Friday, October 29, 2010

Tomorrow We Protest . . . . Politely

The Doomsday Poppet is not helping.

Some of the House is going to the Rally for Sanity, and we will have signs.

Some of the House is staying here because it's the sane thing to do if you're sick with a really bad cold.

I have to make some of the signs first.

It's hard because there are so many choices, like the approved:

"I don't agree with what you are saying but I'm pretty sure you are not Hitler."


"Well, you know, that's just your opinion man."

But the majority of the House will be carrying signs that will most likely say "Meh."

But there are some that I might play with like

"When I was on the Debate Team, we got points off for calling each other names."


"Please stop campaigning long enough to govern for a bit."


"Clean Cup! Move Down!"

A personal fave made by someone else

Maybe if enough people show up for a comedy event the media will understand that a whole bunch of people showing up in DC doesn't really mean anything about the rest of the country or politics in general.

But that will require more people to show up for a piece of comedic performance art that happens to express the non-polarized sentiment that we'd like our politicians to act like grown ups instead of the idea that crowds are just crowds, well that would be fine too.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Zombies . . . .Love and Midterms

About this time a year ago when I was working, I rolled the office chair I was sitting on over my own foot.

It takes talent sometimes.

It was about this time a year ago that the writing was also on the wall for the long term funding for my department. Dead Department Walking.

It was also this time last year that I was working towards the World Fantasy Convention, Lisa and I had collaborated on the House Where Halloween Things Live When It Isn't Halloween.

Which was the last Poppet Project I finished.

So the most interesting thing about running over my toe was that I didn't realize that I'd damaged it until almost right before I left for WFC, because I was trying on dress shoes and felt some pressure. My toe had done that thing toes do when they are bruised under the nail. I'd had experience with this before - it takes about a year to grow out and not look like Zombies Ate Your Toe.

I'm pretty good at predictions, not by being psychic but by doing the work. The department had a two week window at this point last year, if they didn't have good news by the time I was back from WFC, no matter what they were told in meetings they were going to be absorbed back into the larger group, their support staff would be let go, they needed to plan. Schemes were hatched , promises were made, but in the end it's gone down almost exactly the way I'd told them, and now, the zombified toenail is almost grown out - one professional pedicure and the damage will be gone, and the department is officially dissolved. Zombies Were Eating Our Department.

I had one more prediction, that even in "good" times, I'm such an odd collection of skills that it takes about six months to a year for me to be hired again. This time last year I had two months to go before my contract ended, I had finished an amazing accomplishment in 40 days, and I was preparing for the coming storm.

Some of it went the way I expected, and some of it not so much. It's been more difficult in ways. It all feels like circles. Like I'm riding the ripples as the move outward. Sometimes I've been a little zombified.

But at a particular point in time - which was scary and a little low - Lisa sent me some Zombie Love. I didn't know I needed or wanted Zombie Love but there it was.

Smiling it's little embalmed stitching smile at me, fresh blood running down it's ruff . . .

In it's own weird and creepy little way, the Zombie Poppet made all the other zombifications kind of identifiable, and avoidable. Like having an actual Zombie kept all the other zombie wannabes away. Like a totem. It helped a lot.

So when I saw Lisa, I brought Zombie Love with me, and we made a joke about Same Time Next Year. October is now the month I seem to see Lisa in person. It seems so strange to me that I haven't ever cooked for her.

I felt guilty, there were things that we had talked about doing but the year happened without us. It was OK, maybe the year need to grow out, for the damage to work it's way out. Like the toe, maybe I hadn't realized the extent of the damage until it became really visible and it was too late to do anything other than let it heal on it's own.

So here's where I am - the Zombie Toe is almost gone, Zombie Love arrived when I received my Forgiveness Poppet ( who will be appearing here soon as the Embarrassed Ambassador's Younger Sister), Lisa and I are still playing with the House Where Halloween Things Live, because there's no rush, we did it to play. Here's hoping that my annoying streak of being right continues and I will find a job that works for me in the next few months since I predicted it and that the long dark streak of no work on Poppetropolis will end, since I didn't predict that.

It will be like a Halloween Resolution.

And everyone should go to the American Museum of Visionary Arts where some of Lisa's Dark Caravan is being shown in the Smile Exhibition.

My Zombie Love is at the edge of the roller coaster there.

I owe Lisa some pictures. . . . does this one count?

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm Fine except for the Earth Shattering Kabooms

I've been sort of hidden for the last few weeks. I'm not sure where to start.

Objectively -
  • Healthy ( mostly)
  • Doing well in School
  • Increased interest in people putting me in jobs
  • Creativity increased ( Which is good. Summer was scary.)

Also objectively:

  • September could have been titled "When Viruses Attack!"
  • I have figured out how to do well in school in the most time honored manner of overachievers by spending 6-8 hours a day on my homework - it's not optional. I need to do this in order to get through the coursework and understand it. It's a side effect of either the symbol processing disorder or the nature of the work. So I've forgotten birthdays, friends have been afraid to call and "bother" me, I'm afraid I'm isolating myself.
  • Although I now have live people calling me about live jobs, there is the most interesting new development where it's not as simple as "they don't want me" or "someone else got the position". It's an odd thing where the positions are still open. They haven't filled them, I'm still in the running. How strange. It's like companies are flirting with hiring but can't commit.
  • Creativity - well the creative writing class this summer was - how shall I put this delicately? "Uninspiring."

OK. That's good - "Uninspiring." We'll stick with that. However, I know my plan to look like a proper purple squirrel requires creative output for the next year as I complete my degree, upon which I will probably never be asked to create creative output in my field ever again. So in order to become familiar with the newest graphics software I decided before I transfer back into my alma mater to take a digital fine arts class. It's a leap. Until Poppetropolis I don't think I ever considered any of my work "fine art". I do have the background knowledge my current degree had a robust fine arts requirement. So here I am.

The fine arts class works better than the writing class - perhaps because I'm not particularly good at art, so I have to strive to get to "acceptable" and the work brings ideas. Because I have to bridge between the idea and my capability. Maybe sometimes you need to work at something where you're mediocre to do the things you do well creatively.

It's a working theory anyway.

Seeing Lisa last week helped a lot. The pic for today is actually my first "Fine Arts" class project. I suppose I shouldn't be shocked that Poppets ended up being a part of it.

Ok - so we covered objectively. Now subjectively.

The Problem:

Tired of not being taken seriously in the workplace because my skillset and job titles are much maligned as "posers" or "empty suits", I am taking a class in a pure coding language. This is not just because I want to know how to do what I generally am managing - but because in the last half-decade I have been flat-out lied to about what work has been done. I have always been able to read code at a logic level (The languages aren't all that different. Regular programmers make the mistake of thinking that scripting languages aren't anything like coding. They are incorrect once you get to the intermediate level of a scripting language. At the advanced level, the only difference is environment and syntax) however, I cannot read a database.

No one will let me take a real database class until I take a programming class. Neither of these things is required for my degree or my level of employment, but I am vulnerable without them. I am tired of vulnerability.

I am terrified of getting a position just to lose it or be trapped. I am not willing to be easily sacrificed again. This skillset is like invisible magic armour or a spirit sword.

However, it's like a fairy tale. If you want to get the magic power - there is a cost.

The Discovery:

I started to write the fairy tale part - exactly like a fairy tale - for the blog. Actually doing it was worse than talking about it head on - so I stopped.

Fairy Tales, they're about the big, dark, scary things. The hidden things, the things too big to tell people outright because the first thing to do is try to separate or minimize them. That's why all the helicopter parents are so scared of them now. They're full of wolves and shadows, and curses and poverty, and powerlessness and power.

You can make them full of princesses and light, but really all that proves is that being a princess is no protection. No one is safe. It doesn't have to be your fault, and things will still try to kill you, trap you, lead you into the dark, hate you. The happily-ever-after isn't joy - it's safety. And it's precarious. You'll know it, because you were a princess who was cursed, kidnapped, murdered, raped, tortured, bartered to an evil man for peace or money. Prince Charming's kingdom might still go to war, there might be famine and plague and what you've survived before gives you lessons to teach, and all they want to see now are the pretty gowns and singing forest animals.

They want to forget that those animals started talking to you to warn you that someone was trying to cut out your heart and eat it to make damn sure you were dead.

And the other "clever children" fairy tales, Red, Hansel and Gretel, and all of the Jacks and Alexis. All those are stories of how to survive poverty and abuse, neglect and discrimination without letting them define you.

No wonder their stories need to be neutered. Do we want to pretend that doesn't happen now?

Maybe we should tell them in the original more often. The fairy tales are tools - like the It Gets Better Project they're doing now. Admit how truly dark it is first, then maybe someone will be able to believe there's light.

The universal part of the fairy tale isn't in the resolution, it's in the suffering that precedes it.

I'll finish writing my own fairy tale- because it was upsetting, because I didn't think that the subject was that dark, and because maybe it's more universal than I think. I don't know.

But I do know that it made me realize that even though I'm being consumed by an impossible task, it's for the original version of happily ever after - not marriage, or wealth, but safety. (Well, maybe some wealth). And knowing Rumplestilskin's name is not going to help me spin common sense into code.

But maybe I can get him to tutor me.