20 February 2010

Saturday Realm Collision

I don't rightly recall signing up for manic depression.

This week has been one of those situations where everything either goes exceptionally well or exceptionally poorly, with no middle ground and the good (and bad) subject to change with neither warning nor notice.  Some of my projects have gone perfectly.  Got an A on my first accounting project without even having to deliver a presentation, thanks to the teacher exempting five students for reasons too complicated to go into in the space given here.  Got 10 out of 10 on a pop quiz in sociology (and I mean "pop quiz".  Unannounced, pencils up, books and notes away.  I think three people dropped the class immediately afterward.)  My sci-fi radio show project is going better than I could possibly have imagined and one of our writers is hard at work trying to land us some office space that I won't have to pay for except perhaps in sweat equity (playing roadie to the theater company that owns the space in exchange for the weekly access to it).  And, of course, there are the feminine delights of my girlfriend at the end of the hard work.

On the other hand, my stress level has been through the roof out of pure necessity.  No matter what anyone says, being one's own boss is still "having a job", and it doesn't get any easier calling the shots---if anything, calling one's own shots multiplies the pressure level because instead of complaining about some damn fool corporate executive issuing orders whenever something goes wrong, guess what?  I am the damn fool corporate executive!  I issued the orders!  So when things go totally FUBAR (as they did with one of my other projects, but thankfully---to steal a line from Monty Python---I got better), I have to ask "who's the idiot?" to my mirror.

This was a nice short week.  Thanks to Presidents Day and a fortuitously timed chance meeting in a hallway saving me the trouble of having to schedule a fix-it meeting, my normal 55 hours a week became only 38.  I used to think 38 hours of work in a four-day workweek was a lot.  Now?  I'm grateful to the gods because it was so easy!

But what am I doing writing here?  There's a warm, soft girl about two feet behind me.  'Tis time for me to enjoy my one day off a week.

17 February 2010

The BS Overflow Disaster and Other Fiction

I swear it was the nachos.

Saturday morning I woke up single.  Stopped by Del Taco in the early afternoon because a day off without nachos is hardly a day off at all.  Somewhere in the dark corners of the Internet I met a girl.  Eleven hours of conversation, an overnight Valentine's date at her place that turned into a Monday morning to remember at mine, and a lot of divine intervention later, I've fallen in love so far so fast that I have to take a minute to stop and look around because the old saying "you just know" applies here.

She read my blog.  Followed my Facebook.  Googled my name and everything.  Knows that between work and school I'm on the hook for 55-60 hours a week.  Even spent 11 hours talking to me.  And not only did she not run away, she actually fell in love with me.

I learned a long time ago not to question a good thing when it happens.  So I think I'm gonna roll with this whole "new love" thing and see where it leads.

12 February 2010

One little, two little, three little insanities.

I have fallen in love with Fridays.  Most days of the week are either astoundingly stressful (Mondays and Wednesdays), too intellectually challenging to allow me to unhook my brain for long enough to contemplate anything other than the three classes I go to on those days (Tuesdays and Thursdays, where Information Systems, Accounting, and Statistics are on the menu in one five-hour marathon of the mind), too anarchic (Saturdays, my one true day off, when I spend the bulk of it gaming and ignoring the rest of the world), or my catch-up day when my time is spoken for in a different way each week (Sunday).

Friday?  Let me walk you through it.

I get up at 10:00 in the morning.  Of late, my rule of thumb has been "first person to ask nicely gets access to me between 10 and 3."  This generally means dating (or a reasonable facsimile) with available women, going to someplace fun and doing something I enjoy, or just enjoying the good weather (and the past three Fridays have featured lovely weather in spades.)  Hell, sometimes it just involves flirting with the girl at the convenience store then going to throw bread at ducks.

Four o'clock rolls around and I'm drinking coffee (decaf; I don't want to stay up all night!) and writing fiction with a creative group composed of some people who might just be screwier than I am.  Eventually we're going to put something on the radio.  By the time the meeting ends at six, my creative batteries are fully charged and I'm probably thoroughly astounded as to the good fortune I've had in finding creative people.

Fast-forward through my walk home and I've probably managed to come into some nachos (mmm, nachos) and a lovely beverage, meaning it must be time for boxing.  Watching two guys pummel each other for ten rounds is one of life's unsung pleasures, and if there's a spectacular knockout or two in the process I'm probably bouncier than Tigger on uppers for having watched it.

After that?  Video games!  And not in the anarchic "not sure what I want to play" Saturday style.  I usually have my game picked out during the week and I play it from 9:00 onward.

Yeah.  I love Fridays.  I think Robert Smith might've been on to something singing about them.

10 February 2010

Givin' 'Em The Business I

(first in a new series)

I've been awake since 8:30 this morning.  Exclusive of time in the shower and on the bus, I've been hard at work since 8:30 this morning.  Between the fact that it's Cognitive Dissonance Day (every Monday and Wednesday features a class on white-guilt diversity and one on US History from the white man's perspective back to back, which is about as textbook a definition as you can find for cognitive dissonance!) and the fact that due to scheduling constraints I've set up a meeting at 8:15 tonight with my morning show people, adding in my regular 5:30 math class and three mid-day hours on campus working on everything else...well, you can see where things get screwy.  By the time I get home shortly after 9:00 (or perhaps closer to 10) tonight, I will STILL have some homework left to do and won't complete my day's work until almost midnight.  Counting it all up, that's over 15 hours between waking up in the morning and finally getting a minute to breathe and relax.  And the kicker?  I get to do it all again tomorrow.

Just for kicks, I'm going to recount the sum total of my responsibilities here.

- Going to school full time, taking 18 credit hours.  Adding in homework and other on-campus responsibilities this is easily a 40-hour-a-week job.
- Starting a business, including producing and writing two radio shows, over four hours of content every week, and later this spring I'm going to be doing voice work/on-air talent.  At present this constitutes about 20 hours a week.
- Trying to wrangle with bureaucrats in two states so I can get my application completed and approved for the University of Nevada, Reno this fall and continue my education toward my bachelor's degree (and eventually a shiny pair of master's degrees in accounting and finance within the next five years.)
- Keeping myself from going batshit bonkers from all that work and also making sure my bills get paid and food gets purchased so I don't starve to death in the dark.
- Doing all of the above while still trying to sleep at least 6 hours a night.
- And all of this does not count efforts on my part to make more friends, go on dates, and try to fill some of the baser needs of Maslow's hierarchy.

Keep in mind that as recently as the third week of January I had no responsibilities at all.  I had 168 hours a week of "sleep and play video games".  In the three weeks since I've finally started to adjust to the new and improved workload (and for those of you thinking "he's just overcompensating for his divorce", banish that thought from your mind.  I signed up for six classes BEFORE the marriage drama, and the business is something I've always wanted to do and the opportunity came up for me to finally do something about it.)

The only thing that's changed is that I now joke that becoming a CPA is "what I'll do if that whole radio thing doesn't work out."  I'm only half kidding.  But my main goal and thus my first priority is directly related to my field of education.

08 February 2010

So ends a weekend fraught with foolishness.

I had two dates with two different women over the weekend.  One went very well.  One went very poorly.  And by the time Sunday night faded into the wee hours of Monday morning, the first woman had sent me a message to the effect of "that was a great date, but you're not someone I want to be involved with."  The long version's a bit thornier, but most of you following this blog heard the story elsewhere.

What are the lessons to be had here?  Well, I think there are three big ones:
1) I'm at least charismatic enough and resourceful enough to find dates, which is the real meat of the battle when one is trying to find a companion.  Plenty of fish in the sea and all that.

2) I'm too dumb to keep my mouth shut when my natural-born storyteller instincts collide with my encountering situations best kept quiet (as in, there's a woman I quite like but she's been privy to other adventures thanks to her own inquisitive nature and ready access to me.  This is probably not newsworthy.  If it becomes so, forgive me in advance for being evasive about it.)

3) And finally, my relentless confidence coupled with a resolute desire to use the lessons of my failures to better myself...well, if nothing else comes of my life, it will be mighty nice to develop a skill set that I've allowed to lay dormant for far too long.

All this would be easier if I were some kind of machine and not a human being with needs and desires.  Sometimes I curse my very humanity.

04 February 2010

On stress and foolhardy ventures.

Earlier today, somewhere between about three and four in the afternoon, I was sitting on campus playing a video game on the laptop and trying to make sense of a thousand external stimuli that had popped into my life all at once, trying to balance them, sort them, and get my mind to stop obsessing over them.

In the past week, I've interviewed several candidates for various radio projects I'm working on for the bigger Internet radio project, talked to actual local business leaders about my vision, made three new friends, in one of whom I have a budding romantic interest that may or may not pan out after my date this Saturday, done a project with four other members of my accounting class, had a stretch where I went nearly 48 hours without sleep, dug myself into a social hole with a group of people on campus who hitherto have relied on me to be their go-to guy but for whom I can no longer fill that role (and nobody's happy about it), been pushed to and past my limit twice, damn near managed to get my electricity shut off due to a snafu with a bill-payment system and a bank account I'd closed (gotta get that taken care of tomorrow), and ventured perilously close to a nervous breakdown from burnout in the process.

As well, I've managed to realize that there's still a lot of stuff I've got stuck in the corners of my mind that haven't quite sorted themselves out but may as well be live grenades in my brain.

Never before in my life have I been so many places on the emotional spectrum at the same time.  My sense of self was really revealed to me in a way with which I am not entirely comfortable.  All I can do in the meantime is hope that I don't blow it up before I can get it all sorted.  But after Tuesday was (for a variety of reasons) one of the best days I've had in a very long time, Wednesday couldn't possibly have gone any worse.  If my life was the stock market, it would've gone up 700 points on Tuesday and dropped 300 on Wednesday.  Who knows what's going to happen Thursday?

02 February 2010

Social Misadventures IV: Re: Public Cans.

As readers of this blog and interested parties who care enough to ask me about it (and you lurkers who dare fly below my radar, I'm watching you! OK, not really, I don't believe in using tracking features on something not for commercial purposes---it's offensive) know, my life is a wide-open book, a sort of intentional invocation of the Truman Show's core conceit, and I make absolutely no efforts to hide myself from the world at large because frankly, if I'm not to become truly famous, I can at least become a reasonable facsimile on the Internet (at least until 4chan starts sending the mail bombs.)

So what happens when a prospective date looks you up on Google, finds your blog, and reads the Social Misadventures series from late last year in which I confessed my borderline autism to the world?  (and thanks, everyone, one of the big issues I have is social anxiety, so friends and affirmations rock me to my very soul in ways too awesome for words.)  What happens when the charisma that is my soul's very illusion comes right out and says "HEY!  The rabbit's underneath a false bottom, it's a two-headed coin, and your card is the five of clubs" at the very start?  Does the magician's illusion (and I mean that both in terms of reality and fantasy) drive the perceived image?

I ask because previous to this point, the perceived image, the illusion, and the underlying reality have been so intertwined as to exceed on occasion my own capacity to distinguish the three.  But to have everything (at least so far as I have presented it to you, the viewing audience) on display and archived?  Several hazards enter into the picture.

The first is one of honesty.  Anyone who can juggle a series of intentional creations of fantasy for every possible audience in a way contrived to generate maximum effect in each and still maintain enough internal consistency not to bring the entire house of cards crashing down upon them is a far better liar than I am.  This probably bodes well for me; indeed, it probably proves to the satisfaction of a psychiatrist that I am not, in fact, a sociopath.  Selfish bastard ruled by his id more often than not, yes.  Sociopath, no.

The second is one of image.  When the false bottom with the rabbit underneath it is revealed to the viewing audience via a clear polycarbonate table underneath the hat, the expectation of the trick is completely different.  Now it no longer falls to the magician to wow the audience with the illusion; the illusion is no longer interesting (and substitute a more elaborate trick than the rabbit-in-the-hat trick since we all know damn well how it works) and it falls to the magician to come up with a better means to entertain the audience than a simple "hey look, a rabbit."  More on this in a minute.

The third is simply one of convenience for the illusionist.  Some articles of illusion are quite easy to maintain and can be memorized by rote (repeat after me, guys: "No, of course your ass doesn't look fat in that dress!  You look gorgeous!  Now let's go, we have a reservation.")  Others are a waste of time.  I've thankfully been able to steer clear of this one since I've always lived my life in the belief that life is best lived in a way that sounds really awesome when stories are told of it later.  Any bullshit that creeps in is purely a function of the natural inflation of one's glories over time in one's own mind (ten bucks says my fastball wasn't as fast or my curveball as sharp when I was 14 as I claim it was, but it's how I remember it...and I was pretty good.)

But back to the image argument for a minute.  Perhaps the ultimate reason why illusions aren't worth the effort put into them and why using clear polycarbonate tables for magic tricks works so well (q.v. Penn & Teller) is that the trick is no longer the show.  The magician is the show, and in the role of magician I can then turn around and really have to focus on those elements of myself that even if I had nothing but an empty room and a clothed girl I'd never met before, would be able to, by the end of the night, have convinced her not to have sex with me (that is easy once you've been spotted the motive, means, and opportunity of having an attractive girl and a captive audience) but to fall in love and stay in love.  I suspect that my position is stronger for its openness than it would be if I went the beer-commercial approach of dispensing bullshit if only because I can't lean on those tropes as a crutch (unless, of course, I don't want the girl to fall in love but only to fuck, in which case all bets are off and anything plausible is open season.)

In business, there are two types of customer models; either you catch the transient customer and soak him because you don't have to worry about seeing him again (the concept behind how most impulse-driven---like a slot machine in a truck stop---and tourist-trap businesses work) or you build customer relationships based on openness and trust between merchant and consumer.  And since I think all of life is ultimately a metaphor for business (which, after all, is itself merely a distilled form of social interaction for a specific set of circumstances, at least in businesses with a personalized component and client relationship), this only makes sense in the personal application.

What's my point?  I have a date Saturday evening.  She's read my blog and did so before I got the date.  She even said "I agree with your Core Humanities professor".  She knows about the ex-wife.  I don't know quite how far she's gone into my archives, but she'll probably get there in time...and yet she still wants to go on a date with me.  Thinks I'm amazing and everything.  How in the black pits of hell did that happen, and should I be making offerings to the gods?