Okay, I'm alive, but just barely. A brief overview. Thanksgiving was great. We started at my parents' and then went to Kevin's grandparents'. Very nice to see everyone. Friday was not as hectic in the store as I thought it would be. Our store has two stories, and the second level is just like the first except smaller and usually less crowded. We use it for parties and for overflow on holidays or really busy days. I was upstairs all day Friday so I think I missed the brunt of the crowd. Friday night we went to La Fondue, a wonderous restaurant in San Juan Capistrano. We actually discovered La Fondue in the Bay Area where it was one of our favorites. "Favorites" being the "I can only eat there once a year because it's so incredibly decadent you'll have to cart me out on a gurney if I ate there more often" type of thing. When we were heading up there one time, Kevin checked out the website to find, much to our surprise, a branch right here in South Orange County! So off we went for our anniversary. As we walked in, the hostess (who turned out to be the owner) asked if we'd been there before. We said we hadn't, but we'd been to the one in Saratoga, and she told us that she and her husband had also lived in the Bay Area and loved La Fondue there, and had contacted the owners there to collaborate and build a branch down here. How lucky for us! As we sat down, I overheard the server ask the couple at the table near us if they'd been there before, and they said, "No, but we've been to the one in Saratoga..."
Saturday it was back to work and whoa Nelly, there were the crowds. I was downstairs on Saturday and let's just say there were a lot of people. A lot. Like...a lot. Some chicken-scratch calcuations estimated that as a stuffer, I saw an average of 4 people for an average of 5 minutes over the course of a full day's shift, that I alone interacted with probably somewhere around 350 people. And I was one of 5 stuffers. I didn't stuff the entire shift, but I would say that was probably an extremely rough estimate of how many people went through the stuffing process (some just came to buy clothes). Did I mention that a holiday weekend is not the best time to come visit me at the store? It was a long, hard shift and I was exhausted when I got home. Sunday I took a long nap after church and due to a schedule change I didn't really know about (I could have looked, but it didn't occur to me to do so, since I already had a schedule, that apparently turned out to be changed after I got it) I showed up 2 hours early. So I went home for another hour. The unfortunate thing about working at any Disney property is that parking and getting to your place of work is a major ordeal. So even though we live a literal 2 miles away, it takes me a full half hour from door to door. Anyway, Sunday night I ended up closing the store, which is unfortunate because we close at 10:00 (sometimes at 11:00 and every once in a while, Midnight) and while we close the doors at 10:00, I don't usually get home until around Midnight or later (once I closed at 11 and didn't get home until 1:30am).
And then here's the thing. Most of the employees are in the 16 to college age range, which as we all know, I am not. So when I had to open Monday morning after closing Sunday night, it was a bit of a challenge for me. The store doesn't open until 10:00 and the shift doesn't start until 9:45 but it's still a big turnaround when you don't hit the sack until 12:30am and you have to get up around 8:00am. Anyway, it was raining on Monday and the store was basically empty. I couldn't believe it. My co-workers said that it tends to be slow on rainy days because you've either got the people who are going into the parks come hell or high water because they paid for it already and it's expensive, and then the people who just say screw it and stay home altogether--neither of which involves people walking through a small shopping district outside of the park. I ended up being sent home early since there were plenty of people to do very little.
Tuesday morning, however, I woke up with my throat on fire and my head feeling like it had been stuffed full of bear stuffing. I continued to worsen throughout the day and by the evening I was full-blown sick. This morning I woke up feeling worse and spent the rest of the day either sleeping or reading in bed. This evening I'm feeling slightly better, but my ears are still plugged and I feel like the top part of my head belongs to someone else. It's weird. Anyway, I do hope to make a full recovery tomorrow since I work again on Friday. And now it's really late (early?) but because I've been sleeping all day I'm all thrown off. Anyway, I'm tired, so off to bed for me.
Really, I don't. Even if it's nice and moist--I just don't like it. Which makes tomorrow an unfortunate day for me. However, even more unfortunate is the day after. Not only is it Black Friday (widely believed to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year), I'm working. Oh, and it's our anniversary. So I'm going from work to a nice, fancy dinner. Yay! Let's hope work doesn't kill me!
Tomorrow, however, we'll be eating twice again this year. First we're going to my parents' and then we're heading back to Kevin's grandparents'. We should have a good time at both locations, despite my dislike for the main dish.
And since I'm not sure I'll be on tomorrow, I give you may annual Thanksgiving wish below. It's PG-13.
My feet are tired! We're gearing up for the big season at Build-A-Bear--after Thanksgiving it's going to get really busy. I'm still enjoying it, and have definitely cut down on the number of "blowouts"--when I accidentally let go of the animal and the stuffing comes shooting out at me instead of into the animal. For some reason our Mickey and Minnie Mouse dolls are really prone to this. We are also, sad to say, completely sold out of Mumble, the penguin from the movie Happy Feet and our limited edition holiday item. He went really fast. The good news is that when people walk in, I don't have to say, "Hi! Welcome to Build-A-Bear! Have you seen Mumble? He's the penguin from the movie Happy Feet and is our special limited edition holiday animal this year [and so forth, expanding on Mumble's fantastic features]" anymore. Now I get to say, "I'm sorry, Mumble is completely sold out. [insert customer response] No, we're not going to get any more of him in. [insert customer response] Actually we just sold out of him yesterday. [insert customer response] No, we don't have the capability of checking other stores' inventory, but I can give you the number of the [if Orange County: Mission Viejo or Fashion Island] [if Los Angeles: Glendale or Hollywood or Los Angeles] store." While the original Mumble spiel was longer, the new, improved version does require me to look up telephone numbers, so I'm not sure which is better.
Yet another meme--this is the favorite lines meme. Pick ten songs you like and post your favorite lines from them. Guess title and artist and be rewarded beyond your wildest dreams. Bonus for the title of this post.
1. One with the earth, with the sky, one with everything in life
2. Oh my God, it's Gary Coleman!
3. Well sometimes life gives us lessons sent in ridiculous packaging
4. How long 'til my soul gets it right?
5. I loved you past the point of dying
6. Dry your wings in the sun, you have only begun to understand--when it's time to move on there is no one to hold your hand, so let go, let go, let go.
7. There's a girl in New York City, calls herself the human trampoline, and sometimes when I'm falling, flying, tumbling through turmoil I think "oh, so this is what she means"
8. But it's one misstep and slip before you know it, and there doesn't seem a way to be redeemed.
9. You're a bedtime story, the one that keeps the curtains closed--I hope you're waiting for me, 'cause I can't make it on my own
10. I hear one thousand hearts beating at the hospital, and one thousand hearts at their bedsides waiting, saying, "that's my love in the white gown"
It was a simpler time. It was a gentler time. It was a time when Jim Henson's creations ruled the airwaves and so many of us ran around the playground yelling, "Piiiiiiiiiiigs innnnnnnn spaaaaaaaaaaaace!"
It was a time of...mana mana.
Homemade Bread Day! Who knew? It's also the day we're celebrating my niece Corie's birthday. Happy birthday Corie!
I'm really enjoying my job at Build-A-Bear. It's been a lot of fun. I particularly like being a Stuffer. That means I sit at the stuffing machine and, with the help of the bear owner, stuff the animal, give him/her a heart, and sew him up. The best part of that is that you get to talk to all kinds of people and their kids. Being in Downtown Disney means that we get a lot of out-of-towners so it's fun to hear about where people are from and why they're here and if they're having a good time (nobody has fessed up to having a bad time as of yet). I've gotten quite a few Canadians, and then people mostly from the West (Utah being very common, as well as Northern California). I've also been on 3 people's vacation videos. That part is interesting because it's always Dad behind the camera filming me and the child(ren) stuffing, and I feel kind of silly knowing that I am the complete stranger who is going to be immortalized in a video they will probably never watch again. But hey, maybe one day I'll show up on YouTube!
Tonight we saw Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. Overall I liked the movie. The cinematography and costumes were gorgeous, and I really like both Kirsten Dunst and Jason Schwartzman. The person I don't like, however, is writer/director Sofia Coppola. I get that she was trying to be all edgy and artistic using 80s music (like New Order and The Cure, both of whom I happen to like) but it just came across as weird.
Wikipedia says: "In several 2006 interviews, Sofia Coppola suggests that her highly stylized interpretation is very modern in order to humanize the historical figures involved. She has taken great artistic liberties with the source material and the film does not focus simply on historical facts — 'It is not a lesson of history. It is an interpretation documented, but carried by my desire for covering the subject differently.'"
I suggest that her highly stylized interpretation is just overreaching and gimicky. I didn't like Lost in Translation, particularly the ending, so I shouldn't have been surprised to dislike the ending of Marie Antoinette either. It's a mystery to me why Lost in Translation was met with such acclaim. After watching Marie Antoinette, it's still a mystery to me.
I started my first night of work at Build-A-Bear Workshop in Downtown Disney tonight. It was fun! I learned how to stuff the animals and even "stuffed" myself once. The way Build-A-Bear works is that you select a stuffed animal and then take it over to the stuffing machine to be stuffed. The stuffing machine has a tube that you slide the animal over to shoot stuffing into it. Well, I kept forgetting to turn off the machine, which isn't normally a problem because you have to step on a pedal to activate the stuffing--but the pedal is very easy to step on accidentally, or intentionally by another wayward Bear Builder. My trainer said that everyone gets stuffed at least once. I'm working again tomorrow, and I'll actually be on the floor with real customers, so we'll see how that goes. I have a feeling I'm going to be learning my stuffing lesson very soon.
Well this has been quite the exciting night, hasn't it? A Democratic House and the Senate dangling on two states--VA and MT. I'm off to bed for the evening (well, it's 1:02 am, so morning really) since we won't get the results tonight. Apparently they're doing a recount in Yellowstone County in Montana and don't expect to announce a winner before 8am, and with this exciting race in Virginia--well, with the margin of votes being fewer than 8,000 out of the 2.3 million cast, favoring the Democrat, there will likely be at least one recount. In fact, if the Dems take Montana (which without Yellowstone County, the Democratic candidate has a very small lead), then it will come down to Virginia and potentially a lengthy recount process. Haven't we been here before? You'd think in this day and age we could just actually decide elections once and for all on election day. Alas, that time does not seem to be in the near future.
Kevin had an even more fun day than I did, working the polls. I cannot describe his experience any better than he did here. Go read it--it's very funny.
Also Digory and Scout seem totally unconcerned about these elections. Talk about apathy!
Buckle up--this is going to be a long post.
Okay, so there's this woman, Miss Snark, and she's a literary agent--those people who get publishers to publish your books. Once my novel is finished I will get an agent who will then sell it for an amount of money so large Kevin will be able to retire comfortably. Or that's the plan anyway. So Miss Snark is an agent who blogs anonymously (along with some other agent and editor bloggers) and she answers questions about publishing in general (and occasionally holds a contest or two).
At the same time, there's another "agent" named Barbara Bauer who is a scam artist to the extreme. In publishing, every scam comes down to one principal--you should not have to spend a single penny before your book is published. Excluding paper and postage, of course. But you should never pay a reading fee for an agent, or a "retainer," or a fee to a "special, recommended 'independent' editor," or a submission fee, or a printing fee, or an advance that you pay on the advance you hope to get, etc. The exceptions are things like professionally run conferences, some contests, and an editor you yourself research and select, not one recommended to you. But in general--no. Agents make money by selling your book, not by collecting money from you.
Anyway, Barbara Bauer is a scam artist. There are a couple of different resources on the web for aspiring writers exposing scams, like Writer Beware and Preditors and Editors. So after Babs and a few of her scammer friends put up a scamming website, Miss Snark and the other bloggers descended. Babs parried back with a podcast decrying the cabal of bloggers trying to ruin her career. It was actually quite funny.
At any rate, Miss Snark decided to hold a little writing contest based on that. The goal was to write a story in 250 words or fewer containing the following words:
You could use their real meanings or make them up--whatever you wanted. Of course I was up to the challenge. There were 50 entries total and Miss Snark singled out 17 entries for various awards. I received the, "Achievement in imagery!" award (along with one other person). My entry was #47 (reproduced below in case you don't feel like following the links). Go me! (most of the other 48 were also very funny)
Sally Strauss produced a noticeable hissing sound as she attempted to dislodge a piece of communion wafer that had become caught underneath her orthodontic appliance.
“Sally, can you please not dragoon your retainer?” her mother whispered through clenched teeth. “It’s disgusting.”
A few of the Rent-A-Mourners turned their heads to glare at Sally. She rolled her eyes, knowing that the disapproval she was getting was nothing like what her brother encountered at the door.
Heinrich Strauß wore a crisp paisley shirt and tapered jeans with zippers at the ankle. Born Jason Strauss, Heinrich changed his name in order to sound more Jewish. He quickly realized that wasn’t a good idea when the majority of Americans mistook the eszett for the letter B, but “Heinrich” had a nice ring and it gave him something to talk about at the cocktail parties he was hoping one day to be invited to.
Heinrich stood at the door of the church and handed out fliers for his new enterprise, The Cabal—a combination of Kabbalah study, evangelical Christianity, and Amway. The flier compared a Cabal meeting to “hanging out with Madonna, Pat Robertson, and that guy who cornered you in the elevator the other day.” He wasn’t getting many takers among the crowd whose purpose for being there was to attend the funeral of a highly respected school board member, but Heinrich was not to be deterred. He knew The Cabal would make him rich one day.