Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things yet to come

It's been a long time since I wrote in this thing, but in my twisted vampire world where day is night and night is day, 2 a.m. on a Wednesday night seems like the perfect time to do it.

Got a lot of things to think about these days. Reflection is something I do a lot. Looking forward to the future is not. But then again, these are heady times. I am getting married in March. I still can't believe it! She is a wonderful, caring, beautiful, patient, funny, amazing woman, my best friend, the person I will grow old with.

I am not the cynical, bitter, self-centered misanthrope I was for so long. Those qualities are still there, but they aren't the sum of my emotional experience anymore. She has filled a huge void in my life, maybe even saved my life, in some respect. For that, she has my eternal love and gratitude.

All this is leading somewhere, and I'm not sure exactly where. But that's okay. Because for maybe the first time in my adult life, I find myself looking forward to the journey.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Consumerism and me

I'm obsessed with cars lately. Even more so than usual.

One week I want an Opel GT, the next an Audi roadster, the next a Lancer Evo. And so on. My latest obsession is the Triumph Daytona Triple, a British motorcycle.

I know Ab thinks I'm nuts and she's probably right. As she so correctly points out to me, her fits of consumerism point her towards the dollar bins at Target, and mine point me towards car dealerships and stereo shops.

I don't want to be that person who isn't happy with what they have. Because truly, I am very happy. We live in a materialistic culture, and there's always something bigger and better and shinier and we're constantly bombarded with all sorts of people telling us we need all these things to be happy.

I don't need a flashy Italian car, or a 125-inch plasma TV, or even a car stereo with Bluetooth and iPod controls to make me happy. That's one of the things I've come to understand in the last couple of years.

I already have plenty of gadgets and gizmos. We're fortunate to live in times with such readily available technology to make our lives easier and entertain us. I can surf the web on my laptop while sitting in front of my 42-inch HDTV watching a blu-ray on my PS3 and listening to music on my iPod. And I'm not exactly in a high-income tax bracket.

At the end of the day all the "stuff" in the world can never make a person truly happy. That doesn't mean it's not worth having, but in the long run it's not terribly important. Not compared to family, friends, or that special person in your life.

Just clearing that up. :)

New challenge

As an update from my last entry, I was offered the new position at the paper and I took it, mostly out of fear. I've just heard too many horror stories about folks who lose their job and are still unemployed a year later. It's tough out there.

So now I'm the high school sports beat writer. It's a tough job, one of the toughest in the building. I knew that going in. And I've never really thought of myself as a very good "reporter." Writing comes naturally to me, and I do enjoy it. It's the "reporting" part of the job, you know, going out in the world and *gulp* talking to people, trying to think of the right question to ask and trying not to make a fool of myself that I've never been comfortable with. That requires confidence and adequate social skills, things which I've never really had in abundance (if at all).

Which is the major reason I was perfectly content to sit behind my little desk designing my little pages. Even if the hours sucked. I was good at it and it required a minimum of interaction beyond the small circle of people in the newsroom.

So far I've done a few stories and they've all been pretty good, so I'm easing into it nicely. I may even be gaining a little more confidence in myself, something that's always been a problem. So I'm looking forward to a few new challenges. Things have changed a lot but I'm still here, still standing, maybe even thriving a little bit.

So I got that going for me. Which is nice.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The uncertain future

Two entries in one day. Wow!

Couple months ago, I'm on my way to work, my customary 20 minutes late when Ab calls me and says everybody from my department just got called up to a meeting upstairs. Before she even tells me what it is, I know. We're being downsized. I've kind of been anticipating this for a while now.

It actually turns out to be not quite as bad as I thought. They told me I could keep my job but I have to move to Monroe. Something I really do not care to do, so I declined with the consolation that I could draw a substantial amount of severance pay (one week for every year of service, which is 9 weeks for me).

It's a sobering thought to know that soon you won't be going the same place you've been going to 5 days a week for the last 9 years. I have no idea what I'm going to do.

I have to be honest, outside of newspaper work I really have no useful skills. The things I can do really only translate to a very narrow field of jobs. So I'm a little scared, honestly. I've tried not to worry about it too much, because everybody tells me "don't worry, you'll find something better", but will I really?

It's been hinted to me that I could stay on at the paper in another role. That would be the safe thing to do, at least until the next round of layoffs. But maybe this is my opportunity to get into something else. There's certainly no future in newspapers, especially anything owned by Gannett. So right now I'm leaning towards the 'take the money and run' option.

It really is sad to see what's become of the place. The few people who have survived the onslaughts of pay cuts and layoffs are either completely bitter and angry, or have just been pushed to the point they don't care anymore. And there's NOBODY left who's not trying to get out.

I know the newspaper business as a whole is dying, but it's really sad to see this one in particular. I grew up reading The Town Talk. It was once a great place to work, respected, a pillar of the community.

I'd like to see somebody buy the rights to The Town Talk name, after Gannett's through sucking every bit of life and money out of it. It deserves better than to be left behind like a dead hooker in an alley in a bad film noir. The paper has served the community well for a long time, and in the right hands, with a good business plan, it could do that again. I truly believe that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Goodnight, sweet Josephine

So this is my new car, a Nissan Versa hatchback.......I've had it for about a month and I LOVE it. (And yes I do realize the complete absurdity of buying a new car when I know I will be losing my job soon, but it saves me at least 100 bucks a month over the truck I traded in for it.)

Her name is Josephine. No particular reason why I picked that name, just that I'm a nerd.

Later on I realized there's a Yardbirds song called "Goodnight Sweet Josephine" that I've always liked in which Jeff Beck makes some way cool sounds with his guitar. So maybe that subconsciously factored into the thought process, who knows.

The car is kind of a big departure for me, since I've always been kind of a truck guy. I'll admit, I feel like I sorta turned in my "man card" on this one, but the car is really nice and comfortable and fun to drive. It certainly seems to agree with my checkbook, what with the lower note, better gas mileage, lower insurance and so on.

I've been semi-obsessed with getting Josephine some sparkly chrome wheels and a big honkin' DVD/GPS touchscreen stereo system. Probably will never happen but it's fun to dream. Also, note the very nice window tint job that my lovely girlfriend/life partner got for me. Awesome.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Episode I: Naked by the Computer

OK, so I'm not naked right now, but sometimes I will be.

(I prefer to air dry. You know how it is.)

This being my first blog entry and all, I feel compelled to tell my life story or something. But that sounds a little self-absorbed, and I'd prefer not to bore my audience to death. So instead I will go over the last year or so.

I'm the kind of person who has always had a pretty well-controlled, ordered life. This tends to result in a lot of mediocrity, but I was always fine with that. Good old boring mediocre Mike.

For about 6 years my life didn't change much. I lived in an apartment all by myself. No kids, no pets, nothing to be responsible for. I played a lot of video games. Watched a LOT of movies. Went to work. Slept. Ate a lot of frozen pizza. I drove a black Chevrolet truck. When it came time to sell it, I bought another black Chevrolet truck. If that sounds incredibly boring, well, it is. Boring, predictable, and completely safe.

Then about ten or so months ago I got to know this girl....yeah, you know where this is headed. Needless to say my life is not nearly as predictable today.

I moved out of my sterile orderly apartment and into her house. "Living in sin", they call it. Doesn't feel so "sinful" to me. Ha!

Now I find myself fixing sinks and mowing grass and playing with her dog......getting on sketchy spinning carnival rides when I know darn well those things terrify me......driving halfway across the country to meet her family when I usually can't be bothered to go down the street to the post office. I traded in Chevy Truck #2 for a sensible little family car. I even bought a pair of flip-flops.

My late-night trips to the grocery store used to be for beef jerky, pizza and soft drinks. Now I'm running to the store to pick up cottage cheese and skim milk and dog food.

Some of my friends say I'm whipped. Maybe I am. But I can't recall ever being happier with my life.

It's not perfect of course. The future is a little scary right now. I'm being laid off in a couple months, after working at the same place for 9 years. Past that there appear to be several other big things on the horizon. None of them necessarily neat and easy.

But it's worth it. I know that, without a doubt.