American Caricature

Yesterday I wrote a great story for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt. It was funny. Very funny. It was a really, really great story. And so funny. Taking my writing cues from the new leader of the free world, I can say that readers everywhere would have thought “Campfire Girls All Grown Up” was a great title for my great story about old childhood friends who had met life’s challenges head on with the support of their group which they now called The Drunken Poets Society. This great, really great, story takes place at the twenty-second annual Drunken Poets Campout. I was all set to hit publish. Then last night something happened. I went with my son to see John Cleese and Eric Idle in their Together Again At Last…For The Very First Time North American Tour.

If you don’t know who these guys are, what cave have you been living in?

The two comic giants played to a sold out house at the Majestic Theater in Dallas. The first act got off to a slow start. What else would you expect from two old farts? Still, it was entertaining and informative. For instance, I did not know that the first PBS station to broadcast episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus in the U.S. was KERA in Dallas, Texas.

Two red armchairs cushioned the iconic, and well-worn, actors as they reminisced about the good old days of Monty Python. Name dropping mixed with comedy sketches and songs, it was like sitting at the knee of a profane uncle and loving every minute of it.

What this has to do with my Friday Fictioneers story, you may be wondering. Or not. Well, last night in my sleep, Eric Idle came to me and said, “Campfire Girls All Grown Up isn’t funny. In fact, Honie, it stinks. Then he sang me a song he’d written just for me. I can’t share it here due to copyrights, quid pro quo trade negotiations, Brexit ex post facto, ipso facto e pluribus unum and all that, but suffice to say, it was really, really, great. Really.

So, this morning I woke up a little hung over curiously sober, and in the light of day I decided to embrace the absurdity of being American. Here’s my new and improved story.

campsite-jwf
Copyright Jan Wayne Fields

 Isolationism

I read the news today. Oh boy! Frackers and hackers have surrounded the backpackers. Obese schizophrenics protest en masse. No one knows for sure what has offended them today, but they are armed with selfie sticks, free with every purchase at Starbucks.

I experience fever then chills then uncontrollable laughter. Nausea follows. I want to run, sleep, and vomit all at once. I call my doctor’s office, calming down on hold while I sing along, “Billie Jean is not my lover.” The virtual nurse comes on the line.

“If this is an emergency, please hang up and call 911. Goodbye.”

***** 

Thanks to Rochelle and her trusty companion, Jan, for this week’s prompt. Check out more FF stories here. Thanks for reading.

Rejection: Bring It On!

Somewhere in the millions of words, yes millions, I have read on the subjects of service, sales, leadership, organizational culture, volunteer management, philanthropy, fundraising, corporate responsibility, civic engagement, dispute resolution, emergency planning, disaster response, business continuity, slavery, organic gardening, poverty, crime, education, public affairs, and all other manner of animal, vegetable, or mineral I recall a piece of wisdom that we have to hear NO ten times before we get a single YES.

This is strangely comforting as I embark on my search for what’s next for me in the world of the gainfully employed. However, my qualifications notwithstanding, the keyword firewall seems to be preventing my résumé from getting an actual human rejection. This has left me wondering if in addition to ten post-interview rejections, I must also get ten automated rejections. If that’s the case, I only need seven more before the certainty of an interview. Then the real rejections can begin.

It’s all a numbers game, right? There can only be so many computer generated rejections. Here are the ones I’ve received so far.

Subject Line: Thank you for your interest

Greeting: Dear Stephanie

Message: For each open position, we receive interest from many talented candidates. A team of professionals reviews each and every submission received. Unfortunately, you have not been selected to continue in our process. We wish you the best in your future career.

Salutation: Sincerely, Human Resources

No organization anywhere on the planet has an entire team of professionals who review each and every submission received. Liars! Whew, good thing I found that out up front. It would be really bad if I got the job only to discover at my retirement party that I had been working for liars.

This second rejection message was short and sweet.

Subject Line: Applicant

Greeting: S. Briggs

Message: After thorough consideration by the hiring team, other candidates whose credentials and qualifications are a closer match to the needs of this position have been identified. We wish you every success in your future endeavors.

Salutation: Sincerely, Staffing

They might as well have said, “We are awesome. It’s too bad for you that your skills and experience are of ZERO interest to us. We will fill the position with anyone who isn’t you.”

This next one is my favorite.

Subject Line: Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

Greeting: Dear Over-Qualified Job Seeker

Message: This email is to inform you that at the present time we we (this almost seemed like a yes in French until I read the rest of the sentence) will not be moving forward with your application. We (only one “we” this time) encourage you to continue to review available openings on our website.

Salutation: Sincerely, we we don’t really hate you. HR

P.S. Best Wishes

As you can see, the news isn’t all bad. Human resource departments all over the world have invested in the most up-to-date candidate screening technology. That is a big improvement from the years when my résumé went directly into the trash, bypassing the well-wishing process altogether. That doesn’t still happen, does it?

These next few months should be exciting. There is hope. Always hope. Come on rejection; let’s get to the good part!

Sincerely,

I’m ready.

Entertaining The Neighbors

Copyright: Jan Wayne Fields
Copyright: Jan Wayne Fields

My table set, guests on their way, I wait. I imagine the last time I saw them. Saw anyone.

“Which day did you tell them?”

“Did you say Saturday? Sunday?”

“Which day? Which day!”

The voices make me second guess myself. I pace. I stop. I stare out the window onto the view I’ve grown accustomed since…since that day. That terrible, terrible day I fell for the girl next door. How lovely she was. Her smile, kind and fragile, my heart’s delight. My soul’s torment.

“They’re not coming!” I shouted to no one. “Oh, wait. They’re already here,” I whispered.

*****

Never fear, Friday Fictioneers are here. Yes, I know the story is creepy. Sad really, in a Tell-Tale Heart meets Ina Garten sort of way. That’s what you get on a grey, cold January day when I’m cooped up waiting for classes to start. For those interested, okay, you two over there, I’m feeling better despite the bleakness of the season. Thanks for reading.

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2015, I’m All Over It!

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Another year, now what?

Recount the holiday hoopla and subsequent holiday hangover? Scratch out a feeble map for the journey through winter and poise for the herald of spring? Nah! How about we cut to the chase. Here’s the skinny, the straight dope, the bottom-line…

Kelsey Donovan wants more out of life. Her desires land her in a pool of excess every December, but by the time the last cork hits the floor on New Years Eve she’s had enough. She’s ready to turn over a new leaf, right the wrongs, restore her life to its former state of glorious potential. Yes, a new and improved Kelsey vows to take down her demons.

“This is the year, babe. My bad habits can go to hell for good.”

“To hell for good? Kels, sweetie, that doesn’t sound quite right. What are you sayin’? You’re going to try to find yourself? Again?”

“No. Yeah. I mean, this time it’s gonna be different. I promise.”

Every January the circus comes to town. First, it’s the closets, then the medicine cabinet followed by the pantry. Room by room, Kelsey tosses the previous year’s must haves into a box for charity, as though the impulse will catapult her toward what she craves. Of course, she’s not working without a net. Her husband, Brad, has seen it all. The cleanse calendar, the psychic who came to dinner, the year of Mother Theresa meets Martha Stewart. Brad has a memory like an elephant and, luckily, a sense of humor.

“My God, Kels, wait! Before you go all granola minimalist, let’s talk. Remember last Saint Patrick’s Day?  Have you forgotten what happens when cold turkey meets cold duck? Please, let’s not go through that again. Where is that drunken leprechaun outfit anyway?”

Kelsey and Brad are fictional characters, but their behavior is real. If you recognize it, even slightly, then you know what I mean. January sends people into spasms of self-improvement. Some get fit, some get real, and some simply get ripped off because they can’t give their money away fast enough to the promoters of every fantasy under the sun who are standing by at 1-800-SCAMMER.

What’s that you say? The world is full of people who want to help you succeed, find enlightenment, realize your dreams, publish your memoir. NO IT IS NOT! There are maybe half a dozen people on the planet who genuinely want to help us, and I can guarantee none of them are trying to reach us via pop-up ad.

Since mid-December I have been recovering from surgery. So, I’ve had LOTS of time to surf for all sorts of the things. Each time I found a site that looked promising and began to read an article, I was bombarded with ads. After a few days I began to notice some of the items I’d searched for were showing up in banner ads on totally unrelated sites. I mean seriously, what do grad students have to do with extra virgin coconut oil?…Nevermind.

In 2015, I hope to accomplish many things. One is to discover the answer to this one question. Who clicks on these stupid online ads? 

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A Bridge To Nowhere. Fast.

Copyright: Sandra Crook
Copyright: Sandra Crook

Marcie’s glare said it all. How many times had she brought the party only to discover Jade with some friend of a friend lookin’ for a free ride? Who was this guy anyway, callin’ her the Grinch who stole Christmas!

“Sticks and stones and all that jazz. Come on, he didn’t mean anything by it. Here, have a smoke.”

Marcie snatched the blunt from Jade.

“How’d you two find this place?”

“Marcie and me, we’re some kinda explorers, like Lewis and Columbus.”

“You mean Lewis and Clark.”

“No, I mean like the guys who discovered Ohio.”

“Dude, that was Columbo.”

*****

Thanks to world traveler, Sandra Crook and purple rainmaker, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for this week’s prompt. Have yourselves a merry little Thursday, everybody & check out more Friday Fictioneers here.

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columbo
Hang on dude, the semester is almost over.