Changes afoot

Today marks the seventh anniversary of living in my current city. Next week, my mom and sister will be here to help me move, and at some point in the week or so after that, I’ll be moving back to my family’s house about two hundred fifty miles away.

I don’t remember offhand how much I’ve written about my plans here, but change is afoot!

While my sister is going to be renting a house with some friends in this city while they attend university (whatever that’s going to look like in these strange times), I’ve made arrangements to transfer to another store from the store I’ve worked at for the last almost-seven years (it’d have been seven in early August, but I’ll have transferred before then). As I’ve thought before, and probably written here before, I’m thankful that I am able to pull up stakes and move like this while not having to worry about, e.g., a girlfriend’s job prospects or a child’s school (or childcare in general, for that matter). Since I currently lack a significant other (and have been single for two and a half years at this point), fortunately I only have to worry about myself, rather than having to also consider the job market and prospects for a girlfriend/fiancee/wife.

As I’ve been thinking for some time now, I feel like I should probably be packing more. I do have a few boxes packed, and most of my books have already been moved, but I still have school supplies, my computer, some papers, food, dishes, towels, and various miscellaneous clutter (for lack of a better word coming to mind) to pack up.

While my current plan is to transfer to this other store and work there for a few months to at least get through the winter, I’ve also wondered what my next step should be. As I’ve been thinking for a while, I have no interest in working at a convenience store for the rest of my life, and I have no idea where I want to go next.

In other news, last week this city’s council passed a mask provision that took effect Thursday morning, so everyone over the age of 11 is supposed to wear a face mask in public for the following ninety days. It hasn’t been a major problem for me at work, but I also am not at the register by the front doors, and I’ve seen a coworker post on Facebook about how people are being jerks because they’re apparently stupid (or are being inconsiderate or don’t know where the city limit line actually is).

It continues to distress me that the President is, succinctly, an idiot. Probably more could be said, but this pandemic has not been handled well by the Malignant Narcissist in Chief. Surprise surprise, right?

There have been several occasions lately where I’ve thought about how my living situation is going to soon change from “my studio apartment where I’ve lived since September 2015 near the edge of this city” to “my family’s house in the middle of nowhere built in 1934”, and I also feel like I haven’t thought about that enough, as if refusing to think about it is going to make it not happen. Unfortunately, I don’t think it works that way (or else there would be other differences that I can think of that I wish were fact rather than my ideas). On the bright side, as I keep thinking, it’ll be nice to be closer to family (though it will be an adjustment going from my pet-free apartment to the house containing several dogs).

This is my second of three nights off this week (my last night off being Friday, and my last day at this store being Saturday), and I’m not sure what I should do. I’ve already started drinking, so that rules out driving anywhere, and tomorrow I have an eye appointment and some errands, so I should go to bed earlier tonight, but I’m not sure if I should watch something on Netflix and/or Disney+ or play some game or do something else. I probably ought to pack, or do dishes, or do laundry, or something similarly productive, but I also don’t want to.

Decisions, decisions.

Grief

Once again, I’m going to try a slightly more focused entry. This morning I woke up listening to the news on NPR, and of course my state and the next closest state apparently saw new COVID-19 records (number of new cases and number of hospitalizations respectively, if I remember correctly), so my state’s Department of Education is apparently working on guidelines to allow schools to be open this fall. There was a plan mentioned for schools to have some students attend in the morning and some in the afternoon, which sounds logistically complicated and makes me glad I’m not currently in elementary or high school and don’t have any kids. After the local headlines, the national news started, and it was more of the same- the Trump administration wants schools to be open in the fall, but is not really doing anything about the ongoing pandemic (or if the federal government is responding, I think they could do and need to be doing more). This ongoing disaster (for lack of any better word) successfully made me angry for most of the rest of the afternoon before I went to work and got to briefly forget about the disasterous pandemic response by the richest nation in history and the most powerful nation on the planet.

Alright, deep breath. Brief digression aside, now for the real reason for this entry.

I had a friend from high school pass away this past weekend. She was a couple years younger than me, but we were in a lot of the same activities and we were close when I was in high school. I don’t remember the last time I talked to her or saw her. I think I saw on Snapchat that I had sent her something a couple months ago (though I don’t remember what), and I had sent her a funny screenshot of a tweet in a Facebook message back in late 2019, so clearly it had been a while. We exchanged birthday wishes earlier this year (her birthday was in February and mine is in April), but “happy birthday!” “thanks!” does not a substantial conversation make. I imagine the last time I saw her in person might have been a couple years ago, possibly at my sister’s high school graduation in 2018 (or my brother’s in 2014).

It’s probably futile, but I wish I had talked to her more recently. Continue reading

A Simple Day

I haven’t done much today. Last night was stressful at work mainly due to a superior (specifically, the store manager’s boss’s boss) coming in before my shift and saying all the ovens needed cleaned. I feel like there are better ways to go about doing things (like saying “oh, this needs done ASAP, but after looking at the numbers and available resources I know Sundays are usually busy so do what you can” rather than “do this immediately, I don’t know or care if this will cause you additional stress since trying to do extra cleaning on a weekend with the usual number of minimal staff is difficult at best”), but with help from kitchen manager and coworkers we managed to get the ovens cleaned. I know there’s slightly more to it, but it seems middle management only exists to make everyone’s life more difficult! At least, that’s my flippant and non-serious reaction after hearing of unrealistic expectations (but I’m also cynical, so there is that). The slightly funny thing is that Saturday I had been wondering what was going to happen when some authority figure came in and said we needed to do extra cleaning, despite recently having fewer hours and fewer people than we used to. Also Saturday I cut my thumbnail, but fortunately other than some bleeding right after it happened, that hasn’t been too much trouble. Fortunately now I have a few days off, which I should probably use better than I did today.

Today I slept in, had some cereal for “breakfast” (about 2:30 pm), did some dishes, watched some YouTube, and eventually cooked dinner. I had some hamburger thawing in my fridge, which I cooked, and after draining it I mixed some of the meat with corn, some canned beans, and spinach and had that with rice. Not the most sophisticated or complex meal, but at least it was some vegetables, a starch, and a complete protein. I thought it sort of seemed like peasant fare, but since I haven’t been grocery shopping as much, I see nothing wrong with using what I have on hand (as opposed to, say, going to the grocery store “in these trying times”). After dinner I talked to my mom and sister, and I ventured outside my apartment to take out my garbage. While working on tying up the garbage bag, I happened to think of the phrase “quarantine chic”, which amused me.

I know I’ve read a little bit about people “self-isolating” in their apartments and whatnot recently. From talking to friends and family, there are some people who are still working, but others who are working and/or studying from home. As an employee in an “essential business” (gas station), I don’t know what it’s like to be stuck at home for weeks without seeing another human! At most I’ve gone about 4 days (and that’s if you’re not counting Facebook or video calls, which I guess don’t really count). I know I’ve read a couple things where people are talking about how bras, tights, and some other things (mainly things women have to deal with, now that I think about it) shouldn’t survive, but the phrase “quarantine chic” to me does sort of imply barely getting dressed, and maybe just sitting around your apartment in your pajamas and/or underwear. Or even less, depending on your particular circumstances.

If you’re living by yourself, or perhaps with your significant other, then you probably could get away with wearing whatever minimum amount of clothing you’re comfortable in. However, if you’re living with relatives or children (or videoconferencing with people for work or school), you should probably wear at least some minimum of clothing, even if only enough to be “decent” and not accidentally indecent on your work video call (for example).

Thinking of “quarantine chic” also was making me wonder about “quarantine diet”, which seems like it could go badly- either subsisting on canned food, eating exclusively takeout or delivery, or trying to, for example, learn how to bake, so you’re making lots of bread (as I’ve read people are doing, according to Twitter). There probably could be other examples of quarantine entertainments (again, depending on living circumstances)- I imagine a young couple being quarantined in their apartment might come up with different entertainments than, say, a family living in a house or an extended family holed up in their vacation home. Of course, at least streaming is a thing now, so people can always Netflix and Disney+ and whatever to their heart’s content rather than being limited to their video collections or listening to the radio (or merely reading books or playing board games).

I remember recently thinking about how it would be interesting to try living like someone during the 1918 flu epidemic (or any other pandemic in history, for that matter). It might be difficult now that I think about it- for one thing, they didn’t have the Internet in 1918, so your entertainment choices would be limited to reading books, playing cards, board games (at least, anything invented before 1920), and maybe going outside, but you certainly wouldn’t have Netflix, Wikipedia, the Internet, YouTube, or myriad other things. I suppose they did have records in 1918, so you might be able to argue that you could listen to music, but that would of course limit you to your physical media collection (none of this “streaming” nonsense).

I can’t particularly think of anything else I wanted to write here, so I suppose I’ll return with more random thoughts at a later time.

Life, uh, finds a way

It’s been a minute since I’ve written here, it’s true. For the most part, I’ve been well- global pandemic and the presence of COVID-19 in the area for almost a month aside, I’ve thought that seeing how people react has been weird. Among other things, I’ve thought it funny that all the commercials I’ve seen and heard these days (at least from local businesses) seem to fall into the categories of either “we are temporarily closed and look forward to serving you once this crisis is over” or “we’re still open, and we’re taking special precautions to continue to serve you!”

There have been a few changes at work- as a convenience store “team member”, I apparently count as an essential employee, so that’s been fun*! I can write more about that another time, though. Fortunately, I guess I can count my blessings that at least I still have a job, and since I was already taking an online class this semester Before Everything Changed, there haven’t really been any major disruptions. I was already socially isolated before it was cool! Er, wait. Hahaha.

Anyway, I have been glad that at least I haven’t had to deal with transitioning from physical meetings to online classes (I’ve seen it written somewhere that this has been the largest distance learning experiment in history, which I think makes sense- I doubt that schools everywhere would try this on such a large scale without some major incentive, like, oh, I don’t know, a pandemic!), and while my current living situation may not be “optimal”, at least I don’t have to worry about any kids, roommates, or significant others adding stress. I can certainly and unfortunately imagine that if something like this had happened a few years ago, either my then-girlfriend would have exerted additional pressure to move in together, or I would be juggling having to stay in contact with her and worrying about her health in addition to my own stresses. Of course, another possibility I’ve contemplated is being stuck living with a significant other and wanting out, but again, fortunately I don’t have to deal with that.

Anyway, brief life update aside, recently my hours at work have been cut, so it’s been nice working a bit less. Working half the hours that I was working a couple months ago, well, that’s less ideal from a financial perspective, but oh well. This past weekend I spent some time tinkering with a computer so I could work on an assignment, and I got it set up, as well as reinstalling Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, a grand strategy game made by Paradox Interactive back in the early 2000s. I don’t remember offhand when the game came out- maybe 2004? Anyway, I’ve been playing it recently, which has been fun. Unlike, say, Hearts of Iron or some of their other games, Victoria primarily focuses on economics and politics, so war and military technology isn’t as much of a focus. Sure, there is some, but the basic unit types are infantry, cavalry, dragoons, heavy ships, light ships, and transport ships- the main differences are in their stats, not necessarily their appearance. If you’re looking at the game when it starts in 1836 and near the game’s end in 1935, it’s going to look pretty similar, and you’d have to drill down a little bit (or look at the animated unit icons for your navy) to notice much difference between the Napoleonic flintlock muzzle loader-armed army of 1835 and the interwar bolt-action rifle and machine gun-armed army of 1935.

My first game Sunday night was playing as Persia (Iran), which was slightly fun. I didn’t do much, but I “westernized” fairly early, and aside from crushing frequent rebellions, not much happened. I stayed out of war for the most part, aside from joining a Russian war against my Ottoman neighbors in the late 1910s, and near the end of the game I did expand a little bit (taking half of Afghanistan and a piece of the modern United Arab Emirates, for example). Since I was mostly watching time pass, that allowed me to occasionally catch glimpses of what happened in the rest of the world, such as the US going fascist after the fascists won an election in 1921, the socialists winning several US elections in the 1800s, Denmark and Sweden uniting to form Scandinavia, the United States of Central America staying united, and Italy colonizing a vast area in Africa. Also, apparently Italy was unified from the south in that timeline, rather than the north.

The second game I started yesterday was playing as the United States of Central America, which historically fell apart after civil war in the late 1830s. I had a similar thing happen in my game, as when I’ve played as Central America in the past, but this time I managed to survive, and after the reactionary aristocrat rebels took the capital, they apparently decided to install a monarchy, which then somehow became a constitutional monarchy (not sure why, maybe the events fired at the same time or something). Anyway, alternate historical weirdness like this is what I always enjoy about historical strategy games like this (“what if Germany didn’t unite? What if the US joined Texas in a war against Mexico in 1836? What if Scandinavia united in the 1800s?”), and after playing that game as Persia, aside from wanting to play a game of Victoria 2 (which I don’t own yet, but I’ve been thinking about buying now that I have a Windows computer), I’ve been thinking that I have these settings, but I don’t know how to use them.

There probably are stories that could be told in that world (an alternate history fiction where, e.g., Russia controls half the Middle East and the other Great Powers are trying to protect their interests in Asia), but I don’t have any particular ideas at the moment. Of course, I have a few other ideas that I’ve been wanting to pursue, and at the moment laziness or distraction seems to be my main problem, particularly since I’m currently down to working less than 20 hours a week rather than almost 40.

Of course, there’s also always the job search which I should be working on, as I’ve been saying for months.

My birthday is later this week- perhaps I’ll write again here later.

Like a rolling stone

I decided earlier tonight to write another post here, and while trying to decide on a title I thought of the phrase “a rolling stone gathers no moss.” Originally I had considered “Moss gathering”, as a play on “woolgathering”, before I remembered the Bob Dylan song “Like a Rolling Stone”.

I resolved the lease dilemma (at least for now) by talking to my apartment complex office and deciding to go month-to-month, so that allows me to move on to the next problem. Since I’m not tied down by a lease, this does allow me more flexibility than if I was still tied to my current apartment for another year.

I suppose the next major thing is to find another job. I was talking to my dad earlier today, and I’ve been sporadically saying for at least a couple months now that I need to get back on the job search. I don’t remember when I last submitted a job application, but it might have been like October?

Working on Super Bowl Sunday could have been worse- this is Chiefs country, and I had expected it to be busier, but other than multiple orders that were all due at the same time, for once we had a decent number of people and preparation in place so we were ready for it to be busier. Once the game started at 5:30 and the pre-game rush was over, it was pretty dead the rest of the night. I had thought we might have a half-time or post-game rush, but I wasn’t following the game too closely and that never materialized. Of course, it was also a Sunday and most people would have had work and school the next day, so that was also probably a factor. Continue reading

Dilemma

Should I renew my lease?

That is the dilemma of the title.

When I moved into my current apartment in September 2015, I originally signed a 6-month lease, which I’ve renewed several times. I’ve been getting lease renewal offers from my apartment complex since mid-December, and my lease ends at the end of March. I’m supposed to give 60 days notice if I am going to vacate, and I have been guilty of trying not to think about the decision, which anyone could probably tell you is not the best way to make a decision.

Fortunately, I don’t have anyone making this decision for me! For the past 2 years, I have been single, and aside from my job and friends from work, I don’t really have any ties to my current city. Sure, I got my bachelor’s degree here, but I don’t have a girlfriend or fiancee with ties to the area, which would be a factor if it existed. Of course, I also remember my ex talking about living together, once upon a time, and if I did have a girlfriend or fiancee and we had been together long enough, I’m sure that would be a consideration! “Oh yeah, my lease is expiring in a few months,” “well, we’ve been together about a year, wanna live together?” Not sure how my family would feel about that, but of course I don’t have a girlfriend, so I don’t even have to worry about that!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem clear-cut either. Maybe I’m overthinking things, but moving back in with my parents and looking for a next step seems like failure. It’s not, objectively- sure, culturally we Americans are usually not fond of moving back in with parents after high school/college, but I think The Great Recession of the late 2000s/early 2010s may have sort of changed that, or at least made it less of a stigma. I know about 10 years ago was, or at least seemed like, more of a failure considering I quit going to my college classes, but right now I can’t think of any negatives in my life. Sure, I’m single and occasionally lonely (though that hasn’t really been a problem this year, fingers crossed), but being single seems better than being in a bad relationship. I don’t have any entanglements with my ex- she did ask me for favors before she left this city, but among other things I think that was due to her not knowing anyone else, and very possibly not wanting to get to know anyone else, whereas at least she knew me (even if she thought I was a jerk for breaking up with her). That digression aside, as mentioned I don’t really have anything tying me to my current city. Moving back home to the country wouldn’t mean that I was stuck there forever either- it seems generous of my parents to say that they’ll help me, but that may be due to my reading or imagining horror stories where parents are like “nope, sorry, you’re 18 now, figure it out yourself.”

I thought maybe I had more to offer here, but I feel the proverbial well running dry- maybe I’m just distracted. Anyway, I’m not happy with the current stagnation and I want a change, though I’m also not sure what the future holds, and I’m not keen on diving into the unknown- I’d rather know, for example, that I would be able to find a satisfying job or at least some sense of progress or success, rather than “oh, the future is unknown, and you might find a better job quickly or it might take you another year of living at home working in an unsatisfactory job and filling out job applications with no clear result.”

I dislike being so far from family, but I also like doing my own thing and not having to share space with anyone (whether that’s a dog in my lap or my mom going to bed at 10 PM while I stay up until 4 AM).

I should decide, but every time I’ve mentioned it to someone recently it seems like they just say “well, you’ll just have to decide” which is true, but I’d rather have something more tangible and specific, even if it’s not strictly “here’s what I think you should do.”

Late night thoughts

I’ll begin by saying I should probably keep this brief. A more comprehensive update can come later. Whenever I decide to write that.

I don’t remember offhand if I’ve written it here before, but I am in a rut. I’ve had the same job for 6 years (7, if you count the year I worked for the same company at a different location), I’ve lived in the same apartment for 4 years as of yesterday, I broke up with my first girlfriend 1 year and 9 months ago, and I earned my bachelor’s degree 9 months ago. Aside from my ex no longer being in the picture and the changes associated with that (no needy girlfriend to entertain, but also no ex asking for occasional favors), I’m not sure my life has dramatically changed recently, which is both sort of good and bad. On the bright side, of course, my brother did get married just over a month ago, so technically I gained a sister-in-law, and I could get further into the weeds, but suffice it to say I’ve been unhappy. Sure, I make do and try to find some satisfaction, but the daily grind is irritating at times, and I’ve been burnt out, at least professionally, for what seems like a while. Probably at least a year, possibly a couple.

Recently, the beginning of the new semester, the anniversary of starting our relationship, and other things have made me think of my ex. Continue reading

A winter’s day

Originally, I was going to title this post “Hello, world” a la programming, then I thought of “Hello again, world”, which led to “Hello darkness my old friend”, from Simon and Garfunkel, which in turn led to their song “I Am a Rock”: “A winter’s day/in a deep and dark December”. Today being the winter solstice, it seemed particularly fitting (though the sun is shining, and recently the weather around here hasn’t seemed particularly wintry).

So, what’s been happening? I don’t remember offhand when I last wrote here, but I’m sure it’s been a minimum of a few months. In lieu of condensing six (or more) months into a post, I’ll just say that I ended this semester (and my college undergraduate career) on a strong note. Despite unexpected car trouble (after retrieving the book I loaned to my ex-girlfriend), I did well on the final presentation for one class and I apparently did well enough on the final paper for my other class, so I’m satisfied with the results.

I’ve been working less lately, which has been a nice change, though I still need to spend some time over this winter break looking for a new job, or an internship, or something. I think I’ve been burned out on my current job since at least the start of the school year- possibly, if not probably, longer than that. Continue reading

Saturday night’s all right?

I don’t know what to write, but I feel like I should write something.

The semester started the week before last, and the two classes I’m retaking this semester shouldn’t be too challenging. I’ve taken them before, I basically know what’s expected, and I know what my mistakes were last semester- I just have to get them done, and hopefully get good grades. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m working on the job search front, but no progress yet.  Continue reading

Beginnings and Endings

I hadn’t realized it had been more than six months since I wrote here, but somehow that’s not a surprise. I know I had forgotten I had this blog until recently- and I don’t even remember what reminded me. I think it was visiting some site that used WordPress.

Anyway, the big story in my personal life of the last month is breaking up with the girl that I had been in a relationship with for two years. While I’ve been wanting to write about it (particularly since we have sort of started communicating again), I also am leery of writing too much here. Among other reasons, it’s weird imagining her reading anything I write here (though I don’t think I ever told her I had a blog), to say nothing of her current boyfriend, her family, or Internet archaeologists of the future. Haha. Anyway, to abbreviate a long story, she had started talking about wanting an engagement ring and a wedding proposal soon, and I didn’t want to propose to her. After several weeks of arguing about it and her departure for the winter break, she gave me the ultimatum of either proposing or breaking up. I didn’t want to propose, so we broke up. We maintained sporadic contact (mostly initiated by her) for about the next week and a half, and at some point I apparently made her think I had changed my mind. Once I told her that I hadn’t, she said she didn’t want to talk to me unless I had changed my mind or unless it was about getting her stuff back. Aside from a few text messages, some of which I’m sure were intended to make me jealous or otherwise upset, we had stopped talking, which has been its own adjustment. I can write more about that later.

Unfortunately, the spring semester began Tuesday. On the bright side, I only have one class Tuesdays and Thursdays, but this good news is somewhat marred by the fact this class is at 9:30 AM (not good news for this night owl, especially on nights I work until midnight) and the fact that Mondays and Wednesdays this semester I have three classes spaced out between 11:15 AM and 6:45 PM. Of course, since the semester just started, I haven’t had any serious assignments yet, but I’m not looking forward to having assignments and projects due.

In other news, I’ve been playing a lot of Stellaris lately (and this was particularly true before this week). I decided to start working on another AAR, this time based on playing as a Trade League (ethoi: Pacifist Xenophile Materialist) after playing a brief game because I had never tried the Corporate Dominion civic. At the moment I’ve been having mild “writer’s block” not quite knowing how I want to start it. I have decided I want this to be sort of a history, rather than the narrative story based on another Stellaris game that I played last summer. With that in mind, I’ve decided I want to start with a sort of prologue of the first ruler’s term covering the first twenty years of the game. Right now I think I’ve decided on listing the achievements of the first term (information about planets colonized, technologies researched, economic growth, diplomacy, etc.) before I start writing the history proper. Of course, before I write that history, I’ll also have to play past 2220, and decide whether I want to go with the random election, or burn most of my current Influence reserve and keep my current ruler for another twenty years. Decisions, decisions.

Well, I’m overdue to go to bed, so that’s all for now. I’ll try to write more here later- if nothing else, writing a blog post might make me feel more accomplished than some of the alternatives.