Like every other good boy and girl in British Columbia, I received my official Climate Change Dividend cheque. Sweet merciful socialism, I just love a government that bribes the joyless citizenry. Even if it just a lousy $100, which will surely be clawed back tenfold with this new carbon tax.

Anyway, it’s not often you get free money in the mail so off I go to spend it. (If you’re one of those “Greater Good” types, check out ways to make a bigger splash with your cash through this The Tyee initiative.) In the spirit of the thing, I am planning to buy a rack and saddlebags for my bike so that I can do more shopping and errand-running with it. The fabulous Cap’s Bike Shop here in New West has a great selection. My cheque also comes just in time for the new weekly Farmers Market in the city. Or at least, the revival of an old tradition, since historically (personally defined by the time my Dad was growing up here), New West was the conduit for produce from the Fraser Valley into the city.

Speaking of the Fraser Valley, it’s also strawberry season! I know it’s incredibly nerdy, but I look forward to u-pick strawberries and blueberries all year. Hey, don’t make fun, or you won’t get any of my chocolate double-dipped strawberries.

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I’m having a crisis of conscience today. Recently, a publishing company I have always very much admired posted an actual job opening for an editor. Not an intern, not an assistant, not a publicist, but an editor. This is very rare indeed.

Of course, I applied. I worked for days on a completely new cover letter – normally, I just mix’n’match from old letters and send them in. Anyway, because I recently made a couple of contacts within the company (and because of the stellar, typo-free experience that was the application), I have been called for an interview. And now I am worried.

The rub is that I am currently working part-time, on a freelance basis with a magazine, and I really enjoy it. There is lots of opportunity there for more work, and the editor and the whole editorial team have gone out of their way to make me feel like a part of things. Hell, I was all ready to give up on writing/editing before getting this gig. I feel very warmly towards them, and would be committed even if there was no formal contract.

The publisher would be a prestigious one to have on my resume. The question is – can or should I ask for flexibility to still meet the commitments of my current gig if I get this job? (The magazine editing involves a couple meetings a month, with the rest of the work done from my home, on my own time; the book editing job would be full-time and on-site.)

The book publishing job would be great experience, and I would hope it might lead to freelance work in the future, after the contract is up. On the other hand though, I have worked for two other book publishers in the past, and neither of those jobs have led to one single hour of billable freelance time. So I should not count on that happening here, either.

I’m just really happy with the way things are – working freelance for appreciative clients, etc. – and would like to build on what I have rather than give things up for one job, even if it’s my “dream job.” Yes, I want to fit it all in and make everyone happy, including myself. What would you do?

If you love someone, say it with cookies. Everyone loves cookies. Everyone does not like ice cream, or sushi, or bananas, but I would hazard a guess that everyone likes cookies.

Fresh baked are best, all warm from the oven, but fancy-schmancy bakery cookies will get you pretty far. Boxed cookies from the store might do in a pinch, depending on the intended recipient. But for the real cookie love, cream that butter and sugar, beat in the eggs and flavouring, mix in flour and baking soda, fold in your choco chips, your nuts, your dried fruit or whatever, and bake it up. Mmmm.

I don’t know why I bake cookies. It certainly does fill up an hour or two. I probably do it mostly to see the joy on Donovan’s face. He’s like a little kid, sneaking into the kitchen to stack up a bunch of cookies from the cooling racks and then washing them down with milk. In return, he brings home cupcakes for me. It’s a sweets cycle, kind of like the water cycle. Surprise begetting surprise.

On another note, the other type of cookies around here function as sort of a dog insurance policy. Levi will do anything if you just say the word “cookie”. Or “treat,” or “food.” I only have to touch his cookie jar for the dog to materialize from anywhere in the apartment (not a big place, but still). He can’t even concentrate on the trick, he wants the treat so bad.

As long as the cookie jars are filled, we all kind of stick together. Mutual bribery society.

Sigh. Another day, another set of attacks/assaults on women in the Big City, another policeMan warning women that it’s dangerous to walk the streets at night. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the recent escape of this guy, or the recent release of this guy into the Vancouver area.

But even if it does, I’m so very, very tired of this script: bad stuff happens to women who go out at night alone, so stay in your homes after dark, huddle together for protection, or find a big strong man to escort you to and from the store, bus stop, parking lot, or anywhere else you might be after the sun goes down.

Obviously, we should always be aware and protect ourselves, men and women, because the world is unpredictable. Violence can happen anywhere – the campground, even. Guys walking to the store get swarmed and beaten – yet I’ve never heard a police warning for men to beware walking alone at night, nor for anyone to beware of large groups of teenagers and drunk men.

I get it. It’s easier to tell potential victims to watch out than it is to say, “Hey, freaks: quit exposing your junk to kids and old ladies,” or “Yeah, it’s not okay to attack people, no matter what your childhood was like.” Yep, the only ways we humans learn not to do something is by either positive reinforcement (praise, candy, money) for doing good or punishment for doing bad. So if bad is flashing the jewels to unsuspecting strangers, then punishment is severe, swift damage. A kick is a good self-defence move for women, since it allows you to use the power of your lower body, while allowing you to stay relatively out of range of the target. (Practice balance, however.) It’s not perfect, though, more tips here.

So invest in some pointy shoes for those evening strolls in the fresh night air, ladies. You’ll know what to do when the time comes.

I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I really, really hate spam. It’s getting to the point where I feel personally invaded by this barrage on my e-mail inbox.

The funny thing is, the spam is all directed at my personal e-mail account; none of it seems to come to my professional address, which is the e-mail address I tend to advertise more. And for entering contests (I love to enter contests!) I use an arms-length hotmail account.

Luckily, my Internet provider tags the offending e-mails, thus allowing me to set up a delete filter and send it all straight to the trash folder. But still, for every piece of legit mail, there’s about five pieces of spammy, stupid crap. I hate the fake names and quasi legitimate subject lines: “You gotta look at this!” “Your account details need updating,” and the ever-popular “Do you want to enlarge your penis?” I hate that if I go on vacation, I’m either going to have to download 200 messages (mostly spam) or laboriously delete them if I check messages via the webmail thingy.

Yes, I could change my personal e-mail address. But the truth is, I’m rather attached to it, having used it so long. It reminds me of “Michael Bolton” from Office Space responding to the suggestion that he change his name: “Why should I change? He’s the one who sucks.” Exactly. Spammers, you’re the ones who suck.

In theory, if you ignore it long enough it will go away. But unfortunately, somebody out there is still falling for the promise of millions in Africa-stashed loot, Russian mail-order brides, and lots and lots of cheap, sex-enhancing drugs to make the most of it. So the rest of us suffer the consequences of having to deal with a daily tidal   wave of these stupid and potentially dangerous (as in virus-infected) messages. Oh, Internet.

My personal address is also tied to my Facebook account, but I’ve locked up my profile, and Facebook cleverly displays e-mail addresses as an image file rather than as a hyperlink. Still, could that affect the amount of spam I’m getting?

Traffic is moving a little too slowly. What the hell happened?

Ah, it’s raining a little. It’s been sunny. Therefore, there’s probably been an accident. Why are people so stupid? Why don’t they be a little more careful?

Oh look, the street’s been blocked off. Must be a doozy. Should I turn around, or follow the traffic along the detour? Looks like a few people are turning around. Hmmm. Nah, I’ll just run into traffic somewhere else.

Why did I decide to drive somewhere at 4 pm on a weekday?

You know, it didn’t used to be like this, all this traffic everywhere.

Isn’t it Bike to Work Week this week?

I hate each and every one of you, especially those of you in front of me. Why aren’t we moving?

Back in the day, I always had these boyfriends who lived in Burnaby, even though I lived in North Van. And because I was in University, I had evening jobs. So I could go to my boyfriend’s house in the afternoon, and make it to my job in North Van in about half an hour, in rush hour traffic (unless there was an accident). Hah, just try to make that trip in under an hour nowadays.

That lovely bike lane sure is empty. I’m glad, though that no one is driving in the bike lane, because that kind of entitlement attitude sucks. I wish I was riding my bike, right about now. And I too, would be smugly sailing past all of these people sitting there putting wear and tear on their gas beasts.

Can you ride a scooter in a bike lane? Not legally, but I would if I had one, admittedly, just to get out of here.

How long have I been sitting here? Gas, clutch, brake. Crawling, crawling. Oh, am I just uncoordinated with the clutch and gas, or does that jumping mean the clutch is going. Noooo! I need a stretch of good solid driving movement to cool her off. How I long to move, to get out of here. The next turn off from this road is… too far away. I’m stuck. Hope the car holds out.

It’s a good thing I’m listening to this calming Be Good Tanyas CD.

This is taking far too long, even with an accident. Move it, people. Let me out of here!

The Car is Dead. We’re on the Road to Nowhere. It’s either move to a smaller town or just ride everywhere on two wheels.

I’m only driving alone because I had to go an appointment in another part of city, anyway. Surely the rest of you could have carpooled.

Please stop reproducing. You’re annoying me. Your children are annoying me. I’m stuck on a planet with too many of you. Yesterday a small child threw a stick at me as I was walking past him. It was just a twig, but it was deliberate. The parent said nothing to me, or to the child. I weep for our future.

No more driving in rush hour. Not on my otherwise beloved standard tranny, anyway.

I really understand that Michael Douglas movie, Falling Down, now. Shall I act out the home version?

And I’ve broken free.

On my way home. Thank god.

Not so much, right?

A sample of headlines in Craigslist’s job feed:

and my favourite:

  • NANNY NOW!!! (the ad is all in caps too. Easy on the coffee there, Mommy.)

Dear, dear employers: I understand that you’re urgent, you’re busy, you want hardworking, reliable employees, preferably sober. But the combination of ALL CAPS and multiple exclamation points does not really make people want to work for you. As it has been said time and time again, using either in writing is like shouting at the reader. And for some reason, many of you like to deploy them together.

If a job seeker is reading one of these ads, do you think they want to be shouted at by someone they don’t even work for yet? Duh, no. Next. Ease up and sweeten up.

If you’re having trouble finding good staff, perhaps reflect on your netiquette and punctuation habits. Better yet, hire a professional who knows how to turn off the caps lock key. They teach us that, y’know. In writer school.

This has been a public service announcement brought to you by the ampersand.

But I’m having one of those days when I just don’t want to be a writer (or editor) anymore. When you’ve gone out, gotten some experience, gotten some training, and gotten an earful of cheerleading about “knowing your worth” and “charging accordingly for your services” and then turn around and go out there only to have employers cringe at you for asking said professional wage, well, maybe it becomes time to pack in the delusions and pick another job.

All writing is only so much content creation and all editing a glorified manual spell-and-grammar-check, right? Who needs to pay anyone to do that? I’m sure someone is already working hard at an SEO article content generator anyway, and everyone already has MS Word, which will check your subject verb agreements quite handily.

Yes, yes, persistence and positive attitude. Stay on course and work hard, something is bound to happen. Don’t give up on your dreams. Chase them rainbows. Says my persistent, hardworking inner pessimist, “Know when you’re bloody well licked.”

And just as I finished writing this little screed, I got a phone call offering me a regular freelance editing gig with a magazine/publisher I really like, and at an acceptable wage.

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

Update: I also got a little raise from my other freelance gig. I can’t remember the last time someone offered me more money for doing anything. Feels pretty sweet.

Oh, he was hot. He arrived in our small suburban high school at the beginning of grade 11 and I think every girl in my class had an instant crush.

He was, objectively speaking, very good looking, and yet was cool, not conceited. Part of the boy’s mass appeal stemmed from being the first new, exciting male to arrive in a long time. In a school where nearly everyone had literally gone to preschool together and many had dated and dissected one another (not literally) to death, here was fresh boy meat.

Even I temporarily abandoned my longtime impossible crush to fixate on this tall, handsome stranger. The girls all did, I think, speaking his name in breathy whispers. One day after school, I and two of my best girlfriends were heading out downtown on the bus when we saw that he was on our bus. At the bus exchange, we invented a reason to hop on the bus he was taking, casually struck up some conversation from the seat behind (“Oh, hi! Where are you going?”), and then rode the bus until just one stop after he had gotten off. We promptly caught the bus going back the other direction, giggling about the whole adventure. Well, actually, I think we considered trying to follow him home to see where he lived, but stopped short of becoming complete stalkers.

And yet, this guy seemed to have no idea. Maybe, objectively, the lot of us girls weren’t particularly hot ourselves. You might think after a couple years of hanging around, he would have picked himself out a girl. His yearbook quote even included the question, “Do you have to open graves to find girls to fall in love with?” (I now know, thanks to the Google magic, that this was a quote from The Mummy. A hot high school boy with a love of film? Who was this person?)

A few years later, by chance I worked with a girl who was a roommate of the boy during this time. She shocked me with tales of how bitterly he complained about not having a girlfriend and of girls not liking him at school, etc. Wow, I thought, was he not only hot but also deaf and blind?

And now he has all but disappeared. There seems to be a lesson in all this about not believing too much of what you think you think about yourself.

A new study of workers entering the labour market between 1979 and 2002 confirms what I have been feeling about work and jobs. The study looked at thousands of workers and their patterns of mobility and found that those who did not find their place within a few years tend to suffer the consequences. From the press release announcing the publication of the study by sociologist Dr. Sylvia Fuller:

“On average, every job change reduces a worker’s wage by a little over one per cent. So if someone changes jobs 10 times, they’d be earning about 11 per cent less.”

The statistics paint a sobering picture of wage penalties for women who leave a job for family reasons, almost on par with getting fired. For example, female employees who quit for reasons such as taking care of children or following a husband to another city would see a 2.6 per cent drop in wages compared to 2.7 per cent less if they were fired.

“It seems that leaving a job for a family-related reason results in significant wage disadvantages, even beyond what we would expect given the time out of the labour force that such quits often entail.”

The press release goes on to say that whether the reason for leaving a job was dismissal, layoff, or for career or family reasons, employers tend to start stigmatizing such potential employees as, frankly, damaged goods. It’s a cruel slap in the face to those of us who came of age in the era of massive corporate layoffs and cutthroat competition for good jobs. We’ve also been weaned on the advice that having 5-10 jobs over the course of one’s career is not only okay, but expected. Throw in the lies about “work-life balance” (mostly aimed at women) companies are so fond of touting and see if you don’t start getting cynical, too.

The sobering news that I may be approaching my sell-by date for respectable employment is hard to swallow. But in a weird way, this study’s findings are more comforting than the perky career advice doled out by e-mail newsletters from Monster et al. to dress right for the interview, shake hands with authority, handle pesky co-workers and face change with a positive attitude, always! Oh yeah, and set them goals. It confirms that although competence and experience are what employers say they want, they are actually judging workers on image (physical appearance, career track record, gap-free resume) and likeability and personality. “Fit” is ephermeral, yet paramount. I don’t fit in, never have, never will. I always hoped to find a place to learn and grow in the bosom of a company, but now it looks like going my own way may be the only way.

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