Wednesday, August 30, 2006

New Jobs, No Jobs...

Vicky is particularly bad at the tooting of her own horn, so let me start off by doing that for her. She got a new job! Yeah! She'll be starting in a couple of weeks, making a bit more than she is now!

... and that's good, because we'll need it. Nope, no such luck for me. I'm still looking. (You can imagine how good I feel for her, though.)

Meanwhile, I found out I've been approved for unemployment benefits, which means I'll be getting about half of my previous salary. Things are looking up, but I wish they'd look up via gainful employment.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Maslow – Kundalini – Ken...

(Hey, I’ll write about the job search when I have good news, okay?!)

This weekend is when it hit me.

I was driving home from San Diego, where I’d spent a lot less time talking about success and failure than I wanted to but plenty of time thinking about it. I was on the freeway and – I reached for my phone and called Vicky.

“Do me a favor and write this down on a piece of paper so I won’t forget,” I told her. She wrote it down.

Kundalini.

Hierarchy of needs.

It was the answer.

I knew it was the answer EVEN THOUGH I had no idea what it meant.

But this is how it works with me – and I’ve learned to accept it. Things come the way they want to come and I’m no one to argue. I’ve long since accepted that I’m more a conduit than a writer.

The thing that hit me, the thing that was the answer… it was everything.

And I’ll tell you now. Oh, I’ll still write the book because, as with all stories, it’s only one small part.

What is success? Why do we fail to recognize success when it happens? I had found the answer to all of that, and more!

So, I suppose I should try to proceed more methodically so it makes some sense, shouldn’t I?

First, I suppose I should explain Kundalini… but, of course, I cannot do that with any real depth or skill…that’s why I’m writing a book and not just a blog entry. Suffice it to say, if you want to know more about Kundalini, there are better sources out there. But I’m still left with having to explain myself… so…

Kundalini is a form of yoga. The word is Sanskrit for “coiled up” and refers to centers in your body that uncoil from bottom to top and the higher up it uncoils, the closer to enlightenment you get. We, in our lives, work our way up these coils as we mature as human beings. Some do this through meditation and study, others aren’t even aware. But it’s a roadmap of sorts, pointing the way to enlightenment.

The Kundalini is divided into chakras. Each chakra illuminates where you are on the path to enlightenment or maturity. Some people would avoid using the word “maturity”; maybe “fulfillment” or “development” is better.

There are six chakras: Root, Sex, Naval, Heart, Throat, and Crown. The first three deal with achieving every day ends – obtaining food, procreation, having possessions. They are animal needs and, sadly, this is how most people busy themselves. Next, is the Heart chakra. This is the beginning of empathy for others. Throat and Crown move towards even higher goals, ending with enlightenment.

Now, I’ve studied Kundalini for years, reading books about it, hearing lectures about it, and it might be the background radiation in my mind that had led me to this new book. But what I didn’t realize is that it isn’t a strictly eastern phenomena, nor that it addresses the subject of success and failure so precisely.

There’s a western component to this, and I realized that it lies in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow was a doctor in the 1950’s, and he theorized that people are motivated by an ascending scale of needs: Physical Survival, Safety, Belonging, Esteem (or, more importantly, Respect), and Actualization. Strangely enough, Maslow was showing the same kind of ascension that the Kundalini practitioners had known for hundreds of years. The scale rose from every day needs (survival and safety), to social needs (love and respect), to even higher goals.

They are both saying, essentially, the same thing in different ways.

This has everything to do with success and failure. It explains why I’ve been so sure that success holds a certain, ethereal component, that it’s not materialistic. Because, if you have food and shelter, even if you’ve found love… there’s something missing. It’s not an eastern or western thing; it transcends that.

That explains the sense of angst that I keep running into when I discuss the concept of success with people. Because, once they start thinking about it, they realize that there’s still something out there they’ve yet to achieve… they just can’t put a name on it.

Because, after all, who thinks about enlightenment these days??? How do you even know that's the next thing you need or want when you're bombarded every day with images and sounds telling you that you can get it at the mall or on Amazon?

The angst I feel about whether or not I’m a success is actually an essential drive, which is intimated in both systems. The key, I think, is perspective. What could essentially be a positive thing, personal evolution (if you will), is turned around (in my mind and that of many others) and we call it “failure”.

Clear as mud? Probably.

But, of course, this gets even more complicated when you start thinking about social evolution and where that is taking us… anyway, I big part of the puzzle was solved. Still have to write it, of course…

Sunday, August 27, 2006

And don't ever say I didn't give you anything...

Okay, granted, I'm currently hooked on WoW but there was once a time when the MechCommander games also had their hooks in me...

Well, it's time to hook up with those games again because they are FREE! (You know, as in FREE!)

Click the links and head on over for some old skool video game funnity!

(And, no, this isn't eye-patch-ware. MS released the code a while back and the software is safely in the pub-dom, so download with a clear conscience.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Second week progress…

None.

Absolutely nothing.

Is it any wonder I’m feeling a bit down?

I have an interview in a couple of hours. It’s a reach but I’m doing it because I’m desperate. The thing is, I applied for this job a month ago, which means there’s about a month turn-around between sending in a resume and getting an interview and considering that most of my applying has been in the last week… well, this could take a while.

And I don’t have a while. On Tuesday, I have a phone interview for unemployment insurance. If I get it, we will be fine for six months. The problem is, I might not. I don’t have a lot on my side.

In the event I don’t get it, I’m going to have to start applying for any job out there. Yep, we’re talking Target. We’re talking gas station, McDonalds – anything. All the time spent building my career as a writer will be shot to hell. It’s a depressing thought. No, that’s to upbeat of a term…

So, rather than sit at home thinking about that, I’m going to San Diego this weekend. I’m bringing Love of Your Life to work on the rewrites.

Let’s hope week three looks better…

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The new book has begun...

There’s this painting of the Buddha. I've seen it a hundred times. In it, he’s holding a fiery sword over his head and he has the most horrific expression. It’s as though he’s ready to chop you in half and take a bite out of your spleen.

I was told once that this aspect of Buddha was meant to break through your ego, whenever your ego got in the way of your life. It’s supposed to be a frightening image, you see? It’s supposed to scare the sense into you. I could intellectualize the concept, particularly because it applies to kundalini yoga and afterlife exercises.

Well, I guess I didn’t realize how much of this was literally true here and now. I know I didn’t. The idea that my ego might be split open while I was still alive and using it didn't exactly appeal to me. And, in the summer of 2006, it wasn’t Buddha holding the blade; it was my own life.

What does this have to do with success or with Plato, for that matter? What can I tell you? It's a book! And it's going to take a few more months (or more) before I even know!

Will he get a cat?...

Turns out that the scientists of the world, a fickle lot to be sure, have demoted Pluto. It's no longer part of the solar system.

My only question is: What will Mickey do now?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Everything is a threat. Everyone is a suspect.

I love how Jon Stewart (et al) helps put all this terror-mongering in PERSPECTIVE.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The book, the interview, the BLAHs…

I’m writing this rather late. If you knew what was going on inside my head right now, you’d understand that “rather late” is becoming the norm.

Any idea I had about keeping my life normal through all of this, of sticking with my same patterns when my main pattern of earning a living has gone so askew, was probably a bit naïve, but there you are.

Before I get into how things are going, let me address something about this book I want to write. I think it’s a misunderstanding I’ve fostered, unnecessarily. The book is intended to be a story about people who are trying to understand what success means to them, while their lives are taking decidedly unsuccessful turns. The story is “I want to achieve that but this is happening to me”, a road picture without an onramp.

I guess I’ve made it sound like some highfalutin book of answers but what is of primary interest to me, what has always been of interest, is the questions. Stories, after all, are questions. Anyone who sees a movie runs into this when they ask, “Why don’t they just…” and then realize that if they did – whatever – there’d be no story.

One thing that I’m sure of right now (which is to say I might not be quite so sure of it later) is that success is inadequately defined, and that’s why we have so many problems with it. I don’t believe that success can be measured in any materialistic way of thinking but, at the same time, I applaud anyone who can be satisfied by that.

So, that’s the book.

I went to a job interview today. It was… well, it wasn’t great. This company was hiring its first copywriter and didn’t quite know how to interview me. They weren’t quite sure what a writer does, except for write. They even gave me a math test to take! So, I gave them my best sales pitch and then they thought it would be fun to have me write something. They found someone who wasn’t doing anything and had me interview her.

So, I did.

She didn’t find it very comfortable. I kept seeing this “Why is this stranger asking me so many questions” look on her face.

But I pressed on.

“The nice thing about this company,” she told me, “is that it’s so big. And you don’t realize that.”

“What do you mean?” I asked her.

So, she told me about how she ran into someone she knew outside of work, someone employed there, when she went to a different department.

“How do you know her outside of work?”

“I know her daughter from school,” she answered.

That was odd. Did she go to school with the daughter? Did she have children who went to the school? I was missing the connection. So, I began asking her about the connection and she was very hesitant to tell me. After all, it was personal information. And we’d never met.

“The thing is, Jaclynn,” I said, “I mean, I know we’ve never met, but I’m wondering how you know her daughter and how you know her. You know?”

No, she didn’t.

“Well, do you have kids who go to school with her daughter? Or is the daughter a friend of yours?”

“No,” she exclaimed, as if I was dense. “I go to church there!”

… okay.

It turned out that the school was a private school at the church Jaclynn attended, but fishing out that material was somewhat akin to asking her how large her vibrator was.

Yeah, it was an interesting afternoon.

Maybe I was too abrupt. But then, things haven’t been easy and I feel like I’m wasting a lot of time, trying to find a job. This awful depression has settled over me like a storm and I’m getting tired of these low clouds. I feel like I’ve let Vicky down – I hate that. On top of that, I keep getting rejection letters from agents.

Is it any wonder I’m pondering the concept of success just now?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Forms… just lying under there…

As with most things, this book is coming at me in a very subconscious way. I’m a very subconscious person; I’m just open to that.

So, I’m driving down the street today and it hits me – another way in which this book is far bigger than I originally imagined. Why? Well, you see…

I’m driving along and I suddenly hear Vicky say, “You can’t define success any way you want. Everyone knows what success is.”

Did I mention she wasn’t in the car?

This sets off the spark.

Does everyone know what success is?

“Of course.” she says. “Think about the underlying forms.”

Underlying forms.

I suppose I should mention right now that this isn’t really the right term. I mean, it is but it isn’t…

Moving on - - -

When she said this, it brought to mind Plato’s theory of forms. The idea is that all chairs represent a single, perfect chair, or that all humans represent a perfect, ideal human. And it occurred to me that this was just so much hogwash.

Wait just a second, I thought… I’m calling Plato’s theories hogwash?

Yes, but they are!

I couldn’t argue them before. After all, the theory is pretty self-evident. Think about chairs. A chair with two legs is obviously inferior to one with three, which is also inferior to one with four. The movement towards a perfect chair is self-evident.

What makes it hogwash?

Back to the chair. Take a newborn baby. Put him in a chair or have him look at a chair. Will she know that the one with three legs is, in any way, inferior to that with four? Of course, not! The whole in Plato’s theory is that it is wholly subjective, requiring a posteriori information. In other words, you need information on which to base that judgement. For something to truly be an underlying form, it would have to a priori, recognizable without any previous information.

Now, to success: Can there be an ideal success? A success better than other successes? Of course, not! Trying to wedge that concept into an ideal state, forces you to realize how open for interpretation it is!

Where the term “underlying form” came from, I don’t know. Again… subconscious. But it applies swimmingly well to a concept so far beneath our daily reference that it escapes rational thought.

It was when I hit the term “rational” that my spine began to bristle.

I mean, I’ve already defined “success” as non-materialistic in nature. Now, I am broadening the definition to include irrational.

There was a lot more swimming through my head but, by the time I got home, this was all I had and, reading it now, I’d say it’s enough…

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Ground Truth

That pesky "truth" just keeps getting out...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A thought about Vicky...

(You may need to pardon the spelling in this entry... I'm still drunk...)

Sometimes I think that being married to an artist is more than Vicky signed on for...

So, I'm starting work on this new book, and one thing that's happening is that it's possessing my mind like crazy. I would use the word "occupying" but "possessing" is probably more appropriate.

Jeff came by tonight and we all sat around and talked. I started drinking, something I haven't really done since I lost my job. One thing that happens when I drink is that I start talking. Since my mind is so preoccupied with this new book, everything I see or hear or think about has this direct relation with the new book.

And so, I talk about it. And on. And on.

For Vicky, it must get tiring.

But, for me, it's the way my mind makes the connections between what is in the real world and what is in the book.

Here's what's in it right now: Buddha, before enlightenment. Think about that for just one second. Jesus was the son of God. Mohammed was divinely inspired. Buddha, on the other hand, was just this guy who figured things out. Before he did that... well, things had to be kind of frustrating.

The book is about this longing for accomplishment. And I can't help but feel that Buddha must have felt that - before he reached enlightenment.

I'm not saying I'm anywhere near close - in fact, I'm not. But I can feel a connection with the sublime one before he reached that point... and I keep thinking about it. And, as I drank tonight, it pounded at my head... and I kept talking.

Mind you, as I got really drunk, it was kind of a gobbledy-gook...

And that brings me back to Vicky. What a chore she must have. Being married to me must be... irritating. One minute, I'm talking about multi-dimensional physics... and I write a book about it. Then, I'm talking about the epiphany that comes with suicide... and I write a book about going to the Grand Canyon. Now, I'm stuck in what I can only call the philosophy of accomplishment, or the lack of it, or "middle-aged angst"... and this leads me to my new book.

And Vicky has to keep in mind that, normally, I'm an okay guy. I'm just stuck in this new book.

She's really pretty incredible. She encourages me and cheers me on - and she's probably wondering where the hell I am.

I am an incredibly lucky man.

Thanks, Vic. This drunken slob - this out of work, drunken cacophany of a human - really loves you.

Friday, August 18, 2006

One week…

(No Barenaked Ladies references! No Barenaked Ladies references!)

In about an hour, it will have been one week since I lost my job. And what a hell of a week it’s been.

I’ve been to a couple of job interviews… they haven’t gone that well…

I’ve started one book – stopped – and started another.

I haven’t been sleeping too well.

And, oddly enough, through all of this, I’m feeling okay with things – not great, but okay. I know that I’m incredibly lucky and feel fortunate to have a wife who loves me so much and is so supportive.

I’m not down, yet. And that’s what counts.

Let’s just hope this doesn’t turn into one of those things where I find out just what it takes to get me there.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

So, just what was I talking about?…


I sat down with Vicky last night. As my co-pilot on this lifetime excursion, I figured she should have a say in things, too.

I said, “I could write a book that would sell or I could write this other thing.”

And then, I told her what the “other thing” was, and we talked it over quite a bit. Then, I took a notepad and a vodka and soda out on the patio and started taking notes…

How can you find inner peace, thinking you’re a failure?

Your life belongs to you – the outcome is your fault. (Basic existentialism)

Why do we fail to recognize our accomplishments when they happen?

It’s not about how the world sees you, or the expectations the world has placed upon you. It’s about how you see yourself and expectations you have placed upon yourself.

Something ineffable defines success. What is it?

Defining ourselves by our place in the world is inherently dissatisfying. (Thus the failure of materialism.)

We have a point inside of us that defines success. It is inside. It is not a part of the world.

What did the Buddha say about enlightenment? Once you’re enlightened, you realize that time is meaningless and that you’ve always been, albeit unknowingly, enlightened, striving towards enlightenment. If this is true, isn’t success a similar state? Have I always been successful but not seen it? Is that “too easy” an answer?

Those who do not live an authentic life cannot see this.

If every rock will one day be a person, and every tree – if enlightenment is sacred and the movement towards enlightenment is sacred, then every life is sacred. Every potentiality is sacred. Isn’t this angst, this drive, this striving for success also sacred?

Angst is sacred. Acceptance and peace are sacred. If a=c and b=c, then a=b… They are the same.

Actually, I wrote a whole lot more than this. This is just a summary. But I began to see that I was on to something much bigger than I had imagined, some amalgamation of existential and Buddhist thinking. But to claim that satisfaction and dissatisfaction were equal (i.e. 1 = -1) was obviously veering off the path somewhat.

That said, I think it’s safe to say I have my next book.

Which is good.

Because Vicky thinks I should write it, too.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Writing… old skool…

This is how it used to be. I’d start a book, get bored with it, start another, get bored with it, start another, get… well, you see the pattern, don’t you?

That’s the way I used to work. And it didn’t really pay off in the end, which is to say it didn’t result in too many finished novels. (Seven novels finished in 16 years = over two years per novel.)

After Vicky came along, that changed greatly. I’ve finished five novels in the last year and a half. (Five novels in 18 months = over three months per novel… wow!)

I knew that had to end sometime.

Um, it did.

See, here’s the thing. I don’t know how many of you heard about this (I don’t think I posted it) but the idea for the next book was something I was calling “My Side – The Movie”… no, not as the real title, just the concept. The idea was what if someone made a movie about a very personal blog, forcing the blogger to relive all of the events. I thought it would make a good, and possibly funny, idea.

But then, there were so many questions I had to resolve. Writing books is a lot about resolving issues and many of those issues have to be worked out in your head before you being writing.

And I wanted to write… NOW!… Right now! (You know, because I have the time!)

So, waiting was out of the question.

I sat down and asked myself, “Ken, what do you want to write more than anything else?” The answer came quickly, if disappointingly: A Philosophical Novel. If you know me, you know that philosophy is an important component in my life. It’s something I can do.

My first philosophical novel, Revelations, helped me resolve the apparent disparity between Christianity and Christians, the religion that teaches love and tolerance and the masses of people who profess to believe those teaching who are so filled with hate. My second philosophical novel, Vampire Society, helped me deal with the problems of materialism and how it is used to replace what we need, rather than fulfill our needs. I wanted to do that again, to say something meaningful, to address some fundamental issue in my life and so many others…

But it’s not marketable.

So, I began writing a new horror novel.

And it was pretty good. In fact, I realized this morning that it was a lot like many other horror novels/stories/movies I’ve read/heard/seen…

And that killed it.

Yes, I can write a horror novel just like many others – and it will be just as marketable as many others – but is that what I really want to do? Write like other people?

It killed it.

Because I realized that, more than anything, I want to write what’s important to my heart. I believe writing can make a difference, stories can make a difference, and I want to do that.

I started thinking about all the things I haven’t accomplished in my life and how, being out of work, I find myself back on square one. This gap, this unnamable something, burned away inside of me. What does it mean to accomplish something? What is the driving force that compels us away from peace and acceptance in the hope of attaining… what?

So, I put the horror novel away.

I haven’t started the next thing.

Or have I?

I need to reconcile myself. I need to find out where I am.

… Many of us feel this terrible regret at having reached a certain age (in my case, middle age) with nothing to show for it. Some of us ignore it and accept our lot. What do they know? What do they not know?

Maybe I have started something.

I’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Is it art?

I found this while surfing the great web wave and found it intriguing

Me: Girl Takes Picture of Herself...

Let me know if you see the blonde wig and sunglasses around 1 1/2 minutes.

Monday, August 14, 2006

My first day jobless…

It’s been a busier day than I thought it would be… and that’s a good thing!

One of the worst things about this weekend was the fact that I could do so little. I revised my resume (creating one for marketing writing and one for technical writing), drafted corresponding cover letters, and applied, well, EVERYWHERE! But, after that, it was a lot of waiting.

Last night, I hardly slept.

Vicky was swell. She has a lot of faith in me and is sure things will be fine. We talked about the difference between theory and application. In school, I excelled in theoretical fields (such as philosophy), whereas Vicky was better with application (lab classes, etc.). So, I told her how I have been meditating hard on Buddhist teachings after losing my job but can’t seem to find the inner peace it should provide. Vicky, not aware of the theory behind the Buddhist teachings has, meanwhile, found that peace without even thinking about it. (Again, is it any wonder why I love her?)

After spending most of the weekend applying to every job online, I had very little I could do this morning as far as job searching. I worked on some of the rewrites for the new book but, by and large, I was BORED.

I went to Sean’s and we went out for a cheap breakfast… BORING!

Thankfully, the calls started pouring in once I got home. By the end of the day, I had three interviews lined up: one next week, one on Thursday and one tomorrow! That helped put my mind a bit more at ease.

Mind you, I’m still out of work but things are looking a bit brighter… if just a bit.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Smoking out, Freaking out, and Pigging out…

Last night, I went over to hang out with Sean… and get all neurotic about losing my job. A true friend – and enabler – Sean picked me up a pack of smokes. He figured that I could use them, considering the situation I find myself in.

For the past day, I’ve been doing nothing but worrying. We could lose the house. We could lose everything – if I don’t find a job! Vicky, meanwhile, has been wonderful and far more supportive than I rightly deserve. Thank you, Vic!

So, we headed back to Sean’s today for a barbeque he threw and, on the way, Vicky pretty much broke. In no uncertain terms, she told me to stop freaking out! Now, I’d left the cigarettes at Sean’s so, when we got there, I grabbed one and lit up (far away from Vicky, of course), which calmed me down enough to stop bitching and moaning about things. And then, we commenced with the eating. Sean lives for these things; he loves throwing shindigs on the grill… along with some burgers and dogs. God only knew where my next meal was coming from, so I figured I should eat…

I realized that one of my problems is that, beyond being an habitual worrier, I’m the kind of guy who needs to have a purpose. Without a job, I’m corked champagne, filled with bubbles of neurosis. Maybe I should start on a new book… maybe I should work harder on selling what I got… ugh!…

After I’d totally stuffed myself, he suggested we play some catch. Sean is also a sadist… the bastard.

And so, I’m dealing… and that’s day one…

Stuff I forgot…

After I wrote yesterday’s blog, I realized that I’d actually left some things out!

So, here’s just one to belabor the point.

A few weeks ago, Tim called all of us into a meeting. Considering that we were all salaried, the content of the meeting was rather surprising. “You work from either 7:30-4:30 or 8:00 – 5:00 every day. You take lunch from 12:00 – 1:00. And you get two, 15 minute breaks, one from 9:45 – 10:00 and another from 3:00 – 3:15. No exceptions.”

I might have mentioned that there were originally four people in the department. One of them, our web guy, recently became a father of his first child, and scheduling was never exactly accurate. Coming in at exactly 8:00am was nearly impossible for him. Before, you see, he could have just worked later to make up the time – but not so now. So, Tim would call him into his office every day and they’d yell back and forth.

He quit just over a week later. And he grew so tired of Tim’s bullshit that he left before his two weeks were up… actually two days later.

I’m surprised I forgot this story because it makes an important point: that it wasn’t just me. And I don’t want to forget that as I start blaming myself.

Tim was a complete ass who thought very highly of himself. He was a member of the beer of the month club and, every month, he would be mailed a 12-pack of beer to work. Why to work? Anyway, as a show of what a swell guy he was, he’d give us ONE beer every month. Gee, what a swell guy.

After a few months, I couldn’t take it. With the shit he was giving me, I hated this pretend show of friendship. So, I simply stored them in my desk as I looked for another job.

So, I can imagine him emptying my desk yesterday, finding a six-pack of beer! (Mmmmm…. Warm, old beer….)

Last night, I had a hell of a time getting to sleep. One scene kept playing through my head. Tim came to my desk and said, “Ken, will you come with me?” I knew immediately what was happening; I was going to be written up – the first step towards them firing me. They’d never written me up. In fact, only two months ago, I received a very good review. Tim and I walked to Janet’s office. Janet was the HR lady. Tim pointed out a chair for me to sit in and I sat down. Tim sat beside me. Janet sat across from us. She hadn’t said anything. Then, Tim said, “We’re letting you go for poor performance. Janet’s got your packet.” Janet picked up an envelope. “This has your check and everything about COBRA and Unemployment Insurance.” She handed me the envelope. “We want you out right away,” Tim said.

I looked at them both. “Don’t I even get a box to put my stuff in?”

The whole meeting took less than five minutes. No questions. No explanations.

Over and over, it repeated in my mind. I actually had to sit up and meditate on the OM to quiet myself enough to sleep. I think that’s probably going to be the case for a while.

Friday, August 11, 2006

This is how it begins…

Back in March, after Vicky and I came back from Hawaii, my boss, Tim, told me that I took an extra day off… but I hadn’t.

This was when things started to go downhill… and they ended up where they are now – at the bottom of a ravine. Broken. Smashed.

When I received my review in June, it was filled with high praise. Great. And a raise. Great great. Okay. Me likey! But there was an undercurrent of warning. You see, Tim was a massive control freak. I knew that. But there was more. I learned that this week.

So, he told me I should do things more his way and that I should kiss up more. Okay, okay. Fine. After all, I had my raise, right?

But then, I didn’t kiss up enough.

And this new guy, we’ll call him “Carl”… his real name was Carl… when he started, I didn’t kiss up enough. He had the owner’s ear and said he wanted his own writer. The way it was explained to me, this meant I was O-U-T.

But wait? Why? What about that great review?

Sorry.

And then, things got worse. When I’d started, I was told that it was a low-pressure environment and that people wouldn’t be on my back.

Not quite.

At the start of July, I was told to stop using the company phone and (shortly thereafter) to stop using my phone, too. Now, I received a couple of calls per day from Vicky (each lasting about five minutes) but, honestly, that’s far from excessive. Then, I was told that I couldn’t use the Internet – HELLO! I’M A WRITER! I NEED TO DO RESEARCH.

Sorry.

Then, I was told I had to be able to report where any of my work was at any time.

Then, they increased my workload to where I was working on 20 projects at a time.

Then, they increased my workload to where I was working on 30 projects at a time.

Then, they increased my workload to where I was working on 40 projects at a time. Each project was stacked individually in my cube. I’d be tested daily as to the status of each project. I was quizzed on terminology and, without being able to do any research, grilled when I came up short.

On Tuesday, I heard they were interviewing a couple of people for the writer position.

Today, I was fired.

I needed to write all of this down because now, only a couple of hours later, I’m already starting to blame myself. But I know it wasn’t entirely my fault. Could I have kissed ass better? Probably. But I don’t think I want a job that I couldn’t keep because I didn’t go in deep enough, anyway.

So, that’s where I am. My job now is to find another job. And I plan to do that job damned well!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Love of Your Life...

I've just finished the first draft of Love of Your Life.

I'm all misty-eyed. There's no greater mix of sadness and relief and joy than when I finish a novel.

And that makes an even dozen. Wow.

Time to start on those rewrites...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Every day I write the book…

It’s been a while since I checked in last. I guess I should let you know that I’ll be finishing Love of Your Life any day now.

It looks like I won’t be going to any auditions because conditions at my place of employment have worsened and they’re messing with my schedule at will. Screwy schedules don’t work when you’re in theater and that means another postponement in my returning to the stage.

Meanwhile, the writing continues.

As I near the end of Love, my subconscious is already working on an idea for the next book. If you can imagine an old-style telephone in a lightening storm, with the world coming to a violent end every now and then… well, it’s sort of like that. And, every time around, the idea is refined more and more.

It started like this:

A Wizard in Los Angeles

This was an idea about a guy who loses his wife, his job, and his home. He ends up homeless, on the street, and without hope until he meets a bum he mistakes as some kind of wizard. He thinks the bum can work some kind of magic to return him to –


CRASH!

It was like seeing a hammer come through a closed window – the idea was gone.

Anyway, I didn’t want to write another love story. What’s the point of it, anyway? It’s just one after another – nothing special.

And then:

MY SIDE: The Movie!

This idea was about a guy who wrote a blog during the breakup of his marriage (very much like my old blog). Years later, after he’s married and happy again, or so he thinks, he is approached by a producer who wants to make the experiences in his blog into a movie. This stirs up old memories that –

CRASH!

Shattered. And good riddance. Hey, it might sound like a great idea but I’ve been down that road before, you know? I mean, I wrote the blog!

So, where was my mind taking me? What was it trying to say? And, if it couldn’t get its message straight, could it at least allow me to write a nice, gory, horror story?

But then, I had this dream last night. Dreams are very powerful sometimes and this was no different. It was simple. I was standing in my bedroom when, I opened the door – and I suddenly stood in Rosa’s house. There, she sat, watching television. She didn’t notice me. I don’t remember if the dream was lucid or just seemed so but I remember hoping she wouldn’t notice as I sat down across from her. And I just shared her space.

That was it.

So, I spent today pondering that. What was it trying to tell me?

Even as I thought about it, as I tried to find some other answer – I knew I had the answer already. I just hated what it was.

And I knew I couldn’t write what wanted to be written. I love Vicky very much and I don’t want to hurt her, even with an idea.

Here’s the idea, and why I don’t think I should go down this road: We never really get over anyone. We may think we do. In reality, though, what we do is come to our senses and realize that we need to find a relationship that’s more healthy – more healthy than thinking about the person we lost.

I don’t know. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with that. But it seems to me to be a bit too much like enjoying cake you get to keep…

Maybe I’ll just stick to my video games…

Monday, August 07, 2006

When good news isn’t…

Okay. So, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy, busy, and…. oh, yeah – busy.

But this story popped up about a week ago and it was almost enough to make me lose my lunch… then, I remembered it was in my lunchbox, so…

But for Pat Robertson to “believe in” global warming, well, that’s about enough to make me buy an SUV! I mean, the minute he says he believes something the credibility is severely shot to hell!

He’s got millions of certifiably insane people following him. Do we sensible, rational folk want to be on the same side as the crazy people??? Do we?

Of course, this is probably just a way for him to get 700 Club viewers to donate to save pasty, white evangelicals from not having enough ice in their lemonade. I'm sure once winter comes around, he'll declare that God has told him that it will now be cooler...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A superhero for 2006...

It's Pinata-Man!

"Never fear! It's me, Pinata-Man - OW! Stop it! Ouch! Cut it out! Oh! Stop hitting me!!!"

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Jed's Other Poem (Beautiful Ground)

I'm so glad I found this again! This video came VERY randomly during one long night of random link clicking. After seeing this, I knew I had to hear more. Now, I'm a certified Grandaddy addict... and the band has broken up... of course...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Revenge of the Pasta…

Yep, another week has passed us by and it was time, once again, for me to cook. (Jenn’s out of town, so she’ll be chiming in with my recipe after she gets back.) This week, it was… what was the name?… oh, right, Pasta Weirda… or something.

Seriously, this was one strange pasta dish. But, I made it anyway, in the interests of discovery and science… and because Vicky told me it was my turn to cook.

Here’s the recipe:

MAMACELLO PASTA

1 lb Spaghetti or Linguini3
T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 pinches Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 C Dry white wine
2 Lemons zest
1 Lemon juiced
1/2 C Heavy Cream
Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 C Fresh Basil, Shredded
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese for topping pasta… or whatever it is you use

Now, these were some weird ingredients. I mean, lemon juice and shredded basil??? That’s not the kind of food they make where I come from. And, it got worse. I started reading the directions (original copies can be seen on Jenn’s site) and it made no sense. Add the garlic to the oil and then set it aside for FIVE MINUTES? It was looking more like a joke than a recipe! So, I did what any red-blooded, American male would do… I bitched about it until Vicky called Jenn.

Between the two of us, we agreed it didn’t make much sense. After all, how long did you leave the garlic in the oil before removing it? Did you want to brown it? And why five minutes? Jenn suggested that the intent was to infuse the oil with garlic and red pepper flavor. I could get behind that. Okay!

So, here are your revised directions.

I put a HUGE HEAP of finely chopped garlic in the olive oil (we’re talking 6-8 cloves!), along with twice the red pepper flakes. That soaked up the oil so I poured in even mor e oil! You can do that.

As that cooked over medium-low heat, with my sexy assistant stirring (that would be Vicky), I started the pasta. And I went with angel hair pasta because… well, we have a ton.

After the garlic and pepper infused the oil, I poured in easily ½ cup of dry, white wine. (We went with a Sauvignon Blanc… and I got saucy on the rest of the bottle!) Vicky had been kind enough to zest the lemons for me and we through that in, too.

We probably didn’t let it boil for the whole three minutes before throwing in the cream, lemon juice, salt, and – yes – a whole ladle of pasta water. It sounds pretty gross but, there you have it – and we did it!

Then, I drained the pasta. After a few minutes letting the concoction reduce a bit, I threw in the basil, parsley, and some cheese. Then, we let that wilt a little.

Finally, I threw all the pasta in the pan and let that absorb, soak up, and generally love on all the sauce.

And, we ate.

Final verdict: Good. Very light and lemony. It would pair beautifully with some lightly grilled chicken or the rest of a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. (Hic!)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Fun with your face...

My Heritage is a site that's in beta right now. You really have to try it out. It's really excellent at blowing smoke deep into the darkest recesses of your ass. It takes a picture of a person's face and finds the picture that you'll think is most flattering.

For instance, I tried both of my headshots and it said I looked like Christian Slater and Leo DiCaprio.

... I'LL TAKE IT!

Give it a spin!

Next, I'm going to look for a website that tells me I'm filthy rich!