I’d like to say that the musical The Book of Mormon had something to do with the outcome of this year’s Quills Conference writing awards. The problem is, when I Spock out on the probability of that being true, the whole idea reeks of highly illogical. Still, the idea makes me happy.
I belong to a groovy group called the League of Utah writers. It’s a state wide organization that’s been around for over eighty years, and has chapters across the state. I’ve only been a part of it for the past four years, and had been a huge help to me as a writer. Fellow writers helping out each other to be better story tellers.
Every year they have a fall writing conference, Quills, and wrap up the two-day event with a dinner and awards ceremony. Every year I submit a few pieces and waited in anticipation in hopes of hearing my name called out loud in a group of my peers.
The first two years my name remained silent, but last year I got an honorable mention for a short story in the Speculative Fiction category. I handled it like a pro; my face turned bright pink as I shuffle to the front of the room, with my tribe of Monkeys cheering me on with each step I took.
Oh yeah, the chapter I belong to is called the Infinity Monkeys, we’re a speculative fiction chapter who has yet to wrote Hamlet, but damn if we don’t try every chance we get.
So this year, on day two of the conference I’m all poised to attend the awards banquet. I’m full of curious anticipation, not quite shivering, but work my way there. Would my name be called again? It’s a hope I shared with every writer at the conference.
At two hours to award time my pocket began to vibrate. Either there was a Pokémon close by or someone was texting me up. Turned out it was the later. A buddy of mine had a spare ticket to go see The Book of Mormon.
It was a tough call. On one hand, it was the end of the conference. The awards ceremony, a chance for my name to be called out. The chance to become an award winning writer should one of my pieces make it in the top three. On the other hand, it was the musical The Book of Mormon.
I minute later, my friend knew I’d be meeting him at the theater, and was in route to the parking lot.
Worth it. Soooo worth it.
I had no ass left by the end of the show do to my incessant giggling.
What I didn’t expect was the vomit of constant buzzing from phone when we left the theater.
Oh my god, is everyone okay? Who’s in the hospital? Did the house flood? Did someone die?
Turned out: Yes. No. No. And, no.
No messages from my immediate family, but a slew of texts from my Monkey family. Apparently my name had come up a few times that evening. Five times to be precise. I summed up the news in three simple words: “Holy fuck socks!”
Here’s how the evening turned out:
• Second Honorable mention in Fiction
• First Honorable mention in Creative Non-Fiction
• First Honorable mention in Poetry
• Third Place in Media Article
• First place in Poetry
I may have even made a little scratch from some of the awards. Not only had I become an award winning writer in the span of the last two hours, I had also become a paid creative writer. Even as I type that out, two months later, it still feels surreal.
I didn’t want to cliché the whole experience and spend half of my award money on a nice bottle of Scotch, but . . . okay yes, yes I did. I totally spent half my award money on a nice bottle of Scotch. And yes, it was absolutely worth it. The most satisfying campfire I’ve ever licked. Taliskar 10; delightful.
So yeah, logically going to see The Book of Mormon had nothing to do with the outcome of the award banquet. The reviewing, scoring, and award certificate were all done long before I got the call to go see the show. But it just feels more satisfying to believe that just maybe, skipping the awards ceremony to spend the evening in riotous laughter with some fabulous friends, maybe sort of had a little something to do with the outcome of that night. Fiction, yes. But in the end, it’s the story that makes me smile most. And for me, that’s kind of the whole point.
Caffeine, it’s that much loved little drug of choice that gives you a little extra pep when you need a little extra oomph to get things going. I for one am a fan of caffeine. It can increase your energy, helps with headaches (although it can cause them as well) and it promotes brain activity, unless of course you use it as a chaser for alcohol. I’m taking to you Red Bull and vodka. In those cases I think it just gives you more energy to destroy your brain cells faster. Still, it does have some attributes that make it my drug of choice.
Over the years my consumption of caffeine has included:
Coffee – Cold and hot
Tea – Cold and hot
Chocolate covered coffee beans
Chocolate in general
Pills – Vivarin, NoDoz
Energy drinks – Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, etc.
Sodas – Coke, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, etc.
Bubble Gum – Yes I did try Jolt gum once . . . only once. Okay, so maybe I made it through the entire pack, but at least two pieces were given to people I was not particularly fond of, who liked to get all uppity and tell me I was addicted to drugs because I drank Mello Yello.
Apart from the pills, chocolate, chocolate covered coffee/espresso beans, and gum my history with this little pick-me-up has been beverage related. Hell, even today my average daily caffeine consumption comes from one can of Xing tea, usually blueberry or mango flavored. There is also the occasionally iced chai tea or Tai iced tea. So yeah, when it comes to caffeineing myself up (yes, it’s a real word, which I just made up), tea is my old reliable, and drinking it is how I get my daily allotment . . . or so I thought.
On the average, men can be a touch lazy when it comes to caring about products that are part of our hygiene care. In the beginning there was soap, one product that was used for washing ourselves, including our hair. Then came shampoo, which was apparently liquid soap just for the hair on your head. But you know what? After we were introduced to shampoo we used it for both soap and shampoo. That is until it ran out, in which case we went back to just using a bar of soap for both until we got some more shampoo.
Then came conditioner. Want to know what every man thinks when he’s first introduced to conditioner? “What the hell is this?” Seriously, it’s a confusing addition to our hygiene productions arsenal. At this point in my life all I can tell you about conditioner is that it’s essentially lotion for your hair.
And yes when I run out of shampoo, that’s when I finally use the conditioner, but not as conditioner, it just replaces my shampoo until I can get some new shampoo.
Some companies had done a brilliant job in realizing that men don’t care about the crap we use in the shower to get us clean. There are now 2 in 1 products with shampoo and conditioner combined together in one, which, when it comes down to it is just soap with some lotion in it. I have even seen 3 in 1 products, which is body wash, shampoo and conditioner all in one. You know, soap with some lotion in it.
So a while ago my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh, who, as a woman has chosen to accept that there is a difference between soap, shampoo, and conditioner (apart from the smell) and is very adamant that I have my own of these products so I do not use hers, got me some new 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner specifically for men. I know this because it says so on the bottle.
Well, the other morning, as I was dumping a glob of this liquid soap into my hand to begin lathering up, I noticed something on the front of the bottle. A little box highlighting the fact that the stuff I was about use to wash my hair and my armpits contained caffeine!
That’s right, you can now skip your morning cup of joe and just wet, lather, and rinse your head. And for those of you what are used to that extra shot of espresso in your morning blend, well, that’s what the “repeat” directions are for.
At first I was a bit skeptical about caffeinating my hair before work. I was sure my hair was going to get all wigged out, and I’d show up at work with Don King equivalent hair do, or worse. Surprisingly, my hair seemed okay with this new ingredient, and behaved rather nonchalantly about the whole thing.
There have even been a few days that I have skipped my tea and didn’t really notice much difference. However, I don’t see it as a reliable replacement in most cases. For one thing, it would be weird going into my work bathroom for a quick lather and rinse if I’m feeling the need for a little pick-me-up in the afternoon. Likewise, lathering up while you drive down the road could cause a few more problems than just drinking a caffeinated soda or some coffee because you feel a little tired behind the wheel.
Well I purchase this product again after it’s gone. Truth is, you’ll have to ask my wife about that one, because I really don’t have a strong opinion about it one way or the other . . . it’s soap.
I will, however, state that for the record, adding caffeinated shampoo to the tub so you can take a hot, relaxing bubble bath is quite counterproductive.
It’s a phrase that I have said a few times in my life, and a phrase I have thought probably thousands of times. In my youth this this phrase was often shared when another siblings chores where introduced in the throes of playtime.
My brother and I would be playing and eventually Mom would call out, “Michael, go clean your room!”
Finally, after two or three more reminders, my brother would shy away from playing and head to his room. Yes, there was more than one time that my brother was called to clean his room when I wasn’t. This was a result of me shoving everything under my bed and then making my bed in a way that the top blanket hung low enough off the side of my bed to touch the floor, thus hiding the mess under my bed. That way there was no way Mom would see everything under my bed if she just walked in my room.
Of course, on more than one occasion, I was called to my room to clean my room properly thanks to her doing the unthinkable and actually setting foot in my room and pulling up the blanket to do a little motherly investigative research.
When my brother would arrive back, he always returned with the same question, “Why didn’t you help me.”
To which I always had to reply, “I would have helped, but I was playing Legos,” or the more direct and honest approach, “I would have helped, but I didn’t wanna.”
It was a statement that no adolescent boy could refute. There were plenty of times I asked him the same question followed by his usually verbatim reply.
I believe most everyone has used this phrase at some point in their life. For some it might even be a daily or hourly endeavor. Some reasons are valid, some are absolute rubbish, and some you just have to share with others, which brings me to yesterday.
I was at work, hanging out in my little back corner with the rest of my team. Most of us were enjoying our lunch. One team member was getting through some coaching and as the coaching session ended, the girl being coached got up to leave, but ended up getting her feet tangled in some headphone cords and tripped.
As far as trips go, it was epically uneventful. No screams, or bruises, or pulling anyone down with her trying to keep her balance, just a quick, “Ooof” and a half second later she was pushing herself up off the floor.
Then, piercing the silence that followed (we were waiting for her to let us know that she was okay) was the voice of my boss, Sorya, who had witnessed the whole thing.
“I would have helped, but . . . my hand was in my pocket.”
Everyone started to laugh. It was both one of the worst and absolute best “I would have helped, but . . .” reasons I’d ever heard in my entire life.
To his credit, he did mean something different. He was sitting down with a hand in one pocket. He tried to pull it out to give her a hand getting up, but because he was sitting down his hand was a little stuck. Also, the fall and getting back up happened so fast that he didn’t have much time to react. Still out of all the things he could have said he went with, “I would have helped, but my hand was in my pocket.”
I still giggle when I think about it.
He was so pleased about how well it was received he even asked if I’d make a Smirk out of it. I thought about telling him I wouldn’t be able to write about it since my hand was in my pocket, but I thought he’d earned it. It was a Sorya-ism worth sharing. One that I highly recommend using the next time you find yourself in a “I would have helped, but” moment.
So, what are some of your favorite “I would have helped, but . . .” responses? Either given or received.
Google Images, keywords: tripping, Legos, sitting with hand in pocket.
Yes, I have recently found TED. And no I don’t mean that stupid teddy bear movie. Okay, so I haven’t so much recently found TED as I’ve recently begun listening to TED talks while playing games on my PC.
For those of you who don’t know TED (ted.com) is a conference where people are invited to show up and talk for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes over a variety of topics. As far as talks go, some are complete crap, the speaker is a poor presenter and even though they have been talking for 10 minutes you have no idea what they are talking about and am left wondering, “What’s the point of this talk?”, or if they even had a point at all.
Then there are some talks that are so poignant and moving that you stand and start looking around to see if there is anything in the near vicinity that you can use to make your life and the whole world a better place. “Hmm, maybe I could sell all my CDs and DVDs and use the money to help build an orphanage in Africa”, you know, things like that.
So back to gaming with TED, lately I’ll sit down at my computer with a game to unwind for a bit after work. “Okay, Batman, these give there thugs in Arkham City what for.” Then I queue up a few TED talks to play in the back ground, you know for multitasking purposes, and I sit back and begin to wreak vengeance upon escaped convicts in clown makeup.
That is until one of ‘those’ talks come on. Soon I’m clicking less and listening more. Then in mid battle I move away from the action and get to a safe perch so I can tab out and see the image the talker is referring to in their PowerPoint. By the end of the talk I’m closing out of the game, not even caring if I save, because pretending to be a computer generated comic book character really pales in comparison when you were just inspired by the story of some bloke who decided to do a 20 minute swim around the North Pole in a speedo and goggles.
On a plus note, at least I got a Smirk done for February. So, um, thanks TED. And now I’m in a writing mood, Batman can wait; I’ve got a story to work on. Thankfully, my editor hasn’t started cursing at me yet. Although, I might need to avoid TEDing out while working on my book. I don’t need any new characters at this point.
So if you happen to be like me and get a little sidetracked from time to time add TED to your downtime, and see what happens.
Google Images, keywords: Ted talks, Batman Arkham City, writing on computer.
I suppose you could say I started the new year with a bit of a purging, and no not in a “I had too much to drink New Years Eve” kind of way. The first of the year started off with my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh finally managing to pass her cold on to me. I’m not sure why, but whenever I catch a cold, I really don’t start feeling better until I’ve shared it with someone else. The same seems to be true for my wife. Once I caught it, she started feeling great again.
To avoid becoming “that guy” who goes to work sick and sharing his illness with as many people as possible. You know the ones, the walk around with a box of Kleenex always at the ready and for some reason always feel compelled to have a coughing fit right next to a fan; for optimal infection spreading no doubt.
My cold resulted in me staying in bed for the next three day, days I should have been at work . . . or so I thought.
When I arrived at work, I was kindly informed, well as kindly as one could, that I no longer had a position at the company. I wasn’t exactly fired, I just didn’t have a job there anymore. They had restructured a few things while I was enjoying my Holiday vacation and when I got back, the restructuring had deemed my job title extinct.
Out of all the things I was planning on doing when getting back to work that Monday, using my (now former) work computer to apply for unemployment was not one of them.
Was I pissed off that a company I had worked for over seven years had just dismissed my job under the guise of restructuring? No, not really. I seemed like a waste of a lot of energy for something that wouldn’t change anything. In complete honesty my main thought was, “Oh god, I have a mortgage to pay in a few weeks” mixed with a slight desire to vomit.
At least starting the New Year out sick meant that I had a job three days longer than I was supposed to, so who says being sick is always a bad thing. Not to mention, watching reruns of 80’s television shows on Netflix, while supped up on cold medicine, will move you to try to convince someone you respect and love dearly that, “Magnum PI was actually a pretty good show.”
So once home, with renewed health and a resume that hadn’t been touched in seven years, I got to work. I’ll admit, it’s amazing how much one can appear to do for a company when you break things down into single sentences and put them into a bulleted list. I mean, just to name a few, I can document processes, communicate company/procedure updates, create policy, motivate others, address employee concerns, assist in hiring, put together a disaster recovery plan, plan company parties, and quote old movies from the 80’s (which after much deliberation, I opted not put on my resume, but it’s still a very important office skill).
I do have to admit one thing, I’m so glad I used my personal email to sign into Pandora at work instead of using my work email. I have ten stations that have been sculpted and manicured into listening gold. If I would have had to start over, I just might have cried a little. It reminds me that those seven years was not a total waste. Besides, it does make emailing my resume to multiple businesses throughout the week a little more enjoyable, well, that and the Muppet action figure of the Mahna Mahna guy sitting on my desk.
I’d like to say I’ve hit the ground running, but the truth is, there’s been a fair amount of reflection and pondering on what to do next. Not so much job wise, but what I want to accomplish this year for myself. So I’ve been making a list, my list for 2013. It definitely started off new, and different, but not necessarily bad. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.
So here’s to a new year, one that I plan to keep laughing through, and hopefully you’ll come along for the ride.
Google Images, keywords: Welcome to 2013, unemployed, and Mahna Mahna.
With a new month underway, it is once again time to take a closer look about our beloved “Christians Stole my Pagan Holiday” Month, and learn a few things you may not know about our twelfth month of the year. The big holiday this month is, obviously New Year’s Eve, the night people all around the world stay up waiting for my birthday to arrive at the stroke of midnight. Oh yeah, then there’s that Christmas thing as well.
As for the rest of the month, turns out December is also, but not limited to:
Bingo Month Write a Friend Month Choose a Summer Camp Month Identity Theft Awareness Month National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month National Stress-Free Family Holidays Month National Tie Month Read a Book Month Safe Toys and Gift Month Universal Human Rights Month
When it comes to week long celebrations December starts off week one with Cookie Cutter Week, National Aplastic Anemia Awareness Week and Tolerance Week. For the record I would like to say that all this week I have been tolerant of all aplastic anemia cookie cutters bringing awareness to the nation.
Week two is Clerc-Gallaudet Week and National Hand Washing Awareness Week. That’s right you would think that everyone would be aware of the importance of washing your hands, but there’s always that one deviant at work that you notice in the bathroom who walks out of the stall and right past the sinks and out into the hall. People like this are always etched into my mind, mainly so if I see them in the hall or am ever introduced to them, I can keep at a safe distance. As for Clerc and Gallaudet, they are two chaps that played a very important role in deaf education history . . . back in the 17 to 1800s.
Week three and four is . . . there might be something there, but I didn’t really find anything. I theory is that week three is Christmas preparation week and week four is Gift Return week.
As for special days in the month of November, I managed to find 50+ different day celebrations. Today happens to be International Civil Aviation Day, Letter Writing Day, National Cotton Candy Day and Pearl Harbor Day.
As for the rest of the days, for the sake of avoiding a ridiculously long list, I’ll highlight just a few of my favorites:
December 5 – Bathtub Party Day and Repeal Day – And of course Repeal Day is to celebrate the 21st Amendment ending Prohibition . . . I’ll drink to that. The nice thing about this day is that if you drink enough for your Repeal party, it can very easily turn into a bathtub party as well.
December 12 – National Ding-a-Ling Day and Poinsettia Day – It’s important to point out this is not a holiday for the Salvation Army Bell Ringers that have started popping up at every store entrance starting at the beginning of this month. National Ding-a-Ling Day is actually about embracing bizarre and crazy behavior from all of the people you encounter that day.
December 17 – National Maple Syrup Day – This also happens to be my official “Perfect day for watching Elf” Day.
December 21 – Mayan Calendar Ends, Forefather’s Day, Humbug Day, National Flashlight Day, and Look on the Bright Side Day – Since the Mayan calendar ends on the same day as Humbug day, I wonder if “those people”, the humbug ones I mean, are going to get all pissy that the world didn’t end?
December 26 – Boxing Day – The origin of this holiday goes back to the Middle Ages. On this day, members of the merchant class would take boxes, fill them with food and fruits, and give them to servants, tradespeople and the less fortunate. In the case of servants, they would work on Christmas Day, so it was only fitting that immediately after Christmas, they would be given a day off to celebrate.
December 23 – Pepper Pot Day – Pepper Pot Day commemorates the creation of this thick spicy soup, which was served to the Continental Army during the cold, harsh winter of 1777-1778, and is not to be confused with Pepper Potts, Iron Man’s sweetie-pie.
Well, that’s it for my highlight of a few December Holidays. I hope you found a smirk getting a little more awareness about this month. Cheers, and a Happy Holidays to you all.
Google Images, keywords: December, National Hand Washing Awareness Week, Repeal Day, Mayan Calendar Ends, and Happy Holidays.