Jun 28, 2009

Everyone's an idiot but me

I'm in a coffee shop, waiting way too long in a line that wasn't moving nearly fast enough for my tastes. The five people in front of me are slothful, ignorant losers that can't decide what they want, even though I know that they get the same thing every time. The cashier is bored and rude and slow. I'm very much annoyed by the time it's my turn. I give my order, she gives my total, and I hand over my credit card. She does nothing, except look at me like I'm some kind of super freak.

"What," I say, "you take Visa." I gesture obviously towards the little Visa sign by the till.

"Yes" she says, "we do take Visa. We don’t take library cards."

You've been there. Right? You're minding your own business, making a right hand turn onto a side street, and suddenly everyone is freaking out. Cars are honking, pedestrians are waving frantically. Screw off, you think. You know you've done nothing wrong. Stupid people blaming you for something, you don't know what. Just ignore them and keep driving. Up a road with all the street signs facing the other way. With a stream of cars heading right to you, driving in your lane! Those stupid...oh, balls. You’re going the wrong way up a one way street.

I remember another coffee shop encounter, where I was in a rush to get to work, and the incompetence of the barista had me particularly riled. I finally got my coffee, and was trying to maneuver around a group of thuggish loiterers that were blocking first the milk counter, and then the door. With a sigh and several rolls of my eyes I finally tried to squeeze through the crowd, pushing slightly more than I probably should have. And of course in my haste I hadn’t secured my lid properly, so when I bumped into someone my coffee went, well, mostly in my bag, with a healthy dose on my shirt and shoes. The poor soul I tackled got off coffee-free.

And yesterday, I'm walking downtown, listening to my beginners Spanish lessons on my mp3 player. And all of these totally rude people were continuously driving by me with their stupid cars and loud motors. I kept missing the words I was supposed to be learning! After glaring at the motorists for a while I finally gave up and pulled my earphones out in a lavish and angry gesture. In doing so I managed to whip the sunglasses off of my face and send them flying. This startled me and I dropped my headphones, tripped over them, and spent a few seconds doing the tangled-up two-step (nearly crushing my sunglasses in the process).

These moments of divine failure are always preceded by an unhealthy dose of annoyance, and some level of a superiority complex. I find the more irritated I am at other people, the more superior I feel to the stupid creatures around me, the more likely I am to be absolutely, pathetically in the wrong. And it's hard to dismount these particularly high horses. I've already made it quite clear that I'm pissed off, and I'm sure it’s also stunningly obvious that I caused whatever stupid situation I've ended up in. So acting more pissy just makes me look like a self righteous jerk (or more like one, I should say). But laughing about it seems to say that I think it’s okay to be a jerk if other people are in the wrong, but if it turns out to be me that’s wrong, well, then it's funny. Which also drives home the “self righteous jerk” point mentioned above.

It doesn't help that annoyance is the second most common emotion I feel. I once had a boyfriend tell me I got easily annoyed, and I can’t tell you how much that ticked me off! My reaction proved his point nicely, and set him laughing and me fuming. So yes, I am aware of how ridiculous my irritable nature is, and I do try to hide it. The trouble is, I can’t tell how successful I am at this. Do my scathing, sarcastic comments that I keep off my tongue display themselves on my face? Or do people just think I'm being quiet and perhaps contemplative as I sit, seething in a short-lived rage?

What I need is some sort of device that starts to beep whenever my nerves are particularly ragged or I start to see the strangers around me more as pests then people. Whenever I hear this beeping I'll just sit down and not do or say anything until the feeling passes. Or maybe I'll start wearing a medical alert bracelet that I can flash at people when I’m in the middle of a personality breakdown. Sorry, I'll say. But as you can clearly see by this gaudy piece of government issued jewelry, I am a Level 3 Jackass. This means I'm able to function in society with minimal supervision, but am prone to unprovoked fits of sulking.

Jun 19, 2009

Sarah and the friendly birds

Once upon a time (maybe seven or eight months ago) I was on a pretty good health kick. I was eating healthily, going to the gym every morning, cycling to work, swimming, and yes, sometimes even jogging. I was feeling pretty good. Then something happened (we'll call it "christmas baking"), and all those benefits that come with the exercising thing went straight out the window. You know, things like momentum, motivation, and pants that fit. Stupid seasonal cookies. I've been meaning to get back to all three of those things. For months now I've been feeling like the desire to get my butt back in shape was close. Bound to hit me any day. It didn't.

So, yesterday I went for a run anyway. Screw the motivation, I can do without it! I'm huffing and puffing my way through Fairfield, when these two crows do a fly-by of my head and then land in the tree in front of me, cawing their little beaks off. I barely notice, I'm so caught up in not giving up five minutes into my excursion. I pass under them, and they come after me again, swooping just behind my head, then circling around and landing in another tree. "Oh," I say, "hello, friends."

They were not my friends.

I pass them again and they take another run at me, this time coming so close I swear I felt a wing graze my ear. "Hahaha," I say, getting a little weirded out. "Caw, caw!" they reply, and this is when I notice the evil flames of hate spewing forth from their beady little eyes. This was no friendly encounter with some winged creatures of love and sharing. These beasts were targeting me specifically. And to be clear, they were very, very pissed off.

They must have buzzed me seven or eight times, coming closer and closer and getting louder and more terrifying every time. And this isn't me over-dramatizing the situation. An elderly gardener out watering his petunias looked rather startled as the three of us jogged by, and a cyclist nearly hit a parked car when he was distracted by the sight of us. Picture it, if you will. Two psycho, possibly rabid, hell birds dive bombing a struggling jogger who is doing her best to pretend there's nothing odd going on. I was NOT going to give these crazed fouls the satisfaction of having me flail my arms about my head, or demonstrate any other sign of distress. Nope, nothing to see here. Move along, please.

I'm not a superstitious person, and I don't believe in signs or spirit animals or anything like that. But I'll admit I was a little afraid to return home in case these were harbingers of doom and I'd have a message relaying some family tragedy waiting for me. Fortunately, that was not the case. But I can't get those damn birds out of my mind. I mean, it takes a girl several months to make an attempt to exercise, and this is what she's greeted with?

Maybe they were attracted to the shiny grey hairs that protrude from my head like little wire antennas. Hey, if my greys make a nice lining to a nest, the crows are welcome to them. But ask, okay? You don't have to kill me and then strip the carcass.

So, today I'm heading to the gym. Nature is too intense.

PS. As I write this I'm lying on my bed. The wind is alternately sucking my curtain all the way out the window, then pushing it all the way back in so it touches my ceiling. It looks like it's riding on a slow an irregularly paced swing. Not only is it giving me inconsistent lighting to write by, it's also making me sort of nauseous. Any bets on whether the next gust will reveal a scary crow hovering outside my window, getting ready to attack? I've done nothing to your kind! Nothing!

Leave me alone!

Jun 17, 2009

Things unemployment have taught me so far

It's been a whole two and a half weeks of living on the skid, and let me tell you, it'll toughen a girl up. Work had it's perks. The pay cheques, those were nice. There's no free juice in a conveniently located cooler for me. If I want juice, I have to go to the store and buy it. With money. Plus there was that whole social thing that just kind of happened with the 100+ people that found themselves in the same office as me day after day.

But life on the skid has it's own perks. It's called education. The school of hard knocks. Here are a few of the lessons I've learned in the last seventeen days.

1) Packing sucks.

2) I'm apparently incredibly lazy. I always thought I didn't get stuff done because if I wasn't working, I was tired from working. Nope. I just don't do things.

3) I am 99% less likely to go to the gym if it's not in the same building as my work or home.

4) Costco is pretty slow at 11am.

5) Just because you have all day to spend in a coffee shop does not mean the staff particularly want you there. In their prime window seat. Using their hydro to power your computer.

6) Learning how to create a website is a fantastic way to procrastinate. Days go by without you even noticing.

7) It is a terrible idea to cancel your internet at the same time that you suddenly have all day, every day, free. (see #5)

8) Just because your coffee maker can make up to 8 cups does not mean you should make 8 cups and drink it all by yourself.

9) An entire series of True Blood can be watched in a day and a half.

10) No, seriously. Packing really, really sucks.

Jun 16, 2009

Who is this "karma" fellow, and why did he show up now?

I was bumming about my apartment this morning, kicking boxes instead of packing them, when the phone rang. It was Francis, the guy that is stealing my fantastic apartment from me. He was downstairs and was wondering if I wanted to sell him any furniture. Great, I thought, I might get some money, and not have to move heavy junk. So I let him in.

He wasn't too impressed with my furnishings. I can't blame him. It's all (and I mean ALL) stuff that I either got for free from family garages or bought off of usedvictoria.com. No price is too cheap! But Francis decided he would take my rug (which I bought for $20) and my bookshelf (which my dad gave me for free). He asked what I thought they were worth, and I said maybe $30. I meant for the two together. But he repeated "30 dollars each? Okay." And proceeded to write me a cheque for 60 bucks.

Now, I can justify not saying anything to correct him until the cows come home. And they never come home. They don't call, they don't write, they rarely twitter...

I mean, maybe Francis is just the worst bargainer, ever. You're supposed to argue the price down, buddy. Not up. But hey, he thinks it's a fair price. In fact, he's writing the cheque so fast he probably thinks it's a steal. And it's not like I can't use the money. That whole unemployed thing doesn't really pay well. Sure, he mentioned his going into a masters program and is getting married, both of which don't pay well either. But he set a price, I accepted it...Okay, feel free to comment on if I failed some kind of ethical test.

Karma certainly seemed to think so.

After he left I hopped in my car and drove to Pacific Union to abuse their wireless internet. See, when I stopped working for the corporation, the corporation stopped paying for my home internet. Jerks. Two hours later I remembered I'd parked at an hour meter. Sure enough, my municipal government left me a bill for 40 bucks. Listen, Karma, I don't believe in you, so just leave me alone. Okay?

If Francis's cheque bounces, I'm not cleaning the toilet before I move out. I'm just saying.

Jun 15, 2009

Is this brilliant self discovery? Or just a typical life crisis?

I'm looking around my apartment - at all the boxes scattered on the floor, at the piles of weird crap that have made their way out of closets and are demanding to be sorted, at the bags of things that were once “possessions” and are now “garbage” – and I'm wondering what the hell I'm doing.

In 17 days I'll be boarding a plane to Ecuador. My oldest sister and her boyfriend have been traveling through South America for months, and I'm joining them on last leg of their journey. For four weeks I'll hang out in jungles, goggle at the Andes, and visit with some big turtles and a few nasty bugs. It's an exciting trip, but nothing too life-altering. My employer even offered to give me a leave for twice as long. Who wouldn't want the ability to travel for a few months, and have some job security when they're done?

Me, apparently. I turned down the leave, turned in my notice on my job and apartment, and in 17 days I'll be unemployed and homeless and heading to a new continent. And perhaps it's a little late in the game, but I'm starting to ask myself why.

First off, I love my apartment. I mean, I really, really love it. It's in this older building and has a full kitchen - not one of those little galleys, but a big room with a door and everything. I have a fire escape with pots of herbs, hardwood floors, lots of light, and a Murphy ironing board. My living room looks great with shelves and shelves of books and old records. I have a sewing corner that I actually use, and framed artwork given to me by talented, arty friends. When my place is clean I just walk around it smiling.

And then I had this job. I've never aspired to any type of career,but I somehow found myself moving up in a corporate world, and getting paid pretty well for it. Making money to pay for my cool apartment. It was all too perfect.

Not perfect. Once the shiny protective coating started to wear off, I realized a few things about the life I was living. I didn't choose it, it just sort of happened while I wasn't paying attention. And it was a lifestyle that alternated between being incredibly stressful and mind-numbingly boring. Two states of being that I try to avoid at all costs had become my status quo. The kicker was that I wasn't even using the benefits of the job (ie, the money) to do things in my non-working life that I loved. I was just coming home to my amazing apartment, eating too much and watching downloaded tv shows.

It was about a year ago that I figured all that out, but I didn't leave. The velvet handcuffs had me, as my dad says. I spent a year getting more and more pissed off with myself for doing nothing to change anything about my life. Until finally, a few months ago, I up and quit. Maybe I'll talk about why later. Let's just say that it wasn't planned. Gave up my apartment, and emailed my sister to say I'd be down in July. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

So why am I re-evaluating that decision now? Probably because I hate packing and this is just another way to procrastinate. Maybe also because people are making it way too easy for me to change my mind. Hey, my boss said, let us know when you're ready to come back. I know he means well. But while having no definable future is a little terrifying, the thought of finally having got the nerve to leave, only to come back to the exact same thing a few months later, makes me feel nauseous. Maybe that means I've made the right decision.

Which brings me to the point of this blog. It is intended to help keep me honest and on track. Just look at my last decade. You'll find plenty of scenarios where I've been in a similar mindset, only to backslide into the rat race. I want out. Hopefully this time it's for good. And hopefully keeping a regular and public record will keep me focused.

Wish me luck! Okay, first hurdle – packing up my books. My beautiful, comforting books. Sigh.