Follow The Leader


34c5ea8fbba16e34a743a4752436d5ec1ad6f8baIn the immortal words of Eric B. & Rakim in the song Follow the Leader, “I can get illin’ at normal killin’.” Hm, maybe that’s not the right song nor the right quote. I might be confusing it with Follow Me Not. Yes, it was Dream Warriors who wisely said, “Who is more fool, who is more fool; The fool or the fool who follows the fool?”

Basically, my philosophy is “neither a follower nor a leader be.” I have no idea who originally said that. I believe it might have been Yoda since the verb is hanging out at the wrong end of the sentence. Yoda liked talking that way. “Away put your weapon, neither a follower nor a leader be.” Sounds about right. Or I could have just made up that phrase, and in actuality, I’m confusing it with “neither a borrower nor a lender be.” from Hamlet… nah, that couldn’t be it.

From Eric B. to Yoda to Shakespeare in only two paragraphs. Anyway, I’m way off topic, which is “Do you prefer to lead or follow? Or linger in the middle and never fully commit to anything?” from The Daily Post.

I choose none of the above. I have recently come to understand that my leadership qualities are not what one would call good. I have been a graphic designer for many moons. I have been an art director for about six months now and I don’t really like it. I have a subordinate and I’m in charge. I don’t mind being in charge of the work; it’s being in charge of people that I don’t like, mostly because I don’t like people, which is part of the reason I became a graphic designer in the first place. I’m not a very good leader; I don’t like telling people what to do and being responsible for them. I would make an excellent leader if I had no subordinates, but I suppose that defeats the purpose.

I’m not a great leader, but I really don’t enjoy being told what to do. I’m not a good follower since most people who expect me to follow them aren’t worthy. If you really want my attention and trust, you have to prove yourself capable of leading. Just telling me “do it because I said so” is not good enough. After enough of that, I will rebel and not care. I might even mutiny.

I’m not a good leader nor am I a good follower, but I don’t laze about “in the middle and never fully commit to anything” either. If I find something worthwhile, I will fully commit. If a leader proves to me that they know what they are doing, I will follow. If the person in charge proves that they haven’t a clue, I will step up and lead. It all depends on the situation.

Realistically, I am best at being second in command. I would prefer someone else to take the spotlight and act as the figurehead. I am a better puppet master. I am not a leader nor a follower, but I can be both or neither. I am a puzzle wrapped in an enigma surrounded by mystery. So there.

The Stapler


1) Stand up 2) Turn to your right 3) Count objects you see, and stop at #3. 4) Write about whatever item #3 is.


#1 phone, #2 tape dispenser with no tape, #3 the stapler. The stapler is now returned to its rightful place beside the empty tape dispenser after being repeatedly stolen by a coworker. I’ve had to go track it down before. Why can’t we all have staplers? Then there would be no stapler stealing.

One would think, in this digital day and age, that the stapler would be as obsolete as the fax machine, but the company I work for has one of those, too. It’s right outside the door to my office. When someone decides to fax something to us, the fax phone rings so loudly that I can hear it in my office while wearing headphones. Fortunately, that’s fairly infrequent.

I digress. Let’s get back to the stapler. I actually use this stapler with regularity. I work as a graphic designer. Every time I work on a print job, a catalog for instance, I build a sample so you can tell which pages go where. Staple pages front to back and tape them together so that the person who approves it can see the full monty… page 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. Ever since the tape dispenser ran out of tape, the stapler has been doing double duty as binding for my make-believe booklets. It doesn’t work as well as tape, but I’ve asked for weeks for more tape and haven’t received any. We make do the best we can.

This stapler of mine is rather fancy as far as staplers go. In appearance, it looks like your standard stapler, but when you staple paper together, unlike old-fashioned staplers that you’d have to put on a table and bang with your fist, my fancy stapler takes hardly any effort at all to staple. It’s like it has hydraulics built into it. It’s a space age stapler. It’s so far advanced in the stapler technology that, the first time I had to refill it with staples, I couldn’t quite figure out how to do it. There’s a little schematic etched on it, but I’ve never been very good at following those. I’m a learn by doing kind of girl. I figured it out eventually. Fortunately, unlike the roll of tape I’m supposed to have, I actually do have replacement staples – a whole box of them. My stapler and I are good for a while.

Myself included, humans don’t generally give too much thought to a stapler. It’s just something that exists. It’s common enough and it’s been around long enough that we don’t generally think deeply on it, just like the zipper. However, someone had to invent it. Someone had to patent the zipper, the stapler and probably the staple. Someone probably made a good deal of money from those inventions. Or perhaps they were the types of inventions that don’t catch on right away. People scoffed at the concept. “Pish posh on these new-fangled office inventions! We get along just fine with our…” Hm, what precisely did they use before the stapler? A complicated origami system? Glue? Tape? Paper clips? Or did they just let pages freestyle in whatever order they so chose? Were paper clips and tape invented before or after the stapler? Was the stapler invented before or after the staple, or at the same time? Were there previous paper fastening inventions that weren’t quite as good, like the Hangler or the Flimster? Maybe there were twin brothers, the Staps – one invented the staple and one invented the stapler. Why does the word “staple” mean a basic, essential item and a bent piece of wire? Were the Stap Brothers so confident in their invention that they gave it that name out of hubris? Well, they were right. The stapler has become a staple.

These are all deep and meaningful questions with deep and meaningful answers somewhere. The internet, I’m sure, holds the key to to all of these queries and much more. Perhaps one day, I will be bored enough to look it up. That day is probably not today. Oh, no, not today… probably.

So, the next time you pick up a stapler, think of how lucky we are to live in a modern world where such mundane marvels exist. Give praise to the staple for it adds order to a chaotic world. It provides a sense of permanence; forever binding pages together (that is, until the staple remover comes along). Think of Eli and Jeremiah Stap and their great inventions, one which could not exist without the other: the staple and the stapler. Cheers.

And someone please get me some goddamn tape.

Mi Salvador


I was sitting on my bed reading a book – The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, which isn’t as good as Snow Crash, but it’s still an example of excellent modern fiction – when I saw something moving out of the corner of my eye.

My feline was curled up next to me, sleeping, as he normally does. Somehow, in an average day, he spends roughly 32 hours sleeping. I’m not quite sure how he does it, but since I’m unemployed, I have plenty of time to study him. I think he somehow manages to steal the time that I should be sleeping and add it to his own tally. I think my cat’s uncanny sleep-stealing ability is somehow related to my own insomnia, so I poke him every time I chance to see him sleeping too soundly out of sheer spite.

Anyway, to return to the story – pillows propped up behind me, cat sleeping at my side, book on my lap – I spied movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked directly to where the movement was and saw an enormous, brown spider, about the size of a quarter, or maybe just a nickel, making it’s way down the wall onto my bed. I proceeded to freak the fuck out like the sissy girl that I am, throwing books and pillows everywhere, but somehow, not managing to wake the cat.

I live in southern California. In southern California, we have two breeds of deadly spiders, the Brown Recluse and the Black Widow. I’ve seen the Black Widow all over my property. They are quite distinctive and hard to miss since they are all black with a bright red hourglass on their abdomen. Fortunately, they’re as scared of me as I am of them, so their first instinct is to run away, which is fine as long as they’re not in my house. Since they could actually kill me, if they’re in my house, they get squished… by my roommate, of course. I’m not a fan of squishing things.

In all the years I’ve lived in California, I haven’t actually seen a verified Brown Recluse. It could be because they’re reclusive; it is in their name after all, so it must be a primary trait. The only facts I know about them is that they are poisonous, brown and reclusive – my research is not very thorough or scientific, I know.  Given my extremely cursory knowledge of Loxosceles reclusa, whenever I see any brown spider, I automatically assume that it might be a Brown Recluse and act accordingly.

So, when I was sitting on my bed reading The Diamond Age and spied the great, brown, possibly reclusive spider, my first instinct, after freaking the fuck out like a big sissy girl while shrieking and throwing pillows, was to find a receptacle to remove said spider out of doors. Keeping one eye on the spider, and using the other to look about my room for a proper spider-removal receptacle and coming up empty, I ran out to the living room.

On the coffee table was a newly purchased stack of burnable CD’s. Perfect. I grabbed the lid off of the spindle and returned to my room where the cat was still soundly sleeping his stolen sleep, completely oblivious to the fact that there was a massive, brown, reclusive spider now on my bed. I put the spindle cover over the spider. He was trapped. The crisis was half-averted. Now, I needed something flat to cover the spindle lid while transporting the brown, reclusive spider out of doors, lest he should somehow sprout wings and attach himself to my face.


I grabbed a large, flat book containing the paintings of Salvador Dalí and carefully slid it under the CD spindle cover until the spider was crawling around atop Dalí’s collected works. I carefully carried Dalí’s spider outside where spiders belong. I walked to the far corner of my garden and released him back into the wild on top of a cluster of chives without installing a tracking device. Hopefully, spiders like chives. Salvador Dalí was aptly named since he did turn out to be a posthumous savior making it so that giant, brown spiders didn’t eat my face.

Here ends the tale of the giant, brown, somewhat reclusive spider found in my room. We all lived happily ever after, except maybe the spider. I’m not sure whether he lived happily or not, since upon releasing him into the wild, I ran promptly in the general direction of away and didn’t stop to verify his mood, but at least he didn’t die by my hand. The end.

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Road Trip!!

I’ve taken a lot of road trips over the course of my life. Some of them turned out to be disastrous, some were amazing, others were hardly noteworthy, but there’s one thing you of which can be assured with a road trip – at the very least, it will be interesting.

Road trips get you out of your routine. They pry you loose from your daily life to experience new things, new people and a tired butt. You have no choice but to try places you’ve never been. You are a pioneer, discovering the best places to run in just to pee and where not to eat. I adore road trips.

When I was a kid, my family had an RV in which we’d take off for weeks at a time. I’d been to every single state in the continental United States before I even hit double digits. I lost my favorite doll at one of the campsites and cried for days. I drove over mountain passes and vast plains. I still have some souvenirs from those childhood jaunts along with precious few memories.

Towards the end of my last year of high school, my two best friends and I ditched school, got in the car to go to my friend’s house and just kept going. Our impromptu road trip lasted for five days. We drove all the way up to Copper Harbor, the very northernmost tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, jutting out into Lake Superior. I had lived in Michigan my whole life and had never been the Upper Peninsula before. We came down around Lake Michigan through Wisconsin into Illinois and spent a few days in Chicago. It was our final fling as high school friends. After we graduated, we hardly saw each other again.

Once, I was driving through eastern Canada late at night. I turned to my friend and said, when are going to stop going uphill? He panicked and told me to pull over right then since that section of eastern Canada is as flat as a board. I had been driving so long that I thought we were scaling the imaginary hills of Canada. I spent the night sleeping in the car along the freeway, nestled between miles (or kilometers) of semi trucks who had the same idea. It’s a strange, but common practice there.

Another time near Toronto, I had to take a detour of many miles because the friend I was with was scared of going over open bridges. That was our last road trip together, not because I was annoyed by the bridge phobia, but because that friend, my oldest, died this year.

I called in sick to work and drove from Boston to Pennsylvania with my best friend to go to some crazy event in the woods of western Pennsylvania where we stayed drunk for days and lived in a tent. A few months later, we took another road trip from Boston to Los Angeles in my little car with a huge trailer loaded with all of our belongings where a new life awaited.

I flew from Los Angeles to Boston only to drive to Detroit, and eventually, to New York City touring with my boyfriend’s band. I spent the night in a love motel in Detroit with mirrors on the ceilings and shower nozzles at waist height. I had lived in Detroit most of my life and never knew such a place existed until I moved away. I watched as he ran laps around a public rest stop off of the highway in nowhere America because he had been in the car too long and was slaphappy. I fell in love with him as he scaled a rock at that rest area, raising his arms victoriously like Rocky and singing Eye of the Tiger badly at the top of his lungs, immune to the askance scowls of normal travelers. I peed in a cup (a difficult task for a girl) while stuck in Manhattan traffic. I watched the sun rise in Brooklyn. I drove by ground zero a week after September 11th happened.

Those are just a few of my many automotive adventures, but probably the best road trip I’ve ever taken was all by myself. I bought a brand new car, took a month off of work and just drove. Wherever I felt like going that day was where I went. I ate in a restaurant by myself for the first time. I saw sunrises and sunsets all over the country. I went everywhere from the Atlantic Ocean through the Blue Ridge Mountains over to the Mississippi River and down to the Gulf of Mexico. After three weeks on the road, I decided that I wanted to sleep in my own bed that night. I drove from Atlanta, Georgia to Detroit, Michigan without stopping. Less than ten hours later, I saw the sun come up over downtown Detroit as I pulled up in front of my building. I’ve never slept so well.

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