Monday, May 30, 2011

No pressure or anything...

My family came over for lunch yesterday to see my new place and to make sure I hadn't already starved to death since I'm currently living on my leftover federal student loan money (which is depleting at an alarming rate).

I was unable to work on any blog material because I spent the entire morning doing some last minute cleaning, and the caramelized butternut squash I had been optimistically baking in the oven decided to make my life harder by adhering to the pan. I managed to finish (and fix) everything in time, however, and I enthusiastically welcomed in my family, consisting of my father, mother, and sister.

We talked over lunch about my apartment complex, my new hobbies, and my job search. I then began discussing my blog and how it will eventually help me reach literary success. I recently unveiled its existence on my Facebook profile, and I'm hoping the people who read it will enjoy its contents and refer it to their friends, thus increasing my exposure and garnering a widespread audience. <--- (Conspicuous subliminal messaging)

My mother had somewhat of a different perspective.

Mom: Are you making any money off this blog thing?

Me: Well...not yet, but hopefully soon...

Mom: How often do you work on it?

Me: Um...I'd say about seven hours a day ever since I started it last week...

Mom: So you're putting all your effort into some online diary instead of your job search?

Me: I'd rather it not be called a diary...

Mom: You need to find a job so you can get your own health insurance.

Me: Er...

Mom: You do realize you're still going to get kicked off our insurance when you turn 23, right?

Me: Yeah...about that...

The new health care law extending individuals' coverage under their parents' health insurance until 26 years old currently applies only to civilian health plans, not plans under the Department of it doesn't apply to military dependents under Tricare (i.e. me).

A letter from DoD had apparently arrived at my parents' house, basically containing my pink slip stating that I would be fired from my father's insurance plan once I turn 23 years old this August. My mother kindly informed me of this event.

My parents then took the opportunity to demand suggest that I come back home. Unlike the case with most families in America, it is common practice in my parents' homeland (the Philippines) for children to live with their parents well into their adulthood, until they marry and move out to live with their spouse. Or they can just never leave. There have been instances when spouses moved into the family home, numbering the household occupancy at an impressive 8-10+ members.

Not quite grasping that I have a very large personal bubble and don't share those same ideals since I grew up in the American culture, my parents have been relentless in their attempts to convince me to come back and live with them. Forever.

That could be why I decided when starting this blog that I would depict myself as a bird. It is an allusion to my leaving the nest (or my struggles to launch myself from the nest when both the recession and my parents are opposed to the prospect).

I lived in the dorms during my first two years of college, and then in apartments with friends, so according to my parents, that should suffice as my vacation from the familial nest and it is now time to return. While I am still adamant about trying to be an adult and make something of myself, it's true that I'm going to need to find some sort of health insurance once my deadline hits in three months.

I have hypothyroidism, a thyroid disease in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. It isn't life threatening if monitored and controlled with medication, but I'm going to need health insurance to continue my regular check ups and prescription meds.

If left untreated, hypothyroidism can cause and/or contribute to a number of complications, including heart disease, the development of a goiter, declining mental health (how ironic, for someone who wants to become a practitioner in the mental health field), and possibly myxedema (resulting in coma).

So basically, I will end up like this:

But pressure!

-J. S. Blancarte

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rookie learning the ropes

Besides brushing up on HTML and trying to figure out how to create a banner using my outdated freeware picture program, I've been thinking of a theme I should base my posts on so people will actually be inclined to read them. Unless Whiskey Tea Cafe (the story) becomes a hit in its own right, no one is going to give a flying f*** about this blog.

The problem is that my interests are so widely dispersed that I can't decide which one to focus on. Writing and short fiction are obviously the primary choices, but chronicling my aspired path to the New York Times bestselling list wouldn't be very fascinating reading material.

Journalism is the next choice, but there is a reason I decided to pursue a second bachelor's degree. Although I was a favorite of my journalism professors and my articles were regularly featured as class examples, I have to say that I was dreadfully bored with that type of writing. Journalism wasn't a bad experience at all, and my most distinguished interview was with Jordan Belfort, author of The Wolf of Wall Street, but I simply had no passion for writing in AP style and making the effort to contact people to request interviews.

I'm an introvert, you see, and a lot of my interviews lapsed into awkward silences, feeding my fear that I failed as a journalist and a human being for not knowing how to be socially competent around others.

Me: So, can you tell me any interesting facts about your newly opened organic foods store?

Store Manager: Yes, everything we sell is locally grown. We offer only the healthiest products in the panhandle area and we have bags of complimentary boiled peanuts for our customers to enjoy as they look around the store.

Me: That is certainly unique. How busy does it get on a typical weekday?

Store Manager: Well, it varies from day to day, but we've had the store packed with people several days a week.

Me: Although you just recently opened, how is business thus far?

Store Manager: Oh, it's been great. We don't really have any competition close by, so I think we'll be doing very well.

Me: I see.

*Cue awkward silence

Me (scrambling for the next question): Have restaurant staff members expressed interest in purchasing their ingredients here? (FAIL...should avoid close-ended questions because they cut off conversation.)

Store Manager: Why, yes. We've had many restaurants contact us for deals on bulk prices and all.

Me: Ah, okay.

*More awkward silence

Me (now flustered and not thinking): Are there any interesting facts about your store that you'd like to share?

Store Manager: You already asked that question.

Me: Oh, right...

And it just goes downhill from there. Once the interview is over and I can return to whatever office I'm interning at in shame, I end up writing a pretty damn good article and my supervisor doesn't suspect a thing about my rocky conversation.

So that's why I went back to undergraduate school; 1) to hide from the recession for another year, and 2) to exploit my remaining status as a dependent under my U.S. Army retired father and continue being a parasite to his health insurance plan (plus access to undergrad scholarships). Oh, and to pursue my interest in psychology since the interview aspect of journalism was chipping away at my self-esteem.

And that brings me back to the original topic. I could focus on psychology as a theme for this blog, but it's a very diverse field with numerous specialties that only go over the bare basics in undergraduate school. So while I may not focus on it, some posts may discuss the nature of human behavior (psychology's not all about the crazies, you know).

Well, I really should give this more thought. Also, my coffee is ready.

-J. S. Blancarte

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I should be out job hunting, and yet...

...Here I am instead.

Hello. I am a fresh-faced blogger with an impressive track record of failing to obtain full-time employment even though I graduated from college twice (once in 2009 with a BA in Journalism and again in 2011 with a BA in Psychology) and lassoed together a string of practicums, field studies, and internships. I know, I know...networking is the key to landing a job, especially these days.

Unfortunately, that really only registered with me this past April, when I was at the career services center at my university pestering the staff.

Me: I'm graduating (again) at the end of the month and would like to hear your opinion on how effective my network will be in helping me find a job.

Annoyed Lady: Uh...sure, but please keep it short...I'm very busy, you know...

Me: Okay, here is my list. *hands her a list of past supervisors from 2008 and 2009*

Annoyed Lady: *brow furrows* Is this it?

Me: I take it that's insufficient?

Annoyed Lady: There are only two people on here, from two and three years ago. Do you keep in contact with them?

Me: I'm fairly certain I sent them Christmas e-cards this past December.

Annoyed Lady: Would they even remember you?

Me: To be perfectly honest...probably not.

Annoyed Lady: ...

Needless to say, I was ordered told to schedule an appointment with another staff member at a later date. And to get back into contact with my supervisors.

It is now one month later. I have graduated and relocated an hour and a half away, working on my network and sending my resume out to HR offices that didn't immediately bite my head off as soon as I uttered the words "looking for employment" on the phone.

My friends from college haven't really been much help since they are all 2nd Lieutenants in the Air Force (my AFROTC days will be discussed in a future post) and are stingy about referring me for civilian positions because they're concerned about conflict of interests. Which is understandable. I think.

And so, with all this extra time on my hands, I decided to give blogging a try and figure out what I want to share with the world besides my works of fiction and pursuit for white collar glory. It is my dream to pursue a dual career as a novelist and a(n) [insert respectable profession here], but right now my prospects are leaning more toward permanent apartment (read: cave) dweller.

Also, regarding the title of this blog, I wanted to work on a side project. If there is one thing I have absolute faith in, it's my writing. I'm attempting to cultivate a reader base by offering samples of my work online, and for this blog I will be posting stages of a story idea I came up with while lamenting to my sister on the phone about the seemingly dismal future of my career.

I live in a tourist town in panhandle Florida, and amidst the generic ice cream parlors and souvenir shops, the opening of a tea cafe would be a most interesting event. I began to seriously consider the possibility, but no one on my Facebook friends list with a business degree was interested in partnering with me to make it happen. Jerks.

Fine, I'll just write a story about it instead!

I'm a big tea fan and somewhat of a health nut (i.e. I flee from fast food like it's the devil and I cook my own meals from white meat, fresh produce, and other quality products). Yes, somewhat of a health nut. I don't always eat organic, I consume alcoholic beverages every other weekend, and I love desserts.

...Moving on...

In any case, I wanted to leisurely work on a story about a tea cafe that specially offers Whiskey Tea (primarily because it's my favorite drink), and how its business fares during recession. I will probably be uploading the story itself onto a fiction website, but its planning phase will be discussed here.

Anyway, if you have reached this point without skipping any of my paragraphs, I applaud you on staying with me for this long-winded introductory post. And yes, I drew all the pictures myself using the Paint.NET program.

-J. S. Blancarte