Work/Career

What are you doing this weekend?

I hate Friday. Friday is when people ask you questions to which they don’t want answers. “Got any plans for the weekend?” They don’t give a shit.

This is, of course, not an original observation. But, sometimes we forget the important things about life, like why Fridays are shit.

We forget that when anyone asks us on a Friday for our next 48-hour itinerary, they don’t give a fuck. They’re just waiting for you to finish, so it won’t seem like bragging when they brag about going  to Cirque Du Soleil, or their grandmother’s 100th birthday party, or some other stupid shit.

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It’s annoying to answer that question, so my suggestion is a life-hack. And it’s free. When someone  corners you at the cooler, in the kitchen, in the middle of taking a shit and you’re like, “aw, fuck, it’s Friday”, YOU ASK THEM FIRST. Then, as they start going on about how their grandmother is turning 100, just walk away.

I tell you it works for me. Even after I lost my job, nobody has ever asked me what my weekend plans are. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m in business for myself now, and I work alone, in my home-office, and I haven’t had plans for the weekend since 1998. These days, an exciting weekend for me is “Liking” other people’s weekend plans as they get posted on Facebook.

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It’s fun, low-risk, weekend activity. Today, in fact, several members of my family are tentatively planning to get together. And it all happened in the comments of a Facebook post. I totally Liked that. And I would probably think of going for a few minutes if I lived in their city, and we were still on speaking terms. In any event, we can all learn something from me. You don’t have to have plans to enjoy your weekend. And you don’t have to work in an office to hate people. That’s what Facebook is for.

 

 

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Fact: Aspiration equals bifurcation

Freelancers often have extra time on their hands waiting for the next gig.

I spend my hiatuses thinking up facile little sayings that will be short enough for even my readers to memorize, and tailored to suit their vapid sensibilities.

These things just kind of flow through my brain. I don’t even know what any of them mean.

Like when I was taking a dump this morning, I came up with “aspiration equals bifurcation.”

I have no clue what that means. I was just passing the time. And a turd.

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Am I crazy or is there really a nugget of wisdom here.

Yes, and before I flush, I’d like to share with you my Business Learnings on the matter.

This one is quite obvious and simple.

If you’re not doing what you love for a living, and you’re not loving what you do for a living, but you want to do what you love for a living, you have to do what you do for a loving after you do what you do for a living, until such time as you can make doing what you love to love to do what you also love to do for a living.

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If what I’m saying rings a bell, then you don’t need me to tell you that you’re in for a lot of hard work.

It’s going to be two full-time careers for a while, most likely until you’re dead.

A lot of entrepreneurs simply start out by putting in 18 hour days for months straight, just to get their startup off the ground.

That means it’s hard, but it can be done.

So don’t fret. When you are ready to swing from your occupational vine to the vine of your true calling, you can count on me for a tortured metaphor.

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What’s true for the business entrepreneur is true for the ambitious creative type.

Let’s say your day-job is ventriloquist dummy busker. Sure, it pays the rent, which because you live in a cardboard box means you have plenty of money for booze.

But when you tuck yourself in at night, you feel like something’s missing. No, your flask isn’t empty.

It’s the hollow feeling you get because you’ve always dreamed of being a famous mime.

Your real job begins at five o’clock. You rehearse all night, and you hone your performance on the open mime circuit, where you network with other mimes, but without ever saying a word

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That’s just an example. Frankly, I would love to see an open mime night, if it literally meant gutting mimes at the end of their bit.

It would have the added benefit of discouraging other people from becoming mimes. But if they still wanted to do the open mime night, and they don’t mind dying by evisceration, who are we to say no?

The real eye opener in this Business Learnings is why I would even bother making a joke about mimes.

When does anyone actually see a mime in Auckland? Except when Cirque du Soleil is in town, but that doesn’t count because they’re a bunch of pretentious Euro-twats.

But the bottom line remains the same. “Aspiration equals bifurcation” makes a lot of sense.

So, I haven’t completely lost my mind, is what I’m telling you.

Pep for a dry spell

A contractor’s life takes so many sharp turns and spins, it makes you want to vomit on your computer.

But you stop yourself because you remember it will be hours before Jacquie comes home from work to clean up the mess.

You swallow your apprehension, along with some partially digested Weet-Bix, and you take your new freelance life one day at a time.

What other choice do you have?

Take a look in the mirror. What do you see?

A consummately unemployable wreck of an early middle-aged proto-carcass with awkward teeth and smallish man-boobs?

It should be. That’s what you are, my friend.

You are no doubt flinching in disgust. We all are.

But it’s just us talking, making candid assessments of ourselves. (Thus the mirror imagery).

So swallow your pride, along with some twice-digested Weet-Bix, and face the facts.

You’re a freelancer because nobody will tolerate working in the same building with you.

Fair enough. They have their own Weet-Bix to digest, a process that could only be hindered by your physical presence.

Plus, everyone knows you wear Birkenstocks.

Your career, you see, is exactly where it needs to be. At home, with the blinds shut, handcuffed to the bathroom radiator except for two 15 minute breaks for breakfast and lunch.

Look at yourself in the mirror again.

But this time, with as much dignity as you can muster, gaze into your own eyes and shout:

“I am a leper.”

Now let’s connect the two metaphoric images central to this post.

As I’ve so ingeniously demonstrated, the contractor’s life is a curvy, bumpy, quaggy slog.

When you’re working, the stretches are sometimes smooth, sometimes tough to navigate.

But when there isn’t any new work coming in, you’re spinning your wheels in a rut, doing nada but make the mud fly.

You shut off your engine. You shake your head, and you catch yourself in the side view mirror.

Then you look at yourself, and smile with pride, as you scream:

“I am a leper. And my car is stuck in the mud. Can someone please help? You wouldn’t have to come in direct with my hideous putrefaction. Just call the automobile club. I’d do it myself, but I’m afraid to lose what’s left of my last finger-stump. You know, because I’m a leper.”

There. Was that so hard? Even if it was, it’s better if you come to terms with your present, grim circumstances.

Because now you can look at the bright side.

You’ll be tempted to feel sorry for yourself. Work has slowed down, you’re unemployable, and frankly, when I see you coming toward me on the street, I duck into a nearby shop to hide.

Only then do I realize that I’m in Auckland, and the nearest shop is a 27 minute bus ride away. So, I’m fucked, because you’ve already seen me and hooked me into this stupid conversation.

You’re “sad because the work isn’t as predictable and safe as you’d like, despite getting some pretty interesting assignments that you’d never have gotten before had you not become a freelance writer?”

Which is what I’m saying out loud as I type this, in a mock baby voice.

In other words, you know what your problem is, you big baby?

You see your situation as a glass half-empty.

That could be a good thing if the glass is half-full of arsenic-laced Diet Coke.

Or just Diet Coke.

But for the purposes of this metaphor, let’s say the liquid in question is water. Mmm. You like water, right? Everyone loves water.

Are you seriously going to tell me that you won’t drink up that water because you think the glass is half empty, knowing all too well that the glass is half full (and not with a poisonous substance, at least not beyond human tolerance, you know this to be true)?

If that’s really how you feel, you need a spanking.

And I can’t wait to give you one.

Figuratively, I think.

Maybe your problem comes from you not looking hard enough in the mirror.

When I look at you looking at yourself in the mirror, I see a person who is completely self-absorbed.

Why are you still looking at yourself the mirror? That bit is dead. Deader than dead. Was probably stillborn. But in any case. Dead.

If you tried looking on the bright side for a change, instead of in the mirror like you always do, you’d see you’re not in a quagmire. You’re on an adventure.

Uncertainty is an acceptable price to pay for the relative freedom, and variety, that comprises the contractor’s work life.

To enjoy being what you do for a living isn’t enough to keep your business afloat, however.

This might be a drag to you, but you are running a business. A business called Me, Myself and I, for which there is no such thing as down time.

There are always plenty of things to do when you’re not working on a money-making project.

It can be bookkeeping, marketing efforts, picking out an ergonomic chair, getting into a dispute with a call center employee because they no longer sell the ergonomic chair you want in puce, and so much more.

In my downtime, I like to demonstrate my superior writing capability and lord its brilliance over my trembling readers.

That’s one of the reasons I keep this blog, obviously: to demonstrate to potential business partners that I’m the best source of the best creative shit to ooze out of a person’s brains ever.

You know what I mean?

So, for instance, today I wrote this poem, which I call Introductory Rates for First-time Clients:

I am a leper.

My car is stuck in the mud.

Can you help me?

Will you help a struggling leper?

I can help you.

I have metaphors, such as my career is like a car stuck in the mud, and when I look at myself, I see a self-absorbed person looking back, but with much of his face missing.

I am a leper.

My car is stuck in the mud.

Wink.

I’m on an adventure!

Will you help me help you?

Now you are saying yes.

Now I am locking my car and I am coming to you with an invoice, already.

Now you are pointing to my shoe, which I left stuck in the mud behind me

with my foot still inside

so, easy come easy go.

I’m a leper on an adventure.

Introductory rates apply!

The people seem to love it.

I post it on my blog, sit back, and watch the monie$ roll in.

Incidentally, I ran into the male Gummy Bear today.

He seems to have misgivings about his current sales role, cold-calling people to buy I forget what.

He told me that although he sometimes calls some of the women back after the shift to just “listen to their voices”, he doesn’t find the job challenging.

“Wha’ I go’ si’ behoind a desk for all day?” said the bear. “Leicester pe’pl are pe’pl pe’pl, if y’g’t m’y me’n’ng.”

“Yes, yes of course.”

And who could argue with him? He’s a big guy. He’s massive. He can lift a Sumo wrestler riding a giant pink unicorn named Sassafras.  At least that’s what his Linkedin profile says.

“I’m loo’n’g for another jawb now, but I’m ofa-quawified,” said the bear. “So I’s can take a break and rest me weary ‘ead wi’ a game of ‘Double Solitaire.'”

What the fuck is “Double” Solitaire? I saw an ad on Facebook for a game app by that name.

Usually I play solitaire by myself. As the name suggests.

Solitaire is French for “stupid, tedious game for people who need a life.”

Obviously, I play it all the time.

 But Double Solitaire?

Are there people so bored, who’ve given up on life so much that they will double-up on Solitaire?

Double Solitaire sounds like a game a giant anthropomorphized Gummy Bear would play.

It’s hard to imagine there are that many Gummy Bears running around, downloading Double Solitaire.

So, maybe there are other people in the target market.

People with split personalities, for instance.

It’s bad enough if you have more than one personality, but you’re extra screwed if all your personalities are the kind of loser who would play Double Solitaire.

But then if Double Solitaire were for people with multiple personalities, the makers would have to realize that each personality is a potential customer.

And if that were the case, why would they call it Double Solitaire. They’d do better if they called it Deluxe Party Solitaire with a note saying, “Great with 6 to 12 players!”

Oh, fuck. Where was I?

Right. Long story short, I was glad to have run into the Gummy Bear. He reminded me that as much as you worry about where your next gig is coming from, your work life is no longer highlighted by the brainless memes, game apps and office gossip that too often characterizes a nine-to-five job. Anything to break up the tedium of downtime.

So it isn’t so bad to be a leper after all.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

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Trains, yachts, and automobile shops

People overseas probably don’t understand how big the Americas Cup yacht race was in New Zealand.

I don’t either.

Kiwis viewed the race as some kind of Cinderella story for the nation.

Could our team of Kiwi, Australian, and English yachtsmen, flying the flag of one of the world’s largest airlines, beat the team of Kiwis, Australians and English sailing for one of the biggest software makers in the world?

We didn’t know. We wouldn’t know until it got closer to the end. That’s how time works, dip-shit.

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Our eyes were glued to our computer screens, throughout the race. Our asses were screwed to our chairs, our fingers frozen on the refresh button.

We had a lot of explaining to do when the paramedics showed up.

Was the self-mutilation worth it? Millions of Kiwis are into yachting. And millions more are into self-mutilation. So pretty much everyone had a good week there.

Not me. I was disappointed. Americas Cup, my ass. If it was the “Americas” cup, why were there no shots fired? Oracle could have demonstrated what makes the US the greatest nation in history: our eternal commitment to wanton gun violence.

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Instead, Oracle relied on top equipment, good management, and excellent team work to take the Cup. Well.

That’s not the America I know and love.

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New Zealand has a lot more interesting things going on than coming in second place in a corporate sea-spectacle.

And by “a lot” I mean, in this instance, they have a nice train station.

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That’s the award winning New Lynn intermodal transportation depot, designed by Architectus and Brewer Davidson Architects.

As Architectus writes on its website, “Modal priority in interchanges should follow the principle of having the most efficient and sustainable modes given the most prominent location.”

And how.

And how in the world did I end up passing through there in the first place?

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It’s a funny story. Remember a few years ago when I had some prominent, non-speaking cameos in Spartacus: Sand and Blood and Shortland Street? And remember when I promised I’d never do that kind of shit-work again? And remember when I said I’d rather eat raw sewage than to spend any time in New Lynn?

I was working as an extra in New Lynn.

Juxtaposing buildings, one under construction.

Buildings off the  New Lynn memorial plaza.

It was for a TV commercial being filmed on location at a mechanic’s shop near the depot.

At first, the producers wanted me to play a happy customer.

But after a few takes, they realized they would not be able to get my whole nose into the frame without a more expensive lens.

The director saw me smiling and decided the best solution would be to have me play a jack-o-lantern in the background, as long as she only got me head-on.

It was easy work, and it had some perks.

The day before, we were shooting on location at a cafe and we got tons of free coffee.

The mechanic was equally generous and gave us tons of free coffee mugs filled with motor oil.

As I didn’t have my car with me, I felt obligated to drink some of it, so as not to come off as ungrateful.

Then I went home.

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Auckland’s historical suburban development does not lend itself to beautiful, or even remarkable public spaces.

The New Lynn station is one of them.

Light imbues warmth to even the most institutional materials necessary to meet the fire code.

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The main escalators are sided with clear and opaque glass, allowing light to penetrate to the lower level of the terminal.

The escalator leads to the waiting area, which connects commuters to a major bus terminal outside, to buses and a taxi stand.

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The bus stops and taxi stand on the street would not have made sense without the trench, which allows for surface traffic to move unencumbered by passing rail traffic.

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Details in the trench walls convey a sense of animation to passengers in trains leaving and entering the station.

But they are also reminiscent of contour maps, a reference to Auckland geography, adeptly contrasting a human relationship with motion and stillness

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The contours may also cushion the noise from passing trains, while at same time giving bored passenger who forgot their kindles something to look at that won’t drive them completely insane.

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The design is conscious of light throughout, with a pleasant lattice forming between the shelters and cross braces and the platform below.

If you were tripping on LSD, you’d probably think you were standing on a sun-speckled forest floor.

Or you might think you were a nectarine. It all depends.

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Anyway, here come choo choo.

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Or as the judges of the New Zealand Architecture Awards said:

As a hub for a catchment benefitting from improved transit-oriented catchment for public transport, the hub performs a welcome place-making function in a part of Auckland ill-served by a generation of car-focused planning.

By lowering the rail track beneath road level, the architects have untangled local infrastructural knots and provided ample space for a user-friendly platform. A successor to the noble tradition of railway architecture, this project is a beacon of quality in a sea of indifferent buildings and a benchmark for future development.

Like I said, “Here come choo choo.”

A personal milestone

Working freelance after a full time job takes time.

I’ve done a number of contract projects since being made redundant in July.

Ad copy writing, corporate gigs, research projects: they’ve all been very interesting, and I’m learning new things as I go, even about myself.

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A contract worker, for example, must hone his business skills, even if he is “creative” or “stupid”.

This fact dawned on me a few days ago when I realized that I’m just as equipped to manage my own business as the next guy, who at that moment was a Down Syndrome-dude selling pencils on Queen Street.

Add business to my growing “incompetence list”, right up there with being a techno-tard, fuck-tard, bastard and leotard.

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Business is just not my thing. So yesterday, I finally got my ass over to a professional. I went to see an accountant.

This was a huge milestone for me because on the way to my appointment, I stepped in dog shit.

It was the first time I stepped in dog shit in New Zealand. Not only that, but it was also the longest I’ve gone without stepping in dog shit, by far (363 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 17 seconds).

I’m not ashamed to say I cried. I stood there on Dominion Road, my Birkenstocks tread-deep in dog shit, overwhelmed by tears pride my accomplishment.

In case anyone didn’t know or you forgot, I’m New Yorker. Asshole.

And everyone in New York is constantly stepping in dog shit. You’re lucky if you don’t step in shit before getting out of bed in the morning.

It’s not unusual for subway commuters to get to work completely covered in all kinds of shit. This means they have to go back home to clean up and change clothes.

The braver ones sometimes go back to work, only to go through the cycle all over again. Usually, we just call in sick, but if you’re in a union, you might get some annual “covered in shit” paid-leave days.

It took a while to sort out the mess. I didn’t want to start off a professional relationship with my feet covered in shit.

So I shuffled through some twigs for a while, and used a snot-rag I had in my pocket to clean the shit from between my toes, as I happened to be wearing Birkenstocks.

The accountant showed me into a conference room after arriving at his office. He was really helpful in giving me advice about starting my business.

But even though I’d cleaned myself thoroughly, there was still a foul smell in the air, faint but persistent. It seemed possible I was imagining things.

Then the accountant started finding one excuse after another to leave the room. Kiwis would rather do that than to openly acknowledge a problem. So he kept interrupting himself from giving me advice, staying away longer and longer.

The last time he was gone the longest, maybe three minutes, and when he sat down again I could see a bit of whatever he’d had for lunch on his now-stained tie.  (It sucks when you think you’ll make it to the toilet in time, but don’t.)

Then he asked me to leave and if I could show myself out.

Which I thought was a little on the unprofessional side. If he’d only asked, I could have told him about my milestone. But when I got home, I realized it wasn’t the dog shit I was smelling, but the natural odor of my feet. In which case, sorry, Mr Accountant. My bad.

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The third prong

Back when I was a pack-a-day cigarette smoker two weeks ago, the worst thing in the world to me was running out of cigarettes after the dairies have closed.

For those of you from out of town, in New Zealand, grocery stores are called “dairies”. And the store clerks are called “milk cows” and can work the registers for many, many lactations.

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The problem is that most dairies in Auckland close long before the cows come home.

So if you run out of cigarettes after a certain hour of the night, your options are limited. And one option more dreadful than the other: you can drive to a gas station, or, like an adult, you can delay gratification and wait until the dairy opens in the  morning.

Fuck that “being adult about it” bullshit. I want my wah-wah. So it sucks to be a Parnell smoker in the wee hours of the morning. I myself was caught with my pants down on more than a few similar occasions. Each time, as I pulled my pants back up, I discovered that I was out of cigarettes. Not only was my bum sore. Not only was I out $5. But I had nothing to smoke. So I was fucked coming and going. Of course, I’m speaking figuratively here, you all understand.

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A few months ago, I discovered the Juice Bar, the live performance venue attached to the Windsor Tavern.

The shows I caught were actually kind of fun, funky cover bands that dropped phat beats. A bouncer at the door saw me reach for my wallet to show him my ID and started laughing.

I could see why when I went in and started feeling my own mortality choking me about my double chin, making my gray stubble stand on end.

It’s chilling to be 42 and standing in a room full of sexually charged 20-somethings in Sunday best, and drunk/drugged out of their heads.

So naturally I start bobbing my head in rhythm to the music. That way I start to blend in. I don’t want to tip my hat that the only reason I’m there is to buy cigarettes. I look around, pretend to be judging the scene for coolness, to see if Juice is up to my high standard of cool. Because if it isn’t, I’m splitting. It’s the last thing the Windsor wants to see happen. A trendsetting blogger, yawning and walking out.  But it was OK. Because I liked the music, and it felt good to bob my head in tempo. I felt like a big, fat spasticated bower bird failing at his mating dance. Naturally, it took some time to acclimate to the sensual/erotic atmosphere engendered by relatively new model humans. So I noticed these two young ladies standing next to me. And in the coolest voice I’ve ever heard coming out of my mouth, I said, “Don’t you love this kind of music?” or something along those lines.

Long story short, eight seconds later, I was at the bar, buying my cigarettes.

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Of course that’s all in the past. Because as of August 2, I don’t smoke cigarettes.

I had gone into this thing with the idea that I’d use the patches and once in a while I’d resort to the e-cig.

Instead, I went the first few days without the patch, and have so far been patchless the entire two weeks.

Unfortunately, I have relied heavily on the e-cigarette to ease me through the occasional pangs.

It’s not a great idea for two reasons. E cigarettes prolong your chemical and psychological dependence on nicotine.

But worse than that, you look so cool using an E cigarette that you catch people’s attention.

I went to the St. Luke’s Westfield the other day. God knows why. To cash in on a gift certificate.

Malls in general are painful disasters of social architecture. Mostly because the chicks you see there have huge asses. It’s depressing.

So, yesterday, after about 30 minutes of looking around the shops for something buy with my gift certificate, I found myself just staring down from the second floor to the people eating and browsing in the food court, and the thought came to me that the worst thing about the Cold War was that we didn’t nuke each other.

Anyway, as I stood there, pondering, I took out my e-cigarette and started puffing away.

These two older chicks, maybe in their late 40s, early 50s, spotted me and started whispering to each other, but in a stage whisper.

“My god, is he smoking?” one said.

“What is that, a cigarette,” the other said.

“That’d better not be a cigarette.”

“Is he smoking a cigarette inside the mall.”

So I turned to face them, and show that it was an e-cigarette,

“Oh, it’s one of those electronic cigarettes,” the one said to the other, completely ignoring me,

“Is he allowed to do that?”

“Nobody’s stopping him.”

“Somebody should stop him.”

And on an on. The chicks’ whispering reminded me of a horror movie when demons start hissing to each other.

So, I had a few choice words with the two old bags, and before I knew it the three of us were in a hotel room making an adult video.

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The point of all this is manifold. In my first month of unemployment, I’ve made some progress in establishing a sound business case for me getting paid to be a funny person.

I know, I know. Everyone, except for maybe a severely retarded person or a United States Postal worker, thinks they are funny enough to entertain people, and make money doing it.

I may be retarded in many vast areas of my life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think I’m funny. I do think I’m funny.

I just don’t know how to convince anybody else that.

So, in this, the incipient stages of what is probably going to be a very long-ass, painful and largely unrewarding experience (much like watching a Peter Jackson trilogy, but a lot more expensive), I am hoping to add to my developing repertoire.

In addition to doing stand up and pursuing any creative writing assignments that come my way, I have been convinced to compile a book of essays, perhaps based on what I’ve written on this blog, but printed in large type so my grandmother can read it.

Jacquie and my friend Sabine have given me several reading assignments to familiarize myself with the essay form that I’d like to write: David Sedaris, David Rakoff, Sarah Silverman, and Lance Armstrong.

That’s right. I’m going to be a famous non-fiction, personal essayist/humorist.

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Ginga, please.

And this blog, for the moment, is the link that feeds the other pursuits. So, while I talk about my essay writing project here, when I do stand up, I can make jokes about how my blog is about my book of essays.

And, to bring it full circle, I can talk about how my standup routines are all about my blogs being about my essays.

Constantly recycling material from one state to the next in a perfectly homeostatic system of funny shit.

I like to think of it as Ouroboros, a very ancient symbol that stands for “synergizing your core competencies into a multi-platform, multi-channel marketing strategy that will have you rolling in the dough and retired before know it.”

The only thing is, I have to get it started, by talking about what I know. Me. I’m basically going to become everyone’s worst first date. I’m going to drone on and on and on about myself. And I’m going to stick you with the bill at the end.

Which is why this blog was mostly about e-cigarettes.

So, if you see me doing standup, or if you buy my book some time down the road, and it all seems familiar, it is.

NOTE: A special shout out to Anthony Wilson, a funny comedian whom I interviewed a few weeks ago, after he MC’d a very tough room: I have been too lazy to write it up man…but I will…soon.

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No more Mr. Nicotine guy

I haven’t smoked a cigarette in more than ten days.

And as far as I can tell, I’m not much more of an obnoxious person than I ever was.

I’m surprised.

It’s a win-win. Really it’s two wins for me. And nothing for you. But who gives a shit about you? This is my story. Screw off.

Oh, man. It’s so much fun being an ex-smoker. It really is the life for me.

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When you stop smoking, you’re allowed to be an asshole. So when people protest that I’m being short-tempered or irritable with them, they’re being assholes.

They’re interfering with my smoke quitting. Because they want me to die.

Do you really want my death on your conscience?

Because if I’m not allowed to call you fat or ugly, or whatever, then I may go back to smoking, and you don’t want to be that kind of asshole, do you.

So, cheer up, fuck face, and know that you’re helping a friend quit cigarettes.

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You should also know that I’m going to be watching you, for the least sign of insult, criticism or anything. Expect me to say something about how you’re being an asshole to me.

Even if we’ve never met. And you have to like it. Because only an asshole wouldn’t support someone quitting cigarettes.

I’ve already had to complain to several people that they are assholes. And they’ve apologized, because they know how hard it is to quit smoking. It’s been tough correcting everyone. I’ve even had a word with a career counselor, when she crossed a line that she would soon be told was there but not to be crossed, after the fact, by me.

Fairfax Media had essentially hired this woman as part of our redundancy package, to guide us into the picturesque world of unemployment.

A dozen of us or so in the business group lost our jobs in that round. Naturally, they were all contacting the counselor.

Quite a few of them got to see her before my turn came.

She called to arrange our first meeting and she apologized for not getting to me sooner.

“I’m so sorry,” she said, with a chirpy optimism. “You just wouldn’t BELIEVE how busy I’ve been this week,”

The electronic cigarette is a delivery mechanism for a nicotine aerosol. You can mist wherever you like, and nobody will say nothing. In fact, in my experience they mostly just leave the room in a hurry.

The electronic cigarette delivers nicotine infused water vapor when you draw a puff. I call it misting. And I’m going to make misting cool. I mist wherever I like, and nobody’s said nothing. Mostly they’ve just left in a hurry.

Later I told her what she had said was kind of insensitive, considering the reasons for her being busy and for me contacting her in the first place.

She apologized, but I don’t think she understood what the problem was. The next time we spoke, I asked how she was doing. “I’m doing fine,” she said. “But I know you don’t like to hear how I am doing.”

Fuckin’ eh. Here I am, unemployed and worried. And here’s this woman telling me how great that is for her. It’s like you’re an insect caught in a web and the spider is telling you how wonderful a nice meal is.

I was afraid she would ask me to help her decide what to do with that bonus money. Three weeks touring Europe, or buying a new Mini Cooper.

I’m not saying this woman is bad at her job. She’s been good to talk to and her advice has been a help.

And she told me about all the stages of grief over my lost job that I had to look forward to in the coming decades. She said most people go through seven stages, but after talking to me for ten minutes, she could tell that with the way I handle crisis, I was going to need more like 40 or 50 stages of grief.

I’m currently in what she calls “zany antics” but ready to move on to “chug-a-lug”, whatever that could be.

She also helped me think of ways to develop business for my comedy and creative writing services start-up.

We talked about what I’d been doing, and she was very encouraging.

She said even though I had a dragon on my back I was keeping the wolf at the door. I’m not sure what that all means, but I hope it has something to do with getting a Dungeons & Dragons game going.

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But here is where I find that even my asshole-ness has its limitations.

After all, as I say, this counselor is good at what she does, and she means well.

And today she said I looked “very New York” which made me feel really good. And I don’t care if by “very New York” she meant I scared her in the way a deranged, half-naked homeless man screaming “Fuck it all” sends red flags up for some people.

It doesn’t matter, really. There are plenty other people I can be an asshole to, and that’s something to get you out of bed in the morning, if I’ve ever heard it.

Bumped into the doldrums

This past week pretty much blew chunks.

I quit smoking and haven’t had a cigarette in more than eight days. But that has nothing to do with how shitty I think everything is.

It’s sort of just the icing on the cake. Whatever the root cause, it’s been an unpleasant distraction.

Look at this picture, for example. It’s of a Beach Road business that offers a very special service.

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I haven’t a single god damned clue what ageaing is, but I’m totally against it.

You should always be suspicious of and hostile to words that sound funny. And then act violently toward it.

And it’s stupid things like that window which have filled my brain this past week. Also, for example

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The only people who would find this picture fascinating, and not always for different reasons, are mental patients and the unemployed.

I’m covered, in any event.

But why is this happening to me right now? I’ll tell you my theory. I’m in the doldrums. I’m unemployed, middle-aged, and I spend most of my waking hours having one way conversations with a cat. And despite all these advantages, I still feel like there’s something wrong.

Episodes of Tina? Finished. Advertising scripts? Done. There was nothing needed finishing. This post has been in draft since Tuesday. There was no wind in my sails.

Like all sailors before the steam ship, I literally was stuck in the Intertropical Convergence Zone, so to speak. (The fact that I also suffer from rickets is immaterial).

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But that still doesn’t answer how one gets stuck in the doldrums. In this day and age, with our modern satellites and mood stabilizing drugs.

The answer is you have to be put there. Something has to set you off.

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What did it for me. What really pushed me over the edge into a brown study.

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What really set me thinking that I’d hit rock bottom, and froze my career and my life in its tracks.

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Was the fact that I was bumped from an open mic for standup comedians.

Never in my entire three-and-a-half week standup comedy career have I been subjected to such contemptible treatment.

I didn’t even think it was possible to get bumped from an open mic. I thought the whole idea of an open mic was to give people a chance. Not to dash their dreams of one day co-starring in a movie with Rob Schneider.

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And what about my free speech rights, and my rights as an American citizen to get anything I want, whenever I want it?

Snatch needs to understand they didn’t just prevent an aspiring funny person from getting some microphone time. By denying me my rights, they are letting the terrorists win.

And we were doing so well until now.

Anyway, I think I have a solution that could benefit us all with a lot of free publicity. A frivolous lawsuit.

This is how it’s going to work. I’m going to tell the world that Snatch Bar bumped me from open mic because I’m Jewish. Voila. Instant publicity for everyone.

Our names will be in the news, but sadly, not as much as if I were a holocaust survivor, or even 100 percent Jewish for that matter. I’m sorry to report that my mother is gentile.

So when I hold my first press conference, I will explain that I am accusing you of semi-antisemitism. Or anti-semi-semitism. (I may use both.)

I think this fiasco would get Snatch a lot more than if someone, say, referred to Anne Frank as a slut.

Which I wouldn’t recommend.

So, let’s make this work, suing each other out of the doldrums.

Insensitive advertising makes me feel like crap

This advertisement just came up on Facebook

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Superior Farms Pet Provisions should be ashamed of itself.

This ad makes me feel terrible. Look at the dog in that picture. He obviously has a better life than me, and it looks like he earns a lot more money, too.

His name is Jumpy. He likes the outdoors, water sports, and shitting on the neighbor’s lawn. In other words, he is living the life that I’ve always wanted for myself.

Thanks for taunting me Superior Farms Pet Provisions NZ. You think I’m going to buy something for my cat from you in my currently tenuous economic condition?

Vince doesn’t need gold teeth that spell THUG in diamond studs, which I imagine is the kind of thing you’d try to sell a cat.

It’s just not going to happen. Not when you instantly make your target market (me) feel shitty about their lives. I’m sure we’d all love to drop what we’re doing, head off to the beach, and water ski on all-fours and shit on somebody’s beach towel.

Some of us don’t have the time. We have too many responsibilities. We are obligated to our families, and our employers. Well, you are. I’m unemployed. If you have a job, sucks to be you.

And as for family? Jacquie counts on me. If something ever needs fixing or cleaning, I’ll get around to it eventually. Because that’s what love is. It’s anticipating what your other half wants or needs, and paying lip service to doing something about it.

The secret to a strong marriage is, if you make it look like you care what color the bedroom wall is, you’re doing fine.

Better than me, anyway.

Thanks to Superior Farms Pet Provisions NZ, I have to sit down, think about where my life is going, and drag my ass across the carpet a few times because it itches and I haven’t been wormed in weeks.

And give my regards to Jerky.

The daily grind of a working class stiff

An Otis employee  was tooling up and down the street in a forklift this afternoon.

There weren’t any delivery trucks at the freight bay of the single-story NZ headquarters for the supposed elevator manufacturer.

So what was this guy doing in the forklift? He was just having fun.

Who knew work could be so awesome?

At one point, he drove by, saw me and honked.

“I shouldn’t even be driving this,” he screamed. “I don’t even have a forklift license.”

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Which I guess was a problem, but not as immediate a concern as him driving against traffic on a one way street.

I was left wondering why I couldn’t have a forklift for my new job? Back when I used to work in an office, more than two weeks ago, this was exactly the kind of thing that could get you fired.

If you were spotted driving a forklift to work, and you didn’t have a license, that was pretty much the only excuse they needed to fire you on the spot.

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But every once in a while, some clown had to test the boundaries. The last guy had a giant scissors lift. He did donuts in the car park, and then, without anyone’s permission, he started washing then second floor windows.

Predictably, he did not have a full license to operate a large scissor lift, unless accompanied by an already-licensed scissor lift operator. Which he was not.

I’m not sure what exactly I would use a forklift for in my current role. (I’m unemployed). But, shit, I do want to have fun while I’m working.

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It has been fun. Working, I mean. Despite no steady income flowing, I have been able to weasel my way onto some interesting projects, which I’m hoping will lead to something else.

Like more projects. I’ve written a few episodes of a prospective web series, and I am likely to play one of the characters when it goes into production.

And, for those of you in the market for writing services, I am available for various writing assignment work, from press releases to web content, to marketing materials and case studies. Affordable rates! A better-than-most-eighth-graders’ command of the English language! Smart stuff, delivered in time. (contact: simon.eskow@gmail.com)

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Holy crap. I just turned this blog post into an infomercial.

The great thing is I do have a few projects going. But I don’t have any projects that require me to drive a forklift or a scissors lift, without a license, and for no good reason.

So, please, remember me the next time you need a contractor, especially if I can have a crack at some kind of machinery that I am not qualified to use.

I welcome all assignments involving radial saws, jackhammers, or any equipment that could make me seem even slightly more masculine than I am.

Fire. I like fire.

Because even if I’m unemployed, I never want to be idle.

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