Issue 11 - 03/18/19

Adventures in Project Management

Advanced Interdepartmental Strategies Analyst and Consultant-level contributor Matt Spradling

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^That's what automatically populates new text pages when using this particular page creator template. At first it's pretty straightforward and then gets into some Latin nonsense. It's a Lorem ipsum - Latin placeholder text that used to be used to preview layouts and whatnot. I think. I'm not sure what the literal translation is but Porro quisquam is very fun to say. Is there some deep metaphor or observation in tow? I guess not. I guess that's kind of the point.

If you squint really hard, the issue release dates look like the normal seven day interval and not the one month and seven day interval it actually is. This was not intentional but I'm going to claim it for style points anyway. But it has been a month since the last newsletter. That wasn't really intentional. I figured I'd try to do ten issues on the same schedule, just for fun, just to see what it would be like, and then after that I could reassess, and I guess reassess means take a break and only do it when I feel like it, which I assumed would be roughly every two weeks. You know those contests in elementary school and Cub Scout meetings where there'd be a jar of candy or something and you would guess how much of it you thought there was and write it down and whoever got closest would get a LEGO set or a bath toy or a knife or something? I always expected to be pretty good at those but I never won one. 

Did I spend the month away in vain, or was it full of intrigue, adventure, preparation, diligent work? There's a lot of possible answers to that question. Maybe I spent the month investigating the Potty Monster. I had an article prepared for the last issue titled "The Potty Monster Part III - Potty Monster Militarized." Shortly after the events of "The Potty Monster Part II," the nighttime landscape of the Hancock Center changed drastically; where humble golf carts overloaded with humble, if troubling, security guards had previously puttered, now large SUVs crept around, blinding blue and white lights constantly spinning in silent alarm. I assumed it was a simple and perhaps excessive equipment upgrade, but I haven't actually seen our Potty Monster since the change. I hope he is well, after all. 

Two other things are of concern here, though. First, the side of these new security vehicles read "Homeland Security," and that seems problematic in a few different ways. Second (and most important, because I have to deal with it) is a new denizen of the Night. This one wears a uniform like the Potty Monster did, but is taller, older, female, and is ESL in a way which manifests as speaking so mumbled as to be 90% incomprehensible. No judgement, to be clear - that's better than I can speak a second language - but there's a moment anyone with customer service experience knows when someone expects something of you and you genuinely can't understand them and also can't politely exit the conversation and so your soul just kind of shrivels up and waits for either a miracle or to get its lunch money beaten out of it. The 10% I pieced together in this case was her asking if she could use our microwave. Now normally this is against policy as the health code dictating what can go into the microwave is rather restrictive, but also we use it for our personal lunches anyway and also she seemed old and nice and was apparently in need and also I was primed to embrace any potential resolution to this situation, so I said sure. She seemed pleased, but then after another muffled sentence, turned, walked out into the night, and never came back. Part of me felt like I'd just failed some inscrutable test, and the rest was just confused. That was a week ago and I haven't seen her since. Maybe it was a warning. But if so it was a pretty bad warning because I have no idea what I've been warned against. I should probably just find a new job.

Maybe I spent this month playing Zelda. I haven't completed it yet, but I feel pretty assured in saying The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games of all time. It took a while for me to get into it - months ago, one of the article ideas I'd brainstormed for the newsletter was about how Zelda games are great because they make you feel just as incompetent at a game as you are at life, and that's artistic, I guess was maybe the idea. Point being, I've always been bad at Zelda games and puzzle-centric games in general. I think it mainly has to do with what my reasons for playing games are, which are more about immersion and storytelling and relaxation than working hard dying repeatedly to figure out some puzzle. I've never liked repetitive things. I don't like getting stuck. You get stuck enough in real life, why do it for fun? Maybe it's a generational thing to expect different things from games. 

Anyway, not to linger on it, but Zelda is great. I have to look up how to do a lot of stuff but you won't play another game quite like it. I guess there's an article to be written there about how games are maybe an analogy for life and sometimes you get stuck but you eventually get through it or how it just takes time to get used to things or something, but I don't think that article needs to be written.

Sometimes in life your glasses won't stay on your face and your vision gets worse so you spend a long time finding a place that takes your insurance and wait there for an hour and then spend a week waiting on new glasses to arrive. That's not what I did this entire month. Although it kind of is. 

Maybe I spent this month starting to make music. I have friends that play instruments and I can't sing but I kind of like singing and I kind of like writing music and anyone can sing and if you can't sing maybe that's more interesting. I think everyone should write, but I also think you shouldn't write all the time, hence this month. I guess it depends on the project - if you're trying to write a book, then yeah, sorry but you do kind of have to write all the time. But for something like the newsletter, it was conceived in such a way as to make me semi-constantly be thinking of ideas for it, and semi-constantly living with something like that is great for creativity, but after a while, it kind of rewires your brain. Not like to the point of being unable to have authentic experiences, although I can see that happening eventually if you get your priorities twisted. But for a month I've done very little writing and not much reading but a lot of listening to and thinking about music, and those are very different kinds of information being transmitted in very different ways. I've tied my emotions to music so repetitively that that's how my brain wants to express itself now. I'm not saying that I understand how any aspect of the music-making process works, but sometimes you have to just do things, and also I can just make Alex do it.

Maybe I spent this month being responsible and applying for jobs and taking steps towards a more secure future. Hmm. Perhaps related, maybe I also just spent the month being depressed. That's kind of a nonsense term when you try to unpack it but there also isn't really a better one. Sometimes this might manifest as hating yourself for various creative reasons that seem perfectly valid to you and are perfectly valid, but it's also nice to have people to tell you you're not worthy of hate. Sometimes this manifests as having nothing better to do than loiter around SXSW where one of your favorite bands is playing and seeing which security guards will make you leave and which ones will chill in their golf cart and let you listen in peace from behind the staff lot. Sometimes this manifests as hopelessness which is sometimes mitigated by making things and working, but this is less effective if your job is aggressively unfulfilling. Sometimes it manifests as finding yourself rolling down the window in the Walgreens parking lot after midnight when a guy very eagerly asks you to so that he can perform comedy and ask for gas money, and maybe he'll accuse the previous woman he tried to talk to of racism for locking her door, and you'll think "actually I think a lone woman not talking to anyone late at night is perfectly reasonable and it's kind of fucked up to criticize that" but won't say anything because who knows why, and maybe he'll ask "hey, what do gay horses eat?" and you'll think "horse cock" which is better than his joke but will politely laugh when he says his and then give him cash even though you have less than you thought you did and feel bad about it for some reason.

Maybe the last month was all of that or none of that or more than that. I don't even remember most of it, to be honest. I guess there's a lesson here about how we apply different narratives to periods in our lives by which we remember them even though they aren't necessarily accurate, but then, do we have some sacred directive to remember our lives honestly, or is it fine, even positive, to create stories and patterns where previously there was a mess and use it to provide structure and organization moving forward? My Lyft driver Raheem says that life is what you make of it, but he had a soul patch and I found him very untrustworthy. My cat says to enjoy the simple things, but she incessantly begs for food and I find her very untrustworthy. I do find some people trustworthy, but they have the same job as me so that's a mark against. Trying to lose at rock/paper/scissors is just as hard as trying to win. 

Office Chart

Car Seat Headrest - Something Soon

Car Seat Headrest - Maud Gone

Car Seat Headrest - Strangers

Hercules & Love Affair - Raise Me Up

The Shins - A Comet Appears

Mawkish - Baba

Holy Ghost! - Hold On

Car Seat Headrest - The Ending of Dramamine