Cold Stone Schemery: Part 2

“But Kevin,” you might say. “Surely your scheming and sidequesting in real life isn’t all that absurd.”

“Oh really?” I would counter. “To illustrate, maybe it would be helpful to know that once, upon discovering that I hated my job, my solution was to dress up like an 17th-century samurai.” Which is entirely factually true, and I can produce witnesses if needed.

The thinking was this.

I convened a mental board of directors meeting on the state of my job satisfaction. All board members were present and agreed that the situation was dire. Id, Ego, Superego, That Weird Part That’s Always Telling You to Jump When You’re In High Places: it was a unanimous vote–I disliked my job intensely. Now, on to the solution. Certainly, a scheme was in order. And certainly, that scheme would have to be sidequestrian in nature. If Jackie Gleason and Zelda are both on board, you can’t be wrong–the board reasoned. So, how might one deal with a terrible job in the most roundabout way possible?

Well. If you aren’t happy with your job, you need to find a new one, right? BUT, if you’re unhappy with your job, you’re coming home drained, depressed, and chock full of malaise–Jimmy Carter levels of malaise. And that’s not a state that you can effectively look for a job in. After all, looking for a new job is basically a job in and of itself, and the only thing worse than having a job you hate is having two jobs you hate; that’s just simple math.

So…How can I come home and be a little bit more peaceful so that I can start my second job of searching for a second job? I am an avid fan of Japanese culture, so I thought, “traditional Japanese culture is all about peace and harmony” (there may or may not have been alcohol helping to paint this broad-brushed sketch; I won’t confirm or deny). “Maybe all I need to do is Japanese up my room some; turn it into a real Asian Oasis.” And so the scheme began.

First thing’s first: let there be (better) light. I replaced my harsh overhead light with rice-paper lanterns to create a more calming atmosphere. I bought three different kinds because having all the same type of lantern is, of course, less calming.

Next, I tried to spruce up the floor. Fake hardwood is fine and all, but not as peaceful as a mat made out of dead grass. So my next step was to buy a goza mat.Gassho This mat did indeed feel amazing, and if looking for a job was a task that only required my feet, they’d have been ready right then. Sadly though, I’m not able to type, view web pages, or process neural impulses with my feet, yet–so I had to press on.

Then I realized how important it is to be able to enter in to the Asian Oasis. Right now, my entry consisted of a garbage Western door with the ability to slam–one of the least harmonious words, unless you’re pairing it with the word “jam” and also the words “everybody get up it’s time to (slam) now, we got a real (jam) goin’ down, welcome to the Space (Jam).” So my next important acquisition was a noren entry curtain, held up by a timelessly elegant $8 Amazon Tension Rod.

But once I had entered into the Asian Oasis, I realized that most of the room was still woefully un-Asian. When I looked around, I still saw my stressful Western dresser and my bed with the denim comforter I’d had since college. Not a problem that a shoji folding screen and some decorative floor pillows can’t fix, though.

At this point, you can probably imagine that I was getting very close to being ready to look for another job so I could quit the job that I didn’t like. But also as you can probably imagine, I wasn’t quite there. Because while I could see very peaceful things, I couldn’t hear them. Outside my window, it was still all sirens and stray cats and domestic disputes. So I bought a Japanese water fountain (called a shishiodoshi, or deer chaser),


Which needed a bowl to sit in,


Which needed stones in it so it wasn’t just an empty bowl,


Which needed a grate to sit on because I was too cheap to buy enough stones to fill the entire bowl,


All of which needed a bench to sit on because it wasn’t very soothing sitting on the floor,

Bamboo Bench

Which needed a lantern on it as well so it didn’t look like the only reason I bought a huge bench was to put a water fountain on.


Acquiring all of which made me very peaceful, which I’m sure you’ve gathered.

And yet.

I was surrounded by a very peaceful atmosphere. Sidequest completed. Scheme executed. But who was the me who was surrounded by this peaceful Asian Oasis? It was a very dismal man–that may be a little generous–a very dismal male dressed in a “Chautauqua Laser Tag” t-shirt and baggy shorts. This is not peaceful apparel. This is not job-search apparel. And so, I obtained all of this:

Which, to save you some Googling of a bunch of Japanese words, is the traditional garb of a 17th-century Japanese samurai, complete with under-robe, over-robe (kimono), jacket, pleated pants, socks, and a sword because both it and I were on Amazon at 2 AM. And at last, my friends, I was at peace.

So I started looking for a job, right? Sort of! If by “look for a job” you mean “host a Japanese tea ceremony for my roommates,” that is exactly what I did!

Later on, my now-wife married me in spite of a weird Japan obsession I had, and she strongly encouraged me to actually look for a new job, which I did, and then interviewed for, and then got. So you see? The scheme paid off.


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