Author: Ian

What Kinds of Workers Have to Get Overtime Pay?

A few months back I wrote a piece about American overtime laws and how they set clear boundaries about what kinds of workers need to be paid time-and-a-half for any hours per week they work over forty.  These laws were enacted to 1)Create more jobs by giving employers incentive to hire more workers at the regular rate instead of paying their existing workers the time-and-a-half rate, and 2)To help workers maintain a better work-life balance, because working a lot of overtime sucks hard.

The rules are laid pretty clearly in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which I first learned about when my old job as a school secretary overloaded me with more work than I could possibly handle in a 40-hour workweek and I started doing some research.  While the Continue reading »

Telling My Father, by James Crews (2017)

James Crews’s poetry is poignant, thoughtful, easy to read, and most importantly, leaves you thinking in ways that feel genuine instead of forced.  The first of this collection’s four parts relays the poet’s memories of his father that, far from waxing nostalgic, unfold into a complex web of admiration, unease, guilt, and self-discovery that culminates in an unspoken, shared moment.  Here the power lies in the placement of each poem, and Telling My Father shows how it’s not just the writing that matters, but the space between the writing that lets us form the most meaningful connections.

More

Telling My Father at Southeast Missouri State University Press

Longer Review at The Hopper

James Crews Talks Grad School and the Creative Life with Yours Truly

India Trip Reflections #3: “People Should Know Their Place”

About halfway through the India trip I met a guy whose name I won’t mention here, both to protect his identity and because I’ve forgotten it.  He’d been to college and was now working a comfortable middle-class job that paid a decent salary, had plenty of room for advancement, and didn’t require him to work too hard.  He seemed pretty happy, or at least satisfied with how his life was going.

During the hour or so we spent together he told me about a lot of things: about his job, about arranged marriages in India, and about the political problems and corruption the country faced.  Then we got on the subject of social media, which he wasn’t a big fan of.

I thought it was odd that someone so close to my own age (he was in his late twenties) could Continue reading »

The Best Stuff I Read in 2017

A few years ago I realized that I was buying more books than I was reading, and that I wasn’t reading as often as I wanted to.  If these trends had continued I would have kept falling further and further behind until I had a stack of to-read books from floor to ceiling but would still be wading through things I’d picked up in the grad school free pile.

A lot’s changed since then, but the pile’s still just as towering: as of today, 62 books remain in the stack, a slight increase that came with the holiday season since I hit up a few book sales and got a lot of Christmas gifts.  In any case, I keep finding things that look interesting and wanting read them, which in my mind is a good thing.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop buying books—the real trick lies in realistically deciding Continue reading »

India Trip Reflections #2: Your Job Shouldn’t Define Your Status

When I was in India, I found myself being asked the same three questions over and over:

  1. Are you married?
  2. How many brothers and sisters do you have?
  3. What is your job in America?

Now the answer to the first question was of course no (my response usually involved the phrase “haven’t found the right girl”) and my having two younger brothers was simple enough, but how to explain my work to people from an entirely different culture was a whole lot trickier.

In America, when I meet a new person and hear the “What do you do?” question, I judge based on the situation whether the person is Continue reading »

India Trip Reflections #1: Never Forget What a Break and Time Away Can Do

At the beginning of this month I flew to India for ten days to attend a friend’s wedding and take a much-needed vacation.  It was my first trip abroad in two years, and I spent the time meeting new people, exploring rural Indian villages, experiencing farm life, and trying awesome new dishes made from amazing vegetables and the freshest butter and yogurt I’ve ever had.

Now I’m back, and I feel awesome.

I was pretty stressed out before I left because of too much Secret Office Day Job-related overtime and having a shit ton of things to do in general, but I guess I hadn’t realized Continue reading »

Cool Stuff I Did in 2017, and Cool Stuff I’m Going to Do in 2018

It’s been a long month, and an even longer year.

That’s not to say it hasn’t been a successful year of getting a lot of things done, because it has.  Since I talk all the time about the importance of tracking your goals, here’s a quick list of things I got done in 2017:

  • Turned This Blog Into a Regular, Consistent Project Last January But I Also Have a Day Job was a mere scattering of posts with some half-finished static pages and few regular readers.  For the last 12 months I’ve posted an entry a week, gained a lot of Continue reading »

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr. (2009)

A genius baby is born to a Maine family with an alcoholic mother and a cocaine-addict older son, but the kicker is that the baby knows that a stray comet’s going to destroy the world in 2010.  The novel goes in wildly varied directions from here using different narrators and styles, with no two sections alike and plenty of black humor.  The second-person sections take some getting used to but add an otherworldly flair that becomes essential plot-wise, resulting in a thoughtful meditation on what it means to enjoy life and find meaning in the face of tragedy.

Rating

Forever. . . by Judy Blume (1975)

This is the Judy Blume book where they fuck, and where the characters use the word “fuck” kind of a lot for 1975, which made this book a pretty big deal when it came out. It’s a story about love and sex—those youthful ideals we all have before we discover what relationships are, get adjusted, then move on—a lot for 200 pages. As a guilty pleasure, most of it holds up pretty well aside from some clichéd issues, with Blume perfectly capturing the magnitude of 18 year-old Katherine and Michael’s first love and sexual fumbling.

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Guest Post – Life vs. Writing: A Balancing Act

Angela D’Onofrio is a writer and artist whose series of novels takes place in the fictitious town of Aviario, Connecticut and contains elements of the fantastic (I reviewed one of her Aviario novels, In the Cards, a few weeks back). I met her through a local writer’s group, where I was struck by her dedication to promoting her projects and keeping an active role in her many, many creative communities.  Check out more of her work here, or follow her on Twitter at @AngDonofrio.

 

Hello, fellow writers with day jobs!  Ian approached me a little while ago and asked if I’d like to write a guest post for his blog.  “Sure,” I said, “but let’s do it after National Novel Writing Month, when I’ll be done writing my fingers off…”

Which brings us to the topic of this post: Life vs. Writing. For the past four years, I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo: a challenge to authors to write the first 50,000 words of a novel draft in a month.  As much as I’d love to be able to tell you that I pummeled my keyboard into submission…alas, Continue reading »

Solanin, by Inio Asano (2005)

Meiko Inoue is a twentysomething living with her boyfriend in Tokyo, working in an office, and wondering whether her life could be something more.  There’s a lot more to the story than that (hint: the “more” involves playing in a band), but this manga’s most profound moments come in the characters’ contemplations about the creative life versus a stable work life, along with the emptiness that comes from not having a passionate outlet.  It’s rougher and very different than Asano’s Nijigahara Holograph, though the images share the same majestic beauty and the story captures a similar sense of wonder.

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How the Republican Tax Bill Affects Grad Students (Spoilers: Not in a good way!)

I don’t often talk politics on this blog because that’s not what it’s for, but in rare cases I come across a political topic like the Republican Tax Bill that affects not only creative people with Day Jobs, but all of us who don’t quite fit the Traditional Middle-Class Mold of going to college, getting a high-paying job, and working that high-paying job until retirement.

For the past few weeks President Trump’s been talking about a new tax bill that he and others have touted as a way to bring tax relief to the middle class, in addition to reducing paperwork and loosening restrictions on businesses to make them more competitive.  Though the exact rhetoric around the bill has been mixed, the White House has been careful to plant the seed that the bill isn’t designed to help the wealthy, and Continue reading »