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Not in the Spirit This Year.

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12/21/2014 by Angel D. Vargas

Alright. So it’s been a long time. Christmas is upon us in less than four days.  To be honest, I’m having a little trouble getting into the Christmas spirit this year. However, it seems I’m not the only Grinch. I’ve been seeing a lot of people in 2014 who just want to throw up their hands and say “bah humbug.”

Why might this be the case for so many of us? If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the racial tension in America build thanks to senseless violence, and the mistakes being made by people who seek the wrong kind of justice. You’ve witnessed the President of the United States reduce our unemployment rate to less than ten percent, kill off a bunch of terrorists, and actually rescue people from Somali Pirates. Yet Obama STILL comes under fire for “not doing enough” or “not bridging the bi partisan gap.” What nonsense is this? The man inherited a hot mess of almost Biblical proportions. That mess is now being compounded by ever increasing racial tension, abominable threats to US safety made by dictators who can’t take a fucking joke, and the ever ready conservatives who would sooner try to pass a 1600 page bill filled with ridiculous pork projects and hidden agendas than to enact any real change.  It would take President Obama a second term just to make some headway repairing the damage. That takes more stamina and courage than most people in this nation possess.

I wouldn’t do it. Would you? Would most of us?

Then there’s the question of money.

According to some sources, the average American adult is planning to spend an estimated 781.00 this year for the Christmas season. This is up from the 749.00 per adult that was spent just two years ago, and the 701.00 total from last year.  According to a recently released gallup survey, this could mean that Americans might spend up to 600 billion dollars this Christmas season.

I have two questions. Who is the average adult in this country, and can I come over to their house this Christmas? I don’t know these people. Most of the adults I know in my age range are working for a temporary staffing agency, living from paycheck to paycheck. The one gift I could afford this year for the love of my life is still sitting, unwrapped, in our clothing closet just above a pair of pants with a hole in the crotch, and a shirt with holes in the armpits. My God, I can just picture the Clark Griswold rant from National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation playing over and over again in my head. I recently took a silly online quiz to see how much of that rant I could actually remember from all those years ago. I scored an 80 percent. I would have gotten a hundred, but I haven’t watched my favorite holiday movies this year. Not one.

Halleluyah! Holy Shit…. Where’s the tylenol?

So what’s the solution to the “Bah Humbug” spirit that seems to be in the air this year? Thanksgiving was harsh enough. I thought people in my neighborhood grocery stores were going to murder one another over frozen turkeys and Stove Top Stuffing. I’ve seen Santa Clause visit my place of employment to give toys out to sick children in the pediatrics ward. Santa handed me a candy cane. I had to smile, though deep down, I would have traded that candy cane for a pay raise.

In my opinion, every one of us (myself included) may want to wake up and start counting our blessings. That’s easier said than done. In a nation where more people would rather vote for American Idol than the average political race, where innocent people are being hurt and killed on either side of a potential race war, and where it’s ok for the “average American” to spend almost a thousand dollars on Christmas, one has to wonder what our priorities actually are, and how we define joy. I myself don’t have the money to even pretend that money buys happiness. I can’t even define what holiday traditions exist in my family. That was somehow lost in my adulthood, and that makes me sad. Perhaps what’s missing for me is the creation of a new tradition with my new loved ones. I live with a woman and a cat somewhere in New York City. If I can’t create a unique and exciting new Christmas tradition here, I probably won’t do it anywhere else.

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Okay Universe. We Need to Talk.

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/01/2013 by Angel D. Vargas

Fair warning to you all, I’ve not written a blog entry in a long time. This is a rant. It’s long, it’s full of vitriol, swearing, and colorful political commentary. Kids should not read this.

Depressed people shouldn’t either.

The rest of you voyeurs, thrill seekers, indignant crusaders and general rabble-rousing types should read on. You know who you are.

 

Okay. So here it is. I’ve tried faxing and emailing every iteration of a resume and a cover letter you can think of, essentially kissing invisible people’s asses. I’ve tried working with employment agencies with names that sound like the names of gay porn movies aka “Manpower” and “Steadfast.” I’ve tried mental health counseling, talking with friends and loved ones, and I’ve even tried to use a little something called family connections. I’ve done all this not just to land a job, but to land enjoyable employment that can become a gainful, secure career.

I’ve gotten almost no bites whatsoever. In the nearly three and a half years I’ve been living in New York City, the closest thing I’ve got to a job is a minimum wage senior bookseller position, where I have yet to even see a pay raise though I essentially do the better parts of a former department manager’s job. I’ve had promising interviews, even to the point where I was told I would be offered training and an eventual position, only to be shunted aside and left to wait until training was nothing but a pipe dream. Nepetism, among other things, has kept me from utilizing yet another family connection to a potential rockstar dream job as a company proposal writer.

Then, there’s the Individual training grant I’ve been trying to get my hands on for work as a Certified Nursing assistant.

Get this. In the system to which I pay taxes, it’s essential for those with intelligence and a penchant for being able to pay rent AND eat a decent meal each day to use their brains in order to land more solid employment. Better still, it is supposedly easy to land a job when the requirements are more or less commensurate with one’s employment experience.

But there’s more. If one desires  a change in career, but doesn’t yet have the financial means to pay for yet another two years of schooling, one might wish to find something known as an individual training grant. Such things exist in New York City, and certain work programs offer a means to attempt to attain them. The training grant offers you access to training courses that can earn you the education and skill set to land a much more fulfilling and financially sound employment opportunity.

Sounds good, right? There’s a catch, of course. The instant one tries to apply for these grants, even for training in jobs where there don’t appear to be enough qualified individuals to fill the positions out there, one is hit with someone’s fubar interpretation of a “skills assessment.” The idea is to determine what level a participant has achieved in several key skills pertaining to the desired occupation. There are not supposed to be right or wrong answers on this multiple choice test because it is assumed that when one doesn’t know something, it’s because they need the training to learn it. This logic would be the reason one might be hauling one’s tired, overworked, underpaid ass to an institution filled with men who use toothpaste as underarm deodorant, right?

I failed my one and only assessment. Then I was told I could take the test again. After breathing a small sigh of relief and recovering from my rather spectacular humiliation (I’ve never before failed any sort of multiple choice test) I was told I needed to wait a month in order to let my name be flushed from the computer data banks like a piece of crap down the pipes of a toilet and into the Hudson River.

Well, slap me silly and call me Tza Tza, I almost pissed myself when I heard that thoroughly encouraging news.

But I waited patiently, hoping against hope that this bass ackward system might actually be made to work in my favor. I spent a month looking up information on CNA skills, trying to find cliff notes for this “assessment,” but to no true avail, for I could not remember the random-assed questions that were hurled at me by a computerized proctor without an ounce of humor.

The month passed in a haze of unavoidable financial crises, moving my girlfriend into her first apartment, more unlucky financial disasters, the decline of my current employment situation, and my own desperate search for a means to get the fuck out of my parents’ small midtown apartment.

I found no answers. But I waited, for I was handed a business card by the person at a company with whom I had a somewhat lukewarm conversation regarding my original skills assessment.

“A business card?” you ask .. or at least you should if you haven’t cracked the hell up or shot yourself in the head yet. “But wait a minute, sir. That means you have someone’s name, an address, a phone number, a fax number, and an email address. What seems to be amiss? Just connect with that person and get the ball rolling!”

This person is about as easy to reach as the top of Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s head, and that’s if my feet are glued to the floor and I am Verne fucking Troyer! The organization for which she works runs like an underfunded homeless shelter without the carnival atmosphere, and it’s just as fucking organized.

This is the point where I stand in a quiet, rural field underneath the stars of the Milky Way and have frank (and somewhat drunken) conversation with the universe .. or at least I would if I could afford to travel to such a field, lay a tent down for the night, and wander barefoot through the wet, fall grass in my favorite old Aikido uniform pants and a sleeveless red tee shirt. I might be carrying a djembe in my hands if these hands didn’t feel cracked and broken, and if I felt a spark of desire to even play. You see, my rhythm feels off, oh great mystery that is life. I can’t even enjoy that part of my existence anymore.

I might have to sell that drum to pay my next credit card bill.

I can afford six pack of smirnoff. The cherry lime flavor. Sweet.

But let’s not forget two things. One, I have an awesome girlfriend, I mean AWESOME!

Two, I can write. Of course, I’m still working on my first novel.

Dear Universe,

What the fuck do you want from me? My first born manchild? The blood of seventeen Vestal Virgins covered in olive oil? A bloody Mary and a pack of cigarettes? How ’bout a bloody cigarette and a pack of Hungry Maries? I read Hunger Games, it fucking sucks! Tell that slacker to get a real job! Fifty Shades of Grey? Try Fifty Shades of the color of Shit. I can write better than that clown!

Okay. I’m over that. Really. It’s okay that I get passed over for all the hotel doormen and concierge jobs to which hundreds of invisible applicants (all of whom MUST be better looking than a young Harrison Ford and smarter than motherfucking Einstein) MUST be applying because our economy “just isn’t what it was.” It’s just dandy that nearly every head hunter and temp agency I’ve talked to in the last three years has told me that because of my “unique” background as a mental health worker in Minnesota where licensing WASN’T required at the time I got my extensive experience, that they can’t help me land a job as more than a minimum wage factory worker. It’s grand that the most memorable comment I’ve had in all the job interviews I’ve had in the last three years was this:

“Sorry, sir, but the economy is just in the crapper.”

I’ve said that to myself in all sorts of accents. Try it. These are the apparent benefits of a classical (and insanely expensive) education 🙂

And it’s fan-fucking-tastic that each job I’ve held since college has paid me less and less per hour, but has expected more and more miracles to come flying out of my rectum. If I’d been trained to walk on water, you think I’d be wasting my time making cardboard boxes and mopping Hobo Joe’s crap off the floor of my bookstore?

It’s ok. really. Like I said. I’m over it all. These are just the thoughts that run through my brain when I feel like my time and money are no longer even remotely connected.

 

 

 

The Dichotomy of Life ..

Posted in Please...., The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 07/28/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

This post is fun, but it is NOT suitable for kids..or even for most old people. You have been warned! Don’t come crying to me if you’re easily offended.

Now, on with the show!

I feel like an old warrior who belongs on a tribunal. I sit and I listen calmly to the debates of others. Sometimes I am called upon to settle disputes. Other times, I grow weary of the circular debates around me that can quickly become full-blown arguments.

I don’t always want to feel as though I must tread in a burning building, particularly if my friends are in the same edifice.

I’m someone who has carried the burden of being the listener in my own family. I was the one to whom many would turn when they needed to get something off of their chests. I have heard things, much of which I should not have. I worked in mental health for many years as a counselor of some sort.

While I enjoy listening to others, I like to hear myself as well. Heheh. go on..laugh 😉

What I’ve been reminding myself of these last few days is that there are at least two sides to everything that comes to me in my life.

Political discourse is a very good example of this.

We can talk about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado in many lights, for instance. There are those who would entertain the notion that the killer is indeed mentally ill. It’s admittedly difficult to believe that the footage of him wearing an orange wig in court epitomizes mental stability. Yet there are those of us who wonder if race and ethnicity have some part to play in the perception of him as a mentally ill person who “lost control.” It would be all too easy to believe that if he were a black man, he would have been dismissed as a thug, and perhaps even shot dead at the scene by police. I can’t relive the footage of the Rodney King incident in my brain and not wonder if this is true.

And yes, I think O.J. was guilty. Sue me.

But in yet another light, because of our “War on Terror,” what if the gunman had been of Middle Eastern descent? Would we be viewing him as a terrorist with potential ties to Al Qaeda? Would we be demanding to see his birth certificate?

Would his middle name have suddenly become “Hussein?”

When I think of these possibilities, they all make me shudder for different reasons, not the least of which includes our utter intolerance as a nation.

I want to see the good that can come from things like this. Much like so many others, I wanted Christian Bale to visit with the living victims of the Aurora shootings. For once, I got what I wanted. For once, Batman really wasn’t the hero of this piece.

I’ve come to the realization this week that books are also very strange.

When I was a child, I was taught to revere the book as a source of information, inspiration, and pure joy. The fundamentals of reading became the foundation for much of what I do today. Even when I began to work at the local Barnes and Noble, I came to the job with the notion that many of the books I touched might be written by authors whose name I’d seen in print. There’s something fascinating about that, especially considering that I stalk so many of these writers on Twitter and Facebook ;).

But then there’s the book called Hip snips.

This book, written by one Pablo Mitchell is officially called Hip Snips – Your Complete Guide to Dazzling Pubic Hair.  In case you’re wondering what this book really is about, I cracked it open and took a look at some of the chapters. The gist of the book is this: Men and women, gay or straight, can impress their lovers with the way that they physically style and arrange their pubic hair.

I had to stop and think about this for a few seconds before I realized that this does, in fact, occur in our culture. Would women be able to name the Brazilian bikini wax without batting an eyelash if they weren’t essentially giving their pubic hair a makeover?

However, I have never heard of men styling their pubes. If that’s a subject that was ever touched on in my childhood, I guess I was absent for that particular class.

Granted this is a short book, I got the notion that all the author was going to talk about was two or three different kinds of styles for men and for women, their origins, and the nature of their use in cinema (aka – the porn industry).

This book surprised the hell out of me.

First of all, there are at least 30 chapters, all together spanning about 110 pages of pure literary genius. The beginning of each chapter provides the name and a pink and black illustration of the style. The names of the styles, drew my attention. Tell me something, what comes to YOUR mind when you think of names like “The Bea Author, The Chewbacca, The Donald Trump,” or “The Shatner?” Do you want to know what the names of these styles actually resemble? Umm .. massive comb overs and speech impediments are attractive somehow .. down there? Oh wait a minute. Does my penis suddenly have a television show where he gets to point at unsuspecting other penises and fire them in the most obnoxious way possible?

Ahem. What the fuck is going here?

If you want more titles that will bake your noodle, so to speak, have a look see at the index at this link. If nothing else, it will put a smile on your face.

You will NOT believe this. And this book is published by Random House. Fitting, isn’t it?

Secondly, I want you all to read the introduction and the blurbs to this book and ask yourself one thing. How much free fucking time do you have on your hands? Wasn’t it bad enough when the rage back in the day was to check your stool to see what came out of the other side because you were eating a high fiber diet?

Now I’m not going to sit here and say that people DON’T pay attention, to some degree, to how their genitals look to their lovers. I personally won’t lie to you and say that I never wondered if size really did matter to the average woman. But this book has actually found ways to accentuate the length and the girth of a man’s penis based on how much hair he has in his nether regions and how he’s arranged it. Are we really going to go there? Does a woman have to look at her man’s penis and attempt to identify which style he used to make it look more attractive? Does she have to be afraid to muss his hair down there if she’s busy giving him a blowjob? What the fuck? Does she have to wonder if he used hairspray or teased it with a comb? Is she about to ingest Vidal Sassoon or Cool Water?

Whatever happened to the days where it was simply a good idea to be hygienic? It’s a great idea to wash yourself. to check yourself for lumps and unnatural formations. Ladies, I will attest strongly the notion that prior to cunnilingus, you want to be clean or your man WILL gag or throw up on you, and this, of course, would constitute the most embarrassing of rejections.

But how far should we be going with this? Do you want to nullify the effect of pheremones? That’s a natural, biological method of attracting mates, whether we want to admit it or not. Sometimes the smell of a woman is the ultimate turn on for me, plain and simple. Do I know why this is so? Not really. But I don’t question it. A woman who has chosen to douche, to snip her hair up into something that looks like a lightning bolt, or to cover up her natural smell with way too many man-made chemicals will probably find me unwilling to do much in the bedroom. I don’t want to smell vinegar and to count the prongs on the antlers that she decided would look cool on her vagina.

If there was anything that this book taught me about the nature of life is that there are two or more sides to everything with which the universe presents me. There is always something to be learned from the time I wake up in the morning to the time I go to bed. But I guess I have to remember something else too.

Nobody promised me a fucking rose garden .. anywhere.

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