31 January 2010

Just like livin' in paradise.

Another weekend completes its long day's journey into night, and all I can say to that is "one down, fifteen to go, and in the metaphorical football game I'm one W closer to the playoffs."

Sometimes I allow myself the indulgence of just naked unadulterated daydreaming (the daydreaming's naked, not me.  Unless you're cute, available, and don't mind a squinty-eyed introvert.  Then you can rip my clothes off and everything.  Ahem...where was I?  Right.  Fantasyland.  Where there are tons of cute girls wanting my dumb white ass.)

Then again, half the fun of daydreaming is that I get to be rich and influential with my multiple master's degrees and super high-paying jobs and jet-set lifestyle and girl in every town and damn if it ain't my motivation right about now.  The thing that's jumped out at me the most over the past two months since my marriage went kablooey due to my rapidly changing values system and that of my now ex-wife is just how much the life I left behind in 2003 was waiting for me and all I had to do was pick it up and blow the dust off it.  Freedom feels good.

The fun part? No unicorns required (I'm going to beat that trope to and beyond death.)  Just goal-setting, a little dreaming, a lot of hard work, and an indomitable spirit guaranteed to laugh off even the most catastrophic of apparent setbacks.

28 January 2010

Clinical brain death made easy.

Some quick takes from the first week of school:

- I may be too old for them, but hot damn, are there ever some beautiful 18/19/20-year-old girls around here!

- My current schedule includes six classes, study groups for a couple of them, homework, trying to launch a radio station online, trying not to get my friends to phone in missing persons reports on me, writing my online stuff and venting for the sake of my sanity, and doing all of the above with a raging constant case of insomnia and the hope, however faint, that I don't die of a heart attack before it's all paying off for me.

- Books were much cheaper this semester.  Knowing people who have taken the classes I'm in and who are willing to let me have their copy of the book is a fine way to cut costs!  Instead of spending a month's rent, I spend...almost a month's rent.

- Did I mention the cute girls?

25 January 2010

Up next on Food Network: 1,000 Recipes for Unicorn.

Third in a series:

I love Facebook sometimes.  OK, I love Facebook most of the time.  I'll shamelessly admit this.  Not only is it leaps and bounds better than Twitter as a content delivery platform (wait, I can go to 420 characters, post links, and interact with my friends and followers in ways that Twitter just doesn't make possible?  Really?), it also leads to stuff like the events of the last couple months.

To wit: Last semester there was a girl in one of my classes on whom I developed one hell of a crush (yes, even while I was still married, but there's a reason I didn't act on it then.)  Under ordinary circumstances, the semester would've come and gone, I never would've seen her again, and that would be that, another cute girl to be forgotten about in as much time as it took me to catch the eye of another one.

Enter Facebook.  I "friended" her, and through the wonders of Facebook's chat feature (and the comments section on her posts and mine), I come to find out she's single...and lo and behold, enter the unicorn from last week.  Still, I suspect my well-rusted-out "talking to girls" abilities should probably get a coat of polish.

See, while flirting with her, I suggested that spending a day in my life would be something she'd enjoy.  Said she: "I dunno, I might think that was scary."  To which I replied, "Well, it's an adventure you wouldn't soon forget.  Offer's on the table if you want it."

Mind you, at the time I was talking to some other friends live via Skype, and their response to the running commentary I gave of the events as they unfolded was "Oh, that poor girl.  You're going to blow her mind."

You'd think I'd have figured out by now that "an adventure you won't soon forget", coming from me, is high-octane nightmare fuel!  I hope I didn't traumatize the poor girl---she's sweeter than diabetes, cuter than a basket full of kittens...in other words, exactly the kind of girl that, per last week's commentary, I absolutely develop monster crushes on at the drop of a hat---and by "monster crush" I mean some sort of equivalent of those things they put cars in at the junkyard!

Thing is, a day spent following me around as I go about the more interesting parts of my life is...well, it's certainly not something one soon forgets!

Transcendant triumph.

OK, so there's nothing triumphant exactly about simply continuing to exist, but with a single turn of the calendar to Monday morning I have gone from almost depressingly idle (not to say I don't love video games, but...) to a renewed sense of purpose.

Some highlights from Day 1 of spring semester:

- I broke a record for "fastest time to a teacher saying 'Class Dismissed...not so fast there, Fox.'  My Core Humanities 203 (US History) professor, the same teacher I had for CH202 (Modern European History) last semester, wanted to talk about my work on the final exam, a 4,000-word magnum opus I turned in on the last day of class.  He became the I-lost-count-how-many person to tell me that "you're in the wrong major, you should be a writer."  Said I: "I'm not smart enough to write for a living, and majoring in the humanities and taking classes beyond these simple core-overview classes would only out me as an ignorant fool who's way out of his depth trying to operate on the same level as real intellectuals.  For all my so-called talent at writing, I'm actually much better at accounting and finance."  The professor's response was to fire back at me claiming intellectual laziness on my part.  That's as may be, but I still contend I am not that sharp, merely a fortunate beneficiary of having my extremely limited intellect be well-suited to the tasks I ask of it.  Call me a genius or any other sort of compliment in that vein and I'm likely to think you've got me confused for someone else.

- Answering the question of "what did you do over winter break" leads to interesting replies when the bulk of it is "trimmed some financial deadweight from my life and finalized my divorce."  At least people laughed when I told the story!

- I'm beginning to think that the bulk of the accomplishments I ring up to my name on these day-night doubleheader days on Mondays and Wednesdays will primarily be via the video games I've got installed on this laptop...at least when I don't have a paper to write.  This being the introductory phase of all six of my classes, it becomes quite clear that having three hours to kill every other day will be an up-and-down experience.

- I took one look at the syllabus for SOC 205, including the requirements outlined in the research paper assignment (due later this semester), and my first thought was "Oh, shit."  If I get anything better than a B-minus in that class I will be thrilled.  My chances of maintaining a 4.0 just bade me farewell and hopped on a bus out of town.

20 January 2010

Eating the leftovers: Unicorn soup and sandwiches.

(School starts next week. For now, I'm just indulging some dead mental pets.)

During the brief denouement of my marriage, after the divorce papers were filed but before my ex-wife moved out of the house, I said the following to her:

"Don't worry about me.  I already know how this story's going to end, I'd been thinking about it a few months ago when I knew damn well our marriage wasn't going to last.  I'm going to meet a girl at school.  She's going to share my geeked-out love of finance, the tax code, and all the other stuff that flies completely over your head whenever I try to talk about it with you.  We're going to share ambitions, get along really well, and now that I don't have a marriage to complicate matters, that girl and I will be able to live happily ever after...you know, that happy state I thought I was going to get from you.  To be quite honest, I'm kind of glad to have the freedom to pursue it.  It would've been messy if I met a girl like that and realized I'd married the wrong woman.  You know how moral and loyal I am.  I either would've felt like the biggest piece of shit alive for going for it or I would've passed up on the chance at true happiness to stay with someone who we both know---obviously, considering the circumstances---wouldn't have made me anywhere near as content in life.  And the girl and I are going to settle into a nice house in the suburbs, maybe even my old hometown, have swell kids, and live that life you seem so desperate to want to avoid.  So by all means, run your ass back to Canada and your welfare mom and brain-dead sisters and have a nice life.  At least our life together was fun while it lasted."

I've already made a couple of friends at school.  Being the smart guy in the back of the room has been good to me.  I sit in the back for two reasons: one, because that's where the electrical outlets are and I keep my laptop on unless the teacher explicitly tells me not to; two, because it lends itself perfectly to participation in class discussions.  If I have to raise my voice so the teacher can hear me, that means everyone else in the room hears me as well.  This approach tends to draw some attention, and it likewise tends toward people noticing that I've got something to say and asking me if either I'll study with/tutor them or if I just want to talk about whatever's on their mind.

There's only one semester left before I get my associate's degree.  Starting in the fall of this year I'll be at UNR (University of Nevada, Reno---go Wolf Pack!) and taking classes specifically aimed at my dual-major of accounting and finance.  This includes Accounting 401, 402, and 403, collectively known as "Intermediate Accounting", said by my CPA friends (of whom I've a few) to be a sorting algorithm all but guaranteed to break hearts and break brains.  I fully intend to ace all three sections on the first try and will take it as a challenge to my intellect and work ethic to be the star student.

This is where my little story from the first section of this essay comes in.  Already I've had young women (quite attractive ones, even!) come to me for study help in classes far easier than Intermediate Accounting looks to be.  I know enough about body language (I have been around the block a time or two, y'know) to know that I could probably have dated at least one or two of them had I been in a position to ask.  I likewise have ample reason to believe that this pattern will continue; besides joining some of the same students from fall in continuation classes in the spring, my schedule is liberally peppered with classes in which I should be able to flex my intellectual muscle in a way sufficiently public to continue to draw that kind of positive attention.

I'm not in the least bit concerned about "settling down" again.  It's still too soon since the last time, after all; I quite enjoy my freedom and I'm in no mood to go through that before I'm completely done with school, which won't be until 2012 at the earliest.  But I'm not an island, and I do thrive on companionship in appropriate measure, especially with interesting people, and double-especially with interesting people who happen to be attractive young women with goals and aspirations remarkably similar to mine.

I believe firmly that 2010 will make the shortlist of "best years of my life" along with 1999 and 2004.  What did those two years have in common?  My life was designed and built in each to be a situation where I could call my own shots, determine the pace and frequency at which I interacted with people apart from my basic responsibilities, and took life the way a hitter in a batting cage takes pitches.  You'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but two ill-considered long-term relationships submarined my very sense of self-worth.  One's a fluke.  Two's a coincidence.  Three?  Three's a trend, and I've no plans to make a trend out of relationship-inflicted spinning of my own wheels.  Monday's Opening Day.  I've got my bat and glove.  It's a great day for baseball.  Let's play two.

18 January 2010

Eating the unicorn.

'Tis said that an active fantasy life is a portal to escapism and a nice little acceptable break from reality for people.  It keeps us sane during the hard times and keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously during the good times.  Never has this been more on display than in recent weeks.

By allowing myself the luxury of keeping real-life girls safely tucked away in my "if only" state of mind, the same recess by which I either vented natural masculine energies or "cheated in spirit" during my married years, it keeps me from succumbing to the temptation to get a girlfriend just to have a warm body around and not be alone...and in the process lets me stay blissfully single at a time in my life when I really need to be single in order to keep proper focus on my goals.

By way of example, there's a girl who works at a convenience store up the street at which I'm a regular customer.  She's young (but not TOO young---stop looking at me like that), short, sandy blonde, too busty for her frame, in other words EXACTLY the kind of girl who inspires the most pornographic parts of my imagination into a massive fit of "come to Butt-head".  There's something very Jim Morrison "hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name" about a girl like that, y'know?  But I'm not ready for a girl in my life, not since the divorce was still only a month ago, much less having the audacity to ask a girl who sees dozens of people on every work shift to go on a date with a guy about whom the only thing she knows is that I live in the neighborhood and buy a lot of Gatorade.  Anyone who thinks that's a recipe for happily-ever-after has seen too many movies.

So I'm left to occasionally collide with her world, putting her astoundingly attractive self firmly in the place in my head that pulls characters for the night's dreams, which always star me as a heroic adventurer type, kind of an odd cross between Casanova, Robin Hood, and some sort of Japanese video game character gone horribly wrong.  It's a nice placeholder until I meet the real girl of my dreams.

16 January 2010

Big money! Big prizes! I love it!

Nothing makes me happier than the sight of a large check made out in my name.  Between the scholarships, the student loans, and last year's leftovers, I officially have enough money to survive clean through the summer (and considering next year's financial aid package, all the way through the middle of 2011) even in the worst-case scenario of me not being able to find any part-time or summer work this year.

What this means in practice?  Elementary, dear Watson.  It means I can devote 100% of my mental energy to trying to do something I haven't done since 1986-87 (fourth grade): Get straight A's for an entire academic year.  I'm going into the academic advisor's office on Tuesday bright and early to try and get into a traditional lecture math class so I don't have to take it online (the traditional lecture classes were full when I registered after testing earlier this month).  Beyond that?  A week from Monday, at 1100 hours, it's the opening pitch of a new season for me.  And unlike in 1987, I'm looking forward to going back to school after Christmas break!

12 January 2010

Fun With Branding.

Y'know, for all my disdain for marketing, I sure do dabble in enough of it, don't I?  I'm the world's only one-man conglomerate, so pay attention.

During the first quarter of 2010 I'm going to be phasing out the MonsterDog brand and replacing it with Mystery Ship Radio.  Why "radio"?  I have plans for the brand that involve content-delivery through podcasts and other voice-delivery systems, plus "Mystery Ship", an homage to the old Blues Image song "Ride Captain Ride", was my original social-media brand during my much younger days.  Just trust me, it makes sense, even if I'm going to eventually have to pay someone a license fee for it.  Not like "Monster Dog" is any better because apparently the Oakley Sunglasses people had a line with that name before I started using it on my own.

Most people aren't really going to notice (this blog will still be "CPA By Forty", for example), but readers on Slate, Twitter, and ESPN.com will find a phase-in process that will start this Thursday with the newest edition of TL;DR Prudence.  People who know me from my gaming stuff will still be seeing the SimuLord brand name (my oldest continually operating brand, in use on video game-related sites and, somewhat amusingly, on Skype since I chose my Skype username to communicate with gamer friends first).

This is all part of a reordering of things so that the major compartments of my online presence will make more sense.  I predict a grand total of maybe eight people will notice or care...and that's probably counting quite high.  TL;DR is a brand in itself by now, so I hardly think people will note that the username on the post is different.

08 January 2010

Getting down to brass...tax.

As reported elsewhere (as in, on Facebook, and you should all be my Facebook friends), my divorce became final, official, legal, ding-dong the motherfucking witch is dead FINAL on December 30, 2009.  This means I get to file my 2009 taxes as Single, much to my benefit:

- My pathetically small "earned income" (from a couple months as a tax preparer for Jackson Hewitt---bad company, don't do business with them!) is so low that even without kids I'm going to get a chunk of the Earned Income Credit.  Couple hundred bucks, in fact.  This is what happens when you agree to let your wife support you during your school years then she yanks the rug out from under you.

- Thanks to the Obama administration, there are refundable (read: in excess of taxes actually withheld and paid) credits for education expenses.  I haven't looked at the form, but with my tuition expenses running up toward a couple thousand dollars, I'm probably eligible for a fair-sized chunk of the proceeds to come back as a tax credit.  (edit: from the looks of it, 40% of tuition and fees paid.  So about $600 or so.)

- Not only that, but what little I had withheld from those paychecks is coming straight back because my income exclusive of what the ex-wife brought in is below the standard deduction, making my AGI on line 38 of the 1040 exactly...well, nothing.

I figure there's a sweet tax refund in my not-too-distant future.  As well, when I do my application for student financial aid for the 2010-11 academic year?  I get to use 2009's income on the FAFSA form.  As far as they're concerned, I'm a low-income case with severe financial need.  I'll probably be eligible for the Pell Grant at least...although as a white male without any kids, I won't be able to get any of the more esoteric "diversity" scholarships, and I can't document any of my Native heritage (and, as I'm descended from French-Canadian fur trappers, it's a mortal lock that there are more than a few Micmac girls up my dad's side of the family tree, but nobody ever admitted to having taken one as a baby-momma in those days).

Still, between the "poverty" (purely a result of fortuitious timing of my marriage ending, mind) and the commitment the Obama administration (I voted for the guy, it's nice to see I'll get something out of it besides a crushing national debt) has made to education during this economic depression, all of a sudden what had the potential to be a complete financial disaster now turns to merely being a minor financial inconvenience.

I've got my monthly expenses so low that people wonder how the hell I do it---before I buy food, my expenses (rent + Internet + bus fare + electricity and heating/cooling) average less than $800 a month, and my food budget continues to shrink as I adjust to the reality of having to fend for myself.  If I keep this up, I'll be able to live completely on my own for less than a thousand bucks monthly and still maintain a decent standard of living (as the delicious cheap meals I make for under $5 a day continue to fill me up and satisfy me.)

Not saying I'm going to live like a 21-year-old (and make no mistake, this is exactly the standard of living I maintained my first trip though college in 1998-2000) forever or even for very long.  All it'll take is a part-time job at 15 hours a week, even at minimum wage, and all of a sudden I'm turning a profit and using the excess to save a little or entertain the occasional date for a night of socialization and smiles.

Some may say I'm one cheap bastard, and they're probably right (although my dad DID marry my mom before I was born, so "bastard" ain't quite it, but "cheap" I'll cop to with no fuss), but how many folks try desperately and futilely to save money and never quite master it?  I'm very proud of my remarkably high standard of living in spite of what look on the surface to be dire economic circumstances; in fact, it forms the basis of my five-year plan after college to save money aggressively, pay off my student loans, and put myself in position to either start a family or retire at a remarkably young age considering how late I got into the high-paying job market game.  CPA by Forty?  How about Independently Wealthy By Fifty?  It might take a few years of high five-figure salaries and low five-figure budgets, but if I've proven anything in the 14 years I've been living on my own, it's that I know how to keep hold of a buck.

On Humility, False and Real

I'm not sure I understand the fine art of being humble.  I could quote Barack Obama here and say "my flaw is that I'm a bit too awesome", but that's not what I mean.  It's more about the line between avoiding narcissism and letting oneself drift into low self-esteem and not taking proper credit for one's accomplishments.

I don't like to boast of my victories (well, not TOO often, anyway.  Usually right after they happen I'm more than happy to pump my fist and thump my chest a little.)  I bristle at being called "smart" or really at any positive descriptor (other than "funny"; I so greatly enjoy making others smile and laugh that I'm glad to know I've succeeded.)  I insist up and down that any accomplishments I've made academically and professionally have been either via the beneficence of others or by downright dumb luck.

The trouble with all of the above?  I've never met anyone who believes a word of it.  I've been simultaneously blessed and cursed with the ability to make things look idiot-simple even when they're not, and the relative lack of effort I have to put in to get results compared to others makes some folks resentful and others convinced that I see life as nothing but a joke, largely due to my tendency to crack wise during a process because I'd otherwise get too bored to see it through to completion.

It's not easy making things look easy!  Besides the sense people get that I don't work hard, there's also the expectation that comes with it.  I get a little tired of being held to higher standards for the same pay and loaded down with busywork so I'll "look like I'm working" (actual quote from a former boss of mine).  Arguments that "I put out as much or more work than my peers, so stop loading me down unless you want to pay extra for it" just get me labeled as a malcontent, and it's way too obvious when I'm slacking off to draw out the length of time it takes to get something done, so that's a non-starter.  And when I try a different tack and try to act like I'm not as smart as my results would indicate?  Well, there's the "false modesty" brush ready to tar me again.

I genuinely don't understand how other people can struggle with some things.  Ever seen Good Will Hunting?  Yeah, well, I've kind of lost count of how many times I've been compared to the title character.  And not a one of those comparisons have ever come from anyone who truly understood the ramifications of what they were trying to say or the point they were making to me.  Sometimes I can't help but wonder if anyone who's ever expressed any interest in my thoughts at any given moment wasn't just taking a look at me and thinking "I'm gonna hitch my wagon to this guy, because when he gets it together he's gonna lead us all to the fuckin' Promised Land."

Well, guess what.  I'm in my thirties, got a failed marriage, a littered job history, and a lot of burned bridges behind me.  Nobody believes that Matt Damon shit anymore.  The irony?  I'm finally free, after 32 years, to be myself.  Nobody in their right mind would hitch their fortunes to my talents and abilities right now, which puts me in the ultimate position of being able to call my own shots without worrying about any damn armchair quarterbacks trying to lecture me on where they think my "promising life ahead of me" ought to go.  I'm finally old enough that outward displays of humility work.

And if you've read all of the above and can't figure it out?  You're in good company.  I wasn't writing this for you.  I'm not sure I was writing it for myself either.  It's all just brain spew.  I promise a return to insightful, intelligent commentary next gods-damned time.

The Fox in the Wolf Pack.

For my next trick, I'm getting everything in order so that I may continue my education at the University of Nevada, Reno this fall (why stick around when my ex-wife gave me a Get Out Of Nevada Free card when she divorced me?  Elementary, dear Data---resident tuition is dirt cheap here, while moving would cost a lot of money I don't have.  Plus, all my networking contacts are locally-based, which carries more weight in Reno than it would if I moved back to Boston.  All in good time, friends.  All in good time.  And by that I mean "in 2012 when I've got two bachelor's degrees in accounting and finance and I'm looking for grad-school options in Massachusetts."

Applying for scholarships is part of this---the efforts at cash-grab should be interesting (especially considering my taxable income's going to be squarely in "that guy's poorer than dirt" territory courtesy of a well-timed divorce).  Financial aid of the more traditional (read: expensive) variety will play a role as well, but if I play my cards right I might not go flat broke in the meantime.  Refundable tax credits?  Thank you, Dear Leader---nice to know some of the money going down the rabbit hole is going down MY rabbit hole!  I might net more in tax credits than I ever paid in taxes!  Gods bless America.

I'm also considering UNR's honors program; getting those spiffy Latin honorifics to put on my resumé, especially in two concentrations (three if I can convince UNR's academic advisors to let me take a big pile of economics courses as well, and I challenge anyone to look at my 4.0 business-core GPA after this six-course semester and say "more would be too much for him" about me) in order to take maximum advantage of these coming economic improvements, if not in Nevada (where I don't plan on sticking around) than in New England or the Pacific Northwest or wherever life, love, and adventure take me.  Honors requires two faculty recommendations from TMCC; let's see, there's my statistics teacher, my accounting teacher, the Associate Dean of Business and Entrepreneurship, my marketing teacher, my teachers from core humanities...two, you say?

Of course, not everything's sunshine and lollipops; my last tetanus shot was in 1998, and this state has immunization requirements, one of which is a tetanus shot within the last ten years.  2010 - 1998 = 12.  Crap.  Gotta go to the county health clinic on Monday and get myself stuck with a needle.  I hate needles!  Thankfully I still have my childhood immunization records (and I got immune to chicken pox the old fashioned way, by contracting a severe case of it in 1987) so it'll only be one needle, but still...

So it looks like everything's coming up aces...and what's more, this week's been so productive it's scary!  I've officially lost count of the number of things I've accomplished.  Good to know I've still got the touch.

06 January 2010

Sneak Preview: Spring Semester 2010.

In an epic oversight, I haven't actually mentioned what classes I'll be taking in this upcoming semester. Let's break this down ESPN style:

Core Humanities 203: US and Nevada Constitution and History.
Required by the Nevada State Board of Regents, it's the US history high school students know and love, but with a twist: the history of the state of Nevada and this state's unique laws, customs, and constitution are part of the curriculum as well.  Instructor is the same one I had for Core Humanities 202.  This is on purpose; I know what happens when I have a teacher who doesn't like my writing style (I almost had to repeat the ninth grade due to nearly failing English), so finding one who can be reliably counted upon to write "Excellent work: A" at the bottom of my turned-in papers is a profound stroke of good fortune.
Predicted grade: A.
Sociology 205: Ethnic Groups in Contemporary Society.
Meeting the "diversity" requirement, I get to experience 16 weeks of white-guilt and laying on the "anyone darker than you are is better than you" with a trowel.  Either this course is going to magically open my eyes to how wonderful the American melting pot is...or I'm going to butt heads with the teacher because I believe so strongly in social and cultural unity as a prerequisite for a successful society.  That viewpoint tends to tar me with the racist brush (especially since its greatest exponent in the media is Glenn Beck).  Back in 1994, my friend Keith wrote a paper on "The Evils of Multiculturalism", in which he laid out the case for everything from the White Australia Policy to English as official language of the United States...and he nearly lost his college scholarships before my mother (who got 3/5 of the school board elected) came to his defense and "how did that happen?  Hmmm..." unified the school district in Keith's favor.  I don't have mommy (mine or anyone else's) to bail my ass out, so it just might come down to me bullshitting just enough in order to survive.
Predicted grade: B-minus.
Accounting 202: Managerial Accounting.
Taking the financial accounting concepts and theory learned in Accounting 201 and putting the student in the shoes of the actual consumer of such information.  The focus is on using financial statement data to make business decisions.  Major resumé fodder course, figures heavily into my major, and I'd damn well better be able to know this stuff considering my career choice.  Fortunately, I'm quite good at my major, having pulled an A last semester.
Predicted grade: A.
Math 126: Pre-Calculus.
I took this in 11th grade.  My skills have deteriorated so far over the last sixteen years that I'm taking it again in college.  I've already taken Statistics, for which this course is a prerequisite; the Economics department waived me into Stat and I got an A in it.  I just have to remember how the hell to do trigonometry.  Shouldn't be TOO hard, should it?  I've done really well in math classes throughout my life.  This should be child's play.
Predicted grade: A.
Economics 262: Principles of Statistics II.
Last semester, I wrapped up an A in Stat I on November 3 (the equivalent, I suppose, of a football team starting 10-0 and clinching a playoff spot in Week 10.) I have the same instructor for Stat II.  Not much more needs to be said, right?  Probably my easiest course.
Predicted grade: A, wrapped up before Easter.
Information Systems 201: Computer Applications.
From TMCC's catalog: "Advanced topics in spreadsheets, microcomputer-based database management systems and macro-programming."  Spreadsheets?  Easy.  Database management?  Dear gods, do I ever suck at it.  Programming?  I am not a nerd!  I learned in IS101 that these computer classes are harder than they look, and I had to pull an A out of the fire after going into October with a B-minus average.  Oddly, this is exactly the sort of kick in the ass I needed to realize that going into a computer course admitting that I'm a complete dumbass and should pay close attention to the course materials is essential to doing well.  This is the class I'll see as the challenge to be surmounted.  Knowing me, that's a recipe for success...just not a perfect one.
Predicted grade: A-minus.

So let's see.  Four A's, an A-minus, and a B-minus.  That will give me a 3.73 GPA for the semester and a 3.89 overall, keeping me in the mix for that transfer scholarship at UNR next year.  Looks like I'm setting the bar at 3.7 and trying to top it---consider that last May I went on record as saying anything better than a 3.3 (a B+ average) would be an accomplishment!

Classes start on January 25.  I've got the next 18 days to play games, have fun, and otherwise act like the overgrown kid I seem to have become.

04 January 2010

The Anti-Honeymoon.

My ex-wife moved out on December 23.  Previous to that, there was about a two or three week stretch between when she said "I want a divorce" and when she finally left, and of that thirteen days were between the last day of finals (Dec. 10) and the aforementioned final split two days before Christmas.  As I write this, it is Monday morning, January 4.  Short version: It's been almost a month since I tended to any of my major responsibilities.

As such, I find myself in that mental-fog state that usually accompanies a very long vacation, as I've spent the bulk of the last 25 days playing video games all day...and all night...and sleeping in such a way that 25 calendar days may have passed but in terms of "circadian days", that is cycles of being awake and asleep irrespective of the time on the clock, the true number is closer to 18 or 19.  Anyway, my point is that I've been three weeks idle.

Now, when a newly married couple takes a couple of weeks to run off to some tropical paradise and fuck like rabbits and otherwise not have a care in the world, they call that a honeymoon.  When a newly-divorced guy holes up in his apartment in the dead of winter and eats way too many sandwiches from under the heat lamp at the gas station and burritos from the Del Taco a block away, plays Fallout 3, and spends about a grand total of seven hours in the company of other humans (over the course of three separate outings)?  I think "anti-honeymoon" is the only real way to describe that, no?

I will not say video games and junk food are better than sex.  I have a very short list of things that are better than sex, and most of them involve barbecue, which you can't get in Reno (at least not GOOD barbecue like the stuff you can get in the Jesus-and-NASCAR South, except at the Nugget Rib Cookoff Labor Day weekend.)  All the same, I've greatly enjoyed my anti-honeymoon.  For the first time since 2004 (which people in the know are aware I've called "the best year of my life"), I am wholly in control of my daily activities and answer to nobody.  If for this reason alone I am greatly looking forward to 2010.

In June of 2003, after my then-girlfriend of three years packed up her stuff and left in the middle of the night like the Baltimore Colts, my stepfather advised me that I shouldn't be seriously involved with people since I need more personal space than even the most understanding, generous woman could provide (case in point: my recently-deceased marriage).  Indeed, I have achieved much in life during those times when I've been unattached and uncommitted: 1998-99, 2003-04, and...2010 and beyond?  We shall see.