Paste it in the head!

Spinster

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Two new additions to He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not:

Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants (too cute to pass up)
Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin (cause sometimes you gotta get your raunch on)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dear Boy,

GET OUT OF MY HEAD. I don't care how cute you are, how funny and smart and interesting you are, how good that shirt that you left at my house (on purpose cause I was wearing it) smells, I need you to step out of my head. Just for a couple of days. Until I figure out if you were a figment of my stupidly hopeful imagination or if you are in some way real. If you were a figment of my stupidly hopeful imagination, I might burn your shirt. Sorry about that, but I'm just sayin'. You can't get a girl's hopes up by leaving your deliciously-smelling-of-clean-boy-and-cologne t-shirt at her house and expect said shirt to remain intact (if you turn out to be a figment of my stupidly hopeful imagination). If you are in some way real, you are welcome back in my head, as long as you realize that it's MY head. Mine. Not yours. As in, you're more than welcome to be cute and funny and sweet in my head, but you are not allowed to take over my entire brain and make me think about you a bazillion times a day.

Thank you,
Tasha

1 Thing I Hate

Harvard Business Review. Boring boring boring. As if I care AT ALL about shareholder value, managing "complementors" (whatever the hell those are).

1 Thing I Love

At work, there is an In/Out board with removable letters on it that spell out each of our names. There are 5 extra letters at the bottom of the board, and they spell out NARCC. I find that to be highly amusing, and I laugh to myself each time I see it.

Confidential to You Know Who You Are: Until I can say that everyone in my house got laid last night, I find it to be cruel and unusual that you tell me about your house's conquests.

Also confidential to You Know Who You Are: Don't stop telling me about them even thought I'm a little bit bitter.

He loves me, he loves me not--the art of the playlist

I have been a huge believer in the art of the mix tape mix CD playlist since forever. Since about seventh grade, to be exact, when I stopped listening to Power 96 (booty bass) and the Beach Boys -- an odd combination, to be sure, but I was an odd kid -- and started listening to Zeta "The Best New Rock" 94.9 and Big 106 classic rock. I consider my switch from the popular music at Southwood Middle School and from my mother's music to be my first baby steps toward my own tastes and opinions.

I remember listening to those radio stations almost constantly, ready with my double-cassette-and-CD-player stereo -- always loaded with at least one blank tape -- to capture my new musical sensibilities. My favorite mix tape in seventh grade wasn't a High Fidelity-style mix tape in the sense that it was carefully planned out, but it contained my new favorite songs -- "Stay" by U2, "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N Roses, "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd, "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard" by Simon & Garfunkel (ok that one was my mother's influence). Hmmm. Looking at those song titles now, it occurs to me that that was a strange mix, held together only by the tenuous bond of being well-loved (by me. Not necessarily by anyone else).

Anyway, this post does have some relevance to my present life; I'm not meandering down memory lane just for the hell of it. I've alluded to there being a new boy in my life, and I'm at the stage where, when he and I are together, I definitely feel confident that he's as into me as I am into him, but as soon as he leaves I start to freak out. Add to that my ability to question the hell out of everything, and the fact that he didn't call me last night (even though there are certainly no rules saying that we have to talk on the phone all the time) and what you have is a great big ball of neurotic.

I have emailed my friends, freaking out a little bit, but because I don't want to burn any bridges and therefore have no one to freak out to later on drive them nuts, I decided to self-medicate.

No, not by drinking or picking up a coke habit, but by gathering together all of my hopeful and all of my no-way-in-hell songs into a playlist that I like to call He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not. In a way, I mourn the passing of the mix tape and the slow decline of the mix CD, but all I've got is my iPod and iTunes, so there you go. The playlist is a work in progress cause even though I came up with the brilliant idea yesterday at work, I found a million other things to distract me before I finally started working on it at 10 last night, including but not limited to a nap a walk dinner Weeds Scrubs downloading knitting reading visiting a bereaved friend talking on the phone and emailing damn I have no focus whatsoever, and this is what I've got so far:

You Will, You Will by Bright Eyes
Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen
With Arms Outstretched by Rilo Kiley
Be Still My Heart by Death Cab for Cutie
Fair by Remy Zero
Love Buzz by Nirvana
Rest of my Life by Rilo Kiley
Muddy Hymnal by Iron & Wine
Take a Look at me Now by The Postal Service
Don't Speak by No Doubt
Love Fool by The Cardigans

What I'm trying for here, what I hope to eventually achieve, is a musical representation of the stages of a new romance--the fear, the excitement, the uncertainty, the disbelief, the possibility that it will end in disaster, the hope that it won't, all of it. I'm not what I like to call a puppy dogs fluffy clouds and rainbows kind of girl, so you're not going to see any "I Will Always Love You" or similar on my iPod -- and while we're on the subject: Aundra, I had to get rid of Danity Kane, Rihanna, and the Pussycat Dolls cause the fear of them coming up on "shuffle" was too much for me to bear, but I did keep Paris and Ms. Furtado -- so about the most romantic/optimistic I'm gonna get is "Be Still My Heart." Which, for me, is pretty damn romantic.

I know that this playlist is far from complete, and most of what is on it was already on my iPod, so I'll take any and all suggestions for what else to include. These are the only rules:
*No puppy dogs, fluffy clouds, or rainbows
*Can be either He Loves Me or He Loves Me Not, but cannot be These Boots are Made for Walkin' (best break-up/brokehearted playlist, coming soon)
*No more than two songs by the same artist. This isn't so much for other people, but to keep me from filling it with Death Cab/The Postal Service.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Observations of a Sunday evening

1. Weeds is my new favorite show. I love, love, LOVE it. Mary-Louise Parker is a fucking genius as the main character, the plot twists are phenomenal, and it's just hilarious.

2. There need to be more three-day weekends. I went to bed at 10:30 on Friday night and woke up at 9:30 yesterday all psyched to start my day. Fine; Friday nights are generally pretty mellow around here cause I'm so tired from work. Last night, though, I didn't go to bed until 4 am. I woke up at 1:30 this afternoon, did some laundry, then went back to bed from 4-7. Last night was a proper weekend night, but I still need a full day to recover from it. The only problem? I'll be rolling into work at 8:30 am tomorrow morning, which doesn't leave me much recovery time.

3. Making jewelry is fun. I bought beading supplies yesterday and made another necklace. I wore it out last night and actually planned my outfit around it. Fabulous!

4. Boys are trouble. Particularly boys who I really, really like, and who seem to like me back the same. It's a little unnerving. Don't get me wrong; it's awesome and wonderful and sooooo nice, but it's still unnerving.

Friday, August 25, 2006

In the Pluto debacle, I think we're losing sight of something greater than us all...

...What kind of impact will this have on astrology? Pluto is the ruling planet of the astrological sign Scorpio. What will Bill Gates, Goldie Hawn, P. Diddy, and Mickey Mouse do now? Apparently, Scorpions will now have to deal with Mars being their ruling planet, as it was before Pluto was discovered.

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that Mars and Pluto are just about as different as two planets--excuse me, as one planet and one dwarf planet--can be: Mars was the god of war rules the sign of Aries. Aries people (Arieans?) are known for being feisty little hellcats. Pluto, on the other hand, is icy and cold, the farthest planet from the sun in our solar system until the astronomers decided to go throw a wrench in MVEMJSNUP (who remembers the Saved by the Bell episode where this acronym saved Zack's ass in the trivia contest?) and leave us with MVEMJSNU or perhaps MVEMcJSNUpc which allows for the presence of dwarf planets but sounds would sound ridiculous if you could pronounce it which you can't, and Scorpions are known for--actually, it turns out that Scorpions are known for being feisty little hellcats under a frozen exterior.

Um, astrology? I'm gonna call your bluff on this one. The way I see it, you can't just tack on a frozen exterior onto an Ariean profile and call it something else just cause a new planet was discovered. God I'm glad I'm a Taurus. Even though we're stubborn as hell, at least I know that Venus isn't going anywhere. I'd hate to have my identity be so firmy affixed to something that is a planet then isn't then is but is a dwarf. Me, Stevie Wonder, and Freud are safe!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Are we hott or what?


Yes.


We.


Are.

Teach a Man to Fish Day

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about my co-worker, Lisa, who is the creator of some amazing shit. Her jewelry is breathtaking. She mentioned wanting to learn how to knit a while ago (dangerous words to say around these ears), so I suggested that if I taught her how to knit, she could show me how to make a necklace. I decided that we'd call it Teach a Man to Fish Day, in honor of the old adage about self-sufficiency.

So. Today was the Day. Lisa graciously allowed me and my stupid cold to change our original plans, and she hoofed it over here this evening, bringing her beading supplies with her. I bought a couple of glass beads at the Distillery District on Sunday and we decided on a color scheme for a necklace based on the colors of the beads.
With Lisa's assistance, this is what I made:



I think that this jewelry-making thing is so cool! I know that I need another hobby like I need another hole in my head, but I loooove costume jewelry. It's so much fun and seriously, how awesome would it be to have a necklace to coordinate with every shirt in my wardrobe? (It would be pretty awesome, that's how awesome it would be.) I'll be on Queen West on Saturday, and it would be rather foolish of me to avoid the abundant bead stores that populate the area...

Moving on. After making my necklace, I taught Lisa how to knit. This is the only picture she would allow me to take, so I hope you enjoy it!


Even though I jump at the chance to do it, I'm always a little bit wary of teaching people to knit, mainly because knitting was so daunting to me the first time I tried it. I use the long-tail cast on method, which can be confusing (but so pretty!), and I feel like my "students" are disappointed when they are done casting on and I tell them that we haven't even started the actual knitting yet. Lisa, true to beginner form, cast on SOOOO tightly. Like, tighter than I think I've ever seen. By the end of the evening, though, she'd gotten the hang of it pretty well and was knitting away. She took home some yarn (red, of course) and some circular needles and a book, and said she'd practice tonight. What do you think? Have I created (another) knitting monster? I seriously hope so. The stitch n stitchin' bitches that Stephanie, Lorien, and I have every now and again could use another member!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

...and when you're down you're down

Warning: This post isn't going to be lighthearted or funny or amusing, so if you're looking for any of those things, you should probably stop reading now.

I just finished reading Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind, in which she chronicles her experiences with manic-depression. I've read a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction, about personality and mood disorders over the years, and this is one of the best. Personality disorders are interesting from a psychological and social perspective, but mood disorders are directly related to my life. I wasn't sure if I wanted to blog about this or not, but then I figured that since I'm not ashamed of it, I might as well.

I've been dealing with depression and anxiety since I was 13 and have been on Effexor, an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication, for over a year now. I've hated myself and my life, and have wanted to kill myself or have wanted to die, at various times in the past ten or so years. I've seen several psychologists and psychiatrists, though I finally agreed to be medicated only a year ago, partly at the insistence of my mother, and partly because I was finally ready. With my latest psychiatrist at U of T, I started cognitive behavioral therapy, which is designed to give the patient control over their own self-destructive thoughts. It was important to me to do something other than just take a pill every day; I wanted to play an active role in my own recovery. So far, so good--I feel better than I have in years, and have started to slowly break down the poison of my thoughts.

In An Unquiet Mind, Jamison details an illness far more severe than anything I've lived through. I have never experienced mania, nor depression to the depths she describes in the book. I've never attempted suicide. Even though this isn't covered by Jamison, I wanted to mention it anyway--I don't have schizophrenia, for which I am eternally grateful.

However, I know what it feels like to wake up in the morning, every morning, and feel that there is absolutely no point, no point whatsoever, in starting the day, because there is no point whatsoever in even being alive. I know what it feels like to inflict pain on yourself because it is the only emotion you are capable of feeling and the only emotion you are worthy of feeling. I know what it feels like to fall apart and not be able to pick up the pieces; to being on the brink of something so black and deep that it doesn't have a name.

As much as someone can be, I think that I was born ready to be depressed and anxious. Aside from having both depression and alcoholism in my family, I have it on good authority that I was a difficult baby. In fact, my mother originally thought that she wanted five kids, like her own mother, but after she had me she had to be coaxed into even trying for my brother. I cried constantly, all the time, for no reason. The doctor told my mom that I had excess energy that needed to be burned off, and crying was the only way I had to release this energy. He said, just put her down in her crib and walk away. Don't pick her up, don't respond to her, and soon she'll wear herself out and fall asleep.

After I grew out of this crabby babyhood, I think that my young childhood was pretty easy--a respite before the turbulence of adolescence. I suppose I was a happy enough kid, and I don't really remember being particularly moody. I know that I was very sensitive--I cried at the drop of a hat, at the smallest of criticisms. I still have very thin skin. My outer shell is cynicism and flippancy, but it's so thin. You have no idea.

When I got a bit older, the proverbial shit hit the fan. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami, and two weeks after the hurricane, I got my first period and our house burned down. I was 11 and going into sixth grade. My family and I lived in a trailer on our property, next to the charred shell of our old house, and this is where my mom and I waged war on one another. The trailer became a battleground, and we screamed at each other before I went to school in the morning and when I returned in the afternoon. I can only imagine the shock of my adolescence to my parents. I went from being an A and B student to almost failing algebra; I changed from a swan into an ugly duckling in the space of a year: I went from being a cute kid with clear skin and long blond hair to some pretty serious skin problems and the world's most awful haircut; I went from having a stable, if sensitive, disposition, to having a mercurial, volatile, angry one.

In eighth grade, I would sit in my room, listen to Nirvana, and cut myself. I would write suicide notes. I would stare into the flickering flames of candles and wonder why the hell I'd ever been born. In ninth grade I learned how to drink. Alcohol was, and to some extent is, the great social lubricant, and probably one of the only things that allowed me to survive social interactions as a teenager. I was prone to panic attacks around boys and unfamiliar situations, and when you're boy-crazy and into the underground punk scene in a strictly dance-music city, there are plenty of boys and unfamiliar situations to be had.

Still, I somehow managed to emerge from all of this relatively unscathed. After middle school, my grades improved and in high school I was in mostly honors and AP classes. I stopped cutting myself. I stopped writing suicide notes. I didn't stop drinking but neither did I develop a habit. I can't say I stopped listening to Nirvana, but some things aren't likely to change.

I'm not sure that I'm ready to write about my problems with depression and anxiety in college and post-graduation, so I'll save those for another day. Suffice it to say that eventually, I moved home before my mom came out to Oregon and physically removed me, so unable was I to deal with my emotional problems.

I don't think that I will ever be 100% depression and/or anxiety free. I think that these are part of me, part of my personality, and have been part of my genetic makeup probably since I was conceived. For the longest time, the knowledge that I would never be "shiny happy people" has haunted me, has made me doubt myself, has scared me into believing that I will never be a worthwhile, productive member of society, into believing that I will, inevitably, die alone.

Jamison, in An Unquiet Mind, rails against the assumption that all depression, all mania, is bad. On the subject of whether prenatal genetic testing for a pre-disposition to manic-depression be made available to expectant parents, she writes,
Clearly, if better and earlier diagnosis and more specific, less troublesome treatments result from the ongoing genetic research, then the benefits to individuals who have manic-depressive illness, to their families, and to society will be extraordinary...But what are the dangers of prenatal diagnostic testing? Will prospective parents choose to abort fetuses that carry the genes for manic-depressive illness, even though it is a treatable disease?...Do we risk making the world a blander, more homogenized place if we get rid of the genes for manic-depressive illness--an admittedly impossibly complicated scientific problem? What are the risks to the risk takers, those restless individuals who join with others in society to propel the arts, business, politics, and science? (p. 193-194)

I love this. I love it. Why do I have to be perfectly balanced, perfectly stable, each moment of each day of my life? What would the world be like if we were all perfectly balanced? How many artists and musicians and politicians and religious leaders would we be missing if manic-depression and other mood disorders didn't exist? How much of what makes me unique, what makes me me, would be taken away if my depression and anxiety were to disappear? Would I lose my innate connection with animals if I didn't suffer from depression? Would I stop being creative? Would I stop writing? Would I stop being able to appreciate the beauty of stillness, of solitude, of peace? I'm glad I started taking Effexor; I'm glad I started cognitive behavioral therapy. I don't want to hate myself. I don't want to be unhappy. Part of that is accepting that I have depression and anxiety, that those disorders come with problems, to be sure, but isn't part of it accepting that those disorders have given me creativity and writing, sensitivity and empathy?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Amazed

People amaze me sometimes.

Wow. That might be the first time I’ve said or written that sentence and not meant it in a negative way. Normally I say that before launching into a rant about how someone or other has managed to step on my proverbial toes, but not this time.

I wear my love for knitting on my sleeve; that’s no secret, right? I guess it never occurred to me that some people might be a little bit more private about their craft.

One of my co-workers, a fellow student named Lisa, is one of those people.

I always knew that Lisa was creative and had artistic sensibilities—you can tell just by looking at her, and certainly after talking to her, like, once. She dresses well, and her clothes are classic, which some people might read as boring, but because she is tall and thin her clothes always look great on her. (Sometimes I hate her for it, but don’t tell her that.) She’s a vegetarian, her boyfriend is El Senor Rock Star, and she’s quietly subversive. Those things are all pretty obvious, and she shares them with glee.

So, I kind of thought it was strange that Lisa was creative and artsy, yet didn’t really seem to have an artistic or crafty passion. I was SO wrong: apparently, Lisa is a bead slut of epic proportions.

She makes jewellery, and I’m not talking about hemp and fimo or long strands of seed beads (although those are fine, too). I’m talking gorgeous three-strand necklaces hand-crafted from semi-precious stones, interspersed with delicate sterling silver beads; bracelets composed of turquoise or labradorite or malachite, with hand-twisted silver wire attachments. She brought in a few of her pieces this morning, and I about died. The talent that girl has is incredible.



She clearly has an eye for color, and I love that she doesn’t cheap out—she uses expensive, stunning stones and glass beads without worrying about the cost. She doesn’t sell her items (although she could, and should, and I’m working on it!). She keeps them for herself or gives them away to friends, and I think that that’s the mark of a true craftswoman. Lisa’s not in it for the money or the admiration of her less-talented peers; she makes jewellery because she loves it and because she appreciates fine things and the work that goes into making them.

As I said, people amaze me sometimes.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Best weekend ever

You know how great it feels to see a really good friend after not having seen them for a long time? And how the absence hasn't forced the two of you any further apart emotionally? And how it's totally possible to absolutely know that you're going to have a wonderful time with them without having to hope for it? That was my weekend.

Aundra and I have been friends since freshman year of college but didn't get super-close until our junior year. We'd been close at the end of our freshman year and the beginning of our sophomore year (second year for you Canadians), but a series of unfortunate boy-related circumstances--and one rather doubtful living situation--eroded our friendship. A couple of weird betrayals by a friend and a rainy Sunday knitting session later, we were back in business, and we really haven't quit since. Sometimes I don't even know how two totally different people are such good friends, but we manage to make it work.

Anyway, this weekend was crazy fun. Friday night was our only really debaucherous night but damn, it felt good. I'm not gonna mention any names, but suffice it to say that Aundra, Stephanie and I had a great time. Liquor-stealing, picking up boys, getting yelled at by bitchy Amazons, befriending a bachelorette, getting kicked out of the bar... all in a night's work. The boys in question were ex-Army guys, hotties all and delightfully tattooed. Since you asked so nicely, I'll tell you a charming story about the run-in with the Amazon.

My guy, Pete, and I had left our group's spot by the bar to go somewhere and make out (me: "Do you wanna make out with me or Aundra? Cause if you wanna make out with her, why are you talking to me?" Him: "No, I wanna make out with you. Let's go.") We'd found a spot by the stairs and were making good use of it when Aundra came bounding up. Someone, either her or Pete, gave me a flower which I put in my hair. I think that Aundra and I probably hugged or something, and I accidentally bumped into the 8-foot-tall brunette Amazon standing next to me. She gave me a withering stare.

Me: Can I help you?

Her: You touched my back.

[Me, thinking: Um, hi? Were you somehow under the impression that bars are barren of people? When I think of a bar on a Friday night near a university, I don't exactly assume three feet of personal space at all times. And shit, it's not like I grabbed your breasts or something.]

Me, my voice dripping with sarcasm: Ohhhhhh. I'm so sorry.

Her: Nice flower.

Ok. If you're going to be an uber-bitch and get pissed at someone for bumping into you in a bar, you might want to think of more insulting comments than that. I just smiled and said as perkily as I know how, "Thanks! Glad you like it!" Pete then dragged me back over to the bar cause she was scary tall and he didn't want to watch me die at the hands of a mutant.

Anyway, it was a great night and a great weekend. I was really sad to say goodbye to Aundra today, cause it's been a year since we've seen each other. It's tough when your best friend lives on the other side of the country. Or I suppose now it's continent.

Friday, August 18, 2006

You are so not as cool as you think you are

So, first of all, Aundra is here visiting me. For the weekend. She and I have been friends since our freshman year of college, since we were 18, and she is one of my favorite people on earth. You know how much of a stickler I am about spelling and grammar? And you know how she can't spell to save her life (this is the girl who once thought "of" was spelled "ove." That's right--she misspelled a 2-letter word)? Well, I am actually willing to overlook her amazing spelling inability WITHOUT being remotely bitchy or judgmental about it. That's how much I love this girl. So that fact that she's here ALL WEEKEND and I got to take today off work means that I'm happier than a pig in shit.

Still, when things annoy, one must blog. I'm reading Martini Boys, trying to find a good place to go tonight, and I came across an article about a bar that was decorated to look like a '70s bachelor pad. Now, there ain't nothing I like more than anything retro, so I read on. The article mentions the design firm that decorated the bar, which brings me to Pet Peeeve (of the day) Number One:

*Capital letters exist for a reason. Use them. I don't care how goddamn fabulous you think you are, how many times you've been featured in I.D. or Wallpaper or Architecture for Hipsters (I made that one up), you still have to use capital letters, lest some unsuspecting reader happen upon this sentence:
"Continuing to work with munge/leung: design associates..." and think that the writers of the article were trying to spell "mange" but put a U in instead of an A. I seriously HATE companies that don't capitalize the first letter of their name. And poets. e.E. e. E. cCummings, you're so on my shit list.

*While we're on the subject of people who think they are cool demonstrating their coolness through punctuation, the proper way to write out a phone number isn't, and has never been, 666. 666.6666
Periods are not dashes, ok?

*The other thing that annoys that I thought of yesterday, is people who clip their cell phones to their belts. Or wear them in those cell phone protector things on their belts. Or whatever. If you have pockets put it in your goddamn pocket. 10 bucks says you're not so important that the person calling you is going to freak out if you pick up on the second ring (or second rendition of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal) instead of the first due to the delay that inevitably results from taking your phone out of your pocket. The worst offenders? Guys who wear jeans AND their cell phones clipped to their belts. Fucking losers.

Ok, that's it. Must go be happy now!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hold the phone! It actually fits. So far.


Don't you love the one-handed self-portrait? This is my cotton sweater from Rebecca and it's coming along pretty well, if I do say so myself. And I do. I think I should make that clear--so far, this project is progressing swimmingly. It's simple, maybe some would say simplistic, but sometimes I think that, in my desire to make a sweater or whatever it is look impressive, I forget how pleasing simplicity can be. Clean lines, pretty waist shaping

and yarn that makes me rethink my oft-professed hatred of cotton. What more could a knitter ask for?

Here's to hoping it continues in this vein!

Snootily pretentious. Or is it pretentiously snooty?

So, a few weeks ago I got summoned to appear for jury duty in Miami. Obviously, since I’m in Toronto, I wasn’t exactly able to appear. I’ve been called for jury duty several times, but I’ve never attended cause I’ve always been away at school. The other times, my mom took care of it for me. I like to think that she waved her magic Mom Wand and made everything ok. For some reason, she decided that this time I’d have to handle it myself. Maybe it’s cause I’m 25. Could be, but who knows. Anyway, she sent me the summons and I filled out the “unable to appear” box, or whatever it was, and attached a letter explaining that I’m studying in Canada and not only will I not be able to show up for jury duty, I’m also unable to provide a date at which I will be available, as I do not foresee returning to Miami in the near future.

Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for the kind people of the courthouse, as they sent me—and by me, I mean my parents, as even though I gave them my address here, they sent me this piece of mail at my parents’ house—a notice saying that they would need more information to process my request. I was then instructed to call them between the highly convenient hours of 10 am and 4 pm, Tuesday through Friday. It just so happens that I have this thing called a job, and lo and behold, it’s pretty much a 9-5, Monday through Friday kind of thing. I could make a long-distance phone call from work, but I’m not going to, on principle. The way I see it, they should be so desperate to get people in there for jury duty, they should be bending over and letting us, the good responsible citizens of the world, give it to them any way we want. If I want to find out about fulfilling my civic duty at—gasp!—6 pm on a Monday evening, after I’ve returned from work, I should be able to speak to someone at that time. Not gonna bend over for me? I’m not gonna bend over for you!

Instead of calling them, I’m sending them a letter in my most snotty, pretentious office-speak. I loooove writing letters like this. Where else do you get to use the phrase “in lieu of” other than an obituary? This is an occasion, an opportunity to pull out the old thesaurus and brush up on long-forgotten SAT words. You know that the person reading it
a) won’t be able to make heads or tails of it and
b) won’t care in the slightest, so you should…

c) have a little bit of fun with it.

So far, this is my favourite sentence:
“I was instructed to telephone the courthouse office between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and furnish you with further details regarding my situation; however, these times are inconvenient, as I am at work during the day and it is difficult for me to place long-distance phone calls at my office.”

The thing about these letters is that you have to make them sound hideously snotty without over-exaggerating. Like, if I wanted to be too obvious about it, I would have written this:
“I was commanded to ring the courthouse office between the hours of 10 o’ clock ante meridiem and 4 o’ clock post meridiem [or, for even further hijinks, “ten of the clock ante meridiem and four of the clock post meridiem”, but I think that would, perhaps, be taking things too far, no?] and furnish you with auxiliary details regarding the circumstances of my educational pursuits; unfortunately, these temporal junctures are vexing unsuitable [here I had a real tough time letting go of “vexing,” which is attractive for its Shakespearean quality, and “unsuitable,” which, in the end, drives home the fact that these hours are ludicrous], as I find myself at work during the daylight hours, and it is most inappropriate for me to place long-distance telephone calls at my office.”

Man, this is SO much fun.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Does it creep anyone else out that Frances Bean Cobain is almost 14 years old?

She's older now than I was when her dad killed himself--and she wasn't even two at the time. I remember when Kurt Cobain died I wondered what would become of his daughter. There are very few celebrity children that I actually give a shit about but Frances Bean Cobain is one of them. I LOVED Nirvana in a way that I haven't loved a band before or since. I lived and breathed their music, although I was just starting to listen to them when he died. Grunge had such a huge influence on my life as a teenager and I could relate to it more than any of the other musical trends of the time (gangsta rap, anyone?). Kurt was pretty fucked up though, and Courtney Love is...interesting...and I sort of thought FB would maybe inherit some of that self-destructiveness.

However, I hoped that FB would somehow emerge from the drama of her early life relatively unscathed, and it appears that she has. I was reading a couple of interview with her, and she seems to be a pretty well-adjusted 13-year-old. Which is good. Maybe Courtney Love's crazy sheltering of her daughter has actually paid off.

Still, it's crazy to see pictures of Frances Bean. (Frances? Bean? Not sure what to call her.) She is the spitting image of her father.

This is what today looked like


The past few days have been amazing: the air has been cool, the sun has been shining, and the sky is blue blue blue. No humidity. What a relief from the heat wave! Too bad my mood hasn't been as good as the weather. Nothing specific is wrong; work is fine, life is fine, etc. I've just been feeling melancholy lately, and I think part of it is that I just don't really feel like I live here. Which is weird, considering that I do, for now, and considering that I've been here for a while. Maybe I'm just restless, I don't know.

Anyway. I bought some really pretty cotton/wool yarn a couple of weeks ago with the intention of making some kind of sweater. Cotton has always been my knitting nemesis, but I've got very sensitive skin and was tired of itching all the time, so I decided to give it another go. The yarn is Cascade Sierra Quatro, number 82; it's a marled yarn with four plied strands of pink, green, pale blue, and the palest lavender (I didn't even notice that there was any purple in it until I looked very closely). I decided on this sweater:

It's from Rebecca 31, pattern 27. I had started knitting it in the flat, as per the pattern, and then I saw this version on Juju Strickt. It's absolutely gorgeous and I love everything about it. It's knit in the round which I've never done before (seamless sweater, not circular knitting), and I emailed the knitter/blogger, asking her how she converted the pattern, which is for a sweater knitted in the flat, to circular. She was very kind and emailed me back with instructions.

I immediately cast on and this is what I have so far:


The pattern calls for the ribbing at the bottom to be knitted on smaller needles, which I didn't have. I made up for it by knitting in the English style, holding the yarn in my right hand. This is how I learned to knit, and how I always used to knit until I taught myself Continental. Now I can do both, but I prefer Continental. Anyway, my English knitting is pretty tight, so I just knitted the ribbing using the English method, then switched when I got to the stockinette stitch. (I'm very, very proud of my cleverness.)
Here you can see the ribbing:


Here's a close-up of the "seam," where the sides would be joined if I was knitting them in the flat. I am doing waist shaping, so this picture shows the decreases:


In other fiber news, there has been an unfortunate set-back with the Pistachio Aran. After sewing together the shoulder seams and realizing that the side cabley guys didn't match up, I consulted with my roommate. At first I was going to just rip it back to the armhole decreases and knit up the rest a bit differently, but after Lorien and I looked at it closely, it was brought to my attention that I would actually have to pull out one entire side and re-knit it so that it's the reverse of the other side. That didn't make sense, did it? When I first knit the front and back, I knit them exactly the same. However, when placed back-to-back, they are not mirror images of each other. So against all of my laziness and slacker wisdom, I decided to frog away and redo it. I actually don't feel that badly about it, cause I think it'll look better in the end, and if I'm gonna put in the energy to make something, it might as well look good, right?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

When I first came here one weekend last August, I was looking for an apartment and a job. Having found both--or having at least made steps toward finding both--I took myself on a little tour of Toronto's yarn shops. I feel that a city's yarn stores say a lot about it: Portland is teeming with places to fondle yarn and fiber, mostly of the natural variety (you're not gonna find much glittery shiny acrylic there!); one could say that they were down-to-earth, no-nonsense and natural, kind of like Portlanders and the city itself. Miami's one LYS is the polar opposite--it is all glittery, shiny acrylic yarns, a decent selection of cotton and, tucked in the way back, a smattering of Noro and Lamb's Pride. Kind of like Miami--lots of style and very little substance.

After almost a year here, it's time to consider the question, what do Toronto's yarn stores say? I've never been disappointed by a lack of selection at the LYSs. It's just that I'm not sure what that selection means. For a city that is so bitterly cold in the winter (so I've heard, at least; last year was pretty mild), there seems to be an awful lot of cotton. There's an abundance of gorgeous hand-painted yarn (Fleece Artist and Hand Maiden, I'm looking at you) but, when turned into the inevitable shawl or scarf, it would only get hidden under my peacoat/winter jacket and that is a shame (though perhaps others are more adventurous in their fall and winter wardrobes than I am, and so allow their scarves some freedom; I'm usually too concerned about them getting blown away by the wind to allow that). What's up with the contradictions?

*********************************************

One complaint I do have about one particular LYS is the attitude of the employees. Much like at bookstores and record stores, yarn store staff must be knowledgeable about their craft and the store's wares and, at the same time, have a tolerance for low pay and customer service. I worked at a bookstore; I know what a pain in the ass it is to be expected to have read every single volume in the place, work shitty hours for no money, and deal with annoying customers. I know that. However. I would like to take this opportunity to state that, just because my job was frustrating and, at times, I wanted to kill customers/my coworkers/my boss, does not mean that I was patronizing or condescending to people because of it. If someone's idea of a great read is the Shopaholic series, I'll recommend Bridget Jones's Diary. If a customer loved Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority, why, they'd just inhale Ann Coulter's latest. My point is, even though I sometimes thought our customers' reading choices were abominable does not mean that I felt the right or the need to treat them with disrespect.

Anyway.

Today, Lorien, her mom, and I went to an LYS that we'll call Corriedale. This store is known for its comprehensive selection, which really is pretty hard to beat. However, most of the times that I've gone there, and from what I understand, most of the times that Lorien's gone there, the service has been seriously below par. They have it totally made, though, cause they aren't rude enough for someone to actually call them on it. It's more of a tone of voice than nasty words. The store owner and a man who I suppose is the store manager both have shitty attitudes. No question has ever been answered with anything even approaching respect, that I've ever heard. Cheerfulness? Forget it. Service with a smile? Not likely.

Um, to get to the point. Lorien's mom saw a pattern online that she loved but wasn't able to purchase the pattern separately from the yarn, and the whole thing was in British pounds and was from a Rowan designer, so it was pretty expensive. At first, we were just looking for a similar pattern. One of the store's employees assisted us, and she was actually quite helpful. She recommended a couple of magazines, then went through the loose patterns, trying to find something suitable. Even though we didn't find anything, it was great that she actually tried.

Meanwhile, as she was in the middle of answering Lorien's question the guy who I think is the manager actually yelled across the store to her, "Hey _______, when are you gonna take your break?" Ok. First rule of customer service: when one of your clerks is busy assisting someone, DO NOT interrupt them. And with an inane question. And by yelling. Just don't do it.

Then, as we were standing near the checkstand a bit later, an older woman came in with a ball of black yarn that someone had purchased for her from the sale room. The yarn had been missing a ball band and so the customer was unable to identify it, but she needed more to complete her project. The employee (not the same one who helped us) asked if she'd already looked in the sale room for more, and when the woman said she hadn't, the employee directed her downstairs to another Corriedale employee. At first, I thought it was because the first employee was busy and wrongly assumed that she was going to help us next, but as soon as the customer walked away, she turned to run off to the back of the store. This isn't that bad of an infraction, I suppose, but I can't help thinking that, instead of sending the customer off on her own, she could've just taken the two minutes to walk her downstairs, find the other employee or, if that person was busy, she could've helped the woman find the yarn herself. At Books & Books, we were expected to actually physically SHOW our customers the section or the exact book they were looking for, and I can't say it ever hurt me to do so. Even if I had to pass the person off to one of my coworkers, I would walk the customer over to them. People seemed to really appreciate the attention, especially if they were in a hurry, and our store had a reputation of great customer service.

Ok. Back to Corriedale. At the end, I was explaining to this manager person, who I have dealt with before and have never really liked, that we were trying to figure out how much of a certain yarn we would need to create a cardigan that we'd seen online, but we unfortunately didn't have the measurements. I wasn't really expecting him to pull the answer out of his ass or anything, but he asked if we needed help so I explained. He was slouching behind the counter, leaning on it with his chin propped up on his hand, and he explained to me how to substitute one yarn for another. Complete with the whole "You read the pattern and find out how many yards of yarn it takes, then you pick out a different yarn, figure out how many yards you get per skein, then divide the number of total yards per project by the number of yards per skein" routine. In a ridiculously patronizing voice, like he was talking to a toddler. I might be taking this a bit personally, but dude? Seriously? I KNOW how to substitute yarn. Believe me, I'm cheaper than you could ever imagine, not to mention more creative, and I will do anything to avoid spending my hard-earned money on $15-a-skein yarn by Insert Name of Big Yarn Manufacturer Here.

I guess I'm just sick of dealing with people who obviously hate their customers. I can understand that it's difficult to deal with problem people, but there are certain things you just don't do when you work in customer service. I mean, I compare this experience with my visit to Knit-O-Matic a couple of weeks ago, where the store owner was incredibly helpful and nice and showed me some of her favorite new patterns, and I ended up spending over $100 on yarn, which I never do, and I wonder why I even bother with Corriedale.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Things I love

1. I am seriously having an awesome hair day. Apparently, no humidity combined with actually washing my hair (but still not blow-drying it cause I am lazy) equals great hair.

2. Naps. 2 hour naps plus 7 hours of sleep at night equals I can function like a normal human being.

3. Takeout Chinese food. Sesame chicken and spring rolls. I heart you to pieces.

4. My new mature mindset. Since yesterday evening when I decided that the only solution to my Pistachio Aran woes was to frog one side and reknit it so that it matches the other, I have felt much more mature, because instead of just bitching about something, I am actually fixing a problem.

5. Seamless raglan sweaters. Which is what my cotton sweater will become once I've ripped out what I've done so far.

6. Weekends.

7. The t-shirt I'm wearing today. It's pink, has a skull and two guitars crossed behind it, and on the bottom it says, "Chase the dream, live for rock!" And I totally didn't get it at American Eagle; it's from a thrift store in New Orleans.

8. David Attenborough's Life in the Undergrowth series. I watched the episode on spiders last night. So. Freakin. Cool.

9. My friend Aundra. For our impending 5:00 conversation.

10. Coffee. Which I am now going to get.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Things I hate

1. My alarm clock. When it went off this morning at 7, I immediately thought it was a conspiracy to keep me from operating on a halfway normal level.

2. My stupid cotton sweater. Why isn't it wide enough? Why do I have to rip it out and start over again?

3. My skin. Hello? I'm not 14 any longer. Feel free to stop breaking out at any time.

4. The U of T File Plan for not being complete enough for me to do my job well and in a timely manner.

5. My Pistachio Aran. I sewed the shoulders together and the stupid side cabley things don't align perfectly.

6. My inability to create perfect projects. Why can't I be either a little bit more Type A (perfection perfection perfection at any cost) or a little bit more Type B (it may not be perfect but I don't care).

7. Morning people. All of them. I may not hate mornings as much as some people (Lorien, I'm looking at you here) but I find it pretty near impossible to wake up without difficulty consecutive mornings.

8. My hair. I didn't bother to wash it this morning cause I didn't want it to dry out. I was too lazy to blow dry it and now it looks like shit.

9. My itchy arms. Why, why, why must you itch? I put lotion on this morning so that you wouldn't, yet you insist.

10. MS Internet Explorer. I didn't need that for-once-well-worded email to my coworker, complete with the documents I was unable to attach yesterday. Thanks a lot.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On being uncool

Do you ever have moments when you realize that you are absolutely without a doubt out of touch with the world?

My Achilles heel has always been pop culture. When I was a child, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV. We didn’t even get a color TV until I was in, like, third or fourth grade. And it’s not as though I was born in the ‘50s or something; I was born in 1981. The only reason I was even aware of the popular TV shows of the mid- to late-1980s is cause I heard about them relentlessly from the other kids. My brother and I would go to our neighbor’s house to watch Silver Spoons after school, but until I discovered Saved by the Bell when I was ten or so, that is literally the only sitcom I had ever seen. According to Wikipedia, Silver Spoons was airing new episodes between 1982 and 1986, and hasn’t been regularly syndicated since the mid-1990s. Our neighbors moved away when I was, oh, I don’t know, nine or ten or so. The very latest year I could have ever watched Silver Spoons at their house would have been 1991, and I suspect that we stopped watching it before then.

In 1991, I was in 5th grade. I can clearly remember, in my last few years of elementary school, being on the playground when the “cool” kids were talking about their favourite TV shows—In Living Color; The Simpsons; Fresh Prince of Bel-Air; Beverly Hills, 90210; The Wonder Years; Married…with Children; Roseanne… the list goes on and on. I had never seen an episode of any of these shows, a fact which doesn’t bother me at all now, but at the time was highly, highly disturbing.

I remember when my entire fourth-grade homeroom class “rapped,” in unison, Vanilla Ice’s "Ice Ice Baby". All I knew was the first line, “Stop collaborate and listen.” I remember when, in fifth grade, the visiting D.A.R.E. officer was trying to choose someone in my class to do their best Urkel impression. I sat there, praying he wouldn’t call on me, as I had no idea who Urkel was or why I should be imitating him. I remember when, in sixth grade, my classmates and I in the advanced program went to Sea Camp for a week, and my group performed a sketch from In Living Color in front of everyone, and though I thought it was hysterical, I was none the wiser about who Homey D. Clown was and what “Hated it” referred to.

I was no better with music, either. As an elementary school student, I listened to the Beach Boys, Billy Joel, and Simon and Garfunkel. When I was in sixth grade, Boyz II Men, Color Me Badd, and Whitney Houston finally appeared on my radar, but it was years before I could sing along with a Michael Jackson song (I never did learn all the words to any of them). Paula Abdul, Kriss Kross, the aforementioned Vanilla Ice… they all passed me by as I was singing along with Brian Wilson (and, I must confess, Jordan Knight and Joey McIntyre).

To this day, I don’t pay any attention to what’s on the radio. I don’t even own one. I don’t have cable and can’t watch music videos. While I do watch TV, I mostly download stuff and watch it on my computer, allowing me to pick and choose my shows. The reality TV craze pretty much ended my need or desire to watch a lot of television.

Most of the time, I don’t mind my own ignorance of pop culture. I figure that as long as I read celebrity gossip blogs, I won’t be too out of touch. Sometimes, though, I am amazed at how quickly things change and how easy it is to be out of the loop, and I feel a little bit guilty, like I’m a bit of a “traitor to my generation” (10 points if you can name the movie that quotation is from). The songs that I listen to on my iPod that I think of as current—OutKast’s "Caroline", Usher’s "Yeah"—have been replaced by songs I’d never even heard of (Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous”) before my friend Aundra told me that “her” song on MySpace is "Promiscuous". This is how old-school I am—I thought that Promiscuous was probably by Britney Spears or possibly Christina Aguilera. Now, I know that Britney is not the Pop Princess any longer, and that Christina Aguilera is too busy posing as Marilyn Monroe to sing, but when I heard the title of the song, that’s who I thought of.

I am SO not cool. (I am so not cool that "cool" probably isn't even a word that's used with any regularity by the truly with-it, except maybe in an ironic sense, the way I say "rad." Or something.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Take 2

This afternoon I washed, rinsed, and hung to dry the three rovings I over-dyed this weekend.



For these, I was pretty careful about how wet the wool was when I started painting, how much dye I used, and how much citric acid I sprayed on the rovings in the end. I also allowed them to cool overnight, still wrapped in balls, rather than laying them out flat. The colors are much truer than the original rovings; there was a bit of fading but nothing to be concerned about. We'll see what they look like spun up though.

Even though I'm not overly ecstatic with the results, I feel like I've learned quite a bit from both batches of rovings that I've painted. I'm naturally drawn to color--the more color the better. However, from what I've seen of painting wool and yarn, it's better to stick with a limited palette of few hues, with varying shades within those colors. The end result seems to be more complex and calmer, too, instead of chaotic and a bit muddy. Maybe with practice I'll be able to use more colors with better results, but for now I think I'm going to try variation within three or so hues. Next time, next time.

This:


used to be this:


(This one's just a gratuitous shot of the same skein)


The yarn spun up sooo nicely... gotta love merino! I tried to spin a decent-sized single, as I knew that I wouldn't be getting enough out of the roving if I plied the yarn. It was so fun to spin something that I'd dyed. I was so focused on watching the colors change and work together. I like this yarn a lot more than I thought I would, which is the fascinating thing about spinning--you never know what the yarn is going to look like just from the unspun fiber itself.

I love long, lazy summer days. We're on summer hours at work so I was out of there at 4:30 today. Come home, make a sandwich and then a beeline for the deck--what could be better than a hammock and a beer, the sun and a cool breeze, a good book and the stillness of a residential neighborhood?

As yesterday's dyed rovings soak, I eat my sandwich and read Edward Abbey. Having never encountered him before, I find in Desert Solitaire the words of a philosopher and a dreamer, but not any garden-variety philosopher or dreamer. Abbey was an eco-nazi, an eco-warrior, a staunch protester of the development of America's wild spaces.

He spent a few summers as a ranger at Arches National Monument, before it became a national park. Abbey had some radical suggestions for the National Park Service, ways to ensure the protection of the natural environment, while enhancing the human experience in the parks--in a decidedly un-American manner. My favorite of Abbey's ideas? Ban motorized vehicles of any and all kinds in the parks. The Park Service would take the money saved on not building and maintaining the roads and provide bicycles and horses for campers and vacationers to use. I love that--can't you just see the horrified looks on people's faces when they are told to park their cars and ride bikes into the park instead? Brilliant!

As I sit out on the deck, relaxing in the late afternoon light, I read Abbey's musings on floating the Colorado River in the Glen Canyon region before the dam was built. His words are particularly poignant given that we are in the process of doing irreversible damage to our planet:

"Wilderness. The word itself is music...

"Suppose we say that wilderness invokes nostalgia, a justified not merely sentimental nostalgia for the lost America our forefathers knew. The word suggests the past and the unknown, the womb of earth from which we all emerged. It means something lost and something still present, something remote and at the same time intimate, something buried in our blood and nerves, something beyond us and without limit. Romance--but not to be dismissed on that account. The romantic view, while not the whole of truth, is a necessary part of the whole truth.

"But the love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need--if only we had the eyes to see. Original sin, the true original sin, is the blind destruction for the sake of greed of this natural paradise which lies all around us--if only we were worthy of it."

As I sit here, in the hammock, drinking my beer and feeling sated, enjoying the sun and the breeze and the quiet, it's hard to imagine a world gone wrong. The day to day mundanities of life take over, too, until I am hardly aware that a week has passed. It's hard to sustain the fire of indignation when there is work to do, classes to attend, meals to cook. There is celebrity gossip to distract and there are blithe self-absorbed people to worship, until it all becomes a jumble and a blur and I forget what is at stake. I love reading stuff by people like Abbey because I am brought back to the basics, the irreplicable feeling of warm sun and cool water, the joy of hearing birds calling and the wind in the trees--so satisfying.

Then I remember what is at stake.

Misadventures in dyeing

Sooo, it turns out that dyeing roving is harder than it looks. I have much more of an appreciation for people who consistently produce beautifully dyed wool. Lorien and I spread out our little strips of roving (we didn't want to make too big of a commitment to any one "colorway," as if what we produced could rightly be called colorways).

I, as usual, didn't have a color scheme in mind, and I have tried to read memorize Deb Menz's Color in Spinning, but it's too technical for me. When I see per cent signs and acronyms (DOS, etc.), my brain turns off. It looks too much like math. I figured that I'd let my artistic, creative, free-flowing self take over and produce magical, beautiful colors.

Not so much.




These four rovings look better in the picture than they do in real life. The colors are brighter here, but they are actually pretty washed out, particularly the two on the right:





I didn't intend for them to be so light, but I'm pretty sure I know what went wrong; it was either:
*wool that was too wet,
*too much dye,
*not enough citric acid to set the dye, or
*forcing the rovings to cool off quickly by laying them out flat instead of keeping them rolled up.
Let's try all of the above, shall we?

These two look a bit better:







This one I spun up yesterday; I'll post pictures later.



This is the only one I'm actually pleased with. The colors are fairly true to what they were originally, and I like the way they all work together. Of course, I suppose that producing pretty blue/green roving is fairly easy, since most people like those colors and they complement each other so well.

I over-dyed the two lightest ones, with hopefully better results. I haven't washed and dried them yet, so I'm not sure what they'll look like, but I tried to make sure that they got well doused with citric acid, and they were not unrolled as they cooled off.

Friday, August 04, 2006

People Suck, part 2

I’ve been reading library blogs lately, trying to get a sense of what I’ll be facing in my professional life in the next few years.
These are some of my favorites:
Happyville Library,
Annoyed Librarian, and
Society for Librarians Who Say "Mofo"
(note: The title of the above blog actually spells out the word that "mofo" stands for, but that is one of two words I will not say around my mother, and on the off-chance that she will ever read this, I don't want to offend her. Also note that I will and do say this word aloud quite often, just never around her. Some things are sacred.).

These blogs chronicle the daily grind at the library, the ins and outs of dealing with the public. It has been drawn to my attention by these blogs that the public sucks. For every one decent, intelligent, friendly patron, there seems to be ten argumentative, pushy, obnoxious ones.

Here at this quiet academic library, we deal mostly with students who are studying to become librarians and other information professionals, so the amount of bullshit we have to deal with is small. However, now and then we get some treasures.

Yesterday, I was sitting at one of the circulation desks doing some work, and a librarian was working at the other desk. A patron came in to return a book that was a bit overdue. She had incurred $1.00 in fines on it. When my coworker informed her that she had fines, the woman said, "You're not actually going to make me pay them, are you?"

Why, yes, actually, we are. That's the way the library works--we allow you to take out books FOR FREE, but you are going to be charged for them if they are late. This can't be new to you. Libraries have been doing this since the beginning of time. Hell, it's the only way to make sure that the materials come back. Think about it another way--would you expect Blockbuster to waive your late fees just for the fun of it?

The patron's reasoning was that, since the book hadn't been checked out since February, she shouldn't be charged anything in late fees because no one was waiting for them.

Oh, well in that case, you're absolutely right. This book hasn't been taken out in six months, so it is entirely unreasonable for us to charge you for returning it late. Lady, I don't care if that book hadn't been taken off the shelf since the last ice age. If it's late, you get fined.

She's lucky, cause my co-worker is nicer than I am, and waived her fines. As she was doing so, the patron was saying, "Oh, it's ok, you don't have to do that."

Suuuuuure.

The clincher? This parting statement: "The library is my favorite charity."

News flash--the library is NOT a charity. It's a public service, paid for by taxes and the government. In this case, it's a service provided to students, paid for by the university. Just because we accept donations DOES NOT mean that we are a charity.

Furthermore, if you are this "generous" with your "favorite charity," I'd like to see what you're like to your least favorite "charity." I hope you don't withhold that dollar from them all, cheapskate.

I know that I sound vitriolic over a situation that, after all, wasn't even mine to deal with, but that kind of crap annoys me. I am a chronic late-book-returner. I have fines at the public library constantly. Never once have I asked to have my fines waived because the book wasn't popular, or because it was only a day late, or whatever. If I return a book late, I'll be charged a fine. That's just the way it is. To me, it's a small price to pay for the privilege of having a public library, of being able to check out free books, of being able to read the newest hardcover books so that I don't have to shell out upwards of $25 for them. See, I'm a cheapskate, too, but I'm not going to argue with the librarian or circulation clerk over a couple of bucks in fines that I knowingly incurred. I'm not that cheap.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mean Nice People Suck

This afternoon, I was at a grocery store buying dinner for work tonight. Usually, Dominion is super crowded and the lines at the checkstands are very long. However, it being the middle of the day, the store wasn’t too busy.

I was behind a woman who was buying a few things: chips, a bottle of soda, and a magazine. Her total came to $9.28, and she counted out her change for the cashier, who said, “$9.28. Right on.” I assumed that the customer had provided exact change. The cashier printed out her receipt and handed it to her, and started ringing up my sushi.

Most people, when they’ve been given their receipt at a store, start packing up their stuff and get out of there. Not this woman. She stood there until the clerk acknowledged her.

Stupid customer: Actually, you owe me two cents.
Cashier: What?
SC: Yeah, I gave you $9.30, so you owe me two cents.
C: Oh… Do you have the bill?
[The receipt was provided and they looked over it to determine that, indeed, the cashier had been given $9.30 and therefore, the customer was owed $.02.)
SC: Well, it’s not a big deal. I don’t really need it.
C: No, you’re owed two cents, so here you go.

Me: [in my head] What in the name of God is wrong with this customer? It’s two goddamn pennies, for the love of crap. Obviously, she was making some kind of ridiculous point by quibbling over two cents. Was it to alert the cashier to her mistake? Was it to embarrass or irritate the cashier? Was it to just be a stupid, anal-retentive waste of space?

I officially hate humanity.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bush-tastic

Last night, I had a burst of financial responsibility. Of course, this responsibility occurred only in my head, but at least I’m thinking about it. I am 25 years old, and I have no credit card(s) and no savings account. I use my checking account for EVERYTHING.

On the other hand, I’m 25 years old and debt-free, thanks to my dad’s amazing benefits plan that paid for my tuition at an expensive private college. Also, I’ve never actually wanted a credit card, as I can still hear my 12th-grade government and economics teacher’s voice in my head, saying, “Credit cards are nothing but plastic debt.” And I did have a savings account when I lived in Portland, but I had to close it when I moved to Miami.

Attending grad school in a “foreign” country throws another wrench into my financial situation, as I have no real desire to open a savings account or a Roth IRA (that’s right, baby, this girl’s gonna start saving for retirement!) in Canada when I’m probably not going to be here for that much longer.

Anyway, I decided to call my dad for some financial advice, cause he’s pretty good with money. We discussed IRAs, mutual funds, and stocks, which means that I was thoroughly confused and remembered why I have only a checking account. However, I’ve ordered a book through the Toronto Public Library about financial planning, which I’m hoping will clear things up a bit.

After we finished talking about money, we started talking about the heat wave, which led to a conversation about climate change:

Me: …Yeah, I think that this heat wave is related to climate change, too. Ya know, I took an online quiz once to determine my ecological footprint, and it turns out that, even though I don’t drive right now and I recycle and stuff, it would take five planet Earths if everyone in the world lived the way I do. So I wonder, what else can I do? Can global warming be stopped?

Dad: I don’t know if it can be stopped, but seeing as how nothing has been done, we can’t really do any worse. People can start small. I never see anyone buying fluorescent light bulbs [My dad has been a proponent of the fluorescent bulb for many, many moons] and they save tons of ener—
Speaking of which, have you heard the one about the light bulb? You know those light bulb jokes? Well, how many Irishmen does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Me: I don’t know, Dad, how many?

Dad: Two: One to hold the light bulb and the other to bring a bottle of whiskey. Then they wait for the room to start spinning.
Anyway, people could buy more fluorescent bulbs. And stop buying those damn gas-guzzling SUVs [My father is also a rabidly anti-SUV kinda guy].

Eventually, this led to a discussion about American politics. As I’m sure you are all aware, the mainstream American media is something of a joke—instead of actual news and critical reporting, we are subject to “infotainment,” something that I truly abhor. I refuse to believe that the American public is a dumb as people would like to think; on the contrary, I think that the American public has been lied to, and overworked, and under-educated, and all of these combine to create a populace that is unable to decipher or even seek out the truth. That does not, however, mean that Americans are stupid. (Although, there is some truth to the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”)

I love getting my dad started on his anti-Dubya rants. He hates Bush, which is something that my father and I have in common, and thinks he’s an idiot. My dad goes out of his way to find the speeches that the media never reports on to find the president’s Bush-isms. We all know the old stand-bys, “misunderestimated,” “subliminable,” etc., but there is so much more where those came from.

Take, for example, this recent response to a question about whether the tide was turning in the war on Iraq:

"I think -- tide turning -- see, as I remember -- I was raised in the desert, but tides kind of -- it's easy to see a tide turn -- did I say those words?" --George W. Bush, asked if the tide was turning in Iraq, Washington, D.C., June 14, 2006, from Bushisms and political humor

The man is unintelligible. There are many, many things that I look for in a president, and Bush possesses absolutely none of those qualities, but at the very least, he should be able to answer a simple question without sounding like he’s competing for Village Idiot of the Year award (which Bush would undoubtedly win every time).

(That one’s for you, dad.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Spring Garden"? "Monet's Lillies"? Or, perhaps, "green and blue and kinda pink yarn"

I'm not here to talk about how it's 36 degrees Celsius/100 degrees Fahrenheit outside right now. Or about how it was 34 degrees Celsius/96 degrees Fahrenheit at 8 o'clock this morning. (It did register this on a thermometer on the side of a building that was in the direct sunlight, but as one of my library school friends said, "We're in the direct sunlight too," thus meaning that the thermometer reading was indeed accurate.)

I'm not here to talk about how I can confirm that head does rise--I live in an un-air conditioned attic apartment and holy crap, it's hot. I'm not here to talk about how I had to pour a cup of water on my head last night so that I could cool down enough to sleep. I'm not here to talk about how even my bedclothes are boiling hot.

No, I'm here to talk about--and show--the results of my Sunday re-dyeing experiment.

On Sunday, I dyed inside. I didn't want to deal with the wind again, and I figured that if I was careful with the dye it wasn't a big deal to work inside. Plus, that way I got to listen to music and have a fan trained on me at all times.

I used a mix of turquoise, blue, and yellow to get the dark green tones, and a mix of turquoise and yellow for the blue.

Here's the before:



Here's the during:



And here are the afters: