Monday, 30 December 2013

Let the obnoxious drunks choke on their preferred booze.

I had five days sort of off. It included half a day shopping and half a day of inventorizing... and four days of mostly crying. On the 27th, I got back to work, also known as hellhole, prison, the damn hotel and other loving monikers, and rode on the adrenaline wave. The supplier fucked up my order of tableware that I ordered in advance in case there was an unplanned delay. Well, my fault, I should have planned not only an unplanned delay but also an unplanned unplanned delay. I ordered some sparkling wine and got ten crates of demi sec instead of brut so I needed to send someone to buy said brut because delivery not worky during the weekend. The wine guy promised some extra bottles for the hassle, which were snatched by said someone; I at least guess Mom will leave some for me. When they forgot to add some meat to yet another delivery, I called my assigned representative and told him that it's not my problem whether he beats or blackmails the people who prepare the stuff but could he please make sure that I get my stuff on time next time, thankyouverymuch. He started apologing profusely that these times around Giftmas are busy and messy, to which I gently replied that I'm sure he's sorry but I have other things to do so he can explain it later on. To cut the other story shorter, we have more guests than beds, as BossDad kept promising rooms left and right without bothering to tell the reception or me or someone who would actually make sure there're beds available. I sleep on a sofa, my little cousin and his two dogs sleep on the floor in my room, Boss's buddy got moved twice - at least he's a good sport - and there's a bunch of people who weren't promised actual beds but floor space for their sleeping bags. The Chef was fired two weeks ago, a replacement is here since the 27th and I already told him in no uncertain terms that while I appreciate his insight and experience regarding various stuff, I don't want to hear it now while I'm dealing with the backlog of paperwork left by Exchef, unexpected guests, beer cooling thingy breaking down, lack of champagne and a host of things my brain mercifully deleted meantime. At least Replacement Guy got it very soon and tries not to bother me. Today afternoon, I was already sick in several ways so I went to the wine cellar to cry and cool down, which usually takes about five minutes. At which point BossDad arrived, bringing turkeys and rum and my mom wanted something of extreme urgence such as a pencil or breath mints. When I have a full-blown meltdown, the worst thing to do is to ask What happened to you, Did something happen, Why are you crying when everything is going fine? etc. A while later, when I was trying to calm down by sorting out some papers, mom remarked: I think you should sort out the paperwork to hand it over. When you go like this when things go fine.... this job is not for you. Been telling them all the time. I know I can handle crises and manage chaos. I just can't stand too many people for too long, I can't stand this place in the woods, I can't stand winter here... I'm an organizer, not a person who would smile at the goddamn clients. I actually hate clients; I mean, they're my source of income and I don't hate every person each for some specific reason. It's just people gone over my critical mass, sorry folks, you're more than four-ish for longer than an afternoon. And now, they're drunk, loud and obnoxious. Regarding those who think that getting drunk is great fun, I have quite some disdain for each one in person. Now I'm going to bed onto the sofa. Stay tuned for more whiny rants next year or some other day.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

How deep I fell

I'm taking four different medications to make me sort of function. Just now, a pill of promethazine lodged in my soft palate and is releasing foul bitter taste in my mouth. This is making me sleep and I take it along with zolpidem, which makes me fall asleep. Plus 25 mg of clonazepam to make me a bit less of freakout on (unstable) feet. Yes, benzos, that addictive stuff. And, then, obviously, antidepressants. I reached 225 mg of venlafaxin per day and I'm still a wreck. Food tastes mostly like cement, with the exception of booze which tastes like nail polish remover. I'm scared and I feel guilty, sometimes I feel guilty for being scared and anxious about what's reasonably little things. Reason, however, doesn't enter my decisions on systematic basis. Kitty is lying next to me, she said Meow and farted. That's the high fibre kibble. Life would be so much easier if people could be fed kibble. One of the reasons I hate food is that I run a restaurant. I have too much food on my mind or something. Or my body just gave up and opted for a suicide by starvation, the time will show. I wonder whether I did something wrong, apart from just loitering around and not making a feather toy for Tähti. And not trying to work harder, not liking my job - some people would like to be hotel managers so much while they're wasting their life away as archivists and I'm not grateful at all even though it has many perks, such as easy life, the only possibilities of entertainment being work, booze which tastes like nail polish remover or running towards the woods, screaming incoherently. Oh, I forgot two more, one can walk down the road. Or up the road. There's nothing interesting within decent walking distance to disturb one's piece peace of mind. Now, I'm numb. Maybe it's that combo of sedatives, maybe it's just a state of mind, the other being overwhelming anxiety. I don't particularly like Giftmas. I mean, I quite enjoy those ten minutes of sheer undiluted sentiment and pathos when digging through the ornaments acquired 30 years ago, food used to be okay so let's give it a benefit of doubt even this year, gifts are of two sorts: those I procured myself and those that scare me shitless. Thus I'm getting an antique garnet necklace and a pink silk scarf, which is fine if I'm getting paid for them, and something oh-so-cool mother has been ranting about since November. I'm scared that she spent a lot of money on something I'm not going to like. I would love a good atlas of bryophytes (that's mostly mosses for those who don't go after all things green). Or a chocolate egret. (Why egret? No idea. Bald eagle in chooclate would be okay, too.) And nobody ever asks what I'd really want. Which raises an important question: what would I want? Just now, I'd want to be alone, along with my kitty. That's what I told the therapist. She shook her head and said that it's somewhat childish. To be continued, meds are kicking in.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

There's something wrong with the world

I'm having rather a bad time. It's the upcoming winter, busy season at work or just general meanness of the Universe but everything I do just goes wrong.

The other day, I fell out of a tram and splatted in the middle of the road. I wasn't even drunk.

I'm late with work, which is normal because I'm not the best person for the job, if I put it mildly. Actually it seems that I'm even more behind than usual. I'm certain there's a disaster in the making, if things seem to go moreless smoothly, there's always something to happen. I guess it's not necessary to list every little failure, nobody cares about sending the wrong papers to the wrong person and stuff like that.

I can't bring myself to be interested. Not that I was ever particularly enthused about working in a hotel but I had my little pleasures - organising stuff and the like and now I don't care. It needs to be done, it gets done. Slower than usual and probably worse than the usual bad.

Well, I'm just a pathetic loser. Unable to make my mind whether I want to join the party at work or not, or to find what I actually want from life apart from ten hours of sleep.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Life is out there

I had a four-day course which meant a business trip. To an actual city with paved sidewalks, trams, actual shops with things - hey, I bought a bottle of anti-dandruff shampoo on a whim, just because my head started to itch when I was passing by one of the many pharmacies. On Sunday I felt bad from the very morning. I finished my course, passed the test (killed only three people out of 40 or so) and then had a meltdown in public, in front of a bunch of strangers. I sat on the staircase, crouched and crying for no apparent reason... yesterday, I had a meltdown because I was going back to work, to that bunch of assholes less competent individuals to a place in the middle of nowhere. I pulled myself together somehow but I became painfully aware that the job from hell is just what it is. No way I can be a manager. I can't be managing people if I'm so scared or inhibited to yell at them or to tell them what to do, preferring to cover up for their mistakes and do what they should be doing because it brings less discomfort than actually telling someone that they messed up. On the other hand, carrying beer kegs is good for upper body strength.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


I'm struggling with severe depression, which is probably already widely known.
On the top of it, there's some work-related stress, seasonal affective disorder and random crap.
I had a meltdown some time ago and got new psych meds which should work better. Or work at all.
The problem of psych meds is that they need their time and it seems to me that they finally kicked in, or at least I don't feel that bad. However...
My major issue is apathy. Or, it's not much of an issue because what the heck. Not that I would lie in bed and stare into the walls, I just go about my shit as diligently as possible but I just don't get involved emotionally too much, often not at all. My major feeling is Go away and don't disturb my circles. Five minutes after a minor bout of anger, I'm back to the general Meh, life.

I guess it's a coping mechanism. I just detest my work 99% of the time (the 1% is peaceful paper shuffling), I have hardly any time outside work and sleep and the brain takes it as it comes and as it goes. Floods in Bangladesh? Can't do anything about it, meh, next. My hair caught fire? Damn nuisance, hand me that bottle of water, let's open the window so that the place doesn't stink like burnt protein, meh, next.
There is some sort of meditative quality about this feeling that nothing really matters.

Or I'm deeply mentally disturbed. Not that I'd care.

Friday, 11 October 2013


A guy called. He asked whether we could lodge and feed a bunch of people for two days, I said Yes, sure, we have vacancies.

Then I got a long list of stuff to be served, including a roasted piglet, if possible.
I said Yeah, no biggie but for the pig, I have to ask my suppliers whether they'd be able to deliver it on time and I'll talk to the chef whether it's doable. I billed the advance payment and went to do my job, which is mainly organizing, yelling, headdesking and keeping sober despite the circumstances.

I asked the chef: Hey, would you be able to roast a whole pig?
He said: Yeah, sure, whatever, I'll manage somehow, I could get a pre-cooked pig from The Meatworks, it would be easier to deal with. And, party, you say, that will rock, can't wait for all the cooking, hooray.
I replied: Excellent, so the pig business is all yours, I'll provide the drinks and candy, right?
Chef responded with a big Yes and I went back to my usual worries.
On Sunday, Chef said Alright, this is fixed, that is organized and you get the pig. I remarked that he promised to get the pig, he mumblegrumbled something and said Oh, well, whatevs, get the pig.

I phoned my sales representative in Metro. I think he likes me, most of his customers need lots of boring things like flour and milk all the time while we the fancy hotel ask for exciting shit. He only gasped shortly when I ordered a pig and then promised to ask around whether we could get a pig on Tuesday.

I went back to my paperwork and my tired mind conjured a scene, in which the delivery driver unloads a crate of coffee, some beer, a few boxes of cookies and then hands me a piece of rope to whose other end a boar is tied, saying This is Louie and Lousie saying "Oink". I called again and said Please, I need the pig dead. Now, the Metro guy gasped longer, then laughed for a while and when he caught his breath, he asked Oh my god, what happened. Long time ago, he came to understand that things sometimes get pretty odd here, that I have damn good reasons to think three corners ahead. Eh... well..., for example. I was promised that the pig will be totally dead and gutted.

I called the Chef and told him that all is set, pig is ordered. Smoked or roasted, he asked.

- Nope, just raw.
- But I wanted it cooked.
- You asked me to get you a pig. You didn't provide any specs regarding its state so I made sure it's dead, right? I snarked. - It will take a long time to roast and it's complicated and it would be much easier if it were pre-cooked. Also, The Boss said that he once had a smoked pig here, why didn't he get a smoked pig, the Chef yelled at me.
- Dear, I groaned. The smoked pig you refer to, I happened to see it. It was a piglet-shaped ham. You know, because I explicitly warned you several times, that I'm no expert when it comes to meat. I can't prepare it, I don't know even theoretically how one deals with it, I don't even eat it that much and if so, then preferably thinly sliced. You wanted a pig, you have a pig, deal with it. (See, I'm being assertive at this point.)
- Mumblegrumble, but is the advance already paid, because, if they just order all that food and don't show up, we'll be left with a pig and The Boss said that unless the advance is paid, nothing should be bought, and, anyway, everything is your fault and the pig should have been pre-cooked because now someone will be roasting it for two days. - I'll deal with The Boss and you have a pig to deal with, riiiiight?

At this point, the Chef hung the phone. I hope he's offended indeed mortally so that I don't need to deal with him any more.

Later, the Metro guy called again that hey, cool, we'll deliver the pig tomorrow. Or on Friday, if it suits you better.
At this point, it was me who gasped. We have no such big fridge so I replied that while his diligence is laudable, I ordered the pig for Tuesday so would they please hang it in their walk-in hangar fridge.

The advance payment hasn't arrived yet. The group has been here quite a few times so I hope they would eventually show up... the pig business has been stressful enough already.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Gods laugh when one makes plans

I hoped this would be a neat semibusy week at work. Three events in a row, a few random guests, nothing much to fuck up.

The Universe thought differently.

It actually started on Friday. Dad didn't really want to throw a birthday party but various relatives urged him so long that he caved. Mom decided to invite the smarter and nicer folks a day earlier for a bit of friendly chitchat, which did happen indeed. I was in a shitty mood because I'm simply not a party person, the evening dragged on, I was tired so I went to bed, stared at the internet...
When I decided that it's time for Ambien and some sleep, the receptionist called that the other receptionist is sick or something, that the ambulance are loading her in the car. Alright, I said, I'll be there in a second. The other phone rung, mom started screaming that the idjit called ambulance saying she got mushroom poisoning and where are the mushrooms from etc. I know my shit so I said Frozen Mushroom mix, delivered by Whatever Ltd., one kilo packages, yellow bag with pics of mushrooms, acquired around a week ago, kept in the freezer, thankyouverymuch, I'll be there in a sec.
Before I found my jeans and further brain functions, problem was solved, the ambulance drove away and mom said that when the docs heard that it wasn't some stuff picked at the back door but storebought produce, they wanted to drop the gal off; mom however told them to take her away. The idiot sneaked outside through the lobby full of people, didn't say a word and if it weren't for a waitress walking her dog, I'd ask about her when she wouldn't have shown up for work. Because, you know, telling someone is a tough job.
There are two sorts of mushroom poisoning. In the first case, one gets violently sick and throws up everything and more, been there, done that, morale of the story: don't trust a mushrooming botanist.
The other sort of poisoning makes you yellow and you'll need a new liver.
Nothing in between, as the three M. D.s, one nurse and one pharmacist who were sitting in the lobby, having a good time, explained.

On Monday, the maintenance alerted me that the room the receptionist was using was locked from inside. As she supposed to be in hospital, it was suspected that her boyfriend sneaked in. She had already brought him to the house, he got kicked out, she whined that it's not fair, they want to be together etc, I said No damn way... and there we went again. I banged the door a few times with no response, decided to let the intruder have ten diplomatic minutes for getting out of there in a discreet manner, lather, rinse, repeat... and then I called the cops. I also phoned the receptionist, asked her, Do you have your keys with you, to which she replied a resolute Yes! and when I remarked that incidentally, someone is locked in her room from the inside, she started muttering that she'll fix it or some such.
The officers did their door banging and the guy finally deigned to open the door. I asked him to go away now, to which he replied that oh why, he just dropped by to pick his girlfriends' things and it's so mean to call the cops and what's wrong with staying there overnight. The police told him to grab his things and get lost and told me that they had seen much better acting jobs.
Later on, the receptionist came to pick her stuff, with boyfriend in tow, and they wanted to 'discuss a few things'. It took around half an hour, during which I was accused of being Meany Meanersson because there's no damage or loss incured when the guy stays here, and, well, the insurance wouldn't cover any damages or injuries he might have caused or suffered but nothing happened so it's all okay, there's nothing wrong in borrowing workplace keys to one's buddies when it's meant well, and, most important of all, they both want work and lodging or they'll go elsewhere, and why not lodge them when there's a plenty of rooms and that I betrayed their trust by calling the cops on the poor Mr. Entitled.
My serfs obviously had Christmas in October, heard me yelling twice in one day and that's good, they think I'm soft and malleable and it's good to have them a bit scared that the next dose of shrapnel may hit them.
Then, I wanted to go and grab a drink but I wasn't in the mood.

Next time: The pig story.
PSI: While I kept the 'bunch of idiots' tag for a certain set of classmates from long time ago, I'm reviving it because it's a damn useful descriptor.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Misplaced and excavated

I had another rough patch of which I might tell the most honorable readership later. However, I seem to have got over the worst bits, or I'm so utterly bored that I started cleaning. It requires moving things there and back as dust accumulates behind and between the random clutter and as it happened, I had a few other things on my mind, a few things I've been looking for. I haven't found those yet but I have, purely accidentally, located the following: The card for Kungliga Biblioteket in Stockholm. Not that I needed it but it's a pretty card and it may come handy in case I went to Stockholm again and it rained or something. It was in the box with old bills, tickets and various other pieces of paper I'm keeping for some reason. A box of yarn that included seven skeins of some Grignasco merino dyed in shades of blue. The Grignasco company went under, I hear, and I've been missing said yarn for more than a year. Not that I needed it although I did have a vague plan for it - I don't recall what plan, though. And a skein of mostly cashmere sock yarn (there are three more somewhere out there). Bag full of photos from my first stay in Italy some 9 years ago, from the predigital times. They clearly illustrate that one needs 50 shots for one decent picture, that taking pics in dark buildings is an utmost vanity and that I looked somewhat better back then. A package of anxiolytics located in an otherwise empty box. Not that I wouldn't have plenty but psych meds may always come useful. A sample of Lapidus' Envol perfume. The internet lore says that it's the same thing as Lancome's Envol but it is not, not at all. I have both now so I can debunk that one. Someday, not promising anything.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Getting out of the hellhole

My parents hardly say anything about my work beyond Do not think that other jobs are just okay all the time or Work harder. I'm not actually complaining too much in general (1) and even less to them. Yet, the other day, mom forwarded me a notice that Technical University of Civilized Town that there's an opening for a part-time teaching gig at the Faculty of Art and Architecture and prompted me to apply and not to tell dad. I shared the idea with my friends who voted unanimously for Go and try it so I found my diploma (not a difficult job, the big tube is hard to lose), got a credential and intended to write a CV. At which point I got stuck. A friend arrived to the hotel for two days. We landed at the bar, being served by one of the worse gossips, talked intellectual shit ranging from differences between Finnish and Estonian, Latin poetry and various geekeries. The waitress probably regretted not having elephant ears – I know she spreads gossip about me, or, well, downright lies, and now she'd have a lot of fodder if she only understood the difficult words or, well, the general point, such as when I was explaining the word 'vittu' and its derivatives and their use as curses in Finnish. Or Florentine epigrams (those guys at least spread the gossip in written and in verse, pasted to the public well). Or... whatever. Just the normal talk. The next day, the task was to get to the post office to mail the papers. Jean-Pierre graciously helped me to write the CV, or, to be exact, wrote it after he asked me about what I had done and such. My self-confidence keeps saying things like Oh, it's no biggie, it was just a grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, anyone can get that. I basically felt as if I were polishing a piece of shit but J.-P. is an experienced academic nomad so I left it up to him. We walked through the woods – the other option was to wait for two hours until they open and then go to the local post office, hoping that they are open in the afternoon as well. Letter was posted and now I'm waiting. Actually, I do hold hopes. An opening is not advertised a month before the start of the academic year, which means that someone died or got pregnant with triplets without informing the department in reasonable advance and they need someone, anyone, with a certain degree of literacy, who would take said job NAO. Or, with about the same likelihood, the spot is kept for a friend of a friend and it was announced publicly because it's required by the law and I won't get a decent answer even. Whatevs. Now I'm waiting. ______________________________________________ (1) Should anyone want to point out that whenever I talk about work, it's all curses and screams with a recurrent theme of I want to get out of that hellhole!!!!11!1!elebenty!!!, as it is not too much, given the general crap I'm dealing with.

Monday, 5 August 2013

The smell of cyanide in the morning

I needed the terrace cleaned. The good old things like hot vinegar, some chemical shit to remove calcareous deposits and copious amounts of scrubbing didn't help much so I got a bottle of industrial strenght something. It had all sorts of warnings (corrosive, will tear your heart and drink your blood, use respirator and hazmat suit etc.) and when poured on the crap, it reacted, producing a lot of foam and something relatively easy to scrub off. It kept dissolving sponges and brushes, too. While smelling of bitter almonds. I don't really know why, for goodness' sake, on perfumes, you get all the linalools and citronellals, which may be and often are constituents of natural oils, and on various household and chemical plant products say Less than five percent of non-ionogenic tenzides; acid. I want to know what caused the bitter almond smell, was it hydrocyanic acid or some smell-alike? I couldn't have enough of that smell, it was beautiful, weren't it for another acid smell, good old vinegar, or, to be exact, concentrated acetic acid, which came along. They could keep the acetic acid for themselves but I'd love to have a bottle of bitter almonds. Terrace cleaned, new gunk may build up.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Breakfast of champions

Yesterday I did some cleaning. Or, to be exact, minor cleaning whose main part was to pick wine bottles and food gone bad to take it to the trash. I can't say I actually suffer from anorexia as I don't suffer. I just don't feel like eating most of the time and mommy keeps sending me food. It's a season of strawberries, green peas and such stuff which doesn't last as long as pretzels do; I do my best to eat it all up but it just doesn't work. I have barely any appetite. In my old life, I'd - oh shit, I called this awful episode of depression and work which I still fail to like 'new life'? - I'd be glad that I'm losing weight. These days, I don't really care unless the clothes get uncomfortable. I can't even bring myself to be happy that one day, I'll feel fine in general and about my weight loss. Also, no need to worry about my wine consumption, I usually have a glass in the afternoon, and half a bottle once upon a time. I just don't take the bottles away often enough. Well, my apartment is cold and wet. I went through my newest herbary acquisitions and most of them, basically all the thicker plants, dried too slowly, with chlorophyll decomposing, and turned brown. Even the green ones weren't properly dried and got more or less crinkled when exposed to air slightly less wet than the newspaper. I'm slightly pissed which is good, any emotion than sheer despair and let-me-die-now is good, and I've always prided myself for the aesthetic values of my herbary. The office is much warmer and drier, I'll press my plants here. See? The stereotype management works. Yesterday I had a shower, even washed my hair, ate four tortillas with something, herbarized for a while... well, not really, I'm still short on clean clothes, reasonable food intake and keeping sane. Today's a new day. For breakfast, I had half a glass of wine and a dose of psych meds. So it goes.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

At least something.

I got to the verge of nervous breakdown, got back on antidepressants. After a month, I'm back to a maximum dose of citalopram and I feel worse than what I had thought the utter bottom: the feeling that I should only plop down to the ground and be dead. Nope, I'm not suicidal, I totally don't plan to kill myself. Either I have too much of an ego or too much of a responsibility but I would feel compelled to clean up my table and files and that's a major task (see Augeas'stables to get a better idea). I'm just tired by all the things. I'm trying, though. I read somewhere reasonable that keeping the stereotypes helps to maintain normality, illusion of thereof, or makes going back to usual easier, or, simply, that it's good for you. Funnily enough, I've been managing most of work just about okay without falling to the ground staying fallen. The rest... not so much. So: (1) Brush teeth (2) Take meds - while I hang onto them as something that preserves last bits of sanity, I still keep forgetting (3) Put on at least mostly clean clothes - yes, finding a clean top/panties requires much more physical and mental energy than grabbing yesterday's one. (4) Brush hair thoroughly, not that it just looks somewhat neat on surface (5) Fluids (6) Fluids (7) Herbary work - I have a heap of pressed plants and a heap of erratic notes. My memory tends to fail when I'm depressed. The more I'm delaying it, the worse it will get. (8) Zazen - just because (9) Wine is not balanced diet. Even if I alternate cépages or years. Another sensible meal. (10) Third sensible meal. Anything made of two and more food items, of which one may be wine, counts as sensible meal for now. (11) Shower. (12) A little bit of cleaning at least. As for yesterday, I ate something (what the hell it was, is another puzzle to solve), took meds, drank two small bottles of water and took the trash away, for a total score of 4. Life rocks.

Thursday, 9 May 2013


I'm down with depression again. Next week I'm going to a book fair so I'll drop at the shrink's - haven't been there since around September because then I wanted to go on a day of sudden snow when traffic was stuck and after that, I got stuck at the damn hotel which ate all my nerves while I was running out of antidepressants. Last winter I needed stronger shit so now it's probably time for change of meds. Accidentally, Hyperbole and a Half published a piece on depression today. It seems that everyone has already read it but I'm linking it anyway. It sent me thinking, what was my shrivelled corn of inexplicable laughter... and I couldn't remember any such turning point. Well, maybe after my first bout of depression, which ended quite spectacularly (no fireworks or some such, just a nervous breakdown, suicide attempt and the general quiet and discreet spectacle of depression), I came to a conclusion that it's all in my hands, that I can kill myself any time I want, I don't have to live if I don't want to. Life framed not as compulsory but as an option became less overwhelming. No corn, no instant enlightment. I can related to the crumpled hoodie, though. It's all the same again. The last time, I fucked up my Ph. D. due to depression and resulting inability to communicate effectively. These days, I could only fuck up my job, which I probably hate, can't really decide as it's too hard a work. I should probablz go and do something reasonable. If I only knew what could that be.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013


After less than comfortable night, I got up early, packed my stuff as neatly as possible and hung around, feeling grumpy for no reason (some theorists say that one can always find a reason to feel grumpy but I'm of a pessimist disposition so I do not need to go reason hunting, for me, life sucks all the time unless specified otherwise). Then I learned that several people were robbed. I sometimes feel like the last just and reasonable person and having had a few unlucky experiences in my life, I insisted that the afflicted individuals go to the police. Nobody listened. El Mínimo Líder decided that we're a botanical expedition, we go plant-hunting, we have no time to lose with minutiae, generously ignoring popular whine. At the end, he decided that we'll talk to the campsite manager, let's wait when she comes to work. I mildly protested, saying that even if the campsite wanted to deal with it for one reason or another, which is unlikely, they need to have a police protocol for reasons of insurance or whatever else and that it would be advisable, regarding the time constriction, to go to the police straight away. We hung around for a while, the manager came, said Go to the gendarmerie and that was it. I offered myself to go along, having dealt with a few less than user-friendly institutions (I briefly remembered how I yelled at an officer who told me that I had been my stupidity to get robbed that while stupidity is what it is, it's not a criminal offence and none of his business, while theft is, so could he please proceed and do his job NOW, thankyouverymuch). I had also rediscovered my ability to speak French, not good French but workable one. At the gendarmerie, we got some photocopied forms to be filled in, or, to be exact, “you can fill this in outside or elsewhere, you don't need to be here, full stop”, with a photocopied stamp. Nobody at the station spoke decent English or any other language than French so it was somewhat difficult. After three rounds of explaining that for purposes of insurance and stuff, we need an original stamp, we were repeatedly told that On le fait comme-ça en France. I and Minister went to ask to the Police Nationale whether this is indeed how things are done in France. Minister called his friends in politics and diplomacy, El Mínimo Líder called the embassy with the same question and indeed, things were confirmed to be done this way in France. Meantime, we filled in our papers and went back to the Gendarmerie to see what happens. The gal, erm, officer, signed them and that was it. I'll ask the afflicted persons how it went with their insurance companies and authorities, as some IDs were stolen, too. It seems that there's a lot of petty crime going on and that nobody cares. I'd imagine that this is how things work in, say, Romania. I never dealt with Romanian police and I fully intend not to but one hears stories. One also hears stories that France is actually civilized. Oh well.

Monday, 29 April 2013

High expectations, high precipitation

It rains and rains, which plainly sucks. We got kicked out in Arles, too rainy for plants, good enough for sightseeing. I saw St. Trophime, tried to recollect whatever knowledge remained from the most excellent lectures on French Romanesque (which didn't work), got a postcard, learned that stamp is timbre in French (live and learn) and got lost. I yet need to see the map of Arles but I strongly suspect some urbanistic catch compared to Florence – Roman street plan with some unexpected alteration. Or, worse, my otherwise excellent sense of space is going the way of dodo. Also, Arles lacks mailboxes. The plan was changed, instead of going somewhere to Pyrennees-Orientales and then to Cape Creus, these two were switched as it should be beyond the mountains and warmer down south, which it was. Meantime, we stopped somewhere off Perpignan at a gas station for peeing, coffee and whatever. Someone checked the curb, found orchids and El Minimo Lider decided to take one hour of a break (we had one and half for Arles, by the way) to check plants. I got out, found some Allium roseum and a storm came. Within 20 seconds, I was drenched and my mood got down to absolute zero. Everything gets worse with wet feet. We got to the general area of Figueres. Been there some 20 years ago and since then, street signs and stuff changed to Catalan. I just need to learn this language, pity I didn't start back at the university, there was a handful of courses going on in our building. Or, maybe it would have sucked. I had actually downloaded a textbook back in January but had no time to study since. Next time. Catspotting: One tabby at a gas station somewhere in France. When I called her, she gave me a disgusted look and went away. One tuxedo, one calico, one red and white, all three of them pretty big, in a courtyard of a country house somewhere off Figueres where we stopped for plant hunting.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A long sigh of relief

The chaos on wheels which is one of my current jobs has been sorted out a little bit. We hired a few people so I don't need to do a job meant for five, actually, I can only do my shit and steer my deputy (of sorts) who is new to the place and needs (1) some of his enthusiasm culled (2) to be shown where things and places are. After a long and dreary winter, the cold white crap dissolved even up in the mountains. I was somewhat annoyed watching the brown plant matter emerging from under heaps upon heaps of snow, knowing that down back home where my first work and mommy dearest reside, there're crocuses and stuff in full bloom and I'm missing all that and when I'll get back up there, I'll miss the very start of spring as well. Now I should pull up a pic from my botanizing trip from, say, October, but it's stacked on a portable drive somewhere out there. No, I didn't have time to sort out pictures or herbary entries or just about anything. Life got out of reins, that's it. My dad had some long-standing health issues of somewhat unidentifiable nature which the honorable members of medical profession waved away as You're getting old, my good man, live with it, or It's idiopathic pain, we can't do anything. Or, the worst, You're just fine, it's all in your head. When dad got to a stage when he was barely able to walk, someone got the idea that leg pains might have their source not in the ankles but somewhere upwards, ordered a sCT of the whole spine and there it was, some bone growth that pressed on the nerves and wrought havoc in everything. The solution was a surgery ASAP, hopefully the guy doesn't get paralyzed meantime. The whole process of finding out took half a year and one of the consequences was that I got a bunch of keys thrown at me with an instruction of Run the business. The rest is hinted here. I'm not good with people. I'm introverted and insecure, with my negativist tendencies thrown in. I've worked in very intellectual environment... and I ended up trying to manage a bunch of people ranging from 'somewhat normal, working hard' to individuals dumber than a box of rocks, museum-worthy specimens of laziness and thieving scum. Admittedly, thieving scum might not be sheer thieving scum but chaotic idiots with a bit of theft and scummery thrown in but I don't want to know. I had to step away from the idealist view that all people, if they try at least a bit, can behave in a reasonable way, that they have manners, common sense and a vague idea of what they are doing. Wrong on all counts. I still need to learn that saying Could you kindly do this? doesn't yield anything, that I have to say or sometimes yell Go and do it now! and repeat it a few times. The worst thing... the guests. I know I know, a hotel can't work well without guests but I only have a certain limit of tolerance for people. Make it too long, too many, too willing to interact - and my brain changes into cortisol-laden jelly. At least the Food and Beverages Manager, generally known as Chef, is happily messing around and chattering. Most importantly, on Saturday, I'm going for a holiday. Two weeks of botanizing, folks. I'm terribly unprepared, under normal conditions, I'd already learned some Catalan just for the heck of it and made extensive notes on places and things to see. So far, I've noted down to take my copy of Polunin and Smythies and asked a friend to lend me a tent which I need to pick yet. I hope I'll gather up some energy to start blogging somewhat more intensively than as of late. (I was told that my writing style resembles that of Helen Fielding of Bridget Jones' Diaries fame; this certainly creates a sort of obligation.) There're plants, knitting, possibly some gratuitous cat pics, I kept a bottle of Guerlain's Dawamesk on my table for months before I moved it back to safe storage. I also should take a few shots, I somewhat got pissed with my hair colour and I've already booked an appointment at my hairdresser to do something about it. Which will be funny as I've worn the same bleached hair for some 15 years and adapted my wardrobe to it. Well, things to do, places to go, stuff to blog about. I'll try to be back earlier than in six weeks.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Catastrophic curve

Things were not going exactly well at around the time of my last post but they were sort of manageable. Then, diplomatic flu struck. One receptionist refused to work under the same roof as one of the temps, the manager and the other receptionist, her son, smelled a rat as it became apparent that there is quite some chaos in the warehouse files, and oddly enough, things are only missing, no extras. I ended up working two shifts per in the reception/bar when the hotel was nearly full while trying to handle paperwork, orders, bookings, kitchen, maids and just about everything. We did find a receptionist who rocks but we totally need another one, not only because I can't stand the job but because I have a plenty of other shit to do. Well, I'm doing one shift at the reception, some waitressing and the whole management thing. It would be exciting for a day or two but I'm in my third week and I'm drained. I'm not a people person and all that small talk, be it in person or over the phone, with total strangers and many of them in the asshole spectrum just eats my mental powers away, causing a permanent headache. Meantime, dad was finally diagnosed with Something wrong in his neck - spinal surgery needed ASAP. Life is fun.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Burgos shawl

I read this article and liked the woven stripes on the scarves the article is about and decided to reproduce them in knitting. I had a hard time making the horizontal lines look the way I wanted - regular stranded knitting would show the zigzag edges between colours so I added a plastic element.

The stripes are made in two colours (A, B) and then in two shades (1, 2) of striping yarn thusly, starting from purlside:

Row 1: purl in colour B
Row 2: hold two strands of colour B together, the shades should differ. Purl one in shade 1; twist yarns by 180°, purl one in shade 2, repeat until the end of row. Twisting the two yarns helps a bit but this is a pain in the arse anyway.
Row 3: purl 3 in colour A, purl 3 in colour B. If stitch count is not divisible by 6, improvise.
Row 4: knit 3 in colour A, purl 3 in colour B to make columns.
Row 5: as row 3
Row 6: Break colour B, turn the fabric, purl.
Row 7: Use two shades of colour B similarly to row 2, twist the yarn in other direction. While breaking the yarn is not high in my books as I generally prefer to respect the yarn, knitting this from the reverse side, which means having the twists on the back, is just awful.

Stripes are used to one's liking.

Should anyone notice that the blue yarn on the left is apparently handdyed and the breaks between balls are visible - you're right. The darker yarn is indeed darker. Oddly enough, both were the same colour as per ball bands. I thought 9 balls would be enough but they're only 70-ish metres and 25 grams and I wanted a larger wrap. The yarn, OnLine Linie 150, is discontinued so when the dark blue stuff arrived, I was somewhat angry but I decided to make do. I have five balls in grey which will be dyed someday soon.

Today I made a pic of my progress and only then I noticed that since the 2nd stripe, I forgot about the edging (simple stuff, p2 k1 p2 edge, purl on the reverse) and being as anal as I am, I'm correcting it. The edge is rolling towards the back which is why I didn't see the problem immediately but only after 150 or 200 rows.

Little white magicians

It was Nanny Ogg or one of the Ephebean philosophers who said that a jar of marmalade now is no biggie while a promise of a jar of marmalade somewhere beyond the horizon keeps people going on and on and on.

In my case, it's the botanical expedition in May. Long time to go yet and meantime I need to watch the goddamn cold white stuff falling and to deal with people.

My shrink kept prescribing anxiolytics, just in case, and sleeping pills, just in case. I guess that my internal system is set to a day which lasts 24 hours and five minutes because after some time, I have problem falling asleep and a bit of zolpidem not only knocks me off but causes silly dreams (which I probably don't dare to publish. On the other hand, half of my traffic goes from a discussion server where they've already been mentioned. Maybe one day).

The job is stressful, the bunch of idiots filthy underlings employees try how far my nerves will stretch, or maybe they're just dumber than a box of rock, who knows, who cares.

I bought another plant book, I knit and I keep nomming chemicals. I suspect that it's rather the placebo effect than anything else as I hear that good old benzodiazepins work the best but they're somewhat addictive. Well, I think that an addiction is just a mild discomfort compared to the feeling that blood and brain matter is gushing out of my ears after having to listen to some idiotic whine over and over.

Monday, 28 January 2013

How I met interior designers

Case One

My cousin's girlfriend is one. I guessed, based on her appearance, that she has that sort of very showy taste but one day, I asked her for some superficial study of my place. I told her that I like natural wood, white walls, I would like to preserve all of my current furniture, that I need more bookshelves, bigger table and some sort of cupboard for my perfume collection.

I don't have the pics of the result.

I got one wall in quite acerbic green (something like acid green but not so much), one wall in deep purple, very extensive shelving of thin plyboard in dark brown and purple, something in the size of dressing table... One room was divided by a partition "to break the space, it's uncomfortably big", and the partition had mirrors on one side "to make the space look larger". My (as owned by me, not made by me) artworks didn't match the colour scheme so they were replaced by some Ikea art. There was some wallpaper in quite acerbic green, too, with some vaguely floral motifs because "I like flowers".

I remarked that the shelves are brown and I detest brown as previously stated, and that they're too small and too thin for any actual use. "It's just a sketch", the designer said, "the shelves will be custom made for the books." "Arglebargle? I think I entirely miss your point." "You know, books 30 cm tall will go in one shelf, books 28 cm tall will go to another," the designer elaborated. "Eh... there's a problem. I don't sort books by size but by general theme," I protested. The designer didn't hesitate a second. "Sorting them by size will save space." "I prefer my working order to saving space," I insisted and then I added, "You know, I have the books for certain practical uses like study, not for decoration or else I'd just get a metre of greens and two metres of blues, don't you think. Also, whatever the height, I fully intend to keep my bookshelves, they're lovely." The designer missed the snerk and the point entirely. "Oh, blonde wood is so out. You don't need to throw the shelves away, you can move them to the basement and use them to store marmalades."

Obviously, I coughed up around 2000 euros for great furniture which I love only to move it somewhere to store crap. And I'll sort books by size and colour because they're just decorative bricks. Yeah, sure, whatever.

Case Two

For some reasons which are not exactly important, the Boss invited an interior designer, allegedly specialized in restaurants and places of this sort, to the hotel. Because she did stuff for Boss' buddy who runs a restaurant. Been to the restaurant and I must say that parquet ceiling and dark blue walls coupled with very small windows and chairs made of wood that looks like plastic didn't really impress me.

The hotel was built in the late 1970's and all the owners failed to destroy the once very modern and for the time and place extremely luxurious interiors. Wood and stone panelling that would be worth a damn lot of money these days, those few original chairs that remained cost half of an average monthly wage back then and despite some damages and less than tasteful additions, the place looks great.

The designer gal was suspicious to me on the first sight. Anyone who wears lots of fake jewellery and a Vuitton bag along with sweatpants is suspicious when it comes to questions of taste.

When she started pointing at the panelling and explaining that wood is so out, that the best thing would be to paint it white, or maybe purple or green would do, and that the white walls are too sharp and bright, that toning them down to beige or taupe would be cool and that all that stone is too rustic...


WTF. Also, I got me a real architect, with 6 years of college, not just some weekend course plus diligent study of Elle Maison, with a real diploma and some brains. When she saw the panelling and stone, she was delighted and ran to check everything about the 1970's interior. Normal people exist somewhere out there.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A can of worms

I got a new job in October. It wasn't a particularly defined position, in fact, it was a pretty nondescript position of Someone who does databases and various things for a hotel. I was peacefully doing various sorts of data entries, untouched by education or experience, struggled with the software in many ways but it sorta worked. I made a database of some 300 recipes as requested, created files for materials that were not listed as on stock, submitted the database, went on to do some research and digging in stuff, created a menu. And it was tough. The baseline was low. Very low. The hotel as a whole wasn't earning much and it was because the kitchen was deep in red numbers. Not that I'd wondered why after I was poisoned by salmon here back in summer, so the brand new software for tracking everything was acquired... One cook went on a sick leave to show who's the boss. She was heard saying that she's not going to follow some fucking recipes, she's cooking foods that taste well (okay, the salmon made me sit on the bathroom floor, waiting whether there'll be projectile vomiting or not but it was not that bad taste-wise) and she wanted to show the management that she's indispensable. The manager was messing around during the New Year period and in January, she decided she needs a break. In the peak season, obviously. The Boss said Okay, but in January, not February when we're packed up to the roof. So, I'm subbing.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Mother Nature is a bitch

It's January 6 or 7. I went to toss something to the compost heap and noticed my croci (or crocuses, if you want) sprouting. The same thing happened last year. Warm winter, no snow, croci, hyacinths and what else sprouting... and then the temperatures fell to around -15 and killed my plants. The bulbs recovered but my Madeiran Selaginella which happily lived through a bit of snow and frost died despite mulch and a heap of spruce branches. Warm and snowless winters suck in the business but personally, I could live with spring starting tomorrow. I will not hurry to claim that I've recovered from my winter depressions but this year, I'm okay. Or, to be exact, not going through the depressive downs. I'm not happy and I have a constant itch to make the things turn green and run outside among them. Damn... I haven't dealt with the herbary backlog from the previous season yet. And I forgot to sow some stuff that needs to be exposed to cold. Gardening is a winter job, too.