Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

Me these days.

On May 31st, 2016, I moved out of my father’s house and into my own apartment, a little over a week before my twenty-third birthday. Age 22 was a year of struggle and dark feelings for me. True, I spent four awesome months in Germany, but the rest of that year was spent trying to find a job, clashing with my sisters in my dad’s house, and generally feeling like everyone was looking at me like I was doing something wrong or wasn’t trying hard enough every day I didn’t come home with a job. Plus my back problems were getting worse (truthfully, I could’ve done more to take care of that), and that just made everything else worse. When I finally got a job and was able to move out on my own, I felt like things were finally turning around for me.

It’s now May 31st, 2017, an entire year since I moved out, as well as nearly a year since I turned twenty-three. And honestly, Age 23 has been awesome! I’m in a very good place right now, possibly the best place I’ve been in my life.

For one thing, I have a job. A good job, nay, a great job. And even when I’m tired of being in the office for forty hours a week, I love it. Now for those of you who don’t know, I work in a sort-of HR position with a large supply organization with a regional HQ here in Columbus. I say sort-of because we go by another name and we answer to the regional head rather than the head of HR (it makes more sense when you’re in the organization). Anyway, our organization hires and employs a large number of people with disabilities, so my job mainly involves making sure they are able to continue working with us. My main duty is assigning sign-language interpreters to interpret for deaf/hard-of-hearing employees at meetings or events. I also help out with getting employees with other disabilities accommodations, including assistive technology, specially-made chairs or desks, and even work-from home agreements. It’s a pretty rewarding job, and the fact that I’ve got good pay and benefits for it is great. Not only that, I’m surrounded by a great team of people who are not only nice and fun to work with, but they know I’m not always good with social situations, and can help me translate when I’m confused or if I make a mistake. Do you know how great having that is?! My job’s almost a golden goose!

Another thing that’s really nice is I have my own apartment! I haven’t had a space of my own since sophomore year of college, and even then I had to share the TV and living room with God knows how many other students. Now, not only do I have to share entertainment devices with people, but I have managed to create a happy space for myself. Every day I can chill and be my normal eccentric self, and believe me when I say I do chill and be my normal eccentric self (this sometimes manifests as bouts of singing, thinking aloud without worrying who might hear, and the occasional magic portal manifesting at my will. Or do I imagine that?).

Not only that, but I have nearly complete control over my space! I decide where thing are stored or stacked, what furniture I have, and what decorations I keep around the apartment. This is really big for me, as even when I was in college, I was restricted by the dorm or had to work with my roommate on stuff like furnishings and decorations. And at my parents’ homes, my interior designing was restricted to my room and to what I could get permission for. What you put in your space can say a lot about you, so when I’ve had the opportunity and the means, I’ve put in what I like. A couch, an anime figurine (or several), a plastic raven bust, a painting of a witch, that sort of thing. It really helps me feel at home here, and shows people my unique style (which sometimes scares people, but what do I care? I am who I am).

There are other things that have contributed to how good my life is now. The two up above are the big ones, but these definitely help: I’m eating healthier now, and I’ve lost a ton of unnecessary weight because of it; my back problems have improved, in part due to my lost weight; I’m slowly but surely building up a savings account; and my readership is growing slowly but surely as well, both on the blog and with my books.

So yeah, life is good for me right now. And with a bit of luck, life will continue to get better. And if you’re going through hard times right now, just remember that things don’t last this way forever. They can and will improve. Mine certainly did.

That’s all for now. Expect another post tomorrow morning. And until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares.

Back in late 2012, I published a post about a guy who asked me point blank if I was autistic. It was a pretty irking episode for me, and I stewed over it for about a week before I posted about it.

Now, I do have autism spectrum disorder (though at that time, my condition was called PDD-NOS, and was considered an autism-related disorder. A couple years back they put out a new diagnostic manual for this sort of thing, and now PDD-NOS and Asperger’s are just plain autism. At least now it’s easier to say and remember). I contended then and I contend now that while I am on the spectrum, it does not define me or is the most definitive trait about me. I don’t say, “I’m on the spectrum, so I can’t do this or that.” Nor do I use it as an excuse to do things I know I shouldn’t. It’s just one facet in the many that make up my life.

But, as I grow older, I see more and more how my autism has affected my life, especially since graduating high school.

I honestly didn’t know I was even on the spectrum until I was in my late teens. Though honestly, spectrum is not the best term for autism. A spectrum makes you think of a long bar where whatever the bar signifies becomes more intense as you move further along it. Really, autism is a group of characteristics that present themselves in affected individuals, and differs from person to person. Perhaps a better name would be autism characteristics disorder, but I’m not on the board of whatever organization names these things. At any rate, I apparently displayed a lot of characteristics that typify autism from day one, according to my mother (and she’s pretty reliable on this kind of stuff). Of course, she and my dad didn’t realize what the problem was until I was in preschool or so. Up until that time, they just thought the stuff in the baby manuals didn’t apply for every baby. It wasn’t until a teacher told the I was having a hard time understanding what was being said to me that they realized I might be a bit more different than they imagined.

Thus started years of therapy, which I didn’t realize the purpose of until much later in life. I knew I was receiving one-on-one attention, and that I was the only person I knew doing so. I knew I had doctor’s appointments that other kids didn’t go to. I just didn’t question it or think about it too hard. It was part of life, like watching TV or sitting on the toilet. You can think about them pretty hard, but it’s not necessary.

I also didn’t think much about the repetitive behaviors I sometimes displayed, or how when certain things changed in my environment, it could upset me and totally ruin my day. And while I got along well with people, there were times where I would do something, someone would react badly, and I wouldn’t understand the big deal.

Understand, I’m high-functioning. I can get by in society pretty decently. I just see and interact with the world a bit differently. It’s like rearranging a puzzle piece to form a new picture, with the pieces being able to fit where they’re not supposed to go, and I don’t see the difference between the intended arrangement and my arrangement. And that’s probably why I didn’t realize until my late teens, when my mother clued me in that I was on the spectrum.

Autism is often like a weird arrangement of this.

Autism is often like a weird arrangement of this.

Of course, once I got to college, it became much more prevalent in my mental awareness. I met every week with a counselor at Ohio State’s Office of Disability Services, and partly through their intervention, I had my own dorm room with attached bathroom in one of the calmer dorms on the north end of campus for two whole years (among other benefits)! When I graduated, I got my internship in Germany through a program that helped people with disabilities get internships and jobs with the federal government, and a year later that same program helped me get my current position. In my job, I often help people with disabilities receive accommodations for their disabilities so they can continue in their jobs, and use my own disability to help me empathize with the people I’m working with.

So yeah, my ASD has had a huge effect on my life, whether I realized it or not.

But it does not define me. This blog isn’t Rami Ungar the Austistic, it’s Rami Ungar the Writer. I place a lot more emphasis on the writing aspect of my life to define who I am. Judaism as well: I think my religion has done quite a bit to shape me. Not to mention anime and manga, the many books I’ve read throughout the years, my relationships with people, the things I’ve learned in school, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. Those have had just as much effect on me as autism has. And that makes sense, because human beings (I admit, I am a human being, despite my best efforts to say otherwise) are multifaceted creatures. It’s rare when a single one is the defining quality.

And by the way, I don’t see my autism as a disability. I mean, it is a disability, but I don’t necessarily see it that way. Remember that puzzle metaphor? I see my ASD as an opportunity, an opportunity to see the world differently and use that viewpoint to make a difference. Whether that is through my writing, through work, or just by trying to be a decent person. And I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

Happy Birthday to the blog
Happy Birthday to the blog
Happy Birthday, Rami Ungar the Writer
Happy Birthday to the blog.

Five years. It’s been five years since I started this blog, feeling my way haphazardly through the process of writing and posting about my writing and my life (in order of priority), with the hopes of building an audience so that by the time of I published my first book (at eighteen, I figured it was only a matter of time before that happened), I might have some ready readers eager to buy my first book, and every one after.

That didn’t go exactly as planned. But I have gotten a lot out of Rami Ungar the Writer. For one things, I’ve made lots and lots of friends. Angela Misri, Matthew Williams, Kat Impossible, Ruth Ann Nordin, Pat Bertram, Joleene Naylor, Dellani Oakes, and so many more. I’ve had the chance to write for other blogs, including Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, and, yes, I’ve met people who’ve picked up my books and read them.

I’m also this close to nine-hundred followers, as well as so very close to five-thousand likes (like, sixty away! Sixty!). That’s something I’m very excited to achieve, though I’m not sure when either of those will happen.

But it’s more than just stats or book sales. The fact is, you’ve all been with me through a lot. Four years of college, the highs and lows of that fun, crazy experience. Progress in my writing career, including my first three published books, and the creation of several more, which I hope to get out as soon as possible. My study abroad trip, and then my internship in Germany, and all those fun, cool experiences. The long period of unemployment that nearly drove me insane, and finally the beginning of my new job/internship, which I hope will someday become a full-time position (God willing!). All of you, my Followers of Fear, have been with me through these past five years, and I’m really grateful for all the love and encouragement and interaction you’ve had with me. I hope that in the next five years, we can continue with this awesome relationship of ours, and maybe grow to let more people into this awesome community we’ve constructed online.

And that’s what the blogosphere is, when you get down to it. It’s a community. Connections of thousands upon thousands of writers on a million different subjects, getting together to talk about whatever. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m so happy to be part of this community, no matter the size of my following or what we talk about on this blog.

Though I am happy that some of you are into horror and that some of you also read my books. I appreciate that a lot!

Now, onto the other stuff I promised with this post. First, a reader-suggested Q&A, with questions from this blog and from Facebook, as well as a couple of things I wanted to unload off my chest, so I asked myself (yes, I ask myself questions. I just don’t usually answer back. That would be weird). So without further ado, let’s begin:

What is your earliest recollection of your love of writing? (Sherri Kauth, from Facebook)

I don’t think there was ever a time I didn’t love to write. Or rather, a time I didn’t like storytelling. I would draw for hours, pretending I was making a great fantasy story or the storyboards for the next Pokemon movie. When I started learning how to spell and write and read, my pictures were accompanied by words, and as I got older I used more and more words, until I was writing novels. It wasn’t until I was ten that I really set myself to writing (with the occasional flirtation of becoming a mad scientist or a rockstar), but all things come in good time, am I right?

If you had to write in a completely different genre from what you’ve done so far, which one would you choose? (Kat Impossible, from the blog)

Easy, I’d go with erotica! I’ve read erotica before, and there’s definitely an art to it. It’s more than just simple porn, it’s a story revolving around sex. And I’ve written a sex scene or two in my time, one of which ended up in the final draft of Snake (of which someone close to me said, “He nailed it!”). I even have an erotic pen name I’d use if I ever got into the genre, along with some ideas for stories.

Of course, I’m not so sure my current employers would enjoy having an erotica writer on staff. Then again, they’re okay with me writing horror stories, so long as I don’t talk about them at work, so…

What is a favorite hobby besides reading, writing, or watching horror movies/TV? (Joleene Naylor, from the blog)

Oh goodness, that’s most of what I do when I’m not at work or eating or sleeping. Hmm…I guess rocking out to music or reading too much manga. And hanging out with friends, and family too (when I feel like I can retain my sanity).

Who is the favorite character you have created? (Tammy Whaley, from Faceebok)

Ooh, another tough one. In a way, I love all my characters. They’re like my children. Even the psychopathic ones. But if I had to choose, I’d have to go with Laura Horn, from the novel of the same name that I’m working on. In a way, she’s the character that I’ve made go through the hardest trials, and for whom her growth as a character is especially dramatic. For all of that, I want to give her a hug and tell her that she’ll be okay, even though I’m the source of her suffering (like I’ve said before, Writers are Cruel Gods). So I guess her suffering makes her my favorite character. What does that say about me?

What’s something from the past year you regret?

This is one I’m asking myself. Yes, I do have something: back in winter, I said I was going to do a series of posts about mental illness and its portrayal in horror stories. However, since then I’ve been so busy with so many different things, I haven’t had a moment to really work on this series, let alone do a post about attitudes about mental illness in general. So that’s been a problem for me. I felt guilty about it, since a lot of you were enthusiastic about me doing the project. And if I ever have actual time for it in the future, I will try my hardest to do the project. For now though, it’s on a far back burner until I can actually do something about it.

Well, I’m getting to the point where I’m really worrying about length, so I’ll wrap up the Q&A there (too bad, because I wanted to include more questions). Thanks to everyone who submitted questions, and I hope you liked the answers.

And finally, the giveaway. If you are interested in getting an autographed copy of one of my books, here are the rules. Below in the comments, you have to submit the following:

  1. Your name, as it would be listed on your mail (if you have a nickname you’d prefer, we can talk about that later).
  2. Which book you’d like from me (the choices are The Quiet Game, Reborn City, Snake, or Video Rage).
  3. What you find scary personally.
  4. The hashtag #RUscared? (See what I did there?)

Include all that below, and I’ll pick a winner a week from today, on August 9th. I’ll contact the winner, and send them the book, no matter where they live. Excited? Good. Ready? GO!

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’ll let you know if anything comes up before Friday. In the meantime, thanks again for sticking with me through all this time. I really appreciate it.

Big news, my Followers of Fear! On August 2nd, I will have reached five years of blogging! Yeah, five years. This blog (and the wonderful people who follow it, thank you very much for sticking with me through thick and thin) has been with me through four years of college, numerous articles on Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors, two visits to Europe, one-and-a-half internships, a very long period of unemployment, four published books (plus three at various stages of the editing/compilation process), too many short stories to count, a couple of which were published in some magazines and two anthologies, and a weird period of my life where I hunted down a serial killer while consulting with and developing an unusual relationship with another serial killer.

Oh wait, that’s the plot of Silence of the Lambs. Never mind.

Anyway, in honor of the big day, I will be doing a few things differently (and I don’t mean buying myself a cake in honor of the day, though that might happen as well). For one, I will be doing a Q&A, with questions provided by you, the readers. If there are any burning questions you’ve wanted to ask me, you can ask those in the comments up until July 31st, and I will answer them.

However, if you ask me to tell you where I live, or if I will marry you, I will have to decline on both counts. Sorry obsessives, I don’t want to end up in a real life version of Misery or Yandere Simulator.

Also, if you want to know what scares me, I’ll tell you right now: the Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon from the 1980’s. I’m pretty sure the chipmunks from that show are actually the result of a strange genetic mutation, either from nuclear fallout or genetic engineering, and the males in that species all have some deformity in their middles that prevent them from wearing anything but long muumuus. Why else do the Chipettes get actual clothes but the title characters don’t?

I’m also terrified of large spiders. Tiny ones, I can deal with. However, if I can make out individual features on its face or it looks like it could easily stretch across the palm of my hand, I will scream like a little girl. It’s happened before.

I also want to hear feedback from you, dear readers. What do you think I’m doing right as a writer and a blogger? Anything I can improve upon? What posts do you prefer from me? Tell me in the comments below, so I can make Rami Ungar the Writer an even better blog.

Another reason to look forward to the big day, I’m going to be doing a giveaway on August 2nd in honor of the big occasion. I will be giving away an autographed copy one of my books (your choice of which one), that I will send to the winner after winning. I’ll give the full details on the day of the anniversary, so if you want to participate, check in on August 2nd. I’ll announce the winner in a subsequent blog post.

Oh, and one more note: I’ve got a couple of interviews coming up. One is with a blog I discovered through my friend Joleene Naylor, who will be releasing an interview soon. The other is actually a podcast. I’ll be rejoining my friend and colleague Dellani Oakes on her podcast, Red River Online Radio (links to follow soon) to talk books, authors, and maybe reading an excerpt from Video Rage. Get excited!

Alright, gotta go. I’m looking forward to hearing your questions and feedback, and I’m especially looking forward to celebrating this big milestone with you. Let’s have a good time on the second, shall we?

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

I’ve been waiting a long time to write this post. That’s mostly because of paperwork taking a lot of time to get processed, but now all the annoying papers have been processed, so I can finally spill the beans of something exciting happening to me on the job front.

As many of you know, I was set to take a position at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base about an hour’s drive from Columbus, where I’d intern in their legal office as an office assistant. This would be through the same program that took me to Germany last year, only it wouldn’t cost me two plane tickets to take the position. I’d even sent in an application for an apartment a literal stone’s throw from the base. Except for getting my license and my car (that’s still a work in progress, unfortunately), things were all squared away.

You’ve probably noticed by now that I’m speaking in the past tense. Meaning that something’s changed. Something’s happened with this particular job. Well, something did happen. Though it’s not as horrible as you’re probably thinking, based on the way I’m talking.

Late last month, I received a phone call out of the blue from someone at the Defense Logistics Agency, which sends supplies to every branch of the American Armed Forces. They have a facility here in Columbus and they were looking for an intern to fill a position in their Equal Employment Opportunity office. The same sort of office I worked in while I was in Germany. And they wanted me to fill the position, even though I was supposed to be working at Wright-Patt in about a month.

Well, after some thought and some advice from my career counselor and a few other people, I decided to take them up on the offer. It’s a great job, it’s local, and there’s a pretty good chance that it could lead to something full-time after the internship is done. And you know what? It feels like a much better fit for me than Wright-Patt did.*

You know, not too long ago I had an epiphany about job searching: it’s a lot like a spider laying eggs. A spider can lay hundreds or even thousands of little spiderlings, but only a small fraction of them will live to maturity. In the same way, someone looking for a job will send out hundreds upon hundreds of resumes and applications and emails, but only a few of them will actually get anywhere if you’re lucky. And the process of getting there can be a twisted and strange journey.

The process of getting to this job has certainly had its shares of twists and turns. But I’m glad I got to this job eventually. I can’t tell you, I’ve been wanting to get to work since I got out of work. It’ll be good to be in a job, making a difference and earning some cash. It’ll feel especially good to move out of my dad’s house and into a space of my own (I love my family, but they drive me crazy sometimes).

So wish me luck as I start this new chapter of my life. We’re still working on a start date, but I’ll be visiting the facility soon for a Holocaust-themed event, and I’ll be meeting my supervisor-to-be there. Hopefully it’ll be the beginning of a very fruitful working relationship.

Also, interesting enough my Tarot cards kind of predicted this. One of the cards said I would get some delayed and/or disappointing news. Well, six months to get the perfect job might be called a delay. And I need to do more Tarot readings.

*Speaking of which, the folks over there took my plans to switch internships very well. They actually kind of hinted that they expected something like this would happen, and wished me the best of luck. I’m just happy they’re not using voodoo dolls to get revenge on me.

So I finished that outline for that new novel I plan to write for NaNoWriMo later this year. First draft of the outline, anyway. I probably will revisit it again before November, make some more tweaks and possibly add a scene or two. It’s a ghost story, and since ghost stories tend to involve the protagonist or protagonists being affected on a very personal level by the spirits involved, often by exacerbating personal problems as well as actually haunting the people involved (ghosts and ghost stories are very intimate that way, I’ve noticed), I’ll want to make sure that that’s done right in this story before I write it.

Now that that’s taken care of, I’m finally getting around to working on Rose, the novel I wrote as a thesis for my senior year of college. If you’re unfamiliar with that novel, it’s about a woman with amnesia who finds herself trapped in the home of a man who says he’s her boyfriend, her body going through astounding changes which this man says was to save her life. I started writing it in September 2014, went back a couple weeks later to rework the entire story because the direction I was going in at first just wasn’t right for the story I wanted to tell, and finished the first draft in January 2015. Not too long afterwards I did a second draft that I finished around April, and I haven’t touched it since.

So yeah, it’s been nearly a year since I worked on that novel. But between working and living in Germany, writing some original short stories and editing Video Rage twice and giving Laura Horn a much-needed second draft, can you blame me?

Okay, I might have also been a bit hesitant to approach Rose again. During my thesis defense at the end of my senior year, my advisor told me that if I were to get Rose up to the level worthy of getting it published, I would have to do quite a lot of work on it. And not just grammar and spelling, though that was mostly okay. I had to work in new scenes, space out some others, rework a couple of characters, and change a bunch of stuff in the beginning of the book. Add to that the normal work of editing, and I’ve got one hell of a third draft ahead of me. It’s a bit intimidating, almost like starting a new novel and facing a blank page asking for sixty-thousand plus words.

Yeah, the horror writer’s scared of his own creation. Make fun of him and the irony. Go ahead, get it out of your system.

But you know what? I think I’m up for the task. I took Laura Horn, which I was sure would need an entire rewrite, and the worst that it came to was a few tossed chapters and one major plot point subtly changed to better reflect actual circumstances. If I can tackle that (and LH was a much longer book, by the way), I think I can tackle Rose.

And not only that, but with this being the third draft, I think once this is one I can send it to n editor for a final look-over before I get ready to publish the book. So if we’re lucky, I could have Rose ready for publication by the end of the year. Wouldn’t that be great?

So I’m going to get two articles out of the way, and then I’m going to get straight onto Rose (unless I get the notes back on VR, in which case editing that takes precedence). Wish me luck, my Followers of Fear. I’m going to be very busy these next couple of months (though that is kind of my life in general).

I was going to wait a little longer to announce this, but I’ve already announced it on Facebook and Twitter, so I’d be a bit of an ass if I didn’t let you guys know. As you can tell from the title of this post, after about five months of job searching and wondering how long this period of unemployment will last, I’ve finally been given a new job!

To be more specific, it’s another three-month internship with the United States Armed Forces. Instead of the Army though, I’ll be working with the Air Force. Instead of the Equal Employment Opportunity office, I’ll be working in their legal office doing customer support work (more on that later if it’s allowed), and I’ll be working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base here in my home state of Ohio, rather than halfway across the world. Not that I wouldn’t love to travel to Europe again, but I think it’ll cost a bit less money to go and live near work this time (especially without having to buy really expensive plane tickets! Those were a real drain on my bank account).

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether or not I should take this internship when it was offered to me. Five months into a job search, and I was still holding out for a permanent, full-time job. But I asked for a day to think about it, and after talking about it with some people and thinking about it, I realized that while I had job history, I only had so much history and job skills, and that could be a huge barrier in getting me a permanent job. Doing this internship would change that, it would give me a few more skills and some income while I was at it. And while I worked, I could continue the job search without having to worry about my finances drying up (and maybe get out of my dad’s house while I’m at it). So I decided to take it, and I’ve been on a high ever since.

And honestly, I needed this high*. These months of unemployment have been some of the worse in my life, and they only got worse as they went on. There were days I sat on my bed at home, looking for jobs and filling out applications, hoping against hope for a phone call or an email and feeling lower than the earth when none came. Plus there was the occasional friction between me and the folks, which happens when several people are living in one house and at least one or two wish they or others were living elsewhere. Add in the bank account slowly losing income every month, the feeling of being useless if you’re not bringing in money, and a few other things (possibly the winter blues?), and you’ve got a slight case of situation-based depression.

Now that I’ve accepted a job, I’m definitely not going to be feeling that down anymore. We’re aiming for an April 1st start date (since I previously worked for the Armed Forces, the background check and everything else should be much quicker than last year), so in the meantime I’m going to be looking for a place to sublease or do a rent by the month thing, as well as doing whatever else I can to make sure I have a wonderful and productive time in my new position. Hopefully by the time I show up for work, it will all fall into place and I’ll have a blast being there.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone who helped me get this far. My family and friends, and all my supporters online and in-person for making me feel loved and making sure I never gave up. Jewish Family Services of Columbus for their invaluable support and advice they gave me while I searched, and their MAX program for Young Professionals for giving me excuses to socialize and get out of the house. The Big Guy Upstairs, because I like to think that He has a Hand in all the good stuff that happens in my life. And…well, you know. Thanks. I could not have done this without all of you.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It’s getting late, so I’ll be signing off now. Expect another post from me in the next day or two, I’ve got more stuff to post about here that I’m eager to share with you. Until then, have a great weekend!

* This is not encouragement to do drugs. Rami Ungar does not endorse the use of any sort of narcotic substance. Even marijuana. That stuff will mess with you in seriously bad ways.