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It seems I’ve been tagged by the kind (?) blogger at Liminality, and now I am it. (I don’t add the question mark in parentheses as a casting of aspersions, it’s just anyone tagging me with 17 questions gets a question mark till I actually meet ’em in real life to make sure he or she is nice.) Uh, okay. I’ll answer the questions.

1. Where I was ten years ago

Oh my. Well, let’s see: in 1995, at this time, I would have been packing up my apartment in Edmonton and preparing to move back to Saskatoon. I’d just finished a year of work at a record store in a small mall (not the West Edmonton Mall, thank goodness) and I’d come to the conclusion that, regardless of the fact many people I worked with were nice, I absolutely did not want to work retail for the rest of my life. Somehow I’d gotten the idea that going to University more would aid me in this quest.

I was living in a rather big apartment in the South end of the city, which I’m told was a very ethnic neighborhood. I hardly noticed: I was too busy riding the bus to and from work. I think I spent two hours a day just getting to and from work. It was ridiculous. And pushing records is no kind of living for man or beast.

But one of the interesting lessons I learned then was that a good employee complains. Sometimes, anyway, one does. I put up with utter crap from a co-worker—someone who’d worked as an assistant manager at a Sport-Check, whatever that is, and thought herself my superior though I’d started at the record shop ten months before her. This is the kind of person who always comes along, you know, an ex-assistant manager drom Sport-Check, who thinks this actually counts for something in real life. Yeah, that’s why you’re on the floor in a different company, smartass.

My problem was that I had somehow gotten the idea—perhaps because of my school experience of what makes a good student—that a good employee doesn’t complain to the manager. So I took ridiculous crap for months, and I’m not embarrassed to say that finally, when all of my co-workers had complained about my co-worker’s behaviour towards me and the manager called me in and asked me what was going on and why I’d said nothing, I cried. I’d been repeatedly humiliated by this bitch—and if you know me, you know I don’t use the word lightly, but Aiden was doing her best to be an outright bitch to me, yelling at me in front of customers and telling me to go do this or that as if I were her pathetic underling—and, well, I was just young enough not to know it wasn’t really, truly my fault. I was just inexperienced enough to wonder whether I’d not done something that brought all of this on, and just scared enough not to want to complain because, well, I needed the job and if it turned out I were in the wrong, I’d be screwed.

The boss called the other woman in, asked her why the hell she was behaving toward me that way, made her apologize to me, and then sent me out of the room. I was hiding in the bathroom, washing my face in cold water in the hope that my puufiness would be concealed, but I’m told the yelling was audible even out on the floor. Afterwards, it was very obvious that Aiden had been crying too, and she looked ghost-white. Something that was said to her scared the hell out of her, and she was both afraid and civil for a long time to come.

But strangely enough, as I’d planned that morning, that was the day I gave my notice to leave for Saskatoon. I don’t know if it was exactly the fifteenth, but it was certainly around that time. My manager thought it was only because of Aiden, but I explained I wanted to go back to school and—even then— I was interested in getting back into writing. My manager told me she also wanted to go back to school. Tammy was a great boss, and I still wonder how she’s doing. She was the best boss ever. I was walking away from a job with the best boss I ever had around this time ten years ago.

2. Where I was five years ago

In the summer of 2000, at this time, I was in Montreal. I was working on stories for my thesis. I was drinking wine on the balcony of my friend Jack between episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and drinking beer with Jessie in some pub while arguing why ethnic identity is not more important than genetics and evolutionary biology.

Maybe I was walking up this or that street, pining after this or that girl. Maybe I was reading Yeats all night long in the Second Cup on Rue St-Laurent. Maybe I was taking a subway back to my apartment in Notre-Dame-de-Grace.

I would have just finished a day of work at the company that employed me at that time, on contracts, to facilitate the translation of a step-by-step guide for blind people learning to use Windows ME (Millenium Edition). I would not have known at the time that the company was already starting to run itself into the ground financially—it would take a year a a few months more for that to come up on the radar.

I was definitely working on stories, though. A lot of stories.

3. Where I was one year ago

A year ago, I was right here where I am now, on campus in Jeonju. I worked last summer camp, and it was mostly just like this, except with less stress. I was in a small dormitory room, with nice air-conditioning and a bad case of tonsilitis. This was the first of many bouts of tonsilitis lasting months and basically knocking me out of pretty-good health to back out of shape and sick a lot.

I was extremely tired then, more tired than I am now.

4. Where I was yesterday

Uh, on campus. Right where I am now. Summer English Camp is pretty routine, y’know?

5. Where I was today

If you don’t know the answer to that…

Today was parents’ day at camp. That means that came into the classroom to watch a bewildering post-lesson activity and wonder how the hell coloring pictures will help their kids’ English. Needless to say, the stuff was a break from the study we’d done before the parents had moseyed on in, later than I’d expected, and before the review and new stuff started. So I started the review and got to the new stuff sooner than I’d planned, and that seemed to plan the parents.

6. Where I will be tomorrow

Oh, tomorrow is… ah, Job Day at Summer English Camp. I didn’t design this activity—it’s one of the few I had no hand in planning, in fact—so I have no idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing. Beyond, of course, the basics of teaching about jobs, as well as the grammar/sentence structures for things one can do, likes to do, and knows about (or something roughly like that).

7. Five snacks I enjoy

Oh, there are far too many. Let’s see:

  1. Potato chips. I wish I could say I don’t like them, but I do. I do, I do, I do. It’s a bad thing. I’m trying to stop it, but I can’t stop liking them, anyway.
  2. Watermelon. One of the things I miss living on campus (with no fridge in the dorms) is that I have no watermelon. The parts of summer I stayed in Korea, I basically lived on watermelon for two out of three meals in the day, and it was my main snack besides. Waaaaaaaaaaatermelon. Mmmmmmmmm.
  3. Like my tagger, I love cheese. I brought back five or six fair-sized pieces from Montreal this last trip, but it was far too few. I love love love cheese. My favorites this trip were smoked gouda and some kind of Guinness cheese, which was a brown-marbled yellow cheddar sort of thing. Very nice, especially on Green Tea crackers.
  4. Funny teas. My number one favorite is Banana tea, but just about any very flavorful tea will serve for me. I add sugar and sometimes milk, so for me this counts as a snack.
  5. Peanuts masala. I had this at some jaunt to a (kinda-sorta) country club in Delhi while I stayed with Ritu and John, and let me tell you, this stuff is the shiznit… it’s a spicy, nutty, amazing snack.

8. Five singers (or bands) for whom I know the lyrics to most of their songs

Huh? I prefer instrumental music. I can sing along with John Coltrane when he starts chanting “A love supreme… a love supreme…” and I think I can probably fit in when his band starts screaming “Ooooooooooooom!”, “Ooooooooooom!” and so on n the track “Om”, but I don’t know if that counts. Me, I find lyrics tend to be the least interesting part of any song. I don’t think I even know most of the words on the two albums I made as a member of a rock band, to be honest.

This is probably, I readily admit , why I have always had such a hard time “getting” rock music. I expect if someone actually sits down to write lyrics, that they be as good as any poetry. This, of course, is a very tall order. Lyrics aren’t poetry, and the instrumentalists normally are far below the level of John Coltrane; so it’s not about the words themselves, or the music… what the hell is it about?

Feeling? Can anything be just about pure feeling? And what kind of feelings can you convey with sub-par poetry and sloppy, easy-to-play music? See, some people woudl say primal feelings, simple and basic ones. I would agree, but the difference is that those feelings basically just don’t interest me.

So I’m going to have to do like a lot of my students at this point and just say, “Pass.” Oh, wait, except I did used to know all the words onthe Portishead Dummy album, as well as on the Ghostbusters soundtrack.

It’s a long story… don’t ask.

9. Five things I would do with $100,000,000

Oh my. Well, I’m going to reinterpret this as, “What would you do with a fairly substantial hunk of money, if you could?”

The first thing I would do would be to make sure my loans, the loans of my family, the loans of people close to me and maybe even people I just like were paid off. Loans are a horror in life. I’d even go so far as to make sure my folks would have a good bet at financial security if they were smart with the money I invested for them or whatever.

The second thing I’d do would be to set up funding for all kinds of anti-corporate organizations. I’d simply love to fight the culture war against the corporations. Not against Genetic Modification of food, because I don’t think we ought to resist that 100%; not against the existence of television, since some TV is good and worthwhile. The fight, to me, is about whether cultures survive or we replace all extant ones with a single consumerist monoculture. It’s whether we by default grant advertisers the right to invade our mental and social spaces and even our value systems.

How would I do that? I’d run a big-assed ad campaign against ad campaigns. I’d run it for years and it’d be harsh and honest and funny and win people over.

Shut up, it would.

The third thing I’d do would be to invest a huge chunk of money into a fund for artists. Now, I know a lot of artists chafe about corporate sponsorship, and so do I: it can be quite limiting, and it’s the pale, deformed cousin of the older patronage systems. Me, I’m not necessarily against patronage. Patronage produced a hell of a lot of great art. I’d like a patron organization to exist, but one without the goals and values of the corporate world. I would want to fund arts that are good, but don’t get attention from big business or other mainstream backers. I’d be making sure free jazz musicians could afford to tour, that good-but-radical theater groups got to bigger audiences, and so on.

Fourth, I’d buy land. A lot of land. I’d buy land all over the world, and never let anyone cut a damned tree down on it. Ever.

Fifth, I think I would study and study and study for years. I like to study everything, and this way I think I could afford it.

10. Five locations I would like to run away to

Mars. Uh, Nanjing, for a week or two, to research the Taipings. London, for a few weeks. Rio. New York City. There are many other places, too.

11. Five bad habits I have

Chewing nails nervously. Thinking too much. Lashing out when there’s a language barrier between myself and someone who’s obviously just be a pompous older-male asshole. Not sleeping enough. Saying the F-word.

12. Five things I like doing

Just like? That’s a pretty mild word. I like writing. I like reading. I like shopping for presents for people. I like teaching receptive students. And I like tracing philosophical ideas to their obvious (or not-so-obvious) conclusions.

But I’m not getting into the things I love.

13. Five TV shows I like

Uh, I watch almost no TV, except for downloadable episodes of shows from back in North America. I don’t have a TV. I hate them. But there are shows I like: Lost; Dead Like Me; Six Feet Under; The Office; Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.

14. Five famous people I’d like to meet

I don’t think there are any really famous people I’d be all that into meeting. Well, except maybe to roundhouse kick them in the head. Let’s leave out those political figures. Uh, I wouldn’t mind meeting Cory Doctorow, or Charles Stross. I’d love to hang out with Ursula Le Guin, or Joanna Russ, for that matter. And Bruce Sterling, man, I’d love to have a few beers with him, in a larger group of course.

Those people are all SF writers, if you’re wondering.

15. My biggest joys

My girlfriend Lime; my family back home in Canada; the feeling of good, good jazz in your head; the feeling of barrelling down a hill on a bicycle when you’re in a place where you don’t need to worry about traffic all around you; and of course, waking up with a body that is, if not perfect, at least largely intact and functional.

16. My favorite toys

My computer. My digital camera. My iAudio MP3 player. My musical instruments, including my tenor and soprano saxophones, my flutes, and the tanpura I brought back from Delhi.

17. Five people to tag

I have no idea who would do this, or even notice that I’ve tagged them, since my posting is on such a low rate now, but I’m going to tag Kat, Marvin, Ritu, Adam, and Lime (though she’ll be a while, I am using her computer here on campus).

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