Zenith?

Feb. 28th, 2014 01:20 am
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While driving home today I caught myself in a rather ebullient mood. A bit of reflection revealed to me that the reason for my mood was that at this moment, it seems that everything is going well and moving forward for me.
At the beginning of this year, I'd looked into the possibility of working as a tutor at a tutoring business. That didn't go anywhere, but I eventually found my way to a website that serves as an intermediary between tutors and potential students. It wasn't until my conventional job hunting was going nowhere that I began to seriously consider that sort of freelance work. Yesterday I had my first tutoring gig. I was nervous as the hour drew near. It's one thing to test well and prove competency to yourself, but that may not correlate at all to how effective you are at teaching. I pulled up at the student's residence and was somewhat dismayed to see a giant affluent house situated in a country club community. I was reminded of my mom's stories of her tutoring experiences, where rich parents would just burn money on tutors for their dumb or apathetic kids. I was worried that might be the situation I was about to experience.
I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, at first when the student pulled out his geometry homework, it looked nigh incomprehensible. But after a few minutes of letting him take the lead in explaining what he was trying to do, the vocabulary and theorems came back to me. We started clicking pretty quickly and I soon had a firm grasp on where to focus his attention and what ideas would be instrumental to his grades. Luckily for me, he was an engaged and intelligent kid. From what I could gather, I assume the only reason for his difficulty is that the teacher cannot provide enough in-depth explanation or direct instruction, for whatever reason that may be. The mother seemed to have already concluded that we should meet twice a week. I doubt Zarar will need that much help, but I couldn't resist the offer for a more consistent revenue and besides, it can't hurt to be extra diligent, so long as the student is okay with the regimen.
I was delighted with the successful outcome and the prospect of a long-term job opportunity. More than that, it was rewarding and relieving to have an experience that says I just might actually be a good teacher after all.
Oh, and speaking of jobs, I was starting to worry about my job offer from Chipotle. I'd filled out all the necessary forms by Thursday evening, the same day of my interview. But I didn't hear anything else from the all weekend. Complete radio silence. Not until Tuesday did they call me and say to bring in my license and social security card so that I can be 'put on the schedule'. But when I told the manager that I didn't have my card available, she wasn't able to offer me any alternatives; not even my passport would suffice. I said I'd do what I could. So I spent Tuesday afternoon at the Social Security office up in McKinney, doing what I could to expedite my replacement card. They gave me a receipt that proved my number belonged to me. I went in to Chipotle today with some trepidation that this still wouldn't be acceptable. The general manager appeared to receive my documents, but then stopped when she saw that I didn't have my card. When I told her it'd be two weeks for the replacement to come in, the expression on her face told me this might be a deal-breaker. She stepped away to call her manager and I wondered if this was a no-go. Then she came back and told me that my passport WOULD work. Okay, that's not what I'd been told, but whatever works. So I'll have to go back on Friday with my passport to finalize all this, but I'm glad to know that I'm still holding onto this job opportunity.
I took it easy at the gym today because I forgot my water bottle. With the air as cold and dry as it is right now, my exercise-induced asthma is tricky to manage. Constant hydration and mindful breathing techniques seems to keep it at bay. But anyways, I weighed myself on the scale and either the last scale I used was wrong, or else I've actually lost weight. I'm certain I wrote a post this time last year, when I crossed the 200-lb mark (though I can't find it); that's what prompted me to start being more disciplined about food and exercise. Today I was at 187, according to the scale. That difference is more than can be attributed to error; the only conclusion is that my efforts, inconsistent as they may be, have had an effect. I'm pleased with this. I was worried that I'd get softer, now that I'm living with my brother's family. They've got snacks everywhere and they're less concerned about healthy eating (as is evidenced by my brother's waistline).
I continue to expand my workout regimen at the university gym. Every week I add a new machine to my regimen. I still don't have any real strategy to my workout, but I figure each machine must confer some benefit. Ultimately I'd like to get around to using the weights/weight machines, but I'm most clueless and least confident about those. I don't know if that'll happen. And on top of that, I've been pretty good about riding my bike to and from the bus stops to get to school. That's 5 miles roundtrip each day that I go to school, rain, shine, or sleet. The only exceptions have been when I have too much stuff to carry with me, like today since I had a presentation to rehearse. All things considered, I'm fairly confident that if I maintain my current commitment, I'll continue to see physical improvements. Once the weather warms up I'll be able to push myself even harder. Woo! Eventually I'm going to be a hottie! *knock on wood*
The other developments are a bit more difficult to quantify, but I'm sure they're just as integral to my current feeling of satisfaction. To put it simply, I think I'm fitting in with my classmates. I know maybe I'm just too self-conscious about my age. I just think if the situation were reversed and I was in my early 20's, I'd be dis-inclined to hang-out/chat with someone a decade my senior, especially if they were the opposite gender. To my surprise, I haven't perceived any of that disinterest or aversion that I was expecting. It helps that almost all my classes utilize cooperative learning (group work), which helped as an initial ice-breaker. I'm on a first-name basis with an unexpected number of my classmates. Rather than being avoidant, the gals seem to be cool with my company. I commonly walk with one partway to her dorm after class, chatting. Tonight the cute one in my Psychology class said she hopes that she can work on a project with me. I'd assumed the gals would be the most skittish of all, so this outcome has done much to assuage my initial doubts about fitting in.
With all these aspects in positive territory, I can't help but feel good about my current situation.
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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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As any regular LJ-user may have noticed, LJ's been having a bit of trouble lately (more than usual, it seems). With the help of [personal profile] becala I found an alternate journal website that should provide a good mirror in case LJ goes belly-up.
I'd been postponing writing any new posts because I wanted to wait for Dreamwidth to import all my old LJ entries first. But LJ's epileptic fits have prevented that, so whatever. I've got writing needs that are going unmet!

I know I've posted the hell out of my Japan trip, but there's a re-cap/post-game/end credits post that's been bouncing around in my head and I need to get it out before I can write anything else. (I promise this is my last Japan entry!) So, here are my Top 5 Reasons Why Japan is Awesome )


I ALMOST FORGOT!!!! If you're already on Dreamwidth, please give me your screen-name there so I can add you! (As of today it is my main journal site; not that it matters much since all journal entries are cross-posted.) I'm "astillar" on both websites, herp-a-derp.
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And all the love
On earth
Was suddenly there
On the lips
Of that girl from Ginza


Japan Day 4: Central Tokyo )
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"Hi! This is your airline hostess, Susan Kelly, speaking to you direct from our new Boeing 7-0-7 jet in mid-air!"

Japan: Day 0, part 1 of 3 )
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The bad news is really starting to stack up for my trip.
I’ve been keeping the news of nuclear danger in perspective, even though I’ve had dozens of people tell me that I’m crazy/stupid for ignoring it. Really, I’m getting pretty pissed by so many ill-informed people and complete strangers TELLING me what I can and can’t do. They don’t even try and discuss it with me, they just figure since they’ve watched 5 minutes of news, their blanket opinion carries more weight than the opinion of someone who’s been planning this trip for four months and has his own money and safety invested in it. I had to spend an hour last night trying to calm down my irrational sister; she wants me to at least wear a dosimeter while I’m over there. I think I will, just to shut up all these nay-sayers. I won’t even answer the phone when my mom calls. 9_9
I’m not worried about the scheduled black-outs or the rumors of food shortages; I figure that those only apply to limited areas and could quite possibly be corrected by the time I arrive. I’ve got a rail pass that allows me to take the bullet train anywhere in the country, should I need to avoid certain areas. So I’m fairly flexible.
But today there’s been two big setbacks. I chose this time of year to make my trip because the Tokyo Anime Fair is next week. I see that as a sort of cosplay pilgrimage; witnessing cosplay in it’s homeland, at the site of the world’s largest anime convention. Imagine how awesome that’d be.
But the Anime Fair has been cancelled for this year.
. . . That sucks.
But really, that only affects one day out of my ten-day schedule. It’s regrettable, but 90% of my schedule is still intact and I can easily fill that hole, I imagine.
The big one though, is that the tour company announced today that Jenny & Beauty’s tour had been cancelled, so they won’t be going. That . . . really sucks. I avoided signing up for that tour because I wanted the freedom to do my own thing, but I’d still planned to have overlapping itineraries and hang out with them occasionally. Now I’d be going without any friends; two weeks on my own in a foreign country. That’s lame and a little intimidating. The question I’m asking myself now is, “Can I have enough fun on my own to justify the trip?” At this point, I really can’t say.
I’ve got until Saturday to decide whether I’m going or not; after that I’ll start getting hit with last-minute cancellation fees. So I’m holding out for some/any good news that makes this trip more attractive. I've started to contemplate the idea of postponing, but I don't see any equally good time for travel in my near future. I'll need to change jobs soon and once I do that, big vacations won't be in the cards for awhile. I can't shake the feeling that if I postpone, it'll be 'indefinitely.'
Besides the matter of money and my own stubbornness, I think one reason I’m still committed now, even after all these setbacks, is that I keep thinking of that quote attributed to Mark Twain.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
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So where did I leave off last time? Oh yeah, wallet crap. So I spent most of Monday waiting in line at the Driver's License office and then at the bank canceling my card. I was pleasantly surprised when they gave me a replacement debit card right then and there. Once that one little piece of plastic was in my hands a lot of stress and anxiety left me. I could start repairing my plans and schedule with this tool. I never got around to cleaning up the pre-con mess like I'd planned; instead I went to go see Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me. Cried during the first one, and was mildly disappointed with the second. Steve Carrell was as funny as he always is, but I think the story could've been filled out better.
Tuesday I closed up the house and headed to Lewisville to hang out with my brother. But not before stopping in West for kolaches. (Thanks for giving me a new vice, Cat.) Once there, my bro had the brilliant idea to go down to the gun range and rent some guns and shoot em. Hell yeah! He'd been there a few times already. I haven't gone shooting in years, so this would be fun.
When we got there I was agog when I saw the wall of guns to choose from. Everything from pink (yes, pink) purse pistols to M-16s and AK-47s. Wow. On the rare occasions when my Texan-itis flares up and I consider buying a gun, I think about getting a Glock. So that's what I chose. And I'm not really sure why I did, but I chose the smallest, chunkiest, (cutest?) Glock they had. I don't know why it appealed to me; either because it was so compact and dense . . . or because it was cute. But regardless, it shot 9mm rounds, just like all the other Glocks. It's not a toy gun. If anything, I like to think that gun said about me, "This guy is not trying to compensate for anything. He's secure with his barrel length." Cameron picked a bigger, heavier, traditional Beretta. His recent practice and longer barrel enabled him to get some good grouping with his shots. But my mini-barrel was one helluva handicap. It had NO accuracy, even at 7 yards. So as much as I may have liked the portability (and cuteness) of the small Glock, I won't be taking it to the zombie apocalypse. Next time, longer barrel.
For dinner we went to a really nice Japanese steakhouse. Dinner ended up being in the triple digits, but the food was great and I actually had saké that I liked!


. . . the green dots mark my shots )
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I roomed with Stephanie, Cat, and Kevin. We all got there late Friday night and commenced to work on our cosplays till about 3 am. I had essentially finished Captain K'nuckles in Austin but I still needed to finish up Cat's mahou shoujo staff. I don't remember San Antonio being quite so humid, maybe it had something to do with the constant rain we'd been getting all week, but the whole weekend was hot and sticky. Even in the hotel room, the walls and floor and bedsheets (unfortunately) felt cold and damp. I wasn't too happy with the hotel. For as much as we were paying, I was expecting a little more in the way of amenities. No mini-fridge, and you had to pay $15/day for internet. Not cool. Sometime that night I lost my wallet. I'm still perplexed how/where it went, considering I only went out to my truck once that evening. For some reason I couldn't sleep at all Friday night; maybe it had something to do with the cold, clammy bedsheets.
I spent a good portion of Saturday morning turning the hotel room and my truck inside out, looking for my wallet. My empty stomach kept demanding breakfast but didn't seem to understand I needed money for that. I got pretty displeased about the situation. All I could think about was, how was I going to feed myself all weekend, or get back to Austin, or how was I going to get back to Canada in a few days with no picture ID or credit cards? I can't even cancel my cards because it's Saturday and my bank's closed. Losing my wallet was really going to screw things up for me, at the very least.
With all that stuff on my mind it didn't really seem like there was any way I'd be able to enjoy myself at the con. I was bummed out for about an hour before I ordered myself to get into costume (because that's what I came for) and go to the con and try to have some fun.
K'nuckles rambling )
Saturday evening I spent running into random people I knew, but unfortunately I didn't get to spend as much time hanging out as I would've liked. No sleep from the night before, mild dehydration from the costume, and no food except candy all day, added up to one exhausted boy. My friends did come to my rescue and adopted this cosplayer for just 80 cents a day and fed me. I'm very thankful to them for all their charity. I don't know what's more difficult for me to do; ask for help, or thank people for helping me. Either way, I appreciate everyone's help, even if I didn't articulate it too well. I was really trying to keep up with everybody else, but walking the Riverwalk in search of late-night dinner was almost too much for tired, sore me. Around 1 am I had to throw in the towel and retire. I know, I know. I went to a con, but didn't drink a drop? It was a weird first for me too.
Not much to say about today. We got out of there and headed home. I don't know if I'll return to San Japan. There wasn't anything actually bad or wrong about it. I guess because it's a smaller con, I didn't see as much cosplay as I'd like, nor did that many friends of mine attend. It was an okay con, I just didn't enjoy it all that much (and I know my wallet-loss weighed heavily on that judgement, but still).
So now that I'm home I think I'll raid my piggy bank and go see Toy Story 3 this evening. FINALLY. Tomorrow I'll start the whole talking-to-my-bank/cancelling-my-card/getting-a-new-license business. Then I'll head up to Dallas for a day and a half of hanging out with my brother before once again boarding a jet to Canaadaontuoeaod. Boo.
Regardless of the difficulties of this weekend, it beat the hell out Canada and I was really glad to spend time with my friends, brief as some of it was. That's what I really need right now.

Since I probably won't find any San Japan pictures of him, here's the last progress photo I took of Captain K'nuckles. (He and I were wearing the same expression for most of the weekend.)
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cut for Day 0 )

I spent most of today in training and spending more money on equipment. So far I've been impressed with Calgary, the northernmost mega-city on the North American continent. In a strange way it reminds me of DFW, in that both cities are in the great plains and surrounded my vast rolling grasslands. (For those of you unfamiliar with either city, think, "Dances with Wolves". And if you're unfamiliar with that movie, then WHY ARE WE EVEN FRIENDS?) I didn't manage to take any photos around town (too busy and too much traffic), just one pic I snagged from my car window.
And don't even get me started on the culture clash. Okay, fine, if you insist. Man oh man, I nearly crack up everytime I have to use Canadian cash. In my head I'm giggling, thinking, "Hee hee hee, these people use play-money. It's not real! It's fake! Hee hee!"
And they really do say "eh" all the time. While I was buying my coveralls and boots, the clerk kept saying "eh" at the end of almost every sentence. I really tried to keep a straight face. But I couldn't figure it out. Is "eh" a form of punctuation for them? Is it like the "desu" in japanese? And he would pause everytime he said it, so maybe he meant it as in, "eh?". I didn't know if I was supposed to agree, or "eh" back at him, or what. I dropped a couple of "y'all"s into my replies, hoping he'd figure that I didn't speak his lingo. But he kept firing them at me.
Those are the two biggest conclusions I've reached today. I'm thinking my research on the Canadian subspecies of North American will be very interesting.

I'm not as stressed as I was yesterday. If I can just make it till tomorrow noon without Wells Fargo sending a hit squad after me, I think I'll be okay. Tomorrow I'll be boarding the charter plane and heading north to 'the Fort'. That's when the real adventure begins. (Expect plenty of pictures!)

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I went over to Crystal's house yesterday for some late night cosplay cramming. She's doing Rozalin from Disgaea 2 and we were tackling the wings. I've never made wings so quickly; it would've taken me a week to do what we did in a few hours. I'm just too damn anal to work that fast. But there's no time to wait, Matsuri's on Friday! So with some XPVC and spray adhesive, we made a pair of wings that I'm pretty pleased with. I wasn't 100% sure it would work, I've tried this method for Liz's DoA cosplay, but these wings were on a much bigger scale. I'm just glad it did work because there isn't much time for a do-over.
It sounds like this Disgaea group that's coming together at Matsuri is going to be fun. I'm kinda bummed I won't be able to see it; heck, I would've BEEN in the group if I had known in advance that it was happening. Nippon Ichi all the way! Oh well.
This weekend Liz and I had a . . . disagreement concerning how I balance (or don't balance) my cosplay/friend commitments with my other responsibilities. She made some good points; I can't have my cake and eat it too. I just feel restless and dissatisfied though. Working on commissions keeps me busy, but it doesn't scratch that itch I have, the itch to actually COSPLAY. And helping friends with their cosplay is fun and makes me feel useful and important, but it also makes the itch worse. I know I need to be more responsible and focused about what I can and can't do. I'm just really stubborn about giving up what I want to do. For example, the other day I realized that I'm making an extra $1000 per month in overtime and per diem on this Dallas job. That'll amount to $5000-$6000 over the course of the job, money that is above and beyond what we'd budgeted for the year when we were planning the wedding. As soon as I figured that out, one of my first thoughts was, "Hey, we've got extra money! We can go to AX after all! Woo hoo!"
It took a phone call to Liz to remind me that it wasn't just money that was preventing us from going, there was also the matter of not enough vacation time. Oh right. So yeah, I guess I hadn't really given up on the idea of AX as I'd claimed I had done. My bad.
Regardless of all that con-talk, I started my Wybie cosplay this week. I'm drafting a pretty big pattern for his mask that I think will help put the overall costume in the proper proportions. My interest in this cosplay had kinda been waning since I had announced that I was going to do it, but as soon as I found a good reference picture of his mask (yesterday), the coolness of it's design hit me like a truck and I was all on-board once again. It's gonna be a fun costume.
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Next year I'll be scaling way back on how much money I spend on cosplay. But I don't want to give it up entirely because I need SOMETHING to do with my spare time. It just occurred to me how I can do cosplay without spending (my) money.
Go back to doing commissions!
It seems obvious, but it didn't click in my head until just now. By commissioning, I can remain active and keep learning, without spending money I should be saving. I do like commissioning because the jobs are usually short enough that I don't get bored before I finish.
So I guess this means I'm open to commission requests. Check my cosplay.com gallery to see what kind of work I do. My specialty is armor and props; fabric and wigs . . . sorry, I can't help you with that. Feel free to comment about commissions you're considering and I'll get back to you if it catches my interest.
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No, not really. But kinda.
Over the past couple weeks, I've slowly come to the realization that over this next year, money's gonna be tight. Most of Liz's and my spare money will be going towards the wedding. For a few scary moments, it looked like that meant no cosplay or conventions next year. That dumbfounded me. With no cons or cosplay, what was I going to do with myself all year? With no money, nothing to work on, and nowhere to go, I'd go nuts with boredom. The man-part of my brain is somewhat optimistic. He's saying, "Hey Cody! If you guys are both poor, that means you won't be able to go out or do anything that costs money. The only fun things you guys will be able to do is have lots of sex! Just like poor people do! It's free! Woo!" So while he's deluding himself, the rest of my brain is thinking, "Mmmm, nope. That ain't gonna happen. You need to figure something else out."
So I've become committed to having my cake and eating it too. To pay my share of the wedding expenses, but still find a way to hold onto con and cosplay. I've been x-raying my budget and I think I can do both. I'll have to be super disciplined and stay on a budget, which I haven't done since college, when I had to live off of $20 a week for food.
I'm kinda glad in a way, because this sort of gives me a mission, something to shoot for. Because, yeah, if I didn't have cosplay to eat up my spare time, I'd have to join a volunteer or public service organization to keep myself busy. And seriously, a bad-ass costume vs. bettering my community, which am I gonna pick?
Duh.
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I don't wanna talk about money concerns, even though that's the 800-lb pink gorilla that's been lumbering in my head today.
This past weekend Liz and I reserved our wedding date at the Plantation House. I think we did good; I was half expecting that we'd get hitched in a VFW hall or something, so this is a slam dunk by comparison. We also put in our application for an apartment uptown and got a positive response back. There's still a whole bunch of little things to handle in the next couple months, but it's reassuring to have these two big things taken care of.
In unrelated news, I'm pleasantly surprised with this Pandora application, which I heard of through [livejournal.com profile] reebear. I put in a couple of bands that I'm a diehard fan (read, "borderline fanatic") of and it starts generating a playlist in the same vein/genre. It's like a conveyor-belt sushi place, but instead of sushi it's music. I wanna sample everything that comes down the line and end up pigging out. I haven't heard anything OMGLURVE! yet, but alot of "Hmmm, this has potential," stuff. The possibility of finding new music has got all my tingly bits tingling.

Kokt blokt

Oct. 29th, 2008 09:29 pm
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If you hadn't guessed, I started working on Catbus again this weekend. Mostly just reassembling it and cleaning the dust and grass that had accumulated on it over the months. Apparently a neighborhood cat liked using the Catbus as a base of operations, because I found quite a few feathers and some chewed lizard tails underneath the 'bus. During the week I put it back together and started fixing up the legs.
Tonight is the night I stay at my apartment so I was planning on doing some serious cosplay work (see: "cosplay love-making"). As soon as I got off work I was going to break my cosplay fasting and go buy some pvc tubing to shape the Catbus roof and get another spotlight for his headlights/eyes. But I stopped at the apartment on the way to Home Depot, checked my mail, and saw my credit card bill.

. . .

Hmm. Yeah. I think I'll just stay in tonight and read a book. From the library. By candlelight. And go to bed once the sun sets.

Maybe I can start on cosplay next year.

Oops.

Oct. 17th, 2007 09:36 am
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So this morning I got a call from our office's master administrative assistant regarding the phone bill for my work cellphone. I'd been using it to call Star every night, often for hours at a time. In her own words, the bill was "huge". Then a few hours later, I get a call from Boss #1. He . . . was not happy. In what was NOT a compliment, he said I'd set an "all-time company record" (for phone mis-use).
So . . . all this money I'm making from working overtime will now be going to pay the phone bill, pretty much. Well, I guess the only way to learn where the line is was to cross it. Now I know. When I get back to Austin on Friday I've got to go into the office to work out . . . a settlement. *sigh* I kinda knew this was coming. My only worry now is what their reaction will be when they receive October's phone bill. O_O;

Sounds like it'll be AIM to the rescue now!
Or maybe just penpals would be safer!
;)
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That's exactly how I feel right now, like I'm running home from the last day of school with my empty backpack bouncing on my shoulders, just shouting and laughing all the way. Ah yes. The first real time-off I've had in what feels like forever. My four-day weekend starts NOW; ah, it's gonna be beautiful. I've got nothing special planned, but the mere fact that I won't have to wake up at 4:30 am to go work in the rain and mud . . . *gets choked-up* Ha ha.
I think I'll do a buttload of shopping this weekend. Another Biggie-sized paycheck landed in my account this week so it would be wrong if I _didn't_ go shopping. First on my list is that bed. Recently my back (and other muscles) started to feel like it's stitched together with barbed wire. Either that futon is ka-put or the long hours have finally caught up to my body. In any case, it's time to get a bed. It seems kinda silly to be buying more furniture when I'm trying to move out, but *shrug*. And then I'll get some dvds and manga and clothes and cosplay crap and stuff and anything else that catches my eye. Yeah! It's gonna be a friggin' cosplay supernova at my apartment this weekend!

Like a thousand suns!
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I must be. Monday, I get back my wallet with 71 dollars, cash money. Wednesday I'm at work in my truck, I drop a pencil between the seats. I reach down and pull out $6. This morning, I drag a pair of jeans out of the laundry pile and in the pocket I find $12. And last night I had a dream that I won $1000 in the lottery. Money can't get enough of me! I'm gonna go buy a lottery ticket right now before the money fairy dumps me. She's a fickle one.

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