Thursday, 18 June 2015

The Most Important Meal…

Hello Friends.

As I write, it is nighttime. I am feeling sleepy and accomplished. I’ve gotten a lot done at work this week, squeezed in visits to both the gym and the pool, and still managed to avoid all Game of Thrones spoilers (I should point out that this includes avoiding watching all episodes of the program, as it seems devoted almost exclusively to dragons and child murder, and I already watch Mad About You for that). I am also satiated from an easy chicken and veg stir fry and, though I had a big helping, I know I’ll be hungry again in eight hours or so and I’m kind of pissed off about that.

Dream: Find something to eat for breakfast.

Goal: Not achievable. I’ve been eating breakfast for 32 years now, and I’ve never felt ready to “take on the day” based solely on what I choke down upon waking. As you will soon discover, I’ve tried everything for breakfast, and it’s not a quality issue when it comes to the food or its preparation, it’s just that the concept of breakfast seems flawed from the get go.

Plan: Systematically take down breakfast food choices until I’m left, tired and hungry, with the best option.

1) Cereal. This was the breakfast staple of my childhood and, I suspect, everyone else’s. This remains my go-to morning sustenance, but it’s got a lot of problems. First of all, it’s either incredibly bland or incredibly sweet. Sugary cereals were banned from my childhood home and I resolved that I would stock my adult shelves with Froot Loops and Lucky Charms and Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Discs when the time came. I did, and it was disgusting. No morning is successfully greeted with a bowl of wet candy. But the plain cereals are just as disappointing. A bowl of Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, or Grape Nuts (what the fuck are those, by the way) is like eating flavourless pellets of chipped paint. And it’s cold! And it gets soggy! There’s nothing less inviting. Except maybe:

2) Oatmeal. The hot, moist cousin of cereal, oatmeal is what happens when someone chews up unflavoured popcorn and spits it back into your mouth. Yes, you can add brown sugar or honey, but that seems like an excuse to load up on sugar and head for a spectacular crash mid-morning. Some people add almonds, other nuts, or grains to their oatmeal, but that’s almost always an unpleasant textural shift. How do I know I didn’t just swallow some sand or gravel? I don’t.

3) Fruit and yogurt. I’ve been a fan of this combo for a while, but it too can fall into the trap of being cloyingly sweet. The only way to last a morning on a breakfast of fruit and yogurt is to have a lot of it, and nobody’s guts take kindly to too much yogurt. Doesn’t lactose have the opposite effect on an adult than it does on a kid? Like milk/yogurt/cheese for kids: good. Milk/yogurt/cheese for adults: bad? My stomach feels off when I’ve had too much dairy, and yet when I replace my fruit and yogurt with fruit and tuna, it’s never as good.

4) Pancakes. Pancakes are awesome, but they are dessert for breakfast. I love a pancake, but I also love the nap that follows a pancake. My father doesn’t cook much, but he will often make breakfast on Sundays when my brother and I are visiting, and there will be pancakes. They are awesome, but I have to go straight back to bed. Not a viable daily option.

5) Eggs. I love eggs. They solve the problem of an oversweet breakfast by being a savory front-runner. The variety of egg preparations means you’re not repeating the same meal every day. But then you’re one of those egg guys. If I have an egg for breakfast too many days in a row, I’m convinced I reek of egg. And it’s hard to have an egg without going overboard on sodium, even if it’s just a salted and peppered egg on buttered toast—that’s your salt for a year and a half. This is to say nothing of eggs with bacon or sausage, which brings me to…

5) Brunch. Brunch wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for Brunch People. Ohhh, I loathe you, Brunch People. Every weekend, you line up out the door with your unwashed hair and your “You know, people aren’t meant to wear deodorant” smell, and you ruin everything for everyone. It’s because of you, Brunch People, that I can’t get a glass of water in nearly any restaurant that is not served in a mason jar. Plus, Brunch People operate under a tremendous double-standard. Tell a Brunch Person that you had a hamburger or pizza for dinner and they will scoff at your unhealthy lifestyle. “Was it at least goat cheese pizza?” they will ask, doubtfully. “Was the burger made of grains?” But THEN, these same people will devour massive plates of eggs benedict with piles of meat, egg, and hollandaise (which is essentially a butter sauce with the consistency of you-know-what). They will deride my unhealthy food choices, then order eggs benny with a double helping of butter cum sauce and arrange their strips of bacon in a crisscross pattern so they can Instagram their #brunch.

I guess what I’m really looking for is a kind of breakfast soylent. A nutrient rich stew or bar that is texturally appealing, neither too sweet or salty, and packed with enough nutrients and calories to get me to lunch. As passionate as I am about delicious food, I’d forego the first meal of the day all together if I could. I think about becoming one of those busy businessmen who skips breakfast entirely. But then, because I’m so much fun at a party, I think about the sad breakfasts prepared at Meals on Wheels, or in hospitals, or for poor kids in schools. The cold, limp toast, the spotted banana, the overcooked egg substitute. Then I pour my cereal, or toast my bagel, or scramble my eggs, and shut the fuck up.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The 51st Shade…

Hello Friends.

Tomorrow night, I will be running a seminar for the organization at which I volunteer. The organization normally facilitates one on one tutoring, but occasionally plays host to bigger sessions where tutors lead workshops on life skills like eating healthfully, renting an apartment, or finding your “best side” for picture-taking. By the way, the older I get, the more I’m convinced that all but very few of us have a good picture “side” and a bad one. I always find my side when I look in a mirror and think, “Just remember to pose facing this way!” And then I forget which side is my good one and my portrait comes out looking like when crackpots see the face of a saint on an old potato. Anyway, my workshop tomorrow is on finding a job. I’ll go through how to write a resume and cover letter, and how to best prepare for a job interview. Well gosh, if ever there was a topic I was unqualified to cover, it would be this one. I spent years underemployed, and only landed my current job because my resume was uploaded to one of those job search sites (that’s lesson 1-10 tomorrow--find a good recruitment site and eat chips every night, hoping someone contacts you out of the blue).

This is all a roundabout way of explaining that I went through my old job board haunts just the other day, just to see if those sites were all the same (they are). Just for kicks, and because we’re always running out of the coffee in our department’s Keurig machine, I wanted to see what jobs would be pinging into my inbox were I still hunting for Writing Jobs across Canada. That’s when I saw it. The ad read: Erotic Overnight Writer Wanted. Are you a writer who has always wanted to explore adult themes? Do you have the ability to think on your feet and a flair for improvisation? Then we want to hear from you! Must be able to work from 11 PM to 8 AM, five days a week. This job does not require you to make or receive telephone calls.”

Dream: Become an Erotic Overnight Writer.

Goal: Achievable because this is a job that apparently exists, and I suppose I could have it.
What? I mean, what? Naturally, I applied for the job immediately. I have no plans to actually quit my current job, but if any job ads warrants further interest, it’s this one. I mean, what the hell is an Erotic Overnight Writer? Of the three words in that job title, it’s the Overnight that stymies me the most. I asked Jon, and everyone at work, what they thought it meant, and nobody had a plausible answer. The only thing I can think of, bolstered by the “flair for improvisation” bit, is that the job is like phone sex, but typing? Maybe there are real lonely, horny folks who are desperate enough to reach out to a stranger for stimulation, but too embarrassed to do it over the phone? Or maybe I’d be typing responses for one of those webcam performers. I guess their hands get busy with other stuff, but they still need closed captioning? The other possibility is perhaps the need for erotic literature is so great that they need someone at a desk, banging away at a manuscript, literally every hour of the day.
So I sent my resume along with a brief email in lieu of a cover letter, trying to convey that I was serious about the job, yet totally in the dark as to what it was and needed clarification immediately. I never received that clarification, nor any follow-up from the Erotic Overnight Writer people. When I checked on the same posting later that week, the ad had been removed with a note saying the position had been filled.

Plan: Never let that happen again.

Again, leaving my current job to sleep all day and work all night isn’t the least bit desirable but I’m just so curious! What IS this job? In case it ever comes around again, I’m determined to answer the ad with not just a vague cover letter, but samples of my as-yet-unwritten erotic writings.

I’ve always heard that men like to watch porn whereas women like to read porn. Literary erotica stimulates the female brain which allows their furtive imaginations to cultivate a sensually appealing scenario, which in turn puts the reader into an emotional headspace where she can create a pathway to arousal. Whereas men are like, “Are those boobs?—SPLORCH!” Of course I’m generalizing, there are surely exceptions, but it stands to reason that erotic literature is the province of women readers. By coincidence, Jezebel has been running a few pieces on the romance literature industry, which is home to varying degrees of erotic lit, and it seems that this industry runs the gamut of topics to cater to all possible tastes. This is good news for any creative writer, because as long as you can think of a unique sensual idea, there’s someone out there who’s bound to be turned on. Here are some scenarios I intend to flesh out in future Erotic Overnight Writings.

The Pilot with Long Hair. Basically, a woman gets on a plane and she’s bored and thinking, “Will I ever find love?” The stewardess, who is a dumb bitch, leaves the cockpit door open and the woman on the plane sees the pilot’s long hair, blowing in the wind (I guess the plane has an open window on it). So the woman’s like, “Alright, this is appealing to me” and then she and the pilot make love for hours.

That’s My Cat! A lonely lady lives alone with only her cats for company. One day she is pouring her cat Brock Sanderson a bowl of milk, when lightning strikes her house and she feels a jolt of electricity pour through her body and into the milk bowl. Then she’s like, “That’s weird” and goes to bed. Brock Sanderson drinks the milk and turn into a sexy grown-up man. At first their relationship is tentative because of his weird origin story, but they push that aside because the sex is so good.

On A Moored Houseboat with The Trivago Guy. Call me crazy, but I think The Trivago Guy has really stepped his game up with this new round of ads. He’s got that close-cropped silver hair and he still seems pretty laid back about all the great deals you can get on hotels. Anyway, he owns a big houseboat that’s dry-docked for some reason and he takes women there for nights of passion.

I Don’t Hate You Because You Didn’t Do The Stupid Thing You Always Do. A woman goes to the bathroom and just when she sits on the toilet, she realizes her partner only left two squares on the toilet paper roll. She’s about to yell across the apartment at him to launch into the same argument they have every couple BMs, when she notices there are fresh rolls of toilet paper under the sink. Rows and rows of neatly stacked, fresh rolls. “How practical!” she thinks, her eyes brimming with grateful tears. “Why doesn’t everyone do this for their partner?”

Let’s Watch All Your Shows, Honey. A night of un-commented on Masterchef culminates in a grateful half hour of satisfying, if perfunctory, lovemaking.

That’s all I have so far, but that’s something, right? It actually makes me a bit sad to think about what this mystery job might actually entail. What depraved junk might you have to create at 2 AM on a Wednesday? What’s the demand for that from a customer standpoint, and what would that do for your soul? I mean, sex is great and fun and ridiculous, but the bloom is off the rose if you have to sell it all night long for your income. Tomorrow I’m just going to tell my session attendees to thoroughly research all the companies they apply to. Applying for a job when you can’t picture what the job is seems far from ideal. But I will also tell these people that, once they find a job, to stick around if things are basically working out for them. I mean, yes, you never know what else is out there, but in the case of the Erotic Overnight Writer, maybe that’s a good thing.