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Refuge for the rational.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Virtual Monotony 

I’ve been doing my duty loyally and with a limited amount of grumbling. Limited, but not absent and by the time you reach the end of this entry you will have determined also repressed.

I came to the vain and pouty conclusion that I wanted more attention in the way of traffic on my blog. In order to achieve this increase in traffic I had to resign myself to a horror that I’ve been avoiding up until now...the way of the blog. I had to venture to other people's blogs.

I know that some of you are reading this with some confusion and/or eye-rolling. You read blogs and you enjoy them. Well, to each his own. I, however, do not find an extensive amount of leisure time to invest in perusing the meanderings of other people. My interest is purely selfish, and now I know why.

I’ve probably come across one hundred or so blogs in my virtual travels and yet, only a few remain memorable for either their insight or humour. Most of them are one of the following cloneblogs: the soccer mom blog (I’m so weird because I’m a mom and yet I can use a computer! I also have a secret crush on Tom Cruise that I hide from my husband. We’ve been married for twelve years and we have three wonderful children!! I made cookies today and it was so interesting I thought you might like to hear about it...yay!), the right-wing christian blog (The end of the world is upon us. Follow our saviour Cheney or you will be damned to a fiery hell where you will be forced to engage in promiscuous homosexual acts and drug abuse!...unless you like that kind of thing, then you just deserve to die and are probably poor), the left-wing spoiled brat blog (I talk about saving the environment and world peace, but the truth is I was raised in a wealthy suburb by wealthy parents and I can only wish I had a gay black friend to complete my identity), the glories of technology blogs (I would make love to a robot if I could...no, really), the clippings blogs (I haven’t much to say so I will simply post random things I’ve found on the internet and hope that someone likes me for it), the random thoughts and musings blogs (today I went to the store and my friend was working and he told me that the other day my other friend got into and accident and then she went to this party and slept with one of our other friends and I was like “whoa”). I suppose I could go on forever, so I’ll just stop.

Now, you’re entitled to your “what a bitch” reaction. But before you begin looking for spelling errors and grammatical errors to throw back at me, continue reading.

I won’t go so far as to group any of you into the above categories and therefore you shouldn’t assume that I am doing so, even if you do write about taking your kids to soccer practice or saving the whales. I don’t have the right to insult someone else’s personal space, “space” being their blog and the content they choose to fill it with. Really, I’m just grumpy for the same reason I always am. I feel terribly let down. I suppose I had great expectations, and they’re the same expectations that have been fucking me over for years. I actually wanted some content. I was looking for someone to have a real conversation with, I was looking for the possibility of contact with a living, breathing person and not just some pretentious or mundane shite spewed onto the novel and exciting realm of the internet.

I know what you’re going to say next...well, if you don’t like blogs then you shouldn’t read them. This, and then a side of “you’re so negative” and then a misspelled insult for dessert. See, the thing is, I can’t stop. I can’t stop because there are a few people out there with potential and it really must be in the cards that we find each other. In the meantime, my disappointment with people whose political views represent who they are and every single thought and action, people who are plastic and always “happy”, people who attempt to tell me I have no values because I don’t allow an institutionalized belief system to tell me what to believe, artists, disclaimers, dog people, cat people, blondes, people in sports cars, accountants, men, women, and basically anyone who would go so far as to define themselves as any one thing and hold it against me when I don’t. Get a fucking personality.

My mood today is: Melancholy, Misanthropic, Misunderstood, Malcontent, Meandering, Mocking, Malevolent, Moderate...have you seen this?! People have begun listing things such as their moods, when their next birthday is, the music in their cd player (I have noted an odd predominance of A Perfect Circle), their kid’s ages, the weather in their hometown. Anything but real content.

So after going through these blogs I’ve come to a kind of complacency with my lack of comments. I don’t want more comments, I want less. I’m tired of comments that are complete misinterpretations of my posts. If my comment traffic increases, please, by all means, feel free to say something constructive.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

At the Top of the Pyramid 

Dry-Clean only tags assume that you have more than three pairs of functioning work pants. I don’t have the money for such things. I bought a one-hundred dollar pair the other day that make my ass look phenomenal and I think considering the result, I will remain satisfied with quality over quantity.

I wore them to the “dealer rally”. This is an annual event at which the mother ship congratulates and encourages the underling companies that sell its goods (the aforementioned “dealers”). People drink too much and attempt to screw each other while lessening the sight of their wrinkles and receding hairlines with the memory of the figure on their commission checks and the humouring grins of their co-workers. It really is the definition of gong show.

Thankfully, I had companionship in the way of S, a co-worker whose reaction to being forced into a post-work drink-fest masquerading as an informative seminar was almost as groaning and eyes-to-the-ceiling as my own. We went for a drink beforehand to ease some of the expected annoyance and anxiety that was to arise. Our pleasant conversation was interrupted every few seconds by our boss calling my cell phone to tell us that she was going to give away our free swag and drink tickets if we didn’t cross the street immediately. Eventually, we made our way over and were immediately greeted by a man with thinning hair, a plastic smile and leather-looking skin. We were promptly checked out and grinned at with teeth that were obviously artificially whitened, given the gleam. I was waiting for the pistol fingers and a wink and was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t come. I wasn’t interested in anything but alcohol when I noticed that almost everyone in the room was a clone of the man I’d just seen, the only thing that varied was age, gender, shade of leather and level of desperation (If you’ve ever taken the time to look at the album insert to “This is Hardcore” you know exactly what I’m talking about). It seemed the older and more successful they were, the more desperate they were to tell everyone about it. The older dealers shook hands with the younger ones in a display that struck me as overtly Athenian. Mixed in, there were some whose motivations were genuine and who enjoyed new technology and therefore, their jobs, and maybe even the rally for the new hardware displays, but they somehow couldn’t make up for the nauseous feeling the weasel level in the place was giving me. I understood by single glances that these people were only motivated by sex and quantity.

I began to wonder, as I perused the food tables, if there was any chance of having a real conversation that night and not ending up just drinking myself into happiness to counteract the depression that would bring. There wasn’t much I could do. I either found myself evaluating people based on their clothes, copiously applied colognes and slicked back hair or reproaching myself for doing so. Truth be told, it was kind of amusing and by my third glass of wine I wasn’t feeling so terrible.

We watched a long and boring presentation on why we were the best. It was predictable, go figure, and by the end of it I was falling asleep due to being half drunk the hour before and then depriving myself of any alcohol for that period of time. The incessant clapping helped keep me awake. Once that was over, the tension in the room rose; one could actually have touched it. It went from schmoozing and bragging to actual attempts at evocation. Most of the younger dealers went home, respectful of their elders, but feeling safely delusional in the belief that their youth would save them from the death of a salesman.

I knew I wouldn’t escape the post-work, post-rally drink and I didn’t. Our boss dragged S and I back to our original hideout, where a cast of interesting and stock-role fulfilling characters joined us.

Number one, an old Texan turned Canadian with shockingly white hair (next to the tanned skin) and a face that oddly resembled a less Zen Johnny Cash. He brought with him two middle aged cougars. One, “prettier” than the other, the Other complaining about cigarette cravings.

Two, a walking penile dysfunction and mid-life crisis who took every opportunity to make things suggestive in some way. He sat on the “pretty” cougars arm chair and it was obvious that something was on its way to happening, until he stupidly started flirting with me and she gave me the evil eye.

Three, a girl in her late twenties who sat carefully and haughtily studying everyone while they spoke and did so herself only when directly addressed. There was a practised grace to her movements, and a practised calm to her demeanour that made her anything but.

Four, a Norwegian geologist who was in town presenting a new environmentally friendly technique for oil excavation. He was interesting and I attempted to speak to him about his project and about any cultural differences between Americans, Canadians and Europeans he may have encountered during his travels. I’m not sure if it was the language barrier, or if it was an assumption based on the rest of my company, but he kept stressing that the technique he was presenting was worth a lot of money.

Five, several jocks turned salesboys to whom the word “titties” is considered witty.

I don’t remember much of the conversation because none of it was interesting or relevant to me. I do remember the tension being built up and the expectation being built up and then everyone leaving on their own, the penile dysfunction in an oversized jeep. This experience didn’t help me shed any light on what the gutless pursuit of money has over actually enjoying ones self. I guess I’ll never know.

A better example of the blatant schism between my values and what seems to be the majority of the rest of the world just happens to be another work story. I’ve been approached twice in the last few weeks by people who smell strangely like pyramid schemes.

They begin with telling me how awful their day has been so far. Then, they begin telling me that soon the tides will be changing and they’ll be rich and making plenty of money. Then, they ask me if I’m interesting in making a lot of money. When asked what it involves they say “sales”, to which I plainly respond that I’m not interested. The surprise is what gets me, it’s actually more like wounded pride. I’m simply not going to do something I don’t enjoy just because and especially because it’s going to make me a lot of money (which it isn’t...hello, pyramid schemes don’t work, don’t people know this yet?). It’s one thing to do a job you’re not crazy about temporarily so you can eat and dry clean your pants once in awhile when you know you’re going to do something you love down the road. It’s another thing when down the road is only a dollar sign.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Dumb Post  

Right. So, what I’ve come to realise is that I didn’t finish what I started. I defined everything I’m not, but I didn’t quite make it to the part where I tell all of the oh-so-curious parties out there exactly what I am. Well, to some degree it’s just fruitless and pointless and everything else, but I will try anyway just because I’ve had my first joint in a few months and I’m feeling rather like entertaining.

I like shoes. I guess that makes me a woman doesn’t it? It must. Of course, making this assumption places you in the categories I’ve laid out in my last entry, but don’t you worry, I’m not going to hold you to it or accuse you of being anything but human. I do like shoes, and I bought a pair the other day that are simply darling. Today, for the first time in five months I had my hair cut. Hmmmmm, seems rather manly to me as well. The stylist (I think they prefer this to hairdresser), had trouble getting her comb through it (Yes, SHE, isn’t that just SO typical...if only it had been a gay man...anything but a straight man). Then, I went home, listened to David Bowie, and drank gin. So, am I a gay man...? No, I had a few shots of rum and wrote a few blog entries and then discussed the virtues and/or vices of Pulp, Radiohead and Blur. Then, I wanted a cigarette, but I felt like walking around in heels so I put on my fur coat and a little black dress and I bought the first pack of cigarettes I’ve had in at least five months and smoked them while I sang (and danced) obnoxiously along to Different Class (which is a Pulp album BY THE WAY). I realise I’m sneering. I hate PCs, I’m going to buy a Mac. Oh, fuck it, train wreck....goodbye.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Girls Who Are Boys Who Like Boys to Be Girls 

I’ve been oddly aware of gender roles lately. I want to say gender roles in our culture, but I’m unsure of what exactly is involved in the word “our” and where the boundaries that separate “our” and “their”, whether they be mental, territorial or otherwise, lie exactly. Mentally, I doubt I can even include myself in “our”, so I’m back to feeling my frustration with the way other people think about gender mirrored by my own incapacity to discuss it. It’s simple though; there seems to be a prevalent assumption that biology and gender are ever so compatible and enduringly intertwined. This results in the idiocy that depicts MEN and WOMEN as two stock characters in a novel. Men are loud and piggish and love sports, disorganization and tits. Women are flighty and incompetent and enjoy shopping, gossiping and being difficult. Anyone who departs from this is either gay or dangerously weird. I got a forward from someone at work the other day that is the root cause of this topic. It was supposed to be a bit of humour to liven a boring work day, but I didn’t find it funny despite my valiant attempt to identify with it. It was at this point that I came to the conclusion that a culture’s comedic outlook is a reflection of the worldview it holds, only taken to extremes in the spirit of mockery, and that I did not share these beliefs. The document in question was entitled “The etiquette of blow jobs” (Yes, ha ha, giggle giggle). There were two lists of ten “rules” each, one written by a man to outline his disproportionate appetite for sex and his lust for trashy, unintelligent women and one written by a women to outline her distaste for sex and anything “adventurous”, as well as her passion for being difficult. It would seem that men are amused by anything that degrades women. Women are amused by anything that reduces men to crude and useless imbeciles. I suppose one could say that this isn’t a fair example, nor assessment, of my cultures outlook on gender, it’s just a bit of toilet humour and I’m simply too educated to find it funny. Maybe even I would like to claim that, but I can’t because it simply isn’t true.

For some reason people I know find it comforting to come to me when they are having relationship issues. The way they speak about them bothers me and I’ve been complaining about it for years. There are two reasons really.

The first is that a huge number of them aren’t even looking for a person. All they want is a relationship and it doesn’t seem to matter who the person involved is as long as they fit a narrow and cursory set of criteria. Eventually, if luck has it, they will settle for someone who is kind of interesting, kind of attractive and kind of a lot of other meaningless things. I think it would be a little too Dr. Phil of me to suss it all up to insecurity, but in at least some of the cases, I assume the thought to be “If I can just get someone to love me, I should be happy with what I can get”. I suppose if insecurity really is a factor they will deny that they need someone to complete them and will deny that being alone scares them. Their desire for someone, anyone isn’t something that should really anger me as much as it does, but I think this is another worldview issue. I’m a cynic, which means that to some degree I’m a romantic. I would find it terrible and depressing to believe that I could be really happy with just anyone. I would feel cheated, and the anger comes from people who want to be cheated either wasting my time or, in the case of people I actually care about, not giving themselves enough credit.

The second, is the way they talk about the opposite sex as if they were a commodity that could be won if one were wily enough to not show all of their cards and employ subtle (obvious) manipulation tactics. They begin sentences with “Guys like...” and “Women are so...” These are neither unintelligent nor uneducated people, so I can’t understand where these ridiculous assumptions come from, but they are frustrating to one who attempts to just be something without having to confine it to the astringent definitions that have been laid out for them.
Everywhere though, there are these stock characters, and maybe those of you who don’t know me read this and assume I must be some butchy chick who hates shopping and does shooters with “the boys” at hockey games. It seems so incongruous for someone attempting to escape a discourse to do so by delving into another.

Work Stories 

I came to work yesterday, the center of the world, supplier of telecommunications, only to discover that the internet was not working...again. Ironic, no? We connect people to their lives through various web-capable devices and yet we can't even connect to the internet long enough to activate them or invoice them. Now that is just silly.

I had an especially taxing day as it was unusually busy and everyone I encountered was unusually rude. One such encounter occurred just before lunch. A slight, badly dressed woman whose entire face looked as though it were being stretched to the floor despite an approximate age of forty, ushered her sullen teenage son into my office. He had bad posture, hanging his head and silently staring at his feet, hypothetically from too many slaps to the back of the head. The entire time they were there this bitch-mistress of authority and her son gave me the feeling that someone was in trouble. I didn’t know if it was him or me.

I began the encounter with a polite hello, but this wasn’t returned, and I realised how habitual this greeting and its usual follow-up exchange had become. The silence was slightly off-putting and I expected to be besieged by an outrageous phone bill or a broken phone, but neither were presented. Instead, the woman informed me that she had three phones “through you” and wanted a fourth and (sternly) “what are you going to give me” (not a question). I was further put off by this obnoxious demand and slightly irked by the obvious eagerness for, or anticipation of, conflict. To constantly assume someone is going to fuck you seems like a terrible way to be and a sad way to be. But, as I stared at the mousy brown hair pulled back into a loose bun, the thin line of reddish lipstick, straight and narrow and emphasizing her scowl, the violet eye shadow applied quickly and amateurishly and clumping in the folds of her eyelids, and the terrible fashion, a touristy t-shirt (the color matching her eye shadow) tucked into jeans worn high above the waist level, I realised that improvement was well within her reach, that I had no responsibility to make her day any better and that I fucking hated her and wished she would die a slow and painful death, miserable and alone. The bittersweet reward to all of this is that she probably will because she already is.

This is the way cell-phone sales operate: You choose a cell-phone. You choose a plan. You choose a term. Depending on the term you choose, (none, monthly, one, two or three years) you will receive a hardware discount on your cell phone purchase. This is the way it works and I am unable to “get you a sweet deal”. Despite explaining this to the evil bitch, she still seemed to expect to be able to buy a cell phone for fifty dollars and not have to sign a three-year term. Her reasoning was that she was a loyal customer. There are many faulty and stupid assumptions in capitalist society and this is one of them. If you are on the right side of the fence, you are probably like this woman and value money more than you should. You also assume that money talks and that if you throw enough of it at someone they will eventually treat you well (monetarily speaking, anyway) in the future. Most of our clients are corporate. What this means is that her three out-of-date cell phones are swimming in a sea of double-digit accounts and people who, capitalistically speaking, just matter more. Fortunately, once I gave her a pricing sheet and told her that I had no control over special treatment she decided that she would try to buy a cheaper phone elsewhere, which is impossible because it is the phone company and not the store that assigns the hardware discounts. I couldn't help but notice that the woman's address resided in the most affluent section of town and proceeded to note the irony in that. I shouldn’t have been surprised when she let the silence hang as she was leaving and I said “have a good day”.

Yet Another Return 

I’ve just come to the fearful realisation that I begin all of my writing with simple, short statements that don’t really have much to do with what I’m talking about whatsoever. They’re statements that all bad writers make and tend to start things off with, things like: The leaves had begun to turn. As she made her way through the frigid air of fall she delighted in the sound they made and the texture they had. BLAH...it’s terrible and it makes me want to throw up. I’m not sure that Paul Auster doesn’t do it, but somehow it’s acceptable when he does and perfectly atrocious when I do.

Because I've been so unproductive lately, I am going to appease you with a treat...several entries all at once.

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