Thursday, June 28, 2007

AWOL


Today I am not here, because I am away. I am being stressed and also I am proofreading. Mixing work and Shakespeare makes for a Molotov cocktail.

The above depicts my wishful/positive thinking. Images of an ideal workplace.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hand it over

I can't resist folks - even Yahoo news has noticed it - Gordon Brown has finally become prime minister of the UK. Well, I had almost given up hope that Tony Blair would ever leave. I was half expecting him to change his mind, gently depost the queen, and declare himself imperator for life. At which point Brown could well have plotted to stab Tony in the House of Commons, leading to bloody civil war, but that is another story altogether.

Tony, alas, the UK will now have to make do without its very own Messianic leader. What ever happened Tony, we all had such high hopes when you got elected. You seemed so sensible, albeit a little bit of a demagogue. But you were so good at being a demagogue Tony, and truth be told we kind of liked you for that. When did the Jesus complex take hold Tony, when did you start to think you could walk on water? Credit where credit's due, though: you made drowning look respectable and you did, in the end, hand over power. I respect that.

We'll take our chances with Gordon now, Tony, though you really should have called an election. We kind of like Gordon, that whole Scottish thing he has going, and the small child. We think he's endearing, in a dour, financial sort of way. You go, Gordon.

Coming up

I need to start thinking about packing and such things. Friday I leave, and I have heaps of things to do before then. There is a lot to pack. What I mean is: I don't know how much you will see of me over the next week and a half. There may be brief posts. There may be no posts. There may be long, desperate midnight posts. Who knows.

I may tell you what I think of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. I could tell you about the pandemonium I am heading for; but I probably won't. One must be politically correct after all, no matter how tempting the alternative might be. I shall bring a few good books, some food, band aids, a notebook; and it'll be like being a Girl Scout again - all uniforms and group activities.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Recommended

I wouldn't want to you to think that I have abandoned you. Not at all. I haven't. It's just that at the mo, I am still not quite, er, present. I am here, of course, wherever that may be, and there are as yet no tapdancing penguins. Tapdancing penguins would improve this day quite a bit. No. There is, instead of penguins, a certain amount of drudgery to be dealt with. I am discovering that Good Causes don't necessarily make you feel more chirpy.

Peanut butter, on the other hand, may make some people feel more chirpy. For others coffee will do the trick.

Oh, and I have a reading tip for Practicing Idealist, just for the heck of it. PI, if you haven't read Seymour, an introduction by J.D. Salinger, then I recommend it. In fact I recommend it to all teachers. I know, you are thinking, J.D. Salinger, Questing Beast, surely you can come up with something more...novel. True, unavoidably true. I could recommend Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano, a book so good it survived both inept but enthusiastic analysis and my intense dislike of this type of story. To be frank, however, it is not a summer book - too autumnal for this scorching heat. No, trust me, you want to read Seymour. When you do read it, tell me what you think.

Personally I am joining the unsophisticated many eagerly awaiting the appearance of The Deathly Hallows. It beats queuing up to see Daniel Radcliffe naked, although according to some people there is something to be said for that. Those people are not me, and besides, I live too far from London.

Btw, on the subject of book recommendations, once upon a time, when I was about to start a job at the Corporate Giant Who Previously Employed Me, they asked me for references. Stumped, I gave them two academic references as well as a professional one (I was then brand spanking new to the job market). In order for me to do this, I of course had to email said references to alert them to the possibility of their being called by Random Corporate Agents. I did so with the flippancy of the recently and blissfully graduated, and got a book recommendation as well as a reference. The source of the tip was one I then respected to the point of frightened reverence, and I did actually read the book. It was J.M. Coetzee's Youth. For those of you who don't know/read Coetzee, he is very good, very cold, and terribly depressing. I am going to spoil the plot for you here, because seriously, Digrace and Waiting for the Barbarians are better. The story is about a young man (read = Coetzee) leaving his native South Africa to move to England to work for IBM. He ends up hating IBM, and leaves it to become a writer. Ta-da, end of story. After I finished the book I wondered about the reason for the recommendation. What was this former teacher of mine trying to tell me? There was, of course, the obvious thing: I had just signed over my soul to the devil and was going to work for IBM, I mean, a Corporate Giant Who Shall Remain Nameless. Obvious. Still, we women are supposed to have overactive minds, so I wondered if there was more to it. I was/am neither South African nor a misanthrope. I did and do not dislike England, nor do I bear the Corporate Giant any grudge. I never did quit that job to become a writer. I quit it to get married. How mundane of me. So the lesson is: if you want to tell somebody something by giving them a book recommendation, you may want to give them a short note stating what you are trying to tell them.

No worries about Seymour. It is really just a good book.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Dazed

I'm on a binge. I am reading, and not paying attention, and thinking of nothing work-related, and just generally not being a good employee. It is good to be able to read the news. I feel silly and irresponsible, and enjoying that. I am tired and reluctant. Recalcitrant and obnoxious, playful and silly. Not quite there, not really here at all.

Time to quote some T.S. Eliot, in honour of the Norton Anthology.

I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?

I see a doctor this afternoon. I don't like doctors, and have little faith in their ability to cure what ails me. There are a few things that ail me. Nothing major. I am not criticising my doctor; she's fine. I just want to be healthy.

I am homesick and sleepy, and missing the Spouse in advance. He leaves tomorrow. I am thinking in confused Spanish poetry as a consequence.

Tengo miedo a perder la maravilla
de tus ojos de estatua y el acento
que me pone de noche en la mejilla
la solitaria rosa de tu aliento.

or also

Never let me lose the marvel
of your statue-like eyes, or the accent
the solitary rose of your breath
places on my cheek at night.

When I am incoherent, I am all quotations.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Questpost

If on a quest, make sure that you update your quest goals regularly.
If you are married, make sure to make breakfast for your spouse every once in a while.
If you like chocolate, be sure to eat only good chocolate.
If you work, make sure that you don't whinge more than you work. If you do, change jobs.
If you cry at sad movies, enjoy the experience.
If you are busy, don't forget to love the little things - fuzzy slippers, good coffee, fresh mangoes, calls from friends.
If you are stressed, don't forget to take time to walk.
If you like baths, have them.
If you are doing The Artist's Way, remember the advice about not looking for big timeslots, and using the little ones instead.
If you are reading James Joyce Ulysses, good luck to you. It is worth the years you spend trying to read it, but only if you like that sort of thing.
If you cherish your friends, don't forget to also call them.
If you love your family, don't forget to call them either.
If you are odd, remember that you are more like others than you think. For better or for worse.
If you like clothes, enjoy consignment stores.
If you need help, ask for it.
If sleeping is hard, do something else. Sleep will come of its own accord.
If you have to do annoying things, do them first.

There, my platitudes/notes to self for the day. Additions welcome.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Speed of writing

Yes, don't even ask. So unsurprisingly things are busy and while I guess technically I could have found a minute to write, instead I chose to spend that minute folding laundry. What is it with laundry this week anyway? I am preparing for an extended work trip, and am kind of stressed about that. I am not sure why I am stressed, because though it will be hard work, nothing unusual is expected of me. When I say "nothing unusual" I mean of course "nothing unusual considering the odd skills I use in my job".

So I don't pretend to have anything interesting to say, especially since I am still not allowed to read, but I figured I should at least stick my head over the parapet and show that I am still here. Life is good, and I am trying hard to handle the stress in a sensible way. The thing I really should do is exercise. Why is it so hard to find time to do that and hang the curtains as well? Time to go swimming, I think.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hmmm

I am still in reading deprivation. It is not fun, but I am doing laundry, not to mention the fact that I am blogging. It is odd; I can't remember ever not reading anything for a week. Not since I learned to read. Instead of reading, I am going to eat ice cream. How does ice cream compare to reading?

Hmmmmmm. Ice cream. Crunchy ice cream. It's too hot outside. Must cool off brain.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Here be dragons

So folks, I am not allowed to read this week. The Artist's Way is making my life difficult, and so if you don't see any links on my posts this week, then that's why. I am not allowed to read. I have declared email exempt (I would like to not get myself fired just now), but will keep that to a minimum. The crazy things people will do just because they are told to.

The weekend was great. We didn't do anything spectacular - and that was wonderful.

Lately I have been really stressed about work, and I am tired of it (work? stress?) and want to just curl up. I wonder if what I am really stressed about is the fact that I no longer can just quit this job. Also: stressed about all of the demands they keep implicitly making on my private life. So far I have managed to keep things within boundaries, but this is getting harder all the time.

I must find ways to relax.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

busy

Yes, I know, I'm kind of absent just. Things are a little hectic, and free time is mostly taken up with sleeping. Tomorrow is the Spouse and I's first wedding anniversary, and I don't expect to have much time. One year ago tomorrow we were driving to our mystery minimoon location and the Spouse was still seething about the official who married us (for being entirely awful, not for marrying us).

Good day, though.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Can somebody please explain?

So I was having a look around on Language Log, which has recently become one of my favourite blogs. We likes linguists. I saw that there was an older post about the (supposed) liberal bias of the media. That whole story about the liberal bias of the media always cracks me up. What can I say - watch the BBC sometime. Ooooh the liberal bias on them. Anyway. The post was written by Geoff Nunberg, he of book-writing fame, although I didn't realise that until the end of the post. The post was devoted to a rebuttal of a study supposedly proving the mentioned liberal bias, and linked to a response by the researchers in question. I read Nunberg's post - good post, a bit vehement, but well, the man's a linguist. Then I read the response by Grosclose and Milyo*. Let me correct that statement - I desperately tried to read their response. I tried to understand what they were saying, but linguists or not, they blinded me with statistics, my inner goldfish kicked in and there was an end to the experiment. Is there anyone out there who is smarter than I am and more well-versed in statistical methods who can tell me if this really annihilates Nunberg's criticism? Perhaps certain people I know with a weakness for Noam Chomsky will rush to my defence? No? My brain hurts and it is proven - I am getting more stupid.

*My, what lovely names you have!

Question of time

It is all a question of time -

Lately I have been experimenting with redistributing my time. I feel like this is important, as my priorities in life are not necessarily reflected in what I actually spend my time on. The time spent on doing The Artist's Way is part of that reschuffle, and it is not easy to free up the time for that. Tonight I am going to see about doing some more volunteer work, and that is also part of the re-shuffle. Volunteer work is usually such a good deal though - you get to do something useful, you get to meet people, and you learn stuff. In my case, hopefully, it will also involve some more time spent with the Spouse.

You have to get the time from somewhere, though, and while I should probably not regret watching Scrubs less (but I like Scrubs!), I do always regret the extra random home time. Time to cook more or less at my leisure, time to read, time to talk. This is the eternal conflict between wanting to be social, and wanting to spend time doing nothing much at home. I am lazy, hmmm, lazy good. I go through life signing myself up for extra volunteering, study abroad, onerous tasks and lengthy dinner while I am not looking. For those of you who have seen Happy Feet, I am like the penguin at the top of the ice shelf who isn't brave enough to jump but who really wants to - I have to trip myself. Whoosh, there I go, mumbling curses under my breath all the way, and suddenly there I am in the icy wilds of Northern Ireland, or I'm suddenly stuffing envelopes, or getting on the train to the coast. As they used to say when I was a theatre kid - do first, and we will think later.

Just for you benefit...(though really, you have to see it)
Ramón: [standing ontop of a cliff, trying to get ready to jump off]
Ramón: I can do this, I can do this... I have to trick myself.
[points at something behind him]
Ramón: Boy, look at that!
[looks at where he's pointing]
Ramón: What?
[falls off the cliff]

Monday, June 11, 2007

New today

Yes, my dear people, my employer has provoked my wrath again. I am not going to explain because there is no point, but I am starting to feel doomed to working with really good managers and really obtuse employers. Sigh. Instead I will mention that I finished reading Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, one of those books that the critics call a tour de force. I just call it compelling, because it is very compelling. It is written with Coetzee's usual emotional detachment, by which I mean both that the detachment is an emotional affair and that his characters are detached from their emotions. The blurb mumbles something about oppressor and oppressed, but personally I think that there is more to it than that. What really grabbed me about it is how it describes the way we project emotions onto situations and people, getting absorbed into the world our projections create and forgetting the other side of the issue.

On another topic, I am up to week three of The Artist's Way. It is at times a disconcerting experience, and I am still stunned at how emotional it is. For this week's "Artist date" (meaning time spent doing something I want to do on my own, and planned) I ended up going to the Book Thing, hence Coetzee, and a stack of other books. It was marvellous. I guess it is one of those things that according to the book we don't allow ourselves (enough).

I figure that I will apply the same principle to The Artist's Way as I do to treatment and medication - if it works, it stays, even if I don't know how it works.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interactive

Can I make this one interactive?

Ok, here goes:
Bizarre and wonderful things I have done for a living -
- Hanging curtains
- Translate notes describing people's lost cat
- Being on a committee telling people what to wear
- Walking around an electronics store, pushing buttons
- Eating bagels
- Reading blogs
What are yours?

This dress committee thing is really quite, quite amusing, but I am glad to note that the voice of reason was heard during the first meeting.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Writing

Peoples,

Things are in busy here in the Pueblo, and I spent yesterday having an out-of-town I-have-the-best-job-in-the-world-day, so apologies if I am not as communicative as usual just now. Moreover, the Spouse and I are having some friends over for the next couple of days so my posting will be fickle.

I am keeping up the work on The Artist's Way assignments, somewhat reluctantly. I didn't get to write my morning pages this morning, but did do them as soon as I was able. So is it working yet? Well, good question. In a good many ways I feel like the book addresses quite a few hang-ups that I don't have. I also don't feel like writing more, and don't feel like I am improving my writing. That said, I do feel generally good, better than I've felt. I am more energetic. Is this due to this, I don't know. The other things is that I do find whatever writing I am doing much more enjoyable.

That's the verdict so far...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Funny, very funny

I am laughing folks, I am laughing quite a bit. Do you know why I am laughing? Well, I have just been selected to be on the dress code committee, aka the fashion committee, aka the fashion police, aka the fascist committee*. Oh, that's just too funny. It is well worth a few extra hours of my time.

As they say, if you can't beat them...

Also, I'd like to add that Language Log, recently added to my blogroll, I very funny. Particularly for those of you who also enjoy I Can Has Cheezburger.

*Ok, so I'm just kidding about that last one. Though...

Friday, June 01, 2007

This is funny or, I feel like a techie

So I didn't know about this site. Perelaar, my friend, I recommend it to you especially. It's pretty funny.

It's weird, one of the cool things about my job is that I get to sit in on a lot of conversations with technology companies about what their next product is going to look like. Or why their current product is sub-optimal. So I know about a lot of new stuff, and when it's coming, and sometimes I get to play with it ahead of time. Really cool. But I don't actually know the cogs and wheels of any of it, making me a non-technological person who knows a lot about technology.

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, I am talking to you

I am always amazed at the sentimentalism that surrounds American universities, the t-shirts, mugs and teddybears. Maybe it is just because I resent my own university, my alma mater, the mother of my educated soul. Why should I resent them? They gave me a great value-for-money education (no study loans!), they sent me to Northern Ireland and Canada, they taught me all I needed to know. Why do I detest them more every year? I had a great time there, and yet I do not own a single t-shirt, not a single pen (I had one, but I lost it); my degrees are not framed. Part of that is just Belgian culture - we are not very sentimental. Most importantly, I feel like they let me down. They let me down when they overhauled the degree structure and left us with "incompatible" degrees - for example I have no idea whether my primary degree is a bacherlor's or a master's. It is kind of in between, at four years; but the same thing is now called a master's. My secondary degree, a one-year programme, is even more problematic. And then there is all of the other stuff I dislike them for - their massive, pervasive indifference; their anonymous graduation ceremonies. After attending the first graduation, in the stifling summer heat in a university building I had never been in, where they head of the university lectured us for far too long, rather than letting us be heard or seen, I didn't bother with the second. I can live without cheap orange juice and crisps. When I saw everyone in robes here a few weeks ago, I was envious. Call me superficial, but hell, having an applicable set of robes would have been nice. It's the Cambridge Spies fantasy.

Oh well, tangent aside, they suck. Would I send my children there, if they wanted that? Absolutely. But if they do, then I'm throwing them a party afterwards. With friends. And alcohol.

Perhaps the conclusion here is that my university and my degrees gave me no particular market value; but they did give me a bunch of other stuff - friends, experiences, plays, analytical skills (haHA), writing skills, all of that good stuff.

Thank you, wankers. I did most of it myself. Thanks to my parents, who did actually care, and did actually pay.

Note: It is not because I am currently vexed with the old bag I call my alma mater, that I am, in fact, not having a good day. I am having a perfectly nice day. Also the Spouse returns tomorrow!