Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 – A Year in Review

As we count down to the fabled “end of days” (according to the Mayan calendar anyways. For an upgraded version, you need to look no further than right here), I think it’s important to look back on all of the accomplishments and accolades I’ve achieved this year. 2011 has been a very good year to me and in order to truly appreciate all of the amazing feats, I think it’s well deserved to take a little time out of my day and be thankful for what I have. So here they are in chronological order.

1)      Quit World of Warcraft (January 1st)
-          This was both easy and difficult to complete. On the one end, most of my time was dedicated to school and I could no longer spend fruitless hours mining ore and collecting gear. On the other hand, I hated leaving all of the friends I made during my 2-year run (not to mention I just shelled out $80 for the Cataclysm collector’s edition 2 weeks earlier). The social aspect of the game kept me going but the time aspect pushed me away. I still keep in touch with some of the good friends I made and having those little nuggets of humor from time to time quells my desire to return to the world of Azeroth.

2)      Completed Agent M: Project Mabus (February 24th)
-          I really came out swinging this year. As soon as I recovered from my New Year’s celebration the night before, I started cranking out pages as if my life depended on it. Nothing could stop me. I even would write between classes and sometimes during (with apologies going out to my Supply Chain Management professor. The B+ I received was well warranted I assure you). Still, nothing beat the feeling on that faithful night at 10:44pm when I typed the final word of the epilogue, ending an 8 year journey and starting a brand new one all with a single keystroke.

3)      Started a new job (April 12th)
-          Despite the brilliant previous achievement 8 years in the making, this is the one I am truly the most thankful for. Most people earn their living by doing something they don’t really like and taking orders from someone with equal or greater disdain. I am lucky to say I have one of the best jobs in the world, doing something I not only love but am fairly good at, and for the best boss I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t know where I would be today without this job but one thing’s for sure, I’m blessed to be here.

4)      Graduated from C.S.U.S.B. with an MBA in Marketing Management (June 8th)
-          This one was the biggest weight off my shoulders. Thanks to my previous employer, I was able to afford this opportunity but only at a snail’s pace. The normal program would take approximately 2 years but because of time conflict and pre-requisites, it took me just under 4 years. The first 3 were easy; it was the last 6 months that was a real bitch. But, I triumphantly conquered this quest and walked the same educational path of one Howard Wolowitz of The Big Bang Theory fame.

5)      Moved out of my parents house and into another state (July 31st)
-          Although it would seem like a significant achievement for some, this one transitioned so well that within a few days, I felt like I had lived in my new home all my life. Truth be told, my parents were the most affected by this. My younger brother moved out about 2 years prior and now with me gone, all they have left is our dog Cody. Don’t get me wrong, the dog kicks a shitload of ass but still, seeing the children you raised from conception walk out of your house has to be tough. For them, it was a sad day. For me, it was the beginning of a much larger journey. I couldn’t be happier or more blessed with the care they gave me and every time I go back and visit it feels like I never left.

6)      Completed the P90x program (December 22nd)
-          I have been battling weight issues ever since I got my driver’s license. In 2009 became fed up with it and soon I lost 50 pounds over the course of 4 months. Sadly, the stress of school and commuting forced me down the same junky path and I gained back every single pound I lost. This time, I forced myself to do something that I didn’t think possible. On October 1st, I popped in the very 1st P90x DVD and would not stop until I was back to my 2009 shape. It took a lot of personal sacrifice but in the end, I am currently 40 lbs lighter and still going strong. I might not be exactly where I left myself 2 years ago, but I’m certainly closer than I ever was and this time, I’m going to keep it that way.

Wow. Looking back on it, I certainly did a lot of shit. Seeing all of this good stuff done in a single year will make it hard to top. But therein lies the fun. Nothing worth having ever comes easy. My goals for 2012 are going to challenge me in ways I didn’t think possible and while I won’t reveal them all here, you can certainly tune in this time next year to see the results.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The End Starts Here

You’d think after taking the time to plot, draft, write, and revise an entire novel that you’d be a little excited. Try doing that through the span of 8 years. I never felt a greater sense of accomplishment in my entire life. Bigger than graduating college. Bigger than landing a phenomenal career. Bigger than earning my MBA. Bigger than proposing to my fiancé…

Well, maybe not that last one.

But here it is! In all its tremendous glory!

There are just so many people I’d like to thank for this tremendous effort and even though they have been acknowledged and immortalized within the pages of this script, not recognizing their efforts and contributions on my blog would be a grave injustice.

First off, my beloved parents. Although they will never read nor comprehend what it is that I’ve created, they will always support me as long as I’m happy with what I’m doing.

To my darling brother who (usually) never has anything nice to say about my work. I can remember a time where I had him acting in our parent’s garage for 5 hours trying to work through this scene for a YouTube video. Even to this day he still refers to that video and a great majority of the ones I put months into filming and editing as complete and utter crap. To have his seal of approval on this one means the world to me.

Of course, how could I leave out my wonderful fiancé Lisha. A woman who spent countless nights hoping I’d stop writing for just a few moments to simply acknowledge her presence. Her review and criticisms of this book gave me confidence that it can and will appeal to all types of demographics willing to give it a chance by cracking open the first page. For that, I am forever thankful.

Special and particular thanks goes out to a Mr. David Sondered at Studio Colrouphobia. If you are looking for a man that embodies the very definition of patience then look no further. I constantly and consistently badgered him with requests and changes to embody the cover to what I wanted. And yet… He made a couple of simple suggestions and I have been humbled. You sir, are a professional and a man of class.

And finally, to all of my friends and family members. I know I had kept this a secret from most of you only because when I first started “bragging” about my novel, I became swallowed in hype. That was 8 years ago. Humbling experience aside, I couldn’t be happier with the support you’ve offered and I hope that you enjoy the ride I’ll be taking you on.

Just like the tag-line to Agent M: Project Mabus…  We’ve only just begun.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Religion vs Science – The Epic Struggle of Stubbornness

I’ve balked about discussing this issue purely because I didn’t want people to think I was sparking up a controversial debate for pure entertainments sake. As the release of Agent M: Project Mabus draws closer, I wanted to discuss one of the major underlying issues covered in the first book. As a devout believer in God, this was surprisingly easy process to undertake. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a tolerant and diverse household. However, today’s entry is not about picking sides or determining who’s “right” or “wrong”. This is about discussing the proponents and why their reasoning causes strife amongst the masses. Sometimes it’s not about the argument but about the one presenting it.

To be fair, I might as well lay all my cards on the table. I’ve got nothing to hide. I was raised in a very religious upbringing; my father a Catholic and my mother an Eastern Orthodox. Despite their religious “differences”, they seemed to have no issues debating religious topics. My mother was especially tolerant in this retrospect. When I became confused as a child after hearing about the different types of religious organizations, my mother eased my worries by telling me that all religions are essentially the same and that I didn’t need to worry about defining them either way. As long as you believe in God and lead a good life, there’s nothing else to worry about. I love that way of thinking. It really speaks to heart concerning my own personal beliefs. I never tell anyone that I am of a specific religious faith but when they press the issue I simply tell them that I was raised Catholic and everyone seems to be pleased with that explanation. To me, organized religion is nothing more than having a different set of rules to achieve the same goal.

However, I do consider myself a creature of logic. There is always a rational and believable explanation that exists in any situation. I don’t make decisions based on emotions and I don’t advise others to as well yet I am plagued to see so many illogical beings make hasty choices in life with excuses that range from “It’s my life, I’ll live it as I see fit” all the way to “Oops”. Personal beliefs aside, some would argue that I should be torn between my religious beliefs and my logical outlook on life. I am here to fire back and ask you, why? Why should I be debating religion and science? I’ve already found a nice middle ground and have worked inside of it for the better part of 28 years. Do I really have to pick a side? Why are we picking sides anyways?

In Agent M: Project Mabus, the project developer Donald Viseman suffers through an internal conflict of this nature but in a more endearing way. He’s caught between his personal beliefs and the job assigned to him. I’m sure there are many moments in our lives when we are faced with similar decisions. One man in Atlanta was fired over an incident where his religious beliefs interfered with his work.

The point I’m trying to raise is, would either side give up their beliefs for the greater good? I can honestly say that the majority of them wouldn’t. This is entrenched in a mask of stubbornness. Religious faithful do not want to budge because doing so would be backing away from the very beliefs they hold so dearly. Children of science won’t let up an inch because they are trying to put up equal force in order to prove their point. But, when you really look at it, all we’ve got is the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. Neither side is going to budge or concede. That’s just not the way it works. So instead of engaging in a fruitless battle, I decided to pull myself away from it. I don’t necessarily think all Atheists are dumb or all religious people are nut-jobs. They’re perpetuating that stereotype fine on their own without any help from yours truly.

One of my goals in writing Agent M: Project Mabus was certainly not to usher controversy over the issue at hand but to rather use it as a medium of conflict. Particularly in Dr. Viseman’s case. I knew when I began the path of plotting the Agent M series that I would be faced with many similar types of debate between religion and science. And not just in the first book either. There is an underlying tone that is present throughout the entire series that predicates the battle between religion and science. Just like the headline for Project Mabus, the end has truly begun. This is only the beginning in a series that will be the fictional battleground between these two belief superpowers.

And all out war will be the least of mankind’s concerns when the prophecy draws near.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's A Secret to Everybody

In my many years on this glorious stage we call earth, I have been previewed to (both willingly and unwillingly) information that could be inferred as less than public knowledge. I’m not exactly sure why these senders choose to burden me with this information. Maybe it’s because I don’t talk too much about the extremities and facets of other people’s lives or that I’m just a good listener. Either way, my official stance is that secrets suck but they are one of many necessary evils.

Allow me to regale you with a tale. I once knew a woman who, for all intents and purposes, was a cheater. She would go out and have casual sex with numerous partners, some of which she barely knew, while still coming home to her husband as if nothing was wrong. Every time I spoke with her she sung praises of her husband, how he loved him, that he was the man of her dreams and so forth. And yet, despite all of his accolades, she allowed other men to drill her without so much as a care or disregard.

Soon, I confronted her about this. I asked her why she committed these adulterous acts even though she loved her husband. Not surprisingly, she didn’t give me a straight answer nor did she choose to go any deeper about it. The timing of my query couldn’t have been perfect. Justice would soon be served. A couple of days later, she found out that her husband had been cheating on her for the better part of 6 months.  Naturally, she flipped out and completely went ape shit on him. She came to confide in me yet again about this and this time, I wasn’t about to listen to her excuses (or lack thereof).

I told her straight up that she shouldn’t be surprised. Men can generally tell when they’re being cheated on. We’re jealous at heart and by and large inquisitive creatures of habit. If he couldn’t see the signs of her cheating then it’s probably because he’s cheating himself and doesn’t care enough to notice. Finally, I told her that she should be ashamed of herself for getting mad at him since their behavior was one in the same. She retorted with a simple counter. She caught him, not the other way around. As far as he was concerned, she had been faithful this entire time. In some ways, she’s right. It’s her secret and the fact that it hadn’t been exposed only suits her argument. I thought to take it upon myself to tell the husbands of her transgressions but I balked at that idea (for reasons which I’ll state later) in order to take a more logical approach.

One good argument always deserves a counter. I put it to her this way. Just because he doesn’t know, does not mean it didn’t happen. I then recited a proverb that would hold true in many other similar situations. If two people get drunk, have sex, and the female gets pregnant but neither of them remember the even at all, does the future child cease to exist?

I don’t remember talking to her much after that. Not for any personal reasons on my part but I assumed that my logic made her feel bad. That’s understandable. She used to come speak with me just to get stuff off her chest or seek affirmation for her decisions, be those good or poor.

The reason why I chose to tell this story was in order to bring up an important point. Secrets are burdens. Whether it be to yourself or the ones that you keep in the loop. Nothing good can come from them. The reason that things are kept secret is because they are hurtful truths that we want to keep hidden. And for the record, all secrets are inherently bad. Keeping knowledge of a significant other’s birthday gift is not a secret, that’s a surprise. Know the difference.

Keeping secrets will only trouble ourselves and those we choose to share them with. I wish I could say they shouldn’t exist but a certain film proved that would not be a world we’d want to live in. For the record, there are no good secrets but there are many necessary ones. Going back to my story, I chose not to tell her husband about his wife’s adulterous behavior because I knew that if I involved myself in that relationship now, I would be responsible for what happens to their relationship from here on out. I only knew of her husband, never knew him personally. Telling him this information could have caused a number of outcomes. One of which I dare not speak of but not uncommon in these situations.

The main point I am trying to bring to light is that any secret you hold is more powerful than you can ever imagine (Thanks Obi-Wan!). Do not take them lightly no matter how frail and unimportant they may seem. Anyone willing to keep something a secret has enough emotional investment in that information that could jeopardize their very well being. That being said, there are just some things we don’t want others to know about and that’s perfectly fine. Just as long as we are fully aware of what will happen should those secrets let own. Some people would kill to keep their information private. Many people already have. Any information worth taking a life from is probably something you shouldn’t be doing or have done in the first place,

Knowing what I know now, I’m much less inclined to burden myself with secrets. The next time someone asks me, “Can you keep a secret?” I’ll politely tell them “Sure, but I don’t want the responsibility.”