Thursday, May 24, 2012

Raz and the Internettes

I don't work at the movie theater anymore.  In fact, I quit more than a year ago, in April.  I spent that summer seeing the world and watching YouTube videos, in that order.  But I went broke rather quickly.  That happens when you don't have a steady source of income and you spend three dollars a day on cappuccinos at your local hipster coffee shop.  Bottom line, I got another job.

The process was shockingly simple, and involved calling up a high school friend who said he could get me part time work.  Now, I know how that sounds, but this was all very legitimate.  I am now working at ReverbNation, a website geared toward the independent music industry.  I got the job without any experience or real qualifications ("HTML familiarity" and "attention to detail," according to my beautifully formatted resume), and half a semester of college education.

They hired me without even knowing what they were going to do with me, and for a few weeks I worked with various departments, but that makes the company sound much larger than it is.  The difference between working in Operations versus working with the Product team, for example, was a hallway and a flight of stairs from one end of the building to the other.  There are around 60 people who work there.  Seven of them are named Steve.  Not kidding.  Seven.

I must have shown promise as a QA tester, because that's what I've been doing ever since.  (QA stands for "Quality Assurance.")  Basically, I break things.  It's exhilarating.  We all remember that burning desire we had as toddlers and young children to knock down lego towers, stop on sand castles, and rip the heads off of Barbie dolls.  That's what I do, except with web pages.

As one of my coworkers put it, I'm the only one in the building that's disappointed when everything works properly.  He was right.  I take it personally when someone declares something unbreakable, and feel like a failure when I am unable to virtually (har har, get it?) bring something to its knees.  Each new assignment is a daunting quest, and I am the last line of defense between these untamed beasts and the unsuspecting public.  It is a great and terrible responsibility.

I started back in October, but when spring rolled around, they asked me what my plans were for the summer, and offered me an internship.  I won't be the only summer intern; there are others starting in June, but since I've been there for about six months already, I elected myself captain and decided we should call ourselves "Raz and the Internettes." I didn't realize, until I said it aloud, that "Internettes" sounds like "Internets," and since we're a website, that's just too beautiful a pun to pass up.  The reaction was maybe one notch above rotten tomatoes, but I was laughing too hard to care.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Creative Process

This guy's attention span could swim circles around mine.
Lately, I haven't been posting as much as I would like to be.  I blamed it on finals for a while, and school before that.  Those were adequate excuses, but now that finals are over (yay!) they don't work any longer.  I am forced to stare my real problem squarely in the face and acknowledge its existence: laziness.  It's sneaky.  I don't usually wake up in the morning with the intention of spending all day doing nothing (although I can't in good faith say that it's never happened).  But whenever I set about doing something, like finishing a painting I started almost a year ago, or writing that blog post I've drafted three times in my head but never actually hammered out on the computer, a similar sequence of events takes place.  This is how it generally goes:

1. Wake up with the whole day ahead of me.  Big dreams.  Wonderful intentions.

2. Open Blogger.  Finally going to write that Hunger Games review.

3. Notice I have a new follower.  Become filled with happiness.  Click to see who this wonderful new person is.

4. Click to view other stats.  Check whether Russia is still the country generating the second-largest number of hits.  Wonder why my blog is getting traffic from Russia.

5. Check to see if more than a quarter of my readers are still using Internet Explorer to read my blog.  Feel pity for the population.

6. Stomach growls.  Get breakfast.  Make coffee.  Check to see if Julian Smith has posted any new videos to YouTube that I can watch while the coffee perks.  He hasn't.

7. Watch Chuck on the Internet.  Promise I will go back to the blog post after this episode.

8. Episode ends in a cliffhanger.  Watch three more episodes of Chuck.  Cry because I'm in love with Chuck but we can never be together because he's fictional and married.  And fictional.

9. Find videos of Zachary Levi on YouTube to ease the pain.  Pain gets worse.

10. Return to Blogger.  Stare at blank text box.  Lose patience.  Feel worthless.

11. Check Pinterest.  Jane Doe and 34 others have repinned my pin.  Feel popular.

12. Stomach growls.  Get lunch.  Notice that it's already 3:00 in the afternoon.  Wonder how that happened.  Remember that I woke up at 11:00.  Feel worthless.

13. Vaguely remember that I was going to write a blog post.  Ignore feelings of guilt and worthlessness and bury them in vanilla ice cream with Oreos crumbled on top.  Feel fat.  Feel worthless.

14. Remember that I'm awesome and stop feeling worthless.  Decide I don't need blogging to convince myself that I'm not worthless.  Discard any and all intentions of writing a new post.

15. Play Tetris.  Get bored.

16. Play Temple Run.  Beat high score.  Reward self by watching Chuck.

17. Realize it's midnight and I should go to bed if I want to wake up in time to get anything done tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

C(A)PJ: Day 4

We just arrived in Cuzco.  The hotel is awesome.  We have hot water, heat electricity for more than four hours in the evening, and toilet paper we can actually flush down the toilet.  Don’t get me wrong; I loved the jungle, but it made me realize how much we take for granted. Plus, after two nights under a mosquito net, everything from here on out is going to seem swanky by comparison.

Right now, we’re supposed to be resting for two hours to adjust to the altitude (11,000 feet!), but my brother is having a lot of trouble working the shower, despite the straightforward instructions to wait five minutes for the hot water.  We drank coca tea a few minutes ago, which is supposed to help with altitude sickness, too.  That’s tea made from the same plant used to make cocaine.  Seems like there are a lot of things that could fix, if you ask me.

A surprisingly good picture of the sloth
This morning, we got to sleep in for an hour—we woke up at five, instead of four.  We packed up and took a three-hour boat ride all the way to Puerto Maldonado, because last night’s rain made the bus ride too risky.  We saw a sloth, sort of.  He was very far away and—get this—wasn’t moving around too much, but Esteban was borrowing people’s cameras to take pictures through his binoculars. Mine, which has been on its last leg for a day or so, died, so I haven’t seen them yet.

At the airport, I bought brasilnuts because my sister and I had eaten so many of her free samples that I would have felt guilty just walking away.  They taste pretty good.

When we landed, the temperature was pretty surprising.  It’s chilly here!  We were met by another sign, this one with a woman attached to it.  Her English is good, but when I have a question, I ask it in Spanish.  She answers slowly enough that I can understand her easily.  She quelled our worries that hiking the citadel was perilous and scary, saying that four hundred people do it a day and that if you’re slow, it takes and hour and twenty minutes.  So we’ll definitely be doing that.

Cuzco is my favorite city so far.  I mean, okay, so basically my choices were Lima and Cuzco, but Cuzco is still awesome.  We were musing about how European it felt, and that it was also similar to New Orleans.  The common thread hit us like the Golden Corral frying pan:  Spanish influence!  I wonder how you say “duh” in Spanish.  We ate dinner at the restaurant suggested by the guy at the front desk and it was awesome.  For the rest of the evening we shopped.  In fact, before we even made it to the restaurant, a woman with a lot of hats and belts and a baby on her back attacked us and managed to sell my sister a hat, which she was glad to have after sunset when it went from chilly to cold.  We took pictures of the woman and her baby, and I think I’m going to paint her when I get home.

The woman and her baby
My mom and I walked into one shop and I fell instantly in love with a cream-colored alpaca fleece sweater with a tag that read “135.”  It wasn’t until I was pulling it over my head that I learned it was 135 USD, not soles.  So about two and a half times more than I’d thought.  But it was too late, I was in love.  I haven’t taken it off.  But I owe my mom $135 because I didn’t have enough with me to pay for it.

After that we had coffee and dessert at a place across the street.  There were three guys at the table behind us, and I turned around and asked where they were from.  The answer was a heavily accented “England.”  I immediately lost all ability to think clearly and proceeded to embarrass myself and totally contribute to the idea that all Americans are total morons.  I’m not going to record the exact details of that, because I’m really hoping to forget.

On the way back to the hotel, we passed a whole bunch of young people dancing in groups.  One group looked like they were dancing more traditional Inca dances, while the other group, divided into boys and girls, were dancing something more contemporary-looking that involved a lot of shouting.  It was really cool, because, based on the lack of any real audience, it didn’t seem like they were doing it for the tourists (which are in abundant supply here), but like they had maybe just gotten together to dance for fun.

Back at the hotel, my brother took about ten seconds to figure out how to work the TV, and about ten minutes to figure out that everything’s in Spanish.  Who would have thought?  Maybe he’s learning something.  Now we’re watching The Lightning Thief in Spanish.  It is the single most epic thing I have ever seen.
That's a staircase, folks.
La Plaza del Armas in the middle of Cuzco