Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Sickmas

Yay, I came down with a loverly cold just in time for Christmas! It is in fact the cold that the Grandmother just got over, so at least she's all sympathetic since she remembers the symptoms... the overwhelming fatigue being the the most dramatic. I also have diarrhea, nausea, and random aches. She had a lot of phlegm as well, which I've managed to avoid so far, with only a slight post-nasal drip and a trifling congestion in my chest and sinuses, easily cleared with a swig of Alka-Seltzer Cold.

Speaking of which, I am amazed that they've finally come out with a form of Alka-Seltzer that actually tastes good... I got the Orange Zest flavor, and it's quite delicious (also a very pretty color).

So anyway, there's all this work to do around the house, and I feel too crappy to do it, yet it needs to be done nonetheless. So I am going to have to push myself just a bit. I have to get the boxes back into the attic, for one, and dust the living room and dining room, then get to work on the dressing and yams, and the kitchen and bathroom need mopping. Oh, and I have to wrap all those presents I bought.

Well, I guess it could be worse. But I won't mention ways in which in could be worse, in case one of those nasty-minded Fates is listening in.

Have a Happy Holiday!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Ghosts of Christmas Presents

Well, after giving it some thought, I broke down and decided to buy Christmas presents for my family. I had intended not to, due to my straitened finances, but I did a little jotting on the notepad and figured I could spare $150 without dying, and if I kept the gifts under $10 I could manage. And you know, Ross is right around the corner from the job I've been working this week, and there were a few other places I could get nice prezzies cheap, so that's what I did.

Actually, I started at a place called Tuesday Morning, so named because that's when they get new shipments of discounted housewares, decorative items, and other sundries. I didn't see much that inspired me, but in the very last aisle I found this odd thing that appealed to me so strongly that I had to have it... it was a miniature pitcher and saucer, like for a washstand, Dresden-style, done in gold and cobalt and bright yellow. Gorgeous, and $5.99.

Well, I couldn't buy just one thing, so I scoured the shelves again and came across some things that would do for various of my relatives... windchimes, facial scrubber machines, crystal candy-dishes, golf-themed desk-sets, stuff like that.

And then yesterday I went to Ross and finished up. And I found so many good bargains (sweaters, kitchen-canisters, etc.) that I was able to stick a few gifts for myself (a video and a back-support belt) into the mix while staying within my budget.

Though it was immensely tiring (especially since I have to park three-quarters of a mile from work, which is in downtown Berkeley and therefore a parking nightmare, and walk back weighed down with presents in the freezing rain), I feel a lot better about Christmas now that I can weigh in with some material posessions come Christmas day.

Our family has this big rather barbaric ritual, where we pass out all the gifts and then we all open them all at once, shouting thanks across the room in a deafening pandemonium that usually lasts about half an hour. Then we eat pie.

But the point is, we all shop for each other, rather than drawing names like civilized folks, and we open our presents in front of everyone and can see who gave what to whom. So of course, if you give a gift, you want it to be nice enough to bear scrutiny.

We're not really competitive about it, but I am competitive, and would feel bad giving someone a crappy gift, even worse than I feel not giving a gift at all. But now I have gifts, and I won't feel guilty receiving gifts.

All is right with the world.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Labor Pain

Sometimes I just hate Christmas. Well, no, I don't hate Christmas, I just hate the hoop-de-do. What I wouldn't give to spend a nice quiet Christmas all alone, or with one other person, no tree, no ginormous family dinner, no presents, no stress. But that's not the life I drew... mine is a life of family, and my family has traditions, and those traditions are labor-intensive.

But what I really hate is how the Grandmother gets on my back about getting the house ready, as if I haven't been doing it (and rather well if I say so myself) every year for the last twenty-five years. And it's not like it's difficult: schlepping the boxes out of the attic, moving the living-room furniture around, decorating the tree, decorating the house, schlepping the boxes back into the attic, cleaning everything, setting the table, and baking yams and stuffing... what could be simpler? Time-consuming, certainly (I estimated approximately thirty hours of labor last year), and a lot of physical labor, but not complicated or anything.

I sort of wish I weren't working this week, that would make it a lot simpler. But my sister is hanging out at the house this week helping out, so all the cleaning bits will get done well and quickly (my sister is very good at cleaning other people's houses). The trick is to keep the Grandmother placated. At least her shopping is already done, and we decided to cheat on the pie-crusts and buy Pillsbury. All we have to do is keep her calm.

Well, gotta go... my uncle just brought the tree, I'd better go help put it in the base. Toodles!

Friday, December 1, 2006

My Feelings Got Hurt

So I got to the new jobsite, dressed all snazzy and every hair in place, and I loved it from the first minute. Beautiful office, fabulous view across the Bay, bleached pine woodwork and black leather upholstery (a favorite combination of mine), all the amenities.

The office wasn't as big as I'd been led to believe, and the duties of the admin-assistant not as heavy, and of course the dress-code was a lot more casual than I was dressed for (my agency is always doing that to me). But otherwise, it left nothing to be desired, except for the cute guys, of which there were none. In fact, there was only one other male in the entire office, definitely not cute, and he was in the field most of the day.

Anyway, I was being trained by the incumbent, who was moving to New York to take a job there. I didn't ask her why she was leaving, I didn't want to appear too nosey. And a number of people were out of the office, so I didn't meet everyone. I can't say that I was particularly bubbly or effusive, mostly because I'd been terrified by my agent all week about how pernickety they were and was afraid to put a foot wrong.

I spent most of the day working on a filing project, in which all the Accounts Payable paperwork is attached to the property-site files for which they were paid, first in order of site-number and then in order of check-number, which was pretty complicated; I found it a challenge and rather pleasant, better than plain old first-name-last-name filing that I'd been doing at my last filing job. And I was told that one only does this filing twice a month, when the AP goes out.

The day came to a close, and I'd done rather a load of work and was pretty tired, and headed back to my car and thought about going to the store on the way home. And while I was sitting there looking for a pen so I could call the Grandmother and get a shopping list, my temp agent called... a call I was expecting, since they always call to check on you after the first day of a new assignment.

But the news she gave me was a shock: the client didn't want me to come back. No reason, nothing I did or didn't do or did wrong, it was just a matter of my not being a "personality fit." Which is employerese for "We don't like you."

Not like me? How can anyone not like me? And how can they not like me after one day's acquaintance? And especially after I had gone through so much stress and preparation to make sure they'd like me? Granted, I wasn't a big ball of sunshine, nervous as I was about making a good first impression, but I was by no means offensive! What's not to like?

So there I sat with the rug pulled out from under me one more time (yes, try as I might to avoid it, I got my hopes up again), the disappointment surmounted by the bewildering knowledge that they just didn't like me.

They made me cry.

Well, I was driving, so I didn't let myself cry. But when I got home, I had a good old wail. I haven't cried like that (without watching a movie) for ages. It was kind of cathartic, but also kind of unpleasant. I mean, it's embarrassing to be reduced to tears by something so childish as hurt feelings.

And still, there's a pain in my chest, after a long night of poor sleep. My ego just can't take crap like this. Neither can my bank account... I was really counting on a long-term assignment, I really need a regular paycheck and I need it right now.

Besides, it's just so bewildering to not know exactly what they didn't like about me. I mean, if there had been some criticism, I could file it away under "well maybe they're right" and try to correct it or else under "they're morons" and dismiss it... but not knowing is truly upsetting me, there's nothing to do with the information but turn it over in my mind and cry over it.

Oh, well... as they say, whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Unless of course it weakens us so that the next thing that comes along does kill us. I think I'm going to take an extra Prozac this morning in the hopes that it will boost me out of this extra depression. I know I'm not supposed to take psych meds "as needed" but I've been forgetting to take them fairly frequently this last couple of weeks, so maybe that's why I'm getting so inordinately depressed... I've been thinking about suicide ever since I got home last night.

In the meantime, I think I will do some housework, keep my mind occupied for the day. I have some shelves I can put up in my room, and some laundry I can be doing. I shall endeavor to not let this day be a complete waste.