Friday, August 22, 2008

Zap List

Earlier this summer, Bill Bryson taught me that I need to zap offending things with my thunder vision as a way of obliterating the problem. I currently have three targets to absorb all the power of my thunderous rage:

1. My scale.
For four weeks now, I have been carefully noting everything I consume. I use the food scale in our kitchen and weigh almost everything that goes into my mouth. I do this to try to reduce my body fat percentage, which my scale told me for weeks ago was 32%. Now, four weeks into this experiment to lower that number, twelve weeks into the most intense working out I've done since college rugby, my scale tells me I have gained 8 pounds and my body fat is up to 34.5%.

The scale is on my zap list for being a completely worthless piece of crap. Some weeks in this process, it's told me I have 38% body fat. I am just stopping and returning to my normal way of life, which is pretty damn healthy. Eff you, scale in the hallway. Zapping you with thunder vision might not be satisfying enough in this case. Instead, I might throw you out the window and watch you smash on the street outside.

2. My trashy neighbors. There is a pitiful situation a few houses down from me in which three children are being raised by bigoted drunks who scream at them and potentially spank them a lot. The cops frequently come by to break up yelling matches in the street and the little cherubic kiddos run gleefully up and down the sidewalk all day unless they are being scolded for things like looking at the dog. As I type this, the trashy woman is in the street hollering for them to get away from the minivan. I hope she cuts her damn leg on the glass shards from my broken scale. These kids have no hope of breaking this cycle of verbal abuse and I want to steal them and raise them at my house instead. At least here we don't scream the f-word. And by f-word I mean the one synonymous with bundles of sticks.

All this unnecessary hate and yelling truly distracts me from my work more than Facebook ever could and makes it nearly impossible to work from home, let alone conduct phone interviews with the windows open. If I zap the parents with thunder vision, maybe they won't be obliterated but instead shocked into the reality that cute, 5-year-old children don't respond well to, "God damn you, asshole kids!"

3. Businesses who don't return phone calls. Don't these people want free advertising? Most of my income these days comes from travel publications. Sometimes I think I'm being a wee sell-out and writing awful puff pieces. But then I go back and look at my writing and I've done my best to be artful and provide interesting details. These stories are positive because that's the assignment, but also because the stuff I explore is generally really cool. So the stories are actually decent pieces of writing.

Only every now and then I encounter PR people who absolutely refuse to work with me. They don't return emails, phone calls, or even personal visits. I don't want to overestimate my importance, but travel publications are really influential. Wouldn't they want to roll out the red carpet for me? Or at the very least mail me a brochure when I'm trying to write a huge article about their business? I want to zap them into submission, allowing the thunder vision to open their skulls and release only the information necessary for me to complete my assignments and get paid.

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