Unemployment Eclipsed

Yesterday, the moon blocked out the sun. This event cascaded across the United States, with some areas getting more darkness then others. Historically, eclipses of the sun have been seen as an omen of bad tidings to come. I certainly hope this isn’t the case this time, because yesterday was also the day when I finally managed to land a job.

2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Yesterday afternoon, my parents and I gathered in our backyard. We each had a simple pinhole camera made from a cereal box, some plain white paper, and aluminum foil. Using these simple tools, we watched as the eclipse reached it’s peak. In each of our devices, a small crescent of light appeared on the paper-lined bottom of the cereal box. It was pretty damn cool. Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough to live in one of the parts of the country that got total darkness.

After a while, we figured we had seen the best of what we were going to see, so we  went inside and resumed our usual weekday activities, which for me mostly consists of browsing the Internet and filling out job applications. Anyone who has been following my blog consistently knows that I have been unemployed for over a year now. It’s been a frustrating time, as I have run short on cash and had to contend with increased feelings of uselessness and depression. For the most part, I’ve been coping by spending time with friends and playing Dungeons and Dragons. And so, as I was researching paladin builds online, I received a phone call. It was from a local college bookstore that I had interviewed at the previous week asking if I could come in the next day for orientation.

The position is only temporary. It lasts for the first few weeks of the semester as students are coming to pick up there books and supplies. There’s no guarantee of future employment. And yet it is some kind of employment, which means both money and extra experience to put on my resume. Orientation doesn’t begin for a few hours, but already I am wide awake, nervous, and excited. It feels like months of searching have finally started to pay off for real. Here’s hoping that eclipse wasn’t a terrible omen, and that this doesn’t all come crashing down on me.*

*I’m kidding. I don’t believe in omens. Bigfoot is real, though.

This Post is Dedicated to Everyone Freaking Out Right Now

So today I was feeling depressed, as I was yesterday, about the state of the world. About how white supremacy continues to be normalized despite the violence in Charlottesville. About how our own president is basically a white supremacist. About how someone could be holding a rally in Cleveland sometime soon and friends of mine could wind up getting hurt, because I know a lot of people who would show up to the counter-protest (note: this isn’t a criticism. You’re all super brave and I love you). About how this could be the beginning, and that my friends of color could be targeted by white supremacist violence. And I was generally feeling powerless.

And then, on my twitter feed, something weird happened. Patrick Rothfuss was tweeting about a Kickstarter he’s promoting, when all of a sudden things got real.

I remember thinking two things. The first was “Aw, Pat, not you, too!” and the second was “Wow. It’s like my thoughts are getting reflected back at me.” Because I had been thinking about similar things. And suddenly, I knew exactly how to respond.

After I had sent the tweets, I looked back at what I had written. And I realized that I had found the words that I needed to hear myself. This was the key to getting myself out of my funk and continuing to live my life. Because to give in is exactly what those people want. They want us to be afraid, to spend our every waking moment terrified that they may be coming to our town next, or that we won’t be able to protect our loved ones. And it’s up to us to prove them wrong.

We have to keep going, because that is how we hold on to what we love. It’s how we keep the dream of beauty and the goodness of humankind alive. We have to keep living our lives and creating beautiful things.

So to Patrick Rothfuss, myself, and to everyone else who may be freaking the hell out right now, I’d just like to say, do your best. Create good work. Raise your kids to be amazing people. Cultivate goodness and beauty in all that you do. Because to do otherwise is to let the fascists win. So promote that Kickstarter, or make that comic, or build your Patreon following, or whatever you need to do. The beauty of human life is that it keeps going, no matter what.

In other words,

Incidentally, this is what the poster was originally referring to, before it became a meme. Let’s bring that meaning back.

Political Depression

I’ll be honest: I’m in a bad state of mind and it’s not getting better. And it’s mainly to do with politics.

Charlottseville shocked me. And had we, as a country, come together to denounce white supremacy, I might have recovered sooner. Instead we got a president who equivocated and a conservative movement that was willing to defend him for doing so. I was amazed by the number of people who tried to tell me the counter-protesters were just as bad as the Nazis, as if that isn’t tantamount to tacitly supporting them. So now I’m scared for our country and questioning my friendships.

Naturally, this is making my depression get really, really bad. Facebook is exacerbating it, but I can’t quit Facebook because I rely on it too much. It’s the main way my D&D group gets in touch. Twitter is better but not perfect, but again there are people who I can only tall to on twitter. Even worse, if I want to grow my blog, one of the best ways to interact with readers is social media.

I am constantly inundated with article after article that makes me question just how selfish and evil and close-minded people can be. I try to get out of it for a few hours but I can’t seem to stay away. I want to be an informed citizen, but I have a hard time feeling like I can do anything. I feel powerless to change the country.

I feel like I’m drowning. This is the worst I’ve felt in a long time. Not even losing my job was this stressful.

Imposter Syndrome, WiFi Connectivity, and Other Things That Give Me a Headache

Hi. Long time no see. Sorry that I haven’t posted for a while, but WiFi connectivity in my house has been spotty at best. I’m actually typing this out on my phone right now. Please forgive any spelling errors.

Lately I’ve been having trouble writing. I’d call this problem writer’s block, but it’s not really lack of ideas that has been holding me back. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite problem: I have too many ideas and I can’t decide which ones to work on right now.

Now before you go nailing me to a tree for complaining about a “problem” that most writers would kill to have, I should explain a couple of things. First of all, I’m having trouble being confidant that my ideas are good. I’ll start writing a story, hoping it will become a novel, then halfway through the first chapter I become convinced that the whole thing is horrible and I should just give up. In other words, I have imposter syndrome. Secondly, these ideas are huge. Each is way bigger than anything I’ve tried to write before. As a result, I become intimidated by the size of what I’m trying to write and immediately feel inadequate. These two problems combined have made it really hard to get any writing done at all. Luckily I have a solution: stop trying to do too much too soon.

The thing I keep forgetting is that it took years for my favorite authors to get where they are. I’m only twenty-six. I’ve got plenty of time to write. I shouldn’t be so impatient to become a novelist. I’ve got plenty of time to work up to that.

So right now I’m just gonna go back to basics and write a few short stories. Nothing huge. Maybe a couple back stories for my D&D characters.

I’m also tossing around the idea of starting a second blog for discussing/writing about D&D and other tabletop RPGs. Something to help me grow my readership and keep me writing on a regular basis. Also, I can write pages and pages about RPGs. I’ve been a DM for years and a player for even longer. I’ve got loads of opinions and experience to draw from.

Anyway, that’s the state of my writing right now.

Happy Anniversary, Unemployment!

Today marks the one year anniversary of the day I lost my job testing software. One year ago today, my manager called me to schedule a meeting. Naturally, I was a little nervous about what it might be about. One of the co-workers who I shared a cubicle with was very nice, though, and she assured me that I did good work and that I probably didn’t have anything to worry about. So I continued working at my desk and tried not to dread the meeting, figuring that there as no point in worrying about it until I knew what it was about.

Imagine my surprise when my manager brings me in to the office of the Vice President of Quality Assurance. Obviously, this was not a normal meeting. To top things off, the representative from HR one who originally interviewed me for my job, was there as well. Consider yourself fortunate, dear reader, that you already know how this ends, and thus are free from the confusion and fear that was gripping me at that moment.

My manager motioned for me to take a seat next to the Vice President while he went and sat on the other side. The Vice President then looked at me and very calmly informed me that they were going to “separate my employment” (their words). To be fair, my manager, the Vice President, and the HR representative were all really nice and cordial about things. My manager even walked me to my car and talked to me to make sure I was going to be OK. This did not stop me from cussing him out on the way home, but it was a nice gesture nonetheless.

I’m celebrating this unfortunate anniversary by doing the same thing I’ve been doing for the last year: by filling out job applications and following up with the places that I’ve already interviewed at. I’m not looking at anything glamorous (and I’m definitely not looking at doing any more software testing), but all the applications I’m filling out are for steady work and that’s really what I need right now, even if it doesn’t pay as much as I would like. Some days are harder than others, but most of the time I’m able to keep my head above water and stay positive. With any luck, this will not only be the first anniversary of my unemployment, it will also be the last.

A Not-So-Patriotic Fourth

The Fourth of July is making me feel particularly depressed this year. I try to summon up a little patriotic glee, some good old fashioned “‘Merica!” pride, but all I can think about is how the Republicans are tying to screw me out of healthcare. And then I get worried that I won’t be able to afford my anti-depressants. And then I start to think about what it would be like to to have to live through the Trump presidency without access to anti-depressants, and I get mad and angry and I want to call my Senator and yell at him even though he already said no to the bill. But then I remember that it’s the Fourth of July so he’s out of the office anyway, and then I feel sad and ineffectual.

This is the first fourth of July in my entire memory that I don’t feel like celebrating my country. Even during the last Republican administration, which happened around the time that I first started forming cohesive political opinions, I still wanted to go outside and wave sparklers around and go see fireworks displays. I didn’t like Bush or what he was doing to the country. At all. But he never made me feel depressed the way the current administration does.

I’m clearly in the minority, at least in my White suburban neighborhood, because I can hear people setting off the occasional firecracker outside my house and it’s not even dark out yet.  But I bet I’m not the only one feeling this way, because from what my psychologist tells me, anxiety about Trump and the current government is really, really common right now. So if you’re out there feeling alone,. like you’re the only one who can’t seem to muster up good feelings for a country that is continually letting you down, I have this to say: I’m here, too, and I’m just as scared as you. Let’s hide under the covers together.

P.S.: I think I know who to blame for everything that’s going on in politics right now. You see, I was going back over my Facebook time-line and I happened to find this post from a particularly cheeky asshole on the day of the election:

I fucked it up

Can you believe this guy? He actually had the nerve to wear a First Order T-Shirt on the day of the election because lol irony lol and now our democracy’s backsliding into a dictatorship. Hey asshole: maybe if you had worn a Resistance T-Shirt, Clinton would have won, yeah? Way to jinx the entire country, jerk. Honestly, the nerve of some people.

The Revampening

I’m not good at this blogging thing.

I mean, here I am, it’s July third, a full five months since my last post, and I’ve done nothing that I said I’d do since then.

Well, that’s not true. I finished editing the story I wrote, and it’s all ready in manuscript format, but I’ve yet to send it off anywhere. And I’ve continued to apply to jobs, and to get interviews for said jobs, and then get email from people about said jobs that say something along the lines of “We’re sorry, but we’re going with someone else who better fits our needs as a company.” And I’ve continued to call my Senator and leave angry messages about the new health care bill, which would really screw me and a lot of people I know. So yeah, I haven’t been completely idle.

I think my problem with keeping up this blog has always been that I wasn’t sure what kind of subject I wanted to get on. Was this just another autobiographical blog? What about the flash fiction and poems? Just what is this thing supposed to be about, anyway?

Well, I think I’ve found an answer. This blog is going to be about contemporary existence. Specifically mine. That means that, from now on, when something depresses me, or there’s an issue or a funny story that happens to me, I’m going to write about it. Because that’s the only way I know to get better as a blogger and a person.

So hello again, world. My name is Alex Aloi. Let me write you things about my life.