Archive | March, 2010

My Existential Breakdown

10 Mar

I am sitting with my feet up on my desk. It’s Monday and I’m bored as all get out. I’m supposed to be writing a new blog, but I’ve had a hard time getting it together recently. Editor is getting increasingly agitated. Editor is only doing this for the money, so he’s constantly getting on my case about being more friendly for advertisers.

“Okay, okay. I will.”

“Seriously, please try to.”

“Yea, all right.”

“Kyle, I can’t stress how badly we need those advertisers.”

“Advertisers can suck on this,” I say, grabbing my ear.

Editor cocks his head back questioningly. “Did you mean to grab your crotch?”

I shrug as if to say it doesn’t really matter.

“Call some advertisers or write something,” Editor says then walks away.

Later that day, I agree to meet with some companies about advertising on my site. The first company is Motel 6.

Their representative is a tall, wiry male. He’s wearing dark, tight-fitting jeans, a leather jacket, and a beret. He enters the conference room with Editor following closely behind. I sit at the table with my head down. Entourage is playing on the conference room’s monitor. Editor quickly steps to the screen and turns it off. I lift my head for a moment, reach for the remote and turn it back on.

“I need to know if Turtle bangs that college chick that would never ever have sex with him in real-life.”

Editor smiles nervously and gestures toward the rep. “Kyle, this is the ad representative for Motel 6, Gary Stint. He’d like to talk to you about advertising on your site.”

I look up again. There’s a large red blotch along my forehead. A line of sweat has formed on the crest of my hairline and on my upper lip. I sat in the sun and then got too lazy to move. I’m extremely uncomfortable. “Do you watch Entourage?” I ask the ad rep.

“Um, no. I happen to think it’s a little silly.”

Silly?” I ask him. “This show is brilliant. It’s like Fantasy Island for douche bags.” I look deep into the rep’s eyes. He looks back at me.

“I don’t really see the redeeming quality in that,” he says.

“I don’t really see the redeeming quality in advertising a slightly above average motel on a comedy web site. I also don’t see the redeeming quality in that stupid hat you’re wearing.” I let my head fall back to the table’s cool surface.

Editor’s face turns tomato-red and every muscle in his back seems to tense. “He’s kidding. He’s eccentric. He’s a loose-cannon. It’s that artistic spirit.” Editor is trying desperately to perform damage control, but it’s too late. The ad rep turns and shoves Editor out of his way, muttering something under his breath about a “two-bit internet idiot.”

“At least I can buy pants that fit,” I say, more to myself than anyone else. I then take a giant swig from the flask that, until this point, had been resting in my crotch. Editor looks at me for a second or two, then runs out after the ad rep. His footsteps, loud at first, fall away until I once again hear only the television.

Turtle turns that girl down.

Look at this. This is Turtle:

Then look at this:

This is the girl Turtle turned down.

Fantasy Island.

Editor storms back into the conference room, throwing the door open and turning off the TV. I reach out for the remote again, but he knocks it away with such force that it flies from the table and onto the floor.

“Man,” I begin, exasperated. “You know there’s just tape covering that battery pl–”

“Shut up!” Editor yells. “Shut up! You’ve been really off recently and I want to know why. You’re putting your career at risk as well as mine! Now, tell me. What’s wrong?”

My head is now rested on my outstretched arm. “I just feel…” I pause, sliding the flask back and forth across the table. “I just feel like we’re not doing anything.”

“Not doing anything?”

“I mean, do I work in an office building or am I a tutor at a high school? Which one? I seem to have both jobs at the same time. Which one is the real me? You know how hard it is to go through my day with those kids without saying words like ‘doodie mouth’ or ‘ass-monster’? Do you have any idea how often I’m tempted by outright violence?” Editor pauses to think about this. “And I’ve done so many things. I’ve died, even–but really, I’m exactly the same in here.” I point to my wiener. Editor leans across the table and lifts my hand to the level of my heart. I nod in appreciation. Sometimes I get mixed up.

“When did you start feeling this way?” Editor asks, concerned.

“After the space adventure. I mean–I went to space. I saw parts of the universe that only a handful of humans in all of Earth’s history have seen. I want–I want things like that to affect me, you know? To make me better. I think that this whole time, I’m just viewing the world from this preset, immovable view. I think I’m connected, but I’m not, and that’s what makes it so damn dangerous. Since I think I’m already in it, I never try to go any further.”

Tears have begun to well up in Editor’s eyes. “So what do you want to do, Kyle?”

Like Editor, small pools have crept into the base of my vision. “Editor, I’ll tell you what I want to do.”

“Yes?”

I take a deep breath. “Two chicks. Two chicks–simultaneously. And I don’t want to know their names.”

Editor stands up straight. His face falls flat. “What?”

“Two women. Two mysterious, faceless women.” I begin to weep in a small, celebratory way–weeping like a man who has found that the oncoming destroyer of his country has fled. “Just like–right here.” I spread my arms out over two invisible women and begin to thrust wildly in a way that would most likely bring about no kind of sexual pleasure whatsoever.

Editor turns and leaves. I wave to him and turn the TV back on.

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Advice from My Father

7 Mar

My father is a smart man.

He was raised in a time before cell phones, the internet, mp3’s, and fire. He doesn’t have a facebook and doesn’t text. His cell phone has a rotary dial.

It was a simpler philosophy that ruled my father’s generation–a philosophy that had so much less gray area–so much less relativism. It’s this fact that so often leads me to seek his advice.

I’ve been having a bit of an existential crisis since I graduated. For some reason, employers just cannot find a way to give one tiny rat shit about how much Fitzgerald I’ve read. Working your ass off for four years to receive a certificate that carries the same worth as roughly six months of work experience at McDonald’s is pretty defeating.

But we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, don’t we? We lower our shoulders and keep going–at least that’s what dad tells me.

I walk into the kitchen. It’s roughly 6:30pm. My father is doing the dishes.

“Hey dad.”

“Hey, son,” my dad responds, sliding back the bottom rack of the dishwasher and setting them to wash. “What can I do for ya?”

“Dad, I’m having problems.”

My dad grimaces a little bit and begins to call for my mother.

“Dad, come on.”

He sighs a bit and turns to me. “All right. What’s the problem?”

“I think I’m in a rut,” I say. “I just feel kind of lost.” In spite of my melancholy, I have to almost physically force myself to not make a LOST joke here.

“Lost? In what way?” He asks.

In a mysterious island kind of way, I think to myself. “I mean, What am I doing? I just feel like I’m counting down the days until–”

“–Until you die?” My dad interjects.

“What?! No!”

“That’s what I do.”

“Really?!”

My dad shrugs.

“Well, have you ever felt like this? Like you don’t have any direction?” I ask.

“Son, when I was a young man, I owned a 1978 Camaro. Beautiful car. Electric blue with a big white racing stripe going up the hood. Well, one day, I was driving home from work in it, and as I pulled up to the intersection of Brown and 43rd, I looked to the car on my left, and in an old Lincoln, I saw your mother.

“She was the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. So, I revved my engine, tore off the line, and smoked her ass.”

“Wait, what?”

“Lincoln never had a chance.”

I stare at my dad for a few seconds. A clock can be heard ticking in the background. My dad just smiles wistfully and gazes into the distance, glassy-eyed.

“What does that have to do with a lack of direction?” I ask. My question seems to startle my dad a bit.

“Direction? Oh, oh yes. Well, when I was telling a friend about it later, describing your mom and the car she drove, he told me he knew who this ‘mystery girl’ was. I told him I thought she was pretty good lookin’ and he agreed to set us up.”

“So your friend gave you direction?”

“No, no. See, how could I have ever predicted that not only would I run into that beautiful woman at that intersection, but that my friend would know her, and that this random incident would lead me to my wife and kids? I had no idea. So when you start to feel stressed because you don’t know what’s going to happen five years from now, relax–because you’ll never really know. All you can do is make estimates. Just keep doing. You’ll be all right.”

I reach for a high five, but my dad just looks at my hand and walks away. “Unload the dishwasher,” he says.

New Fiction Post

3 Mar

There’s a new fiction post, Heaven, on my original fiction site. It’s about the length of a blog, so don’t be intimidated.

Fortune Cookies

1 Mar

I need money. I need need need money. I need money because whiskey and tight white t-shirts aren’t free.

I have a part time job as a tutor at a local high school, but I still find my bank account lacking every month. To remedy this, I got a second job.

I didn’t want just any job, though. I didn’t want to flip burgers or bag groceries–I wanted to use my unique skill set. I wanted to write.

I got a job writing the fortunes in fortune cookies.

The offices of Quin Tan’s Fortune Cookies is in a small office park in North Dallas. My job interview went very smoothly.

“Can you read English?” the salty Asian gentleman asked me.

“Why yes, it’s one of my f–”

“–Can you use a keyboard?”

“Yes, I can.”

“You have the job. Be here tomorrow at 8 am.”

He begins flipping through some documents on his desk, ignoring me completely. I stand up slowly and, with great care, hand him my resumé along with a twenty-three page writing sample; both he quietly slides off his desk and into an adjacent waste basket. I clear my throat, consider getting my resumé and writing sample out of the trash, then turn away and leave, afraid that digging in another man’s garbage would be some big cultural insult to the interviewer–he was Asian, remember, and for whatever reason, I have a penchant for offending people from the Orient.

On my first day, I pull into the staff parking lot and walk to the building.

“Hello, building!” I yell, waving with child-like excitement. The building didn’t say anything back. It was busy not collapsing.

From the lobby, I’m directed to a small cubicle in a bull-pen of writers. The sound of thousands of keys being pressed sounds like rain on rooftops.

“Here is your station,” the attendant tells me. “When you write ten or fifteen fortunes, e-mail them to the editing department. We’ll let you know if there are any problems.”

Below are my first submissions.

  • Can you handle a gun? If not, try to learn–fast.
  • You are well-liked, but people are starting to think you’re gay. Maybe stop smiling so much.
  • Want a sandwich? Buy a sandwich.
  • A storm’s coming. A terrible storm. Ah, I’m just kidding. Everything’s fine. Go put some shorts on.
  • You should probably start stocking up on canned goods and bottled water.
  • Be wary of foreigners. They love to make fun of you behind the safety of their native tongue.
  • You should probably start saying goodbye to mom.
  • Life will look up for you when you discover the wonders of putting melted cheese on practically every meal.
  • Wine is fine, and liquor is quicker, but heroin is the quickest.
  • Cocaine is cheap and makes you feel like Al Pacino.
  • Hookers are cheap and make you feel like a NBA superstar.
  • You will finish the final season of LOST. SPOILER: It ends with a shot of the writers in a poorly-lit room masturbating to someone reading their work back to them.
  • What do you know about heart failure?

I click “send” on the e-mail and get started on my next batch of fortunes. Before I finish, however, a small scream is heard from the editing department’s small office at the north east end of the bull pen.

“Mr. Irion!” Beatrice Jackson, head of editing, calls as she approaches my desk. She’s not very cute. That’s why it’s hard for me to tolerate all her yelling.

“Yes ma’am?” I ask.

“You can’t advise people to used narcotics. You can’t tell people that their mothers are dying. That LOST fortune is about 300 characters too long, and what kind of fortune is ‘Want a sandwich? Buy a sandwich’?”

“A good fortune. Do you want a sandwich?” I ask.

“Well,” her tone drops for a moment. “I suppose I could–”

“Buy a sandwich.” I say, leaning back in my seat, hands folded across my waste. “Feel better?”

“Hm.” Beatrice seems taken aback. “Well, I guess that one can stay, but you have to cut the others. We need some replacements. Get started, please.”

Here’s my second round.

  • Duck!
  • There’s a man behind you. It’s me.
  • You’ve been working very hard. Reward yourself with another fortune cookie.
  • You’ve forgotten something terribly, terribly important.
  • Grandpa wants me to tell you to stop praying for him. It’s too late. He’s in Hell.
  • Did you turn the oven off?
  • Don’t stress so much this year. You don’t have many more left.
  • Seat belts don’t protect you from driving into a light pole, so don’t even bother with ’em.

I once again click “send” and wait for my Pulitzer. I’m really loving this job. I turn to the guy behind me, striking up a loose, light-hearted conversation. A few moments later, I hear the voice of Beatrice in the distance.

“NO!” she screams. “No, no, no!” All of a sudden, she’s back at my desk. It’s kind of like how Davy Jones magically teleports onto the Black Pearl to mess with Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.

“Have you ever seen Pirates of the Caribbean?” I ask Beatrice.

“What? No–yes. That doesn’t matter. Kyle, you can’t write like this. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave. You’re fired.

“What?! I gave you gold!”

“You gave me trash.”

“Fine, but I have one more fortune for you, lady.” I type one more fortune on my computer and send it to editing. “I’m out.”

I gather my things, put on my coat and walk out. I make a brief stop in the break room to get my lunch, then I pass through the building’s exit and go home.

Beatrice returns to the editing station and is greeted by my final fortune:

  • I poured an entire jar of mayonnaise out in the break room refrigerator.
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