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Running of the 16-ton Weights

I've had a rough couple of weeks. :P

Long story short, too many plates spinning. Between Barnes & Noble, coach training, coach actually doing, commissions, the comic, and actually running some D&D, there was just no way to do it all. And then, I got sick, and everything just came clattering down like the chef in those old Sesame Street shorts who would call out "Five! Fancy! Fruitcakes!" and then promptly fall down the stairs.

I feel you, Sesame Street Fall Down the Stairs Guy.

I did manage to finish Leona Is Not Safe For Work, get to all of my B&N shifts other than the one where I called in sick, do some networking with Justy, and ran D&D last night. Tonight, I do not get to go to bed until Joey Gatorman's commission is done. So a lot of things have gotten done. But as of right now I still have not taken on a formal coaching client and have fallen behind on my training, don't have a comic page for next week, and am not likely to have one for the week after, either.

There just literally isn't time to do it all, and even if I try, I'm just going to make myself sick again, because I'm not getting any days off in between.

Of all these things, the most time consuming and least rewarding has been Barnes & Noble, so I gave my notice there, as of this coming Friday. This coming week I will be catching up as much as I can before the second training weekend with Accomplishment Coaching.

Last night, I had the classic "The semester's over and you haven't gone to class!" dream, and woke up feeling overwhelmed and terrible. Yes, thank you brain, I'm aware of this, you don't need to remind me. Today, in between being at B&N again, I'm going to make it a do-or-die priority to finish that commission.

I'm standing up, cleaning the custard splats off my face, and moving forward.

-The Gneech
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It's been a while since I did any weekly weigh-ins or the like; I got knocked off of almost everything I was trying to do a while back, weight loss included, and I'm trying to rebuild.

So, for the record, as of yesterday morning, I was 297 pounds, which is thirty pounds heavier than my best a few years ago, but is also twenty pounds lighter than my worst. So, given that I was pretty depressed and eating super-badly for so much of 2016-2017, it could be a lot worse. I've been getting a fair amount of exercise (in the form of daily steps) via the B&N job, of course, and having much smaller and more regular meals.

My biggest challenge was, is, and continues to be, my sweet tooth. Carbs and sugar both are things that I tend to crave a lot, and have been my habitual staples for just about as long as I can remember. It's kind of ironic, because when I was a kid my mom would make this huge deal out of me not being allowed to have "sugary cereals," but I could drink all the soda I wanted. XD But, y'know, it was the '70s.

But I've been working on replacing my big sugar sources (most notably mochas) with unsweetened versions, I'm going to start replacing my go-to carby choices with other things as well over the next month or so. I don't have a lot of the specifics of that plan worked out yet, mostly doing research on it right now. An interesting side-note is that dairy stuff, while technically being low on the glycemic index, still reacts in your body as if it were high in sugar– which means that cutting back on milk and cheese might also be required. That's something that will take some serious habit-breaking. O.o

In Other News...

Tomorrow is the first day of my Success Coach training! I expect there to be a lot of aligning with concepts and actualization of things. XD But for all the cliché cheese, I'm going in with an open mind. My view is that this is kind of an "apprenticeship" for me, and as such, my job is to learn the profession as it is done now before I go making judgements on whether that is good, bad, or indifferent. I suspect that with time and experience, I will probably have some pretty strong ideas about what works for me and what doesn't... but until then, anything I might have to say would be like the white belt in a martial arts class lecturing the teacher. Even if it's right, it doesn't mean I have a complete picture.

Anyway! I need to be on the train early tomorrow, so I'd better hit the hay. G'nite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. :)

-The Gneech
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New Year's Resolutions by Grant Snider for Evernote

What to say about 2017? I mean, yeah, lots of the perfectly-predictable awful shit that we were yelling about in 2016 came to pass right on schedule. But most of the adults in the room, once it was clear that it was all going to happen, turned their efforts to slowing, fighting, or just mitigating it as best they could. If 2016 was the year of yelling "Look out, there's a train wreck coming!" then 2017 was the year of hitting the brakes and getting as many people off the train as we could, and 2018 will be the year of cleaning up the mess– and sending as many of those engineers and switch operators to jail (or at least to exile in disgrace) as possible.

And for all the usual suspects wailing and gnashing their teeth on social media that 2017 was the Worst Year Ever, it had its good points. Bee populations have increased by 27%. The snow leopard has been taken off the endangered species list. Scientists have successfully re-bred sections of the Great Barrier Reef.

But on my own personal front? 2017 for me was largely about getting back my mojo (thanks, Austin) and, just as Kimmie predicted, a year for new beginnings.

Austin Powers wishes you a happy new year, you sexy bastard.

So, reviewing my goals for 2017...

  1. Issues Five and Six, Plus the First Collection. Nailed it. Very pleased. :)

  2. Publish That Book! Nope. -.- Revised it, kept sending it out, still nope. Somebody else published my book. I nearly hulked out and tore the place down. It was not pretty. I don't know what's going on here, the energy around it has turned all weird. This needs addressing.

  3. Finish Another Book! Also didn't happen, despite starting two and putting more work into the the not-Tolkien book from last year as well. As with publishing the Sky Pirates novel, I feel like there's something weird going on with me and my writing, and I need to devote some time to diagnosing and fixing the problem in order to move forward next year.

  4. Start a Company. Progress... but not in the direction we were going at the time. XD The project [personal profile] laurie_robey and I were working on at the time was going to be a sort of "lifestyle magazine/blog/podcast" kind of thing where we highlighted local features, organizations, points of interest, hidden treasures and the like, a more mainstream "Here's cool stuff about [city]!" kinda like was intended to be for the furry fandom. That particular project ended up not having any legs, as evidenced by how easily we got distracted onto other things... but it was replaced by the serious pursuit of commercial drone photography on her part, and life coaching on mine. Go fig! More about those below.

  5. Move to California. Well... no. We moved back to Virginia instead. XD But honestly, I'm fine with that, and I'll tell you why: there was too much baggage. I was fixated on going to California like Thorin fixated on the Arkenstone, and it was completely messing with my head. That fixation drove my willingness to sell the Hobbit Hole (which was a mistake it took me three years to realize how much I regretted), caused a lot of stress to our relationship, and was leading me down paths that would have led to me being just as miserable in California as I ever was in Virginia or Maryland. And if nothing else, being in Maryland highlighted a lot of the good things about Virginia that I knew I would miss, but didn't truly realize how much. Now, we may still go out there someday. I love Big Sur like crazy and will probably continue to nurse daydreams of Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. But if/when that happens, I want it to be for the fun and joy of it, not the kind of desperation that was making me stupid about it before.

  6. Stronger faster slimmer better. Didn't happen this time around. I have lost some weight at the B&N job by virtue of salads for lunch and being on my feet all day, but I spent a lot of time in Maryland sitting like a lump eating comfort food.

  7. Bring the Awesome! This has been working! And paying dividends. My mood is up, we are in a new place we like better, we're making progress on careers. The "Unsuck Our Lives" project is paying off!

  8. Edit Myself Less. This is kind of a hard one to report on, because it hasn't come up as much as I expected. I mean, I have been pretty much speaking my mind when I felt like it needed to be spoken, so mission accomplished? But I also haven't been in as many situations where the inclination to keep things to myself was a problem, so it hasn't been that much of a challenge. Honestly? I'm fine with that.

  9. Reverse course and mitigate/repair damage to the country. Been doing this. Lots of marching, calling various reps, supporting grassroots organizations and spreading the word. And it is helping, in ways both big and small. We've still got a lot of work ahead of us, but there are more good people in this country than there are assholes, and we're going to win.

So, a mixed year, but definitely more positive than negative for me.

Where to in 2018?

  1. Gneech, Life Coach. Next weekend is a "trial session" of professional training from Accomplishment Coaching, and assuming that goes well, I will be enrolled for a year's course leading towards my first level of certification by the ICF. Life coaching is a bit like the I.T. world, where there's no legal requirements and anyone can hang out a shingle and get freelance work, but accreditation by professional organizations definitely helps you build both your skills and your reputation. The Accomplishment Coaching program is also designed to get you up and running with a practice quickly– which means having income again. This is a good thing. ;) I have some ideas about where I'd like to go with the career, but they're all fairly vague right now and I have a lot to learn first. But I'm excited to get into it!

  2. Help Laurie Get Her Business Running. I'm probably too close to Laurie to be an effective life coach for her– but I can support her, help provide resources, and so on.

  3. Stable and Reliable Income. Items one and two, combined, become this. ;) Followed up with clearing debts, building savings, and getting back to investment.

  4. Figure Out What's Up With My Writing. Seriously. My hard drive is littered with perfectly-sellable books that for whatever reason I'm not getting anywhere on. Sky Pirates of Calypsitania is now something like four years old without selling, while other authors are succeeding with it. It's a lot like the whole thing of people looking at Suburban Jungle, saying the art is great, and then not buying the book. Do I have something weird going on psychologically with making money from creative pursuits?

  5. Sell. A. Book. Pursuant to above.

  6. Issues Seven, Eight, and Nine. Because that would be awesome.

  7. Continue Fixing the Country. 2018 elections are going to be huge and important and I'm going to work with Flippable, Indivisible, and others to kick serious ass in this department.

  8. Take a Vacation. Laurie wants to see New England, and I'd enjoy that too. Maybe in the fall? We'll see how finances and schedule can be arranged.

In a lot of ways, these feel a lot less "dramatic" than previous years' goals, but also less melodramatic, too. Instead of going into 2018 with dread, terror, or even guns blazing, I've got a feeling of calm purposefulness, and I think that will serve me well. This year's post isn't a manifesto, it's a game plan, and I kinda like it that way.

It's a little early for bedtime, so I'll just say "Good afternoon, world, and have an awesome new year." ;)

-The Gneech
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Lake Anne, Reston

Solarpunk – a plausible near-future sci-fi genre, [...] based on updated Art Nouveau, Victorian, and Edwardian aesthetics, combined with a green and renewable energy movement to create a world in which children grow up being taught about building electronic tech as well as food gardening and other skills, and people have come back around to appreciating artisans and craftspeople, from stonemasons and smithies, to dress makers and jewelers, and everyone in between. -Olivia.

The house is starting to take shape, although [personal profile] laurie_robey and I seriously need some downtime to just come together and work on it, as she's been doing most of the organizing herself by virtue of actually being here. The B&N job, while it has its virtues, has been an enormous time/energy sink, and I suspect it will not last once I get into training. It doesn't make that much more than commissions + book sales, but has made those harder to get done in a timely way.

Being back in Virginia is definitely a relief, and we've made a point of getting some walking around the neighborhood in. The neighbors we've met are all very nice and there's a good sense of community here, which pleases me. And of course, Reston was solarpunk before there was solarpunk, despite every developer in the world trying to turn it into another Crystal City for the past fifty years.

Fuck off, developers. :P Nobody likes you.

The cats have been loving the new place, once they got over the stress of moving. The wide open living room gives them lots of room to tear around when they play, and Dasher particularly loves to Tokyo Drift all around the hardwood floors. (He very clearly does it on purpose when he's happy and excited– when all he wants is to get from point A to point B he just takes the turn normally.) We're particularly happy to see Dasher being energetic and having fun, as he is starting to show his age. He's not processing vitamin B12 properly, so we have to give him a weekly injection of that, and he'll be off to the vet later today for a heart checkup. Given everything he's been through, he's still doing very well.

Also today I have a call with someone from the life coach training organization I'm interested in. I already spoke to one person there, an alumnus who I made contact with through my counselor and who has a very successful practice as well as still working with the training group. The person I'm speaking to today is actually one of her trainers, and I intend to get into a bit more detail about the nitty gritty of the actual program. (Hours, schedule, tuition costs, etc.)

It sounds quite promising. The program is designed to give you hands-on experience fairly quickly and helps you set up your own practice, find clients and referrals, and so forth. Some people (such as my initial contact) stay with the program or create a hybrid career combining clients of their own with program clients, while others simply strike off on their own after completing the course. And since part of understanding what life coaching is all about is having a clients'-eye view of the process, you get the services of one of the instructors as a coach yourself while you go through it all. (Given that I have been more-or-less acting as my own life coach for the past few years, it'd be handy to offload that task onto someone else for a while– not unlike the lawyer not representing themselves. ;) )

Seriously tho, once I started examining the idea of coaching, the more I began to think it was a good fit for me. I've basically been doing it for some of my friends for years (or decades) just by instinct, but it would be good to actually know what I'm doing. ;) (It would also be good to have a profitable line of work again, without going back to the code mines. I don't think I could successfully be an I.T. guy any more even if I wanted to, which God knows I don't.) I suspect the hardest part of the business for me will be the actual entrepreneurial aspect– i.e., billing, accounting, all that jazz– and part of the training program is helping you get that all set up.

Besides creating this as a new career, I'm also thinking about ways I can use the skills to help out the fandom(s) I'm in. I'm looking at creating a "How To Successfully Human" panel to run at furry cons, for instance. Plus anything that makes me a better businessman can only help with selling books and running my tables at conventions. If 2018 goes as I intend, I shall be well on my towards making a better future for myself and the world. :)

-The Gneech
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Suburban Jungle (Starring Tiffany Tiger) for July 22, 2005

Not the R63 version of Rarity, although I'd be happy with that, too.

So, the past several weeks have been bonkers. Got a new job (Barnes & Noble), moved back to Virginia from Maryland, spent four days in Chicago for Midwest Furfest, and then had an unexpected (but welcome) visitor come spend the night at our place over the weekend. I haven't looked at my hours, but I do know that of the 12 days I've had off since mid-November, six of them were either moving, convention, or Thanksgiving. So I've been pretty harried.

The good side of that, is I've been insulated from all the noise and drama around world events and social media. The bad side of that, is I've been isolated from all my online friends and barely able to work on my writing and art.

Fortunately, now that the moving is done and we begin the long process of unpacking and assembling the house, that particular problem is much reduced. The last single large bit (car paperwork) will probably be dealt with tomorrow, and from then it'll be slow but incremental improvement until the new house is truly a home. It's already got a Christmas tree, the first one we've had in two years, and that is a bigger deal than it sounds.

I'm not to the point where I can get some work done in the morning and then go off to my job in the afternoon/evening yet, but I expect that will start being a thing later this week or early next. Of course, once the holidays come barreling through, the B&N job will either scale back or possibly disappear entirely. But I've got some big things in the works for 2018 that will make everything happening for me job-wise right now seem like the smallest potatoes, and that's going to be pretty awesome. I'll have more updates on that as I get them worked out, or probably by my annual New Year's post.

In the meantime, hey! I'm still here! I'm still creating stuff! And this time I'm not even dodging 16 ton weights! More like spinning 16 hundred plates.

It's an upgrade, man. It's an upgrade.

-The Gneech
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I have decided that, as much as it annoys me, I am once again going to have to punt on NaNoWriMo, because, just like last year, November is just too damn crammed full of stuff. The big one is moving, but even that could be handled except for picking up the seasonal job at Barnes & Noble. Between now and the end of November, I have three days off: one is Thanksgiving, one is Moving Day. The rest of the time, I'm doing 8-hour retail shifts during the height of Christmas shopping season.

When you combine that with a half-baked story outline, and the fact that my mind is in a completely different space because I am all interested in coming up with new career and money-making options now that we're moving back to Virginia, you end up with NaNoWriMo simply being too far down on the list of priorities. On top of all that, I don't want [personal profile] laurie_robey to be doing all the packing and moving herself, again. We've moved like that way too many times, never again.

But fear not, dear readers! I am still going to write the book, and it wouldn't surprise me if I finish it by the end of January, but I am not going to cram on it for NaNoWriMo. Instead I'm going to go back and write up a proper outline using the ~22k words I have already as a launching pad. I know my basic cast, I know a lot of the core issues of the book, and I know generally where I want it to go, so that's a good foundation. But I discovered when writing Tend On Mortal Thoughts and Sky Pirates of Calypsitania, that I really, really like having a complete and fairly detailed outline; writing without one makes me feel like I'm trying to create a sculpture out of pudding.

I plan to write at least two novels between now and the end of 2018, of which this year's NaNoWriMo project (Child of the Tower) was one. The other is the Sky Pirates prequel. These books have two separate markets and eventual fates: Child of the Tower is intended to be the first in a new series of furry fantasy novels, while Clockwork Caper (the Sky Pirates prequel) will go to mainstream publishers, either as fantasy or teen fantasy/adventure. I do at some point need to fall in love with Clockwork Caper as its own thing– right now I still kind of think of it as a vehicle for finally getting Sky Pirates of Calypsitania on the shelves. (What can I say? I love Sky Pirates of Calypsitania. Not only is it the best thing I've written so far, it's also exactly the kind of book I wish I could read.)

So, About Those Money Goals...

I have put a lot of thought into creating a career lately, because what I've been doing just ain't cutting it. I enjoy both my art and my writing, but I haven't gotten to the point where I'm making the kind of money I want and need from it, nor have I found a way to make myself approach and think of it as "a real job." I haven't nailed down why this is, but I'm also tired of gazing into my navel about it and just want to get on with life already. To that end, I am now looking at other options.

I have also figured out that my "rebel tendency" nature has been sabotaging me on a lot of fronts, that one included. My secondary tendency is "obliger," and so while as a rebel I resent having to have customers or clients, as an obliger secondary I'm a lot more likely to actually DO something if I've promised some not-me person that it will be done. So as weird as it may sound, one possibility I am looking at is that of a life coach.

The various aptitude tests I've gone though (such as the Highlands Ability Battery) always come up with "writer" at the top (for obvious reasons), but also tend of have "counselor" highly rated. My problem with that has always been the same reason I never became a veterinarian despite my love of animals: I have an overactive empathy, and I don't want to get tangled up in other people's (or creatures') trauma and pain. I know counselors often find it cathartic; I suspect I would just turn into an emotional wreck.

But a life coach? That's a different matter. First of all, it's not so personal. I don't need to know that someone was sexually abused by their neighbor as a child in order to help them become successful or build new lives. Furthermore, assuming I'm good at what I do, my "mission accomplished" moments will be success stories, where I've helped people create richer, fuller, and more satisfying lives and make the world a better place. Who wouldn't want that?

And, let's not mince words here, being good at it can also make you rich too, almost as a necessary side-effect. Who's going to be interested in getting you to help them get their lives in order, if you're living on what was supposed to be your retirement and hating your own life? Life coaching is one of the few professions where being rich and happy is actually a job requirement. XD

But the thing is? I think I could do it. As [personal profile] inkblitz says, I've got a lot of experience in life. The pain of losing so many people in so short a time, overcoming depression, denial, and deep-rooted self-worth issues, have certainly taught me a thing or two about getting through (and over) one's crap. And if [profile] jamesbarrett's sister's declaration that I am an indigo has any kind of truth beyond sheer crackpottery, then not only can I use my gifts to help the world, it is literally what I came to this planet to do.

Right now, I've got a lot to learn and figure out about the idea. I don't know the ins and outs of life coaching, or even how one gets trained in such things other than reading a lot of self-help books. ¬.¬ But I do have resources! Besides the entirety of the internet, I have my counselor to consult. She's a trained professional and I've spoken to her and I know she has colleagues who actually are life coaches. Plus, well, I work in a freakin' bookstore. I'm sure I can find some interesting and useful materials there! ;D

While I was sitting around waiting for my shift to start earlier today, I put together this as a preliminary to-do list on the topic:

  • Get life together ;P

  • How does one do it?

  • Make contacts/find mentors

  • What does it entail?

  • How make money?

  • Running a biz/managing money

  • Building a brand

  • Gotta deal w/ Rebel Tendency!

  • Possibly create a Rebel Tendency Support Group? ;)

So right now it looks like that's where the rest of my energy in 2018 is likely to go. Between all of that, and Laurie building her drone photography or other businesses, it's going to be a very interesting year​. But it's gonna be soooooo much better than the ones leading up to it have been!

I'm pretty darn excited, actually. :) It's really nice to be looking forward to my life again. But now, I need some sleep. G'nite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. Turkey Day tomorrow! Remember to go to Shout Factory starting at noon EST for the MST3K Turkey Day Marathon! We sure as heck will be.

-The Gneech
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I have started to notice a strange phenomenon, which is that I have a bunch of things I want and/or intend to do with my day, and yet somehow, sitting down to work on them becomes a direct route to not getting anything done.

Case in point: today. My bullet journal for today has the following entries:

  • Don commission

  • B&N website/time tracking app

  • New! Improved! Plan for 2018/visualization journal
    • House
    • Work
    • Money
    • Exercise
    • Books
    • (Badass Book for ref?)

  • NNWM

  • Writing blocks/limiting beliefs

  • Fanservice art ;P

  • Groceries

  • Laundry

Granted, this is a lot of stuff, and I certainly didn't expect to finish it all today. But I also didn't get anywhere near as far into it as I expected. Here's what I've actually accomplished from this list:​

  • Messed w/ B&N site/tracking stuff, only to have it fail. Maybe my employment stuff isn't in the system yet?

  • A very pokey and uninspired Plan for 2018, because every time I tried to write on it my brain just went all fuzzy and I couldn't focus.

  • Groceries.

  • This post is kinda/sorta the writing blocks/limiting beliefs item. At least I'm starting to look at the issue.

Why did this happen? I don't know. I was all gung-ho and high energy all morning and for large chunks of the afternoon, and that energy was spent mostly working on edits/tweaks of the SJ Volume One Trade (which, you'll notice, was not on this list, because it came in from FurPlanet overnight). Still, that's a major project and needed to get done so that FurPlanet could have the books in production in time to be on hand for MFF. So I don't resent working on that.

I got the Volume One stuff done, and was eagerly working on ideas for what I would draw as soon as I got home from dinner.

After dinner... blugh. Everything resembling productivity just stopped. My B&N administrivia attempts ran into walls. My Plan for 2018, which I was super-stoked to write after re-listening to You Are a Badass, just turned into a vague cloud of mush and wore me out. As for art... no way. All energy was gone.

Maybe it was the burger? I love flame-broiled burgers but only let myself have them once or twice a month at most because they're huge health-bombs (not to mention all the environmental problems associated with beef); but it could be that such a heavy dinner sent me into a food coma.

But there's also the problem that I sometimes seem to associate this desk with, well, not getting anywhere on stuff. All of the times I've wrangled in creative frustration with Rough Housing, or stared at the outlines for By Elves Abandoned or Child of the Tower and completely failed to have a story spring forth, have happened at this desk. Many of my most successful writing sessions, by contrast, have happened at Starbucks or similar places.

But at the same time, every page of Rough Housing ever drawn, was drawn at this desk, including the issue six cover I love so much. And I have in the past managed some pretty damn impressive writing spurts here, so I know it can be done. That doesn't alter the fact, however, that headspace is a major thing for creative work, and once a place takes on a certain meaning in your mind, that meaning can come to define your interactions there.

The last thing in the world that I want, is for my desk to become the place where it is hardest for me to work. -.-

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I spend the vast majority of my time here. Writing? At my desk. Drawing? At my desk. Doofing around in the internet? At my desk. Watching anime? At my desk.

Since we're moving in JUST NINE DAYS (*flail!*) I need to address this in my new workspace. I want my drawing table to be for DRAWING. I want my writing space to be for WRITING. I want the "everything else" place to be... SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Downside of that, of course, is that I do everything on the same computer. >.> To do different work in different places, I must have a) different places, and b) either a different computer in each place, or easy portability.

My writing has to be done on a laptop, so that I can easily bugger off to Starbucks or wherever when I need to get away from the cats or whatever else might be distracting me at home. Currently, my art is also done on the same laptop, and it's not real easy to just unplug it and go, because I have so many peripherals plugged in (including a backup drive that gives me nastygrams if I just unplug it without "ejecting" first).

However, I also have this really nice, beefy PC that a certain TwitterPonies fan gifted me with, now living without a purpose since I gave Overwatch the heave-ho. So one possibility would be to migrate my art (and backup drives and printers etc.) to that machine, leaving my lappy free to come and go at will.

The other option would be to pick up something else dedicated to doing my writing on. I originally bought a Macbook Air for that purpose, but when I decided I needed a new art computer, chose the Macbook Pro to do double duty. Laurie has the Air now as her computer.

I dunno! I'll figure it out. The whole issue of desk layout might be a red herring, considering how eager my brain seems to be to send me off in the wrong direction all the time. I am trying to carefully observe my habits and behavior to find patterns, however. Every aptitude test or career-search program in the world tells me the same thing over and over again: GO WRITE YOUNG MAN, so why does being at home with a flexible schedule and leave me so often staring into space instead of, you know, DOING WHAT I'M MEANT TO BE DOING WITH MY LIFE, and frustrated with it to boot?

I've already talked some about my tendency to go into denial whenever anything becomes the slightest bit painful. This issue of having difficulty writing, when it's clearly what I was made for, is related somehow I think. My ego and my deeper self, whatever that may be, have extended relationship problems that I both need and want to overcome.

Anyway, that's enough rambling about this tonight, I think. I need to get some sleep now, so that tomorrow I can get up in the morning, slap on headphones, and get as much stuff done as possible before schlepping myself off to the job. But that's also part of the reason why I wanted a day job: to give myself deadlines. If it doesn't happen before 2:00, it's not going to happen tomorrow.

(It's nuts. Having an external schedule to adhere to stresses me like crazy and makes me frustrated that I'm not getting my art/writing/etc. done. So theoretically NOT having an external schedule should be awesome because I can do that stuff instead! So why, why, why, oh neurotic brain, do you decide that it just means I can fluff off forever instead? Bonkers.)


-The Gneech

Aww Yeah!

Nov. 8th, 2017 06:29 am
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NaNoWriMo hit 6,709 words as of yesterday, still below par but chugging along. :)

Also, I accepted a verbal offer of seasonal employment at Barnes & Noble as a bookseller. Not exactly something that will make me rich, but it will make up the difference for moving back to Virginia and get me some exercise and back out into the world again, which is a good start. I used to love working on the floor at Borders, and I can't imagine that part of the job has changed much.

Socially/politically yesterday was a big day, too, but I have little of substance to say on the matter beyond that right now other than "Aww yeah!"

So! Life is good. :) Have an awesome day, lovely readers.

-The Gneech
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1,454 words today, still not quite up to the 1,667 par but a big step up from what I've been doing so far this month.

But more urgently, [personal profile] laurie_robey and I picked up the keys for the new apartment today! We also took measurements and did some preliminary thinking on how the layout would go. The new place is something like 50% larger than where we are now, and after cramming in here it's going to feel SO. ROOMY. O.o We might actually (gasp!) have a guest room again! Or even get a roommate? Whoa.

The other big thing today was a job interview. :) Part-time work that would basically pay the difference between the rent here and the rent in the new place, but work that I'd enjoy doing, would provide a little structure and get me out of the house, so that's all good.

All in all things are going in the right direction for us and I'm quite pleased. Thanks, Universe! Keep up the good work!

Bigger picture/shared reality stuff still needs work, and I'll work on that once we've gotten our own house in order, so to speak.

-The Gneech
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With a good push yesterday, I brought my NaNoWriMo total up to 3,106 words, putting me only two days behind, so I should be able to catch up quickly. Today I'm going to put together a cover as well.

The new lease is officially signed, sealed and delivered. We are moving back to Reston in the week between Thanksgiving and Midwest Furfest, because why do anything when you can do EVERYTHING AT ONCE? ;D

Had my first live past-life regression session with my counselor yesterday. No exciting mystical experiences, alas, but it wasn't a complete waste: my subconscious chewed on things from the session overnight and gave me what I think are some useful insights about my behavior and reactions going forward.

I have a job interview tomorrow night. :) A part-time thing that would basically pay the difference for our rent going up to go back to Virginia, so not exactly a big bump moneywise, but still valuable for other reasons. Will say more when things are definite one way or the other. :)

Finally, this month's Patreon supporter pledges are in! <3 Thank you, all you awesome peeps, I am super grateful as always for your support and encouragement. ^.^

This has been your Gneech News Report. We now return you to your regular Dreamwidth feed, already in progress.

-The Gneech
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Sorry, My Give-A-Damn is Broken
So the thing with the rebel tendency, at least for me, is that I am motivated by desire. That is to say, I have to want something in order to make it happen– which is why grief and depression are my kryptonite. Depression makes it hard to take pleasure in anything, and grief makes it hard to be willing to engage in things you like because you don't want to risk facing the pain of loss again.

But I can't just spend my life wandering an emotional wasteland like Hipster Percival. Besides the fact that we live in a pay-to-play society, there's a more primal factor in that I need to be creating in order to be happy. But attempting to create when my heart isn't in it, true to rebel nature, is just an exercise in frustration and resistance.

This creates a kind of feedback loop– I have to be happy enough to get excited about what I want to create, in order to do the creating that will make me happy.

It's kinda like a fusion reaction: once the cycle is up and running, it's nicely self-sustaining, but if something comes along and stops it (or it runs out of fuel), it takes a vast amount of external energy to get it started back up again.

Which is roughly where I am emotionally at the moment. I need to restart my emotional pilot light– what I refer to as my Give-A-Damn. When you hear about artists wailing to the muses for inspiration, same deal. Some writers sneer at this notion, saying that "real writers write whether they feel like it or not." I would argue that those writers have probably never had to really deal with a broken Give-A-Damn, and have no idea how debilitating it actually is.

(They may also be hacks; but that varies wildly from writer to writer.)

There is some truth to the adage that once you start moving, the energy and enthusiasm will come, but it isn't an absolute. Sometimes "shut up and write" works, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, a mental vacation is what's needed. Other times, you need to actually get inspiration from a new experience or from some great piece of work that's new to you.

So far, my Give-A-Damn has been very stubborn about not letting itself be fixed– but I am more stubborn than it is.

-The Gneech
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Feel like crap for no good reason today. Trying to grind through because there's a lot of stuff I want to get done and there will always be things trying to prevent me from doing them, so when those things are my own internal bad wiring I can at least say "no" to that.

Through a roundabout path I recently happened upon Gretchen Rubin's concept of "four tendencies" and discovered that, true to form, I have the rarest and most problematic tendency, that of "rebel." The tendencies are based on how you respond to expectations, whether internal or external.

  • Upholders respond strongly to both internal and external expectations. They tend to be sticklers for the rules, but also self-motivated and with a moral code that can override the outer laws and traditions of the world around them. Hermione Granger is listed as an archetypal upholder; I'm not sure if I actually know any personally.

  • Questioners respond strongly to internal expectations, but not so much to external ones. They always want a satisfactory explanation for anything– if they don't think there's a valid reason to follow a rule or complete a project, they won't. [personal profile] laurierobey falls into this category. I suspect Sirfox is as well, but it's harder to tell.

  • Obligers respond strongly to external expectations, but not so much to internal ones. These are people who can stick to an exercise regimen if they've got a buddy or a class, but will immediately stop as soon as nobody's "checking up" on them. Sandy Rathbun was in this group, and I suspect so was Mammallamadevil.

  • Rebels do not respond well to external or internal expectations. They can be summarized as "You can't tell me what to do– and I can't tell me what to do either." Once they decide they want to do something, there's no stopping them, but until they want to do something, you can expect them to resist with all they've got. That includes things they decided a month ago that they wanted to do, but that they don't want to do right now, which can lead them to be just as frustrating to themselves as they are to the people around them. Like I say, I am a rebel. So is Hantamouse, which is simultaneously why the two of us get along and why the two of us fight.

There's a lot more to the framework than just this, and it's also just a tool, not some magical solution to figuring out personality quirks and interactions and things. But within the framework, I think there's some interesting insights.

I was at a presentation by Ms. Rubin, and I tried to ask (but didn't get called on), "If a rebel instinctively says 'no' to any expectation, even their own, how are they supposed to keep from eventually sliding into a Bartleby-esque catatonic state of just never wanting to do anything?" I hoped that her book might have an answer for that question, but I have since discovered that... no, not really. The book had very simplistic reverse-psychology suggestions along the lines of "I bet you can't lose 20 pounds in ten weeks!" Seriously? What am I, seven?

But this is a problem that I have found myself facing over the past few years since being effectively self-employed. I used to hate my day job fiercely, and come home to work on my writing/art/etc. with the zeal of a workaholic because it was what I wanted to do. Now, the writing/art/etc. is my day job, but instead of being energized and excited and kicking ass, I am now fighting with the constant desire to sleep all day or play video games or whatever else instead.

A devotee of the four tendencies would say that's my rebel nature, and it may very well be. But that just puts a label on it, it doesn't actually give me any tools to combat the problem.

I have contemplated going back to a day job just to give me something to channel my resentment back into other than my own work. But as I get older, I don't have the endurance I used to. That Starbucks job I had in late 2015 was only part time and still left me feeling dead most of the time. I can only imagine how wrecked I would be trying to go back to 40 hours of writing code or something similar at 6 am in the friggin' morning. I can't deny the pay would be better, but if it left me too tired to do my real work, it would be literally selling my soul.

I know that I am motivated by desire. Everything I've accomplished was because there was something I wanted to happen. I created Suburban Jungle because I wanted there to be a comic like Suburban Jungle for me to read. I wrote Sky Pirates of Calypsitania because I wanted to read a book like Sky Pirates of Calypsitania. But right now I'm in a mental and emotional spot where desire is hard to come by. Grief has damaged my ability to feel enthusiasm. Frustration has damaged my ability to feel hope.

So right now, I am operating on almost 100% pure stubbornness. Which is frankly exhausting. So I guess on reflection it's not quite so random a blugh, nor quite a case of feeling like crap for no good reason. I'm fatigued.

-The Gneech
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The irony of "we didn't make enough money therefore we have a huge tax bill" makes me bang my head on the desk. And again, we've got the savings to cover it (in the form of retirement funds burning up), but we have reached the point where being unemployed has ceased to be a nuisance and become a serious problem. I have until now been concentrating my efforts on finding a job out in CA to facilitate going out there, but at this point, I don't feel like I can afford that luxury any more.

Not that there have been a whole lot of job prospects around here either; the election of Lord Dampnut has been a huge blow to most of the major job sectors around here except Murder Incorporated, and I'm not interested in joining that particular industry.

However, I am now opening my long-term job search up to other cities that have some appeal but were previously not under consideration, such as Richmond, Pittsburgh, and Boston. In the shorter term, I am going to spend the upcoming week hunting down and connecting to temp agencies, something which has had mixed results in the past– but mixed results are better than no results at all.

I'm frustrated and disgusted by the whole thing. What started out as feeling like life was taking unwanted turns some years ago, now feels like the wheels have completely come off and I'm just watching the wreck in slow motion. But there's no readily visible course of action to take to fix it, and honestly, there are no decisions made in the past I could point to that could have prevented it, either. The choices we made all along were the best ones with the information available to us at the time. So there aren't even lessons to be learned about it. There's just keeping calm and dragging on.

Drag, drag, drag.

-The Gneech
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I spent the morning grinding my gears on this stupid question of the test in SF, and eventually looked at it this way:

BEST CASE SCENARIO: I ace the test, they call me to fly out to SF again in a couple of weeks for interview, and if I get hired we start frantically moving, for a civil service job which while it would pay the bills is unlikely to be exactly thrilling or remunerative in one of the top three highest-rent places on the meta-flipping PLANET, causing me to probably be job hunting again in six months.

WORST CASE SCENARIO: I run up more debt on the credit card, don't get the job, have to cope with another discouraging rejection, and am still grinding away on the job hunt.

DETERMINING FACTORS: Who knows? I might be their star candidate and the test is a formality, they're just not allowed to say so. Or like I said before, they might have a chosen candidate already and are just forced to go through the "we tested other candidates" dance. Without at least having a phone interview first, I'm going in completely blind.

So all of it was a roll of the dice, and historically, dice are not kind to me. It's a recurring joke in my gaming circles, actually, that I create these crazy twinked-out powergaming characters, only to be constantly foiled by my inability roll higher than 33% of the desired result. I've long ago given up betting on anything but the most stacked-in-my-favor odds, and even then I prefer the sure thing if it's available.

But the worst part of it all, honestly, was the feeling of desperation. Being so set on the idea of some job, any job, out in CA, that I'd be willing to hop on a plane blind to the outcome, is just inviting the bad wolf to come and bite me in the neck. So I e-mailed the job contact asking if they had any options for remote testing. She replied that they didn't, so I thanked her for the opportunity and withdrew my application.

She said, "I'm sorry to hear this," which is the most information I've received about it one way or the other, but I also note that she's not sorry enough to try to change my mind, either. And I also didn't get the information until it was too late for it to be useful, so... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Identifying that feeling of desperation was the clinching factor me, tho. Frankly? I'm tired of chasing things. Whether it's a job, or a book sale, or trying to get someone I like to hang out with me, whatever it is. The never-ending pursuit of ______, sometimes to the point of going down crazy mental rabbit-holes, has got to stop.

Universe, you can start chasing me, instead.

I still want to go to California, but I'm not going to tie myself into knots to do it. I'm going to keep applying to jobs that will get me there in style, but I'm not going to enslave myself to the idea in the meantime. If it's just a matter of paying the bills, I can find work around here (or work that does not require an office at all) that will do that in the meantime.

It's kinda what I was getting at a while back about "How would California Gneech actually be different?" There's no point in setting myself up to be living a life of quiet desperation on the left coast instead of the right coast. At the end of the day, the externalities of where I am have less to do with my development and state of mind than the internalities of who I am. Until I can find and maintain my own core without worrying about what's going on around me, moving to California is like changing the cosmic desktop wallpaper. It is prettier, but it doesn't actually make things better.

-The Gneech
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The job hunt carries on apace, and a new wrinkle has come up. One of the jobs I applied for, a PR post with the city of San Francisco, wrote back yesterday with "You're qualified! Your written test is in two weeks, at the testing facility on Cesar Chavez St, noon." To which I replied, "Well that's novel."

The possibility of going to SF for interviews or whatnot has come up a couple of times during the job hunt, but usually it was something reserved for "round three" of the interview process. Having it be step one, coming before even an interview, was not something that had occurred to me.

The test in question is "a core written test designed to measure knowledge, skills and/or abilities in job-related areas which may include but are not limited to: knowledge of basic principles and practices of public information, analytical ability, organizational ability, human relations ability, and written communication ability." I can do some cramming on public information and human relations practices, but the rest is native skill. I have no doubt I can do the job, but with limited directly-relevant experience, I'll need to knock the test out of the park to actually get the job.

My only real hesitation about the whole thing is the expense involved in just buggering off to the other side of the country for a day to take a test. Civil service jobs have been known to be posted when they have a candidate in mind already but are required by regulations to at least go through the motions of looking at other applicants, and it would kinda suck to spend 10 hours on a plane and pay for the privilege if someone was yanking my chain. On the other hand, I have no evidence suggesting that's the case here, and what was the point in applying for the job if I wasn't willing to pursue it?

On the plus side, lunch in San Francisco. ;) So, that'd be cool. If any other prospects open up between now and then, I can also use "I'll be in town in two weeks and available for interviewing" as a strategy.


-The Gneech
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In the spirit of keeping calm and carrying on, have a random check-in with the mundane things in life.

Job Hunt

In my quest to return to a more traditional job for a while, I have been sending out job applications right and left since sometime in December, and they have started to bear fruit. Two weeks ago I had a phone interview that seemed to go very well, and the interviewer said they would recommend me to the next rung up and that I should expect to hear shortly. This has not happened, causing the interviewer some confusion as the next person up said they were contacting me.

So, a bit of confusion there. Fortunately, they aren't the only fish in the sea! I had another interview yesterday with a different company who (should all things go well) would provide a very nice salary and benefits, as well as a relocation stipend, which would come in very handy. The interviewer for the second company says the hiring process typically takes 2-4 weeks, so that could be done by the end of February.

Fuwa Fuwa Time

I am nearing the end of the main series of K-On! and I love the hell out of this show. Besides the fact that it's funny as all get out, every time I finish an episode I want to round up all of my friends and just hug the heck out of them. It just perfectly captures that ephemeral feeling of realizing you have to live in the moment, because that's all you really have and it will quickly be gone.

It has also made me reflect on what a mess my own childhood was, how it could have gone differently, and how I could have reacted better to the circumstances I was in. Of course I was a child at the time, so I had no frame of reference to realize what a mess it was, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it, just do my best to learn from it.

Shoes By the Door

Speaking of things Japanese, [personal profile] laurie_robey and I have adopted the habit of taking off our shoes at the door and changing to slippers to wear around the house. The reasons are purely pragmatic– we keep squelching in the mud here and tracking it into the house and we don't want to have to keep cleaning the rug– but it does produce an interesting psychological shift as well, making home seem more "homey." I wasn't expecting that.

We're still getting used to it– for the first few weeks particularly I kept putting on my shoes to go out and then realizing I'd left all the lights on and had to go tromping on the rug to turn them off, defeating the purpose. -.- But, as I needed new shoes anyway, I picked up some comfy Sketchers loafers that are easy to slip on and off, making the change of shoes a much quicker and easier process than it was before. So far I'm liking it.

No Mercy

That's it for now. Have an Overwatch fan vid.

-The Gneech
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Three Good Things For Today

  1. Beautiful sunny day! (Finally!)

  2. A very generous tip from a livestream viewer. Thank you very much!

  3. Movement on one of the interviews! A minor shift, but still progress. I'll take it!

Three Goals For Tomorrow

  1. DailyBurn

  2. Work on the Wonder Woman copics pic.

  3. Work on [secret collaborative project].

Gnite world, and have an awesome tomorrow!

-The Gneech
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As you may know, I've been sending off lots of job applications. As you may not know, some of those have yielded interviews. As of this writing, I am partially through the interview gauntlet on two different positions, which is a hopeful sign that employment is right around the corner... but it ain't here yet. XD I'm going to keep sending off apps until something materializes, tho.

In other news, an unpublished Michael Macbeth story which has been languishing in publication heck for (mumble) years was freed last night when I received official word that the anthology it had been accepted for was canceled. I haven't decided what to do with it yet; my first choice of the next market won't really work, so I might toss it up on Patreon or something, but it has to be in a paying venue.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I'd love to hear 'em!

-The Gneech
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Three Good Things for Today

  1. Jewelry-making supplies shopping with [personal profile] laurie_robey

  2. Deposited an unexpected (but welcome) check from Starbucks

  3. Sent off a bunch of job apps (wish me luck!)

  4. Bonus Good Thing! Invite to Overwatch from friends (I ended up declining in order to job hunt, but still grateful for the invite)

  5. Bonus Good Thing! Fun playing with the cats, who were super-energetic and adorable today.

  6. Bonus Good Thing! More Dreamwidth configuration and friends popping up, as well as some design tweaks.

Three Goals for Tomorrow

  1. Print and mail Plotline's badge

  2. Rough Housing script work

  3. Terinas Tiger commission

  4. Bonus! New Years' Eve/Kormath Christmas at the Rathbun House

'sall good. :) Gnite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. <3

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Gneechtoon)

Three Good Things For Today

  1. Wrote almost all of a novel summary for NaNoWriMo. Still needs the last act and chapter/scene breakdowns, but I think I may have the workings of a real book here. ^.^

  2. Submitted dealer table application for AnthroCon.

  3. Actually put up a (very small) Suburban Jungle update for tomorrow.

  4. Bonus Good Thing! TwitterPonies fun. :)

Three Goals For Tomorrow

  1. Find and apply for three jobs.

  2. Finish novel summary.

  3. Resolve prescriptions weirdness.

G'nite world, and have an awesome tomorrow. I love ya. <3

-The Gneech

April 2019

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