New Beginnings and Bitter Ends

Crocuses are starting to sprout in my front yard, despite the fact that we’re still nowhere near Spring. The weather has been rather mild lately, and that’s probably the flowers are making their appearances. The shops are even selling daffodils and tulips already.

Today, we buried my grandfather. It was my first funeral. I am loath to admit it, but I didn’t really feel much. The only time I cried was during the elegy, and that’s only because it hit a few sensitive notes for me. Amongst the meeting of all the relatives and friends of the family, most of whom I’ve either never met or can’t remember their names, I realized that we really don’t talk much with our extended family. I have so many aunts and cousins that I’ve probably never even heard of.

Spring is the time of new life and, while we’re not quite there yet, it gives me pause to wonder about our tendency to forget the life that’s already there. I didn’t have much of a relationship with my grandfather in his final years, and I can’t really say that I will miss him, but if the tears at his funeral were any indication, his absence will still affect others.

I pray for my mother, my aunt and uncle, and all my other relatives who are most affected by his loss. He will be missed, but at least we can rest knowing that he is with God in Heaven now, happier. Maybe, when I get to go to heaven myself, I will be able to greet him with all the joy I used to feel as a child. I can only pray. I love you, grandpa.

Sick Days and the Joys of Working Retail

My grandfather on my mother’s side died the other day. The funeral’s this Friday. I managed to get my shift for that day covered, but my aunt says she’s worried about getting her shift covered where she works.

What I have gleaned from the few conversations we’ve had about her workplace is mostly that the manager in charge of writing the schedules must hate my aunt. On several occasions now, my aunt has requested to have certain days off, and then the manager books her for those days, without fail. Now, I’m pretty sure she should be able to get her Friday shift covered, because it is in Canada’s labour laws that employees get time off to attend family funerals. If not, then I’m convinced that my aunt’s manager is possibly related to the devil and I never want to work where she does. Ever.

On the topic of getting days off work, that seems to be a difficult thing to do where I work lately. The reason for this is that, it being cold & flu season, everybody’s getting sick. This includes one of the older cashiers who seems to have contracted a nasty case of pneumonia, if my sources are accurate, and has doctor’s orders to not go to work for the next I-don’t-know-how-many weeks and we are thus always short one spare cashier. I’m pretty sure she’d be back by now if she didn’t keep going outside to help her husband with whatever it is that he does and just stayed in bed like the doctor keeps telling her to do.

I’ll be honest, at this point, I’m starting to wonder if she shouldn’t just quit. She was off work for an extended period not too long ago as well; back problems, I think. She’s one of the oldest cashiers working there (I can’t say for sure where on the scale, though, as I’m not familiar with all the cashier’s ages), so she’s also usually got some complaint of a pain somewhere. Usually her back.

I get aches and pains too because of my fallen arches, but they’re not so bad as long as I keep moving and remember to wear my orthotics (doesn’t that make me sound so old?). The worst things about working cash in a grocery store is having to deal with all the obstinate customers that come in. Of course, most of them aren’t so bad, maybe they do one or two things that bug me a little but nothing major. What I’m talking about are the customers who are just so rude or clueless that you wonder why there isn’t a day that lets you be rude back to them without consequences. Because a day like that would be SO satisfying. 

Anyway, one of the smaller things these customers will do is ignore me when I say ‘hello’ to them, or just make some obnoxious comment about something or other. I always hate the bad jokes some of them try to give me. I don’t get dry humour half the time, and the times I do get it, it’s usually not funny anyway. 

At the grocery store where I work, it’s pretty small, we have the customer service desk combined with one of the tills and the lotto centre. That till is my least favourite to work on, but it’s always the first one we have to go on during the day (everyone shuffles down as each shift starts) to make sure it stays open throughout opening hours. It only ever closes when the scale or the debit machine go on the fritz. The biggest problem with this till, though, is not the presence of the lotto checking machine, nor the fact that it’s usually the one people go to when they’re looking for something, but the fact that it’s the only till without a conveyor belt. 

I can’t really draw it, but I’ll try my best to help you picture it. The counter space is one big corner, with the scale/scanner and bagging area at one end, and the scratch ticket case on the other. The middle area, the actual corner, is a large expanse of counter that I can reach over only if I bend over and stretch my arms out, and takes about two side-steps for me to get from one side to the other. You probably think that’s a lot of room, right? You’re exactly right. That’s the problem.

Sometimes, people will actually be considerate (coughsmartcough) enough to put the majority of their groceries within easy arms reach of me (who generally tries to stay within one step of the actual scanner). About half the customers tend to put their stuff closer to the middle of the counter-space. It’s not so bad, as long as I don’t have to take more than one step to reach it (though it does get annoying if they have a lot of stuff and I’m constantly stepping back and forth. It makes my arm sore after a while too). Then there are the customers who I really hate. They usually put their stuff quite a bit out of my usual reach (granted this is usually because there is a line) and then never attempt to move it closer to me, in spite of the numerous subtle hints I try to give them (I can’t outright tell them without risking reprimand, or turning into a horrible snark monster and then certainly receiving reprimand). The absolute worst are those who stick their groceries at the very end of the counter space for no discernible reason and then leave it there, expecting me to move it all myself. Then some of them have the gall to ask me to hurry up or ask me why I seem so moody (GEE, I WONDER WHY. WHY, DO YOU BLOODY THINK?!) They just stand there and watch me move each item over to where I can scan it, sometimes one at a time if I’m feeling particularly miffed and there’s no line. 

I would love to just tell those people outright, “Hey, you may or may not have noticed, but this till has no conveyor belt to conveniently move all your groceries close to me. I don’t know why you keep putting them so far away from me/at the very edge of the counter (yes, some of them do that), but please think about the fact that I have to do this for 8 hours. I am a human being, not a robot, neither a conveyor belt, so I would greatly appreciate it if you could move your groceries over to where I can actually reach them and not be such a prat. You will be saving me both time and energy, as well as keep me from possibly developing shoulder problems later in life. That would be much appreciated.” Then I would tilt my head and smile my most innocently evil smile.

Another thing that really irks me is when the customers just stick their baskets up on the counter and expect me to unload their groceries for them. Seriously?! There is not a grocery store in North America that unloads your baskets for you as a standard courtesy unless you’re elderly/have broken arms. Just because we still bag your groceries for you, doesn’t mean we’re your little grocery slaves!

 

Phew, that felt good! What a strange progression of thoughts, though. I should probably stop there for tonight. Basically, my point is, working retail is tough. Please remember that retail workers are people too. We have lives and bills to pay, all we ask is for a little respect and consideration. 

Got any retail gripes/stories you want to share? I’d love to hear them. Stick ’em down in the comments. Take care of yourselves. 

~TTFN

Late Night Musings

It is roughly 2am and I am awake. Not entirely of my own volition, mind you. As such, I have decided two things.

First: I have to stop drinking straight black tea. I usually take it with milk and sugar, but I sometimes drink it on its own. This is a mistake for me because it makes my heart go crazy and race and squeeze like when I’m crushing really hard on someone. I especially need to stop doing this before bed, because, as you can probably well imagine, it makes it difficult to calm down enough for sleep.

Second: I really hate my selective memory. Half the time I’ll forget things I need to remember, and I’ll often remember things I’d rather forget. It also has the tendency to bring up memories of stressful situations when I’m lying in bed and trying to sleep.

Let me tell you a little story.

This happened when I was doing my little solo tour of the UK. I was in Edinburgh and, being the crazy horror fan that I am, decided to go on a tour of some of the city’s most haunted places: the vaults, and Greyfriar’s Kirkyard. The memory that has kept me from going to sleep took place in the vaults.

Now, the vaults are these hollow areas within the big bridge in Edinburgh that have a less than favourable history, which I will not share with you here because it is very long and rather depressing. One of the vaults we toured is reportedly the most haunted vault of the entire bridge and may or may not be inhabited by a terrifying demon ghost. Please note that only people on this special tour can enter most of the vaults (save for the ones sectioned off and rented out as useable space).

So we go into this vault and the tour guide gets us all to gather inside it while she stands just outside the actual chamber (I call it that, but it had a rather large and unobstructed entrance to the rest of the tunnel). She lights up a candle and turns off her flashlight, setting the mood. (As a side note, I was standing near the back of the group, in spite of my usual fear of pitch black darkness –I think I was feeling really brave that night). Then, she starts telling us a story about a previous tour that had happened in that very same vault.

There’s a general rule in that tour company that children have to be a certain age to be allowed to attend. One Friday night (a time when a lot of drunk people attend the tours), a couple brought their young daughter for the tour, but assured the guide that she was accustomed to watching scary movies and actually handled them even better than her older brother did, so she was allowed to attend. While they were in the haunted vault, some of the drunks started to make spooky noises to be annoying. As is usual practice with the tour guides, their guide blew out the candle to get the drunks to shut up. In the darkness, the girl’s mother felt her daughter grab her hand rather tightly. The mother, assuming her daughter was scared, knelt down to try to comfort the little girl. But the girl only kept gripping her mother’s hand tighter and tighter until it got so painful that the mother let out a yelp. Of course, everyone immediately spread out from around her and the tour guide turned on his flashlight and shone it on the woman. While she assured everyone that she hadn’t been attacked by a ghost, she realized that her daughter wasn’t with her anymore. They started to look for the girl in the vault and eventually found her standing in the far corner of the chamber and facing the wall.

Please realize, now, that in the time it took between the woman shouting and the tour guide shining his flashlight on her, there wouldn’t have been time for the little girl to get to the corner.

When the mother brought the girl close to her again, she seemed really frightened. After they left the vault, the mother scolded the girl for wandering off and scaring everyone the way she did. The tour guide tried to reassure the girl, saying that she should have just told him she was scared and he would have let her hold his flashlight.

It’s what the little girl said that is keeping me up now with my lamp on.

She said that she wasn’t scared by the story the tour guide was telling, and not by the darkness either. She said that after the guide blew out the candle, she felt a hand leading her into the corner. Her mother scolded her again, asking her how she would have thought it was her mother leading her there. She said that she knew it wasn’t her mother’s hand, because that hand had claws.

 

After returning to my hostel from that tour, I couldn’t get to sleep. Above my bed was the smoke alarm, which had a glowing red light on it. You can imagine how it unsettled me. I had to actually get out of my bed and spend some time in the common area before I was calm enough to try sleeping again.

What’s always bothered me, though, almost as much as the creature with the claws, was one question. If the little girl was in the corner, what was holding her mother’s hand?

 

Anyway, that’s why I really hate my memory sometimes. Good luck sleeping, everyone. TTFN

Pieces of my Soul

I like to think of myself as something akin to a fairy. Rather, I think of the different facets of my personality to be fairies. That’s the way I like to picture it, in any case. They each have a name and represent certain traits I possess. I have even created pictures of them (with the help of the Dark Fairy Maker from Azalea’s Dolls) to illustrate how they represent me.

From left to right, meet Willow, Siren, Peasblossom, and Cobweb. I tried to put them in order of most to least dominant, but that can vary, especially between Willow and Siren.

 

Willow is my creative and more introverted side. She’s the main one behind this blog and the vast majority of my writing (sometimes with input from the others). She’s very shy and tends to space out a lot, but she really does care about others and hates conflict more than anything.

Siren represents my adventurous and mischievous side. She’s brave and curious, always ready to go out and explore new things. This fairy wants to go explore the world someday and is fascinated by other cultures. She also has a tendency to want to climb things.

Peasblossom would be my girly, childish, and playful side. When it comes to people, she’s even more bold than Siren, always being the first one to say hi and the most eager for a dance. She sings in public like she’s alone and fantasizes about boys a lot, both real and fictional. Above all else, she’s compassionate, and will do whatever she can to help a friend out of a bad mood.

Cobweb, as you’ve probably already guessed, is my darker and more anti-social self. She’s all the anger and negative moods I get sometimes, and the chief contributor of the Belladonna’s Journal series. She is the weakest of all my fairy-traits, however, so people don’t get to see her very often. There’s a chance she might also be my inner lazy person, but I’m not entirely sure.

 

Anyway, now you’ve met the personalities behind my work, and maybe got to understand me just a little bit better. Most of the time my moods and writing incorporate at lest two or more of my fairies into them, so I’m never quite predictable. That’s what makes it interesting, though.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for being my river sprites. Let me know what you think of my fairies, and tell me what sort of fairies you have fluttering around in your own head. I’d love to hear your stories. I love you guys!

   ~TTFN

 

Note: Edited on April 16, 2015. I wasn’t entirely happy with how Siren looked, so I gave her red hair instead and altered the lineup.

 

“Seven Years” by Norah Jones

Spinning, laughing, dancing to her favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong is all alone

Eyes wide open always hoping for the sun
And she’ll sing her song to anyone that comes along

Fragile as a leaf in autumn
Just fallin’ to the ground without a sound

Crooked little smile on her face
Tells a tale of grace that’s all her own

Fragile as a leaf in autumn
Just fallin’ to the ground without a sound

Spinning, laughing, dancing to her favorite song
She’s a little girl with nothing wrong and she’s all alone

A little girl with nothing wrong and she’s all alone

Some of you may have already noticed, but I love Norah Jones’ music. She has a great voice and such meaningful lyrics that are really easy to connect to. I grew up listening to her whenever my mother had a dinner party, so how could I not know half her songs by heart and use the lyrics to title some of my posts?

This particular song always resonated with me, particularly back in high school when I felt the most alone. Back then, I didn’t have many friends, and even fewer who were girls. Every time I would ask one of my classmates if they wanted to hang out after school, they’d give me some excuse why they couldn’t, and I was always the last to find out about a party, after the fact.

I wouldn’t necessarily say this was my favourite song of Norah’s, since she has so many amazing ones that I’m not even sure I could choose one, but I do consider this to be my song in a way. I thought I’d share it with you here because I know that there are probably others who are like I was, and it always feels better to hear your feelings put into a song as beautiful as this.

Aside from Norah’s amazing voice, I always liked the simplicity of the instrumentals. The gentle thrumming of the guitar and the flowing notes of the piano complement each other so perfectly. My favourite version has always been from the “Come Away With Me” album.