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Day #156: The Importance of Being… A Yellow Robot

The Story:

“What a fantastic evening, wouldn’t you agree, Donna?” Donna’s husband, Jacob or “Jake” swirled the last of his merlot and raising the glass to his mouth peered over its rim expectantly at his wife.

Donna, who was not having a glorious anything, looked from her husband to the other’s in their group, none of which she knew personally, and managed to nod. Thankfully the evening was drawing to a close and she could soon retire to the sweet sanctuary of a good book, warm cup of tea and perhaps a hot bath. The thought alone managed to sustain her through the current conversation. Donna looked around the room and hoped that an excuse to escape would make itself apparent, but not seeing any turned back to the conversation. God, did she hate these types of events, nothing but small talk, food too small to eat with a fork but too big to eat in one bite, way too many tables and only three chairs, and they had just run out of cupcakes. Add to that the fact that Donna had been required to wear heels to this soirée for her husband’s work and Donna was officially miserable. The only redeeming thing of the night was the performance of The Importance of Being Earnest that was included in the night’s festivities.

An actual look at tonight's players... bravo! (and yeah, that's a dude playing a chick in the red)

Finally Jake began to go through the motions of beginning to say goodbye and bring their night to a close. About ten minutes later they were walking to their car and began the drive home. In his typical fashion, Jacob began to recount the highlights of the night, running through the entire event as if she hadn’t been by his side for the duration. He especially liked to narrate each conversation they had been a part of- down to the last trivial detail. “Hey, let’s stop at that Quickstop for a drink, I need a Gatorade or something,” Jake interrupted himself long enough to say before pulling into the convenience store.

While Jake perused the drink selection in the coolers at the back of the shop, Donna wandered to the front by the checkout and scoped out all the latest brick-a-brack for sale. Seeing that Jake was walking towards the front with his Gatorade, Donna sidled up to the counter and a box of brightly colored rings immediately caught her attention. In bright neon colors were about a dozen of cheap metal robot adjustable rings. Honing in on a bright yellow robot with nerdy glasses framing his rhinestone eyes, Donna was picking it up and rubbing her thumb over it before she realizing what she was doing. “Cute, aren’t they?” The weathered woman behind the counter smiled as she noticed Donna’s fascination.

“They’re fantastic,” Donna said with an almost reverent tone. “I love this yellow guy,” she said after a few seconds.

“Yeah, he’s my favorite… he needs a good home,” she said and smiled again showing her perfect but smoke stained teeth.

“I’ll take it,” Donna said without another thought and slipped the ring on her finger.

“Good, I like you. And I like that robot, so things worked out all right tonight, that’s a good thing,” the lady responded as she scanned Jake’s Gatorade.

Back in the car, Jake was about to pick up where he left off and then he noticed the faraway look in his wife’s eyes and she absently played with the absurd robot ring. “I’m sorry honey, I’ve been going on and on about what I enjoy tonight and all the great conversations I had. What was your favorite conversation tonight?” Jake looked curiously over at his wife in the dark car, the passing street lights splashing an orangish hue onto her face every few seconds.

“My favorite moment and conversation of tonight was the one I just had,” Donna said with a smile.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Tonight I dragged Andy to a work event honoring esteemed alumnus of our college which included a cocktail hour, followed by an hour-long award presentation and rounded out by a presentation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. These sorts of things are not usually my bag, but to be honest, it’s the only way I can afford to go to the theater so I manage to swallow an hour of awkward social situations in order to take in a play (on my employer’s dime, no less). The performance was excellent, of course it’s one of my favorites, but still, it was excellently done. Despite this, I have to say my favorite moment came after leaving the theater and stopping into a 7-Eleven for a tea. It is there that I found the cutest lil robot ever, and he had to be mine. After absently handing the cashier two dollars for the little guy, I started t ochat with her about each of the different robots on display and what we thought their personaility was like. There was the hipster, the flake, the hot girl, the cool dude and then… there was my ring- the yellow one. The cashier agreed that it was by far the best one, and her personal favorite. I could see why. Besides yellow being my favorite color, I don’t know, he just spoke to me, ya know? Funny how conversations with strangers I’m supposed to have a lot in common with, we are colleagues after all, can feel so canned and forced and then, a conversation with another stranger, one that I doubt I have very much in common with at all, can feel completely natural and was, frankly, preferable to all the other conversations that night. That’s the beauty of yellow robots.

And I shall call him Earnest!

Love & Squirrels.

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Day #141: Book Bungalow

The Story:

For years he had agonized over it. Discarded prototypes and half-finished blueprints were haphazardly strewn about his unfinished basement, making navigation almost impossible for the rare visitor who might wander into Charles’ dimly lit domain. On that uncommon occasion his door was not locked and one was willing to make the treacherous trip down the twenty-one steps, you would doubtless find Charles bent over his work desk in the far left corner of the basement. Working with such severe concentration and making only the occasional subdued movement, it would appear to the careless observer that he had fallen asleep if not for the left foot that was always tapping away at some nameless tune.

He was so close, he could feel it in his nose hairs. His other designs had been lacking in one key component or another, although there had been a few successes, the Blatant Bookmark for one. Charles’ chuckled as he recalled how book-lovers, introverts and your run-of-the-mill misanthropes all raced to replace their tasseled markers with Charles’ less-than-cordial bookmark designs. Utilizing a wrap-around design, the Blatant Bookmark held the reader’s place with one side while the other faced out over the cover and announced to any and all who threatened to interrupt an engaged reader not to bother. In bold letters, the bookmark all but screamed phrases like, “Can’t you see I’m reading?” and “Hold that thought, I need to finish this chapter”. People actually began to buy books just so they could display their Blatant Bookmark. This of course irritated Charles who quickly discontinued them.

Scrapping yet another sketch, Charles sighed in frustration. Would his dream ever come to fruition? Throwing his #2 pencil down, Charles arched his back and rubbed the nape of his neck, allowing his eyes to drift aimlessly around the garage. Lighting upon his old sleeping bag on the self above the cluttered mess that covered the under-utilized washer and dryer, an idea suddenly struck him. It was so simple, could it possibly work? Grabbing his trusty #2, Charles set to work on a fresh sketch. Working furiously for hours, he finally sat back and grinned, “This just might work,” he said to the empty basement.

And that is how a socially-awkward and conversationally-challenged bookworm changed the landscape of how many of us now read while in public- especially those of us who do not care to be disturbed. From that humble beginning in a cluttered and dingy basement sprang to life the design for the Book Bungalow. A simplistic design, the Book Bungalow combined the concept of the common sleeping bag and the folding technique of a road map and managed to constuct it in such a way that it ultimately took the shape of a book jacket. So, when a book enthusiast wished to be left to read in peace, they would simply unfold their Book Bungalow, step into the center and fasten the clasps around them, instantly providing a personal reading haven that doubled as a buffer from the outside world. The material used was rigid enough to stand, opaque enough to conceal and allowed for plenty of ventilation at each of its edges. In many ways, it resembled a small outhouse in its shape when fully erected. The design was an instant phenomenon. Publishers the globe over were soon demanding the Book Bungalow for all their hardback best sellers. Amazon.com wasn’t far behind and began offering the Book Bungalow as a stand-alone option in several sizes and colors.

Charles couldn’t be bothered with any of that however. He had one care, one goal of his life and he had fulfilled it. Happily, Charles sits in his own custom Book Bungalow, oblivious to his own fame and amassing fortunes, and reads from sun-up to sun-down.

Charles' next design... cozy

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Today marks maybe one of the longest work days for me each year- the UCF Grad Fair. After working a full eight hours I then have the pleasure of spending another two and a half hours talking to undergraduate students about their potential application to my program. Ok, to be honest, I actually really enjoy this event, I like helping students and giving them information that for the most part, helps alleviate some of the stress that goes into applying to graduate school (a sometimes daunting task). What I don’t like is the downtime prior to the doors opening where all the different staff and program representatives pass the time by chatting and scoping out the other programs. Well, I tried to play that game. And I got shut down. Then I got ignored. So, I resolved to just read my book until the moment that students were allowed in- I’m not a huge fan of small talk anyway. Well, wouldn’t you know it, just as soon as I picked up my book, someone decided that they wanted to chat with me. Awesome. Being ignored, snubbed even, and then interrupted all from my supposed colleagues, immediately put me in a foul mood. While I brooded I also began to daydream about a solution that could shield me from such awful social interactions… what if my book could transform into a big book that I could just climb into? What if there was something that, while reading, could encircle me in a protective layer and deflect any judgment or potential interruptions? Man, that would be sweet. So sweet in fact, I decided to invent one… I mean, Charles invented one.

my idea of heaven

Love & Squirrels.

Day #77: Hiding In My Hair

Posted on

The Story:

I for one am convinced that 'bangs' were the brainchild of an introvert... but I'm a little biased, I guess

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

I strayed again tonight… felt the urge to pick up a pencil and scribble a little, thanks for indulging me!

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

not...quite...long...enough...

ONE:      Today I was feeling very “I” (that’s for you Kristi M.!) or introverted for all of you non Myers-Briggs people (if you ever want to discover what your personality preferences are, I highly recommend taking a quick online MBTI test, it’s super interesting… at least I think so). As an INFP (see what that means here) sometimes I just want to tuck away from the world and be left alone with my thoughts for a day. Thankfully, my position is one that allows me that indulgence, for the most part, and besides a few inquiring students I had the day to myself. But as I was leaving for the day, I heard (and felt) someone close their office door and begin their trek down the hallway just a few steps behind me. Perhaps this is just a Samism (something that bugs me), but this is one of the most unsettling sensations for yours truly. I feel completely awkward… do I turn around? Do I sneak a glance to see if I know the person? If I do know them, will I have to wait and try to come up with small talk as we walk the same path to our car? Do I hold the door open for them or if they get to it first does that mean they are holding it open for me to go first or are they going through first? Whew… and yes, that is but a small glimpse into the brain of a true introvert (or maybe, just my brain). So… to answer your question, I decided to NOT turn around. In fact, I actually let my hair fall around my face so it blocked my peripheral view, allowing me a plausible excuse for not looking if the person in question was actually an acquaintance wondering why I hadn’t stopped. Hair in my face… hmmm… I wonder if there are other benefits to walking around sheltered by a mane of hair, peeking out only when it suits me…

Love & Squirrels.

Day #2: Small Talk

Posted on

The Story:

“This is gonna be a tough one.” Wiping the remnants of his morning banana from the fringe of his mustache with the back of his swarthy hand, Jimmy peered up to the 21st floor and shook his head.

“Yep, don’t like the look of this one…” he continued to no one in particular, “got that desperate look about him”.

Tossing his banana skin to the ground, Jimmy hitched up his dungarees and worked his way to the building entrance.

To see Jimmy once is enough to give even the causal pedestrian an instant idea of his character. To speak with him only reasserts your first impressions that here is a man who knows what he likes… and it ain’t much. That being said, Jimmy prided himself on being able to talk anyone into just about anything, be it a hardened junky into giving up the needle or convincing a 10-year-old Girl Scout into giving him half off a box of Samoas.

Climbing the stairs used to be part of the thrill, but now a days they only reminded him that he was pushing 60 and should have traded the double cheeseburgers for bananas more than two decades ago. “Damn bananas…” he grumbled to himself. None of that mattered now, he needed to focus. On flight 17 he lost the battle with his pride and took the elevator; after all, every second counted and he couldn’t risk things ending badly because he was hefting a few too many pounds for his 5’11’ frame.

Upon reaching the window in closest proximity of the ledge, Jimmy paused, ignored the urge to vomit, (would he ever get used to this?) and inched closer until he had the subject in sight.

“Hi, there, my name is Jimmy and I’m here to help. Why don’t you come down from that ledge so we can talk.”

On receiving no response after several minutes, Jimmy continued, “I can tell you that you don’t want to do what you’re thinking about. I know what it is to live with pain, son. I also know that it’s worth it, to live. Now why don’t we talk a little and see if we can come up with a better solution?”

“You don’t know what it’s like. I can’t take it anymore…I… I just can’t.”

Encouraged by enticing some sort of response, Jimmy was starting to feel that he may be gaining a handle on the situation. “You would be amazed to find what you can do, son. Take it from me.”

“Yeah, what’s that supposed to mean, old man?”

“It means I’ve seen some things, done some things, things I wish I could take back but instead have to live with every day. But it’s worth it. Trust me on this, son. It’s worth it.” Jimmy scanned the situation with his peripheral vision and decided the risk could be taken. All the safety measures were in place, the area was secured, workers from the building and all other civilians had been evacuated and Jimmy’s safety harness was secured to a load-bearing beam in case the worst happened. If he was going to take the risk, now was the time.

“Ok now son, why don’t you tell me what this is all about.” It was a diversion. Jimmy needed to keep him talking so when he lunged the subject wouldn’t have time to react and do something dumb…like jump.

“What’s the point? No one cares, no one gets it… why even both—“

Jimmy had made his move and using his haunches had sprung towards his subject with an agility that betrayed his age, but somehow… he had missed.

Dangling from the safety cord secured to the beam inside, Jimmy made a last desperate grab and watched, horrified, as the boy fell, helpless to do anthing.

GOD, NOOOOOO!!!!”, he screamed, “NOOO!!!”

Jimmy? Jimmy, why are you screaming?

Looking away from the sunless sky, Jimmy blinked several times before recognizing his nurse, Agatha. “Agatha, you’ve got to help me. I just killed another one,” Jimmy sobbed, “another one slipped right through my hands. I could have saved him. I had him, damn it! I had him! It should have worked, the risk was justified, I should have had him…I should have…”.

Shaking her head, Agatha bent down to pick up the discarded banana peel by his wheelchair and walked away. She had heard this story almost every day that Jimmy had been in residence, going on 6 months now, following his mental collapse when a 16-year-old boy fell to his death when Jimmy had been on the force as the suicide negotiator. She had tried to comfort him in the past, gave him extra meds to calm his nerves, but nothing helped. She had other patients to tend to, patients that could be helped, and Jimmy seemed beyond her, or anyone’s help.

Turning again to the window, Jimmy stared out at nothing. A few minutes later, or maybe an hour, (who can be sure in a room with no clocks?) the pigeon returned to the outside sill of the window and in short time was nestled quite comfortably in its usual spot.

An expression of awareness appeared on Jimmy’s face as he looked at the pigeon. “This is gonna be a tough one.”

“Yep, don’t like the looks of this one…” Jimmy said to the now vacant room, “got that desperate look about him”.

The muse of today's story. Coooo Coooo to you Mr. Pigeon. Coooo Coooo to you.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

Ok, so this story took kind of a dark turn that I really wasn’t planning on, but hey, I go where the story leads me.

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Today on one of my many trips to the ladies room (I have a bladder the size of a peanut, I swear), I happened to glance out of the window to see a pigeon sitting quite comfortably on the window ledge outside. I work on the second floor and seeing pigeons is no great event in and of itself, however this pigeon seems so content to be on that ledge he didn’t care who was walking by or how close they came. He would simply cock his head to one side, peer at you a little, and then go back to whatever pigeon thought was consuming his wee pigeon brain that moment. I began carrying on a little conversation with this pigeon (in my head of course, I’m not completely insane…yet, anyway) like he was a suicidal jumper and I was trying to talk him down, “don’t do it man, you have so much to live for!” I was cracking myself up, which I do quite often, and that led me here…

Me & my bro... in kinder, gentler times.

TWO:     Jimmy (the name only) is an ode to my dear brother who reached out to me today, all the way from California. He made my day (and bought my dinner) with a sweet gesture that honestly took me aback. So thank you, James (and visit your sister soon!).

THREE:  The banana in the story and Jimmy taking the stairs refers to my daily struggle to eat and live healthy. I failed miserably today, the banana is ripening in my office as we speak and I bypassed the stairs for the elevator, I blame the heels. And so, as punishment I am chronicling my failure here, where I will be reminded to eat my fruit (and veggies) and always take the stairs (its only two flights, for goodness sake!).

And thus concludes day 2. Still going strong?

Love & Squirrels.