Volpane In Love

Decade Archive of my personal blog from 1999 to 2009.

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

I am suffering from sleep deprivation and insomnia. It starts Friday night. I work until eight thirty and usually I go immediately home. This past week I�ve had a project that I promised a client and I�ve been lacking the motivation to follow through with the project because it entails mostly busy work changing things already in place. I�d already put in a couple of hours, but hadn�t gotten it to a point where it could wait.

This Friday was the Seattle gathering for NaNoWriMo at the NiteLite downtown. I waited for a number ten bus and arrived around nine. At first I couldn�t find the group because they�d been ousted out of the back room they�d reserved from seven until nine and they were hovering around the jukebox, which is right in front of the restrooms. So I was milling about and then I noticed this group of people where some of them were wearing nametags that read, �Hello! My name is NaNoWriMo.� I started chatting and they soon had me writing down my email for a Yahoo! Group that the woman organizing the event here in Seattle was planning setting up. You can visit it here:

Yahoo! Groups : seananowrimo

Walked home with Christine who told me some about her life and ambitions with writing. I was naturally a little stoked from the meeting so I got online and logged into Planet Out�s chat room found my werewolf friend and chatted for a bit before going to bed.

I have to work Saturday morning early. My schedule at City People�s mercantile runs Tuesday through Saturday, but Saturday is the odd day in that I have to come in to work at nine forty-five rather than eleven forty-five. Needless to say, I am usually dragging Saturday morning.

Email is one of the first things I ignore when I am under the pressure of a deadline. That�s why I am posting in my Blog instead. Anyone needing to check up on me can read this and send me an email. Not that the information you are looking for is here. I have to admit I don�t know what anyone would expect from this log outside of myself. I have a tendency to be wordy so I doubt many people read much past the current post.

Turns out Carolyn had wanted to attend the NaNoWriMo gathering and I had just missed her when I called about it Friday. So Saturday night after work I took her out for a cheap Asian dinner and a movie, �Waking Life;� which I do recommend if only for the ideas it contains, difficult watching though. On a side note, Christine from Friday night was working there; she hadn�t mentioned she was doing part-time work.

Sunday did accord me another hour catch-up since Daylight savings time occurred. But I still showed up a little early to brunch at Charlie�s. I went home after and tried to rest but found my projects too pressing. Even so, I wasted time doing nothing constructive. Then I got ready for Fetish Night at the Vogue, this time wearing stage makeup that turned out well. I took pictures when I got home which I will post on my main page soon.

Here it is Wednesday after all that. I got the changes I needed done Monday evening and my client wrote back saying they liked my work. There is always a pleasant feeling of satisfaction but I am still sleepy and unfocused.

Friday, October 26, 2001

I have not read much this week. Someone did bring several interesting magazines into work. I did read something in �Index,� an �Interview� type magazine that has stayed with me. I first picked the article to read because it was an interview conducted by my favorite cartoonist Dame Darcy who regularly does �Meatcake� for Fantagraphics. She was interviewing Carol Channing who has always been interesting. In the interview she admitted to going to school with the same man who was responsible for the Japanese Fleet that was involved with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She remembered him because of watercolor sketches he painted for her at twenty-five cents apiece.

I am feeling sleepy this morning. I stayed up pretty late last night trying to finish work I�d promised Pistil Books. I didn�t get it done. I probably won�t finish until next week because I am trying to streamline most of the pages so I can make more global changes easier. This involves determining what stays the same on any group of pages and creating a template that generalizes everything but those elements. Then I have to attach the new template to every page it affects and delete the repeated information while making sure that the format for the page remains. I have about twenty pages to do this to.

I am also re-designing the graphics on the front page with new labels that is a work intensive process. Once I have the labels where I want them I have to import the whole image into Photoshop and break it up into sections then copy each section to its own gif file. The picture is reassembled on the web page using tables so that each label can be assigned its own link to its corresponding page. Quite simple process really, but as I said work intensive.

I still have the book Nancy loaned me sitting on my nightstand. It is a Buddhist text called �The Places You Fear� or something like that�I�m too lazy to go get it right now. I�ve been carrying around the collected short stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald and I am about halfway through the volume, but I have to admit my interest has waned some with my attention being focused on writing. I have the biography of his life sitting on my nightstand, which I also read half of and then set down. Seems I am only interested in the early part of his life and writing. Sarcasm warning! That last comment was very untrue.

My werewolf friend chastised me for allowing sarcasm to color my emails to him earlier this year. I don�t know why I am not more aware of my own tendency to stretch the truth although I know when I do it. I suppose growing up by myself has something to do with it. I felt very isolated in my youth. I think I need to expand that section of my biography although I�ve been dragging my feet with updating that section of my web page.

I want to create separate pages each one dedicated to a different year of my life. Would that seem too daunting to read? I could create a timeline that would have highlights pointed out, and then you could click on a highlight and go from there. Hmmmm�

See the problem is if I don�t go and make notes of this change I might never do it. Still, I think the timeline idea is intriguing enough that I might just follow through. It doesn�t answer why I need to document my life, I don�t feel like I�ve accomplished anything so far to garner anyone�s interest. Of course if I start writing 1,666 (I think I like the fact that that number has �666� in it) words a day posts, then most of my web page is going to be daunting.

I am just feeling scattered today. Here it is already ten o�clock and I have only written one page so far. About six hundred words so far. I think I will go over to my nightstand and see what I have there.

Okay, here is the list of things on my nightstand as of today:

First there is my dream journal which I haven�t strictly written just dreams, and it is pathetically empty, but I don�t have a deadline when it needs to be filled so I guess it will always be random and free styled.

There is a brochure published by the Literary Program of Bumbershoot 2001 which I picked up because it is filled with what I suppose are local writers, poetry and such. I haven�t really read it but I like the fact it is printed on stiff cardboard and seems like something you just might hold onto for sometime or as a memento of the occasion.

I didn�t mention that I still don�t have cold water in my apartment. They just started banging on the pipes. Sorry, I need to focus here�

Next is the F. Scott Fitzgerald biography, �The Far Side of Paradise,� a paperback that Amy of Pistilbooks gave me to read. Actually it was something she was going to throw or give away.

Another Pistilbooks give away is another paperback of Fyodor Dostoyevsky�s The Possessed. Dostoyevsky is what I remember my friends who were smarter than me read. I have little interest outside of who he was as a writer. The prose seems old and musty, the subject seems depressing and the book is thick enough for me to avoid reading. I am such a picky reader. I may read it out of desperation one day, though.

The book Nancy lent me is called, �The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times�. I am about halfway through that so far. It is very cleanly written while detailing the basic concepts of Buddhist thought. I found it easy to read although it can be fairly dry reading. I need to talk about my spiritual path in another one of these essays I think.

�Teleny� by Oscar Wilde and others. Jon Macy sent this book to me so that I could read the prose that his graphic novel is detailing. I have to admit that the Victorian language makes it a leisure read, so I have to admit I haven�t gotten much past the first chapter. I love the cover the most which alternates luridly color headshots of Oscar Wilde, ala� Andy Warhol, with men�s buttocks.

�Eight Steps of Happiness: The Buddhist Way of Loving Kindness� by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. I purchased this last spring at the end of a meditation series that I was attending so that I would have something to study during the break between series. Again I�ve stopped halfway and not been motivated to pick it up again since.

�The Agony of Lewis Carroll� by Richard Wallace. This is one of those print-on-demand titles we hear came with the advent of Internet publishing. I picked it up during my tourney in hell when I made the mistake of working for Amazon.com at their Seattle warehouse. I could go on and on about how that company is mismanaged by business school graduates who don�t have any �real world� experience. Anyway, I thought it might reveal some light on my own confusion about Lewis Carroll�s life and whether or not he was a pouffter or a pedophile. Unfortunately the first half of the book makes its conclusions by playing the sort of word games Charles Dodgson engaged in, a logical theory, but specious unless you have evidence for the conclusions you come to, unfortunately if Charles Dodgson kept a key book to all his cryptic asides and allusions it has been destroyed by now by his family. The book is only worth the read for the analysis of previous biographies of the man�s life.

�The Natural History of Make-Believe: A Guide to the Principal Works of Britain, Europe, and America� by John Goldthwaite. A survey of writing for children starting with the eighteen hundreds and focusing on books the writer unabashedly insists are seminal, but points out that�s his opinion. A very engaging book even though I�ve barely read through the introduction, which explains where the author is planning on taking it.

�Surrealist Women: An International Anthology� edited with introductions by Penelope Rosemont. I borrowed my friend Purple Mark�s copy of this and then realized that I needed to own the book. Can�t say I�ve read much more than the introduction.

�Drawing Blood� by Poppy Z. Brite. Started reading this summer until someone knowledgeable informed me that it was not her best work. So I stopped reading it and now it sits at the head of my bed.

�Angela Carter: Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories� with an introduction by Salmon Rushdie. My friend John Pearce lent me this book. Fabulous writer, fabulous stories, I�ve been leisurely wading throughout the prose which is varied, modern and �purple� all at the same time. Love it, love it, LOVE IT!

�Flowers of Evil: A Selection� by Charles Baudelaire. A must have surrealist/Goth text French/English edition with each language presented on opposing pages.

�The Toby Press Review 4�, a book catalogue. Sent in the mail�a bit stuffy but I keep it there in case I inherit a large sum of money, which I know will be spent all on books.

The spring and summer International Male catalogues for 2001. Can�t read all the time!

I am running out of time so I am going to have to fill this out later. Damn! I�ve only hit about 1,400 words today. The toll of sleep ensues.

There is filler here so I can meet my quota for the day, written after the fact, unfortunately.

So what is going to happen to these books? I can�t incorporate them into my bookshelf, which is already packed. I have boxes of books I�m not likely to read but I don�t want to loose these. I think after this marathon I will have to make some time for reading.

Word count: 1,675.

Thursday, October 25, 2001

This writing marathon is going to be a difficult challenge. Already I am short sleep because I am taking time to finish other projects that are as important. Last night I stayed up until almost three trying to complete a project that I�d promised one of my Internet customers.

That is one personal goal that has brought both satisfaction and confidence but also has been equally frustrating. My friend Carolyn�s concern for me this year, in regards to my attempting to find Internet related work during a recession, is not misplaced. I do appreciate that she feels I am being foolish, but my reasoning is if I am doing that kind of work now I will find more of it to do in the future.

I am still learning how to handle the delicate balance between communicating with the customer and setting my boundaries. My parents taught me to be generous with my work skills. I believe the more you invest in a job the greater the rewards in the long time, but that can be difficult to assess in the short term. Of my four current customers, two have paid me up front, one I�ve needed to trade work with and the final is questioning if we even have a verbal agreement. It is easy for me to forget that I�ve only been in business since April of this year and that these customer relationships take time to develop.

The cold water has been out in my apartment for two days. Not the end of the world, mind you, but you don�t realize how much you use until you don�t have it. I think I need to talk to Dad about getting some water storage containers to store under my bed for these emergencies. Perhaps the only reason I haven�t asked him yet is that I know he will give me the flimsy gallon milk containers that he takes camping (because they are free) and I purchased four ten gallon containers last year for Burning Man, only they were left at the Doctor�s garage and for all I know he threw them out. C�est la vie!

Work was a little tough yesterday at CPM (City People�s Mercantile). Two days ago, in a conversation with a couple of the other new cashiers it was pointed out that the reason I am scheduled so often to work on the floor merchandising instead of at the registers is because I actually do the work. I think the comment was offered speciously but it wouldn�t have been stated unless there was some truth to the matter. Unfortunately, my time is not very well utilized in this manner because I am often given diverse and unrelated jobs to do and it is difficult to focus when I am being bounced around into other areas of the store.

No matter where I am, the customers always target me for service because they remember my blue hair and associate it with their memory of my helping them successfully in the past. That is one reason I keep my hair blue for quick identification. I like people recognizing me even when they�ve never met me.

Apparently there was a CPM worker before me named Jesse, who was a musician and made several friends at the hardware store and on fifteenth. Several co-workers commented to me when I started working there that they first mistook me for him because we have the same stature, hair color and style and dress similarly. Since then I�ve been accosted on the street, honked at and otherwise mistaken for Jesse, only these people don�t realize I�m not him until sometime after they�ve encountered me. I have to admit I haven�t always been on my toes to work the situation to my advantage, but then I�ve often been late for work so my mind has been otherwise occupied.

I think some of my friends have not always recognized me because of that former association. They look at me and think, oh it�s that guy with blue hair that used to work here before and they don�t take the time to realize that they really do know me. No matter, I am not the only person in the world who colors his hair blue and as my friend Patricia Spencer likes to remind me it is no �new thing� either. She has a friend she grew up with in Baltimore who colored his hair various colors back in the sixties. He went on to become known as John Waters�s cinematographer as she likes to point out.

There was one low point in my day yesterday when my immediate supervisor corrected me for something I was doing wrong. She did it while I was working on the floor, which is highly unprofessional and which I understand is not general CPM policy. I don�t mind her casual attitude but you don�t correct an employee on the floor, that�s just not good management. Subsequently I spent the end of the day feeling weary.

Perhaps the highlight of my day was that my friend Jeff Hughes came into the store twice, once to drop off an application and then later to pick up some hardware. I�m not sure what he bought. He went this year to Burning Man with our mutual friend Chris Crounse. He also sent me some pictures that his roommate, Gabriel Porter took years ago at a party down in Olympia. They featured myself in a dress, Jeff and our now deceased friend Tod Streater. Which reminds me, my memorial site for Tod and Paul Doran has not been working since September, with no explanation from NBCi who had purchased the service. It is one more update to this site that I want to do but don�t have the time to complete soon. Oh, well, I�ll add that to the list.

I was able to join the NaMoWriMo club set up on Yahoo! This is a bulletin board set up for everyone who is joining the writing marathon. There is a lot of idle talk posted but every once in a while it seems there are some interesting comments made, so I will have to sift through the two thousand odd messages posted there in the next couple of days. There has been some discussion about outlining and plot development that makes me wonder if I shouldn�t come up with at least a cursory chart of what I am going to be writing about, but then I want to just write about anything.

I think I am a little afraid of the prospect of writing in that �novel� voice for 1,666 words a day. It will be a big stretch for me and I know I will uncover some stumbling blocks at first, but I have all my confidence that assure me that I will surmount all odds. Yeah, right!

Almost in response my werewolf has sent me the next installment of his �novel� or at least a follow up to the few paragraphs he sent me back in August. Which reminds me, if I get bogged down with writing this new novel I can always fall back on my novel I�ve been writing for the past eight year. I have plenty of material to work from. Anyway, I am happy to see the werewolf write. He has an obvious great talent there that I think he�s not explored much.

I did color my hair again on Tuesday morning. That was way past due. My roots had grown out at least an inch and there were parts on the ends that were fading almost to white. I feel much better that it is done. Now if I don�t color it again for a month because of the marathon (not bloody likely) it will still look okay.

Man! I still have the major yawns and I suspect that I will have them all day. And I need to pay rent and I need to update my finances and I need decide what I am going to do with all the unhappy creditors that have been stuffing my mailbox. Erf!

I hope the cold water get fixed in my apartment. I�ve had to fill the closet by hand from the hot water in the shower. What a chore!

I am grasping for filler at this point, unfortunately I am still sleepy and that doesn�t help my concentration. I don�t know how I am going to regain my rest. Tonight I am going to need to finish the changes I promised Pistil. After that I won�t be able to work on their site again until next Monday when Amy gives me the books to scan for the �picks� page.

Ack! I am running out of time to write. I have to be out the door early enough to stop by the bank and get a money order for rent. I could write a check but I�ve found the money is more likely to be there if I take it out myself than if I rely on the time between when I give it to my landlord and the time he deposits it which varies according to how the days of the week fall in a month. I think I really need to work on a cash only basis from now on. I�ve never been able to balance a checkbook or stick within a budget of my own. When I am dealing with other people�s money I do much better, but when I think of it as my own I mistreat it or at least spend until I don�t have any, usually adding fees and surcharges so I am in the hole.

Oh! I promised myself that I wasn�t going to talk about money on this site. It so depresses me. I never had any growing up so whenever I have some I can�t wait to spend it. It almost feels like I am a dry riverbed that springs to life during a flash flood, only I can�t live my life existing off �flash floods� of money. That is far too unpredictable. I really want stability and security in my life and I can only ensure that if I train myself to be responsible with my own money.

BTW, if you are reading this send me email and tell me what you think of my writing challenge. Am I crazy or what? Feedback is the only way I know that what I am writing here is being read or has any pertinence for you. What do you want me to write about? I can always use suggestions. It was great last week when a new email correspondent stated that he�d read the entire site, which I have to admit is an investment of time and focus. He stated he felt odd reading my �private� thoughts (the quotation marks are mine), which was heartening because although I feel very naked and exposed when I post these rambling essays these thoughts are hardly private; you�ll never know what I am really thinking.

Word count: 1,841. Writing time: approximately 1 hour forty-five minutes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Dick's Drive-In Restaurants

Afghanistan Studies - Afghanistan Resources - Directories - Taliban Links


I was late last night posting my essay to the site so this entry is going to be extra long. I like the length though. I really feel there is a beginning middle and end, even though I might be padding somewhere there. I think I need to start looking more seriously into marketing my writing. I�m just not sure how or where I should be doing that.

Last spring I contacted a local tabloid, �Tablet,� who was offering free print space to writers. I think they were less than impressed with my writing. I made the fatal mistake of misspelling the movie title I was reviewing. I don�t have much more impressive credits.

What I can�t understand is the dichotomy between people who seem to pay attention and people who are in power. Most people I�ve made friends with, after talking to me for only a short time figure out that I am an intelligent, if somewhat self-possessed individual. But it seems that I don�t even register to people who say what gets printed and what doesn�t.

I do realize that no one gets anywhere in America unless they market themselves. I just don�t want to be another Martha Stewart, who seems to feel justified that her feelings and emotions, no matter how whitewashed and gentrified, are marketable to Americans as genuine. I want to know that people read me because they understand I have something to say, or if I don�t, I at least know how to entertain them in my own unique way. I count Garrison Keillor as one of my heroes, although you will not find me resorting to any �Lake Wobegone� shenanigans unless I am really desperate for material.

Perhaps the days of Roy Rogers are over, where I can�t be noticed just because I am a witty, nice, likable guy. The world somehow has gotten too large. But you can still find penny philosophers just around the corner if you dare to look. I get the impression people have lost the ability to determine for themselves what is worthy. We live in a society saturated with information and most people can�t sort through it for themselves. We limit it to various media by how we consume the information.

I imagine most people rely on the flash and patter of television. Growing up without a television in the house, I became very aware how television teaches us how to behave and interact with each other. Often huge discussions of what someone watched on the television the night before would spontaneously erupt on during the one and a half hour bus ride I would take each day to get to school. I found I could interact with several people who�d not given me the time of day before.

So often what television teaches though is superfluous to daily life. Phrases and mannerisms enter the daily patois with little connection to anything we experience in our lives. I remember thinking the phrase, �where�s the beef,� suitably absurd and pointless even after I saw the advertisement that popularized it. And yet its comment on meal sizes in fast food America obviously hit a chord with people because it reflected an impression that corporate America had �down-sized� the average fast food burger.

In reality we were only seeing a corporate advertising war being played by a multi-national fast food chain, but it spoke to our distorted sense of justice and fair play. I�ve never been a big hamburger eater but the humble hamburger has been a staple in my diet since I was a small child and delighted in the simple experience of ordering takeout from the talking clown head at �Jack-in-the-Box�. I often stop by Dick�s on Broadway and order two plain cheeseburgers instead of ordering one of the �deluxe� sandwiches, which have maybe a couple ounces more meat, fat, some special dressing and lettuce and cost slightly more money. As far as I know, I am eating the same portion that they served back in the fifties when Dick�s opened.

What it all comes down to is that people are more likely to act like sheep, without discerning thoughts, when they allow others to choose what information they consume. I prefer the broad selection of the Internet, although I realize that in most cases the information is going to be shallow or cursory at best. Still I find it a quick reference and in national or international news there seems to be always more information to explore. For example, after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, I first limited my information to what I heard on the radio in the mornings and what I could help but hear at work.

Then after a week of limiting myself that way, I didn�t want to be consumed by the shock of it all, I broke down and did an extensive search for photos and general information on the Internet. I was late for work that day, but I was intrigued by the amount of personal accounts that I had at my fingertips. Even after that point all my favorite sites on the Internet referred back to the events and how they had affected everyone.

The world has really changed, but I don�t think many people really know how. The announcers on the radio talk about how fearful everyone has become. They talk about the downturn in the economy, the war in Afghanistan, but I haven�t heard them address the cost to our psyches. That the United States has declared war on Afghanistan seems absurd. The Taliban is not the Afghanistan government. I guess I really don�t understand why Bush declared war except maybe as a way to deflect attention away from his lack of domestic leadership.

My werewolf friend insists that there is a great psychic disruption that corresponds to the attack on the World Trade Center. He despairs because he cannot read the feelings and emotions that he says he felt were there before. I am reminded of the scene in Star Wars when Ben Kenobi senses the destruction of Alderaan. �I felt a great disturbance in the Force...as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.�

I can�t help but agreeing with him, there has been a great disruption in psychic energy, but I believe it has been felt on every level of existence, a bit like the atomic bomb. Man has used his own mechanical genius against himself. War is a terrible thing.

A week ago last Sunday; my friend Carolyn invited me to join her for dinner. I really have enjoyed cooking with Carolyn. Her only stipulation was that she was watching what she calls �Broccoli TV� or �television that is good for you.� In other words, she was watching a series documentary on the Canadian channel about Canada�s involvement in the First World War because she wants to learn more about Canadian History. The stories of the squalor at the front lines and the young boys sent to war were heart breaking.

I can�t help wondering if they ever have another draft, will I be called to war? Growing up I always contemplated the possibility of being a conscientious objector, I don�t believe combat is a reasonable way to handle international crisis. I don�t know what I would do if faced with the possibility of participating in a war.

I think if I had more faith in the leaders of this country I would have no problem going to war, even though I believe in pacifism. I understand the value of sacrifice for the greater good. But most people I know today do not follow that moral path. Nearly everyone at CPM is self-serving and individualistic. The only place I�ve seen anyone touting self-sacrifice outside of Christian religion is at the movies.

I feel like I�ve sacrificed myself before for the sake of others. Much of my romantic history is stained with self-sacrifice. The fact remains that I am no longer in any of those relationships. There was always a point when I could not take any more and I pulled away. On one hand I feel I was not being strong or courageous by taking more of the abuse or aloofness, on the other hand, I know leaving those relationships took a lot of courage, self-control and was ultimately the most practical thing to do.

My desire for a career where I am working for myself independently from any immediate employer, freelancing, in other words, comes from the despair and feeling that I�ve wasted the best years of my life searching for something unrealistic and intangible. I�ve always had dreams, but I�ve always been told how impractical and unrealistic those dreams are.

My Dad insisted that I was foolish to quit my job at the psychiatric clinic without having another job lined up, despite the fact that my job performance there was on a severe decline and would have become problematic if I�d stayed there any longer. My friend Jer objected my coloring my hair blue as being impractical in today�s conservative corporate atmosphere. My friend Carolyn keeps reminding me that it was impractical to consider work doing web design when the bottom dropped out of the Internet economy.

I have not lived one day without these truths eating away at my self-confidence and reserve. It bothers me that these people, who I call my friends and family, criticize me for making these difficult choices. But I know I will not rise to the challenge of making positive change in my life unless there is some obstacle blocking my path. My handicap is my own choice; therefore I know I can overcome its hindrance.

Word count: 1,619.

The Importance of Excellent Customer Service In a Developing Economy

I have to prepare for November�s month long challenge to create 50,000 words in thirty days. I don�t know if I can do it but I have to try; that�s 1,666 words a day or about two hours of typing, depending on how fast I can compose and type.

I�m trying to make this entry and every subsequent one meet the 1,666-word mark so I can judge how well I can do on a daily basis. I�ve never done any heavy wordage writing marathons before. Most of the time I write, maybe, 500 words a day unless I�ve had a very good experience somewhere and need to write everyone about it.

The only way I am going to be able to do it, I think, is to write about my day, which is not easy since it is just retail hell, day in, day out. Lots of people have the same pixilated impression that working for City People�s Mercantile (CPM) is wonderfully fun and casual. I would have to say casual, yes, fun�? Can�t say I�ve been really enjoying myself much.

First of all there are the customers: Capitol Hill has some of the highest rents and land values in Seattle due to its proximity to downtown. Fifteenth Avenue where CPM is located is in the center of a largely residential area that is highly populated with single family homes but it borders neighborhoods that house a large number of students and professionals in multi-family complexes. About five blocks south of CPM is Group Health, the largest HMO in the city as well as a couple of banks. Fifteenth has always seemed to attract an upwardly mobile crowd.

Many of the houses in the neighborhood are large Victorians that need a lot of upkeep, so it makes sense to have a neighborhood hardware store. CPM is unique in that the owner�s have tapped into the neighborhood�s quirks and desires by adding to the hardware cook wares, interior decorating, stationery, children�s toys, office supplies and art supplies. CPM is a mini department store.

Lots of our customers could easily drive out to the suburbs where you find Lowes or Home Depot (departments stores in their own right), but prefer to shop at CPM, just because we have fun things will more likely find in the kind of specialty store that you find in a mall or the inner city. In other words, they are looking for the personality of a small locally owned store.

Unfortunately, this customer brings a certain expectation from these other �corporate� stores. Coupled with a necessary lenient returns policy makes every day at CMP a challenge. I am a cashier and have been working there since June. I handle on the average five returns a day. With each return we are expected to fill out a returns form, which details every return. The majority of the returns are exchanges for other items and usually is easy to handle, leaving the customer happy.

At least two of those returns are things that need to be negotiated with a floor manager. Occasionally the floor manager is not available and we have to process the return using our own judgment. Rarely we have to deal with flagrant returns where the customer is trying to rip off the store. The people who try this are usually well dressed and affluent in appearance. You�d think people would have some dignity not to stoop so low. But the same thing goes for price switchers and shoplifters; they are usually people who probably don�t need the item they are trying to steal.

Every cashier is expected to handle returns and there are at least six cashiers scheduled for the day. While the average transaction takes one or two minutes, a return will take at least five minute, disrupt the flow of traffic in the front store area because shoppers lining up behind the return and slow commerce. At the worst times, customers just leave, sometimes taking product with them or setting it down in display areas. I feel a little sad for those impatient individuals, but I remember when I was on the customer side dreading the wait in line at CPM.

Most customers who bring in a return have an expectation that the whole transaction will take less time than a typical sale transaction. They become testy when we have to explain that they�ve brought in a return item that wasn�t bought within CPM�s very reasonable fourteen-day return policy. All this means is that we have to issue a store credit if the return is over $5.00, which is a very reasonable stipulation. Depending on my mood, I sometimes sympathize but usually I don�t, I just keep my mouth shut and follow the store policy.

Then there are the customers who think every cashier is an information kiosk. For example there is a counter at the front door where customers can drop off their film for processing and sometimes if a customer has asked, politely, to use a phone we allow them to use the one at that counter, but this is not a customer service counter. It is an easy mistake to make and I allow most people to distract me long enough to instruct them to get in line for service. Often they only have a simple question, but if I am in the middle of a transaction at the first register I have to be stern with some people and tell them to wait for their turn.

We really need a full-blown customer service desk where customers can ask questions and make returns. I seriously doubt any of my supervisors or the owners of the store will read this, I guess I will find out if I am disciplined for expressing my opinions on the Internet, but you will hear about that if that happens. I�m trying to be constructive here; you couldn�t call this essay as slander.

I just hate people coming up to you when you are obviously helping a customer already and call out to you like you are some farm animal. �Excuse me, excuse me, can you answer a question? Are you listening to me? Can you hear me?� Hello! Have you ever heard the word �Ignore� before? Well, that�s what I am doing to you�ignoring how rude you are� �Oh, did you have a question?�

Not only are they being rude to me, but they are being rude to the person I am helping. Still there is the dilemma of not knowing where to get information at City People�s. Where are the expectations of the customer? Why do customers act like three year olds?

After working there a month a booklet was pointed out to me where cashiers were recording exchanges with difficult and rude customers. I found after being there only a month I could have filled the book with anecdotes. At Pistil Books where we were encourage to write down the encounters with customers with the caveat that the more unusual ones would be included in their �zine, Pistil Prose, I rarely could come up with suitable anecdotes. Granted I only worked there on a very part-time basis, but can only assume the rude people I deal with daily at CPM do not read and would never set foot in a used bookstore.

I think people on cell phones during a whole transaction are next on my �rude� list, but I have to admit I pretty much don�t care anymore. If they are so absorbed in their life that they cannot acknowledge me as a human being, it is their loss, not mine. Tonight another customer in another line watched as a woman made a purchase while talking the whole time on a cell phone. As the woman was walking away she said to the woman, �don�t forget to say, �thank you,�� which I think was a very good way of pointing out the rudeness without compounding the problem. I suppose I could refuse to serve anyone talking on a cell phone. Then again it is really not my problem.

Let�s see, what else. There was the man who was purchasing a fancy doorknocker and started asking about using the restroom. I explained that the public restroom was closed indefinitely for repairs. When he questioned me about the situation for the employees I confirmed there was an employee restroom that was in an area that was generally off limits to customers. He became very indignant and insisted that he was not going to shop at a store that did not allow its customers to use the restroom. I calmly and coolly returned his doorknocker, making him wait further for the floor manager to appear to authorize the return.

Then there was the woman who came in insisting we�d sold a candleholder, although she referred to it as �my fishbowl�, that she�d asked to be held for her. This was a big green hand-blown glass vase made in Mexico from low quality glass. It was shaped like a round fish bowl but was on display as a candle holder with sand in the bottom and thin candles set in the sand. I suspect the glass contained a high amount of impurities and would have been unsuitable to use as a fish bowl.

Anyway, she kept going on and on about how the Saturday before near closing she�d asked to purchase the glass bowl on display and she�d been told that the display could not be dismantled and that the buyer would call her when the display was replaced. In the meantime someone had sold the bowl, perhaps to the woman�s decorating �rival�, and this woman was beside herself because we�d not contacted her first.

Who knows what really happened. There is a certain type of customer who comes in right before closing and wants to be waited on hand and foot. They often get short shrift because we are trying to close so we can go home. There are also other cashiers and managers who are not very conscientious and will often say anything to get a particular type of customer to leave peacefully. Unfortunately, this type of customer almost always becomes a liability for those who gave them short shrift. If I�d been on my toes, I�d have told the woman that while trying to take down the display the bowl was dropped and broke, but we could special order a new one.

In any event, that was what happened. Promising that a similar item would be special ordered calmed down the customer. A month and a half later the woman brought her purchase up to my station proudly declaring that she had �my fishbowl� and speculating that it would look so pretty in her office with goldfish in it. I didn�t have the heart to explain to her why it was being sold as a candle vase and not a fish bowl.

I can imagine her chagrin several months from now when her beautiful goldfish develop white trailing growths around their eyes and then eventually turn belly up. I guess someone could accuse me of potential cruelty to animals, but then who am I to deny this woman the joy of owning her own �fishbowl.�

Word count: 1,873.

Monday, October 22, 2001

NaNoWriMo !

This looks like a great opportunity. I can see myself slacking, but I have to at least take the challenge. I�ve already signed up, are you? 50,000 words in a month�that�s about 1,666 words a day, approximately two hours writing, depending on how fast you type. There will be days that I will have to skip so I will have to look ahead and schedule extra time. Perhaps I can plan for the two hours in the morning and supplement with evening hours. Hmm�

At least this will be a good enough excuse to avoid thinking about my pathetic life.

Friday, October 19, 2001



There are better stories elsewhere, but these comics reminded me of the naivete of the early underground stuff.

I've not felt like posting all week. I did get a great image for the index page. Purple lent me his blue leather top hat and I had fun Sunday wearing it to the Vogue. The past two days I've been fighting off a cold, which has put me out of sorts. I hope to be in a more active mind this weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2001

Seattle's TRUE VALUE Hardware Stores

I've been very critical of the management this past month for several reasons, so I've held off posting anything specific. My attitude at work though has been very low. I don't see it getting any better this season.

We just received our first paychecks from the new contract this week and although I am making more money, I can't help but say that I am still disappointed. I turned down a merchandizing job offer this week because it would have been only eight hours and would not have contributed anything to my salary. Also, it would mean I'd be managed by someone who does not have confidence in me, a state of affairs that would only depress me more.

I am seriously considering a third job for my mornings. I cannot meet my financial obligations with the income I have now. It is difficult to motivate myself when I know that the progress I make everyday only contributes in very small increments to pulling me out of my financial hole.

I've been good though. I haven't spent money frivolously like I did back in August. Last weekend I visited with Carolyn and Mark at Charlie's but didn't spend money. Mark gave me some blue fishnets. I know he misses my presence at the Vogue Sunday nights.

Instead Carolyn invited me over to help her make a copy of a "shredded" pork soup that she'd orders at her favorite Asian restaurant around the corner. The results weren't exact, partly because I seared the pork, but the soup really turned out fine and Carolyn said the curried rice turned out better than when she usually makes it herself.

I do have to say I very much enjoy cooking with friends. I've only done it a few times in the past, but those few times have always been choice. It is interesting to learn what other people's tastes and methods are.

I also loaded The Longest Journey on Carolyn's computer and walked her through the prologue. Jon Macy sent me the interactive adventure game last spring after he'd been blown away by the graphics and depth of the characters. I have to say it was far and away better than the vaguely misogynistic Circle of Blood game I played several years ago.

Amy of Pistilbooks.com has challenged me to write and exchange three pages on a weekly basis. So far our first attempt was feeble but I hope to do better in the near future. On another note, my other writing friend David H. stopped by City People's yesterday with boyfriend in tow to return a book I lent him. I hope he stays in contact; I really am inspired by his commitment to his writing.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Taliban, al-Qaida leaders targeted

Again I am shocked but not surprised, but this time at the US. Are we ready for the consequences of War? I'm not sure I am. The effect on people's psyche is evident in the fact that work has slowed. People are still uncertain about the economy, although a war is bound to have a profound effect. This is exactly what the conservatives want, but is it really the best way to deal with terrorism?

War is a horrible thing. The images of Vietnam still haunt me from my childhood and the results of Gulf War syndrome anger me. Still, I cannot condone the lives lost at the World Trade Center. Where are the results of compassion in this world?

Sunday, October 07, 2001

Rufus Wainwright

I've been listening to Rufus almost constantly since I bought the CDs back in August. His lyrics echo my own feelings and experiences that I feel like he's been looking over my shoulder. I've been infatuated with an outrageous notion that if we ever met there would be a meeting of the minds somewhere and we'd become inseperable friends. Then again, I let my imagination run away with me...

I've mentioned my adventures at Bumbershoot, but I didn't really comment on Rufus's performance. Meeting Scott in the line leading into the Opera House was such a treat and a coincidence that I've been loath to put that memory away by commenting or finalizing my opinions.

Recently I had a memory recall from when I was in Junior High School. For one semester I had a friend whose parents travelled around a lot. He spoke Greek and had an affinity for Conan comicbooks. I liked him a lot although I though he was a little difficult and squirrely. I don't remember his name, but the more I explore Rufus, the more I have this strange sense of deja vu regarding the memory of this friend.
sweetcherrie.com :: interact :: which rockstar is your rockstar boyfriend? take the test!

It's nice to know that I could be boyfriends with the lead singer to Radiohead, that was if he was available. I still hold a torch for Morten Harket of A-ha fame, though...but he went off an got married, had a kid and made some solo albumns. Not bad really, I checked them out a while ago on the web.

It must be a good day. Today went smoothly at work and tonight I stumbled upon a secret online world that I always suspected existed but never really had access to. Of course, I knew them all and one or two might know me now...if I made any of an impression at all...but the truth is I am just not of that frame of mind. They're all Leos and Cancers and Libras and such. Too bad us Taurus tend to be loners.

We're so loyal, guys! Befriend us and you will have a pal for life! Really! Which reminds me, had another close encounter at work with [insert code word for people who live in your world but don't act as if you exist] today. I'm going to have to think up what that code word might be..."the boys"? "personae non grata"? "the twin J's"? I don't know. Only those who know me will understand what that means and I've been pretty hermetic these days.

Yikes! That was a yawn! Night all!

Tuesday, October 02, 2001


I feel a balancing influence in the world. Words mumbled under the breath, give reassurance sometimes. The world has survived and believes it can relax a bit. I need to save my resources for the holiday onslaught. I don�t want to be caught holding onto negativity when I need to be effective and productive. I cannot let the little minds around me drag me down to their level.

Still, I am realizing more limitations to this electronic experiment. For moral reasons I cannot post my feelings frankly, I cannot even tell the people who need my opinions the truth because I sit in a room with only a few possible windows of escape and shutting them might send me in a wrong direction. I need to have breathing room but I have inadvertently left myself with only a tight space to work things out.

I will be much better in a few more months, so please check back with me in the late winter when the holidays have passed, I am bound to be in a happier mood.