Look what I'm reading:
I kind of love celebrity autobiographies, but I also FEAR them because they can completely kill an excellent crush: "OMG! He's vapid, and arrogant, and oblivious, and also DUMB AS A CHICKEN!" I got Stories I Only Tell My Friends only after reading review after review after review that said it was the perfect celebrity autobiography: a nice amount of dish, a nice amount of name dropping, and it didn't destroy their impression of Rob Lowe.
It helps that I didn't go into it with any particular impression about Rob Lowe (except that apparently I've been confusing him with Robert Downey Jr. for DECADES). When many of my friends had photos of him stuck in the rim of a mirror, I hadn't yet been allowed to watch anything he'd been in. Also, my tastes in boys ran towards Michael J. Fox and Kirk Cameron: BOY boys. Guys like Rob Lowe seemed more like MEN boys. Too much STUBBLED JAW to be the kind of Non-Threatening Boy ( <--reference from The Simpsons) I liked. So I went into it with no particular feelings about Rob Lowe either way.
I'm halfway through the book, and so far it's as-promised. There is the occasional (maybe even frequent) eye-rolling moment over a director described as having the insight/intelligence to cast him, or over a movie that would have been so amazing if his role hadn't been cut out, or the comment about how it USED to be about Quality Acting but now it isn't, or how some Amazing Legend gave him a compliment---but I EXPECT (maybe even WANT) that from a movie star. It doesn't get overdone---which means I keep thinking to myself, after the eye roll, "Well, who knows? He might be RIGHT." Though I also keep adding to myself "(But I don't think he realizes he could be wrong. And we can't tell him so, because it would be a hurtful thing to point out.)"
There's TONS of "And that blonde girl from New Jersey was....[huge name drop]." Again, it's a little silly but it's what I EXPECT (and possibly WANT). It demonstrates to me the way many of those anecdotes happened before he or we would have recognized those names---so we get more of a feel of how it WAS: first he met the sweet girl named Sarah Parker, and LATER he looks back on it and thinks "Whoa, that was SARAH JESSICA PARKER OMG."
There are too many claims to high-school-era nerdiness for someone who had gorgeous girls repeatedly offering him sex during that time (BEFORE he got famous). We DO thank kids who had successful high school experiences for not ALSO wanting to belong to the Unpopular Club. Leave us the little we cling to, kthanx.
There's a surprisingly low amount of Parental Blame and a surprisingly high amount of Parental Understanding (but not SO high that it made me think "ghost writer working on improving PR"), causing me to wonder how one person can relentlessly and scathingly blame a parent for, for example, serving dessert every night after dinner, while another person can go through parental divorce and parental mental illness and still come out of it saying, "You know, everybody's got stuff." It made me like Rob Lowe better.
There are plenty of moments when I think he reveals something other than what he intends to reveal---about his personality or about the situation he's describing. This makes me feel clever and also tapped in to human nature. I also enjoy the overall feeling I got from reading it, which is similar to how I felt after hearing Britney Spears's Piece of Me: a renewed appreciation for the idea that being a rich celebrity is a weird and confusing life and has some downsides---and that just because someone has something a lot of people want, that doesn't mean they don't also have a lot of stuff people WOULDN'T want.
And there are PHOTOS. Really, I think EVERY celebrity book would benefit from quadrupling the number of photos in the middle. I keep flipping back to them again and again and again.
But keep in mind I am only halfway through it.
The book I read BEFORE the Rob Lowe book was Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard:
I read it because Tess read it, so I recommend starting with what she wrote about it, because not only does she explain the concepts well enough for you to know if you'd be interested in reading the book or not, but also it's a really funny anecdote.
I found parts of the book SUPER ANNOYING, because I felt like when there was a choice between the "motivational speaker" route and the "scientific method" route, the authors went straight for motivational speaker EVERY SINGLE TIME. They'd say, "Well, in THIS case, it's THIS, but in THAT case, it's THAT," and I'd think, "Actually, the only difference between those two situations is the SPIN you put on it. I could re-spin it to make them sound identical." Or they'd talk about how one of their ideas made a HUGE DIFFERENCE in a situation, and I'd feel the way I do with those "lost half their size" articles, where I think, "Follow-up a year later, please." And in general I felt like they went out looking for situations where their idea seemed to have been The Fixing Idea, without seeing if they could find counter-examples (either where their ideas failed, or where something worked that opposed their ideas).
NEVERTHELESS, I thought the book was extremely useful, and I would highly recommend it, and I would continue to use a strong adverb in front of each verb as I did so. It's just that when you're reading it, I don't want you to think I didn't notice those problems.
I had several favorite parts:
1. The part about finding where the PROBLEM is. Like, instead of spinning in circles about something that's NOT WORKING, see if I can find what's keeping it from working. I realize this sounds SO OBVIOUS, but I think it's one of those concepts that, for me, I have to actively work on remembering---or else I automatically get discouraged and give up. I find I've applied this about a million times in the week since reading the book: instead of getting frustrated and giving up, I think, "Well, what is the PROBLEM? Why ISN'T it working?"
2. The part about small steps (cleverly referred to as "inchpebbles"---like, instead of "milestones"). I already know this, but again, it's good to have a refresher course because it's SO HARD TO REMEMBER IT AND APPLY IT. And I'm using it in combination with #1---thinking to myself, "Why am I not hanging up this picture, when I want to and it's so easy?" and then thinking, "Well, could I bring the hammer up from the basement the next time I come upstairs?"
3. The concept of TBU (True But Useless), which I hadn't heard before as a Thing. I've used it several times per day since then. I'll be spinning on something, and then I'll think, "That IS TRUE. But it is USELESS for the purposes of this problem." YES, I bought something and then it went on clearance, and that's upsetting. TBU. YES, it's irritating that this mess is here. TBU. YES, it's true that I shouldn't have to be handling something. TBU. YES, that person shouldn't have said that. TBU.
4. The question we're supposed to ask ourselves: if this problem were magically fixed while we were sleeping, what would be our first clue that it had been fixed?
5. Tess reminded me in the comments section of the "bright spots" concept, where instead of running around trying to make things work that aren't working, you look at where things ARE working and see if there's anything you can copy.
6. Just the whole concept of the whole book: that there are three elements (Rider, Elephant, Path) to the process of Doing Stuff, and that this can help us understand why we WANT to do something and yet WE ARE NOT DOING IT.
I'd been wondering why Paul wasn't making an appointment for a physical. I first told him back in early spring that he needed to do so (we were both due for booster shots we needed to get before our nephew is born), and he agreed. I then had my physical and got my booster shots, and reminded him again that he needed to do that, and he agreed. He was completely willing. And yet our nephew is due next month, and he had not yet done it.
I could have made the appointment for him, but I didn't want to. Still, as I approached the problem after reading Switch, I thought of it less as a "But that's not FAIR! He's a GROWN MAN! He should make his OWN APPOINTMENTS!!" (TBU!), and more as "That is a possible idea for solving this problem, and it WOULD solve the problem, so let's make that Plan B if other things don't work."
THEN I thought to myself, what IS the problem? He's willing to do it, so that's not the problem: he agrees he needs to go, and he agrees that time is running out. He's not forgetting: I've reminded him, and also I went to mine already. It's not a larger task than he can handle. So why ISN'T he doing it?
Switch methods: ACTIVATE! I noticed that each time I reminded him, he was saying things like "Well, which doctor is it I see again?" and "Well, but should I take a day off work, or?" And then I thought along the lines of tools and first steps: the FIRST STEP is that he needs to make a phone call, and the TOOL he needs is the phone number. No: the first step is that he needs to know what he's asking for when he calls (which doctor, whether he'll be home that day or whether he needs late-day). He also needs someone to say "OKAY GO!! Do it NOW!! This is the moment! The moment is here!"
So I emailed him at work, giving him the phone number for the doctor's office and telling him that when they asked who his doctor was, he should say he sees Dr. X---but that if they say he'll have to see someone else, to go along with that. I said he should ask for the last appointment of the day, and that if they said either (1) the last appointment is at 2:00 or (2) the next such appointment available is in November, that he should say he would call them back.
TEN MINUTES LATER, no kidding, he had called and made the appointment. So for HIM, I think I correctly diagnosed the issue. (For someone else, it might have flopped because maybe for them it was a FEAR thing, or a Pretending to Agree But Actually Disagreeing thing, or a "But I need my family medical history printed out first" or whatever.) Even after reading the book I'm confused about exactly where to apply Rider/Elephant/Path WORDS to the situation---but it was the book that made me think "Well, what is the PROBLEM? Why ISN'T he? What can I DO to make this WORK?" instead of getting stuck on the true-but-useless stuff.
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