The best lesson Marilyn Manson can possibly teach you.

Mr T.

As Kim typed, she chanted softly under her breath. “MarilynMansonMarilynMansonMarilynManson,” like a benediction, muttered as she wrote an article she’d been putting off for thirty-eight years.

But this is too early. Let’s go back twenty-two years.

Kim on the athletic team

Kim was on the running team in high school, and she was a demon on the hurdles. One day the coach pulled her aside with a fatherly arm around the shoulders and said, “We really need to do something about your stride, Kim.”

“What’s wrong with it, coach?”

“It’s just… have you seen a video of your running? You’re… uh… wasting a lot of motion.” He sat her down in front of the TV and pressed Play.

Now Kim had watched herself run before, checking her foot placement and her spine and all sorts of technical things. But this time she unfocused her eyes and watched the overall picture.

And Kim realised she ran like a flailing buffoon. She ran like the Athletic Department of the Ministry of Silly Walks. She ran like a box full of herons falling down a flight of stairs.

“Oh. My. GOD.” The coach nodded sympathetically.

They spent six months on adjusting her stride to something less awkward-looking, but it never looked one bit less foolish. Eventually, Kim quit the team.

And now we’re back at Kim today, invoking the name of Marilyn Manson over and over.

Wait, it’s still too soon. Go back ten years.

Kim and the PowerPoint

After school and university and three months in Europe, Kim went to work in the HR department of a large mining company.

Most of her work was ordinary operational work: hirings-firings-and-paperwork stuff. But Kim kept working to bring improvements to the way the business managed its employees.

One day Kim read a book about the Results-Only Work Environment and knew that it could revolutionise her office. She put together a PowerPoint presentation introducing the idea of giving the staff fixed deliverables instead of fixed hours, and the massive advantages it would create in morale, office costs, flexibility, productivity and reputation.

She booked an hour with her manager, Steve, in the small boardroom. She went through the entire presentation to his encouraging face and then asked for his thoughts.

Steve said, “Well firstly, I’m really impressed with your initiative in putting this together, Kim. Great job. (Pause.) But I don’t think that this has any chance of flying with the senior managers. You know how stuck in their ways they are, and this is just… too revolutionary for them.”

Disappointed, Kim returned to her desk and thought hard. She could go over Steve and take this to the senior managers herself if she wanted, and Steve wouldn’t mind. But she would have to have the same talk with a number of high-ups that she only saw twice a year at the stockholder’s meeting and try to convince them to completely change how the office ran.

She would have to make a fool of herself. She could imagine the polite coughs, the hidden Blackberry-checking, and worst of all, the look on their faces as the lights came back up…

The PowerPoint was archived and never seen again.

And now we’re back to the chanting.

Actually, let’s go back just a few days first.

Kim and Marilyn Manson

Kim nicknamed her daughter Christine “Firecracker”. Christine is smart, wicked, opinionated and aggressively confident, seventeen years old in body but a thousand years old in wisdom of the serpent.

Kim made the foolish mistake of daydreaming aloud about the idea of starting her own consulting firm some day when Christine was nearby. “Jeez Mum, are you going to wait until the retirement home to give it a try? Just bung up a website, print some business cards and get started!”

Cue the slow-down-woah-there-Nellie face and the patient ah-my-daughter-you’re still-so-young tone. “I can’t do that, sweetie. I have no experience and no clients.”

“No experience? Mum, you’ve been doing this job for longer than I’ve been alive!”

“Well, yes, but that was for companies. I can’t just stride out there and say, “Okay, pay me money now!”, you know.”

“Mum, do you know Marilyn Manson?”

Kim shook her head at this complete non sequitur. “I know the rubbish music you play too loudly and that somewhat offensive poster I’m letting you keep on sufferance, yes.”

Christine rolled her eyes. “Seriously Mum, you are not too old to like it, you were like twenty-five or something when his first hit came out. Anyway. So you know how he wears makeup and sings about, you know, stuff not many people sing about and is generally pretty weird?”

Weird is definitely how I’d describe it. And I’m not old, I just have taste.”

The perfect adolescent eyeroll. “Any. Way. Right, so he started as an ordinary kid in a band in high school, right? But he still wore the freaky makeup and he still made songs about murder and stuff, but the band had like no fans and they were just playing at parties and things.”

“I’m waiting for your point.”

“Don’t be dense, Mum! It’s easy to be Marilyn Manson when there are ten thousand fans screaming your name and grooving on your weirdness. It’s really, really hard to be Marilyn Manson when there are nineteen people in the crowd and one of them is calling you a wanker.

But you can’t get to the good bit unless you suck it up and put up with that crappy first bit, where you’re doing your thing and no-one likes it. You gotta stand up and be, like totally cool on the outside even if you’re totally embarassed on the inside. So you can rock it out later.”

“How did I raise such a wise child?”

“I dunno. Alien implantation?”

Three days later, Kim was writing an article for her new website. And to muffle all the voices that lovingly wanted to save her from making a fool of herself, the voices that told her to tone it down, the voices that advised playing it safe, she spoke the words.


Are you lacking a preternaturally wise child? Then Goddamn Radiant is a good stand-in.

Creative Commons License photo credit: spacedustdesign

The Curse of Possibility (and why first-year fairies shouldn’t grant wishes)

Magic Wand
Jaden was cursed.

It wasn’t his fault; a wish from his fairy godmother had gone dreadfully awry. She was still a first-year apprentice, woefully undertrained, and she’d waved her wand nonchalantly and said something that would have made any competent fairy godmother slap her in the tiara.

She’d said, “Let Jaden be capable of anything!”

Well, you know how that works out.

Jaden grew into a man of many talents and interests and passions and careers; he’d proven handy at everything from deep-sea diving to chartered accountancy. (The only things he hadn’t tried were the French Foreign Legion and ant farming.)

He enjoyed most of the work he’d tried, which is easy to do when you’re very good at it. But he still felt unfulfilled.

It was a subtle thing, and took some time for Jaden to notice. But even though he was good at the work, it still felt like something important was missing.

One day, a lawyer from the Fairy Godmother Co-operative (Eastern Sector) arrived with a sparkly briefcase and a wand of paperwork.

She said, “Okay, sorry about the delay, but there was a rain of frog princes I had to process first. I understand you received a VYJ-56D, a fairy godmother wish with unforseen side-effects?”

“Uh, yes. I’m capable of anything.”

The legal fairy gave forth a long flat whistle. “Wow, that’s a kick in the teeth. Nasty. Good job on not becoming a serial killer or anything, kid.”

Jaden went pale. “I never even thought of that!”

“Yeah well, it happens. Oh-kay, let’s get this sorted out. Now, due to regulations we can’t just undo the wish, so we’ll have to add in a FGO-23I, a Supplemental Repair Wish.”

“Oh, right. So how do you fix this? What kind of wish is it?”

“Easy-peasy, son. We’ll just wish for you to know what your best work is.”

“Umm… what?”

“Look, you can do almost anything, right? Work with anyone, do a good job anywhere, get results… there is no limit on what you can accomplish.”

Jaden blushed. “Yep.”

“So the limiting factor isn’t possibility. You need a filter for greatness.”

“Oooh. That sounds good. How does that work?”

“Well, instead of focusing on work you could do, you’ll be paying attention to the work you should do. You’re able to do a lot of things, but there are still some things you shine at. ”

“Are there?”

“Yeah, the Philosophical and Philological Practitioners (Eastern) Unit did a lecture on this last week. They were really sure: everyone has some talents that are more powerful. Your baseline is higher than most, but you still have skills that have more potential and power than others. And the more you focus your time on those ones, the happier you’ll be.”

“Wow. Awesome. Sign me up!”


The wand waved, and a new understanding of his greatest work flooded in. Finally, Jaden knew which specific talents were his greatest ones.

The Curse of Possibility had been removed.

(And that apprentice was fired. But she’d messed with a lot of people before Internal Fairy Affairs caught up with her.)

Have you been cursed by your potential and can’t figure out what your greatest work is? I’m your Goddamn Radiant fairy godmother!

The irresistible power of your flaws

Day 26

Kadee started her own yoga studio on the day she was fired from her fifth yoga job.

The other yoga teachers had been a bit leery of Kadee from the first day. They thought her red fingernails and Bettie Page hair weren’t really appropriate for the space they were creating. And she was loud. And she was opinionated. She didn’t fit in. So she had to go.

Kadee paid a cousin to rent a big space for cheap and decorated it. Leopard-print wallpaper on the walls, plastered with cheesecake 50s models and pictures of hot rods. She named it Rockabilly Yoga and felt very proud of herself.

Two months later, the numbers were… okay. And the customers kind of liked the place.

But they didn’t love it.

Discouraged and hurt, Kadee asked her friend Lola to see if she could figure out what was wrong.

Lola wandered around the studio, sat in on a couple of classes, and then took Kadee for a restorative Jack Daniels and some hard truths.

“Sweetie,” said Lola, “You’re really boring.”

“WHAAAAAT?” shrieked Kadee. She subtly indicated within the shriek that no boring person, ever, has made a noise like this in a public place.

“I don’t mean you you. I mean doing-yoga-you. I mean, you’re still wearing those same Lululemon tops and chanting the same “Downward-facing Dog, now Upward-facing Dog” boring crap. I closed my eyes for a bit there and I thought I was in every yoga place, like, ever. I mean, I remember you saying that you wanted this place to be for all the freaks who liked yoga but didn’t want to go all fucking kumbaya over it. And sweetie, this is still pretty fucking kumbaya.”

Kadee downed three shots of Jack Daniels and searched her soul.

The next day she talked to Lola again. “Okay. I get it. I’ve gotten stuck in doing stuff like everyone else because, you know, habit. But Lola sweetie, you know what I’m like. I cuss. I tell really dirty jokes. I clipped out that bit from my report card that says, “Kadee is wildly inappropriate” and turned it into a badge. Wouldn’t I go broke if I let that rip?”

“How many people do you know who are wildly inappropriate and would love to do yoga but never feel welcome there?”

“Oh, like a hundred or so, I think.”

“And you only need two dozen regular clients to pay the bills, right?”

“Right.” (This said in a slightly grumpy “Yes, you’re right and I hate you a little bit” tone.)

“And could you really give those people what they need – fun, freakin irreverent and rockin, turbo-charged yoga – by being all restrained and boring?”

Sigh. “Nooooo.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“I’m fucking terrified, alright? This is all the stuff that’s kind of embarassing about me. This is why my brother pretends we’re not related when we go bowling. This is… you know… history.”

Lola patted Kadee’s tattoos kindly.

“I get that, sweetie. But all the other wildly inappropriate freaks need somewhere to get fit and fabulous and feel welcome. They’re never going to fit in at the gym, right?” Cue ironic headshake. “And I know you want to look after them, sweetie. So you gotta be you, ugly and all, so they can be them. That’s the power of your flaws.”

“It’s still scary.”

“I know it is, sweetie. Now harden the fuck up and get going.”


Do you want to dig into all your most gorgeous flaws with a marketing adviser who will cheer you on? Then have a look at Goddamn Radiant – it’s for wonderful freaks like you.

Creative Commons License photo credit: stephcarter

The Magical Pink Donkey Theory


You live in an old house and the plumbing is… interesting.

Translated: it needs repairs quite regularly.

A strange knocking noise has started coming from behind the kitchen wall; you sigh and call Steve the plumber. Steve comes on over later that morning, examines things under the kitchen sink and says, “Yeah, no worries. I’ll swibbulate the frillament and re-stickulate the bifrust and that should fix it.”

Your eyes glaze over and you say, “Great. Thanks.” You go read a magazine and do your best to ignore the sounds of swibbulation and re-stickulation coming from the kitchen. Whatever. Eventually, Steve is done, you pay him and thank him at the door. You forget about the transaction almost immediately.

Three weeks later the knocking noise has started up again, from the laundry. You roll your eyes and call Steve.

Again, he looks under the laundry sink and grunts, then he stands up and looks a bit awkward. “Look, I got a new thing and it’ll fix it better than the swibbulating. Can I go get it?”

“Sure, I guess,” you say. This is the first time anything interesting has occurred in your plumbing adventures; maybe it’ll be a shiny new doodad with buttons or something more noteworthy than a spanner and some spray that smells like concussion.

And Steve leads a glittery pink donkey into the laundry.

It’s… very pink.

Really glittery.

VERY… donkey.

You can’t look away.

Steve says, “I know it’s a bit weird, but it’s a magical pink donkey and it works really well and I thought…”

“Wow. Umm… wow. How does it work?”

“I dunno, really. He just touches stuff with his hoof and it fixes it.”

You’re too stunned to reply, and SteveĀ  – and the magical pink donkey – get started. The donkey sparkles over to the sink, touches one pink hoof to the pipes, then turns around awkwardly in the small space and leaves.

The pipes have stopped banging. You retrieve your cash with your mouth still open, dazedly pay Steve, then run off to call everyone you have ever met about the magical pink donkey.

The moral of the story

Most people do not care at all about how you do the work.

They care about the results.

Stop talking about swibbulating the frillament. We don’t care. We care about how great it’ll be once our pipes stop banging.

Unless your work features a magical pink donkey, of course.

So how DO you talk about your work if you don’t have a magical pink donkey? Tell us in the comments!

Creative Commons License photo credit: JanneM