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: (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.
electricpaladin: (Holy Robot)
Maybe if I complain, I'll feel better, and maybe then I'll be able to focus on writing a lesson plan for Sunday (I've only got an hour and ten minutes left to plan... how hard can it be? It takes the kids half an hour to do anything), or filling out some of these job applications I've got sitting in an ominous papery pile on my left.

Let's see. Abby and I, as I'm sure most of you know, are still in her parents' house, because I lost that job. It was a great job, and I didn't do anything to loose it. It just turned out that it really was too good to be true. Basically, there was a miscommunication between the rabbi and the educator, the upshot of which was that the educator went and hired someone for the job the rabbi had offered me.

So it goes, I guess, but now I'm trapped in Abby's house, with my parents increasingly breathing down my neck to go home. Their latest angle is that they are concerned that I don't want to be a rabbi anymore, which they insist would be fine by them (probably would, too), because apparantly working retail to support myself while also teaching a Sunday School class and being involved in a local synagogues in as many capacities as they will let me is not enough for HUC. Or so my parents say. HUC has been called and will weigh in with its opinion at some point. I'm too tired and anxious to even be properly angry at them. It's presumptous as hell for them to tell me how to get into a school neither of them has ever had anything to do with. It's hard maintaining my convictions while I'm tired, cramped, and miserable, hard enough without them insinuating that I don't want to be a rabbi anymore.

And retail. I spent a fair chunk of yesterday at the local mall, collecting job applications, which wouldn't have been so bad - I got out of the house, for example, which is an improvement on most days - if it weren't first for the fact that looking for jobs in retail feels like admitting defeat, and second, that I managed to get lost on my way back to Abby's house and spent two and a half hours wandering around fucking Palo Alto, in the dark, about as lost as I've ever been.

I know it's rediculous and elitist of me, but it does feel like a defeat. All my life, whenever I've done something for money, it's been something useful. I've taught, I've tutored, I've worked camps... it's all been in the service of my ambitions. This is the first time I've ever had to do something for money. OK, not the first time; the first time was last year, first semester, when I washed pots in Stevenson, but that time I wasn't crammed into a house that couldn't fit me with my increasingly stir-crazy girlfriend (not to mention my increasingly stir-crazy self) and my parents breathing down my neck practically calling me a failure who has abandoned his dreams.

I almost got properly angry, there. Not quite.

The fact is, working retail will be useful. For me. It's going to teach me firstly about how real people live, secondly about what it means to manage my own money and my own affairs, and thirdly it's going to keep me here and the hell away from my parents' house, which is a victory in and of itself. Frankly, my parents are going to have to either shut up and deal with this, or I'm going to stop answering their calls, because I am not obligated to put up with this.

But in the meantime, I'm sitting here in Abby's house, still feeling every minute of my meaningless two and a half hour trek (did I mention that my parents actually called to yell at me at the same time that I was lost? Cute), with more stress than I care to think about resting in my shoulders and making the backs of my hands itch from typing, with a mostly-unwritten lesson plan in the next window and a pile of untouched job applications sitting next to me.

In better news... I've got another possible teaching position, if Congregation Etz Chayim ever calls back, and... I've started reading the first book of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn. It's good, if slow, and I can't work out if the main character is actually stupid or just a bit of a ditz. The various games I'm running Abby remain pretty much the only fun thing in my life.

Oh, the kids at my Sunday job are great. You know, hyped up and nutty, but not bad kids at all, but I'm not going to write about them now. In my current mood, I couldn't possibly do them justice.
electricpaladin: (Holy Robot)
I'm sure there are more important things for me to be doing, but I've been promising a serious post for a long time now, and nothing beats livejournal for rank procrastination.

The past few weeks have been a lot of fun. First, a week in Palo Alto, at [livejournal.com profile] ladypimpernel's house, followed by a week in Chataqua, with [livejournal.com profile] ladypimpernel's family. Both were a lot of fun, with lots of solo gaming and sleeping in and wandering around beautiful Palo Alto and beautiful Chataqua with, you guessed it, [livejournal.com profile] ladypimpernel, which amounts to a whole class of enjoyment in and of itself. I also had a chance to read her the first two chapters of A Knight of the Land, and she has since read the third chapter on her own. It seems that my worst fears have been realized; my father was right, it really is quite good, and while it needs some work, I ought to try to get it published.

The week in Palo Alto also gave me time to pursue jobs for the coming year. California is looking very likely now. I have recieved one offer for a teaching job at one synagogue and another, as yet uncomfirmed (ie. I want to have a final conversation about salary and hours and the rabbi is playing hard to get) job as a part time office worker and "informal educator" (whatever that means) at a different synagogue. Another offer as a youth group leader is pending, and I have the time and the inclination to substitute teach at several synagogues and take another part-time job at a bookstore or a coffee shop or a restaurant or something in that neighborhood.

At the moment, however, things are tense and unhappy. My mother, as she often is when my life is engulfed in some upheaval or another, is on the rampage. She wants me in New York for a variety of reasons, some stated, some not, some legitemate, some not. She thinks it's best, she thinks I can make more, she thinks I'm less vulnerable to being laid off here, she wants a greater measure of control over my life, she's suffering from empty nest angst - whatever it is, it's getting on my nerves. I really don't like this. My parents, even my much-maligned mother, can be very reasonable at times, and dealing with them is the picture of an ego struggling against dissolution. I can't dismiss them out of hand because they're not bad parents, really, just very human in some specific ways that I, with my own baggage, have a hard time dealing with. Because I can't dismiss them, my compassion, relativism, and love of discussion kick in, and I start arguing with them. I need to prove them wrong and have them acknowledge my arguments to feel vindicated, but I often get the impression they aren't playing by the same rules that I am. They were always good at letting me win from time to time when I was growing up, letting me keep the gaming books hidden in the back of the closet, letting me walk the dog for an hour with my brother so I could run him free-form games, letting me think I had gotten one over on them here and there. What happened? Why do they feel the need, all of a sudden, to really, really win?

Or possibly this one is on me. Maybe the stakes are higher, and suddenly I'm the one who wants to win, and they don't know how to deal with it.

I feel pretty adolescent posting all this. Aren't we supposed to have made peace with our parents by now? Made peace or told them to fuck off? I can't seem to do the first, and I don't want to do the second. I had damn well better be in California next year. If I'm here, I'll do what I did last summer, just swallow my self-determination and simmer. It was good for my writing - I produced a three hundred something page novel, and it's apparantly worth pursuing - but it plays hell with everything else.

Further bad news: I have decided that except in the sense that every bad experience is a learning experience, the Bay Area Mitzvah Corps was basically a bust. In an email with one of my fellow coordinators, I have discovered that in the final arithmetic - in her opinion - I basically did a bad job. I can't argue, though I wish I could. I know I shared some good times with the kids and taught them some good lessons, but as a counselor I had a hard time staying engaged and as a coordinator I had a hard time staying on target, though both improved with time. While it's possible that my coworker is being hard on me, I think she's right. I'm going to chalk this one up to experience and move on. Transferring from a counselor or office intern who takes the orders to one of the counselors and coordinators of an entire program, with one third the fate of fourteen teenagers resting squarely on my shoulders, is not easy. I'll have to get good at this, but I'm not going to beat myself up too much. I'll do better next time, but I really wish I'd done better this time.

Enough moping. It turns out that my brother picked up juggling over the winter, which is pretty great. With his help, I've picked up my first trick, adding stealing to my malnourished juggling repetoire. Also, I have a collection of jobs that will let me live in California, if I can ever get ahold of the rabbi, which is exactly what I've been looking for. Even my father admits that it's a distinct possibility that this will work out, though confronting my mother will be tough.

In the final thought of this great mess of a post, Abby and I are considering living together next year. While our readiness is dubious, it's not totally out of the question. We'll have been together a year in September, after all. We spent the two weeks before this basically living together, though we left out a lot of real-life necessities like keeping things neat. I don't know if we're ready, and Abby has been asking for advice on her livejournal, so I may as well do the same on mine. Advice welcome.

So, in short, I am in a frustrating and disappointing limbo where every success is hard-bought, and most of them turn out to be failures whithin a day or two, regaurdless of how much I paid for them. I can't seem to please any of the people I love and want to be proud of me. I suppose this is life. I'll work on it.
electricpaladin: (Default)
"Mark, I don't understand why you do these things."

"It's not something I did, Mom, it just kind of happened."

"Your father was in college for four years, and he never became Anathema. I never became Anathema. Even your brother isn't Anathema."

"Mom..."

"It's those friends of yours. I always told you they were bad for you."

"My friends haven't got anything to do with me being Anathema, Mom. Like I said, it just sort of happened. And I prefer the term 'exalt.'"

"You know very well that you aren't an exalt. You're Anathema. That's the trouble with you, Mark. You never take responsibility for yourself. What does Abby think about this?"

"Abby doesn't mind, Mom."

"Oh, sure she doesn't."

"Don't start in on Abby, Mom."

"I won't. She's a wonderful girl. She's not Anathema. Why couldn't she be a better influence on you?"

"Mom..."

"We shouldn't have sent you away to college. You weren't ready. I should have realized."

"Mom..."

"I'm going to take that thing, that daiklave of yours, and I'm going to throw it away."

"Mom, you can't lift it."

"And how are you going to get into HUC like this?"

"I don't glow all the time, Mom, and I don't think HUC will mind."

"Are you sure?"

"I can check their web page."

"You do that."

"I will."

"And don't think this means you shouldn't call."

"I'll call, Mom, I promise."

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electricpaladin

June 2012

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