Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Photocopy of a Photocopy of a Photocopy... of a Love Letter

I sleep poorly.

Those who spend a fair amount of time in my life know that my sleep issues have been pervasive since i was in high school. No matter how tired i am sitting up, doing things, as soon as the lights go out and my head hits the pillow, i am suddenly wide awake. This state will persist for anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours. Because of this, i often find myself staying awake at night until i just can't keep my eyes open any more, trying desperately to spend the least amount of time staring at the ceiling as possible. After such a night, i sleep in, pushing back my daily allotment of waking hours, causing me to fall asleep even later than the night before. Its a vicious cycle which i've been trying to break by various means for as long as i care to remember.

A big part of this issue is i care far too much for Today Me to be able to reliably set up a good sleeping schedule. I sometimes succeed in going to bed at the same time, getting up at the same time, for a week or so, but then something shiny will tempt me into staying up late, i'll sleep in, kablooey.

My mother is reading a novel by Chuck Hogan called Devils in Exile, and she recently read my an excerpt from it. I will do my best here to paraphrase the concepts that were related to me:

Most people are like me, staying up too late to satisfy the desires of Today Me, not particularly caring about the consequences for Tomorrow Me. Unfortunately, Tomorrow Me all too soon becomes Today Me again, cursing out Yesterday Me for making such poor choices.

What i need to start doing is thinking of the best interests of Tomorrow Me. Like i so often put other people's interests ahead of my own, i need to start doing for myself. The really interesting part of this whole idea is that i should be doing just that for the exact same reason i do it for other people.

If you spend your days looking out for Tomorrow You, you will quickly find yourself growing to love Yesterday You. Yesterday You is a good bean. He eats well, letting you feel good today. He goes to sleep on time, allowing you to wake up refreshed today. He got all the boring stuff done, giving you time to do some fun stuff today.

You help other people because you love, respect, accept, and appreciate them. Shouldn't you do all that and more for yourself?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gretz' Hierarchy of Outcasts

I am part of a certain demographic which doesn't exist outside of the etherwebs. In perfect illustration of this, if you have no idea what the "etherwebs" are, you're not part of this demographic.

I am a geek (duh). I spend a fair amount of time fraternizing with real-live-actual-no-they-don't-live-in-Canada-like-that-one-kid's-girlfriend people solely through the medium of the internet. In doing so, i have my ear to the ground on a lot of trends, fads, colloquialisms, styles, interests, dislikes, etc that ONLY EXIST online. As such, this sphere of knowledge both separates me from the masses and cleaves me irrevocably to a community that the aforementioned masses probably have no idea exists.

This is what qualifies me as a member of what i like to call "the fringe". I admit, its a term that makes more sense in the high school society in which i coined it, but i like it, so it stays. This post will now attempt to categorize them.

1. The NERD
The nerd is possibly more common than one might think, easily masquerading as a normal person throughout their day-to-day lives. Nerds are recognized for their love of a particular field or interest that generally is not found very interesting by the world at large. Whether its math, linguistics, entomology, or what have you, the nerd's passion lies outside what you or i may think of as interesting. Nerds are the scientists of the outcasts; they love to learn, love to study, simply for the sake of the scholastic thrill. This differentiates them from the other outcasts in that they visit the spheres that make up their passion, but try not to live there. Nerds can sometimes become so engrossed in whatever it is that they love that they may forget about such social conventions as Style and Hygiene, but its rare. Nerds tend to be too smart for that.

2. The GEEK
I am a geek. Geeks are a little more easily recognized than nerds, and are becoming more and more prevalent every day. This is simply because the field or interest that geeks are passionate about are generally more accepted - or at least more common - than the nerds'. "Computer Geek" is so common a term at this point that it is almost universally recognized. And this is the important point that sets the geek apart from the rest:

There's a million different kinds of geeks.

"Wait!" i can hear you saying, "if there're so many different kinds, what is their common denominator? What makes a geek a geek?" Ok, maybe you aren't saying that, but i'm writing this, so deal. The key factor in a geek is that, while a nerd studies their sphere of interest, visits it to learn more about its intricacies, a geek lives there. The difference is a subtle one, i admit, but important. Geeks usually like to be called nerds (although they might be anyway; you can be both).

The hallmark of a geek vs. a nerd is that geeks tend to be much more socially advanced than nerds. There's a reason the term "geek chic" exists (besides the rhyme). Unfortunately, this leads to a lot more closet geeks than i would like, but it also lets them be accepted members of society, so i gotta let it slide.

3. The DORK
Nobody likes dorks. Not even the nerds or the geeks. The shortcoming of the dork is that, while they may share an interest with a nerd or a geek, they become so absorbed in it that they forsake all else for its sake. They are the ones who gladly sacrifice human interaction for computer. They are the ones who are so engrossed in their trading card collection that they forget to shower. They are what geeks and nerds become when they slide too far away from the anchoring hold of Friends and Family. Also, they're known to bite.

Nerds are usually very smart, but can be kind of airheady. They love their chosen interest to the point where they can sometimes let minor things slide. This interest is usually very particular and not often very popular.
Geeks are also often smart, but generally more gregarious. They love their interest, but then, so do a lot of other people. This larger community of like-minded people promotes healthy social skills, sometimes to the point of developing the now almost-common Cool Geek.
No one likes dorks. Sorry, dorks. Go take a shower and call up that friend you yelled at for messing up their klingon conjugations. Come back to the Light Side.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Or Is It Too Late?

As i fearfully approach the age that puts me closer to 30 than to 20, i find i am increasingly aware of just how little my current life resembles what i had hoped it would. Add to this the fact that i now know almost as little about what i want to be when i grow up as when that question was first posed to me and it leaves a horrible, smirking demon-monkey clinging to my back, picking nits of Hope and Positive Feelings out of my hair.

"Self, what the hell were you expecting?" i sometimes ask myself. When i was in high school, if i had tried to imagine what my life would look like right now, i probably would have said that i'd hope to be living on my own, working in some field in psychology or at least in school for it, engaged or married, content. Currently, i am none of those things, and at this point, don't even know what i want to be doing When I Grow Up.

Do i want to write? (yes). Do i want to act? Do i want to design, counsel, program? Then, after picking one (or two), i have to decide on the particulars inherent to each profession. You can't just go to a company and say, "i want to program for you". You have to have a specific area picked out and then you have to go to some kind of school to get a piece of paper that says you know how to do it. Then, maybe the company will decide to hire you. And only after a few years of working in that chosen field will you realize whether or not you want to be doing that in the first place.

Hoo boy. That amount of time just sounds to me like a lot of dollar signs i don't have. Unfortunately for me, i only spent two years in school, dropping out for reasons i won't get into here. I saved myself the misfortune of going into debt for a major it turned out i didn't care much for, but here i am, two years later, with no degree. This severely limits my job opportunities, and so, my ability to spend money to figure out what i want to be doing.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers details three specific factors in jobs that people describe as "satisfying." These are Autonomy, Complexity, and Connection between effort & reward. These are the things i want in a vocation. Any less, and i am sure i will eventually go mad.

My question is, will i be sane by the time i attain this mythical job?