Friday, September 30, 2005

yay for good tippers!

Being that I have moved so many times in my life, I have not had the opportunity to serve people at the tea room that I know. Until today. In walks my parent's realtor who helped us buy the house we live in now . . .

I greeted her cheerfully, as I greet all customers, but I soon realized I did know her, so we caught up and chatted pleasantly while I served her and her daughter their meals. I gave her excellent service, if I may say so myself, and, to my delight, she left me a nice, big tip. What a wonderful lady! Now, to go out and smooze with more people to help out my pocketbook . . .

Just kidding! I serve all of my customers with the same respect and courtesy. But a girl's got to support a shoe and purse habit somehow. *grin*

Now on to smiling as I ring up everyone's receipts at the Big Retail Store. So far, so good, but Grand Opening is coming this Saturday, and I'm a little nervous. It's going to be like a herd of cattle trampled through the rows of dresses and purses and household goods.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

your comments are important!

But please, please, PLEASE be a real person.

I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but due to a recent outbreak of spam comments, I've had to turn on word verification. Whenever you post a comment, Blogger will ask you to type the series of letters that you see on the screen. This little bit of work will make the blog more accessible for all of my wonderful real live readers!

Thank you, and I appreciate every one of you and always gobble up the comments you leave. It's always a bit like Christmas morning when I find comments on one of my posts. I love hearing from people who have taken the time to read about my life.

what is AP style, again?

I had an unusual experience today. I turned down a potentially big opportunity to be a freelance graphic designer/production artist. Yes, you read that correctly . . . I turned it down.

More acurately, I started dropping hints that I might not be the best person for the job and the guy caught on and started to agree with me.

Why? Hmmmm. Because he wanted me to help him start a newspaper. In two weeks.

To borrow a Valley girl colloquialism, "as if!"

Seriously though, it would be a wonderful opportunity and a fantastic portfolio builder ("What's this?"; "Oh, just a newspaper I designed and produced . . .") but while I got the impression that while he was a serious entrepreneur and seemingly nice guy, I got the wrong kind of vibe from him when it came to business ethics and organization (while I hand it to the guy that he is trying to start something, I feel he should at the bare minimum know the terms of the industry. He asked me to explain what I meant by "will you be following AP style" . . .and the style guide of the Associated Press is only used by EVERY newspaper in America).

Can I see myself juggling two part-time jobs AND a newspaper, even a weekly one? Nope. Especially not when cutting corners and disorganization are involved. Or when the payment considered "fair" is only $8/hr. for being the designer/production artist/art director/production manager all rolled into one.

Very unfortunately, the guy is trying to pay his "consultants" based on a what a small regional daily newspaper pays their staff of "designers." When I told him that freelancers would probably charge him at least $15/hr. (but should be much more!!) his eyebrows went WAYYY up. And when I pointed to a basic real estate ad and told him it would take at least 20 minutes to set it up from scratch, and then told him to multiply that amount of time by the number of ads he intended to have in his paper PLUS the actual content, the eyebrows went up again. ("Oh. Really? But the newspaper does a daily every day."). Yeah. And they have more than one person designing things, not to mention a production manager to oversee the printing and quality control.

The whole experience got me thinking, though. I should really be prepared for this kind of thing more often. If I knew what the precise fair going rate for freelance work was, and had a basic work order sheet prepped, I could maybe really do it (once I have the software, that is). As it was, mild mannered me actually told this guy that I would love to help him out as a consultant getting started, and to give me a call--but I'd charge him next time for my advice. And he said, "I understand. Thanks!"

Hmmm. The entrepreneur in me is starting to feel the wheels turning in her head!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

in light of recent posts . . .

Today is Sunday, a day I am normally pulling myself out of bed around 7 a.m. to get ready to go to the early worship service at my parent's current choice of church. This is not to say that doing so is a bad thing; in fact, I like their church. But it is small and I have yet to talk with anyone my own age. I'm not age-ist, mind you, I like to mix things up and chat with 75 year-olds and 7.5 year-olds alike, but it would still be nice to relax over a hamburger and Diet Coke and smooze with another "young professional." That being said, I have decided to continue my own hunt for a church by visiting Singles Bible Study classes in other places.

But today I am staying home, reading my Bible for the first time in a long time just for the sake of reading my Bible. No standing up and sitting down on cue, no singing of pre-selected songs, no smiling and nodding and shaking of hands as the choir comes down mid-service. Today I am just me, sitting quietly on the porch with my God. To some, Christianity is a process of religiousity and ceremonies based on tradition. For me, that is not enough. I need hear that Still Small Voice, to know that I am at peace, and that when the rest of my life is crazy and unpredictable and so wearisome, God is still at the center of my existence, keeping me from spinning out of control.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

tired sleepy and tired achey

The first of many long weeks to come has hit me pretty hard. My two part-time jobs are getting ever-so-slightly easier, but, then again, practice makes perfect.

I'm barely on the Internet at all anymore, which is unusual for me. My blogging has slowed down to a crawl, and my fiction writing has all but stopped, with only the occasional thought towards my current protagonists and what they might be up to. Activity on forums has petered out as well. With my dear Paperpreneurs down, I've been reduced to only Verla Kay's children's writers forum, and my participation there has been sadly lacking lately.

I've read of internet paper friends who are in the midst of paper-biz-identity ponderings, and I myself am in one as I write this. As Shakespeare wrote, "to be, or not to be? That is the question." Ruby Red, at the pace I am going, is a long time coming. And, already, only a year from when the idea first began germinating, I am doubting the veracity of my desire to run a wholesale manufacturing business to the extent that I would need to in order to truly provide a salary.

Meanwhile, I'm forging ahead in my part-time jobs. Serving at the tea room is going well, although the days I work in the kitchen wear me out more, since I don't get to move around as much and I am still learning how to prepare the dishes. All in all, though, I love the tea room and everyone who works there. My boss is amazing, and the other staff are wonderful to work with--a true dream team, where everyone automatically helps the others out. The only downsides to the job are that I am so tired on kitchen days when I head over to my second job, and it is usually slow-ish several days per week, which makes the tip $$ less.

As for the great big retail store, it is set up and in the process of "soft opening," which means no advertisements or radio spots yet. October 1st is our Grand Opening, and I am scheduled to work cashier in the evening. I'm scared! Of my two jobs, this is the one I wish I didn't need to have. While I actually really enjoy cashiering and interacting with the customers, the bureacracy and rules are driving me crazy!!! I am by nature a conscientious, hard worker, but everything I have to remember, and all the procedures I have to follow are making me weary. I've already earned a spot in the "BOOK OF SHAME" for not writing the expiration dates for driver's licenses on checks the first day I worked. At least, that's what my trainer told me, as she smiled and said it was "good for you. You won't make the same mistake again." GrrrrRRRRrrrr! Let me just say, humilating me over something like that is not the way to make me a happy, loyal employee. The learning curve at this job is expected to be about zero. Either you "got it," or you didn't when you went through your two hours of training, listening to a fast-talking trainer who only went over things once and was frequently interrupted by calls to help elsewhere. I still do not understand the logic behind refusing to leave the training book next to the registers so that we cashiers can reference it and find the simple answers to our questions without paging a manager every ten minutes or so.

Meanwhile, this conscientious, hard worker has already missed a day she was scheduled . . . on accident. The schedule changed during our first set-up days, and I swear I double-checked my schedule at least two or three times, but I still ended up coming in to work last night and being told I wasn't on the schedule . . . but I had been the night before. I hope I don't get fired.

I just hope it all gets better, because the 10-15 hour days are soon going to wear me out for good. The bright spot in this cloud is that my store manager is very easy to get along with and seems to understand that we're still learning. Also, I have already told myself that I'm free to leave the retail job at any time, if need be. I'm treating it as a way to save up some emergency funds, pay off as much of my credit card debt as possible, and perhaps set aside a little for starting my business.

All this to say: I'm busy, and I'm tired, and I'm brain-dead. My creativiy is being sapped from my body by mind-numbing fatigue. But I'm getting stronger, and more determined than ever to make it on my own sooner than later. I don't think I want to do this for more than 6 months. I'll go crazy.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger, Ann Taylor, & Limited Too

What do these brands have in common?

I handled them today while stocking the new store. It was a long day on the feet, let me tell you, and tomorrow it will only get longer. I got off at 9:00 p.m today and I go in at 7 a.m. tomorrow so that I can drive out Nashville way to go to my friends' wedding.

As for Zoe, it looks like Frontline is my next attempt. I thought for sure that the vet treated her with it when she was groomed, but I'll check and see if I was mistaken. Thanks for all the recommendations!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

yes, i'm still alive

I'm a busy girl, again. For nearly two weeks now I've been waitressing at a tea room, as well as working some of the time preparing salads and sandwiches and such in the kitchen. Friday, I'll be starting a second part-time job at a large retail outlet store in the evenings. Sunday, I'll be going to the wedding of two good friends of mine.

Otherwise, my time has been spent shopping for some much needed clothing and makeup, and fighting the battle with fleas.

My poor Zoe girl is an outdoor dog with an itchy problem. I have done everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) outside of a flea collar (which I am buying ASAP) to keep my poor baby flea-free. I've dusted, squirted, combed, bathed, and had professionally groomed. I've even dusted the yard where she sits with Borax, which I have read in several places is a SURE THING to rid areas of fleas. Every time I think I have those little buggers whupped they come back with their friends and family. Unfortunately, she can't become a house dog (hair issues for household members). So I am stuck combing her and drowning the nasty critters in soapy water so they can't escape. My poor, poor doggie!