OK, I'm back. Jeez, I left this place a mess. Gonna have to fix that.
But oh, am I excited to be back in the saddle! It's been a crazy year and a half, here's a recap...
Holidays 2010: Generically excellent family togetherness and all-around good times. We did the Santa thing again, but it was the last time for brother E (at twelve years old). CJ just turned eleven this year, so she's got a couple left before she learns it's not for real... and then we'll keep on doing the Santa thing anyway because we did before they were born when we all knew and it was still just as much fun. I mean, seriously, I have no idea why them thinking it's real is desirable at all once they're old enough to start figuring it out on their own. But whatever, they're not my kids.
Spring 2011: Back in school! Straight As, except for a B in Politics 101. What?! Well, it was like this: I could secure As in all the classes in my major by not studying at all for POL 101, or I could risk blowing a couple finals in the PHI department to secure an A in POL 101. I'm satisfied with my choice. The main difficulty was that I had to take a 100-level course that wasn't taught any more (I got on this program in 2005, after all), so to graduate from the 2005 catalog I wound up taking that class with like five other people who were somehow in the same boat as I was. It was on Kant. It was taught by the Department Chair. The Department Chair is a Kant scholar. So I had to have my Kant down, and that's... like... look, if you haven't read Kant, I can't come up with a good analogy. It's just really hard. Motherfucker tried to prove that behaving immorally was necessarily irrational, which would have been amazing if he'd succeeded, but the way it turned out was that nobody could understand what the Hell he meant a lot of the time (which is why the guy gets his own 100-level course, because his shit is dense). The "whole" course was actually on Kant through to the twentieth century - but we covered Sartre, Husserl, Heidegger, Russell, Quine, Derrida, and a few others in the last four weeks.
Summer 2011: Aced a 200-level PSY course (psychology of personality... damn, I took a lot of electives in PSY, I might've been able to do a minor in another semester or so...). Got to take a lot of really cool personality tests, including the IAT, which was rad as Hell. It was a four-hour class four days a week, though, and we literally read a chapter a day. So I quit both my part-time jobs to secure the A, then went into business with my friend who was in his third season of owning a landscaping & remodeling business. I ran his books, drew up his paperwork for clients, drove his truck, ran his crew when he couldn't, and even loaned him some money; for all that, he made me an equal partner, and we split the profits 50/50. It was awesome, we had a full day's worth of lawns to mow once a week all summer and about $50K in jobs lined up at the start of the season, each year was getting better & better for him.
Fall 2011: Almost every single job got pushed back, scaled back, or cancelled all together. We still had our lawns, and the owners of the apartment we moved into hired us as the maintenance crew, but that all by itself wasn't enough for rent & groceries. As things got progressively worse, my business partner became increasingly unstable, but he got a day job. I had school paid for and a little left over in savings, and running his business while he was at his day job was enough to make ends meet. But some of his less than stellar decisions had driven off what few non-lawn-related clients he had, including our rich and powerful landladies, so he kinda-sorta ran his business into the ground and blamed me for it because I was around and he was temporarily crazy (no, seriously, he formally apologized to me in like January for fucking up so bad). I wound up joining the campus Occupation, too; but admittedly, half the reason was to get out of the apartment, and a good deal of the other half was that I'd be right on campus. I picked up smoking again, though. With a strict budget and shit hitting the fan, I realized that I could either stress-eat or stress-smoke to aid my concentration, and stress-smoking was cheaper.
I also got straight As for the first time in my life since my freshman year of high school - and I actually cared about straight As for the first time in the history of ever. Wham, Bam, Gradja-Ka-Zam! I am now officially a trained philosopher, and carp on a tarp, did I work for it! I took some really interesting classes and wrote some pretty cool papers, I think I might post a few up here because I'm actually kinda proud of them. That's right, Internet: be my refrigerator!
Holidays 2011: Brother E helped with the Santa charade this year, brother A brought a lady love to Christmas dinner (she's a real classy lady!), and brother JD announced his own engagement. He and his fiancee did Christmas Eve dinner and told the historical origins of Hanukkah (as well as the mythological origins, but the actual historical origins were the main focus and the coolest part) which was really interesting. You know how I know Judaism's crazy? Because these guys engaged in guerrilla warfare and defeated a force that outnumbered them by orders of magnitude, using such tricks as polishing their shields really shiny to blind their foes with sunlight and fighting in a narrow curved tunnel to force their opponents to swing with their off-hands, but the thing they celebrate thousands of years later is that some oil burned like way longer than it should have, man. Then JD went and started some crazy stupid family drama for no reason at all (well, because he thinks he's the guardian of propriety, that's the reason), which was actually OK by me because I knocked over the Christmas tree like two hours earlier, so his idiot bullshit took the heat off me entirely.
Spring 2012: I got turned down for spring admission to the grad school of my choice (it's the only one for me, it makes too much sense, everything else is a stupid decision by comparison), and I didn't find out until after the fall application deadline had already passed. So I moved to the town anyway and started making friends with the important people in the department, and volunteered at a couple places while I looked for a job. I also found out that I got turned away because they only admit people in the spring who have already completed at least some of the coursework that would have been covered in the fall, since it's a small department and it runs pretty much in lock-step. But fall of 2013, I'm pretty sure I'm gonna get in, which gives me time to pay off the credit card bills I racked up and get my shit together.
I looked for a job for three damn months. Like, seriously, fuck this economy. What it turned out to be was that I'm in Qualification Limbo: I have four and a half years of experience in my field, which either over- or under-qualifies me for pretty much anything. Everyone I've told this to seems to require explanation, so here it goes. Employers won't hire me for entry-level positions, because (they reason) they can hire someone off the street who won't negotiate for higher pay and who hasn't had underlings for half a decade - and that's a safer investment to them, nevermind the fact that I'd take what the Hell I could get and I know how to differentiate job environments. As for positions requiring experience, the job market is flooded right now with people who have a decade or more of experience and who weren't fired for saying that their underlings could "do their fucking jobs or eat a bag of dicks." Not that prospective employers can necessarily find that out, but they can ask if I'm "eligible for rehire," which is exactly the same thing. I mean, I called places and asked why I was turned down at every opportunity - in the guise of asking for "advice on making future applications stronger" - and these people (in aggregate) told me this. That is, when they had the guts to tell me anything.
The job I did get? I ran into an old coworker two days after moving, while shopping for groceries. I was offered the job on the spot, and it took them three months to get me an interview. The position had been open for eighteen months because apparently nobody else in this town can pass a drug screen but me. Which, fuckin', hooray me! But by the stars, my two qualifications that got me this job were knowing someone and not having smoked pot in the last five weeks.
So that brings us up to the present day. During those three months of joblessness, I played all the damn video games I ever wanted to play, and then some (I didn't have shit else to do, since I was broke and living on credit). I lost about thirty pounds I didn't need, not due to starvation, but with the Penn & Teller One-Step Diet Plan: STOP EATIN' SO FUCKIN' MUCH! Monitoring my caloric intake made me realize just how much I had over-eaten before. But then I lost like ten more pounds that I maybe shouldn't have, since I hadn't weighed that little since I was fourteen, and I almost developed an eating disorder! Woo, excitement!
It happened like this: I reasoned, "Well, I can't control who calls me back, I can't control who gives me a job, I can't control what the competition is like, but I can control how much I spend - and when I have no budget for fun, that means controlling how much I eat. I've been keeping myself at 2,000 calories a day, but I'm sure I could get away with a little less..." Well, like the second day of work, some customer dumped a bunch of textbooks in the trash, and one of them was a book on abnormal psychology. My coworker V opened it right up to the sexual disorders, but I skimmed the interesting parts of each section in my downtime over the next few days. I got to the part on anorexia, and it said, "Many anorexics feel a lack of control over their lives. To cope, they exercise unhealthy amounts of control over themselves..." I then realized that, without really meaning to, the only thing I planned on eating that day was a 50-cent thing of macaroni & cheese and a vitamin pill... so I nipped that right in the fuckin' bud, and I'm back to "five pounds overweight" (read: "healthy"), which I haven't weighed since high school anyway, so Hell yeah.
Now I can't take not-writing any more, so I'm hopping back in the saddle. It'll end again once I get into grad school, but that's over a year away, and I think I did a decent enough job of the last year of blogging I did... so here goes!