Friday, July 27, 2012

Saltwater Reflection

saltwater stings
the torn flesh
the torn wounds
are invisible
to the naked eye

the sea heaves
signs its name
on the empty space
with a single drop

the sunlight beats
down on the salt
loops around
the moon away

the sun-warmed earth
can be
so cold

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Freelancing

Today in one fell blow (well, two), I lost about $650 worth of regular monthly income. I guess this illustrates the insecurity of the line of work I've currently opted for.

The first case was an incident of having dissimilar visions for what the job entailed, exacerbated by what I felt was somewhat unclear communication from the client about what she was looking for exactly. However, these things happen; sometimes a contractor gets hired on by a client and it turns out the two are just not compatible.

The second case was a job I got hired for on a two-week trial basis. After the two weeks were up, the site manager told me that he would like to keep me on and that I would hear a confirmation from the person in charge of hiring within a few days. He told me to keep working. Two weeks later, I suddenly got an email from her saying they were cutting back on expenses. So that's it and fair enough. I would love to work for this client again, as I felt we had a good relationship and I did quite enjoy the job.

The point of all this is that I suddenly find myself with very limited work. On the one hand, this is great, since Jason is getting here on Tuesday, so I might have more time to spend with him in the first few days. On the other hand, though, this means that I have to return to the job hunt, which I had been able to lay down thanks to the steady work I had. This will eat mostly unproductively into my time. It also cuts into my budget, of course, at a time when I'm already stretching my funds.

In happier news, I've been hired on a by a translation agency for German-French-English work. I did one project for them already and they were quite pleased with it (in fact, they found zero errors!). They've offered me another job, if they get it, which will be much longer and on a tighter deadline, but it will somewhat make up for the loss I suffered today. If I can get steady work from this agency, then I shouldn't have to spend too much time looking for other jobs.

Luckily, I'm still writing for World Record Label, which is one of my all-time favorites. For the next edition, I interviewed Rick Hayward of Hayward Amps.Check out my article on the 16th to learn more.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Trouble with Occupy

If the Occupy movement eventually flounders without achieving its goals, it will likely do so because of self-righteousness.

Let me explain that statement. As most of you probably know, I have been a supporter of Occupy from the beginning, even before it caught on in mainstream media (luckily, one of my professors had picked it up on his radar and shared it with the class). I believe that our global society has major flaws and I also believe in the human ability to come up with something better. Contrary to those who see Occupy as a negative, complaining crowd, I experience it as a positive expression of faith in humanity's power for good. I see examples of this goodness every day and it inspires me to keep learning and growing and working for a better, more equitable future.

But what frustrates me about Occupy is that there are many supporters who have their hearts in the right place and yet suffer from a sense of self-righteousness akin to religious zealots. Now, this mindset is not always present and it's certainly not exclusive to Occupy. You see it just as strongly among people who are forcibly opposed to the movement for no other reason than that they are opposed to it (as far as I can tell from conversations I've had with them).

The problem with Occupy is that this mentality can be lethal. Not only will it repel others who haven't made up their mind about the movement, but it is also counterproductive to the movement's own professed goals. Democracy doesn't come from me telling you that anything you have believed thus far is a lie and that you're ignorant and wrong, after which I walk off, smug and secure in my own self-confirmation.

To build something new, we all have to change our minds. All of us. We can't build something new while preserving something old. It's uncomfortable to change (for me as much as for anyone), but the more you do it, the easier it gets. It's like stretching, as Jason would say.

I believe that this self-righteousness stems from assumptions about an imaginary Them and Us. If you are not agreeing with me, you must be on the other side. Clearly (or not), this is counterproductive, since it doesn't allow for new ideas to grow or for the emergence of a more inclusive society. It just shifts the power imbalance in someone else's favour.

Although stemming from a different context, I believe the following quote holds true for Occupy and any group trying to make communal decisions:
The members thereof must take counsel together in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise. This can be attained when every member expresseth with absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument. Should any one oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions. If after discussion a decision be carried unanimously, well and good; but if, the Lord forbid, differences of opinion should arise, a majority of voices must prevail.- Shoghi Effendi (emphasis added)