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I suppose it’s only proper that I don’t know how to begin this post – I’m about to start a new part of my life and I don’t really know how to begin that, either. I just know that at 8am Monday morning, I will need to be awake(!), showered(!!), caffeinated (necessary, really) and functional(!!!) in a location roughly 30 minutes from where I’m sitting right now. Then I will shadow someone I’ve never met during her morning rounds before heading off to a wine seminar in the afternoon.

Thus begins my new job, 33 or so hours after I leave my old one. I’m seriously overwhelmed.

At least I won’t miss a paycheck.

The new job is everything I could really hope for right now – it’s in a field I like, sounds like a ton of fun, has totally normal adult hours, normal adult really amazing benefits, weekends off, business cards, responsibilities, a 401(k), all that sort of stuff that seems semi-standard for middle class Americana.* I know plenty of people who, at my age, already have all of these things, have had them for so long that these things are totally normal life.

For me, however, this kind of life has always seemed far away from my own. When I was in my early twenties, active avoidance of business cards and the associated lifestyle (and income, apparently) made up a larger portion of my decision to go to grad school than I’d care to admit to then or now. By my later twenties, weighted down with years of grad school and nothing to show for it besides an MA, panic disorder and an inability to sleep, things like business cards and an 8-5 job with actual responsibilities felt out of reach, like I’d somehow screwed everything up and would never get to that level. When the only job I could get after quitting my Ph.D. was at a liquor store, those fears felt like they’d been confirmed.

The liquor store job, however, turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me after grad school. It was low-stress, mostly fun, and filled with happy, well-adjusted, relaxed people. Work involved very little of me sitting on my butt at a computer, meaning that I’d get home eager to sit and write. Most of the time I spent there was in full workout mode, lifting 30 packs of awful beer or cases of wine or spirits or whatever else and carting them all over the place; the rest of the time was spent dealing with customers, an experience that was alternately good and harrowing. I have stories, but I’ll probably never share them. The good people are wonderful but boring; the nutcases I’d rather never think about again.

The best thing some days was that we got to drink on the job. It was almost mandated sometimes, when sales reps would trot in, bags of wine bottles slung on their shoulders, and we’d adjourn to the tasting area to rip through 3-10 wines, discuss, and move on with the day. I decided I wanted that job almost immediately.

That’s the job I start Monday. Even better: I get to work with beer as well as wine.

I’m still not sure how it happened. I mean, I know how it happened: I applied, they looked at my resume, read my beer/wine blog, interviewed me, hired me. But still, knowing how rootless and terrified I felt this time a year ago, I’m not sure how it happened. I know that that person – the rootless, terrified one – and I are the same. We share the same memories, we know the same people, we like the same drinks. But where the rootless, terrified person looked at herself and saw a string of failure, I feel pretty good right now.

I cannot believe that this is my life.

I should be asleep right now. I am so, so screwed when Monday morning comes around and I’m supposed to be functional earlier than I’ve tried to wake up in months. My sleep schedule has been set to “adolescent on summer break” for so long that I have no idea how to break it. I tried earlier this week. It, um, didn’t last. It’s 1:43am and I’m typing instead of sleeping.

In other “I am not yet a motherfucking adult” woes, I’m 31 and I have zero professional wardrobe, because I haven’t yet needed one. In grad school and teaching, I wore jeans with whatever shirt and a pair of Chucks or clunky heels. At the liquor store, I wore older jeans with whatever shirt and Chucks. I haven’t needed “work clothes” since my tellering days in college. Now I find myself in dire need of something professional and no clue how to do this.** My attempts to begin to put one together today involved Ann Taylor’s sales rack and three and a half hours in other stores. Net acquisition: one pair of capris to wear on my first day. I’ll wear them with cognac heels and _______ shirt. Probably the shirt I wore to the interview, because I haven’t the foggiest what else I have that I could wear. At the same time, I’m laughing at myself that clothing is my biggest worry right now. It feels amazing.

Clothing woes aside, I’m waiting for the moment when I can look at my job and my life and not feel stunned. Maybe someday I’ll even settle down enough to write some more.

Life is strange and oddly beautiful sometimes.

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*Or at least used to be standard. After the economic crash, it’s hard to say anything’s standard anymore. Especially for people in their 20s and early 30s.
**I *would* have to end up at the distributor whose reps never wear jeans. The other guys almost always do. We don’t. I’m actually good with this – the reps at my new company always look fabulous – but this is not helpful in a ‘what to wear’ sense. That said, it is truly neat to be in a field where looking fashionable is seen as desirable. That wasn’t always the case in academics – good fashion sense was sometimes taken as a sign that the fashionable person was not living a proper ‘life of the mind.’

Note: I’m categorizing this under “reading” because I feel like I’m reading my life right now rather than living it. I’m not sure how to live it yet.

Procrastinators, unite

A+ to this blog, wherein the writer details bits of her life that happen while she’s *not* doing what she’s supposed to be doing. The task-to-be-procrastinated-upon is the turning of her dissertation into a book. While part of me would like to snap a whip at her so that she can get it done (so that I can therefore in turn buy, submit for her autograph, and then read it), part of me is thrilled with the happy at the concept of seeing how someone else goes upon her own version of procrastination.

So, once more, in case you procrastinated on reading it the first time, here’s a link that you should click.

On Bin Laden’s Death

What follows is a collection of random thoughts about Bin Laden’s death, in hopes that I can finally turn them off long enough to get some sleep.

I feel strange, but not alone, that my first coherent thought after hearing about Bin Laden’s death was to wonder how much it would help Obama’s re-election chances. I say first coherent thought because my first-first thought was something along the lines of HOLYSHITBALLS.

I’ve seen a bunch of footage of people celebrating in the streets of Manhattan and DC, and a bunch of people on the internet get pissy with those people. I figure the internet-pissy people can shove off for a while. Yes, it’s tasteless to celebrate someone’s death. At the same time, I don’t know that I believe that the people in the streets are celebrating so much as mourning in a particular way – not mourning Bin Laden’s death (that, I think, is probably difficult for the best of the best of us), but mourning the people who lost their lives because of Bin Laden’s actions, and because the events today brought all those feelings up again. I hope Bin Laden’s death (I am getting tired of typing that phrase) will give some people a better sense of closure than they’ve ever been able to have post-9/11. And, well, I hope they can sleep a bit better now.

I feel fairly disgusted that, as according to this Reuters Business article, oil has already dropped and the dollar has already risen based on the news – like if I needed any more proof that our whole economy is a collection of smoke and mirrors, this sealed it.

I remember driving by Ground Zero a month or so before Brownie and I moved out to KS. We saw it at night, two giant holes in the ground surrounded by fences with bits of flag and flowers and tiny memorials, all brightly lit by harsh construction lighting. It felt haunted. I can’t imagine living, seeing that every day, and not feeling at least some measure of grim satisfaction knowing that the guy who started the whole thing is finally dead.

I wonder, now that Bin Laden is dead, who the History Channel will use for the role of “Third Antichrist” in their documentaries about Nostradamus and whomever else. The triumvirate has been Napoleon/Hitler/Bin Laden for so long, I can’t quite picture it being anyone else. I imagine the writing staff there is going to be busy.

And not finally, but maybe finally for the moment, I can’t feel happy myself that he’s dead. But I’m emphatically not sad about it either. I don’t know how to feel – his death feels completely abstract to me, but it’s abstract in a way that I’m processing emotionally more than logically. At the same time, the emotions aren’t settling into anything identifiable. So I feel like I’m spinning, and it’s frustrating.

With that, I’ll attempt some sleep. My sincere and heartfelt thanks to the troops who do their jobs so well.

ETA: One more thought: it is repulsive that “Jack Bauer” is trending on twitter right now. Seriously, people, this shit isn’t a television show. Although, as Simon Pegg pointed out (also on twitter), some of the more excitable parts of the media are acting like we just won a particularly difficult video game.

Handstands at 31

Yesterday I did a handstand at work and it was awesome.

The handstand was because I had just written up a review for New Belgium’s Somersault, and the owner decided we should try to get a picture of me doing a somersault to go with the review. The thing is, though, if you’ve ever seen a somersault in action, then you know it’s not a photogenic position. So I didn’t want to do that. I did think I could maybe work with the upside down idea, however, which is how I ended up doing a handstand over a case of beer, my feet up against the cooler doors for balance, my hair pooling on top of the beer.

I hadn’t done a handstand in something like 20 years and wasn’t sure I was going to pull one off without falling on my head. At the same time, I do work out a lot, I do still have good balance, lots of upper body strength, that sort of thing. So I tried it. And I got up. Four times.

Upshot: I feel oddly kickass about myself right now, like I could do anything, simply because I could do a handstand yesterday. It’s funny what raises my self-esteem.

Right. So last night, I got to playing around on iTunes (for reasons which are beyond me because I really shouldn’t be playing around on iTunes until I get my paycheck deposited – due to the stupidest ATM on the planet, I am unable to do so until Monday). Last night, however, complete and total lack of fundage to play did not deter me from playing on iTunes (merely from purchasing). I think iTunes needs a wishlist/bookmark feature, seriously. If it has one and someone could point me in that direction, that would be fabulous.

The upshot of my playing is that I now have a list of something like 10 albums I’d like to download, some of which are Beirut (see my accordians post from a week ago), others of which are by Scottish bands whose singers have accents so thick that I can barely understand what they’re singing half the time (which may actually be part of the charm).

So, in hopes of being not the only person stateside who has ever heard of these two bands, go find The Twilight Sad and  Frightened Rabbit. Frightened Rabbit has an album called the Winter of Mixed Drinks. I mean. Whoever titled that deserves a million dollars and a pony.* Also, brilliant lyrics. The Twilight Sad mostly makes upset, angsty walls of noise (i.e., they’re shoegazers). Which, again, million dollars and a pony. Or at least a thank you for taking the parts of Sonic Youth I’ve always liked while dumping the bits I wasn’t so fond of.**

Bonus points: the Twilight Sad station on Pandora has already played Pavement and Morrissey.

Anyway, so that’s what I’ve been doing when I haven’t been at work or writing. I’ve mostly been at work.

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*or maybe not a pony. I’m not sure if a pony would fit into a mixed drinks sort of lifestyle.
**Admittedly, Sonic Youth is a better band overall. That said, I’m not excited about Sonic Youth right now, and I *am* excited about The Twilight Sad.

This is for everyone

This is a video of a wee tiny penguin. The Amazing Dr. B (or her equally amazing husband) found it:

You’re welcome.

I’ve very recently become sort of obsessed with the accordion.

Unironically, even. Seriously, I like it. And this disturbs me, because accordion is not my usual soundtrack of angst-ridden guitar- and piano-laden lo-fi post-punk alternative-folk-rock-pop.* It’s not even that I refuse to venture outside my standard musical parameters,** it’s just that I very rarely see any reason to bother. I don’t often get to choose my soundtrack any more, so when I do, I’m going with something I like.

The reason I’m not in total control of my soundtrack is because of work. If you were following along during the holiday season, you may know I work in retail. You may even know that I’m one of the lucky retail types, in that I don’t hate my job. I actually shamelessly love most of it.

I don’t love the music.

The music at work is generally Variations On a Theme of Smooth Jazz, also known as Jazz of the Type Wherein Every Song Is Named “This Was For a Paycheck.” It’s that hideous, random, nonsensical and emotionless sort of jazz, the type piped in overhead in order to make sure it isn’t completely silent in the store.*** It’s the type of music so awful that the occasional wine rep will come in and, on a slow day, ask me how I can stand it. I can’t. That conversation is usually a short one.

The thing is, everyone at work except the store owner hates the Smooth Jazz. It even came up at our most recent staff meeting, the general grumbling being such that the manager finally told us we could listen to Not-Smooth Jazz when the owner wasn’t around, so long as Not-Smooth Jazz was free of swear words, not too loud, and not distracting to the customers. Since then, we’ve listened mostly to Smooth Jazz, Contemporary Piano (read: elevator music), Blues, and, very occasionally, Classic Rock.  And sometimes, if I get lucky and no one else is around who cares, Folk Rock or “Coffeehouse Blend.”+

What I’ve discovered in the past month is that, so long as we’re not listening to Smooth Jazz, I pretty much adore whatever it is we *are* listening to. This is where the accordion comes in.

See, one day recently we put on some kind of film score station. We spent the afternoon happily stocking bottles and playing “name that film” and generally having a whee of a good time. The station was fun – it was playing everything from Forrest Gump to Lonesome Dove to the Godfather and beyond. And then it threw in the accordion waltz from Amelie, a piece of music I’ve always loved because I feel like it catches the whole tone of the film perfectly. Plus, I adore that film.

So I think those are the first two causes of the accordion thing: being so sick of Smooth Jazz as to glomb onto anything else, and hearing a piece of accordion music that I already liked due to happy associations.

Then, last Monday, I was standing behind the counter psyching myself up to gather the trash, when this song, Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) by Beirut, came on the Folk Rock station I’d managed to turn on. I was listening, thinking that I sort of liked it, when a customer came in. She made it three steps in the door when her eyes went wide and she asked me if we were listening to my iPod or radio. When I told her it was radio, she asked me if I liked the song. I told her I thought I sort of did. This was enough for her to tell me who the band was, that she adored them, and that she’d bought herself an accordion on eBay++ in hopes of learning how to play most of Beirut’s back catalog of songs. Then she paid for her wine and left. I listened to the last minute or so of the song, thinking that, all told, I did rather like it. The accordion line was nice.

When I got home, I listened to the song again.  And then downloaded it. And then downloaded more Beirut. And then set up a Beirut station on Pandora. And then listened to nothing else.

Translation: in the past 72 hours, I’ve heard a fuckton of accordion. And I like it. A LOT.

Moral of the story: if you want to break someone with extremely narrow music taste, make them listen to 30 hours+ a week worth of Smooth Jazz. Eventually they’ll learn to like ANYTHING else.

Finally: too much retail does weird things to a person.

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*translate this to “Radiohead” and “bands that sort of try to sound like Radiohead, or at least count Radiohead among their biggest influences”

**which could probably also be described as “narrow” or “pretentious”

***We’ve had silence in there before – it’s honestly preferable to the Smooth Jazz, although I think the silence may be a bit awkward for the customers. It does get loud, the silence.

+Where the hell do they come up with these names?

++When the next generation of kids gets to school and is incapable of dealing with capitalization rules, I figure we have things like iPods and iPads and eBay to blame. Honestly, what the hell is up with brands that have to make their second letter, rather than their first, the capital letter?

Fun with comic strips

Because you should see this too:

3eanuts is Peanuts – like Linus and Snoopy and Charlie Brown and the gang – with the last panel removed. That’s it.

It’s the same sort of idea as Garfield Without Garfield – remove the single thing that makes the strip ostensibly funny, and you’re left with a bleak picture of despair.

The essential difference: Garfield Without Garfield shows that Jon Arbuckle is at least halfway crazy. Like, Crazy Cat Lady crazy with a gender switch, perhaps a bit younger (I gather Jon is maybe in his 20s? Maybe?). 3eanuts is all characters pointing out the essential horrible basis of life itself - with the last panel gone (where there’s apparently a joke made to make the preceding panels somehow lighthearted?), it’s all bad. Like, sad in the type of way that it’s mindblowing that the Peanuts ever made it onto the comics pages, much less became a cast of well-beloved characters known by pretty much everyone in the Northwestern quadrant of the planet.

OMG YOU GUISE IT’S IN 3-D WHY

See, I already knew I had issues with them doing a Three Musketeers film, because I just can’t see how they’re going to do it. I know full well they can’t do the whole book and get everything. That said, I agree with what *seems* to be their chosen route: i.e., screw the politics and intrigue and just hit the ACTION! ADVENTURE! part, because frankly, that’s what’s likely to translate best into a film.

But. Like. They’re talking of an apocalypse? They have super-wonky ninja weapons?* And everyone looks miserable?

The only part of the trailer that seems to have caught the tone of the book right is Athos’ parting shot about it being an off day. Beyond that, I’m terrified that it’s going to be a giant unfunny no-good very bad mess of sad.

AND IT’S  IN 3-D.

*unless that wonkyass thing in the first moment is a poinard? Seriously, there’s some crazy knife they talk about a lot, but I never pictured it quite like that.

Dude. ‘Sup.

So, like, I just realized how long it’s been since I posted, and, um, I promise I’m not dead. I’m exhausted, but I’m not dead.

Mostly what’s happened is that I’ve been pretty much making good on the idea of making myself write a bunch during Lent (in hopes of making this into a for-realzy daily habit), and in making myself write a bunch, I’ve (ironically, I suppose) not been writing here. This sort of does make sense – this is my procrastination blog, after all, and I really haven’ t  been procrastinating much.

My other problem is that I’ve been working more (which isn’t really that much of a problem, given it gives me a bit more money to play with), and so I flat haven’t had as much time for anything. I feel like I’m something like three weeks behind on my online life, like I need to blog more (especially on the alcohol blog), catch up on my comic reading, and spend a bit more time with my internet friends. At the moment, however, no can do. Too many nights spent working until 11 (like four per week)(seriously, I like my job, but that’s a fuckton of working really damn late).

So anyway, yeah. That’s where I’ve been. When I’m coherent and not thinking MUST WRITE NOVEL STUFF NOW, I’ll dig up the brand-spanking new teaser trailer for the Three Musketeers for y’all. I haven’t seen it yet, and therefore promise to hold off until I can spew my reaction here.

Until then, ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK! :D

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