Posts Tagged ‘essay’

Fondly: Shuffle.

September 4, 2010

fndlygrphc

 

How could I be expected to make any decisions about anything right now? Dinner? Bah. Weekend plans? Please. I couldn’t even decide what song I was in the mood to listen to.

Me.

The man with the constant soundtrack; the man with thousands upon thousands of songs from which to choose. It’s not as if I were too terribly hard to please. My tastes were fairly wide open, with only small glimmers of musical snobbery. Sure, I hated pop music and felt Radiohead was highly overrated, but for the most part I was as flexible as a Russian gymnast on muscle relaxers.

I was easy to please, but only when I knew what he wanted. Perhaps there were too many choices.

Outside the world was waiting with open arms and a dirty grin. The weather was as perfect as it would ever be in any season of any year of my life. It was sitcom perfect.

All I needed to do was find my song—my soundtrack. All I had to do was decide upon the single biggest influence of my day and all the corresponding moments would fall into place as a result.

So why couldn’t I?

What did I want? A trip down memory lane, revisiting those anthems of my indestructible youth? Something new and unfamiliar that I’d never heard before? Did I want something that reflected how I felt, or how I wanted to feel?

How did I feel, anyway?

I wasn’t always this indecisive. Or was I?

I looked out the kitchen window, as a soft cloud rolled by.

Outside I could hear the sound of lawnmowers and barking dogs, children playing and birds singing. Outside I heard the future.

“Perhaps,” I thought, “it wasn’t a choice I should even be making.”

Perhaps, it was time to let fate step in and figure things out for me, by way of modern technology and their attempt to control chaos.

Perhaps, I should just sit back and let the universe decide for me.

 


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Fondly: Lightning, Bourbon and Neko Case.

July 24, 2010

fndlygrphc

I sat on the back porch and watched the lightning strobe behind clouds off in the distance. It was silent, save for the sad crooning of Neko Case floating out through the kitchen door. Yes, I was indeed air conditioning the neighborhood. I could, in fact, feel the occasional waft of cool air pulse out with the music, as if someone had opened the freezer as I walked past.

I took a drink, lit a cigarette and looked around. The lightning was everywhere—it surrounded me, illuminating the clouds for a brief moment before fading out. I had never seen this much lightning over the city.

There was no thunder.

No breeze picking up—just lightning, bourbon and Neko Case. I was supposed to be on my way to my favorite bar, where everybody knew my name, and all my friends would be drinking, smoking and having a ball. I was already dressed for it, but there was no hurry. I took a drink and wondered if this was heat lightning.

I looked to his right, where my dog lay. I gave him a scritch behind the ear and shared a moment of contentment.

When I was younger, I once sat silently in a parking lot with my best friends in the world, watching heat lightning explode over a cornfield in Iowa. There was neither wind nor thunder then either.

The heavens never cried—they merely shined.

All around me, the lightning pulsed through the sky like electric veins.

Then, in the distance, thunder rolled low and heavy like a bowling ball headed for a strike as the wind began to pick up.

Rain would follow soon.

 

Fondly: Bedtime

June 2, 2010

fndlygrphc

I sat quietly in darkened room, watching the occasional headlights cut through the blinds, racing across the wall. Beneath the crack of the door, I saw the lights go out, one at a time, my heart sinking with each new patch of infringing darkness. I would soon be the only one left—no one to watch over me. As the last shard of light extinguished and the paternal thud and click of a door closed tight, I began to cry.

I was alone; no one to hold me, no one to protect me from the shadows.

Someday I’d crave that feeling, but at that moment, five-year-old me simply cried.

Coltrane & Houdini

May 17, 2009

Coltrane & Houdini: the Wonder and Oddity of Watching the Rain

It’s more a fun exercise in fonts and layout than anything poignant…

I had to rotate this to fit here, so it should sufficiently hurt your neck trying to read it…

(insert maniacal laughter…here)

coltrane&houdini

Like a Mime in a Shouting Match

January 29, 2008

All the way to work, all I could think about was how much I wanted to honk my horn at all the bastards and dumb-asses in front of me, but that’s no longer an option.

A week or two ago I had a Little Miss Sunshine moment as I pulled onto the highway for my morning commute. That particular day Highway 40, one of the most used highways and the primary link from city to county, officially closed after a year’s worth of hype. For the weeks leading up to the great highway shut-down, all we heard about day or night on the news and in the papers was the same useless information, regurgitated again and again. It was as if nothing else happened those weeks. Apparently there was no crime, nor death the week before the shut-down; no heart warming tales of local soldiers returning home from King George’s Crusade and nothing of a political nature was hopping.

There’s only so many ways they can eloquently tell us we’re fucked.

The first morning commute after our life line was cut was full of anxiety, everyone was hypersensitive and afraid. It’s as if the sky were falling and the end was nigh. I left an hour earlier than normal. Groggy and unaffected by the world around me, I set out for the comfort of my little fabric-lined den of despair and the not-so-fresh office air. As I merged into the crawling highway traffic on my new route, I had that “Little Miss Sunshine” moment, and officially developed a case of the Mondays.

No sooner had I landed in the drudging lanes of my new commute, when out of nowhere my horn let out a long, angry wail.

Unlike in the VW bus driven in the heartwarming indie-movie, my horn didn’t sound sick and dying—there was nothing sporadic about it. It was one sustained, sport-utility vehicle-loud wail.

Everyone around me thought I was crazy and/or full of road rage.

I suffered the dirty looks and defensive finger-gestures of the world around me for two highways and a long drive down Page Avenue before getting to work and googling my truck’s schematics. It was like disarming a bomb. The fuse box was hidden in the most awkward of places forcing me to lay down, half-in/half-out of my car, still honking, in the cold dark parking lot of my office as my coworkers pulled in one after another. I spent the whole day explaining my reasons for the wailing noise and physical comedy, each coworker pointing out the same similarity to the aforementioned movie, each coworker tickled with their observation.

So I pulled the fuse, and as a result, I’m hornless. I simply don’t feel like spending the money to get the repairs, as the problem is most likely electrical and expensive.

There was a time when I enjoyed driving. When points A and B were irrelevant, and getting there wasn’t half the fun—it was all the fun.

That of course was before some random stranger set my garage (and fun, sporty convertible) on fire, burning it to the ground, leaving me to road rage and my Little Miss Sunshine moment.

Now, allow me a moment to celebrate my inner-hoosier (that would be a redneck to all you non-St. Louisans) with a quote from seminal hair-band of the 1980’s, Cinderella:

Don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”.

Cut me some slack, I grew up in a part of town called North County, or as I like to refer to it, NFC. (that’s north fucking county) A large portion of the population still drive Camaros—a lot of the men still keep a comb in their back pocket for the perfect feathered bang, wear hockey jerseys to semi-formal events and carry a wallet with a velcro enclosure—hell, NFC invented monster trucks, as evidenced by the gigantic Big Foot towering over the highway entrance, so quoting Cinderella is not ironic comedy so much as a sad part of my soul I can never escape.

But I’m digressing again.

“Don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Truer words couldn’t be spoken (or screamed by a sexually ambivalent rock star in spandex)

Our city is full of some of the worst drivers known to man, most of whom come from Illinois. People drive unaware and with their heads firmly planted deep within their posteriors. I don’t know if they’re confused, lost, afraid or experiencing a child-like wonderment at the pretty green light overhead—whatever the reason, they’re incapable of driving with purpose—I hate drivers without an agenda. 99.9% of my city’s drivers like to brake for right turns and green lights. City buses have no regard for the philosophy of proper lane usage, hellbent on running me into oncoming traffic. They drive 20 miles below the speed limit in the fast lane on the highway. The mobile population of St. Louis changes lanes in the middle of an intersection without a signal, oblivious to the car directly next to them, make left turns from the right lane and have a blatant disregard for yielding. They’re either driving at a snail’s pace or they’re trying to kill you. Sometimes they like to swerve between two lanes while: fumbling with their iPod, dialing their cellphone, eating a breakfast biscuit and applying make-up or shaving, depending on the gender—there’s no sexism here, men and women drive equally bad in St. Louis.

And they’re all in front of me.

The middle finger just isn’t cutting it. I’m like a mime in a shouting match.

 

My (re)Discovered Literacy…

January 29, 2008
mtchmid

I’d like to thank the Writer’s Guild of America for going on strike. Thanks for “halting the entertainment industry” in the name of more money. You deserve it, you work really hard and that additional $130 million offered by the big-wigs certainly wasn’t enough to compensate for the art that you create.

So yes, dear guilders, I’d like to thank you–

For no longer writing all of that mind-numbing crap I find myself sucked into far too often…Those horrible programs that allowed me to shut off my brain and rival a lobotomy recipient as I stared blankly into the abyss of poorly written sitcoms and one police drama too many. Thanks for no longer plaguing my soul with endless teen dramas that do nothing but celebrate the shallow, empty side of life, crushing any sort of values, morals or self-respect our youth might still have.

I’d also like to thank you for sparing me the golden globes, people’s choice and, fingers crossed, all the other remaining awards shows. Thank-you for saving me the lost hours that I would have spent watching celebrities stroke one another’s ego while purchasing their little gold statues in a leveraged buy-out of merit. I just might use those saved hours to do something useful, maybe learn a foreign language.

Now, I’m not the only one who’d like to thank you all for your diligence in your quest for 4¢ more in royalties for every DVD sold. I’m sure there are a few other people out there who’d like to thank you, too–folks like the various crew members, lighters, gaffers, make-up artists, caterers and thousands of others, all of whom have essentially been laid off by you and your strike. Maybe you’ll get their $342.8 million dollars worth of lost wages.

You want more money?

No shit.

Don’t we all? I was raised on the belief that if you want more money, you should find a better job. I’d be willing to bet my left eyebrow that there’s a half a million underemployed aspiring writers with twice the talent and half the connections who would jump at the chance to fill your shoes.

A lot of jobs suck way worse and pay a lot less, so quit your bitching.)

Most folks who work in the service industry are underpaid, you’re lucky they don’t unionize, too…otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get your half-caff, double-tall, non-fat vanilla latte on the way to the picket line.

Now, I feel for you, I really do. The world of media is ever-changing and you have to protect yourself and your, ahem, work; but isn’t that what agents are for? Isn’t that why they invented contracts?

Just remember that every episode of Ugly Betty or Gossip Girl you don’t write opens up another reality TV window. Do you really think the studio execs mind shifting over to the reality format, where the writers are seldom needed beyond the conception stage? You’re just saving them money. Lord knows the general populace will watch whatever is on, whether it’s something you lovingly crafted, celebrity fit club or a show featuring drying paint on a wall (I’d prefer the latter of the three)

But I digress…

like I said, I really want to thank you. Because of you and your little strike, I’m reading more books and listening to more music…I’m spending far less time tethered to my couch listening to my brain cells pop by virtue of yet another empty piece of garbage littering our world via satellite and in front of a studio audience. So thanks.

Now if we could just get the pop-stars to go on strike, we just might have a chance.

Hugs and French Kisses,
Marcus

ashtry

Tales from the Cubicles; My Life as a Corporate Whore

January 29, 2008

I am a corporate whore, it’s true.

It was an accident, I swear. It just kind of happened by default. Nobody says, “When I grow up I want to be a middle-management lackey trapped in a fabric-lined den of despair.”

No child aspires to a corporate casual lifestyle filled with team-spirit and ass kissing. I certainly didn’t. I never dreamt of sitting in a cubicle hunched over a computer writing bullet points for upscale luggage, while mumbling profanities under my breath.

When I was younger, I believed anything was possible with a little talent and a lot of dedication. I believed that ultimately the nice guy would win, and the higher ground would be rewarded. I believed honesty to be the best policy. These are all admirable qualities, a way of life we should all aspire to, but it won’t get you a job, nor help you ascend the corporate ladder.

I’m not a fan of buzz words and I can’t laugh at a joke that isn’t funny, just because the President of the company said it. Mine is a company full of false pride and fake cheer. Full of people whose life is their job. A world full of happy hours and softball leagues.

I mean, for the love of god. They do skits.

SKITS.

40 year old women from the customer service department mimicking a game show to teach us about the importance of productivity. They spend a half-hour conveying the importance of using our time wisely; a half-hour that could be spent working towards my unrealistic deadlines. Skits were barely relevant when I was 8 years old and spending my summer being eaten alive by mosquitos at the YMCA summer camp.

I’m not really throwing out the whole “woe is me” routine, it’s not really a bad racket. I can bitch all day long about the annoyances of false corporate cheer, but…

I did just take a week-long vacation spent sitting on a beach in mexico drinking frozen drinks that would bring my masculinity into question stateside, all while collecting a salary. I do have the option of seeing a doctor if I’m sick, a dentist when I have a tooth-ache and someday, a shrink when I finally go nuts.

The work I do neither saves the world nor damns it. We make luggage I can’t afford to purchase. I write about the wonderful features and benefits of having a 22-inch wheeled upright with a removable suitor. There’s no heavy lifting involved, and no animals were harmed. Sure, the luggage is probably made by 12 year old chinese kids working 16 hour days in a sweat shop, but that’s really far away, and they can’t blog, so I have no proof.

I never set out to be a corporate whore, but the service industry really, really sucks. coffee.jpg