JR’s Not-So-Literal Blog

Leaving Too Much Of A Good Thing At The Table

Posted in Uncategorized by notsoliteral on July 30, 2009

“Well, I’ll lay my boots to rest when I’m impressed. So, I triple knot ’em and forgot ’em.”~Aesop Rock

I’m going to respond to Holly Hoffman’s post about being a workaholic, or using the term as a vail for lacking better things to do with one’s life.

I accept Holly’s point that no job or goal in life is worth one’s health. I’ve honestly felt quite sympathetic regarding her repeated health issues and can fully agree with her decisions to scale back her ambitions whether permanently or temporarily. Sometimes young people get ahead of themselves with what they think can be piled on their plates and just overwhelm their senses completely by working all day, all night, not sleeping enough and neglecting their bodies. Complete balance always seems to be just out of reach, but taking time out to at least seek a balance in most aspects of your life is healthy and smart.

However, I also feel if people are interested in bettering themselves, their situations or the lives of people around them through superhuman feats of work, weird sleep patterns and periods of irrational emotional behavior, more power to them. I come from a poor, single-parent family, so already in my quite modest income, I find myself upwardly mobile. How about that? That’s thanks to my hard work and the opportunities that some kind people have offered (that I made sure to capitalize on) I find myself in an even better position to continue bettering myself.

At 25, working a full time job, a part time job and running a small freelance copy writing operation, I am working more now than I ever have in my whole life. I’m taking care of myself physically, but I don’t sleep as much as I should. However, some new developments, specifically this new part time gig, have given me the new vigor I need to push through the weariness and emotional pain of being tired so that I can eventually take my current situation to the next level. Plus I’m refusing to look for meaningless work anymore. I crave meaning and finding meaning on the messy bedroom floor of life is no easy task. It takes work.

Do I have a social life? Yes, I do. I see my friends, I go to hip hop shows, I go to cafes and I go on dates. Do I have a huge block of free time for someone else to fill up? No, I don’t. However, I feel like I can still be the best person possible to the people I care about because I do in fact care about them.

So, what does this all say about me? Well, I happen to be in good physical health, of strong mind and of solid will. My intent is guiding me and the fact that I’m able to tie those factors together makes me a desirable person to have around, both on a personal and professional level. I’m quite happy and proud to be labeled a workaholic, but on second thought, I’d probably want to come up with a better name for it… How about fisher of awesome fish? 😀

Some people work themselves to death. Some people do whatever they can to not lift a finger their whole lives. It’s a choice you can make. If you grow into an adult, the least you can do is make a choice and live with it. If you can find better things to do in life than work because you see something more, than by all means, collect unemployment and do your thang. If you’re willing to kill yourself by working 100 hours a week for a corporation that could very well not care if you exist, go for it! Me, I’ll work hard for a bit and hopefully have the presence of mind to take my chips and leave my cards at the table when the time is right.

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My Ongoing Story With The Peace Corps

Posted in Uncategorized by notsoliteral on July 18, 2009

Two years ago I decided to sign up for the Peace Corps. I had studied abroad, learned Czech, found the job market blew when I graduated and was looking for a general “out” that would expand my horizons. I happened to be in a relationship at the time, but throughout that period, I had acted upon my desires to improve my life rather than prolong the relationship. I had my priorities, albeit slightly contradictory, that I started to follow through on. At the time I was working for an elderly human services agency just outside of Boston and was getting restless in the job I held. So, I told my friends, family, girlfriend (at the time) and employer that I was going to the Peace Corps.

The process to sign up and interview all took around 3 months. I searched for placements and graduate programs around the program for about 6 months, so the process was really long. I got a tentative assignment in Moldova, a former Soviet occupied state and I was super pumped. I had wanted to go to a Russian or Slavic based language assignment because of my background with Czech, I felt I’d adapt more quickly that to Spanish, Chinese or some other foreign tongue.

As the process moved along, I was in disbelief that it was actually happening so smoothly. I met a woman at a New Years party who is now in South America doing Peace Corps work and hers went smoothly too. Too good to be true? Well, I did get the call I wasn’t wanting to hear; the background check came in and they saw an incident from when I was 17. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong people to be around. Dumb teenager stuff really, but I did get in trouble with some townie police outside of Worcester and was later acquitted completely. But, this dumb incident was still on my record and they needed all sorts of paperwork and legal stuff to make a decision to whether I’d be accepted or not. I was really crushed because I felt my past had come back to haunt me in the way I knew it would some day.

So, I “gave up.” Not in the positive way that Seth Godin talks about in “The Dip,” but rather I shirked away from taking a couple days off from work and driving back to the hillbilly town that arrested me and getting all my paperwork and legal documents in order. I told myself that all the effort to do that wouldn’t be rewarded, so why bother?

Well, two years later and here I am, losing sleep over it. My friend in the military is thinking about doing a Peace Corps stint after his next tour of duty and he’s really adamant I at least try to follow through once more on getting an assignment abroad with PC. With this economy the way it is, why not? I’m 25, I’ve got no unbreakable commitments outside of the ones to myself at the moment and this is something I’ve always wanted to do.

So, I’m re-applying to join the Peace Corps. I’m doing what needs to be done and leaving no stones unturned in the fulfillment of my life. Wish me luck!

The Right To Be Wrong and Try Again

Posted in Uncategorized by notsoliteral on July 8, 2009

What happens when you make up you mind about the means to an end because the end is truly something you want and about half way through the means with which you need to get to your end you think to yourself, “gee, this could work, but I could change by the time I get there.”

For close to three years I discovered a different type of means to my end of what I wanted for myself. A relationship, a free bird mentality out the window and another person outside of myself to base some of my life’s decisions around. Honestly, I kept one foot out the door throughout much of the relationship, but in all, I saw a future for the two of us and did my best to mentally prepare for that.

Learning to care about another person’s dreams as much as my own wasn’t easy. I took to myself when I left home at 18 and did a lot of self-fulfilling and self-destructive stuff along the way. Whether another person intimately cared for me at any point was not something I considered important. Yet, I found myself quite seriously involved with another person who brought out some of the best characteristics I never knew I had in myself. I loved; plain and simple and that alone felt great.

On the other hand, there was the growing apart thing that I didn’t like so much. An age difference and me being the older of the two by a couple years caused some striking differences in developmental perception in your young adulthood. I graduated, got a job, quit, got another job, wanted to quit, wanted to move, wanted to start a business, wanted to move against, etc. These were all ideas I thought could work and was willing to pursue.

All along, and progressively moreso, I tried working the image of “us” into these constantly changing plans. I accepted her for who she was but pained over the knowledge that our death blow could be because of our basic moral compases pointing in opposite directions. I suppose we tolerated and partially ignored much of this issue which brewed into an unpleasant batch of resentment and confusion.

The breaking point wasn’t pronounced or dramatic, but more of a disintegration or running out of gas. Sputter, tick, stop, gone.

Can’t really help but be sad about the absence. The absence of something that I cherished yet didn’t understand is something I’ll need to naturally deal with over time. I’ve been lucky to have dealt with it through my friends and my work, but the consequences of my reality changing so drastically are interesting.

Everything I’ve chosen to do over the past 3 years has been influenced by the idea of a person and what I needed to do to co-exist with her. That person is no longer a part of my life and now I need to change course because my original intentions were not fulfilled and cruising in the same direction won’t benefit me.

Much of the angst and worry I felt was knowing that being with someone who didn’t share the same values as me could take me somewhere I wouldn’t want to be, yet I managed to stay on board and make changes to my goals and plans that would have allowed me to stay on track. Why? That’s something I need to figure out.

But, I know I was wrong and I also need to act upon that. The time wasn’t wasted, but anymore living for the part of my life that has passed is wasted.

So folks, I’m up for trying again. Love, careers and experiences of all sorts await. If you don’t see me where you expected me based of what you’ve gotten to know about me in the recent past; well that’s a good thing 🙂

Thunderously Awake and Craving Simplicity

Posted in Uncategorized by notsoliteral on July 2, 2009

In 2005 I woke up in a terrible thunderstorm in the summer around 5:30 AM and I knew my great grandfather wasn’t on this earth anymore. I couldn’t shake the feeling, but I also had an uncontrollable urge to get out and try to run a few miles. I went for a run and felt great and later that day I found out my grandfather had passed away right around the time I woke up.

This morning I woke up in another thunderstorm. I could hear the water rushing down the hill that I live on and all I wanted to do was sell everything I own. Simplicity is what I want this morning. I’ve read about people selling everything they own only so that they have enough to fit in 2 large suitcases and maybe a backpack. My friend who travels the world did it and I’ve always envied him for it. I’ve casually talked about doing this much to the horror of my family and friends who graciously bless me with gifts throughout the year. Now I’ve compiled a whole lot of “stuff” that neither provides essential use nor does it make me feel good about myself.

I’d be curious to speak with someone who has done this or had this urge. It’s not the first time I’ve felt like selling all my belongings and hopefully it won’t be a fluke. Please feel free to leave a comment if you have felt similar or even if you think I’m being crazy James.

In the mean time, does anybody need a box of books?

The Best Cities For Gen Y: The Ones We Haven’t Been To Yet

Posted in Uncategorized by notsoliteral on July 1, 2009

For those of you who may have checked out the latest edition of the Brazen Community Newsletter there was a link to another top list of places where generation Y folks would fit well. Two cities that I have lived in are on the list and I find it amusing, yet semi-confusing how these lists are accurately compiled and how most Gen Y’ers feel about them.

I’m going out on a limb and stating that cost-of-living compared to the availability of living wage jobs with a mixture of culture and diversity makes the best city for a Generation Y person such as myself. Boston rocks, but it is expensive as sin to live in and the jobs for a creative person aren’t so easy to come by. Worcester, a city further down the list that I happen to live in now is cool too; plenty of culture, diversity and things to do, but no jobs! Most people in Worcester need to travel outside of the city to Boston or the burbs.

I say the best place to live is the place I haven’t lived yet where I find a kick ass job and can afford my own place and go out for an art show, hip-hop concert and good meal every once in a while. I’d also like to be able to walk around safely and ride my bike places! That’s what I want.

Any suggestions?