Even With the Bullshit, I am Blessed

I was kind of an asshole in high school. I was the smart ass that used his intellect and sarcasm to build a barrier around me both emotionally and physically in many ways. I was unhappy, and still am to an extent, with the way I looked. That insecurity fueled my sarcasm and ineptitude with social environments and graces. Honestly, i just saw school as a stepping stone to get the hell away from my hometown. Not that my hometown or the people were so bad, I just never quite felt like I fit in. Looking back, I can say with certainty that the alienation I felt was partly my doing, but there is still definitely a mismatch with who I am and what is expected back home. What I find amazing about my time in school is that even with that slight chip on my should I still managed to find a few close individuals I could call friends who I still speak to and try to see on occasion, an act that our divergent paths in life makes rather difficult at times. Considering how I acted and my slightly abrasive personality, I consider myself lucky to have found those bonds in high school.

Perhaps a bit more surprising, to me at least, is how those friendships continued to be forged with new individuals in college throughout undergrad and grad school. With all the uncertainty and lack of direction I am currently undergoing, it is comforting to know that somehow I managed to create a few connections and friendships that I know will be long lasting. A few of those I am lucky enough to call friend have in recent days expressed their emotions and thoughts concerning my inevitable departure. When someone who is not tied to you by blood has a tangible reaction to you leaving, I can’t be anything else but humbled and blessed that I am fortunate enough to have such good friends. I only pray and hope that I can be worthy of such expression. So to all my friends, wherever you may be, I am grateful to have known all of you and hope that we never truly part. Also, remember I am one phone call away ready with a shovel, no questions asked.

 

The Sentry Gathers… 

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What if They had been just Blue?

So along with a fellow blogger, I entered a flash fiction story for the weekly Terrible Mind‘s flash fiction contest. The contest was to write a story based on a randomly generated prompt that can be found here. My prompt was: “The story starts when your protagonist is told by a parent that everything has been a lie. Another character is a mind reader who is interfering with your protagonist’s job.” Below you will find what I managed to come up with. My compatriot’s entry can be found here. Enjoy.

 

The old adage goes “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.” I used to agree with that stupid saying until a few hours ago. Words, not sticks nor stones nor blades nor guns, had turned my world around. Worse still those life shattering words were delivered by the man I had called father for so many years.

His voice still rung in my ears, “It’s all been a lie, but you will still serve a purpose.” What that mandated mission was, he never got to say. I ran as fast as the wind would carry me. I could have gone anywhere my legs could go, so why did I end up at my high school? Old habits die hard, I suppose. The ritual of going from class to class barely paying attention to a worn down slightly high or drunk “teacher” always seemed pointless. Today that feeling was merely confirmed. People passed in flashes around me as I ambled through the halls. I was invisible to the world. Maybe I always had been. It made sense all things considered. I just wanted to go back to before when I was an ignorant and happy fool.

I didn’t notice her at all. Hell, I barely registered her when she slammed straight into me. I definitely felt the ground as my back banged against it and her weight and warmth on my chest and stomach were not as erotic or soothing as one would think.

“I am so sorry. I didn’t see you,” she clamored as she tried to untangle herself from my body.

“No problem. As long as I can get up, so you know, get off,” I responded.

She managed to rise up. “Yeah, no need to be rude about it.” She offered her hand but I declined. My day had not lent itself to any kindness and I was in no mood to take or show any. “Fine.”

“You know being a jerk is a real turnoff.”

“Didn’t realize I was trying to flirt. With that failure I guess I’ll be off.”

She grabbed my arm before I could leave. “Wait.” I could have ran. Sure, she was fast, and pretty strong, whoever she was, but I still could have escaped. The weight of that single word and how she said it cemented my feet where they were.

“You seem troubled, like something is on your mind.” My face must have been easier to read than I thought even at a glance. I turned to face her. She wasn’t going to leave me in peace. No reason to make it easy for her.

“Good guess. Now can you let go of my arm?”

She responded as she released her grip. “A bit more than a guess and sorry.”

“You always this cryptic?”

“You always this evasive?”

“Heh, it’s been a shitty day.”

“I see. Doesn’t mean it has to have a bad ending.”

“Par for the course. Besides, how would you know what the day hol…” I hadn’t really looked at her till this moment. She could easily get lost in a crowd especially at this school, but up close with that sun kissed skin peppered with freckles like a star filled night sky she was unmistakable. As remarkable as her face was, it was her eyes that really caught me off guard.

“What’s wrong with your eyes?” I asked.

“What are you talking about?”

“They’re, like, a weird color or something.”

She seemed perplexed. “No, they’re a perfectly normal shade of blue.”

“Nah, they’re like a lightish grey.”

Her breath stopped and her eyes widened before she bolted. I was fast for my age but there was no way I would’ve caught up to her. I had no clue what had brought about this reaction and all I could do was shout an apology. “SORRY!?” I went back to my usual day pondering the chance meeting with the girl with the funny eyes.

It wasn’t till school was almost out that I found grey eyes again or maybe she found me for all I know. Her slight stride was distinctive on the cement in the courtyard. She walked straight up to me without hesitation.

“Do you really see my eyes as grey?”

“Yeah.”

“You shouldn’t.”

“What do you mean?”

“Not important. Why are you here? What is your purpose?”

“Purpose? My dad said that earlier. What the hell does that…?”

The sky turned dark as thunder boomed above us. I was not frightened though I knew I should be.

“What is going on?!” She asked. Her eyes once again widened in shock. “Where did you get that blade?”

I don’t know where the knife came from or why I plunged it into my chest. Only that it felt like the first right thing all day.

I could feel my blood pooling around me. The cold was numbing and comforting. I looked forward to the certainty the dark would provide. A whimper and tears kept me from falling fully in. Their warmth seared my cheek and would not let me slumber.

“Please…you have to tell me what is going on. Can it…can it be stopped.” I could barely make out her pained pleas. Even in the midst of anguish and fear I could not help but notice her delicate features and those damn odd eyes. “Don’t go, dammit! You can’t go…not yet.”

I couldn’t help but smile. I would’ve laughed but at this point breathing was becoming a burden. Yeah, I was going to be a bit of an asshole up till the end. Might as well go out the way you came, right?

I struggled to get my words out. “Nothing left. What’s done is…done. Try not to *cough* cry, odd eyes. Just let it come.” 

She closed her eyes and finally let herself scream. She would be the only thing I might miss. I think I was finally happy dying in her arms as I saw hell descend behind her.

 

The Sentry Gathers

Lessons from a Game

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/game-compulsion-part-3

I highly recommend watching the video linked above because otherwise the following post won’t make a lot of sense. Also, the entire series is just amazing and really discusses the significance and amazing power and potential of the video game medium. Moving on…

I have been fortunate enough to have just graduated from a postgraduate program from a recognized university. I say fortunate because of the opportunity provided from chance of birth into a country where such a possibility exists and to a family that cared to some degree about academic performance. Beyond those factors, I still worked my ass off (not literally unfortunately) in school to be able to obtain what I have. Of course, now I come to the cliched crossroads of not quite knowing where to go from here. I have followed the path I was supposed to by doing well in school, going to college, and even going beyond a BA. Granted I know studying the Humanities does not compare to obtaining a degree in the hard sciences, but there were supposedly to be some options. Now, I don’t know what to do because for the first time there is not a prescribed set plan.

I have tried to obtain employment in a myriad of fields and have been thus far rejected without any real reason other than the standard HR email. My peers, at least those few who I still on occasion speak to or see on a Facebook feed, seem to be leading productive or at the very least fulfilling lives. I don’t know if that is merely their choice in pictures or updates that gives this illusion or if they really do have their shit together. If so, I would much rather they post how they did that instead of the plethora of baby pictures, vacation photos, and random passive aggressive updates that no one understands. (Hmm…maybe those last individuals are not as together as I thought).

So in connection with the video posted above, seriously watch it, I fully understand the odd feeling of being totally lost. As a child, I had a projection of what I thought I wanted to do with my life, who I wanted to be, and what I wanted my life to be. For the most part, those seemingly foolish ideas never really altered. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a set plan or way to achieve those childish dreams. If you want to be a rocket scientist, you study rocket science in college and try to get a job as a rocket scientist, If you dreamed of being a gymnast, then you train your ass off to be a gymnast and see if you are skilled enough to compete and excel. I don’t really know how to obtain my dreams especially facing a not so insignificant amount of student loan debt. For those about to chastise me, it should be noted I maintained a 3.75 GPA or above and worked a full time job while attending college throughout grad school and also received grants/scholarships but school, especially a good one, is expensive.

So really at this point the purpose is to find and do something to achieve money and probably end up doing/being something that I may not want to in order to pay off shit. Is that all life has to offer now? The video linked discusses this concept in connection with video games and I can definitely relate to the experience of satisfaction and completion when playing video games. I suppose this rather long rant is, if boiled down, a fear of purposeless and worthlessness. After all, what have I really done and what can I possibly accomplish with the weight of my past choices quite literally following me around?

Older people at a certain age tend to become nostalgic for the good ole’ days. The common response from younger individuals, aka my generation, is “yeah it was awesome if you were a white, straight male”. Which admittedly is pretty true, but I think that criticism is too simplistic. Perhaps it is not the racism, sexism, gayism, etc. that these individuals miss, but the certainty of purpose and identity that the past held for them. They had a job to do, a family to care for, and various, admittedly external, stimuli and actions that gave them a purpose that is now kind of lost. Everything is now in constant flux with technological advances and major social upheavals that it is difficult to really put down roots and find a role in a community, much less in life. 

Obviously, these constant changes are not inherently bad, but they are at times nerve racking. I suppose all one can do is adjust or go the way of the dinosaurs. I wish I could end on a positive not here, but frankly that is not my current mind state and I am not really sure what a positive would sound like for this issue, so….

I apologize for the random and rather somber nature of this post. I realize I am kind of using this as a space for collecting my thoughts without any real major theme or thread. So I guess this is like some sort of journal or diary. Don’t know if that will change. Might try something different for the next post.

 

The Sentry Gathers…

Insomnia is a Bitch

Image

Pretty much what the title says. This is short and to the point. Had trouble sleeping which lead to a momentary burst in productivity followed by a long period of lethargy. I have traversed odd and disturbing corners of the internet in my dreary addled state. I need a nap. Hopefully it will come soon.

College’s Worth

A lot of discussion has been had concerning the value of a college degree in the current economic market. Article after article and study after study has been done arguing for both sides really, so no matter what your opinion is concerning a collegiate education you can find some evidence to support it. The primary discourse around the topic stems from the overall costs vs. the eventual rewards/benefits of a college degree, particularly concerning which major/degree plan is actually worth pursuing. The concept being that “frivolous” degrees in the humanities or liberal arts are the realm and purview of the affluent and privileged as they are supposedly not much more than posturing and intellectual masturbation at best. Obviously, if one is going to spend the money, time, and effort in pursuing higher education they should obtain a degree of actual value such as one in the “hard” sciences or business that will lead to certain employment. While I understand the argument for such a position, I am not concerned with discussing this particular aspect of higher education as I stated earlier whatever your opinion is you can find some evidence to support it and continuing said discussion will only lead further and further down the rabbit hole Alice.

Instead, I am more interested in discussing the intrinsic and  non-concrete value of college beyond simply the acquisition of a degree. Although obtaining a college degree does eventually lead to better employment and financial opportunities, this should not be the sole factor by which the collegiate experience is measured by. Growing up in a small town in Texas near the Mexican border, I was essentially and easily one of the smartest and accomplished students. I don’t say this as a means of ego or false hubris merely to establish the limited pool of comparison and opportunity where I originally called home. My singular goal growing up was to leave my hometown and go away to college as I believed that experience would undoubtedly be infinitely better than being where I was. In a way I was right, however, college also did a pretty good job of kicking my ass out of complacency. Whereas before I was excelling in the lead with minimal effort, in college I was not only not one of the smartest students on campus, I was rarely the brightest in the classroom. The knowledge that I went from cream of the crop to roughly above average was actually rather edifying and humbling. For the first time, I was not expected to have the answer. In fact, in many cases no one did and we had to work together to figure out what the right question was to begin with.

In college, I was legitimately tested and not just on an academic level. All my previous prejudices, beliefs, ideas, and worldview were challenged on a daily basis. Some were kept, a few left by the wayside, and most were altered or expanded. To be clear this was done of my own volition and not because of some nefarious professors or systems tried to force their perceptions upon my “feeble” mind. Truth be told I often disagreed with most of my professors and peers (I’ve always been a bit confrontational) but was always willing to discuss and adjust my perspective.  Still every day in college brought about a new experience and opportunity to learn and grow that other locations and experiences simply do not afford. After all, where else do you have a microcosm of truly diverse individuals with nearly completely different endgames. For the most part, you will see the same people with the same goals from kindergarten to graduation and work environment rarely have the diversity and opportunity provided on a college campus. Essentially, college is like going to a different country every semester where you have to learn new rituals, rules, customs, and languages while trying to engage with new people and systems. All this is done during some of your most formative years in an attempt to begin to answer some of life’s most profound questions: Who am I really? What is my purpose? What am I supposed to do with my life? What really interests me? Etc.? Obviously, these questions are not really answered in college, but they do begin to be asked in earnest.

Is college getting too expensive? Of course. Should something be done to better regulate such costs and improve the overall experience? Definitely. Is college meant to lead into a career or profitability? In part, but college is much more than just a diploma at the end of four, maybe five or six, years of coursework. It is a unique opportunity to truly learn beyond the basic lessons taught in high school and to begin to find your actual identity and purpose. I am not saying that you shouldn’t pursue a degree in Project Management with the goal of landing the sweet gig after graduation if that is what you really want, but merely that when measuring college more should be put on the scales than the profit margin of diploma.

 

What Am I Doing Here?

Wow, time really flew by since I attempted to begin this…whatever this is supposed to be in January. I could come up with a myriad of reasons (i.e. excuses) as to why I haven’t written as much as I wanted to like finishing up my degree, working, trying to find further stable employment, insert other poorly thought out excuse here, etc., but really I am just at a loss of what to do with this space. I mean how does one write a blog without sounding self-centered or absorbed. I am not someone famous who wants to state the entirety of their lives and opinions in a public space, though I suppose that would now be Twitter, nor am I trying to promote any upcoming projects or business ventures, so what really can I accomplish with this writing and really why should anyone care.

After considering this slightly idiotic, extremely “First World problem”, I came to the conclusion(s) that I still have no idea what to make or do with this blog and that I don’t care anymore. To be more precise, I am no longer concerned with what this blog should be or contain and am more geared toward just actually creating and expressing something. So, this space will be for whatever the hell I feel it should be whether that be random posts/thoughts on video games, comics, literature, tech, or just some other facet of pop culture/life I am interested in or a comic or possibly a yarn of my own imagination. All that matters is that something is written and I know at least one person (you know who you are) that will keep me to that. Follow along. It will definitely be something.

 

The Sentry gathers…