Friday, August 31, 2007
No-Time Toulouse

I spent today doing a kind of deer-in-the-headlights thing. The reality of what I'm about to undertake -- not to mention its imminence -- hit me hard yesterday and left me spinning my wheels uselessly. I have been anxious, indecisive, and ultimately not good for much. On the one hand, I'm getting ridiculously excited -- I want to go right now. On the other, part of me wants to curl up in a ball and cower under a piece of heavy furniture until the big scary thing goes away. It'll pass, I know. I just hope it passes soon, since I don't have a whole lot of extra time to spend dicking around like this.

All I see around me are little jobs waiting to be done. My sole objective for this weekend is to gather all these things together and put them somewhere where I can sort through them methodically. That sounds like a good thing to do, right?

And speaking of non-sequiturs...

I have a threadbare old memory from preschool -- I'd have been four or five years old, and I went to a daycare that I vaguely remember being located in a cream-colored house. It was a typical sort of place -- lots and lots and lots of toys around, and a room with a lot of mats for naptime. And every day after naptime there was a toy lottery. The teachers would call kids' names in apparently-random order, and each kid would select a toy for quiet playtime. The big win was a homemade fishing game consisting of fish cut out of construction paper with paperclips where their lips should be, and a fishing pole made of a stick and a string with a magnet tied to the end. It had a whole room devoted to it (that's how I remember it, anyway), and it was always the first pick. Always. I got to play with it once. Even then I realized that it was grossly over-rated.

But the toy I really coveted was a massive bucket full of plastic farm animals and dinosaurs. To this day, I twitch a little when I'm walking through the drugstore and cut through the toy aisle and see the plastic bags full of farm animals -- amazingly identical to the ones I had when I was little, unchanged in twenty-five years. But that bucket at the daycare was something else again. And every time, it slipped through my grasp, and I invariably ended up playing with the toy cash register, or the dollhouse with all the stickers peeling off, or the piece of plywood with the nails in it that you stretched rubber bands around to make artful designs. That thing would probably be illegal in a daycare now, and rightly so: it sucked.

I don't think I ever got the bucket of animals, which is probably why I still remember coveting it today. And I only mention it because I was walking through a store today and happened upon their jaw-dropping selection of plastic animals. And these aren't the shitty ones with the bad paint jobs and the sharp blades of plastic left along the mold lines -- these are European-made, super-realistic jungle animals, dragons, unicorns, knights on horseback. They are the ne plus ultra of plastic animals. I actually stopped and gawked, and wondered where the hell these things were when I was coming up, because I would have demanded them all.

Which isn't a complaint. I had my share of plastic animals as a child -- I had an admirable collection of Breyer model horses, and a few little plastic equestrian-themed horses with riders and a stable. I had the Lone Ranger figures, though I really only cared about the poseable horses that came with them. If you count the Star Wars action figures -- and why not? -- then I had as many plastic toys as any American child could arguably require. I was never left wanting, and I'm not inclined to collect toys as an adult.

But the four-year-old in me lusts after those plastic animals.
9:01 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
30 Days

That's how long I have left before I leave Memphis, counting today. Everything is weird. And I don't just mean for me -- there seems to be strangeness everywhere. Things are unsettled. Maybe I'm just projecting... but I don't really think so.

Anyway, I'm making steady progress, but I'm also feeling a lot of pressure. I've scheduled my first A+ exam for next Friday, and the second one two weeks after that. I have never been this nervous about an exam in my life -- not the SATs, not the ACTs, not my AP exams. I'm a good tester, and it's nice to finally have another chance to use that obscure, pointless skill. But as much information as I've absorbed over the last few months of studying, there are so many fussy little details that still slip away from me when faced with a practice test question.

I don't think editing the MTC trailer is going to take all that long -- I have a good idea how I want it to go, and since it's just a teaser I can just hang it off some music for structure and be done. So I can probably get that done before I leave, too.

But those are still two fairly big projects to complete in a short span of time, along with all the packing and preparing I have to do. I've reserved a trailer, but I still need to get a hitch. I've got transmission work, two new tires, a tune-up and alignment coming up. I've got to redo my resume and find an initial place to stay in Portland. And then there are the squillion little jobs - paint this, re-organize that, sew my good backpack back together, update my address book, clean out my room, get a haircut, etc. etc. etc. In other words, I have 60 days worth of shit to do in 30 days. I have most of the week before my departure completely free, which I expect I'll need; until then, I'm studying and editing during the week, and packing and organizing on the weekends. That's the plan, anyway.

I'm starting to freak out just a tiny bit.
12:40 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Sunday, August 26, 2007
Such An Asshole

I'm beginning to wonder if I'm becoming a less kind person.

A couple of weeks ago, I guess, I stopped by a busy gas station up in town to get an emergency bottle of Coke Zero, which I've been guzzling by the gallon lately (no lectures, please, it makes me happy.) There was a single empty parking space on the entire lot, so I drove over to it and started to pull in when I saw that a fairly large woman's bottom was blocking the way. She was bent head-first into the sliding door of a gold SUV that was already parked on the very edge of the white line, and her posterior and inferred personal space were encroaching on about 20% of the free spot. I sat for a minute assuming she would quickly wrap up whatever she was doing and extract herself, but she just stayed and stayed, oblivious to my presence. Honking the horn at her would have been overkill, and it seemed too soon to roll down the window and shout to her to please move. No other cars seemed about to leave, and I wasn't about to go to another gas station just because this woman's butt was in my way.

Luckily, one of her numerous offspring noticed my presence and alerted his mother. She, then, removed herself from her van, closed the sliding door, and then backed up against her car and gestured for me to pull in. But she was still seriously overlapping the space... what, am I supposed to risk running over you just because you can't be bothered to step up to the curb? I looked at her skeptically, and probably with visible annoyance. She gestured again to pull in. "Fuck it," I thought, "I'm done being patient about this." So I pulled in, and probably missed grazing her knees by no more than two inches. I got out, squeezing past the car on the other side (since I'd had to pull in right on top of the other line to accommodate her presence in the space), and headed for the door. I didn't even look at her.

From behind me I hear, "sorry!" I kept walking, no acknowledgment. Just as I get to the door I hear again, "I said I'm sorry!" I stopped, I looked at her long enough to make eye contact, and then I went inside.

Official protocol at that point would have been to turn and smile and say, "that's okay, don't worry about it!" That, I suppose, would have been the kind thing to do. It wasn't that I was angry at her, or even annoyed. And obviously it wasn't that I didn't hear her. I just didn't give a shit that she was sorry. Her sorriness or lack thereof made no difference to me whatsoever -- I just wanted to do what I'd come to do, and I didn't care to have any further dealings with Mrs. Oblivious. Ignoring her wasn't about retribution, it was just my way of scraping her out of my consciousness.

But even a couple of years ago I would've been more likely to give in and grant her the pardon she was asking for. Something has definitely shifted in me -- on the one hand, I'm becoming much more open with strangers; I nod and smile and say hello more often than I ever did before. On the other hand, my tolerance for other people's pointless bullshit (as I define it, obviously) is dropping fast and hard. The thing I struggle with is figuring out what it all means. I try hard to avoid being one of those people who goes around constantly referring to the rest of humanity as "stupid fucking morons" -- we are all someone's stupid fucking moron now and then, and that's true of me as much as anyone. People making mistakes doesn't bother me. But the blatant, gross lack of awareness that some people possess -- the apparent complete inability to recognize that there are other sentient beings in the world -- fills me with righteous rage.

I don't go out of my way to attack those people, or punish them, or even point out their offenses. Sometimes I think I should point it out to them -- that by ignoring it, I'm in some tiny way complicit, that one of our problems as a society is that we no longer let each other know when we're being assholes. I'm too conflict-averse to actually risk it, though I often feel the urge. But hell if I'm going to let them off the hook for it.

But somehow, afterwards, it bothered me -- it still bothers me weeks later, obviously, since I'm writing a blog post about it. And that makes me angrier, that now I feel guilty for not accepting her empty apology. I think that was probably her objective. And if there's one thing that really pisses me off, it's manipulation.

So who was the asshole: her, or me? Come on, you can be honest with me.
6:25 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Saturday, August 25, 2007
Poor Buddy

There's this guy at work named Buddy, I barely know him. He's a nice guy, though, liked by everyone. He used to be a headbanger, apparently, but now he's just a suburban dad, a little older than me, with a wife and two young kids at home, working as a PC tech.

A couple of weeks ago, he hurt his back doing chores around the house, so his wife took him to the emergency room. They checked his spine carefully, and found that he wasn't badly hurt... except that something was wrong. There was a thing on his spine. Probably nothing, but he'd had a touch of the melanoma a few years back, and they wanted to be thorough. So they scheduled some more tests, and he came back to work. He was there last week. Hell, he was there on Monday.

Yesterday he was at the hospital again, in considerable pain. They said he had the beginnings of liver and kidney failure. They still hadn't gotten his test results back yet. Today, I'm told, he was diagnosed with massive, pervasive cancer in his spine and multiple organs. He'll be dead very soon, and nobody is pretending otherwise. He asked them to drug him up enough for him to take his kids to Disney World next week.

Like I said, I barely know this guy. But god damn. How can you not be affected by something like that, even if it occurs only on the perimeter of your life? Sickness happens, and death happens. By the time you get to your 30s, you've probably known a few people who've dealt with serious illness, some of them tragically. This isn't the only cancer diagnosis I've known of. But usually when the word "cancer" comes up, especially among the young, it's scary, but it's something that people cope with, deal with, fight against. It's a dark cloud, not a death sentence. It's something they get through.

But not this guy. It's over for him. There's nothing left to do but to go to Disney World, and then come home to die.

God, poor Buddy.
10:15 AM ::
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Wednesday, August 22, 2007
The Guilt of the Company Girl

Tomorrow's the day I hand in my notice at work, and I'm really, really nervous about it. Partly because I've known I was going to leave since before I took the job, and I've been living a lie in the office. But mostly it's because this week is apparently when everybody finally got used to me being there, and they've begun to ask me what my intentions toward the company are.

"So, when do you plan to join up in a permanent position?"

"What area of IT are you thinking of going into?"

"Hey, do you want to join the image creation team/Java programming group/(insert name of obscure proprietary software here) training course?"

And then I hem and haw and say something noncommittal that makes me look vaguely dimwitted, and wonder what they're going to think when they find out that I'm bailing. And it's silly to feel this way -- for all intents and purposes this job is a low-level paid internship that I took because it fulfilled all my immediate needs, and I have no obligation whatsoever to the department or the organization. I'm not even obliged to give 30 days notice, I'm just doing it as a courtesy to my boss. I have doubts as to whether they'll even replace me after I'm gone -- I've cheerfully done everything asked of me and more, but I serve no essential role, and my desk is just a landing pad for tedious work that nobody else wants to do. The department will not be crippled nor even much inconvenienced by my departure. So why do I feel so guilty about it?

Update: It all went fine. My boss was actually really supportive -- she told me that my first priority should be to find opportunities to do what I want to do, and that everybody was behind me. So that was cool.

Now I just have to write up my formal resignation, and on Sept. 20 I'll be done here.

Whew.
8:05 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Sunday, August 19, 2007
The Zen of Packing Books

I think my room is a magical library.

I spent the afternoon packing books, and there's just no fucking end to them. However many I extract from my room, however many tidy 18x12x12 boxes I fill, there are always more. For example, I sat down to pack a box of humor books and comix -- my collection is modest but focused, mostly Chris Ware and a little Crumb and Spiegelman. And I realized that I hadn't yet found In the Shadow of No Towers, so I went back to my room to have a look. I found it without too much trouble, but I also found twenty other books hiding here and there that needed to come out. So I piled them on my bed, fetched a box, and carried them out to the garage where book-packing-related programs-activites were underway. But then I realized that I also hadn't seen my copy of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, so I went back to my room to find it, and ended up with another three dozen books piled on the bed. I went throught the whole process four or five times before giving up for the day. The weird thing is, there weren't really that many books in my room -- quite a few piled next to the bed, a few on the shelves and nearby, but it's not like I had that many extant stacks.

So there's really only one explanation: magic.

I'm putting a lot of effort into keeping like with like, so when I pull them out again in a few months I don't have to spend that extra time sorting through them. It was easy initially -- all the western canon-type stuff goes in a box; all the old academic books on folklore go in another box; the film books filled up a box neatly. But after the first half dozen boxes it became more associative and zen -- science, atheism, politics, and poetry ended up in a box together. Harlan Ellison and James Joyce are sharing a box. I'm wondering how far I can get before I start chucking all the orphans in boxes at random.

By my calculations, the drive from Memphis to Portland will take about 40 hours. That's 40 hours of actual driving, mind you -- not counting stopping for fuel, overnighting at motels, and sanity breaks. That's a long time to spend staring into the middle distance. So I've included a small fund for listening material in my budget -- I've got a couple of albums on my list to pick up, and I'm thinking I might grab a dozen or so downloads of old This American Life shows for those moments when all I really want is to hear someone talk about something interesting. But I'd still welcome some suggestions, and I know my readers have good taste. And it doesn't all have to be music.
7:45 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Friday, August 17, 2007
Loves Company

Right, so, where was I?

I'm finally back to 100% today -- I woke up this morning full of energy and ready to get some shit done this weekend. The bad news is that now everybody else in the house is sick. It's an ugly, ugly scene. I'm feeling so good, though, I can afford to take some small delight in it -- to this day, whenever I skip work because I'm "sick", my mother still gets that flicker of doubt in her eye. But let's see if she still doubts the truth of my claim from her spot on the sofa, watching Rachel Ray and groaning, running for the toilet three times an hour, eh? Heh!

I fell behind on things while I was down, though, and I can't afford to fall behind any farther. I actually doubt that I'll be able to afford another sickness at all in the next six months, so I hope two bouts of stomach flu within six months is a pre-emptive strike against future disease. I don't think it works that way, though.

I've been contemplating my options once I hit the ground in Portland. The first order of business, obviously, will be to get a job -- any job -- to stop or at least slow the nasty sucking noise coming from my bank account. I have a little cash in the bank, but not enough to be complacent. The first six to twelve months will be dominated, I'm sure, by minimum-wage unskilled work and temp jobs, and quite likely more than one of the above at a time. And that's cool, I'm up for some of that. But it's no way to live your life -- someday I would like to be able to afford an actual bed, like, one that isn't filled with air, one that stands over the floor instead of lying right on it. I'm not going to get there on less than $12/hr. And I have resigned myself to the absolute necessity of procuring some kind of editing computer as my first nonessential purchase -- that's not going to be easy.

But those things will work themselves out in time. My larger concern is trying to imagine what kind of life I want to make for myself, in a place that should be somewhat more amenable to my line of work than this one. Portland has a good deal of media activity, which seems to center on advertising, which is fantastic -- ads are the work of Satan, of course, but making them is the most fun thing ever. In fact, if I had to choose an area of the media industry on which to focus my efforts (setting aside art documentary, which doesn't count since that's more of an expensive hobby than a career path), I would be very tempted by advertising. The jobs are short, intensive, well-funded, and often technically interesting as well. The only things that might be more fun are music videos, and ads and videos are so close conceptually that there's often a lot of overlap. Which is to say, where do I sign up?

The more pressing question is in what capacity I might try to climb aboard the Portland media scene. I've been thinking for a while now that postproduction is probably where I'd be happiest in my working life -- I love the rest of the process as well, but when working for others, all I really want is to be given a task or a project and then go away to a dark little room to work on my own. Not that I expect to start off that way -- I anticipate that the early stages of any career path will involve me swallowing my pride on a regular basis (and hopefully nothing else), but that's where I'd like to end up.

But god almighty do I have a lot of catching up to do. I know how media works, both theoretically and practically; I know the major elements of postproduction and how they fit together, and I know how to edit (though a good mentor could probably open up new worlds.) I sorta-kinda know about sound design, to the point that I rarely cock things up horribly, but I lack that certain spark that might actually make me useful. Image manipulation is beyond me, my understanding of broadcast standards is woeful, and we won't even bring up the subject of visual effects.

So there are a lot of things I need to hustle to get up to speed on. I don't need to be an expert at all of it, but I need to be competent, and I need to be able to speak intelligently about every possible aspect of postproduction so I can talk to people who are experts without embarrassing myself. I need to learn ALL the software to a reasonably advanced level -- FCP is no problem, but I need to learn Avid, I need to learn Pro Tools, I need to learn the various CG and motion graphics programs, compression software, mastering software, web apps, and probably a crapload of other stuff I haven't thought of. I need to brush up on video standards, and god knows I need a better handle on time code.

Which is to say, I've got a lot of work to do. And it's not like there's a book on this stuff -- there are books, but even those are only so helpful. Experience is what I need most, and hopefully access will be easier in a city with a functioning media sector. A lot of this I could pick up on my own once I was exposed to it, and for the rest, I'm a good self-teacher. I'm starting late, and from a devoted but patchy background, but I'm sure there's a way to get there from here.

If anybody has any suggestions, though, I'd love to hear them.
1:20 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Misery

Sorry about the silence lately. I got really sick over the weekend and wasn't capable of much more than lying inert on the sofa. I'm somewhat improved today, but I've already spent most of my meager mental energy on other things.

I'll post again soon, I promise.
5:09 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Thursday, August 09, 2007
Working Title

Sweet Jesus, things are moving so fast all of a sudden. It seems like week before last I was telling people I still had twelve weeks to go, and now I look up and it's barely more than six. I woke up at 3 AM last night, all a-flutter over everything I have to get done -- not anxious, just caught off-guard by my own racing mind. I think I said something a few weeks ago about hoping to take a leisurely approach to this move. Clearly I failed to appreciate that the words "leisurely" and "move" are mutually exclusive, no matter how on top of things you are.

After that last post, I realized that I have to get this trailer done before I go. I need some fresh work to show people, on the very off-chance that an opportunity arises. And knowing that I'm unlikely to manage it once I get there, it's crucial that I get it done now, before I leave. So I've re-doubled my efforts at getting these fucking tapes captured and logged -- I've got 18 to go. I can get two more done tonight, and then four each on Friday and Saturday, and go into next week with only eight left. If I can manage that, then I can start rendering (which is obnoxiously time-consuming but light on mental resources as there's not much to do but monitor the process), and use that time to do the final round of studying for the A+ exam and running a lot of little errands that need doing. Then I take the exam, do the edit, and then focus on the move.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

I need some help with something, though. I've spent the last year of my life shooting this film, right? I've been thinking about it for even longer. I'm in the process of reviewing my material, and soon I'll be starting to actually piece it together into a narrative. But I have a totally unexpected problem: I have no title for this thing.

Usually I can pull a title for anything out of my ass in thirty seconds or less -- they're not all poetry, but I think I have a respectable hit rate. But for this one, I just keep coming up empty. Even my working title is pathetic -- "MTC Film." I mean, fuck, surely I can do better than that? And I try and try to come up with something -- even something bad, something stupid, just to give it a real name. But after more than a year, I've got absolutely fucking nothing.

It's a film about teachers in the Mississippi delta. What should it be called? Help me!
12:17 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Monday, August 06, 2007
Progress, Slow

I'm going to try to sneak a post in from work -- my boss is off somewhere else and my desk is, as always, empty, so I might as well.

In spite of the brutal heat yesterday, I still forced myself to sort through another batch of old boxes. The weeding-out process is getting hard now -- I'm getting into stuff that's already been weeded out once before, and it's all been stored under better conditions for a shorter time, so it's in better shape. Thus, there are fewer items that obviously belong in the pitch pile. Even so, I managed to haul another couple of boxes of books off to Goodwill, so I figure it's still an acceptable day's work. There are a few things sitting in limbo, though. I'm thinking about collecting them together and then running a poll here on the blog about what I should keep and what I should get rid of.

For instance, I found my old leather jacket. I got it second-hand at an army surplus for my 13th birthday (when a leather bomber jacket seemed like a necessary thing to have, I guess), and wore it fairly frequently during junior high. Amazingly I can still just about get into it, and it's in decent shape all things considered. But more than that, I have a sentimental attachment to it. I can still find where I wrote the initials of boys I liked in tiny, tiny letters just inside the cuff. It's one of only a few personal possessions I still have from that period in my life. It's very much a reminder of who I was back then.

On the other hand, what, like I'm going to wear it? Like it's ever going to do anything more than hang in my closet? Like some other dorky kid might not be able to use it and make it a part of his/her adolescent identity? (I know, I pity that kid too... ) So what the hell do I do with stuff like this? It meant something to me once, but I haven't even laid eyes on it in the best part of a decade, so obviously it doesn't mean much to me now. When does something stop being a keepsake, and start being just another bit of crap I'm hanging on to for no useful reason?

There are also things I failed to do this weekend: I failed to study as much as I wanted to, and I failed utterly to make any progress on the film. I'm starting to get the feeling that I'm not going to finish everything I want to in the seven weeks left before I pack up and leave, and I'm wondering what's going to be the thing that doesn't get done. The packing obviously has to happen or I'm not going anywhere; the certification is also a reasonably sure thing since I'm not terribly far off now, and it's something with a finite conclusion -- I can just do it and be done.

That means the film is the likely candidate to fall short of my pre-move aspirations, since it's so time-consuming and open-ended. It would really, really be best if I had all my footage digitized and rendered and safely organized on my hard drive before I leave; it would be better still if I could get a trailer done as well. The last week before I go is devoted to getting my life ready for transport; and I'll need about two weeks to cut a trailer. That means I've got four weeks to get the footage ready for work. Theoretically it's possible -- my estimate is that it would take about 15 hours per week to get that lot done. On the other hand, I've been working on it for about three weeks already, and I've only got about a third of my footage digitized, and none of it rendered. The problem is (and I hope the MTC people aren't reading this) I have absolutely no idea where I'm going to find the computing power to edit once I'm in Portland -- I don't own an editing machine of my own and can't afford to buy one just now. So I'm trying to prepare with an eye towards nothing getting done on the film for a couple of months after I move (which is a likely outcome even if I do have a machine to edit on, since I'll have all of that life/job/place to live stuff to sort out first.)

I wouldn't say I'm worried about any of this -- there are no firm deadlines apart from those I impose upon myself, and nobody's making any demands. There are no penalties if I fail. So let's just say it lays some weight on my mind.

And it seems that recently I just can't get enough sleep. Not that I'm sleeping badly -- I get my 8 hours of mostly uninterrupted slumber -- but it's never quite enough. Dragging myself out of bed in the morning has become painful; my body always wants more rest. Even the days when I can sleep as long as I want, the days when I put in ten or eleven hours, I still get up only because to pass the 12-hour mark seems unseemly, not because I couldn't do it if I wanted to.

Not a very interesting blog post, I'm afraid -- I'm right in the middle of the quiet, industrious period before everything starts to happen. I'm gathering my momentum, building up the potential energy I'll need to break Memphis' insidious gravitational pull. You know how it is.
12:10 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Saturday, August 04, 2007
Another Statistic

I don't really do political posts anymore, but here's a little political pop quiz for you. Let's see how well you understand American politics:

A state representative is caught soliciting sex in a men's room in a public park. He initiates a conversation with another gentleman in the restroom, and offers him $20 for a blowjob. Bear in mind, this is for the senator to blow the other guy -- he's offering to pay to blow, not to be blown. He offers to go with said gentleman to another location in the park, one that the legislator said was "quieter."

The other gentleman turns out to be an undercover police officer. Oops.

The state representative is the Police Union's 2007 Lawmaker of the Year. He's also rated "Worst of the Worst" by the Orange County, Florida Rainbow Democratic Club. Oops.

The state representative turns out to be the one who sponsored a bill to crack down on soliciting sex in public parks. Oops.

When he finally spoke about the incident, the state representative said, "This (undercover officer) is a pretty stocky black guy, and there's other black guys around in the park that -- you know!" Oops.

Now, without peeking, is this state representative a Democrat or a Republican?

Like we even have to ask.

More deliciousness:

When he entered the restroom, his stated intention was only to get away from the weather, and he "certainly wasn't there to have sex with anybody and certainly wasn't there to exchange money for it."

He justified his generous offer of twenty bucks and a BJ to aforementioned stocky black gentleman because he wanted to get away from him. Because obviously the best way to put distance between yourself and a distressing stranger is to put his penis in your mouth.

He actually warned the undercover cop that there were undercover cops working the park.

According to his Florida House profile, his only recreational interest is "water sports".

In the aftermath of the incident, Rep. Allen said, "I went ahhh -- I'm about to be a statistic. You catch all kinds of people, so a legislator is like whoa! You know, especially one that's the (police union) guy of the year...this is too ironic!"
12:24 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Uninspired Post Title

Hello, August, it's good to see you. It's unusual for me to be so happy to see a month I'm even more eager to see the end of, but life is funny that way. Towards the end of this month I'll give notice at my job; then shortly afterwards it'll be September, and September is getting so, so close. The last week of September and all of October are going to be wall-to-wall awesomeness 24-7. I'll be exhausted even before I get to the holidays. And the only thing standing between me and the most awesome month ever is August.

Let's see, what was I doing this time last year? I wonder what insight the archives might hold?

The downside is, August is going to be a pain in the ass. It's stinking fucking hot, I have a little too much to do, and the only "leisure" time I get is spent sitting in a windowless, fluorescent-lit office listening to inane conversation. This is because I do exactly fuck-all at my job.

For example, today is the one day when I have actual duties to perform. At the beginning of each month, I do metrics and some assorted spreadsheet updates, which take me all of two hours to complete when I've got the data I need. The problem is getting the data -- for some reason, I still don't have direct access to it, so I have to wait for other people to give it to me. And they all have better things to do, so I always end up sitting around waiting. Which is pretty much what I do every other day, but still. In a few hours I'll go take minutes at a meeting. Woot. All in, I probably do about five hours of actual work a week, out of the twenty I sit in this office. And it's not that I won't work, it's just that I don't have anything to do. The work I do could be easily done by one of the people already working in this space, since they already have a lot of downtime. I'm a totally superfluous employee.

Not that it matters to me, really -- like I said, I don't plan on being around much longer in any case. But it still kind of hurts to see a charity-funded organization blowing money on employees it doesn't need, even if I'm the short-term beneficiary of their excessive largesse. We have a new guy in charge of our department, and he seems keen on cutting away some of the fat in the department, which it badly needs -- it's not even a question of cutting staff, it's just mopping up some of the obvious waste. And I definitely count my job as "obvious waste." So seeing as I don't plan on staying here, and seeing as my job is basically 20 hours per week of boredom punctuated by occasional busywork, should I take the initiative and quietly tell Mr. New Boss that my departure would be a good chance to save some funds? Or should I just keep my damn yap shut and not ruin it for the next person?

I know, I know -- she complains when she has a job where she has to do stuff all the time, and she complains when she has a job where she doesn't have anything to do at all. There's just no pleasing some people, I should be glad I've got it, etc. etc. And it does give me some time to study -- I want to get this A+ thing over with as soon as I can, and I'm getting pretty close to being ready. The networking and security sections are giving me some trouble, and I really don't understand why it's so fucking important that I know by heart what sockets fit which processors. Like I couldn't just look that up if it ever arose in my working life? But I can handle it -- I'm good at this sort of shit. And for all intents and purposes I'm being paid by the hour to study. It could be worse, I know, and it has been, and it doubtless will be again. In a few months you'll probably be reading a post bitching about all three of my boring, shitty jobs. Feel free to slap me a few times, I probably need it (to help me stay awake.)

All I really want is to get paid to do the stuff I'm doing most evenings after this job -- editing. I'm doing it for free now; imagine getting paid for it.

And the edit for the Teacher Corps film is creeping along. Capturing and logging these tapes is slow and often tedious, but it'll make things easier in the long run. The part I'm not looking forward to is rendering -- you see, every bit of footage I capture has to be rendered before I can really use it. But rendering, on the ponderous old G4 I'm using, goes at about half of real-time, so it takes twice as long again as capturing and logging. So for every hour of footage I've shot, I have to spend three hours preparing it before I can even start actually editing. At least during the capture I can review and take notes; during the render I'll just be sitting around -- just like at work. Yay.

The good news is that so far all the footage looks pretty good. I get the occasional bit of mic noise, but miraculously it mostly occurs over junk footage, and most of the good bits are clear. And every little problem and mistake I vaguely remembered from the shoot has turned out to be grossly exagerrated in my mind. Like the time I forgot to start recording until my very first quick interview with a guy who turned out to be one of my main subjects was almost over -- turns out, I actually forgot to hit record on a different interview entirely, with someone who won't even appear in the film. So all my worries have been resolved one by one, and the rest I'll figure out in the edit. My hope is to get a trailer-type thingy done for them before I leave, so they have something to see, and to take some of the pressure off of me while I turn my life inside out.

So that's my life -- boring job, studying, editing, getting ready to move, and pacing off the days until September. So you know where to find me if you need me.
12:24 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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