What am I learning?

The secret’s out: nine months later and I’m still unemployed. But it’s by choice, I swear!

I’m currently trying to find employment, though. The hard part is convincing an interviewer that I’ve been productive despite my absence at work.

You see, the mentality I’ve developed is that there’s more to life than sitting in an office. This mentality is not a new one; I’ve made the choice to try to remove myself from the rat race last June when I really hated my job. But that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting around playing games for eight months. Maybe just the first two or three.

Investments and Side Profits

The one thing I’ve probably given the most attention in the past year is investments. I spend quite a bit of time doing research on different types of investments, terms, mindsets. I read books and articles and watch videos. It’s pretty interesting what people have come up with to make themselves more money.

Opening a stock market account was one of the first steps: three months and -40% later, I decided to open up a few different investment accounts with different brokerages and firms where I wouldn’t be responsible for my own bankruptcy.

They are: Robinhood, Fundrise, Lending Club, Prosper, Kiva, and Betterment. I moved my Roth IRA to TD Ameritrade so I could keep better track of it.

I can talk or write more about any of these things if people want. Don’t invest in anything you haven’t researched.

You also may have noticed the ads in the blog. Sorry, but it’s an almost-guaranteed way of making pennies! There are a lot of them, though. I’ll see what I can do to fix it.

The long-term plan is to buy real estate.

Church

Teaching youth students music is both rewarding and fun. We’ve hit a point where we’ve plateaued and I’m trying to find ways of moving us along.

Leading / singing while playing keyboard is another new thing, too. There’s a lot more to it than I thought; it’ll probably be the same case with singing while playing guitar. Gotta get back into practicing that.

Emerald City Voices

In August I joined a chorus (I briefly wrote about in my last post) and it’s keeping me busy. We’re participating in our first competition next Saturday, and people in our group are optimistic that we can win regionals and make it to the finals.

I’m a little less sure: we’ve got lots of imperfections that we can’t seem to handle, and there’s always the competition politics that prevent a brand-new group from winning first place. Regardless, all of us have been working hard to make everything come together. Hope it goes well.

I’m also using this time with the chorus to learn how to arrange for SATB. I’ve done two or three full pieces, working on two more, and arranged snippets of things for fun. Trying to keep my wits sharp and all that. Of course, learning how to sing good is a benefit on its own.

Video Game Development

One way I’ve been keeping sharp with my development skills is by working on this game. It’s somewhere between chess and a tactics game like Fire Emblem, but with our own mechanics.

It’s coming along well, but so many things have been pulling me around that I’m not too sure when it’ll be completed. This will definitely stay near the top of my priorities list, though.

Dungeons and Dragons

DMing D&D takes so much freakin’ time, dude. It’s fun, though. Running Storm King’s Thunder with some high school friends and will be starting Curse of Strahd with some high-school-aged kids from church. Lots to read, lots to prepare. I hope to carry this hobby with me until I die.


Other things I’m learning are cooking and building charisma. Self-confidence takes you super far, and I get my self-confidence from knowing that I made a great steak the night before.

I didn’t think I had this much on my plate, but seeing it all written out has me reeling.

Why have I been gone?

A few reasons. It started with a trip to Korea that left me unable to update my QOTD on a daily basis, then an error with my browser and reCAPTCHA that kept me from logging in after I got back.

I switched browsers. Everything’s fine now.

The last two months have been far from uneventful. The Korea trip was full of a ridiculous amount of delicious food, but I actually lost weight from walking around so much. I saw PC Cafes, from cheap to luxurious, and got to see some of the Korean-war-era American-influenced history in the form of memorials and statues.

Korea’s a weird place. There’s no middle class, and the line between the rich and poor is vast. It’s definitely going through the growing pains of being a country that’s recently come across a huge amount of wealth and still doesn’t really know how to use it effectively.

In November, the church blew up. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Not much else happened.

December was full of gigs with ECV (eight, to be exact), that had us traveling all over Washington. It was a time of my own fulfillment, where I could brag that I learned 26 songs in three months and had 98% of the notes down. I tried to keep a lid on it, though. No sense in leaving a bad impression on your newest best friends.

All the while, I’ve been watching the stock market and investing into other places. My goal is to never enter the rat race again.

As cheap as a recap post is, I kinda need it in lieu of my missing QOTD months. The time away has been refreshing, no doubt, but I’ll be back next month with the regularly-scheduled post full of pessimism and introspection.

I hope you’re excited for it. I sure am!

Questo รจ tutto?

A lot has been on my mind lately, and I’ve had a hard time choosing just one thing to write about. Here’s one of many topics:

Is this it?

Have we worked so hard in our society to develop technology just to make junk? Did all these historical societies have to be destroyed so people can spend the better part of their days staring at luminescent rectangles in their hands?

There is no doubt in my mind that laypeople in history have wasted time doing nothing, but we’re in a place now where we don’t have to do that much laborious work in a single day. The time spent in between work and sleep: commuting, eating, and spending time with others… could be filled with just time staring at your phone.

The only social media platform I use is Facebook, and I’m thinking I’ll deactivate it soon. I’d rather be spending time learning about something interesting to me–which is something I use my phone to do a lot (I know a lot of random trivia now). Facebook, Instagram, whatever. They’re a waste of time. They’re the modern iteration of reality TV.

If you know me, you probably know that in certain areas of my life, I’m a perfectionist. Music is one of them. Grammar / punctuation is another. Mediocrity is another pet peeve of mine. If you choose a passion or career path, why not put 110% effort into it? Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.

dwarves

A person in a small town of 40 people can get married to his next-door neighbor and live happily ever after. Why can’t you?

Romance is often approached with the wrong mindset. As children, we watched fairy tale movies which convinced us that “one day my prince will come,” that there will one day be somebody to sweep us off our feet and be the light on our dark, dark world. We turn to social media and online dating to find the perfect person to squeeze into our lives, paralyzing ourselves with choice. But that’s just not how it works.

People are broken. The person you have a crush on is as broken–if not more broken–than you are. We’re indundated with media and friends that tell us that marriage is the greatest joy in life, and we rush into it, expecting that our significant other will be the perfect puzzle piece to fix our broken selves. But anybody who’s been in married will tell you that marriage rarely turns out that way, and that the journey is immensiely difficult.

Furthermore, if you’ve fallen in love with somebody before you’ve even begun dating, that means that you’ve likely fallen in love with the ideal image of that person and have become blind to his or her faults. Love is nurtured over long periods of time. It’s infatuation that comes and goes sporadically.

What’s my solution? Set one or two important critera and just go for it. If you wait for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect, then you will never be satisfied. It’s better to start working on strengthening your marriage when you’re young than trying to throw things together when you’re older and more stubborn.

Death by Suburbia

What is the American dream?

For most people in the world, it’s the ability to come to this country where they have freedom and rights; to escape from persecution: religious, political or otherwise. People have flocked here in droves over the past hundred years and have achieved success, at least in their view: 2 1/2 kids, white picket fence, perfectly trimmed lawn and a dog.

That was the old American dream. Those kids have grown up and that dog is dead. So I ask you: for those kids who were born in America, what is their American dream? Does it even exist anymore?

I’ve gone around and asked a few friends about what their goals in life are, or have been. Most of them have been the same: if the person is a student, it’s usually something about doing well in school, getting a good job and living a long, comfortable life. If the person I ask has been in the work force for a while, then the answer is usually something about providing enough opportunities for their children to live a better life than they did. Some have said that they want to enable their kids to choose a career that they both enjoy and can make a comfortable living doing (sometimes implying that they don’t enjoy their own careers).

It’s quite possible that I’d receive a different set of answers if I asked people who lived outside the PNW (or any first-world country, really), but I’m sure it wouldn’t vary that wildly.

That’s not the life I want.

I don’t want to live a life where I’m stuck in the corporate machine, where I go through school only to become a slave to someone else, where I can try to do my best to make it up the ranks to make more money and live a more comfortable lifestyle in luxury and wealth. If I have kids, I certainly don’t want them to be thrust into this corporate machine, either.

When I was in China, I attended a church camp for youth students. The theme of the camp was, “Dreamers,” where we asked ourselves, “what is God’s dream for us individually?” Even if you don’t believe in God, I think there’s a valuable perspective to gain here:

The trick to finding out what this dream is is to find something that falls under these three criteria:

  1. What am I good at?
  2. What do I enjoy doing?
  3. What does the world need?

Simply put, this is what we believe we’re made to do. If you don’t believe in creation, then you can believe it’s your destiny. Whether or not you embrace it is your choice.

If you can figure this out for yourself, you’re already way ahead of the curve. Most people never figure this out and end up just dying without realizing their dreams. Put enough thought into it and you might end up figuring it out.

I’m not entirely sure what my dream is yet, but I think I’ve got a pretty good idea.

Rotting away in a corporate office is not it.