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.

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…

Social Media and beyond

My most recent hobbies are getting even more interesting by the day and I honestly think that it may simply be a result of boredom. I don’t know about you, but social media has lost its luster. It’s boring. Obviously, I still use social media because of my ventures with books, music, and patches. Social media is a great marketing tool. Outside of that however I have found that social media (facebook especially), is nothing more than a bunch of inaccurate opinion driven memes guided by ones laziness when it comes to checking the actual facts. How have we as a society decided that we are socially and economically relevant and in touch with politics via inaccurate data posted on a photo that we share on social media? I just don’t get it. Half of the articles and memes that I see shared on social media are wrong, either as a silly joke by the person that posted it, or out of ignorance, because the person doesn’t actually know the truth; nor care to.

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Anyway, since I have been finding myself spacing out on my phone less and less via social media I have had a lot more free time. This free time has been getting invested into some old, yet new hobbies. I have always been fascinated with dinosaurs and outer space.

For those of you that know me well, you know that I have already read all of the books by Stephen Hawking. And yes, I read them prior to the movie that came out about his life. Quantum mechanics and astrophysics are awesomely wild and his work in those fields has sparked my imagination. I am half way through reading my second book by Neil deGrasse Tyson. The one I am currently reading is called Death by Black Hole. It has been pretty crazy thus far. On top of this, I also just subscribed to Astronomy magazine and I am half way through reading my first issue already. I will admit one or two of the articles seemed out of place, but the rest of it has been thought provoking goodness.

With all of that said, you have to ask yourself… is social media really all that relevant to your life? Are you staying in touch with the world in this way, or are you just strengthening that one arm by holding your phone to your face all day?

Not only have I been challenging myself to step away from social media outside of promoting my ventures, I have also gotten away from the television. With that, it won’t be long before I don’t have a Netflix account either.

Put down your phone and read a book. Rather than rely on memes that are more than likely inaccurate when it comes to the facts, why not try learning before you develop an opinion? Today’s society is baffling to me. We live in a world where we claim to want freedom, but are content with not actually knowing the truth prior clinging to the ideals that mold us into who were are.

Note: I am in no way implying that I am smarter than anyone else and in fact realize that it is somewhat an oxymoron to be saying these things on my blog since my blog is in fact a form of social media. These are just my thoughts regarding my current state of mind. Good day.

 

Dead people school update: What the Heck? #embalming

Okay, so… I am burnt out on a lot of things right now (mainly my crappy part time job), but school as well. I think the closer you get to being finished, the more you can taste it or something like that. And maybe that is why I am starting to get burnt out. Or, it could be the fact that I have crammed a two year associate’s degree into a year and some change. I don’t know. All I know is that sixteen credit hours per semester is too many and I am tired. The exciting thing though is that I am on the downward slide now!

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That’s right… this coming semester, which starts tomorrow, is the final semester before I graduate and go on to tackle the board exam for my embalming/mortician licenses. Am I overwhelmed by the horror stories of statistics regarding people who pass it verses people who qualify to take it through what is called the exit exam? You better believe it. But I can’t focus on that right now. All I can do is focus on this semester and get through it. Just tackle on thing at a time. After this semester, then… and only then, can I start tackling that exit exam and the boards. Am I looking forward to taking them? No. Am I looking forward to graduating and having my license so that I can get a job doing what I have been striving to do the last two years? Yes. I am almost there. And I can taste it.  I just hope this semester goes smooth and that the exit exam doesn’t give me as much trouble as everyone makes it out to.

Embalming Clinical is finally over #embalming #mortuary #mortician #morgue

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Well, dead people school clinical is finally behind me. It came and went so much faster than I thought it would. During the week clinical was a 5 day crash course on both embalming and restorative arts. I got to make a face from scratch. And my dad, Joe, happened to be my muse for the project. My mom says my sculpture looks sexier. I can see that. As for the embalming portion, which no one wants to see photos of, and that I wasn’t allowed to take photos of for obvious reasons went really well despite my mild anxiety going into it. Going into it I was worried that I wouldn’t meet the clinical requirements, which, by the end of the week I easily did. Also, I was going to be working with dead people. So, there’s that. Creepy! I went into it though with some experience, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected. Your imagination always does that to you, doesn’t it? Make things out to be a bigger deal than they really are.

Anyway, on the first day we had to crack a skull open and one student clammed up tight and didn’t come back. I guess this stuff isn’t for everyone. I loved it. My classmates were genuine people and I feel like I managed to even make a few friends. With that, I only have one semester left before I go on to fight to good old fight against the Board Exams for my license. In the meanwhile… maybe I will get lucky and lock a part time job in this field.

Here is to hoping.

Mortuary Brigade: Vest Patch!

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So, recently I have been on Etsy way more because of my store For the Win Inc. With that, I find myself surfing all kinds of stuff for sale on that site. A lot of it is really cool while some of it is really silly. Well, I came across something epic. There is this company Called PUNKNDEAD that will do custom back patches for your jackets and stuff on the low. So, I had to take advantage of that. My Phantasm vest that I wear has had a negative space at the bottom of it for a little bit. The space hasn’t really been bothering me, but when I came across this Etsy store I had to come up with something cool to put there. And since I am almost on the cusp of becoming a licensed mortician, it just seemed fitting to put something like what you see in the photo. Mortuary Brigade Unite! Anyway, if you like these types of patches, check out that store.