Public speeching

I discovered yet another talent in my arsenal of unmarketable qualities:

I am able to read, out loud, in perfect slam intonation.

(If you don’t know what that is, it’s a style of poetry delivery that is rhythmically associated with hip-hop. It’s showcased on HBO’s Def Poetry series. Okay. Now you know. Please continue below.)

I’ve attended open mic nights, slam events and I even served as a judge for a poetry reading contest. In retrospect, I think that was a case of mistaken identity. I think they thought I was Isabel Allende. Which explains why they kept on addressing me as Ms. Allende. Yeah, it was weird.

The point is, I never participated. Ever. I never tried writing that way. And I certainly wasn’t going to read, out loud, in front of people. As a matter of fact, I have a slight stutter that becomes pronounced the more nervous I get. It’s what killed my dream to be a radio host. It’s what killed my dream to be a weather girl.

(Not really. What killed my weather girl dream was my rather large bottom. At a screen test, I discovered that my ass completely covers the Florida Keys, always making it cloudy there. Okay. Now you know. Continue reading.)

So, the other day, I was reading through some blogs and articles and I came across something that needed a little help. Not that what I do is art by any means. I write by blog on my phone for Pete’s sake. But this was, well, bad.

It wasn’t even about grammar or spelling — God knows, I have no idea how to operate that machinery. It wasn’t about the facts or fiction or style or language. It was just complete nonsense. It was a bunch of random words put together in no particular order and masked as some deep artistic reflection.

For a moment, I thought it was that I just didn’t understand it. Like the time I attempted to read Ezra Pound’s Cantos.

So, I decided to read it again, out loud. As if hearing it with my outside voice would help decipher the meaning, plot, main idea, and/or purpose of the story.

I took a quick breath and through my exhale began reading. Only, instead of a monotone whisper, a weird rhythmic beat just flowed out of my mouth. It sounded like this:

“Do-you-knowwww—-that-the-painofthecow-and-the-horssssse—–are the measure of-the-cy-cle in the washhhh.”

That was weird.

I continued, “Youuuu—You-are-more—de-ee-li-ciousss–thanaglass-of-mar–bles-in-a-desert—–storm.”

I couldn’t believe it. I actually made it sound great. Like the words had meaning and depth and emotion behind them. And I thought, I can add this to my resumé. I can market this talent to companies as part of my skill set. I can hold a press conference and read from my prepared statement in this style.

“Good-afternoonnnn—Ihavethe-di-fi-cult-task—-ofannoun—-cing—-the-layyy-offff-of-many-many-m-a-n-y—employees…”

Reporters will weep.

But what if I take my talent beyond the traditional realms of PR? What if I can take it to Washington and use it to explain the healthcare bill?

“Blah-blah-blablblahhhh—-bu-l-la-lah-ah-ah-says-sec-tion-three-pointsixtythree.”

And then America, collectively, would say, “Oh, I get it now, I can get full coverage, regardless of my pre-existing conditions. You know, when President Obama said it, I really couldn’t understand him. But now, now that you’ve used a musical variation in your tone and spaced out words and emphasized consonants, now I totally get it.”

And once again, reporters will weep.

Sick school days

A good friend is about eight hours away from becoming a dad for the first time. But instead of nesting with his wife, he’s at work.

I met him many years ago at a job where he was the IT guru, before we were all IT gurus. After nine months making ridiculous amounts of money in the tech/web bubble, we were both laid off. Strangely, ever since, our on-again off-again employment statuses (or stati?) have mirrored each other. If I landed a job, he was sure to land one within the month. If he was laid off, I would be laid off within the week.

Only, this has been the first time that we are out of sync. I’m still fiddling with temporary projects, but he’s found a full-time gig, with benefits as a school teacher.

This last fall, he decided he had enough with the instability of his industry and the hours and the demands. That, and he had suddenly become an expectant father. So, Mr. Papa Don’t Preach decided to venture into the world of education to teach inner city kids all about computers and web design and CSS. At first it was a rough ride finding common ground with the youth he was taught to appeal to through marketing and design elements, but with the guidance of his wife, a tenured, professional educator, he was able to navigate the rough waters.

There was, however, one thing that was exactly the same from his days in the corporate world: the fear. And now with a new baby on board, it was multiplied by however many Pampers a newborn goes through a month. The fear of being dismissed. The fear of not being a good provider. It’s intoxicating…in a Chernobyl kind of way.

But it’s the school system. How bad can it be?

In his state, you are not automatically renewed every year. At the end of the school year, depending on the performance of your students, your professional review and – get this – how many sick days you took, you may not be invited back for the fall. His school system gives every teacher a bank of up to 14 days to use at their discretion, but as soon as your reach your 7th day of absence, you get a letter placed in your personnel file.

Between the fall and tomorrow, he will have only taken two days. The first he used to be at his mother’s side for a pretty serious operation and the second, tomorrow, to be by his wife’s side when she makes him Daddy Yankee.

And then, back to work on Monday.

Of course, they do offer paternity leave. Being a teacher does have some benefits, like getting paid for 10 months of work. But it is strongly frowned upon to actually use the benefit that allows you to take care of your own personal life.

I don’t have kids, nor do I want them. But that shouldn’t make me more marketable than the people who do want to start a family. Employers act like those kids also go on payroll and will eventually destroy their bottom line. Or that a sickly parent or a troubled teenager or a personal struggle needs to be dealt on the employees time, after 6:00 PM.

If only all of the attention placed on what happens in my bedroom after 6:00 PM would shift to what is happening to our workforce before 6:00 PM, then maybe we can see that preserving real family values is in conserving worker’s rights.

P.S. Papa Smurf, call me as soon as the new leader of the liberal party is born.
Put the kid to work right away.

List Service

I made a list of exactly ten things I wanted to improve, transform, build upon in the next year. I made the list on the eighth of this month, exactly five days ago. That means I have 360 days left to get’r done.

Now, I should tell you that I am infamous for wish list making. Wish listing. Not grocery lists and not the kind of wish lists you can make on Amazon either. I mean the, if-I-had-a-million-dollars-how-would-I-spend-it-list. At times, I also write down on a piece of paper an extensive house chores to-do list to both overwhelm myself and procrastinate.

This list, though, is very different. These are the ten things that I do or that I don’t do that prevent my full happiness.

Oh, and it is not a new age, sweat lodge list either. Although I do believe there is some validity in Quantum Physics and the Law of Attraction, this list isn’t prescribed by a guru or a book that requires security clearance.

Continue reading “List Service”