Weird random occurrence is weird.

Yes, I’ve finally decided to write it up. The critique did say I needed to take risks to be a real writer, after all… and when I think about it, this is about the most offbeat thing I’ll ever have to write about.

(Well, that and the whole ‘providing liner notes for a Bob & Ray CD’ thing. Heard back from the publisher last week, they’re just setting out the final layout and needed me to cite the few quotes I used. Gotta love legal departments.)

At any rate, please note, when reading the below, that I know there is at least a 95.9% chance I have taken a stupid little non-incident twenty years ago and have blown it up into something… else. Half the reason I am writing is to make it a 100% chance. The other half involves my being tired of chasing my own brain trying to figure it out, and deciding to ‘write it out’, once and for all.

So… it’s 1990. I’m hanging out watching TV… flicking round the dial… pausing to check out a spandy-new cable channel called  YTV. Back then, not so much with the hipness; more with the Camp Cariboo reruns. So when what appears to be an actual live-action costume drama pops up, I am intrigued.

Plot-thickening under the cut…

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Notes from the Insomnia Side

Le sigh. My body chemistry and I really need to have a little chat.

I have read somewhere — this is going to be the title of the snarky general-knowledge book I will eventually write, Things I Read Somewhere — that it is possible to reset your bioclock so that you can, say, turn yourself into a morning person. I am a bit sceptical of this in theory, because what the hell are you supposed to do with yourself in the mornings, except wait around for the day to start?

However, known human civilization continues to discriminate against those of us who’d prefer it started at 1pm, and it’s even harder to be a Proud Minority when you’re totally sleep-deprived.

We won’t even get into what it does for your rep when starting a new position, especially when it’s been made clear they’re expecting you to introduce exciting new innovations, on account of you did come from the leading division of the company after all… Luckily, first impressions suggest an, erm, fairly low ‘wow’ threshold ("You can report by commodity? Amazing!") but still, pride involved here.

So, falling blissfully asleep before midnight, perchance to dream of Marketing reform, this is my new goal. Not as fun as 2am snack-cake-fuelled Mythbusters reruns, but I’m turning 39 this year, I need to reduce the *ahem* fun quotient anyway. At the very least, I’ll be switching the snacks out from Twinkies to… whatever else comes in a handy wrapper for easy semi-somnambular consumption. I’ll need to research that. Um, in the afternoon sometime. Naturally.

In other who’s-in-charge-of-this-body-anyway news, my right foot is on the fritz. Apparently (thank you Interwebs) it is called ‘plantar fascitis’, and has a complex pathology involving various inflamed connexions between heel and instep, but basically: You know that feeling after hard exercise when you finally relax, and then try and move those muscles again? That, only with extra potential to make you look like a bad parody of a 97-year-old. The comic irony, when unthinkingly jumping up to chase those dagnabbed cats off the kitchen counter, is extreme.

Pre-stretching a bit each time helps, and apparently it does eventually clear up entirely, so I’m not totally crippled or anything. Just for now getting odd looks around the office whenever I head to the print room. And having to put up with pawprints on the cutting board…

…And oh, did I mention that I walk to work? Having specifically moved here because it was possible, thus avoiding a long commute? Which constant pavement-pounding instead probably gave me the damn plantar-whatever in the first place?

Irony is a cruel, cruel mistress.

If it wasn’t for the honour of the thing, I’d kill them all.

Sigh. No, I cannot finish these markdowns on Monday. No, I cannot provide all the marketing info the new girl needs from a link she already has. No, I will not continue to keep an eye on these vendor setups…

…in case you hadn’t noticed, I have a new job to start, here. In an entirely new buying office. It is not my fault my replacement in THIS office is only half-ready to solo, after two weeks training on my part and three more out of the kindness of the other buyer assistants’ hearts. You are the ones who hired her from a small independent company and expect her to adapt to life in a  massive corporate machine, and she is the one who accepted.

And (while I can sympathise a bit more with this one) it is also not my fault that the new group needs me to start a full week before the BA I’ve subsequently been temping for returns from vacation, thus leaving no-one to process the returning fall preview samples. Frankly you are just lucky I didn’t mutiny much earlier, upon discovering that this assistant handles about thirty brands, all of whom have their own particular way of doing business with us.

Yes, I realise that the ladieswear buyers and planners as a whole are hideously stressed, so much so that even had they the inclination they don’t have time to figure out what is is we assistants do, let alone pick up the slack. That’s a tough break and I’m not minimizing it, but, again:

TRYING TO GET READY TO START A NEW JOB OVER HERE. STOP PILING ON THE PROJECTS NOW, PLEASE.

I’m only mostly dead!

Ah, sweet, sweet writing habit… how I’ve missed you. *pets cozy little purring thing that’s either my ego or the kitten, since I’m too lazy to actually get up and turn on the lights*

The readership, however, has not missed much. Unless they want my newly-discovered fabulous recipe for beef Stroganoff, and that probably needs to wait until I tinker with the seasoning salt a bit. Also, switch to low-salt not-maple cured bacon. (Those noticing a pattern, give yourself a cookie. Seriously, ‘savory’ has limits.)

Basically, my life over the last few weeks would’ve been a non-stop parade of whine whine work moan whinge whine "ooh! cupcakes!" whinge moan. How I long for the day when my off-the-cuff whingeing sells a million copies, but until then, the tale of how I accidentally spilled juice all over the cats the other morning can stand the extra polishing time.

Granted, somewhere in there the despised home front did abruptly bust out into emerald swathes of lawn and apple-blossom everywhere and goslings in the park. Which frankly is not at all fair. (It was almost a relief to come home from the meeting the other night and see three police cars parked out front, while a second swarm blocked a nearby street. No, I never did find out what it was all about.)

It did however help me cope with the work situation — the goslings etc, that is, not the speculation on incipient grow-ops — inasmuch as it provided an outward focus and reminder of greater meanings. I don’t care if you’re technically still employed at the time, job-hunting sucks. You know all that Sesame Street-esque bilge about how it doesn’t matter, you’re special just the way you are? Hah. Welcome to Purely Random Judgment Land, boys and girls."Do you love me now? How about now? Do I look competent and trustworthy now? Oh… you didn’t want competent, you wanted proactive?"

If I ever get into the position of interviewer, top of my question list is "How many interviews is this, now? Four? OK, that’s an automatic +12 coherence forgiveness, right there."

My main issue, it appeared, was that I wasn’t giving off enough of an upwardly-mobile vibe. The buyers were envisioning Future Executive, and I was projecting more Hey, the Cats Aren’t Hungry Enough to Wake Me at 3AM, I’m Good. Honestly, I have never quite grasped this whole ‘passion for retail’ deally-bob. A more astute buddy of mine — ie, we started in the same position, and he’s now the Category Manager for frozen foods — pointed out that it’s about how the company can be sure it’s getting value for salary, which makes sense; I guess I just figured value as more of a ‘the work’s getting done’ thing, without having to pretend I looooove the notion of giving up my weekends to study sock sales trends, into the bargain.

Fear not, though, such of the readership as remains; eventually, there opened a spot that the buyer needed to fill fast. No time to ponder the intangibles, just bundle up my awkwardly-shaped-but-solid self and jam it into their equally hexi-deci-rectangular-tripod opening. And the good news is, I think it’s actually gonna be a decent fit. It makes excellent sense in terms both of who I am and where I’ve been. Plus, it’s in Soft Home accessories — think rugs, pillows, candles and the like — so I totally have a lifeline in the form of Shoemom, Shoesis and their Style @ Home subscription. ("Pssst… what do we think of puce?" "Oh, yeah, very hot colour this year. But make sure it’s more toward plum, too much brown is deadly with that camo green.")

So Phase One of the Master Life Plan is in motion. Now, I just need to figure out what to do with myself while waiting for Phase Two to come within unfolding range. Webcomics and hanging out at TVTropes are fun diversions, not bugging the audiobook people every ten minutes to see if the liner notes are finished a noble quest, but I feel the need for something a bit more… epic. One of those quirky yet life-affirming projects that will snag me a Purpose and possibly also that book deal.

…I wonder what the market’s like for blogs about the search for a quirky yet-life affirming thing to blog about?

I may not be current, but I know awesome when I read it.

Popping in to announce another milestone in my ongoing quest to understand what everybody on the Net is talking about: Order of the Stick is the sweetest, funniest, most adorable comic about unholy death and destruction, like, ever in the entire history of stuff.

As you were. I have archives to catch up on.

Thanks, that was fun…

…It’s not that I don’t like living here… well, OK, it’s that I don’t like living here.

I do like living in this apartment, though. It has a sunroom, which is divided from my bedroom by sliding glass doors, and I will probably never get over thinking that ever so sophisticated. Also, it is on the fourteenth floor, meaning out of any random window I can look out on a gracious expanse of park and pond.

Keyword there being expanse. This is a suburb. In suburbs people have cars, or more frequently family-friendly minvans. They shuttle ’round in them from work, to picking up the kids, to get groceries and maybe a flick at Blockbuster, then home to feed the kids supper and the movie.

I don’t have a car. I don’t even have a license. I get where I’m going mostly on foot. And I am trapped in an area where people look at you really, really funny when you tell them you walked anywhere. Which I can understand, because — parks aside — this area has no walks. The only reason to go anywhere around here is to get there. In your car. Because ‘there’ is, in all probability, a Dollarama.

At the time, I figured the parks would make up for it. Which they do — sort of — right up until you stop on the picturesque little bridge over the creek and notice that dirty limericks have been scrawled all over the runoff tunnel nearby. To live here is to be in total agreement with Linus van Pelt: I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.

Check that — I like my congregation OK. They are kind, sane, sensible people who do not collapse theatrically into my arms after two whole days’ separation. I really needed a break from that, same as I needed one from the commute. It’s been nice, being left alone to organise life on my own terms… if a little unfulfilling. To paraphrase those other great philosophers, the Barenaked Ladies: Pack the car and leave this town/who’d notice that I’m not around?

Thusly I have taken an executive Life Decision: Pack the car — Shoemom’s car — whatever, I don’t want to live here anymore.

Then, having looked around and discovered the universe was still intact, I took a couple more:

–I don’t want to have my job anymore. Something my boss has finally taken care of quite handily by hiring it out from under me, then reassigning me as a departmental ‘floater’ until something more permanent comes up. It’s kind of bemusing how I am reacting to this; one side of me is all  "Way to go, you’ve escaped the rat race, now life can have real meaning!" and the other is going "Oh, dear, oh dear, I’ve given up the challenge, how can life have meaning now?" I figure, worst-to-worst, studying this phenomenon should keep me in grant money for a good while.

–I don’t want to live on the moon… er, seriously, as long as I’m working in the area I need to figure out a reasonable commute. At the same time, though, I find I’m willing to handle some travel, in exchange for a real haven on the back end of it.

And, check it out, Shoemom and -sis have just moved to Burlington! Close to where I wanted to be in the first place, precisely for its haven-esque yet practical carpool-related qualities!

Still suburb-ish, but Shoemom has a car, also a place in the same two-building complex on the lakeshore that she used to manage back in the early ’90’s. A lot of our friends are still in that same congregation. A place I like, have always liked, in that under-the-skin way that a dozen practicalities cannot replicate.

So. I move in across the way when my lease is up in the New Year, Shoemom’s happy, I’m happy… Shoesis, possibly not so happy, but not in much position to do anything about it. We’re planning on not telling her until it’s necessary. For instance, as it happens on closer inspection, there are quite a few admin jobs on offer in that neck of the woods…

This is where the plan stands as of even date. It feels good. It feels honest, adult, thought-through. Like something worth working towards.

Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with the rest of this year. There’s only so many voyages of retail discovery a sane body can take.

Here’s a truck stop instead of Saint Peter’s…

So I went to Niagara Falls this weekend, and came home with a fairly wicked sunburn.

This — for those of the readership not au fait with So. Ontario springs — is, to put it mildly, odd. The wind- and rainstorm that’s now blowing up in the sun’s wake is more typical… assuming this were mid-July, that is.

That said, I had a pretty good time at the Falls. Not that I’m unfamiliar with the wet’n’wild marvels themselves; Shoemom is native to the area, meaning they were routine scenery on weekly Sunday family drives, and later a mandatory timekiller for the grandkids’ visits. 

The thing is, the surrounding area has… developed… a bit, since Shoemom was a little sneaker. She recalls Clifton Hill as a sedate collection of swank little shops, her mother’s trips to which required actual dressing up. Every commercial advancement past that has been met with curled lip, if not outright contempt. That most of these encounters happen in tourist-snarled traffic does not help any.

I myself, on the other hand, am a bit more ambivalent. In my lifetime the Hill has always been tacky, the concentrated essence of all those roadside attractions than used to flourish along American highways. ‘Come See the Amazing _____!’ the signs would blare, and even the most savvy kid would be at least uncertain, because if they did have what they claimed, it really would be incredibly amazing, and who’s to say that just this once…

This is the principle that Clifton Hill embraces with all the gaudy shamelessness of a particularly desperate Victorian tart. And I’m here to announce that it works… not as well as when I was little, but still, I couldn’t see the harm so much. Thus pleasure drives along the Niagara Parkway tended to be a trifle tense.

Never a dull moment, under the cut…

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