Monthly Archives: March 2015

Creativity Will Save the World, Pt. 7

April is National Poetry Month, and that means this story’s going on hold as I “write” “poems” for thirty “days.” Don’t worry, though. I’ll be back to finish it in May!

Things only got worse as the week went on, my coworkers all becoming more and more insufferable. Once word had spread of Lisa’s dream board, people flocked from every department to view it. She worked on the thing feverishly, copying it onto a piece of poster board which she hung within her cubicle, expanding it with sticky notes and pieces of paper and pins and string, eventually turning her entire wall into a makeshift mural. The crowds gathered round and nodded and murmured . They applauded Lisa for her creativity and they vowed to make their own dream boards, and they applauded themselves for their creativity.

I pointed out that there was nothing creative about everyone thinking and acting the same, let alone copying Lisa’s idea, but I was ignored.

The dream boards became more elaborate. Gabe gave his ridiculous presentation with assistants wearing spandex full-body suits doing interpretive dance. The investors were thoroughly unimpressed, but he just stood there and smiled until the meeting was over. The CEO came up to him after and praised him for his creativity and gave him a promotion and a raise, and that was when I decided that it was time for me to quit the company.

Before I could, however, Richard from accounting stabbed Meagan the HR lady.

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Creativity Will Save the World, Pt. 6

I stared at my friend in silence, her face a motionless smiling mask. It took me a few moments to realize that she was expecting a serious response to her question, that she wasn’t joking about Dr. Shiny’s “speech.” “Uh, no,” I said. “I haven’t forgotten.”

Her smile grew wider. “Of course not. How could you? ‘Creativity will save the world.’ My God. What a genius, you know? Just… No one ever thinks about it that way. It’s so simple, but it isn’t. How do you even come up with that, you know?”

I gave a noncommittal grunt. “What are you working on?” I asked with a nod towards the legal pad she’d been covering with her writings and drawings. Her smile became a full grin, and she held the pad out to me with both hands, a child eagerly presenting a piece of art and ready to be praised.

“Dream board. What do you think?”

“A what?”

“A dream board! You know. You write down your dreams and hopes and goals, and you make a road map of how to accomplish them, and through sheer force of will and by invoking the name of Bematis the Wanderer, you manifest the reality you wish to experience. I mean, duh. Come on.”

I blinked in confusion for a few seconds, then shook my head. “Yeah. Duh.”

“So what do you think?”

The dream board, if lunatic scribblings on a piece of paper can be called a board, was an indecipherable mess. Lisa’s handwriting was sloppier than I’d ever seen it, alternating wildly between cramped and looping, occasionally broken up by meaningless flourishes and arabesques that served no discernible purpose. There were drawings of humans and animals, lone words dotted about the page (FLY and HAPPINESS and MEAT and CREATIVITY furiously underlined and circled.) There were lines and arrows and circles and the whole thing had the appearance of a flowchart that went nowhere.

“It’s… really something,” I said before smiling and offering the legal pad back to Lisa.

She smiled and nodded appreciatively, as if I’d merely confirmed something she’d already known.

There was nothing else to say or do. I excused myself and went back to my desk.


Creativity Will Save the World, Pt. 5

The rest of the week was Hell.

I sat at my desk and listened as my coworkers flitted around like overactive birds. They spoke excitedly of their projects and their assignments, work that they’d spoken of just days before with tones and enthusiasm usually reserved for root canals and colonoscopies. Suddenly every meeting was important, every presentation a chance to shine, every last menial task an opportunity to flex their full creative faculties. I heard grown men and women talk about animated gifs and stickers and slides and audience engagement, and I was sickened and alienated all at the same time.

Even Lisa was no comfort to me. I lingered by her desk after a trip to the water cooler, smirking and ready to talk trash with her. I found her sitting with her head down and a pen in her hand, furiously scribbling and doodling on a legal pad. “Hey, you’re not going to believe what I heard Gabe talking about the other day. He said he was going to–”

She just turned and gave me a look angry enough to stop me mid-sentence. “You weren’t going to say something negative about Gabe’s idea, I hope.”

“Is it negative if I say that it was ridiculous?”

“Yes. I won’t have you bringing negativity into my environment.”

I frowned. “You didn’t even let me finish., You know the investor’s meeting? He wants to bring in guys in costumes for it. Like it’s a kid’s birthday party or something. Can you believe that?”

Lisa sniffed. “I think it’s a wonderful idea. It’ll be fun. They won’t be expecting it. It’ll brighten their day. Make a really positive change, you know?”

I felt my lips twist in derision. “Have you ever seen an investor’s meeting before? The only thing that brightens their day is nude serving boys bringing them silver trays full of money and cocaine.”

Lisa rolled her eyes and smiled. “I’m sure. I think they’ll see things Gabe’s way once he gives his presentation. Or have you forgotten Dr. Shiny’s speech already?”

Oh, my God, I thought. She thinks I’m the crazy one.


Creativity Will Save the World, Pt. 4

An uneasy feeling came over me. Everyone in the room but myself was either clapping like they’d just watched their favorite team win the World Series, the Super Bowl, and the NBA Finals all at once, or else they were weeping with the joy of a devout Christian who’d opened their front door to find Jesus standing there inviting them out for pizza. I’m ashamed to admit it now, but my first reaction was to look around and wonder if I’d missed something. Had I misheard Dr. Shiny? Was the nonsense he’d had to say actually profound and just lost on me? Was there something wrong with me that kept me from being moved as my coworkers had been? I felt like a heathen at a revival, looking around nervously and wondering if the reactions of the people around me was genuine or an act, if I was fundamentally broken in some way that kept me from relating to them. I clapped weakly and glanced back towards the stage, waiting to see if the good doctor would do something more meaningful.

He didn’t. His arms dropped and he swayed on his feet for a few moments before suddenly jumping, startled by seemingly nothing. He looked around in confusion, seeing the room and its inhabitants for the first time, then mumbled, “Creativity will save the world” with a note of desperation in his voice, as if he was pleading with us to understand him, to believe him.

The crowd roared their applause. Dr. Shiny shrunk back. With the demeanor of a kicked dog, he walked off the side of the stage, glancing backwards over his shoulder as if afraid we’d give chase.

The CEO walked back on stage, a beatific smile on his face, his hand rising to wipe pooled tears from the corner of his eyes. “Thank you, Dr. Shiny! Thank you so much for your time!” The crowd cheered and clapped. The CEO raised his hands to silence them and the crowd hushed almost instantly. “I think we’ve all been given something very special here today, and it’s up to us to go out and make the most of it.”

He walked away then. The crowd stood up, stretched, chattered excitedly. Lisa turned to me and smiled. “Wow. I didn’t think… Dr. Shiny looked… Wow.” She smiled wider. This was the happiest I’d ever seen her, I realized. “How often can you point at something and say, “That was it. That was life-changing. That’s where everything changed for me.”

“Not often, I guess,” I offered weakly. Our coworkers pushed past us. Returning to their desks with renewed determination and purpose. Lisa turned and joined them. I lagged behind.


Creativity Will Save the World, Pt. 3

Lisa nudged me with her elbow and hissed for me to shush, the grin on her face betraying her true feelings. “Hey, he’s about to talk. Come on, you don’t want to miss this.”

Dr. Shiny stepped forward, his gaze empty and indeterminate. His tongue snaked across his lips and he slowly raised his hands up towards the ceiling, his entire arms trembling as he did so.

“Jesus, he’s going to pass out,” I muttered. “My demented, palsied grandfather looked healthier than this guy.”

His lips opened, shut again. He wet them with his tongue. He stared at something above and beyond us. Finally, with a surge of energy, he straightened his arms and his entire body, and he called out, his voice booming so loud that all of us jumped in our chairs.

“Creativity will save the world!” he cried out. “Creativity will save the world. Creativity will save the world. Creativity will save the world. Creativity will save the world.”

Shiny’s arms dropped to his sides, his tremors worse than ever before. His outburst seemed to have taken all of the energy out of him. There was some uncertain applause from the front of the room, and a bit more that followed it. The longer people clapped, the more sincere it all seemed to sound. The corporate drones went from clapping out of obligation to clapping out of solidarity. Shiny, pulled back to Earth once more from whatever distant realms his brain had been inhabiting, raised a finger and admonished us once more that creativity would save the world, and this time his revelation was met with cheers and whistles.

I glanced around the room at my clapping coworkers and shook my head. I leaned over, ready to whisper into Lisa’s ear, but hesitated as I drew close. I’d expected her to be leaning towards me as well, smirking and rolling her eyes and ready to banter.

Instead, she was staring ahead with rapt attention, tears falling from her eyes, the fingers of her hands dug into her legs, too moved even to clap.


Creativity Will Save the World, Pt. 2

What, is the speaker a total tool? A douchebag?”

Lisa shook her head. “He’s like the opposite. I mean, I took one look at him and I want to beat him up for his lunch money, you know?”

I snickered. The idea of five-foot-nothing pacifist Lisa doing anything more aggressive than being snarky was absurd in and of itself, let alone her acting like a high school bully in a bad teen movie.

“The guy didn’t even speak when they introduced him. The big boss just walked on-stage, gave a speech about how this guy was going to paradigm shift our dynamic and blah blah, and then called him out. And then the guy staggers out like he’s drunk or on drugs or something.”

I arched an eyebrow at that. The CEO of the company was notorious for being damn near humorless. Office parties were utterly staid affairs when he was around out of the fear that drunken antics might result in a pink slip the next Monday. I couldn’t imagine that he’d have chosen to present us with a speaker as seemingly incompetent as Lisa had said.

“So then what happened?”

“The boss claps him on the back and gladhands and all of that stuff, and then the guy walks off stage and they show us the video.”

“What was the video?”

“I don’t know. Some bullshit. I don’t even remember.”

Up on the stage, a mid-level manager I didn’t recognize was trying to lead the room in a cheer and failing miserably. After a minute of prattle and forced enthusiasm, she finally ceded the floor to the guest speaker, Dr. Wyatt Shine. Or “Shiny,” to his friends.

He was a small man, both short and painfully thin. Emaciated would have been one way to describe. Diseased. Worm-infested, even. He wore large dark-framed glasses that made his own eyes look sunken and hollow, which coupled with the pallor of his skin and the unflattering interior lighting to make his head look something like a skull. His clothes were painfully ill-fitting, tight in some places and loose in others and giving him the distinct air of being lumpy. Tumorous, perhaps. And just as Lisa had said, he swayed and stumbled on his feet, drunk or drugged or possibly just brain damaged.

Frankly, looking at the man made me feel insulted that the company was wasting my time with this nonsense. The dim awareness in the back of my head that he likely made four times my annual salary didn’t help, either.

“There is no way that man’s a doctor,” I muttered under my breath.


Creativity Will Save the World, Pt. 1

Inspired by a conversation with a friend about their writing group.

It was a Monday when it all began, I think. It was definitely early in the week, certainly no later than Wednesday, possibly Tuesday, but it makes more sense if it was a Monday.

After all. Terrible things usually happen on Mondays.

I came into work late that day, at once anxious and utterly indifferent. There was a team-building exercise that we were all expected to be present for, but said exercise was not real work. If I arrived too late to learn how to properly give my coworkers the warm hugs and camaraderie du jour, I was fine with that. This was not the first team-building exercise my company had undertaken, and it would certainly not be the last.

I slipped into the meeting room as quietly as possible, grateful that the company and the room were both large enough that my opening the door to squeeze past its frame would go unnoticed. Save for the people closest to the door. And anyone at the front of the room who happened to be facing the crowd as I opened it. Like the executives of the company and whoever happened to be leading the meeting, for example.

Lisa was there at the back of the room, an empty seat next to her and a bored look on her face, the old habits of college and high school before it dying hard. I squeezed a few people that I worked closely enough with to know their names and some I had never seen before and would likely never see again and sat down next to her.

“Hey.”

“You’re late.”

“Yep.”

“And underdressed.”

“You’re stating the obvious again.”

She smirked, amused at herself and at my humility and at how sharply attired she was relative to myself (and, to be fair, the majority of the office) all at once. I settled comfortably into my seat and took a deep breath. It was a Monday like any other despite the team-building nonsense. The day would pass and others would follow it and soon enough it would be the weekend and then the whole cycle would repeat. There was something comforting in the banality of it all.

“So what I’d miss?” I whispered to Lisa.

Her smirk grew into a grin. “Oh, God. Just wait. You’ve got to see this guy to believe it.”


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