It’s not my birthday…

Well the rain falls down without my help I’m afraid
And my lawn gets wet though I’ve withheld my consent
When this grey world crumbles like a cake
I’ll be hanging from the hope
That I’ll never see that recipe again

It’s not my birthday, it’s not today…

– They Might Be Giants, “It’s Not My Birthday”-

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.

-Louis L’Amour-

No, dear readers, it is NOT my birthday today. That cherished occasion lies nine months in the future. Today is auspicious, however, for at least two reasons:

A) Today was the last day of my IT career. I’ve left behind Very Large Corporation, Inc, and Information Technology alike in order to take up my bindle stick, pluck up my courage, and hop aboard a train bound for Creative Enterprise.

and

B) Today is my “rebirthday.” Exactly 2 years ago today, I received the precious blessing of the state court and changed my legal identity to match my actual one. I may be only two years old, but I’m advanced for my age.

It’s been a busy day, is the point.

I’ve been struggling for years to return to creative work, the victim of an odd (and, at times, cruel-seeming) paradox; despite having zero formal IT training or education, possessing what can only be described as mid-level technopathy led to the assumption that I was and would forever be a “techie,” despite both my frequent side projects in the creative arts and my own hearty protestations to the contrary. Eventually, the time I’d spent in IT (which was, naturally, time away from design and other creative fields, at least according to my resume) reinforced this idea; “Claire must be meant for IT because Claire’s in IT and Claire’s in IT because Claire’s meant to be there.”

Not pretty.

But, the wheel of life spins under our feet regardless of our forward motion, and eventually I was able to – through a series of contacts, design projects and a stubbornness so profound that mules roll their eyes at me –  procure my new position in Marketing and Social Media. My excitement is so profound that I’m pretty sure I’ve been levitating most of the day, which sounds fun until you stop at the grocery and can’t activate the little pressure-plate door opener thing.

But I digress.

As I was packing up my few remaining possessions and saying my goodbyes, I realized how deeply IT has affected me, both as a person and an employee. Yes, there have been challenges to my patience at times – ID-10T errors and PEBKAC abound – but for the most part, even the most grievous frustrations were ameliorated by that magic moment, that singular instant, when I solved someone’s problem. Money has never been a particularly strong motivator for me; my inability to manage it, coupled with the sort of disregard for material gain most people associate with terminal illness or religious mania makes it a poor carrot with which to lead me down the primrose path. However, put me in a place where I am genuinely and consistently helpful to someone, exorcising not just the demons from their Excel macros but the shadows from their workday, and I am a happy camper (provided, of course, that there is gratitude for services rendered…ingrates turn the knob of my Smitemaster 3000 to “11” ).

This has not been an ideal job – what job is, in the final analysis? – but it HAS been a useful one. It’s taught me many things about myself, and the kind of work, environment and interactions I require to feel as though I’m making a positive impact every day. It’s introduced me to some great friends, taught me that trust needs to be earned (not just given away like novelty tokens at a particularly cruddy fundraising carnival), and, perhaps most importantly of all, helped me to understand all the things I’m NOT as well as those I am.

And for that, I will be forever grateful.

It’s been a day of lasts – last login, last cup of tea, last casual sweep of Ice Station Zebra, last hugs and tears and laughs.There will be letters to write, e-mails to exchange, lunches to coordinate; there will be attrition as bodies both peripheral and central in my personal galaxy move closer or break orbit and disappear into space beyond.

But it’s also a day for beginnings. Here I stand, two years as Claire behind me, with (let us hope) many more ahead. The sun has not yet reached its apex; the future stretches before me, a road traveling through sunny heights and icy, shadowed lows. Having reached a fork, I’ve chosen what I hope is the right one, and focus my gaze on the horizon.

No, it’s not my birthday, my friends. But somehow, I still feel as though I’ve been given a gift.


Buzz Watch: Apple’s new iThingy

A gracious good day to you, readers.

If you’re like me, you’ll have noted with a queasiness-inducing blend of anticipation and trepidation the shift in media attention away from the plight of Haiti and toward the latest beeping gadget. That’s right, Apple has unleashed its latest Hipster Douchebag accessory: The iPad.

Or possibly the iTablet.

Or even, God help us all, the iCan.

Whatever it’s called, its potential capabilities have been the subject of endless speculation (or in my case, limited, off-the-cuff speculation for the purposes of comedic exploitation). To wit:

Features of the new iPad/iTablet/iCan/iCan’tBelieveISpent1,000DollarsOnThis

1) Recharges if you hold it aloft & shout “BY THE POWER OF CUPERTINO!” Also: your cat morphs into a badass tiger.

2) Will only open if you recite “Klaatu barada nikto” first. Otherwise, you might want to call Bruce Campbell.

3) Will come in 3 exciting colors: Chill Cherry, Awesome Orange and Bewildered Buyer’s Remorse Blueberry.

4) Will be engraved with the missing Five Commandments (e.g. “Thou Shalt Not Totally Destroy Thy Planet”).

5) Creates holographic friends to replace those you lose because you spend all your time on your damned iTablet.

6) Glows an ethereal blue whenever orcs are nearby.

7) Will not transform into a creepy robot and steal your identity and girlfriend while you sleep. Probably.

8 ) Makes that cool Star Trek “whistle-whoosh” noise whenever any nearby door opens.

9) Will obey Asimov’s three laws, unless you piss it off, buster.

10) Sifts through your address book and deletes all the people with whom you are now too cool to be seen.

11) Will love you and hug you and name you George.

12) Grants you a permanent +5 to your Hipster Cred stat, plus a free small latte at paticipating Starbucks™.

13) Opens a portal to an alternate universe where the State of the Union Address ISN’T depressing as hell.

14) Will be sun-powered. Not solar powered – there will be an actual tiny sun inside. So, y’know, get a mitt.

15) Will sing you softly to sleep & will happily open the podbay doors – as long as you don’t betray it, Dave.

16) Boasts an all-celebrity cast for its reader. First up: Keanu reads “Moby Dick” “Duude…call me, like, Ishmael.”

17) Grants you access to the tiny door that leads to the inside of Steve Jobs’ head.

18) Gives you a fuller, shinier coat, and protects you from heartworm.

19) Has an Oppenheimer app that will allow you to become Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds. Plus, Sudoku!

20) Will grant you immortality and transform your enemies into fresh-baked blueberry muffins.

[Originally posted by yours truly as part of a Twitter trend tag, #iTabletMyths]

In Which Our Heroine Becomes a Real, Live, Writer-Type Person

So here’s the thing:

While I have spent the greater part of my life transferring the cacophony that fills my noggin’ into squiggles on both paper and computer screen, I’ve been plagued by doubts (both professional and personal) about the likelihood of such tomfoolery providing me with a career.

Until now.

Recent events – a rise in confidence stemming from feedback on my writing; a return to school that has me remembering that I did not set out to be a pusher of papers and counter of computers for minor ducats and little thanks; and the slow but measurable progress of a life lived as myself rather than who others want me to be – have led me to apply for a job as a writer for a site called Examiner.com.

Basically, it’s a per-click deal – I get $0.01 for every click on an article I’ve written – and while I’m not planning on retiring to a sprawling villa in Barcelona with my earnings, I am planning to build my portfolio and use this to develop myself professionally and hone my craft.

My official title is “Dayton Gay Issues Examiner” for the Dayton, Ohio (duh) area. My first article will be (let us hope) posted later this week. I’ll let you know when it goes live, but in the meantime, please, stop by and visit my ridiculously dorky bio and picture.

Apparently, there’s already a Transgender Issues Examiner, but I’m hoping the overlap won’t be too much for the market to bear.

*cough*

Now, if I can just figure out a way to clone myself, I can finish my novel this year too. Or at least finish revising it for the 85th time.

The Awesommolier Debut!

Don't worry, I'll eventually design something more attractive.

Don't worry, I'll eventually design something more attractive.

Morning, all! (Who am I, Dixon of Dock Green‘s first-shift doppelganger?)

This is just a quick post to promote The Awesommolier, my new blog that will, as I may have mentioned once or twice elsewhere, bring the Awesome to you.

Now, obviously, not every post will be about conspicuous consumerism and the attainment of free loot, but I thought it’d be nice to kick things off (insert your own lame boot joke here) with a nice little contest.

Also, even if Ugg Boots aren’t your thing, I encourage you to visit the site and click on the link for the Art of Elysium, the charity that benefits DIRECTLY from your participation via the Awesommolier. Ultimately, there’s nothing more awesome than helping others, and that’s what the Awesommolier is all about!

What is Awesome to you?

Hola, faithful readers!

One of the multiple hats I wear on the dark entity known as Twitter is that of the Awesommolier. What, you may ask, is the Awesommolier?

“None of your bee’s wax!” I will say. Then I will remember that I want you to read it, and shrug while smiling sheepishly.

The Awesommolier is an outgrowth of an idea I had for Follow Friday on Twitter. For those of you with actual lives, Follow Friday is a Twitter tradition wherein one recommends other Twitter users one thinks others would benefit from following. In order to instruct The Faithful Horde on who I thought they should I follow, I created the Awesommolier, a role in which I endorse things and people found to be Awesome in my sight.

About a week ago, a friend of mine said to me, “If these things and people are so awesome, you should tell people more about them, instead of just saying “Yo, Horde, this website/vegetable/Eastern European Glamor Model is awesome!”

So, taking their suggestion to heart, I have created The Awesommolier, a weekly blog dedicated to finding and sharing things I find awesome (while also supporting charity; by clicking on the Socialvibe link, you can help sick kids heal through, and learn more about, the arts).

I’m currently accepting suggestions, so if you’ve got anything you think other folks would love to learn more about, I’ll be publishing this week’s issue on Friday, October 23rd. Write-ups and pics are welcome; in future editions, I plan to partake of all things awesome in order to give a real first-person report for the curious and timid.

If it is awesome, and others should be sharing in it, we aim to let you all know! Send me your nouns, your verbs, even your gerunds to the e-mail at left, via this blog, or on Twitter (@LaBarceloneta).

Have it my way, indeed!

So here’s the thing:

While I have labored mightily to throw off the oppressive chains of fast-food enslavement that shackle so many of us to the granite mill-wheel known as Conspicuous Consumerism, I will admit a certain fondness for a certain fast food chain’s coffee. This fondness will, at least once a week, lead me to make a pit stop on my way to work for some coffee and one of their okay-but-certainly-not-in-the-same-league-as-the-coffee sandwiches. Being allergic to pork, I cast aside the hunk of meat nestled within the carbolicious interior and eat the egg and cheese biscuit (sometimes with a little salsa) while I read my morning e-mails at the office.

“Why don’t you just order the sandwich without sausage in the first place, crazy?” you ask in a tone I’m not sure I care for at all. To which I reply: “Because I obey Sov’s First Rule of Drive-Thru’s, which is rendered thusly: “When ordering “off the menu” at a drive-thru of any kind, you may as well say “Hi, can I have a bunch of stuff I didn’t order, and none of the stuff I did?”, because that is what you will get if you deviate one whit from the pre-programmed glyphs chiseled into the register.” Therefore, in the interest of both efficiency and contentment, I order the sandwich as-is and chuck the sausage patty out into the now-deserted factory floor so the weasels and feral cats that have taken up residence can fight for it.

But I digress. My point in sharing with you my fondness for the King’s coffee is not to explain the best way to deal with surplus meat by-products; rather, it is to set up the story of today’s encounter with my local BK, where I am sufficiently well-known that my large coffee is waiting for me even before I place my order and I’m pretty sure the register gal types in my card from memory.

Today, driving into Tipp City behind one of my least favorite vehicles, the R.E.S.T. (Ridiculously, Excrutiatingly Slow Tractor), I checked the time and thought “Yeah, I could go for some delicious BK Joe this morning!” So I pull in, place my order, and pull around to the proverbial second window. Within seconds, I had my coffee, and was waiting on my food to appear with equal alacrity (the appearance, that is, not my waiting. I’m not an especially alacrious waiter). This morning, however, rather than receiving my debit card and a smile, I heard only a series of ominous beeps, followed by the small noises of frustration one commonly makes when stymied by a piece of electronic equipment that’s being muley. A minute or so later, the shift supervisor was called over, and I began to have those thoughts…you know, “Oh, God, did someone steal my identity and empty my account? Did I accidentally order something from eBay in my sleep again? How am I going to pay for this? It’s too early for hooking!”

However, even as I applied additional lipgloss and practiced my “Why don’t we work this out in the back room?” look, the shift supervisor opened the window, handed me my card, and declared:

“It’s on us today – our credit card machine is screwed up.”

WHA? HUH?

Now, don’t get me wrong, here, kids – I’m aware that, as far as Burger King’s concerned, my $4 breakfast is a drop in the greasy, greasy bucket of their world-wide profits. That said, having been on the receiving end of so many negative experiences at fast-food restaurants, it was both refreshing and wonderful to be treated so kindly and competently…so my thanks, I suppose, go not to the megalithic corporation, but to the fine ladies of Burger King #5280, who saw a problem, solved it, and did so in such a friendly and professional way that I must shout to the world (ok, the twelve people who read this) about it!

Oh, and go get a coffee, seriously. It’s so good I drink it black, which, since my conversion to the tribe of canela-and-cream, is exceedingly rare. Of course, I only ever get the coffee in Tipp, so it may be that this particular Burger King has slipped through a wormhole from a parallel universe where all fast food is delicious, fast, and served by smiling, friendly ladies in crisp uniforms (or possibly the alternate timeline in Treehouse of Horror V where it rains donuts).