Three Years ago Today…

Three years ago today I graduated from the University of Houston Downtown with honors. I immediately started writing my first book. I self-published it in October of that year. I’ve read a lot less in recent years than years prior. And I’ve yet to decide on a career path.

I just spoke with an old friend of mine today who is now working as a nurse in a hospital making a good salary. And I know of others who had jobs before even finishing school. And I’m just here.

My current job search is the most advanced it’s ever been. I’m applying for jobs almost daily. And they’re wide-ranging.

BUT three years have passed since one of the great days of my life. And I’m still proud to have experienced it. I’ll have to figure out the job thing soon. But I still have a full-time job. So I’m okay.

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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.

 

2014: What do I think of you?

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Photo Credit

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: Getting your degree

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Photo Credit: Degrees Finder

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write the first Saturday of each month in which I discuss a topic that is unrelated to my typical bookish posts. You can read the previous posts here. This week we’re going to talk a little about college. And that ever moving target we all know as a degree. But first, let me tell y’all a bit about my experience.

My time in college started in August of 2010. This came of course immediately after graduating from high school in June of that year. I didn’t step foot on campus until orientation, which happened in July. My first thoughts were not all that positive. See, the University of Houston Downtown is in downtown Houston. There are skyscrapers and a million gazillion cars everywhere, people walking around in suits, there’s the county jail…suffice it to say that there is A LOT going on in downtown Houston. As there likely is in the heart of any metropolitan area. So I don’t know how I still managed to think that I’d have that picturesque college campus. Nope. The school consists of six buildings that are within walking distance of one another. North and South Towers, which are literally towers. I think they’re 13 stories high? Academic Building. Commerce Street Building. Shea Street Building. One Main Building. Why am I telling y’all this? My experience is immediately different from the experiences of most students just in the layout of the university. There are no huge areas of green grass surrounding any buildings. There aren’t extravagant buildings added each year. Though two of the buildings have been added within the last decade. The point I’m making is that UHD has a different feel to it than most universities. There aren’t even dorms.

Now just a little more about my experience while I was there. I never considered taking part in any fraternity or association on campus. It just wasn’t for me. I never really thought to make a bunch of friends or socialize, to be honest. My philosophy while I was in school was essentially go to class, sit in the front row, take notes when necessary, get home as soon as possible once class is over. I’m not kidding. I could easily go days in class without speaking to anyone. Because I was there to get the piece of paper I have sitting right here in front of me now as I write this. The degree. And no one I went to school with was going to help me get it but me. I stuck with that philosophy throughout my time in school. And guess what it got me? Not only did I get that degree I was after, but I did so with honors while being the youngest in my graduating class. My time at UHD ended on May 15, 2013, the day my graduation became official.

But this post isn’t all about me. I’m 22. I know A LOT of people still in school. My high school graduating class is now four and a half years post graduation. You and I both know that some of these degrees that are being sought will never be earned. Why? Because my philosophy doesn’t seem to work for most people. All you ever hear about is the college experience and how great everyone wants those years to be. That’s great, but I’m afraid that too many people have lost sight of the actual goal. See, the goal isn’t to have sex with as many people as you can or to see how many weekends in a row you can find yourself over the toilet because you don’t know when it’s time to stop drinking; it’s that degree. At least for me it was. I was one of those guys in high school who constantly said how smart I was but I didn’t try (I graduated #427 out of 527). Because I knew college would be the time for me to put up or shut up. I put my money where my mouth was and got down to business the minute I walked on campus.

Another part of the equation I’m thinking about now is how many kids don’t particularly care about what they’re doing because they have parents who are paying for their new car, their off-campus apartment, and everything else they NEED while they’re in school. See, I didn’t have that. My parents cannot afford college tuition for any university, so all of my expenses were paid for by grants, scholarships, and the federal government. That was my incentive for staying focused on the goal at hand. Sure my GPA was high and I was getting paid to go to school, but if I decided to slack off for a semester or two I’d struggle to find the money to pay for future classes.

This post isn’t meant to say that every single person should go to college and get their degree. That’s not what I’m saying because I know that college isn’t for everyone. Quite honestly, I’m not even sure it was for me. But I gave myself three years at a university to get it done and I did. And if I can, so can you. But you have to want it. You have to be focused on what it is you’re trying to do. Do you want to be one of those students who spends nearly a decade in school without getting your degree? Or do you want to become a graduate?

My message to you would be to forget about that upcoming Halloween party. Forget about what you’re going to do for your friend’s 21st birthday. Go study. If that’s too much to ask, then read a book and get off Twitter. Focus on the ultimate goal of the college experience. You have the rest of your adult life to make memories of things of much greater significance than that frat party.


Whew. Sorry guys. I sat down to write this and had no idea what I was going to say.

 

A Year After Graduation: My progress

One year ago today my name was announced as I walked across the stage at the Spring Commencement of the University of Houston Downtown. Before we get into what I’ve done in the 365 days since that wonderful day, let me tell you all a little about it.

I woke up extremely early. Around six. Guys, this may be regular for some of you, but I do not EVER wake up this early. I ate a rather large breakfast because the ceremony wasn’t set to begin for another four hours, and then I wouldn’t get to eat for several more after that. Then I did the only thing I could. I got ready.

About five hours later the name John Raymond Guillen, Cum Laude, was announced. I know this happens a gazillion times every year in America, but I came so close to crying on stage in front of about 1,000 graduates and like 20,000 friends and family members. It wasn’t because it was unexpected. Or because I was the first of eight siblings to make it to this day. It was simply because I’d done it. I had maybe 25-30 family members and a few friends there for me. But only three friends went to our little lunch get together afterward, and I told them I’d never forget that they were there. Because it turned into a 13-14 hour day for everyone involved. Mercedes, I love you. Grant and Nathan, same goes for you guys.

I didn’t cry during the ceremony. Or before. It wasn’t until I started reading all the graduation cards I’d gotten that I finally did. I was graduating from college and it was writing that got me to cry. Now let’s see what I’ve done since then.

I wrote a book

This is definitely something to be proud of. The day I received my author proof is still probably the second best day of my life. Behind graduation up there. And the only things that could even come close to it that may be happening within the next decade or so are my wedding day, getting an agent, and getting a publishing contract.

I started a blog

Starting a blog isn’t significant in itself, it’s the people I’ve met from blogging. You all might think I’m crazy, but I seriously love you all. Did I ever think I’d be approaching 1,000 followers, ever? No. Did I ever think I’d talk to so many great people just about everyday? No. I could name like ten of you guys who I thoroughly enjoy talking to, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone. BUT I want to name one. Mahrukh. Oh my goodness. Could you imagine if I’d never started a blog? Then I wouldn’t have found yours. Then we wouldn’t talk. I mean, it’s almost scary. I’m lucky. And so are you. 🙂

But that’s it. I wanted to have so much more by the time this day arrived. I was supposed to have my second book written by January 1. I was supposed to finish writing my current WIP and have another book written by the time 2014 came to an end. I was supposed to be working toward getting an agent by now. But I’m not. And I don’t think I have the time to write another book once I finish the one I’m working on. And I don’t know anything about agents or query letters or anything.

I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m completely disappointed with myself. I’m not. I just wanted more from the last 365 days than I’ve gotten. I need to get with it. And soon. I don’t want 2014 to end up being the year of accomplishing nothing.

I’ll leave you with some pictures.

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ImageImageNow I need some words of encouragement from you guys.

First Signing Scheduled!

Can you believe that?! My first signing is already scheduled! Honestly, I know how hard it is for any author to have a book signing, so for me to have one within nine days of the release of my first book is pretty awesome. At least I think so.Let’s get into the details as to how this came about.

Today I went to the wonderful university that was nice enough to award me a degree. I actually hadn’t been back since graduating in May and my purpose for this trip was to give a good friend of mine her copy of my book. I also had intentions of meeting with a former professor who has expressed great interest in my writing and asked me to go by her office. Well, as I’m walking up the steps into the building I spot my professor. So we start talking about the book and all kinds of stuff related to really getting the word out about it. Ten minutes passed and my friend was still talking to a professor. So we walk upstairs and my professor discusses my book at length with the top business person of the criminal justice department. For a good five-ten minutes. Then she moves to discuss it with the department chair and she is just running around telling every person who will listen. It was pretty awesome.

We ultimately decided that i should attend the CJ Majors Day that is taking place on Thursday. This event is meant for declared criminal justice majors and also students who have an interest in doing so in the future. There’ll be advising staff and various area police departments recruiting, and me. Who better to pitch my book to than criminal justice students?! I get to make a fancy display and I’ll have a table set up and everything. I’m kind of scared. Really scared.

AND I signed my first book for someone!

Even though I don’t think any of you are in the Houston area, here are the details anyway:

The flyer can be found here.

University of Houston Downtown

Houston, TX 77002

CJ Majors Day

10:00AM-1:00PM Thursday, November 7

C100, Commerce Building