Another grey day in Seattle draws to a close. It’s JUNE.

In all fairness, I did unwrap the wool scarf I was wearing when I walked outside to get lunch today.

IT’S JUNE.

I’ve reached the end of my tolerance with this bullshit weather and even more so – MUCH more so – with Seattleites who insist on defending it. For fuck sake. 50s and raining in June SUCKS ASS.

I’m a Minnesota girl. I know shitty weather. In January, in February, in OMG March, when it’s grey and gross and FUCKING FREEZING, you bitch about the weather. You can’t change it, it sucks, the show must go on, so you bitch. It’s called coping.

Seattleites seem to take negative comments about the shittastic weather as a personal affront. To paraphrase Dooce, Jesus Fucking Christ, grow some goddamn self esteem already.

Criticism OF THE SKY is not personal.

My criticism of your inability to acknowledge reality, that you may take personally.

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Posted by: jt | June 1, 2010

yet, you’re my favorite work of art

There’s been an upswing in the level of discussion about weight and body issues in my world lately. Amber’s dealing with a frustrating and bizarre weight gain, while my mom has been slowly losing weight over the last year. She’s lost more than 30 pounds and is looking and feeling great. My sister and I are both the heaviest we’ve ever been and our mini family reunion two weeks ago was full of uncomfortable moments when my mom tried not to show her excitement about her hard-earned weight loss and my sister (frequently unsuccessfully) tried to bite back envious comments about it.

I’m incredibly proud of my mom and her impressive self-transformation over the last few months warrants a post of its own. Let me not be distracted from FAT.

It’s such an ugly word, isn’t it?

It seems like kids are almost always either scrawny or chubby, and I was always a round kid. It’s funny, I always thought of myself as fat, even though now, I look at my young cousins who are built the same way I was, and I just think they look like kids. Regardless, I was always the fat girl.

On some levels, in retrospect, it boggles my mind. I remember running a decently timed mile for the goddamned Presidential Physical Fitness Bullshit. I played basketball, rather well even. I rode my bike 8 miles a day one summer, constantly careening back and forth from my friend’s house where there was a pool. How fat could I have possibly been?

I remember kids’ comments though, all through elementary school and middle school. In elementary school they embarrassed me. In middle school I (literally) wanted to die. By high school, the commentary was mostly hushed or just an unspoken judgment and, when it wasn’t, I was capable of defending myself with bitter and angry diatribes.

I can’t help but think that if I’d had the skill to dress better – instead of my unflattering uniform of jeans, polo shirt, flannel shirt – I might have gotten a slightly different response and, by extension, felt differently too. I still remember the day I found the courage to wear the How Swede it is! shirt that clung to every curve of my upper half. I walked into chemistry class and the guy who sat in front of me – who was super-hot and OMG a year older – openly gave me an appraising once-over, smiled appreciatively and nodded, saying, “How Swede it is.”

Call off the feminist watchdogs – that objectification of my hated body made my year.

And, note to self, if ever I have kids, help them dress in clothes that fit.

When I left for college, I was somewhere between a size 16 and 18, which is probably fairly described as “fat” on my 5’5” frame. After two semesters of running up and down 4 flights of stairs multiple times a day (oh, dorms without elevators!) and subsisting almost entirely off of pretzels and peanut butter, I was down 35 pounds. The pants I bought before a spring break trip to New Orleans were an odd size 13 and they were adorable.

I went home after that first year of college and my mom gleefully took me shopping to dress my new body. For the first time, I remember trying on clothes being fun. Things actually looked good. I looked good. One of my guy friends from high school, who hadn’t once actually hit on me through four years of hormone-fueled adolescence suddenly couldn’t keep his hands off me.

I can’t help but wonder how different the next few years of my life might have been if my body had stayed that way.

The problem was, I had subsisted off of pretzels and peanut butter because they were the only things I could eat without feeling sick. I was in constant pain and was missing classes left and right because I couldn’t move. My doctor prescribed Depo Lupron for endometriosis and magically, for the first time in 6 years, I had a day without pain. And then another. And oh my god, screw the side effects, I had my life back.

My doctor told me, flat out, “You will gain weight on this medication.” She was right. In one year, I gained 55 pounds. It was horrifying. No matter what I did – same levels of activity, eating healthy food – the weight just packed itself onto my body. Lupron, as it’s commonly referred to, puts women’s bodies into pseudo-menopausal states, meaning, your body chemistry is that of a menopausal woman, but it will revert to its natural state once you go off the drug.

By the time I was 24, I had gone through menopause twice.

My mom and I started menopause together.

I hope we one day live in a world where no woman can truthfully make those statements. Lupron, for all its magically pain-eliminating properties, gave me heartburn so bad, I once spent an entire night throwing up and writhing in pain. I stared at the clock, desperately waiting for 5:00 a.m. to hit so that I could call my mom and cry to her. The hot flashes were relatively manageable – I stood in choir rehearsal in the barest of tank tops while everyone else wore wool sweaters. The mood swings, which left my friends in stunned silence while I sobbed over miscounting one measure of piano music, were easily mitigated with Zoloft. The clincher though was that the Lupron made me feel like I was dying. It’s difficult to describe, but when I talk to my grandma and she mentions that she doesn’t think she’ll be around for too much longer, I believe her. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re withering up inside and slowly dying away, like a flower in a vase.

I went to my doctor and asked for treatment options that weren’t hormones. She told me there weren’t any and I walked out of her office, never to return.

Six years later, those 55 pounds are still with me. In the last year or so, I’ve gained
about another 20, which is uncharacteristic for me but, in retrospect, not particularly surprising. My weight has been almost completely constant since that horrifying year when my body suddenly went out of my control…and then I moved to Seattle, where every other corner has a great little bakery with buttery croissants, the lattes are made with whole milk, and there’s a local cheese company that is unspeakably bad for me.

I haven’t been eating well. I have earned this weight. But I don’t like it.

I’m hoping that my mom can serve as inspiration for me, and that by making some fairly simple changes, my body will respond. While I’m reasonably active (I walk, on average, 3 miles a day and I do, deliberately, break a sweat for the last half), I’m not feeling particularly healthy. I owe it to myself, and my poor, abused body, to change that.

I think I will.

Posted by: jt | May 18, 2010

when all the colors will bleed into one

A few weeks ago, I made a new friend. He was on a project with several other artists and you might remember him from Tweets such as, “I would ask why they’re always married, but I know the answer to that one. I just haven’t figured out the next question beyond that.” Or, “I realize that this headache is probably *actually* due to a long, bumpy bus ride, but I feel like my brain is just too full.” And, “I know why they’re always married. I know why they’re always married. I know why, fucking A, they’re ALWAYS MARRIED.”

Before we get to my new, married friend, let’s begin with the lesbian driver.

Do I really need to say that I have no issues with lesbians? No, wait. I have one issue with lesbians. They almost always make me feel guilty for not being one. When I saw The Lesbian Driver on Friday, she was a painful stereotype – a little sloppy, no make-up on her ruddy cheeks, short unstyled hair, etc. She was a little too eager to communicate with me, as opposed to the person who had been her primary contact for the previous 48 hours but, okay. Fine. I get it.

Lesbians love me. I don’t know if there’s just a Yay, Gay! pheromone (which would explain a lot) or if it’s just the assumption that fat = lesbian, but…this gets tedious. I think it’s the hope in their eyes. While guys are equally open in broadcasting their interest, they’re a bit more guarded with the hope, which makes them easier to rebuff as necessary.

I digress.

Oh, how The Lesbian Driver’s eyes lit up when she heard I would be joining the group on Saturday for a day trip 2 hours outside of the city and…sure enough. When I got on the bus on Saturday morning, she was tidy, with product in her hair and wearing earrings.

I just wanted to pull her aside and be like, Look. See the rock musician with the warm smile, funky glasses, accent and purple hair? That’s my type. And he comes with parts you don’t have.

But we’ll get to My Indian Rockstar in a minute.

First, there was German drama.

These poor people. The Germans got to Seattle in the middle of the night and the hotel had lost their reservation (which we fixed!). They looked at their itinerary and it was missing the one meeting they wanted most (which we fixed!). To continue our mea culpa for the lost hotel reservation, I spent all of Friday afternoon with them, including a mind-bending hour of full-on, normal speed, professional German, since the person they were meeting with was also – ta-da! – German. By the end of the day on Friday, my brain was complete mush, but I felt like we’d pretty much won them over (fixed!), through the sheer quality of everything but the hotel losing your reservation.

And then, my phone rang.

(Yes, I’m totally channeling Dan Brown. Melodrama Я Us.)

Long story short: The Germans called me, frantic, on Saturday morning (while I was on a bus with My Indian Rockstar, The Lesbian Driver, et al.), to inform me that DC had fucked up their flights and, after 30 minutes on the phone with a travel agent on a Saturday morning, we determined that there were no other options at that point. My lovely, lovely Germans were just screwed. And I was furious.

I don’t mind trouble-shooting. I don’t even mind doing it when it’s absolutely Not My Job, as was certainly the case here. I’m really fucking good at fixing things. What pisses me off is when my people get screwed and my time gets wasted because someone else blatantly failed to do their job. Booking three people on the same flights really isn’t hard. In fact, it’s almost harder to fuck that up.

All I have to do in these situations is get the anger out of my system. I just need to rant for a bit and snarl and then I’m just fine. Unfortunately, ranting and snarling fall pretty high on the list of Things Not to Do In Front of Guests. So the fury simmered.

But there, with me (and The Lesbian Driver, and 8 other people) was this purple-haired beacon of calm. There are very few people on this planet who I have encountered that do this for me. They just emanate comfort and peace and evenness. It’s like being in the eye of a hurricane and, as long as you hold on, you stay there. Everything around you is swirling, but you’re still and secure.

It’s addictive.

My Indian Rockstar had caught my eye the previous night with his obvious enthusiasm for volunteering. He was positively giddy and childlike in his eagerness to do whatever he could to be helpful, all the while just soaking in the experience. We had a tacit exchange of appreciation for each other’s tactics that evening on the way back to the hotel when another member of the delegation began to sing. Loudly. And horribly. This was clearly a common occurrence, given the immediate eye rolling and catcalling from other members of the group.

Singer Man spoke very little English and should not have been on this project. He’s a tremendously talented artist, but his lack of language abilities exacerbated some less-than-pleasant cultural differences…like his tendency to shout in public, belch loudly while eating, and sing horribly.

Horribly.

After a couple of minutes it became clear that we were being treated to Bangladesh’s version of The Song That Never Ends. Singer Man would not be deterred even though, by the fourth or fifth verse, My Indian Rockstar tried to engage him in conversation. That was clearly old hat though and he gave me a small smile and shrugged. I smiled back and raised my eyebrows. He might have done this before, but I was new. Plus, I’m just a bit more shameless.

I moved a few rows on the bus and sat backwards so that I could face Singer Man. I just stared and smiled at him, pretending to enjoy the serenade, until we were between verses and then I pounced, So what is the song about? Granted, I then had to try to decipher the non-English answer, which I believe amounted to something akin to various family members leaving, repeatedly, and coming back, but still…worlds better than the alternative. I will take broken English over broken eardrums any day. And, of course, there was the added bonus that everyone else on the bus was guaranteed to adore me for making it stop. We made it back to the hotel in relative silence and thirteen hours later, I was back on a bus with all of them, trying not to scream about my Germans’ crappy flight situation.

After emphatically not screaming and enjoying a chilly meander through some tulip fields, my Indian Rockstar and I bonded over lunch and proceeded to talk for the next four or five hours. It was typical of this kind of conversation for me – we talked about nothing and everything, the shallowest topics overlaid with philosophical meaning. We just knew each other, whether talking non-profit management, intercultural relations, Northern India, or the Washington countryside flying by.

I asked him my standard, favorite question (shamelessly stolen from a friend) for all my visitors – What’s surprised you the most about your time in the U.S.? – and was surprised myself to watch him struggle to find an answer. I shrugged it off and told him not to worry about it, but he was determined to respond, insisting that he liked the question, because it made him think, which is, of course, why I like it too. I started to offer him the most common refrain I get (sadly, from almost everyone), but thought better of it and instead said, Most people – almost everyone I ask – are surprised by how friendly and welcoming Americans are…but I’m guessing you expect people to be friendly wherever you go. He smiled, and agreed.

One idealist to another – we just knew each other.

Our conversation was punctuated with comfortable pauses and, as we approached downtown Seattle again, he dozed in the weak afternoon sun. I smiled at his purple hair and funky glasses and thought about the pieces of my heart that are scattered across the globe – in Jordan, Brazil, Austria, Pakistan, Bolivia, Morocco, Palestine and, now, India; How I keep giving parts of myself away, but how much I get in return.

The next morning, he got on a plane and flew out of my life, except for the thank you card that came in the mail three days later. And another standing invitation to a country I’ve never seen, with the promise of someday.

I was trying to get something posted about my Northern Indian rock star, because I am totally going to India – like the northern part that is practically China – and I would rather that not come out of left field for the twelve of you who still read here, despite a complete dearth of posting.

Who are you people?

Alas, that post is stuck mid-completion and might just be relegated to my “Ramblings” file. Maybe I should start posting WIPs and you can all pester me to keep writing, since I know you’ll all be shivering with antici…pation.

Since I’m trying to post here somewhat regularly again, you are stuck, my darlings, with rants and ramblings on Minnesota politics. Because y’all, this I can finish!

I was nodding my way through this analysis of the Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota this fall – none other than Mr. Tom I don’t think you can call yourself a freedom-loving American and be a Democrat Emmer. You stay classy, Tom Emmer. I bet you’ll get tons accomplished with the Democratic legislature with that kind of perspective.

I was Little Ms. Agreement throughout the piece until I got to that last paragraph and wished, so desperately wished, I could argue. Unfortunately, there is nothing I agree with more.

“[His defeated Republican opponent] would be upset if we didn’t support Emmer so that’s what we will do. Tomorrow we will wake up, and tomorrow we will be Tom Emmer supporters,” delegate Margaret Flowers of Hastings said Friday. “We are not the DFL.”

I wanted to defend the DFL (Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party – a.k.a. Dems in Minnesota) and say that we aren’t sheep! We’re not just blind supporters! We don’t just follow whomever we’re told without critique.

While I think all of that’s true, it also has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

Last month, the Minnesota DFL endorsed Margaret Anderson Kelliher as their (our!) candidate for governor. It’s exciting. MAK is a great candidate – she’s a true progressive, has successfully brought people together in the legislature to actually move things forward (despite the kind of bipartisanship demonstrated by the Republicans’ choice for “leadership”), and she has that urban/rural cross-cultural experience that’s key for getting elected in Minnesota.

But she still has to defeat two other Dems before she even gets to the Republican.

The Dems do this every freakin’ time in Minnesota and it’s a huge part of why the state that has the longest record of electing Democratic presidents* hasn’t managed to get a DFLer in the governor’s mansion since 1986.

Seriously? There were still two Germanys in 1986. Come. The fuck. On.

Inevitably, in statewide races, the DFL endorses a candidate, and a couple of well-known Democrats say, Oh, that’s nice. But I still wanna run. Me! It’s about me! I’m gonna take this to the primary!

If this tactic of prolonging the internal Democratic debate and subverting the established democratic process was actually good for small-d-democracy and produced a stronger party and stronger candidate, I could potentially accept it.

It doesn’t.

As is evidenced by the DFL last winning the governor’s race the same year that the Challenger blew up.

Stop eating your young.

Also inevitably, the people who insist on running – even though the party they align with has chosen someone else – are rich, white and privileged.

Get over your sense of entitlement.

If you are the best candidate for the job, prove it. Prove it to your party. Get our backing. Get our endorsement. Play by the rules.

RT Rybak, god bless him, ran his heart out. And lost. And threw his support, with no bitterness or conditions, to the woman who won.

Tom Rukavina, gotta love him, ran with the passion we love about the Range. And lost. And threw his support, with no bitterness or conditions, to the woman who won.

These white dudes? They get it. Which is to say, I have nothing against white dudes.

I do, however, have tremendous resentment for anyone who thinks they’re entitled to subverting the democratic process because they can.

Mark Dayton, you’ve done a lot of good for Minnesota. Thank you. But if you wanted to run for governor, you should have run for governor.

Matt Entenza, I love you and it still kills me a little that you had to drop out of the attorney general race four years ago. But if you wanted to run for governor, you should have run for governor.

If either of you really care about Minnesota, you’ll throw your vast financial resources and political clout behind the person that Minnesota DFLers have chosen to be their candidate. You will let her run against the Republicans, instead of against her own party. You will give her – and by extension all of the State of Minnesota – the tools needed to succeed this November. You will put the good of Minnesota ahead of your own interests and egos.

You will stop eating your young.

Or we’ll play this out. Again. She’ll beat you in the August primary. And in doing so, she’ll have fewer resources to use in the general election. And if we lose, like we have for 20 years now, you will have to live with the knowledge that it is, in no small part, your fault. Or, you know, you could just get over yourselves.

And stop.

———

* Follow our lead, people. We know best. Nationally, anyway.

Posted by: jt | April 20, 2010

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Posted by: jt | October 5, 2009

so i knock on the door

A couple of months ago I wrote about my restless nature – how I felt like I was killing time and was ready for change.

Change comes.

About 2 weeks ago I was told that the position I’m here for – the position I’ve been waiting for – is opening up. That conversation happened on a Wednesday. By Saturday, I had realized I don’t want it anymore. See link on restlessness and running my course and being tired – oh, so tired – of the politics in my work. And, if I’m not in Seattle for my job, Why am I here?

So…while I haven’t given notice, I’ve given intention of notice. I’m openly looking for jobs back in Minnesota, where I can tap into networks that I know, and work toward something that combines two of the things that drive me – intercultural relations and political campaigns.

Specialize much? I know.

Pathologically stupid time to be looking to switch careers? I know.

Regardless, it feels right and once again, I’m excited about working toward something. It’s also really sweet that people here are disappointed that I’m skipping town. Awww. [insert Sally Fields moment here]

Again with the change, I’m also batting around ideas about what to do with this space. Maybe a facelift will be enough to remedy my displeasure with The Blog, but… I’m trying to figure out how to more fully engage with fandom online and I can’t see how to do that outside of LiveJournal. Fandom lives, eats, sleeps, breathes in LiveJournal. There’s a bit of a defection going on to Dreamwidth, but the vast majority of the action is still on LJ and seems like it will be for some time to come.

But I don’t wanna support LiveJournal. LiveJournal goes down. LiveJournal limits content. Everybody hates LiveJournal. LiveJournal users hate LiveJournal. Dreamwidth is better and it’s dumb to get on LiveJournal now when there’s a better option…that no one is using yet.

If anyone has any brilliant suggestions on combating that whine, I’m all for it. That said, I think that the OpenID feature in LJ sucks (hard) and it restricts functionality / access to comms, which defeats my purpose of participating more actively. I also can’t really see myself maintaining two spaces in the blogosphere. Hell, I wouldn’t even say this one is maintained. [pouts about the perpetual lack of funds to repair the laptop]

Did I just talk myself into switching from WordPress to LiveJournal? [sigh]

Plus – LiveJournal has that cheesy little feature where you can easily cite a song with every post. So then I wouldn’t have to tell you that the title of this post comes from Rufus Wainwright’s I Don’t Know What It Is, which is just so very much where I am at this point.

At the core of all of this, is more fully integrating who I am.

I’ve run away from my insane love of political campaigns for far too long. Really. I am the girl who took 3 weeks off from work to go back to Minnesota to volunteer full time with the Obama campaign; the girl who has volunteered in every election since 2000 (except 2007 because I was in DC and there weren’t any); the girl who spent the months leading up to the 2004 election working from 9-5 and then volunteering from 5-9 or 10 or 11 or midnight; the girl who made her sister schedule her wedding ceremony around the 2006 election. I thrive on campaigns, twisted as that may seem to the majority.

I’ve also run away from fandom for most of my life and I’m finally to a place where I’m (mostly) over the stigma of being a fangirl and the judgment that comes with that. (Why do you care what I like? Sounds like a personal problem to me.)

Change, change, change… It’s good. And I’m ridiculously – OMG so – excited about my (short) long-term plans. I just need to get back home to Minnesota so I can harass work with the people that I know who can help me make it happen.

~~~~Sends out job-attracting vibes to the Twin Cities~~~~
~~~~you love me St. Paul…you always have~~~~

I am annoyed. Hard. Core. Annoyed.

A couple of weeks ago, I ended up quite inadvertently Twittering an event sponsored by my place of work. Based on that stream of Twitterhea, I ended up with ~10 new followers. Having recently sat through a board (honestly, typo: bored) meeting in which The Powers That Claim To Be decried the dangers of “Tweeter,” I decided to offer a bit of evidence that OH MY GOD, THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE ANTICHRIST AND MIGHT BE A USEFUL MARKETING TOOL.

I deleted the links to my account, edited out any times I had Jesus fucking, and sent the Twitter stream to the relevant people in my office, explaining that I am on Twitter anonymously and will remain as such. I thought I made it quite clear that Twitter is my private space and is not connected to my work life.

Apparently this was not so clear.

One of my co-workers immediately began following me and after a couple of days of thought, I blocked him and locked my account. Since then, I’ve received two – two – requests from my place of work to follow me. Obviously, I’ve declined them both.

I’m also annoyed because I feel like this space is now corrupted, since I link here from my Twitter account.

It’s not that I post anything on the web that would, could, or even should get me fired. Hell, I don’t even have anything that would fit that category at this point. Sure, I have my annoyances with my job, but everyone does and mine aren’t particularly concerning.

I actually sent the link to this blog to my former boss while she was still my boss, mostly because she and I share a sense of humor and I thought she’d enjoy some of what I post here. (And she’s a good friend and I trust her with the personal content here.) I’m not hiding anything. I blog openly enough and my writing style is distinctive enough that, if you know me or much about me, it’s quite clear who I am.

That’s not the point.

This is a place where I try not to censor myself. Much. There’s nothing here that’s detrimental in any capacity, but there’s a lot here that’s personal. I don’t need people I supervise or who supervise me knowing the inner workings of my brain unless I choose to share them.

That’s my issue – this space is non-anonymous on my terms.

Or it was.

We’ll see.

I’ve toyed around with abandoning this space and setting up shop with a blog that I could let my family read as well, which would definitely mean more self-censorship, but it would alleviate the feeling that I’m hiding something from people that I care about…And all of this is pretty moot anyway until I recover from moving and have enough money to, oh, get my laptop fixed so I can write outside of work.

Blarg.

After a truly decadent weekend of road-tripping to Portland with a friend, luxury accommodations (for next to nothing) at a swank hotel, FRONT ROW SEATS at a kickass Coldplay concert (which were completely unexpected), a meandering drive home (including detours to raspberry farms and Mount St. Helens, simply because they were there), and a Sunday of sleep, sleep, and more sleep…coming into the office this morning was not pleasant.

I have a cool job – this is universally accepted. It’s rarely boring, it’s frequently challenging, I’m always learning new things, and I get to meet super-cool people like the First Turkish!First Muslim!First Immigrant!Austrian!Green Party!Member of Parliament. I Heart Effi.

And yet, this morning I had to give myself a five minute pep talk about the fact that I do like my job. I do. Really.

I get that this is totally normal but it doesn’t change the fact that, frankly, I’m kind of bored.  I’m not here to be the Deputy Director of the program I work on, I’m here to be the Director. That was very clear to all parties. It could be more imminent than I think but, at present, there are no signs. (Yes, yes, there is a frank conversation in my future.)

I’m also wondering if I’ve run my course in this program. It’s been five years and I love it – I really do – but loving something doesn’t mean I have to work on it. I’ve had a positive impact on this network – some of it in tangible ways that are very cool to contemplate. That said, I’m tired of the politics. I’m tired of the game when we’re all on the same team.

My restless nature was exacerbated both by hanging out with my friend this weekend (who does what I do and is her own boss) and by reading this interview in Die Presse today. For those who can’t read German (try a Google translation for a very rough version), the aforementioned Austrian MP kicks some serious Freedom Party ass. He’s on message, articulate, and meeting his far-right opponent’s opinions with facts. Yes. This.

Me, restless?

Me, drawn to campaigns?

Me, looking for any excuse to go back to Austria?

All of this led to a GChat this evening with my former boss, who is now “just” an effortless amalgam of mentor/friend/colleague/mom/partner in crime. As ever, she hits the nail on the head and minces no words:

Me: *sigh* I really do like my job, right?

Me: I’m not just killing time before I run off to Austria to work on a campaign?

Her: Um. I think you are killing time…but I don’t know if it’s because you are destined to work on an Austrian campaign…

Me: Wow

Me: So what should I be doing instead of killing time?

Her: Not “instead of;” “in addition to” —

That is the question, isn’t it? “In addition to…”

I’m in the odd position…the uncomfortable and unfamiliar position…the unique position in my life where I am making plans. I don’t plan my life. I go with it and I let things happen. It’s worked remarkably well for me thus far.

For the first time, I’m contemplating a plan. A goal. An objective. A long-term, multi-step process in which, if I’m wrong, I will have wasted time, energy, money, and confidence.

It’s more than a little bit terrifying.

But isn’t that what life’s about?

Posted by: jt | July 5, 2009

soothe me with your words

Given my ridiculous affinity for memes…well, Amber did it first. I blame her.

“This meme asks for a quick list of 15 books you’ve read that will always stick with you – list the first 15 you can recall in 15 minutes. Don’t take too long to think about it.”

In absolutely no order whatsoever…

  • A Murder for Her Majesty – Beth Hilgartner – I read this for the first time when I was nine. The protagonists are eleven, they’re smart, they’re sassy, and they’re self-sufficient. They’re also musicians and it’s historical fiction. And they take down the hypocritical authority figure. It really could have been written just for me.
  • Between the Bridge and the River – Craig Ferguson – I knew Craig was a little smartypants from devotedly following The Late Late Show, but this just proved it – in spades. It’s well-written, beautiful, funny, thoughtful, tongue-in-cheek…it’s Craig. Read it, dammit.
  • The Trial / Der Prozess – Franz Kafka – I was approaching the end of this book and didn’t really feel like I got it until one sentence made the entire novel coalesce for me. This book can be interpreted so many ways and some days, I swear, I am Joseph K. It pains me that Kafka wanted all his writing destroyed upon his death and it pains me that his friend didn’t follow his wishes. But I’m so, so grateful for it.
  • The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera – Reading this book felt like crawling inside the consciousness of the Prague Spring – the elation and jubilation, followed by bitter disappointment and disillusion. I really don’t like the way Kundera treats women (characters), but I can’t bring myself to stop reading him. And I’m yet to see anyone else come close to illustrating the yearning, desperation, and frustration of 20th century Central Europe.
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Richard Bach – I remember the aesthetic of this book and the determination. Mostly, for me, it’s about aesthetics.
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins – Dr. Seuss – This was the longest book we had in our regular cycle of bedtime stories when I was a kid. It was my top choice, to stay up later. In retrospect, it’s all about othering and tolerance and typical Seussian brilliance. Geisel really was a genius.
  • To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee – Somehow I didn’t read this book until I was 27 years old and it pissed me off that I’d been deprived for so long. It might be the most perfect novel written, to date.
  • The Book of Esther – Yes, the one in The Bible – Esther was my hero as a kid. She was a kid, who kicked some serious ass. She outsmarted the adults and the scheming men to, oh, prevent the genocide of her people. Esther fucking rocked and I totally wanted to be like her.
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories – Salman Rushdie – Again, with aesthetics. This book is all about the imagery for me. Yes, it’s Rushdie and there are 5 million layers and references I know I’m missing, but…it’s gorgeous and lush and decadent writing. Glorious.
  • The Giant Jam Sandwich – John Vernon Lord & Janet Burroway – This book has been read aloud so many times by so many members of my family, we can all recite portions of it at will. “‘What can we do?’ And they said, ‘Good question.’ But nobody had a good suggestion. The Bap the baker leaped to his feet, ‘Let’s make something good to eat!'”
  • The Long Winter – Laura Ingalls Wilder – Aesthetics yet again. I would physically get cold while reading this book. The story was so powerful for me – cold, hunger, desperation – I would read it curled up as tightly as I could under my comforter and take the tiniest nibbles off a piece of bread.

Is this more information about me than you should know?

  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen – I kind of hate that this makes the list, but that’s part of why it makes the list. I don’t want to like Jane Austen nearly as much as I do. But I do love Lizzie and, dammit, Mr. Darcy. The bastard. *sigh* Yes, I’m a fucking cliche. Shuddup.
  • The Devil Wears Prada – Lauren Weisberger – I was an executive assistant when this book came out and OH MY GOD THIS WAS MY LIFE. So. Damn. True.
  • Survivor: A Novel – Chuck Palahniuk – This was the first Palahniuk novel I read…and then read them all (to date) in the span of about 3 weeks. By the end, I was sort of ready to slit my wrists. Love this book though. Love them all.
  • The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde – I went into Micawber’s Books after my Palahniuk spree and told them what I’d done. The gayboys looked at me in horror, and led me to Jasper. This book is so hilariously brilliant, fresh, smart, and surprising. Fforde is a bibliophile’s dream and this is one where you know you’re missing countless inside jokes, but it’s totally worth it for the ones you catch.

It’s late. I’m caffeinated from watching fireworks with Palestinians, and I’m getting up at 5am to watch Roger in the Wimbledon final. I am so screwed.

There are days when the universe looks you straight in the face, points and laughs. Hard.

For more than two years, I’ve fought an on-and-off battle with The Powers That Claim To Be about distributing basic, fundamental information in our work. The information is readily available in DC, but seldom makes it outside the beltway. The irony is that the information seldom matters in DC, but can be critical elsewhere.

Naturally.

I’ve written about my increasing frustration and descent into insanity over this a time or two. A couple of months ago, I had a falling out, via email, with a friend who represents TPTCTB and recently we’ve both made quiet gestures toward reconciliation which, unfortunately, means this is going to surface again. There’s really just no way around it.

It’s been on my mind every day lately and I know I need to push forward. There’s no sense in waiting. My anger has subsided; I can deal with this constructively; my persuasive argument is solidifying in my head. The time, alas, is here.

The universe, it seems, agrees.

This afternoon at work, I got a phone call from our Tech Support Guy. He asked if I could have everyone log off of our database, so that he could run a routine update. Annoyed, because there is nothing I had less time for today than a trivial database update, I nonetheless ran around the office to ensure compliance. Minutes later, over the phone, he directed me to the new location of the updated database on our server to test it. When he told me the name of the execute command, I paused.

Really? I asked. I know, he said. It’s different…but I asked [the person who is supposed to know everything about this]. She said that this is the right file.

I stuttered to find words as I opened the database format that is used in DC.

Well, um, it seems to be working, I fumbled. It’s definitely different, but it looks like all of our records are here.

Tech Support Guy was thrilled and told me to be sure to call him if there were any problems and, not to worry, he had a full back-up of our database from before the update.

After two years of advising, explaining, nudging, pleading, begging, ranting – I have mistakenly been handed exactly what I wanted.

Before we get too excited, don’t think this is a solution. I might have this, but there are more than 90 other organizations out there that still don’t.

Regardless.

The irony – the sheer absurdity – still leaves me without words.

Because I’m an ethical fool – and because future updates will probably fuck things up – I’ll report this next week, and they’ll undoubtedly “fix” it so I have access to less information again. Additionally, for this to be an actual solution for anyone – one with any sort of reliability or consistency – the entire way data is entered in DC would have to change.

But still.

Two years of lobbying gets me nowhere. A five minute fuck-up gets me exactly what I would need, maybe 95% of the time.

My life is a French film, I swear. As perpetually implied, I live in Theatre of the Absurd.

You’d think I’d at least get to have coffee with Tom Stoppard.

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