With the encumbrance of McDonald's behind me, I finally regained the vigor to node today.

After about a year of fruitless applications to innumerable computer jobs with only sporadic income from working as a substitute teacher, I had depleted my resources about two months ago and realized I needed funds acutely.

I blame the mismanagement of this country, but my mother has been out of a job for quite some time too (she got laid off after 20 years in the company because of its transient financial problems that have now been resolved) and can't seem to get a new one because she is overqualified. Me, on the other hand, I have only two High School diplomas and a few computer-related jobs to support my applications, so I am not qualified enough.

Anyway, figuring my mother has been able to get unemployment benefits, I finally decided I should try to get it too. I am unemployed, and as such, I should be able to get it, right? I don't like our system with heavy taxes and subsidies, so I tried to avoid being a part of it (at least its receiving end, as it's the only one that can be evaded) for as long as possible, but when I have no money to pay the taxes with, I thought maybe I could benefit a little from all the money I put into the system.

No, nay, ne'er! Dragging myself to the unemployment office, the official bluntly told me that, because they want to keep unemployment statistics down to dupe the people into re-electing the socialist government (okay, that part wasn't explicitly stated), I could enter into the system if I liked to, but I couldn't get any money until after a certain period of time. Also, I would be given help to look for a job during this period of time, but since there are very few computer-related jobs available, they would mainly refer me to janitorial jobs and similarly demanding and prestigeous positions.

Furthermore, come the time when I would theoretically start to receive money, because I am only fluently bilingual with two international High School diplomas featuring university preparatory computer courses and prior experience in several international computer companies as well as having consulting experience, I would be forced to take a job at McDonald's or get kicked out of the system before receiving any money at all. So in the choice of waiting on a zero budget to be forced into McDonald's or applying directly, I decided to bite the bullet.

They hired me instantly and talked about promotion from day one. I had told them I am nocturnal, so after a fortnight of mid-day shifts, I was put on the night shift with more responsibilities, such as stowing everything for the night, accounting for the waste, and most importantly, accounting for the inventories. Not to mention that, at that time, I would generally be working the kitchen on my own. This is in one of the country's highest-selling restaurants and McDrives.

I acquired the rudimentary skills quickly, and after two days I knew how to work all the stations in the kitchen. I found myself taking charge, leading and teaching those who had been hired in the batch of applicants of which I was a part. Some of my "superiors" were very pleased with my work, but others, to whom I listened more, were less forbearing of my mistakes. Personally, I felt I couldn't live up to the expectations of high quality while producing at insane speeds in a severely understaffed kitchen.

Every day was arduous and left me sleeping way into the afternoon until shortly before my next shift commenced. The only mitigating circumstance was the fact that, because I worked the night shift, my free time awake was before work, not after it, when I would be completely spent. Still, working oneself to exhaustion, acquiring more and more interesting burns and cuts and finding new meanings of the word pain while getting the aforementioned cuts and burns burned again; or soaked in vinegar; or covered in mustard and salt and pepper, when feeling inadequate in fulfilling one's task, one finds oneself with a simple wish.

That simple wish is the wish for a feeling of at least working for a good cause. Alas, flipping burgers for a multinational conglomerate of grease does not instill this feeling in me, notwithstanding the amount of glossy propaganda they shove at me and expect me to read in my spare time.

It was starting to get to me. I was being rude to the few friends I keep in touch with online. I didn't interact with any friends in real life, so there was no opportunity to be rude to anybody that way. When a little over a month in hell had passed, necklace commanded me to quit my job. So I did.

The official reason was that I felt that I was not the right person for the job. The real reason was that the job is not right for anyone. I will never eat at McDeadCow's again. The place is despicable. Most employees actually follow the strict regulations to ensure that the food is safe, but you never know when the person who does not is there, and after seeing the grease dripping off a QP burger or the cold bacon that is put on the Super McFeast and heated by the meat alone, you would not want to eat there either.

So Friday was my last day. My two-week period of notice was up, and my resignation went into effect. nocte told me I seemed happier already, and I had been trying to conceal my unhappiness while working there all along. I suppose I was not very successful.

And yes, I do feel happier. Tomorrow I will go back to substitute teaching. It gives about as little money as McDick's per hour, and it's nowhere near full time, but working with kids is a lot more stimulating than shooting catsoup at burgers, and it's at least a little bit of money. I don't cost a lot, anyway. McDork's still hasn't paid me my salary, but I have a load of cash to live off after a couple of stock index funds expired, so except for the lingering feeling of alienation, I am doing fine.

I will apply to a few universities in Australia early this week. I need to get my ass out of this dark, cold, Soviet replica excuse-for-a-country before its winters deprive me of the little sanity that remains. I have calculated that I will accumulate a debt equalling about 40,000 U.S. dollars, but it should be worth it. With a double Bachelor, I will feel justified when I paint the walls with the head of the next unemployment office official who tells me to flip burgers.

It was great to be back. The kids are nice (most of them, most of the time); working with people calms me. Two little girls got themselves hurt while playing outside on two occasions. I got them both to stop crying instantly by telling them my secret trick: breathe calmly and think of clouds and crazy little piglets. Works every time.

Tomorrow I am teaching an older group of kids at the school I used to attend myself. They're older than the ones I have taught before, and some of the subjects are not my strongest. I'm nervous. It will be fun though. I am booked most of the week already, and it's still Monday. This looks auspicious.

I must say, today was an interesting day. Woke up early, traveled the two and a half hours that it takes to get to my grandfather's house, and picked and stripped concord grapes. Why you might ask? To can grape juice…..of course. So after that, and an interesting meal…don’t ask what it was…it was nasty…. We proceeded to drive the two and a half hours back. =) all in a days work.

Arriving home, in time to do my homework, and successfully keep my one friend up past the godly hours of the night; I stumbled upon an issue. Yes, we all know about this dark plague that stalks the halls of E2……the horrid way that Daylogs are treated.

See, daylogs are used by many as an emotional outlet. We should all know about this. Sometimes, it is good to just write about our lives. Maybe someday, someone will find it interesting and useful… I don’t know, I like reading stories from the past. Everything is a Community, and our people share part of their souls when they write daylogs; most of the time that is. So, I suppose my point is…. I don’t understand why they get such a bad rap, because they should be valued as little windows into people's lives.

I understand that people need to dump votes, and the best way to do so is with daylogs, but is it necessary to downvote w/u's that took time, energy, and sometimes real soul searching to create? I don't think so, and I think it is awful that is happens anyway. E2 should appreciate real talent, not the McFlurries out there. I realize that talent is in the eye of the beholder. And I realize that no matter what I say, daylogs will always be downvoted; it is life. But, if I could beg you to please read them first… read them. Decide if it is good or not by looking… Not everything will be good, but sometimes there is a gem in there. I donno, and sometimes I wish I did know how to fix the problems that we face in life, problems such as this.

I know that my daylog isn't going to change anything. And I realize that. But sometimes venting about how unfair it is makes me feel better. *shrugs*. I realize this prolly isn't the best organized log in the world, I am dealing with conflicting feelings. I simply wish I could convey how I think that some real talent is being overlooked. This isn’t about xp, this isn't about downvotes. Those are just symptoms of the bigger problem. If I could implore you to seek out a new friend, and find out about them… read their daylogs, and encourage them, this would be that plea. Thanks.

On further note, I got my French homework done. =) Je nage comme le poisson. *grins*

no, this isn't a plea for upvotes, luckily I have had a good group of friends who have seen the "talent" of my babbling nodes. This is a small plea for the people out there to look around them and discover the truly remarkable nodes that are out there….waiting to be found.

I'm quitting my job today. For some reason I feel nervous about it, even though I know that I should be okay financially for a little while, and even though I haven't enjoyed this job or found it fulfilling for a long time. It's nearly eleven in the morning, and I find myself putting it off in my mind, thinking "I'll do it in an hour, or maybe just after lunch." I have no reason to be nervous - I don't think anyone is going to be angry with me, or even particularly regret that I'm going.

It's strange timing on my part - my company is just about to move out to a business park very close to where I live. On the other hand, it's perfect timing, because it's just after the 1-year mark, after which I get to keep shares that I have in the company. So if it ever does well, gets taken over, etc, I could make a lot of money. Of course, I could stay longer and keep even more shares, but I don't think I can do that.

The main reason for leaving is that Lindsay and I are planning to move to the States in winter, but I'm handing in my notice at least a month earlier than necessary, because I can't stand it here any more. I've lost some strength in my mouse hand and have started using the mouse left-handed. My eyes are becoming strained from staring at the screen all day. I don't enjoy the work I'm doing - from interesting, relational database design work, I've been reduced to mindless duplication of ASP.NET and VB.NET code and repetitious, painstaking results testing which makes me want to throw up on my keyboard. If I get the bus to work, it's usually eight o'clock or later by the time I get home, and I'm tired and stressed and in a bad mood, which affects my relationship with Lindsay. Recently I've been cycling to work, which is much nicer and puts me in a good mood, but it's about 10 miles and I'm not able to do it every day yet, and especially not when it's raining.

We were supposed to move at the end of June. Then July. Then August. Then September. Now October. Just like were supposed to release version 2.0 of the software in May. Then July. Then September, now October. As I like my job less and less, my productivity has gone steadily downwards, to the point where it's now not an unusual thing for me to spend 90% of my time before lunch playing chess on the Internet, followed maybe by writing a node after lunch, playing some more chess, and doing just enough work to keep myself from getting fired. All of this has made me feel like I have no purpose here - I'm just a test rat running a maze to get food. Plus, my boss has noticed that my work has been suffering, and he doesn't like it, and tells me, which makes me feel even worse, because there is no way for me to improve. I can't make myself care about the work any more.

If I quit now, after I finish working my month's notice period I will be able to go about two months before I need to get another job. That should be enough time for my Visa application to go through, and we will be in the states, backed up by money that my dad has promised us. If the visa takes longer, or is refused for some reason, then I guess I can get another job. And in the meantime I can get some serious writing done, and get really organised about sending away poems and stories. I can be a house-husband and take care of Lindsay while she works (she's going to an interview tomorrow and it looks like she'll probably get it).

I've been working for four years now with occasional holidays, and it's starting to get to me. I wake up between seven and eight every morning whether it's a weekday or not, and no matter how late I stay up the previous night. I spend a lot of time on anxious thoughts - I worry about money and security, how things will turn out in the future. I distract myself with compulsive activities - chess is a big one. Before you laugh at that idea, consider the case of someone who will play bullet chess (1 minute each for all moves) for 5 hours, until his fingers are numb, his eyes are sore and his brain is traumatized, and still want to keep going. I do it because I am stuck here in this office, and it's sunny outside, and my brain doesn't want to do this work any more, and I need to distract myself from all of these things. All this is scary to me because I am not like this unless I'm very unhappy, and I think I've been avoiding admitting to myself how unhappy I am because I needed the money from the job.

When I started working, it was almost as a joke. I was the biggest hippy you can imagine - I had long hair, I juggled obsessively, smoked pot, lived in a dirty, smelly house with four fellow jugglers, hung around Leeds university, and didn't want to do anything except write and chill out have friends, and maybe get enlightened, if it wasn't too much effort. I only took the first job because someone offered it to me, and I had nothing better to do. I thought it couldn't hurt. I didn't cut my hair, but I did buy a suit and stopped smoking so much pot, and made the amazing discovery that I really liked databases. My life began to change totally as I discovered how amazing it was to feel the power of being able to provide for myself and being disciplined enough to hold down a steady job. It was all stuff that I really needed to learn in my life, and I don't regret any of it, but my natural personality is starting to reassert itself in a way that I can't ignore any longer. This may mean that I'm never going to be "financially secure". An Indian friend once read my palm, and told me that I would never want for money to the extent that I would be starving or homeless, but that I would also never be able to hang on to money. It would pass through me freely.

A friend of mine recently gave up a €400+/day IT contracting career to take a 6-month cooking course and try to become a chef. He's currently unemployed in West Cork, having quit two minimum-wage cooking jobs, but planning to open his own restaurant in March 2003. He's pretty scared about the future, but he knows he's doing what he wants to do. I don't know if I'll work in computers again - when we go to the states I might have to for a while at least, until we get settled - but I know that I've come to the end of the road right now. I can't make myself work any harder or care any more. I've got the beginnings of CTS and I don't want it to get worse, or to go short-sighted over a job I don't even want. And I need time to write, because when I'm not writing I feel like a blocked pipe.

So I guess I should stop talking about it and go do it. I'll post an update later.

UPDATE: I did it! It was much nicer than I thought it would be - my boss apologised for criticizing me and told me that on the whole he was very happy with my work, and that he hoped I wasn't leaving because of what he said to me. He even promised to write me a glowing reference. I feel very good now. I'm going to call Lindsay.

So I'm doing it. No backing out now, I've put too much time and effort into it. I'm going to pursue publication of my first short story. Officially. As in, I expect to get paid for this shit.

I wrote the story a long time ago- almost a year and a half ago. It was originally called "Look Before You Leap; Wait While You Watch." It was told in the third person and seemed to really drag through the narrative. The title, also, seemed a little too long for my tastes. So it sat around, languishing for far too long before I finally sat down and rewrote it. Between the time of the initial first version and the rewrite, I spent a lot of time dicking around here at E2, learning about "the business", honing my writing skills some more and generally starving.

Then, a few months ago, I opened it up totally by accident. When it came up on my laptop's screen, I decided, "Oh, what the hell. It needs to be rewritten anyway and it is a good story, even if poorly written." You see, I was looking for stories that I felt confident enough about to send out. I was looking for something else entirely, but this one came up. Luck of the draw, I guess.

I rewrote it entirely. It's something like a cross between an interview transcript and a first-person narrative. The revised name is "Jumper" and it completely satisfies me. I rewrote, edited, hacked and slashed until I felt that it was "perfect" (honestly... what story is perfect?). Then I set about the task of browsing through some book stores, perusing their magazine racks for any sci-fi anthologies that accepted new stories/authors. After that, I went to the websites of the four magazines I had picked out and paid very close attention to their writer's guidelines. A few more edits later and it was ready. All I had to do was print it out.

But I don't own a printer. On top of that, I'm broke more often than not, so I couldn't afford to go to Kinkos and pay some exorbitant amount of money just to print out 40 lousy pages. What to do, right? Well, having friends is a good thing, when one is in need. I asked gihran, who at the time was hanging around at Cafe Coco as often as I was, if he would be so kind as to print it up for me. He agreed, took a floppy disk copy of the story and then...

...he pretty much fell off the map for about a month.

He finally showed up with a printed copy for me, but it turned out that the formatting was all wrong. I mean, really wrong. Apparently, he doesn't have a current version of Microsoft Word (and I saved it in Word97 format just in case, but he has Word95... natch). So I resaved the story in the proper format and sent it to him via email, with the understanding that he would view it on the computer first to make sure that the formatting was correct, then print it up and bring it back to me in a few days.

Another month later...

toastido called him for me tonight (my cell phone is down for the count) and asked him to bring it to the cafe. The story was printed, yes, and he'd shown up here a few times in the last few weeks but had forgotten to put it in his car. He showed up an hour or so later, my story in hand, and apologized profusely for the delay.

I should have griped at him. I should have chewed him a new asshole for making me wait so damn long. But I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Late though he was, he did do me a favor and saved me a large sum of money. I checked it over for formatting, which was perfect, and thanked him.

Tonight, right after I leave Cafe Coco, I'm going to stop by Kinkos and buy two manila envelopes (one to send the story and the other to put with the story- can't forget that SASE!). Having done that, I will stop by the post office and send the damn thing off to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.

From there it could be anyone's guess as to what will happen. If it gets rejected, I have some other places I can send the story off to. But, by God, I'm going to get this thing published if it's the last thing I ever do! It's my dream and all part of a bigger plan in my life. It's what I've always wanted to do and I will not be denied my dreams!

I'm tired of being a writer. I want to be an author instead. A writer merely writes. An author gets paid for it.

An unexpected surprise at work
I have been away from the office on a 2 week vacation, and am due to return today. I am a consultant on a long term support assignment at a bank in the City of London.

In Saturday's mail, I received a letter from my consultancy boss asking me to come in to the office on Monday morning, before going to the client. Uh oh! I say to myself. Maybe the client has pulled out of the deal. Whom have I upset?

For my own peace of mind, I call my boss over the weekend - he tells me that all contractors and outside service providers are having their rates cut - that this is what it is all about (but this will not affect my pay cheques). But, he still wants me to come in to the office first thing on Monday. I sleep easy for two nights, and travel in to the consultancy office.

I arrive at the office and meet with the boss to learn the news. Apparently Daniel, whom the consultancy put on site during my absence, is doing so well at the clients' that they want to retain him instead of me. I consider this, and I realise that Daniel has certain technical skills that I do not - but I have specialist knowledge.

During the two days before I went away, I was briefing him on some of this. It seems that I did a good job - the client seems very satisfied. My boss was quite apologetic, and also hopeful that we can expand the support operation to include both myself and Daniel. He also arranged for the three of us to meet at a bar at lunch time.

We met, and everything is cosy. Also I have some reported feedback from the boss at the clients, that I have done nothing wrong. I am left thinking that here is a snafu client who makes decisions without thinking them through. Time will tell whether they show interest or the situation gets worse.

A couple of things have happened these past few weeks.

French class is going great. I'm understanding more and more of the language every session, and I am actually kinda able to carry a simple conversation. I'm able to write more than simple sentences, but the teacher gave me my first composition back without a score and a little note: "This is WAY TOO ADVANCED for what we have covered so far. We need to talk after class." So I talked to her, and dispelled any fears she had that I was cheating by explaining how I wrote the darned thing and translating it word by word for her, but she said I had to re-do it anyway, but simpler, because she didn't want me to be too far ahead of the rest of the class. Now, I don't know if I'm being selfish and idiotic, but I got really pissed. I mean, everyone should go at their own pace, and i have the advantage of having a romance language being my native tongue. *shrug* Whatever. I have another composition due in today, and I haven't written it yet. I'm just going to jerryrig something together and hope it doesn't exceed her low standards.

Things with the boy are going fine, but, as usual, I wonder about our relationship around PMSing time. I wonder if maybe he's taking me for granted because I've made myself too available to him. But then he goes and says something really weird and sweet like last night:

"You know, if I was crazy, and a painter, I'd cut my ear off and mail it to you. That's how much I love you. You don't have to worry though. I'm not crazy, and I'm definitely not a painter."

Now, I'm not exactly familiar with Van Gogh's biography, but I think he mailed his ear to a woman he was in love with. I think she was a prostitute, but I don't think Collins knows that, but it's the intention that counts, right? Am I absolutely nuts for thinking that was sweet, if a little disturbing?

Mom is coming to visit tomorrow. I rearranged what little furniture I have and the aparment looks better now. I also finally got around to putting my Rurouni Kenshin posters up. Now I just need some Febreeze to get the cigarette smell out. >.<

I'm still slowly working on quitting smoking. I changed to a cheaper, nastier tasting brand, but it has no additives. So now I think I'm only addicted to the nicotine, and since it tastes so bad, I'm only smoking 4-5 cigarettes a day, as opposed to 12-14.

Been feeling absolutely disgusted with my weight, so yesterday a weird mood came over me, and I went to blockbuster and got me two excercise videos. 'Fat Burning Yoga' and this one video that has 3- ten minute mini-workouts, with weights. I got home, did the 45 min. yoga, and felt great afterwards. Today I'm as sore as if someone had beaten me with a stick, but I feel good about myself. Doing it again tonight. I'll do the other one as soon as I get me a pair of 5 or 8 lbs weights. Also, I decided to start sorta dieting. Cutting down to 1000 calories a day, but not being horribly strict about it. You know, if I get 300 more or less, it's fine. I just started that today, though, let's see how long it lasts. Also, going to STOP BUYING ramen and easy mac and hot pockets, which have constituted about 90% of my diet since I moved out, and moving on to healthier stuff. Which means I'll actually have to start cooking, but it's fine because I know how to and have never made anything I haven't been able to eat joyfully.

I haven't seen Mom since January 1st. I don't know how I feel about seeing her again. I mean, we've never gotten along too well. I guess I'm hoping that now that I'm off her back, she'll get off mine as well, and maybe we can start having a real relationship. Who knows, maybe we'll even start being friends. The last couple of times I've talked with her on the phone have been pleasant, and I think I'm pretty sure I'm actually looking forward to seeing her again. That makes me happy.

"Hi, nice to meet you, I'm Dee Dee."

I meet this woman every three weeks. I have been meeting her every three weeks for the past two years. Still, it doesn't matter how long or how short a conversation we have. Even a difficult business negotiation where she is the seller and I am the buyer doesn't cut through the pudding. She never remembers who anyone is. She will walk up to you on Friday, after having had a half-hour discussion with you on Monday and ask you if a certain person has left for the day. The certain person she is speaking about has the exact same name you have. When you say, "That would be me," she says, "Oh, it is nice to finally meet you."

I try to believe she is completely insane, because otherwise I feel like ripping her grock off and planting her zarentz in the ground so deep she'll never find her padarria again. I can't do that. There are laws and stuff to protect her. There is also her large, mindless husband to contend with. Whenever you ask him a question he will tell you that he likes to "putter around in the garage from time to time." I don't mean he says things "like that" every time. I mean he says that same phrase every time. There you go. There are trolls in real life. These two people, with whom my company feels compelled to do regular business with, have driven me to the edge of madness.

A co-worker of mine had a run in with Dee Dee (not her real name, I'm concerned about lawsuits, a little) last week. Appears we had an order in to maintain stock levels on the high demand items they supply us with. Dee Dee and Lurch lost the order and then called him to ask why he had not placed an order in the last three weeks. This co-worker pointed out that he had and faxed a copy of the purchase order to them. She immediately called the on-site manager and complained that this person was "faxing old purchase orders to her and making her life impossible." Then, out of left field, she reports that this representative of the company is "like sperm that never gets released from a whale." I have no idea what that means. Then she informed us that "the reason I said that is because he doesn't seem to realize that I speak English." Ahem.

She only has hair on the left side of her head, for the most part, and appears to be wearing a drugstore check-out aisle wig. This would not be a problem if she was an impoverished waif, but she is making quite a bit of money off her contract with us and with other companies in the area which also seem obsessed with pain.

"He is like sperm that never gets released from a whale."

What the hell does that mean? Why would you tell a client that about one of their employees? I have been puzzling over that for three hours now. Man, I am just glad she didn't say that about me. I need some chewable children's aspirin. Now. I have to be in this office until 9 PM EST and she might be back.

a soft gentleness has been uncovered, found within the smiles and laughs shared between a two people who would have otherwise never been thought of as gentle, especially not together. time has passed and so much has changed - good, bad, unsettling and chapters have been fleshed out, not yet written. I smile easier these days and I cry only when I have a reason to more often than not, and a startling realization occurred to me not long ago that the shyness I once called mine has long been disregarded. who is this girl that sits inside my skin, calling herself by my name but not being at all who I once thought I was? whomever she is, I've come to like her, even if some laugh at me and say I've become all too normal.

my days have been filled with thoughts of people, cramming for tests the day before when books haven't yet been opened, trying to move my mouth in such a way so that my father stops telling me it sounds as if I'm speaking spanish, not french. and a good friend of mine has moved not far away, although I've been neglecting her even still, but it's good to have someone so close in that sort of way.

I awoke from a dream only minutes ago that has been lost in a blur of wakening and being unable to fit into the confines of reality, and now a grogginess has settled over me urging me to miss yet another class. all I really wanted to say today was that I've finally found myself back onto a path that suits me, however odd that may be because I never quite saw myself here. I am here, though, and I'm happy.

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