Putting A Lid On Happiness

Excuse my language, but I’d like to give this state a big Fuck You! I just found out today that I’ll be laid off from my job and that my last day of work will be December 28th. The reason being that the state is cutting funding for the program in half, actually a little more than half, so over half of the employees in our program are getting laid off. This means that the remaining employees will have double the work and not be able to give the children the services that they really need. On top of that, chances are the program will get no funding at all next school year.

This pisses me off so much. It would be different if this program was a failure, but it’s not. It’s a huge success! We’re currently seeing over 400 students with anxiety, depression, or behavioral problems and nearly all of them have been success stories. And the kids love the program. It hurt to see the woman who developed the program have to give us this news today. She has a heart of gold and I know it must crush her to hear this news.

Meanwhile, while the children are suffering with trauma related disorders from Katrina and other serious psychiatric problems, the government of Louisiana is spending money on ridiculous things like cars for hundreds of state employees that don’t really need them. We give cars to over 330 state employees while other states give them to as little as 8 employees. Our program needs $800,000 to fund the program for the rest of the year. That’s nothing when it comes to government spending and I think that it’s sick that they’re not willing to spend that money to continue to better the lives of children who are in need of psychiatric services and can’t get them elsewhere. But the fact is they will not spend it and unless a miracle happens and someone gives the money to our program, that’s it. What is wrong with this state???

There is NOWHERE for people to go who need counseling. Nowhere! I know because I looked for a job for 5 months in mental health and couldn’t find one. Especially for children. This was the perfect job and I’m going to miss it so much. The kids were wonderful, my peers were wonderful, my licensure supervision was free and my supervisor was wonderful, and I was doing what I loved to do! I’m not going to be able to find this anywhere else in Louisiana because this was all that was left for these kids. And now this is being taken away. I can’t tell you how disgusted I am. Not even so much for myself. I’ll find another job…I’ll go do something, but what about the kids…


And The Craziness Just Continues…

If you ever need a self-esteem booster, just announce to everyone that you’ve finished writing a novel! Thanks everyone for your kind words. I hope that next year more people join NaNoWriMo. It really was a great experience. Grueling but great…

So, now that I’ve accomplished one task, I’m setting myself up for failure! How might I be doing that you ask? Well, I’m adding two more reading challenges to the already gigantic list of challenges already signed up for. But both of these were just too great to pass up. And like I said in a previous post, I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I won’t complete all of these challenges. But even if I don’t, it’ll knock quite a few books off of the TBR bookshelf which now literally can’t hold any more books! They’re piling up on the floor now. I’ll post pictures of the TBR bookshelf soon, it’s quite humorous that I still actually buy books when you see what I actually have sitting here unread. But back to the challenges.

The first challenge is Bellezza’s Japanese Reading Challenge. I am SO excited about this one. It’s an incredible idea for a challenge. I’ve always loved everything Asian. Food, books, movies, culture, religion…you name it I’m a fan…well for the most part, I’m sure there are a few things in Asia that I could do without. I have a particular love for Japan, so when I heard that Bellezza was hosting this challenge I was filled with glee. It starts tomorrow, November 30th and runs through January 30th and you have to read 3 books. That’s it! I’m reading four because I couldn’t limit it to 3 :p She’s putting together some cool origami prizes! You can sign up here. Here’s my list:

1. Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima (Megan’s favorite book, promised her I’d read this)
2. The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima
3. First Snow on Fuji by Yasunari Kawabata
4. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

The second challenge is equally as cool and focuses on another one of my favorite things…Graphic Novels! Dewey has put together a graphic novel challenge that runs through all of 2008 and the challenge is to read 6 graphic novels. My list is rather boring and focuses on a lot of Neil Gaiman mostly because that’s what’s on my TBR shelf and I’m trying not to buy too many books next year. But for those looking for something new, Nymeth has put together an incredible list on her page and she’s written some really great reviews recently on graphic novels. Alice in Sunderland sounded really cool and I may end up adding that one anyway. Carl also blogged about one called Mouse Guard that I saw at B&N the other day and I may end up picking that up too :p But here’s my list for now. I’m signing up for 7 because I had 7 graphic novels on my shelf and I couldn’t leave one out ;):

1. Midnight Days by Neil Gaiman
2. Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman
3. Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman
4. Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman
5. Death: Time of Your Life by Neil Gaiman
6. Spiderman: Spirits of the Earth by Charles Vess
7. The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess

I Did It!!

I wrote a frickin’ book! I officially finished NaNoWriMo today and if you go to my profile, my word count will proudly display that I am a “winner” and that my final word count is 51,315 words. And that’s where it’s staying. I’m done! I thought that I might finish today but the bigger chance was that I would finish on Friday. But I started writing and the ending just took off. This is what I’ve been waiting for! I actually knew how I wanted to end the book, so I was excited about writing again.

It’s a relief to be done, but at the same time, I’m going to miss it. I don’t know what I’m going to do now when I’m bored at work :p Overall, I think I’m happy with my story, but it’s going to need some serious editing before it’s readable to anyone and I’m sure it’ll jump to about 75,000 words by the time I finish expanding it. But I’m leaving it alone for now. I don’t think I’m touching it again until next year…maybe in January sometime. I’ve had enough of that story for now!

Biggest surprise of the whole experience was today as I was writing one of the final scenes. I got real emotional with one part and I was not expecting that at all! It’s funny how characters that you create become so real and our minds play tricks on us. Here I am making up the story, it’s coming from my brain, but at the same time, I’m processing it like I’m reading this touching story that’s already written. Very weird.

But anyway, it’s done! One of my biggest goals in life has always been to write a novel. It was one of those things that I always thought I’d say but never do. Or I pictured myself writing in a park sometime after I retired, but never now. So it’s a great feeling to have accomplished that goal. And thanks everyone for your encouragement along the way and a special thank you to Deslily who stopped by my blog nearly every day after checking my progress to cheer me on.

Now I have to go find some real work to do….

New Books!

It seems that the new book gods stopped by my house today while I was at work not really working, but rather, writing my NaNo book which I’m less than 7,000 words from finishing! Ahem…work will resume tomorrow *cough*inbetweenwriting*cough* Now I promised that I’d try hard not to buy anymore books for myself this year and I’m sticking to that! I ordered these six books from bookcloseouts.com about 2 weeks ago and there just getting to me. So without further ado, here they are:

The God of Small Things: Both Kim and Nymeth read this one and gave it amazing reviews. I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about this one and it won the Booker Prize! I tend to like the Booker winners.

The Christmas Tree: This one was an impulse buy. It was only $1.99 on the website and it has some great illustrations. I was just looking for something Christmas-y to read.

A Study in Scarlett: Who hasn’t read this book aside from me! Everyone who read this one for the RIP Challenge seemed to love it so I had to add it to my list.

The Bat Poet: I just happened to stumble upon this one on the website and it’s such a cool book! It’s illustrated by Maurice Sendak who I absolutely love. I feel like I can already recommend this one to everyone before I even read it.

The Book of Flying: Who recommended this to me? Someone did awhile back when I did one of those “what’s your favorite book” posts…or it might have been “biggest surprise favorite book” I don’t know, but this book looks so cool and I love the cover. And I know it’s on somebody’s favorites list!

The Kitchen Boy: This one comes recommended by Eva. She read it during the 24 hour reading challenge and really enjoyed it and I enjoyed her review of it 🙂 So I’m hoping to enjoy the book in return! That’s alot of joy!

Aside from reading and not working when I should be, I put up the Christmas lights tonight and I must say that they look nice! I couldn’t help but laugh when I thought that since Katrina we’ve decorated a different house every year for Christmas. Actually, for the first Christmas, it was two. First I decorated my condo in Baton Rouge and then when I moved back to Metairie (my hometown, a suburb of New Orleans) we decorated our trailer…the inside at least. Last Christmas we were living in a duplex that we were renting, so we decorated our half of that, and now this Christmas we’re renting a house! So at least we’re movin on up! Hopefully by next year FEMA will get their act together and allow my mom to finally rebuild her house so that she can have a real Christmas in her own home again!

Christmas Time Is Here

At least in my neck of the woods it seems to be. Did anyone else start their Christmas shopping yet? I just happened to get my paycheck on the day after Thanksgiving and have now spent half of that paycheck already on gifts! But I’m almost done my shopping now! How cool is that…The only bad thing about being almost done already is that I know I’ll keep buying until Christmas comes around. I love giving gifts, I always have. It’s one of my favorite things about Christmas. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of picking something special out for someone and sending it along to them.

The stores were a little crowded today and yesterday, but not near as bad as I thought. I waited in line for 40 minutes at Circuit City yesterday which was miserable, but that was the only bad line. I would’ve just left but they had Madden ’08 for real cheap and my little brother wanted it for Christmas and I found someone else’s gift there too, so I had to wait it out. Aside from that though, I really didn’t wait in any lines. So now I’m completely finished shopping for Megan, my mom, my dad, my little brother, AND I’m already finished shopping for my secret santa for Nymeth’s Blogger Christmas Exchange 🙂

Aside from Christmas shopping, life has been good. This little Thanksgiving break has been nice, though I’ve slacked on my book. Not too bad though. I’m 2000 words behind right now. I’m at about 38,000 words and should be at 40,000. I could catch up tonight, but honestly I’m just not feeling motivated enough to write. Instead, I’ll continue to fry my brain with the South Park Christmas DVD that I bought at Target today 😉 Me and my little brother have spent all night watching that and playing Kirby’s Air Ride on the Gamecube….all while stuffing our faces with Krispy Kremes. No complaints here!

Varjak Paw by S.F. Said

I picked up Varjak Paw mainly because it’s fully illustrated by Dave McKean. The illustrations are wonderful and there are PLENTY of them throughout the book. But I ended up not only enjoying the illustrations but enjoying the story as well.

Varjak Paw is a house cat, a Mesopotamian Blue. He lives with his mother and father and brothers and sisters and is by far the least popular of the family. Varjak has always loved hearing stories of the great Jalal, the “ancient one”, the first Mesopotamian Blue to come to America from what I gathered. His tales include stories of the outside world. Varjak and his family have never seen the outside world. They’ve never seen anything but the Contessa’s house that they live in and the backyard. Now, however, a new man has come into the house after the Contessa has disappeared and with him are two mysterious black cats that are up to no good. In order to get rid of them, someone is going to have to go to the outside world and find something called a “dog” that should scare the cats away. Varjak decides that he will take on this task.

We follow Varjak on his adventures as he first leaves his sheltered life and enters the outside world where he meets street cats and encounters the big city. He learns the ways of Jalal, the elder through dream sequences that add a very nice eastern philosophy touch to the book.

Overall, this was quite an enjoyable book and I’d recommend it to readers young and old. I have a couple of people that I think I’m going to buy this one for as a Christmas gift mainly for the Dave McKean illustrations which are really great! There’s a second book out in the Varjak Paw series as well. If you’re looking for another great review of this book, check out Nymeth’s!

Giving Thanks

Occasionally I have my moments of clarity. They don’t come often, but when they do, I enjoy them. The world can be such and overwhelming and hectic place sometimes. There are deadlines to meet, places to be, people to please, schedules to make. I was at work today having one of those days. I had my first staffing with the psychiatrist. For those not in the mental health field, this is basically where we, the counselors, present our treatment plans for our clients and the psychiatrist signs off on them as long as she approves. It all went fine, but the process was very hectic to get everything done in time so that I could enjoy my Thanksgiving break.

After staffing, everyone started talking about their plans for Thanksgiving and I started noticing a common theme: Stress! Everyone was stressed out…I have to cook, I have to clean, people are coming over that I can’t stand, I have to go somewhere I don’t want to be, I hate holidays. Then I started thinking…boy have we lost the point of these holidays. It’s become a chore, an obligation, a yearly habitual process that you have to participate in for some people. I know it’s not this way for everyone. For our family, we enjoy having our get togethers for holidays. It’s nice to sit down and eat together and catch up on one another’s lives, but honestly, even for me, Thanksgiving has become just another reason to eat and see family.

So, onto my moment of clarity. My moment of clarity was really as simple as breaking down the word into two separate words and seeing the obvious, it’s a day for “giving thanks”. We’re raised always knowing that Thanksgiving is a day for giving thanks, but I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to sit and really think about what I’m thankful for. Truth be told, I’m thankful for so much! My list could go on forever. It was rather refreshing to think on this. I’m so used to complaining about what’s wrong that it was nice to think about how grateful I am for having such a wonderful family to spend these holidays with, for having 2 paid days of vacation for the first time in my life, for being happy with my job, for writing a book, for having the most amazing girlfriend that a guy could ever ask for, for having a roof over my head, for having the greatest blogger friends in the world, for having good health (for the most part)…

The list could go on and on. There are so many things to be thankful for if you just step aside and take a good look. I hope that each and every one of you enjoy your Thanksgiving Day and cherish the things that you have to be thankful for. Happy Turkey Day!