Friday, February 28, 2003

Last night I stayed up quite late filling out the application form for the job I mentioned before. Like most charities, you have to complete a non-standard form by hand - CVs and covering letters are a definite no. The hardest part is the Statement to Support Your Application, where you have to somehow wade through the person specification and show how it applies to your experience without making it sound generic or long-winded.

And of course, I'd been putting that part off, partly because the latest flu bug wasn't exactly doing wonders for my writing skills. But when I realised the deadline is Monday and it had to get to London, I forced myself to knuckle down last night. Every hour or so, the bf would wander in looking neglected. "I have to GET THIS DONE!" I'd snap hoarsely, and he would retreat. To be honest with you, I was still sort of wacked out on Day Nurse so I can't remember much of what I wrote, but it seemed ok. I forwarded the completed document to the bf's work account so he could print it off and post it by special delivery at lunchtime. Then I stumbled into bed.

(you know what's coming, don't you...?)

This morning, I woke up with such a terrible back ache I could barely stand. My first thought was that I should double check what I'd sent, so I hobbled into the computer room and had a look. The document was EMPTY. I screamed in frustration. I couldn't remember half of what I'd written, and I'd have to cancel my volunteer work to scrape enough time together to get it done.

At times like these, I go into autodrive and just shut myself off from everything to get the job done. So that's what I did, and it's safely on its way. Besides, maybe it was a good thing. I'm sure what I came up with this morning was much better than the Day Nurse prose fantastique from last night.

Wish me luck in getting an interview!

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Flu again! Bah. I'm at the office, but feel like I'm floating somewhere over Piccadilly Gardens because of all the Day Nurse.

Anyhow. I have another show lined up with the Actionettes in London on the 15th March - you can see the flyer here.

For the first time ever, I will need two outfits as there are two sets. Can I just say how excited I am about that?

There's going to be a few appearances that night, but I think they're sort of secret so I won't blab. Must distract myself with liquid eyeliner now...

Monday, February 24, 2003

It's official: I LOVE my (voluntary) job.

Well, I always did. But today is special, because this morning I completed my third supported interview. Which means that after slightly more than 5 months of training, as of tomorrow morning I am officially a telephone advice worker.

I had a little chat with my manager about future prospects, too. The word is that I should aim for at least 6 months of experience before I start applying for paid work there, which is fine with me.

I'd also like to say hello to Tom Watson, MP for West Brom East who linked to me yesterday because I mentioned the Specials in my side bar. I get some interesting referrals, but this is a first! Somehow I can't imagine my MP actually checking out blogs - although she might have something to say about them without reading any first!

Friday, February 21, 2003

It's official: I HATE my (paid) job.

Even though they know it makes me uncomfortable - even though it wasn't in my job description - I have just been given MORE cold calls to make. Only this time they were sneaky. They told me I was just ringing to set up appointments. Now, to me, that means Mr/s X is expecting my call after a previous email/chat/whatever and I am just finalising matters. But it's not. I've been given a spiel and info to fax through to convince people. I am so angry I feel like crying.

I just want to go home.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Over on mike's site, you have the chance to vote for your favourites for singles placed in the top ten from the 60s to present. In the #8 category, Mike professed his love for Phil Collins' "you can't hurry love". And then I found this thread from a Phil Collins fan forum, where a war of sorts is raging between die hard fans and a "tribute band" called the Phil Collins Three. Hee.

Sorry, I've been distracted by listing stuff on eBay (hooray for turbo lister!). As usual, I had one pain in the @ss buyer who had bid without realising it was in pounds, not dollars. When I had to tell her that it was going to cost over £8 just to ship her items by surface, I braced myself. Sure enough, Buyer went *very* quiet. But I don't buy "buyer's remorse" as an excuse for not paying, so I used the eBay reminder system which usually does the trick, as they get scared that it'll get them suspended. Sure enough, she paid via Paypal, albeit without any sort of note or greeting despite my always-polite and friendly emails. Sigh.

In other news, I have found a great job to apply for. It's permanent part-time, would mean a nice chunk of more money, 2.5 *less* hours a week and would involve being the office manager for a new, small Manchester branch of a London-based charity, which is exactly the kind of experience I need to keep racking up. Oh, and did I mention the office is going to be very near my house, and that they're willing to be flexible about the hours for the right candidate? The only catch: they deal with a very heavy-duty subject matter, and I do wonder if I'll find it too upsetting depending on how much involvement I would have with the cases. Still, it's too dreamy overall to worry about what might be without getting to the interview stage, so I think I'm going to go for it.

I mean, I've got to really...I'm dying at the afternoon job. The bf said it's like a morgue, and it's true; in desperation, I've been carting in my desktop speakers from home so I can play some cds to keep me from falling asleep. I'm not sure if they're keeping me on because they paid a finder's fee so, damn it, they're going to get their money's worth. Or do they think it's a normal environment? Maybe it is. Come to think of it, every other office in here is exactly like mine...scary.

Of course, it does give me a lot of opportunity to surf, so back to eBay...check this poster! Drool.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Wow.

My friend Keiko from Tokyo, after finding out I'll be recording a version of "Paradise" (modelled on versions done by the Ronettes and Shangri Las), has asked me this:

Could you try to sing "Paradise" in Japanese? Few years ago Shonen Knife covered this song, and Jamie wanted record Japanese language version and they made demo tape but it never released. But I have their tape and lyrics. If you want try I'll send you tape and lyrics. How do you think?

I have to admit, I got a bit tearful when I read that. For some background, Jamie founded the Spectropop list, but his career in music A&R started back in the seventies at Ariola. He ended up working in the Japanese music industry, which is where he discovered Shonen Knife, signing them in 1991 and spending the next four years working with them. He moved into high profile music publishing after that, but sadly passed away in 2002 after a struggle with cancer. I never knew him personally, but I met so many people on the list who did that you felt like he was going to walk in the room any second. The tributes on this page are well worth a read, if you're interested.

So not only have I got back into doing music through the generosity and encouragement of some of the list members, but extra icing on the cake things like this keep happening. And I keep thinking "why me?"

Luckily, I should be able to do it justice. My former j-pop karaoke habit means my pronunciation is pretty good, even though I haven't got a clue what I'm saying.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Yesterday I had a rare weekday off all on my own, so I treated myself to a marathon charity shop/Kingbee Records/Barbakan deli haul in Chorlton. I had a parcel to pick up too, which involved a bus trip into Whalley Range to the depot. I always hate waiting for the bus back, since the area is a little on the notorious side, but I really hit the jackpot this time!

A 30-something drunk wandered up to me and started with the classic "Duntah know ya? Duntya remember me? Ishh Daaaave!" The conversation then went something like this: (forgive my inaccurate Manc interpretation!)

Dave: D'ya like cider?

Me: No.

Dave: Cause me 'n m'mate John, we's got a flat just down'th road, and we was gonna drink som' cider tonight...and you're a pretty girl an' all...

Me: (sarcastic) No thanks. (thinking "Do I *look* like the kind of girl who would hang out in some scummy bedsit with two drunks I'd just met???")

Dave: Why, r'ya with someone right now?

Me: (incredulous and insulted) That's really none of your business. I don't really feel like talking.

He carries on trying to get me to talk and cider-philosophising on how we need to "talk to get anywhere in life, love." I carry on finding the tarmac vastly fascinating and casting desperate looks down the road for my bus. Finally, it arrives - but to my horror, he gets on as well.

I sat next to a girl even though there were free two-seaters so he couldn't get next to me. After a few more attempts at conversation, he got angry and started muttering "Posh Whalley Range lady...la-di-da Moss Side lady..." I had to stop myself from laughing, but it was also getting really, really tiresome. I also started thinking I'd have to get off at a different stop in case he followed me off the bus, but luckily he suddenly gave up and got off well before my stop.

I thought about it all some more that afternoon. On one hand, I am not without empathy for someone who appears to be troubled, have a drinking problem and is possibly scraping by on basic benefits. On the other hand, the fact that he thought he had a chance with me made my stomach turn, and it made me feel like a snob. On yet another hand, he persisted in bothering me even after I asked to be left alone. I didn't want to be mean, but I didn't think I had a choice.

I don't know. It was very strange.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Have you made a sock dog yet? Get with the programme!





It's actually for my nephew, but for now, Mr. Sock Dog is leading a double life as go-go boot stay-up.

via kookymojo, and the pattern can be found here. Be warned though, that you need to print off both pdf files just for the basic instructions - the links are not what they seem.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Customer/shop person relations really baffle me sometimes.

The other day, I went into Love Saves the Day for my one regular indulgence I haven't given up - one of their life saving cappuccinos. In this cold weather, it would be just cruel to eliminate that from my budget too.

Anyhow, that morning it was a girl about my age running the counter. After a cheerful good morning and a bit of banter, she made my coffee and I apologetically paid with a £20 note. I *hate* to do that, because as a former long-time waitress, I know close-to-the-right change etiquette is important, especially for smaller ticket items. But the bank machine had run out of £10 notes, and I honestly didn't have anything else.

The £20 note instantly became a problem. She mentioned she had been getting them all morning (same cash point?) and had to really scrabble for my change. I felt awful, but what could I do besides apologise again and be polite as can be? I even put extra in the tip jar afterwards because I felt like a heel. I made sure to say thank you and 'bye and she seemed fine.

Well. Yesterday morning, I went in for a cappuccino again. This time I made sure I had *plenty* of change! It was the same girl again, so as I approached the counter I gave her a "i know you" kind of friendly good morning. To my surprise, she coolly replied "Yes please?" without even a smile. Not rude, but certainly keeping her distance. Moments later, she burst into giggles and gossip with another regular customer who arrived behind me.

What did I do wrong? I mean, I was apologetic, polite, tipped extra and made sure it didn't happen again - isn't that kinda harsh to send me to customer purgatory? Is it because I can only buy £1.60 coffee now instead of £30 gourmet goodie sprees?

Sigh.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

A further update on the Spector saga... check out the victim, Lana Clarkson's website. Quite sad really - they've already got a RIP/photo montage going on.

I'm not familiar with her work, except that I noticed she had a small part in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, one of my all-time favourite movies as well as guest spots on just about every 80s sitcom you grew up with in North America. Oh, and a part in an early 90s TV series I'd never heard of - "Silk Stalkings" - which has just got to be the best title ever.

Monday, February 03, 2003

I'm speechless.

Phil Spector has been arrested for murder... after an incident at his house early this morning.

(I've updated the link to a story with more details...)

Update: On February 3rd...

...1959: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper die in a plane crash.

...1967: Legendary and eccentric producer Joe Meek murders his landlady and commits suicide.

Good news for Catholic t'internet surfers - you've now got a saint to watch over you while you look at AOL approved pages, of course.

My visa, which has allowed me to stay and work in the UK for the past 4 years, expires in 3 months. Being on a tight budget and all these days, I had a sudden panic that I'd have to pay a hefty processing fee for the next stage, which is called Indefinite Leave to Remain. ILTR basically means I won't have to renew my visa again, and I can claim benefits if need be. Yes, in their infinite wisdom the Home Office allows me to vote, but not claim my measly JSA if I were to get the sack. Ah well.

Anyhow, I was greatly relieved to see that there's no fee for the ILTR. However, if I wanted to apply for for UK naturalisation (citizenship), which I can do as of Spring 2004, that'll currently set me back £150 as a single person, or £120 if you're married. Why the matrimonial discount? In fact you can apply for naturalisation after 3 years of living here, if you're married to a Brit. Pah.

I'n not sure about how I go about negotiating dual citizenship deal with the Canucks, either. So please excuse me if I'm not rushing off for form AN* this time next year!

Saturday, February 01, 2003

The bf wanted this for his upcoming birthday, so I ordered it tonight:



It's the super cute merchadising available via rather good, the guy who brought you the punk kittens that circulated every office in the UK. Although I hate the fact that he does stuff for Born Sloppy, the WORST show on TV at the moment, this Viking Kitten lunchbox at least reminds us of happier times PSC (pre-sara-cox). That and it's probably the best thing on the site, apart from "I depend on meat/Alf Garnett!"