The Problem with Convenience

When did you first notice that you might be getting, well, a bit lazy? Was it when you sat in your home full of voice-activated robots electronics and asked them to play your music for you? Perhaps it was when you started sending all your messages via voice notes instead of typing them out. Maybe it was during your fifth online shop of the week when you realized you used to go outside your house to get your food and sundries. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about convenience. As someone who hates people and the outside world, I welcome all of the latest improvements that allow me to stay at home more than ever before.

It’s a strange world though, isn’t it? It’s like one half of us have become health obsessed freaks, slimming and gymming and sharing pictures of their abs on Instagram, while the other half are reveling in the technological advances that let them get away with doing the bare minimum.

Since the days of the clapper, we’ve fallen further and further down the rabbit hole of modern conveniences, and I can’t help but think of the film Wall-E which, spoiler alert, prophesied a future where human beings have become so goddamn lazy that they can’t even be bothered to walk around anymore. Robots and voice activated apps take care of the humans’ every need. That movie came out in 2008. The scenario doesn’t really seem that farfetched now, does it?

The crazy thing is, taking the lazy way out of things doesn’t always make life any easier for us.

For those of us who have the lights that turn on when you clap; how long did that honeymoon period last? Oh, it’s fun to show your friends this clever new way to light up your home, but how is that any easier than just flicking a switch? How about Alexa? She does lights, music, security, Amazon ordering, phone calls, the whole nine yards. But is Alexa really your friend? Okay, yeah, if you’re on the couch or in the bed and you don’t want to go clear across the room to turn off the lights, the clapper or your brand-spanking new Alexa might come in handy… until you’re applauding so hard your hands ache or you find yourself yelling until the neighbor calls the cops again (911? That crazy lady next door is at it again. Yeah, the lights.), or you spend your rent money on Amazon ordering who knows what, all because the system just isn’t working the way it should.

I mean, you could’ve walked the 6 feet to the light switch (and not accidentally called everyone in your contacts list) in the time it takes to get Alexa to understand a simple request.

Yes, mom, I know it’s 3 am.  No, I swear, nothing is wrong.  I didn’t mean to call you, or Uncle Elmer, or your next door neighbor whose number I have just for emergencies. Yes, mom, I know. You’re right, it is an ungodly hour. I just wanted to dim the lights.

Feeling Prompted

I was researching a few things on the internet the other day, you know, as one does, and I came across an interesting concept. Writing prompts. Who knew this was a thing?  Well, a writing prompt that I found on a site for writing prompts to combat writer’s block: Write about something you don’t remember.

How the hell can you write about something if you don’t remember it?

Writing prompts are stupid. Want proof?  Another writing prompt from that same site: travel the world and post as you go.

I mean, really? Okay sure, I’ll just pack up my pencil laptop and head to Cairo or Australia. Yeah, I hear that’s nice, but I’m not a fan of spiders that can eat my face. Actually, not a fan of spiders at all. Peter Parker is about as close to spiders as I would want to be (the Andrew Garfield version, just so we’re clear). But hey, I’m nothing if not adventurous (don’t roll your eyes at me!), so just let me enter my info in Google here and get my tickets… what?! Almost $2,000 dollars just to get there!? Moths currently inhabit my bank account, so yeah, I’ll get right on that.

I know! I could travel to work and discuss traffic or that plastic bag I saw rolling across the highway. Was it from Walmart… or Wegman’s? Now that seems more affordable.

Everyone and their brother seems to be writing articles on writing prompts. Articles written on writing prompts fill even the most cobwebby corners of the interwebs (ha!).  Not to be left behind on this blogging trend, here are a select few I’ve assembled from said corners — and answered — for your reading pleasure. Get ready to be prompted!

Would you rather be able to fly or be invisible? Honestly, I’d rather be invisible. As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, not fond of heights, or the falls either for that matter.  Invisibility is right up there with teleportation… imagine the things you could see and do, the banks you could rob.  With my luck, if I could fly, I’d just I’d run into a powerline.

Would you rather fight off the zombie apocalypse, or defend the planet against hostile aliens? This is easy, zombies all day. Aliens have ray guns, ships, and anal probes. I really don’t need to go any further here – suffice to say, I … um… really dislike anal probes. And frankly, in our current political climate, I’d almost welcome a zombie apocalypse. I wouldn’t have to go to work, shave my legs, grocery shop, or do laundry. I would miss showers though, so there’s that. Not to mention running. I hate running.

One food for the rest of your life? Is wine a food? I would say brownies. Not sure it’s the healthiest choice, but it’s a solid one. Yep, I stand by brownies.

Batman for a week, or Superman for a day? Batman, and I only want to be him for about an hour. Hear me out. Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, is a rich, handsome, playboy philanthropist, oh yeah, did I mention rich? Stupidly rich. Like ridiculously stupid rich. Sure, laser beams in my eyes, flying faster than a bullet is great and all. But it’s also active, tiring, dangerous, and requires a lot of responsibility. Not things on my “I need more of this in my life” list. So, sign me up for Batman, drive me to the bank, and watch me drain Bruce Wayne’s billions into my own bank account before I switch back to good ole’ me.

Would you rather live forever, or be invincible? Ugh, I’m torn on this one, let me tell you. Most would think living forever would be great, but I’m only halfway to a hundred, and I’m already sick of people. Invincible would be handy, for those days I feel like smashing my head against the wall, at least I wouldn’t bruise easy and I could save money on foundation. But the big question here is this… if you’re invincible, wouldn’t you live forever anyway?  It’s a two-fer.

If you could be a flavor of gum, what would it be? Big Red, because I’m spicy. Although I don’t lose my flavor as fast, maybe 5ive? I don’t know about stimulating your senses, but I can mystify you with my witty charm.

What color is your aura right now and why? I feel purple right now. I don’t know why; it’s just how I feel. I’ve heard that the color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Needless to say, I don’t fully relate on that level, but It apparently also represents, “creativity, wisdom, dignity, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.” Now that’s a bit more me, color me purple baby! To see what your aura says about you, go here.

Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf? I’m going to say vampire, because I don’t even want to think of the hair care products I’m going to need if I start dawning a full coat of luscious wolf fur. Not to mention shedding. I’ve got enough of that now with my cats, I don’t need it from myself as well. Plus, vampires sleep all day. It’s a win-win.

What Disney princess are you and why? I’m not a princess-y kind of person, but to be honest, I can see myself as bits and pieces of all them Frankenstein’d together. A bit naïve like Rapunzel (okay, fine, I just wish I had her hair!) yet adventurous like Ariel (so I like the beach… sue me), snarky and impetuous like Merida, but dedicated like Cinderella, and you know I’m not against catching that long nap if you know what I’m saying. Can you imagine how Sleeping Beauty felt after waking up? Probably a bit stiff, and maybe had to pee – but definitely well rested.

You’re a What!?

So, from time to time I’ll find myself watching the news, or YouTube, or a talk show or something, and I’ll come across these weird interviews. Whether it’s a fave musician or actor, or maybe it’s just a reporter talking with some random person on the side of the street… strange questions just seem to emerge. Even when you’re job hunting – maybe especially when you’re job hunting. There you sit with the hip HR Director and Bob from accounting, and the interview is going great, if not a little boring, and then BAM!

‘If you could be a fish in the ocean, what would you be?’

Um… what?

Okay sure, I get that these types of questions are supposed to help the interviewer figure out if you’re creative or analytical or, if we’re being honest here, a straight up freak. I have to say, I do miss the simpler days, when it’d go a little something like, “Hello, how are you, and how and/or why do you think you are qualified for this job?” And then you share your expansive resume and extraordinary successes and boom, you’ve got the job. Or not.

But wait, back to the initial question. What If I actually were a fish in the ocean? I tell you what I’d be.  I’d be lost at sea.

Without applying much thought on it, a shark should be at the top of my list. I mean, right? I think the apex predator of the ocean would be a top choice for most. Being at the top of the food chain would eliminate a lot of other problems with being a fish in the ocean. I would only have to worry about getting chomped on by cannibalistic sharks or hooking up with the odd sports fisherman or two (and not in a good way). And I can only imagine that it’s a fantastic answer to give in an interview. But when you get to know me, like I know myself, it’s pretty clear that I just don’t have that kind of all-encompassing aggression, no matter what my ex says.

Is there a fish that has major anxiety issues and constantly worries about, well, everything… while also saying “fuck this shit” to just about every situation?  That would be me. On another note, The Incredible Mr. Limpet is one of my favorite movies. If you haven’t seen it, you really should.  I could be like Mr. Limpet. Riddled with anxiety, but still comes thru in the end.

Or, I’d get eaten by a shark on my first day as a fish, which is most likely the harsh reality to my current ocean fantasy.

You have to ask yourself this, though, on the other side of the spectrum, as the employer or interviewer, what answers do you expect? Which ones are red flags, and which ones scream “I know this is the one!” Is there a cheat-sheet somewhere to help you figure it out?

For instance, a guy answers with, a sea snail. Cause he just loves to hang around and observe people all day. Maybe not the best answer for landing that new job. Oh sure, he’s lovely to look at (I mean, most sea snails are) but probably not a good fit for the work at hand.

What if the answer was, an octopus? And their reason was so that they could work 8 times more efficiently. Now if I was hiring for a job, I would probably hire the octopus. Just seems more logical, if you ask me.

Maybe you get that one person who doesn’t get the concept behind the question. ‘Fish? Pfftt! I’m more of a horse type, wide-open fields, running free, no-one can control me, I can’t be contained, I’m wild, baby, wild!’ Okay great! Allow me to validate your parking, and you have yourself a fantastic day! Please help yourself to an oatcake on the way out.

Not that I don’t love horses, cause let me tell you, I do.  I love them at least 10 times more than fish, if not more. But instead of highlighting your “outside of the box thinking,” one’s failure to answer a question according to the interviewer’s set parameters often implies that you can’t follow simple directions. Even if the question is bizarre and the interview is a joke.

Speaking of an affinity with specific animals. My spirit animal?  Truth be told, probably a sloth. Sloths are misunderstood. It’s not that we lack motivation, we just don’t see the urgency placed on us by others’ expectations. We’ll get there, wherever there is, eventually, just leave us the hell alone until then.

Or wait! A Tasmanian Devil (of the Looney Tunes variety) might be more accurate if you’ve ever seen me driving or getting annoyed at the grocery store or dealing with, you know, people.

Ugh… people, am I right?

Send in the Clowns

It’s been a long week… hell, it was a long week on TUESDAY, now it’s just ridiculous.  At least tomorrow is Friday and that’s almost as good as it actually being Friday.  However, it’s been the kind of week where you dream of throwing it all to the wayside and running away to some small town in the middle of nowhere, preferably with a beach view… or a mountain lake. Or the Eiffel Tower. I’m good either way.  While pondering my lot in life and Googling airline tickets to Paris during my lunch hour, it occurred to me that my life could have been very, very different.

When I was kid, my father always threatened to sell my brother and me to the circus when we acted up. Didn’t most harried parents? Being a parent myself, I can’t say as I blame him. Fortunately, for my brother and me, our mother would chime in, using her gift of persuasion, and rescue us from the circus life. I’m betting she hesitated a time or two over the years though.

This got me thinking. When I was a kid, I would have probably been great in the circus! As a kid, I had no fear, especially when it came to being adventurous. Go ahead, stuff me into a car with a bunch of clowns, I could have swung with the amazing flying trapeze artists, maybe get launched out of a cannon across the big top. Oh yeah, kid me would be more than ready and willing for the circus life. But adult me? Not a chance.

Quite frankly, if I were in the circus now, I would be… well, to say the least, bad at everything. I’m afraid of heights. I’m not quite sure how that happened. Well, maybe not heights, but if and when you fall, I’m afraid of that sudden stop at the end. I have severe social anxiety, as I think I’ve mentioned before, so I get tongue-tied when put on the spot… so being a hawker wouldn’t exactly be my forte.  I’m horrible at guessing ages and weight, often erring on the higher end. I’ve been smacked more than a few times because of it too. But I swear, she looked like she was a very attractive 60-year-old, how was I supposed to know she was 31? I mean, honestly. So, running the guess your age/weight booth would be a recipe for disaster and likely result in needing bail money.

I’m not a fan of being the center of attention, in fact quite the opposite. So “gather round everyone, and step right up” would be great, until the crowd stepped right up and I would spend the next 10 minutes hyperventilating into a bag. The show must go on, they say, but I’d need a few minutes or an hour to collect myself first.

Being a clown would be horrible. First of all, clowns are creepy to a lot of people, so you’re always dealing with that vibe. Add in a curmudgeon with anxiety issues and bad make-up skills, and I’d either be making kids cry or giving clown-fearing adults a new conversation to share with their psychiatrists. Aside from that though, I’d always wonder, are they laughing because I’m so incredibly funny or are they laughing because I’m an abject failure as a clown? My self-esteem wouldn’t be able to handle it, I tell you.

I could care for the animals and feed them, but I don’t agree with keeping animals in cages. In a lot of cases, the animals are abused so that they’ll perform tricks. First day on the job would be, “local crazy woman sets free the entire animal population from visiting circus.” And then bail money would be required, yet again, and that would be a whole ordeal.

My balance has also seen better days, not saying I’m very clumsy, but I’m kind of very clumsy. Riding a unicycle on a tightrope would probably either be a messy one-time event or an all-day excursion depending on if there’s a safety net or not.

The pattern seems pretty clear here.  Either my health and mental well-being would be in jeopardy or bail money would be needed for … well, any number of reasons.

Oh! You know what though? I do love food, especially cotton candy and popcorn, so I could be a food tester. I’d EXCEL at being a food tester! It would have to be in a quality control capacity though, as working at the booth would probably result in a loss of profit for the circus. I’m up to the challenge to see if I can eat my weight in cotton candy. Hmm… maybe that could be a side show act!? Looks like I found my circus niche after all.

Sense and Sensibility and Snark

I’ve often thought of starting an advice column. You don’t need a degree for common sense, right? Sometimes I think that too many degrees, certifications, and the like can actually keep common sense at bay.

Is your mother-in-law a nosy cat intent on destroying your marriage to her saintly child? Kindly tell her to go to hell, or not so kindly. Your choice. Probably not at Christmas or anything, but December 26th is a good day to do the deed. Co-worker trying to destroy your life?  Ask them what you did to make them hate you. Get to the bottom of issues!  Then, in the most professional way possible, tell them to kindly fuck off.

I’m inspired by people like Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren (who were sisters). They gave sound advice to thousands, if not millions of people.  Ann once said, “Know yourself. Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you’re wonderful.” I love this!

And while I am duly impressed by the likes of Dear Abby, Dear Prudence, and Ask Amy, I wouldn’t be fluffy with my advice. Oh no, my advice column would be more of the snarkier variety. Honest yet blunt… caring yet, well, um, blunt. Blunt with a side of snark. That’s my motto!

Is your significant other cheating? Give that low-down, lying schmuck the boot! Kick ‘em to the curb, I say! You deserve better!

Old high school classmate filling your Facebook inbox with essential-oil business opportunities? Block them! So what if it’s your husband’s sister!?  Block that pyramid scheming, MLM-spewing huckster! You don’t need that kind of stress in your life!

Just think, if I wrote under a pen name, there would even be a chance of that crazy ex-relative of mine writing to me and I could tell them to stop being such a self-absorbed narcissistic prat with too many cats!

Naturally any money I made would go towards extensive liability insurance, but it would be sooo worth it.

Are you a good person stuck in an awful situation? Write to me and let me help you sort it out! You see, there’s no room for unbiased perspectives in my column. I would stick up for the letter writer, always. Everyone needs someone on their side. Unless of course, they were an obvious asshole, in which case I would let them know in no uncertain terms that they’re the problem and should maybe find a mirror for some deep introspection.

I imagine myself firing away on a typewriter (they still make those, right?) and sending common sense advice out into the universe, making the world a better place.

I probably wouldn’t tell anyone about my column. It would be my secret, hence the aforementioned pen name. I would simply enjoy the fact that anyone I passed on the street might be someone who wrote to me. I might even hear the person behind me at Starbucks telling a friend about the wonderful advice they’d received from Miss Anonymous Snarky McSnarkpants… it was just the kick in the ass they needed to change their life!

And I would take my drink and walk home, smiling to myself. I’m a hero.