Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Art of War Blackjack

It's been a little while since I've written about my job at the casino. And since I just came back from one of the funnest shifts I've ever had, I figured today would be the perfect today to write an update.

Hilariously, most of my co-workers have only ever seen me wearing black pants and a white button-up shirt.

I still really like my job.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the more I do it, the more I enjoy it.  Today I had this sort of "a-ha!" moment where I realized that I was putting far less thought and effort into what I was doing than ever and was just letting my movements happen naturally, which was allowing me to engage more with the people at my tables.  And I was receiving a lot of positive feedback from both my players and my supervisors, which felt really good.

I spent my car ride home thinking about my approach to my job and why I think I like it so much.  And with the benefit of thirty minutes of lettng my mind wander, I came back to one of my favorite older posts in this blog about  RPG Analogy.

If you haven't read that old post and don't have time - don't sweat it, you'll figure it out.

I've always been able to harness magic, this is more about learning new schools of it  ;)

When we last saw Shelly Moonbeam (my character-self), she was coming to grips that she wasn't going to be able to complete her quest to support herself as a Blog Writer.  Through luck and determination she was accepted into the local Table Games Dealer's guild, and for the last few weeks her quest has been to go to the casino for ~30ish hours per week and guide other adventurers (my players) through the Card Tables of Chance (my tables) where they will attempt to find treasure (win money).  If she can do this well, she can support herself of the treasure that they share with her for her assistance.

As time went on she gained a bunch of levels in dealing cards.  You gain skills by screwing up, and at the beginning there was no shortage of mistakes to learn from.  For literally the first few weeks of the job, at least one person would remind me to breathe and/or say that they could tell I was nervous - getting to the point where people were no longer saying those things to me is an example of one of her early quests to gain a Dealer Level.

As she gained experience (points), she started to be aware and respectful of the magical powers of the cards she wields.  Everyone comes in with dreams of how awesome it'd be to win every hand and fears of how much it would suck to lose every hand.  Once she started to tap into that nervous uncertainty, she realized the true nature of her job:. to make it as fun as possible for players when they win, and as painless as possible when they lose.

The cards in a blackjack shoe are as easy to control as the waves in the ocean.

In all seriousness, one of my favorite things about dealing cards is that I constantly get to try new ways to interact with people.  While I would never do anything like telling that whole backstory above to one of my players, there are certain little tricks that I've found myself doing that definitely seem to allude to it:  I like to think of these things as the abilities that my character has as the result of gaining levels:
  • I'll constantly refer to the "Blackjack Fairies/Gods/Spirits as the imaginary entity that controls what cards appear.   Blackjack (entities) are the ones who are responsible for dealing players nothing but 12-16s. They're the reason people are always dealt blackjacks after they lower their bet to the table minimum.  When players are generous tippers, they're the invisible force that send down an aura of good luck.  ;)  It's always done tongue-in-cheek but players usually seem to have fun with it.
  • Whenever possible, I try and rally the table to view each other as a team of people who are working together against me, the villain.  Having positive interactions with strangers is a universally fun experience, so to me it's one of the most surefire ways to help ensure that people are having a good time.  There really is no funner experience as a dealer (at least in my opinion) than busting a hand at a full table and having a bunch of strangers all shout "OOOOOH!" in unison and high-five each other!
  • When people are going through rough stretches and are frustrated, I do my best to channel 22-year-old me after I had gambled away a paycheck in the span of an hour.  It sucked, and fifteen years later I'm still able to channel that memory and put myself in their shoes.  This helps a lot when players are angry and taking things out on me - gambling can be a really frustrating experience when you're losing at it, and so I do my best to maintain empathy while not taking any negativity personally.
  • Now that I can shuffle efficiently without looking down or having to think about it, I like trying to use the time in between shoes to get to know the players.  This job is an extrovert's dream come true - I have no issues talking about myself and love asking people questions about who they are / what they do / why they're here.

I imagine that one day I'll go on an Avatar-like quest to find the Blackjack Fairies and learn their ways?

"I needed a word to describe what human beings do when they act like humans, not small machines.  What we do when we are out there putting our stamp on something, something that might not work.  And most of all, I needed a word to describe the generosity and human connection that this kind of work makes, so I called it 'art'.  Because we can agree that a playwright is making art, and that Jackson Pollock was making art, but it's also art when you go to a restaurant and they serve you a dish made with care, just for you." - Seth Godin  (full quote)

Obviously, not every hour on the job is an epic adventure.  Sometimes I'm put at a table with people who don't speak English.  Sometimes people are losing and the best thing I can do is shut up and deal the cards. Sometimes, given the hours that I work, there simply aren't any players at the table and my job is to stand still for forty minutes guarding the chips.  But I feel like as long as I continue to find ways to make the environment more fun - for me, for my coworkers, for the players - I'll be satisfied doing this for a living.  And at this point, I feel pretty confident that I'll be able to keep this up for a pretty long time.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Kitty Pride

Hello everyone, it's nice to meet you!  We're Shelly and Cody's new kittens  :3  We're brothers and we're roughly 6 weeks old.

My name is Trey.  I'm the more adventurous and energetic kitten.  I don't really like being held, but will come in for a cuddle once I sense that it's nap time.

I'm a little bit too small to model hats at the moment, but am pretty good at exploring them!


My name is Maynard.  I'm the more affectionate and relaxed kitten.  I enjoy being held and purr quite a lot.

I hope that I can purr-sue my daddy's line of work!
At some point in the near-future our mommy is going to write a bit more about us and what we mean to her, but we figured we should probably hog the spotlight for this one while we're at maximum cuteness  :3  Here are some videos of us playing to close out this post!

video
We pretty much just eat, sleep, and play around together all day.

video
When we first got home there was a lot of Trey picking on Maynard, but lately we've been evenly matched.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Self-Owned

Long time no write!

Roughly three weeks ago, my iPhone charging port finally bit the dust (literally) and stopped charging the battery.  I had had it for a pretty long time and hadn't kept it in a case for most of it, so I knew it'd eventually happen and had made peace with upgrading my phone once that one finally died.

I didn't really feel a sense of urgency to replace it.  There was no data plan on it, I mainly just used it to play video games and surf the web at home or during my breaks at work.  We have a separate one for talk/text, but it's extremely old and pretty much only good for those specific functions.  Eventually I found a really good deal on an upgraded version on Ebay for a solid price, and ordered the replacement.

It finally arrived yesterday, which means that I spent roughly three weeks without a smart phone.  And in that time, I started looking at social media a lot less.  I'd check Facebook during my breaks at work on the kiosk computers in the break room, but that was more or less it.  I stopped checking my email altogether.  I didn't realize it, but cellphone notifications have a huge impact on whether or not I even bother - without those, I don't really prioritize the certain parts of the internet as highly as I used to.

One of the last pictures taken before my cellphone died.
Not having a smartphone has been an interesting experience.  The more time I spent forgetting to check my social media, the more I started to feel guilty for not constantly updating people with the things that were going on in my life.  I spent a lot of time brainstorming things that I wanted to write about, but when push came to shove it felt more like work than a hobby.  It was kind of jarring to me to realize this, but without the constant feedback of likes and responses from my cellphone, the compulsion to share my life over the internet started to fade.

The lack of a functioning camera was also messing me up.  Humorously, I think I've had one of the most picturesque weeks I've ever had, so of course I wasn't able to take photos.  I'll be writing about that more later :)

Sometimes you gotta force yourself to do stuff that will make you happy, even if there's internal resistance.
I've been giving a lot of thought to what I should be doing to motivate myself to write more, and so I think I'm going to toy around with the format a little bit.  When it comes to blogging, I feel like doing this is similar to working out - I always feel better when I actually commit to doing it regularly, but if allowed to procrastinate I sometimes find it hard to start back up again.

From here on out, the plan is:
  • more posts - right now the goal is 4 meaningful posts per week with the long-term goal to be 1 per day.
  • shorter posts - this is mainly to prevent burnout as I work towards the above
I think that having a cellphone again will help me a lot.  I mean - I like sharing my life with the internet! It's fun to put my point of view out into the world, and I don't think there's anything wrong with the idea that feedback from the people who read (even if it's just "likes" on Facebook) is something that motivates me.

So off we go.  If all goes according to plan  (and I don't want to waste energy worrying about how embarrassed I'll be if it doesn't), expect there to be a lot more to read in the coming days!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Terrific Pacific

June is looking pretty great so far!  Cody and I have been fully moved in to our new home in Lincoln City for a week now, and as it stands I couldn't be happier.

I've never really been the most outdoorsy person, but I plan to fully take advantage of our location and the fact that I get out of work at 10 in the morning to get some sun and exercise this summer.
As I had suspected, Lincoln City is a location that plays up to a lot of my unique quirks.  Living here basically feels like I'm on a vacation, except without the part where we're planning to leave.  It's a tourist town, so there are lots of things to do for fun without leaving the area.  We're across the street from the Agnes Creek Open Space hiking trail and roughly a 30 minute walk to Nelscott Beach.  I used to joke that McMinnville was like the Connecticut of Oregon - sure, I like it more than Forks, but at the end of the day it was pretty much just the suburbs.  Lincoln City has a whole ton of character, and it manages to be interesting without being prohibitively expensive.

Fun facts:
1.  When I moved from Boston to Forks, I moved from ~5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to ~2 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
2.  Lincoln City is even closer than Forks, being 1 mile from the Pacific Ocean.
3.  At roughly ~50 miles, McMinnville is the furthest away I've ever lived from an ocean.
4.  Despite all of this I've never really been much of a beach person or cared about being land-locked - it's more or less just happenstance.
For the first time ever, there is a sense of permanence to my living situation.  I'm not saying we plan to live here forever, but if you told me that my life will remain more or less like this for the next few years, I think I'd be totally fine with it.  The plan now is to make this place as good as possible, and then to start saving up money so we have options when the time eventually does come that we want to try something else.



Me, looking for my phone in my cavernous purse.  (I forgot Cody was holding it)
Predictably, I've felt a lot less stressed ever since I started working.  Even since I started dealer's school, things all just sort of started falling into place.  Right now I feel like all I can do is to stop, appreciate it, and in the words of an old work friend of mine, "keep on doin' what I'm doin'".

Christmas lights and tapestries (I'm aware the tree one is on its side) are Shelly/Cody Classics.  Behind the curtain is our bathroom, bedroom, and Cody's workshop.  We got that white coffee table at a yard sale - Cody is slowly drawing/painting what will hopefully become a full mural on it.

I'm also very happy with the apartment itself.  Cody and I have never lived in a place with (a) just the two of us and (b) space to put things, so having our own apartment is a really nice change from that. There are a ton of nice thrift stores in the area, so we managed to fill the apartment with perfectly fine furniture without paying too much.  We gave Cody the larger bedroom to use as a workshop for his store, which has gone a long way towards keeping the rest of our rooms clean  :)

As usual, I hate posing for pictures so I just asked Cody to snap candid pictures of me throughout the day.

One nice thing about my downtime in 2016 was that I got a lot better at cooking. Cody and I have been using our kitchen multiple times a day, every day - given that I spent pretty much my entire time in Boston eating out every night, I feel like that's been a pretty significant change.

Let there be light!
Our plan is to wall off our patio with a shelf / plants to make it feel more like "our" space, like a first-floor deck.   We also plan to use this wall of the apartment to hang up art projects.  We're not really the type to rush our projects, though.


I don't wanna work;  I just wanna bang on the drum all day.  That's not even true -  I don't mind work.

Work is very good.  I've hit that sweet spot with dealing cards where I'm no longer uncomfortable at all and feel reasonably confident that I know what I'm doing, but am also not bored by it and find it fun to banter and play games with people.  I think I've had a pretty unique experience, having worked for such a long time in office environments and then following it up with a year of mostly unemployment. One of my co-workers asked me if I'm "always so jovial", which I thought was great - I think I just really like being around people, and now that I have a few months down I feel like I found my comfort zone.

Is this... growing up?  My goodness.
One final note:

I've noticed that my blog posts have been a little bit more sporadic in 2017, coming in at roughly one per month.  Unlike last year, this isn't because I'm upset about anything - it's more just that as my life has become stable, I worry that all of my blog posts are the same sort of gushing about things and that it might get repetitive (or obnoxious) so I've found myself spacing them out more.  That might be temporary or it might be permanent, depending on what things life decides to throw my way.

With roughly a year and a half under my belt I'm really glad that I've been able to stick with blogging - not only has it been nice to be able to go back and see how things have changed over the span of a year, it's been a really nice way to keep in touch and let my old friends know how things have been going.  I'm definitely more of a homebody and less outwardly social than I used to be.

Thanks to everyone who has shown an interest in how things have been going out here!  I genuinely appreciate it.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May FlowerSpeak

Cody and I are moving to Lincoln City, OR!

Things are looking good.

I can't wait.  McMinnville is fine and overall I'm thankful for the year I spent here, but if anything the experience gave me a lot of insight into what I want in life, and living in a community is no longer it.  I re-read the post I wrote when I moved here and it feels like someone completely different than me wrote it.  Back then, I wanted to live in a place with efficient systems and scheduled meetings for communication and felt like the homestead was the right way to accomplish that.

In that year my opinion changed.  I think we found out that what Cody and I actually want most is to live in an environment where (within reason) we can do whatever we want, whenever we want.  It's hard to have that when living with a lot of roommates, since compromise is a necessary part of co-existence with that many people.  The best practical example of this that I can think of came when the house agreed to do chores on Sunday afternoons - that seemed great, until football season started.  I found myself faced with a choice between what I agreed to do (clean) and what I wanted to do (stay in bed and watch football).

It was a good metaphor for how I started to feel about communal housing.  I have nothing against it, but I don't think it's for me.  Not anymore.

Pretty much all of the people that I've gotten to know through my current house in McMinnville are cool and I'm optimistic that we'll stay in touch as friends.  But at this point - I'm in my late thirties and I'm in a relationship with someone with whom I wish to spend the rest of my life.  Once I started working and we had the financial means to do so, Cody and I started talking "long term plans" and decided to look for our own place.

I suck at posing for pictures so I asked Cody to just take random candids of me.
I drove to Lincoln City yesterday to check the area out and drop off our security deposit, and it seems like a perfect combination of what Cody and I wanted.  The apartment is affordable, pet-friendly, and reasonably spacious - there are two bedrooms so we'll each get a room to decorate / use as we please.  It's close to Highway 101 (the "main" road in Lincoln City), but it's far enough up the road from it that our apartment complex seems private and peaceful. 

Lincoln City looks great!  Cody wanted a place that had reasonably easy access to nature, and it feels like we struck gold there.  For starters, it's right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.  And there are woods and campgrounds and state parks (check this out) galore - I think it's a really beautiful place.  It's a beach city with a lot of character - it's like if you took the best things about Forks and Cape Cod and combined them. I think I'm going to like being there a lot.

There's a casino right in town, and it's the primary competitor of the place I work.  I've never actually been there, and while I'm sure I'll play poker there every once in awhile I fully intend to keep my job at my current place.  I feel a certain sense of loyalty since they trained me on their dime, and I get along well with my co-workers and am pretty much satisfied with all aspects of where I work, so I'm not trying to rock the boat. The only reason to even consider it would be the commute, and I like my commute.

Note: these pictures aren't actually of Lincoln City, just a hike we went on.  It's all pretty similar though.

Sure, I work the graveyard shift, so when I wake up it's dark out and the rest of the world is sleeping.  But then, I go work in a place where there are still usually other people and there are no windows, so it doesn't really feel out of the ordinary for me.  It wasn't until yesterday that I started thinking about it and realized that I actually get more non-work daylight hours in which to live my life than I would on any other shift.

I understand that the graveyard shift isn't for everyone.  Many of my co-workers have children or significant others or a social circle that keeps more normal hours.  But at this point in my life, it very much seems like it's going to work for me.  I've been given advice on how to change work shifts should I ever want to, but I'm honestly happy with what I've got.

When I look into the future, here's what I see my average day looking like
  • wake up at 12:45 a.m. and get ready for work
  • 30-40 minute drive to work at night (aka "time to wake myself up")
  • deal cards (which I enjoy)
  • 30-40 minute drive home during the day on a scenic route (aka "time to myself to listen to music")
  • get home at 11 a.m. with roughly 7 hours of daylight (with Cody home/awake) before I'm trying to go to sleep
  • chill at home, or hike, or hit up the beach, or go do something in the city
  • sleep at 6 p.m.
While I'm sure that things will come along (as they always do) to throw a curveball into my plans, right now I'm extremely aware and appreciative of the direction my life seems to be taking.  Meanwhile, I can't remember any other point in my life where I've felt this optimistic and excited to see what the future brings.

Don't stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to.
I want to close this post by thanking everyone who has been supportive of me over the last year and a half. There was this little cloud of stress that hovered above me for pretty much all of 2016, and I think I would have been a lot worse off if I didn't have so many wonderful people in my life who have shown that they care.  Writing in this blog, and having people go out of their way to read it, is something that I see as a huge compliment and I hope it's clear how much I appreciate it. :)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Good Luck

After nearly a year spent in Oregon feeling lost and directionless, I landed a job dealing cards.  It's been two weeks now since I started, and I couldn't be happier with the choice I made to go to dealer's school.

I think there are people who have known me for a decade+ who have never seen me in black pants and a white button-up shirt before.  Cody thinks I look cute in my uniform :3

I'm practicing "better safe than sorry" with regards to my job and this blog, so I'm not going to name it by name.  That said, it's an awesome place to work.  Everyone that I've met so far, from the students in my class to the teacher to the other dealers to the pit bosses and supervisors and managers, has been encouraging and supportive and mindful of the fact that it can be a pretty intimidating job at the very beginning.   I've been in a perpetual good mood ever since starting, and so I wanted to write a little bit about where things stand.

I don't mind the work.  Like, not at all.  I'm basically getting paid to play games and do quick math in my head. That's not to say it's easy - there are a lot of things I need to be doing and keeping track of at all times, but it never really feels like work.  The more I do it, the more I feel myself getting accustomed to all the little ins and outs of how to deal, and I like feeling myself improve as the days go on.

My "customer service" approach is simple and honest:  I actually want the people who sit at my table to win. Sure, tips are a factor, but it's more that I'm usually talking to the people who are betting with me and sharing that moment with them, and that in turn usually makes me legitimately root for them.  One of my funnest moments as a dealer so far has been on a table where I was getting absolutely slaughtered and couldn't win a hand, which meant that everyone at my table was winning.  During moments like that, what I do doesn't feel like work at all.

Of course, my wanting people to win doesn't change the cards in the slightest.  You get what you get.  I've had a few of opposite types of moment where I deal myself a bunch of 20s and 21s in a row, and it can get pretty uncomfortable.  In those cases, I remember that I've had my fair share of moments in my twenties where I was the person on the other side of the table, losing money when I really couldn't afford to.  Having that experience helps, I think - I try to be respectful of the fact that it's a pretty rough feeling to lose on the tables.  I don't take it personally when people get upset, and to their credit, most guests go in expecting to lose and are cool with it.

The weirdest thing about the job has been getting used to the schedule.  Right now I'm on the graveyard shift, working from 2am - 10am Saturday through Wednesday.  This means going to bed when it's light out (around 5pm) and waking up around 1am most nights.  While I reserve the right to change my mind on this, right now I don't mind my hours too much.  I haven't had the type of social life where I care about nights or weekends for more than a year now, and in my limited experience working graveyard has a more relaxed vibe than other busier shifts.

The work night is broken up really well.   For every hour spent dealing, we get a twenty minute break to recharge our mental batteries.  This is important, because when I'm on the tables I pretty much have to give the game 100% of my undivided mental attention.  I like this system a lot - I've always been the type of employee to cycle between working extra hard and slacking off, so it's good for me to be in a field where that's more or less the expectation.  During our breaks there's a dining room with good/free food, so I usually kick it in there.

Cody drew this for me a few months back when I was feeling lost and directionless.  It's funny how the job that I ended up getting actually involved running games.

Becoming a casino dealer completely changes the game for me.   The main things that have been holding me back since we moved here were boredom and lack of money.  Now that I feel like I have those two things covered, I feel really optimistic about what the future will bring for Cody and I.

We're in agreement that we want to move into our own place - as it stands right now, that's the next major life change on the horizon for us.  Being 37 and in a committed relationship, all I really want out of life at the moment is to find stability and a place that we'll want to call home for awhile.  I want something close to the casino that isn't too far from other people, and Cody wants something in the woods.  It's western OR, so those requirements don't seem all that unrealistic.

Although there's still plenty of time for this sort of thing, I'm already excited at the prospect of learning how to run craps and roulette games.  They're seen as more advanced game (and pay better) because there are more things to keep track of and more complicated math to process, but those are the things that I find fun about the job. It doesn't need to happen anytime soon because I'm still really new, but it's nice to know there's room for advancement while still allowing me to basically do all the stuff I like.

So yeah - all in all, things are looking up.  I haven't felt this un-stressed and excited for the future since leaving Boston more than a year ago.  Thanks to everyone who has been cheering me on through everything!

Monday, March 27, 2017

March Madness

I apologize for the length of time in-between posts.  I didn't really want to write any more about the class until I knew for sure what the outcome was.  I wrote out a post that essentially came out to 10,000 words for "I'm sweating bullets" but felt like posting it would be jinxing my chances.  On a positive note, at least now when people are superstitious in front of me at the card tables, I'll be able to empathize a little bit.

I got the job!

Cody drew this for me way before I ever actually thought I'd get hired.  The brown hair is a nice touch.

Sometime within the week, I'm going to start dealing table games professionally!  To say I'm excited would be a massive understatement.  I actually can't remember the last time I've felt this happy with things and optimistic about the future.

I left Boston more than a year ago with the intent of finding something new to do with myself.  It took me a little while and there were definitely failures along the way, but I genuinely feel like this job will potentially mark the start of a new career for me.  I always used to say that the reason it was hard to leave Boston was that I was fully aware of how good I had it, getting paid well for a job I enjoyed doing.  After a year of not working full-time, I kind of feel like I've found another one.

I really like dealing cards.  Like, I literally find it fun to do.  I feel like it combines three relative strengths of mine:

  • Following Game Rules and Logic - I played Magic: the Gathering, often competitively, from 1994-2009, and have played fantasy baseball/football with friends (also competitively) every year since then.  I've been playing poker on and off ever since I turned 21, and at least weekly for a lot of the time I've lived here in OR.  I never really thought of any of that stuff as resume'-relevant, but I feel like it's helped.  I'm going to find it fun to try and master the process of the games so I can do it as quickly and correctly as possible.
  • Quick Mental Math - I've always enjoyed trying to do math quickly and correctly in my head.  I found it to be engaging growing up - it was the only subject where I would consistently do my homework.  I love finding opportunities to do math - another reason I like gaming so much - but for the most part they're few and far between these days.
  • Interacting With People - I always saw that as the reason I preferred working in desktop support over other I.T. work.  I really like environments where I get to talk to a lot of people on a regular basis.  I've never really had a job where keeping customers entertained factored in, but I welcome it and honestly look forward to it.  I'm sure it will be challenging at times, but for the most part I think the positive interactions will outweigh the negative ones.

Me, immediately after my dealer's audition but before I knew the results. Or, as I like to call it, "the longest five minutes of my life".  I started taking selfies just to distract myself from the tension - this was the best one I got.

When I first started dealer's school, I genuinely thought of it as my plan B.  I was still strongly considering the desktop support job, but to my surprise I felt really strongly that dealer's school was more what I wanted to be doing, and so I followed my gut and put as much effort as I could into doing well in class.  I recently realized that blackjack class is quite possibly the thing that I've taken the most seriously, perhaps ever.

The closest thing that I can come up with to describe what I went through in the last two months would be to compare it to transitioning ten years ago.  At first, it was hard because I didn't know anything - but every time I learned something new (or screwed something up), I started to build up confidence and have faith in my ability to get through it.  And eventually, a vision of a future where I'm happy started to emerge, and I started to think that it was actually possible that I could get there.  With that, however, came the undeniable fact - I was emotionally committed to wanting the job, and there was no way to sugarcoat the fact that it was going to hurt me a lot if I didn't get it.

"Transitioning" is actually a reasonable term for my recent shift in perspective.  I kind of feel like I've aged a lot in the last year, and it's almost a little jarring to realize the little ways in which I've changed since leaving Boston.  Even when I go back and read the beginning of this journal where I'm all  "I'm never working for someone else again!", present-me wants to go back in time to past-me and slap her in the back of the head.  As it stands, I've spent the last month wanting nothing more than to find out I'd have another full-time job so I can start saving money for the future.

I mean, I'll still always be me...

Thankfully, I won't need to chop my dreads off.  As it turns out, the company was willing to modernize their policy, because "they want me to be able to succeed there".  As far as I'm concerned, it's now on me to deliver and be as good at dealing as I can - hopefully, it will turn out to be a rare win/win situation at the casino!

Soon after posting this, I'm going to dye my hair back to its original color and remove all the beads from it. One of my roommates asked me if it stings to normal-ize up my hair, and the honest answer is that it doesn't. I kind of like the idea of my appearance changing slightly to mark what's sure to be a new period of my life.

On that note - this blog might be undergoing some changes in the near-future.  Now that I'm going to be working in a position where I will interact with customers regularly, there's now some merit to wanting to have a degree of privacy in my life.  I'm not saying I'm going to stop writing, but I might choose to archive the old posts and start moving forward from scratch on something new.  I haven't really figured any of that out yet but it's going to be on my mind.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has been encouraging me through this process!  I was going slightly crazy waiting to find out the final verdict on the job and you all helped me a ton, even if I wasn't always the best at showing it.