Friday, January 27, 2006

Professional Bitch -- Amateur Mystic

I know I've been extremely low on the radar, Loyal Readership, but with everything that's been going on, I've been lucky to get to read my email and make some food before falling into bed to read and sleep and start over.

But that's not what I came to talk about, s'much...came to talk about my new job description, the one I'm considering printing on my business card -- my newly acquired status: Professional Bitch.

Now that the evil weight of inbound sales has lifted itself ponderously out of my life, like Caligula slinking out of the vomitorium, I've been able to pinpoint the Thing That Made It So Awful, the thing that my new job actively discourages: obsequious ass-kissing.

If people don't like the folks on the phone at the Former Network, they can always just hang up and dial the folks at one of their other competitor-clones with three-letter acronyms to purchase their crappy piece of exercise equipment, antiaging snake oil, or crappy cubic zirconium. But, short of FDCPA violations, there's absolutely nothing the people we talk to can do, short of hang up with full knowledge that we'll call them again the next day. They can't demand that their accounts be given to another credit agency; the consumer choice comes from the doctor's offices and radiology clinics and all the people we bill for. Furthermore, anything they say against us is automatically suspect, because of course they hate us; duh, we're bill collectors. Professional politeness is good; allowing oneself to be condescended to by idiots isn't allowed.

My supervisor walked by the other day, which happened to be my second on the phones, and said, "You have such a sweet little voice." (Keep in mind that we are in the South, where any adjective such as "sweet", "cute", or "precious" is grammatically incorrect without its preceding "little".) She followed it up with a laugh, observing "It'll be gone in about two weeks."

I don't know if she's entirely correct -- the polite-but-firm, unruffled-by-client-consternation approach isn't doing me so bad on small-balance accounts, at least. This could totally work out. I spend my time between calls doing malas and eavesdropping on the two hilarious guys who are primarily assigned accounts from criminal court. I don't even have a special code to punch in before I deign to take a piss.

I have my own desk, which came complete with its own bell. People ding them frantically to announce closure on large accounts. The jade Buddha from the desk altar at the house has made it to the desk, and his grin and my grin are beginning to come from the same source of joy, instead of the desire to have the proper Phone Voice. No more forcing my face into a feral rictus of pretend friendliness just to make people think I don't hate them. It makes my real smile real.

I'm so much less pissed off and generally disgruntled at the end of the day. Exhausted, yes -- besides the NewJob, I have three tutoring sessions a week and still watch the SCBLitW's kids on the weekend. I haven't had a day off in God knows how long -- counting back, at least nine or ten days. Don't have one scheduled until Saturday week, and even then I'm herding between four and ten folks to the Dao ceremony.

Oh yeah! That!

Since I had the Big Conversation with the Wise and Increasingly Omniscient Tish, the universal unfolding has been conspiring to increase my confidence in my magic and my abilities, and my conception of myself as a competent leader.

So I come home from PBing, and I have voice mail, and it's the Dian Chuan Shr of the Huntsville temple, the one who initiated me, calling to let me know the date of the next ceremony and asking me to call her. She had remembered that I had a group, you see, and that I might be bringing several people.

I am a girl who gets voice mail from holy women. I know she probably does that with lots of people, not just myself; my happiness over that fact has nothing to do with ego. It's just that I think I may be in the process of becoming the person I wanted to be when I set out on this leg of my spiritual journey. I pray regularly and openly now. I'm doing disciplines with tehellim, with japa mala, with lots of different things. My shrines are happy and well cared for.

I'm floating in the River Why, to wax metaphoric (and the book The River Why is awesome and you must go and buy it right now along with Life of Pi) and I'm enjoying the ride. Om namah Shivayah. I've even started to cover my dreads completely every day but Friday (for reasons that defy any explanation I could give at the present), which is like a Discordian hijab and weird-but-neat. I can feel the shakti that stores up in them when they're covered. I know now why a very wise and holy woman once whispered in my ear, "Never cut those, girl; they your power", repeating it to be sure I got the message.

So all is well here, just busy. As I get into the swing, you'll hear more about it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Peekaboo, Internet Style

I have Sitemeter because, like most normal human beings, I have a measure of vanity about my projects. But I'm also fascinated by the places the Internet takes people. For instance, just recently (as in, within approximately the past 72 hours):

Some people came here who linked through Hissyfit's review of the Oscars from last year, which I complimented in the comments section. You should have stayed longer, fellow Hissyfitters.

Someone came through a blog I've never read, really, but whose post on free speech I commented on because I happened to be looking for info on the ugly-ass Nathan Bedford Forrest statue that someone erected out on I-65 (link will show you a pic, if you like hideous and in terrible taste). You also should have stayed, random person from the Bureau of Land Management!

Someone was looking up graywash tattoos on MSN. Thanks for looking at the pics! Someone else was looking up my tattoo guy on Yahoo, came into this post, and I think also checked the pics, based on the amount of time and page views. I've gotten used to the Thor's hammer tattoo searches from time to time.

Why anyone would want to know what MSN has to say on the subject of hold music, I have no idea, but they were from Riot Grrl Headquarters, aka Olympia, Washington, so they get a pass on not staying. (Actually there were two such searches. Weirdos.)

Someone else wanted to find a kitty sensei on Technorati, and found, but did not read, this post. Hello, Malaysia!

Vapo-rub for infants? No help here.

Someone also searched blogger for "PUF Part 1", but I have a feeling that was one of the Loyal Readership.

A proto-Heinleinite on Yahoo wanted to know more about pantheistic solipsism and checked out these two posts. Thou art God; that which groks! Come back and see us sometime. Someone else on Yahoo wanted to know about (presumably) the song Who the F... Is Alice?, but got this post instead. Oddly, it was the first item in the search.

An MSN search on "pre to post modern" yielded my blog because I went to that store recently, but it won't tell me which post and I'm too tired to look it up.

Some were from sources closer to home.... my Myspace profile, Irina's blog, the links that come up in my email signatures, and a couple of people searched me up through Blogger itself. Not to mention all the "unknowns." Sorry I haven't been posting as much; going to work on that as much as I can. Hope y'all found what you were looking for, even if it wasn't here!

The News Is Now

Don't get the upgrade for Windows Media Player. It's trying to play President Clinton's most famous speech ("I did not have...") right now and it sounds like a stripped DJ Irene track. The "American people" parts are hilarious, but I'd prefer to not have every song in my list beatboxed, you Microsoft-produced mofo.

I pretty much just realized how long it had been since I have posted. A lot has happened since then, so I'll go as chronologically as possible:

1.) I got new roommates. It's still a very tentative situation, but thus far all things are going well. They're sitting behind the tapestry that screens off their futon, playing video games, and if it weren't for Media Player's sudden transformation into a cut-rate Moby remix, I wouldn't even know they were here.

2.) I got seriously rededicated, spiritually speaking. I received the Dao from Fung Dien Chuan Shur, to whom I was introduced by my friend Emma V. I moved, cleaned, and rededicated every altar in the house. I made a new, all-Hindu altar, at which we threw the first puja last night, which was pretty awesome. And, since I had my court thing coming up, the no-atheists-in-foxholes principle (which, alas, my friend in Iraq has now proven wrong, wrong, wrong) kicked in too. It's the New Year (still no highlights, I'm busier than a one-armed paperhanger up in here) and I'm usually better after solstice, but I can't say this level of spiritual activity is my norm. I went to temple last Sunday and sponsored the archana (I think that was it, but the piece of paper with the word written on it is currently under several pounds of clean laundry,, which is a very inexpensive donation to the cost of running the temple and having the pujas (here's a hint: it cost me $40 just to throw the one for six folks that I gave at my house, and they have an image at least six feet tall of Lord Ganesha who gets garlanded with fresh flowers, bathed in milk, orange juice, yogurt and honey, none of which we can do to my deities because they're not made for it) that gets you extra prasad (a bag of food and flower offerings to put on your home shrine) and a specific blessing for yourself and anyone else who needs it. Besides that, I gave thanks to all the deities and to Kshipra and Heramba Ganapatis, the two forms of Ganesh to whom I've been doing specific japa malas (sets of prayers done on beads called malas, about twice as many as a standard rosary, Catholic-style), who I think helped heal GoddessA's bunny and make #3 happen too, and perhaps even #4. I wrote an awesome spell (I almost never write spells, but this one was cool) using the Hebrew angels that SFGod looked up for me, including the angels for the day of the week the hearing was originally scheduled and my zodiacal sign, not to mention law, forgetfulness (for the cop), hope/penance, and a bunch more I can't even recall off the top of my head, plus all the names of G-d that correlate with the Psalms related to favorable judgements in court cases (viz. the 6th & 7th Books of Moses And Magical Uses of the Psalms.) It was wicked awesome and I copied it into my Book for posterity (we of the social sciences know how to do our research). When I randomly ended up at Goddess A's yesterday under the mistaken impression that SFGod was going to be there and drive me home after I dropped off the coffee table and showed him the finished spell, and decided to walk home when they didn't show back up, they speculated for a moment or two as to the identity of the dreadlocked back walking down their road, before driving past me, carrying my Rainbow Brite bag and holding that (lit) candle, and picking me up and driving me home, laughing hysterically. It was fun, in a weird way, and better than walking the rest of the mile.

It says something not terribly nice about me that it's partially taken the threat of probation to get me going, spiritually speaking, but at the same time...I'm going. And out of it, by my belief system at least, have come the next two big Important Things from my brief hiatus.

3.) I got a new job. No more hold music for me...well, actually, yes. But no more selling cubic zirconia, no more looking up gram weights of gold, no more home shoppers, and no more sales. I've decided to really debase myself and become a bill collector.Yeah, yeah. But the company is pretty reputable, the pay is right, the environment is hella better, and the money potential if I get good at it looks verra verra nice indeed. Also, it gets something medical-related into my resume, which, since I've heard medical billing pays the bank, would be nice in terms of the future if this doesn't work out. Only one wrinkle....

4.) My court date got continued again. I found this out at 5 pm today on the same week I am supposed to be starting a new job at which I will not have accrued any off time for a while. The worst part, short-term anyway, is that I won't even be able to speak to my attorney about the continuance date until tomorrow morning because of how late this fell through.

Now, there are two ways for me to look at this: the goddammit way, which was my first reaction, because I really, really want this job and don't want to start out being mentally identified as "the girl who always has a problem" by my new boss, and arrgh, and gah, and paranoid and ohmigod. But I talked to my dad, and then to the new bosslady, who appears to be entirely sane, and they both said it's no problem, the latter adding that all she needed was a letter from my attorney for my file informing her of the new date, like turning in a doctor's note.

Then there's the way, in the light of all the recent spiritual praxis, I ought to be looking at things, which is that I've done, and had done for me, a lot of work with two main objectives: generally getting me cleared of charges, and specifically getting the cop to forget or otherwise miss the court date to get the case thrown out. Obviously the Big Kahuna(e) wouldn't have caused this to happen so quickly and unexpectedly if it weren't what had to happen to accomplish the objectives. When I took a sec to think about it, I realized that even a short continuance will make six months since the original arrest. The cop is going to forget, or just say fuck it. So let it be written, and stuff.

5.) To obey the law of Fives, I will add a fifth: I donated my second gallon of blood for the American Red Cross. Actually, I finished it back in May of last year (five of oh-five), but it took me over five months to find out about it. Unless my recurring winter-induced sinus infection comes back, I'll be doing a phaeresis next Tuesday afternoon. Only five percent of eligible donors choose to give blood, so unless needles make you faint, you should think about it. They'll give you a t-shirt, and after a gallon you get a neat pin and a sticker to put on your car telling everyone you donated eight pints of blood and saved at least twenty-four lives. (Plus, putting "blood donor" under your community service/awards and honors part of your resume makes you look like a badass to those who don't donate because they have needle fear. Or like a sucker for punishment, which some people look for in their employees.) And if you can take the time and do platelets or plasma, the need for those is even greater. (Two needles, though, and it takes anywhere from an hour to two hours from the time you walk in until you leave, but you get your red cells back so you don't even get faint afterwards, and they'll let you watch TV or a movie if you bring one.) Please donate blood. If you know your tattoo artist or piercer uses clean needles, just lie about the question; they'll test your blood anyway. Thanks for listening to this Public Service Announcement, which was sponsored by Parce's veins; now back to your regularly scheduled post.

So, other than being a bit nervous about all the changes (from what I remember of the stress test, I'm getting fairly dangerously high on the stressors list) and uncertainties in my life, I'm actually doing fairly well. There's a large orange cat in my lap, my house is cleaner than it's been in months, I have pretty shrines and I even managed to get almost all of my books on shelves. In some form of order, if that can be believed, although that "order" is relative, still requires some fine-tuning and probably means trying to jam one more large bookcase into this somewhat crowded apartment to replace two of the small ones and still make room for the books stacked sideways on shelves, nestled in plastic Rubbermaid boxes and languishing in cabinets to have shelves of their very own. But, if you had ever seen my library (GoddessA can attest to its sprawling nature), and can be troubled to take into consideration that I live in an 800-square foot apartment with three people and three cats, you'd be almost as impressed as I am with that achievement.

I also went and had a lovely time with my mother this afternoon before the drama, and, after I introduced her to Baja Burrito, one of my favorite places in all the world to eat tacos, we took a little trip to the fabric store, where she bought me (at her own insistence -- I had my debit card halfway out of my bag before she said something) two and a bit yards of some gorgeous, heavy corduroy that I'm going to use to make a neat stripy pillow (I think -- I haven't cut it, just looked at its bounty, because I think I'm too stressed out to start a sewing project, what with the need for precision and my current, distracted state of mind), as well as some thread and a zipper to replace the one that's broken on one of my nicer pairs of pants. I found some much better fabric for the pair of Chinese restaurant chairs I've been meaning to put seats on and recover for four goddamn years, although since its price made me want to gag and I didn't know exactly how much I needed yet, I did not give in and buy it. I've made the bottoms for the chairs. which I got for ten bucks for the pair back in the day, out of heavy pressboard, but the odd shape of the seats means I have to go get the chair foam crap from Home Depot, which is never on my list of places to visit under any normal circumstances. But now I will probably get off my ass and buy both the filler and some of the expensive-but-oh-so-pretty fabric, as those chairs would look awesome with the table that is now by the front door, and I wouldn't need so much fabric that I'd have to hock my firstborn to afford it. Also, I got a much-belated Christmas card (for her, I'll skip using Xkzule) from my Grandma Parce, who is precious, and then called her with the no-longer-broken phone and had a nice conversation. I didn't realize she was pushing 81; I need to go see her soon.

There are a few householdy things I had ought to be doing, but since my life has been, yet again, thrown into disarray, and since they are totally minor in nature, I think I'm going to sit and read my copy of Stephen King's Black House, which I thought had been gone for over a year and I am really, really happy to get back. I knew there had to be a reason I never wanted to spend the money on another hardbound copy, even when I found it cheap a time or two. See #4.....there is a reason for everything. It's just not always evident.

If I keep telling myself that, maybe the butterflies in my stomach will go away.

confidential to FNR: reading this, you dirty fucker? Hurt my beloved sister in law, and I will beat you to death with an Oxford Study Bible. Complete with the Apocrypha. The five-oh are onto you and you are going down. Enjoy your new roommate, Big Gay Ray!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Getting Clean

Happy New Year, Loyal Readership! I assume that, by now, all of you have achieved some state of sobriety, and am looking forward to reading all your own blog entries about your debauchery.

However, because I am lazy (well, sort of -- you'll see why I qualify that in a minute), I am just going to copy almost word-for-word the capsule review of my Amateur Night experience that I left in the comments to this post, as what I wrote there pretty much covers it:

I made it from the first party I went to (where I only had half a glass of dry champagne, because the Parce is not all about the DUI) to the second while avoiding all three DUI checkpoints, made it to CDHSarah's party in plenty of time to get ridiculously drunk (what my homies from the other side of the river would call "drizz-nunk") before the midnight hour, did not vomit or otherwise make a fool of myself*, only took off my shirt once (and that was for the "everybody take their shirt off and dance" portion of the evening), had a very nice conversation with the Artist (which was most unexpected), got a few very nice kisses from a pretty girl (basically straight, alas, but kisses were really all I wanted), got a bunch more kisses from pretty much everyone at the party as well, saw a bunch of the homies I haven't seen in a while, dealt with the night's only incident of drama in what I thought was a remarkably competent and mature fashion for someone in the state of drunkeness I was in, woke up hangover-free (albeit at 7 in the evening) and even got to work on time on New Year's Day, which is more than can be said for most people, I think. And after work, I even made it downtown just in time to eat at Big River Grille, my absolute favorite restaurant (where I now, apparently, get 25% off as a Cafe O2 employee), which meant that my first real meal of the New Year was my absolute favorite thing of all to put in my belly. Also, I booty-danced with a stuffed snowman, which was new and exciting. All in all, a good start to what I hope will be an excellent year.

Another thing that bodes an excellent start is the fact that Sars apparently found my GBC CD review on her own recognizance, and told me it "made her smile". And that I scored the very last size M girlie Saucy shirt, as well as a GBC shirt of my very own, which means I no longer have to feel inferior to my ET.

Right now I'm having a faux-Jewish post-Chanukah party by myself while I wait to see if I'm having company later and for my filet to defrost. In case you're interested, a FJP-CP consists of a semi-latke (leftover mashed potatoes fried with garlic salt, which is more yummy than it sounds) and the bags of Chanukah gelt I got for 25 cents a pop at the post-holiday sale at CVS. (If they still have any when I go back tomorrow, I'm going to buy it all; I'm not a huge candy or chocolate person, but I lurrrrve gelt for some weird reason. As does Ganesh, which makes it a handy type of prasad to keep around.)

But you may be wondering about the title, and about why I bothered to qualify my description of myself as a lazy ass.

As I mentioned before, one householdy project tends to spawn fifty million more. The kitchen of the Parcepartment had gotten out of control, y'all -- so much so that I hesitated to put any food in the fridge or freezer, because of the extreme scariness. (To give you some idea, before resolving to clean it, I did the Clarice Starling/C.S.I. trick of smearing Vick's Vapo-Rub all over my nose, mouth and philtrum to cut the funk.) Also, at some point in the past few days, one of the cats (Eldest, I'm looking at you) decided to kick over the litterbox in a fit of pique, thus causing the kitten to decide today that her proper potty was the place on the floor where the spillage had occurred. Since that's simply disgusting, I have now:
*mopped and swept the kitchen floor three times (and will give it a final swipe with no-wax cleaner here in a bit)
*prewashed and dishwashed all the dishes-formerly-containing-scariness from the aforementioned fridge
*cleaned the sink at least twice
*soaked the mop used to clean the floor in bleach
*scrubbed every inch of the fridge in bleach, including pulling out the drawers and bleaching/washing them in the sink

And, just for something to do while I was in my funky using-bleach-products clothes, I deep-cleaned the toilet while one of the mop jobs was drying. I'm leaving the bathroom sink (which has been cleaned recently, but doesn't look it because some pink powder incense got spilt in there and simply will not begone) and freezer-defrosting for another night, because as soon as I have put all this bread and potatoes in my belly, there are a large bottle of Canadian Mist whiskey and a bottle of Purity lemonade calling my name in dulcet tones. I'm about to find out if you can sort your own books satisfactorily while sloshed. It's for science, y'all.**
But for now, CDHSarah is headed down my stairs and I must go. Shalom!

*relatively speaking...come on, it was New Year's Eve, people. You have to grade on a curve, here.
** I just realized that my first post of the New Year was mostly about cleaning my apartment. I need to get laid.