Not The Listmaker (according to Attila)

Not The Listmaker (according to Attila)

“I don’t know who she is, and I don’t know what she is, and I don’t know where she’s from, and I don’t know anything about the why. I am here to inform you of my knowledge of her existence, but the truth of the matter is that I do not know who she is, at all. She never came up on my list before the disappearance, and nobody seems to really know who she is, and yet, everyone knows her, now. It was the perfect scheme, perhaps, or the perfect plan, I guess. Again, something I do not know, for which I traveled to your front door in search of answers.” The person to whom I am speaking sits back and mulls over the words. She is looking at me, and I don’t really know what to make of her look.

And then, he sees us off in the distance. Well, us is loosely defined at this point. She has made green. He sees me, and just as I realize that he has indeed seen me, I decide to leave, but as I’m leaving, Attila rounds the corner. Luckily, she sees me seeing her and immediately looks for him and then, quickly sees him too. He sees us seeing him now and freezes, mid-step, on some plushy grass just north of the fountain around which he must still walk in order to reach us. Calmly, Attila reaches me as I curl at her feet under a table. “Don’t order anything, please,” I plead. “He will not make his way over here. We’re in public. Relax,” she coos. “I will do the cooing, thank you very much, and now is not exactly the time for such relaxation, lady!” I whisper-scorn. She uncrosses and re-crosses her legs, inconveniencing me greatly so that I must reposition myself.

“At least order the eggs benedict,” I suggest as I curl down into my best surveillance loaf and keep watch for him. Attila’s foot begins to tap. “Please,” I paw at her. “My god,” she responds, exasperated. I see him just as a motor vehicle of some sort passes by on the street a few short meters from the table we’re seated at now. “Attil,” I mutter as I stand and slowly walk back, away. “It’s alright. I think it’s alright,” she attempts. “She isn’t here anymore,” I inform. “Thank you, I do know this,” Attila informs. He definitely means to make his way toward us, but I do not know what he hopes to do. Of course he has to be absolutely gorgeous, dressed in a frothy summer gown, hair flowing, almost floating on the air with the lightheartedness of a lover as opposed to my Listmaker. “That is not the Listmaker,” Attila whispers. “Oh,” I squeak and then wonder, “Are you going to let him come over here?” “Of course, that is what he intends.” But then what happens? I wonder again but to myself. “Nothing will happen if he does nothing,” Attila answers. “That was private,” I scold.

Slowly, he crosses the threshold of the restaurant’s outdoor patio space. Gliding on air, he holds out an arm burdened with a small silk purse adorned in sequins, hand sewn, no doubt. He sits. His toes need some work, but his heels look good, and overall, he smells fresh. “Darling,” he begins. “She’s not here,” Attila answers. “Of course I know this,” he states. He pauses as if taking a beat for a hit of a cigarette, but he is not smoking. “Where is she? Tell me this, and I will be gone in a flash. Nice suit, by the way. Who made you that one?” Another airy beat. “She is supposed to be here,” Attila answers, truthfully, amazingly enough.

They both simultaneously switch their top legs and bottom legs in a cross-legged switcharoo. “You are so fascinating, you, Attila, darling,” he swoons. “And you bore me, Sir,” Attila smirks. “The older woman would be disappointed, but, of course, you already know this,” he smiles with a smug air of one-upmanship. “But she is no man,” he spits. Attila sits back and crosses her arms in front of her chest. “What the hell do you want?” “But you already know, dear.” “Fine, take the cat.” What? Me? “Yes, you,” Attila states as she reaches down and picks me up and sets me on the top of the table. “Her name is Tuna, and she’s a novice, but she’s done well so far,” Attila explains. But I thought that I was yours, I mew to myself, confused. “I’m sure she’s wonderful, but I want HER,” he shouts with a slap on the table and a quick, chair-squeaking rise. “You cannot avoid my messages, Attila. Everyone knows you did it,” he offers in finality. Gracefully, he turns and walks away. Once in the street again, he disappears.

I’m not jealous. You’re jealous.

I’m not jealous. You’re jealous.

There’s general jealousy, like envy, a sort of wanting of something that you admire, but you know that it will not satisfy you once you have it. Then there’s a deep, dark, rage-type jealousy that includes (but is absolutely not limited to) wishing you were as talented and/or intelligent as someone else, that you could be that amazing, celebrity-like, star person. And then there’s the type of jealousy that just makes you want to kill yourself, end it all in the name of “What the hell is the point of me even trying when someone like her already exists?” The “her” in question is none other than Ursula K. Le Guin.

Like all of my favorite writers, I found out about Le Guin not long before she passed away. I’ve read a number of her short stories and novels, but the truth is that I prefer her nonfiction, well, just the one nonfiction I’ve read so far (aside from essays and other, shorter nonfiction), No Time To Spare: Thinking about what matters. It’s a beautiful book about aging, growing older, being old. It’s the type of book that I wish I could simply quote in its entirety here, but obviously, that’s illegal. The book, nevertheless, is that good. I could and would gladly transcribe the thing in its entirety for you to read. Of course, you can, as easily, check the book out yourself from your local library (and I would encourage you to do so).

And so, I have decided to choose my top five quotes, the quotes that are resonating with me the most these days. They are as follows (okay, my top 6), in page order as opposed to order of importance, which would, theoretically, be impossible to determine:

6. “Old age is for anybody who gets there.” (p 9)

5. “When did it become impossible for our government to ask its citizens to refrain from short-term gratification in order to serve a greater good?” (p 118)

4. “It’s so much easier to blame the grown ups than to be one.” (p 123)

3. “Cruelty is a human specialty, which human beings continue to practice and perfect and institutionalize, though we seldom boast about it.” (p 151)

2. “Belief has no value in itself that I can see. Its value increases as it is useful, diminishes as it is replaced by knowledge, and goes negative when noxious. In ordinary life, the need for it diminishes as the quantity and quality of knowledge increases.” (p 195)

1. “The warmth of the sun is on my face as soon as its light is.” (p 211)

A Tale of Two Bosses

A Tale of Two Bosses

What do you do when you realize that you do not really like your boss, and then, you find out that nobody else you work with really does either? And it’s not that she’s my boss so much as it’s that she’s my supervisor. And the issue is not so much about her competence as it is about her personality or “management style.” It’s rough to be around her. The worst part, however, is that she may not even know that she’s coming off the way that she is.

The thing about me is that I try really hard to treat each person as an individual. I try my damnedest to never make any assumptions, and I try really hard to get to know people so that I can know who they are as opposed to who they tell me they are. And so, the issue with this “manager” (and I use quotes here as the term is thrown around quite loosely at my place of employment, and so, she is not a manager [like stated above] so much as she’s a supervisor), revolves solely around the way that she talks to all of us mere, wee, underlings. She talks to us as if we’re A) doing the wrong thing or nothing, and B) not doing it right, and then, all in the same breath, she asks you to start doing some other thing, but she was the one who put you on the task you are currently “doing so badly.” And it’s all in the tone.

Everything about her personality feels contrived. She’s fake. She’s the version of herself that she thinks she should be in her new “management” role. Even when she interacts with customers, she speaks at them as if everything is their fault, which sometimes it is but never under these circumstances of waiting tables (90% of the time, for the elderly). And so, the issue is a matter of style.

The two of our personalities clashed a little bit when she A) reprimanded me for a “mistake” that I did not make, and then B) failed to understand the question I was actually asking her, which made me repeat myself over and over again because she lacked the understanding to know wtf I was trying to explain to her. Our conversation, which to my credit (as I am known for not being able to keep my cool in the midst of an argument with someone who is, let’s just say, stubborn in all the wrong ways) remained calm and collected, became the focal point of all our other coworkers. They were clearly wondering a few of the same things I had brought up, but nobody had said anything aloud before. And then later in the day I was relieved of my stress when a few fellow coworkers (and the next day my actual superior and manager) kindly, quietly and gently made it known that it’s not me; it’s definitely her.

Of course, I have worked for people I did not like. However, the strange part about this particular personality is that nobody else who works there is like her. Everyone else is really chill and is equally put off by her. So, what is management supposed to do, if she’s competent (she is) and the issue begins and ends with her terrible personality? I am genuinely curious as we’ve moved here specifically to start our new business venture, and I may someday have to deal with exactly this same issue.

My lifemate (and body buddy) have discussed a few options, but basically, I’m left with leaving it be. Those are my direct orders from my actual boss, and so, I have to assume that they know that she’s a bit of a pickle, but you can’t fire someone just because you don’t like them—A) you will never have more than two employees, and B) people you don’t like are still capable of doing the job.

I don’t really have a point; I’m throwing my predicament out there to see if anyone has any insight on this sort of thing.

Until next time.

In the Light of Shadow

In the Light of Shadow

A crystal-like chandelier floats just below the ceiling of a long-narrow room. The width of the room fits only the chandelier, and the width of the chandelier echoes that of a person in good health. Sparkling, white, as if from nowhere the light flickers throughout the space creating patterns seen only against the shadows it makes. Lacking physical bulbs of light, the chandelier, as if from within, merely emanates a rich, stimulating glow. Ever so often the baubles gently clink against each other creating the twinkling sounds to which all other sounds are compared. Round, perfectly spherical, the chandelier begins to slowly rotate around its center.

Fuchsia, the light of the chandelier slowly grows in intensity as it changes hues. Red. A rod iron bistro chair rests in one far edge of the room, and on the chair rests the older woman. Legs crossed, right over left, the older woman sits calmly with hands folded upon her lap. The older woman inhales a deep breath. With an exhale, the older woman must wait. The chandelier returns to its colorless clarity.

Cerulean, the light of the chandelier slowly grows in intensity as it changes hues. Blue. A brown leather armchair appears in the far edge of the room, opposite the rod iron chair, and on the chair appears the storming woman. Cross-legged, fully comfortable upon the ample chair, the storming woman cautiously places her elbows upon her knees, clasps each hand with the other, her chin rests upon her hands. The storming woman stares at the older woman who sits across from her on the other side of the long, narrow room.

Returned to its colorless sparkle, the chandelier greets them both, “A bridge burns.” The women sit, the older woman quite stiff and unapproachable, the storming woman quite relaxed albeit on guard. “It’s the way, Attila, through which all ways are made,” the older woman speaks aloud. “It’s the way, Ma’am, by which all things are learned,” the storming woman responds. They sit, each staring at the other, for an unknowable amount of time.

Laughing, the older woman concedes, “She cannot know what she does not know.” “Unknowing,” the storming woman explains. “Could not,” the older woman again concedes. The storming woman feels a tingle of suspicion, “A gap in knowledge does not ignorance make, however.” “Everyone relies on some truth, no matter how small,” the older woman replies. “A fabricated truth is still truth.” “Of course. A fabricated lie is also truth.” “Of course.”

The room bends. A realization immediately hits them both. “Attila,” the older woman warns. “No,” the storming woman demands. The chandelier begins to slowly blink. Keen on the change, both women dart their eyes to the light’s source. “Curse you!” the storming woman yells. Chartreuse. “And to you too, dear,” the older woman calmly responds. The sound a tree branch makes when a branch breaks sears through the tiny space. Black.

Empty, the room returns itself back to a long, narrow shape. The chandelier shakes itself off like a wet cat. Clear, crystal-like, sparkling and clean, the light spreads patterns against shadow throughout a place where color forfeits.

 

Gratitude is not an attitude

Gratitude is not an attitude

When your boss ought to know more than you about certain things (probably most things) related to your employment, i.e. all the things you need to do at your job, the most important thing becomes your boss’s own competence, and yesterday, not only did I learn that my boss is highly competent, but also, she’s unlike any other boss I have ever had before. Of course, I am a new employee (still under a probationary period), and perhaps, the boss is capable of seeming competent for a short period of time. I do not believe that this is the case, but obviously, anything is possible. And so, I tread optimistically with caution, as I have been brutally disappointed before, after exactly this sort of employment excitement.

Thus, my point seems to be circling around thoughts about how I am feeling validated in my personal ideologies about how to be a boss. This is, after all, the reason why I am working at the place I am working under the boss for whom I am working, to learn from her, everything that I can for my own business. And yesterday, she validated my natural proclivity for being generous.

One of my greatest fears in life is having someone take advantage of me. I hate it. There’s nothing worse than working hard for someone who could not give a shit. There’s also nothing worse than offering an opportunity to someone who does not see it. Also, there’s nothing worse than being taken for granted as either a great employee or employer. And this is where, so far, my new, current employer has everyone beat. She is not ungrateful. She does not let hard work go unnoticed.

As the snow fell and swept through Colorado yesterday, I thought, for sure, that I would be called to not come into work. As a newbie (and thereby unnecessary to daily operations, as of yet), I figured I would be the first to be cut or set free for the day. I was wrong. Not only did I have to come in, I was under the impression that we would operate for regular business hours (luckily we closed early), but this is not my point. My point is that I had no problems going to work. I thought that it was a bit strange, since I knew (without a doubt) that it would be slow (nearly dead), and it was. However, my boss made it clear that the lack of busy-ness would be perfect training ground for me, and it was. The day ended up going super fast because my boss was able to train me on things that I would not have been able to do during normal levels of customer traffic. And, since I was able to train as slowly as needed due to the slow dribble of customer arrivals (which I still cannot believe that anyone would willingly trudge into the snow, but I know that I am guilty of this all the time on snow days), I feel really confident in my newly-acquired skills.

Herein lies the lesson that I truly learned yesterday by trusting and not fighting against a boss to whom I have willing turned to learned—I finally have the competent oversight I’ve been searching for my entire life. Not only is my boss highly competent as a business owner and operations manager, she is also full of heart, love and warmth. I feel like a person when I work with her. And my coworkers seem as equally happy to work there as I am beginning to feel.

I have my own plans for owning and operating a business similarly complex as the business I have joined. And one of my greatest fears is that I will be too nice, too generous, too easily taken advantage of because of my niceness. At the exact same time, I also greatly fear demanding too much of people because I am demanding. Both of these fears have been greatly diminished because I am witnessing, with my own two eyes, that not only is it possible to balance these two seemingly conflicting ideals, but also, it absolutely works as a way to make employees feel good.

My boss was tough yesterday in demanding that the business be open, but she thanked us (the skeleton, bare-bones staff that came in yesterday, despite the feet of snow) for going out of our way to make sure that business was open for the community in which we live. Every customer who walked through our open doors was very grateful that we were open. Our boss was grateful that we all came in to make her business functional for the day. I am grateful that my boss is human enough to understand that she had requested something from us that went above what is needed from us as employees of an establishment that could have just as easily been closed. She thanked all of us who worked with more than just words, and for this, I cannot help but feel seen and cared for. It’s a simple thing really—seeing people as people. And yet, the task seems nearly impossible for most.

And so, the lessons I am learning hardly have anything to do with my actual job description. I know how to do the work for which I have been hired. I am merely being run through the ropes of this particular establishment. What I do not know, however, is how to be a boss to a lot of employees, but this is why I have chosen to work at this particular business. I’ve entered the business at the bottom of the chain, but I am taught by and interact with the top of the chain every single day. And the person at the top of this chain is teaching me all of the lessons I will hopefully need to learn before I start and open my own complex business; she’s teaching me not only how to treat my employees like people, but mostly, she’s teaching me that it’s okay to inject a lot of humanity into the rigorous work of hourly employment.

Obviously, I do not think that she is perfect (nobody is), nor do I think that the owners run a perfect business (nobody can), but I do think that I have greatly lucked out in being able to learn from someone who is setting an amazing example of what business ought to be … a place where people trade their time for the work that needs to be done, while they build a life from the sufficient amount of money they earn in exchange for their time and work. Business owners, to me, have a huge responsibility. And so really, all I’m saying is that it’s nice to work for someone who feels that burden of responsibility and who does the right thing by maintaining the loyalty of employees through gratitude and thankfulness, by acknowledging that a business is nothing without its employees.

The Girl Child with Locks of Gifts

The Girl Child with Locks of Gifts

By Iya Sun

 

On a purple pillow of silk thread that rests upon a cherry floor table, which resides inside a lush bamboo house that was built atop the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet, sits an inordinately small, human, girl child named So Jeong. The day of her birth was like any other day in a world where people, as they are called in civil society, are born. Despite this casual beginning, the Swinging Leaves foretold many ages ago that on that particular day, a girl would emerge into the world with special gifts for each who would travel to look upon her face. With just a single lock of the child’s hair, the traveler would be granted the one wish for which the traveler had traveled the great distance. This, however, came with the small condition that neither the person who plucked the single lock from the girl child’s head nor any member of their future line could ever return to pluck a second strand.

For days, sometimes even months, travelers would travel from distances far and wide for a chance to climb the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet. Giving no thought to the condition upon which the granting of a wish rests, many traveled to solve problems of the moment. Few rarely withstood the journey to the base of the mountain. Even fewer successfully made the climb. But, if even a few from every thousand that journeyed summited, the number of hairs plucked from the girl child’s head subtracted quickly. By the time So Jeong was but six years old, she had almost no hair at all.

Finally, one night, on the brink of death with only a few strands of her hair left, So Jeong cried into the night in grief for all that had been taken from her. Out of fear for the precious life of the girl child that might soon be lost, the Swinging Leaves built a small bamboo shelter to shield her from the travelers’ sights. The hopeful travelers continued to travel to visit the girl child, but for an unknowable amount of time, she sat unseen, which left the travelers with unfulfilled wishes. Alone now to heal and grow strong, the Swinging Leaves presented the girl child with a gift: The Four Cats of Wisdom. Over the course of the next, unknowable amount of time, The Cats would arrive. They were to provide her with warm, loving company while also instilling within her pillars of wisdom.

The first and oldest cat was named Gami the Gentleman. Gami possessed a coat of black with only the simplest white markings. A thin white moustache lined Gami’s upper lip; his chest was aglow in livery, his paws shod in white socks and mittens. Gami was, first and foremost, a gentleman, and as such, his instructions gave way to the girl child’s understanding of wisdom as a privilege, not a right. It was, according to Gami, So Jeong’s duty to forever learn, grow and understand, to always maintain and prepare her mind for the reception of knowledge.

Louie was the title of the second-in-line, and he was a Listener. Covered in a luscious bundle of the softest, fluffiest white and grey fur, Louie remained pleasant, always. Content to merely sit and watch the activities of the others was what made Louie, Louie. He never complained nor did he ever demand that things not be so. No matter what came his way, Louie the Listener heard the good, the bad and never made a fuss. As a Listener, he considered everything that came his way equally, and as the Listener, it was Louie who taught So Jeong about how the key to learning anything was through listening to what others had to say but more importantly, through listening to what she held in her own mind.

The last two cats of the Four Cats of Wisdom were, in fact, twins and as such, arrived simultaneously. Even though they were twins, they did not look exactly the same. Both wore fur of a similar fossil and charcoal striping. Anko wore white knee-high boots, however, while Choko wore white socks and mittens. Choko also donned a brownish moustache, while Anko was clean-shaven. The twins Anko and Choko arrived with a fury, in a flurry of chaos that resulted in the temporary loss of Louie the Listener. The one thing Louie could not tolerate was the raucous rambunctiousness of the twins. They were so cacophonous that Louie could not do the one thing he did best, listen. Despite the temporary hubbub, Anko and Choko quickly began their teachings, and not long after his departure, Louie returned.

Anko the Amicable taught the girl child many things about how to share and spread her knowledge to others. To be friendly, according to Anko, shows respect, and to respect, Anko instructed, instills comfort, and when a person feels comfortable, Anko continued, a person feels confident, and through confidence, Anko surmised, can a person accept who they are, and only after a person accepts who they are, may they accept who they are not.

Choko’s lessons were the most difficult for the girl child to ingest, for Choko was titled Choko the Champion. Choko consistently challenged the girl child in ways that seemed irrelevant to her, and yet he insisted that she would one day understand. That day, however, could not ever be determined or known, as explained repeatedly by Choko, since to know when one needs to be brave does not courage require, and courage is what makes a champion. For it is within the unknown that the courageous succeed. When a champion succeeds, humility requires courage. When a champion is bested, courage fuels grace.

After ages and ages, the girl child finally regained a full head of beautiful, long black hair that shone bright when the rays of the sun filtered in through the tiny slivers between the shoots of bamboo. One day, So Jeong desired so deeply to resume her task of giving gifts to those who made the arduous journey. She, however, did not know how or when this could possibly be accomplished. Thus, she hummed a small tune about all the wisdom Gami the Gentleman, Louie the Listener, Anko the Amicable, and Choko the Champion had taught her. Her song now finished and lingering within the walls of her shelter, the wind slowly snatched up the song as it seeped out between the bamboo’s cracks and delivered it to the Swinging Leaves.

The next day, the Swinging Leaves swung through the girl child’s shelter to share with her their decision. So Jeong giggled and twirled about on her pillow as she awaited the Swinging Leaves’ new arrangement. They had come to the conclusion that with the girl child’s hair now grown back stronger than ever, So Jeong was not only strong enough to endure the constant giving of herself to others, but also, she was now wise enough to fertilize the consistent, hasty growth of her gift-giving strands of hair. With that, the Swinging Leaves gave another small gift, that of a warning. To the girl child, the Swinging Leaves spoke, “Those who take from you will never give you anything back. Thus, if you do not know this already, know this now. Yes, you possess the type of gift only you can give, but you are not required to give anything to anyone.”

This warning came as a bit of a shock to the girl child for she did not know that she had a choice. A little stunned and confused, the girl child stood upon her pillow with greater force than the Swinging Leaves had ever felt from her before. So Jeong, with a small stance of anger, dismissed the Swinging Leaves from her shelter and demanded that they never return. To withhold such information, the girl child exploded, means the Swinging Leaves were then cursed. Patient, the Swinging Leaves left the girl child, never to be seen again. As confusion and despair burdened So Jeong’s mind, the Four Cats of Wisdom remained close but did not dare to utter a word.

Then, one morning, the girl child decided that she would hear each traveler’s wish before giving them a strand of her hair. In confidence, the girl child exited her shelter to find herself in the presence of thousands of travelers who had all also made their own shelters in which they could live until the Girl Child with Locks of Gifts appeared again. At first, So Jeong was delighted to see all of the travelers who had traveled and waited for an unknowable amount of time. Soon, thereafter, however, So Jeong felt a deep pang of fear. One traveler spotted the girl child standing gently upon the glistening tuft upon which her bamboo shelter was built. Within an instant the traveler shouted out something in a tongue So Jeong did not understand.

All at once, every traveler ran toward the girl child and each plucked a single hair off her head until there were no hairs left. With the final plucked hair, So Jeong collapsed onto the ground where she lies to this day, buried now to be sure, under the heap of dust and debris that make their way each day over the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet to settle and rest.

 

An Alternate Ending for the Emotionally Weak

Then, one morning, the girl child came to a conclusion about what she shall do. Feeling courageous, the girl child carefully stepped out from her bamboo shelter and sneaked a look at her surroundings. Immediately, the girl child noticed that the entire top of the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet was covered in small shelters housing travelers from all over the world. Slowly, the girl child crept back into her shelter to determine the best way to introduce herself. A moment later, the girl child opted for an ascent to the top of her bamboo shelter. Thus, with the help of the Four Cats of Wisdom, the girl child arose to stand on the roof of her shelter.

Loudly, in all confidence, the girl child made her presence known and greeted all of the travelers with a lovely gesture. The girl child immediately enchanted the eyes and minds of every traveler, and they all listened to their Giver of Gifts with great intent. Over the course of a short while, the girl child explained how she would indeed invite each traveler to approach her atop her shelter and listen to the motivation behind each traveler’s travels. Only after listening to a request will the girl child determine whether or not the traveler deserves a strand of her hair.

Thus, each traveler approached the girl child atop her shelter and began to explain why the rough journey was made. The girl child would listen to the traveler’s entire story, and at the end, the girl child would then ask the traveler three questions regarding their story. If the girl child found the answers to be satisfactory, the girl child would then offer three pieces of insight. The first would always have something to do with the meaningfulness (or lack thereof) of the traveler’s request. The second dealt with the scope, reach, depth and breadth of the traveler’s request. The third pointed at the self-awareness the traveler lacked. If, at this point, the traveler still stood before the girl child, the girl child would then offer her instructions. The traveler would then be sent away to fulfill the directions given by the girl child. If, however, the girl child found the answers to the questions the girl child asked each traveler after the traveler explained the journey, the girl child would simply send the traveler away, never to return. Cursed, once the traveler descended the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet, the traveler would soon forget that the girl child with locks of gifts even existed. Thus, the traveler never sought the girl child’s gifted hair ever again, not to say that the children of that traveler would also never know, but the traveler would not remember to tell them. What happened after the girl child sat and listened to traveler after traveler, day after day, age after age stunned the Swinging Leaves. Even the Four Cats of Wisdom could not have predicted what would follow. As the girl child sent each traveler away either with instruction or cursed to forget, those who were sent with instruction never returned to collect a strand of hair, either. Instead, each traveler was so grateful to have sat in the presence of the girl child that with great focus and concentration the traveler acted upon the instructions given. With great pride, the traveler soon found that his/her own action manifested the original request. Thus, the traveler no longer needed the strand of gifted hair to fulfill the request for which the traveler initially traveled.

Still, nevertheless, as the Four Cats of Wisdom peacefully paced around the girl child, travelers from all over the realm traveled day after day, age after age, to present their request for a strand of gifted hair while the girl child sat and listened day after day, age after age. As the girl child sent each traveler away with instruction, none ever returned to collect her hair. Needless to say, after ages of wisdom had been distributed throughout the realm, upon a purple, silk pillow, atop a bamboo shelter that was built upon a tuft upon the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet, the girl child sat with the longest, shiniest, strongest, black, most beautifully gifted hair the world had ever known.

Building Wealth

Building Wealth

I don’t want to live in a house. I want to rent an awesome apartment with amenities aplenty. But even apartment renting requires applications and approvals and basically the same sorts of hoops a home mortgage requires. My point remains—Being judged on one or more points of criteria by someone who is also being judged on one or more (probably unrelated) points of criteria by someone who is also being judged on one or more (probably unrelated still) points of criteria by someone who, etc., etc., &c., is the very special misery of living in today’s world.

When you apply for something (anything), you are being judged by people. Every single person is being judged by someone for something. How can proper judgments be made in this sort of system? Well, by heavily relying upon algorithms, and the thing that algorithms need is data … raw data … the stuff (supposedly) that we cannot control, manipulate or lie about. But what happens when we live inside the system that creates the systems that determine whether or not our data is “real” or real or “fake” or fake.

There is no such thing as an unbiased report on the self.

We’re all forced to make judgments, sometimes, about those who are making judgments about us. It’s insane. It might literally be insanity, the opposite of sanity. So, as I apply to rent apartments, I am being judged on any available data related to my financial and criminal standing. Some sort of artificial intelligence routinely scans my credentials and provided identification, and I’m essentially “run through the system,” but that “system” has been created by other systems and exists within a system of created systems. So, at what point do the systems no longer exist; at what point are we freed from the judgments of those who are also being judged? Who (or what) is the judgement-less judge?

My livelihood depends very muchly upon data points that are mostly beyond my control. And every point on my data-point identity depends heavily upon the existence of all of the other data points. A change in one of my data sets changes the entire shape of my data-point identity—I no longer am or I now officially am qualified.

The depressing point of this is that a lot (and I mean unknowable amounts of a lot or just a little bit of stupid) has to go wrong for an upper-middle to middle class white family to no longer be middle class. There are systems in place to catch them from falling too far. The flip side of that coin is that if one is in poverty, rising into the middle class is nearly impossible in These (current) United States.

And so, if I’m being really honest with myself, if I’m being really honest with the reality of my situation, I am not upset that this application process is annoying; I’m upset because I am just now realizing how difficult a life in poverty must be in America. And yea, it’s sad and pathetic that my mind is just now able to come to terms with the reality of the situation and that my “problems” are not problems because my family is comfortably middle class. My family (in its entirety) can financially prop me up until I “make it.” This is not the situation for most people. Of course, we are not rich or wealthy in American terms, but we are, nevertheless, very well off. It’s that generational wealth, that disposable income that can be spent on the entire family, not just your immediate family.

And I am not unique among my friends, which means that I’ve been living in a soft, cushy little bubble of things seemingly being able to happen for me, luck finding me, opportunity coming my way. We (my friends and I) were always primed and ready for luck and/or opportunity to strike. If something (anything) came up, we could all participate. I wanted for nothing (and I wasn’t [my parents swear to this to this day, but I do not believe them] even spoiled).

I do not know the reason behind my desire to write about this particular thing today, but I do know that whatever issues I am facing with my housing situation pales in comparison to the struggle that is life without any family money. And I want to change this; I have plans to change this. I’ve created and designed a wealth-distribution machine that will hopefully create opportunity for those who struggle the most. My job, now, is to build it.