#8. Reader Pep Talk Speed Round
Writing this on January 1st may have been a mistake.
Happy new year (observed), everyone! I ended 2022 with a sprint across the Midwest for some truly wonderful shows in Minneapolis, Chicago (featuring drop-ins from John Oliver and Brooks Whelan), and Milwaukee (where Steve Byrne graciously let me do a set on his show as well). Thanks to everyone who came to the shows. It was a wonderful way to end the year.
Except the year wasn’t quite over! This weekend, as a result of several unfortunate cases of covid, I was asked to be a little part of Aimee Mann’s holiday show back in New York! I got to goof around onstage with Aimee and Griffin Newman and Paul F. Tompkins (who remains one of my all-time favorite comedians despite taking a picture with me just to VICIOUSLY PRANK ME). (Full context for this bit, started by friend/excellent comedian Matt Koff HERE.) I know that I should “play it cool” about things like this, but honestly I have been practically hopping up and down with excitement to have gotten to be a part of these shows!
I also published a little piece about the feeling of Don’t Wanna and permission to quit things for Self, thanks to amazing editor Rachel Miller! And I did a little thread on Twitter about some other work I was proud of this year, much of which I imagine you’re aware of, so I won’t link to it all individually.
Because it’s January 1st and I’m not in, let’s say, peak writing shape, we’re going to buzz through a bunch of reader pep talks very quickly and then I will see if I’ve got time to sneak in a second nap of the day. Pep, pep, and away!!!
PEP TALKS FOR READERS
I’ve trimmed some of these down and feel the need to make that disclaimer for some ethical reason or another. Readers, if you have encouragement for each other, please feel free to leave an enthusiastic comment! If you have something not-encouraging to say: Stuff it!
Happy New Year! My 2 yr old is currently going through potty training at home and loves to march around declaring "I peed on the potty" regardless of the success so far, we both need a pep talk!
Honestly, it sounds like your 2-year-old has CEO-level confidence. Seems to me like this kid has got a real fake-it-’til-you-make-it attitude towards potty training, which I imagine is as frustrating for you as it is triumphant for them. This period will not last forever, and once it’s over you will be able to reflect on the fact that it’s legitimately hilarious for someone to say that they peed in the potty immediately after peeing on the floor. Your kid is giving you the gift of a wonderful bit that you will eventually be able to appreciate.
I'd love a pep talk! Left a comfortable job to join a start up and my wife is pregnant with our first kid and I'm trying to quit smoking to be a healthy dad!
This is all cool and exciting stuff! It is a very classy move to take a step towards “healthy dad” and away from “just stepped out for a pack of cigarettes and you know the rest dad.” Also, jobs are like hats. If your new one is weird and doesn’t suit you, just find a better one and delete all evidence that this one ever happened. Only your closest friends will remember your bad job/hat phase.
I’m an older woman in a great temp job. It’s covering a short term disability so no chance of it going permanent. I was off work (covid layoff) for over a year and I’m dreading the end of my contract. I’m a math-impaired admin.
First of all, math is overrated. Unless your job requires you to wear a green visor (accountant, casino dealer, abacus-carrying visor company mascot), you should feel at liberty to know as little math as is comfortable. This is known as “calculator privilege” and you can exercise it if you want! Secondly, you got a good job this time, and I have to imagine there are other equally-as-good or nearly-as-good or good-in-different-ways jobs that are out there for you. I’m so happy you’re in a good situation now, but mathematically (sorry to bring math back into this) the chances that this is the one job you are uniquely suited to enjoy are pretty low. I imagine this uncertainty is especially scary given your long jobless period, but you’ve found a job, and you’ll find another.
hello! my mum is a narcissist and i want to go no contact but she is using guilt and shame to encourage me into 'talking' (talking never goes well as it ends up with me having to listen to her rage). it's very confusing as i don't feel safe with her (never have) but feel very guilty and responsible to take care of her even when she's nasty and uses manipulative tactics, even though technically i'm not responsible for anyone. i turn 43 in february and feel it's gone on for so long, i need to make a change but am a bit in limbo and 'hiding' (low contact to keep her at bay) whilst i live in a state of heart wrenching anxiety. i fear she will continue to keep pushing for a response using threats and shaming, which sparks another explosion from her whilst i meekly clean up her debris, trying to people please as i'm afraid to stand up to her.
This sounds really stressful and heartbreaking! I don’t have any advice (on account of my being a dumbass) but you deserve relationships that make you feel safe, and I think maybe an actual advice or anxiety professional could help you through this painful time! You can get there with assistance and time and effort! Okay, back to the ones where I can be a little silly!
I’m 35 and still far too concerned with being cool and what people think of me. Pls advise?
A couple of things here!
1. You are probably cooler than you give yourself credit for.
2. Many people in your life probably already agree that you are cool! And it’s so much more gratifying to bask in that feeling like a lizard on a rock than it is to try to convince the people who aren’t on board that you’re worthwhile. It’s okay to not be everyone’s cup of tea. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. My waffle maker is a horrible desk lamp, but my desk lamp can’t make waffles to save its measly robot life. You’re allowed to feel good about the kind of cool you are rather than feeling bad about the kind of cool you’re not.
My dog's new year's resolutions seem to be out of synch with my own. After a week(s) of over-eating, I set out with my pooch this morning to start the new year right with a brisk 3-mile walk on a rare sunny day. She walked 2 blocks, turned around, and insisted we head back home. How can I get her on board with a healthy start to the new year? Would appreciate a pep talk for my dog, Juno. Thanks!
As a lazy dog haver myself, I understand this predicament well. Juno, maybe you are not interested in building up your stamina with long, rigorous walks. But you have a person who is. You’ve got to support them. Whether that means trotting a little further out of your comfort zone than you’d expected or simply encouraging them to go on ahead without you while you catch up on your stories (the window). Their journey is not your journey, but you have to support them, even if you’d rather they stay on the couch with you, scratching you behind the ears and feeding you cold cuts. We ALL want that, Juno! But sometimes we must compromise.
We hit a deer with our car and now we are starting off 2023 with insurance claims and a totaled car. Please advise.
This sounds like a truly horrible way to ring in the new year, but never has there been a better situation to deploy the old maxim: You should see the other guy.
Think of it this way: You kicked that deer’s ass. Now other woodland creatures know you’re not to be messed with. (Sorry to that deer.)
Douglas the Blind Pug may need a pep talk since we moved from Houston back home to Halifax and I’m not sure he’s ready for a Canadian winter. :)
Douglas is so strong and resilient! He may not love the Canadian winter, but he will conquer it with the force of a (tiny, furry) tornado. Douglas, this is new, and it may feel bad, but you’ve weathered storms before, and you’ll weather this one!
Buying a couch even though there's a million different couches and it is a commitment for a future that remains yet unknowable. Will future me want a beige couch? Will future me be disgusted by my pedestrian tastes?!
- Liz Haynes, PhD
A couch is a big investment, and you’re going to make a great choice. Chances are, what your eyes (and butt) want from a couch now will not change wildly in the near future. You like what you like, and you don’t have to overthink this and outsmart yourself with some kind of avant garde furniture choice (what is the couch equivalent of getting bangs, I wonder). If you like beige now, give into your own beigeness! You do not need to live in fear of the judgement of a future you. Chances are, they will be pretty forgiving of present you on this front!
I have a final round job interview on Wednesday!
I always say the same thing about a job interview: Unless you have committed a massive, Talented Mr. Ripley amount of deception over your previous interviews, they’re bringing you in because they like what you have to offer. So all you have to do is show up and be you, which you’re going to do, because it would be very strange to start committing intricate Face/Off levels of deception now.
I finally stopped involving myself in several layers of family drama, to my shock and amazement I have mostly been released! Fewer cards and phone calls, but an incredible sense of relief. Also, a little verklempt at all the time I could have saved in previous years.
This is the easiest pep talk I’ve ever given: You’re crushing it. Doing what you did sounds so hard, but it seems like you pulled it off and have created a lane for yourself to have a wonderful future. It’s okay that you didn’t get there sooner! You were probably just powering up anime-style until you were strong enough to get this done! Great job!
PICK-ME-UP SONG: They Might Be Giants - “Doctor Worm”
I first saw They Might Be Giants live in Louisville with my best friends from childhood in…2005, which is very old of me, but what are you gonna do. We had traveled there for Lebowskifest, which is exactly what it sounds like and I will not offer any more incriminating or embarrassing details at this juncture. (I just saw the pictures from the trip for the first time in many years, and WOW we were children.) I’d known TMBG from cartoon shows, but they really bring it live. Their songs can sound pretty whimsical, but but also have incredible emotional depth. “Doctor Worm” is about learning new skills and wanting to show them off but being open to critique and understanding you’re a work in progress. Seems like a good thing to consider around this time of year!
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
I’m taking a week off to recover and then I’m back on the road! See you there?
1/12-1/14 - Comedy Bar Toronto (three shows)
1/20-1/20 - Wiseguys in West Jordan, Utah
More info and dates available at joshgondelman.com/schedule!
Okay! That’s all for now! Thanks for reading! And as always, if you enjoyed the newsletter, please subscribe and/or share it with a pal!