Saturday, March 13, 2004

Report: Day 10 

The following is a transcription of the letter I mailed to Jonas this morning.

March 12, 2004

Mr Jonas Jansson, The "Official Benrick Guinea"
C/o Claes Nilsson (he is Jonas' good friend)
Fikkesgarten, 12, 6tr (he lives on the floor no6!)
12 344 Stockholm, Sweden

Dear Jonas,

Thank you for being so open about your life changing adventures in your blog. You are an inspiration to as many as a handful or even two handfuls of people. I offer you encouragement and support along your way.

I too am changing my life with the help of the Benrick book. It is day ten in my quest to change my life "radical style" in the Benrick tradition. As you are fully aware, this means I've reached the point along the path which brings me to you. I have greatly enjoyed reading about your adventures in your blog, a document that will surely receive the recognition it deserves as the global community comes to understand its importance.

Regardless, I note in the comments of your blog that many people simply stop by and wish you well on the tenth day of their respective journeys. I believe this is a fine approach and in the spirit of the directive, but it feels a little informal, a little distant. Maybe even a little cold.

So I have opted to send you this hand written letter along with the small tokens of my admiration which accompany. It is my hope, Jonas that we will become life long friends. When you find yourself in New York you can crash on my sofa, which is very comfy and altogether crash-worthy. When I am in Sweden you can take me to the record store and help me pick out just the right tunes to listen to on my daily commute. Perhaps, sometime in the future, we will plan to vacation together and meet up in such exotic locations as Tampa or Branson or Finland, assuming, of course, that your world traveling plans will take you to any of those far flung vistas.

And now, Jonas, I'd like to provide a brief word about the goodies included in this package. To begin with I hope you will wear and enjoy the "I heart N Y" baseball cap. I purchased this just for you at a tourist stand in Times Square today because I read that you liked baseball caps in your blog when you learned how to barter. I opted for black because I think it will nicely offset your Scandinavian coloring and help you attract the chicas.

Note also the mini Statue of Liberty. She is a symbol of the freedoms I enjoy as an American, freedoms which you may or may not enjoy yourself. I just don't know becuse I'm not well versed in the civil liberties of the Sweeds. I hope you get to have civil liberties too and if you don't I will help you immigrate.

Finally, I have included a package of America's least favorite snack treat, the Circus Peanut. These tasteless dumplings of orangey squishiness are perfect for serving to people you do not like, or giving Underdog constipation, or rationing in case of holocaust. I include them because many of my other European friends have a fascination with them and I wind up sending them across the Atlantic in little care packages with some regularity. I hope you enjoy them and feel free to contact me to request more. I don't mind.

You may contact me any time and for any reason by mail at the following address:

Brian Blaho

Or electronically at

Oh, Jonas. Be my friend.

Respectfully Yours,

Today I must introduce myself to someone I know but never speak to.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Report: Day 9 

I am sort of feeling this now. Benrick's one-two punch, the caffeine free day followed by a 5:00 a.m. rise time, has left me feeling very different. Maybe even a little changed. I have friends who, after joining the military, reported that basic training involved a great deal of sleep cycle and nutritional change which broke down the new soldiers and readied them for military training. I believe this is the technique Benrick have employed here.

Regardless I set my alarm and dragged my ass out of bed at 5:00 a.m. to do something significant before breakfast. I had all kinds of plans. I was going to clean my bathroom or pay my bills or something. But when I was actually faced with a 5:00 a.m. rise, I changed gears entirely. Anything requiring mental agility or physical dexterity was just out.

So I wrapped myself in a blanket and went outside. I stood on my corner, looking like a homeless person, and watched the sunrise. Then I went back inside and made this picture of what I saw.

Then I had breakfast.

Today I'm supposed to meet Jonas. It's a little self promotional, but I really believe that as I move through this challenge I will come to learn something important which will help me change my life or something and even the self promotional days are a part of the process.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Report: Day 8 

This one was painful. I don't use tobacco, I rarely drink alcohol, but I do have a constant influx of caffeine throughout any given day. In the morning I French press a steamy pot of pumpkin spice coffee to carry me through my commute. Throughout the day I drink caffeinated soda and tea, hot or iced depending on my mood and the weather. After dinner I love to indulge in an ounce of espresso. And I'm always up for meeting a friend for coffee after work.

The book laid this challenge before me so that I might "see how much purer I feel," but it failed to mention that feeling pure was similar to feeling like shit. As the day went on and my body got purer and purer and purer I just felt worse and worse and worse. I had no idea that purity was accompanied by dizziness, sleepiness, migraine, and an inability to concentrate. Thank you Benrick for teaching me such a valuable lesson!

A few excerpts from my notes throughout the day.

10:22 a.m. I think I've been successful at fooling myself into thinking that I've been getting my normal levels of caffeine by brewing and drinking decaf. This may not be so bad.

11:31 a.m. I have noticed over the past few minutes a small tremor at the corner of my left eye. I do not think it is causing me to twitch visibly, but I can feel the muscles contract and release without my input and it's a little weird.

11:54 a.m. I just caught myself buying a soda on automatic pilot. I switched it for a bottle of water before it was too late. I'm still caffeine free.

1:21 p.m. I am massaging my temples with some regularity, trying to get the muscles in my forehead to relax. I'm a little light headed and headachy.

1:47 p.m. I just snapped at a co-worker for no reason. Was this because the co-worker is inept, or is this because I'm feeling a little like crap?

2:30 p.m. It feels like there is an icepick down through the top of my head, penetrating my left eye, and lodged in my upper molars. I am conflicted about taking migraine medicine because I do not know if taking prescription medication invalidates the addiction freeness of today.

2:36 p.m. Fuck addiction freeness. I've taken a Zomig.

3:44 p.m. I can feel myself becoming strangely disassociative. While I don't remember committing the act, I know I will have to explain the fecal smears on the wall of my office to the janitorial staff with some sort of convincing lie.

4:57 p.m. I believe the white powder at the bottom of my brief case is a crushed NoDoz I used to keep for emergencies. I have drawn the attention of my fellow commuters by attempting to lick it out of the seams of my bag, but have gathered more lint than medicine on my tongue by doing same. I am being left well alone by everyone and that's not such a bad thing.

6:20 p.m. If I treat this like a religious fast, I will be able to have caffeine as soon as the sun sets. Is that cheating?

8:36 p.m. My thoughts are increasingly violent, but my limbs are numb and lethargic, frustrating the violent feelings I'm having.

9:12 p.m. Can barely hold my eyes open long enough to write this. The blackness is closing in.

All I can say is thank God I wasn't coming off the crack. I am once again fully indulging my addictions. This indulgence started at 5:00 a.m. this morning because today my task was to get up at 5:00 a.m. and do something significant before breakfast. Not before coffee. Before breakfast.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Report: Day 7 

Did I succeed?

I'll never tell. But if I did succeed, it would probably have been due to an imaginary Peth zinging past me trying to keep the bleach blonde wig on an imaginary Misfit's head during some very stirring accrobatics.

That is if I succeeded.

Today is addiction free day. This means decaf only. I think I'm gonna die.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Report: Day 6 

I worked on this all day, but I think the effort has really paid off. The following is the first sentence of my debut novel:

Her saffron hair billowed in the sea scented breeze, her eyes sparkled like emeralds in setting, and her lips pursed like she was seducing the morning with the sweetest of kisses, but knowing she was a midget named Peaches--that alone won my heart.

I can’t wait to write the rest of it, because I’ve got to know what happens next!

Today I’m supposed to masturbate at 1:56 pm to the thought of “two blondes. Doing it. Together.”

Thank heavens gender isn’t specified or today’s task might have taken a real long time. I’ve got enough hurdles to overcome being at work and all.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Report: Day 5 

Officially I was supposed to cut the pre-printed out of order sign from the book and paste that up on something during the day. However I quickly noticed that if I were to cut the sign out, my travel plans for the rest of my life would be destroyed. So I opted to make my own sign. And dare I say it, I think I improved on the design from the book a little.

See my sign, made entirely from ordinary paper and ink from a red Sharpy, said, "Out of Order! Sorry." And then there was a little frowny face. I think the frowny face added character and the "sorry" added a human dimension to the whole total societal break down. Even though I'm trying to change my life, I'm resolute that the new me will still care about people. That's something I just won't change, ok? I just won't.

I have to say that I was a little disappointed that this particular task fell on a Sunday because I would have loved to have sabotaged something in the library with my frowny face sign and been able to watch the subsequent chaos from my safe perch at the reference desk. But one must play the cards one is dealt. One must.

Regardless I set out looking for the perfect place to cause a total societal breakdown. I thought that the ladies room of a local coffee shop would be pretty perfect. And I thought that posting it on an escalator that was clearly running could be fun. But as I was leaving my friend's apartment, tape on the back of my sign, my mission looming, inspiration struck. I stepped into the elevator and as I pressed the ground floor key I realized that what I absolutely had to do was to post my sign over the elevator controls inside the elevator.

What better way to bring about total societal breakdown than to get some unsuspecting people into an elevator before telling them that the elevators were out of order. I imagined panic stricken faces as the doors closed sealing them in. Would they think to try the buttons anyway, or would they simply obey the sign and pray someone else would call for the elevator from the outside and free them. Maybe they would get on the emergency phone and call for help. "Help us! We're in elevator number 2 and the sign says the controls are out of order! What do we do?!"

Today I must write the opening sentence of my debut novel.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Report: Day 4 

Ok. Day 4. Done. I’ve made my travel plans for the rest of my life according to the following scheme:

Green: Been there done that
Blue: Intend to go there this year
Yellow: Intend to go there sometime before I die
Red: Happy never to set foot there in my whole life.

With the help of Addie, Peth, and Gardenflower I colored my map. Oh, if you could only see it. It’s a marvel! And now all my plans are laid before me on a single document. Truly life changing stuff.

Today I am supposed to tape a sign that says “Out of Order” to a fully functioning device with the goal of total societal breakdown.

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