Issue #116 – “Ten Years” – September 30th, 2007

-A few years ago, I was having such problems with my computer that the Dell support rep who was assisting me actually had to call tech support at another company, and then wait silently on the line for three hours while the second rep talked me through the problem.  At the end of the call, the Dell rep, who was based in New Delhi and had apparently Googled me while waiting on hold, said to me in a thick Indian accent, “Dude, Ruminations totally rocks.”  And so my experience writing this column over the past decade has never ceased to be eventful.  This is the last of several special issues published this month to celebrate ten years since I began writing Ruminations in September 1997.  All of my columns pasted back-to-back produce a 460-page, single-spaced document containing over 213,000 words (about one-third of which are some derivation of “fuck”).  That makes for a lot of memories, my favorites of which I’d like to share with you all today.

-Ten years is a long time.  I’ve gone from making fun of my friends who were pre-law to making fun of my friends in law school to making fun of my friends who are lawyers.  (It never gets old.)  Or, put another way, when I first began writing this column as a college freshman, no one I knew owned a cell phone and Facebook was literally a physical book full of faces that we would scour trying to get laid.  Now, you’re probably reading this column on your cell phone, before logging on to Facebook… and scouring it trying to get laid (OK, some things never change).

-In college, I got an email from an employee at Microsoft who said that he had been at a huge conference, walked by Bill Gates’ table, and overheard him mention my site.  I was blown away at the time and since then have heard reports of Ruminations cropping up in the strangest of places.  It’s been used to teach conversational English to students in Finland, Austria, China, and Japan.  (Somewhere there are a bunch of Austrians running around saying, “Yo dude, let’s get fucked up!”)  It’s been cited in numerous college term papers, assigned as required reading by professors, and even made the focus of an entire class at Berkeley.  I’ve been the subject of one student’s graduation speech at Binghamton and another’s application essay to Tulane.  Which to me confirms what you’re probably thinking right now – our education system has gone to complete shit.

-Speaking of which, people love to read this column in the bathroom.  When I first started, word spread when students would print out and post my emails on the inside of dorm bathroom stalls.  Later, some of my cubicle-dwelling fans would print out the column, take it with them to the bathroom, then leave it there for a co-worker to discover.  Recently, I got an email that students were once again posting Ruminations up in their dorm bathrooms.  So ten years later I’m right back where I started – in the shitter.

-I pride myself on personally reading every email I receive and responding to about 99%.  (Yes, it’s really me responding to you; you can stop asking!)  But I think some of my fans take my accessibility a little too far.  I must get more drunken emails than anyone on the planet.  I’m not exactly sure what possesses people to come home from the bar, accidentally hit caps lock, and then write me a rambling missive in which all the letters that are supposed to be lower-case are capitalized, and vice versa; but I still laugh – because they look like little electronic ransom notes.  Also, about five times a week, people will receive my column, then think they’re forwarding it to a friend, only to accidentally reply directly to me instead.  And the message is always like, “Hey Michelle, this is that email I was telling you about.  This week’s kinda sucked though.”

-Lately guys have been emailing me from their BlackBerrys while at the bar, asking me to give them real-time advice on how to pick up chicks.  I usually read those emails on my BlackBerry while at the bar and wondering the exact same thing.

-Occasionally, I’ll make an offhand reference to a brand in Ruminations, one of my subscribers will happen to work for the company, and then they’ll just send me free shit.  I’ve gotten cases of Chapstick, Bosco chocolate syrup, Zagat guides, and caffeine-infused beer, as well as gym memberships and about a thousand coupons from 7-Eleven.  All of which were nice but, quite frankly, not particularly useful to me.  But if any of you out there happen to work for LifeStyles, I prefer the ultra sensitive condoms.  You know, just putting it out there.

-Sometimes, something I’ve ruminated about will leap right off the page and into my real life.  For instance, two months ago, in Ruminations #113, I wrote how my denial about moving to Los Angeles two years ago was evidenced by the fact I still have a New York State driver’s license.  The very next day, I was pulled over for the first time in my life.  The cop proceeded to write me two tickets – one for the initial violation and another for missing the deadline for getting a California license by about twenty-three months.  Then, when I went to the DMV in LA to get a new license, I was denied by the system.  Apparently, a DMV in Philadelphia had red-flagged me for an unresolved underage drinking citation from eight years ago when I was in a bar that got raided while at college at Penn.  And as pissed as I was, the only thing I could think was, “This will be great for my column.”

-Of course, the whole reason I came out to LA in the first place was to spread my gospel to an even greater audience.  I’ve made some headway.  Earlier this year, I wrote a pilot for the sitcom version of Ruminations and sold it to the CW.  Obviously, they chose not to go forward with it.  Don’t worry, though, I have plenty more tricks up my sleeve.  But for now I guess you’ll just have to make do with fucking Gossip Girl.

-More great emails I’ve received: soldiers in Iraq writing to thank me for helping them pass the time, mothers and fathers trying to set me up with their daughters, and even a fan who quoted Ruminations while proposing to his girlfriend.  (I hope to God he didn’t conclude with “Fuck me.”)

-I also need to take the time to say some thanks.  First, to my sister Caryn, who has served as my Editor-in-Chief for the past few years.  I count on Caryn to take an objective look at all my columns before I send them out.  Without fail, every week she reads them and then tells me, objectively speaking, that she doesn’t find them particularly funny.  I’d also like to thank my mom, who was my original editor, and who still steps in occasionally when Caryn is unavailable.  And let me tell you, when you’re in a pinch and need someone to quickly review your profanity-laced tirades, it’s definitely not awkward when that person is your mom.

-I’d also like to thank all of my friends – from Plainview, Penn, Manhattan, LA, and beyond – who have continued to allow me to document their exploits.  I must admit, it’s a trying experience being friends with me.  For example, in Ruminations #51, I wrote about my buddy Jud’s apartment getting robbed.  Soon, sitting in his bare apartment, he received dozens of calls from friends – not calling to commiserate, but rather to congratulate him for getting a shout-out.

-Last month, I was in my old bedroom in my parents’ house on Long Island when I discovered a long-lost artifact: the original list – handwritten, no less – of the first hundred or so people who signed up for Ruminations in 1997, after I had sent my first email to twenty friends.  After a little legwork, I was able to pinpoint my original subscriber and contact her.  Back when she was first forwarded Ruminations (from who she does not recall), Mandy was a freshman at Azusa Pacific University, a small Christian college I’d never even heard of until recently, and she abstained from sex and foul language – literally the opposite of any person you would expect to read Ruminations!  But Mandy was intrigued, so she signed up and has been receiving my column – at the same email address – for the past decade.  She has since married and moved to Denver where, as luck would have it, I actually met her last year when I came to town to perform.  It’s funny how life comes full circle.  When Mandy subscribed ten years ago, I had no idea where life would take me.  And I certainly didn’t expect it to take me to where I am now: my apartment in West Hollywood – only thirty miles from Azusa Pacific University.

-And, finally, I want to say thanks to you, my loyal readers.  For all these years you have forwarded my emails, bought my books, and watched my stand-up.  It has been an honor and a privilege to entertain you and, in some instances, try to sleep with you.  As I embark on my 11th year of Ruminations, my philosophy remains the same.  College is awesome most of the time but sometimes kinda sucks.  The real world kinda sucks most of the time but occasionally is pretty awesome.  During the times that suck, take a step back, look at yourself, and laugh.  During the times that are awesome, take lots of pictures because you won’t remember shit in the morning.  People who say “follow your dreams” are douchebags.  99.9% of the population is talking completely out of their asses at all times.  Always work hard and play harder.  And to paraphrase the esteemed sociologist 50 Cent: get laid or lie tryin’.  So once again, I must say thank you, dear readers, for coming along for the ride these past ten years.   It’s been gourmet.  And to think, you guys have followed me all the way from Philly to New York to Los Angeles.  Much like my underage drinking citation.  Fuck me!