IMR: 1999: September: 25 —  Saturday, 10:52 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

Big hair bands. Lord have mercy.

Jen's jamming to "All Time Rock Hard Videos — A to Z" on MTV. I think it's been going on for six hours now (though fortunately I've only been subjected to 90 minutes so far), and we're only up to 'E.'

I just don't see the appeal. I mean, most of these "rock hard" guys look like girls. Like the Hanson kids, but with stubble and tattoos.

And now, nearly a decade beyond their day in the sun, do these rockers watch these old videos of them humping guitars and getting their armpits licked by frizzy-haired silicone-enhanced blondes and ask, "What the hell were we thinking?"

What can they be possibly doing with themselves, anyway? These ogres don't look like they were the mutual fund type.

There are a few newer bands mixed in, sure. But Jen took the words right out of my mouth: every single solitary one of them sound exactly like "Korn." Not quite enough to fuel her dream of a heavy-metal comeback.

Disillusionment seems to be the theme of the week.

I'm not exactly doing well in my one class, and worse, I'm finding it really hard to care. After six years and well over a hundred credits, it just figures that the last few classes I need will be the most trying. It's not that they're going to be hard. I'm just tired.

I'm clinging to a floundering little program (not even a department any more) to get a B.A. that will be useless in this one-horse town and is in a field that no longer holds any real appeal to me.

I love thinking about journalism, sure, but I suspect I've lost any ability to practice it. And sadly, there's no money to be made just complaining about it. I also suspect that even people just starting at any J school this year are going to come out in 2003 with brains full of outmoded, obsolete, and irrelevant ideas. The future of all media is the hottest big mystery out there, but everyone agrees that things will be nothing like they are today.

Things were most bleak earlier this week when Dr. Brislin declined my request for an extension on an assignment. That in itself wasn't so bad, but he basically said, "You have to decide what's more important: school or work."

And coincidentally, I had just started to fall out of love with my job.

It was silly, really. I was bummed that we'd lost so many great people all at once, and had simply spent one too many days moving furniture, getting tangled in wires and unscrambling IP problems. The irony nagged at me: we were scrambling to set up the brand-new offices in the finally-completed extension right when two of our existing offices had suddenly gone empty.

Meanwhile I had to come to terms with the fact that the corner where I sat, which had been converted into a fancy receptionist's desk with a fancy counter, would be where I would continue to sit. Webmaster, network administrator, and now, parking validator.

That fact came with a sobering realization: I am simply not qualified for, nor wanted for, tasks beyond those of a very senior intern. I harbored no suspicion of malice — it was simple reality.

So that was that, I thought. My dedication to my job was threatening my studies. But while my academic obligations were already discouraging me, I clearly need a degree if I'm going to get a worthwhile job... or even keep my current one.

I snapped out of my downward spiral quickly, though. Now, in fact, I feel a little stupid.

I'm going to finish school. Even if for no other reason than to not give Dr. Brislin the satisfaction of flunking my muckracking ass.

And I have always, always felt that I was underqualified to work where I do, with the people I do, doing the things I do. At any time, a fresh-faced MBA graduate will show up with MCSE or Cisco certification on his resumé.

So I'm beyond lucky to be where I am today, for however long it lasts. They came looking for me, for one, when getting a full-time job was the furthest thing from my mind. Yet I've stayed in school (albeit barely), and still earn enough so that Jen can stay home to raise Katie. (My raise, which kicked in Sept. 1, has also helped a lot.)

I get to immerse myself in the web, and also have a wonderful opportunity to learn about international business and government policy — stuff that was all greek to me only a year ago. My (remaining) coworkers are, if anything, thoroughly interesting people. And if there's any time to be affiliated with our office, it's now, with the buzz surrounding our March conference building slowly into a roar.

Heck. Even if I get tossed out before then, the last 13 months have been unforgettable.

So now I have to sign for packages and hand over the bathroom key between OCR scans and HTML tweaks. There are worse ways to spend a day. "And look at the bright side," someone said yesterday. "If you ever screw up on some huge important project, you can say, 'Hey, I'm just the receptionist!'"

Got my workout this morning at the library doing a quick sweep of the ground floor. Decided to save the second floor for next Saturday.

Now, as of a couple of weeks ago, I'm no longer under the purview of the state's community service program. Debt to society paid in full. Given the earlier battles over my job descripion, the library board didn't expect to see me at all anymore. But, much to Jen's dismay, I'm still going in as a regular volunteer.

I figure I'm such a selfish and greedy bastard most of the time, it would do me good to do something good that I don't have to do. Besides, I'm only giving them a couple of hours now, instead of the whole day. And janitorial duties are off my list. I just cleaned today because I felt like it.

Most of what they want from me now, besides basic clerical help, is computer related. Recently I'd helped them resurrect a second-hand Hewlett-Packard desktop and a donated printer. Today, I got them set up with internet access through AltaVista FreeAccess, which — surprisingly — actually included Hawaii in its fledgeling network.

Of course you have to have a floating window of ads on your screen at all times, but if you're a non-profit that can't spare $19.95 a month, it's a pretty good deal.

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 25 September 1999 · Last Modified: 27 September 1999