Friday, December 05, 2008

work, rock band, advent, and blog philosophy

Friday night: in eight hours I will be getting up to roll into the Market with a five foot sign (currently being inspected by Parallax in the kitchen) and good intentions. The boys are out at D&D this evening, so it's just me and the cats.

The job has been alright so far. It's still a bit early for Christmas shopping, but in the couple of days I've worked, I've sold more than I did the first two weeks of last year's run, which bodes well. I've had a couple of run-ins with people I usually don't talk to, and one fellow who had unkind words to say about the nature of gift certificates in general, but mainly my job is to look pleasant and smile at passersby, who will usually look at the sign and attempt to figure out what I am selling, presumably to be polite. Once in a while an old man will wink at me, which is usually enough to make my day.

Angus, who enjoys video games as much as Sean and revelry as much as I, bought Rock Band a few days ago, and we spent our Last Class evening banging away at it and discovering that it is way more fun than we were willing to admit. Angus blew us away with his mad Guitar Hero skills; Sean demonstrated an amazing ability to pick up the feeling of 90's punk bands on the first go; I stunned the boys with my perfect recall of Alanis Morissette's You Oughta Know (from Jagged Little Pill), netting a 96% on Hard with my vocal debut. An Anth friend, Fraser, wandered in through an open security door and joined us on bass for a while just before we all stumbled off to bed, Rock Banded out.

Also in the news this week: My mother sent an Advent Box on the bus, which meant introducing Angus to the fun that is Advent. He's never had so much as a cardboard calender with chocolate inside little numbered windows, and so the large pile of presents on the sideboard is doubly fun for him. He was particularly intrigued by the unusual contents of some boxes in Advents past; there have been stemless wineglasses filled with candy, and miniature Christmas trees, but also things like instant soup and Stovetop Stuffing. He has (probably in vain) hung his hopes on more Stovetop Stuffing, which is apparently a guilty pleasure.
Our gifts so far:
1. A new and larger Christmas tree. I still have the original Advent tree from Brunswick Street, which has been folded down and packed in a shoebox with my Christmas lights and humourous cat collars (more Advent box treats) for three moves now, but this one is taller and altogether classier. While I am not getting rid of the original, I'm thinking the new one will have a high profile place, maybe the dining room (where we spend a lot of socializing time these days, while not "playing" classic rock tunes on the game box).
2. Decorations for said new Christmas tree. Which is good, because the veteran doesn't want to share (its metallic red and gold balls are tied on for maximum uncatability).
3. Three battery-operated toothbrushes and toothpaste, in varying colours. Sean immediately snapped up the lavender soft-bristled one, while Angus and I negotiated over the manlier medium-bristles.
4. A canister of Icy Squares. We opened the first three presents in order, but on the same evening, as we got the box on December 3, and so the progression from toothbrushes to large amounts of chocolate went a long way towards in explaining to Angus the internal logic of the Advent Box.
5. A large brick of Toblerone. Actually not strictly Toblerone, but bigger and better for it. Rose, a good friend of Angus' and newly-minted NaNoWriMo winner (as was Angus, by the way), was given the honour of opening the box and eating the first chunk of honey almond nougat filled delight.

I've spent the evening reading a couple of FSO (Foreign Service Officer) blogs and remembering why I was so determined to do well on those tests. While FSOs who write blogs are usually Americans, I imagine there's a certain amount of similarity between the services, and the lifestyle is just... so me. Lots of work that I can work hard at and feel like I'm making a difference, and a tight community within a huge expanse of new experiences, and a life where I'm paid enough that my student loans and phone bills don't have to battle over the last gasps of my chequing account. This whole blog is pretty great from beginning to start if you have a few hours; she starts just before her training begins, and is currently in the middle of language training between her first post and her second post. She's clever and well-read and writes about hard things as well as nice things, and she comes up with things like:
A Note on Dating in the FS: Don't. Really, it's just not worth the hassle. Just accept the fact that you'll wake up one day to find you own a fern and two cats named for TV characters, and that there's nothing you could have done to avoid it. The best you can hope for is that your siblings send their kids to live with 'Crazy Aunt [Your-name-here]' for the summers. Take solace in your career, and maybe a nice hobby like crochet or mah jongg.
Unless you're a man. Then accept the fact that you'll soon have a [country-of-first-posting]ese wife.
Luckily I get to avoid that, importing my very own house husband.
Skimming a number of blogs to find one I could get my teeth into, I've discovered a few things that make a readable blog for me:
  • Talk about things that are bad or unfortunate as well as your perky postcards home. Sometimes it rains. I'm guilty of this as much as some others - you never want your mom to worry about you when the thing you're complaining about is just a small bump in the road - but it makes a person much more real.
  • Lots more text than pictures. If all you have are pictures, and you aren't a Pulitzer Prize photojournalist, no one is going to get as much from your pictures as they would the proverbial thousand words.
  • Also pictures, though. And links out to other places where you don't want to write a long description of the weird Japanese fascination with KFC as Christmas food when someone else has done it justice.
  • If you are writing a mommyblog, write about your kids. If you're writing a foodblog, write about food. And if you are writing an FSO blog, please, sometimes write about being an FSO. It's a unique experience, and one of the awesome things about blogs is getting a picture of what your life is like, on the ground, day to day. (Teachers: if your students do a project on a career they want when they grow up, and are old enough to use the internet for research, recommend they check out a ____blog. It's the best way to research what being a ballerina/astronaut/veterinarian is really like.)
Anyway, enough of my dissertations on things that are in my head. The morning is fast approaching.