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


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


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).


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.