Saturday, October 22, 2011

Looking back, looking forward

While I have been revamping the look of this project, I have gone back and reread entries from my past blog on livejournal. The intent of my entries on livejournal was to keep friends that lived in other parts of the world updated about my activities. Then I joined facebook and I sacrificed content for silly snippets and sharing videos. I enjoyed reading my posts on livejournal in the way that others say you will enjoy your high school journals. I tossed my high school journals, unread, without a second thought. The petty dramas and emotional insecurities of teen-me are not something I needed to revisit. Not that my livejournal entries are free of drama – they were written during my university years and one is not that much more evolved at that age.

But I could revisit things that I had done and events that I had forgotten about. The everyday interactions with my friends and eventually my work colleagues. I was also able to read the entries in my voice – the one thing my writing has always been called is conversational. While that’s not really appropriate in an essay or in much of fiction, it is something that I like about my writing. It is distinctively Kirsten. I don’t think that these entries are missing that characteristic but I do think they are often more stylized. When I picture the audience for this project it is not just the crowd of friends that were my livejournal audience. Which is a conceited notion since I know that the only people who do read these entries regularly are my friends. (And thank you for that!)

I think that my revised goal for this project will be to keep more of the essence of my voice while refining my techniques. If only because when I read other’s work, such as The Bloggess, I am reminded of the humor and voice that my friend Karlos and I have. I want my writing to improve but I also want my voice and perspective to remain. This means that continuing with the intent of this project is all the more important. Writers must write to improve; soccer players must run faster to become faster. What I have always had a hard time doing is balancing my investments. I either give into lassitude or over commit myself to grand plans. Hence 100 words a day, a modest proposal.

Ongoing titles

A Confederation of Valor Omnibus: Valor's Choice/The Better Part of Valor - Tanya Huff
The Heart of Valor - Tanya Huff
Impossible Things - Connie Willis
Batwoman Elegy - Greg Rucka & J.H. Williams III

Bibliophile

When I worked in a book store during high school, I used to love the feel of trade paperback books. The covers had a beautiful matte finish and the paper used for the pages was slick and silky. I loved the paper used in trade paperbacks – it made the price difference between the mass and trade versions worthwhile. You could feel the better quality materials.

Now when I see trade paperbacks on the shelves they use the same pulpy paper as mass paperbacks. The have a larger formtatstill, which is more awkward to carry around than mass paperbacks. Overall, the same quality is just not present any longer. It’s irritating to me because more books are being published as trade paperbacks and fewer as mass paperbacks. So not only are the books more awkward to carry and the same quality binding and materials as mass paperbacks – they’re still more expensive.

Which leads me to my next complaint: why are Canadians still paying a premium on books printed in the US when our dollar has been so strong for the past three years? When the Canadian dollar first stabilized near par, book retailers claimed that they couldn’t sell at the US price because their stocks had been purchased earlier. Six months later some of the major retailers offered US list price on select newer titles. It has been two years since then and Canadians are still paying premiums to get the same titles.

Mass paperbacks are 12% more expensive in Canada than in the US; trade and hardbacks have an equivalent price disparity. In a time when major book retailers are going bankrupt and the industry as a whole is in a tizzy that no one is buying books, one would think that the market would be more flexible. I own an e-reader but I am not willing to forgo the pleasure of handling and reading physical books. I love the smell of books and knowing that I can go back and read books again wherever I take them. I do not have enough faith in the nebulous internet cloud that all the e-books I purchase will be available to me as long as material copies.

Current issues with iTunes and downloaded music only reinforce my concerns that our society has still not balanced artistic rights and the business of selling artists’ work. If you buy mp3s, you should be able to download them again if your computer or music device fails. There should be no restriction on these downloads because if you had the cd and your computer failed, it would be a non-issue. Of course, this is based on the idea of responsible consumers. People have shared music for decades and still the music industry is making money. The same goes for books – sharing books hasn’t hurt authors to my knowledge. I learn about new authors and buy their books; my friends learn about new authors and buy their books. Win-win. I just want to enjoy my books.

Smooth moves

We played our first game of the fall season in August; a friendly scrimmage with another team and someone’s friend who agreed to referee. It’s just about my favorite way to start a season: a no-pressure game against a friendly, talented team that we like. I haven’t played any soccer since early July and I’ve been a slouch about my running. It follows that my fitness is not what would be called great.

We were off and playing when I had a moment. During league games I am a cautious player, preferring to use my tried and true moves over any new tricks used at practice. So when I had the ball coming to me ahead of the opposing team’s player, I figured on trying something new. I gave a bit of a push and tried step over the ball with my left foot and kick it with my right foot. Nothing would do but my left foot stepping directly on top of the ball, its curved surface giving way beneath me as I tumbled ass over tea kettle.

This was a friendly game and so everyone stopped to check that I was alright before awarding a free kick. One of the women on the other team called out, Don’t hurt yourself – it’s just a practice game! I laughed it off and continued playing the rest of the game. We didn’t win that game but it was a great example of why I love my team. We’re a fun bunch of women who love soccer.

Of course, the next day my neck was killing me. I did the responsible thing and waited five days before getting my neck treated and then only on the day before a weekend soccer tournament. The tournament was fun and I didn’t trip over myself.

Posting Tips

Amazing!L with regards to new look: Soo, you could've written a post but instead you made it prettier?
Me: Yes!
Amazing!L: So all your regular readers (I like how she pretends I have a following) will just be like, wtf, it looks different but there's no new content?!
Me: Yep.

You're welcome Amazing!L.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Operator, can you dial number 9?

There are some things that just seem comical at the time but need amping up in the retelling. Yesterday, I stepped out of my office to use the bathroom. When I returned, I was locked out. My face showed the surprise that occurs when you almost faceplant into a surface that you expect to yield only to be met with an impenetrable wall. (On a side note, this reminds me of one of my favorite SG1 episodes – “Upgrades” where the characters run into a forcefield that was created with saran wrap. The smooshed facial expressions were hilarious.) I didn’t have my keys on me and coworker!A was on the telephone in reception. Being a kind soul, coworker!A stood up, pulled the phone cord around the side of the desk, over the paper stand, walked down the path between her desk and the boardroom before reaching the middle of the entryway. She was still a few feet shy of the door and at the end of the cord while still conducting her conversation. I was standing sheepishly on the other side of the door and smiled at coworker!A as she reached out a leg and an arm to reach the lock.

It was the kind of scenario that I could imagine played out in a sitcom to the point of hyperbole. The scene: a coworker on one side of the door in duress, carrying a large lunch order or awkward parcel, and the receptionist winding a long phone cord around plant stands and computer monitors. Ultimately the scene culminates in the coworker getting in and the receptionist wound up in the phone cord. Laughs ensue. Situations like this are why the tv show “Seinfeld” existed – every day scenarios expressed to the point of caricature. In real life, phone cords get tangled.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cantankerous

To the cranky old guy visiting the office:

For the betterment of everyone around you, I wish I could tell you how disrespectful your gruff attitude and lack of patience are to the people trying to help you. If you want to see someone, you can use a whole sentence instead of barking your name and the other person’s name.

Similarly, when you call and then ask for a person’s cell phone number you don’t have to take it as a personal affront if that information is not provided to you. Just because someone has a cell phone and works for a company, does not give you the unassailable right to call them up whenever you like. If you’re as close as you think, then you should already have the cell phone number or ask for it the next time you get together. Since you’re bosom pals and all.

Thanks,
The office staff who put up with you

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Service with a smile

Privilege is such an insidious beast. In my office, there is a definite power hierarchy in place that puts menial task as the domain of the (female) assistant. Sadly it’s not just the older men that reinforce this hierarchy but also some women in the office who perhaps are threatened by the other’s youth and difference in educational background. I am not immune to the effects of the hierarchy, when I help out or even just do my part in some sense I feel proud of the fact that I am not contributing to the problem. This is not right.

I should not feel proud or as if I have accomplished something when I am performing a task that all people are implicitly expected to do. Feeling proud means that I am subconsciously reinforcing the bias that it is the duty of the young female assistant to take on menial, “household” tasks in the workplace. When the only I action I take to correct the situation is to take on the menial task myself, I am perpetuating the bias that it is a woman’s place to take care of others. That it is the “natural” course of events. I don’t know how to address the situation without creating a larger issue or additional friction in the office.

A friend worked in an office where the kitchen duties were rotated on a roster each week, including the ├╝berboss of the corporation. When she told me about this, I tried to imagine such a routine in my office. It would be balked for sure. My ├╝berboss would not take part and I can imagine that although the schedule might be grudgingly followed for one rotation it would soon be discarded. How do we escape from power imbalances that are justified because “that’s just the way it is”?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

All About Me

I have twice met women who I’ve felt could be glimpses into my future; a moment where timelines overlap and enlightenment is granted. The first woman I met was my second year creative non-fiction professor. Long silver hair plaited into a simple braid, wearing flowing earth tone clothes and Birkenstock clogs. She was just what I hoped to be as an established writer and encouraging other people in their own creative endeavors.

The next woman I met was not much older than I was and had the same career. We shared many of the same interests and the same intensity but hers were honed to a further degree. In many ways she showed me what I would be like if my I didn’t temper my hobbies or group interactions. The result was someone who has traits that annoy the hell out of me at times. She’s a signpost of where I might end up by following the safe route.

Recently I have met someone who could be a past me and it is truly bizarre. We are both from northern California with a Norwegian background. She came to finish her degree at UBC but has a more analytical mind and actually spent time living in Norway. It feels as though she represents a way that I could’ve gone if I had followed some of my other dreams. She’s younger than me by three or so years and I sometimes feel like I’m talking to myself.

One of my favorite movies is “Sliding Doors” which has one character experiencing two timeline possibilities originating from one action: catching or missing a train. Perhaps it is my exposure to science fiction which makes me more credulous when it comes to the concept of multiple timelines in everyday life. You never know who you’ll meet.

There's the rub

There are a few things that irritate me about invoicing but there are two guaranteed to get me wishing the vendor ill. The first is not having a subtotal prior to taxes and the second is not having pre-perforated forms for remittance slips. Addressing the latter first, what company even needs a remittance slip any longer? The invoice number is either noted on the cheque stub or referenced in the EFT. But assume you have a vendor that bears a grudge against trees and requires the remittance slip. It’s annoying as hell to have to take time once a month, or more, to cut along the dotted lines and creatively fold the slip to fit into an envelope. Seriously. Perforate the damn paper.

Then we have the slapdash invoices that have several lines of costs, a line for the tax amount and a total at the bottom. The missing step here is that now to do a simple entry or check and balance, the customer has to tally up each line item. Pain. In. The. Ass. Give me a subtotal to easily reference and, while you’re at it, make sure your tax number is on the invoice. Work with me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Master of my domain

Normally I’d have some ponderable from the ladies room for y’all but not this time. No, at the moment my ire and bemusement is saved for Ticketmaster. Seriously, how is it that we have nine versions of a social network but we’re still paying $10 “convenience fees” to book tickets? If Ticketmaster is the only purchase point, it’s not convenient – it’s mandatory. Let’s just be honest and call it the “monopoly fee” – if possible, I’d just pay with Monopoly money.

Seriously internets, don’t we deserve better than Ticketmaster? Can’t venues take charge of their own online bookings? Take back ticketing!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gravitas of music

I really enjoy Dido’s music; I find it very easy to listen to for most background music situations. When I’m at work my music comes from youtube playlists which is great for variety. It is also often amusing when I catch a glimpse of say, Dido’s video for "Here With Me". What I want to know is how Dido’s breasts don’t fall to the side when she’s lying on the bed. Gravity is constant and there’s only so much that garment tape can do, right? On the other hand, I’m sure there are drag queens that would tell me differently....

Snip snip

I’m going to cut this mullet right outta my hair, gonna cut cut cut this mullet right outta my hair…and send it to someone else! I am embarking on the always torturous grow-out from my faux hawk to long hair. I’ve got six months until I’m a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding and I’m just hoping that’s long enough to get me past the godawful stage. That stage where you could be a supermodel with a team of stylists and your hair will still be fugly. It’s a Catholic wedding which means no hats in church – this could be grim.

daily

I have thought of funny comments, rambles and asides most every other day. The hell of it is that I am never free to write down these thoughts at the time. My brain apparently can only be creative when I am otherwise engaged and once they have shone their light into the recesses of my mind, all goes dark once more. No, I have not suffered from any strokes lately. But thank you for caring. No, really, it means the world to me. In any event, I shall attempt to capture those moments to be shared here with greater frequency.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Eat Dessert First

One of those quizzes going around that will reveal your soul in one quick question: Which dessert would you pick? Well, I'm a fiend and picked two (even though it said I could only have one...I'm a rule breaker!).

LEMON MERINGUE -- Smooth, fun, & articulate with your hands, you are an excellent caregiver and a good teacher. But don't try to walk and chew gum at the same time. A bit of a diva at times, you set your own style because you do your own thing. You shine when it comes to helping others and have many friends.

And...

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE -- Romantic , warm, loving. You care about other people, can be counted on in a pinch and expect the same in return. Intuitively keen. You can be very emotional at times but a true person in every way. You like to do things for yourself and help others learn about themselves.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Round hole, round peg

I blame my mother. It’s not unusual – many people blame their mothers for all sorts of reasons, justifiable and otherwise. I blame my mother for my need to have things neatly organized in the kitchen. It’s not her fault really; in kindergarten a child is told to fit the round pegs to the round holes. Stacking plates, bowls, pots and pans and organizing the silverware is the same concept. Largest to smallest, like objects together. It may be impossible to organize your Tupperware, no matter how many racks the pieces come with, but the same cannot be said of flatware.

Similarly, when our family purchased a dishwasher the task of loading and unloading was shared by everyone. My mom would go to empty or start the dishwasher and ask, “Who loaded the dishwasher this way? This is ridiculous.” Therein lies the root of my desire to fit, puzzle piece-like, as many dishes as possible into the dishwasher. It’s not just the quantity that drives me: it’s so pointless to have dishes left out when a moment of thought will ensure that everything fits. In the office, I am constantly rearranging cups and bowls to correct for other people’s careless habits.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Take Five

So for those who are keeping track, this is actually take three at writing here each day, each year. But Take Five is a fun jazz song and it’s my blog so here we are. I’ve got some big goals for 2011 and they mostly revolve around accountability to myself. As I just spent the day completing a puzzle instead of cleaning I think some system is needed.

I’ve read some interesting articles about multi-tasking, efficiency and how our brains work. The information also tied in the ability to act with self restraint and making choices that will not grant immediate gratification. By considering the longer course and acting in the best interests of a long term plan, the brain is stimulated to process in a more efficient manner.

In other words, not only are the results better for the person but they also make the person a better problem solver. I can see the long term plan but time and again I will choose the short term benefit. This year I would like to challenge myself; if 2010 was the year in which I learned how easy it is to regress, I want 2011 to forge a new direction.