Category Archives: Three minute read

“Spit in My Mouth and I’ll Tell You”

Try me. Just try me.

So I’m at a party, in line for the bathroom or staring out the window wondering what it would be like to be free and somehow I get talking to a stranger. We exchange pleasantries, place our palms together and grip firmly, and then as the banter inevitably dies down and we’re breathing out the tail end of our last haha, one of us reaches for the easiest conversation topic possible:

So…what do you do?

The “do” question is innocent, merely an attempt to understand the other person better, or maybe even form a connection, “Oh you do that? I do that too! Do you know her? I know her too! Wasn’t that one thing crazy!?” And so on and so forth.

But the question can be problematic. What if, for example, I currently spend most of my time making money doing something I hate? Should I put this forward as the best summary of my person, that I’m someone willing to subject themselves to mental torture day in and day out for a couple of bucks?

What if I’m unemployed, but doing everything from hiking the Sierra Nevada to creating a large-scale bronze sculpture Gumby, to compulsively poking people on facebook?

Or what if the things I do to make money are unrelated to how I define myself? What if they’re only a way to make money? What if, in theory, I make money by babysitting and working at a restaurant, but what I really want to do is write and be an incredibly successful author read and loved by the masses? What should my response be to the “what do you do?” question? I can’t tell the truth because the other person will have no idea what to do with me and try to leave and I’ll be forced to follow them. But if I say I’m a writer, I open up a whole other can of worms.

The first thing they ask is: what do you write?

I’ve been asked this God knows how many times and I still don’t have a good answer. My shortest response time is slightly over a minute. Somewhere, an Olympian just ran a quarter of a mile and I’m still fumbling around trying to explain what I write. I end up blabbing about the blog and humor writing and exploring different writing styles and it’s very boring for the other person and just plain stressful for me because then I’m like, “Oh my God. Am I even a writer? What are all those words I typed out yesterday? Why didn’t they fit into something I could describe to this guy without sounding like someone who might steal his wallet when he leans over to look at the event brochure on the coffee table?

So the next time someone asks me what I do, I’m going to assume they mean, “What would you do if you could do anything?” and I’m going to tell them I’m a writer, and then when they ask me what kind of writer I am, I’m going to ask them to spit in my mouth.

What, they’ll say.

Yeah, just go ahead and spit in my mouth and I’ll tell you what I write.

They won’t do it, I won’t have to figure out and then tell them what I write, and we’ll both leave the party with interesting stories. Win win.

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I Want to Have a Wedding but I Don’t Want to Get Married

You get to eat gobloads of dessert.

Roughly 11 days, six hours, fifteen minutes, and thirty three seconds ago, my sister was wed to the love of her life in an outdoor ceremony somewhere in the Oklahoman woods. Afterwards, the wedding guests successfully dined and danced, with minimal injuries and no deaths.

All in all, it was a wedding that will be hard for us siblings to beat in the future. Because like most things in life, this is a competition. You may have laid down the gauntlet, sister, but I’m hot on your trail.

I was standing about a foot to the left of the bride and groom during the ceremony, my bouquet at belly button level, my eyes trained on the happy husby and wifey to be, my heart pounding in time with theirs. From my front row position, it was such a joy to watch the happiness creep into the pits of the audience and dot their foreheads with glisten. When the kiss came, we cheered our well-wishings and rushed away as fast as possible, seeking out pockets of moving air and shade.

The eating of BBQ and various desserts was followed by two speeches (one given by me) and the breaking out of various grooves as the sun set behind the capital building and glow sticks illumined the night air, old fogeys watching from their tables in disbelief as the hip young things made fools of themselves.

Soon it was time to send the couple off. At the height of the gyration-induced ecstasy, a whisper went through the crowd that it was time to gather, and bring the glow sticks. We lined the pathway to the getaway car—a golden buick, a chariot most fitting– and we flapped and woo-ed and shouted them into the car and watched them drive away.

That’s when clean up began. The lights came on, food went into boxes, pre-trash became real trash, bottles were collected, and the magic was systematically stored and re-located to vehicles.

At that moment, something very important occurred to me. I realized that, if done correctly, my wedding day will be the best party of my life. It has all the elements of an incredible event from the outset: copious amounts of gifts, friends (and family) from all over the country, tasty treats, everyone’s favorite songs, and a reason to dance.

But in addition to all that, there are tons of bridal benefits that are simply not found in other parties.

The bride gets told she’s beautiful all day long. She could be wearing a sailboat covered snuggie and eating peanut butter with her hands straight out of a jar and people would still constantly swoon over her. Brides also are the guilt-free center of attention for the entire day, which is pretty much my dream come true.

I’ve also found that guests at weddings are unlike guests at other events. They’re more likely to be optimistic about everyone’s future and say what sound like meaningful things. The word love is thrown around more than a roll of toilet paper on a diarrhea-fraught camping trip. But, most importantly, the bride does not have to help clean up. In the middle of her dancing euphoria, she gets to leave with her lover while everyone else has to stay behind and put on rubber gloves.

If this isn’t the perfect party, I don’t know what is.

So the production of my sister’s wedding ended with me marveling at the bliss of her love and wondering how I could have a wedding without getting married. Any and all suggestions are accepted, as well as gifts and other tokens of appreciation/attention.

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A Harrowing Trip through my Thought Process. Bring Your Galoshes.

This would have been the picture for the coffee post, even though it’s not completely relevant.

It’s 10:30 am and it’s time to blog. I’m running some raw ideas through the meat grinder of my brain.

My sister’s wedding is tomorrow, but I don’t want to blog about that because I’ve been talking about it constantly and I’m sure people are wondering if it’s even real. (It’s happening tomorrow, by the way.)

So I trashed wedding topics, and moved on and tried to think creatively. When I try to be “creative,” I tend to look around my room for inspiration, which often leads me to killer ideas such as “what if my clothes came alive and tried to kill me” or “what if my lotion came alive and tried to kill me” or “what if my bed came alive and tried to kill me.” You see, I mean killer in the literal sense of the word, not in the sense that any of these ideas are good. Room-based inspiration does not often work for me.

I discarded those killer ideas and transitioned to sweat-based ones as I considered blogging about the wedding guests’ sweat potential. The extreme heat at this outdoor wedding, the high amount of social interactions, the excitement, and the nervousness will create the mother of all perspiration-inducing cocktails. It’s going to be a moist one. But then I considered that not only is this pretty gross, but it’s also about the wedding, which I didn’t want to write about.

After I tossed that idea out, I looked to my right and saw my coffee mug, which appeared to be empty. I picked it up and found a different situation entirely. There were a few mouthfuls of lukewarm joe left, and I was a little happy about that, so I considered writing an overblown piece on how incredible and amazing and wonderful it is when there’s coffee left over in the mug that you didn’t know about. But then I thought, well I wasn’t that happy about it. This might be a little hard to do. So I didn’t do it.

I moved on to consider blogging about how I’ve been following a lot of people on twitter lately. But if you just read that last sentence, you know as well as I do that my twitter antics are likely a dead end. So I buried that one too.

At this point, I have roughly 5-15 bad ideas buried in little idea coffins in my idea graveyard, a place I visit regularly. Some of these little guys even become zombies and try to eat my brains and make it impossible for me to think of other ideas, or become ghosts that haunt me continually with false potential.

Just when I was about to despair, I stumbled upon the idea of writing about how to unleash my creative potential, which in my mind was literally about unleashing some kind of monster named “Creative Potential.” Seconds later, I realized that this very literal interpretation of creative potential and the word unleash is not actually creative. So I hung up my hat, downed a cold brew, sighed a great sigh, yearned for more in life, and then published my thought process for all to see.

You’re not alone if a good idea escapes you. Don’t be jealous of the people that do have awesome ideas, because that could be you someday.

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Did You Hear? Them Right Wing Politics Is Crazy.

The mustache says “I’m reasonable.” Everything else says he isn’t.

When I came back from Egypt to Oklahoma and American politics, I was disappointed to find similar political currents in the two countries.

Just like advocates of the Muslim Brotherhood, there are some people in the states who would love to see the ascendance of religion in government. And I’m not talking about Muslim extremists plotting a White House takeover.

Rather, I’m talking about a bunch of rather special conservatives who are doing their darndest to take American politics back a few hundred years.

Take Paul Blair, for example. This is a man from Edmond, OK, a pastor at a local church, who has decided that he wants to run for Senate in order to keep the government from getting any bigger (or better), and defend “traditional, Biblical values and our constitution.”

His biggest selling points are his mustache and his exclusively conservative voting record, if that tells you anything about the environment here. And despite how much I attempt to ignore politics, I have heard about this man and seen his ridiculous mustachioed political advertising, which means he has a crap ton of money to campaign with. Plumber Joe, don’t believe Blair when he says he’s just like you.

One of the things that pisses me off the most about Mr. Paul Blair’s campaign is his logo, which is really dumb. Take a look at it here. It’s an American flag topped with a tiny cross.

I’m sure what Blair meant to convey with this truly horrendous act of campaignage was that he’s going to haul his Christian morals to Capital Hill so they remain in our government where they belong.

What I understand from the flag/cross hybrid is quite different. I understand that Mr. Blair either knows very little about American history and government or is willing to bait voters with dangerous religious rhetoric. I understand that Blair does not respect the division between church and state and would prefer the two again become one. In this way, we can re-create ourselves in the image of great nations like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Egypt, where religion is an integral part of state identity.

I understand that just like supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Blair believes that the government should have a central role in regulating morality, especially through legislation based on a holy document.

Between me and Blair, I believe I am the only one that has lived in an extremely conservative society with a poorly functioning government. (Just to clarify, I’m talking about Egypt here.) There were aspects of Egypt that I liked, but for the most part, I don’t want to see America becoming like it politically in any way, shape, or form. Pluralistic societies are awesome.

So, Mr. Blair, please put down your American cross bayonet before you march into office and start any more ridiculous wars or legislation, and think about the fact that many Christians would be disgusted to see you using a symbol of their religion in order to promote your campaign. While you’re at it, consider how scary it is for many people to see that you are a “Patriot Pastor,” part of an organization called “Reclaiming America for Christ.” Yikes.

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What I Learned from My Painfully Bad Interview

Should you hire this woman?

One fake motto, several awkward silences, and numerous failed attempts at jokes later, I have finished my first phone interview of this job-hunting season. Note: the professional shirt I was wearing did not prevent me from sounding like an ass.

The greeting was great. We both introduced ourselves and had friendly words. I was flying high when he asked me, “So what do you know about our company?” I was prepared for this question. I had spent the last twenty four hours digging into the recesses of their website and stalking individual members of their team. Unfortunately, the company is one of those weird hi-tech startups that uses phrases like “infrastructure API” and “Cloud IVR.”

In short, I struggled to explain to the man what his own company did. Instead, I said I liked it because I felt like “their company searches for a tree even though it doesn’t know what a tree looks like, but it finds something to fill the tree-shaped hole, if that makes any sense?” It didn’t. I was trying to say that their company was innovative but ended up swallowing most of the toes on my left foot. The awkward silence after this mangled corpse of a metaphor said it all.

Things looked up when he asked me about myself. This is one of my favorite subjects. I talked about International Relations, Egypt, blogging and meeting people and talking to them, and it all sounded really good until he asked if I read any blogs daily.

I threw out a few and joked that I read my own blog. No laughs. Note: do not mention that you daily read your own blog. You will sound like an ass. I also said that I read Mashable occasionally to catch up on “the stuff.” It was supposed to be a joke, but I’m sure I came off like “an idiot.” It’s also not true, unless you count looking at tweets as reading Mashable’s articles.

He inquired if I was familiar with the start up industry in San Francisco or using technological terms. The short answer is no but the long answer is “my motto is that if I don’t know it today, I can learn it by tomorrow,” a motto I made up on the spot and also one that sucks.

When he asked if I was involved in any weekly meet ups, I said that I spend a lot of time with my family right now because I don’t have a big community in Oklahoma. What he heard: I live under a rock and my best friends are my own leg hairs.

Finally it was time for me to ask questions, and I gave him all I had. I wanted to know everything and prolong the conversation as long as possible, which is why I asked if his company was “more of a get in and get out kind of operation or if people are in for the long haul.” Note: asking this question will make you look like an ass. People are always in for the long haul. I should have asked what the turnover rate was, or better yet, just let the conversation end.

It was a start to a wonderful interviewing career and in the end, a great piece of blog fodder.

Here are my takeaway points:

1. Don’t use complicated metaphors that involve trees and make zero sense.

2. No fake mottos.

3. Have a 2 minute or shorter summary of the company and why you like them.

4. Save jokes for the break room.

Now get out there and good luck!

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