Category Archives: Slice of life

Posts about how life is going and other boring things

Losing Your Self Means You Can Find It Again

So I’ve been gone for a while and not just in the literal sense that I haven’t made very many blog posts. I mean that, for a few months there, I was losing who I was. Granted, that concept of identity has always been a bit vague for me, I’m just a little bit everywhere all the time. I’ve never felt like I’m a cohesive person, but fortunately I’ve got enough of a through line that I can cling to the fact that I love to learn things and I love solving puzzles.

Anyway, current issues first. Heres the tl;dr.

  • I was laid off in November.
  • I finished my creative thesis.
  • I put together an anthology of work from my classmates.
  • I won an award for being an important part of the Stonecoast Community.
  • I wound up mind-locked during my thesis presentation and failed that.
  • I did further research on my third-semester project to make up my presentation. Will likely post it up here in part.
  • I interviewed for a job in Maine and was offered a position, but I couldn’t accept.
  • I started going to therapy.
  • I got jerked around by at least four job opportunities in DC.
  • Same with Richmond.
  • I turned in my make-up paper and was sent my MFA. I’ve not written anything since then.
  • I moved in with my in-laws. I am looking for work in Wilmington/Philly.
  • I helped launch a ASCII-based rogue-like game.
  • I went to GPPhilly.
  • I started on the path to being an Level 1 DCI Judge
  • I started work on a comprehensive calendar for Magic events.

I will write a follow up to this at a later time, I want to unpack things a bit more.

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I am a writer

20140107_114009…and saying that feels liberating. Above anything else, being able to look a stranger in the eyes and tell them that with pride in my voice is a massive accomplishment.

Background: I was called a couple weeks back to come in for an interview with a company I’d never heard of. Since I’m ethically bound by receiving unemployment to not refuse work, I said sure–even though I was a bit creeped out by the whole exchange. (I still don’t know how he got my contact information.)

After I hung up, Renee and I did a little looking around and it turned out said company was one of those which got you to pay money up front for training and products to sell, like Amway. Hilariously, I knew about such schemes thanks to a certain anime about NEET culture in Japan (Welcome to the NHK), and knew not to fill out anything or agree to anything. But I still had to go, ethically.

When I got there, I was handed a questionnaire and left alone in an office, presumably to fill it out. The man I met with didn’t want to talk until I had filled out the multipage form that wanted all sorts of information I wasn’t keen on sharing for just an interview–especially one I hadn’t applied to*. So I waited and looked around at what was visible in the office. His name, along with a few others, were on a whiteboard. There were tallies next to each name (my guy had one). On the wall across from the board was a pair of plaques for excellent performance for the past two quarters. I didn’t see a name on them. I made the reasonable assumption that the office was used by which ever of the names behind me brought in perspectives-and that proved to be right later.

The man returned and looked at my blank form askance.

I leaned forward, “So what kind of position am I being interviewed for, exactly?”

“Well, you’ll be helping families find financial security by providing them with term life insurance.”

“So…sales then? I was thinking you were looking for a developer or something.”

“Nope, we’re looking for salespeople.”

“I’m not sure if sales is what I want to be doing.”

He looks at me, he knows I know this position is a trap. “I thought you said you wanted to do something different on the phone.”

“Yeah, different from what I was doing, but still in my wheelhouse. I can barely talk to people now as it is and you expect me to just cold call people and then hard sell them?”

“I know. It seems daunting, but I was just like you a few months ago and now I’ve got my own office and everything!” He smiles, like that’s supposed to be THE THING to convince me that a position with absolutely no security what-so-ever was worth jumping on.

“Look, I’ll be straight with you. I’m a writer, or trying to be at any rate, and a position like this, with virtually no separation between work and life, is probably going to consume my, already strapped, free time.”

He looked stunned and was quiet for a moment. Finally, he shrugged and opened the office door. He looked disappointed, but I kept the phrase I am a writer firmly fixed in my mind as I walked past him and out the front door.

Though I’ve put off posting this, more from a lack of remembering to finish it than anything, the encounter really has set the tone for the year. I will be more creative, I will finish projects, and I will be a writer.

Writer. Me. 😀

*Really not sure where this mistrust of the use of my personal information came from with regards to businesses. Maybe it was those articles about big firms “opening” positions just to trawl for resumes or maybe its that I have to make an account to apply for every job I come across. 

Where Things Are and The Fear of Soapboxing

It’s been nearly two weeks since I was let go. In that time I’ve:1212sketch

  • Finished my master’s Thesis.
    • There’s just one signature and some time in the mail between it and the 12/20 deadline.
    • I still need to reread my 3rd semester project to figure out my presentation and figure out where from my thesis I’ll be reading
  • Been to two interviews.
    • One for a position I was working on before I got laid off and the other at my LGS.
  • Applied all over the place
    • Seriously, I’ve got apps in places I’ve wanted to work at in all parts of the country. Haven’t heard anything back yet though…
  • Played some games of Magic with Steam Goblin an Izzet tempo build which is pretty close to the Izzet Fae I’m playing in modern.
  • Started a fresh run through Dark Souls as a Tanky Knight with an eye on PVE.

Even so, I don’t feel like I’m making any headway.

The job search still feels like I’m just shouting into the internet and hoping to be heard. I think it’s because I don’t look all that outstanding on paper and in an interview setting I’m a terrible bundle of nerves. Although I’m sure not updating this or forgetting about my other outlets/platforms/what have you isn’t helping. I’ve just never really been a huge social person and social media doesn’t really improve that. I don’t feel that I am any more worth listening to now than when I didn’t have a blog, or an MFA, or when I was employed. To me, I’m not living a life that will provide some massive insight to others. I suffer and scrape by, just like any other college grad that’s looking for work.

And, sure, I realize there’s a chicken/egg paradox about becoming someone that has a reason for people to  listen to them, but it’s hard to get past the cynicism that wells up when I see people who have no idea what they’re talking about get up in front of millions and spout nonsense. I might have smaller, perhaps even non-existent, audience…but I don’t want to be that kind of person. When dealing with strangers, it’s far more in my nature to listen, to observe, and maybe ask some questions to better understand, but I’ll typically just move along–especially on the internet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed out what might as well be the introduction of a ten page research paper as a comment only to say to myself, ‘Nah, not worth it.’

Maybe the realization that, in some small aspect, I’ve got a set of things I can talk about with authority will sink in once I’ve given my presentation. Which I need to go work on.

[Wednesday Rambling] The problem of expressing general creativity as a talent

I apologize upfront, this post is going to be very cathartic.

Check out all my Ramblings

In my hunt for new employment, I’ve been looking around at design and concept jobs, mostly because I figure having ideas is a key requisite for such things, and boy, do I have ideas!

Except, I don’t have any concrete expression of my ideas. Nothing that I can point to and say “See look, I really am a creative individual” I mean yeah, I write and I’m good enough at that to be accepted into an MFA program, but no one in the real world cares about writing unless you’ve been published with a reputable publication or house or your someone famous writing a blog. Every job I’ve looked at wants a portfolio of some kind and I just don’t have one. It’s not like I’ve got anything to show for all my creativity beyond this blog and a couple posting on some forums and galleries–none of which is really anything to be proud of.

What it comes down to is this: On paper, I look very bland and there is no real indication of the creative person behind the resume’. I look like someone who just happened to get through college by luck and sheer force of will. Although I suppose that’s really what happened its also not all of who I am. However, it isn’t like you can put down worked ‘three jobs simultaneously while still going to school full time just to have a roof’ or ‘Didn’t give up when everything was going wrong’ with a straight face. So instead of being able to put down character strengths, my resume’ is pretty much blank. I have no clubs or other academic things, because I didn’t have the time. I tried. I really did, but I had work most nights and classes all day and then I got my current job and pretty much switched to only being on campus at night for classes. In a very real sense, Aug 2009 was when I stopped going to college as a student and started going as a professional.

It doesn’t help that I haven’t really written anything since my rejection from Stonecoast in October. Yes, I did get in not two months later, but I still haven’t really healed from the blow to my creative drive. I sort of feel into this spiral of ‘Well I guess mundane average life is all I’m good for’ and even trying to climb out of it only reinforces it. It probably doesn’t help that I spent much of my day hunkered down over a laptop where chat boxes are my only contact with people. I don’t go to work any more, due to having moved, but it wasn’t like I went to work before either. What started out as a job with a fair number of co-workers became a 10 hour day with no one to talk to and only my thoughts as company. Which is why I’ve been looking for employment, to break the spiral. I just don’t want to end up in another job like this one.

Anyway…without a physical representation of your creativity and ideas, how can you prove to employers that you are indeed a creative individual?

[Wednesday Ramblings] Why am I doing this?

Well, its Wednesday. So that means trying to get a blog post done.

On one hand, I’m glad that I’m doing this. That I’m at least being disciplined enough to get one thing done every week. Its keeping me in shape mentally and is slowly getting me some buzz—not that a post a week is really going to generate much, but it’s a start.

On the other, it feels like doing one each week means I haven’t got anything to talk about either, even when there is. It’s as if having to work on demand causes a strain on my entire being.

But perhaps that’s the point. Its the same feeling of trying to stretch before working out (something I should do more often). Doing this exercise—for what else is it?–makes me a better writer and these stream of consciousness posts about what ever I’m thinking about let me just write without having to worry about plot or bad foreshadowing. I’m sure they’re not all that interesting, but hey, neither is grinding for levels in World of Warcraft—and people pay money for WoW.

Pokes aside, I’m being serious, it sucks just talking to myself essentially—even if it is good for my creativity. Point in case, my fiance shared my last post and got more traffic to her G+ stream than I got to this blog. Not really sure why. I mean, it could just be the girl gamer mystique, but I guess commenting on G+ is easier than signing up for WordPress just to say thanks…Not that it stops the Ad bots. I’m surprised by how much spam I get. Makes me wonder how much the “pros” get.

Anyway, I’ve gotten some writing done, so I’ll post some story draft up today. Probably right after this blog.

[Wednesday Ramblings] Illumination!

Trying to get back into the swing of writing and trying also to get some of my frustrations out. This is the first step in doing both.

So I had an interview Friday with another software firm. The position would have me doing much the same thing as I am now. I felt the interview was going well until one of the guys asked me if I had done any research on the company. I looked at him askance and then answered truthfully that I had not. It didn’t help that their website was a mess and my contact who got me the interview was rather vague about the whole thing. Anyway, he then clarified the intent of his question as being one to see if I was applying here specifically or if this was just another interview. For some reason, being faced with that question really illuminated something for me. I don’t want to do IT as a career.

Granted, I’m sure I was aware of this fact already, having already made that decision when I switched to English, but that’s besides the point. I can now say–and not just imply–that my interests in long term employment lie elsewhere. Right now, I’m just working a job. I might be fairly good at it, but It’s not a career and I know it was never going to be either. It was just a means to an end, a way to get paid that kept the bills clear, gas in the tank, food on the table, and let me buy a couple games every once in a while.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I have no skills what-so-ever in any other field and, aside from my degree, no credentials to speak of. Did I mention that we just moved and there’s a pile of school loans waiting for me as well? Yeah…

Which is sort of how I ended up in this situation in the first place. By being what I felt was a responsible adult I went out and got a job the first week of college and have since had at least two. I even had three for about two semesters where I was tutoring for comp sci until they realized my GPA was lower than most of the student who were coming for help–which, not that I think about it, is also about when I seriously started to think about switching majors.

So when I got offered a job that I could do what I was good at and get paid pretty good for it, I was all over that. Two years later, the job is a nightmare. I went from being a problem solver for our team to being the problem solver for team we’ve engaged which is way more exposure than I ever wanted. But the money’s good and the paychecks keep life from breaking down. That’s really the main point that continues to come up as I work on getting another job. Whatever I’m doing, I need to be making a moderately respectable salary while doing so. Which means that I need to stick with a job field I can be making at least 35k in–great amounts f frustration brought on by it notwithstanding.

Ultimately, I want to teach at a University or be a paperback writer (Paperback Writerrrr!). Both of which require my Master’s to some extent. So they’re not really things I can do now. I’m not strong enough mechanically as a writer to do it as my main income, a chief reason for me to be attending Stonecoast—even though my job is making increasingly difficult to get writing done—and I need a Master’s degree to teach at a University.

So what can I do now? Technical writing would certainly improve my mechanics, but just about any job that can pay the bills wants 3-5 years experience in the field and as I said before don’t know if I qualify. I have the knack, but tech and propsal writing are totally different ball games from creative writing.

Guess I’ll find out eventually. Wish me luck!

The Quest for Creative Employment (cont.)

With my start at StoneCoast, I’ve found myself more and more begrudging of my soulless current job. That isn’t to say I don’t enjoy it most days, in fact there are really good days. However, most of the interaction I have with people is somewhat sterile. Even when in the office, most of the people I work with are in another building across town or would communicate via e-mail anyway. Mostly to demand things.

So I’ve been putting in applications in places that might be a better fit. Just put in an application to ThinkGeek to do PR stuff, like news posts and such. (If someone from ThinkGeek is reading, greetings!) I’m fairly certain that I’ve got the knack for such things, and it would be nice to find employment up in NoVA seeing as we’re moving there in a few weeks to a month. Still no word from Bethesda, but I’m not really surprised I suppose.

Packet for StoneCoast is due the 8th, I’m pretty much done just want to get in some polish over the weekend. Also ME3 is Tuesday. So. Freaking. Excited.

Sorry, been a bit busy

Between trying to move and work ramping up, I’ve not had much time to be creative. It probably doesn’t help that Mass Effect 3 comes out in March and I’m playing through the first two again–shouting about my job while shooting Geth. Also, the Vita comes out tomorrow, so excite!

Unsurprisingly the release of the Vita has lead to some new friends, one of whom I have to have known before. He’s friends with all the folks who worked at Gamestop around the same time I did. The best thing is he’s the Sony Rep for Richmond, so after hanging out for a bit (and hopefully trading blows in BlazBlue tomorrow) I’ll have another reference for my application to Bethesda. Oh right, I didn’t tell you all about that.

Seeing as Renee and I are moving up to NoVA for her job, I figured ‘what the hell” and looked over Bethesda’s Career page. Best thing: THE job I’ve always wanted has an opening. Quest Design! Frack yes! Now to just land it…

In more relevant news, I got my first packet back from Nancy on Friday. She seemed to like my idea but had issues with my execution. You know, I get that a lot. The world your characters live in is amazing, they however feel like cardboard. I love where you’re going with the premise, but its way to heavy for just a short story. Putting bacon on fried chicken was a good idea, but because you did so poorly making it neither the chicken nor the bacon are crispy.

Speaking of good ideas with poor execution, I got my first bonafide rejection letter this week. No surprise really as it was the piece I submitted to Jim’s workshop, I already knew it wasn’t going to cut the mustard. In a way its validation, its the first attempt at the boss fight. However, just like every other bit of feedback I’ve picked up in the last few months, the same few words keep coming back to me. “This reads like a chapter, not a story.”

I really don’t know what to do with that response. I wish I did. I sit down to just come up with a story and go with it, but almost every single time, through answering questions I have about the setting or trying to justify the action, I end up with a novel excerpt and a lack-luster single sitting reading experience.

I wonder how Doyle and Christie managed to have episodic fiction that felt like separate experiences. I suppose having an established setting of London or a quiet town in the country cuts out half the battle right there. How do Sci-Fi/Fantasy writers do that though? I’ve got to juggle the setting, the plot, characters and their back stories, and still have it come in under twenty pages. It really is a tall order. Each sentence has to be precision crafted, to do the work of two or three. Each word has to contribute. Every single page has to mean something. It feels like such deliberate penmanship beyond me.

Then again, I said that about drawing.

Anyway, ’til next time!

[Life] QoL Nerfs

I’ll be upfront, this is a cathartic post with strong leanings into MOBA terminology, so bear with the ranty-ranting and mumbo-jumbo. Its been a pretty shitty week; for just about everyone. A number of famous people die and Steven Tyler is still on American Idol. Personally though, its a cluster bomb of mostly annoying things that just happened all at once. To use an analogy, life just hit me with a stun Tibbers and bursted me down faster than I could react. And I suppose I’ve had it coming, I’ve been way too effective recently, taken too many towers with out reprisal. I knocked out 18 pages and two books in a month, worked late everyday, and still got some sketching done. My art’s never been better and I feel alive for the most part.

Well, guess that was breaking things. Feels like life rolled out a patch this week with some quality of life nerfs. My 360, a loyal comrade in the world of gaming of five years, died this week. Her replacement RRoD’d the moment after I unboxed it. This of course coming on the day Mass Effect 3’s demo hit. At the same time, my brand new Logitech G300 just up and dies. Each of these came on the heels of a pretty hard nerf to Soraka’s sustain and early game in League. Its not just gaming though, anime and manga took a hard hit as well. In a decisive move, Viz Media finally brought the hammer on MangaStream, prohibiting them from posting scanalations of WSJ series. This is in response to them launching Shonen Jump Advance, a platform that hosts manga digitally and is subscription based. For your $1/wk you get to read chapters of a select set of series, with an archive that lasts about a month before the chapters are no longer available. I’m not going to argue for or against, but I will say that it’s put a cramp on my manga habit. Today though, life hit me the nerf bat again. Starting in March, FiOS will no longer carry the FUNimation channel; one of the reasons I went with FiOS for TV in the first place.

 

Anyway, I plan to have a real post in a few days. I’ve got things i want to talk about. (Now if i only had people to talk with)

 

Just a thought

You know…the way people swear up and down how this or that single person leading our country could change everything, despite the mire that is our society, makes me marvel at the fact that people have so much faith in the power of an individual to change things. If we weren’t so busy fighting, it might even be inspiring. Maybe if more people thought about why they wanted to be president growing up and acted on it, we’d have a country run by our best and brightest and not just the people who happened to show up and be the loudest.