Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A little bit of hardball

Well, I played a little hardball, and hip-hip-hurray, it looks like I've got me a contract! Three months, at a higher rate than the first two offers, and this stint should lead into fulltime once we've carved out my role.

I feel happy and very blessed.

And it was so great to be able to leave my shoes under my desk over the holidays!

Of course, there's a little more to the story. I'm not Rosalind Russell saucily smoking a cigarette and cooly demanding more dough. But I did ask for more and they did give it to me. I was so stressed out this morning, as soon as a friend in the office asked me how I was doing, the tears started leaking out. She knows me well, so she made me vent my stress - rather than cram it back in, which is what I was clearly trying to do. Anyway, she told me I seemed to be trying to convince myself that the SVP didn't like me and that I was personalizing their lowball offer, when in fact, that's what they're offering everybody for contracts these days. As usual, talking it out helped a lot and I was able to be productive all day, until about 4pm, when I hear I got the contract.

I went over to the doorway of the SVP's office - many moons ago he was a drinking buddy of mine, but that's all history now - he's a biggie! I asked him if I could give him a great big kiss. As I well know, there's nothing he'd hate more. But he let me give him a great big hug, and congratulated me, and we agreed it was going to be great.

Hip-hip-hurray!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lowball

I got a verbal offer for a six-month contract. For 60% less than they're paying me now. With no benefits.

Why they think that's a good offer is beyond me.

So my boss went back to the biggies and tried for more dough. And they went up a bit, but still be below what I'd even want for fulltime permanent. So, bless her heart, she went back and tried again for more dough, though still way below what they're paying me now. I can't figure out why they're lowballing. It's not nice!

We may hear back tomorrow. Or not, and I'll have to wait til January.

However, it makes me really happy that my boss is so willing to go to bat to get me hired, even on contract. And I really am happy there, despite the usual bullcrap that always seems to be sitting at the upper levels.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It won't be long before we'll all be there with snow

When I was a kid it used to comfort me when we got excessive snow. I honestly felt that it kept a lid on chaos. Everything in town would get so quiet.

I still can't help feeling that way, even though I know it's not particularly true. But it feels true.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Monkey on my back

I've become a total stress monkey again.

I am possibly going to be offered a six-month contract, which may eventually become full time. But I haven't actually been offered this mythical contract and now both the Prez and the Chairman have gone on holidays til 2009. And, note, there is a vacancy right now in the department I have been working in and want to be hired in. Sounds simple, right? A no-brainer. Just hire me. But no!

They have to "rethink" the way they want the department to "look". Gaaaaaaah!

I really want benefits and I want stability. And I want to not worry so goddamn much about getting the flu and having to call in sick.

The waiting and wondering and not getting anywhere is putting me right back into living in Stressville, Ontario. I've been feeling extra antsy the past few days - even getting heebeejeebees in my legs and having the heart palpitation thingie and my eyes seeing stuff move in the periphery and slight dizzyness and irritability. With a bit of nausea thrown in - just enough for me to look up the symptoms of stroke, and then think, oh man, now I know what's wrong. I ain't having a stroke - I'm on the verge on another anxiety attack.

I want this stress monkey off my back.

However, I see it's snowing again. Pretty.

Monday, December 15, 2008

And we LIKED it that way

This is pretty much all we saw up north this past weekend - boy, was it fun! Tons of the stuff!

Just like back in the old days, we were all saying. Snow in December is par for the course, but this much? Not since I was a kid, walking 10 miles home from school, through the park, all the way through town, across the railway tracks, over the bridge over the river, up Hunt's Hill, all the way up Toronto Street, and finally home - in the snow! Carrying a metal lunch pail! With a glass thermos! That always broke! And we LIKED it that way! (Wasn't that dumb? I mean, making kids' thermoses out of glass? Didn't they know how far a lunch pail can slide down an unsanded road when given a gentle shove?)

It's all true, I did have to do all that walking home from school through tons and tons of snow, through the park, town, tracks, bridge, hill. But it wasn't really 10 miles. Or was it?

Oh jeez, I bet there's a thing somewhere on the web where I can actually measure how long I used to have to walk home from school when I was a kid. Let's see now.

Dear me. How disappointing. 1.62 kilometres. Or just a shade over a mile. Felt like longer. Hunt's Hill was high! And the site won't do elevation outside the U.S. Here's the website. You have to double-click to mark a point.

In other news: would you look at that. I just found my old lunch box on eb@y. I just typed in metal lunch box, flowers, and there it was.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ugh

Someone got fired here. Someone whose job I now want. Ugh.

I want to apply for it, of course, but I don't want to be tacky since I think his chair is still warm. Plus, I feel bad because I want his job and he got fired.

But now what I really want is for the job, which would be fulltime, to be offered to me. And then I can continue to feel bad about it, while paying the rent and providing for my family at the same time. Maybe even getting some benefits.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm just wild about hairy

I was checking my email this afternoon and found this ad; isn't it great? Doesn't it make you want to go buy some Dove shampoo?

In other news: I've had a financial reprieve. My contract got extended until Christmas, and I'm now working on yet another team at good ol' Jobsite I, the third one since the beginning of October. It's good because this time I'm on the Editorial team, and that's just where I want to be. I'm still hoping they'll just find me so indispensable that they'll just say, "C'mon and stay!"

As for blogging, well, the hormonal fun-fest formerly known as The Miracle of Being a Woman has been making me conk out at around 9:30, and I still have difficulty blogging while I'm asleep. I compose lots, but writing it down is tricky.

Speaking of which (the hormonal fun-fest, that is)...

The Mystery of the Perpetual Motion Feminine Protection Disposal Unit has been solved!

One of the sanitary disposal thingies in the women's washroom has been opening and closing by itself, at regular intervals, for the past three months. The way they're supposed to work is you press on the top, a little drawer opens and then you put your discarded doo-dad into the drawer thing, and then it closes on its own.

But how would it open and close on its own? Was it a balance thing like those birds that used to dip their beaks in a glass of water?

Now I know. Last week a guy strolled by with about 20 of the units on a skid. I figured he must know about these things so I asked him. He said, in a tone that indicated he knew he was about to deliver disappointing news, "It's not magic. There's a little machine in there that does it and that one unit was malfunctioning."

He was right; I was disappointed. But the weirdness of knowing that there's a company out there that makes machines that open and close feminine protection disposal units almost makes up for the disappointment that there was no ghost in that machine.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bad habits

Charlie and I were out doing errands on the weekend, and we had to get some cash and deposit my paycheque at the bank machine. There was nobody ahead of us, but soon there were several people lined up behind us. Right behind us was a nun in full gear, which included a wide white Flying-Nun-style wings over her wimple. Behind her were two men.

Charlie likes to help me get cash by pressing the "OK" button on the ABM each time we need it and then likes to count the money. So he's counting, "20, 40, 60, 80, oops (as the $20 falls to the floor), 100!" I say, "Pick up the one from the floor sweetie," and the nun says, in an exasperated and (I hate to say it) foghorn-like voice, "Hurry UP!!"

I just smiled and said, "We're doing our best", and then one of the men behind the nun says in big loud voice, "You're doing a great job, son!"

As for the nun, I guess she was still a novice.

10 points to whoever can remember the Flying Nun's nun-name.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lilith

I found a wonderful Canadian feminist blog called "Lilith Attack". The blogger is a confident and proud feminist, and her little profile icon is a great portrait of Lilith with a huge snake wrapped around her; she looks pretty damn happy with that snake. And since I'm all about snakes lately (at least in my dreams) and I love Lilith, I'm adding this blog to my list.

My mom first told me about the intrepid Lilith, Adam's first wife, way back when I was in high school. In fact, my Catholic, although slightly wicca-y, mom even told me that Lilith left him because she didn't like being in the missionary position. That meant Adam was left all alone, poor guy, so God made Eve for him, and she was way easier to get along with.

I always had trouble with the story of Eve and just did not believe she made Adam eat that damn apple. Doesn't sound too docile to me. I mean, let's be truthful. Back in high school and university, who was usually trying to get someone to do something they weren't sure was a good idea, or just plain didn't want to do? The girls? Not bloody likely.

Of course I also thought that God should be encouraging Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge. Forbidding knowledge? It made no sense.

But I've never liked to see either sex maligned. When I was a child it bothered me that on TV shows it was usually the man getting a pie in the face. Didn't seem fair. However, I thought that only boys were altar boys because they needed to spend time being holy because they were badder than girls, and that girls were already good.

Artist John Collier, who seemed to really like painting nudes, painted this portrait of Lilith in 1892. I got it from wikimedia and it's the same painting that's on Lilith Attack. Gorgeous.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Nice

The office holiday party is coming up soon, and it looks like it's going to be a super-cool, groovy and extravagant affair. As per the typical office policy, freelancers are not invited. But spouses/dates are.

So far three people here have asked me to come as their date, so I can be included in the festivities.

Nice! No wonder I like it here, eh?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Makin' it work

All that torment and anxiety over leaving freelance and working full-time - nightmares about feeling trapped, trembling at the thought of working every day in one place for YEARS and YEARS, missing Charlie so much it hurt - it all comes to this: there is nothing I want more right now than to be offered a full-time job at the place I'm freelancing, which I'll call Jobsite I.

I first started at Jobsite I in October of 1995. I was 32 years old, and had just spent five years working for a small group of science guys. The work there was fun and engaging, but I was lonely working alone, and Jobsite I looked like it'd be a friendly place. The company at that time had about 15 employees, and everyone ate lunch together at a big table in the middle of the room. I wanted to make friends, and I sure did. A huge number of the people I've worked with there over the years have became my friends - old friends now. I'd been working there almost five years when I went to my boss's housewarming party and, in her kitchen, met my husband.

The first time I quit, I was just bored. Not being a large company, there weren't a whole lot of different positions to do. Then after a few years of freelancing, an interesting position came up there, so I went back. I got pregnant roughly six hours after accepting the job offer, so ended up leaving again after about 40 weeks, then went back to freelance after my mat. leave so I could freelance and spend more time with the baby.

And, so here I am. I've been working there now every day for two months, and it's just been great. There are no job openings there right now. But there's a mat. leave coming up, so I will apply for it. However, if I'm honest with myself, I have to admit the job I really want to do there isn't one that's available.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The recent past and the imminent future

So things are going great at work. I'm really happy, I like the incredible people, the office, the work. Problem is, my booking - which began October 6, is ending on December 5. Ugh. I've told everyone there that I can think of that I'm looking to stay, either fulltime or extended booking or contract, but the reality is the economic situation puts any big plans on ice.

Still, seems busy there, and I remain hopeful.

In other news: we had a great time visiting my parents on the weekend, and suddenly we're all about puzzles. The dino puzzle was a combined effort on the parts of me, Charlie and my dad, as we played and lazed around on Sunday afternoon. It was bliss. I so enjoyed watching my folks enjoy Charlie. He makes them laugh, they make him laugh, it's wonderful.

As I've mentioned before, my parents do a ton of volunteer work for their local food bank. These days my mom is putting together Christmas gifts for the food bank, like, really putting them together. She's buying, getting various businesses to donate stuff, and packaging close to 200 gift bags. She just does this kind of stuff, and doesn't make a big deal out of it. Plus I know she'll make each and every gift bag beautiful. There's line from one of my favourite happy-type movies, Sleepless in Seattle, where "Sam" says of his late wife, "She made everything beautiful." That's my mom.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I loved the snake

Early this morning as the sun was rising, I was dreaming that I was carrying around a very large, warm boa constrictor.

As I walked around with it, it wrapped itself tighter, and I realized I loved the snake and that the snake was happy.

Of course, next I thought, hmm, I don’t know much about snakes and I wonder if the snake is hungry, and what do they eat anyway? Ah, mice probably. Where am I going to get a mouse? Then the snake wrapped itself tighter. And then my husband woke me up, saying, “It’s 7:30.”

Snuggled against my back, with his very long skinny leg slung over me and with his arm around my waist, was Charlie, my happy, sleepy, beloved little boa constrictor.

Here's the music that was in my head when I woke up; words are in the link above. Enjoy and be happy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another learning curve

I'm on a new team this week -- still at the same place, freelance. I'm filling in for a project manager who's away for three weeks. It seems like a ton of projects, mainly because I'm unfamiliar with them, and they're all somewhere in the middle of their production schedules. It's just so uncomfortable not knowing stuff!

I'm still happy there and everyone's still being very nice to me and they're being appreciative, and for that I'm grateful. But - did I mention? I don't enjoy not knowing what I'm doing, or looking like I don't know what I'm doing.

I just spent most of the day fiddling around with a bunch of layouts done in MS Word (ugh), and also trying to write stuff based on a very brief brief that I didn't understand. So - and I'm very proud of myself for doing this - I called the client and asked her to rebrief me. Understand, I hate looking like I don't know what I'm doing, and I essentially called her up and admitted it. And she very cheerfully told me what was required, sent me some more info, and, well, whew! I got it all done and sent it off by EOD, which is when she was expecting it. Took me all day, but got it done.

The really good news: I'm home, got snow tires on the new car today, and I'm having a nice delicious salad my husband made with avacado in it, and a nice delicious glass of sherry. Plus, and this is no small plus, he and Charlie made gingerbread cookies today. Mmm-mm!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's about time

... it's and mainly about trying to find it. Since I started nodding off at 9:15, it's been scarce.

I got some this morning; a gift from my husband, who told me to go back to bed. So I did.

Oddly enough, I didn't fall asleep. Well, not right away. I was enjoying just lying there in the dark room, listening to him play with Charlie. It made me happy, and it made me feel so very lucky.

Way back when we first got together (which was not actually so long ago), I remember from time to time wishing it was years later. I wanted us to have been together for a long time with a shared history. I knew it would be great.

I can't really articulate why I felt this way. But there's one thing I'm sure about: it is great.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Catching up on my sleep

Not been blogging much.

First, my computer was on the blink; it's a normally lovely PowerBook G4 with an annoying problem: it wouldn't stay awake. But after much research here on the internet, my husband fixed it. He actually opened the thing up and took out a chip. (Here are the instructions he followed, complete with pic.) He knew which chip to remove, mind you, by carefully diagnosing the problem with a diagnostic application we downloaded that told us the computer was overheating. Then we found a temperature monitor, and downloaded it too, and it told us the chip under the trackpad was giving out intermittent false readings - which would tell the computer it was way to hot, which would put it to sleep.

Very annoying and made it difficult to do anything on here. But he's brave and has a steady hand, and did it, and it worked.

My second issue is that I'm also the one that can't stay awake. I'm okay during the day; normal energy, happy, productive, enjoying riding my bike home in the dark, (complete with an wide assortment of lights on both front, back, and helmet). But after I read Charlie a story, and he asks for a snuggle, I crash, right there on his bed. I wake up around, oh, say, now, and typically go brush my teeth and crash again.

I do have all kinds of thoughts I want to share, and they're starting to really build up, like, the thing that struck me most about P.E. Obama's victory speech was that there was not a single self-indulgent note in it; nor was there any phony theatrics. He's a wonderful speaker, etc., etc., but I wanted to put two thoughts out there:

1) when was the last time you listened to a politician speak and didn't cringe? What a lovely change.

and

2) we have to give a big bunch of kudos to his speech writers - good job! (From what I understand, one of the primary speechwriters is actually P.E. Obama himself, and a young fellow named Jon Favreau (gotta plug the writers, always), and I will check for more, but I gotta go; Mr. Sandman calls.

Nighty night.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

They just called it

... and it looks like Barack Obama has done it, and Americans have voted for hope over cynicism. Good job, folks. It's going to be very interesting.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Boom di a da

I just saw a commercial on tv for the Discovery Channel, called I Love the Whole World.

Enjoy. Here's the Canadian version (complete with Jay Ingram).


I love the world too.

I think it's just a hangover, but...

I just can't get over the feeling like I'm doing a crap job here, and they're just waiting and waiting to tell me. What I have to say is not worth saying, what I write is pedestrian tripe, and anybody reading what I write or rewrite or edit is inwardly (or behind my back) rolling their eyes.

Reasons? Today, well, I think it's because i broke a nail and couldn't break my pill in half last night, so I was going to take it this morning and didn't. And because since I started here 3 weeks ago I've been essentially working 9 to 5, and not on weekends and at night, I'm falling asleep at around 9. It's super busy here, and in comparison to everyone else - and in comparison to the effort I was exerting at the b*tch shack, I'm slacking.

Plus, I applied to a whole bunch of jobs, and have only had one single interview, and haven't heard back from anybody else. I'm feeling rather past my best-before date.

Gah. Apologies for going on and on with this negativity.
So here's a positive note: I tried a new place for coffee this morning, and had a vanilla hazelnut. It was super cheap, and totally delicious. Plus my new umbrella is really pretty (photo: not mine, unfortunately, but the umbrella looks just like this one; this pic is from artistgifts.com).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another weird in edgewise

See? Everyone wants to get their one weird word in.

And yesterday, it was one of my favourite bloggers, Mary from The Eleventh. Her humour and unique, intelligent point of view aside, isn't her nameplate pic amazing?

In other news: We got Charlie's class picture. It took all evening, but I got him to tell me the name of every single kid in the class. A small miracle.

Speaking of weirdness, here's some news: I'm happy at work. The place is crazily busy, but it's also collaborative and friendly, and has a really nice lunch room with magazines and they ordered in lunch the other day and brought in two RMTs because people have been working so hard, and there's lots of windows and good coffee, and the receptionist makes it every morning and puts a little saying on the coffee pot, like, yesterday's said something like, "You make this company a better place".

Pretty nice, eh? I'm booked for another 3 weeks. I really hope I get to work there longer.

And, to wrap up: A thought from my last bike ride through Chinatown on blogging versus graffiti:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meow


There was another layer to the list of stuff I was missing in my verge-of-tears ennui last night: I miss my cats.

Charlie and I got to visit them a few times this week because their new "owners" were on holiday, and they always ask me first for catsitting duty.

Linus and Lucy lived with me for ten years (Lucy for nine; she's younger), and now they live with my friends -- long story short: my husband couldn't breathe, and I decided I could give up the cats if it meant my hub would live, and be a father to our new baby (L&L left us 4 years ago).

But I cried giving them up; seven buckets of tears, in fact. The happy ending is that they are very well loved living with my friends, and I can visit them, and when I do, they are exactly the same. Wonderful and furry.

Lucy is sweet, friendly, and wants nothing more than a tummy rub, which is lovely because her tummy is so big and soft.

Linus is neurotic, loyal, and has to check out everything new he encounters, with great trepidation.

It was so much fun to see them. And it always makes me a teeny bit sad when I have to leave them again.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Making OPEC cry

Charlie and I saw a billboard last night that made me laugh out loud. It said,
Fit make OPEC cry.
Fit is go!

It's extra fun and funny because our new car is a Fit, and we were driving it when we saw the billboard. And so far we like it a lot; it's pretty, you can "fit" a lot of stuff in it because you can fold the seats down six ways from Sunday, and it's super-duper fuel efficient; on our trip to the nation's capital last week, we averaged 5.0 litres per 100 km (we know because the car told us).
It's not really like me to write, or even talk, about cars much at all. But as sad as I was so see the old one go bye-bye, I freaking love the new one.

Tip: we got the car through a car broker, and I'd highly recommend that experience. You get to know the markup, and the price you get is the total price, without any mysterious administrative fees. The car came with a full tank of gas, and a box of cannolis. Nice. The pic was taken about 20 minutes after we picked it up. It was raining, but we were happy.

In other news: I'm feeling slightly on the verge today. Not sure why. It's funny being "the freelancer" again at work, but on the whole it's going well, I'm getting lots of appreciation, and it looks like my short-term contract will be extended a bit. I've also applied for a bunch of jobs, but truthfully, I'd like to be hired fulltime, doing writing and editing, where I'm currently freelance. Since I've worked there before - actually I've been there on and off over the last 13 years - I know lots of people, I know most of the procedures, and it also has the advantage of being somewhat new because they're in a lovely new office location, also with a new president. But mostly I like it because it's comfortable for me personally.

And that whole other j*b thing really took its toll. Emotionally, I invested a lot there, and today some sadness about losing what I invested crept back in. I worked hard at developing ties there, and I succeeded, and therefore now I miss them - including (and I know it sounds weird) my cycling route. There were even kids in the neighbourhood near the office who'd say hi as I rode by every day, ever since I stopped at their lemonade stand one day. And there was a stretch of houses that looked like a street in Charlie's Curious George book. I miss it, and I miss the girls in the coffee shop, and I miss the fountains in the lobby, and I miss all the people I worked with (save one, obviously) and talked with from all over North America. I even miss the odd little woman in the TTC booth who never seemed to do anything but draw pictures (she didn't even sell tokens). And call me sentimental, but I even miss riding under the 401.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: the day after

It's the day after another Conservative win here in Canada, which means it's a terrible day for people below the poverty line, or hovering above. In fact, even a Liberal win would not have cheered me up much. The best news would've been even more seats for the NDP.

People like my parents give me hope. Every week they - the original champions of the underdog - work at their local food bank. It's located in a basement, and my folks aren't young, so it means carrying boxes of food down the stairs and spending hours on their feet, serving their "customers". My dad is the keeper of the cash donations, and occasionally dashes out of the house to the hospital or shelter to deliver money to people in crisis. Through the week, my mom spoons out coffee and laundry detergent into baggies - it was her idea to expand from just giving out food. She figures people should be able to have a coffee. And they should be able to wash their clothes; helps to be clean if you have a chance at a job interview.

I'm proud of them, and wish that there were more people like them out there, especially on Parliament Hill.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Happy

I've been working on short-term contract at the new offices of my old employer. It's just great! GREAT! There's still lots of people working there that I know and like and respect, and I'm getting a lot of support and respect. What could be better. I'm healing.

Good night.

Monday, October 6, 2008

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y- NIGHT! means fun, memories, a date and friends

I realize I'm showing my age, referencing the Bay City Rollers. But as wonderful as their S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y- NIGHT! song was, in my defence, I must insist that I was not a fan of their back in the day because I was too busy being a fan of Rene Simard. In grade 9, my wonderously dedicated Dad drove me and my friends Pam and Michelle and at least one other girl down to the Ontario Place Forum to see him in concert. Just a couple years later, my friend K and I wanted to go see Billy Idol, but Dad said no; not quite as wholesome I gather. And not too many years ago, my friend D and I went to see Rene Simard in The Phantom of the Opera. Never did get to see Billy Idol.

We had my parents babysit Charlie on Saturday night, and they came prepared with a new, very cool book for Charlie called "365 Stories and Rhymes for Boys". Plus, my dad introduced Charlie - via youtube - to Mr Dressup! He is now officially a fan, and it warms my heart. Because I have a Mr Dressup story.
When I was about 5, Mr Dressup visited my skating class. He did a bunch of funny stuff, slipping and sliding on the ice, and then, at the end of the class, he gave out great big lollipops with our names on them.

We all stood in a circle on the ice. Mr Dressup called out our names, one by one, and as he did so, each child would skate over to him to accept their lolly. Each child but one, that is.

It wasn't a big class. I'm sure he knew which kid was frozen in place on the ice having a complete meltdown of shyness. My mom was knocking on the glass, trying to get me to go to him, but it's not like I didn't hear him calling me, I just could not move. After the class was over and Mr Dressup had gone home, or back into the television actually, my skating teacher gave me the lollipop. A little part of me wishes I hadn't been so shy, but it was really overwhelming enough at that age to have been in such close proximity to greatness, and I was still happy to get the lolly with my name on it.

Back to Saturday night: Charlie had a wonderful time with my parents, and it really just makes me so happy to see how much they enjoy him. Bonus: I got to go out on a date with my lovely husband to an event.

Here's something weirdly nice: Oddly enough, at the event we attended I happened to get seated beside someone who might turn out to be a new friend. We were chatting happily, enjoying the event, and eventually we got around to what we "do". Turned out she's also a writer, whose name I've heard on and off for years. And since we've worked with many of the same people and clients over those years, she'd been hearing my name too. But we'd never actually met in person. So much fun!

In other news: I've got work. I'm happily booked solid for the next several weeks, ensconced in the insanely busy world of my former employer. It is ridiculously busy there, but it's an ocean of support for me. It so nice to see so many friends in a place of work. Lots and lots of light too!
(photos: not taken by me)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Motivation is a funny thing

I can't figure out why sometimes I feel so stalled and exhausted. Other times, I can get myself into gear with little trouble, tackling stuff I couldn't even come close to doing hours - or days - before.

This morning was the stalled and exhausted part. I felt like it was all too much, and there was no hope of doing much more than updating my facebook status, once I got out of bed, that is. This afternoon, well, I even wrote another cover letter and applied to another job (I think that makes 6; or is it 7?), called carheaven.ca to see what happened to them (as my poor old car sits on death row; turns out their tow-truck broke down; funny, eh?), contacted human resources with some final-payment questions, etc., etc., and now I'm heading out to order some funky glasses.

We've got a busy social weekend ahead of us, which always stresses me out and makes me just want to go back to bed. The fact that at the end of these busy social weekends I always feel so happy and full of good feelings doesn't help.

In other news: We've really been enjoying this quirky, entertaining show: Pushing Daisies. We rented the DVDs. It's weird, but not too weird, pretty to look at, and very sweet like a nice fresh piece of pie.

The daisies in the pic were on the roadside near Buttermilk Falls.

Now off I go to order the glasses. Next, cleaning for our guests!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Towers of power

Lately, in this household, we've been hearing a lot about the relative merits of the CN Tower, the Burj Dubai, the Sears Tower, the Petronas Towers, the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, the Peace Tower, the Dorset Fire Tower, the Sydney Tower, and, last but in no way least, the not-yet-existing Tall Tower.

Charlie is, er, quite focussed on these towers and talks about them much of the time, that is, when he's not talking about Niagara Falls (and the relative merits of the U.S. Niagara Falls and the Canadian Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls), and also hurricanes, tropical depressions, tornadoes, and water spouts. Also, the relative size of the planets and the sun in our solar system compared to bigger stars like Arcturus, Pollox, etc., all of which can be found by checking out this very cool website called the Size of our World.


I'm not comfortable blogging much about details of my son's life, but since these man-made towers and these natural phenomena are such an enormous part of our every day, I just have to share the following key facts, with which I have become so well acquainted.
(photos by oneweirdword, except the one of the Burj Dubai)
The CN Tower, which has 1,776 steps, was the world's tallest freestanding structure until September of 2007 when the Burj Dubai surpassed it in height. The CN Tower is also noteworthy because we visited it last month.

The Burj Dubai, when it's completed, will have 160 floors, but it's final proposed height is secret! Also of note, but sadly shorter, is the Sears Tower, the tallest "building" (not to be confused with "free-standing structure") in North America, which sees 20,000 people walk through its door every day. The Sears Tower is also of interest because it's in Chicago, which is near where Auntie Kim lives.

The Empire State Building is noteworthy in that Curious George visits it in one of Charlie's story books, and goes up the elevator to the 102nd floor. The Petronas towers are noteworthy because they're tall, and there's two of them, and someone jumped with a parachute from one of them. The Sidney Tower is noteworthy because it's tall (300 metres) and it's in Australia and Charlie's grandparents have a picture of it hanging in the hall. The Peace Tower is of interest because it's in Ottawa, has a clock in it, I have visited it, and Charlie's Auntie, Uncle and two cousins moved to Ottawa last month. Also, Ottawa is the capital of Canada!

The Dorset Fire Tower (at left) is noteworthy because the three of us climbed it this summer. In fact, Charlie climbed it without having to be carried, despite the fact that it was very windy, the stairs are see-through, and the tower is really tall! 119 steps!

The Tall Tower, aka Al Burj (also in Dubai), is exciting because it's proposed height - 1,050 metres - is so ridiculous.

In other news: I'm fully booked in freelance work for the next three weeks! Hallelujah!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sometimes a car is not just a car


The picker-upper people contracted by carheaven.ca called today to arrange pickup of my 1991 4-door, black-cherry-with-grey-interior Plymouth Sundance. They're going to take it away and strip it and melt it down and do all sorts of nasty things, all in the name of saving the environment. I'm euthanizing my poor car and sending it to "heaven" largely because it will not pass another emissions test, and because buying a new catalytic converter for a '91 doesn't seem wise.

Back to the call. The fellow called me sweetie. They should be able to pick up the car tomorrow or Wednesday, he said. I hung up the phone and cried. Truth be told, I've been weeping pretty much since the call. I realize it's about more than the car; I've left my job, I don't yet have another one, I'm feeling quite worked over, and... And, there was one more thing. Oh yes, I'm getting rid of my beloved car.

I'm sad to say good-bye. Buying this car, used, from my mom, was a big turning point in my life. I'd always felt incredibly vulnerable driving alone on the highway - especially on the 401 - but at a certain point, I decided I was ready to take on this great big huge step of independence.

My car has been there for me; it's reliable, it's zippy (my husband says it's not zippy, but it is), it's comfortable, you can fit anything into the back hatch - including an enormous desk and countless billy bookcases - and I drive it well because I feel like I can see, sitting up nice and straight.

And it looks like a Merc when it's clean.

Once I had the car, I think I drove everyone I knew home from work at least once. Which gave me city driving experience, and taught me that it's better to take the TTC, unless you want to be cursing at the top of your lungs before 9:00 a.m. I bought heavy groceries, and sometimes, during my more lonely times, I'd just take a drive to be out in the world.

The night I met my husband at a party - to prolong my contact with this incredibly attractive person without being too forward, I drove him (& our two mutual friends) to catch the last subway at, like 1:40 a.m. I was SO glad I had my car that night.

And of course my husband drove me to the hospital at 4:15 a.m. in labour in that car, and we drove our baby home from the hospital in that car, and I nursed him countless times in countless parking lots, and the thing is I'm going to miss my car.

We have a new one. And it's real pretty. But that's not the story today.

I'm saying good-bye to a chapter of my life. And it ain't nothing to be sneezed at.

PS: weirdness: I just noticed I put three times, all "a.m.", in this post.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The weird on the street


Charlie and I went to the Word on the Street festival today. We had bratwurst, pierogi, and Charlie gobbled the saurkraut, which we found out he liked a year ago, at the same festival. He actually hasn't had any the entire year since, and after one forkful, said, "I like it! Actually I don't just like it, I love it! It's incwedible!"

A friend who was without her kid for the weekend ran over with her lunch and joined us on the picnic blanket, and fondly ruffled Charlie's hair. Then we went over to Tiny Tom's fresh fried donuts, and gobbled the whole tiny dozen.

Plus, we listened to music, bought some Chirp books, and Charlie got to pet Chirp in real life!

The weather was perfect, the birds were singing, and we had fun.

For the most part, I feel better than I did yesterday.

Oh dear. I just found an old potato chip under my mouse cord. Hmmph. Probably best to just throw it away.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Searching


I just saw my j*b posting. They're asking for two years' experience. I have 18. Those [f***ers -- actually, that looks so nasty in print how bout "people"] think someone with two years' experience can please them. Actually, it will probably work better. B*ss clearly wants someone more junior. Going through the other job ads is making me feel like I know zilch about anything. I see a couple of positions that could build on what I've just done, but I don't have anyone to give me a good reference. Somewhere inside my head, I know I did a great job, but I also feel like a total failure.

But wasn't this bound to happen after such a negative experience? My confidence is busted, fractured and broken down. The old chocolates I found under a file on my desk are probably not even going to help.

Ugh. My desk is piled up with the detritus of my L-cube at work, as well as bills, receipts, my laptop's battery (laptop needs repair; ugh), chocolates (did I mention the chocolates?), craft materials, Charlie's preschool graduation hat, some of my husband's late aunt's recipes, a birthday present from my mom, a bag of train tracks from a toy choo-choo train I think we no longer own, my 2007 income tax, and under all that, a sewing machine. Behind me is the dining room table, crowded with the plants from my desk at work. The stick thingie in the middle is what's left of the orchid my brother gave me to "cheer me up at work".

What the heck, I'll take a picture. I have no shame left. I will even admit here that I can't find my login name for my EAC membership so I can check their job listings (it's here somewhere). I found the IABC one right away though, which is where I just saw my j*b listed.

I'm 45 and lost. How did I let this happen?

On the way back from our trip to Niagara Falls last Sunday - we took the Bike Train! -- I was having a terrible time riding home from Union Station. It was a struggle, and I was thinking, god, I'm getting old! I must be getting tired more easily; or maybe I'm just out of shape from my comparatively flat ride to work while the ride home from Union is up hill all the way. It was a warm, humid, noisy, busy evening, lots of people out on the street, and my husband with Charlie on his bike, were way ahead and kept having to wait for me at stop lights. Then, at around Harbord on St. George, there was a lull in the traffic and sidewalk noise, and I heard a shhhhhhhh. Lord-a-mercy, something was rubbing against the wheel. I caught up to my husband at Bloor, and we checked it out -- the front brake-pad was stuck, pressed against the wheel. I was so happy it wasn't me! But then, after we disengaged the front brakes altogether so I could make it up the Casa Loma hill, I cried as I rode. I'd been convinced it was me. And I tried to resolve to not let that happen as I planned my next move for the future.

I worked very hard at the j*b, and wrote and produced a magazine, every issue, on time, on target, on budget, and with consistent positive feedback from throughout the company. My b*ss did not ever dispute this, but glossed it over - not a real achievement, as far as she was concerned. But the fact that I sent her a draft that had an incomplete sentence in it on Wednesday, August 27 was a sin for the ages.

I feel a bit better. Taking that pic of my desk is making me feel a little motivated. I've been thinking of this mess, my desk, being a metaphor for myself. But let's call it "Before", as in before what happens next.

And, I'll add a new label - hope - first time on the list.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Turning the page


My first day post j*b started with a couple of hours of freelance work. I hope it's an omen.

Yesterday went quite well, and if every day there'd been anything like it, I most certainly would not have quit.

I got lots of nice messages from people, fond good-byes, and one fakey-nice one. The icing on the cake? I got the magazine finished; one more for my portfolio.

Today, I have a cold, caught from my son, caught from kindergarten, and also now caught by my husband.

I feel happier today - yesterday I was feeling bitter. One of my former clients (and former boss) took me out for lunch, and then I went back to her office and said hello to the myriad people I've worked with on and off over the last 13 years. I do hope I get more work.

Although going to lunch meant I missed Charlie's skating lesson - also at the arena today, doing a master class for figure skating was... my husband made me guess; I guessed Kurt Browning, who actually lives in the neighbourhood (Charlie and I saw him at Loblaws once) ...none other than Elvis Stojko! Sheesh, I would've loved to see him do a bit of skating.

We also went to Charlie's school for curriculum night, and I was very happy to see how proud and excited he was to show us all around his classroom. His teacher seems very nice, and he clearly likes her a lot.

Tomorrow is another day. Post j*b. And, hopefully, pre-job too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Two things I liked about today

1. Only two more days of the j*b with the b***, who so enthusiastically ran over at 5:15 as the senior manager was leaving her office, to stop her and point out that the clarifications my b*** requested to an article had not been done to her (the b***'s) satisfaction -- and in fact, I apparently hadn't made any changes at all! (Not true, but whatever.) I responded unemotionally saying I would go back yet again to the source people are get even further clarification. I think she must be punishing me for complaining about her, otherwise how to explain why she's taking such pleasure in pointing out alleged errors. It's called spite. So, back to the thing I liked: only two more days of this and I'm outa there.

2. Charlie and I had desert on the bench on our balcony tonight wrapped in my down sleeping bag, looking for stars.

There, I knew there were two things I liked about today!

Friday, September 19, 2008

This week had seven days

...apologies to these folks. It's just a phrase that got into my head and I had to serve my compulsion to use it as my title tonight.

It was quite a long work week, and I'm ecstatic it's over. I spent the day repairing the aggressive edit wrought by my senior manager. I had to send various helpful folks the rewrites of their pieces (that I so lovingly wrote and edited with sensitivity to the messages they were trying to convey), and, not surprisingly, several of these good folks were quite livid at the "tone" and "direction" of the rewrites by that hamfisted chirpy little hack who is so very sure that my editorial instincts are not to be trusted.

Because I'm still there, I still care. So I fixed everything, and forwarded the angry emails to her, and got home from work quite late.

But it was a good day because I am more confident than ever before that my leavetaking is the right thing to do. Plus, now it's the weekend and that makes me even happier.

Here's a weird thing: a website of weird websites. I'm in there too :o)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I pause


I called in sick today due to the hormone fun-fest. I went right back to bed after emailing in, and slept until 11.

It's been a good day just to hunker down and pause. I woke up in time to watch my son's skating lesson and see him off to school with my hub. My first time there; he looked so young and small and beautiful.

Then, I had to hop on my bike - I swear cycling is good for cramps/nausea/headache; it's like they all take a little break until I stop. Then it comes back. But the exercise is good.

I took a photo of the ghost bike I encountered yesterday morning. I've passed one while driving in a car before, but it's quite unnerving to encounter one while cycling. I do keep to the backroads, but sometimes,, the main route is the fastest. Seeing a ghost bike can serve to remind me to be hypercautious.



In work news, get this: my senior manager was supposed to have my manuscript back to me yesterday at 5PM. I had my emailed forwarded to home so I could do any fixes this afternoon. It's 5PM now, and I still don't have it. That means it's more than 24 hours late! Why, that's just not acceptable! What about those almighty internal milestones?! They MUST BE MET!

In other news: Looking forward to seeing the moonrise tonight - we've been getting some freaky ones. (See my new banner, and note the horrid RIO-CAN building at Yonge & Eg in both photos.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The job search


Crap! Applications for the National Astronaut Recruitment Campaign are closed. But I'll just keep on looking. Gawd, the Canadian astronauts are amazing folks. Sample: Julie Payette: Ms. Payette enjoys running, skiing, racquet sports and scuba diving. She has a commercial pilot license with float rating. Ms. Payette is fluent in French and English, and can converse in Spanish, Italian, Russian and German. She plays the piano and has sung with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, the Piacere Vocale in Basel, Switzerland, and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto. She is married and has two children.

The job search isn't going well in that I still do not have a job to go to after next Wednesday. I've called all my old contacts, and everyone's happy I'm becoming available, but that's all. Also, my laptop is broken.

On the plus side, I went to the dentist while it's still covered by company insurance, and I have no cavities and my gums are in great shape.

Oh, and, bigger news: I rode my bike OVER the 401, rather than under. Scary in that I had to cross a couple of ramps, but it was neat to see the highway, and nice to not be suddenly riding in the dark with my sunglasses on.

My ride to the dentist was also rather chilling - I rode past a ghost bike at Eglinton & Avenue. Ugh.
I'm going to get out there tomnorrow and take a photo.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Weirdness

Here's something weird; since I officially quit on Thursday morning, my b*** is being - get this - AN EVEN BIGGER BITCH!

Since our "quitting" meeting and discussion where she practically popped open the champagne, she's been icy. Her emails are downright rude; I've been forwarding them to my husband because I needed a second opinion - they just seemed too unbelievably rude to be real, and I thought, hey, maybe I'm just applying my considerable bias. (My husband of course is completely neutral :o)

He says they are very, very rude. What is the point of being even ruder to me. I'm leaving, okay? Sheesh.

One more day down; seven to go!

In other news: Josh, from the Comics Curmudgeon is always teaching me stuff, like uncanny valley and homunculus. Now it's about punching the Gordian Knot, from his Sept. 12 post. Thanks for the new lesson, Josh!

I'd say I cut the Gordian Knot last Thursday.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Keeping it exciting

We're picking up our new car this weekend. I thought it'd be really fun to quit my job right before we did that. It is kinda cheering me up, to be honest.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I have fought the good fight

I have finished the course.

I quit.

The story after I complained to the senior manager on Friday? Well, I should've known what would happen.

I worked all weekend. Came in Monday. B*** had the day off. Tuesday she said she couldn't meet with me as requested because she didn't have time.

Wednesday morning, b*** and senior manager to whom I complained ambushed me with a meeting. First senior manager asked me to repeat all of my complaints about b***, but in her presence. I said I had to get my notes; when I came back, they had repositioned themselves around the meeting table so they were both facing me. Oh yeah. I then just gave my two key points, with a suggestion on how we could work together going forward.

The response: b*** had a list of all her complaints about me. Oh yeah. Example, on Wednesday, August 27, you handed me X to proof and it had an incomplete sentence in it! Etc., etc. Then senior manager joined in, essentially disregarding my complaints. My request that my editorial production schedule allow for some (I've been requesting modest flexibility, like a day or two) flexibility as long as the delivery date doesn't change? That just means that I've created a BAD SCHEDULE! Like, who cares if somebody pulls a page of content because the information isn't ready for release. I should just be able to fill it, I guess.

Anyway, then the two of them went through my rough draft manuscript, and tore it apart with vicious criticism - skipping one part, saying they didn't even read this page (implication: it was too terrible). All 18 pages. Boy, that was fun! My defence: it was an incomplete draft. The whole reason we're here is that I said I needed more time in the schedule. My schedule. I do the whole thing; I should just have to let them know, in advance, when they will receive the draft to review. Why do they care so much if it's Monday or Wednesday?

The response: Again, if you have to change it, it's a bad schedule. Plus, they didn't think I could've done a better draft with two extra days anyway (despite all historical evidence to the contrary).

Ah!

So yesterday, I quit. B*** seemed relieved, and was back to fakey nicey nice. Senior manager was very upset! Shocked! Surprised! Kept me in there for an hour. Wanted to know, did she do something wrong?

I've tried every single thing I could think of to make this job work. But I am just so done. I'm very aware that some of what they said makes me look bad. And after I leave, it will be said that I did not do a good job because of things like incomplete sentences in rough drafts.

But every time I did accomplished something, it was disregarded and overlooked. Like delivering the magazine, in English & French, on time (despite the request for translation coming far into the production schedule and b*** not covering the project while I was on holiday as promised), readable and fun, chock-full of information, and then with glowing comments coming from the president, and from staff all over North America.

So, I'm done. Back to freelance until I find another fulltime position. Putting us back into financial uncertainty. And leaving behind a very cool project, which I excelled at and enjoyed.

Anyway, the next two weeks might be a little easier. I immediately transitioned one of my projects to one of my colleagues (who wanted the project). B*** proofread it, it got released, and there was a big fat mistake in it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

See grindstone. Apply nose.

I'm at work. Being the perfect employee. Delivering on my corporate promises.

But not my family promises.

Anyway, I'm going to hop on my bike and pedal home in about an hour -- that reminds me I have to call the insurance company because our plates have expired and we're gettin' a new car.

Hope when I get home my boy is home too.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Woo boy

Job interview was okay. I liked them, they liked me, but I don't really have the qualifications they're looking for, and I don't think I want to do media relations.

However, it gave me courage. I had a big talk with my B***'s b*** and told her my frustrations, like all of them, with my job and b***. I figured this is my last kick at the can; if there is any chance of improvement in this situation, I wanted to try to fix it, and be supported. Now I'm going to talk to my b*** who is already clenched and seething, and we had the most awkward and tense phone conversation ever.

Her "comments" on my performance review, framed as, "no surprises, just a re-cap of our discussion" was damning and if she really wanted to fire me (as they seem to do a lot there for what seems to be capricious reasons), she could -- all I have to do is sign it, indicating my agreement.

Then, last night, she sent me a terse, nasty little email telling me the fact that I revised the production schedule for my magazine is "unacceptable". Hello? I thought I was supposed to inform her if the production schedule changed. Anyway. Whatever. I'm so done.

As soon as I find another job.

Wish me luck, cuz I'm gonna need it.

In other news: My son started kindergarten! Kinda by accident. We thought the first day of school was next week. My hub took Charlie over to the school yesterday to say hi to the teacher, and lo and behold a class was on. The teacher came out to greet them, and said, "we'll see you this afternoon."

My wonderous husband actually got my son to go. And he didn't cry. And, tonight, after his second day, when I asked him if he liked it at all, he said with a smile, "Yeah, a little bit!"

So much for the new outfit, the photo, my tears, etc. Kinda just happened. I think this is the best way it could've happened for all of us. And Charlie is proud of himself for going to big boy school for two whole days!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Attendance mandatory

No interview. We have a new big boss. He called a department meeting today that would've required me to leave for my interview half-way through. I figured that wouldn't be cool.

I'd half-heartedly hoped he'd be older than me or at least in my decade. But nope, he's clearly in his 30s. Seems very energetic, chatty, not polished - but I think that's good.

The kicker (I need to make this cryptic): He is a relic from the Common S*nse R*volution. I can't even type it all out in case it turns up on a google search. So, while he seems chatty and open and all that, I know he has the capacity to be truly ruthless, and the capacity to defend a party that did what it did to this province. We have still not recovered.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Just lookin'

Here's a funny thing. I've got a job interview on Wednesday.

Oddly enough, I don't want to quit my job. I like it. I just would like my b*** to take a long walk off a short pier.

About two weeks ago, about 11:30pm on a Friday night, I was checking out Charity Village, one of my favourite job sites, and found an interesting job. I noticed that applications were due at midnight that night, so I quickly updated my resume, wrote an enthusiastic little note, and sent it off. Didn't think I'd get an interview; just thought I'd cheer myself up. Sort of like buying a lottery ticket.

At any rate, I don't expect the money to be on, but I'll iron my shirt, put on my interview suit, and check it out. Then after the interview, I can go back to the office and scare everyone with my rare splendour. I think I'll even wear makeup.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Six Days from Sunday

Here is a wonderful entry to the Hockey Night in Canada anthem contest, written by composer Jamie Hopkings, who I think is very talented, and a major hottie. It's entitled "Six Days from Sunday". To vote on it and to comment, you need to sign in with a user name. I think it's great!












There is also a 60-second version:








Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The venting place

I wish that after just about 7 months on the job, I could say it's getting better. I guess it is, sometimes. But never for very long.

Today my b*** actually, for the first time, liked my draft of the prez column. I allowed myself to feel good about that for a split second, and then wisely tamped it down. Good thing I did. Because there was more information forthcoming from same source: "Is that all there was today - those two things?" she asked.

"Y-yes," I said. "Both of those and I was handling the distribution problems from the magazine delivery yesterday."

"I'm just concerned about how long it took for you to complete those two pieces."

I sighed. I said, "you know, it just takes as long as it takes. I know you and Gertrude think it shouldn't take long at all, but it just does."

She said, "Well, I know how long it takes because I've done it."

Yeah, honey, you did it exactly twice back in January, but you didn't have to submit it to a prig like yourself.

I don't even remember what else I said to her, but for sure it sounded defensive. Once again, I am angry and frustrated.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

News flash

Ever feel a little warm? Maybe break a bit of a sweat every now and then for no reason? In this blog I've been whining on and on over the past couple of months about peri-menopause, as well as the night sweats brought on by the pharmaceutical I'm taking.

Sissy stuff.

I had my first official hot flash last night.

All I can say is that now I have had a taste of the hell that generations of peri-meno woman have endured over thousands and thousands and thousands of years. I woke up in the middle of the night with a big, "uh-oh", which is the signal that I'm going to barf. I lurched to the bathroom, which I swear turned from beige to bright Beelzebub red as the minutes passed. It felt like I had stepped into an oven; the heat was so intense it was almost painful. Next, I thought, hmm, maybe I'm gonna pass out now, so I lay down - aaaaahh - on the cold tile floor. And fell asleep. Woke up, oh, maybe five minutes later, pouring with sweat, thinking now I'm really gonna barf (sorry; have to share this). Ugh. But at least the oven had turned off.

Yeah, and check out these helpful suggestions: "some evidence exists that regular exercise can reduce hot flashes and that yoga can help by teaching women to control their body's response to the stresses that can lead to bothersome hot flashes".

Regular exercise - feh! Doing it already.
Yoga? Bite me! And, oh yeah, they suggest - get this - dressing in layers! Oh now that's really helpful.

No, all I have to console myself is the deep and secure knowledge that I have looked Lucifer right in the eye.

PS: I stole the photo above from this very cool website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

There is good in the world

An encounter on my trip home from work on the subway last night combined with inspiration from this wonderful blogger, specifically this entry, has put me in a good deedy mood...

Whenever I get in one of those darker moods (currently chemically alleviated somewhat) where I become hypersensitive to the destruction and despair in the world, I check in. Actually, in truth, I check in just about every day regardless of mood. But it's a place that will reassure you that there is good in the world.

I've also been inspired by this posting by blogger Posie Gets Cozy.

I use this passage of hers in particular, as a reminder of the good in the world, which is created by people; she wrote it while recovering from a serious accident:
I saw that the world was constantly falling apart, it was always in a state of little things always falling apart, and then there were these brigades of individual human angels, with kind eyes, apples and stitches, repairing, fixing, mending, patting, bandaging the wounds of the world, and putting it back together, piece by tiny piece.

Gooddeedaday and Posie are two of those angels. They make me want to be one.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pot of gold

The other night when we were eating dinner, some big dark clouds rolled in, as they have been doing all summer. And since Charlie has been obsessed with tornadoes lately, making us sit and watch them endlessly with him, he got quite excited and thought he maybe saw a funnel cloud forming. Though there were funnel clouds in the city during this storm, we didn't see one. Unless those hangie-downie ones are premies. Then, it rained, torrentially, as it has been doing all summer. And then the sun came out.

And so, we got a rainbow - and this one was the most magnificent I think I have ever seen. It was one big arc; actually two big arcs. Of course, I grabbed my camera. I have dozens of photos of rainbows - especially from our balcony - and they never even come close to capturing the rapture. But here they are. Seeing miracles like that rainbow bring me a lot of joy. I look forward to those kind of tears again.

Here's why:

It's been one week since I cut my dose of Cipralex from 10mg to 5mg.

I did it because I don't like the side effects, which have not abated after 4 months, specifically:
a) the stomach upset;
b) the night sweats and subsequent shivering which mean I wake up shivering every morning; and
c) I REALLY crave cigarette smoke; I've never smoked, but I tell ya, I could really use a ciggie right now; and
d) the emotional constipation this drug has given me.

Having been a very sensitive and emotional person all my life, and also having gone through all those sessions of CBT to get over my fear of crying in public, I've been reflecting that, while on this medication, I miss that part of me that could cry at a sad episode of Deep Space 9.

While at 10 mg, I had a good solid three weeks of no tears, no crying at all. There were times when I expected to cry and did not. Could not. Which would've been great back when I was so terrified of crying at work (i.e. the last 20 years).

But now, my chief assignment since therapy is that I'm supposed to just let myself feel what I'm feeling and deal with the consequences. The problem on the meds is that sometimes I need to cry and I can't. It gets stuck and won't come out. Emotional constipation is not how I want to live. Not after all that hellish processing and facing up the the nugget of my fear I went through in therapy.

Note: I did cry in my b*ss's office when she crapped all over my draft outline and told me she was "concerned". I hadn't cried in a long time. Figures the damn would break there and then - though not out of sadness, but anger. But I just talked through it - no big hairy deal. She of course sat there as cold as ice. All I can say is, maybe she should cut back her dose too.

So far, the stomach upset has subsided a lot. But the sweats: yipes! Maybe it really is peri-menopause this time. But does that include huge drops in temperature too?
One more pic: here's what the sky looked like after the rainbow faded. We get a real good show up here, we do. So good, there aughta be a law.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happiness is... Friday night


This is where we went last weekend.

I wonder what fun lies ahead? These are the good old days!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just a day at the spa

In a sharp contrast to my daily dose of being undermined, mistrusted and denigrated, I took the subway yesterday morning down to St. Mike's gastroenterology department, checked in with a friendly, calm receptionist, then sat with a magazine and waited for my colonoscopy.

I got summoned by a very polite student volunteer (wearing a T-shirt that said "Student Volunteer"), who led me to the changeroom and showed me my locker in the manner of someone welcoming to a spa treatment. He handed me my gowns - you get to double gown, so no bare bumbie. After I changed, I was shown to a Lazyboy chair and a nurse, who introduced herself and told me about St. Mike's international reputation for treating the kind of stuff I was being tested for. First though, she noticed I looked cold, so brought me a heated blanket. Nice.

After she stuck the IV thingie in my hand (it hurt), she led me to another Lazyboy chair, which was where she tucked me in to wait for
my procedure, and told me I could nap if I wanted to. It was a long wait, but I was very comfy, and the Olympics were on the tv in front of me, so I got to watch synchro diving team Alexandre Despatie and Arturo Miranda. They came in 5th (sigh), but it was pleasant just reclining there under a blanket with no obligations.

Then I was interviewed in my comfy chair by one of the dr's assitants. I totally forget his actual title, but he introduced himself, and after the
symptom & medical history questions, chit-chatted with me about my son, etc. I had oxygen & a sedative during the procedure - I fought the sedative as best I could - I wanted to watch the monitor - and so I got to see the whole thing, which was very cool. Another benefit of watching was I saw for myself that they didn't find anything. A benefit of the sedative is that you feel pretty darn relaxed.

The first thing they'd find - if they were to find anything during this screening - would be a polyp, which is pre-pre-cancer. And had they found one, they would h
ave remove it right then and there. In short, in means you probably won't get that cancer, if you get screened once very five years and have polps removed. They catch the trouble before it starts.

I got tons of praise from the four (I think) people in the room for being relaxed and not fussing about the discomfort. So, gleaning from that, I understand it
can be uncomfortable, and if I had felt any pain, I definitely would have squawked about it.

Then we were done, and I was told - again - what a great job I did (how I've been longing to hear those words!), and that I was completely and totally clear of any polyps. A new nurse rolled me on my soft comfy bed over to recovery, where I was instructed to sleep and feel free to toot (they didn't actually say "toot").

Two hours later I woke up, and a very chipper nurse brought me cookies and ginger ale. After she determined I was okay to go, I changed, greeted my hub and boy, and went with my boy to find the doctor so I could check out. He again praised me for being so relaxed and said he wished all his patients were like me. Jee
z! I mean, I've been feeling like I'm some sort of scourge whenever I have any dealings with my boss, I was almost in shock with all this nicey-nice talk from the doc, who may say all this stuff to all his patients - possible, because he really was nice. Then he gave my son a chocolate (with my permission), and off we went.

I was hungry, so hub and boy agreed we should go to Swi$$ Ch^le+, and so we did. A pretty darn good day, all told.

I'm glad I had the screening. I was dreading it, but I would not object to doing it annually if I had to -- it's really not that bad. I did need to be tested: I've go
t family with various related problems, which is why my GP booked me for it, plus I felt I should do it for personal reasons. My old mentor has colorectal cancer, one of my best friends has lost her sister and brother in law to colon cancer, and a friend's mom has battled it twice. Plus Katie Couric did it on TV - and good for her for doing that it reassured me that it couldn't be too mortifying. And in fact, it really was not embarrassing at all.

When I woke up on Tuesday morning - the morning before the screening - I was practically paralyzed with anxiety, facing my performance review with my b*ss cum borg drone, and then an evening with Kleen Prep. I was so anxious I couldn't eat lunch. And I wasn't supposed to eat after lunch - they want you to have an empty stomach before you start cleaning yourself out. Anyway, my performance review went okay. I came into it prepared with proactive plans for all of her previous criticisms and pointed out all the stuff I was already doing. Plus I reminded her that in-depth industry knowledge had not been a qualification for my job, but since it appeared that she now required it of me (actually demanded it), then I would need help in the form of courses.

I felt pretty satisfied about the meeting and once I got back to my desk, I was so bloody relieved I could've put my head down on my desk and fallen asleep. Turns out I was about a billion times more anxious about my review than I was about having a colonoscopy. Then, the colonscopy day turned out to be pretty good. Way better than a day at the frigging salt mine, that's for sure. And that's gotta change.

Colonoscopy prep notes:
The prep - which cleans you out the evening before the screening, as well as the morning of - is unpleasant, but not horrible; I expected the Kleen-prep would make me feel horribly sick, but it didn't. I had a stack of magazines, and highly recommend People's "Child Stars, Then & Now" -- it's perfect for an evening on the throne. You have to drink a cup of the stuff every 10 minutes until you "run clear". The only big deal about it is that you cannot leave the throne until, well, you can leave the throne. So the trip downtown had to be carefully timed for after the running stopped, which was about 2 1/2 hrs in total.

Photo:
Our sunflowers, which Char
lie planted back in April. I love 'em; they're so freaky.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I know dark clouds will gather round me

I know my way is rough and steep. But golden fields lie out before me where God’s redeemed shall ever sleep.

Just feeling rather dramatic here at 3:16am. And sleep - though not the permanent kind - would be most welcome. I've got more trouble at w*ork, and I need to vent.

This afternoon my b%ss crapped all over the outline I wrote for the big cheese's message - which I prepared in response to her crapping all over my first draft, which apparently did not have enough "thought leadership". As for my outline, she said she started to comment on it, but just had to do her own.

Turns out she thought mine was so terribly lacking she said is "concerned" about my ability to do this at all. Then as I looked at her outline she told me the three points she thought were most important. I grabbed mine, and circled the same three points.

She then said she didn't like the writing style of the outline; it didn't have a good narrative flow. I looked at her with some astonishment and reminded her it was an outline, not the article, and that I needed feedback before proceeding because she had thought I was so off the mark with my first draft.

I told her in future I need clear direction on what the article is supposed to be about, including the main point I'm supposed to make, as well as a brief outline.

She said they shouldn't have to provide me with an outline and that I should generate it. I said I didn't think it was unreasonable or unorthodox for a writer to require an outline about a topic that is unfamiliar, never mind wanting one even when the topic is familiar. She disagreed and said -again - that she's very concerned. I said well then Gertrude (her boss, and my dotted-line report) has hired the wrong person for the job. She again said she's concerned.

This is not a good sign.

Anyway I noted that the article is supposed to be 400 words and the outline looked to be more than that, and was there anything in there that shouldn't be. She said to not be concerned with word count and just see "where this lands".

In other news: I have my performance review tomorrow - hurrah! Plus I get to write and submit yet another draft by noon! Then, I get to consume 4 litres of Kl@@n-Prep to prepare for my colonoscopy on Wednesday. You know things are really good when you're looking forward to a colonoscopy.