Full Court Press

I woke about an hour ago from a dream in which I was playing basketball. We were at the new fitness center on the Missouri State University campus and it started as a friendly game between me and some co-workers and student workers. There were only 4-5 people per team, and we were playing on a full-sized court (rather than just half a court), so we had lots of room.

But then other people kept wanting to join. This was fine at first, but I started getting annoyed because people were right up in my face while I was still holding the ball on the sideline and looking to pass in. In friendly games, I prefer people stand a bit further off for the initial pass, and really I prefer the defense always maintain a half court press and stay on their side of the court.

More people kept joining the game, almost all of them ex-student workers. They kept just walking onto the court, walking up to me, and standing right in front of me. Everyone thought it was ludicrous that I wanted them to back off a bit, to at least go halfway to the free throw line, and when I looked behind me to back up a bit I discovered that another 20 people had filled in that space and were standing behind the hoop.

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ZoomTV – A Nightmare

Rather than having anything to do with Bollywood, the name ZoomTV described a method of filming in my dream last night. Some friends of ours were making an advertisement as an entry in a contest and asked if we would join. Their amateur film studio was set in a large, brown room with random furniture throughout, inspired perhaps by my recent re-arranging of library furniture, and they had a single camera and a lot of ideas. The people who had helped them set up cleared out quickly, but we agreed to stay and help our friends.

The commercial was ridiculous and soon crossed the border from reality to fantasy. At one point I was swinging a large, spiked flail over my head and wiping out lines of charging enemies while the camera rolled on. After six failed takes we rested and asked a bit more about ZoomTV. Why was it called that?

It is called that, as it turns out, because ZoomTV is a special means of filming that operates faster than the speed of light. Anything in front of the camera is accelerated, and though we didn’t notice a difference, we too had been shooting through time faster than light. April and I were horrified as this sunk in for us, and we suddenly realized why the crew who helped set up had quickly fled. While we had gone through six takes in a matter of hours, ten years had passed outside the studio.

Though April and I were furious, we were already screwed. We went ahead and finished the commercial on the hope it would win, because the money it would bring would be our only saving grace. Surely by now I woud have been fired by my job, our house would have been foreclosed, our car gone, our bank accounts emptied. Though enough time hadn’t passed for the terrifying conclusion that, “Everyone we knew is now dead!” surely some people we knew were gone, or at least thought we had disappeared, died, or abandoned them. We had nothing to our names at this point, and what was worse, it would be nearly impossible for me to catch up. I work with technology and have to stay current in my knowledge, but by the end of filming I was almost fourteen years out of date. I would no longer be able to work in the same field I had been.

We left the studio destitute and wandered around the future for a bit, receiving startled and strange looks from people. We soon saw the commercial on a television and discovered that not only had we been cut out of it completely, an idea I had while brainstorming the commercial, the exact words I had said, were being parroted by our “friend” who had roped us into this without warning. I was furious and, in my already somewhat tender mental state, was becoming rather mean in general. April soon left me and I was alone.

I confronted the friend, to no avail, and was completely lost and directionless before I awoke.

False Dreams, False Memories

Though it wasn’t a major component of my dream last night, I knew as I slept that my ex-girlfriend had committed suicide some time in the past. The knowledge wasn’t a shock, gut-wrenching and eliciting tears, but rather the feeling was one of an old sadness. I thought of her and was sad that she had died, and by her own hand.

When I awoke, this knowledge lingered and I continued in my sadness. As sleep fell away, however, I began to examine the memory, confused by my reactions and thoughts. If she had died, why hadn’t I called her husband to offer my condolences and assistance? Why didn’t I remember writing about it, and why hadn’t I attended the funeral?

The first place I turned for answers was Facebook. Surely if she had really committed suicide there would be a long list of posts from people on her wall wishing her peace and offering prayers for her family. Of course, what I found was nothing of the sort. She had taken some sort of quiz recently, and posted some new photos.

There are dreams that strike us, that shake us with a fear and horror that refuses to dissipate upon waking. Instead, I am left with this quiet sadness, all the more poignant for all the true memories of death and suicide that likewise refuse to leave.

I don’t begrudge that sadness–I think it is an important part of being human and capable of love. I do wish it could be restrained however, and kept from spilling over where it is not needed.

Processing the day’s memories

I had a pretty good week, all-in-all. Compared to the last month, it was downright relaxing, and I got caught up on a lot of work. However, we’ve had a couple of emails from our university’s president about the economy, and drastic measures are being taken to address the issue before it becomes terribly negative for us. They’re preparing potential budgets in case our state allocation is slashed, and most travel, non-necessary maintenance, and other general expenses have been halted.

I guess this all culminates for me in fear of losing my job, because that was the nightmare I had last night. It’s a reasonable fear in today’s economic climate, especially since I know two people who were recently laid off, but during the day I feel pretty confident in my place at the university. My annual evaluation scores are high, my work is valuable to the institution, and I’ve been placed in some pretty instrumental roles. I feel like I do good work there, so I should be secure.

But you never know. They could always decide that it’s cheaper to do away with the computer labs and outsource computer support (which it is). That’s why I try to do a lot of things that aren’t traditional computer support, because if that’s all we did (the traditional turning-of-screw-drivers and replacing-of-hardware), we wouldn’t be worth what they pay us. I’m told that people up above recognize this, like us a great deal, and value what we do. And I know that the students want to keep the labs going and strong, because we put them first and make sure they get the best service we can provide. But despite knowing all that, I’m apparently still afraid of losing my job.

If I did get terminated, I’m not quite sure what I would do. Ryan has quickly shifted gears into freelance web design/development, and for the moment at least, that seems to be going well for him. I suppose I could set myself up as a computer technician and go to people’s houses to fix their computer problems. I’d also try and get a part-time job temporarily, and really step up my writing so I could get some things out for publishing and selling. I’ll be the first to admit that giving my work away for free is pretty easy when I have a good salary, a home I can pay for, plenty of food, etc. But when it comes right down to it, a guy’s got to get paid.

Hopefully, though, it’ll never come to that. I really like my job and the University, and I want to work and serve there for a very long time. I’m behind on my Reflections on Blogging series, but some of the things I’ll be writing about with that are academia and my committment to it. It’s something I really believe in, and want to continue supporting.

I think I’m good, but it does make me nervous.

Kickback

I had a dream the other night in which I stood on the old playground at my elementary school, talking with a blond-haired man about the school and how it had changed. We were the ages we are now, with little kids running all over the place, playing and having a good time, but the field next to the playground was largely empty.

He asked me what the school was like back then, “Was it crowded?” he asked. “Were the kids separated?” When I attended, the building housed both the elementary and the junior high school, and the elementary kids were confined to the north wing while the junior highers had the south wings. Elementary students were not permitted in the junior high hallways, and were largely afraid of the big kids there, who were perceived as bullies (even though we had next to no interaction with them).

Now, according to my dream, all of the kids were mixed up because there simply wasn’t room or optimal spaces to accommodate all classes and sizes. Rather than dispelling fear, it increased confusion, and the school was a bit of a zoo. Nevertheless, it seemed like less kids were at recess, or at play.

I told him about kickback, the one sport I excelled at in elementary and junior high school. Besides in the classroom, dealing with academic questions and grades, there was little I could show off with at the time, but at kickback I reigned supreme.

Kickback is similar to kickball, in that there is a ball involved and you kick it. Other people try to catch it. Beyond that, they differ drastically, and the reason I preferred it is because you didn’t have to run much. The goal, rather than kicking the ball away from people so you could run around the bases, was simply to kick the ball as high and far as possible.

Two teams would face each other across the field, and a single soccer ball (or whatever similar ball was handy) would be drop kicked back and forth across the field. The goal was to kick it to an area of the field within the boundaries (usually demarcated by some trees or something) but in a place where someone on the other team would not be able to catch it. If the ball hit the ground, your team got a point. If they caught it, they got a point.

I was the best kicker, able to get the ball higher and further than anyone, and I loved that. I loved playing in that field, where there were trees and open skies, but by junior high, rules started to thud down around us. No playing tag. No hide and seek. No running around in the field, it’s too dangerous. In the game of tag, you have to… you know… tag someone. But that was too much like hitting, and therefore was banned. In my dream, the rules took it so far that most of the playground was empty because it was deemed unsafe. Too violent or dangerous.

Nevertheless, it was nice to think back and be nostalgic about something from my childhood that was purely pleasant. I remarked to the blond-haired young man how amazing it was to think back on those shining moments. With all the horrible things that happened at that school, all the bullying, beatings, and concussions, all the fear and angst, that there would be something there to think back on with fondness was a blessing. At least it’s not all bad, I said with a smile. Though I do miss kickback.

Bedtime

I’m going to go read more of this stuff. It’s just so good, so brainless, so relaxing. When I read books like these, I can turn my mind off. I don’t need to tell it what to think or what to imagine, because the book does that for me. All I must do is let my eyes linger on the words, wander down the page; let my hand turn the pages, feel the book between my fingers; let my heart soak it in and dream.

I’m actually currently on a book many after the one linked above, but my reviews are publishing slowly (every Tuesday and Thursday) for the next couple of weeks. Sometime in the second or third week of July you’ll get the chance to read about what I’m currently indulging in.

Goodnight friends, and thanks for stopping by. I’m off to Ansalon.

Eighty and Out

We had a retirement/going-away party for one of my co-workers yesterday afternoon. He was the first supervisor I had when I started working for Computer Services as a student worker in 2003, and as we gathered in the ballroom on the third floor of Plaster Student Union, I looked around and wondered if I would be standing there thirty years from now with my name on a cake and too many tables set up in my honour.

Part of me hopes so. As Samir says in Office Space, it would be nice to have that kind of job security. By then, my yearly raises in addition to equity adjustments in my salary (to keep in line with inflation) would put me at a fairly comfortable income level, my retirement would be well funded, and I would have been doing something I rather enjoy for thirty years.

But I don’t know that I’ll get there. The dream is, of course, to become a well-enough published author to be able to live off the income that writing provides. I recognize that, realistically speaking, this dream is unlikely. Most authors get paid about $10-20k for a book, and only write about one book a year, which is simply not enough to live on, let alone support a family.

I can dream, and if I was doing it full time, I think I could keep up a pace similar to Pratchett, who writes two books a year on average. There are so many topics I want to write on that it could easily fill my time. Regardless, I don’t intend to leave any time soon. Within my five-year plan is to write a book on the modern help desk and how our position is evolving. Where would I get my research if I left?

I’m not quitting my day job, and I certainly wouldn’t mind retiring from Missouri State University in thirty years (at the ripe old age of 51, amusingly enough), but I’m not sure my path lies only along this road.