Vacation: I haz it.

So I’m sitting here on Sunday night realising that I don’t have to go to work this week.

Truly. A switchover in HR systems about a month back led to the discovery of a kajilion or so banked vacation days, and the All-Powerful Accounting Magic (to which I occasionally sacrifice a spreadsheet by the light of the moon) has decreed that in order to free up the accumulated $$, the days must be taken by January 31st 2010.

I’ve been here five years, that gave me five days. My carpool driver was already taking off this week, so. This is not quite as unbearably cool as the one buyer who couldn’t figure out how to schedule so many days off, so decided she was going to sleep in ’till 10 every single day in January… but it is not hay.

I do not mind that I’m not going anywhere. I am frankly a little freaked out by how much I am revelling simply in having enough time to get everything done that I want to for once. That I don’t have to spend the weekend trying to make every moment of relaxation count, dammit!

Apparently I was a bit more tightly wound than even I suspected.

So let’s see…

I want to check out the newest ebook apps on iTunes.

I want to update & tidy my WordPress mirror blog.

I want to catch up on email correspondence.

I want to listen to my new audiobooks, and maybe actually finish one before the next credit comes through next month.

I want to finally decide whether to sign up for Twitter, & if I do, to get the hang of which feeds I want to follow.

I want to finish culling and sorting my photos.

I want to shamelessly sign up for eMusic just to get the 25 free downloads, which I will then shamelessly splurge mostly on Bob & Ray routines.

I want to finish signing up for the Author’s Den website — OK, OK, I need to actually post some stuff over there. Also find out how to turn off the flood of ‘helpful’ email newsletters. Not necessarily in that order; if many more helpful emails come through, my first piece might just be the touching tale of an author driven to run screaming out into traffic.

Um, move away from the computer? OK… I guess I could play with my kitten, do some baking, sleep in and watch cartoons every morning, read a couple books I’ve been putting off, experiment with my new makeup, go for long walks and just generally chill with friends and family… Oh, and Shoemom and I have booked an afternoon to finally go see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the ROM.

Stress-free relaxation may be a bit tricker than I thought.

So, is “Boy, shoulda gone in for something relaxing, like bomb defusing!” cliche yet?

So I’m helping my waaaaaay-too-accommodating-for-his-assistant’s-sanity boss put together a legging program, aka this season’s surefire gifty… kind of… thing. C’mon, you know you want ’em! Everybody now: "O-oh, I hear the music/close my eyes, feel the rhythm…"

OK, I don’t really get it either. Especially since for some reason none of our usual major, experienced vendors could handle this for us. Nooooo, we had to start from scratch. Meaning I, your humble narrator, also had to start from…

…let’s put it this way: I am a buyer’s assistant. I am not a replenishment person. Nor am I a shipping, receiving, Finance or logistics person. Really. I have a copy of my job description right here, and ‘frantically trying to find definitive answers regarding warning placement on polybag packaging’ is so not on it.
Given these past several months, however, I can now see myself teaching these courses. Self-defense courses. Oh yes. You’d be amazed (or maybe not), what a couple well-placed Chuck Norris fantasies can do to maintain your retail career.

As of this morning, though, all seemed well with the world. Hey, the vendor was almost maybe possibly ready to ship this week, right?

Then Marketing called.

The CEO wants to feature the leggings in her latest radio ad. Can you have the product in-store for the 10th? Including Vancouver, of course. Did I mention this stuff is shipping out of Scarborough?

Good thoughts, people. Good thoughts.

In which I totally ignore the entire ‘Obama wins Peace Prize’ thingy.

Seriously. I mean, the only rational response to that is "OK then! Apparently the rest of the world was even more traumatised by the Bush administration than we realised!". And many, many more articulate people have already raced to their computers to make that point and related ones today.

I figure a quick repost of an interesting discussion I’m having in another LJ thread, on a subject I can actually claim expertise in, would be more to the point. ‘Cause I have actually had this happen in a lot of cases where my profession comes up. I am a buyer’s assistant in a high-end womenswear buying office.

Yeah, I know, you can’t resist, can you? It’s either "Ooh, designer labels are so shallow/stupid/a ripoff!" or "Ooh, unrealistic sizing drives me nuts! The other day I was looking at a size 00, can you believe it…"

I generally bear this kind of stuff with a grin, as I happen to agree with both POVs to a certain extent. My method for dealing with the excess madness — one that is thankfully supported by my buyer — is just to relax and have fun with all the pretty clothes. Not to mention, I admit, the massively reality-challenged culture that surrounds them.

Me, I’m never gonna be in with the cool crowd. I’m a 175-lb. 38-year-old in an office-full of gorgeous kids, I am by default — and a certain native eccentricity — the fashion granny. That said, I’ve learned a lot about how to make myself look good these past five years; not just in terms of following the trends, but in choosing colours and styles that flatter…

…And, of course, ones that fit. Definitely picked up a few hints about those. So when asked "What is the deal with specific sizes for men and not women, anyway? There are just as many variations in men’s bodies as women’s!" I am fully prepared to respond…

*******************************

*grin* True, but there is also far more variation in female fashion.

[Disclaimer: The following discussion merely reflects present realities, and in no way should indicate agreement with or approval of those realities by the author. Thank you.]

 The original discrepancy arose in large part because men were the ones wearing uniforms on the job, in the military etc, so standardised sizing has until comparatively recently been a much bigger and more accepted part of their world. Standardised charts for women do exist of course, and I gather there is a movement afoot currently to use them across the genders/ages. But as long as women have (or are perceived as having) a more emotional, less rational investment in their clothing choices, so too will be their sizing irrational.

Put simply, sizing for women reflects body image. As long as you’re dealing in abstract numbers, you can make women feel however you want. You just lower the numbers, and hey presto! women feel like they’re beautiful and special in your clothes. Conversely, you can mess about with sizes for ‘above average’ women — saying 3X instead of XXXL, for instance — to help disguise the fact that they need them.

Within those various numbers you can further play around with form, function, fabrication etc., and heighten whatever the effect by hiding/minimising flaws, or enhancing/creating good points. Or just playing around with concepts generally, as on a canvas. Think about runway shows you’ve seen — it’s art, abstract art, with models simply being used as walky-talky clotheshangers for the designer’s ‘vision’. Standardising sizes would take you behind the curtain, so to speak, far too soon. 🙂

Besides which sizing, as I mentioned above, reflects label image and marketing. Yes, this is a pan-gender issue, but it’s much more directly reflective of physical perception in women; as we age, we are seen as wanting to hide more, as needing more ‘relaxed fits’, shall we say.
One label wants to be worn by hip teens; another, by their moms; still another by their grammas. All of these women may well share one or more general measurements, but if their mom can get into their Juicy tops, teens aren’t gonna buy, and if Gramma can get into them, both mom and grand-daughters will shudder as they pass the rack.

The Seven Days meme: Day Five

day 01 | a song
day 02 | a picture
day 03 | a book/ebook/fanfic
day 04 | a site
Day 05 | a youtube clip
day 06 | a quote
day 07 | whatever tickles your fancy

____________________________

Well, isn’t this convenient. The 2010 Olympic replica gear collection just happens to have been unveiled @ the Hudson’s Bay Co. today; naturally, along with the 2010 Olympic replica gear commercial. All I can add is… yeah, if nothing else, we were definitely made to have caribou on our clothing.

If you’re willing to play the game/it will be coming around again…

Well.

I haven’t been posting this week because, frankly, this week has been absolutely nutz in RL, up to and including trying to decide how much of it could safely be posted here.

First it got busy at work, then it got crazy at work…

….then there was a Big Huge Major meeting announcement at work….

…then some stuff happened that’s very likely covered by the aforementioned Privacy Policy From Hell…

…and then I got my old job back. Now with some additional pretty shiny bits.

Essentially, they decided the changes that had removed experienced people from the buying offices were probably unwise in the long run, and are putting us back. Because no corporate restructuring is complete without jargon-juggling, I am no longer an Associate but a *drumroll please!* Buyer’s Assistant, reporting directly to the new Suits & Dresses buyer, and am thrilled to little tiny bits.

Not least because, when they originally demoted me to data entry clerk, I had tried to apply for a similar assistant’s position but was told I couldn’t be recommended for it as I wasn’t qualified or experienced enough. So I clenched my teeth – hard – put my head down, and listened to my old buyer’s parting advice: just look for opportunities to show yourself off, wherever they may come.
Thus here I am, six months later…and let’s hear it for plain ol’hard work and perseverance, after all.click tracking I’m being hailed as the Voice of Experience, just the person needed to support the incoming buyer for one of our more important and lucrative departments. For the first time in pretty much my entire corporate career, I’ve ‘played the game’ correctly, and come out on top…or at least, not on the bottom.

Really, I’m still trying to figure out exactly how much horn-tooting this warrants in Teh Big Picture – to this longtime Dilbert reader, it sits uncomfortably in a lot of respects. But hey, I do still have a job…unlike a few of the more hard-line militants for fairness in the same vicinity. As I’ve always believed, there remains something to be said for doing the task well that no-one else wants to do.

I’m still employed…

Just in case you were wondering.

Yesterday was a very odd day at work, as I imagine most of this type are. I don’t want to say anything else about it, on account of this company has a privacy policy that makes North Korea look like Happy Fun Land, and wouldn’t it be just too ironic if I got fired for blogging about layoffs? Ha ha ha…whoops.

(The best part was coming home to Shoemom, who informed me that – oh, she knew I would’ve called, but you know – she had ‘the big speech all prepared – all about how it was OK, we’d get by, you’d find a better job…’ I suggested she save it, just in case. She assured me she would.)

Anyway, other than that – Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how’d you enjoy the play? – I’m having a good time filling in for my supervisor. Except of course that I have to kill him slowly, with fire, for forgetting to leave me his network password, thus condemning me to painstakingly recreate his weekly Huge All-Important Financial Report from scratch over two nerve-straining days. (It was due on the first, natch.) 

On the plus side, as I mentioned to his supervisor – hi, tact, we’ll really have to get together sometime! – I’ve never actually had the opportunity to screw up an entire company division before.  Hilights include the moment when, just before hitting send, I decided to double-check and found I’d accidentally reversed this year and last year’s sales columns. X-Treme retail admin!

But that was only the first couple days. Since then, there’s been time to look around, and it’s gotten interesting. I’ve had my first taste of management, and find it agrees with me. I’d almost forgotten my flair for trouble-shooting and devising workarounds. Once, away back when I switched buying groups, a co-worker told me that I couldn’t leave, because ‘you’re the one we all go to to explain things!’. It feels so good to have that working for me again.

And now here I sit, still employed, and the family is fighting and the cats are cranky and it’s the coldest day of the year…and I don’t mind. Because there are always possibilities, after all.

Interlude

As recorded elsewhere in these pages, I’m doing pretty well at my job lately. I may be only a glorified data entry clerk, but by God I am good at it. To the point where my co-workers call me ‘Speedy’ a little enviously, and my supervisors say things like "oh, [Shoe], we didn’t want to assign you this [urgent project], you’ve done so many for us already…"

So when a couple of those same supervisors asked me if they could watch me in action, to help them put together a set of time-saving guidelines for completing tasks, I naturally said sure! and bridled just a little as they settled in. This was going to be good.

Except it wasn’t. I don’t think. It was like…we got into the thing, and almost immediately they started frowning and giving each other odd looks and just generally behaving as if they’d like to apply some best practices right then and there. Turns out my enviable record is based on a messy patchwork of workarounds and memory cues, all of them highly idiosyncratic and none of them even remotely suitable for teaching to new trainees.

The really funny bit is that I had no idea. It was all so intuitive I just figured it was the way it was supposed to be. Now, I’m sitting here deciding whether to be mortified or not. On the one hand, I’m pretty sure I’ve bounced hard off the Shining Example pedestal, but on the other…well, hey, it does work, right?

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