Sunday, August 11, 2013


I'm really not sure how I feel about the whole official management thing.

Did I ever tell you guys how that came about?

The BD Manager position became available suddenly this summer, and after being turned down for SMD Manager a year and a half ago, I was a little hesitant to try for this one. Last time I wasn't even granted an interview: they just promoted someone else and told me "I didn't have any experience as a manager." And that frustrated me. 

You guys know I've been with my employer since I was nineteen years old. If their excuse was always going to be I have no management experience, how was I going to get experience there? 

But when this position came up, I really wanted it. Sure, it would be sad to leave North before the expansion, but there was nowhere to go North. There's the Manager, and then there's the Assistant Manager, and that's it. Now, I get well compensated for making calls in Sheet Music, an override just the same as any department manager makes. But I had no authority behind the pay: just the compensation. This was different, though. I practically ran Band up North anyway. There are only a couple of aspects of my job that differed from the BD Manager at the South location.

This time, I called R and said I was interested and what did I need to do?

What surprised me was the answer I got. "Oh, I'm glad you called. We've already thrown your name around a couple of times. I couldn't find your resume on file. Do you guys have that on file up North?"

I had to explain that I didn't have one, that I literally came in with a friend and filled out an application and got the job on personal recommendation without any real kind of interview. I had never made one before, and I would have to make one.

She sent me her personal one so I could see what they were supposed to look like, and told me, "Just fax it up to me or e-mail it to me when you get it done, and then we'll set up an interview." 

An interview. A real, honest to God interview. That scared the living hell out of me. I stressed about it the entire week before the day, and I actually went out and bought an outfit (to Padawan's everlasting amusement) because I felt like if I was going in for an interview, they'd probably take me more seriously if I wasn't wearing jeans and a Star Wars t-shirt. Then I made Padawan work with me on practice interviews where he asked me a bunch of common interview questions, so I would be prepared.

Bit of a wasted effort, really. R and C conducted my interview, and they only asked me one of the questions Padawan had, and it was the ONE question I was really hoping they wouldn't ask. My job before I came here, and why I left.

*sigh* Padawan told me not to answer it for them the way I'd answered it for him. But you know what? I couldn't help myself. When C asked, "So why did you leave?" I said, without missing a beat, "Because it was Wal-Mart."

And I got the exact reaction I was hoping for: they both laughed. 

And then I added how the management wasn' my taste. I tried to be diplomatic. I probably failed.

Mostly, though, they asked me management questions. How would I handle an employee I didn't personally like but had to work with? How would I handle older employees who resented my youth and inexperience? What would I do if I was told to do something by someone over my head that I didn't agree with?

And honestly, that was the one answer I gave that worried me.

It's one of my biggest personality flaws: if someone tells me to do something that I think is just flat out wrong or stupid, I fight it. I've been that way since I was a little girl, and I wasn't sure how I should answer the question. I have never been a "Yes" person. 

So I stalled for time. I said, "Let me make sure I understand the question. In this scenario, you would have told me to do something in a way I did not agree with, and you want to know what I would do?"


Part of me thought I should lie. But I figured they probably knew me well enough at that point to know if I was telling them what I thought they wanted to hear. 

So I told them the truth. "If I really was against it, the first thing I would do is ask, respectfully, why it had to be done. Perhaps if you explained it to me so I could see it from your perspective, I would be able to agree with your decision and follow through." That sounded diplomatic, but they didn't let me end it  there.

"And if you still didn't like the idea?"

Well, there was no way around that one. "If I still didn't agree, I would try to offer an alternative. It's useless to just point out why something wouldn't work if you aren't going to offer a solution."

"And if we didn't like your solution?"

"Well, if after all of that you guys still wanted me to do it your way, I guess I'd have to do it because you're the boss. However, if we did it your way and it didn't work out, I'd offer another alternative." 

The rest of the interview went pretty well. They asked me, at the end, if I had any questions. And that was the question Matt told me I should be prepared for. And, oh yes, I had a question.

The concern that had prevented a promotion last time: experience.

"I know that you had expressed concern in the past about my lack of experience as a manager. I was wondering if anything in our discussion had failed to relax those fears? I realize that I still have no experience, but I've been here since I was a kid. Is that still a major problem?"

They said no, that my interview and my resume had everything they needed.

And then they were like, "Okay, the interview is over. Now I just want to ask you some questions to get to know you better." Which kind of freaked me out. Was this is a test? A trap? A trick?

But it was just a normal conversation, and then we talked about some problems we were having at the North store and normal things. They did ask about my pet peeves, which made me nervous because that sounded like something an interviewer would ask. I gave a little spiel about how tardiness really annoys me. 

I only had to wait a couple of days for my answer. Friday, both C and R walked into the store.

C is very rarely up North, and when he said that he and R were there to talk to me, I was immediately horrified. I couldn't decide: is this a good thing, or a bad thing, that he came all the way up to talk to me? It was obviously a huge thing. 

They took me into Manager Man's office and closed the door. I wondered if they could hear my heart racing or if was just my imagination that it was thumping louder than a bass?

Didn't matter.

R started, "So, we both came up here today because what we have to say is very important. We're changing a lot of things, and we both needed to be here for it. I should start off by saying that we went with someone else for the BD Manager position South."

Well, my stomach kind of dropped a little. I had kind of expected that, but it was still disappointing.

"But, that doesn't mean you're not getting promoted."

I was confused. There was no other promotion available that I was qualified for: sure, my resume mentioned my experience in Guitars, but it was LIMITED. Where was this going?

"Chanel, we see how hard you work, how good you are, and how willing and able you are to change things when it doesn't work. We were going to give it to you, but then we had someone pop up with almost all of your experience who had managed a large music store before. He was just so qualified we couldn't afford to lose him, but we don't want to hold you back because you've been here since you were so young. Obviously, we're not going to hold you back because you've always been with us."

C broke in there. "You rocked your interview. I mean, I learned more about you in that hour than I ever knew about you before. I took a class on interviewing, and it was like you taught the class: you did everything exactly right. I hadn't expected that, given the circumstances of how you were originally hired. I was impressed."

"Well, I'm relieved to hear that much, at least! I was worried about my interview. I've never had a real one before, so that was a new experience for me."

R said, "Well, your interview gave us a lot to think about. So, we're here today to tell you that we want to invest in your future with the company. So, you're not the Manager, but we've made a position for you. You're going to be the Assistant Manager of BD, and you'll stay North. You'll run the North store BD, and he'll run South. The two of you will work together, and you'll be learning from each other as we go. Obviously, he's got experience you don't, but you know a lot of things that he doesn't. Once a month, you and I are going to meet for lunch to discuss any concerns you might have, things that you've seen. You'll be assigned a book to read, because there are some things you need to learn that you haven't yet."

Well, this was just sounding better and better. Substantial raise (hell yeah!), actual authority.

C started talking, "Now, this position has never existed before. We've created this position for you. If you decide to leave the company, or if you get promoted up to another position, this one will never be filled. This is strictly so you have the opportunities you need to learn what you don't already know. That way if this, or any position like it, becomes available we can immediately move you into it and you'll have all the tools you need for success. If we had put you in the position you wanted now, I think you would have quit in six months. It's a stressful job, and some things you need to know before you get put in the situation. This way, you'll be eased into some of the harder things about management. This will also get your foot in the door: if ever you decide to leave the company, you will have this title on your resume and a stellar recommendation from the two of us personally so that you won't be held back anywhere, should you choose to leave us."

I'm honestly very touched that, to give me a chance, they made a position for me.

But that very thing is EXACTLY the source of a lot of stress for me.

It's a running joke North. We all watch the Office, and everybody thinks the same. Assistant to the Regional Manager= Assistant TO the Band Manager. 

South, they all take me seriously. I got congratulations and people ask me questions and defer to my opinion.

North, they laugh at me. Argue with me. Before, if I wanted something done the people in my department would snap to it. As soon as they gave me that title, I started getting argument instead of action. I thought that once Tuba left, it would get better.

But it hasn't.

In fact, it's been so busy (it's our busy season in BD) that we don't have enough time in the day to go through our deliveries. Stuff is just piling on the counters, unreceived, because we just don't have time. It's back to back customers for all of us: if we get five minutes, it's just enough time to START on something, but never time to finish it. And one day in particular, it was so bad that none of us stopped for two hours. And then we finally had a lull, and I immediately started working on the things piled up. I can't stand clutter and mess, it's in my way and it makes it hard to do my job. Three of us could conquer it all in half an hour if we tried.

But I suddenly realized that my two...employees? subordinates? what do you call them?...had left the counter area. I figured they'd be back in a minute or two, so I kept going. And then I heard one of them saying, "She's playing the guitar on the other side, and it sounded so funny." She was talking about the other girl, and she was telling the receptionist.

I had been working just as long as them with just as many customers, and I was working by myself now while one played on a guitar and the other just talked?


I said, "Hey, can you pull Two over here so you guys can help me with this stuff? It can't just sit here."

And it would have been fine. D immediately put down her drink and went to go get Two. But then Jazz, the receptionist, spoke up. "Oh my god. Just give her a minute!"

And it wasn't the words. It was the tone that pissed me off.

Because, for God's sake, I had been working non stop just as long and I was still trying to accomplish something! I wasn't asking anymore of the girls than I was planning to do myself. And since I'm the fucking head of the department, when I say you have to do your damn job, you have to do it! There is no arguing, and you certainly don't need to use that tone. 

And am I no longer human? I mean, I'd like a fucking minute to myself, too! 

The thing is, my authority is limited. I am responsible for discipline in my department, and Reception is not my domain. So she, like everyone else, just kind of mocks my position. She feels free to argue because I can't do anything to her about it. 

It had already been a stressful day: it took every ounce of self control not to tell her off.

I'm seriously going to have to talk about this ongoing problem that I am having with back talk. Because it's happened a couple of times when I tell D and Two to do something, and Jazz just butts in and argues with me about it. I'm not telling her to do it, but she sits there and argues with me anyway. And it's always in the same tone, which I would find offensive if she used it on me outside of work if we were just hanging out! And when she argues, then the other two start to argue.

B Money says that it's because nobody respects a position that was made up, and that I should just accept the fact that I'm not any kind of manager and just enjoy the raise. I want to talk to Jay Jay about it, but I don't know how. 

At this point I'm thinking maybe I should resign the raise and the position and go back to what I was before. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

To Senior: You are not the man you think you are.

Fun facts about Chanel:

1. I can and will hold a grudge when I feel I have been wronged.
2. I am not a pliable or easily controlled human being: not at 17 and certainly not at 25.
3. I am not inclined to be forgiving when I am repeatedly egged on in the same manner.
4. I dislike being called stuck up more than any other insult. It makes me want to scratch out your eyes when you say it.
5. I do not like people, even sisters who supposedly mean well, sticking their broken, crooked noses in my business. 
6. I have, according to my coworkers, the patience of a fucking saint, but I do have a breaking point.
7. If you want my love and forgiveness, repeatedly calling me stuck up is not going to get you there: it take you the opposite way.
8. I do not consider sharing blood a reason for unconditional love: you may be a relative, but if you are a bad person, I will not love you. And nothing you say or do can prevail upon me to love you.

I consider myself a reasonable person. I consider myself an honest person. But most of all, I consider myself a human being, and as a human being I do not let anyone, man or woman or beast, walk all over me. I have pride and a sense of self worth that comes from who I am, where I came from, and who I mean to be.

You can sit there and insult me till kingdom come. You can tell me that I will wind up alone and unloved and abandoned, you can tell me that I am cold and selfish. You can say whatever the hell you want, but it will not change who I am or what I want.

You can say I am worthless as a woman, that's fine.

But you will never know all the things that I have done, all the things that I have seen. You will never know all that I have been. You will never know all I mean to be. And you can say those things and think you are saying something important, that your words carry weight, but they slide right by me because I mean to be so much more than what you think of me, and your words don't change that. 

My name is Chanel, and I am myself. I love and accept myself for who I am.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Writing Books

Do you ever wonder how on earth people manage to write an entire book?

I do.

I can't see how they don't just get bored and give up. It happens to me. Every time I sit down and try to write something, I get maybe eight chapters in and just dies. I die off even sooner if I go back and read what I've written. Anything I write after that point seems forced and doesn't flow the same way. If I keep going then eventually I just...get tired.

It's not like I don't plan where it's all going. I map everything out so that if I get lost or forget something, I can check my thought web and get right back to where I was supposed to be. But even with the best and most awesome thought web of all time (it was pretty freakin' epic, let me tell you) I only got twelve chapters in, and then the will to write it just left.

I do that. I will suddenly have an intense desire to tell a story, and I will go with it for weeks and weeks and weeks...

And then I will wake up one morning, sit down, and I won't have a damn thing to write. 

I'm not a writing machine or anything. Even during my "productive phases" I change things and delete and rewrite. On a good day, I'd get half a page done. On a GREAT day I'd get half a chapter. There was one day in particular I wrote a whole chapter from start to finish in three hours, and I felt like it was the best chapter in the history of the world! I never went back and changed that particular chapter. To this day, I still think it is absolutely perfect.

On my worst days, I sometimes only get one or two sentences that I keep, and the rest gets deleted. 

That's another reason not to go back and reread the whole thing. You tend to change things and then you lose what you were trying to do and then the web doesn't matter anymore and you're left with one big forced story that you hate.

Except for the one chapter that is still the most awesome chapter ever written. 

My sister suggested maybe I should try writing historical fiction. She thinks I'd be great at that since I spend a lot of my time reading the genre, and then complaining that the author didn't get something right, or in some cases, failed to capture the subject of the story correctly. (I have never read a story about Anne Boleyn that didn't annoy the living hell out of me at one point or another.)

The problem with that is you can't just write a historical fiction. Even if you choose a subject you know all about and you can just go with it, you can't write it like that. You have to give credits and whatnot. And if you pick a subject you've been obsessed with for your whole life, how are you supposed to remember where you read every single fact you've accumulated over the years? Historical fiction means research, lots of research, even if you already know everything you intend to put in your story. That, to me, means all the fun of just writing gets sucked out of it. 

And if it's not fun, what's the point? 

I have kept every single story I've ever started on my computer. And sometimes, when I'm out of books to read and don't feel like rereading any that I own, I go back and I read them. There are a couple that I read that I just get pissed off at myself for not finishing. It annoys me that I can't finish the story because I never finished the story! But I can't just pick up and start working on it again. Like I said, it never works out. It feels forced. 

So, I know some of you have actually written your own books. I want you to tell do you do it?  

And something else important...Is this just me?

Monday, July 8, 2013

No More Books: I am sad.

What's it been? Four months or so?

Bah. Who remembers these things anyway.

I know I've been a bad blogger. Bad reader, bad writer.  Just bad all around. I have no excuses, really, except that I am busy. Which I realize we are all busy, but after working all day and coming home...I kind of just like vegging in bed with a book. Or watching old episodes of the Tudors just so I can wait for Duke Phillip of Bavaria to make his appearance. (Helloooooo, Captain Hook!)

Sometimes I like to relax by refusing to let Padawan play his video games. (Usually by sitting on his lap and wrapping my arms around his neck so he can't see the screen and then refusing to budge.)

But mostly I just like my books. Good old friends that I like to visit over and over again. Sometimes I buy new books, of course, but we're really trying not to buy new things because our tiny one bedroom apartment is getting awfully cramped with two full grown humans and two dogs with big personalities. Our bookshelves are overflowing as it is and we have no space for more, so we're really trying not to buy new books. 

Honestly, Padawan is better at this than I am. He is all about the public library and being able to digitally check out books on his Kindle, read them, and then get another one, all within the comfort of our own (tiny) home. I am not good at this. I don't like borrowing books. I like owning books and then rereading them over and over and over again. (I've read Gone with the Wind so many times I have entire portions memorized verbatim.) And Padawan likes to read his books once: read it once, and never again. My God, if I want to watch a movie we've seen in the last eighteen months he says "But we watched that recently!" 

Here is the downside to a library: you find a book, you read it, and then you have to give it back. Well, if I've read the whole thing, that means I loved it. (As I love most books. I have only three books in my entire life I did not finish reading: some version of Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest, The Fellowship of the Ring, and Passage to India, although that wasn't a personal dislike for the writing but rather what happened in the story.) When I love a book, I want to read it again. I like to own it so I can read it again at any time. You never know when the mood will strike to relive a particular character's life. 

So I don't like giving books back. 

As for digital rentals...well, I like my Kindle only when I need books to travel with  me. It's not exactly logical to go Zilker Park for a picnic and a swim with Gone with the Wind in my bag. It's a huge book! But I certainly don't want to use my Kindle at home! No, I like the feel and smell of the traditional book. I like turning the pages, using a book mark, (God forgive you if I catch you dog earring my pages, for I never will!) feeling the weight of the words in my hands! A Kindle is no replacement for a good old fashioned book. It's just not.

So while Padawan is all about the new, I am firmly passionate about the old. In fact, you could say I'm a little neurotic about libraries and Kindles and renting books. Don't get me wrong, I love Rosebud. But she's not my book. She's just capable of holding all of my favorite books. It is not the same thing at all.

What I like to do is go to the book store (these days it's Half Price those exist outside of Austin?) and go to my favorite sections. Sometimes I'll look for specific authors, but generally I just read titles. When I find something that seems interesting, I take it out. I read the synopsis. If that proves interesting, I'll open the book and start reading.

If I am not hooked in the first paragraph, I put it back. There have been two instances in my life where I have continued reading past the first paragraph even though it was not interesting to me, and both times I wound up abandoning the book. Those were the Robin Hood book and The Fellowship of the Ring. Now, I really tried with both of those books. With The Fellowship I even made it to the last chapter. And then I just gave up, because reading it was torture. No offense to Tolkien, but if he is as dry when he speaks as he is when he writes, people must fall asleep listening to him! 

And when I go to the store I generally find two or three new books to come home with me, and I read them all that week...and then a couple of months later I'll probably read them again. And again....

And again.

Because I do not read it once and then have done with it. 

If you've ever seen the movie Toy Story, you can understand where I am coming from: books want and need to be read. When you buy a book and read it once, you're hurting its feelings! You are denying it the pleasure of whisking you away to another time and place and world! 

Which is exactly how we have so many books. I do not sell or donate them. I buy them, and I write my name in them, and I keep them forever and ever and ever. And so my collection grows, but my space doesn't.

So. Until we finish paying off the car (planning to do that at the end of this year: six thousand left!) and manage to save enough for a house, we're staying in a tiny apartment.

Therefore, I must resist the urge to by more books.

But damn it, it's like telling me not to buy shoes. I just want to buy them. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

You tell me: Was I being selfish?

I don't know how to start this so I guess for you to understand tonight I have to tell you about what happened like four months ago.

One night four months ago some coworkers talked me into going to a sports bar/ karaoke bar because one of those coworkers, we'll call him Voices because he's the man of a million voices, was hosting karaoke there that particular night. It was a Friday and it was also the night of the Presidential Election, so Padawan elected to stay home to watch the election (though it was playing at the bar on all of the TVs except one, which was showing a basketball game I think. Some kind of game.)

We aren't particularly sure what happened to set this all off, but long story short: one very large, very drunk Mexican dude took a strong dislike to my friend Dee's boyfriend, Dayd. Now, I'm not entirely positive, but judging by this man's repeated use of the "N" word and the fact that Dayd had been in the bar for all of three minutes and hadn't spoken a word to anyone other than us when this whole thing started, I'm going to assume it was some sort of racially motivated hatred. Though how a Mexican man can be racist against an African  American boy (I did not choose these terms lightly: the aggressor was clearly in his thirties and Dayd was 19 years old) in a city with lots of redneck white supremacists hanging around, I do not understand.  

Threats were made, a knife came out (in self defense), threats of guns in cars...Jazz called the police because this man was threatening to kill Dayd.

Now, this was the first time I had agreed to go out to a social gathering that didn't take place in somebody's personal home in quite some time. I'm guessing it's been about a year since I agreed to have drinks and relax at a bar or restaurant with any friends. Because I am a socially awkward individual who is afraid of crowds, strange men, and casual human contact. 

It's not that I hadn't been to that bar before. I'd been in there several times: lunch with a friend, drinks with coworkers, a couple of times with my sisters. I knew the bar. I'd never once felt unsafe in that bar.

But when this large, aggressive man came to our table after he'd tried to beat the hell out of Dayd in the parking lot and started screaming in mine and Jazz's face about keeping our little "n word" friend away or he would wind up dead, I was determined to get the hell out of there.

But that wasn't anything personal against the establishment: that was fear motivated by the fact that I am a hundred and fifteen pounds and this two hundred and fifty pound drunk guy was hulking around and threatening to kill our friend. 

My personal problem with the bar came because the owner lied to the police when they arrived and said that the man (apparently a regular and a personal friend) hadn't had a drop to drink, was stone sober, and that we had been bothering him for several hours. Now, at that point Jazz and I had been there for a little over an hour, drunky had been there for several at least and he'd already been complained about by our friend hosting the karaoke before we even got there, and Dayd and Dee had been there for all of twenty minutes total by the time the police arrived. And our interaction had started about fifteen minuets beforehand. 

And then, the real kicker, the part that really and truly pissed me off, was when the owner declared that Dayd was banned for life and that the police couldn't trust any of our testimony because we were all drunk and clearly on drugs.


On drugs.

And his supposedly sober friend who hadn't had a drink all night? He was handcuffed on the sidewalk and STILL trying to get loose so he could attack Dayd. They had to put Dayd in a car to protect him from this drunk psycho.

So I gave my testimony, and I emphasized the part where I did NOT appreciate being threatened and intimidated by someone who clearly had no idea how to behave in public.

Ever since that night, I have refused to return to the establishment. Not just me, of course. None of my coworkers have been back, or their friends or spouses.

My sisters are the only people who, after hearing what happened, insist on patronizing the bar. They repeatedly invited me out with them to this bar after the fact, and each time I patiently explained my reasons for not going. My sister's husband Peacock even apologized profusely on behalf of the owner, who is a personal friend of his, and said that he would set things right with the owner if I would just go with them. I have always refused.

And then, tonight Lydia and Mo Mo decide they want to celebrate their fifth anniversary by going to this bar to watch the first women's UFC fight. 

Of all the mother effing sports bars in this city of over 750,000 people, they choose to go to the ONE FREAKING BAR I have adamantly boycotted. 

Never mind the fact that this is an imaginary anniversary because they haven't even been married three years yet (you guys remember: I posted a rant about their elopement and changed her pseudonym from Wheat to Lydia because she reminds me of the character from Pride and Prejudice.), but they all come out and say I'm being selfish for not going to celebrate with them.


It's a fake fucking anniversary for one, and I have a very fucking good reason for not going, for two! 

And yet they call me selfish. 

So I pulled on my shoes, put on a jacket, and I went. I walked through that door with a look on my face that clearly showed my disdain for the entire operation: location, company, and reason. It was crowded. It was noisy.

And Lydia and Relly were plastered by the time we got there.

And then Relly has the audacity to tell me she thinks I'm stuck up.

I am reserved.

But I am not stuck up.

And excuse me for saying so, but I think it's really selfish to  HARASS me into going out to a place that scares the crap out of me, and then after I agree to go it's fucking RUDE to insult me once I get there.

And then she had the nerve to tip the waitress ten percent.


The food was right, the drinks were prompt, she came by every few minutes to clear things off and clean things up. 

What did she do wrong?

"She didn't ask us how we were doing." Relly's opinion.

"Yeah, she doesn't deserve a tip at all. I was a cocktail waitress. I know." Wheat's opinion. Who, I would like to point out, was a cocktail waitress for two days on afternoon shifts at a gentleman's club. 

I was conflicted. On the one hand, it really pisses me off that my sisters, who were raised to be better than this, were such rude, ungracious customers. On the other hand, I vowed after that whole fiasco on election night that I would never contribute any money to that establishment in the form of buying drinks or tipping employees. 

If I hadn't seen the owner standing ten feet away while I was having this argument with my sister, I would have left her ten dollars of my own money for a tip.

So now I am annoyed with the entire situation, and I have told them point blank that next time they can find a different bar, or don't bother inviting me because I won't do it again.

I just won't. 

My Shelfari Bookshelf

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