Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Art of Conversation

Yesterday I had to attend a work related function, a sort of trade show type thing. Dozens of tables were set up with various toys and games and it was my job (and the job of a hundred or so other toy folks from around the NW) to walk around playing the games and chatting with the representatives so that we could go back to our respective bosses and share our opinions about what games our stores should carry. (That makes me sound important doesn't it? Believe me, I am but a minor cog.)

As I was walking around chatting with representative after representative, I felt so very awkward. I don't know if I looked awkward or seemed awkward, but it occurred to me that even now, at almost 35 years old, conversation and small talk doesn't come to me easily and when I'm with a large group of people I still feel like a social freak. I feel like I have to work really hard to be as normal as the rest of the room.

All my life I've always classified myself as 'shy' mainly because that was the label everyone else gave to me. But as I've gotten older, I really don't think that label applies and I'm starting to wonder if it ever did. I consider shy people to be people who are afraid to talk to others. That's not me. I'm not scared of people and I'm not afraid that I'll look silly or say something stupid. Simply put, I just don't always have something to say. Even if the conversation is about something I know a lot about, it's sometimes hard for me to put the right words together to express how knowledgeable I actually am. By the time I sort it all out in my head, the conversation has moved on. The words are there, but somewhere between my brain and my mouth, they get stuck. I wonder why this is?

Jay, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. He always has the words and will say them to anyone and everyone. Because of this he sometimes (completely innocently) talks for me or over me. Or before I get a chance to. I certainly don't blame Jay for this. It's his personality and he can't change it anymore than I can transform myself into a Chatty Cathy. But it's frustrating. When we're out together, there are times I feel like his sidekick. Or a minor character in The Jay Show. And I don't want that. I think everyone wants to be the star of their own show. It's just that my show, unfortunately, happens to star a mute who mostly wants to live in her own head, and no one wants to watch that.

Does anyone else feel this way sometimes? Often?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Job Related Random Thought

I continue to be thankful that not only do I have a job, but that I like the job that I have. My coworkers are all good, hard working people and none of them really irritate me. I never look at the schedule and think, Ugh. I'm working with so-and-so. Great. I'll need to make this bearable, better not forget the whiskey filled flask today.

The customers aren't bad either. I've found that very few people come to a small, independent toy store in a pissy mood and it's hard to get into a pissy mood if you're in such a fun environment. If someone does get into a bad mood it's usually because their kid keeps asking for a $200 doll house or their husband won't stop playing with the instruments in the music section, neither of which are my problem. So my job is virtually stress free.

That being said, I will state this complaint: People who want to stay and shop past closing time. Most of the time it's innocent folks just being dumb about time. Fine. But when someone says to me "What time do you close?" And I say, "Five minutes ago." The correct response is not, "Okay, well I'll only be a few more minutes." Experiences with people who say that has led me to a realization about myself: My skills as a salesperson have a Jekyll and Hyde-like quality. I am great up until closing. But after closing, much like a werewolf on the night of a full moon, I become a monster. As I've mentioned before, I'm also a horrible actress and it's really hard for me to disguise my true feelings. So even though I'm trying to smile at this poor unfortunate jerk who finds themselves asking me about Legos at 8:01, I know that in actuality I probably look like an uncontrollable, newly turned vampire ready to suck the life blood out of them. What's worse, I don't care. I want them to be scared. I want them to run.

Because of this I try to just stay away from people right before closing. There is always trash to take out or a toilet to clean.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

If I Had To Do It All Over Again

As I was lying in bed this morning trying to gather enough energy to make it to the coffee pot that sits a mere 20 steps away, I somehow got to thinking about all of the life decisions-some big, some small-we make on a daily basis that ultimately play a part in moving our lives forward and getting us to where we 'end up', so to speak. There are times, just out of curiosity, that I'd love to be able to take a glimpse into an alternate universe and see how things might have been.

When I was a young girl, about 14, I had the biggest crush on a friend's older brother. At that time I was very close to the whole family. I spent a lot of time at their house hanging out with my friend and not so secretly fantasizing about the future that her brother and I would, OF COURSE, eventually share. A few years later he found out I liked him, I don't really remember how it came out, but I do remember the heartache that followed. Not only did he not like me in that way, but he barely knew I existed. I was devastated. I think I stayed in my room for a full 24 hours, with the curtains closed, getting out of bed only to flip over my Pearl Jam tape.

Time passed. I got over the heartache. My friend and I grew apart. Life went on. For the most part, I've lost touch with all of the people from my former life. But I hear things through the grapevine. The last I heard about my first real crush, was that at almost 40, he was still single and still living at home with his mom. (Let me make this clear. He didn't move out and then move back in because of some financial or other type of hardship. He NEVER left home.) Obviously, he is no one I'd look at twice today, but I still can't help thinking about how my life may have been had he liked me in the way that I liked him. His family is very conservative and they place a lot of importance on traditional male/female roles. Dad worked, mom cooked and cleaned. Had we ended up together I don't think either one of us would have been very happy.

I think what originally got me to thinking about all of this was my son's 13th birthday. By most standards, I was young when I had him, only 21. There are times, when I'm feeling sorry for myself, that I regret starting a family so young. I didn't go to college, I haven't yet seen New York City. Jay and I didn't do a lot of living on our own before we had to start living with baby. How would my life be different if I had waited, two, five, ten years to have a child?

But then I look around. I take a close look at people. The world is filled with folks who seem to have done things the 'ideal' way, and they don't appear to be any happier than I am. Things aren't perfect in my life (and I doubt they ever will be), but I have a husband who wants nothing more than to see me happy and I have two kids who I love more and more with each passing day. It's such a cliche', but life is truly what you make of it.

So, if I did hold the key to an alternate universe and I was able to see all of the what if's and could have been's, would I do it? Probably not. Through Facebook, I've caught up with enough people from my past to be able to say that nothing, not even happiness, is ever a guarantee. And the grass on the other side? Yeah, it's never as green as we think it's going to be.

What about you? What what if's do you think about?

Monday, July 18, 2011

And Then I Washed My Hands With Really Hot Water

So.....a couple weeks ago I ordered some frying pans. They arrived last Saturday in a large, oddly shaped cardboard box. I usually like to keep boxes for reuse, but because this one was so big and I really don't have that kind of storage space, I decided to take it down to the recycling area of my apartment complex.

My apartment has about eight large trash cans designated for recyclables. The maintenance guys do a great job of keeping it all under control but on weekends the whole area can get a bit crazy. This being a Saturday, the bins were pretty full and since, as mentioned, my box was big, I had to move around the recyclables so as to make room for it. Now keep in mind, this isn't trash, just recycling, so on a normal day the ickiest thing I would have to worry about touching would be an old mayonnaise jar or maybe a soup can with clam chowder stuck to the side. BUT, apparently this was the day the neighborhood freak took out her recycling because as I'm shuffling around catalogs and milk cartons trying to create space for my box, my hand touches a giant, flesh colored vibrator. And it wasn't just a quick touch, I had done some full-on palm to vibe action.

After jerking my hand back I just sort of stood there holding up the lid and staring at the vibrator. It's not like I had never seen one before, I just didn't expect to see it there. In fact, I think I would have been less surprised had I found a body in the trash can. ( Side note: I watch so much Law and Order that I always kind of expect to find a body. ) But seriously, who recycles that stuff? I'm all for being a good steward of the earth but some things should just be destined for the landfill.

Now all that's left is for me to wonder what neighbor it belonged to..........

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Random Thoughts

Oh blog (and blog people!), how I've missed you so much. But I'm a working gal now so we are both going to have to get used to this new reduced writing schedule. Or I'm going to have to stay up until two in the morning writing blog posts, which probably is not going to happen because I love sleep far too much. But, right now, it's Saturday morning, the kids are still sleeping, and it seems like the perfect time for some random thoughts.

*MY JOB. I love it. It's totally low key and low stress. When the store is slow and there isn't much else to do, the owner actually encourages us to play games. She wants us to learn and be fully comfortable with every toy in the store so we can be knowledgeable enough to sell all the products. Who wouldn't want to go to work and play Bananagrams or Qwirkle?

*Even though my job is technically part time, I worked six days in a row this past week, almost 40 hours. I'm certainly not complaining, a lot of the jobs I applied for were very part time (like, 8 hours a week), but it was an odd feeling to get thrown so deeply and so quickly back into the game. But again, NOT COMPLAINING. I consider myself lucky to have a job.

*In non-job news, today is our fourteenth wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to us! (Jay: This one is for you!)

*Monday is the boy's thirteenth birthday. But my thoughts on being the mother of a teenage boy can fill a blog post all on their own.

*I'm so ashamed to admit that I haven't read a book in over a month. Actually, I should amend that: I haven't finished a book in over a month. I was reading a few different things while job hunting but really couldn't focus on them. But I just started The Violets of March, which seems pretty good and I'm anxious to finish it and get back into the habit of writing book reviews.

*Last week we took the kids to John's Incredible Pizza. John's is like Chuck E. Cheese but way louder, way flashier, way more seizure inducing, and way more frenetic. Plus, it has a wine bar, so way better. A few shots from that day:

Peanut butter pizza (Note: It was weird.):
Am I the only one who truly enjoys watching their kids play bumper cars? It's one of those few times when they can safely take out all that violent sibling energy that's bubbling below the surface. "You want to make your sister bounce around like a lifeless rag doll? Sure! All in the name of fun."

Okay, so since this is my first day off in six days, I'm going to go spend some time with my kids, do a little sewing, a little laundry, and maybe make my bed the real way, and not the half assed way I've been doing all week.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Let's Talk Movies

(Idea totally stolen from Theresa, and feel free to steal it from me.)

Name a movie you have seen more than ten times: Annie Hall

Name a movie you have seen multiple times in the cinema: The Fugitive. When I was younger I had a huge crush on Tommy Lee Jones ( I know, don't judge.) and one of my friends at the time loved Harrison Ford, so we watched this movie over and over. At times we were the only two in the theatre.

Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a film: Um, Alec. Duh.

Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a film: Ashton Kutcher. Or, Bruce Willis. Or, for that matter, Demi Moore. That whole trifecta makes me ill.

Name a film that you can and do quote from: Hmmmm......this is a tough one. I pick my quotes more from TV than film. I used to quote Twilight for a while, but usually only to my best friend.

Name a musical that you know all of the songs and lyrics to: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Especially this song by the gloriously spoiled Veruca Salt.)

Name a film that you would recommend everyone see: This is a tough one for me because everyones taste in movies is so different and I honestly don't think I feel strongly enough about any movie to suggest it to everyone.

Ever walked out on a film: No, but only because I see so few movies in the theatre. But there have been plenty of movies that Jay and the boy have watched that I've turned a blind eye to. (I'm looking at you Pineapple Express.)

Name a film that made you cry
My god this is embarrassing. My Sister's Keeper. A few months back this was on HBO, like, every other day and I watched it a lot (mainly because of Alec) and cried every time. Fuck all y'all, don't judge me.

Eh. I prefer Skittles.

How often do you go to the cinema? So very rarely. Aside from Alec, not much gets me to the theatre. Maybe a family film we can all agree on, like The Wimpy Kid movies. So yeah, once a year. Maybe.

What's your favorite film genre? Dark comedies and independent films.

What's the first film you remember seeing at the cinema? I think it was The Empire Strikes Back.

What film do you wish you had never seen?
The Human Centipede. Technically, I haven't actually seen this movie, but I've seen the trailer and it was more than enough. Those three minutes have scarred me for life. If I could un-see that trailer, I'd do it in a heartbeat. If I ever actually did see the movie, I'd probably have to be on some serious medications to just carry on with a normal life. If you don't have any idea what The Human Centipede is, than consider yourself lucky. I'm not going to link to it because it is some messed up junk and I refuse to send my readers down that road. So yes, Google at your own risk. Don't say I didn't warn you.

If you could be any character portrayed in a movie, who would it be? Annie Hall. She is me, I am she.

Total number of films you own on dvd: The majority of our dvd's are of the Blues Clues/Spongebob variety. Aside from that, maybe 10?

Last film you bought: It's Complicated. Sigh. Alec.

Last film you watched: I have no clue because for the last two months our dvd time has been devoted to TV shows like Homicide or The Wire. Our latest Netflix selection though is a movie called Staten Island which has Vincent D'onofrio in it and I love him, even though he's kind of a chunkster now. But that's okay, big boys need love too.

Five films that mean a lot to you: Eh. Again, movies don't really mean that much to me. I love them, but tend to forget about them as soon as the dvd is slid back into its little red envelope and on its way back to Netflix.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Wall Art

When we first moved into this apartment almost a year and a half ago(!), I wasn't in a hurry to hang things on the wall. I was still holding onto the dream that we'd make some money on the sale of our house and that we wouldn't be here past a year. Since those plans have changed and we will be in this apartment for a bit longer, all the family photos have been hung, and I've slowly started adding art to the walls.

As my circle of friends has grown to include more crafty and artistic types, I'm finding that typical store bought art just isn't doing it for me anymore. I like to see stuff made by my friends. I have an owl painting of Daphne's that hangs by my bed, and a print of Mandy's over my sewing machine. Here are a few more of the latest additions:

This is The Three Graces and it's a silhouette created by my pal Maria Rose over at Little Things are Big.Years back I mentioned to Maria how much I liked it and a few months ago she finally got her "poop in a group" (her words) enough to send it to me. I was so excited to finally get it, but the frame had been broken so it sat around waiting to be re-framed. Well, today I finally got my own poop in a group, and up on the wall it went. (You can view all of the work by Maria Rose and her talented hubby by going to Planet Wimmer.)

The second piece of art that I wanted to share is a bit of a collaborative effort between me and the boy. You old timers may remember that last year my son made an anniversary card for me and Jay that included this picture, which I used as my header photo for a short while:

Jay and I both loved it and I wanted to find a way to turn it into a keepsake, so I uploaded the image to Spoonflower and a few weeks later I received my fabric swatch with Monty's drawing. It's been sitting around waiting to be framed, which seems to be a recurring theme around here.Anyway, I went to frame it today and realized it needed something, so to make the whole thing just a bit more eye catching, I sewed a border around it. Now even Monty likes it, and initially he hated the idea of having his art showcased. Although he insists on telling everyone that he drew it when he was eight, and not last year when he was twelve. Whatever keeps the peace.

As my search for wall art continues, I'm curious, what's on your walls? Do you buy store bought art or do you make your own?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Blue Lake Park

There isn't much to say about these photos, they're just some fun snapshots of our recent trip to Blue Lake. Blue Lake may be our new favorite place to spend summer days. It's close (just 20 minutes from the city) and cheap ($5 a carload!). Plus, there is a splash pad for the girl and, for an added fee, paddle boats and canoes for the boy.
The weather was still fairly cool the day we went, maybe in the seventies. But I definitely predict we'll be back around August, when it's 95 degrees out and I'm flopping around the apartment feeling as if I'm about to spontaneously combust.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Color Me Employed

The search is over. I have a job. As of this week I am employed at a local independent toy store that I love, love, love, and have mentioned here before but will not mention again because I want to keep this part of my life separate from that part of my life. I do want to talk a bit about how I came to get this job because I think it's sort of interesting how everything fell into place.

When I first started job hunting, I kept meaning to apply at this toy store because not only do I love it, but its core values are in line with mine and I definitely feel a connection to the people that work there. But, I kept thinking, It's a smaller business, turnover is probably really low, they're not hiring, blah blah blah. You know, all those little negative thoughts that seep in and keep you from going down the path you really want to travel. So I never applied.

Meanwhile, I apply for at least two dozen jobs and I interview with two different companies. The interviews weren't bad, but in hindsight I probably wasn't as excited about them as I could have been and obviously the interviewers felt the same way because I never heard back from them. I was starting to feel like a total reject when Cyndy pops over and says, "You should check out Craigslist." And I'm like, "But Cyndy, isn't Craigslist filled with rapists and people who want me to show up for work in a thong and nipple clamps?" Cyndy says, "No way! I got my job through Craigslist and I don't have to wear nipple clamps to work." (Okay, it went nothing like that, but you get where I'm going here, right? )

So, the next day Jay is sitting at the computer playing his fortieth Mah Jong game of the day (It's how he unwinds!) and I'm relaying what Cyndy said when he says, "My company places Craigslist ads all the time, I know how to weed through the junk, I'll check it out for you." Because I know for a fact that Jay doesn't wear nipple clamps to work, I said, "Have at it." He went to Craigslist and within minutes was reading about how my favorite toy store ever was hiring. So of course I hightailed it over there, dropped off my resume, and within a few hours they called me back to set up an interview.

Two days later I return for my interview with the owner. I was nervous, but not as nervous as I had been at the other interviews. I think this was because this time I wouldn't be faking it. (I'm not good at bullshitting and pretending to be passionate about things that I couldn't care less about. ) The interview went amazingly and the owner and I just clicked. That afternoon she called and offered me the position.

My first day was yesterday and I know I'm going to love this job. The owner was a children's therapist for twelve years so she feels strongly about creative, open ended play and playing with a purpose. She doesn't want her employees to be just cashiers, but she wants them to be knowledgeable of the products. My first shift was spent walking the store with the assistant manager, learning about almost every single toy, where it's made, what it's made of, what type of child it's best suited for, and so on. Because of this, I feel as if my job is more than simply 'selling toys.'

I'm still so amazed how everything worked out. I'm never one to really believe in fate or that things happen for a reason, but I can't argue with the fact that Cyndy's simple comment about Craiglist was what prompted me to apply for the job that I really wanted. (Thanks again Cyndy!) I also think that the experience gained from the previous interviews (and subsequent rejections) I had, made it possible for me to clearly see what kind of job I really wanted. I'm trying not to over think it all, but it feels good that something worked out in my favor.