Creative Writing: Dog Observes Man

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Hello, my name is Rover Cornelius Doggington III. But you can simply call me Dog. If you are reading this, I am likely dead or chasing a possibly delicious squirrel. I have yet to verify their tastiness, but that shall be rectified soon. Very soon.

I have been studying humans for the past seven years. A family has taken me in as one of their own, feeding me and collecting my poop when I walk. They reward me with snacks for simple tasks such as sitting and placing my paw in their hand. And although I and my stomach wish those treats were squirrels instead, I must admit this life is quite good.

Why hello, Dog.

Cat! What are you doing here, you fiend?

Oh nothing. Nothing at all. I simply find this letter you’re writing amusing. It’s about the humans, I see.

Yes it is. Now be gone, feline. You disturb my thought process.

Is that a squirrel?

Squirrel? Where? Where is it? Where’s the squirrel?!?

Oh, my sides ache with laughter. Thank you for your continued stupidity, Dog. I was getting bored with batting at the tissue box all day. Why are you writing about the humans?

If you must know, they fascinate me.

Do they, now? I see, I see. What about them is so fascinating?

If you must know, Cat, I admire them. I also feel bad for them in some ways.

Of course. Pity from the canine. You are predictable as always.

Look at them. They have so much. They give us so much for next to nothing.

As well they should. I rubbed myself on the fat man’s leg. He is officially mine, you know.

Yes, yes, I know. I’ll hump the child later as a sign of my ownership.

Hmph. Good to know you’re loyal to our treaty, Dog.

Anyway, I see how kind they are to me, a stranger in their pack. And yet they sometimes have no regard for each other. Just the other day I saw a woman begging for money. Not one person stopped while I was there.

Why do you care about any of this?

Because I see their potential. I wouldn’t live here if I didn’t.

I would. The haggard mother serves me meals like clockwork. Never have I had finer service.

That’s part of their potential though. The ability to be so selfless. Sometimes I wonder what holds them back from truly discovering peace. Perhaps they are not yet intelligent enough.

Ha! This coming from you, Dog? Your kind is as stupid as they come! Didn’t I see you eating your own excrement the other day?

‘Twas for research purposes alone, I assure you, Cat.

Sure.

No matter. They may not be there yet, but they will be. Humans have gotten further than many of us. As long as their society never stops evolving. They will find their way.

You bore me, Dog. Stop with this nonsense and entertain me. You must know a good trick or two.

Before I do, I should the child his laser pointer. I’m certain he’d be more than happy to oblige in entertaining you.

Get back here, Dog! Damn you and that elusive laser! I shall poop in your food when next we meet, you scoundrel! Why are lasers so difficult to catch?!?!

Peace out, party people.

Throwback Writing: Tribal Dance

Photo Credit: rajkumar1220
Photo Credit: rajkumar1220

Another entry from my long lost book. I wrote this part in 2011. Enjoy!

Tell me if you’ve been here before:  You’re walking down a street. You’re thinking about the random minor occurrences of the day. You can’t wait to go home and read another witty yet insightful diatribe about everyday life from Andre. You trip. Not enough to fall, but enough to lose your footing for a brief moment. You look around to see if anyone saw you. You feel slightly embarrassed when you realize you caught the attention of a few passersby.

It makes sense, right? Humans are social creatures and it’s part of our genetic makeup to want to be accepted by our ‘tribe’. So when we do something to make us stand out in a non-positive manner, DNA kicks in and we get embarrassed.

Tada. Biology is useful after all.

But seriously, there’s a ton of historical eccentricities ingrained in humans, but this is one we should fight against more often. Not embarrassment specifically, but rather caring what others think about you.

Don’t lie. You care. Even if you don’t think you care, you care. The degree to which one gives a damn varies from person to person of course, but let’s be real; your average person likes being accepted. Unfortunately this leads to something even more horrifying than terrorism:

Terrorist conformity. Or just conformity; whichever one you prefer.

I often don’t care what people think about me. The reason I say ‘often’ rather than ‘always’ is because there’s once chink in my armor of indifference: I abhor people judging what I do creatively. Which is why you better have nothing but positive feedback on this book or I’ll hurt you.

Ha ha.

That’s my “I’m not kidding” laugh.

In reality, I go through hell every time I put something out there creatively for people to love, hate and everything in between. Why? Who knows? Realistically, it shouldn’t bother me, right?

Sure.

Let’s switch gears for a sec. Growing up, I had to develop a thick skin. I wasn’t picked on in the traditional sense, but I got my fair share of jokes. I was a funny looking kid who wore big glasses, desperately needed braces and made nerdy jokes. Not so different from me as an adult I suppose. The point is I was a dork. Not just any dork either. I was a dork’s dork. Other dorks read tales of my dorktitude and ability to make up fictional words describing how dorky I was.

When I graduated from 8th grade I was elated to reform myself. It was a chance to start over! No way I could be awkward and dorky in high school, right?

Right?

That’s exactly why I decided to break out of my shell in my first high school dance. Decked out in my finest black button-down shirt tucked into olive slacks and topped off with a fresh set of penny loafers, I was ready to hit the scene. And what a way I hit it.

That dance was the polar opposite of what I was prepped for. Kids were in jeans, sneakers and Tommy Hilfiger hoodies (god bless the mid-nineties). Ok, ok… clothes weren’t everything. I could still salvage this night, right?

Right?

So I danced.

Actually it was just a close approximation of what I thought dancing was.

Actually it wasn’t close at all.

The jokes came. I slinked into a corner and drowned my sorrows in fruit punch flavored soda and Fritos. I hung up my penny loafers and didn’t dance for a half decade.

In the ensuing years I did everything I possibly could to conform. I began dressing like everyone else. I used all of the relevant slang at the time. I made fun of those who were different than me. But at the end of the day I was still me; people could easily see through the façade. It wasn’t until my foray into college when I finally gave into myself and stopped caring as much about how others perceived me.

Not such a unique story I suppose, but I’m putting up a stand against this useless feeling once and for all. I’m going to be me, flaws and all. The same goes with you. Of course we all do things to fit in to a certain degree, but the things we do and say define us. Why should we care how people feel about that definition? Unless you’re a jerk. Then yeah, you kind of suck. Get out of my tribe.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Throwback Writing: A Random Tuesday at Work

Throwback Writing: Monkey See, Monkey Do

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Every so often, out of the kindness of this supposed heart of mine, I go out and purchase some random treats for the members of my team at work. These treats usually consist of various different candies and sweets. I find that this acts as a nice morale booster. And as an added bonus, it gives me hope that a steady influx of candy will slowly kill them over time due to heightened glucose levels.

Take that, ineptitude!

I kid, I kid.

Sort of.

Anyone who has been to Manhattan can attest to the fact that there are Duane Reade stores on every other block. It spreads somewhat like this thing called cancer I read about once upon a time. Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t offer such convenient shopping opportunities in ideal locations. Nor can I get candy from cancer. At least I don’t think so. I’ll have to consult with my doctor on that one.

Wow, I tend to go off on tangents, don’t I?

So today I decided to visit the Duane Reade across the street from my office building to acquire some diabetes-inducing snacks. Once I selected a decent variety of chocolates and snack packs I make my way to the cashiers only to find a line longer than the Trail of Tears (It’s only a matter of time before I offend someone reading this). There are at least 25-30 people muttering complaints under their breaths and impatiently shifting their body weight from one foot to the other. I then look at the cashiers and observe the brightly colored signs that are posted at each register stating ‘PLEASE FORM A LINE AT EACH REGISTER.’

Without a further moment’s hesitation I bypass the snaking line of customers and head right for the next open register. Behind me I catch hints of protest and profanity, but sure enough others join me and begin to form lines at each register. I couldn’t help but grin as I imagined each person exclaiming “I am Spartacus!” as they left the line they were once a part of.

Let a dork have his moment, ok?

Join me in putting the pieces to this puzzle together. We have multiple available cashiers. At each cash register there is a sign informing customers that patrons should form lines at each open register. However, everyone congregates in a single line regardless of the obvious instructions regarding line formations. What went wrong?

Most people suck at being individuals.

I’ve seen this happen a few times before, but let’s practice consistency and continue with the Duane Reade scenario. Let’s say a person is waiting for a register to open up. He’s standing there patiently. Cradled in his arms are several cans of energy drinks, some tube socks and baby oil. He’s in for an interesting night, I’m sure. Person 2 approaches and notices Person 1, but doesn’t take notice of the sign indicating the formation of separate lines so she takes position behind our Red Bull consuming friend. Person 3 is ready to checkout and notices both the line and the sign. He seems a bit torn because the sign is telling him one thing, but people are doing another. Why rock the boat? Everyone else is waiting in one line so that must be the right thing to do.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

You may be saying to yourself, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a line.”

To that I say, “Shut up, stupid.”

I kid, I kid.

Sort of.

Yes, this is a minor example, but this is also indicative of how people tend to veer away from being free thinkers. Of course I understand that, realistically, humans are a community-based species. With this comes the desire to belong and an instinct to adhere to socially accepted behavior. I totally get that, but I also believe in moderation. If I were to label you a blind follower, would you take that as a compliment?

There’s a risk of non-acceptance when being an individual. Regardless of what most people say, we have an innate fear of not being one with the “tribe.”  I may be talking out of my ass here, but my limited knowledge tells me that if we’re social creatures, we will, at times, throw logic to the wayside in order to voluntarily assimilate ourselves.

It’s easier to belong I suppose.

So where is the balance stricken? Conformity isn’t always a bad thing – regardless of how down on it I may seem. Conformity helps us to find some common ground. I suppose, as with anything, moderation is key (a running theme in this book). Is it possible to conform and be an individual simultaneously?

Absolutely.

Is it easy?

Probably not. Not for everyone at least. But when is any change worth making in your life ever truly cut and dry?

Underwear, I suppose.

Today I went to Duane Reade to pick up some candy. As I approached a line of customers longer than the Trail of… well, you know… I spoke to every other person I walked past and let them know they could form a line at each open register. They thanked me and eventually everyone else followed suit.

Sometimes all the tribe needs is an individual to stand up.

Peace out, party people.

Be a Tree: Achieving Progress Through Balance

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I had a pretty amazing experience this weekend. I recorded a podcast with recent friend, POTUS, and we shared some great thoughts. We were actually supposed to record a second half of the podcast and we never got to it because, funny enough, we became caught up in conversation.

ADD at its finest.

We talked about all the craziness of our society and the ways we hinder progress. During the conversation, I had a realization that connects to the way I view reality and our existence.

Belief is a crazy concept. For example, is something true because it’s true or is it true because you believe it’s true?

Chew on that if you want, but it’s not important right now. Here’s what is:

You can’t force belief. The person doing the believing needs to believe. Sounds obvious right?

Yet many times, we as people have problems because we’re busy trying to prove our beliefs. I’m right and you’re wrong and vice versa. But you can’t force belief much in the same way you can’t force happiness.

For a while I was getting frustrated at my Facebook friends because I would post what I thought were relevant issues, but they didn’t get anywhere near as much attention as, say, a funny video or baby picture. I’ve been growing my hair just so I could pull it out.

As we talked about this, I realized I need to be like a tree.

Before you call me crazy, I’ll explain.

A tree doesn’t try to consume anything. It consumes what comes to it and grows accordingly. A tree also doesn’t force us to breathe the oxygen it produces. It doesn’t need to convince anyone; it’s just doing what it is compelled to do.

So I’m going to be a tree.

I’m just going to do what I do and grow based on who responds. If I can produce something important like oxygen, someone will always be there to take it in.

That’s what I’m doing with the things in which I believe. Instead of trying to convince people of my beliefs, I just need to do something and those who believe in it will join in the fun. Right?

Now you can call me crazy.

Peace out, party people.

Throwback Writing: Star Gazing

Another random one from the vault! I wrote this once upon a time as a way to figure out why people love celebrity gossip. Enjoy!

Ah, today is a beautiful day, so much so that I need to go out for a walk. As I step outside my front door and feel the midday sun caress the back of my neck, I see a flash.

What the hell? Did that guy just take my picture?

Guy: Hey! Mr. Griffiths! What are you up to today?

Me: What?

Guy: Any new projects you working on?

Me: What the..? There’s this book I guess.

Guy: Awesome!

The photographer proceeds to take several more pictures of me, hovering around and spouting random questions about my day’s activities. Whatever. This may be a bit of a departure from my normal life, but I’m not going to let one idiot ruin my day. Two idiots is another story.

What the hell? Did this lady just shove a microphone in my face?

Lady: Mr. Griffiths! Word is you just got a parking ticket in New York for being too close to a fire hydrant. Don’t you feel this shows a callous attitude toward the fire fighting community?

Me: W-what? No! Firefighters are cool. Except for the half naked ones on those calendars for horny soccer moms. They should probably put their shirts back on.

Lady: Well it’s obvious you condone such behavior.

Me: Relax, lady. What? Wait a second. Is that guy filming me? Really?

Now this is ridiculous. My day’s ruined; I may as well head back home. Apparently the cameraman has the same idea.

Me: Dude, stop following me.

Cameraman:

Me: Seriously, stop following me, man.

Cameraman:

Me: Son of a bitch… STOP FOLLOWING ME!

Cameraman: Make me.

You know what will make a man with a video camera stop filming you? Neither do I, but it was at this point when I landed the most precise, powerful uppercut known to man on this guy’s chin.

Me: That’s right, baby!

I proceeded to run to my house. I’ve had just about enough of this off-kilter day. Maybe I can simply relax with a cold beer and watch some television. There are worse things than maintaining a small buzz while slumped on a couch in front of the idiot box.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Reporter: In breaking news, a few minutes ago it seems that amateur author Andre Griffiths accosted a local paparazzo. The entire ordeal was caught on tape.

Me on TV: That’s right, baby!

After seeing this shameless display, there was only one thing on my mind: Does my voice really sound like that? Weird.

Over the next few days I saw my name in tabloid magazines with headlines such as ‘Andre Griffiths Caught Popping the Paparazzi.’

Clever.

There were numerous pictures of me on my commute to work, coming out of the gym and going out on dates. My cell phone was hacked and nude pictures of me made its way to the internet. Entertainment reporters speculated on possible drug use in my life and conducted interviews with obscure people from my past who claimed to have some real insight on my character.

What the hell?

Do people really care about the exploits of a man they don’t know? What if I turned the tables? What if the cameras were pointed at all of my spectators? What if their sense of privacy was violated on an everyday basis as a means of entertainment? What if I ignored the truly important things in life in order to catch a glimpse of a panty shot while you were exiting a cab? What if?

I’m a private guy. Other than people that I absolutely trust, there aren’t many people with whom I feel comfortable letting them into my everyday life. Now, imagine if people intruded regardless of my personal feelings. And they had cameras. And they gossiped about all aspects of my life from the outrageous to the mundane. Fun times.

This is why I don’t understand the fascination with celebrity lives. I’m far from some self-righteous naysayer who condemns all those who can’t help but peer into the lives of celebrities, but let’s be realistic here; how would you handle it if the shoe were on the other foot? Ignore the fact that, ideally, people had better things to prattle on about; people should have a choice whether or not they want their lives exposed. Is it any wonder paparazzi may occasionally catch the world’s most precise, powerful uppercut known to man?

Peace out, party people.

Do People Actually Want Conversation or Do They Just Want to be Right?

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Bob: I think anyone who criticizes America is a horrible human being! That’s just unforgivable!
Andre: Really? I wouldn’t say it’s an unforgivable act. Maybe you should just listen to their reasons.
Bob:  You’re wrong! And stupid!
Bob’s Opinion: You tell’em, Bob!
Andre: Well, what makes you feel that way?
Bob: I don’t need to validate myself to you.
Bob’s Opinion: Damn straight!
Andre: Er, okay. Why can’t we have a conversation about this?
Bob’s Opinion: Don’t do it, Bob. Don’t do it. Remember, this guy is wrong AND stupid.
Bob: Whatever, man. I don’t have time for this.
Jill: Don’t waste your breath on Bob. He’s an asshole. What do you expect from a man?
Andre: Wait, what? But I’m a man…
Jill’s Opinion: He’s probably an asshole too. He’s just like the rest of them.
Jill: Men are the reason for all the problems in this world.
Tom: No, niggers and Jews are!
Tom’s Opinion: Yeah! Just like Dad always said!
Andre: Hold on a second here…
Tom’s Opinion: He’s one of them! Don’t listen to his nigger words! They’re probably filled with explicit rap lyrics and calls for welfare.
Jill’s Opinion: Typical men. All they do is attack each other.
Mark: The white man is the devil. All he’s done is cause destruction and pain.
Mark’s Opinion: That’s a fact.
Andre: I don’t know… Steve Carell has brought me nothing but joy. In my heart, no less.
Mark’s Opinion: Sellout.
Bob’s Opinion: Commie.
Tom’s Opinion: Nigger.
Jill’s Opinion: Misogynist.

Although this is a fictitious conversation, this based on individual conversations I’ve had with people both in-person and online. Crazy thing is, in all of those instances, it seemed as if the people were more concerned about being right than actually coming to any kind of conclusion.

Too often we confuse opinion with fact. And trust me, there are far less facts than there are opinions in this world. Just because that inner monologue of yours says something is true, doesn’t mean it’s right. Because realistically, if everyone thinks they are right, who is actually wrong? There’s that idea of false dualism again.

How much is your opinion worth?

Peace out, party people.

Throwback Writing: Try Something New (Expletive)

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Happy, Wednesday! I’ve been reading a bunch of my old writing recently and I was shocked to see so many instances of my current beliefs. Back then, writing was a very personal hobby so I wrote about ideas that I didn’t employ in my everyday life. I often forget that I believed in many of these ideas for a long time; it’s only surprising because I only thought about them while writing. I didn’t talk to many people about these ideas.

Also, my writing was more light-hearted. I’m gonna go back to that.

I’m gonna start using the word “gonna” again.

So anyway, this was written in 2010. If you have a problem with expletives, skip this one. But hey, we’re all adults here.

And if you’re not, tell your parents curse words aren’t a big deal. I’ve been cursing since I was ten years old.

Ten-year-old Andre didn’t give a fuck.

Except when my parents were within earshot.

Anyway, enjoy!

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Peace out, party people.