Monday, January 12, 2015

The Interview

"Good afternoon."

"Good afternoon Peter. It's nice to meet you. My name is Isaac."

"Hi Isaac. Thanks for selecting my resume and giving me a chance to interview today."

"Well, it did stand out what with all of the excess glitter - I had to take a shower afterwards. Anyways, let's get started here. Can you tell me why you are interested in a position as a cashier at our store?"

"Thank you for asking! I just see being a cashier as a sure fire way to spend more time in the presence of money as I feel that I have a lot I can learn from it. I also am good at counting and, if necessary, at teaching others to count as well. I can picture myself standing behind a cash register, mostly because I painted a self-portrait of myself doing so."

"Well, I do appreciate your enthusiasm which, under different circumstances, I would categorize as certifiable. I'm not sure if at some point I will grow tired or exhausted of your enthusiasm and subconsciously plan your demise or dream of trimming your bangs after hypnotizing you, but at this point it is welcome step up from the usual applicants who I often describe as "luke-warm pork chops" which could have to do with the lunches my wife is packing me as well."

"I think I understand what you are talking about as I also have hunks of cold meat in my lunch bag. Now I only need a job to go to so that I can eat it. I want to say that If I am fortunate enough to get this position then I will work so hard and learn as much as I can as it is but one step of some distance towards my eventual goal of becoming irreplaceable or at least less replaceable then I am right now, which is a lot."

"I wonder if you could tell me about your previous employment experiences or if you prefer you can act them out or use these small figurines I brought along for this purpose or to play with I got bored while conducting these interviews."

"I used to wash dishes at the restaurant down the street or, more accurately, I just repeatedly washed the same dish day in and day out on my back porch. According to the others who eventually were all wearing white lab coats and taking notes on clipboards, the dish was very clean, but it just seemed like I could do a better job. 

I also delivered newspapers for a time as my way of making sure that the amount of newsprint that each citizen had in their possession was somewhat equal. I particularly loved rolling the papers and tossing them with a flamboyance that our neighbourhood had an extreme shortage of in my opinion."

"You seem to either genuinely care about others or are really good at making it seem that you do in your stories, which, either way, is a great quality to have as a cashier working directly with the public who seems to need to feel more and more cared for and coddled as time goes on."

"I've noticed that too! People seem to be becoming more sensitive and needy which is why I've decided to write a series of self-help books both so people can better cope with these changing times in which we live and also so they can learn how to take advantage of others depending on your mood when you wake up. But don't worry about me being busy. I am free to pick up as many shifts as you can throw my way, if I am hired of course."

"I hope you understand, in the case that you are hired, that no shifts will literally be thrown your way. We used to deliver the shift schedule that way until we saw an extreme rise in paper cuts and other thrown-paper related injuries which we initially attributed to the randomness of the universe before putting two and two together and also seeing the paper cuts we were inflicting with our own eyes. I'm not sure why we had been trying to use other's eyes for so long. It is just so cumbersome!"

"I also want to volunteer that I am very skilled at handling money. Others have referred to my money-handling as "impressive!" and "timeless" and "mesmerizing, although that could be at least partially due to the disco balls flashing above him" and "why are we standing here watching him handle money in the first place when we could be dancing?" Strangely, as adept as I am at handling the money, I am significantly less good at distributing or packing it in the dirty laundry and those tasks are best performed with the aid of both a team of assistants and a realistic-sounding laugh track."

"Unfortunately our budget won't allow us to hire any assistant cashiers, but we can train you as fully as you are able to be trained. Let me conclude this informative interview by asking you about a few typical scenarios which could come up in this line of work. How would you handle an angry customer especially if you know that you are right?"

"I would handle a customer, angry or not, whether I am correct or not, with kid gloves on. I am fortunate that my mother invested heavily in a company that specialized in making multi-purpose kid gloves and there are always a few pairs just laying around. Customers, in my mind, need to be treated like the delicate flowers always at risk of losing their petals to a wayward wind gust that they are. Customers need to be "bought off" or just given discounts; they need to be "pressed forcibly into my less-than-ample bosom" or just patted, non-emotionally, on the shoulder from time-to-time; they need to feel that they are, in fact, customers who are buying things or else they may grow quite dispondent and disillusioned."

"You've clearly thought a lot about customer care and I am impressed by you, although it is at least potentially possible that I just woke up in an overly impressed mood and that almost anyone short of a psychopath would have left me feeling impressed today. Having said that, I'm fairly certain I'm sitting here right now listening to you and feeling impressed by you at this moment."

"I can't tell you how much of a relief that is to hear that. I literally am not at liberty to tell you - I've been mandated by the courts to not share my relief to hear things as the last time I did that the damages were extensive and I had to see a speech pathologist on five consecutive Wednesday afternoons thus making our bridge group have to reschedule."

"You play bridge?"

"I do, or at least I should say, I do some of the time. Right now, I'm talking with you."

"Thanks for clarifying. Well, I guess we are just about done. Here is one last scenario for you. How would you react if you saw another employee taking money from the cash register?"

"Am I allowed to use force that in some circles may be described as excessive?"


"Well, I would start by clearing my throat mostly due to this cold that I'm battling right now. Then I would try talking to them, using reason and arguments straight out of Classic Greek philosophy, and if that didn't work, I would dumb it down and read them some picture books that aim to instruct 6 year-olds what right and wrong is. If that didn't work, and you still aren't keen to have me use excessive, and possibly debilitating, force  that I am quite well-versed in due to my martial arts training, then I would attempt to outwit them with either some tongue twisters or riddles and while they are occupied, I would reclaim the money and then wrap them in duct tape both to secure them until the authorities can be contacted and also to satisfy my desire to duct tape at least one person each week. I'm looking into either getting help for that or a sponsorship from a local tape company."

"Thank you for your comprehensive answers. We will be in touch."

"Thank you."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Team "Eat Your Greens!"

Team Description in Program for 2015 National Ultimate Frisbee Championships

Eat Your Greens (Vancouver - Mixed division)

"Eat your greens!" your mother probably said to you when you were growing up or even as recently as yesterday if you still haven't started eating them. Everyone is starting to wonder why you won't even try your greens! If your mother didn't say "eat your greens" and you feel like you really missed out, then we can be hired to say "eat your greens" at a rate of $1.25/exclamation. If you purchase a set of 5, we will toss in a few "clean your rooms", "stop bothering your sisters" and "stop obsessively inflating and deflating all of the basketballs and soccer balls in your room while listening to ear-splitting death metal" (it's highly possible that only our mothers said that one and it's highly possible she also ate way too many greens and still has active outpatient status). So, no, we are not your mothers…yet, but we are looking into rectifying that in the near future as soon as the roast is out of the oven.

We are the almost-too-attractive team that are wearing the almost-too-attractive sparkling green jerseys that give us the appearance of lettuce. We liberally toss around the expression almost-too-attractive as we were all there the day that the team that was completely-too-attractive showed up and we remember the beauty and carnage that followed. If it was ever possible on this great blue and green planet for carnage to be awe-inspiringly beautiful it was on that day. We pale in comparison mostly due to our sunscreen usage and our total lack of desire to clean up any messes unless it is after the opening of some pomegranates as we are crazy for super fruits.

This year’s National Championships ends a three-year worldwide journey - a quest if you will - in search of some really good kale and Swiss chard although we would have been fairly satisfied with a salad made up of escarole and Belgian endive. Our travels had us living as Buddhist monks in the mountains of Tibet, bull runners in a small Spanish village, and pastry chefs in Hoboken, New Jersey (which was eerily similar to living as a monk aside from all of the gambling and hairdos). Along the way, we threw plenty of discs, sometimes to each other, sometimes at nearby water buffalo and sometimes out of spite. Then there were the times we contemplated what "throwing a frisbee" really meant in the larger scheme of things. We decided it mostly a cry for help.

We flat out eat more greens per team then anyone else and this is based on the ratio of greens eaten, or otherwise ingested, per gram raised to the power of our collective IQ, but divided by the percentage of skin that is not now, nor ever will be, freckled, and if you don't believe us – bring it on! We’ll out “green” all of you haters! We'll be all like “green” and you'll be all like not listening and stuff and then we'll be all like “GREEN”, and you'll be all confused and smacking your face and be asking us to stop “greening you” and we'll lean back (and I mean way back) and just smile. That smile could be on display in a museum that just hasn't been built yet. While we are waiting we'll just continue reading self help books instead, as it has been strongly recommended by everyone we know.

Our style is so avant-garde, that it has been known to actually knock your socks off (you could help by taking them most of the way off beforehand to ensure the trick works!) In fact, we were once told that we were so post-modern that it made the term lose all meaning which actually bummed everyone out as they loved referring to things as post-modern because it made them feel good. We also want to make you feel good and, to help that cause, we will hand out to each person who greets us a big handful of shredded iceberg lettuce that would go really well on top of some tacos. Tacos not included. So, look for us on the fields at Nationals where we will either be winning in style, losing in style or attempting to blend in by impersonating some parrots.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Folding The Laundry in Silence

I have been told repeatedly that I only hurt the ones I love and, while that is true, I am looking to slowly expand into aquaintances in the near future.

You have a smile that lights up the room, and as much as you enjoy the attention and small bit of fame that comes with this unique skill, you are thinking of implementing a small fee for all of the electricity you are providing.

I am now cooking with heat as we have exhausted the cold soup and entree options and salads, although healthy, are making us crazy.

You are attempting to literally drive yourself nuts, but even if you were to figure out how, you aren't quite sure if it will be as amazing as it's been advertised to be.

I am all butterfingers but for not for the reasons people always assume that I am due to my close affiliations with the butter community.

You hit the books with a force and passion that is equal parts commendable and disconcerting.

I am letting myself go and the results are squishy and enthralling and reminiscent of a very small bouncy castle.

You are demonstrating your new and improved flexibility by repeatedly kicking yourself in the butt to the amusement and amazement of all and resulting in free advertising for your yoga studio.

I am going to wash that man right out of my hair immediately after I finish cooking dinner and answering some emails. He can wait.

You slide aggressively headfirst into home plate both scoring the winning run and securing yourself a huge raise in your next contract with the only downside being the amazing amount of cleanup you've created for the underpaid staff of the supermarket.

I reduce all simple tasks to finding a needle in a haystack out of boredom and because my great uncle left me his antique needle collection that was expansive as it was ouchy.

You don't have to be asked twice - you brought home all of the bacon. Now what?

I don't only cry over spilled milk as it is but one of many many many things that reduce me to tears.

You are enjoying your new birthday present by attempting to brand everyone you "own".

I only look as if I just appeared out of midair. In fact I just walked through the front door when your focus was diverted which proves that my art of distraction has greatly improved and you may need your eyes checked on a more regular basis.

You look so quick as you race through the path in the woods and are running so fast as if you are being chased by wolves. Upon closer inspection they only seem to be once-domesticated, now-rabid dogs. 

I am not only going out of my way to be cliched but I'm also trying to pay my way through college.

You are attempting to label everything.

I whisper sweet words of romance and allow the warm breeze to blow them towards you as we enjoy the sunset. And then I start coughing and coughing and coughing.

You are defusing a bomb as we speak, or, as you continue to remind me, just folding the laundry in silence.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Writing Process: Part 2

So, I am back to continue to enlighten all of you who are still tuning in (is there more of an echo now then last time or is that just the result of all of my vocal training?) about how I write. Note: if any of you are actually attempting to tune in, please stop as it is greatly disrupting my cable and most likely not at all possible unless you have tons of money and then almost anything is possible. For those who missed the first piece about the writing process, these blog posts are my chance to share where my ideas come from and how much it costs for me to purchase them and bring them here from their native Namibia. I am attempting to flesh out how I do what I do without using any actual flesh in the process. I did try to brainstorm how I would use flesh if I wanted to and just couldn't think of a plan that would be overly messy and attractive to ants. There are times when I want to be attractive to ants, but those are some of my dark moments that I don't want to get into right now. No, right now I am thinking of a family in the hills of Germany...and I'm back. That happens to me from time to time - without any announcement, I am mentally whisked away to another part of the world where I will often stay, get acculturated and even be adopted by a family or clan if all things go well. Sometimes the trip is long and heart-warming and other times the people there just want to eat my warmed heart as a tasty pate with a slice of fresh baguette. This time the trip was short, mostly because the German family was at a bratwurst festival (not for eating, but more for the out-of-body experiences that come from eating one too many sausages) for the weekend and also because I feel the need to write.

I also feel the need to decorate my room with various mirrors and colourful drapes for reasons that I have been told by my lawyers I do not need to go into detail about right now no matter how many times I pretend that I am asked. Yesterday it was 5 times. For the record, I don't have any lawyers or even one single lawyer and I have also been told by them to say that as well. Is me writing about me writing sort of like talking to myself while I eat the food I made and telling myself about what a good job I did and patting myself on the back at the same time? Don't worry - I'm not doing that as it is way too challenging to eat, talk and pat myself all at the same time. I plan to do them one-by-one-by-one and that is how I will spend this Sunday! This piece of writing is not meant to sound too self-congratulatory - self-congratulatory too an extent, just not so much so that I make anyone sick or more sick in case they happened to be reading this while sick in the hopes it would either make them better or just distract them from how badly they feel. Either way - I'm good - I take great pride in distracting people from how bad they feel or just how they feel in general. Spend some time around me and you won't have any idea how you feel at all! Not that is a slogan I can live with! It is a gradual process - you will start feeling a lot and then little by little you will grow emotionally numb, some checkers will be played, the wind will howl, the birds will fly south for the winter and a pie will be consumed. All of this for the low cost of having to hear me moan about things - I'm sorry, I wish I could sing better too.

Contrary to popular opinion, writing is not all fun and games. Fun and games is all fun and games - writing is not fun and games at all and I'm not sure why we are spending so much time trying to explain this as it seems pretty easy to understand. Oh, one more thing - fun and games is not entirely all  fun and games, that is just what the powerful fun and games lobby wants us to believe. Occasionally there are tears. Too many tears and the word fun starts to see wrong and quite insensitive and sort of like why don't the rest of you stop playing and laughing and see what is the matter already? I hope we understand each other and I can't proceed until we do or else I will have a nagging feeling sort of like a mother bird when she leaves her nest full of cute little helpless baby birds who are anxious for her to return (is that true - are little birds actually anxious? do they have the ability to feel such a complex emotion at such a young age? and maybe they are happy to have the nest to themselves for a while before boring old mom comes back who only cares about spitting chewed up food in our mouths even when we have had more than enough?)

I know I just said "we" and lumped you into all this when you may have been just passing through and you are most likely thinking "wait a minute! Like woah - slow down, big fellow. Don't get me all mixed up in all of your issues." To which I reply (a) I am willing to take your minute and raise you an infinite number of minutes - That's right! I can wait as long as this is going to take or as long as you will let me stand here on your porch before calling the authorities (ask for Bob down at the precinct, we are on a first-name basis and I know he loves two creams and a sugar in his coffee), (b) I will not slow down (c) "Big fellow?" - have you taken a close look at me recently? That is wrong on at least two accounts and I know I can find at least four or five more if given the time and some chocolate and (d) issues?!?!? What do you know of my issues? Have you talked to Sarah? Did she say that if you read this you could get mixed up in them? For the record I was just bidding time until my "mom" came back to "the nest", if by "mom" I meant "star ship" and by "the nest" I meant "home base" and when I told her that I wished I was a herring who was about to be caught in the net of a muscular, but kind fisherman and his son, I WAS JOKING! Did she honestly think I thought I was a herring??!?! Okay, that actually could make sense - I do get occasionally slimy and have a large collection of all different kinds of scales.

For those that didn't know, I have been caught in nets on two separate occasions - once was my fault entirely as I decided to drape a series of nets in my bedroom the same week I decided that any form of lighting was completely passe and the other time was at a costume party when my best friend, dressed as a net, bumped into me (dressed coincidentally also as a net, only a much smaller one) and we became entangled and lay in a pile all evening long (we believed in not only dressing as nets but acting as net-like as possible to complete the effect) - it was the closest the two of us ever had been and we swore never to talk about that evening again which I am violating right now and feeling actually not so bad for doing. The part about being caught or rescued by a hunky, should-be-in-underwear-ads, fisherman and his equally-dropdead-gorgeous-yet-overly-fish-smelling sons...yeah...anyways...

Easily the toughest things about writing for me are not what you would think of (not that I am pretending to always know what you think, or to ever be knowing what you or any of your kind think. Quite the opposite in fact, I know nothing that you are thinking about as evidenced by my inability to buy you a present or even  a piece of fruit that you don't instantly return. And when I say your kind, I don't mean that in a derogatory way, unless of course it is my turn to be derogatory - for those that don't know, a few friends and I take turns each Thursday from 9am till noon being derogatory to each other - sort of like a snack-bringing rotation except that it usually makes me angry and upset and there is no sugar involved except on particularly creative Thursdays). I can easily find my way to the computer and I get how to turn it on etc etc etc - I am mildly offended that many of you thought that the whole finding my computer and actually getting to my blog would be the challenging part for me. Not totally offended, just mildly, as I said, sort of akin to going walking in the woods and only stumbling upon chanterelles and no wild morels or having two out of five random passersby thumb their noses at me for no apparent reason aside from my decision to wear gumboots to the opera which only shows both my complete inability to anticipate proper attire for many formal events and to read through the lines in my friends texts that were evidently supposed to be sarcastic (I just figured she was quoting some unknown author or authors repeatedly. I did wonder why these quotes were particularly memorable, but I just kept quiet as the last time I admitted to not knowing the source of some seemingly random quotes I ended up having to make egg salad sandwiches for the whole accounting department aside from Fred who preferred tuna.)

No, the toughest problems with writing for me are finding cool and unique names for characters that I am using in my stories. Not that there aren't an amazing amount of awesome names, but I know a lot of people and if I use a name of someone I know they probably think one of the following thoughts (a) should I be flattered or concerned?, (b) let's take a wait and see approach and if he makes money I'll attempt to sue/bribe/threaten him for lots of money over using my name without asking, (c) isn't it weird that of all the millions of names in the world that he chose mine and does that mean that he thinks we are friends? Well, let me put your mind at rest (only literalily of course) - I am attempting to choose names that have zero connection to anyone who may actually read my writing and if I happen to choose your name then it was merely a coincidental slip-up which you should not read anything into. Or if you are in the mood, I suggest you spend hours and hours reading into it and if you find anything interesting, please let me know. Maybe there is some hidden connection that I am unaware of at this point - like maybe I unknowingly used your name because your grandfather once pulled a thorn out of my grandfather's hand when they were playing around that good ol' thorny bush that they spent many an hour playing around as young kids and my grandfather was ever-so-grateful that he just wouldn't let up with the appreciation which usually took the form of cream cheese and jam sandwiches aside from the occasional parfait when his mom just happened to make two of just in case there was someone, anyone, he wanted to thank for some small, seemingly innocuous thing - I'm sure if this happened, my grandfather would have tucked me into bed and told me this story of how your grandfather was such a hero in his eyes and that his eyes had been conditioned to be blind to heros except when thorns were involved and then they were wide open, just not wide open enough to miss the thorn in the first place and usually by this time in the story I was fast asleep, but his story would blend into my dreams and then years later when I decided to launch into some creative writing the name was somewhere in the recesses of my brain mostly because I elected against having that elective and quite-risky-sounding surgery of having the recesses "smoothed" over mostly for cosmetic reasons.

As an aside, I try to do as much as I can for cosmetic reasons outside of buying any actual cosmetic items as I'm working my way up to that, sort of how I worked my way up to hang gliding after just jumping off my couch for years until I both broke the couch and was ordered by both my doctor and downstairs neighbour to get out of the house more often. Note: I've never actually hang glided - I've just worked my way up to it which is akin to saying that I am standing in a line waiting my turn with my prized pineapple to commision a fruit sculptor (someone who carves humourous celebrity faces into fruit) who is currently on "vacation" which means he is in prison for life for mistakenly and repeatedly attempting to carve an actual celebrities face. The names I choose just come to me. Almost like I am still and they are moving at the speed of light or maybe it is the other way around and the names are stationary in space and I am screaming up to them at speeds I am unaware mostly because it will be a cold day in hell before I recognize relativity.

So, to avoid using names of those I know, I am tempted to swing the other way and only use extremely uncommon names, but then people may start to wonder what is up with these names I am choosing and why they all sound African or Korean. That reminds me - I am planning to write a piece about two ex-lovers who decide to move (one to Africa and one to Korea), change their names to fit in with the people in their respective countries and also as a voluntary and totally unnecessary witness-protection program only in this case it was only to protect themselves from each other as the love just hurt too much (all of their friends suggested clipping their nails on a more regular basis and just practicing compassion and stop being so aggressive all the time). After a few years, when they both have become accustomed to their new surroundings, they unveil their plan - to each open up a hair salon that would specialize in straightening afros and perming bangs. These salons would be doomed to fail, which was part of the plan all along, and they would both fly home to the small town in Texas they were from (to be honest, they were from a slightly larger city in Texas originally but I decided against that as I wanted them to have a more small town feel to them, which for me only involved deleting a few key strokes and doing a little extra typing, but for them it involved packing, moving and renting a storage locker to put their huge collection of antique wig stands in just before they were about to purchase their first wig) and meet on the tarmac at the airport only to remember why they left in the first place. They really don't like each other at all and only forget that from time to time because of the fact that they are actually figments of the imagination of a third person who is always mixing up who is who in his head. All in all it is an incredibly bad and intentionally convoluted idea for a story which means that if I eventually write it, it will mostly be out of spite unless I feel that I have already done too much out of spite at the time and then I will do it out of revenge or the need to exercise my fingers in as socially acceptable a fashion as possible.

Along the way, when either preparing to write or writing, I have learned some important things. One thing that stands out is I've learned how important breathing is and also that it is very very important not to touch the burning log in the fire place and also to say please and thank you. It never ceases to amaze me how others are nicer to you when you treat them well and this mostly speaks to how long I've been able to condition myself to maintaining the feeling of amazement. I can go literally for days in this state of awe where I am totally overjoyed and inspired by everything I come into contact with or directly contact head on and I'm also very fortunate when these days ends and I'm not in traction. The word traction almost sounds a bit exciting because as my imaginary friend Joe always says, you can't spell attraction without traction which always makes me smile wistfully and makes me long for some actual flesh and blood friends or at least ones with one of those two criteria, but preferably both as I'm not totally interested in a friend who is solely or mostly flesh and I'm definitely not too crazy about blood.

Another thing I've learned that is worthwhile sharing with you at this time is the importance of looking at someone when speaking to them. The main reasons seem to be that it greatly lessens the confusion of who I am talking to especially when in a busy place like a train station and because in this day and age if you can't look someone in the eyes in makes the other person feel very self-conscious and wonder "what is so wrong with me that he can't even look me in the eyes or even at my nose, which would like some visual attention too from time to time when the eyes have either had enough or decide to get off their high horse and share once and a while". I don't want to make anyone else more self-conscious than me - it is a competition I've been playing in every day since last year went I met that odd lady on the corner downtown with the large collection of stuffed birds for sale. I liked the black and white one the best, and she seemed to be enamored with my shirt collar which I agree was my best feature that day, but just couldn't take it when she offered as my hands were metaphorically full and it was just too confusing to attempt to explain this to the lady who seemed like she would be quite metaphorically-challenged. I do not want to unnecessarily challenge anyone in life, especially since the infamous Balloon Incident.