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I had been meaning to write about this experience for quite a while for my

blog, but Wayne and Nicole from The Right Buzz bribed me with chocolate and

dry British humor. You gotta love ‘em! For the sake of maintaining people’s

privacy, I have changed names, events and locations.

During my college days, I was able to balance partying, good grades, work,

extra-curricular activities, and graveyard meditating all at once. My morning

commute consisted of listening to Therion or Cannibal Corpse whilst sipping on a

hot cup of black coffee. My monochromatic wardrobe just made life easier. I did

get the occasional odd stare.


I, for the most part, enjoyed many of my classes. I had a good relationship

with many of my professors; not to say that I didn’t struggle with a few difficult

ones. I made many friends and had many odd experiences.

I will always remember the first day. I was on my way to a political science

class. I was waiting with four other students for the elevator. One of them looked

my way and gave me a half smile. I returned it with a nod. He was wearing a t-

shirt with the lyrics of Voodoo Child inscribed on his chest. According to my

registration sheet, my class was on the fifth floor. The elevator arrived after five

agonizing minutes. The doors opened and students corralled their way out. There

was this one girl, carrying a Longchamp bag, would not get off because she was

too busy having a quarrel with someone on her pink phone. She was blocking the

way; stuck in her own little world.


Unexpectedly, Voodoo Child guy shoots me a quick glance and grabs my

hand leading me into the elevator. He pushed his way through, as other students

followed suit, making a point to Longchamp Bag Girl that the universe does not

revolve around her. Flabbergasted, she scoffed out loud. How dare we not wait

for Her Majesty to finish her call!

“I’m Eugene. This is my second semester here.” Voodoo Child guy half-

smiled again, proudly.

“I’m Maureen. This is my first day here.” I replied expressionless.


I finally reached my destination. I took a seat and lo and behold, there was

Eugene asking me if he could take the seat next to me. I didn’t mind just as long

he didn’t bore me with the philosophical findings of Jim Morrison. It was going to

be a few minutes till the professor was scheduled to arrive. I took out a book and

started to read.


“You read French?” He pointed at my book.

“Not really.” I replied.

“You’re reading Pensées by Blaise Pascal.” He scoffed with a smile.

I ignored him.

I didn’t want to have this conversation with a stranger. I was French

educated for a few years. I didn’t want people knowing that especially in the

country I was living in at the time where many revered French speakers and

belittled English speakers, especially Americans, particularly ones with a heavy

Brooklyn accent. I had successfully oppressed that part of me for years. I was

bullied by classmates and teachers alike. I also did not like telling people that I

was American. I just let them assume that I went to an American school. Anyways,

that’s another story. I was reading Blaise Pascal that day because my friend Harry

had hooked me up to write a student’s paper. We both went to the same school

the year before graduating. He was my broker. In these situations, one would

need a middleman. No one knew who wrote the papers. They just knew Harry

provided. I paid him a good commission. It was a good arrangement. Any time a

student got caught, nothing would trace back to me. As for Harry, no idiot would

dare snitch on him. He would bring that person down and their whole family tree.

He was street smart and a good friend. We were on the same sports team at

school. We always had each other’s back.


Over the course of a few weeks, Eugene and I became friends. He knew I

wrote for the university’s poetry and short story section. He took on a part-time

job as a cashier at the supermarket I frequented near my favorite graveyard. We

would run into each other in the hallways or at the café on campus.


One day it stopped…


I never saw him again at the supermarket or on campus. He just

disappeared. Harry told me that Eugene had transferred to another university.

Word had it that he had a major problem with one of the professors. Knowing

Eugene’s short temper and disdain for many social norms, I wasn’t too surprised.


I ran into him one day at a rave. I was with a group of friends including

Harry. We went somewhere quiet to talk and he explained to me that he had

transferred and was at a university near where my parents lived. He just didn’t

feel comfortable at the former college. We exchanged numbers and we met a

few times for coffee. I would help him brainstorm for his marketing classes and I

got a history lesson about Jim Morrison in return.


A year and a half later, he landed a paid internship. He was promised a full-

time position upon the completion of his degree. We would still meet up and talk

writing and business. We would brainstorm about ideas for his final paper. He had

writer’s block and even without that, he could not put down his ideas properly on

paper. I almost always knew what he wanted to write because I was his friend and

I wrote other people’s papers. I found nothing wrong with helping him. Life was

good; I was getting paid to ghostwrite articles and a few literary pieces.


A few weeks passed after helping Eugene with his paper and I received a

phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. I picked up. New people call me all

the time either returning a phone call for jobs I’ve applied to or someone needing

a ghostwriter.


“Hello?” I greeted expecting to hear someone’s secretary.

“Allo, Am I speaking with Maureen?” The man with a light French accent.

“Yes, this is she.”


“I am sorry to bother you, Maureen. Let me introduce myself. My name is

Remington Scott. My understanding is that you are friends with an individual by

the name Eugene Dev. He is an employee in my office. I would like to meet with

you. I need to speak with you face to face.” He said.

“Is Eugene alright? I don’t understand.” I felt quite alarmed. I knew Eugene’s

family was trying to settle in Europe and was quite alone.

“No, Eugene is dandy. Nothing’s wrong.” He reassured me.

“Alright.” I took a deep breath.

“I just need to speak with you about some work, but I don’t want you calling

Eugene. I kindly ask you not to say anything to him at all. We did not have this

conversation because I can only presume you have never heard of me. Please.”

Okay…this was weird. Not alarmingly weird but weird.

I was always sworn to secrecy in my line of work albeit accounting, ghostwriting,

or hiding my friend’s pack of cigarettes from her parents. Nothing new to me. I

really didn’t know what to think. I did not want to betray a friend’s trust. I decided

to hear out what this well-spoken man had to say and then decide.

I agreed to meet Mr. Scott at an upscale café, frequented by businesspeople, on a

Friday. When I got there, I was led by a hostess to one of the outside tables on the

veranda. Mr. Scott was already there looking at what appeared to be a leather

portfolio. He stood up, shook my hand, and insisted I call him ‘Remington’.

Remington was in his early forties. A tall slender man who wore a crisp

Ralph Lauren shirt with Ferragamo loafers. He was a man who was incredibly

young at heart. Unlike the suit and ties around us, he was very casual.

After exchanging pleasantries, I asked Remington what was going on.

“I am going to cut to the chase. I am the COO of X franchise. It is a new franchise

in this country. I, currently, oversee the marketing and advertising till we hire a

marketing manager. It is not part of my job description but because I know this

franchise so well; my input is kind of important. Eugene is currently running this

small department with my help. He has an assistant and works in parallel with a

small advertising agency for our media communications.”


That sounded wonderful. I am sure Eugene put in a good word for me. Therefore,

Remington did not want me to call Eugene. This was probably an informal

interview. I didn’t want to jump into conclusions.

“Alright, that is good to hear. He is probably doing a good job. I don’t really

understand where I fit in this equation.” I said nervously.

He takes a sip of water and shifts his body towards me. He holds up his leather

portfolio, snaps it shut and places it in front of me.

“Our former marketing manager was running all the work by me. Like I have

mentioned before, I am well acquainted with the franchise. After a while,

something started to bug me. As I sifted through some hooks and campaigns, it

dawned upon me that Eugene was not being honest. He brought the first

campaign hook to us. Then, the second and then a whole marketing concept

which aligned perfectly with X’s corporate identity. The story and the writing

method were not his, no matter how much he tried to reword it. He wasn’t

fooling anyone with that dialect of English or the wittiness with those hooks.”

He motioned to me to open the leather portfolio that he had placed in front of

me. I opened it. There it was. Hours of my words and Eugene’s treachery glossed

on flyers, campaigns, and ads.

I showed no emotion, no disbelief, nothing. The work I had been helping

him with and the ideas I had been writing for him were for his job. Unbeknownst

to me, he had used his draft from a project I helped him with to get that job. It all

started coming together.


“Is he going to lose his job?” I asked.

“Well, I am ready to let him go because he is lazy and lied to me. What did you

study?”

“I have studied French literature and philosophy. I majored in Accounting and

studied Business Administration.”

“Ah, so you do have an idea about Marketing?”

“Of course, I do.”


“I want you to come to the office on Monday. I am offering you a job.”

“What about Eugene? This is crazy. I can’t do this.”

“Oh, he will be in the office. Don’t worry about him. He is going to think that he

helped you get this job.”

“How? Has he ever mentioned me?”

“Yes, how do you think I got your number? We were looking for a native speaker

for a future project. He told us about your literal contributions to the university

magazine. He gave us your contact information. A few days later, he said you had

left the university and changed your number. He claimed he couldn’t find you. Till

one day, I saw a copy of the university magazine on his desk. It was dog-eared on

an article you had written. I read it and you put two and two together. I decided

to call the number he had given me. What did I have to lose?”


Remington picks up the check and I just sit dumbfounded for the next half

hour. I started reliving every moment in my mind. To even think that I dragged

him home drunk once and put him to bed. I was nothing but a good friend.

I called Harry. He picked up on the first ring. I told him about the craziness

that just happened. He told me that he knew of Remington Scott. He had made

his mark in the industry as one of the top COOs. He also taught at a French

University. He had connections with all the movers and shakers. Harry wasn’t

surprised to hear about Eugene’s backstabbing endeavors. Harry knew everything

about everyone.


I woke up late Saturday morning only to find five missed calls from Eugene. No

texts. No voice messages. I called him back and after some small talk; he tells me

that he has helped me find a job.

“Maureen, I gave them your name and told them that you were a very trust-

worthy person. I told HR and the COO that I wanted you to be my marketing

assistant.” He said softly.


“Sure. No problem.” I answered.

“You don’t sound too excited. You will thank me later. You should take this

opportunity because you don’t have that much experience and it is a new

franchise. I will be able to teach you many things. Don’t worry.”

Who said I was worried?

I met him wide-eyed and bushy- tailed on a Monday morning in front of the

franchise’s head office. Did I mention that he also gave me a pep talk?


Eugene introduced me to Remington. He told Remington about how good I

was with ideas and writing but how I did not have practice in the marketing field

yet. He mentioned how he would teach me. I was supposed to feel rage. I did not.

I was not angry with Eugene. I felt nothing but pity towards him.

I was hired on the spot. Two weeks later, Eugene was let go.

He told all our friends, including Harry, how I stole his job from under his

nose.

How he got me this job and how his boss let him go…

That I was an unfaithful friend...

No one believed him. If they did, I didn’t care.

I knew in my consciousness that I did right by my friend. When you stab

someone in the back, there is going to be blood. The victim’s blood is going to

stain, and someone is bound to notice. Remington smelled that blood on my

Kreator t-shirt from a mile away like a bloodhound.

I went on to work at that franchise and another with Remington. We are

still friends till today and I will always have a high regard for him. And this is how I

started out as an accidental copywriter. Thank you, Mr. Remington Scott.


I did not want to hop on that gravy train.

I did not.

There is no gravy, yet we have a train.


A grave train…


See what I did there?


Screaming into a pillow for almost two weeks does that to a person. People dying left and right. Friends, distant relatives in other countries, patients, customers; have your pick.


Silent screams into my pillow. It is amazing how one can master the art of silent screams and sobs.

Sobs are inaudible spasmic contractions in one’s throat. You feel that tightening in your chest, the back of your throat constricted to a point where you cannot breathe. You cannot strangle yourself with your own bare hands to death; there is a part of your brain that won’t allow you to do that, therefore you involuntarily release your hands. Please don’t try this anywhere.


Studies claim screaming into a pillow alleviates stress and reduces negative feelings. Obviously, these studies have not taken white linen pillows that smell like bleach into consideration. Quite intoxicating I say. Yeah, I use a bit too much bleach after dying my hair indigo black. Alas, sue me! I bet I will have a few dry cleaning experts in my comments or inbox. Everyone is an expert online.


Don’t believe me?


I bet you my left enlarged thyroid and right imaginary nutsack that everyone on the internet is a doctor, nurse, lawyer, vet, military expert, arms expert, chef, construction worker, engineer, banker and is a PhD candidate writing a dissertation about Mahler’s Symphony no.5. Everyone is an expert. Everyone is an expert on mental health. Ah, you didn’t know? Check your Instagram for all the “Life Coaches”, “Wellness Experts” and “Mental Health Awareness Gurus” online. They follow thousands of people in troves just to unfollow. No matter how much you interact with these people. They will unfollow. I’ll tell you. They don’t care about anyone. Mental health has become the money-making Hallmark Card of people’s well-being. That is dangerous; no different than taking meds or eating something you shouldn’t.


No, this is not a rant. Just an observation.


Whoever is reading this blog, if someone’s social media has been inactive for a few weeks, reach out to that person. It is remarkably simple. No need to be a “Mental Health Specialist” or a rocket scientist to give it a second thought. I am not referring to emotional vampires, abusive people and fair-weathered friends. This is my second PSA in this article. Welcome to 2020.


I want to know where these internet experts get their fast-tracked degrees. I feel like a complete dunce most of the time. Here I am sticking to things that I know. I get it. I am too comfortable admitting that I don’t know enough about something to form an opinion. Might as well take me to that back and shoot me. I, for one, have fallen victim to acquaintances who suffer from The Dunning-Kruger Effect.


Nevertheless, the best experts out there are people without children. Have I mentioned that everyone is a great parent with a fluorescent halo before having kids? Those are my favorite type. Unsolicited advice about wiping a child’s snot to a kid throwing a tantrum in a video. All those diagnoses from different types of internet medical experts. Try doing tequila shots while going through comments. Each new diagnosis, you take a shot. One would be drunk by the fourth commentator.



As I finish writing this, I will go back to screaming into my pillow or maybe have my neighbors listen to the new My Dying Bride album with me. I have yet to listen to it and form an opinion. Maybe I’ll go online later and argue with a few experts like myself. Didn’t you know? I have a degree in Mosh Pitting and Head Banging. Take that, Pillow-Screaming!



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It was a normal day when I decided to upload a picture with an excerpt from my book on one of my social media platforms. It pertained to my protagonist’s footwear and an excerpt from one of Twice The Demise’s chapters. I quoted the following: “What I considered a career, you considered a fault.” This statement was uttered by Polly, the protagonist, to a former beau. They ran into each other (like we all do with our exes) and, terse but not unkind, words were exchanged. He could not accept the fact that she was working with the dead. The unconventional job of an undertaker was one of the major reasons for their fall-out.

Not giving it a second thought, I posted and went on my merry way. The post received likes and maybe a comment. Lo and behold, my inbox had over twenty messages. Followers, from readers to friends, were in my DMs telling me stories relating to this statement. I wondered, if one related so much to this, why not comment publicly? It was a fair question. I was no relationship expert. The common answer they all had was -they didn’t want to openly share their experiences on Instagram. Most of these people had public accounts with their exes always lurking with a ‘finsta’. I learned that a Finsta is a fake Instagram account mostly used by people who no longer are in your life but still want to know what is going on with you…. complicated much? Followers did not want these people to know how much it still hurt. Social mores kind of dictates that with airing out one’s dirty laundry. I get it.


You may love the idea of dating a doctor, but can you handle their hours? How about a ballroom dancer who has to be in close proximity to the opposite sex all the time? How about an artist who paints naked portraits? An undertaker who reeks of death? I gave a few extreme examples due to their social allure. These career paths exude some type of charm and whimsicalness but become repulsive to our significant other. The realization of the work and dedication these careers entail may be a rude wakening. The significant other begins to view our lifestyle as a burden to their insecurities. Alas, the curse of romanticizing everything!


This is no different than wanting a wedding but not a marriage. Wanting to beat Joey Chestnut without a commitment to gastritis. Wanting to bear children but not parent them. Wanting to have a house but not being able to keep up with the mortgage. The list is endless. In a nutshell, we want what we can’t have and sometimes have what we can’t handle; or what we thought we could handle.


To all the exes….

No, my career is not your cross to bear.

Don’t go laying your insecurities on my cross.

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