Tuesday, August 31, 2010


For the past five weeks, I have been tutoring a pair of seven-year-old twins in English on the recommendation of my friend Sandman Moon. When I asked their mother when I should come back for the next tutoring session, she told me that she would call me if they needed me, and that she was going to reenlist Sandman Moon’s superior services. I then picked up my supplies, was practically pushed out the door (which happened every time—Do I give off an odd vibe?), and left with a polite smile on my face.

Wait, what?

I just suffered a fairly important job rejection, and I didn’t say or do anything about it? Not that I was going to get gangster on her ass and beat the crap out of her or anything, but I left smiling? That’s pathetic. As the South Africans say, “Shame, man.”

What could I have done, though? If I had insisted that I should continue tutoring the kids, I would have just looked like a belligerent ass. If I had flown off the handle, I would have secured a position outside the realm of possibility of ever being invited back. What can you possibly do in a situation like that? You’re staring down the barrel of a rejection, and all you can do is smile at the one wielding it in hopes that they just graze you instead of blowing your dignity all over the wall behind you.

To be honest, I’m not sure where I was headed with this, but I feel we need to open up a dialogue about what I know we’ve all experienced before. So come on and give me some rejection stories and tell me how you dealt with each experience.

Friday, August 27, 2010


People often ask all types of artists where they get their inspiration, and they will reply with what inspired them to create whatever work being discussed. These same people will then try to find inspiration in that which the artist mentioned, and find only that they are no better off having done so. They listened to the crashing of waves on a beach and heard only noise. They peered down the slopes of an alpine valley and saw only a cleft in the earth. They tried to feel empathy for refugees from war and felt only that they had gas.

Inspiration is different for everyone. Just as there is no daily routine, religion, or diet that works for every person, neither is there a set of experiences that will guarantee creation of a masterpiece. I suppose that’s one reason why artists exist in the first place: to contribute to an exposition of sources of inspiration available to humanity. Though trying to generate an inspirational experience that is identical to that of someone else won’t get you anywhere, you can look at their experience to show the enormous variety of sources waiting to be tapped.

Wouldn’t you like to be the first person to find inspiration in bellybutton lint? Of course you would.

Monday, August 23, 2010

America's Next Top Doofus

One of the biggest bunches of morons in America today consists of people who you probably could not single out on the street, nor might you know whether they were even in the same room. They skulk about retail stores by day, and they lurk around product review websites by night. Even your very best friend might be one. These insidious dunces are customers who feel that they need to be convinced to buy something they already want.

This afternoon I was graced by the presence of one such idiot. He had come in just a few days prior with his girlfriend (!) to compare three products with very similar features and specifications, but he was back to ask a few (thousand) more questions. From this past experience I knew this simpleton’s face, but that didn’t make my stomach turn over with any less violence when he opened the door, triggered the classy convenience-store style chime, and started gunning me down with inane queries begging subjective answers. When he was with his girlfriend and under the bubbly spell of hormones and Axe body spray, he was filled with overweening ignorance, dismissing each of the products offhand. On his return trip by himself, he was markedly more considerate, taking the time to inspect the products an unnecessary number of times and rattle off questions that might have undermined his significant other’s confidence in his knowledge.

He was there to buy something. He wouldn’t have made a second trip if he wasn’t going to buy something. The guy settled on one product, asked even more questions, had me convince him that that one was the one he wanted (even though he already knew that that one was the one he wanted), and… didn’t buy anything. He said he’ll be back tomorrow. Awesome. Dumbass.

I know some of you are reading this, rolling your eyes, and thinking that all I write about is writing and how customers suck. While that may be true, this needs to be said so that maybe a few of you can relate, and so some can learn from the mistakes of others.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Humiliation Situation

I’ve realized that much of what I do is driven by embarrassment and humiliation. Because I’m so often embarrassed by mistakes I make, my lack of grace, or just looking foolish, I seem to feel the need to do something to make up for such events; something that requires exceptional skill, effort, and time to counteract the awkward, humiliating moments for which I’m responsible.

The awful part is that in these attempts to do something exceptional, the likelihood that I’ll fall on my face is high. I suppose it’s a good thing that I’m a writer, then, because I can take my time and work toward creating a piece that will (with any luck) make me feel at least marginally better about being a dork.

The road between where I am and where I want to be is long, steep, uphill, narrow, and flanked by sheer drop-offs, but it’s one I'm compelled to travel. It’s completely irrational thinking that there’s some sort of balance between the inflation and wounding of pride that needs to be maintained, but it’s something that is inextricable from my mind. I’m sure I’m not alone in this ridiculous pursuit, so please let me know what you think and whether you’ve experienced anything like what I’ve described.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer and the Universe

It’s hot as balls here in Seattle. It was 95 degrees today, it was 95 degrees yesterday, and guess what? It’s going to be 95 degrees tomorrow. I suppose I’m pretty strange in that I suffer from seasonal depression in summer rather than fall or winter, but I would imagine that weather like this is too hot for most of you out there as well. The only good part about a hot day is the night that follows. Summer nights seem to be filled with subdued energy, where people are out and active, but are outside to relax and escape the heat that is trapped indoors.

It’s nights like these where I find myself studying the clear sky and thinking (because it’s still too hot to do much of anything else). Thinking not about the mundane, persistent topics that normally roll around in my mind, but about the universe and our place in it. Every time I’m blown away just by considering how distant other celestial objects are, the potential for life to exist on other planets, or just how small and isolated our home planet seems to be.

Though such thoughts are filled with wonder and awe, they are also seasoned with melancholy. I look forward to mankind’s development of technology that will allow us to travel the galaxy, discover planets capable of sustaining life, and even make contact with other intelligent beings, but I can be almost certain that I will not live to see any of these dreams come to fruition. I suppose I should consider myself lucky to live in a time where men have landed on the moon, probes have explored and given us amazing data about the planets of our solar system, and where we are only a stone’s throw away from sending manned missions to Mars, but I still wish I could stick around to see more of the future.

What about those of you reading this right now? Does anyone else ever consider our place in the universe? Does anyone else feel bad that they will miss some of the greatest advancements in human history, or am I just a gigantic nerd? (Don’t answer that last part.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On writing (and sticking with it)

I have written every word to ever leave the tip of my pen or be transmitted through my keyboard because I have persevered to do so. I’m not really in the mood to write tonight, but I know that if I don’t, what’s to keep me from skipping writing a blog entry tomorrow night? Or the night after that? Or forever for that matter? Nothing. Nothing except a little gumption. But you know what? Most of the time, that’s all it takes. Sometimes obstacles appear to be monolithic structures blocking the path, but often they are only thin membranes of resistance, rent with ease by maintaining just a little perseverance.

Sticking with a project is one of the most consistently difficult things I’ve had to do in my life, but I know it has to be done. Just knowing that it has to be done isn’t enough, though; I need a push in the right direction from time to time. I’m very lucky to have a supportive, understanding group of friends who encourage me to keep on keeping on. One in particular, my friend Minima, has been invaluable in my blogging endeavor. When I started this blog, she charged me with the task of writing 20 entries (this one being the twentieth) to get me going. This may seem simple, but it was precisely the kick in the ass that I needed. Had she not encouraged me to write, it is quite likely that this blog would have only three or four entries, thrown on when inspiration struck.

Now that I have those 20 entries under my belt, I’m going to do what I think Minima would suggest that I do at this point: write another 20.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Closeness and Imperceptibility

Another oddity in social networking that I’ve noticed is the suddenness with which you can be thrust back into the lives of people with whom you may have completely lost contact. Just the other day, I was added as a friend on Facebook by someone I haven’t seen in over six years. Within minutes I was up to speed with what he looks like now, what he has been doing in the past few months, and plenty of details I never learned during the course of our in-person friendship.

This abrupt update in a friend’s life makes me consider the relationships I have with the people closest to me. I have perceived six years of growth and change in one person to occur in a single moment, but in my closest friends and loved ones, change in their appearance and daily lives seems so gradual that it is almost imperceptible. Perhaps the observation of such change is a good gauge of the closeness of a relationship. If you see someone make obvious leaps in the progression of his/her life, maybe it’s time to take a deeper interest in him/her before he/she has leapt off your radar.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On writing (and not knowing how to get there)

Now that I’ve written quite a few entries, I feel it’s time to explain where I’m going with this blog. Wait, scratch that. Writing, as with most pursuits, is about the journey, not the destination. Besides, I haven’t even a clue where I’ll end up. Having no idea where you’re going, but going despite the fact, is the very essence of writing.

For those of you who don’t write beyond blog posts or papers for work or school, you should know that most writers don’t actually come up with everything they put down on paper. Stories aren’t thought into being, but rather they are revealed. Revealed from where I doubt anyone knows, but just about any serious writer will tell you that they just write down what they’re told. Fighting against this and attempting to write only that which you have created results in pretty crappy writing, and gives your story the flair of a final paper written for a class that bores the living hell out of you.

My friend Sandman Moon puts it so well that to phrase it any other way would diminish its meaning: “I cannot live without writing because writing is the one and only thing that frees something blind and hard-packed at the core of my being.”

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rodents of Unusual Size? I don't think they exist.

Remember the talkative lady I mentioned a few posts ago? The one whose presence at my place of work I was downright dreading? Well, it has been almost two weeks, and she has yet to show. (If you hear incessant, frenzied knocking in the distance, it’s just me rapping on every piece of wood in my apartment in hopes that I haven’t just jinxed myself.) It’s a definite possibility that she came in on one of my days off, or even found another store that had lower prices or catered better to her needs, but chances are she’s still out there.

And it’s making me better at my job.

When the idea that my fear of her coming in to the store was making me more knowledgeable about the store’s products and services, I was reminded of The Princess Bride. As Westley and Buttercup are trudging through the Fire Swamp, he tells her about his experience working on a ship with the Dread Pirate Roberts. He mentions that every evening, Roberts would say to Westley that he would most likely kill him in the morning, but each day he found himself alive, so he would try to learn any fighting techniques anyone would teach him to try to defend against Roberts if he ever made good on his threats. Roberts never tried to kill Westley, but after three years of preparing for the worst, Westley was ready to take on anyone.

Yes, this has been a long-winded explanation of a simple concept, but I feel the illustration is necessary. Because I don’t want to be caught off guard when that lady finally comes in, I’ve been gathering all the information I can to prepare myself. Even if she never shows up, I’m now in better shape to do my job than ever.