500 Words Per Day

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Update on Updates

Alert the press: I turned 29 today. I tell you, the birthdays keep getting more and more low key. Also back from vacation and wondering how much of it is worth blabbering about on 500wpd.

The humidity right now rivals that of Montreal. What's really annoying is that I got that perpetual film of sweat on my boyd and I'm wearing this t-shirt that latches on to my sweaty skin like tape. I'm also sitting on a chair that has no ventilation, so I'm getting swamp ass just sitting here moving my fingers.

Well, the inspiration should strike any day now. When it does, you'll see some more words here.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Winding Down and Winding Out

Well it isn't officially over yet but I conclude my Montreal vacation tomorrow afternoon. Today has been an interesting, albeit very inactive Saturday. The rain and clouds have provided a welcome respite to the insane temperatures and humiditiy levels all through out the week. The overall wetness has also discouraged any activitiy outside of my sister's comfy apartment. I also allowed myself maybe 4 hours of sleep from the previous night, making me extremely sluggish and bored, even as I type out this post.

I should probably start some packing. It'll be quiet tonight. A late dinner with the sister followed by some beers, then it's off to bed with my ass. Tomorrow will be a last brunch in another delicious Montreal eatery before I'm Vancouver bound. Sad to be leaving this lively city but also glad to be returning home where I have access to a car, my plush bed and many exciting projects waiting for me.

A long-winded vacation recap to follow...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Outta Here


I leave for Montreal tomorrow morning, so you probably won't be hearing from me again until after the 23rd of this month. It hasn't sunken in until now, but I am very glad for this trip. As fun as the summer's been so far, it would have been dreadfully Vancouver-samey were it not for this much-needed change of scenery. Paid up the ass for my roundtrip tickets, yes, but that's what you get for proscrastinating.

What's going down in Montreal? Well, first off I'm spending some quality time with my sister, B. who I last saw during Christmas and her boyfriend, C., who I probably haven't talked to in a good year. There's also the annual film geek festival, Fantasia, which is well underway and I've already missed a few screenings of some good flicks. I'll be able to catch a good 6 - 8 films during my stay, finally!

Aside from that, there will be much strolling around, visiting the typical sightseeing hotspots, visiting nightclubs, scoping out the city's impressive array of record shops, sampling some nice restaurants and hooking up with a couple new DJ friends I've recently made.

So yes, 500WPD-heads, consider me MIA for the next week. In the meantime, I did add to my previous post about the ill-fated job I held last year, so scroll on down and check that out. Lots of rambling... you'll enjoy.

Au revoir.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Laid Off Anniversary


I was laid off from a shitty job one year ago to this day.

I'm chilling out at home and my eyes are quitting out, so I don't quite have the concentration to go over all the great things I remember about my job in trendy Yaletown. Tune in tomorrow and I'll have some bon mots to share. Maybe.

I am miserably tired today even after copping out of writing a full post last night by saying I was far too tired. In rather predictable Clinton fashion, I stayed up for another hour dithering around with things.

Anyway, my work shift has zoomed by as a result of behing half-conscious for much of the day. Which brings me to our original topic: my old job. I worked for a young web development firm based in Yaletown last year for about four and a half months. I actually ran away from a decent job that was saddled with a lousy 45-minute commute in order to take on this new job. It would enable me to take on a new role, better career prospects, shiny new office digs, no need to drive my car and just a badly needed change of scenery.

Little did I know this job would turn out to be my most frustrating, stressful job ever. It didn't faze me that I was filling in for a longtime, much beloved employee. What eventually pushed me to the brink was filling in the massive void left by the absent worker and taking on an entirely new realm of ressponsibilities. Sound exciting? Well, I won't lie, I was pretty stoked in the beginning. The pace in the office was fast and I was given a few opportunities to expand myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. It wasn't long, however, before I was saddled in responsibilities that amounted to covering 3 full-time positions.

I should also add that, barely out of my probation period, I finally left the family nest and moved into an apartment with an old highschool/university pal. So this job, which would soon go from sketchy to pretty crappy, was quite important to my survival. When my boss e-mailed me on Saturday afternoon to single-handedly code a mission critical project, something I had not even been asked to start, by Tuesday, I complied. When they sneakily did not adjust my probation pay to the proper wage, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and handled it nicely.

Although the job turned me into a lifeless zombie for the better part of 4 months, there were some perks to enjoy. I'll outline them here and mix in some random observations made while on the job:

  • The new office, ready to go by the time I started working for the company, really was very swank and impressive. It did end up feeling very bare and clinical, but still miles ahead of their old office and where I was coming from.
  • One of the owners frequently brought in his adorable lab retriever to work. It was probably one of the gentlest, most well-trained dogs I had ever met.
  • Subsidized group workouts with professional trainers... which I took advantage of exactly once, until they switched the schedule to an early morning workout. (I was already trudging into work at 8:30am each day, so no thanks)
  • Catered lunches. This was a bit misleading. According to many longtime employees, the company used to have a chef on staff who would prepare a lunch for the office every day. How sweet was that? Well, they had fired him well before I came on board, due to his supposedly questionable food handling practices and his inability to cater to the irritatingly picky eating habits of a handful of workers. What ended up happening was a rotating schedule was made up so that everyone took turns preparing lunches. The head honchos would bring in loads of food from Costco each week and would stock up our snazzy, but cramped kitchen (complete with patio!). The patio meant that when summer rolled around, our lunches would often involve burgers and charred pieces of chicken breast. Eventually, a recently demoted sales peon was assigned the unenviable task of preparing lunch every day! Poor guy. He ended up doing an amazingly consistent job, although he did try to pawn off his lunch duties onto me a few times which really pissed me off. He never seemed to bother anyone else to make lunch in his stead...
  • Private gym! Yes, this is true and it's a shame I used it only about a dozen times while I was there. Our gym was actually a forgotten section of the fitness club located on the floor below us. This meant that sometimes a gym staff bearing an impossibly perfect-sphere ass would come in with a client and share the space with us web development freeloaders. Actually not many people from my company took advantage of the free gym. It wasn't the best-equipped place in the world, but it had all the basics, plus plenty of dumbbells and a couple of TVs and channel-changing privileges to boot.
  • My desk was right beside one of our expansive windows, which afforded me a pretty clear view into the back room of a famous sensual massage parlour down the block. I wish this part was more exciting. The most I ever saw was an OK-looking chick in a bra. Most of the time it was just a backroom staffer packing linens and dumping laundry. Being the bored, overworked boy's club that we were, that still didn't stop us from bringing in a high-powered pair of binoculars for that rare chance that we might, one day, see the cash & prizes.
  • The babes. This is Yaletown after all, so there was never a want for scoping out decked out, yuppy gym babes. It became a daily ritual to walk past this one fake-looking babe after disembarking the bus and walking the 2 blocks to the office. She was pretty phat and dressed very well. In the gym, she would probably be a cross between a LMB and a GI Jane. Yum. I never did witness that whole cliche of the bleach blonde Lululemon bimbo who carried their teeny toy dogs in their teensy little handbags. I must have been busy gawking at their hineys.
  • My "uber" Macintosh G4 and my impressive 30-inch widescreen LCD. I have to say my desk setup made me look important. While everyone else sufficed with a single LCD or dual monitors side-by-side, I was rocking the pinnacle of visual stimulation. I was also using an Apple computer, which made me want to convulse in fits of rage two or three times each day. It's a wonder I didn't throw it out the window before left the job.
  • My peers were generally pretty cool, although almost everyone got on my nerves at some point. There was a short period of time where we had at least 4 DJs, including myself, working in the office. Anyway, only 1 survived into August and it wasn't me. The sales guys were all generally nice, but a few of them infuriated me with their practice of promising ridiculous shit to clients without consulting... ooh, I don't know, a designer like myself or the devs first to see if it was actually POSSIBLE. Yes, one particular salesman had a knack for consistently writing cheques with his mouth that his ass could not cash. Unfortunately, it was I who ultimately bore the brunt for his breaking his flamboyant promises, wasting time placating clients and finding ways to keep them from leaving us because he had essentially lied to them to their faces.
  • More on my peers: my fellow developers were a shade better than the sales team. One of the DJ dudes trained me in my job and I ended up working very closely with him for the first 2 months. Although he was a young, smart kid who taught himself little bits of PHP programming, he seemed incapable of picking up even the most rudimentary CSS coding. This became a problem when he would botch up simple edits and I would need to spend valuable time setting things back in order. There was a Korean kid who I reallly liked, mainly because he was so nice and he saved my ass many times with his programming skillz. The resident all-round computer whiz was your stereotypical, nerdy-looking bespectacled guy who would act distrubingly condescending to you, even towards other programmers and the team lead. Ah, the team lead. We'll call him A.. He was a seemingly very intelligent and nice guy who I later determined was the most subtlely effective bootlicker I have ever encountered. I started off liking A., but it soon became clear he had become too buddy-buddy with one of the owners, to the point where you'd always see them leave work together and A. would even help him walk his dog, run personal errands and generally became far too integrated into the boss' life. Coupled with the fact that he was a sharp pencil and it was no surprise when A. eventually became the manager of development. As he dug his heels into his managerial role, A. soon met the fate of many a low-to-mid level manager... he got eerily, freakin' robotic. His over-articulate manner of speech and his practiced mannerisms reached insane heights, to the point where I could no longer relate to him as a real person.
  • I think business does that to people... If you look at the two owners of that company, I would say they were a prime example of the yuppy, every-man-for-himself ideology. Both of them were still in their 20's... but there was never a whiff of any youthful idealism about them. They had accomplished quite in bit with their company in just 5 years, that I will not dispute. Yet... it was always uncomfortable for me to be around them. I once overheard the younger of the two espouse the greatness of the Liberal party during the provincial elections and I got sick to the stomach. Such a short-sighted, self-serving attitude... And the other owner, well he was slick and I remember having a single non-work related conversation with, about dating of all things. Well, it was no surprise to discover he was dating like mad and having trouble finding a girlfriend. He had the money, he had the trappings of success, but wow, the guy had the interpersonal warmth of a polar ice cap. Come to think of it, maybe that's why he and A. got along so well.

Well, I've blabbered about my old job during my current job shift long enough. It's in the past. Bring on the present.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The ClinTicker 2000: June 30th - July 7th 2006

Morning Workout
I experimented with going to the gym before my shift this morning and it was... painful... at first. Getting out of bed was easier than expected, since I was committed to honouring my promise to do the gym thing today. Once I got started on the elliptical, however, I started to feel out of sorts, like I was stoned or something. Well I got through my workout and only had to cut out the stretching because I was going to be late for work. I'm happy to report that I feel VERY alert and alive today at the office. I am going to extend this test run for the next week and see how it all flies. Hope waking up at 6:30 gets easier...

I've been a little grumpier this week due in large part to my aborted love connection with W.. It was a necessary week of reflection, reading and a renewed resolve to get myself centered again. In the game of life, the dating game has always been a game where I've entered the field wearing faulty equipment and without being armed with an actual game plan. This is bullshit and I've reached a breaking point. I am tired of not having full control of this area of my life and playing nice with everyone. Why has it taken me this long to realize nobody -- and I mean nobody, not even the sweetest, most seemingly sincere girl -- Plays Nice. I probably sound bitter and a little ruthless now, but I'm not. If anything, I'm angry with myself. Angry for selling myself short all these years and submitting myself to the pitfalls of dating instead of playing the game full out. Hey, I'm coming (I hope) from a place of strength and freedom. I only want to get what I want without hurting anyone. Is that so wrong?

In less than a week I will be on a plane to visit big sister B. in the land of poutine. Very stoked. Sadly, I don't think I will be playing any bar gigs with the iBreaks or Metrolium crew, but I do plan on checking out their events and maybe even sit in on S.'s net radio show. I will be gone for just over a week, so don't expect any posting during my absence, although I may try to pop in a few pithy comments midway through my vacation.

Toilet No Flushy
Okay, the toilet in the men's room on our floor needs to be fixed once and for all. The lever is always jamming, tenants are leaving their stale piss in the bowl and it's becoming a royal pain in ass. The toilet is now conveniently set up so that to flush, one simply need to stick one's arm elbow-deep into the water tank and flip open the stopper that runs the water into the bowl. As much joy as I derive from dunking my arm into tepid flush water, I'd have to say the old school technique of depressing the flush lever to flush is so much better.

Breakfastaz Breakin' it Down TONIGHT
Aw yeah, that's right. This trio of nu skool breaks darlings is making their to Richards on Richards for a night of hard, breakbeat fun. Also on board is local hero, DJ Akeel, one of those rare, nice DJs who I got to interview for Beyond Robson.com recently. If you hate breaks, then these guys would probably never make a believer out of you, If you love breaks and haven't heard of the Breakfastaz, please give your head a good shake. You can get yourself psyched up and caught up by checking out some of those mixes on one of my favourite music sites.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dark Day

The clouds are out today and the temperature has dropped considerably. Not exactly my idea of a good start to July. Getting out of bed was easy for the past few weeks. Often times, I wouldn't be able to sleep in on weekends even if I tried, thanks to the sun, heat and overall positive summer vibe.

I had planned to hit the gym before going to work today but when my alarm went off at 6:45, I knew I wouldn't be able to do it. I reset my cellphone alarm timer to 8:00, popped into the john for a second, then fell back into bed.

I awoke at 8:00 but zoned out in bed for another 20 minutes. My morning routine would be totally shot if I didn't get out of bed soon, so I got my ass out of bed and made a committment to hit the gym tonight after having dinner with my mom.

I would say I'm relatively sober about it, but I'm still thinking about W. 3 days after she asked for us to stop seeing each other. A flood of thoughts about the incident kicked into rapid cycle as I drove to work, which immediately put me into a nasty, grumpy funk. The randomness and abruptness of her decision has been hard to shake off. What's even worse is that I felt so blind-sided. It makes me wonder if I'll always be in a state of being unpleasantly surprised and then I think if that's actually better than knowing something bad is heading down your path way ahead of time.

I'm inclined to think W. has some personal issue of her own to work out for herself and that it wasn't meant to be. But man, I'll never know and that uncertainty drives me up the wall.

Five minutes away from the office I realized I had left my cellphone at the apartment. Wonderful. There's a possibility I have Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

This Dating Life


I'm trying not to have a breakdown about dating but there is no getting around it: dating can, and often does, suck the big one.

In a rather timely move, the latest issue of the Westender has a cover feature about begin single in Vancouver. There are two main articles that focus a lot of attention on the aloofness of Vancouverites and how even visitors from typically "tough" cities like New York and LA find our closed, icey social habits alarming. We like to make nice, but we seem pathologically rooted to our defenses. As dating expert Lisa Ronis puts it: "People are generally very cordial, but they don't let you in." Well I'm all for avoiding self-fulfilling prophecies but I do believe these are valid observations. Women and men tend to hang back a bit more here and this timidity amps up the dating game-playing rituals to unwieldy levels. It drives me nuts sometimes.

In the grand scheme of my life thus far, singlehood is what I know best. I've actually come to really enjoy the advantages of the single life. In a year where I have been bombarded with weddings and wedding announcments, I have kept my perspective and realized that a whole realm of possibilities still lies before me. My friends and acquaintances have their committments to their life partaners and I have my free-wheeling singleton status and that is the way things are. There is no better or worse in the equation.

But in the last 2 or 3 months I have recommitted myself to getting back into the dating game...and it's been a fun, albeit rough-ass ride. I won't mince words: I want to meet someone good. I have no qualms about leaving behind the single life for an extended period of time. I want to meet someone good, but I don't have crazy expectations either. And I don't mind trying something new now and again. Modern dating is just so messed up, for lack for a better word. It's almost like dating services and online dating have deluged us with too much choice and turned dating into a series of business transactions. Meeting people in the course of daily life is no easier and it's still the same deal: everyone's stuck in window shopping mode, always holding out for something better. I've certainly been guilty of this, even up to this past Canada Day weekend. My question is, when does it stop?

I recently made friends with a British expat, who I'll call J. J's a real gent and is probably the nicest alpha male character I have ever met. Spending his work week as a writer of financial proposals, J retreats into the wilderness every weekend to camp, hike, rock climb, bike and work as a river rafting guide. We were at the Naam one night and he shared with me his observations of the Vancouver dating scene. He talked about the unending series of smart, beautiful women he'd meet, all in their 30s', who for whatever reason were still floundering around as singles. He also commented on the very strong vibe through out of most of these women wanting to settle down already, if only they could meet Mr. Right.

I could only shrug ruefully. I answered, "No one knows what they want." Maybe it's always been this way, but it's never just about real emotions anymore. There's status, prestige, image, economics, beauty, upbringing and a myriad of other factors that come into play when people are sizing each other up during the dating ritual. What would happen if we all just dropped our acts for once and committed to relating to each other as real people... people are aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but people who are all the same, just looking for a meaningful connection. But we're still window shopping.

And dating is so unpredictable. There is no other human endeavour more prone to bizarre randomness. For me, I had the rug pulled out from me so suddenly, my head spun off its axis. One day two people can't keep their hands off each other, only a few days later, there's suddenly talk of "intuition" and staying friends. How can you explain these things? Surely, I was not innocent in all of this. Remember my boastful report of having 3 dates in 2 days? Whatever. I set a new record for myself and it means absolutely nothing. I made a choice and whittle it down to one girl. As if the power of my intention sent ripples through the fabric of life, the person I choice to stick with decided it wasn't going to work. Fabulous. You can't predict shit like this.

There are, of course, lessons to be learned from everyone that comes into my life, dating partners or otherwise. What choice to people have but to keep plugging away, whittling down the candidates, reassessing their own expectations, working the numbers and striving to fulfill that one simple, basic need that has become such an obtuse, intricate and even cold process. I will be among these hopeful singles. In a city of singles, we are all searching, hoping and waiting. And we are all blind.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Goodbye Gravis


This athletic, lounging lovely is courtesy of the official Gravis website. The photo of the worn out Gravis sneakers is aalllll me.

Last week I bid farewell to my beloved Gravis Factors. I first bought them in 2001 and they have been with me through countless raves, club nights, at least 3 jobs, several trips, a few visits to the gym and countless kilometeres of walking. They were probably the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned. Even my new pair of Gravis, done up in their current styles, does not match it for comfort, not by a long shot.

But every shoe has his day. The Factors were getting dirty... caked with permanent grime, the treads were just smoothing out to a fine polish and they were just losing their old comfort. The final nail in the coffin was stepping into some nastiness one night and not wanting to deal with the clean-up. So rather unceremoniously, I laid out my beloved Factors for a solemn picture moment, gave a moment of silence and silently packed them away into the dumpster behind my apartment.

I know they were just a pair of sneakers. The best damn sneakers I ever had.