I. Drugs

How Not to Do Drugs

Having an awful time on drugs is simple. Consider, if you will, snorting some stomach-churning cocaine just before Thanksgiving dinner. That gravy will glisten like Lucite and the turkey will turn to mothballs on your tongue. And if pot makes you paranoid and anxious, then smoke a lot of it right before the party where you plan to see that girl you have a crush on. You'll be too afraid to approach her and too baked to speak if she approaches you. You could take ecstasy the day before an important test, making you listless and depressed right when it counts. In fact, if taken at the wrong time and/or in the wrong setting, any drug can make even a wonderful experience suck. And too much of anything—alcohol included—will zap your zest for life. Heroin and meth are fast tracks to a lifetime of problems. If you're driving high—especially drunk—you can kill the buzz along with carloads of people in an instant! Or you can get caught and kill that pesky buzz with a long sit in the slammer. See how easy it is?

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How to Buy Drugs

First, you need a dealer. Since your dealer also needs you, it shouldn't be too long before you find each other. Your dealer should be vetted initially for quality of goods, availability, reliability, and nonsketchiness. In most major cities, the dealers deliver—but for some reason, most Seattle dealers haven't figured that out yet, so you'll likely have to go to them. (The exception here is the street-level coke dealer,* who can be spotted deploying many a loaded high five and 30-second-long conversation at seedier bars.) Weed is supposed to be the police's lowest priority, and they're not going to care about the small-time dealing of it. Once you've found a quality dealer, you'll not want to estrange them. Always contact via text message. If your dealer is stationary (you always go to them), a simple "May I stop by?" will do. If they're mobile (you often meet somewhere in public), simply text "Are you around?" Never reference drugs on the phone or in a text. (Remember The Wire?) Once you're at the rendezvous point, use common sense. If in public, hand the money and accept the drugs covertly. Don't use ones or fives, and always have the full amount counted and ready. If you don't have all the money up-front, you shouldn't be buying that shit anyway.

How to Binge Drink

It must be said: Binge drinking is not a great idea. You could get raped, you could fall out a window, you could die of alcohol poisoning or aspirating your own vomit. You ought not to do it, but if you do, best to do it as safely and non-assholely as possible. Good friends with whom to binge drink are of paramount importance, as is being explicit about what being a good friend in this circumstance means (including but not limited to: preventing predatory characters from luring a friend away; moving a friend away from any open windows near which they are teetering; putting a passed-out friend to bed on their side, not their back or front, then checking on them; not putting a passed-out friend in a cold shower, as the friend may die of shock; calling 911 if a friend is dry-heaving without stopping). While the goal may be obliteration, a little self-awareness along the way helps immensely: Are those around you enjoying you as much as you're enjoying yourself? Is the lamp shade completely necessary? Are you about to vomit? If there's a chance of that, act immediately: Vomiting is to be done solo, in a restroom or outside. Skip the mid-drinking-binge marijuana: It will very likely have an emetic effect. Drink some water (though your hangover is inevitable—plan for it). At bedtime, if you get the spins, hang one leg out of bed, foot touching the floor. And know when to say when, even with excess: If you binge drink frequently over a long period of time, get some help.

How to Avoid Drugs and Not Be a Dick About It

Do you do stupid shit like sleep with your best friend's boyfriend, flunk out of school, or DIE when you do drugs? If so, then you're the kind of person who should not do drugs in college. And that's okay!

In fact, if you can't do drugs responsibly, your friends will probably like you even more if you just say no.

But take care to remember these four words: Don't be a dick. Don't brag about your drug-free lifestyle, don't be a militant straight-edge asshole who hits smokers in the face with a brick, and don't make a big deal about how you're not just another mindless lemming aching to fit in via bong hits because your daddy didn't love you—just be cool. Hang around the party long enough for everyone to have a good, fun buzz going and then take off before they get too annoying.

And occasionally it's nice to be the patient friend who will drive people home so long as they don't puke or OD in the back of your car. Everyone will think you're great! And sometimes they'll give you $20 for gas money instead of $5 because they're too shitfaced to know the difference. Awesome!

II. Jobs

How to Be a Barista

If you're going to be a barista, you don't need us to tell you how to do your job. Firstly, a semi-intelligent monkey could probably do your job, and secondly, you'll probably have hours of intensely stupid training sessions that will prepare you for the inanity to come. But your boss won't tell you the most important thing you need to know: When you're working the counter at a coffee shop (or waiting tables, for that matter), you are acting, and the better performance you give, the better your tips will get. And since tips are probably buying your drugs, alcohol, and sex toys, you will want to give a good performance.

Your customers don't care about you.** You are the food-delivery system—the regrettable, necessary step between chow and chow-hole. But if you pretend to give a shit about your customers by asking them questions and finding some sort of common ground with them ("My dad's a huge Republican douche, too!"), they'll be flattered and tip you respectably. And if you lie to find that common ground, nobody will ever know the difference; you made someone feel good and got an extra buck to blow on beer. Win-win.

How to Be a Professional Student

The old idea that successful Americans graduate from high school, then graduate from college, then find a job is over (see below), not least because there aren't any damn jobs to find. But guess what? You already have a job in the academic system: Milk it, sweetheart. Work as professors' assistants, in the library, in the labs, for student publications, at the hospital, anything to get you closer to the center of power. Apply for every scholarship, every fellowship, in Seattle or abroad. You could be like a certain real (anonymous, for obvious reasons) fellow we know: He has traveled multiple times to three continents (for free), spent months in Cairo and Rome (getting paid), and now occasionally teaches at a respectable East Coast college when he's not off having international affairs, all because he once discovered a passing interest in medieval ecclesiastical architecture. And he's not that much smarter than you are.

How to Be a Dropout

The old idea that successful Americans graduate from high school, then graduate from college, then find a job is over (see above). It was a beautiful dream—born of the GI Bill, meant to reward war-sick soldiers after WWII—but it doesn't make any damn sense. University endowments are tanking; schools are groaning under, but still competing for, bloated student populations. For most, school is a punishment; for a few, it is a reward. If you are one of the most, shuffle off your shackles and go do whatever you think is best for a few years. Some people who've done very well for themselves without college degrees: Richard Branson (Virgin Records), Anna Wintour (Vogue), Steven Spielberg (American film in the 20th century), Woody Allen (ditto), Carl Bernstein (Watergate), Charlie Chaplin (all-around genius, dropped out of elementary school), F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner (American literature), Madame C.J. Walker (the first African-American millionaire), Bill Gates (computers), and so on. If you are one of the few, enjoy school for its own sake—just don't count on it to land you a job.

How to Be an Artist

Have an idea. You can't just make something pretty. You also can't make the same thing year after year and call yourself an artist, unless you are boring down into that thing and getting lost in it to such an extent that you keep finding new sedimentary layers that blow your mind and the minds of people who don't even know you (for an example of this style of career, consider Jeffrey Simmons). Look at the artists who are important in Seattle and in the world (look, look, look; read, read, read), and figure out what you really think about them, not just what other people tell you to think (also note: If you hate a thing other people love merely because other people love it, then you are not gaining any freedom or building any intelligence). Allow for a certain amount of snottiness in general, because artists are misfits in American culture and occasionally need a certain amount of snottiness just to survive their mostly moneyless, vulnerable lives that are looked upon with universal suspicion. Plainly, your work has to make sense and also has to be irreducibly mysterious in some (even slight) way. If you understand it completely, it may not be worth doing. As for fashion, wear what you actually want to wear; fuck trends, because it won't matter anyway. If your work is amazing, you are an amazing artist, even if you dress like a goth. (But must you?)

How to Be a Doctor

Doctors divide into two broad categories: medical doctors (MDs) and academic doctors (PhDs). (All doctors enjoy categorizing.) To be a PhD, you'll need a mind like a handcrafted Italian roadster—beautiful, fast, nimble, with space for only a set of golf clubs, and prone to heart-rending angst at the littlest scratches or dents. In contrast, MDs have minds like poorly maintained but obsessively organized moving trucks: slow, lumbering, perhaps leaking oil, but filled to the brim with acres of carefully curated knowledge. To wit: When asked, "Why does it hurt when I pee?" an MD would reply: "Probably gonorrhea or chlamydia. Azithromycin should clear you right up." A PhD would reply, "How the fuck would I know? But pee in this cup! I have some great experiments in mind that we could figure it out with." (Doctors of both types get asked these sorts of questions continually. Be prepared to answer.) MDs are expected to be meticulously dressed or wearing pajamas in middle of the day; PhDs should dress like victims after a flood. Only the craziest of doctors are both MDs and PhDs; fear these Italian sports cars with trailers.

How to Be Homeless

Here's our advice about being homeless: Don't. Lack of access to indoor sleeping and hygiene facilities multiplies tenfold the depression, isolation, panic, and nothing-to-lose untethered aura (which can come across as bonhomie, or scariness, or an accumulation and intensity of bonhomie until it becomes scariness) that you already have. Declining from the step above the street to rock-bottom poverty and drift can happen quickly.

Tips for avoiding this life-wrecking precipice:

Don't move to another city or state if you're in dire straits, even on the promise of a job or a free place to live. If your plans don't work out (and in this situation almost everything has a way of not working out), you'll be stuck, and fucked. Your friends and family are your real safety net: Keep them close.

Sell your shit. You don't need most of it, actually. (But keep your nicest clothes: How you look is about to become way more important to you.) More than a car-trunkful of possessions will own you like a slave.

Support The Stranger

Get free food at the first sign of trouble. Food banks stock plenty of just-about-to-spoil produce, dented cans, and failed product lines you'll never see again, and the government is stingy with welfare but generous with food stamps because history teaches that angry, hungry people burn cities. You need money for rudimentary health care, bus fare, and rent, but food, in America, is free.

Get a library card. There's internet, DVDs, magazines, newspapers, music—do I have to tell you what a library is?—and even books there, and they are free. The truism that education is the key to economic power and self-respect is still and simply true.

Make yourself useful. With post-dated canned goods, cook lavish dinners for the owners of the couch you'll surf until you land back on your feet.

How to Be a Philosopher

Forget analytic philosophy and go for continental philosophy. Why? Because the philosophers in the former group are sexless; those in the second group are sexy. The first group thinks philosophy is about formulas, logic, systematic thinking; the latter thinks philosophy is about love and style. Books by the thinkers in the former category: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (Wittgenstein), Language, Truth and Logic (Ayer), Principia Ethica (Moore). Books by those in the latter category: The History of Sexuality (Foucault), The Pleasure of the Text (Barthes), A Thousand Plateaus (Deleuze and Guattari). In sum: The former will lead to you into a cage of monogamy; the latter will lead you to the freedoms of polyamorism.

How to Be a Future Wearer of a Suit

You can practice fitting into corporate culture by temping—the city is full of temp agencies. Get someone who's good at Microsoft Office to show you how to mail merge (Word) and create macros (Excel) so you can ace the agency's computer-skills test and get a high-paying gig (at least twice what you'd make in retail). Dress slightly nicer than you're asked to, ask lots of questions, give a shit, be diligent, and don't be annoying (that is the most important thing). If you can, get a job as an executive assistant, so you're close to the top—you will learn how executives make decisions, wield authority, and speak to other people about the decisions they're making. The speaking is key. The corporate world has its own language, and the language—though cheesy (you must "utilize" the word "impact" as a verb at every thinkable opportunity)—solves a lot of delicate problems. The better you are at speaking it, and the more comfortable you are in the corporate environment, the faster you'll launch up the ladder once you have your degree.

How to Be an Under-the-Table Immigrant

We know how hard it is for you, international student. Yes, the U.S. dollar has lost some steam, but still you have to pay out-of-state tuition and you are required to buy a third-rate health-insurance policy (it barely covers your pinky). To add to your troubles, you are not allowed to work off campus; to add even more to your troubles, those jobs on campus pay practically nothing. How to make ends meet? You need to find a job that pays under the table. Those jobs are not hard to find. Use your imagination and they will begin to appear right in front of your nose. Trust us, under-the-table jobs exist and they are waiting for you to take advantage of them. Here's a hint: It will require lifting and probably a lot of washing, you will usually have to travel to neighborhoods encircling the city, and you might have to work late, late at night. What a country!

How to Be an Intern

Being an unpaid intern is one of the most important things you can do on the road to eventually becoming an employed and almost-unpaid creative professional. To be a successful intern, you need to wrap your head around the concept of investment. Right now you are giving away your valuable time and effort for nothing. This, obviously, is completely fucked. Your résumé, however, is growing. Score! You are meeting people and learning skills. Double score! You might not see a tangible return on your investment (i.e., entry-level work, freelance work, an actual full-time job) for a couple of years, but if you are diligent, precise, and reliable, your internship will pay off. Eventually. If you don't believe in this concept of investment, you will do a shitty job and be a shitty intern and no one will ever hire you ever in your life, which would be completely fucked. Don't feel pressured to get sexed on, but go ahead and do it if you want.

III. Money

How to Not Ruin Your Future with a Credit Card

It's hard to think about the future when you're living large and free, but don't bury yourself in debt. Be wary of using credit cards. Credit-card companies will set up tables with candy and giveaways to try to get you to sign up. Do not be a sucker! This (like all else) is not free money. If you do use a credit card, pay off your balance immediately or as soon as you possibly can, and don't miss a payment (they will jack up your interest rate like crazy). Don't use credit cards for buying a bunch of stuff at H&M or Beard Papa's, or going out drinking, or day-to-day living. You will rack up a bunch of debt and have nothing to show for it—IT IS NOT WORTH IT. Debt will take away your freedom and your ability to make the choices you want to make: where to live, what job to have, whether and where to travel. If you absolutely feel that your enjoyment cannot be curtailed in any way, find a nice rich kid from the Eastside to take you out on the town and pay for your shopping. Otherwise, get a checking account with a debit card and live with it.

IV. Internet

How to Be Online

Before you put any photos of yourself online, please do one thing: Google "Hugh Foskett." Foskett was a sophomore at the UW running for the 43rd District seat as a Republican in 2006... until The Stranger found photos of Foskett on Facebook and posted them on Slog, our blog. The photos, including one of a sombreroed Foskett captured mid-puke, effectively ruined his bid for office. And they will show up on Google forever. Don't be a Foskett.

If you're going to blog or make comments anonymously, you should stop and think, too. Google recently revealed the identity of an anonymous blogger after an insulted model sued. And you shouldn't go around saying things online that you wouldn't put your name to, anyway; there's no such thing as total anonymity. If you get trolled by anonymous commenters, remember: These cowards would never say any of this shit to your face, and the real world still (marginally) matters more than the interweb.

But don't let this scare you. You should totally experiment with Twitter and whatever the next thing is. At worst, you'll be bored and abandon it. At best, you'll meet new people, and "meet new people" here is code for "get laid." recommended

*Never buy any drugs from these people, especially cocaine, because theirs is invariably poor quality (mostly baby laxative and/or some other cutting agent, and right now it's possibly laced with levamisole, also known as cattle dewormer).

**Unless you are hot, in which case your customers will want to fuck you. Flirting for tips is a time-honored tradition, but the situation can get creepy real fast. It's best to keep things platonic and unsexy if you can.

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