Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia
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Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia

By Mrs. Julien | Comment Diversions | November 17, 2012 | Comments ()


Always take a picture of yourself on a day when you look good. Then, in twenty years, as far as anyone knows, that's how you looked all the time.

That is the sum total of my life experience and the only advice I really have to offer. It is excellent advice for the deeply vain, but not exactly profound; fortunately, I have also been given excellent advice upon occasion, to wit:

My first boyfriend and I dated for several years. He wasn't always as nice to me as he might have been. Run of the mill youthful schmuck behavior. I'm sure he had complaints about me too, I know I do, and perhaps Mr. Julien could suggest some as well. About a year after our break up, I was dating a gorgeous man 7 years my junior named Fabio. (That's not relevant to the story, I just like to mention it whenever possible.) I made the rather odd decision to meet my ex-boyfriend for coffee. I felt confident going in, but it was all an illusion. When your first love, who can read you like a book, is sitting across the table from you, you're naïve to think you can come away unscathed. We discussed who we were seeing and what was happening in our lives. We talked for hours. It was familiar and fun, and I found myself opening up in ways I didn't feel entirely comfortable with, but I was smiling and telling myself it was so great. We were so grown up and civilized! We could be friends.

The next day, I was bent out of shape in about 10 different ways. I felt manipulated and hurt. I was so angry with my ex-boyfriend that I was ranting to a friend about it. He simply said, "You know, just because you're not in control doesn't mean the other person is". I still have the post it I frantically scribbled it down on. I try to remember that when I am feeling mistreated or put upon it doesn't mean the other person is some gigantic jerk or schemer. They might be having a hard time too. It's difficult to remember in the moment, but it works as an excellent salve later, especially when one remembers that when we are really upset at someone else, it's usually really ourselves we are angry with. (That last bit is from Will and Grace of all places.)

I'm still friends with Fabio. He's a paramedic now and would like to advise all of you not to cut a down jacket off a patient

Welcome to your weekend comment diversion. Please tell us about excellent advice you have either given or received.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • wendy

    "remember your ABCs - Always Be Cool."
    you all know what show that's from.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    My favorite piece of wisdom ever:
    "Sin lies only in hurting other people unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense." - Robert A. Heinlein

    Other good bits:

    -Never argue with an idiot in public; people may have a hard time telling you apart. (courtesy of my Dad)

    -When asked to use "horticulture" in a sentence, Dorothy Parker said "You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think."

  • ,


    Two cars meet in the middle of a one-lane bridge. One guy sticks his head out the window and yells, "I never back up for an idiot!" Other guys sticks his head out the window and yells, "I always do!" and backs up.

    For a long time my dad and his wife had my elderly and slipping-into-dementia grandmother living with them. I asked him how he managed to handle that and he shrugged and said, "Everything is temporary."

  • Jaaron Matthews

    Don't complain without having a solution for what you're complaining about. Otherwise, you're just whining. No one likes a whiner.

  • selucius

    "Nothing you do or say is going to unbang Dennis's mom."

  • Melissa D

    Ok, here's mine: "If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"

    And this one:

    "If a person tells you a truth about themselves, believe it." That's the one I am struggling to come to grips with.

  • Racharooni

    Your children are put on this earth to teach you that your parents were right after all.

  • Aston

    Don't put off until tomorrow what you can leave 'til next week.

  • Pajamas

    From my mom:

    Remember to breath.
    Read what's there, not what you think is there.

    Valuable advice.

  • littlealbatross

    From my older sister: "It can always get worse, and probably will."

    "Come what come may, time and hour runs through the roughest day" -Macbeth

  • llp

    When I was having a rough patch at work, my dad told me that as long as I always did my best, I should be able to sleep at night. My best efforts might not be the same from day to day, but it is always my best.

    When other people don't contribute to my standards at work, I think about that too - their best might not be the same as my best (on that day at least), but it is still the best they are able to offer, so who am I to criticize?

    Maybe not very pithy, but it makes my work day less stressful.

  • Oh! And this one was burnt into my brain as soon as I heard it, and I hope I never forget it: "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing. "

    I know it's from a TV show, but damn if that's not the truest sentence I've ever heard.

  • Uriah_Creep

    That is from our favorite, wisest guru, Ron Swanson. Good advice.

  • Always, always, ALWAYS listen to Ron Swanson.

  • Melina

    I wrote some truly horrible love poetry and sent it to my next door neighbor who was locked up in juvie for the summer ( in my head at the time he was my one true love and just a misunderstood intelligent took about 15 years for me to lose my horrible taste in men), my mom overheard it read by his snickering mother at a party as she gleefully revealed that I was the author of such amazing lovesick drivel. While she did her best to defend me and downplay my (obviously unrequited) crush, she came home and told me, "If you don't write it down, it won't be used against you". I have never forgotten that advice.

  • Also: Never go with a hippie to a second location.

  • "People only ask for advice when they know they're not going use it, and so that they can have someone to blame for having given it."

    That's from The Three Musketeers. I might have butchered it a bit (it was prettier) but that's the best advice ever.

  • ,

    Oh, that reminds me of one I occasionally have to repeat to Mrs. ,:

    If you think you might not like the answer, don't ask the question.

  • Melissa D

    That's a really good one. I had a wise friend tell me that - don't ask a question if you're not prepared to hear the answer. A lot of people ask questions just to be vindicated and aren't ready to hear an answer that might go against what they've accepted. It's ok not to be able to hear something, but just don't ask if you're not ready.

  • Do what you want. You're going to do it anyway.

  • BlackRabbit

    Living for the moment uses them up too quickly. Live for the years.

  • blacksred

    Under Promise Over Deliver

  • Shonda

    "Nothing is more permanent than change." I overheard this being told to a person who has a hard time with things being different and not the same as it was whenever. I repeat this when someone is lamenting that we are not 25 or that "the good ol' days" are gone. Very handy.

    And "You are not that powerful." Told to me when I was blaming myself for my brother's actions. Damn. That's a good one and I tell myself that one all of the time.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Did I miss a paragraph between the great talk over coffee and the next day when you were furious? I don't understand how you got there.

  • ,

    That's women for you.

    Or so I've been told by advisors.

  • Soda

    This is for every single one of us who are in some state of middle management:

    If you are held responsible for somehting you can't control, you are not in charge. You are a scapegoat.

  • Pepper

    Be polite even if you dislike the person.
    Offer only the help you can reasonably give and don't promise more than that.
    Think before you speak or write.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    From my brother "Did you sign a contract promising you life would be easy?"

  • TheGreatUnstainer

    Don't iron a shirt if you're wearing it at the time. I burnt my belly button, which was extremely difficult to explain.

  • Sassy Rouge

    "Always go to the bathroom when you have the chance." Hands down the best advice I have ever heard.

  • BlackRabbit

    And sleep. Not in the restroom, just sleep when you can.

  • catagisreading

    Don't take your contacts out until you know where your glasses are.

  • Guest

    "Fear is a liar." Trite, chicken-soupy, and glaringly CBT, but man has it helped me out in recent times. This one might get tatted, even.

  • megaera

    From one of my most beloved authors, Bujold (somewhat paraphrased): When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action. The corollary being, when you want a particular consequences, you'd better make damned sure you choose the actions most likely to get it for you.

    I've used that advice so many times in my life for so many things. My favorite is probably brainwashing...I mean teaching a group of kindergarteners this, and, along with Biblioglow's favorite: You can only control your actions, not the actions of others (as well as my favorite corollary to that: No one can control your actions but you), I got the whole group of kids (ages 4-6) to self-regulate on the playground. In a matter of 10 days, fighting had pretty much ceased at recess, thanks to their squishy brains and the lack of any truly sadistic child in the group. A father came up to me at an open house and asked why his five-year-old daughter had asked him when he was picking up her baby sister, "Dad, you chose actions that made the baby cry! What action are you going to pick so she stops?"

    Also, I like that it reminds me that consequences are just as much good things as bad. It's easy to think about one's poor choices and forget all of the good decisions made.

    Perhaps I should post in on a sign and walk around Washington D.C.

  • zeke_the_pig

    I have two:
    Mother: 'The hungover shit's gotta come out.'
    Father: '96% of all people are cunts.'
    Both have served me exceedingly well.

  • bridgeseller

    The one I always tell myself when things seem terrible is that I don't actually know what will happen tomorrow. It hasn't happened yet.

    This always gives me some small degree of hope.

  • Return of Santitas

    From my mother, when I was going through divorce (I never call it "my" divorce because that implies it is a permanent part of me): "If someone is telling you who they are, you have to believe them even if you don't like it. You can't change someone."

  • Return of Santitas

    Oh, also: the perfect is the enemy of the good. I remind myself of that at least five times a week.

  • BiblioGlow

    1. Don't be reluctant to feel unhappy. I believe that happiness is a choice, and I hate whining, but I've learned the past few years that unhappiness has its purpose too. Don't be afraid to let yourself feel unhappy, because that is one of the best goddamn motivations to change your life I've ever encountered.

    2. You can't control other people, you can only control you. I learned this the hard way dealing with some of my best friends, but it's been equally as applicable in dealing with the public, coworkers, family, etc. You can't control what other people do, think, or say. You can only control what you do.

    3. Life is hard and short, but it's all you get. So enjoy it. Don't distance yourself from your life in an effort to be cool or cynical or safe. This is all you get. As bad as it possibly is, it could be a thousand times worse, and is for millions of people. Find your own joy. Throw yourself at every day.

    4. If you want to hear the truth from someone, ask them while they're drunk.

    Thanks for all the good advice, Pajibans! I'm bookmarking this page.

  • competitivenonfiction

    My dad used to say "never wrestle with a pig, you always get dirty and the pig likes it."

  • Gabs

    "Not all who wander are lost." Enough to get it tattooed on my right forearm. It's a good reminder when I feel like my career choice isn't so much a career OR a choice.

    "Quiet places are for brave people."

  • ,

    Wisdom from 55 years of living:

    1. Things are never as bad as they seem.

    2. Things can always get worse.

    3. Never, never, never, never, never bet against the comeback.

  • If you ever have to perform in public, just remember that the audience isn't watching you, the person. They're watching you, the speaker, or you, the character. Who you are is not dependent upon how your performance is received.

    And if you want to take it to the next level, this is where I teach my theater students the difference between the person, the character, and the performance. You are a person assuming the life of a character. You're performing their life story, which is their reality. If the audience laughs, cries, boos, or cheers, they're judging your character, not you the person. Learning to be a good performer in the public eye is learning to separate yourself from the character while drawing upon your life experience to make the public persona real for the audience.

    This is so much easier with a whiteboard, markers, and my mad visual aid building skills.

  • duckandcover

    My dad's advice always started with "You're going to want to know this, in case I'm not around anymore or you don't have a man around to do it for you." It was a delicious advice cocktail of old-fashioned chauvinism with a touch of new-time feminism. He always quotes the Book of Proverbs on resourcefulness as well. It always made me roll my eyes when I was a teenager, but beneath those words, he equipped me with a fierce style of independence and, yep, resourcefulness that I wouldn't trade for the world.

    Also, my sister's: "A done bun can't be undone."

  • Morgan_LaFai

    And from the British circa WWII: Keep calm and carry on. I love this bit of advice, though I do hate how horribly the US has appropriated it. But when I start getting angry I take a deep breathe and remind myself to keep calm and carry on. I have used in any number of social situations, cause I am a bit agoraphobic

  • chanohack

    The interesting thing about "Keep calm and carry on" is that the posters with that phrase weren't well-distributed at all during WWII, and they only became popular in 2000 when some bookstore owners found some of the posters and started selling prints. I think it's fascinating that it was *written* during WWII but took about sixty years to catch on.

  • Morgan_LaFai

    Only to be used as a last resort when moral had sunk almost irretrievably low, which I supposed it never did. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of used book stores. I have switched to a kindle but I still love to roam a used bookstore when I get the chance.

  • chanohack

    Wow, it's kind of spooky that you're asking this now. I've been thinking about this for days.

    Once I got kind of a promotion at work at work and for a couple months afterward everyone I ran into gave me advice. It was driving me nuts, and I vented to my (more-experienced) friend Tony that for some reason the years I'd already spent working there suddenly didn't count, because everyone was saying shit like, I'll let you on on this little secret, what you REALLY need to do is blah blah blah...

    Tony immediately responded with, "Let me give you some advice." He told me this: every time someone gives you advice, listen, say thank you, and apply the parts you like to what you're already doing at work (or in life). Forget the rest.

    Best advice ever.

    The reason it's spooky that you ask this now is that Tony died in a car accident on his way to work, almost exactly two years ago to the day. It'll be two years on Monday. That's why I've been thinking about it. I honestly think he was the nicest person in the world, which leads me to my own advice: hug all the people you love, because you never know when you'll never see them again.

    And for fuck's sake, drive safe.

  • Morgan_LaFai

    If this is all there is and nothing matters, then this moment is the most important moment and all my actions matter. Miss quoted from a former Pajiba article that really struck with me. I have long believed that life is pointless and nothing really matters, but the article took my argument and turned it on its head. I will forever love Pajiba for so inspiring me.

  • jumblerie

    I have a top three that keep me trucking on:

    1) "Learn lots. Play hard. Have fun." - My Dad said this to me everyday before school and text it to me everyday of university. Words to live your life by.

    2) "Their response is their responsibility" - Wonderful advice from my best friend and possibly the best thing you could say to a hopeless people-pleaser like me.

    3) "The thing about rock bottom, is that once you hit it, you don't go any lower - it's not quicksand, rock is hard and solid - so the only way is up" - This advice got me through the worst time of my life and I will never forget it.

  • Fredo

    My high school religion professor (I went to one of those Catholic schools) told me one time: "Life is like a bar where every drink is available and you can drink all you like. Just remember, at the end of the day, you settle your own tab -- no one can pay it for you -- and everyone has to pay up. So, since you gotta pay, drink what you like."

  • Bodhi

    And hangovers seriously suck after about 27...

  • lindaaargh

    It wasn't a piece of personal advice (in fact, it's from a Dresden Dolls song) but it had an impact on me nevertheless:

    "It's funny what they give you when you just learn how to ask."

    I had never learned how to ask for help, or ask for things I wanted or needed, or even just asking what was going through someone's head. I had always felt that asking for something was kind of obnoxious and demanding. But it's not; it's an important part of being an adult. And it's a mantra that has served me well. At work, in my relationship, in every area of life. If you want something, ASK FOR IT. The worst that can happen is that you will be told no.

  • ,

    Yes to this. I give this same advice to my daughter: Aim high. What's the worst that can happen? Somebody says "No"?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Don't take it personally.

    I have heard this is from The Four Agreements, which I haven't read. But in the past few years, I have found it to be excellent advice, and it keeps me zen. (I may not get angry enough about some things, actually.) It's always been advice for actors, a way to deal with great auditions that still don't land the job.
    But basically, it puts the reason for a person's behavior on the person himself. My friend who takes three days to respond to a text? Now I know - it's just who she is. The guy who can't love me the way I want to be loved? He just can't - it's not because I'm not deserving of that love. And if I'm 15 minutes late meeting you...well, it's because I'm always 15 minutes late. (if I get there on time, well, that you can actually take as a HUGE personal compliment)

  • par1964

    From Harry S. Truman: Never kick a fresh turd on a warm day.

    Words to live by. That is all.

  • Uriah_Creep

    If you don't like your job you don't strike. You just go in every
    day and do it really half-assed. That's the American way.
    - Homer Simpson

  • "Done is good. Better is the enemy of done." My best friend gave me that when I was trying to finish my degree, work full time, keep my marriage intact (and happy), and raise two kids. I did finish, and that's why.

    "You can't edit a blank page." Best damned writing advice ever. You can't edit an unfinished novel, either.

    Needless to say, these two bits of advice have done wonders for my writing and editing endeavors.

    Also, I firmly believe this and pass it on frequently: Civility costs nothing.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Those first two are exactly what I needed to hear right now.

  • PDamian

    From my father: "Never let your mouth write a check your ass can't cash." Unoriginal, but good advice nonetheless.

    From my grad school mentor: "Wherever you work, be it in the private or public sector, academia or elsewhere, remember: there will be crazy people in your workplace. Not necessarily clinically insane people ... just garden variety batshit crazies. Don't be the crazy, and don't poke the crazy."

    From hard experience: when the person you're desperately in love with starts to treat you like shit, get out. You can't fix him (or her, I imagine), you can't change him, and fear of loneliness or fear that you'll never find anyone else aren't good enough reasons to stick around. Make new friends -- or, if something prevents you from doing so, learn to be alone. Get out of the house. See something or someone new.

  • Szq

    Wear comfortable shoes and bring a book.

  • Guest


  • duckandcover

    I follow this to a tee.

  • Cordelia

    Don't torture yourself. Seriously, don't.

    And from my grandma: Luck goes as it goes.

  • well I could tell you the first advice I ever received It went something like this. "PUSH! COME ON! PUSHHHHHHHH!" I will let you decide how this has influenced my life.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    That advice was actually not for you.

  • Salieri2

    Wait, why shouldn't we cut down jackets off of patients? Is the down all nasty and germ-filled, or does it just get everywhere, or what?

  • Salieri2

    "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."


    "Remember to breathe."

  • mswas

    Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.

  • Holly Martins

    If you're going through hell, keep going - Winston Churchill

    People without a sense of orientation see much more of the world - postcard

  • Victoria Karol

    I can't remember where I heard this, but it stuck with me: Holding a grudge against someone and expecting them to feel remorse is like eating rat poison and expecting a rat to die.

  • Soda

    I get distracted so easily. I postpone and procrastinate and I just don't get shit done. So, I tattooed "age quod agis" on my forearm, and whenever I find myself getting sidetracked, I look at my arm and get back to doing what I'm doing. It's a little insane having to tattoo yourself, but there you go. Do what you do.

  • TheShitWizard

    It's not so insane - I have three tattoos, each done after getting through a nasty bout of depression, to try and remind me that no matter how bad I feel at the time, things DO get better...

  • Bodhi

    It makes perfect sense to me. I have "calm down" in Ancient Greek
    tattooed on my wrist so I can smack myself if the head with it if
    absolutely necessary. (Its often necessary). It translates to weasel without the diacritical marks, which my tattooist friend finds endlessly funny

  • John W

    Always listen to your mother she's wiser than anyone else in the world.

  • QueBarbara

    This one is so corny I hesitate to post it, but I use it all the time.

    "One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

    The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

    The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

    The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’"

  • wendy


  • Melina

    We actually talk about this when I teach Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde :)

  • Groundloop

    "Hope for the best, but plan for the worst", and "Keep your area clean".

  • winged chorus

    From my late mum:
    "Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted"
    She was in the Army her whole career.

    From both parents when trying to teach me 'manners':
    "'Having manners' and 'being polite' isn't about some bullshit like which knife and fork to use at a fancy restaurant or being able to 'act like a lady/gentleman'. Its nothing more or less than consideration for another person in any given situation. The goal is for your manners to be so subtle that nobody notices them, they just feel good or comfortable. The person who uses the language of politeness to make another person feel bad is rude in the worst way."

    Mum again:

    "If you don't speak up, nobody will know you feel hurt. Often you feel wronged and can't believe the other person (that obnoxious, oblivious bastard!) has the front to act like they don't even know it. They probably actually don't know it."

    "People tend to associate bad things you say about others with yourself.
    if you call someone incompetent or lazy or nasty or cheap, they will subconsciously think that about you a little bit. Just the way it works"

    "You can always, always find something nice to say about something even if you hate it. Its not lying, its finding the best in something and articulating it."

    Sorry for the long post, but I just really like some of the things she said.

  • Salieri2

    I like them all, but especially the reconnaissance thing. The Air Force has taught me some useful slogans (I am just a bystander, mind you): "Air superiority is the key to flexibility" and "I don't have power, I just have responsibility" are my faves.

  • Kati

    There are three phrases I return to:

    Depression lies. (Thanks Blogess!)

    It is what it is.

    Avoiding a job is like leaving a fish on the counter - the longer you leave it be, the more it stinks.

    The last two are from my husband the Zen Master, who is one of the most even-keeled people I know. Which is great, because I can go from zero to standby in three words or less.

  • duckandcover

    I never liked "It is what it is," because to me, that was always a signal of resignation or defeat, but in a haughty kind of way. "Well, I can't change this. It is what it is, you know?" This is in the context of applying the comment to situations that can be changed as opposed to, say, a death.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    "It is what it is." I love that saying---mainly because it's not so much a statement of resignation so much as it's simply an expression that situations in life come up, and you have to deal with them upfront as they are and as they come---things you have to deal with as part of dealing with the ups and downs of life in general---that's what it means to me.

  • chanohack

    Funny. "It is what it is" is one of the statements that MAKES me go zero-to-stabby, along with "Having fun yet?!?"

  • spoobnooble

    If you work in the construction trades, you'll hear it a lot. "It is what it is" covers every scenario from moving a 1500 boiler up a stairwell to a late parts delivery. Bitching about it won't get the job done, so deal with it.

  • spoobnooble

    "1500lb boiler", that is... damn typos. Oh well, it is what it is, right?

  • Kati

    Uh, that would be "stabby" not "standby"

  • Danar the Barbarian

    I kind of liked standby, like torpedoes are loaded and ready to launch, standby!

  • Brooke

    Always say I love you before leaving a loved one, because you never know when it may be your last chance. My mother tried to instill this in us when I was growing up, but I didn't pay a lot of attention. When my brother died suddenly, I realized exactly what she was saying and why it was so important.

  • TK

    From my dad: if a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing right.

    From the great musician PW Long: you can wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up first.

    I basically live my life by these two statements.

  • Bodhi

    They are both badass

    "wish in one hand..." should be my family motto. Hubs & I remind each other of it about 5x a week.

  • BWeaves

    From my Mom:

    1. You'll never find Mr. Right if you're living with Mr. Wrong.

    2. Never marry a man who snores. Me: How do I find out if he snores. Mom: Ask one of his old girlfriends.

    From an old professor, from back when I believed in fate:

    3. It's very easy to blame God for your successes and your failures. Why don't you take responsibility for your own actions?

    Needless to say, I no longer believe in fate.

  • Maguita NYC

    It is true that with age comes the understanding that you hold much of your happiness and fate in your own hands, and you cannot blame some "sky-daddy" anymore for not getting your way.

    A harsh lesson that, what with life-long indoctrination and whatnot.

    But the most important thing I've learned in regard to man/woman relationships came oddly enough from my very conservative father:

    Never rely on a man's word, and self-promotion, but watch closely his everyday actions. ESPECIALLY when he talks/glorifies himself so very much!

  • Clancys_Daddy

    Or god.

  • BWeaves

    True. Although the not believing in God bit came 30 years later.

  • Modernlove

    You can't change people's reactions, only how you respond to them.

  • dorquemada

    Don't fry bacon when you're naked.

  • blacksred

    i learned this the hard way!

  • funtime42

    Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

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