31 December 2008

Wrapping up 2008

Wrapping up 2007

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before?

Underwent surgery (somewhere between minor and major surgery), worked a retail job, did not spend Christmas with my family, screen printed, moved in with my boyfriend.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions and will you make more for next year?
From last year:
This year I just want to be happy. Happy and dehydrated.
I was definitely more happy this year. But I drank more water. Although I spent more time dehydrated than hydrated, so I'll call it a win.

This year, I want to build on my professional goals on a daily basis, probably in the form of a journal, but definitely in a measurable way. I want to find a job - not a crappy retail job (that I love, but Jesus is it hard), but a real, honest to goodness job. I want to be closer to my existing friends. I want to be more selective about the things I bring into the house, whether it's things I buy that I don't need, like clothes or shoes I will wear once, or things that we buy that may make our lives easier, but hurt the environment in the process. I also want to learn how to sew.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
None this year, although we went to San Francisco, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, plus we hit up Brooklyn and Manhattan a few times.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Last year I said that I wanted a pair of sensible shoes. What with that job in retail, this became a necessity. The problem? One pair of sensible shoes will not go with every single one of my outfits. GAH. So maybe two pairs of sensible shoes?

I also would like to have a polished, finished, working website/portfolio.

7. What date from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
March 25th. Kind of. That was the date I had my surgery. Obviously I don't remember most of it, but the surrounding anticipation, relief, and pain will always be with me, beside the elation of having the surgery behind me.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Leaving a job that I truly hated, which had started eating away at my happiness like a cancer.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Getting fired from that same shitty job. I should never have let it reach the depths that it reached, in terms of my performance, my depression, and my anger at everyone around me.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Just more of the same.

Actually, the day I went to pick up the last of my things at the old office, the wheel of my folding shopping cart got stuck in the street outside the subway. It stopped dead in its tracks, but I kept moving, banging my leg (and getting the nastiest bruise I've ever had in the process), and falling ass over teakettle over the top of the cart, spilling my books, papers, everything. Serious insult to injury. Screw you, old job. It took six whole weeks for that bruise to finally go away!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
my iMAC!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
J's, whose support and devotion have never wavered.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A few people at my old job. I know what part of it was my responsibility. The rest of it: Shame on you, you-probably-don't-know-who-you-are, because you're pure evil, and that kind of thing doesn't translate or compute in your brain, does it?

14. Where did most of your money go?
the iMac, rent, San Francisco, being unemployed, investments in tools to (hopefully) help my future career (iMac included, I guess).

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I was uber excited to move in with J this year. It was probably the best decision I made in 2008. I also got really excited about spending Christmas in PA with J and his family.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Time to Pretend by MGMT. Or After Hours by We Are Scientists.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder?
Happier, definitely. It keeps increasing noticeably year by year. Yes, the anti-depressants help, and so has the therapist, and losing the shitty job. All contributing factors in my overall level of contentment. But I'm finding things are just...easier.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I had ridden my bike more frequently. I wish that I had been more pro-active about learning design skills that would have helped me outside of architecture. I wish that I had cooked more often.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I could always use less time watching TV on the couch. Which is a good thing, since we're canceling cable.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
With J's family in PA.

21. How will you be spending New Years?
In Pasadena for THE ROSEBOWL!!!

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
I fall more in love with him every day.

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?
How I Met Your Mother, Battlestar Galactica, The Office, Futurama, Gossip Girl, It's Me or the Dog - also a resurgence of Gilmore Girls and What I Like About You once I lost my job.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nope. I still hate her, btw, it's just less on the surface, now.

26. What was the best book you read?
I re-read the Time Traveler's Wife, and it was as good this time as it was the first time.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Spinto Band, even though I ironically haven't listened to much of their new album, and all of the stuff I like was from 2005.

28. What did you want that you also ended up getting?
A sewing machine, knives and a hand mixer for our kitchen, my life back. My jaw surgery.

29. What did you want that you did not end up getting?
A humidifier - but I'm going to rectify that with my Christmas cash money.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Well, this is obvious since we just watched it, but I think 3:10 to Yuma gets that honor, despite its coming out last year. (If we had not watched it on Christmas day for the first time, I would have said Dark Knight, because when we watched it in IMAX I think my heart stopped. Twice. But Christian Bale is Christian Bale, so whatever).

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 24 - we played pool and I only invited a few close friends, which is the best way to have a birthday.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A better relationship with my parents.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Many, many dresses, finally a haircut that fits my personality, awesome Prada glasses, and lots of cool necklaces.

34. What kept you sane?
Medication. And therapy. Again.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Christian Bale.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Women's rights, gay rights. The envir-o-ment.

37. Who did you miss?
I missed my family at Christmas, since it was the first year I didn't get to see them.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
One of my managers. I don't see her, ever, outside of work, but she's such a sweet person, and I aspire to be more like her one day. Or to understand why I'm not at all like her, but why people like me benefit the world, too, maybe. But mostly because I wish I were more like her.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
To stop rushing things and ride out the good feelings. Once you get there, there will be new feelings, some good, some bad - but stressing everyone out by pushing things tends to fuel more of the bad ones than the good ones. Oh, and STFU, already.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

"Can’t help but feel attacked, what’s that supposed to mean
I know I won’t relax or act like it’s no big deal
This happens all the time; it’s kind of our routine
But we all recognize that I’m the problem here"
--WAS, Ghouls

19 December 2008

Christmas Story

1. What’s your favorite holiday tradition.
Back at home, my favorite tradition was always sitting around the tree opening presents. It was sometimes really touching to see how thoughtful people could were be (hee. "could were."). Christmas cards are another tradition I love, although I probably don't ever get started on them early enough (I just mailed them out today! eek)
2. A favorite cookie recipe?
I love anything with coconut in the recipe - and sugar cookies are always a big hit, especially because of how flexible you can be with decorations. This year, J and I made white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. I should probably save some for him!
3. Share a story behind a special ornament on your tree.
Two years ago, I went out of town for work to Franklin & Marshall college just before the holidays. My co-worker and I were invited to the construction company's Christmas party, and our party gifts were blue and silver F&M holiday ornaments. I got a blue one, and it's a totally oddball ornament, because my ornaments are all hot pink. I love it all the more for that. I didn't get to travel much for work, so it was nice to have such a concrete reminder of what turned out to be a good trip.
4. All you want from Santa is….?
A job
5. What’s your favorite Christmas movie and why?
It’s a Wonderful Life - I used to watch it every year with my grandmother. I continue the tradition to this day, even though it's not the same without her. She was kind of in love with Jimmy Stewart (um, who isn't?).
6. Are you dong anything special for the holidays this year?
I'm going to join J in PA. I'm excited and nervous and really happy all at the same time.
7. What’s the best toy you ever got when you were a kid.
I'm pretty sure I got a bike one Christmas. I know I loved the bike, it was purple with white handlebars, and white tires - but I can't remember if it was a Christmas or birthday present. It was, however, a totally rad gift.
8. Why is Christmas special to you?
Aside from the stress of shopping, everyone seems so happy this time of year. Things are sparkly because of the lights, cold and crisp (hopefully with snow!), and there's so much hope for the upcoming year, anticipation of the presents and Christmas cards, and a lot of celebration that the year is coming to an end. It's so happy.

18 December 2008

Guide to Good Customer Service

I've noticed that now that the holidays are nipping at our heels, people are coming into the store demanding better service. The problem is their inability to recognize that sometimes it's their own actions that are hampering their means to getting service with a smile. You want to see a smile on my face? Hows about you try not being an asshole, for a start. Here are some tips on how to make it until Christmas when you've got so much shopping left to do, and so many more assish store clerks to deal with:

The person on the other side of the counter is human, too. They've probably got a to-do list that's a mile long, just like you - it is the holiday season after all, which is why you're in the store all stressed out, looking for deals. However, instead of sitting in an office pretending to look busy while they shop or buy plane tickets on the Internet, the person helping you has to stand on their feet for 8 hours of the day, sans internet, often dealing with high-maintenance customers. Sure, they chose a job in retail, but do you think anyone joins a retail team because it's their dream job? Does that mean they deserve to be treated like crap, or that they're obviously unintelligent?

Next time, just try being nice. You don't have to put yourself in their shoes or anything, just maybe don't be a dick. Don't look at them like they have two heads when they ask for your phone number, zip code, whatever. It's not like they're going to get off their shift and ask you to go out for drinks - the computer won't let them through the system unless they ask. They don't give a crap that you don't want any more phone calls, that you're already in the system, or that you get too many catalogs. All you have to say is, "no thanks," and if you say it with a smile, you may get a high five or something, is all I'm saying.

Calm down. Sometimes the situation is exacerbated because your hysteria is fueling my hysteria. This goes back to the thing about my being human, too. I have emotions, and sometimes I can't control them, either. In my case, I have a super awesome manager who happens to be nice all of the time, but I also have a[n equally awesome] manager who mutters things about customers as they walk away. Like I said, just because we're in retail doesn't mean we're there to make your retail experience sunshine and puppies 100% of the time. And if you simply treat us like someone you might see again (and if you intend on going into a shop more than once, you probably will), maybe you'll be able to respect yourself when you walk out of the store. If you want to take a gander as to whose faces I'm more likely to remember, I'll give you two guesses, and I'll even give you a hint: it's not the people who are really nice to me, as much as I wish it were.

Yes, you do usually get what you want - after a while - and even then, only when we are actually physically able to do it, but at what cost? Maybe you're okay with people groaning when you walk into a store. I know I'm not, but then again maybe that's why you're an asshole to store clerks when I try really hard not to be.

It's not always about you. We didn't deliberately run out of a product because we knew you were coming into the store. Have to wait in line? So do the twelve people ahead of you. Maybe you feel it's deeply personal because you've only got seven shopping days until Christmas, but so does the rest of the community. Happy retailers are more likely to help you as much as they can - except, sometimes, when they encountered a severely pissy customer eight seconds before they were with you (and for those cases, I am truly, truly sorry). Sometimes we're brusque, or rushed, but it's not because you're annoying us at all - sometimes it's simply because someone just spent five minutes of her life screaming at us and berating us because she had fifteen minutes on her meter, and we can't give her the quarters she so desperately needs, because she's not currently in the middle of a cash transaction - she's in the middle of the store yelling at someone.

I'm not saying that being brusque or rushed is acceptable behavior on behalf of the clerk - the message is more along the lines of "don't potentially ruin it for everyone else by being a jerk."

Helpful suggestions...aren't always helpful. You think one of us should be bagging constantly while the other person rings you up? We should have a drawer with "just quarters" that the staff can access without a manager? We really should have a public restroom? Thanks. I mean, really. You're so much more clever than me (I'm a lowly store clerk. With a degree from MIT) and no one has ever said that to me before.

Grousing causes my eye to twitch, and I know my voice sounds flatter, and my smile is less sparkly with you grousers - even when I'm honestly trying to get through the day being nice to everyone, and manage to succeed, you've sucked a piece of my soul. I'm absolutely not saying you shouldn't voice your opinion, especially when it's a valid and thoughtful concern, I'm just saying that your complaint is one in a million of the same complaint - and eventually, yes, it can wear on a person. Congrats, you're the thousandth grousing customer. You get a cold, flat stare!

Complaining is futile, unless you honestly want to fill out a form, send an email, or call our corporate office. And sometimes your ideas are brilliant, and really could help the store - but is the store clerk, or even the manager, the person who can make that change? Never immediately, and usually no.

Also, one more quick thing, because it's come up far too often in the past three days: debit cards are debit cards - the computer, not the clerk, will read the card as a debit card, because it is a debit card and no force in the universe will change that - especially if DEBIT is written on your card in big black letters. However, if you want to use it as a "credit card," please ask - it's always an option if the debit card has a logo on it (mastercard or visa, for instance). And if you don't know the difference, you should feel embarrassed when you snap and gnarl at the clerk that "it's a credit card," because it's not, but I can press a tiny little button so that you can sign instead of entering your PIN1 - it takes all of half a second, and it doesn't require rudeness to work. And there you were being a jerk because you think I'm an idiot for not reading your mind. And, really, who looks more stupid in this situation now that you know what you wouldn't allow me to explain to you at the register?

1"When clerks ask this question, they are really asking you to pick one of two ways they can process your debit – a PIN (personal identification number) based transaction or as a signature-based transaction. One costs the merchant a little more and one takes a little longer to hit your checking account, but fundamentally a debit transaction is a debit transaction." -Debit or Credit? Here's The Answer
And on that note, this writer personally always uses the "credit" option when forking over her debit card. Here's why.

12 December 2008

RIP Phinneas

Well, our fish is dead.

He got dropsy, and by the time he started showing symptoms (he'd stopped eating a week before that), the Internet diagnosed him as doomed. So we had this fish swimming around doing a pretty good impression of a pine cone, and now he's dead. There was nothing we could do, and unlike some of the other fish illnesses he could have contracted, dropsy is the one for which there is no one known cause, and for which there is no [relatively expensive for a $3 fish] cure.

Anyway, I never thought I'd miss a fish so much. We're going to finally get that shrimp, but in the meantime I think we're going to fill the tank with anonymous no name fish (to prep the tank for our shrimpy). No more getting attached. I'll be ready for another betta sometime, but not now.

How ridiculous am I? Yeah, I know - maybe it's time for a puppy.

06 December 2008

It's because you are

I'm sorry, I don't understand. How exactly are you "wonderful" and "tolerant," if you can't tolerate homosexuality...I don't consider myself a tolerant person, but I do consider myself liberal, and I do think that anti-homosexual people are fucking ridiculous not-wonderful assholes...

...Oh wait, did I say that out loud? Was I supposed to be "tolerant" because I'm liberal? Did I just prove your asinine point?

Or about grammar.