Monday, March 13, 2006

The End of Era

I won't be posting here or updating this blog anymore after today. Instead, I'm moving my random thoughts, observations, bitching and moaning over to a LiveJournal site. The main reason for this? Well, mostly it's because almost all of my friends who are also writers use LiveJournal and by setting up a LJ account I can begin participating in communities that I didn't even know where there before last week. Thus, setting up over there is sort of a no-brainer.

And it's not like I really need two blogs for as much blogging as I do... so good-bye to blogger and hello LJ.

My new blog is located here.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

If it weren't for bad luck...

...I'd have no luck at all.

Yep. Seems that I have yet to ditch the horrendous streak of misfortune that plagued me throughout 2005. I'm seriously beginning to think that I'm laboring under some sort curse, because if not, then the scales have to balance back out sooner or later right?

This particular bit of misfortune revolves around my vehicle. For those who don't know, I drive a 1994 Toyota Corolla that I've had for 3-4 years now. To date, the only serious work I've ever had done on it was replacing a master cylinder on the hydraulic clutch about this time last year. It was due for a state inspection by the end of February, so I, of course, waited until yesterday, March 1st, to get it inspected. This time around, however, waiting so long was a mistake... and a big one at that.

I've been having issues for the past few months with the brakes on the car and how poorly it seems to stop. In particular, if I brake hard at all the wheels invariably seem to lock up and the vehicle goes into a skid. While skidding, it also, invariably, pulls to one side strongly. Now with my vast and unequalled ability to make mechanical diagnosis of car problems (despite the fact that I know almost nothing about the maintenance or repair of anything mechanical), I decided that my brakes probly just needed new pads and shoes and that it wasn't really a big deal.

I changed my braking patterns, drove a little more cautiously, and paid more attention to my driving rather than having it checked out and fixed right away, because I just couldn't afford to take the time off to go get it looked at and I figured it could wait. And it did, right up until yesterday when I took the car for inspection. I went in expecting to have to have some brake work done, but generally speaking, brake work isn't all that expensive, so I figured it wouldn't be a big deal.

Unfortunately, everything that I had assumed was very, very wrong. It was not, in fact, my brakes that were the problem... it was a wheel bearing. A wheel bearing that was in such bad shape, that driving my car for any reason at all, ran the distinct risk of the wheel coming off altogether. This was bad enough. My car is completely undriveable until it's repaired, which they couldn't do yesterday. This is also considerably more expensive than the brakework I'd expected to have to have, the estimate puts the damages at around $115.

If things had stopped there, it would have been unpleasant, but not horrible, so of course, there had to be something more wrong than that. They also informed me that I had an exhaust leak but they weren't sure at that point where the leak was. Fifteen minutes later, the other shoe dropped: my exhaust leak turned out to be a cracked exhaust manifold. They even took me under the car and pointed up at the manifold, showing me the crack, it was easily visible to the naked eye, but could have been worse. Based on what they saw from under the car, they suggested that they could take the manifold off and weld the crack. All told, all that would cost me was labor, and not much of that, until they took the car down and looked at the manifold from the top... where it turned out that the one crack they saw underneath was the least of the problems. The entire manifold was spider-webbed with cracks and there were way too many of them to weld it.

So, they're looking for a manifold for me. One that isn't going to cost what a brand new, off the shelf manifold would cost me at a the local auto part shops. (It's $140 there, by the way, just for the part.) It'll take them at least 3 days to get one, and they aren't sure what it'll cost yet. Yay.

Other than that, I also have to go get a tire replaced and replace a burned out tag and tail light. So that, in the end, my $13 inspection sticker is probably going to end up cost me several hundred dollars. Several hundred dollars, I might add, that I simply do not have at the moment, several hundred dollars that I'm going to have to borrow from my mother until my income tax return check comes back. And again, yay.

I'm beginning to think that Murphy hates me.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Desperately seeking... something

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me

Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't coming back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me

There's no place I can be
Since I found
Serenity
But you can't take the sky from me*

I woke up this morning with the Ballad of Serenity ringing in my mind. It's kind of an unusual thing really, seeing as I haven't watched Firefly or Serenity in a bit, but the lyrics seemed really poignant to me for some reason.

I've realized recently that something is missing from my life. It's like there's this gaping hole in my reality that I need to fill, but I can't. The worst part is that subconsciously I've known it was there for a long time, and I've tried at various points to fill it, but nothing has worked out in that respect so far. But now, now that I've finally acknowledged the elephant in the room that I've been trying so hard to ignore... I can't stop trying to figure out what it is that I need to fill the hole.

Is this emptiness a function of being alone? Maybe, but if it is, then why haven't I felt it in other parts of my life when I was just as alone?

Is it because I'm so unhappy in my job at the moment? Possibly, but again if that's all it is, why now, after being at the same unhappy place for 4 years?

The more I think about it. The more I ponder the entire situation, the more I begin to think that maybe, just maybe, what's really missing in my life right now... is me. I'm not happy with who I have become over the last few years. I feel like I've given away too much of who I am and let go of things I should have held on to. I look in the mirror on mornings like this one, and I don't see myself as the person I wanted to become.

So, perhaps it's time to begin. Time to become. Time to transform the man I am, into the man I feel like I should be. And maybe, just maybe, if I manage that... I'll finally find my Serenity.

*Ballad of Serenity, lyrics by Joss Whedon

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Flapping in the breeze

It's been a bit more than 3 weeks since the start of the calendar New Year and I'm still just sort of hanging around in a perpetual limbo state. Word from on high is that my security clearance hasn't been approved yet, but then neither has it been denied. The good folks at Lockheed say that clearances are taking, on average 4-6 months or more to complete, and mine won't even hit the 4 month mark until the end of next week. Frankly it sucks, especially with the added problem of my current employer pressuring me to leave ever since they found out that I was trying to get a position at Lockheed way back in November.

To add insult to injury, my personal life isn't exactly moving out of neutral gear any time soon either. I've spent the 8 months since my divorce was finalized mostly alone, with a single noteworthy exception in the form of an ill-advised affair with a woman I didn't know (at the time) was using me to cheat on their significant other.

I did recently meet someone that I've found myself deeply infatuated with. The downside is that I'm not sure if it was really mutual or if she was just playing me. Only time will tell on that I suppose.

The ultimate point, I think, is that I'm pretty much left floating in perpetual limbo at this point. So what the hell am I supposed to do now?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year -- New What?

So the new year has come again. The eternal roll of ages adds another line, we all get older and if we're very, very lucky maybe just a bit wiser -- but that's probably just wishful thinking by and large.

It's at this time of year that humanity really bugs me. Everyone starts talking about new beginnings, about things getting better, about life improving. They make resolutions, little promises to themselves -- losing weight, exercising, living right, etc. It's a funny thing really, because most of the resolutions people make are all about one thing -- making themselves feel like they are trying to be a better person in the new year. They're going to do all those important little things that they never had time for before or were just too lazy for. Of course the vast majority of those resolutions will be completely forgotten before the first of February even rolls around.

People don't change. That's a simple, undeniable fact. If you were too weak willed to exercise and diet last year, what on earth makes you think that you'll find the willpower this year?? I mean come on people, let's be honest, if you're going to make a resolution, at least make one that you have some small chance of actually keeping. That whole idea of aiming high so that when you fail (because inevitably, you will if you aim really high like that) you still accomplish something is absolute horse-shit. All it does it acknowledge that "hey, I'm never gonna actually do this..." and that always leads to "well, why bother trying if I can't succeed..." and poof, you're as screwed this year as you were last.

Sound bitter? Overly cynical? Maybe. But I can honestly say, that I've never failed to follow through on a New Year's resolution since I started being realistic about them. And, in fact, this year I made several resolutions:

1. I will end this year with less credit debt than I started it.
2. I will start working on an original novel this year.
3. I will spend more time writing and less time playing games.

I would also have resolved that this year I will get a better job than the one I have, but since I'm just waiting on my clearance to come through so I can start a better job, that one seemed a little too much of a gimme. Generally, these are the kinds of resolutions I make, things that do require some effort on my part, I do have to change my habits to accomplish these things... but they're small changes. Changes I feel comfortable saying, "with a little effort, I can do this".

I'll be the first to admit that these aren't the only things in my life that I need to change. Hell, like most Americans I need to exercise more, lose a few pounds (10 or 15 in my case), and get out of debt altogether. But let's be real here, I'm not going to pay off my credit cards this year, let alone my student loans, no matter how many resolutions I make -- unless I luck up and win the lottery or something, but I'm really not liking the odds on that, especially since I very rarely buy lottery tickets... I will lose more weight this year, I dropped 10 pounds last year and I'm still losing weight -- so why would I make a resolution about it? I just need to continue on with the habits I've already formed there and everything will be fine in the long run. As for exercise, yes, I need to do more of it... but I know myself well enough to know that's a resolution I'll never manage to keep, so I won't make it.

So now, the real question for anybody who reads this: Did you make a new year's resolution you can keep? Or did you make an impossible resolution like most people?

Give it some thought... it's not too late go back and make a meaningful resolution.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Recovery and moving forward...

So, I had to have surgery on the 16th of December. It was...unpleasant to say the very least. The procedure itself, wasn't as bad as it could have been, I suppose, it certainly was nothing compared to the last time that I had to have a surgical procedure for a kidney problem.

It did, however, take me 3 days to stop passing blood, which HURTS by the way, a lot. Then the problems were further compounded by the fact that I had an unusual, but not unheard of, reaction to one of the post-op medications the doctor prescribed. Unfortunately, that reaction made me miserable until we finally figured out what was going on yesterday. Thankfully, today is a big improvement overall, the dizziness and lightheadedness that plagued me thanks to the medication finally cleared up and I'm back at work now.

The back to work part I could have done without, but what are you going to do? With the holiday season, I haven't been able to get in contact with anyone at Lockheed yet to find out if I can start with them soon or not, so I continue to toil at my current place of employment. Hopefully, once the holidays get past us, everything will start seriously moving forward again. I certainly hope so at any rate.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Anxiety intensified

Sometimes it seems like everything in my life hinges on a single event, a pivot point so to speak. Now, for example, my entire life feels like I'm waiting to breathe again, and I have been for a couple of months now. It all comes back to getting the clearance I need to start this new job and get this tired old life of mine back in motion.

It's that moment that'll change everything, it'll completely reorder what currently comprises my daily life. And the anxiety attached to waiting for that moment is slowly killing me. The only good thing is that one of the FBI investigators, the gent who handled my interview, told me that all of the investigation packets were supposed to be back to the FBI by the 29th of November and that they were supposed to have made a decision by the 3rd of December. So... with any luck at all, I should hear something this week, or next week at the latest.

You'd think that knowing it was so close would help ease my inherent anxiety over everything, but instead its just making it worse. And then, when you throw in the additional fact that I'm scheduled to have a surgical procedure performed next week to correct a nasty little kidney stone I have, well, actually not so little, otherwise a surgery would be un-necessary...

Well, anyway, you get the idea. I feel like I'm living on pins and needles...and it's not a good feeling. If this continues for too much longer, I don't think I'll be able to take it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Letting the dust settle

It's been two hellishly chaotic weeks since the last time that I managed to take the time to post. Things did not go well with K.'s visit and she and I will not be seeing each other again as long as she is still with M. This means that she and I probably won't be seeing each other again at all, as I have serious doubts that she has any intention of ever leaving M. There's a part of me that was saddened by that realization, but frankly, I think it's probably for the best.

Things in my life were made even more awkward last week, when the person doing my background investigation for my security clearance showed up at my current job. They were supposed to have notified me in advance of when they were going to do that, because my current employer still didn't know that I was looking for another job nor that I had one lined up. Needless to say, this resulted in all manner of awkwardness. On the plus side, of the many possible reactions I'd anticipated from the person who runs the company I currently work for, I got the easiest to live with one -- namely, I am a non-person. She just ignores me completely. With as small-minded and petty as they are capable of being, this is actually a good thing, I mean she could be going out of her way to really make me miserable instead of just ignoring, so I count myself as lucky in that regard at least.

And now of course Thanksgiving is looming at the end of the week. Normally, I don't much mind this particular holiday, but I let my mother talk me into going with her and my stepfather to visit my sister in Kentucky this year, so I've essentially committed myself to a 4 day stretch without my lifeline (the internet). I am taking my laptop with me, maybe I'll at least be able to get some of my homework done over the weekend, seeing as the due dates for everything that I've got left to do (2 assignments and completing an AI project) is December 9th. There's really not a lot of time left...

Oh, and it looks like I should expect to hear something about when I can start my new job by the early part of December. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd pin a start date at the beginning of the new year, since I'm not overly keen on the idea of moving the week of Christmas. Here's hoping.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Chaos, Fear and Uncertainty

Something is looming and it's beginning to make me worry. The part that's bothersome is that I know what it is that's got me anxious, but that knowledge is not serving to help matters any.

You see, K. is coming back to town this weekend. She'll be arriving on Thursday evening and will be leaving to go back home (to her boyfriend/ex-fiance M.) Monday morning. As it stands, with her having to be in a wedding Saturday afternoon and me having my son on Friday night, I'll probably see her Thursday night and Sunday night.

I'm trying very hard to maintain a Zen about the whole situation, but it's terribly difficult. Despite my previous assertions that I don't want to have a sexual relationship with her while she is still involved with M., I'm not sure that my resolve will hold up in the face of temptation...and damn is she tempting me. Already, just our conversations over the weekend have strayed towards a repeat performance of her last visit.

And everything in my life is colored with uncertainty and chaos at the moment. I'm drifting remarkably close to having absolutely no control over any part of my life, and this a scant week after declaring that I was going to take control of it. A big part of my current problems stem from realizing just how alone I really am right now, and the edges of a relapse in my depression are pressing in on me because of it.

I need someone in my life. I need something real, something that can marshall my emotions against the negativity building around me. I've realized that what I have with K. is not real: she is using me and I am letting her do it. How's that for self-respect?

What I don't know though, is how to find something real. Meeting women isn't exactly a skill that I've mastered down through the ages. Almost every serious relationship I just sort of fell into. No, that's not true...absolutely every one of them I met through one of my friends.

So, what am I supposed to do now?? I really don't know.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Welcome to another new year

So, this is the beginning of the new year. So far, it's not particularly different from the old year, but in some ways that's okay. A new year in and of itself is a good thing, it's a perfect time for new beginnings and letting go of the illusions we cling to about ourselves and our lives. That's what I really need now, a new beginning, a fresh start, renewal of self.

That's my goal for the new year, not a resolution, I don't make those. Resolutions are too easily broken and too quickly forgotten. This is more than that. This is a pledge, a vow, an oath if you will, sworn between myself and my Goddess that I will make more of my life this year than I have in the past. It's important to me, sacred even.

In the past, I've let other people push and pressure me into doing, saying, and even trying to be things that I just am not. I've let others dictate the path of my life. That stops today. Today, I reclaim my self.

Today, my life begins again.