About Me

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I'm a writer. I love everything about it, the nuts and bolts and the free hand creativity. I especially love to talk about it. I am also an online marketer, SEM & Social Media my specialties. I'd love to discuss with you your online marketing needs!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Have Seen "The Back"

Yesterday was my first real day of work at the retail store that hired me. Placed in the lingerie department, I was tasked with the monumental chore of organizing the boxed panties. You know the ones. They come three in a pack, some are all white and some are various colors. Once that was completed, I had to restock them so that the rack was full.

The boxed panty rack was two-sided, so there was a great deal of work to be done. It seemed that the hipster style was mixed in with the bikinis, which were mixed in with the briefs, which were mixed in with the hi-cuts. And the sizes were all over the place. What a mess! Soon enough, I realized that I would need more stock and it would be helpful to have it while I re-organized. This way, I'd be able to fill in missing sizes, styles, etc. as I worked.

A quick chat with the floor manager (or whatever the heck her title is) confirmed that I was correct. She bid me follow, opened a rather non-descript door that was mostly hidden between wall displays of slips, nightgowns, and bras, and disappeared within. I noticed that this door had a lock on it. I cautiously followed. And found myself in a tiny but long room stuffed full of boxes of various sizes.

"Careful," she called to me as she trudged purposefully to the end. "Don't trip. Watch your step."

Clearly, this was excellent advice. Boxes and miscellaneous lingerie type stuff was everywhere. Jutting out of open boxes, haphazardly shoved onto shelves, and generally lying in wait for an unsuspecting foot it could trip up.

I blinked in the semi-darkness. Yeah, seems the fluorescent lighting wasn't working that well in this dank little hole in the wall. Where had the manager gone? Oh, there she was, just ahead of me. In no more than six or seven steps we reached the pile of boxes that held the panties we sought. I wanted to feel, just a little, like Indiana Jones, but there was simply no room for a gigantic round rock to chase me from the bounty we planned to steal. You couldn’t even manage a pebble in here. Oh well. The two-step ladder became, for a moment, my arch nemesis as it tried to keep me from “being careful.” But a last second catlike sidestep foiled its evil plan.

Suddenly I realized where I was.

"Hey!" I said. "This is the back, isn't it?" The manager smiled at my epiphany. "This is where you go when someone asks if you have a different size or color in stock."

"Yes, that's right," the manager said as she handed me an awkwardly shaped box chock full of panties.

We then did a little dance, really mostly me just melding myself into the wall as much as possible so that the manager had room to squeeze by me on the way out, while I marveled at my first glimpse into what had once been the mysterious, mystical, magical... Back.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Is Math Still Taught in School?

I am terrible at math. Just can't do it. Not in my head, and barely on paper. With a calculator, it’s about 70/30 that I'll get the right answer. I once had to take some sort of psychological exam and during it I was asked to count backwards from 100 by seven's. I couldn't do it. When I admitted this, the test administrator looked at me like he was fitting me for a straight jacket.

Him: "You can't do it?" Incredulous tone of voice.
Me: "No." Meek tone of voice.
Him: "Just try." A hand motion to proceed.
Me: "I can't do it." Said after an awkward few minutes of staring blankly.

I wish I could say I made that up. Ah well.

Both my Dad and my fiancé can do some fairly complicated math in their heads. Stuff like figure out the tip at a restaurant, determine how old someone is if they know the year of the person’s birth, etc. I curse them regularly for this gene they have that I am apparently lacking.

I'm not embarrassed by this. Anymore. Over the years, I've come to accept that my brain is just not wired for numbers. It’s wired for stringing together words in a coherent, hopefully, pleasant fashion. For this, I am grateful.

During the past few days, I have completed a great many hours of training for the department store that hired me. This is all well and good. Training is important and I do want to know how to do my job efficiently and by the company's rules and regulations. Hey, I'm even being paid for the training time. A welcome bonus! So, of course, the trainers/human resources people are very conscious of the hours per day that I sit in front of one of their computers reading up on best practices, loss prevention, blood borne pathogens (heaven forbid someone cut themselves and bleed on me or another customer), proper stocking techniques and so on.

Sure, I get it. Keeping track of hours worked is very important. When I began my three days of requisite training, I was informed and understood that I would train for five hours each day and report in at 12:00 noon.

I'm not one for exaggeration, except to make a joke, but this is not one of those times. At least six different manager types came to me during my training to ask what time I'd arrived. Each time I told them 12 o'clock. Each of them then proceeded to count to five on their fingers in order to inform me that I had to leave at 5:00 p.m. Now, each time this happened, I watched in open-mouthed fascination. Even I can do that math! It really doesn't take an Einstein type to make this calculation.

These people were all younger than me, so my question is this: Is math still taught in school? Sure, it didn't work for me, but I can still figure out without thinking about it that five hours from noon is 5 o'clock. Maybe this means that something did, after all, sink in during all those hours of math lessons, tutors, crying sessions, and repeated attempts by friend and foe alike to explain it all to me.

I am saddened and more than a little horrified by what I unexpectedly learned during my three days of retail training.

So, I ask again with no little fear and trepidation:

Is math still taught in school?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Commercial Break

I'm a writer who never kept a diary. I never felt comfortable with or had the desire to write about myself. If I made an attempt, it would always come out all wrong and I'd quickly return to the safety of the fiction endeavors that I so love. Following (writing about) the adventures of “Evil Assassin” or “Sexy Vampire” were so much more exciting. When I was at the so-called appropriate age to keep a diary, social networking was not even a glimmer in a marketer's eye. Everything was personal and private. If news was to be shared, you had to call someone - on a rotary phone!

Well, times do change.

Once upon a time, I used Word Perfect. A hard battle was fought before I switched to Word. Once upon a time, I searched with Yahoo! and when Google came onto the scene, I turned my nose up at it. Today, I too Google with the rest of the 99.9% of the Googlers out there.

I'm still not on Facebook. Betty White said it was a waste of time, and I agree with her. So far. Twitter, however, I have become addicted to. It is a 140 character voyeuristic window into other people's lives. I feel a little dirty as I read the tweets of those I'm following, but in a good way. I don't need a shower when I'm done. Even better, I water daily the buds of friendships with twitter strangers, people who live near and quite far from me. I tweet about what they’ve tweeted, mentioning them so they know I’m out there listening. Sometimes, they respond in kind and a mini twitter conversation takes place.

Things really do change.

Today, I have a blog and write about my life. In essence I have an online diary that I've opened to the world. Some have stumbled in, mostly from my tweets directing them to it. And a fascinating and wonderful turn of events has since occurred. The buds of friendship have started to blossom.

Strangers whom I do nothing more than tweet with have taken precious moments from their days to read my words and comment on them, either on my blog or in tweets to me. These little offerings have made me smile, laugh, even feel warm and gooey. So to all of you, a huge thank you!

Follow them. They are good, kind people who you will enjoy getting to know.


I recently started following Barbara's blog. It's great and I recommend it. Find it here: Brainstorms & Bylines.

Now, I must admit that these shout outs to my twitter buddies is not entirely my own idea. I have been reading a blog for the past several days and stole it from him. This guy is hilarious and has what is almost a disturbing take on life. I recommend him for some light, wacky reading when you have a moment. He refers to himself as Robblogger. His blog is Inspired by Caffeine & Nicotine.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, Notations by Diane Amy. A sweet little ongoing story whose conclusion will take many seasons to reach.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pee in a Cup & Other Training Adventures

A few days ago, I peed into a cup. This is not typical behavior for me. I much rather prefer the expanse of a proper bowl.

For those of you who haven't been following, I finally landed a job. Two jobs actually. And one of them required that I pee into a cup to assure them that I was not a crackhead or some other sort of crazed drug demon. I'll not go any further into details. Suffice it to say that I passed this exam with flying colors. Despite knowing that I do not do drugs, I did feel an odd sense of accomplishment. Less than two days later I got the phone call from the store to come in to complete the hiring process. Go me! More paperwork.

Meanwhile, I'd already started training at the first store that had hired me. For some reason, they didn't require any bathroom related activities from me. Instead, I had to sit in front of a computer for hours in order to go through their automated training process. At least there was a morning orientation, the highs and lows of retail work presented by a man with a great sense of humor. He had been in retail for about three years. He had a wealth of knowledge to impart and I listened closely. I even participated.

I surprised myself by the participation, but it is true that I'm going into this new retail job (career?) on full attack mode. I want to know how to perform my new responsibilities to the best of my ability. I want to learn, grow, and understand. Mainly, I just want to succeed. So, I answered questions when I thought I knew the answer. And I asked questions when I wanted something clarified. It was an enjoyable session. The other new hires were a varied assortment of individuals who helped to make the experience a valuable one.

But then! Oh the pain of the computer session that followed. Wearing headphones to listen to cookie cutter marketing types describe the various functions I needed to know was a fair bit of torture. It wasn't humorous, witty, or entertaining in the slightest. It was, in fact, so dry that it made me crave a sweet sip of refreshing water. Yes, water, and none was available.

The nightmare continued as we moved onto cash register training. It was an impressive system of computer examples and explanations tied into training cash registers for hands on learning. Need I say at this point that I've never used a cash register in my life? Yes, this really is my first entry into the world of retail. Before my defunct career in online market, the jobs I had consisted of things like summer camp counselor and making sandwiches at my college's requisite Rathskeller. Maybe my parents spoiled me a wee bit, but that's not what this is about.

Of course, I understand that I need to learn the ins and outs of this department store's cash registers. Of course, I know how vital to my job it is. But oh how I wanted to cry when the fake credit cards didn't ring right or the fake check didn't go through the machine the right way. I suppose I didn't need a drink of water anymore as I could, by now, just lick the sweat from my brow.

Okay, I'm exaggerating, but it really wasn't easy. It did make me feel better that the girl at the station next to me was having an equal amount of difficulty. The expression "misery loves company" became a cliché for a reason. Finally, I reached the end of the lesson, answered the test questions and miraculously passed. I was told to come back the following day for more training. What?!? Oh dear.

It turns out that the following day was a store sale day so no one was available to conduct the training. We were sent home. I'm now waiting to be called for my first hours while being in the middle of three days of similar, but much more in-depth, computer training at retail job number two. My head is spinning and we haven't even gotten to register training on this job.

While all this is going on and my head is about to explode trying to figure out how to juggle these two part time jobs, I got a phone call about an application I submitted at a potential job that is located around the corner (literally) from my home. I have an interview on Monday morning.

The plot continues to thicken!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Retail Loves Me

Yesterday something remarkable happened. I was handed a job. Just like that. Easy peasy. This makes two days in a row that I've sought and found employment. Sure, there's nothing particularly amazing about this except for the fact that I've been looking for a job for over a year now. Obviously, with no luck.

I'll elaborate. For the past 10 years, I've been an online marketer. I was happy about this and good at it. I'd created a career for myself that paid a respectable salary after my disastrous decision to major in English in college. I’d thought I’d become a publishing maven. After a short jaunt in those old school halls, I discovered, much to my dismay, that the pay in publishing is near non-existent on the first few rungs of the ladder. At least it was back then. I doubt that's changed very much today.

So when I discovered the Internet, my eyes opened to a whole new world of possibilities. I wrangled a job in the internet department of a large company and began to make my mark. I settled happily on search engine marketing (those fancy little ads on the top and side of Google) and I made my new company a lot of unexpected income. Go me! Or so I thought. Once I'd shown them the way to go, they decided to hire an agency to do the work I'd been doing for them and then proceeded to give me the boot. I suppose that was a lesson for me. There's no loyalty in business.

Well, I went ahead and made an entire pitcher of lemonade from those sour lemons (I added a lot of sugar). I landed a much better job in my newly chosen career path and six years later was promptly laid off when the economy took a nosedive. Heh. Serves me right for forgetting my hard learned lesson about loyalty.

Over a year has gone by since that fateful day in May when I got that phone call from Human Resources. The one that says, "Hey, Diane. Can you stop by my office for a minute?" And off I went again to update my resume and hit the interview beat. Trouble was, this time around, there were dozens of me's out there all seeking the same job because they'd been laid off too. Well, they must all have been hired because the opportunities dried up. I was left holding a worthless piece of paper in one hand (my resume) and a ton of bills in my other hand.

I can't even count how many times I came in second to the person who did get the job. Better luck next time. We'll keep your resume on file. I can't count how many times I got an email saying how impressed they were with my qualifications but they decided to go another way. I started to doubt myself.

I stopped looking altogether, needing a break from all the rejection, and rode the unemployment pony for awhile. I caught up on The View and became addicted to HGTV while silently cursing those people who turned down potential homes because they didn't like the color of the granite counter tops. They were quibbling over an inch or two of workspace in the kitchen while I wondered where the next rent check would come from.

Alright, I'm getting a little maudlin. I haven't been quite that desperate yet. But it is true that my savings is almost sucked dry and I was thrown from the pony when unemployment stopped rolling in each week.

Ok, enough. Back to the good news.

I have not one, but two jobs! One full time and one on call. Again, go me!! True, they're both in a field I've never worked in and the pay is minimum wage, but that's just more lemons for the sweet nectar that is lemonade. Who knew that Retail would love me!? Surely, if I'd known I would have gone a courtin' at the malls much sooner. I wouldn't have gone these long four months without the bolstering arrival of a check in the mail. Now, I have an income! Minuscule, sure, but it's a start. I'm going to ride this sucker to the finish line. I'm going to awaken my dormant ambitions to new goals. There's a huge ladder in Retail and I'm going to climb it.

Tomorrow, I must go pee in a cup to assure my new employer that I am not on drugs.

Stay tuned. This is going to get good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Today Something Happened

Today I landed a job. Nothing too remarkable about that except that I'd been seeking one for over a year. I got laid off in May of '09 from a job that I thought I'd keep until retirement. A job I enjoyed in online marketing. So much for best laid plans as the economy tanked. Anyway, today I got a job. Sort of. In retail sales, something I've never done before. I'm now on call at a large well-known department store for $7.40 per hour. I can look forward to approximately 10-15 hours of work a week. The math on this one is easy. I'll be lucky to take home $400 per month. That's a long fall from $67,000 per year plus performance bonus.

I suppose beggars can't be choosers. That's how the expression goes, isn't it? My unemployment benefits ran out a few months ago, and I have since been sucking dry my meager savings. Any employment is good employment, I suppose. My goal now is to make this work, get rave reviews from whoever my managers will be, and pick up as many hours as I can. This plan should lead to full time, 40 hours per week, and that much more income to pay my bills.

So this is how I begin my days of blogging. With this good news of a sort. I'm happy about it, but not really. It's nothing to sing and dance about. As my fiancé said, we'll still go broke but it'll just take a little longer now. That was a joke, sort of.

Do I sound bitter? That's because I am. I'm 46 years old and too tired to start a new career. Except that I have no choice. Ha! I sound like Danny Glover from Lethal Weapon. Ah well, time to make some lemonade out of the lemons life has handed me. Let's see. Here's one glass of that sugary sweet libation. I now have an excuse to purchase some new clothing! And, I get an employee discount of 20% off in the bargain! Yeah, I can live with that. Things are looking up already.

Now for some more fun. My job hunting days are far from over. Since I don't have regular hours, and hence, no steady income, I must find another job. A daunting task, yes, since it took me this long to get my first, but I remain optimistic. The snot-nosed little kid who hired me today (yeah, he was a twenty-something), did so on the spot. Maybe being crazy overqualified, which little snot nose reminded me of more than twice, at a retail position is the way to go. I'll find out soon enough. I have another interview lined up for tomorrow at another well known national department store. Maybe I can be on call at two retail locations. Fingers crossed. Whoo hoo!

I'm a writer (unpublished, yet) so I hope I've not already become a boring blogger. I'm not all that good at writing nonfiction. I prefer dark tales of bad things happening to good people and how they rise to the occasion to battle the forces of evil to become heroes to themselves and those around them. Errr, sort of. And now that I think about it, that, hopefully, describes my life as it is right now. I should start seeking an agent. This could be my big break! Not really, and for the record, I like writing simple urban fantasy and horror stories.

I suppose that anyone who stumbles upon this diary of mine can come along for the ride as I chronicle my Adventures in Retail. Hmm, sounds like a book I'd read. Hey! I should write it! Anyway, I welcome all those who do find their way to my humble blogging abode. Have a look around, read a few words. Heck, even settle in and put your feet up on the furniture. I don't mind at all. Here's a glass of lemonade, the use of coasters are optional.

Well, there you go. I've written my self-imposed goal of a minimum of 600 words. I should have striven for 700, I'm sooo close. Ah, there we go. Thank you and good night.

(702 words)