420. The Year of the (Typewriter) Monkey

TMTF will be taking a two-week break, during which it will republish old posts on its usual schedule. The blog shall return with new content on February 22!

This Monday begins the Year of the Monkey: the ninth of the twelve-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.

I was only vaguely aware of this event, but my typewriter monkeys—my dozen or so assistants who keep this blog up and running—brought it to my attention by going on strike. (After setting things on fire, going on strike is my monkeys’ favorite hobby.) This time, for the Year of the Monkey, they wanted to spend the entire year on vacation.

That ain’t happening.

TMTF clean (paper)

My typewriter monkeys are the worst.

I mean, it’s not like I overwork my monkeys. If anything, need a vacation while they run the blog. (Of course, that ain’t happening either, since giving them free rein on the Internet would probably break it.) At last, after several hours of heated* argument, we reached an agreement.

* I mean this literally; my monkeys set fire to my desk during negotiations.

As the Year of the Monkey begins, this blog will take a two-week break, returning with new content on February 22. As usual, TMTF will rerun old posts during the break, because that is how we roll. When the blog returns, I will have one or two big announcements to make about its future. Things shall change this year, but I’ll explain further after the break.

In the meantime, may I suggest a more immediate change? The Year of the Monkey has greatly exaggerated my typewriter monkeys’ sense of self-importance. Can we please make this the Year of Some Other Animal?

Can we replace the Year of the Monkey with, say, the Year of the Llama? Please?

Thanks for reading. We’ll be back!

412. Christmas Fallout

Another Christmas has come and gone, leaving behind a mess of crumpled wrapping paper, empty boxes, and those tiny strips of green plastic from artificial Christmas trees. (Those fake evergreen needles are a pain, man.) Here on TMTF, I have post-Christmas problems of my own.

Santa camAs much as my typewriter monkeys deserved coal for Christmas, they received fire extinguishers instead. My monkeys are notorious pyromaniacs, and fire extinguishers are usually less flammable than coal. However, I didn’t foresee the potential dangers of giving my monkeys cans of pressurized chemicals. Ah, well. Live and learn.

(After reading TMTF’s Christmas poem last month, my dad drew the picture above: a screenshot from one of Santa Claus’s many hidden cams. Saint Nick apparently puts the NSA to shame with his surveillance systems. “He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake,” indeed.)

Yes, Christmas is done. A new year has begun, and I’m thankful for another nine or ten months before I even have to start thinking about the holidays. The older I get, the busier I become during the Christmas season. I say this not as a complaint, but as a statement of fact. The holidays are a busy time of year, and they end so abruptly.

After months of holiday music, planning, shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, baked goods, baked bads (I’m looking at you, fruitcake), church programs, television specials, and peppermint-flavored everything—Christmas simply ends.

Granted, New Year’s celebrations do provide some sort of epilogue to the holiday season. It’s as though we all share an unspoken understanding: “Well, Christmas is over. We might as well just end the year and be done with it.”

At last, the holidays are over… for another week, at least. The stores will soon start running ads and selling stuff for St. Valentine’s Day. “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

407. Christmas Poem

’Twas the night before Christmas, and there in a heap

Lay my typewriter monkeys, unkempt and asleep.

At long last, thank the Lord, they had started to snooze.

They lay chattering faintly and smelling of booze.

And so I, much relieved, at my desk sat to write

On that bright, peaceful, glorious, holy, cold night.

When the silence was broken—a sharp, noisy tap!

On the door some odd stranger had started to rap.

I expected that raven, but there stood a man

With a snappy red sport coat, a neat beard, a tan,

And a trim, slim physique! His thin figure was slick,

But was this dapper fellow the ancient Saint Nick?

“Santa Claus? But you can’t be,” I wondered aloud.

“I am trying to fit with today’s younger crowd,”

Said the man. “Would you tell me now, if you will, please,

If it’s you who look after twelve naughty monkeys.”

“I’m the one,” I admitted. “I’m sorry,” said he.

“They have earned tons of coal. I won’t bring it, you see,

For they start many fires, and black coal is a fuel!

Such a flammable gift would be foolish and cruel.”

“Then what did you bring them?” I inquired, quite depressed.

“I brought twelve fire extinguishers—seemed like the best

Of replacements for something as risky as coal.”

And with that, he set twelve presents down. “Bless my soul!”

He exclaimed. “And I almost forgot! Here for you,

A small box! My dear boy, there’s a gift for you, too.”

And with that, old Saint Nick snapped his fingers and rose.

No more reindeer for him, but a jet. “There he goes,”

I declared as the jet roared away in the night.

To my desk I went, then, and flipped on a soft light.

What nice gift in my box had the kindly elf hid?

A brand-new coffee cup, and a note: “Good luck, kid.”


Do you know what gift would be even better than a fire extinguisher? A donation to Operation Yuletide, of course! We’re raising money to help people this Christmas. There are even rewards and stuff! (As an added perk, Santa Claus* will put donors on his Nice list.) Check it out here!

*Santa Claus does not exist. Any and all claims involving Santa Claus are intended jokes, and thus legally nonbinding. Please do not sue me, my family, or my cat.

403. Hmm, I Seem to Have Acquired a Cat

PearlyCongratulations, geeky coffee-drinking blog-man! You are now the proud owner of a small, black-and-white female cat.

Really? Cool!

…Now what?

Please select a name for your cat.

Sure. Here goes:

Name selectPearl? Why Pearl?

Pearl is the name of an adorable character from Steven Universe, and of an even more adorable character from the Ace Attorney games. My Pearl is quite an adorable cat. The name stuck.

If I had acquired a male cat, by the way, I would have named him Godot, or possibly Solid Snake. I wanted to name this cat Sakura, which is Japanese for cherry blossom, but my younger brother disapproved, and we eventually settled on Pearl.

If you equip Pearl, your life will gain +10 Cuteness and +8 Playfulness, but at the cost of -14 Sanity and +6 Kitty Litter Spills. Do you equip Pearl?

Hmm, that’s a tough call. Nah, who am I kidding? Of course I’ll keep Pearly.

With that, I’m well on my way to becoming a crazy cat guy. Sure, I have just one cat, but it’s a slippery slope. Give me time. If I’m not careful, I’ll end up that guy with all those cats.

Book catWithin an hour or two of moving into my apartment, Pearls was lurking behind books on the shelf, batting at Christmas tree ornaments, and high-fiving my beckoning cat figurine’s waving paw. As I compose this blog post, the Pearl of great price is sprawled across my lap, breathing softly, and occasionally waking up enough to stretch.

Pearl also scratched one of my typewriter monkeys, and hisses at them any time they get too close. Yup, I think the Pearl-cat is going to fit right in.

Welcome to the family, Pearly!


Please take a moment to check out Operation Yuletide! We’re raising money to help people this Christmas! There are even rewards and stuff! Check it out here!

400. The Five Stages of Blogging, and Other TMTF Trivia

TMTF will be taking a three-week break, during which it shall republish old posts on its usual schedule. The blog shall return with new content on November 30!

Today we celebrate four hundred posts on TMTF with a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the Five Stages of Blogging.

These describe the creative process experienced by people who write blogs. (They are unrelated to the Kübler-Ross model and its five stages of grief.) Of course, some bloggers may experience more than five stages. Some may experience fewer. The stages may vary from person to person. After all, every blogger is unique!

In writing posts for this blog, I have experienced five distinct stages. The easiest posts took only one or two, whereas the most difficult ones demanded all five.

In this extra-long and extra-special blog post, we’ll take a quick look at the Five Stages of Blogging. (This post took me through all of them.) Then I’ll share a few bits of TMTF trivia before concluding with grateful acknowledgements and a couple of announcements.

Here we go!

Blogging Stage One: Optimism

Blogging Stage 1, OptimismI enjoy thinking of ideas for new blog posts. It’s the effortless part of blogging: the deceptively easy warm-up to sitting down and, y’know, actually writing something.

Blogging Stage Two: Annoyance

Blogging Stage 2, AnnoyanceAt some point, I struggle to translate the exciting ideas in my head to words on a computer screen. Ideas are elusive. They don’t like to be pinned down. Sometimes, when written down, ideas change and grow in alarming ways. This is sometimes an amazing thing to see—except that by “sometimes” I mean “roughly 0.086% of the time.” It’s usually just annoying.

Blogging Stage Three: Frustration

Blogging Stage 3, FrustrationAt some point, annoyance escalates to frustration. I scowl at my laptop, mutter under my breath, brew another pot of coffee, and wish I had chosen a better hobby than blogging. I could have been a cyclist or amateur voice actor, after all. TMTF was an awful idea. At any rate, whatever post I’m trying to write is clearly a stinker. I should really just give it up.

Blogging Stage Four: Depression

Blogging Stage 4, DepressionFrustration darkens to depression, anguish, and bitter regret.

“I just… I just wanted to have a blog, y’know? I didn’t ask for this. This is impossible. I’ve put so much time and stuff, y’know, into this post, this one flipping post, man, and it’s a mess. It’s such a mess.

“Even if I fix it, and I’m not sure I can, it’ll take hours. Hours wasted, man, for one flipping blog post. Then I’ll write another post, and another post, and another flipping post. It never ends. Nothing new under the sun. It’s like that poem, y’know, about the mariner and the albatross. ‘Day after day, day after day, we stuck, no breath nor motion, as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.’ I’m stuck, man. This blog is my albatross.”

Then I stare into my empty coffee cup, crying on the inside.

Blogging Stage Five: Talking to Plush Toys

Blogging Stage 5, Talking to Plush ToysI can’t afford counseling. Don’t judge me.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About TMTF (but Were Afraid to Ask)

Moving on, here are a few pieces of TMTF trivia in celebration of four hundred posts.

  • This blog was inspired by Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like. His blog used humor to say meaningful things about culture, religion, and side hugs. I wanted to do the same kind of thing as Acuff, but with less hugging and more coffee jokes. I also wanted to build an audience (or as the publishing biz calls it, a platform) for my novel. Although the novel bombed, TMTF has stuck around.
  • At first, I treated blogging the way I treated creative writing. I constantly fussed and tweaked and revised, going so far as to edit old posts long after their release. It took me time to realize that a blog isn’t really a work of art, but a journey. Blog posts are footsteps. They represent a writer’s changing experiences, moods, beliefs, and opinions. Instead of worrying about the past, a blogger should keep moving forward.
  • For every hundred posts on this blog—not counting Geeky Wednesdays and creative writing—I try to do something extra-special. The hundredth post coincided with the release of my ill-fated novel. For the two hundredth post, I collaborated with Kevin McCreary (video and podcast producer) on an EPIC RAP BATTLE. (I had never rapped before, and it was a learning experience.) The three hundredth post featured an original animation by Crowne Prince (self-described rogue animator and antagonist) in which I sought counseling from DRWolf (YouTube personality and literal wolf) for my blogging problems. (The good doctor was a much better counselor than any of my plush toys.) I had planned something more ambitious for today in celebration of four hundred posts, but as Robert Burns reminds us, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” (Translation: Stuff happens.)
Frolicking

I love collaborating with creative people!

  • The format of this blog has changed gradually over time. (I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive about it, actually.) In a recent experiment, I’ve put key points in bold type in an attempt to make this blog more accessible. The idea is to let readers skim through blog posts, reading only the bold text and getting abbreviated versions. I’m honestly not sure how well this is working, and I could really use some feedback. Does the bold text help? Is it annoying? Distracting? Let me know in the comments!
  • My jokes about typewriter monkeys, as well as the name Typewriter Monkey Task Force, began on September 10, 2010 in an email to my family. My monkeys quickly became a running joke. When I decided to start a blog, I settled on typewriter monkeys as a consistent motif. It’s nice to have someone to blame when things go wrong.
TMTF clean (paper)

My dad, God bless him, handles most of the original art for this blog—monkeys and all.

Grateful Acknowledgements and Obligatory Threats

Speaking of typewriter monkeys, I have a few words for my blogging assistants, who have just set fire to a corner of my desk. These words aren’t appropriate for this blog, however, so I’ll have to settle for threats: If you monkeys don’t start behaving and put out that fire right this instant, I will end your employment and donate you to the zoo. I mean it this time.

Besides my usual threats, I guess I owe my dirty dozen a reluctant thank-you. Here’s to you, Sophia, Socrates, Plato, Hera, Penelope, Aristotle, Apollo, Euripides, Icarus, Athena, Phoebe, and Aquila. Thanks for working on my blog. I love you guys. At any rate, I’m trying.

As always, I owe my readers many thanks for their support and encouragement. Thank you so much for reading, commenting, liking posts here or on Facebook, writing guest posts, taking part in Be Nice to Someone on the Internet Day, and generally being wonderful. I appreciate every one of you.

You are awesomeSpecial thanks to my parents for their support over the years. My dad deserves an extra round of thanks for all the kind emails and monkey pictures. Thank you, old man. Special thanks also to JK Riki for being the most thoughtful and supportive reader in the history of people who read things. Seriously, JK, thank you.

As always, as I write about Disney villains, chain mail bikinis, and other nonsense, soli Deo gloria—to God be glory.

What Next?

TMTF will be taking a three-week break, during which I will republish old posts on its usual schedule. The blog shall return with new content on November 30!

In other news, TMTF will sponsor a Christmas fundraiser this December for charity! I’m still working on the details, but it will be very similar to last year’s fundraiser, with donor rewards and whatnot. I’m open to suggestions for rewards and fundraising, so feel free to share ideas via Twitter or the Contact page. I’ll release more information about the Christmas fundraiser at the end of this month.

We’ll be back!

398. Five Tips for a Starting Blogger

Not long ago, I received a message from one of my readers. I suppose I’ll call him Socrates. He had recently started his own blog, and wanted to know if I could offer any advice.

I’m not an expert on blogging, but after four years of writing stuff and throwing it at the Internet, I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two.

I responded to Socrates with five tips for a starting blogger—well, to be perfectly honest, I responded with six. Here’s the last one: “Always be on the lookout for tips, tricks, ideas, hacks, and shortcuts.” As I wrote that final piece of advice, I thought, “You know, I could easily turn these tips into a blog post,” and here we are. I try to practice what I preach.

Here are five tips for people who are just starting their own blogs.

1. Figure out a publishing schedule that works for you, and stick to it.

When I started TMTF, I published three posts a week. That was too much. I eventually dialed it back to two posts a week, and later added the Geeky Wednesday feature as a quick and easy alternative to a third weekly post. It took me a while to figure out a publishing schedule for TMTF that I could actually keep.

If you decide to follow a strict publishing schedule, figure out one that you can keep, and then keep it. Readers appreciate consistency! If you publish whenever you feel like it—which is totally a valid way to run a blog, by the way—be transparent about your blog’s lack of a predictable schedule.

Either way, make sure your readers know what to expect, and make sure to deliver on whatever commitments you make.

2. Enjoy blogging for what it is, and don’t expect wild success or instant popularity.

I’ve been blogging for roughly four years, and TMTF still has quite a small audience. For a while, I felt discouraged because my blog hadn’t become as big or popular as others. This led me to ask myself some important questions: Why am I doing this? Is TMTF worth the effort I pour into it? Am I wasting my time?

In the end, of course, I decided my blog was worth keeping. TMTF is (usually) rewarding to write. It’s great writing practice. It has allowed me to keep in touch with old friends, and even to make new ones. This blog has also opened up some cool opportunities, including collaborations with all sorts of awesome people. At the very least, TMTF has given me a voice to share some of the things that matter to me.

TMTF hasn’t become popular or earned a big audience. From that perspective, my blog is a failure. However, from my perspective, my blog is a success.

If you’re serious about blogging, ask yourself why. Do you write your blog to develop your talents? To avoid boredom? To become popular? To share your passions? To meet people? Figure your purpose for your blog, and decide whether the time and effort of blogging are worth that purpose.

3. A community is worth so much more than a fandom, and people matter more than statistics.

When I started blogging, I hoped to earn fans. I’ve learned since that fans are overrated. A small community of people who really care is worth a huge following of half-interested fans. As nice as it is to see those blog stats rise, one nice comment or meaningful discussion means so much more.

4. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

I sometimes Like posts from other bloggers, and occasionally leave comments on other blogs. I’m not trying to manipulate anyone into returning the favor. I just know from long experience how encouraging those Likes and comments are to me, and want to pass on that encouragement to others. People appreciate a considerate reader, and it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers!

5. Reply to comments whenever possible.

When I started blogging, I made the colossal mistake of not responding to comments. I received so few that I had no good reason to ignore them, yet I ignored so many. At some point, I think certain readers assumed I didn’t care, and stopped commenting. I deeply regret not showing my appreciation for their comments by replying to them.

By responding to comments, a blogger shows that he cares about his readers. Not every single comment needs a reply, of course, but it’s often worth the few extra minutes it takes to write a response. Besides, that’s how discussions get started!

What’s your best blogging advice? Let us know in the comments!

396. My Family and Other Oddities

My family has been visiting for a little more than a week, which has been weird—the very best kind of weird. My parents live in Uruguay. My brother and his family moved to the Dominican Republic more than a year ago. It’s rare for my family all to be in the same hemisphere at the same time. At the moment, we’re all in roughly the same place. The wonders never cease.

During my family’s visit, I’ve been busy traveling, growing a patchy jaw-beard, making my dad watch Marvel’s Daredevil, and catching up with other things. With this and that, I’ve had hardly any time to work on this blog, so today’s post is just a few photos from the past week and my illuminating commentaries thereupon.

Enjoy.

Rest stop

My family and I spent a few days visiting various friends and relatives. With only one car—the trusty, rusty vehicle I’ve christened Eliezer—it was a challenge to coordinate our individual plans. Fortunately, we still had time to stroll through pretty, sunshiny places.

Tom's Donuts

For the third consecutive year, my my parents, younger brother, and I stopped at a doughnut shop by a lake. (Despite the lens flare, this photo was not taken by J.J. Abrams, I swear.) The shop’s founder, Tom, was there fixing something. My parents struck up a conversation with him, because chatting with random strangers is what they do.

Passed out

After the doughnut shop, I threw myself onto a park bench, clutching an empty coffee bottle and soaking in the sunshine like an iguana on a cold day. My mum sat demurely beside me. She is one of the most fabulous people in the universe.

Chillin'

I come from a family of coffee drinkers. At one point, my dad kept his coffee cool by chilling it in a river. It’s a shame the bottled stuff is so flipping expensive.

Water shadows

Sunshine, shadows, and cool water.

Churching

My older brother and his wife gave presentations on Sunday about their work in the DR. They manage a school for troubled teens, living on faith, donations, and coconuts. If you want to support their work, you can donate here—just look for Stuck Family: Lead Teacher and Family.

MANICHO

My parents brought back all sorts of goodies from Uruguay and Ecuador, including the best chocolate bar in the known universe. MANICHO IS LIFE.

The Paw

My dad usually hides behind the camera, but every now and then he and his ever-present leather jacket are caught on film. He is known to my family variously as Dad, the Paw, the Dude, the Dude-Paw, or Old Man. He receives these names as he receives everything else: with good humor.

Shaving

My older brother gave me a machete as an early Christmas gift. It’s great for shaving.

Communing

My family visited a zoo yesterday. (I would make a joke about my family belonging in a zoo, but they’re actually wonderful people.) I spent a few moments communing with this statue, and wondering whether the zoo would accept my typewriter monkeys as a donation.

My family will soon scatter like the autumn leaves. My parents will return to Uruguay in a few days, and my older brother will go back to the DR with his family. My younger brother and I will remain in Indiana, where we will do… whatever it is we do around here. I guess we mostly drink tea and argue about Steven Universe. (Greg is the best character; that’s all I’m saying.)

I thank God for my family. It has been nice to spend some time with them.

393. About Storytelling: Magic, Destiny, and Nanomachines

Here’s a question for you: What do fate, magic, nanomachines, and sonic screwdrivers have in common?

As I mentioned last time, I’ve been playing a video game called Metal Gear Solid 4. Its blend of military intrigue, science fiction, and social commentary is kinda bonkers, but the story’s strangest turns always have an explanation—or, to be more honest, an excuse. That excuse is nanomachines. These microscopic robots are injected into the bloodstream of many characters in the game, giving them superpowers (or super-weaknesses) that defy all other explanations.

How does a character in the game survive being shot in the head and stabbed through the abdomen? Nanomachines. How are entire armies instantly disarmed, disabled, and defeated? Nanomachines. How is a long-dead character revived in a stunning twist? That’s right—flipping nanomachinesEvery impossible twist in the story is explained by these hard-working little bots.

The answer is nanomachines.

The answer is nanomachines. It’s always nanomachines.

In the end, throughout the Metal Gear Solid series, nanomachines are generally the catch-all explanation for things that otherwise make no sense. The audience never learns exactly how they cause immortality, raise the dead, regulate firearms, or do any of the other crazy things they do. Nanomachines are a vague, easy solution to plot holes that can’t otherwise be filled.

Let’s not cast all the blame upon nanomachines, though. Consider how often, especially in fantasy stories, magic is used to explain away things that make no sense. Science fiction often uses technology in exactly the same way. As Arthur C. Clark reminds us, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Marvel’s Thor movie openly acknowledges this when its eponymous superhero tells an ordinary human, “Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science. I come from a land where they are one and the same.” Thor’s hammer makes no sense. Most of the stuff in Marvel’s movies makes no sense. The easiest solution is to claim that it’s incomprehensible technology and call it a day.

Witness the power of... um... technology?

Witness the power of… science?

Fate and destiny can work the same way. In dramas and romances, these vague cosmic forces offer an excuse for crazy coincidences and irrational behavior.

Then there’s Doctor Who. Flipping heck, is there ever Doctor Who. Besides the good Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, which does anything the plot needs it to do, the show’s many plot holes are waved away by the concept of “wibbly-wobbley, timey-wimey… stuff.”

Do you remember the concept of deus ex machina? It’s when a specific problem in a story is resolved by some contrived or impossible solution. This is the same idea, but bigger and more pervasive. It’s when a deus ex machina, instead of resolving a single problem, becomes the storyteller’s go-to resolution for all of the problems.

As cheap or lazy as this sounds, it doesn’t have to be so bad. It all depends on how it’s used. Some stories don’t need to be burdened by a lot of complicated explanations. If media like Doctor Who or Metal Gear Solid 4 obsessed over details, or else cut out everything that lacked a rational explanation, they would be a heck of a lot less fun. If the audience is willing to swallow a vague explanation, and it enables a better, tighter story, then it becomes a good thing.

Used badly, narrative tricks like magic and nanomachines make a story contrived and unbelievable. Used well, they prevent a story from becoming bogged down in details and explanations, and allow storytellers to focus on other areas of storytelling.

I would call my typewriter monkeys my blog’s version of this trick—a vague explanation for the complicated process of how TMTF is kept up and running—except for one thing. My monkeys don’t resolve problems. They cause them!

381. Change Is Hard

Well, I’m back. So are my typewriter monkeys, which is too bad. When they skipped town and scampered off to Florida a couple of weeks ago, I hoped they would run into alligators, like this:

Monkey Vs. Alligator, Part 1If I were truly fortunate, I thought, they might even be eaten by alligators, like this:

Monkey Vs. Alligator, Part 2Alas, my monkeys’ travels were alligator-free, and the wretched blighters have returned, swaying drunkenly and smelling of bananas, wet fur, and bourbon. I don’t know how they spent their two-week break, or how long it will be before they resume their favorite hobby of setting stuff on fire, but I won’t ask. When you’ve run a blog as long as I have, you learn to stop asking these kinds of questions.

I don’t actually pay my monkeys to set stuff on fire. In fact, I don’t actually pay them for anything. (Thanks again for the comic, JK!)

While my typewriter monkeys were doing God-knows-what in the American South, I spent much of my break from this blog attending CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) classes. Now I have only to finish up my final week in the kitchens of the nursing home where I work, and then I’ll begin CNA training in earnest, before taking a couple of state exams. Then, God willing, I’ll settle into my new role at the nursing home: taking care of old people.

Y’know, change is hard.

I used to think I like change, but I was wrong. I like variety. Change and variety are different things. Variety is a refreshing, temporary break from routine. Variety is a vacation, a road trip, or a new flavor of pie. By contrast, change destroys routine, only to remake it. Change is an exhausting rearrangement and relearning of routines. Change is moving, getting married, or switching jobs.

It was a change, albeit a really good one, when I left my old job to work at the nursing home. As awesome as it was to leave behind an awful workplace, the transition took effort. My current transition from Dish Washer Guy to Nurse Assistant Guy has already been challenging… and I’ve only just started.

For a person whose twenty-something years have been full of change, I’m not particularly good at it. I’m frequently surprised by how hard transitions are. At this point, I really should know what to expect, but change nearly always catches me off guard. Still, I’m learning—or so I like to think.

Change is hard, but I’m still here, so I suppose that counts for something. It will be nice to settle into comfortable consistency over the next few months. In the meantime, I’ll keep practicing my CNA skills: making beds, taking vital signs, and washing my hands with the frenzied desperation of Lady Macbeth. OUT, DAMNED SPOT! OUT, I SAY! (That’s a Shakespeare joke.)

I just heard glass breaking, and I can smell gasoline, so I had better see what my typewriter monkeys have done this time. Whatever the changes or challenges in your life, dear reader, I bid you Godspeed! TMTF will be back next time with its usual nonsense… I hope. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to remember where I left the fire extinguisher.

380. A Personal Update & Some Blog Stuff

Things have changed in the life of Adam Stück.

Well, some things have changed; others remain adamantly (no pun intended, I swear) the same. I’m still reading, writing, watching cartoons, drinking too much coffee, and striving (with typically mixed results) to follow Christ and live a worthwhile life. However, the Adam of today is not quite the same fellow as the Adam of yesteryear. What has changed?

I am happy. Quite unexpectedly, after prolonged misery, I am consistently happy.

HappyIt’s been a few months since I left my old job at a group home for disabled gentlemen, shaking the dust off my feet as a testimony against it. I love those guys—in fact, I visit ’em regularly—but that workplace had become as dysfunctional as all heck. That job, which was never easy, had become unbearable; its toxic influence had reached even the farthest corners of my life. I felt almost constantly tired, stressed, and gloomy. Only since moving on have I realized just how bad things were.

In many ways, my new job has been awesome. It ain’t glamorous, but my workplace is functional, my responsibilities are reasonable, and my coworkers and managers treat me with the respect due a living human being. It has been a vast improvement, and I’m consistently happier than I’ve been in years.

Of course, “happier than I’ve been in years” is not quite the same thing as “happily ever after.” Life is still complicated. Depression comes and goes.

Things aren’t perfect, but they are better. Thank God, things are better.

Why am I writing any of this? Well, I ramble a lot about distant memories and geeky nonsense, but hardly ever about how I am now. For now, I seem to be happy and highly caffeinated, and I am okay with that.

All right, so much for the personal update. Have some news about this blog.

TMTF will be taking a two-week break, returning with new content on August 24. During the break, I’ll dust off old posts and republish them on the blog’s usual schedule, because recycling is good for the environment.

Here, in no particular order, are several reasons for the break.

  • I’ll soon be switching positions within my job, moving from my starting position in the kitchens to a position as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). I’ll be doing pretty much all the same stuff as in my previous job, but in a functional workplace. In preparation for the switch, I’ll have to take CNA classes on top of my usual work shifts, so I’ll be busier than usual for a while.
  • I have a wedding to attend this weekend in northern Indiana—in fact, if you’re reading this blog post on the day it’s published, I’m probably on a highway heading northward right now.
  • I have some editing to do for a friend, and I am embarrassingly far behind. I could use some extra time to work on it.
  • My typewriter monkeys decided yesterday to celebrate summer with a bonfire, and today there is a smoldering ruin where my town’s post office used to be. (Don’t ask.) While I’m traveling north for the wedding, my monkeys have skipped town and are on their way south to avoid charges of arson. They plan to lay low in Florida until the whole thing blows over. I hope they are eaten by alligators.

TMTF shall return with new content on Monday, August 24. As always, thanks so much for reading!