Sep 172017
 

It has been, quite literally, years since I have sat down to write anything for personal reasons. I’ve written for work, and I’ve written for school, but beyond occasional forays in attempting to update my Morning Pages, I haven’t sat down to just write about or for myself. I don’t know exactly why, to be honest. I mean, I have theories. Lack of anyone actually giving a shit about what I have to say pretty much tops that list. In the world of social media, long form personal posts seem like quaint old relics from days gone by, and the effort that goes into creating them seems wasted. After all, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, having an audience is really the only reason one writes for public consumption.

 

I’m also tired. So very tired. I’m in the final semester of my educational career. I have eleven more weeks of what looks to be an absolute grind before I finish my Masters of Business Administration at the University of Maryland University College. I took a three-year break from school after earning my Associates Degree in 2008, and with the exception of one semester have been in school non-stop since the Spring of 2011. In that time I’ve earned a Bachelor’s Degree and my first Master’s Degree. When I considered my current career path it made sense to enroll in the Dual MBA program at my school and take on another year of courses, but I’d be lying if I said that it hasn’t been a monumental challenge to keep up. Every time I look at the course work for this final class I feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety and wonder if there is any possible way I can get everything done. I’ve had this feeling often throughout my academic career, and my wife always reminded me that every time I’ve felt that way I’ve proved myself wrong, but this time feels different.

 

I suppose it always does.

 

I’m going to be glad when it is over, though. I’m ready for the next chapter of my life, the one that doesn’t involve going to school, to begin. I’m ready to get back on stage (I decided, after realizing how intense the DMBA program was, not to audition for any more shows in 2017). I’m ready to take vacations where I don’t have to worry about having an Internet connection so that I can log in and get course work done. I’m ready to try and find a love of reading again, because the amount I’ve had to do for school has made me absolutely loathe picking up a book unless I absolutely have to. I’m just ready to move on.

 

Of course moving on from school means facing the reality of paying back my student loans, which at this point are the equivalent of a second mortgage, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Unlike many folks who graduate from school with large debt, I’ve already established a career that will, at the very least, make it somewhat less painful to pay them back.

 

My current state of tiredness is also the result of a much more immediate situation. Last week, Hurricane Irma decided to pay a visit to our state. When the track shifted to put the eye directly over our area late Friday night, Lisa and I decided that it was wise to get the hell out of dodge. We packed up the animals and my son and took off to shelter with friends in Jacksonville. Ironically, the storm seemed to take a much harsher toll on that area, mainly due to flooding, but we still came through unscathed. When we returned home on Tuesday our power was out, and it wasn’t restored until days later. I’m incredibly grateful that a loss of electricity was the worst damage we faced as a result of the storm, but I cannot emphasize enough the amount of psychological stress I feel during power outages. It’s hard to explain in a way that doesn’t make me sound like a spoiled, petulant brat. Our home is my sanctuary. In a world where I often feel I have very little control over my destiny, the house we share is a place where I feel I have control. It’s clean and orderly, because that makes us happy. It’s filled with things that are important to us. It’s where we spend the majority of our time together, and to be perfectly honest spending time at home with Lisa is pretty much my favorite thing in the entire universe. When that is disrupted, say with a lack of electricity, I am an absolute mess. When I don’t look forward to going home at night, I cannot think straight. I’m irritable. I’m distracted. It’s just a horrible experience for me, and I’m sure everyone around me. Even now, several days after the storm has passed and power has been restored, I’m still off-kilter. I’m sure the fact that I ate a bunch of really horrible food and drank way too much during the days of the storm isn’t helping, either.

 

It’s funny, though. One of my biggest issues about dealing with the lack of power is the accompanying lack of air conditioning, but as I write this I’m voluntarily sitting outside and it’s pretty damned hot. I suppose it’s ultimately the difference between choosing to sit outside in the heat and being forced to because it’s even more miserably oppressive inside.

 

I also have a fan on, so there’s that.

 

I don’t know. Maybe some of how I’m feeling is straight-up mid-life crisis. I’m staring down the barrel of 45. I’ve accomplished a hell of a lot in my life, I know, and I’m well aware that a good deal of what I’ve accomplished is because I’ve busted my ass to get here. I’ve been a good employee and a good student. I’ve done my best to be a good husband and a good father, but I’ve screwed that up on more than one occasion. I see those meme’s that ask whether or not the eight-year old version of you would be proud of where you are now, and I just don’t know. I mean, I’m not a Jedi so that would certainly be a bummer for him. But what would he say about me being an Agile Coach? What would he think about the fact that I’m not a famous actor or some sort of world-class software developer? What would he think about how my love for all things “geek” has diminished significantly over the course of the last few years? Would he think I was lame?

 

Hard to say, really. Unlike many people I know, I don’t actually look back on my childhood/teenage self with fondness. I was…kind of horrible really, both physically and mentally. I was a spoiled, selfish brat, and (especially in my teenage years) the epitome of the much-reviled nerdy “nice guy.” So, really, if the younger version of me wouldn’t be impressed with middle-aged me, that might not be such a bad thing.

 

But where do I go from here? I’ve got a fantastic career, with a company that I can honestly say I’d be content working for until I retire in 20 (or more) years. I have an amazing wife. I have a home. My son, despite some rocky years there at the end of his teens, is happy and doing well living on his own. I take multiple vacations every year. I don’t have to worry about paying the bills or keeping food on the table. I can pretty much indulge myself on any minor purchase that may flit its way through my head, which has for years been my benchmark of true “success” in life (I’ve always said that I’d know I’d made it when I could walk into a book store and purchase any book I wanted without having to worry about whether or not I could actually afford it…the irony there being that, as I mentioned above, I really don’t like reading very much any more). While I’m not a household name, I have had a long and successful career acting professionally in the Tampa Bay area, and the main hallway in our home is adorned with posters from the many shows I have been in over the course of the last sixteen years.

 

So, in the immortal words of Josiah Bartlett, “What’s Next?”

 

It’s a question I don’t know the answer to. Perhaps when I decide to write another blog post in two years I’ll have figured it out.

Sep 032015
 

QTQE_rrBe_g

It’s 6 AM on the day before Dragon Con here in Atlanta. I had a crappy night of sleep due to some poor dining choices I made yesterday, and I haven’t even finished my first cup of coffee yet, so there’s a very real possibility that this post is going to get a little cranky.

But the subject makes me cranky, so it might have gone that way regardless.

After doing a major pruning of my friends list I started using Facebook again about a month ago. For the most part? It’s been a pretty pleasant experience. I no longer have to skim through pages of updates and posts that I really didn’t give a crap about to see updates from people who I actually want to stay connected to. That’s cool. Thing is, I still see some things that get my blood boiling. One of those things can be summed up in the use of the #AllLivesMatter hashtag (or the general attitude that is represented by that hashtag, even if it isn’t being used).

I want to say I get it, and that I understand the frustration, but I simply don’t. I can’t see how, with the massive amount of information we as a a people we have available to us in the information age, it’s not possible to see how there are major issues in our country regarding race that simply can’t be wiped away by insisting that people “stop playing the race card.”

What really bugs me about this is that more often than not this quiet racism is cloaked in comments about (primarily) African-American and Latino culture here in the country. “Those people” would do so much better in their lives if they would just “pull their pants up”, “learn how to speak properly”, and “stop acting like thugs.”

So, in other words, they should act more like a proper white person.

Ironically, these same people never seem to make those kind of comments about other whites unless said caucasian acts “ghetto”. I mean, while there are certainly exceptions to the rule you don’t often see your typical trailer park redneck contribute much to the betterment of society. See a picture of a white guy holding an assault rifle and standing in front of his pick up truck? Many likes! Yay, America! See a picture of a black guy holding the same rifle in front of his BMW? OMG THUGS!!

It’s gross.

I guess I’m speaking up about this now, and in a very public way, because I’ve had a bit of a personal epiphany. Not too long ago I had a relative refer to an African-American woman who was in an old velvet painting as a “jungle bunny.” He did this in my house, within earshot of children, and I said nothing. I’ve been disgusted with myself ever since. I’ve put up with this kind of thing from people I know for far too long, and I simply can’t ignore it any more. Which means I’m likely to continue having some very awkward conversations with people who I genuinely care for if I continue using Facebook.

Or I’m just going to unfriend them…or leave the service altogether.

I frankly don’t know.

What I do know is that I can no longer sit by while the pigs take over the farm.

Feb 022015
 

BillyJoel_AnInnocentMan

I wrote the following as one of my assignments in my Orientation to Graduate Studies class at the University of Maryland University College. The goal was to write an article in the style of the “This I Believe” series by Edward R. Murrow. Unfortunately after I finished my essay and turned it in I realized that the assignment had been to write something about our professional beliefs and not a personal one, so I had to scrap the assignment and write another one in about 10 minutes (which, for the record, I got a 98% on). I really liked what I wrote in my original essay, though, and I wanted to share it here.

Fair warning – It’s mushy.

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Jan 132015
 
Image courtesy of Bruce Sallan - http://www.brucesallan.com/2012/03/25/are-you-a-socialmedia-addict/

Image courtesy of Bruce Sallan – http://www.brucesallan.com/2012/03/25/are-you-a-socialmedia-addict/

The company I work for considers themselves to be a Gallup Strengths-Based organization. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, the long and the short of it is that the Gallup organization has a list of 34 traits that are apparently common in all people. These traits are referred to as strengths. When the company you work for decides that they want to become a strength-based organization (or you decide you want to find out what your strengths are on your own), you take a test and you get a list of the 34 strengths in in the order that they apply to you.

My number one strength is Input. What follows is a description of the type of person who has Input as one of their top strengths, according to the Gallup organization.

You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information — words, facts, books, and quotations — or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

I, without a doubt, fall into the former category of collectors. I collect information. I used to collect things, but I had a change of heart about that a few years ago and really try to live my life amassing as little stuff as possible. But information? Oh, I collect information. I want to know…well, everything. I ask questions constantly. In many ways, I’m like a child. I constantly want to know why.

I’m still not entirely sure why Gallup considers this a “strength.”

Continue reading »

Oct 012014
 

Every once in a while I think about deleting all of the posts on my blog.

It’s not a matter of being embarrassed about the content here or anything like that. I’ve written before about how I’m not a fan of people who try to ret-con their online lives, and I still feel that way. There are posts out there that I’ve removed for professional reasons, but for the most part if you were really inclined you could use this site to look back over the last 15 years of my life and, I’m sure, get a kick out of how stupid much of it has been.

No, if I’m being honest the reason I think about deleting the history here is because I’m lazy. See, the fact is that many of the older posts here were written on my now-inactive LiveJournal blog. They are improperly formatted, contain broken images, are untagged, and generally a complete mess.

This fact bugs me, you see, because those posts aren’t pretty.

Yes, I’m vain. I like the way my blog looks. Those old posts are an eyesore, and the amount of work required to fix them is pretty damned extensive. The easiest solution would be to simply eradicated any content that existed prior to me switching to WordPress.

The conundrum, of course, is that I’m under some kind of illusion that some of that content is actually good, and I won’t know that until I’ve finished going through it all.

So, no. I won’t be deleting all those old posts.

But damn, is it tempting.

 

 

Aug 272014
 

I’d love to say I have some kind of well thought out, eloquent post in me. I do not. My sad, neglected blog is likely to remain just that for the foreseeable future, and this post won’t break that trend. This is just a thought dump. A “what’s going on with me” that most of you will likely gloss over if you even bother to read it in the first place.

Man, that sure sounded emo.

Continue reading »

Jun 232014
 

Shortly after I started the final push for my Bachelor’s Degree back in 2011, I purchased an Asus Eee PC so that I would have something portable to do my school work on. It cost me about $400 at the time. I upgraded the RAM in it to the maximum that it could possibly hold, and I threw a SD memory card in it to run ReadyBoost as well. In the years that have followed, I have installed tons of software on it that I have needed to complete my assignments. IDE’s, Server software (IIS AND Tomcat), database programs, the MS Office suite, you name it.

In all the time I have been using this netbook, the only thing I have had to do to it to keep it running was buy a new battery.

As I approach the final 5 weeks of my scholastic career, my little netbook is struggling. It has never been reformatted. The amount of time I’d have to spend re-installing all the software I need just hasn’t made it worth pursuing. What used to be a zippy little machine is now sluggish and frustrating to use.

But it still works.

Once school is done my netbook is probably going into retirement. I may reformat it first and see how it performs after that, but I’ve got my eye on more powerful machines as I move on to the next phase of my life and career. Regardless of that, it will be somewhat painful to let this little engine that could go. It has performed well beyond my expectations, and was worth every penny I spent on it. When I do decide to finally shut it off for the last time, I know I’ll feel more than a little sad.

“That will do, Netbook. That will do.”

Jun 042014
 

I recently asked a male relative of mine if he would send his nephews to a rape defense class. This was part of a larger discussion on rape culture, misogyny, and the general state of affairs in our society that have been brought into sharp focus due to the recent events in California. My relative replied to my question by stating that he would hope his nephews “would respect women.”

Now ignoring the fact that he dodged my very direct question almost completely, what he said was still somewhat interesting to me. In the next few days,  I saw similar comments from other men I knew along the same lines. More often than not, I see them offered up as part of a thinly veiled “Not All Men” defense. “I was raised to respect women,” the argument goes, “so clearly I am not part of this ‘rape culture’ you speak of.”

This defense is not only irrelevant and distracting, it’s also inherently flawed…and it proves exactly what it is trying to deny.

Continue reading »

May 202014
 
Image shameless yanked from http://www.autostraddle.com/tag/travel-guide/

Image shameless yanked from http://www.autostraddle.com/tag/travel-guide/

When I originally bought the house in St. Petersburg that I am currently living in, back in 1999, it was pretty much perfect in every way. It was big enough to accommodate my family, it was within a few miles of both my Sister and my Mother (who were helping us raise our son), it was near great schools, and it was safe. What it wasn’t, by any means, was close to my job. I was working in Clearwater at that point, at the Staples up on Sunset Road. My daily commute, distance-wise, wasn’t horrible…but it wasn’t great either (especially considering the fact that, at that point, very little of the construction that has improved traffic on U.S. 19 had been completed).

My next job after Staples was my first job working for a software company, and the office was located in Tampa near the airport. The commute wasn’t horrible, because I was able to get off of the interstate right at the airport exit and miss the traffic going through the downtown area, but it wasn’t great either. It was around this time that I started acting professionally, and with the exception of one show in the entire time I’ve been acting all of them have been in Tampa. I briefly worked for a company that had an office that was right off of the airport exit from 275, but it was still in Tampa.

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Apr 292014
 

Sometimes people need to fail.

I know that’s kind of a weird concept these days. We live in a world where everyone gets a trophy and products are marketed to us because we “deserve” them. We live in a world where we have to be sensitive about the feelings of everyone around us, and where we have to be careful about everything we say because our comments might be offensive. American culture is perfectly reflected in our medicine – we’re all loaded up on antibiotics and over-sanitized, and as a result we’re starting to develop some pretty horrible diseases because we aren’t letting our systems build up the proper immunities.

This really isn’t new.

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