Anywhere

I slurp the icy Pina Colada through the straw and stringy bits become threaded between my teeth. Just then, I watch him swagger by SHIRTLESS. Every muscle in his shoulders and arms ripples as he strides by with confidence in every step. Mouth gaping, I stare at his tanned, chiseled abs.

Damn. I knew I should have gone with a one piece. I am an aquatic mammal nicknamed Ms. Beluga minus the perpetual toothy smile stretched out here on the Hawaiian beach.

Please don’t notice me. Please don’t notice me. Oh no, he’s noticed me. But I’m certain not in a good way.

Or, maybe he has?

“Hi,” he says, “are you using the copier?”

“What?” I stammer spinning around wildly to face the voice behind me.  Embarrassingly, I now know that my printing job may have finished some time ago and I’ve been busted staring blankly at the copier.

“Yes! But all done now!” I blurt out triumphantly and with a glowing smile. It’s my best effort to convince Mr. Davidson that I was NOT daydreaming.

Quickly, I reach for my papers and then with a swoosh, watch helplessly as they sail down fanning out across the worn blue carpeted floor.  “Damn,” I unconsciously mutter as my face burns from so many corporate blunders.

Mr. Davidson is one of the nicest people in our office but has no resemblance to the man I imagined on the beach: red-rimmed glasses, long wavy dark hair that’s peppered with grey, and his beard looks like it longs to be trimmed. On this particular day, Mr. Davidson is wearing a plaid shirt with green pants. Nice man that he is, he helps me gather my pages while chatting with me about a new restaurant that just opened.

I want to disappear. There must be a way to assemble these pages to form a boat so that I can sail away to Hawaii. RIGHT NOW.  Of course, my lack of an engineering degree may prove problematic in the construction. Then there’s the other issue that the paper is much too thin. I’m certain I would sink.

TRAPPED.

***

Parachute strapped on my shoulders, goggles on my eyes, cold wind pushes me backwards onto the plane. I vaguely remember some instructions about pulling some chord but can’t recall the specifics. Right now, I am too busy holding onto the edge of the plane and screaming to no one in particular, “For heaven’s sake’s! I can do this!”

Suddenly, some random clip I saw years ago floods my little brain: I’m remembering back to an incident involving an eighty-year-old woman who attempted a tandem jump and slipped out of the parachute.  Thank goodness it didn’t end badly for her but…

“Sarah, have you submitted your report?” my manager, Esmeralda, asks.  (I’m really not kidding. That’s her name.) Her voice snaps me back to my current location: and that current spot is my stagnant, dry-aired workstation with the black blinking cursor that signals the report is still a work in progress. With two lines written, it’s a barely-there report.

How does she do that? Every time I’m drifting off into fantasy land she comes in and literally “pops” my thought bubble. No fun permitted at work, should be Esmeralda’s work motto.  I could make her a bumper sticker. I’m sure she has a webcam on me. 

“Not yet,” I hesitate and continue, “but it will be ready in the next ten minutes,” I say in my most authoritative, in-control voice, and with my broadest smile. She frowns at me and she instantaneously looks ninety-nine years old as wrinkles crack throughout her face before she saunters out the same way she came in without a further word.

Clearly, she’s impressed with me.

“Yes, why don’t people start early with their bucket lists,” I grumble as I stare at the flashing cursor. I breathe out hard and then try to inhale refreshing air. But it can’t be found here. I sigh. Then I punch at the keys in front of me in an effort to write my delinquent report.

***

It’s late July and I am in Churchill, Manitoba. The temperature is around 18 degrees Celsius and it feels more like a warm spring day than the middle of summer. I am prepping my kayak! I am so excited! FINALLY! I will be kayaking with beluga whales! They are nicknamed “sea canaries” because of the constant whistling, chirping, and clicking sounds that they are famous for making. There are tens of thousands of them out there as they come up to feed, give birth, and take care of their young in the Churchill River. Or so, the “Town of Churchill” website said. It will be a beluga sing-along party.

Belugas have mushroom white faces that are long and yet, round at the same time. Also, they ALWAYS look like they’re smiling. They have the smallest teeth on any whale I’ve ever seen. I ADORE THEM. It seems impossible that they could bite you. Even if they did – their teeth are so small it would probably be like a puppy biting you. Now that I think about it a bit more, sometimes when puppies bite it hurts. They have razer-sharp teeth.

Never mind. Belugas can’t hurt anyone! JUST LOOK AT THEM!

With that, I step my right foot into the kayak and it lists heavily to the right side. I try to step in again but the whole kayak shifts under my weight. I step back. This kayak seems a little tipsy and I’ve never been kayaking before. I have gone snorkeling…

Let’s change that.  I’m standing in front of a mirror in a black, ultra-tight dry suit that I can barely breathe in; but it’s worth it to go snorkeling with the sea canaries. Advantage: it’s much more intimate. Why wouldn’t I get as close to the belugas as possible? I’ll never get this chance again.

Another benefit of snorkeling: I have full coverage on my body. While I can’t breathe, the suit does hold in all my jelly rolls. The best part – NO UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT INVOLVING A BIKINI! My mind drifts a bit and I start to wonder, can belugas accidentally bump you and kill you?

“Sarah, are you ready for lunch?” My best friend Rachel swings her head over my work station startling me. She stares at me inquisitively with her famous Han Solo lop-sided smile as she asks, “Daydreaming again, my friend?”

“Yes,” I mope.

“Where do you want to go today?” I ask her reluctantly.

“Same place as usual?”

“Of course,” I flatly respond.

***

Damp moisture invades my body and sends a small chill down my spine. The wind blows against my face sweeping my hair off my shoulders and it dances on the wind. Large soft snow flakes fall on me and this beautiful city. I am standing at the top of the Empire State building in New York City just before 1 am. With the snow it works in unison with the events that I experienced today to signal the start of the Christmas season.

I look across the city with lights that seem to wink in acknowledgement of me, the first-time traveller. It has been a perfect day: prime viewing of the Macy’s Christmas parade, Ellen’s Stardust Diner for turkey dinner, AND THE WAIT STAFF SANG TO US! I watch the new fallen snow blanket the city coating the buildings with what look like marshmallows, brightening a little more, this already bright city.

“Sarah,” Rachel turns and looks at me. She continues saying, “They’ll be closing the building soon. We need to go.”

“Alright,” I say dreamily.

Rachel stares at me for a long moment, tilting her head, and then she turns to face the New York skyline too. Finally, she turns again to me and says, “Any thoughts on where we should go for breakfast? I’m hungry!”

Still staring out at the view in front of me, I whisper, “Anywhere.”

 

Mind Maze

“It’s not you.” He announces with the sound of annoyance in his voice mixed in with concern for my well-being.

I don’t say anything. I’m pretending I can’t hear him. The hairdryer buzzes in my ear with a high-pitched rumbling sound as heat burns my scalp. The hot air tosses long strands of brown bits in all directions.

When I’m done, I stare at myself in the mirror. My hair is windswept. Of course, windswept summons a romanticized vision of some breathtaking brunette beauty with silky hair. The beauty’s strands of tresses would be swirling around in all directions as if some fairy godmother placed each piece perfectly in the air; it would be the godmother’s final attempt to win over a passerby who may be doubtful of how utterly gorgeous the woman is.

I glance at myself through the mirror. Perhaps hurricane-swept hair is a better combination of words.  Frizzy, dry, and poufy hair tops my head. It stands tall, but also wide, making it nearly impossible to see my ears. I attempt to push some hair back behind my right ear and the rebellious brown strands instantly bounce out as if they are shouting, YOU WILL NOT CONTROL ME!

No kidding.

I huff at myself. Dark circles form underneath my eyes. It’s quite nice. Now I look like a raccoon that’s having a bad hair day.

I mumble, “I miss the days when I could wash my hair and go. No blow drying. No straightening required.  Just wash my hair, tie back with an elastic, and go!”

“Then don’t do it.” He says.

My eyebrows pull together in confusion.

Well – maybe it’s more annoyance.

I don’t want to go down that road – that road we’ve travelled down on so many mornings. Then again, I need to provide some explanation. Otherwise, I’m just a crazy woman with a scent-phobia.

I stumble on my words. As I begin to say them, I know it’s not going to be enough. But I say the words anyways. “I have to blow dry my hair. It gets the smell of shampoo and conditioner out.”

My eyes shift to the large assortment of products that stand at attention on my counter: the Aloe Vera moisturizer is next to the unscented moisturizer; strawberry perfumed deodorant sits beside the odorless one.  I stare down at the Moroccan oil that I slather through my hair on weekends. The hair product makes my locks a little softer, and smooths out the overwhelming waves that I adorn on my head that’s reminiscent of a 1960 bouffant hairstyle that I wear Monday through Friday.

But the Moroccan oil – it’s scented. So, it rests on the counter. Waiting for the weekend, when I can tip the bottle back, drizzle some on my fingertips, and run it through my hair.

Ahhhh….My brain purrs.

Oh my god. I’m a scent addict!   

My husband rolls his eyes at me and says, “There’s no smell of shampoo in your hair.”

Stubbornly, I counter his argument with an intelligent and well thought through statement of: “Yes, there is.” With my well-articulated response that a five-year-old could have said behind me, I reach below my cabinet and pull out my hair straightener, and set it to 440.

He edges over to me and sticks his nose towards my head and announces, “I can’t smell anything.”

I shift. Then I say, “Well, the hair dryer got rid of most of the scent. But the Flat Iron will get the rest out.”

My husband throws his hands up in the air, grabs his shirt, and begins tugging it over his head.

I do believe I won that argument.

Beep, beep, my Flat Iron chants to me. On its command, I reach down with my right hand and wrap my fingers around the hairstyling instrument, and use my left hand to grab big chunks of hair that I quickly run through the plates of the device. Within seconds, my nose twitches at the familiar whiff of singed hair.

Tired of the routine, tired of worrying about everything, I stare down at the woman I see in the mirror. I wish I could shut up the voice in my head. And it’s just in my head. No one has ever said anything to me at work. But I exaggerate everything. One sneeze, over yonder, four floors down from where I sit, and perspiration will gather around the back of my neck instantly as my breathing becomes more shallow and I wonder, oh no…. Is someone having an allergic attack because of some scent I’m wearing?

I worry about smells: fruit scented deodorant, orange perfumed hand cream, or lavender-laced cosmetics.

But it’s not only scented products. Oh no, my mind has had some fun in taking things to a whole new level. Because once you’ve removed all scents from your life, you only have what’s left. And sometimes what remains is that “wet dog” smell because Fido wanted to be affectionate just before I left to go to work, and brushed up against me and it leaves a lingering reminder that yes, I do own a dog!; or a chemical smell will sometimes ooze from new clothes I purchased when they heat up because of the sun. Then there’s also the worry that my fragrance-free deodorant will fail at work, and then my perfume for the day will be Eau de B.O.

I blink at myself.

Hair is slightly flattened. (Still frizzy, but I found my ears!) No makeup. (Oh lord, I can’t even think about it.) Black pants. Grey shirt. Blue circles under my eyes.

I’m ready for work!

I stare down at the Flat Iron. I flip the power button off, and yank the cord out of the wall. Before I walk away, I bounce my head back into the bathroom where my Flat Iron sits on the counter. I pull it away from everything so that it’s not touching my makeup bag, hairbrush…well, anything.

Because you know, I don’t want to burn the house down.

As I start to walk away, there’s a twitching that begins in my fingertips, and before I know it, I’m spinning around again to check the Flat Iron one more time.

I don’t have a problem.

I’m being careful. This is one of those times you can’t make a mistake. My Flat Iron can touch something like the plastic on my hairbrush causing it to heat up, and it could ignite, and because no one’s upstairs right now, no one will know there’s a fire until it’s too late, and our whole house will be engulfed in fiery red flames.

Yeah.

I’m just being careful.

My fingertips begin to twitch. I spin on my heel. I’m standing at the top of the stairs in my home. I have two choices:

 Option 1: I can go and check the Flat Iron again. But I’m certain I turned the power button off, I remember I pulled the cord out of the wall, and I know it had already started to cool down because I placed my hand on the straightener for several seconds and it was warm – but not hot.

Option 2: I can go downstairs, get my bags, walk out the front door, and get on with my day.

I take a deep breath, and turn around as a voice quietly says, Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…..

Then, I begin my descent.

Part II: Love is…

Love is when a foul egg scent emits from your body either in quiet stealth mode or explosively loud and this is typically followed by either people denying there is anything wrong as they continue to make casual conversation; or if they are family or close friends, there will be an acknowledgement of what just happened with groans and snort-filled laughter.

But no one really cares, because we all do it, and you’re loved anyway.

Even if you do smell – just a little.

Love is…

Part I

Love is when you’ve been particularly neglectful in trimming your eyebrows and plucking them and the gap between the two eyebrows have unified and become one. Wayward hairs arch forward here and there, as if they are reaching to shake a passerby’s hand.

And somehow, your husband or wife, never seems to notice.

***

Love is when you get an unrelenting flu bug that knocks you flat into you bed and you stay there for hours without the ability to so much as raise your head. (In an annoying deal of a bad hand of the cards of fate, you got the one strain that was not contained in the flu shot you got months earlier.)

When the moment arises when you MUST use the washroom you push the pause button and hold it a little longer because it seems the effort will deplete what remains of your energy. Eventually though you rise, and stammer your way into the bathroom and do your business as quickly as possible as your bed is beckoning you to return to it.  In a swirling world of dizziness, you stumble back towards in the direction of your soft duvet, when your husband bursts into the room carrying in one hand a glass of water, and in the other one a bottle of Gatorade. You hear in rushed words that sound that they are said far away, even though he is close by, that he’s going out to get soup for you and crackers.

Back in your bed finally, he hands you the water and you take a few sips of it, and pops the Gatorade open as well. Once you’re safely snuggled in your bed, he rushes out of the room, turning the light off behind him with his cape flying behind him in his quest to locate soup and crackers.

You roll over on your side and mumble, my hero…

How To Rule the World

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Thin, brown hair tops his head. On Jacob’s face rests his black-rimmed glasses allowing him to read the gospel on a sunny, fall day on a brown bench overlooking water. With a book placed in his hands he reads the lines with the utmost concentration. There are truths written in the book and if he follows each step, HE WILL RULE THE WORLD!  

Father is disappointed in him, mother too. He is twenty-four years old and is a failure in most aspects of his life both professionally and personally. An unfinished degree; a degree that is a blatant reminder of its incompletion in the way he left when he woke one morning in his fourth year and decided not to write the scheduled exam that day. He opted instead to pack his knapsack with clothes, and booked a last minute ticket to one of the oldest cities in Europe: London.

The cost for the ticket and the first few months of expenses was paid through a part time job that he held while attending University. His parents funded his tuition and living expenses, and his part-time job was his “play” money. Turns out, he was good at penny-pinching and had socked away quite a bit in the “play fund.”

His parents didn’t seem to mind footing the bill for his education given that he ranked in the 95th percentile on the Law School Admissions Test, and had an overall GPA of 3.8. The combination of the impressive LSAT score and GPA meant he had his pick of law schools.

A genius, his mother beamed at him with pride.

He was the genius who carelessly walked away from it all.

A phone call this morning with Mom, she asked again, did you plan to leave all along? To just quit?

The answer comes swiftly to him as she’s asked the same question so many times: No, I didn’t. I just didn’t know if I wanted to become a lawyer anymore. Or, if I ever did. He says as his voice trails off in remorse.

It occurs to him suddenly, she might not have known that last part. He never mentioned it before.

It’s what you always talked about Jacob! We just supported you in what we thought you wanted to do! She says in a shrill voice with exasperation.

Mom’s working day would have just ended. She works as an Executive Assistant at the General Hospital. He can see her standing in the kitchen as he remembers her when he lived at home. She would be wearing high heels, a skirt, and a blouse as she clutches her cell phone to her ear with arms folded in front of her, defensively. The blazer she wore to work would be flung aside on a nearby couch. The knife she used to dice vegetables until Jacob called, lies on the cutting board. It sits there ready for her to resume the preparation of dinner once their call is over. She loved onion and garlic and threw it in most foods and for that reason, the combination of the aroma of these two vegetables would linger in the air of his childhood home.

I know. I know… He says in short spurts with an edge of frustration.

The late autumn sun is cool and with the breeze, it gives him a chill as he wonders: why did I want to become a lawyer?

Mom is right. He was the first one who talked about law school.

Why?

He knows the answer, but is too embarrassed to admit it.

He knew it would make his parents happy. And he always tried to make them happy. But after he left, he wanted to do things differently.

And he did. 

London. Five feet six inches, short, blonde, bob haircut, blue-eyed Elsie breathed into his ear the first night he arrived in the city as he stumbled his way into Adventure Bar.

Elsie.

Sure, he had been with other women. There was Victoria, his long-time girlfriend during University. He saw Victoria in first year astronomy class. Vibrant red hair, freckles dotted her nose, green eyes, and a voluptuous figure. Their first time in his dorm room he remembers well; he grabbed her breasts as his lips opened and his tongue searched for hers.  Initially, he couldn’t get enough of her; legs tightened around him encouraging him to finish. The warmth of Victoria’s breath on him as moans escaped over his lips, drenched in sweat, and he was left satisfied.

But she was less satisfied, and he knew it. In their second year they began arguing over little things: movies, dinner locations, and how often they should get together.  As Victoria became unhappy, she piled on some weight. Her curvy figure became a little heavier as his wandering eye watched other women, comparing.

And he told her. Was it a jerk move? Of course it was. Eventually, sex diminished and was assigned to the Saturday night chore list:

  • Do laundry.
  • Have sex.

In their fourth year, Victoria dropped twenty pounds. While his eyes continued to drift and he flirted with other women, she found a new guy. The guy was his best friend, Gavin. Embarrassingly, as he danced and mingled with other women at Dance Bar 21, Gavin and Victoria snuggled close together in a corner booth one night. He watched them as they talked and laughed into the early morning hours.

He noticed it, but he thought she would never leave him.

He was wrong.

The ultimate comeuppance came on Valentine’s Day – when she sobbed and said: we’re not right for each other. At the time, he didn’t understand why she was crying. She was ending it, not him. The answer so elusive before is clear to him now. It was despite all of his neglect and unkind words, she loved him.

Yes, she was better than him. Happily married for a year now, Gavin told him they are expecting their first child. He’s still friends with them.

Shortly after Elsie and Jacob meet they take the adventure back to his hotel room. What a night it was. Elsie’s soft, red lips on his mouth as she worked her way down his neck; moving down lower still to his chest, abdomen, thighs.  Lips that moved lower still. Elsie was his first one night stand.

What an adventure it was.

Jacob snaps himself back to reality. A small half-smile crosses his lips, eyebrows raised, and he realizes that the solution to, How to Rule the World, is not to spend your days fantasizing about women you’ve been with, or women you may want to be with.  Sex, is the downfall to ruling the world.

As he cracks the spine and turns the page he reads these words….

***

Introduction

If you purchased this book you are on a wayward spiral to nowhere. I am here to help.  Owning the world will take some time.  But if you read each chapter and follow each step, world dominance will be yours.

First off, let’s debunk some myths. There are at least a half dozen websites and books that will offer self-help advice. They would advise you to do some, if not all, of the following:

  • Do something you love because money will follow. (Who hasn’t heard that one? )
  • Be hard working.
  • Be Diligent.
  • Be a Leader.
  • Be Action-Oriented.
  • Be POSITIVE. NOT NEGATIVE.
  • Be Honest.
  • Be Modest.

The list goes on and on. But, you get the idea. Ultimately, if you are an all-around good person then, good things will follow.

I am here to tell you – its rubbish. Don’t believe a word of it.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to make YOU the top priority. This will sometimes be to the detriment of family and friends. But, those people are a means to an end. USE THEM.  When they stop being useful it’s time to find new family and friends.

And never, EVER, should you give too much time, money, and commitment to anyone as this will slow you down in your quest to rule the world. It’s a cold world out there baby, and you’re the only one who will take care of you.  Family and friends will be the debris left on the path to ruling the world. Debris is a natural by-product of such a large quest.

Now, I want to provide the following outline of topics to be covered in each chapter. This will give you an understanding of how this book is organized. Please feel free to grab a pen and make notes in the margins. Or, you could buy some of that 3-hole lined paper that we used in high school. Then, you can put all your hand written notes in a binder, flagging the ones that are the most important to you.

I think I just dated myself. Or, you can use one of those fancy laptop, iPad, iPod, tablet thingy’s to take notes. Whatever, you want.

Ok, here is what will be covered:

  • The Art of Manipulation
  • YOU FIRST. Then, use, use, use them….
  • How to be a Successful Arrogant Man/Woman (This is a gender-neutral book.)
  • Buffering Yourself Against the Fall-Out (Should one eventually occur)
  • Disclaimer

Ok, so you now have the general outline of the topics covered in each section. There is one last point I want to make before we get started. I would ask that you NOT apply any of the principles to your life until you’ve read the COMPLETE book. That is – READ THE COMPLETE BOOK. You will not be successful in ruling the world until you’ve read everything from start to finish.

Did Gru from Despicable Me start off with only a half a plan to steal the moon? No, I didn’t think so.

Oh wait. That’s the movie where Gru ends up taking care of those three little girls and becomes a father, right?

He’s a bad example.

Darth Vader. YES! He’s a good example! He built the Death Star!

No, wait…he’s the dark, robotic guy that pretends to be all evil until the end of the trilogy and then he becomes a big mushy pushover.

Don’t use him either.

The Emperor in Star Wars. There’s a guy who built a plan and implemented it completely! Sort of. It didn’t end well for him. But then, he didn’t have this book. So, PLEASE READ THE COMPLETE BOOK.

And, we’re off…..

Chapter 1 – The Art Of Manipulation

Manipulation should be taught to all children at an early age. (Parents, are you listening?) You can be the parents of the Supreme Ruler of the World. But, you’re responsible for coaching them on the best methods to manipulate. It is a necessary skill that can be taught to toddlers, used by your child throughout their school years, when they are teenagers, and finally as full-fledged serpentine adults. Parents, this will truly benefit you in the long run.

Ok, so how do you manipulate people? Here’s an example. Kids, listen up.  (Parents – now would be a good time to whip up breakfast, lunch, or dinner for your mini Dr. Evil child. A.K.A. I NEED YOU TO STOP READING HERE. THANKS.)

Kids, here we go. If your parents demand that you clean your room and you are blessed with a little brother or sister, you can take full advantage of your over-eager younger sibling who idolizes YOU for no other reason except YOU were born first. (Sorry, second, third, fourth child etc. – life has dealt you crappy cards in your attempt to rule the world. You were born later. It’s tough out there. I can’t help everyone. You’ll have to figure out how to manipulate your older sibling(s) on your own.)

Anyways, to YOU the first born, here are a few ideas:

  • Tell little Timmy or Suzie that you are going to study group to work on a school project that is due tomorrow. Throw your hands up in the air, stomp your feet and say, Mom and Dad are being COMPLETELY unreasonable on insisting that I clean my room first before I leave! It’s a project! It’s not like I’m going to a movie! I’m going to fail! (It doesn’t matter that you’re in kindergarten and you don’t know what a study group is. If you don’t know, pipsqueak doesn’t know either.)

When little Timmy/Suzie offers to clean your room – go to that movie instead. You receive extra points if you conveniently leave your allowance money behind thereby, the chump parents of your friends have to pay your way. Everyone else wants to see the movie too. What are the parents going to do? Not take you? You’re only a kid! It’s not your fault Mom didn’t give you money. Someone else will pay. I promise. (Did you see that? That was 2 manipulations for the price of one.)

  • Oh god, my stomach! My tooth! I am so sick and Mom and Dad STILL want me to clean my room! Who makes a sick kid clean their room? 

Here are a few other ideas for illnesses that you can tell little Timmy or Suzie:

  1. I’ve had diarrhea for three hours. (Trust me on this – no one’s going to check.)
  2. I’ve had a headache since last Tuesday. (There’s no verifiable way to validate this statement.)
  3. I stubbed my toe.
  4. I have a hang nail.
  5. Just pick something already!

Add tears, people are suckers! Then, you are permitted to sprawl out on the couch, order some delicious buttery and salty popcorn, and secretly begin hatching your next diabolical plan.

Now, some people would suggest that you just beat up Timmy or Suzie to make them clean your room. But, alas, that is truly diabolical. You don’t want to be a thug. And here’s why. Being a thug requires work. You will expend great energy in physically throwing punches, keeping someone in a headlock and then subsequently, plotting how NOT to get caught by your parents/teachers/police officers.

Being a thug is a huge waste of energy and time. Besides, with a little brother or sister, if you start early you will be able to manipulate them for life. As well, being a brute is not a transferable skill in the workplace. It will get you fired, arrested, or both.

Never underestimate the importance of brain power versus physical power.  Your brain will help you think of new and interesting ways to manipulate people. I believe that potential candidates in job interviews should be tested on the ability to manipulate other people as I’m certain it will do wonders for a company’s profits. A company made up of people who are the Jedi Masters of Manipulation are guaranteed to increase profits for the business.

I can see it now. A customer says, “I can’t believe you ran out of cream! What kind of an incompetent run coffee shop runs out of cream?”

The Cashier says, “Oh, are you certain that’s what’s really bothering you? It sounds pretty ridiculous to be so angry because we ran out of cream five days ago, and we still don’t have any?”

Customer: “Well, I did find out that I have to spend $2,000 to fix my fence because the 110 kilometer winds we had last weekend ripped a section of it apart.”

Cashier: “That’s terrible! You poor man! (Or, you poor woman!) But, we just serve coffee and donuts. Maybe you want a donut to go along with your coffee to cheer you up?”

Customer: “Actually, a donut would be nice.”

Cashier: “Ok. Let me add that to your order. That will be $8.”

Customer: “But, what about the fact that you haven’t had any cream for five days?”

Cashier: “We have milk. You can put that in your coffee. And with the donut now, it’s loaded with fat. You can’t afford to put cream in your coffee and have a donut today, or for the rest of the month. You’re in really good shape, and I wouldn’t want to ruin that.”

Cashier is assigned double points as the man no longer cares that he doesn’t have cream for his coffee, she sold him a donut, and he now believes he’s got the same body as Superman. (Or ladies, Superwoman! Or, Wonder Woman! Now that I think about it, some women might want to have the same body as Superman. Whoever’s body you admire most is the one you have. You have a phenomenal SUPER HERO body. Go Girl!)

My body is more in keeping with Baymax myself; and I like it that way. But, I digress….

Now, if manipulation is done well and over many years, you have a very good chance of controlling other people. How? Because, if you are VERY GOOD at manipulation, people will never know that they were/are manipulated. They will constantly be doing things for you and will not have a clue as to the reason why.

When you start manipulating people early in life it means patterns are established in terms of how one person interacts with another person. (You can probably also call this behaviour).   If someone starts by being your sucker (oops, I mean helpful sibling!) it will be very difficult for them to break the learned pattern unless they have a lot of money and can afford counselling to realize:

1) They have been manipulated in the past.

2) They are able to identify new situations where you are manipulating them.

3) They are able to stop themselves from being manipulated again by you.

By then, they will have paid more money on counselling than it would have cost if they just let you use them. At the very least, isn’t it better that a family member benefits in taking a younger sibling’s money and time, versus that of an outsider, such as a counsellor?

Yes, I thought so too.

(PARENTS – SKIP THIS PART TOO!)

Now, manipulation and owning people – how does that help you rule the world? This is easy. Even if someone is considered above you such as a grandmother, father, mother, aunt or uncle you can still own them.  Here’s an example. If your father says you can’t go to the University of Windsor because you live in Ottawa and it has two completely acceptable Universities and living away will be too expensive, than counter his arguments. Provide him with real examples as to why the University of Windsor is the best University, like, EVER!!!

If you have no real reasons as to why the University of Windsor is superior to all other Universities, make shit up. Convincingly. Puff your chest out and flap your arms around for emphasis.

You can say, But Dad! Windsor has the best English Program! Did you know that Jane Austen went to Windsor University? Manipulation comes into play because he will want the best for his kid.   As well, if you lied to him before and never got caught, he will fall for the new lie too.   Guaranteed.  As well, once you are there, even if University is too expensive Dad will be on the hook. He would never drag you away from your education.

Your Dad won’t have a clue that Jane Austen wasn’t Canadian, continues to be a well-known British author who wrote Sense and Sensibility and Emma (to name just a couple of her books)  and sadly, died almost two hundred years ago.

It will work. Trust me.

Manipulation and lying are synonymous together. It’s like the Easter Bunny and chocolate. Santa Clause and presents. Bacon and eggs. You get my point.

Thanks for reading this chapter.

P.S. I know the real reason you want to go to Windsor is because you don’t want Mom and Dad to “pop in” for an unexpected visit and catch you blowing your tuition and rent money on alcohol-loaded-all-night-parties.

How do I know this?

Because.

I wrote the book.

***

Jacob thinks about his own life.

He wishes he told his parents that he had doubts about Law School. The doubts began in his third year when he felt an overwhelming sense of trepidation about pursuing a career as a lawyer after speaking with friends who were articling at law firms.

Stories told from his friends painted a dismal picture of what his future life would be like: long hours at work that would leave him with little time for family and friends. Divorce amongst the lawyers in the firms was rampant.

Then, there were the ethical dilemmas in law that would appear no matter what area of law he chose to practice in. Sure, lots of money and prestige came along with being labelled a “lawyer”, but he didn’t really care about the title.

All in all, he didn’t want that life. He wanted an easier life. A more adventurous life. Or, a creative life. As it turned out, he wanted any other life: except to be a lawyer.

But, he couldn’t watch the crushing disappointment in his parent’s faces when he told them he didn’t want to do it anymore. They were so proud as they bubbled with joy and announced to everyone that would hear it, how brilliant their son was, and how he was well on the road to becoming a successful lawyer.

It was a weasel-way; to cut and run with no explanation. Jacob only called his parents to tell them he had skipped his exams and was in London, when his plane landed on the tarmac. Safely on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, his parents could do nothing else but hiss at him through the phone.

Then, there was Victoria. In the summer between second and third year he should have ended it.  He became less attentive, more argumentative, and knew they were drifting apart. He used her so he didn’t have to be alone, for sex, and his fear of ending their relationship.

Gavin is so much better to Victoria: stroking her hair without even thinking about it, wrapping his arms around her waist, and he constantly snuggles close to her whenever he can. But, more importantly, he always looks at her as if he is in awe; still, two years later. They taught him what love should look like.

Is he sorry? Sorry that he wasn’t brave enough to tell people the truth and deal with the aftermath of being honest. Instead, he slinked away as a snake hidden in long grass after devouring its prey. But as he sits on the bench overlooking the River Thames two years later, he’s only sorry about how he did things – not that he did them.

Jacob’s life is this impossible, reckless mess. But one day at a time, one step at a time, with the odd step backwards for self-reflection allows him to improve, change, and hopefully – become a better person.

CHAPTER 2

YOU FIRST Then, use, use, use them

The Jolly To Do List

Mother Nature has missed my city with the deluge of white fluffy stuff that would put me in my ugly-Christmas-sweater-wearing-shopping-frenzy-spirit. For this reason, I am ridiculously behind in my Christmas tasks.

Therefore, on the eve of December 1st, I’ve decided to form a plan by making a list of things to accomplish over the next month. As a person who typically schedules too much, I hope I’ll be able to meet these objectives.

  1. I will gain 5 pounds between December 1st to the 24th by gobbling up every icing-loaded snowman sugar cookie, cranberry bliss bar, gingerbread loaf, fruit cake (rum-infused or not) that my eyes even so much as glimpse. Hunger is irrelevant. After all, Christmas only comes once a year. I need to get my festive snacks while I can!
  2. Between December 25th through to the 31st the real challenge begins: I will gain an additional 5 pounds in one week by following the same pattern already outlined in #1, but add in drinking too much, indulging in WAY TOO MUCH creamy, butter-loaded potatoes; turkey, and forfeiting all scheduled workouts. (The gym is too crowded this time of year anyways.)
  3. I will exceed my Christmas budget by December 2nd and promptly throw my hands up and declare, “oopsy-daisy!” and continue to shop in haphazard way while declaring that the January Credit Card Gods will never catch up with me!
  4. I WILL NOT CREATE A CHRISTMAS BUDGET. As a matter of fact, I believe that Microsoft Excel will not allow me to name a file “Christmas Budget.” For this reason, I will never find the file again and it will be a waste of time. (TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! There’s so much to do!)
  5. I will definitely wait till the very last minute to purchase all my presents.  Nothing is more AMAZING then scrambling to the mall and circling the parking lot for 45 minutes in search of one spot. Then, once a parking spot is found, another person steals it! As well, a bonus to this is standing in long line-ups to make my purchase and as soon as I get to the cash my credit card gets declined. (Not because the January Credit Card Gods have already caught up with me. No, it’s because the system crashes because everyone else is making last minute purchases on December 24th as well. JOY!)
  6. I’ll wait to wrap all my presents on December 24th so that way I’ll be up till midnight. The next day I will be sleep-deprived and blurry-eyed when I face the task of stuffing the turkey. But don’t worry, with how little I slept the night before, one glass of wine will make everything alright.
  7. I’ll overcook the turkey.
  8. I’ll make sure none of the other food comes off at the same time. This will guarantee the potatoes are so cold I can make a fork stand up in them and whatever insignificant vegetables I cooked as a side dish, have already started to form a layer of butter grease from sitting in the bowl too long. Nothing is more delicious. Cold vegetables, with cold butter grease. YUMMY!
  9. Write a letter of apology to Saint Nick and tell him that I REALLY do love Christmas despite this blog post. Like everything else in my life, I’m just poorly organized.
  10. I’ll tell myself that next Christmas will be different.

****

BONUS TO DO ITEM

  1. Hope Santa forgives me when I forget to leave him cookies. Every year. I do it every year.