Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Time & love march on
Or, *heavy sigh*

I so, so did not need the news I got today. But I'm not going to go into that in my 'blog. Suffice to say: Paul is indeed the kindest human being I know. I e-mailed him after his bedtime, upset and venting, figuring he'd get it in the morning; he wrote back ten minutes later to say he wished he could be more help, but he wanted me to know I am a wonderful person and although he was going to sleep, he had the phone by his bed in case I needed him. I won't wake him up. It helps just to know I'm not alone.

I already wasn't having a very good day. When I walked into work, my boss greeted me and asked me to sit down in her cubicle, and began a sentence with, "People are saying you..." Instantly I was transported back to any of several previous jobs; my boss, who is the nicest woman on the planet, could have been one of my Dragon Bosses, could have been saying, "Now, don't take this the wrong way, people are saying you are snippy, people are saying you wore shorts to work, people are saying you're always late, here's your performance improvement plan, you'll be fired if you don't meet all your goals, don't you know how people see you? Where is your professionalism?" A chill descended on me.

The chill lasted all day, even though it turned out she was just saying, "People are saying you were having trouble figuring out who to refer callers to, when they call with questions". A completely legitimate concern, and seeing as how I had asked for help with callers several times while Mary was out last week, no secret whatsoever. She just wanted to let me know to whom I should refer calls for a couple of particular questions that callers often ask. But it was the way it started that did it to me. "Have a seat. People are saying you..."

All day I kept scanning my activities to make sure that if someone were watching me (and that wouldn't be difficult in the open-concept building we work in), they would see me doing only perfectly respectable, hard work. It's a lot of mental work to continuously scan your every move; you feel like a cheat every time you take a sip of coffee or lean back to stretch. And I didn't want to go back to feeling that way: trapped and under the microscope. I hope it fades away again. I really do like this job.

It's not my co-workers' fault. It was my brain hearing the wrong thing, triggering flashbacks. Repeat to self: no one at work wishes me ill. No one at work wishes me ill. No one at work wishes me ill...

In cheerier news, I had dinner tonight at an old family favorite, the Copper Top, which is one of those Greek "everything" restaurants (like the one where Sarra & I & Chris ate out during Boar's Head in Milwaukee recently). It's next door to the miniature golf place where my dad used to take us when we were little. The food is only fair-to-middling, but the decor is soothingly pink, the waitstaff are friendly, the prices are good, and they have the cutest little ritual they go through for each table. After you sit down, they get one of those Pepsi-sponsored "specials" signs on a stand (they always have four or five made up), with an elaborate daily special menu written on it in dry erase marker, and they move it over so it's right next to your table, so you can see the specials. (I think this also alerts the waitstaff that you've been seated and will probably want to give your order soon.) It's just so accomodating of them to bring it right over where you can see it. There is something warm and fuzzy about that, what can I say?

It's the first day of my period. This is me. Expect the unexpected. Swing with the swings.


Thursday, December 23, 2004
Merry colder-than-you'd-think
Or, First post from the new computer!

Last night, in a fit of "I need to find something to do at home because there's no WAY I'm leaving this apartment in this cold", I set up my new computer. So far, not a single problem. Everything booted and registered and downloaded correctly. The LCD monitor is brighter by a couple of orders of magnitude than my old one--there was no way to see how dull and yellow it was getting, until there was something to compare it to. I even got Office pre-installed, so I can continue where I left off on some projects.

The best part: the 1 GB Sandisk flash drive I got earlier this year transferred ALL my files in a matter of seconds, with very little fiddling on my part. And it's smaller than most of my lip gloss cases. Amazon has the most incredible price on it, too. Worth every penny--and I'm going to use it for backups on the new computer.

(You'd think I was on Sandisk's payroll. I'm not. And I'm only slightly on Amazon's--just a lowly Associate, that's me.)

Work is going fine: I still adore my co-workers, and I can listen to music and to 92.1 the entire day if I want. I think I'm finally getting in the groove of interlibrary loan. I can translate college names into OCLC codes correctly about 95% of the time (UW-Platteville: GZV! UW-River Falls: WRF! Beloit College: WII! For my next trick: Public libraries and their system headquarters!), which speeds things up considerably when decoding OCLC holdings lists.

Today I got my first paycheck, which was a bit petite...small but solid. I know I should still be looking for jobs; I still don't know how long this one will go (though Mary has said I'm still there at 75% through the end of January). But pickings are still a tad slim, though the UW has come up with two new ones just this week. And I'm tired of applying for jobs. It's nice to take a rest and work a bit!

Paul and I have been dating for...wow, 13 days now. And it's going surprisingly well. I don't have the best or most extensive track record, as some know, but things are proceeding between us at a remarkably natural, yet slightly accelerated, pace. (Well, for some things. I won't go into precisely what.) He is unlike anyone I've ever met. I don't know how analytical or detailed I'll ever get about this relationship in my 'blog, both because Paul reads this (though we talk enough that it would be hard to surprise him here), and because I'm sort of a private person when it comes to guys. I'll just say: he holds me well and solidly, and I love his eyes.

My birthday was Sunday. Woo, I'm 34. Aaaaaah, it's no big deal, I was nearly 34 the day before, after all. ;) I don't feel old, but I have noticed that in weather like this (~0 degrees F) my hands start to hurt while they're cold, not just as soon as they warm up, like they used to. I have new gloves; why am I not wearing them? They're somewhere in my closet. Got to get those out.

Eithni and Iohanna convinced me to throw a birthday party. I invited all of Jararvellir and a passel of friends from elsewhere, most of whom didn't bother to write back (including my dear Laurel) even to say "happy birthday", but then, as I noted in the invitation, this was "Eliane's Inconvenient Birthday Party". I knew most people would be busy with Christmas preparations and family celebrations and finishing up homemade presents (one couple brought the pillows they were working on). But too busy to write back and say, "Sorry, can't be there, thanks, happy birthday"? Hmph.

The party was lovely. Most of the Jara Choir came, plus Ivan and Cwenthryth (she did the scroll for my Aegis, which has loons in poses from the Bayeux Tapestry) and Paul, who is such a careful and prepared guy that he even thought to ask me what extent/types of public display of affection were okay for the party. (And he helped clean up afterwards!)

People didn't stay too late, but that was all right--they ate up quite a bit of the food I bought, except for the Strange Cheese (tm). I got Saint Nectaire, which smelled interesting through the cellophane in the display at Whole Foods, but turned out to be one of those overly aggressive Camembert relatives that basically look (and smell) coated in mold. The Strange Cheese languishes in my fridge now, long after I have consumed/given away most of the rest of the leftovers. We'll see how long it takes for it to get really moldy.

I'm off tomorrow, so I'm going to sleep in, then maybe go to a movie with Mom. Next thing on the schedule for my quiet non-holiday weekend: meeting Paul's parents. They'll be in town from Pennsylvania for just a few days, and they apparently don't visit very often, so this weekend is the time to meet them if I don't want to spring for a plane ticket. (No more plane tickets! At least not until MLA! I have savings, but I'm not MADE of money!)

Paul is coming over, yay! Apparently his parents have just been tucked into bed. Not that this was a dud evening--it was actually quite peaceful--but already it's improving.

Thursday, December 09, 2004
Things are looking up
Or, Just when you think the year is a bit of a bust...

I like the job. I'm surprised how much I like the job. It irks me mildly that it's a) not a professional position and b) pays kinda not much. But it's nice to have money of any kind coming in.

Basically, I'm processing interlibrary loan requests from all over the state. There's a staff of perhaps 5 FTE's doing this, so I don't have to do all types of requests. Right now I'm doing printed monographs, which are the easiest, and using various databases to determine where they are held, and a complicated set of protocols and priority lists to determine where we will forward the request, and a bunch of tables of codes to encode what we've searched, where the item is held, who we are asking to lend it, and where it should go. (Not to us. We do this for Wisconsin's libraries, so the items get sent directly; we never see them.)

We also never see patrons. It's a little strange, but after all, I worked at R&L after grad school, so it isn't hard to get used to now. The quiet is very nice; I have been listening to CDs and to Launch while I work. To be without deadlines and interruptions, and to just plow through busy work that nonetheless does make use of my searching expertise and logic skills, is very soothing right now. Mary says I will have this job beyond Jan. 1, we just don't know how many hours, whether my duties will change, or how long. But I'm not really concerned about the uncertainty. I've lived with that for nearly a year now. There's something fun about it.

My co-workers are not all the same people I worked with in 1997, but they're all just as friendly. And despite the fact that the duck collector is no longer there (Ann retired at the beginning of this year), a Circ person named Jenny came up and delivered a duck to me on my first day, saying that she has been tasked with keeping up the tradition. My current duck is a brown flowered pottery type, round and flattish, done in earth tones, with huge blue eyes. I like her immensely and occasionally caress her brown beak affectionately.

The Choral Union concert is coming up: Brahms' Requiem, which is monumental and difficult but rewarding. It'll be this Saturday and Sunday evenings the 11th and 12th in Mills Hall in the Humanities building. Tickets are available at the Wisconsin Union Box Office (608 262-2201). If you decide to come to a concert after you read this, please let me know. I usually like to meet people in the lobby after the concert so I have someone to hug, but I won't be there unless I know you're attending.

Boar's Head was very nice this year, and also (as usual) very allergenic. (Arnbjorn says there will be a new site next year for the first time in ten years! I can't wait. I'm just now getting over the sinus infection I got after this weekend.) I taught my beginners' kumihimo class to one interested participant (grrrr grumble morning classes in faraway corners), and co-taught an intermediate level kumihimo class with Lady Brigette, Lord Dunstan's fiancee.

I wish that had gone better. She and I tried to coordinate things in advance, but she forgot to tell me that she would require everyone to wind their own bobbins--a time-consuming task, esp. with the specialized knots to attach the thread to the lead and to secure it once it's wound. Some people got the knots right away, but at least half the class was still winding at five minutes to 3 (this was an hourlong class, 2-3 pm). And we had not even gotten to the two kumihimo stitches for which I'd made handouts. Luckily the 3pm class that had our area agreed to move elsewhere, and Brigette and I stuck around until everyone had at least tried one stitch. It was nice to have both of us there to demonstrate a few different ways to do things (we had all kinds of marudais, from cardboard to paper plate to wire-frame to handheld wood boards to the lovely double-ended polished wood ones that Dunstan makes). She also has a better background in the history of kumihimo than I do. So I don't regret co-teaching. Maybe we'll just get a two-hour time slot next time, that's all.

It was a fun Court--a little stressful for me, since I hadn't had enough to eat at lunch and I was scheduled to sing at Elashava's Pelican ceremony. Court ran long (of course) and my ears were ringing slightly, but I didn't feel like I could leave to find something to eat. I did keep getting up to get drinks of water, though. As the time got closer I was doing relaxation breathing to try to level myself out a little. (Court singing is almost the only kind of singing that makes me nervous, but being so low-blood-sugary didn't help at all, either.)

Just when I thought my blood pressure was going down, they called up the Order of Brigid's Flame (the Grant-of-arms A&S Order for the new Kingdom of Northshield) and I was blindsided: they called my name. Talk about freaking me out. I barely remember going up. Bridei had to ask me to let go of her hand, "My fingers are turning purple", I was holding her hand so hard. I just got my Evergreen in May and I did not expect another GoA award. But apparently some other people had other ideas. Honestly I never expected to be a member of both the Midrealm and Northshield GoA A&S Orders.

You know what this means: I have two [lady-]ships, so now I am a Commodore. One more and I will be an Admiral like Owen was. That ASCII ship in his old e-mail signature had a 3 on the mast for a reason, and not just ASCII-artistic. Three 'ships and you're...all right, the joke is getting stale already.

Four awards in one year, from four separate sets of Royals/Baron/esses. Yeeps. I must be doing something right. To everyone who recommended me: thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

After that, my nerves were absolutely shot by the time I got up to sing "Three Words" for Elashava's processional. But the flow of the song took over, and people said they could hear me all the way in the back. Chandler did a nice job accompanying on someone's bodhran. We did an experiment where he didn't start drumming until the first verse. I think it made the first chorus sound call-like, to do it a capella, in a slightly freer rhythm.

The post-revel was even more wonderful than usual. Sivert and his family (and guitar) were in town from Michigan; he was at two or three of my first Bardic Barracks post-revels, and then moved away, but they're back in the Midrealm and they came over for the event. It was nice to hear him sing again. He does a lovely rendition of "The Banks of the Lee" to sing Missy to sleep whenever they are at a post-revel together; Missy was out of town this time, unfortunately, but he sang for the rest of us and Wren and I harmonized. Eirik from Calontir, who I remember from Owen's and my trip to Lonely Tower 12th Night in 2003, also brought his guitar and his many songs. And as Sivert was leaving, he commented that he thought the group songs sounded wonderful now, especially with all the harmony. I beamed: harmony is my particular bardic passion.

Colleen also had a lovely time chatting with Sivert's three kids (ages 2, 3, and 6, if I recall correctly). They liked her so much that they invited her to the playground with them, but she had to decline the invitation because she doesn't have any feet. If you want to make small children think hard, and then giggle loudly, ask politely if you can borrow their feet. (Of course, it helps if you're a stuffed loon.)

So, there's this guy: http://www.goldschp.net/. Ummm...well. There he is. His name is Paul. He lives in Middleton (probably six minutes from my apartment) and he's very smart and kind of cute. He's a long-term SCA guy and a herald. And he seems to like me. And I'm a little freaked out about the whole thing and so is he. And despite his last name, he's not Jewish, but I don't care.

Uh. I don't know what else to say. We are e-mailing and we are going to dinner on Friday. It's so seldom that I feel bashful in my 'blog. I mean, occasionally I [have to] practice self-censorship, but then you don't actually get to see that I cut anything out. Right now I'm sure I read like a fifth-grader who hasn't developed conversational skills yet. ("How was your day?" "Fine." "What did you do at school?" "Stuff." etc.) But I don't really have anything interesting to say about the situation, just that in general, as I mentioned, things are looking up.

2004 might finish better than it began. I mean, it would pretty much have to, but this well? Surprise, surprise.

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