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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Downward Dog

So I’m told that I have control over my vibe, and goodness knows sometimes my vibe is rather off. At the office I have to say I have an edge. Away from it people think I am pretty pleasant. I keep that vibe going by hiding my dark side with a smile or just keeping my mouth closed and my eyes dancing.

The vibe is hard to control sometimes, especially when you’re test driving a new secret identity. A few of my buddies joke I am the walking evolution of me. Sometimes I’m Michael. Sometimes I’m Jack. Different rules for different circumstances.

Now as I test drive the Media Guy fitness routine, I realize there’s something I really like about working out. It's one of those ultimate do-it-yourself activities. It's like painting a room or fixing a chair; if you can do it yourself, you get a great sense of satisfaction from the experience. What better than to fix yourself? Plus, my mind wanders through a series of non sequiturs.

Today I found myself doing yoga. Because, you know, women think it's cool, and I might as well do yoga because so many women in my demographic like to strike tree poses. So there I was channeling my inner downward dog, when all my randomness led to enlightenment.

I recall while in my aforementioned “regretful bout with alcohol and barbeque” my last package of Pepperidge Farm Nantucket cookies something was amiss. The cookies are half the size they used to be. I’m glad those aren’t on my menu anymore. Bananas and apples are the snack of the day. Speaking of which, unless you have a lunch meeting, why doesn’t everyone bring a meal to work?

Our people in accounting buy food at least once a day. They spend up to $15 a day on takeout. At the end of the year, that's more than $3,500 to feed their faces at work. My salads and light carb sandwiches probably cost me less than half of that.

As I sink into my downward dog, I recall Susanna from the switchboard quoting me Milton (in what can only be described as a surreal waste of five minutes):

Mammon, the least erected spirit that fell
From heaven; for even in heaven his looks and thoughts
Were always downward bent, admiring more
The riches of heaven's pavement, trodden gold,
Than ought divine or holy else enjoyed
In vision beatific.

Milton's brilliance here is evident in his imaginative personification of this human desire. In the heavenly realm, before the Fall, where sin was not even a glint in the eye of the (subsequently) most rebellious spirit, even Mammon was a bit too pre-occupied with the gold underfoot ("trodden" means "beaten") than the glories celestial. Yet I digress.

As the endorphins rush, my mind bends and twists. I am Jane Goodall's Tanzanian monkeys typing about bananas. My fingers are Santa's little helpers. My hope is a sporadic rainfall, yet a torrential downpour in all creative environments. I am Theseus, unspooling golden yarn. Sisyphus, sweating uphill. Charles Bukowski, scribbling away in rooming houses. A river always flowing. I am the nightmare of stagnancy and the messenger of imagination.

Who needs that secret identity? I am the Media Guy.

Every good Media Guy is ingrained with pages 9 and 10 of Vonnegut’s Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction where he lists the eight rules for writing a short story:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible, as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

I could go on, yet I recall Vern saying that when you emphasize physical fitness you improve mental focus and reduce anxiety. After all, this is what drives my cool vibe. Mental focus. This focus drives the Media Guy.

Which leads me to wonder why my path to being the slimmer, sleeker Media Guy heeded the downward dog advice of trying the downward dog from a good friend who had just consumed an entire bottle of South African red.