Be the Wheat

Be the Wheat

A few years ago I was sitting in the office of a friend of mine, a real successful businessman. At the time, I was handing out resumes and applying for jobs. This friend of mine, he’d never been in the military but he thought the fact that I had been was pretty cool. So he tells me I should put “Master’s of Badass Motherfuckery” under my education qualifications. After taking a moment to fantasize about having the balls to do such a thing, I demurred. It’s a fun thought but it’s funnier in the realm of what-if?
“Nonsense.” He said. “You don’t want to work for the kind of people who don’t think that’s funny.” That was the best advice he ever gave me.

Did I actually do that? Yes. But really just to look at. To internalize it. Truth is, I never handed out a resume again (though I think Masters in BAMF Sciences is on my LinkedIn.)
I did, however, start being myself. I got my first major job after pulling out a bottle of scotch in the middle of a job interview. About a year later, when the Chairman asked me how drinks went with a potential investor, I said, “Not well.” When he pressed me for details, I hemmed and hawed and finally said, “He was extremely rude to my date and I punched him in the stomach.” After considering this for a moment, the chairman just said, alright, sounds like you had your reasons. My friend was right, these are the kind of people I want work with. With this company, I got to keep my job, and my friend. And my dignity.

Fast forward a few years.

I was at a grad school admissions meeting over the summer. I showed up straight from Burning Man, still in costume and covered in dust. Once the admissions officers got over the fact that I was caked in dust with rips in my trousers, they were more fascinated by where I’d been. So I told them everything. About tripping on LSD and chasing a sexy Boston pharmacist through the desert. About waking up next to a Japanese lesbian ninja, even describing to them the wrist band that she had worn: “2015 CAMP BEAVERTON STRAP-ON-A-THON” And guess what? They laughed. They’re regular people. A good story is a good story, and to be fair, this is a Journalism school.

So I got in. I start in August, actually.

Running around this way, breaking the rules and quick with the middle finger, it doesn’t fit well with the conventional notion of success. You might not make a lot of money by refusing to “play the game.” I wasn’t able to close the deal with that investor, but I’m still dear friends with Katie, and I’m proud of that.

I don’t know if I can argue that things will always work out if you are unashamedly yourself. Some people may not like the real you and you’ll have to be okay with that. Whatever the cost, it’s up to you to decide if that’s a fair price for staying true to yourself.

Think of it as thinning the herd. Breaking protocol and testing the limits of decorum helps you separate the wheat from the chaff. And there’s far too much fucking chaff walking around in the world, pretending to be wheat.

Be the wheat.

Doppelgängers of the Dead

FeaturedDoppelgängers of the Dead

On a cold night in New York City, I walked into a McDonald’s for some comfort food and standing next to me was Dave Wimberg. Only it wasn’t Dave. This man was too tall and far too alive. Dave, you see, was killed in Iraq ten years ago.

After the bars are closed I don’t normally make a point of staring down men taller than me (staring up?), but I stared all the same, without any concern for how that may be perceived. Fortunately, he was the shy type and smiled nervously, so I apologized, telling him he had a familiar face.

He gets that a lot, he said.

“You look like a Marine who was killed in Iraq.” I told him. I wasn’t sure if I’d wanted to make this weird, but in the end, I decided I would regret it if I didn’t tell him why this moment was different. “His name was David Wimberg. The History Channel did a small feature on him. He went out like Rambo. You should look him up.”

This was me somehow doing my part to “bridge the civilian/military divide,” as they say.

Being told you look like a dead war hero isn’t typically something one has a canned response for, so he offered the obligatory responses. Did you serve with him? (Yes.) Thank you. (Sure.)

As I walked home, I tried to imagine what was in this kid’s head, now. When I left the McDonald’s, I saw him and his girlfriend huddling over a phone and reading how this man who could have been his twin was 10,000 miles from home and pinned down with his squad in an ambush when he scaled a wall and sprinted through gunfire to cease the attack. He kicked in a door, and as the door flew open, four insurgents turned their rifles to meet his one.

They all pulled their triggers.

Some friends told me that his body was found surrounded by enemy dead, the same way they would inspire us with tales of hero Marine martyrs who died surrounded by dead Japanese or Germans or Viet Cong. But the citation doesn’t say, and maybe it’s better that way.

He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his valor.

When I went home I looked up Dave’s citation and saw his face for the first time in years. My god he was young. We all were. I’m now in my thirties and sprouting a few grey hairs, but when I look at that baby face, he’s still my elder, even though I have aged, and he has not.

Fear and Resolve After the Bandages Come Off

Fear and Resolve After the Bandages Come Off

I used to worry about STDs. Every ingrown hair or pimple was a one-of-a-kind knee herpes, or early-onset tertiary syphilis. Now, my real anxiety is triggered in the airport security line, thinking of all the other sweaty socks I’m mating with as I put my shoes and laptop on the X-Ray belt and climb into the airport scanner. The jogger in front of you with the athlete’s foot. The old woman hobbling on an invisible gangrenous infection. Cellulitis? I used to worry about getting a girl pregnant. It’s never the things your fear that get you in the end. 

A month ago, I was carved up like a Swiss cheese. An all-but-untreatable super bacteria had taken residence on my chin where I’d scratched my beard. My stomach looked like a gunshot wound looks after you’ve stopped the bleeding. Then it spread to my leg, and that’s when I started to panic. 

It’s been a month, now, and today, I ended the bandages. The wounds are healed, all but for the scars and what’s underneath. Each of them seems to hide an ever-shrinking marble of scar-tissue just below the surface. 

My leg is just a slightly purplish bruise. I’m not sure if it will ever go away. On my stomach, a jagged scar has made a home. It looks like a superfluous third nipple. But the face is a little different. Even though the doctor intended to minimize scarring, the MRSA destroyed so much that there’s a fifty-cent-piece size patch of tissue unable to grow hair in my beard. All of the follicles were eaten by the bacteria. The skin still looks like skin, but underneath it’s all scar tissue. And right in the center, a pimple. Or rather, a monument to a pimple. I’ll wear this angry nub, this unpoppable zit for the future. Every time I shave or touch my face, there an instinctive urge to pick at it, but consider my lesson learned.

Other lessons have stuck. A random medical condition crumbles your sense of immortality. It’s different than getting shot at, or mortared, or getting your ass beat in the back of a New Delhi Fiat. You just wake up one day and you’re getting eaten alive by the world’s smallest predator. 

Then people talk about how now you have a better chance of catching it again, and how you’ll be weaker next time. If a serious case of MRSA has about the same mortality rate as a Russian Roulette, then every exposure after is another round in the revolver. 

It makes me realize that I’m not going to live to 100. Financial advice tends to be simple: you could be saving more. You know, for later. But what if you slave away like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the long winter of retirement, only to get prostate cancer at 65? 

“On a long enough timeline, the life expectancy for everyone drops to zero.” -Tyler Durden in Fight Club

I spent the last few weeks thinking about that. I could hunker down at a desk job, begging for time off, just enough for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Maybe a deep sea fishing trip here or there. Or I could approach these days with a combination fatalistic and opportunistic attitude: if you were going to die tomorrow, what would you do today?

Well, today, I’m headed to London. No plans. No reservations. Why? Because I’ve never been. Maybe I’ll get laid. Maybe I’ll go on a trip and expand my mind in the middle of Stone Henge. But at the very least, I’m going to park my ass in London and I’m gonna see those silly redcoats in person, lest I die before I get the chance.

I Contracted a Flesh-Eating Bacteria and Lived

I Contracted a Flesh-Eating Bacteria and Lived

[Warning, there’s some gross-ass pictures below. I’d give them just a 6 out of 10, with 10 being a snuff film, but that’s me.]

While America hyperventilates into the world’s largest paper bag over terrorism, I’d like to draw your attention to a much more sinister boogyman. It doesn’t hate our freedoms. It craves flesh, and it’s the closest thing we have to a real Walking Dead nightmare. I know, because I got bit, and though I lived, it’s coming for you.

They say that to call it a “flesh eating bacteria” is a misnomer. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, an increasingly common drug-resistant “super bug” doesn’t actually “eat” you, and instead “destroys” the nearby tissue. But I call that semantics. TomAto-TomAHto, it eats you all right! The fact is, if I’d lived in the Indian bush, or was off-grid on some round-the-world trek, I’d be dead already, if not from the infection than from jumping off a cliff; the pain was incredible.

It started out as something as innocuous as a pimple. One on the jaw, where you might scratch your beard, and then another on the abdomen over my rib cage. On day three it looked like I was hiding a gumball in my cheek, and as a general rule, if a growth is changing the shape of your head then it’s time for an intervention.

Unable to sleep from the pain, I lanced them in front of the bathroom mirror. I squeezed out the abscess in my jaw and to my horror, a cavity remained. I could stick the lance inside 1/4” in any direction and feel no pain. There was nothing left. Just a hole. I tried the same with my stomach, but to my surprise the nerve endings were still intact, and the pain dropped me to my knees.

In the morning my roommates recoiled at the sight of me. During the night I’d grown a beard of blood and puss as it drained all over my cheek. And the pain didn’t stop. As I walked to the emergency room I reminded myself that I’d gotten a full STD screen after Burning Man just six weeks ago and been on my best behavior ever since, so so tertiary syphilis it is not! But then Jesus Christ! What is it? This is not a pimple. This is a tumor. This is cancer! (Oh my god, what if it really is Cancer?) My last thought walking through the door was that if this is some kind of incurable skin cancer then I’m just going to off myself. This is why doctor-assisted suicide is a thing. All those bible thumpers going on about the trials of Job and the beauty of Christ can go fuck themselves. And let’s be honest for a moment: If there is a god, how shitty must he be that He would strike Job with festering boils all over his body just to settle a bet with Satan over whether one of his hoes really loved him. (True story–or not.)

Lancing a boil is not like popping a zit. They are similar, but similar in the way that six-year-olds playing pee-wee hockey look cute next to NHL players who get checked into the boards and spit out teeth. It’s the big leagues, and has to be treated as such. First you sterilize the area, then you slice. In the ER, the doctor held up a scalpel and said she would try to keep the scarring on my face to a minimum, because, you know, “it’s your face.” I told her to give me the full Tom Berenger. While you cut, you should remember, you’re not just poking a hole. The skin at the top has been corrupted, so you have to lop it off like a blown volcano.

Then comes the squeeze. There will be lots of pain, so if you don’t have a local anesthetic like lidocaine, knock them them out with propofol or a large rock. After squeezing out as much as you can, you’ll need to “manipulate” the infection, which means to get in there and dig around, dislodging any remaining corruption to give the body’s immune system a fair shot. Scraping out the infection leaves a cavity where the patient’s flesh used to be.

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In my case, a hole the size of a .45 caliber gunshot wound. It goes to the first knuckle, not that I tried.

 

Because the body will continue to fight the infection, there’s going to be more puss, and it will need to drain, which is why we “pack.” Take a spindle of gauze about 1/4” thick and start cramming it in there with some forceps. Really get it in there. The wound should be as swollen with gauze as it was before the lancing. Leave a little hanging out the top for easy removal later, and patch up the job with a good size bandage. I walked into the ER with two pimples and walked out bandaged up like a car crash victim.

Oh, and don’t forget the pain medicine. Whereas before the patient suffered from tenderness, you’ve just stabbed him in the ribs and stuffed his injury full of course fabric that’s going to clot and tear at every bump and breath, so only the best will do. I walked home stoned on Oxycontin. And this being the first time I ever got high on opiates, I’d like to take a moment to issue an apology to every junky I ever cast judgment on. (You are not weak. It really is that good.)

Save for one bandage-clad excursion to a strip-club for a friend’s birthday, I spent the rest of the week wasted on legalized heroin, playing Fallout 4 all afternoon and then sleeping until noon before taking more pills.

A few days later I returned to the ER to get “unpacked.” That was supposed to be it, but when the bandages came off, the sight was horrifying. This half-inch cavity was a swamp, and in it was some engorged worm that turned out to be the gauze swimming in puss. With one look she could tell the antibiotics weren’t working.

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I asked the doctor if she knew was a xenomorph was.

Then she yanked out the string of packing like she was starting a lawnmower. Next was my jaw, but without the element of surprise. Bent over my face to inspect the wound she turned my head and touched it with her latex fingers, then gave it an agonizing squeeze and I struggled not to cry out. “Just one more.” She said and when she finished I relaxed. Then she did it again. “Just one more.”

I hissed at her. “I don’t think that means what you think it means.”

The lab results confirmed her suspicions. It was MRSA. All I knew was that that’s bad, even for modern medicine. It can be deadly, but it remains treatable. Some strains keep an achilles heal. It might be resistant to all but one super-class of drugs. So they cultured the infection in several different petri dishes and introduce different antibiotics to each sample. Penicillin and amoxycillin had done nothing to kill it, but lucky for me, mine was still vulnerable to sulfamethoxazole (whatever that is).

After my beating and repacking, they gave me a week of super-antibiotics and enough Oxy to last until my next followup (again, so great!) It worked. The pain was subsiding. I got stronger, and after getting unpacked at my followup, it was clear I was going to heal up just fine.

But it remains a cautionary tale. With each passing year, doctors are reporting MRSA to be more and more prevalent, and more resistant to best drugs we have. It could get to a point where this increasingly common infection becomes so resistant that it has to be treated with chemotherapy, like cancer. I’d read about this “war” being fought against superbugs, but never took it seriously. Now I’m going to see the scars from it every time I look in the mirror.

Whenever you take a seat on a park bench, or ride on a subway car, or swipe your credit card, you’re some distance from an invisible assassin. So the next time you feel the urge to scratch your face or rub your eyes before washing your hands, remember: it’s out there, and the race to invent new antibiotics faster than MRSA can evolve is far from a sure thing.

You can read more in depth reports on the coming plague of superbugs here, here, and if you want to feel optimistic, here.

Burning Man Wedding = Best Wedding Ever

Burning Man Wedding = Best Wedding Ever

As an urbanite in his early thirties, the pace for weddings has picked up recently and not all of them have been traditional. The husband of a friend of mine wore an orange jumpsuit on their wedding day, as they had gotten engaged before he got charged with attempted murder. At another wedding, two avowed nerds rolled 20-sided die to determine who would read their vows first. One time, during the reception, a newly minted bride of a dear friend of many years thanked me for coming by closing her eyes and leaning in to give me a nice, slow kiss when no one was looking. She was wasted, as was the groom, so best to pretend it never happened.

Still, I find this much preferable to the traditional wedding format. Too often they are contrived ceremonies (Nobody walks that slow!), with awkward vows, followed by a bunch of people not dancing. And at no point in the last dozen weddings I’ve been to did anyone solicit guests for objections or to forever hold their peace. That’s probably for the best.

But the most interesting wedding I ever attended had none of these things. It was equal parts sexy and sincere, and entirely unconventional.

It was 2014 and my girlfriend and I were attending our first Burning Man, that decadent bacchanal of art, music, love, drugs, and general anarchy. We were riding our bikes through the darkness of this barren wasteland, dressed in feathers and tutus and top hats and nipple pasties, high on some pharmaceutical-grade molly we’d been gifted and riding towards the sound of music.

Tearing through the darkness lit up only by fluorescent wires and the pervasive firelight, we came upon a woman unlike any we’d ever seen. She wore a skin-tight leopard-print suit with cat ears next to a giant metal octopus that shot 20-foot flames from its tentacles. She danced alone while others watched from a distance, moving to the beat with the grace of a ballerina, and the sensuality of a burlesque dancer. She was in her 30s but possessed a body so fit and firm it would put almost any college coed on notice. We halted our bikes and stared, mouth agape at this dancing manifestation of pure femininity.

My girlfriend ventured out to join the feline in her dancing, and I stood and watched with the growing pool of onlookers as the a dance beat poured from a double-decker bus stacked with speakers. Deafened to everything but the music, I felt I had to share this moment with someone, so I yelled to the man next to me that this was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. I was answered in a comically thick Australian accent, “Why do ya think I’m Mehrrying her?” He yelled into my ear. I looked back in shock and beamed with pride.

He was older than her, but had confidence and class that said he knew he was lucky. He clearly knew a lot of things. “The wedding is tomorrow! You should come, mate!” He said.

I was introduced to the rest of their party, all Australians here for the wedding. When the dancing subsided and my girlfriend rejoined my side, the maid of honor, fit and blonde and beautiful, covered in face paint with a star like Paul Stanley from Kiss, said to us, “We’re all going to the Orgy Dome after this, would you like to join us?”

My girlfriend and I looked at each other in shock, but we couldn’t control our excitement. “Yes!” we blurted out in unison, and with that our caravan of bikes pedaled into the darkness, pushing through the cold and the dust to some approximate address in the wasteland. Somewhere along the way, we crashed our bikes on a sandbar and separated from the wedding party.

It took us an hour to find them again, only when we finally made it to the Orgy Dome. We passed through two heavy velvet curtains and a bouncer and table spread with lubricants and condoms and paper towels. Inside, we found the wedding party scattered under this bedouin style tent with tapestries on the wall and music filling every corner, the lights a glowing mix of green and red. The groom and best man were sitting back, sated and pleased with themselves as the bride and maid of honor lay naked and pressed together on a mattress, kissing and caressing each other. They excitedly beckoned us to join them when we entered the room.

I’ll leave the details to your imagination, but I will say that with the molly, every touch was as pleasurable as you can imagine, multiplied by a hot bath.

The next day we went to the wedding at the appointed time. In a wooden structure ornately decorated as a faux library and crowded with strangers and friends, the bride was naked except for a sheer scarf on her hair and a gold chain on her waist, from which hung a small cut of sheer cloth that only pretended at modesty. Gold metallic temporary tattoos accented her body as she stood before a crowd of strangers, tall and naked and proud. It in no way focused on putting on a show, or pleasing parents, or satisfying expectations, or impressing the community. It was about two people who were madly in love, and if you didn’t like it, then fuck you. It started as an orgy, and ended as the most authentic and loving wedding I’ve ever been to.

Stick that to your “dream wedding” Pinterest board.

I Used to Support Torture, and I Apologize

I Used to Support Torture, and I Apologize

I need to apologize. I used to be a torture apologist, and I was wrong. Back then we tried to dress it up by calling it “enhanced interrogation,” but that was only because deep down we all knew the truth. Torture is a bad word, and we’re the good guys.

In a public speaking class, I gave a short speech defending “enhanced interrogation.” It makes me sick when I think about how passionately I argued for my naïve beliefs, and how blind I was to confirmation bias. If my instructor at the time or fellow students read this, please don’t remember me that way. I literally face-palm when I remember that moment.

Back in college, I was benefiting from my unassailable status as a veteran when making policy statements. During the heated debates over the Iraq war, Americans were so badly beaten with the flag, that one would have to throw a puppy off a cliff before you could criticize the actions of soldiers.

I had spent over five years in the Marines, four of them overseas. That’s like getting a Bachelor’s of Science in How to Kill Bad Guys. And they were all bad. There was no grey area. Each as evil and two dimensional as a Disney villain.

My ace in the hole? If some pinko-Commie tried to tell me that torture was ineffective or wrong, I’d hit him with an anecdote so good that it shut the conversation down instantly: In 2004, I was part of a small team of Marines in Liberia. One day, we were called in to meet with the CIA’s station chief. There was a hit list, and all our names were on it. He must have had a snatch team pick up some warlord’s lackey and put the screws to him in a tin-roof shack out in the jungle. So when I would drop the line, “I’m still alive, and ask me if it was worth it,” it was over.

But did I really owe my survival to information gleaned via torture? No. Did the CIA use torture to get the list from some would-be hit man? No.

Sometime after, the same officer tried to recruit me to join “the company” after I went to college, and my imagination came alive with visions of “Feibleman, Ben Feibleman,” International Man of Mystery. But the more he revealed about the job, the more normal it seemed: Go out, meet your counterparts from the local government. Liaise with the local police forces. Meet a few regular non-government contacts. It’s police work. And one of the people he talked to told him, “Hey, we found this list.”

It took years for me to unlearn the falsehoods I believed about war, politics, and human nature. I studied International Politics and History at Columbia, with a particular focus on counter-terrorism and the politics and culture of the Middle East. I read too many books, and wrote too many papers to continue to believe the false narrative. I read the Quran from front to back and even took a stab at the language. (You want to know pain? Take an Arabic language intensive.) The more I learned, the sillier the action-hero notions of torture seemed.

It’s been ten years since Liberia, and I’m sad that it took me that long to learn how wrong I was. Moreover, I wish I hadn’t contributed to such a lie by defending it so vehemently. So, taking my own advice with regards to “enhanced interrogation”, I’m going to shut the fuck up in my defense of torture, and voice the fuck up to do my part to squash this toxic lie that it works, or that it’s somehow justifiable. It’s not.

Andrew’s Rules to Live By

Andrew’s Rules to Live By

Andrew Hamilton took his own life in 2014. We were friends. Good friends. He and I spent the better part of a year sharing a studio apartment when I was vagabonding around, and later on, he spent the summer on my couch to save money so he could pay down his crushing student debt. One thing he entrusted me with, was his personal list of “Rules to Live By.” At the time, he was very private about it, perhaps because it was incomplete, perhaps because it makes some controversial statements (read: “42. There is nothing wrong with suicide.”), but he shared it with me, nonetheless, and if I don’t share it with others, it will be lost. He was too interesting and intense a person for me to allow that, so I’m including it here, and plan to expand on it with many posts that address some of the philosophies he lays out below.

I hope some enjoy the funny, sad, and somewhat profound gems below in their original form.

Rules to Live By

  1. Maybe you don’t need any actual knowledge or skills – just knowledge of other people’s knowledge and skills.
  2. Always masturbate before making any important decisions.
  3. Be honest with yourself about your priorities and motivations. I.e. do you really care about getting good grades? You do what you care about, by definition. Bring both ends in line.
  4. For things that measure other things, don’t go cheap (i.e. scales).
  5. Set fire to yourself.
  6. Always have the courage of your own convictions no matter.
  7. Disregard females, acquire currency.
  8. Starting is the hardest part by far and really fucked by experiencing/remembering dichotomy. Always START.
  9. Give all-out effort.
  10. The victory and the glory.
  11. Work to a CADENCE.
  12. Don’t dance around the pony.
  13. ALWAYS BE OPTIMISTIC: “To deride the hope of progress is the ultimate fatuity, the last word in poverty of spirit and meanness of mind.”
  14. Women secretly like to be hit on, it’s flattering. There is a big middle area of where they don’t like you enough to get with you but they do like you enough to not be creeped out by the advance.
  15. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is ability to act despite the fear. Always act. The absence of fear is just ignorance or insanity.
  16. Beware the fallacy that what you know of is what there is, or even representative of what there is, esp. in terms of people, cities, arts, events, etc.
  17. Talking to reporters is extremely dangerous. Only do so when there’s a big upside.
  18. If you must talk to a reporter, do it by email.
  19. Never, ever, ever go even slightly off a carefully-scripted message around a reporter.
  20. One box is the correct answer to Newcomb’s Problem. Live life as such.
  21. Lean towards risk.
  22. Old people always regret what they didn’t do much more than what they did. Bear this in mind and live for the long-term in that regard. But not longer-term than your life.
  23. Don’t try to change others – you can’t.
  24. Don’t allow anything beyond your control to influence your mood.
  25. Work within institutions or crafts, not outside them.
  26. Funerals are celebrations because you can only celebrate the net after winnings are locked in – could have gotten infinitely worse and no net is secured until game is over.
  27. As soon as you clear up the self-deluded misconception that it’s starting to do the work, not the actual doing, that’s the painful part, procrastination will be a thing of the past.
  28. Do whatever drugs it takes to get the job done.
  29. Be sure to die unexpectedly.
  30. Take high-death-chance and low-maim-chance risks. Quick and sudden death ain’t no thang, plus who knows that some form of quantum immortality doesn’t obtain?
  31. Live exactly for the term until you die – i.e. be super long term but extremely driven, i.e. “you will die in 50 days” would = panic, so why shouldn’t “you will die in 50 years”?
  32. Not loving your child unconditionally is cruel and barbaric.
  33. Loving your child unconditionally – simply because it is your own spawn / seed without regard to its or its ideas’ merits – is a small-minded unjustifiable tribal in-group mentality
  34. So the only answer to the paradox is to never have kids.
  35. The only child you should respect is a brainchild.
  36. Force a constructive obsession.
  37. Pain is temporary, glory is forever.
  38. No, literally. Because exp/rememb selves.
  39. Remember experiencing/remembering self dichotomy, while it can be ruinous, can also be used to your advantage, e.g. “wow, this run is so painful I’ll never do it again – wait, I won’t remember this tomorrow.”
  40. Get regular dental checkups.
  41. Wear a helmet.
  42. There’s nothing wrong with suicide.
  43. You play with fire, you get burned.
  44. Avoid boring people.
  45. Don’t eat a lot or you’ll get super sleepy.
  46. You’re a worm dreaming of the stars.
  47. The solution to free will angst is Dan Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves.”
  48. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
  49. Get the low-hanging fruit first.
  50. If familiarity isn’t breeding contempt, you’ve got a winner.
  51. You’ll never walk alone.
  52. Never half-ass an apology.
  53. Never apologize twice for the same thing.
  54. If unsure of whether or not to apologize for something – always apologize.
  55. Send a positive text to your best friend every day.
  56. Stay positive – you can shit poisonously in your own mind for no reason. The upside to being positive, optimistic and trusting is greater than downside and is a choice you make every day with every thought and perception.
  57. I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain
  58. Fake it till you make it.
  59. Read biographies of people you aspire to imitate.
  60. Take detailed notes during or immediately after important conversations.
  61. All men die, but not all really live.
  62. You’re my buddy.
  63. And when I say “you’re my buddy”, by “you” I of course don’t mean you as bounded by the skin but I mean the values, traits and ideas that you are an embodiment of, which is why I came to love you in the first place anyway.
  64. Live a strenuous life. Ease is ignoble,
  65. Have vast designs.
  66. Money is a means, not an end.
  67. Be wary of habit and routine. Try new and unknown things.
  68. Give vomit-effort.
  69. Throw pennies away. They are a resource-attack.
  70. Live life as a wiki. Don’t squander your days. What will you look back on this as?
  71. Think about how mirrors reverse things. It’s really disturbing.
  72. Battles are primarily lost and won in the hearts of men.
  73. Do you want it?
  74. Memories fade. Take pictures.
  75. Don’t be shy about communicating successes, failures to friends.
  76. Don’t be shy about thinking out loud with friends. They help evolve thought processes.
  77. Explain your ideas, beliefs and goals to people. Talking through serves to convince and clarify in your own mind as well.
  78. At least go through the motions.
  79. Victory is waiting for you.
  80. Let the firstlings of your heart be the firstlings of your hand.
  81. Remember that come what come may, time and the hour run through the roughest day.
  82. If you only settle for your best, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.
  83. Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
  84. Think carefully and define “winning” for yourself.
  85. Your freedom comes naturally. You act in accord with your reasons.
  86. Be dauntless.
  87. Be psychopathically, non-reality-tethered confident at all times.
  88. Sally forth boldly into the future.
  89. Never worry about what you can’t change.
  90. You can’t change the past.
  91. Share your aspirations and goals with friends and supporters.
  92. Libertarians are scum.
  93. Submit to your metacognition. NOW.
  94. See what others do in mere fictions and dreams of passion, & key on your own motives and cues.
  95. Always have a bias for action.
  96. It is sometimes necessary to cut people out of your life. Be ready for it and don’t hesitate.
  97. Unclench your identity. You are a fluid evolving chained time-sinew, with each now-I a link comprising the self. You can be anything you want.
  98. Future self-bind whenever possible.
  99. Keep a written account of each day.
  100. Don’t wait for love. It does not often come to those who don’t seek it.
  101. Experience extreme hunger at least once.
  102. Label everything with your name.
  103. Don’t be an idiot.
  104. Don’t be a packrat.
  105. Have civic pride.
  106. Don’t take anything personally. Other people aren’t persons.
  107. (Newsrad ones).
  108. Speak loudly.
  109. Be the man in the arena.
  110. Apologize only for major transgressions.
  111. Dress sharply.
  112. Keep a list of books read.
  113. Put the ideas you’re most passionate about into essay form.
  114. Debate your values and ideas with sharp, opposed people.
  115. Network, sincerely.
  116. Stay in touch with far-flung friends.
  117. Wrest yourself out of your comfort zone at every opportunity.
  118. Associate with all diff walks of life.
  119. Go skydiving.
  120. Move or rearrange your hairstyle or furniture at least every 6 months.
  121. Be aggressively friendly.
  122. Learn to truly overlook glaring flaws / value differences in prospective friends, but only if they’re worth it.
  123. when unsure of whether to go to something or not, always have a bias to go.
  124. Keep a to-do list.
  125. Brush twice a day.
  126. Prioritize adequate sleep over all else.
  127. Do regular cardio exercise.
  128. Vote.
  129. Gain at least a basic level of experience/understanding of the military.
  130. Death is by definition nothing to fear.
  131. Stretch after, not before.
  132. Be hypervigilant of resource-attacks.
  133. Acting as though you know you’re well-liked and admired is always the most expedient route.
  134. Always get better.
  135. Always be closing.
  136. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  137. Do more listening than talking. When in doubt, be silent.
  138. Don’t be a packrat. When there’s any doubt, that means throw it away. Non-essential possessions are resource-attacks.
  139. Organize your email and documents into folders.
  140. Aggressively seek mentors.
  141. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings.
  142. Hating something or someone is to give it importance, validity, engagement. Utterly ignore & forget it instead.
  143. Not every experience is necessarily a net positive. Don’t be averse to burying / actively forgetting something.
  144. We are agglomerations of people we spend time with and media we consume. Choose wisely.
  145. Hydrate.
  146. Write everything down.
  147. Never be drunk outside your home.
  148. Keep objective written record of your data – weight, drug effects, sleep, etc – you never will have an accurate understanding of what’s going on without this.
  149. People who block doors on trains are either autistic or inconsiderate.
  150. Embrace me or kill me.
  151. One night stands or casual sex – in general or when they have them – make women feel humiliated, stupid, foolish and terrible about themselves, and regard men as villains.

These were Andrew’s list of rules to live by.

[box type=”info” align=”aligncenter” ]So, I wish I’d had time to provide some context on Andrew before this went viral. He was funny, and he was extremely principled. He lived by these rules pretty well, especially when it came to passions and goals (i.e. “vomit-effort”). He once skipped class for two weeks, flew to Russia with a goal of making a documentary film (financed on student loans). Starting with wikipedia, he literally talks his way up to Putin’s inner circle. On camera interviews with everyone from Kremlin elites, to the U.S. Ambassador, to opposition and protest leaders. I don’t think the film was ever distributed, but here’s the trailer. He was quite remarkable. [/box]