When Even Writings Lost It's Fun, Your Fucking Breaking

Be forewarned: I didn't edit this at all. In fact, I purposely made several mistakes. It's not very good writing, but at least it wasn't super stressful. Also, I just Google Image searched the word stupid, so that picture doesn't fit at all.

Yeah, I know that should be you're. And maybe the you're right there should have quotations around it. I'm just having a lot of trouble giving a shit about any of that right now. So maybe it's a joke. Or a passive aggressive way of letting off steam. Who knows.

I used to really love writing. I would sit in the back of my middle school class -- not paying attention to a word that was said -- writing pages and pages. I'd invent characters, and villains for those characters, and describe the grand adventures they'd go on. None of that was for a class, or to better myself as a writer so I could have a future in it; it was just because I enjoyed doing it.

A couple years ago I had graduated from high school and taken all of the basic classes I could take in the local community college. I still had no idea what to do next. I guess it should have been a hint that in all of that time, writing never once sprung to my mind. Still, when the light bulb finally went off I thought I'd found my answer.

Several years down the road, I kind of hate writing. When I started this..."journey", I would sit down in the morning and just start typing. The thoughts would flow from my head down to my fingers and in a half hour or so I'd have a whole article. Not only did writing it feel great and make me happy, but I was always damn proud of my creation.

Nowadays I agonize over every comma placement. I slowly write something over the course of several straight hours (A gap of free time I never have in my life, which means my kid is ignored the entire time and by the time I finish my wife is pissed off at me), then I go back over it 3 or 4 times, checking every detail. This process isn't at all fun, but it's what real writers have to do, right? So I submit the article, hoping I did my editors proud. Inevitably I am met with a laundry list a mile long showing me all of the grammar mistakes I made, and a majority of the time one of them says I need to do a major rewrite of part of the article.

Don't get me wrong, I'm damn lucky to have gotten to where I am today, and it's an honor to have the opportunity to improve my writing under the tutelage of some of the biggest names of video game journalism. Still, I'm starting to worry that in turning one of my favorite hobbies into work, I might have ruined it for myself. I wonder if I should stop trying to pursue a career in writing, and just do it for fun again.

Obviously this is taking the easy way out and pissing away the chance I have to improve my skills, learning from the best. But, you know, it sure would be nice to spend some more time with my kid and less time slumped over, stressed out about where to place a comma. I've always been one for taking the easy road.

Stubborn Determination or Selfish Disregard?

As the end of high school approached, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. As I enrolled in the nearest community college, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. The one thing I was sure about was the woman I was with, and as our wedding grew closer, I stopped signing up for classes. Within a month or so of our wedding, we found out our daughter was on the way, so I never went back.

Once the whirlwind of the pregnancy was over, and then the onslaught of my first year of parenting ever, I started to think about what was quickly passing me by. I still had no idea what I was going to do, and it was becoming pretty apparent that newspaper delivery wasn't really going to cut it. It was an episode of 1Up FM, and the answer to that age-old question, "How do you get into game journalism?", that finally started me on this journey, and I haven't stopped since.

I have, however, gone back and forth a thousand times this past year. I never even questioned what a career in video game journalism would be like, I just knew that it was the first thing I knew I really wanted and every time I sat down to write, it made me happy. But after more than a year trying, I'm starting to get discouraged, and along with that comes the questioning.

What do I hope will happen? Do I think I'll land a salary gig right away? Chances are, if I'm lucky, I'll get some freelance gigs. I'm not even sure if I can support a family on struggling to get freelance gigs until I can finally get hired on staff at some outlet. Looking around this industry, most of the well-known freelancers are single, or at least kid-less.

Then there's the time. It seems to be the general consensus that I'll be spending a lot of time on the computer writing up news, tracking down interviews, getting quotes, researching leads, and pitching stories. Though, the job I have now means absolutely no days off, and I do it every single day, come home and take care of/play with Emerson, and get more writing done than a lot of others. I imagine I'd be able to handle the time requirements of a game journalism career, and maybe even be less busy than I am now, but I'm really just assuming.

So why do I keep going? I've read multiple pieces by those with similar aspirations about giving it up and concentrating on family, and it's given me pause, but they all have backup plans. I haven't thought of anything else I'd want to do with my life other than writing, so I guess there isn't much as to do but keep on trying.

You know all of that "follow your dreams" stuff they tell you about? I suppose it sounds cliche, but I guess this is my dream. Yeah, I know, it's every gamers dream at some point, but it makes me happy when I sit down and write something. I enjoy brainstorming new ideas for articles, thinking of creative angles for them, and when I unleash it to the world it feels like I've accomplished something. Getting everyone their newspaper everyday doesn't ever feel like much of an accomplishment, and it certainly isn't something I've ever been proud of.

New Laptop Help?

So here's what I've got from the Dell website. Can any tech people help tell me if this is good or if I should be adding something better. I'm going to be using it primarily for writing and Internet surfing, but I might dabble in audio/video editing, as well as some light gaming (Portal, Torchlight, etc.). I'd love for it to last me a good 3-4 years, if not longer, without the need of any major upgrades.

What I have right now is $599.99, which is about my price range, but feel free to explain to me why I need a better whatever and why I'm overpaying for a whatever.

This is the one I started with, and the only thing I changed was bumping up the video card to the next tier: http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?oc=dndozm2&c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19

PROCESSORIntel® Pentium® Dual Core™ T4400 (2.2GHz/800MHz FSB/1MB cache)edit
OPERATING SYSTEMGenuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit, Englishedit
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Upgrade to Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit, English, with Belkin Easy Transfer Cable [Add $29.99 or $1.00/month1]
WARRANTY AND SERVICE1 Year Basic Service Planedit
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Extended Service Plans cost less when you buy now with your system! Upgrade now to a 2 Year Basic In-Home Service Plan* *Important Info
Upgrade to 2 Year Basic Service Plan [Add $69.00 or $3.00/month1]
MEMORY4GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 800MHzedit
HARD DRIVE320GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)edit
BATTERY OPTIONS6-cell batteryedit
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INTEGRATED WEBCAMIntegrated 1.3 MP Webcamedit
WIRELESS CARDSDell 1397 Wireless-Gedit
VIDEO CARD256MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330edit
INTERNAL OPTICAL DRIVE8X CD/DVD Burner (Dual Layer DVD+/-R Drive)edit
SOUND OPTIONSHigh Definition Audio 2.0

Emmy's Nose and US Healthcare

Last week I had my first real dramatic parenting experience. While I was across the room getting dressed, Emmy was watching her grandpa out the window and bumped the board holding it up (the weight is broken). It came crashing down, I assume on her head, but in the second I heard it fall and her start screaming she already had her head out, at which point it caught her hand.

I've replayed the moment I lifted the window off and grabbed her thousands of times already. She looked at me with sheer terror in her eyes. Somehow she had tore her nose open, and I grabbed her and held her against me, not sure how serious it was, but blood streaming down my chest.

Once we checked her out a bit, nothing looked really serious. She could bend all of her fingers, but one of the two places where her nose ripped had gone completely through. Meaning part of her nose was two seperated flaps of skin and I didn't know for sure if they'd heal back together. Here's where things break down.

We pay over 400 dollars a month for health insurance for all three of us. My job doesn't offer it at all, so we have to purchase it ourselves. That is a sizable chunk of my monthly income, and yet it doesn't cover us for so many things -- one of which is emergency room visits. If we go to the ER and Blue Cross & Blue Shield decides that we needed to once the doctors find out what is wrong, I believe they pay a percentage of it, but if they deem it "unnecessary" then we get to pay a fee that I believe is over $100.

So I, as a parent, am left to decide whether or not that trip to the ER is "necessary", and if I screw up that decision than we get a bill that on a lot of weeks we would be unable to pay. Have you ever tried to call a hospital to ask for advice on whether or not you should come into the hospital or if the situation is alright on it's own? In America, the advice is always to come in.

They don't want to get sued if they say otherwise and someone up and dies, and I imagine they like the extra income they bring in from having people show up without actually needing anything done to them. After all, just walking through that door and having a doctor look at you costs you money, even if the doctor says nothing is wrong and sends you home after taking up a minute or two of his time.

I'm just thankful that Emerson's nose is healing wonderfully despite us not having gone to the ER. If it had healed like a mangled lump of skin I would have felt like complete crap every time I looked at it. This is fucked up, America. A parent has enough things to worry about, and whether or not a visit to the emergency room is "necessary" should not be one of them. Yeah, ultimately it all worked out, but I would have at least had the immediate comfort of knowing a doctors opinion if we would just shut up and get universal healthcare.

It might not affect you, but it sure as hell affects me. "Oh my god! Universal healthcare in other countries is so broken! Just ask anyone!" Guess what, when I was trying to decide if I should take Emmy in, a Canadian friend of mine called a phone number and had a doctor's opinion for me in a few minutes, free of charge. It wasn't biased by whether or not they'd get sued, or how much money they'll make, it was just answers. Jesus Christ, that sounds broken, doesn't it?

The Terrible Twos Strike

When they talk about terrible twos, they aren't exaggerating. Emmy was always a pretty good kid, but recently it's gotten ridiculous.

If she leaves the room for more than a few seconds, she has found something to make a mess with. She could have found a Sharpie somewhere -- even though I thought I put them all out of reach -- and started drawing all over the table with it. Or maybe someone forgot to close the lock on the fridge and she is rubbing cream cheese all over her legs. Even when she does things that she is supposed to, like sit down and go on her potty, before you realize she is done she has taken the bowl out and dumped her poop all over the floor.

Time-out isn't working, she is perfectly fine with getting put there. The second she gets put in the seat she completely understands that what she did was wrong. She's sorry. She won't do it again. That was naughty.

Sometimes I feel like destroying one of her toys right in front of her whenever she does something that she knows she shouldn't have done. But then, it is the best feeling in the world when she runs to greet me as I walk in the door after work.

When she had finally fallen asleep the other day, I gave Zoe a hug and kiss. "We'll get through this, and we'll find it hilarious. And then we'll do it several more times."

Because despite all the tough days, there are plenty more good memories. Like that picture up there from when I took her out to give the horses water with me last night. Apparently baby cows look like sheep, so she kept saying "Baaa" over and over. The last week or two has been the hardest thing I've had to experience as a parent, but I would never have it any other way. And when it is finally over, the day that she broke a whole carton of eggs, rubbed cream cheese on her legs, drew on the table with Sharpie, and ate some paint (non-toxic) will be the source of laughter.

Writing on Fumes

I'm not entirely sure what I expect to get out of this habit I've formed.

I mean, I'm really only writing on a regular basis, because I've gotten in the habit of writing on a regular basis. Vast cyber pits are filling with articles I've shit out with undetermined motivation. They are being lost to the winds of time, never to be read again -- if they were ever read in the first place.

I was trying to break into the videogame journalism field, right? I recall that being my original motivation, I'm just not sure if that is even a viable option for the future. And really, what is a viable option for the future?

I guess I enjoy writing enough that it wasn't a complete waste of time, but if it is time for me to move on I certainly don't know what to move on to.

Don't mistake this for some "lighting a fire under the ass" sort of declaration. I'm in a rut. I'll tell myself over and over again that I'm an average writer in an overflowing industry, and I need to seek out a real career path; but I won't do it.

A real career path just doesn't interest me. Nothing that has ever interested me in life is the result of a college degree, which seems to be the default "normal" career path starter. Still, I could easily fill the fingers on both hands with people who are sitting on degrees that they may never actually use. And honestly, I would probably never use any degree I ever even fathomed of getting.

Sitting in a classroom trying to absorb information that I'm told is important so that I can get a piece of paper that will help me get a job that I never wanted in the first place seems asinine. But then, everything about that entire system seems asinine. I'm a better worker, and much more intelligent, than the throngs of drunken stoners I graduated with -- but they've got that piece of paper, so they can get that job that neither of us want.

So what do I do? Throw myself into the biggest load of bullshit ever so that I can get spit out the other side a soul-less man, or keep striving to achieve something that has been dying a slow death for several years? I know, it's a Sophie's Choice, but I guess I've gotta make it. Can I cut them both in half?

In the Interest of Accountability

I think I need some organization in my life, or more specifically, my writing. So, here is the schedule I will attempt to stick to. Please, feel free to hold me accountable if I should deviate from it.

With the intention of finally getting some of the countless ideas I have on my clipboard of notes fleshed out into full articles, and keeping my name in the video game journalism realm of the online world, I'll hopefully unleash a new article each Monday. This will give me the whole week and weekend to pound out a rough draft and then revise many times, which should help my writing. These articles should go on both Cerebral Pop and Bitmob, and I'm going to have to get better about then submitting them to sites like Reddit, Digg (If it'd ever work for me), StumbleUpon and N4G.

For now I am going to continue doing The Kongregate Mob over on Bitmob every Tuesday, but I hope it will pick up some momentum in the coming weeks.

Every Friday I'll do an Insufficient Funds post at Cerebral Pop, hopefully in the morning for maximum hit potential before the weekend crawl.

Mixed in between those three assignments, I'd like to post at least three articles on Examiner and this here personal blog. At least one in each place, and an extra for whichever has more activity that week -- my personal life, or the video game news realm.

So there you go. Keep in mind, all of this is on top of Backlog Brigade, and my as of yet unannounced Bitmob project. Though, I can't guarantee I won't fall off the wagon a bit during the weeks when both of those things hit.

Wish me luck. Oh, and I'll try to remember to do a song a day on my Tumblr each and every day as well.

Paper Carriers: The Toughest Job?

Rain or shine is all well and nice Mr. Postman, but how about giant snowstorms and holidays? No? Well then sit down.

I've been a paper carrier for over 8 years now, whether I was doing foot routes around my town, distributing to the stores in the area, or covering huge amounts of barely driven country roads. I work every single day of the year, and I emphasize every. Thanksgiving, Christmas... you name it. And what do I get? Shit on at every turn.

A paper carrier isn't even considered an employee by the paper they work for. That is mostly so that they have no problem dropping you at a moment's notice should they feel the need. And despite any amount of pay you take away -- which is better then any minimum wage job, but still less then those posh mail carrier routes -- is chipped away by the ridiculous amounts of gas and car repairs you have to cover.

But I'm at peace with the frustrations, because I like all the time to myself I have to listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks. What is the real frustration, is how companies treat me if I stupidly let it slip that I deliver newspapers.

AutoZone gives lifetime warranties on brakes fully expecting people to be bringing them in multiple times. What they count on is people forgetting, losing reciepts, or selling their cars. I don't understand how they come out on top from the whole deal in the first place, but I learned real quick that they are looking for excuses to void it. Mention doing papers, and you're off the warranty. So I have to alternate which town's AutoZone I go to each time I take in my brake warranty, hoping they don't analyze the dates too much.

Then Progressive reared it's ugly head when I slid into somebody's metal mailbox and punctured a small hole in my door panel. When the questioning began while filing my claim, I stupidly assumed that informing them I wasn't traveling down the road when it happened, but pulling away from the mailbox, would somehow make things better. After saying the claim would be covered, the sharks started to devour all the evidence, and I got a call the next day saying that they wouldn't cover me. They had called the manager at the depot where I pick up papers, and found out that I deliver. That's all it took and they were gone.

Still, it was a learning experience, because when the car I had only owned for 2 months needed a transmission, I started making calls to the dealership. After going rounds with salesmen and sales managers, I emailed the general manager of the whole place and successfully convinced him to pay for it even though I didn't have their extended warranty.

The day that they were going to come tow it from the mechanic it was at, I rushed over to clean out anything related to newspaper delivery. I asked the mechanic to please not mention anything about my job if he were to strike up a conversation with them. Throughout the week that they had it, I fielded questions from them like, "There's a lot of mud up under this car. Much more then normal. You don't do construction, do you?"

It sort of bothers me that I work my ass off, at a job that far tougher then most out there, and I have to worry about hiding it from anyone I talk to. No matter how much I drive my car, brakes are going to eventually go bad, accidents are going to happen, and transmissions should last longer then 40,000 miles.

Everyone who reads this, do me a favor. Give your paper carrier a tip. Give him/her multiple tips throughout the year. Don't call to complain a minute after they are normally there, they might have had to change a tire or dig themselves out of a snowpile. Treat them like they are the hardest working people in the world, because even the lazy ones, work pretty damn hard.