cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
Last week my coworker and I were in charge of preparing Halloween stuff for the upcoming display at the store, and Friday we were dressing the mannequins. Our boss's idea for the adult femme mannequin was to dump fake blood Carrie-style over this hideous 90s polyester Death Becomes Her-looking wedding gown, but on the day when we went hunting through the copious amount of Stuff to be found at our store, we didn't have any fake blood or paint.

I would definitely advise anybody to NEVER mix nail polish into hair dye. If you thought the fumes from hair dye couldn't smell worse, you were apparently wrong.

Obviously, I could tell it was a terrible idea when it was suggested, but in the absence of other colorants I was willing to experiment. Next time I will make sure any experimentation takes place outside for sure though. (And I would veto the nail polish outright, even if it means the remaining color is too orange.)
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
There are a lot of immigrants at the Red Cross where I work, and for the most part, the Finnish people around us are not racist. (If you are, coming to work for the Red Cross at all strikes me as counterintuitive, especially in our store, which is obviously and explicitly fairly international. But evidently applying and sitting through the introductory presentations and signing the contract endorsing the Red Cross’s mission and principles is outweighed for some people by the benefit of working there. Maybe said presentations were sufficiently multisyllabic to avoid jostling them into cognitive dissonance in the majority of cases.)

A few weeks ago, I was shocked and dismayed when two coworkers started up some racist anti-refugee ranting loudly and clearly in the breakroom (not even anti-immigrant, anti-refugee: as well as angry and shocked you have to fight through the jaw-dropping irony! It’s like, "THIS IS THE LITERAL RED CROSS!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?") (Choosing the breakroom put them in potential hearing of any one of our refugee employees - I think we have three right now, out of twenty-something staff). I jumped in and started contradicting their statements, after eventually reassembling the ability to make complete sentences (which is hard enough in English when I’m angry). There was some awkwardness on their part, and then they changed the subject, awkwardly.

Since then they both have acted pretty much normal, and for weeks I found myself, to my horror and confusion, responding automatically to them as to other coworkers, then walking away thinking, “Stop smiling at racists!” I don't WANT to smile at racists! But I was raised in Alabama, and my customer service persona comes with an automatic smile. Even weeks of self-castigation didn’t manage to get me to the point of the ritual “Good morning”s and “Thank you”s without a smile. I think I managed to successfully switch to the expressionless nod (and mumbled answer to verbal greeting) just a couple of days ago.

But now there's another problem! I have learned third-hand that our new cleaner has been racistly rude to a gentle, kind, warm, polite, helpful, generally ray-of-sunshine immigrant coworker. I haven't witnessed this personally, though, and she's only been perfectly pleasant to me, so I can't help feeling that while it might be morally correct to shun her to the extent permitted by professional interaction, the cause wouldn't be understood. I suppose it doesn't necessarily have to be, though; a mean racist is also basically undeserving of the spoons we spend on social performance, as well as of social civility from other people in general, even if shunning cannot fulfill its social function of enacting the norms of social acceptability.

I still wish I could get the racist yellers in trouble, but I couldn't quite see making a complaint to the boss about it. And I forgot to bring the subject up on Monday when I saw my psychologist.
cimorene: A vintage nouveau illustration of a reclining woman embracing the enormous head of a dragon (love)
I don't mean to imply by the following story that I usually know what to say. I have anxiety in social situations (not of the same nature as the condition known as Social Anxiety Disorder) and I tend to be shy. But in familiar contexts, surroundings, and situations, where I have over time constructed a decent model of what is usually expected of me, I can rely on shortcuts, and at work, with my friendly work acquaintances who are usually speaking to me in Finnish, I tend to quickly, even automatically reply with "Mmm!" or "Hmmm?" or "Mm-hm" when something else doesn't leap to mind, as it often doesn't due to factors like not understanding what they said or not knowing what they're referring to.

But last week my friend Ella was relating something about a sick grandmother being sicker recently and I got so distracted thinking about what she said - like just basically processing it and then continuing that with stuff like mental math for how old she'd've been and stuff - that I hadn't even got around to wondering how I was supposed to react and I suddenly realized way too much time had passed, during which my face was no doubt completely blank due to my thoughts being focused inward. Ella was late and ran back to the cash register, and she wasn't offended or anything, but I was actually startled out of my thoughts and a little alarmed to realize I had lost track of what exactly was going on around me (couldn't remember what facial expressions people were making and wasn't quite sure how long I'd inadvertently been silent). I was focused so far inward that I was too slow to decide what intonation of "Mm" noise would have been appropriate until it was too late!

And I realized that while my mother was dealing with the deaths of her grandparents into her 50s - all of whom were terrible people who were physically and/or emotionally abusive, cut for some more discussion of abusive parenting, though nothing graphic )
cimorene: (fury)
A baffling new trend @ work is people who wait in line to ask a cashier to personally unlock a cabinet without realizing its contents are locked up because they are valuable.

CUSTOMER: Does it work?

ME: It is over 20 years old, as you can see from the fact that it is a giant Nokia brick phone, and so I doubt that it currently has a charged battery since it wouldn’t -

CUSTOMER: Well, then it won’t be very useful! What good is a phone that you can’t call with?

ME: You can probably get a battery elsewhere, but people might just collect them.

Or then again:

CUSTOMER: 39 euros!! How can a Barbie be 39 euros???

ME: Well, sometimes they cost even more than that, but in this case, it’s kind of fancy… the pink wedding tux… and it’s obviously pretty old, probably from the 80s…

CUSTOMER: Why would anybody pay 39 bucks for a Barbie doll???

ME: Indeed, but I think people collect Barbies.

CUSTOMER: Oh!! They do??? Ohhhhhh.

ME: Our regular, not-collectible Barbies are over in the toy department, not in this cabinet of rare items.

CUSTOMER: Oh!! They are? I’ll look in the toy department.

this post on Tumblr
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
Last weekend we watched, or I should say, got around to watching, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, a BBC America show from last year which we were reluctant to check out at first under the mistaken impression that it would be another US copy of a UK property in the vein of Coupling, Skins, Being Human, etc. But after it came out we saw from other people's reactions that actually everyone seemed to love it, and when we finally did watch it we loved it too, so I've been poking around for things to reblog on and off for a week now.

It feels funny in several ways to be fannish about a show with Elijah Wood in it again...

  1. Nostalgic. Fellowship of the Ring came out in 2001! [personal profile] waxjism and I MET because of Elijah Wood, really, when she sought me out because of a Frodo/Sam and then a Sean/Elijah fic. The whole time we were long-distance dating, she was talking about The Faculty and something about Elijah Wood being chained in Chester Bennington's basement, for some reason (I'm not sure I ever really understood that one, though, to be fair). And it's been a long time! Neither of us has been actually interested in either of those fandoms since before 2005, a few rereads and recs and the like notwithstanding.

  2. SURREAL. The inescapable association of Elijah Wood + fandom... the tangential connection to the dangerous con artist and noted fandom cult leader formerly known as Victoria Bitter, who, as chronicled in the well-known fandom memoir When a Fan Hits the Shit, later briefly posed online as Elijah Wood for... some unknown reason... (I think for a brief time before he told people that he was channeling the 'soul' of the real Elijah Wood even though Elijah Wood was still alive and therefore physically growing a cock?)... and for some reason [personal profile] waxjism and I, old acquaintances who were close to one of his primary online friend/dupes, were chosen to be guinea pigs for this pose and for like... a week?? we thought he possibly actually was Elijah Wood with a side dose of what the hell is going on, and during this time he... for some reason... sent me a care package of cough drops because I had a cold, I guess to prove realness?? He also like ordered pizzas delivered to the residences of some of the other people he was long-distance trying to Be Elijah Wood on, if I'm remembering right? Anyway... wow... that was an insane time! Like, our dangerous??? but also laughably minor??? brush with fandom history.

  3. Embarrassed: because of having believed him, or maybe like 80% believed him for a while there. But as [personal profile] waxjism succinctly put it, "Then again, he is a con artist. But AUGH."

    Also embarrassed because if I think about my previous fannish engagement hard enough, I'll remember how I wrote when I was 19 years old, which is also kind of embarrassing from the perspective of my current taste (though, like, I stand by it as perfectly ok for 19-year-old me). Like, for example, when my dad asked my permission to give his best friend, who is gay, the link to my LOTR fanfic, and I said sure, and then his best friend attempted to delicately and tactfully make sure that I knew that "that's not really how gay sex works" after reading one of my Legolas/Gimli fics, and I had to be like "YES YES LUBE WE KNOW NO TMI PLEASE".

  4. Damn, I feel old. Because a lot of time has passed and people like Elijah Wood that are the age of me are now firmly grown ups. Just like I am.

Anyway, back to Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency... I highly recommend the show, which is delightful and probably a bit more Adamsishly madcap than the previous British series that starred Stephen Mangan (which I also loved however). The plotting particularly is A+, not because the other aspects of the show like dialogue and casting are not as outstanding - they are, actually; the main cast is half female and there's an okay distribution of racial and gender diversity, the dialogue is fun and clever, the special effects are not to be sneezed at, there are cute animals etc - but because the plotting is the aspect of a derivative work based on Douglas Adams that would be the most challenging to manage (just as it is for Terry Pratchett or PG Wodehouse fanfic, where that is the most common tough point, evidently, for would-be fanfic writers), and yet they manage it beautifully. It's not at all derivative or unnecessarily repetitive of canon Douglas works, while dazzlingly recreating the feel and scope and all that good stuff.

They've already filmed the second series, too, and they just released a trailer for it a little while ago, so it's probably going to air soonish. Which makes this a good time to try it out.
cimorene: (gr arg)
So, when you print a pricetag at the Red Cross thrift store where I work, you have to navigate a hierarchical tree using arrows and Enter. An example would be "Apparel>Women's Clothing>Undergarments" or "Apparel>Accessories>Children's". Now the department is in the barcode, and the store/chain know what was sold, how long it was on the shelf first, what it cost, etc, and they use this to produce statistics.

And as a result of this, the cash registers can be programmed to automatically discount a whole department, like Women's Clothing or Furniture or Sport, all at once. This is useful for promotions like "ALL CLOTHING -50% THIS WEEK ONLY" - nothing for the cashier to do. (In contrast, with something like Buy Two X, Get the Cheaper ½ Off, the cashier has to check which it is and click 'Discount'.)

Well, this week, my department, Accessories, is on sale. The problem is, my department doesn't have a department in the store like the others. Socks, undergarments, and pajamas are in their respective clothing departments. Hats are there and also in sports. Scarves are in 4 different displays. Jewelry, wallets and sunglasses are in 3 displays unless they're designer or for special occasions. Swimsuits everyone just forgets about until the season. And most of the cashiers can't pass a test on whether all these items are part of the Accessories department or not.

Unfortunately, they need to know, because some (undergarments and swimwear) are officially categorized as clothing instead on the tag according to edicts from the chain level. So these have to be individually discounted anyway (and why not just leave them off the sale? Nobody asked me, that's why). BONUS: we just discovered my coworker in Accessories has been mistagging everything, up to and including jewelry, as clothing.

So that's hundreds of mistagged tiny items scattered throughout the store for the cashiers to (a) identify as accessories and (b) remember to check to make sure the discount rings up and individually discount it if not. Being a cashier here doesn't have any educational or experience prereqs, but it certainly requires certain abilities.

For bonus stress, I'm a cashier as well, and all week when I was at the register it meant I wasn't putting out stuff for the sale.
cimorene: (is this thing on?)
Two separate coworkers to whom I came out in conversation in the last month at the Red Cross have subsequently, the next day, gone out of their way to be nice to me. My theory is that this is a socially competent person's gesture to show they're not homophobic and regret the awkwardness.

I posted about them both on Tumblr at the time:

  1. A 40s/50s mideastern immigrant, one of those guys who's friendly to literally every human being he ever encounters and makes friends in the space of 5-10 seconds and basically everyone describes him as 'a good guy' stopped me when I said "My wife -"

    with "Wife? Really? WIFE?" and then stared at me in confusion for a while, unsure if I said 'wife' on purpose or due to error, and ultimately asked me, but not without apologizing first, "Your wife... a man?"

    "No, my wife is a woman," I said cheerfully, and then he apologized again and said "Good, good!"

    The next day he came to find me in the morning and opened with "I just wanted to talk to you for a bit," and we exchanged extra-polite and extra-bonhomous smalltalk for 5 minutes or so.

  2. A few days later, speaking English with a Finnish young man who is addicted to gaming and attributes his English skills to that, I dropped a casual "My wife" again.

    "You have a wife? You have a WIFE! Nice! That explains a lot actually!" he said.

    I think he was a little surprised that this reaction made me dissolve in laughter. "Explains what?" I said, and he gave an up-and-down gesture at my entire person, finishing with a flourish at my head. "My hair?" I said, laughing even harder.

    The next day he popped out of nowhere when I was working at my station and not on break or anything, asked if I was allergic to chocolate (no), then handed me a candybar with, "Do you want this? It's 'on me'" (with audible ironic quotes, haha), and then breezed away again while I called after him, "Thanks!"

A few thoughts about this.

In the first place, it's quite effective. As funny as these moments were at the time - nice but funny! - of course both dudes have correctly divined that you do always have a little bit of that worry when you have to come out, no matter how many times you've done it, or how friendly the person otherwise seemed. So it's a good socially adept solution, and indirect even if it is fairly obvious.

Secondly, the frequency with which these coming-out conversations hit that awkward note. Mostly one can put this down to heteronormativity and heteronormative assumptions, probably. In the second case, I guess my presentation is slightly butcher than I realized, maybe? Not that that offends me. I've had plenty of coming-out conversations, including in Finnish, including ones with casually dropping 'my wife' in conversation like the above, that have gone smoothly, or completely without comment. Those are usually with women, though, maybe?

And finally, I could stand to receive more "Sorry-If-I-Kinda-Flubbed-Your-Coming-Out-Moment" chocolate ("Sorry-If-I-Offended-You-With-My-Gender-Comments" chocolate?). Like, for a moment that size, a chocolate bar combined with no repeat performance seems like a perfectly good tradeoff, and who doesn't like free chocolate? It would be great if that was just the widely socially-accepted fee. And the super-friendly conversation was equally acceptable, if not equally chocolatey. I mean, flattery is always nice, and friendly conversation is always welcome when your coworkers across the aisle insist on turning down the radio so low that you're forced to pretty much work in silence most of the time. (You probably have to have those extra-special like God-Tier friendliness skills to pull off that method successfully, though.)
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
My mother-in-law finally got a tenant for the home she moved out of a year ago & we went on a flat-emptying roadtrip yesterday (because it's an hour and a half away from us in Ekenäs, halfway to Helsinki). It was really almost empty already, with just a washing machine, a bookcase and tv/media shelves, the light fixtures and the odd plastic bin remaining. In <2 hrs, mop & rubber gloves were being wedged into the van and I was done sweeping up the dust bunnies. We didn't have to pry anything out of the walls because they're being professionally redone.

Coming back to Pargas (20 minutes away from us in Turku, [personal profile] waxjism's childhood home and MIL's new digs), we drove right through an intense blizzard of big, fat, fake-looking snowflakes that hung swirling in the air over a surprisingly large area encompassing most of the town, both the bridges and a big chunk of rural mainland. It was two degrees below freezing when we got dressed in the morning, but with glaring sunshine all day, most of our work was done above the freezing point, with the furniture-carrying members of the party (including [personal profile] waxjism) leaving their jackets indoors. So while the temperature may have dipped a degree or two in the storm area, the flakes were vanishing as they hit the ground like soap bubbles, but sticking to the noses of the cars driving out of the gale in little white patches like they'd been pranked with a towelful of shaving cream.

While driving in the middle of the blizzard, there was a clear sense of moving through the inside of a cloud, which is of course literally true, but not usually so visibly so. At the treeline it looked like fog; up close the flakes were streaking past like the stars past the windows of the Enterprise; and in the middle distance you could clearly catch individual big flakes in isolated moments, making out the size and shape and he weird little giddy swirling trajectories they made coming down.

We watched the storm die down out the window of MIL's new flat while drinking tea, with the last snowflakes literally steaming off the roof of the house next door.

There's isolated snowflakes falling outside our livingroom window today too (currently -1° C), though nothing like a blizzard. They look like dandruff falling from a bright blue-gray sky. Or ash, as [personal profile] waxjism observed.

So, Happy Easter, as the Finns are all saying ironically.

It snowed after Easter last year too. I maintain that Easter is too premature for spring in this climate. May Day is more legitimate, or the traditional pagan spring carnival of Walpurgis, but they're still on the chilly side and not really showing enough new growth from nature to inspire the proper springy feeling yet.

The vibe is less the joyous verdant carpets of new grass and daffodils in bloom and heaps of blooming flowers and buds on all the trees which one pictures, and more a sort of cautiously hopeful donning of sneakers instead of insulated boots, sweeping mud and gravel off the streets and waiting for the grass to come back to life. (To be fair, there are buds - the little furry ones - on the trees. But not baby leafs yet. The bunnies weren't very keen on the twigs we brought home last weekend.) Spring clothes and sunglasses and sunhats and thin cotton scarves are selling briskly at the Red Cross, but the customers are still all coming in bundled up.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
I'm only working 25 hours a week, 5 per day, and I have adjusted to the extent of making dinner and not falling asleep right away when I get back, but I'm still not over being mentally and emotionally exhausted by having to be out of the house and "on" and interacting with people so much of the time.

I have the time for my hobbies, physically. There's a good 4-5 hours per day that isn't taken up with daily necessities like taking care of the pets. But my brain is still all jittery, and I never feel like I can prepare myself to focus on watching anything on TV (which is how I knit, while watching TV, so I haven't gotten any knitting done in a month!); or starting an art or craft project; or writing even though as usual being up and about has increased my creative energy and I have more of a feeling that I could write something. I never feel like I'm ready to do any of those things without bleeding the excess anxiety away first by reading (or surfing around the net if I don't have a particular thing to read already picked out).

By the time my brain has drunk its fill of reading material and I start to feel like "Okay, now I'm ready to start doing something new..." it's time to go to bed again.

If I plan in advance, like from the day before, that I'm going to start watching a hockey game right away when I get home, I can do it. Starting to watch a new show when I know there's a whole season to catch up with seems like a higher bar, though. I've only watched a few bits of fiction over [personal profile] waxjism's shoulder for the last few weeks.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
Sooooo, what's going on with me is that I'm with the Red Cross for the next... 6 months or so.

The last time I was in a work practice placement it was a daycare The equivalent of The Previouslies, a short summation of how I wound up switching Employment Goals ) I decided to do some retail for the time being, because I have some experience of it and it's doable without any certification or training, unlike many other fields.

My Finnish isn't perfect - it's what you'd call "fine" or "pretty good" probably, and I'm still terrified of someone unintelligible due to mumbling or regional accent coming along, but I don't have trouble ordinarily. It's also been 13 years since I was a cashier though, and the technology has changed since then, and I've never done it in Finland anyway. So when the little group of social workers, employment bureau caseworkers and mental health professionals that my therapist's workgroup belongs to heard my explanation, they swiftly concluded that a few work practice placements in different areas of retail would be best, because it would provide the best chance to polish my Retail Finnish language skills and appease my anxiety by familiarity with environment and expectations of the field.

They also sent me to a new department of the Employment Bureau, which - okay, let me just pause here to note that this is amazing as fuck: The Employment Bureau has a SECRET DEPARTMENT where they give slightly more help to people who need slightly more help. In the ordinary run of things, caseworkers there have 500+ customers apiece and are overworked and underfunded to death. I've had like four caseworkers in the last few years before this already. And when you go to their information desk, or to their ordinary caseworkers, and ask for more help, they typically send you to that Career Planning course that I was sent to a couple years ago, which wasn't useless but was aimed at people who needed help navigating the bureaucracy and things like that more than people suffering from social anxieties and culture barriers and uncertainty about their language skills.

But even though I had previously inquired in multiple places about help, nobody at the Employment Bureau had been empowered to tell me about the existence of this department, which I gather you get sent to only with the referral of a psychologist or psychiatrist? That's where the representative came from who was at the the meeting with my psychologist I mentioned, and he immediately put in a request to have me transferred to that department. I got a new caseworker from there who was calm, friendly, brisk, and reassuring. She said that if I hope to work arranging the little showrooms at Ikea there's a certification for that (Somistaja, a window dresser/display maker) which depends on the certification for being a salesperson.

So she sent me to the Red Cross's thrift store, Kontti, which is staffed with students, volunteers, work practicants and people eligible for the thing where social security reimburses the employer for their salary. So it's almost entirely charity, with most of the proceeds going to the Red Cross's various projects in Finland (50%) and abroad (25%), plus it's very diverse and friendly and generally a pretty nice place. Their reputation as a training ground for retail and warehouse workers who then move on to employment elsewhere is so good, in fact, that they are fairly selective with their new trainees - the big boss told us in our introduction on Tuesday that our group of 8 represented over 100 applicants over a couple of months, which is like... a Harvard-like acceptance rate. (The Swedish language got me in the door here, I'm pretty sure: EVERYBODY who hears that I'm interested in retail and speak fluent-ish Swedish gets excited, because there's a huge demand for that skill due to the legal and practical requirement for stores to have someone who can speak it on hand - there aren't really many Swedish monolinguals around, but there are still a few.) You can also get salesperson certification on the job there, as well as a long list of other certifications - the lady who was supervising me and my fellow new-cashier trainees yesterday is on the verge of finishing one in business admin. (Hence why it was my caseworker's first choice.)

We spent the first couple of days on the warehouse side, where the donations are processed, sorted and priced, and it has to be seen to be believed. It's just such an unbelievable quantity of stuff. The area around the station where the bags are emptied and unpacked is just like something out of a movie, walls made out of racks and shelves and carts packed solid with bags of donated stuff waiting to be opened - cases four feet deep and six feet tall, banana boxes towering up towards the warehouse ceiling, and an overflow area with just a five or six foot high mountain of bags just... piled against the wall like a heap of snow. But that's only the beginning of the journey, because once they're unpacked and sent to the proper departments there's yet more sorting to do. The front half of the warehouse is also packed with racks, crates, shelves and bins of objects on their way to the store front, so it's a bit like an antique mall except cleaner - one little room of china, one little room of books, one little room of paintings, one little room of toys, one little room of electronics - where the walls between them are once again made of storage packed solid on both sides with stuff. Walking in for the first time felt a bit like, I don't know, visiting Willy Wonka's factory, or one of those quaint little Museums of Curiosities.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
A couple of days after the US election, I started following every link from a political retweeter that said anything about someone else I should follow. I didn't subscribe to absolutely all of the accounts, but I did end up following a number of journalists, activists, historians and other scholars and experts in fascism, religious authoritarianism, kleptocracy, Russia, and US politics. And also a few focused on global warming and carbon tax.

The result made my timeline so high-volume that I rarely actually manage to backread the whole thing anymore, and I had to create separate lists for Serious and Fun/Fannish stuff. Here's my 14-member Anti-Fascist Twitter feed, which (kind of sadly) updates way way faster than my personal fannish list.

I've also had an increasing number of complete strangers follow me since I started all the political retweeting - complete strangers with primarily political interest it seems, I mean. I'm not exactly comfortable with that, but I think it's too late to really do anything. I could protect my account, but that seems silly, because the stuff isn't exactly private or worthy of keeping secret, just... I never really had to worry about anyone being interested enough to accidentally see it before?

I could make a separate Twitter account for that stuff, but a) it's a bit late because I already have all these complete strangers following my personal one with its tweets about fanfiction and hockey gay porn jokes??? and b) I kind of resist doing that, not philosophically, exactly, just... kinda worried it would be too fiddly and I'd end up messing it up.

But my main concern with that is that I don't have any sort of expertise, unlike pretty much every account on that list above, and I'm also not producing any original content to speak of, so... ? I'm not even attempting to exercise any sort of expertise at curation of retweets, not that I'm claiming to have any in the first place. I have tweeted suggestions of experts to follow a couple of times, but reiterating it regularly would get pretty tiresome so I have restrained myself.

So in the meantime I just kind of hang out here, remaining uncomfortable every time I get a new couple of follow notifications.
cimorene: (is this thing on?)
Scribbled on the now-retired calendar. 2015

Read more... )
cimorene: (call ikea)
I just had a pretty surreal experience.

About 10 years ago, in a long-abandoned fandom, I had one of those ideas that you talk about in chat without meaning to write because it seems unmanageable for some reason, like maybe too long or too much work or too angsty, and in this case, it was because I had a vision of a 20-year-long plot arc but with a giant puzzle piece missing from the middle. I had a vague sense that the answer should be obvious to me, that it was staring me in the face somehow or I was looking at it upside down, but the whole idea was silly anyway. However, I was easily persuaded to write a few individual pieces from it as vignettes (oh, and apparently the last bit was only 7 years ago).

I hadn't given the story any thought in years, and I was never particularly stressed about figuring it out, but just now I was reading something by somebody else in a completely different fandom and I suddenly looked up like my ears were ringing, and then, prompted by an abstruse connection between the reading material and a couple of conversations I had last week with [personal profile] perhael about yet a third fandom, I suddenly knew what the missing piece was.

In fact it seems both laughably obvious and inevitable, like I can't believe I didn't figure it out before, like I had a key in a lock upside down. I haven't even heard from the friend I was writing it for in years, I think...

I hope my brain hasn't been wasting resources running that process in the background all this time.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (helen kane)
For most of the month of November (though not since) I managed to write almost every night, and I created a cozy little routine of fixing cocoa with amaretto in it and taking the laptop into the library with me and making a cocoon of blankets on the sofa there, where it's cooler than the rest of the flat and very dark and quiet. It's like being in a bubble, which is necessary because otherwise I am too easily distracted.

But writing only late at night, after putting the bunnies to bed and feeding the cats, doesn't leave that much time for it, because I can't easily stay up half the night anymore. I've been meaning to try to transfer this routine to the daytime, but that feeling is elusive. The library's just as cool and quiet, but when there's sunlight - which okay, is only between 9 am and 3 pm or something like that, but still most of the day - it doesn't feel cocoony at all, because there's stuff in my peripheral vision. (It would probably be soothing to write inside a pod, but unfortunately I don't have one.) Probably if I hadn't gone so long with writer's block I would not struggle so much with distraction, but the only way to fix that is to make new routines...
cimorene: A vintage nouveau illustration of a reclining woman embracing the enormous head of a dragon (love)
Last week when we were reading in bed I said to [personal profile] waxjism, "Can you believe when we first met in person I thought you were cool?" ... and we both almost laughed ourselves out of bed.

It's actually quite a strain to remember my first impressions of someone I know so well, though they were extremely vivid and I still have a lot of sensory memories of the occasion, no doubt due to neurotransmitters and teenaged emo and stuff like that (I was 20, probably still teenaged-emo if not technically teenaged).
cimorene: A vintage nouveau illustration of a reclining woman embracing the enormous head of a dragon (love)
Children produce a lot of art and writing and for the most part I'm not too sad about things lost to the sands of time, but I do wish I had the full-length parody of The Raven I wrote at age 13 about a seagull that steals someone's book while they're reading on the beach.
cimorene: (call ikea)
I thought my 2nd favorite quick pasta dish - sauteed chanterelles and spinach topped with parmesan and lemon juice over pasta ) - was the perfect umami, but if you put two slices of buttered bread, thick slabs of gouda, slices of turkey, and leftover chanterelle-spinach-lemon-sautee mixture in between, and then melt the cheese in a skillet/microwave/(panini press??? I've never used one but probably the best way?).... it's maybe even better. Or just as good at least.

I think it would be even better with tiny slices of dill pickle though. Failing that, one could add sliced olives, but I don't have any at the moment.

I don't actually RECOMMEND melting the cheese for a sandwich in the microwave, and if you do, make sure you toast the bread first and turn it after 10-20ish seconds to make sure the bottom piece of bread doesn't get soggy from steam. But sometimes you just don't want to use a skillet.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (helen kane)
Recently my medication was adjusted and I had an appointment with my new psychiatrist yesterday to discuss the side-effects, and how I'm adjusting. It was weird to talk about how much better I'd been feeling:

  • I've been writing every day for a couple of weeks (~6000 words so far. I have FocusWriter set at 200 words per day as a goal, but I've been going over now although I didn't hit it at first) (Also, I'm so grateful to [personal profile] lately and [personal profile] perhael still for listening to me through it)

  • There was elevated anxiety at first and it was messing up my ability to eat for a week or two, which would have been a dealbreaker - but that has gone away completely for several weeks now and all food functions are back to normal

  • I found the strength to make a maintenance call even though for months I've been avoiding it due to anxiety about letting the maintenance workers into the flat and possibly having to speak Finnish to them, or having them secretly judge me

... because the election results sent me into a tailspin and the notion of feeling better seemed like a joke. Shock rendered me completely blank on Wednesday. I have checked Twitter briefly a few times and had to give up on it quickly, but I miss the more personal tweets that let you feel connected to your friends and community... the ones that don't seem important enough to post right now, for the most part. I made a No Twitter in the Bedroom rule, because it's too alarming.

I also talked to my psychiatrist about trying to find a non-profit to volunteer some time for, and he happened to have some links he compiled for someone else handy for me.

I saw a good post about global warming and climate change, arguing that a more organized push with a single goal is needed, and we should push for carbon tax wherever possible. I checked out the website of the organization they recommended, which wasn't bad, but their Twitter didn't really have anything concise and RTable.
cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)
Unlike the majority of the Ubuntu user population, I preferred the Gnome 3 desktop from the beginning. I'm really attached to it and have gone through a bunch of different distros trying to find one that works correctly in all the ways I care about. I couldn't get everything I needed to work with Debian.

Now [personal profile] waxjism is running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and I'm running Ubuntu Gnome 16.04 LTS, and the differences are more apparent:

+ Ubuntu Gnome:
  • Panel indicators show up in a single integrated menu for the most part in Gnome.

  • The Calendar widget displays events from my Google calendar.

  • There's a new, native calendar app that does the same, and is more convenient than the web interface or the previous Linux apps. (The new native world clock/clock/timer is useful too, if a bit rough around the edges, and there's a new to-do app which could display google tasks and provide an indicator applet, but is neat.)

  • The top panel is easily themed with CSS and a variety of extensions let you add applications and places menus and a number of useful toggles and indicators. You can't do anything about it in Unity but adjust the opacity, where you also can't do much about how hideously ugly and unthemeable the application launcher has always been and remains.

  • The application menus display seamlessly in the top panel and native gnome programs integrate title and menubar. The corresponding function under Unity looks stupid and takes extra screen real estate.

  • Gedit is my favorite editor and it's streamlined but just as functional now, which I love (an older version is packaged with Ubuntu Unity).

  • [personal profile] waxjism is having some kind of driver issue with Unity that makes some flash videos, depending on what the site is running (eg HBO Nordic and Viaplay - so: hockey - but not Netflix), crash the entire computer so it suddenly and without warning shuts down. I had this for a while about a year ago under Gnome 3 on Debian, but apparently not anymore. Wouldn't want to switch and suddenly have this problem start back up again, though.

+ Ubuntu Unity:
  • The standard Ubuntu & Gnome file manager - Nautilus - packaged in Ubuntu Gnome is so slow it's basically unusable. A lot of changes have happened under the hood with the new versions of Nautilus apparently? Whatever, it doesn't matter how much better it would work if it never finishes doing it. Alternative file manager Nemo, forked by and for Linux Mint, mostly works in Ubuntu Gnome, but for example, it doesn't handle symlinks to folders correctly under Ubuntu Gnome (a functionality that's been perfectly fine in every Linux I've tried since like 2007), it set up Samba but not without giving me some trouble, and it doesn't look right because it's designed for another distro that has its own themes (it works flawlessly in Mint, as far as I've ever noticed). - Meanwhile Nautilus is fine under Unity, although complaints about functionality that's been removed are still germane.

  • The greeter/login/lockscreen (LightDM) is better in Unity.

  • The quicklists, which add extra indicators and right click functionalities to running apps in the launcher under Unity, can be legitimately useful. There's nothing like that in the Gnome shell dock.

  • Terminal refuses to remember my preference to not display the menu bar under Ubuntu Gnome, another thing I've never had a problem with before.


cimorene: A black-and-white vintage photograph of 1920s singer Helen Kane in profile, with a dubious, side-eye expression (Default)


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