This was three weeks ago.

This has been the last three weeks.

I had written up an original post over the past week at work, but before I get into that. I need to explain a horrifying event that happened yesterday.

This is Diamond City.

About 5 hours into playing Fallout 4, I started one of my main story quests that sent me off to discover Diamond City. It was at that point that I decided to stop pursuing the main story, and start investigating everything that was in the wastelands. I have now spent over 65 hours of unlocking new locations, upgrading my settlement, making a self-sustainable farm, and getting all of my upgrades in order before continuing on. Yesterday, I hit level 30, and I also came across a full suit of the rarest, most powerful armor in the game. It was at that point that I decided my vacation from the real world was over, and I need to finish up the story so I can get back to studying for boards. I travel to Diamond City only to discover that at some point along the way I pissed off someone I wasn't supposed to. I can't get past the entrance without a dozen NPC's coming out guns blazing making the strongest effort to murder my face. I didn't want to overthrow the city, but I figured that it would get me through that section of the story and I would give up on being able to do anything special there later on. Nope. Due to their relevance to the story, some of the NPC's were programmed not to die and now are completely incapable of getting past the fact that I may have killed about 20 of their guards. 

For those of you who are reading this rambling and thinking "God, when will this dork get to the point?" The point is this. I have now spent close to 70 hours on a game that I will now never be able to beat without starting over from the beginning.


But that's life, right? It's a silly metaphor, but I had to do the same thing with my career. I had to get to a point where I had developed myself and my skills so much that I was literally prepared for any role that industry wanted to throw at me. Somewhere along the way, I got pissed off and now I'm starting my work life over. It's a shame that graduating from school didn't earn me any gamerscore. So needless to say, I have been on a personal bender for the last two weeks, and it has been wonderful. I took the last few weeks to decompress before actually bunkering down into full blown study/promote myself mode. I worked hard during school, and dammit I wanted to enjoy a little bit of a breather before going full steam again. I've not been so enraptured by a game since Fallout 3. Daniel lived with me at the time and we would roam about Megaton in my basement on the PS3. I can't begin to describe how easily it is to get sucked into the Wasteland, and every day my HQ at sanctuary got more and more epic. *le sigh*

This isn't to say that I haven't been completely unproductive. I've done a few (long overdue) projects around the apartment for Hailie, we've started getting all of our finances back in order, and we're structuring our lives a little more to brace for the upcoming change. 

It was nice having my responsibilities scale back a little, but I'm kind of glad that this came about. I needed an opportunity to stop distracting myself from the fact that I want to cut hair and I can't. I'm stuck in the median between graduation and certification, and I detest the fact that I'm not able to practice the physical act of cutting hair for a few more weeks. I've had to turn down haircuts because I want to both hold myself to a standard, and I won't be able to provide adequate lighting, sanitation, or a comfortable environment for myself to work in, but also, I've already invested enough emotion into this that I won't risk having my license taken away before I even get it. Still, while vacations are nice, I can only sit around for so long. I had to go back to work full time. BAH!!!!! 

The Monday after graduating, I was at DirecTV on my lunch when my brother texted me. The gym he teaches at was in need of someone to man the front desk. It required little to no effort and responsibility, but it would give the coaches an opportunity to focus on their classes without being distracted by walk-ins looking for information on the gym. I had already started filling out my full-time request form, but I hadn't turned it in. Do I opt to work at DirecTV, making more money, working fewer days of the week, but I'd continue dragging myself to a place I loathe, or do I make a little less money, have less responsibility, and get to hang out with my brother? That choice was obvious. The only downside to the choice is I still don't have any health insurance, so I need to figure that out since I seem to fall in the space between qualifying for Medicaid and tax credits through the ACA. Thanks, Butch Otter.

So now my schedule has changed in comparison to what I had originally planned, that's okay though. I had an additional surprise in my schedule about a week ago. On one of my final days at school, someone on the design team had mentioned how they needed a Grinch for some parade they were doing. Having never paid attention to any of the events that I wasn't able to get credit for (state board of barbering doesn't allow barbers to work outside of regulated barbershops, cosmetologists can get permits to work events), I had no idea what it was. I still said I would help out because the school had a 40:1 girl to guy ratio, and none of the guys were volunteering. I only asked they keep me updated with what I needed to do. Of all of the things that annoyed me in school, it was the glaring omission of effective communication, and this was no exception. I had been out of school for 2 weeks, hadn't heard anything since the initial request, so I had completely forgotten about it when I get a message while at the gym on Friday night.

"Chris, can you still do the Grinch? We need you at the school 6 am tomorrow morning for makeup because judging is at 7:30." Well......I committed to this, no sense in making excuses to get out of it. What is this whole parade thing, though? As I found out later that night, the parade they had been talking about was the 70th annual Boise Holiday Parade......and I was going to be the Grinch near the end of it.

Oh............well...........just shit. 

This is an event that literally thousands of people come to every year, and I rarely take anything seriously. I figured this would be another opportunity to goof off and just have fun. So I did. I grabbed Emily, who was in costume as a present, and we went up and down the streets while waiting for our part of the parade causing a ruckus as the Grinch.

"THAT'S RIGHT EVERYBODY, THIS PARADE IS ABOUT ME. THE GRINCH HOLIDAY PARADE WILL BE STARTING SOON!" Anytime I saw a puppy I would scream "You found Max!!" We went up to a couple other parade floats that were getting ready and I started dancing with the kids and their dance teams. As one of the floats came by with two people wearing Grinch  costumes, I immediately screamed "IMPOSTERS!!!! THEY ARE NOT THE REAL GRINCH, BECAUSE CLEARLY I AM RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF YOU ALL! IMPOSTERS!!!" 

We wound up winning the children's choice award, so I displayed it all over downtown in the most obnoxious fashion. Here's two things most people know about me. I hate Christmas and I'm not a big fan of kids. On top of that, I'm not the best in large crowds. But getting to see kids recognize a character they love, and then seeing their reactions when that character come up and give them a high five, it was incredibly rewarding. I can honestly say that getting out of my comfort zone was one of the most fun things I've done in years.

But now I'm back in the real world. Studying has taken the top priority spot, growing my beard out is rounding out in a close second. At some point, I need to get my hair cut, though.

Chris BentleyComment