Trying to Figure it Out (Confused)

One of the hardest things about life is, trying to figure out what it is you want to do. You grow up hearing, you can be anything you want, but that isn’t always the reality. It’s getting harder and harder to get ahead these days and finding manufacturing jobs these days is very difficult as many of those jobs are being lost to automation or are being shipped overseas. The days of finding a good paying factory job and being able to buy a home and support a family on your wage are gone. A high school diploma doesn’t hold water anymore and a Bachelors’ degree is beginning to spring leaks of its own as a Master’s degree is increasingly becoming the standard in order to find a job.

This is the problem I’m running into. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies and Political Science and despite three internships and extensive research throughout my college days, I’m having a difficult time finding work. Every type of job I want to hold requires either a Master’s degree or five plus years of experience or both and my experience doesn’t add up to enough. I’m currently working a job that is sort of in tune with my fields of study but the pay is fairly low and there is a lack of work/life balance and upper management doesn’t care about your needs outside of work all that much. I would still like to get my Mater’s in Public Administration but recent trends show that the job outlook for people with such a degree is shrinking. I’m asking myself, do I want more debt in student loans if I’m not guaranteed a good paying job to pay off that debt and live on? The shrinking job market is why I decided not to pursue journalism which was my childhood dream, because the need for journalists is shrinking and is projected to continue to dwindle away, and the odds of landing a high paying job with a major network are pretty rare and getting anywhere as a freelance journalist is much more difficult than some make it out to be.

I always told myself that no matter what happened, and no matter how many of my goals I failed to accomplish, the one dream that I refuse to fail at is being a writer. Writing has been my dream since I was eight years old which is when I picked up a pen for the first time and wrote a story. Ideally, I would have liked to have some things published by now, but life and college got in the way. I’ve thought about getting another degree in creative writing but again, is the extra debt worth it? And what kind of job outside of a low-paying job will I find with that? I’m better off sticking with my current degree or pursuing another one that will earn me a decent paycheck and continue to write and work towards publication.

I often think, how great would it be to be able to be a stay at home dad when I have children? I would do the housework, take care of the kids and spend the rest of my time writing. It’s 2017, gender roles don’t or at least shouldn’t exist where it’s unacceptable for the man to stay home. The problem is, I have my own debt, student loans especially. I can’t expect somebody else to pay that off if I’m not making a good chunk of change off of my writing. There’s self-publishing yes, but even that, even with more affordable outlets, it takes time to get a name for yourself and start making enough money to live on. Not everybody will sell as many books as Stephen King even though that is the dream of every writer.

This is what I’m trying to figure out. What would you suggest if you were in my shoes? What are you trying to figure out for yourself? Are you in a similar position? If so, please share in the comments. I hope you figure it out. Let’s figure it out together. In the meantime, I’ll keep job hunting and continue to write and hope to have something ready to go for publication this year, even if it’s a shorter work that is self-published.

-Brett T. Mazzoni



The Day That You Get to Open Windows again

There have been studies done over the years that claim that indoor allergies are worse than those outdoors. Although I have never doubted this theory; I have come to the personal realization that this very well may be true for this summer, I don’t think I have ever been sick so often. It could be the grass, it may possibly be the pollen from palm trees which supposedly bothers a lot of people, maybe it’s these things and they have made their way into the house, or maybe it’s the dust that accumulates regardless of how often you clean. Whatever the reason, I have been off of my feet often this summer and I believe allergies are to blame.

I’m no stranger to allergies, like most people I’m allergic to the pollen of various plants and certain types of grass. My allergies have never been bad enough to the point where I needed to take any medications, prescription or over-the-counter, I’ve usually been able to deal with them and this remains my strategy even though I have had a difficult time. I have come to the conclusion that it is indeed indoor allergies that are causing me to fall ill so often as of late because when I don’t spend a lot of time at home, which is rare, I usually feel much better.  I also think it could be due to the fact that this has been my first full summer in Southern California and my body is just not used to the types of pollen and other allergy inducers that are present, plus I live in an area which is vast desert, and people here tell me that those who live in this region of the state have more severe allergies than those who live in others. I believe it, and sand is no fun unless it’s on the beach. Trust me.

Living in a desert region is also detrimental to one’s indoor allergies because, all summer long, IT IS HOT! If you don’t have air conditioning in your home, you’re going to cook, and if you don’t have it in your car, you’re going to melt within minutes. It’s terribly brutal. Of course, when the air conditioner is on, the windows must be closed and when they’re closed for months at a time, your home doesn’t get aired out which means that all of those nasty things that cause you to cough, sneeze, whiz, feel tired and nauseous hang around. It’s miserable, I know.

I recall growing up in the Mid-West and one of the best times of the year was when summer turned to fall, of course, that meant that winter was coming but you never thought that far ahead. Fall means cooler weather, changing leaves, and football, minus the changing leaves in Southern California. It also meant getting to open the windows and getting in that fresh air. Today, I got to do just that for the temperature today is 84 degrees and that’s a cold spell considering the heat we have endured this summer and tonight it’s supposed to be even cooler. All afternoon there has been a strong breeze too, perfect for walks and airing out the apartment. All of the windows are open, bringing in fresh air and getting rid of whatever has been floating around indoors all summer and making me feel crumby, now hopefully the screens keep much of those outside pests out.

Things as small as opening the windows for the first time in months can bring somebody happiness and much-needed change to the environment where they spend most of their time, in my case at home. When you spend countless hours in the house writing and making videos, a little fresh air can do you some good whether it’s an open window or a walk, maybe both? Since the windows have been open today, I already feel much better!

Do you have indoor/outdoor allergies? Which do you think is worse? Does fresh air do you good? Leave a comment and let me know!

-Brett T. Mazzoni


I inherited my Grandparents’ Stubbornness

I have been called many things, some good and some very hurtful. For the most part, words don’t bother me all that much. The last time a word really hurt me was when I was called a loser by somebody who I loved very much and dedicated five years of my life to. But since I refuse to dwell in the past and insist on moving forward, what hurt me then, cannot hurt me now. As the saying goes, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. Growing up, I was bullied and was called almost every terrible thing in the book. I’ve never had an issue with embracing labels for they do not matter as long as you know the truth. One thing that I have been called throughout my life is “stubborn”. And this is truly a label that I’ve come to accept and a trait which I inherited from my grandparents, though I don’t see it as being stubborn, but rather determined.

My grandparents never had a lot of money, in fact—at one point they were so poor, my mom recalls living in public housing on the south side of Chicago when she was very young. Eventually, my grandfather was able to get an office job with General Motors’ Frigidaire division, the pay wasn’t great, but it helped get the family out of the projects. My grandmother also worked various jobs here and there. They were stubborn in the sense that they refused to allow their children to go without food and shelter. And when my grandfather was forced to retire from GM early and take his pension, he got into real estate and did alright, but he never became wealthy by any means. My grandparents worked a lot of hours and made a lot of sacrifices to take care of themselves and their children. They wouldn’t let the injustices of society keep them down, instead, they were stubborn enough to fight the system and get by in a rich man’s world.

My mother inherited this trait as she made great sacrifices to take care of her children, especially me when it was just us for many years. Stubborn? No. A good parent? Yes. I too inherited this trait, and the reason I bring it up at all is because, when talking to my mom recently about pushing hard, hard, hard to launch my freelance journalism career, and build up an extensive portfolio within the next six months to a year so that I can land a job with a stable and respected media outlet, she said that I will succeed because I’m stubborn like my grandparents. As stated, I see myself as determined. When I was in college, I struggled with math and had to take a few of the remedial math courses more than once. Whereas most students drop out because of these classes, I was determined to pass them and earn my degree in the two fields that I studied. Eventually, I got through them and graduated with a high GPA. My mom made the point, that I’m so stubborn (or determined) that I’ve never let anything stand in my way before, and when it comes to my passion and to my dream, I shouldn’t let anything hold me back now. In all of my struggles, setbacks, and pain—and in my battle with depression, I’ve never let anything keep me down, for as down as I may get, my stubbornness or determination will get me to where I want to be and hopefully soon. So I say, screw it, be stubborn because it usually works out for the best in the end.


To be Somebody’s Inspiration

We all have people who we look up to, who we view as our heroes and those who inspire us in one way or another. But to be told by somebody that you are their inspiration is a feeling that I cannot describe. This is a feeling that I had recently.

I look up to many people in my life, mostly political figures and those who stood up for equality and tried hard to pave the way for a more equal and just society. People such as; JFK, Malcolm X, and Barack Obama. And of course there was my mother who struggled to raise her three children and taught me to never back down , never give up, and never let anybody push you around. She also showed me a lot of tips and tricks to save money for we were far from rich, and I’m still far from it. But recently, a good friend of mine told me that I was his inspiration.

I have known this friend for some time now, he lives in Chicago and I met him when I worked in retail throughout college. We worked in the same department and became good friends. He eventually went onto a different job while I stayed but we kept in touch. One day he came into the store and we began talking. I told him that once I had graduated with my Bachelor’s, I was moving to California. It’s no mystery if you’ve read some of my blogs from last year that I left Chicago with nothing but my clothes and the few belongings I owned and made the nearly 3,000 mile drive. I didn’t even have a job lined up, I just had my dreams and my goals, and the faith that the Devas would guide me in the right direction.

Recently, I got a hold of this friend and I asked him how things were with him. He said that they were alright but he was hoping to get a different job. His dream, he told me was to coach basketball at some level and eventually coach in the NBA. I told him that he could achieve that goal so long as he was willing to work towards it and never gives up. He then told me that I have always been an inspiration to him. I told him that I was touched, and this was his explanation.

He said that when we first met, I had nothing, I was working long hours for low pay, dealing with my mother’s alcoholic boyfriend at the time, going to school full time, taking on all of these hard classes and working on all of these long and extensive papers and projects and holding so many internships. He said that when things weren’t looking up and even when he knew I was down, I always looked ahead. He continued to say, when there was little opportunity in Chicago or in the state of Illinois in general, you weren’t afraid to take that risk and move across the country to seek opportunity and to follow your dreams. I told him that I was working in private security and still working towards my goal of being a published author as well as my political endeavors and looking into graduate school in the next year or so. He said, “See, always fighting and never giving up.”

To hear these words from a friend, from anybody in general are truly touching and for them to be said of me, somebody who came from nothing, watched his mother struggle to get by, was picked on and bullied and told that his dreams and his goals were stupid and that they would never come true, even by those in his own family, to be told that I inspire someone truly touches the heart.

As I go forth and continue to chase down and capture all of my dreams, I’m sure I will inspire many more before my time on this earth passes, like my heroes and my mom did me. And for it, I don’t want nor do I need gratitude, knowing that I inspired you to never give up and never give in without a fight, or to not be afraid of taking risks and making sacrifices to make your dreams and your goals come true, is worth more than all of the wealth in the world. As the saying goes, “One person can make a difference in the world.” That one person can be you as a result of your actions, or the both of us inspiring each other to always move forward.

My Four Life Rules

  1. Never give up.
  2. Sacrifice everything or accomplish nothing.
  3. Remember that there is no progress without struggle and sacrifice.
  4. Never dwell in the past, doing so will only wear you down. Always look ahead.

When you take chances, things change

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog. The last time I posted one was after the Cubs had won the World Series. It’s not that I’ve been lazy or not interested, I’ve been busy. Recently, I’ve gotten into a new job, moved into a new apartment and have been gathering furniture and the home essentials. With all of this going on, I have began to realize how much your plans can change when you take a chance and sacrifice everything in order to accomplish your dreams.

Back in July I wrote several blogs, which I hope you will go back and read about my decision to pick up everything and leave Chicago for California. When I first got to California, I was staying with a friend who was helping me get on my feet and helped me get the job that I now have in private security. As these months have gone by, I’ve realized that my priorities have changed. The plan was to work for a while, get into graduate school and get my PhD. in Political Science, but now after much thought I have realized that this is not the best path forward to reach my ultimate goal. In fact I realized that my original plan before I decided to get my PhD. is the best way to go and that is becoming a probation officer. And California is the perfect place to do that.

Back in Illinois, they’re firing state workers left and right because the governor and the lawmakers can’t agree on a budget and the state is the definition of broke. In California, the state is in much better condition has a balanced budget and is looking for people to go into law enforcement and probation. Now when I first went back to college, it was my intention to graduate and become a probation before I changed my mind, now I’m back to being a probation officer. The reasons for this are as follows; one, I want to make a difference in the world and helping people stay on the track as their probation officer is most certainly a good way to make that difference. Two; my background in social justice will allow me to offer alternatives other than jail and severe punishment to those under my supervision and to the courts, and since California has began experimenting with alternatives to mass incarceration, the system is barking right up my tree. And three; being a probation officer will allow me to make connections with high ranking individuals, judges etc. that will pave the road for my political career. A Master’s degree however; is still certainly in the picture.

There was a time when I said that I would never leave Chicago, then one day after realizing how little opportunity there was there and in the state of Illinois, I decided to take the offer my friend had put on the table and it has been a good decision. And this experience has taught me one thing; that no matter how much we honor our roots and no how matter how much we  love where we come from, sometimes we need to pull up our stakes and try out new places. It may be a blessing as it has been for me, or it may be a disaster, but you never know unless you try. I can honestly say that after being in California for only five months, I have found opportunities and advantages that I did not have in Illinois and for the first time ever, I can see a clear path towards my goals.

When you take chances, things change. Your plans and ideas change. Your path to your goals and your dreams and the path to the destiny you have set forth for yourself changes. Taking chances might seem like a scary thing, but I can tell you from first hand experience that they may very well can be a blessing. One of the most important things to remember is that no matter what you believe, everything happens for a reason. The leaf falls from the tree for a reason. The bee pollinates the flower for a reason, and you end up in different places for a reason. So fear not when it comes to taking chances or embracing big changes in your life, it’s happening for a reason and it’s best not to fight it.

If you’re not a Cubs fan, you won’t understand

You don’t have to be a baseball fan to know that it’s been 108 years since the Chicago Cubs have won a World Series. It is also common knowledge that it’s been 71 years since the Cubs have even made it to baseball’s biggest game. You can blame silly curses and this and that, but whatever the reason was, this year, they made it. For those of us who are Cubs fans, this is the biggest thing ever! Of course it happens after I leave Chicago, but at least it happened.

The talk last night among Cubs fans was about all of those generations of fans who hoped year after year to see the their team win it all, but they didn’t and those fans are no longer with us and will not be seeing this historic moment. The talk was about the great players who have come and gone over the years, Hall of Fame inductees like Ron Santo and Ernie Banks who never got to play in the World Series wearing a Cubs uniform. I was reminded of my grandfather who is no longer with us. He once told me a story about how during 1945 while in the Navy and stationed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, him and several other men who were from Chicago got up in the early hours of the morning while it was evening in Chicago. They were exhausted from battle but hoped that the Cubs would be champions, but they came up short. This has been the disappointment of Cubs fans forever, but the year is finally here.

We all knew that magic was in the air when Tom Ricketts bought the Cubs and hired Theo Epstein as president of operations and Joe Maddon as the team’s manager, not to mention the fact that the team is made up of the most talented young players in the league. Epstein crafted the team in Boston that won the World Series and ended their drought. Joe Maddon crafted a young team in Tampa Bay to be champions, we just knew that our dream was around the corner. It is true that if you’re not a Cubs fan, you don’t understand.

It’s not over yet, the Cubs still have more four more wins to get and the Cleveland Indians are a very good team and I suspect that they will give the Cubs a run for their money. But we’ve come this far, and we’ve waited this long, and we know that this is our year. Along with the rest of my fellow Cubs fans all over the country and perhaps the world, we hope to see that W flag flying high over Wrigley as the World Series trophy travels the streets of Chicago. GO CUBS GO!

Small Steps now, will lead to big steps later

Life is all about taking small steps at the present moment, which will eventually lead to big steps in the future. From the moment you learn to walk as a young child, your first steps are small and clumsy as opposed to big and balanced. When working towards your goals in life, taking the necessary small, child-like steps before making the big strides forward are just as important as those small steps you took when you were learning to walk. It’s coming up on two months now since I left my life behind in Chicago and headed to the west coast and set my feet on the soil of the state of California. My last couple of blogs have been on this topic, so I thought that I would continue on this theme and share with you my progress in the nearly month and a half I have been here and the small steps that I have taken thus far, which will lead to those big steps I hope to take in the future.

First Job 

Like many people with a college degree, my first job out of college is not my dream job, but it’s a paycheck and it’s not at all a bad job. For the past two weeks, I have been working as a sales associate at Pier 1 Imports, as much as I didn’t want to go back into retail which is where I spent the past eight years of my life, including the four years I was in college, beggars can’t be choosers. However; I can’t complain about this job, it pays decent, my coworkers are friendly and helpful, and management is laid back and also helpful and very willing to work with you, unlike my previous retail job in Chicago. Through this job, I have been able to meet new people, coworkers and customers, and I hope that through this position, I can begin networking and making some connections for future endeavors, after all, first impressions and word of mouth are everything. I have been applying to and interviewing for various positions hoping to find a second job as well, for it’s not easy to pay your bills and rent on one part time retail job, and I don’t plan on living with my friend who is helping me get started, forever. Two jobs will be temporary until bigger and better things come along and I go back to school and works towards my PhD.

Back in the rhythm of things

When I first got here, as I stated in a previous blog, I was homesick. Moving across the country and leaving behind the place you were born and raised is a big step and even though I am staying with a friend whom I have known nearly all of my life, it was still hard knowing that I had left so many friends and family back home, but in time, as you move forward, and things begin to fall into place, those things don’t bother you as much. In today’s day and age with technology, it’s easier than ever to communicate with people or take a trip to visit them.

When I first got here and was beginning to adapt, I found it hard to do things that I did routinely. Such as reading and writing, and meditating which as a Buddhist is important to me and my spiritual practice. Meditation is meant to help you deal and cope with things and purify your mind of evils and deal with mental suffering, but even such wonderful procedures as meditation can be difficult as you’re trying to get back in the rhythm of things when dealing with such a big change. Now that I have at least one paycheck coming in and I have a little bit of money to pay my bills, I feel better knowing that I can move forward with my goals. Since I have been working and I feel better about things, I have gotten back to my spiritual practice and meditation as well as reading and writing. I should never have allowed anything to take me a way from my meditation practice, but I look at it this way; by going through the period in which I could not focus on it because of homesickness and worry and could not get myself do the things that I routinely did, I came to realize that as long as I am willing to push forward and just allow things to fall into place, I learned to adapt to change and let things happen as they will. I don’t believe that things happen out of coincidence, everything happens for a reason and in that, I have began taking those small clumsy steps that will allow me to take those big, sturdy steps later.

Minor Setbacks

I am no stranger to setbacks, and let’s face it, none of us are. We have all endured setbacks at one time or another; or if you’re like me, you’ve endured many. Setbacks are a beast that love to blindside you just when things are starting to look up. I’m not going to get detailed with the particular setback I am speaking of for that would be too personal, but we’ll just say that it happened recently, that it is minor, and it will be dealt with. It came just as I thought everything was going well. I had gotten my first job here, I have been thinking about the inquiries for graduate school in the next year or so which is mainly the reason I came to California in the first place, I have been making new friends, and experiencing new things and then all of a sudden a comet called setback fell from space and blindsided me. I couldn’t believe it, when things start looking up, you can always expect something to bring them tumbling down.

Going back to our analogy of life in steps, when you’re learning to walk and you’re taking those small steps, you’re going to fall a lot. Falling is a part of learning to walk, you must first learn how to move your legs and keep your balance and as you practice and you get better and better, you eventually learn to walk without falling so much and eventually you don’t fall at all. As you continue to practice walking, you begin to take bigger and bigger steps until you have mastered the art and walk and strut like the best of them. But even after you learn to walk, you’re still going to trip on the rug, or on that toy left in the middle of the floor, or that bulging piece of concrete on the cracked sidewalk. Life is the same way, just when you think things are looking up and you begin to take the bigger steps in life, setbacks come along and become that obstacle that cause you to trip and fall. Children don’t stay down when they fall during that period when they’re learning to walk, and people no matter what age don’t stay down when the’re walking and they trip and fall on some sort of obstacle. Obstacles do not stop us permanently but only temporarily, so as you’re taking those small steps in life towards your dream and towards your goals just remember that you fall only to get back up again as the old saying goes. When we trip and fall in our steps, we must remember to get up, brush ourselves off and continue taking those small steps and turning those small steps into bigger and bigger steps until we are exactly where we want to be.

This may be the final blog I write for a while about my traveling to California and my experience living here thus far. In the next few weeks I intend to write on different topics but hope that you will read them nonetheless. Thank you.

-Brett T. Mazzoni

Modern Day Pioneer (My journey across the country and my next steps)

It has been approximately one week since I packed my entire life into the back of my car, and dedicated the front passenger seat to my cat and to her crate and headed west for California. I felt like the pioneers who came before me, many years ago, who traveled west and transformed the landscape into what is today the Southwestern United States, even if they did some bad things along the way. I’m sure that many of you who will be reading this, have probably taken this journey before, traveling far from home to chase your dreams, but for me, this is an entirely new experience and for those of you who are considering it, or have never taken this chance, I will share my experience with you.

I’ve divided this blog into four sections and they are: The Trip, the homesickness and the deal reached to cope with it, the job search, and my goals.

The Trip

The journey began at 7AM Central Standard Time when I departed from Chicago. With my packed car and some snacks, I gave my mom a big hug, told her that I loved her and set on my way. My first stop was a rest stop in Iowa where my car’s A/C decided to take a dive, so, I had to put the windows down and drive fast, or as a gentleman I spoke with at a gas station in Nebraska put it, “Put the windows down and drive like hell.” The A/C not working wasn’t a real issue until I got out of Colorado where I spent my first night. Driving through the mountains, it was nice and cool so the A/C wasn’t a big deal, this was also the case when I was driving through the mountains of Arizona, though if you’re not used to driving through mountains on roads that twist and wind every which way and are barely lit when you’re used to flatland, you freak out and drive very slow. If I recall correctly, the speed limit on such roads in Arizona was 65 MPH and I don’t think I went over 45 as people whizzed by me and probably thought I was nothing more than a tourist not used to these types of highways.

I didn’t sleep very well the first night when I stayed in Colorado. This was mainly because me being the neat freak that I am, the Super 8 I stayed in could have been cleaner and could have used some major updating. This is not to say that it was filthy but it could have been cleaned a lot better. I probably could have done more research into pet friendly motels/hotels in Colorado, but this particular Super 8 had middle of the road reviews and was affordable, though I wasn’t impressed. I couldn’t wait to get out of there so I checked out early, stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast and headed for Arizona. The drive through the rest of Colorado through Arizona, I can only describe as a roller coaster through the mountains, up and down, to the left, and to the right, something that I would imagine takes some getting used to if you were to drive these roads daily. The La Quinta Inn in Phoenix was very nice. It was clean, up to date, and the staff was wonderful. I don’t recall how many times I stopped for gas or just to take a break, but every time I did, I made sure that the cat was fed and given water, though she was not so interested just because she hates the car.

Once I got into  New Mexico, I really began to notice how wonderful A/C really is, for even with the windows down and 75 MPH, there is just no replacement for a good working A/C when you’re driving through the desert. I noticed how hot the cat was getting as she began to pant and that really began to scare me. I stopped a few times to see if she would drink, but she wouldn’t because I suspect she was stressed. I had to splash water on her from a bottle to cool her off, she ended up licking the water off of her fur so I knew that she was getting some fluids in her. I got through New Mexico as fast as I could and into California, making my way to my friend’s house in the valley.

What I took away from all of this was; that everything about your car can work great and crap out in a matter of seconds. I realized that chains that I once thought extinct such as Sinclair Oil are still alive and well as you get further west and trucks stops are pretty elaborate with everything you need, you could live in one if you really wanted or had to. As I drove, I took a look at a lot of license plates to see where people were driving from. I thought that I had come a long way, but I saw a few cars with plates from Minnesota and even as far away as Maryland and Maine. People travel and they travel everywhere, and then there’s the people you meet. I have never been one for stereotypes. I believe that people should have an opportunity to show you who they are regardless of race or location or any other insignificant labels society places on people. Every time you think of a state, you think of that state’s residents in a certain way due to stereotypes, and you find when talking to people, that these stereotypes are just nonsense. I did not come across an unfriendly person.

The Homesickness and the deal reached to cope with it 

I knew that eventually I would get homesick, but I didn’t expect it to strike so soon and be so bad. I will admit, that for the first few days I cried, and no, I don’t think it’s wimpy or whatever for men to cry. If you think that, you’re just ignorant. It had been a long time since I cried, the last time was over a year ago when I and my then girlfriend of five years went our separate ways. I had never been away from my mom before and that bothered me, her and I have been through a lot together, good and bad. And I really miss the dogs, yeah I have my cat, but the dogs are family too and  I miss them. I can’t say that I’m completely over being homesick, but I’m sure that in time it will go away. After all, people leave their country for others and leave their family behind to seek a better life, people go off to war and leave their families at home, I’m sure, I’ll survive.

However long my homesickness lasts, a deal has been reached between my mom and I to deal with it on behalf of both of us. First, we agreed to text everyday and call each other once in a while. This way, we know that we’re both safe and we can keep each other updated. 21st century technology is a wonderful thing. Second, we agreed that in roughly one year, after we both save up some money, I will find an apartment for the two of us, move out of my friend’s place and get a place with my mom, this way we will be together again, homesickness will no longer be an issue and I can take care of her as she’s getting older. Taking care of your parents in old age is something that we shamefully do not do in the west, especially the United States, this is just one of the many things that I admire of eastern culture for the younger generations take care of their elders. Knowing myself, I don’t suspect my homesickness will go away completely, but knowing that this is the plan and working towards that goal, will help me cope with it until this plan becomes a reality.

The Job search

Aside from the homesickness, there is one other thing that was truly bothering me about making the trip to California, and that is coming out here without a job lined up. I can’t recall the last time that I was unemployed and I’m the type of person who likes to work not only because I get bored out of my mind if I don’t, but I need to make sure that my bills are paid and are paid on time. I recall one of my favorite college professors from Northeastern Illinois University whom I took several classes with. He once told one of these classes that he grew up in a town in I believe South Carolina, could have been North Carolina, but anyway, he explained to the class that as an African American in the 60’s and 70’s, the town was not exactly friendly to him. Racial tensions were high, he explained. After completing his undergraduate work, he left the Carolinas and with nothing in his pocket made his way to Atlanta where his first job was at Popeye’s Chicken where he eventually became a manager before going to Florida where he studied to earn his PhD. After he had gotten his PhD. he taught in several states before moving to Chicago and getting on the tenure track at NEIU. I never forgot this story and as I made this journey, I kept his story in the back of my mind.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve applied to every place that is hiring. I have plenty of retail experience so I’ve been looking into that field as well. I did apply to the security company that my friend works for, they really liked my resume and my experience and want to bring me aboard, but I can’t start working until the state of California approves my security guard license, I’m waiting for the federal background check to come back and then everything should be ready to go.  This process can take 7-10 business days, today is day 7 since I submitted everything and to be honest, I am growing impatient. I have had several other interviews and two tomorrow. I have also been looking at and applying to nonprofits in the area and will continue to do so, for if I can get into one of those, I would be able to help make the difference that I’ve always wanted to. I should be patient, but I can’t help it. I need to start working, paying the bills, and saving up.

My Goals 

I came to California with several goals in mind. The first of which is my short term goal, to get a job and save up money so that I can get an apartment and bring my mom out here within a year. The second is find a tutor and study for the GRE and begin taking the steps to get into graduate school, which is one of the main reasons I made my way to California, the universities are excellent and unlike my native state of Illinois, there is no budget crisis, there’s funding for the state universities, as well as financial aid. Once in graduate school, I will be studying for my PhD. in Political Science. Once finished, I intend on teaching college for a while, writing, and pursuing some other endeavors. These are my goals and I will do anything that I have to, in order to make sure that all of these goals are achieved. I believe that I can do this and I will.

If you have taken this step in life, then you know exactly where I am coming from and you know exactly what I am feeling. If you haven’t made this journey to any location in the world, I hope that by sharing my experience with you, I have helped you decide or not decide to leave home, but if you do decide to go away from home, remember that it will all work out as long as you are determined and passionate.

Best of luck to you in all of your endeavors.

-Brett T. Mazzoni


Anticipating my Life Changing Moment

Just as the young boy in the picture is anticipating Ol’ St. Nick coming down that chimney to bring him toys and goodies, I am anticipating thus far, one of the biggest moments of my life and the biggest risk I have ever taken. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog titled “Sometimes, you just have to risk it all and go.” That blog was all about my planned move to California to stay with a longtime friend without even having a job lined up. In that blog, I mentioned that I live life by three quotes and one of them is, “Sacrifice everything or accomplish nothing.” That is exactly what I’m doing, going to California to accomplish all of my dreams and goals, one in particular, and I’m willing to risk it all to achieve the goals I have set for myself.

Currently, it is July 20, 2016 10:21 pm CT at the time that I am writing this. At 7 am CT on July 27, 2016 I will begin making that two day trip from Chicago to a town just outside of Los Angeles. My entire life is packed into the back of my 2011 Honda Fit, and I have arranged things in the car so that my cat, Gracie can make the trip with me. The only steps that remain are booking hotels in Colorado and Phoenix and filling the gas tank before I leave. As you can probably imagine, I’m as excited for this journey and this new chapter in my life to begin just as a young child on Christmas Eve knowing that, Santa is coming down that chimney and he/she will have many gifts to open the next morning.

You might be wondering if I’m nervous. You better believe I am, after all, my entire life has been in Illinois. I was born in Chicago, grew up in a small Illinois town and went to college in Chicago, so Illinois and the Midwest is about all I know. The west coast, California especially is a world all its own, but I’m ready for it and I’m ready to adapt. And if I didn’t have a good friend whom I have known since 5th grade and one whom I trusted already living there, I may not be making such a move, at least not without employment lined up. But I’ve been applying for jobs, have a few irons in the fire, and could very possibly get a job with the company my friend works for. Whatever it takes until I apply and get into grad school in California to work towards my PhD. in Political Science and go from there. Even though I am leaving behind family and close friends, I have their support in this move and in all of my endeavors. They know that I’m both passionate and determined and if I fail, I’ll most likely try again until I succeed and if I do fail at any particular goal, it wasn’t because I didn’t try and I certainly gave it everything I had!

I’m anticipating this new chapter, this life changing moment, and this risk as the hours and the days wind down. I am anticipating even more what awaits me in the months and the years to come. I can feel the excitement like electric bolts traveling through my body and I can hardly wait for the 27th to come.

-Brett T. Mazzoni

As a writer, what do I read?


According to the quote website,, horror author Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. It’s as simple as that.” As much as I agree with Mr. King’s statement, I often find it difficult to read and write as much as I would like. Before it was a matter of completing my Bachelor’s degree and my workload was plenty as a double major. Now, it seems that as I am working more and preparing to pick up my entire life and move across the country in a little less than two months, I am again finding it difficult to find the time to do the two things that I love in life, read and write. I talk a lot about carving out more time for these two things, but I end up failing miserably. Anyway, I thought that it would be fun to share with you what I as a writer enjoy reading.

I mostly write Science Fiction. I do have some ideas for mainstream fiction which have never seen life beyond the pages of the notebooks where I write down all of my ideas, and of course one day, after I have earned my PhD and am teaching college for a while, I intend on writing non-fiction based on my research as well. As an author who mainly writes Science Fiction, I do not limit myself to only reading that genre. When I do read Science Fiction it’s usually the classic authors such as Philip K. Dick, Issac Asimov, H.G Wells, and for modern authors, I really enjoy the work of John Scalzi. For fiction, again, I resort to the classics. I’m a big fan of Steinbeck.

I am also a sucker for history. I very much like books that highlight a specific historical event, whether that event took place in here in the United States or in Ancient China, history simply fascinates me. Not only do I draw ideas from history for my writing, but I also think that it’s a good idea to have a good sense of history because as they say, those who don’t know it, are doomed to repeat it. I also very much enjoy biographies. Currently, I have three books which are biographies of Lyndon Johnson that are next in line on my list, one of which I am reading currently. When I need a quick read, say right before bed or I’m waiting somewhere for something, I Google random celebrities or people who have made some sort of significant difference in the world and read about their lives on Wikipedia, as factual as Wikipedia can be which I take with a grain of salt. If I’m not in the mood to read about somebody’s life, I Google a random topic that interests me, for example; recently I Googled and read the Wikipedia article about Alcatraz. I guess that makes sense seeing that I’ll be moving to California very soon.

I am also a political junkie, thus the reason one of my majors as an undergrad was Political Science and this is the subject in which I will be obtaining my PhD in, I also strongly believe that it is important for all people to stay informed about what is going on not only in their own country, but all over the world. For you cannot make a decision at the ballot box if you are misinformed even though I might tell you that you are wrong on a certain issue, I will never tell you not to vote even if I don’t agree with whom you’re voting for. So, I take it upon myself to read news articles about current events and public policy again, taking with a grain of salt what the American media tells me. I also enjoy reading the blogs of my fellow authors/writers. It’s always fun to see what they are working on, or what their perspective of a particular topic is, and just to see the difference in writing style between my own and theirs. From doing this, I have come to realize that even though we all follow the grammar and punctuation rules that come with the English language, not a single one of us writes exactly the same and that is the beauty of writing.

As you can see, as a writer, I read almost everything. It’s as Stephen King said, if you don’t read, you don’t have the tools to write. To say the least, I’m glad that I was the guy who never partied in high school and only went to I think one school dance, skipping out on prom mostly because it didn’t interest me and use that time to read, read, and to write. Now if I could just find the time to write more and get some things published which I intend on doing at first independently, then I’ll feel much better.

My fellow writers or non-writers but book junkies, I ask you, what do you read?