This Adorable Toddler Was Blown Away By His Dad’s Magic Trick

Kids love magic. Nothing keeps children more at ease and in awe for a prolonged period of time than someone (usually a magician) doing magic trick after magic trick. This video shows exactly how much kids love magic. When you see this adorable kid’s face after he watches his dad pull off a simple trick, you might be into magic, too.

NO WAY, DAD.

(via BoingBoing)
Dad better start working on his repertoire. Something tells us those beginner tricks aren’t going to work forever.

10 Things To Consider Before Moving Overseas

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

1. Get used to being alone.

You’ll make plenty of new friends whilst living abroad, but they won’t fill up every moment of your life. It’s not like being at home when you get involved (willingly or otherwise) when your dog didn’t poop or your friend locked themselves out of their apartment.

You will no longer be in the loop of the humdrum routine back at home. This frees up your time and energy. You get downtime from the drama, but you mustn’t get melancholy when left to your own devices. Use the alone time to your advantage.

2. Your problems will follow you, wherever you go.

A change of scene is a temporary novelty.

Moving overseas won’t ease your perennial restlessness.

You’ll still get itchy feet and want to escape again.

You’ll still dream of a better, happier life.

If you’re anxious or depressed, you’re still likely to feel that way after the novelty of moving disappears. A change of scene can help, but let’s not pretend it’s the whole solution.

You need to address your problems directly, probably whilst sitting still.

3. You have unconscious cultural biases.

You might think you’re less prone to cultural bias as a result of being well travelled and/or growing up in a multicultural city, but it’s not until you live abroad that your cultural biases are challenged. For example, do you automatically jump into the front or back of a taxi? Do you joke around with your boss? Do you use sarcasm frequently?

If your ‘normal’ behaviour becomes ‘unusual’ when performed in a different country, your inherent biases may be exposed. It’s a great way to better understand yourself and your preferences.

4. The dynamics of dating/romantic relationships will be different.

This relates to (1) and its obvious but worth mentioning regardless.

There is truth to some cultural stereotypes, and there is ALWAYS another side to the story.

For example – White men in Asia have it easy. White women in Asia do not. Chivalry is out-dated in Australia but still exists in parts of Europe. Blah, blah, blah.

Dabbling in the dating world of another country is a sure way to discover what you want, need and don’t need (or want) in your romantic relationships. (For the record, it’s not okay to ask about the potential for girl-on-girl or 2-guys-1-girl action on a first date, even if you’re a white male in Asia.)

5. Learning the local language will open doors you never knew were closed/existed.

Learning Mandarin in an English-speaking country like Singapore might seem like a lot of unnecessary effort, but wait until you learn words that don’t have correlations in English!

Not to mention the conversations you can overhear (and now understand) that you were previously not privy to.

Job opportunities, friendship cliques, secret societies – you will be presented with more invitations to join in and participate if you know the lingo. Communication is key, after all.

6. Nothing can replace your mum.

Especially when you’re sick or feeling blue.

Sure, you can call or Skype home but it won’t feel the same as a consoling hug and often, without the face-to-face contact, she’s likely to misread the signs and say the wrong thing, thereby upsetting you further, and making the whole phone call seem rather pointless and ridiculous.

7. Technology hasn’t caught up yet.

Trouble-shooting your mum’s Ipad from overseas is near impossible. There is no free and easy way to remotely connect to an Ipad device to ‘see what she’s seeing’. And because I have no idea what “the computer is topsy-turvy” means, I can’t tell if there’s an actual problem or just a user-related issue. (It turns out my grandpa had accidentally flipped his taskbar vertically, so ‘topsy-turvy’ was in fact an accurate description of his screen problem).

Also, Skype doesn’t allow group chat on Ipads, so I can’t chat to my mum and sister at the same time. This is annoying and involves lots of re-telling of stories (since we all live in different countries).

8. Good friends are equivalent to receiving a salary bonus of $133K.

I read somewhere that surrounding yourself with good friends contributes about $133K towards your positive wellbeing. That’s more than any bonus I’ve ever received and it feels about right. Good people are hard to come by, so if you’ve already found them, don’t give them up. Make an effort and stay in touch – for the sake of your wellbeing.

9. You will miss some important weddings, birthdays and funerals.

People will die and get married without you. Even if they were once close to you, you won’t be asked to be a groomsman, bridesmaid or pallbearer because your presence can’t be guaranteed. Getting invited at all will be a bonus.

You might also miss an important funeral or last minute event, because the flight home took too long. Or you may not attend at all, simply because you cannot justify/afford the cost of getting home.

10. A life of adventure requires risk and sacrifice.

You’re going to drop the ball in some aspects of your life.

Your jet-setting Facebook profile might be the envy of your friends, but you’re going to feel lost and question every life decision you make. You might have a midlife crisis EVERY year. You may feel like you’ll never ‘make it’ or even ‘get it’ – there’s a risk that the meaning and purpose of your life may always remain mysterious. So get used to it. Your lifespan is cosmically insignificant. Therefore being insignificant isn’t as significant as you think. Just try and spread happiness and not harm during your lifetime, wherever you live. TC mark



5 Types Of Friends You Need To Stop Hanging Out With Right Away

Flickr / John Tyler
Flickr / John Tyler

Making friends isn’t always super easy, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to settle for being friends with just anyone. Some people aren’t solid friendship material. While nobody’s perfect, and neither are you, there are definitely limits as to what type of crap you should have to put up with in a real friend. Here’s a list of friends that you shouldn’t be friends with. If you are currently in a friendship with someone on this list, send them a text message and say that you don’t think your friendship is working out anymore.

1. Friend that always needs money but never pays back

I’m not saying you have to be a total Scrooge McDuck here. Obviously it’s all right to lend your friends some money if they need it. But what happens when your friend is constantly hitting you up for cash? Sometimes it might not even be totally obvious. Ask yourself, when you buy a round of drinks at the bar, and your friend tells you, “Thanks, I’ll get the next one,” is there ever a next round? When you guys go out to grab a bite, and your friend says, “Oh jeez, I think I must have left my wallet at my place. Can you spot me and I’ll get you back later?” is there ever any attempt at restitution?

If you’re scratching your head, or even if you’re just afraid to go back and do the math, it’s obvious that your friend is taking advantage of you. You need to drop this person from your life, because if you’re always paying for this person’s friendship, it’s not really a true friendship at all. It’s basically like friend prostitution, or a friend escort service, which, call it whatever you want, but both don’t sound much fun at all, do they?

2. Friend that always likes to gossip about all of your other friends

Sure, gossip is fun, just a little harmless chitchat, right? Wrong. When you badmouth people and they’re not even there to defend themselves, that’s called character assassination. Are you friends with someone who’s constantly talking about everyone else? Just because you don’t engage in your friend’s gossip doesn’t mean you’re not complicit. Yes, it can be awkward to be the person who insists on a change of subject, but your loose-lipped friend should respect your wish not to gossip. And if they won’t, then kick them to the curb.

Because do you really think that person isn’t gossiping about you behind your back? I used to be friends with this guy named Pete, and one time we got really drunk. Pete went to go to the bathroom, but he was blacking out. He wound up peeing in the closet, all over my brother’s PlayStation 2. In the morning he was like, “Oh man, I’m so embarrassed, please don’t tell anybody about this.” And I didn’t. But then later that summer, one of my other friends told me that Pete told him that I was the one who peed on the PS2. What a jerk, right? I cut Pete out of my life immediately.

3. Friend that borrows your stuff and never returns it

Again, the point of this article isn’t to be like, “You should never share with any of your friends,” but a real friend is supposed to give your stuff back after a while, or at least when you ask for it. Because what are you, some sort of a free thrift store? No, don’t put up with people who treat your possessions like an extension their own personal belongings.

Did I ever tell you about my friend Derek? One time he came over to hang out, but it started raining right before he tried to go home. He asked to borrow my umbrella, and I said no problem. But then weeks went by, and then months. This was a nice umbrella. I mean, it wasn’t ridiculously expensive or anything, but it wasn’t one of those cheap-o five dollar umbrellas you buy on the street when you’re caught in a storm. “Dude, can I get my umbrella back?” and he’d always be like, “What umbrella?” and I tried to remind him, “The good one I lent you that time a few months ago? It had the tiny flashlight built in to the easy grip handle?” and he’d just be like, “Uh, yeah, sure,” before trying to give me some half-broken piece of garbage he’d obviously found lying around his apartment. Whatever, I’ve let go of the umbrella, I’ll probably never see it again. But I’ll definitely never see Derek again, because I’ve written him out of my life forever.

4. Friend who asks you for a ride to work every day but never chips in for gas or tolls

Come on, that’s not even a friend, that’s just a coworker being a total mooch. So why pretend like you’re friends? Because you’re the same age? Because you work together and occasionally go out for drinks with all of your other coworkers?

Yeah, this is based on personal experience. I used to be in this exact same situation. “But come on,” he would say after explaining that he didn’t have any money to chip in for the ride, “can’t you just be a friend?” It was horrible, appealing to my sense of friendship. Because of course I want to be a nice guy, and yeah, I’m driving to work anyway. But then I’m waiting outside your apartment in the morning while you take an extra ten minutes to get ready, and then at the end of the day I have to wait around for you to finish up doing whatever it is you’re staying late for. Come on man, what do I look like, a taxi? Take a hike.

5. Friend who borrows your dog and then loses the dog on purpose

I should have seen this one coming. What kind of a person asks to borrow your dog? Still, I wanted to look for the good in everyone, and so I took a chance on a friend. Maybe he needed some companionship. Maybe he was thinking about getting his own dog, but wanted to try it out first. Maybe he just wanted to pick up chicks at the dog park. Regardless, you can imagine how bummed out I was when he returned later that day with just a leash, holding his hands out and saying, “I lost him.”

He told me not to worry though, he’d help me get him back. “The first thing you need to do is post flyers around town, and make sure you post a big reward.” How big? “Big, like five hundred bucks.” I didn’t have five hundred bucks to spend, but my friend pressured me, “If I had a dog, there wouldn’t be any amount of money I wouldn’t spend to get him back.” Whatever, I posted the reward, and wouldn’t you know it, later that day some dude came back with my little buddy. I forked over the reward money, worrying about how I’d make ends meet for the foreseeable future. Money was so tight that I had to sell my car, I couldn’t even afford a MetroCard to take the bus. And then one day later that week, I was walking home from work, I passed by this ridiculously fancy restaurant. Guess who I saw eating shrimp cocktail and drinking martinis on the street-side patio? Yeah, it was my “friend” and the guy who returned my dog. What the hell man, you went through all that just to get five hundred bucks out of me? You’re not my friend, man, you’re just a dick. TC mark

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6 Harsh Things You Should Know About Becoming A Snooping Girlfriend

Flickr / Silvia Sala
Flickr / Silvia Sala

We all know that curiosity killed the cat, but in most cases, we don’t really care. It’s not like we knew that cat anyway, and an open Facebook page might as well be the last cupcake at the office party—it doesn’t stand a chance.

Call us crazy if you will, but the snooping girlfriend often sees an inbox as a window of opportunity long before we realize that it’s actually a relationship death trap. Of course, deep down we know that no good will ever come from being a snoop, but when the temptation is there, it’s hard to resist taking a peek into a part of his life that we don’t normally have access to (which might be why he’s scared to move in with you).

Here, six women dish (myself included) on a time they decided to play detective.

1. He might know you better than you think.

Remember when you were a kid and you knew where your parents were hiding your Christmas presents? Well I do, and I remember rummaging through their closet, uncovering all of my awesome gifts, and crying for two days because I ruined my own damn Christmas.

Stephanie had a similar experience when she hacked into her boyfriend’s email account, and though there was less crying, she still stressed for weeks over absolutely nothing. “Once I looked through Chris’s email, and saw that he was chatting with his aunt about getting me a Coach purse for Christmas,” she said. “I was so nervous, because that is just so not my style, and I was imagining getting this gift that I would completely hate. It ended up being really simple and cute, and completely my taste!”

2. If you’ve already decided to go looking for something, chances are you’ll find it … even if you’re making it up.

“One time my girlfriend Liz thought that her boyfriend was leaving college to go home and hang out with some girl on the weekends,” said Colleen. “This was when Blackberry cell phones were still a thing, so she got this girl’s PIN number from Facebook, and since I was the only one with a Blackberry, we added her to my Blackberry Messenger.” Hold your crazy-accusations, it gets worse.

“We then pretended to be Liz’s boyfriend Sean, saying that he got a new cell phone. Because the conversation was turning out to be nothing unusual, we started calling her ‘Babe,‘ and saying things like ‘Can’t wait to see you,’” said Colleen. “Since her reaction was non-existent, we realized that she probably just thought that Sean was a weirdo, and un-friended her. Liz eventually told Sean what she did during an argument, and obviously, he thought she was insane.”

3. You need to think twice before pressing “send.”

Alex was staying at her boyfriend’s house over the weekend, and saw his mid-afternoon shower as a golden opportunity to get her snoop on. “I was on his computer and noticed that his Facebook was up, so obviously, I had to look through his chat messages,” she said. “Who wouldn’t?” (Refer to first paragraph: I told you so!) “So I see a message from this girl who I knew was always all over my boyfriend, and she just really pissed me off,” said Alex, who doesn’t remember the exact subject of the conversation, but says that it was flirtatious enough to enrage her.

“I immediately went to text my best friend saying ‘I just went through Kevin’s Facebook messages, and he’s been talking to Laura. WTF, EW!‘” After hitting send, Alex heard her boyfriend shut off the shower, so she closed out his messages. “He comes into his room, picks up his phone, and repeats the exact message I sent Laura aloud, and starts laughing and repeating the ‘WTF, EW!‘ part of the text over and over,” she said.

Alex’s lesson learned? “Don’t snoop, but if you do, double check who you’re sending your bitchy text message to.”

4. Some secrets are good secrets … until you snoop.

Naomi’s trust was beginning to wear thin with her ex-boyfriend, and she figured that she had caught him red-handed when she saw him texting suspicious numbers. “I looked over my ex’s shoulder and saw a few phone numbers in his inbox that didn’t have a contact name, so of course, I assumed he was getting random girls’ phone numbers at bars or something, and looked through the messages, Naomi said. “Turns out, he was texting a bunch of people from Craigslist about buying me a surprise gift.” Oops!

5. What happens in “a break” doesn’t always stay in the break.

“One night I was going through The Devil’s Facebook when he was sleeping,” said Nicole. If you haven’t picked up on it, the devil she’s referring to is her ex-boyfriend. “I found all of these messages from this girl, talking about how they hooked up, and how he wished he could be snuggling on her chest,” she said. “Mind you, the messages were from a period when we were ‘on a break,’ but after Ross and Rachel we all know that breaks are bullsh*t, so of course, I went crazy and woke him up, calling him out on it.”

Nicole says that the two were having relationship problems to begin with, hence the break where The Devil partook in all of his chest snuggling. “I’m not sure if they ever hooked up again, but I will always go with my gut. I knew if I went searching, I would find something, and it would eat him alive if I found it. It did, and honestly because we were on the break, I didn’t care as much as I made it seem. I just wanted him to feel guilty about it.”

6. Sometimes you’re the sneaky jerk.

As I said earlier, I am not immune to the power of female-craziness, and when a stalking-situation presents itself, I’m there. I was having one of those toss-and-turn kind of nights, and the fact that my ex and I were cooped up in my twin-sized college bed wasn’t exactly helping my frustration. Nor was his snoring.

Anyway, it soon dawned on me that I had the perfect opportunity to go searching for a way to ruin my otherwise awesome relationship. I entered his pass code with ease (since I obviously knew what it was, because any type of password withholding behavior obviously correlates with cheating, or lying …obviously). I spent the next 15 minutes scrolling through boring conversations about football games and Game of Thrones, and by the time I had reached January, I was actually beginning to fall back asleep.

And then I saw them: his text messages to a random number, expressing how excited he was for her to get off of work and come over, because he just missed her so much. I went crazy. I was enraged! How could he be such a sneaky jerk?!

I automatically went to program this home-wrecker’s digits into my phone, prepared to call it later and get to the bottom of the situation. When I finished typing, my best friend’s name popped up on my screen … because I had been texting him from her phone at work … and I forgot about it. Yep. I laughed myself to sleep. TC mark

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This post originally appeared at YourTango.

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This Is What High Schoolers Looked Like In 1969…And It’s Oddly Familiar

You would likely come across something embarrassing if you looked back at your high school photos. Some of us were still finding out who we were in high school, as there was a lot of self discovery. It was an awkward time filled with puberty, changing bodies and voices, and evolving world views.
These photos from a high school in 1969, once published in Time magazine, are probably super embarrassing for the people featured in them. However, they don’t seem too far off from how people currently look. It’s as if time stood still…right?

imgur

imgur

imgur

imgur

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The Art Of Effective Communication: How To Argue Mindfully

The Sopranos
The Sopranos

The ability to communicate effectively is one of the most useful skills for surviving the modern world. It’s impossible to eliminate arguments from all of your relationships. However disagreements aren’t all harmful, quite the opposite!

Constructive arguments can shed light on important issues, clear the atmosphere and take relationships to next the level.

But how do you argue mindfully and make your communication more effective?

1. Practice mindfulness before you argue:

People often beat around the bush and make lists of different issues when they’re really concerned about something totally different. They don’t know really know the source of their frustration.

If you don’t know yourself well, how can you expect others to guess and fulfill your needs? It’s impossible to find a constructive solution unless you understand what’s motivating your feelings and behaviors each moment.

Start by bringing mindfulness into your daily life and staying fully present as often as you can. Spending quality time alone, free from distractions will enable you to connect with yourself and make it easier for you to interact with others. Meditate to better control your body and mind.

2. Dont evaluate:

The Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti considered the ability to observe without evaluating as the highest form of human intelligence. Every single person sees and interprets the world differently. Therefore, to communicate effectively, avoid evaluation and focus on the facts.

When you evaluate things, another person can feel judged and nobody likes that. Every evaluation put in the form of a label, criticism, insult or comparison will cause nothing but self-defense and counterattack from the other side.

How to distinguish facts from assessments?

Example: “You’re rarely excited to go out with me” would be an evaluation, whereas:

“The last two times I asked you out, you said you weren’t in the mood” would be a fact.

Avoid subjective statements that aren’t facts but interpretations of the facts, these are evaluations. Nobody can disagree with facts. Nobody can feel offended by facts. But someone can disagree or feel upset by an evaluation. That’s why arguing based on facts can help you find a solution.

Communications expert, Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg considers avoiding evaluation during arguments as the first pillar of effective dialogue.

3. Forget about your ego:

People often focus so much on winning the fight and having the last word that they actually forget what they’re fighting about. Accept that being right doesn’t matter and that arguing for the sake of determining a winner will never be constructive.

Focus your full attention on the other person’s arguments, and then you can be emphatic and build better relationships with people. Most conflicts are provoked to attract someone’s attention. Instead of shutting the person down, ask questions and make an effort to actually understand the other person, even if you’re angry.

Stay open and don’t be afraid to ask about someone’s feelings. For example: “You seem a bit sad? Did I upset you with what I said?”

4. Describe your feelings:

I agree that talking about feelings can be tough, but you can’t expect anyone to guess how or what you feel. What’s very painful for one person can be meaningless to someone else. Be as clear as possible in communicating your needs, expectations and feelings.

Example: “I’m frustrated that you’re always late” – is blame with evaluation.

A mindful person would say: “I feel frustrated that you were late two times this week without letting me know. I could do some other things in the meantime, instead of being in such a rush to meet you.”

5. Use positive language:

Clarify what you want from the other person. Be specific and use positive language. People are more likely to listen to your arguments when you say what you want them to do instead of telling them what they shouldn’t do.

For example, if you want your loved ones to be more supportive, instead of saying: “You never listen to me and you don’t care about my passions”

A wise communicator would say:

“I would like you to listen more about my projects. I know that you have no idea what they’re about, but I guess what I want from you is to smile and say that I can make it. Your support is important to me.”

Effective communication is an art made up of many different components and a lot of goodwill. Avoid blaming or judging other people. Instead, ask yourself what’s really important to you. Practice mindfulness to raise awareness of your own needs and learn how to clearly express them.

Last but not least, communication is a dialogue; try and make a real effort to understand the other person. Remember that allowing another person to have different needs and opinions is liberating and makes the world more interesting. TC mark



An 81-Year-Old Discovered A Long-Lost Son After Finding A Letter Hidden By His Wife For 56 Years

“He’s my full son that I’ve had my whole life, but why my wife hid that letter is beyond me.”

An 81-year-old man has discovered a long-lost son after finding a letter sent by the child’s mother more than 50 years ago.

An 81-year-old man has discovered a long-lost son after finding a letter sent by the child's mother more than 50 years ago.

fox17online.com

Tony Trapani claims he found the letter after his wife died, when he was cleaning her filing cabinets.

The letter reads: “I have a little boy. He is five years old now. What I'm trying to say Tony is he is your son. He was born November 13th, 1953.”

fox17online.com

In a tearful interview with Fox 17 News, Trapani said he and his wife had been trying to have children all his life. “He's my full son that I've had my whole life, but why my wife hid that letter is beyond me,” he said.


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How To Get Through Your Quarter-Life Crisis

Alagich Katya
Alagich Katya

1. Give up the idea of a career path. Maybe 50 years ago, more people treated college like trade school and graduated expecting to work in the same field forever. Now, a hypothetical career “path” might look like this: study philosophy, become a consultant, start a business, sell it, go to law school, clerk for a judge, work for a law firm, and work for a nonprofit, all while teaching yoga on the side. If there’s one thing you love so much you can’t imagine doing anything else, hey, you’re one of the lucky ones. But if not, don’t worry – there are endless ways to combine all your interests.

2. Be honest with yourself. You’ve probably gone through enough job interviews to get in the habit of crafting a linear narrative of your path (see above) when in reality it may look like a road with a bunch of forks and you’re jumping between prongs. In conversations about your career development, give up that narrative. There’s a place for your pitches about why X industry is the next big thing and X job is really great amalgamation of your skills – job and school applications require us to explain our backgrounds in a way that makes sense – but sometimes these pitches become so rehearsed you forget you ever considered other possibilities. Maybe you studied creative writing in college and have worked in publishing since but have always wondered what it would be like to be a software engineer. While you probably wouldn’t tell this to a prospective employer for an editorial job, allowing yourself to feel that curiosity may lead you to explore options you otherwise would have overlooked.

3. Ask for help. Reach out to literally everyone you know in fields you’re considering. I vastly underestimated the number of people who were willing to meet or Skype with me to answer career-related questions. This is also an excellent way to keep in touch with potential mentors, employers, or recommendation-writers.

4. Don’t let your job define you. If you’re lucky enough to have a 9-5, the post-5pm world can be as much a part of your identity as your workday. You can take a class, join a Meetup group, attend a workshop, take a night job or freelance position, or work on a side project. It’s up to you whether you consider yourself, say, a project manager who writes poetry or a spoken word poet with a day job.

5. Remember your fifth-life crisis. And your tenth-life crisis. Because people who are vulnerable to quarter-life crises are generally vulnerable to other crises as well. When I look back on my early crises, I think, what was I so worried about? I mean, I was a *kid.* I had plenty of time to figure things out. In a few years, that’s probably how we’ll all look back at this period.

Good luck, and know you’re not alone. TC mark



Stripper Whisperer: The Art Of The Tease (Or… What’s In A C*ck, Really?)

Flickr / -Scipio-
Flickr / -Scipio-

Dedicated to Allan Mott

I’m coming clean here about a very small, albeit insignificant part of my life. Which is why I didn’t put much effort into the title. Nothing has mattered less to me than my time as a stripper, and I have more stories about my year as a kindergartner, so why bother trying to be all clever about it.

It wasn’t even my idea to write this. I saw no reason to rehash one summer of youthful indiscretions. A friend, who, it should be noted, is a man and, therefore, inherently biased in favor of general raunch, coaxed me into it. I said, “Friend, trust me. There is no story here. Everyone thinks stripping is crazy and wild, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s well-trodden literary territory anyhow, and frankly, I’ve nothing new to add.”

My male friend didn’t care. He wouldn’t listen. He was just excited to hear the word “stripper.” Everyone reacts to that word. It evokes raw and untamed body parts, and it rhymes with a lot of things.

Oddly enough, when people find out I stripped, nobody asks why. I find the lack of shock incredibly offensive. Why aren’t people wondering how such a smart, smarmy feminist got into such a racket? Do I reek of financial desperation? Do I dress like I lack a moral compass? I’ll tell you this: people would be shocked to learn that Justice O’Connor was a dancer in her youth. She wasn’t, of course, but my point remains.

I didn’t become a stripper because I came from a broken home or was sexually molested and sad. I did it because I visited my friend during one of her weekend shifts at The Lounge Cabaret Diamond Palace Fish Farm. Maria was carrying $1600 cash in her clutch with a ball of fivers rolled into a ball wedged in her butt crack and another ream of c-notes slid into a transparent compartment in her clear platforms. I was intrigued.

“What do I have to do?” I asked her.

“Just strut around stage and give lap dances.”

“No funny business?” I needed some reassurance that I wouldn’t have to prostitute myself.

“Only if you want to,” she reassured me.

First lesson I learned as a stripper, of course, is that strippers are not strippers. They are “exotic dancers.” The second and most critical lesson for me was that exotic dancers are not dancers. They’re sensual writhers. Pole twirlers. Floor wrigglers. I confused the terminologies on my first day and attempted to legitimately dance. I was mocked ceaselessly. Not by the other girls (strippers are too weary to find irony funny), but by patrons.

The hardest part of stripping wasn’t the work but fielding questions from interested parties. People were endlessly fascinated. They couldn’t get enough information. They’d ask me what it was like, was it scary, did clients stalk me, did people get stabbed. I was often forced to spin a regular shift at the club into a Penthouse forum letter written by Oliver Stone. I started making things up to deflect attention from the fact that I was boring. I’d never even heard of a boring stripper, I was so ashamed.

I didn’t work so hard in my life as when baldly lying about my adventures. The only actual absurd thing to happen during this time was when I flew to Arizona to meet a longtime pen-pal. While visiting, my pen-pal told all his friends about my job. They encircled me and wouldn’t stop asking questions. I ran out of story ideas for them, so I left a day early.

I had no stripper friends, so no stripper-friend stories. Dancers aren’t exactly the kind of women that inspire friendship. It’s hard to introduce yourself to a girl wearing a suspender thong and nipple netting. Imagine saying “Nice thong and netting,” to a woman. A WOMAN! No woman’s gonna stick around after a line like that. However, Maria was friends with some strippers, so I heard second-hand crazy stories about them stealing and maxing out each other’s credit cards.

With the little amount of small talk I made with fellow coworkers, I learned that no sex worker calls herself a sex worker. Except me. Any chance I could get. It’s not very often that a girl from a nice middle-class home with great parents gets paid to partake in debauchery. Sometimes I’d say I was in the debauchery industry. I also told people that I worked with “unsavory characters.” I met one cokehead in the bunch that summer, but the way I spun that yarn made it seem like the club was full of cokeheads, that there was coke flying everywhere, and that you couldn’t swing open a bathroom stall door without hitting some stripper in the head as she snorted a fat rail of coke off a toilet lid.

One story in particular I remember making up was for the benefit of Maria. I invented a character: a customer who read me his grocery list as I gave him a lap dance. I was scraping the bottom of the imagination barrel.

“He said, ‘Carrots, sugar, milk, broccoli, orange juice…’ over and over.”

I stared, waiting for her jaw to drop. Frankly, I was worried that I was the kind of person who could do extreme, insane things and not get any wacky anecdotes out of it. I waited for Maria’s reaction, but all she did was shrug and go, “Well, let’s hope he comes back so you can get a regular.”

Regulars. Guys who repeatedly frequent clubs because they fancy a particular girl or a particular subset of girl. When you have regulars, stripping becomes stable income. Maria took two of her regulars and made them into long-term boyfriends. One of them was a bonafide Mdewakanton Sioux tribal member. He received $40,000 a month (tax-free) from the Sioux-owned Mystic Lake Casino. That’s the kind of money it took to form a deep, passionate relationship with a stripper.

I, on the other hand, did not inspire regulars. I think it was because my brand wasn’t very sexual. When approached, I often said I preferred to be left alone. I enjoyed emasculating men during casual billiards games and smoking in a corner by myself. I had three stripper names I used in no particular rotation: Buckles, Stars-N-Stripes, and Estelle Horowitz.

Buying stripper gear was expensive and intimidating. Women mainly wore $400 lucite shoe ladders and managed to make bikinis out of 25 yards of dental floss. To this day, I cringe when I see exotic dancers wrongfully portrayed on TV wearing “career costumes,” like sexy police uniforms and lion-tamer outfits. Most strippers can’t afford clothes like these because they’re giving money to their disgusting boyfriends and making inflated, interest-only payments on their Cadillac Escalades. They’re also too pragmatic to expend additional effort creating fictional stage characters. They’ve learned that men aren’t turned on by creative uses of bullwhips or hilarious wigs. They really like nipples and pussy mainly. So best to just create a character who shows nipples and pussy.

Whenever anyone tells me that the only thing keeping them from stripping is being naked, I recoil in horror. When I was onstage, nudity was the most incidental part of the entire act. I was grateful to be nude, so nobody would notice the terror sweeping over my face. I remember hissing to a guy bent on gazing into my eyes, “Stop with that. Look down here, buster! This is what you came for! What is wrong with you? Get it together. Oh, wow, a dollar. Big whoop.” (I was very entitled.)

And I never cottoned to the shoes. Every girl wore seven-inch stilettos. I thought, “Why don’t they raise the floor seven inches so we can wear comfy loafers?” Clomping around like a Clydesdale, I was always on the verge of knocking over a waitress’s tray of drinks, grabbing her thong on my way down, and breaking both my ankles. One time I was in the middle of an onstage sex-kitten charade when my shoe slipped out from under me and kicked a guy’s drink off the brass tip rail. Cranberry juice went everywhere (this was a dry bar – if you wanted your cranberry juice with something harder, you’d have to go to a titty bar). The worst part was, later on, I had to give Cranberry Shirt Stain a serious lap dance without laughing (he didn’t fucking leave after getting drenched in juice!).

The club music was unbearable. My musical preferences run along the lines of Beethoven and Schubert, but Waldstein isn’t considered universally sexy, so I gyrated to Wing, Ratt, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Metallica, and R. Kelly. Beyond this musical sacrifice, providing lap dances, and performing onstage every hour, the club rules stipulated that, several times a night, all dancers had to get in a conga line with each other and parade around the club for two minutes advertising discounted dances. A siren blared and the wannabe DJ host would say, “Let’s get these fine ladies up to the stage!” which meant I had to stop whatever I was doing and get online. It was mandatory, and I hated it. To get out of partaking in what I believed to be the most humiliating act as a stripper, I’d run into the bathroom until the whole bullshit thing was over. Because of this constant, intrusive interruption, I developed a lifelong Pavlovian fear-response to firetruck sirens. If there’s ever a real fire, you’ll find me in the bathroom.

Strip clubs aren’t popular with townspeople, especially if they’re in residential neighborhoods. My bar in Coates, MN – Jake’s – was right across the street from a small family farmhouse. The signage read: BUCK NAKED LADIES in radiating, marquee-style lights. Imagine, as a family, having to think about pussy every time you left the house to go to the grocery store or a birthday party. Or looked out the window wistfully.

The town of Coates was sick of Jake’s seedy enterprise mucking up its conservative value system, so they convened a Town Hall meeting to address removing Jake’s by introducing a bill restricting the area’s commercial zoning laws. Jake got wind of this and formulated a plan. (I think it was his first plan ever.) He convinced all the strippers to register to vote in that county, even though none of them lived there. Then he paid them each a couple hundred to vote against the zoning bill. It worked. Jake’s remained a gentleman’s club, and politics remained politics. Until a few years later when Jake was charged with voter fraud and the club got shut down, but that’s another story.

I got out of the game before that scandal hit. During a riveting sex recital of a highly choreographed Ugly Kidd Joe number, a man sitting right at the edge of the stage looked at my clean-shaven vagina and said, “Meh. I’d prefer a little more mystery.” I pointed out that he was in a strip joint, a place not exactly known for mysteries outside of stripper deaths. But that was enough. I was done. It wasn’t worth it and nothing amazing ever happened anyway. I wrote a letter of resignation and handed it to Jake, who shook his head and told me that no girls quit his establishment without his permission.

Totally not true. Actually, I called him to put in my two weeks’ notice, and he laughed at me. “You know, you didn’t need to call, right? You could’ve just stopped showing up. That’s what everyone else does.” TC mark

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7 Lifestyle ‘Choices’ All Netflixers ‘Make’

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1. Counting time in show or movie lengths.

Yes, that 23-minute ride to work today – that’s a “F.R.I.E.N.D.S.” episode. That 48-minute total commute – that’s a “Br Ba.” Those 36 days, 5 hours, and 40 minutes – that’s a whole series called “How I met Your Mother.”

2. Recognizing extras in multiple shows or movies.

Let’s be honest, it’s the backgrounders who make or break the show. Avid Netflixers can determine the success and likeage of a show based solely off the extra cast.

3. Dying from “Whoops something went wrong…”

Okay, “whoops” hurts like an uppercut straight to the groin. And the ellipse, the passive aggressive, stinging amalgamation of three dots – why? As if one was not enough.

4. Looking at all four corners of the screen in random patterns (while in between episodes) to strengthen and move eye muscles.

This exercise is vitally important to the enthusiastic Netflixer. It flexes the eyes while providing a decent workout for one of the Netflix kind.

5. Obtaining third degree burns in the stomach region from laptop exhaustion.

This is the one and only reason why we Netflixers where shirts while swimming – not because of our exercise merely being eye movements and not because of that bowl of mint chocolate chip ice-cream to the right of our screen – no, Netflixers wear shirts to cover burns.

6. Rewarding basic actions with Netflix time.

Wow, 5 whole minutes devoted to thinking about researching how to invest in the future. Good for you, Netflixer, give yourself a good hour.

7. Keeping a tab open of the sacred site.

Opens up computer. Discreetly clicks on hidden tab. Begins watching “New Girl.” TC mark