Monday, November 13, 2006

Finally an Update (such as it is)

I've been taken to task for not updating lately. So:

As poker goes, I've been playing a lot of small-buyin tournaments. I've come to realize how thin the edge is that you have to walk, being aggressive without going over into stupidity. I find I often don't get it quite right, and cross the line with more frequency than I should. This isn't "tilt" per se, but it is a failure to strike the right balance in my play. And so, in the week since my last win in a $4 180-man sit-and-go (which pays $216, 54 buyins), I've had only the occasional minor cash, and my bankroll (such as it is) has been mainly going in the wrong direction. I think the best news I've got in the last week has been a fourth in one of those $4 180s, which paid around $55.

So now, you're up with where I've been pokerwise.

And Now, the News

I've talked with Gil's daughter, Dagny, more over the last month or so than I have in the previous years that I've known her and Gil, including when we were living under the same roof. I find that when I look at her situation, it is similar to mine.

Dagny went right from highschool into college (unlike me), got her degree (unlike me), and proceeded from college immediately onto graduate school (very unlike me), where she ended up with a Master of Library Science, or MLS. However, upon graduation she's found that libraries aren't exactly jumping at the chance to hire a freshly-minted MLS, that the openings at libraries are scarce enough that "networking" becomes the most important way to get one of those jobs. So, she's at loose ends, recently leaving in a huff a cashier's job at Meijer, a Michigan company that's been doing for more than forty years what Super Wal-Mart has only been doing for the last five or so. I'm not entirely clear on her reasons for leaving the cashier's job—it didn't pay much, but it paid something—but it sounded a bit like she was being, at least mildly, sexually harassed, and so she left rather than deal with it.

But her situation is similar to mine in this way: She's a bright person who can't find a place in the "straight" world. I don't remember if I blogged it or not, but she recently saw an opportunity to have her tuition paid for while she worked toward a Ph.D. in English (at UNLV). While she was at her alma mater looking for letters of recommendation toward UNLV's program, one of her professors essentially told her, "For the love of god, don't get a Ph.D. in English." Apparently there are enough English Ph.D.'s looking for university appointments that every opening has hundreds of applicants, and so one had better be prepared to hyper-compete for any opening one seeks. To my mind, if that's what you really want to do, you go ahead and hyper-compete, but I gather that she doesn't really want to be an English professor per se, she wants an English professor's lifestyle. I don't fault her for that, I find that lifestyle attractive as well.

One of the ways in which her situation does not resemble mine is that she's only 25, a year removed from college. It's less of a big deal for her to still be trying to find her place in the world. It is a big deal to be 36 and still trying to determine "what you want to be when you grow up."

Dagny's problem as I perceive it (and I don't know if I mentioned it to her in this many words, so she may be reading this for the first time) is that she's very poor at "office politics," broadly defined. She doesn't like her co-workers (outside work, she often expresses contempt for them), and so they don't like her. I conclude from this that even if she got a university appointment, or library job, she would suffer job failure for the same sort of nebulous reasons that I seem to: That even in her "dream job" she'd only be there for a short time (although at a university that's probably three to five years) before she quit or "was asked not to return."

The good news is that one can grow out of social awkwardness, if that's what it is; I'm a clear example of that. In the 1980s and into the 1990s, I was a nerd and well aware of it, and knowing I was a nerd kept me from engaging in any social situations up through highschool. For example, I didn't go to any of my highschool dances, including my prom, and this was not so much because of my awkwardness with girls (and, hey, that continues to this day), but because of my awkwardness with social situations generally: I didn't go because I wouldn't enjoy myself, and people would make fun of me because I was a nerd, or for some other reason. It was only later that I grew to revel in my nerdiness and to realize that it's not being the same as everyone else that makes one "popular," it's being different from everyone else and confident about it. My highschool had only a few black students (less than ten, out of 2500 students), but they were among the most popular people in school because they were different, and this was long enough after "I'm black and I'm proud" that they made no apologies for being black. (That could easily have gone the other way; they could have told themselves that they wouldn't fit in because they were black, but at least the ones in the class of '87, that I knew the best, weren't like that at all.)

I was going to wrap up this section with another look at how Dagny's situation and mine are similar, but that's not even really the important thing about our situations. The important thing is more that I found myself unable to really offer advice, and I'm ordinarily willing to do that if asked. If I knew a good thing to suggest that she should do, I'd probably be doing it myself.

(Barely relevant to this discussion: Dagny's working on a project for NaNoWriMo, and though she's not on track to make the goal that NaNo sets forth, she's reasonably happy with what she's turned out aside from that. If it ends up being good enough to be published, maybe her failure to find a library job will actually lead her into her true calling anyway.)

On a Return to Vegas

The possibility that Dagny might be moving to Vegas to study at UNLV, excited Gil and I more than was fair to Dagny at all. The non-McDonalds portion of Gil's business is failing, and the McDonalds part he could theoretically do from anywhere. So he considered it likely that if Dagny moved to Vegas, he'd probably move as well, and find a way out there to supplement his income from McDonalds. And I would have not only an excuse to move west, but people to share expenses with when I got there. In short, Gil and I were looking at Dagny's move as an opportunity and excuse to do something we'd sort of like to do anyway: Move west.

But, as my shrink pointed out, why does it have to be Dagny that leads our exodus? Although I do gather that she'd sort of like to move, Vegas wouldn't me a more likely destination than any other for her. And, if she decided to move to, say, Boise, Gil and I wouldn't be very likely to follow her out there. I mentioned this to Gil, and he pointed out the major problem with me leading an exodus to Vegas: My lack of bankroll enough even to get there. True enough. But I was sort of hinting in the other direction, that Gil should decide to move, and I'd follow, and likely Dagny would follow as well. Gil priced three-bedroom apartments in Vegas, and they were slightly less than I'd imagine. I didn't ask, but it suddenly occurs to me that the ones he saw might have been essentially university housing, apartments thrown up around UNLV to attract students, that would be cheaply-built apartments with lousy neighbors. But we haven't actually made plans to move.

Except: Gil saw a job online for a magic demonstrator, which would let Gil continue working in the magic field. I personally couldn't do the job as he describes it (learning the actual magic trick to demonstrate seems like the easy part), but it would let him supplement his income from McDonalds if he moved out there. He sent a résumé, but he's not sure he'll actually accept the job if it's offered to him.

And I myself am feeling differently about the possibility of a job. If I could do essentially what I did last year, move out to Vegas and get a job there, I'd do it. That wouldn't take a ton of money, certainly less than $2000. I've considered taking a job here to assemble the $2000, but a four-figure tournament score online is fairly likely before long anyway. (I don't enter a lot of tournaments with that kind of payday, but I enter some, and my results have been such that I think I can expect that kind of payday reasonably soon.)

This thought occurred to me this morning when I was thinking about my apparent change of heart: Why? Why was I convinced a short time ago that Job < Death, but now it's something I'd consider? I see a couple of possibilities (in no particular order):

First, it's possible that I've been in a clinical depression that's not only undiagnosed, but unrecognized by me. I don't feel any different than I did a few months ago, but now I'll consider a job and then I wouldn't. The fact that I don't actually feel any different leads me to discount this.

Second, well, this will sound childish, but it's possible. I react very badly to being told what to do, as I've posted before. And for the last six months, everyone's been telling me to get a job. But for the last month or so, they've backed off (my parents, for example, have been gone for the last week). It's possible that I'm okay with a job right now because I wouldn't be doing it because someone else told me to.

It's this third possibility that most worries me: I've been doing what I've been doing now for closing in on six months. Six months seems to be a magic number for me: When I quit or get fired, it's often at around the six month mark. One possible analysis is that I get bored at about that mark. Often, that's exactly what happens, but at other times, "bored" isn't clearly the right word. The possibility that I've become bored with not working worries me, because it'd be even more evidence that my whole life going forward will be no different from my life looking backward: A series of "episodes" of mostly around six months in length, some of them okay and some of them bad.

Maybe the thing to do is to roll with it, and seek "jobs" that are six months or so in length, on purpose. I'm coming up with this on the spur of the moment, but maybe the right way to go is to work within a temp agency, working for six months with about a month off between assignments. I'm not sure what I'd do for the temp agency, maybe I'd have to talk to them about what's available, but even the idea is worthwhile.