Saturday, June 23, 2007

The One He Didn't Love

Over the next several weeks, I will be posting the first parts of several of the short stories I've been working on, between other actual blog entries. Any feedback is welcome.

Corin Maloney is a recurring character for me, in 3 shorts so far. I think he's interesting, and this story intro doesn't get to the interesting part. But it starts to.

Corin Maloney stared at the pinched glass of Glenfiddich single malt 12-year-old scotch as it sweated onto the bartop. It was all he ever drank. He drank it because he liked the taste, and the familiarity, and the memories it evoked. He liked the smell as it melted the ice, and the hint of vinegar from the two olives he always requested. Mostly, he drank it because it reminded him of Alicia. He saw her soft angular face in the ice cubes, saw a sparkle of her eyes in the mix of the amber liquid. It was all he ever drank with her, she a Cosmo, he a Glen single malt on the rocks, two olives. It made him miss her with a tightening twist in his gut that the alcohol slowly loosened. And he was able to drink it slowly as it did so, so he could keep his wits about him, for what needed to be done, this night, or the next, or the next, by him, and him alone.

The door to his right opened, and his eyes alone shifted to regard the form silhouetted in the darkened bar by a blaring streetlight outside the door. His eyebrows tightened in recognition. She shouldn’t have come. His wife made her way straight to him, and stood to his right, hands on her hips, waiting for his acknowledgement. Though the seats to either side of him were empty, as were most of the seats at the bar, she didn’t sit. He motioned to her with the glass, as toasting a salute, before tipping the glass to his lips.

“You shouldn’t be here,” she said.

“Oh. Well then,” he said, a mocking gesture of response. His body seemed frozen, only his right arm pivoting down, ever in economy of motion, returning glass to bartop. His eyes stayed locked on it.

“You have two kids at home, waiting for you.” She said.

“Or you,” he said, “Who’s with them now?”

“Mrs. Laragioni next door is watching them for an hour,” she said, annoyed at the inference.”I wouldn’t leave them without making sure they were safe. I care about my family. I wouldn’t have left them at all, but to come down here and find you.”

“I wasn’t lost,” Corin said. “I told you where I’d be. Told I’d be home late.”

“Like you’ve told me every night for the last month,” she said. “You sit here and bend your elbow every night of the week, coming in at all hours and going right to sleep. I can smell the scotch and cheap cigarette smoke on you. And God knows what else. I gave up smoking for you. I don’t need you coming home smelling like it.”

Corin tilted the glass, gently. He liked to watch the ice cubes, the way the thousand tiny bubbles lay frozen at the center of the cubes, trapped until time and warmth freed them to make their way to the surface, and freedom.

“But do I come home,” he said. “Every night, I come home.”

Her lips tightened. “And I’m supposed to be happy about that?” She said, “Like that’s a big something?”

He shrugged. It was the most animation he’d shown since she arrived. It ought to be a big something, he thought. It ought to count that I’m still with you.

“What the hell do you come here for, anyway? We have bars in our neighborhood. Nicer places. Places you don’t have to take two trains to get to. So why here? Who do you come to see?” she said, scanning the darkened bar. Some of the patrons shifted uncomfortably at the review, shrinking more into the darkened corners of the booths that lined the walls. “Is it her? Does she meet you here?”

She had been the only way Mary had ever referred to Alicia, as the mysterious, disembodied her. It was a form of disdain that Corin chose to see as respect. Mary hadn’t appeared to have even known Alicia’s name. If only that were true. His head pivoted at the neck, to face her. His body remained solid and stock still. The ice in his glass was more animated.

“I come here to be alone, Mary,” he said. “Alone.”

It was a sad fact of Corin Maloney’s life that he preferred to spend most of it alone. It had almost been an aberration that he’d found a woman willing to put up with it, willing to marry and bear the children of a man who was so seldom present, and even when he was, so seldom actually available. But find Mary he had. And for ten year’s they’d been happy, or seemed so. He still had the erratic travel schedule that had him gone for days at a time with little notice, to locations where she couldn’t reach him, and she could not ask about. He said he was in sales, and that was the nature of his business. But five years in, five years ago, she’d recognized that for the half-truth it was. But in those ten years, he’d never been unfaithful. He’d tried to be a good husband, and a decent family man. He’d done the best he could. One does what one can, with the tools at hand, he’d often say.

Then, a year ago, he’d met Alicia. He never expected to fall for her, so far, so fast. He never considered himself the type. Corin was a coldly logical man, a problem-solver who examined every question from all sides, analyzing with quick efficiency. Considering all angles was what had made him so good at what he did. That, and acting with the speed of a snake. Alicia had changed all that. She made him act without thinking. She’d made him feel. She’d seen a side of him that no one else had, a side, prior to knowing her, he hadn’t known existed. It was as if being with her made him a different man, a better man. And he’d loved her for that, most of all. He missed that man, almost as much as he missed her. They’d met in a place much like this one, but not this one. He was here for a different reason, than to remember Alicia.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

—Robert Frost

And that's why it doesn't matter, even if nobody gets me. Even if.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Zig Zagging

When Big T was a toddler, and we first went to the local amusement park, he had a blast. Later we also went again, after Li’l T was born, and despite the fact that 80% of the park was out of their range, again they loved it. We spent most of our time at the water park, anyway. Later, Big T would ask when we could go to “Zig Zag’s” again. I pondered it for a while, and couldn’t remember a friend or a restaurant or a playground he would’ve called “Zig Zags”. After a humorous game of “remember when we...” it finally dawned on me that this is how he heard “Six Flags,” or at least how the strange name (which, when I consider it, makes no sense to me either) made sense to him. I mean, it’s got a coaster that zigs and zags, and lots of other rides that throw you all over the place. Why not “Zig Zags?” So that became what I called it, too.

Today we spent Father’s Day at Zig Zags. It was the boy’s choice, as I had too much on my plate to contemplate the question of how I’d like to spend Father’s Day. Frankly, I was also a bit lost in my own role. I love my boys more than life, but lately, with some of my choices—namely abandoning ship on my career cruise, and unwittingly throwing my family into the same life raft—I haven’t felt like much of the provider or paternal leader. I haven’t wanted to think about Father’s Day for some time, because I felt like a Bad Dad.

And maybe they sensed some of that. Maybe an outrageously extravagant day out was what they needed to feel like the center of attention again in a family thrown off kilter. And who was I not to go along? The least I could do was follow their bliss. Mine didn’t seem to be going anywhere, too quickly.

The day was great. A big brunch on the way was followed by a non-stop day of riding and swimming and laughing. Even the long lines for some of the rides didn’t dampen the spirits of the little ones, something I remembered as soul-suckingly traumatic from my childhood. And their excitement and joy was so contagious that it soon turned my mood around as well. There was none of the whining, none of the pushing, none of the buy me that, let’s do that why can’t we do this” stuff that I saw around me, or even that I remembered from them on other days at other events, from the boys. Without my having said anything, or cautioned them in any way, they were on their best behavior. And it wasn’t the kind of best behavior that you get with shifting eyes to Mom and Dad to make sure they’re doing okay, like they’d been warned to be good. It was the joyous, happy, good behavior of happy kids having a great day, and having nothing to complain about because the sun was shining, the belly was full of good food, the energy was high, and life was good. It’s the kind of day I used to dream about giving to my kids, before I had kids. And they were giving it to themselves, with me along for the ride.

They'd already given me my "official" gift earlier this month, so the trip to Zig Zags was a bonus that I considered as much a gift to them. But this was the real gift, this day. This day. Maybe sometimes you need a little zig-zagging to appreciate that the road you’re on, however rocky and twisty and uncertain and tumultuous, has some nice scenic spots. You just have to slow down from time to time to enjoy them.

Happy Father’s Day.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Googled and Oogled

Okay, this is a petty, selfish, whiney rant. But it’s all mine.

I’m neither seven years old, nor do I have two Moms. My parents are not a lesbian couple, I’ve never lived in Louisiana, and I know how to spell “bad word” without a “u”. But none of that stops my name from coming up with all these attributes after a Google search.

See, I share the same name as seven-year-old Marcus McLaurin in Ernest Gaullet Elementary School, in Lafayette, Lousiana. He became national news when he told a classmate that his mother way gay, and a zealous teacher made him stay in from recess to write that he shouldn’t have used that “bad wurd” in November 0f 2003. As a result of the coverage, a Google search for my name will result in equal parts location of my website and some history, and Wikipedia, but mainly multiple mentions of this kids story.

What really sucks is that this happened in 2003, and it seems since then the references to the story have multiplied, while the Google references to my career and history are thinning faster than my hair. I’m there on the first page, sure, but then not mentioned again until the sixth. And let’s face it folks, how many of us look through the Google results to the sixth page?

This whole thing started because I read an article that said, as part of a job search, one should Google oneself (which sounds slightly dirty) to see what comes up. The idea being that prospective employers are likely to do so, so it’s important to be forewarned and forearmed. But the article mentions nothing about what to do if you don’t like what comes up.

Anyway, I’m not sure why I should care, but for some reason I do. In this digital age, ones fifteen minutes of fame may well be translated into fifteen bytes which seem to live forever. And right now it feels like I’m sharing seven of them with a now-11-year-old boy with two Moms who is perpetually remembered for a punishment he received four years ago. I hope America has grown up a bit since then. Okay, maybe I should, too.

I’m sure by this point he wishes all the hype would go away, or it already has, except for the news archives that Google pulls up. Maybe for him, it’s ancient history, and would be until one day someone does a Google search for him and comes across the fact that he shares his name with an Art Director in Massachusetts who sued Google to have his name legally changed on all their internet servers to “The other Marcus McLaurin.”

And lost.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Adobe CS3 Creative License Conference

The Adobe Creative License Conference is coming, and you can find out about it here.

I’ve been drooling over Adobe CS3 since it was introduced at the PhotoShop World in Boston, and anxiously await my opportunity to upgrade in a month. Now I’ll be attending the Creative License Conference in New York, June 25-26th, (that’s Monday-Tuesday) giving me more opportunity to look enviously on those who already have the upgrade. I hate upgrading early for much the same reason that I won’t see blockbuster movies the first two weeks after they come out. I want to avoid the hype and the buzz, and go to the ones that earn it, and let the rest fall by the wayside. I know it's a big hype machinewhere, unbelievably, marketers have figured out how to get consumers to pay to be sold to (but then again, what else are comic book conventions, at their heart?). That said, I’ll still take the leap for the opportunity of free training and other freebies available at cattle calls like this one. Plus, the networking opportunities are rife for me, at a time when I’m searching for more opportunities. And it is only $199 for two days, and I got a 25% discount off of that through my NAPP membership. Yet again, that membership pays for itself, and once again, I recommend membership. I just wish the old maxim of finding things to spend money on just when you have the least money, didn’t ring so true.

Now, nearly everyone I know in NY either is not interested in this conference, or not in New York anymore. Luckily, there’s a left coast version in LA as well. But if you’re going to be in NY around this time, you can drop me a line!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Over the next several weeks, I will be posting the first parts of several of the short stories I've been working on, between other actual blog entries. Any feedback is welcome.

Here is the first part of another longer story, about a broadway play that skirts the edge of a live snuff film. It's also about love.

“So, you’re comparing yourself to a torture victim,” she said. A look of disbelief twisted her features, wrinkles above her nose adding character to Emily Natchez’s otherwise flawless face. Too flawless, Paul had once told her. She could use the character of a couple of wrinkles. He’d been hoping to hurt her with that. He could never say exactly why.

“No, not…I’m not saying…” Paul stammered, his hands moving around and framing his thin, stubble-darkened face. “Look, I’m just saying …”

He took a breath. He hated that she could still fluster him this way. He considered himself pretty articulate. It was a skill gained over countless cups of coffee in their East Village java hangout after film class, and years more after graduation. It was one of the few skills he took pride in, and became known for in their small circle. Since those days of being one of the golden boys of the class of 92, pride hadn’t taken him far. Lately he’d been subsisting on film reviews and other small journalistic bones from former classmates while he worked on yet another screenplay that he couldn’t sell. He was an excellent craftsman, or so he’d been told. But he was always just waiting, and looking and dreaming of that great idea he could craft into something epic. Instead, he’d found a series of almosts, a love that broke his heart, and a life that left him uninspired. Still, he considered himself a good writer, and a fairly good speaker. But being around Em seemed to wipe all of that away. She knew how to cut him off at the knees, making him feel preposterous and every bit of that insecure freshman who had first fallen in love with her. Running a hand over his forehead to smooth back stringy brown bangs, he tried to regroup.

“Torture victims…people in the military… that, you know, liked war movies or action flicks before…before whatever happened to them? After they’d had an experience in real life like that was—you know, where they really experienced that kind of violence? They’d say they couldn’t watch that kind of movie again. The reality, like, taints the film experience. The more real it seems in the film, the less they can stand it. You know?” He paused, anticipating a nod of understanding from Emily as his cue to continue. Instead, she tilted her head to one side. That gesture always reminded him of his old pet parrot, Ronald Mac. Paul had taught the bird only three swear words before the unclipped parrot skirted the bars of a partially opened window and took to the skies of lower Manhattan, never to be seen again. Emily’s gesture heightened Paul’s annoyance.

“What I’m saying is that love stories hit me the same way. I can’t stand to watch them," he said, gesturing absently in movements that reminded Emily of shucking corn. “ I just... It’s too raw, too...”

She folded her arms, head cocking in the opposite direction before bouncing into a nod. “You’re comparing yourself to a torture victim. “ she said.

He surrendered, flopping back on the worn cloth convertible couch that served as his living room and guest bed. Lately that was here he spent most nights, in fact, not bothering to fold the metal frame out, instead just flopping back onto the sofa cushions, fully clothed, to sleep off his nightly toxic elixer of scotch and coffee. To sleep, perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the rub. For in that sleep, who knows what dreams may come?

“Okay. I’m comparing myself to a torture victim, “he said through his hands, “and you’re the head whipmaster, Em.”

“That’d be whip mistress,” she smiled.

“Doesn’t matter how much you shame me, I’m not going.” He said.

“Paul, it’s just a play, for Christ’s sake.” She said. She absently checked her watch, gauging which argument she’d have to pull out to get her way in the...thirty-two minutes, twenty seconds...she had left before they had to be at the theater, “it’s a free play, past that. You haven’t been out of this dump all day, your skin’s turning to parchment, for crissake.

“I have a bit of work to do, Em,” he said, “an interview to transcribe and polish, and then two other reviews to write for tomorrow’s…”

“But what’s the point of writing reviews if it stops you from seeing the art? Come on, Pauly, the reviews are just an excuse for free invites, anyway!”

“Beg to differ, darlin’,” he said.

“And if you only review the big movies," she said, not allowing him to interrupt, “you lose out on the inside track to these kind of small art pieces, which was your purpose in getting the review gigs in the first place! This tiny, little, important play has been sold out for weeks, and you’re about to let free passes go to waste.”

“Big flicks pay the big bills. We don’t all have a loaded boyfriend to take care of our every need. Some of us work for a living."

All of us work for a living. And Clive isn’t my boyfriend. Not anymore.” She said, checking her watch again.

That got his interest. His eyes went wide, before he caught himself and looked away. But she’d seen it; the interest, the surprised mix of curiousity and possibility, and the subtle shifting of will. Nothing escaped her. But his worry now was how to cave, slowly and without obvious intention, to her will.

“Okay, small play, small venue, but big buzz. Not bad for a show with no apparent advertising budget. And a one-night shot to get the inside scoop. Maybe worth peek,” Paul said, eyes drifting over the passes on the coffee table between darts at Emily’s face. “If it means that much to you, maybe I could sell it to one of the downtown art papers.”

Emily pursed her lips. Twenty-eight minutes. Plenty of time. She still had it.

Paul picked up the tickets distractedly, to give him something to look at other than her stare, those blue eyes that seemed to pierce to his core. He studied the play’s logo at the center of each pass, with intensity, willing the flush on his face to disappear. And, for the first time, he read the title.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dream Big

Over the next several weeks, I will be posting the first parts of several of the short stories I've been working on, between other actual blog entries. Any feedback is welcome.

Here is the first part of a longer story, really a series of interlocking vignettes that connect in the final segments.

The night was dark, and the bedroom lights had been off for a half an hour when Jay spoke. Like always, the streetlights outside the window cast just enough light through the gauze of the threadbare curtains to half-illuminate their back bedroom. So it was never pitch black, just shadowy. It was sort of like a nightlight, though at ten-years-old, he was, of course, way beyond the need for such things. Really. He kind of enjoyed the suburban half-light all night for sleeping, but he did like it quiet. But slightly more than silence, he liked getting the last word in.

“Anyway, dreaming of elephants is silly,” he said.

“Why? Why is it silly?” his little sister said, from the other side of the room. Jay heard, more than saw, Cally sit bolt upright in the pitch black as she spoke. It was for dramatic effect, he was sure. But her preschool mentality didn’t appreciate that performing in the dark cut the drama. They’d shared this room from her infancy, within the confines of their small house on the outskirts of their small town. Her bed diagonally across from his since it was a crib, Jay had put up with her crying, her nightmares, her bed-wetting, and in recent months her late night philosophical conversations on the nature of moon and why cheese was stinky, but whipped cream smelled good. He even put up with her middle of the night screams when her bed nudged out from the wall, and shed fallen into the small space between the bed and the wall, rudely awakened and terrified. Jay had been the one to make a game of it, calling that space her “hidey-hole” and making it fun to the point that Mom had to stop her from ducking into it every morning when she was supposed to be getting up. Jay had gotten in trouble for that one, too. But older brothers can only be asked so much, and it was getting to be a bit much. Still, he loved her, and acknowledged his responsibility as the oldest to educate the poor thing. Without opening his eyes, he indulged her.

“Well, you need to be careful what you fit into your dreams, for one thing,” he said. “Elephants are way, way big. You shouldn’t dream things too big to fit.”

“Elephants can fit in my dreams,” Cally said. “I can fit very big things in my dreams. I like to dream big things. Once I dreamed a whole entire house in my dreams, a big mansion!”

“Yeah, but you dream a room at a time, and really, then, only a part of a room at a time, like a dresser, or a table, or a closet. It just feels like a whole house. But you never see the whole house at the same time. So, really it’s not that big.”

Jay heard the wet smack of Cally’s lower lip popping out in an angry pout. Or maybe he imagined he heard it. Either way, he was sure the pout was there. And he heard a rustle he assumed would be her folding her arms. Through it all, he kept his eyes closed, determined that he would go to sleep before he got sucked into another late-night debate with a five-year-old.

It had begun simply enough. Tomorrow they were going to the circus, and they hadn’t been to a circus in years, not since Cally was an infant in a carrier. By Jay’s limited recollection, she’d slept through it. So when she said she was excited to see the elephants again, Jay had challenged her, saying she’d never even seen an elephant, outside of television. She argued that she had, that she’d dreamed of elephants. Jay has said no she hadn’t and she said yes she had, and Jay said she always made up stuff that she dreamed about, rather than really remembering, and she had said that she was the boss of her brain and not Jay, and anyway Jay was a stupid head, and Mom had shut down the conversation.

“You just ought to be careful, is all I’m saying.” Jay said, a bit petulantly. “Dream too big, and something might get stuck there, and you might not be able to get it out again. Remember the cowbell?”

Cally remembered the little brass bell; something her parents had said was a favor from their wedding. It had a large ring at the top of it, meant to be a handle by which you could manipulate the leaden weight inside to produce the soft tinkle, which the kids called the cowbell. The ring was much too small for an adult finger, but to a three-year-old, the cowbell ring seemed ready-made for wear. Cally had slipped it over her middle finger, and run away from Jay, to a soundtrack of metal tinkling and giggles, calling that she wouldn’t be milked, not today, not today! When it had come time for them to go to school, Cally had been terrified to see that she couldn’t get the cowbell off. She’d hid it behind her back all that morning, and on the bus ride in, so it had been her teacher who first noticed his additional appendage. The school nurse had been unable to remove it, and parents had been called. A quick trip to the emergency room, a few swipes of a metal cutting tool, and the ring atop the cowbell was no more. Now it was a crescent shape atop the thick brass bell. Cally looked at it with a hint of sorrowful remembrance nearly every day. Yes, Cally remembered the cowbell, and how her finger seemed to go in so easily, but then was impossible to get out again. She let out a heavy sigh.

“Do you really think an elephant could get stuck in my dream?” She said, looking at the dark outline of her hand before her face.

Jay finally rolled over and, finally, looked at his little sister, or rather her partial, darkened outline, with exasperation. He always had to explain the simplest concepts to her. Being in second grade was already such a burden; Cally’s late night sessions didn’t make his life any easier. Mom never had to listen to Cally, safely tucked in her own room upstairs, and never believed Jay’s stories about how chatty Cally got at night. He looked forward to next summer, when Mom had promised he’d get his own room in the basement, and be able to sleep the night through without the late night Q&A.

“Why do you think they have a thing called brain surgeons, silly?” he said, “It’s a doctor that has to operate on your brains, and try to get out stuff that sticks there. They have to saw open your skull, and sort of reach into your brains, and look for a hard spot or something moving, like a stuck elephant.

“What happens to the elephant when they get it out?”

Jay paused for a minute, eyes shooting up to the ceiling as he thought. “Oh, once it’s out of your brain, it just vanishes, like all your dreams do when you wake up. It’s only getting in there and getting too big, that sticks it. But it costs a lot of money to get it out. You remember how mad Mom got when they got the bill for getting the bell off? Well, it’s a lot more money to hire a brain surgeon. You don’t want to go there.”

With that statement putting a final period on the conversation, Jay slumped back onto his pillow. Conversation over. And the room was silent for a good minute.

“Does it hurt?” Cally asked, timidly. Jay let out another deep sigh, puffing both cheeks out. Tomorrow would never come, he was sure. He would sit up here and talk to Cally all night, and the sun would come up, and it would be the next day but without any sleep Jay would feel like it was the same day, and tomorrow would never, ever get here. And then he would fall asleep in Ms. Leary’s class, and get sent to the principles office, and have to bring a note home, and probably get in trouble, when it’s fault in the first place for putting me in the same room with Cally anyway, and it just wasn’t fair.

That’s when he heard the glass breaking.

The room was dark, and the night without even darker with the new moon and slightly overcast sky, so it was only another silhouette that Jay saw. At their window. Breaking their window. Jay saw a large gloved hand reach through bottom pane and grope for the knob that would unlock the window.

Jay rolled out of his bed and onto Cally’s, whispering a quick, quiet shsssh into her ear as she sat, transfixed. The hand found its goal, and twisted the lock open. The lower pane began to rise, slowly at first, and then once the hand found purchase underneath, quickly up. Jay wrapped his arms around Cally, and pushed her back into the corner.

“Hidey hole,” he whispered, as he pushed the bed frame away from the wall with one foot, and she slid noiselessly down to the floor. Jay slid over, nearly on top of her. But there wasn’t enough room to conceal them both. From his position, face down on the edge of her bed, looking down into the space where he imagined Cally must be quivering, Jay reached a hand down and found her face, and placed a finger gingerly on Cally’s lips. Shhhh, he said with his hand, and his mind there in the darkness, and would have said with his eyes, if she could have but seen them, if you’ve never been able to be quiet before in your life, please be quiet now.

The shape was in the room now, and moving toward Jay’s bed. Darkened hands patted at the pillow and still-warm sheets, tossing them to the side in frustration at finding the empty bed. Then it turned toward Cally’s bed. It grabbed at the sheets again, stopping when he felt Jays foot at the head of the bed, at the corner from which it protruded. An instant later Jay felt two strong hands at his shoulders lift him from the bed.

Cally, looking up from her hidey-hole saw the change of light as her brother left the opening above her. But she stayed still, moving her own hand to replace Jays, placing her own finger to her lips as Jays had been. Shhhh, she thought. Shhhhhhhhh.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Shock of the New

I’ve been looking into online degrees for the past week. New, old territory. Scary stuff.

The going to school isn’t really the scary part. I can handle that, and I’ve always intended, since the day I graduated college, to return to school. I will get my Masters, before I die. The two I’ve narrowed it down to are AIG (American Intercontinental University) Online and The University of Phoenix Online. Both offer Undergraduate degrees in Visual Communication, in the specific areas I’m interested in. My plan is to get the basic groundwork in the undergrad degree, and then advance beyond that to a Masters, through my next employer. If anyone has any recommendations of one over the other, I’m all ears. I’m looking at starting with one or the other in July. So the clock is ticking.

But that’s the interesting part, the challenging part, the, let’s face it, the fun part of all this. It’s not the scary part.

The scary part is money, the single thing that’s been scary for me since I left my former position, to focus on improving my skills, abilities and marketability in the first place. Going back to school is hard enough. Doing it while working to support a family is insane. But that’s what I’m doing. I’m looking hard for freelance work, and have a few nibbles that will make life reasonable for the short term. In addition, my wife will be adding support to our family financially in addition to her continuing role as main caregiver to our two boys. We’ll both be working twice as hard, for half as much. I’m also looking hard at scholarships, fellowships, and grants in the short term. But it is a full time job looking for jobs, improving ones skills, getting an education and searching for scholarships all at the same time.

Given my competing priorities over the next several weeks, my blog entries here will be necessarily short. I want to savor the fun part, the interesting part, the challenging part. But I’ve got to get over the scary part first.

I remember a movie I saw a while ago, Holy Man starring Eddie Murphy and Jeff Goldblum. Maybe I’ve mentioned it here, before. The message it had sticks with me to this day, though—maybe especially these days. The message was about not letting fear hold you back. That letting go of fear being the greatest freedom there is.

Fear is a self-imposed mechanism, created to prevent us from doing something stupid, from petting a lion or touching fire. But as highly evolved creatures, we also have a highly developed sense of fear. We are afraid to disappoint our peers. We are afraid to be revealed as frauds. We are afraid of a dozen, dozen different things that we have no reason to be afraid of, have no reason even to consider, and which consequently and constantly hold us back. So we compromise, and stick with the status quo, and settle, and conform. We "go along to get along," and to avoid that panicy feeling one gets in the pit of ones stomach that says “Uhh…a little outside the level of comfort, here… danger, danger Will Robinson.” That’s a feeling I’ve been cultivating lately, for some ungodly reason. That’s the feeling that’s been driving me.

But just acknowledging this isn’t enough to get past the fear. Being honest, I’m living with it every day. But I’m also backing it up with the certainty that I’m heading someplace better. And maybe that’s the scariest part—that I know exactly what I’m doing; with a keen awareness of what I could gain, but also what I’m risking to get there. And I’m doing it anyway.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Split personality

I’m of two minds. In rethinking what I have posted here, and what I need to have (and alternately, need not have) posted on my website, I’ve opted to develop a split personality. I want to keep this blog going. I want to have an outlet where I can discuss things with friends, and share thoughts. But I also need to have a more professional side, which is the one I put forward to the world while I’m in the midst of my job search.

Therefore, I’ve opted to create a second blog. This second blog, digital distractions ( is the one I am linking to my website. This blog, ( is becoming my personal blog, and will no longer be linked from my website (though you can still go to there from here). So, I hope those of you who have this keyed to blogarithm updates can still follow. I’m trying to resist the more drastic measure of putting a password on the idmx blog, as I think that makes it all a lot more pull than I think most are willing to bear. But maybe you can let me know your thoughts.

And, for those of you of a mind to look into my more professional mind, the other blog may be an interesting read, from time to time.