Generally speaking, I'm opposed to burning books. I'll make an exception for this one... (Note: Only one book and no bloggers were harmed during the making of this image. And yes, it's REALLY on fire. What you don't see is Boyfriend Brett taking the picture with one hand — and holding a fire extinguisher with the other...)

I am a believer. I’m not entirely sure what I believe — or why I believe — but I can say for sure and certain that I believe. And I believe others can believe how they want to believe their beliefs.

But one thing I don’t believe (and you may want to lean forward so I can whisper this, lest lightning hit you if YOU’RE a believer in beliefs I don’t believe): The Universe is not listening.

Nope, The Universe has bigger things on its mind. Like being all vast. And universal-ly. And boundless and such.

Anyhow, according to the aforementioned all-knowing knower of all things worth knowing (Wikipedia, not The Universe):


noun /ˈyo͞onəˌvərs/

  1. All existing matter and space considered as a whole; the cosmos. The universe is believed to be at least 10 billion light years in diameter and contains a vast number of galaxies; it has been expanding since its creation in the Big Bang about 13 billion years ago

Yeah. Right…billions of light years in diameter and billions of years old. I’m thinking it has about a-billion-and-one other things to worry about than you or me.

But here’s the deal: I have many friends who believe The Universe? It hears them. Like seriously. It’s LISTENING! They even told me, post-divorce, that all I had to do was tell The Universe what I want from my future Boyfriend/Husband/Man 2.0. Then he would come to me.

Maybe in a shining ball of light, I’m guessing. Perhaps even with a giant bow on him, and a gift tag: “To Mikalee 2.0. Love, The Universe.”

I wish.

People: The Universe doesn’t care about me. Or you. It’s a big ball of cosmos with its own laundry list of worries – unlike your clearly bored and slightly crazy cat-lady neighbor who “pretends” to be pruning that same goddamn rose bush in the yard for 30 minutes so she can eavesdrop on your conversation with Boyfriend Brett.

(Yeah, I may have a neighbor who needs a life.)

I know this is like giving the universe a bye. It gets away with whatever it wants, while my life is under my own control. This also flies in the face of “The Secret,” which is essentially the idea that The Universe is listening — and responding.

And to that suggestion, to The Secret and to my wonderful friends who liken The Universe to my nosy crazy cat-lady neighbor: I say FUCK The Secret.

Seriously. Fuck it. It has no place in my life. The phrase “attitude of gratitude” makes me want to yack. I mean, come on: I talk ALL THE TIME about finding a soul mate and being discovered by a successful and passionate publisher who simply loves loves LOVES my writing and how much I adore my kids and want them to have a beautiful stress-free life and how I desperately want to trust again and how much I wish some people in my life would just leave me alone and stop sending insidious little stupid messages through my blog and her blog ALL the time.

Yet The Universe hasn’t responded. I mean, seriously, I talk about all these things almost as much as I talk about my obsession with Diet Coke! And you don’t see Diet Coke responding to my messages, do you?

Um. Uh-oh. Crap. May want to rethink that comparison.

So here’s the deal. I received this cheery little message in my inbox a few weeks ago. Subject line: “A Surprise from Diet Coke”:

Hi Mikalee,

I’m reaching out to you on behalf of Diet Coke. Thanks for being such an extraordinary fan! We love all of the nice things you’ve said on your MikaleeByerman blog.

In honor of our birthday on July 29th, we’re sending 29 fans an amazing birthday surprise — and you’re one of them! We only have a limited number of gifts, so if you’d like one, we’d need you to send us your contact info (name, mailing address and phone number) by Monday. Please let me know if you have any questions.

We look forward to celebrating our birthday with you!

Cheery representative’s name (omitted for privacy reasons, of course — because I know you’ll all bomb her with tons of requests of your own)

Wieden+Kennedy on behalf of Diet Coke

Just a reminder: Taxes may apply.

Taxes may apply?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! RIGHT ON!

My first thought: Oh my GOD! It’s a major award!

The infamous leg lamp, a.k.a. the "major award" won by Ralphie's proud papa in A Christmas Story (photo available via Creative Commons non-commercial license)

My second thought: I’d receive a wad of “$1 off  your next 2-Liter bottle purchase” coupons. But regardless: I had been chosen. By Diet Coke. To be one of only 29 people in the whole wide world — nay, The Universe — to receive this special surprise!!!

Um, Universe: So sorry for the disrespect. And thanks for listening.

So I sent my address. And I waited. And then one afternoon about a week later, I received this message on my cell phone (transcribed word for word…including condescending/mocking utterances and noises):

“Hi Mikalee, uh, you don’t know who I am, but, for some reason I’m shipping you a refrigerator for free apparently — it’s a Coke promotion. I guess you’re the lucky one. It’s a complicated situation of why I have your refrigerator, but anyway, I’m going to be shipping it to your home address, and it will be getting there on Thursday, just to let you know, cuz, uh, I would hate to have to get that thing back. So, I think it’s going to your home address, so uhhhhh…just wanted to let you know that. So you might leave a note on your door or something, “Leave the refrigerator” (pffffft if you’re not home) “in the back or something.” But it’s coming UPS and should be there during the day Thursday sometime. Thank you. Bye.”

He was pretty full of disdain for “that thing” (a.k.a. my refrigerator), but he quickly called back to explain that it is indeed a mini-refrigerator (I think he didn’t want me expecting a man-sized fridge in my driveway — perhaps only one to fit a child).

Then I received another email from Diet Coke affirming that it is indeed a mini-fridge, and that it would be “stocked” with Diet Coke.

Viral campaign recipient + child-sized fridge + “stocked” with Diet Coke = 1 happy new believer in The Secret (Yay Universe! Yay me!)

OK, so there’s the set-up. And here’s what I got:

Good thing they used a fake box. Otherwise robbers would know I had a fridge on my doorstep. (Wait: But that's not a fake box...)

After dragging and cajoling and man-handling my strangely heavy child-size fridge-in-a-box into the garage (Boyfriend Brett always did say I’m “freakishly strong” — but I think that’s just because I once single-handedly broke a garlic press by squeezing it too hard), I opened the box. Here’s what I found:

Are you as confused by this logo as I am? It's like some designer was sniffing glue while studying Picasso and his blobby eye portraits while sketching my child-size fridge logo. What you can't see are the numerous dents and dings on all sides of the fridge. Hey Disdainful Shipping Dude: Perhaps you shoulda marked the box "Fragile" (of course pronounced "Fra-gee-lay")?

And here’s what was inside the fridge:

"Stocked" with Diet Coke, huh? If by "stocked" you mean "10 cans total, 5 rolling around loose, 5 tossed carelessly in the drawer, which upon shipping, cracked the drawer into 100 tiny pieces"...

And because Diet Coke just happens to be a Facebook friend, I stumbled upon its viral video that tells the tale of the 21 recipients of little fridges on the day I received mine (apparently 8 declined. Or died.). Clearly this video spotlights those living within driving distance of the marketing team making the video for Diet Coke — and/or Kim Kardashian lookalikes wearing crazy-big earrings (click this link to see the video yourself if you’re so inclined. Seriously. Those earrings are MASSIVE!)

Anyhow, here’s a screenshot from the viral video that Diet Coke put out on the big day:

See any differences?

That guy? Peering into a STOCKED fridge. Me? Picking up shards of shelving and drawer shattered by my whole 10 cans of Diet Coke.

Now, I’m certainly not one to look a gift mini-refrigerator in the oddly logoed, badly dented door: But Disdainful Shipping Dude, did you drink all the Diet Coke that was supposed to “stock” my mini-fridge?

Anyhow, I’m totally grateful — just a bit flummoxed by the process that resulted in Disdainful Shipping Dude disdainfully shipping me a damaged mini fridge with a whole 10 cans of Diet Coke. From the makers of all the Diet Coke in the whole world. I mean, really: You’ve only got 10 cans to spare??? I could take $2.99 to my local Safeway and get a whole 12 pack…

But perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned here. I’ve decided, in the aftermath of my Diet Coke present, that perhaps The Secret has merit. After all, the day I started writing this blog post, I read a blog post by Dan Zarrella that included this gem:

“When I studied blogging, I found that blog posts that included the word ‘comments’ typically got more comments than blog posts that did not.”

You see, Danny (if I may be so bold) thinks it’s the power of suggestion, of insidiously placing the desire in the head of the unsuspecting reader who mindlessly sees the word “comment” and robotically thinks to himself, “Hmmm…must leave comment. MUST LEAVE COMMENT!”

He says it’s a “call to action.” Ha! I scoff at that suggestion. Because Danny: It’s just The Universe. It’s listening, dammit!

All-righty-then. Here’s the deal, nosy Universe. In response to my newfound beliefs, I’m going to bypass the whole act of “subtly putting it out there,” of merely suggesting to The Universe my desires. Instead, I’m going a more direct route: by way of an Open Letter to the Universe.

Dear Universe:

So I talk ad nauseum about Diet Coke on my blog, then I get a gift from Diet Coke. Got it. You’re listening

Now here’s the deal: I’m aiming higher this time. I’d like to make a direct request for the next viral campaign you send my way. Perhaps Bugatti Veyron would like to pimp out its SuperCar (pricetag: $2.4 million). Or if House of Winston is eying a bigger publicity prize, I’d be happy to talk A WHOLE LOT about something like the designer’s ‘Extraordinary Diamond Drop Earrings’ consisting of two pear-shaped diamonds in a platinum setting totaling 60.1 carats (for only $8.5  million).

Maybe the Spellings need a viral campaign to sell their sprawling Spelling Manor, which is on the market in LA for a cool $150 million. I’d be more than happy to live in the 123-room mega-mansion. Hell, I’d blog DAILY from the French-chateau-style estate while taking romps among its 4.7 acres. Boyfriend Brett would no longer have to cut my hair, as there’s a 17,000-square foot attic with a barbershop and salon; I’d garden disgusting tomatoes and ignore all their jizz and nubs and seeds and slime (yes, I may have texture issues) while on my rooftop garden; the kids would prove that mad Wii bowling skillz do NOT translate to in-real-life bowling ability on the mansion’s two-lane bowling alley; and my staff would enjoy the service wing with staff quarters (the staff does come with the $150 million price tag, right?).

So there you go: Bugatti Veyron, Harry Winston diamonds, Spelling Manor … and while you’re at it, would you mind giving my kids an amazing life? And send me a publisher for my book? And one request from Boyfriend Brett: Perhaps you can also infuse me with just a wee bit of trust?

Thanks a billion….



There you have it: I’m a convert. And because of my newfound, born-again belief in The Universe and its fuckin’ ginormous set of ears, here’s the deal: I’m ALL in! I’m going to (comment below) just keep hoping that (Harry Winston diamonds) all my efforts of being a super-cool human (Spelling Manor) will pay off while I talk about (Maserati) all sorts of high-end (24-K Gold “Little Something” Vibrator by Jimmyjane) items. And I will (Bugatti Veyron) keep being this super-cool human and (comment below) keep writing my shit. Because (comment below) I want to be a success (comment-comment-comment dammit!).

So what do you think? Am I aiming high enough? Did I get the shaft from Diet Coke and Disdainful Shipping Dude? Do you believe in The Secret or The Universe? Have you ever broken a garlic press by squeezing too hard? Will I be struck by lightning in the next few days?

Because already, I think The Universe is pissed at me. Look what it left in my path yesterday. Seriously.

So Universe: Let me get this straight. Three months ago, I encounter overdramatic dead squirrel. I take pix of said dead squirrel. I post pix and blog about said dead squirrel. Twice.

Now yesterday, you bring me yet another overdramatic dead squirrel and place it directly in my path?!?!

Twice in a lifetime? Maybe. Twice in like 80 days? Say it with me, people: “You just can’t make this shit up…”

P.S. Universe: You do realize a dead squirrel is not a publisher for my book, right? Just sayin’.