On, december 31/01/2014 02:13:24, Tracey Stewart < email@example.com>
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On, december 31/01/2014 02:13:24, Tracey Stewart < firstname.lastname@example.org>
~*~*~ Long and personal ramblings to follow… ~*~*~
2013 was a long, strange year. I lost my job in March, and you’d think that the ensuing months of freedom would have been a kind of wonderful sabbatical of reading, writing, drawing, crafting… Instead, deep insecurity; fear of what would happen when the unemployment benefits went away; depression over having lost a job which, while generally dead-end, still had its perks, and over what I still feel was a betrayal; and the knowledge that we were only managing on the pittance from Unemployment because of my cashed-in 401K (a finite amount of money) – all left me with what I’ve been calling “oatmeal for brains”. Read I did, but – as is pretty clear from my poor neglected blog here – I haven’t written much. On my book, the thing I’ve always wished for a few consecutive months to work on free and clear to finish, I’ve managed less than a hundred words. Oh, and I made one teddy bear. (I’m still working on those drawings!)
Part of it, the oatmeal-producing depression, was that in the nine remaining months of 2013 I sent out dozens – scores – of resumes. I started out just applying for jobs I, you know, actually wanted; there was one position with a charitable organization I wanted more than I could say. I did get a phone interview with that one, early on; it was supposed to last 15-20 minutes. It lasted five. I went back to sleeping and reading. Other than one other interview in which I was completely put off not only by the fact that the job was not quite full time but by an interruption from the boss who sounded like someone I didn’t want to have to deal with … oh, and two temp agencies which have been completely useless… there has been absolutely no response to any application.
I thought I was more saleable than that.
Not that I wanted to be “sold”. There’s a commercial where a young man makes a remark about working in a “cube farm”, and that phrase has always induced a little hysteria in me. Terror hysteria, not laughter hysteria. It encapsulates everything I most fear in a job. And I do mean “fear” literally; my biggest dread has been that I would end up in a job that sucked my soul away even more quickly than the last one.
But there’s a mortgage to pay, and a mother and a dog to feed.
When emergency unemployment benefits kicked in, I had to report to the local DOL office – basically, I guess, as a formality to prove I really was trying to find a job, and that I was employable. While I was there the agent recommended I sit down with someone to overhaul my resume, and forty-five minutes later I had a sheet filled with pencil-marked edits that both horrified me (my resume was that bad??) and gave me a little hope (this will be better…)
The oatmeal set in again, and I kept putting off revising the thing, just applying along with the version already saved.
Then one day I got a letter from the DOL which I should have been expecting if I’d been paying attention to the news, but I guess I hadn’t, so I was shocked: though I had understood that the emergency unemployment benefits I was receiving would extend to March, Congress (for which read *&$! Republicans) had seen to it that all emergency unemployment benefits terminated on December 28. I got this letter the Friday (and how does everyone always finagle it that such news arrives on a Friday, when you can’t do anything about it for two days?) before Christmas (at which point I had already spent all the money I was going to spend for presents, which I would NOT have spent if I had known it was going away so soon, thanks very much, oh and merry *&#@ Christmas to you too). That weekend I finally sat down and reworked my resume, and sent it out to 36 jobs.
By the next Wednesday I had three responses – more than I’d had in the previous nine months, if you don’t count the temp agencies (which I don’t). So – wow. If you need a job go have Christopher from the DOL take a look at your resume.
One of those resulted in an interview which I stupidly asked to postpone because it snowed a fair amount that morning and I – having barely left the house in nine months – was kind of afraid to drive, to be honest; with one thing and another I never got to reschedule. (Not for lack of trying.)
One of those was from a company whose website left me completely in the dark about what the company actually does. The job was listed as customer service, but I had a strong suspicion that that was being used as the code for “sales”, which I’ve often seen. I’m a terrible salesperson. (I take “no” for an answer, and I loathe people who don’t.) I had strong misgivings about the whole thing – especially when their confirmation email gave two different addresses (the heading listed “Grand Avenue”, but the body of the email read something like “Here is our address to enter into your GPS” and it said Grandview Avenue. Both are valid addresses. The website has another address altogether. I called to clarify; no answer. I ended up calling someplace in New York, and that wasn’t too reassuring either. And did I mention the typos on the website?
But, still, I went – and it was a little bizarre. There was one other car in the parking lot. The office I was to report to was on the second floor, and my impression was that there wasn’t a soul to be found on the the ground floor. I found the right door, and marched on it – to discover that I had walked into a room empty of everything except a desk, a couple of chairs, and in those chairs a very young man apparently interviewing another applicant. I was asked to wait in the “lobby”, which translated to “the corridor where we have placed a few chairs and a table and some reading matter which will give you even less of an idea about what we do than our website”. Okay. I was early, so I was willing to sit and wait.
I’ve never seen The Shining – but somehow that long, long corridor reminded me of it anyway. I had the same impression as I’d gotten from the rest of the building, that – apart from one room over to my left and the folks in room 213, who left a few minutes after I got there – there was no one else in the place. It was creepifying, and at the same time I had to resist an urge to go snooping around. I sat there, and looked at the pamphlet on that table, and read about very young people making obscene amounts of money through undisclosed methods, and told the sinking feeling in my stomach that yes, I know, it almost definitely was some kind of sales gig, but we were going to go through with the interview because we had no blessed choice, so shut up.
That room I mentioned, off to my left as I sat there? Almost the only sign of habitation in the place? That was the last straw. I don’t know what they were doing there, but it sounded like a Hooters on a Friday night with a game on. (Not that I’ve ever been in a Hooters at any point, never mind Friday night.) There was cheering and yelling and whooping and hollering, and – as time passed – shouted exclamations like “DAMN YEAH!” How … professional. The only explanation I could come up with was that someone was giving a presentation of some sort – a woman’s voice could now and then be heard under all the ruckus, and it seemed like the rest of the mob were cheering her – and maybe she’d had a really good sales week or something. I don’t know. I don’t really care – and if I had cared I wasn’t given any chance to find out. After I’d been sitting there for about fifteen minutes, and they got louder and louder, and I promised myself – and that sinking feeling – that if my interviewer didn’t return exactly on time I’d leave. I think it was when the profanities started coming from the door, about a minute before my interview was scheduled for, that I threw in the towel. I left.
So that left the third interview, which I was hopeful about because it was for a place about five minutes away. Unfortunately, it has seemed like jobs have been either/or: either nearby, or something I might enjoy, never both. Long story, finally, short: I had a second interview last week – in which I learned that the office is, wait for it: a “cube farm” (the phrase was actually used, and not by me), I was offered the job, and I start tomorrow.
It’s going to be extremely strange. I’ve been just about nocturnal at times over the past nine months; fortunately not right now, but I am very used to staying up as late as I darn well want. More importantly, I’m a little worried about the dog. She was not easy to housetrain (that is, bladder functions were fine, but it took her months to realize that bowel functions were to be outside too – sorry, TMI), and my solution has been to keep her with me 24/7. So going from 24/7 to about 15.5/5 is going to be … a challenge. She doesn’t listen to Mom; she’s apparently a one-person dog, and that’s me. I foresee extreme separation anxiety and backsliding, and I don’t know what to do about it. I’d like to come home for lunch every day, but I don’t know how feasible that will be, and in any case, she won’t know when I’m coming back. Most importantly, though, there’s my mother. She’s 86. Her mind is – mostly – fine, but she does forget things. Which mainly means that she declines to use the stove, so that she doesn’t forget and leave a burner on, which is a good thing … She does, however, tend to think she can do more than she can, and this leads to falls. I nag her constantly to make sure she has a one of the cordless phones on her where she can get at it no matter what … but … remember the forgetting thing? So, yeah, I’m not too thrilled about leaving for eight + hours a day.
But I, we, need the money.
Ah, hell. Maybe it won’t be so bad.
Who knows, maybe going back to work will mean I’ll actually write more. If not … sorry about the continued neglect of the blog.
Or [insert politically correct variation here]. And thank you to my followers! May 2014 kick 2013′s rump to the curb…
I know. There are a hundred other things I should be doing rather than writing here – and if I’m going to write here I have about sixty book reviews I ought to write. But I’m thoroughly disgusted.
I’ve expressed my opinion of the – God help us – “Hobbit” trilogy before. The giant jackrabbit, Thranduil’s moose, hot dwarves, etc. Legolas. Potty humor. (A review of the current middle movie made the latter literal: some female in (I think) Dale exclaims something like “why are there dwarves coming out of the toilets?” Which makes no sense, in any way I want to know about.) Even before I knew about most of the other problems, the simple fact that there were going to be three movies was ludicrous. I swore then I wouldn’t pay to see any of the three (three!) movies in the theatre; when I found out the rest I swore I would never pay a penny for any version or form of them, or anything to do with them.
I just read an article that makes me wish I could take it a step further. Like a lawsuit. Or a hired ninja assassin. I could spit nails. Jackson – and Boyens and company – have to either be drunk with power, or perhaps the more charitable viewpoint is the post’s title: they’ve lost their minds.
The article is here. I have to quote the beginning:
J.R.R. Tolkein never wrote about a butt-kicking lady elf in his epic 1937 fantasy novel. He sure as heck didn’t write about elves — and dwarves for that matter — in love.
But that didn’t stop Peter Jackson from making up brand new “Hobbit” character Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, out of whole cloth.
Though the misspelling of Tolkien takes a little of the shine off that bit of snark, I still approve completely. Then the piece goes on to talk about how, though Lilly made the producers promise not to put her into a love triangle … they did anyway.
One corner of the triangle: Legolas.
Who shouldn’t be in the movies any more than some fabricated she-elf, by the way.
The last corner of the triangle?
One of the dwarves.
One of the hot dwarves, of course – Kili.
I don’t even know which aspect of this nauseates me the most. There are so many.
And what’s saddest of all is that I wanted Martin Freeman to play Bilbo, for years. I’m pleased with some of the casting – though the batting average isn’t nearly as good as in LotR. I’d love to be able to do as plenty of folks plan to do one day: 18+ hour marathon of all six movies. (Probably more like 22 or so, after the extended editions come out.) This is supposed to be Tolkien. This is supposed to be for the fans, by a fan (or so he claims). I’m not so much a purist as I sound like; I’m perfectly fine with some of ways the material was manipulated in the original trilogy. (Some.) Fellowship of the Ring was almost perfect, for the most part. I could get behind the whole “we’re adding all the White Council stuff because it’s essential to telling the whole story (not to make money off three movies!)” … if it were done well. But because of what no one will ever convince me isn’t unbridled greed (or insanity), I will never, ever be able to watch these three movies. I’m not willing to do it to myself. I love The Hobbit – that which was written by J.R.R. Tolkien. I know I wouldn’t be able to enjoy anything good in them because I already know about so much that is awful, and actually watching it would have to be so much more terrible.
And all I’ve heard from people I trust about the first movie is that there’s a lot of filler, and it was surprisingly dull.
In fact, if anyone ever needs to torture me (you know, for all my valuable secrets), I hope it doesn’t occur to them to make me watch these things. “Now I’ll put on The Desolation of Smaug!” “No! NO! I’ll tell you anything you want to know!”
Oh well. Maybe someday before I die it’ll be remade into something I can watch.
The Sound of Music – only not quite. Carrie Underwood’s version is on right now, and I keep thinking of two things: The Movie, and … this, which I wrote a long time ago.
Originally posted on Mathom House:
We fly toward a sunny meadow high atop a mountain. Suddenly, the cameraman realizes he’s in the wrong place and there is an abrupt cut to the kitchen of Bag End, the Shire. Gandalf has pulled the Ring out of Frodo’s fire, and is explaining things.
The Sound of Sauron
(The Sound of Music)
The Dark Lord’s alive – and he wants his Ring back
The Ring which contains part of his own self
The Dark Lord’s sent slaves for to get his Ring back
He won’t be stopped by Man or by Elf…
He wants to beat back all those of good will
And hold sway over all;
He wants to take solid shape and cast the world
‘Neath the darkest pall;
To catch and enslave and bend to his will
As he did once before
To bring, bind, and rule with the Ring on his hand once more…
Please forgive a sort of a commercial interruption, but: I’ve been considering trying my hand at a new career/vocation/who knows what: pet portraits. It’s been a bit of a while since I’ve drawn much, but it’s coming back – but, because of its newness (re-newness) and because I’m just getting started, I thought I’d bug you, my friends with pets.
Here’s the deal. Christmas is coming, as you might have noticed… What I’m thinking is, if a couple of you might like an extra Christmas (holiday) (no offense intended) gift, I would love to give it a shot. Free. For the first couple of people I hear from, that is. The way I see it going, as a test run, would be: send me a bunch of pictures of your cat/dog/horse/rabbit (I have a feeling I’m best with fuzzy things, but then again I’ve never drawn any non-fuzzies, as far as I remember…), along with what you might like to see in a picture that doesn’t necessarily show up in the picture (for example, something that might involve incorporating bits of a couple of pictures), and what size you might like, and I’ll get to work.
I use pencil on colored paper: graphite and white charcoal. To get an idea of what I’m talking about, I have some older drawings on my blog.
As I said, the first couple of people I hear from (if any…:P) will get free portraits – - on the condition that it’s okay for me to use the final image to shill for er, to demonstrate my ability, on my blog and maybe, if I figure out what I’m doing, on Etsy.
I haven’t worked out what I’ll charge if and when I get to that point; first I want to make sure I can do it to the satisfaction of anyone besides, you know, my mom.
Whaddya think? I’ll be checking comments regularly, or feel free to email me: talavera1809 at hotmail dot com.
We now return you to your regular programming.
A lot of the joy of geekiness has been lacking lately; what with the vagaries of some of the folks I’m supposed to be geeked about (Matt Smith, Martin Freeman, and I won’t even mention PJ) it’s just all been missing on a couple of cylinders.
But tonight (last night, sort of) it (to mix metaphors) received CPR. The BBC America aired An Adventure in Space and Time, and it was wonderful. David Bradley was glorious. I am now in love with Verity Lambert and William Hartnell, as I ought to have been before, and as – hopefully – all of fandom is now. I want to go watch all of the first seasons of Doctor Who, as – hopefully – all of fandom does now.
Oh, as they say, the feels.
Anyway. One of my very favorite things Doctor Who has ever ever done was “Time Crash”, the mini episode that joyously brought the Tenth Doctor face to face with the Fifth Doctor. My Doctors. As I say on the page I’m about to direct you to, I couldn’t find a transcript, so I made one. (And you’re welcome very much, I was still using dial-up and it took me hours. Labor of love, that.)
And here it is. My anniversary gift.
Now… stay up all night and watch the marathon and then “The Day of the Doctor”, or go to bed now and get up and watch? Or not watch at all and hold off until Monday, when I’m going off to the movie theatre to see it on the big screen. (I will be wearing my hand-knitted-a-very-long-time-ago 15′ scarf.) (See? Geek.) (If you’re also a geek you should know that the Doctor’s scarf was 17′ long. I scaled it down. I’m short.)
All together now – Ooo ee OOOO …
- See new pics of David Bradley as Doctor Who’s William Hartnell in Adventure in Space and Time pictures (mirror.co.uk)
- It’s Almost The Day of the Doctor (metaverse.wordpress.com)
- Whovians: Prepare To Take a Trip Back with An Adventure In Space And Time (popwrapped.wordpress.com)
- Review: ‘Adventure in Space and Time’ a fun take on ‘Doctor Who’ start (latimes.com)
- Doctor Who star Matt Smith ‘meets original Doctor William Hartnell’ in 50th anniversary film An Adventure in Space and Time (mirror.co.uk)
- Our Doctor Countdown 4 : William Hartnell (believeingeek.wordpress.com)
- ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’ is One of the Best TV Experiences of 2013 (screenrant.com)
- Second Review: An Adventure in Space and Time (doctorwhoarchive.com)
- ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’: Try not to cry at the origin story of ‘Doctor Who’ (popwatch.ew.com)
Let me get this out of the way: I hated Wesley Crusher. Deep and burning passion of loathing? I had it. Here was this kid, younger than I was, taking screen time away from the magnificent Captain Picard. Saving the ship. Putting the ship in danger and then saving it. Piloting the ship. There was apparently a group who were rooting for seeing him go out an airlock, and I would have joined it – and, yes, it was in some part jealousy, because I was a young and rabid Trekkie and here was this kid, younger than I was… But it was also some poor writing, of the sort that inevitably created antipathy for this kid. It had little if anything to do with Wil Wheaton’s really quite adept portrayal, but there was no wonder that I was far from alone in hating Wesley Crusher.
Unfortunately, others in that group were more vocal than I ever was, and Wil Wheaton knew all about how much how many people loathed Wesley Crusher. And, even more unfortunately and nonsensically, him. That’ll have an effect on anyone – and especially an intelligent, sensitive, earnest teenaged boy who sees his future as that-guy-who-used-to-be-on-that-show writ large in a kind of pathetic Star Trek font. It – and other factors – made him walk away from Hollywood for a few years, and from Trek for a decade.
What this book is all about, and why it kept me up till oh crap, is that the time?! and why my respect for Wil Wheaton is greater than I ever could have anticipated, is his (insert less clichéd word than “journey” here) from the bitterness and hurt and anger stemming from Being Wesley Crusher and trying (and painfully failing) to resuscitate his acting career … to a mature and rather joyful reconciliation with his past, and new and optimistic plan for the future.
The subtitle promises that the book is unflinchingly honest – and it feels like it is. Wil made an ass of himself on several occasions, and he owns to it – and owns it. He is scathing about those who have hurt him (sometimes, diplomatically, without naming names, but really how hard is it to look up the fact that Stuart Baird was the “dick” who directed Star Trek: Nemesis?), and unstinting with his affection for his family and his Trek “family” (though I can’t help feeling the latter don’t deserve it. At all). He’s snarky, and funny, and not afraid to admit that even some of the trolls who anonymously email wilwheaton.net might not be wrong. And when they are wrong, his phaser is set to k- … no, I can’t.
The book was originally published in, I believe, 2004 (before his deeply creepy appearance on Criminal Minds), so it’s especially nice to read it knowing that Wil Wheaton is not only a staple of “Big Bang Theory” but also the perpetual president of OASIS, and deservedly so. “Just a Geek”? Nah, honey. You’re King of the Geeks. And it’s great.
Edited to add: Here’s the kind of adorkable scene from Nemesis.
- Wil Wheaton makes me Happy! (heartfullofhappy.wordpress.com)
- You Do Not Have the Biggest Crush on Wesley Crusher (themarysue.com)
- Sir Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton, and Madeleine Albright Had a Conversation on Twitter, And It Was Glorious (themarysue.com)
- In which a trading card is autographed, ruined, saved, and charity auction’d (wilwheaton.net)
- You can tell that this is Wil Wheaton Prime and not Evil Wil Wheaton, because I’m not trying to sit in his spot. (wilwheaton.net)
The Father Brown Mysteries just ended, “The Wrong Shape” – can I just say how unspeakably perfect and wonderful this series is? Father Brown is a magnificent character, and I adore Mark Williams (I mean, I already did, and now it’s trebled).
And tonight’s episode closed with something I discovered over a year ago, which hit deep, and bit deep. So here it is, in its entirety.
Death is Nothing at All
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.
All is well.
This was a funny book to read so soon after City of Bones. In that book, the magic-using folk (wizarding world folk) were called Nephilim, which I strongly objected to; it was one of many misuses or weird twistings of mythology. In Angelfall the word is used more correctly, and to effect.
It got a lot of things right. It made me forget that it was set in the first-person present tense, which I’m still not fond of. And I have to say I’m impressed by the storytelling – the reveal of what happened with the angels’ arrival was nearly – nearly – flawless. There was an excellent balance of explanation and subterfuge, doling out a morsel of knowledge here and a crumb there. The drawback about the way the background was told was, simply, that it took it too far in the opposite direction of infodump. Reading Angelfall was possibly the only time I have ever wished for just one big old infodump. There was a great deal divulged, but slowly, very gradually – and, in the end, not enough. I would like to know more about what exactly happened the day the world all but ended. I’d like to know more about events right after; how did Penryn and Paige and their mother survive and stay together, did they have to leave their home immediately, how have they been feeding themselves, and more. A flashback, a direct question-and-answer exchange between characters, something, anything would have helped.
One big reason more information would have been great was one of the things that made the book strong: Penryn is seventeen, her little sister Paige is wheelchair-bound, and their mother is a paranoid schizophrenic. This isn’t the usual post-apocalyptic survival story. It’s almost too much – odds are so steeply against this little family that I almost expected to read something (in Paige’s voice) like “Oh, and did I mention I’m blind and have a paralyzing fear of the dark?” They’re all alone – they’ve always been pretty much alone, due to the family’s circumstances – and so of course Paige is tough and holds it all together. It works, without her turning into the dreaded Mary Sue.
And one major payoff of the family’s circumstances is one of the strongest moments I’ve read in any YA novel lately. Paige’s paralysis, and the little clique she collected around herself after it, and Penryn’s respect and affection for her little sister, all funnels into one moment where Paige has to see past someone’s extreme appearance, has to climb over her own fear and do and say things to save herself, save her companion, and hopefully save her sister. It’s a passage that’s going to linger with me.
One other place information would have been great is on the subject of the angels. My understanding of how events took place is that one day they just … landed. There were meteors and fires and all sorts of hell broke loose – possibly literally – and death and destruction were rampant for a while – but surely somewhere in the beginning some enterprising up-and-coming-Christiane Amanpour would have done a news story about what we know about angels. But I suppose this is a combined drawback and advantage to placing your point of view behind the eyes of a seventeen-year-old girl; she’s not going to know the names of the archangels and their attributes. (I did when I was seventeen, but I wasn’t normal, and I read Katherine Kurtz.) She’s not going to know who Raffe is the minute he introduces himself. She’s not going to understand why that one angel is looked upon with such terror. The latter was interesting; the former was a little irritating.
My rating for this book, overall, wavers around 3.5 stars. It was pretty well told; the voice was very readable, and I liked the characters; the setting was pretty distinctive among post-apocalyptics, and avoided a lot of the well-worn familiar roads. But it galumphed along so quickly that it leapt right over places where just a bit more exposition could have happened to give a poor reader a break.
And, in the end, I couldn’t rate a book about angels higher than four stars. I’ve avoided such – actually, now that I think about it, I believe this is the only one I’ve read. My suspicion has always been that this sub-subgenre is going to take angels to one extreme or the other: glowy Disney-esque fluffy-winged folk, or massively sexy quick-while-God’s-not-looking love machines. There was a dearth of angel lore in my upbringing, but I do know a few names, and one thing I do know is that in most lore they’re not ripped men with wings (or sultry chicks with wings): they’re genderless. Sorry, sports fans. I can swallow there being a bit of chaos among them; canonical angels (by which I mean, you know, Canon) obviously have personalities and opinions, if Lucifer is anything to go by. But I just can’t get behind angel soap opera.
- Angelfall by Susan Ee (mdollaga.wordpress.com)
- Review – Angelfall (italicbooks.wordpress.com)
- Waiting on World After (Penryn & the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee (kimberlyfayereads.wordpress.com)
- Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee (intothebookshelfreviews.wordpress.com)
- COVER REVEAL: World After (Penryn & the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee (escapeinsidethepages.wordpress.com)