The Sapient Ape

Life as an employed MBA grad during an economic recovery. DISCLAIMER: Everything written here is fiction.

The Drug Dealer

The drugs I deal...

Just a sec… let me just dust this blog off…. pssshhhh, psssshhhh, psssshhhh.

There… all fresh, just like new.  Special plice… just fol you!

I come back here after three months and find, scarily, that my hits are still at around 70 a day.  Don’t you people have lives?

So I haven’t written in months — being in a secure job, with a secure non-existent girlfriend, and having no monetary security makes one too content to post one’s angst ridden diatribes on the internet.

Oh wait… I just realized I still have plenty of causes for angst.  On we go then!

So I got this job — I deal drugs to foreigners.  At least that’s what I say to my acquaintances.  In reality, I’m the international business manager at a large pharmaceutical in Bangladesh.  I mean in some ways its very ironic (in so many ways, I won’t even get into ’em all).  Pharma — my dad’s industry, and the industry which I rejected job offers from not too long ago in places like Belgium (but who wants to live there anyway — I actually much prefer Bangladesh, still), from companies like J&J.  But here I am.  Mainly coz of my CEO.  I report directly to him, and he’s pretty awesome.  I’ve never felt like I wanted to be a part of a company, and really work for it and take it as far as it (and I) can go before.  In my previous jobs, I felt like a faceless corporate tool, cogging the machine (and sometimes jamming it up).  Motivation was hard to come by.

Now I’m finally in my element — someone took a chance on me and put me in a leadership position, and I’m up to the challenge (at least I think so — I could get fired tomorrow, but that would be a surprise, from what I see of the quality of manager-level human resources here).  I love it — I love the risks associated with decision making, and I’m not scared to make them.  I’ve always been a risk taker, but usually its been in my private life.  Don’t get me wrong — the risks I took, even in my personal life, were measured ones.  But now I can actually shape long-term strategy by suggesting new (and sometimes risky) courses of action.  I can make things happen — with my CEO’s OK of course — after all, this is still Bangladesh, and every company is a one-man show — although I’d like to think that I make it a 1.25 man show.

That’s me — Mr. 0.25.  But what’s not to love about this job — not only do I report directly to the CEO of a $50 million dollar company, handling $1.2 million worth of business (I hope to increase that to over 2 million this year), but I get to travel and have people underestimate me because of my age and my lack of pharma experience.  I love being underestimated.  Watch that it doesn’t smack you in the ass later.  My dad said an interesting thing the other day.

“Misha you’ll do well here because you’re very easy going.”

“But, baba (dad in Bengali), I also don’t take no shit.”

“And that’s why you succeed — most people here either are too easy going or too demanding.  You are both.”

I walk the fine line of being nice, but being an asshole.  The nice asshole, that’s me.  You’ve all heard me say it before, or read it in between the lines of my blog, or been subject to it in the form of my caustic humor, after which I quickly say “Just kidding, ha ha ha, I didn’t really mean that.”   Even tho I did.  My psychologist friend once said that there’s no such thing as a joke. Fuckin’ shrinks.

...and the drugs I don't.

So yeah — I get a free hand (to some extent), to grow the department and my business as I see fit, and I’m not one to sit around — put me in a position where I can succeed, and I’ll take it as far as I can go.  And drag you all with me, whether you like it or not.  I’m gonna tear shit up and make shit happen.  That’s the American way.

In some ways, this recession was the best thing that could have happened to me — instead of being put into a mid-level managerial position where I would slog out another 3 years before I really made a difference to anyone, I was forced to come back to Bangladesh where the quality of the educated workforce was so low, that I look like a star!  Score!  Its strange — I’m really content to be here for some time — these days, in our fast-paced professional world, its often tough to find an opportunity like that.  The only complaint I have is that there aren’t enough women around here. But maybe that’s a good thing.  I’ve always had a soft spot for the ladies.

Filed under: Career, Personal, traveling, , , , , , ,

The Sickly-Sweet Smell of Success

I was gonna put a picture of rotting flesh with maggots in it to go along with the theme of my title for this post, but the pics I found were too sick even for me, so here's a sunflower.  Use ur imagination.

I was gonna put a picture of rotting flesh with maggots in it to go along with the theme of my title for this post, but the pics I found were too sick even for me, so here's a sunflower. Use ur imagination.

The measure of success is a fickle baking powder.

Only 4 scant weeks ago, I blindly sucked dirt at the bottom of Depression Ocean, not able to go out to family and outer-family functions without feeling like the leper I see every day on the road to Baridhara.  Today I walked in the hero returned from a glorious victory against the infidel hordes.

So what brought about this change in Bangladeshi “high”-society’s perception of me?  I got a job.

And I hate it.  Not the job, that’s pretty awesome.  But when I see those smiles from moms, aunts and great aunts, their giggles as they discuss me, I want to puke.  Not ‘coz I begrudge them their happiness, but it bothers me that my societal success is measured more by what multinational corporation I help to deface the planet than any intention I may have of doing something with my own initiative that may be better in the long run for my psychological well-being.

‘Coz that’s the measure of a man in Bangladesh — can he bring home the bacon?  Does he have those family values (ie., money, risk-averseness, and settling for less than he’s happy with for the sake of “family”).  But then again I guess that’s the measure of a man anywhere.  Oh society, why did u curse me with a penis?  Luckily for me, the alternative’s much worse.  Oh god (he-who-I-may-not-believe-in) thank you for making me a man.

Don’t get me wrong — my job’s great.  I think its a perfect fit for me, and I think I’ll be good at it.  Most of all, I like the peoplez I’m workin’ with, from the top level down.

But when I look at those moms’ and aunts’ beaming smiles I can’t help but wonder whether I preferred it the other way around. Whether I preferred the whispered jabs and darting looks.  I’m more comfortable in the role of the pariah, the underdog, the unwanted one, the undead, than otherwise.  I’m better off hated, thought of as a failure.  For “success”, or more accurately, comfort — begets complacency.  And I’m way too young to let myself get complacent (see “World Domination Plans — TOP SECRET“).

Nowadays, I find myself leaving family dinners even quicker, using my little nephew’s crying as an excuse to leave as early as possible.  Its an excuse that I’ve seen my sister and bro-in-law use more than once, and I’m a quick learner.  Staying a minute longer than dinner cloys the mouth.

But I’ll play their little game.  Let them try and set me up with their supposed “matches”, now that I am a viable candidate for marriage.  And then I’ll love ’em and leave ’em.  OK, I’ll probably just reject ’em before I even meet ’em.

I do have standards, you know.  All these girls are way too smart and educated for me.  Give me the equivalent of a Bangladeshi “dumb blonde”.  With a nice body.  Hopefully she never got past high school (gimmee an OLP — O-level pash (pass), as my sis says).  I’ve seen too many young Bangladeshi couple’s marriages totaled in a messy affair-ridden divorce to want the same for myself.  My relationships are tumultuous enough (not that I’d trade that — its the spice of wife).

Society here is too boring, hypocritical, and small-minded, and Bengali women are too controlling with just a too much of a splash of insanity for most new marriages to last (yes, the men are to blame as well, probably to a greater degree, but being a man myself, I choose to blind myself to their faults for the purposes of this piece).  I would complain about your upper-class bourgeois members of high society not being able to commit to one person for longer than a few years, but I see just as many divorces among the middle class, so I’m forced to admit that its something deeper.  It’s actually quite amazing how many divorced couples I know of.  If we were conservative Arabs we wouldn’t have this problem.

But shit, like I said.  I like mah women like I like my crazies — crazy.

Was this whole piece just one big contradiction?   Yesno.

Filed under: Personal, , , , , , , , , , ,

World Domination Plans [TOP SECRET]

I like to tell myself (and now others), that if I lived to be a thousand years old, by the end of my life I’d be the King of the World (that’s a real title, people — just ask Genghis or Alexander).  Thats the watered-down old-man version.  When I was younger it was just “rule the world within one life-span.”  I’ve changed, man… I used to be cool.

Its quite amazing how much they remind me of Bush and Cheney now, naaaaarf.

Its quite amazing how much they remind me of Bush and Cheney now, naaaaarf.

Megalomaniacal?  Well I did watch a lot of Pinky and the Brain during college through a veil of acrid smoke, so maybe that warped me — although I’m sure we can look back and find some pre-5-year-old event that did most of the warping.  Lets not try to find out what that was right now though.

Is it even as complicated as that?   As omnivores, we humans have always walked (upright, most of the time) a fine line between our subhuman urge to hunt and kill, and our desire to settle down and lead a sedentary lifestyle (or “gather” even tho I’m aware that technically “gather” doesn’t involve cultivation).  Once we settled down more permanently and formed civilizations, that pent-up male frustration had to go somewhere, and it did.  It went into raping, killing and conquering each other.  I was going to point out a few historical examples, but there are so many that if I just say, “Remember __________?”, the blank is more than likely to refer to some violent event in human history.

By late in the 20th Century, our civilization as a whole had pretty much come to condemn and abhor violence (I am well aware of the inherent irony of what I’m saying here, but lets generalize for the sake of argument), especially on a geopolitical scale, so that it was no longer considered OK to kill millions just to get more stuff.  Our killer instinct had to be once more focused onto something other than the pursuit of blood.  And so it was, onto the pursuit of money.  And so here we are today.  And here I am.

I could point to a host of other supposed hypotheses on why I’m power-hungry, anything from having a pushy South-Asian know-it-all mom to feeling insecure about my family’s net worth next to so many of my peers.  But I tend to be  a complicated person ruled by simple needs.  And this one’s as simple as “Hulk, Smash!”

Why does this turn me on?  Or at least make my mouth water... hmm I'm getting confused.  More on food porn later.

Why does this turn me on? Or at least make my mouth water... hmm I'm getting confused. More on food porn later.

Of course, my thirst for world domination is somewhat tempered (more than somewhat) by the need for me to have my cake and eat it too — to live in the moment rather than think only about the future.  It is often difficult for me to sacrifice assured present pleasure for potential future gain.  I guess this is both my greatest barrier to success as well as the single personality trait I possess which is the most responsible for my well-being and happiness.  Without it I would probably wallow in misery and depression, rather than just pretending to wallow in it, as I do in this blog.

But as I get older, I get more conservative, and even wonder whether I shouldn’t have made more of these sacrifices than I did.   But then I just tell myself to shut up.  And adjust my world-domination schedule accordingly in Microsoft Project.  I”m not one for regrets… move on and plan accordingly.

That being said, part of my soul still lies on a secluded beach in the Balearic Isles, watching the sun loiter across the cloudless sky, drinking claras, and listening to the wind carrying the sounds of local DJs down the beach.  Maybe someday, the rest of me can be convinced to join it.

For now, must take stuff over.

Filed under: Personal, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Bones About Bonuses

So I noticed a recent divergence of viewpoints between a close friend of mine who’s been working in banking since 2008, and myself, who’s been working in, well…

Yeah.  That.

This difference came to my attention when I noticed his FB status retorting angrily on the fact that the media had scapegoated the AIG execs for taking their substantial bonuses after being bailed out.

cute? yes.  disturbing?  yes.  but also LOADED!

cute? yes. disturbing? yes. but also LOADED!

And here I am, thinkin’, “man I hate those damn rich fat cats who don’t care for us common folk,” bla bla bla.  “How dare they take that tax money that I haven’t been paying for the last 3 years — my hard-unearned tax money that I worked so unhard for.”

Good ol’ #####, stander-upper for the common man, the proletariate lover, good ol’ #####.

And then it struck me — I’m standing up for ’em coz I AM ONE OF THEM.  I AIN’T GOT NO CASH AND NO ASSETS.  I ain’t got shit on me but a half-decent brain, a good amount of heart, and even more debt.  Ladies?  Anyone?  Going twice…

I wonder if this is how my parents started off being hippies… oh noooz I’m reliving their lives!!!

This MBA is starting to look like a worse and worse idea.  I’m gonna be paying those damn loans off for a long, long time unless I kill myself.  Then my mom gets to pay coz she cosigned.  Hah!  Vengeance from beyond the grave!

I think a sigh is in order here.  Sigh.

K I’ve digressed into self-pity interspersed with moments of self-loathing, as well as a touch of general hatred (slowly seething) for all humanity.

So yea, if things had gone differently, would I be the one who would feel victimized for being blamed for hoarding taxpayer money?  Could I be that haughty millionaire, squinting at the rabble through my monocle, while checking the hour on my gold pocket watch, as the world came crashing down around my gold Rolls?  That’s an interesting question.  I always consider myself highly adaptable mentally — so maybe instead of adapting to my current low-brow everyman syndrome, my mental state of being would be adapted to that fantastical state of being where I might have been a New York banker, complete with bad attitude, loathing for everyone else, M5 and hot blonde girlfriend… ‘cept I prefer brunettes.  No gentleman is he, that sitteth here.

Is that really the measure of a man — a car and a girl?   Ummm, yeah pretty much.  Maybe what video game systems he has as well.

A visual representation of my worldly assets.

A visual representation of my worldly assets.

Off-topic once again — so yeah, I could probably see myself in my friend’s shoes, and even thinking along the same lines as my friend.  The old capitalistic “It’s mine and I worked hard for it” line was one that I professed to quite strongly way back when (only a freakin’ year ago?!?!  It feels like a serious eternity).  And still do.  I believe very much in the right of an individual to amass as much private wealth as he can.  Amass as much wealth as he can, yes.  But doesn’t that give one a responsibility to the rest of society to do something good and worthwhile — or at least to help others get the same opportunities?

I guess the table I now sit at is so much lower down than that of those AIG execs, that I’d like to think that had I been in their position, I might have actually felt guilty about taking that money, as the world came crashing down.  Or at least been scared of getting caught.

Or I’d like to think that I would feel the same way as I do now even if I sat at the big-papa table, because the values that my “hippy” parents have instilled in me aren’t socialist or capitalist, but… human.

I’d like to think that, anyway.

Filed under: Personal, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is the Recession Killing My Drive?

Settling.

I once had a friend say, “Misha, never settle.”  Whether in relationships or in life in general, I have always taken his words to heart.

But now, I find myself wondering.  At almost 33, unemployed and in debt, with only an education and some good experience to show for it, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better for me to take the easy road.

If this last year has taught me one thing, its that I am definitely ready for some stability.  So much so, that I might give up lofty dreams and perhaps even ideals for it.  Its been tough being homeless (even tho my family has totally been there for me), and not having the freedom of an income.  I never appreciated it so much, and for some independence, I’m willing to give up more than I was before.

I’ve had to significantly re-adjust my expectations during this time, going from expecting a 6-figure plus salary and bein’ a success in my own eyes to just wanting to make enough to get a place of my own.  Pretty serious change, eh?

Going through a psychological readjustment of such a degree has to have some form of adverse affect on one.  So why am I not feeling the pressure that much?  Is it my not caring syndrome that is letting me live with myself?

But there has been an adverse effect.  I think for me, that has become the need for stability in one facet of my life, whether my career, my relationship (or lack thereof), or my psyche.  I seem to think (and perhaps rightly so) that if I can find one of those, the others will follow.

I have always seen myself as a risk-taker, and in some ways its one of my greatest strengths — to try, fail, and then go on as if nothing has happened.  I am somewhat scared of losing that at this moment.  That the instability in my own life created by this recession and my subsequent unemployment has made me more risk-averse, and willing to well…

Settle.

Ouch that kinda hurts.

I still can’t let go of the dreams of world domination.  I just want too much still from this life.

But how little a thing can change that forever?  Perhaps my new nephew already has.

Filed under: Personal, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Masturbation, Self-promotion, or Flagellation?

flagella

Flagellation

Here it is — my “Why did I start a blog?” post.  Or did I do that one already?  Today, since  I hit 145 hits on this blog in a single day, I’ve decided its time to try and answer that question.

So, why is it that I started this blog?  Was it a desperate cry for attention?  A thinly veiled attempt to garner some sympathy from my peers for my current predicament (which actually ain’t so bad!)?  Am I trying to get a job?  Or do I just have a big ego?

All of these could be true.  And probably are, to varying degrees.

A couple of months ago, my sister, mom and I were having our usual daily family spat, when my sis said to me, “You know you really have a problem with showing us that you care about anything.”  That very poignant truth caused in me a lot of self-reflection.

To many of you, what she said may sound like the opposite of what you know about me.  I seem so emotionally colorful, always smiling and shit.  Good ol’ “Mr. Party!”  Always down for a drink and a laugh, right?  “Hey we want to do something totally banal and surface-level?  Lets go out and get wasted with #####.”  But thats just the superficial side of me.  My public persona.

In reality, I am extremely bad at displaying emotions that really matter to me.  Showing vulnerability is my ultimate vulnerability.  One of the negative aspects of being an emotionally empathetic person is that you leave yourself open to pain.  That’s why nowadays I’m more emotionally apathetic than empathetic.  I may act emotionally in the moment, either in happiness or sadness, rage or anger, but it has become hard for me to really let myself feel deep emotions — especially if they impact me negatively in the long-term.  I just end up… not caring.  Whether its a family fight, a girlfriend, or a job — if its gonna hurt me, I turn the dial straight to the “don’t give a shit” channel.  Making snide comments?  Don’t give a shit.  Screw me over for someone else?  Don’t give a shit… and never did.  Don’t wanna hire me?  Well fuck, I never wanted to work for you anyway.

Does that make me sound superficial?  Hmm, well should I really get into this here?  Nah lets leave the psychological self-diagnoses for another post — it’ll be more interesting that way anyway (and I can milk it — you don’t know how tough it is to keep thinking of “interesting” topics).  The point here is that I’ve developed a self-defense mechanism, where something that really mattered to me before, ceases to do so as soon as it has the potential to hurt me.  Which, although it has its advantages, has taken the passion out of my life somewhat — and I want that passion back.

I’ve realized that caring about stuff, or even hurting about stuff, is what gives it value (“Stuff” Valuation 101, people — we all took it!).  I feel like I’m walking around these days literally an emotional shell, not feeling anything — and although that may save me from pain and other negative emotions, thats not necessarily the best way to go for me, personally.  I need that passion back to feed the fire that drives.

So here it is, my blog!  My semi-lame attempt to give people some insight into what actually is feeding my fire — insight into what I give a shit about — or the fact that I give a shit at all.  Of course, actually vocalizing these emotions to real human beings would probably be the best way to go.  But shit, you gotta learn to take baby steps before you can [finish this cliche].

Speaking of baby steps, my sister just had one (a baby), and I gotta say his eyebrow arches are mine.  I see my furrowed brow in his.

Filed under: Personal, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

My B-Log

When I first heard the word blog, I thought it was pronounced B-log.  About five years later (although I knew the current pronunciation by that late date, at least in my revisionist memory), I mentioned this to Greenspan and Viv, and I still get made fun of about it to this day.  Well, who’s laughin’ now, punks?  Welcome to my B-log — now show me yours!

I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while — and now that I have absolutely nothing to really blog about, I’ve decided to start one.  Gone are the glory days on the beaches of Barcelona, the days of eating hunan turtle in Shanghai, the days on the beaches of Vietnam and Thailand, the days of eating Fried Grasshopper in Cambodia (paradise means different things to different people — just be thankful there are no 77 virgins in mine).

Nigh are the days of living at mom’s house.  Of not having enough money for new sneakers.  Of having very little to get up for in the morning.

Except for today — today, I’m temporarily in Monami’s apartment on 5th and L in DC, where she’s so graciously let me stay while she’s in the Barbaric Lands of the former Soviet Republics for the next month.  Today I started a temp job making phone calls — probably my least favorite campaign-related activity.  

Not exactly the rebirth I had in mind, but I’ll take what I can get.  It beats living with mom.

Filed under: Personal, Uncategorized