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.

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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.

In Which Roller Skates Are the Only Thing Getting Me Through

I’m feeling overwhelmed. This is my first official week back as a shop manager (of sorts) with no one above me to take the fall should things go wrong. This week alone I’ve already told a would be customer to blow me, because he was so rude. With a massive stock delivery, and work coming in faster than I can do it, this week has been hectic. We’re starting a new trainee in a couple of weeks, but I plan on winning the lottery before then anyway. My job has never made me particularly happy, but this week it’s making me ruddy miserable.

This high strung tension may have something to do with my impending period too. My boobs ache like they’ve just been beaten with a mallet, and I’m all heavy and feeling somewhat lacklustre. Add to this the fact that I will be working 6 days a week every week until the end of time (or a new job) and it’s pretty much a recipe for a breakdown.

On an emotional, not work related topic, I’ve been feeling lately like I seem to be putting a lot of time and effort into things, only to yield very mediocre results – if any at all. This is true for creative endeavours, relationships, and adult stuff alike. I’m floundering a little at the moment, and I’m searching for some kind of answer to any of life’s big questions that plague me from time to time. I’m struggling to find the positive side in many situations which, whilst not altogether uncommon, is particularly frustrating right now because I’m actually trying for a change. I’m trying to believe that something good is coming soon, or that I’m on this particular path for a reason, but truly I’m mostly just exhausted, and more than a little fed up.

There is one shining light amidst all this bleakness, however. I ordered some roller skates last week and, despite a couple of speed humps (see what I did there?) in finalising the order, they should hopefully soon be on their way to me! I am incredibly excited for a myriad of reasons, not least because I cannot wait to skate around town like some kind of glorious 70’s goddess. I just need to find a gold, glittery helmet and I’ll be ready to go! It might not seem like much, but at the moment it’s the best thing I’ve got to cling to, and so cling to it I shall.

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be…

When I was little, I wanted to be a doctor (read, surgeon). Not because I wanted to help people, but because I wanted to see what they looked like inside. You could say I was a bit of a morbid child, but don’t panic; I didn’t turn into a serial killer. I was just curious about the way things worked. It was probably that curiosity that drove my brain subconsciously toward the fascination with the death care industry, and my desire to become a mortician.

When I got a little older, I decided that being a doctor wasn’t for me. I thought maybe I would like to be an archaeologist instead, because I was fascinated by history, and how things got to be where they ended up, and the stories that could be told by bones and all manner of things one finds in the ground. Plus, I had a huge crush on Indiana Jones, duh. Soon, that dream too fell by the wayside, as I was struck by the revelation that there was so much study involved, and school was gross.

Of course, I’ve thought of doing many things over the years. Amongst many others, I considered being a teacher, a stewardess, a vet, a vampire slayer and, like almost every child in the world at some point (I’m sure), a rock star. None of these career goals lasted very long, and when I reached the age where I could actually go out and find I job, I went into the most easy and accessible field available; retail.

Now, at 26, I’m still working in retail, and still no closer to deciding what it is I want to do. I mean, yes, my ultimate goal is still to be a mortician. But as with anything, getting a job in a particular field is not as easy as simply having an interest and a desire to work within that field. I’m working on it, nevertheless, but in the meantime I need to find something that doesn’t make me want to shoot myself in the face every morning.

The one thing that has stuck with me all these years, is writing. I’ve always had a dream that maybe one day, I’ll write books for a living. This romantic notion comes complete with not having to wear pants, getting to work from home, being fabulous and reclusive, whilst also being friends with the likes of Neil Gaiman, J.K Rowling, and Gillian Flynn. And did I mention not having to wear pants? I lose motivation a lot, and I have writing lulls, and I doubt myself every time I put pen to paper. But one day, maybe.

For the moment, I have to content myself with the fact that I at least have a job, and a means to make money. I could certainly be a lot worse off, and I’m about to return to full time in the coming weeks, so I can at least go back to saving for a house sometime in the future. A job is better than no job, as they say. And unless I’m headed for some kind of untimely demise at any point soon, I’m sure I have plenty of time to follow my career dreams.

Why Doing What You Love is Never as Simple as it Sounds

“Just do what you love.”

I get this advice a lot. Being underemployed means I spend a lot of my time searching the internet for full time work. I’ve applied for a tonne in the last couple of months, had one interview for a job (which I was told yesterday I did get), a handful of rejection emails and a whole lot of silence. I’ve applied for anything and everything that doesn’t require a formal qualification (there are a lot of jobs for health professionals, accountants and lawyers in my area currently). And all people keep telling me is “just do what you love”, as if that in itself is easy.

Firstly, the things I love to do are hardly marketable. Sure, I enjoy writing and sewing, but the brutal truth is that I am not good enough at either of those things to make a living from them. And secondly, I don’t know what I’m really passionate about, enough to want to do it for a job. I’ve long since resigned myself to the fact that I will never have a job I love, but at this point I’d settle for a job that pays enough to survive on.

Some people love their jobs. I have friends that studied and are now working their dream jobs. J know people who got a job that turned out to be exactly what they wanted. And some people are just plain positive all the time, and would be happy working any job at all. Me, I would love to own a book shop. I would love to be a musician, playing in small venues to chill crowds all singing along. I would love to write books, or be a travel writer, or just get paid to travel. I would love to review films for a living, or hell, even star in films. And I’ve always kind of wanted to be a mortician. There’s a lot I would love to do, and a lot of reasons why I never could.

I know I’ve said this before, but I envy those who know what they want. And envy even more those who know what they want, and love it. I wish I loved my job, but the reality is that going to work makes me miserable. And since doing what I love isn’t going to make me enough money to live on, at least any point in the near future, I have to settle for any job that will actually employ me. So wish me luck, guys. And I hope the employment gods are listening, because a particular little misanthrope down here is starting to get desperate.

Common Things I Hear as a Shoe Repairer

I’m currently back working as a shoe repairer. Also a watch repairer, and a qualified engraver. And since I’ve been back, I’ve begun to hear again, all the things customers tend to say when they approach my counter. Some irritating, some funny, and some that leave me speechless for one reason or another.

“Do you repair shoes here?”
No, that wall of shoes behind me, and the giant sign out front advertising that we do, in fact, repair shoes, is all just there to trick you. This question always gets me, because its akin to walking into a coffee shop, and asking the barista if they serve coffee.

“Are you going to do a good job?”
Firstly, yes. Secondly, I’m very good at my job, and I take pride in my work, so to reiterate my first point…yes. This is one of the more regular questions I get. For some reason, when handing shoes over, people get paranoid that their items will come back in a worse shape than when they dropped them in. But the whole point of my job is literally to do the exact opposite; I’m a repairer, not a destroyer.

“But I only need one heel.”
This question often arises because people think it will be cheaper to only replace one of a pair. Whilst often one heel is actually more worn than the other, I have to repair them by the pair to make sure they’re an even height.

“Can’t you fit my shoes in? (I’m only here for the day)”
Sure. If you wanna call the ten people who brought in shoes ahead of you, and explain to each of them why you deserve preferential treatment, I will happily do your huge, time consuming job today. My biggest frustration with this question, is the sense of entitlement some people have. I don’t mind fitting in smaller jobs here and there, in between doing other shoes (while I wait for the glue to heat for example), but so often people come up, and as a result of their own poor time management, can’t wait around. They then get mad at me, because I genuinely don’t have time to do the work they require in the timeframes they demand.

“You’re a girl”
Yes. Yes I am. I generally get this from middle aged men, who still live in a time when women were deemed incapable of doing anything. I had a customer the other day who I assume meant to say this very thing, but fumbled his words and instead, ended up asking me if I was a girl.

“Do you actually work here?”
Yup. Hence the uniform. And…y’know, the whole standing behind the counter thing. This is a combination of asking if I repair shoes, and commenting that I’m a girl. Implied in the question is that I can’t possibly be employed as a repairer, and that I must simply be here to serve customers.

But don’t you need a man to supervise you?”
Well, now that you mention it…no. I have nearly three years experience, and managed various stores in the city, so I’m fully qualified and perfectly capable. Further examples of people not acknowledging my skill, on the basis that I don’t have a penis.

“Did it take a lot of training?”
People are always fascinated by how one gets into a job like mine, and because of the skills involved, are equally curious about the training it took to get to where I am. With the company I work for, it was mostly on the job stuff, with an assessment at three and twelve months respectively.

“That’s very expensive. Can’t you make it cheaper?”
This, I imagine, is common of many retail stores. Most of what we do has set pricing, standard across all stores. It takes into account time required, materials, and skills involved. There are always special circumstances and exceptions, but it’s not a regular occurrence.

But that’s not what the other girl said”
I’m sorry to tell you, but I am the other (and only) girl. And FYI there is no way I would ever say that the $80 repair job you have can be done for $15. This is another one particularly common in retail. Customers assume that a) you don’t communicate with your work mates and b) that you’ll take them on face value. In some cases, I concede that one customer may be given conflicting information by two staff members, but more often than not in my experience, it’s just a case of the customers thinking were dumb. We’re not dumb.

Do you know where the toilets are?”
This one comes up a lot, because I work in an open kiosk, in a busy shopping centre, and I guess I’m an easy point of access for questions unrelated to my job. Though sometimes, I can’t help but have a little chuckle to myself when they ask where the supermarket is, because my shop is literally right out the front of the supermarket.

I could honestly write a book about all the strange things I hear at my job. But for now, I’ll leave you with just a blog post!