Sunday, November 28, 2010

Basil Diva Dog

I’ve been at Basil Diva Dog and Ginger Puppy’s house all week for Thanksgiving. Ginger Puppy’s fur has grown back significantly, which we’re all pretty happy about, though she can sometimes be reluctant to take the stairs.

Meanwhile, Basil Diva Dog has been doing his own weird pacing routine, and that sometimes includes refusing to take the stairs as well. There’s a couple of different explanations – old age affecting his mobility and/or memory recall – was I just in this room? I can’t remember. I’d better go through it again. And it’s quite possible he’s manipulating me into giving him the same kind of treatment he sees his younger sister getting. But joke’s on him – he’s may be bigger than Ginger Puppy, but he’s lighter, so I don’t mind carting him around all day.

We’ve gotten some rain on a few days, and tonight the wind was kicking up, which sent Basil Diva Dog into his pacing circles on the first floor. This drives me batty, because his old age also means he’s given to pee on imported rugs if I don’t keep my eye on him and The Walking Dead was about to start, so I simply picked him up, and made soothing sounds while I slowly carried him through each room to show him that yes, indeed, we’re all safe and sound, the only bad guys are the zombies on TV, and they’re not real.

So I settled down on the floor in the TV room still holding him, just to see what he’d do. Turns out he decided to take a nap, half in my lap, half in my arms. (Ginger Puppy was holding court on her own towel underneath the TV.)

He never does this. This is Basil Diva Dog we’re talking about. Mr. Aloof. Mr. You’re Only Here To Feed Me And Open The Door So I Can Go Outside. Mr. Don’t You Dare Touch Me.

There’s been a few moments in the years where he gets spooked and wants to be reassured. But those usually involve thunderstorms, fireworks, or construction equipment outside.

Tonight was just the wind, which seriously wasn’t that bad, and the zombies on the TV, which weren’t too bad either (I can’t take them seriously, they’re Slow Shuffling Zombies, not Jackrabbit Zombies. It’s the Jackrabbit Zombies that you have to be afraid of. You can easily outrun or get in a car and drive away from Slow Shuffling Zombies.)

This might be Basil Diva Dog’s final spiral, which I don’t like to think too much about. But in my experience, dogs will start doing things they normally don’t do, like a Doggie Bucket List of sorts, when they sense their time is near. Except where humans will put things on the list like cruises, or trips to Africa, dogs seem to do things like sleep in places they don’t normally sleep.

The weeks before my first dog Taffy passed away, I found her sleeping in chairs in the living room she never would jump on before (we didn’t even think she could jump on them.) “Whatcha doing in here?” I’d ask her. And she’d raise her head and just do her version of a smile, which, since she was a cocker spaniel, still looked pretty damn anxious. But I knew when she was happy. I have to think it was worth it for her. And I very much admire the scaled down version of a dog Bucket List.

I cannot imagine that sleeping in my lap and arms is on Basil Diva Dog’s list. He is the most independent and aloof dog I’ve ever met.

But damned if I didn’t move a muscle all throughout the episode, because I didn’t want to wake him up. My left leg went completely to sleep, which rendered me much like a Slow Shuffling Zombie when I tried to get up afterwards. THAT’s what’s wrong with them! They’re not zombies! Their left legs are just asleep!

No, I don’t think I’m on Basil Diva Dog’s Bucket List. But for whatever reason, he felt comfortable enough to be comforted. And everyone needs that. Even Basil Diva Dogs.

And here he is, in all his shaggy glory. He’s once again sitting in my lap, albeit briefly. Because if the choice is my lap or his crate, it’s no contest. The crate wins every time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Next Big Thing

One of the most glaring things about temping in and around the industry is your lack of access. Sure, you’ll see the emails about employee screenings, about wellness seminars, about discounts at the company store and all their affiliates, but you can’t take part in them unless you’re a full time employee with one of those ID cards. I did crash an on-lot premiere party for a studio’s release one weekend, but those opportunities are few and far between. And all things considered, I wish I had been able to see the movie more than drink at the party.

When you’re a temp, it’s like you’re a ghost. You’re there, but you don’t count. You do the work, you don’t get the perks. You’re needed, but not appreciated. Not unless they hire you full time.

Nowhere is lack of access more annoying than trying to get onto your lot to report for work every morning. The full time employees buzz through the employee lane, the security guards scan their IDs, the parking gate arm raises up and off they go. Meanwhile, you’re left in the dust trying in vain to persuade the security guard that yes, you’re trying to get to work, no, you’re not trying to blow up the lot, and no, you don’t know why there’s not a pass for you in the system.

Nine times out of ten, the security guard will try to call your boss to clear you, not understanding that nobody will pick up the phone, because the person that picks up your boss’s phone is YOU, and you are not on the other side of the parking gate arm.

There are some really annoying security guards like that out there, and someday, maybe five years from now, I will list them all. And to be fair, for every really annoying security guard, especially the one that was the bane of my existence for a month, his compatriot right across the street at the other building I landed a two week gig at was an absolute sweetheart, and would let me in without batting an eye. He told me he worked for twenty years in customer service at an insurance company, that may have a lot to do with it, heh.

But it’s about access. It’s about the lowered parking gate arm. The symbol of how you don’t count. You’re half a person. You gotta wait.

I’ve been temping for a little shy of two years now. It’s grueling and debilitating stuff, especially when your boss claims he can’t hire you because, despite the eight or nine months you put into the gig, he hasn’t interviewed enough people to be able to make a decision. And you in turn have to tell that story in every subsequent interview you go on, because they wanna know why you’ve been temping for a little shy of two years. Don’t you want a full time gig? (Yes) Aren’t you good enough to hire full time? (Not according to that loser.)

The lowered parking gate arm.

That boss will get his in time, I have no doubt. You don’t yank someone around like that without incurring massive amounts of bad karma. And there were good things about that gig – I made a lot of great friends, who helped me take advantage of what perks I could (barbeque lunches during the summer.)

But temping for a little shy of two years is grueling and debilitating stuff. Especially when you’re turning down full time offers that you absolutely know would be the wrong place for you. And the thoughts that haunt you: Aren’t you good enough to hire? (Yes) Don’t you want a full time gig? (Not here, I don’t.)

The lowered parking gate arm.

Today was orientation day of my new full time position. It’s at one of the huge media conglomerates (one with a studio lot. Heh, THAT narrows it down, doesn’t it!?), and most of the day was spent exploring all the different perks and benefits available to us. If I’m understanding things correctly, I could take Spanish classes online. For free. Learning Spanish is on my Bucket List, right after Learning To Surf, Trip To Napa Valley, and Cruising On The New Disney Cruise Ship (my Bucket List is stupidly achievable.)

Even though this job will officially end my days o’ temping, I’m a little wary of what will happen next, for a variety of reasons that I may not be fully able to talk about in a public forum (because I signed one of those I Have Read The Standards Of Business Conduct things without actually reading it yet.)

But as I was trying to talk myself through it at the lunch paid for by Human Resources, I realized that the last two full time positions I’ve had have been temp to perm positions. Meaning I knew what the job was about. Here, I’ve been hired without knowing what the job is really like. Sure, I interviewed, and sure, I saw the place, and met my fellow co-workers, but you never know. Things could go horribly awry. The pros and cons list are running equal right now. Which is better than negative, but not as good as positive.

I love this picture. I’ve used it on the blog before, but it SO perfectly encapsulates my mood when embarking on any new life change. Thanks God! But please don’t let this suck!!!!

First thing they did when I reported for orientation today was take a picture of me for my ID card. These never go well, it’s hard to take a good picture of me in natural light, much less under florescent lighting with a pixilated camera.

And when we went downstairs for lunch and to hit the studio store for the studio tour, we had to go through the security clearances. I wondered if my ID had been activated to let me in, or if I was gonna have to plead with the security guard to buzz me through. I’ve pleaded with enough security guards to know how to make my case, and the ones here are amiable folks.

But I dug out the ID card and passed it over the card reader. The red X changed to a green arrow, and the plastic turnstiles retracted to allow me through.

I have access now. I officially count now. Lead on, God, lead on.

Monday, November 15, 2010


This blog entry is 1,053 words. That would be 1,053 words that could've gone to the novel I'm writing for NaNoWriMo, but I am determined to keep up all my commitments, even if it kills me.

And we may be approaching that. The issue isn't that I'm behind on the word count, I am, but not by too much (24,932 words right now, I should be 25,005.) But for whatever reason, last week and now most of this week has me at a different evening commitment every night. Even the weekends. And that's just not cool to me. I'm going to have to start turning people down, and it seems like a ridiculous thing to do, to turn down dinner with someone just so I can putter around in the Shabby Shack, chained to my computer.

Hilariously, I have plenty of time to write at work. This newest temp gig is a cakewalk, and I can easily get to 2,000 words every day Monday through Friday because nothing more is required of me than to answer a hardly ringing phone and manage a very laid back exec's calendar. It's wonderful, blissful, even, and I appreciate it so much. I'd like to say God is looking out for me by providing me with a rough six hours of writing time every day Monday through Friday (I do have to work some.)

But then I turn into a greedy brat and want my evenings to be free as well, so I can read. It makes sense, I'm writing a novel, I want to be reading novels, just so I can continue in that mindset. I have a whole stack of them on the coffee table just waiting for me to dive in. But there's a meeting tonight, a dinner the other night, a party there, a concert tomorrow (You guys! Greg Dulli is playing at the Troubadour! Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!) and pretty soon I'm just coming home to sleep for six and half hours before waking up and getting on the hamster wheel all over again.

Ironically, we were discussing learning how to be in God's rest for the class I'm taking after church on Sundays. I took it so seriously, I ended up falling asleep during the class. Luckily, it was during the DVD portion of it, so I didn't stick out too much. I don't snore, see. It helps a lot.

But when we broke out into small groups I came clean about the snoozing and asked the group what I missed about God's rest. To me, the classic definition is ye olde Be Still And Know That I Am God. Stop what you're doing, go sit in a meadow with wildflowers and be with God. Don't even talk to Him. Hear what He has to say to you. My small group informed me that it’s not exactly about stopping what you’re doing so much as letting go of your anxiety and “rest in the peace that Jesus will take care of everything.” I didn’t have the strength to say out loud what was my immediate Crankypants reaction, which was…

“Jesus isn’t gonna write 50,000 words in 30 days.”

I knew one of the benefits of living by myself was going to be increased productivity. And this year alone, I’ve written a new draft of Polka Dotted Platypus, a new draft of Striped Tiger, a first draft of a new pilot, Red Llama, and now this book, which also needs an animal name, let’s call it Black Plaid Salamander. (also a small rewrite on a four page sketch for friends that swear they’re still gonna film it someday.)

My Ex-Roomie Jekyll once said that we all carry a certain amount of pain (whether she was talking physical or emotional is irrelevant) to the point where we don’t even notice it anymore.

I think I’ve been carrying around the feeling of being burnt out on writing, and just not noticing it, due to the wonderful productivity of it all.

Writing is a wonderful denial tool. On Sunday, Augustus and I were writing at a restaurant, trying to get the word count in for the day, and the waiter immediately pegged us as doing the NaNoWriMo thing. Excited to meet fellow participants, he then shared that he was up to 35,000 words, and in the same breath said he started two days late because he had to put his cat down on November 1st. It’s obvious that Overproductive Waiter is using the NaNoWriMo thing as a denial tool, so he doesn’t have to get to the business of grieving about his cat right away.

And I’ve been using NaNoWriMo as a denial tool, to avoid thinking or dealing with the wreck of my life. Things are shaking themselves in a certain direction that I’m not talking about, because we’re not there yet. But after sharing with a new acquaintance over dinner what this year’s been like, she pointed out that I need to take a break. That I need to breathe. That maybe I need to deal with the pain of this year.

Pain? What pain? Leaving the job pain? Disappointment pain that Pink Piggy died on the film distribution vine? Disillusionment pain that I’m this old and my life looks this way and no clear cut way to change it has occurred to me?

If I’m still standing, then the pain simply isn’t that bad. It SOUNDS bad, sure. But I can carry it. I always have.

When I’m in my Boot Camp class, and the instructors are going around and explaining the different stations, I always make it a point to do the worst station first (it’s usually sprints, or running the stairs, or planks and mountain climbers. God, I hate those), to get it out of the way. Do the thing you don’t want to, and get it out of the way.

If I don’t want to take a break from writing, if the thought of say, not writing for all of December scares me, then it’s exactly the thing I need to do. I know this.

If this theme of Not Writing is coming from more than one quarter, than it definitely sounds like God is attempting to get my attention.

Maybe I’d just write half the words I usually write? Compromise?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

What Would Be The Right Choice?

I have perhaps unwisely (but definitely unofficially) signed up for the National Novel Writing Month thing, where a group of writers that need to kick their own ass commit to writing 50,000 words in thirty days.

So far I have over 12,500, so I'm doing alright, but needless to say, between that, journaling every day, and regular life, there's little brain power left over for a proper blog entry.

Not to mention that big decisions need to be made, probably this week, that will affect my life in a drastic way (the car is fine, Mom.)

Some might say God finally decided to show up and do something. I'm not sure myself. All I'm really wanting is to make sure that I make the choice that God wants me to make.

You'd think that'd be a simple thing, wouldn't you. You'd think that'd be something that God would say, Yes, absolutely, let Me impart a full measure of My wisdom to you.

And yet, all I'm getting is a flurry of thoughts in my brain that won't settle down. Ugh.

Stay tuned.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Somebody Knows (Even If You Don't)

This is Lovable Doofus, Mr. Agatha’s black Lab. He’s happy here because we just got back from a walk. And he’s smiling, so you can’t see all the flecks of gray around his eyes and muzzle that indicate he’s a senior Lovable Doofus, but he’s very distinguished (in years, that is.)

Lovable Doofus’ world is very different than from when the year began. He had a constant companion in Princess Rolo, sister Agatha’s dog. He would bark a lot more, be underfoot a lot more, be crazy a lot more.

Now, ten months later, it’s just him and it’s a lot quieter. I always wonder what that’s like, in the world of a dog, how they process that information. When we had two cocker spaniels at home, one of them allegedly went deaf, and I wondered how that one communicated to the other one: Dude. I can’t hear. I CAN’T HEAR. Because there didn’t seem to be any spazzing out about it.

Here is Baby Elmo, one of the small children I went trick or treating with yesterday. I tried my hardest to get a picture of him with the Elmo head that served as his candy bag, since that was so weird and wrong, but he was a squirmy one, and I barely got this shot off before he yanked off the top part of the costume. He was hot and cranky and didn’t last long on the candy train. I can only imagine what Baby Elmo thought about the whole thing. What the hell is this? Red fur? On me? WHAT IS GOING ON! IT’S HOT! I’M STICKY! GET ME OUT OF HERE! I DON’T CARE ABOUT CANDY! WHAT THE HELL IS CANDY ANYWAYS? I’M NOT EVEN TWO!

Who knows what Lovable Doofus thinks (I suspect it’s not much.) Who knows what Baby Elmo thinks. But it’s important to know that even though they only have a dim understanding of what’s going on, someone ELSE knows what’s going on, and will take care of them.

So ends the most disgustingly obvious metaphor o’ the day.