electricpaladin: (Assault Sergeant)
When Abby started celebrating my birthday, she taught me a beautiful custom from her family. Birthdays are officially considered to be extended affairs, stretching from the first celebration to the last. Thus, my 29th birthday started some time mid January, with Abby and I going out for Fondue, and ended last night, when Abby and I went out to dinner with her family. It's a nice custom, especially for Abby and me. My birthday comes at the end of January, which makes it a great way to extend the holiday season, while Abby's comes right after school ends for the summer, which makes it a nice way to celebrate surviving another year.

I won't lie - I enjoy getting presents. It seems that enjoying receiving presents goes out of fashion after a certain age, but I've never really lost it. Perhaps its redeeming that I also enjoy giving presents - perhaps it doesn't need redeeming. This year I did pretty well: I got a tiny plastic (well, resin) spaceman from one friend and a tiny plastic space-tank from myself, a wonderful and hilarious necklace from Abby (one side: the Prime symbol from Mage: the Ascension, the other side: "Motherfucking Sorcerer"), a list of the Internet's best free adventure games from another friend, a personalized Cards Against Humanity-style game from Abby's sister, a blue blazer from Abby's parents, and a nice check from my grandma. I also received the priceless gift of the time and company of many of my friends, old and new, over the course of the weeks of my birthday celebration.

So far, 29 is turning out to be a good year. I've got my work in order, more or less. For the first time in a long time, between tiny plastic spacemen, D&D Encounters, and Dresden Files with Max, I'm getting my play in order, too. I've got a professional organizer and a personal trainer to help me get my home and body in order, and both feel more like opportunities than onerous obligations.

What do I hope for in my 29th year? I'd like to get back to the guitar, make more time to write, and continue to grow and develop (or, in the case of my personal trainer, shrink and develop). I hope to continue to improve my work and my play. 

I'll keep you posted.
electricpaladin: (Default)
Another interesting thing about Dreamwidth: as they are less well-known, they are not blocked by my school's firewalls. Booyah.

Anyway, here is my first post via Dreamwidth, and my first personal blogging post in some time. I feel under a lot of pressure to make this post "good" and "seminal," to define with grace and brilliance what this blog is going to be about.

That's why instead I'm going to post this RPGnet motivational poster I made about five years ago.

The Others

Sometimes, you just need to move on.

I'm not entirely sure what I want to do with a blog. Post about writing, gaming, and random geeky things on the internet? I do that already on the Burning Zeppelin Experience. Post about miniatures, wargaming, modding, and painting? I think I'm the only person in my immediate internet circle to be into that sort of thing. Post about how freaking slow and unreliable Audible downloads are? Tempting, but probably not a great idea.

So, I guess that leaves posting about my life. Hopefully I can elevate the format above "how was your quesadilla?" blogging, but I'm going to assume that if you're reading this, you're at least tangentially interested in what's going on with me, in a broader format than Facebook allows.

Which reminds me - if I want my friends to read this and be updated about my life, I should link to Facebook from it.

Anyway, the fact is that I miss the heyday of Livejournal. I miss reading my Friends page and seeing what my friends are up to, creatively presented in their own words, impregnated with their own personalities, intermixed with a liberal sprinkling of people I don't know personally but think are neat. Maybe there's nothing I could do to bring those days back, but I can post this, I can post about Dreamwidth on Facebook, and I can hope.

So, here goes nothing. This blog will be about me, for those who care to read it.

Also, is it just me or does Michele Bachman look less like she's dropping out of the race and more like she's promising to bite all those who oppose her?




There is definitely something bitey about that woman. I know that her dropping out of the race doesn't mean that she will stop spouting horrible hate-filled rhetoric, but at least it means that I won't have to hear about it - or look at her horrible bitey weasily face - nearly as frequently.

But enough about politics. What's been up with me?

The last - God, how long has it been? - the last period has had some ups and downs. Ups include my teaching career, which continues to be lots of fun. Abby is well, as well, and I'm still quite happy to be married to her. I've recently gotten into wargaming - I'm sure you've all noticed, after all the pictures I've posted - and while it's a hobby that's possibly even sillier than the rest of the ones I've already got, It's also a lot of fun. I really enjoy the artistry that goes into assembling, modifying, and painting my Tiny Plastic Spacemen, Tiny Plastic Lizardmen, Tiny Plastic Giant Robots, and Tiny Plastic Giant Monsters (TPSMs, TPLMs, TPGRs, and TPGMs, for short). Apparently, I'm even quite good at it, and getting better.

However much fun it is, though, minis wargaming doesn't replace roleplaying. Real roleplaying, the kind I did in college, the kind where you tell deeply meaningful stories. I'm done feeling ashamed - I've been done for a while now - this is one of the major ways I express myself. It's also really hard to do when you're a grownup. I've posted about it before, and I'll probably post about it again. It's kind of up right now in my life, and it's been a major source of frustration.

There are some lights at the end of various tunnels. I've got a Dresden Files game going on - while it isn't quite a game of truth and beauty yet, it's certainly fun and I think it has the potential to become such. I've started developing more local friends (Friends! Dear friends!), which is good, because while I've got some awesome friendships already, I'm also pretty isolated and lonely.

In other news... well, I think that about covers it. If you read my blog you already know about my Summer from Hell, my mother basically disowning me, and my brother's continued douchebaggery. You probably also know that in addition to being wonderful and fun, teaching is probably the hardest thing I've ever done, and it continues to leave me exhausted.

So that's where I am: work is fun and work his hard, my creative life is full of new things I enjoy and all but empty of old things I love, I have more friends, and that front is continuing to improve, and my marriage is great, but unsurprisingly strained by all the things that are difficult in the rest of my life.

Watch this space for more blogging. Let's see if we can't keep in touch.
electricpaladin: (The One Electronic)
Today in my first period, during your typical onion skin microscope lab, a girl turns to me and says "this is great! I feel all smart and sciencey!"

Maybe I'm not the worst science teacher in Oakland. In fact, I feel like I could burst.
electricpaladin: (Default)
I've been meaning for a while to write about my first week at school, and now - taking a break between grading Period 3's first week quizzes, diagnostics, exit slips, and daily catalysts and Period 2's - seems like as good a time as any.

I am having the time of my fucking life.

I teach five sections of 7th grade life sciences a day: Period 1, Period 2, Period 3, Period 4, and Period 6. My lunch is beteween 4 and 5, and 5 is my prep, which is a pretty pleasing arrangement. I usually roll into work around 7:30 AM. My commute takes between half an hour and fourty five minutes, depending on the traffic, and I have my podcasts to keep me occupied. I occasionally feel guilty about the driving, but I'm currently considering it an important slice of "me time" before I begin my day. Besides, public transit would take me three times as long and cost about as much. Carpooling would be virtuous, but there goes the "me." Anyway, I arrive, I make my photocopies, I arrange the classroom, and then the kids arrive.

They're a rough bunch. A lot of them are clearly grappling with some serious issues. I can already see signs of learned helplessness, serious anger issues, and the hypervigilance that Abby tells me characterizes trauma. I'm not seeing things: this part of Oakland is one of the most violent, and Oakland itself is one of the most violent cities in America. Gangs are a huge issue. I'm under instructions to report any kid I see wearing baggy pants and exposed boxers, oversized white t-shirts, or a marked preference for certain colors. Scrawling the wrong symbols on their notebooks is also a big deal.

But they're also kids. They're snotty and loveable. They want to assert themselves, but they also want structure and limits to help them grow. They might grumble when I tell them the rules, and they definitely test my rules, my dedication to my rules, and my patience, but they want me to pass their tests.

And I love life science. The science of living things has always fascinted me, and at the middle school level, I get to focus on the fun stuff.

Grad school is also surprisingly nice. I had expected to find my classes pretty useless, but I'm finding them remarkably interesting so far and looking forward to next week, when classes start again after the furlough. Stupid furlough.

The long and the short of it is that I'm loving my job. I feel fulfilled and empowered and like I'm doing something worthwhile in the world. I'll keep you all posted on how it all goes.

electricpaladin: (Default)
Here is the good news I alluded to on Monday:

You know what's better than getting your first freelance contract?

Getting your second freelance contract.

As of today, I am officially contracted to produce a whole mess of words for Greymalkin Press's Desolation. I just faxed in my Non-Disclosure Agreement (ah, NDAs... you guys are going to hear about that so much more often in the future!), so I can't tell you much about it, except that it's going to be full of awesome nifty.

I think my next Create-a-Character Post (it's been on hold on account of a crappy scanner) had better be about Desolation. Let me see if I can get my scanner going.

So. New job, new contract, new story idea... life is pretty good.
electricpaladin: (Default)
I used to be able to look at a beautiful sunset without thinking that some day, I'll see a beautiful sunset, and it will be my last beautiful sunset.

I'm writing that to get it out of my system. I'm writing that so that in a year, when whatever it is I've got going on is dealt with, I can read it and laugh. But I'm also writing it because it's going on. And it sucks.

A little background. I was an anxious kid. I had a period of real bad anxiety when I was in third, fourth grade. I was terrified of dying. Not the pain or decrepitude of age - of being dead. Of being not. It used to keep me up at night and drive me to distraction during the day. Eventually, it went away. I met this orthodox rabbi, and I thought to myself "I'd like faith like that." And I asked God for faith like that, and eventually the fear went away.

It wasn't that I had a clear image of the afterlife or anything. It was that I had a firm conviction that I am more than flesh, there is something in me that is eternal, and besides, dwelling on death is dumb. That conviction carried me through 16 years.

Then, about a month ago, it went away.

I don't know what happened? Well, I do know - I lost my job, went into debt, and started seeing my money problems poison everything else around me. And suddenly, I was afraid of being dead again.

Since then, it's come and gone. Sometimes it's more or less ok: a little twinge of fear that passes, and nothing at all when I'm working hard or having fun. Sometimes it's bad: weeping, clutching, terrified panic attack bad. These days it's better more often than it's worse, but it hasn't been really gone since it started. I have three main approaches. Three main approaches that work, anyway. I'm leaving out dose up on food or internet, since they don't really achieve much.

Approach 1: The Abby Approach

This approach focuses on something Abby helps me remember: this isn't real. This is my brain playing tricks on me.

You see, when I say I was an anxious kid, that's a little facetious. Actually, I am an anxious guy. Until recently, that anxiety has gotten in the way of everything. I won't go into it know, but if you know me, you know how many things I've screwed up thanks to a neverending cycle of fear -> inaction -> failure -> fear.

A lot of things have gotten better recently. The job search I recently ended (more on that later)? Definitely the best, tightest, most disciplined job search I've ever suffered. The job I'm doing now? Not something the old Mark could have handled. That freelance contract I just completed my first draft for? Not something I could have handled, either. Ok, maybe that last one I could have handled. I did have four months.

Anyway, I've always been anxious, so it's not surprising that now I'm having anxiety attacks. The Abby Approach is: reduce the feeling to its physical components, remember that emotional sensations are really just physical sensations, don't dwell on the ideas behind the fear, they're just your brain playing tricks on you. All this is nothing more than a trick of brain chemistry. And it will pass. And when I have a little more money, I'll see a counselor. And a psychiatrist.

One of the nice things about this idea, which has occurred to me several times, in several ways, is that maybe I've finally beaten my anxiety on every other front, and this - raw, guts-to-water fear of death - is its last holdout. You know, now that my anxiety can't induce raw, relationships-to-crap fear or rejection or raw, prospects-to-water fear of failure it's retreated to something I can't actually do something about.

For now. I'll get you, fucker.

Approach 2: The Landmark Approach

This one comes from a personal growth class Abby and I took. One of the distinctions they teach is "peace doesn't come from having no problems (that's death), it comes from the perception that something is wrong. Therefore, giving up the idea that something is wrong will give you peace."

Sometimes, it works. I focus on the reality of my life. Nothing is wrong. It's not like I'm dying at the moment, or anything. Life is pretty good right now. I have nothing to fear.

Approach 3

And the last, trying to recapture some of what I used to have. An inner certainty that I am more than flesh, that something in me will last forever, that dwelling on death is a stupid thing to do.

I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

. . .

Also, I have a job!

I'm working for Birdcage Press. We make educational books and card games for kids, on topics like art, dinosaurs, art, animals, and art. But, mostly art. Anyway, what am I doing for this company? I'm their internet marketing expert.

But Mark, I hear you say, what the fuck do you know about internet marketing?

Not a hell of a lot.

Birdcage Press is in need of someone who can work cheap and grow with the job, and nobody works cheaper and has more growing to do than someone who doesn't, technically, know anything about the job.

It's a little anxiety-making, but my coworkers are supportive (to the point of my boss buying a bunch of books for me to read on the topic of the job they hired me for) and the environment is funky. I mean, while the way I put it above seems dire, consider it this way: I'm being paid to be smart, young, have cool ideas, and learn fast. All of which I have, am, and do. What's not to like?
electricpaladin: (Default)
So, since I finally just sent in my first drafts, it's probably time to stop being paranoid that somehow telling everyone about it is going to make this go away. I mean, I got permission to broadcast this ages ago.

I was recently contracted by White Wolf to contribute to one of their upcoming supplements.

I know, I know; a lot of you know this already.

Anyway, it's been a really awesome experience. There are people! Giving me money! For writing! It's beyond belief! And how did it happen? Being in the right place at the right time, with the right girlfriend (who wouldn't let me get away with being too scared to pursue the opportunity - thank you [livejournal.com profile] ladypimpernel), and a writing sample that was liked.

After this, there might be more drafts, but I'm already quite pleased. I'm proud of what I wrote. It isn't perfect, but it's decent - and most importantly, it's on time. I'm getting the feeling that this just might be the start of something awesome.
electricpaladin: (Default)
So, after some good advice from some very smart people, I've decided to take myself off the market as an administrative assistant (and, hopefully soon, temp, since I'm this close to throttling that bitch from OfficeTeam), and put myself out there as a tech writer/proofreader/copywriter, or at least the entry equivalents to those fields.

I'm in a weird place because I'd still like to go back to school in six months to a year. On the other hand, I have no money, so possibly picking up the beginnings of a real, paying career would be a good idea.

Anyway, it's something to go on right now, and as I enter my second month of unemployment, really anything to go on is better than what I've been going on. Which hasn't been working.

Anyway, what it all comes down to is that I need to produce two writing samples. Unfortunately, I've just gotten finished going through all my old files and I can't find a single thing I wrote in college.

So, any suggestions for a topic that would be fun and easy to write about, but show off the fact that I have an extraordinary talent for stringing words together?
electricpaladin: (Corey Doctorow)
Two Updates:

1. I am finally caught up in Order of the Stick (and Erfworld, but that's much less interesting). I had forgotten how much I liked that comic and how much I missed it and how damned clever the author is. I'm already looking forward to more.

2. I am no longer the leader of my men's team. In a good way. I spent some good time as a good leader, and it's time to pass the stick. I was honored all around. It was nifty.

Also, the apartment is full of boxes.

That is all.
electricpaladin: (Default)
They say you always remember your first solo drive after getting your license. This will be doubly true for me, I suppose, since my first solo drive was following the ambulance which, containing Abby ([livejournal.com profile] ladpimpernel), was headed to the hospital.

Abby's fine. She had a weird drug interaction and found herself suddenly in a lot of pain. Fortunately, they figured out what it was and sent her home (without actualy doing anything for her... *grumble grumble grubmle*).

The drive, by the way, was quite confidence-building (when I wasn't terrified), since absolutely nothing went wrong and there weren't any scares. I noticed myself doing a few of the things Abby has had to bug me about and a few of the things I lost points for on the test, and self-corrected. So, there's the good.

Still, a scary, tense morning and a first solo drive I will never, ever forget.
electricpaladin: (Default)
Good news ! Good news!

I passed my driving test. I am now the proud owner of a California driver's liscence.

Woot!

I'm really pleased with this. Finally, I can stop being dependent on everyone else to drive me places. Finally.

Of course, this doesn't mean I'll have a car anytime soon, but it's a start.

Anyway, if all this makes you too happy, and you're afraid you'll do something embarassing, check out [livejournal.com profile] ladypimpernel's bad news.
electricpaladin: (Default)
My first earthquake! Woot!

I was getting ready to make dinner, when suddenly I noticed that the water in all the glasses and waterbottles I could see was wiggling around and the ceiling fan was wiggling in the ceiling. And there was shouting going on next door and outside. Then I checked an earthquake finder on the internet, and there was a Magnitude 5.6 earthquake about 40 miles away! It was really quite cool.

I have been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for two years, and this was the first earthquake I could actually feel. Rock.

*does the first earthquake dance*
electricpaladin: (Default)
Today, while I was working, one of my coworkers asked me to find "Augustia Pope," who I assumed was either an author to find or a customer record to look up.

As it turned out, the customer standing behind my cowerker was actually looking for "The Audacity of Hope" by Barak Obama. That settled the question quite nicely; but still, I find myself wondering, who is Augustia Pope?

Help me out here. She's got to be someone. And someone with an interesting name, at that. Who is this woman?

...

In further news, I am now the leader of my men's team. I don't know how this happened. Well, I do. My teamates have been telling me for a while that claiming some responsibility would help me with my issues around commitment and achievement, and I think they are right. They also say that NoM is a great place to claim responsibility, becuase there are all these great guys around, eager to support me in whatever I do. Also, correct. Somehow, I was describing why I was afraid of being team leader, and I realized that I had talked myself into it.

What I said was something like: "you need to always push yourself just a little further than you think you are ready for, because... shit [this is where I realized I was producing a perfect reason for me to be the leader, after all]... well, because that is the only way to keep moving."

So, I'm the team leader of Free Lunch. That means I have absolute dictatorial power over what the team does, including the focus of our meetings, the procedure, even the day of the week and the time (though of course, with that one I had better be accomodating or I may find myself holding a meeting for myself). At the same time, of course, there is a lot of responsibility. I have the power to make all those things work, but I also have the responsibility to make them work.

Go me.
electricpaladin: (Default)
On Sunday, I was frustrated to find that I was scheduled to work during the Richard Dawkins presentation. Frustrated, because as I was to discover, I don't like what Richard Dawkins has to say, and I don't like how he says it. I found him to be a nasty, snotty man saying nasty, snotty things in a very cultured british accent.

I am a naturally argumentative person. My exploits are well known, and include a verbal battle with Oberlin's own resident evangelist. Honestly, listening to Dr. Dawkins, I felt like I was back in Tappan Square all over again, facing an asshole who was only a little more polite, a little more intellectual, and ultimately just as wrong, only in the opposite direction.

What is it that Richard Dawkins hopes to prove in his newest book, The God Delusion? He is trying to establish that God is, well, a dangerous delusion, religion a pernicious lie (in one of his previous books, comprable to a computer virus of the mind), and this whole faith thing really aught to be done away with. In fact, 'indoctrinating' children in religion is, in Dr. Dawkins's estimation, akin to child abuse.

Lovely, really.

I suppose I have Dr. Dawkins to thank for something, though. Listening to him helped me work out - in a Maimonidean, negative-theology sort of way - something that I believe very strongly. I am against all triumphalist and teleological modes of thinking.

By triumphalist, I mean so convinced of its own rightness that its ultimate acceptance by everyone is either inevitable or at least extremely desireable. By teleological, I mean positing an end point to the universe, a reason for everything, and then reasoning backwards from that, rather than forwards from evidence.

What's entertaining is that both Dawkins and Strobel (author of The Case for Faith and The Case of Christ and so on) fall prey to both these ways of thinking. Both believe that their ideas (radical atheism, evangelical christianity) should/will overcome all other relevant ideas, and both believe that the universe has a point (scientific exploration, Christ).

In reaction, I realize that I don't think anything has a point, or an end. The universe is not beautiful or elegant; it's arbitrary and cold. Our bodies are not smooth, beautiful engines for our enlightened wills; they are ugly, brutal, ill-functioning meat-things. Religion isn't about simple ethical lessons and easily swallowed mythologies; religion is messy and weird and full of incomprehensible crap. The universe doesn't have a point, and if you're looking for the point, you're missing the point. We can't give order to the universe - it doesn't have any - we can just try to improve the human condition and hope for the best.

But I think I'm at peace with all this.

I see numerous holes in my newly-verbalized ideas. How can I avoid triumphalism in my own thought, but at the same time, how do I avoid sinking into meaningless self-indulgent meditation ("that's how things are, such is life, don't try to change it - you can't order the disordered universe!").

Also, I'm still sorting out the consequences. If there is no point, then Judaism isn't my answer anymore, because I'm not looking for answers. There are no answers, because nothing has an ultimate point. Judaism can my question, though. I like that. Not Jew, but Jew? Great, but what does that really mean?

One of my coworkers says my new philosophy resembles taoism. Can anyone confirm or deny this, and if it's true, reccommend any works of taoism for me to read?
electricpaladin: (Default)
Rebecca has returned home, and the week of the houseguest has come to a close. It was nice to see Becca again, even if I was working for the greater part of most of the days that she was here. We had some good times, some fun conversations, and most of a fun game.

The game - as some of you might have read in Abby's LJ - did feature naked mud wrestling lesbian werewolves (well, mud-wrestling werewolves, one of whom was a lesbian), but it wasn't entirely my fault.

The game was a sort of pseudo Iron GM competition. Iron GM, for those who don't know, is when an ST is given three games (traditionally, three random GURPS supplements) and told to concoct from those three disparate parts a working setting and a playable one-shot. Also traditionally, the books are assigned at 9:00 PM one night and the one-shots are scheduled for the next morning at 11:00 AM. On the one hand, I had a little more time. On the other hand, I was working with Werewolf: the Apocalypse, GURPS IOU, and GURPS Castle Faulkenstein.

Now, most of you will know what Werewolf is. GURPS IOU is a game of weird magic, weird science, and college life, and GURPS Castle Faulkenstein is a GURPS edition of a 1800s fantasy steampunk game. The setting I concocted from these games was a fantasy steampunk setting where the garou were about the only supernatural still a secret, and set the game at a weird Oberlin, whose open admissions policy had earned them a very strange student body. This is why the game ended with a battle between the PCs (the naked werewolves) and a despair powered robot made by an evil sidhe out of cold iron and malfean stone.

What else is new? As many of you know, I've been working as the TAG Initiative Specialist (Jew-stuff) at a Jewish day-camp in the area, splitting my time between camp and Borders. Camp has been a lot of fun - often challenging, but a lot of fun. I'm teaching groups of ten to twenty or so kids, roughly between the ages of five and fifteen. The challenging is the age range, the time frame, and the setting - In addition to being vastly unfamiliar with some of these age groups, I only have fourty-five minutes with each group and I'm the content guy at a summer camp. Nobody wants to learn at summer camp, so I have to be tricksy. The kids, however, are great. I mean, a lot of them don't want to be in my activity, but a lot of them do want to be there, or at least don't mind. I'm even developing a following. The job pays well, and on the days I work there, I get to wake up at eight and I'm home by four, which is sweet.

The news is that I just quit my job at Borders, and starting next Monday I'll be working full time at camp. The story is a little complicated, but I'll tell it anyway. I had requested Abby's birthday (June 29th) and the Fourth of July (um... July 4th) off, and the last time I looked, I wasn't working on the Sunday in between. Of course, at some point during the four days I wasn't going to Borders, they added the Sunday, apparantly without checking to see if I would ever be in to look at the schedule. Someone also forgot to actually take me off the schedule for one of the two days I got off - I don't know which. That makes it two days in a row that I didn't show up and didn't call. Three days of that, in California, is job abandonement, which is grounds for immediate firing. So, when I returned to work on Thursday, I saw that I wasn't scheduled at all for the next week. A little investigation uncovered what had happened.

Now, I have had a standing offer to work at J-Camp full time, but if I wanted in for the next two-week session, starting a week from Monday, I needed to act by that Thursday evening. To complicate matters further, the only person with the authority to tell me what was what wasn't in, and wouldn't be available until Saturday (that is, yesterday).

So, I told Borders I was done, told Tracy at J-Camp that I'd like to be put on the schedule full time, and that was that. I mean, Borders has been grating for a while. It's time I find someplace to work with better hours and better pay, and possibly the vague feeling that I'm working towards something worthwhile. This does mean that I'll be without health insurance for a while. I'd better just stay healthy.

In shinier news, Becca got me this really awesome necklace. It's a little silver sephirotic tree on a black thread. It's my favorite necklace, up there with my love knot/tree of life bronze coin and my 'zion' star of david.

Other important things have happened since I last posted life news, but that can wait until the next time I feel like LJing.
electricpaladin: (Alchemy)
Tom might be able to smell autism in children, but check this out:

Electricpaladin can clean his ears with his tongue, which is over thirty-nine inches long.

I win.

Anyway, it's high time for a real update.

I have decided that I'm not certain that I want to be a rabbi, after all.

This came after a lot of deep thinking, discussions with Abby, and frank consideration of the facts. Fact: I have successfuly shot one HUC application in the foot. Fact: this HUC application, while, well, applicable, isn't really the best I could do. Fact: I have consistently failed to go to weekly services here in California. Fact: I have a serious problem ballancing my dedication to my teaching jobs with the day to day necessities of my Borders job.

It seems to me that what I'm lacking is dedication, passion, and discipline. I'm not acting like someone who really wants to be a rabbi. I'm acting like someone who thinks that being a rabbi would be a kind of a cool idea, but doesn't really care one way or another.

Today was a pretty nerve-wracking day, with a lot of anxiety, but I think I'm beginning to get used to the idea that I'm not as sure of what I want to do with my life as I thought I was. Beginning to, anyway. I'm clearly having anxiety issues, even as I type this very entry.

Anyway, beyond life marching on and a general sense of slow improvement, nothing much is going on. I work, I play, I work more, and sometimes I sleep. I eat in there, too, and about as often as I eat, I cook.

I'll try to post more often in the future.
electricpaladin: (Holy Knight)
So... a real entry coming soon, I promise, but this is worth reporting:

Thursday, Howard Dean came to my Borders. He was in the Politics & Government section, feigning illness at books praising Karl Rove. He signed a copy of his book for me, and I bought it. We shook hands and talked a while. It must be lonely being famous, with everyone who meets you becoming suddenly incapable of thinking of anything interesting to say.

He was nice, warm. He joked with his aides.

A real entry is coming. Really.
electricpaladin: (Default)
We have internet. Wireless internet. Awesome.

VICTORY!

Oct. 8th, 2005 09:14 pm
electricpaladin: (Default)
Ladies and gentlemen, you are reading the livejournal of the proud owner of five jobs. Now, this isn't too impressive, unless you did your math and knew that, until about fourty-five minutes ago, I was the less proud owner of only four jobs. The fifth came through just now, a job at the local Borders.

Now, Borders isn't that much to be proud of. It doesn't pay that well, for one thing, though it offers health insurance and a pretty sweet employee discount. Also, as a work-friend of Abby's said: 'Borders, how could you not get hired there!" No, what I'm proud of is that this fifth job is all it will take to get Abby and myself out of her parents' house. Whithin a week or two, we will be living in our own place, with our own furniture.

In other words, I can unpack already. I can get moving with my year here on the West Coast, applying to HUC, working at my (five!) jobs, making friends and connections. Living.

Basically, good news, good news, yay, yay, congrats, congrats.

Also, I have no regrets about joining the Evil Empire. There is humanity to be found even in the depths of the Borders experience, sparks of divinity to be redeemed from even corporate life, and I will find them. And also have an apartment.
electricpaladin: (Holy Knight)
Today was Rosh HaShannah, the Jewish new year and the first day of the Days of Awe or High Holy Days, or whatever you want to call them. I went to services with Abby's family, and it was nice.

What it wasn't, though, was terribly profound. I can't decide whether to be troubled by this. On the one hand, I like profound experiences, religious and otherwise. On the other, when I think back on it, every other profound Rosh HaShannah has been profound in a distinctly bad way. They have all been new years in which I resolved to make some improvement or get out of some bad situation. Right now, I'm not in any bad situations, and while I know I have many flaws and failings, there are none that I have a burning, immediate desire to correct.

I suppose despite the various situations of my life - the lack of a job, my parents continued griping (more on that later), my various mistakes - I am actually content.

Of course, a lot of these situations aren't as bad as they could be. Take the lack of a job, for example. I do have three great jobs teaching religious and hebrew school. They are all fulfilling and fun, and who cares if they don't pay enough? I'm doing what I want to do with my life, and that's better than what a lot of people can say, and better than what I could have said last year. And, in addition to all that rather ephemeral optimisim, I have a job offer. A stationary and chatchke store called Papyrus is offering me 15 hours a week on betwen $9 and $10 an hour. It's not enough to get us out of Abby's parents' house, but it's a start.

The promised (threatened?) aside to my parents is this: I think I have finally found out the center of my mother's gripe. She doesn't think I'm asking for advice often enough. She's upset because she thinks I don't understand that she and my father are the only people in the world with my best interests at heart. She thinks there is something deeply wrong with what I'm doing with my life right now.

I guess she's right about a few things. I haven't gone to my parents for advice as often as I should. In my defense, my project was to get out of the house, and all my parents seemed to be able to talk about when I brought it up was how impossible this project was. Who wants that kind of advice? I had decided I was going to do it, and so I tried, and I succeeded!

Also, it's hard to go for advice to a couple of people who have spent years making themselves hard to talk to about problems, but I can't tell them that. Honestly, it's not that I'm afraid of causing a fight. The fights mean so much less from across a continent. It just doesn't seem fair to say something like that in a context where I know it will be misunderstood. If I could get my parents into family therapy or something, then maybe I'd be able to say it. In the meantime... ah, whatever. I'm out of that house, and as much as I love my parents, I don't think I'm living there again. Things might get better and things might get worse, but I'm going to keep myself safe. I don't know where their doubts and anxieties end and I begin when I'm living there, and that scares me too much for me to allow it.

That's all there is about my parents. What else have I promised to write about?

The kids! That's right, the kids. My Sunday morning class is billed at twenty-two kids, but considering absences, it's usually more like sixteen or eighteen. They're sixth graders, roughly evenly split between boys and girls, with a really exciting mix of personalities and backgrounds. A lot of them are "half Jewish" - though, as I tell them repeatedly, in my classroom they're Jewish, and that's all that counts - and the other half ranges from spanish to scottish. One of the girls looks middle-eastern, but she could be spanish, or just mizrahi.

They are really great kids. I have my share of troublemakers and eccentrics, from the boys who are so entertained by my difficulty with their names (it's only been three classes, give me a break!) that they keep lying during attendance to the girl who puts on such a bored, disaffected personality that I'm really afraid she's going to grow up and become a hipster, but they are all really just spirited. They ask good questions, and they don't resist my efforts to make the material exciting. Their misbehavior isn't even that bad; they have a hard time staying on task and sometimes it takes a while to get them quiet, but by and large there isn't any blatent disrespect and, as far as I can tell, there isn't any bullying at all.

I've only met the Wednesday kids once, and I haven't met the Saturday kids at all, but I'll post about them at some point.

So, in short, my life is better than I think, I have great jobs and good prospects, and perhaps that's the most profound thing about this Rosh HaShannah.

Also, when the haftorah and torah were being read in Hebrew, I could sort of half keep up with what it meant, which was awesome.

L'shanna tova.

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electricpaladin

June 2012

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