Need a Better Work/Life Balance

Well Sunshine, I can already tell that today is going to be one damn rough day! I woke up this morning and couldn’t exactly use my right arm. At first, I thought I just slept on it funny had a kink in my neck and shoulder. As the morning wore on, the pain got worse though. My mother told me to just take a really hot shower, and that would help loosen me up. Oh, she could not have been more wrong!

I was trapped in the shower for almost 40 minutes because of the pain. It didn’t matter which hand I used when I tried to turn the faucet handle pain shot through my arm and neck to the point where I was immobilized. I was standing there, head up against the wall, bawling my eyes out and howling in pain, while hot water was pouring down on me. With my head propped against the wall, I somehow managed to turn off the shower with my foot after more than half a dozen attempts. I dried myself off, attempted to put my pj’s back on, and bawled my eyes out as I made my way back to the bedroom.

Thankfully, the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend came home from work in the middle of this. He knows that I have a pretty high pain tolerance, and he looked pretty damn scared to see me crying in pain like that. I managed to put on my deodorant and coconut oil, but it took both of us to try and get some clothes on me. He tried to rub my back and shoulder for me a bit, but the pain was so intense I almost threw up on him. So after checking the hours of local clinics, he convinced me to call in sick to work so he could take me to the urgent care clinic.

I’m stubborn, so I never go to clinics. Usually, I just check WebMD, laugh at their diagnosis, and then just power through whatever is wrong with me. Today WebMD said I have two types of meningitis, West Nile (again), Lyme disease, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken neck. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was a little disappointed with my visit to the clinic today. WebMD was definitely more fun! The doctor didn’t exam my shoulder and neck and didn’t even touch me.  She just asked me a few questions and sent me out of there with a few prescriptions. I have some pretty nice pain pills and a muscle relaxant I can take to help me sleep.

So today has been pretty strange. It hurts to move much, and I’ve cried a lot so far. I called in sick for the 3rd time in 4 years at this job, and am determined to make it for my evening inventory shift tomorrow. The pain pills are working pretty well, but I still hurt. I went out to the clinic, in public, in my pj’s and soaking wet hair without even drawing on some eyebrows. And the not-so-helpful Bowser Kitten can’t understand why I won’t pick him up or play fetch with him today.

So, I’m taking it easy today. Spent most of the day at my desk, working on some reports I have to bring to work tomorrow. Read some funny stories, looked at memes and cat videos, watched a little Drag Race. I’ve got a few magazines here I can browse through, some books that need reading, and games on my phone to keep me entertained. It’s weird, not being at work on a Saturday night. It also made me realize a whole lot of things I wish I could do, but can’t with this current job.

1) Brunch on weekends

I have a few friends I’ve been meaning to catch up with for ages, and most of them are looking for something to do on Saturday mornings. What could be a better way to keep in touch than around a table, surrounded by poached eggs and avocados? I used to get together with my sister, brother, and a few cousins once a month for brunch. When my cousins were too busy, me and my siblings went a few times. Then, I started having to work every single weekend and we just stopped getting together.

2) Farmers Markets

Again, these are Saturdays around here. I missed every single market downtown last year because of work and only made it to the west end market once the entire season. I used to love hitting up the market, buying things from local merchants, and trying new things.

3)Hitting up the markets across town

We have a really big market called Market Square, and another market just down the street from it. Again, it’s all local merchants and there is a huge variety of stuff there to explore. I used to go to the market with my dad, pick out some fancy meats or new veggies, grab some authentic polish sausage (or hit up one of the stands selling vegetarian substitutes just for me when dad wasn’t looking), and then just relax and snack on our new finds while we watched tv. I haven’t done that in years though.

4) Grocery shopping in general

AAB just came back from a run to the grocery store, and I couldn’t go with him because of this damn pain. I’m going through what he bought, looking at the receipt, and all I can focus on is the tiny cans of pop he bought me. They’re a pack of six 222mL cans, and two six packs are $5. My inner bargain shopper is screaming right now because I buy two six packs of the 710mL bottles for that price.  I just never have time to do a full, good grocery shop because of when I work. AAB has the van during the day, so I would have to walk to the store (which is right next to my work), load up on everything we need, take a cab back, unload everything and put it away, and then walk back up to the store to go to work. If anything, I usually run to the store on my break and grab a few small things. I miss being able to spend a good hour or so comparing prices, looking at flyers, planning meals, and working with a shopping list and a real budget.

5) Yoga

This pain in my shoulder and neck probably could have been avoided with proper stretching, or with just not sharing a tiny bed with AAB and the super long Bowser Kitten. Truth is, I used to be pretty bendy and flexible. I could never do the splits for some reason, but I never got stiff or sore because when I would read or write I was always in super weird positions. But lately everything is done at my desk, and my only exercise (especially since my fall) has been walking to and from work. I miss being bendy and not sore and wish I had time for the kitten yoga classes they have on weekends across town.

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I absolutely love these things. For me a perfect weekend would involve a brunch with my sister and brother or a few friends, a yoga lesson or two (and maybe one or two during the week, if I had a schedule I could actually work around), a trip to the Multifoods and to the grocery store near work, and hitting up the market and/or farmers market. I could do a little food prep, make my snack bags, sip on some tea (and wine), and curl up with a good book at night.

But instead, I have this strange schedule that is impossible for me to work around. AAB gets up for work by 6:20am, which usually wakes me up. I either wake up with him or try to nap for an hour or two if I was up later the night before. I drink coffee, check social media, do a bit of writing or read some of my research (which I’m super behind in), and then start on the cleaning. There is somehow always so much cleaning to do. Between the cleaning, trying to write, the oh-so-distracting Bowser Kitten, and attempting to cook something healthy for lunch instead of mac’n’cheese yet again, I don’t hop in the shower until a little after noon usually. After a brief hair and makeup break, I try to clean up a bit more or get started on some sort of project here. But by the time 2pm rolls around, it’s too late to start any big projects or go anywhere before work. Depending on my start time, I’m out the door sometime between 3pm and 4:30pm and am at work until just before 9:30pm. AAB likes to eat right before bed, so he waits for me to come home before he eats dinner. Unless I get stuck in a YouTube loop (thanks, WatchMojo) or actually pick up one of the dozens of books I need to read around here, we’re both in bed by 10:30pm. Even if I get a giant to-do list done in a day, it feels like a whole wasted day of nothing.

I miss being able to feel like I accomplished something in my day. I miss being able to buy my mushroom meat anytime I want it. I miss the smell of the European market and the sight of the giant fish swimming in their tanks just waiting to be killed at the Asian market. I miss green tea and yoga on a Saturday afternoon and hurting myself laughing over granola and poached eggs. I guess this schedule just makes me feel trapped. Having a day off, regardless of the immense pain I’m in, was a bit of a blessing. It’s helping me to see the things that are really important to me when considering a work-life balance, other than the usual “I need time with AAB and to cook dinner sometimes”.

Before I have to take my muscle relaxer (which supposedly will make me goofy), I think I’ll work on a few job applications. The one I’m working on the hardest inspired a post I have in my drafts to work, about the pains of the job hunt. I think I’ll work on it more once I’m done with the pains of having nerves and muscles.

 

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Apparently the World is Ending

I had the doctors appointment today to get the results of the massive amount of bloodwork and tests that were done on me in the last month and a half. I decided that I’d brave the local transit system to get there since it’s normally a relaxing ride and I really wanted to go hear the doctor tell me I’m perfect. I normally love this day. I have a bizarrely functional liver that always throws doctors for a loop. I even had a weird scan of my liver done once, just to make sure my body wasn’t somehow fooling the other tests they normally run. Turns out I just have the liver of straight-edge vegan teen, despite all the abuse I’ve given the poor thing over the years. Hearing a new doctor compliment my freaky liver and riding two buses while observing the other riders is usually heaven for me. Top it all off with a coffee date with my mother, and it’s the recipe for the perfect day.

Today was different, though. You see, today there was construction. Apparently, construction rerouting buses is the end of the world in this little border town.

The first bus I took was completely normal. I grabbed a seat near the back, people rudely shoved their way to the seats around me and took up two seats at a time so that their clutch or coffee could have its own seat. I just kept to myself, headphones in, watching the neighbourhoods pass outside the window. I just sat there until we got downtown to the bus depot where I could transfer to the bus that takes me right to the doctor’s office.

Now to start, there were no signs anywhere that there was any issue with the bus routes for those of us who do not take any of the 4 buses that pass through downtown on the main drag every day. I even check the city’s website for public transit this morning, and there was no notice that any routes were changed for the time being. I did see an article posted in the local paper last week that there would be construction downtown, but it didn’t say when it would start.

With that being said, I did somewhat panic when the bus started down a different route than it normally takes. But the driver announced that yes we were on the right bus, we just needed a slight detour due to construction. There were temporary bus stops set up along the new route, and the woman across from me explained to another rider that the regular stops had signs directing people to the temporary stops. All in all, it was pretty straightforward.

By the second stop, the trouble had started. The bus driver had to open the door at every stop, announce to the waiting riders what bus we were, and wait to see if anyone boarded. There were half a dozen people waiting at that stop, and even after the driver announced what bus we were each and every one of them had to step into the bus and ask what bus we were. Did I mention that there’s a big flashing sign on the front of every bus announcing what bus it is? Somehow every single person, both young and old, missed the flashing sign, the driver’s announcement, and the driver’s answer to every single person ahead of them.

It was the fourth stop where things got messy though. Two women got on the bus to ask what bus it was, even though the seven people before them had just asked the same thing. They paid their fare and started loudly complaining as they attempted to find seats on the half-empty bus.

“Seriously Brenda, they expect us to walk all the way to this new stop for how long??? It’s like a whole block further!! What the hell?”

“Preach Karen! I mean, this is going to completely throw off our schedules. Don’t these drivers realize we have better things to do than go running all over town looking for wherever the hell they feel like stopping? I have shoes to buy and a coupon to use!”

I know, it sounds like two Valley Girl teens from a cheap 90’s comedy trying to ride the bus, and it only got worse from there. These women were in their late-40’s, maybe early-50’s with some work done.

“Like, why would they even move stops? Just don’t construct stuff when I need to go out, is it that hard?”

“Yeah, it’s like sorry people smart enough not to buy a car, but we hate you. What the hell is up with that?”

They were still VERY slowly walking past the few taken seat and getting closer to me. Now, I’ll say that I may be used to the smell of body odor to a certain degree thanks to my job (my store is next to a gym, and a lot of people stop in after their workout and before their shower), but I can still smell it. There was NO smell in the back of that bus that I could sense. There were four of us in that back end, and we all smelled pretty damn good. Not good enough for Karen and Brenda, though.

“Holy pancakes!* Someone back there doesn’t know how to shower! How the hell are we supposed to move to the back of the bus if we can’t breathe back there?”

“My eyes are watering, and this mascara cost me $47!  That damn driver needs to do his job and keep the damn riff-raff off the bus! I mean, he’s practically like the bus bouncer.”

They stood there making a big production of fanning themselves and gagging, all the while standing in the middle of the bus so no one could go around them to get to the back. The driver came to a few more stops while they stood there complaining, and the front of the bus was filling up pretty fast. The driver yelled for everyone standing to move to the back of the bus, and these women were not having it.

“You have a lot of nerve yelling at us like that! I mean, what the hell do you expect us to do?”

They were really not impressed when the answer to that question was “move to the back of the bus”.  The front of the bus was filling up, more passengers were complaining about the moved stops and detour, and now three women had to find new seats because they were sitting on the flip-up seat where wheelchair passengers ride, and a woman in a wheelchair was trying to board. The bus driver freakin bellowed for everyone to move to the back of the bus, but these two women would not budge or let anyone by them. Finally, two students who transferred onto this bus with me shoved the women out of their way so they could give up their seats and move to the back.

“Can you believe the nerve of these damn millennials, thinking they can go wherever the hell they want? I mean, back in MY day we knew how to respect our damn elders! I mean, seriously Karen, can you imagine ever pushing a real adult out of your way just so you and your friend can gossip in the back of the bus together?”

“Oh I know, all these millennial brats think the world owes them something! Wait, why isn’t the bus moving? Why is the driver just standing there? Come on, do your job already! We have very important places to be!”

The driver was trying to harness this woman’s wheelchair in, in the overly crowded front of the bus that couldn’t move because of these two women.  The more he tried to move, the more he would bump into people. Soon the whole front of the bus was yipping at him because the detour had inconvenienced them slightly and they were crammed together like sardines.

And you know what? Those two women barely moved. They took a few steps towards the back of the bus once, which just put them right in front of the rear exit doors in the middle of the bus. The back of the bus was more than half empty, with plenty of seats together, and these two wouldn’t just grab a seat and get the hell out of the way. And the more they gabbed and complained, the more it made other people complain too.

Apparently, it was personally our bus driver’s fault that the bus had been detoured for a few blocks. It was entirely his fault that the bus was too full, even though it really wasn’t. This poor man was to blame for the non-existent stink in the back of the bus, the bumpy ride on the soon-to-be-repaved streets, the noise level of the other passengers,  and the economy. Yes, the economy. At one point I heard someone complain that the bus driver is over-paid, and that’s what’s ruining our local economy. This one man’s salary to drive these intolerable stuck-up adult brats around is apparently obscenely high, even though we all know it isn’t because we all know how much they make. It was in the paper months ago during a contract dispute.

Eventually, we got to my stop. I had to try and squeeze past these two women so that I could get off the bus when it stopped, and they sure as hell didn’t make it easy. When I tried to sneak by behind them, they purposefully backed up into me and then complained that I was crowding their personal space. When I tried again, they did it again. So finally, I did the only thing I could think of to do in that situation: I squeezed in between them and dropped a wickedly nasty fart, and then ran out the door.

These two women were the worst, but almost everyone in the front of that bus the whole ride were just like them! It was like the fact that the bus stops were moved over one block threw the entire universe into a tailspin and was sure to bring about the apocalypse. People were seriously pissed that the city has the nerve to repair the roads in this town when they know it will inconvenience people. Of course, these are the very same people who complained about how bumpy the roads were the entire ride.

 

 

*yes, this Karen actually said “holy pancakes” in public.

The Tale of the Couple That Damn Near Broke Me

Financial panic. I had a few weeks here with almost no hours before they started slowly increasing. Now I’m obsessively doing things to try and better myself. I’m making my game plan to scrub this house down completely, now that my knees will bend properly after my fall. I’m writing more, and going through the giant stacks of research I have piled around the bedroom. I’m going through all my usual job search sites, looking for something to help me afford to pay my bills and pay off my debt. I cut back on my drinking quite a bit too. I’d usually have 2 or 3 glasses of wine a night to help me relax. With the exception of a glass of wine Thursday night after my fall, and a bit of sparkling wine in my juice last night with dinner, I didn’t drink since last weekend. I switched over to fruit juices mixed with club soda. It’s helped me get up early each day feeling awake and refreshed, instead of going back to sleep for another 2 hours.

I’m trying to put myself out there in a bunch of different ways. Usually, this makes me feel really great like a giant weight is being slowly lifted from my shoulders. But my anxiety is getting in the way of that feeling this time. It seems like the smallest thing can make that feeling go away. I’m trying my best to push through it, but working in customer service makes it pretty damn hard. The nasty customers are starting to get to me.  I had a couple of Saturday night that just made me slam my head into the counter. Seriously, I dropped my head onto the counter when they left, and the customer in line behind them just said, “Take your time. That was rough.” And they had only seen my interactions with them during the sale, not the part that happened before that!

So, here is the story of a couple who damn near broke me. As usual, in order to comply with my company’s social media policy, certain details have been changed to protect the identities of those involved, and so that you can’t figure out exactly where I work. I guess they think the 7 of you out there reading this are going to incite a riot in my store to try and protect me from nasty customers or something. So anyway….

The Tale of the Couple That Damn Near Broke Me

Saturday night started out like a regular night. I was working my favourite register by the door, chatting away with customers and checking ID’s. I had the usual mix of pleasant people, happy to be getting supplies for their weekend of relaxing, and moody young folk upset that I need to see their ID before letting them buy certain things. I’m a very bubbly but strict cashier, so I’m used to people trying to give me a hard time. I can brush it off a good 99% of the time.

Then that 1% walked up to my counter. They had a cooler bag with them, and inside was two very large bottle of pre-mixed drinks that we sell. Both bottles were a little more than half-way full, so neither of them was sealed. Store policy is that no one can return an opened product unless there is something wrong with it, and they’re willing to make a product complaint. We take down all of their information and send the product off to be tested to see if there was something seriously wrong with it. Usually, if we get something back for a complaint, then other stores in our chain are getting the same thing returned to them. We get a notice from HQ telling us to pull the product while they investigate.

So Mr. and Mrs. Wankerpants come up to my counter, put their cooler bag down, and ‘Karen’ launches into her story.

“We were away on vacation a while back and bought this bottle here. We put it in the fridge when we got home, and then we saw the same product in a different location. So we bought it there, too. They don’t look the same, so we opened them and each had a glass of each one. It didn’t make us sick or anything, and it tasted fine. But we want out money back for these. There’s obviously something wrong with one of them.”

Now I’m not allowed to just give people back their money. There’s a certain process to everything. So I offered to run to the office, just a few feet away, and grab my manager so they could talk to him. No returns at all can get processed without a manager or shift leader’s say-so.

Well, Karen wasn’t having any of that!

“Well, wait! Look, you can see right here that the bottles are totally the same. The labels are identical even! These are supposed to be the same drink! But this one (holds up the first one they bought) is almost white, it’s so damn light! Look how blue this other one is! This looks like all the others on the shelves! There has to be something wrong here. Just give me our money back and we’ll forget the whole thing.”

Every time I tried to leave my till to go get my manager, Karen would start yammering on again about the colour difference, and how they bought it in a different town. It took at least three more tries before I was able to convince her that I was just grabbing the manager so he could enter a ‘return code’ into the register so I could return their things.

My manager isn’t an idiot. He and I both know that if you think there’s something wrong with the ginormous bottle of blue freeze you just bought, you don’t drink a good liter of it before returning it. He tried to explain to the couple that we couldn’t take the bottle unless they did a product complaint, which means we would have to enter all of their contact info into our computer. It’s a safety thing, in case your food or drink somehow really was poison, so we can contact you and let you know. But the Wankerpants couple was having none of that.  Karen kept trying to shut us down every time we opened our mouths.

“We don’t want to cause a huge fuss here. We’ll just take our money back. No need to send this away or anything, we don’t want to cause you all that trouble.”

We tried to tell her, yet again, that in order to return the bottle we needed to send it away for testing. If there’s a serious problem with one bottle, then there could be a problem with a whole batch of this stuff. We needed to make sure that there’s nothing in that bottle that can seriously harm your health.

“Well, there’s just no need for that! I mean, we each had a little glass and we’re both fine! This can’t be poison or dangerous, it’s just a little off. We’ll just take our money back and leave.”

We tried a different approach. There was a scandal a few years back where someone out there somehow was getting into juice bottles without breaking the seal on them. They could extract all the juice, and then refill the bottle with water. Then they would return them to the store, where they would be put back on the shelf. Eventually, someone would buy the bottle, open it up, and find water where there should be OJ. With people out there capable of that, we can’t just take back a bottle without sending it off to be tested. Then we’d be able to find the tiny traces of tampering that method leaves behind to prove what happened.

“Oh, I’m sure no one did that to our bottle! I mean, it didn’t look tampered with when we bought it! Just give us our money and we’ll leave.”

Ok, one last try. At this point, the boss flat out tells Karen and her hubby that he’s not returning her items because they are open. That means that anyone, at any time, could’ve put anything in that bottle and then brought it in to return it. He used our version of the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech: “We’ve been burned enough times by people trying to scam us that it ruins things for good honest people like yourself”.

What he didn’t tell them was that there is no way in hell that only one bottle of this stuff could be tainted like that without someone tampering with it. The colour difference was ridiculously obvious, and this is a very popular product for some reason. Even in our little store, we have a few dozen bottles of this in stock at all times, even more in the summer when people freeze it into slushies to drink on their patios. Someone (a stock person, the cashier who served them, someone unloading the truck) would’ve noticed this one bottle that looked nothing like any of the others. It would’ve been pulled from the stock and sent away for testing. And then we would’ve gotten the recall notices to pull all stock until testing was done, just to be safe.

And how do we know that there weren’t more bottles like this? Because if an entire batch of this stuff went out like this, we would’ve heard from HQ immediately after it had been unloaded at the first store. There would’ve been a mass recall, which would’ve made the news. We all would’ve heard about it. That means that this one individual bottle is the only one of its kind. And since it was bought from a store while they were on vacation in a town that is home to our flagship store (ie., the very last store that would ever let something like this out of their store because they’re just that strict about everything), then it must have been altered after it left the store.

In short, Mr. and Mrs. Wankerpants were trying to pull a fast one on us and didn’t expect anyone with a brain to be working retail.  Mr. Wankerpants caught on that they weren’t getting any money out of us, and finally opened his mouth.

“Come on hun, let’s just get our shopping done. This isn’t Costco, where they actually care about their customers.”

They wandered off into the store, little cooler bag all sealed up in their shopping cart. Security had to watch them to make sure they didn’t try to slip anything else into that stupid bag. Every now and then they’d wander past my till and Karen would practically yell out, “You’re right dear. At [K-Mart/Freshco/Target/WalMart/some other big store] they know how to treat their customers, not like here!”. Seriously, she must have said it like 7 times. They wandered around the store for what felt like forever, only to come back up to my register with Perrier and hotdogs. $43 worth of Perrier and hotdogs, to be exact.

I kept my customer service face on, smiling while I rang everything through. I asked for their points card and gave them their total. So, Karen pulls out a roll of loonies and a bag full of change. I took her roll of loonies and opened the ends to make sure it really was full of loonies, just like we’re trained to do.

“Oh look, Gerald, now we’re counterfeiting money too! I guess we really branched out from being common bootleggers like these idiots think.”

Right then and there, I had enough. I knew I couldn’t snap back at her, so I just dumped out all the change onto my counter. Then I counted out her damn $43 in the slowest, longest way possible. Why take a quarter when I can take five nickles? Oops, I think I miscounted those loonies, I’d better start from the beginning. I just dragged it out as long as possible.

Finally, I was through with them. I packed up their things, told them to have a nice day, and turned to greet my next customer. That’s when Karen had to get in one last barb at me.

“You know dear, I really don’t think customer service is your thing. You don’t really care about the customers. Maybe you should try going back to school, getting an education. Do you think you could find a school that would take someone like you?” Then she smirked at me and walked out the door.

And that’s when my head hit the counter. Luckily the next customer in line was someone I know, who also works retail in our little plaza, and who is in the same boat as me.

Look here Karen, I have an education! I’ve got two university degrees (BA[H] Criminology, BA Psychology), a college certificate (Certificate of Office Administration), and computer training (Microsoft Level III equivalency in both Word and Excel, with Intermediate level training in PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, and OneNote). I’m drowning in student loan and credit card debt, all so I could find myself a job where the Karens of the world wouldn’t be able to talk down to me like that. As it turns out, everyone has their Karens and everyone had the same idea. There are so many grads out there, with not enough jobs that we trained for to go around, that a whole tonne of us wind up working the very jobs our Karens think are beneath her. After hearing for years and years that without an education I’d wind up working retail, the very same people are telling me to be grateful I work in retail, and maybe I just need more education.

This just set off all kinds of things in my head. I was doing so well all week, and this one bitch set it all back. I feel like I’m just wasting my life right now like I’ll never amount to anything. If I didn’t have all of this debt, I would love to just keep the job I have forever. I love my coworkers and my friends from work. They’re like a second family to me. But I spent so much time and money trying to achieve certain things, and I just never did. And now I just feel like nothing.

I know, I can’t let one customer get me down, especially someone like the Wankerpants couple. They just struck a nerve that’s been exposed for too long.

You Know I Hate a Pity Party, But……..

I’m feeling like such a fraud lately. I have all my little notebooks everywhere, jotting down beginnings and ideas when they come to me. I’ve got my OpenOffice files full of blog post ideas, story ideas, notes for a few projects, and a fresh section for a major research project I’ve been putting off for years. I even went out and got a Writers’ Market magazine to go through, hoping the ‘contests’ section would motivate me to do something, anything.

And I can’t fucking write anything lately.

I woke up early today and laid in bed for what seemed like forever, even though it was maybe just an hour. I had this bizarre dream last night that I got a job writing and editing scripts for David Lynch, and the currently-napping Bowser Kitten and I moved out to LA. I just laid there after I woke up, trying to remember a few parts of the dream that I could use in my writing……. and it all just went *poof*. Every original thought I had in my head just vanished all of a sudden, and I was left laying there staring at the wall yet again.

I pulled myself out of bed, made a pot of coffee, and sat down at the computer determined to get a bit of writing done. I had a bunch of kitten cuddles from the extremely sleepy Bowser Kitten, watched a few old Tom Harlock videos, checked all my social media, SnapChatted my sister at work, looked up Jenna and Julien’s soup recipe…… basically, I did anything but write. It’s been more than three hours, and I have next to nothing done.

The truth is that I am stuck in another one of those “this is totally not how I thought my life would be at this age” ruts that is wreaking havoc on my anxiety. Just as I was really starting to enjoy running most days at home, I had to stop middle of last week because of my anxiety. I would try to put food into my body, but it would just come right back out one way or another. I got so bad that I was throwing up at work (when being at work is usually my happy place when it comes to anxiety) and was forced to sit down during my shift because I was dizzy. My anxiety has only ever been that bad once, my last year of university right around Christmas.

I didn’t have a job over the Christmas break that year, and it was a few years before the ever-loving Bowser Kitten came into my life. Since my family is really big on celebrating the holidays, I was expected to stay with my parents for two whole weeks between my last exam and the beginning of the winter semester. I had been sick all semester after being quarantined at the end of the summer with a suspected case of West Nile, and the entire semester had just drained me both physically and mentally. I was struggling to keep up on my school work and had to make the toughest academic decision I ever considered: I dropped out of the Psychology Thesis track and focused solely on my Criminology degree just so I could graduate. I had no energy, no ability to focus, and had already dropped pretty much every single volunteer and extracurricular activity I was in at that point, and still couldn’t keep up with the thesis work on top of my other classes. Everything I had been working towards for years was coming crashing down around me, right as I was about to be forced into a “vacation” at my parents’ place.

Now, I love my folks, don’t get me wrong. But my whole world was falling apart right around then. I was trying to figure out where to go from there, what to do with my degree, what I would do for money in 6 months when I was done school. I didn’t know if I would apply for grad school, apply for a career outside of this city, apply for just about any job here in the city, or try to finish the Psychology portion of my degree. I had what felt like a billion options to carefully consider, and it was starting to get to be a bit too much to handle. What finally set me off, though, was that damn “vacation” and the weeks leading up to it.

Again, I love my folks, and they only wanted to look out for my best interest at that time. But they somehow figured that in order to do that, they had to bombard me with constant questions about my future, my goals, my past goals, and my then-boyfriend. I was alreaddy at a point where I wasn’t sleeping because there was just oo much to do, but I was too tired physically to get much done. I spent so much time reading, studying, writing, and researching in my room that I didn’t go out unless it was absolutely necessary. I was isolating myself from the world in my basement-bedroom-kingdom, slowly gaining weight and not coming any closer to figuring out my life. The absolute final straw came when my mother and grandma started bugging me about my weight, on top of everything else.

My already through-the-roof anxiety hit an all-time new high then. I stopped being able to eat pretty much anything a few days before I was supposed to go to my parents’ place. Even plain broth would upset my stomach enough that I’d throw up. Pretty much all I could have was pudding and jello. I warned my parents about this (telling them it was a combination of getting over a stomach bug and stress from school since at that time they didn’t believe in anxiety) and offered to bring my own pudding. I know that your body needs so many calories a day to function, so I was trying to eat as close to that as I could as not to mess up my system any more than it already was. My mother seemed understanding, offering to grab what little I could eat and a big box of saltines for when I wanted to get something solid in me. When I made the trek out to see them, I was greated at the door with sugar-free diet jello and pudding.

“This is the perfect way to jump-start your new diet”, my mother reasoned.

I royally fucked up the next few months of my life after that, unable to fully function, and it had some serious consequences on my life now. My then-boyfriend and I rushed our relationship way too fast, with me moving in with him. That directly led to the 94-days-of-hives incident. I let one asshole professor talk me out of applying for grad school, even though I had the backing of half a dozen others because he didn’t think I was smart enough. I let people talk me out of taking a job in another province, out of a job they saw as “below me” here in the city, and out of focusing on my writing while working part-time. I had no focus, no drive, and just didn’t feel strong enough to do anything.

And honestly, I can feel that all coming back to me once again.

Last week I couldn’t keep anything in me. I have that constant jittery feeling inside me like my heart is full of butterflies and I’m one more forkful away from hurling everywhere. My brain is all over the place, jumping from thought to thought before just dumping everything as soon as I want to focus on it and just going completely blank. I stay up too late and still wake up early in the morning, even though all I want to do all day is hide under a blanket and cry until the world just goes away. I don’t wish I were dead, but I wish I could just go *poof* and stop existing.

The truth is, things around here with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend are far from amazingly awesome. He drinks, more than he should. That’s actually how we met since he was one of my regular customers at work. He’s toned it down quite a bit since back then, but he still lets himself go way too far too often. One minute he’s asking me to keep on him about moderating his drinking (full abstinence from drinking has never worked for him, so we focus on moderation and control). The next, he’s flipping out and yelling at me for being so “uppity” with him about his drinking. We have the same fights over and over about his drinking, his finances, how much money he’s wasting on stupid stuff like cabs and booze, and his constant lying and hiding things (like more drinking) from me. Then he’ll try to flip the tables on me, complain about my debt (which I’ve been working on paying off like crazy), how much he spends on groceries (which I rarely ask him to do, he just does it), and me applying for jobs around here that he sees as “beneath” me or that he thinks I’m too old to get.

The worst has to be this constant fight we have about my savings. We keep completely separate finances. The only thing we share is rent, which comes out of my account. We each rent a room in this house, with his being a bit cheaper than mine. Every week he gives me $100, which is his portion of our rent. I take that money and put it away to save, and then pay his portion of the rent out my paycheques. No matter if I put his money in my account, pay the rent with it, and then transfer money to my savings, or if I do it this way, I’m going to be putting money away to save. Doing it this way is just a lot easier for me to handle most of the time, and has given me a bit of money saved up to afford a new place and some furnishings so that we won’t have to live in this house with random roommates forever.

For some reason, though, AAB seems to think that he is entitled to this money I have saved. He sees it as his savings too and keeps trying to make demands of me for it. Instead of getting out of this house, he wants to get a car. The issue I take with that is his aforementioned problems with sobriety. I have offered to split on a car with him, but he can’t manage to save money because of how much he spends on cabs and booze. Instead, he thinks that I should just give him money from my savings because I got it from him. Now, in my mind, once he gives me that money that is (and always has been) a rent payment, it’s mine. As long as the rent gets paid, it doesn’t matter if I physically hand his money to our landlord, pay the bills out of money in my account, or hide the money in a jar buried in the backyard. It’s my money. I save most of it, use some of it towards bills and groceries, and use it when it’s really needed to make ends meet (like when my hours get cut drastically for a few weeks). Saving that money, to me, means that I’m ensuring our bills are always getting paid and I don’t have to rely on him for additional money. But to him, me saving that money means that I’m stealing money from him. If I wasn’t going to pass that money directly to the landlord, then I shouldn’t be taking it from him at all. If I’m not passing that money right into our landlord’s hands, then I should just be paying his rent for him out of my account I guess and let him live here for free.

And he’s been bringing this up more and more lately. He picks fights over everything, doesn’t seem to want to leave this house no matter how many strange and creepy roommates we have, and just wants us to do things exactly how he wants them done right now (no matter what other plans we have made together for our future). Anything from a broken glass to me switching shifts at work can set him off. On top of this, my life is falling apart around me yet again. I love my job at the store, love my coworkers, and have been working on my certifications to become a shift leader. I’ve gotten my forklift certification and am getting my First Aid and CPR pretty soon. But if my hours don’t increase drastically very soon, then I can’t afford to keep this job. In fact, if I want to get ahead in life financially and want to keep this job, I’ll have to get a second job just to make enough money to save a tiny bit on my own. My job search is going nowhere, and the number of “Thanks for your application, but we’re experiencing unprecedented numbers of applicants, so no thanks” emails and phone calls I’ve gotten in the last few months is mindblowing. The roommate life if getting old fast, especially with the creepy roommate we have right now. I just want to be able to get our own place, get a fuzzy brother or sister (or both) for very-lonely Bowser Kitten, and live life like a real grown-up. But nothing I do is working.

Last week I made a few discoveries about AAB’s drinking and finances that he had been hiding from me. We fought a lot and spent the whole week sleeping in separate bedrooms. I realized that I have to plan for a future with him and one without him at the same time because I have no clue how long this will last with us. I couldn’t eat at all for most of last week unless I was at work, and this week is only a bit better. I was able to eat most of an omelet today, but have felt like throwing up for the last two hours since I ate it. It’s a struggle to keep the food down. My heart is fluttering like a hundred butterflies are trapped in my chest. I can’t focus on any one task at a time and am jumping between writing this, cleaning, reading, jumping around the room to try and distract myself from myself, and watching YouTube videos.  I am tired and wired and just trying not to burst out in tears every few minutes. The only thing keeping me going is the Bowser Kitten sitting in my lap right now.  He has no real cat instincts, so he needs me around to take care of him and point out bugs for him to chase. He’s the only reason I keep going every day right now. I feel like everything else is just falling down around me, waiting to crush me completely.

I need to get myself ready for work, calm myself down enough to make the walk out there in this snow storm. It’s time for more I’m Sorry Dad, fix my now-cried-off eyeliner, smother myself in moisturizer before I head out into the storm, and find my uniform. Work gets me away from everything here and gives me time to clear my head a little. Working surrounded by alcohol and alcoholics really does a number on my conscious lately (what, with AAB’s problems), but being with my work family centers me. And my shift tonight is partly with my WorkBFF, so I’ll have someone there in my corner.

So, welcome to my total and complete breakdown Sunshine! I’m going to lose it completely any day now!

 

You’re just so damn edgy, I could cry……

Somehow every year I wind up working Super Bowl Sunday at the store. Not surprisingly, people like to wait until the last minute to pick up their booze for their Super Bowl parties, so the place is bumpin’ most of the day. I absolutely love the store on days like that. When it’s busy, I can push all the madness and personal stuff out of my head and just not be a giant ball of anxiety for a few hours. All week, due to finances and some major issues between myself and the (Sometimes) Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend, my anxiety has been so bad that I couldn’t keep any food in me. It was a pretty rough week, and I was really looking forward to the madness of Super Bowl Sunday at the store and then eating nachos with AAB while we tried to stream part of the game (or I watched the drive chart on my NFL app since our USATV app crashed).

Now, I am not a huge sports fan. I have a favourite hockey team and a favourite football team. But because of work, I didn’t get to sit down and watch a certain team known to its fans as Da Bears play a single game this season. I follow my teams, but I can’t name all the players. I guess you’d say I’m a casual sports fan.

At work, I have a few coworkers who are hardcore into a few sports, mainly hockey and football. Two of my sweet little Kittens at work only watch championship games, like the Super Bowl, because there are big parties and food. A few others only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. And one or two don’t watch sports at all. We’re all cool with each other, and no one makes fun of anyone else for their love of sports, or for the total lack thereof. We all do that thing where we realize that each one of us is an individual person, with their own free thoughts and mind, and we are all not going to like the same things, so we respect each other’s likes and dislikes. You know, that whole “being a respectful adult” thing.

Now if only my other friends could manage that too.

Not Caring About Football

Every year, at least two weeks before the Super Bowl, my Facebook gets flooded with anti-football memes.  I don’t care about the memes themselves. If someone doesn’t want to watch football, they don’t have to. It’s this strange sense of intellectual entitlement that seems to come with these memes every year that really gets to me.

Now, to be clear, I love a good meme or pun. I absolutely adore every single post about the lack of bids at the Superb Owl this year. The “hey, why is there a concert during the Justin Timberlake concert” posts gave me a chuckle the first hundred times I saw them. And I have mad love for every single person who admitted through meme that the only reason they watch the Super Bowl is for the food and/or commercials. These are all done in good fun. The tone of these posts is more “look how fun I’m having, with this once a year event happening as the backdrop for the festivities”, focusing on the fact that they’re possibly watching the game, or the commercials, or just inhaling nachos at a rate previously unheard of in a human.

The posts that really sour my kraut are the ones that put everyone down.

I have close to a dozen friends who all seem to think that, because they don’t watch any sort of sporting events, they are somehow superior to the rest of us common folk who do. It’s not just a quick, “Well, I won’t be watching the Super Bowl today, does anyone else want to join me in doing [whatever the hell they have planned]” message on Facebook or an event invite to some alternative event during the big game. No, these friends of mine seem to have some sort of burning hatred for all organized sports and have this idea that they are somehow superior to anyone who is dumb enough to enjoy watching or playing anything. They seem to think that by not watching sports they are somehow smarter than the average person, and they love to make sure everyone knows that.

A person I once considered my best friend has this attitude. For the most part, we got along great. In fact, we were inseparable at times. We would get ready for parties together, have long movie and pizza nights, hang out between classes and all weekend, and even threw joint birthday parties together for years. We did pretty much everything together unless sports were involved.

She skipped every Super Bowl party, every hockey night (which is big here in Canada), and would only watch something sports related if one of our friends was actually playing and she didn’t have to stay too long. It never bothered me that she wouldn’t come to these events since I had others friends who were more than willing to watch games with me. What got to me was the attitude she gave everyone if they ever dared to ask her to come.  It was one of those, “how dare you ask me, an Intellectual who can see through all this bullshit, to participate in your little game celebration” attitudes that just dripped with contempt for anyone who dared to enjoy themselves with such trivial things.

And you know what? Even this stupid attitude wouldn’t bother me much from her, or from others like her, if it wasn’t so in-your-face, I’m-right-you’re-wrong, look-how-much-better-than-you-I-am all the time.  I wind up with more than a dozen of these “I’m too smart to watch the Super Bowl” posts in a row on Facebook for days at a time leading up to the damn game! These friends comment on other people’s posts about Super Bowl parties, mocking them for caring about something so trivial. Last year I even had one friend flat out tell me that I cannot possibly care about anything even remotely social justice related because I was going to go watch the Super Bowl at my parents’ house in order to check in on my brother who had just broken his knee in a horrible car accident!

The absolute worst of these Intellectual utterances comes from that once-close friend of mine. She somehow wound up as a writer for our university’s newspaper. Not content with reporting actual news or reviewing local bands, she decided that the entire student body needed to know that they had all been brainwashed into a very evil pastime: watching sports.  She argued that anyone could be taught the skills needed to be a professional athlete, such as coordination and height. All sports leagues were inherently patriarchial in refusing women the chance to play, completely ignoring all of the female athletes who have either played in male-dominated leagues or have gone on to start their own female leagues. She even went so far as to say that sports are a lesser form of entertainment compared to music, art, and writing, because these grown adults “play” a game. If you can associate the word “play” with a form of entertainment, then it must be a lesser form than true entertainment such as the theatre.

Because we all know that playwrights who write plays, and the actors who play roles in such plays, would never dare have the word “play” associated with them.

Ok, so her stupid pointless opinion piece is a rather extreme example, but her and other friends have this exact same mindset when it comes to any sports event! I once posted on one of my social media accounts that I had two extra tickets to see my friend’s son play in a charity hockey match. Two separate people messaged me saying that they had better things to do than watch “idiots chase a puck”, and would be spending the night at home reading. It was a charity game full of 8-10-year-old kids!

I enjoy watching football. When I used to have to occasional Sunday off, I would throw on my Bears jersey, grab some beers, and head over to my parents’ place to watch Da Bears with mum while we ate polish sausage and kielbasa. I also read a lot, and have a massive pile of books to be read next to my desk (and another under the desk, and two more on the bookcase, and more books scattered throughout the house). I love older video games and could spend hours playing old-school Mario games on Nintendo emulators. I love documentaries, and action movies, and horror movies, and musicals. For the last few years, I’ve spent my birthday watching local musical theatre productions with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend. We play Pokemon GO on campus, while we talk about serial killers and criminological theories on crime. And I constantly have a variety of music playing, even in the shower.  And you know what? None of these things makes me any better, any smarter, any dumber, or any worse off than anyone else.

The point is, liking or not liking something doesn’t necessarily make you a better person than someone else. Enjoying a sport doesn’t make you dumb, just like reading Jane Austen doesn’t make you smart. There are people out there who can do both! What really matters is what you do with your life, how you treat those around you, and what you can bring to the table when it comes to living your very best life. If all you have going for you is, “I don’t watch sports because an an Intellectual I would rather sit alone at home and read Jane Austen”, then maybe it’s time you took a good hard look at your life.

Things I Shouldn’t Have to Tell My Grown-Ass Roommates

As you all know, I live with roommates. Since I moved out to go to university, I’ve lived with more than 30 different roommates in a handful of places. With the exception of one girl who moved out of her mom’s house and then lived here for almost 3 whole months before moving back home, none of those roommates have been on their own for the first time when they lived with me. For the most part, these were grown-ass adults who had lived on their own for years before we crossed paths. The majority of my roommates were my age or slightly younger, but I’ve lived with a few older folk in my day. Hell, one roommate was the same age as my parents.

Now, in all of those years, I’ve had to say some pretty ridiculous things to these roommates. Now, keep in mind that these are grown-ass adults. I cannot stress enough that these are grown-ass adults I’m dealing with here. If these were young kids living away from home for the first time, and their parents did everything for them before they moved out, then I’d somewhat understand having to say some of these things. But these are grown-ass adults. These are people who have had careers and apartments, and through some strange quirk in the universe wound up at the university here and lived under the same roof as me after all that. These are people who should know better.

So, without further adieu, I give to you my first installment of Things I Shouldn’t Have to Tell My Grown-Ass Roommates

  1. Clean out the mesh hair trap in the shower. Otherwise, all the gunk that’s trapped in there just clogs it up and makes the water pool at your feet.
  2. Don’t blow your nose in the shower. Snot clogs the mesh hair trap
  3. Don’t jerk off in the shower. There is now jizz clogging the mesh hair trap, and I sure as hell am not cleaning that.
  4. Don’t turn on the AC if it’s not hot out, and then wear a sweater in the house.
  5. 65F is not hot.
  6. Seriously, buy a small fan. It’s not hot out.
  7. An industrial fan is NOT a small fan!
  8. Seriously, the cat is covered in fur. I’m not about to let him overheat. If he can stand the heat, we can too.
  9. Why the hell would you turn on the AC and a space heater?
  10. It’s a bedroom. Not even a huge bedroom. It’s just a small room full of your stuff. How many damn space heaters do you need?
  11. The house isn’t soundproof, and neither are the walls between our rooms.
  12. It’s like 69F in here. You don’t need three fans and the AC on!
  13. How do I know about the fans? Because the damn house isnèt soundproof and they are loud as hell!
  14. Also, I can hear you boning in there.
  15. Either that girl is delusional and really thinks your name is God, or she’s faking. Take your pick.
  16. It’s not my fault the garbage truck woke you up. It’s 3pm, and you stayed up all night smoking weed and watching movies. Deal with it.
  17. Pubes are hair! Clean them out of the damn mesh hair trap!
  18. That little knob you use to turn the oven on…. it works the other way too. Turn the oven off when you’re done.
  19. Same goes for the stove.
  20. And the lights.
  21. And the sink.
  22. Basically, anything you can turn on, you can turn off again when you’re done.
  23. If you drop food on the floor, pick it up.
  24. If you spill sauce on the floor, pick it up.
  25. Same goes for drinks.
  26. Seriously, this is some basic stuff here. Clean up your damn mess.
  27. Crumbs = bugs. Do you want to live with bugs? No? Then clean up your damn mess!
  28. I’m pretty sure when you thaw chicken breast, you don’t have to leave it out on the counter for 4 days.
  29. Ok, your cat has now pulled the chicken breast off the counter and is trying to pull it out of the plastic wrap on the kitchen floor. Pretty sure that chicken is done for.
  30. Are you seriously eating the 4-day old chicken breast the cat was licking an hour ago?
  31. If you’re going to use the oven or the stove, then freaking use it! Don’t put food in there and fo read a book, or take a shower, or go down for a nap. That’s how things burn and fires start!
  32. If your food is black, crispy, and sticking to the pan, you burned it.
  33. If the kitchen is filling with smoke, your food is burning.
  34. If the cat is sitting in front of the oven and yowling, you took your food out but left the oven on. Congratulations, my cat is now smarter than you.
  35. Bacon grease splatters. Clean it up when you’re done.
  36. Same goes for hot oil
  37. How about you just clean up any food you splatter on the stove?
  38. And since we mentioned bacon, you can’t just dump bacon grease down the drain. When it cools, it solidifies and will clog the drain. Then it attracts bugs, and it stinks.
  39. Do you have any idea how hard it is to scrape your solidified exploded chili and cheese out of the insides of the microwave? Just wipe it out after you use it.
  40. No, I don’t mean “remind me to scrub the microwave the next time you see me using it”. I mean wipe up your own damn mess when you make it!
  41. Why is my wet laundry sitting on the basement floor, covered in centipedes?
  42. What the hell made you think you could put double loads in both the apartment’s free washing machines, and then throw them together in the tiny dryer for 20 minutes, and expect them to be dry?
  43. Better yet, why the hell did you take the soaking wet clothes out of the dryer, bring them home, and leave in your hamper?
  44. That smell? It’s the mildew on your clothes. That’s what happens when you leave wet clothes in the hamper for 6 weeks.
  45. How long are you going to leave your wet clothes in the washer?
  46. Why the hell are you yelling at me for putting your wet clothes in the dryer? They’ve been sitting in the washer for eleven days!
  47. Again with the mesh hair trap! If it’s too big to fit through the tiny mesh there, then it’s going to clog it and you need to empty it. Your toenails are definitely too big to fit through there. Get rid of them.
  48. Ok, when the landlord says that I’m the only one allowed to touch the thermostat, that means that YOU don’t touch it! Period!
  49. Access to the internet is a privilege. It’s in my name, so I make the rules. Just because you pay a fee, which amounts to a very small portion of the total monthly bill, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want, especially if it’s going to get me into trouble.
  50. Ok seriously, stop illegally downloading MMA fights and porn. I totally know it’s you doing it.
  51. Well, I’m not the one downloading this crap. That means it’s either you or the damn cat, and I’m pretty sure the cat isn’t into Big and Busty Housewives of Macomb County IIV.
  52. Why is your pee on the floor?
  53. Seriously, there’s pee on the floor. I sit down to pee, so we both know it’s not mine. Clean up your damn pee!
  54. While you’re at it, you could work on the skid marks you left in the toilet. I really don’t need to be looking at your poop remnants.
  55. I rent a room here, just like you. The landlord is the guy you pay rent to, who made you sign the lease. We are two different people.
  56. Stop trying to give me your rent. It says right in the lease how to pay the landlord, and it in no way involves giving me money.
  57. Ok if I don’t collect the rent from you, then I definitely can’t give you a rent receipt. Talk to the landlord about that.
  58. Yes, the landlord lives in a whole different province, and the internet is in my name. The landlord and I are still two separate people though,
  59. Ok, I don’t care how much you try to intimidate me. No matter how convinced you are that you can kick my ass, that still does not change the fact that I am NOT the landlord, and cannot write a rent receipt for you.
  60. Stop stealing my food from the fridge.
  61. That doesn’t mean “replace all of my food with your food”.
  62. Ok, you’ve now completely filled the fridge with meat. I guess that means you won’t be stealing my vegetarian protein meat substitutes.
  63. Why are you yelling at me because you don’t like the taste of “mushroom soy veggie meat”? That’s mine, so that shouldn’t bother you.
  64. Seriously, stop complaining because you don’t like my food. If you weren’t stealing my food, then you wouldn’t know you don’t like it.
  65. Ok, when you complain that my food tastes like crap, you’re basically screaming “Hey, I’m stealing your food and eating it when you’re not around!” Stop denying it.
  66. If you throw raw meat on the counter, you’ve got to scrub that counter down and sanitize it.
  67. “Sanitize it” doesn’t mean wipe it down with a rag or a damp sponge. Use some cleaner or bleach or something!
  68. No, you can’t sanitize the chicken after the cat licked it. Maybe you shouldn’t leave it out for 4 freaking days.
  69. No, even bleach won’t work on your chicken.
  70. So yeah, the kitchen isn’t the only common area. If you use a space, clean it up.
  71. Why are there take-out coffee cups all over the living room?
  72. Ok, there is mold in the freaking coffee cups! How did long did you leave them in there?
  73. Ok, I know we had a floor in here the other day. Now there’s just pizza boxes, McDonald’s bags, and empty beer cans. What the hell happened?
  74. Your room is too hot because you closed off all the vents in there, maybe?
  75. Vents aren’t closed? Well then maybe there’s something blocking them.
  76. Ok dude, seriously? I can’t see your damn floor. There are layers of clothes and garbage. Ever thank that might block your vent?
  77. That case of iced tea that’s been sitting on the vent for months is probably what’s blocking the damn vents.
  78. It’s winter now. Not only is that iced tea all going bad from sitting on a hot vent, it’s now officially a fire hazard!
  79. If you put a pan of bacon grease in the bottom of the sink and then fill the sink with water, the water is going to be full of bacon grease.
  80. Anything you try to wash in that water is just going to get coated in bacon grease.
  81. Why are my coffee mugs so slippery? You used the bacon grease water again, didn’t you?
  82. What do you mean “when is the landlord delivering more dish soap”? Cleaning supplies are not included in the rent. We buy our own stuff here.
  83. No, most landlords do not deliver dish soap. Or cleaning products. Or vacuum bags. Or ziplock bags. What the hell kind of landlords did you have before?
  84. The room comes furnished if you want it to. You knew that when you viewed the room, and it says so in the lease. So what do you mean “what’s all that furniture doing in my room”?
  85. It comes with the furniture in the room. Or we can move it out of the room for you. If we move the furniture out, then the room isn’t furnished anymore. It’s not a hard concept.
  86. Why the hell would the landlord let you pick out all new furniture, and then buy it for you? That’s not what “comes furnished” means!
  87. Sure, send the landlord a copy of the Ikea catalog. I’m sure that will totally change her mind and she’ll buy you all new furniture. And then, we’ll take all the old furniture and use it to build a rocketship to go colonize Mars.
  88. Why the hell would you think you could take the landlord’s furniture with you when you move out?
  89. No, the furniture isn’t yours now that you’ve used it. People used it before you too. They didn’t try to take it with them when they moved out!
  90. That beeping sound coming from your smoke detector? It’s the low battery warning. Same thing it was this morning when you asked me what that beeping sound coming from your smoke detector was.
  91. No, the house isn’t on fire. Usually, when the smoke detector beeps and then says “low battery”, that’s a sign that the battery is low.
  92. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that changing the battery might stop that “low battery” beep.
  93. Why is the laundry tub full of dishes?
  94. Ok, how long are those dishes going to sit in the laundry tub?
  95. Is that my favourite tea mug floating in the laundry tub? The one you swore you have never seen in your life and had no idea where it had gone to?
  96. No, I’m pretty sure I didn’t go downstairs and put my mug in the laundry tub. I use the kitchen sink for dishes, like everyone else in the damn house.
  97. No, you can’t use laundry detergent to wash your dishes, even if you wash them in the laundry tub.
  98. No, you can’t use Ivory soap and shampoo if you wash your dishes in the bathtub either.
  99. Seriously, dish soap really isn’t that hard a concept!
  100. Ok, why the hell is there 3 days worth of food clogging up the damn mesh trap in the bathtub drain?

And So It Begins……

Just got home from work, poured myself a glass of wine, checked my Snaps from my sister, and am settling in to try and order some new pants for work. I would seriously like to know who the hell is in charge of setting pants styles and deciding that stores will carry only those styles each year. We have to wear plain black pants at work. Any plain black pants or jeans will do as long as they’re presentable and have no visible rips or tears. No yoga pants, or leggings, or ripped up jeans, or pants with embroidery or patterns. Just plain black pants. Think I can find some? Nope!

I have looked at every store I usually shop at. Everything they have is either tights or full of holes. The only blank jeans I found all day that aren’t full of holes had giant embroidered flowers all over the thighs and butt.  Unless I’m willing to shell out $60 for a pair of pants that will be worn out in the inner thigh in a matter of months anyway, I’m not getting any pants today. The closest I’ve found so far are ankle length linen pants with flowers on the back pockets.

Of course, I’m doing this online. Today is Black Friday, so there is no way I’m am stepping foot within 100 yards of the mall today. I know that Black Friday is a huge deal in America, but it hasn’t been that big of a deal here in Canada until recently. I live in a border town, so the last few years we’ve started having Black Friday deals popping up here and there. We even have a little display at work with a handful of Black Friday deals that last the weekend. This year is taking it too far though, in my opinion.

Usually, American Thanksgiving signals the start of the Christmas season around here. The mall stays open later, people rush out to go Christmas shopping, there’s decorations and Christmas music everywhere. This year, instead of just keeping the mall open later than normal, stores in our mall were given the option to open at 6am in order to attract the cross-border shoppers who were coming home from a long night of deals at that time. People lined up at stores at 7am, and it wasn’t even the day after Christmas!

I admit I have done the 7am lineup once with my siblings. We made a day of shopping on Boxing Day, getting those post-Christmas clearance deals. I did it once, and once only. I’ve been offered a few times to go again and turned them down every time. There’s just something that bothers me about adding to the madness that causes people to have to get out of bed on a nice, relaxing day to head into work hours early to serve anxious shoppers who come through their store like a tornado.

Black Friday isn’t the only sign the Christmas season is starting, though. Today we had our first seasonal worker in training on cash! He seems like a really sweet guy, and he caught on really quickly. We’ll hopefully have the other four workers in very soon to get their training in because this is our busy season. For some reason, people go nuts this time of year even just shopping at my store.

I get it, this is a busy time of year for people. I mean, just for me this time of year means more hours, a tonne of baking, more shopping in a matter of days than I usually do the rest of the year, wrapping gifts, chasing the ever playful Bowser Kitten after he gingerly plucks another ornament down off the tree and runs off with it in his mouth to nap with, and the mounting stress that comes with dealing with everyone else who is doing much of the same thing. Add to this the constant barrage of sweets, invitations to dinner parties, yet another Secret Santa, Christmas Parties, dealing with relatives who insist there is a War On Christmas, knowing that you’re going to have to spend at least one Christmas dinner stuck between your very liberal uncle and your ‘”Make America Great Again” aunt, and it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. The thing is, we’re all going through this stuff right now.

I know that you’re stressed, and you’re tired of dealing with people. You just want to walk into a store, grab everything you need in one fell swoop, cash out, and never set foot in a mall again. You don’t want to deal with all the other shoppers who are ready to pull out the pepper spray and fight to the death over the very last whatever the hell the popular toy is this year. Walking through the mall, you keep replaying old video clips of the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids riots that happened in stores, waiting for someone to run up behind you and wack you with a metal folding chair so they can take the last cheese log at the Hickory Farms kiosk. You’re on your toes, ready just in case some random dude tries to piledrive you into the shiny tiled mall floor over a novelty Santa apron. The last thing you want to deal with is an over-attentive store clerk asking you what you need.

The thing is, that clerk is dealing with this crap too. Go check out YouTube, look for Black Friday shopping videos. Watch the 1983 Cabbage Patch Kids clips. I saw clerks in those videos carrying baseball bats for their own safety. These employees get trampled, get grabbed at, get screamed at, get threatened, all over a few dollars worth of merchandise. And this is on top of the normal dumbassery they deal with! They still have the secret shoppers to worry about, the stacks of clothes that are laying in a heap on the floor minutes after being carefully folded. They have to deal with poop in the change rooms, and parents letting their kids run rampant in the stores while they shop. When you have some free time while in front of your computer and aren’t obsessively reading through my old posts (or listening to the I’m Sorry Dad podcast, which I highly recommend), go check out Not Always Right. People post stories all year about the crap they have to deal with working in retail. Now imagine dealing with the things you read on there, plus all the crap that comes with the holiday season.

And to deal with the increase in shoppers over the holidays, a whole lot of stores hire seasonal workers. We have a new batch being trained right now, and a few stores in my plaza started training their last week. I know a few places in the mall here were starting their workers next week. That means that these people will have maybe six whole weeks of experience by the time they’re done. They may be really slow on cash. They probably don’t know where things are in the store. They don’t know how to look things up, or where the next closest store is, or when the next sales start. They’re basically hired to run cash so the full-year employees can get everything else done.

I know at my store, there’s a 6am shift just for the holidays. The work BFF and I will get in at 6am to wash the floors, pull the warehouse, stock the front end, and start putting stock away. Then we’re unloading the delivery, scanning the warehouse, and doing more stock once the store is open. There is a tonne of freaking stock to put out, and we have everyone possible in to help out. We pull every available body to keep stock on the shelves and need those extra people on the cash registers. For the most part, they can handle themselves. But they’re temporary workers who have no clue what goes on the there the rest of the year. They can’t tell you where a specific wine is, or what pairs best with veal, or whether we’re getting any Beaujolais Nouveau in before the holidays. They are just there to run cash.

So while you’re out shopping this holiday season, have a little patience. Chances are, the person at the cash is new at this. Yes, you’re tired and sore and hungry and frustrated with having to deal with 3/4 of the city being crammed into the mall all at once. But they’ve had to deal with all of the same things, with the added stress of being yelled at and given attitude by shoppers who can’t believe they have to wait an extra 90 seconds to be rung through because their cashier is slow. These poor workers are getting the mental shit kicked out of them, and then having to go out into that same madness to do their own shopping.

So be kind this holiday season. Remember that the people serving you in the stores are just that: people. They deserve the same kindness and respect that you would expect from them.