Ché's Guide

The Fire That Woke Me: Moving On

the fire


I learned a lot from my neighbor Joe dying in a house fire last December. Running to my mom’s house through the police barricades and firemen, watching the black smoke pouring from the house attached to hers and from out of her attic, and seeing on the pavement the lifeless body of my neighbor, his bare leg sticking out from beneath the white sheet that covered him, was one of the worst moments I’ve ever experienced. I immediately started sobbing this strange, animalistic cry that I’ve never made before and pray I’ll never make again. It was the collection of our fears, all the worst case scenarios, realized in real time.

After he was admitted to the hospital, I spent the weekend chain smoking and drinking, unable to erase the image of him that was seared into my mind. After he died, I couldn’t go to my mom’s house. His burnt home was directly beside hers. His truck was still in his driveway. There were boards against the door I used to watch him walk through and ladders in the garden he once cared about. Metal springs, all that were left of his mattress, sat morbidly twisted in his backyard. I could not be near that place, and I don’t know how my family stood it. His blackened bedroom window faced my sister’s. She still keeps her blinds closed.

I couldn’t stop looking back at that morning; the horrible panicked phone call from my mom, the longest car ride of my life, the feeling of terrified panic that clogs your throat.

Yet it’s been nearly two months, and everyone is okay. His home is being rebuilt, his family has returned to wherever they came from, and his truck is finally gone. Joe won’t ever be forgotten but we moved on. I don’t know how; something was lost to us! A relationship perished in the worst way imaginable. There is unfinished business and zero resolution here!  But we didn’t have a choice. We had to return to work, pay our bills, feed our stomachs, and see our friends. Moving on wasn’t an option, it was required.

This is the first time in my adult life that I think I’ve finally accepted that we really don’t get peace and resolve every day. We are not guaranteed closure, or fairness, or a chance at the last word. In fact, we rarely deserve those things. But what we do get are 24 hours to move on, shake off and do better.

I’m reminded of a salary negotiation that went really terribly and how I spent months smoldering over a pay rate that I couldn’t change. There was nothing left for me to do, yet I lived in that conversation for way too long. I didn’t move on and it was as unhealthy as sitting in Joe’s ashed bedroom would have been. What I should have done, and have done since, is learn from my mistake and then get over it.

The habit of living in the past, of putting new words in our mouths for past arguments, imagining conversations going differently or thinking of relationships preserved, is really toxic. It’s an expensive habit that yields no results and costs you whatever time you actually have. Yes, I wish I could have somehow saved Joe and my mom wishes she noticed the fire before it had raged so hotly… but I couldn’t and she didn’t. That’s all there is too it, and the longer we stayed in that day the worse off we were.

Learning from the past is obviously a requirement for every adult that wishes to be successful, but it is also just as important to get over it. If there is one thing I’ve taken from the day that left me so shaken, it’s this; Life sucks, and then you move on. Take from it what you can, and then leave it where it belongs – behind you. There is no use in clogging up your present with yesterday’s darkness.

Sail on, Joe. You are preserved as a good memory, and the darkness is lost. Rest easy, our friend.

Ché's Guide

Ché’s Guide To: Surprise Birthdays

My S.O, as weirdo women on dating forums would have me refer to him, turned 30 last week. As a longer-term girlfriend and a decent human being, it was my job to make sure he had a great birthday. After the 30th, for most people, the colossal aging parties are over until 50 (40 if you’re high maintenance or dying). Unfortunately for me and other non-rich people, the 30th birthday is a bit of a deciding factor on whether or not you’ll even be there for the 50th, so you need to pay attention and do a good job. To do a good job, you need to get your act together. I learned this lesson after trying to “whip up a quick cake” for his 29th:

Pictured: Me not having my act together.


The mainest, most stressful part of throwing a surprise party is not being able to afford to throw a surprise party. That’s why it’s very important early on in your life to learn how to coexist with other people. What’s expensive for one may be very reasonable when split between two. So I latched on to one of his friends and nonchalantly asked if he wanted to help me plan the party. Pro Tip: Lure possible party-funders with booze and the promise of bringing your really easy, drunk friends.

After you have a party-funder on your side, immediately discuss what you are willing to spend. If they can match that, you now have what is called a budget. An agreed upon budget is really important, because otherwise you will get screwed out of money, or they’ll spend more than you can, and you subsequently will become the screwer. Both scenarios suck. Once the funder and I decided what we were willing to spend, we used our words to entice other people to party too.


We invited everyone way before we paid for anything. Maybe you’re supposed to invest in your own ideas before spreading them, but maybe it’s dumb to plan a party no one can come to. I created, shamefully, a private Facebook group to spread the word. I know, Facebook groups are lame as hell, but a 30th birthday without any guests is lamer. It wasn’t until I secured yeses from a good group of people that I got out of bed and actually planned the party. Note: Securing a good group of people means actually speaking to those who are “attending”. Don’t go off of the group alone, or you’ll be alone, forever.

With a few friends helping me with the party, a bunch more wanting to come, and the resolve to get my boyfriend really drunk, we successfully threw the kind of surprise party you would want someone to throw you . Dancing, drinking, gambling, more drinking, too much drinking, a diner, and one quick dance in a cage was all it took to usher in 30 painlessly. Most importantly though, and if there’s a moral to a story about getting people recklessly intoxicated it’s this; he was able to spend the night toasting with a group of really good friends he hadn’t seen in a long time, and that was the best part. As it turns out, it doesn’t take a lot of money to be good at life.

Cabinet Cooks · Ché's Guide

Che’s Guide To Domesticity: Cooking!

Hey ladies! Ready to take that plunge and become a woman? Well, don’t worry. I did that already. I have bright red lipstick on, curlers and a silky negligee draped over my soft shoulders because a real woman always looks good. I’m also drinking a Cosmo! How scandalous! 😉
The first step to being a domesticated woman is to get a house. Either marry the first man you kiss or be “independent”, stop shaving your legs and get a place of your own. Have you done that? Great! Now let’s move forward.
Everyone knows that a woman has to cook. Luckily for you, I’ve broken down what you need to know to save face and to make sure you stretch that 5% less you’re making than your male counterpart.

  1. Plan Ahead!

    So before you go shopping, look up what recipes you want to make that week. For instance, decide if you’re going to eat sandwiches. If you’re only eating sandwiches, buy a 1/2 pound of meat and cheese. If you’re only eating sandwiches a few times that week, buy a 1/4 pound! Also, invest in some tuna. That won’t go bad and it’ll keep you skinny. After you think about your sandwich consumption, choose another lunch option. Like a healthy salad. We are so prone to changing our minds, so two options are necessary. What do you want in your salad? Write it down! Now you won’t forget anything when you go to the store. Now, Google some dinner recipes. Lemon chicken? What do you want on the side? Don’t go crazy and buy lots of vegetables. Just choose two or three vegetables and use them in your salad and in your dinner. Wow, now you’re really being smart.

  2. Splurge Where It Counts!

    Are you cooking for one? Wow, you are? You do know you’re only getting uglier, right? Well, while you’re looking for a husband, be smart. Instead of buying potatoes and using one potato to make mashed potatoes every night, just get Country Crock potatoes! Now you have delicious mashed potatoes whenever you want them and you don’t have to feel silly smashing a single one. Plus, that never works. Also, buy the more expensive boneless, skinless chicken breast. You’ll get more and it’ll be tastier. Remember it’s lasting you ALL week.

  3. Portion, Portion, Portion!

    You’re only one person. And you’re probably also lazy. So, while the chicken is still soft, wrap it up in plastic wrap! Now you have the perfect size of frozen chicken to thaw out instead of having to thaw it all out and eat it super-fast. No one likes a lady who eats fast! This goes for veggies as well. You don’t need 2 onions and three cloves of garlic. You only need of each silly!

  4. Practice Makes Perfect!

    If you make a steak and it comes out leathery, you’re going to eat it and be kind of sad and probably call your mom and cry about how lonely you are. But, you can’t do that when you bring a suitor home. So, practice until you perfect it, and then move forward. No one will hang out with you if you’re serving wilted broccoli and overdone chicken. Yuck!

  5. Lastly, Never Stop Cooking!

    Are you frustrated? Just want to run to Taco Bell and eat your feelings away? Well don’t!

    Remember, you’re not making a lot of money as a switch operator and you’re spending the rest of your cash on clothes, probably. So skip the Taco Bell, go home, and cook some more. To make it easier, buy a few luxury items like refried beans and Uncle Ben’s Ready Made Rice. Now you’re hungry AND excited.

There are your rules. If you follow these you’ll be on your way to domesticity and one step closer to having a fulfilling relationship, because everything boils down to starting a family.

Ché's Guide · Entry Level

Ché’s Guide to Office Life: Telecommuting!

Congratulations. You got a job and then you did it. To reward you , your boss has decided to forego a raise and is instead allowing you to telecommute.

But, there’s a catch: If you fail at telecommuting, it will be taken away from you.

Luckily, this is easily avoidable by being good at telecommuting. To be good at telecommuting, do what I tell you to do.

#1: Clothes. Wear them!

One of the perks of working from home that people who don’t work from home always talk about is not having to change out of your pajamas. But being productive in slippers is a myth. No one actually does that. It sounds nice, but just try to wear sweatpants to do anything other than watch TV, eat Chinese food and nap. Unless television, snacks and napping are your job, you need to avoid these things. So, take a shower and get dressed. You don’t have to wear office clothes, but do look like a grown-up.

#2: Hairs. Shape them!

You don’t have to blow dry, gel or straighten your hair, but definitely do enough to it that if someone were to knock on your door, you wouldn’t be completely mortified by your appearance. The better you feel and more prepared you are for the day, the more ready you will be to work. Also, if you’re smart, you’ll use this as an opportunity to try a new hairstyle you otherwise wouldn’t have the guts or time to attempt on your way out the door.

#3: Morning foods. Eat them!

It’s hard to find the time to make breakfast before work. Taking advantage of the rare opportunity to relax and reflect over a hot plate of scrambledie-ambled eggs or waffles with strawberries sexily laid over them really does change the course of your whole day.

Other Tips: If you have the time, work out, go for a walk or meditate before working. You’ll be amazed at your sudden motivation to get things done. Also, I’ll be amazed if you actually find the time to do any of that.

#4: Work stuffs. Do them!

After showering, getting dressed, doing your style things and eating breakfast, it’s time to do what you came home to do: work. But first, you need to set up a workspace. If you sit on your couch and work, you’re likely to become distracted by the suction of your cushions or the faces on the television. Set up a patio office or sit near a window. If you have a desk, maybe use that, but you don’t have to. Do find a spot that is aesthetically pleasing, one that is hopefully nicer than the cubicle at your actual job place, and work there. Don’t sit in bed. Don’t lie on the sofa. Don’t take your laptop to the beach. Do enjoy yourself though.

5: Early birds. Be them!

This isn’t a requirement, but I suggest you start working a little bit earlier than usual, especially if you’re skipping out on a long commute. The perks for you are obvious; the earlier you start, the earlier you can be done. Finishing work early on a weekday will free you up to do other things you usually don’t get to do, like grabbing an early bird special or having your hair colored (yay!).

(before, no after)

Also, if you’re sending out e-mails at 8:00 in the morning or doing whatever it is you do for money, your boss will notice. Being on point when working from home can only make you look good, and in the end, looking good is what got you this sweet deal to begin with. If you keep it up, maybe you won’t ever have to go back to the office again.