Vacation: I haz it again!

….well, technically I still have eight hours or so of work left to go, but hey, not sweating that little detail. (Primarily because I’m too busy sweating everything else, it having hit 42*C out there this afternoon. Having to walk home alongside a major highway in a heatwave: just one of the many, many little details I did not think through before moving to Brampton.)

Anyhoo, yeah, it’s been awhile. I’ve taken a few long weekends since this whole stress-o-rama started at work, but those were for, y’know, reasons. My main concern this upcoming week is to have as little purpose as possible, for as long as possible. And in the meantime, there will be chocolate.

And I can start it all early, that’s what really gets me. Back in my old department a week off would require a tense scramble first of all to find someone to replace me, meaning I’d just now be tearing my hair out listing all the things I hadn’t had a chance to fill my replacement in on, because I was frantically trying to get things done to the point where I had time to acknowledge her existence. Followed by an entire week spent fighting the urge to remotely check my email… and discovering, when I did give in around Thursday night, that I’d accumulated about 500 or so. Approximately 175 of which would be my replacement forwarding something and asking if I knew anything about it. Another 98 would involve Extremely Urgent Projects, with deadlines of, say, Monday, that never even got read.

Whereas here in Soft Home, I announced three weeks ago that I was taking this week off, and my buyer was all "Oh…OK."  All the deadlines just naturally resolved themselves around Tuesday noon, so by now I’m mostly about making sure I don’t have much to do the week I get back. With long, leisurely pauses to attend sample sales.
Not that I’ve been devalued, exactly — when I mentioned I was ‘thinking of moving’ the other day I had to add  ‘Apartments! Not departments!" really quick to prevent a major buyer meltdown — only that, well, you find yourself a lot closer to earth when the CEO is no longer just down the hall. Yes, I’m highly respected and completely irrelevant all at the same time! And it feels goooooooood.

So… I’ve got no money ’cause I’ve just paid the rent, but I do have this spacious, well-appointed — and let’s not forget air-conditioned! — apartment as a result… hello, pretend hotel suite!

I wonder how Pizza Pizza guys react when you call them ‘room service’…


Notes from the Insomnia Side

Le sigh. My body chemistry and I really need to have a little chat.

I have read somewhere — this is going to be the title of the snarky general-knowledge book I will eventually write, Things I Read Somewhere — that it is possible to reset your bioclock so that you can, say, turn yourself into a morning person. I am a bit sceptical of this in theory, because what the hell are you supposed to do with yourself in the mornings, except wait around for the day to start?

However, known human civilization continues to discriminate against those of us who’d prefer it started at 1pm, and it’s even harder to be a Proud Minority when you’re totally sleep-deprived.

We won’t even get into what it does for your rep when starting a new position, especially when it’s been made clear they’re expecting you to introduce exciting new innovations, on account of you did come from the leading division of the company after all… Luckily, first impressions suggest an, erm, fairly low ‘wow’ threshold ("You can report by commodity? Amazing!") but still, pride involved here.

So, falling blissfully asleep before midnight, perchance to dream of Marketing reform, this is my new goal. Not as fun as 2am snack-cake-fuelled Mythbusters reruns, but I’m turning 39 this year, I need to reduce the *ahem* fun quotient anyway. At the very least, I’ll be switching the snacks out from Twinkies to… whatever else comes in a handy wrapper for easy semi-somnambular consumption. I’ll need to research that. Um, in the afternoon sometime. Naturally.

In other who’s-in-charge-of-this-body-anyway news, my right foot is on the fritz. Apparently (thank you Interwebs) it is called ‘plantar fascitis’, and has a complex pathology involving various inflamed connexions between heel and instep, but basically: You know that feeling after hard exercise when you finally relax, and then try and move those muscles again? That, only with extra potential to make you look like a bad parody of a 97-year-old. The comic irony, when unthinkingly jumping up to chase those dagnabbed cats off the kitchen counter, is extreme.

Pre-stretching a bit each time helps, and apparently it does eventually clear up entirely, so I’m not totally crippled or anything. Just for now getting odd looks around the office whenever I head to the print room. And having to put up with pawprints on the cutting board…

…And oh, did I mention that I walk to work? Having specifically moved here because it was possible, thus avoiding a long commute? Which constant pavement-pounding instead probably gave me the damn plantar-whatever in the first place?

Irony is a cruel, cruel mistress.

If it wasn’t for the honour of the thing, I’d kill them all.

Sigh. No, I cannot finish these markdowns on Monday. No, I cannot provide all the marketing info the new girl needs from a link she already has. No, I will not continue to keep an eye on these vendor setups…

…in case you hadn’t noticed, I have a new job to start, here. In an entirely new buying office. It is not my fault my replacement in THIS office is only half-ready to solo, after two weeks training on my part and three more out of the kindness of the other buyer assistants’ hearts. You are the ones who hired her from a small independent company and expect her to adapt to life in a  massive corporate machine, and she is the one who accepted.

And (while I can sympathise a bit more with this one) it is also not my fault that the new group needs me to start a full week before the BA I’ve subsequently been temping for returns from vacation, thus leaving no-one to process the returning fall preview samples. Frankly you are just lucky I didn’t mutiny much earlier, upon discovering that this assistant handles about thirty brands, all of whom have their own particular way of doing business with us.

Yes, I realise that the ladieswear buyers and planners as a whole are hideously stressed, so much so that even had they the inclination they don’t have time to figure out what is is we assistants do, let alone pick up the slack. That’s a tough break and I’m not minimizing it, but, again:


I’m only mostly dead!

Ah, sweet, sweet writing habit… how I’ve missed you. *pets cozy little purring thing that’s either my ego or the kitten, since I’m too lazy to actually get up and turn on the lights*

The readership, however, has not missed much. Unless they want my newly-discovered fabulous recipe for beef Stroganoff, and that probably needs to wait until I tinker with the seasoning salt a bit. Also, switch to low-salt not-maple cured bacon. (Those noticing a pattern, give yourself a cookie. Seriously, ‘savory’ has limits.)

Basically, my life over the last few weeks would’ve been a non-stop parade of whine whine work moan whinge whine "ooh! cupcakes!" whinge moan. How I long for the day when my off-the-cuff whingeing sells a million copies, but until then, the tale of how I accidentally spilled juice all over the cats the other morning can stand the extra polishing time.

Granted, somewhere in there the despised home front did abruptly bust out into emerald swathes of lawn and apple-blossom everywhere and goslings in the park. Which frankly is not at all fair. (It was almost a relief to come home from the meeting the other night and see three police cars parked out front, while a second swarm blocked a nearby street. No, I never did find out what it was all about.)

It did however help me cope with the work situation — the goslings etc, that is, not the speculation on incipient grow-ops — inasmuch as it provided an outward focus and reminder of greater meanings. I don’t care if you’re technically still employed at the time, job-hunting sucks. You know all that Sesame Street-esque bilge about how it doesn’t matter, you’re special just the way you are? Hah. Welcome to Purely Random Judgment Land, boys and girls."Do you love me now? How about now? Do I look competent and trustworthy now? Oh… you didn’t want competent, you wanted proactive?"

If I ever get into the position of interviewer, top of my question list is "How many interviews is this, now? Four? OK, that’s an automatic +12 coherence forgiveness, right there."

My main issue, it appeared, was that I wasn’t giving off enough of an upwardly-mobile vibe. The buyers were envisioning Future Executive, and I was projecting more Hey, the Cats Aren’t Hungry Enough to Wake Me at 3AM, I’m Good. Honestly, I have never quite grasped this whole ‘passion for retail’ deally-bob. A more astute buddy of mine — ie, we started in the same position, and he’s now the Category Manager for frozen foods — pointed out that it’s about how the company can be sure it’s getting value for salary, which makes sense; I guess I just figured value as more of a ‘the work’s getting done’ thing, without having to pretend I looooove the notion of giving up my weekends to study sock sales trends, into the bargain.

Fear not, though, such of the readership as remains; eventually, there opened a spot that the buyer needed to fill fast. No time to ponder the intangibles, just bundle up my awkwardly-shaped-but-solid self and jam it into their equally hexi-deci-rectangular-tripod opening. And the good news is, I think it’s actually gonna be a decent fit. It makes excellent sense in terms both of who I am and where I’ve been. Plus, it’s in Soft Home accessories — think rugs, pillows, candles and the like — so I totally have a lifeline in the form of Shoemom, Shoesis and their Style @ Home subscription. ("Pssst… what do we think of puce?" "Oh, yeah, very hot colour this year. But make sure it’s more toward plum, too much brown is deadly with that camo green.")

So Phase One of the Master Life Plan is in motion. Now, I just need to figure out what to do with myself while waiting for Phase Two to come within unfolding range. Webcomics and hanging out at TVTropes are fun diversions, not bugging the audiobook people every ten minutes to see if the liner notes are finished a noble quest, but I feel the need for something a bit more… epic. One of those quirky yet life-affirming projects that will snag me a Purpose and possibly also that book deal.

…I wonder what the market’s like for blogs about the search for a quirky yet-life affirming thing to blog about?

Thanks, that was fun…

…It’s not that I don’t like living here… well, OK, it’s that I don’t like living here.

I do like living in this apartment, though. It has a sunroom, which is divided from my bedroom by sliding glass doors, and I will probably never get over thinking that ever so sophisticated. Also, it is on the fourteenth floor, meaning out of any random window I can look out on a gracious expanse of park and pond.

Keyword there being expanse. This is a suburb. In suburbs people have cars, or more frequently family-friendly minvans. They shuttle ’round in them from work, to picking up the kids, to get groceries and maybe a flick at Blockbuster, then home to feed the kids supper and the movie.

I don’t have a car. I don’t even have a license. I get where I’m going mostly on foot. And I am trapped in an area where people look at you really, really funny when you tell them you walked anywhere. Which I can understand, because — parks aside — this area has no walks. The only reason to go anywhere around here is to get there. In your car. Because ‘there’ is, in all probability, a Dollarama.

At the time, I figured the parks would make up for it. Which they do — sort of — right up until you stop on the picturesque little bridge over the creek and notice that dirty limericks have been scrawled all over the runoff tunnel nearby. To live here is to be in total agreement with Linus van Pelt: I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.

Check that — I like my congregation OK. They are kind, sane, sensible people who do not collapse theatrically into my arms after two whole days’ separation. I really needed a break from that, same as I needed one from the commute. It’s been nice, being left alone to organise life on my own terms… if a little unfulfilling. To paraphrase those other great philosophers, the Barenaked Ladies: Pack the car and leave this town/who’d notice that I’m not around?

Thusly I have taken an executive Life Decision: Pack the car — Shoemom’s car — whatever, I don’t want to live here anymore.

Then, having looked around and discovered the universe was still intact, I took a couple more:

–I don’t want to have my job anymore. Something my boss has finally taken care of quite handily by hiring it out from under me, then reassigning me as a departmental ‘floater’ until something more permanent comes up. It’s kind of bemusing how I am reacting to this; one side of me is all  "Way to go, you’ve escaped the rat race, now life can have real meaning!" and the other is going "Oh, dear, oh dear, I’ve given up the challenge, how can life have meaning now?" I figure, worst-to-worst, studying this phenomenon should keep me in grant money for a good while.

–I don’t want to live on the moon… er, seriously, as long as I’m working in the area I need to figure out a reasonable commute. At the same time, though, I find I’m willing to handle some travel, in exchange for a real haven on the back end of it.

And, check it out, Shoemom and -sis have just moved to Burlington! Close to where I wanted to be in the first place, precisely for its haven-esque yet practical carpool-related qualities!

Still suburb-ish, but Shoemom has a car, also a place in the same two-building complex on the lakeshore that she used to manage back in the early ’90’s. A lot of our friends are still in that same congregation. A place I like, have always liked, in that under-the-skin way that a dozen practicalities cannot replicate.

So. I move in across the way when my lease is up in the New Year, Shoemom’s happy, I’m happy… Shoesis, possibly not so happy, but not in much position to do anything about it. We’re planning on not telling her until it’s necessary. For instance, as it happens on closer inspection, there are quite a few admin jobs on offer in that neck of the woods…

This is where the plan stands as of even date. It feels good. It feels honest, adult, thought-through. Like something worth working towards.

Now all I have to do is figure out what to do with the rest of this year. There’s only so many voyages of retail discovery a sane body can take.

Well, *that* was unexpected…

 Heigh-ho, an audiobook publisher has just emailed to say they want to use my article on Bob & Ray for liner notes on a CD they’re releasing this fall. I pointed them in the direction of PopMatters’ publishers (being not entirely sure who owns the thing at this point, but I’ve never been sued before and don’t intend to start now) and they have promised to keep me posted.

Then, I phoned Shoemom and reminded her that she has a daughter capable of writing [ahem] ‘well-crafted and thoughtful’ tributes. We have decided this warrants breaking out the frozen tilapia fillets. Wild chip-intensive celebrations will ensue tomorrow night here @ Shoe Central. 

This is after a buyer over in another division emailed me to say thanks, they’ll set up a meet next week in regards to the BA position. A friend of mine in the current office had interviewed for it, but got another offer she liked better, so recommended me, whereupon I got in touch. In short, I have been Networking in a manner the best recruiters would approve. And it is paying off.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go try this new idea I just had, for butter chicken pizza. 

It’s been quite a day.

And it’s so easy/to hurt others when you can’t feel pain

I would just like to thank the ever-creative   over at The Fulcrum for allowing me to get my latest ‘pink’ layout fit over with in such style. And to note that I would be using It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City forever and always — even went to the trouble of painstakingly uploading all the little image pieces to Photobucket — if my idiosyncratic navigation text didn’t make it go all wonky.


Wonky. This is a word I have been thinking about a lot lately. Because my boss has commanded that I not use it, even to describe what vendors should be notifying me of if there’s a flaw in the reports I send.

It’s not ‘professional’. Neither are :)’s, or abbreviations like pls or rec’d. Having to actually go out and memorise the i-before-e sequence in ‘received’ is not helping my mood any, at work these days.

The sad part is it all started so very promisingly. Fresh off my triumph as the Best Darned Item Associate ever, assigned to work with an exciting new buyer specifically because of my in-depth knowledge of systems & processes. He’d have the visions, I’d make them realities. An endless succession of busy, happy, creative days, sorting and admiring the pretty dresses & snappy suiting. Perfect.

Yeah, well.

Warning: Lengthy cathartic work-related rant below…

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