Stalled Engine 

So tomorrow is the first day of the new career training whatever. I'm still not entirely sure what to call it, what name to give it when I describe it to myself. Regarding my general life transition, of which this school thing is just a part, I discover I alternate between moments of a sort of muted malaise about the whole deal to moments of feeling adrift at sea. Emotionally, I feel like one of those cold rainless but cloudy days where everything is tinged with grey. I feel like I should somehow be doing something that yields more fertile results, accomplishes something I can look back on with satisfaction. Which is not at all to say that I have been unproductive. I've actually done some important things at work. I've even been reading a couple of novels at home, Graham Greene's The Quiet American for one. But, for the most part, life feels like it has stalled.

Perhaps this school thing will start the engine again. Today, I worked the Sunday shift down at the shop and continued on my assigned writing project. I've been researching the concept of business models and how to implement or refine them. After work, I wound up helping my dad hang some new shelves for the garage area. The longest part of that particular job is figuring out how to get the stinking doors to hang perfectly, and believe me, unless you have tried to do it yourself, you can't imagine how hard that actually is. While we were steadily working on those doors, four deer stepped out of the darkness, walked through the driveway, and stepped back into it again. It was sort of neat to see. The crazy cat, who I'm going to call "Bonkers" for the time being, decided that she would attempt to chase them. The functioning half of her brain apparently decided against a chase once she saw how large the deer were. That's it for now. Time to get to bed at a somewhat decent hour in order to be prepared for tomorrow.

24 September 2006

A Character from a Thomas Mann Novel 

Today, I managed to get up earlier than usual, so after making myself breakfast and taking a shower, I was able to feel like I was "up" for the day. There is a kind of lethargy that overtakes me after I eat breakfast: definitely a bad habit that I need to break. I resisted the urge to go back to bed.

The major accomplishment of today was getting ready for the new round of classes on Monday. This is going to be a career change, somewhat unwanted, that has all of the attendant fears and regrets that go along with an unwanted career change.

Let me explain a little bit. Last night, I watched a long PBS documentary about Andy Warhol. I liked it, but I really got involved with the description of Valerie Solanas' near fatal shooting of Andy shortly after his Silver Factory days (1968). I had watched the movie I Shot Andy Warhol on television awhile ago, and consequently I was sort of interested in the whole shooting episode, looking forward to a more documentary and less narrativizing approach. (The movie was good on its own terms, but I don't think it really portrayed the extent of Solanas' mental illness.) In any event, the documentary made a point to note how even though Warhol's near death had a brutal and devastating impact on him, he pressed forward with his art anyway. It appeared to be the only thing that he could do. To me, it seemed he had a simple choice after surviving the gunshot wounds: to either accept death and die quietly at home or to go forward and live life the only way he knew how. My circumstances are nowhere near as dramatic, but I have definitely felt a tremendous emotional impact (read: grief) over my late problems. But, the lesson here is that even in the worst moments of life, there is only really one choice: to let life's setbacks smash you in the face and stop you cold or to continue to move forward as best you can. Dogged determination to take tentative steps forward and another and then another even though you feel you're steadily losing ground. I am taking these kind of steps forward, even though I would prefer the impossible: to somehow go back in time and fix my earlier problems and lessen their impact. (Actually, as time does go forward, I am feeling less intense regret about the loss of my previous career path and more mild sadness. Thoughts of time travel occur with much less frequency.)

So, I went to campus to made the usual pre-class rituals--buy books, pay for classes, pay for the parking permit, etc. After several years of school, I'm no longer anxious about the first day like I used to be. In fact, standing in all of the usual lines which go with the college experience, I'm beginning to feel somewhat old. A few years ago, I could pretend I was just an old pro in the student world, but now I'm starting to feel vaguely ridiculous. Most of the other "students" are now nearly half my age. Despite this, I am hoping to do well in the upcoming term. I have a perfectionist streak and a bucket full of good intentions that sometimes make it difficult to not crack under pressure. The grand total of these college expenses are approximately $625, all of which is now on my new credit card. Monday is the first day. The first day of which I hope is the start of a new career path.

22 September 2006


There is something magically compelling about the keyboard of my laptop to the cat. For some reason, despite the several square feet of sitting and sleeping space that abounds around her, she really only wants to sit on the few square inches of my fragile keyboard. Perhaps there is something about the static electricity in her fur that aligns her with expensive electronics, or maybe she just harbors a grudge against me and amuses herself by this petulant behavior. She sees my reaching to move her away from the computer as an invitation to play. Consequently, my right hand has more than a few scratches and bites. I suppose I should see this as some kind of subtle hint to spend less time on the computer as I tend to waste a lot of my time with it.

Aside from the somewhat comical struggles I've had with the cat, I've been having more serious frustrations on a number of fronts lately. I'm not entirely sure if I've followed the roots of all these frustrations to their ultimate source, but if I had to guess, I think they stem from my transition from my previous career path as an English scholar to a new and more uncertain one as a Graphic Artist. As crazy as it may sound to some, I really enjoyed reading obscure novels and abstruse literary theory, writing long papers, and generally thinking critically about those aforesaid things. Most of my personal relationships have suffered because I can't keep control of these frustrations all of the time, or because I can't express them as eloquently as I would like.

Today, I spent most of my time in bed researching for some projects at work. I couldn't motivate myself to take a shower or go into town. I've had a few headaches and been a little more fatigued than usual, both of which could be a result of my forgetting to take my medicine on a regular schedule. Tomorrow (well, technically today after a night's sleep), I am going to be in my previous college town for most of the day. I am not 100% sure what I am going to do, but I will probably take some time to look around maybe even see a movie.

Yesterday, I drove into the capitol and I picked up my portfolio from the Visual Communications department. For some unsupported reason, I was expecting to receive feedback about my portfolio submissions, at least some indication of where my strengths/weaknesses were, but there was nothing. I'm not too disappointed, especially the director of the program indicated she would be out of town for awhile during the overview session I attended last month. I logged into the registration website and signed up for a couple of classes today. In a couple more weeks, I should have a report about what they are like and what I expect to get out of them. I am looking forward to learning about the vector illustration software they use. I hope this will be challenging enough to be worth the money and time investment.

In any event, on the personal level, I am going to start seriously working on how to keep my frustrations in order so they don't overwhelm me. (By the way, it should be said that these frustrations aren't the daily minor ones that everyone faces every day, but major ones that grow out of life's regrets and failings.) I used to ignore these kinds of bothersome things by saying to myself that whatever was irritating me didn't really matter all that much in the long run, or that my frustration was somehow a personal failure to interact properly with the person who was involved in the bad emotion. And maybe there still is some use to this type of coping as long as it doesn't develop into full blown denial. But really, I think I need to figure out how to accept these frustrations and move on without causing some kind of havoc in my life and the lives of those around me. I've (inadvertently) caused enough havoc today.

07 September 2006