Friday, June 18, 2004

I could've left selling porn off my résumé?

Somebody please hire me. I am not Office Manager of a Small, Independently-Owned Interior Design Firm material. I realize that now. Unfortunately, this being the Bush administration, there are no obvious jobs for me to flee to, unless I want to be a telemarketer or pretend that I have 10+ years of litigation experience. I know people read this. I know some of you have jobs, and are in desperate need of acerbic co-workers. Please realize that if I don't get a better job (note: not a much better job, just a better job) soon, I will not be accountable for what I do to my supervisor.

Following are a list of "special skills" that are inappropriate to list on my résumé, but that employers have found invaluable throughout my various career attempts. At your convenience, browse through them and then put me on your payroll.

Telephone Skills - Not only do I have a pleasant speaking voice, but I have developed a number of distinct "characters" that come in handy when taking phone calls from customers, clients or creditors. These include, but are not limited to: sweet but naive new employee; polite yet aloof receptionist; thrilled-to-be-here customer service representative; dissident; and Vengeance Walks the Earth (a.k.a. "I need to speak with your manager").

Blind Loyalty - If you are providing me with a paycheck, then you have my utmost gratitude and unconditional subservience. As such, I will always take your side during arguments with co-workers, spouses or children. Additionally, I will gladly complete random tasks for you that you could've taken care of yourself, but didn't feel like doing. In the past, I have created effective online dating profiles for bosses who were "single and looking," picked up and dropped off pets for grooming and/or medical attention, and through intercepted phone calls (see Telephone Skills), creative distractions and bald-face lying, I successfully protected an employer from his psychotic, possibly homicidal ex-girlfriend.

A Sympathetic Ear and a Jaded Outlook - A lifetime of putting up with bohemians, insane family members and chemical dependents has conditioned me so that absolutely nothing freaks me out. Whatever drug of choice is hidden in your desk, whatever nekkidness you forgot to delete off your hard drive, I will not judge you. Additionally, should you need to lock me in your office and talk at length about your drug problem or porn addiction, I will listen sympathetically, and offer well-honed advice. And since you'll be my boss (see Blind Loyalty), you'll never have to worry that your dirty secrets will find their way into the secretarial pool.

Pest Control - Terrified of cockroaches? I'll kill them for you. I'm not going after anything that squeaks, but I'll take down the cockroaches, no problem.

Also, I timed myself yesterday, and it appears that I type 40 words per minute. That's good, right? Don't you want to hire me now?

Please...?

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

"I'm sarong and sari." -Ellen DeGeneres

I attended a sweat lodge this weekend. It was... well, sweaty. I could go on for awhile about the personal revelations that came to me while in the lodge, but instead, I want to discuss the miracle of the sarong.

A couple of the guys who attended the sweat opted to wear sarongs as opposed to say, cheat swimwear from Wal-Mart (my personal choice). I kept looking at them and thinking, "wow, they look really comfortable." When I mentioned this to my friend Sarah the next day, she said, "Why yes, they ARE comfortable," then dug through her closet, and handed me a multi-colored swath of fabric. "I never wear this," she said. "Why don't you take it?"

That evening, while lounging about the condo, I decided to try on said multi-colored swath of fabric, and Oh. My. God. I have never been so comfortable in my life. The cloth was so breathable, no underwear to ride up and lead to embarrassing crotch-clutchy situations... it was like heaven: 100% printed cotton heaven.

I spent the next day at work picking at my khaki slacks and thinking, "oh, how I wish I were in a sarong right now," and then I whiled away the rest of the afternoon perusing sarongs, kilts and men's skirts on the Internet. Jack feels that this is the onset of me turning into a drag queen, and he's made his peace with that. However, I would like to point out that while if I were a drag queen, I'd get to wear all the skirts I wanted, I would also be forced to wear panty hose, which I'm told is not so comfy. Also I would have to wear make-up and shave more than once every two days, which, frankly, is never going to happen. So no official drag for me. Which is a kind of a shame, because I'm really good at lip-syncing.

Friday, May 28, 2004

We haven't sprayed for bears

I picked up today's lunch at a local chain eatery, brought it back to the office, and devoured to my heart's content, only to find that after I was fully sated, I had a cup of fruit salad (eight tiny pieces of assorted melon plus two grapes) and a Trail Mix cookie (a thick oatmeal cookie with lots of extra crunchies and dried berries: fiberlicious!) left over. Thinking quickly, I placed the cookie - smartly wrapped in a small brown bag - and the fruit salad, still sealed in a disposable take-out container, on a counter in my office's cozy kitchenette, saying to myself, "Surely, because I work in an office, there is no need to protect my leftovers from wildlife."

A few hours passed, at which time I realized I was both hungry and sleepy. What to do? "But wait!" I said (I work by myself most days, so talking to myself is OK), "Don't I have a tasty cookie and a wholesome fruit cup a-waiting for me in the breakroom?" Pleased with the epiphany, I skipped back to the kitchenette to enjoy a fructose-intensive respite, only to find... ants. Freakin' ants everywhere. So many ants. The ants, though, being teensy but brainless animals, had not been able to find a way inside the paper bag containing the cookie. With a few brush strokes of the hand, I rescued my poor pastry, leaving the remaining six-legged squatters agitated and peckish. I then reached for the rest of my afternoon snack, and discovered... a bug. Inside the sealed, unopened fruit cup. Hopped up on fruit sugars and smacking itself against the clear plastic lid.

I opened the fruit cup, and the little bug spasmed out of it and flew away. I examined my melon and grapes for signs of insect excrement, but since I am not familiar with what said excrement looks or smells like, I ate the fruit anyway.

I'm not sure what the moral of this story is, other than if I ever get lost in the woods with a bunch of hikers, I'll be the first one to die from eating poisonous berries.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Road tripping for the sake of the children

Jack's youngest brother, Jake, e-mailed me a couple of days ago. Seems he's doing a PowerPoint presentation on poets for one of his classes, and wanted to know if he could include some of my work. So I'm totally honored: I have my first teenaged fan! I feel like such a pop icon right about now. When his teacher read some of my poems, though, she said they were too "vulgar" to be included. So now I'm thrilled. I feel like a pop icon AND J.D. Salinger.

Jake's teacher asked him how he found out about me, and he announced that he knew me personally: that in fact, I was his brother's partner, to which his teacher responded, "That's gross." Now, I really don't care one way or the other how she feels about my work (because small-town computer teachers make the best literary critics...), and honestly, I don't care what opinion she holds about my relationships. However, I am NOT amused that she would insult Jake's brother to his face. Not cool. Not cool at all. Here's my cunning plan: I'm going to wait until Jake's out of school for the semester (bitchy, ignorant teachers tend to take out their anger and resentments on their students), then contact the woman, explaining to her that she can have any opinion of me she wants, but her comments to Jake completely discredit her as an educator. I'm also going to strongly suggest, in order to "prevent further action," that she and her immediate supervisor apologize to Jake in writing.

If worse comes to worse, I'll bop on up to the Corpus Christi area and have a nice, sit-down chat with her in person. More than likely, it won't come to that, but I'm all geared up for it. Jack's ready to bring down the Lamda Legal Defense and the ACLU, but I'm thinking it can be handled a little more quietly (although no less effectively).

If I get killed by a group of rabid, homophobic, Southern high school teachers, though, I totally demand a national holiday. And a made-for-TV movie.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Notes to Self

Every once in awhile, I'll come across an off-beat online comic strip. Unfortunately, since I have an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder (every time I've ever been in therapy, I've forgotten to mention that I spent most of high school counting ceiling tiles), I have to dig through the online archives, find the very first strip, and then read the entire series. And let me tell you, no matter how cute the art is, or how endearing the characters are, or how witty the storylines get, I'm certifiable by the end of the experience. I just spent the last two days reading all 200-odd episodes of a Pagan-oriented strip called "Oh My Gods," and I am just spent. And grumpy. And also my eyes hurt.

Good strip, though. Worth checking out. Find it yourself.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Yeah, I know you don't know who they are

Just got off the phone with Michael Thomas Ford, and frankly, if I wasn't in a committed, long-term monogamous relationship, tomorrow morning would find me on a plane to San Francisco, nervously clutching a bouquet of roses and a box of Milk Bones for his dogs. I did my best to stick to my prepared interview questions, but we ended up tangenting and having a lovely conversation about gay spirituality, the Lambda Literary Awards, and what makes our pets randomly vomit.

Now, all I have to do is have coffee with David Sedaris (author and humorist), open for Suzanne Westenhoefer (famous lesbian comedian), and at some point, make out with Dean Coulter (gay pornstar) and/or Gina Gershon (what do you mean you never saw Showgirls?!) and my life will be complete.

Also, for the sake of convenience and the off-chance they might be reading this, I would be perfectly happy to make out with Gina and Dean at the same time, weather and scheduling conflicts permitting.

Never celebrate interviewing your favorite author with massive doses of caffeine and cigarettes; it totally adversely affects your journal entries.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

"That's where they keep the maids who steal."

I went to an open house last night, hosted by one of my company's clients. It was basically a showcase for her interior designer, so it was a pretty big affair. I usually don't get a chance to use words like "opulent," "sumptious," or "so obscenely wealthy it makes me want to vomit all over my cheap slacks" in the same sentence, so wow. In situations like this, I always start worrying that I reek of off-the-rack; like wealthy attendees will start wrinkling their noses and asking one another, "Do you smell lower-middle class? Quick, check your shoes..." To quote author Joe Keenan, I was horrified by the excess, and terrified of not fitting in.

I did get to mingle with some upper-crust types, though, so that was fun. I managed to slip a business card to a costume designer who just designed draperies for Robert Rodriguez, and I curtailed my alcohol intake to one glass of wine, so no slurry comments or off-color remarks bubbled out of my mouth. Except for the fact that this mansion is located in a gated community only blocks from my run-down condo, which made me feel like the friendly neighborhood squatter, a good time was had by all.

Favorite overheard conversation of the evening:

Jealous Socialite #1: "Is their wine cellar bigger than mine?!"
Jealous Socialite #2: "Yes."

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

It's problem, cause, SOLUTION, people

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately. Some of them are very, very funny, and others showcase interesting perspectives on society, and some... well, some are kind of bitchy. Don't get me wrong: I'm all for free expression and the healthy release of anger, but I'm getting a little tired of complaint without follow-through. That is, the mentality of "This given situation pisses me off; it's an annoyance that no one should have to put up with; however I have no imput as to solutions that would make this situation better; I just like ranting."

Maybe this comes from my forensics background, where the "Problem, Cause, Solution" model was drilled into my head through Persuasive Speaking and Program of Oral Interpretation. In those events, you identify a particular problem, explore the root causes, and offer feasible solutions. I wish there was a way to apply this model to some of the blogs I've come across. Unless the authors just like being in constant bad moods, in which case, the Internet is slowly turning into a passive-agressive pissing contest: " You think YOU'VE had a bad day? Well here's what happened to me today on the elevator..."

Overall, I think society in general could benefit from this. Angry Poets would still be able to rant about social injustice, but could follow up with a list of all the things they're going to do to work towards improvement of the situation. The Democrats could win the next election by working cohesively towards a common goal instead of just chanting "We want Bush out of office" and waiting for it to happen. Rush Limbaugh would implode. The world would be a beautiful place, my little friends.

(Ed. note: yes, I have posted bitchy, whiny journal entries in the past, so this entry is both hypocritical and self-righteous. Thanks for noticing!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Something to ponder

How do you ask your favorite cartoonist to collaborate on a project with you, without sounding like an opportunist or a stalker?

Friday, April 09, 2004

Listen carefully to hear Red Delicious' head explode

I just received my next writing assignment from OutSmart Magazine: interviewing Michael Thomas Ford (a gay humorist/essayist; the source of the majority of my forensics pieces; my idol) about his newest book. As if that wasn't enough to give me an aneurism, the editors gave me all the relevant contact info and were like, "Have at it." So now I'm calling his publicist in New York, leaving Very Important Messages, etc. I feel so grown up, I could just plotz.

In other news... wait, there is no other news. I get to call up one of my favorite authors and have a nice chat about literary things. Here's my secret, cunning plan: MTF is going to be so impressed with my professionalism and earnestness, he's going to give me his address and say, "Drop by next time you're in San Fran," and I'll be all, "Sure thing, Michael Thomas Ford!" And then when I write my first novel, he'll endorse it, and I'll win the Lambda Literary Award, and in 50 years, we'll sit on the front porch of the Retirement Village for Gay Writers of the Early 21st Century and talk about times past, and how our friendship has been such a grounding influence all throughout our lives.

Yeah, good times.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Now with more kvetching!

Poetry has been pissing me off of late. Actually let me clarify that. The poetry isn't pissing me off: the poets are pissing me off. I know I'm overly-sensitive to begin with, and I can be quite idealistic at times, but c'mon, guys. Argh. Spit spit spit.

A couple of weeks ago, I competed in another poetry slam, attempting to get qualified for the Houston-area Slam Off, where people compete for a slot on the Houston Slam Team. I gave an okay performance in the first round, with a high enough score to bump me into the second round; in that round, I took the top score. Unfortunately, my cumulative score was not enough to get me into the finals round; had I made the finals, I would've automatically qualified for the Slam Off. And you know what? That's okay. I'm still relatively new at this, so I'm not always going to bring the house down. What got to me, though, was that the three finalists were already qualified. They were just competing for the sheer joy of it, I guess, which is understandable, except for the fact that everyone I've ever talked to from the Houston Team says they want more people involved, more awareness of slam in general, etc. But if the same people qualify every year, and then continue competing in "official" slams, thus preventing other poets from qualifying, isn't that in direct contradiction of their goals?

I think part of the problem, for me, is that slam reminds me too much of forensics (intercollegiate competitive speaking, not dead people). I was okay in forensics. I usually ended up in finals rounds at local and statewide tournaments, and I always managed to qualify events for the national tournament. Unfortunately, competition brings out ugly things in me, and I spent the better part of my forensics career bitter, resentful and jealous. After I graduated and began coaching, those feelings intesified, to where I was constantly pissed off at my students for not listening to me, and pissed off at the other coaches I worked with for second-guessing me, or at least not backing me up.

I started going to poetry slams because I liked the idea of returning to competitive performance, but under my own direction and jurisdiction. Unfortunately, I'm not really getting anything out of it, other than reminders of the dark side of forensics, coupled with the "you suck" factor. See, in forensics, the competitors are, for the most part, professional with each other. People may absolutely loathe you and everything you do, but during a tournament, those people will at least pay attention when you perform, and clap politely when you finish. Not so much in slam. At two separate slams, I've had people come up to me to tell me what they thought I did wrong, or what they didn't like about my poems. Which would be great, you know, HAD I ASKED FOR FUCKING FEEDBACK, but I hadn't. I know when I give a crappy performance, and I know when I'm facing a less-than-ideal judging pool, and I know how to tell the difference. I do not need people to give me unsolicited advice on how I'd be so much better if I'd just perform the way they do. You know what? I'm actually publshed, bitches, so slam that! Rahr! RAHR!!!

*Whew* That felt good. Catharsis can be so cleansing. Um...so, yeah. I'll be less snarly next time, promise. If attending my first seder taught me anything, it's that instead of succumbing to bitterness, we should use it to grow stronger (and then we ate horseradish, which I don't really think of as a bitter herb. But then, I'm just a Gentile fagala, so what do I know?).

Not Unemployed! Kind of!

Depression is not a pretty thing, especially when it's not chemical. While I've always suffered from mood swings, anger-management issues, etc., I've never really been depressed before. Totally sucks, it does.

Lobo Bookshop and Café officially went out of business on February 11, 2004. It was the last true gay and lesbian bookstore in the city. I sank into an abyssmal state, because I was suddenly unemployed... again... but also because a major hub of the Houston gay community was gone forever. Gathering my wits, I did what any artist worth his Epsom salts does, and filed for unemployment, only to learn that because I only worked at Lobo for two months of the last fiscal year, and because previous to that I worked for a religious nonprofit, I am COMPLETELY INELIGIBLE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Nyet. Smackdown. Pick up on total suckage part the second.

Granted, I had a little bit of cash coming in from freelance articles, and Jack's doing well at his new job (ad sales and marketing for OutSmart Magazine), so it wasn't like I was destitute or anything. Mainly, I just had nothing to do. I went on several interviews, and some seemed promising, but inevitably, none worked out (although my favorite was the anonymous communications firm that strung me along for months by telling me I had a job with them as soon as one particular temp finished his last project, then called me up to say they hired the temp full time; yeah, that was a happy little kidney punch).

Salvation reared it's musty head in the form of my buddy Jhonny (pronounced like the New Age musician), who got me a job with his best friend from second grade (gotta love those lifelong friendships: excellent for networking and starfucking). Now, I am the office manager for a locally-owned... um, interior decorating firm. Not that there's anything wrong with that: it's just another really gay job on my increasingly sequined résumé. To date, I've sold all-natural skin and hair care (and had to give makeovers to twelve-year-old girls: I made them all look like Jodie Foster's character in "Taxi Driver"), run the video porn section of a GLBT bookstore, and worked as a houseboy/maintenance man for an order of Catholic priests. All I need now is a stint as a professional drag queen, or maybe a high-priced rent boy, and I'll have collected them all, you know?

The new job's okay, though. I have, like, no responsibilities, other than answering the phone and occasional filing. I spend an average of 6 hours a day alone in an office, so I've managed to get work done on a lot of other projects. And my bosses (Ricky and Lucy: I swear I'm not making that up) are very cool people who fight like a married couple but take me out for margaritas on Monday nights.

Overall, things are okay. Not great or mindblowing, but slowly getting better. If anything, I'm glad I'm pulling myself out of the depression rut without the use of controlled substances...

...which I couldn't get a hold of anyway: I owe my psychiatrist, like, $400.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Cat owner. Four letters.

You know what I love more than warm Pop-Tarts (tm) on a frosty morning? When a web site offers challenging, entertaining word games with simple, unassuming graphics for years and years, and then one fateful day, changes their format, replacing said games with hyped-up, loud, neon-intensive "games" with no discernable rules (just keep clicking... you'll know when you've lost). And then, this wonderful resource of a web site feels the need to publish a "letter from the editor" on it's front page in response to the deluge of hate mail received over the loss of these games, explaining how the new "games" are much more entertaining than the old ones ever were. Yeah, I just love that.

I have no proof, but I'm sure that ClearChannel Communications is somehow behind this.

In completely unrelated news: Cats don't like potted meat. I'm out of cat food, and the significant other won't be home with more cat food until after class (which is okay, on account of he promised to bring me vegetarian burritos), so I skipped down to the neighborhood Quickie Mart in search of a cat food substitute, because my cats are acting like they've been roaming in the desert for 40 days with nothing but their faith and self-importance to keep them alive. I found a little can of potted meat, which included as ingredients "mechanically separated chicken" (yum!) and "beef tripe" (tasty!). But I figured, hey, they're cats, right? They'll eat anything as long as it tastes like something that grazes. Well, they ate it, but after much looking in their bowl, then looking at me, then looking at each other, then looking at the bowl (repeat).

Hey, I had hot n' spicy peanuts for dinner, okay? They need to quit the snivelling and chow down. Potted meat doesn't grow on trees... um, well, I think some of the ingredients do... but whatever. They got food, dammit, with much less ash and nitrates than in regular cat food. They should be grateful.

And if you'll excuse me, I believe two of my finicky babies are puking on the carpet.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Things I've learned while trying to cook

If you replace a pound of ground beef with two cups of hydrated textured vegetable protein, you can turn a box of Hamburger Helper into a vegetarian feast.

Also, a smashed up piece of chocolate cheesecake smeared over a couple of waffles is a poor substitute for maple syrup.