Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Apologies for a lack of updates, random readers. This week has been taken up with much busy madness due to the Job Hunt I have been undertaking in the last week.

I am about to graduate. Upon graduating I will gain a Bachelors Degree, making me more qualified than over 75% of other US Citizens (according to this). I will also lose my current job, student library lackey at the Engineering Library. This makes me sad, as I rather love this job. My coworkers and boss are a lovely bunch and I’d keep working there if I could, not in the least because I can dick around on the internet while on the clock.

Sadly this is not to be, and in less than a month I will be expelled from academia into the cold, big world, where I must find gainful employment or starve to death/mooch off my parents until they set me on fire.

So here’s a few of my thoughts on hunting for jobs in today’s economy.

1. Job websites = a good thing

Last Tuesday I posted my resume on careerbuilder.com. The next day I got a call from one company asking for an interview, and the day after I got a phone call from a second company. Clearly this website posting idea was a good one. The first company offered me a first and second interview, and even though they weren’t  quite what I was looking for, it got me started. So yeah, post your resume on a job website. All you have to lose is the occasional spam e-mail saying ‘we can hire you for work-at-home job! yes?! give us money first and we’ll hire you long time!!!!111!!!”

2. Shopping for Interview Clothes is hard

It has probably come to the attention of some of you that I am a girl (and if it hasn’t, well now you know). I am female, and have female parts. This is true. However, when it comes to traditional ‘girly’ things, I kind of suck. I’m not much for sparkles and bows, I own a grand total of two skirts which I almost never wear, I wear makeup almost never and I absolutely LOATHE shopping.

So of course, hunting down interview clothes this weekend was an ordeal. My mother, who is a saint for putting up with me, took me to the mall and ran me through the gauntlet of finding a nice pants suit, a few shirts, and new shoes. This took several hours of me sniffling and coughing (as I’m still recovering from the Cold of Doom I picked up last Thursday) as I tried on pants, jackets, shirts (both hideous and boring), and then proceeded to try on half the shoes in the store, most of which didn’t fit my canoe-sized feet (I’m a size 10 US Female. Finding heels for me is hard). This took several hours, and my mother, infinitely patient, rewarded me (despite my sniffling petulance) with quesadillas at Qdoba and going to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that evening.

The moral of the story being, if you hate shopping like I do, try to get it done as fast as you can, and have a reward ready. Then you have a set of work/interview clothes, hopefully without losing your mind in the mall.

Also, my Mum rocks. I’m allowed to say that, even though I’m 23 years old.

3. Cut and Paste job application answers

In the last week I’ve managed to memorize my references, contact information and basic work history. Seriously, I know my boss’s phone number, my former boss’s phone number and the number of my friend and former coworker Sam. I’m not great with numbers, but typing these in over and over again has led them to be lodged in my brain like a bad Christmas Carol. That said, all the information they require you to put on online applications, especially describing past job duties, takes a lot of typing and a lot of time you could spend filling out other applications (or dicking around, whichever).

So I said ‘screw it’ and made use of my two favourite shortcuts on my keyboard: ctrl+c and ctrl+v. Made filling out three practically identical banking job applications that much easier. I highly recommend it.

4. Know what you can and can’t do

Sounds simple enough right? It isn’t.

I have limited job experience. I’ve worked in a library and in food service. That’s it. Now I’m about to expand my options and I need to start considering what kind of jobs I’d not only be capable of, but what jobs I’d actually be able to survive with my sanity intact. Now, I’m open to a lot of things. I thrive on office jobs (I type 70-75 wpm on a bad day), I love to cook (making food service tolerable under certain conditions) and I’m disturbingly good with people (I think this is because I hate them, more on this later). However, there are things I know I cannot do, and the big one is this:

Telemarketing.

Telemarketing and anything to do with extensive use of phones. I HATE talking to people on the phone. Truly loathe it. I hate the awkwardness of stumbling into each other’s sentences, can’t always understand what the person is saying, and overall just feel awkward. I’ll do it for little things, like answering the phone in an office, but spending an inordinate amount of time on the phone talking to a stranger sounds like my special kind of hell.

So when I was offered a job this morning in sales that involved a lot of cold calling, I declined. I know that whether I can be good at it or not, I’d spend my days contemplating stabbing my eyes out with pencils just so I can go home. That doesn’t sound like job satisfaction to me. And if it does to you, then you’re special and I’m going to run away now.

5. Care about Sports, or at least know enough to fake that you do

This one is more regional, but it contributed directly to my getting a second interview on Monday in my opinion, so I figure it’s important to share.

I live in Lincoln, Nebraska. Those of you who know anything about sports, or Lincoln, understand the rabid, undying obsession most Nebraskans have with the UNL college football team, the Cornhuskers, or Huskers. People out here live, breathe, and drink football from August to November, then wake up and repeat this for the bowl game (if there is one), and then yammer about the upcoming season for the other eight months out of the year. It turns downtown into the ninth circle of hell on gamedays for one thing, and turns normal civilized humans into drunken morons.

I don’t really care about football. I’m aware of it’s existence, but I’m not a sports person. I don’t watch Husker games, I don’t track scores online, I don’t really get upset if the team wins or loses.

But I still know the score. I know who won. I know if there was any team or crowd drama.

Why?

Because in this town, employers will talk to you about Husker Football to break the ice.

No. Seriously.

So it’s a good thing I pay attention to my facebook feed and saw that there was serious drama about players quitting, coaches getting in trouble and officials being unfair, because otherwise I would have stared at the nice man who interviewed me on Monday with a blank expression on my face and gone ‘derp’ instead of nodding and saying ‘yes, it’s horrible isn’t it?’

So, whether you’re from around here or another town with obsessive sports fans, it’s good to keep up to date, even if you hate it.

So there’s a few tips from my initial jobhunt experience. Those of you hunting, best of luck to you. Hopefully we will all be successful in finding day-jobs that don’t make us want to jab forks into our eyes. Or anyone else’s. lo

Read Full Post »

Some days it’s rough to write, and this was one day that I anticipated it being as such. As well as being the beginning of Week Two, I had a lot working against me.

I spent an hour of my afternoon lying back in the dentist’s chair having a tooth filled, and since I have such a problem with dental procedures (psychologically: past trauma combined with anxiety, long story) I spent the rest of that time leading up to work resting and spending time with my Dad looking over the family genealogy, his current project and hobby.

I spent work reading through short stories for tomorrow’s fiction class, which left me pretty exhausted. I managed to bang out 1400 or so words after getting done, and I broke 25k (yay! a quarter of the way there!), but for now I’m done despite being a bit behind my daily wordcount. Time to curl up and prepare for tomorrow, which will involve more Freud (ugh), catching up with my wordcount, another trip to the dentist and writing class. Wish me luck!

Read Full Post »

I’ve been meaning to put all this down for a while now, more for the sake of my sanity than any desire to impart wisdom on the subject of writing and being a writer, because this is one of those questions I get a lot, not necessarily from other people, but most certainly from myself:

Why do I write? Why do I want to be a writer?

Now’s my chance to attempt to answer those questions.

For me there’s a semantic difference between ‘writing’ and ‘being a writer’, both of which are rather subjective terms that mean multiple things to multiple people. Here’s what they mean to me:

To write, as well as just being the mechanical action of putting words on paper, is the actual process. It’s taking that something from the nothingness of my mind and turning it into something coherent, into a story. Writing has been my passion, my compulsion, since I was extremely young, I can’t even remember how young. I’ve been making up stories both on paper and in performance since before elementary school. The process and act of writing became and still is my life, and is my purpose if such a thing exists.

How does this differ from being a writer?

Well, there’s the simple definition of being a writer, which is again connected to the act of writing. Millions of people are writers simply because they do just that – they write.

But there’s a difference between being a writer and being a Writer. A novelist. Someone who is published, someone referred to as a ‘professional’. Someone who wakes up every day with no other career or profession than the process of sitting down at their desk, keyboard, typewriter or notebook and creating stories out of ether. Say what you will, there’s a huge difference between a Writer and someone who writes by these definitions.

So there you have it. Those are my definitions.

I describe my writing as a compulsion. I even titled this blog after that fact – I write compulsively, and have been my whole life, even when all I did was fill little notebooks with silly tales directly plagiarized from my favourite books and movies (don’t judge – we all did that before we knew it was wrong, and I’ve long since moved on to making up my own madness). It is something I will always do because if I ever stopped, if ever tried to stop, I would quickly spiral into a creative void, possibly even an uncomfortable kind of insanity.

So that’s my compulsion. Writing isn’t so much what I do as it is what I am. It’s my outlet, my reason to live, my purely selfish, somewhat arrogant belief that I can take something out of nothing and make it work, give it life.

Being a writer? Now that’s my dream.

I’ve worked a few shitty day jobs in my time. I’ve flipped burgers, I’ve dealt with pissy customers, and I’ve spent six straight hours moving heavy books around a library. I’m about to graduate college, to get my BA in English, to become more qualified than a large portion of the American Population.

My plans for post-graduation?

1) find a day-job
2) Write

This is my first step, the first part in actually realizing my dream, in taking my writing and moving forward in my goal to be able to live off of it, to get published and be at least a moderate success.

That’s what I want. I want to wake up every morning and have no obligation other than to sit at my desk and write. No day job to keep paying the bills. I want writing AS my day job. I want, by my own definitions, to be a Writer.

Starting in December, I’ll at last being in the position to actively pursue this. I’ll have a job (I don’t know what job yet, but I’m looking), and I’ll be done with the constant cycle of ‘go to class, do homework, go to bed and start over again’ I’ve been in since I was six years old, for the last 17 years straight.

It’s a terrifying and thrilling prospect. For the first time in my life, my writing can really come first.

Writing is an art as much as putting paint on canvas, as sculpture, as music. Like most artists I have a delightful pile of mental health issues, doubts and insecurities that plague my existence, and unsurprisingly these often contribute to that thing I refer to as the Angry Little Voice in the back of my head.

It happens every time I sit down to write, no matter where I am or whether it’s at my computer or a notebook. I stretch my arms, put my hands to the keyboard, and this little voice drifts into my head:

“Hey, what are you doing? You’re WRITING? Haven’t you had enough of that madness yet? Aren’t you sick of people picking your work apart? Is it really even that good? Hardly! You’re a hack at this! You’re just shoveling crap onto the page and expecting someone to like it. That’s completely pointless. Nobody’s ever going to read enough of this to like it, let along PAY you for it! You’re wasting your time and you know it. Now go fill out grad school applications like a good girl and resign yourself to a wage-slave job to pay off all that debt. You’re better off sticking to this as a hobby.”

He’s a bastard, isn’t he? And he’s there every day, especially this month where I spend each day in a half-crazed writing frenzy along with my NaNoWriMo friends across the world, giving me active discouragement and bile.

I have a lot of real-world support to counter my internal self-deprecation. My parents, while neither of them writes fiction, support my dreams and always wish me the best of luck. My writing buddies, both local and out of state, always give me words of encouragement. Jeff, also a writer, has a lot of faith in my abilities and talents. (Whenever I voice my doubts to him about my ability to be a Writer, he always says ‘But I don’t want you to stop writing…’ with a sad expression on his face. He’s been a tireless advocate for me since before we ever started dating, and I appreciate his encouragement. Thanks Jeff).

But true strength and ability comes from within, so when my within decides to remind me that I completely suck and wouldn’t even be able to hack it writing for a newspaper, it can be rather draining.

This doesn’t stop the why though. It doesn’t stop the compulsion. No matter how many times I get beaten down, be it by my own psyche or the discouragement of academia, I still get up every morning and I still sit down to write (or if I don’t have the time, I still think about writing, talk to my characters, make notes in my notebooks). Maybe I’m a sucker for punishment, but it’s like someone is telling me I have to stop breathing because I’m bad at it: it just doesn’t work that way.

Even if my dream falls through, even if it’s true that my writing isn’t ‘good enough’ to get published, for me to live off of, I have to try. Because I’ve been doing this for a long time, and while I know I’ll never stop writing it seems a shame to keep my stories to myself.

So I’ll write. I’ll write until my hands are destroyed by arthritis and my mind goes out. If I can’t find anyone willing to turn my novels into print books I’ll self-publish. I’ll post stories on the internet. I’ll share it with my friends. I’ll do something, even if all I do is keep writing.

It’s not like I can stop. Not now. Not after how much it’s helped me learn, helped me live.

So I say fuck it, voice in the back of my head. I’m 23 years old and I can keep doing this until I’m too old to remember my own name. Even if the rest of the world gives up on me, ultimately I know myself, and my self is the only thing I really have any belief in, even if part of me is afraid that I’ll fail (Because that’s really all that voice is – my fear of total failure and never achieving my dreams). Even if I had a choice, I’d still keep writing, still come up with stories and ideas.

It’s what I love. More than anything else in the world, more than chocolate and beautiful music and vegetarian pasta dishes and my boyfriend (he understands – he’s the same way about his writing). It’s the thing that makes me feel the most alive, the most real. It’s been my standby in every mini-identity crisis or traumatic upheaval my life has gone through, the one thing that’s remained solid and true.

No matter how the world falls apart, I am a writer. I write, Descartes style.

And since it’s very much a ‘therefore I am’ situation, to hell with the doubt (of myself or anyone else). Even if all I do with my life is write stories no-one but a few close friends or anonymous faces on the internet will read, I’ll still love it. It’ll still make me happy.

So, in the words of a person on the NaNoWriMo boards (who I sadly can’t look up to give credit because they said it in September right before they wiped the forums for the site relaunch, but rest assured I didn’t make this up myself):

“You ask me why I write. I don’t know: why do you breathe?”

So that’s what I think of that. Now to go make 22 copies of my short story for class today (that right there? that’s the sound of my wallet weeping) and spend the rest of my day writing. I hope to hit at least 15k for my wordcount today, but since I have a four-hour shift at the library tonight, there’s a good chance I’ll manage more than that.

You know, if I don’t get distracted by Hell’s Kitchen. Gordon Ramsay is my hero.

Read Full Post »

Growing Up

Or something like it…

It’s 1:06 AM CST. I’ve been 23 for an hour and six minutes now.

As expected, it doesn’t feel much different. :p

My parents took me out to dinner at my favourite sushi place in town, then back home for presents and cake. In light of my camera keeling over about a month ago, my father presented me with a beautiful Sony Cyber-shot, which Jeff and I have been having fun with ever since (he likes to steal it and take pictures of me):

 

Jeff balances a stuffed pumpkin on his head. Not sure why, just because. My parents spend a lot of time decorating for halloween, which is partially due to me being born on that day, but also just for the fun of it. My parents like trick-or-treaters. For some reason. I don’t know why, they just take away all the candy. Little fuckers.

Yeah, I can be 23 and still hate small children. Deal with it.

Jeff ninjas a picture of me surrounded by the wrapping paper leavings of my gifts. It’s a graveyard for coloured paper. Horrifying really.

I have an obsession with things that are miniature. Especially pop. I love tiny cans of pop.

So that’s how the first little bit of my birthday went. After I sleep for a few (okay, maybe ten) hours, I’ll have an apartment to help decorate, and a party to enjoy.

Happy Halloween everyone. I hope your day is full of candy and people being ridiculous in strange outfits. You know, more than usual.

Read Full Post »

I return to the internet after my weekend absence. I missed it here. It’s warm, and the people are faceless, just the way I like them. Did you miss me internet? I missed you. *cuddles*

My weekend was rather eventful, bouncing between borderline alcoholism and multiple miniature fiascos. My extended family is an… interesting bunch. Interesting like a Lifetime Movie Special (but with less wife-beating and rape).

But long story short, we gathered and celebrated my grandma’s 80th birthday, we ate overly sugary cake and bickered, drank many interesting beers (the local grocery store had Blue Moon. I did a little dance to Dionysus in thanks), I stayed up too late watching old shows on Nick at Nite (I secretly love The Nanny. Don’t tell anyone), I read a few books and picked up a few more at the local Borders, and decided that when I become a member of the elderly community, I will pay people to make sure there are no gnomes in my garden.

I love my grandma dearly, but she has garden gnomes. And they creep me the HELL OUT.

[this is where I’d put the picture of the creepy gnome in her front yard next to the statue of St. Francis, but it creeped me out too much to record it on camera in any way. So here’s one I found through google:

I call him ‘creepy child molester gnome’. Seriously. His stare makes me feel wrong inside.]

So I returned to Nebraska yesterday afternoon (somehow, despite both flights being turbulent and nauseating) and was greeted by the cozy pile of work awaiting me this week. Papers are due (another one on Macbeth – seriously, I have to have written at least twenty papers on That Damn Scottish Play in my times reading Shakespeare during the last decade), there are short stories to be read (most of them boring, but more on that in a later post), books to read about lesbian nuns (no, seriously) and of course, multiple shifts at work. It’s gonna be interesting. Interesting like … something witty and violent. I don’t know. I’m still tired, too tired to come up with a good comparison. Make up one of your own. Feel free to share if you like.

In other news, the NaNoWriMo forums are wiping soon to ring in NaNo 2010, which means shiny new forums, shiny reset wordcount bars to refill, old friends returning to the party for conversation and scheming, and thirty days until the madness begins and November swallows my soul.

So, as well as all the difficult stuff this week, I have NaNo novels to plot out and prep for. But I’ll actually enjoy that, so I’m looking forward to it. That and my new book (A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin) is getting very good.

Now to figure out what to get for lunch. Perhaps a delicious sammich. I love sammiches.

Read Full Post »

Calm

Everyone needs a day off, even compulsive writers. Sure, my brain is still ticking away, scheming and pondering my next move in the various stories I’m working on, but the active process is dormant for now. Both in the writing and schoolwork department.

Labor day weekend is a good one for relaxing on a Sunday. The hard work can happen tomorrow, a free day for relaxing and an extra day of sleeping in. I had to get up early this morning to drive to Omaha with my family to see my sister off. Kathryn is going to spend the next year in London studying Dance at the Laban center. She’ll be back in December though, just in time for my graduation (and her 21st birthday). It’s going to be a long separation though. I love my little sister dearly and we’re very close, so not seeing her for so long is going to be trying for the both of us, and our parents.  Mum and Dad mean well, but they’re not used to one of their daughters being out of the country. I anticipate many invitations to join them for dinner and card games on the weekend.

I’m not much for sleeping during the day sadly, but I am at the very least spending my Sunday in repose, curled up in bed with my laptop and watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. Yes, I watch children’s shows. This is my life. Later tonight Jeff and I are going out for sushi (one of my all-time favourite foods, closely followed by mac and cheese, mushroom quiche and guacamole) and then we have D&D for as long as we can stay awake.

Not much in the way of writing I must admit, but today has been pleasantly calm and full of relaxation, just like any good long weekend should.

Happy weekend, blogosphere. 🙂

Read Full Post »

Current Music: Nine Inch Nails – Terrible Lie
Current Location: Work
Mood: caffeinated

I think my fiction writing class has been doing me a fair bit of good; one of the prompts we had in class last week (write about a character’s first day on the job) is blossoming into an actual story, which is refreshing after summer, which was the Summer of No Motivation (TM). So now I have the first few pages of Revelation: Highway 94 written in chickenscratch in my class notebook, next to the rest of my writing exercises.I also have a first page and a plan for All Fall Down, which also stemmed from an in-class writing assignment (write about a character with some kind of appetite, sexual or otherwise).

Part of me worries if I write all the Ghost stories before November I’ll run out of things to fill my wordcount with, but I ignore those anxieties. The goal of NaNo for me is less the end wordcount and more the completion of the novel and the story collection. I already have about 12 to 13k invested in Strain 10, but I’m only three chapters in. Something tells me that at absolute worst, hitting 50k won’t be a problem, and if it is, fuck it, right?

I felt productive today before and after my classes (Thursday is a killer – three classes and the night shift at work), even though I didn’t actually write a large amount. The fact that I got it down and felt satisfied with it is a victory in and of itself to me.

I also got through another hundred pages of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which I’m re-reading now that I have four plus years of literature and classical studies under my belt. I’m glad for it: I understand the mythology references ten times better than when I first read it. I should have that finished within the next day or two, and after that I’m unsure where to turn my recreational reading interest to. I have a strong desire to re-read The Stand by Stephen King at some point in the next few months, but that’s currently being loaned to Jeff, who has never read it and I think is worse off for it. He’s not far in, but last time we spoke he was really enjoying it. One of the better parts of dating a writer I’ve found (besides having an easy time finding someone to read your stories) is the exchange of libraries. I’ve found that regardless of how little time I have to relax, reading a book that’s not on the list of required texts for my classes is a wonderful way to unwind.

My labour day weekend isn’t very full: the first football game is on Saturday, which is only of interest to me because it’s an excuse to hang out with my friends and get drunk. My sister Kathryn leaves Sunday morning for England, where she’ll be for the next ten months studying abroad at the Laban center for dance. I’m going to miss her like crazy, and I figured going along to the airport will help my parents as much as anything else. D&D is also on Sunday, so that keeps my weekend just busy enough to be doing things but not enough to take away my desire to sleep in. Well, except on Sunday, but no class on Monday means I will be passed out in bed and to hell with the sun on my face.

I have about an hour and a half left of my shift at work. I’ll probably spend it watching another episode of Nip/Tuck and then typing up the first part of what I scribbled down this afternoon. Then it’s time to shop for groceries. To hell with my shift being up at 10 o’clock at night, Wal-Mart is open 24-7 and I don’t have class until 11.30 tomorrow morning anyway.

Read Full Post »