Thumbs up


Today I called in "sick" to work in order to go to an interview for another job, and also get a lot of shit done that I had been putting off for ages because this cleaning gig leaves me so exhausted at the end of the day and leaves me no time during the work day to get anything meaningful done. So here is a list of things I did today to make me feel better about my dishonesty:

-Made a dentist appointment, which involved changing my address with CareOregon, re-enrolling for said health insurance, and getting both my dental clinic and my PCP reassigned now that I live in Washington county. So that took longer than expected.
-Finally got my car on Craig's list 3 months after I stopped driving it, which includrd hoing out to take Current pictures.
-Printed, assembled, and mailed my application and tax/paystub information for Income Based Repayment of my loans.
-Made an overdue payment on a parking ticket that could only br made over the phone betwern 8:30 and 10:30 am or 1:30 and 4:30 pm.
-Made an appointment to renew my birth control prescription.
-Went to that job interview and I think it went REALLY WELL. Like seriously. The people liked me, the guy who would be my over-boss has a very similar work and education background that I do, and ny direct supervisor seemed like someone I could have a lot in common with. I can 100% do the job and there's growth potential and the pay starts at $3/hr more than I have ever made in my life. I am trying and failing not to get my hopes up to high but I am already fantisizing about turning in my apron and binder like PEACE MOTHERFUCKERS.

There would be downsides. It's even farthrr away from where I am now than my current job (though not by too much, and making money like that Zac and I could move closer in a LOT quicker). And it would mean working a LOT of hours. They're all on mandatory overtime and eorking a lot of 6-day weeks right now. So...goodbye Saturday I guess. Which would suck. A lot.

But an actual career-starting job, paying an actual adult living wage. Worth it? We'll see. But... Probably.

Fingers crossed?
Radio dance

In which I make a big deposit in the karma bank.....

Today, I did a good thing, and couldn't figure out how to condense it into a facebook status, so I thought I'd come here. (Hi Livejournal. How's it going? No, I haven't been ignoring you, I've... just been busy...)

Anyway, today was payday, and on payday, I go to the US Bank in St John's to deposit my check, and then across the street to the Burgerville. Today, when I walked into the burgerville, there were a bunch of kids hanging around -- kids and adults with nametags reading "Stanton Elementary PTA." So, ok, I assumed they were on a field trip and just hoped they'd be quiet, because my head hurt.

But when my food came to my table, it was carried by a 10-year old. Ok... some sort of job experience thing? A few minutes later, another kid came around with a jar and asked, in the sweetest of voices and all as one word, "Would you like to make a donation for our overnight field trip?"

How could I say no? All I had was some pocket change, but she thanked me with a grin.

A few minutes later, I heard her chatting with one of the grown-ups, asking questions about the field trip. I heard him saying that there were boy's cabins and girl's cabins, about the counselors, ("What do you mean by counselor?" "Oh, they're high school and college students who work at the camps and lead all the skits and songs and campfires...") and that "In two years in sixth grade, you'll get to go to Outdoor School, and it might be at the same camp."

Well wasn't that something. It obviously wasn't for ODS, they were 4th graders, but these kids were fundraising for a camp outing. I know how important those experiences were for me growing up. I know how much I cherished the opportunity to be among the trees, and I know that Outdoor School and its corollaries are the first times these kids will have that experience. And all I had given was 75 cents? This was worth more to me than that.

So after I finished my burger, I went outside, and had a minor personal crisis about whether or not to do what I'd planned to do. Maybe it wasn't necessary? Maybe they wouldn't understand where I was coming from? Maybe they didn't really need the money, this was just a good experience in fundraising for the kids? So I dithered. But this was OUTDOOR SCHOOL. Or something close enough to it. And why was I conflicted, really? These programs are poorly funded. They almost certainly DO need the money. And this was probably a St John's grade school, not the richest neighborhood in town.

So I went back to the ATM, got a $20 bill, and went back to the burgerville.

And they WERE appreciative. I had a nice chat with one of the leader grown-ups, asked which camp they were going to, and it turns out it was my old Student Leader camp, Arra Wanna (not that I have ENTIRELY fond memories of the place, but I like to pretend I do). He thanked me several times, told me it really WAS appreciated, and the way the kids' eyes widened when they saw that I was giving them a $20 was enough to prove it.

(Truth be told, I could have given more. I spent $80 on Hank Green tickets, his album, and a T-shirt just the other day, and I feel so much more strongly about ODS than I do about one night of musical nerdy fun. But $20 felt like a reasonable donation. $40 would have been overkill.)

But it felt SO GOOD to do the right thing. I mean it, SO GOOD. Paying it forward.
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On Fire!

Writing Research and also Wall Street

I'm finding it surprising just how fascinating I'm finding socioeconomics. I'm serious. It sorta began in CrashCourse, but now I'm working it into my nanonovel and MAN. I mean, ok, I'm starting with the obvious, characters in the late 1920's suffering the consequences of corruption and excess and everything goes horribly wrong on October 28th 1929, but it's useful, alright? Given the current economic climate, I feel like having my characters drive off hopefully into the sunset to seek their dreams will have a particular poignancy with the historical awareness that there were no dreams to be had out there. And I think it sets nicely against the modern-day background, too. I can't be the first one to have drawn this parallel; hopefully I can at least do it well.

Some of my favorite books manage to tell multiple stories at once, meshing unlikely bedfellows. Hopefully I can capture that.

Also I really should be in bed but I'm reading about the Dow Jones Industrial Average. ... Wat?
Thumbs up

When it rains, it pours.

After a month and a half of unemployment and jobhunting, I have two interviews next week. I got an email from Powell's Home & Garden last night offering me an interview next Wednesday at 1. This excites me because it's freakin POWELL'S and I'd been very much hoping to hear back from them. Then today I dropped off a resume and cover letter at a Lush outlet in the Washington Square Mall. They called me before I'd even left the parking lot. Feels good man.

So I might have to chose between those two. Powell's would be part time and pay $9.95 an hour. I don't know what I could expect for hours and pay at Lush, but if it's less, it's at least worth a try to say "Well I have another position I expect to be offered that would pay more, so if you could match that, that would be awesome." If they're both part time, I may as well accept both and try and finagle them around each other.

-- This was obviously written a few weeks ago. I've now got a full time holiday gig lined up at Powell's H&G, after being hired part time at Lush for the holidays and going to the first day of training and getting some free product, then talking to Powell's ON MY BREAK FROM TRAINING and arranging to work for them instead. (Well, actually, I slept on it and made the real arrangements the next morning, but I made the decision on my break.) Luckily they were really nice about it and there were no hard feelings. Got a congratulations and everything. (So many sweet gay boys there.)

Anyway, that's not what I came to talk to you about. I came to talk about the draft NaNoWriMo.

It feels so good to have a new story, a new idea, plumbing through my head, exciting and full of potential, avenues to be explored, things to say, words to feel out. It's been too long. It got too hard, and now I've forgotten how much fun it is. I've missed this.

Glad I'm doing nano again. Hope it doesn't kill the urge like it did back in the day. Perhaps I should do some warm-up writing in the next few weeks to get the hang of it again.

I came up with the bones of my idea at the coffee shop with Sarah out of a vague notion of supernatural elements, a mural that reminded me of the 1920's, and a 10-minute writing sprint off the prompt word "river" that gave me my main characters. I love it. I love writing.

I have three weeks to the day to get ready to write this thing. I'll be working 10 of those 21 days in a row, starting tomorrow.

Guess it's an endurance test all around. I'd better get to bed.

It's gross. Seriously.

So the flea problem in my room is out of control. It's time to do something about it.

Step 1: Laundry. This will include clothes and all of my blankets and sheets.

Step 2: Carpet. I will affect a massive clean of my room that will at LEAST get enough shit off the floor that I can either spray or sprinkle borax on the carpet and then vacuum. I'll have to include under my bed in this, because that's a likely place for flea hangouts. Kitty will have to be exiled from the bedroom for this stage.

Step 3: Bed. Sheets and pillow cases will go in the dryer, and it's time to get rid of these foam pads, which is tragic, but necessary. The mattress and pillows I will sprinkle with borax just to be safe and then vacuum. The vacuum bag will get taken the fuck out after this process.

Step 4: More Advantage on Simon. Either that or head out to Home Depot to get some food-grade DI earth, if I can.

Step 5: Leave this little dish of oil and water on the floor to catch the stragglers. It worked before when Snookie had flea problems, so hopefully it'll catch any remaining buggers.

I just hope this works.

In other news, I accidentally went for an 8 mile hike yesterday. How does one accidentally hike 8 miles you ask? Well, first one is unemployed and sick of sitting around one's room like a lump, so one decides to go for a walk. Add to that that one is severely out of practice at hiking and seriously underestimated how long it would take to get to Council Crest and back, and also underestimated how much food she should take. (If I'm hiking to try and lose weight I should be fine if I only take a pear and a peach, right?)

All of this is a recipe for an over-exertion migraine that has me seriously questioning my ability to do even this overnight backpacking trip we're talking about doing in a couple weeks, and also highlighting exactly how much conditioning I'm gonna have to do before we tackle the PCT.

Anyway, go go operation flea-destroy.
Sunshine Kiss


Out of 20 books so far, very few have made me cry real cries. Pigtopia makes it two.

I. I don't know what to say. This is heart-wrenching but it is not in any way the cheap tugging of heartstrings that some books display. This is true heart-horror, terrible things all interlaced with the wonderful in ways that make both worse and better, bitter and sweeter. There is so much of innocence here -- innocence wise, innocence marred, innocence slipping away. There is the cruel failure of the world to accept that which is outside the norm.

I need a night to process this one. Book 21 will have to wait for morning.
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Cute kitty

Life of Pi

I feel that before I trot merrily off into Pigtopia, I should probably record some thoughts on Life of Pi, if only for the sake of the eventual youtube review I may or may not make on the subject.

The author could easily have told the story with humans, as he did in brief at the end of the book. But why did he choose to tell it with animals? Merely for the fancy factor?

The hyena is the id -- all that is mean and brutish in humanity, the bodily need to consume without remorse. It has no shame, no higher consciousness; its gluttony is absolute. Consistently Pi reacts to the hyena with revulsion. And yet, better the direct savagery of a dog than the silent stealth of a cat. (Ironic, since hyenas are in fact more feline than canine.)

The zebra is innocence. The zebra is peace. The zebra is inner tranquility, the zen master, he who resists without resisting. The zebra is Pi's childhood, his security in his family and his home, in safety. The zebra is the superego. The zebra is grotesquely broken down and consumed by the hyena, as Pi's innocence is shattered, his safety stripped away, and his peaceful tranquility (his sainthood is marked by his vegetarianism, which is soon forgotten) drowned in savagery.

Orange Juice the orang-utan is his mother, a powerful figure in the story of a child. She is protector and friend, the most sympathetic of the animals. And yet even she is shocking in this situation as she fights for the autonomy of the zebra. A mother will protect her child, even when they are not of one species.

Richard Parker. This is more complicated, as Richard Parker is many things over the course of the story. He is at once God and Pi's own ego. He is at once fear of death and will to live. Burden and salvation, friend and foe. The gunnel of the lifeboat becomes the razor's edge that we, as humans, must walk between these two forces as we struggle through life.

And what of the frenchman he meets at sea? Pi is blind when this meeting happens. This is the only part of the story that lends any credence at all to the alternate version of the story populated by humans. That in his delusional state Pi has re-cast the crew of his small ship -- including himself -- as appropriate animals is hardly out of the realm of possibility. His blindness in these chapters could indicate that process breaking down just long enough for him to take an active role in actually, finally, killing the cook. But too much of that story does not add up. The hyena dies long before we befriend the frenchman.

I prefer to think that this human voice in the depths of his despair presents him with that which he has lost -- India, in the form of the cigarettes his mother wanted to buy before leaving, and the boot which he lost in the shipwreck along with everything else. And above all they speak of food. Two very different styles of cuisine: the vegetarian and the carnivorous, the saintly and the savage. By adhering to his saintly vegetarianism, offering the man a seat in the boat and nearly losing his life for it (if not for Richard Parker) Pi redeems himself and regains his sight. His tears wash the salt from his eyes.

Then where does the body come from?

The island is easy. It is Eden. It even has a Tree of Knowledge that results in Pi's expulsion from paradise. It may be an unusual and otherworldly Eden, but it is possibly the most easily recognizable symbol in the whole story. And it proves to me that recognizable symbols DO have power, no matter how old and seemingly overused they are. As Pi peeled the leaves from the fruit, I was tense as a coiled spring, more so than at any other point in the book, because I knew what was coming. Something horrible, some final loss of innocence.

A tooth is an interesting choice. In dreams, the loss of teeth is said to represent unresolved childhood issues and growing pains. Certainly fitting.

Oh! And one other thing. His father. When he shows Pi and his brother the tiger eating the goat, we see a preacher putting the fear of God into his congregation. This is what will happen to you if you don't follow the rules. "Yes, Father," the children repeatedly intone. But we also see a father trying desperately to protect his children from the cruel and dangerous world he knows too well.

And finally, the sea and the sky. It would be remiss of me not to mention these. Between the two, they show clearly the utter indifference of the universe to the doings of mankind, our smallness in the face of the unforgiving cosmos. A strange message in a book so laden with religious intent, but I appreciate its presence. This indifference, clearly stated, drives home the point that our spiritual satisfaction must be found within ourselves, and not imposed from without. The universe does not care about our salvation nearly as much as we do.
Radio dance

American Peasant Stew -- Veggie Style

Let's see if I can remember what I did.

I think I fall back on creative experiments in cooking when I want to cook but I don't have the ingredients for any particular recipe. I just have a fridge and cupboards full of stuff.

So today I decided to make soup. I call it "American Peasant Stew -- Veggie Style."

1 can black beans (with all water)
1 can tomato paste
2 cans water (I used the black beans can)
2 chicken bullion cubes

Herbs & Spices:
Salt (some)
Black pepper (lots)
Garlic (like 4 cloves)
1 whole stem oregano (chopped, stem not included)
"" rosemary ("")
Cayenne (a bit)
Basil (some)
Red pepper flakes (a fair bit)
Cumin (a bunch)
Paprika (LOTS)

Chunky bits:
Onion (a bit)
Carrots (1)
Chard (1.5 Handfuls)
Kale (1.4 Handfuls)
Orzo (not a whole lot)
Finely-picked-apart Cauliflower (some)

Gotta admit. I'm kind of a fan.
Your car is on fire.

(no subject)

Ok, I admit it. I found science like some people find religion.

It came to me after a very trying period in my life. There were wise words from a preacher involved, and I now call him my Patron Saint. It defines my approach to political and moral decisions as much as anything besides my cultural roots can do. It invigorates my mind and what I can only call my spirit. It provides me with context for my life -- as in the "where from" and the "where to", which is really what we ask for when we ponder questions like what happens after death.

So, yeah. Sounds about right.

That does not make science a religion though. I guess I could best be called a Secular Humanist.

I keep realizing that I really should keep up my LJ and forgetting. I guess not having time for LJ is part of adulthood or something?

Work: I'm kind of loving Portland Nursery. It's a job and therefore not EXACTLY what I want to be doing every day. But it's satisfying and feels more natural than most any other job I've ever undertaken. I may not always LIKE physically challenging employment, but I do always feel somehow more satisfied by it. And this job is a particularly good blend of intellectual and physical. I'm getting better at answering questions. Learning is good!

I need to answer more walkie calls. That I know.

I hope I'm in yard next year. That's where the cool people are and that's where we keep the trees. Veggies are alright, but...

Book Report: I'm on book #14 of 50 for the year, which is about on track. I read like 5 books in 2 weeks before starting this one, of which I was rather proud. Now this one is taking me longer, because it's dense non-fiction and not always the most entertaining read. (Book is: The Sixties Unplugged, by Gerard DeGroot. It vacillates wildly between discussing flouncy, frivolous fashions and brutal, bloody war and revolution. It's a bit of a head-spin to go from China's Cultural Revolution to an explanation of the Mod "ethos." I guess there's a point to be derived from that.

I kind of wish I'd started a book blog or vlog before starting this challenge. Of course, I'd probably be going slower if I'd done that because I'd feel like I had to write about each one in between instead of chain-booking, and then I'd procrastinate and I'd probably only be on, like, book 5. Especially if I'd tried to vlog it.

A blog isn't a bad idea though. I could still do that. It'd be like writing papers again, but funnier.
Your car is on fire.

(no subject)

It's fun trying to balance people's needs when looking for housing.

I feel a little bad that my getting a job at Portland Nursery has basically condemned Zac to at least a year living in Portland Proper. But once we realized that we don't really have the financial means to get a place for just the two of us and we're going to have to share with at least one other person he was probably always going to be outvoted. Doesn't make him happy... but he says he can deal with SE Portland.

So now we're looking at houses in SE with Sean or Jen or possibly Sean's sister and her boyfriend. We shall see. Probably it'll be in the Powell/Woodstock/Foster area. It satisfies Zac's need for car accessibility and a residential feel; it works for me and Sean who are bound to public transit. And whaddya know, I might actually still see my friends from time to time. That'll be nice.

I'll admit, it will be nice to live in SE again, at least for a while. I do like it over there; it's my hood, it's where I grew up. If we have to live in any part of a real city, I'm glad it will be SE Portland. I hope it isn't too much of a strain on Zac though. He's a suburban boy and he doesn't REALLY want to live in Portland, I can tell. It's also not nearly as close to most of his friends like we'd wanted to be. But, well, it's how it do I guess. Can't be perfect, but hopefully it will be happy anyway. Don't worry honeybee. We will get back out of the city one day. Your girlfriend wants to be a subsistence farmer. Don't worry.

Besides, a house will let me garden and we'll have a backyard n stuff, and I like that idea. A lot. Especially if I'll be working at friggin Portland Nursery.

I will take a significant pay cut at this job. From $12 an hour down to $9.45. Kinda hurts. But I expected it. $12 was higher than most of the starting pay rates I saw even for office positions; customer service and retail are not going to pay the same rate. Especially for seasonal work. Hopefully I can stay on year-round. If Portland Nursery becomes my first more-than-a-year job, I'll be pleased. And maybe next year I can ask for a raise. Maybe. And in theory it's worth the pay cut to have a job I actually want to have, one that's actually relevant to my interests and my future career goals and all of that. I just hope it'll stay that way.

PS: I'm doing darned good on this here updating livejournal, aren't I? Crazy go nuts.