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4.27.2010

Work at New Store is getting better. I've learned to just do things instead of asking 'how is it done here'. Their ways inevitably seem irrational and inefficient. This has less to do with their incompetence and more to do with my uncalled-for sense of superiority. It is a strange lesson in both confidence and humility. I do not have a problem admitting when I don't know how to do something. But when I do know how to do something, I have a big problem being told to do it differently. I am stubborn like that. And strangely controlling. Who knew?

Told Other New Manager that I'm learning to be flexible. I think he was none too happy to hear it, since he's been having even more trouble with the adjustment than I have. Being flexible, to him, means doing things Wrong. And that's rather uncool, since we're supposed to be learning how to do things Right. And Right doesn't necessarily mean by-the-book, since some things have no 'book'. In this case, Right means 'according to a method easily transferable between stores'. And most of our methods simply wouldn't fly at any other store. Simply. Wouldn't.

I am not feeling remarkably invested, though, and that helps with the sense of flexibility. If I thought 'this is training for my future, and I'm being trained wrong,' then I'd have some serious problems. I would be taking notes for conversations with my district manager. But I do not feel invested. I feel gradually less and less invested as the days pass and I become more competent at my work. Because I am doing other things. And those things are far more interesting.

4.18.2010

It's my birthday. I have a cold or allergies or something. But my mother and sister have decked out the backyard in spring colors. They have whipped up chicken salad and lemon pie. So I will celebrate and be celebrated.

Thank you.

4.16.2010

I just watched the trailer for the new film Ramona and Beezus, and it is so horrible I cannot even post the link here. I might say it looks like a fun, poppy, family film if it wasn't premised on the Beverly Cleary classics!!!!! Gah!!!!!!!

4.12.2010

So I started filing my taxes. I know, they're due in three days. Then I find that I owe. More particularly, I owe more money than is presently sitting in my checking account (or checking and savings combined - I know, a sad state).

This means that I'm not paying with TurboTax online. I'm going ghetto and mailing a check, crossing my fingers that it won't get deposited until after Thursday.

Sad, sad state. Let's hear it for that raise.

4.07.2010

How to Start a New Job

1. Don't worry about being super friendly to everyone you work with. In fact, don't really worry about how you appear to them at all. You already got the job. You don't have to impress them with how clever you are; you just have to show them your work ethic. Nothing is more transparent than a fake smile.

2. Ask the dumb questions. They are totally legitimate, as long as you acknowledge that they're dumb. Chances are, the response will be, 'that's not a dumb question at all.'

3. Withhold judgment. Because your judgment will change.

4. Now is not the time to act like you know how things work when you don't. You're new. A greater degree of ignorance is assumed at this point. A greater degree of humility is strongly suggested.

5. That being said, be confident in what you do know. You don't have to tell people you've got experience. Just do what you can, and your experience will speak for itself.

6. Do your best, your very best, not to constantly refer to your previous job. 'Well, at my last store....' is the most isolating phrase you can spout. There will be valuable skills, methods, practices, and experiences that you can transpose from the last place to this, but generally, in conversation, try to limit your references. I mean, it's one thing if you find out your previous boss just got fired. That might be worthy of a comment. But if you're just observing that your new boss has a different policy on office privacy than your old boss... do. not. mention. it.

7. Remember what you did well. Keep doing it.

8. Sometimes spend your down time getting to know your new coworkers. Sometimes let yourself disappear.

9. Indulge in extra coffee goodies on your breaks. You're new. You need special sustenance.

10. Don't carry the job home. There will be time enough for that later. For now, when you clock out, leave it all behind you. This is easier said than done, but really. Go bowling if you have to. Visit the elderly. Join a club. Start an independent publishing company. You can spend fifteen to twenty minutes discussing work with friends or family, but then move on. Your brain needs a diversion. So does your heart.

4.04.2010

Addendum

I'd like to make a note on the previous post. You are allowed to feel awkward if, as the greeting is coming to a close, an adolescent comes up behind you, taps you on the shoulder, and says 'HI' as he walks past. That's not how these greeting times are supposed to go. That is strange behavior, and probably indicates a Condition that you are not responsible for. Move on.

How to Visit a Church, Part 2

There are some things you're just gonna have to brace yourself for. Like the moment they say, 'Greet the people near you.' Expect that, and do not panic. Refuse a fake smile. Let yourself love the strangers. Refuse to feel awkward. Wait for them to turn toward you, then shake their hands confidently. You don't need to tell them your life story. Just smile and say, 'Good morning.'

This part of the service is infinitely simpler - and more of a blessing - when you are offering each other peace. It was always my favorite part of the Catholic and Anglican services I attended, and it is one of the parts I miss the most now that I am frequently Evangelical services again. If you're not used to it, the rules above still apply. Look these people in the eye. Do not wonder what they think of you. Wait for them to turn toward you, then clasp their hand and say, 'Peace be with you,' or 'The peace of the Lord,' or 'The peace of the Lord be with you.' If it's confusing, wait for them to speak and just repeat what they said. But mean it, please. Don't be so concerned with getting it right. Smile at your mistakes and move on. It's church. Contrary to secular assumption, no one's judging your ungraceful demeanor.

How to Visit a Church

What to Wear:

The question of apparel is paramount in preparing to visit a church. The cause of this can be traced back to the 1960s... or perhaps the '70s. I'm not entirely sure, because I wasn't around back then. Anyway, at some point in our recent history, it became the 'thing' to go casual. It had something to do with authenticity and being welcoming, I guess. Because Jesus didn't dress up all the time, why should we? Although there's no indication that he didn't groom himself more particularly on Sabbath days, the idea is that he would not have rejected anyone based on their clothing. (Where this notion came from, I also do not know. Especially as there's a specific parable in which a guy is kicked out of the Banquet of the Kingdom of God for not wearing the right outfit. Go figure.)

Not all churches participated in the 'go casual or go home' philosophy, thus creating the dilemma we face today: to dress up or not to dress up. Perhaps the answer is obvious to some of you, at least in theory. But stand in front of your closet on a Sunday morning an hour away from walking through those stranger doors, and you might feel differently.

I'll give some practical advice, assuming you're visiting a church for the first time and have been given no indication of its 'style'. For women: a dress or a skirt, and I don't care if you never wear them otherwise*. It should be a casual dress or skirt, the kind you might wear to work. Follow the seasons on this. If it's Easter Sunday (like today), wear spring colors. (I doubt your first visit will be on Good Friday, but if so, do NOT wear spring colors. This shouldn't take much thought to figure out.) For men: a button-down and slacks. If it's chilly, wear a coat or jacket. If it's not, the shirt and slacks should be fine. You do not need to wear a tie (this rule may be different in other parts of the country).

*Except I just saw my sister and she's wearing the most lovely outfit with pants, so there are exceptions. But you have to be my sister.

4.03.2010

I've had the entire week off, and the only book I've read was a book I was editing. It was also the only work of fiction I've read since before Christmas. Something is seriously wrong with me. I wanted to post yesterday about Good Friday, but I felt like I was trying too hard. I don't really have much to offer right now, and it seems hypocritical to pretend that I do. So, silence.

I moved to Oxnard today. I'll be starting work in Santa Barbara on Monday. Emily and I can carpool together, which is wonderful - particularly because it gives me an excuse to wander around State Street for an hour or so after work. Fabulous!

Thankfully (I suppose), I'm out of cash from getting my car all fixed up yesterday. So there's no splurging at Anthropologie (even though I need pants) or stuffing myself in every restaurant or coffee shop that appeals. Providence inflicts self-control! Thank you, Providence.
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