Things I’d never done before

One thing about funemployment is that you find all kinds of amazing ways to entertain yourself and to avoid the grueling, soul-sucking work of looking for and applying for jobs. Chicago also continues to be gruesome weather-wise — my dad keeps informing me that we’re due for an Alberta Clipper this weekend, followed by another polar vortex. I’m thisclose to setting myself up with a light therapy lamp, because it’s just so easy to lose inspiration to do anything much more than hang out under the covers and loaf.

On the other hand, I’m trying and experiencing a lot of things for the first time, because hey, it’s better than facing the alsdjkfhalkjsfh number of tabs from Media Bistro in the other window, right?

Look how adorable our robot overlords are!
Look how adorable our robot overlords are!

jQuery. Hey, CodeAcademy is still going strong, and I’m actually really, thoroughly enjoying it! Especially when every so often you’re awarded badges like this one. But seriously, this is the part where I’m learning new systems and not reviewing HTML and CSS, and I think the Code Academy set-up is doing pretty well so far. The steps you take to learn each concept or to build each mini-project are small and simple enough that you can gain confidence with the code pretty quickly. (It’s hard for me to remember the precise syntax of jQuery setups, but if I have something to look at, things fall into place.) If something’s not working, the course has hints available before and after you submit your code to test it. The hints are not always as helpful as one would like, especially if the mistake you’re trying to debug isn’t straightforward or basic, but when you do sort things out, it’s a great confidence booster. Plus this is a total resume skill — jQuery helps make your site more interactive — so it’s not like I’m wasting time.

Makeup tutorials. I am not a makeup person. I like makeup, but it’s never been part of my daily routine. One way I’m trying to trick myself into sitting down and Accomplishing a Job Hunt is to put on a face in the morning. My college roommate has put together the most straightforward tutorial that I need for the face part, but I’m still playing with the eyes part. Which brought me to The Hairpin’s cat’s-eye tutorial. You know. The one that uses Scotch tape.

Uh. Which is to say that I tried it. And it really didn’t work. One thing I also discovered is that the liquid eyeliner I have is basically like painting vinyl onto your eyelid, and that while it looks awesome if you get it right, it will also never come off. I did actually get decent at the application part, though. For a given value of “decent”; I haven’t worn it out of the house yet. I will credit Jane Marie with her much less intimidating offerings, which certainly helped with the “Where do you put it so you don’t look like you were punched by a raccoon?” part.

DVD perusal. I have a lot of DVDs. Most of them are thick with dust on the shelf behind my couch. Some I will never, ever part with — Amelie, Eddie Izzard: Dressed to Kill, Much Ado About Nothing, Thor — but others have drifted into my collection because they were in a store-closing sale bin at Blockbuster and I’d never gotten around to seeing them, or because I saw them once and nabbed them for cheap, thinking it was good to have them onhand. I’m in a “Purge all the things!” mood right now, as I contemplate the possibility of moving in the next few months, so I’m going through some of my movies in the evening to see if they’ll make the cut for hauling with me. The Golden Compass, for instance, which I watched last night, is too heart-breaking a missed opportunity, even if it is an adaptation of one of the most soul-searing, important-to-me stories of all time and space.

I do have this copy of Cinema Paradiso, though, that I think a friend of my dad’s unloaded on him, and which I stole with the intention of getting around to it someday. My verdict: great movie, Alfredo is amazing, the atmosphere is great, and I bawled straight through the last half-hour. (It was also great to know that I still understand some spoken Italian.) I don’t think I’ll be keeping it, though: it’s not one I need to see over and over again. Whether the same can be said for Bubble Boy remains to be seen.

You want to click this: the full cover is just beautiful.
You want to click this: the full cover is just beautiful.

Reading for pleasure. As a graduation present to myself, I bought myself a beautiful new release hardback that had been getting great reviews: Hild by Nicola Griffith. It’s a thick novel about St. Hilda of Whitby, a woman who lived in 7th-century England and was instrumental in converting Britain to Christianity. What we get is a character who, from the age of 3 or 4, puts George R.R. Martin to shame with maneuvering, understanding power structures and ensuring her own advancement and survival — and without the pointless ugliness that keeps me away from Game of Thrones. Instead, Hild’s world is complicated and beautiful and human; her mother raised her to believe she was the light of the world, and sowed the seeds to make her seer to the overking of Northumbria — a position that’s not mystical at all, but which relies on observation and great intelligence.

If I’m reading the author’s note at the end correctly, we’re going to hear more about Hild, which is good, because I found the ending sort of abrupt. There were a few instances where I was jolted out of the narrative because of insertions I recognized as modern, but I don’t know that that would jar someone who’s not From the Internet like I am. Every so often the narrative shifted out of its tight focus on Hild and gave us a POV segment from another character, which I found odd and frustrating. But overwhelmingly, this book is quite something. Griffith has spoken about deliberately avoiding Latinate English words in her text, and that makes for an amazing atmosphere. (The New Republic review thinks we could have seen more of Hild’s humanity, but Hild herself is not an unfamiliar character to me; I’ve known girls and women like her. And I think if you’re not satisfied with the character herself, the world-building is worth your time anyway.) Plus Griffith has definitely queered the narrative, and the more normalized that becomes, the better for everybody.

That was fun. And hopefully will, you know, help me get cracking on the most important thing about funemployment, which is ending it. But until then, a few links to help me clear out my tabs — the ones that aren’t job listings, anyway:

  • James Earl Jones interviewed by The New York Times Magazine, in which you learn whether or not he’s ever used the Darth Vader voice for his own devices. Totes McGotes.
  • Russian mother takes stunning fairy tale photos of her children with animals. Oh gosh, this makes me want to get cracking with my camera more.
  • This dal (lentils) recipe is the one I’m going to be living off through the incoming Midwestern weather. I recommend it! It came out really well.
  • If you’re on Tumblr and are interested in journalism things, I’ve just started J for Journo, a blog about journalism-y things that catch my eye, including links to long form stories (and, if I get brave enough, takedowns of bad reporting like this).
  • Those hoping for news about fiction I’m writing might pop over here for some glimpses at what’s happening on the novel-writing side of funemployment, which includes bits from Coldspur and Radio Ink.

And for my fellow job seekers, some help (which I certainly need) on scheduling all your free time: Business Insider and Levo have some great pep talks and general goals, while Career Thinker gets down to the nitty-gritty with an hour-by-hour schedule. My plan for today is to leave myself post-its all around my apartment and make use of the Pomodoro technique app I’ve just downloaded. Good luck to you and me both!

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4 thoughts on “Things I’d never done before”

  1. Agree about Hild. I loved it, but would have liked to know ahead of time that there’s a sequel planned. I thought it was going to be the whole story of Hild’s life and was confused when the end was approaching and I still had no idea how she became a saint. Stunning worldbuilding and character work, though.

    1. Yeah, I think the marketing was a little misdirected — the pacing and the climax would have made a lot more sense if I’d understood beforehand that more was coming.

      1. Heh, I just read the New Republic review, and wow–if you look at a crop of media consisting of a secondary-world fantasy and a bunch of stories about Tudors, Stuarts, and Borgias, and you conclude “pop culture is obsessed with the Middle Ages,” then you are using terms very loosely indeed. As if “Middle Ages” didn’t cover enough ground as it is!

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