Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You borrow my brain for 5 seconds and just be like, "Dude! Can't handle it!"

I talk to myself pretty much all the time, even when I miraculously manage to avoid doing it out loud for a while. Occasionally I’m writing or making a grocery list, but often I’m just replaying a loop of the last thing to enter my mind until a new thought happens.

This habit is distracting and psychologically worrisome, but it doesn’t become a problem until I forget I’m in a public place and open my mouth. I’m apt to hold lengthy discussions with myself at the grocery store—it’s a consequence of the fact that, since finishing college, I can no longer do simple arithmetic without speaking out loud.

This process eventually devolves into shouting at various groceries for their myriad infractions.

They never submit to my authority, either. In general, I’ve noticed that the inanimate objects I address have a disheartening tendency not to follow my instruction.

It’s like they aren’t even trying. Somewhere in the midst of the melee, I’ll look up and realize that other people are around as well. Then I get all self conscious.

When they eventually take me away to a little white room with bars on the windows, at least I won’t be lonely.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Listen to All My Slacker Excuses

I’m in a play* that opens this weekend. We are rehearsing a lot at the moment. I currently get to spend 7 ½ to 9 hours out of every 24 at home, and that time has to be carefully divided among dining, bathing, and setting my laptop background to a slideshow of Star Wars screenshots. Also, my roommates keep insisting that sleep is nice, and I figure I should humor them and at least see what it’s like.

The point here is that all I can post this week is another passive-aggressive public service announcement I drew for my office. I will most likely actually write something new by Monday or Tuesday, so you can hold out for that.

In the meantime, just know that someone periodically takes down the stuff I post at work, so I have a tendency to replace it with updated material.

*If you live in Albuquerque, come see the show! Please don’t bring impressionable children or, in most cases, your grandparents. And yes, I’m the one with my head in the fridge on the theatre web site. I knew my wombat skills would come in handy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Do Not Chop Me With An Axe!

My 7th grade English teacher insisted that we skip lines when we wrote on notebook paper. I was unreasonably incompetent at this.

The rule made sense for someone who has to decipher student handwriting all day, but all the wasted space caused me physical pain. I think she even made us use only one side of the paper, and with every blank sheet I shed the sap-sticky tears of endangered forests. I even wrote her a melodramatic poem about the tragedy:

I came by this resource obsession naturally. Both of my parents spent years in the conservation-oriented National Park Service, and the combined forces of nature and nurture stopped just shy of turning me into a compulsive hoarder.

Shortly after I was born, my mother made an agreement with God that, if she could only use disposable diapers with a clear conscience, she would recycle everything else she ever laid hands on. So far she has kept her word to the tune of several tons of plastic and aluminum, every item of clothing discarded in the household, and at least one entire toilet.

The impact on my personality showed early. My elementary teachers repeatedly caught me rescuing inch-long pencils from the trash can and integrating toilet paper rolls into my art projects.

I also picked up a habit of reenacting the Sesame Street sketch with Frank the Water Conservation Fish. It’s still hard to breathe when I watch that animated water gushing down the drain.

I keep coming back to paper, though, because it seems to be thrown away with more gusto than other recyclables. I, meanwhile, can get three or four birthdays out of a single piece of giftwrap.

I’ve also been known to tear Kleenex in half when the immediate mucus incident did not merit a full sheet. Then again, that’s probably more because I’m cheap.

I pay my credit card bills online, but the bank keeps sending me paper statements and return envelopes anyway. Like the proverbial Native American using every part of the buffalo, I file the statements, keep the outer envelopes in a drawer for grocery lists, and squirrel away the return envelopes against the coming apocalypse. Last month I realized that once the world ends I won’t need to send letters, so I took a stack to the bank for reuse. The teller said, “I’m sure we’ll find something to do with them” in the same way that your 2nd grade teacher says, “Our class gerbil went to live on a farm after spring break.”

My current crusade is the office, where we toss or shred truckloads of stuff that is still, by my standards, perfectly useful. You say this letter is going to National Headquarters? That’s no reason not to print it on the back of last week’s pizza flier.

Since we’re a nonprofit and always scrounging for money, I’ve tried using the financial angle.
Me: You know how pay raises have been frozen for years?

Coworker: Yeah.

Me: That’s because you keep printing out your emails.
Then I opted for the Merciless Enforcer, but that was problematic.
Me: DON’T THROW THAT OUT OR I’LL SPIT IN YOUR COFFEE Oh hi, Boss, wasn’t that a fun joke hahaha but seriously put it in the recycle tray I mean it only don’t fire me please.
Now I’ve enlisted some coniferous help for an emotional blackmail campaign in my signage.

If this doesn’t work, I’m going back to Frank the Fish.

(P.S. Yes, we used the movie UHF to study the Hero Journey archetype in English class. This experience probably explains a lot about my worldview.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Buckle

We went to some church event in my early childhood where the more responsible teenagers watched the little kids so the adults could finally have some peace. The kindergarten room was pretty quiet because Meg and Vlad, the teenagers in charge, had a really large bucket of markers and a lot of construction paper.

Sedentary art projects are a good idea for mass child care. A less good idea is a healthy game of “Let’s All Call Vlad Names.”

I don’t know how this activity got started, or how it got approved, but none of us had ever played a funnier game.

We were all five- and six-year-olds sitting in a church, and it didn’t even occur to us to use Bad Words. I’m not sure I even knew any. We got creative instead.

I needed something really hilarious to keep up. I scoured the room for inspiration. After a couple of minutes we had used up pretty much everything on the table, all the furniture, and most of Vlad’s clothes. But no one had mentioned his belt! That comedic goldmine was all for me, and I announced triumphantly:

I had no time to enjoy my success. Before my first victorious “HA,” Meg yanked me out of the chair by my shirt and marched me into the next room.

It was dark, I was completely bewildered, and no one thought I was funny anymore. I was all set to cry even before it turned out I was in trouble.

Meg was very, very mad all of a sudden, and I had just remembered that this room had the haunted house in it last Halloween, and also weren’t there dead ghosts in the basement and could they get in here? And now she was yelling at me, too.

That’s when the real crying started.

I couldn’t even defend my innocence because my eyes and mouth were too full of liquid injustice. No matter how much I shook my head and wailed, I remained wrongly accused. It got even worse when she made me go back in and apologize to Vlad.

Meg was a really big buckle.