Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

All I Wanted to Do Was Go See "Iron Man": Portrait of Sucky Holiday Weekend

I don't care, in any way shape or form about this goddamned Indy hype. Harrison Ford is older than my dad and seeing him swashbuckle in role over 20 years old is not my idea of a good time. ( Shia La Beof is another story, but along with my lust for this guy, I just end up feeling old and lecherous in said lust. I could be their MOMS. That's totally weird, I'm sorry....). I STILL haven't seen "Iron Man" with the most beloved and talented RDJr, and that's what I wanted to do this weekend. I wanted to shop for some summer sale clothes and eat Chinese food and see a really interesting performance illuminate a totally Hollywood Moneyraking Blockbuster. That's what I wanted to do.

What did I end up doing instead? I worked. Like a dog. I had, somehow, forgotten it was a holiday weekend. When I figured that out, I nixed the movie idea ( maybe tomorrow when all those annoying kids are back in school). Then I discovered what working in retail on a holiday weekend in Burbank was really like.

In leiu of regaling you with endless stories of what I, at about 2:30pm ( in an 8:30-5 shift) decided might be a critical mass level of demanding stupidity, annoyance and entitlement ( I hid in the Community Relations Office for a good 1/2 hour -- literally HID from the floor. Luckily my fellow employees totally sympathized and didn't rat me out. I've discovered this hiding thing is not an uncommon practice.) , I'll just quote something suitable.

Every night I come home and watch "Designing Women". I love that show, I've seen every episode several times over. I love the characters, I love the writing, I love that it's feminist and political without being too preachy; I love that it's hilarious and wacky without being lowest-common denominator. Mostof all, I have always related to Julia Sugarbaker, played by the incomparable Dixie Carter with a mix of brassy, ballsy intelligence combined with grace, elegance and wit. She gets the best rants on the show, and when she's not ranting, she's got the best tender strength and compassion in her character. I always think that along with old Hollywood actresses like Bette Davis and Myrna Loy, she's what I'd like to be in real life: mouthy and erudite and yet able to be kind in all the right places.

I try. But I fail often. Still, it's not a bad aspiration.

Anyway, on a recent episode I viewed, Julia had discovered her home was built on top of some historic land, and was therefore eligible to be included in the Register of Historic Homes (the show is set in Atlanta, Georgia, in case you've been living under a rock and have never seen it). Of course, there's a board, and some real social climber types on it, and it's decided that Julia's home will be inlcuded on that year's Tour of Historic Homes. Complete with stupid overwrought period costumes and embellished stories about the place to keep tourists hooked.

Well, as could be expected, this hype-infused trip through Southern history and having the Great Unwashed traipsing through her home finally pushes Julia over the edge. When some rude tourist comments that "This house isn't as large or exciting as the others" and the Junior League type tour guide starts making up less-than flattering-but-titillating stories about the ancestry of it, Julia loses her shit. She says:

Alright!! That's it..... I've had all I'm gonna take of you. You don't care about history, you just want to sell it. You don't even sell it honestly. You just want to sell the myth.........the myth of the Old South. You all know that myth, don't ya? Happy darkies singing in the field while Miss Scarlet primps around throwing hissy fits. Well that's an insult. It isn't the South. It's an insult to all the people who lived and died here not so very long ago. We Southerners have had to endure many things. But one thing we Southerners don't have to endure is a bunch of bored housewives turning historical homes into theme parks, not to mention ill-mannered tourists with their Big Gulps, Mysties, Slurpees, and Frosties, their dirty feet overflowing rubber thongs, and babies who sneeze fudgecicle juice! Out!! Out of my house!! As God is my witness..........I will burn it down myself before I let you in again!!

(Even though it doesn't really translate to my situation, I had to leave in that bit about "happy darkies" et al. It's too irreverent and hilarious. BUT:

I do feel that alot of what passes for "reading material" in our store is really just someone's idea of Being Deep. Another employee and I were discussing the idea that just Reading Books to some people makes them Literary, and that's a fucking myth. If all you're reading is Nora Roberts and Tom Clancy, evaluate you life, people. I'm all for a good trashy novel-- you're talking to the Queen of Teen Lit, here; I read it all the time for sheer escape. But no one cares about Books anymore. They're quite happy to put their coffee cup on it or let their kid chew on the page and leave it behind, and ASIDE FROM ALL OF THIS, apparently common decency and manners have gone out the window. I just kept thinking of her "babies who sneeze fudgesicle juice" commentary all day long. By then I had had ENOUGH. In a highly similar way. At least I didn't have to wear a hoop skirt.)

Around 3:30 I discovered that for working on a holiday I was being paid time and a half. Unfortunately, it was about 6 and half hours too late to inform me of that perk, because I had had enough. I had no decorum or friendlieness left in my system and I'm pretty sure I'll get chewed when I go back to work.

Maybe I'll get some time to eat popcorn in the dark ALONE for 2hrs this week and escape from the insanity. One can only hope. Otherwise I'm going to have a rant myself pretty soon, one not so nicely scripted.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Big Bookseller Update:

Every woman who's heard my "just because I have ovaries" story at work has been giving me the high-five all week. In addition, even though my scheduling manager Mal made the argument that "studies show that mothers are x% times less likely to approach a male bookseller", he's not scheduled me ONCE back in Kids since I made the stink. As a matter of fact, he scheduled one of the GUYS back there when I was fully available. ( Said guy was unthrilled. Yeah, watch me weep. Welcome to my world, man.)

He's also been informing every woman that GETS assigned back there that we ARE hiring someone to specifically work Kids from now on who specifically requested it, and specifically, to relax.

Not that he's covering his ass. No. Not that I could sue. No. No. Of course not.

I wouldn't, but TEE HEE and HA HA. Suck on it!!! Woo!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I want your opinion. I really do.


I am SO pissed. Pissed enough to complain to TWO managers this evening, because yet again, I was stuck in the Hell That is the Kids Section. Why?

Because I'm a girl.

Yes, you read right.

See, whenever I close, and there isn't another female on the floor, I get stuck in Kids. Mind you, there's usually THREE other males who are non-threatening and friendly enough to be back there, but no, I get assigned there. This after TELLING my scheduling manager REPEATEDLY how much I loathe it.

I mean, NO ONE likes working back there, except for 2 of the girls, and they mostly work during the day. But we all do our time, because it's one of those things you do because you can't get what you want ALL the time, right? Right. (That's my attitude, anyway, unless I'm sick or have PMS cramps or something, whereupon I become a huge slacker/whiner. And I feel justified, I might add, in doing so, because I showed up, dammit!) When I complained to my scheduling mgr., I just said, "Listen, I know you do what you have to do, and I'm going to do what's asked of me, but I REALLY hate it back there. I'm just saying." And I left it at that, figuring that a.) he might take it to heart that with so many other employees capable of filling the post, that it's best to put someone there who at least tolerates it better or even appreciates it from time to time versus someone who said what I did, and b.) I didn't want to be seen as not wanting to help, or like I would bitch and moan each time I was asked to do something hard.

Untill tonight.

For the last week I've been in Kids EVERY NIGHT I've closed. Meanwhile, there are anywhere from 2-3 men on the floor in the main bookstore each time. They're NEVER asked to go back there. NEVER. Not that I've seen. They don't even cover it if I'm on a break ( to be fair, it's in a seperate section of the store, so they really couldn't even if they made the effort, unless it was policy) so the kids are back there, wreaking havoc til I return.

So tonight I went to the two managers on duty--both female-- and I said, "I'm going to say this, and I'm going to say it clearly: this is unfair and sexist. Every time you don't have some other girl on the schedule, I'm sent to cover Kids. I am willing to do what my job requires, and we all have to do what we don't like doing, am I right? And part of that, no matter what, means occasionally covering Kids, which as we well know is not a popular spot. I personally HATE Kids. I've expressed that repeatedly. And I wouldn't say anything else otherwise, but as this is a repeating trend with me, and you NEVER have a male back there EVER, even when there are plenty of people avaliable on the schedule to take up their fair share of Served Time, I feel the need to speak up. That's wrong, and I'm offended and pissed. I do not like it assumed that just because I have a set of ovaries I am going to be any better at it -- or come around to liking it more--than anyone else. "

To which they both responded, "That's not true. Brent ( this guy who's on duty maybe three times a month!) has covered it. " When I didn't find that sufficient, one of the managers said, "We get this complaint all the time." ( To which I responded, "Well, it's notable, then.") The other manager said I needed to talk to Mal ( who happens to be the scheduling manager-- and I told her what he told me, which was, "Some parents aren't comfortable with that." She replied, "That's bullshit.") -- and then informed me they were in the process of hiring a person who would cover Kids exclusively in the evenings because this person requested to be put there. That better be true....

And if it is true, whaddya bet she's female? I agree that while it looks odd that a man would come in looking for a job at a bookstore solely in the Kids section, why is it assumed okay that a woman would? Women are never sexual predators? Men are less capable of play and figuring out where things are? WHAT?

And just to clear up the obvious question, just in case there is a valid gender bias here ( are child predators more often male? Perhaps so-- I'd have to look that up, but even if I did, would it matter? That's the image given in the media, and parents are probably more apt to suspect it thusly, I'd wager) : Are the parents with their children? Yes, I would say that 85% of the time the parent is physically present-- physically being the operative word. They often go to a bench and read a magazine and let their kid run rampant. Or let an older sibling "watch" the kid, or have them with a peer group, mean age being around 10 ( 10%). About only 5% of the time the kid is just unattended. Which begs another question: if you're really not paying attention, what difference does it make if there's a male or a female ( predator or not) there? If I were to throw another pecentage out- that being about 50-60% - and say that THAT is the percentage of parents actually involved with their kid while they're in the section or are aware of where they are ( I can honestly say I've had parents come up to me saying "I'm looking for my son/daughter" or yell their name out at the front of the section ), would that make a difference in your opinion? I know that's awful, to ask such questions, and child predators are no joke. I don'tmean it as such. But if we're going on certain cultural biases and parents' comfort levels here, they need to be pondered. Thoroughly, I'd say.

And yes, just in case I sound like either an unlikable mean-old cat-lady type, or a "she just doesn't know their charms because she doesn't have any kids" bachelorette, I like children, and I love some of them to bits ( for the record, they usually like, if not love, me, too. )

But with ALL children, regardless of my relationship with them, I want their parents to properly watch them and make sure they're behaving ( I find few behaviors can be solely attributed to the child; parenting is really the lynchpin beyond temperment, age, etc. in a normal child). I know I can't expect perfection-- and I know I've complained about it a tad unrealistically when I've worked in retail before. I've learned since then from my many, many friends with kids that a.) sometimes, there's just invisible Brat Juice in the air when you hit the store and normal kids turn into squalling snots incapable of being behaved, even with the most attentive parent, and b.) that people in CA just DON'T really think that disciplining their kids is very important, it's more important that they "express themselves" and/or the cultural melting pot that is LA is full of different culture-dependent parenting styles ( this from careful observation and comparison with friends who are raising kids here and friends who are raising kids who don't.).
So I don't expect perfection.... I really don't. I've learned to tone my expectations way down. But I've literally chased after kids yanking books off the shelves untill I can stand it no more, and then finally said to the parent, "I'm sorry. I can't have her/him do that." And in situations where apparently, bedtimes are not enforced on the weekends? I understand stretching it a little, but I literally have had to chase a parent/kid combo out of the section after my MOD ( manager-on-duty) had given the "Thanks for shopping Big Bookseller. We are now closed" Last Call at 11pm.

Tonight, it was so busy, and so ridiculous, that I lost it on a child: she was maybe 4, and with her sister, who was 11 at best. The sister was taunting her with a book she wanted, a replica of one she was looking at--one that she had picked up at the front of the store and was entirely full of little tabs to rip out, as it was a flip book of presidents' faces-- and the 4 year old was screaming bloody murder ( can't neccessarily blame her for screaming; nor the 11 yr old for expressing her irritation at watching her little sister unattended in that way) . I went over to the two, and above the din, loudly said, ( a little too urgently and harshly) "Hold it! Hold it! Hold it! Calm down!!" They both looked at me immediately and shut up. I then ( more calmly) said, "Stop. And please be mindful not to rip out the pages."

After that I called my MOD ( Ms. "We Get That All The Time") on her employee phone and said, "I need 5 minutes. I am going to snap. I just got harsh with a kid and that's not cool." ( She was unthrilled, I think, but I took exactly 5 and went to the back and breathed, and was okay.) I mean, I MEANT what I said the first 4 times I said it: I don't like working back there! I don't like it for a reason! One of them is because I'm not entirely complicit with situations where there isn't a parent around doing what they should/being a babysitter for 7 hours ( not the job I signed on for, and not a job required in any other part of the store) and another is because I get overstimulated by that kind of chaos ( of screaming and such, not retail itself). Add the two are TOGETHER like that? I will certainly lose it, as I did. And yet, because I'm a woman, I'm more prepared for this??

So you tell me: is it really a huge deal that a woman only work in this section? Would you yourself feel uncomfortable with a male in that section, as long as he was friendly, helpful and very clearly just going about his job, shelving things? I really want to know, so if you have an opinion, and want to email me about it, don't hold back because I obviously have a pre-formed bias. I'm asking because maybe I'm missing something here.

Ugh. I close tomorrow. If I'm in Kids then, I don't know what I'm going to say. I'm probably going to insist on some scheduled times where I'm allowed to leave my isolated post and work up front with the Big People just so I can ensure a repeat doesn't ensue. Miss "We Get That All The Time" is working with me, I think; if not, you can bet that Mal or someone else will have heard ALL about it. That's fine- it's her job to say something, just like it's Miss "That's Bullshit"'s job to say something as well. I just hope I don't get in trouble.

ARGh. **&#!!&!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Note to self: Taking Omega-3 fatty acid capsules is good. Biting down on them ( when they're made of fish oil) is not. Blech, x 1000.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Finally, an entry that isn't punditry, unless you consider it punditry of my own life, in which case.....I don't know if that's really something that's possible....?

So I thought I'd write this entry yesterday, and I didnt. That's because Jack and I got into a massive row,( and for some reason, anyway, I was crying-at-commercials level of hormonal, which doesn't make sense since my period is all but over. ). The Reader's Digest version is that he, for some wacko reason I have yet to determine, doesn't express his feelings well and is not very romantic, so I end up feeling like a Friend With Benefits, which is NOT what I signed on for. I don't wanna marry the guy, so I'm not looking for moon-in-the-sky-and-you romance, but a "you look pretty" and "I like you" every once in awhile wouldn't hurt. The less I get it, the more disappointed I am, and the more disappointed I am, the further he pulls away into Safe Zone. (We were at least able to establish that.). And thus the cycle continues.

He does indeed like me, wants to be with me, ( and, for the record, ISN'T in this as a FWB deal), but doesn't understand what I mean by "Jack, I feel like you forget I'm girl sometimes" and "If you're thinking it, figure out a way to express it". We both are very different in this way, and nobody's bad here, but it makes me unhappy, and as he says, "I don't want to make you unhappy. I care about you, but I don't know how to fix it. " ( My answer: "Why don't you take what you would like done to you and give me some of that?"). I think we are both feeling that if it's this much of a struggle at this point, it might be better off left. KWIM???

So that was sad, and I knew he felt like crap, and I then felt like crap for making him feel like crap. I didn't know what was going to happen, but personally, after THAT fun conversation I felt like this thing had a shelf-life of about two weeks left in it if nothing changed. I knew we'd try to remain friends-- we do like each other too much for that to not be an option, and there's no hard feelings here-- it was just....UGH.

Sigh*....well, it doesn't matter now, because we split up. It wasn't ugly at all, and he was very sad, and I was very sad. It was just....sad.

Nobody's the bad guy, like I said. I knew it probably wasn't going to end up in a *forever* match, as I do love him, care about him, and have great affection for him, but I'm not IN LOVE with him. The longer I was with him, the more attached I became and loved him more, but it would have just been harder down the line to leave that, and although I was sorta trying to see how things were going to develop, see if MORE would have come into play later..... but well, we were already sort of not jiving for some reason. It wasn't tragic and awful, it just clearly wasn't working in a way that made us both feel like things were working right. We got along great, we enjoyed each other's company, and so on; as he said to me tonight, "You're so smart and beautiful -- and I wish I could have said it more-- and funny and , and I really really like you, and....I care so much about you and -you sell yourself short!-- you're so great and special. A good person, trying hard to be good, and....that isn't it, you know that....."........what was it, was that, it just, well.....wasn't synching up.

It's okay, I guess. I'm really sad. I miss him. We're going to remain friends and be in touch when a sufficient amount of time passes, and that will be nice.

Another *sigh*.

It kind of sucks, being almost 40 and knowing I want to settle down and have a family, and get married and all that, meet my partner, and being ready for being serious, and meeting great men, but then discovering they aren't really candidates for that. I really hope John Cusack isn't secretly gay and finds me soon.

Beyond that, I'm totally preoccupied with bills and money, and shit, and that isn't very interesting to write about.

I'm so broke it's not funny. I'm so tired of looking at the calendar for all my deadlines on bills and just laughing because there isn't any money. And I'm exhausted, my feet hurt, and all for $8 an hour. I do LIKE my job, and my coworkers, for once, some people in CA are smart enough and bitter enough to be as sarcastic as me, instead of painting it up like a smiley face and saying "NOW, don't be negative!! No negative energy!!" like every other goddamned idiot who lives in this state does.

At least there's that; the management KNOWS we're understaffed, is quite angry with upper management about it, but doesn't hold employees to ridiculous standards that clearly can't be met. ( They're also quite funny and sarcastic and smart. It doesn't make up for the lack of pay, but it makes my days amusing, at least). For example, my boss Mal, and I, had this exchange:

Me: MAL! I've been here 6 hours running around like a chicken with my head cut off and the same stack of books is still here waiting to be put away that was here at 9am! I feel like I've gotten nothing accomplished!
Mal: Welcome to Big Bookseller Burbank! We're so busy with customers, there's no time to do everything we're supposed to do with so little staff on the floor.
Me: It's insane. I can't even tell you what I've been doing. I mean....????
Mal: I feel like that every day- like I'm just spinning my wheels, and then I go home and collapse. But you know what I figured out?
Me: What?
Mal: It's just like the post office. Mail keeps coming in. Nothing you can do to stop it. Just go with it.

Probably a good philosophy. He's been doing this for a long time, so I take his word for it.

And other than a growing preoccupation with finding comfortable-- but not horribly hideous-- shoes, I officially hate Oprah and whatever Nu Spirituality phase she's in. Because every time she's on tv with whatever latest hack neo-woo-woo book she thinks is the shit, we get 900 people in there wanting to buy it, and they drive me and everyone else to the edge of reason if we for some reason do not have it in stock AT THAT VERY MOMENT. What, you couldn't get any closer to enlightenment with your bad-assed self any day before this very afternoon at 4pm?
Listen, I'm all for people adding more spirituality into their lives. God knows we need it ( HA! Get it? "God knows....." okay. I'm stretching, I know it.), but this pap she's pushing is stuff that's been packaged and resold and bought a million times over. As one of our cashiers said recently, "Eckhart Tolle can blow me". Amen, sister. Now there's this new book that, by assessing from the publisher's summary, looks to be in the Mitch Ablom/ Tuesdays With Morrie/Life-Was-Better-When-We-Were-In-Kindergarten genre called The Last Lecture. No, I'm not even going to link it here, because I'm that annoyed. I haven't even read the fucking book, and no, I'm not ashamed in judging it by its cover. For the record, I'm not wasting time to read it, either ( and neither are any of my coworkers) because I just don't give a rats ass, and I can pretty much guarantee it's going to suck away however many hours it takes to plod through it that I will never get back.

And yet it flies out the doors, so fast we can hardly keep it in stock. I put out 20 copies on Wed. I'll bet when I arrive for work tomorrow, they'll be history. Madness, I tell you. Madness.

*Sigh*. So that's the news that's the news. Breakup, no money. Yee haw.