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Brothers and sisters, it's been a hell of a few months.

My job at the university has sucked for over a year. The parts I enjoy -- website maintenance and editing -- mostly disappeared because of my other job duties. I'd been working social media, which I complain about a lot, because our Facebook followers are absolute douchebags. But I don't think I'm at all bad at social media. It's mostly customer service, and I'm good at customer service. And sometimes you get to do something creative and fun, and those parts are pretty good, too. Altogether -- site maintenance, editing, social media -- that was the equivalent of about 40 hours of work a week.

The problem came when they assigned me to do news writing. I'm actually very bad at news writing -- I disliked it when I was an actual reporter, because I hate interviewing people, I hate transcribing interviews, and my news writing is, at best, not all that great. I was deliriously happy when I got out of the news business, and I definitely didn't enjoy getting dragged back in. I'd understood that news writing was going to be a minor part of my job duties. I was assigned a low-impact college to cover as my beat -- the faculty weren't demanding, and they didn't have a whole lot of newsworthy stuff happening most of the time.

Unfortunately, my boss decided she wanted me writing lots of news articles, so I had to do at least one story a week. Not that hard? Maybe, but it meant I had to spend over half my week tracking down someone to interview, conducting the interviews, transcribing the interviews and finally writing the news release -- and I didn't have much time for the rest of my duties. And god help you if one of your sources went on vacation before you were done writing -- that meant my article had to go on hold 'til he got back, and I had to scramble to find another article I could complete before the end of the week. This meant I often wasn't able to finish a story every week -- and explaining that my source was in the Andes 'til next month with no access to email just got me lectured about needing to make better plans. 

They were vocal that they didn't like me not producing all the stories they wanted me to, and I was vocal that I didn't like having to spend most of my week on stuff I hated doing and wasn't good at. 

So at the end of May, I got a piss-poor evaluation, solely because of the low quality of my news writing, and I was well and truly just about done with the place. Just a couple years ago, I'd gotten merit raises and everyone loved what I was doing and I was very happy with my job -- and now everything had gone to shit. But even then, I had been trying to improve -- I'd interviewed multiple different people and had set up even more interviews in the next few weeks. I had two stories half-finished, just waiting on completion of interviews the next week, and another with completed interviews, transcriptions, and adorable photos of dogs, that just needed to be written, and which was very likely to attract positive attention from more than one news outlet. 

On the last Thursday of May, I learned that our division was about to go through a re-organization. I was being moved into a new department devoted solely to social media. I wasn't the manager -- I'd told them multiple times that I didn't think I had what it took to be a good manager -- but I was, for now, the only staff member. I'd be doing all the duties I'd been doing before, but now there was genuine hope for the future. I'd be getting out from under the thumb of my increasingly more demented and less competent boss. She and her supervisor both told me this was a great opportunity, asked me if I was excited about the change, and talked about my future with the division. And at our afternoon all-staff meeting where everyone in the division was told about the re-organization, I was singled out by the Vice President leading our division, praised for taking on all the extra duties, and thanked for my hard work. 

On Friday, the very next day, everyone was excited for me. I heard from managers in other parts of the division who told me they'd actually campaigned to get me working in their department. I felt like there was a damn good chance that things were going to improve a lot. I felt appreciated and optimistic about where my job was going. 

And on Friday afternoon, just a day after I'd been told about the re-organization, my boss called me in, told me my evaluation was too poor to keep me on staff, and fired me. So my boss and her supervisor -- and maybe the VP and others -- had blatantly lied to me, possibly because they're spectacularly incompetent, possibly just so they could enjoy giving me hope and then knocking it all back down. And they'd timed it so I'd lose my health insurance within days. 

So the last few months have been devoted to job-hunting, getting health insurance, cleaning, packing, selling the house, and preparing to move in with my folks on the other end of the state. All of these have been pretty tough. There aren't that many jobs out there, and any job openings in the DFW Metroplex area are going to get dozens and dozens of applicants. On the bright side, I'd been hoping to move closer to my family. My closest relative is a five-hour drive away, and I'd like it to be easier to visit all of them. Still, it's going to be a tight squeeze -- my parents have no real storage space in their home, so almost everything I own is going to go into a storage facility. The only stuff I'll have in their house will be my clothing, my computer, and a single bookcase of books -- maybe for years, since it may be nearly impossible for someone my age to ever get a job again. 

And on top of all of that, I've been working to say my farewells to Denton. It isn't a perfect city, and my job here was way less than ideal. But there's so very much about it that I'm going to miss terribly. I'll miss a number of very friendly merchants, I'll miss the amazingly gorgeous scenery, lush green trees, beautiful architecture. I'll even miss the music festivals -- and I nearly always hate the music festivals. 

Denton has two different comics shops, which is a rarity for a town this small. I'll dearly miss having access to weekly comics -- my parents' hometown is 2-4 hours away from the nearest comics shop, and even if we make regular trips to cities where I can get my comics fix, I don't think I'll feel free to indulge my hobby when I don't have a job. I can put comics on my wishlists for birthdays and Christmas, but those only come twice a year, and there will probably be lots of other things I'll want to get, too. 

And more than that, I'll miss Recycled Books, Records and CDs, which I consider one of the greatest used bookstores in the world. I visit this place almost every time I have a day off -- and I usually buy way more books there than I really need. When you love books, and you find a great big store devoted to books old, new, rare, and weird -- just thinking of leaving this store behind leaves me covered over with sorrow. 

But the house is sold, the books are packed, and the move-out date of Aug. 23rd is scheduled. We'll see what happens after that. Maybe a short period before getting a better job. Maybe a long period of doing volunteer work. Maybe a very long period of mopping floors in grocery stores at night. Only time will tell. 


In unrelated news -- I hate to say it, but I probably won't be posting any more episodes of the Metro City Chronicles here on E2. I've decided to work toward getting the entire series on the Kindle, and I'd like to devote plenty of time toward getting the stories rewritten and cleaned up. This will probably still take years to get done -- I've long intended to add a couple new characters to the series, but rather than having new superheroes moving into the city late in the series, I plan to fold Gossamer and the Shrike into the stories from the very beginning -- and this is taking quite a bit of time to accomplish. Nevertheless, I feel that it's better for me to rewrite the existing stories, get them published, and then get the all-new stories written, too. 

I'd hoped to have more time for those rewrites while I was unemployed, but I've ended up having to devote a lot of effort into job-hunting and house-selling. And sometimes, when you're feeling frustrated with online job applications, it's just a little more satisfying to go play a few rounds of Overwatch instead. With any luck, once the actual move is out of the way, I'll have a little extra time I can devote to doing the hard work of rewriting. 

This day log is not about bariatric surgery. I'm far enough out that my life is pretty much normal, save for the size and composition of my diet, and that's not that relevant.

I'm in Vermont, since I can finally travel outside the New York City area according to my surgeons. As a result, I'm doing all the chores and errands that have stacked up in the months I was stuck in NY. I visited some friends over the weekend, and managed to play with some of my guns with my friend Gun Nut and cassparadox. I undertook a gunrunning mission to move some guns to Vermont, now successful.

My car, whose air conditioning had been broken for two years, miraculously and nonchalantly provided frigid air when I half-heartedly poked the AC button. Er, win? The windshield has a massive crack in it, and my inspection expires at the end of this month, so I came prepared to investigate repairing that, but not being in one place for more than two days meant I'd probably have to wait until I got back to the NY area, where it's much less convenient, and maybe miss the end of August. But, no, the glass place here in town says they can get my windshield and be ready to swap it out at 8am tomorrow, which leaves me a ton of time to make it to Boston on schedule. I might even be able to get the car inspected, because the other problem (I put a stick through a tire) won't prevent inspection since I have a full-size spare on.

Sitting at the kitchen table this morning, I unboxed four brand new Mec-Gar magazines for my Browning Hi-Power and stuffed some Federal American Eagle 115gr FMJ 9x19mm into them. They're new and stiff, so for 2 13 rounders and 2 15 rounders, I got 12/13, 13/13, 14/15, 15/15 rounds in. I'm OK with that.

Today I have to go see if I can get a title and registration for my (not present) Triumph so I can drive it back from Boston, where it's been after being repaired of last year's damages from my dad's housebreaker. Fucker. This means dealing with the DMV with no fallback visit, so I'm placing the odds at 40% I succeed. We'll see. Since the car is > 25 yrs old, they might be more laid back for the 'antique'.

Update: Defeated by the DMV. Vermont claims that unless I can produce 3+ yrs of proof of prior registration, they will charge me sales tax on my car. Well, I've owned this car since 1993, but the last 2 yrs it was registered in NY State, and prior to that, in MA. The thing is that NY state took my MA title and informed me that due to the age of the car my registration document served as a title. So I don't have the MA title anymore. I have the last (only) 2-yr NY state registration document. But I don't have any of the MA ones.

Five or six years ago, this car was officially worth around $2500, which would make the tax under $200. No problem. Now, though? Somehow NADA thinks my car is suddenly worth $10500, so the tax is around $800 all told. Uh. No.

Fuck. No idea what to do now. Also really annoying because the nearest DMV office is north of here, which means it's 173 miles from MA, or approximately 375 miles from home. The ones between here and the southern border are 'mobile' locations, i.e. only open one day a week or two.

GNAAAAAAGH.

Update update: On the way back from the unsuccessful RMV trip, something under my car near the front right wheel went "THMPwipwipwipwipwipwipwipwip" and flew off into the slip stream. Immediately, my 'outside temp' display said '-40 degrees.' Which means none of my miraculously-resurrected AC climate control would work. On investigation, the ambient sensor assembly lives...er, I guess lived, under the airdam, just in front of the passenger side tire. Sigh.

Update update update: Well, the answer is clearly to have interesting problems. I managed to find someone inside the Massachusetts RMV via phone who said "Huh, that's a new one on me! Lessee here...huh, your records are still here, although they should have been purged in 2011...so sure, I can print up a copy of this screen showing you were registered from 1996 to 2010. Okay, got that...oh, I'll stamp it with the official stamp and highlight that line. Are you still at this New York address? Yes? Great, I'll drop it in the mail." No charge. Karma?

Update update update update: Also, one advantage of my car being 17 years old is that a replacement temp assembly seems to be $20 on Amazon. So unless I have to replace the body panel it was mounted to, which is possible, that should do me. :-D

Update x 5: I just got word my new gun has arrived at the FFL, and I may be able to pick it up tomorrow. CZ Dan Wesson CCO 1911. Will dribble about it here once I've played with it.

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