It’s been a month since I landed my first job, working graveyard shifts on the logistics team of a newly-opened Target. When I started the job, I knew I’d be driving empty three-AM roads each morning, so I thought it would be fun to replace my ipod playlist with nothing but Initial D eurobeat megamixes. At the time, my iPod’s USB adapter was giving me trouble, so I had to move the songs I wanted from my PC to my laptop before I could transfer them to the iPod.
The megamixes were fun at first. They naturally became tiring because all eurobeat sounds the same, and ultrafast music didn’t fit the afternoon return trip the same way it did the morning commute. I wasn’t up for creating a whole new playlist, so instead I dumped about ten dubstep songs and the entire Steely Dan discography onto my iPod without giving it a second thought.
Dubstep and Steely Dan. What a combo. To spell it out: dubstep is what’s hip with the kids these days. Steely Dan is primarily enjoyed by old people and hipsters.
This dichotomy fits me exceedingly well. I still deal with a disconnect between my childish attitude and my increasingly adult life. I don’t fit with either crowd nor identify with either label—which society so often presents as a dichotomy. That this is the soundtrack to my first job is even more emblematic.
Even the job itself exists in this sort of nexus. It’s an entry-level position, but it’s not much of a “first job.” I’m the only person out of nearly fifty on the four-AM team who is working their first job. Most of the team is in their twenties or thirties, but a lot of them have more than one job, and a number of them have families and military history.
I can’t seem to shake this feeling that I’m always the younger, less-experienced guy, who’s just stumbling through life with no idea what the hell I’m supposed to be doing. Because I am. I don’t even know why I have this job. Every time I think about it, my answer is, “I did it for fun.” My rationale beyond that feels somewhat forced. I always feel like I’m not planning to be here long, like I’m just supposed to pop in and pop back out like nothing ever happened. What the fuck am I doing?
With my first paycheck, I bought a slew of microphone equipment so that I could record my voice with better clarity. I have a lot of video and music projects which I’ve long sought to improve through better equipment, but I never wanted to ask my dad for it, because I felt like if I never ended up using it, I’d be that much more of a failure for it. By paying for it with my own money that I worked for, I would appreciate the effort more, and if I failed to do anything with it, then the burden fell on me.
And now I have the equipment. There’s some more equipment I could stand to buy for various things, but that’s pretty much all I need money for. I can keep working and save money like my dad wants me to, and like he seems to have thought I got a job to do, but if I work real hours like I did my first week (in which I got no sleep for days and ended up collapsing before work, missing it without warning and sleeping for 14 hours), I’ll never actually get the time to use my microphone to create my content. How many videos do I need to make, and how many views do they need to get, before I can quit my day job?
I’ve mostly been working three to four-hour days since that initial week. There just hasn’t been as much to do, and I haven’t been cross-training. And I’m okay with that—I learned the hard way that forty hours leaves no time for anything but sleep, and I don’t actually *need* money. I’m okay with being part-time. That said, I was offered to work Thursday and Saturday this week, both of which I had off. When I got this call on Wednesday night, I refused the offer for either day.
I told my dad about having refused the hours on Thursday, and he was baffled, seemingly taken aback at the realization that I wasn’t treating this like a serious job that I needed to do. The next day, I ended up offering to work Saturday, even though I knew that this would ultimately mean I was working five days in a row; but I thought maybe all these short days had been making me lazy, and it was time to get back to work. Plus, I’ve got three days off in a row afterward, which will be very well-earned.
I tend to pass out right when I get home, as I’d done at 8:30 on Friday, and I slept nearly twelve hours (way the hell too many), because I didn’t set an alarm, and after the collapsing incident, my family is intent on not waking me up. In any event, I spent most of the night playing Mass Effect 3, right up until three AM.
All morning, my internet connection had been dead on my PC, but I really wanted to make a quick check of my sites before I started getting ready for work, so I brought over the laptop and hopped online. That’s when I noticed I was eight hours late for We Remember Love’s big farewell post.
Ah, this post. Long, long in the making. Last June, I spent the whole month in the Philippines, living in ghostlightning’s house, hanging out with him, doing everything from exploring Manila to watching mecha anime and writing ridiculously huge blog posts. It remains the most memorable and exciting thing which I’ve ever done.
Ghostlightning and I had discussed, at the time, the possibility of closing his blog on its anniversary the following year, rounding out a four-year run for the site. By that point, he had already said everything major that he needed to say about anime and its culture as a whole. He’d written all of his big, enlightening posts, so all that was left was to round out his exploration of the shows which he felt the need to tackle on a deeper level.
At the time, he was in the middle of episodically blogging Cowboy Bebop, which was the biggest item on his blogging bucket list. There were still a few more Macross posts and Gundam posts to be done, but he’d already covered the bulk of it. All that remained was to tie up loose ends and go out with one last major project: episodically blogging the entirety of Gundam Age. It couldn’t have been timed more perfectly—a fully-fledged, 52-episode Gundam series which would begin and end in almost exactly a year before the blog’s anniversary. Ghost didn’t know if he’d be able to do it, but he did. The show really went through the best and the worst elements of what Gundam had to offer, and was the perfect ocean of pleasant fail to sail through on his last year of blogging.
We Remember Love ended in spirit for me towards the start of 2012. I didn’t watch Gundam Age or participate in its mass of discussion, though I did read a significant number of the posts about it. The series became the last leg of GL’s blogging, with co-writer JoeAnimated stepping in to fill out the rest of the week with his blogging of other shows, which I also did not watch. I already understood WRL to be in its twilight years, with little to offer me personally anymore, but I still felt that it was wrapping up beautifully.
The final post is actually nothing new. It strongly resembles any of his anniversary posts, with modest shout-outs to a few bloggers who strongly influenced him, a list of his favorite posts and comments sections over the years, and acknowledgements of what the blog and its community meant to him. It’s the last in a series of bookends, on four shelves of his blogging archive, each entry surely stamped “Ex Libris Rubio,” like his books at home.
I didn’t realize until I left my comment what I’d accidentally done when I picked up my laptop. It had not appeared to be coming on, so I’d pushed a bunch of random keys, causing it to start playing a song on iTunes. This made me realize that I’d turned the brightness all the way off the last time I used it, and I let the song continue playing. It had been a random eurobeat song, but it was in my iPod playlist.
By the time I was reading ghostlightning’s post, Steely Dan was playing.
God damn Steely Fucking Dan. They’re ghostlightning’s favorite band, introduced to me during my stay with him. He pushed their huge-ass discography on me all at once, though we mostly focused on and talked about Aja, which was arguably most accessible. Within weeks, we were singing Deacon Blues and Peg together while wandering Manila’s endless series of malls, and I was getting into Bodhisattva and Black Cow and Kid Charlemange (“is there gas in the car? Yes, there’s gas in the car!”) while I listened on the little bed he’d laid out for me in the living room.
Steely Fucking Dan. When I came home, I was still singing their songs obsessively—and in public, as I’d gotten used to, though my dad was embarrassed by it at a restaurant and asked me to stop. My renaissance of self-comfort in public has been shaky since.
Nonetheless, I got my brother, Victor, to start listening and singing with me as well. Imagine our surprise when they played a show here on August first, not more than two months after I’d been introduced to them. My dad went overboard and bought us eighty-dollar pit tickets. The pit, which was huge at this venue, had uncomfortable lawn chairs, and no one was standing. I’d been severely bitten by bed bugs at Otakon two nights earlier, and between medication and stifling heat, I was barely able to keep awake. It was still a great opportunity.
Steely God Damn Fucking Brick-Shitting Dan. The soundtrack to my working life, with a little side of random dubstep and eurobeat thrown in. It only just so happened to be on. Just after I was playing Mass Effect 3.
I might never have played the Mass Effect games, since they were so big and controversial, and looked stuffy and boring to me. I’d had a bad experience with Bioware RPGs as a kid (don’t ask), and just wasn’t interested. That said, I was doing a series of videos about action-RPGs, and intended to play as much as the genre as I could. Not to mention a friend of mine had the first game on Steam, so I could play it for free.
And then, of course, there was the fact that ghostlightning had been playing them obsessively for nearly a month. When I started up my playthrough of the first game, he was getting ready to make his third completionist run of the trilogy, and had more to say about it than I was even ready to talk about. I listened anyways, though, because I definitely enjoyed the first game, and was excited that for the first time in a while, we were connecting on something—on a video game, of all things—both the medium and in fact the specific genre that I’ve been exploring for the past four months or so.
Ghostlightning really egged me on to finish the trilogy. He was being a hardass about it, because he’s about as tired as I am of my non-completionist attitude, though these days I’m a lot better at keeping at something when it genuinely has my attention. Mass Effect 2 was a close call—after playing twelve hours of it in one day, I landed my job, and between that and Dungeons and Dragons, I didn’t find time to get back to Mass Effect for three whole weeks.
When I finally did get around to finishing Mass Effect 2, it was on the same day that my brother and I decided to sell our shitty old Xbox 360. Thanks to a deal at Gamestop, we got an amazing eighty bucks for it, but we had to spend that money on the spot. I located Mass Effect 3 on the PC for just twenty bucks and snatched it right up, so that I could go straight from 2 into 3 instantaneously.
Mass Effect 3. Steely Dan. Two things that, to a significant degree, were given to me by ghostlightning. Both are things that I love on my own now, with or without him. I’ve listened to all of Steely Dan countless times, and I consider Mass Effect 2 one of my favorite games. I have and will continue to write about the franchise extensively.
And there I was, typing my comment on the post:
“To think that this is exactly the post we talked about a year and a half ago, in your room. It’s a god damn beauty. If you find the inspiration to write something short and don’t feel like opening a new site already, I’ll house it on my site no problem.
This site was an institution, man. It gets to die beautiful and perfect. We all should be so lucky.”
And as I hit publish, Bodhisattva—the first song that caught my attention outside the Aja album back in the Philippines, which ghostlightning and I sang while we walked through parking garages and across overpasses on an aimless exploration in downtown Makati—was reaching its crescendo.
And my comment, at the time, felt so poignant. Because his blog did get to die so beautiful and perfect, and because we will not be so lucky. I almost edited the comment—I would’ve if I’d had time—to say, “unlike Char.”
One of ghostlightning’s favorite posts is the one in which he assaulted the character of Char Aznable for being such a petty asshole during Char’s Counterattack. While I stayed with him, GL showed me the final scene from the film, in which Char makes a complete ass of himself by continuing to spout his vapid beliefs even after he’s been completely defeated and disgraced by Amuro. These are the final moments of the two pilots, and it really paints Char as this ultimate failure of a person.
I joked constantly during my stay with him that ghostlightning is a “connoisseur of fail,” because he has a disproportionately massive affection for characters who exhibit high levels of fail, and situations which fail, or which lead to fail, and worldviews which highlight and accentuate the fail in characters. I came to appreciate failure on a much deeper level during my time with him, and especially after being fascinated by that particular scene in Char’s Counterattack, and how Char had done so much as a character, even going so far with his level of fail.
I deduced, and ghostlightning agreed, that Char is the most interesting and possibly the greatest anime character to ever exist. I promised that I would write a post about it for his blog, but only in the event that I finished watching Zeta Gundam. I never did either of those things before the end of his blog. This is just part of my own failure.
Which brings me back to my job. I was rather listless going into work today. Early on, I became tired, and I didn’t really know what I was doing there for a little while. I ended up staying later than I intended, and left without telling anyone because I lost track of my supervisors and was scared that I’d get the company in trouble for taking my lunch break too late. I figured they were going to tell me to go, so I took the liberty of doing so. I had a massive headache, drove like a fucking idiot on the way home, and I would’ve passed out and slept all day to top it off, had I not wanted to write this post so badly.
I actually started writing it on my phone before work started. Capturing that moment when I read the last post on We Remember Love was all I could think about on the way to work. I’ve never been very good at writing on my phone, though, so it was messy and riddled with typos, and I figured it was best left to a full keyboard, as always.
I didn’t think about it during work at all, but of course it hit me like a ton of bricks when I was driving home, feeling like hell, and singing along to Deacon Fucking Blues. I haven’t managed to hear this song in the past three weeks and not consider putting in my two week’s notice. It’s like a switch, I swear to god.
But I’ll say this. Not ten minutes after I left that comment, I thought of an idea for a new Mass Effect post which I realized I would need ghostlightning’s help on. Before I even started writing this, I got him on board for it.
To be honest, it’s been quite a while since he and I have had much to offer one-another outside of pure friendship. I don’t come to him for support, because I know that if I fall through on my plans, he’ll already know it’s coming. I don’t want to show him something he isn’t even interested in only to tell him I failed a week later. Likewise, he shared with me a revelation that he was going to jump hard into spoken-word poetry not long ago. He shared with me a poem in tagalog which I couldn’t understand, and I tried to be supportive, but it’s the last I’ve heard about it in something like a month now. He’s busy with life right now, and as long as “life” means “interests which we don’t share,” then I’m busy all the same.
I wouldn’t have come anywhere near as far as I have without ghostlightning. He taught me a lot about being a writer, and even more about respecting myself and others. That self-respect is why I’m trying harder than ever, and believing more than ever, that I’m on the road to doing something great. I’m still mostly lost on that road, with things like a meandering job whose purpose to me is uncertain, but I’ve actually got a job at least.
When my dad sent me to the Philippines, he thought ghostlightning was going to inspire me to get my life rolling. When I left, I thought he might have done so. GL had told me to try and work for my dad, though like most businesses in the states, they had restrictions against hiring family members. However, my dad, the general manager of a Checkered Flag dealership, instead got me an interview with one of the other GMs for a separate dealership within the company. I was told, in August 2011, that I could pretty much start working there as soon as I was ready. I never called back. I never said anything to my dad. I spent the next year sitting in my room playing video games.
Would I have a job today with or without the guidance of ghostlightning? I hate hypothetical questions because the possibilities are literally endless. The fact of the matter is that his influence is in everything I do, because he has influenced me at the core. It’s a manner not even like how my closest friends influence me, because it’s something which shaped me, like a master raising a pupil. We have both taught one-another many things, but whereas I gave him some tools for his already vast repertoire, he helped to give me the core set of tools to expand upon for the rest of my life.
It’s been a while since we’ve had much of anything to teach one-another. We’ve already learned a lot, and perhaps we won’t have more to teach each-other until we’ve both learned some new things on our own. Or at least, until we find ourselves once again in need of what we know the other has. I have known this for some time now, and the conclusion of We Remember Love is no big affirmation of these feelings. It is simply a very poignant reminder, and the one which inspired me to share all of this with you.