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Right. I mentioned to some of you that I had a temp. job, but never got around to giving details. Soooo...

The one advantage of having an interviewer stand me up, as I remarked even at the time, was that the employment agency that had set this up now owed me one.

This is probably at least PART of why I then got a DIFFERENT temp. job without having to do an interview for it.*

Anyway, it's basically filing. This company out in Waltham switched to electronic record-keeping for most purposes a couple of years ago, but they still do some paper filing; more to the point, they have umphteen years worth of paper records, and they need to figure out what to do with 'em. Part of the answer is that they employ some sort of off-site document storage firm; but the files still have to be packed up and sent off, and they now want to (a) inventory them, and (b) group them by expiration date, so that when the time comes to have 'em shredded, they can just have their storage people throw out the whole box, rather than pull individual files. Since everyone there is busy already, and since I guess one or two people are on medical leave or something, this is now my job. It's unexciting, but at worst will look decent on my résumé when I'm applying for future office-type stuff.

Plus there's free coffee. And the people are friendly and chill.

As such, the big question** is How long is this going to last? This is a mystery for two reasons:
1) As I said, I've mostly been hired to deal with a filing project. Thing is, I'm still not entirely sure of the scope of the project; and the last time I got hired to do filing, I finished it in about half the time expected, and then basically twiddled my thumbs while my superiors hunted frantically for something for me to do. There's been vague talk about maybe having me do other stuff after that, but it's been just that: vague. This is partly because
2) I've barely seen my notional supervisor. I started on Thursday,*** which unfortunately ALSO turned out to be the day she was going to be in a three-hour meeting that had been several years in the planning; and then she was playing catchup the rest of the day, and then wasn't in at all on Friday. So I guess I'll try to figure this stuff up at some point in the course of next week. Because as things stand, I don't know whether this gig is going to end next Friday, or next year.

* Have I mentioned I hate job interviews? Only about a hundred times, I guess.

** Well, in addition to "Can I manage NOT to throw out my back lugging around and/or bent over boxes of files?"

*** Despite my concern that I might need to start the job the day I got the offer, I was actually supposed to start on Wednesday. However, I also had to take my car in to the shop on Wednesday, especially if I was then going to haul myself out to Waltham. And I could have just arranged to start half an hour late (dropped the car off, and then caught a train to work), except that I would then have needed to repeat this performance on Thursday (to pick it back up), and I figured that it would be less disruptive to just start a day late--if they were ok with that, which fortunately they were. Plus I had a couple of other appointments scheduled for Wednesday.
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Starting a temp. job on Thursday! Let's hope I don't ^%$&*(& it up!
(And that it lasts more than a week.)

--Tired Schreiber
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grrr bagbiting mechanics are booked up til WEDNESDAY, so the car is out of commission til then.

So no Census work for me til then either... and since Wednesday is, err, "problematic"...that really means Thursday.

(No, before you ask I can't take it to another mechanic. I mean, technically I could, but if--as may be the case--the problem is that the oxygen sensor they replaced last time is acting up, I want a free replacement.)

...I guess I can get some job applications done?

Later: Related to that last: Someone please explain to me why "Because I want you to pay me," isn't an adequate response to the question "Why do you want to work at [Name of company]?".
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Right, I never finished writing up last weekend's adventures. Read more... )

PS Shout-out to Squig. and Partner for fixing my smartphone! OK, really it was less "fixing", more "convincing me that the problem might really be lint in the charge port", but they still saved me like $50.
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Just realized that I totally feel Margot Fassler's pain on the problem of finding a politically left-leaning church with traditional liturgy.
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Well, fuck.

BRCF just dropped me. (And the rest of their freelance editors, so it's PRESUMABLY not that I screwed up, but still.)

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Friday evening, I skipped a Dark Crystal screening and a house concert (with some considerable regret in both cases) in favor of driving up to Maine for a production of Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters (1746).  But I'm related to the director (because of course I am), and some things are important, especially when said director 's life has been going haywire.  In any case, the show went up at the Freeport Playhouse, a gigungous space by the standards both of the town's size and those of the audiences for the high school and community theater productions (like this one) that it chiefly hosts; but this is what you get when you have L.L. Bean bankrolling you.

Servant is an odd play, in some respects. It's not just that it's rumored to have been written essentially as a vehicle to showcase the talents of the original lead (playing the eponymous main character, Truffaldino.) And it’s not just that eighteenth-century theater tends to be strange (for us) in general. The thing with Servant is that it was written squarely in the tradition of the Commedia dell’Arte, but at a time when every possible change had be rung on the latter, and thus audiences (and playwrights) wanted something new; so it’s much more scripted than the improv.-like style of its predecessors, and heavily influenced by contemporary French theater. Almost like the Commedia’s stock characters acting in a plot by Rousseau (or Shakespeare, but I’ll get back to that.) As such, there’s still a fair amount of improvisation involved; in this case, this included substituting endless L.L. Bean jokes for the endless Venice jokes.

Plot? You actually want to know about the plot? Look, you can pretty much figure that out from the title, other than that Truffaldino displays a Scooby-Doo like desire to eat constantly, and that one of his masters is, in fact, a woman pretending to be her own brother. Pantalone is old, Silvio and Clarice are airheads, the Dottore harangues everyone constantly in semi-literate Latin, Truffaldino is alternately a very clever person doing something colossally stupid and a buffoon accidentally being clever. The fourth wall gets broken repeatedly: I’m not sure whether that’s in the original, or a modern adaptation. (I’d once have assumed the latter, but that was before I found out about the existence of The Knight of the Burning Pestle.) There are endless stupid misunderstandings that could have been cleared up instantly, except that (a) the plot would then collapse, and (b) anyway, no one in this play is smart enough to do that, except for maybe our cross-dressed heroine and her beloved, and they’re under a lot of stress, what with being on the run from the law and all.*

Instead, I’m going to talk about humor.
1) The frankly sophomoric.
“Some people have asked me whether we added in the all the, you know, sex jokes,” the director remarked to me over dinner. “But aside from adding one very subtle line about oral sex [totally in keeping with the show’s tradition of improvisation], nope, it’s all in there…” I can sympathize: it always amazes me when residents of the 21st century assume that past societies had no concept of dirty jokes, but I guess most people didn’t grow up on The Canterbury Tales. Or read Catullus in college. Or ever visit Pompeii. Or sing folk songs. Look, people: lewd humor did NOT originate with the internet. And so, yes, that ENTIRE plot point was probably written primarily to set up the visual pun with the rocks.

This brings me to my second point:
2) Clowning.
As a play in the tradition of the Commedia dell’Arte, a lot of this humor here relies on successful clowning. Props flying around with wild abandon, the ability to do a pratfall successfully, that kind of thing. And the guy playing Truffaldino does it quite well, but somewhere in the second act I realized that, even as I was laughing my face off over jokes that the rest of the audience was a few beats behind me in getting, I wasn’t finding most of the clowning all that great.
And that, I then realized, was because I’m spoiled.
Not by television shows, or any of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, or any of the more obvious sources. Rather, I saw the Flying Karamozov Brothers production of The Comedy of Errors (taped on VHS, off public television) at an impressionable age, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. As I suggested earlier, The Servant of Two Masters is already not unlike a lot of Shakespeare’s comedies (farcical servants, cross-dressing, mix-ups); and the style of clowning in it is also similar to that in the aforesaid production of Comedy of Errors (and probably also in Shakespeare as originally performed, but I’m not an expert on Shakespeare’s comedies.)
And of course, the Flying Karamozov Brothers (and Avner the Eccentric) can out-clown pretty much anybody.
Usually while juggling simultaneously.

Man, I’ve got to see if we still have that VHS tape.

Anyway. The Servant of Two Masters! Not as good as Shakespeare put on as a collaboration between several of the late 20th century’s greatest comic acts: but then, what is? Well worth seeing!

* They, incidentally, are derived from the stock character of the Capitani. This (and various other aspects of the plot) inevitably got me wondering whether some underground 18th c. theater group wrote a Commedia-style play where the male leads wind up hooking up.
I also kind of want to see a re-imaging of this play that takes the fact that both of them are technically on the run from the law--a point that Goldoni brings up but then doesn’t really explore--and refocuses at least some of the plot around that. Servant Noir, I guess.
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I have just realized what Trump's real motto is.

"The last man nearly ruined this place
He didn't know what to do with it:
If you think this country's bad off now,
Just wait 'til I get through with it!"

(Why yes, I just heard that Grabbers Of Pussies were making a last-ditch effort to repeal the ACA: why do you ask?)
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Meantime, Peter's here, and also today was my neighborhood's annual block party.

Which was surprisingly fun! I mean, I think it's meant to allow people to meet their neighbors, which I mostly failed to do, because I was busy eating tasty food, doing parkour, or keeping half an eye on P. while HE was doing parkour. (Unnecessarily, 'cause the guys from the local parkour club were super responsible and very good at dealing with the ever-increasing bunch of kids who agreed with Peter that this was the best thing ever, or at least the best thing that didn't have a movie tie-in or something.)
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Pursuant to my last post: well, poop. Not getting that Hahvahd job.
I guess at least I know?
(Nope, not better.)
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@#%%$^, Hahvahd. That History Case Method job for which I applied - two months ago - is now flagged as a "hot job" (i.e., "We're getting desperate.") And yet, my application is STILL just "under review".
For heaven's sake, people: if you're THAT concerned to get the post filled asap, why not just interview me, at least?

In other job search related news, I've gone ahead and gotten myself fully onboarded with the Tutoring Firm.* (My brother turns out to have been right: I CAN just turn pupils down if it looks like a bad fit.)
This, in turn, may be derailed by the other job news of the day. As one can imagine, cleaning up Hurricane Harvey is a massive job for FEMA: so much so that they're looking into the possibility of poaching employees from other federal agencies (since that way, even if they need complete retraining, they don't need to redo criminal background checks or swear 'em in.) Since I sort of WOULD like to do something to help - but have no money - I may actually take them up on this: IF it looks like we'd be paid decently, and IF I can work it out with my responsibilities to G. and P.

Well, and IF Hahvahd doesn't hire me first, I guess.

* Still waiting to hear whether my blog posts over there are my intellectual property, or there's. If the former, I'll start cross-posting them here.**
Which reminds me, I need to find an actual HISTORY topic that's interesting to a broad audience, but isn't fifteenth-century Swiss jokes, or Roman understandings of sexuality, or níð, or other non-G-rated topics. I'm feel like I'm already walking the line by just MENTIONING the fact that much of Catullus ought to have a "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" sticker.
** ETA: sunuvubitch, no, no cross-posting. How am I supposed to put together a writing portfolio for anyone else?
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(Written while sitting around church because I'd forgotten that I'd never gotten the keys to the bell tower back, so I'm extra pissed off.)

So l just accepted a job with a tutoring company, and now my stomach feels like it has a bunch of snakes in it, and I'm kind of wishing I'd written back instead no, on second thought I don't think I want to go forward with this. 🐍

I'd applied because they supposedly pay fairly well, and I figured I had a good chance of actually being hired. (Self-evidently accurate.) But as the reality of the situation sunk in, I realized: this is going to be yet another job that I'm not excited about--which in itself isn't a problem, I've given up actually trying to figure out my vocation, ideal job or purpose in life, figuring that if my purpose in life is suddenly revealed to me in a flash of light, then great; otherwise I'll find meaning and identity in my hobbies and in trying to be a decent human being. But that' probably won't work as well--and it's a shitty way to live--if I have sharply limited free time and am stressed out all the time. And this is going to be another job that I'm not excited about, at irregular hours, where when you have to start and stop working is very nebulous. And that's going to stress me out and sharply reduce my useful free time (since tutoring presumably happens mostly in the events, when I want to be doing other stuff.)

Also, it's a job working with people. I hate those. And they tend to burn me out rapidly.

And then there's the mere fact that I have a bad feeling about this. There have been too many times in the past when I had a bad feeling about something, couldn't find a logical reason why, ignored it, and wound up wishing I hadn't. I hate to go all woo-woo or act like I'm claiming to have the least useful form of divine inspiration ever, but I'm starting to think my subconscious mind sometimes figures stuff out before the rest of me does.

So whaddo I do, internet? Take a chance on this job, try to give it a fair chance, and at worst...actually not worst, there are so many ways it can go worse than second-best, then, kick the can of finding a job I don't hate a little further down the road? Or go with my gut and get the hell away from this?

...Maybe I should try to become a bank clerk.

ETA: My brother pointed out that, since it looks like I'm going to have at least SOME control over what tutoring assignments I take on, I can see what's on offer, and then if ALL of them suck (or look like they're gonna suck) for one reason or another, I can just say No to all of them, and say "I'm sorry, I don't think anything you have is actually the sort of thing I want to do."* So I think I'm going to go with that option.

OTOH, I am being reminded that the other thing I hate about part-time jobs is that, given too many responsibilities (and n>3), I tend to either neglect some of them until n≤3, or have my brain seize up and just surf the internet and do none of them.

* He had some super-brilliant phrase for how to do this (because of course he did), but which I've now forgotten.
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As P. and I approach the end of our stay in England, assorted thanks and apologies:

First (chronologically) to the staff of Virgin Atlantic, who checked us in when we showed up flustered and an hour later than we should have been. (G. had forgotten P's passport, and retrieving it took rather a lot of time. Good thing I built an hour of "something goes hideously wrong" time into the schedule.)

Second (though most importantly) to my Mom and her husband, who put up with a frequently hyper nine-y-o and his father (moody, broody, inclined to leave them with the kid in favour of doing tourist stuff) for nine days, AND totally drove us around and paid for tickets and bankrolled us all the way.

Third, to the waitress at the Lindesfarne Inn, near Berwick and the aforesaid Isle, for helping keep up with all of our orders, supplying me with cider, and lending me her pen to write postcards and things. I repaid the favour by inadvertently walking off with the pen.

Finally (well, I hope): to the change ringers of York, who not only enthusiastically welcomed a questionably competent ringer to Sunday ringing,* but then invited me back for practice.
At which point I promptly fumbled the sally and consequently broke the stay on the #4.
They did not have a spare stay.
And then they STILL were all understanding*** and supportive and mostly concerned about whether I'd injured myself (ans: not beyond mild rope burn), AND let me keep ringing, which was good 'cause that's traditionally the moment when learners totally freeze up and have to relearn like a zillion things before they recover their confidence, and then invited me out to the pub and bought me a pint. Ladies and Gents, if you're ever in Boston, I totally owe you Thai food.
And now I'm gonna go home and neurotically check every stay in the tower at CotA for signs of damage.


Also, mad thanks (though I hope no apologies!) to [personal profile] tree_and_leaf and husband, who invited me to Wakefield and put me up, so that I actually got a chance to hang out in person with Tree for more than half an hour.


* I mean, at home I'm at least vaguely competent, but they're intimidatingly good. Y'know, perfect striking, the fourteen-year-old who's learning to ring two bells at one, the twelve-year-old who's learning Bristol...and the fact that several of them can ring a bell with no stay.

** Once again, then stay is the chunk of wood attached to the bell that prevents it from swinging past the point where the mouth is pointing up.

*** Admittedly, they tell me this happens a lot at St. Wilfrid's, and the #4 is traditionally (both there and elsewhere) one of the bells that gets abused by novice ringers the most.
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Pt. 1: The practical stuff

OK! I'm returning from England with critter socks (fox, hedgehog, squirrel) and marmalade. Everyone on here gets dibs before I offer the Random British Stuff to fb.

([personal profile] sovay, the obligatory Weird Crisps are for you. Which segues to...)

Pt. 2: Impractical Wishes
Being an open letter to Sovay.
I'm glad you're excited about Weird Crisps! You said to find something you'd like, and that's what I could actually bring you in my luggage. But there's so many other things that you'd've liked, but that I probably can't get through customs. Kippered herring, for example, is (insofar as I'm aware) unavailable in the US, and it was on the menu at our hotel in Northumberland, but I can't imagine I can bring one back in my suitcase. I thought about bringing you a stone from Lindisfarne, since while you're not interested in the religious side, tidal islands--especially the doubly-tidal, seal-haunted St. Cuthbert's Isle--would seem to me to be right up your alley. (Seriously, the seals were like twenty yards away from Peter and me, tops.) Sadly, its stones aren't terribly distinctive, and I don't want to bring you some random piece of rock that you'll be wondering, six months from now, what the sam hill it was. Your ungodson ran around the rocks and sands and mudflats barefoot, as you would have; and we nearly made it out to the sandpit that seals had been swimming over an hour earlier. The sky was blue, the wind was chill, the view of the fields of Berenicia stretching up toward The Cheviot was breathtaking. It was your sort of morning. All I can bring home for you is the memory.
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(Mostly scribbled down at about 8am this morning.)

On the fells, pastures slope up to heather--but some part of my mind expects forest. And I don't know whether that's a medievalist who's read Nicola Griffith one time too many, or the New Englander who's used to a landscape that's pine trees by default, or whether it's some other cause that accounts for the fact that my gut-level expectation of a landscape is the fields slope up to the forest.
We're going through Elmet, but the wood is long gone.
The heather's in bloom; the decaying/ex- mill towns look almost exactly their counterparts in New England.

There's something, I muse as we roll toward (or maybe out of) Caer Loidis, past what's probably about to be a mall, there's something especially ugly about Development in Britain. Maybe it's just the fact that I know there's so much /less/ land here, and so every bit that's actually still woods or fields is that much more precious; or maybe it's the knowledge that any given chunk of land once belonged to someone, may have two thousand years of history and owners beneath it, and now the topsoil that contains whatever minimal traces that left--if nothing else, the plough furrow, the soil chemistry because /this/ was sheep pasture and /this/ was in barley when Robert Aske's Pilgrims marched on York, or Fairfax passed by on the way to Marston Moor--being untidily bulldozed.
Or maybe it's just that development usually makes me disgusted, and I'm just less used to seeing it here.

I ramble: then and now. Then on the Trans-Pennine Express with Peter, who still finds the view out the window utterly too boring to bother with; or now in my Mum's library, the books all packed in boxes for a move that hasn't come yet, Mum reading Country Life of all things, Peter having utterly crashed after a day of constant energy. Both times utterly sleep-deprived, so much so that five hours of jet lag is a secondary factor at best: our plane caught a tail wind and arrived an hour early, and that in itself is great--but it means I slept for maybe an hour on the plane, then another hour uneasily napping in a real bed when I realised I just couldn't any more. Either way, safe across the Atlantic.
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Being a review of Robin McKinley's Pegasus, plus about half a review of C.J. Cherryh's Rider at the Gate and Naomi Novik's everything.

“Preface: )"OK, if you had a Mercedes Lackey-style animal companion thing going on, how would that Really work in practice?”

I am speaking, of course, about C.J. Cherryh’s Rider at the Gate books and Robin McKinley’s Pegasus. Read more... )

*** Except for the endings. I think Hero and the Crown is the only thing I've read of hers where she actually sticks the ending.

NOTE: I started this review right after Readercon, and then it mouldered on my desktop for several weeks. Tonight I was feeling restless and angry and useless, and so decided I might as well get THIS done, anyway; except I'd forgotten about half the more cleverly vitriolic things I was gonna say about Pegasus. Oh well, have a review.
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Packing. Trying to figure out what I've forgotten to pack.

Meantime, is there anything that anyone wants from the other side of the Atlantic?

(I mean, excluding things like "A new ring of eight", "The head of Theresa May/Donald Trump", or "An entire Stilton cheese". Things I can physically and legally stuff in my luggage.)
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...I should really be looking for jobs. Uh, constructive procrastination?

So it's just as well that [personal profile] teenybuffalo and [personal profile] sovay weren't available for dinner Saturday night, 'cause that's about the worst batch of Vegetarian Heart Attack I think I've ever made. Moral of the story: taste the basil before you buy it.

Sunday I skipped bellringing (unnecessarily, as I realized later) to haul up to New Hampshire for this big family reunion thing my Aunt had organized. This would not, frankly, have been my first choice for the day: in additional to my campanological commitments, I hate driving,* I don't really have much of anything in common with my cousins anymore, and given my finances I'm kinda feeling like the black sheep of the family. But she was going to feel hurt if I didn't turn up, so...

And actually, it was ok. I mean, I still don't have much in common with my cousins (and almost feel more at home with my cousins-once-removed, the elder of whom has grown about a foot since I saw her last), but I really shoulda caught up with my stepcousin K., who (I learned) had just moved to within a few blocks of me. (wtf?) And the food was tasty, and I got to see my brother and get the latest from him.
More importantly (and this was an even bigger shock than the suddenly 5'6" cousin), I got to see my uncle. RM... huh. That's a story.
See, about, ooo, a year and a bit ago, RM. found out that the weird digestive problems he'd been having were, in fact, bowel cancer. And that would be bad enough, but, well, he was the one kid whom Grandma succeeded in bringing up as a Christian Scientist, and if you're a Christian Scientist and get cancer, the options are supposed to be 1. Miracle** or 2. Die faithfully. RM. ultimately went with option 3., which is Stop Being A Christian Scientist (I guess?) and actually get modern medical treatment; but when Mom visited him last spring, he looked about on his deathbed anyway, and I hadn't gotten an update since, so I was amazed he'd made it up. ("Your mom's always been the worrier," was his [typically] sardonic comment.) In fact, though, he'd apparently made the drive up from Ithaca just fine, and while he had lost more weight than was healthy, he was a lot less corpse-like than I'd been expecting.*** And not super energetic, but seemed to be mostly his old self.
So yeah. That was my weekend. Well, that and reading too many fantasy novels (and I owe you a post on that, too), with less than optimal results for my census productivity. I should get on that. First, job searching.

Nine days til I leave for England. Still don't know which city.

* The drive up, at least, was substantially better than I'd anticipated--in terms of driving time. What I ALSO hadn't expected was that they're still in the process of widening I93, thus simultaneously rubbing your face in the fact that they're tearing up the landscape so as to cover more of it with tarmac AND the bits where extra lanes might actually be useful still aren't done yet. Like seriously, guys, why was the interchange at the south end of 293 not the FIRST thing you did? And why do I suspect that the answer is somehow connected to the fact that there are still hundred-foot piles of gravel by the roadside?

** I don't know whether or not that's EXACTLY how people who go in for faith healing would describe it, but f--- them, because if it isn't, than they're even more irrational than I think they are anyway.

*** I also noticed he'd lost some hair, but then Grandpa was mostly bald by the time HE hit 65, and my brother's at least heading in that direction, so I don't actually think that's significant.
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How is it only two weeks til I leave?


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