Letters To My Mentor Who Doesn't Know I Exist

I'm a writer and I have a mentor who doesn't know I exist. This is where I write her letters.

#34. For Kathy

Dear Kathy,

Welcome to the blog that’s dedicated to you but, really, all about me.

If you’re reading this, that means you received my email and you’re probably nervous/scared of what this is. It’s OK, I feel the same way. 

In order to understand, you need to start here at #1 and work your way up in numbers.

For more explanation on this blog and me you can go here, here and here. But really you should just start at #1 first.

Once you read the blog, feel free to contact me immediately. Or don’t. Whatever. It’s fine. I don’t care immensely or anything so it won’t completely ruin my life and cause me to give up all my hopes and dreams for a job at Starbucks where I’ll eventually get fired for eating all the cake pops and be run out of town by the Morning Yoga Latte Mommies with their expensive strollers and screaming toddlers and then end up on the streets where I live under an overpass with a rat I name “Emotions” and sleep on a bed made of plastic soda bottles and hair and years from now everyone will know me as “The Lady Of A Thousand Tears” if you don’t respond. But do whatever makes you comfortable; it’s not a big deal either way. 

Sincerely,

Your Future BFF, Mentee, and hopefully not The Lady Of A Thousand Tears,

Quinn Katherman

#32. A Platypus Named Helen

Dear Kathy,

I’m jealous of your writer brain, Clyde. He sounds so beautiful and smart and fast and magical…

This is what Clyde looks like in my head. 

I’ve waited to do this because I wasn’t sure they’d get along, but I think it’s worth the risk.

Kathy and Clyde - please meet my writer brain, Helen:

Helen hates this picture of herself. Please don’t tell her I showed it to you.

I know it’s an unlikely friendship but if there was ever a time for two mammals to forge a friendship and break down writer brain barriers, it is now.

Helen, I’m going to leave you here. Please play nice with Clyde and keep your venomous outbursts to a minimum. 

Clyde, for my sake, please don’t piss off Helen.

Sincerely,

Quinn and Helen

#31. Teach Me How To Dougie, LOL

Dear Kathy,

Can you teach me how to not be me? I think a lot of people would really appreciate that.

Let me know when you get a chance so I can let those other people know when it’s fair to start having higher expectations of me.

Thanks,

Quinn, a malleable snowflake

#30. Jesus Is Still Pretty Famous

Dear Kathy,

I started working out with a trainer. He asked me what my goals were and I said, “To have an ass like Jessica Alba, arms not like Oprah and Jesus-nailed-to-the-cross abs.”

He was nodding his head until I got to the part where I said I wanted to look like Jesus dying and suddenly things got weird.

"Sorry, are you offended?"

"No, I just think that’s a weird thing to say," he said while rolling out different equipment and exercise torture devices.

"Well I think exercise is a weird thing to do."

"Get in plank position with your legs on this ball."

Because doing just a normal plank isn’t hard enough, he gave me a ball so I’d have to fight for stability.

"I’m pretty sure Jesus would be flattered to know that I want his abs."

"Stay on the ball, but lay on your back. We’re going to do chest presses. As many as you can do in 90 seconds. Use the 15 pound weights."

There was no “we” about it. After five I couldn’t do anymore and he handed me the girly purple ten pound weights as if I had failed him.

"Jesus had nice shoulders, too."

"Talking is only going to make this exercise harder."

Next he made me do burpees, which sounds like a neat new way to excrete gas from your body but it’s not. 

"You know, when you think about it, Jesus was just a hippie with an agenda."

"OK, now you’re going to do 25 squats… You’ll need to squat lower than that."

"Did you ever have one of those friends who was like, ‘Hey man, sign my petition to get chemical free meats in the cafeteria. And hey, let me know if you want to drop some acid later.’"

"No. Let’s move to the treadmill."

He made me run on the treadmill without turning it on, like…manually push the treadmill by running. I know, I was flabbergasted too.

"Well that’s too bad. I did. Freaking hippies with agendas. You can’t be friends with them, but you can get good drugs from them…"

"Thirty more seconds. Try to focus and really give it all you’ve got."

My legs almost fell off. I couldn’t tell if I was falling or walking anymore but I definitely wasn’t running.

"I bet that’s how the bible was written, you know? Jesus and all his cronies were just hanging out all the time, doing weird biblical times drugs, tripping out and then writing down the stories."

He motioned for me to come over to the mat. 

"Leg lifts. As many as you can do in 90 seconds. Go."

"This would be a lot more fun if you would talk about stuff other than exercise."

"You’re doing pretty well on your own. Come on, 45 seconds left, really try to push it." 

The place where my abs should be felt like an ocean of a thousand fires.

"I doubt Jesus did a single leg lift to get those abs."

"No, he just died for our sins."

We spent the remainder of the session in silence.

That was the last time I worked out with a trainer. He didn’t understand that in order to maintain interest and determination, I require a little banter and conversational validation. I think there are a lot of people who don’t understand that about me. But I bet my mentor would…eh? Am I right? Of course I’m right. We’re going to be like Batman and Robin, Lewis and Clark, Thelma and Louise, Marco and Polo, Ethel and Lucy, like JESUS AND GOD! 

I hope you’re excited.

Sincerely Sore And Still Sweaty,

Quinn

#29. Compatibility

Dear Kathy,

Do you believe in astrology? Me neither.

Sincerely Hope You’re Not An Aries, Taurus, Scorpio or Sagittarius,

Quinn (Libra) 

#28. A Day In The Life

Dear Kathy,

What’s a typical day like for you? I want to know everything. You know, so we can get a head start on being besties forever. 

Here’s mine:

1. Wake up. Fall back asleep. Wake up. Fall back asleep. Wake up.

2. Realize I have nothing to wear because nothing fits.

3. Decide to go on a diet while on the way to work.

4. Get to work and eat three cookies, a handful of chips, two doughnuts, a bag of M&Ms, and half an apple all before lunch.

5. LOL! Quit diet.

6. Curse the world.

7. Write you a letter.

8. Have feelings.

9. Write something for something I don’t care about.

10. Feel constipated.

11. Go back on diet.

12. Play Ball Cup.

13. Note the water levels for my brine shrimp.

14. Say happy birthday. Eat a cupcake.

15. Work. Think. Think. Think harder!

16. Smoke break.

17. Quit smoking.

18. Work furiously.

19. Say something moderately funny on Twitter.

20. Talk to my sister on Gchat. Misinterpret her tone. Get in fight.

21. Think about dinner.

22. Start smoking again.

23. Make a to-do list.

24. Lose to-do list.

25. Look up pictures of kittens wearing hats.

26. Take a creative director’s criticism too personally.

27. Hate advertising.

28. Get on WebMD. Convince myself I have a tumor or diabetes.

29. Eat popcorn. Get a beer.

30. Have an idea.

31. Love advertising.

32. Think about working out.

33. Go to the gym.

34. Write tweets about how the gym sucks while laying on a mat and pretending to stretch.

35. Go home.

36. Drink wine.

37. Eat cheese for dinner.

38. Dream of what I might accomplish some day.

39. Drink more wine.

40. Write you a letter.

41. Read, drink and smoke on the porch.

42. Tell husband to pick up his shit.

43. Tell the dog to stop barking.

44. Work up a new standup routine I’m convinced is the most hilarious thing in the world.

45.  Call my sister and read her the routine.

46. Cry because she hates it and everyone hates me and oh my god I suck at everything!

47. Drink more wine. Have more feelings. Eat some ice cream.

48. Lay on the couch.

49. Fall asleep on the couch.

50. Wake up on the couch at 4:30 a.m. and think it’s a dream.

51. Curse myself.

52. Promise to live better tomorrow.

53. Forget to set my alarm.

Sincerely,

Quinn

#26. The State of Trying

Dear Kathy,

Ideas are evaporating attention whores, aren’t they? Sometimes they explode like a high brow fireworks display - impatient, impetuous and demanding - each more beautiful than the last. Other times they hide like elusive prey, too delicious and rare, they’ve evolved to camouflage themselves from predators like me. 

I think I need a muse. Right now I have a weird OCD-like routine I like to do when I need to come up with ideas and it involves this:

It’s called Ball Cup. I keep it at my desk and before I really try to come up with new ideas I play Ball Cup. If I make it once within three tries, that means I’ll have at least one good idea. If I don’t make it at all, I keep trying until I do and then I tell myself it’s the same thing even though I know it’s not. 

The key to Ball Cup is rhythm. You have to let the ball swing just a little bit and then let it go to its home in the cup. But you can’t try too hard because it’s one of those things that’s easy and meant to be simple, which means any amount of trying you put into it will cause you to lose, fail, disappoint, get fired, club baby seals, have a mental breakdown, buy a bunch of exotic birds named Mary Kate and, ultimately, die alone.

The same is true of ideas. You need rhythm and you can’t try too hard. I don’t know why I always forget this, but I do. I’ve never been one of those people who could mentally get away with not trying too hard. I give my first ex-stepmother most of the credit for this annoying trait I developed early and then carried into adulthood (yes, you read that right - first ex-stepmother). She would get furious with the way I did everything, especially chores. She used to say it was as if I wasn’t even trying. Of course, she was right. I was eleven and seemingly incapable of caring about how the dishwasher was loaded or the way the socks were folded. But she told me that not trying or caring was a habit of lazy people and lazy people don’t go far in life. When I was thirteen and super into show choir, she told me to have realistic expectations of myself so adulthood wouldn’t be so hard (yes, you read that right - show choir).

"You probably won’t get into any colleges - not with your laziness - but you could go to a community college. Then you’d at least have a degree. And maybe you could work towards singing radio jingles someday," she said while driving a brand new Saab my father bought her and chewing Trident gum as if it might jump out of her mouth and try to run away. I gave up singing immediately and started making books my friend. Then I wrote about her, realizing this would be the only way for me to say all the things I wanted to say. I knew I was capable of trying, of caring, of not being a "lazy spoiled brat" (her favorite term of endearment for me) - in fact, I was capable of more than she could ever imagine. At least, this is what I told myself while plotting my revenge and rise to fame in a Hello Kitty diary. 

Since then, I’ve been in a perpetual state of trying. It’s not always a bad place, but there’s nothing luxurious about it. The state of trying means I’m always undone, incomplete, unsatisfied. It means I’m a hamster in a wheel, the lowest person on the totem poll, a dancing monkey who eats coins and rolls cigarettes out of dollar bills. It means I’m impossible, insatiable, unrelenting and completely obnoxious. I’m all of these things because of trying, including a master of Ball Cup.

And it will be because of trying that we’ll become inseparable, lifelong friends and the famous duo known as “Quathy.” (We can work on our name.)

Until then…

Sincerely,

Quinn

#24. Dirty Mouth, Literally

Dear Kathy,

I just found out I have a cavity in my front tooth. If this is a deal breaker for you I totally understand. I would not want to waste my mentor juice on someone who is white trash enough to get a cavity in their front tooth either. 

I’ve always been proud of my grill, especially my front grill. It’s a feature people tend to compliment when they feel awkward and realize they have nothing else to compliment me on. Now I feel like the one thing I had going for me is gone. 

It all happened so fast. My dentist, who looks like he could be Gary Busey’s more down to earth brother, was telling me about how he took his kids camping recently and oh boy they’re rascals when you get them out in nature! But then, all of a sudden, right in the middle of hearing about how little Toby got poison ivy, he said, “Oh no!” I, of course, don’t give a fuck about Toby and immediately start freaking out.

ME: WHA? ARMAHGAH WHA?

His hands were still in my mouth.

HIM: Looks like you’ve got a cavity.

I jerked away and spit his hands out as if they were dirt.

ME: No. I. Do. NOT.

HIM: Uh, yes. Yes, you do. Look, I’ll show you…

He gave me a mirror and because I’m spoiled by technology I think this $.99 mirror from CVS is the most ghetto thing that’s ever been in my hands.

HIM: See this slight gum recession? Well now it’s home to a little cavity.

ME: Are you kidding? I’ve never had a cavity before!

HIM: I’m not kidding, young lady. Watch…

(He calls me “young lady” a lot. At first it was nice but now it feels like an insult.)

He took that pointy sticky object and pressed on the exposed area where the gum had recessed. I jerked, squirmed and squealed in pain.

HIM: Yeah, hurts a little doesn’t it?

He smiled, satisfied to have proved his point.

ME: Fuck you you dirty weird ass old man who looks like Gary Busey who the fuck do you think you are telling me I have a cavity YOU’RE A CAVITY AND I HATE YOU AND YOUR SON TOBY AND I HOPE YOU BOTH GET POISON IVY UP YOUR BUTTHOLES!

What I Really Said: Yes. 

So now I have to go back on Thursday to get it filled and I’m terrified. What if you can see it? “You won’t even be able to notice it,” he said. Well I have serious doubts about that but my insurance is not good enough for me to do anything about it so I guess I just have to trust Gary Busey’s brother, which is maybe the lamest thing I’ve ever said.

Since he told me the news I’ve been going over it in my head, How did I get a cavity in a front tooth? And then I started noticing that when I eat I tend to take pre-bites, which are bites before the bite. So, if every bite is a meal (definitely the case for me), the pre-bite is the appetizer. Also, maybe I need to work on my manners because I think this could be directly related to chewing with my mouth open.

Anyway, I’m going to get it taken care of. And then I’m going to sell all of my oversized Looney Tunes t-shirts and the ornamental car in the front yard and the lifetime supply of Mountain Dew I got from Costco and I’m going to get on with my life…probably.

Sincerely Not As Disgusting As You Think But Still Pretty Shameful,

Quinn

p.s. Yes, I do see the connection between this post and #22 but I’d rather not talk about it.

#23. What came first, the chicken or the hate?

Dear Kathy,

I’ve decided to take on Chick-fil-A’s brand as a side project. Here are my round one concepts. Please review and let me know your feedback.

The Made Up Brief:

Drive sales at Chick-fil-A given the recent decision to go public with their horrifying personal beliefs. How can Chick-fil-A capitalize on their new role as the hate-mongering fast food joint? Can we create our own brand of hate to get back into the artery-clogged hearts of Americans?

The unDeliverables:

A fully integrated campaign with a new tagline and identity.

Concepts:

Name Change: Oldest trick in advertising - call it something else. Chick-fil-A is a pretty “gay” name. Everyone knows that any name ending in a vowel is homosexual. You might as well have an accent aigu in there. New, anti-gay name options: Chick-fil-mAn, Chick-fil-hAte, Bible King (too close to Burger King?), Fresh Filled Hate (Did you know? Fresh cues are all the rage in the QSR category.), Straight Chicken, No Homo Chicken (hormones though, yes), Jesus-fil-A.

The Are You Gay? Facebook App: Launch a flash-based application within a Facebook tab to generate more fans and likes. The app is extremely simple in design. The user first sees a blank screen with the question “Are you gay?” flashing in big letters and they’re prompted to click ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ If the user clicks ‘Yes’ the app immediately downloads a chicken virus onto the user’s computer, which is basically bird flu but grosser. If the user clicks ‘No’ the screen ignites in a bright, colorful celebration with fireworks, exploding chicken sandwiches and streaming waffle fries as Toby Keith appears in real time and sings a song about the user based on the basic profile information they were forced to grant access to in order to use the app.

Sunday Gunday: In the past the cows have been fairly passive, but not anymore. Chick-fil-A will remain closed on Sunday because of god, duh, but now the cows are in charge. Each cow will be given a shotgun or a rifle and placed in front of Chick-fil-A on every Sunday to protect and serve in the name of Jesus who was totally probably into guns and chicken.

Bible Verse Kid’s Meal: Each kid’s meal comes complete with an obscure bible verse for children to literally translate and obey. Collect all the verses and win a free Chick-fil-A Bigot Bible! Example of a verse to be included in kid’s meals: “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” - Psalm 137:9.

Scared Straight: Let’s take Chick-fil-A’s corporate statement of purpose (“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”) and extend it beyond food. Chick-fil-A’s Scared Straight program is exactly what it sounds like: Members of the Cathey family force-feeding potential homosexuals the discarded chicken parts (gizzards, heads, claws, beaks, feathers) until they turn straight. Now Chick-fil-A isn’t just a bigoted fast food joint, it’s also a waste-free, energy-conserving, environmentally conscious hot spot (but not in a gay way)!

Haters Talk: Let’s enlist the help of everyone’s most favorite bigoted idiots to weigh in on issues while enjoying copious amounts of fried chicken and waffle fries. From Rush Limbaugh to Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, we will invite the faces of hate and ignorance to participate in a show called “Haters Talk” where they talk about news, politics, culture and religion until the death threats start rolling in. We can even ask Paula Dean to create a signature LTO menu item in order to promote the launch of “Haters Talk.” The end goal would be to secure a regular time slot on Fox News, which is an absolutely reasonable goal and completely within reach based on their current programming.

Gay Dividers: Let’s take over subways and buses by creating a division. Our customers should get to separate themselves from homosexuals in more areas of their lives than just where they choose to eat. See the example below of how we can be the official sponsor of segreGAYtion.

Possible New Taglines:

Chick-fil-A. Straight chicken.

Chick-fil-A. God hates cows.

Chick-fil-A. Exodus 35:2.

Chick-fil-A. Get your hate on.

Chick-fil-A. May God be with you, but not with you.

Chick-fil-A. WE HAVE OPINIONS!

Chick-fil-A. Hate is a family value.

Chick-fil-A. “Eat mor chickin’”- Jesus

Chick-fil-A. We didn’t invent the chicken, just the God it comes with.

Chick-fil-A. Homophobes Welcome.


That’s all I’ve got for now. Advertising is SO neat!

Sincerely,

Quinn

#22. First Initial Basis = Basically BFFs

K.-

The most difficult decision I make every day is whether to sleep longer or get up and do something about the way I look. Guess what never wins?

So I decided to go for that “Didn’t brush my hair OR my teeth” look today. And I’m glad I did, you know why? Because no one else did. I’m an original - an artist so unique, I’m above basic hygiene. Of course, if we’re all dressing for the job we want, I guess that means I want to be homeless…? But that’s okay in advertising, right? I mean, these people should be glad I got dressed at all! Of course, some of my coworkers are starting to notice that 88% of my wardrobe is comprised of pajamas and the other 12% is stuff I wear to make my pajamas look fancier, but so what? I give exactly zero fucks!

*Makes a tough face and does a zero fucks gang sign.* 

Sigh.

OK. That’s a lie. I don’t want this relationship to revolve around lies, just around me. Here’s the truth: Most days I give too many fucks, but not about the stuff normal people give fucks about. For instance, why have I never seen a baby squirrel? Seriously, where are all the baby squirrels hiding? And why isn’t there a karate class for people who don’t want to actually learn karate but just want to wear bathrobes and practice the sweet roundhouse kick jumps they see in movies? And how am I going to convince Kathy Hepinstall to get a matching ankle tattoo with me? 

Maybe I’ll go buy a toothbrush over lunch. My teeth feel like they’re wearing sweaters. 

-Q.