31 December 2009

New Year's Resolution.

First draft of this appeared on Slate's Fray comments section.  I've decided to flesh this out a bit and publish it here.

WHEREAS, I find myself newly single as a result of a rather sudden divorce, and;

WHEREAS, the best year of my life was a direct result of adopting the adventurer/bachelor/free spirit elements of my personality front and center, and;

WHEREAS, 2009 represented a sort of regression to late adolescence and "do-over" for my early twenties anyway thanks to going back to college;

Then so let it be RESOLVED that;

- My life shall come to resemble a Will Ferrell movie, and;

- It shall spawn catchphrases, inside jokes, shameless flirtations with young women way out of my league because what works for Seth Rogen in Judd Apatow flicks may as well work for me, and;

- My comparative older age in this endeavor shall serve as proof, now and for all time, that just because youth is wasted on the young does not mean old dogs can't have a bit of fun as well.

RESOLVED by unanimous 3-0 vote of the Resolution Committee comprised of me and two stuffed animal mascots on my desk this first day of January in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten.

And while I'm on the subject, some more New Year's Resolutions:

WHEREAS, I am taking the concept of "poor college student" to new and unexplored lows, and;

WHEREAS, asceticism is a fine virtue but it ain't much fun and it sure as hell doesn't attract women, and;

WHEREAS, last semester I took five classes, scored five A's, and still managed two or three days a week to fit in a nap in the afternoon, clearly demonstrating life is too easy;

Then so let it be RESOLVED that;

- Immediately following the conclusion of a winter break designed and built to ensure full mental and emotional recovery from the events of the past year and particularly the past month, I shall spend every available moment not spent pursuing the effects of the above resolution in an effort to add any available responsibility and work that may present itself in the course of the year, and;

- That all available proceeds from the above be used to stash an asset pile in order to get a head start paying off student loans when the time comes;

- Excepting monies allocated toward the goals of the second clause of the foregoing and the main goals of the previous resolution.  Those shall be spent in the shameless pursuit of the sort of pleasures that will not present themselves again after this second attempt at college has drawn to a successful conclusion.

RESOLVED by 2-1 vote of the Resolution Committee comprised of me and two stuffed animal mascots on my desk this first day of January in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten.  Let the record show that one of the stuffed beavers dissented on the grounds that free time should be spent playing video games.

24 December 2009

Do the math. Or maybe don't do the math.

Choosing a self-directed learning path when I am absolutely terrible at self-directed learning paths is proving interesting as I try to wrap my brain around the advanced algebraic and trigonometric concepts required in order to successfully gain the seven points on the assessment test needed to test into calculus.  Either I'm an idiot or I just REALLY don't do well when left to my own devices---or maybe I'm just a little too stressed out and shouldn't be beating myself up over it.

In other news, stresses aside, I'd forgotten just how much I enjoy my time alone, and in the time since the unfortunate demise of my marriage it is as though the clock has been turned back to 2004---otherwise known as "the best gods-damned year of my life".  Sure, I don't have the world on a string like I did back then, but 2010 hasn't even started yet.  Toss me a part-time job and some summer work, let me save aggressively, and maybe throw a not-too-serious girlfriend into the mix to keep the ol' social-interaction meter filled and that's all the makings of age 33 turning into a very good place to be in life.  And did I mention the $2500 scholarship for my grades?  All made possible by a series of bizarre quirks of fate and emotion beyond my control.  Any further questions why I'm religious?  Praise the gods.

Coherence isn't in the cards today---my sleep cycle's buggered like a Catholic altar boy in a room full of priests, so you get the unfiltered version like a Lucky Strike to the lungs.

16 December 2009

A moment of self-congratulation.

For those wondering:

Straight A's this semester in all five classes, keeping my cumulative GPA in 24 credits taken so far at a nice, crisp 4.00.  Too bad this isn't The Sims where $1,200 magically appears in the bank account for getting an A.

Got my hands on the book for Math 126 (Pre-Calculus); trying to pass a test so I won't have to take it next semester.  I have to improve on my pre-enrollment test score by seven points (out of 120; I got a 77 on my first attempt and need an 84) in order to be able to take Calculus (Math 176) in the spring.  Since Calculus is a required course for me to transfer with full upper-classman status at UNR (Nevada-Reno, home of the Wolf Pack) next fall, I've got a dog in that fight and it will be the prime focus of my winter break.  The testing center a block from my house is open Dec. 28-31; I hope to get in there on New Year's Eve (two weeks from tomorrow) and pass that test!  If I blow it, well, back to the drawing board as I'll have to take 126 in the spring and hope they offer 176 in the summer (they did last year, but not a lot of students want to try to take a full calculus course in five weeks and I can't say I blame 'em.)

On top of all of the above, I'm probably going to end up taking a part-time job at minimum wage or barely above, since the difference between my financial aid and my living expenses works out to about $400-500 a month, which means I'll be out of money and dead broke in June or July at the rate I'm going...and school doesn't start up again for the fall until August.  In theory I could probably try to get welfare or something, but that would be a dick move on the taxpayer and goes against everything I believe in personally and politically...but if the alternative is ending up homeless...

All things in due consideration, however, I am rocking the lights out around here and truth be told I am quite satisfied with my personal life (even given recent events).  Things will get a lot brighter two or three years down the line---I've just got to continue to survive as I do what I should've done ten years ago and really get my life together in preparation for the bright future I spent ten years wasting and putting off.

13 December 2009

73 men sailed out from the San Francisco Bay...

Followers of my Facebook (what?  You're not following Fox Doucette?  What's wrong with you?) are doubtless puzzling over a reference I made in a recent post: "The Mystery Ship sails again Dec. 23."  Allow me to elaborate because I'm in the mood to tell a few stories.

The original Mystery Ship was an apartment I had in Haverhill, Massachusetts, back in my early twenties.  It was a two-bedroom in a truly dreadful neighborhood that I'd moved into after my first engagement broke off and served as a base for operations for my young twentysomething self to spend about two and a half years on what basically amounted to a vision quest trying to get laid.

With all that space (and with me spending 99% of it in about an eight-foot radius when not entertaining guests---my computer and PlayStation were, then as now, the center of my personal entertainment universe), it lent itself well to taking in roommates, stragglers, and friends who had fallen on hard times.  Any girl who wanted to get away for awhile usually crashed with me, and since I figured that "no sense in lying to anyone", this made for some very interesting social dynamics---what happens when all your paramours know each other and all go bowling together with you?  Maybe Tiger ought to give something like that a try.

The Mystery Ship (and me as captain) was a metaphor for my freedom-loving, commitment-phobic ways.  Said my stepfather, in 2003 after my then-girlfriend left me: "You're probably better off as just a self-contained unit rather than trying to get mixed up with other people."  If I'd heeded his advice, I probably wouldn't have spent the last five years trying to make a marriage work with a girl with whom ultimately I had nothing in common except a ravenous sex drive and an appreciation of watching shit blow up on Mythbusters.

My goal for 2010 and beyond (at least until I meet a girl who will be the mother of my children someday and settle down anew in order to devote myself to the task---let nobody here suggest that I'm looking to be some kind of perpetual-childhood type) is to get out there...meet some people...fuck some women...and remind myself that charm, charisma, and a knack for a good time are virtues that are actually worth something.  I'm sailin' off to history...and I'll figure out where to put into port later.

Ahoy, mateys!  Raise the anchor, it's time to sail.  Soon as the ex-wife gets on that plane to Canada in ten days, it's fair winds and calm seas!

09 December 2009

Dateline: New Year's Day, 2015.

(the following is an exercise in "what if?")

Hard to believe I've been writing this for over five years now.  Back when I started, I was a 31-year-old wannabe know-it-all in an ill-advised marriage and with a life going nowhere so fast you'd have thought "Nowhere" was a stop on the Shinkansen.  Five years of college and a passed CPA exam later, I'm making more money in one year than I used to make in three, I'm back in Boston where I belong, and in a couple months' time I'll be a first-time father at 37 (we've already decided on a name---he'll be David Roger Doucette.  Funny, because my brother gave his firstborn our dad's name for a middle name as well, and I decided I'd do that almost 15 years ago!  Great minds think alike!)  I'll let the wife name kid #2 a couple years from now---she is awesome for honoring my desire to honor the two men who made sure I lived to adulthood---Dave is my stepfather's name.  I love you always, honey.

The crazy thing about all of this is that it is remarkably in lockstep with what I'd have told you five years ago if you'd asked me "where do you see yourself in five years?"  As 2010 dawned I had just divorced (or, more accurately, been divorced by---the decision was hers) my first wife, and although I will always have a place in my heart for her, I have to thank her for forcing me once and for all time to really take a long look at who I was as a person.  I mean, I'd already done so during our marriage (one of the main reasons it broke up---we drifted apart, and the drift accelerated like it had the Starship Enterprise's warp drive on it once I went to college), but it really crystallized for me when I got that finalized divorce decree from the state of Nevada in the mail.

I remember the spring of 2010.  "Poor college student", indeed.  One reason I only weigh 170 today even as I'm pushing forty (besides all the energy expended chasing subway trains) is because I lost so much weight back then.  Not since I was 19 had I really been required to make every cent stretch to its limit---and considering that nasty recession we had during the Obama years (thank you President Romney for putting the brakes on that deficit spending!  Gods bless America!), it wasn't like I had much of a choice in the matter.  I still remember my old buddy Jasper from TMCC saying "dude, you look like you haven't eaten in weeks!  Here, come to this campus event, there's free food!"  The invite's still on the table for you (and everyone else from TMCC and UNR) to come up to "Nouveau Versailles"---the wife's lasagna is out of this world (and my poor mother is still jealous that everyone in the family likes hers at Christmas dinner instead of the one I grew up eating in December...)  Not to get all retro-Seinfeldian (showing my age on that one), but "you have got to see the BAY-BEE!"

Speaking of old friends, my 20th high school reunion's coming up---and just to be different I'll actually think about gracing the old class of '95 with my presence this year.  I mean, the cat's been out of the bag for years that I'm not in fact dead like I told the reunion committee 16 years ago.  I swore I wouldn't come back to New England unless I could return as a conquering hero.  It may have taken a bit longer than I expected, but oddly enough, at 37 my future finally looks as bright as it should have when I was much younger.  Better late than never.

04 December 2009

Burn in hell, Nancy Pelosi.


Go ahead. Click that. But if you're a conservative, a libertarian, or just someone younger than about 45 and thus in line to have your taxes raised to 90% when the bill comes due from China, I'd recommend going and getting lunch first because you're not going to want to eat anything after you read that. (then again, tossing one's cookies is no way to go through life, so...umm...yeah.)

I mean, seriously. TARP money for make-work expand-the-government jobs?! Wasn't the entire promise of the bank bailout last year that it would ward off a Great Depression by keeping the banking system solvent...and oh, by the way, wasn't it just what the doctor ordered as nothing bugs a capitalist more than government regulation and therefore the banks are tripping over themselves to pay it back as quickly as possible, leading to a massive restructuring of the entire financial sector and a move toward "by the grace of the gods, let us NEVER have to do this shit again"?

And you want to use it for a glorified welfare program full of low-paying make-work jobs to make that little number next to the percent sign look prettier?

Look, I'm already voting Republican next year. The Who said it best: "I won't get fooled again", and to be quite honest I'm strongly considering learning to speak German so I can go live over there, where my tax dollars would buy me health care that doesn't suck, the food's better, and people actually value an honest day's work. Better place to raise kids, too...European schools actually teach kids to read, write, and do basic math, which is more than American schools can say for themselves because they're too busy pushing social agendas on the kids, either Christian-extremist in the red states or whatever Commie twaddle they stuff the kids with in blue states.

But seriously. Only San Francisco could consistently send a worthless bag of feces masquerading as a woman like Nancy Pelosi to Congress, and only in America could Stalin with tits become the voice of an entire fucking political party. That's over half of America's political clout right there. Speaking of reasons to move to Germany; plurality in elections! No two-headed dictatorships...Merkel doesn't have the luxury of sycophantic party apparatchiks---she actually has to act the part of building consensus or she'll find herself on the wrong end of a special election. Even Canada understands this, and if there's one thing Americans love, it's belittling Canada (never mind that except for the balls-freezing weather and the lack of good sports other than hockey Canada is in every way superior to the US as a place to live, work, and raise children.)

It's not my vote Nancy Pelosi (or Harry Reid, who actually represents me in the Senate as a fellow Nevadan) is worried about. They both know I'm voting Republican and for all they care I might as well be Glenn Beck---never mind that I voted for Obama last year (even though that was mostly about Sarah Palin, otherwise I'd have voted for McCain). It's the center they have to worry about. It's everybody younger than 45 with even a smidge of foresight.

But man...if ever there were concrete proof that the government should never, EVER be trusted with money, this latest story is it. Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke are, somewhat unsurprisingly since they're Republicans, coming out smelling like roses. Who'd-a thunk?

03 December 2009

Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind.

It's Thursday. I'm in a hallway makin' with the written word. This will be the last time I can say that for another six weeks (at least---depending on if I get the job I've applied for, which will likely have me on a bus after class instead of sitting around like an overgrown teenage slacker!)

Of course, this sort of ending always inspires a bit of reflection, so if I may be indulged, I'll write a bit on Things I've Learned This Semester, but Not In Class:

I've learned that I'm more resourceful and more well-rounded than I ever thought possible. Hitting a home run in an ancient-history class this summer could be seen as a fluke. Hitting another home run in music appreciation could be seen as a coincidence. Hitting the bell on the intellectual strength tester three times? That's a trend.

I've learned that I'm still well able to dig holes for myself...and similarly well able to climb out of them. Failing to take my computer class seriously enough had me worried about my grade, but busting my ass and bringing that grade back from the dead---it's not that I learned all about computers. It's that I learned that adversity brings out the best in me.

I've learned that I picked the right major. This augurs well for future considerations. Supposedly there's a sorting-algorithm class next year that will separate the legitimate CPA candidates from the folks who ought to just go major in marketing. I have been loaded with confidence that I'll be the biggest fish in that particular tank when the time comes.

I've learned that I am more socially adept than I ever previously thought about myself. My capacity in Entrepreneurship Club has developed my networking skills and given me the realization that my charisma is not illusory. Attracting the attention of powerful people in the who's who of the local business community and somehow managing not to totally screw up the contacts is more than I would've expected of myself. The fourth and final of these social misadventures (check the archive for the previous three) is next Thursday, and your humble correspondent will have an angst-filled worry-fest in advance of same.

I've learned that nothing brings out productivity like an intelligent environment. Writing among the study groups and professorial banter of this college hallway has been an incalculable boon and has also brought me the realization that I feed off the energy around me. Sure, it sounds loony New Age in its execution, but feeding off the energy of others is very real and it's ultimately just applied gestalt psychology applied in non-traditional ways. Point of the matter is that I wish I could find a way to bottle this that didn't involve risking a heart attack by moving my writing operations to Starbucks (curse you, caffeine sensitivity!)

And finally, I've learned that all of the above is all well and good, but so help me gods I look forward to my day alone in the house on Friday! Sometimes a guy just has to disconnect his brain and lose himself in a video game.

Finals are next week. Updates during winter break will likely be intermittent.