the butterfly effect

Decision-making is one of the most stressful aspects of my (albeit young and somewhat inexperienced) life due to its terrifying cyclical nature. After you make a tough decision, you’ll probably have to make another one soon. It never ends. And guess what? Not making a decision? That’s also a decision. 

Are there any decisions that are easy to make? Well, yes and no. Yes if you’re willing not too over analyze the decision and it’s possible impacts but no if you’ve ever heard of the butterfly effect.

The butterfly effect, not the sci-fi film that got 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, is a chaos theory that says small actions can have a huge impact on the future. While this can be a very hopeful way of looking at your life, it can also immobilize you with fear. Guess which it’s done to me.

If every tiny decision you make has the capability to alter your life forever, what if you slip up one day and ruin everything? Another perspective, of course, is ‘what if you slip up one day and something amazing happens?’ The trouble is, there’s no real way of knowing what the ripple effect of one action or one decision will be until you’ve already made it. I know I’ve had my fun pondering the possible outcomes of the tiniest decisions (like which brand of gluten-free cereal to buy) and this can be a sweet way to pass the time, but it will also stop you from doing anything ever; And this is, as I said before, unfortunately, also a decision. So, is there anything to be done? Maybe. Hopefully.

I can tell you what I’ve done, or what I’d like to be doing; The one thing I’ve found helpful, and I mean consistently helpful, is making the decision as soon as it is presented to you. There are, of course, some inevitable negative impacts of this strategy but those will have to wait for some further musing. If you make a decision right as it is presented to you, one of two things will happen:

a) you will discover it was the wrong decision and then find some way to undo it.

b) you will discover it was the right decision and be glad you didn’t waste time laboring over it.

I can’t pretend I’ve fully or even partially implemented this strategy in my own life, but the few times I’ve managed to force myself into making what people more athletic than myself call a “game-time decision”, some invisible weight has been dissolved.

So, now it’s your turn to make a decision,

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giving thanks to fragile men (my thoughts on the debate around Dr. Jill Biden’s title)

Over the past few days, political commentators and men-who-were-broken-up-with-once-by-a-woman alike have been calling for Dr. Jill Biden to renounce her title of “Dr.” because she does not practice medicine. To these people I ask, do you know how the American education system works? In Spring 2020 I graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees yet, I am not a bachelor. Confused? I know it can be scary when a woman takes credit for her accomplishments, but you can take comfort in the fact that, she’s still being paid less than you are <3.

The author of the WSJ article “Is There a Doctor in the White House? Not if You Need an M.D.”, which sparked the debate around whether or not Dr. Jill Biden should be able to take credit for the degree she’s earned, seems to have missed a critical point: this article isn’t about Dr. Jill Biden at all, rather his own fragile ego and inability to report on real news stories.

Aside from my initial reaction to this article, which was to cackle to myself and then hop on Twitter, I did a bit more thinking surrounding its functionality.

In conservative opinion (unfounded and void of evidence) pieces like this one, what usually ends up being revealed is the insecurities and shortcomings of the author in place of an actual news story. On the bright side of course, men like the author of the WSJ pieces are the reason I will never run out of sarcastic comments and writing material.

I’ll end now with a very surface-level “thank you” to the author of this piece and all those who have thrown their support behind it: without you, I would have no future in comedy <3.



de-motivational sunsets

December 9th

There’s something so infuriating to me about those little motivational posters where block text is violently pasted on top of a photo of a sunset. We never know who took the photo of the sunset and the quotes are usually misattributed to Gandhi or Einstein or JFK, but what’s worse: critiquing them makes you seem like a cynical asshole. While I might, on occasion, be a cynical asshole, I don’t believe my distaste for these motivational sunset-quote collages is a contributing factor.

The thing I think is most unfair about motivational posters, sunsets, and superficial acts of self-care (usually just someone trying to sell you a face mask) is that when they fail to make you feel better, it’s invalidating. If a motivational phrase leaves you unmotivated and a patented self-care-routine sold to you leaves you un-cared-for, then you must be doing something wrong. It has to be your fault because these things, presumably, are working for everyone else?

I imagine there must be some people out there who can put up a picture in their office of a cute puppy or a rainbow sunset with the words “there’s nothing you can’t do tomorrow” or something like that, and have their mood immediately improve; However, I have difficulty believing they are in the majority, or that a menagerie of motivational wall-hangings can have any lasting impact on someone’s life. I’m less interested in the people who these capitalism-approved methods of self-improvement have assisted and more interested in those it has shut-down or infuriated.

The few times I’ve been tricked into doing yoga or meditating, the point in the class during which my blood pressure tends to spike is when the instructor says “okay, now relax”. Like the puppy-poster people, there are some people who find being told to relax actually relaxing, but unfortunately it has the opposite effect on me. It’s the same pattern with motivational paraphernalia; You’re feeling demotivated, you look at a sunset, you’re told that now you’re supposed to be motivated and everything’s fine, you don’t feel motivated and you feel you should, and you end up feeling worse than when the whole process began.

So, why do I have a problem with sunsets? Well, I don’t. Not sunsets themselves at least. It seems to me that when meaning or inspiration is forced onto something like a sunset or someone like you, it dampens individual experience. We should all be able to experience sunsets on our own terms and derive motivation from wherever we can find it. And more than anything, we shouldn’t be shamed for not being happy when we’re told we should be.

about me:

I’m a recent *virtual* college grad and comedy writer who created this blog as a way to spread sarcasm, positivity, and avoid ego death. ❤

~Isabel M. Brodsky~


talking to yourself

December 7th

I send myself a lot of emails. It might be slightly easier to write things down in a journal or my notes app, but there’s something motivational about an electronic call to action from a previous version of yourself. These charming intra-personal correspondences range from Trader Joe’s shopping lists to a 2am idea for a short story about a little girl who becomes friends with a sentient cliff face.

In the past few days, I’ve come to see the emails I send back and forth to myself as a bit more than a strange misuse of technology.

I recently learned that the little voice you hear in your head when you do things like reading, thinking through a difficult decision, or conjuring up a disturbing scenario, well not everyone has it. This was a shocking revelation for me, as someone who is well-acquainted with this voice and uses it to do just about everything. This voice, while helpful at times, takes on many tones of varying degrees of disrespect; The emails I send myself, I’ve decided, are just a mechanically articulated manifestation of one side of this voice.

Is there anything to take from this discovery? Well, not all discovery have to offer some extractive benefit, but this one might. If you’re one of the lucky some who’re accompanied by this voice in its many manifestations, look for the places it’s trying to materialize. For me, it’s my near-daily email correspondence with myself, but I have to assume yours might be different.

Good luck and good night and have fun talking to yourself 🙂

problem-solving with cereal

December 7th

It’s generally agreed upon that we should face our problems head-on before they fester and grow into something unwieldy like a $700 parking ticket or walking pneumonia; However, today that’s not what I’d like to talk about. Today, I’m going to explore the perhaps more-traveled and less-respected route of ignoring until it either goes away or gets so bad that Teen Vogue pays you to write an article about it. Well, maybe not ignoring, but approaching a problem or conflict through more passive means. Before I offer any specifics, I would like to address the troubling notion that we cannot create profound or impactful art and writing without experiencing extreme pain or loss.This is a harmful perspective which feeds the archetype of the suffering artist as the only valid origin for creation and furthermore, there are surely other ways to be featured in Teen Vogue.

So, what am I referring to really? Is it actually a good idea to approach our problems through passivity and sarcasm? Well, the short answer is that it can be. It can be exhausting, if not incredibly unsavory, to address minor inconveniences and larger issues from an active or offensive position. A hypothetical of this approach might appear as the following: Your roommate has failed to take out the trash (again) and instead has started placing empty cereal boxes back onto the shelf. You’ve considered just asking them outright, “would you please do the bare-human-minimum and take out the trash every now and again.” But, just as you’re considering, inspiration strikes. You gather up all of the empty cereal boxes they’ve put back onto the shelf and place them neatly on your roommates bed. They see the cereal boxes laid to rest on their IKEA duvet cover and you both have a good laugh. After sharing this pleasant experience, you find your roommate is almost dutiful in their newfound commitment to apartment hygiene.

Could things really work out this way? Maybe. I’d really like to think they could but unfortunately things like timing, the personality of your roommate, and the size of your apartment could all become obstacles to the success of this approach.

Whether or not this sort of offensive passivity is a feasible option for you and your problem-solving needs, it can serve as a reminder that we should all be facing life’s (many) challenges according to our own needs, the needs of anyone else involved, and the situation at hand.

mid-night snacks

December 4th

I’ve never really bought into the idea that all things have their time and place, but today I can confidently say: some things do. Last night, December 3rd, after what I’d convinced myself was a taxing day of blue Light exposure, I decided to inundate myself with a bag of Trader Joe’s Christmas tree gummies at 11:45pm. Horrid. Gummies after lunch at 1pm, that’s civil. Gummies before dinner, that’s a bit unconventional, but why not. Gummies after dinner, now that’s a classic. But, 11:45pm? Only moments before the witching hour, well, it was unholy.

After what I can only say was an unsatisfying night of sleep, I thought to check-up on my well-neglected LinkedIn account. LinkedIn, as a site, I feel can be best described as Tinder for finance boys; I say this because like Tinder, LinkedIn offers a platform for those well-endowed in an area valued by our society. For Tinder, this area is generally limited to the abdomen, facial region, while LinkedIn zeroes in on capital conquest and collared shirts.

Yes, I know it’s easy for me to sit here and bemoan the attractive and successful but it is only because I’m so well-adjusted. If I’m honest with myself, and anyone else who happens to be listening, it can be difficult to justify an action or what we are forced to call ‘hobbies’ that aren’t valued by someone outside yourself. Instead of saying, “I’m a rock collector” you have to say, “One of my hobbies is rock collecting”, why? Because you wouldn’t want someone to discover how much space these crusty geological masterpieces take up in your mind. Or maybe you have a hobby that is a bit more active and might find a more reasonable grievance. I’m hopeful that you do.

marianne williamson, my muse

December 3rd

This weekend, I bought a frog. I don’t know that anyone really needs a frog and it definitely isn’t a great embellishment on my financially-dependent state, but here she is: Marianne Williamson. I told my parents I named her that because she seems pretty cool most of the time but has these bursts of wild energy but the truth is, I just like the idea of a frog running for president.

The man at the pet store told me that there is at least a substantial chance Ms. Williamson could be carrying some nasty salmonella-causing bacteria, but I promised to be careful.

I’ve never been great at caring for living things, myself included and emphasized here, but I decided there might be a benefit to working against this historical pattern. If I ignore the rotting corpses of what once were a succulent and potted plant on my dresser, it’s easy to convince myself I can be a good mother to this possibly-diseased-democratic-nominee.

If I tilt my head sideways and press my nose up against the glass of her tank, it looks like a whole alien world to me. To her, it probably looks like she’s about to get eaten.

Something I’ve discovered over and over, it can take me a couple tries to learn a lesson, is that writing about yourself can often be less revealing than dreaming up some odd fictional world. The people around you already know quite a bit about you and your life, but they have no idea what you want to create.

american eagle jeggings

December 2nd

It was cold today, which shouldn’t have been so upsetting since it’s December now, but it’s always nice to have a good reason to be in a bad mood. After clicking back and forth from my email to my Google Calendar for a few hours, I decided to go to Trader Joe’s with my sister. Right next to the entrance there was a giant blue bottle of Pinot Grigio, which is the only white wine I can reliably drink, so I picked it up to show my sister. “Look at this thing! Pretty huge huh?” A woman working one of the cash registers had heard me. She gave me a warranted suspicious glance and then resumed scanning gluten free pastas and vegan pestos. I take some sort of strange pleasure in looking at least 3 years younger than my actual age at any given time, it helps of course that my self-assigned quarantine uniform is a baggy sweatshirt, leggings, and dirty sneakers.

After carefully piling into our cart chicken fried rice, chocolate, romaine lettuce, and inevitably some things inbetween, we pull up to the checkout line. Before he even looks at the cart, the cashier asks if he could please see my ID after clocking the 5 bottles of wine. After almost a year and a half of being the legal drinking age, I still experience some strange twinge of guilt every time I produce my ID for examination. It could be that I don’t really believe I’m 22 years old because I still sometimes wear my American Eagle jeggings from high school and have yet to achieve financial independence, but I think there’s something else at play: I’m living in a state of perpetual guilt. There’s no discernable origin for this state, I wasn’t raised in a particularly religious family, I’ve never been shamed for anything I’ve done, but for some reason there are times when I can’t shake the idea that I’m about to do or have done something really terrible without even realizing it. So, of course, my eyes betray the validity of my ID as if to say “I’m so sorry we couldn’t look any older today, we really did try.” After careful inspection, he decides I bear a passing resemblance to the grimacing face on that small piece of plastic. 

After succeeding in looking my own age, I pull out my parents’ credit card to pay for the groceries. I’ve been home from college since March now and the one thing I could never see myself getting tired of is spending my parents’ money on wine and gluten free cookies. 

Once we’ve completed our weekly pilgrimage to our favorite grocery store, we pack our groceries (can you say groceries if it’s mostly just wine?) into the car. My sister drives. She usually drives because I got my license at 20 and my driving speed is reliably 5-10 miles below the speed limit at any given point. I think my driving style is charming if not generally unsafe, but she calls it what it really is: impractical and honestly just annoying. Well, those aren’t the exact words she uses, but I’d like to be able to share this blog with my parents so I’ll just end things here.