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Warning: Take The Advice Of Writers With Caution

, , , , , , , | Friendly | January 26, 2022

I’m an aspiring writer. And I have writer’s block. It’s been bugging me for quite a while now, and nothing I do seems to work. I go to a writer friend of mine and ask for advice.

Me: “How do you deal with writer’s block? I mean, you never seem to have it. What’s your secret?”

Friend: “Okay, I’ll show you. Get out your computer and open up your manuscript while I get the stuff.”

He walks out of the room and I do so. He comes back in a few minutes and slams a bottle of wine down onto the table. He pours me a glass.

Friend: “Drink this, and then start writing. Any time you get stuck, take another sip.”

Me: “Seriously? Your magic cure for writer’s block is to get drunk?

Friend: *Shrugs* “It works.”

I give him a deadpan look.

Friend: “Right, remember Julia, the main character of my novel?”

Me: “Yeah, the evil empress.”

Friend: “I wrote most of her backstory while utterly hammered.”

Me: “But Julia’s your best character! The most well-written!”

Friend:Exactly.”

I wordlessly downed the entire glass of wine immediately. My friend silently nodded and refilled the wineglass.

I don’t remember much of what happened next, but I woke up the next morning with a horrible hangover and a significant expansion to my manuscript, which, after editing, I found to be a workable plot.

I haven’t yet had to revisit the bottle, as my muse has somewhat returned, but still, maybe my friend really was onto something.

Ah, Yes, The Trauma Diet

, , , , , , , | Related | January 24, 2022

People: “Oh, my God, you’ve really slimmed down. Like, a lot. Can you please tell me your secret?”

When people say that to me, I have to resist the urge to slap them, which is rather problematic, given that I hear that line on average thrice a day.

I was on the pudgy side for most of my life. I was rather sedentary. And a liking for booze, dairy, and snacking meant that I wasn’t the slimmest person in the world.

Then, I got pregnant when I was eighteen, and my father disowned me for that. Oh, and my boyfriend literally fled the country to avoid paying child support. When I tried to approach his family, they told me to f*** off.

Still, I found myself a room to rent and a part-time job and tried my best to raise my newborn little girl.

When I first started out, I had a full bank account and summer sunlight behind me. I was confident that I could do this. Then, the costs started mounting and my bank account began growing depleted. Winter was encroaching, and babies were expensive, even with welfare.

I had a choice between coats or good food. I chose the coats and started eating takeout. The price of baby products went up. I halved my sleep and got a second part-time job. Babysitters began charging more because of the health crisis. I dropped ice cream and chocolate to afford them.

Then, my daughter fell sick. I dropped alcohol to afford the medicine.

The heating bill was more than expected. I used my food money to pay for it and spent a month eating my coworkers’ leftovers.

I had to buy new school supplies — textbooks and the like. I cut down from three square meals a day (plus snacks) to just one, convincing myself that it was about time I started dieting.

Final exams arrived. I took time off from my two part-time jobs to study for it, depleting what was left of my bank account in order to feed and clothe my daughter and myself.

My bank account was completely empty after finals. I took three part-time jobs during the school holidays to partially replenish it. Sleep was basically nonexistent by this point, and I was surviving off one meal a day.

But even so, no matter what I did, bills and costs were slowly but surely strangling me. I’d gotten to the point where I was seriously considering some… less wholesome methods of earning cash, when my grandmother passed away.

She willed me quite a bit, and although she was barely coherent toward the end, her last words were apparently for my father to reconcile with her favourite granddaughter, so that’s what he did. He rescinded my disownment and invited me to come in from the cold.

The first conversation we had went something like this.

Father: *Stunned look* “You’ve slimmed down so much! Can you please tell me your secret? I’ve got a couple of inches I’d like to lose from my waistline.”

That’s an understatement. I lost almost an entire stone and was pretty thin and haggard by that point. On more than one occasion, I couldn’t afford to feed both my daughter and myself, and every single time, I chose to starve so that my daughter had food.

And hearing my father ask about something as frivolous as weight loss really made me come THAT close to committing murder.

Me: “It’s called being a single mother with no family for over a year. Guaranteed results.”

Group Projects By Any Other Name Would Still Be As Frustrating

, , , , , | Learning | January 5, 2022

I’m a university student, and I’m currently doing a group project with three others. [Groupmate] and I are looking over what the other two have submitted.

Groupmate: “Well, those two numbskulls really half-a**ed the work.” 

Me: *Irritably* “Tell me something I don’t already know.”

Groupmate: “My middle name is Prosperity.”

I blink.

Me: “Really?”

Groupmate: “Really.”

Me: “You’re not fooling around, right?”

Groupmate: “Nope. I’ve got two names: one in English, one in Chinese. My Chinese one is legally my middle name, and when translated, it means Ascend-To-Prosperity, so yes, Prosperity really is my middle name.”

Me: “Is this common?”

Groupmate: *Shrugs* “Back home in Singapore, yes. For example, my friend [English Name]’s full name is [English Name] [Surname] [Chinese Name]. Most of us follow that format, as well.”

Me: “And [Chinese Name] is her middle name?”

Groupmate: *Wriggles palm* “Legally speaking. Even though it’s behind her surname.”

Me: “That’s weird.”

Groupmate: *Shrugs* “That’s just what happens when you grow up in a place that speaks both English and Chinese.”

Me: “Fair enough, but let’s get back on topic.”

We got back to work, but I was a lot calmer and light-hearted now. 

This basically evolved into our usual working relationship. I’d get angry over something, [Groupmate] would distract me with some interesting trivia, we’d get sidetracked for a bit, and I’d forget my anger, and then, we’d get back to work with a clear head.

High But Simple Standards

, , , , , , , | Related | October 3, 2021

My girlfriend is meeting my rather conservative parents for the first time. We’re both currently university students. She’s ethnically Chinese, has brightly dyed dreadlocks and a toned body, and speaks with a unique accent. My parents are quite a bit weirded out by her.

Mum: “So, where are you from?”

Girlfriend: “Short answer or long answer?”

Mum: “Short, please.”

Girlfriend: “If we’re being precise, an orphanage in rural China. If we’re not, Singapore. More or less.”

Mum: “Uh…”

Me: “The long answer is a list of places including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, and London.”

Girlfriend: “Don’t forget Canada.”

Me: “And Canada.”

Mum: “That’s… interesting.”

Girlfriend: *Shrugs* “My parents travelled around a lot. Singapore is where they currently live.”

Dad: “But where do you feel you belong? Where do you feel you’re from?”

Girlfriend: “Wherever my parents are.”

Dad: “That’s not very precise. How about which passport you have?”

Girlfriend: “I’ve got three different citizenships and passports, but I’m not really attached to any of them.”

Dad: “Okay. Okay. So, are you a Christian?”

Girlfriend: “Nope. My one true god is the Force and the Sith code.”

Dad: “Uh… don’t you mean the Jedi code?”

Girlfriend: *Shakes her head* “Sith fashion is cooler.”

Mum: “Uh… your hobbies?”

Girlfriend: “Fencing, paintball, Dungeons And Dragons, video gaming… Basically anything, as long as it’s fun.”

Dad: “What are you taking in university?”

Girlfriend: “Computer engineering. I’m not a bad programmer.”

Our dog comes up and distracts her, which allows my parents to pull me aside.

Dad: “Uh, son, are you really sure you want to date someone so… foreign?”

Mum: “Yes, she’s rather… exotic.”

Me: “I only ask three things from a girlfriend: be someone I can geek out with, be someone with an actual personality, and be down for anything. She ticks all those boxes and then some.”

Mum: “But she’s a bit… weird.”

Girlfriend: *Popping into the conversation* “Weird is good. Life would be too boring, otherwise.”

Me: “Agreed.”

We fistbump, and my parents make themselves scarce with skeptical looks. My parents — and most of the older folks in the family — have never really approved of her, but at least they are polite enough not to make a fuss out of it.

On the bright side, pretty much everyone else in the younger generations of my family (including the pets) finds my girlfriend awesome.


This story is part of our Best Of October 2021 roundup!

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There’s “Laid Back” And Then There’s Lazy

, , , , , , | Working | October 1, 2021

It’s the first day of the three-day weekend for the Fourth of July. I’m the closing manager for the night at my local pizza chain location. The general manager and a manager not quite out of training are also on shift, as well as some other assorted staff.

The new manager has a friend stop by and order a pizza. When the order is ready, the manager takes it to their friend’s car and tells the GM that they’re going to hang out for a bit. We’re not particularly busy, so sure, why not.

As the shift progresses, I notice that she still hasn’t returned to the store. Hours go by. Finally, almost four and a half hours later, my GM — who’s very laid back — finally takes her off the clock.

To top it all off, she comes in a bit later complaining that she wasn’t scheduled off for another hour but was clocked out because someone was nagging the GM about wasted labor. Seriously?!