Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Don't Stress Me Out!

Okay, so I have this new assignment starting tomorrow, and from everything they've told me, it sounds dreamy... admin-assisting and front-office management with lots of word-processing at a big property-management firm in a highrise downtown, neckties and shiny shoes, more pay per hour, a six-month assignment that has a good chance of turning temp-to-hire. Jazzy, no?

Well, I didn't want to get too excited about it, or get my hopes up too high... because whenever I do, something terrible happens to yank the rug out from under me. So I just said to myself "take it one day at a time and don't let any expectations (or hopes, which are worse) grow."

I was doing OK at it, but my temp agent has called me every day this week to give me some new instruction or remind me not to do some frowned-upon thing that I've done at other assignments in the past.

And as a result, she's stressed me out to the point that I'm actually nervous about going in tomorrow. I don't like being nervous, especially when it causes me to lose sleep, thereby making it even more likely that I will make some terrible mistake that will bring the whole thing crashing down around my ears.

But I understand where she's coming from... this client isn't just their client, but also their landlord. And the agent I've been working with this week is new in her job, so she's probably feeling really nervous, too. I just wish she wouldn't take it out on me.

So tonight I am going to lay out my clothes and make sure they all match and look snazzy (charcoal slacks with a dull blue pinstripe, dull blue shirt, black v-neck sweater, black dress shoes, and a black blazer), then wash down some Advil PM with a cup of Sleepy-Time Extra herb tea to help make sure I get to sleep early enough, and shall slather my mug with the best moisturizer I have; and tomorrow I'm getting up early to groom and prepare to look and act my very best. I think I'll even do some sit-ups or something.

I have to take the bus in the morning, too, since there is absolutely nowhere to park downtown, so that will keep me from being tardy (one hopes).

So I'm kind of excited, and I'm terribly nervous. I mean, I really need this job right now. I'm so broke it's not funny (though being broke never is funny), I just overdrew my account yet again and have to borrow money from the Grandmother to pay the bank another packet of fees. Besides, a poverty-struck Christmas is not a happy place to be.

Either way, I'll let you know how it turns out.


Later addition - 10:28 PM:

Well, I got my outfit together, finally, then showed it to the Grandmother, who made a face. And I had to agree with her, the black sweater with the charcoal pants looked wrong... the taupe-ish cast of the charcoal assorted ill with the bluish cast of the sweater.

Then of course came the humiliation of wanting to wear a jacket, and almost all of my suit-jackets are too small for me now. The black one in particular made me look perfectly horrid. So no blazer or jacket of any kind, I'll just have to wear my suede jacket to keep warm and just wear the sweater to the office... not as professional as one would like, but I don't have time to run down to the mall to buy a new blazer.

So if the charcoal pants are out, what about black pants? Well, the black pants and a black sweater was a little too too, if you know what I mean. So how about a plum sweater with the black pants to lighten it up? Even too-tooer. How about the plum sweater with the charcoal slacks? Now I look like an utter fairy. Okay, how about the light grey glen-plaid slacks with the black sweater and a sage shirt and tie? OK, now we're getting somewhere. It looks very nice.

Of course, the sweater was wrinkled all to hell, and my black dress shoes were a mess. It took me forever to find the sweater (which was crumpled up under a pile of other sweaters), and another forever to find the black shoe-polish. Then I had to steam the sweater and slacks and then iron them, then polish the shoes.

After all that, I realized I had to clean Claudius's bowl, which he never likes, because I wouldn't have time in the morning. And now here I am all ready to go to bed, an hour later than I planned to be in bed. Oy gevalt!

After all this to-do, this job had better be spectacular. I mean cute guys in every office and a view from my desk. If they turn out to be a bunch of whackos and the job itself impossible, I'll be pissed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Turtle Tragedy

First, some background: about a month or so ago, Caroline and I were out and about on one of our Saturday loafing-trips; we'd gone to Chinatown for lunch at King-Wah, and on the way back to the car we encountered this little old Chinese lady with a face like an apple-doll and a little red wagon, from which she was selling an assortment of wares. Among these wares were fresh figs and live turtles. Caroline bought some figs, and on a complete impulse I forked out $15 for a little plastic box with two tiny turtles in it and two bags of turtle-food. And I mean tiny, their shells weren't even an inch long.

When we got to the car, I stared at them, one brighter turtle who was trying desperately to get out of the box, and a slightly duller turtle who was just sitting there very calmy; after a few moments, names occurred to me (that's how I name objects, I stare at them until a name floats up out of my subconscious), Claudius and Agrippa. Though both are technically male names, and I had no way of knowing what sex either turtle was, but I decided that the duller turtle Agrippa was a female and the brighter turtle Claudius a male, in accordance with natural law.

I tried to find something for them to live in when I got home, assuming (correctly) that the little plastic box was much too little to accomodate them. I came across an old serenity fountain that looked big enough, so I set them up in the dining room (the only place with sufficient space) and put some rocks and stuff in there with them. Unfortunately, the fountain was too shallow, they kept getting out... and one time Claudius got all the way out of the fountain and it took me an hour to find him tucked behind one of the pictures on the table.

So the next weekend, Caroline and I stopped at PetCo, and on the advice of the clerk there I bought some proper turtle food, some water conditioner, a couple of water plants, a rock, a basking lamp, and a ten-gallon tank. I also found out, after describing the turtles to the clerk, that they are called Red-Eared Sliders, it's illegal to sell them when they're as small as these two were, and that aquatic turtles often carry salmonella and so I should always carefully wash my hands after touching them, and wash any surface they happen to crawl on.

Turtles aren't very cuddly pets, but I soon got very attached to these two tiny creatures. I noticed after a couple of days, though, that Agrippa was blind, her eyes were filmed over with some opaque material that didn't look very healthy. I probably should have taken her to a vet, but I'd already spent nearly seventy dollars on the habitat, I wasn't going to plunk down another hundred to have her eyes checked.

So fast forward three or four weeks: I was cleaning out Claudius's and Agrippa's tank as I do every week... though I was supposed to do it on Saturday, not Sunday... and all sorts of terrible things happened. For example, when I was washing the tank, I cracked one of the sides! Ack! Now I have to go buy a new tank, and I've only had this one for a few weeks.

So I went on cleaning the rocks and the bathtub and getting everything neatened up, then went to look for something in which to house the turtles until I get a new tank. After a fairly thorough search through my basement and garage and kitchen, I ended up with an old glass mixing bowl. So I put a couple of rocks and a plant in it, figured out a way to rig the basking lamp so they wouldn't freeze, and set it back up in my room.

But when I started to move the turtles back, I discovered that Agrippa had died.

She was always kind of lethargic, not a go-getter of a turtle by any means, but she would always at least move a paw or shake her head when I was moving her from one body of water to another. But I got no response this time. I stroked her shell, prodded her limbs, held her in my hand to warm her blood, tempted her with krill turtle-treats... all to no avail.

It's possible that she's just sleeping rather than dead, so I put her in the travelling-tank (the little plastic box in which they came when I bought them) with some food and placed her under the basking lamp next to Claudius's bowl. But I am not optimistic. She just looks dead.

She also hasn't grown at all, which makes me think maybe she just starved. I thought since the food was disappearing, that they were both eating... but I never saw them doing it (they're very private, all I have to do is look at them for them to freeze up completely or scurry under the rock), I was just assuming. But once I had both of them out of the tank and sitting side-by-side in the sink, I could see that Claudius had grown quite a bit in the last two weeks, while Agrippa doesn't appear to have grown at all.

Actually, right now I'm watching Claudius eat... because of the curve of the bowl, he can't see me looking at him while he's underwater, and he just ate four pellets all by himself. So he'll probably survive.

If Agrippa doesn't wake up by tomorrow, I'm going to call Caroline over (she's become quite attached to the little critters, too) and we'll give her a decent burial in a jewelry box among the calla lilies under the birdbath in the back yard.

Poor little doomed thing.

That's Agrippa on the right, doing what she always does: lying perfectly still.

UPDATE 11/21/07: Yup, she's definitely dead. She started floating during the night, and they're not supposed to float. Caroline and I buried her last night. Much to my surprise, I actually cried a little.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What with One Thing and Another...

Yes, I've been kind of busy, but mostly I've been kind of out-of-it: tired a lot of the time, getting depressed sometimes, and not feeling very creative or communicative. My temp assignments have been spotty, boring, and far too underpaid... very catch-as-catch-can and unpredictable and disastrous to my already disordered finances, which is where a lot of the bleah feeling is coming from; I think the time has come to get serious about a full-time permanent job now.

Also, I think I've simply lost the knack of blogging. I write a hell of a lot on JUB these days, but I think it's because there's interaction... I'm always responding to something. It's so much easier than just shouting into space. And though I love hearing comments from you, Will and Luis and everyone, it's always after the fact. So I've been reduced to memes. The following was lifted from Dan Renzi.


Explain what ended your last relationship? He didn't love me "that way." Which is to say he wasn't into me. They never are. And I'm having to use "relationship" in a rather loose manner, since were never officially together. It was all in my head.

When was the last time you shaved? Wednesday? Yeah, Wednesday morning. I hate shaving.

What were you doing this morning at 8 a.m.? Sleeping, sort of. The guys started working next door, sawing and hammering and playing salsa on the radio. I dreamed odd dreams.

What were you doing 15 minutes ago? with Miss Madasin, who just got a new computer. I hardly ever I.M., but I was signed in and these things happen.

Are you any good at math? Relatively good at it, I think. I can do long division and simple algebra without much effort. But I'm not so good that I can figure out tips in my head.

Your prom night, what do you remember about it? Junior prom: I remember getting a bad haircut and a touch of sunburn, looking a little like a marshmallow in a white tailcoat, and ordering our evening wrong so that we missed most of the dance and then had an unfashionably late dinner. The food was good, though. Caroline and I had a good time anyway.

Senior prom: all I remember is being dressed wrong. I'd rented a classic black-and-white dinner suit, white jacket and shirt with black everything else; but the stupid rental place gave me white pants and shoes with the white jacket, as well as a black tie and cummberbund . I looked like Mr. Rourke's understudy in a high-school production of Fantasy Island.

The rest is mercifully a blank.

Do you have any famous ancestors? My great-grandfather was a pioneer in the canning industry. And I'm laterally descended from the Mayflower, William Bradford to be exact (via his third daughter Clara, if I remember correctly). That's all I know about.

Have you had to take a loan out for school? Well, I didn't have to... I had grants to cover my tuition and books and most of my transportation, and I had a little part-time job for mad-money; but I didn't want to have to work more than six hours a week, so I took out the loans they offered for spending money and clothes and entertainment and other necessaries... it added up to $25k over three years, and I'll be coughing up $150 a month for the next decade.

Last thing received in the mail? A "friendly reminder" from the bank to pay my credit-card bill. But I already had, so I was able to snap my fingers at it (figuratively, of course... a letter doesn't notice if you snap at it, which rather defeats the purpose of such a gesture).

How many different beverages have you had today? Two? Three? It depends how you count... I've had several cups of coffee, a few glasses of water, and a glass of grapefruit juice. That's three by my reckoning, but I'm not sure if you'd count the water, or if the individual cups of coffee and water were separate beverages. I leave it to you.

Do you ever leave messages on people’s answering machine? Of course! What am I, some kind of savage?

Who did you lose your CONCERT virginity to? Oh, this is embarrassing: the Osmonds. Donny and Marie and their multitudinous siblings (not counting the deaf ones) at the Oakland Coliseum in 1978. I didn't want to go, but my step-sister for whom the ticket had been bought had the chicken-pox and couldn't go, and my parents weren't about to waste ten bucks on an empty seat.

Oh, and by the way, it's "To whom did you lose your concert virginity?"

Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach? God, when was I even at a beach last? But no, no name-writing. I once drew a really big picture of a naked man in the sand, about twenty feet long, with seashell eyes and seaweed pubes, who could only be viewed from the cliff. It was fun.

What’s the most painful dental procedure you’ve had? Molar extraction. Seven shots of novocaine before he resorted to lidocaine, and it turned out the roots of the molar were fused to the jawbone. Hurt like a motherfucker, especially when the tooth, which was cracked, broke apart under the pliers. I was on Vicodin for two weeks afterward.

What is out your back door? The alleyway between our house and the house next door, separated by a short fence and the railing of our back steps.

Any plans for Friday night? Friday was yesterday, and next Friday is too far away to plan for. But I'll hazard a guess and say No, nothing going on Friday. Except for leftover turkey and pie.

Do you like what the ocean does to your hair? No, I do not! I don't like what it does to any part of me. I don't like the ocean at all. Except in Hawaii, and even then I'm always shocked that the water is salty; so clear and blue, it looks like it should taste like Evian.

Have you ever received one of those big tins of 3 different popcorns? No. Other people have received them and shared, but never was one given directly to me. I don't much like popcorn, anyway.

Have you ever been to a planetarium? Yes indeed! The one in the Museum of Natural History in San Francisco. I loved it! Twice!

Do you re-use towels after you shower? I use the same towels until either they smell (which takes a couple of weeks) or until Grandmother changes them (which happens rather more frequently). I've never understood about changing your towels every day, since I only use them to dab clean water off my clean person. It's the dampness that makes them smell, and if your bathroom is ventilated properly, it should take a while for the damp to take root.

Some things you are excited about? I haven't been excited about anything in weeks. I got very excited about my Halloween costume, which was a great success, and before that I was excited about a job prospect that didn't pan out and was a great disappointment. I don't get excited much, and can't think of a single thing to be excited about right now.

What is your favorite flavor of JELL-O? Raspberry.

Describe your keychain(s)? "Boring" just about covers it. Two keys to the house, a big fat black-handled key to the car, a black car-remote fob, and a little blue rubber tag from the car dealership.

Where do you keep your change? I put it in my pocket, then when I get home, I leave it in my pocket, where it either falls out on the floor or comes out in the wash. Sometimes, if I remember, I put it in the ashtray of the car for use at parking meters. Sometimes if I have a lot of change, I'll put it in this green bowl I have near the door in my room. And when I clean, I pick up all the coins that have fallen out of my pockets and put it in a coffee-can. Last time I emptied the coffee can, I made $173 at the Coinstar.

When was the last time you spoke in front of a large group of people? How large is "large"? I speak at AA meetings all the time (or rather, I used to, when I went to meetings regularly, a habit I have woefully fallen out of), and that's usually about twenty guys or more. A couple of years ago, I read the Promises at the Living Sober Conference, which was just over a thousand people, but I was reading rather than speaking. I can't think of much else.

What kind of winter coat do you own? I have a few, for different kinds of winter. For real winter weather, the serious cold-and-wet-and-windy, I have a big blue parka, hip-length treated cotton with a quilted flannel lining and attached hood; for less severe or specific kinds of weather, I also have a flannel-lined camel microfiber trenchcoat, a green GoreTex raincoat, and a brown suede motorcycle jacket.

What was the weather like on your graduation day? From high school? Sunny and warm. From University? Partly cloudy and cool.

Do you sleep with the door to your room open or closed? Closed. I like my privacy when I'm nude, and I usually sleep nude.


So there you go, another set of completely useless information about me. I feel better! Don't you?

Now for something we'll all enjoy (I found this picture last week and fell in love with it, I even use it as my message-board avatar):