Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dating, Discovery and Destruction Derby


The word of the week is fecundity.

May 18 – Holiday for the Heart

As most of you know, it’s been a long, long while since I’ve had any sort of romantic relationship. For various reasons that I won’t get into here, nothing’s ever worked out, even in the short term.

This month, things seem to be changing in that area, for the better.

While it’s too soon to say much at all, I have been spending time with someone for a few weeks now. It’s been surprising in many ways, for the both of us I think, in how much we have in common. At the base of it all, we really enjoy each other’s company, for many reasons, and I think that’s a solid basis for seeing anyone romantically, wherever it ends up going. Today was the Victoria Day holiday and I spent the better part of it in the company of someone who, it also seems, couldn’t get enough of my company. It was a fantastic, magical day outside in perfect holiday weekend weather.

AS days go, it really doesn't get much better than today!

Good relationships happen offline, outside of FBook status updates or blog postings. As such I’ll be observing that item of respectful privacy for my date, until or unless they say differently at a future time – you’ll rarely, if ever, see updates here or FBook and what will show up won’t be more than general happenings or thoughts. For this week, I wanted to share my optimism here, as I have on many other subjects, because it’s a special and rare thing for me… and because I want to keep my friends and family updated on how my life is changing for the better, as it happens.

New Beginnings: that’s what this blog is all about, and this most certainly qualifies.


May 19 – Good job!

It’s been rather busy at work, enough so that I’ve felt a bit worn some days coming home and unwinding’s been a priority more than anything. Thankfully, I have my writing to look forward to, especially when I get feedback on my second book, chapter by chapter and tonight was our monthly critique meeting – huzzah!

We changed locations for the critique group this time, going up to the SkyLounge to bask in the warm breezes and to enjoy the golden rays of the sun as it set on our meeting later on.

Unusually, I received better than I gave, in that I felt the feedback I passed out on the work of two other writers( the third is still working on his final draft )wasn’t as useful as I could have wished. I think perhaps it had to do with a different critique I gave another writer last week, one that wasn’t kind… but it was truthful and I think, far more useful as such.


Having been on the other end of that particular bruising stick, I couched last week’s long-essay-length feedback in terms of praise alongside the very necessary things I perceived that needed to happen with that writer’s work. I had read their previous draft and to be honest, it looked as though none of the feedback I’d given on that version had been incorporated into this one. Which, seeing as the writer has plans to publish later this year, worries me: they’re nowhere near the level of completeness and polish they need to be with this novel. It was a surprise to me, as the writer in question is very well-versed technically, so I could only surmise that they simply haven’t spent the time to truly invest in and incorporate all the feedback they’ve received on their work.

With my own critique group( numbering four, including myself )the feedback I receive is absolutely vital to my writing; without it, I’d be adrift in a sea of my own uninformed opinion. So I give my all in return when providing my writerly friends feedback, thankful for what they can tell me about my own work and appreciative of the many diverse strengths they all bring to the table.

Now, if I could only invent a device like Hermione’s Time Turner so I could do at least four drafts for each book in my trilogy, I’d be a happy writer!


May 20 –A Year At The Job

A year ago this week, I was waiting to start my new government job.

It wasn’t a permanent position, just a contract that I hoped would turn into a job that would finally give me some stability financially and to let me get some serious evening / weekend writing done.


Here we are a year later and I’ve mainly settled into the office, doing my part of a larger whole in being a public servant. Coming from retail, it’s been somewhat strange to get used to, especially as I realized that this particular branch of government is as hectic as retail in many ways. While some people see government jobs as cushy positions where people work just hard enough not to be reprimanded, that’s certainly not the case in my office: we have far too much work to do for any laziness to be tolerated for any length. The fact that almost everyone I work with is motivated, bright and personable really helps when the days seem too long and the work never seems finished.

I’m grateful for being able to have jumped from retail to a position of far greater security, where my skills are appreciated instead of being taken for granted. Where I can forge a future of my choosing in conjunction with my dreams of becoming a writer full-time.

 
May 21 – Not In Charge

Leadership’s a funny thing, sometimes.

I say that in terms of being someone who, at times, has run sizable groups of people or managed branches in retail. Who has also been the one to look to others for leads, as well as to critique that leadership, when necessary.

Today I was critiqued, and apparently found wanting. Not in a large way, or an intentionally hurtful way, but I was ‘slapped down’ all the same and it hurt. Well, irked me, at any rate.

I’m the sort of person who wants to help others, who wants to make our shared experience a better one, especially at work. Without getting into details, I had taken it upon myself, as the senior experienced member of my small team, to help run things day to day to take the load off our team lead, who’s also new to the job and has expressed those exact wishes: for us to self-manage.

Apparently that didn’t sit well with a co-worker, who’d rather do it all themselves, thanks-very-much. If that sound snarky, it is: I was surprised, but I shouldn’t have been, really. Government jobs are strange beasts, unlike retail, where people make their own way, leading with their opinions of how their job descriptions should be interpreted and how that relates to their co-workers day to day. I’ve seen how people form point-by-point relationships with others in the office, weaving skeins of trust and dependency, as well as placing mazes of little glass walls between themselves and those they perceive as less-than-ideal choices to go to for solving problems or even dealing with daily work.


Politics, in other words.

For myself, this lesson won’t have a major impact, save to make me more isolationist, in some sense. I’ve extended my passions and excitement a few times now already with the team, and while we seem to be working well, I get the overall impression that everyone’s oddly happier going it alone.

Sitting in the corner as I do, that’s a fairly easy policy for me to adopt and to be honest, a lot less work. So I’ll manage just myself, do my job and turn it off at 4:30pm sharp every day. I’ll let the others do things like Caller Bingo, Plaid Friday, Facts Of the Day and a dozen other small pieces that I’ve been juggling to help coalesce us as a single team unit. Hopefully by now, we have and we’ll work well together going forward.

As a plus, I’ll have even more energy left at the end of the day for my writing, which is a plus, in the end.


May 22 – Mad Max!

Crash! Boom! Bang! Movie time!

It’s been 30 years since I saw the last Mad Max film, Beyond Thunderdome, in theatres in the mid 1980’s. That film, far moreso than the first two, was purely a product of Hollywood: big name stars, a splashy budget and a kickin’ soundtrack. I liked it, remember parts of it fondly, but it still left me wanting more: how did the world end, and what was life like living after the Apocalypse?

The new Mad Max: Fury Road gave us partial answers to those questions, but raised quite a few more. Which, when I think about it, is quite a feat for a film that’s at least half all-out chase scene.

It was glorious, a feast for the eyes and surprisingly, for the mind too.


SPOILERS:

The cinematography is, without question, the best I’ve seen in many years. Given that the vast majority of the effects were practical, non-CGI work, makes the accomplishment all the more impressive. It was an experience at a whole new level in IMAX, with enough tension throughout the film that I woke the next day with a sore neck. Few films have ever had that effect on me.

I wasn’t as impressed with the plot or writing, but that’s not to say they were terrible… more like serviceable, in terms of allowing the stunning visuals to happen. Strangely, Mad Max himself is a secondary character in the film, as I saw him, assisting the main protagonist in achieving her goals and in the process becoming part of the group of dissidents, rebelling against the tyrannical Immortan Joe. Who, by the way, is fairly one-dimensional but has an incredible visual presence that really sells him as the Big Bad of the film. You really believe that he’s the reason so many people living in his Citadel have survived the years after the Apocalypse… and he’s also the reason that their society cannot grow or change.

More than likely I’ll pick up Fury Road on Blue-Ray just for the visuals, especially the scene with the giant storm near the beginning or to freeze-frame one of the dozens of crazy car chase scenes.


May 23 –Wonderful Weekend!

Breakfast dates? Yes, please!

Starting off the day with a fine meal at The Blue Fox, my date and I went for a walk downtown, touring around a few places in the sunshine and the moderate crowds typical of Victoria during cruise ship season. As it turns out, she hasn’t done much ‘touristing’ around town either, so we both enjoyed just strolling along the shops, taking in the sights and stopping for a bite at a cafĂ© patio in the sun.

After lunch, we watched a few hours of Babylon 5… did I mention that it’s her favourite show of all time? Among other things, it’s shared passions like this that have really made spending time with her seem so magical and while I could enthuse on the subject for some time, I’ll just close things by saying again that our afternoon parting time arrived far too soon for either of our likings. 

It's a journey:


Days like today make me question my past relationships, in general terms, which is how you learn and grow emotionally, I believe. Matters of the heart defy logic oftentimes, but patterns can still emerge if you look for them and are honest in your conclusions. I know that I’m far more open in terms of my likes, passions and goals than I used to be, about what I want in life and how I want to share it. I’m certainly at a place far, far different from where I imagined I’d be twenty years ago, but that’s the thing: you can imagine your possible futures all you like, but once you get there, you’ll wonder how it could have ended up any other way. Hindsight can be a wonderful thing, but it’s easy to get lost in the What Ifs and the Roads Not Taken… because there are the uncertainties that may still be with you today, still shaping the life you have at this very present moment. But, if you’re very lucky, you’ll realize you're where you need to be and be thankful that it didn’t turn out differently, after all.

Right now, I’m quite, quite thankful.


May 24 –Renting Bubbles?

It’s an odd subject for a Sunday, but it popped up this week for me: housing.

Renting is all I’ve known for my adult life, having been tossed, so to speak, into a rental when my family home went the way of the dodo while I was in university. Since then, I’ve never really entertained the thought of owning a home, which seemed like a bad idea during the housing crunch of 2007 and still seems like a risky thing, even today.

Sure, many people will tell you different, especially homeowners with a lot of equity tied up in their personal real estate. I’d have agreed with most of their reasonings even twenty years ago, but not today. When market housing prices like those in Vancouver cause people to protest that even families with two solid wage-earners can’t afford a place, you know the system is flawed and needs to change. There are some interesting points in the video below, that got me thinking more than anything else, on how I need to educate myself further on the topic:


A recent article on housing affordability on Workopolis.com is notable not for the article itself, but for the comments that show a large lack of faith in the current market-driven real estate market. For many, the concept of owning a home is a bad thing, rife with risks they can do nothing about and seeing it as making money for the banks far more than providing a source of future financial stability.

That last thought really weirds me out, given my own personal experience in that area.

What to do, though? Rent forever, never exposing yourself to a market shift and loss of your nest-egg investment in the traditionally-held ‘stable platform’ of home ownership? Or scrimp, save and borrow to buy into someone else's platform of how to build your financial future?

I don’t have the answers, nor do I admit that I know enough to ask the right questions. For now, I’m a renter through and through, ‘throwing away my money’ month to month for the privilege of not worrying that if I miss a mortgage payment( or can’t afford a yearly property tax hike )that my home of years of investment value will be taken away from me.

Been there, seen that done, moved on. Happy renter here, for the time being!


It’s been a good week. Even the work stress has been manageable, in that I can just leave it all behind when I go home. I’ve been falling asleep more easily and waking up earlier, with a clear head and an optimistic mindset. If this is what it means to feel in control of your life, I’ve a feeling I’m doing things right – twenty years of trying seems to be finally paying off.