Recap

The Grey Area – Year 1 Retrospective

It’s been a year now since I posted my first blog here and it’s been rocky to say the least. The pledge to write regularly is a commitment and if you intend to keep readers it’s one you should endeavor to keep. However, as with the best of us, life gets in the way. To be honest this year has been one of the most difficult I’ve had in many years both personally and professionally. Despite that, I’ve done my best to continue contributing, and though there have been some major gaps, I am, at least, happy with the content if not the consistency.

When I originally began posting here, I had reached a major milestone in my professional life. Joking that I had become a “certifiable yuppie” I’d recently started a job that put me firmly in the “middle-class”. I purchased a newer model Prius and carried the latest iPhone, wore button-ups daily and often interacted with those that would be considered Orlando’s executive elite. At that point I had enough disposable income to pay all my bills without thinking or worrying about it, eat out often, buy small things that caught my eye on a whim and set a bit aside for whatever other goals I had.

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Before

So I wanted to write. I wanted to share with you how I see things and what I experienced on this tier of existence. As I mentioned and built into the website, I tend a bit toward the hedonist, especially as far as people and food go, and I expected that my lifestyle at that level would lead to some interesting stories. It did, and some of what I wrote about was well responded to. One of the first things I learned is that you’re all a bunch of dirty perverts (and that’s awesome.) Anytime I wrote about sex, my viewers spiked, especially when I was a little edgy about it. Women were also a popular topic and I got a lot of comments (both public and private) regarding my feminist views that I really consider to be a no-brainer.

After I got my stride I decided to mix things up a bit, I told a personal historical story using a semi-fantasy setting to keep things relatively anonymous. I enjoyed this and decided to continue it using the same medium to parallel my life as it happens now. Obviously in many cases I will simply write about things as they are, but I find this medium interesting because it gives me freedom to present the dilemmas in my head without bogging you down with needless explanations or being forced to keep certain details out (names, places.)   I’ve been feeling the itch to write some fiction lately, and will probably introduce a parallel blog in which I will write fictional short stories that may add up to a larger one. But first, I need to be sure I’m consistent here, and I’m sure you know that’s already been an issue.

Speaking of consistency, my biggest hit to that was around March of this year when my life took a major and unexpected turn. Within a matter of weeks, my routine as I knew it was thrown into to chaos, and from there a long, slow descent began that I have only recently began to rise from. As I scrambled to reestablish some kind of routine, I spent over a month away from my blog trying to figure out what my next step was. At first, the freedom I gained was indeed liberating, but as the cost of said freedom began to show itself I realized that reality was coming at me full speed. Even with that realization though, I had no idea exactly how far I would fall.

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After

This descent produced a few notable and lasting positives: New people, stronger connections with some existing friends and new perspectives on old experiences.. Ramadan was an entirely new experience due to my now flexible schedule, and my discovering Uber to stay afloat has provided me with a number of new connections and some fantastic stories (along with a very useful tool for extra income.) The depth of my support structure among my friends here in Orlando was/is severely tested and though some areas were far weaker than expected, others (some expected and some not…) have come through (and frankly saved my ass.)

To be honest, thus far (and omitting above positives), 2015 has been more or less shit. But the struggle has forced me to look at a lot of things, including my path, ask new questions and find new answers. It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention and that’s certainly been the case for me. As for what’s next, I’ve got a couple of posts in my head already, but as 2015 sails into it’s last quarter there’s a decent chance my course will be set and much of that will be worth talking about. If it doesn’t something else will have to give and it may not be pretty. Though I believe the worst is past, I’m not out of the storm yet and if I don’t find my way out, or come across better shelter I run the risk of ending up somewhere considerably darker. But those are stories to come, and some of which will be told through the journey of Kaska-Ta.

In the meantime though, I want to again say think you. While writing this past year I’ve seen some ridiculous traffic come through my site, had my posts shared and debated and gotten some really great comments and feedback from people that otherwise wouldn’t know anything about me. To me, that alone makes the time I spend writing worth it. In the beginning I said I wanted to make you think and every time you like, share and respond, I know that whether you agree or not, I did. So… thank you for reading, writing, responding and thinking! Hopefully this year was just the beginning.

Best Regards,

-Jordan in the Grey Area

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Freedom and the In-Between

“How did you expect it to feel?  You are free, and that can be lonely, and empty, and frightening… but it is also powerful.”

It’s been a while.

I did say I would return, but I’m betting some of you might’ve given up on me.  Regardless, as you can imagine, much has happened over the last nine weeks or so, and much will likely happen over the following weeks.  It is all too much to write here, in a single post, but I will attempt to recap a bit.

“Freelance”

The biggest change, and what has kept me from this and my beloved FFXIV ARR (Which I’ve been able to get back to some as well…) is that I left my position as a full time Executive Assistant.  I left on good terms and am technically still a freelance member of the team, but after the most recent show in early May, any requests for my assistance have been quiet.  This suited me fine as I had been feeling trapped and was longing for a level of freedom that I truthfully hadn’t had in some six years.

Pretty and crazy... Miami reminds me of some people I know.

Pretty and crazy… Miami reminds me of some people I know.

For a few days I allowed myself to simply stop and work on things around the house.  My stress level dropped to near nothing, I did chores, clean-up and sleeping whatever hours I wanted to.  However, I had ground rules for myself that included a legitimate job search via Indeed and LinkedIn, reaching out to whatever contacts I had and keeping my eyes open for whatever opportunities I could.  Though it has only been about a year since my last job search, as the days passed it sunk in that finding a new, promising position is not easy.  My freedom would cost me.  I was fortunate in that I had been saving for some time in order to make the trip to Japan this year, but even as I found ways to stay afloat while I sought my next opportunity, it became increasingly apparent that my trip would be delayed.

Only recently, some 8-9 weeks and many, many resumes and cover letters later did I have two promising initial interviews.  The catch is that both of them required that I relocate: one to Naples, FL and the other to Miami.  Though still in Florida, they were far enough away (in different places) to be a complete change of situation, lifestyle and routine.  Each also had their own unique benefits and potential, but even after making the trip to Miami and meeting with a two-hour gauntlet of executives, they didn’t pan out.  And so the search continues…

Uber

What has kept me afloat during this not-so-free time (along with my quickly dwindling Japan savings) is a “rideshare” aka personal taxi service called Uber.  I won’t go into heavy details about how it works because you can easily google that.  Essentially Uber makes your own personal vehicle into something similar (but better) than a taxi.  You pass a pretty thorough background/driver/VIN number check, fill out some forms and in just over a week or so you are ready to take riders.  I’ve been doing this relatively full-time and though the money is decent, it’s not something I would make a career of (watching my car mileage climb this quickly is a bit bothersome.)  That said, ninety percent of the people who get in my car are pretty great people.  I’ve got some great stories (some of which I will recount in future posts) and I’ve met one or two exceptional people that may or may not permeate outside the realm of the Uber tales.  My friends often tell me I’ve done everything, well this is another thing I’ve done to add to this list.  If I feel so inclined I might share the stories of the recent semi-orgy a group of six (not counting me… I only got to drive and witness) had in my car, or the adorable nurse that continuously apologized for her hiccups, or maybe the fifty-something drunk man that was petting me and calling me his best friend…  Or maybe I’ll tell you something newer.

Other than mine being silver, that is my car.

Other than mine being silver, that is my car.

In the meantime, shameless plug:  If you’ve never used Uber before and want to give it a shot, download the app and in the promo code enter: P9W5KUE.  It will give you your first ride (up to $20 – only if you’ve never used Uber before) free, but the driver still gets paid.  Likewise if you’re considering driving for Uber use that as a referral code and you get a bonus after so many trips (as do I!)

Regardless, stay tuned, I have lots of material.

Ramadan

As of this writing, I am two days away from the halfway mark of this year’s Ramadan.  To answer your immediate questions: No, I’m not Muslim. -and- Yes, it means that from first light to sundown every day I do not eat anything, drink anything or partake in any.. debaucherous activity.  Thoughts are supposed to remain clean and peaceful too.. (fortunately that’s more of a guideline or I’ve failed consistently every year.)  For more back story as to why I participate in Ramadan, I invite you to visit the blog a few of us used to contribute to during this time: https://alegriabalancocascata.wordpress.com/

I haven’t written there this year, but if you start from the beginning (The most recent post shows in the front page, I suggest you navigate to the first post in the archives) you’ll get a good indication of the “why”.  Naturally you’re welcome to ask me questions here as well.  Rather than post to that site, I will likely write about notable aspects here and either reblog or re-post them there if I feel the need.

This looks good anyway... imagine it after sixteen hours!

This looks good anyway… imagine it after sixteen hours!

This year is interesting as I’m primarily nocturnal while driving for Uber.  At first thought one would think that Ramadan fasting would be easy because of this.  However, while I do believe I am having an easier time than my good friend Leslie (in Japan) as a result of my schedule, the very short hours of night time compared to the very long days of Summer mean that at least 50% of my awake time is during the fast if not more.  Comparatively speaking though, she has a tough teaching schedule all day that requires a great deal of focus and awareness, two things that are easily compromised by prolonged fasting.  I can’t complain in comparison to that!

But with that said, for me, a major realization this year is that sleeping the second half of your fast makes waking up, and getting out of bed much more difficult.  Keep in mind the fasting hours now are between fifteen and sixteen hours (literally the longest days of the year,) so though people normally fast for (hopefully) eight hours or so by sleeping,  I’m waking after roughly double that having had nothing.  Think extreme lethargy and zero motivation.  Then remember that as time goes on, the effect amplifies through the wear on your body.  Suffice to say much coffee was had after breaking the fast at sundown.  The other aspect I didn’t think about is when I stay up all night for work, start my fast, and continue to operate into the day as I am today.  The effects of fasting + all-nighter hours are a bit rough to say the least.  But then a large part of this is the learning experience, and I am learning a lot.  More on this and the second half of Ramadan later.

What’s Next

Like clockwork, Martial Arts University is right in the middle of Ramadan this year (aka Tomorrow.)  For those of you that don’t know, I have been involved in Martial Arts for nearly a decade now (with some breaks here and there.)  MAU (for short) is a five day long testing / seminar series that takes place at a camp in Greensboro, NC.  I spent many years serving as the assistant to the Grandmaster who presides of this event, and I’ve been asked to attend by a specific master that I look up to and owe on some levels.  Since I will be traveling, I will break my fast while I am gone and make up the days at a later date by feeding the less fortunate of fasting extra days after the Eid holiday that ends Ramadan.

Like a bos... err.. black belt.

Like a bos… err.. black belt.

When I return from MAU it will be back to Uber and back to finding the next step.  So the interviews didn’t work out, that just means I keep looking for the next ones.  I am fortunate enough to have had savings and a support structure that allows me to supplement with something like Uber and not be forced to sacrifice the quality of life that I’m used to. I have also been getting better and better at managing my time with a very irregular schedule.  That means it’s not going to be several months before the next post.  So in order to keep this at a readable length I’ll draw the line here.  There are many more adventures and “wisdom” to come.

PS:  I took a look at my readership and was pleasantly surprised to see it’s not only been consistent, but has even spiked more than a few times in my absence.  Good to know my writing has some staying power! THANK YOU to all my readers… I don’t know what you’re getting from my rants, but I appreciate the time you spend here regardless!