Friday, June 16, 2006

The 100th post

I’m writing this at work, which I’m fairly certain violates some clause of my employment contract.

Thing is, I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to write again before I travel. I’ll be away all next week but I’d been wanting to post some new material so now’s a good a time as any. One last thing on that travel bit – prolly no Internet access where I’m staying so please forgive me if I don’t reply your comments as quickly.


For a while now, I’ve been wanting to put more energy into my writing. Through a friend, I was recently introduced to an informal group of people who want to put out books and comics. Not all of them want to write, they just want be involved in something creative (one is a lawyer who’s offered to do up our contracts if any one of us gets offered a publishing deal).

It’s been really good though. I had initial fears it was going to be some pretentious book club but it’s actually been like a gym for writing. Well, actually it’s a cross between a gym and a lab. We get a simple assignment, we do it on the spot, and it’s amazing some of the stuff comes out.
I’m going to preview some of these exercises (and their results) from time to time for two reasons:
  • I think they send your head to all sorts of interesting places. This was important for me cos I was so focused on improving the writing I totally ignored improving the thinking.
  • I want to bring others along for the ride. More to the point, I want to see where you guys go with this. Don’t try and write. Don’t try and be a writer. You don’t have to. Just tell us a story.

Anyway, below is the experiment, and the result (my result anyway).
I’ll see you guys when I get back.

Experiment: One Syllable Rhythms.
Tell a story in words of one syllable.


Oh shit. It broke and now I’m dead.
What do I do?
I know.
The pill.
Doh! Too late!
Chill, Jen, Chill.
Mom will know.
Mom went through this last year.
Mom will help cos mom knows.
Mom will help.

Or Dad will know.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Someone to watch over me

Yesterday evening, a thunderstorm broke out in my part of town.
It wasn’t particularly heavy, and everyone reacted in the usual manner – irritation at having to endure the gridlock, and having to revise dinner plans.

What actually happened was in three different spots, all less than 50 metres from my office, trees well past their first century were uprooted. One of these spots is where I parked my car.

I imagine it takes quite a force to rip a tree with a trunk roughly 5 feet in diameter from the ground. And now that the shock has passed, it strikes me as odd that such a force didn’t suck the cars off the tarmac as well. I got to the car park and I saw my colleague looking like a tree fell on his car.

“You see your car?”
“Better get in there.”
“Where’s yours?”
“Under the tree.”

The radius of the damage was wide enough to do two things: Cover half the car park (it was a big tree) and force me to run a full circle to get around the roots and into the parking lot. That brief sprint was the longest five seconds of my life.

My car was covered in leaves and a long branch had fallen across the hood.
I don’t remember rushing up to the car, but I must have because I was circling it and patting it down like a burning child.

Four cars were crushed beyond repair.
The tree missed my car by less than two feet.

I’m not the religious sort, but I thanked God for saving my car.
A car which over the weekend, I had contemplated selling.
A car which I often park in very spot the tree was uprooted to save it from baking in the sun.
My folks are fairly devout Buddhists. I’m not, but I lit some jos sticks as soon as I got home. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This morning, the church gates were closed.
The tree has been cut into sections but it’ll take another day or two to clear it.
The only person I saw was the pastor surveying the damage.
I’m wondering: where is his car?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Giving credit

Every year, I make the same call to my credit card company.

“How may I help you sir?”

“I’m looking at my latest statement and there’s a charge there marked ‘Fees’.”

“That’s our annual fee charge, sir.”

“Can I ask you to waive that fee?”

“We don’t have that policy, sir.”

“Every other credit card company has a ‘free for life’ policy.”

“We don’t have that policy, sir.”

“If you check my record, you’ll see I’ve been a customer for quite a while.”

“Just a moment, sir…Yes, sir. Going on five years now.”

“Wouldn’t that warrant you guys waiving the fee?”

“We don’t have that policy, sir”

“If you check my record, you will find the following: A customer that’s never been late on a payment; A customer who pays in full every time; A customer who’s never once busted his credit limit. I’d think a credit card company would be pleased to have a customer like that. In fact, considering the cost of new member acquisition, waiving your annual fee seems like a laughable price to keep a good customer.”

“We don’t have that policy, sir.”

“(Sigh) Well, look at the points I’ve racked up over the years. YEARS. Don’t you guys have some ‘points in exchange for annual fee’ thing? Other card companies do!”

“We don’t have that policy either, sir.”

I’ve done this so many times, this scenario runs through my head automatically. Two things are predictable, their responses and my ultimate exasperation.

So, yesterday, I dialed the number and took a deeeep breath.

“How may I help you sir?”

“I’m looking at my latest statement and there’s a charge there marked ‘Fees’.”

“Let’s see if we can get that waived for you. Just a moment, sir…Yes, there you go. Just deduct that amount from your payment this month. Anything else I can do for you?”

Well, fuck me dead.