Polar Bears and Comcast

(originally written in July, 2015)

Little waves splashed and broke against the rotting wooden panels of our little row boat, taking up the silence between us that we couldn't fill with conversation. Graham and I were on a mission. We knew what had to be done, and there was little point in talking about it anymore. My cousin, the older of the two of us, rowed as quickly and quietly as he could, though I didn't know what being quiet would do for us. The island was still a little ways away, and the castle on the jagged rocks stood well above water line, well out of ear shot from the shore. Besides, we were already obvious to anyone looking out a window. It was night, of course, but our powered Tron suits lit us up better than the sun could have. The blue neon strips of light were indicative of the protection afforded by the clothing, but not much else could be more obvious. The witch knew we were coming. That didn't change the fact that we had to find her and dispose of her. We found a dock to tie off the boat. Graham started up the narrow winding path that undoubtedly led to the front gates.

I put a hand on his shoulder to stop him. "If we can't be super sneaky, we can at least try to be unpredictable." I pointed to a low window on the near side of the castle, illuminated from within by torchlight.

Rain began to spatter down on us as we climbed up the steep rocks and crags that supported the ancient edifice. The suits kept us from being covered in cuts and bruises by the strikingly sharp stones and continuous stumbles. When we reached the base of the wall, Graham, the stronger of us, boosted me up to grab the ledge of the window. I pulled myself in until I had a firm hold and reached down to grab his hand as he leaped for mine. 

We were in. Now we had to find her. The castle was huge, and she was clever. It wouldn't be so obvious as the cliche stories where the goal could be found at the top of the tallest tower, or down in the deepest dungeon. 

"We will search every room on each floor systematically until we find her," Graham explained. "Starting here, door by door."

And the hunt began. We took turns with one person opening the door from the behind the safety of the wall as the other stood back from the door with a wider view to the other side, and the ability to charge in at the target or dodge any traps that might be set off.

Nothing happened. Room after room, floor after floor, we could only find sitting rooms, ball rooms, living quarters, a kitchen, and all other kinds of places you would expect to find in a castle. But all were completely devoid of life. Despite the perfection of the decor and furnishings, I could feel that nothing truly lived there.

Eventually we came on a door, like many others. Heavy, polished wooden planks with a ring for a handle. As Graham positioned himself to open the door, I held back to see what he would expose. It was the kind of door that swung out into the hallway, so I guessed it was another closet.

He yanked on the door and and watched for my reaction to tell him what to do next.

I was right. It was a large, walk-in, linen closet, with towels and sheets piled on the shelves that lined the walls.

However my eyes widened almost as much as the eyes of the surprised polar bear that turned to face me.

I think it felt threatened too, as it stood on its hind legs, too tall for the confining closet.

"Close it!" I shouted, waving to emphasize the urgency as the beast released a deafening roar.

The door slammed and Graham clicked the handle closed as I slammed my shoulder against the wood to help keep the animal in if it tried to force its way out.

"What was that?" Graham asked, his breath coming almost as rapidly as mine.

"Polar bear."

"Protecting the witch?"

I shook my head as I slid down the unmoving door to sit on the floor and gather my composure. "Linen closet."

Graham laughed as he seated himself next to me. "She is probably having a good laugh." 

I chuckled weakly. "Not for long."

******

I was reminded of this dream as I looked in my closet the other day. No, there wasn't a bear in there. I am just often reminded of it. Especially when I see Tron, a polar bear, or even my cousin. It is the first dream I remember having, probably around 16 years ago or so. I know I dreamed before that, and probably remembered some of them for a time. But this one stuck with me. It was at that time that I realized how adventurous my sleeping life could be.

However, yesterday, as I stared at the clothes in my closet, remembering how exciting it was, hunting a witch in her castle, I realized that I had to brush those thoughts aside and choose what I was going to wear to the interview.

I have been unemployed for several months now, after leaving the military. Yet, despite having been job hunting for almost a year in preparation of entering civilian life again, this is the first interview I've had. And it isn't even for the kind of job I want. It is to be a customer service and sales agent at an Xfinity store. Yippie, right? That is a story I can tell my grandkids. If I ever have them, of course, but that is an issue to discuss another day.

I have a degree in creative writing. I was a copywriter for two years at an internet retail company. I held an intelligence job with the Army where I would have to write all sorts of things that equated to a technical writing job. And here I am, interviewing to get a job getting people internet and television in exchange for money.

Don't get me wrong, I did well in the interview, and am moving on to the next round of the hiring process. But the job isn't one of my dream jobs, like writing for a video game company or going on book signing tours for my novels. And it is certainly a far cry from going to do battle with an evil witch with a sense of humor. Despite all that, I am grateful for the interview. I'm even mildly excited about getting the job, and not just because it's a needed job. Getting out there to do something is something to look forward to. And it is providing people with entertainment and information. Even if I'm not the source of the entertainment, I'll accept helping provide it to people.   

Yet as I think about it, I am saddened. This is real life. This monotonous grind. This ridiculous system of employment for a society full of consumers and people who are paid to facilitate consumption. Yes, I realize that it is a necessity in how the world works today, and I don't mind being a cog in the economic wheel. And I know that many people truly enjoy doing this kind of stuff. But I envy and appreciate those who have managed to take their passion and make a profitable living out of it. And I'll get there, I'm sure of it.

Still, even when I can officially call myself a professional storyteller, my mouth will turn downward when I open a linen closet and don't find a surprised polar bear staring back at me. 

These are the kinds of things I will discuss in this blog. Comparing dreams and expectations to real life and actual results, I hope you enjoy.