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MORE secrets from The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual



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dumpFace it, it’s no fun, and we’ve all been there… unless you’re one of those who’s married your elementary school sweetheart and have no experience whatsoever with the words:

“It’s not you, it’s me…”

…which everyone (except you) knows actually mean: “It’s not you, I’m an asshole.”

There are a zillion different scenarios, which I won’t delve into here. For instance, the kind where you see it coming: he’s phoning less and less. Your stomach lurches every time you look at your cell phone and notice all the little green arrows. Huh. Every time you see his number, YOU called HIM.

Bad. Bad sign.

SO…. you start getting a little pissier each time you DO talk. HE doesn’t want to call someone who’s always pissy. Would you? Things spiral downhill from there… yet somehow… when the big fat DUMP comes…

Surprise! (was it me? what did I do? why doesn’t he want to have babies with me? wait – I don’t WANT babies. wait – was it me – wait. WHAT?) All you say, however, is just a quiet, emotionless: “Okay.” Sometimes your back stiffens and you get a little formal, and you might give him two whole words: “That’s fine.” 

The big fat LURCH in your stomach comes up– and sometimes, later, even the contents of your stomach itself.

The point is, he or she doesn’t want you anymore, despite all your brilliant qualities, your sparkling conversation, your cool emoticons, nifty predictive texting, and the Brainbone Awards gleaming on your Facebook Page.

So you’ve eaten three and a half Ben & Jerry’s Rainforest Crunch tubs. And the Family Size Bag of Fun-Size Snickers. And the loaf of toast, with Thousand Island dressing dipping sauce, when everything else was gone.

You’ve called in sick, so you could surf the Web all day. You’re struggling to resist e-mailing him, and as you’re trying to distract yourself, you find yourself on WikiHow.com, seeing if you can teach yourself how to pull off a Denial of Service Attack Hack on his web site, or if you would get caught if you learned how to program a Trojan Virus that would wipe him out of existence, or at least write your name over and over on his screensaver.

But you know, from the Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual that you were handed in the cigarette-smoke filled bathrooms in school that you will not do any of these things.

It’s okay to fantasize epic revenge, of course. In fact, now’s as good a time as any: Here, I’ll help you: 

Go ahead, you can’t be judged by your thoughts, only by your actions; let’s get it out of your system, and then you’ll be free. C’mon, you can do it. You know you want to. Yeah, see? I see you smiling. 

You see him, don’t you? Old, and alone. Your picture, clasped in his bony, fragile hand, his other hand, trembling and thin, raised to his sobbing, thickly creased face. Your young, beautiful face is partially obscured by his many past tears, it is obvious. The room he is in is dark and cold, and an old, tattered blanket rests across his wheelchair. You can just barely hear his voice call your name, in a throaty voice profound with regret – then you hear the nurses behind him, whispering more loudly amongst themselves: “Poor bastard. He’s been like this for years. All he’ll ever say is her name.”

There, now. Don’t you feel better? Now, get over yourself.

NOW:

You WILL:

Stoically behave as if you do not care; it’s not as if anyone can actually HURT a superwoman such as yourself.

You WILL:

Casually toss your hair back, as if moving onto the next dance partner at the waltz, your crinoline waving around you in a graceful cloud.

You WILL:

Gently (so as not to further damage the delicate skin under your eyes) clear those dark smudgy puddles of mascara and tears, and max out your cards at the Esteé Lauder counter so you will look even MORE fabulous. You are allowed to get your eyebrows waxed, perhaps a mani-pedi, but you are NOT allowed for the next four to six months to cut your hair. You are WAY too vulnerable.

You WILL:

Embrace “THE CONCEPTS.”

  1. There are plenty of fish in the sea.
  2. He doesn’t deserve me.
  3. I was too good for him.

You will NOT:

Wander aimlessly through the 7-11, absently muttering “ASShole,” loudly enough to offend innocent passersby.

You will NOT:

Jam your car into Drive, or into Park, hard enough to do enough damage to cost you actual money, because it will most certainly not be said asshole who will be paying for it now, will it?

You will NOT:

Get dolled up and go alone to a fancy bar – or worse, a dive bar – just for the comforts of flirtation or free drinks. Do I really need to explain why THIS is a bad idea?

Don't let this happen to you.

Don't let this happen to you.

And, this bears repeating, because you WILL be sorely tempted: 
YOU WILL NOT, I repeat, NOT, CUT YOUR HAIR. Maybe – and only if a unanimous decision is approved by your closest friends – consider a color change or highlights, but ONLY IF DONE PROFESSIONALLY. 

YOU WILL:

Recall that as The Secret, Closely-Guarded Girl Manual gets scribbled over during your lifetime with jotted notes, footnotes, and Post-Its, it evolves, somehow, into the Not-So-Fucking-Secret-Mutually-Supportive-I’m-Here-For-You-Sister-Woman’s Manual, and you learn:

THE CONCEPTS are actually TRUE.

There ARE plenty of fish in the sea. The thing is, those fish are the people who really DO love you: your family, your kids, your friends – your guy friends, too, who come in really handy at a time like this – and your best girlfriends, who are AWESOME, and to whom you CAN mutter “ASShole” as loudly as you like, and they will set up a cheer squad for you, complete with pyramid.

If he’s foolish enough to dump you, he probably DIDN’T deserve you, and you WERE too good for him, so do YOURSELF a favor, and move on – it’s actually the best thing for you, because moving on, having no revenge at all, ironically turns out to be the best revenge of all –

… because men always want what they can’t have.

If you move on, have yourself a good old life, happy with yourself, you just MIGHT haunt them forever as the one that got away.

It won’t bother YOU.

You’ll be too busy fighting the rest of the fish off with a stick.

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I’m no valedictorian, but…


Add to Technorati Favoritesgraduate celebratingI practically fell asleep at both my high school and college graduations, not to mention the endless graduations I was forced to attend during my stint as a PR/web diva while employed at a local community college.

Why these institutions relentlessly opt for the most boring speakers, year after year, spouting the same, clichéd advice, I will never in my life figure out.

Do speakers honestly think they’ve hit on something original and fun when they approach the podium with Dr. Suess’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go?” For the love of all that’s holy – the book itself isn’t even that good. It just has Suess’s name on it, so the speaker thinks it’s got an automatic seal of “Aren’t I fun? Won’t this be the best speech EVER?”

Do speakers at roasting-hot graduations, facing crowds of hungover, soaking-wet individuals who are impatient to get back to drinking again, diplomas in hand, think that anyone – even the proud, ignorant parents – think anyone is really listening to a word they say? Especially if they say anything past three minutes or so?

Why these institutions  relentlessly opt for the  most boring speakers, year after year, spouting  the same, clichéd advice, I will never in my life figure out.I think they do. I think there’s something about a microphone that dangerously brings out the absolute worst in all of us. Get someone behind a mike – someone who most people see a few yards ahead, casually turn on their heels, hoping to avoid a “Hey, howya doing? Have you heard the latest about ME?” – and some people go simply MAD with the attention.

Now, they think to themselves, I get to say all the things that have been gathering in my heart for years. And I have all the time, under this blistering sun, to say it to a captive audience, clad in long, dark, hot, heat-gathering robes. And hats. Don’t forget hats. Which also keep the heat in.

I was once at a graduation where one professor with an axe to grind went on for over a half an hour, listing everything he thought was wrong with the world. Administrators wandered helplessly in the background, along with security, wondering if, in fact, they were going to need an actual vaudeville hook to remove him from the dais.

Not that anyone is ever likely to invite me to give a graduation speech, but here’s the one I’d give, in the event I were asked:

Very cool, folks. You graduated. Time for the touchdown dance. Guess what? Now that you will never be attending another mixer, no one will ever ask you again what your major is. No one will ever care. They only care that you graduated. Which you did. So yay, you. A lot of people don’t.

Now that you have, though, here’s what happens next.

You will not remember any of your Spanish, French, or whatever language you took. The quadratic equation? You actually WON’T ever need it; you were right – the unit prices in ShopRite are printed right there on the shelves when you’re trying to figure out which is cheaper, the big jar of peanut butter or the two little jars. That’s daily math for you. I liked math in college, but I’ve never needed the advanced calculus I took to live my life, and I’ve had more different jobs than Stevie Nicks has costume changes at a concert.

You will barely remember, in fact, much of what you learned. I recommend at some point in the future, actually, that you pick up a book called An Incomplete Education by Judy Jones and William Wilson.

Not to imply that you haven’t received a perfectly good and thorough education here at this fine institution – I’m just warning you. Real life – as in work, rent, bills, someday kids – has a way of driving from your ballooning brain things like philosophy, history, literary criticism, and all the things that have seemed so very important in the past few years.

This book? It’s a fabulous, one or two paragraph reference to catch you up at cocktail party time, so you don’t end up sounding like a picket-fence polishing, lawn-mowing, brain-dead, “I-gave-up” suburbanite.

I don’t know.You will hear, over and over, people asking you: what will you do now? I hereby give you permission to say: I don’t know. If you DO know, that’s awesome. Go for it. If you are all set for the next step – like medical or law school, and you put in a few years and hate it – I give you permission to quit and try something else. One of the happiest guys I know was a successful lawyer for years, then quit in his forties to become a broke high school English teacher.

You don’t have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life NOW. Try a bunch of things. It’s allowed. Don’t let anyone pressure you into the family business, or into one of the official professions. If you majored in finance, but your dream job is rodeo clown, go for it. The only person who actually lives your life is you.

The only opinion that really matters is yours.

You have an education now. That’s awesome. Now you’re off to the business off getting yourself some wisdom and judgment. That comes with experience. You can have a happy life if you follow your own path. Do whatever makes you happy, and the money will follow, trust me. You may have a few lean years, but if you stick it out, everything will be cool.

Believe in yourself, even if nobody else does. My aunt used to say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. And being happy is a lot better life than being miserable. Seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many people are so bent on pleasing other people that they forget that – for instance, pleasing the people who just paid for their education.

Still – the people that paid for their education aren’t going to be living that life of yours, are they?

So get out there. Keep your ears open. Your mouth shut. Don’t think you’re done. This is just the beginning of your education. What you really learned in college is how to learn. So get out into the world and start really learning. And don’t ever stop; that’s when you get old.

Now? The fun part starts. Now? It’s just pass/fail. The trick? There is no fail until you give up. So just don’t ever give up, especially on yourself.

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