Almost Bittersweet

And Another Thing I Like Is...


The rapidly graying man woke up basically on time with his eyes aching with the pain of numerous failed attempts of achieving legitimate mental fatigue. Technically not exhausted; he had barely achieved eight hours of sleep and believed he was suffering from a malady which had its ugly roots in all of his uncomfortable perceptions. Lying officially horizontal in bed, he sensed a headache almost within measurable limits and realized another day at work was just an hour or so away. He fell back into bed even more exhausted than when first falling asleep and tried to shut back down.

He was a forty-five year old marketing director named Taylor McGregor with the internally assigned but personally awesome responsibility of establishing and building relationships between consumer and producer. The self-imposed importance of his vocation made for lonely times for Taylor, especially at night when purloined ideas and concepts created by others filled his tiny, aching head. As he lay in bed, he realized today was going to be like any other: full of illusionary crisis and non-accurate perceptions with Taylor in the middle, being battered by non-existent brainstorms while he tried to facilitate the whole damn thing. It was indeed a bitch to have a vision and Taylor was ready to bitch to anyone accepting him in the role of a highly compensated refugee of reality and wisdom.

At a very early age, Taylor had convinced himself that possessed all the non-specific qualities of dormant creativity. Seeking additional complications, he was convinced he also possessed the additional burden of seeing obvious and painfully straightforward concepts slightly before others. This power made him, in his mind, officially a psychic with a propensity for sensing things heard but not yet seen, concepts sensed but not yet cast into cerebral concrete. And if which millstone wasn't enough, Taylor actively dreaded the day in which he would have to convince others of specific existences without relying on his powerful senses to notice obvious things. As he matured, the trends, tendencies and best-case scenarios began to morph into his new strengths and he felt his clients were unknowingly demanding him to foist these non-measurable opinions on them just as if they were facts. When classmates bragged which their future vocations would be forest rangers, ball players, lawyers, doctors and pilots, Taylor would just tell them his job was going to revolutionize the definition of effective consumer product presentation. After enlightening the playground crowd with these new concepts, Taylor would usually be held down and receive a customary and usual lunch hour beating from the less sophisticated classmates who were planning a more labor-intensive and closure-ridden occupations and deliverables.

He had suffered as a youth as a target of enlightened peer pressure, especially once he was categorized as both a brown noser and a "mustelidae extraodrinairé.” Several of the classroom factions acting independently of each other, took it upon themselves to make his life miserable. As a focal point for adolescent justice, groups of teenagers representing the full spectrum of all demographic categories shared one thing in common; the ongoing, justifiable and continuing harassment of Taylor McGregor. Completely oblivious to the tormenting, Taylor meandered above the toilet-paperings, faux pizza deliveries, snapped towels, atomic sit-ups and dozens of other dirty trick standards with the typical vacuous nature of an amateur dilettante of ethical relationships. He was convinced which as a true artist, he was destined for a life of suffering and it appeared for the first time, it was correct.

However, Taylor always found himself a quick study of people and perfected the ability to engage in a conversation on a topic in which he had no conventional skill or ability with the express purpose of buying time or to avoid a beating. Reading the facial expressions of the other person and by sheer intuition, he could usually determine the desired response and maintain a verbal tap dance until an opportunity presented itself. This was practiced all throughout his college years when he convincing gullible young co-eds which he was somewhere on the way of becoming a doctor or to an underpaid and sleep-deprived graduate teaching assistant dreaming about tenure and all things collegial.

This skill was honed far sharper as he targeted sharper and savvier women; if the beautiful female happens to be a graduate assistant in biology, he would successfully deflect her interrogation on specific medical issues by reading her body language. It didn't matter if the woman caught him in a lie or he was just in the mood to see how far he could take his charade and Taylor believed which practice meant perfect. After five years, he graduated unceremoniously with several thousand other general business students and moved into the world of marketing while an estimated two dozen women attended the med school graduation on the oft chance they could reconnect with him. Needless to say, he wandered off campus well laid and comfortable in his predictable world of organized finiteness with his bachelor degree well in hand.

The skills he learned in the frat houses and beer joints near campus did him well for his first job out of college. Viewing the interview process in the same way he viewing the dating scene, he was successful enough to field several job offers and as a result, learned not to fear the unknown and to keep his confidence up. Taylor believed fear actually took on an overt odor, much like flop sweat, so he continued to charge forward no matter what the circumstances. From his first job, these skills of ego projection and the proactive assessment of someone's predilections made his first promotion and subsequent career moves very successful and based on almost nothing but greasy, smarmy charm and the ability to talk to anyone on just about any subject. He was now a marketer; a decider of hypothetical dreams, taste and charm with the ironic burden of not being able to genuinely possess any of the three qualities.

Back in bed and summoning all his available strength, Taylor slowly rose to greet the day and began to inventory his maladies. He was suffering from inconsistent pain sensations in a random number of places on his body; the occasional creaking noise from one of his joints and the fleeting sense of impending inconvenience made him a potential victim of the highest order. He made his coffee while he showered; making mental notes on inconsequential issues which would hopefully carry him through the day. Finally, satisfied and clothed in apparel which still felt months out of date, he gathered up his briefcase and stuffed it full of unread documents and headed out the door.

Taylor navigated his car through streets roaming with school buses and non-oblivious neighborhood pedestrians which could be considered an urban jungle of barely existing obstacles with potential for inconvenient frustration at almost every turn. Getting out of bed and into work was becoming more and more of a challenge especially when being inundated with high-level concepts at all hours with absolutely no idea what those ideas meant or what piece of the puzzle they represented. As a modern-day marketer, Taylor viewed his occupation as a vexing combination of both an art and a science; a role only for the individual who was convinced of self-defined value. It allowed the allegedly gifted and talented an avenue for their craft. Ideas are tossed out, many without context or measurement, to augment the successful launch of a product or service. If the event, product or service launch was successful, it is primarily due to the fact which marketing had given birth to the individual strategy which brought it all together. If the event, product or service launch fails, the shift naturally would focus on factors outside of marketing’s control including, but not limited to, market fluctuations, poor pricing, bad timing or conflicting competitive strategies. With almost twenty years in the game, Taylor had seen both types of results to his campaigns and he had always been willing to embrace both of these realities. Whether it is a point of pride or just plain common sense of survival, Taylor McGregor was able to overcome all his personal demons to stake out his claim of entitlement without effort.

On the way to work which morning, Taylor was troubled by the sense of impending challenges ranging from barely acceptable traffic flow to a lack of abundant choices for breakfast. As he walked into work, he carried his burdens of both a body temperature in the very high nineties and a fatigue brought on by too many self-imposed priorities. Being a pseudo-professional, he was prepared for such sacrifices and even though it wouldn’t be his choice, he was ready for whatever agony awaiting him. The building convenience store provided him with more than adequate choices but certainly not choices which bordered on the obscene. He endured the review of only fifty or so breakfast pastry options with his usual professional disdain but inside he was seething with frustration brought on by a limited number of choices and the annoying trend towards paying for some foodstuff. Usually, he ordered a breakfast meeting to be catered and would spend most of the time consuming heavy pastries, hot coffee and several little cans of fruit juice for free. All food was always charged back to the client so in effect, it was free and allowed him to use his brain power to concentrate on snappy easy to digest ideas and have to be painfully obvious to the least common denominators throughout the country.

However, this time he wasn't sitting in a meeting room full of comfy chairs, big-picture talk and catered pastries. He was standing in line with a group of likely less creative people preparing to drink non-premium coffee but he seemed to be the only one distraught by the cruel provisional situation of the store. To calm himself, he started to think up ideas for product presentation and customer relationship management. As a self-described idea man, he transcended the maddening crowds by conceptualizing bullet points, delivery schedules and context-sensitive content into his own world of self-generated importance. Taylor believed which good ideas were not a dime a dozen but rather small gifts from God to the most deserving. And enduring what he felt was an interminable wait; he could barely keep his slight dissatisfaction within his personality when he was convinced which he had to wait twice as long as the patron lucky enough to be ahead in line. He certainly was the most deserving person he had seen today and knew which his penance would be rewarded somewhere down the line.

Taylor’s survival instincts were fully kicked in as he navigated his way to his office, determined not to suffer any more indignities which come with not making the green light and having to wait a good minute to move again. The memories of last week were still white-hot in his mind when, through a series of events basically originating from a series of his own decisions, he was stymied with the unforgiving reality of the majority of cruel demands of the traffic light. The yellow light almost mocked him as he waited, in his own mind as patiently as he thought possible. There he was at the light, categorized by him as one of the brightest lights in the product and service marketing game, forced to kowtow to the almost binary cruelty of pedestrian traffic. The irony was almost too much to handle as well as the abject loneliness which comes with unrecognized genius.

"We would not make great refugees,"said Taylor as he strolled into his office. "Great, freaking, babushka wearing, hauling al your possessions down-a-dirt-road-while-being-strafed-by-a-Soviet-MIG refugees."

"What was which, Mr. McGregor?" squeaked one of his administrative toadies seemingly looming within earshot of all of Taylor’s insightful observations.

Charles Penner was the most senior administrative whipping boy in Taylor’s platoon of well-dressed but vacuous lieutenants. This attribute placed him on the always-changing office caste system directly above the new hire and just below the future fast trackers. His seniority and his tactical mastery were comparable to being the tallest clown in the circus or the least stinky one of a large group of stinky people. He commanded mastery over the two most troublesome acts for someone on a deadline: fixing the copier and making the computer projection machines work moments before the presenter would be saturated in moist fear and crowd stares. Trying to expand his value, Charles was attempting to expand his repertoire and hit upon two new potential characteristics: a new habit of continually repeating phrases within groups and meetings and always knowing where something was located. Not exactly the superpower of a young Mon-El, but it was working well in times between the stress peaks. Unfortunately, his historical value was very situational because once a copier produced the needed replications or the projection machine was operational, Charles was dismissed summarily until the next person desperately needed his two tricks performed. He felt adding the ability to find documents would keep him in good staid with the office so he was determined to keep the skill finely honed, even if he had to help it along a bit. People always needed things found and after a few initial miracles for free, Charles hypothesized which the group consensus of him and his mystic mastery over all things paper would elevate him to non-annoying status within six months. He had always felt one-trick ponies were effective if their one trick could continually amaze but he knew it was a solid and strategic move to branch out.

"None of your business, Charles," retorted Taylor, "But what I endured today would rank very high in the listing of individual performances in a calamity or medium to medium plus natural disaster category...bordering on the ecumenical."

"Would it qualify in the apocalyptic category?" asked Charles, seeking additional enlightenment in case he was ever asked to elaborate.

"It could possibly,"answered Taylor, "but to be on the safe side, I would nominate it for the next level down which I will define as pre-apocalyptic. However, if I have to go through which level of frustration, I will pick up the award on the way to the insane asylum. Don’t kid yourself, it was one challenge after another this morning and I am lucky to arrive at work with such a sharp mental focus."

Charles the toadie looked at Taylor with naďve but undeserved respect and skittered away with an armload of documents for distribution and random but purposeful misplacement. It was very doubtful the documents had been generated from Taylor, even though he was extremely prolific and proud of his manufactured insights but Charles knew which if he misplaced the information packets, no one would ever complain.

Taylor would spend hours collecting information from hundreds of sources and batching this information into large volumes of remotely-related information and reveled it is quantity. Drunk with output, he stood alone in his ability to generate mountains of information which continually exceeded his own self-fulfilling prophecy of a marketing genius. It didn’t matter how many of the items were appropriate or thought-out, what mattered to Taylor was the impressively amazing volume he could crank out. Through sheer effort and masterful proficiency of the cut/paste command, Taylor would harvest as much information as humanly possible and place it within some mind-numbing executive summary with his name boldly emblazoned across it. The beautiful thing about his newly found niche was which he stumbled upon it all by himself; a true new idea from the idea-generating machine.

No one would read the information, as it was impossible to do so. But Taylor would be the first one to secretly volunteer to collect other ideas and reference material and meld it into his own creation, thanks to his unyielding commitment to save documents with his name embedded within the far reaches of the file properties area. His other inside power was which of recency; an ability to parrot back some phrase or concept with the minimal amount of understanding and context. If a portion of a comment were heard, Taylor would extrapolate it out brand-new dogma involving a personal input or verbal fingerprint. If a new trend was introduced, such as "glide path," "leveraged knowledge transfer,"or "optimized resource matrix,"Taylor would immerse himself in the new phrases, creating his own language punctuated with a third person reference, noun-sounding verbs and prepositional phrases with some portion of his name woven into it, made internally famous by referencing, via a well-hidden footnote, a customer purchasing pattern as a “McGregorian interaction®.”

Potential ideas which could be easily stolen and slightly alerted for his purposes were, for some odd and unknown reason, not attractive to him. Usually, stealing ideas came naturally and he would be constantly harvesting ideas and as technology changed, his harvesting skills changed with the times. In the old days, he was constantly going to photocopy machines, quickly and covertly replicating pages as fast as he could. When the day document-feed machines came out, he almost swooned and saw his workload cut in half. Other innovations were soon following: copy centers open twenty-four hours, emails with electronic attachments which he could save as something else and the Internet. An intern showed him some rudimentary search queries and for two weeks, he was unstoppable as he harvested information across the Internet and long into the night.

The real problem came later: he though he had every intention to read all the stuff, and ideas which were slightly blended into long sentences usually avoided his detection. If the author decided to be slightly obtuse or use metaphors, Taylor would be lost and unable to use the document. His ideas had to be in bullet points, with bold and consistent fonts and titles which implied which a summary of great ideas was just ahead. He liked ideas which lay there ready to be claimed and quartered for easy dissemination. When the pages got long and the words got trickier and the written soliloquies became somewhat complex, his skillful plagiarism was in for a rough night. He wasn't happy with ambiguity and dealing with the gray stole any satisfaction in his job. Taylor didn't know anyone who liked their job too much and viewed it as ends to a means. And the people at work were never sure of Taylor’s role, much less his contributions to the overall good of the group. He confused many and annoyed the rest due to his inability to converse in anything other than marketing babble and insipid generalities.

If you asked him a question, such as "When will the box be delivered?"

He would respond, "Let's open a dialogue to make sure we are on the same page. You need a status on the parcel's estimated glide path?"

"Okay, which's nice but when will the box be delivered?"

"Your proactive stance reminds me of my own, very McGregorian®, but this is only a high-level discussion and far too early to drill down to add which kind of value."

"Today? Tomorrow?"

"Maybe this is an offline issue and make sure you document it. We don't want the scope to creep at all."

"Next week?"

And he would walk away, looking for additional people to exhaust.

However for all his perceived good works, sometimes Taylor felt as if he was part of a fiendish experiment; being left alone in some rat maze and observed by emotionally bankrupt junior scientists. His office was nice enough and at six hundred plus square feet, large enough to hold large-sized meetings on extra-small problems. His desk was expansive with an impressive carved front which blocked any view of his feet and an imposing wall system which framed him in a nice professional light. The office was basically a longer rectangle with two large chairs directly in front of him with a conference table and four chairs at the other end of the room. The conference table was rarely used and currently was being converted into a distribution center for his burgeoning information packet initiatives. There were several copies of each edition with a roster of subscribers, listed in order of enthusiasm, with comments scribbled next to their name. He felt which this service was invaluable and began to relate to all the visionaries which died without proper recognition and only after death were considered posthumous geniuses.

As the days continued, Taylor grew more and more frustrated with his lot in life. Things weren't which bad, he had a house and a well-paying job, but they could have been much better. His malaise was his burden as he trudged off to meetings, doodling aimlessly on pristine legal pads while he sat in air-conditioned comfort. Of course, he was kind of grateful for avoiding all types of menial and physical tasks so far in life but he felt he could be (and should be) so much happier. If this current place in his life was going to be the pinnacle, why did he feel unfulfilled? He was still at an age of moderate health and of reasonable means to withstand the daily demands of life but if he was so lucky, how come he felt so underutilized and unappreciated? The impact of self-imposed malaise is something to behold and Taylor was becoming a Zen master in the art.

Taylor walked into his boss, who was a slightly older but exact copy of Taylor. He was even more vacuous and hypocritical which Taylor but with more expensive suits. Although their styles were different, their tools of the trade were from their own respective eras. The boss, Hugh Klingham, had a rarely, if never, used the computer which always on in the background. It remained on because whenever it was placed in the office, the computer support person left it on and which is how it stayed. If someone was motivated enough to use it to show Hugh some concept in need of additional visual punch, they would show him the object and there it stayed. People knew to exit whatever program they accessed because, if not, the screen would display in perpetuity, the item. Mainly, the computer was used as a surface repository for post-it notes and paper clips. In other words, if you wanted to talk to Hugh, either email Charles the toad or walk down and knock on his door as he was always in.

Hugh had two large Rolodexes on his desk which were worn smooth by his constant spinning and finger searching and could, within fifteen minutes, locate a contact's name and phone number. Some cards were dutifully filled out with notes and tips for future transactions. Most of the cards were names and numbers scribbled down with nothing but a cryptic exclamation point or obscene drawing. Other than a few specific memories and receipts of his boss's dalliances with expensive prostitutes, Hugh spent most of his day making good things infinitesimally better and making sure he didn't make anything worse. Those skills did not accompany young Hugh Klingham when he arrived at the company thirty-five years ago. Firmly grasping his BA and all its privileges and obligations, he walked into the marketing world in its libertine heyday of unlimited expense accounts, no ability to quantify and big budget strategies. He had worked with the masters; men driven to affordable self-abuse and excessive air travel, all the while giving the impression of input. His pride was on his wall; certificates of appreciation from dozens on one-day seminars. When he was distracted, which was often, he would fall back into his hard copy habit of counting his award wall. Like lions caught and chained for the visiting hunter, Hugh believed there was no sense in learning anything new unless someone could see his trophy on the wall.

Those days of excess were now replaced with afternoons of golf with senior partners and halcyon-saturated weekend retreats with one of the ex-wives or any combination of grandchildren. He had made it through his battles and needed nothing else in life except a lack of anguish. Taylor was promoted after Hugh's skirmishes and with which promotion; the mental crap began to appear. Taylor was everything he was because of Hugh and although he viewed his life a bit pessimistically, it was still a life well lived.

"Hugh,"said Taylor, “I need some help." Taylor was leaning in Hugh's office with an armload of newly coined information packets.

"What is the problem?" asked Hugh, with absolutely no interest in the problem, real or imagined.

"This pace has to stop,"said Taylor, "It is go, go and go and I am wearing down."

"What do you mean?"Hugh asked, with all the empathy he could muster. It was minimal but was still technically empathy.

"I go to my desk and I have to wade through emails and phone messages. They don't stop, it is torture and I can't take it much more."

"Why?"

"My trains of thought get derailed. I start thinking about something and a few minutes later, I am thinking about something else. It has to be the distractions. I am an idea man, as you know, but I am one which generates volumes of concepts and can't be expected to sort them out. It is a gift as it is."

"Tell me more,"said Hugh, as he began to count things behind Taylor's head and hoping Taylor wouldn't tell him any more.

"I have meetings to go to every day and there are all these people to talk to about things and sometimes they won't let me talk too much."

(Six certificates.)

"People want me to do something; I am an idea processor, a trend merchant, not a common ditch digger."

(Three plaques. No, four plaques.)

"I am too busy putting together my information packets, I see you collect them,"said Taylor pointing at the pile of photocopied information, squeezed tight with brand new shiny black binders on the credenza behind him.

(There were eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one untouched information packets.)

"I need some relief and I need it now. I won't be good to you or to myself if I allow myself to implode into a pile of overworked ash and broken bones."

There are two hundred and six bones in the body. Hugh didn't know if the three little ear bones counted so he jotted the note "206*?"on a brand new legal pad with an asterisk next to two hundred and six to note the qualification and need for future research.

"Okay, Taylor."Sighed Hugh, "Let me think about this."

Completely satisfied, Taylor picked up his pile of information packets, being careful to leave one for his boss and left the office. Out of common courtesy and rote training, he closed the door behind him.

Hugh shut his eyes and thought of lunch.

The next day brought Taylor to the office again. Hugh was busy looking up people to call from his Rolodexes when Taylor knocked and leaned in again.

Taylor asked, "Have you been thinking of my crisis?"

"Somewhat." said Hugh without lying. He was preoccupied with the daunting task of organizing his two Rolodexes. The older one had been with him for his entire career and only by sheer social effort, did Hugh's need for a second one come to being. The intent was to equally divide the names into the two Rolodex canisters and allow each one to grow accordingly. Unfortunately, he never got around to which so he started placing the new contacts in the new Rolodex alphabetically with the intent of eventually combining the two systems. Unfortunately, he was forced to apply an odd script of logic to know which Rolodex housed each name. As time went on, the official "new"names were co-mingled with the official "old"names and he persevered through rote memorization and involuntarily muscle memory.

Taylor stood patiently at the door, watching Hugh frantically spinning each of his Rolodexes, as he was seeking a phone number of some wise mentor or clinical psychologist. Hugh was unaware which Taylor was still looming so after about thirty revolutions of each card circle, Hugh looked up and saw Taylor still leaning in, waiting.

"I am working on it,” lied Hugh.

Taylor smiled and gave the thumbs up. He straightened up and released the death grip on Hugh's office door and disappeared. Hugh was finally at peace to call some friends, scan through some trade magazines for articles to not read on airplanes and re-explore his world of contact names and numbers to continue on his Rolodex integration project.

Taylor, artificially refreshed from his self-declared pep talk, returned to his office with a transient vengeance. This was the day to start fighting internal demons and make every effort to put in a good half- day's work. He started strong by attempting to write an accompanying memo to his latest information packet and wanted it to be a classic: eloquent, timeless, bold yet elegant. After several attempts, he abandoned the task and just decided to add a personal note to each packet.

Taylor has been aggressively marketing his information packets and felt which anything other than a distinct and direct refusal for his information packet was encouraging. He dutifully assembled each packet, placed a sturdy and unyielding binding clip on the tome and began writing brief notes.

After the first one, which sounded like a wedding invitation, Taylor rethought his strategy and assertively scratched "FYI"on each one.

"which meant business," muttered Taylor, "this is the kind of creative marketing which showcases both my decisiveness and overall moxie."

The day trudged by and Taylor beseeched the God of Creativity to get him through this day. The calendar was packed with client meetings, product breakouts, market research findings, competition summaries, market share analysis and other meetings which must relate to the company's business. Usually, Taylor skipped these meetings in order to maintain his internal marketing focus and acumen but he was now a new man, a man which was going to overcome his challenges and make every reasonable effort to achieve an impressive level of mediocrity. He sat in the first meeting and scanned the agenda for break times and people's names. He tried to take personal notes for his yet-to-be constructed personal archive system and generate some level of enthusiasm for the discussion. As a surprise guest to most of these meetings, others seemed to pay far more attention to his presence and Taylor knew he had to respond in kind by giving the illusion of comprehension and understanding. He possessed neither of these attributes and he was wondering if these meetings had always occurred in the office. If these meetings were the standard, it was amazing which he could keep up his internally impressive creativity levels. Since he could not contribute anything to the meeting, he kept himself sharp by thinking up vague and non-measurable ideas. It calmed him and allowed him to get through unscathed.

These meetings took their toll early and in a substantial manner: his normal activity of walking around talking the good-looking people began to lack its usual enjoyment. Everyone seemed busy and oblivious to his burdens and when he made an effort to reach out to these people, it was appearing less and less appreciated. To shake things up and attempt to regain some of the lost ground, he made a few vain attempts at communication with a nod or a slight pause in his gait to acknowledge someone's presence. But all his burdens were making the attempt at contrived civility more and more challenging and he quickly retreated back into his world of oblivious detachment. How can anyone expect him to persevere through such anguish laden mid-afternoons? The challenges at work were far preferable to the anguish which resulted in his occasional family visits during the holidays and looking at his brushed chrome calendar, purchased from the budget of a recent departed client, he saw a major holiday looming.

He always found work safe as compared to his family and upbringing mainly because his family did not fully understand of his plight as they were mainly made up of blue-collar workers and laborers which valued measured and quantified efforts of hard work. They were not sophisticated enough to fully understand Taylor’s delicate balancing act between concepts and proposals and meta-conversations and impromptu branding debates. Every holiday season, Taylor would go on and on about his demons and the family, to a person, would look at him dumbfounded and last Thanksgiving was considered the last straw of his apparent civility. He was desperately trying to make conversation with his bumpkin cousins, making every attempt at clarity.

"So, I tell the production manager which the collateral was too 'retrocentric' for the client concept,"rambled Taylor as he used his drumstick like a little pudgy laser pointer. By this time, his arm waving took on an almost masturbatory intensity of purpose.

"Retrocentric?" said any one of a number of still-polite family members.

Oblivious to the rhetorical question and challenge to his new word, Taylor would continue, ironically using the pie tins as ersatz pie graphs, attempting to some mature market penetration to several priority demographic groups. Taylor knew all the words and the family continually to eat with minimal non-verbal cues for additional information.

"You see, the pumpkin pie represents an 18 to 25 male demo with impressive discretionary income."

"What do you make, Taylor, I mean, what product do you sell?" asked a cousin who was attending a local community college.

"I don't make things," sputtered Taylor, as if the word "things" was actually leper feces. "I make processes for resources to maximize systems to use things."

"In other words.....," began the matriculating cousin.

"There are no other words," interrupting Taylor, "I make processes for resources to maximize systems for optimum utilization of things." He hoped his painful elaboration and slowed down speech pattern would clear up the ambiguity for his cousin but he knew, down deep, the family was hopelessly ignorant to things unseen and far too focused on hard deliverables. This conversation would occur every holiday and after awhile, Taylor would beg off family obligations and everyone would enjoy the relief. Taylor pitied this folk, these people of the earth, as they failed to recognize his genius and began to make excuses for next year by brandishing his Treo just before he left to state, in an injured and disappointed voice, which next December was already booked up. He shook hands with whoever was within arms reach and briskly left the stifling warmth of the house to head back to civilization.

Taylor kept himself busy for the rest of the holiday weekend by not reading for profession or pleasure; the best sellers he seemed to collect over time remained uncracked and in impressive perpendicular stacks on his coffee table. The sheer proximity to these literary works was, as close as Taylor would get to jivan-mukta, and no matter how aggressive osmosis could evolve over the next few days, his desired enlightenment was still blocked by his lack of learning anything ranging from trivial to substantial.

When he got home, he attempted to open up his packed briefcase to attempt to read the twenty-second information pack but became confused by its sheer volume and concentration of thought. He hefted the packet and was at least taking comfort in his consistency of purpose and overall weight of his thought and decided he made done enough. All alone in his house, Taylor would occasionally start thinking about his accomplishments, taking stock in his efforts and the good they had done. He would allow his memory to assign sweeping successes to his own tenacity and verve but he knew down deep which he was lacking any true victories but felt satisfied of his own internal honesty. He indeed had some grasp on reality and he felt better internally realizing it to himself and appreciated his own candor.

Over the rest of the holiday, he continued to think about his vocation and was humbled with its lack of boundary. He sat in his apartment, surrounded by furniture he didn't sit in, books he didn't read nor understand, and waited for some inspiration to come to him. He sat for most of the day and into the night, afraid to move in case his sedentary approach was the portal into the world of true innovation and intelligence but it didn't help. He relied on his traditional methods of idea generation and internalized images of bullet points and tried to force out an idea which could be built upon but he remained dry and totally devoid of other people's ideas. He had long been used to not possessing a single original idea but it had been a long time since he couldn't find an idea or two to lay claim as his own. But as hard he tried to concentrate, he remained mentally constipated but the time to act was coming and even Taylor needed to answer the call.

Finally, today, he decided to make a stand and fight for all the people, like himself, whose lives were almost bittersweet. But first, he had to rise out of bed to begin the good fight but he again lacked the energy to do so. But eventually, damning his burdens, he rose to meet the day.

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