Back on Track

There’s been a lot of silence from the blog lately. Unfortunately, part of this is my fault. When one person in a small group starts slacking, it’s easy for the others to follow suit. Even Austin came close to missing a post, which would have been detrimental to the time-space continuum.

I wish I could say I was too busy to blog, but that’s not the case. The reality is, I haven’t wanted to share my thoughts with the public lately. I haven’t had much good news on the job or personal front, so my attempts to find highlights and lessons felt desperate and forced. I didn’t want to air my grievances to our readers.

Fortunately, there was some good news over the last couple weeks. I’m most likely getting a promotion at my current job, and I’m working with a technology headhunter to see if I can get placed in a Fortune 100 tech company as a temporary contract worker. All of this may result in better pay, a more consistent schedule, and more responsibility/training opportunities.

So, to anyone that has been concerned about my silence (hi, parents), I’m doing just dandy, and things are starting to come together. People told me that it takes 6 months to get settled into New York, so I’m right on schedule. I’m optimistic about the future, and I’m pretty happy with the present.

So here’s an update to break the silence. Don’t worry, I’ll have plenty more to say over the following weeks.

The Great Winter of Meh

Alright, this has got be one of the crappier winters on record. There’s enough hardship here at GiTH right now to fill two novels and a soap opera.

Some things didn’t pan out last week. Dan and I were going to debut a big thing we were working on, but through no fault of our own it didn’t get done, and some deadlines were missed. Dan was way more bummed out about it than I was, I think due to losing out on a potential payday.

So that big reveal will have to wait some more.

It’s not so much that things are falling apart, it’s that they’ve slowed to a halt. Dan is in a routine he likes, but not one he wants to stay in forever. Clark doesn’t like where he’s at, but likes the person he might be in a year or so. Me, I’m moving forward the only way I know how. Slowly and with more self-doubt than there needs to be.

Not a whole lot of positives in our collective lives right now.

Except that’s not exactly true. We have a lot to be grateful for. Family that loves us, friends that sustain us, and talent that drives us forward.

I forget that sometimes. We all do. It’s especially easy to forget when life comes knocking like it has in the last month. So this is my reminder to me and message to them. It’s tough right now, but this too shall pass. In the mean time, lean on those who love you, and the winter might get a little warmer.

Feedback Loop

I made a new résumé yesterday, and I’m really happy with the update.

My old résumé gave hiring managers a lot of details, but very little information about my personality and design sensibilities. Sure, the text alignment was spot-on, but my grammar was terrible, and the tenses kept changing sporadically. It was, to put it kindly, a train wreck on fancy paper.

Yet, for some reason I kept using it. Every time I gained a new skill or job, I plugged it into the same old résumé. After all, why fix something that’s not broken?

Well, it turns out that my résumé was very broken, and the “don’t fix what’s not broken” mentality is detrimental to personal development.  I have a brilliant advisor at my university that would have gladly torn my résumé to shreds, but I kept it to myself believing it was good enough. I have a friend that’s a brilliant editor, but I still won’t let her touch my Gold in them Hills posts (because, obviously, they’re flawless).

In reality, I usually have no idea if something is broken or not until somebody tells me. I’ve surrounded myself with brilliant, creative, and kind people, but I’m too high on myself to ask for help. Maybe it’s because of ego, or maybe it’s self-doubt and not wanting to hear the truth. Either way, it’s not a sustainable pattern if I want to mature and start contributing to society.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a group of talented friends that are willing to help. It’s about time I start using my resources instead of relying on myself to fix everything.

Some Kind of Medicine

It’s been two weeks since I left my job, and it still stings. Fiercely, if I’m being honest. Most of my time and mental energy is spent staving off the unhealthy. This is on top of my grandma’s failing health, car trouble, money trouble, and who knows what else. Understandably, I’m a bit overwhelmed right now.

But let it never be said I can’t take my own medicine. I’ve worked with people who were in situations as crappy as the one I’m in now. Crappier, even. I have a new appreciation for what they went through.

There’s something I used to tell my clients who were down, out, and unemployed. Coming back from something big isn’t something that happens. It’s something you do. It’s a habit you create. Right now, the dark thoughts and the listlessness, those are the things I have to fight. Not letting them get a foothold is a habit I’ve used before, and will use again. It’s a bigger job than I thought it would be.

That said, I’m taking a couple weeks, before I start looking for work again. I think I’ve earned that much simplicity. It might be hypocritical, it might be spot-on. I’m not sure.

I’m trying to stay busy, at least in spurts. Dan and I have big things coming out this week. In fact, there are going to be a few announcements this week explaining that better. And it’s going to be something We’re very proud of.

So there’s a silver lining at least. Stay tuned.

-Austin

The Addendum

So, I resigned from my job.

We talked it over, my boss, HR, and me. We agreed that this job wasn’t the best fit for me, and no amount of wanting would change that.

Whatever opportunities there were for me there dried up. They wouldn’t move me into something different until I mastered the job I had. Which makes sense, but it wasn’t an option for me anymore.

My first time working with kids, my first time in a milieu, and my first time in care-taking. No small wonder I wasn’t cutting it.

I’m trying to tell myself it’s not a failure, that it’s a learning experience. I’m also trying to tell myself that knowing my limits is just as important as knowing my strengths. And that in this line of work, a job that only lasts a couple months isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

All that said, I tried as hard as I could, and it wasn’t enough. That’s gonna sting for a while.

Now comes the hard part. Moving on. Making peace with the way things are. Making a fresh start, maybe trying to grow a beard. Finding opportunities in this town. Again.

Working for the weekend

I won’t bore you with my usual musing. Instead, here is a teaser image for a brand new web comic, coming from myself, Austin, and the incredible artist, Matthew Stefani!imageBe on the look out for more news coming soon!

 

The Meeting

God, December was a terrible month. So terrible, in fact, it rolled over into January. Here’s the crisis du jour.

Saturday, my boss calls me in to her office. She tells me that I’m not as far along as I should be in my job growth. I’m a headache for some of the other staff. She then tells me she, HR, and I have a meeting on Monday, which is now today. Which is, at press time, a couple hours from now. She wouldn’t tell me what the meeting is about, but she was fairly insistent it wasn’t about being fired.

So, boom. Another bomb dropped on whatever zen I’m trying to cultivate.

At first, I was pretty shook. When anyone is trying their hardest and gets told it’s not good enough, it hurts. And with as much as I struggled with confidence and competence in the past, this opened up some old wounds.

And then I started thinking. I worked my ass off for grad school. I spent time, money, and effort pushing limits past what I thought I could do. Because of that, I can say I am good at what I do. It’s just that what I do isn’t what my job is right now. My job right now is care-taking. I took it because they promised me that after a couple months, I could move into a job where I know I can do good.

I kept at it this long because for all their faults and my headaches, I do care about the kids at the ranch. I want to help them, and I want to learn how to help other kids in their position. The management has made it clear that I can’t do that where I’m at now, and I agree.

Now comes the hard part. I have a ticking clock on getting my license to be a therapist. On top of being told I can’t stand still where I’m at now, despite promises they made when they hired me. So, at this meeting today, I’m going to have a lot to talk about.

Stay tuned, I’ll do an addendum post to tell you how it went.

This Was a Triumph

One year ago, Dan doubled down on dreaming big, Austin considered coping mechanisms, and I promised myself a year of hardship.

Today? Dan is declaring the death of his childhood, Austin is watching a loved one fade away, and my year has been overwhelmingly difficult.

Mission accomplished?

I think so.

All cynicism aside, this year has been a massive turning point for the writers of Gold in Them Hills. Dan made huge steps towards publishing his work, Austin helped dozens of kids find a sense of stability, and I completely abandoned my comfort zone on a quest for perspective.

Amid the paralyzing anxiety, forced deadlines, longing for companionship, inability to find my dream job, roller coaster of emotions, and utter confusion, I’ve managed to come out of 2014 with more passion and drive than ever before. Bigger things are coming, and this time I’m going to ride the wave instead of being pummeled by it.

There’s a fire in my heart, and it’s not going anywhere. I have a few announcements in the pipeline for 2015, and I’m sharpening my skills and hitting my knees for the next season of life.

So here’s to 2015. May you all learn from your mistakes, remember the good times, and be brave enough to keep trying when the times are tough.

– Clark

Obladi, Oblada

Life has a nasty tendency of going on. Louis C.K. wrote that life isn’t something that just happens to you. It’s something that’s always going on around you, something you participate in and witness. That thought helped a lot over the last year, as a lot about my view of the world changed.

I came back to it recently, as my grandma’s condition gets steadily worse.

It’s funny. I don’t believe in an afterlife anymore. I think we’re born, we live, then we die. Poof. That’s it. Once I realized that, my sense of theism just fell away and was gone.

That’s not the funny part.

The funny part is that I can never admit it to people. Especially people who are on their way out, or to people who are just struggling with big life questions. There have been times I’ve just lied about my beliefs because it’s been easier.

The courage to live in line with my beliefs eludes me more often than not. I guess I’m not that different from the faithful in that respect.

I keep playing out a scene in my head. Nana asks me something about dying, and I lie to her about my beliefs because she’s dying, and I’d tell her anything to take some of the fear of that away. Dishonest, but comforting. There are worse things to live with. Might be a talent that makes me a better helper. Instilling hope, you could call it. If there’s no life after death, it’s not like it’ll matter soon, anyway.

I wish I had a better moral for that. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, maybe? More likely that soft lies can be kinder than hard truths.

Who says you can’t go home?

As you all know, Austin’s Grandma is very sick. What you may not know, is that I grew up down the street from her. In fact, I met Austin (almost 18 years ago) because he used to go to her house every day after school.

I have many memories at Nanna’s house. Swimming in her pool in the summer time was one of the best. I felt like the member of a special club, and my best friend and I were the presidents of the board. No one got in without Nanna’s say so. And for a few short summers, we played like mad geniuses let lose on the world.

I would walk my dog, Buster, by Nanna’s house. Even if Austin wasn’t there, she would always wave at me. And even though Nanna had choice words about my parents homeschooling me, she always welcomed me into her home.

Nanna isn’t doing well. And on Christmas Day, my dog Buster, died.

My childhood had been over in my mind, but it truly ended in my heart this Christmas. Family and friends have moved away or passed on. My home town has changed dramatically. And that which remains doesn’t mean the same.

I dug a grave with my dad. Austin had to say goodbye to Nanna. Clark is missing Christmas for the first time in his life.

Childhood is over, and I may go on morning it for a good long while.

I pray for bright New Year, as the old one goes out with much pain.

-DC