lightning fist

In which I try to prove I am smart by taking the Mensa test...

Originally posted here. 

believe I got the idea around the time that I was called in for a legal deposition by the defense lawyers in my ongoing copyright infringement case.  The lawyer for the defense seemed to be building his entire case around the hope, or perhaps the assumption, that I am an idiot.  His arrogant attempts at semantic intimidation were, at the very least, misguided, but, personally, I found them to be horribly insulting.  The reason being: I hate people assuming that I'm dumb.  This, then, prompted the thought:  "I need to prove that I'm smart!"


Now, it's easy enough for a person to assume I'm not smart.  In the aforementioned legal deposition, I was obliged to disclose my entire collegiate and employment history.  Neither of the above would convince anyone that I was smart.  I went to three colleges of no renown and got a degree from none of them.  For 6 years, I worked a string of slacker jobs, most of which were unskilled labor and paid peanuts.  How, then, could I objectively prove that I'm smarter than the average bear?  My own conviction that I was smart came from anecdotal evidence and the fact that I totally fucking OWNED at standardized testing when I was in public school.  


In elementary school, I had to take an IQ test.  My score was 136.  All I knew was that 140 was "Genius" and I had fallen four points short.  At the time I was sure it was a mistake.  I convinced myself that the four point shortfall was just because I was hungry and distracted.  Unfortunately, subsequent IQ tests through my school career kept proving the same thing:  136.  This was maddening.  I wanted to be a Genius!  I wanted to be able to say "why should you listen to me?  Because I'm a fucking GENIUS, that's why!"  But, instead, I had to live with the chagrin of being not-quite-a-genius.  It was not until later that I realized that 136 still put me in the top 1%.


And so, in a huff after being treated like brainless Jane by some fancy schmancy Harvard lawyer, I decided that I would join Mensa.  For those who don't know, Mensa is a club for people who test in the top 2% of the population. I told some friends I was going to try to get into Mensa and the responses ranged from "hmm. Maybe I should try that" to me basically getting laughed at for five solid minutes.


I called my Mom and asked if she happened to still have any of my old test results.  Since she didn't, I figured I could just take the Mensa test.  It honestly never occurred to me that I would NOT pass the test.  I mean, I had a historical precedent of OWNING at standardized tests!  I once applied for a job at Cheesecake Factory and they made me take an intelligence test.  The guy interviewing me seemed almost unnerved as he told me "you've got the highest score I've ever seen."  Then he didn't give me the job, which, in retrospect, makes sense because clever ducks in lowly positions can figure out really fast how to circumvent the rules and steal shit. 


And so, I paid my 40 bucks and scheduled the test time.  In an interesting twist, the mensa person in charge of test scheduling ACTUALLY KNEW WHO I WAS.  This was trippy in the fact that not that many people  know who I am, and the fact that this was a mensa person, so I had that feeling of "AHA...see?  See? I'm totally in with the smarties already!"


Taking the test was a learning experience.  Firstly, On the day of the test, I was wickedly hungover.  This taught me a lot about my "live in the moment" mentality: that while I was funning it up the night before, I wasn't thinking "I should refrain from drinking so that I don't have to take a test hungover."  I was just funning it up, tomorrow-be-damned.  Still, I dragged myself to the testing room and prepared to kick ass, even in my sluggish state.  


I looked around the room and the first interesting thing I noticed is that I was the only girl there.   Mensa, is, judging from that room, a total sausage-fest. (I told my laughing friend this and she said "it's because they've all got small dicks.")  Second, I started looking over the test, which lead me to totally ignore the test administrator.  This is the main thing I learned about my self:  I am terrible at listening to verbal instructions.  I always have been a little bit, but my years of self employment have definitely cemented it.  So, for some reason, I thought she said that "wrong answers don't count" which would lead to the logic that you should answer every question whether you know it or not.  


And so the test began and the learning continued.  Thing learned:  I own at verbal skills and suck at math.  I should have known this based on my performance on the ACT, in which my lameoid math and science scores dragged down my awesome verbal and reading comprehension score and gave me a barely-get-a-scholarship-at-state-college 26.  Still, since I hadn't taken a standardized test in so long, it all felt fresh and new.  It's not that I couldn't do the math questions, it's just that I had to WORK REALLY HARD at it. 


When I was doing the math problems, my brain felt like some creaky Rube Goldberg device which took way too long to come to it's conclusions.  I was lucky if I could finish half of the problems before the time was up.  Meanwhile, with the verbal sections, my brain suddenly turned into a kung-fu master doing a backflip and kicking ten ninjas in the face before landing.  I'd zoom through effortlessly and finish way before the time was up, then sit there tapping my pencil for ten minutes.  I was like "please! more verbal!  Give me definitions!  Give me comprehension!  Give me analogies!  I am to analogies as superman is to leaping tall buildings!"


The test sections seemed to be these alternations between things I was good at (verbal skills, sequences) and things I sucked at (anything with numbers...except sequences!) And so I was ping-ponging between thinking that I had the test in the bag and I was totally going to blow it.  


Anyhow, I finished the test and turned it in, and, as I was doing so, one of the guys turning in his test said to the administrator "If you only get counted for right answers and you only answer one question and it's right, don't you get 100%?"  And that's when I realized... you DO get counted off for wrong answers!  Which means that all the last-minute fill-ins I did were going to completely fuck me!  I left with the sinking knowledge that I had totally muffed the test.


Sure enough, I got the letter later on saying that my score did not qualify me for mensa. But here's what I learned about myself:


1.  I am a drunken hedonist.


2.  I am a loose cannon and play by my own rules (ie. I am bad at paying attention to verbal directions).


3.  My mental alacrity sways strongly toward words and pictures rather than numbers, which makes me realize that "superior intelligence" can be compartmentalized into specific areas.  In a room full of mathematicians, I'd probably come off like Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel. 


I suppose I could have retaken the test and seen if I could have passed if I followed the instructions, but I didn't really want to pay another 40 bucks.  Besides, what if I WERE in mensa?  It's not like I could tell mister fancylawyerpants "Excuse me, I'm not dumb...I'M IN MENSA!"  since this would not only make me sound like the douchiest douche in douchetown, but also the nerdiest nerd in nerdtown.  So, really, was it all just some hollow exercise in self-reassurance? Did I just need to KNOW that I was smart? Didn't I already know that I was smart?  Is "smart" even something that can be objectively evaluated?  Isn't it just a matter of how many questions on a test skew toward your strengths?


I realize now that all of this is beside the point.  The real moral of the story is that that lawyer is a patronizing dick and needs to get punched in the nuts.  

Posted at 08:37 AM in my life stories | Permalink | Comments (0)


Give me a Fucking Break: Tea Tree Australian Chewing Sticks, get're a toothpick.

Originally posted at:

So I saw this box of toothpicks laying on the table and noticed something:  These toothpicks were calling themselves "chewing sticks."  I guess being called a toothpick isn't good enough for these pretentious assholes, they have to be "chewing sticks."  Oh, hello chewing stick.  Would you like some champagne and caviar?  May I take your top hat?  How about I roll out a fucking red carpet for you?


Look, give it up.  You're a toothpick.  Why do you have to play games?  Do you think that just because you have tea tree oil, you're  better than everyone else?  Oh, excuse me... you're "impregnated" with tea tree oil.  La-dee-fucking-da.  Don't expect me to give you my seat on the bus. You're not impressing me with your fancy vocabulary, toothpick, you're just making yourself look like a douche.  


Oh, and where did you get the idea that you could impress people by saying you're australian?  This just shows that you are totally fucking clueless.  What?  Did you think we would think you were "exotic."  Did you think you would conjure up images of the Sydney Opera House and crystal goblets of robust Shiraz?  News Flash:  here in America, when we hear "australian" we just think of Crocodile Dundee throwing shrimps on the barbie while he gets drunk on Fosters.   Maybe you should grab your digeridoo and your Kylie Minogue CDs and fuck off before a dingo eats your baby.


Okay, so you're a stick and maybe people chew on you, but you know what other sticks people chew on?  That's right:  TOOTHPICKS.  Some of them are even minty, and you don't see them putting on airs.  Seriously, get over yourself.


The A.V. Phibes business strategy... simplified!

 just found this in one of my old work notebooks.  I think I drew it around the time that I realized I hate customer service.  I find it both funny and TOTALLY TRUE!

Oh, and PS... I've got my "real blog" going over at  So, you know, if you were maybe planning on buying something from Amazon ANYWAY, you might wanna, say, click on my affiliate link and do it.  Just sayin...

Who am I? I am both nobody and somebody.

 So part of where my thought process came from in the previous post is the fact that, everything I've done for the past few years, even if i got paid for it, hasn't felt particularly "real."  If you've been reading for awhile, you've surely noticed that every year since 2005, I've described my activities as "dicking around."  

What happened in 2005 was that I was on a rollercoaster going up, up, up and was, soon enough, on a rollercoaster going down, down, down, and I realized that I really had no control over the situation.  That my good fortune wasn't because I was awesome and productive and my bad fortune wasn't because I was suddenly horrible and lazy.  Things just changed and it was external to me.  I worked for my success, but I would not have had it (or my subsequent failure) if not for random market forces that I had no sway over.

I think the major thing that happened at the cresting of that rollercoaster was that I stopped thinking of the things I did as being real and concrete.  Most of the things I did started seeming pointless.  I just do things. I'm waiting until something "catches" again.  Until I'm making mad dough again, I keep considering everything I do to be "dicking around."  Still, I keep doing things because that's all one can do.

And if it's all dicking around and nothing is "catching", the only way to evaluate it is based on how good I am at it and how much I do it.  I am an artist in that I very occasionally create a piece of art.  I am a designer in that I often design things.  I am an comic actor in that I occasionally am in plays and they're usually comedies.  I am a writer in that I write things.  I am a housewife in that I keep house. I am an entrepreneur in that I have a business that still makes some money.  I am maybe a cartoonist in that I've drawn cartoons, but I haven't in quite some time.  None of these things feels any more "real" than the other. None of them seems to make a definitive "what I am."  

I've spent a lot of my life "talking up" my modest accomplishments to make them seem important... usually more important than they were:

"Cartoonist A.V. Phibes has began publishing her comics in underground zines, and soon grew an enthusiastic internet following!"

"Artist A.V. Phibes has done illustrations for for Penguin Publishing, Andrews McMeel  and Steve Madden Inc!*  She has had 3 solo shows of her work and recieved a jury prize from the Seattle Erotic Arts Festival."

"Entrepreneur A.V. Phibes founded Evilkid Productions, a six-figure art licensing business that had products in Target, Spencer Gifts and Hot Topic!"

"Sideshow Performer A.V. Phibes has performed all over new york in venues such as the Slipper Room, The Cutting Room and Webster Hall, she also spent time on tour with the Modern Gypsies!"

"Actress/comedian A.V. Phibes has appeared in two off-broadway comedies!"  

Hell, even writer A.V. Phibes "has been blogging since 2001, been published in the Audacity Productions "In the Works" anthology** and her one-act play "Grading on a Curve" has been staged in in the US and Hong Kong.  Her work has been described by the the Dallas Morning News as "quite funny" and having "...lots of garrulous, good lines..."  

And all of this feels like just anecdotal "stuff I did."  None of it feels like I was doing it "for real" (except maybe the entrepreneur bit).  Most of this was "dicking around."  I have told people before:  "The key to having an exciting life is omission.  Omit everything except the exciting parts."

I still don't have the sense that I'm doing what I ought to with my life. And so that's how I came about to my previous thoughts: Since most of my credentials seem tenuous, if not borderline bullshit, do credentials even matter? Shouldn't we just consider what we're good at?


*Totally got this job because of nepotism.

**My friend published this and printed it at kinkos.


lightning fist

Self-identifying as a writer: not just for douches anymore?

I've always had trouble with the "what do you do?" question. I went through my phase of just answering "office manager," but now I usually stick with the vague "designer,"  which, of course, is true enough because that's actually what I more or less make money at.  Only recently have I been internally questioning: can I self-identify as a writer?  

The New Yorker in me says "Don't say it unless you can put your money where your mouth is," the hater in me says "Self-identifying as a writer when you don't do it for a living is for pretentious douches."  And yet... and yet...

Here is what's been rolling around in the ol' brain pan:  The "publishing industry," or, that which, for all of my life, has been the gatekeeper of what is "real" writing and what is just fucking around (if it's published it counts, if it isn't it doesn't) Is undergoing a tremendous sea change right now.  "books" and "newspapers" and "magazines" and "being published" as we have known them in the past, may be going the way of the corded telephone and the fax-copier.  

What I'm saying is, with all the game-changers of the past decade, blogging is kinda the new writing.  At least, that is to say, it's the most contemporary medium and it doesn't seem to be going away.  Sure, 95% of it is crap, but the 5% that isn't is getting read by people as much as a newspaper or magazine.  Also, as digital distribution replaces those cumbersome paper books and renders printing and shipping costs irrelevant, it's going to change the types and amounts of writing that publishers publish. It's also changing how important a "publisher" even needs to be. From the "gatekeeper" standpoint, the times they are a changin'.

But all this is just random thought.  What I'm trying to get at is:  Bitches, I'm a writer.  I know how to write.  I may possibly know how to write better than I know how to do anything else.  I have never been published, I have never TRIED to get published, for all I know, I may never BE published, but I've been writing for ten years and people have been reading it.  Sometimes a lot of people have been reading it.  Possibly more people than have read those novels with their covers torn off in the sale bin.  Also, since the publishing industry is often trying to turn a buck by pandering to dullards, is publication really such a badge of quality? Have you read "Who Moved my Cheese?"  I mean, have you? If so, how is your head feeling after you felt compelled to beat it against a brick wall? Mine is still a little tender.

Anyhow, being able to string together a grouping of sentences that aren't retarded and don't bore people to sleep is not a skill that everyone possesses.  In fact, I am learning that it is rarer than one would think.  I was once sent an excerpt of a book that someone was planning on self-publishing and it took me about 15 minutes to read the first two pages because the writing was so cumbersome that every laborious sentence was like a pit of quicksand bogging down your progress to the next.  And this was someone who clearly thought they were "a writer." 

And, that, perhaps, is why the hater in me is so down of self-proclaimed "writers:" because the claim is so often accompanied by a certain pomposity and self-delusion.  I didn't want to be "that guy."  I feel like I'm perfectly competent at writing, but I have no "credentials."  Still, I read a lot of stuff on the internets and some of the writers whose bloggy bits I most anticipate aren't even writers.  They're chefs who are good at writing or artists who are good at writing or whatevers who are good at writing.  Is one a writer by merit of being good at writing?  What say ye, netizens?

Home Alone

So remember how, like, a month ago I was all like "I'm going to start blogging again!" and then, I kinda didn't?  Well let me tell you about how that came about:

 So a few months ago, my Darling Boyfriend decided that he was going to go to India with one of his college friends who was a Buddhist monk for some time.  I met said friend when he was still a Buddhist monk wearing the orange robes and the whole shebang, and, if you've never had a buddhist monk watching football in your living room and shotgunning marijuana hits, then your life is less interesting than mine.  Haha!  Sucks to be you!  But anyway,  being still active in Tibetan Buddhism since leaving the monkhood, he invited my darling boyfriend to come to the temple of his Lama and shoot some video so he could make a short film that might encourage bourgeois New Yorkers to donate money to it.  My Darling Boyfriend, never passing up an opportunity for foreign travel, said "yes!"

The other thing about my Darling Boyfriend and foreign travel is that once he's going to one place, he feels like he has to visit every place adjacent while he's there... so the planned trip to india started turning epic.  He planned to visit another friend in India, then a meet up with another friend in Khazakstan, a visit to Tajikistan, then a long-ass train ride through russia to Moscow, then to St. Petersburg to meet up with ANOTHER college friend (who's been living in Mexico the past year) and the two of them would do a whirlwind tour of eastern europe hitting approximately 15 different locales.  By the end of his planning, the trip was going to take two months and one week.

So my thought was just "two months and one week to myself? AWESOME!!!" and so I started planning what yours truly would do with that particular time.  My first thought was "Since I'll have peace and quiet and not be endlessly doing laundry, I can work on writing."  

And so I thought I would take to blogging as soon as he left.  What I didn't count on was two factors:  1.  That it was going to take me a long time to get the house clean after he was gone, and 2.  That I was going to be partying down to a distracting extent once he left.  

To address the former:  My darling boyfriend is a slob.  He is entropic to the max.  He spends a day in a room and it's like someone was tearing it apart looking for secret documents or jewels or something.  Since I am a tiny bit OCD and like things to be a bit tidier, my role has become that of countering his entropy and maintaining a state of equilibrium which is usually "sorta, but not embarrassingly, messy." 

Naturally, the idea of him being away for a long period of time introduced a tantalizing possibility:  I could actually get AHEAD and get our condo clean, and have it stay clean for two months!!!  Drunk on possibilities, I started cleaning as soon as he was out the door, thinking that a focused two days would whip things into shape.  I am STILL cleaning this place.  There is some hardcore organization that needs to be done. I am feng shui-ing like there is no tomorrow.  

Secondly, addressing the latter:  it seems that once I am in a state of simulated "singledom" I revert back to single habits.  This means going out a lot; hanging out with friends a lot.  It's strange because I don't feel like these are things I CAN'T do when my Darling Boyfriend is around, but I seem to do them less.  Maybe it's because I'm tired from cleaning.

But, getting back to the point:  Darling Boyfriend has been gone for two weeks and I'm just now getting back on my feet again as far as getting shit done.  (GTD?  Fuck that, I GSD.) So I'm only now starting to get on the Blog thing.  It took me awhile to come up with a good title that I could buy a domain of.  I finally landed on  I thought about just using, but, here is a little pearl of wisdom for you, Youth of America:  When choosing a pseudonym, PICK SOMETHING THAT'S EASY TO SPELL AND PRONOUNCE.  It will save you a lot of heartache.  

Anyway, I'll be setting that up shortly.  In the meantime, here's an awesome pic of my cat in a lobster costume from


I'm passionate about not being passionate about things.

So now that I'm trying to get blogging again, I find myself stymied as to what my "theme" should be.   In much the same way as in art, the key to success in blogging seems to be consistency.  Figure out your thing + keep doing that thing and that thing only = ability to build a following.  But--also in much the same way as in art-- I find it nearly impossible to pick ONE THING.  When people ask me what I'm passionate about, I tend to reply "It's irrelevant, because what I'm passionate about is always changing."  

So themes I'd like to write about (other than my cat... she's already got a blog, so that's taken care of) include:  food, travel, new york, art and design, snarky cultural critiques, books and general observations.  So, since I don't want to set up a zillion blogs that I probably won't maintain, I'm going to put it all in one and wreck my ability to be consistent and therefore, by the laws of "how-these-things-work," not have a good chance of blogging success.

On the other hand, since one of my objectives is just "practice," I suppose I shouldn't even care.  In the course of being all-over-the-place, perhaps I will determine what works best.  It's my general life strategy of "throwing shit at a wall and seeing what sticks."  Of course, then there's the thought that I'm 35 and shouldn't  I have more shit stuck to my wall by now?  

Can anyone out there tell me what I'm good at?  What's your favorite thing that I've done?

Moving Forward

 There comes a time when the only thing to do is throw out your old life and start fresh.  


Several years back, my whole fake-famous,/attention-whore schtick turned on me and suddenly the idea of people out there in the world and internetland knowing about me, combined with the fact that so much of my persona was a fragile maquette constructed to impress other people, made me turn super paranoid and reclusive.   There were times when I would write something and be afraid to post it because "people will read it and think things about me."  This was a bad time.


Anyhow, after lots of therapy, I am emerging from my lair.  But emerging with new boundaries and new intentions.  I want to be real with you internet, so let me lay it down for you:


1.  I no longer want this to be the "look at me and how lovably eccentric I am!" journal.

I will not be trying to impress you with how quirky and "interesting" I am.  I'm not going to post photoshopped pictures of myself in hopes of being told I'm hot.  I am not trying to prove anything to you.  If I get called "quirky" again, someone's getting slapped.


If you enjoyed my LJ of yore for my tales of partying and promiscuity and hipster shenanigans, well, I'm sorry, but that shit is played.  So unless you want to read posts like:  "whoa dude, that game of Cranium was fucking INsane!  I had to sculpt a frying pan out of clay!"  that's not likely to be happening anymore.


No more games, baby.   I don't need the cool kids to be my pretend friends anymore.  I know that this disappoints some people who think I'm too boring now and would feel more comfortable liking me if I just wore flashy outfits and did kitschy hipster stuff  and fronted that I was always at glamorous events.   Sorry kids, but I'm 35 damned years old.  At a certain point, my life had to stop being performance art and start being a life.  Also, the tragic irony was that in order for my life to appear to be that exciting, I had to spend, like, 7 hours a day in front of a computer making it look that way.


2.  No Drama

Look, I apologize for being a drama queen in the past and making everything into a huge deal.   I'm getting over my crippling insecurity,  I'm on medication.  We're cool now.  I don't mind if you friend or unfriend me.  If you get sick of me, I ENCOURAGE you to unfriend me.   If I  hate something you like or like something you hate, it's not the end of the world.  It's just the internet.  


If someone gets uppity or an argument breaks out, I'm just going to ignore it. I know that I will never convince anyone of anything.  When I get obnoxious, dumb comments I'm not even going to waste time on snarky replies.


So what is my intent?  


I've been contemplating my life for awhile, dear reader, and trying to figure out what I'm actually good at  so I can do more of it and be genuinely good at something. I feel like much of my life has been an exercise in wasted potential.  I am a knife in need of sharpening. 


I am fairly good at writing and fairly good at writing funny things, so I want to polish and hone those skills. I'm taking back to the internet like some kind of  writing Rocky running up writing stairs to get in writing shape for a writing boxing match...or, you know, just writing.  Since I've never really studied writing or written "for real," I figure I still have stuff to learn about style and editing and structure and discipline and whatnot.  I also want to be dilligent and quicken my wit until humor flows from me like urine from a hobo! Then maybe I can "do something with it."


Your job is (hopefully) just to be entertained. You can help me just by telling me when you think something I write is interesting and amusing so that I know what's working.  Also, if you know anything about "real writing" maybe you can tell me what's what, because I really don't know much of anything about it.


I'm going to start off slow because I have other work to do setting up a congruent "real blog" since, well, as much as I like it, most of the internet thinks LJ is amateur hour and you can't really monetize it (these cocktails don't pay for themselves!) and one young friend recently mocked me for being on LJ, by saying "get with the times, grandma!" 

I expect things to get seriously rolling by mid-september.  Glad you're still here!


Cleaning up my LJ for the glorious future

 HERE'S THE DEAL: I've had this journal for eight years and it's gotten a bit muddled and hasn't been the same since 2005 (yes, I'm sorry.) But, internet people, I want to win you back! I will try harder to amuse you!

BUT, since I want to start with a clean slate, I have UNFRIENDED EVERYONE SO THAT I CAN FIGURE OUT WHO IS STILL ON HERE AND WHO IS NOT. I will be adding people back gradually. If you are still around, pipe up or unfriend and refriend me so you show up on my joule and I will friend you back.

I will keep you all filled in as I get my internet life in order. Meanwhile, I have started a tumblr page for random stuff I find that amuses me:

And a twitter for my "deep thoughts":

I do not advise trying to facebook friend me because I am a fanatic about my facebook and really only want family and friends on there.

You can, however, facebook friend my cat:

or follow her twitter:

I will keep you all posted as things develop.