UNDER THE GLASS CEILING

I was sitting on a glass ceiling. The chairs and tables in the room were all lush and fashionable. The grandfather clock struck 3:30 as the meeting drolled on. At the head of the table, my boss was in a clean suit with a red tie reviewing the documents before him, while to my left the freshly hired Ms. Tilda—Tilly, as I call her, flicked her thumb and index finger nervously. The room was a work of art, to remind the people below that they had more to aspire to. In the room below, the scene is very different. Workers bustled about to and fro—some with papers, some with water jugs, some with carts of giant materials.

We were all at the water treatment facility in Arkansas. It’s an enormous, windowless building, with water tubes running throughout the building. Every room of the building, save the room I was in, had pipes throughout it, along the walls and the ceilings. Some rooms had so many pipes you couldn’t even see the ceiling above. The room below had almost none. There truth was that the two rooms were separated by a few feet—there were two “glass ceilings,” one for the room below, and one to make up the floor of the room I was in. The only way in or out of this room was by helicopter. There was a huge roof above us, with enough space for two choppers to land safely. In the room below, I could see my friend, Shirley, a brilliant woman on her way to the top, down below. She was ordering another worker to do something, and pointing at the door to the stairs. I was surprised that Tilly got the promotion over her—of course, deep down, I knew it was going to happen.

Shirley was an outspoken woman, and she was really forward. She and my boss clashed constantly. She was typically right, too, and while I argued to him that this was a good thing for developing our company to bring to meetings, he went in favor of the quiet Ms. Tilda. It probably helped that Tilda’s father and my boss were good friends. That, and the fact that she was gorgeous. She was five foot five inches, blond, and well toned. She had enough muscle to look fit, but not so much that it was intimidating. She had a soft face, she giggled at every joke, smiled constantly, and dressed well. Today, she was wearing a short, dark blue dress that was tight to her body. The dress itself stopped about 8 inches short of her knees—would you even call that a dress? I don’t know fashion very well. She constantly was pulling the bottom of the dress down to keep it from rolling too high, which I found quite comical. But, she certainly stood out, and I think our boss liked that. He, or the investors at the meetings, often shot her quick glances.

Of course, Tilly rarely spoke during meetings—not that she had been to that many. We had two meetings a week, and she had only been brought on a month ago. Normally there were an empty chair or two at meetings, but since Tilly had joined we have had to add a few chairs. She was the only woman in the room. Unfortunately, those days didn’t last. You see, there was an accident that day. At 3:35, the main pipeline backed up—we learned later that it was from a build up of plastic—and the pipes began to burst from the pressure. The building flooded. I remember it so clearly. Every room with a pipe must have flooded in minutes. The water pressure was so high, it forced the doors closed. The building was old, and our boss had neglected to put in the easy-open doors that Shirley had requested a year ago. I saw the water flood up below me through the glass ceiling. Shirley was down there, pulling frantically at the door. When she realized she couldn’t get it open, she started trying to plug the water flooding out of a pipe on the wall.

Eventually she had to start swimming, and we looked on in horror below as she, and other workers, were enveloped by water. I can still remember her hand banging on the glass, as the air bubbles popped from her mouth. The glass was industrial, made to withstand the harsh weather of the area. There was no way she would be able to break it—it was practically bulletproof. Eventually, the banging motions became slowed, until finally her arms drifted listlessly through the water, and the life drained from her eyes. Of course, we were all safe in our room. It was the only one separated from the main building. Tilly was crying. Our boss looked shocked. I wish I could say I felt the same, but as I looked at all the well-dressed men around me, I could only feel like this was their fault.

You see, that’s the problem with the glass ceiling. It lures people into the false sense that they can shatter it. But the reality is that they will just drown beneath it. They didn’t need a fancy ceiling, they needed a door. A real path out of that hell. But what kind of boss gives people a way out?

Advertisements

SAVING MONEY

Hello everyone,

 

Let’s talk about being broke. You’re broke, I’m broke. We’re all broke. Well, not all of us, but hey, this is the world we live in. If you’re reading this, you probably have some curiosities about financial aspects. First off, I’m not a banker. I don’t have any monetary ties, and these are just opinions. If you are in serious financial trouble, I recommend talking to a professional (though preferably someone you know, since my financial friends tell me that some people in the business like to “hustle” customers).

Now, if you have ever read the Penny Hoarder, you have a few cool ideas about saving money or earning more. And that’s fine—I mean, the reason I’m writing this is because I read a post on their website about saving money. Living paycheck to paycheck is hard. That’s pretty simple and if that’s your life, you know it. Solving that problem can be pretty hard. Some people can build budgets, and work within them, but often times that is difficult because we want to have luxuries, either for ourselves or for our family. This is a hard reality, but sometimes luxuries are just that—something extra that you can’t get. If you really want to save your money, you need to cut down on or completely remove the luxuries in your life right now, so that you can have more in the future.

Let me give you an example. You have a ritual of getting coffee every morning at McDonald’s, because Starbucks is too expensive, but you really need that cup of caffeine in the morning. This is a luxury. You don’t need that coffee, you just have lulled yourself into the idea that you need it. Many societies lived for years without it. But ok, maybe you need the caffeine and you won’t budge on that. Can you find an alternative? Buy bags of coffee and make it at home? Or maybe switch to a cheaper tea? Sure, it’s not as great, but if it get’s the job done, does it matter?

Of course, if you’ve been penny pinching already, then this might seem obvious. You probably are already pouring yourself half cups of coffee from the cheapest bag possible. But try to apply that to the rest of your life. Are you sure there’s nothing you could cut out or down on? Gym memberships are a big one I hear about people wasting. $20 per month. That’s nothing right? Wrong, that’s $240 a year. So many people have gym memberships for a treadmill and some dumbbells. If you are a legit bodybuilder person, this doesn’t apply to you, because you need those machines, but guess what everyone else! You can run at the park and you can do push up on any sidewalk. Do exercises right in your living room, and you have an extra $240 for your Christmas shopping. It doesn’t have to be a gym membership, but find the excess in life, and minimize it’s cost.

The Penny Hoarder does a good job at looking at new apps and things like sending your spam mail somewhere to be processed for a couple dollars, and that’s cool, but it can be a hassle and that’s really just a way for them to make money. And there’s nothing wrong with that—I mean, they have to make money like everyone else. But all these plans like “save $5 a month every month for a year, and you’ll have $60 extra in December” are no brainers. But you don’t need MORE money, you need to be more efficient with your money (ok, well, maybe you do need more money, but minimum wage is crap and you have to work with the money you currently have. You could probably be more efficient). For me, it’s easier. I’m not currently paying rent, I don’t have kids, and so on. BUT, that doesn’t mean I go out every weekend. In fact, I very rarely go out, and I very rigidly decide what I spend my money on. Why? Because going out every week can be expensive. You will regularly spend $12 or more a head on a meal if you go out. Don’t even factor in drinks.

The whole point of the Penny Hoarder, and other sites like it, are to give you tips on how to be more efficient with your money. But that’s the problem—it’s your money. You choose how you spend it. So stop making the choice that leaves you struggling. Or, if you have no good choices, make the choice that makes you struggle the least. And I don’t mean mental struggles—your well being is important, but if you can’t feed yourself or live with a roof over your head, you’re going to end up worse for ware. Take the 6 months of extra mental weight so that you have the security blanket to not have to have those mental struggles down the line. And to those of you that are already doing this and still struggling…I’m sorry. The truth is that sometimes you can only pinch yourself so dry before something breaks. The system is against you, and there isn’t much you can do. But, that doesn’t mean you should despair. Despair leads to mental paralysis, and you don’t have to have that. In that 20 minutes of free time you get, or 5 minutes, or whatever it is, look for a new job. Craft a way to ask for more money at the job you have. You deserve it. Don’t tell yourself you don’t. You really do.

VISITORS OF THE MIND

I like my home. It’s this cozy, warm place where I can relax and think deeply. Sure, there are some flaws to it. There’s no windows, no doors. There’s really no way out at all. But at least it’s comfortable. Tight, maybe, but comfortable. And I really have no need to leave. Mr. and Mrs. I bring me all sorts of lovely images. Movies, pictures, books. They never say anything, but I like to think they are chiefly important. They I’s are really open, and kind, despite their oath of silence. They can be quite expressive. When they smile, it’s like the morning in spring. Quite a lovely sight.

Mr. Nez stops by a lot too. He always smells like the latest fragrance from Chanel. Kind of a pompous old man, but he’s kind and somewhat of a grandfather figure to me. I mean, he’s been there as long as I can remember. Of course, he never shows up when I’m sick. He can be so self important sometimes. Tells me traffic is bad, and he can’t make it out. Still, he brings me pies from down the street that fill my house with a sweet scent for days.

I think my best friends are the Earls. They are always giving me things to listen to and telling me about the day. They’re a soft spoken people themselves, often listening to me ramble on, but were it not for them I would probably have never known the value of peaceful silence. They told me about a girl I should meet, Virginia I think was her name. But that’s for another day.

Oh and then there’s my teachers. Madame Rouge and Monsieur la Main. They are just as annoying as they seem. I mean, they are so particular. They even require me to call them that. Still, I’d be nowhere without them. I mean, la Main gave me the ability to reach out to people, and the coordination to succeed in life. Mme Rouge is even weirder. She’s pretty nice, and she never stops talking, so I rarely have to interject. Sometimes she doesn’t know when to shut up though, which is supremely annoying, since she usually blames me for her mistakes. Which I guess is fair sometimes, since if I had simply made her slow down she might have had a moment to gather her words. I work with her on a daily basis, learning new words. We sometimes play games with accents, though usually that’s done when we are alone.

Oh, I’m so sorry, I’ve gone on about my life and the people in it, and I haven’t even taken the time to introduce myself. I’m Tete. At least, that’s what people call me. I do all sorts of things from my home. In fact, for as small and closed off as it is, I often take myself to whole new worlds in my alone time. Sometimes that get’s tiring, but I love it. My whole world melts away and can be replaced by nearly anything I desire. I can be in a field, in a factory, or in bed with a pretty girl. Still, sometimes I like to wallow in the depths of an ocean that I cried into existence myself. It’s somehow reassuring sometimes to know I can experience my own feelings. Anyways, I’m not sure how you got in here, and I’ve been rambling on and on for quite a while, but you’re welcome to stay a while. I’d love to hear a bit about your, but if you’d prefer I have a number of stories to tell you. What was your name again?

 

Can what? Can Sir? Sounds ominous. Let me grab your bags for you-Does anyone know you’re here? Well, make yourself at home, but don’t set up shop too much! I have things to do with my life.

FORSAKEN

I can feel the sticky sweat setting

And the cool little blisters on my skin

Well up into the layers of bedding.

My body starts to feel paper thin,

My lungs struggle against each pain filled breath,

And I pray for blessed sleep to take me,

But my prayers are caught in a web of death,

Behind the mucus that no eyes can see.

And when my prayers are finally answered,

I find dreams to be a twisted nightmare.

My personal sanctuary disturbed;

By God, could it be that He did not care?

And as the rot begins to spread within,

I ask “why such torture for minor sin?”

GIVE THANKS

As we sit around the thanksgiving table

Let us not forget those that make us stable

Let us not forget those who have sacrificed

Let us not forget those who still pay the price.
All the people who struggle to find food.

All the people who want water that’s good.

All the people frozen at Standing Rock

Who have been cheated by the white mans talk.
Can we take a moment to love,

And look on at the stars above?

One moment to see each other,

As siblings of the same mother?
We need to stop bleeding

We need to start feeling.

We need to love life

And not give in to strife.
One people.

No evil.

To bring us

Our justice.

HOW TO FIND INSPIRATION

Hello everyone,

 

I decided to take a break from writing creative stuff today to talk a little bit about inspiration today. If you are a regular WordPress blogger, you probably have had moments where you struggle for inspiration. I didn’t know this, but there’s a cool blog where people respond to one word in a whole blog post, or other ideas. That’s a pretty smart concept. It gets people to interact with their blog and it promote writing. If you need inspiration and are either desperate or lazy, I would suggest trying this out. It’s really good for a one-time fix, especially if you are in a pinch.

However, not everything about this kind of blog is good for you, the writer, or by extension the people who are struggling with ideas in the rest of their lives. Think about it. If you, along with a quadrillion billion million (like my number choice?) other people are all responding to the same prompt, how original can you be? I mean, certainly, your writing may be completely different and exceptional, and that’s wonderful. Yet you are not being truly original. The best a person in this situation can do is defamiliarize something. To defamiliarize means to make a familiar concept different. For example, instead of a plain old rock, the object is a coarse, rough, solid stone that is jagged on one side and opaque on the other. See the difference? Ok, good. This isn’t to say that defamiliarization is a bad thing—I mean, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is made up almost exclusively of stories that he had changed slightly, or told from a different perspective, and it’s one of the biggest pieces of literature ever. Seriously. You can be very successful doing this. But if you’re looking for inspiration, that’s probably because you want to make something that feels original, right?

That being said, this isn’t really “original” ideas. It’s original work, but it’s not something that is going to make you stand out. Think about how many famous authors there are throughout history. Pretty short list, ain’t it? At least, compared to the total number of people that have ever existed in the course of human history. Here’s the difference between Chaucer and an average blogger using this kind of blog as daily inspiration—the blogger is part of a mass, Chaucer was not. No matter how good your writing is, if you write the same thing as 100 other people, you have to beat out 99 other people. Which I’m not saying is impossible, but the higher that number is, the more people you have to beat. I mean, to make this relatable, I have to actively try to beat out other bloggers every day I post. I have to do something that makes me stand out. I have no illusion that I fail regularly on that, even if I check all the marks off and write something perfect. Hence why I wrote In the Dirt. However, most of my work is closer to original, even if it pulls from and alludes to other works, because it is unique. I try to start my work with an idea. A book I’ve referenced before, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, explains this idea really well, and I highly recommend you check it out. I’ll try my best to explain it quickly.

The best way to find inspiration is to look at an idea in a way that nobody has looked at it before. Zone in on one concept, or even a concrete object, so closely that you can have an original idea. Look at whatever is in front of you. Let’s say it’s a wall. Ok, well look at the top left corner of that wall. What’s there? A brick? Ok. Describe the wall, starting from that brick, and go across, one by one. Because that’s how you find inspiration. Brick by brick.

I GOT (BURIED)

I got 99 problems, and they’re all bitches,

And I got a name, and I got a song.

And I got a dream. Oh, I got a dream

And they tell me lovin’ is what I got.

That I got a pocket full of sunshine.

 

But you know what? Ain’t none of that matter.

Because boy I will tell you what I got.

 

I got buried.

I got buried beneath their feet.

I got buried in all their shit.

I got buried by their smiles.

I got buried by their guile.

 

I got buried in all the pain.

All the love I tried to maintain.

I got buried because they called me kind,

But in the end they would pay me no mind.

IN THE DIRT

I found myself facedown in the dirt,

With my tormentors down the hall.

They had told me “get up and get hurt,”

About halfway through the fall.

The sour taste of blood in my mouth

Mixed anger into my shame,

It wasn’t because I was from the south,

But it hurt just the same.

And after they had walked away,

I pulled myself out of the dirt.

I vowed that they would pay

For the stains left on my shirt.

I wiped my chin, and dusted off,

And went about my week.

Still, every day, I’d hear a scoff,

Or someone call me meek.

Until one day I found myself,

Standing strong and six feet tall.

In stature and fortitude I’d been granted a wealth,

To fight back against them all.

And yet I’ll never forget that day,

As a miserable, lonely squirt.

To make the decision to get up and say,

“Not today,” from in the dirt.

LOVE POEM #13 – LIKE A GIFT FROM ABOVE

I first knew her as a young girl,

With long hair and a child’s grace.

We knew not how love would furl.

 

 

My vision of her was replaced,

When we had both turned eleven

And the boys began to give chase.

 

 

Like an angel out of heaven,

We watched her body develop,

While such dogs became my brethren.

 

 

The arms of men would raise her up

Till she was almost out of sight.

I, meanwhile, was still a pup.

 

 

I called to her from such a height,

To tell her how much I loved her,

And the hounds growled for a fight.

 

 

She was caught up in the valor,

And who am I to call that wrong?

In my pain I turned to liqueur.

 

 

With it I made my pain more strong.

As I fell into the dark depths,

And sadness was my only song.

 

 

She saw me heaving empty breaths;

A young pup crying far away

And she came to descend those steps.

 

 

She looked me in the eye that day,

With the same sweetness of days gone,

And told me all that she could say:

 

 

“Aiko, would you please sing your song?

I remember that we had sown

That our friendship would be lifelong.

 

 

I’m sorry I left you alone

I’m sorry that I pushed you out,

Could we, maybe, share the same home?”

 

 

Her lips curled into a pout,

As I sat there in stunned silence.

The other dogs began to shout.

 

 

They roared at me to insight violence,

But her eyes were on only me.

And suddenly it all made sense.

 

 

All this pain, to the tenth degree,

All this pain that had built my past

So that one day we could be free.

 

 

Free to be together at last,

An unlikely pair to find love.

The angel, and the pup outcast.

 

 

It was like a gift from above.

 

 

Hi! I hope you liked this poem. Let me know what you thought!

I picked up this image from another blog, Morningmasthi, though I’m unsure if it is theirs or someone else’s. Feel free to check them out!

BURNING THE CANVAS

“Make your mind a blank slate,” the monk told us. We were sitting in the wooden temple, performing our daily meditation cycle. It was around 6:30 in the morning, though the bells had yet to chime. I focused on my heartbeat, calming myself. The goal of enlightenment was a difficult process. I had been told to make my mind a blank slate, in a few moments, the monk would instruct us further.

“Now, make your mind empty,” said the monk with a quiet yet firm tone. It was at this point that most disciples struggled. How, in fact, does one create nothing? I was sitting with my legs crossed in the lotus position. My hands were at my knees, palms facedown so that my fingers slumped down, fully relaxed. Every disciple was given the choice of meditative positions, right down to the direction they faced, to further calm their mind. The idea was to become one with the world. In history, but one monk had become fully at peace in this way, but he became unable to speak after his awakening, and in truth he departed from most human communication in general.

I focused my mind. I could picture the blank slate before me—an empty canvas, endless, with no sides or edges. I could feel my heartbeat slow from a normal speed. Thump. Pause. Thump. And so on. Then, I attempted to remove the canvas from my mind, until nothing was left. At first, I tried to condense the canvas, to put it inside a box equally infinite, and make the box disappear. But how could I possibly erase something that was infinite? After that, I tried to eat away at the canvas from the middle, like a fire as it burned from the center of a paper to all edges. In my mind, I could almost feel the heat, as the sparks became a flame, and the flame became a wall of fire, and finally the wall of fire erupted from all ends of my mind. I held my breath, to snuff the oxygen out and force the flame to go out. I could feel my heart rate quicken, straining against the lack of sustenance. But the fire had spread to far. How could I compete with a flame the burns infinitely?

I recreated the canvas in my mind again, each time attempting to remove it in new ways. Each time, failing. By the time the bells struck 7:30, I had become drenched in sweat, despite remaining motionless the whole time. My mind had become a battleground against the forces of itself. By the time the clock struck 8:00, I was grateful our meditation session was at an end. I exhaled deeply, and opened my eyes. When they had closed, the sun was still below the horizon, yet now it had brightened the whole day. The monk crossed the floor of the temple to me, and put a hand on my shoulder.

“You are making good process, Seigfried.”

“I don’t feel like I am making progress,” I lamented. It was exhasperating.

“Why do you struggle?” The monk’s question seemed rhetorical, but I knew he expected an answer.

“I struggle because when my mind is a blank slate, it, like my imagination, is infinite.” The monk made a small smile, revealing no teeth, but clearly happy with my answer.

“If your mind is infinite, perhaps you should seek not to remove infinity, but to alter it.”

“I have altered it!” I gasped, “I burned the canvas away and then tried to snuff out the fire, but how does one snuff out infinity?” I turned away from the monk angry. The monk nodded to me, but I could sense his smile had disappeared. He walked away to leave me alone in my own thoughts.