Thursday, September 25, 2008

UPDATE on incompetence

sprint just called me to say they will be refunding me for the crazy international roaming bill. thanks harold! have a good vacation!

why does it take several competent people to fix one person's incompetence?

ah, well. that's $600 bucks i'm happy not to lose!

on why incompetence is the social blight of america

please indulge me. i must vent on the serious incompetence that has plagued me recently in my creative life. they are two tales that converge in the physical location we know as vancouver. but they belie the evilness that a combination of technology and incompetence can manifest on a poor, struggling artist.

the first instance of incompetence happened surrounding my lodging in vancouver. as you know, i ended up staying at a lovely furnished apartment run by a local b&b. it was everything i needed, and i loved the fact that i was supporting a local business woman who says things like, "okee" and "eh." but before i found those lovely grand manor accommodations, i had booked a room at holiday inn north vancouver through i did this because i was on a frequent flier mileage kick, and wanted to accrue miles. the holiday inn was very close to my workshop (walking distance, actually). i had booked the room online, thinking i had just made a reservation. it was way over my budget, though. i thought this was okay because i mistakenly thought that a friend of mine was going to share the room with me. after he clarified that he had made other (much cheaper) arrangements, i set to find cheaper arrangements myself. i noticed that holiday inn had already charged me for my room. which was upsetting. so i called the hotel to ask them about whether i could cancel. the undoubtedly bright-eyed young woman who answered my call said, "our cancellation policy is 24hrs notice." "really?" i said, "but you've already charged me!" "our records don't indicate that," she said. but when i pushed her to look for it, she finally found that info "on another computer screen." okay. so i asked, "is the cancellation policy the same?" and she said, "yes. 24 hrs notice."

cool. so i went about searching for cheaper accommodations. and i found them at the above-mentioned lovely b&b apartment. i paid for the apartment up front knowing that's how local businesses work. then i called back holiday inn. this time, i got a manager. "i'm calling to cancel my reservation," i said. she pulled up my info and then said, "this is a pre-paid reservation. you cannot cancel it."

what transpired after that was a series of phone calls (all on my bill, incidentally) where i was basically yelling at this manager. i told her the situation and she pressed me for details. do i remember who the woman was who i spoke to? no. there is no record that i called in the system. you mean you're expecting someone who is oblivious to policies to follow the one saying that they need to make a note for every phone call made?! the manager was reasonable but firm. finally i had to mention that this event would "permanently affect my impression of holiday inns and very probably discourage me from staying at them ever again." she started to budge. first she tried to charge me for the first night. i said, "no, that was not the arrangement the woman told me. this is a lot of money for me, almost a month's salary."

when she finally agreed to give me all my money back. yay! i thought. when i checked later, i found that holiday inn had refunded me twice and was now trying to get a hold of me. i also noticed that due to the ups and downs of the canadian dollar, my refund (both of them) was actually roughly $50 less in u.s. dollars than the original charge. after holiday inn recharged me for the second refund--guess what?! the u.s. dollar was weaker on that day, too!--i was in the hole close to $100 bucks just because of exchange rates. i've considered tracking down holiday inn for those charges as well as the roughly $10 worth of international phone calls i've been making. but i am just plain too tired. $110 in the hole is better than $1700, right?

the second instance of incompetence finally reached my door today.

before i went to vancouver, i called up sprint to inquire about phone coverage and policies for me while i was in canada. the woman i talked to said, "well, that would be in a roaming area, but your phone plan includes roaming." i was surprised. i said, "so i can make calls in vancouver just the same as everywhere else?" "yep."

so i was stoked. i called kim every night for an hour or so, thinking it was just like using my regular minutes. nervous, i logged into my sprint account while i was away and it didn't show any extra charges.

or so i thought. my $650 phone bill that arrived this morning proved that i was right to be surprised at the customer service woman's claim. she must not have known that canada is actually another country and therefore part of "international roaming" that charges a hefty $0.59/minute. had i known that would be the charge, kim and i would have probably only used about 30 roaming minutes and communicated the rest of the time on facebook instant messaging. i mean. i'm not that stupid!

so i called customer service today. the first person i talked to said, "lemme check your record. if there is no note on it, i can't refund the money." again. people who seem to want to rely on misinformed people to suddenly do everything by the book! i told her, "are you telling me that if this person didn't write something on the account, you can't refund me? don't you record these conversations for quality assurance?" she sighed and put me on hold several times. then she said, "i have to transfer you to international roaming." i stopped her, said, "what's your name?" "amy." "so, if i get cut off and call back again asking for amy, i can talk to you again?" "no." "well, i don't want to have to keep calling back over and over saying the same story over and over." she sighed again and then agreed to stay on the line in a conference call until i got the right person. she did. and of course, she first transferred me to the wrong department, which i totally wouldn't have known if she didn't stay on the line. when i finally did get to international roaming, she unceremoniously hung up without letting me know. i was lucky that the person i got next was very sympathetic. he looked up all the records and saw that someone had put a roaming note on my account. but then he said, "this is way higher than i'm authorized to refund you. i have to send a memo to the finance department." and then he told me he was about to go on vacation until 10/2. i got all of his information and the number of the memo. and he seemed to be putting every single thing about the case into this memo. he said that he would keep an eye out for my case today, but if he can't contact me "someone" will contact me within the next couple days. i'm nervous, but that's the best i can do for now.

i looked at my phone when i hung up and saw that i spent 50 minutes on that call.

let's say that they refund me for the roaming charges. let's hope and pray that justice exists in the world. even then, i'm still in the hole.

for my day job, tutoring, i charge $40/hour, when i tutor through an agency, i make $26/hr. i've spent 50 minutes on the phone with sprint and probably roughly the same on the phone with holiday inn. that's 100 minutes. let's call it 90 minutes for easy math.

$110 for the exchange rate discrepancy and international phone calls+$60 for my time=$170.

all thanks to incompetence!

what would i have to do to make that money back?
1. tutor for 5 -7 hours
2. sell roughly 30 used books on
3. write an application for any myriad of grants that expect you to spend hours just to get piddly.
4. produce a performance at the off center, charge $15/seat and get at least 50 audience members, and not pay the actors (but i would have to pay to rent a lighting board, pay a lighting designer, and pay a board operator--these are things that rarely come for free)

what could i have bought with that money instead?
1. website hosting and domain name for four years
2. use of the off center for one night
3. a very nice evening of food at conversation the dai due supper club (not including wine).
4. a months worth of health insurance premium (on the cheap end. no i'm not currently insured).
5. Mac OS 10.5, leopard for my household

those would have been nice things to have. but instead, i have relinquished my precious resources to the incompetence demons.


Monday, September 22, 2008

on a poll

please go to this poll. right now, more than half the country seems to think that sarah palin is qualified to run the country. how? how i say?!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

on money again

now that i've finished out the year of playing the lotto, i'm thinking differently about money.

specifically, i've been thinking about all the things i wanted when i though i might score a wad of cash, and how i can get them regardless. it's been humbling.

because if i've learned one thing by working in higher education for seven years, it's that money can be found, you just need to learn where to scratch. now the question is really about how much i need for what. i keep returning to this question every morning.

more later.

on alases and other things

i just got word from creative capital that i'm not moving on to the next round. alas! but i'm glad i made it this far. i kinda knew based on the MAP feedback that if i want to be more competitive at a national level, i'm gonna have to generate more recent work samples that show my growth and masterfulness-ness. that's what this year is all about.

other things--
i just got word that i've been cast in a short video by hybrid vigor productions. i don't know much about the script, but i do know i'm playing a laid-back ftm/butch. i was pleased when i went to audition that there were three people there to see me instead of one--generally a good sign with film/video projects. it indicates a certain degree of people power behind a project. also, the name of the production company is not lost on me, though i did not talk with bug (davidson, the director) about what kind of hybrid vigor s/he is talking about.

also, we have decided to enter HUSH into this year's fronterra fest. right now our biggest worries are raising the $500 to enter (which covers four performances, lights, sound, and people to run both--a pretty good deal, but $500 bucks just the same) and revising the script. but it's more work and more things to think about including in my work samples for future grants.

i've begun working on una corda in earnest now. i'm back doing morning pages and pretty much every morning i begin with the idea of "what can i do with this opera now?" i'm looking at the world through the lens of the opera.

i'm finally cleaning out my office/studio. i've had a heap of lumber on the floor for over a year now. it's taken me this long to acknowledge that i'm not going to create all that pomo furniture. at least not at this point in my life. i posted "free hardwood lumber scraps" on craigslist and got over 15 replies. hopefully the heap of lumber will be gone by the end of the weekend.

a clean workspace reflects a clear creative mind. and i'm working toward that. i've also been working on my body a little. not too hard-core, but trying to walk or ride the bike or swim or do a little something (3 minutes of stomping?) almost every day. i've given up caring about my weight or my looks or whether or not i "feel good." although those are fine concerns, you know, abstractly. what motivates my attention to my body is more about 1. building up stamina, because an evening-length show of singing, acting and movement all by my lonesome will require it; 2. being conscious of my physical presence and 3. carbon footprint (surprisingly).

more later.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

on anne bogart, part I

i am reading anne bogarts' and then you act.

here are some lines from the book that i have found very relevant to where i am right now:

"The frustrations of living do not need to make you ill; rather, they can be transformed into the energy necessary to articulate well." (pg 20)

"Fundraising is action. Consider the pursuit of support and raising money as a part of your artistic process." (pg 27)

"If you have an idea for a project, by the time that you have described it to forty people it will be a better idea." (pg 28)

"There is really no need to come up with anything new. Redescribing what you have inherited will engender all the novelty and originality you crave." (pg 28)

"If you do not commit fully to the people with you now, like-minded others will never show up." (pg 31)

more soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

on two more things to brag about

1. publication
this happened while i was in vancouver, and i just wasn't organized enough to tell folks about it. i was just updating my CV and realized i haven't yet bragged about it.

eileen tabios's new anthology, The Blind Chatelaine's Keys: Her Autobiography Through Your Poetics which features two of my essays/blog posts is now out. pick up/order your copy now!

2. funding
the city of austin just awarded me $4250 for Una Corda. Woo! In case you forget what Una Corda is, here are my previous posts where I wrote on it.

the money is awesome. now i can actually begin working on the piece in earnest. i try not to let it plague me that in order to touch the money i need to match it (i.e. raise at least another $4250). i'm just trying to bask in the recognition. though, if anyone has any suggestions for where i might find $4250 lying around, you have my attention.

as of this award, i have officially earned roughly $8000 through my art this year. i know, i know, i've spent it all before i even used it. and that money prolly comes out to less than $3/hour of arts work. but whatever! if i go by the "double yer money" policy per annum, i'll be a millionare in less than 10 years! yes. um. i know. it's very difficult to double one's money. but gotta stay positive!

Monday, September 8, 2008

what have you eaten? meme

from curate:

What have you eaten?Link


From the food blog Chocolate and Zucchini:

1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

via forwhenifeellikesharing: (via grayandgreen) Chocolate and Zucchini

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Sunday, September 7, 2008

on why i take the presidential elections personally, or, three reasons why not to vote for mccain

so i'm back in the u.s. of a. now and right away i became engrossed in the presidential election. not surprisingly to people who know me, i already know who i'm voting for. no, he is not the messiah as he is being touted. and yes, i have beef with many of his platforms. i think his healthcare platform is weak and his foreign policy is not the best. and, there is no way he won't let us down. come on! he really is too good to be true.

that said, i have been looking at the mccain/palin ticket. with palin on board, many moderates are actually entertaining the idea of voting for mccain/palin. if you are one of those people, i'm including a few reasons why voting for mccain/palin would offend me personally. if you do vote for them, seriously, don't tell me.

1. the arts
obama supports the nea. big woop, right? well, the last 8 years have consisted of arts funding being slashed and burned, including complete elimination of arts education in public schools. obama has promised increased funding to the nea. he also has recognized the positive influence arts education has on raising general scholastic aptitude and has sat on arts boards. his platform also promotes arts-based cultural diplomacy (something most first world countries invest pretty heavily in), deeper tax breaks for artist, and health care for artists (which is included in the national healthcare plan. i don't believe he has singled out artists as a special group that will get healthcare or anything).

mccain has not published an arts policy, but has a record of voting for cutting nea funding. he is on record stating that he is against government subsidies of the arts, stating that tax payers shouldn't have to pay for "obscene" projects. he has stated that he supports giving money to states so that they can fund arts education programs (not necessarily in schools, however), but that's it.

nader, mckinney, baldwin, and barr do not seem to have any platforms on the arts.

2. the gays
if you know me, hell, even if you don't, you prolly know i identify as queer. i am legally female and have been with a female partner for over seven years. i have mixed feelings about marriage. if it were up to me, i would do away with the institution on a governmental level and leave it to individual religious institutions to sanctify monogamous relationships. instead, i would want the government to recognize domestic partnerships, which could include: "gay" partnerships, "straight" partnerships, sibling partnerships (where siblings live together and share household responsibilities/childcare, etc.), inter-generational partnerships (i.e. grand parents live with a parent and all adults care for a child or children--one of the most common forms on "non-traditional parenting"), non-blood partnerships (two friends live together for a long time and share bank accounts, parenting, etc.) and multi-party partnerships (polyamorous family units where three or more people share household responsibilities). these domestic partnerships would enable any parties involved to receive tax breaks, inheritance rights, citizenship/green card preferential treatment, visitation rights, and common-law privileges. but alas, only the leftest of the left queeroids are thinking of such institutions.

none of the candidates comes even close to thinking about this. however, i should say right here that i plan to marry my partner of seven years. we will most likely go to canada to do it. in canada, if either of us gets a job, the other will receive health care, be eligible for permanent residence, have visitation rights, etc. even if we don't get lawfully married! (i KNOW!)

the thing is, so-called "gay marriage" is a civil rights issue. it's about saying, "hey, you love that person and you want to profess to god or whoever that you plan to be with them until you die? well alright, then. here's a goodie bag full of privileges that we've given other people who have said the same!" if straight married people can get shit-loads of resources (shared healthcare plans, spousal hires, free usage of spouse's facilities), money (tax breaks and non-taxed inheritance rights), and recognition (visitation rights, and just plain empathy and love), then FUCK YEAH, I WANT THOSE THINGS, TOO! even if i have qualms about the institution. straight people who don't think gay marriage is an issue, or who think it is wrong, or who don't understand it are basically saying: love between people of the same sex is inherently inferior. this to me says: queer people are inherently inferior to straight people. ergo: queers are subhuman.

i don't like that.

obama says he supports civil unions. yes, it's kinda like the whole "separate but equal" thing. not nearly enough. that said, the mccain/palin ticket supports introducing a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BANNING GAY MARRIAGE. now and forever more. did i say that loud enough? according to my pristine logic outlined above, that means mccain/palin supporters are saying: queers are subhuman. incidentally, sarah palin's church minister believes prayer can "un-gay" people. yes, i know she has not said that (publicly) herself. and we've already gone down a dark road of slandering people because of their pastors. i'm not sayin'... i'm just sayin'...

nader supports gay marriage. mckinney says its "an important issue." baldwin is anti anything giving rights to queers. barr was a sponsor of the clinton era DOMA act and sees same-sex marriage as a state issue.

3. the gooks
let's not forget that mccain refers to asian people as "gooks," both in his head and in public. as a member of the racial group of "gooks," i find it really difficult to not get angry. it's true he said it long ago (in 2000), and he apologized for it since. but really. REALLY. think if someone said the "n" word in an interview. i'd take that personally, too.

so. really. mccain/palin makes me mad. particularly palin scares me. for a while i had some respect for mccain, thought that of the republicans, he had the most integrity. however. with the choice of palin as running mate, he lost that. considering that according to life insurance calculations, he has a one in three chance of dying during his presidency, voting for mccain as president is a one-third vote for palin as president. and really, i want to scream: they hate queers! they hate immigrants! they hate people of color! they hate artists! they want to kill us all!

i have other reasons why mccain/palin makes my skin crawl. but those are merely ideological. i don't take them personally. but really they go against what i do (art) and what i am (queer/asian american). and that's why i take a vote for them personally. really. if i have to emotionally blackmail you to not vote for mccain/palin, i will. vote for nader, vote for mckinney. hell, write-in hillary, if you want. just please, please, please: don't vote for mccain/palin.

thanks. us queer asian/asian american artists thank you.