What’s the point of it all?

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2011 by lnicks

So I disappeared from the internet for awhile because I have been wondering why in the hell I keep this blog anyway. I am well aware that I mostly just end up whining into it and I don’t particularly like that myself.

I also received a particularly interesting comment that I think is worth responding to in its own entry. (I cut some of the comment down for length, but you can read the entire thing here.)

Ok I’m speaking to you as someone who was in your exact same position a few months back and Im gonna give you the same advice someone gave me……THE WORLD SUCKS but sitting online running a site talking about how much the world sucks ISNT GONNA MAKE IT ANY BETTER…u surround urself with thoughts of negativity everyday running a website that analyzes every aspect of the world that you hate…dont u think that eventually has an effect of your mood and outlook?? In retrospect it sure as hell did something to me… I am not bashing you by any means this isnt a mean spirited post I am just telling you that this used to be me and you dont want to look back on ur life and think all u amounted to was someone who sat behind a silver screen spitting out angry drivel about EVERYTHING. My advice to you is get a new outlook blast Matt & Kim and sing along to it as loud as u can in the shower go to grad school get a sweet GPA do some internships while there and turn things around for urself so u can hopefully hand this advice down to someone down the road who u see see going towards a life of seeing the glass half empty forever….

And I have to say, this person is completely right.

They are also completely wrong.

Yes, of course, negativity begets more negativity. I can’t argue with that. And sure, if I were to just crank up the music and grab a drink I’d probably be happier overall.

But the only way I am going to stop writing about the world sucking (or thinking about it, seeing as how sometimes I just get lazy and don’t update this) is if I STOP CARING.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, yes, but more importantly I am sick and tired of being powerless and screwed over by everyone in the damn world.

I am sick and tired of the fact that basically the only health insurance policies it is possible to get as an unemployed or self-employed person are so expensive in their premiums and/or cheap in their benefits that they end up being effectively worthless. I hate the fact that the day after waking up in the middle of the night with intense abdominal pain the biggest regret I had was going to the doctor because it turned out to not be a life-or-death situation and my health insurance didn’t cover the multi-thousand dollar bill.

I am sick and tired of world where your landlord can lie to your face and screw you over behind your back, and when you decide to leave your next landlord can take your security deposit and then fail to tell you that they decided not to give you the apartment. I am sick and tired of looking forward to an entire lifetime of renting from people with more money and power than me who can just make these rules and if you’re too poor to even dream of trying to own your own place within the next 15 years you can either live by whatever shitty rules they set for you or you can live under a bridge.

I am sick and tired of the fact that there are multi-BILLION dollar corporations that don’t pay a dime in taxes while I practically had a nervous breakdown upon discovering the extremely small sum I ended up owing the federal government because it was cutting into my grocery budget. The fact that I spent well over a year of my life groveling at the feet of said corporations, practically begging for a job and often getting no response whatsoever (not even acknowledgement of receipt of my resume) infuriates me, and the thought of getting to do that again at any point in the future turns my stomach.

I am sick and tired of a world in which I sold out my principles because it was the only way to make money, and then I don’t even get to be rich after all that- I am still barely make enough to pay my bills. (Seriously, isn’t money the reward you’re supposed to get for selling out your principles? Or I am just doing it wrong?)

There are only two ways I can stop being angry about all of these things: if they change, or if I give up.

If I could resign myself to living in such a world, maybe I could find some peace. And you know, that’s probably the logical thing to do. It would undoubtedly make me happier.

But I just can’t do it. I don’t have it in me. The fact is I can’t get a new outlook, because this is how the world is. I would say I refuse to sugarcoat it but that’s not even really true. I just CAN’T sugarcoat it. If you can look at this unbelievable mess, and see the good in it, and overlook the bad, and sing in the shower and have it not bother you- God bless. Really. I envy you.

The best I can do is hope I survive this with enough optimism and drive left to let my anger overrule my bitterness so I can go DO something about it all, and hopefully make my own, personal, WordCynic-shaped dent in the mountain of FUCKED UP BULLSHIT that is the world.

Is that unbelievably melodramatic? Obviously. And I do apologize. But it’s just the way I am. And I guess that’s what the point of all this is.

(Although let the record show that I do in fact annoy myself with my own melodrama. So don’t judge too harshly.)


The Moment of Pain

In The Real World on March 16, 2011 by lnicks Tagged: , , ,

So, while the hospital I visited in January is currently deciding if I’m enough of a charity case to waive some of my charges, the ER physician (who charges separately from the hospital itself) just sent me a bill.

On the one hand, I do get the contractual readjustment through my health insurance company. On the other hand, they don’t actually pay anything. (Remind me again why I have health insurance? I grow to hate them more and more each day.)

So I’m still stuck with a $300+ bill here, and whatever the hospital decides I should pay, which could be up to $1500.

And while I’ve known this for awhile, now that I’m here staring at the bill and preparing to make the payment, it’s just eating me up. I haven’t looked at the books too carefully in awhile, but I think this $300 is probably the grand total amount of money that I have managed to save up since I started tutoring back in September. So that’s what my six months of struggling was for.

And even if I decide to go to grad school, it’s going to keep being this way. I look at the paltry sum in my savings account and mentally deduct what I might have to pay for my ER visit, and wonder how on earth I’ll be able to afford even STARTING grad school. Flying back east, deposit on an apartment, new furniture, a car…

Then again, if I DON’T go, I’ll just continue to live here in miserable fucking California, and will have no income during the summer months anyway.

Today has just been a bad day. I don’t even know what to say about it, except that I continue to not be able to believe that this is the way the world works. I continue to not be able to believe that this is my life. I am miserable and unhappy and struggling to survive and I just see no end to it.

What it comes down to is this: some days I see hope for the future. And some days I don’t.

Today has been one of the latter.


Holy Shit I Got into Grad School

In The Real World on March 9, 2011 by lnicks Tagged:

So, I took a little much-needed hiatus from blogging after having an utterly horrendous, hate-filled day that made me want to never use the internet again. I do want to try to maintain a regular schedule of posting and I think I have been doing better, but after that day I really, really needed a break or I was going to completely self-implode. My faith in humanity was restored a teeny tiny bit when I discovered that the hospital I visited a month or so ago has a financial assistance program for low-income patients and I officially qualify (horray compassion for sick, poor people!) although I’m still waiting to hear back as to how much they will actually cover, and my faith in myself was restored quite a big bit when I discovered that I had been admitted to a graduate school.

I might have squealed, jumped up and down, and run around the apartment a little bit. Or I might have handled my excitement in a more mature, adult way. (It’s possible, you know.)

Anyway, I have officially been admitted to Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs to pursue a dual masters degree in Public Affairs and Environmental Science, and I am really, really excited about it. I have had an extremely difficult time getting all the extras of my applications together (transcripts, letters of recommendation, etc) so the two other schools will still probably not have complete applications until the end of this week. This will make juggling multiple acceptances (if I am indeed lucky enough to get in to one of the others) and their deadlines somewhat tricky. But I’ll be visiting SPEA at the end of the month and if it goes well I think I might just go there. The more I think about it, the more excited I get.

It’s nice to have someone say in definitive terms that you’re not a total fuck-up and failure at life. No, idiots on the internet don’t really have that much of an effect on me, but my own inner voice does. I have spent 2 years struggling to accomplish something with my life and getting absolutely nowhere (or possibly even going backwards), so when a well-respected, nationally ranked graduate program (which was one of the first in the country to put together a dual degree that almost perfectly matches my career ambitions) tells me they think I’m worthy of their education…well, it has definitely done a lot to lift my spirits.

I’ve been trying to find some new tutoring clients lately, because the number of hours I work now is just really not cutting it. Unfortunately, despite the success I have had with Craigslist in the past, this time around I have gotten one legitimate response and over half a dozen scam bait emails. If it keeps going at this rate I might have to shell out a few bucks for a Google adwords campaign, as much as I hate feeding the Google empire any more than I already do. But despite all the misery and frustration of making ends meet with tutoring and riding my bike through the daily rain out here, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and for that I am extremely grateful. It suddenly once again seems possible that I might one day get a job that I actually want to be doing.


Fuck the internet

In Teh Internet on February 18, 2011 by lnicks Tagged:

I have officially lost all faith in the human race.

Today alone, anonymous assholes on the internet have called me a “loser” who “just suck[s] at life,” a “drooling idiot,” “enfeebled,” a “self-important bitch, an “opinionated cunt,” and been told that I was only being spoken to this way in an effort to “de-cunt” me.

When I tried to bring some humanity to the situation by telling one of my abusers that I had been having a miserable day and his cruelty made me cry (hoping maybe to shame him into behaving like a decent human being?), he replied with, “I frankly don’t give a shit about your problems…Suck it up and try to act like an adult, you fuck-up.”

My brain just broke.

We live in a society that not only does not provide the opportunity for nearly 10% of its population to work in order to provide for themselves, it seems to accept this kind of behavior.

This is the way people treat each other? It’s unbelievable.

I want no part of this society. I officially withdraw from it. I forfeit. I’d rather be beaten to death by Neanderthals over the last scrap of food than be deceived into believing that we live in a civilized world only to have to deal with crap like this on a daily basis.

Today I decided there is no sympathy. There is no compassion. There are only assholes.


Saving Money

In Job Search, The Real World on February 17, 2011 by lnicks Tagged: , , ,

I just thought of a new way to shave a few cents off my grocery bill.

I’m going to call home, and ask my parents to mail me my diploma.

Then I will tear it into strips and use it as toilet paper.


The procrastinators leading the procrastinators

In Tutoring on February 16, 2011 by lnicks Tagged:

On Monday I learned that Future Particle Physicist has been lying to my face for weeks about his homework.

He often tells me that he “doesn’t have” homework in a particular subject, or that his teacher gave the students time to work on it during class and already he handed it in. Now that I have access to his gradebook (the wonders of the internet, none of this stuff even remotely existed 6 years ago when I was in school) I can see that this is a bunch of crap. (In my defense, I had always been suspicious of these claims but was wary of the return on investment I’d get by challenging him aggressively on it.)

When I first realized this I got pretty annoyed. Tutoring Future Particle Physicist is the easiest the job I have, which actually makes it one of my least favorites. FPP is a good kid (or so I thought) and I generally enjoy working with him, but there is no challenge to it whatsoever. Working with him just serves as the most poignant reminder of how much I am underachieving in my life right now. My job is basically to make sure he does his homework. So when I found out that he had been lying to me and basically making me a failure at the easiest job I’ve ever had, I was more than a little annoyed.

I decided that the next time he told me he “finished the work in class” I’d force him to do it again and say, “Maybe if you have two copies of it, there will be a greater chance that one of them actually makes it to your teacher.”

Patient is a virtue I am not overly blessed with, which sometimes makes tutoring a constant internal struggle, despite how good I am at explaining things.

So I confronted him a bit on Monday afternoon. It seems like when he gets behind on his homework, he feels ashamed and doesn’t want anyone to know. So he tells us that he finished it and then maybe does or more likely DOESN’T get around to actually finishing it later. After that, I was immediately sympathetic. How can I be angry at someone for being a younger version of myself?

His mom told him not to lie to us, because we’re there to help, not to criticize. We talked about writing down all of his assignments and being more organized with books and papers. Overall I think the little talk went pretty well.

Case in point: I had been worried that FPP’s mom would be unreceptive to the idea that her son had been lying, but she came through again. The following exchange happened during our talk.

FPP’s Mom: “FPP, did you finish your social studies map?”
FPP: “Yeah.”
FPPS’s Mom: *pauses* “So you didn’t finish it.”

Ha. I guess having a BS detector finely tuned to your kid is part of being a mom.

So we created a list of all his missing and late assignments and all the new ones that are due this week, and spent 3 hours Monday afternoon working on it. Afterwards his mother emailed me and mentioned that I do the math differently (what an old story) and as a result he’s been avoiding his math homework. I feel bad about that, but also frustrated. If I ask him how he learned a concept he’ll say he doesn’t know or remember. So I’ll show him “my way” and he offers no contradiction. I obviously only know my way, so if he can’t tell me what his way his, what exactly am I supposed to do? It’s not like I remember 3 different methods for multiplying fractions. It’s been quite a few years since I settled on the one I like.

Maybe I really shouldn’t be tutoring students this young. It is just so far removed from my actual level of math knowledge.

It is also taking me an awful long time to learn how to actually deal with students. Maybe I really shouldn’t be tutoring at all.

(I could, I don’t know, get a job as an engineer. It’s just a thought.)


Mirror’s Edge 2 Postponed

In Geek Stuff on February 14, 2011 by lnicks Tagged: , ,

According to the website Eurogamer, Mirror’s Edge 2 has been cancelled, or at least postponed, or, well, whatever you call it, the point is you’re not going to see it for awhile. If ever.

I was quite surprised at my immediate reaction of disappointment, considering I raged at my Xbox through the majority of the play-through of that game.

I won’t go into a full-on review of Mirror’s Edge, but let’s just say that like many who came before me, I found the controls counter-intuitive, the combat infuriating, and the storyline confusing. (To be fair, that last one was mostly because I periodically took multi-week breaks from playing through the campaign to recover from my combat-induced rage. Seriously. The combat in that fucking game. Gah. Anyway, when I would return from several weeks off I’d understandably be completely lost in regards to the storyline. Wait, who the hell is that guy? Didn’t she die earlier? What the hell is going on here?)

Yet despite all this, the game was oddly addicting. It was something like a neat idea poorly executed, or maybe a horrible idea extremely well executed. I’m not really sure, but I do know that there was something just a tad bit more interesting going on than you normally see in your formulaic first person shooter. If you could find a stretch of game with no combat and no infuriating “repeat this series of jumps 500 times until you manage to time each of them exactly” sequences, it got really fun.

I guess ultimately I felt like the game was JUST SHY of being really good, and really fun, and really not-infuriating, and I had a relatively high level of confidence that they’d be able to work out those kinks in the sequel.

I won’t jump on the bandwagon of complaining about the homogenization of video game genres, because I’m not nearly as much of a gamer as I would like the internet to believe, and because I spend the majority of my time playing Halo than anything else, despite thinking it’s completely unoriginal. In other words, I wouldn’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, and I’d be a hypocrite.

But I will lament the loss (or at least postponement) of Mirror’s Edge 2, because it’s always nice to play a fun, interesting, original game when taking a break from the manic obsessive “must play 20 more games tonight because I’m OMG SOOOOO close to ranking up!” Halo marathons.


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