Brave new frontiers

It’s 4:30am. Still sleepless. Took some garbage to the garbage shute and decided to give B a taste of freedom (without having to worry about the elevator door opening and him disappearing off into the scary, big world). We walked one way — he kept checking to make sure I was still there. Then we went back the other way, past the apartment door a few feet. I think the whole thing was a little overwhelming to him and he hissed softly every now and then.

Frontiers are scary places, Boo.


Ring, ring, ring

Tried desperately to avoid going to sleep this morning. I have so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it this week. My own fault for procrastinating on some of the tasks. At some point, I drank a 5-hour Energy in order to try to stay awake long enough to at least finish some of what I had to do. It would have worked nicely except that Iwas so beyond tired when I drank it that what I ended up with is a semi-alert brain but eyes that just couldn’t focus properly on anything, which is a little pointless.

Finally gave in and was going to go to bed at about 9:30am but my parents called (they never call at that time of day — I’m not sure why they did today). Then other calls came in, and it ended up being about noon-ish before I finally tried to go to sleep. The phone kept ringing every half hour or less (telemarketers can be so persistent). I can’t turn it off because I’m job hunting — I need to get calls about potential jobs without delay because, in the world of contract work, timing is everything. I finally got up at about 3:30pm for a call I actually had to take. And now I’m so tired I feel nauseous.

I really need to work harder on maintaining a regular sleep schedule. This is going to kill me.

The Me Project 2.0: Week 7 begins

For some reason, I’m having a terrible allergic reaction to something yesterday and today — I have some hives breaking out on my upper arms and legs, and I am sneezing up a storm. I would swear I’d missed taking my antihistamines but I haven’t.

Was very briefly sleeping a normal schedule but that went out the window in the last couple of weeks during the push to release the Joomla site. Now my internal clock is screwed up — here it is 7am and I have been up since about noon on Sunday. Not good. I’ve also bitten all my nails again. So, “backsliding” is the word to describe the last few weeks. But not this one. Nosirree, bub.

Have decided to try to follow a semi-vegetarian diet. Actually, technically I’ve decided to follow a more natural, less processed diet, which conveniently enough happens to be mostly-vegetarian. I’m not prepared to start eating tofu at this time, but I want to try to cut out the heavily processed foods I’ve been eating. Had a bad hypoglycemic attack yesterday because I’d been too busy working on a site to eat properly. (Contrary to popular belief, peanut M&Ms, while chock full of peanutty protein goodness, do not help balance your blood sugar. I know — it surprised me, too. Next thing you know, they’ll decide that chocolate isn’t one of the major food groups and refined sugar is bad for you.)

I’ve also decided to try to cut back on (back on, I said, not out) the cheese (OMG did I write that out loud???) and other foods, like orange juice, that make me phlegmy. I’m hoping that will help clear up some of the problems I’ve been having lately as a result of my allergies. My digestive tract will probably be happy about the cheese thing as well — I’m mildly lactose intolerant. Also, though I don’t eat much of it, I’m going to try to give up tomato sauce — my body has never tolerated tomatoes well. So, no pizza, no cheesy/tomatoey pasta. I can feel my colon singing out in anticipated relief as I write. (No, you don’t want to know what a singing colon feels like.)

I’d like to say I’m going to start this right away, but I refuse to waste the food I’ve already bought. So, I will finish up the food I’ve got on hand and just try not buy any more to replace it when I next get groceries.

Breaking into freelancing

The hard part about freelancing is finding the clients. Freelance marketplaces like oDesk,, and eLance can be good sources of freelance jobs if you put in the time and energy to figure them out. Main pro? These marketplaces offer a worldwide pool of jobs where your geographic location is generally not an issue. Main con? You’re competing with a worldwide pool of freelancers, many of who can bid very low because they live in countries where the standard of living is lower than it is here and an hourly wage that is smaller than Canadian minimum wage is still considered lucrative.

Getting hired for posted jobs is a twist on the typical “how do you get experience if no one will hire you” Catch-22 — to be hired, you generally need a reputation within that marketplace as a good worker, but to get that good reputation, you first need to be hired.

I’ve been trying off and on over the last month or so to break into the freelancing world at one of these marketplaces. Unfortunately, even buyers who claim they want native English writers with top writing skills will still sacrifice some (perhaps even a lot of) language quality for a lower bid. (Reminds me of a previous employer who insisted that 80 or 90% accurate was good enough for our user guides — “it’s only words”, after all.) Today, I received an interview invitation for one of the jobs I’d bid on, writing a wiki-based help system. I believe I’ve actually been given the job (I say believe because it still says I’m in interview status, despite the buyer saying we were going ahead with the project). It doesn’t pay a great deal — about $350 CDN — but I knew that going in. The reputation that the successful completion of this job will give me is so much more important in the long run than the money earned. I consider it the same kind of investment as working on that Joomla site I just launched — that was resume fodder, this is reputation fodder.

RIP Jade Goody

I hadn’t realized that Jade had finally succumbed to the cancer she’d been fighting. It’s sad in a way I’m not sure I can articulate. It’s always sad when a young mother dies, but the controversy of her life makes this more tragic, much like Anna Nicole Smith’s life and death.

If you’ve never heard of Jade Goody, I don’t blame you. She was a contestant on UK Big Brother 3 several years, a working class girl with a brash demeanor. She parlayed her  appearance into the kind of sad but relatively lucrative B-list career that only reality television can bestow on someone.

I never saw her in her original Big Brother appearance. My first taste of Jade Goody was when she, her mother, and her boyfriend entered the house for Celebrity Big Brother 5. Both she and her mother were rough but somehow likeable. I stopped watching the show when it became clear that both of them were going to be hung out to dry over racism allegations. I stopped watching not because I believe that they were genuinely racist but because they were being villified for their ignorance and poor upbringing. It was no surprise to me that Shilpa Shetty, the subject of the so-called racist bullying, ultimately won Celebrity Big Brother that year. A mob mentality took over that made sure that everyone believed that Shilpa Shetty was pure as the driven snow and Jade Goody was the Devil incarnate. It made the circus that is Big Brother even more of a farce.

It wasn’t until today, while reading Russell Brand’s blog, that I learned that Jade had died. Russell described my thoughts on the whole Big Brother situation well:

As I said at the time, the incident where Shilpa Shetti was poorly treated by a group of young women was not an example of the sickening scourge of racism but simply a daft lack of education. Jade was a tough girl but utterly lacking in the malice upon which true prejudice depends. The slick of spilled newspaper ink and the cathode conveyed H-bomb that followed this innocuous event was the real crime. Jade was made the focus of a debilitating wave of righteous loathing and condemnation, a gleefully indignant storm of trumped up wrath that served the cause of racial harmony not one iota; but that was never it’s intention. The intention was sacrifice.

As always, Russell, thanks for saying what others shy away from saying.

Good News Fairy on Nicoderm?

I was going to write about how I’d feared that the Good News Fairy had been laid off. (The economy affects everyone, it seems. I’ve heard rumours that the Tooth Fairy has started leaving dental hygiene literature for the kiddies instead of cold, hard cash. Tsk, tsk. Times, they is hard. )

Today, I learned she was just out buying a patch so that she wouldn’t have to keep going out for a smoke when I needed her most. Good on ya, doll. 

The grey area surrounding how EI was going to treat my pension transfer value has finally been resolved, and the news is indeed good. So, I’ll be able to pay my taxes. (Darned self-employment.) And I appear to not owe nearly as much for taxes as I thought I would. So, there’s something left over to pay my bills while I resume job hunting — the job that was supposed to start at the end of the month now may or may not start in mid-April instead, and I no longer have faith that it will materialize in time to be of any use to me. Started actively applying for other jobs today, and things seemed to start shifting into gear in my head after that. (It’s called “getting out of a rut”.)

The Joomla site that I was working on is finished, just ongoing maintenance tweaking and additional content to add over the coming weeks/months. (That’s why I haven’t posted in the last couple of days — been working around the clock, literally, to launch the new site. It was received well, which helps my mood.) I’ve also started to clear some other things that have fallen by the wayside recently. And I get my hair done tomorrow, something that usually makes me feel slightly less old and haggard.

A little melancholia

A friend of mine sent me links to several tributes to Nova Scotia on Youtube. Now I find myself feeling a little homesick.

I was born in Nova Scotia and, with the exception of three years spent on Vancouver Island in the 70s, lived the first 30 years of my life there. For the last ten of those 30, I lived and worked in Halifax*, the city where I was born. I clung to the city, even in the face of soul-sucking layoffs and emotional beatings. I dug my heels in, refusing to give in or give up, but ultimately Halifax broke me physically, mentally, and financially. 

I don’t miss Halifax.

But I was surprised to realize that I do still really miss Nova Scotia. I miss small town, country Nova Scotia.  I miss the people, the rolling hills, the pervasive smell of salt air and fish along the waterfronts, the rocky shoreline littered with blue mussel shells and quartz, the tourism and tourists, the fog, the history, the lupins everywhere along the highways (“Your lupins or your life.“)

South Shore field South Shore sunset Scarlet Letter set

I especially miss the cold North Atlantic. (Aren’t you supposed to freeze your butt off swimming in the Summer?) 

South Shore waves

It feels wrong to not live near the ocean. My parents used to live in the country, in a house right by the ocean. It was blissful to visit them there, waking up to the ocean practically lapping at the back door, going to sleep to the sound of the groaner buoy at the mouth of the bay. Now they live in the city that tried to kill me, the city where all of my siblings live, and I find it hard to muster the enthusiasm to visit any of them there. 

So goes the conflict.

* This was pre-amalgamation, when “Halifax” really meant Halifax proper, not the Halifax Regional Municipality. I don’t really know or recognize the new mega city. Mind you, I could say the same for the Ottawa metaplex, which came into being after I moved up here.

People quick off the mark

I was at Billings Bridge today and was surprised to see that People magazine had already published an issue featuring the death of Natasha Richardson. Holy crap! She was only officially declared dead on Wednesday. That’s some pretty fast magazine tweaking, even for them. Can  you picture the madhouse their offices were as they scrambled to change things around to include that story?

Get a grip

*Still* haven’t gotten the actual contract for the job I’m supposed to be starting on March 30. Seriously? It’s supposed to start in a little over a week and I still feel like I’m being dangled out of a window. The fact that I haven’t gotten the paperwork yet tells me that they’re still waffling about the start date, which ticks me off more than a little. Unfortunately, I seem to have a lost a grip on myself when this whole shillyshallying thing started. I *should* have been actively looking for something else and just taking care of the things I need to take care of, but instead I seem to have slipped back into the arms of clinical depression, which isn’t manifesting itself as sadness but rather is manifesting itself as avoidance and apathy. Sad (or even SAD) depression might be better. I’m getting nothing at all accomplished.

I need to shake it off and get my shit together. I haven’t been outside in the daylight in so long — maybe I just need some natural vitamin D to perk me up. Tomorrow is supposed to be nice so I think I’ll head outside.

In the blink of an eye

A few years ago, a blog I read occasionally suddenly began documenting the unexpected illness and tragic death of the blogger’s young wife. It was a heartbreaking glimpse into the kind of earth shattering changes your life can undergo in the span of moments.

You rarely hear about that kind of event in the lives of the ordinary Joe, probably for the best.  Celebrities, unfortunately, live them out in full view of everyone, for better or for worse.

I was sad to learn this morning that one of my favourite actresses, Natasha Richardson, was injured yesterday in a fall during a ski lesson at Mont Tremblant. Speculation had already started by early this morning that she was brain dead, and it seems everyone has theories as to how it happened and where to place blame.

Confirmation of her death came only within the last hour or so.

RIP Natasha, my thoughts are with your family. I hope the press gives them the privacy they need to grieve.