Dream of the Dolphin
Confessions of a Post-Graduate Pity Whore
Mixed MessagesToday was an odd day. I was running the Winter City tables at the ROM, which was great -- extra hours doing more stuff I love doing. Got leads on two new job possibilities (one of which involves actually being able to list "Mad Scientist" on a resume), had a great time.
Said goodbye to Nancy.
Nancy's one of my favourite people at the ROM, and I only learned this morning that today was her last day. She's leaving us, moving on to bigger and better things. She said she'll stop by for social events, and told me that the longer she spent in the gallery today, the more she wondered what she was doing by quitting. And I spent the whole time smiling as best I could while inwardly raging a war to keep myself from crying. I don't know why I connected with Nancy so well -- don't get me wrong, I really like the other people I work with a lot -- but I'd always just be really happy if I saw Nancy was on the scedule, even if we didn't really get to talk all shift.
And that bittersweet afternoon threw me into a bit of a funk, as I started reflecting on certain people. People who, for one reason or another (some I'm clear on, and some I'm still clueless about) felt the need to cut me out of their lives. And I miss them. A lot. Not doing things with them, or exchanging gifts with them, or talking shop with them. Just touching lives across the ether, to say "Hi, how are you doing today?" For no other reason than because we cared.
I miss that.
Life moves onward. It's the one thing we can all count on. We all move forward, and there will come times when we take different branches in the road. It's just that sometimes I wish I could go back and take a different branch -- one that would have kept me closer to the people that I miss. But then I look at where my road has taken me, and how I'm writing again because I've finally managed to get my life together into something I can be proud of, and I think that whatever else, I can't regret what has been, because without it, even the painful parts of it, I may not have gotten where I am.
Which, all said, is way too heady a subject for after midnight, when I need to get up to work in the morning and I don't dare let myself have another slice of Ida Lopez's chocolate bundt cake.
And on the upside, today I got to see the store that will be Bakka's new home in a month's time, and it is beautiful. We have the potential to do very great things with this store, and I can't wait to see what will happen.
I just can't help but wish that certain people would be there to share it with me.
( 1:41 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, January 27, 2005
ReimmersionI've really started hitting Elysium hard now. The goal is to have it out the door by the end of the month -- not sure it's an attainable one, but it's what I'm aiming for. We'll see how it goes when I'm rewriting the ending.
For one reason or another, either with new projects that have taken priority, issues with the house, or That Life Thing, it's been over a year since I last read through this completely. Almost three years since I finished it. This is inexcuseable, and I WILL have it out the door by the end of February, max.
But reading it over after such a long absence is strange. It's been long enough that I can't quite remember what comes next... and I'm actually enjoying the story. Which I'm taking as a good sign.
There are added nuances now, too, knowing what I now know about the future of the story (I may not have been typing, but that doesn't mean I've stopped writing the other two books in the last three years. I just have a massive amount of information in my head now). It's strange, but quite enjoyable. And I'm starting to think this thing really has a chance.
Though if I'm going to get properly back into the voice, I need to watch Pride and Prejudice again. Dang. Six hours of Colin Firth being romantic. Oh, the things I suffer for my art...
( 1:46 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Rambly Musings and Sturgeon's LawI have a confession to make.
Hi, my name is Sarah, and I'm a recovering genre snob.
I've been thinking a lot on the subject of books since I started working at the store. Because I try to read one new book a week in order to review it, I find myself reading books I wouldn't normally pick up if left to my own devices. And over the last year-and-a-bit, I've come to realize a few things.
First, that there's a big difference between A Good Book, and A Book I Like. They're not mutually exclusive, but I've started to realize that there are a number of Really Good Books out there that I don't care for at all. It's hard to put into words, exactly, but I suppose it's sort of like listening to a master of an instrument you hate. Bagpipes, for example, are hated by many (though not me), but it's entirely possible to listen to a piper who's been playing all his life, realize he's REALLY GOOD at what he does, and not like it anyway.
I've been finding books like that recently. Cory Doctorow's a good example. Cory's kind of the quintessential geek -- he makes his living being a professional geek, and being so good at it that they fly him all around the world to teach other people in the ways of geekery, because he's one of the few people who understands it. Cory's primarily a techno-geek (we come in all types. I, for example, tend to be a music and biology geek) and he rants like a geek (if being at the store has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that the geek brain, the kind that is attracted to SF/F in particular, has some sort of hardwiring that leads to ranting. The more geeky you are, the more passionately you rant. I am a HUGE music and biology geek, as anyone who's read my Phantom rant or heard my "birds are dinosaurs" or lemming speeches can attest). And Cory's geekery lends itself very well to writing SF. He writes very, very well. I can see that from an academic standpoint, especially after reading some of the kife that work at the store has exposed me to. They're good books. I just haven't been able to read more than a few pages of them.
Of course, my taste isn't shared by many fen -- Cory continues to kick ass in the review department and sweep the awards. One of the strangest speeches I've ever heard, and one that really defines Cory, was "Cory is unable to accept this award in person tonight, as he's in Geneva addressing the United Nations". It's almost enough to make a person hate a guy. But as Cory also happens to be one of the sweetest guys I know, I'm unable to be anything but thrilled for him.
Another thing I've realized recently is that a book doesn't have to be Great to be one that makes it on my comfort shelf. I've passed over Great books many a time in lieu of books are three things. 1. Books that contain characters I can connect with. 2. Books that don't make me so depressed I want to kill myself (the exceptions to this are PEARL OF THE SOUL OF THE WORLD and SILVER METAL LOVER -- I love them both , but have pages marked at which I must stop reading in order to have a happy ending). 3. Books that are just plain FUN.
And the third thing I've come to realize since working at the store is that I was a genre snob (something I'm attempting to change). There was a time not long ago that I refused to read anything but SF/F. I wouldn't touch mainstream because it bored me, and I wouldn't touch romance because, based on the romances I had read, I thought all romance novels were tripe. And literary fiction was just pretentious garbage.
Fortunately, there were people (Sheila, Chris, and Karina, to name a few) who helped bring me to my senses.
Sturgeon's Law states that 90% of everything is crap. Well, "crud" if you're going to get historically accurate. The problem with my preconceptions is that I'd been reading books in that 90%. I needed people to steer me toward that 10% that was worth reading.
I'm still not terribly keen on mainstream, but I've had my eyes opened to literary fiction. The problem with certain genres (literary and romance, in particular), is that when they're done poorly, they tend to be done really poorly. To the point that reading them is like slowly gouging your eyes out with a spoon. The literary fiction I've been exposed to is proof of that. Now, I realize that to have gotten as famous as they are, Atwood and Huxley must have something going for them. But ever since Grade 12 English, I've felt the overwhelming urge to shower every time I even see BRAVE NEW WORLD.
Enter Chris, with JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL.
Even before starting work at the store, I could be fairly confident that if Chris liked a book, I would too. So when she recommended STRANGE AND NORRELL, I gave it a shot. And I'm extremely glad I did.
It's not on my comfort shelf -- it's way too dense for that. I need my comfort books to be books I can read at 3 in the morning when I can't sleep, or when I'm too sick to get out of bed. It was an odd book, too, in that I kept reading great swathes of it, then setting it aside and reading other books for a while, and then coming back to it. But I also enjoyed it immensely. The academic part of me recognized the great skill that went into it's construction. From a structural standpoint, it's bloody brilliant. And I really adored the characters. Imagine that. Literary fiction I really enjoyed. That, and reading Karina's work, is what convinced me that literary fiction, like everything else, is subject to Sturgeon's Law, and I'd been reading those 9 out of 10.
Romance is another one that has been revealed to me. The romances I'd read previously were enough to convince me that romance was watery crap featuring airheaded dingbats who couldn't go to the bathroom without a big hulking man to carry them to the toilet and back.
Sheila's books were the first in that other 10% that I discovered. And having discovered those, I did the smart thing and went to someone with authority to point me to the rest of the 10%. Romance is a tricky one in that there's so darned much of it that it's really easy to blunder into that unfortunate 90%. But Chris brought me Nora Roberts, Eva Ibbotsen, Meg Cabot, and Jenny Crusie, and I've discovered that when I'm reading the right romances, I love them.
A book can be great and not be my cup of tea. The books that I like aren't necessarily the best books there are. And just as no two people are the same, neither are any two books in a genre, and declaring a distaste for the genre as a whole is like declaring you hate all of humanity because some jerk on the highway cut you off. While SF/F will always be my best friend, I'm starting to learn that other genres are fun to hang around with, too.
My name is Sarah, and I'm a recovering genre snob. And, as the length of this entry proves, I'm also a geek.
And proud of it.
( 11:06 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, January 24, 2005
Challenge ReprisedSo in November, I set a challenge -- write a story, any story, based on this.
I admit, I've not been on top of my game.
Oh, I've started the story. And it's actually going to be the first story offered on my Russia fundraising page. But I've also sworn to take next week and devote it entirely to Elysium. Okay, maybe hammering out a little of the challenge story after midnight, but the days are for Elysium.
So for anyone else doing the challenge --
Extend the deadline to, oh, February 14 (nice date, since it's turning out to be a love story at heart)? Or keep it set at February 1st?
( 1:31 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Alcoholic Newfies from SpaceToday, despite being -- as Michelle's entry in the notes section of today's cash sheet explicitly expressed -- fucking 9th circle of hell cold, and a blizzard to boot, was a whole lot of fun.
It didn't start off that way, of course. It began with me standing in -30 degree wind-chill cold, waiting for the streetcar as no fewer than 5 cars passed me in the opposite direction. It was so cold that my hair, blowing freely, started to freeze as I breathed on it. When the streetcar finally came, I went to brush it away, only to find that I couldn't, as it had frozen into a mesh across my face.
Which is nothing next to Erin, who came home to find that the wind had driven snow through the air conditioner to cover her bedroom floor with six inches of snow. Which wasn't even melting, it was that cold.
But I finally made it to the store, for Elizabeth Bear's signing. Which, given the fact that it was, you know, a blizzard, went pretty well. And it was great fun. Karina, Leah and I decided that this year we were going to flood the Toronto Arts Council with grant applications for genre fiction, so that they'd have to take us seriously. But then we decided that they'd take us more seriously if it were Canlit. So we'd need displaced youth from the prairies, disfunctional families from the maritimes, death, and alcoholism in there somewhere. Which led, through roundabout routes, to the theme anthology "Alcoholic Newfies from Space".
I'll leave the trailer storyboard to Karina. She does it ever so well.
Afterward, Chris, Leah, and I headed out with Elizabeth and some friends to dinner, which aside from being another one of those "I love my job" moments, was cool in that sometimes it's nice to hang around people with similar interests. We ended up sitting in the restaurant just talking until 10 or so, and laughing a lot, but I ended up getting contemplative toward the end.
There's a saying I heard somewhere, about three types of people who go to cons. There are the people who go to network and sell books. There are the people who go to meet authors and attend panels. And there are the people who go to cons to meet up with people who go to cons. And really, that's the fun of it for me. Yes, there are bits of the other two in there as well, but the best part about cons, for me, is meeting up with people who share my interests, with whom I can talk about things like books, and writing, and market trends, and Iron Chef, and octopus sex (what, you think I'm kidding?), and not seem odd or out-of-place.
There are decisions I've made in life that I regret. But sitting at that table, I realized that staying part time so that I can work at the ROM, Bakka, (and yes, the hostel), and write, is not one of them.
And in a karmic turn, I got the news that I'm going back to work at the hostel on January 31. So instead of dealing with EI and six weeks of unemployment, things are working out after all.
( 1:15 AM ) Sarah Jane ~
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Is There An Electrician in the House?Okay, so I have an appeal for all of you out there who are or who know an electrician.
Our computers melted last September because of a power surge, which my computer geek is blaming on a non-grounded outlet. The outlets are two-prong, so I know for a fact that whatever the state of the wiring, the appliance itself cannot be grounded, as there's nothing for the third prong to plug into (I'm currently using a two-to-three prong converter, which I know isn't exactly safe, but there's little else I can do -- I NEED my computer).
We brought up the issue with our landlord who, through use of circuit diagrams, illustrated that the outlets ARE grounded -- he says he made sure of that when he rewired the house to install the baseboard heaters.
I tried to call an electrician to find out how much it would cost to switch the outlet, and he said point blank that the outlet wasn't grounded, because he couldn't see who in his right mind would go to the trouble of grounding an outlet only to put a two-prong interface back on it. Knowing our landlord, though, I can't discount this possibility. He is nothing if not frugal.
Our landlord told us that there's a doohickey (technical term mine) that will plug into an outlet and tell you whether or not it's grounded. I've called five different Home Hardwares so far, and only one had (or knew about) such a device, but it's for a three-prong outlet only.
So does anyone out there know, or know somebody who'll know, a) whether such a device exists for a two-prong outlet, b) where I can get one, and c) anything else I can do to make my computer safer (I just got a UPS, though I don't know how much that'll help when it's plugged into that frelling converter thing)?
( 3:33 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Yeah, I Kinda Figured
( 11:49 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
ChanticrackIt's been a rough week. It started out in the hospital, things went downhill from there. But it ended with getting a new bed, so I'm deliriously happy.
You have to understand that for the last three years, I've been sleeping on a futon that Graeme and Jessie, the previous tenants, had for God-knows-how-long. And now I have a princess bed. It's a beautiful black thing with blue sheets with stars on them, and the alcove where the bed is has been partitioned off by blue sheer curtains.
So midway through last week I discovered that what I thought originally was a two-week layoff was actually going to be six weeks. Or more. I went to apply for EI yesterday, only to discover that once I went home and applied online (they won't actually do in-person applications anymore -- if you don't have a computer at home, you use one of their workstations) it would be four to six weeks before they let me know if I'm even eligible to receive anything.
As you may have guessed, I was in a bit of a funk.
So I formulated a plan. I went to Starbucks and got a Chantico. For those who haven't tried it yet, Chantico is the new crack. Seriously. It's like drinking fudge before it sets, and is soooooo good. I know that most men (and some women) just don't get the chocolate thing, but for those who do, you understand. So I brought my Chanticrack home, went up to my new bed, closed the curtains, and read my new Meg Cabot book in what I'm coming to think of as my princess tent.
And you know, it really made me feel a lot better.
( 1:50 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Best thing I've read all day...Her warmth spread all over Faramir’s body, leaving him as defenseless as a beetle.
Update: No, no, I lied. this is:
"Welcome to the Leaky Cauldron, Rayyne," Mr. weasley said. they had done a bondage of sorts on the ride over, so Rayyne wasn't so edgy anymore.
( 1:36 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Movie Meme-- Pick one dozen movies that are ones that you have special feelings about.
-- Pick a few lines of dialogue.
-- As people guess the film, strike out that entry.
-- After the film is guessed, explain why that movie made the list.
( 11:36 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, January 10, 2005
Laughs, Injustice, and a Needle in the StomachThat pretty much sums up my night.
So last night, without warning, at about 9 p.m., right after Extreme Makeover Home Edition, I started to feel sick. Really, terribly, sick. So sick that I headed to the bathroom, sure that something nasty was about to happen.
It didn't. But the pain in my stomach just kept getting worse (I imagine it's what all the alien victims felt like just before the alien ripped out of their chests, only my facehugger overshot and planted its embryo in my stomach), so I did something stupid and made it happen. For those of you at home, don't ever, EVER do this. Oh, it made the pain better for a while, but the emotional trauma was SO not worth it. Anyway, with the pain eased, I tried to go to bed. Then it got worse again. So at 5:30 in the morning, since I wasn't sleeping anyway, I went to the hospital.
Five hours, three blood tests, and one urine sample later, they said I had a really nasty bug and I was fine. They were just going to give me a general antibiotic because my white blood cells were up, and something to ease the pain.
Great, I thought, pain free is good.
So my nurse, Julie, comes back in with two syringes and two vials. "Okay," says Julie, "this one goes in your arm, and I'm just gonna get you to lie back so I can inject the morphine into your stomach."
You're putting the who in my WHAT now???
Oh, she said it wasn't going to hurt as much as the arm shot. She lied like a rug. But then the morphine made me feel all wobbly and made the stomach pain stop, so I forgave her.
The day's pretty much shot though.
So I encourage everyone else to go out and do something productive. Like spread the news about this piece of nastiness to everyone you can find, and follow the instructions that tell you what you can do about it. Basically, the Representative from Virginia wants to introduce a bill that will subject mothers to a year in jail and fine if they have a miscarriage and fail to report it to the police.
I don't care what your political affiliation is, this is just sick.
And if that's more depression your don't need on a Monday, you can link your blog, spread the word, write your letters if you live in Virginia, and then go laugh yourself silly at some of the worst moments in Harry Potter fanfic. Ohhh, I laughed till I cried.
( 2:27 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Friday, January 07, 2005
What's "I have to pee" in Russian?So it's official. March 12-26, 2006, we'll be going to Russia on a 12 day tour of St. Petersburg and Moscow, which will include at least four concerts.
It's part of a festival much like the St. Petersburg International Arts Festival, only it will include Moscow as well (here's a sample itinerary from the same company, only our tour is a bit longer and doesn't start from Vancouver). But check out this picture of one of the venues we'll be playing. It's, like, three times the size of our church!
(And to alleviate some confusion, no, we're not a chuch choir. We're a community choir that practices and performs in a church).
The cost: $2595. Add in spending money, and I'm going to need $3000. I currently have $100 in the Russia fund. And that doesn't take into account the fact that for two (or three, depending) weeks, I'm not going to be getting paid at any of my jobs (part-timer = no vacation time). Oy.
And looking at the itinerary, I realized that I'm SO going to need new clothes! And they don't say whether or not we'll have access to laundry -- am I going to have to wear the same outfit for all the concerts without washing it?
But I'm so, SO excited about this. It really is chance-of-a-lifetime stuff. Erin and I are thinking about maybe extending our stay and going to London to see Phantom in the West End. Or maybe to Paris to visit Jihane.
But it's going to be great. I'm going to be SO broke. But it's going to be great.
( 1:10 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Lilly and I...In Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries, Mia and Lilly like to get their kicks by going down to the park to watch the undercover cops bust the drug dealers.
Yesterday a man in a perfectly nondescript black jacket and hat approached the counter at the store and said "I'm Sergeant Miller from the 51st Precinct, and I need to keep an eye on the drug dealers across the street. Don't get weirded out when I start talking into my sleeve."
"All right," said Chris, and then turned to me and mouthed "cool!"
Sure enough, he started talking into his sleeve shortly afterward. No, he wasn't crazy -- you could hear very faint responses coming from his earpiece. It wasn't long before his partner (similarly nondescript, but with the addition of headphones) entered and the two of them started indulging in conversation with their sleeves along the lines of: "Cathy's already inside? John, I need you in the alley in case anyone tries to get away out back. No, we're in the bookstore across the road, we can run over if there's trouble. Are those just ordinary street urchins? 10-4."
Chris whispered "Lilly and I like to watch the undercover cops bust the drug dealers."
It was really, really hard to stop myself from laughing.
( 3:36 PM ) Sarah Jane ~
Monday, January 03, 2005
Happy New Year!Happy new year, everyone. I hope the year is beginning well for all of you.
Spent a quiet New Year's Eve at home with Karina, Jana, and the sibling. There was much food, merrymaking, and experimentation with mulled wine (one of the three forms of alcohol I can stand, but done well, is actually quite enjoyable). It wasn't anywhere close to the lovely stuff the ROM provided at our Christmas party two years ago, but it was pretty darned good, and dilute so there wasn't even any serious intoxication going on (I've always avoided getting drunk -- I come from a very Scottish family and so was taught very early how incredibly stupid getting drunk can make you. Plus, I've got a chronic illness -- I get sick enough inadvertently, so I try to avoid making myself sick deliberately).
It was, like this Christmas, one of the best New Year's Eves I've had in a long, long time. And the difference again was being surrounded by people whom I love, and who love me.
Of course, there have been hiccups already. Our family outing to the museum was cut short yesterday because the sibling dropped the trunk on his head and gave himself a concussion (he'll be fine). And the job thing is looking to be mighty interesting.
But this is also a year that holds so much promise for good things, for finally getting my life the way I want it. I'm on the track now, but this could be the year where the wheels finally lock into the grooves and life really takes off. There is great potential here.
I'm currently sitting here trying once again to get an answer as to whether or not CBS (Blood Services, not the television station) will want my blood with the von Willebrand's disease in it, or whether I should just try to find some other way to help out. Okay, okay, I was very heavily influenced by last night's Extreme Makeover Home Edition (stop laughing), but I really want to give blood.
Kinda scared of going alone, though. Anybody feel like coming with me?
( 1:10 PM ) Sarah Jane ~