the_gneech: (Default)
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
the_gneech: (Default)
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
the_gneech: (Default)
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
the_gneech: (Default)
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
the_gneech: (Default)

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
the_gneech: (Default)
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
the_gneech: (Default)

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
the_gneech: (Default)
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
the_gneech: (Default)

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
the_gneech: (Kero Power Tie)
Although it has been a difficult decision, I have decided to start actively seeking a "day job."

Certainly, the largest factor is money. While I have been earning some money with my art commissions, writing, and other projects, it has never been more than "supplementary" level. That was fine while [ profile] lythandra was making more than enough for both of us, but despite having an amazing job history and regardless of the best efforts of an army of recruiters, it's been over a year now since she had regular employment as well, and we simply can't keep living off our savings any more (or we soon won't have savings to live off).

As for what I'm seeking, I'm still working on that. I want to be in an office environment, but I don't think I could go back to writing code all day (and my skills in that department are super-rusty anyway). I'm going to start by looking for admin, data entry, or other sorts of entry level work and see where that leads me in the short term.

If anyone has leads, I'd be grateful to hear them!

How this will impact the writing and comics, I'm not sure. I imagine it will take me a little while to actually find a job anyway; during that time I am continuing to submit Sky Pirates of Calypsitania (rejection number ten or so just came in this morning) and working on other ideas, and I still have commissions to get through. Issue five of Rough Housing is kinda stuck in development heck as I fight through script problems, but I am still plugging away at that, too.

In the meantime, I'm also going to refactor my Patreon, as I'm just not able to devote the proper attention to it and I don't want to be misleading people about it.

I'm grateful to have had the past few years "off" to help my parents in their final days and to deal with other various life crises, as well as finishing the Sky Pirates novel and various other projects. But I can't keep coasting forever.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Jeeves Strangle)
I accepted an assignment through a temp agency, which had hours of 8-5, which is pretty standard around here. Unfortunately, [ profile] lythandra had some sort of conflicting need, the exact nature of which I've forgotten, that made it such that there was no way for both of us to be somewhere with the car at 8:00. I tried to call both the client and my supervisor at the temp agency to explain my problem, but could not reach either, and ended up getting in half an hour late.

Not a good showing for my first day on an assignment. I apologized profusely to the client, who said it was okay but who gave me "Tsk!"-ish looks all day. For various reasons that probably made sense in context but which I can't remember now, I didn't get home until nearly 10:00 at night, at which point I pulled out the business card of my supervisor at the temp agency and called again, expecting to reach voicemail so I could leave a message.

But no, instead, the supervisor herself answered, sounding groggy and terse. She explained that she had just got back from a trip to Venice and that she was exhausted and what the hell was I doing calling her personal cellphone at 10:00 at night?

Again, I apologized, but I was a bit peeved at this. What the hell was she doing putting her personal cellphone number as the primary contact number on her business card, and then acting like I was the jerk? However, I maintained my professional demeanor and explained that every temp agency I'd worked for in the past wanted a report on the first day of an assignment and particularly one in which something of note (such as being half an hour late) had happened. I then started to explain that due to schedule conflicts and the vagaries of D.C. area traffic–

That's when the music started, and she began singing. No, really!

Her: Caught with a flat? Well, how 'bout that.
Now baby, don't you panic.
But it's not all right
to call me up late at night
I'm not some Satanic mechanic!

Me: "Are you... singing 'Sweet Transvestite' at me?"

Her: "I just got back from Venice, and I don't mean to be a menace
But honey, let this be the end.
If you call me at home
you'll soon be all alone
You're fired if you try it again!"

Me: "...Right. Well very sorry, won't happen again, good night." *click*

Besides boggling at the peculiarity of it all, the main thing I remember is being impressed by the level of pure snark and that she had karaoke music for "Sweet Transvestite" ready to go for just such an occasion.

The next thing I remember was exiting off the freeway straight onto the concrete steps of a large office complex and wondering how that even happened.

And then I woke up.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Writing)
In an effort to find something that will not only make life worth the trouble, but also pay the bills, I have been going through the Oxford Career Program, which is in turn itself largely a vehicle for the Highlands Ability Battery. Although not "Find a job TODAY!" useful, there have been some interesting results.

My personal style tested as "introvert specialist," which is probably a "no duh" moment for anyone who knows me, but which explains a lot of my work history when you delve more deeply into it. Specialists tend to want to find something they really like and get really, really good at it– and in turn they want their skills and expertise to be recognized. They want to be world class at something and to be acknowledged to be world class at it... which is something that's been bugging me forever. I left the graphic design field because it was so sneered at and moved to web design, in which I was doing largely the same job but getting accolades because I knew how the magic black box of computers worked... until suddenly web design started getting sneered at, too. Well guess what, pointy-haired bosses of the world? Design, good design, is hard work. You can't just sneeze something onto a page and have it be "fine." Even if you don't have the discernment to tell the difference yourself, your clients and customers will, and you'll pay for it.

*ahem* Sorry. Old wounds. Anyway.

Another interesting thing is that I came up with very high scores on all of the "Driving Abilities," and my vocab score was so high that the counselor said she'd never encountered anyone with that high a score before. People in the 99th percentile on vocab tend to literally be "world class," top-of-the-industry CEOs, heads of state, and so on. In short, I have a ton of "natural talent" for almost anything.

Which naturally leads to the question, If I'm so smart, why aren't I rich?

Funny thing about that. Most people have one or two high scores, and the rest are middling or low. That means they have a clear path to success: play to your strengths! Having high scores all around... means that my abilities begin to interfere with each other.

High Idea Productivity means I'm creative and come up with a lot of solutions or approaches to a problem– but high Classification means that I get mired in self-criticism and vapor-lock. (Guilty!) High Concept Organization coupled with super-high Vocabulary naturally points to writer– but high Spatial Relations Theory and Spatial Relations Visualization mean I am only likely to be happy if there's a strong visual component and an actual physical object at the end, thus leading me to feel compelled to draw comics even though writing books would be so much more efficient use of my time.

In short, being potentially-good at everything means that I have trouble concentrating on anything, and that concentration and focus is what is required for the specialist style to thrive.

It also turns out I'm super-bad at Number Memory, which is to say, the rote memorization of stuff. I mean seriously bad. 5% bad. All those years feeling like there was just a loud buzzing noise in my ear while trying to memorize multiplication tables? Not my imagination. Combine that with high Idea Productivity, and you've got somebody who can't sit still while trying to do arithmetic.

Combine super-low Number Memory with high Classification and high Spatial Relations, and you've got somebody who can see the vast patterns of the cosmos at work, but has trouble remembering names, dates, phone numbers, the steps required to get all his clothes on in the right order, and so forth. If something doesn't really matter to me, it falls out of my head.

Basically, the classical absent-minded professor. :-`

Now as fascinating as all this is, it doesn't provide immediate help for my current problem, to wit: I am going broke. I keep paying off things... only to have more things come due. :P I am rapidly burning through my savings, spending at a much higher rate than I did back when I had a "day job," mostly against my will. My insurance is simultaneously much more costly than it was before, and covers less, which means that these ridiculously expensive medical procedures are coming largely straight out of my pocket on top of paying through the nose for the insurance. If this continues much longer, my liquid savings will be gone and retirement will be next.

The actual "trying to come up with potential jobs" part is the next stage of the Oxford Program, and I intend to keep going with it, but I don't have the time to just sit around and wait for this cake to bake. So in the meantime, I have started working towards offering my services to the world as a technical writer and editor. Technical writing isn't particularly "sexy," but it is a well-paying gig with good growth potential. It also fits that "introvert specialist" spot nicely. It doesn't do much for the Spatial Relations problem of needing a concrete product to show at the end, but that's something I can still get through doing the comics on the side.

I don't necessarily think that "tech writer" is the endgame in my career search. Certainly I wouldn't be happy writing software user manuals for the rest of my life. But I do think it's movement in the right direction, and I'm hoping it can be a segue into something better. I could see myself potentially being a research assistant at the Smithsonian or Monterey Aquarium or something like that, for instance, and tech writing could move me that way. The big trick will be to avoid burnout. I don't want a tech writing day job to suck all the passion out of my fiction/comics writing in the meantime!

Wish me luck. :) Also, if you know of any tech writing or editing gigs, a heads-up would be appreciated. ^.^'

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Kero Magic Whupass)
Not gonna lie, I have not been a happy Gneech this past week. Not without reason perhaps, but it doesn't matter. I decided last night that was done.

I am, as Yin the Giant Panda would say, hereby raising my vibration. Light, energy, music, and movement are the order of the day today. I've got a big week ahead of me and I need to be firing on all cylinders for it– besides the fact that I'm just sick of feeling like I'm slogging through mud.

Today I'm actually prepping for tomorrow's D&D, the first game of it we've played in something like three months, and even that has required forcing the schedule a bit so we are all in the same place (even virtually) at the same time. Some of that includes cleaning up the basement, which is currently dark, cold, messy, and full of funk.

Monday, on the other hand, is my surgery. I'm not anxious about the procedure itself, but I am trying to figure out just what I might be able get done while lying in bed for 24 hours afterward. :P It all depends on what condition I'm in, how drugged up I am, and what facilities I might have to work with. My guess is that I will probably do some scripting or book revising.

The rest of the week after that will depend entirely on what condition I'm in post-op, I guess, but I have a lot of things I want to get done.

  • At least one RH page drawn.

  • Graphics/design portfolio page added to

  • Agenda for March

  • More progress on the Oxford program

Buddha's hospital stay, and the surgery costs not covered by my insurance, are taking another month's worth out of our savings, and there's no getting around the fact that at this point, I need to start making money. Honestly, I'm tired of floating in this limbo anyway and want things to start moving! I'm ready for things to change for the better now.

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
I have several projects going on all the time, which is just a side-effect of the creative mind I suppose. However, I have a tendency towards disorganized scattershottery, so I have to prioritize. I have a huge "everything that needs doing" list, but that rapidly becomes huge and and intimidating, especially as the arbitrary due dates go whizzing by and it starts becoming the "Too Much Overdue" list instead.

So taking a leaf out of [ profile] seanan_mcguire's book, I'm going to try to list what's on for the current month instead of everything in the world that needs doing. Besides keeping me from getting overwhelmed, this will also make it easier to track actual progress and focus on the things that need doing right now.

  1. Turn in notice at Starbucks.

  2. Reorganize Patreon.

  3. KarmaKat commish.

  4. Redliox commish.

  5. Inkblitzer commish.

  6. 5+ Rough Housing pages.

  7. Final Sky Pirates second draft revisions.

  8. Clean bedroom.

  9. Taxes! Blugh.

This is not necessarily the order things will be done in, they're all just things I want to accomplish by the end of the month. We'll see how it goes!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
The Universe very kindly shared its opinion re: the Starbucks job, and I considered it very carefully. However, after having discussed it extensively with [ profile] lythandra and looked at the actual numbers involved, I have decided to go with her preference and give my notice at Starbucks.

Quite simply, the job was not returning on the investment. The amount of money I was making wasn't worth the physical punishment I was taking and the opportunity cost of not being able to market my book, pump up the Etsy shop, etc.

Still, it was a valuable exercise and I'm glad I got to do it.

Now, to make the most of my employee discount while I still have one! ;)

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
So, say what you want about 2015, it was better than 2014, and for that I am grateful. In fact, while it's had its rough spots, when I analyze it carefully I find that it was also better than 2012 and 2013, being in fact one of the best years I've had in a long while.

How so? For starters, this is the first year in several in which the number of friends I have at the end is higher than the number of friends I had at the beginning, instead of the other way around. Not only did none of my close friends or family die this year, but I made new friends! And that is worth more than words can express.

2015 was also a very mixed bag news-wise, and I won't pretend it wasn't. But something huge happened this year that I don't want to forget:

It doesn't impact me personally, but it changes the shape of the world for many people I love, and it wasn't something I would have ever guessed would happen in my lifetime. Whenever I start to worry about the state of the nation, I remember that this happened, and hope returns. The U.S.A. can be a great nation, when we summon up the courage.

As for my own personal year, many of my plans were all gang aft agley, and many of the best things that happened were things I didn't expect at all. Looking back at my goals...

  1. Sell the House and Move Already: Did that. Ambivalent about the results. I don't like The Staircase even half as much as I liked The Hobbit Hole, even at half the price and twice the liquidity. But this was always (as Doodles the Great put it) a Rebound House, and we'll be out of here as soon as possible. I'm hoping for spring.

  2. Bring in $13k Income: I haven't run the numbers, so I don't know if I did this or not, but my guess is "not even close" even with the Starbucks job.

  3. Four Issues of Rough Housing: Three and progress. Issue four was disrupted by a novel. More on that below, but issue four is under construction and will start running next week, so this item is still on the boards.

  4. Get Dungeons & Denizens Rolling: Didn't happen. Between Greg and myself both kinda stalling and/or getting caught up in other things, the project has just sorta languished. I'm not sure we wouldn't be better off to just put it to bed and move on to something else.

  5. Continue to Lose Weight: This is a weird one. I got down into the 270's, but have drifted back up to 288.9 as of this morning. But I am slimmer and more toned than I have ever been. Am I gaining muscle mass? I dunno. Unfortunately, last month Weight Watchers ditched their useful and achievable model in order to become just another "live on fumes and exercise 26 hours/day" bullshit plan that is just as doomed to failure as the rest. So I expect I'll be dumping my membership. I'm grateful for what it taught me about which foods were good and which ones were bad, as well as for the progress it helped me make over the past two years, but clearly it's time to move on.

  6. Keep Flossing Them Teeth: This is a pretty set habit for me these days. :)

So what did I achieve that wasn't on my list?

  • Novel and a Half! I wrote the Airship Pirates novel! And in all honesty, I think it's a very good novel. The next step on that front is hunting for publisher/agent. I was planning to devote December to that, but the Starbucks job interfered; once I actually get to work on that, however, I fully expect it to move quickly. The other half novel was the revised outline for the Brigid and Greg novel, which I was making huge progress on until the house sale and move bumped it to the back burner.

  • Reincarnation/Meditation/LoA I don't even know what prompted me to start going down this path, and I've barely scratched the surface of what I've been doing here in my LJ "reincarnation reports," but the experience has been something akin to this:

    Part of the reason I haven't talked about it all is that is it's such an intensely personal experience that I can't really describe it in words that don't utterly fail to get it across. Another part of it is that a lot of it falls squarely into the realm of crackpottery, and I have better things to do with my time than fend off a legion of tiresome snarky and dismissive comments from the usual suspects. So I will just say that over the past few months I've felt happier and more centered than I have at any other time I can remember, and I have been seeing results in the "real world" all around me. I'm very pleased with this development and intend to continue!

So that's the year that was. Although it didn't up being as big a year of going big as I was expecting, it was still a good year and movement in the right direction!

So what are my goals for 2016?

  1. Issues Four and Five, Plus the First Collection. Rough Housing is going to continue, and I think this year it's finally going to come into its own. The first collected volume will carry issues one through four, for which I'm going to go back and do some cleanup of continuity, some revisions of the character design, and some generalized fixing of things.

  2. Publish That Book! I have a terrific novel that only five people have read. This needs fixing. ;)

  3. Finish Another Book! Whether it's Brigid and Greg, a second Sky Pirates book, or even Charlie Providence, we'll see.

  4. Get the Money Sitch Fixed. Some of this is dependent on [ profile] lythandra's new job, which is currently floating just on the other side of a probability wave and should be appearing at any time; but I also want to be bringing in proper money myself and– and this is the important part– I want to be doing it with my real work, the writing and comics, and not with some phony-baloney day job I took just for the cash. My creations are valuable, and it's time they started earning what they're worth!

  5. Move. We need to live in a place we like. This is not negotiable. I'm still California dreaming, but I'm not going to fixate on that. I believe in incremental improvement, so even just being in an apartment/house with enough room and some sunshine will be considered a success. A roomy craftsman rambler in Santa Cruz would be a slam dunk, tho. ;)

  6. Get Back to Conventions! This is something of a sub-set of the money thing. I only worked two conventions this year, AC and MFF, because my plate was so full of other things. (Technically I did attend FC this year, but I always think of FC as being part of the year leading up to it. So, FC was a 2014 thing, even if it did happen in 2015.) But we're already on lock to go to Dragon*Con next year, and of course I'll at least be doing AC and MFF again. I'd like to do AwesomeCon, and I want to find more cons to go to.

  7. Stronger faster slimmer better. I don't get this whole "weight staying the same waistline shrinking" thing, but I'm not going to complain about it. While I'm in considerably better shape than I was last year or the year before, I'm not quite ready for Speedos yet. I want to get there this year.

  8. No more afib. Heart chakra's opened up. My "love being blocked" problem is opening up and going away. If the afib was a physical symptom of that (and I suspect it may have been), hopefully that means I'm done with it as well.

  9. Bernie Sanders 2016! Workin' on it. :)

For the moment at least, I think that covers most of it. If I've forgotten something, please let me know!

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
So. I committed to stay at Starbucks at least through the holidays; I have reached that threshold and I'm having difficulty deciding what to do next. The Starbucks job, although physically punishing, had some cool and fun moments at first, but those have seemed to wander off, leaving me with just work I have to endure, for money which isn't great, but it about five times what I make by Patreon alone.

So here are my options:

  1. Keep going as I am now. This is the least attractive option, as I'm seeing a recurring pattern of "Saturday and Sunday morning" shifts (the worst possible) and finding myself grinding my teeth about it. Working afternoon/evening shifts is less fun that being at home, but still allows me to get things done in the morning. Working morning shifts just kills my whole day. Having a schedule that's all over the map also makes it very difficult to plan for things like, say, heart doctor appointments. :P

  2. Take a hatchet to my schedule. Currently my only restriction is "no Saturday nights" because I blocked that off for gaming (although gaming has been light-to-nil for way too long regardless). I'm thinking of changing it to "No Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, period." This would kill the weekend morning shifts, give me at least one solid weekday always off for doctors etc., and make it relatively easy to schedule for cons (as they tend to be Thursday-Monday affairs, I'd have off three of those days normally anyhow).

  3. Just plain quit. The nuclear option, so to speak. This would return me to being a full time writer/artist, giving me more time to shop that novel around and start the next one, as well as keeping Suburban Jungle up and running. The downside is that in the short term at least it would be a precipitous drop in our income until [ profile] lythandra find her new job. She's got 2/3 of her new IT/security certifications and is talking about looking for a minimum salary of $100k, so, y'know, that'll be good when it comes! But it's not here yet. Do I bet the rest of our savings on that and go back to trying to get my own career into paying mode, or do I stick with the (coffee) grind until it's a done deal?

Blugh. It's a tough choice. I'm going to ponder it today, and meditate on it some tonight, but in the meantime, I'd like the universe (and LiveJournal ;) ) to give me some guidance on the topic.

Thanks! :)

-The Gneech
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
The early parts of the dream are lost to wakefulness. The first part I can remember involves me driving the Forester out of a parking lot surrounded by trees and onto the Reston Parkway, headed towards Fair Lakes. In the passenger seat is a woman that I don't know in reality, but whom dream reality identifies as one of my co-workers from Starbucks. By way of showing her how the bluetooth phone setup works, I call [ profile] hantamouse and [ profile] jamesbarrett.

While we're chatting with them, as I'm nearing where Vale Road and the water tower would be in reality, I spot a small blimp, burning furiously, coming in for an emergency landing in a park (that isn't actually there). After the appropriate "Holy crap!" I hang up on Lee and Jamie, pull into a park across the street (roughly where the entrance to Penderwood is in reality), and call 911 via said bluetooth connection.

911 rings. And rings. And rings. I'm just about to give up on it, tell my Starbucks co-worker to tell them what's happening if and when they pick up, and run to the blimp to try to help, when 911 answers.

Them: "What is your location?"

Me: "I'm on Reston Parkway between Fair Oaks and the Navy school. There's an airship on fire!"

Them: "Our computer shows that you are not on Reston Parkway, but actually parked near it." [1]

Me: "Well yeah, I'm not actually on Reston Parkway. But there's an airship on fire here. Send a fire engine!"

Them: "Please state your location as being near Reston Parkway, or move to Reston Parkway."

Me: "..."

On the grounds that people are probably dying while this nonsense is going on I get out of the car and rush to the blimp, only to find that it's not burning any more. It turns out it wasn't really a blimp so much as a blimp-shaped hot air balloon, and the entire thing was roughly the size of a Winnebago. Its passengers were a vacationing family of two parents, a teenage daughter, and a near- or early-teen son, who have carried the gondola into a gazebo [2] and are in the process of moving what's left of the envelope into the same.

All of them look rattled, but aside from the son having black smears around his eyes like makeup in some cheesy old movie, none of them seem injured or worse for wear. I ask if everyone is all right, and the son says, "Well we're not doing that again!" but that's about all the reaction I get.

I cross back over to my car to tell the 911 dispatch that everybody from the "burning airship" is okay, assuming that my Starbucks co-worker is still arguing with them about where the car is. However, co-worker is nowhere to be found and 911 has put me on hold. Just then I receive an incoming call: some person who keeps trying to wheedle me into being an editor for some project I'm totally not interested in is calling me. I tell them that I'm dealing with an emergency, to which they respond that they just called to tell me that there is a new chapter on Dropbox. My only answer is, "Yay?"

That's when the cats meowing for their breakfast woke me up. Sounds like it was only going to go downhill from there anyway.

-The Gneech [3]

[1] It doesn't strike my dream-brain as the slightest bit unusual that they'd have a computer that shows where my car is. My first thought is that when I called 911, my car GPS or phone GPS transmitted the location in case I was unable to communicate, which struck me as a very useful and prudent feature, even if it is part of a hideous police state of intrusive and endless surveillance. Which we do actually live in, in real life. My dream brain does want to know, however, "If you know where I am, why are you wasting my time asking me?"

[2] "Gondola into a gazebo" is fun to write.

[3] Analysis? I don't have much. Crashing and burning airships figure largely into my book manuscript, and of course I have been the guy on the other end of the line telling people there's a new draft up, so I might be projecting my own insecurities there. Starbucks co-worker has a lot of possible meanings, but is probably a reflection on the job itself rather than any person at it. 911 and attendant bureaucracy was probably inspired by real world current events more than anything else.
the_gneech: (Mysterious Beard)
Yesterday and today I read Brian Weiss's book, Many Lives, Many Masters, which is basically a history of how he got involved in the field of past life/reincarnation study. It was interesting, but didn't really give me a lot of insights I hadn't already come to.

This afternoon I tried to do a regression meditation, only to be thwarted by needy cats and a severe attack of grumpiness, the kind of "zero to enraged" anger that afflicted my dad every time he cooked dinner and that comes to me when I really, really need a nap.

So I punted on that session until nap and dinner had been acquired. When we came home from dinner, I tried again to go through the meditation session. This time was more successful, but it was still a fairly rough one.

Visualizing a healing color barely worked at all, although I did manage to get a tactile sensation like being under warm running water, such as in a shower. Calling up a childhood memory brought up a girl I'd had a sort of proto-relationship with around the ages of 9-10, and a specific memory of being with her on the Metro riding downtown for a visit to the Smithsonian. In many ways, this girl was much like [ profile] lythandra, almost suspiciously so– right down to being a Star Wars and roleplaying geek named Laurie.

When Dr. Weiss asked what the significance of the memory was, I had an easy answer: the specific memory was one of the first times I realized we had a strong connection and very close friendship. As for why it was important, well, I eventually destroyed that relationship with an act of extreme pettiness that I never really understood the reason for myself (unless it's some bit of karmic residue from previous incarnations), and I have always felt very guilty about it. I imagine Laurie W. is still out there, somewhere, and I have occasionally thought about trying to look her up and apologize for being such an ass, but I can't think of any way to go about it that wouldn't just be a giant awkward mess.

From there we went on to the in utero memory, and when prompted to explore for feelings, I was overcome with a wave of profound but unfocused sadness, which I identified as actually being "psychic residue" so to speak from my mother. According to my sister, my mom used to suffer from acute depression, and if she was in the midst of that while carrying me, it would make a lot of sense that I simply inherited it. When the time came to re-experience birth, I did get a physical sensation compatible with being upside down and/or on my back, followed by a feeling as if I was being suspended in mid-air by my shoulders and chest.

I had a difficult time coming up with any imagery for a garden or door to a past life, other than getting a very brief glimpse of a teenage girl with long, very straight hair. But once "through" the door I got a fairly strong image of some kind of a sauna or hot spring, with a wooden slat floor that had a hole in the middle for some kind of heated rock and a lot of moisture underneath. There was a middle-aged man in 1950s style glasses, with a towel wrapped around his waist in the sauna, and I eventually identified him as being Japanese.

The images shifted into a very cartoony mode at this point, and I think my mind was starting to mix images from Avatar: The Last Airbender in, specifically the guy pictured here, for reasons that make sense only to my subconscious. My conscious mind broke in here to argue that Avatar's Earth Kingdom was more like Han Dynasty China than 1950s Japan, and the whole thread of my thoughts began to unravel.

When Dr. Weiss prompted me to move forward to the end of that life, I remember that there was a definite scene with some kind of significance, but it was very fleeting and I have lost it in between the time it came to me, and the time I got to my keyboard to write about it.

At that point, the meditation came to an end, and I was "back," feeling vaguely frustrated, vaguely ashamed of 10-year-old me's behavior, and vaguely sad. I am now simply trying to process, learn from it, and let go. I may do a bit of gratitude meditation before going to bed, to try to bring my mood up a bit before I sleep.

Three Good Things For Today

  1. Payday! Finally. :)

  2. Red Lobster, to celebrate [ profile] lythandra and my anniversary (which is actually Saturday)

  3. Chatted a bit (via DMs) with fantasy author J.M. Frey, who seems like a very nice person

  4. BONUS COOL THING: [ profile] sirfox texted me pics of his halloween costume, which is cool :)

Three Goals for Tomorrow

  1. Write up my recent realization on why I haven't been doing any art lately

  2. Get to the end of my book's second draft

  3. Have some downtime

-The Gneech

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