Monday, October 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's 9:30 a.m. and I'm drinking coffee, blindly checking facebook, trying to reconcile myself with the cold hard fact that it's morning and I'm awake, when Mellen walks in.

Mellen: No rest for the wicked!

Alienated Receptionist: hi.

Mellen: How are you this morning Jenny?

Alienated Receptionist: Fine Mellen. Have you ever seen Intolerable Cruelty?

Mellen: No... I haven't. Is it any good?

Alienated Receptionist: I saw it this weekend. I think you should see it because it's about a family law attorney. It's pretty funny. By the Cohen Brothers.

Mellen: Is it out on DVD?

Alienated Receptionist: Yes, I just rented it this weekend.

Mellen: You know, I could have written most of those plots myself.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Receptionist's Log: August 7, 2008

I always suspected that I might hate the Toronto Sun. Now I know for sure.

This morning, as I arrived at work, I was greeted by one of the most obnoxious women I've ever known -- for the purpose of discretion lets call her Mellen -- and asked if I was familiar with the Sunshine Girls. I replied that I've heard of them, but never actually seen one, because I don't read the Sun. The fifty-year-old divorce lawyer, and 3 time divorce then triumphantly presented me with a picture of herself emerging from some kind of water feature in a string bikini and what I've always heard referred to as a Farrah-Fawcette haircut. She asked me if I was ready for a laugh, but my response was closer to a choke or maybe a cough. I was hoping never to have to set my eyes on that much Mellen skin, but today my fate was sealed. I will spend the rest of my days resenting the Toronto Sun.

Mellen is getting the picture framed today (actually laminated which is worse) and mounting it on her wall. A copy of the original newspaper is currently sitting on the table in the staff room with a sticky note attached to it saying "yup that's me, Mellen". I'm sad to admit that I provided her with said sticky note. I wanted to scream 'GET YOUR OWN DAMN OFFICE SUPPLIES, YOU LAZY OLD DRAG QUEEN', but didn't have the nerve.

I am not impressed.

Oh well

SOS Good Witch of the West

Good morning faithful readers,

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to find a way to force me to quit my job.

Let me be more specific. I'm not asking you to convince me to quit my job. I'm already sure that it's a good idea, because this job is seriously impeding my thesis progress, and it's so comfortable that I could get stuck in it forever. What I need is some momentum; a reason to stand up and quit now, as opposed to waiting for a better more convenient moment, 'cause a convenient moment my never come.

Some obstacles to consider: first, Money. I like money. It's been good to me and I owe it respect for enhancing my quality of life. But if I quit my job, I will stop making money, and I will be unable to pay my rent and tuition, and likely feel as though my position in the world is a lot more fragile. Of course, I could get another less-time-demanding job [likely waitressing again(sarcastic exclamation)] and I have a line of credit that I can lean on for $ 8000 or so, but both of these options scare me for equal but different reasons. Second obstacle, Loyalty. I like the people at my job. Like money, they also have been good to me. I respect them, and they've enhanced the quality of my life. But I think they're under the delusion that I'll be here for at least another 6 months. I make a pretty fantastic salary considering the minuscule amount of responsibility that I have, and I have benefits, which I am yet to fully exploit. The whole situation is kind of hard to shake.

But these obstacles pale when compared to the greater obstacle that is my thesis. It's the highest most daunting mountain that makes the other surrounding hills appear like pathetic, self-indulgent wastes of time. My problem right now is that I'm stuck on a particularly hazardous but sweet smelling hill, and that the sweetness scares me like poppies from the Wizard of Oz (or worse those mean trees who throw the apples). I'd like to just lie down and sleep (or eat wormy fruit), but something tells me I might get stuck lazing forever. I've been lost on this hill for months (kind like I got lost in High Park last night. That place is a jungle!) and I'm worried that between the cookies, free drinks, and grassy hobbit holes, I'll forget about the mountain all together.

So somebody please snap me out of this! Snow on me, fire me, or die my hair green in my sleep so that I can't go to work!

If you succeed I'll reward you a hefty acknowledgment in my finished thesis, and the green toy soldier that I appeared on my eggs when I went out for breakfast last weekend, and that I've been carrying around in my purse.
Godspeed everyone!

oh well,

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

This moment in time.

Dear faithful readers,
Assuming that some of you, and by some of you I mean likely all of you, and by all of you I mean one of you, are out of the country at the moment, I thought I'd fill you in on the newsworthy activity on this side of the world.

First thing's first. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Russian author, and political dissident passed away this Sunday. The headlines are now a blur severe looking Catholic priests and jowly bearded men holding candles out of respect. This is fascinating not only because the author of The Gulag Archipelago managed to survive communism, the reign of Stalin and live long past the official terrors of the KGB, but also because a writer was given what amounts to a state funeral and that it was attended by hundreds.

Second, Paris Hilton is running for President of the United States. Well not exactly, but she did release a campaign advertisement where she refers to John McCain as "white-haired dude", and outlines her new hybrid energy policy that involves both incentives for new energy saving technologies AND
off-shore oil drilling. John McCain later endorsed this plan as much better then Barack Obama's. Sigh.

Finally, Vince Li, the man who brutally murdered and cannibalized a total stranger on a Greyhound Bus last week, begged a Manitoba courtroom to be killed yesterday. The recent Chinese immigrant, who came to Canada on the federal skilled workers program in 2001, had spent time in a psychiatric institution. The police report that Li had drafted several resumes for various degrading positions at international chains such as Wal-Mart and McDonalds. The day before the murder he sold his brand new laptop for $60.00. I can't help but wonder if he was at all conscious or totally detached from reality when the incident occurred. From the evidence in this article, he seems to have undergone a severe form of culture shock, and honestly, I'm not terribly surprised. Hopefully this tragedy will force Canadians to reevaluate how we treat new immigrants. I want to do something with this story. I feel a Dennis Tourbin style painting coming on.

oh well.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Paul Celan

For my thesis, I've been reading a lot about the poetry was produced in and around the Holocaust. In a book by Shoshanna Felman and Dori Laub, I came across the poetry of Paul Celan. Here's some:

As one speaks to stone, like
from the chasm, from
a home become a sister to me, hurled
towards me, you
you that long ago
you in the nothingness of a night,
you in the multi-night en-
countered, you
multi-you --.

and at times when
only the void stood between us we got
all the way to each other.

From Radix, Matrix and So Many Constellations

His work seems pretty dark. A lot of what's cited in the book is about Hitler forcing Jews to play music to accompany their friends busy digging their graves. I'll proceed with caution, but I think I might like his poems a lot.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

If the majority of my readers were celebrities

Science has calculated that they would likely look like thisOr this

If I were a celebrity

If I were a celebrity, I'd look like this:

I'm sorry, I know this will likely be shocking to many of you, but with the empty hours I have at my disposal of work, I stumbled upon a website that can calculate this kind of thing, and this was the result.

Thank you science.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Lynn Hatzius

This is some of the album art for Adem's 'Love and Other Planets' LP. The music's good but I'm finding the artwork even more exciting and I've been meaning to share it for a long time . It's by Lynn Hatzius, a print maker and illustrator from London. Here's her website. There's a lot more to see.

Jon Sarkin

I just heard this really sad episode of This American Life about a man named Jon Sarkin , who was a chiropractor and environmental scientist from Massachusetts, until he suffered a sever stroke, that effected every aspect of his life and caused him to have a disjunctive relationship with the outside world. in 1988. Unable to work as he did before, he became a visual artist. Describing his condition on his website, he writes:

Why am I unable to be reflective about how my stroke affected my work?
Our physicality and perception are how we access and negotiate and navigate our environment and surroundings.

When these were paradigmatically and physically altered, so too was my understanding of, and my relationship with, the outside world.

There exists a connection with the external world and my "internality" that is truly intimate. TRULY.

When this balance is disturbed, the resulting disequilibrium changes everything. EVERYTHING.

Here are some samples of his art (note the reference to Edward Said):

The Free Cheese Is In The Trap
Private (Margaret E. Weiberg) collection
14" x 17"
Comments: "best-
laid plans"

11" x 14"
Felt tip pen on paper

He's no longer able to fully connect to his family and friends in the way that he used to, and the show described him as resorting to a childhood state of mind. This is terribly said, but from his art he seems to lack inhibitions. I'm tempted to wonder if strokes, or the kinds of pathologies that have started to haunt us over the past few centuries, are our bodies ways of allowing us to escape our contemporary realities, by allowing the mind to disengage from the atrocities of our adult world. In interviews, his wife describes his children as slowly growing up to realize that their father isn't normal. Clearly, he's just not considered normal by the standards of contemporary adulthood.

The Blog that Almost Ate Itself

Hello Friends,

To start off, I'll try to give any prospective readers a sense of what kind of blog this is. My name is Jen. I'm a grad student at York University, and I'm teetering on the cusp of writing my Masters Thesis. It's almost April, and with a year of work behind me, I should be a lot farther along then I am. Against my better judgment, I've decided to document this process, in hopes that it will keep me writing and keep my focus in check. Some of my friends in my program have opted to grow thesis beards. As I'm quite unable to do so myself (and nick refuses to grow one for me), I'm feeling left out kind of left out, so this is what I've come up with. At leas this way, if I never finish my thesis, I'll have something to show from all this time spent alone in my room. And if I do finish, and I go on to write a PhD dissertation, then I'll have a document to tell me what not to do, or even what to do, for next time.

My blog development thus far, may be able to serve as a microcosm of my thesis progress thus far, describing it with greater honesty and clarity then I ever could myself (Case in point : I just spent five minutes trying to myself a better word then microcosm, but failed).

On Saturday night, I found myself drinking with an old friend, in front of my computer. Inspired by his passion project music review blog (which is wonderful and happens to be linked from this site), I decided to start my own, knowing full well that it would serve primarily as procrastination, and that it would most likely never be read (side note: the average readership of a masters thesis is 0.5). I struggled to sign up for the account, pausing nauseatingly over names and titles whose vague semi-permanence was daunting. And since then I've spent approximately 12 hours, (which could have been taking in my new thesis research book, which came in the mail last Friday: "Documentary Time: Film and Phenomenology") google bound in search of ways to make my blog look more meaningful. This required re-teaching myself to read and edit HTML, as well as hours spent scouring the wrong free web design tile site.

So here it is. Polished it's not, but it will have to stay this way for now until my next lapse in willpower. For now, here are some of the beautiful things I found along my way:

First, here's a website that gives out awards for the most useful web design websites. Unfortunately, most of the site is in German, but you can still link to the sites and explore them for yourself.

Then there's
Hooked on Design: web, interface design and usability for the lay person.
I'm pretty jealous of their header. Maybe if I read them enough I'll learn how to make something comparable.

Speaking of jealous, check out It's pretty breathtaking.

This stripe generator seems as though it might be useful to me someday.

Web Design Wall is both an instructional resource and a source of inspiration.

And I've found some interesting tile art at both

and Pixel Decor, whose work adorned my desktop and made me fell better for a couple of months this winter.

(For Future Jen: notice that the end result of this fixation today is a lot less impressive then a finished thesis would have been.)

hope to see you again.