Posts Tagged ‘Kids5B’

You may not need a recap of three previous parts of ‘Deus Ex Machina’, particularly if you are a binge-reader… I do, just because I’m struggling to balance a short attention span and a long interruption…

Back in February and March, I had gotten myself into serious trouble at Giovanni’s culminating in a ‘Step II disciplinary meeting’, which was essentially a meeting to convince management that I still wanted my job and that I could, if given another chance, ‘straighten up and fly right.’  Difficult.  On one hand, even on bad days, waiting tables is both profitable and interesting.  Given my A.D.D., the constant mental stimulation as a waitress may actually be more important than my tips.  Although as a spendthrift with a fashion addiction, the tips are pretty damn important.  On the other hand, I had been crashing rather than flying because I was completely overwhelmed as a single parent with no support net.  Trying to be a good enough mom for Piper was burning me out and exacerbating my A.D.D, which only left me even more overwhelmed.  So while I desperately wanted another chance, if I had possessed the slightest clue on how to regain control of my life, I already would be doing it… another chance was only another chance to make the same mistakes.

One of the ways I had tried to regain control was interviewing for the job at Thatchtower gallery, but after the interview, Cao Richards had been avoiding me.  The day before my step II, she sought me out (part I) to introduce me to Conner, the man who actually got the job for which I interviewed.  She also let me know (part II) that I actually had a second chance at the same job if I interviewed a second time with Carlton Thatcher.  That night, (part III) I met up with Carlton at a Thai restaurant in the Oregon District, and the interview went well.  I got the job!

Casually dressed to meet my fate…. Firefly BBQ Softball Jersey by Sn@tch Laica Pants from LC's World of Fashion

Casually dressed to meet my fate….
Firefly BBQ Softball Jersey by Sn@tch
Laica Pants from LC’s World of Fashion

I actually felt pretty good, possibly even sassy, as I bundled Piper with me into the Step II meeting.  I still needed and wanted my job at Giovanni’s, of course.  The Thatchtower job is part-time, and the base pay isn’t much more than minimum wage, although whenever Carlton makes a sale, the bonuses trickle down nicely.  In addition, I have very good insurance through Giovanni’s; the restaurant even pays half of my premiums and a quarter of Piper’s.  As a part-time assistant, I wouldn’t qualify for insurance through Thatchtower.  What Thatchtower did have was on-site daycare that they would even let me use when I wasn’t actually on the clock.  I was overwhelmed as a single parent with no support net, but Thatchtower offered me some rudimentary support.  I had been frustrated because I couldn’t see a way to regain control of my life, to break the pattern of one-step-forward-two-steps-back that haunted everything I tried to do since Piper was born.  I just had to tweak my Giovanni’s schedule a little bit- cut out my weekday lunches so I could work at Thatchtower, work three or four nights plus Thursday and Saturday lunch so I could keep the twenty-five hours a week to keep my insurance going, and everything would finally be working out for me.

Sitting at the party table in the corner of the restaurant with Stefano, Jonas, Joe, and Justin before the restaurant opened, I explained that.  I’m sure I bubbled pretty enthusiastically, both because I was excited about the game-changing prospect of decent daycare and because poor filtering between impulses and words is an A.D.D. hallmark.  So I felt a little ambushed when Stefano didn’t share my enthusiasm.

“Let me get this straight.  You’re in Step II because you’re generally late, because you’ve missed shifts, because you’ve manipulated and altered the schedule without permission, and your solution is you want to rewrite the schedule for your convenience.”

The words, “You make that sound like a bad thing,” were already forming on my tongue, and probably wouldn’t have helped the situation, so it’s just as well Stefano continued on relentlessly.

Hair & Headband: Despina from Tameless Hair Bollywood Make-up from Errant

Hair & Headband: Despina from Tameless Hair
Bollywood Make-up from Errant

“Everyone knows dinner shifts are more profitable than lunch shifts.  You’ve been unreliable enough to put your job in jeopardy, and you think I should ‘punish’ you by giving you the best shifts, you think I should take night shifts away from servers who haven’t screwed up so you can have them, you think I should be grateful that you still deign to work one lunch a week when that’s just to keep me paying for your insurance…  Where do you get off, Emily?!?”

I glanced quickly at Joe and Justin.  Justin looked like he shared my opinion that the meeting had grown painfully awkward very quickly, but he also looked like he’d just rather be elsewhere, not like he was going to stick his neck out for me.  Joe and I butt heads a lot, so Joe was actually smiling at my discomfort.  Jackass.  “Steve, I’ve worked here almost five years, and I thought you knew me by now.  I invest a lot of ego in being good at whatever I do, and I’m competitive enough to define ‘good’ as ‘better than my coworkers’.  I bust my ass to make sure that Giovanni’s is the sort of place customers want to come back to, to make sure my tables have the dining experience I would want, and to make serving look easy even when the kitchen is a train wreck and the host stand is a cluster fuck.  Yeah, I do it so that customers want to tip me, but I also do it from sheer bloody-minded, arrogant pride.  I know I’ve been off my A-game since Piper was born.  I want to be just as good a mother as I am a waitress, and I’m not, and I’m burning myself at both ends trying to make things work.  I’m in this inutile meeting- pardon my French, I meant to say fucking- because we both know I’m too valuable an employee to just fire, and you wanted to make sure I knew that if something doesn’t change, you will have do exactly that.  Well, I found a way to change things, because I love my job, and I’m good at it, and I want to make it work, and I thought you’d appreciate that.”

I must have been a sight as I finished.  Red-faced, eyes flashing, so angry I was trembling.  Stefano drew a deep breath, ready to blast back at me with both barrels, only to be interrupted by something neither of us expected.  Jonas clapped a few times, slowly, and said “Bravo, little firecracker.”

Body: GiGi shape by Kids5B Skin: Celine II from LC Fashions

Body: GiGi shape by Kids5B
Skin: Celine II from LC Fashions

Stefano, Justin, and Joe all stared at Jonas with mixtures of stun and confusion on their faces, and I’m sure my expression matched.  “Stefano, we’ve got a good crew.  We’ve got a turnover rate that other restaurants should envy.  Our staff is competent and comfortable and consistent and content, and those are all very good things.”  The stun was clearing from everyone’s faces, but the confusion was only strengthening.  “But for most of our staff, Giovanni’s is just a job.  It’s a better job than most, which is why they stay, but it’s still just a job.  Emily is passionate.  It’s not ego or arrogance, it’s pride and that’s something we need, and something you can’t train into people.”

I’d like to claim it was my sense of maturity that kept me from sticking my tongue out.  Truthfully, I didn’t think of it at the time because I was too busy being scared about what would happen next.  Stefano disagreed with his father’s view of my ethic, and argued that reliability was more important than pride, and I wasn’t reliable anymore.

“Pshaw!” scoffed Jonas.  I thought ‘Pshaw’ was a literary convention, an exclamation only used by writers to represent more generalized impatient disdain, but Jonas actually pshawed his son.  “Machines and tools should be reliable, Stefano.  People can’t be a hundred percent reliable, but proud people are more likely to rise above than to let you down.”  Stefano tried to interrupt to classify me as one of the let-downs, but Jonas overrode him.  “You weren’t here the day Emily went into labor, and I was.  Her water broke in our restroom, she was freaking out, and she was still worrying about taking proper care of her tables.”  I  remember that day well, and I would say it was probably shock not dedication driving my worries about getting table 302’s order in, but this was no time to argue with Jonas.  “Emily will move mountains to give customers the experience she thinks they should have.  Look, Stefano, she doesn’t even realize she’s nodding agreement.”  I stopped, a little self-consciously.  “It would be better if she would move mountains to give customers the experience we think they should have, if she was driven by pride in Giovanni’s rather than pride in herself, if she would be a little quicker to follow instructions and a little slower to question authority.  But she’s right: her pride, her initiative, makes her too valuable an employee to just fire.  If Emily was like most employees in Step II, sniveling for one more chance, I’d say give her the one more chance and then fire her ass.  If she tried to deny she had a problem, or claim that other servers were a bigger problem so we should let her slide, I’d be the first to throw her ass to the curb here and now.”

Ah, yes.  There was the warm, fuzzy Jonas I generally expect.

“But Emily didn’t just show up today, she tried to find a solution to the problem.  She just wants us to work with her so she can continue to work for us.  That’s fair, Stefano.”

Another surprise.  Steve didn’t argue with Jonas.  He just sighed a little.  “Maybe it is fair to work with her, but Emily still wants to move away from shifts I already have trouble finding people to work, particularly while college is in session, and towards shifts where I don’t have enough openings on the floor for the servers who want to work.  I don’t have full time hours to offer her with that kind of availability.  I can work her part-time for a while.  The insurance is based on average hours per week, so it will take time for average to fall below twenty-five hours per week, and then take some more time for the paperwork to notice her average fell and to cut the insurance off.  Sooner or later, though, she will lose her insurance.  Maybe someone will move on or change schedules so we can up her hours again before that happens, but maybe not.  I’m not going to fuck someone else over to give more shifts to Emily, particularly while her dependability is in doubt.  That’s not fair, either.  And two lunch-shifts, one, maybe two dinner-shifts.  That’s under twenty hours, under fifteen hours a lot of weeks- it won’t take long for the insurance to go bye-bye.”

“What about that computer stuff Emily does?” asked Jonas.  “You’re the one talking up why Giovanni’s needs social media, so why not hire our blogging waitress to do social media stuff for us?”

I’ll admit I briefly zoned out of the conversation.  I was startled enough that Jonas knew about my blogging that I jostled Piper and she started to fuss and I had to rock her back to sleep.  Plus I was growing a little sickly pale as I tried to remember exactly what I’ve written previously about Giovanni’s in general and about Jonas and Stefano in particular.  ‘An asshole with some redeeming values’ no longer seemed quite the deft turn of phrase it once did.  When I zoned back in, Steve was saying Giovanni’s still had a very small digital footprint, and that they wouldn’t need enough computer time from me to get me to full time status.

It was Justin who exclaimed ‘Billable hours!”

Jonas verbalized the thought everyone was thinking: “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“If you take your car to the mechanic’s, you pay both for parts and for labor.  If you hire an attorney, you pay for the hours that go into working your case.  But you don’t pay for how long your specific job actually took, you pay according to a list of how long general tasks will be assumed to take.  For example, changing brake pads might be assumed to be an hour or an hour and half’s labor.  Most of the time, an experienced mechanic with a full shop can do it in fifteen to thirty minutes.  Occasionally, something is really screwed up and it might take two or three hours.  Regardless, the job takes the hour as far as the bill is concerned.”

“Um. Can I refer us all back to Jonas’s previous question?  I’m still not sure where you’re going, Justin.”

“No, look.  We’ve talked about this is some of the marketing courses I’ve taken.  A salaried, full-time social media marketeer makes fifty or sixty thousand a year.  If Giovanni’s hires a free-lancer, we’ll have to pay him twenty dollars or more an hour.  Emily lacks the marketing degree of the true professional marketeer, so she can’t expect to make as much.  Conversely, she knows our business better than an outsider and she’s going to stay in contact if she’s coming in regularly to serve.  So we have to negotiate a little on a fair rate to pay Emily to be our marketeer anyway.  So why don’t we just say she will officially receive minimum wage, and instead negotiate how many hours she will bill us for.  It won’t make a difference on her pay check if we pay her two and half hours at eight bucks per hour or one hour at twenty bucks, but the extra padding on hours will help her keep her insurance intact.  After a few months, once we see how she’s doing, we can keep going, renegotiate, or call the experiment off.  Worst case scenario, we’ve still postponed the point where Emily’s insurance expires and given us more time to rearrange the schedule.”

And that’s how I ended up gaining a second hat to wear at Giovanni’s, that of ‘social media consultant.’  I basically tweet about our specials twice a day, occasionally post pictures of meals on Instagram and Facebook, help write copy for each month’s ‘Monthly Specials’ insert in the menu, and sometimes send shout-outs to some of our regulars.  If I’m nearby, I’m probably drafted for anything in the restaurant that involves the written word, so there are lots of random little chores in the job as well.  I’m also the only waitress who has permission to be on my phone while I’m waiting tables, which is a cool perk.  (Mind you, most of the waitresses still read and send texts and update their Facebook from the side stand when they think nobody is looking.  But I’m actually supposed to find at least one thing to send out during my shifts…)

…Info about tagged vendors is in my closet

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I’m interrupting the ‘Deus Ex Machina’ series, which explains my current work situation, to bubble enthusiastically about a recent ‘mommy’ experience.  Tammy, another research assistant at ThatchTower, has two boys, Dean and Mikey, who are complete handfuls.  Mikey recently turned six and Tammy threw him a pool party at the local rec center.  She invited several kids from Mikey’s class at school and their parents, but didn’t get much reply, so she also invited the other Thatchtower moms.  I was going to decline.  As the newest research assistant, I don’t really know Tammy that well yet and Mikey hardly at all.  As the newest mom, I wasn’t all that keen on bringing Piper to the party either.  One of the few things I know about Mikey is that he loves babies.  When he’s in the nursery at Thatchtower, he wants to help and to hold Piper or Brooklyn (the other baby in the nursery, about nine months old, not as cute as my baby, however!).  Given that Mikey doesn’t seem to understand that babies are fragile and doesn’t listen well, however, his ‘help’ must always be very closely monitored.  Plus, Piper isn’t even six months old, and doesn’t walk or crawl yet.  She definitely doesn’t swim.  She wiggles and rolls well enough to get herself into trouble, she just doesn’t have enough mobility to give someone else time to get there and rescue her.  So I foresaw a pool party as spending an afternoon on high alert doing over-protective mom-watch of my baby, something neither relaxing nor fun.

Fun and relaxation: what pre-Piper pool parties were like… Jewelry: Graffiti Bangles (Grumble, Grumble); Black Choker (source unknown)

Fun and relaxation: what pre-Piper pool parties were like…
Jewelry: Graffiti Bangles (Grumble, Grumble); Black Choker (source unknown)

It was Tori, Brooklyn’s mom, who persuaded me to come.  Like me, she’s a single mom who doesn’t get out much.  She also has a warmer heart than I do, I think.  I figured Mikey doesn’t know Piper and I well enough for us to add much to his party, that inviting us was probably a polite gesture on Tammy’s part or less likely a “more guests = more presents” calculation.  Tori pointed out that people’s motivations are rarely one-dimensional, so either or both of those might go into the mix, but that Tammy’s biggest motivation was to make Mikey feel special and loved, to be a ‘winner’ at his party.  Ideally, more of his school friends would have been coming, but for Piper to be there was still an indication that other kids and small people wanted to be around Mikey to help celebrate his special day.  In many ways a bad party- one where Mikey didn’t have anyone with whom to play and share his new six-hood- would be more tragic and painful than no party, and Tori and I could help make sure Mikey had a better party by giving him the chance to share his birthday with Brooklyn and Piper.  Put that way, how could we not go?

The party was at the local rec center that Saturday.  Tammy had signed out a room from three to five so everyone had a place to eat cake and watch Mikey open presents.  The indoor pool would actually be open until eight, although Tammy said she and the boys would probably only stay until about six.  I worked a quiet lunch shift at Giovanni’s, getting out around two thirty, scrambled to get Piper and myself ready, and tried to slink quietly in about quarter ’til four.

Skin: something (somebody) Tattoo: Bad Girl (somebody) Swimsuit: Green Mini Bikini (Grumble, Grumble)

Skin: Britney (WoW Skins)
Tattoo: Bad Girl (UtopiaH)
Swimsuit: Green Mini Bikini (Grumble, Grumble)

‘Tried’ is the operative word.  Mikey had started opening his presents, so everyone was watching him.  Which meant every one saw Mikey yell, “Baby Piper came!  Look, Mommy, baby Piper came!” and put down the present he was in the middle of unwrapping, grab up a Nerf ball sitting next to him, and come rushing to where I was struggling through the door with Piper’s carrier and a gift bag, asking, “can I show baby Piper the ball Uncle Conner got me?”.  So much for a discreet entrance.

The high point of the party for me, however, was definitely taking Piper swimming for the first time.  Well, really, holding her while I waded into the pool.  I was hoping to see her love the pool, splashing and kicking while she jabbered her cheerful, happy noises.  I wasn’t going to be surprised if she instead hated the pool, going zero to tizzy and crying and fussing.  Although Piper is generally a happy baby, she isn’t at all slow to let you know when something does displease her.

Hair: Britney- chocolate (from Freebie Fever) Shoes: Aloha Pink Scarf Sandals (Grumble, Grumble) Shape: Gigi Teen (Kids5B)

Hair: Britney- chocolate (from Freebie Fever)
Shoes: Aloha Pink Scarf Sandals (Grumble, Grumble)
Shape: Gigi Teen (Kids5B)

Instead as I lowered her into the water, she got very quiet.  Her eyes got super wide, two huge circles in her little tiny face.  She looked at the pool, then looked up at my face.  She looked again at the pool, and then looked at me again.  As a mother, I constantly talk to Piper, and often put words in her mouth, making up what I think she would say.  Her facial expression clearly announced, “WTF?!?  This is the biggest kitchen sink I have ever seen…”

…Info about tagged vendors is in my closet

I had expected Cao Richards to tell me a get-together with Carlton Thatcher, owner of Thatchtower Gallery, her boss, and potentially my future boss, would have to wait until I had a sitter lined up.  Instead, she had laughed warmly.  “Children are like roller coasters to Carlton.  They terrify him, but he loves them anyway.”

With rapid fire efficiency, Cao orchestrated a plan for me to meet with Mr. Thatcher.  On Mondays, her boss had a standing reservation to dine at Thai 9, a smallish Thai food and sushi restaurant downtown, about ten minutes from Giovanni’s.  Cao would call and revise his reservation to two people eating and a sling for Piper.  She would send Eddie, Thatchtower’s security chief, to bring us to the restaurant in his Crown Vic, and have him arrive a little early so there would be time to install the base for Piper’s carrier.  I had a little under an hour to get ready, and I should wear something sophisticated to impress Carlton.

'Something sophisticated to impress…' Outfit: Thai Passion (in pink) by [SINTIMACY]

‘Something sophisticated to impress…’
Outfit: Thai Passion (in pink) by [SINTIMACY]

As if on cue, Piper started screaming, bypassing standard “I-want-my-bottle-now” fussiness to go straight into a full-fledged “I-wanted-my-bottle-ten-minutes-ago,-why-am-I-not-already-drinking-it?” tantrum.  With an apologetic sigh, I released Cao from the line and plunged into a blur of activity.  As I record this after the fact, I have a mental image of whirring into a small tornado like the Tasmanian Devil, my arms reaching out to rock Piper, do my hair, apply lipstick, what have you.  Although I barely managed to get ready on time, I actually did it by the expedient of bad parenting.  I rushed through my shower, doing my hair, getting dressed, applying make up, and whatever other sundry details were required with Piper screaming hoarsely the entire time while I babbled and begged for her to, “Just be patient, little bucket, Mommy will be there shortly.”  Worse, whenever I let Piper have a protracted tantrum, her screams develop a gurgling quantity and I’m left envisioning pneumonia from getting tears into her lungs.  By the time I prepared the bottle, she was too upset to drink from it, continuing to wail even as I put the bottle’s nipple into her mouth and blew shushing noises at her.  Still, she eventually noticed I had surrendered and let her win the battle of wills.  Graciously, she deigned to drain about half a bottle of formula before falling asleep, smiling gently around the bottle still in her mouth.

The doorbell rang as I was easing Piper into her carrier.  I didn’t remember ever knowing Eddie’s name, but I recognized the muscular African-American with the shaved head and ill-fitting sport coat as somebody I had seen in Giovanni’s, occasionally with Cao but usually eating alone with some over-the-top paperback for company.  It was interesting watching his eyes as I let him into my apartment.  His gaze flickered around the room, taking a quick stock of my apartment.  Only then did he allow his gaze to travel up and down on me.  “Damn, girl, anybody ever tell you that you clean up nice?”

Skin: Meiko by Starrfox Tattoo: 'Love 2 Death' by Hell Doll Inked

Skin: Meiko by Starrfox
Tattoo: ‘Love 2 Death’ by Hell Doll Inked

I could have been offended, I suppose.  In another context, the line might simply be an under-impressive pickup line.  In the context of a company officer bringing a prospective new hire to dinner with the company’s owner, it was probably an actionable case of sexual harassment.  Instead, it was just what I needed to hear, someone telling me that even though I felt rushed and frazzled, I looked like I was put together.  The line even helped alleviate my guilt a little.  I still felt guilty about putting Piper on hold to deal with me-stuff, but there was less guilt about leaving Piper upset and accomplishing something then if I had left her upset while I spun my wheels pointlessly.

Thai 9 was … interesting.  I’m not an adventurous eater, and I don’t like a lot of sauces or seasoning.  Rather then appear indecisive before Carlton, I admitted I’d never eaten Thai and asked him to order for me, with the caveat that simple was better.  His response was to order a broad selection of dishes for us to share.  I made sure I tried every thing, but I can now honestly report I’m not a fan.  The one dish I truly liked was ‘American fried rice’; it isn’t really an American dish so much as a Thai idea of how an American would make a Thai dish, something invented for American service men during the Vietnam war.  Fried rice with ketchup, hot dog, bacon, and fried egg.  It sounds weird, but it is weirdly delicious.

Our conversation was mostly innocuous.  We started with some ice-breakers to put me at my ease: light discussion of basketball since the tournament was coming up, some discussion about the menu at Giovanni’s.  Although Cao and Eddie were both regulars, Carlton had never dined there.  He’d eaten- and liked- carry-out, he’d just never made it inside.  We then moved into what I thought of as ‘Interview 101’.  I often feel like, instead of an angel and a devil on my shoulders, I have a little critic sitting on my shoulder, making a running commentary on the world around me.  Even while I was answering Carlton’s questions, the little critic was observing that Carlton must not conduct as many interviews as Cao because his questions tended to be more general and predictable.  Questions that could be recycled for any interview for any job. “Where do you see yourself in three years?”  “What would you say is your biggest strength?”  “How do you think your coworkers describe you?”

Hair: Geisha Chopstick Hair by dede Maximus

Hair: Geisha Chopstick Hair by Dede Maximus

Which made it all the more jarring when he asked me the question, “Tell me about your family.”  Not in the ice breaker section, but in the middle of the interview.  And there’s not much to tell.  There’s me.  There’s Piper.  My dad, who’s a night sergeant for the Dayton Police in 6th district.  My brother, Norm, who is a Marine stationed in the deep south.  That’s it.  I suppose you could stretch a point and mention Norman Landings, my dad’s old partner who went into the private investigations and security business.  When Norm and I were growing up, we were encouraged to call him ‘Uncle Norm’ and he is Norm’s godfather.  (And unofficially, mine also, since I didn’t get a formally named godparent when I was a baby.)  I know Cao had mentioned me not mentioning contacts I had, but my family doesn’t count as contacts unless you need information about guns or police procedures.

“What about your mother and her family?”

“I don’t have a mother.”

Carlton frowned at me.  “By that you mean she passed-”

“By that I mean she is not a subject of conversation or interest.  I was nine years old when mom left.  The last thing she ever said to me was, ‘Tell your father I’m sorry,’ and then she walked out of our lives.  I don’t know where she went.  I don’t know why she went.  I don’t know if she is alive or dead.  I kind of hope she’s dead, which is a horrible thought, but the alternative is that she never sent Dad and Norm and me some kind of message in over fifteen years.”

I forced myself to stop, because I was raising my voice.  Carlton looked like he had just been pole axed.  It could have been an awkward moment, but Piper fussed in her sling, disturbed by the tension.  As I pulled her out and held her on my shoulder to soothe her, I continued quietly.  “I am sure I have repressed mommy-issues to sort out, but I generally just keep that kind of negative, non-useful emotion bottled up and shoved out of the way until I have a better time to process it.  There’s a whole painful mix of guilt and doubt and grief and hurt and shame, and bottled up, the mix has a tendency to ferment and distill into anger.  I’m actually ok with anger, because anger is a fuel.  Anger motivates and drives me to prove I can accomplish something or prove someone wrong, where all that other stuff just bogs me down into a morass of indecision.

Shape: Gigi Teen by Kids5B

Shape: Gigi Teen by Kids5B

“Piper is the single most important thing in my life.  If I let myself fear that I’m going to let her down the same way mom let me and Norm down, if I worry she’s going to somehow leave me like mom abandoned me, I’m worthless.  When I plug into my anger and my pride, when I’m determined to prove I’m a better mom than my mom was, when I’m demonstrating why I’m the best damn waitress in Giovanni’s, I’m amazing.  If I get hired for Thatchtower, I’ll need a little time to get my feet under me, but my ego will drive me both to get my feet under me quickly and to start outperforming my peers once I’m off the bench.  That way, I’m both providing and providing a good example for Piper.”

As I spoke, Carlton was tapping something into his phone with a stylus.  As I finished, he nodded.  “Obviously Conner was mistaken then.  The Cathmogha,” He paused, looking skyward as he tried to find the right phrasing, “a family he has worked for in the past, as well as a frequent buyer and seller of folklore related rarities, are a wealthy and reclusive Irish family.  Their middle daughter, Primrose, ran away to America almost thirty years ago.  I’ve seen pictures, and there is a strong similarity of feature between you and her.  The photographer, Elyssa Innes, also has some connections with the Cathmogha, as they have bought some of her pieces that Thatchtower has sold over the years and commissioned her directly from time to time as well.  Conner was certain that you were Primrose Cathmogha’s daughter, and I was wondering why you hadn’t mentioned your involvement with the Cathmogha or with Miss Innis in your initial interview.”

Remembering what Cao had said about Carlton liking children but not necessarily being good with them, I offered him the chance to hold Piper now that she had calmed down.  “I didn’t have either involvement to mention,” I explained while Carlton gingerly held Piper in the crook of his left arm and made silly faces at her.  I’d never heard of the Cathmogha, and I could laugh at the idea that Rose Bowmer Marik of Kentucky was secretly Primrose Cathmagha of Ireland.  As for Elyssa Innis, I’d actually met her responding to an ad on Wordout.Com a couple weeks after my interview with Cao.  I silently watched Carlton making silly faces for a brief pause.  Piper was smiling and drooling back at him, which was definitely a vote of approval on her part.  “Miss Richards said babies make you nervous, but you’re doing just fine with Piper.  You should relax a little more.  You know, Cao said you were looking for someone who already had connections in the world of art and rarities, and I have to confess that I’m not even strictly sure yet what constitutes art and rarities, so I know I have a strike against me.  But I work hard and I forge connections to strangers in my station on a daily basis, so I think I can do it.  I really hope you’ll give me the chance to prove myself.”

For the rest of the meal, we were back in small talk territory.  Carlton told a very funny anecdote about an argument with a customs officer about whether a Victorian bronze butter knife was a weapon or not.  I shared some stories about odd or silly customers I had waited on.  We both laughed a lot at the silliness of people.  Around eight, as Carlton was telling me some of the stranger Egyptian myths he knew about bones and spirits, his phone buzzed.  Cao was calling to usher him on to the next step in his itinerary so that he would be ready for his business trip the next day.  Eddie had been lurking outside the whole time, and brought me and Piper back to our humble abode.  Even as I insisted I could handle Piper’s diaper bag and carrier, Eddie carried them both into our apartment.  Again his eyes scanned the apartment before he relaxed enough to make eye contact with me.  “Good luck, girl.”

I hadn’t even been home five minutes before my phone buzzed with a text.  It was from Cao, and it said “Congratulations!  Call me and we’ll work out when you start.”

…To be continued one last time…

…Info about tagged vendors is in my closet

After my shift at Giovanni’s ended, I picked up Piper from my neighbor’s apartment and went home.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do that evening.  I nestled Piper on the couch in her Boppy pillow- she’s a bottle baby, but she loves using the nursing pillow as a miniature lounge seat- and flipped on some cartoons because the bright primary colors seem to soothe her.  As I sat next to her and sorted out my apron contents, I rediscovered the card with Cao Richard’s private number.  ‘Sooner rather than later,’ she had said.  I think I sat and stared at the card for fifteen  minutes or so.  Long enough anyhow for the cartoon I wasn’t watching to be replaced by a puppet show I still wasn’t watching.

I entered the digits into my cell, and stared at them a little bit longer.  Taking a deep breath, I pressed ‘send.’  And immediately thought, oh, shit, oh, shit.  I should have figured out what I’m going to say so I don’t sound like a stammering, dithering idiot if I have to leave a voice mail.  I should hang up now before it goes to voice-

My plus-one and I Dress: Cherie by Augusta Creations

Dress: Cherie by Augusta Creations
Jewelry: necklace by JStyle; rings/bangles by Loka Designs

“Oh, goodie, Emily, I’m so glad you called.”  Ms. Richard’s voice was warm and welcoming as she answered on the second ring.

“You did say ‘sooner rather than later’.” I replied.  “Can’t get much sooner than now.”  Inwardly I cringed at the banality of that particular conversational gambit.

“And in fact your timing is excellent, although I need to be brief because I still have three more calls to make.  So here are the important points: I interviewed a dozen candidates for the research assistant job.  My ideal candidate for the research portion of the job would be mentally flexible, good at multitasking, be willing to work in a team setting, and show initiative in anticipating Carlton and I’s needs.  For the gallery portion of the job, my ideal candidate would be pretty enough to distract potential buyers, good at soothing tempers or stroking egos when needed, and service customers based on long-term satisfaction rather then short term interests.”

I interrupted with a snort, “So far, you’re describing any half-way decent waitress.”

Hair: 'Saskia' in Black from EdelStore Flower: 'Gardenia Flower 1.2' (source unknown)

Hair: ‘Saskia’ in Black from EdelStore
Flower: ‘Gardenia Flower 1.2’ (source unknown)

“Exactly,” purred Cao.  “Which is why you were my first choice for the position.  Carlton favored Conner, however, because Conner has already developed contacts and associates within the social circles where we buy and sell.  Carlton thinks that networking is the most important trait in a candidate, because it both indicates existing aptitude for the job and serves as a multiplier, allowing them to leverage the talent they have more effectively.”

“I’m not plugged into anyone’s network. So why..”

Cao cleared her throat, interrupting my interruption. “I already know better than that, Emily.  Conner told us about your family and Elyssa told us some more.  In addition, Conner is keeping his other job, some kind of security consulting thing, so he negotiated to be on straight commission- not even a draw- rather than hourly.  Which means Carlton is open to paying someone else the hourly wages that would have been Conner’s if he is sufficiently impressed.  Carlton leaves tomorrow afternoon to try to purchase some bones that were recently dug up near Cairo, and I’ve been ordered to arrange interviews with you and two other candidates when he returns. You’re still my first choice, however, so I’m trying to stack the deck a little bit.  If I connect you with Carlton tonight, and schedule the others when he gets back, I’m hoping he’ll make you an immediate offer rather than wait.  Do you have any plans you can’t break tonight?”

Shape: Gigi Teen from Kids5B Skin: Lany by WoW Skins Jewelry: necklace from JStyle; rings/bangles from Loka Designs

Shape: Gigi Teen from Kids5B
Skin: Lany by WoW Skins

“No plans, but also no sitter.  How will Carlton react if I bring my plus-one with me to an interview?”

…Still to be continued…

…Info about tagged vendors is in my closet

There are so many reasons why I need to go shopping this afternoon.

A) I need some retail therapy.  On top of my emotional baseline of exhausted and overwhelmed (perfectly normal for moms everywhere, particularly single working moms) I have a healthy overlay of unhealthy rage.  My coworker Taylor, herself a single mom, was supposed to come by and pickup Piper this morning and I would watch her two year-old Dashaun later this week.  Giovanni’s opens at eleven, so the servers are expected in at ten to help with the prep and set-up.  Shortly before ten, I called Giovanni’s to warn them I was running late because Taylor, whose inability to keep a schedule is legendary, hadn’t made it yet.  Imagine my surprise when Taylor answered the phone.  Management had called her that morning before to cover a shift because Mackenzie called in sick.  (She said food-poisoning, I suspect brown-bottle flu.)  Taylor had dumped Dashaun on his grandmother, and completely forgotten to call me.  Working all the numbers in my cell phone contacts, I finally gave in and asked Jeremy to be my emergency baby-sitter.  Great, but by the time I called Jeremy, took Piper out to the ‘burbs, and doubled back to Giovanni’s, I was over an hour late.  Which means even though Joe, Taylor, and Mackenzie created the reason I was late between them, I’m the one who gets a write-up and started in a Step I disciplinary action.  I’m angry enough I’m trembling just recapping this.  Some new pretty clothes are just what I need to feel calmer.

Pretty new clothes, compliments of Grumble, Grumble.

Pretty new clothes, compliments of Grumble, Grumble.

B) I really need retail therapy.  The whole situation with Jeremy (more about that towards the end of this post…) has me in a tailspin.  I’m still into him, and he is apparently also still into me.  Except he has rebounded since I broke things off, and while I’m sure I’ll properly hate his fiancee Valerie once I meet her, it’s unfair to her and to the generally stand-up guy Jeremy is for me to drag him into Piper’s life.  I don’t want to keep calling Jeremy in panics.  Except I don’t really have many options.  How sick is it that I only called Jeremy to babysit after trying my next-door neighbor when I’m ninety percent certain that she’s an escort and an addict?  Trying to unfold that logic has me feeling guilty and inadequate.  Pretty new clothes can solve those feelings, too.

This Hooter purse deserves some close-up love...

This Hooter purse deserves some close-up love…

C) Ms. Cao Richards came in for lunch with two of her coworkers and their three little ones.  She introduced me as ‘Emily, who I’m hoping will be the newest gallery girl’.  She introduced the two gallery girls with her, but distracted as I was this morning, I promptly forgot their names and christened them in my mind as Buffy and Muffy.  On a more positive day, this would have been a wonderful thing.  Besides tipping well, Ms. Richards implied the job is probably mine, with what she said both explicitly and between-the-lines, although the gallery owner, Mr. Thatcher, will not declare his official decision until ten a.m. on Monday the sixteenth.  In my frustrated and irritable state, however, I’m locked in on the gap between ‘probably’ and ‘definitely’, afraid to hope, stressing over the impending disappointment.  Plus, if I do get the job, I don’t have anything sufficiently elegant and classy for the Thursday gala evenings.  So I should definitely go get myself some pretty new clothes…

To paraphrase Nancy Sinatra, these boots were made for shopping...

To paraphrase Nancy Sinatra, these boots were made for shopping…

D) Allie Munro also came by for a bite to eat.  I didn’t wait on her, since she sat at the bar with a chicken caesar salad and a nice pinot grigio while she used her cell phone and tablet to herd staffers for Grumble, Grumble and the Wet Spot.  (How does she have time to run two businesses and look so fabulous when I can barely juggle being a low-level Goomba at Giovanni’s and keeping Piper in formula and clean diapers?  If she wasn’t so nice, I would definitely hate her.)  I didn’t wait on her, but she gave me a tip nonetheless.  Not a gratuity-tip but a piece-of-advice-tip: Thrift Shop 8 is now open, with bargains and sales from dozens of dealers, themed for Love and Hate in honor of Valentine’s Day.  That would be reason enough to go shopping, to see if I can find something both elegant and thrifty, but Allie sweetened the pot, inviting me once more to write up how cool Grumble’s wares look, and take a few selfies to prove my point.  If there is anything better than shopping for pretty new clothes, it is getting paid to shop for pretty new clothes…

Ta-da! A second great Grumble look for Thrift Shop!

Ta-da! A second great Grumble look for Thrift Shop!

OUTFIT #1:

  • Mesh Corset Dress in Teal.  This cute little number is one of Grumble, Grumble’s feature items for Thrift Shop 8.
  • Heartbreaker Crown. This is the rare from the Heartbreaker Headband Gatcha Grumble brought to the thrift shop.  Very cute, although more appropriate for senior prom then an expensive gallery event….
  • Hooter Handbag, Teal Trim.  Another cute, fun item from Thrift Shop 8.  Again, yes to cute, fun, and irresistible, no to gallery-appropriate…
  • Sheer heart stockings & Colorado boots (black): Items from the Grumble, Grumble main store that nicely compliment my dress.
  • Shape: Gigi Teen (Kids5B); Skin: Jenna- Purple Smokey (BeautyCode); Hair: Beatrice (TamelessHair)
Cupid, updated for the 21st century?

Cupid, updated for the 21st century?

OUTFIT #2:

  • Flutter Outfit.  This is one of Grumble’s exclusive items for TS 8.  With the wings and headband, this outfit is very cute and very fun.  Properly re-accessorized, the pink and white minidress may be the gallery event dress I’m looking for…
  • Heart Collar and Bangle Set.  This is the other exclusive TS 8 item.  I love collar style necklaces and bangle style bracelets, and this set is one of each for only 25 L$.  Again, cute and fun.  Definitely the must-have of Grumble’s Kiosk for this event.
  • Red Star Leggings, Snake Bracelet, Fringe Mocassins, Jackie-O Sunglasses: Again, I accessorized the event items with some goodies from the Grumble mainstore.  (The shotgun was not included, but was a fun prop to pose with…)
  • Shape: ‘Girl Teen Avatar Shape’ (Kids5B); Skin: Liz- Green Smokey (BeautyCode); Hair: Ronnie (Tameless Hair)

    Give this gorgeous collar some close up love, also...

    Give this gorgeous collar some close up love, also…

This post is brought to you by Grumble, Grumble, by the power of denial, and by the number three!

The number three: less than three weeks until my due date, and I’m starting to freak out about it.

The power of denial: My usual way of dealing with stress and emotional pressure is to shove it off to one side and pretend it isn’t here.  “Pay no attention to the stress behind the curtain.,” if you like the Wizard of Oz. “This is not the stress you’re looking for,” if you prefer Star Wars.  So today I’m denying my pregnancy- I went ahead and parked Prenatal Piper with a sitter (First Life moms, eat your heart out!) and got back into my pre-pregnancy gigi teen body.  I’m also denying winter.  My firsty is battling the first big chill of the season with a furnace that is acting up, but I’m baring my midriff and showing my tan lines.  I don’t actually have a motto, mostly because I’m too fickle to stay with just one motto, but if I did, right now it would be, “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.”

Or maybe, "save a horse, ride a cowboy,"?

Or maybe, “save a horse, ride a cowboy,”?

And of course talking about shopping and talking about Grumble, Grumble always go together.  Right now, Grumble is one of over a hundred designers participating in Cirque de Seraphim, a two-sim charity shopping event to support the ASPCA.  This event is too big and too cool, and this blogger too busy and overwhelmed, to tell you everything.  Instead check out this description of what there is to see and do, and remember these three key points (there’s that number again!): 1) Money is being raised to prevent the abuse and neglect of animals both by direct donation and by a portion of the sales of exclusive items.  So far over half a million Lindens- that’s over $2200 First Life Dollars- have been raised, and the event is still going on until Nov 26th.  2) The sims, the designer kiosks, most of the merchandise are done with a circus theme.  More ‘inspired by’ than necessarily a strict circus theme- for example, all that my super cute ‘circus backpack’ that I’m wearing has to do with the circus is that the stripes on the back are reminiscent of an old-fashioned circus tent- but it nevertheless adds a level of entertainment and whimsey that makes this event very fun to wander and shop.  It doesn’t matter who you are; you need more whimsey and entertainment in your life.  3) As always, Allie Munro knows how to merchandise.  Grumble, Grumble’s offerings to the event are cute and well-priced and things you should have in your closet.  Go buy some now!

Another potential motto: "Whoever said 'money can't buy happiness' didn't know where to shop!"

Another potential motto: “Whoever said ‘money can’t buy happiness’ didn’t know where to shop!

Allie has, sadly for me, learned some wisdom from past assignments; the restrictions on how I could abuse, I mean use, my expense account were spelled out fairly strictly when I stopped by her office to get the reporter’s packet on Cirque de Seraphim.  Nevertheless, I was able to put together a very cute style card.  My shape and skin are the Kids5B Gigi Teen shape and Tiffany skin.  I’m wearing my hair a little longer than usual, the Melinda dark blonde mesh hair from *JStyle.  My outfit is the smoke Mini Sweater from Grumble, one of the items for sale in the CdS kiosk, and Promagic’s purple hippie harem pants.  The mustard latex ankle boots from Fetish Doll don’t quite match the rest of the outfit, but Firsty wanted me to wear them a post or two ago and they fit much more comfortably when I’m not pregnant.  Lastly I needed a few accessories to rev my cuteness up to the next level.  The circus backpack and the retro flower necklace are both Grumble items for the CdS kiosk again.  The patriotic sunglasses were a gift from !Soul back in July.  The feather belly ring is out of an indian princess costume set and the ring and bangles set is from Loka.

Or I could steal a motto from Jayy Von Monroe: "Always be yourself!  Unless you can be Batman, then always be Batman."

Or I could steal a motto from Jayy Von Monroe:
Always be yourself! Unless you can be Batman, then always be Batman.”

Popping into a phone booth, I pull a quick change to show another style card made possible by Grumble’s kiosk at Cirque de Seraphim.  Same Gigi Teen body, Tiffany skin, Melinda hair, but this time the dress is a Blue Mesh Sweater Dress that Grumble is selling at CdS.  The slashed black latex leggings and the red colorado boots, both regular Grumble retail items, add a bit of urban cool to my look.  For jewelry, I chose a men’s cross necklace and some red, white, and blue bangles, also from Grumble, and a source unknown nose ring.  Because I’m feeling a bit immature (shocking, I know…), I also don a black bat mask that Grumble was selling last month for Halloween and a Christmas reindeer antler headband I bought in Grumble kids last year.  Even when I’m being Batman, I’m still being myself…

I dunno.

I say this motto at work a lot: “There is no I in team, and there is no F in weigh!”

In order to bring the conversation full circle to the number three, I changed into a third look that Grumble’s CdS kiosk made possible.  Again, same shape, hair, and skin.  The super-cute white/flowered mesh dress is, again, from Grumble’s booth at Cirque de Seraphim, as are the red and purple flower eyelashes.  The pink sandals are also Grumble’s, from their booth at the Aloha fair earlier this year.  Not that it shows up well in the picture, but I do also have a leg tattoo from Grunge Ink for this look.  And for jewelry I grabbed the tagged necklace saying devil from Cute Poison, some silver bangle bracelets from *JStyle, and my source unknown nose ring.  The pictures in my gallery today show the nice range of products that Grumble is offering at Cirque de Seraphim, and they are just one of the venders at the Cirque, so you should definitely come down to the Sugar Falls sim and check everything out.

I know I’m going to make like the Light Brigade and yell, “Charge!” to see how much shopping I can do before I have to take my belly back from the sitter’s.  While I’m doing that, you can check out this semi-circus related video for the Sodom and Gomorrah show….

 

Matt the Firsty here.  I’m gave Emily the evening off because I wanted to update y’all on the crazy hectic-ness going on here in First Life.  It’s been over three months since the last time I guest-blogged for Emily, so I figure I’m due.  And I’m really giving her the night off, even letting her take the night off from being pregnant.  Instead, for the sake of the obligatory style card, I’m stepping back to what I think of as basic ‘core’ Emily: cute, flirty, and sassy:

"Mmmph, mmph" I've got too much to say to let Emily add her two cents...

“Mmmph, mmph” I’ve got too much to say to let Emily add her two cents…

  • Shape: Gigi Teen from Kids 5B
  • Skin: Kesia from WoW Skins
  • Hair: Dori from Tameless Hair
  • Dress: Muffin, in Red, from a Blue Blood gacha machine
  • Footwear: Red hearts sheer stockings; Colorado Boots in Black; Both are from Grumble, Grumble
  • Tattoo: ‘You make me happy’ from Orsini
  • Jewelry: Golden Ouroboros Torc from Adore & Abhor; Dangly beaded earrings from Grumble, Grumble;  Pearl White Bangles from *JStyle; Kiss Me Headband from le fil casse; source unknown nose ring.

So on to what’s new in my life…

My wife is still pregnant.  Now to the point where the pregnancy is visible, and random little old ladies come up and poke her belly.  I could probably do an entire post about our irritation with this.  In fact, I kind of did.  I’m rather proud of that post, by the way.  I’ve obviously never been pregnant myself, since I don’t have the right parts and pieces for that.  Most of the anecdotes Emily shares are things that happened to me, with identifying details transmogrified to better fit her life.  This time I was altering my wife’s story while stepping into a first person role within the story, and I’m just really satisfied with how it all worked out.

This pose is named 'Peace with Attitude'; Could any pose be more appropriate?

This pose is named ‘Peace with Attitude’; Could any pose be more appropriate?

There is approximately a month or so to go before I become a father, so right now is kind of like that moment when the cart is being brought to the top of the first hill in a new roller coaster.  I’m unsure, nervous, even freaking out a little bit.  I suspect, but I don’t know, what parenthood is going to be like.  The thing is, even though the ride hasn’t really started per se, it has still started enough that getting off the roller coaster is no longer an option…  Recently my wife and I went to birthing class.  Given the whole busy/hectic life thing, we opted for requesting a day off from work and doing the all-in-one-long-session version rather then try to fit a weekly or bi-weekly class.  I’m more freaked out by the impending arrival now that I’ve been forced to watch three births on a larger than life projection screen.  I’m not even carrying the baby, I have the simple job: stay calm and give my wife emotional support to help her get through a painful and trying time.  I’m now scared to death, not that anything bad is going to happen to my wife or to the baby, just that I’m going to completely fuck up my role, and be a drain rather than a bulwark to my wife’s psyche.  My father was an ‘interesting’ personality: he was incredibly smart, generally disdainful of social conventions, and had a unique blend of penetrating insight and emotional obliviousness.  All my life, my family has laughed at the story of my dad at my birth.  My mom had a very long early labor stage before progressing to active labor.  My dad was in the waiting room with some of the other family.  The doctor came in to let them know that it had finally begun, and asked my dad if he wanted to come back to the delivery room.  My dad gave the doctor a brief blank stare before replying, “I did my job nine months ago; it’s time for you to go in and do yours.”  All my life, I’ve experienced that story from the viewpoint of a witness; now, all of a sudden, I get the story from dad’s viewpoint.

I was re-reminded of the story by a contrasting story my pastor told recently.  There were complications with his wife’s first pregnancy, and the doctor came out to tell the pastor that they needed to do an emergency C-section, before telling him to scrub up.  My pastor knew C-section meant a surgery, that they were going to be cutting into his wife, and there was going to be blood and he gets rather woozy and he told the doctor it might be better if he just waited outside.  My pastor is a big man, and very fit.  His doctor was a little Korean man, just a little over five feet.  The little doctor reached up, grabbed the pastor by the collar, and replied, “Listen, mister.  You got her into this mess, the least you can do is be there when we get her out of it.”  That story has been my mantra when I start freaking out.

Don't freak out, Firsty.  Just stay calm and pray for dawn...

Don’t freak out, Firsty. Just stay calm and pray for dawn…

Now as if the impending arrival of our first child wasn’t enough of a big change, my wife and I have also become home owners for the first time.  In theory, I’m excited about owning a home.  I like the sense that I’ve accomplished one of the goals of a successful life.  In practice, I’m surrounded by shambling mounds of crates and boxes and a whole new list of things to do.  Moving is a big deal, there is a lot to do.  A lot of man-hours go into packing stuff, moving the stuff, unpacking the stuff, arranging the stuff, making the new house into a home.  Now let’s do the math: my wife is very pregnant right now; she’s physically limited, sleeps badly, and fatigues easily.  We are both introverted, somewhat melancholy personalities; that’s a plus in that we both most cherish quiet, peaceful time alone together and a minus in that we don’t have many friends or the sort of personality to ask/suggest/con our friends into putting their man-hours into our move.  We have a large extended family, but it is extended beyond our geographic region.  The relatives in the immediate region have enough limitations of age and health and schedule that we can’t really dump much of our burden upon them.  So guess who that leaves… yep, that would be me.  All those extra man-hours of moving, plus the man-hours involved actually owning and up keeping a house, when I’m a technically middle-aged man who has two jobs and therefore works an average of 50 to 55 hours a week.  It’s no wonder I feel like my list of things to do is growing faster than I can check things off…  Which is why I’m going to post this post as Part I and hopefully return to post Part II soon…