Have I Taken on Too Much?

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Y’all, I fucked up.

So, it’s been a little while since I last posted. You may have gathered from my last post that things in my life have taken a sudden, somewhat drastic upswing. I feel like I have been busier in the last two months than I have been in a really long time. This has nothing to do with the fact that things in Australia are picking up in the wake of COVID, and everything to do with the fact that I have suddenly taken on a whole lot of new things.

Perhaps it’s some kind of subconscious attempt to make up for lost time, but in the last couple of months I have started coaching with a friend of mine, I have started a new job, I have finally – after over a year of owning roller skates – started to slowly practice my skating skills (I’m still as wobbly as a baby giraffe, but I’m sure I’ll improve), I have started singing with some gals, and even started sporadically practicing the guitar again. Basically I have gone from having a pretty empty schedule, to having an almost over filled one.

And therein lies my problem. There’s a lot going on. I got distracted, I was unobservant; I made a big mistake at my new job. It’s a fixable mistake, but it’s not a small one and I feel pretty shitty about it. I have let down the client, and let down the gal I work for, and honestly when I realised what I had done, I nearly cried. Which is extremely unlike me usually, but I’m learning to embrace the softer side of me (another blog for another time) and so I am admitting openly, to a bunch of strangers on the internet, that I fucked up and I got pretty emotional about it. You’re welcome, this means we’re friends now.

The thing is, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with everything going on in my life. I just had four ‘days off’, and I spent two and half of those working anyway, so really I had one day off, and then I was so exhausted that I just got into bed and watched the final two films in the Twilight saga in the remainder of my final day (there I go again, admitting vaguely embarrassing things out loud). With things at my main job picking up due to people getting out and about – plus the fact that it’s retail and also the weeks leading up to Christmas – I sort of feel like I haven’t had time to breathe.

I think this problem of being overwhelmed is easily rectified by being more organised. But the problem is, I am having trouble finding the time to get anything done. I blink, and three hours have passed. I sit down to do one thing, and then it’s the end of the day and I have achieved nothing. Wait. I turned 28 a week ago, is this quickening time thing a result of ageing? Am I going to wake up tomorrow and be ninety?!

*sigh* Despite everything that has been going on, I still believe that the things I am doing now and going to set me up for the future. I know that the choices I have made, and the changes I am making are going to be for the better in the long run. But right now, I’m just struggling a little.

Well, thanks for listening to me vent a bit. I’m going to go and spend the next blink (*read, three hours) trying to fix the mistake that I made. Wish me luck.

Leaps and Bounds

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You know how you can be at work, and not serve a single customer for three hours, and then suddenly get a rush of twenty people all at once, in the space of about fifteen minutes? That’s how I feel about 2020. With all the strangeness surrounding Life in the Times of Covid, this year certainly hasn’t been anything like I was expecting. To be honest, I kind of feel like I have spent most of this year just living the daily grind, dying slowly from monotony and boredom, and then all of a sudden in the last few weeks, BAM! Changes flying at me from every direction, smacking me in the face like a ten tonne truck…only without the complete obliteration that would come with actually being hit with a ten tonne truck.

So what has caused this sudden massive change? Well first of all, I got a new job. It is effectively a social media manager, working for this suuuper amazing little company based in my home town. It’s not a full time position, more of a side hustle really. But it was one of those things that just spoke to me, and when I took a chance on it, and invested in myself enough to put in the application, it paid off. It has been a whirlwind of excitement and mild terror (I may or may not be prone to occasional bouts of senseless panic, don’t judge me) but I feel, definitively, that it was the right move. I am so pumped up about the future of this new venture that I can’t actually put it into words! But if I could, all the words would be positive ones!

The second of these massive changes is that I have started coaching with a very good friend of mine and hoooly shit, what a ride that has been already. To give you a bit of an insight, this friend has recently completed a life coaching course, which has enabled her to move forward in her own niche coaching market, and start taking on clients. Which is amazing for her and I am so stoked that I get to be a part of her journey, whilst she helps me begin mine. To quote her, because she will categorise it far more accurately and succinctly than me, she is a spirituality and self discovery guide. I mean listen to that, aren’t you inspired already?!

What this means for me, is that in the two sessions I have had with her already, I have made some personal goals and taken actions to move towards achieving them. I have begun to feel a change in my person, not like I have become someone else, but rather that I have opened the door to the aspects of my personality that I have been too scared or conditioned to show up until now. These changes are not necessarily physical ones. You could say that I am opening my arms to embrace my own spirituality, and that in doing so, I am setting my very soul alight. It has been a powerful experience already, and I have noticed the effects in ways I never would have expected.

Finally, I have started singing with people again. It kind of happened out of the blue one day, when I was asked to have a jam with a couple of my friends. It’s been so long since I actually sang for anyone other than my shower head, so I threw myself into the opportunity wholeheartedly. We’ve been working on a couple of songs and it has given me all the warm fuzzies, because I am SO proud of what we’ve achieved so far. Seriously, the last jam we had I was so effing jazzed by the whole thing, that I couldn’t stand still. I had those moves like Jagger, and let me tell you, I was Jaggering all over the place.

So, that’s me. After months of nothin’, the last 6 weeks have made me a social media managing, spirituality discovering, slick dance moving (which here means entirely graceless but enthusiastic) singer and I am fucking here for it. 2020, you may not have been what anyone expected, but as I begin to move forward in leaps and bounds, I can’t help but think maybe you’re not all bad.

Customer Service in the Times of COVID

I work in customer service. Ever since I was fifteen, I have been standing behind one counter or another, serving the general public, and dealing with all the awfulness that comes with it. I do not love my current job, and I certainly have no passion for it. My crowning achievement is that I have so far managed to make it through a 13 year retail career – or perhaps retail sentence is more applicable? – without punching a customer in the face. Which I rather think deserves some kind of award, honestly.

Here’s the thing. Customer service is never an especially thrilling or positive experience. Most of it is boredom, dealing with rude people, and trying hard not to let all the expletives you’re thinking come flying out of your mouth when confronted with jerks. Sure, we get nice customers sometimes, and in my current job (I’m a cobbler, of sorts), I take pride in the work I am doing. But, after five years in the same job, it’s well and truly time for me to move on and find some other hell to suffer in.

What is the tipping point, you may be wondering? Well, lately things seem to have gotten increasingly worse, and I am 100% blaming COVID-19. I live in Australia, and currently live in the only state where face masks are mandatory when leaving the house. Which means, for 8 hours a day, five days a week, I have to not only stand behind a counter dealing with all manner of rude people, but I also have to do it whilst wearing a face covering that limits my breathing, fogs my glasses, and generally just itches and irritates. The state of disaster declared in my home state means that people are confined to their homes, unable to go to school or work in a lot of cases, unable to leave their homes without a mask. It’s not a fun time for anyone right now. And I would be willing to bet money that this myriad of restrictions in place across the country is, in part, responsible for the attitudes of the people I have been serving lately.

I have had, in recent weeks, more horrible customer interactions than I have had in a long time. Almost as if every customer I have served has gotten together and said “hey, let’s go and be as horrible to the girl behind the counter as we possibly can, and see how long it takes to break her.” I don’t know if it is because I am serving less people as a result of the restrictions, and so I am more aware of the bad ones, or whether people are simply taking their own frustrations about the restrictions out on whoever happens to be in front of them. But regardless of the reason, my job has become increasingly unbearable of late, to the point where I have almost quit on the spot more than once. Usually I can brush it off, and then vent to my friends about it afterwards, but in this last week alone I have encountered some truly heinous individuals that have stuck

To those of you who work in customer service, I’m sure you can relate. To those of you who don’t, I beg of you; be nice to your customer service people. We work hard, and we put up with a lot of shit from people, often without the benefit of being able to bite back or defend ourselves. And I understand your frustrations about…well, everything in this strange time I suppose, but none of the things that you are frustrated about have anything to do with me. I am polite to everyone who approaches my counter (at least up until I can’t be anymore) and I would love it if people would offer me the same courtesy. I think a lot of people forget, particularly now that we have become anonymous and featureless behind our masks, that those of us behind the counter are still people. We are not lesser citizens, and we do not deserve the abuse or the sometimes violent attitudes of people who can’t handle their emotions.

Basically what I’m saying is that COVID sucks, customer service people deserve more respect, and, as always, don’t be a dick!

Body Modifications vs So Called Professionalism

I had a job interview on Monday. I was dressed neatly, I had relevant experience, and I was informed I had been given “glowing references”. The interview went quite well, and the man who conducted the interview seemed satisfied, if not impressed with me as a potential candidate for employment. I have to admit, I was feeling quietly confident. There was just one thing that apparently was holding me back.

“That piercing, does it come out?”
“Well…it can…”
“Well obviously if you are successful, you will have to remove it. We have a girl here with a nose piercing, but a lip ring is just…not the way we do things here.”

There it was. The one tiny, insignificant detail about me that would be the difference between me potentially getting a job, and being rejected. The piercing in question is a vertical labret; a small, unobtrusive little metal bar that goes through the centre of my bottom lip (though I had a clear bar in at the time). I have had this piercing for seven years, and it has never once affected my ability to do any of the number of jobs I have held during that time. Now of course, I could understand if the job were at a law firm, or a doctor’s surgery, or some kind of factory where there was an inherent risk of injury resulting from jewellery/piercings. However, the job I applied for was a retail position.

The thing I found almost as silly as the notion of having to remove my piercing in the first place, was the apparent distinction between a nose piercing and a lip piercing. They are both on the face, after all. Why is one piercing more or less offensive than another? Why should I be expected to remove a lip ring, when someone else is permitted a similar kind of jewellery in their nose? Needless to say, after a lot of thought and reflection, I opted to withdraw my application for the job. In the end, I realised that it just wasn’t for me.

Here’s the thing; it’s 2020. We are living in a time where it’s probably more unusual to not have any kind of body modification. So I find it really difficult to understand why there are people and businesses out there who still subscribe to this outdated idea of professionalism. In all my years of working in customer facing jobs, I have only ever had the odd question about a piercing or tattoo. But I have never received a complaint, or been told that someone finds it offensive. I mean, it’s not as if I had some obscene phrase tattooed across my forehead.

At the end of the day, any job that requires me to remove a piercing or cover my tattoos, is not a job that I want. I am wholly, unabashedly myself, body modifications and all. And I have no intention of stamping my personality out just to fit into someone else’s idea of what a retail employee should look like.

I Need a New Job

My life has turned into this endless search for alternative employment. I check the recruitment websites daily, I’ve applied for a number of jobs since the start of the year – and have subsequently received a number of rejections. I am desperately seeking a change, and at this point almost anything will do.

I’ve had a bad week. And it’s only Wednesday! My need for a new job is the most pressing issue in my life currently, and I’m hoping that something presents itself soon. I am trying to think positively about it, because I know that my time with my current employer is coming to an end. Recent events have made that even more clear, and so I know that the right job will come to me at the right time. Or at least, I have to believe that it will, because it’s the only thing I can focus on at the moment. And if things continue they way they are for much longer, I’m going to do something stupid and just quit on the spot. I’ve come extremely close to doing just that, particularly in the last couple of weeks.

At the crux of it, my problem is a lack of work/life balance. Six days of work and one day off is not enough, particularly if you’re like me, and cannot do nothing. I am endlessly filling every ounce of spare time I have with extraneous activities, and then I wonder why I am so exhausted all the time. It’s all a part of my restless nature, but I’m not helping my cause any. And the days I spend at work are dull, monotonous, and equally draining. I’m not expecting my dream job to just pop up out of nowhere, not least because I’m still not sure what my dream job would be. But if not that, I would at least settle for a job that doesn’t make me want to carve my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon.

So, because a little extra luck never hurt anyone, cross your fingers for me, friends. May a new job present itself soon, and may my life become something more than a long, endless grind.

Low Battery vs the World

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My mind is swirling with a series of unrelated, half formed thoughts. I have tried to begin this post six times, and deleted the paragraph each time. I am thinking about the weight of expectation, and the way people have a tendency to disappoint us, and how unfulfilled I feel, and I am thinking about the clothes I want to make, and the places I want to travel, and the things I wish I had done. My mind is a very busy place at the moment, which is probably a good thing, because my workplace is very much the opposite of busy. That’s where I am, right at this very moment. I am sitting on my bench at work, writing this post whilst all around me, people are milling about, living their lives, doing their thing, and paying me absolutely no mind.

Truth be told, I don’t mind being invisible sometimes. It means no one is in my face, demanding things of me. My time, my attention, my affection, my energy. I think we often spend so much of our time giving to other people, that we don’t leave enough for ourselves. Then again, perhaps this is only true of people who are of a similar disposition to me. I have friends who seem to have boundless energy and sunlight to give to people, but I guard my energy more closely. It’s draining to give to much of yourself to other people, and I think sometimes we feel obligated to give more than we can afford to lose, just so we don’t have to incur any disappointment. They expect so much, don’t they?

I am running on an ever draining battery. Customer service has that effect too. I spend all day dealing with others, helping them with the things that need fixing, offering smiles and conversation and losing a little more of myself with each passing interaction. The nineteen year old girl I am training also requires my time and attention, and I try my best to fill the role of both manager and trainer, but I have found my tolerance for the everyday routine is waning, and I find it harder and harder to maintain the facade. Every part of me is screaming for a break from all the people. I need a quite place alone, where I can think and get my head straight, and refuel and recharge. Bukowski said it best when he wrote “People empty me. I have to get away to refill.”

Small things bring me joy, amidst all this loss of energy and self. A text from a friend brings me a smile. I am making progress with two particular financial goals I have set for myself. I started writing again. These things are the things I cling to, when everything else seems less than satisfactory. I guess that’s what it’s all about, in the end. You just have to appreciate the small things.

Missing Creative. If Found, Return to Amy

I feel like I haven’t been creative enough this year. Actually, it’s more than just a feeling; it’s a fact. I’ve spent so much of the last six months working with very little break, and the five months before that my work was so limited that time was in abundance, but my financial situation couldn’t accommodate. Since the beginning of this year, I have only successfully completed two sewing projects, and there’s one that I gave up on entirely. In previous years, I have made close to one project a month but I guess this year is a bit of a write off.

When the year began, I decided I wanted to expand my creative outlets. I took up embroidery, and I’ve made two little hoops. I find the repetition of the stitching rather calming, and it’s a good, relaxing way to try and stay creative. And yet, it’s been 7 months since I last picked up my needle and thread. Seven. I would love to start again, but I’m currently in a position where I simply don’t have enough time to sit for hours and hand stitch.

Another thing I decided that I wanted to learn was the art of watercolour painting. This one was a little harder, because it was completely outside the realms of my skill set. But I persevered and I’ve made a handful of small little paintings that are getting increasingly better. It is this that I am the most proud of, because I have finally managed to step outside of my creative comfort zone and teach myself something new. I’m no Picasso, but with a combination of YouTube tutorials and figuring things out on my own, I’m getting better.

I’ve always thought that I wanted to live a creative life. When I picture my future, I know what I want it to look like, and being able to express myself artistically plays a big part in that. I am an imaginative and creative person at heart, and it’s one of the things I find completely contentment in. I think part of my problem this year, apart from having so little time, is having very little space. Due to a change in my circumstances last year, I had to move in back home. Whilst I am saving to buy my own house, for the time being it means living with my dad. Yup, I’m that person in their late twenties still living at home. You can forward all judgements to the bin, thanks. I like to to think it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, but that being so doesn’t make the house any bigger. And all my attempts to win the lottery have failed so far!

I’m searching for a new job, with no success. But I just know that I can’t stay in my current job very much longer, because it is draining my time, my life, my creativity and my will to live. I have to hold on to the hope that something better is coming. I mean, I’m even considering the possibility of changing cities once again, but this is a new idea and one that I have to invest a lot more thought and research into before I make any kind of decision. Either way, I know that my lack of creation is directly linked to my situation, and that I shouldn’t feel so bad about it. But I feel like an integral part of me is missing, and my passionate, imaginative heart is going to wither and die unless I can break free of this rut I find myself in.

Someone once said to me that if you really want to do something, you’ll make time to do it. If someone knows of a way to add a few extra hours into the day, without having to feel the exhaustion that will inevitably result, will you let me know?

Being is Hard

It is not an easy thing, to be alive. You’ve got to worry about breathing, and speaking, and managing the ins and outs of living every day. You have to deal with your emotions, and make sure you’re expressing the right ones at the right times. You have to find a job, and pay your bills, and remember to eat, and watch your weight, and try to carve out some semblance of a life within your existence. I mean, it’s an exhausting thing, being.

Maybe it’s just me. After 55 days without a proper day off (but who’s counting?), I think exhaustion is my new normal. My permanent state of being, I guess you might say. It’s hard to imagine a life where things aren’t complicated and just a little bit shit. But there is light at the end of the tunnel; I have a weekend off. I have plans already, because I don’t know how to have a day off without filling it with things, but the point is that there will be two consecutive days where I don’t have to go to work, or think about work, or deal with anything work related. As you can imagine, I am thrilled.

I’ve been having a bit of a bad time of it lately. Staving off impending blackness by throwing myself into my endless days of monotonous work which, paradoxically only add to the negative swirl of emotions circling me like ravenous vultures. It’s a vicious cycle, y’all. What I would really like is to win the lottery, move to Tasmania and sleep for a year, uninterrupted. It’s a record breaking lottery this week so you never know, maybe I’ll get lucky. Then again, knowing my luck – not to mention the statistical improbability of actually winning the lottery – I’ll probably win nothing.

Maybe I’ll feel better after I cry. Maybe all this exhaustion is getting to me, and my poor little broken heart will be able to start healing herself after I’ve let go of the negative energy I seem to have been unconsciously holding on to. Maybe being won’t seem so hard afterwards. Who knows, I might even start to feel normal again afterwards. I’ll let you know.

Overworked

So, I just worked 14 days straight, and before my last day off – which wasn’t a day off because I still had to go to work anyway – I worked 13 days straight, and I had to go into work today on my “day off” and at this rate it seems as though I’m not getting a proper actual day away from work in the foreseeable future. I am back working for the company I spent 3.5 years with before things like this (see above re working every single day ever) sent me into an exhaustion fuelled, very nearly suicidal depression, and I quit. So why did I return, you ask? Well, desperation mainly. Unfortunately I have yet to win the lottery and so I have to work for a living, and since I never had any luck finding work with anyone else after my job at the ambulance call centre fell through, returning to my old/current job was the last resort.

I have been forced to neglect the things I love, because I am either too tired, too exhausted, or I simply don’t have the time. I have only sewn three garments this year. Three. For the entire year. One of them was a costume for a play so I don’t know that it really counts. And I’ve had a partially completed dress hanging on my mannequin, untouched for over a month. I haven’t written so much as a creative sentence in weeks, blogging notwithstanding. My paintbrushes have been left to collect dust and I have about 15 shows I need to catch up on, and a stack of books I haven’t even looked at for months. Today, all I wanted to do was make a blueberry pie and I couldn’t even find time in my day to manage that. I am in equal measures frustrated and exhausted, and I really just want to sleep for a week.

I can see myself heading for a crash. Like the Titanic barreling headlong into that iceberg, my path towards destruction seems imminent at this point. I feel like I’m drowning in mud and the more I struggle, the more bogged down I get. If I seem grumpy, don’t be offended. I am just physically and mentally worn down and, regrettably, cannot stop the verbal manifestation of that exhaustion from spilling out of my mouth.

Cross your fingers for that winning lottery ticket, y’all. Because if something doesn’t change soon, I’m afraid I’m going to literally get worked to death. I am creative dude, and when we creative dudes can’t vent out the problems of the world artistically, things can get pretty tense. Like a ticking time bomb, I might explode at any minute.

“Does This Sound Stupid?” and Other Things Men Say About Engraving

My job is multifaceted, and there is quite a lot involved in what I do. One of the things that I do at my job is engraving by hand. I do everything from pet tags to birthday gifts, memorial plates to awards; basically if you give me anything metal or glass, I can engrave on it.

When it comes to engraving, women are – nine times out of ten – a hell of a lot more forthcoming with what they want to engrave. They buy a gift with the idea to engrave it already set in their minds, and more often than not, women are content to write down their sentiment without any shame or embarrassment. Alas, it is not always so with men. Today was a prime example of this very thing. A young man came to my counter with a heart shaped pendant, and wanted to get something engraved on the back. When I asked what he wanted to have engraved, he was suddenly struck dumb.

Ten minutes or so passed, whilst he deliberated, asked me what he should write (I dunno, man. She’s not my girlfriend), deliberated some more and finally settled on the phrase “I love you more than you love me.” Upon writing it down, he looked intently at the paper for a moment and then slid it across the counter and said, without meeting my eye, “Does this sound stupid?”

It’s something I encounter a lot, this strange kind of embarrassment from men when it comes to showing affection. It’s as though they’re ashamed to admit that they’re capable of any kind of sentimentality, or endearment. Oftentimes, they feel as though they need to justify their kind words for their significant others, and they do this in many ways. One of the most common things I hear is “you know how chicks love that kind of mushy crap” or some other variant. Another is “Yeah, I know it’s gay but there you go.”

I don’t know if it’s just because of some kind of societal expectation that men have to be gruff and uncaring that makes them get so awkward, or if perhaps they just genuinely are uncomfortable with showing affection. If it’s the latter, I can certainly relate; I’m probably the most emotionally awkward person I know! I almost feel like putting a sign up that says “Engrave what you want, we don’t judge” but I feel like that would just be drawing more attention to the discomfort, and these guys are clearly already weird about the whole thing enough as it is.

At any rate, I’ve engraved some sappy things, and some funny things, and some genuinely awful things. I really, truly don’t judge what people want to say to their friend/spouse/relative/significant other because at the end of the day, people show their affection in many different ways.