Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Counselling Results, or What Would Ganesh Do?

My employer makes short term counselling available to us, even if my employer is the cause for these sessions, and since the last two weeks have been incredible shit shows, I decided to take advantage of the resources available to me.

Because to be frank, people, I don't know how much longer I can do this. Seriously. There are days when the only thing keeping me in that chair is the fact that I have a mortgage, a car payment and responsibilities to my wife that I simply cannot chuck.

And it isn't the personalities anymore. Yes, Teeth and Yvette and Princess Anne are the kind of unthinking, close-minded, WalMart-shopping assholes that make my hair curl. Why just this week, in response to the Travis Baumgartner slayings, Princess Anne announced that she wishes capital punishment was an option in this country because it is "immoral" for us to feed, clothe, educate (or rehabilitate) people who kill other people. And no amount of discussion with her about the hypocrisy of "Killing is wrong unless performed by the State" or "Justice isn't about revenge" would sway her. Now, if Princess Anne could provide facts with her opinions, if she could point out to me that in these many cases, rehabilitation programs don't work or whatever, I could respect that. But no: she's just a frightened, uninformed arsehole with no critical analysis or wish to challenge herself beyond what she  believes to be true.

Whatever. This isn't about capital punishment, or Teeth or anyone other than me. This is about the fact that I go to bed at night and spend those hours either not sleeping or dreaming about billing. This is about the fact that when I try to talk to my supervisor about issues, my emails (the last five or six) go completely unanswered and unacknowledged. This is about the fact that I am given an impossible task to perform and none of the resources with which to do it. This is about the fact that I wasn't even given an interview for a job in dispatch because none of my supervisors want the hassle of training someone else to do my job. This is about the fact that my last paycheque came to less than $1000.00.

I mentioned that my branch of work is taking on new contracts and that I am seeing an increase in my work load. Previously, I was expected to do 50 or 60 bills a day and I was able to do it and stay on top of my other duties. Over the past month, however, my workload has doubled. Tuesdays are deadlines, and it is expected that all of the bills in my queue loaded before cut-off are to be invoiced and settled. This is so our custmers get charged and our drivers get paid. I am expected to do 100 bills a day. There are 20 bills to a page in my queue. Yesterday when I left work, I had 13 pages of bills, all for before cut-off, in my queue. I am expected to stay late on Tuesdays to get it done. Even if I had stayed another eight hours, I could not have done all that is expected of me.

I am being set up for failure (again) and I deeply resent it. I don't sleep, I make inappropriate choices around eating because I just can't be arsed to make good ones, I just want quick and easy. I ruminate, I don't go to fencing or dog agility or tae-kwan-do; I don't DO anything (except write--I manage to do a lot of that, but still...). I am moderately depressed and operating from a place of fear and doubt. I feel powerless and trapped.

And having explained all of this to the counselor this morning, she agreed that it is dragging me down. She asked me if I have a hero that I look up to whose example I could use as a guide until I can effect my exit.

"Joan of Arc?" I said, but somehow, leading a righteous army and calling down the wrath of God upon my enemies wasn't what the counselor had in mind.

I figured Eleanor of Aquitaine, who would have had them all beheaded, wasn't going to satisfy her either,  so after thinking about it for a few minutes, I said that, as a Hindu, we're supposed to cultivate detachment. She seized on that like a rat on a terrier.

"Detachment! Precisely!" she said. "What would a Hindu sage do when confronted with that behaviour? But remember, detachment doesn't mean not caring."

And I can see the wisdom of her words, but I don't know if I can do it. I have tried to change the situation by complaining to my supervisors and confronting Teeth about her behaviour: their response was to promote her.  I cannot change that place. Not content to just sit and complain, I am trying to get the fuck out: I have applied for other jobs, a wonderful woman of great resources has updated my resume, and I have an appointment on Friday at a local technical college to explore options around going back to school briefly and changing my career.

But in the meantime, I just don't give a fuck. I was supposed to go back to the office after my appointment. I simply could not. I have, in the past few months, had sick weeks where there was nothing physically wrong with me: just the thought of going into that place was an impossibility. I am no longer invested in the quality of my work. The only reason I am still there is that I cannot stress the Little Hunneydoo out by simply walking away from that toxic, nasty place.

I went in seeking some short term disability, but I'm not going to get it. The counselor suggested we meet again, and I will go, but I am seriously at an end here, people. The mere thought of seven and a half hours, five days a week, sitting in front of that screen for a wage that is insulting, is virtually insurmountable.

What would Ganesh do?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Birthday Bash: Extended Play

We don't live in the most economically upward neighbourhood. I may have mentioned this before in my rants about rental properties. It's not quite inner city (that's a few kilometers south of us), but the neighbourhood is colourful enough. On the plus side, it is culturally vibrant with festivals happening all through the year, dozens of mom and pop groceries and restaurants as ethnically diverse as Colombian, Ethiopian, East African, Indian, Chinese, Caribbean, Portuguese and more. Of all the neighbourhoods I've lived in in this city, I like this one the best.

Certainly, we are never short on entertainment. The community centre where Bubba and I had our birthday party on Friday night is right on the Avenue. As we sat around singing, talking, eating and drinking, we watched a john pick up a hooker, a drug deal, and gangs of crack-addicted youths troop past on their way to wherever they go to score. Not exactly a typical suburban experience, but no shots were fired and the local constabulary maintain a very vusible presence on the Ave., so it was all good. It's colourful without being particularly dangerous: I have, for example, never felt afraid to walk in my neighbourhood after dark.

Anyway, the bash was a great success. The karaoke was a much bigger hit than I was expecting (I, for one, never sing publically, but did that night, oh boy), and the company was delightful as always. The entertainment inside the community centre was just as compelling as that without, but without all the illegality and exploitation. Thanks to everyone who brought their talent, enthusiasm, humour and best wishes.

And the Scotch. Don't forget the Scotch.

It was also a pleasure to meet some of Bubba and Nuwayrah's friends: I don't remember all of their names as I was well into my cups, but Jody and her husband were very lovely, and it is always a great joy to see Sarah, Shahenda, and RedSauce. By the way, RedSauce, I'll bet you can rock Adele big time!

I do, however, have ONE criticism of an event that occurred that night: Bubba, if you read this, I want you to know this is in no way a criticism of you. If I wake up one morning and find poo on my doorstep, I will know I have done this wrong. I feel really badly for you that your buddy decided to drink too much and start swinging his fists around in your direction. It was selfish, childish and completely unnecessary (and kinda stupid: I mean, dude, you ARE the Mammoth Behemoth!). I deeply resented the drama, and I hope Buddy felt really shitty the next day. He owes you a huge apology and I hope you get it. Someone needs to grow the fuck up.

Hats off to Nuwayrah who had the unenviable task of babysitting. You don't get paid enough, girlfriend. Let's all have sushi soon.

One of the highlights of the evening, though, was that Nuwayrah and the Little Hunneydoo and several members of her bellydance class gave us a sneak preview of what I can expect to see at the L.Hdoo's dance recital next weekend. It was AWESOME!!! Anyone local who wants to see some kickass bellydance and munch on some Middle Eastern nibblies next Sunday should contact The School of Raq for tickets! L. Hdoo is in four different numbers, so you KNOW it's gonna raq the casbah!

But now my rock garden needs weeding, so I'm off to be all domestic and shit.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Birthday In Brief

It was my birthday this week. I celebrated by taking Friday as a holiday, an act I am certain I will pay for on Monday morning when the work is piled on my desk in dishearteningy large heaps.

In the evening, there was a bang up party at our local community centre. I share my birthday with our friend, Bubba, so we made it a combined event, inviting our respective friends, renting a karaoke machine, ordering a keg...well, Bubba and his lovely partner, Nuwayrah, did all that. I just showed up, drank beer with Clamato juice and sang karaoke until three o'clock in the morning when my voice finally crapped out.

One of Bubba's friends brought his little boy along. At first, I was dismayed to find a child in our midst at what was supposed to be an adult party. But the little guy--about eight or nine--was behaved so beautifully that in short order, I didn't mind him being there at all. He was pretty cute and amused himself by chasing my dogs around the building. I appreciated this, as a tired dog is a good dog.

Anyway, at one point, he joined the Little Hunneydoo and I sitting on the couch in the main room, where the karaoke was about to kick off to Bucks Fizz's "You're A Crazy Bitch (But You Fuck So Good)". The little boy looked at us and said, "Are you guys sisters?"

And I said,

"We are close.
"We are nice.

"Some people think that we're just friends,
"But actually, we're lesbians."

He nodded like he understood, but he didn't, and a few minutes later, he left the building and ran up the street, because kids are random like that.

I was just thrilled to have the opportunity to use the rhyme in conversation.

Tomorrow, I'll try to give a better description of the whole night.

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: A Movie Review

When I saw the cast for this film, I thought, "Oh, this is just too good to be true: Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith? Together? Again? Like in A Room With View? It seems too good to be true."

And I can reassure you, this film is very, very good. The writing is excellent: compassionate without descending into sentimentality, showcasing a variety of personalities without caricature, in turns witty, insightful and elegant. Each of the performances are honestly and genuinely delivered: as with real, fully-realized people, the viewer likes some more than others, but they each stand out as individuals and not personas.

It is filmed beautifully also: India emerges as a tumult of noise and colour and furious life as well as a sacred and silent place. The only aspect missing is the smell.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a story of seven British seniors who, for various personal reasons, leave Britain to take up residence in a hotel catering to "the elderly and the beautiful." They arrive to find the establishment, like themselves, a little ragged at the edges and not as pristine as advertised. Time and the elements have taken their toll on everyone, but each of the characters finds, if not what they were looking for, at least what they need. They, and the hotel, find new life and purpose.

It is a gentle and optimistic film. The sedate story-line (i.e. no guns or explosions) may fail to connect with a younger audience, but one leaves the theatre feeling as if one just experienced something authentic. I don't know about you, but I don't ever see guns and I'd flip if anything exploded nearby. On the other hand, I struggle constantly with a growing awareness of the finite time I have left on this earth and what "living" really means.

The only criticisms I have of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are very minor. For one, I felt that Maggie Smith's character, revealed in the early part of the film as a racist, managed to overcome her long held prejudices rather easily. In my experience, it takes a long time to get past that, and the older one is, the more resistant one is to change. That's not to say it can't happen, though.

The other criticism I had was one I also had of The Help, a film whose subtitle might have been "Aren't White People Great?" Early on in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, one of the characters breathlessly reads in the brochure that the hotel offers an experience of the elegance and propserity of the Raj.

"Is that good?" another character asks.

Well, it certainly was a wonderful time for the British in India: it was a less delightful time for the Indians. And this film, told from the perspective of the British seniors, perpetuates the sterotype of the hapless, disorganized but good-hearted Indian (the hotel's proprietor) who only needs the guidance of the sage, civilized British to succeed. It is mildly patronizing, but given that the story is told with insight and humour, it is a minor criticism indeed.

See it. At best, you'll want to examine what you want to do with the time that remains to you. At the very least, you'll crave a curry afterwards!

Friday, 1 June 2012

I Smell the Smelly Smell of Something That Smells

Switching back to work again, people, although it's really just variations on a theme at this point. Nothing new or fresh, just my on-going fascination and stupefaction at people's attention needs and the lengths to which they will go to meet them.

We have blissfully been spared the annoying presence of Teeth partially (get it? Teeth=partial? Yeah?), as on Thursday morning, she bundled her child off to stay with her aunt while Teeth is meeting someone (probably a driver) in Saskatchewan for a hook up. She was not exactly explicit about this being a fuckcation, but she didn't bother denying it when I wished her a good time on her weekend of depravity. Although, come to think of it, she may have been thrown off by the complexity of the word "depravity". I maybe should have just said, "Have good fucking" and stuck with that.

Anyway, there's a burr under every saddle, and this week, it's been Eeyore. You may recall that last week, she bolted from the office when she smelled some kind of solvent and took the rest of the week off as a result. (And by the way, have I mentioned that Eeyore smokes? How can someone that sensitive to smells smoke and still survive?) Now, to be fair, unlike Yvette, Eeyore takes her computer with her and works from home. It's when she comes back to the office that the circus begins.

The office was painted last weekend, on Friday night. And it wasn't the whole place, just the ladies washroom and a couple of the manager's offices. Eeyore, learning of this in advance, took her computer home and didn't return until Wednesday morning. And I can tell you that there was no smell of paint on Monday when I got to work.

But perhaps I am just insensitive (!!!say it aint so!!!), because when Eeyore walked in the door on Wednesday, she paused at the reception desk, and, as Princess Anne looked on in disbelief, sniffed the air tentatively. She then continued to her desk.

Alas, Eeyore's return to work was premature, because she spent the rest of the day snivelling and sighing extravagantly. On Thursday, she shuffled into the staff room where Jacques and I were discussing the relative merits of bagels.

"'Ow are you?" he asked her.

"Crappy, thanks for asking," she replied and returned to her desk.

Jacques looked at me and said, "I tell you, being married to a woman like dat..." and he held his fingers to his temple in imitation of a pistol and pulled the trigger.

But he should try sitting in her pod. At one point, Eeyore was sitting with her head in her hands, her hair cascading over her face. When asked if she was alright, her dramatic response was, "My entire body is shutting down."

Insert rolling of eyes here. Bitch, please. You are overstating the case. For you to claim that your body is shutting down is akin to me finding bacon stips in my underpants and telling everyone that I shat the house. Seriously: exaggeration is for comedians and caricaturists: anyone else is a drama queen.

Anyway, I'm starting to think that Eeyore is a hypochondriac, because today at my desk, she got Princess Anne to feel her forehead.

"Are you feverish?" I asked.

She nodded.

"Well, maybe you should go home," said Princess Anne. "Technically, if you're feverish, you're contagious."

"No," said Eeyore, gloomily. "I have an infection."

And then she intimated that the infection is in her hoohaw.

Head/desk. Repeat as necessary.