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What can I saw about the last three weeks in particular? They've sucked!

I've been put off work on stress leave. My depression and anxiety got to the point where they've just been unmanagable and I couldn't do my job any more. My grandfather had a heart attack, and there's nothing that can be done for him so we're essentially waiting on him to die. My grandmother (his wife) had pneumonia and had a heart attack a week after he had his. She's home, he's still in the hospital in Halifax.

Jessie James has gone to his final rest, and that was horrible. His skin condition acted up again, and was so severe that he had actually killed the blood vessels in his ears from the scratching. I felt so awful, and like such a traitor. He'd look at me with his big trusting eyes and my stomach would just churn on that last day because I knew what was about to happen to him. He had no idea. I know it was for the best, but it was still horrible knowing that when he went into that carrier and went to the clinic that he'd be expecting to come home again and that he wouldn't. I cried, hard. I curled up with him for a while in the afternoon and explained to him. He didn't understand, but it made me feel better just to say it out loud to him. Mom said he purred.

I've started counseling for my disorder, and I've been working my way through a book that's supposed to give me tools to help me deal with it. I'm learning a lot, and what it's teaching me so far makes sense. It's just going to take a lot of work and time to get through it.

Things have been tense here at home with everything that's been happening. There have been some pretty huge fights. Everyone's been pretty tense, but it looks like it's starting to get better now. I'm back to work next week and planing a trip to Ontario in June.

Tonight I was handy and did some insulating in my room and found a more energy efficient solution to leaving the kitchen light on all night.

Not really sure what else to say right now. I miss Jessie. I'm looking forward to getting some control over my disorder so I can function normally. I'm glad life is starting to fall back to normal and that I now have biweekly gaming to look forward to
I think I'm having one of those days with my mother. I just really have no patience with her today and she's getting on every one of my nerves. It starts when she calls me multiple times and I've already told her I'm coming. Maybe if she shut the TV off when she's not watching it and listened she'd hear me. And she's calling me for the stupidest thing: Rather than stop what she's doing, she has to call me to clear off a chair for her so she can sit while she gets her chowder ready. I mean, talk about lazy? She's right beside the bloody chair! But I suppose it's no different than sending my father or me to get her a drink, to take her dishes to the sink, to bring her the requested item of food because she's watching TV.

Then, while she's ranting on the phone, she throws a tantrum befitting a teenage girl, not a woman pushing 50. The dog and cat were having one of their moments, and the dog was growling and barking at the cat. Mom chases off the cat, but the dog follows and continues her performance. What does Mom do? Instead of putting down the phone so she can correct the dog, she continues to rant, removes her slipper and biffs it at the dog. She misses, hits the computer chair, and nearly knocks her glass candle tray off the coffee table. Brilliant, Mom! She'd have killed me if I had done such a thing.

The kitchen right now is full of tote bins she had hauled out last weekend while she worked at cleaning her room. They have not moved, and it's now very difficult to navigate the kitchen to take laundry up and down from the basement, to make meals or to do dishes. She, never doing much, if any of these things doesn't notice and doesn't care. She's just too lazy to finish what she started and too busy criticizing me.

She's driving Dad and I both crazy because now she's in the habit of treating us both like we're stupid. I blame BRenda, because she just laughs when Mom does it to her, but Dad and I are both tired of Mom telling us, point by point, how to do things around the house or how to run errands that we thirty times for every one time she does it. She's Chief of Everything, but won't do a god damned thing for herself. She's like the fucking queen ant, sitting in the middle of the nest and in her glory because she can send others scurrying to do her bidding so she can just sit and eat and watch trash television. I swear, I wish we could get rid of the fucking cable but then she'd just find something else to do. She'd go to bed at 7:00 to read, or spend all night on the phone.

Good grief but I wish I could get the hell out of here and away from her. I'm tired of her criticizing my weight, of how I handle stress, how I work around the house. I'm tired of always having ti pick up behind her and feeling more like the adult in the relationship while she's just a spoiled child. She's got no self control, and gets pissed when I give her a tough time when she's shopping over buying things that we don't need and should really be using the money towards something else. She goes to Sobeys daily because she thinks the meat is fresher, and she just buys whatever catches her eye. We have three unopened bottles of pasta sauce in the cupboard, and probably just as many partial and rotten ones in the fridge because we don't eat it that often!

Good gods, I'm not house keeper of the year, but my rented apartments were never, ever the mess of this house with three people living in it. And most days, Dad's just as bad as Mom is and I'm tired of feeling like I'm the only one who wants to make this house fit to live in. No wonder the fucking animals are sick. I feel like we're all living in filth.
You know, today had been shaping up pretty well. I felt good about today, because in a small way I had gotten a lot accomplished and did so yesterday, too. I even got to have a great time yesterday just hanging out with Aaron, but now it was the littlest thing that's set me off. I'm not... angry. That's not the word for it. But I am deeply resentful and fed up right now.

I've been really trying to get back into RPing again. Aaron and I started a board back in November, but I'm the only one who's done any work on it. I'm the only one doing any planning, and out of the four members who are on it, I'm the only one who makes a point of being on there daily and making sure no one's waiting a week for my post. And then I have a friend inform me tonight that he thinks the creators of the site are taking a stab at him and he won't join. Excuse me? I *am* the creator of the site. I mean, does he seriously think I'd ask him to join any sort of RP that was shooting off about him? Does he think I'd knowingly join something like that? Give me a little bit of credit here. And yes, I realize it's only an RP, and I don't care if he joins or not. But it feels like he's questioning my integrity, and that hurts. I'm better to my friends than that.

I've given up on Ben's game. He's stopped working on it, and really only seems interested in playing with his core group down there. I really don't want to feel like I'm in the reserves, and I really don't appreciate that he got so uptight when I talked to him about who I wanted to play with. Yes, I was pretty obstinate about it but I can also see when he's back peddling to try and get out of a mess. And now he's stopped working on it. Fine. Whatever. Like I want to drive to Antigonish once a week from Pictou just to be in the reserve group, the extras, and bring him Terry Pratchett novels. Not my idea of a good time.

I really want to be gaming again, but I'd love to do it without the bloody drama or without having to keep on people about whose turn it is. I'm tired of it. I have enough to do and to deal with without all of this bullshit, and I really don't want to get into a game for all of two months before people leave and it ends for the summer any way. I leave in September. Why would I bother?

And now I have people wanting me to go and try playing on their board. Ha! No. Not a fucking chance.

On Notice: Special CIGNA Edition!

10. "Dumb Bunny" Providers: You know them the minute they call. They sound bored? And everything, like, sounds like a question? You can just picture this girl (and it always is): She's petite, either just out of high school or some Business Institute that advertises medical office assistant courses on late night television. She's probably blond, and likely playing with her hair.

Sweet heart? Stop playing with your hair and pay attention. I'm not going to repeat myself four or five times because you're too interested in your hair, your magazine, or what's going on in the office. YOU called ME for information, because you needed it. Pay attention so we can both get off the phone and do more important things.

9."Bad Connection" Provider: Get off the cell phone. Don't use speaker phone. Move the headset away from your mouth. And for the love of the gods, get a new damn phone! I get just as tired of straining to hear you and asking you to repeat information as you are of giving it to me. It also doesn't help that you usually have a think Indian accent with your bad connection.

8. "Bitchy" Provider: Yeah. It's totally the high point of my day that I'm talking to someone like you. Again. I'm getting asked the same questions. Again. Having to explain why you're not getting paid. Again. The only difference is that I'm going to treat you like a fellow human being and not the the source of all of my frustration and misery. I don't process your claim, terminate your patient, enter the wrong information or create the benefits. I just read what's on the screen in front of me, and I'm very sorry you don't like it.

No, you can't speak to my supervisor. You being a bitch does not constitute an escalation, and they're going to tell you the exact same thing that I just did. And by the way, I totally half assed everything to do with this call because you were such an unpleasant cunt. Just so you know.

7. Impatient Provider: I'm so sorry that you're losing your patience. Maybe if you had filed the claim right the first fucking time we wouldn't have to be having this conversation. Better yet, why don't you come over here and I'll let you use my tools to figure out what went wrong yourself. Be my guest. It's not like I have more than a dozen different screens and programs that I have to consult to figure out who fucked up, how they fucked up, and who's fucked in the end. Go ahead. Pull an attitude with me and see where it gets you, and I'll give you a hint: You've just become a Bitchy Provider.

6. Responsibility Shirkers: You can be providers, but you're worse when you're agents. You asked for the free five's so you could go have a smoke. You asked to get off early so you could go finish your Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. You made the rest of us come in early so you could, and used your family as an excuse. You asked for an extra long lunch since you couldn't get off early, so you could go shopping then, or you were too slow and stupid.

And now you're blaming your trainer because you're not fucking trained? Fuck you. Hey, here's an idea: Maybe if you had asked the trainer during the down time to go over something, maybe we'd have done more. She's not going to want to push a group who doesn't want to do anything but complain and ask for time off.

5. System Issues: It's really hard to work quickly and effectively when the system itself won't work. The constant freezing and lagging indicates that the demands being placed upon the network can't be supported. Maybe it's time you fixed the issue? Maybe got in touch with the client and told them "Hey. With the current set up we have, we can't meet the demands we've agreed to. We either need to have fewer agents on, or we need some time to overhaul and fix."

But that'll cost money, and it looks big and bad up front, so you won't do that. We'll just lose money here and there and likely lose more in the long run with the crashes. Great! it gets me off the phone.

4. Claim Systems: You really couldn't be any more confusing if you were Gaelic translated into Chinese with the fucked up -not-really-letters symbols. If it were Japanese, it would be Gaelic kanji.

There really needs to be some sort of Rosetta Stone for these, because there are so many, and they don't make sense. Or maybe a map. There are probably six different ways of finding the same information between all of them, and the trick is to know when you need to find it. Do I know? Fuck no! I'll just sit here and mash buttons and scroll through screens. I'm sure I can obtain understanding through osmosis. The information will seep from the blinding lime green text through my bleeding eyes and into my brain. No problem. And while I'm at it, I'll cure cancer, HIV/AIDS, world hunger and create the Philosopher's Stone!

3. Stupid People: It's really an epidemic, and it applies to both agents and providers. But here's a tip: If it takes you four times as long as everyone else around you to finish up an activity, or to catch on to what you're doing; if you need the people around you to explain everything using small words and step by step; if you don't know how yo turn on your computer or bring up your systems, you're in the wrong job. Young or old, you gotta go.

2. Claims Training: If you know the training environment is no good, that agents typically need additional "Claims 101 training" after they finish their official training, why is nothing getting done about it? We can only g as fast as out slowest members, but shouldn't we be weeding out the slow and unfit so the rest of us have a chance of learning what we need to for the job? How about teaching your trainers some time management? It shouldn't take four weeks to do what 98% of the class could do in one. This isn't the "No Child Left Behind" program, for fuck sake.

Fix the damn program so that it's useful, so that we have the skills we need when we hit the floor and we at east have the confidence to know when we need to consult what tool.

And finally, the top of the list:

1. Convergeys: Fuck you. I mean, seriously? Fuck you. You have a group of 21 people who are uniformly unprepared and scarcely able to do the job with support, and you don't care. You've told us to "deal with it" and made our training the job of our manager. No. That's not fucking right. You want us to do a job? You get us the training we need to do it. I don't care about your fucking line adherence, get us some damn training and make damn sure it's adequate at this time. We can't do a fucking job without knowing how, and I'm personally tired of trying to pound puzzle pieces together to make them fit, when I really have no idea where they go.

Your line adherence is going to suffer more if you have 21 agents walk out of the building and never come back. Because that's what's happening, and that's what you deserve. The $9.whatever an hour we make isn't worth this shit. It's not worth providers screaming at us, disrespecting us, hanging up on us, and feeling incompetent. We were good agents before you did this to us.

Jan. 3rd, 2009

I've been reading Harry: A History as of late, and while it's a very energetic and informative account of the rise of the series and the phenomenon it generated, it makes me reflect back on my own experiences with the series, and more significantly, my resistance to it.

I can almost see myself in Wal-Mart with my mother and grandmother in the summer of 1999; I can hear my grandmother saying that she wanted to get me this book (which was in a large bin near the out-door entrance) because it had been all over the news. I was 15, and due to get my driver's license in the fall. I looked down at the cover in disgust. The dragon looked stupid. The book was obviously for children, and there was no way I was going to have *anything* to do with it. It wasn't Marvel, it wasn't X-Men, it wasn't my bag at all.

Over the next couple of years, my mother still kept bringing up the series. Barry, her boss, talked about it a lot. He was reading it to his daughters (whom I babysat), and he said it was really good. Still, I refused; it was a kid's book, and I was too old to read a kid's book. I think it was in late 2000, early 2001 that I watched part of a really strange cartoon on Space; it was an animated movie about rabbits from the 1970's and had this horribly gory and nightmarish scene where rabbits were being slaughtered by heavy construction machinery. I soon ordered the book from my local library, and fell in love with Watership Down. I also read a book of stories on the Knights of the Round Table, and because it was listed as being similar to Watership Down (or vice versa, if I recall correctly), I picked up The Lord of the Rings.

I was also really getting into D&D by this point, and felt I should probably read what seemed to be the defining piece of fantasy literature, so I sat down with Tolkien. I found him very long winded, and often boring, but I enjoyed the trilogy. I had finally been bitten by the fantasy bug and so, in the fall of 2001 and the beginning of my senior year, I finally gave in when my mother brought up the subject of Harry Potter. We were in Coles, and I grabbed a copy of Philosopher's Stone from the shelf. "Vaness," my mother said, "why don't you get this set of three?"

"Why would I spend that kind of money? If I don't like this one, I won't read the others," I had replied, but my mother won out and bought me a boxed set of soft covers for the first three books. Skeptically, I opened the cover of the first book and I immediately fell in love.

I connected with Harry from the very beginning; I shared in his misery at being teased, for being made to feel different and worthless and undesirable. I had spent the last seven or eight years being teased or alienated by classmates who would have been very much at home in Dudley's Gang. I shared his frustration when Uncle Vernon with-held his letters, and I can remember wanting to beat the man with a kitchen chair. When I left home on September 1st, 2002 to begin my first year at St. F. X., I tried to bolster my confidence by reassuring myself it was just like Harry leaving for Hogwarts. And it was.

I can remember in the early years sitting in Moe's or Mini Moe's for hours with Ben, or Jon, or both talking about the books. I can remember that Wednesday Night at the Inn before they introduced Wing Night, just after supper, splitting a pitcher of beer with them and Jon, jokingly saying, "Hey! You should write a thesis on Harry Potter!" At first I had laughed, said I couldn't, but the discussion quickly turned to "Why couldn't I?" Thus an idea was born.

The series is over now, but it's still making big waves. Last year as a TA, my students couldn't stand the thought of Shakespeare, wouldn't read and were less likely to discuss the material they needed to for class, but mention Harry Potter and they got really animated. That they had read, that they wanted to discuss, and it amazed them that I had actually done an undergraduate thesis on it. Now, I'm considering teaching, and part of that decision is based around Harry. I can be putting Harry, or books like these, into the hands of young readers. I can reach them while they're young, while they're still open and give them a love for literature and learning that could last the rest of their lives. I graduated with people who would very proudly tell you they had never read a book in its entirety in their lives, but that's not going to be so with the Potter generation. These books have opened a flood gate, not only for teachers who want to make learning fun, but for getting kids to switch off the TV and use their imaginations.

I think it could also have a tremendous impact of Academia. Shakespeare, Milton, Spencer, Austin... They're dead literature, from a dead era, and I really think that they've been exhausted. What can a new academic possibly say that hasn't already been said before and not get poo poo'd upon by their fellows? It's pretty limited, unless they start making references to popular culture. Harry Potter, while popular culture, is also Literature, and I don't hesitate to use the capital 'L' here. Rowling has done extensive research to put together an amazingly imaginative world and to tell a universally engaging story. Harry's story speaks to something in the very basic human existence, mush in the same way that Shakespeare's plays were so universally loved. After all, wasn't his work simply pop culture of a bygone era? Why does an author have to be dead before his or her work is considered "Literature" up on the Hill? Harry's is a living literature, and the evolution of the story has led to an evolution in its discussion among academics. There's room for a newbe to wade in tot he thick of things, to introduce new ideas and arguments, and there's also room for the author herself to help share and reshape these discussions. This isn't something like The Da Vinci Code, which was a blip and made a big splash. Harry does something more.

It's exciting to know that in my small way, I'm a part of this revolution and it's phenomenal to know that I'll get to watch and see how it all pans out.

Happy New Year!

It's night like last night that really make me wonder if maybe I shouldn't be getting a life. New Year's Eve, biggest party night of the year, and what am I doing? I'm in my pajamas by 8 o'clock, reading Goblet of Fire, and watching Shrek 2. I was asleep at midnight when the new year hit. I celebrated by having one beer.

The province is celebrating with a blizzard, and it's a bad one. The snow started last night some time between ten and eleven and hasn't stopped. It's supposed to keep up all day today and into tomorrow, so I'm hoping I can get up tomorrow, call in storm stayed and then go back to bed. It sounds like a good plan to me.

It does mean I'll miss another day at the gym. I finally got my membership, and I've been doing pretty well so far about going. I'm building up slowly and working on setting up a routine. I'm hoping by the end of the month to be spending an hour there at least five days a week, doing a combination of cardio and weights.

Today I've spent writing and enjoying my new contacts. My eyes look awesome with the new colour, and I will definitely buy these again. They were cheap enough, and came in less than 24 hours from BC. it's exciting. I'll try and get some pics posted of them later on.

Happy New Year, folks!

OMFG!

Okay, so it was probably one of my soppier ideas to actually send an email to Terry Pratchett. I've never sent fanmail before, and I'm not sure why I felt now was the time to start, but I did. I drafted the letter months ago, and decided this weekend to send it email rather than snail mail. My letter reads as follows:

"Dear Mr Pratchett,
I have no doubt that you receive any unthinkable number of fan letters on a daily basis, telling you how much people have enjoyed your work. While I can easily be numbered among that ever-growing group of individuals, my hope is not to write that kind of letter. While I have enjoyed (immensely, and perhaps indecently) your books I’ve taken so much more from them, and for that I owe you my honest and heartfelt thanks.

I’ve always loved reading, so it surprises me that it took me so long to find your books. It was a very dear friend who introduced me to The Colour of Magic and sparked my love affair with the Discworld. It’s proven to me that good friends share jokes and common interests with you, but best friends share good literature. I had no idea, when I opened the first page of that book, what this friend had introduced me to.

Since I read my first Discworld novel, I’ve found myself in some very dark places. While my family and friends were always wonderful in their support, more often than not I found myself reaching for you, for one of your books; not because they offered an escape, but because somewhere in those pages so eagerly read I knew I would find wisdom and guidance. If nothing else, they taught me that nothing was too great to over come. I may not have always laughed myself silly during these times, but at least you helped me find a smile and most days that was enough. So thank you.

Thank you for Sam Vimes, who’s shown me how to get things done in the face of adversity, and for Carrot who’s taught me the importance of looking for the good in people. Thank you for Granny Weatherwax, who’s taught me the importance of knowing myself, and For Nanny Ogg and her lust for life and everything that comes with it. I think I’ve found the most of myself in these two, and if I can be half the witch that either one of them are I’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Thank you for the Nac Mac Feegle. I can’t say I’ve learned much from them, but they’ve allowed me to do a Masters degree without taking myself too seriously and getting too tangled in “Academia;” they’ve let me hold on to what’s fun. Thank you for wisdom of both Death and the Librarian; it only makes sense for Death to be so profound, but it’s been a pleasant surprise to discover the many nuances behind the syllables of “Ook” and “Eek.” In a way, I think the Librarian has lead me towards what I really want to do in life, and once I become a similar librarian (barring becoming an ape, I hope) I have every intention of keeping a plush orangutan handy on my desk to remind me of that, and to remind me to defend my books from miscreants.

I could spend pages thanking you for what you’ve given me in writing these books, but I think you get the general idea. You’ve changed my life, so thank you for being the wonderfully creative and insightful man that you are. While it is my fondest dream to one day meet you, to breathe the same air just as one of my shyer friends once did at a convention in Scotland, I somehow doubt it will come to be. So instead, I’ll settle for writing this, and hoping that someday you’ll read this, smile, think “She’s crazy!”, and then have a laugh. If I can give that much back for all you’ve given me, it would be enough."

I just got an email back from his publishing agent, to whom I had to send the email, reading thus:

"Thanks for your email for Terry - I've forwarded it to him. I hope he reads it - his backlog of email is horrific - and with luck you may get a reply, although he's said that his choice is either answering emails and letters or writing the next book, Unseen Academicals. Given that he hears, as it were, the Alzheimer's clock ticking, completing the book is his chief priority.

Best wishes

Colin Smythe"

TERRY PRATCHETT IS GOING TO READ MY EMAIL OMGF!!!!

Am I excited? Beyond. And now I know what he's working on! It makes me feel like I'm getting inside information, and that makes me feel special. I'm beyond excited that I've even had the email acknowledged. Score!

Maybe I should start writing more fanmail. See who else I get a response from. We'll see what happens, I guess, and take it from there.
Well, here it is Christmas and I wish I could say things have improved. I've seen kristen, heard her amazing news and I'm so happy for her! Things here at home have been... not so great and I guess they're finally getting to me.

We've all been really touchy lately and it's gotten to the point that I can't sleep at night now. It's just solid nightmares or just really weird dreams where I'm running and I can't get away. I woke up this morning from one where a man had actually chased me into a bathroom stall in a mall and I almost couldn't lock myself in to get away from him. I was sobbing in the dream and I woke up with my heart pounding and couldn't get back to sleep. And the worst part is that I can't figure out just what it is that's bothering me so much.

And I'm constantly snapping at or bickering with one of my parents, so that doesn't help. We've had a good Christmas; gifts were lovely, we were all together, all safe, and all healthy, but I haven't enjoyed a moment of it which is really sad. Mom's been trying to coax me into the spirit, trying to get me excited and I can't muster up even an effort.

It's so bad that I honestly don't know what to do with my Christmas money. I want to get new things, but I don't want to spend the money... I want to put it away and save it for later, but then I can't buy anything. I'm just an indecisive mess right now and it's not really very much fun. I think it's time to try and fix the problem internally and then see if I can't work on some external problems.

Goods news: I've got the form I need to get my gym membership, and now all I have to do is pop down to the Y. They even have a student special on right now, so I'll have that going by the end of the weekend and be on the way to getting myself back into something resembling shape. And it'll give me a way to work off my frustration and stress instead of letting it all just... loom the way it does. Maybe then I can sleep.
http://www.ryangarns.com/archives/article_102508.php

You know, it's not often that I agree with fundamentalist Christians, but in this case I do. I agree that we should have a legal definition of Christmas. I also believe that I, as a Pagan, should be given my holiday back and Christians should be required to surrender everything they've "adapted" into their Christian celebrations. It's only fair, since they want a "pure" celebration.

They can start by giving back the date. Christ was born in October, not December. Christmas was celebrated in December to offset both the Saturnalia and the solstice celebrations the Pagans held. The rebirth of the sun was celebrated, as were the births of such gods as Mithras. It was a solar celebration, and many Pagan myths place the birth of a son of one god or another around the solstice. So please, celebrate the birth of Christ on his actual birthday.

Next, I want the tree back. That's right, I want the Christmas tree back. Pagans used to bring live trees into the home for the winter to keep the spirit inside them warm. They were decorate with bells that would jingle whent he spirit was awake and active. It brought good luck.

I want the misteltoe back, the sacred plant of the druids.

The partying and gifts are part of the Saturnalia, the feasting and drinking went on for two weeks. So I guess we can take back the carols, since no one actually sang at the birth of Christ. You can keep your gifts, because I suppose the Wise Men brought those. But weren't they Pagan, too? They were from the far East. There weren't Jews in the far East.

I'd like back Christmas dinner, since that's from the Saturnalia.

So are the lights. Return of the sun. Sympathetic magical practice dictates that fires, candles, and lamps remind the sun of its job at this time of year.

The Yule log is ours. I'd like that back, too. It's traditionally a piece of the May Pole, which is part of a Pagan fertility rite.

The term "Yule" is ours. I want that back.

I think that leaves these fundamentalists with the term "Christmas," and church service. It can be as lively or as sober as is deemed appropriate. I mean, it's only fair, isn't it? They don't want anyone "adapting" their holy day, so why should they get to do it to anyone else's? While we're at it, they should probably give up the Easter Bunny, Easter Eggs, Halloween, St. Bridgets Day... There's a lot of them.

I mean, they don't want us heathen Pagans fouling up their celebrations. Why should they be able to trample and warp anyone else's?

OH! And the kicker? Since we want a pure celebration... I'm taking back Santa Claus.

Suck it, fundies. Get off my planet.