Friday, January 31, 2003

Digital camera has arrived (hooray!) and it's high time I spruced this page up a bit with new song lists and all that. But I refuse to do *anything* until this bloody cold snap finishes - it's actually verging on Canada-Cold! That was not part of the bargain...

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Mmmm. Nothing like an Aero chocolate bar at 4 pm. Out of the dozens of brands that landed in my eager shopping bag every trick-or-treating year, Aero is the definitive taste of Hallowe'en to me. Too bad they didn't have Aero Dark back then! Which reminds me, I must write to Nestle and ask what's happened to it...

I got an email from my friend Sheila (pictured a few posts below) last night, letting me know that a parcel I'd sent to her in NYC last week had arrived. And once again, despite not having talked about specific musical favourites for ages our lives are running in some freaky parallel universe. Kind of like those twins who were adopted separately and met up years later to find out they're both doctors, both have a wife named Betty and love model trains, but much cooler of course.

And here's why. Included on the cd I sent was "everything she said" by t.A.T.u., "heaven" by DJ Sammy and "Something" by Lasgo. Sheila told me that she's a) already obsessed with the t.A.T.u album and b) DJ Sammy and Lasgo were two of her favourite songs over the summer. I need a partner in crime when it comes to secret pop chart pleasures so I was thrilled! While in years before eurodance hits didn't always make it across the pond, that's obviously changed.

She also told me that she loves Tok Tok vs. Soffy O and Annie since her friend Jason plays them in the car all the time. They run a delivery service, so good music to help them deal with NYC traffic is a must. Just thinking about them blaring my cd while running designer furniture around Manhattan makes me smile.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Monday - classic or dud?

Pros:

1. I'm still on a buzz from hearing one of my songs on the Metropolitan Soul show last night (thanks Simon!) (p.s. it broadcasts on the net on various Sundays from 7-9 pm via Soul 24-7.

2. After a tip last week, today at lunch I found a secretive post office near my voluntary work that will make sending parcels a snap. No more evil queues!

Cons:

1. I am still half asleep.

2. The idiot couriers lost my digital camera and I've had to spend ages today getting a new one sent to me at work instead.

3. The Monday morning bus situation was worse than usual, with about 10 people wanting to buy weekly passes at each stop.

4. It's grey and eerily still outside, which makes me want to go back to sleep even more.

Verdict: not the worst ever, but you can still bring on Tuesday...

Thursday, January 23, 2003

And by the way...

The bf's sister just had a baby. 7 lbs and something oz. I sense a trip to Daisy & Tom...

So yes. I am over the flu, but unfortunately my bank balance didn't recover with me. It's so incredibly boring to be well but skint - so I'll just have to live vicariously through my favourite blogs. Like David's night out yesterday - excellent!

On the plus side my new Fuji digital camera can be picked up on Saturday thanks to a company I won't name, but you scramble 'em for breakfast. I switched our mortgage cover to them since the premium is the same, but they threw in the camera as a bonus. Which means more pics for my blog, a much easier way to sell stuff on eBay and more spontaneity.

And my record player should be arriving any day now, thanks to a bargain off eBay (where else?) It's been *awful* not being able to play my vinyl. I love cds, but most of my favourite records are 7" singles (not to mention that my girl group boys gave me piles of singles last time I was in London, and I haven't even been able to listen to them yet!)

It's been a funny month. I felt really mopey this morning after a particularly gruelling session with my advice guidance tutor. Maybe it was just a sense of release after working like mad to catch up on my modules after the flu bug, but it's also really hard to sit there while someone grades all your work in front of you for two hours. I was completely exhausted afterwards! I'm quite the pro on benefit calculations now though - not that I can claim any, but if anyone needs some help...

And yeah, I know I'm rambling -but this is what spending four hours every afternoon in your office/morgue does to you.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Cold Calling Hell

For the last three months or so, I've been pretty much forced to take on a project at my part time job that involves what is basically cold calling. It's not sales, but it may as well be. I follow up mailshots on grants to see if the company qualifies and is vaguely interested. Although some people are fine, I've had enough difficult calls to really make me stressed. As in guys calling me "sweetheart" or being spoken to like dirt by someone's PA. It's gotten to the point where I will do anything - ANYTHING - to put off picking up the phone. Just thinking about it now makes my stomach churn. The worst part is that when I took the job, the spec actually had "no phone work" on it. But when I was asked to take it on, I felt obliged to say yes since I was pretty new. A month in, I asked for a meeting and tried to explain that it was stressing me out. I got sympathetic nods and an offer of extra support, but when I brought up the fact that my job spec actually said "no phone work" they conveniently ignored that part of the conversation. It didn't help when another manager freaked when he found out I was having to do the calls, and told me in no uncertain terms that he thought they were passing the buck.

Today, I did some web research on cold calling psychology but all I could find were horrible sales websites or people trying to flog their book on the subject. It seems to be described as an irrational fear that should be overcome. Hello, what about people who just aren't good at it? I mean, there's a reason I never took on a call centre job. It was bad enough when I had to try to sell sponsorship packages for a BBC awards ceremony at my last job, but this could go on for months.

I don't know what to do. It's probably not very cool to refuse to do work, but I feel like saying "Look...I've tried, but it's still causing me a great deal of stress. Give me anything to do, I don't care. I'll type 'til I'm blue in the face and book travel until the cows come home, but please don't make me do these calls anymore." Should I put my foot down about the job spec again? Should I call the agency who found me the job and have them intervene? After all, they did tell me to let them know if there was ever a problem - but six months later might not be what they had in mind. There's the other problem that I made a verbal commitment of a year, but that was before this came along. If I were apply for another job and get it (which is what I feel like doing at the moment) and was honest about my reasons, I'm worried about my reference. If it came to it, would it look awful if I just had a six month gap on my CV? I could always say I was a student I guess...

And how do I keep landing in these weird situations? Sheesh. All I wanted was a basic part-time admin job to go along with my studies. I guess it just goes to show that nothing is ever simple, no matter how hard you try.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Buy yourself the real thing on 27th January, but if you haven't downloaded the forthcoming Tok Tok vs. Soffy O album off Win MX yet - do it now. It's amazing and you really can't spend the next 10 days without it. Honest.

Friday, January 17, 2003

I've now been ill for one week and three days. I can tell I'm getting better, although I just can't seem to completely shake a cough that has me running out of the office all day because I'm conscious of irritating my co-workers.

But more to the point, *why* wouldn't my doctor see me? I know you're not supposed to go to the doctor when you've got a cold, but surely when it's been more than a week and you're not feeling any better, you might have cause for concern and/or a belief that it's time to pop some pills. Back in Canada, I was practically drug-free compared to lots of my friends, who seemed to go on antibiotics for the slightest thing and were always seeing their doctor. Here, it's like pulling teeth just to get your GP to see you.

Last year, I got a similar bug. A week or so later, I was having coughing fits that nearly made me faint and everyone insisted I needed to see a doctor. The problem was I hadn't registered anywhere yet. Three years in the UK and no major illness meant it was always on my list of to-do-eventually. I thought I could just pop into my local clinic and see someone, like the drop in clinics I was used to. But despite the fact that I was a local resident and had been there for three years, the clinic said they weren't obliged to put me on the register. They didn't seem to care that I was about to pass out in their reception, nor could they tell me where I should go instead. I nearly burst into tears. Finally the bf mentioned that he was already registered there - as we lived together, did that make any difference? Apparently it did, and I was given an emergency appointment.

This year, it was even worse. I didn't call my GP until after a week because I didn't think I ought to, but when I did, I was told I couldn't get an appointment until next week. So I put my foot down... and got a phone call from my GP the next day for a phone diagnosis. She brushed off all my concerns and said that as long as I wasn't showing ALL and not just *some* symptoms of a chest infection, there was no point in seeing me. She didn't even recommend an over-the-counter remedy that might help me out. Luckily I'm feeling better - but what would happen if it turned into bronchitis or pneumonia? I just don't get their dismissive, negative attitude.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Having a bad day at work? Then read this thread on ILE (I love everything) about stupid co-workers.

Still ill. Can you believe it?

I was watching The Box this morning with my latte, as I normally do. Bless me if I didn't see a video by Lucy Carr. Now, there's nothing special about the song, which is your typical hi-nrgy fest with our blonde walking around with her lap dog. But quite a long time ago, Popbitch featured Miss Carr's website since she is Peter Stringfellow's girlfriend. Unfortunately, her original site is gone and has been replaced with video clips and slick photos. What a shame! The former site was fantastic and included pages like "How to lapdance for your husband" and scads of point 'n shoot photos of Lucy with all the "celebs" that came to Stringfellows, such as "Me & Curly Watts" (err, his real name's Kevin Kennedy...)

Oh well. At least the diary section of the site is still a good laugh, where you can read about Lucy slogging it out in crap clubs in Stockport and Dundee in an effort to place her single this week.

Friday, January 10, 2003

I'm still really ill with the Flu That Has Become A Cold. And incredibly annoyed about it. Anyhow, here are a couple of photos from the Spectropop party... they were taken by my friend Sheila (pictured below) and I hope she doesn't mind me using them! It's just that mine didn't turn out very well (note to self - don't use 200 ASA film indoors...)



Sheila and Elisabeth




The Actionettes and Elisabeth

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Tonight I'm on my own, so I've been replying to a backlog of emails and trawling round my favourite websites. Browsing through the selection on brian's site, I decided to download a Tracey Ullman mp3 ("They don't know") and instantly fell in love with it all over again. In fact, I've been playing it non-stop all night. It came out in 1984 and I knew it at the time ( I would have been about 9) but I don't remember paying attention to her after that. And I never did like her TV show, even if it was the birthplace of the Simpsons. But the harmonies, crashing piano and the bit where she sings "Baby!" after the instrumental in the middle is enough for me. So I did a bit of research on her discography and hello! Look at how many girl group or 60s songs she's covered. In a way, she did what I'm doing at the moment, except for the small difference that she made a career out of it. Heh. But what a list! Breakway (Jackie DeShannon), Move over darling (Doris Day), Little by little (Dusty), Long live love (Sandie Shaw), Helpless (Kim Weston)... I should really give people more credit. Or not base my opinions on what I thought at age nine.

Speaking of which, my cd is ready. It was done more as a souvenir/promotional item for the Spectropop party, so we're keeping it low key. But you want a copy, just email me and we can figure something out. It's got six songs, all of 'em girl groupy goodness and the cover art features stills from Up The Junction.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Well, the flu has set in after all, so I'm at home recovering and doing some virtual window shopping on eBay. Although I'm completely broke after christmas, new year and my trips to London, I still really, *really* want this:



I've never seen it before! But don't worry - with a £30 starting price, I'm just going to drool over the jpg instead. Besides, the colours clash with my living room. Or so I keep telling myself...

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

I'm back, and will have pictures to post soon. The Spectropop party was absolutely brilliant! Of course, the problem with having a fantastic weekend is having to face reality again. But it's been particularly trying this time...

Sunday night, we roll back in from London. I'm a bit mopey as I really wanted to stay there a bit longer, which has to be a first for me! It's *freezing* in Manchester and the bf curses when he spots the frost-covered car, which will take 15 minutes to scrape off in the morning. The house is also freezing. Walking around the house, I discover kitty puke in several places. (On Monday, we discover that the mystery "Pukeahontas" is poor Charlotte, since she's been ill a few times since then.) Thank goodness we have hardwood floors. We freeze and grumble while we clean everything up. I can't sleep for ages because I'm still wired from the journey.

Monday is a struggle from lack of sleep and feeling out of routine. After work, I rush to the post office depot to collect a parcel but miss the stop, so I have to get off and cross the road to catch a bus in the other direction. As I near the bus stop, two scally lads there actually SPIT at me. Ugh! So I keep walking and it all takes me much longer than I'd planned. Lovely Manchester. No, make that lovely Whalley Range. Later on that night, I wanted to play all my new girl group records which were gifts from the party. But the record player, which has been acting up for months now, wheezed a few breaths before officially dying. None of our little tricks would get it going again. It couldn't have happened at a worse time. The plan is to invest in some Technics somewhere down the road, but it's just not possible right now. So now we're trying to scout out a cheap replacement or loan.

This morning, the toilet backed up (it wasn't nasty, thank goodness!) and this afternoon, I can feel myself getting a cold or flu because I keep coughing.

Can it be Friday now please?

Friday, January 03, 2003

I want pierogies!

eye magazine reviews my favourite Polish restaurant in Toronto, Staropolska. Bring on the borscht! Their red and white sign was right at eye level from the streetcar as you headed for Dundas West station...

Thursday, January 02, 2003

Don't you just hate stealth stress? Oy vey.

I haven't mentioned this yet I think, but on Saturday I'm performing again at the next London Spectropop party. This time, we were hoping to have cds of the songs recorded during my pre-christmas session ready in time for the record table. This has turned out to be more complicated than I had ever wanted it to be. First of all, I feel guilty that Phil has been trying to finish the mixes while juggling party arrangements, actual clients and holiday guests. But worst of all, I think I've managed to insult the friend of a friend who agreed to design a sleeve. I would have done it myself, but I've still not managed to get Quark running on the new computer (incompatible keyboard, apparently) so my other choices are AOLesque programmes loaded with dorky flowery/theatrical mask templates. To make a long story short, a mountain of crossed wires has resulted in having to scrap the design (the image wasn't right) and me having to use cruddy ol' MS Publisher to whip something together since our volunteer hasn't got time to make changes. But what really bothers me is that he now probably thinks I'm a fussy, ungrateful cow. Sigh. Maybe if I ply him with drink on Saturday, he'll forgive me.

*And* my new deadstock go go boots, an eBay christmas present from the bf, haven't turned up yet so I might have to resort to Outfit B.

I know, I know...my priorities are really shallow today. A girl's entitled to have a few shallow priority days, isn't she?

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Moments after I wrote the post below, the doorbell rang. The bf and I looked at each other quizzically - who on earth could it be? Still in my pyjamas, I stumbled down and swung open the door to reveal two prim Jehovah ladies, Watchtowers at the ready. The first one looked at me in surprise and in her most saccharine tone of voice, said "Oh, so sorry to get you out of bed..." but this didn't stop her from swiftly starting her "Have you heard of our magazines?" spiel.

I don't have time for Jehovahs in general, but I especially don't have time for presumptuous and frankly *rude* ones who disturb my morning lounging session and ignore the fact that I am standing in my pyjamas, slightly hungover on new year's day. And who expect me to give up some of my precious time off to have a pointless theological discussion. Besides, don't they only go around doing the door to door thing to get brownie points? She ignored me when I said "I'm not interested" and kept trying to talk, so I just repeated myself, more loudly this time and closed the door on them, catching their looks of astonishment on the way.

Head....woozy...*way* too much vodka last night. It got me in a very merry mood though - I think I texted practically everyone in my phonebook to say happy new year. (Note to text receivees - if you wondered why it arrived at 12:45 instead of midnight, it's because lots of other silly drunk people decided to do the same thing and the network was jammed. Of course, I'd like to remind you that my text was classy and worth the wait, while their compositions were probably "HAPY NU YR LUV TRACIE XXXXX")

Anyhow, it was probably one of the nicest stay-at-home new year's I've had in ages. We stuffed ourselves with homemade nachos with all the trimmings, cocktail onion bhajis with my homemade chutney and proper chocolate & fruit fondue. JJ's new scalectrix-esque track got tried out while we listened to 2Unlimited, the Beloved and the Razorcuts. At one point Rachel dug out a Barenaked Ladies album just to wind me up, which provoked me into marching around the living room, pointing at the various band members and slurring "Look at him, he used to turn up at parties in Toronto and stand around waiting to be recognised. He is *such* a twat!" You know, I don't think I've been that drunk in quite some time. Wheeeee!

I'm pleased to say we only watched tv for about 5 minutes at midnight. I have a vague recollection of Jonathan Ross spouting sentimental rubbish and drinking champagne. I could be wrong.

If I can manage it, it's now time to whip up some batter to try out my new waffle machine (thank you Prima, for your cheap and cheerful appliances!) and a couple of cappucinos... and then later, I might finally get those other posts done.