Writer's Block is an Emotional Condition by Dan Mayer

I’ve heard writer’s block described as many things: a curse, a scourge upon one’s imagination, death by tedium. Maybe the experience of it is too subjective to box in with a pithy metaphor, but there is one thing we can all agree on. Writer’s block is the denial of creative joy. It is just awful.

Writer’s block is also an emotional condition, and this is how you might work through it.

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Liberal Paralysis by Dan Mayer

Today as I walked back to work from the bank, I momentarily lost track of my sanity. Or, perhaps, I brushed up against it for the first time in a long time.

At a corner, waiting for a light, I looked to my left and saw the image that just wrenched the consciousness of the civilized world, a Syrian man holding his dead twin babies, who had died in a chemical weapon strike. Like a lot of people the world over who saw that image, my initial shock emptied into a vacuum of feeling. My self-interested brain couldn’t handle that picture.

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Can I trust the Media if I can't trust myself? by Dan Mayer

Information follows the model initially crafted by the porn industry, filtering itself to suit our highly specific needs. However you’re bent up inside, porn has adapted to you before you’ve even admitted to yourself what you like. Now general information is treated as a similar commodity. It’s all too easy for your apps to only feed you data that reinforces what you already prefer. The more you consume, the more that’s what you want to consume. Like your mom feeding you mushed up bananas when you were two. The result is remarkably similar, except that you’re just regurgitating back onto the internet instead of all over your bib.

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What Is Craft Coffee? by Dan Mayer

The idea of craft is meant to conjure up an image of an individual person honing a skill beyond proficiency to something like art. It is more than employment, it is a labor of love, perhaps a quiet passion, a complex, subtle task that requires years of study and practice. A craftsman is more than some person with a set of tools; She is a person who has a deep emotional relationship with what she makes.

Whipping up your decaf soy pumpkin-spice latte is not like that.

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The Lifecycle of Your Awesome Story Idea by Dan Mayer

1. The idea squirms uninvited from the folds of your unconscious mind, generally at an inopportune time. Like while you’re sleeping, or parallel parking on a busy thoroughfare in a rainstorm, or on a first date that isn’t going well.

2. You jot the idea down on whatever scrap of paper happens to be in reach. Sometimes, if you’re clever or lucky, that scrap is part of a notebook or maybe finds its way into your pocket. Often, the idea is recorded in the form of a partially coherent text message to yourself.

3. You spend a few days secretly enraptured with the idea, nursing it along, letting it develop. Every once in a while you sneak a look at the notebook page or scrap of paper to remind yourself of how rare and wonderful it is. The larger narrative it’s a part of begins to take shadowy form. You may find yourself feeling a bit giddy. But then…

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U.S. Vs Them, How Rage is Devolving Democracy by Dan Mayer

Rage lives in the body, subtler than we give it credit for. It waits for its moment, lies dormant, concealed until it sees a chance. Until then it nestles in your gut, leaking slowly into the surrounding tissues, subtly shading your perception of the world. It spreads itself out so smoothly, so thin, that you hardly register its presence. But it’s always there.

Rage can ignite in a second or gradually boil over, but either way it channels itself down the shortest route to expression. It wants to be free of you, to leave your body, to be broadcast through your voice, to be projected by the violent kinetics of your fists. If someone in your sphere of perception — a demagogue, say — offers a quick, easy route, the rage will leap to respond. It will never wait for reason to reveal a more constructive truth. It will surge in the direction of release. Rage is cheap that way.

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Peter Pan: Proto Hipster? by Dan Mayer

I see them around all the time. At the market, fondling the organic papayas, still dressed like they just got back from Burning Man, in need of a shower, and with glitter in their hair. Glitter. Like my four-year-old daughter asks for when we do face painting. There are scads of these dudes all around, all the time. Wearing suspenders and a patched-elbow corduroy blazer, riding a single-speed bicycle down a busy street like they automatically get the right-of-way because they’re sporting a braided wool scarf.

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The Death of Distance, or How Facebook is Killing Romance by Dan Mayer

There are adults among us who have never had to sneak downstairs to the living room of their parents’ house at two in the morning to call a verboten girlfriend. They have never had to wait for a sibling to get off the phone before trying to arrange a date. Even the dates themselves are now entangled in digital effluvia. You are never alone in a car with a love interest, even if you’re parked somewhere distant, looking at the city lights. You remain tethered to the broader context of your life by the phone in your pocket.

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This presidential election is the like a puppet show put on by condescending extraterrestrials. by Dan Mayer

I don't know about you, but I never asked to have the gruesome, horrifying political id of this country so graphically diagrammed. I'm talking about the election, something I swore to myself I wouldn't do with anyone except people who already dislike me. Sadly, I surrender. There is something wrong with us all, and we need to accept this electoral sinkhole for what it is: a symptom of a greater illness.

This election is what happens when people lose track of the essential nature of their own humanity. 

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What exactly is it that preppers are prepping for? by Dan Mayer

Let me be totally honest here: I am a prepper site troll. This is embarrassing for several reasons.

First, it’s a little shameful that I’m into prepping in the first place. For the uninitiated, “prepping” refers to a compulsion to stockpile supplies and create plans of action for various forms of apocalypse. A prepper, for example, will have a bug-out-bag designed to be grabbed just as the bombs drop, the grid fails, and chaos erupts. Do you have a zombie horde avoidance strategy? 

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Pride, in the name of Ilovaysk by Dan Mayer

There are a lot of things in the world that can hurt a man's pride. Not that women don't experience the emotion; They certainly do. It's just that it doesn't seem that the feminine reaction to injured pride has the same volatility as the masculine. A man with wounded pride is often stupid, irrational, uniformly ridiculous, and occasionally dangerous. Maybe extremely so. Look at your news feed today. See those faces locked into stacks of unmoving lines? Look at their eyes when they talk. You'll see it: exhausted yet composed, chemically stabilized, men with terribly wounded pride. 

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Obscure Physical Politics by Dan Mayer

Two men pass each other on the street, moving in opposite directions, and due to pedestrian traffic or spatial limitations one or both will have to give way just a little to avoid a collision. Seems like a totally unremarkable situation, something common to anyone who lives in a city or visits a shopping mall, so why does it often feel like such weird little battle of wills? Is it just me, or is there an enormous amount of coded data getting pushed around when we navigate each other on the sidewalk?

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Giant Hipster Beard Vs. Having a personality by Dan Mayer

I've been told that it's cheap and easy to pick on hipsters. Sadly, I am cheap and easy. Also, whenever I see some hugely bearded clod waddling down the street in suspenders and a feathered hat, I start wanting the zombies to win.

The thing is, I think a lot of these dudes are just sort of sad and insecure and feel a deep, socially reinforced need to find something about themselves that might qualify as distinctive. It's depressing that a really long beard is the best they can come up with. It's not their fault, entirely

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When I see you vaping, it makes me sad. by Dan Mayer

For you, of course. Also for the world, in general, and a little bit for myself, but mostly for you. And here's why: You look like a little bit of a douchebag. Your display of reverse evolution doesn't have the pyrotechnic intensity of say... oh, I don't know... a drunken skinhead. Or even just a garden variety high speed tailgater. No, you sucking down your nicotine-laden water vapor just demonstrates a very limited sense of how to enjoy life. Such a lack of imagination is a too banal to even be considered a tragedy.

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The Profane Dad, Part 2 by Dan Mayer

As my wife and I continue this project, other words are coming into question. Is hell profanity? Ass? I say no, but my wife seems to want them on the verboten list. I don't know where this comes from. My wife might create a certain impression if you meet her in a professional context, or at a dinner party where we don't know anyone, but she's no Pollyanna. She's married to me, after all. She can be crude and clever, uninhibited, and a little raunchy. She's perfect. So why is hell on the list? Hell is a place. In its most common usage it’s just a shitty place or condition of being, often separated from the religious traditions that generated the initial concept. A lousy job is hell. A crumbling marriage. Why should it be a bad word? Why shouldn't my daughter say it?

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Open Letter To College Freshmen Driving SUVs by Dan Mayer

Okay, look. Let's be honest with each other about something. A few things, actually.

First off, we know your old man bought you that fucking SUV. Do you know why he bought it for you? It's because he knows that you drive like a one-eyed jackal with compromised impulse control. He bought you that battleship because the poor bastard loves you and wants you to be the person who survives the accident that you will inevitably cause. Isn't that sweet of him? Your dad wants you live! At any cost. I think how much he must love you every time I watch you make a right turn into traffic without looking to the right first. You know who's off to the right? Pedestrians. With babies.

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Netflix and Chilling? GO F@!k YOURSELF. by Dan Mayer

This is one of those social behavioral moments that makes me profoundly glad not to be a heterosexual woman looking for a relationship.

Netflix and Chilling? Are you fucking kidding me? Maybe this is a generational thing. Maybe the idea of "dating" is an inconvenience we can no longer tolerate. How sad for us. Or rather, how sad for you, since I'm judging you from behind the firewall of a happy marriage. How did I get here? I did my goddamned time, like all of us humans should, dating, pining, humiliating myself, and exulting in the minor ecstasies of forming new relationships. Sometimes it was easy, sometimes not. What it wasn't, and what it never should be, was convenient.

You've already got Tindr. You don't have to go to a bar and hope for a random, sloppy hallway hook-up. You don't have to have your friends try to set you up with someone they (mistakenly) think you'll like. No awkward, face-to-face stumbling as you create your initial impressions of each other. You already get to skip all of that.

Now you want to skip the excitement and weirdness of really getting to know the person you've met through your app. You want to cut out the part where your insecurities get exposed. You want to skip the part of courtship where you have to give that other person an opportunity to decide that you're not really worth their time. Netflix and chilling? You know who does that?

People in the second year of their relationship. People that might or might not be in love but are already indulging in taking each other for granted. Netflix and chilling is this year's "friends with benefits," a way of saying that you don't want to commit to the effort of going out and having experiences in the world together. You want to watch TV and eat ice cream and maybe have sex, but you don't want to spend money or time, or take any chances.

Netflix and chilling? You lazy little toad. Step up your game. Ask someone out to coffee. Then dinner. Go for a walk somewhere beautiful, and risk revealing something interesting about your inner life. Be a grownup. 

Or not. I'm sure you can find someone who would be totally happy to settle right in to splash around with you in your little emotional kiddie pool. Don't be surprised if you lose track of what satisfaction feels like.

H-E-Double Hockeysticks, Part 1 by Dan Mayer

At times I am artfully profane, often merely vulgar, but for me this abuse of language is like sport. It is a huge part of how I express myself. Problem is, I also have a four-year-old daughter who is vacuuming in every fucking word I say like Satan's own stenographer. And a wife who is invested in our child not being the first in per peer group to call a fellow toddler a vile fuck.

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Turning 40 Twice by Dan Mayer

It might be a simple trick of human psychology, or a cultural more reinforced by a lifetime of media from industries obsessed with aging, but things look different when you finish that forth decade. Especially if you have young kids. Things look different than you'd hoped they might.

Every generation must go through this, the reversal who's on which side of Us and Them. For a lot of us it feels more like Me and Them, as you build your little fortress around the things you love, the hours and the people you long to preserve from harm. As we get older the Us is less coherent. Less meaningful. The distances between us become difficult to navigate.

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I can't stop thinking about my next cell phone by Dan Mayer

I have a cell phone problem. It's real, and I don't know what to do about it. My contract with Verizon is up at the end of next month. I have been looking at phones to replace my venerable but now more or less terminally fucked up Note 4. I loved my old Razor Maxx, even though it's name sounds like a torture porn mash-up. It had (pretend?) Kevlar on the back. Super butch.

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