Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

January 25, 2008

Life in Civic: A nature documentary

Filed under: news of the day — lexifab @ 12:40 pm

I’m used to getting to work around 8 or 8:30. Today I slinked in at a quarter past 10, hoping nobody would notice. Apart from the cruel damage that late arrivals and early departures are doing to my banked flex hours, it’s a pain in the arse walking to work so late, because it’s generally started to get hot by that time.

This morning there was the added disadvantage that the usual early morning pre-work crowds had thinned out by the time I arrived, allowing the predatory charity jackals to single me out and bring me down. Anyone who has spent any time in the civic centre of any city knows who I’m talking about – packs of young people with clipboards prowling the main thoroughfares, hunting for donations to a bewildering array of (admittedly worthy) charitable causes.

It’s somewhat uncharitable, but I really dislike these guys, the way I dislike all fast-talking salesmen with their uninterruptible spiels and their interposing-but-not-quite-hostile body language. The guy I ran into this morning – no, wait, he ran into me, spotting me a mile off and cutting across on an intercept course that would have made George Gregan beam with pride – was a typical specimen; friendly, enthusiastic, earnest, self-confident. Horrific, really. He started talking and grinning and sympathisizing with how late I was (I really was, more than an hour late, it wasn’t just a line, dammit, but did that matter to the Chariterminator? Not visibly). He talked about The Problem (I’ll not single out the specific charity here – they’re all interchangeable at this level in any case), he pointed to pictures of People Suffering, he implied that a Solution is Just Around the Corner. He also appealed to my sense of national pride, which was a tactical error practically guaranteed to get my globalism-loving dander up, but on this occasion he got away with it. Then he presented the clipboard, bedecked in donor authorisation forms (carbon copies ahoy!), and before I knew what I was doing there was my signature alongside my modest monthly contribution to The Cause.

I’ll own up – at the best of times I am a complete pushover. I loathe the fact that despite being wholly aware of each and every item on the high pressure sales technique checklist being rolled out and launched at me  – the relentless eye contact, the non-aggressive assertiveness, the nigh-imperceptibly critical comparisons with the cost of a cup of coffee, the reassuring implication that I was personally ensuring a Solution despite the Issue being essentially irresolvable – I still caved and signed up. All the while I waited for my opportunity to interject that I was not interested (true), already make regular donations to other charities (true) and was not in possession of a credit card (false, but surely would have been worth a try) , I missed my moment somehow. I found it somehow impossible to stand up for myself, to enact my plan to politely but forcefully refuse and extract myself with good grace. It didn’t seem right to resort to rudeness, which I would have had to conjure from nowhere as there was a curious lack of feeling irritation or impatience. To my bewilderment, the only other option seems to have been to sign on for a monthly tithe. It didn’t even occur to me until later that there was nothing to stop me inventing a completely false identity.

If my wife had been there, he’d have gotten about four words out before collapsing to the ground clutching his groin (at least, that’s the way I picture it after the humilations of the morning). Unfortunately, away from the pack alpha, wishy-washy helpless herd animals like me are easy pickings, easily brought down and messily consumed by ravening predators perfectly tuned by nature to separate me from my twenty bucks a month.


January 21, 2008

Back to work

Filed under: joey,workin for the man — lexifab @ 7:14 am

It’s 7:15 am on Monday the 20th. I’m due back at work any time now. The boy has spent a difficult, disruptive night keeping us awake. Now instead of having a shave and getting dressed, I’m listening to iTunes and trying to cajole him back to sleep.

It’s a rewarding life, this…

January 16, 2008

So, what’s on the writing To Do list, Dave?

Filed under: Uncategorized,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 11:08 pm

Glad you asked. It helps to keep me honest. Although while I am being honest, I have to say that I’m finding that doing any writing at all – including blog entries – is unsurprising hard at the moment, between wrangling the baby, washing things and trying to catch up on sleep. (Even as I typed that last sentence, Fi asked me to take over with the baby-minding for a few minutes…I’m back now). I’m working pretty hard to convince myself that I need a laptop so that I can write somewhere other than the study (no, I don’t do longhand any more – well, not if I can help it, anyway). At the moment I don’t get to spend a lot of my time in the study, so if I’m going to so any writing at all, my tools are going to have to be portable. Yes, yes, I understand that a pen and writing pad are more portable than a laptop computer. Stop interrupting my stream of commercial-consciousness.

Anyway, the list:

  • Short story. Status: commenced, but untouched since early December. Will get back to that soon.
  • Emails: Many thank you emails still to write to various folks who wished us well at Connor’s birth and in the weeks since. Neglected to date, but no more so than anything else.
  • Sawl email game. It’s my turn in the little back and forth email story I started with Herr Fellows. I haven’t forgotten!
  • Spit songs. Evan’s visit has sparked that dreaded inspiration to churn out a few more semi-comic ditties that we’ll probably never get around to recording. I estimate we have at least another album’s worth of stuff we could record, so I figure a few more homeless lyrics won’t make any difference.
  • Novels. I have at least two that I’m thinking about doing. I suspect I can work on one of them during the year (the one with the least research required) and start the other – ha! – during all the free time I will have in my year off mindingConnor, which starts about mid-November. Ev’s also agreed to be my novel-buddy – we’ll gee each other up with regular “how much did you get written this week?” hassles until one or the other of us snaps and goes postal.
  • Gaming stuff. There is a ridiculously oversized project occupying my mind at the moment which I can only conceivably justify spending heaps of time on if I actually go to the effort of publishing it. I’m not sure I want to do that (it’s hardly the most reputable literary option available to me) but it really is bugging me a lot right now.
  • Webcomic. There’s a lot of what seem like good ideas for a regular comic strip popping into my head. Fortunately this seems like the idea I can afford most easily to dispense with as the extra effort of drawing and electronically publishing it will take more time than I’m going to have.

Urgh. Too many half-baked impulses, not enough time or commitment!

Uh, where did that “holiday” go?

Filed under: now playing: anything,workin for the man — lexifab @ 10:25 pm

I’m going back at work on Monday after what I cannot quite believe was a six week break. Where the hell did that time go again? I vaguely recall some bright lights, some loud noises and about thirty thousand nappies, but surely the time can’t be up already?

Ah crap.

Happily for my sanity, Emma’s taken the reins of Tuesdeay night gaming, running a Burning Wheel campaign in the piratically-inclined fantasy community of Freeport (the location that has the guts to answer the question of “What’s better that pirates?” with a dramatic escalation to “pirates + nightmarish Lovecraftian cults”). We’re all playing pirates of some sort or another (well, my character’s a failed cougar smuggler, which is not a well-recognised piratical variant, but whatever) and it’s tremendous fun. The BW system really is good for just encouraging you to take chances with your character’s fate and embrace the life-affirming probability of failure in a way that few games emphasize.

Probably just as well it’s only once a week though, given the amount of sleep I’m still not getting.

January 13, 2008

Easing back towards normality

Filed under: fitter/happier,friends,joey,wordsmithery,workin for the man — lexifab @ 11:03 pm

Evan’s been visiting for a week – a jolly good and exceptionally inactive time was had by all, thanks for asking – but with him away on the plane this afternoon, things are starting to settle down again. I have another week of leave, during which time we must hope that some sort of routine emerges that will allow me to get to work in some sort of fit state and not looking exhausted and covered in suspicious stains. Little hope of that, I fear.

I seem to recall that about this time last year I was going batshit insane thanks to a slightly stressy work environment, a period that unhappily painted virtually my whole working year. I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions (which is to say, it’s possible that on occasions I am moved to make some sort of grand declaration of my intents and ambitions for the forthcoming year, but at no subsequent point am I apt to enact or even recall them) but this year I am rather determined not to get to the same point of utter out-freakedness.

I have Responsibilities now, after all. It would not do to set my boy the example that life’s little crises are best dealt with by not sleeping for days at a time and forgetting not to retch uncontrollably in social situations. I’m not exactly sure what the alternative is but I am cheerfully optimistic that one exists. Tips are welcome.

But here, clearly I am in a dreamy forecasting mood, so let’s think what the forthcoming year might possibly have to offer. I have the growing inclination to get some more writing done this year, which may well culminate in a hitherto-unprecedented serious attempt at a novel. Talking with Evan this week has helped get a better perspective on what I want to get out of writing (apart from rich, obviously).

Of more immediate importance, I have to learn how to be a father. (I gather there are classes you can take?) Plenty of hopelessly underqualified people seem to manage it, so I suppose it’s more or less a matter of on the job training plus some pop exams. I suspect the key qualities to be cultivated are Patience, Diligence and the capacity to keep smiling no matter how loud the screams are, yeah?

Then at the end of the year I get to road test both of the above, when I take a year off working to look after Connor (and somewhere in there, I hope, find time to hammer out a quick best seller). I don’t really have any conception of what to expect from that year. I don’t think the last five weeks will have done much to prepare me, and Fi has yet to commence her term as solo parent. I’m not sure whether to look forward to that with gleeful anticipation or wretched dread (certainly the latter has little to recommend it other than familiarity).

Ideally, I’d also tack “Finally become enamoured of my working life” to the year-to-come plans, but I’ll settle for “Find the strength to endure for 11 months”.

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