Take more advice. It will help you.

In the last week I have written three blog posts that my editor told me are stupid. The first one was about the Olympics. April Ross, a silver medalist in beach volleyball, said that she quit playing indoor volleyball because the practices were too regimented. That made me realize that there are some professional sports that are entrepreneurial. Beach volleyball is one. The coach works for the players, instead of the other way around, and the players drum up their own money instead of receiving a paycheck from the team.

My editor said, “I hope you have a great photo for this post, because your readers generally don’t respond with much gusto when you write about entrepreneurship.”

This is true. So then I wrote a post titled, “I hate USA Today and I don’t fucking care if you’re sick of me ranting about how women cannot have it all. I’m still writing about it because I’m so pissed.”

I thought my editor would tell me to make the title shorter. But instead he told me that the only good thing about the post was the title. “You’ve said all this before,” he told me. Which is true. So  I got rid of the whole post, but I just want to tell you that what really pisses me off is USA Today has a front page article titled Tech Moms Say They Have It All! and in the photo of women who are examples of this is a women who is totally obese, and I just want to say that USA Today insults my intelligence when they think I’m going to believe that she has it all.

My editor got nervous that I was going to have another week with no post. I think he is feeling a little responsible at this point, since he keeps telling me my posts suck. He reminded me that people like when I tell stories.  He tried to write me some helpful emails where he suggests topics but I hate all his topics. I mean, I was a beach volleyball player because I don’t like to work for anyone, and that is true for writing, too. I never think other peoples’ ideas are good. And even if I do, I can somehow do mental gymnastics to believe the ideas are mine. Melissa reminds me of this all the time.

Like, I told her I have an idea for how to use Pinterest to drive traffic to my blog. And she said, “Yeah. That’s a good idea. It’s the idea I suggested to you a month ago and you said it was a bad idea.”

“Oh,” I said. “Well, it’s a good idea now. So will you do it?”

And she did. She is used to me taking her ideas and saying they are mine.

So I told my editor that I’d write a story about what happened in the last week. I said, “I think I’ll write about how you had a nervous breakdown and I told you to go on meds.”

He said, “Okay.”

It’s unclear if it’s really okay because he told me that his wife is sick of me, which I can understand. I mean, I did, at one point, tell him to quit his day job and come work at my startup and then I declared, in our office, and on 20/20 (yes,  on 20/20) that he was overpaid and then I fired him. So of course his wife hates me. And I don’t think she wants to hear that I told him to go on meds, but really I care about him so much. I mean, look, he’s the guy who can edit a story about me getting beaten up without asking me if I’m okay. I really love that about him.

So what happened this week is that things really felt like they were going to hell for me. First, I wanted my kids to see the Olympics, but we don’t have a TV. At this point, I’m not sure why we don’t have a TV except that I’ve never had one. My parents were pretty much just too negligent to get a TV. They just didn’t realize that every other family had one and also they just left me and my brother a credit card in the drawer in the dining room to buy whatever we wanted but we never thought of buying appliances. Which is what I think TVs were called in the 70’s.

So we don’t have a TV at my house now, but I want my kids to understand the importance of aiming high and specializing, so I wanted them to see the Olympics. So the Farmer suggested that we take them to the bar.

“What? What are you talking about?”

He reminded me that in Wisconsin, you can take your kids to any bar. It’s like owning a gun. It’s your god-given libertarian right to mess up your life with firearms or alcohol or whatever you want. As long as you don’t need an abortion.

I told the Farmer no. And that he’s insane to think we are going to the bar. I mean, the next thing you know the kids will grow up and run a meth lab.

You know where we saw US women’s soccer win? The bar.

I told my kids no Sprite. I let them drink soda on special occasions but I didn’t want them to associate bars with great drinks. That’s where I drew the line.

I have to say though that the bar was great. It turns out that all the games the drunkards like are games that kids like. And all the food that goes well with beer also goes well with TV.

Which brings me back to my editor. He is having a breakdown and he told me he needed a coaching session.

I said, “Okay. I charge $250 an hour.”

I told him I was just kidding. I told him he gets the friends and family discount (free) even though he tells me all my posts suck.

(Wait. Please, before 500 of you email me asking for the friends and family discount, unless I have been to a bar mitzvah that you either chanted in or paid for then you don’t count as family or my friend and you don’t get a discount.)

So he tells me that he hates his job.

“How can you hate your job? You are a compliance enforcer, which is perfect for your controlling nature. And you have tons of time to edit my posts during the day.”

“I don’t try at anything I do.”

“Really? I thought the only time you did that was when you worked for me.”

“No. It’s just that you were the only boss who ever noticed.”

“Why don’t you try harder?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been telling myself I have to care, that I should be able to care. I’ve been telling myself not to check out just because I can.”

Now there is a big part of the conversation I am not writing, where he talks about his home life falling apart because, basically, he is an asshole to his wife, inadvertently, because he checks out every time marriage gets even a little bit hard.

So I say, “Why are you such an asshole to her?”

He says, “I don’t know. I’ve tried talk therapy. I know I don’t want to be like this. I want to care more. I love her so much.”

That’s my cue. I know that if you want to care and you can’t care it’s probably depression. So I told him to get medication. It turns out that I was not the first person to suggest medication. He had a mother with a mental disorder (example: she left him alone in the house for whole days at a time when he was four). And a lot of people with very poor parenting are chronically depressed.

So he finally took the advice he’d been getting for a while. And he says he is happier. And although he has not expressed that in the editing of my posts, I believe him. Because in five years I have never heard him so upbeat about himself or the future.

We have a rule with my blog posts that if they are not useful to the reader then they go in my diary, not on the blog. The blog is a conversation where I am useful to the reader in exchange for me having someone to talk to.

So my editor is going to ding this post if I don’t get useful right now: You have to take advice. A lot of people want to do things alone, they know everything. Other peoples’ ideas are stupid. But I have to tell you that the reason I do so well in life even though I’m not always conventional or tolerable or right. I take advice really well.

I let my editor cut my posts.

I let Melissa tell me how to use Pinterest.

I let the Farmer tell me when I’m acting like a rich-kid snot-face and I should get off my high horse.

And it’s not just me. Everyone can benefit from listening to other people’s advice. Look: My editor is happy and he’s letting me run my post.



96 replies
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  1. JD
    JD says:

    I admire Penelope (and her editor) for having the pluck to use the topic of women being too fat as a magnet that is just as strong as Pinterest in terms of visits to her site now and in the future. You get researchers on numerous topics, along with ordinary web surfers, who are into topics like obesity, women’s health, Olympics, USA Today, etc.

    Hats off, seriously. You are one smart chick.

  2. malissa
    malissa says:

    First and foremost i often read and am inspired by your blog. You motivate me to write more and put more effort into my own blog which i just started named Girls in Green. As a female Combat Engineer officer in the US Army, I battle daily to stay ahead of my male counterparts and at the top of my own game. My blog discusses obstacles many females in the military face, ways to overcome them and of course highlights some female role models as inspiration.
    This specific post interested me because last week I was given some advice that I hesitated to take. As a company executive officer, my job is to run operations and spearhead all programs within the company. With a new commander coming in, i am busy facilitating her change of command inventories to account for property. Last week, myself and thr new commander who is a strong willed female butt heads. I was trying to get ahead of the game to speed up the inventory process and i misunderstood her orders. She pulled me aside later in the day and told me that although it is good that i am ahead of her i need to start verifying and pull back just a little to make sure she and I are on board. Unfortunately the way she presented this was in the form of an analogy comparing me to an overzealous puppy which upset me a little. After a day or two of introspection I’ve rethought about the situation and feel that heeding her advice for verification is a great answer. My stubbornness could not understand this at first, but after reading your blog i feel we do benefit from the advice of our superiors and peers.
    From one stubborn mule to her inspiration, thank you for the post and i hope you get the opportunity one day to check out my own blog!
    Very respectfully,

  3. Zavani
    Zavani says:

    Dear ms.trunk, I am not going to lie. I find your blog unless and a waste of time. Honestly I believe you do it as an excuse so you can rant on about bs. True be told the only reason I am even posting a comment is because my teacher is making me. Any way let’s get back to topic, the topic of “taking more advice. It will help you”. You topic was about advice; however all you did was trail off into your own little stories. If you’re going to post something about advice then actually give some advice. All in all, sorry for being rude and wasting everyone time, I mean no real harm just doing what was assign to me.

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