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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

I jumped in the river and what did I see?
Black-eyed angels swam with me
A moon full of stars and astral cars
All the figures I used to see
All my lovers were there with me
All my past and future
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

I jumped into the river
Black-eyed angels swam with me
A moon full of stars and astral cars
And all the figures I used to see
All my lovers were there with me
All my past and future
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

—Radiohead Pyramid Song
aka my new favourite song. It's one of ~10 songs on a perpetual loop on the ipod at work. In my sleep-deprived state, I tear up a little (a lot actually) every time [see Wednesday Thoughts on Facebook]. Now that I know the words I love it even more. I've been informed that my future at work is wide open: I can be a cook, barista, weekend manager. The reason: because I'm "so awesome," in the owner's words. I'm tempted to go into management just so that I can control the ipod. That would be the awesomest perk imaginable. Details on Facebook.

I wish there was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt. Life seems to be headed toward infinite fear and doubt. The final path must soon be forged, and I'm afraid I'll fail (as usual) to make my dreams happen.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Where have all the weekends gone?

Today was the Pacific Festival of the Book. I was supposed to be volunteering from 8:30—6:00, but I managed to duck out a little after 3:00. I need to stop being so flexible. "Sure, I can start volunteering any time that day, and I can stay as long as you need me!"

There were a few very interesting things at the festival. My favourite part was when Herman Melville (a.k.a. Roderick) was roving around the Lobby and came and entertained us at the Registration Table for a while. He also told us about I Spy Craigdarroch Castle, March 17—April 1. That's where you get to go sneak around Craigdarroch pretending you're a spy, possibly accompanied by a chimney sweep (though the webpage would indicate that there is in fact only one chimney sweep). I'm not too sure how that differs from what you regularly do at Craigdarroch (excepting the chimney sweep, of course, but I doubt it will be an authentic one anyway; probably won't be a speck of coal dust in sight).

I didn't get a chance to go to any of the workshops, which is too bad because there were some self-publishing workshops that I would have found highly interesting and potentially useful. I caught the end of a book-making demo, though, so now I'll be able to make some awesome chapbooks. Not like those crappy chapbooks that I can't even get rid of for free. I'm thinking that all my new chapbooks will be originals (like, each book is different in both architecture and content). Details at eleven. Wolves are making a comeback.

The most hilarious part of the festival was when some crazy lady took the open stage (she was one of the roving performers, I think) and yelled vowels into the microphone. Many of the exhibitors chose to take cigarette breaks at that time, and one lady came out of the room exaggeratedly plugging her ears. An Irish-accented guy kept having to come back to check if the vowel lady was gone before he returned to his exhibit ("She's not married, that's for sure. Otherwise she'd be dead.") That was during my 2-hour vigil in the empty hallway, guarding the door. I should have just gone to the festival as a civilian.

I hate closing shifts; they're a whole hour of manual labour, plus it seems to take me five times longer than everyone else to sweep or mop the place. I know why, too: I sweep it as though it's a granary. Far too meticulous. It's just a cafe, it's not like we're storing grain on the floor or anything. (I haven't taken that mandatory food safety course yet, by the way. It's probably an optional mandatory course.) I've discovered that pretty much nobody at the new store has a work ethic on par with me, which makes me secretly seethe a little whenever I see something that obviously needs to be done and the newbies just say "ho hum, I think I'll have a cup of coffee." (Back in my trainee days, we didn't dream of helping ourselves to free coffee.) There's really only one trainee who would last more than five minutes at the old store. As it is, the guy who trained with me almost got fired from the old store (he now has a raise ):< ). I think everybody should be trained there, because that's where weeding out and pruning seems to get done, if you know what I mean. I have one untrainable trainee right now, and I don't quite know what to do about it. She's untrainable in the sense that she ignores what I tell her, and even decided that she could grill a panino (fun fact: panini is a plural; panino is the singular) well enough on her second day on the job to train someone how to do it. I ended up getting to tell her, "Oh, by the way, whenever you ruin food like that, you need to put it in the kitchen with a note saying how it happened, with your name and the date." She also butchered the brand new grill that the owner was so adamant that we treat well. And, she touched the new espresso bar, the one that was handmade in Italy, the one that nobody but baristas are allowed near. The barista had to come stop the burst of steam that she set going. I have plenty of other complaints, but it's probably bad form to blog about work in the first place. We'll just pretend I've been talking about school, that's perfectly permissible.

Tomorrow I agreed (again, too readily) to pick up a shift someone canceled at the old store, so it's two solid weeks of early mornings and not enough downtime. Plus, I don't have Analysis this week, so not having a weekend today and tomorrow pretty much makes this a 12-day workweek for me.

I've decided that weekends will henceforth be Megan times. No more of this non-weekend, non-sleeping-in nonsense. After all, I'm pretty sure that two of my top three biggest regrets in life will end up being 1) not spending as much time as humanly possible with the people who matter most, and 2) not sleeping in nearly enough.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The purple haze in Hogwarts

Boy, do I ever love Analysis class. The Conservatory looks like Hogwarts, and there's always a medley of music floating down from the windows. Perhaps some day I will teach in just such a conservatory, or at least sit in it and write music. Mr. Brown was playing Purple Haze on the piano to demonstrate chords. But then he said "You don't need me anymore," and that we'd only have a few more lessons :'( How tragic.

The new store opened almost on time yesterday, and the pace picked up some more today. My job is now much more like the ideal coffee-place job I had always envisioned, but training people really sucks. Mostly I tell them how to do something, then I show them how to do it, then I notice that they never do it or even check if it needs doing again, then I ask them to do it while I'm out on break, then I come back and do it myself instead. I had to cover up for so many mistakes and general negligences today that by the time I left I felt like the grumpy snappy lady who occasionally takes my bus. I also hate closing; today was the first time I had ever been there for closing, and did one heck of a lot of mopping. The day also felt 5 hours longer than usual. I much prefer interacting with customers (shockingly!). The new store is extremely beautiful, and I like it a lot, but I acutely miss working with the old-store crew.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Prescription: 1 Caramel Frappucino

The grand opening is now set for Wednesday, and as of today I am the new supervisor (woot phoot). Of the entire staff in the new store, I am older than everybody except the owner and the manager. I also kicked a migraine using only scones, pineapple, and a caramel frappucino (because I wasted my last migraine-stopper on a regular headache, blast it all), plus I will get paid for orientation as well as my regular shift today; it's been a decent day all round. And to top it all off... I don't have to wake up tomorrow morning! Phootacular.

The new store has ample wallspace, so the management is proposing to use it to showcase local art. If I had my paints, I'd claim a wall tomorrow. I think there's enough room for a baby grand, but I doubt if anyone else would agree.

There would be new drawings now if I had any more paper, but they will have to wait.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The rural horror brewery

Happy St. Patrick's Day from yesterday! There seem to be so many days to celebrate recently. Yesterday also happened to be my great uncle & aunt's 62nd anniversary, so we had a small gathering for that at my first cousin twice removed's place (I don't know what removed means, but it sounds neat so that's what I call her). Their house is so awesome, it's a heritage home built in 1913-14 and almost everything in it dates from that era, or is at least antique-y. It's like a museum where you're allowed to sit in the furniture, play with the grammophone, and touch things! And dining feels like High Tea at the Gatsby. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't touch things, but their cats have been known to sharpen their claws on the rugs and vinyl records and spray the bronze statues.

Between Thai food there (food poisoning?), and perhaps a touch too many refreshments for St. Paddy's day in the evening elsewhere (hangover :S), I've been feeling terribly ill all day. The only time I've ever felt worse is when I had a 48-hour stomach flu in university; I foolishly tried to go to class and it ended up taking me 2 hours to get back to Luther from the Ad Hum building, mostly because I had to stop and take a nap in the restrooms to build up strength for the next leg of the journey every so often. But then Jacenta took care of me so it was all good.

I had been waiting for St. Patrick's Day to roll around so that I could debunk it (kind of like my Lest We Forget rant) but I can't remember what that was all about, and the book that does know is back in Saskatchewan. Oh well, I'll just look forward to St. Swithin's Day instead.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Pides of March

Happy Pi Day and Happy Einstein's Birthday from yesterday, and Happy Ides of March today. Beware. I propose we create a new two-day festival called the Pides.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Call me... "Wrap Factory"

My head is finally purple (not bright purple, unfortunately), but the haircut's not as unusual as I had hoped. In fact... it turned out to be pretty much my usual. Blast. I wish it were sky blue with pink and purple streaks. That would be awesome.

I got to be a wrap factory at work today, and also made soup for the first time. Making food is awesome, because it makes time go by swiftly. I hope I get to make all the food in the new store, and leave serving to my underlings. It seems like everything's breaking at the store, though. Today there was no hot water (except in the coffee machines) and one of the πpods wasn't working so we had to listen to the same 4 Bob Marley songs over and over (shudder). But broken things take people's attention off of me and my mishaps, so that's all good.

The Herr Brown quotation of the week: "Well, I'm not going to look closely at this. It must be right." I love it when he plays the piano for me. So jazzy.

How much you changed....

TEN YEARS AGO
How old were you? 12
Where did you go to school? Sedley High
Where did you work? nowhere/farming?
Where did you live? Francis, Saskatchewan
Where did you hang out? Negative
What was your hair style? either quite long, or really short... probably really short about then, actually
Did you wear glasses? never
Who were your best friends? Angela, Sam, Jennifer, Adam... as always through school
How many tattoos did you have? again, negative
How many piercings did you have?: 2 (ears)
What car did you drive? the good ol' station wagon (but only around the country, I was 12)
What was your worst fear? going to school, every single day. Got over it in about grade 11/12
Had you driven yet? yes, especially swathers
Had you been to a real party yet? no
Had your heart broken? no
Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter: single

FIVE YEARS AGO
How old were you? 17
Where did you go to school ? Sedley High
Where did you work? nowhere/camp in the summer I turned 18
Where did you live? Francis, SK
Where did you hang out? umm.... does drama club count as hanging?
How was your hair style? long & layered
Did you wear glasses? never
Who were your best friends? Angela, Sam, Adam
Who was your regular-person crush? A guy in another class
How many tattoos did you have? none
How many piercings did you have?: 6 (ears)
What car did you drive? the Carsicle (a.k.a. LTD)
What was your favorite band/group? Treble Charger, and probably also Marilyn Manson
What was your worst fear? leaving home
Had you been to a real party yet? yes
Had your heart broken? not really
Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter: taken, then single

MARCH 2007
How old are you?: 22
Where do you work? Dolce Vita Coffee Art
Where do you live? Victoria
Where do you hang out? possibly Starbucks, if wolfing down scones by myself and leaving quickly counts as hanging
How is your hair style? shortish, layered, and PURPLE
Do you wear glasses? never!
Who are your best friends? Ryan, Kate, Blake, Angela
Do you talk to your old friends? some of them
How many piercings do you have? 6
How many tattoos? 0
What kind of car do you have? a bus (that someone else drives)
What is your favorite band/group? so many, but if I had to pick most grooves per capita it'd be a tie between Nine Inch Nails and Amon Tobin
What is your biggest fear? being left behind, and to a much lesser extent running out of Maxalt
Have you been arrested, if so how many times total? no
Has your heart been broken? somewhat
Single/Taken/Married/Divorced/Bitter: taken and smitten

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Century of Humanity

I dreamed last night that it was 2058, and the world was a strange place. In fact, it was on the road to ethnic cleansing. Actually, the whole world wasn't 2058, just when I climbed a mountain there happened to be a futuristic civilization up there. Must be due to general relativity or something.

I finally finished Shake Hands With The Devil, which every human should read. Here are some quotations from it:

"In the aisles and on the pews were the bodies of hundreds of men, women and children. At least fifteen of them were still alive but in a terrible state. The priests were applying first aid to the survivors. A baby cried as it tried to feed on the breast of its dead mother... The night before, [two Polish MILOBs] said, the RGF had cordoned off the area, and then the Gendarmerie had gone door to door checking identity cards. All Tutsi men, women and children were rounded up and moved to the church. ... the gendarmes collected the adults' identity cards and burned them. Then the gendarmes welcomed in a large number of civilian militiamen with machetes and handed over the victims to their killers. ... By the destruction of their cards, and of their records at the local commune office, these human beings were erased from humanity. They simply never existed. Before the genocide ended, hundreds of thousands of others would be erased." (280-81)

"I had long been arguing with New York that RTLM had to be shut down, as it was a direct instrument in promoting genocide. The UN did not have the means to stop the broadcasts, either through jamming, a direct air strike on the transmitter, or covert operations, but it made a formal request of the United States, which had the means to try all three. The issue was studied by the Pentagon, which in due course recommended against conducting the operation because of the cost—$8,500 an hour for jamming aircraft over the country—and the legal dilemma. Bandwidth within a nation is owned by the nation, and jamming a national radio station would violate international convention on national sovereignty. The Pentagon judged that the lives of the estimated 8,000-10,000 Rwandans being killed each day in the genocide were not worth the cost of fuel or the violation of Rwandan airwaves. The death toll, which was estimated at 200,000 by the end of April, reached 500,000 by the end of May and 800,000 by the last day of June." (375)

"There were remnants of a barrier here, and many people had been killed and thrown in the ditches and on the sides of the road. As I got out to wait, I looked at the bodies, which seemed relatively fresh. Just as I glimpsed the body of a child, it moved. I wasn't sure if it was my imagination, but I saw the twitching of the child and wanted to help. I leaned down to pick the child up, and suddenly I was holding a little body that was both tingling and mushy in my hands. In a second I realized that the movement was not the child but the action of maggots." (401)

"'The Interahamwe made a habit of killing young Tutsi children, in front of their parents, by first cutting off one arm, then the other. They would then gash the neck with a machete to bleed the child slowly to death but, when they were still alive, they would cut off the private parts and throw them at the faces of the terrified parents, who would then be murdered with slightly greater dispatch.' Khan [Shaharyar M. Khan, appointed SRSG June '94] was wrong when he wrote that the veterans of the genocide had become hardened to such things. We were simply putting off our feelings until later." (462)

"...the U.S. 'has taken a leading role in efforts to protect the Rwandan people and ensure humanitarian assistance. ... [It has] provided $9 million in relief, flown about 100 Defense Department missions... strongly supported an expanded UNAMIR, air-lifting 50 armoured personnel carriers to Kampala ... [and is] equipping the UN's Ghanian peacekeeping battalion.' Clinton's fibbing dumbfounded me. The DPKO was still fighting for the Pentagon for military cargo planes to move materiel. The Pentagon had actually refused to equip the Ghanaians as they felt the bill was too high and that Ghana was trying to gouge them. And who exactly got the $9 million?"

[Many, many times throughout the book, the US blocked all efforts to reinforce UNAMIR (the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda) and was the constant frustration of UNAMIR. You can't help but feel outraged at the US, who had so much potential to help and not only did nothing, but actually prohibited efforts to help.]

"... during those last weeks, we received a shocking call from an American staffer, whose name I have long forgotten. He was engaged in some sort of planning exercise and wanted to know how many Rwandans had died, how many were refugees, and how many were internally displaced. He told me that his estimates indicated that it would take the deaths of 85,000 Rwandans to justify the risking of the life of one American soldier." (498-99)

"In the last decades of the twentieth century, self-interest, sovereignty and taking care of number one became the primary criteria for any serious provision of support or resources to the globe's trouble spots. If the country in question is of any possible strategic value to the world powers, then it seems that everything from covert operations to the outright use of overwhelming force is fair game. If it is not, indifference is the order of the day." (519-20)

I wish I could find the part about how many tens of thousands of bodies had been pulled out of Lake Victoria.

Many times throughout the book I had to stop and just be incredulous and outraged at what had happened. We always think, "How can such things happen in the world?" Well, because we rarely do anything other than just be outraged. Outrage is not enough. But what the hell, I don't know where to start.

I apologize for only giving these various quotations without my opinion on them. I used to routinely get flack about not having coherent arguments or opinions, but my method of thinking is somewhat Impressionistic: I hold all these disparate images in my mind, and come out with an overall picture that isn't defined in very fine lines, but is there nonetheless. I can't put my thoughts to words like other people can, and I can't explain myself very easily. But I hope you share my feelings about things like Rwanda.

"In the future we must be prepared to move beyond national self-interest to spend our resources and spill our blood for humanity. We have lived through centuries of enlightenment, reason, revolution, industrialization, and globalization. No matter how idealistic the aim sounds, this new century must become the Century of Humanity, when we as human beings rise above race, creed, colour, religion and national self-interest and put the good of humanity above the good of our own tribe." (522)

Friday, March 09, 2007

floating on cherry blossoms

Because I always arrive at things way too early, I take a detour while walking from the bus stop to work every morning. Cherry trees seem to be as populous in Victoria as elm trees are in Regina, and right now they're blooming. I love walking on a carpet of pink petals early in the morning. It's like being in a painting.

And because I'm apparently doing awesome at work (who knew?), I will not only get a raise effective when the new store opens on the 20th, but they also want me to be a supervisor there. This is "very exceptional," they tell me. I don't know why I'm the one who was lucky enough to get the first shift, or why I get the most hours of all the new people, but... well lucky me, I guess. I wasn't even going to go to work today because I've been rather ill for a couple days, but then I did because I'm too chicken to call in sick. I'm glad I did go, though, because it happened to be pay day as well as promotion day. Wooo! Except Maxalt + Codeine = me in a cloud. Or in a London Fog, as it were. I'm so glad it's the weekend. Time for theory and tax returns (lest the horde of tax men come after me again).

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Beats Me

I have a strong urge to watch Requiem for a Dream. Or maybe just listen to the soundtrack over and over. That and Amon Tobin (I definitely have to get Amon Tobin hooked up on the ipod at work, I'm absolutely certain it would go over with immense success, at least in the new store. Maybe not so much in the old store where anything heavier than Mozart is forbidden during my shift. OMG I'm listening to it right now and it's almost inconceivable how awesome it is). And Nine Inch Nails. And especially Massive Attack. And all my miscellaneous favourites. Maybe I'll just spend Thursday listening to music. Playing the piano would be even better. I'll have to hook myself up with a practice room if I continue RCM studies in the fall.

The Mr. Brown quote of the week: in answer to an RCM question about what he himself was thinking while writing his own composition (I left the question blank, I had no clue), he thought for a few minutes, offered some token answers that the examiners might accept, then wrote down this. I love this class so much. I almost didn't get the most important part of this week's assignment done—I ask you, why does The Bay not sell dividers, or even paper?? Most inconvenient.

Still no tips... For that matter, no wages either. Pay day had better come soon, or I shall mount a protest. I don't even have a tip jar. Apparently tip dispersal is backed up by a week or so, so that should be remedied someday. How am I supposed to go eat lunch at Starbucks every day if I have no petty cash? Maybe that's the idea, they're trying to discourage that. One of these days I'll have to try our Wicked Soup though, because it smells delicious and makes me increasingly hungry throughout the day. I'm the designated apple strudels and quiche baker, which I've finally perfected. The latest goal is to open the new store on March 22. I hear there are chandeliers in it. It's also much much bigger. I still can't think of any drawings ideas.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Gardens, Gargoyles, and... Clowns.

Some of the writing I did for The Luther Story is now up on the web: I interviewed a handful of alumni who have worked on books, the famous Canadian clown Izzy (Shannan Calcutt). I also wrote one on the High School's Class Marshall program, but it doesn't seem to be attributed to me (or anyone). I'm very glad they want me to continue writing for them.

I feel very creaky, as if my legs from the knees down have been recently carved out of hickory or something. Feels like a cold is impending, but it's been so nice out! I could stroll around the Empress gahdens every day. Capital!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Going Purple... Eventually


Angela came for a visit this weekend—guess who we saw busking! Chad Vader in person, I tell you. We also found a fantastic antiqu-in-arian bookstore, and I now have a collection of old moldy books. I mean, most of them just smell like lovely old leather books, but one seriously smells of mold. But it is possibly the best book of the bunch—it's a Latin grammar! From 1859! or thereabouts. I'm also hooked on High Tea. Methinks I'll wander off to the Blethering Place one of these days. Maybe they'd even let me play some piano ditties, though I doubt it.

Work is actually going fairly well. It's not something I'd want to do long-term, by any means. Once I get divvied some tips it will be even better. Then maybe I'll be able to afford that hair-chopping-and-dying I've wanted for the last half year. [Edit: no, I have not been saving up for months with the single goal of getting a haircut. Gosh. I'm just trying to severely cut down my frivolous purchases, and I feel like I really need to not turn my head purple in the same week that I spend a hundred dollars on stupid work shirts.] And boots... god how I want boots. I should probably invest in some better standing-around/walking shoes first, though, since boots are probably impractical for work. I'd much rather work this job only part-time, so I could have more time for studying for music exams and possibly a more "real" job like teaching English, or some other job that involves chairs. I am highly looking forward to doing tutor-mentor/TA-type work when I'm a student. As it is, I'm not doing full-time hours anyways. I have no idea when the new store will open; I heard the other day that they had originally planned on opening up a new store by Christmas... but construction seems to be going, at least. The new sign is up.

It looks like freelancing is definitely in the future once again, which is fantastic provided I don't have to phone US people like last time (I can no longer mooch my parents' bundle). I'm pretty excited to get some copies of the latest issue of the magazine. I'll be a real writer!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Department of Silly Walks

It's almost Christmasy here, what with snowflakes falling here and there. Reminds me of Christmas days of old at Grandma's. I miss those days. I also miss the ol' orchard at home, but the cherry trees are starting to bloom here!

I finally completed my first-ever choral composition. I really hope to hear it performed some day. I just started 20th century serialism in Analysis this week... maybe I'll attempt an atonal fugue or something, though I think that's oxymoronic. I just might have irrevocably strayed into the cluster chord camp.