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I would say this past month has been a resurgence for my friendship with Brittney. I had once thought, if we didn’t reconnect by the start of May, it wouldn’t happen at all because the school year would soon be over. We didn’t hang out till mid-May; better late than never, I guess? Ramadan started soon after so Brittney wasn’t drinking anymore and wasn’t even eating until sun-down. I’d be leaving for Turkey at the beginning of June, so I was a bit concerned that this late start combined with these handicaps would prevent a reconnection.
Brittney actually took me to the airport since my family was out of town on vacation, and helped me out with some good ideas and stayed in touch while I was gone. She couldn’t pick me up when I returned because of some car trouble but I went to her place anyways since she had my truck. As soon as she saw me she greeted me with a hug. Contact. In a way, this evening was a combined celebration of the end of Ramadan, her recently-passed birthday, and my return. I was very sleep-deprived but I really wanted to enjoy this. We hung out with her Nigerian neighbors upstairs. I held back on the alcohol a bit, just so I could hold it together. Fortunately Brittney tapped out around 10 pm. I guess her month of sobriety had temporarily made her a lightweight. That was fine by me. We went back to her place and crashed in short order. I actually fell asleep on the bedroom floor while I waited to sober up. Brittney compelled me to get in bed like a normal human being. Now I’d resolved to never again set foot in her bedroom or sleep in her bed out of regret for what had happened, but here I was, tossing that resolution out the window in the face of my fatigue and intoxication. That’s some real commitment, huh?
The next morning kinda continued with the drinking. I felt like being done, but accidentally recommended some hair of the dog. So the beers continued. Eventually we got out of bed to go get some lunch but detoured to Benji’s apartment instead. I think the accumulation of beers had caught up with Brittney at that point because as soon as lunch was over she conked out on his couch. He had a nice apartment with a balcony over-looking a concert that was getting set up for the night. We’d ostensibly gone over to his place to smoke. He seemed like a fun guy and I smoked a little, but it was kinda quiet with just the two of us. I felt like getting home and getting some genuine rest, so I coaxed Brittney awake and we headed out.
That homecoming meant a lot to me. Quite often Brittney had mentioned how much she missed my company over the two weeks I’d been gone. That was touching. And overall, it felt like things had returned to normal. I hadn’t expected such a present upon my return but I was sincerely grateful to receive it.
Since then we’ve hung out a fair bit. We both have equal amounts of free-time and boredom. I’m trying (and I think she is too) to hold back on the drinking. It just . . . gets old and shouldn’t be what we do all the time. It’s kinda hard to come up with stuff to do. My response to free-time is to tackle a project but I don’t think she’s quite as hands-on or self-propelled. And I wouldn’t want to bring any of my junk to her clean, pet-friendly place. And we both need to be mindful about saving money, so that also limits our options. I know she’s cool with doing absolutely nothing while hanging out but I feel restless when I’m at someone else’s place for no discernible purpose.
So yeah, I’m trying to figure out what to do with the next seven weeks of summer. I may resume driving for Uber if Cameron and Katherine are game. I have a couple costumes to prepare for Dragon*Con, though I’ll admit my enthusiasm is feeble at the moment. I really need to get started though. I have to be cautious not to spend too much. My bank account is reeling from the Turkey trip. And then I had also promised myself I would move out before school resumed which means I need to get on the ball about finding an apartment. I also need to ditch my truck ASAP but I don’t know if I can afford the double whammy of a car payment and apartment stuff all at once. But I can’t just ignore those matters. As much as the truck is an imminent concern I think I’ll focus on the apartment first. I have to get out of this house, sooner than later. Ugh, and I have to put together a robust curriculum for my expanded Earth & Space class. I don’t know whether this is genuinely a long list of things to-do, or just seems that way because I have a deficit of motivation.
Hmm. Well, either way, I’ve got to start chipping away at it.

4-9-17

Apr. 9th, 2017 10:11 pm
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Things are getting better, I would say. Spring Break was really when my mood started to return to normal. Going to SXSW, going to All-Con, and hanging out with friends again reminded me that not every night had to be full of grading, boredom, and loneliness. Pretty much every weekend since then I've had stuff going on, or I've made something happen. I haven't started any costumes yet like I wanted, but I probably won't until I move into my own place this summer. (I would've moved out during Spring Break if it hadn't been for an unexpected $3000 truck repair bill. :T) Then it'll be a mad rush. But that's okay, since I'll be on summer break.
And as soon as we get out for the summer, I'll be heading off to Turkey for two weeks. A lot of people are nay-sayers telling me I shouldn't go because it's not safe or it's financially irresponsible, but there are dangers everywhere and I'd spend the money on something else even if I didn't go. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm a bit behind on my Turkish lessons. I almost think learning Japanese was easier. At least Turkish has a similar alphabet, but so many vowels and odd phonemes and those words are so long too! I don't even know pronouns yet. But anyways, it's going to be awesome. The exchange rate makes it really affordable and allowed me to stretch what I thought what would be a 10-day trip into a 15-day trip. There's a chance I may get lonely or homesick after traveling that long on my own but I think I've got enough planned to keep me occupied. Maybe my next trip abroad I'll actually have a travel partner for once.
Work is . . . moving along. Even though it's the second semester which should just be a repeat of last semester, I'm still so busy every day that when I finally look up, it's the weekend again. I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing. The year will be over before I know it. And the assistant principal that's over the science department let me know in a roundabout way that I'd be welcome there next year. Even though I had no concrete reason to doubt my continued employment, it's good to know that I'm not totally worthless at this teaching stuff. I wish they'd discontinue that one stray “Earth & Space Science” class that I'm solely responsible for. The counselors have turned it into a dumping ground for lazy/challenged students and I neglect planning for it in lieu of my dear physics classes. But . . . I got this job because my civil engineering experience made me uniquely qualified to teach ESS. So if it goes, then so does part of my worth towards the school.
Also, Brittney and I are talking again. It's limited to texting, since I'm holding to that “respect my need for distance” request until told otherwise, but we talk easily and fairly frequently. And she's re-friended (?) me on various online outlets too. These developments have really helped to cut through that knot of unease that's been living in me for months. I'm eager to try and restore that friendship of course. Yet, I know that that's not up to me. So we'll see.
I guess I'd say I'm almost content with how things are going right now.

2-25-15

Feb. 25th, 2015 06:16 pm
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We went to Cat's birthday party this weekend. It was the first time Jane would meet my friends. I was pretty excited; I really wanted to show-off/introduce her to all of them. We overslept our nap and ended up about thirty minutes late as a result. Unfortunately the restaurant hadn't allocated enough space for our party reservation so when we got there we had to cram onto the end of the table away from all my friends. We had to make small-talk with Cat's work friends instead. The restaurant was an all-you-can-eat grill-your-own-meat place but we had to piggyback on someone else's grill to get food. I'd really wanted a chance to introduce Jane to my friends and let them get to know her, so I was really disappointed with the situation. Jane had expressed her disinclination about attended the karaoke after-party so I assumed we'd be going home immediately after dinner. But Jane was very observant and considerate when she realized that we hadn't had a chance to mingle with my friends and said that she'd be willing to go to karaoke.
I was quite pleased that Jane was so understanding. I frankly didn't care about the karaoke but I REALLY wanted my friends to get to know this cool girl I was with. Some of my more cunning friends smuggled their own booze into the karaoke bar (like Amanda) rather than pay for the ridiculously overpriced drinks (like me). I would've brought booze if I'd known we were going to karaoke. Although Jane had often warned that she needed to be seriously drunk to perform karaoke, once Sia came on, she joined in on the fun and didn't look back. I was really happy to be there with her and see her enjoying herself.
Karaoke didn't lend itself well to conversation so we didn't really accomplish my goal of introducing Jane to everyone. But at least everyone saw her face so she's more familiar to them at least.

The next morning we had sex. This time we finished up with Jane on top. It felt especially . . . amazing towards the end. I came, she came. Afterwards, I thought I might have broken through the condom. All I could see was a lot of prophylactic bunched up at the base of my shaft. After inspection I realized that the condom had been drawn so tightly against my penis as to be virtually invisible. That also meant that any semen had been pumped out as well. Some seemed to be on me, some seemed to be on Jane . . . the big question was, "Was there any IN Jane?" That prompted a long, dour (?) talk about what we should do. My reflex answer was Plan B, as it was the only way to be certain. Jane was understandably reluctant about the side effects of Plan B but I couldn't help but wonder if her pro-motherhood stance might've contributed to her reluctance. Even though we thought there was a good chance that my semen was on the outside and thus, nothing to worry about, Jane didn't want the onus (?) of an accidental pregnancy falling squarely at her feet because she chose not to take a single pill.
So we went to the drug store, got Plan B, and took it. Although the box warned of three potential days of unpleasant side effects, Jane experienced only very mild effects. She attributed it to her tendency NOT to experience side effects from all of her prescription medicines. So although it was an unexpected turn of events, things turned out as well as we could've hoped.

A-kon 2014

Jun. 11th, 2014 10:56 pm
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This past weekend was A-kon. I ended up rooming with a totally random grab-bag of new people. There was nothing special or amazing about that, though our room party got pretty huge a couple of nights, which ain't for me. I hadn't been able to get the official time off for A-kon as I'd requested, so I had a couple of shifts interrupting/abbreviating my convention. I was mildly hungover when I reported to work Friday morning and that didn't do me any favors. So Friday night I took it relatively easy with the booze. Saturday would turn out to be my cosplay day. I cosplayed all three of the costumes I'd brought along, which is probably a new daily record for me.
As a bonus, Lindsay was also at the con on Saturday. I'd met her online about a month ago and we'd gone on a couple of dates. The dates had gone well enough, aside from the common ailment of struggling to find things to talk about. She's a mild cosplayer and fortunately/unfortunately(?) her friends wouldn't be attending A-kon, which meant that I was her sole option for accompaniment. I didn't have any cosplay or scheduling commitments, so I was content to have someone to bum around with. After an hour or so of text-tag and hide-and-go-seek, we managed to find each other and spent most of the day with each other. The online metrics say we're a very strong match personality-wise. I have trouble reading her though. I can't tell if her quietness and lack of outward expression is just because she's a reserved person, or if she's bored/uninterested with me and thus disengaged. I figure if she weren't interested, she wouldn't have stuck around. It's just weird that I can't discern any positive or negative cues from her.
She certainly looked cute in her Kiki costume. We wandered the con, grabbed some lunch, and went up to my room for awhile so that she could charge her phone. She'd just driven in for the day, so had no charger or change of clothes for that matter. Later on we went to the cosplay contest, which ran long. We got out of there about 10 pm and we were both ravenous and chose to wait in the long lines for the food trucks. By the end of dinner, Lindsay seemed to finally be relaxing/warming up to me. It being 11 pm, I was ready to switch to drinking and socializing. I proposed that Lindsay join me but she declined. After all, she had to drive home and she'd been wearing the same costume all day long. So I walked her back to her car and that was that.
The rest of the night was typical con goodness. I strengthened some friendships, made some new buddies, and unfortunately missed some people that I only get to see this one time of year. That's just how these things go.
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So. Since my last installment in August, what's happened? Well, I passed my PACT test with flying colors, scoring a 92%; it seems that cheating was mostly unnecessary. But as important as that test was, I wasn't going to leave anything to chance.
While waiting for my scores I attended Dragon*Con. Like always, it was the highlight of my con year. I think I've gotten the hang of that con. So many more of my friends attended this year. It seems like the center of gravity has shifted from AnimeFest to Dragon*Con, so I think it'll be the go-to Labor Day event for everyone I know next year.
I sat in Austin twiddling my thumbs until about Thanksgiving before I FINALLY got a reply from the University of Texas at Dallas saying that I had been accepted. That was a huge relief. I moved up to Plano and settled in at my brother's place ASAP. My mother and sister visited for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those holidays were as minimally unpleasant as could be expected.
I returned to Austin for the New Year's weekend, as I'd agreed long ago to volunteer to work the Ikki-con cosplay staff for Beauty. The work wasn't too demanding, but the hours were long, which prevented me any opportunity to take photos or go drinking with friends. I felt under-utilized and that I was mostly wasting my time but whatever. I was doing a favor for a friend.
I have to say I'm considerably more comfortable living here with my brother and his wife and toddler than I'd been in Austin or Richardson. I suppose the fact that I'm family neutralizes my reflex feeling of being a guest that I'd experienced at the other places I've lived recently.
School started just over a week ago. I was kinda nervous. Partly because of my age and the associated decline of cognitive abilities that go with it. And also, I signed up for 15 hours before I was informed that in graduate school, 9 hours is considered 'full-time'. As it takes 30 hours to get teacher's certification, I wanted to finish it in two semesters. So I was worried I'd bitten off too much. But if the first week is any indication, then this liberal arts degree plan is significantly easier than the work load I'm used to from my old engineering plan.
The only fly in the ointment is that I need to get a job. I took out a chunk of money from my retirement fund to pay the up-front cost of school and my rent/bills are modest enough that I can handle them for now just with what I've saved up. I've sent out maybe a dozen applications and I haven't gotten any nibbles. Perhaps it's because my heart isn't in it. I suspect that I haven't gotten any replies because I'm overqualified for the retail jobs which I'm loathe to do anyways, and yet I can't commit the time to any employment more serious than that. And the knowledge that I could dip into my retirement again (if I had no other choice) is probably sapping at any motivation I have to find a job. I KNOW I need to find one, if for no other reason than to sponsor my hobbies and social life. And truth be told, I have too much free time on my hands right now. I NEED to be doing something. I just can't seem to give half a damn about any of the job opportunities that I have a chance at landing and I may be too proud(?) to go back to minimum wage fast food drudgery.
If I could get the employment issue sorted out, I'm sure I'd have smooth sailing for the rest of 2014. We'll see.
In a couple weeks I should begin tutoring at a local school district. It seems a bit sudden to me, until I realized that I tested my way into the final phase of the teacher certification program. The FBI is running a background check on me as we speak, to see if I'm fit to work with children. I'm 90% sure I'll pass their scrutiny. I'm curious to experience this student teaching. Often, our instructors hark back to the purpose and idealized mission/drive that all teachers should have. This is kinda new to me; in engineering, our professors never spoke about what it meant to be an engineer or what sort of qualities you had to have, if you were willing and able, that was all that mattered. So when our pedagogical professors talk about how compassion and caring for students should be foremost, I find myself thinking, “Well I like kids, but it's science that I love.” By their metrics, it should be the other way around. Or at least, that's the impression that I get. Maybe this student teaching will show me if that disparity will be a problem or if it's just a phantom.

8-25-13

Aug. 25th, 2013 09:41 pm
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So, let's see.
Last week I took my PACT Physics test (the test that assesses if I'm proficient enough at Physics to teach it). I'd been studying constantly since I quit my job at Fugro, about 2 weeks prior. The odd thing about this physics test is that the majority of it was about chemistry, which I wasn't too thrilled to have to study again. I took the practice test after a week of studying, since I was already burnt out by then and wanted some sort of proof that I could stop studying. I got a 69%, which I was satisfied with since I figured it was close enough to 70. But then read in the fine print that 80% is the minimum passing grade. So there would be no slacking off for me till the test date.
I snuck in some notes about formulas into the test. If I was caught cheating I'd get kicked out and would miss my chance to apply for spring 2014 semester. But there were just WAY too many formulas for me to memorize so I took that chance. There were plenty of video cameras in the testing room. If someone has cause to view that tape, then I'll get busted. But seeing as how I wasn't kicked out I figure I'm okay. Although, there was one question concerning pendulums, which I hadn't bothered to study (or cheat for). So I improvised and used the computer's wired mouse to conduct an experiment to get the answer. That might have raised an eyebrow or two. I don't know if that's something that could be considered cheating.
We were given 5 hours to take the test. I could've finished it in two hours, but the two weeks of studying had shown me that my biggest hurdle was my own sloppiness in algebra. Not that I didn't know the algebraic rules, just that I've become TERRIBLY sloppy for lack of practice. So I used the entire 5 hours to exhaustively review my work.
I believe I passed, but I usually feel over-optimistic about tests, especially given my success on the last PACT exam. I should get my scores in another day or two. I was hoping the scores would take two weeks to come back (as they had with the paper-based test), so that I could enjoy Dragon*Con blissfully ignorant of my fate. It would suck to fail the test and have a pall cast over my favorite event of the year. Oh well. Best to know my fate sooner than later, I suppose. Once I know those scores I'll be able to decide whether I can continue with my graduate school plans or if I'll have to re-assess my job options with the degree and experience I have in-hand.

But what I really wanted to post about is DRAGON*CON!
I'm very excited this year. Once I took the exam I was freed to spend this past week furiously finishing up my costumes. I've nothing major planned; this year's costumes are fairly simple and casual. I almost feel guilty for not making something commensurate with my skill and experience. Almost. But Dragon*Con is all about drinking and fun, so no worries. Now that I've got my costumes laid out, I realize that I could've easily flown instead, but it's too late to think about flights. Luckily, I'll be driving out with Sarah, a longtime acquaintance and new Texan transplant. That roadtrip should prove to be much more fun than the past two times I drove with Courtney (she slept 90% of the way).
I'm most excited about the fact that an unprecedented number of my friends will finally be attending D*C with me. After 4 years of singing D*C's praises, it seems I've worn them down. I've filled my rooms with returning roommates. I would've rather roomed with new friends, but this is okay too. My resolution this year is to not drink so DAMNED much. I tend to wander off from the group when I do that, and it's fun and all, but I miss out on our shenanigans and making memories and all that crap. This year I'll be a good boy and stay put. And by not drinking so much, I should still possess a concept of 'time' and be able to attend a panel or two.

I CAN'T WAIT.
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I came home from a week-long job in Kerrville to find that we had guests at the house. I'd forgotten that this weekend was Addison's birthday. As I'd been wanting to make some headway on my cosplay projects, I was disgruntled at first when I realized that would be impossible with company around. Then I was re-informed that the birthday plan was to go float the river on Saturday. That definitely improved my mood. The sour-puss part of me quibbled, 'well if I stay at home I can do my cosplay, plus I don't know any of the people who are going, blahblahblah.' Fortunately I didn't listen to him. Guests continued to stream in that evening and we went out to Kerbey Lane for dinner. I had some drinks to neutralize my instinctive stranger aversion. It may not have made me more likeable, but it made me more comfortable.
It took us awhile to get the group out of bed and on the road Saturday morning; we got onto the water about one. Although the weather had been unseasonably cold the past few days, today it was perfect. And since it's still relatively early in the tubing season, the river wasn't crowded at all. Our girls looked great in their bikinis; I was the least in-shape guy in our group but whatever. I wasn't about to wear a shirt like some insecure teenager. The only hiccup we had was when the river police pulled us over to inform us that disposable containers weren't allowed on the river. We were able to chug/improvise alternate drinking methods so it didn't stall our party for too long. I lost my waterproof camera in the river soon afterwards due to a faulty velcro strap on my pocket. I greatly regretted that as it would mean I'd have no way to recall the hot girls or drunken shenanigans that would follow.
This was my first time on the Comal River. The floating section was short-ish. We were in the water for a little more than 3 hours (yet that turned out to be plenty enough time for almost everyone to get sloshed). There was a fun tube chute and a waterfall that would have been fun if we'd been warned that it was coming. Instead, we all fell over it ungracefully, many losing clothes, shoes, or other belongings in the process.
Once we got back on land we realized just how drunk we were. Or at least, that's what I've been able to piece together. I don't actually remember the end of our float. (I wasn't the only one who was that bad off.) The bus ride back, dropping off our tubes, getting changed, none of it. Ashley somehow got my keys and refused to let me drive my truck to dinner. I know I shouldn't have protested, but my pride was pricked; I've never had a drunken accident before so I think I could've managed. I'm embarrassed that I repaid her generous act with fussiness during the ride. We stopped at the semi-legendary Bucee's gas station on the way over. We needed to buy Addison a pair of shoes if we were going to gain entry to the GristMill restaurant. While there Amanda yelled at a field-trip group of high school choir kids. I think I was hitting on the girl handing out sausage samples. We were sloppy and stupid. I wish I'd had my camera with me.
We ate at the Gristmill; every time I've gone tubing, we've eaten there so it seems to be part of some unspoken tubing ritual. The restaurant overlooked the river and semi-feral cats prowled the grounds for scraps while keeping their distance. The food and time to rest did us some good.
Amanda's passed out on the bench, Daniel looks lost, and I'm staring into the ether.


I was okay to drive myself and Addison back to Austin after dinner. On the way he repeatedly offered to give me a 'roadie beej'. I guess it was flattering? That's a standing offer that I'll probably never cash in. Heh, it just amuses me how the only times I ever have genuine conversations about sex, it's always with either lesbians or gay guys. Anyways, we all pretty much were worthless once we got back home, succumbing to the need to eat Taco Bell and watch Bob's Burgers.

This morning while everyone was sleeping it off, I got up early and drove back to the river. I'd left my credit card there as a tube deposit and I wanted to at least try to find my camera. It had a bright yellow floaty tied to it, so I thought there was a chance I could spot it. I was able to narrow down the likely area within 150' stretch of river but that's still a lot of riverbed to cover. The river was very pretty and quiet this early in the day, without any tubers or families there. There were just a few swimmers and a group of scuba people. I crisscrossed the river, bobbing up and down to the bottom. I found some sunglasses and someone's keys, but no camera of mine. After about an hour of swimming against the current to stay in place and diving to the bottom (with a mild hangover to boot), I was spent. I don't know what I was more upset over; the financial loss or the loss of the photos of our girls looking good. It was an old, buggy camera anyways so whatever I guess. I left town without remembering to pick up my credit card, so it was a wasted trip.

Even with that taken into account, it was still a fun day. Next time I'll adjust my drinking to the Goldilocks zone and plan things better. I've got at least two other tubing events on my summer calendar already and I'm looking forward to each one.

:)

Tiny Pot

Apr. 23rd, 2013 10:50 pm
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I’ve been living with Daniel and Addison for two weeks now. It was a huge relief to have them take me in with just 24-hours notice, essentially. Especially considering I don’t know Addison at all and only ever met Daniel once one evening at last year’s Dragon*Con. I really lucked out; I think all my other friends in Austin only have small one-bedroom apartments. These guys have a two bedroom house-partment? It’s got like two living rooms essentially and my space is half of the spare one. At 9’ by 7’, it’s a . . . cozy living space. I really miss having my own SPACE. It’s been eight years since I lived with people(s) I wasn’t LIVING WITH. I’m terribly self-conscious of all the noise/mess/smells/disarray I create with my cosplay habits, so I don’t know what to do with myself when I’m at home. Nothing against Daniel and Addison, but I’d rather be living in someone’s backyard if it meant I didn’t have to worry about such things.
I tell myself to be patient, that I’ll adjust with a little more time. And even if I don’t, well I shouldn’t be here more than 3 months or so. Well, that’s what I was assuming. While renewing my graduate applications, I realized that all Texas universities require a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, no exceptions. Even the alternative certification programs require a 2.5. My 2.4 GPA may well exclude me from graduate school. UT Austin required a 3.0, which explains why they didn’t even bother with my application. I will re-apply to the other UT schools (read, ‘the less prestigious ones’) I’m considering, on the off-chance that my GRE scores might earn me a probationary status.
But I’m not going to hang my hopes on that. I need to start coming up with a non-graduate school Plan B. I can’t think what that might be at the moment, but I simply can’t continue to languish at my current job.
Speaking of work, that continues to be dwindling. Last week I exhausted the last of my vacation hours trying to stretch my paycheck towards 40 hours for the week. This week I might get 10 hours. An engineer and I have been working to get a large, local project kicked off in the near/immediate future, but as fickle as things can be in this business that could be next week or 2 months down the line.
So when Boss #0 asked if I’d consider an assignment in Mozambique, I couldn’t justify saying no. I don’t know shit about the job or that country, but I don’t have any other options. He’s submitted my resumè and that of another guy who’s in the same situation as me; so that’s a 50/50 chance that I could go. Looking up Mozambique on Wikipedia didn’t do anything to raise my enthusiasm and from what little I’ve heard about our other African assignments, it might entail living in a secure compound the entire time and being escorted by hired security. Further discouraging me from indulging my whims to go exploring is the fact that I don’t speak a lick of Portuguese or any of the native tongues. Even if the job turns out to be that confining and risky, I think I could endure it for the 4-6 week duration they described. Now that my Plan A for graduate school seems to be in jeopardy, I’ve put a pronounced emphasis on making what money I can while I’m still with this outfit. If I go, I go. Get another stamp on my passport.
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Tonight's my last night in Austin. I just realized that I've been here for exactly 8 years, to the day. I started my job here on February 1st, 2005; I arrived in Austin just the day before with my old Elantra packed to the gills and checked in to a Super 8 motel. Tomorrow I'm moving on to Dallas, with hopes for graduate school and a new career. My house is practically empty. I'm lying on an air mattress in the living room, nothing else in here but a folding table and chair and my bike. With this emptiness and quiet, I can't help but reflect on these eight years.
I'd made lots of friends, lost most of them, and kept a few good ones. I've gone from being a optimistic, inexperienced engineer to a disillusioned, inexperienced engineer. There was a brief time where I thought I could and would make this my life. Hmph. While moving all of my stuff into storage I realized just how much I'd amassed these eight years and I looked at it all, each bit of it telling me what had been important to me, or what I'd tried to accomplish at one time or another. I'd been in my first serious relationship and engaged. For a brief time I thought that would be my life. In a similar way, i was also naive on that front.
I can't say that I've accomplished much in these eight years, not by any typical standard. It doesn't bother me to admit that. Sure, I can imagine where I'd like to have been by now, or think how things might've been different if I'd made certain decisions sooner, but I know that each step happened in it's time. In my time, at my pace, I got to where I am.
I guess if anything, I just feel a bit sad that this chapter is ending and with it, the level of security and familiarity that comes with such a long stay. That's half the reason I'm moving to Dallas, to divorce myself from the complacency and routine that could undermine my intent to change my career. My office is still here in Austin and I'll still be here on a regular basis, but it'll be as a visitor from now on. I would've liked to have lived here for the rest of my life, and that may yet somehow happen, but for now . . .
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Friday evening I had tickets to go to the Perot Museum's 'After Hours Adult Event' with Stephanie and Josh. From the website's description it sounded like a fun blend of drinks and scientific learning. Ever the optimist, I'd purchased two tickets a month ago, expecting to have someone to go with. Katie volunteered to come along to round out the group. Rush hour was obnoxious, causing us to get there after Josh and Steph had arrived. Once there, I was disappointed to find out that drinks were NOT included with admission (the website was a bit misleading about that). Fortunately, I'd done my drinking before we'd arrived so I was little inconvenienced by this development.
The event was not what I'd expected. Rather than having lectures/speakers/a presentation, it was basically just: you're free to wander around the museum with over-priced drinks. I bought a couple of $6 beers anyways. I might have enjoyed the museum except that there were so many people there that all the fun interactive exhibits were always full and the crowds made it difficult to just stroll and peruse. I gained more entertainment from people-watching. It was a consistently young, urban, smart crowd. (What I'm saying is the girls were cute and nerdy! XD) I think every guy there was wearing a blazer and ironic glasses; I didn't know that was the event's dress code. Regardless, we still managed to have fun. I liked the 'Human Floor' most. It was some plasticized cross-sections of people (ala Human Worlds), an infrared camera that revealed that Stephanie's outfit was X-ray-able, and a cool projector that could display the arteries and veins of anything you stuck in it. Morbidly fascinating, and I'm sure I wasn't the only guy to wonder what else you could stick in there.

Saturday was the 'Great Foodening' party hosted by Stephanie and Josh. As I was staying in a hotel, I couldn't really cook/bake anything. I'd planned to buy a booze gift on the way, but it wasn't until I reached Forth worth that I realized I'd forgotten my wallet. So I arrived empty-handed without a gift. Call me the Little Drummer Boy. Pa-rum-pa-rum-pum. The spread was pretty good due in large part to Katie's abundant contributions. I knew virtually everyone there, which made this a very comfortable gathering. The only person I didn't know was Courtney's new boyfriend. I was curious where and how she conjured him up from so quickly, but of course it wasn't my place to ask. For her sake I hope she didn't jump into a relationship too quickly again.
After the initial gorging, we played Cards Against Humanity and then half the crowd went outside to smoke hookah while us squares watched the latest episodes of Adventure Time and Archer.
Later that evening a tipsy Lisa pulled me aside to say that she and Nick missed me, now that Courtney and I were no longer together. Even though she'd always have her BFF's back, we were still cool. That was very sweet of her to say and helped assuage my worry that breaking up with Courtney meant that I was also breaking up with them. I wanted to re-assure her that we'd still manage to hang out, but the only sure thing I could think of was, "Well, we've always got Dragon*Con." She corrected me, "No, we'll always have McAllen and Fakku.net," two embarrassing things that we share. Pervy Kevin must've heard us talking about porn because he parachuted into the conversation and spooked Lisa, thus ending our moment of bonding.
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Ooo, it’s been a fun, busy holiday break. It’s so difficult going back to being responsible again.
Christmas-y poos
We finished up our work in Denton on the 22nd. I stuck around for an additional day when I found out that my mom was visiting my brother. I didn’t want to make separate return trip to pay my respects on Christmas, so this was a fortunate coincidence. We spent the day entirely at their place; my mom ooh-ing and aah-ing over baby Lilly, Kat and Cameron playing video games, while I fiddled with cosplay. It was a low-key but still pleasant visit.
Before I left DFW I also visited David and Kelly’s place, where I’ll be staying this year. They’ve got a nice house with plenty of space and better yet, they’re remodeling the place. I’ll be able to make use of my dormant carpentry skills and lends them a hand (and my power tools). I’m excited about staying there.
Back in Austin I jumped straight into building the Man Cave version 4.0. It’s not the highest priority project on my list, but it’s such a big project that I need to get it done while I still have my spacious house to work in. I like to think this will be the final version of this party tent.
Jenny, Beauty, and Mel came by for the remnants of my Krampusnacht celebration. Having just arrived back in Austin the day before, I only had enough time to get the basic party refreshments; honestly, this was just an excuse to do some drinking without eggnog or ugly sweaters. We chilled at my place for an hour before relocating to a karaoke bar down the road. There were a lot of black people there, for some sort of Xmas gathering, it seemed. The one young goth couple was amusingly out-of-place. On our way out we met a cute faux-hawked girl by the name Maybelline. Yeah, seriously.
Between Krampus and Karaoke, I was too worn out to join Jenny and Beauty for their LudaCristmas bar crawl the next night. The highlight of my Christmas was going to see “Django Unchained.” It was pretty cool. When I returned from the theater, I was surprised to find my mom at my house. Apparently she’d left Dallas a day early, to avoid the ice and snow forecasted for the 26th. I only had to endure the motherly inquisition for that evening; she left early the next morning.

Ikkicon
Between finishing up the Man Cave and starting to move my furniture into my new storage unit, I also fixed up Ice King and made a new Dolan head to wear for Ikkicon on Saturday. I hadn’t found anyone to room with so I had half a mind not to go but I knew this would be my last chance to see my cosplay buddies for a few months.
It definitely wasn’t easy handling/putting on Ice King without a handler. It took me two hours to get it from my truck and put it on in the hotel lobby bathroom. When I realized I’d forgotten a key piece of the costume I was really tempted to say “Fuck it,” but I improvised a fix. I knew it wouldn’t look good.
Ice King photo under the cut because I can't look at, and notes to myself on how to fix it )

Despite the problems, Ice King got a lot of praise, being hailed as both the “best” and “creepiest” Ice King ever. I knew that was a possibility when I made the costume. Sightless eyes often tend to unsettle people. Heh heh.
I changed out of Ice King quickly so that I could go assist Jenny and Beauty with their own over-sized costumes at the cosplay contest. While at the truck I poured myself a big, stiff drink. Without a room (and room party) to call my own, I figured this was my best chance to get into the ‘con spirit’. In hindsight, this was a poor decision. I’d been so busy with my costumes that I hadn’t eaten that day and wearing Ice Kin had dehydrated me, so the rum packed a much faster, stronger punch than normal.
I was fairly buzzing by the time I got back to the con. I had no badge to get into main programming with, so I ninja-ed my way in behind a group of photographers. We still had an hour to wait for the contest to start. I sat with Jenny, Beauty, and Cat for awhile before noticing Crystal’s TTGL group sitting a row behind us. I went to go chat with them. I got a little too handsy during Crystal’s show-and-tell about her costume. Or maybe I had been stroking my own thigh; I’m not 100% what exactly happened. Either way, I regret that blunder.
When the cosplayers went backstage I sat with Amanda, Juby, and new-friend Anne. Juby lent me one of her sizable camera lenses. It was so big that at first I thought it must’ve been her boyfriend’s; since when do women focus on the size of their equipment? If I’d been sober I would’ve been more excited about playing with a new toy. As it was though, I was more like, “How do I camera?” We were soon asked to vacate the first 3 rows to make room for the “VIPs”. No problem. But rather than see industry guests and cosplay pros come in, it was just normal weaboo shlubs. Apparently they paid an extra fee to get the good seats. I don’t know if I approve of that.
Overall, the cosplay participants had some solid, well-done costumes. I was surprised at the level of quality, given the relatively small size of Ikkicon’s attendance. After the contest we went to dinner at a delicious Thai restaurant. The sobering walk there and back helped buy me some time but my memory gets spotty after that. From what I remember, it was a fun night.

New Year’s Eve
Traditionally we have our NYE party at Jenny’s and Beauty’s. With them moving out this month, that was looking doubtful for awhile. But they held on and hosted another one. This year the theme was ‘the Future!’. I found that it’s hard to make a futuristic costume that isn’t post-apocalyptic (which was last year’s theme). Indeed, only Jenny and Stephanie made costumes of any relevance; I shed my own costume within minutes of arriving. The house was soon filled to bursting with people and booze. The weather outside was too cold and wet for anyone but the most determined smoker to brave. I managed to stay Goldilocks-drunk and Beauty took up my duties/camera as videographer. Midnight came way too soon for my liking. People did start to disappear after that, but a good core of revelers stayed with us till around 4 am. It was good times.
Oh yeah, and this happened. Yup, the ole Dress-and-Shirt-Swap. I thought I'd see some boobs in the process, but somehow I was hoodwinked.



And then this was the . . . most coherent video that Beauty shot with my camera.

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So let's see.
Last weekend I went to Courtney's to drop off the little bit of her stuff I'd found at my place and to also give back her key, which I'd unknowingly kept. I'd suggested just stopping by while she was at work to drop off her stuff and then mail her her own spare key (or destroy it), as a way of exchanging items without any face-to-face time. But she said she wanted to do this in person. That had me thinking she wanted to talk? about something I guess. That made me a bit apprehensive but it turned out to be for naught. I was in and out within 10 minutes; it was just business. Walking back down the stairs to my car, I did feel a bit of the same choked-up-ed-ness from the last time I saw her, but it was quickly tamped down. I guess that's the last of the loose ends.

We'll be wrapping up our work in Denton tomorrow and then I've got 10 days off for the holidays. I've got plenty of projects I'm itching to start; most involve power tools. But I NEED to focus on packing up my house in preparation for the move. I received quite a few genuine offers in response to my Adopt-a-Cody posting on Facebook. I'd only expected one or two. Imagine my surprise when I had to choose and start turning down peoples' offers. I had to choose between Austin and Dallas. The former is the city I love and want to live in always, but Dallas is wear most of my friends now live and so does my brother. That brought the decision to a stalemate until I figured that numerically, I was more likely to get accepted to one of the colleges in the metroplex. So if I'm likely to be schooling there, now's a good time to familiarize myself with the area. Plus, living there will help expedite the application process. I hate to do this to you, Austin, but I will be back.

I won't officially be moving out of Austin till the end of January. After then I'll be rooming with the gracious David & Kelly in Dallas. At least, until they get tired of me. I could always be a wandering house guest and just stay with a new friend every other weekend. Who knows. We'll see how it all pans out.
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Things may not be as bad up here as I first assumed. No one bothered to inform me of the relevant details that would’ve improved my attitude about coming back here. The workload has dropped off considerably, from 4 drill rigs to just one. Now it’s just a one man job, not like when I was scrambling trying to be in four places at once. From what I can gather, this remaining drill rig is working one of the last structures, so there shouldn’t be more than a month or two of work left to do. Since the workload here can be handled by one inspector, if I were to come up here again, it would only be for when the full-time guy takes his one week off each month.
The prospect of working just a week per month is a magnitude of difference compared to working 3 weeks a month. I’d have no complaints to that option. Combining that with my Texas work schedule, I’d be making double my base pay, plus I’d be racking up the frequent flier miles very quickly.
This is a huge relief. I can start looking towards the future optimistically and make plans, rather than limiting my thoughts just to the day immediately before me.
I return to Austin on the first of December and I’ll take the following week off to start packing up my house and move it into storage. On the 10th I’ll join the drillers for one more 10-day shift up in DFW before a 2-week break for the holidays. I would like to see my brother for Christmas but I know that drive will be horrendous and it doesn’t seem worth it just to hang out for a few hours. So without any other DFW-centric plans, I don’t think I’ll be going up there. I don’t know if Jenny and Beauty will be hosting their traditional New Year’s Eve party since they’re also moving house in December. So for the time being I have no real holiday plans. We’ll see what comes up.
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Another Dragon*Con is in the books. This was the best one yet. I wish I didn’t have to wait a whole year to go again!
Dragon*Con 2012 )

Like other Dragon*Cons, I wish I could’ve spent more time with those people I don’t see anywhere else, or got to meet more new cosplay acquaintances. Only getting to meet certain people once a year places maybe too much hope and expectation on chance encounters, I suppose. But I am happy with one new development to come out of Dragon*Con. I can confidently call Nick & Lisa my friends now. Even though we all hung together quite a bit at Anime Expo this year, I still considered them just my ‘girlfriend’s friends’, and thus just acquaintances of mine. I’m not one to quickly or easily warm up to new people, so this development means something to me. All the cosplay fun and drunken shenanigans aside, that was the best part of Dragon*Con for me.
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Just got my full GRE test scores in the mail today and was disappointed. On the verbal reasoning (logic/words) I got in the 96th percentile. In the quantitative reasoning (math) I got in the 82nd percentile. But my analytical writing (essays) score was way down in the 29th percentile. I know my typing output was hobbled by the fact that I was reduced to hunt-and-peck typing, so that might account for part of it, but I still can't believe I did that poorly on the essay questions.

I'm quite bummed out and discouraged by these results. As far as my application for graduate school goes, my college GPA was unimpressive and I have no virtually no experience that would recommend me to the graduate program, so I was REALLY relying on strong test scores to improve my chances at being accepted. There's a 60-day waiting period between GRE testing sessions, so even if I wanted to take it again and improve my score, it'd be too late to get an application in for Fall 2012. All I can do right now is submit my application and hope for the best.
With the applications due at the end of February, I'll be sending out my requests for letters of recommendation this week, bothering my friends and family for that favor. I've a few application essays to write this week too; apparently I'll need to try really hard on those. After that, it's all out of my hands. Nothing to do but wait.
This weekend I'll be heading up to Dallas. Courtney had been coming down to Austin the past couple times, which was a pleasant change of pace. Highlights of those weekends included watching "Aliens" at the Alamo Drafthouse with Michael Beihn (Corporal Hicks) in attendance, drunken trivia night with J&B&S at Opal Devine's, Goodwill hunting, tattoo art revival/flea market shopping, and shark fighting (one of those is not true).
This Saturday Stephanie's planning a japanese-themed party. It will be fun to hang with my DFW pals again (plus, the sushi!).
And I've FINALLY got all the ingredients together to do a life-casting of my head. I'd ordered the stuff back in December, but me being me, managed to forget this, that, and the other thing. Sure, I'd like to do this in the convenience and mess-friendly environs of my own home, but I'll do it up in DFW if need be. I don't wanna wait another two weeks for my next chance. I figured I'll need an accurate duplicate of my head for sculpting the Hound's helm (Game of Thrones) and my old plaster one is due for retirement. This costume will be expensive and time-consuming, but it will be relevant at Dragon*Con and the Renaissance Faires, so I'll get plenty of mileage out of it. I need to keep making steady progress on it if I'm going to have it ready in time for those events.

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I think most peeps on my friends list are represented on FB, but just in case:

If you'd like to receive a Happy Holidays card this season, comment here with your address and you'll soon find a surprise in your mailbox!
Comments are screened, of course.
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This post was written two weeks ago, but I've been lousy at updating. Let me get this out of the way so that I can start getting caught up.

TRF )

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