Melissa says to me, “The reason you’re not writing is because you’re hiding. And if you hide something from blog readers you can’t cope. So you don’t write.”
I tell Melissa, “If you’re going to move to New York then David should put some of his huge salary in your bank account.”
Melissa says, “Don’t change the subject when you can’t face reality.”
I say, “You shouldn’t relocate for a boyfriend to a city where he is making a boatload and you’re not.”
“You should pay me more.”
“Yeah. I should make ten million dollars a day and pay you five.”
“You can pay me from your new startup.”
“No. Really. It’s a real company. I can’t put you on the P&L when there are investors. There is no line on the P&L for Penelope’s friend.”
“I can tell you’re going to put this conversation on the blog. If you’re going to complain about David not giving me money, don’t use David’s name.”
“I’m using his name. He’s an ISTJ. He doesn’t care about me using his name. He just cares that he’s right. So I’ll just tell everyone: David is smart. He is right all the time because when he isn’t going to be right, he doesn’t talk.”
“Can you delete that last part, about not talking?”
There is a conversation intermission where Melissa sends me links like the one about the Jewish intellectual writing about the sociopolitics inside the state prison where he’s locked up. Then I talk on the phone to people who I am probably late for. But people who know me know that I am late for lots of calls, and maybe they don’t notice anymore.
Then there’s a break for me to eat some candy out of my kids’ Halloween candy which I bought from them, in October, because candy is evil. I stashed it and forgot about it. But I just found it and I’m working on the Twizzlers and then going to Snickers.
Melissa is not eating. She doesn’t eat. She is anorexic in a high functioning way. Like a high-functioning alcoholic. If you saw her, she would eat. Like, if you saw an alcoholic, they’d drink lemonade, straight up.
Melissa calls me later to bug me about David’s name on the blog.
I say, “I have to use David’s name because I’m using Roger’s name.”
“The guy advising the startup I’m joining.”
“I thought you can’t write about the startup.”
I get off the phone. I cannot talk about the startup with Melissa because she is really excited to work there and then I get nervous it’s going to be another case of all my friends at one startup and me having a nervous breakdown that we are out of funding and my friends are going to lose their jobs and starve.
The startup is a secret because I’m not really working there yet, and no one is going to want their name on this blog, except for Roger.
In our first conversation he brought up the Menendez trial.
I said, “That’s my favorite trial!”
Did you read about it? It’s from the 90s. Here’s a link. Two boys killed their parents. I impress Roger with my knowledge of the case and say, “I thought the child abuse claim was really persuasive when the boys said they gave their dad cinnamon to eat becuase it changes the taste of semen.”
It turns out that Roger testified at the trial. He says the dad really was the worst person he ever met.
Roger has principles. Good. That’s important if I’m joining the company. Also, Roger is 60something with a young daughter and I expect him to be married to a 20something model, but he’s married to a 49something entrepreneur. He’ll be good for me.
I ask Ed, an investor from Brazen Careerist, if he thinks I should join this new company. Ed says you forget how terrible and hard startups are when you’re in between startups, but then you remember when you’re there. And they really just ruin your life.
I am paraphrasing. Because he’s actually running Brazen Careerist now, and surely he’d want to tell you that the company is doing great and he loves it. But I love him because he’s honest. The guy’s a millionaire a million times over and he’s not sugar coating the startup world.
Roger is not sugar coating either. It’s just that I can’t give you details because Roger is not as used to working with me. Ed can put up with anything. I need that in a co-worker.
It’s why I work with Melissa.
I am scared to do another startup which is why I can’t even tell you. For other people, signing the papers would be the big commitment. For me, it’s naming the company on my blog.
Matthew tried to talk with me three times today and I was too preoccupied with the new company to pay attention to him. I forgot to say goodbye when I left. He called me to tell me that I’ve been oblivious to him. He is a very low maintenance guy. For him to say that is a big deal. And I had flashbacks to when I launched my last company, and I didn’t pay attention to anything but the company and then, before I knew it, I was getting a divorce.
So while I was on the phone talking about the new cap chart for the company, I got waxed. “Everything off!” I said, with the mute button on. Maybe making time for waxing keeps marriages to entrepreneurs from falling apart. But the odds are bad. I see myself slipping into startup hell again and it’s like anorexia or alcoholism: I’m just hoping that I can look high-functioning.
Here’s what you need to know about startups: being the tenth person in a startup is fine. If you like working long hours on projects that constantly get cancelled, then startup life is for you. But being responsible for the funding of the company, finding a profitable business mode, getting the company off the ground, these are jobs for crazy people. Because it’s so disruptive to your life that it’s questionable whether it’s worth it. Especially if you have kids.
And now at last, I am coming to my point. And you will see the title of this post is not a mistake.
My editor saw this post and said, “Remember how you told me that your mom gets all her information about your life from your blog? Well, you should send this post to her. Because she’s the only one who will care.”
So I did what every good writer does in the face of rejection: Hate myself and cease all forms of genuine productivity. My first phase of non-productivity is making a list – most important thing on top with a star. Then I get another pen and outline the star. I buy Jelly pens that ooze ink to make runny gooshy outlines of star shapes.
I could do a whole page of stars – anything to avoid dealing with not having a blog post. It’s not like I don’t have ideas. I have a confidence problem. It’s so much easier to do things on the list that don’t matter. Sometimes I think the point of making a to do list is so I can organize things into categories: things I must do to be happy and things I will do to procrastinate making myself happy.
I do the things on the list that do not have stars:
I call Rob at TypeCoach and scream at him that I hate his new web page. I tell him my readers would all buy an in-depth report of their personality type if they could find it. I say, “How can you be so good at personality type and so terrible at web design?” He solves the problem by giving me a custom URL on his site so I don’t have to see pages I hate.
I cut a couple of deals for doing PR on my blog and I get a lot of money from them and I immediately go shopping on Anthropologie. Research says that shopping is a good way to make you feel better. But not when what you really want to do is post on your blog. It used to be that research was inadequate because they left out women. Now it’s inadequate because they leave out bloggers.
The last thing I do to procrastinate was sweep. Melissa sent me this link to a $100 French broom. She said it’s like sunglasses: splurge on something you use every day. So I bought it and it didn’t even come with a handle. So I sweep with my $100 broom and I do not feel better about my productivity, although cleaning does make women want to have sex. Unfortunately it’s when the men clean. And that’s doesn’t happen here unless you count the pig shit that gets tracked into the kitchen.
I sit down to write this post: Forty billion words about how to decide if you should do a startup. But you don’t care. Or if you do, here’s a post to help you decide so I don’t need another.
What you really need to know is that you will ruin your life if you don’t do the most important thing on your list every day. We get self-esteem from getting things done that matter. Not everything on our list matters to us. There is stuff that is there because it should be there, like things that involve making money, and there is stuff there because it fills our soul. You have to do the stuff that makes you feel good about yourself. Do it first. I put it off for a week, and it ruined my week.
Doing that first thing takes extra focus because the thing that matters most is the thing that’s hardest to do – it’s easier to do something when there’s nothing at stake. It’s why one-night stands are always the best sex.
And actually, I think that’s the big risk for me in doing another startup: I’m scared that my attention will be too splintered and I won’t write on the blog enough to feel good about myself. I’m scared I’ll get lost on my to do list, and that’s the worst way to manage a career.