On Being Lovelorn

I never thought girls had cooties. I always had crushes, always the starry-eyed hopeless romantic, and unfortunately, almost always lovelorn. This is the way of things when you feel that love should be shared and celebrated, whether it’s platonic or romantic, whether you love someone or are in love with someone: you “love not wisely but too well”, and it goes unrequited. The bright side is that because you allow yourself that freedom of love, you learn to accept it. You’re able to pick up the pieces, and move on — perhaps not forgetting, but accepting, and forging forward.

But sometimes, it doesn’t work like that. There are some that for whatever reason, you don’t forget them, and you can’t accept that they’re gone, and forging forward seems an insurmountable task. The ones that, when you’ve got yourself back together, and you think you’re ready, they pop back up in one fashion or another. A phone call, an email, a picture, running into them on the street, just the glance, the hint, and you’re right back where you were: picking up the pieces, and trying to forget how they felt in your arms, their smell, their voice soft in your ear.

It doesn’t matter how strong or aloof you are, how stable a personality you have or logical you are. You can be a player, or a saint, or be able to cope with disasters both epic and personal without breaking a sweat. You can be inured to love’s foibles (or think you are) all you want, there’s still that person out there that bypasses all your defenses and coping mechanisms and destroys you, without trying or even wanting to. Pointing out their faults doesn’t help, knowing you should move on doesn’t help, knowing there are others out there doesn’t help. It’s too late: you are lost.

I’ve loved a lot of people in my past. And I’ll love many more before I’m through. I’ve been in love, and have been lucky and blessed enough to be loved in return, and will be in love again. I know this. And one day, I may well finally be over her. But not today.
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Urban Grind

Since I sort of have some free time on my hands and can job hunt just as easily crashed on a couch as I can at home, I took off for Portland yesterday, and am now hanging out with my brother. It’s been good: good company, good food, and good hangouts. We’re currently at a place called the Urban Grind, which is a rather expansive coffee house, with an interesting mix of industrial aesthetic (it’s in a reconditioned warehouse space), and “kid friendliness” (they have two rooms explicitly for the little tykes to go play, which I gotta say is pretty cool). It’s kind of empty at the moment (the evening on a Saturday), but the music is good (Radiohead’s new album at the moment), and they have a nice Rooibos-based chai that I’m on my second large cup of. The wireless is kinda corporate: two networks, one “free” but with the occasional web-redirect to an ad, or a “premium” (pay) network with a fatter pipe and no ads. I don’t mind clicking past an ad every once in a while, personally.

I promised to take Anna to the airport next week, otherwise I’d be sorely tempted to just keep couch surfing for a while. I really want to hit the road for a while, though I know I can’t really afford it, but the prospect of couch surfing in different towns, seeing if one appeals to me to move to or find a job in… well, it’s more than mildly appealing to me. A thought I’ve had (I don’t know how feasible it is), is to put in my month notice on my apartment, sell off as much as I can, put the rest in storage, and then go look for places to be. I’d need money for gas, and food, and I’d need to line up a few places to stay first before it starts to look realistic, but that’s not that much in the grand scheme of things. How long can I stretch that while I find work and the path I want to walk next?

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to get a more permanent (and livable) job with the game industry. In particular, a role as an associate producer sounds really appealing right now. It’s the primary focus of the positions I’m applying for (though not all). Of course, there’s a part of me that wants to just go do random other stuff for a while. Take some other job that covers the basics, but is in Hawaii, or Guam, or Japan, or somewhere in Europe. Learn to surf. Learn some more languages. Spend a few months to a year in a place, and then pick up and do something else (or even a similar thing) somewhere else. Does that provide stability, or savings, or a home? No, not really. That’s sort of alright, though, if it brings a sense of wonder and exploration with it. It’s not boring. It’s not a cubicle, it’s not 2.5 kids and two mortgages, it’s not the rat race, even if only for a little while.

The most satisfying moments in my life have been the times where I veered off the path and did my own thing.

Catching Up

So, what have I been up to in the past two months? The obvious answer would be “stuff,” but that’s not very descriptive. I’ve been working a lot (the 8-4:30 is really a 7-7 due to traffic… working weekends was always delightful, because I was not only making overtime, but my commute was 20 minutes each way), and that’s been sucking my brain dry, where I’d usually get home, maybe eat something, maybe putter a little bit, and then go to sleep. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for much (I didn’t even hit the coffee shop more than maybe once). But there were a few highlights:

I flew back east for UberCon. My friend Chris (Tsabrak) offered to cover my airfare, so I was suddenly able to at least partially justify the trip. It was fantastic seeing everyone, including meeting some folks in person that I’d only known online up until then. It was definitely a good time, though I do wish Erica had shown up, as I would have liked to see her. (I was both nervous and hopeful about the prospect… I do miss her.) I was recently made head builder for Avatar, so I ended up spending most of the trip talking about mud related stuff, and I think we covered a lot of good ground that I hope to see getting implemented soon.

My parents were gracious enough to cover the expense of picking up Mac OS X 10.5, so I’ve got that installed and running on both of my machines (the laptop and desktop). I must say, I am damned impressed. Not only is there a considerable amount of polish, but the interface is cleaned up and the machine in general seems to be snappy. The file sharing integration into the finder is an excellent addition, and makes the process of mucking with files on both machines remarkably painless. I did clean installs for both machines and then migrated documents back over from my backup disk, so I’m still in the process of installing applications back onto it. Overall the whole upgrade process has been fairly painless.

My brother has moved from DC out to Portland, Oregon! I went down and visited him last week and bummed around with him and Dano and Dan’s lovely fiance, Moonrise. Totally good times, we even hit up the roller derby, which was great fun (Portland vs Baltimore). Later in the week, Uri came up for Thanksgiving, and we sorta tooled around a little bit, found a place for tasty turkey dinner, and in general had a good time.

Those are the big highlights that come to mind. It should be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks.

Erm, Yeah

Sorry for disappearing like that… not a single post in all of October, and it looks like I’m only barely making it for November. For whatever reason, I simply didn’t feel like writing. Work was starting to get to me (or more particularly, the commute), and I was finding other things to occupy my time. I’ll try to catch up a bit over the next few days.

The big news of the moment is that I’m abruptly unemployed again, as of this past Wednesday. This does and doesn’t suck. Losing your job sucks, BUT, I knew I’d have to jump ship sooner or later, as there was nowhere I could really go vertically within the company. I would have preferred to have my next job already lined up, but I did rack up experience on four commercial titles, including experience as a test lead, so it’s been a productive time spent, and should hopefully significantly improve my chances of netting a better gig. I need to update my resume (which is going to take some redesigning, so I can get the information I want on there and still fit on a single double sided piece of paper), but overall I’m feeling pretty good about it. (Mostly. I was already living paycheck to paycheck, so in that respect, I’m stressed the hell out.)

In particular, I’m looking for an associate producer position with a game company — anywhere, not just here in scenic Seattle. I’d be happy with better, I’d settle for less, but that’s what I’m realistically looking for, given my experience and skills. I’ve got a few good leads on companies that are hiring, but feel free to feed me more, faithful readers.

Another Season Ending

Today is the last day of September, so happy birthday to Chris, and happy birthday tomorrow to Anna! With the end of September comes the rainy season to the Pacific Northwest, and I must say I don’t really mind. I like the 50-60 degree temperatures and kind of grey days that come with it. Though soon enough, I’ll need to start wearing shoes again.

I have a lot of things on my mind right now, and I’ll try to address what I can. I sort of realized that it’d been a while since I posted, so I thought I’d rectify that situation (and upgrade to WP 2.3 to boot). So, quick sum up: still working, but it looks like this project may be ending soon, and that’s been a bit of a wake up call on getting back on the resume/job-search horse. I’m pretty happy with the work I’ve been doing, and have been stepping up where I can, so hopefully that will lead into something a bit more permanent (and better paying). In the meantime, I’m keeping an ear out for other gigs anywhere, and contemplating a move to Omaha, where my friend Jen has offered me a place to crash for as long as I need (such as, for instance, time to work on building up a portfolio, since most of my experience is on the theory side of things… while theory is important, it tends not to get you jobs in a product driven field). Or I could always start buying lottery tickets.

My days have been sort of merging and blending together. For the past two months, we’ve had overtime every weekend at work, so it’s been a while since I really had a whole weekend free (this was supposed to be the first one, but I got called in to sub for someone who had an emergency come up and couldn’t make it. For the record, I only dropped the obligatory “I’m not even supposed to be here!” once — I was actually happy to help out). I finally got around to grocery shopping today for the first time in a while, and if I can keep up some steam, I may do other things I’ve been meaning to do (I’ve been meaning to email several friends for a while now, and simply haven’t because I’m a bum that goes and hides out in a dark room after work). I also want to update my resume, and get some other writing hashed out (I started the year out pretty close to my daily writing goal, but I’ve been slipping a bit lately… need to get back into it and end the year strong).

Right now, I’m listening to the KEXP Live Performances podcast of Animal Collective, and I must say I am damn impressed. Their live versions of “Leaf House” and “Who Could Win A Rabbit” just floored me. If you like Animal Collective, you should go download that and take a listen, I think you’ll be well pleased. I’d really like to go pick up their new album (Strawberry Jam), just gotta wait til I can afford to buy music.

Random Apple Post

I’m sitting in an Apple Store at the moment, trying out the new keyboard they have. It uses a keyboard scheme more similar to the MacBook keyboard, which may look “weird” to folks used to most keyboards… the keys are a bit more spaced out, so people wonder if it would be hard to get used to, or have trouble reaching keys. Or, at least, I was wondering. Hence this post — it’s a writing exercise, something that will give me a sense of the keyboard response and how the keys “feel” — whether or not I can tell when I’ve been hitting a key or not, or mistyping or similar (I mean, other than my usual typos of course). So far, it feels pretty good. I’m typing at a pretty fair clip (not the fastest I’ve ever typed, but still not very slowly either), and it feels pretty good under my fingers. Despite the “slim” look and feel, I can definitely tell when I’ve hit a key, and on a purely aesthetic level, the keyboard LOOKS sharp: metal case and white low profile keys. I should really check the site to see if it has key illumination (too bright to tell of course — the curse of trying things out in a retail location). Unlike the previous desktop keyboards, rather than having the sound controls over the number pad, the entire upper row is function keys, and then it functions more like a laptop keyboard, with the first twelve or so also controlling hardware (which, of course, you can reconfigure if you want).

I started railing about the lack of the Fn key (which is used by the system to delineate whether you want the key to access the keyboard control, or whatever the function key is supposed to do), but then I finally noticed where it is: it seems to have replaced one of the “magic six” keys that sit above the arrow keys, between the main keyboard and the number pad. Going from memory, I think it took over “insert”, and now delete is on the bottom row instead of the top. Not sure how I feel about that. I’m sure I’d get used to it, though.

Final prognosis? If you’re in the market for a new keyboard, it’s well worth checking out: on board usb2 is nice, it’s got a good form factor, and I’ve felt pretty comfortable typing all this out, and for $49, it’s fairly competitive with other quality keyboards out there (and markedly less than most specialty keyboards). Had I the cash, I’d probably head home with one now!

The Face of Things

Sometimes, in particular when you’re stressed and depressed, even taking control of the littlest thing in your life is a monumental accomplishment. It can be as simple as cleaning your desk and sorting all the bills and paperwork and random effluvium of day to day life into piles, even if you can’t actually do anything ABOUT said cruft. I cleaned my desk and sorted my piles and I do, in fact, feel accomplished by this. It certainly helps that in the process of this, I found a dividend check from March. In celebration of this unexpected (and direly needed) windfall, I’m spending $10 of it on a bowl of potato leek soup, an iced coffee, and a piece of cherry pie (which to borrow a phrase from Agent Cooper, is damned fine), down at Zoka. It is, as ever, the little treats we allow ourselves that make life worth living.

In the grand scheme of things, life could be worse. While I’m in debt well beyond my means, I do still have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, and a job that I enjoy well enough and keeps me from being in a far worse position. I don’t know many people here, which does lead to some (alright, a lot of) lonely moments, but no one is shooting at me or really attacking me at all, physically, mentally, or spiritually. I’ve got my share of angst over my last breakup, but even that is only unmanageable in that I’ve yet to actually move on, for a variety of reasons that don’t need elaborating here. Life is perhaps not good, but it is certainly not bad, either. There are no epic tragedies, just a lot of little grievances that have added up to one hell of a funk: it puts me in mind of a quote from Ovid — “Gutta cavat lapidem (Dripping water hollows out a stone)”, which seems to also be the basis of what the Litany Against Fear from Dune is talking about: “fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration…” It doesn’t have to be anything big, in fact it’s less likely to be since the big stuff we face head on, we address it and cope with it. But the little things, they’re insipid, they accrete like a gall stone, they eat away at our core one drop at a time.

And if we spot it? Generally, this means it is because things have already worn away to leave a cavity, so you are faced with an uphill battle, late out the gate. But you have to try. You have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and put one foot in front of the other, even when every inch forward feels like a mile. Not for some perceived glory, not for some light at tne end of the tunnel, but because you don’t have a choice. It is the very essence of life and death, because if you don’t get up and try, you’re dead or will be soon.

So, yeah, things could be worse. That’s not an invitation for things to become worse, mind you, but it is an acknowledgement and a declaration: I have let myself slide down under the weight of my stone, and it is high time that I start pushing it back up that goddamn hill.

Making the Most of What We Have

It’s Sunday, August 26th, 2007. The month is nearly over, and I don’t have the money for rent, let alone the bills that are also due. I’m selling my speakers, which would get me back flush for the moment, and I’m selling some stock, which should get me back to a manageable position. Neither of which has been going well. I’ve had one nibble on the speakers, dunno if I’ll be able to turn it into a full bite or not, and it’s fast approaching out of time. The stocks are doubly frustrating — they have a restriction on them, which means that my broker won’t touch them, so I need to call the transfer agent for the stocks and have them reissued, which shouldn’t be a problem except that a) there may be a few associated with the reissue, which I can’t afford; and b) the transfer agent is only open when I’m at work, so I need to find the time to call, verify what I need to do, then do it, and wait however long it takes for them to reissue, before I can even begin to sell them.

People deal with worse — it can always get worse — on a daily basis. I’m not being shot at, and at least for now, I still have a roof over my head, and a job. The job is a contract that may end any time, and will likely end within the next two months, leaving me a tentative 2 month period to find better work. I hate to say it, but the military is starting to sound more and more viable. Given the quirky heart and issues with depression, it’s a question whether they’d take me anyway.

One thought: a storage unit is cheaper than an apartment… close out my apartment, put everything back in storage, and live in my car for a while. Work has a deal with 24 Hour Fitness for cheap memberships, so I could shower and change there. I recall my friend Dan telling me about being in the Bay area during the boom, and seeing a lot of RV’s and vans parked out in front of health clubs for precisely this reason. There are coffee shops and restaurants and libraries with free wireless, so I wouldn’t even lose connectivity. What few bills I’d have left could be moved to entirely paperless billing, since I’m already paying them online.

It would certainly be different. And it would open me up to new experiences, and a flexibility in location that I’ve been missing. If I did that along with selling the stock to pay off most of my debtload, I could get back to being debt free in a relatively short period. It’s not an ideal solution, of course. There are a lot of problems with it, a lot of dangers, and it doesn’t deal with the possibility that my job won’t exist in a few months.

So, I’m sitting in Zoka, eating some cherry and marionberry pie and drinking a cup of split sweet/spicy chai, and thinking about what to do, what steps I can take to move forward in my life, to get happy (or at the very least, to get un-depressed), to get to a point where I at least have some semblance of control over my own life. These are things I’ve found notably lacking of late.

I have no conclusions, no new revelations, just a few ideas, none of which are all that appealing, none of which have much in the way of futureproofing. Instead, I’m left with quotes from Fight Club running through my head. “It’s only when we lose everything that we can gain anything.” “Congratulations, you’re one step closer to hitting bottom.” “I will drag you through kicking and screaming, and in the end, you will thank me.”

We Might Just Break, Can You Hear Us Trying?

I had a good roll going for a few months with the blogging, but I seem to have slipped back to sporadic again. In fairness, things have been stressful and in fashions that don’t really involve progress or anything that merits talking about. I’ve been working a lot, though I’m still going to need to take some drastic measures to get back out of this hole I’m in, which leaves me a little frustrated.

Last week, Mickey and I went and watched Stardust — it was a jolly good time, though I will say don’t go watch it right after reading the book: it keeps the flavor and mood of the book, but there are definitely some changes. There was an incredibly cute girl sitting near us playing Six Degrees with one of her friends while we all waited for the movie to start, but I didn’t have to nerve to strike up a conversation and ask her name. Alas.

I took today off from work to go deal with my traffic ticket that I’d previously mentioned. Funny story about that: turns out the court date was tomorrow and I’d screwed up my dates, and didn’t realize it until I was already down there. Went in and explain the situation, and they managed to work me onto today’s docket, so I wouldn’t have to miss a second day of work and drive two hours each way again. The end result of the whole affair is that the speeding infraction was thrown out entirely for being ridiculous (I’m sorry, in moderate to heavy traffic, you are NOT going to be able to positively identify a specific car from over a mile out, regardless of whether or not your laser detector can take a reading that far away), and the “failure to pull to the right” was mitigated to a mere (!) $500 (down from $1168), which I’ll be paying in installments over the next six months. So yeah, it would have been nice if I’d managed to get both thrown out, but the whole process could have gone a LOT worse.

I’m looking forward to the day that I’m not scrambling for cash so much. Hopefully that’ll be soon.

(Today’s title is taken from “Human Being” by The Beta Band.)

Grr, Argh… mostly Grr.

Fucking check

Forgive the lack of posts the past few days, things have been keeping me busy (working overtime this weekend, probably next weekend as well). Right now, I just need to share something. I got my paycheck in the mail today, covering my partial week from when I was coming back from vacation. I worked two days… this is my paycheck:

Yes, that’s right, $0.00. It seems that I’m apparently still doing double duty on my benefits (they take out a month’s worth of benefits in advance to cover the month after you leave work), and then both the benefits advance and the normal benefits were doubled again to cover the week I was gone on vacation. After that and taxes, it came to $.58. Which they apparently decided not to issue in the check. You can be damned sure I’ll be looking for that extra $.58 next week.