Ask TSJ: Troubles in Iowa City


LIFE IS HARD. It seems like every new day brings a new question that, try as you might, you’re just unable to find an answer for. The Smoking Jacket understands this, and we’re here to help. TSJ’s editor, Melissa Bull, and Headshots’ columnist, Mike Spry, set aside some time in their busy schedules to answer your questions in a feature we’ve cleverly named “Ask TSJ.”

This week’s incredible question comes from our friend Francis. And you know how they say a friend in need is a friend indeed.

Dear TSJ:

I got troubles, man. I. GOT. TROUBLES. MAN.

So I just turned 40 and I realize that everything I’ve done to this point in my life has been a horrible mistake. From women, to friends, to “career,” to my affection for teen romcoms.

What do I do? Do I start over? CAN I start over? Where do I start over?

- Francis in Iowa City


Ask TSJ Melissa chalk

Oh man, Francis. This question is EXACTLY like dinner-time conversation at my house where we wring our hands at our poor life choices and then watch Louis and then feel a little better and kinda worse.

We all make Netflix streaming mistakes. I mean there’s only so much you can do about it and then suddenly you’re watching Julianne Hough talk to ghosts and you’re crying and it’s 2 A.M. or 4 A.M. and you’re messed up but you don’t know if it’s from the lack of sleep or because you’re not challenging yourself to at least watch a documentary like Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s. 

I had a psychic great-grandmother. Did you know that, Francis? Her name was Isabel, but everyone called her Mina. When my dad was a kid he asked her if knowing the future made her feel trapped. She said no. She said it’s not what happens to you but how you react to it that really determines your fate.

Take a slice from Mina’s schpiel, Francis. You can’t start over, but can you at least get a job at Starbucks?



 Ask TSJ Mike photobooth

Dear Francis,

We all got troubles, dude. Though at least we aren’t trying to rock a girl’s name in Iowa.

No, but seriously Frank. This happens to everyone. In your 20s you think you know everything, in your 30s you realize you know nothing, and in your 40s you come to understand that that first 40 decades was just a warmup. It was an opening act.

Now the time as come to become a person. Do what you need to do. Ditch friends. Cut off family. Quit your job. Go back and find that first love. Whatever needs to be done, Frankie, now is the GD time. Because, at best, you’ve got 40 years left.

Get on it, boy,

Got a question for Melissa and Mike? CLICK HERE and fire away. If we use it… your life will improve immediately.