The Unbearable Banishment: June 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Try This At Home

Here’s a fun swimming pool activity you might want to try:

Swim over to the deep end and blow all the air out of your lungs. You’ll sink like a stone. Sit on the bottom of the pool and don’t move. Do you know what you hear underneath 10 feet of water? Nothing. You can’t hear a 2-Year Old screech or the unrelenting demands of a 6-Year Old or the gentle “suggestions” from a caring in-law. It’s a really peaceful moment until you need air. Then it gets a bit uncomfortable.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dolphins Aren’t So Smart After All

We took a short drive out to Sea Bright early Saturday morning to look at about a dozen bottlenose dolphins who took a wrong turn. Instead of going out to sea, they wound up swimming in circles in the Navesink River. Nobody knows if they’ll make it back out to sea or not. So sad. The Daughters were thrilled, though. It might not be such a big deal if you live in Miami, but if you live along the Jersey shore you don’t get to see a school of dolphins all that often. They’re big beautiful fish.

The really angry part was watching the local moron boating and jet ski community run roughshod over the area and hassle the dolphins trying to get a closer look. People never fail to disappoint me with their stupidity and selfishness.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hot Town

There’s no heat in hell to match midtown Manhattan during a summer scorcher. The sun’s blister bounces off the steel and glass and is magnified down to the street. The subway keeps the sidewalks cooking from underneath. It’s like taking a casual stroll on the surface of Mercury. It’s humid and bad for your hair and unless you enjoy the feeling of your underwear sticking to your ass, there’s not much to like about it. It smells pretty bad and people walk with a bit more head-down determination than normal.

Fortunately, there is refuge. Dotted all over town are quiet, cool rooftop bars. Check the nicer hotels. There, you can watch the sun set over New Jersey and sip a Ketel One and cranberry (or three) which, I admit, is a bit of a girly drink, but they’re so refreshing that I can’t resist. J and I paid a visit to the High Top, a rooftop on 8th Avenue and 48th Street, and ordered some (very expensive) hamburgers. We talked about the surface stuff first and by the third round we finally got to the good stuff. I like it when she slaps me around and calls me a big whiner. It’s sobering. And I think she enjoys it. I believe it's a warm-up for her husband. After that, we took a trip to the Cosmic Diner on 52nd Street. Apple pie and a cup o' decaf for me, chocolate cake and a tall glass of cold milk for her. It’s the fuel you need to survive the heat.

Friday, June 27, 2008

All Booked Up

I keep a running list of books that I read throughout the year. My memory chips have been scorched by my early years of overzealous weed consumption and keeping a list prevents me from reading the same book twice. That would be funny if it weren’t true. Looking back, I see that in 2005 I made it through 23 books. Not too bad. Then, in 2006, a friend gave me an iPod as a birthday gift. Thanks to that new addiction, the number of books I read for that year was reduced to 16.

Here we are in 2008 and I have introduced this idiot blog into the mix. Add to that the New York Times every day and two daughters who are getting old enough to require ever-increasing amounts of my time and I am struggling to keep up the pace. I look up at my bookshelf, see the unread copy of Crime and Punishment and realize that if I started it this evening, I might not finish it until sometime in 2010. I miss getting lost in a story.

If you’re not vigilant, it will slip away.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Prize in Every Box

In the summer, the theater community here in NYC takes a holiday. The only plays in town until the Fall are stale Broadway productions that have been grinding on year after year. Casts change and although the show is still running, it's often just a shadow of what it was on opening night. One of the greatest shows I've ever seen, August: Osage County, just lost their principal actors, so that's that. Many shows start gimmick casting. They hire B-list actors and TV sit com stars to draw the out-of-towners and the morbidly curious. "Taylor Hicks to Make Broadway Debut in Grease!" Barf.

The exceptions to this rule are the small, intimate, experimental plays. These are shows that barely find financing and are produced in non-traditional theaters that are off the beaten path. They can either be an unexpected delight or so bad that they're painful to watch. CB and I saw one last night, Still The River Runs, at the Center Stage theater. The Center Stage is a black box (an actual term) on 21st Street that you access by taking a tiny elevator to the 4th floor of a building that has more to do with light industry than it does theater. It's not terribly comfortable. You sit in folding chairs, the lights are bare and hang just above your head, but it's a pure form of theater.

I'm relieved to report that the show was a lot of fun. CB and I both enjoyed it. (I should mention that he has higher standards than I do and is harder to please. I'm a pushover.) It's a dark comedy about two rednecks and a stolen corpse. Two very fine actors do the entire show themselves, including the set changes during the scene intervals. They manage to do an awful lot of storytelling with little more at their disposal than a few props and some raw talent and energy.

The little shows are nice, but it's also interesting to go to Broadway and see what can be done with a bloated budget. And I don't mean tossing money away on Taylor Hicks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Some Advice for the Young & Ambitious

Every spring, The New York Times publishes highlights from the various commencement addresses given around the country. They print a few paragraphs from the famous and notables who impart their wisdom to the graduating masses. It’s one of my favorite annual features.

That nitwit Clarence Thomas gave the commencement address at High Point University and in it, he said the following:

Let me first confess that I am no good at telling people what to think or how to live their lives.

Pardon me, but isn't that EXACTLY what the Supreme Court purports to do? He is a small, silly man who wound up with a very important job. J.K. Rowling gave the commencement address at Harvard and her comments were the best by far. Take a moment and read this. It's worth your time.

By any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.

I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

It’s enough to give you hope, isn’t it?

Is That How I Sound To You? Part Deux

Someone in the UK posted a link to my blog as recommended reading, which is VERY flattering, but they said that I “moan just a wee bit” meaning, I suppose, that I moan quite a lot. Hummm, thought I. So I went back and reread some of my posts and do you know what? He’s absolutely 100% correct! I am a colossal moaner and complainer. How about that! Cone to think of it, I’ve always been a bit of a misanthrope. I might have a genetic predisposition that leans towards melancholy. In the past, some girls have mistaken my moaning for charm. I believe Mrs. Wife might have done that at first, but I don’t think she finds it charming any longer. Well, I’m not going to stop my bitchin’, that’s for sure. As though I could!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Multiple Choice

Let's say it's a Sunday in June. In fact, let's say it's the first Sunday of the summer. Pretty nice out. You have some options. Which of these to do you choose:

a. You live near the Jersey shore and have some very nice beaches at your disposal. You hop on the Garden State Parkway, pick an exit and before you know it, you're wiggling your toes in the sand while The Daughters hunt for sea shells.

b. You drive into New York City to attend the Make Music New York festival. You select one of the hundreds of outdoor performances that are part of a day that spotlights the city's rich mixture of musical taste.

c. You have in-laws who have a spectacular built-in pool in their back yard. It's never crowded. It's quiet. There's a very comfortable floating mattress. You even have a mother-in-law who will occasionally hand you a fudge pop as you float by.

d. You get a steam cleaner and you spend the day cleaning every carpet in the house. Your hands become raw from repeatedly spilling carpet cleaning solvent all over them and your back hurts from lugging a steam cleaner up and down two staircases.

Answer: It's d, of course! What are you, a complete idiot? Don't you want clean carpets?!

Friday, June 20, 2008


Here are all the ingredients necessary for a spontaneous, informal, very productive therapy session:

1 good friend who is willing to listen to your blubbering and has a few troubles of her own to spill.
1 dram of Balblair scotch, served in a snifter with a small porcelain picture of water on the side.
1 bottle of Hoegaarden beer.
1 plate of fresh fruit and cheese.

Serve at St. Andrews, the only Scottish joint in town, by a young Scot wearing a kilt and brandishing a Highlands accent. Mix it up. Drink it down. Pour it out. Lay it on thick. The next thing you know, not only do your troubles seem conquerable, but some of them suddenly appear to look downright silly.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Have Some Bad News: I Think My Daughter Might Be Straight

6-Year Old Daughter had a play date with her boyfriend from kindergarten the other day. She carries a very Disney-fied notion of what romance is all about. After he went home, she told Mrs. Wife, “Guess what, mom! My plan worked! He’s in love with me!”

As her father, I find this to be disturbing and unwelcomed news. I don’t want her to have anything whatsoever to do with men because, frankly, men are creeps. I speak from experience. We are all after the same thing, and I can assure you that once we get it, we move on to the next same thing. I don’t want some dirty little punk pulling into my driveway in a beat up Trans Am that’s leaking oil, beep the horn and expect her to run out to the car because he’s too cool to come into the house and face me. And God forbid she falls for a musician! Those guys tend to have an endless supply of women at their disposal and a lot of their women end up disposed of.

My plan is to try and steer both my daughters into a gay lifestyle. Women are respectful to one another and have a quiet dignity. Having a woman knock on my front door looking for my daughter(s) is a hell of a lot easier for me to take than the nightmare I described above. So far, I have failed miserably but I’m thinking of taking her to the Women’s Rights Anniversary celebration or a Melissa Etheridge concert this summer. That could provide a push in the right direction.

* * *

I was standing in line at Citibank to deposit some checks and I heard I Confess by the English Beat coming out of the speakers overhead. That’s one of my all-time favorite songs by one of my all-time favorite bands! What does that mean? Is Citibank trying to raise their hip quotient or am I becoming so old and decrepit that I’m starting to enjoy muzak? I just got a chill as I typed that last sentence.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Funeral for a Friend

A computer is like life itself; you tend to take it for granted until it’s snuffed out. The old Dell desktop finally gave up the ghost. Imagine what life would be like if you suddenly and unexpectedly had your computer snatched away from you. The horror. I saw the blue screen of death and the next thing I knew I was in Best Buy being cradled and consoled by a chubby member of the Geek Squad. It could have been repaired, but the cost was approaching that of a new computer and the thing was already six years old. And so it goes. It’s the circle of life! That chubby bastard is charging me $160 to have the data transferred from the dead Dell to the newly-born HP. There's nothing sadder than losing an old friend forever.

The biggest heartache is not the fact that we’ll have to waste untold hours acclimating ourselves to the power-sucking horror show that is Windows Vista, it’s the fact that I can no longer attend a critically important rare book auction taking place on Thursday at Bloomsbury. The assets that were earmarked for the auction have been deferred to Best Buy. I already have a paddle in hand and had my eye on a snappy first edition of Wait Until Spring, Bandini, by John Fante and The Man Within by Graham Greene but that dream, like the old Dell, is dead, dead, dead.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Is That How I Sound To You?

I was one of the 16 people in America who watched the Tony Awards last night. I found most of it to be mildly amusing but some of the acceptance speeches were a bit nauseating. It was like listening to the thespian dweebs from high school gush about their “craft.” Mary Louise Parker, who is my pretend girlfriend, presented the award for best ak-tor in a play. When announcing the nominees, instead of saying Macbeth, she said The Scottish Play. Now, I’ve had some exposure to that community and I knew was she was up to, but it struck me as being an incredibly pretentious thing to do on national TV. And she wasn’t backstage; she was standing front and center at a podium. She didn’t see it, but I rolled my eyes. I think I’m going to have to have a pretend break up with her.

Other winners spoke a bit too long and lovingly about New York. I mean, Jesus Christ, it’s just a city for cryin’ out loud. I was mortified to realize that I might come off sounding the same way in this stupid blog when I prattle on endlessly about living here. So now I’ve developed a creeping paranoia about sounding like a high school dweeb getting an award every time I write about the city. Image is everything. I have a reputation to protect. I’ll tone it down a bit.

* * *

Father’s Day is the most unlikely holiday for me. I never thought I’d be on the receiving end of it, that’s for sure. Particularly at my age. 6-Year Old Daughter gave me a painted rock paperweight, a bookmarker with her picture on it and a bunch of coupons. I have coupons that entitle me to a back scratch, for some help washing the car, a hug, to have a story read to me, etc. I might have her read me a Bukowski poem.

Daddy’s got a few corners that don’t get much light.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

An Uncommon Woman

I wish you knew H or had someone like her in your life. She radiates joy and has good wishes for you. She’d dip everyone in a big vat of warm hugs if she could. Pretty much the antithesis of me.

Two important things happened to H. First, she just graduated from NYU’s nursing program. She left a career as an account exec at Brand This! because it was cold and lacked soul. She entered an accelerated program two years ago and just finished with honors. NYU is a tough school so that’s not an easy thing to accomplish.

Second, H turned 40. She decided that these two events weren’t going to pass uncelebrated, so she threw herself a fete on Saturday night. Mrs. Wife and I drove through a biblical rainstorm to be there. She bought out the private room at The Havana Room on E. 76th St. Miss H is a damn fine singer, so she had a few very talented hired guns play and she was the entertainment. People were encouraged to take a turn on stage. In her typical unselfish way, she didn’t want it to be just the H show. Her open bar policy led to a general lack of inhibitions and there were many fantasies fulfilled that night. Deep down, who doesn’t want to be on stage in front of a live, loud band?

Miss H and her friend, also a lovely singer, sang a duet, which led to my favorite bit of stage patter:

“This is my friend, Z. Years ago we took tae kwon do lessons together and we’ve just graduated together. So we can kick your ass, but then we’ll bandage you. And sing to you.”

And she fed us, too. Congrats, H. And thanks.

A Startling Revelation

A shocking article on the front page of today’s New York Times reveals that Gay Couples Find Marriage Is a Mixed Bag. You have GOT to be friggin’ KIDDING ME! Those blabbermouths at the Times! Okay, you caught us. We in the heterosexual community have conspired to keep this small but important detail regarding marriage from gay couples. Guess what? Marriage is a shitload of work. Here’s my favorite quote from the article by Jacob Venter, a 44-year-old child psychiatrist who recently married:

“Nothing turns out the way you imagine...”

Dear Gay Community: Please refrain from revealing your charming, innocent, cluelessness all over the front page of my Sunday paper. You caused me to do a spit-take with my coffee.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor

Just a reminder that the Tony Awards are on tomorrow night. What’s that? Not the least bit interested? Well, that’s understandable, but not to worry. Just click over to BBC America and instead of watching a dreary award show featuring a bunch of plays you’ll never see, you can see a fascinating documentary called Britain’s Worst Teeth.

Britain’s Worst Teeth follows four twenty-somethings with some of the worst teeth in Britain. Their teeth are so bad they affect every aspect of their lives. They are in pain and are embarrassed to go out. They find eating and speaking difficult, and not surprisingly, they find it difficult to attract partners.

Not surprisingly, indeed! On second thought, maybe the Tonys aren’t so bad after all.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Find Your Oasis

The past few weeks have been a rough go for a number of reasons. Issues at work. Issues at home. My issues have issues. Someone a lot smarter than me said that the universe was biting at my ankles. Boy, that’s the truth! The last thing I needed was the Friday night crush at Penn Station, so after work I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to find some peace of mind.

If I’m in the right mood (a state of extreme agitation or vulnerability) a trip to an art museum can really knock me on my ass. Edward Hopper is the undisputed master of sunlight and human isolation. And that goddamn van Gogh still, after all these years of overexposure, gets to me every time. It was a pretty evening so I went up to the roof to look at the fun Jeff Koons balloon sculptures. I bought an ice cold bottle of Corona for dinner ($7) and looked over Central Park and 5th Avenue. It was also the first time I saw Damien Hirst’s 10 foot great white shark floating in a tank of blue formaldehyde. I wonder what they paid for it?

The Impressionist galleries are always crowded, as are the modern galleries, but The Met is like a bee hive and you can always find some little nook if you need to be alone to think. I walked into a small, dark, quiet room and was surrounded by these beautiful back lit medieval stained glass windows that are on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It was a nice moment and then some stupid woman with her ape boyfriend in tow walked in, looked around and loudly announced, “There’s nothing in this room!” They turned around and walked out. How could she not see? It could have been worse. She could have stayed.

My beer dinner wore off so I had a gyro at Gyro II across from Penn Station. Always a culinary delight. Smell me.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pay No Attention to the Idiot Sitting at the Keyboard

Someone gave me a pair of tickets to the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss concert last night. For free! What a score! Unfortunately, I later found out I that couldn’t go and had to pass them on to someone else. Boy, were they happy! I had to race home after work because Mrs. Wife needed to attend a P.T.A. meeting and I had to put the kiddies to bed.

I just deleted a paragraph that was a shrill screed about how the suburbs will suck all the fun out of your life if you allow it to happen. I swore that my irritation had nothing whatsoever to do with not being able to attend the concert. Not going was, in fact, a metaphor for Much Bigger Issues. Then I reread my screed, turned to face myself and had to admit that I was just whining like a little bitch because I couldn’t go to the concert. Do you ever do that? Catch yourself being stupid? So embarrassing.

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.

Wm. Shakespeare

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dumped Again

On a 1-10 scale with 1 being a Zen-like state of tranquility and 10 being a murderous climb-to-the-top-of-a-tower-with-a-high-caliber-rifle blood-red rage, where would you place a bad haircut? I suppose it would depend on how much of a narcissist you were. It probably shouldn’t count for much, right?

After five years of perfection, Jenny unexpectedly left the hair salon without a word of warning. She left me in the hands of a butcher. The Demon Barber of Route 35. Two months ago, Jenna, my masseuse, left the spa unexpectedly as well. Neither of those two trollops left a forwarding address. How much dumping can one man take in such a short period of time and not snap? Do you have any idea how time consuming and expensive it is to brainwash someone into delivering a consistently perfect haircut? And don’t get me started on training a new masseuse! Jenna knew just where I ached. I jest with Mrs. Wife that getting a massage is the only legitimate way I can get another woman to put her hands on me and not have it result in divorce proceedings. Celebrating 10 years of fidelity. Do you think that was easy? For either of us?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fresh Meat

The daylight lingers a bit longer and a warm breeze blows down 5th Avenue. At Benevolent Dictators, Inc. that can only mean one thing: the summer intern season is finally here! You see them in the elevators and roaming the halls. Young, fresh faced fraternity robots and sorority chippies who bubble over with enthusiasm and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. New ties and cuff links for the fellas and a smart new Talbots wardrobe for the gals. They’ve spent their entire lives within the protective confines of a classroom (except for an occasional backpacking sojourn across Europe). It’s all they know! Their innocence is equal parts touching and nauseating. Theirs is the unsullied outlook of a people who haven’t been torched by reality yet, bless them.

If you see one approaching your desk to pick your brain, it’s best to hunker down underneath it and pretend you’re away at a meeting. Otherwise, be prepared to get trapped in a dull, time-sucking discussion about which of our investment vehicles are focus products and why.

Not a joke: Yesterday I rode the elevator down with two young, strapping bucks and one said to the other, without the slightest hint of irony or sarcasm, “If I had a rough night I could always just skip a class and sleep in, but this place expects you to be here every day!”

That’s right, junior. Every. Fucking. Day.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I Got the News

I was summoned to a conference room this afternoon. My boss sat across a table and said, “I have a script I’m supposed to follow.” “Ah,” thought I. “Here it comes.” And I got it, alright. But I didn’t get what I thought I was going to get. There’s a lot of administrative details that are too dull to mention but the gist of the meeting was that Benevolent Dictator, Inc. is asking me to stop job hunting and stay with the company. Big Bosswoman said she’s confident they’re done firing people—excuse me—reducing headcount. They want me to hang around for the rebuilding and they are offering me a retention bonus to not leave. It’s a pretty thick check, too. It’s payable after 90 days. They feel that after 90 days, the ship will have righted itself and they want to insure that I don’t head for zee hills in the interim.

I was a high school loser. Ask anyone who was there. I never had a girlfriend. Didn’t go to my prom. My grades were so bad that I couldn’t get into a university. I never took my SATs. There was no point. After all my friends disappeared into academia, I spent two years anesthetizing myself with as much weed as I could lay my hands on. I pumped gas. Tore movie tickets in half. Mowed lawns on the medians of strip malls. Made sandwiches at a deli. I got dumped a lot. My lost years. To go from that mess to being offered a retention bonus by an investment bank is an arc I never could have imagined. I am the poster child for late bloomers.

Party time.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hail to the Chief?

Well, thank God that’s over. I wonder how the Dems will fuck it up this time? They have a knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Perhaps Mr. Obama will lose his mind and select Dennis Rodman or The Reverend Wright as his running mate. I hope not, although it would make for some entertaining debates.

* * *

Today is the 51st Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan.


Friday, June 6, 2008

yo yo yo

I went to Brooklyn for dinner this evening. I visited my old friend Oswaldo in my old neighborhood, Fort Greene. This will come as a shock everyone who thinks I’m just a lily white pretender from an Ohio suburb, but I actually have some street cred. I moved to Fort Greene in 1989. At that time I was the only white person in my building and, in fact, one of a small handful of Caucasians in the neighborhood. The neighborhood was pretty raw—I was mugged twice—but I chose to live there because I could afford an apartment on my own.

The neighborhood has been gentrified since then. There are glass and steel high rise apartment buildings that look idiotic and out of place amongst the beautiful, well kept, brownstones that were built in the 1800s. There is now a balance of moneyed whites and the original black residents with a smattering of Latinos. We had dinner at The Smoke Joint. I had a half rack of spare ribs and some collard greens. They were really nice.

All throughout dinner Oswaldo lamented the change in the neighborhood. He has been in his apartment —a small studio in a brownstone—for 30 years. He’s seen it all. He said that the new white professionals who have been buying up brownstone for $1M+ and pushing expensive strollers up and down South Portland Avenue are an unfriendly bunch. He said they don’t talk to you and will look at you in a way that makes you feel like you don’t belong in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s exaggerating. He said, “And what is it with white people and dogs? Can you explain to me why they all have to have dogs in the city?” I said, “I don’t understand it, either. I’ve never been much of a dog person.” He said, “That’s because you’re not white.” which I took to be a compliment.

There are a few different subway lines that will take you to downtown Brooklyn but I waited for a B train specifically because instead of passing under the East River, it goes over the Manhattan Bridge and affords you some pretty nice views of the harbor. I saw the Statue of Liberty floating around out there. As soon as we came out of the subway tunnel into the open air, a few passengers fired up their cell phones to make quick calls before ducking back underground. It spoiled the atmosphere. Fortunately, cell phone service on the train suddenly and inexplicably went out. I took the same line back but had to change cars because the one I initially boarded smelled like urine.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


This morning I came up from the Penn Station spider hole and merged into the head-down crush of humanity flowing across 34th St. We were all chasing paychecks; running to our unimportant, necessary jobs. When I got to Herald Square I stopped for a moment to look up and admire the way the sun hit the Empire State Building. I turned up 6th Avenue, walked through Bryant Park, fought my way across 42nd St. and up 5th Avenue. My iPod shuffle first selected Keep Yourself Alive by Queen, then Bummed Out City by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros and then Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed. It, literally, gave me a chill. How did this stupid little hunk of metal and plastic know that these songs would be so perfect?

All you people
Keep yourself alive

We're in Bummed Out City
So come on, let's operate

A hustle here and a hustle there
New York City is the place where

That thing is intuitive to the point of being creepy.

* * *

Paranoia is rampant at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. Everyone has whipped puppy syndrome. People huddle together in small groups of two and three and hold whispered conversations. There are lots of sideways glances. When someone talks on the phone, they cup the mouthpiece in their hand so that no one can hear what they’re saying. When someone’s cell phone rings, they look to see who it is and quickly get up from their desk and move to a secluded spot. I just taught a Vice President how to use a jump drive and download her Outlook contacts.

* * *

My headhunter phoned this afternoon. “Are you sure you don’t want to take this position? You might be able to grow it into something different.”

I’m sure.

* * *

When I was a teenager, while scrutinizing my face in the mirror, I mistook my tear duct for a blackhead and squeezed it. Now THERE’S a mistake I haven’t made twice.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Storm Clouds on the Horizon

Last week there was a massacre at Benevolent Dictator, Inc. It was the third slaughter in the past nine months. They try to give it pretty names. Headcount decrease. Attrition. Reduction in force. Redundancy. They all mean the same thing. You’re fired. Get out. They don’t dare call it a layoff. Calling it a layoff implies that they might have you back one day. None of these people will be back. They weren’t kidding around this time. They got rid of Executive Directors, Managing Directors and the groundlings who were unfortunate enough to work under them. You rarely see senior people go in such great numbers. In one instance, an entire investment vehicle was unplugged and the whole team was wiped out.

Back when I worked at Brand This!, these things were handled with a lot more aplomb than they are at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. At Brand This!, I was deemed redundant, but they gave me a five month notice, a fat severance check, access to outsourcing services and more recommendations that I knew what to do with. They gave me everything except a foot massage and an apology. Not so at Benevolent Dictators, Inc. It’s like an episode of The Sopranos. In the middle of a workday, someone will suddenly vanish. That’s it. No warning. No goodbye. Nothing. Nobody knows where they went and you never hear from them again. There’s still stuff on their desk, but when you come in the next day, the desk has been wiped clean. It’s like working in a morgue.

I feel fortunate that I survived the latest wave of firings. Despite the aforementioned tale of woe, I like the work very much and would prefer to stay but I have to be pragmatic, so I decided to carpet bomb Manhattan with my resume. I got a response almost immediately, interviewed last week and yesterday my headhunter called with a generous offer. I declined. It looked to be an insufferably boring job. It would have been the safe, dull choice. All I’ve ever made are safe, dull choices. I’m sick of it. I’m through with safe and dull, even if it means ruination.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Free Tips from the Buddha 4

Enlightenment—that magnificent escape from anguish and ignorance—never happens by accident. It results from the brave and sometimes lonely battle of one person against his own weaknesses.

Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano

Monday, June 2, 2008

Steroid Scandal

2-Year Old Daughter caught a bout of the croup. Croup is a common but unpleasant childhood ailment. It causes her to cough in a way that makes her sound like a large, angry dog. If you closed your eyes, you wouldn't think it was a dainty 2-year old girl at all. The remedy for coup is a steroid shot. For three solid days after she got her dose, she was a screaming, raging, violent, unpleasant, red-faced demon. She tried to give 6-Year Old Daughter a good hard shove down the steps! My 2-year old had ‘roid rage. Really! I think they might have overdosed her. The silver lining is that she has bulked up nicely, has a thick neck and can lift the sofa to retrieve a ball that has rolled underneath it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What'r ya Readin'?

I just finished a really fun collection of essays in a book with the charming title Things I've Learned from Women Who've Dumped Me. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if the essays hadn't hit so close to home. The chapters are called "Lessons" and there are 43 of them, which is a strange coincidence because I have been dumped exactly 43 times. Women might learn a thing or two from this book. Men won't feel so singularly abused.

I was compelled to read it because of the tantalizing list of essays in the table of contents. Included in this book are priceless gems such as Girls Don't Make Passes at Boys with Fat Asses by Andy Richter, The Heart is a Choking Hazard by Stephen Colbert, Don't Come on Your Cat by Neil Pollack, Nine Years is the Exact Right Amount of Time to be in a Bad Relationship by Bob Odenkirk and You Too Will Get Crushed by Ben Karlin.

Also included is an essay titled Sometimes You Find a Lost Love, Sometimes You Don't by Nebraska's own Senator Bob Kerrey. How the hell did a story by an ex-Senator from the Great Plains wind up in a collection of essays by America's most popular and cutting edge humorists? Is he funny? The story is about how Senator Kerrey's friend was lucky enough to find his lost love while the good Senator was never able to find his. Apparently, Nebraska is a hotbed of ships passing in the night and missed opportunities. Do you ever wonder what goes on out in places like Nebraska? Boy howdy, I sure do.