December 07, 2016

Exclusive excerpt from GET YOUR SH*T TOGETHER: Which Chipmunk are YOU?

As promised/threatened, this installment contains an exclusive excerpt from Get Your Shit Together, specially curated for my TinyLetter subscribers. It shall appear nowhere else! Well, except in the finished book, which you would be doing me an extraordinary solid to pre-order if you like what you read here. So without further ado, I present:

Who needs to get their shit together—and why

Fortunately for moi, lots of people need this book. They walk among us every day, dropping their phones in toilets, forgetting to pay bills, going to job interviews dressed like Frenchy from Rock of Love season two. Such folks include but are not limited to: your friends, family members, classmates, and coworkers; total strangers; and one guy who asked me to send a free autographed copy of my first book to him in Morocco because he can’t find it there and also can’t afford return postage. That guy needs a straight-up one-on-one tutorial.

But no matter who you are, let it be known that not having your shit together doesn’t make you a bad person.

True, Justin Bieber doesn’t have his shit together and odds are he’s a bona fide jackwagon, but that’s a special case. (Call me, Justin!) For most of us, not having our shit together is merely an inconvenient state of being, not a true character flaw. And the good news is that unlike other potentially unsavory states of being, such as “too short” or “from Texas,” it can be altered without steel rods or forged birth certificates.

So who are you and in what ways is your shit lacking togetherness? Let’s take a look at that spectrum, by way of three recognizable cultural archetypes known as “Alvin and the Chipmunks.”*
*First appearing on American television in The Alvin Show in 1961, these lovable singing rodents gained popularity through their 1983–1990 cartoon Alvin and the Chipmunks, as well as subsequent globally released live-action films with sequels still being produced as of this writing. Quite the franchise.

THEODORE: Relatively hopeless

The youngest of the performing chipmunk brothers, Theodore is sweet, agreeable, and naïve. He’s along for the ride, but never, ever in the driver’s seat. Like Theodore, some people just can’t get it together, period. Full stop. They’re constantly spilling on themselves (and others), losing their (and other people’s) possessions, and making life far more difficult for themselves (and everybody else) than it needs to be.

These are the folks—however nice and well-intentioned they may be—who are chronically late, underprepared, and overwhelmed. They have to open their suitcases at the airline check-in desk to take out two pairs of shoes, a souvenir mug, and a jar of beach sand that caused their bags to exceed the weight limit. Then they have to frantically figure out how to get this stuff on the plane before everybody in line behind them revolts. If you are a Theodore, fear not—every day doesn’t have to be an epic battle. Read on.
Shit Theodores may need help getting together
Showing up on time
Following directions
Remembering where they put stuff
Keeping their calendars up-to-date
Actually owning a calendar
ALVIN: Cruises along just fine, but is unable to kick it into high gear

The eldest chipmunk is fun and he talks a good game, but he doesn’t plan very far ahead, which frequently gets him into trouble. Alvin’s kind of a “fake it till you make it” guy, where the ratio of making it to not making it is weighted toward the latter. When the going gets tough, it’s usually his own damn fault—and then he bails, initiating the famously exasperated “Allllllllvin!!!” refrain from his adoptive human dad/manager, Dave. (They’re a cartoon family; don’t overthink it.)

Alvins—the humans, not the chipmunks—skate by on the day-to-day stuff, but when it comes to doing shit on a larger scale, they falter. These people arrive home from a relatively productive day at work and make dinner in the microwave because the oven door has been broken for three months and they haven’t gotten around to dealing with it. Or they can totally manage a fantasy baseball team, but when it comes to planning for retirement it’s as though numbers and statistics cease to have meaning. Finally, Alvins make the rest of us—bosses, colleagues, friends, backup singers, etc.—nervous. We’re like He seems cool, but can he be trusted? Eventually the chances run out, the opportunities dry up, and you’re just another boy band casualty.
It doesn’t have to be this way. If you Alvins have your shit together a little bit, you can get your shit together for the big stuff, I promise. You’re just a dash of discipline and a splash of willpower away from legendary baller status.
Shit Alvins may need help getting together
Hitting deadlines on purpose rather than by accident
Sticking to a budget
Sticking to a diet
Event planning
Planning anything more than a week in advance
SIMON: Keeps up appearances while dying from a thousand self-inflicted cuts

Finally, there’s Simon. Middle sibling, chess wizard, rocks a blue turtleneck. He’s always prodding Theodore, cleaning up after Alvin, and generally doing more for the family than Michael Corleone.

Simons are objectively industrious and successful and know how to operate a suitcase. In their fully functional, chef’s-quality ovens, they roast chickens on the regular. They plan elaborate shindigs, never say no to a friend in need, and are very, very good at Excel spreadsheets. Other people marvel at Simons, whose grace under fire is complemented by their perfectly matched belts, shoes, and handbags.
Yeah, Simons’ shit seems to be together…but under the surface, maybe it’s not.
Shit Simons may need help getting together
Setting boundaries
Ending a relationship
Switching careers
Maintaining their sanity
We all know plenty of Alvins and Theodores. They’re not hard to spot—arriving fifteen minutes late to the meeting or calling frantically five minutes after that, because they just realized they have no idea where the meeting is to begin with.

Simons are harder. They’ve perfected the illusion of having their shit together, operating under the mistaken belief that being in demand, booked up, and perennially under the gun equals “winning.” They masquerade as busy little bees and perfectly productive overachievers—but their shit is on struggle mode even if you can’t see it.

I know this because I used to know one particular Simon very well: Me.
Well, Chipmunks, that concludes our excerpt. What follows (in the full, final book, which, as you know, I hope you're inclined to pre-order...ideally in hardcover) is a recounting of my Very First Panic Attack. Doesn't that sound fun? Also, lots of tips on avoiding such moments byyou guessed itgetting (and keeping) your shit together! The book takes you through the small shit (like prioritizing and time management), past the tough shit (like breakups and saving for retirement), and right on into the deep shit (fear of failure, avoidance, mental health).

In sum: Get Your Shit Together is for every Alvin, Simon, and Theodore on the spectrum (including those sneaky Simons with Theodore rising), and if you read it, I guarantee that if nothing else, you will enjoy assigning Chipmunk taxonomy to your friends and family in 2017. 

Pre-order Get Your Shit Together because why not?
Amazon | B&N | iBooks | IndieBound | Amazon UK | Waterstone's UK

Simon and I thank you for your patronage.