When I started this li’l blog o’mine, the deal I made with myself is that I would post something every day. Well, that didn’t happen; the deal has been broken, and frankly, it’s liberating. See, one of the reasons I started the blog in the first place is to have an outlet for fun, free-form, whatever-I-wanna-write-about writing. It’s a tool to help free me up for all my other writing (of which there is much to be done) and so far, it’s been great for that. I figured if anything would prevent me from posting, it would be any one of the four or five projects I’m juggling at the moment. But the thing that did me in this past weekend, the thing that derailed the blog train, wasn’t writing at all. It was reading.
I'm special, so special.
Last weekend, I was hired to read student submissions for a national writing competition whose name I probably should not divulge (but which rhymes with monastic). For eight hours a day, for two days straight, I read plays, short stories, poems, and essays by students from all over the country, and then rated those pieces on a scale from 1-10, judging them for originality, technical proficiency, and strength of voice.
I give them a 10.
It was rewarding but grueling work. The first day, I read 10 plays and then 25 sci-fi/fantasy stories. The second day, I read 10 student portfolios (the longest of which had 16 separate pieces) and then 25 short stories by 7th and 8th graders. Each day began with trays of croissants and muffins — “breakfast provided” means the same thing, no matter where you go — and coffee. Now, y’all know how I love my coffee, right? Then answer me this. Why would the “breakfast provided” people offer only two tureens of coffee, and why would one of those be a decaffeinated option, exactly the same size as the proper coffee?
You're just being polite.
Look, I understand offering decaf as an option, but offering it in an equal quantity to the regular makes no sense. Of course, with about 30 people reading, the real coffee ran out in about twenty minutes, leaving the next few hours to be fueled by the tool of the devil.
Turns out, though, the coffee inequality wasn’t that big a deal, because at about 11:30, they picked up the coffee service altogether and laid out lunch. Now, the “lunch provided” people do tend to show a little more imagination than the “breakfast provided” people, but it’s not a surprise to see trays of sandwiches, wraps, cookies, brownies, and such. Right? This is the kind of thing you would expect to find when you’re informed that “lunch” is “provided,” and if you have, I don’t know, a SEVERE DIETARY RESTRICTION you would plan appropriately, wouldn’t you? Well, not if you’re the decaf-swilling hipster twat who engaged our group leader in this conversation:
DECAF-SWILLING HIPSTER TWAT: Is this our lunch?
GROUP LEADER: Yeah, help yourself.
DECAF-SWILLING HIPSTER TWAT: (After a quick glance at the food table) Um…
GROUP LEADER: Is there a problem?
DECAF-SWILLING HIPSTER TWAT: Yeah. Is there a gluten-free option?
GROUP LEADER: A what?
DECAF-SWILLING HIPSTER TWAT: Gluten-free? You know, like without gluten?
GROUP LEADER: (Genuinely trying to be helpful) Well, these over here are vegetarian.
DECAF-SWILLING HIPSTER TWAT: (Dripping with sarcasm and superiority) No. I eat meat. I just can’t eat gluten.
GROUP LEADER: (At a loss, brain racing for a solution) Oh. Well. Um.
DECAF-SWILLING HIPSTER TWAT: Nevermind. I’ll just pick the meat off a few of these.
(DECAF-SWILLING HIPSTER TWAT proceeds to rape about four or five of the sandwiches of their little meat souls, leaving their soggy bread carcasses for the under-caffeinated zombies to carbo-load. Lights fade.)
What a foul person. Look, I realize that gluten is a problem for a lot of people, and I probably should remove it from my own diet like yesterday. But when you’re that hateful a person, I wouldn’t be surprised if God gave you Celiac Disease just to spite your nasty ass.
But I’m not kidding about the carbo-loading. Holy crap.
Breakfast: baby croissant, mini-muffin (bran), a piece of fruit (to look good for the hipsters), coffee.
Mid-morning pick-me-up in the middle of a long play about teen alcoholism: Another mini-muffin (poppy seed, for the opium).
Lunch: A half-sandwich (turkey, unraped by Hipster Twat), a half-wrap (veggie option, to prove a point), Sprite Zero
Mid-afternoon snack in the middle of a weird story about Satan training an angel: Two peanut butter cookies.
Second mid-afternoon snack in the middle of same Satan story, which was really freaking long: A brownie.
Third mid-afternoon snack in middle of the sugar coma brought on by cookies, brownie, and caffeine deprivation: A little bag of Lay’s Barbecue and a Diet Coke (with no ice, because they ran out).
Also, at some point in the afternoon, they put out a big pile of Hershey’s miniatures, which is like putting out a big pile of cocaine at a Charlie Sheen party.
Breakfast: Baby croissant, mini-muffin (bran), no fruit (screw them), and coffee. Today, I have brought my travel mug so that I can artfully hoard more than my share of coffee. This ploy will not work as planned.
Mid-morning pick-me-up in the middle of a portfolio entry about a guy whose brother knew some guys in college who were starting a social-networking website, blew off a chance to be involved, and is now a high-school teacher…a deeply bitter and regretful high-school teacher: Another baby croissant, and chai tea, because every other douchebag in the place brought a travel mug today, and the coffee ran out faster than yesterday.
Lunch: Two half-sandwiches (both chicken salad, both with grapes in the chicken salad — unnecessary and distracting), a Coke Zero (with too much ice, so I’d have some later)
Mid-afternoon snack, in the middle of a really good 7th-8th grade short story about soldiers in World War II: One peanut butter cookie, which I eat walking down the hall, forcing me to turn back for a second one.
Second mid-afternoon snack, in the middle of a nowhere-near-as-good 7th-8th grade short story about a boyfriend who doesn’t know how much his silence at lunch yesterday hurt, I mean, really, really hurt: Two brownies. They were cut differently today and were smaller. I swear. THEY WERE SMALLER.
More Hershey’s miniatures. But only three, because I didn’t want them to think I have control issues when it comes to food. (Okay, four.)
Fruit is demonic.
In all, it was a great experience. I really was thrilled to find that there was so much writing, and even more thrilled that so much of it was good. I was, however, completely unprepared for the toll it would take on me. You’d think I’d be used to spending eight hours in front of a computer screen, but normally, I’m free to bounce around wherever my whimsy takes me. Yes, there was a relatively uninterrupted stream of reading content, but I guess what’s really exhausting is having to exercise self-control over one’s undiagnosed adult-ADD. Because, now and forever, reading is cool.
Who's cool and has his thumb pointed in the opposite direction? This guy.
Anyway, blog is back on track. I’ll post more miscellanea soon to make up for the radio silence. Yay!
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