What’s next.

Aside

“If you’re going to be the death of me, that’s how I want to go.” – Panic! At The Disco, Collar Full.

No relation to what I’m going to write about(probably. You never really know how it’s going to end, when you’re at the start of a blank page) – I was just listening to the song. Panic! At The Disco’s new album is out! And it’s just as much joyous fun as their other albums! I’m happy.

I like the line. Everyone’s played that game, haven’t they? “How would you like to die, if you had the choice?” I like the idea of being able to choose your own death – being happy about it. It’s the one thing about life that’s inevitable – the one thing a person can say is their destiny.

The one thing we really don’t have any choice about.

And I love the idea of facing something there’s no choice about and dealing with it on your own terms, in your own way. Of facing down the universe and telling it that your life is yours, no matter what. Brings to mind those awesome Bon Jovi lyrics – “When the world gets in my face, I say – [beat, beat] ‘Have a nice day'”

I am wandering far, far away from the original intent of my post, but I’m okay with that. I tried doing this yesterday, when the feelings and thoughts were fresh in my mind, but it just wasn’t working, at all.

I was applying for jobs, yesterday.

For those who aren’t aware(specifically because when asked what I do, it’s easier to just say ‘student’ than to get into this), college has – once again – fizzled out. I failed to attend the minimum amount of classes necessary to be able to write my exams. This being like.. my third chance at trying this and failing, I’m thinking that it’s probably best to put college on hold until it’s something I can pay for myself.

Having decided that, I was faced with the uncomfortably large question that follows all life even conclusions – “What next?”

People who have actually graduated from college have this made a lot easier for them – I’m not saying they get things handed to them, but there are programs in place – college placement and the like, things that try to make the transition from student to employee as smooth as possible. Plus, they have a degree, which gives them access to a larger amount of jobs than they could have had before, which was the entire point of those three, four, five years of college they went through in the first place. However, when your college days end because you have, once again, simply failed to get to that magic day at the end with robes and square hats and nostalgic Facebook status updates flying about everywhere – well, then that big “What next?” has a harsh accusatory glare that seems to be implying rather heavily it’s just itching to give you a stern lecture about responsibility and acting maturely.

So I did what any self respecting youth would do when faced by a stern glare and an upcoming lecture about acting responsibly – I completely turned my back on it and joined the circus!

Well, alright, not a circus – it was a theater production group called Barking Dog whom I owe another long blog post to – but close enough to be able to make lame circus jokes about. I was involved with them for.. a couple of months. I’m bad with dates and stuff(I relied on school and college semester to keep track of months for me, so now I’m lost in a mostly calendar-less world(although I do know that Halloween is coming up in… a certain number of days! Yay!)). But even that ended, and though I’m… reasonably sure… somewhat sure… alright, mostly uncertain but still the teensiest bit sure – that I’m going to be able to work with them again, they’ve taken a three month hiatus after their exhausting work on the Green Room Project.

Which will get a later blog post.
Really.
Would I lie to you?
Or tell you I’m going to get something done and then procrastinate it long enough that you just stop waiting entirely?

I’m sensing doubt creeping up in your mind – I WILL DISTRACT YOU WITH BEAUTIFUL ARTWORK!Image

Robson Borges, everyone! The amazing, astounding, astonishing Robson Borges!

Now, with no more Green Room Project to drag my attention from the big “What next?”, it began hounding me, relentlessly. Which is why, when my friend Pavi(read her blog! asbeesgeometry.wordpress.com) linked me to a job application… I applied.

Doom.

I’ve avoided really applying for jobs for.. well, pretty much ever. The last – and first,actually – job I had I got into only because of that gigantic “What next?” and it didn’t really work out so well. I’m not cut out to be a primary school teacher, let’s leave it at that. I’ve had two internships – which I breezed through rather quickly without really seeing if I could turn ’em into paying gigs. And there have been these things from all over – all over – you know how they are.

“So, you’re interested in writing? I know this company that’s looking out for a content writer”

“This website is excellent when it comes to finding jobs, you just fill out a resume and get some experience working in what interests you”

“Aunty’s looking for someone to help around with her suchandsuch business..”

“I need this person here to be… taken care of, if you catch my meaning.”

And I’d brush ’em all off with a “Yeah, sure, I’ll take a look at it. Sounds interesting. Maybe” (except for that last request. I just turned and ran. Turned and ran and never looked back). So I applied to the one my friend linked me to. It’s a pretty cool job, actually. Heck, it was my dream job from ages 12 to 16, only abandoned because it was just too good to be possible. And seeing as I’ve not heard back from them yet, apparently still isn’t but just listen – I’d be a scriptwriter for games. None of the actual programming and animation work needed, I’d just be sitting with the guy who did that and giving him the plot for the game, ideas of what he could do, turn a client’s concept into an actual game – working with concepts alone. A job where I get paid to sit around and say in my serious voice(I have one, guys. Honest!) “Can you make a giant spring? Oh, and enemy pandas you can destroy with lemon pies?”. And they’d be educational games, which were my childhood – I had some truly excellent ones and I really believe that with gaming on the rise, a good education game with an amazing story can truly drag a child into a world of learning that the stale dull overcrowded classrooms of today just can’t.

Alright, The Educational Games of My Childhood gets its own blog post, too!

So I applied for that job. Only, in order to apply for that job, I had to sign into the website that the job application came from(careesma.in, for the curious), and in order to do that… I needed to create a resume.

And right there – right there is everything I hate about job hunting. The resume, then the profile making, then the more extensive profile making I did at odesk.com(I figured, hey, if I’m going to be registered for a site, it might as well be one I’ve actually gotten money from before(I helped a friend with a proofreading job and she paid me! IT WAS SO COOL!)) and the cover letters I had to write to the other jobs I applied for once I’d caught the job application fever(it’s settled down for a bit now, thank heavens)… there was a lot of stuff. None of which was comfortable or easy for me to write.

I’ve always liked the feeling of looking at what’s expected of me and saying “Screw that” and just doing it my own way. Being my own person, no matter what(oh, hey. Look, it does relate to what I was writing about at the beginning of this post after all!). It was enough for me to be happy with who I was, and with the way I did things. My opinion was the only one that, ultimately, mattered to me.

Then you start applying for jobs, and your own self worth matters very little in contrast to how much your potential employer thinks you’re worth. It’s not enough to be you. You have to be what they want. Suddenly I’m worrying about my appearance. About my online presence. Suddenly it’s not enough to have writing flow – I have to wonder if the words show me in a good light. If they show I’m a clear and coherent thinker, with efficiency in words(oh, how I wish..) who’s got enough professionalism to be an instant and awesome addition to the team despite negligible prior work experience. I can’t use words like awesome… seriously, guys, if I start working, I may never get to say ‘awesome’ ever again without wondering if I’m going to get fired for using such a vague adjective.

Every word I write, it fills me with anxiousness. I agonized over every word in the cover letter. As I told Pavi, “Suddenly it’s not enough to Just Be You. You have to really be Just What They Want. Suddenly I’m constantly worried about how messy my profile must seem. I’m literally being judged for money here.”

“Welcome to the Real World” she replied.

Can you blame me for avoiding it for so long?

I mean, I get the logic of it. Of the all the judging. If they’re going to be giving someone money and trusting them to do a job, they need to make sure they hire the best suited person for the job.

It’s just that I can no longer just be the Armaan I’ve always been. I have to re-imagine and re-invent myself for the corporate world. But here’s the thing I loved about dipping my toes into the waters of job application – I don’t have to be a Dilbert-esque cubicle slave.

In appreciation of you reading this far in, here is a Dilbert cartoon!

Image

I don’t have to be that guy. The jobs I applied to are jobs that would heighten, hone, and expand my creativity, not stifle it. I applied for editing, proofreading, critiquing jobs for creative fiction. I found another dream job – I do constant editing for friends, and sometimes online strangers on storywrite.com, and I love the process – and there was a guy offering to pay me for it. I don’t have to change who I am completely. I love writing. I love words, and stories, and creative means of expression. And the world is increasingly becoming a place where one can make a living without having to be shackled to a desk in a joyless company just in order to make a living.

None of these jobs were offering a LOT of money, true… which just means I’d have to work harder at doing things I love, which, since work seems to be an inevitability, since ultra-hard work, in fact, seems to be something I have no choice about.. is the kind of work I don’t mind doing.

“If you’re going to be the death of me, that’s how I want to go”

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Nerdy Fan Excitement

Alright. I have left this off for too long. I need this to become a daily thing – a daily writing thing. I need to be a daily writer. So, so, so – it is 9:43 AM on my computer clock. From now until 10:43 AM, I shall write out words. Continuously. Well, assuming this computer doesn’t freeze up on me(which is tends to do). And I shall do this everyday, for a week. Then we shall see about changing things, perhaps adding some structure to what I’m writing ABOUT. But for now, this blog post has as much chance of being about cucumbers as it does about stories, or comics, or anything that’s been awesome and important to me in the last few days. 
I am, quite honestly, tempted to begin writing about cucumbers for those who don’t believe I have anything much to say about them, especially if I wish to do an hours worth of writing. But a spiteful blog post involving cucumbers does nobody any good, really, so I suppose the Comic Con’s as good a place to start as any. 

Bangalore Comic Con. Bangalore’s second ever Comic Con, and of course, I was there. The Con covered Saturday and Sunday and I was there all day, both days. I had planned costumes for both days, but as the ginormous procrastinator this blog attests to me being, I hadn’t had the second costume ready in time, and the first was… a bit of a shabby mess, let me be honest with you. The best part of my first costume was in fact done by some friends of mine who came as Mystique and Azazel – I was Nightcrawler, and honestly, Nightcrawler’s not Nightcrawler without the tail. In addition, I wanted to paint my eyelids yellow because Kurt has those pupil-less yellow eyes, only I went overboard with the yellow face paint and ended up looking like a fluorescent clown fish. But as soon as my friends got me that tail, boom! Everyone wanted a picture, everyone knew who I was, and I regretted more than ever not having that “BAMF!” poster made. My Venom cosplay didn’t pan out, either, so the second day, I just went as the Amazing Volunteer Man! 
Alright, to be honest, I was merely Adequate Volunteer Man, but if comic books have taught me anything, it’s to use superlative adjectives whenever possible. And comics have certainly taught me that anything is possible, really. 
The limits of possibility certainly didn’t seem to be on the minds of the Con’s AMAZING cosplayers this year, who did everything from stitching their own clothes to crafting their own functional armour complete with glowy lights and mobility.

Lesse, I started writing about it in a notebook here, when the magic was still fresh in my mind – lemme see if I can find it here. 

Ah yes. Here we go. 

“…what I’ll never forget is that feeling of pure shock and awe when you see someone in a cosplay so awesome it literally takes your breath away. Or that feeling when someone puts together such a creative idea you have to run up to them just to tell them how much you love their inventiveness in cosplay. Or, and this is the best one, that feeling when you see someone dressed as a character from something so close to your heart that just by seeing that person you’ve forged that special connection that all die-hard fans have. “

I’m not putting the rest in because I may have gone on a bit about a few of the girls there whose presence.. enchanted me. One had pinwheels in her hair and the brightest, most joyful face you ever did see. If living joyfully was a profession, you could tell that this girl had her Ph.D in smiling with bright shiny eyes and seven years experience in brightening up a room. Which sounds like a line, I admit, and I should be worthy of better lines than THAT if lines are what I am doing, but sh. I’ve already written too much about a complete total stranger who nonetheless made a long, tiring day suddenly not seem tiring at all anymore. 

Bangalore has an amazingly strong fanbase. Not just for comics, but for all kinds of nerdy pop-culture, anime in particular. The dedication you can feel shining of the anime fans(as evidenced by the work they put into incredibly complicated costumes) always makes me feel regretful I can’t bring myself more into the genre, like I’m missing out on something huge – which is not doubt exactly what they’d tell me. Repeatedly. And in as much detail as they can without giving away spoilers which, from what I’ve seen of anime, could be a great many superlative details indeed, because if there’s one impression I get from anime, it’s that nothing’s ever done half way. Or even all the way. The way is left far behind for something for something that’s beyond words and can only be expressed as a grand multitude of exclamation marks.
(hee. and now I’m picturing a grand multitude of exclamation marks gathered in a busy subway station, impatiently checking their watches and carrying skinny little briefcases)

I cannot express enough how much effort people put into their costumes for no return whatsoever(well, alright, there was a costume competition but honestly? Nobody really dressed up just for that. Or even for that at all). People who had worked for months on costumes made from scratch with materials I didn’t even know existed. And then there were people who used a simple concept to just get that one look and they pulled it of just right. A girl dressed as Death, from the Sandman comics, is one that stands out particularly in my mind. I despise myself for not having a camera with me. 

I was mostly selling merchandise at a stall, yesterday – I’m not the world’s greatest salesman, but I am pretty sure I did a decent job. It hurts your heels, standing all day, but that’s really the toughest part. I was not about to try and convince people to buy things I couldn’t afford without at least three months of very clever saving up, but for those interested I answered questions, handed them the merchandise to take a closer look at(a difficult task on the first day, operating with only three fingers) and ran up their bills when a purchase finally was made.

Alright. This is awkward talking about, but I want it out there – to me, nothing is more attractive to me in a girl than nerdy fan excitement. It’s a special look that sees a certain comic book or piece of merchandise or, of course, a cosplay – the eyes light up with the sheer thrill of something that has a special place in their heart that’s now there, in front of them, in a tangible appreciable form. The girl with pinwheels in her hair shone with it. It was all over the con, and my heart went out to every single person in who’s eyes I saw it in. It is that look, that look alone, that Comic Cons were created out of, and aspire to achieve. And did. Man, did they ever. 

It’s 10:36 now. I’m fine with 53 minutes worth – that’s a good a place to end this post as any. 

My Name – History

My name is Armaan.
It is a muslim name, from my mother’s side of the family. I forget whose idea it was to name me that, one of my grandparents, I think. It means ‘wish’.
My parents had been unable to have a child for a very, very long time. They had been trying for a while, until finally Mom joined work at a certain company that offered its employees certain benefits, such as financial benefits for the in-vitro process.
For those who don’t know what that is, let’s just say that all the ingredients needed to make, well, me, were mixed up on a petri-dish, left to grow for a few weeks and then put into my mom, where I grew for nine months before being cut out of her.
And so, finally, at last, after, my parents got their wish – they had a child. And they named him Armaan, for it means “wish”

Letter-Journals – How they work and why they’re pleasant(snappier sounding adjective pending)

Letter-journals isn’t the official name for it. That, I just made up. Still. Here’s how they work –

  1. Buy a notebook. Write the name of one person on the cover. Or inside the cover on the first page. Get as creative as you want about it – paint it in, sketch it up, fancy glitter glue, or go ahead and just write it in big letters if you have no time for any of the above. The point is that this notebook is for one person, and that person alone.
  2. Carry this notebook around with you wherever you go. This notebook is a surrogate person – your friend, your partner, your brother/sister/aunt/uncle/cousin can’t be with you? The notebook that represents them is. Whenever you catch yourself wishing you could talk to them about something, open up your notebook, pen down the date and write down whatever it is you wish to say. If you’re at a place you just know the notebook’s intended recipient would love, sit down with your notebook and describe it to them.
  3. Ignore weird looks from people, and be as polite as you can to the more nosy ones who want to know what you’re writing and if you’re a journalist and do you want to know how to spell their names right? Whatever you do, WHATEVER YOU DO, do NOT ask “So do you spell that with one ‘a’ or two?”
  4. You don’t have to fill the notebook with just writing. You can fill it with anything that fills up a notebook – ticket stubs(Dear X, today, I watched Step Up 4 with my friends, you would have loved it), shopping bills(Dear X, today, I offer tangible proof to your longtime question about where all my money goes), a leaf from a tree under which you had a particularly peaceful afternoon – creativity is always a bonus. The notebook is a gift. Make it as special as possible.
  5. When the notebook is all filled up, mail it. This will be the hardest part, and not just because you have no idea whatsoever how to even find the nearest post office. It takes at least a month or two to fill the notebook up completely, and even if it does happen to take a lot less time(you diligent dedicated hard worker, you), you will have devoted a lot of time and energy to a project that’s based on nothing but how much you care about your intended recipient, and sending it away is like posting off a tiny little piece of your heart. However, if you’re lucky – you get another notebook back, and that more than makes up for everything. It will be one of the most precious things you own.

Aside from your collection of Buffy DVDs covering seasons 1-7, and if you disagree, can I have them?

DNA Internship – Day 1ish

I sit at my desk and assigned computer not completely sure about what it is that I’m supposed to do. I was told to come in at 11:30, and I did so.

Okay, alright, I was twelve minutes late. I’m blaming the auto guy, but in any case I don’t think it would have made much of a difference as a whole. I was told to come in with my article on the exhibition at the Renaissance Gallerie, which I have all typed up and ready on my pen drive which, as it turns out, doesn’t work on this computer. I hate it when that happens. I don’t know why that happens. There seems to be nothing I can do to prevent that happening. I wonder if I should just rewrite the article, since I have all my notes and used them to type out the article while I was eating breakfast this morning. I just really don’t want to write the whole thing again. I liked what I wrote out, it feels like that writing it out again would ruin it.

As more people filter in to the office, I feel an increasing sense of uselessness, remembering that loitering around on the computer is a major failing at.. huh. Come to think of it, it’s a major failing in ALL aspects of my life. At least this time I’m reading articles from the paper I’m working at, learning more about it, what kind of writing they want for the articles that are written, as opposed to endlessly refreshing my Facebook and Tumblr pages and link exploration through the whimsical yet surprisingly informative world of Cracked.com. I should probably work on my article again. Yes? Yes.

Sigh.

 

 

 

Oooh. I don’t have to.

 

I just had to ask someone how it worked. I am now embarrassed, but grateful, and apprehensive as it’s being read and approved or disapproved. Time to take a closer look at my new assignment.

Superman – Secret Identity

Aside

I would like to share with you a story I just finished reading.

It’s a comic book story, and though it’s been less than five minutes since I finished reading it, I’m pretty sure that it – for a long while at least – is going to be remembered as one of my favourite and most cherished comic book stories ever.

It’s called Superman – Secret Identity. It’s not really a Superman story, it’s not set in the regular DC world of superheroes and villains and as many twists to the rules of physics as there are in the plot. It’s set in a regular world, where two ordinary Kents who live in Kansas think it would be funny to name their son Clark. As you can imagine, growing up with the name Clark Kent meant constant ridicule and teasing for the boy who, incidentally, doesn’t even like the Superman comics. One day, though, out alone in the fields of Kansas, a meteor falls… and immediately after, Clark Kent discovers that he has, now, all the powers of Superman himself.

That’s the basic premise for the story, the essential “what it’s all about”. But that’s not what I loved about reading the story – what I loved was the way it was written. Clark Kent was characterized so well, and everything revolves aroundthat – not on his superpowers, or what he does with them, the center of the story is Clark. Kent.

It’s what I’ve always wanted my superhero stories to be like. About the people more than anything else.

Clark is shown as a thinker, and a bit of a loner – not someone who shuns society, but who really prefers the quiet and being alone with his thoughts. The writing, the coloured word boxes(which have replaced thought bubbles in most modern comics, if you didn’t know), and even the art are all quiet, reflective, thoughtful, insightful and, as he gets older, increasingly wiser. Okay, the art doesn’t really get wiser, but it’s certainly quiet and thoughtful sort of art. No bright colours or loud fanfares to put the boom into action.

Also, Clark does a remarkable job of living his own life, making a place for himself in the world and not being defined solely by his superpowers, although they are a big part of him. Most superhero comics fail in this aspect too, but the thing is, I realize, is that regular comic book industries have to cater to their fans, and most fans don’t want to read about their favourite heroes growing old and starting a family. Superman – Secret Identity was a four issue mini-series, the whole thing being in just four parts – so the writer, Kurt Busiek – had a lot more liberty in what his story could be.

I think I look for more humanity in my stories because there is so much about being a person I don’t really know. So I like seeing how different people handle different things. In seeing all the different ways people handle different situations, I find myself – I see moments where one person chooses to do something I would have done completely differently. I see thoughts and opinions I relate to strongly. And I need these things, because there is so much about being myself that I do not know.

Lately, things have been falling into place in just the right places – places that have been empty in me for years. And I finally feel like I’m becoming part of a world and as I see myself there, I see who it is that I am, and I’m proud of me. I’m liking me. And I’m knowing, more surely, day by day, that the choice to like myself isn’t blind egoism. Egotism? Self-centeredness? Nar- there, that’s the one. Isn’t blind narcissism.

I’m going to share with you my favourite page from the story. I don’t always have a favourite page, but in this one, I do. It’s the one that appealed most to me, resonated most strongly with me. You know how you’re listening to a romantic song but there’s that ONE moment, that ONE note or ONE line that strikes the strongest resonant chord within you? This page is like that – I’m reading a story that settles in my mind as a the life of a person doing what he can to find his own, person place in a six dimensioned world(the sixth dimension being feelings. Emotional significance. Whatnot), and this page resonates that in me the strongest.

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It’s the art that catches my eye are first. If I could float, I would so sit cross-legged at night over any city I want to. The words are just part of the flow of the story as the art fills me with joy and that’s-where-I’d-be-ness. Then I see the words and I love them – sitting in a location like that just to ponder about deep philosophical quandaries that define who he is – and he’s already forming ideas on how to write about it. And that’s why I relate to this page so strongly – because that’s me. That’s how I think. It’s how I look at things, and it’s so much of who I am and it’s one of the things I love about being someone who has ink and words flowing through his bloodstream.

At the same time, Clark is different from me in many ways. He’s more grounded than I’d ever be. Far less random and sparky and much less of a dreamer. He’s not into comics at all other than random trivia enforced upon him through his name. He’s up to date on current event and is completely aware of political situations. He plans things in the quiet, smart, well thought out way of plans that actually work the way they’re supposed to, allowing him to balance doing what he wants and doing what he needs and doing what he wishes he really didn’t have to do.

He’s got boatloads of patience, too. I wish I had that. I don’t want to be this Clark Kent, but I sure as hell admire the character.

Of defining relationships

This is in response to my friend’s blog at http://www.tranamotazzy.blogspot.com

She called for discussion – are relationships better defined or left undefined? She was of the opinion that the latter causes complications.

My opinion?

Relationships need to be defined. It’s easy to confuse that with, say, the labelling of a relationship.
Most relationships happen automatically, and are as varied as people themselves are. Friendships, familial relations, teacher-student relations – these are easy to maintain, don’t need a lot of definition, mainly because they’re so casual.

The deeper you go into a relationship, the more complicated it gets – because there are more things to consider. It becomes a LOT more important to consider the other person’s feelings, thoughts, expectations, and communicating your own becomes important because, sadly, nobody’s as good at mind reading as they ought to be.
What needs to be defined are things like what you want out of the relationship, how much you’re going to depend on the other person, how much responsibility you have towards each other.

These are things most people don’t really consider because, honestly, they’ve never really had to.