Archive | Etiquette Matters

New Year Rules of Order

I never get too worked up about New Years since it’s just a reboot of the totally arbitrary Christian calendar. (Even Christ was reportedly born in the spring.) But just because I don’t believe in the New Year doesn’t mean it doesn’t believe in us. So herein lies my 13 rules of order for a new year. 2019 update: Please note that I tailor these mandates every year, 13 is a very lucky number for we witches, and everything comes down to honoring the social contract….

1. If you think of something that needs to be done, do it. This is especially true if you can do it in the time you’re thinking of it. That said…

2. Lists are great. If you have a bevy of things to do, externalizing them can restore order in your monkey brain. And anything is easier when broken out into steps. I recommend using ruled notepads. To this day, few things satisfy like crossing items out on an actual sheet of paper. That said…

3. Be impeccable by your word. I got this rule from some New-Agey thing I read years ago, but it’s very true. Don’t say something unless you mean it; don’t make plans you can’t keep; don’t write checks you can’t cash; don’t arrive later than you said you would; do everything you say you’re going to do. Usually people fail at this because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings or they’re hedging their bets. Put bluntly, that’s selfish, even if it doesn’t seem that way. That said…

4. Accept your limitations. When you expect more of yourself than you can accomplish, it’s stressful for you and everyone who comes into contact with you. What’s more, you help no one when you don’t ask for help you need, and all work and no play makes everybody a dull Jackée. That said…

5. Don’t hide behind your conditioning. I was raised to mobilize others but it turns out I’m as good as the next guy at fixing things around the house, sorting out technology, and handling the money. I just had to shore up, and there’s probably some area of your life where you could do the same thing. That said…

6. It’s an explanation, not an excuse. Whenever someone uses their past to rationalize their present malfeasances, I check out. It is my core belief that if you can articulate the problem, you can roll up your sleeves and fix it. That said…

7. Apologize if you fuck up. It’s simple. Don’t say sorry if it’s not your fault. Do if it is. So much drama ensues in this world because people don’t adhere to this rule. That said…

8. Say please and thank you. Life is rough enough with a little cream in your coffee. If someone helps you, let them know you noticed. If you are asking someone to do something, let them know you’ll appreciate the effort. Above all, recognize others’ kindness and be kind as well. This courtesy is required even when you think you are owed. Entitlement is always ugly. That said…

9. If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything. Nine times out of ten, no matter what you’ve been taught, expressing your raw feelings before they’ve been digested is a bad call. Whining hurts everyone’s ears, as does rudeness. If you really feel held hostage by your frustration, write it down and put it away for a day. Once you’ve cooled your jets you’ll know if that ire can be channeled productively. That said…

10. If you love someone, let them know. If they can’t handle it, that’s not your fault. If they can, you just turned on a light. This is true no matter what kind of bond you share. That said…

11. Treat people like friends, not family. It is my experience that declaring someone family means you believe your bond will survive even the worst behavior. Friendship is elective and therefore requires a higher level of care and consciousness in order to survive. Behave accordingly in all your relationships. That said…

12. Work alone. I know, I know: you expected me to say work well with others. And of course you should. But the tree falls in the woods no matter what; it’s impossible to share what you haven’t already created; people who can’t be by themselves are terrible company; and working together is very different from only coming alive when someone is by your side. Furthermore, don’t ask a question you can answer yourself and don’t ask for help if you can take care of a matter on your own. Bottom line: Codependence is crap. And fundamentally…

13. Clean up after yourself. This is true on every level of life. Do not expect others to clean up after you. Do not expect to clean up after others. And always clean up as you go.

Do the Right Thing

Pictured here: my seasonal subway wince. I love New York as much as anyone I know, but the city is not only hot but hot-headed in the dog days of summer; when temperatures and humidity climb, everyone’s manners go straight out the window. (Hygiene too; witness the pervasive eau de rotting lemons and dashed dreams.) This is a shame, for excellent NYC etiquette is required to ensure we don’t kill each other as we walk down the street. Me, I’m hightailing it to my hometown of Boston. Even with its genetically engineered surliness and crap driving Massholia is preferable this time of year. I think it has something to do with being located right on the coast. The Atlantic Ocean washes away all delusions of grandeur. So get in touch if you’re going to be around. I’m even considering doing some quickie, cheapo tarot readings a la the ladies who crowd Union Square except not so scary and bullying. Like I said: etiquette is key.

Notes from the Soggy Underground

Four seemingly unrelated observations that consumed my soggy journey home tonight. (No doubt a Jungian scholar could tease out a few useful connections.) 1. Regarding John Travolta’s nonresponse to “Going Clear,” I’d love it if just once a zombie-celeb actually read or watched some criticism of Scientology before rushing to the defense of their cult. 2. Umbrella, subway, smartphone, tipping, and sidewalk etiquette certification should be required of all NYC residents and visitors. 3. This spring’s fashion can best be described as Blade Runner Chic. It’s all futuristic noir, 1940s-style punk, Victorian blouses, white-blond shocks of hair, dark pompadours, impossibly narrow silhouettes, bright lips, black-rimmed eyes, platform shoes. I dig it all so much that I cut my hair and bought (more) red lipstick. 4. I’m still laughing about people’s responses to the shearing of my mermaid tresses: “Your hair was far too long before.” Even my shrink said this. Word to Mattel: Can the plans for Fortysomething Barbie.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy