Fri-Yay (On Sunday): Monthly Roundup

Writing:
Notes for a book review on three NZ poets, tweets about Star Trek, overly detailed notes to my co-workers, more draft rosters than you can poke a managerial stick at.

Reading:

[screencap of text] Each time the water closed over at once like a wound’s uncanny healing. On land there would have been ropes at least, a gradual lowering, the throwing of earth. A stone to mark the spot.

–from ‘Ann’, by Maria McMillan.

As above: Girls of the Drift by Nina Powles, Miss Dust by Johanna Aitchison, and The Rope Walk by Maria McMillan. All available from the spectacular and swoonworthy Seraph Press.

Watching:

Late to the game but I watched both seasons of The Fall. I am in bisexual Gillian Anderson heaven, obviously, but I’m also in Archie Panjabi heaven. Did you know she is amazing? Has a bunch of Emmy awards? Was also in The Constant Gardener which I also watched this month and totally nailed it opposite Ralph Fiennes a.k.a. the most famous evil wizard in film history? My dear sweet darling Archie!

 

British actress Archie Panjabi kisses her Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series award for her role in 'The Good Wife' as she poses for photographers in the press room during the 62nd annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California, USA, 29 August 2010. The Primetime Emmy Awards honor excellence in US primetime television programming.  EPA/PAUL BUCK

[screepcap of text] "Everybody was saying it was a surprise, so I knew I wasn't the favourite to win," she says with a laugh, describing her first time at the Emmy awards, back in 2010. "But I was like, I don't care. I've just been nominated for an Emmy – I don't care about winning. I've already won!" She went with her husband, Raj (who has also accompanied her here for this interview) today, and "it was like going to Disneyworld for the first time". She pauses. "And then it all went downhill. I was on the red carpet and you have to queue up, and get on one of the dots so they can take a photo. They're screaming for the woman in front of me, and then it's my turn." She's settled into the story now, using her hands. "So I come up to this dot, and every single photographer in the line puts their camera down." Panjabi hoots. "So I was all dressed up on my biggest night ever and that moment happened. I wanted the floor to open up. Literally, they just …" she mimes a photographer lowering a camera, looking bored. "That woke me up." Panjabi went on to win the Emmy for best supporting actress that night, beating Mad Men's Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss, as well as her co-star in The Good Wife, Christine Baranski. She was also one of only two Brits to win an award that night. "And then I went to take the pictures at the end, and I'm kissing the award, quietly thinking: 'Yeah, fuck you.'"

(from The Guardian, January 20th 2014. Click through for article.)

Also there’s Jamie Dornan, who is probably a lovely lad in real life but whom I now will never ever trust in the slightest but definitely does an excellent job.

Doing:
Made a Twitter account for my zine-making adventures; took up a four-day-a-week contract managing my store for five months; bought a new computer with a new credit card that I’m now not allowed to use any more; maintained my apparent pathological inability to follow a rudimentary blogging routine (see: writing my ‘usual’ weekly Friday post on a Sunday after four weeks of silence).

Everything I Know About Managing A Team I Learned From Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Part 4)

Right now, I am in the middle of five weeks of full time managing at my Boring Day Job. This was somehow both totally unexpected (I’ve only been there for nine months! I’ve never managed anyone!) and definitely the obvious solution to our shortstaffing (I was already working twice as many hours as usual! I already do most of the things a manager does! People keep telling me I’m doing a great job and they’re thankful that I’m there and want to support me!).
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a full time job. At one point I was lecturing and tutoring 12 hours a week plus working on my doctorate but that’s not really the same as clocking on for 8.5 hours a day. I’ve never accrued annual leave or had Rostered Days Off, until now. My coping strategy for this extreme increase in responsibility has been spending my free hours binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the umpteenth time. But it’s helping!

Lesson #4: Who Cares What Holt Thinks

One final lesson, then, from Amy Santiago.

Ambitious. Competitive. High achiever. Perfectionist. Most of the adjectives that other people would attach to Amy cut both ways–ambition can be good or bad, perfectionism can manifest as attention to detail or cripplingly high expectations. (Trust me, I know.) And Amy is hyperaware of all of her most minute flaws and failings, so surely, a self-evaluation of her own weaknesses should be easy.

The problem is that she tries so hard to give the captain the right answer, that she ends up willing to give any answer, regardless of truth or depth. And it’s Peralta who finally gives her the key to unlocking a healthier way of approaching the question:

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Amy Santiago: So I asked Peralta what you thought my biggest flaw was, and he said ‘Who cares what Holt thinks’–

Capt. Holt: That’s not surprising. He’s very disrespectful.

Amy Santiago: But he’s not wrong. My biggest flaw is that I care too much what you think of me. I should be more confident in my own judgement, and I am so sure of that, I don’t even care if you think I’m right. Evaluation over.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 1, episode 18, ‘The Apartment’)

Yes, it’s important to listen to what the people around you think. But you also have to have confidence in your own decisions, and the conviction to be answerable for them. I moved our floorplan around without consulting our VM manager, and then I explained to her that the previous setup wasn’t working and that I’d tried to improve it. And do you know what?

She wasn’t mad or upset. She didn’t freak out like I’d done something wrong and she didn’t tell me to put it back the way it was.

She listened. And she agreed with what I’d done and she admitted that the setup she’d executed wasn’t ideal, and she thanked me.

Reaction:

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Everything I Know About Managing A Team I Learned From Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Part 3)

Right now, I am in the middle of five weeks of full time managing at my Boring Day Job. This was somehow both totally unexpected (I’ve only been there for nine months! I’ve never managed anyone!) and definitely the obvious solution to our shortstaffing (I was already working twice as many hours as usual! I already do most of the things a manager does! People keep telling me I’m doing a great job and they’re thankful that I’m there and want to support me!).
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a full time job. At one point I was lecturing and tutoring 12 hours a week plus working on my doctorate but that’s not really the same as clocking on for 8.5 hours a day. I’ve never accrued annual leave or had Rostered Days Off, until now. My coping strategy for this extreme increase in responsibility has been spending my free hours binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the umpteenth time. But it’s helping!

Lesson #3: Putting Out Fires

Then there’s the time that Terry gets put in charge while the captain and Jake are quarantined with the mumps. As much as he’s a mega-stacked black cop, I really empathise with him here. He starts off with an overlong list of small jobs that he wants the squad to get done under his leadership. There’s nothing I like better than starting a new project with an overlong list of small jobs to get done.
In this case, none of them get done.
This makes Terry pretty disheartened, making him doubt his ability to lead the squad. He also becomes so frustrated with the constant tiny struggles of keeping his team in line that he slams an office door so hard that the windows shatter and the ceiling buckles, Hulk-style. Gina isn’t always the most supportive Nine-Niner, but she’s on Team Terry for this one, and she’s the one who lets him know that he’s actually doing a great job, even without getting through his list:

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Gina Linetti: Do you want to know why the amazing Captain Holt has never gotten the evidence room cleaned or done anything on your list?

Terry Jeffords: Why?

Gina Linetti: It’s because all day long he’s putting out fires. That’s what a captain does. The only difference between you and Holt is he lacks the strength to close a door so hard a room blow up.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 3, episode 12, ‘Nine Days’)

 

This is the one that I’m carrying to work with me every damn day. Our stock rooms are messy and overflowing, we don’t get enough Visual Merchandising support, we have tons of excess stock to transfer out, and the memory keys on our phone don’t actually lead to the right places. These problems, big and small, are just some of the many things on my list. But I have to make peace with the possibility that I won’t have the time, energy, resources, or support to fix any of them.
No matter what else I get done at work, as long as I put out the fires, I am being a good manager.
That’s what managers do.

 

Everything I Know About Managing A Team I Learned From Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Part 2)

Right now, I am in the middle of five weeks of full time managing at my Boring Day Job. This was somehow both totally unexpected (I’ve only been there for nine months! I’ve never managed anyone!) and definitely the obvious solution to our shortstaffing (I was already working twice as many hours as usual! I already do most of the things a manager does! People keep telling me I’m doing a great job and they’re thankful that I’m there and want to support me!).
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a full time job. At one point I was lecturing and tutoring 12 hours a week plus working on my doctorate but that’s not really the same as clocking on for 8.5 hours a day. I’ve never accrued annual leave or had Rostered Days Off, until now. My coping strategy for this extreme increase in responsibility has been spending my free hours binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the umpteenth time. But it’s helping!

Lesson #2: Don’t Be The Boss Genie

Although he’s hardly the obvious choice for the job, on Thanksgiving weekend Jake is left in charge of the precinct for what should be a cushy shift. He gleefully takes on the role of Boss Genie, acceding to all of the squad’s requests. But the fun is soon done when they find a package of mysterious white powder and the entire building is placed under a biohazard lockdown. Jake tries to keep morale high by downplaying the situation, while Amy handwrings in the background trying to suggest structure and rules.

Jake Peralta:  I just don’t want people to panic, so I’m asking for your help to keep this thing quiet, so we can have the chillest biohazard lockdown in Brooklyn.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 2, episode 7, ‘Lockdown’)

But after a rumour spreads that the package might be more than a hoax, the civilians panic, fights break out, and a couch is lit on fire. Jake concedes that Amy might be a better, more capable leader, but she doesn’t let him abdicate responsibility quite so easily:

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Amy: You’re still trying to make people happy. Don’t apologise to me. Be a leader and tell me what you need me to do. Tell everyone what you need them to do.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 2, episode 7, ‘Lockdown’)

I’m still working on this one, truth be told. But I have a tendency to take on responsibility for everything in the workplace, even things that aren’t technically part of my job. This gets more difficult, of course, when you’re a manager and just about everything can be construed as ‘part of your job’. But I’m trying to communicate more with my co-workers about what I want to get done, and what they need to be doing to help. Personally, I work better when I’m not micro-managed and don’t have a boss constantly telling me what I need to get done. But we’re one team member short and everyone’s in a new role, so I have to be sure that certain things will be done correctly and on time.

 

Everything I Know About Managing A Team I Learned From Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Part 1)

Right now, I am in the middle of five weeks of full time managing at my Boring Day Job. This was somehow both totally unexpected (I’ve only been there for nine months! I’ve never managed anyone!) and definitely the obvious solution to our shortstaffing (I was already working twice as many hours as usual! I already do most of the things a manager does! People keep telling me I’m doing a great job and they’re thankful that I’m there and want to support me!).
Full disclosure, I’ve never had a full time job. At one point I was lecturing and tutoring 12 hours a week plus working on my doctorate but that’s not really the same as clocking on for 8.5 hours a day. I’ve never accrued annual leave or had Rostered Days Off, until now. My coping strategy for this extreme increase in responsibility has been spending my free hours binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine for the umpteenth time. But it’s helping!

Lesson #1:  Holt’s Law
There’s this one episode where Rosa publicly harangues a patrol officer because he mishandled evidence in an important case. Yes, let’s face it, constructive criticism is a great learning tool, in the right hands. But in Rosa’s hands, it involves marching into Officer Dietmore’s workplace and handing him a kids’ police costume:

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Rosa Diaz: Hey, Dietmore! If you’re gonna bag evidence like a five-year-old, you should have the right tools. It’s a My First Police kit … The walkie-talkie blows bubbles. Hope you can handle it.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 1, episode 20, ‘Fancy Brudgom’)

Initially,  Rosa responds to the captain’s request to apologise to the junior officer with further insults. But the captain tells her that her ‘zapping a rat in a maze’ approach isn’t going to work in the long run:

Capt. Holt: A real leader doesn’t zap people when they mess up. They teach them how to fix the problem.

(Brooklyn Nine-Nine, season 1, episode 20, ‘Fancy Brudgom’)

I have this tendency to harbour secret, irrational resentment of people when they screw up things that seem easy to me. That is definitely not a good quality for a manager to have, and, with some minor modifications, it was my go-to answer to ‘what is your biggest weakness?’ back when I was interviewing for jobs. But I took Holt’s Law with me to work last week and actually talked my co-worker through a minor thing they’d been doing (or, rather, not doing) that was bugging me. Turns out she hadn’t actually been taught how to do it properly, and if I’d acted like a leader sooner, I’d have saved myself a bunch of angst and made her feel more confident, too.

 

Fire Pants

Sorry if you expected me to actually follow through on posting more regularly after saying I would post more regularly. Liar. Ol’ Fire-Pants Sally, is what they call me.
This isn’t really a personal blog so I’ll just give a little taste of what I’ve been doing while NOT blogging:

  • I turned 30;
  • I visited the Mornington Peninsula for a weekend, went to an animal sanctuary, patted an owl, hiked around the cliffs a little, had heaps of fun;
  • I had a quick session at an archery range and am desperate to do it again;
  • I got a tattoo of a bee on my chest to commemorate the release day of the final Terry Pratchett book, The Shepherd’s Crown;
  • I got more gutsy about asking to pat people’s dogs in public;
  • I finished a redraft of a 7000 word article for the Contemporary Women’s Writing journal;
  • I went to Oz Comic-Con, interviewed Terry Farrell and Naomi Grossman, and wrote an article about it for Nerd Girl magazine;
  • I finished a review article of two poetry books by Lisa Samuels for Cordite poetry journal;
  • I worked in my day job a whole lot and lost ten kilos just due to adding 25 hours per week of being my feet to my routine;
  • and also I spent a lot of time watching Netflix.

And now I am working on:

And so, in that spirit, and as compensation for my radio silence, here’s a little hint of the fanfiction (and a joke that’s still making me ugly-laugh).

Tiffany had only heard about opera from Nanny Ogg, who considered herself a conner-sewer of the artform, but this was more or less how she imagined it. Granny and Miss Hemming were achieving spectacular vocal projection on the flat wide cart road, punctuated with vicious fingerprods. Only about a third of the dialogue was comprehensible to Tiffany, though she got the gist of the rest. The core issues were clear. Granny seemed to think Arnica Hemming was the source of most of the misfortunes befalling villagers, particularly young women, from the Ramtops to Klatch, but also such a poor excuse for a witch that she barely had the power to stir a cup of tea. Miss Hemming expressed surprise that Granny’s methods worked at all, given her unwillingness to try anything new and her dismal understanding of herbology, to which Granny huffed “I understand what works, young lady, and that’s always been good enough for me.”
Miss Hemming drew herself even more stiffly upright. “Mistress Weatherwax, I assure you, in the river valleys we are achieving amazing things that you could never manage in this climate. And frankly I’m convinced that your fearsome reputation among the mountain witches is founded on fear and trickery rather than actual prowess.”
Even Tiffany had to laugh at this. Fear and trickery were two of the most important tools in a witch’s arsenal, secondary only to hard work, late nights, and a multipurpose medical implement invented by Nanny Ogg that she called, somewhat horrifyingly, the Saw-ceps.

Not-Safe-For-Work In Progress

I have been absent from the blog for a good long while: life gets the better of us, sometimes, and I’ve had six months of settling into a new city, new house, new spaces and places and surroundings and people, and it can be difficult to know where excitement ends and anxiety begins.

This is something different for me, and I’ll add all the necessary warnings.

  • Nudity. (Censored-nudity, really.)
  • Yes, my nudity.
  • And a draft of something that is barely begun, a stopping-starting sound recording of my thoughts for a poem that may never exist in any other, more finished form.

If any of those things seem likely to offend you, I encourage you to click away now. Here’s a very good post by the inimitable Katie West about being naked, being professional, and how the two things aren’t mutually exclusive. I also recommend sticking around, I’m planning on getting back into the blogging weekly, at least, from now on, and there probably won’t be any more artful nudes. (If you’re here for the artful nudes, I’m very sorry, this is not the place for you.) (Also, if you aren’t offended by nudes, here’s ANOTHER post from Katie West about her naked body.)

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Neither Seen Nor Heard: Women, Excess, and Misogyny in Popular Media

Or: How TV Tropes Can Help Us Understand Violence Against Women In The Real World, Or: How Violence Against Women Can Help Us Understand TV Tropes, Or: The Dangers Of Excess, Or: This Is How You Find Out About My Love For Digressions, Or: Please Stop Ignoring The Sociopathy Of Western Culture’s Behaviour Towards Women.

[Trigger Warnings: mentions of: death; murder; violence against women; self-harm; sex; food and eating disorders.]

I am worried that this seems excessive.
It is March 21st, 2015. I have lived in Melbourne for three months and I’m sitting in the café down the street after putting out an invitation to my Facebook friends to let me read tarot for them.
Isn’t that a bit much? I think to myself. Who even does tarot in a café? Who believes in that crap? Wait, we’re wearing that skirt? Oh and we’re taking another selfie? Are we overthinking this? Just be less thoughtful, less vain, less weird, less needy.
I am worried, these days, about everything I do and its potential for excess.
And there’s a whole book just in that. But the bigger issue is that, as a woman within western society, I have been taught that my entire gender is excessive and needs to be contained: be seen but not heard, diet your body into oblivion, lock up your sex drive, keep your hemlines below the knee. Hide. Shrink. Shut up.

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Palliative Care Ward, Mareeba, 2009

Dementia crowds the empty corners.
Brothers visit each morning and I am her
daughter, though never the same one,
I have as many names as a goddess.
The linoleum creaks, the flowers dry
in over-sterile air. She is never alone.
In visiting hours she clings to my hand,
eyes closed, skin milk-grey, and begs me
to save her and take her home.

How To Be Uncool (Or: The Things I Couldn’t Say To Lucy Lawless)

As its most basic, we generally think of a ‘nerd’ as someone who likes something that is not considered cool. Maybe it’s Doctor Who before the reboot, or the Fionna and Cake genderswap or painting minifigs or using proper grammar, or Harry Potter even though you’re in your 30s/40s/60s, or the way that Battlestar Galactica depicts the debate around abortion and reproductive rights in a post-cataclysm society. Nerds are the people who like things that don’t quite fit into the proper hegemonic narrative of popular culture, which has specific and highly delimited values, goals, and demographic categories.

This has, of course, gotten complicated in recent years; nerds can be cool, cool people can like nerdy things, our categories are getting messy. Nerds value the old but also love the new, their passions are not straightforward or simple and they don’t follow the social rules that keep being stuffed down our throats. This is, in part, why The Big Bang Theory is such a problem; sure, it’s nice to see nerd characters on TV, but these are representations of nerddom made according to the rules of the Cool People, these are recognisable nerds whose behaviours don’t ever challenge the cool>nerd hierarchy. However, despite all of the complications (are nerds cool? does being cool stop you from being a nerd? can a jock be a nerd? can a brony be a nerd? if not, why not?) I still think there’s an interesting discussion to be had about nerdiness as defined by passion, by taking a distinctly uncool joy in whatever it happens to be that you love the most.

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