2012 in review

  • Dec. 31st, 2012 at 8:44 AM
notemily: (hunger games - the mockingjay)
Well, I know I haven't made a LiveJournal post since (*checks*) July, but today is December 31st, and to let the year end without a year-in-review post on LJ just feels wrong. So, without further ado:

Media things

Best book of 2012: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. Hands down. Granted I didn't read many books this year that were actually released this year, but this book speaks to me on a level few others match, to the extent that my therapist suggested using it in our sessions. It also gave me a completely new appreciation for Fire, which I had previously been meh about.
Best book of 2012 not written in 2012: The only other new read I gave five stars to this year was Poison Study by Maria Snyder. It's pretty amazing, but my enthusiasm for it has been dampened by how disappointing the sequels, especially the "Glass" series, were. The world had so much promise, and the subsequent books rarely lived up to that potential, and sometimes had really unfortunate implications. So if you're going to read the book, do yourself a favor and stop there.
Authors of the year: I read 14 books by Tamora Pierce this year and 12 by Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant. They both have series(...es?) that are extremely addictive, and though they write for different age groups, I recommend their books to all fantasy fans who like kickass female heroines. My favorites: Squire and Emperor Mage by Pierce, and the heart-wrenching short story In Sea-Salt Tears by McGuire. And yes, those are all later books/stories that you have to read the earlier books in the series to get to. Muahahahaha.
Chapter of the year: Chapter 26 of Feed. LIFE-DESTROYING.

Also: This year I finally finished my Goodreads Challenge of reading 50 books! I think next year I'll up it to 75. I would like to thank the awesome women who write addicting fantasy series for this achievement.

Musical artists listened to most: According to last.fm, they were Fun., the New Pornographers, Florence + the Machine, Tegan and Sara, and Neko Case. This year was the year I really got into Tegan and Sara, who are amazing.
Favorite songs of 2012:
- Look, I really like "Gangnam Style". It's fun and dancey and strangely subversive once you research the lyrics. Plus, PSY just looks like he's having so much fun. Video: Eeeeeey, sexy lady!
- My love for it has faded a bit due to overexposure, but I can't not mention "Some Nights". The fact that a song I loved this much got so popular warms my heart. You mean regular people really like harmonies and power-pop and Nate Ruess's voice? ME TOO! Let's be friends! Video: This is it boys, this is war.
- "Ho Hey" by the Lumineers is a sweet, simple love song that makes me smile. "I don't know where I belong / I don't know where I went wrong / but I can write a song." Yep, sounds about right. Video: I'd be standing on Canal and Bowery.
- This didn't come out this year, but I discovered it only recently: "Settle Down" by Kimbra. I have Alan to thank for introducing me to this gorgeous song that's more than a little bit unsettling. Video: On just one knee for now.
- Honorable mentions: Of Monsters and Men - "Little Talks", Imagine Dragons - "It's Time", Gotye - "Somebody That I Used to Know", Taylor Swift - "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" (Like... ever.), Jay-Z & Kanye West - "N***as in Paris"
- Guilty pleasure: Maroon 5. Yeah, I know. I can't help it if One More Night is catchy as hell.

Best movie seen in theaters: Come on, did anyone really think I was going to award this to something other than The Hobbit? It's not the best movie ever made (or even the best Middle-earth movie ever made), but I just want to love it and squeeze it and call it George. Martin Freeeeeeman.
Movie I regret not seeing in theaters: The Hunger Games. It was amazing and so true to the book, especially visually.

Favorite TV show discovered this year: Teen Wolf. Shut up. It's one of those shows that's deceptively mainstream, but a lot of thought goes into it if you look past the hott dudes with no shirts on. Although there's that, too. Female gaze FTW.
Honorable mention: The Legend of Korra. It's no Avatar, but it tries.
Best rediscovery: Dollhouse. I never finished watching it the first time, but watching it again for Mark Watches I'm catching all sorts of nuance and awesomeness I didn't see before. Also TOPHER MY HEART.

Life stuff

Biggest life change of 2012 (positive): I got a job motherfucker. It is such a relief to be able to support myself! Working full-time is something I wasn't even sure I would be able to do, but I've been doing it for six months now and so far I'm not dead.
Biggest life change of 2012 (negative): I like my job, but I am really sad that it makes me so busy and tired that I can't foster kittens anymore. I miss my kitties so much. I haven't had one since Pippin and he was almost a year ago... but I remember how overwhelming it was even while working only 20 hours a week, and I know I'd run myself ragged if I tried to do it now. Someday, perhaps, I will be able to foster again. In the meantime, I have my own kitty and she is wonderful (and I'm sure especially happy that I'm not fostering anymore), but I miss getting to know all the different kitty personalities, and there's something special about the teeny-tiny ones. They're challenging and rewarding and when you finally earn their trust and love, it's a wonderful thing.

Speaking of tiny creatures--If it was a big year for me, it was huge for my niecelet, who turned 1 this year. I mean, she learned to walk and run and talk and do sign language! How awesome is that? Even though I only get to see her every few months, I love watching her grow up. She's not just "aww, cute baby" anymore--she's turning into a person.

I hope everyone has an awesome New Year's Eve. Happy 2013!

HAY GUYS

  • Jun. 18th, 2012 at 1:07 PM
notemily: (hunger games - the mockingjay)
Soooooo I have a job! A real job, with full-time hours and benefits and everything! I can support myself! I am no longer dependent on my parents! Yay!!

I haven't updated the eljay in forever, but I figured I should because for once I have actual news. I applied for this job last October, and after six months of what I assume was bureaucratic gear-grinding behind the scenes, they finally notified me that I was qualified to take the Civil Service Exam that would be the next step to getting the job. So I took the standardized test in March, had to wait two more months for results, went for interviews in May, and heard about the job on my birthday, June 7. Whew. I feel like years have passed in the past month. To the point that I was actually startled when I saw my niece's birthday balloon a couple of days ago, because I thought it had been much longer since her birthday than it was. (The niece is one year old now! She can walk!)

The job is with the Milwaukee Public Library, which covers all the branches within the city limits including the main branch downtown, but I'll be working at the East branch which is like a ten-minute walk from my house. Score. It's also my childhood library, where I discovered everything from the Alice books to Katherine Applegate's teen romances to Terry Pratchett. They're going to do a complete re-building of the site starting next year, and that should take about a year (by estimates, but we all know how construction projects run long), which means that for at least a year they'll have to squeeze the library into what will probably be a much smaller space. I don't know how long I'll be working there, but I'm excited to see the new building once it's done. That particular library is, IMO, long overdue for a new space.

It's going to be really strange to not work at Shorewood anymore, since I've given that library seven and a half years of my life. (Or to look at it another way, the majority of my twenties.) I only have one more week of my old job and then I start the new job. In between, Alan and Trish are coming to visit for the weekend, which OMG YAY. I haven't seen them in over a year. I'm currently working on de-allergizing the house for Alan, who is allergic to everything breathable, including, possibly, air.

And it's summertime, which is my favorite here in Milwaukee, and I'm 29 now and I don't have to feel bad about that since I can finally support myself, and once I get into the swing of the job I'm going to see about getting new kittens and saving up for travel and all the things I have been wanting to do for years and not been able to because of money. I feel like I can finally breathe a huge sigh of relief.

how will i ever get out of this labyrinth?

  • Dec. 2nd, 2011 at 12:28 AM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (Default)
So I noticed something of a theme in the books that were pulled for holds at the library today.

  • Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo
  • Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live by Martha N. Beck
  • The Unmistakable Touch of Grace: How to Recognize and Respond to the Spiritual Signposts in Your Life by Cheryl Richardson
  • What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins
  • Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain: How a New Science Reveals Our Extraordinary Potential to Transform Ourselves by Sharon Begley


I don't know, I feel like... everyone is looking for answers. Everyone is trying to find the key, how to be a better person, how to live, what gives life meaning, what happens when we die. All going about it different ways--religion, spirituality, advice from those older and wiser, cognitive techniques--but ultimately asking the same questions.

(Of course, people were also searching for The Great Christmas Cookie Swap Cookbook and Blues Harmonica Method Level 1, so maybe I'm reaching here.)

But then [livejournal.com profile] cleolinda posted this entry, which as of right now has over 100 comments, about physical exhaustion and anemia and depression:

Because even when you grasp the idea that depression is an ailment and not a personal failing... it still feels like a personal failing. You know you're clinically depressed, but you feel like you're just lazy, lonely, hopeless, pathetic. Or sometimes you don't realize you're ill, because those feelings of anxiety and shame and helplessness sneak up on you and feel legitimate, and that's why you don't realize you need help. I mean, I've been on medication and under quarterly medical supervision for fourteen years now and my own mood cycles still sneak up on me, over and over. It's hard to teach yourself to say, "You are an awesome person, and your awesomeness is a default, and so if you feel less than awesome, you need to get your awesome tuned up." Because your sadness and fatigue and anxiety feel mild at first, and they seem like rational responses to things going on in your life, and then you end up missing some deadline or not completing some goal or not living up to your own expectations because you're already sad and tired, and then the negativity does seem justified: "I'm not depressed; I'm a loser."


And all the comments are saying, yes, yes, we feel that way too, we understand, thank you for saying this. Thank you for telling us that we are not alone.

Everyone is struggling, everyone is searching. Maybe now is a particularly hard time, or maybe it's just coming to the surface right now, making it a bit easier to see that we're all in this labyrinth together. Not one of us is born already knowing the way out.

not yours

  • Feb. 20th, 2011 at 4:55 PM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (dude watchin' with the brontes)
So yesterday I was at work. My employers had left out badges for us to wear that said things like "Stop the attack on Wisconsin workers," which is the one I ended up wearing, clipped to my name tag. (If you've never read my journal before, I work at a public library in Wisconsin, which is a state currently going through major turmoil because of our new governor's desire to keep public-sector workers from being able to negotiate their own benefits. Also, if you've never read my journal before, I fucking hate Scott Walker.)

The majority of the comments I got were positive ones, and Shorewood is a pretty liberal suburb (that loves its library!) so I expected as much. I got one negative comment. That in itself doesn't bother me, but the way the interaction went down did.

The man looked at my badge and leaned across the desk. "Stop the attack on Wisconsin workers? What does that mean, does that mean I'm supposed to attack you?" He then proceeded to POKE ME IN THE HAND AND ARM. Repeatedly. I jerked my arm away. After that he went into some argument about how it's better to have more jobs with no benefits than fewer jobs, but I wasn't really listening because he had just POKED ME and I was busy seething silently behind the desk.

Dear public: DON'T fucking do that. Just because the person behind the counter is supposed to be nice to you doesn't mean you can touch her whenever you want. No, not even if it's "friendly" or "a joke." It's still NOT okay. You DO NOT have the right.

Sometimes I am really grateful for that huge marble desk between me and The Public.

kittens, dogs, and "customer service"

  • Oct. 25th, 2010 at 10:36 PM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (dude watchin' with the brontes)
So, the rest of the weekend with kittens and doggy worked out well. After they had adjusted to the new surroundings, I opened the door and let them sniff the doggy through the baby-gate, and vice versa. They were very curious, and so was he, and eventually they learned that they could climb over the baby gate and actually hang out with him.

They had varying reactions to actually being near the dog. Tanner would try to get up close and sniff at them curiously, but he was kind of excited and not always too polite about it. Simon hissed at him whenever he got too close, but didn't mind being in the same room. Albus just ran away when he got nosey, and Barnaby would just be like "Um, what exactly are you trying to do here? Can you not sniff my butt?" Barnaby was the most tolerant, so of course he had to endure the most butt-sniffing, poor guy.

Eventually they explored the whole house and had a ton of fun sliding all around the hardwood floors and chasing each other across rooms way larger than the one they live in at my apartment. They were a little too interested in chewing on/knocking over the plants, and Simon of course found the cords to the kitchen blinds ENDLESSLY FASCINATING, but there were no major mishaps. I did discover that they like to scratch on wicker furniture, which would be a problem if they actually lived there for any length of time.

Honestly I think Tanner was more nervous about the whole thing than they were, in the end. He didn't know quite what to make of them. He's at least ten times their size, but at one point he actually jumped into my lap Scooby-Doo style, like "PROTECT ME FROM THESE VICIOUS FELINES!" He would also try to hide behind me, which was funny because the kittens would ALSO try to hide behind me to protect them from HIM, so it was a weird game of musical animals where I was the only chair.

By the time my parents got home, all the kitties were sitting on me while I watched TV and Tanner was on the couch next to us. I think he was still a little jealous that he couldn't sit in my lap, though.

The kittens have now happily settled back in at my apartment. I let them out to roam around for a while today, but it was upsetting Hypatia so Kate made me put them back in my room. Hypatia is so weird about them. She'll poke her head into my room, encounter a kitten, hiss at it and back out. She KNOWS they're in here, but she tries to come in anyway. I wish I could explain to her that it's just temporary, that she's still my #1 kitty, but she's in defense-mode all the time with hissing and low growls. They're obviously curious about her, but they respect her space and back off if she growls at them. I wish everyone could get along!

Simon has been throwing up today, and he doesn't seem too hungry for dinner, but then again the other two took like five bites of dinner and then went to sleep, so either they're all just sleepy and full from munching on dry food, or they're all coming down with some kind of sickness. NO MOAR SICKNESSES! I COMMAND IT!

Barnaby's eye is still runny, even though I've re-started the eye drops, which is worrying. It's a good thing he's so docile and tolerant of me putting liquid in his eyes. He doesn't like it, but he doesn't try to fight his way out of my arms.

I myself have been feeling like crap. Lots of headaches and general brain-no-worky. I know I'd feel better if I did my mindfulness practice, but for some reason once I've stopped doing it regularly, it's really hard to start again. Like flossing.

At work there was this inane survey that was supposed to teach us to be better at customer service, but it was just a bunch of those trick questions like "Is it legal for a man to marry his widow's sister?" and "If a plane crashes on the border between US and Canada, where do you bury the survivors?" (Answers, of course, are that widows have dead husbands and you don't bury survivors.) I guess it was supposed to teach us to look beyond the obvious and REALLY LISTEN to customers, but I could think of way better ways to do that than with something out of a much-forwarded email from the 90s.

I was really incensed by this; it just seemed like such Office Space corporate management pieces of flair bullshit. So I wrote down a bunch of sarcastic answers, including some that referred to internet memes ("How many birthdays does the average woman have in her lifetime?" "OVER 9000"), and some that were actually serious ("How many animals did Moses take on the Ark?" "This question assumes a Judeo-Christian upbringing and is therefore biased.") and signed it Hermione Granger. I... hope I don't get fired.

The thing is, and probably the reason why I was so angry, is that I ACTUALLY CARE about customer service. REAL customer service. Things like: Looking at my job from the library patron's perspective. Not using library jargon when talking to patrons. Working to consciously overcome my subconscious racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, anti-homeless, and other kyriarchical attitudes while talking to patrons. Thinking about how to make the library more accessible to people with disabilities. (Actually training clerks on things like how to deal with patrons who are blind and can't type in their own PIN number, to use one of many examples, would be helpful too.) Not blaming customers for bad design (if most patrons can't figure out how to use our self check-out machine, it's not because they're stupid, it's because the interface isn't very well-designed). Making the wording on signs as clear as possible. Not having rules that don't make sense or that have giant loopholes in them. Etc.

I won't claim to be the perfect library clerk by any means, but I know that customer service is NOT just about having a Positive Attitude and Making Eye Contact*, and it's certainly not about answering trick questions. So don't give me some bullshit survey and tell me it's supposed to make me better at customer service. Or I WILL go Hermione Granger on your ass. (I'm still spending most of my internet time over at Mark Reads Harry Potter. Because it is awesome.)

*Speaking of which, some training in common developmental disabilities and neuroatypicality and how those patrons' needs may be different than other patrons' needs would be nice.

AND NOW, for your amusement, Albus will attempt to eat my computer.

OM NOM NOM
[Image description: a Siamese kitten lying under the base of a laptop computer, trying to gnaw on it.]

And Simon will look pretty.


[Image description: a gray tabby kitten lying on a peach-toned blanket.]

Pictures of kittens meeting Tanner coming soon.

Apr. 5th, 2010

  • 6:44 PM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (little miss sunshine - primal scream)
We took Hypatia to her first visit with her new vet today! We had been putting off taking her back to the old vet for her rabies and distemper vaccine updates, because we didn't really like the old vet. The doctor was fine, but the clinic itself wasn't great about communicating with us when we took her to get spayed.

The new vet is the one my parents take their doggy to, and it's also much closer to our house. Miss H was kind of freaked out, especially when there were some barking noises coming from behind the door, and she wouldn't stay on the scale to be weighed so it was hard to get a reading on that. But she didn't cry out or even flinch when she got vaccinated, just shed black and white fur all over the place. The vet gave her a clean bill of health and said her new vaccines will be good for three years. She also said Hypatia has a great face. <3.

This gets me one step closer to my dream of fostering kittens, because now teh kitty is up to date on shots and certified healthy. I've been so depressed this week, though, that I'm finding myself going "They'll never approve me to foster kittens, my apartment is too small and how could I ever think I would be a good person to do that," and other defeatist messages. I have this vision of the humane society people coming here and scrutinizing my apartment with disapproving looks on their faces. And then they'll turn me down and also never give me a job there because they think I'm irresponsible.

I don't know if the depression is due to the medication change or the fact that for my birthday my parents are no longer helping support me financially so I have to find a full-time job with health benefits (that start RIGHT AWAY), like, tomorrow. I don't want it to be the meds because if it's the meds then my doc will probably put me back on the higher dose of wellbutrin which gave me heart palpitations and shortness of breath. I would rather not have to be on a med that makes me feel like I'm going to pass out. That's not one of those things like dry mouth that's annoying but tolerable. It's more... scary. I feel like I can't exert myself at all, and any little bit of anxiety triggers the not being able to breathe feeling.

(Either that or he will put me on a new med entirely and then I will have to get used to that. While job searching.)

But if it's not the meds then I'm stuck in this endless loop of, I'm super depressed, but i have to find a job, but I don't feel capable of doing that while I'm depressed, but if I don't get a job I can't afford my therapy and meds... etc.

Yay.

which in France was called "LA VITESSE!"

  • Jan. 6th, 2010 at 8:33 PM
notemily: Photo of me, a white girl in her mid-20s, wearing glasses, smiling, looking up and to the right (buffy - yay?)
Mercury Retrograde: it giveth, and it taketh away.

Actually it's more like the other way around. It taketh away something, which annoys you, but then it usually giveth you a tholution to your problem, even if it's not the one you were exthpecting. (Sorry.)

I got up this morning to find that my power adapter cord had quit for good. Apple is notoriously bad at power cords, and though the MagSafe is a huge improvement over the old iBook chargers, it still quit on me after six months of (not very gentle, I admit) use. So, I dutifully made plans to go to Die Apfelladen, as the Germans call it (they don't really), and talk to the Geniuses there.

Meanwhile, I get to work, barely on time, and then there's absolutely no parking anywhere, so I'm circling the block and the parking lot for ten minutes, sure I'm going to be fired for my latest tardiness incident. But so far, still employed! :/

(Me: I was afraid they'd fire me. Co-worker: They can't just fire you, don't they need to give you written warnings and stuff? Me: ...Yeah, I have those. Co-worker: Oh.)

At the library, there's a total Mars Retrograde incident where a guy gets all belligerent about his account being blocked from the computers. Now, usually angry patrons are still reasonable people, and they eventually go away, even if they go away annoyed. This guy would not give up. He started yelling and swearing and freaking out all the other patrons, and the director asked him to leave, and he STILL would not shut up, so she called the police on him. (The police station is next door.) He was like FINE CALL THE POLICE WHATEVER, and I guess they banned him for evar or something, because he's not allowed to come in the library anymore.

Oh, and the reason he was blocked from using the computers in the first place? A completely different library had put the block on his card because of "disorderly conduct." Heh.

Throughout all of this drama I was at the other checkout station (the one without the angry man at it), just trying to move patrons through the line as fast as possible because they were obviously uncomfortable with the dude's behavior. My boss was like "how did you stay so calm? I was freaking out!" but after the guy left, I felt all weak and shaky. I wasn't really that calm. I'm just used to hiding my anxiety from people, especially at work.

For the rest of my shift I thought about men and women and violence and how most of the people who work here are women, and it was all women behind the counter when that guy was yelling. I thought about how glad I am to have a huge granite desk between me and the patrons, but maybe that's just the illusion of safety. I thought about how there's something about a man yelling that's really scary to me. Maybe it reminds me of my dad being angry when I was a kid. In my memory, the angry patron was ten feet tall and loomed over everybody, even though that's obviously not true.

Anyway.

After work, I had a couple of hours to kill at the mall. The mall, for those of you who don't live here, is one of those outdoor malls with lots of open space between the rows of stores. This may seem like a rational thing to build. In California. Not in Wisconsin, where it's currently about 15 degrees, and the mall streets have become huge wind tunnels.

(They built it to replace an earlier, indoor mall, which apparently wasn't cold enough for somebody.)

Problem: I forgot my hat. The one from [livejournal.com profile] purpleprimate, which is actually the only warm hat I have left after I lost my super-warm pink one at Boston Store last month (single tear :'( in memoriam). So, walking through the aforementioned wind tunnels, I was Very Cold.

Solution: I went to H&M, returned a sweater I had been planning to return, and exchanged it for... a hat! Yay. It's white and fuzzy. And, most importantly, warm.

Maybe the whole outdoor-mall thing is a conspiracy to sell hats.

Then I go to the Apple Store, and wait patiently for my Genius Bar appointment. Unfortunately, nobody told me I was supposed to "check in" when I got there. I thought the appointment was enough. So they never called my name, and I waited and waited. Finally I talked to a Genius Guy and he said I should have signed in, and I was like WTF IT DOESN'T SAY THAT ANYWHERE, because it was a long day and I wanted to go home.

Genius Guy was nice to my cranky self, though, and took a look at my MagSafe, which had rust in it, indicating water damage. Mercifully, though, he replaced it for free, even though I am an obvious slob who occasionally uses her laptop as a coaster.

Nothing makes you notice how dirty your computer is like letting a Genius look at it. I gave the MacBook a good microfiber scrubbing when I got home.

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