Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Borderline Half-Empty

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I haven't really been myself lately. It could be the (frizzy... poufy... horrible triangle...) hair, it could be the fact that I haven't had a good night's sleep since... oh... since my (horrible... giggling at 4:30 am... singing like rejects from American Idol...) neighbours moved in upstairs, and it could also be that I'm feeling a tad bored. I don't know. I just haven't been the same upbeat self that I once knew myself to be.

I've always considered myself a 'glass-half-full' kind of person, and even though I've been known to go on massive spewing rants about how much I hate such-and-such a thing or person (have I mentioned my upstairs neighbours?), overall, I'm still a pretty positive woman. Things seem to have changed, though. Lately I've been feeling down, upset, and stuck in a foaming rut of nasty goo. I really think that poor sleep quality and a hard-time-adjusting-to-ten-hour-work-days is taking its toll, but now I need to decide what to do about it. I can't just fester in toxic (a la Britney) thoughts about everything from work to our home-- it's just not good for me.

Hence, allow me to unveil my fantasy strategy for dealing with everything that's been bothering me lately:

1. The neighbours!

I oscillate between fantasizing about having them tossed out of the building with nothing but a little sack on a stick to take with them, and moving above them and subjecting them to the same things we deal with on a daily basis: pathetic singing, patio door sliding noisily open and closed so we (nonsmokers) can have a 'smoke break' every 5 seconds, tossing cigarette butts onto their balcony instead of using an ash tray (for our phantom cigarettes), staying up to ungodly hours and then setting our alarm for even ungodlier hours and letting it ring until their brains turn psychotic... etc., etc. Throw in a little stomping for good measure, and we've got the makings of sweet, sweet revenge. (Alas, I'm a wimp when it comes to exacting vengeance, so I think my realistic plan of action involves phoning our landlord (again) and filing (another) complaint... seriously, I can't wait until the fantasy day when we have enough money to get our own place. I dream about that every. single. day.)

2. My job!

I've discovered in my month or so of working that my two jobs are very very different from each other. In one, the minutes creep by like hours (days!) and I have a hard time 'making work' because there's so little work to actually be done! In the other, the days move swiftly, and even though I'm not doing the most life fulfilling work I can imagine for myself, I don't count down the days to the next stat holiday at every chance I get. Hmm. My plan of attack: suck it up until my contract ends and then get the hell out! I wish I enjoyed the job more. Really, I do. But, as my dear friend Kathy once said, I also wish I could have a bath with baby ducks, and I don't see that happening any time soon...

3. My total lack of physical activity lately.

Simple: Work out!

4. Misc. things!

My haircut? That's what hats and 'do rags are for! (Wa-hoo for those 'do rags!!) Boxes piled up in the living room? Get a storage unit! Haven't picked up knitting needles since... I'm ashamed to admit it? KNIT, KNIT, KNIT!!!!!!!

My glass may be bordering on half-empty at the moment, but at least there's still some of the sweet sweet chai latte (my favourite drink) left in it...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

On Second Thought...

Forget anything I ever said about my new haircut being sleek, modern, and low maintenance. After washing it for myself the other day, I discovered (much to my chagrin) that said haircut makes me look 15 years younger (not good, considering I'm only 25). On top of that, if I don't use a blow dryer and hair straightener (which is every day, given that I don't own either of those appliances), I end up with a horrible case of frizzy triangle hair (pointy on top, poufy and wide near my chin). I feel like I've died and gone back to the 80s (my own personal version of hell)! NOOO!!

I've refrained from posting a photo of my horrendous hair to preserve what is left of my decency and self-esteem. I can tell you, though, that I feel a lot like young Hilary from one of my least favourite comic strips, Sally Forth. (I'm sure my sista Wednesday's heart is dropping at the mere thought of me actually resembling one of those characters in any way. Yes, my dear, it really is that bad.) Picture Hilary's hair minus the bangs and the bright yellow shade, and you've got me! Thank sweet Jesus I don't also have Hilary's bangs... that would be too much to bear. Anyway, I can't decide now whether to tough it out through the awkward growing-out phase or to take my own scissors to it and start again from something much shorter. Bah. (And stop giving me that knowing Sally Forth look, dear readers. Sure, kick me when I'm down.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung, my lovelies, and what better way to usher out the old than to sever your ties with it completely? That’s what I did yesterday, when I traded in two years (a whole terrier’s worth) of long hair for a sleek and modern wedge-shaped ‘do:

(All the better to match my powersuit with)

I’ve been wanting to cut my hair for about… oh… a whole year now, but it took me this long to actually find a somewhat decent place and book an appointment. (Not like I was actively searching for a place every day, though… it was more like me intermittently complaining about my more-and-more unwieldy mane, Marty saying ‘You should book a hair appointment’ in response to my said complaints every time, me procrastinating and eventually forgetting about my long hair angst, and then finally, me accidentally getting a kick in the ass to book an appointment one day, via a stylist trading card in a local coffee shop. Sometimes all it takes is a marketing gimmick and a substantial savings offer. Yes, I’m a sucker.)

Anyway, as somebody who chopped my own hair off for a good 4 or 5 years (think of the savings! And the DIY style!), I got a little anxious finding a professional stylist who could cut my hair in such a way that I didn’t need to slave over it for hours every day just to make it look passable. (I’m so low maintenance with my hair, I might as well be a wild animal of sorts—just roll over and go is the way I like it! Cowlicks are high fashion in my books.) So imagine the instant connection I made with Josh, who showed up for my appointment in teal eye makeup (My new favourite colour!), chatted nonstop about Madonna (My lifelong BFF!) while he cut my hair into ‘something new for spring’, but then didn’t flinch (at all!) when he handed me my bike helmet at the end and wished me a safe ride to work. (she sighs with platonic love for this wonder stylist!) I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to achieve this same sense of sleekness when I style the hair myself, but if all else fails, I’ve awakened my itchy scissor-fingers from their extended hibernation now, and I can always keep on hacking at it myself until I get back to square one. Josh, plug your ears and stop that rolling around in your pretend grave.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Personality Plus

My winning and not-very-threatening smiling face! You can count on me to be the face of your organization!

As part of my new job requirements, I was asked to fill out a personality questionnaire and to make sure that my persona was a ‘good fit’ with my working environment. I wish that the mere concept of a personality inventory was as laughable in the real world as it was in my small corner of academia, but alas, that was not the case. The results of my personality test, I was told, would be treated very seriously and could even reverse the offer of employment (if they came back with the profile of a sociopath, I’m assuming?) Needless to say, it was with a heavy and somewhat nervous heart that I logged in and proceeded to answer the 120 questions.

I received my ‘results’ in the mail just the other day (something that had never happened with the two other personality tests I was asked to fill out for other jobs). Scanning over the scores and written summaries of my profile only confirmed my belief that personality tests are a load of crap. Take, for instance, the following:

“Independence is a bit lower than average… Dana probably prefers group activities and collaborative efforts to individual activities.”

Hmm… a quick survey of my, oh—entire life—indicates that I, in fact, loathe and detest group activities and have even been considered a bit of a hermit in my social life. I shudder to remember the horrors of team sports in phys. ed. class (I always sucked), group projects from K-12 (I always did most, if not all, of the work, and resented my slack-ass peers at every step of the way), and even ‘collaborative efforts’ at other jobs I have held (I either held back and said nothing or pushed forward and did most of the work. Again.) Where is this ‘lower than average independence’ rating coming from? And while we’re on the subject, does this mean I’ll have to change my Destiny’s Child ‘Independent Woman’ cell phone ring??! (Note: I don’t own a cell phone. But if I did, BeyoncĂ© would totally be rocking my ring.)

“Stress Tolerance is slightly higher than average and suggests the ability to withstand adverse events and stressful situations. Dana generally copes with stress actively and effectively. She is probably a calm person and rarely gets overly anxious and agitated.”

Quick paraphrase: Dana sure knows how to fake a high level of stress tolerance on personality inventories. People who know her in real life would probably not describe her as calm (and to those that do: hahaha!!!), and she certainly did not win the ‘least likely to get anxious or agitated’ award in her high school yearbook. Refer to previous posts like this one and this one to get a general sense of her passive-aggressive coping techniques and her wildly un-calm responses to adverse events and stressful situations.

“Flexibility: The responses indicate feelings of being unable to change old habits or outdated opinions.”

Who are you calling outdated??! (Proceeds to pencil in bushy 80s eyebrows with eyeliner and to examine the elastic of her stirrup pants.) Maybe I like shoulder pads in my powersuits… did you ever consider that, huh?

Other things of note: Apparently I have a “reasonably normal grasp of what’s going on around” me, but my approach to solving problems is only “moderately successful”. I scored the lowest on the Reality Testing subscale, meaning I have difficulty separating out the real from the unreal. Meh. My own personal opinion is that everybody else has closed themselves off to broader realities and possibilities. But if you don’t want to see the last unicorn, that’s your problem, not mine…

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Calgary always puts me into a state of angst. From getting up at 5 am to make the first ferry out, to eating horrific amounts of junk food on the road to stay awake and to pass the 15-16 hours of time, to pulling into the urban sprawl at 11 pm and seeing the brown-ness of the surroundings—everything about the trip just makes me feel blah.

Our latest trip was no different. Sure, we had a few mudslide detours and even a baby shower to mix things up a bit, but other than that, everything was the same. We pulled into Calgary around 11 pm on Friday night, and sure enough, we were offered soup and cake by the inlaws. Nothing like some sugar and flour to ease your way into a good night’s sleep! Saturday was spent running errands, switching Marty’s art around, and generally driving around the city. Then today we visited our storage unit and crammed as much crap into our van as was humanly possible. Then I caught a flight back and came home to prepare for another week at work. Angst, I tell you. Angst.

There are some things that I miss about Calgary: My favourite local yarn store. Certain tea houses and coffee shops. Family. Friends. CJSW radio. The Coup restaurant. And oddly enough, the camaraderie that comes along with bitching about conservative governments (though I still prefer a more liberal government in office to bitching about a conservative government hands down!). So many things about the city, however, make me feel really disgusting and just plain heavy. I associate Calgary with being expected (forced?) to overeat foods that really don’t do my digestive system any favours, and every night I go to bed feeling bloated and greasy. During the days, because Marty and I are trying to cram in as many errands as we can during our short stays, we run around from mall to mall with the equivalent of a brick of wax in our bellies and then wonder why we come back in the evenings feeling like ass (in a very bad way—nothing sexual implied here at all). I know our friends and family mean well when they offer us meals and a place to stay, but somehow I always end up coming back to Victoria feeling like an ungrateful wench for trying to refuse at least half of the sugary/white flour-y/fried/cabbage family concoctions that are spooned onto my plate. (The other half I eat mostly out of guilt or to assuage the gnawing sense of wench-ness eating away at my insides. ANGST!!!!)

Gah!! I’ll report on the baby shower in a future post, after Marty brings the camera back home and after I cleanse myself of any lingering loathing of the trip back to Calgary. Maybe it was the blatant tsk-tsk look I got when I declined to take thirteen open-faced sandwiches with me to the airport (for a one hour flight!!! Right after a HUGE lunch!! I am not a burly man!!!), or maybe it was the ‘random’ full-body search I had to endure at the airport (during which I was frisked naked-like with no shoes on in front of hundreds of people, but then later got to relish the sight of the security person combing through a weekend’s worth of dirty laundry to uncover any phantom drugs… in front of those same hundreds of people… serves them right), but I really don’t feel my best right now. It must be time to soothe my chapped skin/lips/throat with some salty ocean air, click my shoes together, and repeat “We’re not in Calgary anymore, we’re not in Calgary anymore…” (though poor Marty still is! Ach.)

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Hey everyone:

Just letting you know that Marty and I will be trying to dodge mudslides and highway washouts in our mouldy van tomorrow. My sister's baby shower is on Saturday evening, and we're hoping to make it to Calgary safe and sound for the big event.

I'll be back on Sunday-ish with updates and such. Enjoy your weekend!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Today is the Greatest

Guess who gets to go home today? A whole month early!!

Our little Lily!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Other Woman

Last weekend, as we took a stroll on the rainy beach, I was startled to discover another woman gazing lovingly into Marty’s eyes. She had a dark complexion and deep brown eyes, and her body seemed strong and sleek, like she spent all of her free time pursuing rugged outdoor adventures. I was taken aback by the brazenness of her stare, and perhaps a tad intimidated by the intensity of it, but I reassured myself that Marty only has eyes for me. That is, until I glanced over at Marty and saw him returning the woman’s gaze with the same passion...

It turns out that Marty and Robertina have a history that dates back about 4 years (he and I have been together for about 3.5 years now, natch). They had a short but adventure-packed relationship when Marty last lived in Victoria, and it was obvious from Robertina’s forwardness and unabashed excitement when she spotted him that she had never forgotten the special times they shared. Who knew I was a rebound??

Being the type of person I am (i.e. passive-aggressive with an overriding desire to please everybody), I tried to be courteous to this other woman (though I can assure you the fires of jealousy were well stoked inside). As we walked together on the beach, though, I discovered something even more startling: not only did Marty still love Robertina, but I did, too! In fact, we promptly made arrangements to see each other again every week from now on, and also to spend three weeks with her in April when her roommate goes to Arizona.

Me + Marty + Robertina = One happy threesome!

(Note: Anybody who knows even a little bit about Marty would not have been fooled by tales of wandering eyes or infidelity. I promise not to use cheesy hooks like this any more!)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

CSI: Victoria

My workplace was broken into late last week. Not the best way to start off my new job (understatement of the year), and to make matters worse, I discovered just how easy it would be for somebody to frame Marty and I for the robbery.

I received a phone call early on Friday morning that the office door was ajar. Somebody in the office building had seen the door open and had reported it to our national office in Toronto. The message was relayed from national to Edmonton and then to me, so by that time, I felt a wee mortified. As the new (and now only) paid staff person, it’s definitely my job to lock the door. Beside myself that I might have let this crucial step slip my mind, I apologized to my boss and vowed to go straight down (on my day off) to lock up for real.

When I got to the office, I did a once through just to make sure everything inside was all right. It wasn’t. Our filing cabinet had been wrenched open, and our cash box had been emptied and discarded in a corner. Loose change was scattered all over the carpet, and a bag of rolled coins from a recent fundraising activity was noticeably absent. Being the cool and collected person I am under pressure, I did a very stupid thing: I cleaned up the entire mess! It was only after I had picked the last dime off the floor that it hit me: I should be phoning the police and not wasting my time oh… you know… destroying all of the evidence (or putting my fingerprints all over the place)!!! Cripes. I may be certified as ‘school smart’, but I’m a long way from earning my MA in street smarts, that’s for damn sure.

Anyway, I phoned the police and sheepishly told the dispatcher who warned me not to touch anything that I already had. A lot. Then, while I waited for an officer to arrive, I chastised myself for all manners of things. How could I have forgotten to lock the door? Why the hell did I clean up the crime scene—have I never watched an episode of CSI?! What kind of an impression was I leaving for my employers after only one measly week of work? Who did I think I was?

I talked to an employee from a neighbouring office in the building, and we tried to solve the crime ourselves. I was pretty sure that the door had been locked when I left it, so maybe somebody had actually broken in? As we were wracking our brains for clues of some sort, this guy suddenly remembered what seemed like a crucial piece of evidence: just the other night, he said, he noticed a suspicious man pacing back and forth in front of our office in the evening, trying to look in the windows, and then dipping back around a nearby corner. As he told his story, it seemed more and more likely that this dodgy man could have had something to do with the break-in. Perhaps this hit had been premeditated by somebody who had scoped out our office beforehand! Eager to have the blame taken off of my shoulders, I asked the employee what the suspicious man had looked like. The guy proceeded to describe Marty to a tee. My dearest husband!!! The beard. The cap. The Thai fisherman’s pants. No good. Does my sweet husband really look that much like a terrorist??

It was true that Marty had been pacing back and forth in front of the building on the evening in question. However, I was quick to clarify that he was simply waiting for me to be out of my meeting, which I said would be over at 8:30 pm but didn’t actually end until 9:15. Thank god for a decent alibi!

Anyway, neither of us have been hauled off to a police station for questioning yet, but it doesn’t seem like anybody will ever be apprehended for the burglary. Not much was stolen, granted, (they don’t call them non-profits for nothing!), but I’d still feel better about the situation if there was some closure or some answers to all of the questions I have. To date, this episode remains unsolved.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Girls, Girls, Girls!

Happy International Women's Day, all! What has everybody been doing to celebrate?

I had every intention of joining the University Women Centre's squad of radical cheerleaders but... well... maybe I'm not that radical after all. (Tubular? Possibly. Radical? I guess not. Surprised? Not much.) I don't normally go through my daily life feeling terribly uncool and painfully out of it, but gatherings like these tend to make me feel a bit square. OK, a lot square. Like I'm a giant imposing 135lb square in the midst of all these modern, edgy, and hip shapes. Stars and the like. 'Stomp, stomp! Make way for the square!!'

I did manage to make it out to some of the festivities of the day (timing my arrival to coincide with the end of the march and the radical cheering about leg hair and date rape.) Awkwardness and wishful thinking aside (e.g. could I not have biked there in something more chic and ironic than cycling pants from MEC??), I did manage to snag me a homemade Feminism Loves You! t-shirt and of course, one of my personally handmade buttons! The blisters weren't for nothing, then.

As somebody who has been involved in so-called 'women's events' for a few years now, I think I prefer today's DIY flavour over the distinctly Oprah/Enya/running through a field in a flowing dress feelings I get from other women-oriented meetings. However, I still found myself pulling away from and even (confession!) occasionally rolling my eyes at the in-your-face culture jamming of some of the participants today. Perhaps it's because I heard the word 'problematize' tossed around too many times and associated it with the nasty aftertaste of the academy. Or perhaps it's just because I'm not that cool and I was jealous of everybody who had an impressive cool factor seeping out from their pores (aside: generally, a good way to get a sense of people who are not at all cool is to take note of who uses phrases like 'cool factor'. You see? That's not cool.) Whatever the reason behind my slight aversion, the rah-rah activism doesn't seem to resonate with me that much anymore. I still think it's very important to be involved and to be political, but my own style must fall somewhere in between Bikini Kill and Lilith Fair... Um, The Donnas maybe?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Stench of Academia

I just finished reading a book called Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich. In it, she goes undercover as an educated and otherwise experienced professional who ostensibly is ‘in transition’ and looking for a new position in the corporate world. She chronicles her experiences reading career manuals (ugh!), taking personality tests (double ugh!), getting image makeovers (potentially OK, but probably ugh if it has to do with the corporate world... hello, camel toes and yeast infections!), networking (uggity-ugh), and applying to hundreds upon hundreds of corporate jobs (sigh-- this gives me the cramps), all to no avail. Her and her fellow disenfranchised white-collar workers struggle to avoid the pull of downward mobility, but unfortunately, many of them end up settling for jobs that pay far less than their previous positions, offer no benefits, expect them to work ridiculous hours and discourage or even flat out reject the use of independent thinking skills. That is, of course, if any of them are even offered a job. (Most of them are turned away from position after position for being ‘overqualified’. Go figure.)

The book jacket describes her project as “Alternately hilarious and tragic”, and that’s pretty much how I felt about it, too. It was hilarious to read about an image consultant dissecting the impressions that business professionals supposedly projected to potential employers with their outfits and makeup. Note to self for future interviews: skirts are for Republicans, and gold-on-tan outfit ensembles project a ‘winning attitude’. Who knew? It was totally tragic, though, when it became painfully clear to me that the subtitle to the book could have been ‘The Story of My Life, by Dana L.’ Tragic in the sense that I can totally relate to the sad experience of downplaying or even omitting my credentials to land a job (on paper I am now MA-less), and also tragic in the sense that somebody already beat me to publishing my memoirs… There’s something very peculiar and unnerving about stumbling across the Story of Your Life and having it be written by somebody else.

I discovered in this book that many employers recoil from the 'stench of the academy'. I know from my own experiences in grad school that the university doesn't exactly smell like roses (unless the thorns have their own special scent), but certainly it doesn't smell that bad... right? On second thought: after removing my own university degrees from my resume in an effort to get called for job interviews (and having it work), maybe university does stink. I wonder if they make a deodorant for that...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

No Means No

Until I have time for a real post (possibly later this afternoon?), I'll leave you all with some visual reminders that 'no' most definitely means 'no'. Kudos to my former landlords for scattering these gems around our Entire. Apartment.

In the closet

In the closet

In the bathroom cabinet (It reads "No personal products in drains or toilet. No tampon products, napkins, ect." [sic])

On the back of the bathroom door

In the kitchen cupboards


On the front door

On the heating registers

In the laundry room

Just plain old 'no'

Monday, March 5, 2007

Double Vision

Well, I'm still a few hours away from starting my new job, and already it feels like it's going to be a bit of an adjustment... when will I be able to post to my blog? When can I read other people's blogs and comment on them? When can I take photos for my blog? (And yes, my life is all about my blog. At least it has been for a while now. And I'll admit: I liked it like that!)

It wouldn't be so bad if it was just the one job. My non-profit gig is only part-time (15 hours per week-- they can't afford to stay open any longer than that), so that would still leave plenty of time for blogging. Alas, given that I can't exactly afford to work less than half the hours of a full-time job, I've taken on a second job as well. When it rains, it pours... I can't believe I was offered two jobs in less than 24 hours, after being on the job hunt for what felt like forever. Wow. But anyway, this second job means that I will be working a dreadful 10 hours a day on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Is that allowed? It feels pretty crazy, but I'm game for it (at least for a little while...) I'll just have to recruit my four other selves and I'll be fine.

I had hoped to have a laid back weekend to ring in my return to paid employment, but yesterday I found myself caught in a 6 hour flurry of button-making in preparation for International Women's Day. I've never had the pleasure of acquainting myself with a button machine before, and I must say, even though my hand is blistered today from all of the button pressing I was doing, the repetitive movements and the nearly instant reward of a hand-crafted pin appealed to the six-year-old part of me that used to think heaven was a little something like that. Buttons and blisters. Perfection.

Anyway, the socks are done now (and look so fabulous! I'll post photos of them... whenever I can figure out a new and improved blogging schedule). And for the people who were wondering about my trip to Calgary: I'm still trying to weasel my way in for the weekend of the 17th, but it promises to be more frantic a schedule than I would have liked. We'll see!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Brain Sludge

This will be a short post today, as I'm kind of in a fog of disbelief.

I got offered a job this morning (yay! Pats on the back all around!), but now I'm starting to feel nervous. It's been a long time since I've worked anywhere, and even though I'm more than ready to get out of the house again (and also capable of doing the job I was offered), I'm also a bit scared! I'll be the only paid staff person in the whole organization. Plus, because I'll be working in the non-profit arena again (which explains the whole 'only one paid staff member' thing), I'll have to dust off my political activist hat and start keeping abreast of current affairs once more. That's not a bad thing, of course. I'm off to a good start, too: just this morning I agreed to be a radical cheerleader with an old friend from Calgary for International Women's Day. "1, 2, 3, 4-- we are women, hear us roar!" (I doubt that's how the cheers go... see how out of the loop I am?) Radical cheerleader? Yeah, right-- try 'Remedial'.

Other things that I find hard to believe today:

a) The Flames won a hockey game in a shootout last night... who knew the Flames could win in overtime? (or at all? Flames: My love for thee is fickle.)
b) It's snowing here in Victoria today, but the snow is falling so slowly. I've never seen such slow snow. It's like the flakes are suspended in honey.
c) The infamous socks are progressing, and it's almost certain now that the toes will need to be knit in a contrasting colour. The label said 420m-- don't believe her-- she lied, she lied!