Because you (sort of) asked for it: The Sixteen Random Factoids Meme

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough icons to support the current hot LJ meme, which is kind of a shame, because a) it’s really cute and fun and b) I have an entire folder of stolen… er… anyway, I have a lot of really nifty icons squirreled away (including a couple that actually involve squirrels) and by the time I get around to upgrading my account the meme will have drifted off.

Thus I gacked this alternate meme from LJ-friend [info]kalquessa. It’s not current or hot, but I figure it might be good practice for this whole ‘personalised’ thing, of which I’ve been told this journal specifically needs more. I’ve been concentrating so hard on removing the rambling I really haven’t had time to relate the stories of meaningfulness; then again, it was hard enough coming up with sixteen short notes of interest. So it works out all the way around, really:

1. The reason Shoedad doesn’t show up much (if at all) in these pages is because a) he died just about two years ago, and b) he had voluntarily absented himself from his family – wife, three daughters, three grandchildren, elderly parents – for about a decade before that. I mourn him now not so much as a beloved father but for the potential for same that was lost. *considers* Yeah, someday I may need to write an entire post about this.

2. There is dust all over my keyboard. I hate that. Actually, I hate dust in any form, because it is simoultaneously so revealing of what a sloppy housekeeper I am, and so easy to ignore. “It’s just dust,” I say to myself. “Am I really going to let a few airborne particles get in the way of genius? Or, for that matter, the new Nero Wolfe DVD?” And the next thing you know, I am the poster child for Save Us From This House. Frustrating.

3. I am the only person I know to have been kicked out of two Canadian Idol fandoms running (for Tyler Hamilton and Kalan Porter, if anybody cares). Basically, for hanging around long after it became clear I didn’t fit in, and being unbearably superior about it. Still…the Dr. Phil argument was cruel and unusual provocation. And I don’t think the vicious PMs were at all necessary, either. More

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Try to scream/it only comes out as a yawn

[sigh] Were the back-from-vacation blues supposed to kick in this early? I was having a ton of fun yesterday, unpacking and looking at downloaded pictures and cataloguing smuggled American chocolates (oh, Dove, why must you stint the Canadian market so?)..then I woke up today, and looked out at the grim winter gloom, and suddenly…

I suppose it’s understandable in one sense: namely, the ‘tomorrow I have to get up and face the cold dark Monday commute all over again’ sense. I love summer, and I love how summer makes me feel – ‘happy and aimless and idle and pagan’, as per Annie Sullivan. I don’t like the feeling of being confined by the weather again.

But that’s not what seems to be uppermost. What’s really bugging is a sense of having done something different, unusual, out of the daily grind, for a short two weeks…and now here we are again. I am just not feeling very interesting, today. Not so much in terms of my writing (although I will confess to having hyped myself up a little in re: coming home to find an email from PopMatters, since the editor mentioned considering submissions over the holiday break). Just…you know that Barenaked Ladies song, Pinch Me? “On an evening such as this/It’s hard to tell if I exist”? Like that.

Yes, I know this is basically a self-pity fit. Also, that I’ve brought a lot of it on myself. I look back at my entries for 2008 and see a whole lot of wishing and hoping and excuses, but not so much with the going out and grabbing the brass ring by the tail, or whatever it is I’m supposed to do. There is procrastination, and then there is yours truly, brushing out the mane of the My Little Pony toy she got with a Happy Meal in West Virginia.

So this seems like as good a time as any to think about New Year’s resolutions. I hereby resolve, this year, to stop yapping and start doing. To quit thinking of an hour spent reading people rambling on about how much they hate comic strips as time spent productively on the computer. Over the course of this year spent searching so haphazardly for a writing focus, I ran across one simple piece of advice that really resonated, from Toni Morrison: “Write the story only you could write.” It shall be my mission, in 2009, to find that story and commit it to, er, MS Word.

Meanwhile, to all the friends and other readers who’ve stuck by me and my pretensions thus far, you are either completely crazy or…well, yeah, you’re completely crazy, and I love you for it. Here’s hoping we all land at the bottom of the new year with our crazy intact.

In which Shoe gets personal, and we see where that leads…

I have very good friends.

This became evident during this past four-day stay-cation weekend. I had some paid days to burn off and decided to spend them questing a little further in search of feedback. It having occurred to me during that last fit of whining about it that I hadn’t ever actually just, y’know, asked people for some.

My first foray involved an LJ review site. After checking out some of their previous reviews, I applied with the pleasant assurance that they’d find me a step above the herd, at the least. No emo poetry on this journal!

Ah, yeah. I’m still pretty proud of the ‘no emo poetry’ thing, no question, but – well, if you’re reading this, chances are you know where we go from here. The general gist involved too much rambling, also a ‘lack of interesting or engaging content’, specifically the personal touch. I needed to take chances, to ‘spill my guts’…or at least, something like the ‘story of how you once almost got a tattoo on your right breast’.

(The best thing about the whole experience was actually Shoemom’s failure to pick up the hypothetical there, when I asked her to read the review. “You did WHAT? On WHERE?”)

Didn’t help much in dealing with the criticism, though. The ensuing crisis of confidence, here @ Shoe Central, is when I developed a new theory of true friendship: it’s what causes the people you run panicking to over bad reviews, instead of merely patting your hand and going “Mean ol’critic!’, to instead take the time to gently-but-firmly point out that yes, you have flaws, but no, it’s by no means the end of the world, let alone your writing career. Although you’re right, nobody else cares about the damn comedy team already.

Look, the reason I don’t get deep into the personal around here is pretty simple: The Shoe story is just really, really boring, with a side order of unpleasant. There is verbal abuse and depression and struggles with weight and nerdiness, and occasional existential crises, and that one nagging incident where memory tells me I saw an episode of a favourite TV series, I discovered later, about a year before it was actually frelling made. (No, it doesn’t hurt much, but it does make the Matrix flicks rather uncomfortable viewing.)

Outside the immediate region of my navel, there’s also the part where the one Shoesis is a gorgeous slender blonde chick with so little self-esteem Shoemom and I have had to rescue her from no less than five total losers over the past few years… Eventually we’ll have to get into the story of the one paternal uncle who’s contrived to drive three wives to nervous breakdowns while accumulating five kids, and trust me, neither of us wants that.

Put bluntly, I am inclined both by nature and nurture to suck it up, princess. Even listing the above broad outlines gives me an uncomfortable sense of over-reaching both peoples’ interest and sympathy. Thus – not un-naturally I’d thought – I’ve been treating my online life as a distraction from all that, trying to find topics much more interesting and engaging while treating of my personal life in a gentle, inconsequential fashion to avoid it intruding. I do believe this qualifies for both the orthodox and Alanis definitions of irony.

The other problem draws on from that one – I’ve been treating this blog as a writing project. Which is fine as far as it goes, but does leave me alarmingly dependent on the goodwill of audiences; as was gently-but-constructively brought home to me this weekend, you can’t just leave your rough drafts lying around without people coming to the conclusion that they might as well wait until things get sorted out.

Especially when you’re in as dire need of a firm-handed editor as I am. I do ramble hopelessly, I know that; albeit you’d be amazed at what I manage to take out. It doesn’t help that my first taste of online writing success came in an environment (ie, TWoP-style Idol recaps) in which I was not only praised but encouraged to be clever at length on multiple obscure topics. I came away from it with perhaps rather an inflated sense of myself as too precious for words.

So…I have some things to work on, and more to think about. I have to find a more suitable place for my essay-style pop-culture pieces, is what I think first of all. I do have some decent ideas in that direction. In the meanwhile…well, the people that have stuck around in some cases since the beginning, thanks. I now have a much clearer idea of how not to try your patience, as much. Although the comedy team may still be making occasional appearances…look, I don’t get on your case about Dr Who, you leave me to Bob & Ray. And somehow we’ll figure it all out.

Coming around again…

[returns from checking Statcounter re: latest entry, looking slightly dazed]

So I guess I really am pretty much alone in this Bob & Ray obsession, huh? People insist on having exciting and interesting lives instead of hanging off my every post, eh?

Well, OK then. I will deal with this in a manner not unreminiscent of the greats of literature; all will become grist for my creative mill…Hey, it’s either this or the youngest Shoesis’ ongoing love life, a serial in umpty-squillion parts, tickets on sale now at a vaudeville stage near you. The rest of the family keeps urging me to write it up, claiming that it’s my ticket to becoming the next Danielle Steel; unfortunately, I’m not yet convinced that even Steel fans would buy into it.

I could also put together a nice little comic setpiece about how Shoemom and I gave up cable this past spring because we were effectively only paying for a few channels…only for the growing realisation to dawn that those channels had a deep-rooted, integral part in our lives. For instance, it’s pretty tough to be home sick and not have TreehouseTV for company. (Seriously…I’m not alone in this, right? When you’re feeling exhausted and miserable, the soft cheery hum of preschool cartoonage is perfectly pitched to distract and amuse. Right? C’mon, guys? Bueller?)

There was also the thing where Shoemom got all misty-eyed reminiscing about ‘sitting down to a cup of coffee and the Weather Network in the morning’ but, anyway, long story short. We’ve decided to allow ourselves to be lured back by deep discounts, also the sheer ridiculous good nature of the twentysomethings who man the services desk at our local Rogers Communications.
These are the same people who charmed us into switching Net providers in their favour not long ago, and they remain just as smart and – the clincher – realistic about their products. This is such a sure ticket to my heart, the demonstration of concern for my needs as opposed to their bottom line, that I am really, really glad more customer service types haven’t twigged to the concept. Shoe Central doesn’t have that much space available.

…So the point of all this – no, really, go back and check – actually has its roots in the last post but one, in which I mentioned one of my favourite books...come to think of it, I’d been pondering the concept some while before that, back when I was ranting about fandom as a symptom of overexposure. More

Interlude

So I’m walking briskly through the usual office corridors on my way to drop off samples – I always walk briskly, because I am hopeful that if I move fast enough my body language will communicate ‘successful career woman’ instead of ‘woman who forgot to make the hair appointment this week’.

Anyhoo, so the walk is brisk and relatively automatic…hello sample rooms, hi random lunch remnants glued to the kitchen microwave, howdy lingerie buyer’s office with the nursing-bra-shaped flyer on the door…until I get to the receiving area, which is a hallway that connects the loading docks to the mailroom, and realise I can’t go any further as the way is being blocked by several paramedics (!) plus a bunch of concerned and excited-looking passers-by, none of whom I have ever seen in my life. And fresh off the set of Total Non-Sequitur Theatre, here is also an elderly guy in a Hawaiian shirt and straw boater.

Actually, as you may have guessed by now – took me about five seconds to stride briskly the hell out of there and find out – all of these people were on-set for some ruddy Canadian TV show or another, I’ve long since shirked the duty of keeping track of which is which. It’s the one that features Jimmy Buffett wannabes solving crimes next to random special-order appliances, is the best I can tell you. You might wanna keep an eye on the listings.

What gets me about this entire sequence of events enough to record it isn’t so much the novelty – those fellow Torontonians reading this are already laughing, shaking their heads and sharing their ‘stumbled on-set’ stories, possibly their collections. You cannot stride anywhere in Hollywood North without somebody’s recording the local colour for posterity. Which, I might add, does not exactly do wonders for preserving the Magic of Filmmaking. I understand that 99.99% of anything is grunt work, and TV is no exception; but there is still something deeply bemusing about watching people make elaborate efforts to document completely mundane walls, alleys, gas stations, that kind of thing.

There are far too many cables and trailers and featureless side streets and not enough Brad Pitt in the Canadian filmmaking mileu, is what I am delicately trying to hint here. Not that any self-respecting Torontonian would ever admit this. Next time we’re at a party, remind me to tell you about the time a bunch of apparently frightened squawking kids ricocheted off Shoemom and I – thus, I fondly envision, earning us immortality as Startled Adults Nos. 3 & 4 in That One Kid’s Show (Probably Based Off a Popular Scholastic Book Series) Where They Panic Outside the Museum a Lot.

Even under these circs, however, I reserve the right to be genuinely tickled over the cop show filming in our receiving area. I could not for the life of me figure out how it had been selected for the honour. I envision Canadian production execs standing around at cocktail parties, going “Damn, Harvey, if I could only get the right atmosphere for the big murder scene! I want something different, something…shiny. Yeah, reflective surfaces, that’s the way to go! The cold, cold Big City reflected in the paramedic’s eyes…”

And Harvey goes “Look, Don, I still got the number of that guy who lent us the blanket for the latest Native doc, lemme make some calls.”

In which I talk in mock-Shakespeare for awhile, just because I feel like it.

Act 1: (Enter the Author, wringing her hands against her lavender voile breast.)

Forsooth, I am sad, for I have lost my iPod Nano. My trusty little blue 2G that has been my companion for lo these many days of toil, lightening the burthen of feeding data into the most unkindest of machines. Without it, my mind is bleak as a desert sun, a plain arid and tempest-toss’d; in vain have I searched for an oasis. (Seriously. When you find yourself trying to remember the names of saltwater taffy flavours because you think ‘that’d make a really cool LJ entry!” you know your dependence on modern entertainment media is terminal.)

Act 2:

But soft! What wandering, wavering light is this that shines through my Franz Ferdinand-less gloom? ‘Tis Shoemom, waving the card provided by men of finance for just such curing of melancholy – foolish mortals are they, who allow men to satisfy their fondest longings on their account! Prithee, however, Shoemom has seen writ plain my torment, the exquisite pain of deprivation and want (also, the pain in her butt caused by my non-stop attempts to whine in Olde Englishe). I must hie me away to the shoppe where electronic delights flow into mine ears as the cinnamon syrup flows onto a Cinnabun!

Act 3:

…OK, getting bored now. Point of the exercise is that I’m now sitting here gazing fondly at a new silver Nano 3G. I didn’t think I’d be this impressed with the new models, ‘specially as I’ve got not much use for video capability. There’s gotta be something to be  said for taking a device already perfectly designed for pointless distraction and shamelessly ‘upgrading’ to add even more pointless distraction. Ooh…pretty album covers! Number of songs on the Playlists menu! Cute pink leather case…

I always feel vaguely dweeby when interacting with Apple tech – like I’m stuck in a perpetual Mr. Dressup episode (“OK, kiddies, see the playlist? Now we’re going to draw a picture of you changing the song…”)  – but am too chicken to saddle myself with anything more complex. Pointless distraction should not come with a manual of more than ten pages, this is my new motto.

Headphones, on the other hand, are a problem. My ears are small and very narrow, not good candidates at all for the signature iPhones. I had finally found the perfect pair of seriously cool JVC marshmallow-foam earbuds, now vanished into the ether along with the 2G itself – unless my theory of the disappearance is correct, and the cat is now sneaking off into one of those corners only cats know, the better to groove to Rockin’ Robin or something. (Geddit? Cats, robin…oh, fine then.)
Anyway, upon stuffing my ears with the new iPhones this evening, I noticed a definite unease in re: the sound quality. [Sigh] Onto the list the JVC buds go…along with the new backup hard drive, and the new fall slacks, and the new handbag, and that Mexx blouse I fell hopelessly in love with on the way home from work this afternoon, and…geez, I’m exhausting myself just imagining the whining required. Maybe I better go distract myself with that video capability after all. Or, wait, Cinnabuns…mmmmm….

Creative excuse-making 101: The internet ate my temp. Or something.

Cool random linkage of the week: From LJ-friend  briansiano comes this lovely clever little time-waster, riffing off famous fantasy first lines. (In the inevitable guess-the-source game, I made about 75%.)

Speaking of random postings…when I chortled at that PBS strip below, I had no idea it would prove prophetic. I probably should have, given I was about to deal with Bell Canada, but there you are – I’m ever the naiive trusting type when it comes to telecommunications giants who have my Net access in their hands. It’s my own personal kryptonite. “Oh, yes, please please please take wads of my money! You need a firstborn? Hey, fork over that list of approved adoption methods!”

The coherent version of this story begins when we recently tried to switch phone carriers while retaining our internet service with Bell. After all, we’d had no complaints…until now. I do not at all wish to denigrate the inhabitants of whatever fine Southeast Asian nation now handles their phone support, so let’s just say there is apparently no close translation for “Yes, we are switching phone carriers and would like you to set up a dedicated phone line for our DSL service”, let alone (a day or two after this was supposed to have happened) “No, we didn’t want to set up a new account, we wanted a new phone line for the old one!”

Anyway, after several phone-hours of runaround, we called the new carrier, all humble-like, and said “Um, can we please have an internet connexion?” and they said “Sure, take this setup CD and expect the guy at 11am tomorrow [Sunday].” And lo, without further fuss or pother, it was so. Thank you, Rogers Communications; you may be an equally uncaring, slipshod monopoly as a cable carrier, but as a Net provider, I have nothing but praise to heap at your feet. P.S. – Shoemom just lurves the new AOL-style customisable browser, too. After I spent an entire evening customising it for her, but still. The ‘Mountain’ template is “so relaxing!”

My other major excuse for not posting as much as I should this month involves the office situation. No, not The Office situation, although I freely offer myself as a consultant next time they want to explore the depths of the complete and total chaos that results when a six-person admin pool is reduced through various comings, goings and crises to four, then three, then two, then…yesterday…one. Sorry, there is no short version of this one. If I had to suffer through it, you have to read it, capisce?

Couple of background bits needed to fully appreciate the following tale of workplace woe: a) we’re a busy women’s fashion buying office for a major department store, meaning we admins provide support for a gaggle of great buyers who nevertheless have no clear idea what our jobs involve, and b) ‘temps’, in this context, refers to whichever random summer student the agency decides to send. We’re really lucky if they have a basic knowledge of Excel, let alone the complex spreadsheets we work with. More

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