Archive for: October, 2004

Hallowe’en in the Big Candied Apple

Oct 31 2004 Published by under Uncategorized

It was the night before Hallowe’en and I found myself in a dimly lit, spooky-looking Cathedral. Although I wandered through several NYC cathedrals a few years ago to look at the architecture, I haven't actually sat down in a church of any sort since Christmas of my fourteenth year. But here I was, sitting on a folding chair in the darkened Cathedral of St. John the Divine, staring up at the dimly lit ceiling that angled steeply towards the heavens. The chair dug uncomfortably into my back and the large old man who was crammed in close to me was breathing too loudly. I felt rather than saw him turn his head to whisper loudly to his wife. I was ready to be annoyed.

Suddenly, the bold clear melody of Bach's Toccata [et Fuga] in D Minor cut through the air like a knife, carving vast, powerful silences in the spaces between each note. It was a message from my past. Unexpectedly, magically, I was simultaneously transported and thrilled by the majesty of music; I was a brand-new person once more, living solely in the moment, absorbed in sound. I was a child again, momentarily freed from my adult body and worries and disappointments. The fat man seated next to me fell silent and seemed to dissolve away into the darkness.

I came to this Hallowe’en celebration out of curiosity. Despite being raised and educated in a very conservative Lutheran tradition with strong ties to the Catholic church during my early years, I had never known any church to celebrate Hallowe’en by showing old horror flicks and by cramming itself full of demons, ghosts and walking corpses to entertain the public as St. John the Divine was doing. Apparently, my religious education was lacking; this is an annual event here. So I came with two friends**, prepared to enjoy the odd juxtaposition of a christian place of worship serving as the stage for what still is widely perceived as a pagan holiday.

Like all church holidays, Hallowe’en originated from ancient pagan traditions. Hallowe’en's roots are in native Druidic practices that were adopted, with only slight modifications, by the Catholic Church centuries later. But why did the Druids (and later, the Catholics) choose this day to celebrate this particular festival? In Celtic Ireland in 5th century BC, the end of the harvest was October 31, known as "Samhain" (sow in; from the Celtic sam + hain meaning "end of summer"), which was followed by cold, dark winters full of death. Predictably, this time became a festival of the dead.

The Celtics believed that the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead blurred on Samhain, thus allowing the spirits of the dead to visit the living and to possess them, if they desired. So the living extinguished all flames in their homes and later re-lit them from a sacred community bonfire where they made sacrifices of grains and animals to pacify the mischievous, often destructive spirits roaming amongst them. The living also dressed up as ghouls themselves, crashing around their neighborhoods and generally being obnoxious so as to deceive real ghosts into believing that they too, were dead and therefore, not worthy of possession. Perhaps to drive their point home, Samhain was observed with three days of pranks.

The Catholics came into the Hallowe’en picture much later. In 835, Pope Gregory attempted to replace this pagan festival of the dead with a church-sanctioned observance by designating 31 October as Hallowe’en, 1 November as All Hallows (All Saints) Day, and 2 November as All Souls Day -- all dedicated to honoring the lives of those who had died during the previous year. In some countries, this holiday made a smooth transition into established Catholic practices, most notably Mexico's Día de los Muertos, which has its own roots in ancient Aztec traditions.

Abruptly, Bach's Toccata ended in a brief moment of reverberating sound, followed by softly dying echoes, then enfolding silence. After a brief pause, the peculiar 1920s horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was projected onto a large screen suspended high above our heads near the front of the cathedral, complete with digital organ accompaniment (sadly, St. John the Divine's real pipe organ was badly damaged by a fire in 2001 and is still undergoing repair). I had never seen a silent film with a live musical accompaniment, so I was intrigued. Does the accompanist watch the film and adjust his playing to it? Or does he ("he" was Timothy Brumfield, in this case) precisely time every scene and play accordingly? Unfortunately, I was unable to locate the organist later to ask him about this.

After the film ended, it was followed by The Procession of the Ghouls, a prolonged and unruly parade of "puppets"; humans encased in a wide variety of costumes ranging from wraithlike monks robed in black, gliding ghosts, horned demons with pitchforks for tails, pencil-thin corpses that stood 10 feet tall and other creatures of the night (I was most pleased to see what resembled a Great Horned Owl -- a cousin of mine -- represented among the costumes). The most ghoulish (and mobile) of these creatures singled out particular audience members to torment by chasing them mercilessly -- sometimes into the streets and between stopped cars filled with astonished people before their screaming victims managed to escape by boarding a bus or ducking into a restaurant.

On the way out of the cathedral, I lingered again near the entrance as I had when I first entered to enjoy the lovely cello playing by an unnamed human skeleton with straw poking out of his, er, naked and exposed skull. I wanted to ask the skeleton to identify the piece he was playing but the crowd made it impossible to approach too closely. While my friends and I stood around watching ghoulish antics and appreciating the music, we noticed a toddler dressed up in a neon orange Tigger the Tiger costume and perched on his father's shoulders, waving. The skeleton waved back, toothy jaws grinning broadly in the gloom, with barely a pause in his music.

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** Hedwig the Owl extends her sincerest thanks to her two friends, G and A, who graciously donated to the Unemployed Loser Fund to cover the cost of her ticket (surprise! this was an unexpected expense) and a delicious meal afterwards.

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Light of the World, Hold Me

Oct 25 2004 Published by under Uncategorized

Morning arrives, cold and cheerless. An unwanted guest. Sunlight pokes pale skeletal fingers through bedroom curtains. I pull the covers over my head. Go away.

Winter's icy breath sighs into my open window. I snuggle deeper under my fleece patterned with brightly-colored peacocks, resenting the flight of calm darkness, trying to ignore the clamoring horses of dawn.

Curled under my fluffy blanket, I hear the muffled but familiar voices of the newscasters on National Public Radio, channeling the voices of the world. After hearing their stories throughout most of the years of my life, they are my family, even though I've never met any of them. I poke my head out from my warm cave to listen carefully, concentrating, hoping to hear a story about hope, something to buoy me all day, so I can rediscover my lost words. After a few minutes of murder and mayhem, I decide that I'd prefer the newscasters to read aloud to me, maybe a Harry Potter book or some of Mary Oliver's poems. Finally, sadness loosens her grip somewhat when one of my parrots murmurs softly, "Good morning!"

She has such a sweet voice. I should teach her to recite Mary Oliver;

That sweet flute John Clare;
that broken branch Eddy Whitman;
Christopher Smart, in the press of blazing electricity;
My uncle the suicide;
Woolf, on her way to the river;
Wolf, of the sorrowful songs;
Swift, impenetrable mask of Dublin;
Schumann, climbing the bridge, leaping into the Rhine;
Ruskin, Cowper;
Poe, rambling in the gloom-bins of Baltimore and Richmond--

light of the world, hold me

-- That Sweet Flute John Clare by Mary Oliver [West Wind, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1997. Reprinted without permission, with no intent to profit in any way]

I inhale strength. Resolve. Today is the day that I will be confident, professional. Today, I will fight for my career. I will be worthy of keeping my birds another day, as if providing them with excellent care isn't good enough.

But it isn't. I resent that this is my life. But I am not giving up. Not today. Comforting warmth pulls at me as I climb out from under my fluffy peacocks, stumbling a little in the chilly air as I stand up and open the curtains.

Light of the world, hold me

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Greed -vs- Jobs

Oct 17 2004 Published by under Uncategorized

I watched the presidential debates over the past few weeks, which requires some effort on my part because I don't own a TV. Since I watched all of the debates at several different pubs on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I was unable to indulge my desire to throw popcorn and other objects at the TV during crucial moments, although I did manage to slip in several smart ass quips when one or the other of our two presidential candidates came up for a breath of air. Encouraged by my fellow patrons' ensuing amusement and my own state of debate-generated confusion, I have been bitten by the "opinionation bug", just as everyone else has been in blogland.

Predictably, several comments made during the last round of the debates put my panties into an especially tight twist while also making me choke on my wine and gee, I'll bet you can already guess who said them.

As a newly unemployed person sitting in a bar with a bunch of (employed) strangers, I was particularly surprised by George Bush's evasive answer to the unemployment question. Instead of showing that he is not out-of-touch with the average American by addressing issues that unemployed people must deal with, he instead pontificated about "create[ing] the jobs of the 21st century". This answer was a verbal slap across the face of every American. Instead of telling us why his economic policies provide tax incentives that favor American companies that hire overseas, instead of explaining why his administration does not allow unemployed job seekers to renew their Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits after six months so they can reduce or avoid debt, bankruptcy and possibly even homelessness, Bush instead yammered about sending us to local community colleges so we could get the training necessary for those mythical "21st Century Jobs". Not surprisingly, Bush neglected to address several important issues that confuse me still; can his proposed two-year college degree really provide the training necessary for these "21st Century Jobs"? What are these new "21st Century Jobs" and won't they also be "outsourced" to the cheaper overseas labor market? Since UI lasts only six months and provides a minimal amount of financial support, how can an unemployed person simultaneously afford tuition, books and living expenses while being educated at a community college for two years?

Because I couldn't find any statistics for unemployed people with two-year Associate's Degrees, I decided to instead ask how many unemployed people in the USA have four-year college degrees: Does Bush even know? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with a Bachelor's Degree had a 3% unemployment rate at the end of 2003, which are the most recent statistics that I could find. But if this unemployment rate for people with Bachelor's Degrees is due to "outsourcing" or "downsizing", I fail to see how an additional two-year community college degree can resolve this problem. In fact, I would guess that jobs requiring a two-year degree are more easily outsourced than are jobs that require more education.

Of course, these numbers do not include that growing number of people with a Bachelor's Degree who are "underemployed"; who are working "survival jobs" with little or no security, that pay poorly (often with no benefits) and are outside their field of expertise. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any statistics for "underemployment" although my underemployed friends tell me it is very common (I also expect I will be "underemployed", unless I end up with nothing at all after UI ends). I have also not yet been able to find any unemployment statistics for people with advanced degrees, although I know these numbers are collected because I provided them on my own application for UI (oddly, Master's and Doctoral Degrees are classified together). Considering this information, I am confused as to how an additional Associate's Degree can resolve the underemployment problem for people with Bachelor's, Master's or Doctorate degrees.

In view of these statistics, education is obviously not a panacea for unemployment. In fact, everyone I know who is unemployed has at least "some college" as classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and most whom I know have a Master's Degree while several have a Doctorate. Granted, my friends represent a biased sample, but this does not negate the fact that all of them are having difficulties finding work, any work. The reasons are clear; for innumerable unvoiced reasons, employers simply refuse to hire anyone who is "overqualified" or, alternatively, if hired, the wages at these so-called "survival jobs" are so abysmal that they create enormous difficulties for simply paying rent and thus, many underemployed people are forced to rely on food banks and food stamps to avoid malnutrition or worse, and to rely on community free clinics to cover their health needs while worrying they will lose their job entirely if they miss work when they or their kids get sick or when they interview for another (better) position. All this, and they still must devote many hours every day to finding adequate employment in their field. Many give up.

This leads me to ask why UI is not renewable? The statistics show that many people cannot find a permanent job -- often even a temporary poorly-paying "survival job" -- within 26 weeks, so why should they be punished by not being allowed to extend UI while continuing their job search? No one can survive indefinitely on UI anyway, but it is at least enough to cover most people's rent while they look for appropriate work. How are these people supposed to survive after their UI ends? More "temping"? Credit cards? Theft? Welfare? Sleeping in their mother's garage? But if they have no family (like me), do they end up in a shelter?

"Outsourcing" itself raises important issues. But before I discuss that further, I want to make it clear that my unemployment situation does not stem from "outsourcing": instead, my unemployment results from funding cuts to government agencies that support basic research, such as the National Science Foundation; faculty hiring freezes at a fair number of universities; and the increasing reliance by a large and growing number of universities on hiring poorly-paid adjunct ("temp") professors to teach their students so their few older and more established professors can enjoy a reduced or non-existant teaching load while pursuing research. But undoubtedly, I will be ranting about that later!

Do the short-term financial advantages to American Corporations resulting from "outsourcing" labor outweigh the risks of longer-term disasters that could result? For an example, let's look at the recent flu vaccine fiasco. Our government contracted with a British company to produce flu vaccine for Americans to supplement vaccine that is produced here, but this company apparently had poor quality control and their vaccine was ultimately destroyed as unsafe, leaving this country with a severe shortfall. This vaccine shortage can pose a threat of unknown magnitude to our health and even our national security, especially because a potent strain of avian influenza currently lurks a few hours' air travel away (Does anyone remember the great flu pandemic of 1918?). But why were we purchasing flu vaccine from a company in England when it can be, should be, and IS produced here?

Since the English flu vaccine was contaminated and thus deemed unusable, we will instead purchase flu vaccine from Canada -- but wait a minute ... didn't Bush claim in the 8 October debates that people should not be purchasing drugs from Canada because if "it [pharmaceutics] looks like it's from Canada, and it might be from a third world" (sic)? I think this incomprehensible statement can be translated to mean that Bush believes Canadian drugs are either comparable in quality to those found in Third World countries or that they originated in Third World countries. (What do the Canadians think about this?) If either scenario
is true, then why is our government doing the very thing that Bush denies to private citizens; purchasing "dangerous" pharmaceuticals from Canada? Is this Canadian vaccine trustworthy? If it is, then why should we believe that other Canadian drugs are as "dangerous" as Bush claims they are? Does this obvious policy conflict make any sense to you?

Another important question is whether Bush even knows what are his proposed "21st century jobs" that he promises to educate us for? Our previous economic/employment downturn in 1992 (when Bush's daddy was in the White House, hrmmm) occurred when our economy was transformed from manufacturing to a service-based economy. But now, both manufacturing and service jobs are disappearing and there is nothing left for anyone to grab on to, hence our "jobless recovery", so no one -- not even George Bush -- knows what these "21st century jobs" are. If Bush doesn't know what these jobs are, how can he claim that a two-year degree is adequate or appropriate for them?

Can he even speculate as to what sort of education we might need? Because Bush wants "to emphasize math and science in the classrooms", it appears that he thinks these jobs might be somehow related to math and science. But I am a scientist whose profession involves cloning, sequencing and analyzing DNA, which is very high-tech and cutting-edge, indeed, "21st Century", yet I am unemployed, and I know several others who are, too. So there is a little discrepancy here regarding the future employment value and job security for those educated in the maths and sciences.

Or maybe Bush's mysterious "21st Century Jobs" are those that simply cannot be outsourced or automated: jobs such as waiting tables, driving a taxi, being a bike messenger, a janitor, a cat sitter or a dog walker, delivering pizza, working in the corporate mailroom; jobs that for the most part, pay poorly, provide little security and few, or no, benefits.

Clearly, this country is suffering a crisis of corporate greed. Our nation and its future are being damaged by the loss of jobs as corporations pursue ever greater profits at the expense of their employees, loss of meaningful financial and social support for unemployed workers, increasing demand by employers for workers with expensive college educations to fill any sort of job, even jobs for which a college degree represents no demonstrable value, and an overall loss of respect for the dignity and humanity of all working people. Our national policies favor corporate interests over the interests of their workers. Is this any way to treat people who want to work? Is this any way to treat people who were working until they became victims of "downsizing" or "outsourcing" or whatever else? Is this any way to treat people who worked hard and sacrificed to get a college degree or two in the hopes that they would have a better life? What sort of country are we transforming into?

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Before/After (Transformation)

Oct 09 2004 Published by under Uncategorized

Courage is the price that life extracts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not knows no release from little things.
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights, where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.

-- Amelia Earhart

How often have you been at a party or other social event and been part of a conversation that starts something like this; "Do you remember what you were doing when ______________ happened?" This and similar questions are guaranteed to generate interesting conversations with most people, whether we know them well or not.

We are fascinated by Before/After events because they are landmarks in time that give us pause from our busy lives. They provide a touchstone where we can inventory our lives and also notice the lives of those around us, to take a few precious moments to think about where we came from, where we are going and what does all this mean? Before/After moments define us while simultaneously challenging us to redefine ourselves. To change.

Yesterday evening was a Before/After moment for me because yesterday, for the first time in my life, I became unemployed. It should have been difficult, but it wasn't. Even though I was deeply upset about it, I was surprised it was so effortless, seemingly painless, as if I daily move between destiny and aimlessness, between purpose and confusion. After I left my office, after I clomped gingerly down the marble stairways in that new pair of shoes that had been gnawing at my feet all day, after I stepped out of the building and into the crisp evening, I entered a new life, an uncharted world. It was so easy, like stepping off a building.

I stopped on the darkening sidewalk for a moment as people glided around me like corpuscles around a clot. I was momentarily lost. I wondered if I looked any different than I did a few minutes before. I caught a glimpse of myself in my mind's eye: standing nervously on the stone walkway, head bowed for a second before looking up and turning my head slowly, shocking passersby because half my face was torn away, revealing pinkish living bone, shredded tissues and half a mouth, crimson blood blackening the front of my fire-engine red blouse and trickling onto my charcoal grey slacks.

No one noticed me. At all.

Well, this was comforting -- not. I might look reasonably normal, but I am not reasonable at all: I am becoming a crazy person. Suddenly, the image fled, disappearing with as much finality as if I'd snapped a heavy book shut: pop.

I really need to get more sleep, I sighed. For reassurance, I briefly touched my work badge and keys, my constant companions for the past two years. They were snuggled comfortably in my pocket, a promise of tomorrow.

The Before/After moments that most people talk about at parties are public events. 911. The tragic death of Princess Diana. The Oklahoma City bombing. The Challenger catastrophe. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India. But unlike public events, many of the Before/After events that are truly transformative are small and personal and are lost to all except that one observer or participant who was truly alive in that instant.

Like everyone, I've experienced several transformative events in my life, most of them small and personal. Before/After my parents abandoned me to the courts, meeting my first lory, earning my doctorate, moving across the country to NYC and not knowing a soul here. Each moment was a transformation, a letting go of my familiar life and reaching for another, unknown, life. Each Before/After event was accompanied by a pause when I was redefining myself, flying free with no encumbrances, no past and no future.

But one transformation was more powerful and important to me than any other; the moment I realized I could read. Reading, for me, occurred like a stroke of lightning. One instant, I was a child making up stories to accompany pictures or I was staring at letters in newspaper ads, tracing them with my fingers, naming them and making their sounds, longing with an intense desire that was almost physically painful for the veil of mystery to lift when suddenly, a brilliant flash of comprehension exploded my tiny existence and changed me forever.

During the intake of a single breath, in the electrical firing of one neuron, my old life was swept away and almost immediately forgotten as the world flung open her mind and heart to me in a blaze of glory. This instant cleaved my life into two parts, defining me as "before" and "after" as no other event could: Before, I was a creature of soil; heavy, creeping, pedestrian, but after, I became a citizen of air; soaring, etherial, dynamic. Suddenly, I could travel anywhere, be anyone, I could explore lands, time periods, personalities, languages and ideas that I had never imagined nor dreamed of in my short life. In that moment, I was transformed into a thirsty disciple of humanity's collective stream of knowledge and experience.

The dictionary was, and still is, a close friend of mine. The dictionary eased my way into this new life. I remember reading the dictionary when I was a child, learning how to use it and then browsing its pages and learning words, hundreds of dazzling words. But more than simply acquiring words, the English language dictionary introduced me to the travels and the life changes each word experienced on its journey into the pages of the dictionary. Each new word stretched my mind, becoming part of my vocabulary and my very being when I invited them into the sentences of my stories. I pronounced these new words aloud, practicing them until they no longer rolled around awkwardly on my tongue like oversized marbles. Through them, I tasted the colors, images and music that these words evoked when I heard them or saw them in print. Words gave me all the tools I needed to truly discover the world and my role in it.

But not every important breakthrough is accompanied by a Before/After event. For example, I do not recall that moment when I first realized that birds were my one true calling, my place in the world, my future. Perhaps this is because there never was such a moment. In fact, I don't remember a time before I truly saw birds because birds always captivated me. When a child, I thought I was a bird and later, horrified, realized I was born into the wrong body, especially after waking from a dream where I was flying. A mistake had been made. I was a lost bird.

I once thought this perception was unusual, even a little peculiar, my own little secret, but no longer. When people -- strangers -- learn what I do, they often approach me and mention at some point during our conversation that they flew in their childhood dreams, too. How odd is that? they ask.

Apparently, this is not unusual at all. Dreaming of flight is fairly common, in fact. But why flight? What does flight symbolize for us? Freedom? Adventure? Filfillment? Immortality? Perhaps we all are lost birds. Perhaps this is why, throughout the ages, we all reached for the sky and all that it represents. As Victor Hugo said, Be like the bird in flight . . . pausing a while on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, yet sings knowing yet, that she has wings.

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Last Week's Job Ideas

Oct 03 2004 Published by under Uncategorized

It is clear that, after Friday, I will not be paid to work as a research scientist for an indefinite period of time. For the sake of preserving my shaky self-identity and self-esteem, I have worked out an agreement with my employer that allows me to continue my research (without pay), also for an indefinite period of time (does this make me a Hobby Scientist? A Gentleman Scientist?). I am trying to remain hopeful that this banishment from my career will last for only a short time. Meanwhile, I have been thinking of little jobs for me that might provide enough income to cover my rent and keep my companion parrots fed.

Monday, I was going to be a writer. My book was going to be entitled C'mon Baby, Light My Fire: A Walking Guide to the Firehouses (and Firemen) of Manhattan. My unique, "four buns ratings system" would be used in this book so the reader could, at a glance, compare each and every Manhattan firehouse on a variety of criteria that are not limited to fire and emergency response times. Since I plan to include lots of high-quality photos for my female and gay male readers, I do need a good photographer to accompany me as I go about my research (or at least, I require the loan of a good camera -- I am a fairly good photographer myself). Advanced sales are already promised by the women on CraigsList, few of whom actually live within 1,000 miles of NYC (so you know this book will be good!).

Tuesday, I decided to enter the social services field as a facilitator. Basically, I was going to hire myself out as a "Wingwoman". For those of you who don't know, a Wingwoman is a woman who accompanies a single man (her client) to a bar or other social situation for the purpose of checking out the women present. The Wingwoman approaches those women who are considered attractive by her client and chats them up with the ultimate goal of "selling" them on an introduction to her "brother" (best friend, whatever); her client. The Wingwoman acts as an ice breaker by encouraging these women to give up their phone number to her client so he can pursue them for dates (or sex or whatever passes for a date these days -- I personally wouldn't know).

Wednesday, I was going to be a gourmet chef. Because I will be unemployed and therefore, unable to afford the finest of ingredients, my specialty was going to be the thousand ways to safely obtain and prepare roadkill without causing undue gastric distress to yourself or to those friends of yours whom you wish to keep around for awhile. Since I have already turned the gas off in my apartment to save money, these dishes will be cooked using a microwave or crock pot. I have already developed some recipes that I might post here after my employment ends on Friday, including several that I have developed specifically for the long-distance commuter, so common to the west coast. These so-called "commuter recipes" are designed to be cooked on the engine block of your car while you commute (cooking times included, photos included whenever available).

Thursday, I gave in to the "cure-all solution" among unemployed persons in NYC: start my own business. My proposed business, Box O' Bugz would target the rapidly growing revenge market. I would round up my resident cockroaches, put them in a box and ship them anywhere in the world, alive (for a small fee, of course). This is a win-win situation: I will get rid of the disgusting little beasts while my clients can legally use them in whatever fashion suits their needs most. I developed this idea after listening to a friend's woes with her roommate. Her roommate sounds like she is in the final stages of vegetarianism while simultaneously suffering from chronic behavioral constipation. I informed my delighted friend about the advantages of a diet supplemented with cockroaches and how this dietary supplement would benefit her roommate and by association, herself. Because cockroaches contain protein, they will enrich protein-deficient diets such as those typically eaten by vegans, vegetarians and other dietary extremists. As an added bonus, cockroaches also contain fiber, thanks to their delicately crunchy yet indigestable exoskeletons, and everyone knows that fiber is a superb constipation reliever. Consuming copious quantities of cockroaches in breakfast cereal should put her roommate into tiptop shape by rectifying her self-imposed dietary deficiencies while making her easier to live with, besides.

Friday, I decided to give up on everything and pursue "Plan B"; sail away to the south Pacific Ocean where my research birds live. Plan B is not new. In fact, this is my favorite alternative life, one that I often think about on Fridays. I have been working on Plan B for a decade already; I purchased gallons of waterproof SPF50 sunblock, taken Indonesian language classes and sailing lessons, crewed on a racing sailboat and read many books about sailing and navigating the Pacific Ocean, and all of these accomplishments are coalescing into a nascent escape plan. But money has stopped me so far. Or, more precisely, my lack of money has made Plan B even more more challenging than it already is. Even sailing away isn't easily affordable for the nouveau chômeur.

Because I realized that I need to make the best that I can out of my current unemployment situation, which seems to be a bit of a joke at this point, I decided to become a circus clown on Saturday but was promptly informed that I need to go to Clown School first. Clown School! Who'da thunk it?? Because that also requires money, I am automatically disqualified.

Sunday, I rested (planning for unemployment is hard work!).

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