It is official – I graduated dead people school

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Well, kind of…

I actually graduate on the 16th, which is tomorrow. But that is beside the point. What matters is that I got through all of the course work, clinical, and labs with enough credits to call it done. Well, sort of…

Haa… ha… ha.

Everyone is telling me I should be proud of myself for getting this far. For getting it done. Having a degree is such a great accomplishment, this… you should be so proud of yourself, that…

Don’t get me wrong. It feels good to be done. And I am thankful for every single person that helped me get there. My parents. My wife. My fellow classmates. My instructors. Anyway, I think you get the point. But sadly, I am anywhere but done. When you graduate everyone is all like “Yay, you did it. You’re done!”. But the truth is, I’m far from done. I have met countless people in my life who have gotten a degree in one thing or another and they never ended up using the degree. They work in sales and have a computer engineering degree. Or they work at a call center and have a degree in botany. This list just seems to go on and on. People I have met who have a degree and went nowhere with it. And for that, I am far from done. I refuse to be part of the statistic. And in my mind, my degree is useless unless I take it a step further by passing the exit exam which qualifies me to take the boards. Then I have to take it yet again another step further by passing both boards in order to become licensed by the state for mortuary science. Once I have accomplished these things I will then be able to say that very thing; I have done it. It’s finally finished. Until then I still have a huge mountain in front of me. And until that mountain moves I will not get excited like everyone thinks I should.

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One week left until I graduate dead people school

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Holy crap, talk about anxiety to the max! I literally only have one week left before I am done with school (exit exam and boards for my license excluded). That means that next week is finals week. I am totally overwhelmed. I don’t know if I felt like this for every semester or if it is just a feeling that happens to most people since this is the last one. I don’t know. All I know is, I don’t remember feeling this stressed out about finals week in any of my other semesters. I could be wrong. As for the semester and finally having a degree in Applied Science, I do have to say one thing. I never in my life would have thought I would ever have gone back to school after high school. I don’t think anyone in my family would have thought that either. But here I am on the cusp of walking through the torturous terrain to the other side. I am ready to be done. I am ready to have my degree. I am ready to have my license. I am ready to have a full time job. I am ready to have free time again to do things I enjoy. I am ready… heck, here I am sounding like Sponge Bob Square Pants. Anyway, I think you get the idea. One more week! Wish me luck and send out some prayers for these last exams I am about to tackle.

Dreadlocks, dead people school, and future dead people jobs

Okay, so here is the thing. I have had dreads a few times in my life for short periods of time. And have always really loved the look and style of nice clean maintained dreads. With that, I recently had dreads in the form of a bowl cut, but didn’t like how high up the bowl cut was on my head. So, naturally I cut them off and decided to start over with a full head of hair. And now, my hair is a little longer than shoulder length. I have been itching to get them done again. And I told myself I would wait until after my sister’s wedding to do it. Well, guess what? My sister’s wedding has come and gone and now I am free to start my new dread journey!

Or am I? I am, after all, only two weeks away from potentially graduating dead people school… which means I will be on the hunt for a new dead people job. Do job interviews and tacky hair go well together?

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Here’s the thing; I have thought this out in my head for the last two months, wondering if I could get my dread journey started now before graduation. My thought is yes… I can. My mind was made up so much so that I even had a dread creation session scheduled with a local dreadlock specialist for Wednesday of this coming week. My thoughts were simple. Even if I graduate in two weeks it would be another month or two before I pass my boards and start the job hunt as a newly licensed dead people worker. So, in my mind I had it justified. I could go ahead and do the dreads now, giving me about two months of maintenance time to get them looking nice and clean before I suited up for the dead people interview process for job placement.

At least that’s how I felt about it, dread session in three days and counting.

Apparently, my wife and the rest of the world disagree with my logic. Sarah pushed and groaned, insisting I should wait until after I have graduated and gotten a job. Because, you know… being adult means thinking ahead and making decisions that are for the betterment of mankind and all that jazz. With that, I have disappointingly canceled my Wednesday appointment. I guess this means I will have to keep combing my long hair for a while longer.

Combing is stupid.

Throwing P. A. Douglas into the trash for a fresh start

Well, after a little over 5 years of writing horror based fiction I have accumulated a little over a dozen titles under my belt as author P. A. Douglas. And today, I am announcing that I am throwing that literary name in the trash!

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Before I get into it I thought I would recap my experience as a writer over these last 5 years. I first found my passion for the horror genre as a kid. Later in life I began to enjoy reading as an adult. While working at Wal-Mart of all places overnight to save money for a tour van (that Sarah and I used to tour with), I read a lot of zombie books. And well, after my 5th of 6th book I thought to myself, “I could write this stuff”.

So, I did.

While working I jotted notes and ideas for my first book into a notepad. As a result my very first title became released in 2011 at a whopping 90,000 words. It wasn’t a great piece of fiction, but it was mine! I had done it. I wrote a book. With the fire lit I found that I couldn’t stop. I kept on reading the genre and kept on writing as well. I feel that the pinnacle of my career as a horror writer was when I landed a contract with my all time favorite apocalyptic publisher. I had done it. I was in the big lieges. I had reached the top of my genre as an indie author and it had only taken about 4 years to get there.

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So… why then, after all this effort and success am I crumpling it all up and tossing it in the trash?

Yeah, well… that is a good question I suppose. I think it has to do with an accumulation of many different factors. For starters I am currently knee deep in school taking 16 credit hours per semester. And have been for about two years now. As a result that has been two years of not writing or reading much fiction at all; if any for lack of available time. Secondly, because of several other factors that I will mention in a moment, I am in a mental state of mind lately (the past 4 months or so) where I am evaluating what is actually worth my time. Because, let’s face it. Time is a precious commodity. Everyone knows that. So, the question was raised internally; “what is my time worth”?

What exactly brought this question swirling into my mind over these last few months is the real question. It has been an accumulation of several things, like I said already. For one, being in school has given me the itch of learning. I would rather spend my time learning than being entertained with silly nonsense. With that in mind, I have picked up a few magazine subscriptions to things like Astronomy and National Geographic. Also, over the last year I have still continued to read for pleasure. But rather than reading fiction for mere entertainment I have found myself reading educational content. Astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and history  have found their way into m heart and I can’t seem to get enough of them.

Secondly, this world is a mess. As some of you know, I am a Christian. In the last 4 months or so Sarah and I have been attending Calvary Chapel in South Austin. It is a great place that has accepted us as we are. Oddly enough, we joined this group of believers right as they were jumping into the book of Revelations. Kind of ironic when you think about it considering the state of things in America and how outlandish this election was. With those two factors in mind (the teachings in retrospect to the state of our nation), an internal reflection began to take place where I asked myself that question; “what is truly worth my time”? Now, this isn’t some brain wash type of church either. This is a more of the Spirit within the church and within myself toward repentance. So, what does repentance have to do with your books and dropping them in the can? Well, as a Christian I do have to admit that there is some tacky content within my past writings. Rape, sex, murder, language, and so on. Of course, I realize that all of those things can be found in the Bible. I don’t know how to explain it. I’ve just decided that I don’t really want to be affiliated with my work anyone as a Christian. It’s hard to explain. I will say this though; a lot of my work as a fiction writer was done at a time in my faith when I was angry at God. And as a result, the words that flowed across the page were not a reflection of my beliefs. I just feel that our time should be spent educating and being educated. Yes, entertainment is a good thing. With that and the value of time, if and when I start writing again, it will be with those principles in mind.

All I know is, we as a nation spend too much time blinded and numbed by entertainment. We glare at our computers, phones, and televisions, watching the world become worse and worse. All the while pretend in our own minds that posting a positive meme will make a difference. In the end, my body of work as a fiction writer wasn’t part of the solution. It was part of the problem, promoting things I don’t wish to promote.

With that in mind, once I am out of school I do plan to start writing again… under a new name… with a new agenda – to educate, inspire, and encourage, rather than indulge.

We live in a world where World War 3 could very easily be on the horizon regardless of what you believe in. You have to ask yourself, do you want to have spent your life glued to your vices? Or do you want to spend your life thriving for a solution?

And, as a Christian I assume you know what solution I speak of.

wars and rumors of wars: dead people school anxiety #embalming

I am officially half way through my final semester of dead people school. I am both excited and slightly terrified. In roughly 6 weeks I will be at the end of what has been a long and rocky struggle through dead people school. I don’t know about you, but 16 credit hours per semester is just too much. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful to have gone through it so quickly. But, if I had to do it over again I would have taken much less per semester. I am beyond burnt out.

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This week were we live has been rainy and cold. It hasn’t been all that bad considering that it really doesn’t rain here that often. Even still, the rain and cool, cloudy weather has gotten me feeling sluggish. A feeling one does not want to have when they are loaded to the brim with as much school work as I have on top of maintaining a part time job. Before we moved to central Texas I had a part time gig working in my career field. And sadly, since we moved I have had no luck getting my foot in the dead people door. Alas, I decided to give up on that front and just focus on my schooling while working a regular alive people job. It has been going well thus far. I just find it hard to believe that in another month I will be glaring down the throat of my final semester finals (if that makes sense). The reason I am excited is because I am ready to be done and doing work associated to my field of study. The reason I am nervous at the same time, is that the next test after getting my Associated Degree in Applied Science is to pass the exit exam, which qualifies me to take the board exams. That’s right (with an “s”)… there are two exams for the national board which will give me license to work a dead people job in the State of Texas. I hear of wars are rumors of wars. Or better yet, I hear of failure and rumors of failure when it comes to taking them. You want to talk about test anxiety? How about the test to end all tests? The two tests that you have been testing to test since you started taking tests!

Soon… very soon…

Three Months into Patch making

So, may patch store is only a few days away from being a total of 3 months old. So far it has been a wildly unexpected ride. For the Win Inc is not only still in its infant stage, but it has grown so quickly. In this short three month period I have already made close to 400 sales… many of which were multiple patch orders. These patches have gone everywhere you can think of. Hong Kong, just about everywhere within the States, Canada, Australia, Africa, and Brazil just to name a few. I am talking everywhere. It is crazy to think that my designs are spreading across the globe like this. It has been a lot of fun. Currently, in a few more weeks I will have 4 new designs, which takes my total to 20 designs. That’s right… in under 4 months I will have made 400 sales, created and printed 20 designs, and covered most of the globe. That is wild if you ask me. The cool thing is when people share photos of their patches with me to show that they enjoy them as much as I do! Honestly, I don’t know what the rest of 2016 has in store for For the Win Inc, but I do know what the next month or two is going to look like. I have decided to take it a little slower for a few reasons. One, with Christmas coming, the store will be getting more traffic, so I wanted to focus on what designs I already have. And two, my finals for this semester along with the board exams to graduate dead people school are coming up at the end of this year. With that in mind a lot of my attention will be on other things besides designing new patches. In the meanwhile, I plan on focusing more on social media promotion for my existing products, as well as maybe updating the listings for better search engine results. Anyway, enough rambling. Patches!!! The first three months has been better than expected.

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Phantasm Exhumed and patches #phantasm

Okay, so I am a super huge fan of 80’s horror. One of my all time favorite movie series which first released in the late 70’s and ran into the early 90’s with a total of four movies, called Phantasm, is one of the main reasons I am in school to become an undertaker. The main antagonist in this series of movies, The Tall Man, is a mortician who is out to take down the entire world. It’s pretty much the best thing every. Anyway, I made a patch to commemorate the movie series. And then, literally a week or two later a 5th movie for the series popped up by total happen chance. One, I am dying to see the 5th movie because it has all original cast members. And two, it was perfect timing considering my patch just came out.

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Well, it gets even better. Author of Phantasm Exhumed the book and the Phantasm Archives website fell in love with my patches! He bought half a dozen and even went a step further to showcase me on the site. How cool is that? The funny thing is… before this dude, Dustin McNeil ever even reached out to me I was licking my chops at his book on Amazon. Small world my friend. Small world.

Anyway, check out the Phantasm Exhumed Archives website as well as the book! If you love that series like I do you don’t want to miss out. I am still sitting here waiting on them to release a 5 movie complete DVD set. Hopefully it releases soon.

The Reasons I quit my job at the @DollarGeneral

First of all, let us enjoy the fact the Dollar General is so bad to both its employees and customers that there are literally countless meme’s and terrible reviews (See a list of links at the bottom of this post for reviews given by previous employees). I was surprised how easy it was to find so many.

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First off, I recently got a job at the Dollar General as a part time key holder. This essentially means that when the manager isn’t on duties, that I am basically in charge (within reason). With said key I could open the store and handle almost any customer related issue on the register. I could sit here and rant about this job for hours, so I am going to do my best to keep it short and just highlight some of the great moments I was able to share with my management and fellow co-workers.

That one time when someone took a dump in the middle of the store (not down an aisle, but literally the middle of the store; full blown grown up dump). Or the time that someone came in, got totally naked and changed into a new set of clothing off the rack. How about the time that a customer bought $50 worth of groceries to turn around and have me refund the entire thing while I had a line of waiting customers, just so that they could use the receipt I just gave them to get $5 off when I rang it all back up again for them right then. Needless to say, the customers at the Dollar General are some classy people. But the fun doesn’t even begin there. It truly begins with the management.

I should have known something was fishy when it took 3 weeks for them to process my application and get me working (something I had to bug them in person to accomplish). After my first day on the register (only about 3 hours of training), I was given keys and was told to open the store by myself with no training. Then almost got written up for doing it wrong. When told to close, I was insured that my manager would be there in person to train me. And when they didn’t show it was my fault that it didn’t get done correctly. Any time I had an issue with the computers, customers, or a vender, I was on my own. Why? Because my manager never answered his phone. I actually had to have a vender train me on how to check them in. On top of that my manager was never on time (late by several hours on most days) leaving me in the store beyond my scheduled hours. I eventually just started going home when it was time to clock out. In one week I watched my manager miss a total of 5 scheduled interviews, 3 in one day, that he personally scheduled.

Honestly, I can sit here and write for a long time, but I will just end with this…

The last conversation I had with my manager was regarding a trip to the bank every day as a key holder. I was told that there were no instructions or training needed. Just take the money to the bank. How hard could that be? My request was to set up a system on the computer (which I knew existed) that would track my millage for these trips so that the store would reimburse me for the trip. His response was that he hadn’t been trained on how to do that part of the job task, which blew my mind. There is apparently no training for something that he hadn’t been trained to do yet. So which is it? Training or not? I couldn’t help but laugh, because I was told the training that did exist… didn’t exist because it hadn’t been trained yet. What???

I am a hard worker and this last Saturday I worked the equivalent of about 15 pallets of merchandise to turn around and open the store this morning with a micromanaged list of “termination or else” written at the bottom. The best part of the list wasn’t even the fact that half of it hadn’t been given training on yet… but my manager’s suggestion that he would walk the store with me at the end of my shift to make sure I did everything on his list.

I am sorry dude, but you have to show up on time for that to happen. You have been on time less times than I can count on one hand since I have started working there. And somehow I am the reason things aren’t getting done.

So… my job was threatened by a man who doesn’t even fathom the word punctuality. But who am I to throw stones? I was just a part time key. All of these other employee reviews clearly don’t speak the truth either. I was part of the problem and not the solution apparently. It is a sad day in America when your employer doesn’t recognize hard work. I am a full time student and I am sorry, but my grades come first.

Click to read some other employee thoughts #1.

Click to read some other employee thoughts #2.

Click to read some other employee thoughts #3.

Click to read some other employee thoughts #4.

Click to read some other employee thoughts #5.

The best one for last, a freaking tumblr page called Dollar General Mayhem!

And after speaking with the regional manager this morning, her response was “yeah, it’s like this at every Dollar General”. Wow… all I can say… is WOW!!!