Boogie goes to Computer School

Kings of Comedy

Boogie gettin’ schooled by Steve Harvey

This past Thursday night, I went to a info session for a web design course at General Assembly in Santa Monica. I admit that I was a bit intimidated by the people there – artistic types who already had super-Wordpress blogs, people already in the industry, American Apparel model look-a-likes who needed to get a real job, and probably a genius sitting to my right. I learned a lot about the course and what I would get out of it. The part time course that I’m interested in taking turns out to be more of an introductory class on web design. Even the course adviser said that the part-time course won’t get you job-ready to enter the web design industry. The $11,000 full-time web design immersion class will – of course. My six-figure debt load would make that immersion course out of my reach if I want to maintain a realistic financial path to “recovery.” Recovery here means being able to pay the bare minimum of loan payments without having to decide between food and making the monthly payment.

I want to learn web design. So far, I’m reading books and trying it on my own through Dash (GA’s HTML web tool). I’m actually enjoying myself as I learn. Maybe in a few months, I’ll know enough to start building my own website. About what, I have no idea. I just know that as tech becomes more widespread and tech skills become more valued by employers, it would be a good idea to learn this stuff. Plus, it would be nice to have a job that actually interests me!

I’m going to try this thing out and give it my best effort. Who knows where it will lead me? Maybe, I’ll meet Boogie – that lovable spectator from The Original Kings of Comedy.

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Going back to go forward

I gave my last week’s notice to my temp agency this week. I found a job at the company where I got laid off back in December 2013. On my second “tour” of this job (2012), I didn’t have any grand purpose in life. I just wanted to work and go home, listen to music, and maybe watch a movie every once in a while. I was doing nothing. I felt like nothing. Most importantly, I felt lost spiritually and I had lost my love of playing the guitar. I just consumed and consumed and produced very little. I remember talking to a close friend during this time of my life and she said that I was spiritually, emotionally, and mentally constipated. She was right. Fortunately, I can say that I’m more regular these days.

When I start this new job at an old company, it will be in a different context. I’ve recently discovered an interest in web development and I’ve been doing initial research on what it takes to do it, who does it, and what they’re doing now. I feel some hope that I can actually change the trajectory of my career path towards something with more meaning connected to a dormant creative force within me. This job is not a vehicle to get me to do nothing. It will be platform in which I can support myself as I explore a possible new passion and pursuit. There’s something comfortable about going into something unknown in a gradual way, like walking into morning fog.

This idea of going back to something familiar while being different emerged during a recent therapy session. We discussed how my return to living with my parents (when I got laid off in 2013) was my way of trying to figure out the problems that have been with me since childhood. I had to go home so I can learn to leave in a way that made sense and reflected a true sense of progression. I’ve left home before to live on my own but I still brought with me my past – with my parents, problems, and pressures. I resonated with this idea when I first heard it because it’s so true. If I really wanted to, I could’ve stayed with a friend for a few months or maybe even live in my car (which is getting harder to do in Orange County). Instead, I found myself at home with familiar smells while living with people that I really didn’t know and who really didn’t know me (even though they think they do). Even though so many of my peers live on their own, I don’t think that they have experienced the expansion of self-knowledge and insight that I have been through in 2014. Suffering seems to produce a wisdom that never leaves you even when you get everything you want.

The Tempin Point

I start my new temp job tomorrow at an insurance company owned by a large food distribution company. This job came just in time because I will be getting my last unemployment benefits check this week. I’ve already gone through my 6-month allotment for this year because I wasn’t able to find a job since I got laid off in December 2013.

I think it would amaze to find out what people do for money once their unemployment runs out. I’ve heard of so many people who have had to take jobs that were outside their intended fields of employment or previous educational background. English majors working at Starbucks and people with master’s degrees – like me – who have had to take jobs that have no room for growth or fulfillment. Now that this is the norm, I do feel a bit of a relief that I don’t have to feel so ashamed of my circumstances because so many people share them. We’re all just surviving but how do people grow when only money, food, and shelter are on our minds?

My resumes continue to be emailed and job positions on mental health agencies are added to my list. I apply and wait. These days, I’m also considering of shelving my plans of becoming a therapist with a community mental health position that would put me at the forefront of therapeutic methodologies. Maybe I can revisit these plans in 5-10 years when life is stable enough to launch such an endeavor. For now, I think I can get by with this job and I might even reconnect with some friends in the title insurance industry to find a more permanent job. I know that when I get a permanent job, I have to use my time more wisely and do a lot of soul-searching to discover what I really want to do and to do the research.

Smells like Taco Bell

For the past 3 months or so, I’ve made a habit of going to the libraries near my home but I’m at the Anaheim Central Library more than the others. I tell myself that I’m going to write a thousand words and make some kind of progress towards my insane idea of writing a novel. When I do get there, I end up reading articles on Flipboard about the decaying state of Iraq and when the iPhone 6 will be released. After I’ve had my fill of news I move on to whatever novel I’m reading at the moment (currently is Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris). While I’m reading I am amazed by what people can do with words about normal, everyday things. Sometimes, I read On Writing by Stephen King and try to remember some of the things he writes about. Mostly, I remember how funny he is about himself and what he does. When I read stuff from Michael Chabon or Walter Mosley, I think “who do you think you are to try and write a novel like them?” But then Stephen King tells me that it’s okay to be just a good writer because greatness is so rare.

When I’m at a standstill with my writing, I look around and see who’s around. I see the usual people who are probably in here everyday from the moment the library opens to when they lock the automatic sliding doors that take too long to open when you approach them. There’s this one guy who eats tacos from Taco Bell in a small group meeting room where the Wi-Fi signal is strongest. When he’s done, he puts his head down and takes a nap. He’s to my right as I type right now. There’s another guy just outside the meeting room who has brought what looks to be half the contents of his refrigerator. He’s taking up two work desks with the following items: loaf of bread (wheat), mayonnaise, lunch meat, Tupperware containers, Snapple bottle (half-finished, strawberry-kiwi), piles of books, file folders in a paper grocery bag, and a large jacket. That table is his and most likely goes unclaimed when he is not there, which is probably rare.

When I feel like just reading, I sit at the tables in a corner that overlooks the corner of Lincoln and Harbor. The light is good and the Taco Bell aroma is absorbed by the non-fiction section before it can ever reach me. Every once in a while, there’s this older gentlemen who has a stack of political action thrillers and sci-fi novels. It’s just one stack and it reaches to the top of his head when he’s sitting. Why can’t he make two stacks and ease the distribution of weight on the table? Does he think he can go through all those books in one day? Where did he get those rainbow suspenders? Would I look good in them?  I haven’t seen him in a while.

There are other regulars that I pass on my way to my regular desk at the Taco Bell meeting room. The homeless guys who sleep in the chairs by the art section, an Asian lady who sits at a desk in the middle of the room, the old married couples that sit in the room where the fiction section begins, the middle aged men who read newspapers, high school students making out. I guess they probably recognize me by now, too.

This library is a sanctuary. I think the reason I come to his library is similar to why these people come. We’re trying to escape or avoid something. Heat stroke, angry parents, unemployment, house chores, commitments, purpose, or boredom. I come here because I have to get away from the house and to keep from feeling listless. When I get home from the library, I remember that I’ll do this again tomorrow. Before the day ends, I apply for a few jobs because that’s all part of escaping, too. It’s comforting to know that I can belong to a group of people who are so different from me and from one another. I hope I remember this place and the people when I find a job. I want to remember that being lost is being in the company of great authors and people who eat fast food in small rooms.

Write your wrongs

It’s been about 6 months since I first became unemployed. At this point, I have gone through the full spectrum of emotions that one would have while searching for a job. The spectrum is even wider as I’ve searched for purpose and desire for what I want to do.  There are days that I doubt my accomplishments and there are more days where I regret going to grad school. The burden of debt that will get heavier with time has become a given for me and I no longer worry about its existence.  There are days, too, where I relish the freedom that goes along with the search for purpose. I face the day with no expectation.

This freedom is makes me afraid because there is no hiding.  I can’t hide behind people’s expectations, cultural obligations, or external circumstances.  I am responsible for what I do for the day.  In the past few months, I’ve started to write more regularly. I hope that this writing will extract something – a desires or a direction. Music has also been a more regular part of my life. I practice on a semi-daily basis and my skill level has brought me to a new place of possibility and a new appreciation for the intricacy of music.  The freedom of artistic development has also brought anxiety to an already rigid mind.  I find myself regularly worried about the future: money, relationships, actually being an adult. Of course, I regularly doubt my talent despite the gracious compliments from friends and strangers.  I don’t know how this will end. I think I just have to accept it and maybe through its acceptance it will paradoxically vanish.

I think I still have hope that things will work out or that I will come to a place in my head and heart where I accept the hardships of life that seem to characterize adult life in post-9/11, post-economic-decline, life.

Tempin’ ain’t easy

Yesterday, I had a interview for a temp job for a fire protection company in the commercial district in Irvine.  It seemed like a good job and I saw a lot of young people in the cubicles which looked like a good sign.  However, the assignment was only for a couple of weeks.  I’m probably going to end up turning the assignment down because it’s just too short.  

I’ve started playing music again, which is great.  I’v lost the daily routine of playing my guitar and learning songs throughout my time at my last job.  That’s how bad that job was – it seemed to sap the energy to do the thing I love to do.  

Check out my new Fender guitar amp:

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Movin’ on down

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So WordPress would be great way to document my adventures in unemployment and finding out what I want to do in life. I expect this to be long and sometimes disheartening but I’m sure there will be some moments that will make me glad to be alive.

This is a pic of the beginning of the moving process. I’m headed to Placentia, CA to my parents’ house. Placentia: land of gated communities and lifted trucks. I should probably brush up on the “bro” lingo.

Failure to Launch

On December 13 (Friday), I was laid off from my job at a title insurance company.  My job was, basically, to insure that Chase had first dibs to screw a borrower over when they defaulted on their loans.  Chase wanted to get to the borrowers first before the Department of Making Dead Beat Dads and/or the IRS got a chance to suck ’em dry.  It was a job that paid the bills and allowed me to buy and do some fun things this past year:

  • Went to Portland and Seattle and all the cool places in between with my good friend Janna
  • Bought a turn table system and a bunch of cool vinyl records (my favorites so far have been the new albums from Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lissie, White Denim, and John Mayer.  I also got some great classic albums from John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, Ry Cooder, and The Gza)

To be honest, I was more relieved and then devastated after being laid off.  No more dreading the morning traffic to spend eight hours at a soul-destroying job that contributed nothing to society.  I met some fun people at work who made the day bearable:

  • N, who was so funny with his sarcastic one-liners during our pointless meetings with our supervisors.
  • S, a vivacious Latina who was funny and kind.
  • St, who was mysterious and quirky.  How did she have sparkles of grey in those brown eyes?
  • M, a gregarious guy who could get everyone to laugh.  He also had a heart of gold.
  • Ma, a tiny little thing with the great voice (I have a thing for voices), caramel eyes, and fury that was buried by our mutually-shared mediocrity.  It would sting me every time she brought up her boyfriend.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I don’t even know if I still want to be a therapist – even though I now owe that bitch Sallie Mae over $180K.  I am trained to help alcoholics and drug addicts get their lives back together but I can’t even keep a job for more than two years.  I think there’s something wrong with that.  I can’t say that I’ve totally lost hope in starting my therapy career because maybe I’m moving this hope to something else.  Although, I slowly understanding that I don’t have to have my shit together to have some kind of meaningful impact on other people.  But for now, I’ve been watching a ton of movies (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a revelation, Pain and Gain sucked like no other), taking long walks and eating soup.  

Starting over is like playing Grand Theft Auto V and having the power go out without getting to save.  Oh yeah, and you didn’t have the auto-save option on.  I’ve had to do it before after failed relationships and failed attempts to get a job after finishing grad school.  I think it’s different this time.  My parents seem to be more intentional in showing me support, especially my mom.  She didn’t seem to be worried that I have no plan right now.  She didn’t even get upset when I told her that I don’t want to find a job right away.  I think we’re beginning to understand each other.  I’m helping her buy a tablet.  What is going on in the world?

I watched The Lifeguard shortly after being let go.  It’s such a relevant film.  Kristen Bell’s character goes home to her parents’ home after the end of an affair (she was involved with Dr. Suresh from Heroes) and quitting a dead-end job.  She went back home, wreaked some havoc, smoked weed, and then started to believe in something better than what she had.  I hope that a similar destination of self-discovery is in store for me.  I’ll try to be less lazy, less passive, and sign up for archery lessons.