All Work and All Play Makes René a Sleepy Boy


I wouldn’t classify myself as having an addictive personality. I don’t drown my sorrows in alcohol and I don’t eat to make myself feel better. I smoke very infrequently, but on some nights I’ll finish off an entire pack, but I wouldn’t say I was addicted to cigarettes. I don’t ever feel cravings, anyway. If I had to admit to being addicted to one thing, I suppose it would be video games.

I know I’ve written about this before, so I won’t rehash my history except to say that I would forsake everything else in my life to keep playing a game that inspired me, which is probably one of the reasons it took me so long to graduate college. Fortunately, I’ve matured enough to balance out the other important things in my life with my gaming. Unfortunately, this usually means that I still game as hard as I used to – just during my non-working hours. This means I don’t sleep.

In recent months I haven’t been gaming much because the games I wanted to play kept crashing my computer. Then my graphics card died. I was able to nurse it along enough to display my desktop and Web sites, but running anything beyond that was a nightmare. Now that I work for a company that specializes in computer parts and gives me an employee discount, I was sure to replace my card with something more state-of-the-art. To my surprise, the games that wouldn’t work before – which I blamed the developers for – ran problem-free. As it turns out, my old card was defective. So now, when I come home from work, I immediately jump onto my gaming rig and play until well past midnight on most nights, which has been killer on my personal writing time as evidenced by the lack of posts.

I told myself that I’d use the long weekend to get some writing done, but so far I haven’t been listening – until just a few minutes ago, anyway. There I was, killing raiders and radscorpions in the wastelands of D.C. in the game Fallout 3 when one of my readers decided to contact me on Facebook to – lo and behold! – tell me about how I missed the point of a movie I reviewed. There’s nothing like a little challenge to get my writing juices flowing again; but right when I was about to respond to the message I realized that he and I could go round and round forever arguing the point of art and never come to a consensus. Furthermore, he had a personal stake in his argument, because he suffered from the same disorder as the main character in the film in question, so I knew he’d never concede. I just let it go, but I didn’t want to lose the writing inspiration, so I decided to blog.


I’m enjoying my new job overall. When you go from having 30-minute lunches to having an hour you suddenly find that you have all the free-time in the world in the middle of the day. When I first started, I’d pass the time calling people on my lunch break. Now that I have my new graphics card, I catch up on sleep in my car. Unfortunately, it’s been 1000 degrees lately in Southern California, which makes the parking spaces in the building shade hot commodities and if I arrive too late to snag one, my afternoon sleep is pretty restless.

My work environment is decent, but it also has its challenges. At my last job, I sat directly beneath a speaker that was used for paging people. As someone who reads and writes with an “inner voice,” you can imagine how difficult it was for me to craft compelling copy while people’s names were blared above my head. At my current job, I sit beneath the department air conditioner vent and the temperature is usually set at absolute zero. On the upside, computer parts are everywhere for the taking and I’ve been set up with a nice dual monitor system.

I’ve also been freelancing for my old job, which is ironic since one would think I’d want to have as much free time for gaming as possible. I was asked to put together a new Web site, which wasn’t too difficult based on the design and functionality. The problem was getting the site up and running, which really didn’t fall within the scope of the work I was asked to do, but in the end, there really wasn’t anyone left with the ability to make everything come together, but not because I had any kind of singular expertise, like the way only a brain surgeon can drill into gray matter to find the bacteria infecting a nervous system. I simply applied some basic problem solving, which got me thinking today: I’m a fantastic employee.

I know that sounds arrogant, but I think that problem solving is a vastly underrated skill that few people really possess. I think that’s because it’s such a general skill that’s impossible to qualify and sounds like garbage during a job interview.

Interviewer: Why should we give you the job?

Interviewee: I’m a great problem solver.

Interviewer: …Anything else?

Interviewee: …I’m also mono-lingual.

So people specialize and they become very good at one thing and they suddenly forget how to deal with anything barely outside of their expertise. I’m regarded as a multi-talented person – which I agree with – but I think what people misunderstand as varied experience is really just my ability to identify the goal, recognize the obstacles and work within the system to overcome the challenges.

Sometimes, of course, I don’t know if it’s worth it. In a perfect world, the achievers would be rewarded for their hard work, but instead they’re rewarded with more work more often than not. The trick is to find the right balance between revealing ability in the proper ratio to the salary. I don’t know if I’m cynical enough to believe that wholeheartedly, but I’ll let you know after my next review.