All posts by Brienna Schroeder

Brienna and Cassandra Reborn: A Second Entry

Bri eating some playdoh. Cassie looking on in judgment Brienna and Cassandra, pull free from the persistent claws of death and continue their pursuit of honest consulting. They have learned their lesson with classy brandy and have thus taken up a new vice, play-doh. It is not that they eat it, nor liquify it and apply it to steaks as a salty sauce, no, they roll it…constantly.

Cassandra: I think I like play-doh better than brandy. (She rolls her play doh into a slug.)

Brienna: yes…there is a certain peace to it. (she rolls one slowly into a blue log then very suddenly slams her fist down, flattening the perfect roll before starting again.)

Cassandra: Yes it makes me think about all the consultations that I’ve done. Although I have to admit, not all of them went well.

Every now and then, consultants come to a point where they can go no farther with a client. Cassandra and I have tagged this moment as the ‘failure moment’. While it isn’t technically failure, it tends to give the consultant a similar feeling.

Brienna: The good thing about play-doh, is that there is no failure. If you screw up, you just start again and reform it. I think this method can be applied to consulting.

Cassandra: In what way? I don’t think you can start over an appointment just because it’s not going well.

Brienna: Well, start over no, but reform your approach, definitely. Just as you might reform the play-doh when the dog you were making looks more like a demon grandma.

Cassandra:That makes sense, because I had to do the same thing when I failed in my first consultation. It did not go well…

Brienna: Please Cassandra, tell me more…(she makes a lopsided house, then smashes it with her hand and starts again).

Cassandra: Well a client came in asking for me to review his paper. I looked over his paper and saw a lot of inconsistencies, and when I pointed them out I don’t think he understood. I tried to explain in multiple ways but I think that only made things worse. It could be because he wasn’t a native speaker, but I took it as me not being able to explain my reasonings well enough. Continue reading

Flash Fiction Thursday: “Snitch Shoes”

I pulled my golden Converse out of the urinal and checked the damage. Aside from the worn rubber on the sole and the missing aglet on the right shoelace, it seemed okay, if wet…and smelly. I shrugged but jammed it on to my bare foot anyway and squelched over to the sink, kicking a stupid urinal cake out of the way. I needed to dry my pants.

You may be wondering how my golden Converse ended up in a urinal — and perhaps even why my pants were wet. The answer is quite simply this: Harry Potter.

Now, some have called me naïve before…and that may be true—(I don’t trust goblins), but I am certain of one thing: Dobby is an a-hole.

It was Christmastime at the mall, and I had just finished spray-painting my Converse gold. Snitch gold was supposed to make me wicked fast and damn-near-impossible-to-see. I ran through the mall, zigzagging between the slow bystanders, easily. I kept my eyes closed because it made me feel like I was flying. I opened them only when people shouted. Haters.

I walked into the store ‘Day by Day Calendar’ and immediately bumped into an old lady. I’m sure she couldn’t see me because I had been moving so fast I was probably invisible. She glanced down at my shoes before muttering ‘tawdry’ and walking away.

“My name’s Ian.” I said. Tawdry is a girl’s name.

I very suddenly felt the need to relieve myself. I dashed from the store in search of the nearest loo, unbuttoning my trousers as I went.

A short man dressed as an elf was taking care of business as I flew into him after slamming through the bathroom door.

‘Get your wand out of my face. Bro!’ the elf man said, holding his hands up like a shield.

I realized that he was none other than the house elf, Dobby!

‘I apologize, Dobby, I am simply trying to be invisible.’ I said.

‘Dobby? Dude, seriously, go flush yourself. Happy Holidays.’

A prophecy? Maybe I could ‘flush myself’ into the wizarding world.

I did what I had gone there to do, and then clambered into the urinal and flushed, waiting with my arms crossed over my bare chest. When nothing happened I flushed again…and again. I thought maybe I had to say the destination out loud, like with Floo powder, so I cleared my throat and bellowed ‘MINISTRY OF MAGIC!’ in my clearest voice. My pants slid down to my ankles.

“Kid you’re nuts.” Dobby said, shuffling out the door.

My shout echoed off the walls and I waited until the cold sank into to my bones and goose bumps rose sharply in perfect patterns across my skin. It was in that moment that I realized how impossible it would be to reach the Ministry of Magic through a urinal.  I kicked the urinal cake in frustration and it skid across the floor.

I smelled something gross and observed that I probably should have flushed the urinal before stepping into it and sloshing around. I wondered why Dobby wanted me to face this reality; and then it hit me, he wanted my shoes.

The Consultant Diaries: Introducing Brienna and Cassandra

Two consultants stand on the brink of an epiphany. They sit in silence, staring at the wall above the others head, considering where to begin the budding saga of their consultant careers. Brienna twists the top off a brandy decanter and pours the amber liquid into a sifter, only missing the glass once. She swirls it, sniffs it, coughs, and hesitantly trickles the warm liquid into her mouth, hiding a grimace unsuccessfully. Cassandra rolls her eyes at her comrade’s lack of class and snatches the decanter from her hands tossing back a blazing mouthful of the fiery liquid.

The brandy heightens their senses and they tumble into enlightenment.

This is their revelation.

Cassandra: I never had an official interview before I started working at The Writing Center, so when I came here and started consulting I felt like a fish out of water at first, as if I didn’t belong there. (Her eyes glaze over in thought.)

Brienna: (She swirls her glass, and puts on an air of civility). I started off second guessing myself at every turn. I asked myself (and continue to do so) questions like “am I qualified to do this”, and “will this screw up their paper?” It took me at least 10 consultations before I remembered that I was more than capable of helping people spice up their papers. How did you feel Cassandra?

Cassandra: I think for me, I was more worried that other consultants would think I’m doing it wrong. I felt that they were listening in on my consultations, and I wasn’t measuring up as a consultant. Sounds stupid, I know, but I didn’t have confidence at first so I assumed other people were judging me for it. Now I know  it was just me being stupid.

Brienna: I love seeing how other people write, it is one of the main reasons why I was so attracted to the publishing field initially. I love that every person in the world has a story and their own way of telling it.

Cassandra: Me too! I even read some stories that made me want to cry. There were others whose stories so closely mirrored my own experiences, that I felt we shared a bond. That we were long lost kindred spirits.

Brienna: I know! I can’t believe some of the things that people have gone through in their lives. I am baffled by what some people have gone through just to get here (MSU).

Cassandra: But I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn these things. I swear I learn something new from them everyday. It’s not just them learning how to be a better writer, but I’m also learning how to be a better consultant.

Brienna: I agree with that wholeheartedly. Working as a consultant has given me so many opportunities to learn. Not just factual data, but writing styles, and consulting tips that can really help me articulate my thoughts to the writer. I have also gotten a glimpse into the stories of many international students. I feel like I can understand their position better now because of it. Continue reading