Growing Pains

Wow! I suck at posting so far this year. Have not touched this thing in at least 6 weeks. Not really sure why, but part of it is probably due to my uncertainty as to what to do with this thing exactly. Last year, I tried a thrice a week post schedule with specific topics/ideas for each day. I actually enjoyed the structure of the writing, yet I don’t know if I should keep it up within that parameter. I could revert to a more personal journal or blog style, but the random posting of whenever I feel like it does not really appeal to me at the moment. Plus, I will probably not post much if I do. So, not sure what I will do, but I think I’ll figure something out soon.

That’s kind of what this year has been so far even though it’s only been two months. I had made a few moves to get the hell out of dodge, so to speak. So far, I have only received rejection. It sucks, obviously, but it has not been as bad or devastating as I thought it would have been. Perhaps even just a few years ago, I would have been broken for a bit and stewed in my bitterness for awhile. Now, I read the rejections, made a mental not of their “suckage”, and went to perform my job minutes later. (Should be noted that I did kick some ass at work that day)

I guess that’s called ‘growth’ or something. Honestly, it was simply that I still need to leave my current circumstances and those avenues were closed off. I did what I could and it was not enough for those opportunities. That’s fine. All that really means is that I have to rely on other avenues that I am working on. Maybe that’s what I had trouble understanding before: that sometimes, no matter your efforts, things won’t workout simply because they won’t. At that point, I can wallow or move on and do something else. Before, I would do the former, but now I concentrate more on the latter. We’ll see if that makes a difference. If not, I’ll try something else. Not much else to do.

Time to get to work.

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Lessons From…Watsky [Tiny Glowing Screens Pt. 2]

Spoken word is probably not everyone’s cup of tea. Spoken word in rap form with a hook and music attached is most likely even more niche. Add to that the fact that it is a dorky looking white boy performing a spoken word rap on YouTube and I imagine that most will be put off from the whole video.

However, I strongly recommend you listen (actually listen) to it in its entirety before passing judgement. Considering the short length and slightly interpretive nature of poetry, I will not be conducting a point by point breakdown of this one. Instead, I hope you will hear it and come up with your own conclusions, possibly even stating them in the comments.

Again, I don’t want to simply state my assessment on this one, but I will say that at least one of the lessons to take away is to have audacity and belief because it beats out the alternatives. Or as Watsky puts it:

"And I have the audacity to think I matter I know it’s a lie but I prefer it to the alternative"

“And I have the audacity to think I matter
I know it’s a lie but I prefer it to the alternative”

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

On Outside Influence

So I recently wrote on my interest and appreciation of Salem and why I enjoyed the series. While I like show in general, there was something that kept bugging me as I was seeing it. It took awhile but I finally figured out what rubbed me the wrong way about the show; the witches. Or more specifically the witches’ power and control without hindrance.

Seriously, they can manipulate circumstances, harm people, and utterly control others through their magic and there is not really any defense against their powers. It is basically an embodiment of powerlessness. Everyone else in Salem is at the mercy and whims of a select few who have supernatural abilities. They are killed, suffer weird curses, and lose loved ones and property because of the machinations of the coven of witches in Salem.

I was trying to figure out why this bugged me so much and I finally realized that it is because it is a little too real and honest. No, really. As much as we want to envision our lives as strict results of our actions and choices, in reality so much of our life is determined by forces we have little to no control over. In this country, our laws are created and voted on by a fraction of the population that really is not a fair sampling of the country. Most of the economy is dictated and governed by a select few corporations and individuals.

Of course, in this case we are supposed to be rooting for the witches since they have been hunted and oppressed, but to me, there really are not any “good” guys on this particular show. Which can work in a lot of cases and, to be fair, Salem is still entertaining even without obvious heroes. Still, am I wrong for being a little irritated by the reminder that powerful people and forces govern aspects of my life without any real recourse against them? Or am I just reading way too much into a simple television show? (I have been accused of such a thing before)

Lessons From…Satoru Iwata

If you have not heard, Satoru Iwata, the current President and CEO of Nintendo Corp., died on July 11, 2015 in Kyoto, Japan due to medical complications from a tumor in his bile duct. The next day, word spread of the tragic loss and gamers and game enthusiasts the world over mourned the loss to the industry and the spirit of Iwata and what he represented, not only for Nintendo, but for the entire games industry.

For all the criticisms and complaints lauded at Nintendo over the last few years, it is still an influential force in video games and without the company, it is very likely that the industry would not be the powerhouse of entertainment that it is. While he may not have been there since its inception, Iwata was the man in charge for the last 15 years and responsible for Nintendo’s direction, both good and bad.

He understood this and never faltered under the pressure or attention his actions and decisions would receive. He was an anomaly as far as the concept of CEO’s goes, at least in the U.S. When his company’s projections were low, he took a massive pay cut instead of letting hundreds of employees go. He kept developing and programming even after he became the CEO of Nintendo. And he was always engaging with the fans and audience because he still, after rising so high and so many years, saw himself as simply a gamer.

There is much to learn from this man’s incredible life and mind and it is probably best left up to him to impart his knowledge. So, in this case, I’ll leave you with a collection of this man’s wisdom. And a short tribute:

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

On Stagnation and Progress (Or Lack Thereof)

Feel like I am in another rut recently with no clue how to get out of it or make any form of progress toward some sort of foreseeable future. I am trying not to complain or fall into a pit of despair and/or depression, but it is not an easy thing. And frankly it is getting harder and harder. I’ve managed to not go full bat shit crazy with the writing and drawing serving as creative distractions and soul filling activities. The occasional trip to see old comrades and commiserate also helps immensely. Unfortunately, I know that will eventually not be enough.

Basically, I need a major change and have no clue how to make it happen. It seems so simple on paper, right? Want to change something? Just do it. But then reality sinks in and you realize that you have bills, loan payments, rent, and other crap that requires money, time, and resources. Essentially, the whole ‘being a responsible adult with actual life shit’ kind of gets in the way of pursuit of goals/dreams/etc.

Either way, I know I won’t last too much longer. Something needs to change, and soon.

Admittedly, this was pretty much just a weird rant. Anyone have any ideas as to how to get out of a life rut? (I’ll try practically anything at this point)

Lessons From…The Last (by Childish Gambino)

So, to be fair, I have posted before about a song from Childish Gambino, but I seem to gravitate toward his music. Maybe it has something to do with my admiration of his multiple talents (comedian, actor, rapper, songwriter, etc.) or how I relate to anyone else who happens to be an awkward, nerdy, POC with seemingly predominantly white friends and colleagues. I honestly don’t know, yet here we find ourselves once more.

Here is the song that has been playing on my computer/iTunes/iPod for the last few days and got me thinking way too much about non-school work related stuff.

Really you should listen to whole song, repeatedly, but what has had particular effect on myself has been the last line:

“I’m here for a good, not a long, time”

Considering this is a rap song, most would probably think this refers to simply living a life of luxury, ease, and excess. However, with the lyrics of the rest of the song, you realize it actually deals more with creating a legacy and presence and how such focus, desire, and work tends to end lives early with not many of the standard items of a typical, “fulfilled” life.

It’s the classic choice between quantity or quality, greatness or simplicity, a raging fire or a long burning candle. Do you want to leave a mark in the world and history if only for a moment or would you prefer a comfortable life filled with friends, family, children, and, hopefully, the standard comforts of modern life? Is there an option where both are obtainable or will there always be a divide among the two?

I think how you answer these questions says more about your personal views of artistry and a creative life than the possibility of a singular, true answer. Either way whether you choose the good time, the long time, or attempt some amalgamation of both, it is simply the first step, and it is up to you to still make the most of it. Perhaps, that is the true key of my fascination and admiration of Childish Gambino because he is certainly an individual working his ass off and trying to make the most of his time alive regardless if it is good, long, or both.

Thus endeth today’s lesson.

On Retention & Application

I was playing Borderlands on a friend’s Steam account last week. If you have not played the game or started your own Steam account, what the hell have you been doing with your life?! Seriously, it is such a fun game, and Steam lets you access virtually every major title available, and an impressive slew of indie titles, right from the convenience of your computer. Go get both, now!

Truth be told, I have never been much of a PC gamer personally. Could not really be one without a halfway decent rig, and they were not as affordable when I was younger as they are now. Suffice to say, I was raised on a console and will die gripping a controller in one hand while flipping the bird with the other. (This should be taken as a legitimate desire to be added to any last will and testament. Anyone who reads this qualifies as a witness. Please and thank you)

Anyhow, I was playing the game and managed to get farther in an hour or two than my friend who had been playing the game for about a week. Now, to be fair, he is not the greatest gamer out there, but then again neither am I. The major difference is that I have more experience playing games in general than he does. See, he is of the traditionally “good looking” variety. Thus, his adolescence was spent primarily going to parties, dating, and being social while I read and played video games at home. Yeah, I, at times, do not fully understand our relationship either.

Still my background gave me the skill set and understanding of how to intuitively approach the game and controls even though I had never played Borderlands before and had never really used a keyboard and mouse to play games. Whereas he struggled, I excelled. This is not meant as a means of bragging or bravado. I was just as surprised as he was that I adjusted to the game so quickly. However, I should not have been so astonished since games have a specific literacy that comes from playing them, much like anything else.

It is similar to how once you learn to ride a bike, you never really forget. In fact, you can pretty much ride any bike after figuring it out the first time. Your body memorized the mechanics of keeping balance on the bicycle and how to keep it while moving without requiring active engagement. There are various skills we pick up throughout our lives that we are not even aware of. I cannot for the life of me remember how or when I learned to read, but I devour books of all types and levels with little to no difficulty. (Same thing with basic math for some weird reason)

Of course, these soft skills are applicable to other aspects of life. I use the innate trial and error and understanding that comes from playing video games to solve problems and issues in the real world. Amazingly, it actually does help in most situations. We all have these weird little skills and tricks we picked up from somewhere along the way. They help us manage our lives and deal with the various obstacles we face.

So what random skills have you managed to develop? How do you randomly apply them in your life?