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, Bamboo 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.
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I've finally gotten past the proximate issues and can see the ultimate issue. I don't believe that Jane was really that into me to begin with. Everything makes sense once I consider that possibility. As I had been trying to conclude my thoughts on our relationship, I was continually stumped by a few facts. She'd said I was only the second man she'd ever thought of living with, she'd strongly wanted me to tell her that I loved her, she wanted to look at houses and think about baby names together. All of these indicators of strong feelings, how could they completely vanish within the space of a few weeks? That's what confounded me. At first I assumed that I'd done something terrible that destroyed them but after continuous review, I couldn't see what that could have been. Only recently did I consider that maybe those strong feelings weren't actually there to begin with.
It makes sense though. She wasn't initially interested in dating me, wanting to just be friends at first. And then once I'd somehow changed her mind on the matter, she was temporarily excited and enthusiastic. But her feelings were still somewhat shaky or uncertain. I think that's why she insisted on receiving so many romantic gestures and constant re-assurances from me. As long as I was feeding her this emotional support it would be enough to reinforce her lukewarm feelings for me. And that might've worked for a while. But a mere two weeks into the relationship she was already expressing fears that we'd break up. I was confident about us but she already had some unspoken reasons to believe this. The seeds of our end were already sown in her.
Despite my efforts to change and be the type of man Jane wanted, I could not provide enough romantic support to make up for Jane's doubts or insecurity. As things went on, I tried harder but Jane became less and less satisfied. Her requests increased in quantity and magnitude as she needed more and more to make up for her growing dissatisfaction. The relationship became unbalanced as it began to focus more on her needs and desires while mine went ignored. I was being asked to do more and was receiving less in return and I grew frustrated. Once my frustration began to influence my behavior towards Jane, it began to reinforce her unhappiness and we entered a cycle of discouraging each other. That marked the end, though it took a few months to finalize it.
Compared to the list of requests Jane had of me, I only truly had one. My request that she change her sleeping schedule got to the heart of the imbalance between us. I was struggling to change who I was to suit her and the one simple request I had of her, she would not bother to attempt. I don't know whether she was incapable of it due to her OCD tendencies, or if she chose not to out of selfishness. It doesn't matter though. The consistent theme throughout our relationship was that I, with my own desires and needs and hopes, was always second-place to her own comfort and convictions. The list of instances that illuminate that fact cannot be denied. We weren't partners who equally took and gave to each other. I naively thought that we could grow into such a couple; I thought we could build something permanent but Jane's emotions weren't sufficient to give us a strong enough foundation for that.
I think I understand why Jane wants nothing to do with me now. Even though she proudly claimed that she's friends with most of her exes, she essentially no longer acknowledges my existence now. That hurt me, but I think I understand why I warrant this exclusion. The demands that I placed on Jane revolved around making her healthier, physically and emotionally. To take control of her sleeping habit would have opened up so many more activities and opportunities to her, it would have allowed us to have a more mutually satisfying relationship, it would have reduced the threat of losing a job due to oversleeping or napping or tardiness or working from home, it would have increased her metabolism and reduced the incidence of migraines and other miseries related to her sedentary lifestyle, it would have . . . allowed her to take control of her life, rather than just surviving at this ebb. In asking her to grow, I was compelling her to face the deficiencies in her life. If I'd provided more emotional support, she might've been able to tackle them, but without seeing any initiative from her, I wasn't about to stretch myself further to undertake that task.
After two months of being ignored my her, I've de-friended her on Facebook. It was beginning to feel like a repeat of the last half of our relationship; one-sided affection for someone who wants none of it. I still care for her and wish I could help her, but I have to conclude that I'll get virtually nothing in return aside from some diplomatic words of thanks. I hope that she finds peace within herself and happiness with whoever she eventually finds to be with but I can't continue to let myself care for her. I can't continue to invest so much thought and emotion in her. I have to get past her. Although I can't control my dreams about her, I can close my thoughts about her.

I had the good luck of starting a long-term substitute teaching job last week. The principal was in a pinch, as a pregnant teacher was going on bed-rest earlier than expected. That was in my favor as the principal only had one day of warning in which to conduct candidate screenings. I've been teaching chemistry these past couple of weeks. It's not my ideal position, but I'm beyond grateful to have this opportunity. It was remarkable how quickly my mood improved after a couple days. Knowing that I'd now have a regular full-time paycheck coming my way banished the ever-present worry of my mounting debt and even two weeks later, I can still feel the palpable relief.
I entered the school year five weeks in, so once again I'm at a disadvantage of the students and other teachers having found their groove while I'm scrambling to learn names and the culture of the school. Since I'm only a substitute I don't have quite the authority and privileges that would help me fully commit to and integrate myself within the school/department; it's like living in a hotel room. I know it's not permanent so I don't commit myself 100% to it; Honestly I'm not capable of it even if I wanted to. I know I need to try, to impress my colleagues and superiors so that I can parlay this opportunity into a future career possibility. It's just a bit of limbo I guess.

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.

Febs

Feb. 20th, 2014 10:47 pm
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School is going well. Most of the courses are push-overs. The only one that gives me any difficulty is the 100% online one. It's just so . . . meta and meaningless; as if it's a federally-mandated course that sounds good on paper but is so abstract or intangible that no professor wants to teach it, nor does anyone really have an idea of what it should amount to. At least, that's the impression that I get. Or maybe some tenured professor invented this class as their sole piece of territory to maintain their own relevance. Or something.
Anyways, yeah, that's class. I've also joined the anime and k-pop clubs. The anime club is large, but I don't agree with the format. They do a lot of things (not all related to anime), so I applaud them for being ambitious, but I feel that some members may be discouraged or disinterested due to that (I know I am). I joined the K-Pop club to expand what little exposure I've had to it. It's a tiny club that's still trying to establish it's place in the acknowledged student clubs. I've got homework to listen to some recommended artists. We'll see how that goes.
I've been looking for work ever since my school and student teaching schedule stabilized earlier this month. I tried at places that I was both interested in and thought I might have something to offer, such as Home Depot, Lowe's, Jo-Ann's, and CostCo. I didn't hear back from any of those dozens of applications. I applied at Chipotle and got hammered with responses. I suppose Food Service is always hungry for fresh meat. So I interviewed there yesterday and was offered a position immediately. Yay. I mean, I'd prefer not to work in a restaurant, but I applied with this company because it's the sole food chain that I respect enough to be part of. So I think it'll be fine. Though, I was reading through the employee's handbook tonight and was slightly displeased to find that I can't participate in a 401K until I've been there for a year. Boo. I suppose I could re-invest in my old 401K on my own, but that takes a bit more discipline and initiative. Although that's a small hurdle, it might still be large enough to trip me up.
This job really came in the nick of time too. A couple weeks ago would've been ideal though. My savings are all tapped out and I have to decide whether I want to dip into my retirement again to bridge this shortfall till my first paycheck. I probably will, just to ease the tightness and avoid defaulting on any obligation. I'm just wary of becoming too familiar with using this 'last resort' option.
Student teaching is a bit frustrating. I'm only there one afternoon a week, which isn't enough to build any rapport with the students or the teacher I'm assisting. Three weeks in and not even the teacher knows my name yet. Plus, I'm there as more of an observer than a teacher or disciplinarian; I can't really take the initiative for either without usurping the teacher's own authority. And with these middle school kids, she's already fending off enough challenges to her control of the classroom. I just wish I could participate more. Oh well. Just six more visits and that'll be that.
I found out that this certification will take longer than I anticipated. Although the coursework will only take me two semesters to complete, I can't perform my actual student teaching (as opposed to this 'early field experience' stuff) until I've completed my coursework. So it'll be two semesters of coursework followed by a semester of student teaching and THEN I'll have my certification. So three semesters all told. It's no big deal I suppose. I'm comfortable living with Cameron and I can work fast food for a year and a half. Plus, this development may actually be in my favor. I'll finish everything up and begin my job searching at the end of the school year. Before, I would've been trying to get a job halfway through the school year, which isn't the most opportune time to do so.
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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.

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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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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Nothing of real interest occurred during my trip. I just wrote this post during my travels out of sheer boredom.

Read on . . .  )
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My boss contacted me at just the best/worst moment, depending on how you look at it. Friday evening, a quarter to six, I was waiting at Courtney’s place to break up with her. I was an emotional mess, full of dread, regret, and anger, to name a few.
My phone rang. It was my boss asking how soon I could get a flight to Canada. Apparently those in charge of the project hadn’t scheduled anyone to cover for the people leaving for Thanksgiving holidays. He continued with the various details but I barely heard him. My thoughts were fixed on the break-up right in front of me. I couldn’t focus on work right then. I just mm-hmmed and uh-huhed my way through the conversation to get it over with as soon as possible. He asked if I would be open to work a 2-week shift through the holiday weekend.
A bitter voice in my head said, “Go ahead and go, Cody. There won’t be anyone waiting for you when you get back. No one will be missing you.”
Prior to that . . . )
With this imperative in mind, I could not decline this assignment, even though I distrust and detest these Canadian assignments so. I was told this would be for a ten-day hitch and I hope they appreciate this favor I’m doing them enough to honor that schedule. Then again, the last time they asked me to come up for two weeks it turned into seven. So I have my doubts.
Even if this turns out to be a bait-and-switch, I won’t have any real grounds to refuse the assignment. If I’m making tough decisions to pursue my next career; giving up my home and killing a casual but otherwise good long-distance relationship, then I have to fully commit to this cause.
My mind recognizes this and I believe I can do it for the next 8 months if need be, even though I may not like it. I just wish that this time didn’t seem so reminiscent of the first time I came up to Canada. Then, as now, I came to Canada shortly after breaking up with my girlfriend. It was a very tough time for me, those months of being isolated from friends and family, alone, with too much time to dwell on the past.
I can only try to fend off a repeat of that experience.
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No new news to report. Just another week of doing virtually nothing.
I fly back to Austin a week from today. Yay. A whole week off. I don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving. I haven’t contacted my family because I don’t want a repeat of last year’s Thanksgiving. I’m a bachelor who is rarely ever home. I don’t want to stay cooped up in a house with my nagging mom and sister watching whatever generic holiday movies are on because one is too broke to go out and do anything and the other is on-call and can’t commit to any plans that can’t be abandoned at a moment’s notice. Three or four days of that was mind-numbingly boring. It wouldn’t be so bad having my brother over, but in the women’s presence we can’t have too much fun.
I suppose I should put out some feelers for what my amigos are doing for Turkey Day. Hopefully someone’s hosting an Orphan’s Dinner. I’d much rather drink Wild Turkey while watching some turkey movies while gorging myself on turkey meatstuffs. And no families allowed. That’s the best part.

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North Dakota, Week 2 )

Anyways,

The deadline for submitting an application to graduate school for the spring semester is well past. Summer or (more likely) fall semester is when I’ll be starting. That’s farther away than I had expected but with my snail’s pace, it’ll take me that long to lay all my plans into place. I’m looking at schools now. So much hinges on where I decide to attend. I’ll be taking my GRE soon. Not all places require it, but from the sample questions I took, it’s an easy enough test so I might as well have it in my pocket in case I need it. Some places require relevant letters of recommendation which I won’t be able to provide, so that’s a deal-breaker. I guess I’ve got a few months to go through my decision-making process all over again, top to bottom. With my career counseling complete, I’ve got the tools to assess my options. The options that the counselor outlined for me each come with their own complications, dampening what mild enthusiasm I have for them. As cautious and unconfident as I am, I’ll need to build up a higher level of certainty before I move forward.
I look forward to going back to school and I was pleased to learn that the program would only take 1-2 years, as opposed to a 4+ year commitment for a Master’s or PhD, which I was dreading. Even though I’m older and slower I think I could plow through 20-30 hours of coursework easily.
I guess the biggest contributor to my unenthusiasm is my reluctance to part with my current lifestyle. It’s not like I make much money or have that much free time now, but I’ve come to enjoy what I can do, where I can go, the friends I have, the city I live in, and having the means to pursue my interests. I’m loathe to give all that up. I know I can’t stay in this current job, that I have to get out sooner than later. I have to start weaning myself off the tit. If they fired me, that’d light a fire under my ass, for sure.
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Just before I left for my Canadian assignment I stopped at Borders to take advantage of their going-out-of-business sale. Although I was saddened that there would now be even fewer bookstores in the world, I couldn't resist the lure of those LOW LOW PRICES! I bought a buttload of books and I've been nibbling at them the whole time I've been away from home.

Moby Duck )

Deep Survival )

Game of Thrones )
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I'd thought to write a post about the delightful weekend my friends and I had at the Texas Renaissance Festivale this weekend, but a sudden swirl of clouds has eclipsed that.
I returned from Canada two weeks ago. Between all the overtime I'd worked and the vacation time I'd accrued, I took that time off for myself. I returned to the office on Monday to find some ill-boding portents. Last year when I'd returned from Canada, I discovered that many employees had been let go, a trimming of the fat in these lean economic times. And again, when I returned from Canada, I found that more people were gone. Last year I likened the office to a ghost town; now it's as if entire parts of the office are abandoned. There's no fat left to cut; now (muscle/essential people) are being excised.
Within the space of a day following my return, Boss #1 has already laid out my meager option, singular. He says that he did not expect me to return from Canada so soon (although I think I was explicitly clear that I was only agreeing to a finite stay of two months, and here we are at two months and a week). The job I'd assumed would be in full swing by now and to which I'd be assigned, has stalled out instead. I used up my accrued vacation time last week so Boss #1 has put me on unpaid leave for the week. There is simply no work, no assignment that I can be put on. The only assignment that he could find for me, the only one that is still vacant due to the fact that no one with a choice would accept it, is Australia.
I wasn't surprised at this. I'd known that as soon as I returned to the office, I'd be shipped off somewhere else; that's why I avoided it as long as I could. This was expected. I'm only sorry that my girlfriend has to share in the crap I've been dealt.
He asked me if I could leave for Australia by Friday. Glutton for punishment I may be, but even that short of notice is too much of a slap for me to tolerate. Most likely I'll have to depart Monday. In the next few days I'll learn more of this assignment. Plans could still change, though I doubt it.

Also, today was my final session with the career counselor. The outcome was not the silver bullet/golden egg I'd been hoping for. I'd expected this process would result in me finding the one single career I was perfect for, a goal that I could fully commit myself towards. But now that it's all done, I'm left with an ambiguous choice. The career(s) that I'm most suited for . . . also happen to be the ones that require the most advanced degrees and ALSO have the fewest job openings. So, go back to school for a PhD in a profession that has only 60 job openings statewide? 700 nationally, if I'm willing to emigrate from Texas? Or do I settle for a less-than-optimal-for-me career that is more marketable, but comes with the risk that I'll divorce it like I have my current occupation? Regardless of which I pick, the prospect of 4-6 years of college and a lower income/lifestyle for that duration isn't very enticing.

The big jump is coming next. Deciding where to live, where to go to school, how long I'm willing to commit, how am I going to finance it, what risk am I willing to accept, when to quit my job, will I leave the state to have a better chance, etc. It's going to be a big lifestyle change and loss of the stability and comfort of my current home, regardless of what I decide. I'd just hoped that the answer would've been clearer, to make my choice easier. But no, it's not in black and white.

So in a nutshell, today was two doses of bitter pills.

Coming up

Sep. 26th, 2011 08:11 pm
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I've just five days left here in Canada. Looking back, my time up here wasn't as bad as I'd feared but I'm still chomping at the bit to get out of here.
When I get back I'll use my accumulated vacation time to stretch my time-off to last until the Texas Renaissance Festival in two weeks. I hadn't planned on spending my vacation time this way but if I report back into the office I'm certain that I'll get plugged into another out-of-town that will conflict with TRF. So I'll just fly under the radar until I'm ready to go back to work.
The career counseling is going well. We're just about done with the self-analysis phase. Next time I go we'll be able to start narrowing the already short list of prime career choices for me. Whatever I choose I'll most likely have to go back to school for a bit since I'm leaving the engineering field entirely. That wouldn't be happening till the spring semester at the ABSOLUTE earliest so I'll finish up the year with my company. It's kinda inconvenient that my lease renews in October, which is too soon for me to know where I'm going or what my money situation will be. I'll have to see if my landlord would offer an abbreviated lease. Of all the places I've lived in Austin, this is the first place I'd like to stay put in. Only now that I'm changing my career plan I don't want to be anchored to a specific place for an entire year. Ha ha. Great timing.
Serious stuff aside, I'm undecided on how I want to fill my ten-day break between my return and TRF. The responsible hobbyist in me says I should focus on the half-finished cosplays I've neglected all year, to finally get them DONE so I can be proud and satisfied and still retain my status as an 'active' cosplayer, not just in past tense.
But my strongest urge currently is to ignore cosplay and work on TRF projects. I want to make a new costume since I've worn Skittles for the past two years already. When I drink at the Renn Fest, I always seem to want to do pratfalls and tumbles and other physical nonsense. Don't ask me why. I just get an urge to do a barrel roll and then . . . Yeah. In addition to the costume, I really want to upgrade the Man Cave. It's been fun and popular the last four times I've done it but I always see how it can be improved. It looks so much better in my imagination. (Think of King Xerxes' tent of a thousand delights from '300'.) I don't just want a Man Cave made of tarps like some Hobo Hut, I want a MAN VOLCANO. I want a legit tent worthy of our drunken shenanigans. Other 'party' tents cost around a grand, from what I've found on the internet. I know I could make one myself for much less. I like this idea alot since it would benefit the most people, but it might put a strain on ole Iron Horse. Hmm.
So I've got three competing options, each of which I could easily spend my block of free time on. Dunno what I'm gonna do yet.
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The first week here was the shittiest. Two weeks in now and I’m no longer so grumpy and unhappy. It’s not that I’ve grown to like it here or anything, I’ve just accepted it and learned to deal with it.
We’re working 14-hour days here which doesn’t allow much time for dwelling on my discontent. In the evenings I have 1, maybe 2, hours of free time between work and bedtime. I fill that time with reading, studying Japanese, or working on the homework my career counselor gave me. The busier I stay, the faster the days go by.
There’s nothing of interest here to write about. At least, nothing that I didn’t already write about last year. The accommodations and food still suck; I’ll probably lose some weight while I’m up here. Some camp residents have taken to wearing “Wapasu Correctional Facility” shirts (Wapasu being the name of our camp) to express their opinions about the camp. That’s probably the only souvenir I want from this place.
Dragon*Con is barely a week away. I’d be more excited about it if I’d been allowed to finish my costumes for it. I suppose instead of cosplay I’ll be spending the bulk of my time drinking and photographing. We leave for D*C almost as soon as my plane lands in Texas. I expect to be really stressed as I try to pack enough clothes, booze, costumes, and other gear for a week-long trip within the space of an hour or two. It sucks that I have no time to spare to prepare better.
When I do land in Austin, the only stop I’m making is at the career counselor’s, for our next session which has been delayed for three weeks now. I’d been asked to read a book on personality types and their relation to satisfying and successful careers. I typed as an INTJ personality type and it really describes me perfectly. It’s eerily precise. I’m surprised I could be measured so accurately from just one test. As I read the book and thought of examples from my work-, personal-, family-, and cosplay-life, my INTJ-ness became very apparent. It’s become explicitly clear how ill-fitting my current job is for a person like me. Even though I’m interested in and respect engineering, I don’t think I want to remain an engineer. Not with this company and not in the private sector. The public sector may be a different creature, but I don’t hold out much hope for that possibility.
Most likely I’ll leave engineering entirely and need to go through some re-education pertinent to whatever new career I choose. That might be more university, or training, or an internship, etc. For quite awhile I was afraid of the idea of forfeiting my engineering career because I’d have to start over academically and professionally. But now it seems like this is what I have to do to . . . have a life that challenges me, satisfies me, and makes me happy. Perhaps I wasted 7 years doing something I wasn’t meant for; I’m not afraid to admit that. I won’t let regret or denial keep me from moving ahead. I’m looking forward to this.

August 2017

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