Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No, really, just tell me

Some of us are leaders. Some of us are go-getters and pro-active doers and know what the world is about.

Some of us are not.

Some of us are just lazy, some of us read detective novels without trying to guess who did it. Some of us get by on occasional jolts of coffee and manager-induced adrenaline. Some of us just tag along and wonder when someone is going to explain the explanation. Some of us read popular science, not to understand, but because it entertains us. Pretty pictures. Interesting ideas. Chaos theory = awesome, but it doesn't stop us, the bewildered, from completely forgetting/failing to understand what all of it means.

Some of us go out there and find explanations. Some of us are Einstein, most of us are not. I don't say "Einstein" as a placeholder for "incomprehensible genius". No, I actually mean Einstein, because he is the scientist everyone wants to be, and everybody has this idea that it should be simple. Hence the multitude of crackpot ideas*. Those are all people trying hard to lead, but without taking the intermediate steps.

Anyway, my labyrinthine point is that we do not all strive the rule, or to understand in depth. Well, I guess it would be nice to understand, but mostly if someone else does the work.

So here's two questions on behalf of the muddled and non-desiring-of-leadership:
Question A: Given that some of us are not inclined to extensive research, how do we keep from being ignorant and foolish? How do we figure out which popular science book to read? What do we base our beliefs on? Who can tell us what it all means? How do followers keep from following the idiotic or obscene? Who do we trust?

Question B: Given that some of us are not leaders, and that that is the societal norm for success, how is it that we have careers, often successful ones? What is the professional goal if not management of something or someone? What with the ambition of the unambitious? How can they best use their skills?

*And just in case you though I came up with idea, I didn't, I actually stole it from A Little Knowledge, one of This American Life's better shows (which says something)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Global warming

Or so it seems on our return from the South - it is far too warm here.  I have been much occupied eating Christmas cookies and wrapping things. All that is done now, we are back, I am exhausted and yes, I go back to work tomorrow.

Meh. 


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Moderation

Yesterday was the day of the Open House. There were children, and foods, and lots of cool people. There was Sorcia, in a very fetching outfit. (Yes, I did think of The Devil Wears Prada - "You are very fetching. So, go fetch.")
There were dainty things on toothpicks. There were Christmas cookies. It was all very seasonal, and slightly alcoholic. Not for the children, we don't believe in intoxicating anyone under the age of six.

So here's a jolly ho-ho to the Spouse's good efforts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The best thing about being seventeen

Very consciously I never wanted to be sentimental about being a teenager. I find myself, however, remembering some of that time with that gut-wrenching intensity that pulls you through some loophole in spacetime. I listen to A Bit of a Blur - read by Alex James - and then to For Tomorrow, a song I listened to twenty million times when I was just sixteen, and I remember it was not all bad, and most of all, it was all-consuming in a way that nothing ever quite is after that. Maybe that is what people see in their teenage past; not so much the good or the bad, but the overwhelming implacable absoluteness of it.

And then I start remembering all the bad things.

Somewhere in there I asked my sister's then-boyfriend "Which is better, to forgive or to forget?" He said it was better to forget, because what is forgiveness with a memory?

Can you forgive your past? Or maybe yourself?

Holding on for tomorrow...it seems at present such a small tomorrow, just Christmas shopping, no whole new world, and always talking just a little too much.

For those of you who have seen the movie, but not read the book, please read The Neverending Story; you may find it houses your memories as well as Bastian's this Christmas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Things I never thought I'd see

This is for those of you who remember the obscure and obscured past - from my beloved friend bbc.co.uk:

[Blur's] Bassist Alex James is currently hosting a show on Classic FM and has expanded his family, welcoming four children to the family cheese farm in Oxfordshire since 2004.
It sounds a little like something Alex James might have written in a drunken haze sometime in the mid-nineties as a dark parody of his dissolute lifestyle. Terrifying, that. Is this what awaits sexy bass players if they are lucky? Family cheese farms? Classic FM? Hell, it had better be an organic, animal friendly cheese farm, and he had better not like Wagner. He should at least have gone for Radio Four. Audible, give me that autobiography.

Editor's Note: I realise that this post is mostly an reference to things you don't know, and wouldn't necessarily understand if I explained. Blur: British band to which I devoted endless hours and discussions in the dark nineties. Alex James: I said he was a sexy bass played with a bad name. What more could you need to know? Classic FM: Semi-cheesey (ahahaha! no pun intended) British classical music radio. Radio Four: The real thing, full of erudite things, classical music and Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter. Audible: Wonderful place of digital audiobook downloads. All legal and therefore, sadly, only for the monied classes. That biography: A Bit of a Blur (pun sadly intended obviously), Alex James's book about hisself.

Quest

It has been a while since I have written about the quest in the title. This is in part because the quest such as it was had been mostly achieved; and I have been struggling to formulate new goals. Not because I couldn't think of any, but because I couldn't figure out what I wanted. Well, that strategy - no strategy - has, unsurprisingly enough not really paid off.

I think you should all go and get some tea and a biscuit (cookie for the Americans) while I figure this out.

You know, I am not the only person in the universe with self esteem issues. Mine aren't so bad. I think I'm ok. I think I do ok. Only I don't - I feel increasingly incompetent. I wonder if this is because my current job is a bad fit. I love my job. Well, I love some of my job. I love how I get to do new things all the time. I love that I get to write for it. But there is a lot of nitty gritty - the glorified secretary part. Hey, I'm not too good for that; but I am not very good at it. I try to be. It is not that I have no aptitude for detail. I have some, when I can work consistently and with focus; but juggling a million details with my increasingly bad memory, well, it's not my forte. I drop stuff. Saucers. Suitcases. USB cables.
So the quest - I must find one. Get over myself. Get some more education. Figure out what I want (pick a card - any card). Do something to keep from feeling so damn stupid all the time. I am getting increasingly impatient and disoriented. Meanwhile, let's see if my modest achievements can get me a press pass for the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Indeciding

Ah yes, I have been too busy with the prosaic nature of life to write. I do apologize. Stamping Christmas cards is an onerous task. My sense of humour has been mostly occupied with my place of employment; it requires one. Most of all, one should not underestimate the effort involved in making tea to resist the current cold spell, and the time spent in making soup and reading mysteries. I contemplate others' creative efforts with pleasure; but my inner artist is all taken up with that stamping business and picking out Christmas gifts and listening to Loreena McKennitt. Nobody every warned me that being an adult would take such an awful lot of time.

Depeche Mode. Winter is the best time to listen to Depeche Mode. Maybe a good time to motivate myself for some eighties party? Or chocolate. Yes, chocolate would be nice. And a sharp knife for this Gordian knot of future possibilities. And lack thereof. Yes, I am thinking about career options yet again. Yes, I am at least a bored with that as you are. Yes, I would love to make a decision. I am not good at making decisions when I don't already know what I want (Indian or Japanese? The black dress or the suit? Sprouts or leeks? Do we want it wrapped? Mustard with that? Oranges or tangerines? Theatre or music? Paper or plastic?) It all just makes me feel like I am not good at anything.

Time for a nice walnut, endive and blue cheese salad? Yes, I think so. When faced with arbitrary choices, always choose all options.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Placeholder

This post goes where something else should go. Something interesting. Some plan or exciting outcome. Construction has been delayed due to budgetary shortfall. Instead, I will be driving to Arbutus; but I promise I will chide myself on the way.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

(Quoth she, over breakfast grapefruit)
So here we are again, Thanksgiving is over, I have eaten my weight in pecan pie, and will now have to live on salad without dressing for the next two weeks. Also, Obama has named Hillary his Secretary of State, and everybody is wondering if he took the Doris Kearns Goodwin book too seriously. No, seriously, good for him, I think she'll do a good job. I finished reading Tolstoy's The Kreuzer Sonata and Other Stories which I had picked up in a moment of careless optimism (I love the Kreuzer Sonata - the music that is) only to confirm my hunch that Tolstoy was a grumpy, misanthropical, misogynist old man and a total waste of my time. I am still listening to that endless FDR biography, which may have destroyed my respect for the man for ever, and is certainly testing my patience. On the upside, I am also reading Bridge to Terabithia, and so far that is pretty good.

Moral of the story: do not eat pretzels for dinner. Also: do not read Tolstoy, no matter how tempting it may be. Finally: kids books are, I think, better than adult books on average. They have a better eye for craftsmanship, for the art of keeping a reader's attention, for being creative without being pointless. The moral then: if in doubt, read children's books.

I know, I have some good adult reads waiting for me, and I should tackle those.