Saturday, March 10, 2012

Charger Found! WIP Resumed

Ryan upended a box of neatly packed wires on the couch this evening, and among the many cords and wires and chargers, was my laptop charger.  So here I am, for the first time in two weeks, writing on my laptop.  After checking my mail, facebook and klout (newest favorite site) I checked my WIP.  You know, the one I was going to try to skip ahead in on google docs?

I never did do that.  Which turns out to be a good thing, because I got farther on it than I thought.  I started chapter 5.  Yay!  Chapter 5!

So I am headed onward and forward now, plunging into the story.

I think I finally have it set in my head.  I know how the whole thing will end.   It is going to be dramatically different than any prior draft, but hey--I think it's going to be the best story I've put together yet. 

Here's to perseverance.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mass Effect 3: From an Observer

Okay-- I will try not to give away spoilers, but I want to discuss themes in this game because...well...the guy's playing it.  Now that the TV/Computer and bed are all in the same room there is no escaping the sounds!  lol.  But.  At least (from a story and character perspective) I think he has good taste.  In the process of half-watching this game, after watching him off and on with the others I feel comfortable talking about some of the themes in the game.

First, I have to say-- Read This.  It will tell you about Mass Effect's place in the larger context of SF and it makes many good points. 

Now, I haven't been shy to mention my degree in Anthropology, and I have to say that my education dramatically influences how I view the worlds and species in this game.  I mean, it's like a play ground for anthropological concepts.  I have never seen a book, movie, game, whatever demonstrate the dangers of ethnocentrism as well as this  game does--in the body of aliens that have prejudiced ideas of other aliens, and also human-centric humans like Ashley in the 1st Mass Effect.

Moreover the idea of the human being the outsider and the youngest species in the interstellar community, immediately puts the human in the place of the marginalized population.  Your main character also becomes the outsider trying to bridge disparate individuals and species.  Which means that you are put in the position of being forced to try to understand the perspectives of different species from their socio-historical context. 

I think this game does a good job of depicting how no one species is evil.  You can almost even understand the Reapers perspective, though they, being machine and the Big Bad are evil because they aren't natural (am reminded of an article in Realms of Fantasy, forgetting which issue, that  discussed monsters in mythology versus the modern Urban Fantasy trend), and they have no remorse, regret or other emotion.  Every species has their own story.  It's convoluted, and everyone's made mistakes, and everyone is someone's villian (practically).

Sorry, spoiler alert--

But I think my favorite nod to anthropology is Liara herself.  The archaeologist who tries to acknowledge her own bias with regard to other cultures.  I could hear something she says in the background and I would snicker--because some times it sounds like something I would hear in my college courses.

So in a perfect twist, the Protheans, whom she dedicated her life to studying, end up being quite ethnocentric. Which we learn from a Prothean brought out of cryo.  That was superb, and served to illustrate the dangers of romanticizing other societies, particularly lost ones whom we can only piece together through artifacts.

So to the writers of this game--thank you, you've done an amazing job, and i love this story!  (Even if I watch it like a movie :P)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Beyond the BS & Mood Rehabilitation via Chocolote

Stress does not help me write.  I know I've written posts about this before.  And I know the whole job-thing kept me from writing and blogging. But there's another source of stress: people.

Sometimes, people are especially hard to deal with.  And the closer they are the harder  when stress and friction hit.  Lately, I've been butting heads with my mom, but moving and stressing and whatever, I've tried to put the whole thing with her on the back burner and prioritize my life so I could handle what was before me and keep plunging on.

But it caught up to me yesterday and now I'm a mess.  I can only tell myself that when the pain abates, this is one more complicated human interaction that will inform more realistic character development.  But that level of detachment is hard to maintain. 

My ability to handle BS is evaporating, and I'm to the point where I need to start limiting my exposure to it.  Again.

I forewent blogging about all of this stuff, because I feel that the internet community at large is kinda anti-negativity.  I feel like there's an unspoken agreement to be silent if you have nothing upbeat to talk about.  But I also remember working at Starbucks and my shift lead in the morning telling me "People appreciate honesty.  If you're grumpy, tell 'em," and I'm tired of acting like I'm the only one stressed out by these last few years.  To me, that's what silence says:  "No one will understand, so I should just bury it."  But I'm not alone.  Others do understand.  If I write out my thoughts, well, I'm writing.  If I don't, I'm silent.  And I'm not writing.

So here I am, laying it out there.

I hope that as my life settles, I'll have more upbeat topics.  But right now--this is what is going on.  I'm getting my life together, by sheer force of will.

Got to catch my breath.  Write.  Read. Live. 

And a trip with a good friend to a new Choclotier, Ginger Elizabeth, did wonders when I was seriously down last night.  These little chocolates are an intense explosion of decadent yummy-ness.  Ginger Elizabeth Hahn (store owner) apparently made the top 10 for North American choclotiers by Dessert Professional Magazine.

For anyone who ever makes a stop by Sacramento, this little chocloterie is a must. :)  i can't wait till I get a chance to go back, at least for the hot cocoa-- which is amazing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Yes, I Have a Degree. No, I'm Not Gonna Go to Your School.

In the constant pursuit of  a day job, I utilize a bazillion online job-finding search engines.  They come in such infinite variety--from creating social-centric profiles, to just having a list of available openings.  However, there is one thing they all share in common, the ever present school-outreach pages. 

I skip them.  They still call. 

I have a BA, so that means that technically I shouldn't qualify for Financial Aid, even at a  Junior College.  Let's set aside the fact that I have no income, and that my income of the past 3 years (all those odd jobs) has remained under 20k (for all 3 years)...I'd  be lucky if my combined income of the past 3 years made 15k. 

A little too personal?  Sorry.  Accumulated frustration. 

Even if I wanted to go back to school, I'd have to get a private loan.  I don't want to be in debt for the rest of my life.  I don't want to take out another loan. 

If I did get a loan, I'd feel like I'd be gambling with my future.  I'd be expecting this magical new degree to get me a job.   Sacramento, where I live, is especially hard-hit by this recession.  We're a Sate Capitol of a State where entire cities are on the verge of bankruptcy. So why should I anticipate that the degree would pierce through this job-shortage curtain?

California, like the Federal Government, has functioned on deficits for years.  The culmination of these years means that the state isn't hiring in the frequency required to maintain the capitol's economy. 

The obvious answer: Move.

The San Fransisco Bay Area has the healthiest economic region in California.  I apply to work there as much as possible.  But just like Sacramento employers, there are no calls for interviews.  Or few enough to count (I tend to average 3 interviews a year, but I haven't gotten a call for one since April 2011).

And I have it all worked out:  I apply for work in the SF Bay Area, get a call, take Amtrack and crash with a friend living in the Bay.  Same goes for the Silicon Valley.  I have the friends I'd call in favoroites on my cell, in the hopes someone calls.

This is just for an interview!  Not even a job.

Then there's the whole moving thing.  We just moved.  The account is diminished enough that we will need relocation assistance in this eventuality.

Oh, but I would do it--just to be able to have ends meet, to feel like something other than a failure.

Every time these schools call, they hammer home my humiliation.  They bring my insecurities to the forefront, by reminding me that I really and truly can't go back to school.  I need work to afford school, so I can't look to go back to school to get work.

A very Catch 22 situation.     

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Resolving Disorder & Restoring Momentum

Unpacking boxes that feel more endless than I know, logically, that they are. The missing component that I am lamenting the most is my laptop charger. Thank goodness between me and the guy there's something like 6 computers-- 2 desktops (one of which is mostly being used for parts) 2 laptops, a netbook and a tablet.

But in one of my less-than-bright moments, I downloaded the WIP from Google Docs (makes sense to do it there when the laptops and netbook end up falling into a "general use" category) onto my laptop. Then I promptly forgot that I had done so.

I opened the doc from the other laptop, which, thankfully and luckily, had actually remained with its charger, only to realize i had two missing pages.

I usually reread after a break to get back in the swing of the story. But I think that in this instance, I'm going to have to skip to the next chapter.

When thinking about my stories, I tend to skip around in time. But when I attempted to write that way, it never seemed to work out for me. Instead, plunging head on in a thoroughly linear fashion has worked best.

Which has always seemed a bit contrary. I think one way, and I work another--but I suppose that's how it is.

I know that I shouldn't let a little thing like a laptop charger that was shoved in just the wrong box hold me back. I mean, that's the entire reason for the cloud right? Any device, anytime, anywhere?

So stealing myself to skip to the next character, skip to the next scene, and go on. I can add the missing scene when I find the charger :(

Missing more momentum is the dangerous bit. Can't lose momentum.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Go. Stop. Return. A stream-of-conciousness post

It has happened. My guy and I are renting a place with his mother because if we did not make this move we would not be able to make ends meet. After so many ups and downs and two instances of almost-had-a-job-until-small-business-owner-changed-their-mind, in one year, a tutoring gig that fell through after 6 months because the parents thought their son could somehow understand all 5th-grade-American-Coursework after coming over from Taiwan, in an instant, and it didn't happen. So they took him home. And I am left with no income and am approaching 3 years without true employment.

I have held odd jobs. I tutored at the junior college for a semester. I temped for an e-store, doing data entry for the accounting department. I did event planning and marketing for a small cafe for two months before that opportunity dried up. I did something similar for a pet-food store, though that lasted for less than a month. In both small business opportunities, I counted on doubling the roles in sales, as a barista for the cafe or a sales rep for the pet store--but I think my degree put me at a disadvantage for both those things. The owner of the pet store told me point blank "You need a college degree job."

And I tutored the kid for 6 months.

Wondering, right now, what is a college degree job?

If you're an aspiring something-or-other-- take my lesson to heart. I paid to much attention to my mother's high-minded whimsy. I did what I loved and I am still waiting for the money to follow. There is no back up plan. My work history is wide ranging as I took work to pay the bills.

But the back-up plan should not be something that you see as doing instead of your art, but in support of your art.

I didn't. I saw my mom, the poet, mired in corporate work, relegating her art to the sidelines. It never occurred to me that it wasn't the job that got in her way of realizing her ability. She chose where she put her energies.

I always viewed, because of her, the full-time-job as a threat to art. But plenty of authors have done it.

Perhaps I excused my perception with the belief that I was a a "low-energy" individual, because I need a lot of sleep, and after 3pm I'm puttering rather than working in a dedicated fashion.

Now, looking at my clothes, furniture, excessive everything and trying to assign a monetary value to it, to get it out of the way and have some sort of income to pay off credit cards, I don't see jobs the same way.

I don't see my degree the same way. I don't see what I need to live the same way as I used to.

Everything is paring down to the essentials. I'm hoping to be on my feet again as soon as possible. I've returned to beading, jewelry making and am hoping to open an etsy store in a month, after my products are sufficiently stockpiled. The applications for jobs, from customer service to administrative assistant keep going out. Like clockwork, I'm imitating the motions but lacking any more expectations for results.

At least with this move, I can cut out some time to read and write. I need to read and write, keep myself sane in this spirit-degrading chaos.

Money is my motivation now, about as strong a calling as the art. I don't like using food stamp tickets to pay for my farmer's market shopping. I don't like my poverty being worn so openly. So right now, I will do what I can to get out of this hole.

I just find it funny that writing has been where I've put my time in for the past decade, but I haven't published anything but a handful of articles.

I know I'm to blame for this. But now I can't be picky. I have to produce--jewelry, stories, content, whatever--because I need to sell it, and this is what I can do. It might be hard work for pittance, perhaps, but so too was being a Starbucks Barista. I can live off of pittance. I just can't live off of debt. But this is where I, at least, know what I can do.

So it's a place to start.

This move is putting other stresses on hold and permitting us a little more time to summon the funds to get rid of credit. So I'm taking what control I can in the situation.

It's a humbling the backdrop of growing ever older. The Girls, my best friends from High School have revolving birthdays that kind of help me track the year. This weekend, we're celebrating Ha's 29th. Our 20's are all almost gone, and I feel that I haven't really had a chance to surpass that college-age-period. Graduating in '09 has meant that I am behind getting the job, getting on my feet. I've been hovering between college and working-adult with no means of backtracking to to the college experience and no admission into the "adult" world. And I'm turning 29 this year, falling back on crafts in an attempt to make ends meet.

Mind boggling, really and truly. This isn't the world I was told to go to college for, the world where a BA would guarantee a little work to pay the bills. I had more luck finding work without the college degree.

I have to do it myself, work for myself--because I'm running out of options.

So here's to another stream-of-consciousness post :P