I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

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January 22, 2002

I would like to talk some more about how well I bowled on Sunday. It was very powerful bowling. I have never been the best bowler in any given set of games, because I have always had friends who were good bowlers, but I am a solid second round draft pick. I am a young team. Although my all-time high (150) was never in any serious danger, I did bowl a healthy 25 pins ahead of my average over three games, and I feel that I am on the verge of taking my game up to the next level. I made some mental adjustments, and now I just have to execute the game plan that the coach (in this case, my old VHS copy of The Big Lebowski) has set out for me. I can't get cocky, though. Bowling must be approached with humility, at least for now, until I move on to the Muhammad Ali phase of my bowling career, which should be fun. I want to thank the Lord for the songs the jukebox played while I was up and for the bowling ball marked AYIYIYI that I found. (In this case, 'the Lord' refers to my friend Mike Saul, bowling legend Johnny Petraglia and my old VHS copy of The Big Lebowski.) In any event, I bowled so well that I am going to buy a pair of bowling shoes. And as soon as my average hits 180, I am going to buy a bowling ball. It will have a picture of a ninja fighting with a giant cobra snake. I will probably be elected President because I will be so fucking cool.

The insane rush of ego at the end of that sentence carried over into off-screen life right after I wrote it. The rabbi came back with the second piece in a row that I'd written that was perfect on the first draft. I started crowing about it. "I'm so pretty! Can't no one touch my drafts! My drafts is gold!" Someone on the other side of my cubicle spit out what they were drinking. The rabbi told me to watch my head or he would come at me with a triple subjunctive clause. He's a great guy. I need to leave post-it notes around the cubicle to remind myself that I like this job, though. I tend to forget and instinctively begin waging war whenever I'm told to do any work.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America
Barbara Ehrenreich

We're not supposed to care about economic inequity in America any more, what with the whole war against terrorism and all, so it was rather un-American of me when I read this book instead of a nice bin Laden bio or a trenchant essay on the American Taliban and how movies and rap music have made our children into spiritual mercenaries. So it goes. This is an utterly nifty book comprised of three immersion field studies by Mrs Ehrenreich, a renowned sociologist (her work rocked the photocopy packet charts at my university). She moved to three different communities and, without making any use of her academic experience, tried to get jobs (Wal-Mart, waitressing, et al) and survive on the wages they paid. The Amazon.com reader reviews make a hilarious companion to the book (which is, itself, quite funny - I've always wondered why most sociology students are totally humorless when most sociology writers have good senses of humor), polarized and exhiliratingly predictable knee-jerk reactions from both ends of the political spectrum. The book is too smart to be a simple political screed down either line, though its conclusions at the end are, of course, discomforting. I thoroughly enjoyed it and, having experience along the same lines as she did, found it to ring completely true. I worked low-wage jobs of these types off-campus during college, and I was inevitably the only worker out of hundreds who had any college experience. I felt exactly the same way she did about the various tiny abuses, how they add up to affect your mental state, and I loved the waning security she felt in the fact that she had another life away from all of this. Most of all, I loved how useless her academic training was, because damn, was mine ever useless (which never went unmentioned by any other workers who knew about it). That part of my life feels as strange and dislocated as the rest of my life did while I was there. So, aside from being intellectually necessary and a good story, Nickel and Dimed meant something to me emotionally, and cheers for it.

Due to the unfortunate legal controversy of last week, I can no longer safely list a large portion of my post-college work history on my resume. It's all still true, at least as much as anything on a resume is ever true, but said employer would probably have less than positive things to say about me now if they were contacted. ("He'll write witheringly sarcastic things about you on his webpage. Don't hire him!") I was worried, then, about the gap in my work history, since I already have the six months of unemployment from last year (with only "Played a cop in a serial killer documentary" to explain what the hell I was doing all that time). After some consideration, I have simply decided to keep listing the old job but replace the name, like so:

Towers Productions (2001)

Professional actor in documentaries produced for the A&E Cable Networks.

Wu-Tang Clan (formerly known as Wu-Tang Killah Bees) (2000 - 01)
Marketing and Communications during the design and launch of a multi-million dollar global rebranding campaign, with duties including business/media research (on the web, in print and by phone), research library maintenance, designing internal communications (to offices nationwide), payroll and budget issues and other projects (such as travel and teleconferencing).

I can speak convincingly about having done all of those things, so that'll get me through the interview, and I have to imagine that the Wu-Tang HR department does not respond quickly to reference checks, so the employer will give up and just hire me based on whatever other contacts I provide. Jim Jarmusch said that when he was working with the RZA on the soundtrack of "Ghost Dog", he had to wait on dark street corners in strange neighborhoods at 2AM until an unmarked van came by to pick him up, with a hooded RZA waiting in the back. And, seriously, I have known a few Human Resources people, and I have yet to meet one that would be up for that.

"Always with the ninjas," my friend JC said, shaking his head.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


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Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.