?”

Again, hands shot up into the air. I raised mine out of a sense of competition. There must have been at least four hands in the air before mine, and yet she said: “Lisa. I saw yours first. You take it.” Everyone else groaned. One girl flipped me off with her stubby, glitter-nail-polished hands.

You could see the smug emanating off of me in big, cartoonish stink lines. And yet, I hadn’t even read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at that point. That’s right. I was such an asshole that I deprived my fellow classmates who had read the first book in the series of the privilege of being the first kid in the class to read Chamber of Secrets.

But, I mean, fuck them, right? I got to keep the book for two whole weeks, and I was a fast reader. I had time. So I went to the public library, borrowed Sorcerer’s Stone and read that first. Boy howdy, I will never forget the heroin-like euphoria of reading that book. I became consumed by it.

At bedtime, I would sleepily wish my dear mother good night. As soon as I heard her descend the stairs, I would take my table lamp and hide under the covers, giddy to find out what the hell Fluffy was guarding and, eventually, how Moaning Myrtle died.

So, yes, this love story started out of my natural tendency to be a complete and total asshole, but it is a love story nonetheless. And yet, the universe has a way of giving people what is due to them. What do I mean? Oh nothing, except for the fact that HARRY POTTER HAS RUINED MY FUCKING LIFE.

You might think that I am exaggerating, but I assure you that I am not. Let me break it down for you.

The Sorting Hat Debacle

I have never been an organized person. When I was child, cleaning my room meant digging a path from the door to the bed and arranging my stuffed animals in size order. Yet, as I have gotten older, I have attempted to, at the very least, keep my mess to the kitchen and my desk. Meaning that my clean clothes go in the closet and the dirty ones in the hamper.

I recently invented a game, however, that I like to call the Sorting Hat. Theoretically, when I wash my clothes, they should go from the hamper to the hanger. Instead, I like to pick whatever pants are closest to me and rummage through the hamper to pick my top. In my head it goes a little something like this:

What to wear, what to wear?

Not the yellow sweater. Not the yellow sweater.

Not the yellow sweater, you say? You could look great, you know, and the yellow sweater would help you on the way to greatness. No? Are you sure? Well then, better be—THE BLACK T-SHIRT!

And, you know, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. This game has led me to lose my work shoes five minutes before I should be, technically speaking, walking through the door. (Why, yes, I am going to get fired!) Frequently, I find it difficult to locate matching socks and end up looking like an idiot wearing one fuzzy blue sock and one UnderArmor running sock—though no one ever wants to sit next to me on the bus, so I guess it does have its benefits.

The worst of it, though, is a genuine occupational hazard living in my apartment. Because I simply must play this game, my dirty clothes find their way onto my floor. One morning, I got up to go to the bathroom and slipped on a pair of jeans that should have gone into the hamper. I slid, cartoon-like, across the hardwood floor, and slammed my face into the wall. When I came to a few minutes later, I couldn’t remember my dog’s name or how old I was.

Sure, sure, keep telling me that I “don’t have to” play this game. Whatever. You try playing Sorting Hat just once. I dare you.

My poor, embarrassing education.

Growing up, I was never very invested in school. I mean, I tried with all my might to integrate my interests into my education, but that generally meant reading and daydreaming while the older generation tried to mold my young mind.

My teachers grew an intense dislike for me and, as a result, I almost had to repeat the eighth grade. What, you may ask, does this have to do with Harry and his friends? Well, much to my eighth grade teachers’ chagrin, I had decided to re-read the Harry Potter series in class.

I mean, my teachers already didn’t like me, but Harry was the tipping point. My chemistry teacher pulled me aside one day and told me that if I didn’t get my act together, I was going to fail. For the rest of the year, I had to write about modern scientific advances and how they would blah blah blah. For my first paper, I decided to write about the real-world (read: muggle) implications of a real invisibility cloak.

“Lisa,” she said. “I’m willing to deal with your inability to understand chemistry, but this is the last straw. No more Harry Potter. I will tell your parents.” And tell them she did. They intervened right before I handed in a paper on whether or not flying broomsticks were physically possible, but man, that was a close one.

Whoever said your imagination can take you anywhere did not attend middle school in New Jersey.

Socialization is hard.

I find it difficult to make friends with intelligent people who do not enjoy or have not otherwise read Harry Potter. Why? Well, when talking about the origin of words—which happens more often than you would think with graduate students—I often credit Harry Potter for my vast knowledge of Latinate words. I mean, sure I took four years of Latin in high school, but let’s be honest. I didn’t learn that lumen is Latin for light from an overweight woman who was more interested in high school gossip than spreading knowledge.  I learned it from JK Rowling.

I also have a really bad habit when it comes to the word “haggard.” A while ago, as a joke, I trained myself to say “Hagrid” instead of “haggard” should the time ever come that I was lucky enough to use that word in every day conversation. Again, if you’re not a fan of Harry Potter, instead of thinking, “What a cheeky lady!” you think to yourself: “What an idiot!”

Surprisingly, most people do not find these to be endearing qualities. In fact, I have ruined many a potential friendship by throwing Harry’s name into the ring, because he is as credible an academic source as Wikipedia. (Which, by the way, is also misunderstood, much like a well-meaning stepchild.)

As a result, I spend my days sitting under the staircase in my apartment building, mumbling about lost letters and secret worlds. I expect that my eviction notice will arrive any day now. Hopefully it won’t come to me in the form of a Howler. I do, after all, have sensitive ears.