Archives for the month of: August, 2012

I’ve always admired people that have what I do not. In this case, total self-confidence. I do have self-confidence in certain situations, but it is not a constant flow. I know that sometimes people may portray this air about them, yet they are not as confident as they seem.

What comes to mind is a boss from long ago. She was originally from Sri Lanka and I will always remember and admire her self-confidence and entrepreneurial spirit. She pushed forward even if there was doubt. If she didn’t know something, she would tell a client, “sure, we can do that,” even if she wasn’t absolutely sure what the program was, and she would quickly either find a way to do it herself or because of the business she ran—computer training for corporations—she would find a person who knew how. She had enough confidence in her abilities to know that if she didn’t have a solution right then, she would surely figure it out in time.

There are so many people that have emigrated here to the United States, who followed the spirit of this land and it amazes me how they did it. They leave their countries, come here with practically nothing but a vision and desire and make it happen. And then there are some people that have been living in this land of opportunity that have become used to the gifts of the land or who have no reason to break new ground and quite possibly forget how lucky they are to live in such a free country. Of course, there are also those of this country who have that same entrepreneurial sprit. We have seen many come and go.

I admire this spirit and cheer for those who are successful.

My co-worker just asked me yesterday if I had heard back from the folks—entrepreneurs—that I interviewed for. I said that I had not and that the interview went well and I followed up with a thank you email and that they would be in touch one way or the other. I said that it could be a while. They had several applicants for the open positions and they would not have a need for a couple of months. They were being proactive for upcoming business. I also admire proactive people. I am one myself.

Later that evening, coincidentally, I received a call and it was one of the owners of the company calling back to say they had narrowed the interviewed applicants down to a few and that I was in that pool. The next step would be reference and background checks and then they would make their final decision. I admit, that yet again, I have had a few of those heart to heart conversations with God. I wasn’t asking for the job, only asking that he continue to guide me in the proper direction, that, yes, I would like to have this job. It would be an opportunity to learn, branch out while keeping my other part-time position. More than anything, the learning opportunity and being more productive is most attractive to me right now.

I’ve thought upon the changes by deciding to work full-time again by having two part-time positions. I have searched throughout the years, but I didn’t want to be hasty. I didn’t want a regular full-time position with one company, and I wanted to be sure I found a company that I felt good working for. This feels like the one. I will be ever so happy if I am offered the position and if not, I will be glad to have gone through the process, since it had been long since I had.

The biggest change if I get offered the position is I will have less time for reading and writing. In a way, though, I have done a lot of both over these years. I’ve had the time by choice and I feel satisfied and happy about that. I am ready. Ready to move on to a new chapter. Reading and writing will always be there. They always have been.

The entrepreneurial spirit seems an essential ingredient in writing for publication. Eventually the published writer, depending on their situation, will be in a position where they have to sell themselves. That’s the part I don’t care much for. One of the things I’m beginning to feel from participating in the writer’s group is a real excitement for witnessing one of the first of the group to see one of their larger works to publication. A few are working on novellas and a few of us are working on smaller pieces. I’m enjoying the process more than anything. Of course it would be nice to see one little essay or one short story of my own published, but that goal has been overtaken with the joy of the process itself and seeing others succeed. In a way, I already feel published—if that makes any sense. As I said, I feel a sense of satisfaction and closure, and knowing that I may have less time to spend writing, may actually catapult me and focus me forward. It may even give a kick to my creativity.

I feel that I’ve been writing since I was born and of course that’s not possible. But, being so introspective, being a quiet child who lived an interior life—in that sense it feels that I wrote as a ghost writing in the sky. And I was also written onto by my surroundings. I struggled in school, especially writing between junior high through my first year of community college. I really couldn’t write proper sentences and had trouble getting my thoughts out. I always want to remember this because it is such a gift to myself that I didn’t give up and that I still write and express myself in ways I would never have imagined. That means everything to me. That can never be taken from me.

I do not have a true entrepreneurial spirit, but I admire it in others. I applaud and cheer for those of you out there!

With each small risk or new adventure, no matter the size, I do gain self-confidence. But I do not forget where I’ve come from, and that allows me to maintain some sense of balance and compassion toward my fellow human beings and myself.

A few months back, I found myself browsing through the shelves of science fiction/fantasy at Barnes & Noble. I was in search of a compilation of stories. I wasn’t finding anything and then a clean white spine stood out to me: Stories: All-New Tales Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. I didn’t recognize either name, but I was sold by the small description on the back cover. I don’t usually spend time in this section of the bookshelves and that’s exactly why I was here. I began reading the book at my leisure and I’ve kept this book up on the bedroom windowsill with a few stacks of other books that I sift through on a regular basis. Some receive more attention than others. I had set this book aside for some time, but it was still in sight.

While reading through introductions of other classmates at the online course website, I saw Neil Gaiman’s name listed as a favorite of another student; it may have come up a few times. It didn’t register 100 percent, not until I was gazing at the spines of my books on the windowsill the other morning. That’s when I honed in on the name Gaiman and it’s then that I remembered. I took the book from the shelf and sifted to the stories in the book. Ah, his story was one that I had found magical.

Yesterday I went on Google to learn more about Neil Gaiman and his editing partner, Al Sarrantonio. I then recognized that I had actually downloaded a few Kindle books by Al Sarrantonio month’s ago. I hadn’t realized that Neil Gaiman wrote the young adult book, Coraline, which was made into a movie that I haven’t yet seen that I’m now eager to read and watch. I am also interested in reading more of Gaiman’s short stories and am happy to see that the library has a few collections, as well as his other full-length fiction.

While searching around, that is when I came across this video where Gaiman addresses future artists. It’s inspiring, and I find Neil Gaiman to be quite charming.

I love moments of discovery like this, when something wonderful is right under your nose, when you knew you were being pulled, but you didn’t realize it at the time and didn’t know it would only get better.

Enjoy!

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012
http://vimeo.com/42372767

 

 

When I was trying to find images that August made me think of, the first that popped into my head: August is a beach bum, hanging onto lazy summer days. And then I thought…if I had a son, I think I’d like to name him August or maybe he can become a character in one of my stories, only he wouldn’t be a beach bum at all. He would be a boy—a man who loved life, he would be active and have dreams and he would follow them and he would embrace all the seasons.

August would be the center that holds all the seasonal spokes together. That will be August’s place for me, for all the other months have a place, they bring the seasons into sharp focus, but this August, he is illusive. He is a trickster—and just as summer lingers a little while longer, with the blink of an eye, August has turned to September—the end of August harks the beginning of inward change, a slowing down, and the beginning of deep contemplation—a stir down to the depths where light becomes muted and layers of a faint glow flicker.

Sometimes I react to situations without first taking a step back.

At work I am occasionally frustrated by my computer’s inability to work as fast as I’d like it to. A combination of factors usually contributes to this. It could be that too many people are accessing the network at the same time; or it could simply be that the computer needs to be replaced. Most of the time, it’s the case that the temporary files need to be dumped. I will then run a free program, that a co-worker told us about, called CCleaner when I notice the sluggishness in certain programs, and once I run it, and reboot the computer, my computer problems are gone, until the next computer dump.

We purchased a new shredder for the boss about eight months ago. It’s the type of shredder where you can put roughly 100 sheets of paper in the tray, close the lid, and the shredder will begin shredding without the need to feed it sheets of paper. This is convenient and efficient. The other day the boss called out to me from his office and asked if we were still under warranty on the shredder. He thought it was broken. “It’s not shredding anymore,” he said. “I’ve tried everything. Can you please call and find out how we ship it back and get a new one.”

“Can I have a look first,” I asked.

“Sure, go ahead.” I walked over and stood looking down at the shredder in his office. He was still hovering over it.

“Could you please move, so that I can have a closer look?”

He backs away from the machine. I lift the cover, place the pages down, and shut the cover. It begins shredding and then stops. Hmm. I hear the boss say something. He’s convinced the shredder needs to be replaced.

I get down on my hands and knees, open the door to the shredder, and pull out some loose shreds that have fallen to the far back. I then crane my head and look up into the mouth of the shredder where the teeth are. I see a few pieces caught between the teeth. I pull them out, close the door and the lid. The machine begins shredding and it continues shredding until its job is done.

“It seems to be working now,” I say.

“Thanks,” he says followed by some compliment. He is not very free with compliments, mind you. But he makes up for it in other ways.

This small episode reminded me of how easy it is to jump to conclusions, whether it’s as inconsequential as dealing with a piece of machinery or as significant as dealing with another human being. It’s important that we step back, give the situation space, assess the facts, allow ourselves to be objective—and above all—think through all possibilities, as humanly as we can, before we decide.

Friday afternoon I took a walk during my work break. On my way back to the office, at the stoplight, I waited for the signal to turn to green and when it did, I first looked to my left to the car that was eager to turn right into the crosswalk, even though I had the right away. I caught his eye and began to walk. As he passed, his foot was clearly pressed hard to the accelerator—body language—from his irritation and his impatience directed toward and out of his car.

I was annoyed. It seems that I also have a tendency to take humans communicating through their cars personally. I made it to the other side of the crosswalk, onto the sidewalk, when I saw a man and his dog. The dog was a grown puppy. He reminded me of my childhood dog whom I loved dearly. He was my pal. This puppy was a lighter golden color. When I set my eyes on the puppy, all traces of my annoyance faded away. Forgotten. A large smile covered my face as I continued to watch the puppy walk with his floppy legs and happy gait. He was a couple of paces behind his owner. Walking and walking, happy and adorably clumsy, then the puppy lifted a leg and peed right there—in the middle of the sidewalk. I was about seven feet behind. I didn’t laugh, but I continued smiling. The man saw me. He tried to pull gently on the puppy’s leash. It was no use. He then said to the puppy, “really? Here. Really?”

“Is he a retriever?” I asked, slowing down, as I was about to pass. He answered that yes he was. “He is absolutely adorable,” I said.

“Thank you. I really appreciate that,” he said, holding the leash as the puppy finished his business. As I walked by, the puppy gave me a quick hello with his snout. I moved ahead appreciative to see such a happy puppy with not a care in the world. I walked back to work with a lighter step.