Every time Guy Fieri sweats while eating, a beautiful Internet angel cries, and sometimes their tears form a video so perfect that it can only be described as “‘Guy Fieri Eating In Slow Motion To ‘Killing Me Softly.’” It’s a beautiful day to eat food stripped of all its nutritional value, why don’t you call your mother and tell her you love her?
For people who think their happiness will come with freedom and liberty and the ability to choose, we more often look to fate and purpose and morale and duty and culture and numbers and labels and titles and degrees to draw lines that we simply have to fill in.
If there’s anything we care about more than having the ability to create our lives, it’s not having to take responsibility when they’re not good enough.
When the canvas goes blank and every possibility opens, we recoil. After we surpass the years of structure – elementary school, high school, maybe college – six then four then four – it’s just wide open space. (Rather, it’s always that way, that’s just point at which most people actually realize.)
The paradox of choice is that it immobilizes us rather than empowers us. You can be anything! So why aren’t you being everything!
It’s like we’re in an arms race to see who can live the most, except the problem is that we define “living” very specifically. Recently Daniel Coffeen wrote about the idea of living life to the fullest and how severely it goes unexamined.
But what is it to live life to the fullest? If I am sitting peacefully, joyfully, on my floor staring the ceiling and you are anxiously riding your motorcycle through the streets of Hanoi, who here is living life to the fullest? Is living life to the fullest an external event or an internal experience?
We think unless we’re diving from the top board, adventuring and evolving and documenting the entire thing on Facebook, we’re not living. There’s more life out there than there is in here. If we go out and do something, we become something, or at the very least, we can prove that to other people… and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.
We collectively have this very odd – and rarely addressed – complex that unless we’re loved by everybody, we’re not worthy of love. Unless we’re the best, we’re not enough. Unless we’re being adventurous and reckless and revolutionary, we’re not doing anything at all. We’re not living life to the fullest we possibly can. We spend so much time (too much time) collecting evidence and combing through minutiae to prove to ourselves that the collective mindset toward us is a positive one. We are beautiful. We are loved. We are living because we’re doing what we’re taught is supposed to feel exciting and raw and real. We care more about what we perceive than how we actually feel.
And that’s really the way we break each other down: you don’t look as good as you could. You’re not doing as much as you should. You could lose weight or buy this or go here or try him on for size. You could. You could look and be better than you are. Which is really just another way of saying, you aren’t enough now.
But we’re not supposed to be living wildly all the time. Nobody is as good as they could be and that’s the point of being. Reckless and tireless adventure is more often a deflection and a distraction and a means to an ends of proving oneself than it is pure desire and joy.
People discover themselves in the negative space, in books and journals and quiet mornings with lovers, as much as they do (as per Coffeen’s example) riding motorcycles anxiously around Hanoi.
The best days of my life were the ones in which I was exploring new cities with boyfriends and best friends, not when I handed in a manuscript, or got my dream job, or did something else people perceive as extraordinary.
Which is not to say there’s no merit in doing whatever you damn well please. If diving off the top board makes you feel alive, good, I hope you march your ass to a pool and do so soon. But it is to say that experiencing things to the fullest is not how much you do, it’s how aware you are of what you’re doing. Love, light, joy, happiness, peace, excitement all happen while you’re present. Despair, confusion, sadness, anxiety, depression, all happen while you’re not.
1. There is nothing more stressful than having to buy a plane ticket a few months in advance, because what if you don’t want to go on that trip? What if you want to do something else entirely? What will you do then????
2. 90% of your plans are made the day of, so your text messages are always, “hey, what are you up to immediately or in like 4 hours, wanna get a drink?”
3. People who need to make plans months in advance because they are so busy just legitimately stress you out. You have an opening 3 months from now? Ok, let’s talk like 2 days before that day and see where we’re at.
4. Your life’s motto: No plan is ever as good as a canceled plan.
5. You know the pure ecstasy that comes when you get a text canceling a plan you were dreading living out anyway. It’s like the God of Hating Plans was specifically fulfilling your prayers that day.
6. You are constantly straddling the line between wanting to be social but never ever ever ever wanting to be tied into a plan. It’s not you, friends you actually like, it’s the plans!
7. A weekend of complete plan-less-ness is untouchable joy. The hours are spread before you like a beautiful buffet of time you can gorge yourself on. JOY!
8. If you find someone who you will always make advanced plans with no matter how far in advance said plans are, you fiercely hold onto them because they are the rarest species of human you’ve ever encountered in your life.
9. It’s Monday and you have legitimate plans you cannot squirm your way out of every night this week, on a scale of 1 to losing your shit entirely, where you at right now?
10. When people send you wedding save the date’s for a year from now, you’re like, hooookay, don’t worry, I’m FREE.
11. When anyone tries to make a plan with you a week or more in advance, your answer is this weird non-committal “sure, maybe” in which you are at least 80% sure you will be canceling that plan in the near future.
12. When you have a legitimate reason to say no to a plan because you are, randomly, already busy, it feels good to not have to lie or make up some excuse to not go to whatever you were invited to. You’re like, “OH I AM ACTUALLY ALREADY BUSY WOW SORRY CAN’T MAKE IT!!!!” in a perhaps far too gleeful tone of voice.
13. You know the uncomfortable feeling of having no reason to cancel a plan, but being overwhelmingly convinced that you must, so convinced that you are sure something catastrophic will happen if you do not cancel, so it’s like your karmic duty to cancel, basically.
14. …Even so, there’s a lot of anxiety leading up to the actual canceling of the plan.
15. …But then when you receive the green light from whoever you were canceling on that you are in the clear and they actually wanted to “stay home, too, lol” you are in a state of pure, unbelievable, jubilation. It’s like Christmas morning wrapped up in a surprise birthday party you didn’t have to plan for!
A relationship should better both of you, you have to each be complete on your own before you will ever be happy together. You don’t need a man to complete you, you want one who will compliment you.
2. You have your own life.
Well, don’t you? You have your own friends, your own family, your own job, so why do you need him? You control your own life. Live yours for YOU.
3. Because he can live without you.
Ever notice how you’ll drop everything for him but he won’t even give up a night out with the guys to hang out with you? Why should you make him your priority when you’re just his option? You shouldn’t. If a man truly wants to be with you, you will always be his top priority.
4. You lived your whole damn life without him before meeting him.
Didn’t you? Before you met him you were just fine, then he came and manipulated your world. Well if you survived without him before you met him, you’ll be just fine without him again.
5. Because needing isn’t the same thing as wanting.
You NEED to see him this weekend, or you WANT to see him this weekend? You NEED him in your life, or you WANT him in your life? You NEED to know what he’s thinking or how he is feeling about you, or you WANT to know? Figure out the difference and your outlook will change.
Usually not quite a daunting question upon first meeting someone. But in my case, it was one that was dreaded in every new encounter, afraid of their response. In even worse situations, no response was given at all. It became very apparent to me that this was a topic, though I had come to view as completely normal, was a rather extreme one to the average civilian. Most women wouldn’t sweetly smile and answer that they used to be an internationally recognized adult performer.
I entered the adult industry in March of 2010, only a few months after my ambitious move to Los Angeles. The initial purpose of my escape from the frozen tundra of the midwest was purely to pursue my already active fashion modeling career. Minneapolis just wasn’t enough for me. Not enough glitz. Not enough glam. Not enough stardom. I wanted more. Immediately upon my arrival, I worked nearly every day, working with a level of photographers I never had in my career. The images were flawless. I felt beautiful, like I was blossoming, my tendrils reaching for a bigger and better life.
The unfortunate but harsh reality of the nouveau modeling world is that there truly isn’t much money involved for the majority of us. The idea of “exposure” is a selling point for most photographers to ensure they get their images without paying a dime. And myself, like many other naive young ladies who are fresh off the bus, accept this mentality in hopes that the paying gigs will eventually come though. More exposure, more chance of a paid gig, right? There will always be fresh new faces. There will always be a hunger for exposure that overshadows the necessity for payment. Needless to say, the little lump of money I had reserved for my move out West had been sucked up more quickly than the cheap alcohol out of my glass. I felt defeated. Sure, I attended a few great parties, made some new connections, and procured a slightly inflated ego, but I had nothing to show for it except a book of beautiful images. The thought of returning to my hometown was absolutely wrenching to even consider. How could I fail? I was too proud to admit that I “failed”, like so many back home were certain I would do.
So what next? I could only be a couch surfer for so long. I didn’t want to be the girl relying on everyone else for free handouts and an ultimate pity party. The thought of having to be reliant on others made me feel so helpless, and it’s likely one of the most dreaded emotions for me to endure.
So in likely the most vulnerable time of whatever condition my mentality was in, I contacted a friend that I knew was in “the Biz”.
I knew nothing about porn, and frankly, hardly even found myself watching it. The thought of even putting myself in front of a camera, naked, was absolutely absurd; I had no idea what I was doing, but I was intrigued at the thought of creating some sort of potential income. And from her description of her successes thus far, it sounded all too good to be true. The acquaintance of mine and myself originally met back in Minnesota. She had relocated to Los Angeles not too long before I had made the plunge into the chaotic world of entertainment. She had already been newly involved at the time of our introduction, and I remember being fascinated about the subject entirely. Embarrassed and still very much in a sheepish manner, I prodded her mind about the lifestyle of hers that she portrayed to be so glamorous. The picture painted in my mind was a glorious one, filled with expensive handbags, designer shoes, constant adoration, and a seemingly effortless amount of work involved.
But of course my interest was piqued. It dazzled and sparkled in my young eyes in such a way that it remained in the back of my mind, stuck. That life could be mine. The fascination only grew after my move to the West Coast.
After I found myself strapped for cash, dreading an almost inevitable return the place I swore I never would, the memory of my interaction with this starlet came to mind. It seemed like the obvious solution to what I perceived as an impossibly difficult situation. With only a brief thought of the damaging effects (which at the time, didn’t consist of hardly any), my eyes were even more longingly searching for a route to achieve this grandiosity. A decision as final as becoming an adult performer was not taken as seriously as it should have been. But at the age of 20, long-term consequences weren’t something that necessarily first popped into my mind. I wanted immediate results; immediate ease from the financial burden that was ruling the path my life would follow. I wanted to feel admired. Loved. I was in Los Angeles; I wanted it all.
Nervously, I scrambled through my phone contact list, hoping that I had at least gotten her number. I had to have it. Behold, there it was, with the title ‘porn star’ in her contact description. Upon so frantically searching for a way to contact her I was suddenly frozen with the realization that I had absolutely no clue what to say to her. Um, hey, I’m the ridiculously awkward girl from Minnesota who picked your brain about porn as if I’d never even seen sex before in my entire life… How do I become like you?
Yeah, real smooth.
To my surprise, her response was actually quite endearing. She happened to be with her agent at that very moment, asked me to send her some photographs of myself, and moments later said that he wanted to meet me in person. My heart just about fell out of my butt – the whole interaction occurred in no more than 3 minutes, and I was already prepping to bolt out the door to head to the infamous Porn Valley, unaware that her agent happened to be one of the most reputable in the world.
I had no idea of what to expect. I didn’t imagine there’d be some sort of “audition” or anything to that extent. The idea was just too preposterous to be real.
Expecting some lavish Hollywood estate, my GPS brought me to a fairly unassuming apartment complex in the middle of suburbia. I was anxious. I could feel the hammering of my heart slamming against my chest. My palms were embarrassingly sweating, though I could likely blame it on the notorious valley heat. What was I even supposed to say to the guy? The journey from the car to his apartment door took entirely longer than it should have, but as I stood awkwardly at his door I knew I couldn’t stall any longer. I knocked, quietly, and then immediately panicked, worrying I hadn’t knocked hard enough. What if he did hear me and I knocked again and he thought I was an impatient brat? I waited. Longer. And longer still. My hand slowly crept up to knock again, and just as my knuckles nearly made contact with the door, it swung open, revealing something I’m not sure anyone could have expected.
What stood before me, well, I should say below me, was a rather stout man. And to be brutally frank, he was rather reminiscent of a troll. He gruffly invited me inside and sort of hobbled to what I perceived to be the living room, littered with dozens of copies of adult magazines and boxes stacked full of various XXX movies. I cleared myself a spot on the sofa and looked at him anxiously, still absolutely unsure of what to expect. And then the bombardment of blunt questions ensued.
“So, what’s your name? Andy said you wanted in the biz.”
“You’ll need a stage name. You live in LA?”
“You gotta car?”
“No. Well, kinda… my friend let’s me borrow theirs-“
“That’s fine. Okay. Get naked.”
A million scenarios ran through my mind in the instant after I registered what he had just said. The one that rang loudest was that please, for the love of all that is pure and holy, please God don’t make me have sex with this man. And I’m not even religious in the least. At all.
I slowly undressed, wishing I had worn something with a few less buttons so my fingers wouldn’t keep clumsily struggling with each one. I draped my clothing over the side of the sofa and stood there, somewhat trying to shield myself but also only giving it a halfhearted attempt as I knew there was no point. He asked me to turn around. Slightly bend over. Every request was in a gruff, monotone voice. Seemingly, he was not even phased that a woman was naked in front of him, her ass in the air. I was showing myself like a show dog to a man I had only met ten minutes prior.
“Good. No scars. No bad tattoos. You’re a little skinny but I guess it’s fine unless you’re a fuckin’ druggie. I don’t have time for that bullshit. You can put your clothes back on.” I reassured him of my lack of drug use as I hastily clothed myself, feeling all the more comfortable without being so completely exposed. The feeling of comfort was only temporary as even more questions began to follow.
“Do you do boys? Girls? Anal? BDSM? What about gang bangs? Interracial?”
I wrung my hands in my lap completely taken aback by his bluntness. I hadn’t even thought of these questions myself, even in my own perceived perversion. I couldn’t even look him in the eyes because of shyness, and I wasn’t sure if it was my own embarrassment, or my embarrassment for a man who was seemingly so unaffected with requesting a young female undressing herself, and what preference she had on what body parts entered her body. But even then, in my complete lack of understanding, I knew that his behavior likely would be mirrored by many others that I would surely meet in the near future. The immense detachment from sexuality blew my mind, even though the intent of the industry was to emote that very thing.
“So, we gotta get ya tested. It’s about a hundred bucks. You got that?”
I shook my head.
“Well then I guess I can cover it this time, we’ll just take it outta your first check. I’m gonna call a few people and maybe we can have you go on a couple go-see’s today. Lemme make some calls.”
He waddled back to what I assumed was his bedroom and shut the door, and I remained in silence, unsure of what to do with myself. My palms were still sweaty. Damn it. I felt stupid because I wasn’t being very talkative and didn’t really know much about the industry. I wanted more to offer to prove myself to this man that I just met. But for what reason? Why the need to impress some random person that I had only known to be a porn agent? The even brief notion of my worry of having “class” and “etiquette” completely blows my mind in hindsight. For fuck’s sake, I had just stripped myself nude and bent over in front of the man. The thought of myself having any sort of dignity at the point was long gone in almost a laughable obviousness. It was pathetic. But what was more pathetic was the fact that I felt like I truly didn’t care.
By the end of the day, my urine and blood samples were en route to some lab in the valley and I waited anxiously in the comfort of my bed. Not that I was anxious at the results of my test, but having being tested made the whole situation all the more real. I was just intrigued at the idea of possibly dabbling in the industry, but it seemed in less than 24 hours I was already on my way to be a full fledged porn star.