Failure is an option…

…and a viable one, at that.

Content wise, I have been resisting the urge to push links to other stories and articles.  We did that in KangWorld, which was fine, but Random Misanthrope is more about us and less about everyone else. Every now and then, I’ll stumble across a story and think “Hmmm…this needs to be shared” and then nope away from it because it’s not in scope; not what this iteration of Kang’s int4rw3bz fuckery is about.

Today, I’m breaking the law.  I’m washing the dog.  I’m being an editorial rebel because I just (fo realsies and shit) finished reading an article that was like an egg beater to the brain.  A much needed kick in the pants for me, at the very least.  A sorely needed reminder that it’s perfectly fine to fall flat on your face, owning it is good and sharing the failure is even better.

Professional Kang has never had a problem with owning her mistakes. Early in her career, she learned it’s an admirable trait and people appreciate honesty, chutzpah and the willingness to right the wrong. Personal Kang loathes failure.  In fact, she lives in visceral fear of it. Why she cannot apply what works so well for her professionally to her personal life is something she struggles with daily; especially since she knows she really is far too intelligent to have such a significant mental disconnect blocking her on-ramp to Happiness Highway.  :vomits in mouth a little:

With that blather done and addressed, I’ll get to the good stuff:  the article in The Guardian titled “My big fail:  losers come clean on their all-time low.”  I tried looking for a few passages to pull out as a teaser and, really, I don’t think it’s fair to the article to do that. Everything is compelling and to snag a snippet for click-bait would be…meh.  Not to mention, each of the vignettes deserves its full due.  I suppose the only thing I could really carve out and leave as a point to ponder is this:

“A failure isn’t always big. It might just be a realisation that you could be doing better things with your life.”

Ahead of me, tomorrow, is a long drive home to Philly with my ever-present sidekick, the Milkfaced One.  At some point, as we molder on I-95 in Virginia, he will fall asleep and I’ll be left with some quiet time to climb up into my brain and over-think just about everything in my life as I’m wont to do.  I will be revisiting my friend, The Big Bewildered Bunny of Borås.  I will be intensely auditing the past six or seven weeks of the clichéd “new normal.”  I will be wondering how and why it is that I use the right words on the wrong people and what I can do to correct that timesuck.  There’s nothing quite like the breakdown (or epic fail) of a major relationship in your life to get you thinking about all of your relationships with everyone else.  Who is worth the time?  Who isn’t? Now that you find yourself feeling pain, are you inflicting it on others and what the fuck are you going to do about that, sugartits, because that’s not a good way to go through life?

Then, I’m going to do something very bold:  I’m going to ask myself the question “What’s it going to take to make you happy?”  Supremely happy.  Because I have learned two things as I adjust to the “new normal” and they are:

  1. Happiness:  it’s mine for the taking.
  2. Failure:  just a synonym for opportunity.

They say…

…and they are always right, aren’t they?

They say that when one resumes the “art” of writing, that the writer should be disciplined; that the writer should sit down once and day and grab some words, rearrange them into sentences which will inevitably form a paragraph which could potentially result in many paragraphs with the ideal goal of producing some sort of cogent essay or story.  I was really hoping for a massively long run-on sentence and this should demonstrate exactly where my brain isn’t because I couldn’t even formulate that.

apple_bloom_headdesk_by_grumbeerkopp-d4s0thp
I crawled into my office this morning with a cup of coffee and a bit of grit and determination to make the words say something pretty or something repulsive.  Nothing happened.  I grew frustrated and started fidgeting around with WordPress which made me unpleasant and intolerable so I tried taking a nap.

Après failed nap, I waddled back into my office and resumed the exercise.  Again, nothing happened.

I went downstairs, grabbed a handful of chocolate covered raisins, stuffed them in my foodhole, washed them down with water (which I always carry with me in some nalgene-ish bottle) and dragged myself back upstairs to my office.  Nothing.

I turned on the tv and watched recorded episodes of The Gilmore Girls.  Nothing.

I started thinking of my usual sources for inspiration but it’s a slow news day so I cannot get in touch with my inner hate.  My husband and child aren’t home so I cannot start any fights with the husband and use him as a fire source.  There aren’t even any annoying dogs barking in the neighborhood today.  It’s just…quiet and pleasant.  MEH.

In an attempt to avoid the dreaded and much feared writer’s block, I have started making notes of topics I’d like to explore further.  So far, I have a few really solid ideas and a handful of 1/2-assed ones but I’m not even in the mood to work through those.  These potential stories have meaning and I don’t want to water down the impact they may have because of my general ennui.

Yeah.  So I just banged out 300+ words to sum up what Pinkie Pie says in one picture:

Umppphhhhh

Another random trip, man.

It seems like only yesterday I was posting about the one year anniversary of Random Misanthrope, which had come and gone without any of us realizing it. And now the two-year mark just past and the exact same thing happened.

Wow, has it really been two whole years? Things have quietened down significantly over the previous year and most members of RM no longer contribute, though Blitzken and I still delight or annoy our readers with the occasional poem. In fact, Blitzy posted a short but poignant piece on the 11th of April, which is Random Misanthrope’s birthday:

A thimble-full or Therapy or What I’ve Learned in 50 Years

We posted a total of 187 posts since the previous anniversary. We’re averaging approximately 15 posts per month, although for some months our output was a low as seven posts. The most productive month was November 2012, in which a total of 27 posts were posted.

So, we’re not as busy as we used to be, but we’re still making noise. 🙂

Pieces of Paper: How to be Unemployed in Sweden

I’ve already posted one or two poems about bureaucracy in Sweden, which were inspired by the process I’ve been undergoing since losing my job a few months ago. Well, I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I haven’t gotten there yet but things are definitely getting brighter.

It’s important to keep in mind that this a country obsessed with paperwork, and I literally mean paper that one writes on with a pen. Occasionally, one encounters an “online form,” but it’s the kind that one fills in online, then prints out, signs, puts into an envelope and then into a mailbox, which defeats the whole purpose of filling in the form online.

Allow me to familiarize you with the process of getting employment benefits, and how many Pieces of Paper are involved. On the first day I was officially unemployed I went to the employment office with an Employer Certificate (piece of paper #1) from my former employer, where I registered myself as unemployed and seeking work. They gave me something they call a Treatment Plan (piece of paper #2) which is a list of mostly useless suggestions for how to get a job. They then notified my unemployment agency, which sent me an application form (piece of paper #3) to fill in.

The unemployment agency advised me to register for their online service, as it somewhat streamlines the process of getting the money. Kudos to them as it does actually work pretty well. However, you’d think they could email me my password like everyone else does, but apparently this had to be sent by paper mail (piece of paper #4) so I spent a few days waiting for it to arrive.

Before the unemployment agency could make a decision, I had to submit a Cash Card detailing the days and hours I actually worked and the same for which I was unemployed. Miraculously, this is actually a form that one fills in and submits online. Therefore it’s technically not a piece of paper, though it would have been in the past, hence the old-fashioned name of Cash Card. At least they’ve managed to bring this part of process into the 21st century.

At one point I sent them a message asking if I could just scan and email documents to them since I figured this could save both paper and time. They responded that they needed paper copies. I guess they can only be sure of the authenticity of a document if they have a physical paper copy, since we all know how difficult it is to fake paper documents.

Anyway, I sent them the application, along with copies of the Employer Certificate and Treatment Plan. I got my password in the mail, and filled in and submitted the online Cash Card. A few days later I got my Decision Letter (piece of paper #5) in the mail informing me that I’ve been processed and approved to receive benefits. I just needed to contact the bank that pays out the money and let them know where to send it. As it turns out the bank that does this is my bank, so they said the money should just show up in my account. Sweet.

But wait there’s more…

When I found out how much they’re actually giving me, I thought the amount seemed rather low. Employment is supposed to be 80% of your original salary, so I did some checking and discovered that the unemployment agency has an income cap of about $2,800 per month, which means they’ll pay benefits for up to that amount. It doesn’t matter if you made $2,000 or $10,000 per month, the amount is the same. Furthermore, they’ll give you only 80% of that amount, so if you receive the maximum amount of benefits we’re talking only $2,200 gross. On top of that, they deduct 30% for taxes, which would leave you with $1,550 net.

That’s where income insurance comes in, which I got through the Teacher’s Union. Since the amount that unemployment actually pays out is so pitifully low, my income insurance will pay the remainder of the 80% of my original salary, and that amount will be tax free. I spoke to them on the phone and they said they’d send me an application form (piece of paper #6) and which I’ll fill in and send back to them, along with a copy of my Decision Letter.

Joyful, isn’t it? I’ve now gone all the way through the unemployment process but have just begun the insurance process. Also, my situation is a little more complicated due to the fact that I’m taking a Swedish course. Normally, you’re not qualified to receive benefits while studying, but as long as it’s part time (less than 50%) you can still get unemployment. It just requires more Forms, Certificates, and Pieces of Paper.

Here are some interesting facts about the number 37…

…in honor of it being my 37th birthday. 🙂

“It is a prime number, the fifth lucky prime, the first irregular prime, the third unique prime and the third cuban prime of the form.”

Now, I know what a prime number is but I have no idea what the rest of that stuff is. I’m especially curious about the “cuban prime” and find myself wondering if it’s Numero Uno de Cuba, Fidel Castro?

Probably not.

“It’s the normal human body temperature in degrees Celsius.”

Very useful information, indeed.

“New General Catalog (NGC 37) is a lenticular galaxy located in the Phoenix constellation. It is approximately 42 kiloparsecs (137,000 light-years) in diameter and about 12.9 billion years old.

Here’s a picture of it:

Here’s a closeup of something really far away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

37 is also:

“The number of plays William Shakespeare is thought to have written (counting Henry IV as three parts).”

“The [former] international dialing code of the German Democratic Republic (aka East Germany)”

“Kevin Smith’s Clerks’ Dante Hicks’ girlfriend Veronica’s number of former boyfriends with whom she performed fellatio.”

(Thanks, Wikipedia)

Keeping in Touch on Paper

I freely admit to being a 21st-century technology junkie.

I love my Kindle, and HDTV, and Spotify, and my smart phone, and the Internet, and my Transformer Prime tablet. I spend a lot of time using all that stuff. Almost all of my shopping for gifts, clothing, train and plane tickets, etc., is done online. For all its flaws, without Facebook I wouldn’t be able to stay in touch with anyone. Whenever I have a free moment during the course of my day, I’m most likely on my phone or my tablet. My mom and I used to email one another regularly, but increasingly these days we text. The instantaneous communication it offers is so much better than having to wait hours or even days for a response to an email. And naturally I keep in contact with all of my friends through Facebook and texting. With me living in Sweden those two things are absolutely indispensable for staying in touch with family and friends back in the United States.

And then there’s my dad, who’s just about the only person I know who is almost off the grid. He’s got a landline phone and a fixed address but that’s about it. He has no cell phone, and though he has a computer of sorts, it was manufactured sometime in the previous century, and is used mainly to play Tetris and Solitaire and not to access the internet. The thing is, though, is that I prefer him like this. I don’t want him to change. When I was still living in Oregon, I used to go and visit him for days at a time and always loved staying at his house on the coast and being totally unplugged.

However, I’ve had very little contact with him since I left the United States, but it’s not entirely his fault. Neither of us has made much of an effort to stay in touch. There have been a few phone calls but our main contact is still paper-based and amounts to one or two letters a year. Usually he encloses a check for several hundred dollars, which I endorse and immediately mail to my mother in California, who deposits said check in my American bank account.

This really is the most efficient way to deal with checks, which are used rarely, if at all in Sweden. I get my monthly salary deposited through bank transfer, as well as my tax refunds and all other payments, and all my bills are made online or through bank transfers. So when I get an actual check from the United States the way to deal with it involves a charmingly 20th-century process of using postage stamps and envelopes and mail boxes, all of which I don’t use very often anymore, so it’s fun in a quaintly nostalgic kind of way. Kind of like listening to music from the 90s or reading books made out of paper.

A couple of months ago, I got a check and a nice long letter from my dad, thanking me for the book of poetry I sent to him for Christmas. (I put this book together on Shutterfly, and put a lot of thought into the selection of the pieces and photographs. With the understanding that most people don’t like, appreciate or even get poetry, I felt comfortable sharing my work with only a few people, my mom and grandmother, my brother, sister, and my of course my dad. None of these poeple write poetry, but they know I do, and some of the pieces were quite personal and full of negative emotions.) I got busy (not in that way, you perv) as teachers often do at this time of year, and never got around to writing him back and thanking him for the $300 check. Then low and behold another envelope arrives a couple of days ago, this time with a $500 check and a one line message that reads, “Just because!” Now, I feel a bit sheepish. Or maybe like some other animal that doen’t write its semi-estranged father back in a timely manner.

With this additional amount of money, he’s now sent me enough money to buy a plane ticket to Portland to visit him. Perhaps this is supposed to be one giant hint, though I doubt it. He’s not the hint-giving type. I sat down at my computer and wrote him a letter. Not hand written, mind you. (Come on) I thanked him for the checks and informed him of my impending visit. It will probably be sometime in the fall. It’s just too expensive to travel during the summertime. The cost of a plane ticket more than doubles then due to the price gouging bastard airlines.

So it’s been, gosh, seven years since I last set foot in my dad’s house on the Oregon Coast. Seven years since I last saw the Pacific Northwest. I’m quite fond and familiar with it, you know, having lived there for the last ten years before moving abroad. I’ve got two degrees from the University of Oregon. GO DUCKS!!!

And my younger sister lives in Portland now, so that gives me another reason to visit that fair city. She manages a pub there, though I’m not sure which one. When I found that out, I got really excited. “I’m coming over!” I said.

Lazy Mexican Sunday

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Sunday Corona at our local Mexican restaurant. That’s one thing I don’t envy about Europe, it’s the devil trying to find a half-way decent Mexican place there. For some strange reason Chinese food also sucks in Europe.

What is your dream?

Let us say that money is no consideration and that you had an unlimited amount of it:  What would you do, where would you live?

Hemingway's desk in Key West by squirrelist

I would move to Key West, Florida and live like Ernest Hemingway — drinking and writing, writing and drinking.  My wife and I are in love with Key West, in fact that is where we renewed our vows.  There’s something magical about that place, as though the heat and humidity, the people and scenery prompts your inner muse.

So, what is your dream?

 

Why Earth has not been invaded yet!!!

I don’t believe in pseudo-science, I’m a Skeptic.  UFOs, the Flying Spaghetti Monsters, the Loch Ness lake monster, are all bullshit.  I repeat: BULLSHIT.  However, if there was indeed intelligent life out there wishing to conquer earth and ravage us, I believe that they scanned our planet and found the following music videos before they decided that this planet is definitely not worth it!