So far, I have to say my new job has been going exceptionally well. The hardest part of it, I think, is getting up in the morning consistently and making myself presentable and at least semi-coherent by the time I have to be at Bennie's to carpool into the office. Working with someone I know has been great; it's really helped me get into the swing of things quickly. It doesn't hurt that he's been a good teacher, giving me enough to do that I'm almost never bored while not giving me so much that I feel overwhelmed by the amount on my plate.

I got my first paycheck today, which was exceptionally nice. I do have to say, though, that I wish it were higher. It's still weird to think of the fact that I'm now making about three-fourths of my previous salary, and only gettings two paychecks a month instead of one every two weeks (twenty-four pay periods, instead of twenty-six) makes that nice "bonus paycheck" a thing of the past. Still, that would really have to be the only major downside to my job, and with the perk of getting lunch on the company dime, I'm probably still coming out even.

Actually, having the company order lunch has been an exceptional boon to my budget, because I'm dieting again. Between the depression of being out of work, and the bad attitude borne of not wanting to think about stressful
things while I had other, more important, stressful things about which to worry, I found one morning recently that the scale said "EE" when I stood upon it. Now, that could be considered one of my goals, but not that one, and it was a rather rude shock. I always said, at least to myself, that I would never break three-hundred again, and I had. So, now I eat a diet-food breakfast, a diet-food dinner, and have my one decent meal at the company's expense. This means that when Lean Pockets are on sale, I'm only spending two dollars a day on food, plus whatever diet soda costs if the fridge at work is empty.

The utter lack of self-pity that staying true to oneself and one's values requires is, I think, one of the hardest things in life to have and to keep. I find it far too easy to wallow in self-deprecation and bemoan what has not gone my way, rather than actually fix things and keep them fixed. Things that take constant and repetitive maintenence, especially ones that aren't fun in and of themselves, are very difficult for me. Dieting isn't just once; it's for life. I am not the sort of person that, once at an ideal weight, can eat whatever whenever and not gain it all back. Keeping up with dilation and exercise has been difficult as well, despite the desirability of the end-goals, because the path to get there is work. Even DDR hasn't been "fun," though I do enjoy the activity, at least for a while.

Someone asked me recently, "what is Hare?" The question seems like a non sequitur, but the answer isn't. To me, hare is the admission of helplessness. She's the recognition and divestiture of defense mechanisms, lies, deceits and self-absolutions. She is not that which leads me astray, but that which lets me recognize when I have led myself astray, and then bring myself back.

Through Hare, I find within myself the courage to stand naked, stripped of self-delusion. There is much about myself that I do not like, but I have the strength to recognize these things, not to hide from them. I hate dieting, but I hate being fat. I hate dilating, but I hate being too tight and too shallow. I hate exercising, but I hate being out of shape. In Hare, I have the power to admit these things, and to work on fixing them. Hare is not the solution, but she is the understanding of the problem.

Nobody stays in Atlantis by faking reality in any manner whatsoever. 


Last Friday, I took my car back into the shop because it's been stalling on me. I don't just mean "sometimes it dies and I have to restart it," either. If that were all it were doing, I could live with that. I had a Chrysler that did that for several years before its electricals finally gave up in the middle of an intersection in downtown Dallas during rush hour. No, I mean it stops and refuses to start for at least ten minutes, then belches forth the most noxious cloud of unburnt gasoline imaginable, and then has a fifty to sixty percent chance of stalling again immediately upon dropping the gear from park or neutral back into drive. It did this once as I was taking Jessie to work, and my mate was late because of it, so I figured it was time to once again have the thing in the shop.

Now, this is the third time since I've gotten it that I've had to have it repaired for various issues relating to stopping or not starting. First I had to tow it because it wouldn't start at all. Then I had to drive it to the shop because it would stall and refuse to start. Then for a while it was fine, but after about two weeks it would start stalling on me. However, during this period it just restarted when I turned the key again, and I figured I could live with that until I had a job and could afford to get it into the shop or get it replaced. Now it's doing exactly what it did before, and I have again put it to the shop.

This time, though, the mechanic said that he let it sit for two hours on idle, and he gave it some test drives, and he could never make it stall. He surmised that the transmission was b0rqed, that something called the torque converter was shot because late-eighties Chryslers were known for problems with whatever device in the engine exists for converting torque. He told me to take it to his transmission specialist to get this piece of repairwork done, and not knowing anything about cars other than how to operate them, I took his advice. 

The transmission mechanic called me back yesterday afternoon and said, "I had a look, and the transmission is fine, but did you know you're in the danger zone as far as oil goes?"

At this point, I must digress and discuss an old RPG called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. This game, which I received when I was probably fourteen or so, is one of the things that strongly cemented my
interest in furry, and for the longest time I thought this game was one of the coolest on earth because you got to play an
animal. How cool was that? None of this boring human nonsense. Animals were cool.

If this wasn't cool enough for you, the supplements they made for the game, with the exception of Adventures and Transdimensional, all related not to TMNT's original world but to Palladium's own post-apocalyptic update to the
setting, called After the Bomb. After the Bomb, or AtB, was the shiznit of settings. It had talking animals. It had magic. It had superhero powers. It had post-holocaust nuclear fallout. It had everything. It was Gamma World
for the kids who never got to play Gamma World, and for the kids that did, it was everything about Gamma World that was cool, without TSR. Mind you, it had Palladium instead, which was trading the hangman for the firing squad, but at least it was something.

Then, as if AtB wasn't enough, Palladium released the supplement to, at the time, end all supplements: Road Hogs. This added the element of fast cars and vehicular combat to the game, meaning it could now appeal to the people who played Steve Jackson's Car Wars as well, and if this didn't get you, you were hopelessly outside the sphere of cool. I ate this stuff up with a spoon when I was that age, and I adored the ideas spawned by the game.
Never mind that ten years later I would look back at all this fascination and money and time spent and laugh my head off at my own foolishness. At the time, I was seriously all over this stuff.

Road Hogs gives all sorts of rules for various mechanics that you can have working on your car, all the way from apprentice in the craft up to the Lord God Guru Wrenchmaster or whatever they called the chief expert. One type, however, fell squarely outside the range of good, bad and guitarist: the mechanical empath. This person wasn't really a mechanic, but a doctor of sick machines, and zie instinctively just knew what was wrong and how to make them work again. Zie could do stuff to an engine, a car or a water-recycler that would look totally unrelated to the actual problem, and have the thing humming along smoothly without effort. I always
thought these were the best.

Unfortuntely, the mechanical empath had one major drawback if you used that type of person to fix your vehicles: anything fixed by them would only stay fixed as long as they hung around. Outside some fixed radius, machines that they built or repaired would start to malfunction again, and ordinary mechanics couldn't fix them. Only the empath had the know-how to figure out what they really wanted and make them happy again, and eventually if away from their loving masters for long enough machines would just up and die, fall to spare parts and used oil, and there was nothing anyone else could do. Often, even rebuilding them wouldn't help.

There are times I fear that this is the power that Tanya's father wields.

The mechanic to whom I've been taking this car since I received full possession of it has outright said to me, "I can't figure out why it's stalling." Tanya said to me when she gave me the car that it had an oil leak, but that if I just put in a quart of oil every time the idiot light flickered, I would be fine. I actually put two into it every time, because I killed my last car by driving it without enough oil for too long. I still managed to get it so low that the transmission guy chastised me for it. 

I am hoping beyond hope that the problem of stalling is related directly to the fact that the car is leaking oil at a fast enough rate to have been keeping the engine below optimal running conditions but not so fast that it's been taking the gunk out of the sump with it. I'm five thousand miles past when my sticker says I should've changed it, mostly because I figured if I was leaking oil as fast as the idiot light indicated, I couldn't possibly have a build-up of crap in the oil pan. I've known plenty of cars that operated on that very principle.

Not that I'm hoping I've been driving without enough oil, mind you. As I said above, that's why the Escort—the car Kelly's now driving until she gets her Firebird fixed—rattles like a cocaine baby with a plastic hammer and teething problems. I just hope that by fixing this leak, somehow miraculously the other problems I'm having with the car will go away until I can make it to and from Michigan for Jessie's brother's wedding reception and the start of my job. After that, I can start looking for a vehicle more suited to my style of driving. That is, something I can beat into the ground through neglect and that will love me for doing it.

I hate cars. I think they know that, and they fear me for it.


I am officially again a member of the rank-and-file. I have, for the time being, escaped the crack into which I had fallen three months prior. Starting next Wednesday, I will be working with a friend of mine at HMS Online in their fulfillment department, writing scripts and generating data files. After just over four months, I'll be back to work.

I don't think I ever really appreciated how much I enjoyed working until I wasn't. It seems strange to me even now to say it, but it's true. Lacking a job was an incredibly stressful situation. If I had been independently wealthy, maybe I would've enjoyed it, but I wasn't and I'm still not and I won't be for quite some time, though I am putting into motion a plan to fix that. It should only take me fifteen years. At least it's not get-rich-quick.

The job actually sounds like the sort of thing I could really get into doing. It's not high-scale project development, but in a sense I'll be in direct and total control of every project that comes across my desk, and I'll be responsible for the resultant work that goes out to clients. It feels a little like being back at Intervoice, when I would get projects and be the sole developer on them from beginning to end. They weren't this large-scale, but it's the same basic idea.

Mostly, I'm just glad to have a regular income again. Sucking on the  government tit is not only embarrassing, it's demoralizing. I know at any point I could've gone and gotten a day-job at McSlavey's or ReichBurger or GreedMart or whatever, but I think if I had I would've taken a massive hit to my self-esteem, an even larger one than I had when I lost my job. It really did hit me pretty hard, a fact I struggled not to let affect me greatly, but it was hard.

In fact, the only thing about this job that I have to say I don't  like from the outset is the fact that I'm taking what amounts to over a twenty percent paycut from my last job. However, considering it's a twenty percent increase over my unemployment benefits which end in two months, I'm not going to complain too loudly. Plus, they've already said that in six months I'm up for a performance-based salary review, and that if they keep me at that time I should be seeing a substantial pay increase. It still won't be what I was getting before, but it's a lot better than nothing.

Plus, the work itself promises to be fun. Having seen the stress through which my coworker-to-be has had with the position, "fun" doesn't seem like the most appropriate word. However, now we'll both be working with someone we know, which is always a plus. The workload will be divided between us, which will be good for him. This sounds at least on the surface like the kind of work I'm bound to enjoy, which is a definite plus. To top it all, I've met some of the other coworkers at the company, and they all seem like good people and apparently I made a good impression on them. 

I can't wait to start.

Sadly, no good deed ever goes unpunished, and to make up for my happiness in getting a job, the newish car that Tanya secured for me has decided to return to its state of unhappiness at existence in general. Shortly after I got it, it died at one point and refused to start. I had it towed to the mechanic's and he fixed it. After that, it started but every so often it would stall and refuse to start for ten minutes afterwards. I drove it to the mechanic's that time, and they again fixed it. About a week after that, it started stalling on me again, but every time it stalled I was able to start it immediately without issue, so even though I considered this a great annoyance, I told myself I would get it fixed at such time as I had a job with which to pay for the repairs.

Today it stalled on me again as I was taking Jessie to work, and it again wouldn't start after it died. Further, when it did start after dying, it died again when I dropped it from park into drive. It did this four times getting it to Jessie's workplace. Then it stalled again getting it home.

This seems almost too cosmically coincidental for works. Nightshade, if you did anything recently to get rid of your 2x4, I think I know where it went. Damn thing won't leave me alone.

It's never died on a freeway, so I think I can trust the engine. However, at this point I don't think I can trust anything else on the car. I'm going to take it to my mechanic one last time and ask them to find everything on the
car that needs to be fixed and get an estimate for the repairs. I have another vehicle that I can borrow from a friend in the meantime, and hopefully either I'll find out that the repairs are within a reasonable margin, or I'll find
out they're not and can get another car as a replacement.

Maybe I can trade the Acclaim back to Tanya for the Lincoln she was going to give me in the first place. *grin*

Blog Archive