Are You There Meow? It’s Me, Wolf

The world’s premiere advice column from a tiny little crustacean called Shelley the Shrimp.

What’s up, dweebs? It’s me, your dearly beloved and highly-sought-after advice-giving shrimp, Shelley, and I am here to deliver upon you some answers to your questions. Some will be good, some will be chaos, all will be from the bottom of my heart. Did you know shrimps keep our hearts in our heads, next to our tiny little brains? We have no discernable logic over emotions or emotions over logic. It’s all the same to a shrimp.

Shelley, how do I get the girl??

Sometimes the girl is not the girl. Sometimes it is you standing in front of a mirror wondering if you have to fabricate and execute some elaborate grand gesture, and if so, what you must do. This is not the right way to navigate how to love! You get the girl by placing your hands softly against the sides of your face as you stand in front of the mirror and speak kindly to yourself. Address what you have done that is good to you, admit your successes, speak kindly of your flaws. Do so enough that you don’t have to stand in front of the mirror while you do.

What are you insecure about? Does it affect how you speak to yourself or feel about yourself? Engage in activities that both improve your quality of life and how you feel about yourself. Develop a skill, if you haven’t already. Be passionate. Plant your feet solidly into the ground of your identity. Be interesting.

Once you’ve done all this, just get to know her. See if the compatibility is there, and if it is, take her out to a nice dinner and a movie. Bring flowers.

Unless she is a Leo or a Libra, in which case do all of this, but contemplate how to fabricate and execute some elaborate grand gesture also. They love that big gesture stuff.

colorful sloth creature sitting on a tree and looking up to the sky inside Convergence Station
Fig sitting inside Numina at Convergence Station. Photo by Kennedy Cottrell.

Is the world coming to an end?

Thinking that the world begins and ends with humanity is silly. Things on this earth come and go, but the harmful actions of a handful of capitalists will not end this planet. She will always adapt and evolve and regenerate because she is more powerful than we are able to comprehend. Nihilism is dumb; everything on this earth has meaning. We should all learn to cherish that more. 

That being said, one day the sun will explode and reduce our world to smithereens, but you and I and my editor—and probably all of us—will be gone by then, except for cryogenically frozen Schmalt Schmisney. 

Where did you buy your cool sunglasses? My eyes have just been BURNING in this cloudy weather.

For the more casual buyer.

Why does my principal suck?

Believe it or not, sweet angel baby caller, I have years and years of experience in anti-authoritarian behavior, bordering on oppositional defiance disorder. I cannot encourage you to do whatever you want because in a few short years, your grade school life will be far behind you and then living becomes much more fun and exciting and open to the realm of possibilities. I cannot encourage you to develop hobbies that extend far beyond what grade school is willing to teach you because I can neither confirm nor deny how much Algebra II or AP Biology—or whatever rendition of World History the American Public School System is willing to tell the truth on—will serve you in real, actual life, and I cannot encourage you to engage in harmless behaviors that only serve to irk and disrupt the daily monotony of having to deal with school administration.

And we could spend all day positing why your school principal is miserable to be around! There is a lot to be said about the veneration that the United States government holds for the public education sector versus, say, the United States military. If you attend a school that requires you to take a military aptitude test, consider why this is a requirement. Consider your principal then, and the decisions they have to make. Perhaps your principal has a less-than-ideal home life, which obviously doesn’t grant them the right to treat you disrespectfully. If your principal seems to be coming from a place of constraint, consider that. If your principal is being a jerk however, I cannot encourage you to egg their car.

an open office space with purple lights shining from the ceiling to create a grid on the floor
Dramcorp offices at Meow Wolf Las Vegas. Photo by Laurent Velazquez.

How long will I have to wait in this line?

When was the last time you were able to take a pause? Like, seriously be forced to do nothing but stand in the line of the grocery store, or at the bank, or at a particularly well-beloved maximalist art exhibition located in the American Southwest? Take a moment to stretch, extending your fingertips as far as they can go, realign your spine from days and days of being hunched over a computer or a desk or being the host of incredibly poor posture. Check your phone to see if you missed or overlooked some texts from a loved one, or several loved ones, and use this forced pause to catch up. If it’s a crowded line, maybe don’t call them, but definitely send them a funny meme curated to their specific tastes to let them know that you think of them with nothing but adoration and offer to talk on the phone soon.

Get an app on your phone that you can download books on and read something cool to pass the time. Lately I’ve been reading Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie, ¡Hola Papi! from JP Brammer, and The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. We should all be reading more anyway.

How do you stay inspired?

You have to allow yourself to look at everything like it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it. Find the wonderment in walking through the downtown area of your city or town. Talk to people. People are always full of surprises and stories and tellings of urban legends that you’ve never heard before. Learn how to release your inhibitions, feel the rain on your skin!! No one else can feel it for you, only you can let it in. But for real, get rid of that voice that’s telling you what you’re doing in your art is wrong. There’s no such thing as right or wrong, it’s just finished or unfinished projects.

There is also something to be said about the relationship an artistic person has with consumption and creation. There has to be an equal balance of both; you cannot just consume media over and over again without output and you cannot output art constantly without taking a break to watch your favorite season of True Detective or Real Housewives of Atlanta or Judge Judy or that guy who feeds raccoons hotdogs…really, whatever inspires you.

In spite of this, there is no formulaic solution for “how to stay inspired.” You just have to find what makes your heart flutter, what brings joy, and what sparks feelings, even if those feelings are not terminally positive. If you take anything from this piece of advice, take this: there is nothing more important than feeling your feelings however you need to feel them, so long as you are feeling them. Everything else will fall into place.