Almost Famous

There’s this weird thing that happens whenever I stay in one place for more than a couple years. It happens without me trying, or even if I’m actively working against it. I notice it in drips and drams first, and then a trickle, and before long I realize it’s happened again and I’m being swept downstream.

I get famous.

Or, no. Let me rephrase that. I feel famous. I feel this way because lots of people, who as far as I know I’ve never spoken to, start calling me by name. Everyone seems to know who I am, and I know nobody. There are maybe eight co-workers, not counting my manager, whose names I know. Everyone else, I sort of maybe recognize.

But everyone seems to know me.

Why does this happen. Surely, it’s not that everyone knows everyone’s name and I’m just the odd one out on that? There are more than three hundred people just in my department alone. It must be that I’m famous. Or, almost anyhow. I hope it’s for a good reason.

Updates, good and bad.

Left off here on a rather ominous note, I suppose. It’s been a busy few weeks.

No sugar coating it: my manager is trying to fire me. Claims he’s not, but that’s shit. I was a good employee with a stable record until I landed on his team, and within 24 hours I was on a PSP (Performance “Success” Plan–what they do to under-performing employees) and my trajectory never recovered. There’s no statute of limitations with this man. Every mistake you make is with you forever, and then they’re looked at in aggregate to make a “pattern of under-performance.” He’s trying to fire me, and I don’t care what pretty lies the senior management spins to cover his ass. I wrote a letter to HR about what was going on, and a few days later I saw him returning to his desk from the front office with a sick look on his face. It was better for a while after that, but I think it just made him craftier. I’m on two separate final written warnings at the same time. Didn’t even know that was possible. I’m looking for another job as fast as I can. Hope to find one soon. I’ll leave if I have to, but I don’t want to be fired. I hate this feeling of helplessness, of not knowing when the ax will fall. I need to save up enough money to be able to move back down to the Bay and be with my sister.

(Oh, by the way, I have a sister now. She’s wonderful. The queer tradition of a chosen family didn’t make sense to me until we decided to be siblings.)

On a brighter note, I have been awarded a scholarship to attend the Cascade Writer’s workshop this year. I’m very excited. My main fear is that my situation up here will fall apart and force me to flee to California again before I have a chance to attend. There will be other writers there, serious, committed artists. I haven’t had a group like that since college.  I can’t wait. There will also be professionals from the publishing world. I look forward to learning a lot from them. I have to say, as well, that it is immensely rewarding to have been awarded a scholarship. It was in part based on need, but a part of the application was based on a 1000-word sample I submitted. Someone I’ve never met who has no reason to care about me decided that, among those who submitted applications, I was the one they wanted to support. It gives me hope.

I’ve been submitting my application to agents. Nothing but rejections and silence so far. This is to be expected. No serious writer gets through life without  a thick sheaf of rejections. Still, having something, anything, break my way is very nice.

My cousin seems to be having trouble. It would be quite dramatic to say that madness is the family curse, but no. We live in a more civilized age, where mental health is more sterile, and better classified. We’re not mad. Simply depressed and scared. No matter. I’m pulling for you, cousin. I wish you all the best.

The Definition of Insanity

More and more, I find my mind returning to the possibility of graduate school. It’s foolish. It’s hopeless. My time there is done.

But what if I could figure out a way to apply Power Transition Theory to domestic political violence? What if I could get funding? What if I could enroll in a program that fit me better?

No. It’s absurd. It will never work. Shouldn’t waste time thing about it.

But what if…?

This is Why You Must Survive

I have been told that this blog is so depressing that some people have stopped reading it, which seems almost funny to me because if anything I soft-pedal how unrelentingly bleak my life can be. For instance, I have not mentioned my habit of telling myself, as many as a dozen times a day, that I am a bad person and that I am stupid. I do this as a reflex when I do something sub-optimal, or worse when I remember doing something sub-optimal, especially if it was of a social nature. That’s the background radiation of my life; that’s what happens to me on a good day. Some mornings, it is a real fight to get out of bed.

Things are looking up, though. For the first time in a long time, I have a real path forward to something better. Even after the euphoria died down, I still kept writing. Now I’m at 56,000 words. I should have a complete manuscript by the end of the year. More importantly, a friend of mine wants to write a intro to PHP book with me. He’s a pretty good programmer, and I’m a pretty good writer, and together we should make a pretty good book. The best part is that I’ll be able to use it as a portfolio piece, and hopefully start picking up some technical writing jobs. Once I have some professional credits and references to my name, I’ll have the start of an honest-to-Goddess career on my hands. There’s something even bigger and better in the pipe, but I can’t talk about it because I don’t know what I can say without jeopardizing things and I’d rather err on the side of discretion.

Socially, things are…choppy. I lost a good friend. She’ll stay lost until she can realize what she did wrong, and why her “apology” didn’t cut it. That might make for some strain with my other two main hangout friends, but I’ve got a third who might be developing in that same circle, and I think I can branch out to find more, as well. It feels a little mercenary and gross to be evaluating friendships for their potential contributions to my mental health and stability, but that’s part of my life now. If I lose a friend, I have to be on the lookout to pick up others or grow closer to ones I already have, or else I could enter a tail spin and have a hard time pulling out. I will die in the dark if I let myself be alone.

So I don’t let myself be alone.

I’m not long for Beaverton, anyhow. One way or another, I’m leaving next year. The Portland area is where I plan to retire; I can’t stand to live here in my youth. Or maybe I’m just restless. Last year I hopped from place to place, constantly in flux. My housing situation was unstable for the vast bulk of the year, only settling out in November. Life changing decisions had to be made regularly, sometimes in a matter of hours. It was survival living, hand to mouth. Maybe I acclimated to it. Stability, at least up here in Beaverton, doesn’t agree with me.

Or didn’t, at least. The restlessness is fading. I feel like I could fall into a rut here. That scares me. Is it because I’ve made the decision to move, or is it because I’m re-acclimating to stability? (Is stability banality? Should I fear it as much as I think I do?)

I am in a liminal space. Not the desperately scrambling “I’ll try (almost) anything” way that I was at the depth of my homelessness, when I was seriously looking for a time and place to experiment with drugs because hey, what’s the worst that’s gonna happen: I end up homeless? This is a more prolonged, and perhaps somewhat more penetrating, evolution. It’s not just new experiences I’m searching for. I’m thinking about where I’m going to be in five years. Who I am going to be. My career is on the runway. My social life is in turmoil but not exactly falling apart. Geographically, things will change in a big way soon. Everything is shifting, some parts faster than others.

I feel good to be alive, even despite all the shit. This is what I survived for. I know I made the right choice in refusing to die. If I’d let myself go, nothing would have changed. My life would have ended in such poor conditions. You don’t stay alive because things are guaranteed to turn out well–although things are up from where they were last year, everything could still fall apart for me, and get even worse this time. You stay alive because if you die, nothing will ever get better for you. How you died in the end, that will be it. But if you survive, you retain the blessings of uncertainty, and of potential.

When things are at their darkest, remember, this is why you must survive: not for false hope. Simply to see if things will change.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

So I guess some of you wanted a bit of happier news. Here it is. I wrote 2000 words yesterday. I’m probably going to crack a thousand again today. I suddenly have a real, live book on my hands.