Sometimes I stop myself from posting things here because they seem so terribly mundane. I suspect nobody is really interested, so I don’t post them.

That feeling is actually the source of the name of my site. This is “The Pretend Blog” because way back when I started on LiveJournal I suspected nobody was reading what I had to say. I would pretend to have a blog and keep posting things anyway. I still suspect I don’t have much of a readership. If I want that to change, I need to give more to read!

Mundane things have been moving right along.

Went to a meeting this morning with some folks at my kiddo’s school to discuss how things are going and where they hope she lands with her education by the end of the year. She’s having a great school year so far – they even asked her to be the “newscaster” for morning announcements each day because she communicates so well. I’m really proud of her.

Got to spend some time hanging out with friends this past weekend. That helped. Being in the land of the jobless is not easy. This week has been more difficult than the past couple so far. I am much more a creature of habit than I would have thought. Perhaps this is just the shake up my creativity needs? I can certainly say that questions like “how many golf balls fit in a bus?” during interviews will drive a certain level of creativity.

My favorite thing from the past few days was the chance to get together with this year’s group of exchange students. I haven’t let my lack of job interfere with my volunteerism. I am still an area representative with the Youth For Understanding exchange program. I had the chance to meet and chat with students between 15 and 18 years old from all over the world. Estonia, Brazil, Japan, Germany, Ghana, Spain, Italy, Mozambique, Korea and Denmark all got representation at the big post-arrival meeting we had Sunday. Talking with these students was absolute fun. They’ve always got something to say and they always have interesting views of what America is like from an outsider perspective. We spent time going over cultural differences, language barriers and other important things like what is good music and what are great food dishes we should all try. I told them that food and music are great ways to start a conversation with anyone they’re trying to get to know. I personally find this “discussion” of food to be tremendously entertaining: Americans Taste Exotic Asian Food

See what you think. Food is always a great discussion topic, right?

More to come…


My blog here has been neglected lately, and it shouldn’t be. There’s been an awful lot going on – but isn’t there always?

I posted the following on social media, but somehow forgot to post it here:

This is probably going to be a long post, so if you’re into the short version I’ll start with that:
I got laid off last Friday. I have no job.
Now that we’re past the short part I’ll go a little more into things. Probably not a ton, but enough to maybe answer some questions that might pop up. I waited a couple of days before I said anything just to be certain I had some clarity. I have told a handful of folks in person before this, but not many.
No, I had no idea this was coming. Neither did my direct supervisor. He actually called me on Monday to apologize and offer a recommendation if needed. Two of the guys I worked with also offered recommendations if needed.
Yes, as far as I know I will get unemployment benefits after the 2 week waiting thing. I don’t really know much about it – any other time in my life I’ve moved directly from one job to the next. I’ve always had something lined up. This is all new to me.
Am I angry? I’m more disappointed than anything. There’s a part of me that is, but I’m really doing my best to focus and move past this. I’m not going to toss rage fueled statements out here or start playing conspiracy games about reasons and persons to blame. I’ve got thoughts and theories, but they’re just that. Airing them out just isn’t professional, so if I intend to continue to be a professional I should figure a way to get through this.
How does this change ______? I left that blank on purpose. There are a lot of things that will change because of this. One thing I don’t think will change substantially will be me. I am not my work and my work is not me. Yes, I like(ed) my work but it was just that ~ work. I’m going to be pulling back on a lot of things and staying close to home. The less I spend the better off we’ll be if this lasts more than a couple of weeks. I am really upset about the fact that once again a planned family vacation will be screwed up by my work crapping out. It’s happened more than once and it deeply frustrates me. I want to be able to give that kind of experience to my daughter and not always be caught up in “sorry, daddy’s work isn’t paying him again”. That’s the part that *really* pisses me off.
Enough of that line of thought. I have updated my resume and already have a half dozen leads. I had 3 of those leads the very next morning, just as soon as some folks heard I was available. I’m optimistic about the whole situation but not too hopeful. I’m not going to run and jump at the very first thing that pops up on my e-mail. I want the next step to be right.
Hopefully this covers the questions that might pop up. I have had the chance to chat with a few friends and they have all been extremely supportive. I appreciate that. It sucks, but I’ll land on my feet.
So – anybody hiring?

Today marks 2 weeks since I was laid off from my day job. I told myself I was going to pretend that I was actually a full time writer while I’m looking for new work. That hasn’t really worked out so far. The “work” of looking for a job seems to be devouring a significant amount of time – as it should – but has also been draining. I believe I’ve gotten a handle on things around the house and intend to start getting things in my creative world back in order.

What kicked this actually getting back to the creative change off? One of the coolest feelings I’ve had in a long time – I got a royalties statement from the publisher (and yes, it included money for me!). I think I could get used to a schedule like I have now. I know I’ll need to get back to my day job here very soon – but so far this hasn’t been terrible. Changes / transitions are a difficult thing. I’m hoping this one works out for the best.

War and Art

Being part of the military is an intense experience. Despite the time I served being less than 4 years in total, and never in an active combat zone, the things I witnessed and the things I did have affected me in ways that have lasted more than twenty years. I have some sad and some funny anecdotes from the various exercises, training missions and trips over seas. These stories go along with a handful of items, the artifacts and photos of that time in my life. These things bring memories and emotions along with them each time they come out of storage.

Memories when attached to pictures and small objects have a startling clarity. Even with clarity and a deep imagination, I fail to grasp the depth and connection of what the soldiers who served as part of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops from WWII have when they look at their art.
I am behind the times catching up with the documentary showing the amazing work these artists, these engineers, these soldiers did under the undiluted pressure of the Nazi war machine. Knowing the load of stuff any soldier is asked to carry these true artists were also certain to have pen or pencil and paper with them too. Sketching the war, but also crafting an amazing deception.

If you are an artist and you think from time to time, “I just can’t work under these conditions” or “well, this would be a better picture if I had the right tools” you should definitely take a peek at these inspirational artists. Imagine this quote, “…we were sleeping in hedgerows and foxholes, but nothing kept us away from going someplace to do a watercolor…” They certainly worked under conditions most artists wouldn’t. Being a soldier and being an artist are not mutually exclusive pursuits.

Take the opportunity to catch the film The Ghost Army, I highly recommend it.

Other Links:


The Atlantic