ALL OVER THE PLACE

The Queen’s Meme: All Over the Place

1. Pretend you are making a passion quilt. What would be on the center square? If not the Enterprise, the whole quilt would be book spines featuring my favorite novels.

2. One of those traffic cameras catches you running a red light and you get a ticket in the mail. What else did the camera catch inside your vehicle that you might not want everyone to see? Empty Starbucks cups on the floor.

3. When is the last time you had to cancel plans? I’m in the process of canceling plans for Dragon*Con 2012, but still squarely in the denial phase of mourning. It’s Labor Day weekend and I haven’t been able to set even a single day off approved.

4. What is your favorite magazine? National Geographic. I haven’t had a subscription since my early teens, but it’s the only magazine besides Highlights for Children for which I have nostalgic longings.

5. What is the riskiest thing you have ever done? Moving to South Carolina without ever having set foot in the state with a year lease on an apartment. Nearly two years later, I can safely say my risk paid off in all sorts of ways I never could have predicted.

6. Have you ever worked in an office with someone who drove you crazy? What did they do and how did you handle it? Yes. The type of stuff that drives me crazy is usually one end of the spectrum or the other. Blatant lack of professionalism drives me crazy. Swearing, dressing nice for the club or stealing co-worker’s lunches out of the break room fridge. Not cool people. Act like a grown-up. Just as annoying, however, as I find unprofessional people, I can’t standing being micromanaged or people who get all uptight about pointless details. The bottom line of what I have to do to satisfy the client(s) and keep my boss from being annoyed with me is pretty much all I want to hear about, then leave me be to do my job. The example I can give of this is an old team lead of mine. I worked in a third party call center for a telecommunications company. Sometimes accounts would require credits for various reasons and we agents would fill out paper tickets with all the information for a team lead to review. This guy would come back hours or days later to let me know about my tickets, explaining in great detail, why he elected to approve or decline the credit. It was not in the form of coaching, but a follow up on my request. Now, to those who have never worked in a call center, it sounds rather nice to hear back on an issue you’re working. But, in a call center for a national company, you’re never going to see the account again and if you do, you can read the notes. I would have taken dozens or hundreds of other calls since I wrote out the ticket. Bless his heart (as they say here in the South), I never found a diplomatic way to say, “Once the call disconnects, I don’t care. Note the account with what you did to cover both our butts and forget about it.” I don’t know how people who sweat every transaction and maintain their sanity, but I know it doesn’t help anything.

7. What is the weirdest or most unusual thing you’ve ever done in an elevator? I once took a picture of a Wookie with a disassembled robot on his back in an packed to the brim elevator.

KINDLE DAILY DEAL: BIGGEST DECISION OF THE DAY

I love Amazon.

Since I got my Kindle for Christmas, I’ve spent more time shopping on Amazon and ordered more items from them than ever before. Note, I did not say I’ve spent more money with them than before. After Christmases 2011 and 2012 alone, I can safely say my book downloading hasn’t yet come close to my physical orders in cost.

I am, rather, as thrifty in my ebook habits as I ever was in acquiring physical books. Used books, hand-me-downs and, occasionally, PaperBackSwap were the main ways I grew my paper library. For Kindle, it’s Pixel of Ink for scoops on free books on Amazon and Project Gutenberg for all kinds of classics, plus Kindle Daily Deals and other promotions. I’ll buy a book at list price if it’s really important, but I begrudge anything over $10 as publishers hanging onto the last bit of extra cash they can garner before the market corrects for the fact the physical product costs more to produce and deliver. I am all about writers, editors and (please hire one, people) copy editors getting paid. Even in the digital age, marketing a major author takes some cash. I’m not cool with seeing the Kindle edition go for the same as the paperback. There are millions of books in the world and I’m happy to find one within my price range.

While I am still not spending much on books, in many ways, Amazon’s features and business practices have changed my reading experience.

The Daily Deal is certainly the most obvious change. Each night around 3 am Eastern Standard, an extremely good deal goes live for 24-hours. I pride myself on being thrifty, but not cheap, so I try to look at the one day only specials Amazon posts with a critical, but not too critical eye.

A few titles, I’ve pounced on without a second thought. I’d seen How We Decidereviewed at some point, likely on Slate. I bought Matched based on the recommendation from a book blog and because I love dystopian stories. Neverwhere because Neil Gaiman is wonderful and weird. As I already explained why How to Read Literature Like a Professor was too tempting to resist.

Up until recently, I didn’t check out the Daily Deal every day. My change in schedule has made it more a part of my routine. I get off work at the same time the deal goes live and find myself pulling up the page on my phone in the elevator on the way out of the office. Since the prices typically range from $1.99 to $3.99, I’m pretty comfortable going ahead with as many as are worthwhile especially since I am often disappointed with the offering. Dog the Bounty Hunter’s memoir somehow isn’t my idea of compelling literature.

The nights when I instantly nix the title are the easiest. Most often, as the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Since my taste in books runs broad, the tiny blurb on the Kindle store page is seldom enough to rule out the deal. Next, I read the summary to establish wither I’m interested in the slightest. I can’t explain the factors which get me past this point, except to say most books make it to the next stage: I download a sample, usually the first chapter and a half, to my Kindle for inspection.

Sampling is one of my favorite things about using Kindle. It is a million times better then standing the the bookstore, reading the back cover and making a rush decision. Maybe if I’d had the luxury of hanging around Barnes & Noble for an hour whenever I wanted, I wouldn’t be so enamored, but for me starting a book before making a financial commitment has been a revolution. Plus, rather than keeping a wish list of books I want to remember to buy down the road, I simply download the sample.

With the Daily Deals or, my new discovery, $3.99 and under monthly specials, I prioritize sample reading and decision making for those titles. Naturally, I don’t want to discover after the price has returned to normal that I must finish the book. Some would mention the Kindle lending library, but it only offers one book a month which is nice but not enough to keep me in reading material.

The Daily Deal, even downloaded as early as 3:02 am, causes the most pressure. I find myself looking at these works far more harshly than I would if, say, I checked them out of the library on a whim. Rather than letting the story roll over me, I look for things which would drive me to stop reading: Characters who seem annoying or unrealistic, historical inconsistencies or plot holes. If I am to invest both my precious reading time and my hard earned $1.99 in a book, I don’t want to put it down unfinished.

In a book offered at regular price, the effect is not so drastic. I can safely say, I won’t buy it unless it was pretty much a sure thing before I read the sample. Take Scali’s Redshirts. Even at $11.99, I happily pressed “buy it now” because I knew I would love every moment and was unwilling to wait for the price to drop and considered it more of an early adopter tax.

I am sad to say, I have given free books – paper and digital – far more of my time than I should on many occasions in an effort to given them a fair shake. Maybe it is better that I am so terribly critical of these early chapters. I feel a strange near-guilt over cutting books I find unworthy. Worse, it seems arbitrary and unscientific as I can sometimes say why I didn’t buy a book, but I can hardly ever name the reason I say yes without an honorable recommendation or a known author. What if I was wrong to buy On Bear Mountain and not to buy Garden of Lies, nixed because I felt it unrealistic to have a wealthy 1940s American woman out shopping by herself in the final weeks of her pregnancy. Since the entire plot hinged on it, I could hardly continue. If I was wrong, I may never know, but I may read a glowing review in the coming weeks and regret my decision.

Likely it is better, this new vetting process. While my fondest wish may be to get to all the wonderful books, I must face my time is limited and read accordingly. Still, it feels strange to scrutinize so in the early pages of a book I wonder if I’ll ever feel it normal.

Now, excuse me, it’s nearly time to pull up Amazon and hit refresh until the Daily Deal posts.

STILL TOO TIRED

Sunday Stealing: The Too Tired to Think Meme, Part 2

26. What type of errands do you like running? I love shopping at Costco. Once you have a routine, it’s fast and pleasant. It’s easy, too, to keep in our primary good eating items for much less than a regular grocery store: Frozen meats and fish, fresh and frozen veggies, and various fruits.

27. Have you ever eaten snow? Not that I remember, but most of my childhood was spent in places where it seldom snows enough to eat snow without also eating grass and dirt.

28. What color are your bedsheets? The current set is Ivory, but their is a pale blue set, too.

29. What’s your favorite flower? Lilacs or Queen Anne’s Lace. Both low maintenance and abundant blooms.

30. Do you do ballet? Like all little girls, I went through a period where I wanted to take ballet. I was around seven years old and in first grade. I would have been awful, but I am in favor of kids and grownups alike trying things at with they naturally stink for the many benefits struggling to learn a new skill brings. Plus, maybe I’d be slightly less awkward if I’d taken a dance or martial arts class.

31. Do you listen to classical music? Does the Animaniacs soundtrack count? Classical music was MADE for cartoons.

32. What is the first TV Theme song that pops in your head? Tossed salads and scrambled eggs:

33. Do you watch Sponge Bob? I have seen a handful of episodes in the company of various children, but I do not like it. I always say, I prefer my “chemically enhanced” style of cartoon to be made for adults like Auqa Teen Hunger Force.

34. What temperature is it outside right now? Hot, but not unbearable is my unscientific assessment. Weather.com says 85 degrees.

35. Do people consider you smart? Generally, yes. I am well spoken with a large vocabulary and a head for trivia. I’m not sure if that makes me smart, but it does make me seem smart.

36. How many piercing do you have? One in each earlobe, same as I’ve had since I was nine. I rarely wear earrings.

37. Are you signed on [to] AIM? Not since ’99.

38. Have you ever tried gluing your fingers together? Lucky for me, I learned how to separate my fingers for the Vulcan Live Long and Prosper greeting without resorting to adhesives.

39. How do you feel about your family? I love my family. I don’t know most of my relatives very well.

40. Do you have an iPod? Nope. I’ve never owned an Apple product. I started using iTunes a couple years ago to subscribe to podcasts which I sometimes transfer to my Android phone. Not impressed enough to join the Mac culture.

41. What time do you go to bed? These days, bedtime is 5 or 5:30 am.

42. What CD is currently in your CD player? I don’t use a CD player. We have an FM transmitter in the car and I have a few dozen tracks on my phone.

43. What movie do you know every line to? The Princess Bride.

44. What is your favorite salad dressing? French.

45. What do you want for Christmas this year? I never know what I want for Christmas.

46. What family member/friend lives the farthest from you? Where? Gloria lives in Australia. We met through blogging, but have spent enough time chatting and shared serious enough conversations to count as “real” friends.

47. Do you like hugs? When appropriate. I am not typically an “I just met you, let’s hug” person, but I love hugs from friends and family.

48. Last time you had butterflies in your stomach? At the dress rehearsal for our Klingon wedding.

49. What’s the way people most often mispronounce any part of your name? Not exactly a mispronouncing, but I find people often get my first name wrong or shorten it any which way without regard for what I actually am called. My full first name is Christina and my nickname Tina. Most people call me Tina and many are confused when they don’t see a Tina on the roster even though it’s a common shorting. I have even thought about legally changing to Tina to avoid having to explain I’m Christina to people who know me as Tina. Besides not being sure how my mother would feel about it, the fact I’d still have a paper trail of documents under Christina and would have to explain I changed it legally to avoid confusion would be trading one confusion for another. The other thing that happens I get called Chrisy, Cristy, Christine or, the worst, Chris. While those are perfectly fine names, none of them are mine.

50. Last person you hugged? Chris.

MONDAY PINKIE PIE GIF (AND, YES, I’M A BRONY)

I’ve mentioned Ponies in passing here and there on the blog, but today is a day for excited Pinkie Pie. A bit redundant, one could argue, but I would say one should differentiate from scary Pinkie with the straight hair throwing a party for turnips and rocks or Pinkie chasing a pony down for breaking a Pinkie Promise. I never want to experience those first-hand. This GIF makes me smile, smile, smile just like Pinkie wants all her friends to do.

Feel free to bookmark this post, as I plan to do, and come back whenever you need a pink-party-pony-pick-me-up.

TOO TIRED TO THINK

Sunday Stealing: The Too Tired to Think Meme, Part 1

1. You have 10 dollars and need to buy snacks at a gas station. What do you get? Sodas and candy bars. Or Hostess Cupcakes and milk if it’s breakfast time.

2. If you were reincarnated as a sea creature, what would you want to be? Dolphin, of course, unless I can be the Humpback whale Spock comes back to the 80s to save in The Voyage Home.

3. Who’s your favorite redhead? Wendy

4. What do you order when you’re at IHOP? With working til 3 am, IHOP is one of the few options available if we decide cooking in the wee hours of the morning just isn’t going to happen. There are a few things I like, but the new Red Velvet pancakes are a requirement. Holy crap, are they amazing?

5. Last book you read? Redshirts by John Scalzi. It was so amazingly good, I’m reading it through again before doing a write up.

6. Describe your mood. A little punchy.

7. Describe the last time you were injured. I burned my… ah… boob self draining pasta a few weeks ago. I’m still healing.

8. Of all your friends, who would you want to be stuck in a well with? Kate, of course, which is convenient since she is the friend with whom it is most likely misadventure would lead to being stuck down a well together. Oh and happy birthday, Kate. Let’s agree you’ll stay twenty-nine and I’ll stay eleven months older than you, okay?

9. Rock concert or symphony? Rock. Classical music is best when scoring cartoons.

10. What is the wallpaper of your cell phone? The number? (We’ll just say “hi” – promise.) I’ve got animated bubbles floating around on a blue background. It’s one of the default backgrounds, nothing special. My number? Well, it starts 864.

11. Favorite soda?

Depends: cans or bottles Diet Coke, fountain Diet Dr. Pepper. I also prefer my soda room temperature or slightly cool and order with no ice at restaurants.

12. What type of shirt are you wearing? Pale green with white flowers on the front. There are tiny seed beads covering the flowers. I have a lavender one just like it. Target clearance a couple years ago.

13. If you could only use one form of transportation? Transporter.

14. Most recent movie you have watched in theater? The Avengers. Chris and I are planning to see Dark Knight Rises on Monday or Tuesday. The last movie before that was Captain America or possibly Deathly Hallows Part 2 based on the close release dates, but either way, my point stands: there seems to be some sort of pattern I’ve been unable to put my finger on.

15. Name an actor/actress/singer you have had the hots for. Typically, my “hots” are more character driven than actor driven. I loved/love Spock, not Nimoy or Captain Jack, not John Barrowman, Indiana Jones, not Harrison Ford. I know that doesn’t seem like much of a distinction, but it is very different. An actor is a real person who I know little if anything about. A character is fictional, but I know them as well as the program or film allows. One notable – slightly embarrassing – exception was my early teenage years’ huge crush on Chris O’Donnell.

16. What’s your favorite kind of cake? When I was growing up, Mom would make a coconut cake with chocolate frosting and maraschino cherries on it for my birthday. The combination of flavors is my favorite though a good homemade cake of any flavor is welcomed.

17. What did you have for dinner last night? Hamburger patties and fresh tomatoes.

18. Look to your left, what do you see? My purse, Kindle and cell phone piled atop the three ring binder containing my notes for work.

19. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Nope. I wear mostly slip on shoes anyway. My sneakers get unties when I go to put them back on.

20. Favorite toy as a child? My Cabbage Patch doll, Lisa, was the most beloved, but my favorite toy to this day is Barbie.

21. Do you buy your own groceries? I am present for most of the grocery shopping. Chris paid for far more of them than I since we’ve lived together, but now we’re making about the same amount of money, so we’re paying for expenses more evenly.

22. Do you think people talk about you behind your back? I have known of a few cases of people talking behind my back, but I suspect it’s not happening too much these days. I do everything I can to steer away from the drama mongers who enjoy that sort of thing. If anyone still does, they’re missing out on far more interesting topics of conversation.

23. When was the last time you had gummy worms? It’s been long enough, I don’t remember. I prefer the German gummi bears in the gold packaging on the rare occasions I crave gummy candy.

24. What’s your favorite fruit? I love citrus in the winter when they are in season. I’ve eaten tons of apples in the past few months thanks to this little lady:

Applejack

 

25. Do you have a picture of yourself doing a cartwheel? To my knowledge, I have never performed a successful cartwheel. If you see any such pictures of me, rest assured, they are Photoshopped.

MORE 18 INCH DOLL CLOTHES

 

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I made this batch of doll clothes in May.

I took pictures with the intent of documenting them on the blog, but as so often happens, I didn’t do it right away. If I were all smooth and slick, I wouldn’t have mentioned how old these pictures are, but, hey, we’re all about honesty that makes me look like a slacker here at NerdBliss.

The important part is that I promptly mailed them to Sabrina, my BFF Kate’s daughter, my niece and owner of an American Girl doll. Since her birthday is close to Christmas, I thought it might be nice to send a summer vacation care package, plus any reason to both use my stash of remnant fabrics and shop for additional pieces or patterns.

Enough with the chit-chat and on to the pictures:

 

Black Bathing Suit from McCall’s M4896

 

Hounds tooth skirt, navy leggings, camisole.

 

I had to make the cami to bridge the weird gap in the ruffle shirt. Not sure why the pattern was designed this way.

 

With the vest. Despite the weird gap, I like the trendy look of McCall’s M6480

 

I made the vest reversible since the lining – made from Klingon wedding scraps – was too pretty to waste.

 

The reversible part wasn’t part of the pattern, but it was simple enough to tuck in the seams where the front and back connect under the arms.

 

The hat sells the look. Sadly, I didn’t get a better picture.

 

Real leather boots. They were a hassle to sew.

 

I winged it on these, but they came out well enough. I was on a mission to make shoes since learning Sabrina’s doll only had one pair. Unacceptable even for a plastic girl.

ONE OR MANY STORIES

It’s Friday as I start my response and will likely be Saturday when I publish it in addition to being the Monday of my workweek, yet I have an answer to share for Booking Through Thursday, so here is the question:

Series or Stand-alone?

My ideal preference is for related books based in – to borrow a science fiction term – the same universe yet with each book a self contained story. I like meeting old friends again or peaking behind corners I wasn’t privy to in another book, but I prefer not to need additional reading to complete the story.

I can name several sets of books I love which fit the standard of “companion” books.

Madeleine L’Engle, my favorite author since I first read A Wrinkle in Time, had interconnections in nearly all of her novels. In most editions of her young adult works, you’ll find a family tree linking her characters. When I first saw it in the copies of the Time Quartet, I poured over it. I spent the next several years acquiring each related title and read them all into dog-eared familiarity.

At the other end of my taste in books, Rachel Gibson often writes romances for supporting cast in previous books or slips in a situation where an old friend can make a cameo without making it a series.
She wrote a bunch of stories featuring the fictional Seattle Chinooks Hockey Team in one way or another and books set in a rural Idaho town and a Texas town. The closest she comes to a true series is her quartet of friends each of whom are writers in a different genera and have completely different approaches to romance. Even those are stand-alone stories even though it’s obvious each woman will eventually get a book of her own. Being romance, they can be read out of order because the formula of girl meets boy, conflict keeps them apart, conflict is resolved, happily ever after ensues is a given. All that is revealed in reading out of order is the name attached to the inevitable spouse.

If truly choosing between a series or a stand-alone book without the option of companion books, I would have to go for stand-alone books. I often feel, especially with modern writers, a story is split into “trilogies” or more simply for financial reasons. If it’s not a literary device, I would rather a writer tell me the story in one volume. Even Tolkien wanted Lord of the Rings to be one book, so I do suspect the vast majority of decisions to serialize comes from the publisher rather than the writer.

It is not just my inner cynic, however, preferring one book over many. The list of books which I count not just as favorites, but as life impacting includes so many titles without sequels or companions. Many of them leave little room for addition except in the reader’s imagination. I can’t fathom a book to go with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Girl With Pearl Earring, or The Red Tent. Or A Handmaid’s Tale. Or Nightfall. Or To Live Again. I could go on for days listing titles.

I go back to the original when I want visit with my friends who live in that world. I know them intimately, yet each time I see the book a new way. I believe there is a C.S. Lewis quote regarding the necessity of reading a book more than once to really understand it, but I haven’t been able to find it. Even if he didn’t say it, I do. Certainly, a book well loved is different each time it is read if for no other reason than the personal growth in the reader which occurs between readings.

It seems in my own reading, the more books about a character, the less depth the subsequent readings provides. One book is like a single painting or photograph. A series is like a movie. When you look at a single stationary object of art over a period of time, the meaning comes not from seeing things you haven’t seen before, but from seeing the same things in a different way. Of course, the experience exists in any artistic form, but is seems to me the more brevity in the work, the more room for seeing this way. Short stories or poems work better than novels, I think, and single books better than series.

With all that being said, sometimes a series is necessary to the story or format of the stories. Detective tales lend themselves to series as do closely related police procedural novels – and yes there is a real difference between those two types of books – because each crime faced is a new story no matter who is solving it. I can’t imagine The Chronicles of Narnia being one book instead of seven. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy could have been one book, but it could not have been a single book telling all the stories of the five books in the trilogy.

The bottom line becomes simple: The story itself ought dictate whiter the format is a single book, companion books, or a series.

I SAW THE LIGHT

Saturday 9: I Saw the Light

1. Has something ever made you “see the light”? I hope everyone answers yes. I am, sad to say, often a hard study when it comes to anything important enough to qualify for a “see the light” experience. When a course correction is required, it is most often my subconscious and my body’s stress indicators that clue me in. I get anxious, suffer insomnia, digestive issues, headaches or menstruation troubles often before I am aware of problems. If I pay attention to the signals, I can take stock of my personal life, work situation, and other areas to figure out where I need to make changes before my health and sanity are impacted.

2. Do you believe you have any control over your luck? Yes and no. I hold both that hard work is the primary factor in success and that factors beyond a person’s control can make success more or less difficult. The main outside factor everyone contends with is upbringing. For better or for worse, our family situation is the foundation upon which we build our lives. The positive end of those outside factors is what we call “luck.” I feel like much of what looks like luck past childhood is closer to serendipity or at least it seems true in my life that much of my luck is happy accidents.

3. What is something you have had difficulty rising above? See answer number two. In all seriousness, I was diagnosed with CP in my left side around the time I started crawling. I went through all kinds of physical therapy and wearing leg braces or being in a cast to stretch my Achilles tendon. I had surgery when I was in kindergarten to lengthen that tendon and spent what seemed like forever in a cast from my toes to my butt. All this was going on while I was a military brat being regularly uprooted and I was small by genetics along with socially awkward.

4. Would you want to be rich? Heck yes! For me, being rich would mean no longer needing to trade my time for money. Since time is the one commodity it’s impossible to replace, the hours I spend doing things I wouldn’t do for free never feel like a fair trade.

5. Tell us about a current or old song that helps you “face the world.” Lately, I’ve found happiness and comfort in a couple tracks: Splendid by Professor Elemental and Art of the Dress (Trance remix) are two off the top of my head.

6. Has any dream of yours come true? More than one, but a fond one was my dream of attending science fiction or Star Trek conventions. It doesn’t seem so long ago that each year when the internet was abuzz with news from San Diego ComicCon, I would long to be there. At the time, I didn’t see attending as a realistic possibility for a handful of reasons. Now conventions are a regular part of my year and I love every second of the experience. Some of my favorite bits I didn’t even imagine before Chris took me to my first con, Trek Trax 2011. I adore my fandom friends, working on costumes, and even sharing hotel room with our little band of roommates. It’s all beautiful and exciting and exhausting.

7. What would you change if you became “the king or queen” of your country? I would enforce my number one fashion rule: Leggings are NOT pants. Same goes for “Jeggings” and any other “ggings” they invent. Either a long tunic top, dress or skirt must be worn over over them. I don’t care how thin or fit a women is, it’s unattractive to show off the intimate details of the anatomy through skin tight fabric. Frankly, I’d rather see a naked person walking around.

8. How do you feel about LGBT rights? I’m for marriage equality and any other equal protection under the law regardless of sexual orientation or any other criteria.

9. Have you ever been disappointed in yourself? Anyone who is remotely self-aware would have to answer yes to this question. I am most disappointed when I don’t follow through on things I want to do. Sometimes my expectations are too high. I find myself, for example, making a to-do list for my day off which is plum unrealistic and then I’m disappointed at the end of the night when I haven’t completed my tasks.

LANGUGE FOR NIGHT OWLS: OR WHAT DAY IS IT?

What exactly do you call today when it’s past midnight, but bedtime isn’t for another five hours?

I have always been a night owl. My natural body clock reverts itself to a bedtime close to two am when no outside schedule is applied. Summer vacations and the times I’ve been without a job, it’s been the same pattern.

Even my early years when I had a strict bedtime, I remember laying in bed, wide awake, with my thoughts running wild. Something about the quiet of night, when everyone else is sleeping, makes my imagination come alive. I have distinct memories of a few night’s daydreams even after all the years. One I remember warmly is imagining myself in the chocolate room scene of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I was in the first grade and my parents had rented a VCR and the movie. I was enchanted by the vibrant colors, the music and, most of all, Gene Wilder’s voice, not to mention the novel experience of VHS tapes. I suspect the memory I have is from many nights of silently repeating the words to the songs in my head and thinking about eating one of the tea cup flowers.

In my teenage years, I journaled and wrote poetry long into the night filling notebooks with my round cursive. I’ve had both the bad kind of insomnia and the good creative kind as an adult. What I never have an easy time with is going to bed before midnight or waking before nine.

It’s still true to this day. I seldom turn off the light until Chris is sound asleep, but instead lay in bed read for at least a few minutes. It is a ritual I find soothing regardless of what time I go to bed.

Even my night owl ways have been challenged of late.

With my new job, I am working from 6:30 pm to 3 am. Luckily, Chris is on the same hours though we have different days off. We are, I neglected to mention when I posted about the job previously, working at the same place, but that is beside my current point.

The first week was very difficult. I trouble staying alert. Not having any callers after midnight was a mixed blessing. At least I didn’t have to think, but there was no adrenaline to keep me on my toes. And believe me, the first week on the phones in a new call center involves plenty of adrenaline as you struggle to put training into practice while giving the caller the impression you’re an expert.

I indulged myself in coffee and junk food to ease the transition. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly adjust to going to bed at five or six in the morning, I found myself getting a second wind after my “lunch” at 11 pm without a second cup of coffee. It took a few more days to sleep beyond my previous wake up time, but now I’m better adjusted to this than I ever adjusted to working 7 am to 3:30 pm even after a year.

The one part I can’t same to wrap my head around is keeping track of the days of the week and the date. As I write this, the calender on the corner of the computer screen says it is 7/18/2012, a Wednesday, but in my head it is Tuesday. It is bad enough that Tuesday is my Friday, but it seems Wednesday morning is my Tuesday night. I am confused and dependent on the clock and the calender by this going to bed with the raising of the sun in a way that staying up til two never troubled me.

It feels funny to tell the few remaining workers when I leave “good night” and great Chris with “good morning” when I drag myself out of bed. Maybe it troubles me so because I am a language nerd. I value precise use of words. I don’t claim to be perfect, but certain things drive me batty. For example, people say “PIN number” or “ATM machine” without registering the redundancy. I am too polite to point out they are saying “personal identification number number” and “automatic teller machine machine” but don’t think for one second it is easy to refrain.

What I would love to see happen is for a sort of generic equivalent to evolve to denote a sleep and waking cycle which doesn’t follow the wake by morning, sleep by night paradigm. And don’t even get me started on the weekday/weekend workweek cultural assumption. I don’t know nearly as many people who work Monday to Friday “business hours” as I know who work all kinds of crazy days and hours. Being wished a “good weekend” when your weekend is long shifts and grouchy customers is demoralizing.

It seems inevitable as we move more to a global culture and a twenty-four hour business day that we’ll get some new words or phrases to accommodate. I also suspect within a hundred years, we’ll abolish time zones in favor of a global standard. It think it would be practical for syncing business operations and less brain power would be spent calculating time zones. Each current time zone could still schedule activities better done in daylight during those hours, but it wouldn’t matter where on the twenty-four clock the daylight.

The sooner this happens, the better for me. Let’s get on it, society.

EMPLOYMENT ENJOYMENT

The Employment Enjoyment Meme

1. What kind of work do you do? I work in a call center doing technical support for various clients of the clients who pay the company that pays me. When people call the IT Help Desk for their organization, they get me and often don’t realize I’m not only not an employee of said organization, but I’m at least a few states away.

2. During the course of your lifetime, which job or career has been your favorite or most fulfilling? The short time I was a receptionist for an OB/GYN was the most fulfilling. Unlike selling someone something or helping with wireless bills or logging into websites, I was a small part of caring for the patients health and pregnancies. It was easy to express genuine concern and compassion in a way other customer service positions don’t inspire. And babies! Can’t go wrong with a steady stream of newborns to cuddle and coo over.

3. Do you think it’s necessary in your life to have a day-to-day “career” that is meaningful and service-oriented or do you function better in “just a job” with a steady paycheck? So far I’ve been on the “just a job” end of the employment spectrum. As long as I am respected by management for the job I’m doing, I’m pretty content being a cog in the machine. I find meaning in my personal life and hobbies. Work needs to be pleasant, but ideally, it is left at work when I clock out.

4. Was there ever a time in your life when you wanted to stay home with your children instead of working, even if it meant less money in the household? First of all, I don’t have children. If I’m lucky enough to have a child or children in the next few years, I would like to be in the position to not have to work full time. If we can afford it, I would consider a part time position to get myself out of the house a few days a week. I’d spent the last nearly two years working part time up until a month ago and while I kept busy at home, I got stir-crazy for lack of regular human interaction. Two days in a row wasn’t bad. Three or more was horrible. I can’t imagine, say, four years of not having a regular place to go. On the other hand, I would prefer not putting my child in daycare for forty hours a week. Scheduling opposite shifts from Chris so one of us is always home isn’t a pleasant thought either. I covet the time we have together even now. It is certainly difficult to say for sure what our needs and options will be when the time comes. I know it will be a challenge, but a wonderfully rewarding one.

5. Tell us your worst boss story. My second manager at Payless Shoe was awful. I still don’t know what the heck he actually did around the store. We would have two weeks worth of shipment still boxed up in the backroom no matter how hard I worked. He didn’t like me because I didn’t think his flirting was cute like the girls he liked to hire did. After I moved away, one of my part-time girls put in her notice and reported him for sexual harassment.

6. Have your ever been the boss? Do you like this this role? I held the title of assistant manager most of the seven years I worked for Payless Shoe which simply meant I had most of the responsibility and none of the privileges of being as store manager. If the manager didn’t want to do something and the part-timers couldn’t, I was stuck with it. It was like being in the valley of the saying “shit rolls down hill” getting crap from both sides. At one point, I was “acting manager” of my store while my manager was out on maternity leave. It was hard because I still didn’t have access to everything a manager did and would have to get managers from other stores to help me. The worst part for both of those positions is the fact it’s so difficult to motivate people who don’t have work ethic in the first place. You don’t have to do much at all for those who come to the table with a work ethic. I had a girl who complained every night about what we called “straightening” shoes. All you do is ensure each pair is in their proper place. It’s tedious, but it’s what you get paid for and we would always work back to back in the store so we could keep each other company. Whining about it simply made it that much more unpleasant.

7.  What is your dream occupation? I always assumed I would write for a living. I never doubted I would be a novelist, because journalism didn’t appeal to me. Today, I don’t know if I have fiction in me. I have personal writing and commentary along with an occasional poem, but I’m not sure about anything else. I don’t have a drive to make money writing, but I am open to the idea. I am happier when I simply keep up with blogging. I guess, when it comes right down to it, my answers to questions 3 and 4 have more to do with the reality of my dream “occupation” or work/life balance and what I choose to invest myself in.