Authors Posts by Charlie Nadler

Charlie Nadler

Charlie Nadler
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“So…there’s been a development,” Cary said.

Whenever your girlfriend calls you with this sentence, the translation is crystal: “You might not be thrilled with what you’re about to hear, but I have prepared a detailed pitch for your listening pleasure.”

We had talked about getting a pet, and my preference was “down the line”, but this stray black cat was apparently very unhappy with my timeline and took matters into her own hands. She followed my girlfriend home for several blocks and refused to leave our stoop. This was Cary’s side of the story. I was in Brooklyn at the time, and my more skeptical theory was this feline was not following a human being, but instead the container of miso that Cary mentioned she had been holding for an upcoming dish.

Regardless of how this new guest ended up in our apartment, upon my arrival she presented her advanced friendliness and cuteness as her application for housing. Cary and I struck a compromise that blended her excitement with my logic; we would keep this pet, and name her Miso.

The weirdest part about adopting a mystery animal is never knowing about their past. Miso didn’t have a microchip and no one seemed to care that she was lost. But her coat wasn’t too alleycat-esque, suggesting she did live somewhere for at least a while. With other guardians. Called by a name that was certainly not Miso. I feel like this is the cat equivalent to the witness protection program.

Since we live in a very eclectic neighborhood with a lot of Greek, Italian, and Egyptian families, there’s a very good chance English is Miso’s second language, or third if you consider meowing a language. I myself definitely consider meowing a language, especially when it is used incessantly between the hours of 11 pm and 6 am. Miso proved herself to be a tireless orator the first couple nights of our new life together. In turn we demonstrated to her that we like to lock our bedroom door.

Continuing the contentious chess match between animal and human, Miso has now taken up the popular cat sport of furniture destruction and exhibited Olympic-level ability. I recently bought two hundred square feet of aluminum foil, a recommended scratching deterrent, but Miso has elected to remove it and use it as a chew toy. Our next move now has been to set out a bunch of little spray bottles near our furniture. I fully expect Miso to one-up this and begin to wear a poncho.

Despite this battle between claw and fabric, we are having a lot of fun with our strange little dog-like cat creature, and the only other hurtle left is to spay her. We are spending an inordinate amount of time researching New York vets and continue to encounter New York prices. I have come to the conclusion that the most economical option will be for me to enroll in veterinary school and perform the surgery myself.

Charlie-NadlerCharlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

I spent 11 months summoning the courage to write my first five minutes. In retrospect, I don’t know why courage was required to tell jokes at a forgettable open mic in the back room of a dive bar, but it was.

As I wrap up my fourth year performing stand up, I am relieved to have that rookie chapter in my rear view. It feels great to shed old fears and form new, scarier goals. Or maybe I just tell myself that to rationalize my obsessive behavior that transforms every comedy milestone into a false peak.

The moment I realized I could tell one joke successfully, I began to target the “milestone” of performing as a headliner, and I’m proud that I achieved this the other night; I told just under 45 minutes of jokes in my favorite town in the world: Oak Bluffs.

Preparing for this performance was a combination of a lot of living, thinking, writing, bombing, rewriting, and re-bombing. I arrived on the New Bedford fast ferry the night before very uncertain, and frankly unsatisfied, with several portions of my material. I rarely get more than five to ten minutes of stage time here in New York, so a good portion of my setlist had barely been tested, and I had no idea how it would all flow as one work.

I don’t know how this happened — maybe it’s the Fluoride in the water — but while reviewing my material in Oak Bluffs the afternoon of the show, I made a handful of last minute tweaks and punchline rejiggers, and suddenly felt completely reassured. I was irrationally comfortable. I probably should have sought medical attention.

I think this moment of Zen came from knowing that the audience deck would be stacked to an almost illegal level. Family, friends, so many types of wonderful people from all different chapters of my life turned out.

The immense love and support in the room that night made me feel like I could tell any joke I wanted, in any way I wanted, so I did. I am so thankful to have had such a special environment and memory. Oak Bluffs always has a knack for this kind of magic.

Serendipity has always played such a fun role in my development a comic, and I have so much appreciation for Tony Lombardi, Alex’s Place, and the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA for putting this all together for me. What started with my question about open mic night last summer, turned into opening for the IMPers, and now this year’s show. There is new talk about doing this every summer, so if you’ll excuse me I’m going to jump off this false peak; I have some more bombing and re-bombing to attend to!

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The shot heard 'round Oak Bluffs.

Marty Nadler and Charlie Nadler, resting up before the annual free-throw-for-Gio's. — Courtesy Charlie Nadler

Charlie-NadlerCharlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

Two important events are on my calendar for Saturday July 12th. One is a comedy show — at Alex’s Place at the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA — where I will be on stage approximately three times as long as I have ever been on stage. I am not anxious in the slightest, because the second event is far more nerve-wracking for me; the annual foul shot competition between my dad and me.

I can’t recall exactly when it started, but it was sometime in the mid 90’s. We were in our driveway in East Chop and decided to shoot a free throw. The loser had to buy a large cheese pizza at Giordano’s. The inaugural loser was my father.

Next summer we decided to repeat the competition. The loser was my father.

We entered the third summer with a clean slate, and once again my father bought me a pizza.

This yearly David and Goliath battle leaves zero upside for me. “Obviously” is the go to response at Gio’s every time we report that I triumphed, because I have gotten a free pizza every single summer…

With the exception of one tragic loss almost ten years ago, which had to be one of the best days of my dad’s life. I couldn’t believe it; the Giordano boys didn’t believe me; luckily it hasn’t happened again.

But it will. And it causes me to lose sleep. My dad has not been missing by much the last couple years. He regularly hits the back of the rim – dead center. Last year the ball rolled around the hoop – seemingly for days – before popping out. The pleasure he gets from seeing me on the verge of a panic attack has become a fun consolation prize for him.

My worry this Saturday is that my dad tells me he has now been training regularly down in Florida; working on his form, anticipating greatness, and visualizing mozzarella cheese. Meanwhile, the last time I touched a basketball was last August’s victory against him. It’s a slippery slope and I can feel my heart rate elevating and just had a flashback to that losing year that shall never be mentioned again.

We have had several derivations of rules over time and finally settled on a fair set. Since my dad will read this piece — and I need to constantly refresh his memory so he doesn’t try to slip in any sneaky variations — I now present them in official form:

1.) We flip a coin. The coin flip winner shoots first.

2.) If First Shooter makes his foul shot, Second Shooter must make his foul shot or

buy a pizza. If Second Shooter also makes his shot, reset completely and shoot      again.

3.) If First shooter misses, and Second Shooter scores, Second Shooter wins a

pizza.

4.) If First shooter misses, and Second Shooter also misses, reset completely and

shoot again.

5.) After a sportsmanlike handshake, proceed to Giordano’s where Marty buys

Charlie a pizza.

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Friends from MVRHS reunited at Ryan Maciel's May 31st wedding. From left to right: Christopher Kennedy, Charlie Nadler, Albion Alley, Nicholas Schilcher, Alexander Schilcher. — Tom Drewell

One of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day, follows Bill Murray as he relives the same day over and over again. As I prepare to leave my twenties in the dust this summer, I find myself in a similar situation that I like to call Groundhog Weekend: all of my friends are getting married and they refuse to stop. Yes, there are some Saturdays and Sundays without nuptials, but they often include bachelor parties or me locking myself in my apartment using my taxed out, maxed out credit card as a coaster.

Here is a typical day in the life of Charlie Nadler, Professional Wedding Invitee. I wake up and field texts, emails, and facebook messages asking for my current address. Next I arrive at work and put in at least seven new requests for time off. Then I come home and empty the save-the-date receptacle outside my apartment building, promptly checking corresponding airfares and perusing online gift registries. Almost all of these registries list trash cans as a requested item. What is it with unmarried people not owning good trash cans?

I know we are at “that age,” but this is a deluge. It’s like when someone stops the pressure in a hose and finally lets loose. I feel like Cupid watched over all my high school and college friends and went “Bad dates…imperfect relationships…unhappy endings….Okay let’s finally do this, EVERYBODY GETS THE ONE!” That’s the only possible explanation for the current state of my calendar.

The rewarding part about being a Professional Wedding Invitee has been the inevitable ascension into a Professional Wedding Attendee, borrowing skills from a variety of professions: knowing what to pack like a seasoned flight attendant, pacing my hydration like a marathon runner, and most importantly, plotting how to intercept each and every tray of hors d’oeuvres like a Navy Seal.

The best aspect of these events — besides forever love of course — are the reunions of friends from many different chapters of my life. We don’t get to see each other regularly anymore and our lives have changed immensely. The laughs, though, have not aged a minute. In between the revelry we lament our busy schedules and hope that once everyone makes it down the aisle — and our Google calendars stop looking like they’ve been hacked by spambots — we will be able to reunite more often.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining. It’s just strange being behind the curve. As more and more of my friends exchange vows, I feel increasingly like the youngest kid in high school who is last to get his learner’s permit. A lot of good is coming out of this cake-laden chapter, though. We are all happy and having fun, especially my dry cleaner, who will soon be able to put a downpayment on a Ferrari.

Charlie-NadlerCharlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

I’ll never forget that first solo drive. I was sixteen and a half and had miraculously received my license that morning despite leaving the emergency brake on for the majority of my road test. I took my dad’s white Geo Metro for a spin around Viera Park, glanced over at the empty passenger seat, and rejoiced in this benchmark of independence that every young child dreams about from the moment they handle their first matchbox car.

Thirteen years later I get that same feeling looking over at all the vehicles on New York City streets, but this time I am elated that none of them are mine. Any potentially deflated tires, leaky gas tanks, disintegrating brake pads, feverish radiators, geriatric clutches, and electrically-challenged taillights; replaced now by my MTA MetroCard.

Before you read ahead in your minds and get the wrong idea, I am not “that” liberal. I respect trees, but I don’t hug them. I recycle, but I don’t compost. I could do better when it comes to carbon, but I take solace that my footprint is relatively dainty.

I don’t have a problem with the institution of driving; ideally, my next automobile will not be too far off and it will be a “Vineyard car.” The problem I have is with driving excess, the signature element of Los Angeles life. I used to think it was so wasteful for people to spend so much money on their vehicles, but after crawling through traffic and being either wildly early or late to appointments for close to a decade, I finally understand their need for comfort. In fact, I think Angelenos should go a step further and wallpaper the insides of their car and acknowledge their vessel for what it is: a second home.

There are plenty of drawbacks to my new alternative life of public transportation. It can be inconvenient, bumpy, smelly, and sometimes scary. But it functions, and in New York City it functions particularly well. Most importantly, you can text without getting a two hundred dollar ticket and you never have those LA conversations of “I’m leaving now, I’ll see you at the restaurant in about 30 minutes, unless the 101 is jammed up in which case I’ll have my office call your office and we’ll look at March 2016.

I also find that the subway is invaluable from a sociological standpoint. It might not always be pleasant to ride next to a homeless person, listen to yet another depressing plea for money, or almost get kicked in the fact by a break-dancer, but it’s invaluable to be submerged in all walks of life. Racism, ignorance, and apathy stem from homogenous environments, and while it might be comfortable to enjoy your privacy locked in your car with your seatbelt fastened, it’s easy to lose perspective and forget about the millions of Americans who can’t operate or afford a steel bubble of their own.

Plus, a lot of fancy suits also take these things down to Wall Street, so it’s a great excuse for me to get all my thirty second get-rich-pitches together.

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Charlie-NadlerCharlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

I have stumbled onto a new hobby known as the 5k race, which is where I stumble 3.1 miles in the name of charity and at the expense of my knees.

I could never get into running as a kid. I always needed a ball to chase or a racquet to swing to distract my body from realizing what I was really doing: RUNNING. The progression from “Running is so boring” to “Let’s Google the next 5k” was an organic one evolving out of the following steps:

1) I had a job for a long time where I sat; a lot.

2) I got fat from my marathon of sitting.

3) I left the job and elected not to be fat anymore, so I started exercising.

4) Scheduling my preferred group cardio activities such as tennis and golf were hampered by Los Angeles rush hour, which goes from January 1st to December 24th.

5) I was forced — by default -— to acknowledge running as a positive change of pace and my ticket to reentering a lighter fat bracket.

I completed my first Martha’s Vineyard stumble this past weekend, the 21st annual Oak Bluffs Memorial Day 5k. Proceeds went to Hospice — amazing cause, and the route circumnavigated East Chop — can’t beat that.

I was seriously impressed with the caliber of athlete in this draw. The starting pace out of Ocean Park — if you want my honest opinion — was egregious. The winner finished in just over 16 minutes, which is faster than my first car’s chop speed. It took 10 additional minutes for my worn out sneakers to make it across the finish line. I did set a new personal best for myself, but now I need a fresh excuse for my relative slowness besides “worn out sneakers.”

My favorite part was not the run itself because I was too busy wallowing in thirst and the embarrassing horror of small children lapping me. What I most enjoyed was the personal history at every turn. Other runners at the starting line (notice I didn’t say during the race) included friends, classmates, and Jason Lew who delivered me eight years before this race was even a gleam in our eyes! The course also went right by my old house, which would look a lot better with shutters on the windows and a brown cocker spaniel in the yard if the owners happen to be reading this.

The next day I was surprised to learn that I was in fact continuing a long family line of participation in this race. I spoke with my dad who told me that for years he would post out on our porch on race day and eat a big bowl of ice cream as everyone went by. All races have water stations, but only on Martha’s Vineyard does a hilarious man set up a jealousy station!

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Charlie, with Charlie Chaplin. — courtesy Cary Kandel

Charlie-NadlerCharlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

It took almost eight years of administrative jobs in the film and television industry to reach my tipping point of clarity. Low pay on high profile projects. Long hours for people with short fuses. A fly on the wall experience where the wall felt like a giant fly swatter.

I blame the industry more than the individual. The supply and demand of these jobs is horribly stacked against the peons. There are hundreds of people dying to do the job that is currently killing someone else. Once you get a good job the road to success appears convoluted, unique, and often unfair; for every person who “moves up the ladder” in entertainment, there are ten others who never learned how use a ladder or appreciate the person who steadies it from the bottom. Dealing with these individuals can be challenging, but it’s empowering to learn that you too can make it as an entertainer without having to be a cog in the rusty tinseltown wheel.

My first brutal Hollywood lesson was on my maiden gig out of college as a production assistant on a film. I went to lift a heavy piece of equipment when a wise, middle-aged crew guy stopped me. “Don’t hurt yourself, kid, cause nobody will care. Nobody will be like hey everyone stop what you’re doing. There’ll just be a new you here tomorrow.” I picked up a lighter object and moved on carefully.

My last brutal Hollywood lesson occurred on day one of my last entertainment job – the one I quit after day two. My boss called up and said, “What’s going on?” in a colloquial tone. I shot the breeze for a second or two. When he came in later, he told me, “By the way, when I ask what’s going on, I don’t want to know what’s going on; I want you to tell me any business that has come up for me and things of that nature.” Luckily at that very moment he picked up a heavy object and I never saw him again. Just kidding. I wish him all the best.

I learned a ton about film and television and am thankful for the handful of great jobs and bosses that blessed me along the way, but making a conscience decision to avoid another assistant job in entertainment is the best choice I have ever made as an aspiring entertainer. The time gained and stress lost makes my brain feel warm and fuzzy again.

The hardest part about my new non-industry 9-5 office job is learning how to be a normal, compassionate, conversational human being again. I have had to reteach myself to be warm on the phone because I had acclimated to people who shortened every interaction to the essence of its essence, people who never said hello because they probably calculated some formula in their head where if they added up all of the skipped hellos to assistants they could make .4 more movies over their career.

Today I have a boss that buys me lunch, encourages my creative endeavors, and takes an interest in my personal life. It is amazing. The fact that it is amazing is sad. But I am far too free to be sad.

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Charlie Nadler writes From Afar.
Charlie Nadler writes From Afar.

Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

My girlfriend and I had braced ourselves for a New York apartment the size of a large refrigerator with enough room to cram in a small refrigerator and bunk bed. But when the real estate gods blessed us with an unexpectedly massive apartment in Astoria, we began to strategize a superlative way to furnish our big new life.

Now just because we had extra square footage did not mean additional bank account space. Filling out this palatial pad would prove challenging. Unless, of course, we considered the Swedish alternative: IKEA.

This Scandinavian superchain cuts their price point considerably by outsourcing the assembly of their items to the consumer. For the cost of a desk and dresser at an already-built-furniture store, you can get the fixins’ for an entire apartment at IKEA. This business model makes a world of sense but has one substantial flaw: me, the default foreman of our new abode.

I like to think my man skills have come a long way during my man tenure on this planet. The bar had been set at a subterranean level for me, born into a family of writers. To us, the pen was mightier than the sword by default because our genes prevented us from being able to physically lift a sword.

I struggled along a steep learning curve and in college famously “helped” install antitheft brackets on one of our windows. These brackets required screws, so my roommates were rightfully surprised to hear loud banging noises from across the house. “Just hammering in these screws!” I yelled. Say what you want, but nobody ever broke in through that window.

Since then I have become vaguely proficient at screwing a screw and hammering a nail, arming me with the necessary skills to assemble anything from IKEA, in theory.

I am thrilled with the Swedish savings, but I think they could go a step further. Upon exiting the store, the cashier should make you assemble a shelf and prorate your discount depending on your lack of abilities, providing additional financial aid for butterfingered builders like myself.

I suggest this because after assembling numerous pieces over the last couple of weeks, the finished product is not always identical to the stock image in the catalog, but more a quirky limited edition asymmetrical model with quaint little holes.

Despite all of this, the bargain trumps the trauma. I feel accomplished as I slowly bury myself in empty cardboard while engaging in something more similar to Legos than carpentry. And I find myself feeling much more empathetic towards sweatshop employees. Politicians who feel the urge to perpetuate unfair labor practices should be mandated to spend a day in my apartment, finishing my dresser.

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Charlie Nadler writes From Afar.
Charlie Nadler writes From Afar.

Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

It took me a long time to merge affinity, ability, and ambition. As a kid I had affinity and ambition for basketball, but my abilities were better suited on a chessboard than a playground. My mathematical brain probably helped my jump shot a little bit, but there was no formula to solve my peers’ exponential advancements in height, strength, and speed.

In high school I fostered some affinity for math because it came easily and it felt good to be successful at something. But once Calculus showed up my ambition waned. Calculus is all about finding the area of a curve. Finding little enjoyment in that, I curved away from the calculus area.

I’m thankful for stand-up comedy because it is something that I love and that often loves me back, especially when I put in the extra effort. I like how any life experience can turn into a joke and I LOVE when the event in question happened way before I ever picked up a mic. It’s a fun blend of time travel and catharsis, although in this case it’s like going to a therapist who says, “Tell me about childhood, and if it’s entertaining enough you can bill me.”

One of my foibles is running analogies into the ground and my analogy du jour is European soccer. European Soccer has a pyramid structure where — when you win a league — you get promoted into a higher, more competitive league. Conversely, if you perform poorly and lose a league, you get relegated to a lesser group. I would like to see this instituted on Facebook to encourage less whining, fewer poorly lit dinner plates, and an end to the incorrect usage of comment threads. I also wish they had this system in JV Basketball because I would have been MVP of the small, weak, and slow league.

I bring this up because comedy fits this model at times. Open mics turn into “real” shows and then “pro” shows. The Big Leagues. I was fortunate to get a short guest spot at a real live comedy club last week. Hopping the train to the venue, I felt like a Triple A ballplayer heading in from Pawtucket. All the other comics had been there before and will be there again. “How should I introduce you?” asked the host. The last two comics he had introduced had been on The Tonight Show and taped a half hour special for Comedy Central. A part of me wanted to yell “DON’T!” and run out the door screaming.

I stayed of course, my ambition anchoring me into the floor. The experience was both scary and fun, humbling and exciting. I am learning that I still have a long way to go, but I traveled far to get to this realization and I am proud of that. It is a journey that will inevitably throw me massive curves, but for the first time I would like to calculate the area.

Charlie Nadler writes From Afar.
Charlie Nadler writes From Afar.

Charlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

I live for ideas and jokes and yet they still don’t provide a living. I envy people whose day jobs align with their desired career path while I must clock in in the evening, clock out in the morning, and in between figure out how to pay rent.

Molding ideas into screenplays or stand up bits takes a lot of time, so my objective these days is to add as many ticks as possible to the creative clock. Luckily I’d been told New York is perfect for this strategy. I could ditch the 9 to 7 entertainment gigs I became accustomed to in Los Angeles and embrace bountiful 9 to 5 administrative opportunities. Landing one of these would be simple, quick, nothing to blog home about.

Interview number one was promising on paper. An editorial assistant for a luxury website. I would help post about five star resorts and platinum watches. I’ve watched more than enough rap videos and knew I could totally do that job! Then I learned the pay and immediately bowed out; I couldn’t bring myself to write about luxury lines while living on the poverty line.

Interviews two through one million were a string of Craigslist rope-a-dopes, jobs that apparently didn’t even exist. Recruiters cast these things out like squid and wait for unemployed scup like me to bite. Then they bring me in and promise a lot of other “great” positions while making me complete a stack of redundant paperwork that solicits so much of my personal information that I might as well display my social security number in Times Square.

Eventually I found an awesome sounding position that did in fact exist and had the most innovative job title ever: “Happiness Coordinator”! My resume was met with positivity, cool! But then I was invited to fill out a questionnaire, lame! Finally I got to meet a real live person, alright! But our meeting took place at a Starbucks, cliché!

For some inexplicable reason my interviewer dedicated a healthy chunk of time telling me about other candidates who nailed their interviews. He liked me, though, and told me “as long as I don’t get outdone later today” I should be asked back for the next step of the interview process. This suspense was epic for me. What came next, eight questionnaires? A polygraph test? Whoever gets the best palm reading gets the job?

Turns out it was worse. The next step would be a cocktail party, at their office, WITH ALL OF THE OTHER CANDIDATES PRESENT. The Hunger Games is a movie, people, not an employment strategy. I coordinated an escape from this opportunity and felt very happy about it.

Despite all this, things are looking up and this week should put me back in the black financially. The road’s been longer than I anticipated, but the flat tires are fun to blog home about.