Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Future Blows My Mind

Arthur C. Clarke said,
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

So if you were to take a time machine to the dark ages and hand them an iPod they would worship it as a magical singing talisman way after the batteries ran out.

This, of course, after they burn you at the stake for being a witch.


I worked as a carpet cleaner in 2000, during what I lovingly refer to as my lost year. I quit school, and had to fend for myself. A friend suggested carpet cleaning because it paid really well. He had applied and thought it'd be great if I worked there too. Only he didn't get hired and I did.

I was excited because of all the money I stood to make, and unlike everyone else working there I had no obigations to anyone but myself so all the money was profit in my head.

I knew on my first day I was going to quit. It was just a matter of when.

I hated every day of it. Waking up at 5am so I could get there at 8am. Driving all day. The actual carpet cleaning wasn't bad but it required hustle I just couldn't muster. Every day I'd be partnered with a different person. There was the wisened elder statesman of the group, who was the king of the salesmen but a poor conversationalist. He refused to drive the van at all and heaven help you if you changed the radio station. Then there were the young guys. Really great guys who married young for whatever reason and worked their asses off. It shocked me to find out one of them was two years younger than me and already had two kids.

Then there was one weird guy no one wanted to work with. I called him Odd Duck. Usually he worked alone and I can tell you that is tough work. The boss put me with him several times so he could train me. This guy had the worst interpersonal skills coupled with the best of intentions. We'd talk movies and actors and he would ask questions like, "If you were stranded in a deserted island with (ACTOR X) and there was no hope anyone coming to rescue you, would you sleep with him?"

I told him I don't answer dumb questions, but he'd press it for hours. I began to understand why he worked alone.

Once we got done early and he asked me if it would be okay for us to do one last job for the day for a family member. It was a no pay deal. I wasn't doing anything so I said yes. We drove to a little gated community (it wasn't as fancy as that name implies). We were to clean the carpet of his ex-sister-in-law's house. I didn't ask questions, it was none of my business, but I could make out the story from what they said to each other and from the things in the house itself. It was a fresh divorce, there were still pictures of the happy couple hanging on walls and in the closets neatly hung and pressed were men's shirts. By the way he kept repeating her name during conversation I sensed a hint of longing on his part. She was nice for the little time I met her, but she wasn't really with us there in the room. When we were done he said he was sorry it had taken longer than he thought and he thanked me.

A few days later Odd Duck asked me if I wanted to team up on a regular basis. That day was my second to last.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hypno Bedhead and his Cabinet of Curiosities

"I feel as though I am in some sort of cocoon right at the moment.
What will come out of it? I don't know, but whatever it is,
I hope it has big effing teeth.
The better to bite people with."

That's my mantra for the moment. Although I don't repeat it over and over again. I write it on every little scrap of paper, cocktail napkin, post it note, etc. I do this all the time, I latch onto a phrase and write it everywhere. I open Word on my computer and I type it as big as it'll fit on the page completely and then I find the best font for it out of the 50 million I have.

This is what I do instead of writing.

When I asked my favorite screenwriting teacher if my procrastination spelled doom for my career she told me, "That's how I know you're a writer."

I'm hoping I'll be doing this instead of my usual procrastination methods. Although in my pursuit of the best looking mantra I can make I have taught myself Photoshop in record time (Word wasn't doing it for me anymore neither in amount of time wasted nor design-wise).

Any writing is better than none, right? Right?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Can't See the Forest for the Trees.

A homeless girl approached me at the train station. Her eyes were glassy and she was missing her front teeth. She looked like someone had dropped a third world orphan in the city. "Excuse me?" she said.
"No," I said.
"You don't even know what I was gonna ask."
I said to her, "You were gonna ask me for 30 cents." She looked at me, shocked, like I looked into her most private hell and drew it out for all to see.

She was so out of it she couldn't remember she'd already asked me for 30 cents not even five minutes prior. It felt like I broke something. Hearing the exact number might have been too much for her and in that moment she realized some truth she couldn't face. She went away embarrased. I hadn't meant to be mean.

This city will break your heart if you let it.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Wisdom Teeth/Little Gray Men Connection

Wisdom teeth are so called because they come so late in life. The term probably comes from the time when to be twenty-five was to be oldest bastard in the tribe. Back in the days before regular flossing and brushing, wisdom teeth came in handy in case your others rotted away. Nowadays, not so useful. Mine were coming in impacted, which in this case means my wisdom teeth were coming in sideways towards my back molars. They would keep me up at night, not with pain, but with a pressure against my back teeth.

The dentist decided to remove all my wisdom teeth at the same time, which meant putting me under. Partway through I woke up. I was still numb but I could feel people touching my mouth and I could hear them. There was a white paper sheet over my face and a bright lamp pointed right at me. The team of dentists working on me looked like shapeless white blobs and I was so zonked out I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

Then the thought struck me. This has to be how alien abduction stories began. Bright lights, unable to move, people probing you, unintelligible language…it all adds up. Some yokel out in Devil’s Rectum, Middle O’ Nowhere gets drunk out in the woods, passes out and then has flashbacks of having his wisdom teeth pulled out. Eventually it becomes local lore, and then national, and then the X-Files comes along and elevates it to cultural phenomenon.