Dream of the Dolphin
a.k.a.
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore

Free Story!

Monday, November 29, 2004
 

Suffering for Art

Today was the benefit concert for the Streethaven Women's Shelter, and know what I did? In the middle of the Messiah, my back almost went out.

Yes, that's right. I almost threw my back out by singing.

I mean, I felt stupid when I threw it out reaching to turn the shower off, but this has that one beat. See, when I sing certain things, I really have to have support from the diaphragm, or my voice breaks. Which basically means tensing up everything in my lower abdomen. And as I did it today, I could feel the muscles in my lower right back stating to go "skreeeeeeeeeeeeee". So in a moment of panic, I had to force my back to relax, while continuing to support the sound, as altos were the only ones singing at that point. I did it, but every time I've gone to lift something since, my back's gone "heeeeeeeeeeyyyyyy."

Anyway. The benefit was the practice run for the real Messiah, which we're presenting on Wednesday December 8th at 7:30 p.m. at Eastminster United Church on the Danforth just west of Chester subway station. Further information can be found on the choral society's website. It's the mostly complete Messiah -- we're skipping a couple of arias and cutting the 8-minute "despised" aria to a reasonable length. But it's sounding pretty darned good.

If you'd like to attend, you can purchase tickets in advance at Bakka, or you can contact me and I'll have some set aside for you.

Hope to see you there! Oh, and if I suddenly double over and drop out of sight, you know why.

( 1:12 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Saturday, November 27, 2004
 

Challenge!

"If there is at least one person in your life who you consider a close friend, and who you would not have met without being part of an online fandom, post this sentence in your journal."

That's been floating around livejournal, and it's very true. Many of the people who I care most about, who have made the biggest differences in my life, I met through one type of online group or another.

I mean, seriously, who'd have thought I'd ever find anyone else who truly understands the peculiar joys of turbo boost? (waves at Karina)

And because most of these groups had something to do with writing, I'm issuing a challenge.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Write a short story. This is your topic/subject/inspiration. You have until February 1st.

Go.

( 8:44 PM ) Sarah Jane ~


 

Kismet, Omens, and All That Jazz

I'm in a very odd, zen kind of mood at the moment, so please bear with me...

Today was a strange and wonderful day. I was walking to work at the museum, somewhat lighthearted because of today's headlines, which renew some of my faith in the world, and thinking about my regrets over the past few years. They're actually not many, and most involve relationships that I lost, some through my own actions and some through forces out of my control.

Heady train of thought for a Saturday morning.

Then, as I turned down Philosopher's walk and reached the bottom of the valley, all my attention was caught by a massive winged shape gliding silently toward me.

All I could think was "Variel???"

As I stood, stunned, a hawk soared over my head, maybe two feet of clearance, close enough that I could make out each wing feather. All without a sound.

I stood there motionless for a good long while.

"Well," I thought, when finally able to shake off the paralysis, "that was an omen if ever I saw one."

I just had no idea what kind of omen it was.

Then, on my lunch break, I stumbled completly and utterly unexpectedly across the website of one of those people who meant a great deal to me and who I thought I had lost. I discovered that this person is doing all right, and is in fact on the verge of great things. And I was filled with a very quiet kind of joy.

"Ah," I thought. "Good omen."

That, in turn, got me thinking about other things.

I realized, once I was back on the floor, that although there are things (like the Hated Other Job) that I wish would change (such as subsituting the Hated Other Job for more hours at the bookstore or museum, or for writing), I am, in point of fact, very happy with the way my life is turning out. I'm working with wonderful people at the bookstore, getting paid to learn tons about the publishing side of writing, to share my love of books with others, to participate in fun conversation, and to read books I love. And I'm sharing my love of science with kids at the museum, and I've yet to find anything to rival the rush you get when you make a connection with a child and know you've made a difference, even a small one, in their lives.

Yes, life isn't perfect. Yes, I'm living dangerously close to the poverty line. Yes, I wish some things would hurry up and take off. But given the opportunity to make all the choices that got me where I am today over again?

I wouldn't change a thing.

( 8:06 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, November 25, 2004
 

The Cuteness... It FILLS Me!

Via Alien Dice, I got turned on to a new webcomic this week, Inverloch.

The author/illustrator is quite talented -- the illustrations are like cinema-quality animation. And the story is actually really enjoyable. But the thing I like most about it is that the main character is so cute it almost hurts. There are some expressions on his face that make me simultaneously want to weep for him and squeal because of how cute he is. Normally, anthropomorphic characters in webcomics tend to annoy me, but I really like this one. I'll definitely be following the comic.

And speaking of cute, here's my baby.

Baby!

And time for her close up!

the tongue thing!

Can you tell I'm enjoying having webspace again? I love it when she does that sticky-out thing with her tongue.

And now, so she doesn't get jealous, here's me with a snake.

Other baby!

The snake's name is Zip, and she's adorable.

( 9:07 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Tuesday, November 23, 2004
 

Hallowe'en Hijinx

At long last, I have a webspace again. Prompted by my continued lockout by Rogers, I now have an SFF.net website, and a newsgroup! Hurrah! Sooner or later I'll figure out how to get sarahjaneelliott.com pointing there, but for now, you have to go there direct.

And now that I have webspace again, I can finally post pictures of Hallowe'en! This is the costume that lost to a girl wrapped in bloody toilet paper with a sign on her chest saying "Carrie's Revenge". Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Welcome to Hogwart's

Note the time turner I made. In about 45 minutes.

Back in time

Deja vu!

And this was the scarf. Because it totally rocks. Even though in this particular photo I look a tad homicidal.

It's actually the warmest scarf ever knitted

Yes, that scarf was made in our living room. Erin totally rocks. It's insanely warm, too.

This is definitely becoming my "hang on to and gradually improve" costume, because I'm really, really proud of it.

Oh, and on a completely different note, this is pretty funny.

( 11:19 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Monday, November 22, 2004
 

And Now For Something Completely Different

Time for a much-needed look at the lighter side of things.

Via Making Light, this ever-growing list of things I will not do when I direct Shakespeare is absolutely hilarious, and made me laugh so hard I cried. Check out my contributions!

And this Strong Bad e-mail has got to be the best thing since Trogdor.

( 1:16 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Tuesday, November 16, 2004
 

Every boy and every gal...

Tuesdays at the bookstore are tons of fun. Not only is the work enjoyable, but the conversation is great, and we tend to get into every subject imaginable.

Of course, it's nearly impossible to avoid the subject of politics, so it gets discussed often, as well as pet peeeves. And one of Chris's biggest pet peeves is how certain American conservatives have twisted the definition of liberal into something nasty. Now as our country is, quite literally, run by Liberals, and I am admittedly fond of living in a happy little bubble, it took me a while to catch on to this. Now, instead of using the actual definition of "liberal", many conservatives use it to mean the opposite of conservative. Thus:

Conservative:
1. One who, or that which, preserves from ruin, injury, innovation, or radical change; a preserver; a conserver.

2. One who desires to maintain existing institutions and customs; also, one who holds moderate opinions in politics; -- opposed to revolutionary or radical.

(Webster's unabridged dictionary)


Liberal:
1. Anti-conservative.

2. One who has no values and desires to destroy existing institutions and customs, driving the country into chaos and godless ruin. An annihilator. A despoiler.


Well, Chris and I propose that the only way to get the real definition of liberal back is to turn the tables. Every time they use "liberal" to mean "anti-conservative", turn it around. "Conservative" now means "anti-liberal". Thus:

Liberal:
1. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

2. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

(American Heritage dictionary)


Conservative:
1. Anti-liberal.

2. Limited in view by traditional attitudes or dogmas. Bigoted. Narrow-minded and resistant to new ideas for progress. Intolerant of the ideas and behaviours of others.


So there it is. If liberals are despoiling reformists, then by that same definition, conservatives are narrow-minded intolerant bigots.

Not very comfortable, is it? So let's stop with the skiffy semantics and start using the real meanings of words again.

( 1:45 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Saturday, November 13, 2004
 

Reality Check

Every so often I like to post a link to her, and I haven't been doing it nearly often enough. For everyone who prides themselves on having intelligent, informed opinions (and for everyone else, as well), go read River's Blog. And when you think you've read enough, keep reading.

( 1:52 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Friday, November 05, 2004
 

So You Want to Be Canadian?

I've decided to refrain from commenting directly on the results of the American mess election. Instead, in light of this, which quite seriously almost killed me, as I was drinking grapefruit juice at the time, and the human body is not designed to cope with grapefruit juice up the nose, I decided to post a public service announcement for all the Americans who are considering moving to Canada. Fellow Canadians, feel free to contribute.

First off, watch this. This will bring you up to speed. Once you've watched it, we can handle the details.

  1. Litigation -- First things first, you'll have to leave your lawyers behind. Up here in Canada, we don't actually sue people for looking at us funny. If you try to bring a case like suing a restaurant because you spilled coffee on yourself up before a Canadian judge, they will throw your case out and everyone will laugh at you for being stupid.

  2. Spelling -- words like "colour" and "honour" and "neighbour" have a "u" in them. I'm afraid you'll just have to get used to it.

  3. Currency -- In general, our money has lots of animals on it, comes in many colours, and as our $1 and $2 denominations are coins, makes you jingle a lot. There are fewer animals on our money now that they have redesigned the bills to foil counterfeiters, but what the new bills lack in wildlife, they make up for in sparkliness.

  4. Colour-coded Politics -- Up here, come election time, the colour coding is backwards from the way it is in the US. Politicians with the blue signs are the scary ones who want to revise the charter of human rights and freedoms. Politicans with the red signs are the not-so-scary-ones who are frelling up the country, but at least acknowledge that love sometimes doesn't cross gender lines. Politicians with the orange-and-green signs (yes, I know, they desperately need a design consultant) are the ones who might possibly be best for the country and the planet if they knew what they hell they were doing, but who make us afraid to field-test that theory. Kind of the political equivalent of that nerdy kid with glasses who will probably one day be the CEO of a major company, but for now is at the bottom of the playground hierarchy and likely to be tragically killed by a dodgeball before he can fulfill his destiny. Then there's the party that used to be Reform, and then became the Conservative Reform Alliance Party, before they realized that spelled CRAP and changed it to the Alliance, which is now some variant of Conservative, and still basically Evil. And there are some others, but few people actually take them seriously. Phew.

  5. The Boss -- Yes, Canada has a queen. HRH Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. But since she's busy governing England and all, she's represented here in her absence by the Governor General of Canada, Adrienne Clarkson. She's also the Commander in Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. Such as they are.

    However, the country is actually run by Parliament. The Head Honcho of the Parliament is the Prime Minister of Canada. At the moment, the Prime Minister is Paul Martin, who was kind of the lesser evil in the last election. Canadians don't vote for the Prime Minister. We vote for the party member in our riding, and the head of the party with the largest number of seats at the end of the election becomes Prime Minister. Though we do actually keep in mind who'd end up running the show when we're voting for the party members in our riding. It can get confusing, but we know who'll be running our country a few hours after the polls close.

  6. Diversity -- There's a lot of this in Canada. Toronto, for example, is the most cosmopolitan city in the world, and we generally think that, as long as what you do doesn't hurt anyone, it's cool, and you should just keep doing what you're doing. There are still people who try to tell you that their way is the best/right/only way to do things, but the general concensus is that these people are jerks.

  7. Hockey -- Even if you can't stand watching competitive sports, you must still hold a soft spot in your heart for hockey. You may not understand, enjoy, or watch it, but that must not prevent you from joining the celebration when Canadians win at it.

  8. Tim Horton's -- Yes, possibly the most Canadian business in history is a coffee place named after a hockey player. Krispy Kreme may have aspirations of outcompeting them, but it's never going to happen. Country Style and Coffee Time are where you go when you can't find a Timmie's.

  9. French -- There are two official languages in Canada -- English and French. Though ideally, everyone in the country should speak both fluently, this is rarely the case. Generally, people in Quebec speak French, people outside of Quebec speak English, people in bits of the maritimes speak both, and everyone knows that "pamplemousse" means "grapefruit". That doesn't prevent all of our packaging from being in both official languages (which is why most Canadians know exactly what you mean by "old fort cheese"), as are our government employees and ideally any staff of a business with a national 1-800 number.

  10. Humour -- we have a lot of this, too, and it's of a particular brand. We enjoy laughing at people, and we're not afraid to laugh at ourselves, either. This is why most Canadians laugh at the movie Canadian Bacon, which just confuses Americans.

  11. Kraft Dinner -- this is what macaroni-and-cheese in a box is called. Any macaroni-and-cheese in a box that is not made by Kraft is known as "fake Kraft Dinner".

  12. Eh -- Contrary to popular belief, not all of us use "eh" in conversation. Many of us don't use it at all. Except when we're making fun of ourselves, in which case touques and backbacon often become involved as well. See "humour".

  13. Please and Thank You -- we use these words a lot. How do you know when to use them? Always. Better safe than sorry. Speaking of which, if you bump into someone, you apologize. Being polite never hurts. This often means that you find yourself apologizing to bike racks, parking meters, and telephone poles, but getting practice at being polite is better than a swift kick in the pants, and I'm sure even parking meters like to be treated courteously once in a while.

  14. Moose and beaver -- not to be confused with moose and squirrel, or the cast of Cucumber. These are our national animals, and even if you've never seen one, you are required by law to be able to recognize one on sight.

  15. The Log Driver's Waltz -- A song that became an NFB short that any young person of a certain age who watched YTV can sing on command. If you wish to become a Canadian citizen, part of your citizenship test will be memorizing this song. Also on the memorization portion of the test are "Land of the Silver Birch" and the theme from Hockey Night in Canada. Bonus credit is given if you can play the Hinterland Who's Who flute riff.

  16. Seasons -- there are two seasons in Canada: Winter, and Patio season.

  17. Guns -- you won't need those here. Given that we're still part of the British Empire (see "The Boss"), we don't actually need to be able to bear arms against the attacking British.

  18. Snow -- many of the vast majority of us who cluster around the border actually see less snow than some Americans. However, being Canadian means you come with genetic encoding that enables you to weather winter better than your neighbours to the south. And with better headgear. If you become a Canadian citizen, you will be injected with a viral transmitter that will re-encode your DNA to include this winter programming, and go on to alter your germ cells so that your children will also be born with snow saviness.

  19. Polkaroo -- If your friend is always talking about someone, and then disappears whenever that someone shows up, and then returns after that someone leaves and complains about always missing him, your friend is Polkaroo. Trust me on this one.
There you have it. Your guide to being Canadian. If you think you can change your lifestyle to accomodate these pointers, an exciting life of poutine and Paul Gross awaits you. If not, you may want to re-evaluate your decision to emigrate, and stay behind to effect change in your own country.

I'd just like to point out that the moose is a very majestic animal...

( 11:44 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Thursday, November 04, 2004
 

Aftermath

Well, two days later, the denial of an interview for my dream job isn't quite as bad as it was. True, there's still much lingering bitterness and disappointment, but no longer the overwhelming miasma of despair that broadsided me on Tuesday.

The Incredibles helped a lot. It's hard to be depressed when you're laughing so hard you can't breathe, and that movie impressed me immensely. Not only is the script and characterization the high standard I've come to expect from Pixar, but they have the action movie thing nailed. So often in action movies these days, there are a lot of stunts with things blowing up, but they come across as pretty staged. They leave an impression that the hero (or superhero, as the case may be) is cool because his (or her) name is on the movie and the camera focuses on them a lot and they're doing lots of jumpy fighty stuff, so they must be cool. There's none of that in The Incredibles. The action scenes are so good that you realize that these people are the focus of the movie because, despite their handicaps and weaknesses, they're really damn good. Go Pixar. I'm totally going to see this movie again. Likely multiple times before the run is over.

Anyway, I do have plans in place, and though the scedule I'm keeping is hard, it's not exactly impossible. There are plans in place to help out with other problems (problems like French classes eliminating the finanical possibility of affording the Russia tour with choir), and as I stated before, I'm not giving up. I'm in this for the long haul. Because it means way too much to me to quit now.

I just have to figure out how to make the current schedule work with the writing again.

( 7:46 PM ) Sarah Jane ~





Wednesday, November 03, 2004
 

Frustration

You know how the universe likes to balance out my life between extreme highs and lows? Well, on Monday I won a phone and passes to The Incredibles, which was fantastic. Since nothing incredibly bad had happened previous to that, I should have been warned.

[ranty frustration]

Yesterday started off great. I was so damn happy, it wasn't even funny. I was bouncing. Then, midway through the day, I got a call on my cell from the Human Resources person at the ROM. Foolish me, I thought a phone call could only be a good thing, so I started quietly bouncing again as I listened to her and trying not to giggle. But that stopped pretty quickly. It wasn't good news. She wanted to call me in person to tell me that my résumé and qualifications were great, but since six people from the gallery had applied for the supervisor job, and I was lowest in seniority, all other things being equal, they weren't even going to interview me.

But all other things aren't equal! the little voice in my head screamed. I can do the job better! But of course, what I actually said was, "Thank you, I appreciate your taking the time to notify me in person."

Meanwhile, the little voice in my head kept screaming.

It's hard to explain how devastating that news was. This was the job. The one I've been waiting for. The one I've been working toward since 2001. The job I want to spend the rest of my life doing. My dream job. I could do the insane hours I'm doing now because I kept telling myself that it'd only be for a little while, and then I'd get four days a week at the museum and be able to quit the third job and make everything okay again. Deluded, perhaps, but it kept me going. I wanted this so badly. I wanted it more than anything I've wanted in the last five years, with the possible exception of getting published. The only thing that came close was the facilitator job I have now, but there's a reason why the supervisor job meant more. It would have meant doing the jobs I love full time, and being able to write again. It was what I needed to make my life work.

This wasn't just a job. This was hope. And yes, the hope is still there, but it's now been moved a few years farther away. And the thing is, I'm not sure I can keep this up for another few years.

And going in there and finding out who got the job is going to be so, so hard. Because I have to face up to the fact that this is the person who can do the job better than me. And they have to be the person who could do the job better than me, because if they can't do the job better than me, and the only reason they have the job is because they're higher up on a sheet of paper than me, I don't think I'll be able to handle it. There's one person I'm pulling for, because she's the only person I can think of who isn't going to dig at me every time I see her name on the schedule. Oh, there are other people who I think could do the job as well as me, but only one who I could deem "better" without reservation. Well, without much reservation, anyway. And if she's not the one who gets the job, there is no justice in the world.

There are a few things I can do to help myself the next time an opening like this comes up. First and foremost is French -- the whole "all things being equal" thing. All things aren't equal if you're bilingual. They really, really like it when you're bilingual. The problem is, I don't really have the $500-per-term for the fluency courses I want to take. And I'm not sure how to get it. But I'll think of something, because I have to.

It's so incredibly frustrating that I love this job so much, and put so much of myself into it, and not even be given a chance when the opportunity for advancement comes up. And yes, logically I can understand the whole seniority thing, but that doesn't mean much when I'm shaking with frustration and disappointment, and no small amount of panic, trying to figure out how I'm going to manage to keep up the pace I've set myself for the next few years without burning out. Because even though I don't know what to do anymore, quitting isn't an option. No matter how hard things are now, it would be a million times worse without the museum.

But I'm so frelling tired.

[/ranty frustration]

( 10:44 AM ) Sarah Jane ~





Sarah Jane Elliott
The often frustrating progress of my life and writing...

(Once known as "The Mystic's Dream", now known as "Dream of the Dolphin", but inclined to change title depending on what's stuck in my head)

Okay, I liked "Confessions of a Post Graduate Pity Whore" a lot more than I thought I would. That line is still hilarious. But I've started writing again, so it's time to go back to before. :o)





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