Monday, January 31, 2011

Unconventional Timelines

I'm a pretty big conformist; nothing that I do is really too cool or innovative. Still, I try to pretend to be cool, so I need to pretend to be a trendsetter. My favorite way to keep up appearances is to come up with absurd claims concerning when I started doing something. The key here is to really get creative; anything plausible just doesn't work, and makes you look like a hipster. And whatever you do, never admit to doing something after it became well known. Don't try anything like this.

"Yeah, I've been listening to them for a while. I think I first
heard about them on the cover of the Rolling Stone."

The key is to go all out. Make sure that you stay away from anything with a easily fixed timeline, and if possible, figure out how to destroy evidence, too.
Here are a few examples:

1) Yeah, I've been blogging for a while. I'm really glad the internet caught up with me though. When I first started I had to write on parchment with quill pens and distribute my posts by hand in the market. I lost all my original copies when the Library of Alexandria burned down, though.

2) I mean, I've been wearing suits to interviews since before suits were fashionable.

3) Seems like hating hipsters is really in right now. I mean, I was hating on hipsters before it was a popular thing to do. I've been more concerned with stopping genocide recently, so their numbers have grown , but what can you do*.
*this is related in two ways. Bonus points if you figure them both out.

Sorry for the short post, guys! I've been keeping busy. Turned out my cover letter wasn't quite finished, and even worse, you're not supposed to reuse them for different jobs. That was an awkward interview. Hope all is well! And if you guys have any other advice for how to be cool, please leave it as a comment. I could use it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How (not) to Start a Cover Letter

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to write a cover letter for a position I really, really want. That's right: the past few weeks. Longer than it would have taken for my parents to be concerned about me going missing when I was little, but not long enough for them to call the police. It's not that I'm writing a cover novel or that I'm agonizing over structure or anything like that. The issue is that I can't write a cover sentence for my cover letter if my life depended on it. I went through several variations over the past weeks on this first sentence, which I'd like to share.

Of course, the greeting was pretty standard.
Dear _______

Then I realized I had to say something. So I started out,
I'm writing to express my interest in the position you advertised.

Bah. Boring. He probably gets millions of those. I deleted it and started over. More confidence this time.
I saw your position, and was impressed by how well qualified I am to fill it.

Great. I impress myself. That's one person I can impress. Deleted that. Ok, sound less like a total asshole.
I feel that I have the qualities you are looking for in the position you advertised.

Well, that one just looks like Charlie Brown wrote a cover letter applying to be a dog-walker. Wishy washy. Delete. Maybe I'll just try to tell the truth?
I'm writing to let you know how absolutely desperate I am to get the position; is there anyone you need killed? I could make that happen, if you were to hire me.

Whoops. Too true. And would probably be used as evidence against me at some point in the future. Delete. Tone it down, a little.
I am in love with the position you have advertised; please end my heartache by uniting us.

Sounds whiny. This position is looking for someone a little tougher.
Often, when I am hungry, I eat positions like the one you advertised for breakfast, then I crap out resumes; I'm hungry now, and I want your position.

This would totally work if he's looking for psychopaths. As is, delete, try again.
Please let me have your position babies.

If this were an application for a role in an adult movie (it's not, I swear), that would probably work. Delete. Despair. I did like the brevity, though.
Your advertised position is awesome; I'm awesome. Let's get together.

So that's where it stands currently. And by, "that's where it stands," I mean to say that that is my entire cover letter (minus my signature, of course). If you have any edits to suggest, please let me know.

Hope all is well!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Uncool Near Death Experiences

So I was watching a football game with some friends earlier. There happened to be nachos (!), and we were all munching on the them, as is appropriate. At some point, I noticed that one of the girls in the group was reaching for a glass of water just beyond her reach. Fortunately, I was within arm's reach of both the glass of water and her hand, so I grabbed the glass and passed it to her. "Man, I'm so perceptive," I thought to myself. "Her boyfriend didn't even notice that she was thirsty, and I did. I'm pretty darn awesome."

While I was congratulating myself on being one of the best friends ever, the girl tried to gulp a little bit of water. I turned my attention back to the TV, but was distracted when the girl started waving her hands around and making all sorts of spastic "I can't breathe" gestures. Everyone present quickly conferred and decided that she was trying to tell us she was choking. In fairness to us, she didn't use the universal "I happen to be choking" sign*, so it wasn't a given that all of her gesturing to her throat meant that she couldn't breathe.
*I think you can buy one at most pharmacies. They're wallet sized. Right?

Fortunately, I've sat through my fair share of CPR/First Aid classes, and the only thing I ever really payed attention to was the Heimlich Maneuver*, so I actually knew what to do. I was able to dislodge the offending nacho, so I felt briefly useful, which was a really cool, novel feeling that I don't expect to experience any time again for a while. Also, the football play that happened at the time she was choking was a really important play, so there was a lot of adrenaline going on right then.
*Accusations that I felt up my beautiful partner were completely unfounded. I swear.

Still, there isn't really a hero's acclaim that goes along with saving someone who is choking, and I understand that. At first, I was disappointed that no one patted me on the back and told me "That was awesome, man! Holy shit!" But then I thought back to when I was younger and choked on pizza in a restaurant. My dad performed the heimlich on me, which I am thankful for, but I remember immediately afterwards feeling really embarrassed. It was sort of a big deal in the restaurant at the moment, and truth be told, it was pretty awkward. I just sort of sat around at the table afterwards and tried to slip under the table where no one would notice me. That's because even though choking is dangerous, it's not a "cool" near-death experience, and I group it with a few other uncool near-death (or moderate injury) experiences that I've been in.

1) Choking: Everyone is hanging out, having a nice time, snacking away. All of a sudden, you're the idiot who doesn't know how to even eat, a function most animals with brains way smaller than yours can manage. Now someone needs to get up, stand in a pretty weird looking position, and make it look to every onlooker like your rescuer is being abusive. In actuality, you just can't swallow food right, and now, everyone around knows exactly how big of an idiot you are.

2) Nearly getting hit by a car: You're crossing a street, paying attention to something really important to you. Maybe you're wondering about something really important, like why crayons don't taste as good as they look, or maybe you're just doing your best Ray Charles impression, but you totally don't see a car coming right at you. An instant before you hitch a ride on the hood of a taxi (one of the dangers of New York), a stranger grabs you by the arm and pulls you out of harm's way. He probably has a questioning look normally reserved for people who suggest that Elvis staged the moon landing from the Hindenburg.

3) Tripping while walking: Maybe it's not near death, but it can be dangerous. You all know the feeling; you're walking smoothly, then all of a sudden, you're not. Maybe you sprain your wrist on the way down, or maybe someone grabs you to keep you from falling. Either way, it would be the equivalent of watching a bird just fall to its demise*.
*But nowhere near as touching as this video, and without the good soundtrack:

In short, for all of these events, there exists this tacit understanding that, despite something really serious having just happened, maybe it's best not to talk about it for a bit. It's not like, say, being in a plane that plummets ten thousand feet before its engines come back to life, or being in a motorcycle accident. It's just not a good story, and it reflects poorly on you.So don't worry. If I see you involved in one of these situations, I'll have the decency not to say anything about it. I expect the same from you.

Anyway, I hope all is well and that you avoid all uncool near-death experiences. If you have any others that you'd care to share, I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Reservations

Now is that weird time of year when everyone comes up with New Year's Resolutions. Supposedly, these are promises you make to yourself to help you become a better person. Several friends have asked me what my resolutions are. My answer is almost always the same: none. I happen to be perfect*. But really, I find it silly how people resolve to be better once a year. Of course, it's the same as being good for Christmas; it only works within a few weeks (at best) of the day. Telling me not to give children noogies in July is because Santa is watching is no more likely to stop me from giving a child a noogie in July because I resolved on January 1st that my noogie-giving days would be over (as if I would ever resolve something so foolish).

There are a few resolutions that I've heard a few times though, and I'd like to explain why I refuse to make any resolutions along these lines.

1) I resolve to go to the gym more often.
Gyms are not pleasant places. The Jews left Israel because Pharaoh was making them lift heavy things (really). Why would I return to servitude willingly? Resolving to go to the gym more often would be equivalent to me resolving to be unhappy more. I'm just going to resolve to think about why I dislike the gym so much, so that I feel better about not going to the gym.

2) I'm going to drink less alcohol.
Jesus drank wine. Heck, Catholics believe Jesus is wine. I don't want less of Jesus in my life. If you're really insistent, I will resolve to drink on an empty stomach more. That way, I can drink less, and still have all of the positive effects. Everyone will be happy!

3) I'm going to get my life organized.
Sure, a little order in my life is nice. I have separate drawers for various articles of clothing, and most of the time, the right clothes make it into the right drawer, but that's about as far as I'm willing to compromise here. An organized life is a boring life. I relish the adrenaline rush that comes from never knowing where anything I value is. I resolve to spread this pleasure into other people's organized life.

Honestly though, I'm opposed to New Year's resolutions because they're rarely New Year's resolutions; they're mostly New Year's Day's resoltuions, or, if you're ambitious, New Year's Week's resolutions. There's no reason to only try to be better once a year. I'm going to keep getting better at mandolin, get faster at running (again), and enjoy my last semester at school as much as I can before venturing out into the real world and getting a job. Nothing new about those resolutions.

If there are any resolutions you hear that you laugh at, let me know. I do love me a bit of mockery. On the flip side, if you can convince me that you have a meaningful resolution, let me know!

Hope all is well, and happy New Year!

ps. I also resolve not to nearly burn down the house and ruin tea pots while writing blog posts.