People often talk about how good alcohol gets better with age, as if the booze is separated from the chaff by its ability to sit around in some dark, temperate place and not turn. I would be tempted to doubt this, but the fact that it’s also true when it comes to the consumption, that the older we get the better drinking gets, makes me a believer.
Sure the occasional libation is drastically improved as you get older because of a tendency to not power-chug it during a game called power-chug where by the winner is decided based on who chugs the most while standing on power lines yelling out movies starring Powers Boothe. Just kicking back with a few and some conversation is actually a lot of fun, and it comes with way fewer regrets. But when the former souse inside causes us to slip back into the foggy heads of yesteryears, succumbing to the siren songs of a shot-carrying waitress or the cheap promise of cheap thrills given by cheap beer, it’s still way better.
The hangovers may last three to nine times as long, the drunk dials are no longer answered, the dancing more of a clothesline sway and the fear of drunk tweeting ever-present, but a night with a few too many is still the best it’s ever been. Why, do you ask? Because as you get older, with each step away from the person you always tried to be, whether it was a carefully crafted character or just an unsure kid, you get a little closer to the unplanned one you’ve become.
The toasts aren’t dirty limericks, they’re about a friend finding out he’s going to be a father, the one-upmanship is more about one-liners and less about feats of extreme extremeness, there’s no social anxiety because there’s no pressing need to be social, the magical beer you buy a girl that will make her fall in love turns into an off-brand cocktail bought for you by a divorcee with awkwardly angular eyebrows and the stories you end up with are understated memories you’re glad to have instead of proof of awesome chapters you made yourself write.
Just like alcohol, life really is better when its a little more pure.
What would any blog chronicling a persons time unemployed be without a list of accomplishments made during the time a person has had a blog chronicling their experience? That said, here is a list of all the amazing things I’ve accomplished during my first six months of unemployment.
- I have sporadically written on a variety of subjects that a small subsection of the people that know me are interested in reading about – While it may be tempting for another person to keep a blog about being unemployed actually about that experience and not allow it to drift into the nether-realms of Store Name Reviews and Pitbull/Martin Luther King Analogies, I have resisted temptation and stayed true to my lack of form.
- I have shamelessly self-promoted – For a long time I imagined myself as the kind of person who would never litter their facebook and twitter with links to their own blog entries, I saw myself as above or beyond that sort of masturbatory exercise, but then I transcended my own transcendence and, like the Dalai Lama before me, assaulted everyone I know with mildly entertaining thoughts to support my own sense of self-importance.
- I have fallen back in love – Not with a person or writing or life or any of that crap. With video games. In hindsight, I can’t imagine why I ever left them. Sure I thought I’d outgrown them, needed to move on, learn about me before I could be with anybody, but I was all wrong. There’s really not that much to me, and all the time I’ve spent without them was a huge mistake. If I’ve learned anything it’s that time not wasted is sometimes wasted time.
- I’ve got to know the people at the grocery store – This was a goal, going into unemployment, to become one of those happy people that knows all the checkout folks. And I have. Sure I’ve had to crack forced jokes about hating the environment every time I forget my reusable bag and make up excuses to go every day, but being vaguely recognized by strangers is totally worth the crippling expenditure of daily organic fruit purchases.
- I went to the Super Bowl – Okay, well I didn’t go to the game. I went to where it was and drank and partied and generally cavorted for 10 magical days with my friend Matthew. I also got two separate e-mails asking if I was gay from friends who were following the trip because of the number of references to and pictures of my friend Matthew. As a straight man with really no sense of style, taste or culture, this was a huge accomplishment.
- I finished my second novel – Unlike my first novel, I actually think this one is fun to read. I haven’t found a publisher or agent yet, but who cares if anyone reads something you poured so much of your life into? Right? Right? Right? Right? Right? Right…?
- I’ve accepted the reality of Jeff – I am kind of short, I’m not particularly cool, I enjoy compliments too much, I eat the same amount as a small Fijian family, I overanalyze things and simultaneously underanalyze them, I overcomplicate things and simultaneously undercomplicate them, I often define to edges of something only to show the middle, I don’t sleep enough, I spend too much time with books, I don’t worry enough about things, I often create criticisms of myself that are actually compliments, I do too much for charity and I place way to much emphasis on the grand uncertainty of the universe, and after the last six months, for the first time, I think I’m okay with all that.
What do I hope to accomplish in the next six months? I’d like to get okay with not out-accomplishing myself for one. Other than that, I guess I’ll figure it out as I go.
This Pi Day, instead of completing my normal Pi Ritual, eating an entire Apple Pie while watching the movie Pi and sending nonsensical three hundred and fourteen word e-mails to Bradford Hovinen, my neighbor growing up and the only person I’ve ever known that had large portions of Pi memorized, I’ve decided to do something productive. No I’m not going to make a list of natural ways to work the word ‘goose’ into everyday conversation, you silly goose you. I’m going to tell you the story of how Pie changed the world.
Sure Pi is, in mathematical terms, irrational and transcendental, like Bodhi in Point Break. And yes, Pi the number is at the center of important modern engineering marvels, like bridges and tunnels and even chunnels, but Pie the dessert is at the center of so much more. Long before Twin Peaks sent hordes of weirded out TV watchers to cliff-side lodges and struggling diners to consume all they could of the layered confection, Pie was changing the course of human events in far more dramatic ways.
Pie was first invented when the Aztecs and the Toltecs defeated the Incans and the Mayans in a coffee growing contest sponsored by the first Starbucks, which was, at the time, called Starbucks. Upon their defeat the Incan/Mayan team offered up a whole slew of virgins for the slaughter, as was their way, being that virgins were in abundance since both the Incans and Mayans had intimacy issues. The Aztec/Toltec team, not really being in the mood for a mass sacrifice because they’d skipped breakfast, declined, and requested the losers bake them a layered dessert. Four days later the Incans and Mayans returned with the first pie in history, a slightly overdone Mango-Papaya mix with a nice graham cracker crust. All four sides enjoyed the delectable dessert so much that they decided to destroy all their weapons and start a chain of bakeries and generally live in peaceful harmony.
A few weeks later the first Conquistadors arrived and conquered the now unarmed and generally full natives easily. No one knows what may have happened had the Incans, Mayans, Aztecs and Toltecs been able to fight back, but there’s a good chance that had that first pie never been made, the Spanish would have never conquered South America or returned with the massive piles of gold that led the Spanish Queen Rosie Perez III to give Columbus the ships he eventually took to the America we now call home. The End.
It’s recently come to my attention that I share a remarkable number of characteristics with Bill Cosby’s character Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show. So you can understand the scope of our similarities, allow me to create a short and digestable list.
- We both live in a City. And while we don’t live in the same city, I do live near a block that looks kinda like the one the Huxtable’s lived on. And I have also started a neighborhood watch that somehow scared away gun-toting gangs through multi-racial solidarity.
- We’re both Doctors. Cliff Huxtable is a Physician, a doctor in the classic sense, while I am a more theoretical Doctor, one without any ‘degrees’ or ‘expertise’ any ‘experience’ or ‘know how’.
- We both have crazy dreams when we eat late at night. Granted, my dreams tend to be about zombies more than me being pregnant or me meeting my elementary school aged daughter as a wise-cracking adult, but we do both have crazy dreams from food.
- We both lick our lips and puff out our chests like a threatened bird when we make elaborate sandwiches that include no less than five kinds of deli meat and are complimented by the contents of a label-free jar of mysterious spread.
- We both like to sneak sandwiches and half-filled glasses of juice into our bedroom to eat in the middle of the night for some reason.
- We both seem to be awkwardly focused on the making and eating of sandwiches to the point where it takes over our life.
- We both tuck our hands back at the wrist and hold them against our sides when we dance into a room.
- We have both have dressed up with our families and danced a free-form Salsa, uncertain whether the music was following us or us the music.
- We both have a rival named “Tailwind Turner”. Mine isn’t a track rival but an evil pilot, the helmsman of a bright green bi-plane that I often dual from my own late twenties fighter.
- We both attended the fictional Hillman College, which, coincidentally, is where I got my aforementioned doctorate.
- We both have African American fathers who play trombone in a jazz quartet, talk slow, have lots of old friends and no a thing or two about a thing or two.
I could go on for days, but I, like Cliff Huxtable, get tired early. I just hope my obnoxious pre-pubescent neighbor doesn’t come by and interrupt my first attempt at relaxing after a long day with a series of inane but somehow insightful questions.
I recently had a phone interview for a job somewhere. I know that sounds incredibly mysterious, but I’m an incredibly mysterious person. Mystery is how I maintain my mystique. All in all, I’m pretty sure the call went well, but how does a person know? There are hundreds of articles on the web about preparing for an in-person interview, but virtually none that address the issue of the phone interview. That’s why I’ve put together a list of questions not to ask during a phone interview, a list that if used as a guide will avoid uncomfortable silences, awkward laughter or sudden hang-uppage.
- “What are you wearing?” – If the interviewer is the same sex this might pass for a harmless inquiry. If they aren’t, it will most likely lead to a lengthy and boring discussion about their clothing since they’ll assume you know very little about the intricacies of what the opposite sex wears.
- “Can I get paid under the table?” – Nothing good happens when people try and exchange things under tables. In many cultures if you touch your bosses knee with your hand, even if accidentally, you owe them a healthy baby, which can obvious delay your start date significantly.
- “Can I take my vacation before I start?” – Although it seems like a logical question, and should show you are a person of initiative that wants to show up fresh and ready to work…actually this is a good idea. You should do this.
- “What’s your policy on employees instituting new policies?” – If you’re like me, you probably have lots of ideas, some of which might even be related to best practices and other jargony things. This isn’t really a bad question either. Okay, maybe I should just write questions you should ask.
Here’s my list of questions you should ask during a phone interview:
- “Do you like questions?” – This is the perfect interview question. If they say no, stop asking. If they say yes, ask them “when”?
- “When do I start?” – It might sound like an a-hole thing to ask during a phone interview, but if they react poorly just complete the sentence with something unrelated to the job like, “When do I start…learning all about your company?Right now! Am I right? “
- “What’s your drug policy?” – It’s important to know what any prospective employer thinks about over-the-counter drugs. Nothing is more offensive to a holistic healer than the freewheeling consumption of aspirin, and statistics show that some percentage of Fortune 500 companies are run by people practicing homeopathic medicine.
- “How Casual Are Your Casual Fridays?” – Casual is a very broad term. You don’t want to show up wearing pants when no one else is wearing pants, you’ll feel like some kind of prude.
- “What do you think, idiot?” – This is a good litmus test for a possible employers and can be asked in response to any question they ask you. There’s nothing worse then ending up working at a place where you can’t balance your compliments about family pictures with insults about anything.
I think that just about covers it. If you don’t ask the first half and ask the second you should be well on your way to an in person interview.
I was recently sent a link to the BLHFL (Bud Light High Five League) by a friend who cannot wear wrist watches because of his compulsive propensity to connect palms. Apparently, the good people of Bud Light (who I am no longer compensated by) have decided to create a web-based competition that captures the best in high fives, double fives, double foot-fives, need for speeds, reverse slaps, flip backs, high-lows, low-highs, back agains, front agains, snap-dragons, open-pounds, sock-puppet hugs, thumblers, trifectas and palmies from around the world.
After doing a little research on the high five, I realized that while there is now a definitive home for the current state of the open-handed slap, there is no definitive bullet point record of the high five’s history. So, without further ado, I present…
A Brief History of the High Five
- 1278: Upon hearing that the Habsburgs’ have taken control of Austria, Rudolph I slaps the raised hand of a stranger then kills that stranger. Later, the movie Rudy is written about the birth of this influential European House, but is turned into a feel good football movie during extensive rewrites.
- 1849: The first prospector, Fuzzy Wiggins, discovers gold in California, but loses his arm to a bear on the way back to town. He hires a blacksmith to make him a golden arm, but runs out of gold and is left with his hand in the raised, open-palmed position, leading to a life full of fives.
- 1861: Having heard the story of a gold-armed man people travel to slap the hand of for good luck, President-elect Lincoln high fives his way from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration.
- 1944: Franklin Delano Roosevelt high fives a 19 year-old Lenny Bruce after Bruce tells him the one and only joke about wheelchairs he’s ever heard and laughed at.
- 1945: Franklin Delano Roosevelt is asked by his wife to stop high fiving every person he meets on the street. FDR refuses and adds “High Fiving” as part of the Secret Service training.
- 1956: After a precipitous rise, the Low Five takes over as the preeminent form of casual, hand contact related greeting. Some believe it is a result of a general weakening in our countries shoulder strength because of Communism.
- 1968: JG Ballard writes a passionate letter to The New Yorker explaining the misappropriation of the high five as a form of hello. Ballard argues persuasively that high five’s be returned to their original intent as a celebratory gesture.
- 1974: People Magazine is launched to capture compelling high fives from around the world, but changes direction and becomes a home for meaningless lists after its founder is left hanging by an old friend during a softball game.
- 1988: Michael Jackson and Michael J. Fox and Michael Jordan work together to found the MJMJFMJHFFKF. Their plan to sell pictures of the three of them high-fiving to raise money for kids fails after their acronym is confused for a foundation that offers mining jobs to stutterers.
- 2009: Jason Marziani breaks the record for most high fives in an hour during the Philadelphia Brewer’s Bar Crawl.
- 2010: ???
Twenty-ten, much like the rest of the future, is wide open for all sorts of history making, high-five related and otherwise.
I’ve been going to the grocery store pretty much every day that I’ve been unemployed. It’s not that I’ve been eating any more, cooking more elaborate meals, or developing an awkward mid-century style friendship with the fish guy where I ask him about ‘the scallops’ and he tells me ‘they’re fresh’ and that’s all a backdoor metaphor for the overall state of affairs in the world, I just have more time.
My increased grocery store visitation has taught me a few things. It’s taught me that my pheromones, aside from attracting a random and incongruous group of women over the course of my life, give off another signal, one that tells old Jewish* women to push me out of the way in the produce section. It’s taught me that the group that buys the most gourmet cheese is not wives’ hosting dinner parties, but guys cooking for a date. It’s taught me that patchouli, despite all reason and logic in the world, is still worn by people and it’s taught me that less is almost always more.
I learned the last, and I believe most important grocery lesson, in the cereal aisle. There are so many options these days in the boxed breakfast section that mothers are instructed to tell their children not to try and see them all at once, fearing that any attempt at completely absorbing the immense selection will blind a child or render them dimple-less. And to what end? If anything, the number of cereal choices at the store make it harder to choose, and that’s probably the point. Somebody, somewhere, knows that if they can keep people trying to choose between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios**, they won’t worry so much about all the decisions that are made for them.
*I can say this because I come from a long line of non-pushy Jews and because it’s true.
**This impossible decision prompted my post. It’s like choosing between two children in a burning house. Do you go with the smarter one or the better looking one?