Hello again, my dear friend…Why I never!

Posted in Uncategorized on 26/11/2012 by pickaxemellie

To answer your question, yes, I’ve been gone for a while. No, I won’t be answering any of your questions about that. But I do have a pleasant little holiday story you can tell your kids. Complete with a moral!

In my years of shopping, being the good little consumer American jerk that I am, I had never met a shopkeep who was just downright hateful. But I guess today was my lucky day, because as I walked in, I felt the stare of 180 pounds of hate.

I’ll preface the rest of this story by letting the reader know that I’m very familiar with rude people. My job involves me having to put up with people who just wish I would fuck off. And you know, I’m okay with that. Rudeness is so familiar to me that I’m not even shocked anymore; it’s more of an amusement. Did that person really just say that? Why yes, yes, they did. Lovely! Good day to you, sir!

Okay, back to the story…

Fucking Dollar General.

The cashier glared at me when I walked into the Dollar General in the dead shopping center at the corner of North Lamar and Airport (yeah, that place sucks). Whatever, I thought. It was Black Friday. People act like asses on Black Friday, lining up outside of the big box stores to purchase junk at sharply discounted prices. And the stores are more than happy to cater to this behavior. I had a friend point out how absurd it was to her, as she compared the tents of people outside of a Best Buy to those of the people in the Occupy movement. It’s considered normal and almost patriotic to camp out for shopping, however, camping out in protest is looked upon as terrorism. Although long ago I had been burned out by the futility of the Occupy movement, I definitely saw her point. So, a shopkeep’s irritability on Black Friday seemed understandable.

I went on my way, holding my canvas grocery bag and listening to my headphones. I could not subject myself to the jazzy Christmas music on the store’s PA. I picked up stuff I needed: kitty litter, peanut butter, paper towels. I also picked up some stuff I did not need: 100 count strand of Christmas lights, stuffing mix, mayonnaise. I put all this in my bag and waited in line.

“Can one of you smile?” the hateful looking cashier said. “You aren’t lining up for your funeral. And it takes more muscles to frown than smile.”

No, we won’t smile, because we are all waiting in line at a Dollar General buying our smattering of shit that we may need for the week. And Dollar General is a long way of saying “hell.” At that point, yes, I was mildly annoyed. Then I remembered that I had wanted some Nutella, so I got out of line and rushed over to get a jar.

When I got back in line, there was no one there. So I emptied my canvas bag on the counter in front of the cheery-hateful cashier. She started ringing my items up and I noticed that she was putting them in a plastic bag.

“Oh no! I’m sorry. I forgot to tell you that I brought my own bag,” I said, embarrassed.

She threw an annoyed look my way, but did not take the baloney and cheese out of the plastic bag, and kept ringing items up, this time placing them in the canvas bag.

“Your phone is going off,” she said.

I looked confused and then saw that my headphones were on the counter and they were blasting Mastodon.

“Oh I’m sorry. That’s not my phone…” I mumbled and quickly turned my iPod off.

“Well, whatever it is, you were going off.”

One more item to scan—the mayonnaise. Only it wasn’t scanning. By this time, a man that the woman was friends with came up and was chatting with her. She kept trying to scan the mayonnaise, but I had cleverly chosen the only jar left that came with a free package of dried vegetable soup. Yeah, veggie dip sounded kind of good, but I always thought one used sour cream to make that and not mayo. Whatever. Free stuff is always good. However, this free package of soup was wrapped in a way where it would not scan when ran over the scanner.

Fucking Dollar General.

“Heh. Of course I would get the one thing in the store that doesn’t scan,” I joked, nervously. That was my standard joke whenever something did not scan, and usually cashiers would kind of laugh with me.

But this woman just gave me a dirty look. “Of course you would,” she said. “Why you gotta get this one?”

I recoiled a little. “Well, it comes with free soup.”

“Well, it comes with free soup,” she repeated, mocking me.

Shocked, I offered to get another one that would scan.

“Yeah, why don’t you do that.”

I went over to the condiment aisle and spotted a mayonnaise jar the same size and brought it up. It scanned without issue.

“That will be twenty-seven dollars,” she said, not looking at me. “Will that be debit?”

I had already placed my cash on the counter. I knew I had been overcharged. The cranberry sauce rang up twice and the mayonnaise was a dollar and twenty-five cents more expensive than the shelf said. But I was done with this woman.

“No, I’m paying by cash, the best payment method there is.”

She gave me one last dirty look, and then exchanged my cash with a receipt. Then she paid attention to my bag again, making sure everything was in there, and taking special care to place the can of cranberry sauce in a position that would smash part of my loaf of bread.

 

I grabbed my bag and left. Yeah, maybe I felt like I might have known where her irritation was coming from, but you know what? That bitch works at fucking DOLLAR GENERAL. I can guarantee you that no one went there for Black Friday. The worst thing that happened to her all day is that she went to a torn up Walmart and couldn’t find pants that fit. Rude people; they’re amusing.

 

Fucking Dollar General.

 

“Happy holidays,” I yelled behind me. Because despite my father’s absence in my life, he did have a little wisdom. Always be as sweet as honey to the people who are complete assholes, because it makes them feel shitty.

No response.

I replaced my headphones on my head and listened to Mastodon on my way home, on that bleak, overcast Friday evening, annoyed with such rudeness, but thankful that I still had three dollars for the bus until it was time for my vacation.

Moral to the story? Happy holidays. Don’t be a cunt.

Reading “Working,” Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized on 22/08/2011 by pickaxemellie

I'm reading this. I bought it at Half-Price Books for a quarter. Yes, I am awesome.

In the wake of my personal life going haywire, I started reading Studs Terkel’s Working. I bought this book months ago at Half Price Books and it’s been languishing on my shelf, aching to be read. Being decided that there is no better time to read it than now, while work is on my mind constantly.

Originally, Working was published in 1974. A lot of the working people Terkel interviews are blue collar; strip miners, farmers, janitors. I found the receptionist’s interview especially distressing as I read it the day before my interview for a receptionist position.

I find Terkel to be pretty inclusive of his interviews. A wide range of ages are represented, from the twelve year-old paperboy to the seventy year-old farm woman. When considering the time period and the percentage of women in the workforce, both genders seem to be equally represented. Of the thirty interviews I’ve read so far, eleven are women. To the modern reader, the women’s recounts of their work experiences are horrifying. A switchboard operator tells readers that she often does not get a break and her boss denied her overtime. A stewardess complains that she is only thought of as a pretty face and cannot yell at men who grope her while on flights. And on the less pink collar side of the spectrum, a producer is constantly accused of “sleeping her way to the top.”

Although I’m enjoying this book, I think it would be nice to update Terkel’s work. A lot has changed since ’74. There are whole industries that have emerged and died since then. And the relationship between women and the workplace has also evolved.

Despite having recently come under fire in my personal life about my lack of working experience, while touching on some of the finer points in Working, I plan on recounting some of this experience in the next few blogs.


Cake!

Posted in cake on 18/08/2011 by pickaxemellie

Fun-fucking-fetti. Always worth a quest.

I will preface this blog saying that I now know that some things I talk about on my blog have the tendency to irritate, offend, or annoy people.  For those of you who have experienced this, I apologize and bring you a lighter, airier fare.

Last night Amy and I took a late night jaunt to Walmart.  Yes, Walmart, not the Wal-Mart from our childhood. Our goal was to stock up on Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip cake frosting.  Lately both Amy and I have been furious over Pillsbury’s new Funfetti cake frosting.  It used to have little candy bits in the frosting.  Now it just has a bubble of sprinkles on top of the frosting container with directions that tell the cake baker to sprinkle them over the frosting.  Funfetti just isn’t that fun anymore.

So while we were in the baking aisle I couldn’t help but be transfixed by the wall of cake mix before me.  Basically you have tht three main brands: Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines, and Pillsbury.  All three have pictures of perfect, generous slices of round double-layered cake on the front of their boxes.  You know, the kind that is the classic image of cake, but no one who uses cake mix really ever bakes.  The slices reveal a cake of the perfect density  and texture, complete with a half inch layer of frosting framing each stripe of cake.

If you look at the boxes long enough, you lose all respect for cake.  The slices don’t even look real anyway.  Instead, they are probably just sponges topped with whipped Noxema or some shit.  Did you ever see that television special about the food make-up artists when you were a kid?  Remember how the guy strategically stacked all the French fries in the box and spray painted the bun on the hamburger?  That television special instilled the cynicism I now have for marketing.  All the same, I still find French fries and cake hard to resist.  Do I look like I turn down French fries or cake?

The fakeness is a given, but it’s the the subtle differences in the packaging that really creep me out.  While all three boxes have the same slice of cake, the Duncan Hines cake slice is positioned differently; this slice stands upright, while the Betty Crocker and Pillsubry slices are on their sides.  Also, on the Duncan Hines cake slice, a fork is in the beginning process of cutting into the cake, kind of teasing the consumer.  Almost, almost…NO.  Not gonna cut it yet!  On the Betty Crocker and Pillsbury boxes, however, the forks are holding ou a bite of cake, offering it to the consumer.  On the Pillsbury box, the Pillsbury Doughboy is holding the fork. Of course, on the Betty Crocker box, there is no fork holder, because there is no official Betty Crocker figurehead.  But then…what if that fork is being held by the ghost of Betty Crocker?  Gross.  Creepy.  No thanks.  Oddly, both the Betty Crocker and Pillsbury cake slices do not have pieces of cake taken out, despite a forkful of cake being offered to the consumer.  This makes me think these forks are taking bites out of another cake.  Possibly one that has poison, or even worse, rufies.

I don’t think either one of these cake mixes is to be trusted.  They are obviously creepy and trying to poison you.  It’s just like not letting anyone else handle your drink.  Don’t let anyone else feed you cake.  Ever.

And yes, Funfetti is still delicious, even in my thirties.

Unemployment’s New Rules

Posted in Uncategorized on 09/08/2011 by pickaxemellie
Goddamn, I want a fucking hot dog now, though!

Natalie Dee nails the idea of self-respect.

Since the Austin State Hospital has swallowed ten tons of fail in their hiring system, I will not have a job there until November.  Yes, they wasted my time yesterday with meaningless paperwork and testing because they are on a hiring freeze that doesn’t look like it’s thawing out any time soon. The way I see it, I now have two choices:

1. I can wait until November and do odd jobs until then, OR

2. I can look for a job every day until I find one, hopefully before the eleventh month of this year.

Either way, I’m going to have to work my ass off at being unemployed.  Knowing that, I’ve figured out a few things.  Call them my job hunting rules, if you will.

1. I refuse to work for anyone who drug tests.  This is not because I take drugs.  I don’t .  But I refuse to be treated like I’m some stupid irresponsible kid who cannot figure out when it’s appropriate to be sober.

2. I also refuse to fill out any personality inventory.  Anyone with common sense can fake those.  All these questionnaires are usually asking is, “Would you steal from my company?” No.  You don’t have anything I want except a paycheck and maybe some experience.  You don’t need 100 circular questions to figure that out.

3.  If there is no specification of payment, I’m not wasting my time with the application process.  I have a specific value for my time and it’s not going to be satisfied by some ridiculous “depends on experience ” phrase substituted for a number.  That phrase just cleverly disguises a cheapskate anyway.

4. I will not be applying for anything sales-related.  My last job was very sneaky about the amount of sales involved.  When I first applied, the idea was no sales, but then the woman who interviewed me said there was only a few opportunities for sales.  Training told me something different.  At almost every turn you can offer a certain service.  And then when I talked to my manager it was nothing but, “Why didn’t you offer such-in-such?” Bottom line, if the position is not a specifically a sales position, I don’t appreciate any employer who tries to make it a sales position.  And no, I will not be applying for sales positions.  I am no salesperson.

5. Nothing part time.  I could possibly juggle two part time jobs, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get two part time jobs.  If I’m not getting full time, I’m not interested.

6. Finally, I’m not settling on the first shitty job that comes my way.  I have a habit of doing this and it’s ending today.  Mark my words.  NO MORE SHITTY JOBS.  Keep your minimum wage gigs to yourself.  I am thirty years old and have been working for almost half of my life.  I have self-respect and standards, dammit.

As you can see, I’ve made my standards somewhat higher.  Perhaps that’s a bad thing to do in an economy like this.  But maybe, just maybe, this might allow me to land a somewhat better job than I’ve been working for this past lifetime.

Freaky Deaky Anxiety-Ridden Friday!

Posted in Uncategorized on 07/08/2011 by pickaxemellie

Friday was a strange day full of anxiety and a little good news.  Good news first, because that’s how we like it.  I more than likely have a job with the Austin State Hospital.  I received a phone call at about 2pm Friday from a man at ASH who wanted me to come by on Monday to “sign paperwork.”  Although I am assuming there is an interview, this sounds pretty definite, especially since I have  a great deal of experience working for mental health facilities and I know I can ace any impending interview.  So that’s the good news.

Then there’s the stuff that made me anxious.  I received a follow-up email from a woman who wants to visit Green House and participate in Austin Art Nerds.  And that’s fine and dandy, except for one little kink in the chain–she’s wheelchair bound.  If you’ve ever been to Green House, you know that this place is by no means ADA compliant.  It’s an old house and it has a lot of steps and basically the sales floor is elevated above everything else.  So, yes, as we market ourselves as being community-conscious, I am humbled to confess that we cannot serve one of our disabled neighbors.  And to add insult to injury, I forgot to respond to her first email.  My negligence was bothersome.

How did I handle this, you ask?  Well, I apologized profusely, because I genuinely felt terrible.  I looked up the Americans with Disabilities Act and began researching what could be done with this house.  Luckily Kit also spoke with my wheelchair-bound neighbor, who gave him an idea about inexpensive, easy-to-construct wheelchair ramps.

The day progressed.  Kit and I worked at Rio Rita.  ASH called about the job.  Chantal and I had lunch at Pho Oanh.  Then I got rear-ended.

Maybe I should have seen this coming.  A few nights ago I was going to run an errand, but I found myself a little too anxious to drive.  I had this sense of dread that if I left the house something bad would happen while on the road.  I was also very exhausted and a little drunk.  As a result, I waited until the next day to run this errand and yes, that was when I got rear-ended.  I pulled over into the nearest driveway and the the vehicle who hit me followed suit.  A kid, no older than nineteen, ran out of his car and asked if we were okay.  In our shocked state, both Chantal and I said that we were okay.  Then we all assessed the damage to both vehicles.  My truck, which lacks a front bumper and has mutant turning signals loosely hanging on the sides with wires, was relatively unscathed.  The kid’s bumper was a little loose, but he didn’t care.  Basically he wasn’t paying attention and just smacked into me.  I shrugged and told him that I’ve been in his situation before and there was no need to call the police or exchange insurance information.  He was noticeably relieved and thanked me several times.  We both got back in our trucks and parted ways.   Although the situation was handled, I was still jarred.

Later, I would complain of back pain, and Chantal would complain of neck pain.  But that’s our own damn fault for making decisions while in shock.

My day came full circle later on, however, while I was perusing the Austin Chronicle and found the article that inspired a blog post.  Another article caught my eye, though.   “Access Denied,” and article about Capital Metro’s ongoing financial woes and misguided efforts to cut costs by reducing special transit services.  Although this article mostly dealt with the discontinuation of taxi vouchers to use while Capital Metro paratransit vehicles, it echoed the same theme as another Chronicle article (“Can’t Get There From Here” January 22, 2010) about Capital Metro’s lackluster attention to bus stop accessibility.   Both articles stress the transit company’s failure to serve its transit dependent customers, who happen to be poor and/or disabled.

Have you noticed the theme here?

Look, I’m not the kind of person who believes everything happens for a reason.  Life is weird and unpredictable.  Chaos is constantly in the works and everything is random.  But today was weird.  Even though this concept seems foreign to me, could the universe be trying to give me some kind of direction for the next few years of my life?   There are a lot of issues I’m passionate about.  I know that makes it seem like my direction changes from time to time and for that reason, I’m sure a lot of people see me as flaky.  So be it.  Again, please refer to the earlier part of this paragraph where I state that life is chaotic.

Wish me luck tomorrow with whatever the state hospital has in store.

Funnin’ with Fonts and an Important Profound Message

Posted in typography on 02/08/2011 by pickaxemellie

The 12 year old boy in me made this.

About a month ago, when I was first starting to dabble with Etsy, I discovered a website that had nothing but free downloadable fonts, which we all know is dafont.com.  Being somewhat of a newb when it comes to common internet knowledge (and according to some, any knowledge really), I was super excited about this website.  Unfortunately, I was in a hurry and I needed a banner made quickly.  So, I kept my shopping at a minimum.

Today, however, as I opened a new tab, I saw the bookmarked “dafont.com” staring at me, inviting me to waste precious minutes which would roll into precious hours.  Whatever.  It was hot outside and I’m a pasty white girl.  So, I spent a good part of yesterday evening exploring different fonts.

Dafont.com is pretty inclusive when it comes to fonts.  The fonts are divided into ten categories and then further divided into sub-groups.  Within each subgroup, there are anywhere from three to seventy-five pages of user-generated fonts.  I used “Western” for my Etsy banner after trying out “Limberjack” and watching that banner crash and burn.  I was also impressed to find fonts that copied the Misfits, Samhain, and Rocky Horror Picture Show lettering.  Other notable fonts include “School Script Dashed” (which is basically cursive with the guiding lines left in), “Shock Rock” (looks exactly how it sounds), and “Press Start” (which is basically the lettering from old Nintendo games).

Two subgroups stood out more than others: “Sexy,” and “Handwritten.”  The “Sexy” subgroup is under the “Dingbats” category and is basically mostly clip art thrown together to symbolize different letters.  Although there were more female silhouette letters than male or trans representation anywhere, I did rather enjoy the “Cocksure” font, which consisted of penis drawings manipulated to make the penises make letters and words.  Expect to see this font employed whenever I lose my mind and get engaged and have a bachelorette party.  I was also fascinated by the two pornographic “fonts,” which really looked like nothing more than porny clip art, and required the viewer to click a link verifying that they were eighteen.   Despite being thirty now, lax standards on adult websites still make me happy.

The other subgroup was a little more depressing.  Under the “Script” category there was a subgroup called “handwritten.” Remember how I said earlier that some sub-groups had seventy-five pages of fonts?  I was referring to  “handwritten.”  Most of the handwritten fonts look like a fifteen year-old girl’s handwriting.  But a few stand out.  I downloaded “Alphabetized Cassette Tapes” because the writing was very straight while obviously in a handwritten style.  And the title was also pretty accurate.  It reminded me of the tape my mom bought me from a garage sale so many years ago that had the Doors on one side and Nirvana on the other.  The handwriting on the memo card of that tape was perfectly neat and evenly spaced so that each song name was centered on its own line.  I remember wanting to find the person who wrote it, a woman I assumed was in college and far, far away from Lake Jackson’s clutches.

However, the most striking thing about the handwritten fonts is that most of them look the same, and they really aren’t all that impressive.  “Diffusion on this site is not automatic. It is a selection, each font is submitted to review,” is the first real sentence on the font submission page.  Each one of these handwritten fonts went through a review.  And still seventy-five pages remain.  My friend Jaime always says, “you can credit a lot of others’ successes to just showing up.”  Seventy-five pages of poor, desperate, narcissistic teenagers trying to reach for that brass ring of quiet and nerdy internet fame is a lot like record deals given to retardedly bad rappers like Kreayshawn.  What makes any of us any different?  Nothing really, except that we aren’t showing up.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have crappy earrings to list on Etsy and a highly narcissistic font to submit to dafont.

Where to Now, Mizz Mellie?

Posted in Uncategorized on 26/07/2011 by pickaxemellie

It's too easy for me. Like flipping a switch.

I’m not sure if you’re heard the news or not, but it looks I  have quit my job, yet again.  Don’t get me wrong; the job was certainly nothing glamorous, and the pay was terrible.  For me, however, I’m a little irritated that I was unable to make a normal job work.  Last night I started panicking that I might be one of those people who can’t seem to keep a job.  That’s kind of frightening, to a certain extent.  While I am actually in a great position to not have to work a job I hate right now, the harsh reality is that I am constantly changing and what works for me one day might not always work for me the next.  In other words, if I ever decide to leave I’m going to have to figure out how to work full time again.  Aside from that, I also find this a little bothersome because I’ve never been a “job snob.”  I’ve worked all kinds of shitty jobs in my relatively short working life.  Lately I have not tolerated those jobs as long as I should though, and this is beginning to concern me, because it smacks of hubris.  Who the hell am I to think I am better than the average working stiff?  What the hell do I even do anyway?

I remember when I was about to move out of my parents house, my older brother talked to me about my dad.  He told me about how Allen was always easy prey to get-rich-quick schemes.  Of course, I was too young to know any of this was going on, but apparently my dad was not a good employee.  Years down the road after he had successfully started his own business, he admitted that he was a bad employee and then impressed upon me that I too must become my own boss and sooner rather than later.

It took my father years to figure out what he wanted to do and what he was good at doing.  Finally he settled on installing custom blinds and carpet binding.  He also started exploring photography for a little extra money.  Dad always made very little money doing this, but it was always enough to pay for the cost of his materials and his share of the bills.

After giving up my twenties to unsuccessful self-improvement and reckless abandon, I have come to realize that the next ten years of my life need to be better. I need to work on the things that I am good at and ignore the things that I am not.  I have plenty of time, and yet I don’t have nearly enough.  Wasting another decade on what others expect of me is no longer an option.  I’ve listened to them tell me how to live for way too long now.  What is it I want to do?  What is it I can do?  No one can answer this but me.

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