That’s right, the move to Kansas that we had been ramping up for the last couple of months finally came to pass last week. My brother-in-law flew out to Indianapolis on Friday, January 27th, to help us finish getting packed up and loaded into the Uhaul, and a few days later on the 31st — a day later than we anticipated — we were hitting the road! I was a little nervous along the way. My brother-in-law has been a lifesaver throughout this move but riding with him in the Uhaul was kinda scary, especially since he seemed to think the truck was “pushing” back whenever he would brake. I was also worried for my three kitties, stuffed in their carriers in the backseat of the car following us in the Uhaul with my dad and brother.
In the end, though, we all made it here safely and things have even been a little fun since we arrived. We’re moving into the home that my sister and brother-in-law are eventually vacating to live out in a farmhouse that his mother left to them. Their move is still in progress, however, so we’re sort of camping out here while they get their things moved around. It means mostly living out of boxes and things for the time being, but I actually don’t mind, because it’s been nice getting to be around my entire immediate family. Maybe things will start to feel cramped after too long, but for the last week or so it has actually been kinda fun. The only thing that’s been kinda strange has been returning to work remotely this week. Working in a different location and entirely different timezone has been very weird. Because we’re an hour earlier now in Central Time, my hours were adjusted an hour earlier as well, so it’s definitely taking getting used to.
We have yet to take any family weekend exploration trips like we’re eventually planning to, but I’m excited to get to know more of my surroundings. I’m especially interested in possibly going to Atoka, Oklahoma, and visiting Reba’s Place, Reba McEntire’s establishment that she recently opened which I found via TikTok! I’m not the biggest fan of country music, but I think Reba is a great singer and actress and the bar and restaurant look really cool. I don’t exactly know what else is in the region, but I’m amped to get out there and share some more about what we discover here in the middle of the country!
Friends and followers saw it first on social media, but I’m happy to announce that I’m still employed once we move!
In what was apparently a lengthy decision-making process by HR at the company I currently work for here in Indy, they finally notified me this past week that I’ll be able to continue working remotely once we move to Kansas after all. The state of Kansas was initially on their list of states we couldn’t work from (thus my post essentially begging someone to hire me), so I have to say that I’m really pleasantly surprised that they’ve made an exception for me! Though I was expecting to hit the reset button entirely once we made the move, it’s honestly a relief to know that I’ll still have a source of income once we’re there.
Speaking of the move, we’re moving in a little over a week! I can’t believe the time has nearly arrived! My brother-in-law, who’s flying in from Kansas to help us load up and drive the moving truck, arrives this coming Friday! It still feels a little surreal and I don’t think it has completely set in yet that I’ll have totally different surroundings in just a matter of days. There are a few things that have had me stressing out a little (including recent health worries with myself not feeling well, Tigger having another seizure, my dad and sister having new wounds, etc.), but I’m hopeful that none of them are so paramount that we wind up needing to push anything back. We’re planning to get to Kansas, get unloaded and settled, and then have a big shindig to celebrate the holidays we missed out on together these past few months. Then afterward, I’m hoping there’s a big rest on the horizon.
I wanted to make a great big post for New Year’s but couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that 2022 was already ending. Doesn’t it feel like we just had Halloween? It feels like we just had Halloween. And then just like that, the year is gone! It’s probably for the better that I wasn’t able to get a New Year’s post written anyway. My year-end post was going to round up all the great, exciting milestones in my life that happened during 2022, but when I really think back on the year, I feel like I really just went into survival mode with everything going on between work, school, and the health scare with my Dad. There really weren’t a lot of huge moments for me in 2022, and honestly, that’s okay. We have other years for big moments.
Like the one that’s upcoming.
With the move happening in just a few weeks now, 2023 is shaping up to be something of an adventure for me. Literally, everything will be changing with this move out of state. I’ll need a new job, as I wrote about in my previous post because it doesn’t look likely that my current job can keep me remote in Kansas. I’ll also eventually be enrolling in a new college out there as well since I’m not made of money and can’t just travel back to Indy whenever I need to take an exam or an entire course in person. And all of that isn’t even taking into account that I’ll need to find a way to be social too, despite pretty much only knowing my family that lives out there. I hope my friends here in Indy and elsewhere are planning on keeping communication channels open at all times because I feel like I’m going to need them.
The move does feel like an opportunity to hit the reset button on this game called life in a lot of ways though. The house we’re currently living in needs a lot of repairs done to it and rather than spend the time and energy, it’s nice to be able to start fresh instead. The house we’ll be moving into is bigger as well, and I’ll be able to have a proper office space separate from my bedroom, which is sadly not the case here in this house. There will be new roads to learn and places to go where there’s a very slim chance you’ll run into someone you know. Unlike what the theme song to Cheers would have you believe, sometimes it’s nice to go places where everybody doesn’t know your name. And, of course, we’ll be around family we don’t ordinarily get to see that often. It’ll be nice to actually be able to do things with them and celebrate this year’s holidays and special occasions with them.
I’ll miss Indiana. I’ll always be a Hoosier at heart. I have a feeling that this place will always feel a little bit like home and there will probably be times when I’ll want to come back. Hopefully, I’ll be able to visit when those times present themselves. But I feel like it’s finally time for me to get out of this place where all I do for an entire year is simply “survive.” Instead, it’s time for me to start living and flourishing. And this is the year that I’m hopefully going to be able to do it.
Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with my current job. They actually just gave me a pretty chunky raise that I’m thrilled about. The sad fact of the matter though is that the company isn’t currently allowing remote work from the state of Kansas, which as you all know if you’ve been keeping up for a while, is where I’ll be moving to in a little over a month. I’ve discussed the matter with HR, and they seem to be discussing whether or not any kind of exception can be made, but they aren’t sure if a decision will come before I’m already gone. So at this point, unless I hear otherwise, I’m pretty much under the impression that I’ll be jobless by the time we move.
I’ve been searching for new remote opportunities since receiving that news, but it’s hard to find anything remote that isn’t a call center, something I’m vastly not qualified for like software engineering, or just an outright scam listing entirely. I would love to find something in social media or community management, but I’ve got no experience doing either of those things outside of my personal social media reach, which according to MediaKits reaches less than 700 followers across all platforms. That’s pretty small potatoes in the internet world, all things considered. My last week of school here in Indy was last week, and part of a final assignment was to start an online portfolio of our work. So I did just that! I created an account on Behance and included items to showcase that I created for school projects in Photoshop and Illustrator as well as two photo series from my Photography class. I also marked the option that I was “available for hire” should anyone really surprise me and find themselves interested in those offerings. I’m definitely a novice but I’m more than happy to take on any graphic design needs! I’ve also got a little bit of web development experience (hi, I made this website you’re reading right now!), layout experience with InDesign, and video editing in Premiere Pro that I would be happy to work on with anyone!
Mostly, I’m hoping to find a job where I can use some of these new skill sets a little bit more. The closer that we get to the move to Kansas and my need to find anything that will pay me may wind up taking precedence, but I’ve been creating things on my own and went to school for a while to learn how to do these things that I enjoy and would really love to be able to do them for a living, too. If you happen to have any leads or know someone in an industry who might take a chance on a total newbie, please let me know!
American Thanksgiving was a couple of days ago, and it occurred pretty quietly here in our household. We feasted upon turkey and mashed potatoes, as I’d say a large majority of Americans do on the day, and just generally had a nice time without any of us having to be anywhere else. The most important thing was that Dad came home from the rehab facility on Monday and was able to spend the holiday with us here at home as well. That’s probably what I was most thankful for this year. He’s doing well and is able to walk again and fully function more or less like he had prior to his hospitalization. The only difference now is that he’s to be permanently using his BiPAP machine and taking his medication regularly.
The photography class that I was enjoying came to an end and my raster graphics class is underway. This is my last class of the semester and likely the final class that I’ll be taking at Ivy Tech. Since it looks like we’ll be moving out to Kansas at the end of January, I’ve put school on hold yet again and plan to enroll at a community college or university out there once we get settled. Raster graphics have been pretty cool though. Photoshop has some incredibly powerful tools that I didn’t even know about. Our project for the third week of the class included restoring and colorizing old and damaged photos. I was impressed with how well my restoration project was turning out that I even told my friendly co-workers about it. One of them, Sheila, asked if I would try my hand at restoring a photo of her father. I was more than happy to do so, especially once I blew my own mind with how well the restoration turned out! Granted, most of the work here was done by Photoshop’s neural filters, but I still couldn’t believe what happened! The new version is so much clearer and cleaner and almost looks like a photo that could have been taken recently. Just like the photography class that I took at the beginning of this semester, I’m thankful to be learning this new skill set that’s truly opening my mind.
Though my ability to live stream lately has been hindered by a multitude of other things going on in the world around me — work, school, holidays, packing for the move, etc. — I have to mention that it has been a fun hobby lately. Though my viewership is nowhere near where I’d like for it to be, I know that I need to provide more consistency and dedication to the craft in order to truly grow. Once the move is finished and I’m able to get set up in my new office/studio space in the new house, I hope to start really putting my best foot forward with my digital presence and get where I want to be. So hey, if you aren’t yet following me on Twitch, make sure you do that so you don’t miss a thing!
Lastly, I just want to say that I’m thankful for the most essential parts of my life, too. I’m thankful to have somewhere warm and dry to live and sleep. I’m thankful to have food in my belly. I’m thankful for the clothes on my back. And I’m perhaps most thankful for my family, my friends, and my kitties, all of whom I would be lost and lonely without.
Yeah, things have been a little wild. Let’s rewind a little and take you back a couple weeks to Dad being hospitalized again. Without giving away too many details that he might not exactly want out on the world wide web, Dad has had a recurring issue with his legs that cause him some severe pain, open sores, swelling, inability to walk, and some other health problems. A couple of weeks ago, this issue flared back up, resulting in his regular wound care physician recommending that he go to the emergency room instead. He stayed in the hospital for about a week as they not only got his leg issue but also his respiratory system (he had been neglecting using a CPAP machine) back under control and now he’s at a rehabilitation facility regaining strength so that he can walk again. Considering the very terrible shape he was in when he was admitted to the hospital, he’s doing much better now and is going to be just fine. I want to make that emphasis for anyone who might be alarmed that they didn’t know this was going on at all. He will need to wear a BiPAP machine whenever he sleeps, likely for the rest of his life, but he should be fine otherwise.
This is actually the second time we’ve been through this routine, the last hospitalization and rehab trip having taken place in late 2020. As Dad gets older and my brother and I cannot properly care for him by ourselves, we’ve all decided that we’re going to move to southeast Kansas in the spring once he’s doing better and winter and the holidays have passed. That’s the other important point to this writing; not only letting any readers know that Dad’s doing okay but also making the formal announcement that we’ll soon be leaving Indiana. My older sister, brother-in-law, and nephew all live in a small town out there and rather than trying to scrounge to find the money to put Dad into an assisted living facility (which none of us want to do anyway), we’re going to move to an area where we’ll be bolstered by additional members of the family. It’ll probably wind up being better for all of us, not just Dad, since we’re also living in a place right now that needs multiple repairs that we also can’t afford.
My sister couldn’t be more thrilled — she’s basically been trying to convince us to move out there near them since the moment they arrived themselves — but I’ve got mixed feelings myself. A big move such as the one we’re facing definitely has its pros and cons. With the exception of the brief time Dad’s job had us living in Wisconsin for a few of my younger years, central Indiana has always been my home. Although I do both online these days, I have a job here and go to school here. Though I rarely see them anymore, I also like to think that I still have several friends here, too. But while Kansas isn’t exactly the most interesting state in the union, I’m excited to be near family again and for the complete change of scenery. I’m beyond ready for something new and different. So hopefully, by this time next year, I’ll be living that new and different life! The whole family probably will be! Besides, I can always come home to Indy and visit, right? Not to mention I’m always a text message, video, or phone call away!
In the meantime, I’ve created a money pool that we’re going to contribute toward moving expenses and things since it’s going to cost a whole bunch of money! While it’s mostly just for the family to throw our extra money into to get things going (so no pressure whatsoever), feel free to help us out by contributing here if you’re feeling generous!
Work has been somewhat stressful, school has picked up, and I discovered an addictive life-sim game called Disney Dreamlight Valley that has consumed basically any of my free time that isn’t spent working or schooling. And I guess just somehow, some way, the entire month slipped away from me without much to say about it.
I will say that my photography class has been great. Learning how to actually use my camera in manual mode rather than just shooting everything in automatic has been incredible. We’ve taken on several assignments so far including blurred motion, short depth of field, high contrast, and all kinds of other technical projects that have occasionally made me go, “Wow, I can’t believe I did that!” Without a doubt though, the series that I was most proud of and that I impressed myself the most with, was this most recent assignment where we had to do a little bit of low-key, high contrast, black-and-white portraiture. I chose to photograph my father for the assignment. For posterity mostly, but also because he just so happened to be nearby and available, so why not utilize him as a subject model? As of this writing, the assignment is still ungraded, but I already know these will be photos that we hang onto of him, whether the academic world likes them or not.
Photography isn’t exactly something that I was looking into doing professionally. I wouldn’t necessarily mind it as a career choice, but taking this course wasn’t really my decision. I had taken Photography in high school and, with the exception of the awesome field trip to shoot in Brown County, I hated developing prints in the dark room and trying to find interesting things to capture. I like taking photos, but I’ve always pretty much been an amateur. I take selfies and photos of friends and maybe a landscape or two. I’ve never been great at the “art” of anything and that definitely includes photography. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to shell out the money for an expensive DSLR camera. But since it turns out that Photography is one of the requirements in the Visual Communications program that I’m enrolled in at the college, I didn’t have much choice. Surprisingly, the subject has been way better and more interesting this time around. No more dark rooms with smelly chemicals with digital photography, for starters. And I guess just generally taking it more seriously this time around and learning what different settings do has been an eye-opener.
It kinda makes me glad that I bought my camera after all. Assuming I don’t break the thing somehow, it should last for years and definitely provide for a new hobby. I don’t know whether I’ll ever pursue any professional photography gigs or not because, quite frankly, I’m still learning and I don’t know how good I am at the whole thing, objectively speaking. I’ll need to put together some sort of portfolio or something. We’ve scratched the surface a little bit in this class, but later this semester, I’m also taking a course learning how to work in Photoshop, so I’m excited to learn how to not only take the picture but also do more interesting things with them later on in the editing process.
That’s where my head’s been lately. Now unless you want to learn how to maximize your island’s profits growing canola in Dreamlight Valley, get on outta here! But remember — just in case I disappear from this blog for another month or so — Twitter is probably the best place to keep up with what’s going on with me. I’m the most active there so be sure to give me a follow.
Well hello. It’s been a little while, and let me tell you, that’s because this month has been rough.
That isn’t to say that it hasn’t had its fun moments. In fact, I think a lot of the “rough” moments that I’ve had so far this moment have been a direct result of going out and doing something fun. You see, over the last couple of years, I’ve adjusted to a schedule of working and playing from home, which has meant that I don’t get in a whole lot of movement. As a huge homebody, I tend to prefer it that way also. I love being at home. It’s where all my stuff is, it’s where my cats are. It’s where I can be ugly in peace and don’t have the anxiety of there being someone potentially watching my every step. Despite this, it also means I’m drastically out of shape when it comes time to actually go out and do stuff. And that has caught up with me twice this month.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to GenCon this year! I was accompanied by my nephew and we had a great time traversing the convention floor as well as seeing all the art and cosplay. We bought some beautiful metal dice from Metallic Dice Games, which makes me very excited. Unlike most people in attendance at GenCon, I’m not very into tabletop or board gaming as much as I am into video games, but I’d very much like that to change eventually. I want to learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons one day if I ever find a group of friends willing and interested in doing the same! Attending GenCon was a little bit of dipping our toes into those waters and while we found that we were a little out of our element in the board game/tabletop gaming world, we still had a blast and were very glad that we went. It was my very first convention and I’m eager to do more! We’re hoping that something like a Comic-Con might be more in our wheelhouse. But seriously, if anyone wants to teach me D&D one day, let me know!
But as I mentioned before, post-GenCon was not fun. Not only were my legs sore for a few days from all the walking, I also felt a little sick for up to a week after the fact. GenCon had COVID-19 restrictions in place (masks and proof of vaccination were both requirements for entry), so I felt relatively comfortable in the environment, especially since we didn’t interact too closely with anyone else who wasn’t also masked up. By the Friday after though, I felt so bad that I wound up taking a COVID test just to make sure that I didn’t have it, especially since I had read on Twitter that there were quite a few people at GenCon who did contract the virus. Thankfully, my COVID test turned up negative and I started feeling better by the following weekend. I’m guessing I just encountered the regular ol’ “con crud,” which I’m told is cold and flu symptoms that people commonly develop after conventions anyway, even before COVID times.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and now school has started back up! Yes, I’ve re-enrolled in my local community college, as I mentioned I was going to try to do in yet another previous post of mine. This semester though, I’m taking a Photography class, which is very cool and has me very excited. I even bought a brand new Canon EOS 2000D (Rebel T7) DSLR camera for the class. You might think it’s a little bit of a hefty investment for an eight-week community college course, but I’ve been eyeing a really nice camera for a while now anyway, and this baby should last me a few good years. I’m excited to learn more about how to shoot in modes that aren’t just automatic, which is pretty much all I know how to do at this point. I’ll be learning more about Photoshop and raster graphics this semester too, so I’m hoping to get some pro skills in photo editing as well as taking the photos themselves. We already went on our first outdoor adventure around campus taking photos on Thursday, and that’s when my next “old person” incident happened.
While getting down on my knees to get this shot of a bee on a flower, I found myself in one of the most awkward positions of my life — I was totally and completely unable to get back up on my feet. It’s like my knees and leg muscles had entirely seized up and didn’t want to work like they should. I wound up crawling over to a nearby bench to try and use it as leverage to pull myself back up onto my feet and, in the process, wound up falling back on my butt instead. A very kind fellow student who was walking by at that exact moment asked if I was okay and if I needed help. I declined out of embarrassment, but at the same time, I was sort of in a panic wondering if I was going to need a damn ambulance. After a few moments on the ground, I finally rallied myself back up enough to get up onto the bench where I could sit and collect myself some more. Finally afterward, I was able to get back on my feet and go about continuing the photo shoot, but not without my legs feeling completely wonky as I tried to walk. They felt like they could go out on me at any given moment.
Today as I write this, I’m still recovering from my legs feeling weird. I can walk on them fairly confidently now, but it still hurts to get up and down from a sitting position. My short time as a photographer has clearly taught me that getting down on my knees to get the shot is not going to be something we can do going forward. I’m starting to feel old and out of shape. I need to start walking more in what little spare time I actually have between work and school. That would probably help a great deal, especially since I’m really not that old. Certainly not old enough to start feeling this crippled. But hey, the most important thing is: I got the shot!
I’m hoping for a change as we move into September. More fun, more learning, and preferably a lot less pain. Be on the lookout for more photos and graphics from me too as this semester evolves!
This past week, everyone in the gaming world has been obsessed with a new title that just dropped on Tuesday called Stray. Once you read the following synoposis of Stray, you might easily be able to ascertain precisely why it has my attention:
Lost, alone and separated from family, a stray cat must untangle an ancient mystery to escape a long-forgotten city.
Stray is a third-person cat adventure game set amidst the detailed, neon-lit alleys of a decaying cybercity and the murky environments of its seedy underbelly. Roam surroundings high and low, defend against unforeseen threats and solve the mysteries of this unwelcoming place inhabited by curious droids and dangerous creatures.
See the world through the eyes of a cat and interact with the environment in playful ways. Be stealthy, nimble, silly, and sometimes as annoying as possible with the strange inhabitants of this mysterious world.
Along the way, the cat befriends a small flying drone, known only as B-12. With the help of this newfound companion, the duo must find a way out.
Stray is developed by BlueTwelve Studio, a small team from the south of France mostly made up of cats and a handful of humans.
– Stray official website
As if I didn’t already have an affinity for story-driven narratives and dystopian cityscapes, but now you’re telling me that a CAT is the main protagonist?! How many times can I sign up? It’s like they basically developed this game FOR me.
But I’m apparently not alone! Stray has been out for less than a week as of the writing of this post and has already amassed more than 60,000 concurrent players on Steam. That’s not even taking into account the number of players that may also have purchased and played the game on PlayStation consoles, where it’s also available. People all over the world are relishing the opportunity to get their inner cat out, and I just happen to be one of them!
I haven’t been able to get my hands on the game just yet, but I’ve watched plenty of footage of other people playing it on Twitch this week and it looks beyond beautiful. The main player cat actually reminds me of my own Rufus, which is strange because Rufus is black and gray, whereas the in-game cat is orange like my Cinnamon. But the cat in Stray is smaller and leaner and has the same big eyes as he explores the world, whereas Cinnamon is a bit of a chunk. Watching the cat run around in the game makes me envision a little bit of what life may have been like had we not rescued Rufus before he and his brother were chucked out on the street. Which is a little bit hard to watch, but also makes me want to strive to complete the game and get the kitty back to his family all that much more!
What strikes me the most about the game are some of the tinier details that they put into it. The in-game cat rolls around on the ground as if paralyzed when first equipped with a harness that houses the B-12 drone like a real cat would. It takes catnaps on the warm bellies of some of the city’s friendly inhabitants. It walks across keyboards and pianos. It scratches up walls, doors, furniture, and window blinds. There’s even a dedicated button with which to make him meow! You can, without a doubt, tell that the team that made this game owned cats themselves and studied them, and used them as inspiration.
Once I acquire the game, I’ll likely be streaming my playthrough on Twitch as well. You can probably count on that happening within the next couple of weeks. If you’re interested in watching when I do, be sure you’re following me on both Twitch and Twitter so you know when I’m about to start broadcasting.
Getting a better look at the vastness and, frankly, unbelievably spectacular space beyond our home planet to me feels simultaneously scary and peaceful. It’s an alarming reminder of how tiny and remarkably insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the universe. But it’s also a reminder that life is a beautiful and rare wonder. One that we have yet to find out there elsewhere, but that I hope one day we will.
I don’t have much to share as far as my personal life goes with this update. I just needed to share this astounding beauty and tuck it away in the archives for posterity.