Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Internet Rules Are Meant To Be Broken. Aren't They?

I've been tagged! We all know the internet is full of all kinds of awards, games and memes designed to spread like digital STDs. I've gotten my fair share (by the way, if you've stopped by here, you may want to get yourself tested. Just sayin') and thanks to Joe of Mostly Harmless Drivel, I've now been hit with a new strain: the "My Writing Process Blog Tour".

By the way, you should really go check Joe's blog out. He's a talented writer and I find his fictions are always thought provoking - especially his "700 Hoboes" posts. I'm posting this one a day late, I'm afraid, so I'm offering my apologies as well.

I'm already off to a bad start with following the rules.

I blame it on my slow return to being enthused (or stimulated in any way, to be honest) about-well-anything and everything in general. I was down. I wrote about it here (the one where I swear a lot). I was actually going to post this yesterday but stuff happened at work (I'll share that later) and it threw things off.

Anyhoo, excuses aside, let's get to the matter at hand. Shall we?

First, I answer four questions:

1. What Am I Working On?

Um... I got nothing. I post when something hits me (of course, I'm sure it would make for an interesting story if someone hits me as well). I already questioned whether or nor I'm "writer" enough to try writing a book but the jury's still out on that one.

There has been an idea nagging me for some time, though. Something fiction, something funny. I'd say more but  I don't trust you all not to steal my idea is still in a pretty raw and undeveloped state right now. Maybe I'll stop procrastinating long enough to get it started and we'll see how it goes from there.


2.  How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?



Easy. Mine sucks. Next question. What? More? Okay.


To be honest, I never really thought about it. I just write whatever comes to me. It could be funny (at least to me anyway), or just something for me to vent my frustration (link already provided above). I do draw, on occasion, but that's not really original either. Truth be told, I've never really compared myself to other writers out there. I just do my thing here in my little corner.

I'm not being of much help here. Am I?

Moving right along...

3. Why Do I Write What I Write?

Because I have a natural ability to find the humor in things. I like things that make me laugh and I like telling people things that make them laugh. I have to get this out and, since I'm not much for socializing, casting my words into the void of the internet will have to do. If I'm lucky, they may even catch someone's attention.

4. How Does My Writing Process Work?


I have a process!?! Kidding! I guess you could say it starts with something catching my attention. It can happen anytime, anywhere. Once it plants itself deep within my subconscious, it grows and starts taking over most of my waking thoughts until I expel it onto paper (read as: screen). Usually, my best stories get completely written in my head well before I sit down to hammer them out.

Now comes the part where I break more rules...

I'm actually supposed to tag three people at this point so the infection can continue to spread but I spent more than a week in a funk and never got around to asking anyone.
source
Again, sorry, Joe. Also, sorry, internet. I'll be more compliant next time. 'Kay?

Alright, that's it. Bye!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dealing.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I burn up my quota of swear words for the next few months in this one.)

DAMMIT! I HATE THIS!!! IHATEITIHATEITIHATEITIHATEIT!!!

GAAAAH!!!
That’s how I feel right now. Like some fucking spoiled brat, throwing a tantrum. A very foul-mouthed brat. Why? Because I get depressed sometimes, that’s why? And I hate it.


I mentioned it before, but some of you may not know/remember. I was in banking about four years ago. I was a loans officer and, mostly and I fucking hated it. Then I lost that job – mostly because of my own screw-ups – and had been bouncing around from one place to another, never able to hold down a job for more than six months. The economy was in a slump, banks weren't hiring and it took months to finally find a temporary clerical gig in a small office that paid less than half the income I was making before. That’s how the next three years would go for me. Brief stints of employment here and there, followed my months of unemployment.

As a result of this – maybe even before it (HELL! I don’t know!) – I realized I would go into these “funks” from time-to-time. The worst of it was right after I lost my job at the bank. Back then it was full-on, curl-in-the-fetal-position-under-the-covers-day-after-day depression.


Should I keep calling it that? I've never been officially diagnosed. "Real" therapy's expensive, you know. All I know is it was like a hole had opened up inside me. I felt like something was missing. Like there were things that should be there that just weren't. I remembered, even before things ended with the bank, I questioned whether the road I was on was really the one I should be taking.

As time went on I learned to deal. Or, at least, to look like I was dealing.
Eventually, I started blogging and that seemed to help a lot.

But that hole never went away. When problems started to pile up, there it was, shrouding me and swallowing me up again. True, it wasn't as bad as before. I’d lose interest in things and stop being productive to the point where every task felt burdensome. I literally have to force myself to “function”.

But things are different now. Right? I mean I've been employed since last February. First, with TinyCo – the company that seemed destined to fold at any minute but didn't – and now with the government. My income now isn't anywhere close to what I made in banking but it’s the best it’s been in years. There’s just no reason those old feelings of emptiness to be bother me anymore.

So where the hell did the last week of my life go?

That’s what I fucking hate the most about my “thing”. It’s a creeper. It's a bitch-assed, sneaky kind of gloominess and I never know when it's going to hit or even that I’m going through it. That is, until it comes to a head (or the shit hits the fan). I go into force-function mode and my sporadic bursts of energy during that time allow me to make it through each day with just enough effort to even fool myself and keep drifting along.




I don't know how I got to this state. Sure, life isn't perfect now that my job worries have eased up. I've still been taking a hit or two as a result of our finances going into disarray when I was unemployed. But... Shit, I don’t know!

I know what some of you are thinking. I should talk to someone. I think that's part of the problem. Aside from my wife, there aren't that many people I can talk to. I love her, but there are some things I'm not comfortable talking to her about. Let's not even get into family. I'm a Christian (maybe not the best example of one, but I am), as I may have mentioned and most of my family are as well. But if I have to deal with the cookie-cutter "Go deeper into prayer" answers, I may end up saying some very un-Christian things to them (Don't believe I can? Go back and read some of what I wrote in this post alone.)

The fog is lifting for now, though. I'm just really, REALLY pissed it happened again. Sorry to just spring this on you all. I just needed to vent and since I can't afford therapy and I'm too much of a loner to have "real life" friends to bitch to, the blog is the only place I can pour all this out.

I'l try to be funny next time.

END. RANT.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Conversations With Mrs. C - Texts From The Edge.

The following text conversation took place this morning, while Mrs. C and I were travelling to work. It was triggered by her phone's auto correct. As we often do, we had to split up and take separate vehicles since there wasn't enough room for the both of us.

So you know, Mrs. C hates auto correct. She uses a lot of text abbreviations and likes to shorten words by leaving letters out. All of this, of course, confuses the hell out of her phone. She asked me to turn the feature off once but I never quite got around to it. And I’m glad I didn't since she gave me something to post.
In case you were wondering, the correct answer is, "no". We didn't.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gimme Five!

On my list of many social interaction issues, physical contact is definitely in the top three. It would be right up there with talking to people and any form of interaction with random strangers or people I haven’t seen in a long time.

I’m not a hugger. I’ve said that many times. My wife gets away with hugging me, mostly because she lets me have sex with her (it seems like a fair trade). The same goes for kissing. Again, Mrs. C gets a pass (also because of the sex) but anyone else, not so much. I have aunts who always like to greet with a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, which is why I try to avoid them whenever possible.

What’s weird is I always seem to notice when someone makes deliberate, physical contact with me. Someone putting his/her hand on my shoulder, for example, immediately sets off all kinds of alarms in my head and I spend the rest of the interaction trying not to tense-up and acting like I don’t even notice. You know? Like any normal person is supposed to do.

However, much to my dismay, people are always trying to touch me. I think my overall unease with physical contact is belied by my seemingly approachable demeanor. (DAMN MY FRIENDLY FACE!!!) Just a few days ago, I was showing some students in one of my classes the video quality on my phone when the woman to my right put her arm around my back, while the one on the other side pressed her boobs into my shoulder so she could get in closer to see the screen. During all this, I was doing my best not to tense up.

It wasn’t pretty.

This is just one more reason I love Japan so much. In one of my classes I learned that a lot, like, A LOT of cultures employ handshakes and even kisses – to various degrees – as their greeting of choice. Not Japan, though. You stay at a safe distance from the person you’re meeting and bow. There’s no touching and personal boundaries are respected.
It’s perfect!

Hugging and kissing people is bad enough but what I find I have a lot of issues with is the whole act of “giving” someone “five”.

I know. I know.  It’s just a quick slap of someone else’s palm that lasts less than a second and, as such, should be the least invasive form of physical contact. Right? Well, have you ever thought of the mechanics involved with giving five to someone? I have. I overthink the process every time I placed in a position where a “five” must be bestowed.

Every. single. time.

When someone extends his/her palm towards me I immediately begin to second guess my actions My thoughts in the split-second before I act flow something like this:

Dammit! He just reached out his hand. Is he looking for a handshake? What were we just talking about? I made a joke and he thought it was funny and apparently well suited to the situation. A handshake is probably too formal for this scenario.

So it’s a five then?

Simple enough. Just a quick slap of his palm and that should seal the deal. A quick slap contact shouldn't be more than a second or else things could get weird.

How hard should slap his hand?

Hmm... I remember reading that guys often use these forms of social interaction amongst each other as an opportunity to display his physical strength. One good, hard slap should do.

But what if I hit his hand too hard? What if I focus too much on power and lose accuracy in the process? It would probably be awkward if I miss his hand altogether and swat at thin air.

Should I look at his hand when I give him the five? That will help with my aim. Do people look at each other’s hands when doing this?!

Okay, I won’t look at his hand. I’ll give a moderate slap so I can make sure my aim is good.

It can’t be too soft, though. That would be weird. Plus, he might form doubts about my masculinity.

I need to angle my wrist properly too. Otherwise, I’ll just end up hitting his hand wrong and not making the proper “slapping” sensation. I’m sure I’ll lose points if I connect with the heel of my palm or, even worse, karate-chop his hand.

Okay, this is taking long. I'll just do it and get it over with…

DAMMIT, I missed!

See? It’s not as easy as you may think. This is why I prefer a fistbump (of a “bounce”, as we call them here). Those are easy. You see someone extend a fist, all you have to do is touch that fist with your fist. The. end. About the only time things go off track is when the other person decides to add that sudden wide-spread palm while making an explosion sound-effect right after the bump.

I don’t like those people.

Fortunately, most tend to stay away from that maneuver.

Aside from that, all you have to worry about with a bounce is getting the aim right which, I must admit, I don’t always nail with 100% accuracy.

I don’t want to talk about it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

My Sincerest Apologies.


I trust since the last series of frantic emails and calls a half an hour ago you are all doing well. I have taken the time since our last exchange to reflect on what each of you had to express and I have realized I owe each of you some apologies.

First off, I apologize for suggesting the topic of focus for our group assignment. I admit the idea wasn't one of my best. To be honest, even I thought it sucked. It was born out of panic, to be honest. You see, we only had a half an hour to pitch our ideas to our lecturer and, after I realized we were all sitting in silence and staring around blankly for twenty minutes of that time, I think I let fear get the better of me and I simply blurted out the first thing that popped into my head. Believe me, had I known my decision to speak would lead to everyone else automatically turning off their brains and accepting my suggestion wholeheartedly (despite my opening the floor - nay - begging for other suggestions), I would have continued to remain silent with the rest of you.

I am so, SO sorry that everyone automatically assumed - without first confirming it with me - that, since I was the one who came up with the idea, that I would also be the one to prepare the whole draft paper for the lecturer to review and then go on to write the script as well (I hope you can understand my confusion at this point since another member of the group had already volunteered to do so but later, without giving us warning, seemed to have changed his mind). In hindsight, it made perfect sense that you all would just go about your lives for an entire week and think it was being handled by me, despite my not knowing I had to do it.

I'm also sorry for my job suddenly becoming so demanding. Had I known my being transferred to another office so far away, having to prepare a handover package for my replacement and subsequently having to miss a class due to the sheer exhaustion which resulted from all of this would have sent you all into such a state of panic, I would have acted in a more considerate manner.

I must also apologize for the lecturer shooting down our topic (the one I pitched and to which no one offered any alternative.) and that we now have to come up with and rewrite an entirely new paper. Had I known that during the week I was unreachable, some other member of the team would have altered my originally craptastic idea and made it, not only more craptastic, but put it outside the guidelines of the assignment, I would have made it my utmost priority to have handled things differently.

I am especially sorry to you, one-member-of-the-group-who-has-to-constantly-complain-that-you-are-the-only-one-who-is-actually-doing-anything. I know. I KNOW. It has been very hard on you. What, with your being completely silent and unreachable until the last minute and then emailing some shoddily prepared, almost unusable assembly of words, followed by calling and texting everyone in the group to make sure we see that you contributed. That ONLY YOU contributed.
I am perfectly willing to accept your behavior since you admitted to acting unreasonably when the mere thought of failing an assignment enters your head. I'm sure that was what prompted your very aggressive, albeit erroneous, email the other morning at 4 AM, telling us how you have to "put your foot down" and "we should consider ourselves lucky you didn't CC the lecturer on this email". For your sake, I am happy you did not CC our lecturer since, during your little rant, you clearly misrepresented how much you contributed to the group's work and how little everyone else did.

Mostly, I apologize for what comes next. I am afraid I can no longer sit idly by and trust everyone else to be the adults we all are supposed to be. I am truly sorry but, reluctantly, I am going to be taking stricter measures, assigning tasks and responsibilities, and making sure everyone communicates. Trust that I have no desire to do this but some level of leadership is needed going forward and, sadly, I see no one else stepping up to fill that role.

I hope you all can find it your hearts to forgive me for all I have done to contribute to every failure we've had as a group thus far. I will try my best from now on to be more of a team player and to be more considerate of everyone else's needs and commitments. I hope we can work past this and move forward from here.

Sincerely,

Vinny

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing 2 - Now With More Cluelessness.

In case you've been wondering where I've been for the past week or so (I'll just assume that you noticed I was gone in the first place), I guess the best answer is that I had gone into a state of shock. Remember when I posted how the higher-ups in the in the government ministry I now work for not only read my résumé, but assigned me a bunch of responsibilities based on them and I was starting to feel a little in over my head? Sure you do! But, in case you don't remember all the details, you can read about it here.

Now that same résumé has turned around and bitten me in the ass again as it started a chain of events that, this past Friday, led to me not only being pulled from all of those duties but, also, unceremoniously removed from my desk and the very building in which I worked.

And, no, I was not fired.

I suppose some more explanation is in order. It all started the Friday before last, when the manager of my department was passing me in the hallway...

Manager: Vinny, you used to be a reporter, right?
Me: Yeah. How did you-
Manager: The Executive (*lightening flashes, thunder rumbles, building shakes slightly*) said it was on your résumé. She said she's putting you on a team where you can use those skills for a special project.
Me: O...kay...
Manager: I'll tell you more as soon as they tell me.
Me: Um... Sure.

If I seem a little less than enthusiastic during this conversation it's because... well... I wasn't. The last thing I wanted was to be put onto yet another team. I was just getting the hang of all the things they had me doing already. Turns out I had absolutely no idea what The Executive (*lightening flashes, thunder rumbles, building shakes slightly*) had in store for me. That is until the Manager asked to see me in his office the following Monday.

Okay, seriously! Is there ever a time when your immediate supervisor asks to see you in his/her office any you don't imagine it ending with you being escorted out of the building by security, carrying a cardboard box with all your junk (and the stapler you slipped into your back pocket)?

Anyway, I digress, as I am wont to do. Turns out, the little talk with my manager went more or less like that. Only I wasn't being fired...

Manager: How long were you a reporter?
Me: *Thinking: Oh, it's about that! Breathes a sigh of relief* Six months.
Manager: Mm-hmmm... *jots something down in the notepad on his desk*

Long pause...

Here's the thing, Vinny. Did you know The Executive (*lightening flashes, thunder rumbles, building shakes slightly*) is researcher, first and foremost? She literally reads every line of every document that goes across her desk. Which  is why she noticed on your résumé that you worked as a writer and thinks those skills will be perfect for a team that's being set up.
Me: O...kay... I remember you telling me that.
Manager: Well, the thing she now mentioned to me is that she wants this team to focus only on this project. So you're being pulled from everything else you were working on.
Me: Well... okay...(I think I really pulled off not seeming excited by the news that my heavy workload was getting lifted.) But who's going to handle all my-
Manager: Let us worry about that. Anyway, that's why you're also being pulled from the department.
Me: Huh..?
Manager: And you're being transferred to our Central building.
Me: Huh..?
Manager: For about three months.
Me: HUH???

You know those war or spy movies where they assemble a special group to take out a really high priority target? Well this is something like that (I know I'm making it seem cooler than it really is. Please leave me to my delusions thankyouverymuch). Essentially, we're a select group of people with a very particular set of skills; skills we have acquired over our very long careers. Skills that are making things a nightmare... for me.

Since I just had to go and make it known that I am a writer, The Executive (*lightening flashes, thunder rumbles, building shakes slightly*) is now putting me into this special unit dedicated to finalizing a white paper. I had to Google it. Apparently it's a big deal and while the rest of the team will provide the source material, I'm supposed to take all that and convert it into readable text that everyone - from politician, to lawyer to average Joe-on-the-street - can understand. In other words, it's intended to be read by anyone in the country who so chooses. No biggie there. I was a reporter, after all.

Oh! Did I mention it also could be used to implement major pieces of policy that could affect the state of public service for the entire country?

No pressure.

Anyway, on Wednesday I met with the man who will be my Unit Commander for the duration of this special assignment. He guaranteed me the mission shouldn't take more than four months (hopefully).

Friday was my final day there. I was given a "new" laptop, directions to my new office and I met with Unit Commander again, along with the other two members of the team. These were the people I would be working with exclusively for at least four months so it's probably a good idea for me to try not to piss them off too quickly.

I make no promises.

Yes, I did take my stapler with me.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pictures In The Air.

Tears ran down the side of her face as she stared up at the ceiling. How could she be so stupid? She was smarter than this, better than this. She was going to do better, make better decisions. She was going to be the one to break the stupid cycle and not end up being condemned to the same fate as her mother and her grandmother.

She had it all planned out. Right down to the color of his eyes. Brown. A light, bright brown that shined when the sunlight hit it just right. She was going to finish high school, go to college and be a game developer in a huge company. That is until she made the right connections and started a company of her own. Then, after she got wildly successful, she would meet him. A nerdy, but still cute gamer-geek like herself, with those bright, brown eyes.

All in that order.

That was how she imagined it. That was how she had been imagining it for as long as she could remember. On those cold nights, when the heat got shut off. On the hungry nights and even on those nights when they weren't sure if they'd have a roof over their heads the next day she would look up at the ceiling and see the images of her perfect future floating above her.

Now, thought tear-filled eyes, those visions that used to fill her with comfort instead just hung in tatters above her.

All because she couldn't keep her damned legs closed. All because some stupid plastic stick that she left on her bathroom floor just confirmed what she feared most. All because some boy whose eyes we nowhere near the right shade of brown said just the right things to make her forget her goals.

No. She wasn't going to play that game. As convenient as it would be to put all the blame on him she was going to let herself off so easy. She was the one who gave in and let raging hormones make the call.

Fucking hormones!

Now, what her mother managed to pull off at seventeen, she did at only fifteen.

"Way to go, girl!" she smiled to herself, "Always the overachiever." The thought made her laugh. Hard. Too hard. For a minute she thought she was losing her mind because she laughed so hysterically. She laughed until she didn't have the breath to laugh any more.

"Hey," she put her hand on her stomach, "hope you don't mind your momma going a little crazy for a bit just now. That's something you'll probably have to put up with from time-to-time. Better learn to deal with it, kid. And you better learn to keep up too. I've got plans I intend to see through to the end. I didn't plan on having you along for the ride but I guess that's just going to make things more interesting."

********

This was inspired by this weeks prompt on Studio 30 Plus.
This time writers taking part had write a post that incorporated the line "hung in tatters above her".

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Sign Of The Times.

Based on the way I usually feel at the end of the week, I'm seriously considering having this made and posted on the inside of my front door so I can see it every time I'm about to turn that knob:
Don't get me wrong. Believe it or not, I'm okay with (most) of the people at work. This is prompted by those perilous minutes I actually have to be out in the streets, trying to get from point A to point B.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Should Write Something.

You should write something...

But... I don’t have anything to write.

So? When has that ever stopped you? You’ve written lots of words about nothing before. That's a lame excuse! So, yeah, you should write something.

But what about that book I was reading? I should finish it. It’s been too long. How can I think about sitting down to write when I have a book just sitting there unread?

Still, You should write something.

Maybe after I catch up on some shows I missed out on last week. Then there are all those DVDs I got. There are still one or two I haven’t gotten to yet.

Then again, those shows aren’t really going anywhere? Are they? You can binge watch the entire season over the weekend. The movies can wait too. Instead, you should probably just write something...

Okay, maybe I should. But it’s been a hard week. Maybe some video games to help me unwind first. I can imagine the next boss fight is that annoying guy in IT.

Or... and this is just a thought here... You. Could. Write. Something!

But can I really focus on writing right now with so much stuff going on at work? The Divisional Director just asked me help out on a new project. A complicated project! And the deadline is in two days. Can I really focus on writing now?

Worry about work when you’re at work! Trust me, it’ll be there every morning, waiting for you. That being said, you should write something.

Sigh... I guess you’re right. I should write something...

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Animals Iz Funny - Japan Style!

I-I don’t know what’s real anymore. Up is down, left is right, everything I've been brought up to believe is a lie. What am I talking about? Animals, man. Animals!

We've always been brought up to believe certain things about certain animals. They’re supposed to be part of nature. They’re supposed to be getting life on Earth right, while us humans are the ones screwing things up. Yet there are moose and wasps getting drunk off fermented fruit (I wrote about those incidents back in my Sprocket Ink days, by the way). And what about dolphins?! We were always told dolphins were the smartest mammals in the sea. Hell! Some even argue that they’re smarter than us. But as fellow animal enthusiast, Pickleope, will readily explain, they’re actually the freak perverts of the sea.

So if we’re wrong about the industrious and intelligent animals in nature having it all together, then what about the so-called pests out there. Surely we at least pegged them right. Right?

Wrong! My very last post on Sprocket was about how scientists are retrofitting cockroaches with remote controls and two way communicators to aid in search and rescue and, for those of you too bust fleeing in terror to notice, spiders aren't pests. They KILL pests. And then there are mice. What about the mice? I’ll tell you about the mice!

Well, one mouse in particular, anyway.

I read here today that, in Japan, a woman tweeted that she discovered a mouse had moved into her home. At first she wasn't too thrilled, I imagine. She reported that, when she first saw the creature she leapt at it and, much to her surprise, she caught it. Like I said, she didn't actually expect to catch it and she dropped it and they both retreated.

Later, for round two, she decided to go with a different approach. When the mouse emerged again, she gave it a doggy biscuit as a “peace offering”. The mouse took the treat and went away. Not long after that, her new house mate returned and left her a piece of chocolate it apparently found lying around the house.
source
Forget the Lannisters! Apparently, it’s a mouse who always repays its debts.

Huh! Animals!