This website was archived on July 21, 2019. It is frozen in time on that date.

Sonya Mann's active website is Sonya, Supposedly.

Medium-Term Goals

“Success is the ability to move from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.” — Winston Churchill (or maybe not)

I am quite ambitious, but on a relatively small scale. I don’t want to be famous — “well-known in certain circles” will suffice. I won’t turn down riches if they pop up in my bank account, but my financial aspiration is middle-class comfort rather than stunning wealth. Hopefully that’s not asking too much of my own professional ability or of the economic context I live in.

Hell yeah, from now on I'm only shopping at Success Deli! Photo by Bruce Berrien.
Hell yeah, from now on I’m only shopping at Success Deli! Photo by Bruce Berrien.

There is value in stating goals. As a writer I subscribe to the idea that words have power, and articulating a desire makes it more likely to become an accomplishment. You could argue that I’m counting chickens before they hatch — luckily, the only consequence of predictive failure is embarrassment. The stakes are not that high. So here’s what I want to do, in roughly the order I expect things to happen:

Get more sleep.

Self-explanatory. I really need eight or nine hours; currently I’m making do with seven. Not healthy; not wise.

Start and run a sustainable lifestyle business.

I have an idea and I’m working on it! More on that soon, I’m sure. Anyway, I want to be able to support myself by running a small business within a couple of years and support both myself and my partner after ten years. (It’s okay if it happens faster! But I’m wary of over-optimism, since I’m interested in editorial entertainment, which is a saturated market.)

Cover of Liberty magazine in May, 1925.
Liberty magazine in May, 1925. Via Retrogasm.

Get married.

Even more self-explanatory than better sleep habits.

Write a full-length nonfiction book.

I’ve written and published various longish works of nonfiction, but nothing in the fifty-thousand-plus range that constitutes a full book. Someday! Fifty or a hundred thousand words is a lot, but I’m convinced that I can do it. The first book will probably be an essay collection, sort of a one-person anthology.

Write a novella or novel.

Fiction baffles me, but I’m still determined to tackle it. The books I have loved most have all been fiction, and I want to do for readers what authors have done for me.

Adopt a child.

Age is negotiable!

At some point I also want to start collecting art… but I could do that right now if I budgeted for it. Therefore it seems silly to put on the list.

My History of Alcohol

Multi-language beer bottle. Illustration by Xochitl Castaño.
Illustration by Xochitl Castaño.

I’ve been twenty-one for two months. A little more than two months. The day after my birthday, my boyfriend and I ordered draft beer and crab cakes at a local pub. I was affronted because they didn’t card me.

I’ve been drinking intermittently since the end of eighth grade — June of 2009, when I had just turned fifteen, or was about to. Of course, for the first three years of possible alcohol imbibition I hardly ever did it. Maybe that’s not “of course” — high-schoolers get fucked up too, I suppose. The problem is availability. Sure, I drank during high school! But not frequently.

blurry tequila shots
Photo by Ben Sutherland.

I shouldn’t admit this but one time my friend and I shoplifted pear-flavored vodka from the Lucky store in Hercules. We brought empty water bottles and a big purse. Nipped into the bathroom to commit the crime. I was an incredibly dumb kid.

My real bad-choices drinking happened the summer after I turned eighteen, when I briefly lived away from my parents. I like to tell this funny-but-embarrassing story about how I vomited on a girl — it was our first date! — because I could not handle myself and how she was really nice about it and we kept romancing until she went back to school in late August.

smudgy illustration of a girl toppling over
Illustration by Mike Lay.

Probably the same month I kissed a friend out of the blue at a party and it was so awkward. Earlier, or maybe later, I invited some dude from OkCupid to visit the apartment; he assaulted me on the elevator when I made him leave. Ugh. I was only brave enough to berate him over text the next day. Those incidents made me calm down and abstain more. I learned that I should stop mixing drinks once I feel buzzed. Since then I’ve tripped up a couple of times and gotten stupid, sloppy drunk.

beer in a glass
Photo by Rob Nguyen.

Only a couple of times. At the Andrew Jackson Jihad concert in San Francisco, but I don’t remember doing anything to be ashamed of. A weekend in May while watching TV with my boyfriend and his roommate, who I harangued about Mad Max for hours (among other topics, including his business). Hindsight is twenty-twenty and memories are mortifying.

Despite all that, so far I have managed to keep my relationship with alcohol healthy. It’s a miracle because depression runs in my family — it ran right into me — plus alcoholism afflicted one grandfather and at least one great-uncle. I see my peers use alcohol as an oblivion accelerant. When I “party”, I do the same thing.

classy illustration of gin and martinis
Illustration by Adam Grason.

I would get drunk a lot more if I were less stingy.

Today I got home from work and went straight for the shandy in the fridge. I drank two cold bottles. I drank a glass of lemonade — just regular lemonade — that my dad made. I contemplated all of this, my emotional relationship to alcohol and how I have to be careful not to drink every night, not to let it become my default way to soothe frustration. There is too much frustration for a habit like that.

Reflections on My Low Friendship Bandwidth

I have X amount of energy. A “normal” level of friendship — talking and hanging out often — requires Y energy, and Y is more than I want to use. I’m happy to spend a lot of time with my immediate family and my partner, but beyond those four people I usually find social contact more taxing than fun.

I don’t know if this is an introvert thing or more specific than that, but I’m sure there are other people who don’t “get” friendship or want to participate in it. Alternately, I may have an unrealistic perception of other people’s social activity.

If we’re nominally friends, I probably like you and would enjoy hanging out every couple of months. My capacity for this has definitely increased; maybe it’ll keep going up. But mostly, I don’t want to talk beyond occasional texts or Facebook comments, and I don’t want to see you frequently. I just don’t want to. However, I can tell that I’m supposed to want to, and it’s frustrating both for me and my acquaintances.

The worst situation is when someone wants more from me than I want to give. This has happened in every single close, non-immediate-family, non-romantic relationship I’ve had. It’s been painful for people on the other side and puzzling/upsetting for me too. The mutual trauma probably could have been prevented if I had the chutzpah, vocabulary, or cultural training to be up-front with people about what I can and cannot give.

Occasionally the desired commitment is about emotional intimacy rather than time/energy allotment. This can be even harder. With rare exceptions, I don’t want to confide in you. I can commiserate and share jokes and disclose things that I disclose to most people, but I don’t want to tell secrets or “open up” to you. I almost never discuss my deepest hopes/fears/dreams/shames with my mom or my boyfriend or my goddam therapist! I hate discussing that stuff with friends.

I’m not sure how to handle this whole problem appropriately. The easiest way is to always stay distant, which doesn’t help anyone and isn’t feasible anyway. I do like people, after all. I could have an awkward “reality of Sonya” chat with every new person I get along with. That option doesn’t appeal to me either.

What do you think? What’s your experience of friendship? Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter or wherever. I genuinely want perspectives and suggestions on this.

Frustration & Resolution & More Frustration

I am victorious! I right-clicked on stuff and selected “Inspect element” and edited some CSS that I understand only in the most rudimentary way. At the end I had successfully reformatted the header/title of this website. I am more pleased with myself than is reasonable.

happy jumping basset hound
Me = perky basset hound. Photo by patchattack.

In other news, full-time work is exhausting. There are definite upsides, like being on a team, learning about a cool business — and let’s not forget making money. The downside is lacking adequate energy or time for my own creative projects. I’m definitely still figuring that out.

For instance, I’ve been tweaking an essay for Small Answers since… April? I just don’t have the wherewithal to follow through with substantive revisions. That’s not a good feeling. Similarly, I half-wrote something about labor for this blog that has not progressed the way I want it to. Blah. Hashtag grownup problems?

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