Monthly Archives: July 2008

Finding a renewed excitement

For the better part of the past year, I’ve sat at a desk designing sales literature on an LCD monitor. Despite being my first full-time job out of college, the the first few weeks’ excitement quickly wore off. Springing out of bed to prepare for the day soon became repeatedly hitting “snooze” to keep those few precious minutes of shut-eye. Coming into work ready for another new project soon became sauntering while despising another mind-numbing chore. In the span of only a few months, the bright-eye newbie became yet another jaded employee.

My desk, cluttered with piles of stray paper and empty coffee cups, had the joie de vivre of an abandoned warehouse. Its biggest drawback was its positioning: I could see the single window in our office but not what was happening outside it. Only a co-worker’s remarks would alert me of the blizzard or monsoon occurring on the other side of the building’s wall. From my desk, I had literally no contact with the outside world.

In the past seven months, I’ve gone from conforming to societal expectations (“We’ll grind it out at this job for a year or two for the experience.”) to following my interests and talents (“I would much rather be skiing and designing newspapers.”) to doing things for the sake of tickling my fancy (“Move to another country? Sure, why not?”).

I have less than a week at my job before embarking on a life of travel. In August, I’ll be moving to South Korea to teach English. I’ll relinquish all things familiar for constant unknowns. New obstacles will make the journey from point A to point B trickier, but those challenges intrigue me and can only add to the experience.

In this new stage of my life, I’ll see sights most other people will have only seen in photographs or read in books. I’ll meet people most others will never know existed. I’ll take in sensations most others’ senses can only imagine. The ultimate prize for me, though, will be the mental transformation (if not growth) that brought me here. Even if I never find point B, it’s good to know I am in enough control of myself and my life to leave point A on this adventurous, undefined path

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When a writer gets confused

In my dedication to becoming a better blogger, I’m constantly thinking about things to write and how to convey it. In essence, I often find myself thinking in terms of blog posts, but sometimes I have too many thoughts, and I get confused. A lot. Even my (writing) voices get mixed up.

I currently have two drafts for posts I haven’t finished because my mind keeps wandering. I had a specific goal in mind when I started them, but as wrote, the subject matter steadily drifted away from my original target. In my head, a simple observation turned into a political discourse; a memory, into a pseudo-psychoanalytical self-analysis, and so forth.

I think I’ve become enthralled by the prospect of continuous writing (a good thing), and my brain wants to spew out any and every thought. Work is extremely slow, so I have too much idle time to think. (The lack of motivation after putting in my two weeks’ notice doesn’t help, either.) Without the urgency of writing quickly so I can finish other projects, I also over-think the writing itself. As a result, the writing process tends to be slow and clunky.

I also spend much of the time perusing the Internet — especially the blogosphere. The constant influx of news, information and opinions combined with a wandering mind results in convoluted thoughts and consequently convoluted writing. My head is starting to hurt. Seriously.

Does this happen to anyone else? How do you organize your thoughts and ideas in times like this?

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Twitter with ease

In my attempt to become uber-connected to the Internet, I joined Twitter to see what all the fuss was about. It hasn’t become quite as useful or as informative as I had imagined, but after a couple weeks of use, I can see its potential. With the constant information deluge on Twitter, I needed to find a more efficient way to keep up with the Tweets rather than logging onto the Web site.

With a Twitter client, I can have the tweets fed to me as I do other things on my computer. Like an inbox, I can quickly scan the tweet and resume whatever I was doing. Also, these clients give me a much quicker way to update my own profile. The “micro-blogging” aspect of Twitter lends itself to spur-of-the-moment thoughts, so more ubiquitous interface means I’ll be less likely to lose my thought process while logging onto the site. There are more than 80 ways to tweet, but here I’ll quickly review the ways I access Twitter.

Twitterfox:

Twitterfox is an extension for Firefox that puts your tweets in the same window as your browser in case you like having everything in one place. This is my main interface at work mainly because I can’t install any applications on my computer. Each time tweets come in, a notifier window with an excerpt pops up temporarily, after which you can click on the Twitter logo in the corner of your browser to read the tweets. Twitterfox also has an @reply button on each tweet, making dialogue easier.

Twhirl:

Twhirl — along with being a difficult word to type — is the desktop client I use on my MacBook at home and serves as the main portal to my Twitter account. Inside the customizable window, I can easily toggle between all the tweets, my direct messages and my archive as well as search for tweets related to any topic using Tweet Scan. You can find more Twitter functions when you roll over the avatars in Twhirl, such as direct messages and @replies. Each time a tweet comes in, Twhirl plays a chime and a pop up appears to notify you. I also like having an application outside of Firefox so that I can Command+Tab to the application instead of having to click to open and close the box in Twitterfox.

Twitterbar:

Twitterbar, another Firefox add-on is the simplest Twitter application I use. It only serves as a way to update Twitter, not read it. To do so, type your tweet into the address bar of your Firefox browser and click on the little button on the right. Simply hovering over it will let you know how many characters you have left to use. I don’t use this application very often, but it’s nice to have when you want to tweet quickly. Type and click — it doesn’t get much simpler than that.

You can also update your Twitter profile via text messages. I’ve tried a handful of other desktop clients, such as Twitterpod, Twitterific and Tweetr, but I didn’t like them as much. How do you Twitter?

Sidenote: In this age of turning nouns into verbs (e.g. “to Google something”), when someone updates his Twitter profile, does he Twitter or does he tweet?

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Making an exit

Tomorrow’s the big day: I will be quitting my first full-time job. I have my resignation letter written; I just need to print, sign and seal it. I feel fairly confident that it’ll be an easy conversation. I’ve obviously already moved on professionally and mentally, so that will help assure my stance tomorrow.

Quitting comes with mixed emotions. The most apparent is the feeling of liberation, knowing that I’m in control of my life. There aren’t going to be any fireworks, but I will be loudly cheering on the inside as I set the envelope on my supervisor’s desk. The other feeling is insignificance that comes with the realization that we’re all replaceable. As soon as I quit, they’re going to miss me only until the next graphic designer is hired, and that search starts pretty much immediately. I’m over that, though.

After tomorrow, I will only have two weeks left of work, most of it will be spent wrapping up or preparing projects for the next person. I checked out of this job mentally and emotionally months ago, and only two weeks separates me from fully committing myself to the next step of my life: Korea.

Once I put in my two weeks’ notice, I’m virtually a lame duck. They can’t assign me any more long-term projects, so here are some thoughts on how I might spend the last 10 days at my desk:

  • using the label maker to name each part of the computer
  • reading blogs on how it feels to quit
  • memorizing the Korean national anthem
  • adding “was here” to my nameplate — using aforementioned label maker
  • hand-slicing unnecessary paper (via X-acto, of course) into confetti I can throw on the way out
  • playing “Hallelujah” on repeat for the last hour of the last day

Any other ideas? I’m starting to feel a bit of jittery excitement.

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Looking beyond the desk

Everything on my desk — save for the collages, photos and toys I brought to decorate my desk and keep me human — annoys me. I sit in front of a two-piece, L-shaped desk cluttered with remnants of projects that hardly tickle my fancy: price sheets, printouts, books and various data CDs. Phone lists, sticky notes and holiday notices adorn the edges of my LCD monitor as the Mac Pro tower looms to its right.

I’m ready to flip this desk — and all its contents — over and onto the the floor. I’m ready for something new, something different, something challenging. I’m ready to put in my two weeks’ notice and move.

I know this journey into South Korea isn’t always going to be a cakewalk. I know there are going to be days I’ll be stuck at my school, behind a desk with nothing to do for hours. I’m sure the novelty of saying I live in Korea will wear off within the first couple months, but the fact that will make it all better will be knowing I’m more than 6,000 miles away from everything to which I’ve grown accustomed and pushing myself to do what I want.

The other night, I was talking with my mom about the details of my departure (and all the other nitty-gritty details about which moms tend to worry) when the conversation detoured into the future. I told her I had no real idea what was next on my life’s docket after my year-long contract expires in Korea, but those concerns come after things such as making sure I can find my Korean apartment at the end of each day. In the end, she told me to make sure I wasn’t gone for too long and that I’d come home every now and again — which shouldn’t be a problem based on past experience. I’ll always need some time refresh and collect myself.

In the meantime, I’ll find out in the next year whether dinking around the world really suits me. In the end, it might not, but right now it’s fun to dream, and I’m welcome to change.

Change that comes in 30 days.

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Tired and incomplete thoughts

I’m a bit sore, a tad burnt, and a lot tired. I just got back from a sun-drenched frisbee tournament in Bloomington, Indiana. I played with my former college Ultimate frisbee team. It was great to see how much these guys have grown as frisbee players — and as a team — since I was there literally the first day they played college Ultimate. Spending several days a week practicing together and entire weeks playing together creates a bond and mutual respect that I’m not looking forward to leaving behind.

One thing I’m almost eager to leave behind is my job. I will be putting in my two weeks’ notice at the end of this week. I’m not quite sure how this is going to go, especially with my department currently shorthanded as my former supervisor just recently received a promotion into a different department. I don’t think it will be as dramatic as people always imagine it to be, but I’m sure I’ll have some sort of butterflies leading up to Friday.

I’ll figure it out as the week goes on, but right now, I’m too tired to think about it. All weekend though, I was thinking about blogging. I was thinking about what to write about and how to write about it. I had a little time each evening, but I spent it sleeping or hanging out with the team. All in all, the weekend was less eventful than I had hoped, but I like having the blogger’s mindset. It’s a good start. I don’t think I’m going to have to force myself as much as I thought. It should come pretty naturally.

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Where the hell is Matt?

I don’t think there’s any way to watch this video and not have a smile take over your face.

I couldn’t get enough. The concept is so simple, and everyone should be able to relate at some level. I find it inspiring. As uplifting as it was to see everyone come together simply to dance, I was fascinated by all the locales and everything that wasn’t shown. The video was of one man dancing with a countless number of people, but I could only imagine all the different cultures and ideas these people — and the environment around him — brought to Matt.

Some people might play it off as a silly video, but I feel like if I enjoyed it and thought about it that much, it might mean something more for me. It might mean that the prospect of becoming a vagabond for a while to soak in everything the world has to offer might be right for me.

At least for now and the short future — which is all that matters right now.

Only 36 more days.

[from Where The Hell Is Matt?]

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