Saturday, 30 April 2011


I have a face that is incredibly easy to read. It also, by the way, tends to make faces while I read. But that's beside the point. The point is that people can usually tell what I'm feeling or even what I'm thinking and they don't have to be particularly adept at people-reading to tell. I can believe I'm being stoic, but it doesn't really work. I have discovered this in many situations with many people over the last few years.

This morning at Timmy's was a gong show - Saturdays usually are. It's busier than the weekdays, but we have one less person on staff. Plus my supervisor is just a teen girl who admittedly tries, but hasn't gotten the hang of handling the whole little store and all that entails. This could have something to do with the chronic under-staffing - I doubt she even knows what a properly running store feels like.

Today we had one kid who has never worked at our Esso before, one kid who moves like she's constantly swimming through molasses, our supervisor, and myself. I was the eldest by at least five years. Needless to say, things weren't running smoothly. I was grumpy. And frustrated. I pretty much took over and started telling people what to do. And if customers on drive-thru didn't answer me when I asked what I could get for them, I let them sit there until the cows came home or they figured something was wrong and said hello. Haha! Sweet vengeance.

About half-an-hour before my shift was over, one of the girls I was working with said, "Carla, how do you manage to wake up to be here by 6 a.m., and be so energetic and cheerful the whole time?"

So I consider this a victory. Today, at least, my negative attitude was not exceedingly obvious. And I kept us all alive. Hurrah!

"If you don't get everything you want, think of the things you don't get that you don't want." Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Kid Shows for Grown Ups

If ever by some random chance I end up running my own TV station, I can tell you some of the shows that are going to on the set list. Naturally, Babylon 5 and M*A*S*H will be prime time, but day times will consist of "kid" shows. Namely Naruto (in Japanese - can't stand the English dubs) and now also...

AVATAR: The Last Airbender.

A friend recommended this to me and I polished through the series in a matter of a week or so. Now I'm forcing my brother to watch.

It may be true that you have have to have the maturity level of a twelve-year-old to enjoy a kid's show, but I would argue that it's probably healthier to consume this kind of stuff than the crass romantic comedies and never-ending stream of reality-TV dramas that mostly show nowadays.

The Last Airbender isn't quite so philosophical as Naruto tries to be, but it definitely draws out quite a few laughs. One of the running gags in the story are the hybrid creatures. The only living, sentient beings that appear to be distinctly one species are the humans. Everything else is mix-matched - flying lemur rabbits and platypus bisons or saber-toothed moose lions. The latter one is actually pretty cute.

The first few episodes are a little emotionally shallow - when the protagonist discovers that he slept away the last hundred years and that the world as he knows it and the people he loved are all gone, his reaction is to look sadly at the ground for a moment. But things pick up pretty quickly after that. The dialogue is amusing, especially where Sokka and Toph are concerned, and the character development is well done. This is especially true of Zuko, but most, if not all, of the characters grow and change over time.

Season two sees an eerie tip of the hat to George Orwell's 1984, with the characters entering a city where the citizens are brainwashed and fed propaganda until nobody is even aware that the world is at war (despite the fact that they are the last "free" city standing). It's decidedly creepy, especially once you get past the obvious similarities to Orwell's work and notice that some of the techniques the city rulers use are surprisingly realistic...

Along with other ethical quandaries, season three sees the main protagonist (a technical pacifist) faced with a choice of whether or not to try and kill his opponent to save the world. I was a little disappointed with the resolution, as someone gave him an ad hoc third option at the last moment, meaning he didn't have to make the difficult choice in the end. I would have liked to have seen how the consequences of the real decision played out, as nice, tight third options aren't always easy to come by.

There are multiple crush/love relationships, but I appreciate the way that first and foremost the characters are friends and that they can give each other gifts and do nice things for each other - across gender lines - despite them not being romantically attached. It's refreshing to see. One other thing I kinda liked about the series is the way that all the characters seem to know when to accept defeat. For example:

Sokka: Great. So what am I suppose to do?
Aang: You could clean the gunk out of Appa’s toes.
Sokka (riled up): So while you guys are playing in the water, I’m suppose to be hard at work picking mud out of a giant bison’s feet?
Aang: Mud and bugs!
Sokka (shrugs): Okay.

Oh, and being the psych student that I am (was), I have decided that Zuko's sister, Azula, is most decidedly a psychopath.

Definitely a well-done series.

Katara: The King is throwing a party at the palace tonight for his pet bear.
Aang: Don't you mean platypus bear?
Katara: No, it just says, 'bear'.
Sokka: Certainly you mean his pet skunk bear?
Toph: Or his armadillo bear?
Aang: Gopher bear?
Katara: Just, 'bear'.
*short pause*
Toph: This place is weird.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

How to Get Happy

For reasons that have no bearing on this post, I was feeling rather blue and melancholy yesterday. This was not good for two reasons, namely a) I don't enjoy being blue and melancholy and b) I had a shift at the Distress Centre coming up. It's tough to be genuine and compassionate and understanding of distressed people when you're stewing in gloominess yourself. However, you cannot simply cancel a volunteer shift on the fly, as people are counting on you to live up to your commitment. Well, you CAN cancel your shift, but you'd feel guilty and it would put a black mark on your record and would make things more difficult for the other volunteers.

So rather than cancel my shift, I went and told God that He should really think about cheering me up, because I couldn't cheer myself up, and it was primarily other people, not me, that would be at stake if I didn't feel happier again.

God has a sense of humour. Yesterday it snowed and snowed and snowed and turned to slush. My boots are warm but by no means waterproof. And I walked from the C-train to the DC. At least once I put down my foot to find water almost up to my ankle. Do you think this made me more cheerful?

Nobody (as far as I'm aware) likes wearing damp socks. I certainly don't, and I didn't expect damp socks to be the pick-me-up I needed. And technically, they weren't, as they quickly changed from damp to wet to sloshing socks. There's a point where something just gets so ridiculous you forget to be grumpy and laugh instead. For me, it was the moment when I wondered whether other people walking around me could hear the water splashing my toes INSIDE my boot every time I picked up my foot. You know, seeing as the boots were meant to keep my feet dry and all.

So I was standing there, waiting to cross the street, wondering if my feet were going to freeze to the pavement and thinking it might actually be more comfortable to just take my boots off and walk the rest of the distance bare-foot, and I giggled out loud. I didn't laugh in disbelief. I giggled. And I felt a lot better.

Goes to show that even though God does promise to comfort us, He doesn't always use conventional methods to do so.

I wrung out my socks and jeans at the DC and crawled under my desk (to the amusement of the man in the next booth) to put my socks and boots on the heater by the window. I then proceeded to answer the phone line as well as I would have any other day - with just as much empathy and patience. And the man in the booth next to me gave me grocery bags to wear in my boots over my socks on the way home, so my feet stayed dry.

I think I forgot to remove the "DON'T FORGET YOUR SOCKS" memo from the phone booth after the shift was over. I wonder who found it next.

"Everything is funny, if you can laugh at it." Lewis Carroll