Book Proposal

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Represented by: Priya Doraswamy – Lotus Lane Literary  

Synopsis: How I Lost All My Fucks is a one-month experience that will have the reader losing all theirs –

Giving a fuck is excessive concern to the point of deviating from authenticity; when we hide important parts of ourselves, our opinions, feelings, whatever; usually to avoid a reaction from another person.  Reactions can lead to change, to situations and Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 6.02.16 PMrelationships morphing, which can be scary.  Or, it can be wonderful. But it will be real.”

I tell my fuckfull to fuckless tale with childhood memories, shenanigan-filled reveries, and illustrations – then I hand it over to the reader.  One month of Fuckless Adventures and a daily meditation practice (with a grounded and irreverent how-to) will have them well their way to fucklessness. 

The Approach: Irreverence coupled with sincerity.  It’s cheeky, for sure, and I do think that serious issues can be tackled very effectively in light-hearted ways – but I am also incredibly passionate about the concepts, and show my own vulnerability in HILAMF with very personal stories.  The prologue will ask the reader to take this silliness seriously – to be serious about this getting light-hearted business.

Illustrations help tell my fuckless tale in Part 1 (10 full-page).  An illustration and a quote will be on each spread in the Meditation Challenge, and accent drawings will be throughout the book.  Part II’s Fuckless Adventures (#fucklessadventures) will have readers committing random acts of kindness, giving long overdue apologies, and singing from the bottom of their very tippy toes!  This box-pushing will happen simultaneously with Part III, a 30-day meditation challenge that puts the reader in a reflective state.  It’s a mindfulness one – two – PUNCH!

Need for This Book: Even though meditation and mindfulness have gone mainstream with coverage from most major publications, books on the topics are generally covered from a new-agey perspective that turns off a lot of potential readers.  

fuck storm
The gaining of fucks.  This is the first of 5 paintings in a series to fucklessness.

HILAMF covers these topics with humor and stories that people can relate to.
It also is very hands-on, directly showing readers how to actively apply the concepts.  When I started studying mindfulness 14 years ago I was often frustrated by the big gap between reading about concepts and the actuality of applying them to messy life.  By the end of the HILAMF experience, the reader will be well on their way to actually being fuckless (living with inner-direction, vulnerability, and mindfulness) rather than just having been introduced to the ideas.

Audience: Anyone interested in mindfulness who also has an affinity for edginess.  People who struggle with people-pleasing tendencies; especially caretakers, young people, and those who are defined by jobs they don’t even like.  Also folks attracted to adventure and silliness, as well as those who wish to enjoy such things, but are scared/giving too many fucks.

About the Author: I had a storied childhood in Alaska, Washington, and Northern California before losing my mother to suicide at fourteen years old.  As an adult I faced three lay-offs in the five years after the recession began, followed by a serious health crisis.

Dealing with all of these events led to lots of shenanigans, risky choices, a brief stint in jail, and, eventually, reflection and lessons learned.  

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 1.31.02 PM
C’est moi!

I’ve been practicing meditation for fourteen years, and have studied mindfulness and the application of eastern philosophies for the same amount of time.

Platform: I’ve written for a variety of popular periodicals, including: Mind Body Green, Tiny Buddha, Lifehack, Teen Vogue, and Elephant Journal.  My pieces have been very well-received and shared thousands of times.

 

Competing Titles:
Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way (John C. Parkin, Hay House): They are both profanity-laced and Tao-inspired.  I have a digital relationship with John, and have sent him my writings sporadically over the years – he’s been very encouraging.  He’s a fan of HILAMF and is happy to write a blurb.

ill lotus
The thing about meditation is that you become more and more YOU. – David Lynch

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck (Sarah Knight, Hatchette Book Group): A parody of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, this book also spreads the word of fucklessness.  HILAMF takes a more spiritual route and digs deeper, then puts the reader in the driver’s seat.

 

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” (Brene Brown, Penguin): Both books (and her following books) delve into inner-direction, vulnerability, and shame.

Wreck this Journal (Keri Smith, Penguin): WTJ is a guided journal that aims to help the reader open up to their full creative ability, and to alter the book and make it their own.  HILAMF does something similar with its journaling aspects throughout the book as well as the drawing/pasting elements in Part II.  Both books are meant to be kept on hand.  I’d also like to have a doodle-friendly cover, encouraging readers to bust out their markers.

Chapter Outline:
Introduction: What the heck do you mean, sass mouth?
Goes into what is meant by “losing your fucks” through examples of giving too many fucks, and then touches on what an inner-directed life (the opposite of giving too many fucks) is like.ill drag

Part 1, Chapter 1: How did I even get so many fucks?
Goes into how I, the author, amassed so many fucks: a few stories from childhood, one from a slumber party, one with teenage rebellious debauchery, and ends with vocational fuckage.  

Journaling starts at the end of Part I and tackles getting the reader to acknowledge their fucks. (Where they lack inner-direction and why/where it started.)

Part 1, Chapter 2: When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.
Covers the part of my life that made me see the err in my ways.  Going through the lay-offs, the shame I felt around it, how other people saw me differently – and how that last bit gave me the ability to lose all my fucks.  

How I did something brave and was met with acceptance and interest – and a story from my time in jail that reflected the experience.  Ends with a touching story from college about passing notes that shows beauty in embracing vulnerability/fucklessness.

Chapter 2’s journaling gets the reader to imagine what a fuckless life would look like – for them specifically.  

Part 1, Chapter 3: A Fuckless Life
Talks about embracing inner-direction and what that looks like; not concerning oneself with others’ thoughts, surrounding yourself with uplifting people, not seeking approval, self-love, and learning to still the mind to effectively change mental constructs (like giving too many fucks).

ill frongPart 3’s journaling asks the reader/writer to jot down who they’ve spent time with and how they felt afterward.

Part II: Fuckless Adventures
These adventures aim to get the reader to lose all their fucks in various acts that involve mindfulness, silliness, kindness, and that encourage them to embrace their wonderfully weird side.  Each challenge has an explanation, room to write the adventure’s story, and space to draw or paste a picture it.  The goal is to complete all twenty adventures by the end of the 30-day meditation challenge.  #FucklessAdventures will be encouraged on social media.

Part III: Meditate to Give Less Fucks
Part III of HILAMF is a 30-day meditation challenge.  It starts out with a very grounded how-to on meditation that also goes into what to expect from the experience.  Every day of the challenge has a meditation goal and room for a short journal entry.  Each 3-day page spread has a quote about meditation and an illustration.  Active meditation requests grow over the 30 days, eventually encouraging readers to go about their entire day in a mindful state.

Sample Chapters

Introduction: What the heck do you mean, sass mouth?

I remember coming across a cartoon in my Facebook feed with a guy floating away with a bunch of balloons and flipping off a crowd below.  The caption said something like, everyone wants to be liked and accepted, but not Tim, Tim doesn’t give a fuck.  

 

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While meditating we are simply seeing what the mind has been doing all along. – Alan Lokos

“Damn”, I thought, “I wish I was more like Tim”.  That was the first time that I realized I was giving too many fucks.  At the time I was working 60+ hours per week for less than I could survive on.  I had been promised that my pay would increase quickly and I’d have the ability and option to buy into the business.  It had been months of no change, and I hadn’t brought it up.

 

I really loved the work and wanted to keep doing it.  I didn’t want the owners to think I was greedy.  I was afraid they’d fire me.  I didn’t have the ability to even talk about the situation without crying.  I was filled with shame and fear of others’ thoughts and reactions.  I was giving far too many fucks.

Dating in my twenties is another great example of excessive fuck-giving.  (Oh that sounded dirty!)  I cared so much about what those narcissistic douchnozzles thought of me that I would mold my personality to be someone I imagined they would like.  

I wore very uncomfortable shoes.  I laughed at jokes that were offensive.  I faked orgasms.  I pretended to enjoy video game watching.  I pretended to like sports bars.  (Gawwwd, I hate sports bars.)  I gave so many fucks about what those dudes thought of me that I gave them their very own pedestals, positioning myself in a way that I could only be looked down upon.

Basically giving too many fucks is when we give our power up to others.  When we place our value in others’ opinions.  When our actions are dictated by fear of others’ reactions.  ill baloonWhen we decide that their opinions mean more than our desires.  

Giving a fuck isn’t the same thing as caring.  Caring is lovely.  Caring feels good, like it comes from love.  Giving a fuck feels shitty, like running scared.

Giving a fuck is excessive concern to the point of deviating from authenticity.  When we hide important parts of ourselves, our opinions, feelings, whatever; usually to avoid reactions from other people.  Reactions can lead to change, reactions can lead to situations and relationships morphing – which can be scary.  Or wonderful.

But real.

It doesn’t have to be specific people, but society as a whole, that we give too many fucks about fitting into.  Or, sometimes it flips, and giving too many fucks can look like devoting hours and days to analyzing and/or judging others’ lives rather than looking at our own.

We can also give too many fucks about our own story.  We can retell ourselves stories about who we are, why we are the way we are, how we’ve been victimized, how we’ve messed up over and over, how we’re better than others, blah, blah, blah.  It’s so dull, and it’s a lie.  We are more than our pasts, and when we sit in our old stories we totally miss out on the present moment – which is creating our future.

What happens when you give up all your fucks is that you become you.  The real, totally authentic, likely freak-flag flying, really you, you.  ill cloud

You gain the ability to center within yourself, rather than bouncing off of others’ desires, opinions, and judgements.  You become Self-centered, in a good way.

 

Chapter 1: How Did I Even Get So Many Fucks?

I think I can remember the first time it happened.  I was around 5 and at the beach with family and friends.  I was cold.  I didn’t like my lunch or something.  Everyone was giving my adorable 3-year-old sister all the attention.  I felt invisible.  So I pouted and cried and tried to get some attention that way, as kids do.  An older kid, maybe 9, came up to me.  “No one will like you if you act upset like this”, she said, looking at me pointedly, then walked away.

I never forgot that advice, that it wasn’t okay to get upset in front of other people.  I took it very strongly to heart when I was younger.  I always tried to be happy-seeming, no matter what was happening in my life.  Sometimes it was actually a helpful coping mechanism, infusing me with optimism, and making the fake happy become real.  Other times it just made me look fake, or like a robot, probably.  I felt numb.

“Let’s play a game where we all tell each other something we don’t like about them”, a fellow 17-year-old party goer said as an Empire Records VHS played in the background.  Everyone looked around nervously, but none of us objected.  “Meghan, let’s start with you,” she said, her eyes narrowing, “sometimes it’s obnoxious to be around someone who’s happy all the time”.

I didn’t say anything.  I just laughed nervously whilst staring at the ground, and then the awful game moved on to someone else.  I went and vomited up the slumber party snacks, then looked at myself in the mirror, too numb to be amused at the irony.  My mother had committed suicide three years prior, and I was anything but “happy all the time”.  I gave many, many, many fucks about having people like me though; and I thought seeming happy was how to do it.

Of course I didn’t have that kind of insight at the time, as I hadn’t reflected on any of this.  I was more into diet soda and Cosmopolitan magazine.  

My behavior was very subconscious, I had no clue I was doing it.  But I instinctively knew I didn’t want to be on the outside, and thought that that’s where I’d be if I showed my turbulent emotions.

It’s like we’ve been taught that there’s this box.  We all live in the box, and there are rules you have to follow in order to stay in this box.  People have to like you.  You have to dress right.  You have to behave in a very specific way.  You have to have your shit together.  People have to like you.  It’s okay to wonder about existence, as long as it’s within an accepted religion, but don’t talk about it.  Money will rule your life – but again, you must never talk about it.   And one more time – people have to like you.

When we feel like we are moving towards the edge of the box, that we’re not accepted – people often wig out.   Aware of it or not, we do what we think will keep us safe in the box, with the herd.  We get reactionary.  We get defensive.  We people-please.  We plea.  We retaliate.  We try to be normal.  To blend in.

I’m left-handed.  I remember the upset look on my teacher’s face as I grabbed the crayon with the wrong hand and happily started coloring.  She tried to get me to use my right hand for awhile, but I couldn’t do it right.  I felt like such a disappointment.

I watched Miss America when I was 6.  That’s when I realized that my body was all wrong.  I went upstairs to my room and looked in the mirror.  My belly was protruding, and my chest was flat, when those pretty ladies had protruding chests and flat bellies.  I was all upside-down, and I was all wrong.

They are such seemingly teeny tiny silly experiences, yet they influence so many later ones.  And I’m not the only one!  This is normal!  Everyone has little blips of time that wind up being major contributors to mental constructs; how we think, view the world, and ourselves.  (It makes me so nervous to speak to children.  I’m always afraid I’m going to fuck them up in some tiny way!)

For most people the height of giving fucks is during the teenage years.  I remember one specific night that was the epitome of giving fucks about others’ approval.  It wasn’t that long after that awful slumber party game, but we had discovered alcohol and sex, and everything had changed:  

I hated the smell of regurgitated popcorn.  I wiped my mouth with one hand and flushed the toilet with the other in one fluid, practiced, motion.  Standing up, I stared at the pieces of Flav-a-Col covered kernels swirling down the bowl.  I flushed again, remembering a recent conversation with my boss.

“I think Olivia is bulimic”, she had told me, arms crossed around her leather bustier.  (Mad style for small town Alaska.)  “I keep finding popcorn vomit in the ladies’ room.”

“She’s not.”  My co-worker/buddy was younger and dubbed Skin and Bones around the time the rest of us started to get boobs.  She had the opposite complex, but a healthy relationship with food.  “It’s probably a customer.  We have a lot of regulars”, I had answered, nervously laughing.

The last bits of popcorn cleared away and I exited the stall and scrubbed my hands fiercely.  Before drying my hands I wiped the towel across my tongue and cringed.  Paper towel tastes as bad as vomit.

I walked back out to the ticket booth.  The first showing of the night was about to wrap up, and a flow of customers would arrive for the 9 o’clock movie in a few minutes.  Everyone was outside smoking.  I glared at my boss’ back.

She thinks I’m too fat to have an eating disorder.  She’s right.  I can’t even have an eating disorder correctly.  

Thirty minutes later I counted the pennies in the register’s slot meant for hundred dollar bills.  Four.  A man walked up.  

“One adult for Titanic, please.”

I pressed the No Sale button three times, and handed him a receipt with a bunch of zeros on it.  They never looked.  

“Movie’s downstairs, either door.  Previews just started.  Enjoy the show.”

I moved another penny to the hundred slot.  Five times $8 per un-rang ticket, 40 bucks.  It was a slow shift, but it’d be enough to pay for our booze.  

What had happened to me?  I recalled a time ten years prior when someone wanted to sneak snacks into a movie and I wouldn’t let them.  

I was such a prude.  I’m much cooler now.  

A friend met me outside when I was done and we took off to find a bum to buy us booze.  We were really into something called 99 Bananas, it was 99 proof, which is what we were all about, a high proof.  It vaguely tasted like banana flavored Runts, but mostly it just really burned.  

The first homeless fellow took the twenty and didn’t come back.  My friend, a big football playing gentleman, waited outside the store the second time and we had odious spirits in our sweet little hands.

An hour later the recording artist Nelly played loud at a friend’s house.  (Band-aid, not Furtado.)  Her parents were out of town.  We all waited for Napster to play a gutteral sound from the song, then all pounded a shot at the same time and started awkwardly dancing around while clutching our burning throats, a bunch of virgins in Playboy Bunny t-shirts trying to be sexy.

Four hours later I got down on my knees, as requested.  I didn’t know him very well, but everyone liked him.  I knew that.  It was only my second attempt at giving a blowjob.  Again, I felt penis slide against the inside of the braces on my molars.  He yelped in pain and took it out of my mouth, finished himself off (getting some my face), then walked out of the bathroom laughing.

He wound up having a girlfriend too, my attempt at people-pleasing definitely backfired on that one.  I remember everyone staring at me in the lunchroom that Monday, just like a scene from Mean Girls, but without Mrs. Norberry’s noble guidance.

***

Working with marketing clients is another way I gained bunches of fucks.  Especially in the sales jobs, oooh boy!  Ass-kissing is not a great way to cultivate inner direction.  I also love to organize fundraisers for charity, it’s so much fun – but involves sooo much begging for donations.

Being a waitress for so long, where being disliked meant no tip, also couldn’t have helped.  My liberal ass once did an impression of Sarah Palin for a table of cheering supporters in an Alaskan restaurant.  It felt even lower than my college job at a theme restaurant, where I had to line dance in the aisles twice an hour.  (And the rounds of Howdy Happy Birthday, gah!)

From humiliating jobs, to, well, humiliating jobs, we all have gained too many fucks in our own special ways: by society telling us that we should be a certain way, by thinking we are too different, comparing ourselves to others (favorably or unfavorably), or by believing our critics and ignoring our supporters.

Whether we realize it or not – these fucks pile up.  We become someone who gives far too many fucks.

Journal Part I – Gets the reader to acknowledge their fucks

  • When was the first time you recall giving a fuck?  What happened?
  • Do you still give a fuck about it?  Do you think or act a certain way because of it?
  • Who do you think of when you think of ‘the box’? (Pg. 5) Who are your wardens of judginess?  Your parents?  Your boss?  That bitch from the fifth grade?
  • Do you doing anything that you otherwise wouldn’t, or refrain from things that you want to do, because of what those wardens may think, say, or do?
  • List of Fucks: Notice when you give a fuck about something and jot it here, “Didn’t put on blue sweater because Franky said it’s ugly”, “Didn’t try out for play because my wife would have teased me”, “Skipped going blonde because my mom said only hussies bleach their hair”, etc.  Keep this book handy so you can add fucks as those fuckers happen.

 

Chapter 2 – When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose.

I’ve been through three totally impersonal lay-offs.  I know how that sounds.  If someone said that to me ten years ago I’d have thought, “sounds like a personal problem to me”.  

The 90’s cult flick Office Space does the process justice.  It starts with a team meeting, an “All Hands” meeting, as many corporations refer to them.  The leader talks about changes in the company, a restructuring of responsibility.  You are told there’s no reason to panic.

Then come The Bobs.  Efficiency experts.  You are told to explain your daily responsibilities and how they fit into the company’s process.  You are interviewing not only to keep your job, but for the job’s very existence.  They are friendly, they tell you not to worry.  But then the malignant Friday afternoon meetings start.

In late 2007 the office I worked in wound up being fully shut down in one of these “corporate restructures”.  In 2010 my position was eliminated, and the responsibilities were added to another position that paid less.  Then in 2012 the office I was managing just went out of business, no Bobs required.  The recession got me real good.

I don’t remember how I explained my experiences at the time, but I know that it seemed like everyone was thinking, “that Meghan sure can’t hold down a job”, and a few people were direct about this stance, or just really loud talkers.  

I didn’t ever stand up for myself or confront anyone.  I know that I felt shame around it, and I’m sure that it showed.  I felt like I deserved it somehow.

It didn’t help that I was a total party girl during those years.  Well, that’s an exaggeration.  I was a party girl in college, I rocked a keg stand and was a flip-cup queen.  By the first lay off I was 25, and had moved on to just being really into really good beer, and a bit of a barfly.  

I also made risky decisions.  I had a dramatic dating life.  I got stupidly got a DUI (resulting in a stay in jail, I’ll fill you in on that later).  I very publicly failed at starting my dream business via crowdfunding in a small town.  I moved to Portland even though I had been warned about the dicey job market.  

It was that last risky decision that brought clarity.  I had started a creative services business that went alright, until it didn’t.  Maybe it was just some beginner’s luck, but it dried up fast, then I had two clients bail the same week that rent was due.  

It was an awful situation, one that was easily remedied with a good temp agency soon after, but I hadn’t discovered them yet, and had sent out around 70 cover letters to radio silence, nary even an interview – the job sitch in Portlandia is real.  

I had either borrowed, or asked to borrow, money from everyone I was close to.  I felt like everyone I knew thought I sucked, BIG time.  And some did.  (And many didn’t, but they were a lot harder for me to see at the time.)

That’s where the clarity came in.  I had been working so hard my whole life to gain the approval of everyone I knew, and I realized that I just didn’t have it.  Maybe I had never had it – but it definitely wasn’t mine anymore, and it probably wasn’t ever going to be mine – so fuck it.  

I decided it was time to do something about giving too many fucks.  I had been quietly writing a blog: Halcyon Musings – Spirituality with a Healthy Dose of Irreverence.  I was both ashamed and proud of it in equal measure.  It was something I felt would get me kicked out of the proverbial box.  It was also something that made my heart sing.

So I stopped using a pen name, started getting published, and began talking about spiritual and philosophical topics with others; with the new people that flowed into my life after the others exited.  

I was shocked at what I found – acceptance and interest.  

***

In Alaska there is a mandatory minimum for getting a DUI, a few days in jail.  That experience also taught me a lot about what can happen when you drop the fucks and are totally authentic:

I remember readjusting in the metal bunk, smashing my funny bone on a locker in the process. I tried not to call out, and looked to my pillow for solace, then remembered it’s extremely used condition. I flopped my head on the cot and remembered the day’s events.

I had spent seven excruciating hours alone in a room with a toilet and a camera, discovering my body’s reaction to prison was not only to develop a fever, but to overcome the hormones of Depo, delivering my first period in years. Eventually a guard came and got me.  

He escorted me to a room where my outfit changed from orange to blue, but not without enduring the most demeaning ten minutes of my life. They discovered no drugs in my bumhole, and no used sports bra big enough for these ta-tas.

Freshly suited up, they walked me past two port-a-potties to a tent-like structure. I walked into a few women watching TV. One snarled, “there’s no fucking room”. An older lady, who happened to be an old advertising client, waved the woman off and walked me to my bunk, even showing me how to tie the sheet.

As soon as she went back to her spot in front of the TV I felt the conversation move towards me, but without including me. You know what feeling? Suddenly everyone in the tent seemed to ignoring me, yet talking directly to me, at the same time.

They talked about the other girls dorm, and how mean they were to new inmates, telling awful stories. I was pretending not to listen when a woman yelled directly at me, “Who cares how new people are treated? I hope your four days are fucking hell, white bitch!”.

Fuuuuuckyballs. Just be cool.

I took my nose out of the book I was pretending to read and said languidly, “I’m sorry, were you fucking with me and I wasn’t paying attention?”, looking her right in the eye.

She let out a little snort, and said, “she’s cool”.  Success!!  I turned my attention downwards—somehow I had managed to not pee myself. Double success!  (I still can’t believe this here dork pretended to be so brave and cool!)  The conversations went back to normal volumes and gratefully had nothing to do with me.

In any group of humans there is usually at least one person born feeling like “the leader of the pack”. This tent definitely had one – the one who had nearly made me whiz my unflattering pants. When she spoke, which she did, incessantly and abrasively; the majority of the other girls turned and listened as if these words could change their entire lives’ trajectory. After another girl said something she’d look back to the leader for approval.

I continued to listen.  These ladies were much, much, rougher than I.  They yelled and talked about “beating ass”, while punching random things for emphasis.  I like yoga, inspirational anything, and get really upset when I encounter even fictional violence.  

I felt very out of place, and didn’t want to belong; but also wanted to be in the experience I was in.  You know? If you’re going to be somewhere – be there.  I adjusted in my bunk again, trying to look involved.

After the conversation moved onto the drug Oxy, specifically the intricacies and impossibilities of smoking it from a toaster, I realized I really didn’t have anything to contribute. I put my face to my elbow and tried to meditate. A quiet, centered peace was not in the cards for me that evening. I kept having panicked thoughts about prison scenes in movies, worries about what everyone in my small hometown was thinking of me being there, and serious concern about what that gross pillow had seen.

I eventually dozed for a bit, then awoke to a light on my face. Seconds later a prison guard was being referred to as “little princess” and his flashlight had gone from counting gals in bunks to the spazzy motions of a boy happy to have the girls notice him. I wondered what this guy’s life was like outside of the prison, since he seemed to really enjoy this obviously degrading attention.  “You know you love me” cooed The Leader as the guard suddenly remembered what he was doing…”eight, nine, ten”.

I awoke again with the sense that people were talking about me…to me? To me. It was time for breakfast. It’s mandatory, they let me know. I slipped on my prison-given socks, put my feet into the Ked’s looking appointed shoes, and tied my hair into a knot. We moved out of the tent into slightly fresher air, tinged with the port-a-potty scent.

We were corralled into the next barricaded area where I saw a girl I knew from grade school. Still the prettiest. Still the meanest. Owning it. She even still had a gaggle of minions following her around, just like in middle school. I thought about the personalities that thrive behind bars, and wondered what other bullies I went to school with were up to.

We got back to the tent after a meal I can’t even describe (“meat” surprise?) that left me both hungry and bloated.  I crawled back into my bunk and continued to observe the relationships going on with these women and The Outside. There was a lot of crying, and yelling.

One woman who spoke of violence even more than the others was on the phone with her girlfriend much of the time. The inmate’s girlfriend had cheated on her, and with a man. She screamed about “dirty dick”, while visibly crying but not letting it become audible.

A woman in her mid-twenties spoke to her boyfriend with tears streaming down her face, holding the phone with a tight desperation. She later told me she was a heroin addict as a teen, but had cleaned up years ago and had since started a family.  She forgot to report a non-narcotic medication to her parole officer following an awful miscarriage, and for that she was sentenced to seven months time.

They talked to each other. About the fights they’ve been in. The drug busts. How they miss drugs. What they’ve done to get drugs. Who they’ve harmed, or stolen from. The children they couldn’t care for. The abuse they’d inflicted and endured.   

I wondered what could happen if someone were to convince them that they can have better.  That they deserve better. That being angry at the world only makes it feel like the world is angry at you.

I was also afraid of drawing attention to myself and getting my ass kicked, or my glasses broken, and you know, giving fucks in general.

So I behaved as a polite peanut gallery; sometimes adding to whatnot, and laughing when appropriate, but mainly I just pretended to sleep.  Three days went by like this, attempting to hide in plain sight.

But bit-by-bit, I got to know those women and by the last night I had let my walls down, I stopped giving any fucks. As I let my unguarded personality out, the behavior was reciprocated.  As we communicated without fear of our differences we bonded over the experience that we were sharing. Let me tell you, being incarcerated is one hell of an experience to share.  Lots of facets in that one!

Angry yelling turned into straight up giggling. About jail, about life, about it all.  Giggling with women whom I had deemed terrifying on first impression.  That last night I finally felt comfortable enough to tell some random story involving a golf cart, ’shrooms, and Vegas. The especially violent woman turned to me after and said, “Seriously?  You’re fuckin’ funny? You’ve been fuckin’ funny this whole time and weren’t fuckin’ talking? Daaaaaamn, dude, not cool!”.

I laughed and wondered what the experience would have held had I given up my fucks sooner. When my time was up I said, “I’ll miss you guys, surprisingly…” I nearly reached out for hugs—seriously.

***

Letting go of giving fucks has worked out very well for me anytime I’ve been brave enough to do so.  Employers have suddenly looked at me with more respect.  Situations that needed to end, did.  Guys I had crushed on suddenly changed their minds about me, not that I cared anymore at that point.  

People respect authenticity, and we want to be around it.  It’s comforting to be around someone who gives no fucks.  Bravery is contagious.

Which brings me to another story, University of Las Vegas, Nevada, circa 2003:

It was the last day of a Comparative World Religion class.  I remember disliking the teacher, she had a very, aren’t they silly? attitude about everything we covered.  She was Christian, which she very obviously thought was the only “logical answer”.

It was a small class of around twelve; we bonded over sharing personal views on the big everything, and rolling our eyes at this somehow narrow-minded world religion teacher.  I had a buddy in that class, Laura, who had taken many philosophy classes with me.

We both held/hold the belief that all religions are right, and all religions are wrong.  We agreed that all of these philosophies must stem from the same basic insights, and we’d try to find the cords that connected them all.  It was good times.

There was a guy in the class that I thought was just amazing.  He was very cute, but mainly I loved how he spoke.  It captured me like I’d never experienced.  He was very passionate, yet super laid-back.  I could tell that he really cared about everything he spoke of, but it was with an easy detachment.  I found him fascinating.

I wasn’t interested in him in that way because he had a girlfriend, whom he spoke about often…in his beautiful relaxed-yet-zealous fashion.  I wanted him to know what I thought about him.  I wanted to make sure that he was aware of this beauty he held.  What if no one had ever told him?

I wrote him a note that summed it up, and near the end of class I passed it to him.  I remember blushing like crazy.  It was anonymous, and I wasn’t hitting on him or anything, but I felt embarrassed nonetheless.

As I sat there blushing and trying not to look at him someone tapped my shoulder and handed me a note.  I wish I still had it.  I have to paraphrase a ten year old memory here, but it went something like:

I don’t want to sound, for lack of a better word, “gay” or anything…I’m not hitting on you.  But you hold such a beautiful grace, you are truly radiant.  I just wanted you to know.

I was stunned.  Who gave that to me?  It was from a woman, ’cause of the gay thing.  It wasn’t from the man of calm fervor.  My friend Laura liked girls, was it from her?  It didn’t sound like her.

I wrote her a note: I just got the most beautifully flattering note – did you write me that amazing compliment?

She looked over at me with bemusement and jotted: No dude, I know you’re strictly dickly…

Now at least a third of the room was in on this flattering note confusion, I don’t know who the man of cool ardor told.  There was a buzz in the room, like a silent nervous giggle.

As I got up to leave at the end of class I spontaneously made eye contact with a girl in the back who immediately started laughing.

“Thank you!” I called to her.

“Haha, you’re welcome!”  She hurried out.

Laura and I walked out of the class, and I scanned the hall for Mister Intense Yet Happily Chill.  I found him leaning against the wall, rereading the note and smiling to himself.  Blushing.

***

What if I had given too many fucks to pass that note?  I nearly did.  I was afraid he’d figure out it was me; it was such a small class.  But I dropped my fucks and did it anyway, leaving me with a really beautiful memory and a wonderful compliment to remember whenever I feel poopy.

I recalled what had happened in jail, I recalled the passing notes experience, and all of the other seemingly small experiences where I had let go and just did what I wanted regardless of what other people thought.  

It seemed that not giving any fucks was the way to go, especially since the objective of giving fucks – gaining the approval of others – seemed lost and hopeless.  I was no longer in the box.  I felt unredeemable, so I might as well do what I want.

 

Part 2 Journaling – Imagining fucklessness

  • What do others judge you for?  What are your big so called fuck-ups?
  • Have you ever not given a fuck, and just did what you wanted?  (Maybe because no wardens were present?  Or while travelling?  Or at another point in your life?)
  • How did it feel?  What did you do?
  • Fuckless List: Write down everything you’d do if the wardens vanished and you’d never be judged for it.  Would you dress differently?  Would you go to a fetish conference?  Would you order an appletini instead of a beer?  Hang on to this book so you can capture urges as they appear.

 

 

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