Two Years After Graduation: My Progress

Last year I wrote a post about what I’d accomplished in the year since I finished school. It’s only fitting that I do it again.

Two years ago today I walked across the stage at the University of Houston Downtown graduation ceremony. It was quite the day that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Probably helps that I have a picture from that day on my nightstand just a few feet from where I sleep. You can read a little about what I accomplished in the first year after graduating from college here.

I’ll only be talking about what I’ve done in the last year from this point on.

The end.

Seriously. During my first year I wrote my book and started this blog, but in the last 365 days I haven’t done much. It hasn’t been a lack of motivation. I haven’t written anything, which is fine by me because there’s something much more important that I need to figure out before I think about that. It’s called a job, a real one.

I’ve been actively searching for a job since at least August. All of them in CJ. And nothing has panned out. Now I’ve reached the point at which I don’t think I’ll ever be working in CJ, which is disappointing and ridiculous at the same time. First, the American criminal justice system as a whole is under a microscope right now. One would think CJ agencies all over the country would actively be seeking out applicants who have a college education and have displayed over the course of their lives a high level of moral character. I have. This isn’t me bragging, it’s simple fact. Second, I know based on my experience during these last few months that I’m much more qualified for any CJ job than a significant portion of the applicant pool for any jobs in the area. I can’t speak for other parts of the country, though it’s very likely the same, but most CJ applicants down here apply with a high school diploma and a few college hours. You know just as well as I do that there’s a big difference between someone who went to school two or three semesters and someone who finished.

That last paragraph just seems like a rant, but oh well.

My main goal for the last year has been to find me a job in CJ, and I’ve failed at that. Now I need to reevaluate what my future holds.

No question for y’all today. Last year’s post included a handful of pictures, but not today. I don’t feel like including any.

PS: my failed job search has nothing to do with the economy or the worth of college degrees in today’s society, just know that you’re wrong if that’s what you’re thinking.


On this day in 2014 (as you already know) I published A Year After Graduation: My Progress.

 

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2014: What do I think of you?

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Here it is, my 2014 recap! Cause I know you’ve been dying for me to write this. Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that this will not be all about blogging or books or writing…it’s going to be about all things me, and some not. Might as well get started before you die of boredom.

I’ve seen other bloggers write their recaps in chronological order, but no. I’m not doing that. I’m going to hit on whatever topics I want. First up…Blogging.

Blogging

Talk about a fantastic year. Did you see my WordPress annual report that gave you a little insight into my blog? If not, you can do so here. What’s happened on this blog is as unlikely as it gets. I blogged for six months last year and had a grand total of 1200 views. Let’s be real, that’s nothing. I was literally writing for myself cause no one else was reading. I only blogged about writing my first book. So I’d write a chapter and then write a blog post. I’d go a week without writing and I’d go a week without blogging. I didn’t read other blogs and I definitely never commented on any. I guess I thought WordPress would magically make my blog popular. Didn’t happen.

I turned the year with something like 80 WordPress followers. My app currently has the number at 2184. That’s pretty significant. And I’d have to say it’s all because of a change in format. No longer do I write about my writing, (especially since I haven’t written in months) but about anything that comes to mind. Sure books are the heavy focus, but now I include poems and my thoughts on particular subjects like Pearl Harbor and D-Day. I just realized that I posted 12 poems on here this year! Which means I’ve written 17 poems in my life. I think my Halloween poem was by far the worst. I mean, I shouldn’t have posted it because it was terrible. But I wrote it at like three in the morning and went to sleep. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite. I really like the autumn one. And also the reading one. But the materialistic one too? Ugh. I can’t pick a favorite. You try.

And what my annual report didn’t tell y’all was that there were more than 10,000 comments on my blog this year! Read that again…10,000! That’s why I like blogging so much. I get to discuss all these things I have going on in my head with people who know so much more than I do.

AND I’ve gotten the chance to get to know some great people over the course of this year because of this blog. Maybe one of them (or me) will one day write a huge bestselling book and go on a book tour so I can attend an event and be like, “Hey! I’m that guy who goes on rants about books on WordPress! It’s nice to meet you!” I heard there’s a WordPress expo? Maybe? Someone find out.

I have some lofty goals for 2015 for Write me a Book, John! First, I want to hit 40,000 site views for the year. Second, I want to reach 5,000 WordPress followers. And third, I’d like to post 25 new poems on here in 2015. Think y’all can help make those happen?

2014 final blog stats:

282 posts

30,102 views

12,195 visitors

5,302 Likes

10,159 comments.

Reading

Hmm. This was a terrible year for me, which you already know if you read this post. I managed to finish a grand total of seven books this year. I’m basically a reader who spends more time talking about reading than actually reading. I read a couple good books and a couple that were okay, but that doesn’t matter. I need to read more. Period. This is serious stuff.

Work

This is a topic that I’ve really only shared with a handful of y’all. So, now I might as well share with all of you who decide to read this. Most of you don’t know that I work in retail. I actually started when I was 17 and I’ve been at the same job ever since. I make more and I have a different title, but the job is largely the same. I started the summer before my senior year in high school and worked all the way through college. And now 19 months after graduating from UHD, I’m still there. I have no issue with the job. But now I’m looking for something more. In each of the last three months I’ve had three major interviews for CJ related jobs (my degree is in criminal justice). Unfortunately, I didn’t get the first two. BUT the most recent one was just over a week ago and I’m moving forward in the process. There are five steps total. And this is the first of the three that I’m confident about. I’ll have to let y’all know what happens. I have about three weeks before the next step.

Sports

I’m from Houston. I’m a die hard Texans fan. You probably already know that their season is over. They finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs by a single game. But I’m not going to complain too much about a team that improved by 7 wins over last season with largely the same personnel. Nope. And the Rockets (NBA) are looking more and more like legitimate title contenders with each passing day. James Harden is leading the way with an MVP-caliber start to the season. Wouldn’t it be something to have the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) in JJ Watt AND the NBA MVP in James Harden? JJ Watt will most likely be the unanimous winner of the DPOY and his case for MVP is out of this world. Let’s see what happens. All things considered, I’m excited about the future of the three major sports teams here in Houston. Jose Altuve just won the batting title for the Astros. Just an FYI.

Writing

Ugh. My goals at the beginning of the year were to write two books. I wrote maybe a third of one. Which is fine, I’ve known for months that I didn’t want to revisit the story until the new year. Well, time to put up or shut up. I have about 30k words written and I know exactly where I left off. I may even have a little surprise for y’all about this at a later date. We’ll see.

But my writing goal this year is to finish the first draft of the story I have now. No other timetable. I just want to finish it. I think I can. Even if I start working a new job, I think I’ll be able to finish it.

The Hunger Games

Yep. Gets a whole bullet to itself. Hm. I bet if I did a search of my blog for Katniss of THG or anything at all related to those three books that I would come up with a couple dozen posts. I mean, I’m obsessed. Sure I didn’t reread the books like I said I would, but now all I do is sing The Hanging Tree. Not even kidding. Matter of fact, here. Watch. Yes I know that Jennifer Lawrence isn’t going to win any Grammys any time soon, but really? Did you expect her to sound so…perfect? Seriously. You can’t listen to that and not be impressed. And the movie itself wasn’t bad. It wasn’t as memorable as either of the first two, but no one expected the first half of the worst book to be the best movie. At least no one who knows anything about the movies and the books. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of the series. Pretty sure I’ll be that crying uncontrollably emoji once it’s over. Not even kidding. Y’all have no idea. I want the mockingjay pin tattoo.

YouTube

This is one that I would never have imagined happening. I’m big on TV. Y’all know this. Before 2014 I had subscribed to a grand total of zero YouTube channels. And I could have named one YouTuber. But then in July I discovered Superwoman. I still sing her song #Leh just about every day. And I watch all of the videos she releases. But that’s not all. I’m now subscribed to maybe a dozen channels that range from top ten lists to pranks. I discover new channels almost every week and have discovered that I’m genuinely entertained by people who just put themselves in front of a camera and record. Here’s Superwoman’s 2014 recap. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that this really made me happy to see. I know I don’t know her personally and I’ve yet to meet her, but there are very few celebrities who I believe are as genuine as she is.

People

Oooh getting personal. I’m no different from any other person. I have people in my life who matter more than or less than the next person. 2014 was no different. I’ve had a number of people just kind of drop out of my life this year, and one that I never would have expected. But hey, that’s life. I still have a number of people who I personally admire and respect. I’ve written about a few of them on here this year.

Overall 2014 will be remembered for the people I now know from blogging and for me beginning my career search.

So I think that’s it. No real major events. No random kids. No random marriage. Not really anything that would mean something to someone else, but that’s okay. It was my year.

Saturday Selects: How do you perceive law enforcement?

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Photo Credit: A-T Solutions

Okay guys, Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write on the first Saturday of each month in which I write about something completely unrelated to books and writing and all that fun stuff. I’ve written about blogging, Derek Jeter’s final season, Jennifer Lawrence, guys, tattoos, country music, and now today you get to read a little bit about law enforcement.

Before I begin, if you read my blog at all, then you may or may have not read my post from earlier in the week in which I discussed how I came to the decision to work in the criminal justice system. It’s not funny or meant to be entertaining, but it’s definitely one of the better posts I’ve written. Maybe you want to read it? Click here if you do. I’m mentioning this because the first job that comes to mind when anyone thinks criminal justice will be a police officer.

Anyway, let me get to my actual post.

How do you perceive law enforcement? That’s what this post is about, and I really want you to take a second to consider your response. Hey, I know plenty of people who claim to hate the police because their uncle or whomever is in prison for something they “didn’t” do. I also know people who trust the police absolutely. I’m not going to tell you that you should be on one side or the other. I’m just going to share with you what I think of the perception of law enforcement.

We live in an age in which any police activity operating within the public eye will almost certainly be recorded or watched by some onlooker. Think about the fact that you can’t scroll down your Facebook News Feed without seeing some video about a police officer who abused his or her power or used excessive force. You can’t. These videos are everywhere.

There was a huge case that happened in Houston within the last decade in which several officers were recorded beating a suspect who is already on the ground after a short chase. It’s a scene that you don’t want to watch because you know exactly what happens. But let me tell you about a different side of the story that you may or may not hear enough about.

We all know about the school shootings that seem to happen on a regular basis here in the US. School districts across the country are rapidly trying to react to this horrible phenomenon. One of the things that they’re doing more of is hiring school resource officers. These are NOT security guards. They are almost always off-duty police officers or deputies who stay inside the school for the duration of the school day. Well recently a teen took a gun to school and stationed himself in the library. This particular school had hired a school resource officer who was an off-duty deputy. You can imagine the chaos of a school during an active shooter situation. Kids are trying to get outside, teachers are doing much the same, but not the school resource officer. He wasn’t leaving the school. He wasn’t thinking about his own safety. He wasn’t reacting how you or I or just about any sane person would during a situation like that. He was running in a full sprint toward the library. And guess what? The shooter knew he was on the way. The shooter committed suicide before he could be apprehended.

I have one more story for you. Earlier this year a police officer working for a small department just a few miles from where I live made a routine traffic stop either late at night or during the early morning hours. The car pulled over and before the officer reached the door, she was fired upon from inside the car and the car sped off. She immediately gets back in her car and pursues. A high speed chase ensues and the car ultimately comes to a stop in the middle of the road at a 90 degree angle. As the officer moves toward the car shots ring out again and the officer is struck in the face. She doesn’t stop to even check on herself until the suspects are in custody.

Do you see what I’m trying to tell you? There is no such thing as a “regular day on the job” for law enforcement. There are no days off. Sure much of the attention that law enforcement gets is when someone abuses their power, but there are hundreds of stories like the ones I’ve just told you about happening every single day across the country. And you don’t even hear about them. So don’t sit there and say “all police officers are pigs” or “I hate the police” or “the police just want to kill you” unless you’re prepared to handle an emergency situation by yourself. It takes a certain person to pursue a career in law enforcement. Anyone can go to school to be an accountant or a businessman or a journalist, but not all of us are made out to be in law enforcement. There is no denying that fact. And although I’m not absolutely certain that I’ll be in law enforcement, I’ve become extremely excited just thinking about the possibility.

So let me ask again, how do you perceive law enforcement?

A Change of Plans

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Okay guys, something that I’ve told a couple of you and that the rest of you have been in the dark about is that lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my future, particularly my employment. I’ve mentioned it many times on here that I currently only work weekends at a job I’ve had for five years. You can do the easy math and realize that I’ve been there since I was 17, so this isn’t exactly a career for me. So I’ve been thinking about my future and I sought the advice of a few bloggers who I interact with quite a bit and also just a few friends of mine. Let me tell you what I asked most of them to consider before I continue.

There were three things. The first was that I move from my current job to working at the library or a bookstore. Both jobs would pay me less than I make now, but theoretically I’d be working more hours. The second was grad school. But I wasn’t thinking CJ, I was actually thinking library science. The third choice was a job in CJ, because after all, I have that degree thing.

Now let me tell you what those few people told me. A few said that if I want to work in a library or bookstore so that I could be surrounded by books all the time, then I should do it. A couple others said that I should work in CJ because I won’t really know what I think of it until I give it a shot. And one person was like “You’d be perfect in grad school!” That might even be a quote from her text.

Suffice it to say that there was no consensus on the matter.

So that’s what I asked them to consider and those were the answers I got back. But I was planning on writing this post to ask you all what you might do in my shoes. Obviously I would weigh what you all say a bit differently from what the others said because they’re more familiar with me and what I have going on, but this week that changed.

Because someone I know told me that it was pointless to even consider part time jobs if I already have one and I’m not going back to school. But idiot me goes off and makes some really dumb remarks, even though I was only getting what I asked for. This was someone who I trust enough to ask about something as important as my job future and who was trying to help me with that decision-making process, and I just went off on some inexplicable rant for no reason whatsoever. The point that I’m making by telling you all this is that she was right.

I’m not going to sit here and say that every other person I asked about this was just telling me what they thought I wanted to hear, because I’m not in their heads. What I am saying is that if you’re going to seek out advice, then really seek out advice and the opinions of whomever you’re asking, don’t just expect them to see everything exactly as you do. Because then you turn into me and disrespect people who don’t deserve that under any circumstances ever.

I’m sure you’ve gotten this far and are wondering what the heck the point of this post is. It’s actually quite simple. Prior to these past couple of days I’d decided that I wouldn’t go to grad school and that I wouldn’t work in CJ. But that’s no longer the decision I’ve made. It only took someone to sit me down and tell me what no one else would, that there really is only one choice in the matter…work in CJ.

And if you’ve made it this far now you might be thinking that I can do whatever I want. And that’s exactly what I’m doing with this choice I’ve made. No one is here holding a gun to my head and I wouldn’t be making it if I didn’t think it was the best choice.

And some of you may now be wondering about this blog or my writing, well I’ll keep blogging forever and my writing is just not what I’m focused on right now. I’ll refer you to a post at the beginning of the year here in which I stated that my goals for 2014 were to finish the book I’m currently working on and begin the query process, finish the next book in the series, if those don’t go to plan, then work in CJ. I’m not writing two books before the end of the year and I’ll be lucky to finish the first draft of my current WIP. Sounds like it’s going according to plan, right?

That’s all I have for you today.