Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Wrap

A Tribute to the Year that Was
2008 - A Wrap

Well, it has now occurred to me that keeping up with one's blog is kind of like keeping up with one's correspondence with friends - it's a joy to keep in touch but it's a bitch to make the effort. Thank God for Facebook status updates and the opportunity to use the two-byte very-public wall post to prove you're still interested in your friends (and friends of friends... of friends) lives: "I hear you're pregnant again! (Hope this one was planned!) Congrats!"

But in the blogging world, there are no shortcuts to staying up to date - I have learned the lesson the hard way that you really have to put in the effort and blog ALL the time if you want to keep your blog interesting, relevant and visit-worthy. And you really can't show up a month late and blog about things that happened forever ago - that would be like going into my Outlook calendar and putting a new appointment for something that happened last month just because I forgot to put it in. It does make my social calendar reflect me as a busier and therefore more interesting person, which is why I do it, but also, it's kind of pointless. So if you're going to blog, you must only include the most up-to-the-minute, relevant social commentary.

Unless of course it happens to be the end of the year, in which case you can get away with a year-end summary of the year's events. Which, in this case, works out kind of conveniently for me.

Before you furiously start hitting the Back button to avoid a lengthy recap of recession woes, elections, Palinisms, coalitions, snowmaggedons and underrage Olympians, I want to tell you right now I'm not here to go into great detail over the year's major landmark events (such as the US' first black president) major disappointments (pretty much the entire 2008 box office? I'm sorry, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull actually made a profit?), or major shockers (Heath Ledger died!!??). Frankly, being the narcissist that I am, my Holiday Wrap is all about me. In no particular order, here's some of the best and worst moments for me in 2008:

#1 Quarter-Life Crisis

In 2008, I turned 25. This apparently means I've moved into an entirely new bracket. Gone are the days of checking off the 18-24 box in those free surveys that you fill out for fun to pass the time (anyone?); I have moved to a new box: the 25-34. Yikes. The world of refined tastes, enhanced cash flows (at least in theory) and friends with babies. No longer can I get away with wearing mis-matched socks to friends' houses, eating fish-sticks for dinner, or waking up with yesterday's make-up smeared across half my face in someone else's bed (not that I ever did that). The 25-34 box is all about maturity, elegance, and "grown-up-ness" (also you should start working on a more refined vocabulary by this age). This is also about the time when university-age kids whining about how much life sucks because they have to get up for Friday morning classes start to gnaw on your nerves, all-night benders followed by routine trips to your favourite porcelain god start to lose their lustre, and you start hearing your favourite songs being played on the easy-listening adult contemporary stations. Eek.

But, being the Libra that I am, in my effort to balance out my default pessimistic outlook, I have tried to see the silver lining in all of this abysmal aging process. For one, I can now get into 25+ clubs! Don't think this is that special? Spend one night at one of these clubs and it occurs to you that you are in fact the youngest, and therefore, by default, the best-looking person there! hurrah! Note: You're also the youngest and probably the most annoying person there. Don't waste a good thing by getting drunk and embarassing everyone. Apparently the 25-34 box is all about drinking WITHOUT the intention of getting drunk. This takes some getting used to.

Finally, my last recommendation for surviving the Quarter Life crisis is to simply date someone much older than you. They might make fun of you for having been in diapers while they were rocking out to Genesis, but you can always remind them that they are going to die first. (Just kidding, honey).

#2: I got a job! Unfortunately, it sucked!

This year I joined (and left) a company that gives new meaning to the phrase, truth is stranger than fiction... er.. maybe truth is funnier than fiction. Only, it wasn't actually "ha-ha funny" to work there. More like... "this job is so unbelievably awful I can almost find humour in it?"

But, as I did recently leave this job (and have since started a new one - more fun stories to come I'm sure), I have had the privilege of being able to look back and reflect on some of the most memorable aspects. I've decided that the following is what I'm going to miss most of all:

My desk. Or, more specifically, the location of my desk. My office was home to the always aesthethically-pleasing cubicle maze system. Ahh yes. These cubicle facades can be a tricky business, especially if you employ a staff of people who don't seem to quite understand scientific realities such as depth perception, the power of sound waves, or the fact that out of sight does not necessarily mean out of ear-shot. These walls seem to be present enough to invite the fantasy that there is in fact a barrier -- and therefore within the confines of said cubicle you're safe (and somehow encouraged) to reveal every inappropriately personal detail about yourself that you possibly can -- while also not quite present enough to prevent everyone in a 30-foot radius to hear all about who dumped you (again), who you plan on *expletive"-ing this weekend, and what colour chunks you spewed out all day Sunday after your cousin's gongshow of a birthday party Saturday night. Sometimes, in life, you get to learn way more about people than you ever wanted to - and though I may have spent about 5% of my day doing real work, I'll always cherish the other 95% I spent being involuntarily exposed to way, way TMI.

#3. Movin out and movin up.

With the job came another landmark - moving out of my parent's house. And this was not psuedo-moving out, like I did to go to university where my living expenses were still covered by my parents and my only purpose in life was to think for myself, write some papers and roll out of bed for noon classes (yes, I was that annoying kid who complained about it too) - this year I actually left. Left to never return. Exhilarating, yes, but also daunting. Mostly because, as I also turned 25 this year, I actually had to learn how to cook (see above on how fish sticks are no longer acceptable food fare).

Learning to cook proved interesting and challenging. I got to know ingredients I had never met before - I must have paced up and down the produce aisle 15 times before I finally caved and asked the teenaged stock boy what cilantro looked like. Luckily, being the teenaged stock boy that he was - he had never even heard of cilantro, so I got to give him a condescending look instead of the other way around (whew). And I felt even better when I took a cooking class and watched one of my classmates spend 8 minutes trying (unsuccessfully) to open an upside down can of kidney beans. Thank God my growing up on tuna and ravioli taught me at least the right-side of a can.

Though I may still be a slow-learner when it comes to cooking great meals, the important part is I AM learning (things like - when you go grocery shopping with a long list of ingredients and chicken is the most essential ingredient in your dish, don't forget to buy the chicken).

Anyway, a lot of other things happened to me in 08, but I'm tired of writing and if you're still reading this, you're probably considering suicide, so I'll stop here.

So, that's all folks. I'll try harder to be a more diligent blogger in 2009.

Best of luck. Here's hoping the dwindling economy doesn't piss away your life savings. Happy New Year!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sports, Economy and Uncle Scrooge

Not to be a conformist, but the topic on everyone's lips these days seems to revolve around the unstable economy, so I may as well go ahead and acknowledge it here. It's such a popular topic in fact, it seems to have taken the number one slot for "safe topic" at cocktail parties, family gatherings and awkward first dates; generally, everyone seems to agree that we're all in a bit of a pickle. There's something almost tranquil about that - the sweet, kumbaya-like joining of hands between staunch libertarians, lefty peaceniks and your friendly neighbourhood neo-cons as they together blast the government for offering now trillions of dollars in corporate bail-outs.

Still, I think this unity and togetherness will likely be pretty short-lived. Soon, we will look differently at our (former) friends who got to keep their jobs while we got the lay-off axe; we will decide that the poor little children with nothing at Christmastime don't really need our charity (at least not as much as we need to keep our money safe in our bank accounts); we will go out less, spending more time hunkering down at home. If the recession looms long enough, we're all at risk of turning our focuses inward; of becoming hermits; of shouting "Bah Humbug!" the next time someone comes tapping on our door looking to sustain the surface population. So much for Kumbaya.

I was thinking about this the other day when I heard some CBC sports pundit make a reference to the future of Detroit should the 3 major automakers go bust. "It will be a ghost town," he said. "And the Red Wings could be history."

Suddenly, even with all the apocalyptic rhetoric floating around these days and the comparisons to Depression-era times, the possibility that Detroit could go under and with it, a historic team like the Detroit Red Wings, I at last came to and said "gosh, goodness, this whole mess is actually quite serious" (or something like that) - and this, from someone who doesn't much care for hockey.

The potential loss of a pro sports team - a winning sports team - due to outside economic factors somehow struck me as tragic in an entirely irrational sense. People really are losing their jobs, and homes, and I am not for a moment going to argue that losing a sports team is at all comparable - it just seems tragic on a different kind of level.

In mentioning this to my brother, he was good enough to provide me with a link to Dave Zirin (sports-writer-phenomenon)'s blog and an interview he gave on MSNBC's Morning Joe to plug his new book, A People's History of Sports in the US. And once I'm techy enough to figure out how to post links or videos, I'll share these with you.

Anyway, Zirin was discussing just this topic of interest - that even during the Depression, sports was one place where people could go to escape their dire realities. They could scrape together some change and go catch an afternoon ball game. Now, pro sports depend on the corporate elite to survive: the entire lower bowl of the new Yankee Stadium is dedicated to corporate season-ticket holders; and how many of them will keep tickets as expenses in the face of today's economy?

Pro sports, the way it is designed today, can and will crumble under a destitute economy. For some reason that tugs at my heart strings (and not only as a sports fan - yes, I'm a non-hockey-loving sports fan); I think because sports have and do hold a special place in our history. I suppose I would feel the same way if the big studios stopped producing movies. We don't need these things - but having them there reinforces the notion that we're okay. If we make time for play - to leave the daily grind, to imagine a world outside of our own, to follow games and storylines that don't really matter - then maybe we can feel like we're all still kids playing baseball on the street. Eventually our moms will call us in to dinner; but for now, there's 2 outs, there are runners on the corners, and Casey's at the bat.

Don't we need moments like that?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Welcome, bloggers and bloggees

Welcome to my first post of my first blog, ever. Basically, you are right this second enjoying the fruits of my procrastinating labour. I should be doing laundry, buying groceries, ironing, packing my lunch for work tomorrow, cleaning my desk, doing my taxes (it's still 2008 right?), e-stalking (I mean, facebooking) my friends and enemies, and/or applying to jobs to meet my quota of rejected resumes for the week.

Instead, I've decided to attempt to join the ranks of my fellow techy twenty-somethings in forming a blog and writing about, pretty much nothing of interest to anyone other than myself (and even I have trouble staying interested most of the time). If nothing else I will have one place for all my warped ideas and thoughts to go, since my purse will likely soon collapse under the weight of my collection of bad ideas that seemed like good ideas at the time written down on multiple sheets of scrap paper (have I yet revealed how un-techy I really am?).

I'm not really sure how all of this works, or why anyone would read this, but should you have accidentally stumbled upon my blog on your way to a site that is actually useful in some sense, I'll do my best to entertain you while you're here (er, if you're entertained by one girl's strange criticisms of life, politics (mostly office and sexual), pop culture and the world in general as she trys to maintain sanity and find her god-given purpose in the apparently god-forsaken urban jungle. Enjoy.