January 26, 2009

These are books that left a "lovingly sad-happy" feeling in the people that recommended them. If you have more suggestions in this category, please let me know. Later this week we will try a new category, and I'll try and explain why this is interesting to me...

January 18, 2008

stranded as standard

I just lost two jobs simultaneously. They were both jobs that I didn't like, but afforded me amazing opportunities. I was there for the people who had a lot I could learn from. I'm embarrassed to say it, but felt the work was below me, that I shouldn't have to slog through the crap work to get to the portions where my talents and expertise were being used. I realize though that if I never just get through the crap, I'll never get to the work that is fulfilling and rewarding.

Dr. Pausch's advice couldn't be more true. This has been a constant in my life. I get half finished on projects, and get bored, get scared, or move to something else. I'm too arrogant, lazy and proud to simply do what's asked of me. I can't just muscle through the menial work that has to be done to finish something. I've designed a bunch of projects, robots, programs, each putting in a substantial amount of time, and then quitting when it comes to reading up on something or doing a bunch or research or labor. If you take a look at my portfolio {bofthem.com}, you can see the trend. I've got lots of things built, but very few resolved, concluded projects. There have been a few successes and resolutions but they're in the minority and many have required the help of others pushing me to finish. I've been getting the "you've got so much potential, why don't you actually buckle up and do something about it" talk from teachers, bosses, and mentors for my whole life. I feel like I've been sinking myself into this rut since birth.


January 17, 2008

Frustrated Frittata

Last spring, a good friend & I had the brilliant idea to fool around. It was never supposed to be more than that. His girlfriend of 3 years had just dumped him, I had just gone through one hell of a sorry excuse for a relationship, we just kind of said what the hell. Over the course of the next 8 months, I nursed him through his heartbreak, we spent most of our free time together and, to the rest of the world, appeared to have become an actual couple. However, there was one caveat: he wanted to maintain his freedom (and I am commitment-phobic). So, for the entirety of our relationship, we were both free to see other people. It got a bit hairy now & then but, it seemed to be working for us. Until he started seeing this girl who, well, to be excruciatingly polite about it, has WAY more baggage than any 21 year old should (he's 33, I'm 30, for the record). So, just before Thanksgiving, I broke things off. I had grown weary of the drama that our little fling had wrought and I didn't want to be involved with this new girl. He & I had become best friends and, since we share an astonishing number of similar interests, we agreed that our friendship was worth trying to maintain.

Best laid plains....

At first, it was difficult, because I'd gotten used to being the focus of his attention for the better part of a year. But, I kept my distance and given up activities I enjoy to save myself more drama. Unfortunately, things have transpired that have led to a lot of angry words between he & I so, I decided to cut him out of my life. I stopped all communication with him. Here's the problem: Our social lives are completely intertwined...to a ridiculous degree. We both frequented the same places long before we even met. All of my good friends had become his friends. Those friends now fully support me. But, I can't go anywhere without running into him and his new girlfriend. I do my best to ignore both of them and enjoy myself to no avail.

In the past week, I've run into them twice, both times culminating in her causing a scene completely unprovoked. Last night, the situation escalated further when she hurled a drink at me and then tried to physically attack me, twice. I've told him repeatedly to leave me alone, to not talk to me, especially when she's around, because I've been trying to avoid just such a situation. He did nothing to stop it. In fact, he loves it.

In case you're wondering what her beef is with me, she seems to think that I'm pursuing him. She doesn't seem to realize that it's all coming from him.

I don't know how to deal with this. I'm not one to let someone dictate where I go & with whom I interact. I've never been the target for such behavior before, without provocation. I can, almost certainly, get them barred from the main place we all go...the owner and patrons all adore me. I know if crazy girlfriend so much as uttered an unkind word to me in that joint, both of them would be bounced out & not allowed back. I know I should feel differently but, I don't want it to come to that.

At this point, I have nothing left to say to him. By allowing this behavior, he's proven to me that our friendship is meaningless to him and that he doesn't respect me one bit. However, as I said, our social lives are completely intertwined. I've been making the sacrifices and not going where I know they'll be but, I'm tired of it. Especially when I'm not the problem. Help.

Frustrated Frittata

November 24, 2007

39 year old gal

Dear Mobby,

I'm turning 40 in less than three weeks. I need quick & cheap (inexpensive) mid-life crisis suggestions. Also, do I need to stop wearing my skinny jeans that still fit.


39 year old gal

November 19, 2007

Pink Milk in Roseville

Dear Mobby,

I don't really know what i'm looking for, but i'll tell you my story.
I have been going out with a girl for over a year. Things are pretty
serious. She is the first girl friend I have ever had, and I am her
first boy friend. She is great, smart, funny, absolutely beautiful; I
love her to pieces, and I know she loves me. But I know she isn't
perfect; neither am I. She is recovering anarexic, and still deals
with self image problems alot. Some weeks are better than others, but
sometimes it seems like something she will never fully recover from.
And sometimes i feel her attachment to me is more because I accept her
when she doesnt, than because she really loves me.

Things since we first started going out have moved a steadily fast
rate. She wants to get married, but we are both only 18 so we know we
should wait. I want to wait until after college, and she has to wait
becuase she is going to the air force academy. sometimes I feel like I
could find a beautiful girl that didnt have such an issue with how she
looks (my girlfriend looks great by the way, she is the only one who
doesnt think so) and life would be so much easier... Is this selfish,
I truely love my girl friend, but is love enough to base a future on?
I want what is best for her, but does that mean i need to forget what
is best for me? I don't want to break her heart. But sometimes it is so
hard to be there for her with her problems that I feel like giving up.

So I dont really know what kind of advice I am looking for, but
comments would be helpful. maybe from someone who has known/been with
a recovering anarexic.

Drinking pink milk in Roseville.

November 17, 2007

blahblah in limboland

Dear Mobby,

Here's my dilemma. I changed careers. In my late 30s, I went back to school, completed a Master's program, and miraculously was offered a job just prior to my graduation. 40% more pay, 4 day work week. It seemed like a small miracle.

I work as a product marketer. I work for a small company so I get to do a little of everything: design, strategy, brochure work, external articles etc. Over the last year, my boss has been really happy with everything I've done and has offered high praise… until recently.

The reality of this new life became evident lately with a recent product launch (the first in this job): seems I'm not so good at lying about products. Having had a job related to the interests of my customers prior to product marketing, I understand the actual nature of the beast a little too much and empathize with existing customers and their reality. And everything I write feels… pointless. Just so much blah blah and yada yada: banal topics reshaped to sound cool and fantastic.

The basic problem is that I think that I don't really believe in the entire fake world that has been built around marketing, advertising and promotion. (Pompous eh?)

Having recently been asked to "just make up" some quotes lately and create a description for a product that doesn't really exist. . . I just feel sick about it and my own naivety in thinking this was a good direction for me personally to go. A kindly colleague recently suggested that I basically suck it up. But I don't think I'm willing to. I'm not willing to let go of "that thing" in myself that makes me balk at writing this stuff. I have no problem writing fiction when it is presented as fiction, but this is different.
I know that it is ridiculous that I didn't even really consider this before completely changing my career to something totally inappropriate for me.

Here's the question: should I quit? I must admit both the money and the 4 day work week have been pretty choice. I am pretty sure I can find enough freelance writing work over the next year, but this is based on guesses, and it feels like I worked too hard to re-educate and change careers. And my available savings are currently pretty slim after the school years. Arg. Ugh. Blah. I don't really know how to process the next steps. I don't know how to begin.

How do I even begin to reassess (again) what a better career path is for me. And how do I ensure that I take into consideration not just my skills but my values in terms of setting out a new plan? How do I figure out what I really want to do? (Jeez. You'd think that at some point I'd be a grown up and know.)

I've started dreading going in every day, mornings are become more and more difficult to wake up for. This cannot be healthy. But I know that there are many many people who would just be grateful, and that I'm lucky to have made the change so effortlessly. Thanks for any insight.

Blahblah in Limboland

back on the horse

Dear Mobby:

Here's the short version:

:: Married for 20 years. 15 of them unhappily.
:: Always faithful even at the bitter end.
:: Happily divorced for a mere nine months.
:: Newly back to "online dating," which is an entirely unfamiliar concept.
:: Met a lot of nice people, none of whom have the quite meshed.
:: Finally met a smart, attractive, emotionally stable woman who
seems, frankly, perfect. Interesting to talk to, long over her
divorce, great in bed, not alarmed by my peculiarities, etc., etc. It
feels perfect in all the logical ways. I could sure do a lot worse.
:: The problem is, she's the first one since the divorce, and, even
thought she seems perfect, I still want to meet other women. If I
don't, I'll always feel like I might have missed something.
:: But I also don't want to lose this really good thing.
:: She, on the other hand, has been through a few others and is ready
to settle down with a steady boyfriend, preferably me.
:: We've talked about this and agree that it is an issue.

So, is it too much to expect to keep what I have, while also
exploring other options? I am committed to being honest about this,
but know if I am too honest, she will be unhappy.

November 14, 2007

anxious ape

Dear Mobby,

I spent all of High School and the first year and a half of college addicted to Everquest. One year ago, I finally got rid of my PC in a final effort to go cold turkey. I still find myself compulsively in front of my computer expecting it to fulfill me, despite my logical side screaming at me to go do something fun. I've taken up working out and I even started practicing basketball. Before I know it, I am back in front of my computer.

I spoke with a good friend of mine over breakfast this morning. He picked up World of Warcraft in the middle of our freshman year of college after quitting the crew team, which was dominating his time. We both find ourself in this nebulous state that I think many recovering addicts find themselves in. "Addiction is the Triumph of Rhythm Over Life." I need a healthy rhythm, but I don't know how to attain it.

Sincerely, Anxious Ape

November 12, 2007

three issues, one mobby

Hi Mobby,

I've got a lot of difficult life issues I am trying to cope with at
the moment. Unfortunately, I feel like I'm being drowned by them.

The first problem is that my 34 year old husband's 82 year old dad was
diagnosed with 4 types of cancer (throat, stomach, bowel and colon) a
month ago, and broke his back this past monday. He was originally
scheduled to have surgery for his cancer the monday following
Thanksgiving. Since he's in the hospital now for a broken back,
they've moved it up to this up and coming monday, Nov 12th. He may
die during his surgery or during his recovery.

My husband and his 55 year old sister are having a hard time coping.
They lost their mother in 2005, so this is it for them. I am having a
hard time relating to my husband because I don't have the same kind of
relationship with my family that he has had with his, in fact, I
haven't spoken to my family in over a year...and really have no desire
to. But they are still living and it is an uncomfortable fact when the
topic of parents comes up. But one thing for sure is that we are both
afraid of losing his dad to this sooner than we thought because they
push the date of his surgery up.

Problemo numero dos... My department at work is being eliminated, and
while they are going to offer me a completely uncreative job for only
3K less than what I am making now, I have decided to not accept it.
As it turns out, it is very important to me to actually use my 80K BFA
degree and I can't seem to reconcile that with the position I will be
offered. So I have decided to go back to school for an MA in
Education and teach art while I complete my Master's and PHd in
psychology and Art Therapy. That much has been resolved, and is not
the main cause of discomfort... however, I am a lot more distressed
about this loss than I thought I would be, and have concluded that it
comes from the impending loss of the social connections I have made in
the last 7 years. I grew up moving every 2 or 3 years because of my
dad's service in the military, and until I got this job when I was 24,
I'd not had any kind of stability in my social life.

Issue three is financial... and related to #2... in the past two
months, we've had to bite off the cost of installing a new furnace,
and necessary foundation repairs... to the sweet tune of fourteen
thousand dollars. This after the five thousand dollars we put out of
pocket to spend a week with my husband's ailing/dying father. My
endeavor to go back to school to finish up my master's ain't free
either. I might as well have bought a third car I can't drive.

The company I work for has been very dirty and underhanded with their
"severence" options and as it turns out, because my performance has
been good, thus granting me a job offer for a job I can't justify
taking, I (and others in my position) will conveniently not be
eligable to receive severence. So I have had to consider accepting
the penatlies and cash out the entire 401K/profit Sharing and cash
balance that I have ammassed over the last 7 years here to cover it.
Part of me says, take the money and run, I'm only 31, and I'll be
starting another 401K before I'm 35, so I'll be able to catch up over
time with a higher contribution. But then there's that other part of
me that says... ooh, don't touch it, that's my retirement.

And there's other things too, but I'm not sure how big they are in
reality because, the main ones are weighing so heavy on my mind and
little everyday things are starting to look bigger than they are. Do
you have any advice on how to cope with so many stressful life
changing experiences at once without losing your mind? Or at least
can you help me simplify them to a manageable level somehow?

November 10, 2007

teaching one's self

Dear Mobby,
I am in the last stages of applying to graduate school. Ultimately, I crave the community of artists and academics I left back in college, and I want to gain skills that I cannot teach myself in order to pursue a career in animation.

I love to travel, I have a ceaseless desire to create things, and other jobs in the film industry (the area in which I received my BA) bore me to death. My hope is that graduate school will provide me with the credentials and skills I will need to land a decent paying job in an interesting field.

However, the 80+ grand I'm going to have to swallow is giving me cold sweats. Is there another way, outside of teaching myself Maya, that will leave me less bankrupt and ultimately provide the same amount of satisfaction? Am I merely just falling back on a blueprint laid out by my parent's generation regarding what to do when you're nearly 25 and haven't done anything noteworthy?

I would love to continue working independently, but it is difficult to work 40hrs/week and save up enough time/money to pursue all of my creative ideals, not to mention that I lack the skills needed to bring some of my best ideas to fruition.

Experience, guidance, and/or resources would be lovely.

habile bumblebee

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