Saturday, October 25, 2003

I got my Blogger hoodie today.

Blogger, now dripping with cash due to the Google acquisition, showed appreciation to those of us who subscribed to Blogger Pro when it was a start-up. Now that the company is flush, Pro features are free, and Blogger wanted to thank us customers who kept them running with a gift of a hoodie with the Blogger logo on it. How cool is that? It's also nice to think that I was a part of supporting a revolution of sorts that is a growing important trend, and is changing the way that people get their news. The word "blog" is coming up more and more in news items and I've been interviewed or mentioned in a couple of articles on the subject already. Celebrities are catching on to us pioneers, and many of them have their own blogs now.

I had been blogging for a few months before as a way to deal with Rob's suicide, but fully recognized its impact when September 11th happened, scouring the Internet for news that wasn't filtered by the big conglomerates. I was living in Los Angeles, far away from the chaos, but felt the effects no less. Still in disbelief, and unable to tear myself away from trying to understand what happened, I discovered the true power of blogging. Personal blogs took me underneath the mainstream news and into the hearts and eyes of the regular person. Different perspectives, different views from their cameras, and stories unheard but no less heartwrenching. Blogs took me from Los Angeles into the streets of New York and Washington, DC, where people who were the little man, just like me, documented their experiences. It was blogs and the blogging network that truly helped me cope with September 11th.

So Blogger, congrats to you, and thanks for the cool hoodie. Yay Blogger!

On other fronts, it was trick or treat day at the mall where I work, and kids in costume came in throngs to get their candy. It was absolutely adorable, and Spiderman was our first trick or treater. There were some really great costumes, including a gregarious five or six year old kid who was dressed as Morpheus from "The Matrix." "Look," I said, "Mini-Morpheus!" That one got a laugh from employees and parents alike. A girl who looked to be about ten years old came in dressed as Jack Sparrow, from Pirates of the Caribbean, and boy was it a great costume. She not only looked like Johnny Depp, but had the whole outfit down, including shells in her hair and a painted on goatee. It was really great. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, simply because you see such creativity surface and the kids rule the day. And, a ten year old girl gets to be a swashbuckling pirate.

There has been a certain feeling of peace within me lately. I can't describe where it's coming from, but I feel like there will be some changes in the near future. Working on my Halloween costume has opened something within me that has relaxed me and once again sat me down in front of my talents where I can observe them closely. I had no intention to work this hard on it. However, it's become a work of art that I'm carefully crafting. I feel like after this Halloween passes, I'm going to be able to let go of a lot of things and have a clearer idea of steps I need to take. I think I'm almost done with this Barnes and Noble, not to mention Baltimore. I will probably be here another year, maybe a little longer, but not much more.

I'm ready to surface again, and those steps I'm going to take will lead me there. I'm planning on spending a year to resurface, to swim under the water and look up at the distorted view of the sky above. I used to do that when I was younger, I'd lay on the bottom of the deep end of the pool and look up at the sky, a kaleidoscope of blue, white, and grey sloshing above me. The world was silent and I was cradled by the gently rocking water. When I was about six years old I was swimming in a hotel pool and got saved by a lifeguard who thought I was drowning. I was face up, relaxing on the pool floor, when a large hand wrapped around my arm and pulled me with superhuman strength off the bottom. Certainly no older than highschool age, he pulled me to the surface and screamed into my face, "are you okay, little girl!?" My legs were wrapped around his waist and my arms around his neck, and when the shock wore off from being jolted out of my peaceful underwater refuge, I said, "yes, I was just playing underwater."

I can see how that must have looked to him. He had no idea that I was a really good swimmer with an incredible capacity to hold my breath. I know that's how it must look to those on the outside as well. Wondering why I'm not living up to my potential and why I'm working in the place that I am that can frustrate me so much at times. Many have tried to jerk me back upward for fear that I am drowning.

But really, I'm just enjoying the quiet view from below, interrupted by the occasional intrusion of someone's cannonball dive, and waiting for the right moment to surface.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Halloween is less than two weeks away, and I've been working away on my costume.

I'm not going to say what it is, one not to jinx my progress, and two, just in case I'm not able to pull it all together. The good part is, I've been wanting a project for some while, and Halloween always provides exactly that. The part I love about Halloween costuming, is the treasure hunt that it sends you on. And like elusive gold that was buried years ago, when you uncover what you are looking for the rush is intoxicating. Depending on your costume, that treasure can be anything, and the search sends you into the basements of the most eccentric vintage shops, walking among stuffed mongooses holding cobras in their mouths, coffins, young employees clad in black 60's style mod suits excitedly tinkering away at the turntable they just acquired from an estate, fine tuning the speed to match the RPM listed. Hearing the sounds of the Beatles Hard Day's Night warping from too slow to too fast, as if the notes and sounds were on a rubberband. All objects that were never supposed to sit next to each other, like samurai swords, modern Danish bowls, vinyl miniskirts, rosary beads, crosses, and opium pipes. Feather boas, ivory cigarette lighters, kimonos, Levi's jeans, wedding dresses, pill box hats, and switch blades with ivory handles.

Their origins, times and backgrounds as jumbled as the people we come across. Because of modern travel, our chances of crossing paths are increased but no less bizarre. And so here we all are, together. Along with the possessions we bring with us and eventually leave behind for whatever reason.

Along with the treasure hunt, I've enjoyed the hands on work. I had no idea what a large project it was, but it's certainly taken over my apartment and free time. Not out of task, but out of enjoyment. I don't even remember how I chose this subject as this year's costume, but now I'm in the middle of it. I look forward to working on it when I get home, and seeing what creation emerges from my hands. My mind works so much better when they are in use. Thoughts run more clearly, my intelligence surfaces much more frequently, and any cloaks of insecurity I wear are shed and left in a rumpled pile on the ground. I am Queen of the Costume, and though I've never attempted anything like this, I know exactly what I'm doing.

It also reminds me that I am doing exactly what I set out to do when I chose to come to Baltimore. As I wait out the sagging economy, I am exploring and testing skills that have sat in the corner of a dusty attic. Much like that employee who pateintly worked to bring the turntable back to its glory, I'm in the process of polishing those skills and testing out the moving parts. By doing this, I have enabled myself to think about career tracks that I once thought were beyond my reach, or for "other people." I'm not saying that I'll go down a particular road, but this process has certainly enlarged my thought space, giving me a little more room to move around.

Yesterday, I went into the store again to show my mom around. We went into the basement, and the turntable was operating flawlessly, playing music that filled the room with the warm, rich sounds from vinyl that only it could bring to life. Though facing a daunting task, the employee had not given up on that old dusty machine.

And nor will I when it comes to restoring my own treasures.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

I was one cranky girl tonight.

Perhaps it was the cloud of doom that blew in the cold weather today, or the pervasive stupidity of the corporate people at Barnes and Noble whose "on a whim" changes to the store affect my job. Perhaps it's because no one speaks up to these people, because they see a great divide between corporate and the store. And corporate is at fault as well, not listening to the suggestions from people who are on the front lines and yes, do know better.

The latest brain fart to come from the corporate side is to remove the stanchions from our line at the registers and replace them with merchandise tables. I was told that when this person was told that the people wouldn't line up correctly, that we were assured, "oh yes they will."

Well, no they fucking didn't. Sure, come in on a whim and change stuff because you think it's a good idea. Ignore the obvious stuff that needs changing, but please, fuck with our line. Then, bluster out in a gust of bags and hair, and as you drive back to your office, pat yourself on the back for your ingenuity and knowledge that were it not for you, the store just wouldn't survive. And certainly, don't listen to anyone's suggestions who works there on a daily basis, because we certainly have never witnessed our common-sense-challenged customers having enough trouble with our line as it is, butting in front of each other because they assume that the four people who are standing still behind the "please wait here" sign, holding merchandise and looking bored are just doing it because they are participating in a piece of performance art called, "Retail Hell."

Then, defend this move even though one in every three customers are certain to bitch and moan at whomever is unlucky enough to be on register, saying that we should "make it clearer," or "put a sign" because they are too much of an imbecile to figure out that just like in kindergarten, it's "single file, children." And that just like the teacher would, little Jimmy or little Jane, we'll send your fat ass to the back of the line no matter how you well contorted it to get through the two tables of merchandise to stand behind the person we're ringing up. No "cutsies," you troll-mannered, infantile, overgrown half-wit.

To put the intelligence of most of our clientele in perspective, these are people that come up to me and ask if they can pay with cash.

God, I miss the Calabassas store so much at times.

Actually, there are positive and negative things happening for me at the store. One, I've kind of relaxed about the place and just go in every day to do my job, then leave. The time goes by super fast, and I have plenty of breathing space afterward. Despite my entries here, I really don't take work home with me. This makes me both happy and nervous. Happy, because I've noticed that my artistic skills have a really strong voice now. Instead of being wilted and starved, they are robust and becoming more comfortable inside my skin every day. Not to mention, more confident.

The negative, is that there are a lot of weird politics happening there that I'd rather stay out of. However, because of the scale of them, it's made a weird working environment, and one can't help being affected by it. The store, once again on direction from those cerebral corporate types, is also cracking down on employee freedoms that are just common respect, and that makes for a more constricting work environment. In fact, some of the things that they've instituted are downright insulting. Yet, other egregious problems are ignored. In short, some people, male people, get away with murder while those of us who work hard are nitpicked, asked things like, "did you get that drink on the clock?" And where there aren't problems, they are stirred up and created, making trouble for mostly female people. I'm being vague, because I have to and because of the pending article from the Sun. Anyway, it's been hard to watch, and depressing that stuff like this still goes on. I also feel helpless to make a difference.

Also, some real goons have been hired recently. You know who you are.

Number two negative, is that I don't want to get too comfortable there, or shuck any other options because of the freedoms that working a non-corporate job has allowed me. I've developed a corporate-phobia, and the thought of working in a constrained environment like an office depresses me to no end. The people here are dull, dry, and depressing enough, and the thought of working with "office people" from this area is frightening. Even working at a cool job. It becomes very easy to disappear in places like that. And once you have disappeared on the outside, "the nothing" feeds on your insides, eating away all that carefully cultured, ripe artistic growth with a rapacious vigor.

Number three negative, is that some cool people are leaving the store. And along with their absence, that leaves openings for more goons.

So, I'm stuck between these positives and negatives. I just got another raise to $9.00 an hour, which isn't bad for a retail job. However, I miss having money. Not enough to sacrifice what I've worked to gain in its absence, but I miss it. I miss shopping regularly on Rodeo Drive and hobnobbing with the locals there. I miss the cute boys I hung out with at the coffee shop.

Somewhere, there has to be a happy medium.