The Meaning of Christmas

When you’re a kid, the days leading up to Christmas are full of wonder and anticipation, and you eagerly await that time when the gifts under the Christmas tree are finally handed out to the recipients and you tear open those packages with such enthusiasm and disregard for the effort put into wrapping it.

As an adult, the days leading up to Christmas are filled up with days of overtime as you struggle to meet year-end targets, constantly having to attend gathering after gathering, and worrying about whether you’ve gotten the right presents for people.

In my case, since people should be well aware by now that I am pretty much an incompetent shopper, they know better than to expect me to get them something nice (if at all). Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly generous. If you ask me for something as a Christmas gift and I could afford it, you would most likely receive from me a gift-wrapped bundle with said gift. But to expect me to be able to think up a gift for you by myself? You would be placing too much faith in me.

The above explains why I’m also hardly excited about Christmas presents anymore – I don’t expect them. People are great in that they give you stuff, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if someone chose not to get me a gift; even someone close to me, like say my parents. Not that they ever fail, mind you. I’m pretty sure every year I get at least one new article of clothing. Which is good because otherwise I’d never get any new clothes at all.

I’m not saying I’m a scrooge by the way. I like Christmas, I still do. But it’s no longer the gifts that I enjoy. It’s the festive mood that it brings out of people. The priest at Mass today that we Filipinos are the best in the world at celebrating Christmas, and that’s a fairly good exhortation. People here change in December, even the grumpy ones who don’t particularly like holidays and festivities and socializing (I’m partly guilty of that – I’m no social animal) I think that’s a lot better than presents any day of the week.

I Wish I Had Something Snazzy To Say About The New Year

…but I just want to see what happens now.

The transition from the last year felt a bit strange to me. Usually, the new year is a time for letting go of the past, and looking ahead to a whole new future. That so perfectly described the end of the last year, as things changed around me and just naturally fell into positions where I would be able to leave them behind. Things changed, things I had known for a long time and taken from granted.

I look forward to the coming year. A new beginning I suppose. I hope it’s interesting at least.

They Don't Know What They're Missing

I’m pissed off.

Today I went to Ortigas for a job interview with a nameless IT company where my cousin Rachel works. I was quite optimistic too — the position was for a “Java Trainee.” I was more than willing to be trained, and a trainee position meant you didn’t have to be proficient in Java right? Turns out I was wrong. =( Apparently they needed someone with some experience in Java, preferably with a project or two under his belt. I tried to convince the interviewer that I had a lot of raw talent and learn pretty fast anyway, but I haven’t got any high hopes. That pissed me off.

Even worse, I had gone to Ortigas with just enough cash to make the trip back and forth. I had left a good two hundred bucks at home ‘coz I forgot to pick ’em up and put ’em in my wallet. I was thinking of trying out the arcade version of Capcom vs SNK 2, maybe buying a CD or two. But no! Now I couldn’t even grab a bite on the way home. That pissed me off.

Later that night, my mother was watching “While You Were Sleeping”, and I was feeling so depressed I was wondering what would happen if I ended up like Sandra Bullock at the start of the movie — alone, and working a dead end job as a ticket seller. Sigh

It’s not just the fact that I’m still unemployed — it’s been a good nine months now and I’ve kinda gotten used to that. It’s the realization that despite whatever work I’ve done in school, I can’t get a job. It’s as if everything I learned in college was useless.

When I was finishing up in UP, everything seemed simple — I’d graduate and all my troubles would be over. I’d get a job at maybe Canon or Intel, save a bit, buy a new computer and a PS2, et cetera. To tell the truth I was probably spoiled by those teachers that kept telling us that simply being graduates of the State University was good enough to land a job. I ought to sue those teachers for mental anguish or something. I graduated from one of the hardest course at one of the best universities in the country, and I can’t land a job. Gosh darn it all.

After thinking about this, I thought I’d evaluate my own skills to see what could be done. Lemme see, I can do:

  • Embedded software. Since I did two thesis-level projects involving embedded software, I reckon I’m fairly good at this. The problem is that I’ve only come across one job opportunity where this skill would be useful, and I never got a callback (and
    I thought it was a pretty good job for me too.)
  • Programming. This would be great, until I acknowledge that while I’m a programming genius, I don’t actually have any application-level programming experience under my belt. I’m good a coding, optimizing programs, finding solutions to tough problems, but I’ve never been part of a large-scale software project, even though I could probably do it all myself, in theory.
  • Web Development. I know HTML and various scripting languages, can use Macromedia Dreamweaver and Flash, what can’t I do? The problem comes up again: I know it all in theory, but lack the experience. It’s not like I’m churning out webpages at a dime a
    dozen, and most places looking for web developers ask for some level of experience. Curses.
  • Write. Or at least I like to think I can. But it doesn’t sound very profitable to be writing for a living…

Sigh, that’s it. Pretty sad, huh? The main problem seems to be most of what I can do is self-taught and relies on my raw talent instead of actual experience. What is it with the world? Why can’t they just recognize my genius and overlook my lack of experience? I learn impossibly fast anyway, anything I don’t know I can pick up quickly. Argh.

Oh well, at least now I feel better, having put my thoughts into words. This journal thing is probably really healthy for me. I get to whine without burdening anyone with my problems.

There’s still some hope, at least. Sir Louie, the ECE guy Tito Ferry set me up with, said he’d ask around, although he did recommend I learn a few more skills by taking some short courses at APC, an IT school near SM North. I’m a bit hesistant about that though — short courses will undoubtedly cost money, and I don’t want to bother my parents about cash any more than I have to. It’s bad enough I can’t help them make ends meet…

Anything else? Lately we’ve been watching Excel Saga (ridiculosuly funny! Pedro!!!) and Scryed. AXN is showing two new anime series: Ayashi no Ceres and Gensomaden Saiyuki. And they brought back Monday night anime, so more anime all around. Oh yeah, the A/V cable for our PSX is apparently busted. Which probably explains why I got rather pissed off today. Just when I was gonna get adult Rei back into the party! Without the PSX to distract me, I had no choice but to face my real-world problems

=(

In any case, I guess I have no choice but to keep going and hope for the best. I got a nice quote today from Castaway, from Tom Hanks of all people:


“I know now I have to keep on breathing. Because the sun will rise tomorrow, and you never know what the tide will bring.”

Interview With Texas Instruments

Sometimes my still being unemployed depresses me greatly (Although my periods of depression typically last no more than thirty minutes.)

The biggest problem in my job-hunting woes is the fact that the type of job I want varies greatly from what I have training in. I want to be involved in IT or programming, but I don’t have a lot of the skills necessary to succeed in those fields. I will probably always regret not shifting to Computer Science or even Computer Engineering early on in college. If I had I would’ve probably had a much easier time.

In any case, I’m going for an interview with Texas instruments on Friday. The job is not an optimum one for me — I don’t really want to work as a product engineer although I am qualified. (Heck the chances of my being accepted are probably too small for me to even consider — I have the requirements but I’m sure a lot more qualified people will be applying. I’ll have to wow ’em with my incorrigible attitude). But the pay is probably good, it involves overseas training and if I get accepted it’ll mean I have something to do in the meantime as I try to earn the skills needed for a job that I _would_ enjoy.

Hopefully the TI guys never read this. O_o

Jobless: Is there even any hope?

I stood there wordlessly, inching my way through the unending mass of people. There must have been several hundred people crammed into less than two hundred square meters of mall area, interspersed with some twenty cubicles filled with various displays and banners. What madness is this you ask? What product could be so enticing that hundreds of otherwise sane people to participate in such a gathering, jostling for space and risking being elbowed, stepped on or maybe even pick pocketed? The answer was employment. That most important symptom of security that people crave especially in tough times such as these.

Yes, my friends, it is a job fair. Hopeful job-seekers from all over the capital converge upon this establishment in the commercial district and hope to find gainful opportunities in these otherwise difficult times. I am one of such hopefuls. Weaving amongst the crowd and perusing various company paraphernalia, I search for the perfect job for one of my skills.

Here’s one, an engineering job, sounds promising. Oh, it’s in Bulacan, a good three hours away from home. No thanks. Hmm, there’s an opening in this Japanese company. Wait, I already applied for that a couple of months ago. How about a teaching job at some technical college? No thanks, there are better schools out there for me to teach at.

I chuckle at my own audacity. For someone who had been unemployed for a good six months now I was being extremely picky. How many job applications had I botched over the past six months? At least three that sounded promising. And for no apparent reason aside from the vague “I wouldn’t like it there” or “It’s not the right job for me.” Sometimes I wonder what it is I really want.

Or maybe that’s the problem. For someone who spent the last few years of his engineering studies whining about how he should have shifted to another course, I had no real idea about what it was I wanted to do. Well, no practical idea at least. I know I eventually want to work in interactive entertainment software (read: computer games), but that’s not really a plausible option right now. Aside from that, nothing. I have no idea where to go or how to get there.

I know I need a job. Heaven knows I’ve sponged off my folks long enough. But what job? I look at the hordes of people applying for boring, everyday office jobs and I shake my head. I don’t want to end up some office drone who can’t break out of his routine. I don’t want a job that is tedious and boring. I don’t want to be some staff engineer doing the same things day in and day out. I want to learn, I want to be challenged, I want to expand my horizons. I want a job that’s exciting, constantly unpredictable, a job where being unable to adapt can only cause disaster. I don’t want a job that asks me to be tied down for two to three years. I hardly have enough attention span for a semester of classes, how could I stand being in the same job for several years? I don’t want a job that’s mundane, mediocre or ordinary. I want something different, something exciting, something that amazes people when they ask.

Maybe I’m being unrealistic or a bit too idealistic, as is common for me at times. But I remember one time when I asked one of the guys I went to college with what he was planning to do after his studies. He said something about joining a big company and rising up the corporate ladder. What kind of dream is that, to be someone else’s employee? And this was someone who would later on graduate with honors! I would rather be self-employed, risking my own money on a venture that may or may not succeed. If you fail, then you try again. At least you rise and fall through your own decisions, your fate belongs to you, and not to some anonymous board of directors.

Alas, that’s not possible for me right now, not when I don’t have a shred of cash. And until I do, I am left with little choice but to undergo some mind-numbing mundanity of a job. Gainful employment is a necessary evil for now, so onward I march, ever searching for an ideal job that will tide me through until such time that I find the means to take my destiny into my own hands. My time will come, someday.