Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Five Question Interview - Codejnki

Remember the Five Question Interview? Only two of you responded to be interviewed (so there's still room for three more! Who's interested? Come on, you know you wanna!)

One of the requests came from codejnki. Because he's just that way, instead of posting his answers to his own damn blog, he emailed them back to me so I could post them here.

Hell, what fun would life be if my friends followed the damn rules?

None whatsoever. That's what.

1. Was there ever a point where you seriously considered moving back to California?

I was born and raised in Sacramento, CA. Other than two apartments my parents lived in before I was a year old, I'd had the same address till shortly after I graduated High School. That summer I moved to Monterey, CA to attend college and started what would ultimately end up being a string of moves that, as of current count, has had me live in 20 different places in 32 years. The fact that I move frequently is now more of a running joke.

The biggest move I ever made was when I left Sacramento for Michigan in April of 2001 to take a job. The move itself was a gutsy thing to do. I had the job lined up but nothing else other than an offer of a couch till I got grounded, that fortunately happened two weeks later when a lease was signed. There I was, a self described "city-boy" living in an apartment that overlooked a corn field with Amish passing by. There is a term for that, culture shock isn't it though, when I figure out what that term is, I'll let you know.

A lot of things have happened to me in the now almost 8 years since I moved (much of which will probably be discussed at length in further questions) but the one thing that has remained consistent is the job. I'm still employed and with each passing year I've advanced and been given more responsibilities and for that I'm very thankful. Because I'm a self described workaholic the thought of moving back to California has never really crossed my mind for any length of time.

That is, except for once. In early 2007 I had recently moved in to a tiny one bedroom apartment in the Detroit suburbs. This particular move was prompted by the separation and eventual divorce from my now ex-wife. Everything in my world had come crashing down around me in the preceding months and I was at very low point in my life. My brother's wife had just given birth to their second child and so the thought of moving back to Sacramento seriously was a consideration for about a week. During that time I began to do job searches, even finding a position at SMUD that was right up my alley. I got as far as preparing a resume and a cover letter for that job but never sent them. My friends here convinced me that packing up and leaving here would have longer term consequences than staying, especially since at the time it was being prompted out of fear.

Now with the economy in the state that it currently is I'm rather glad that I stayed. I still have a job while many others are losing theirs. Right now I work in the manufacturing industry in a state with a 10% unemployment rate, not actually a beacon of light. I have made the decision though that should I become part of that 10% unemployment the world is open season on the job hunt and that might just end up moving me back to California.

Personally I've lived a couple of philosophies in my life. One is "Home is where my crap is" and the other is "Follow the opportunity, not the destination."

The first one simply means that I've never been terribly attached to a single location (hence the 20 moves). This probably comes from growing up in a city with no extended family around (my parents were transplants to Sacramento the year I was born).

The second one basically is saying don't obsess on the end. If you are so focused on the end, you miss everything that is passing by.

2. What would your ideal "job" situation look like? i.e. self-employed, career in "x" field, etc.

The easy answer is the one where I don't have a job to begin with. But I'm a working stiff just like you are so that isn't going to happen any time soon. I am a workaholic much like my father and I will probably do some sort of work till my mental facilities fail to the point I can no longer provide computer advice.

Ever since my first paying job I've working in Information Technology in some capacity or another. I've always been good with them, programmed them, bent them to my will, and shown others how to make the yield to submission. But the Information Technology gig has always been the backup career. I've known that above all else, no matter what else happened in my life, I could get a job in "computers". I learned to type so that I didn't have to learn to flip burgers.

Now looking back on some of the other things I've wanted to do yields things such as when I was in kindergarten and wanted to be "A rock and roll star." Or my second grade dream of being a baseball player. I'm not exactly sure if that is ever going to pan out, but I do think that is why I did eventually pick up the guitar as a side hobby.

Truthfully I'd like to fancy myself as a writer and creative person. I'd like to get off my Guitar Hero playing ass and start writing more and working on making films. I'd like to be a regular contributor on NPR and do guest stints on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." I want John Stewart to bump a senior cabinet member to get a chance to interview me, and I want the chance to tell Stephen Colbert to kiss my ass.

All these things are all possible. The issue is that procrastination is the spontaneous reorganization of my priorities and well, if there is anything that I am good it, it is reorganizing priorities.

Ultimately my ideal job situation would be working to a point where I don't have to work any more and then working on various creative outlets. The fear, uncertainty, and doubt sets in when I realize that there is a mortgage to pay, a car to pay off, and credit cards sitting over me.

3. You get one free do-over. You can use it to redo any one thing you did in your entire life. What do you change and how?

I have this saying that goes "I've never made a mistake in my life, simply choices that didn't turn out as planned.". This is my subtle attempt to tell myself to never be afraid of mistakes, because there is no such thing a mistake, just learning experiences. Now granted, that doesn't mean you can't fuck up really good every once in a while. But hey who are we kidding right?

The reality of the situation is that I have very few regrets in my life. Even the most fucked up of situations I have been able to walk away from still breathing. Even my failed marriage isn't something that I would want to "redo" simply because it ended up teaching me so many thing about life, the universe, and everything that I wouldn't be who I was today without it. I understand the power of very small and insignificant choices. I currently live and work in Michigan due to an instant message conversation eight years ago that started with:

"I hate my job. Are you guys hiring?"

"We need someone for our Bronson plant."

"Where the hell is Bronson."

The choice to have that conversation and type those words set a series of events in motion that to this day I am still playing out. The concept of a redo alone would have serious consequences to the space time continuum and should not be taken lightly. The result you get could drastically be different than the results you were expecting.

But if there was one thing that I could do over again it would actually be to do something I didn't do, rather than not do something I did.

I graduated high school in 1994. My first year of college I spent at Monterey Peninsula College taking general education courses and feeling generally bummed about my situation. Prior to going to college my father and I engaged in a heated argument about the whole prospects of going to college. My premise was that I did not want to go to college till I had figured out what I wanted to go to school for. My fathers premise was that it didn't matter what I went to college for, it was more important that I simply went to school. Needless to say my father won the argument and I started attending college. In my first semester at school I took the requisite introductory English course and had an instructor who encouraged me to actually write in my own voice. For the first time I was allowed to leave the confines of the standard 5 paragraph essay of:

Paragraph 1 -- Outline 3 topics

Paragraph 2 -- Detail topic 1

Paragraph 3 -- Detail topic 2

Paragraph 4 -- Detail topic 3

Paragraph 5 -- Recap 3 topics

I learned to break out of the writing shell that High School had formed around me and for once I learned that I actually liked to write.

My second semester at MPC there was this girl I really wanted to ask out on a date. At that time though my social skills had not developed to a point where the phrase "would you like to go out some time" could be formed by my mouth. But some how I think she picked up on it because one day she offered up the idea of sitting in on one of her classes and then going and getting some Chinese food. I jumped at the chance and met her for her class. The class she had me sit in on was a film studies course where we watched a documentary on Alfred Hitchcock. I was awe struck. It never occurred to me that film could be something that some one could study.

Flash forward another year and I am starting to wind down my community college studies. Having reached my allowable transferable credits there was no reason for me to continue at the community college level. It was time for me to transfer to a four year college and finish up a degree. That is when San Francisco State College entered in to my life. San Francisco State has what was at the time the number three film school in the U.S. It also has the unique virtue of being in the California State system not the California University system, so at the time a semester's tuition would have amounted to about $900. Exactly the same as the tuition at Sacramento State. I started dreaming about how I was going to get in to SF State. I was writing and working on scripts that would have been my submission pieces. I had even started trying to figure out how to make a quick video or two to pad the portfolio. Then the reality of living expenses hit. My parents were just not going to be able to afford to pay for me to live in San Francisco. If I was attending Sacramento State I would have the luxury of living at home rent free. The same could not be said about The City. My mother and I even sat down and did the math one day and came to the conclusion that it would be cheaper over the course of a semester to live in Sacramento and take the train to the bay 3 days a week, than live in an apartment.

My dreams were quickly being crushed. This was the second time in my life that my dream of going to a particular college was being extinguished (remind me to tell you about MIT some day). After some discussions with my parents and some serious looking at the numbers, I resigned myself to the idea of not attending film school. Instead of transferring to Sacramento State that next semester I instead went back to the community college. With the sting of defeat I bummed through a class load of Introduction To Logic and Creative Writing.

Knowing what I know now about the world I would have done this differently. Instead of allowing the fear of the unknown cloud my decision to not attempt film school, I would have worked to figure out a way to pay for my living expenses. Student loans, part time jobs, tour guide, you name it, money can and could have been made. I would have figured out a way to make it work.

All provided they accepted me in to the program that is.

Footnote to that story, the Chinese lunch I had with that girl was the last time I ever spoke to her.

4. Are stalkers a sign of blog popularity, or just crazy acquaintances?

"There needs to be a term for when a former co-worker turned stalker asks your lesbian ex-girlfriend to be a friend on MySpace." -- Me

I guess it really all depends on the stalker. I don't update my blog nearly as often as you do. I'm ashamed to admit that there are currently 38 unread posts to The Verbosery alone that I have yet to read (I'm a bad friend). If I can get one post a month up I am feeling rather good about myself. With such an infrequent posting schedule you really do get learn some interesting habits about the people who pull up your site.

There are two stalker psyches, the habitual stalker, and the feed lurker. The habitual stalker pulls up your site every single day to see if something new has been posted. The feed lurker has your blog in a feed reader and without fail will pull up your site the day you post something new.

These rules obviously only apply to the type of blog I have, which is a completely personal blog of just my ramblings. Other sites that are more of a kin to magazines and stick to regular posting schedules expect that type of readership from the same people over and over again.

My readers though fall directly in to two classes, the ex-coworker and the ex-girlfriend and I have quite a number of both. Now I can only make conjecture as to the reasons why these two classes stalk.

The ex-coworker stalks because they are looking for information on their former employer. There is often times a feeling of being wronged or unresolved issues. Reading a former co-worker's blog might give you insight in to the company and the people that are still there. They are familiar enough with the workplace that even a blog posted in code they will understand. That alone gives them and edge over the rest of the blog reading public. Now I have been around long enough to know that you never ever post or write something that could harm your employer or your own standing at a job. First it isn't cool, and second, it could end up biting you in the ass. I travel quite a bit for my job, so usually if I'm making a reference to my job, it is the fact that I'm sitting in a hotel bored. Rule of thumb is to never write publicly about your current employer, it just isn't smart to begin with. Write about past ones. I work in my company's IT department and I have to restrain myself a lot, because boy oh boy.

Oddly enough the ex-girlfriend stalks for almost the exact same reasons the ex-coworker stalks. There are often feelings of being wronged and unresolved issues. Another rule of blogging that I have sort of lived by is never write about your personal sex life. Although if I did there is a good chance I'd have more readers, and I'd be posting more often. I will admit that I've had some very bad breakups. Almost all of them I will take full responsibility for how things went down. But you move on. When I'm dating someone yes their blog will most likely find its way in to my feed reader, because we are all stalkers at heart. But the first blog post after a breakup is usually the opportunity I take to delete that feed out of my reader. The last thing that I want to do after a break up is to read musings on why men are scum, trials and tribulations over finding a good man, and the inevitable post about how she's found someone new.

I am in the probably not so unique position of having watched my ex-wife's affair happen in real time played out in the comments section of her MySpace page. It was a gut wrenching experience that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Every day I would pull up her and the other guy's pages and read the comments they were leaving for each other. I could never quite figure out if they were leaving the comments out in the open, for everyone to read, to make my life that much more miserable, or if it just never occurred to them that EVERYONE can read comments posted on a public profile. Either way, every time new comments were posted it would send me further in to depression and frustration. Ultimately I de-friended her and he went back to jail (but that's another story) but that experience alone is the prime reason why I refuse to use the site any more, that and I think that 99.9% of all MySpace profile pages look like ass.

So the thought of following an ex's blog after any messy break up just seems crazy to me with that bit of perspective. I am very unlikely to feed out details of my new love conquests, and if I plan on moving on from a relationship, why would I want to be reminded of it every time they posted it on to the Internet?

5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

Well having already discussed my philosophy of "Home is where my crap is" I wonder how seriously I can answer this question. Depending on the weather outside different ideas come to mind. It is winter in Michigan and we are currently under a "winter storm advisory" which means that in the next 12 hours the conditions are just right for us to get anywhere from one inch to one foot of snow. They won't know for sure till it is all over with. And that is an accurate forecast. One day I'm expecting to see a weatherman come on to TV with a big Wheel of Fortune type wheel and simply give it a spin and call it good.

It is in these types of meteorological situations that the idea of finding some small island where the water is warm to spend the rest of my days on floats to the top of the list of things that I want. The only requirement is that the island girls are hot.

But not all of us can be Sir. Sean Connery and retire to the Bahamas.

Of the 20 odd address I've had over the years, the one that I was happiest at was one of my first. I lived in downtown Sacramento. I was right next to a Light Rail station and I could walk anywhere I needed to be. Looking back on that time I really enjoyed the total urban immersion.

I am not exactly sure which city in the world would be the one I would pick, but I really would like to live in a downtown urban metropolis. I don't want to have any need or reason to own a car as there would be ample public transportation around me. A good brewpub would have to be within stumbling distance of my home, and IKEA would provide free home delivery. A few blocks over there would be a small Art Theater that would show the current independent films and every Friday night some classic throwback. I would want a view from my home that allowed me to see the city around me, so a high rise building is probably in order. I would want to live and work in a section of town that I would never need to leave, but the knowledge that if I had to, three blocks north was unexplored territory.

In the end I can see places such as New York, London, or Paris as all being viable options. Settling on the right one though might take some time.

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