Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime...

The curious incident, of course, is that the dog did nothing in the nighttime, much like how the Shouting Girl at work did not shout. I've never bothered to mention what it is I do for work. I've referenced a waitressing job that I loathed and no longer do, but I never did bother to add in what I now do instead. Part of this is because of incredibly stringent privacy laws that make it almost impossible to really explain what my job entails. The other part is that it's dull as hell. I won't mention company names or anything specific or incriminating; suffice to say I work at a call center that receives and then provides captions on phone calls for the deaf and hearing impaired. It's a pretty sweet gig, if mentally exhausting and frustrating in the wrong sort of circumstances. We are essentially revoicing one-sided conversations we hear into a VR program (voice-recognition) which then converts the audio to text and sends it off to a special telephone with a screen that displays the words. Our computers are touchscreen, so if errors appear we can and are expected to correct them as quickly as we can. Herein lies the problem of Shouting Girl.

It gets exasperating, yeah? I'm the first to admit when my VR is fucking up left and right, words that weren't a problem for me an hour earlier deciding "no, I'd rather come out as something borderline pornographic and mortifying, kthnxbai :D!" I can get a little hot under the collar. I sigh real heavy. I mute my mic and start muttering curses, I flail and silently berate the caller for being just the worst person and making my life super hard, and I am also prone to keyboard-mashing when correcting my VR's very poor sense of humor. I get it. Calls can run for upwards of an hour, they can be slow and non-stop, fast and non-stop, shitty connections, thick accents, any and all of these things contribute to being a very difficult call and a very sad, bruised brain. Everyone groans. Everyone mutters curses. Everyone sighs in relief when such a call is over. I hear it just about anywhere I sit on the call floor.

But then there is the Shouting Girl. I finally was able to find the Shouting Girl, to put a face to the very distinct voice I occasionally encountered. At first she had been a bit of a spectre. I could hear her, no problem. Sometimes two rows behind me, sometimes on the other side of the damn call floor, sometimes (God save me) in the cubicle next to mine. But given the isolated nature of the job and how you're practically chained to your desk unless you have a justified reason to leave it, like a supervisor calls you up or you're on break/lunch or your insides are literally about to rupture from backlogged piss, venturing around in search of the Shouting Girl wasn't quite feasible. And then there would be whole days at a time when I wouldn't hear her at all, where she clearly couldn't be in the building because there is no possible way I and everyone within a thirty foot radius wouldn't be aware of it if she were. I had to move one day, go up to my supervisor and beg her to let me reserve a different cubicle away from the insanity because on that horrible day the Shouting Girl developed a new evil superpower.

See, the groaning and sighing and muttering that all the other employees engage in have one thing in common: being unobtrusive. When the Shouting Girl gets annoyed when her VR has a stroke and goes haywire, she starts off like everyone else, with one difference: she gets louder. As her VR gets shitty, she starts talking louder and slower, which has the unsurprising effect of making her VR even shittier, which means she just gets louder and more frustrated until she is (wait for it) shouting. Shouting, banging the keyboard, making high-pitched screechy noises of vexation, loudly cursing at the computer and basically making herself an auditory spectacle and a serious fucking distraction for anyone unfortunate enough to be within hearing range, which is basically everyone and anywhere.

The day I begged to be moved away from her she was in the row right behind me. And the same ruckus started up like clockwork and I started despairing of my life and the fact that my lunch was still three hours away, leaving me with no means of escaping her by getting a new cubicle organically. Because the Shouting Girl was now no longer the Shouting Girl. She had added crying to the rotation. She was the Crying Shouting Girl. So in addition to her disproportionate rage, I also had to listen to this girl have a meltdown right at her desk directly behind me, all-out sobbing as her VR disappoints and getting herself stuck in yet another infinity loop of fucked up revoicing and feelings of inadequacy. I almost started crying from the insanity of it all. I paused my program when a call finally ended and went and threw myself on my supervisor's mercy. When I said the words "Shouting Girl" she knew exactly who I meant. She said the girl had "problems" not that I asked her to elaborate, but somewhere underneath my very intense irritation and professional embarrassment I was a little worried about whether this job was actually breaking her. I moved, carried on with my job, and the day eventually ended.

I didn't hear from the Shouting Girl for about three weeks, until she sat next to me today. This realization came with familiar feelings of foreboding and dread, thinking I might yet again be forced to uproot myself early and hunt out a new cubicle in order to keep my own mental state somewhere in the realm of functioning.

Enter the curious incident.

Shouting Girl did not shout. She grunted, groaned, sighed and muttered. But she never shouted. Never once raised her voice, banged on the keyboard, shrilled or started weeping. She got annoyed, sure, her VR wasn't perfect. No one's ever is. But she kept her cool. She dealt with her frustration maturely, healthily, without blowing up or falling apart.

It was really goddamn weird. It's come to the point that I actually like having the Shouting Girl shouting. It gives me something to vent my own frustrations at, something concrete I can point to or glare at, to channel my own pointless anger at since I can't ever vent it at some of the frankly awful people I get on the phone. It's cathartic, honestly. I miss it. And if the Shouting Girl has finally started meditating or medicating or whatever method she used to find her inner zen, I'll actually be pretty bummed. Because if the Shouting Girl becomes the Not-Shouting Girl, then that'll just leave me as the Slow-Burning-Homicidal Girl. Which is not a sobriquet I would like to follow me on into the future, especially if there's an incriminating news report to go along with it because that shit takes years and more money than I could feasibly possess or part with to make go away.

But perhaps the Shouting Girl will shout tomorrow and put my world spinning back on it's axis. Then I can stop working on my alibi, since my lack of social life sort of precludes me from having one, which would just be awkward if the police got involved. I'd hate to publish my first book under an assumed identity from a hovel somewhere in Siberia. I'm too egotistical not to take all the credit.

Bark on, doggy. Bark on.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Spring cleaning for the ADHD mind

I've been thinking of a crapton of ideas for potential posts, since I still want to keep doing this stupid thing. But the main jist of it, i.e. documenting my increasingly tedious and aimless attempts to publish a novel, has been put on hold somewhat while I let my brain defrag and I conduct tedious and aimless research in a bid to find out how, exactly, one goes about getting published while simultaneously waiting for people to read the revised version of my story. It's a necessary break lest my mind go supernova and I do away with my story via defenestration and go pursue a career as a business analyst, or something else equally as horrible.

The question then becomes: what to do with this thing? It's not a pressing question, as I don't imagine I have any readers who are not blood relatives (thank you guys by the way. I feel a bit less like the internet-version of that guy who stands yammering at brick walls awkwardly close to where you wait for the bus to go to work).

Most of the ideas I come up with are rants, because what else is worth reading on the internet if it isn't accompanied by gallons of butthurt and nerdrage. Years ago when I still bothered with it I had accumulated a reputation on livejournal for vast outpourings of nerdrage and other overreactions to things I deemed interests, to the point that members of my friends-list actually waited in anticipation for my inevitable two-cents whenever shit went down on the fandom. No, I will never tell you my LJ name for the simple fact that the account still exists and that feels like asking for trouble. I 'd like to think I've calmed down somewhat from my LJ days, being a college grad and successfully, independently broke for the last two years. If you read my rant about the second Hobbit movie here, that was actually pretty mild, all things considered. I had concise arguments delivered with a clear and pointed intention. There were strong verbs, if I recall. Sure I cursed a few blue streaks, but that's common of just about anything I do, and yeah maybe my language sounded vaguely threatening but only if you're the kind of person who pisses me off. Everyone else would have been safe, honest. Look, I have anger problems, okay? This is not a place for judgment, with the glaring exception of my own judgment because my opinion is the only one that matters. The internet told me so.

One rant I really need to do, and it would probably need to be busted up into a cycle of posts because the length of it as one would be sheer insanity and no one, not even I, would bother reading it: Sherlock Holmes. More specifically the BBC's miniseries Sherlock, but such is the extent of my comprehensive devotion that I will need at least two primer-posts before even starting to talk about Sherlock. Because I have a burning need for everyone to understand why I love it, and why I started loving it, and the whole journey that got me started loving this stupid fucking set of characters as much as I do. It's dumb. I'm sentimental about a lot of things, it's true, but it's usually things steeped in my family. I adore Lord of the Rings and all things Middle-Earth because my mom used to read it to me and my sibling when we were kids. I have an eternal fondness for anime because it was the first thing Conor and I had actual conversations about. My favorite movie of all time is one I used to watch with my whole family when I was seven, laid out on blankets in the living room with big bowls of buttery popcorn and enough room to roll around and cackle at all the parts that kept getting funnier the older I got.

But Holmes has always been different because it wasn't something someone else showed me, nothing I was forced to endure until I finally liked it "for my own good" or an inherited interest passed down from my parents. It was something I tried on a whim, for really no good reason, and fell so madly in love with it that I have to remind myself occasionally that these characters weren't ever real. And since my mind is the type that must forge connections and unearth patterns and otherwise analyse things unto death, I spent a very long time kicking around the "why" of the whole thing. Why these stories? Why these characters? Why this one character in particular? Why this author? Because it wasn't just Holmes and Watson I adored, I fell in love with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well. Why why why? There have been better writers. There have been more in-depth characters, more finely-tuned plots, more engaging mysteries. Why is this the zenith of all my intellectual curiosities? In the end there isn't an answer. I find that frustrating sometimes. I can't stop thinking about things if I still haven't solved them, which almost guarantees I'll never stop being infatuated with all this. It's a life-long affliction. Could be worse, I suppose. It could be herpes.

All the other ideas presenting themselves for bloggability are less hystrionic discourses on the merits and limitations of an anime series I've been revisiting, and one more really choleric rant that I'm sure will be good fun for all, but that will have to wait until after the posts on Sherlock as it directly relates to it. This post I guess you can take or leave. I'm mostly just priming anyone reading this for a slight shift in gear, and considering I can't drive a stick-shift I wanted it to be as disorienting as possible, since this feels about as subtle as a sack of wet pea-gravel to the face, transitionally speaking. I also seem to have a fondness for verbosity and long rambling sentences this post. It's odd how the things you read will influence how you write. I picked up Catch-22 recently and now I just want to throw out pretty ten-dollar words that no one  understands because my brain doesn't acknowledge the concept of "vernacular." Also, read Catch-22 if you never have. Literally the funniest goddamn book in the entire English language. It's so awesome it's probably going to get me fired because I won't stop laughing at my desk.

So, pointless blog post over. To anyone who checks this thing with any regularity, be prepared for a face-full of pretentious, analytical posturing because that's the only thing I do better than nerdrage. I'll get back on track with the publishing thing when I actually make any headway on it. Sometime within the next ten years, give or take a trip to a psych ward. And remember kids: always hang on to your dreams. Because otherwise you're just a crazy person, yammering at a brick wall by the bus stop.

Or herpes.