Monologue #28 – Lost Anger

A funny thing happened on the way to self-employment.  I lost a lot of my anger. I noticed it a lot in the way I write.  Prior to these past few months everything I wrote had angry blasts of rage and unhappiness in it and my personal Muse was constantly smacking me on the head.  Now I write at a steadier pace with much less red in my eyes and my written work is far more crafted and thoughtful. I’ve been working diligently on my book Smashing Pumpkins as well as working on a couple pieces that I intend to submit somewhere, so I’m definitely not sitting on my hands.  There’s also this strange occurance of friends. I’ve got some now. I’m not sure how to handle that so I’m just drifting along with it, learning how to be a participant in things that I like with people who don’t offend me just by breathing in and out. It’s funny to me to discover that most of the people I called ‘friend’ from my old job were really just people I was desperately willing to bond with over a shared misery as opposed to folks that genuinely shared a common interest with me.  I haven’t dropped all of my prior ‘friends’. There are a few that have stayed with me, snuggled into secret spots in my heart like worms, and I intend to keep them there. It’s just so different to discover that I can actually choose who to spend time with now as opposed to grabbing at whomever was available.

The lack of anger in my writing is most noticeable to me in my choice of verbs and adjectives.  I’ll write a sentence, then go back and change or remove most of the action descriptors to more realistic choices, slowing down the frantic pace of activity and emotion.  When I go back through some of the shorts I’ve written for this blog I am actually rolling my eyes at myself and snickering. Not being mad all time has opened a whole new level of writing for me that I’m a super happy with.  I feel like I have finally leveled up.

Before I go, a quick note about Easter candy.  DON’T DO IT! I actually made myself sick with it.  For some reason I released my inner candy demon and let it charge, face first, through a pile of candy.  I spent that night and the next day SICK. Ugh! If I see another chocolate bunny or cream filled egg anywhere near my mouth I’m stabbing it to death with a soldering iron.  Gah! I’m too old for that stuff. I know better. (facepalm of shame)


Monologue #20

This week has been one I would like to forget.  A few days ago my entire department descended into chaos and still hasn’t straightened itself out.  The company hired a new Big Guy who has been making changes that a lot of us are not comfortable with.  I’m sure most people like to believe they have a certain value within the company they work for, and to find out that value exists only in their heads can be ground shaking.  Well, that’s where I’m at.  My ground has been shook.  Once the dust settles, I hope to find myself in a slightly improved position with my day to day functions, but it has been an experience I do not wish to repeat.  The value I believed I had has been shown to be zero, a non-number with a value only as a place holder.  I am a body in a spot.  A different body can be put in my spot.  Eight years of service along with my twenty-three years of experience means nothing.

My dad had the ability to walk away from things without looking back.  I’m pretty sure he developed this ability after multiple encounters with disappointment.  Self-loathing is a terrible feeling.  To hang onto something or someone so fiercely that you compromise your own values simply because change is terrible, leaves you with questions about yourself you might not want to know the answers to.  I may not be as skilled as my dad was at saving my soul and walking away, but I certainly understand why it is necessary for me, as a person to cultivate this skill.

A job is a job.  Unfortunately I can’t replace this one with one of equal or greater financial value without ripping apart the life I have built.  I can only walk away so far.  When the dust truly settles I will be on a new shift working with people I barely remember.  This not a bad thing, it’s just different from what I’m used to.  It’s change.

Have a good week everyone.  Make like trees and bend in the storms.

Monologue #12

Monday comes around all too often.  I feel like I see more of Monday than Friday.  Of course that is an unreasonable idea since you can’t have one without the other, but it just feels that way.  The same applies to 9am.  I punch in at 1am and out at nine.  So why do I feel like there are a lot more ones than nines?  And what about the numbers in between?

I have a theory.  Well, naturally I have a theory.  I am one of those people who always contemplates the why.  Why did that happen?  Why did he say that?  Why am I here?  The why questions always lead to the what questions.  What did that mean?  What the f#$! was that all about?  Huh?

So, here is my theory.  Are you familiar with road hypnosis?  That is the state we can drop into while driving long distances.  The scenery blends together, your mind starts to wander and pretty soon you’re replaying the entire Matrix movie inside your head and not actually paying attention to the fact you are piloting a two ton hunk of rocketing death metal along the interstate at seventy miles an hour.  (For those of you following me on Twitter, you know full well why I just threw The Matrix into this.  I’m still watching them. :-P)

Getting through my work week is a lot like making a long distance trip.  I punch in on Monday and out on Friday and everything in between is The Matrix.  The same goes for 1am and 9am.  All those hours between are more movies (or books, for those who prefer to read while they drive through their day.  I would recommend switching to audio books for safety.)

This is why I think I am missing hours and days.  I am dropping into a state of road hypnosis to get me through my week and not really experiencing the complex passage of time.  Monday is always such a tragic day, so I usually experience it to its fullest extent.  Friday tends to flow immediately into the Off Zone so its effect is often overlooked.  Friday is more about the anticipation of its arrival than the day itself, anyway.  Getting there is the important part.  

What this comes down to is, I don’t actually get more Mondays than Fridays, I just experience them more.  You would think, with all the non-experiencing I’m doing to get through the week I would have faster feeling weeks.  I suppose I’ll have to extend my theory to account for that too.  I’ll save it for another day.  Right now I need to get back to my movie. *cue The Matrix Reloaded*

Pet Projects

Barb watched carefully as Jeddy made his way toward her, a single sheet of paper in one hand, slipping easily between the desks of the open office. He moved like an athlete despite the three piece suit.  Wide shoulders, long legs and always on the go, Jeddy was the epitome of a good manager.  Barb fussed with the front of her blue, flower print blouse for a minute, straightening the button line and hoping the third one down didn’t choose this moment to slip free of the hole and gape open.  Her mind flashed to the small safety pin fastened to the inside of her purse.  It was too late now.

“Hey there Barbara.  How’s your day going?”  His voice was smooth and rose effortlessly over the subdued sounds of keyboards and mouse clicks.  The office flowed productively along, heads pointed at screens as each worker catalogued their data for the day.

Snapping her head upward she tried to look friendly and alert.  “Good morning Jeddy.  I’m good.”  Her smile felt a bit feral so she backed it off.  With a slight twist of her head she brought a single, golden, lock of hair across her shoulder where it lay alluringly, the blond touches looking more platinum in the glare of the fluorescent office lighting.

“Yeah, that’s great.”  Jeddy leaned against the outer edge of her desk, his thigh pressing against the metal.  The dark, grey, wool of his slacks looked soft and brushed, a slight sheen to it.  “Look, I have a project I want to delegate.  It’s not a large project but it will take a couple of people to get it done.”  His long, Norwegian face was relaxed and expressive, the blue eyes encouraging her as he spoke.  “Do you think you could find someone who would be interested?”  He lifted his hand with the paper up for her to see, typed side facing him.

“I can certainly have a look, if you like.”  Her eyes flicked upward to the paper and she leaned forward expectantly, one hand moving toward him.

“It’s kind a pet project I’ve been thinking about.”  He held onto the paper and looked meaningfully at her.  “I think it would speed things up for us.”

Pet project?  Suspicious, Barb pulled her hand away and leaned back against the cushion of her black, office chair.

“I don’t know, Jeddy.  I have a lot of work already.  Taking on a pet project for you sounds like extra hours.”  And weekends.  He was pretty to look at and all but, seriously, who wanted to take on someone else’s work?

Jeddy straightened up, his thigh moving off her desk.  He smiled.  “That’s fine Barb.  I can keep looking.”  Without a goodbye he moved away.

The space in front of her desk felt empty.  Barb stared at the spot where his leg had been and wondered if she had just made a mistake?  She looked down and her face flushed hotly.  The button had come undone.

Casino of Light – 3

“Shane, shouldn’t you be on the floor right now? Why are you on break?”

Shane stiffened as Charles twitched beside him, almost violently, at the sound of the woman’s voice. They shared matching opinions of Carla, the micro-managing Pit Boss with blazing red spiked hair.

“I was in an hour and twenty,” Shane stated.

“Don’t lie. I know what time you went onto the floor.” She didn’t actually look at him, choosing instead to stay visually engrossed in stirring her tea in its recyclable paper cup. Shane bristled.

“I’m not lying.” He squared himself with her and glowered, aware that most of the people in the lowly lit breakroom were listening attentively even though their eyes were focused on the television or their books and phones.  She couldn’t possibly know what time he had walked onto the floor as she was stationed on the far side of the casino, nowhere near him.

“Both of you like to grab extra breaks when you should be on the floor.”  Carla raised the cup to her lips and sipped, her lips pulling toward the center like the mouth of a guppy.  

“You need to stop accusing us of stuff,” Shane growled. Beside him, Charles stared angrily at the floor.  Charles wouldn’t speak to Carla at all which left him open to all sorts of accusations from her.  It made Shane crazy that his friend took so much abuse from the woman.

“Is that a threat?” Now she looked at him. It was very disconcerting because even though her eyes were focused Shane was positive she was actually staring at a spot on his head.

“It’s a statement. Do you see the difference?”

Someone snorted softly from the couch, confirming Shane’s belief that the other people were listening.

Carla set her cup down and looked toward the television where a commercial was trying to encourage people to pester their doctors for a new drug that would cure everything.

‘You need to lose the attitude, mister.”

This would have been the perfect time to walk away.  Shane knew he should just grab Charles by the arm and head out the door, leaving Carla to her thoughts but, today had been a rough day and his nerves were snapping off sparks over everything.  Her baiting him like this seemed to be an open invitation to argue.  Taking a single step toward her table he planted both his hands flat on the faded, faux wood top and stared at her spiky hair that always looked like she had just rolled out of bed.

“Since I actually know what time I went onto the floor and can verify it without guessing, I would be happy to take this little problem to the Shift office with you if you like?”  At this distance he could see that her skin looked paler than usual, her cheeks barely tinged with healthy color.  For the zillionth time he wondered if she was a vampire?  Charles was terrified of the idea of blood-sucking immortals.  They had logged many hours of conversations on the subject of which mythological beasts their supervisors resembled the most and Carla always landed in the category of vampire.

“I can certainly arrange that!”  Carla’s head swiveled toward him and her eyes fastened onto his.  They stared each other down.  Every head in the breakroom rose and turned to watch the outcome.

Shane felt his stomach clench in sudden panic.  What had he expected to happen when he had decided to loom over her?  Did he think Carla would just back down and concede that she might actually be wrong?  The seconds ticked by while his eyes stayed locked on her, trapped by the challenge he should have walked away from.  Win or lose he was sure he would be paying for this in the end.  On impulse – or desperation – he spoke.

“Then make the call, Carla.”  His vision threatened to blur as he fought the urge to blink.  Please, make the damn call, he begged silently.

As if hearing his unspoken plea Carla’s mouth twisted into a nasty, gleeful, snarl and she shoved her chair back from the table, ripping her eyes away from his in a way that didn’t feel at all like a victory.  Moving like a panther she shot to her feet and walked to the breakroom phone.

Savoring the relief of not looking at her Shane stayed hunched over the table just a second too long for him to actually claim a win.  How the hell had she managed to break contact first and still leave him feeling like he had been wrong?  He could feel the onlookers return to their previous postures, leaving him alone with his loss.

Straightening up, Shane spared a glance behind him, looking for Charles.  His friend was leaning against the sink, staring at the drug commercial on the television, trying hard to not add to the problem.  Had that really only taken seconds?  Maybe the commercial had played twice in a row?  That happened sometimes.

Carla’s voice, soft and respectful now as she spoke into the phone reminded Shane that things were not settled.  The first shots had been fired and now the wounded needed to be interrogated.


A Mad Dash To The End

It is November 22, I still have 17k words to go and my mother is coming to visit on the 28th and will stay until the 30th.  I really need to hustle and get this finished, at least word-count-wise before that time.  Three days ago I was pecking out one word at a time, chewing my nails off and actively avoiding NaNoWriMo by playing countless games of Bejeweled Blitz while my mind struggled over plot issues and the fact that I had nothing scheduled for this blog.   I like to keep to a schedule as much as possible and when I am not able to do that I tend to get agitated and my thinking can break down.  I was definitely floundering.

My wife peers at my computer screen and asks how things are going?  She can see I’m playing Bejeweled.  I state my plot problems and the impending doom of my word count while I spin pretty, colored gems and try to get Blazing Speed going, and she says… “Why don’t you just write the ending?”

Why didn’t I think of that?

So here I am, tearing along again with a pot of coffee at hand and Bejeweled open on a tab in the back instead of the front.  My carefully thought out characters are dying one by one, the way I intended and I’m feeling like a vengeful God about it.  I have to admit, there are some twists I hadn’t actually meant to have but now that they are there I am rather impressed by them.  Hopefully the finished product will be as smooth as I want it to be.  Once I get to 50k, finished or not I will post a few more excerpts for everyone.

Cheers Wrimos and happy writing!

Welcome To The Night Terrors

Hello and welcome to the Night Terrors.  My name is Tink and I’ll be your Training Elder.  I’ll be going over the basics tonight and your job is to watch, learn and take notes.  You have been through orientation so you have all the information on our job and its traditions?  Good.  Let me just say, I have been with the company for well over one hundred years so you can ask me anything and I will have an answer.  Okay then, shall we get started?  What?  My name?  No it’s the same name I have carried for the duration of my employment with the Night Terrors.  You will get your own name after you complete your training and progress into the next phase.  No, Recruits never have names, it’s against company policy.  A name tag?  No, we don’t have those.  It would be counterproductive to what we do.  I don’t believe there is a suggestion box anywhere.  These types of questions should really wait for when we’re done here and back at the office.  Right now we need to focus on the job itself.  I know I said that but I really meant any questions about what we are doing right now, not all this other stuff.  Those are questions better asked of NTR.  I’m sorry you feel that way but I’m a Scare-along Trainer, not part of the Night Terror Resources Department.    Let’s put this argument aside for now and just get through the task at hand, shall we?  I think we can agree on that much at least.  Yes?  Good.

First things first, you need to pull your hair over your face.  A little more.  Yes, it’s company policy that all Night Terror’s have their hair appropriately draped in their eyes.  It’s a big part of what makes us so terrifying.  It may seem petty to you but it’s part of the job and when you punch out in the morning you can push it right back.  Hair is a job standard as well as an expectation.  That’s much better, thank you.  Now, could you pull your shadow out a bit?  A little more.  Long and lean is the way the to go.  Don’t worry, it takes a while to get your shadow to cooperate and become truly ominous but over time it will develop.  You’ll have to work at it.  My shadow?  Mine is very flexible and stretches out quite a ways but I have been working with my shadow for over a century.  Peter who?  Oh, yeah, he was one of the leaders in shadow work.  We really don’t talk about him.  He took the business in a different direction from where we are now.  I really can’t advise removing your shadow completely like that.  Seldom can you regain full control of your shadow once you have detached it from yourself.  Our goal here is to have ultimate control of it.  Watch me.  Oops, sorry about that.  Shhhhh, don’t cry like that.  It was just a demonstration of what you can achieve with a little work and determination.  Really, you need to get that crying under control.  That’s better.  Uh, okay, yeah, your sleeve is fine.  You’ll need to be sure to drop your cloak off at Wardrobe to be cleaned.  Better now?  Good.  Let’s get to work.

See that light swtich over there?  Yeah, I know it’s hard to see because of the door slats but it’s right there, next to the blue lamp that looks like Dr. Seuss threw up on it.  See it?  No, to the left.  Farther left.  Oh for Night’s sake!  Do I have to walk over there and touch it so you can find it?  Light switches haven’t changed so drastically in fifty years that you can’t spot one at ten feet.  It’s right there!  Um… what are you doing?  Smartphones aren’t allowed on the job.  You need to put that away right now.  I’m certain your orientation materials included the sheet of Do’s and Don’ts and your Smartphone was listed under Don’t, right before the part about taking Selfies while on the job.  Oh, it’ll only take a second?  My bad!  I’ll just sit over here under this granny square of a top and wait for you to finish playing.  It’s only our job we’re talking about.  I guess being exposed to the light due to the incriminating glow of your Smartphone won’t be so bad.  After all, it’s just vaporization we’re talking about.  How much pain could that possibly cause?  You’re right, I am totally over-reacting here.

Are you finished?  One more?  No, I’m not going to get in the shot with you!  Stop that!  I will not make duck lips with you for MonsterBook.  Get that phone out of my face!  We have a job to do here!  I need you to stop playing and focus on our Mark.  The Dark Hour is almost here and we have things to go over yet.  We’re running out of time.  For Night’s sake!  Put your damn phone away and pay attention!

What are you doing now?  You can’t make calls while you’re on the job.  Did you even go to orientation?  Give me that phone!  Oh hell no!  You did not just swat me!  That’s enough!  Put that phone away right now and pay attention or I’m going straight back to NTR and writing you up for insubordination.  What?  Get that phone away from me, I’m not telling you again.  Who wants to talk to me?  WHAT?  Oh for Night’s sake!  Give me that.

Hello?  Yes ma’am, we’re on the job together.  It’s not going well ma’am, the Recruit is too busy taking selfies and playing on her phone to pay attention.  She isn’t listening to m…. Huh?  What do you mean?  With all due respect ma’am we’re sitting in the closet right now.  The Dark Hour is almost here and we haven’t even gotten past the light switch.  What!  How is this a reflection on me?  I see.  Well ma’am, my training methods are the exact same ones that we have all been using for the last one hundred and thirty-eight years.  I believe them to be highly effective.  Uh huh… well, if you want the method’s changed then you need to update the training manual so all the Elders will be doing the same thing.  Ma’am?  I see… tolerance.  Uh huh.  And sensitivity training?  I told her the thing with my shadow was an accident.  I was just demonstrating what can be accomplished with a little practice.  Of course, ma’am, I will not do it again.  Okay then.  Oh, one more thing before you go?  Yes.  Since the Dark Hour is in thirty seconds I just want to say that it has been a pleasure working for your company all these years and that I will certainly miss my job.  What do I mean?  Well, the glow from this smartphone and our continued conversation has attracted the attention of the Mark and she is walking toward her closet door right now.  Yes ma’am.  Thank you.  I’m sure vaporization due to exposure to light will be excruciating also.  Yes ma’am.  Oh, and check on MonsterBook, the Recruit’s last, elevated, duck lip, selfie will be there.  You may want to show it to her family when they come to collect her things.  Yes ma’am, that’s me, always thinking.  Goodbye now.