Holy F*ckballs, We Bought a House

Sooooooooo, a lot has happened since the last time I posted here. The Keeper and I were house hunting from, like, October to December last year. We found a place, bought it, painted it, moved in and we’ve been trying to get it furnished and organized for most of the year so far. Still not quite done with that last part. I’m in the middle of putting a stencil up on a wall in our dining/living room, which is WAY more time consuming than you might expect. Before that there was painting old furniture we got from The Keeper’s grandmother. And before that there was buying furniture. I still don’t have my office set up. But we’re getting there.

A Decent Proposal

As the title of this post suggests, The Keeper proposed to me recently. And he did a damn good job, too. So, I’ve decided to set him forth as an example for anyone out there who is trying to figure out how to go about this, apparently, daunting task.

First, here’s how it all went down:

We were on vacation in the Outer Banks. The Keeper and I had talked before the trip about having a picnic on the beach one of the nights of our vacation. So earlier in the day we bought a picnic basket/cooler and some wine. Then in the evening we grabbed a couple Subway sandwiches, packed them into the cooler with the wine and a couple of plastic mason jar cups with twisty straws, and hauled everything out onto the beach.

 

We tried to pick a place that the was both less populated and close to where we’d crossed the dunes. We ended up close to where we’d entered the beach, but overrun by small children hunting for ghost crabs shortly after we’d spread our blanket out and sat down. We ate our sandwiches and drank our wine and muttered about how it would be nice to have an unobstructed view of the ocean instead of a wall of small children. Eventually the adults that were with the children either decided it was getting too late or realized they were bothering us and they shepherded the kids down the beach some.

We finished our wine, watched the ocean until it got dark enough to see stars, and then laid out on our blanket looking up at the sky. We both exclaimed about how bright the stars were with no city lights to compete with, and then The Keeper said, “Man, this would’ve been a really good time to propose.” And I sort of chuckled and replied, “Oh you just thought of that?” And he said, “Nope”, and pulled out the ring box.

 

And that was pretty much it. He asked the question, I answered, we chatted a bit. Then we went back to the house we had rented.

Now, here are the lessons you should be taking away from this story if you’re trying to figure out how to propose:

1- Unless your partner has specifically said that they want to be put on the spot in front of a huge crowd of people, don’t. An informal poll of all of our female friends, both married and unmarried, suggests that the way The Keeper went about things was perfect. Most people don’t want their answer to such a huge question to be waited upon and scrutinized by a huge group of strangers. Or a huge group of family and friends for that matter. So either find somewhere secluded to pop the question, or if you have to do it in the middle of a crowd somewhere do it in a way that won’t draw the attention of the people around you. That means that if you’re in a restaurant, don’t do that one knee bullshit.

2- Choose a special place. It can be somewhere you go together often and both really like, or somewhere that’s special because it’s new and you’re both excited to be there experiencing it for the first time together. Just try to pick a place that will be worthy of the memory later on. I’m not generally super mushy or sentimental, but I do want to be able to tell people about this event and if the setting had been something boring he would have had to work way harder on the delivery for it to be a good story.

3- Do what feels right for you and your relationship. If it feels right to write out and rehearse a speech beforehand, do that. If it feels better to just wing it when it comes to the words, that’s fine. If you want to go down on one knee, great. If not, that’s ok too. Just take the other two points into account. If the location you’ve chosen means that getting down on one knee will draw a bunch of attention and you don’t know if your partner is ok with that, then either pick a new location or don’t do the knee thing.

That’s it. It’s that easy to get it right. Unless you’re with one of those weirdos who want some outlandish, grand, attention seeking gesture. I don’t know what to tell you about those people.

My First Tattoo

I love tattoos. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. Every one is complex. Even if the design itself isn’t detailed or complicated and the person getting the tattoo has no deeper attachment to the design than that they think it’s pretty, there’s something incredibly personal and meaningful about the process of getting it. You’re choosing to actively seek out someone and have them permanently, and usually at least somewhat painfully, etch something into your flesh. It’s one of the more absurd things humans do, but it’s also beautiful.

 

I always wanted to get a tattoo, but for a long time I didn’t think it was possible. I couldn’t come up with a good design. Then I thought of a design, but I assumed I couldn’t afford to get it done. Not that I had any idea how much tattoos actually cost. Once or twice I thought I might have enough disposable income to try getting my tattoo, but I didn’t really know anyone who could recommend an artist. The idea of doing some research and finding an artist on my own was daunting. I would search around online and find shops in my area, but then become terrified I would settle on someone and get the tattoo and it would be completely wrong. So I kept putting it off.

Then on a trip down the The Keeper’s hometown I found out that one of The Keeper’s close family friends who he grew up with was going through the process to get certifications or licenses or whatever it is you need to be able to do tattooing professionally. We talked a bit and this guy’s passion for what he was doing was obvious. He seemed a little distracted and wobbly when it came to other topics, but anything having to do with tattoos or piercings made him immediately perk up and speak with incredible passion and intelligence. I had found my artist. I started thinking about designs again, hoping I might be able to save up.

Fast forward to holiday season 2013. The Keeper and I were in his hometown again doing the Christmas thing and we learn that My Artist was planning on opening his own tattoo shop! We hung out with him for a little bit and listened to him gush about this new venture. He already had a huge client base from the time he’d spent working in other shops and he was excited about the other artists he was going to bring in to work with him. He was bouncing off the walls and telling us that if we ever wanted a tattoo we would have priority, just walk in and he’d bump his other customers back to do our ink.

Now I was getting excited. I’d just got a new, better paying job. I had a savings account again for the first time in nearly over a decade. I could do this! I still hadn’t asked anyone at any point how much my tattoo would cost, but I figured it would definitely be a few hundred dollars. Tattoos are expensive right? So I went home with a plan to save up, email the shop once it was up and running, and set everything up then come back down totally prepared!

Well, despite being super passionate, My Artist isn’t the most orderly, organized business owner I’ve ever known. I was expecting to exchange emails and get the design hammered out, schedule an appointment and then drive down one weekend and get it done. That’s not how My Artist operates. I’m sure there are shops that do things that way, but not my shop. My Artist is more of a hands on, on the fly kind of guy. And he’s far more interested in the designing and poking-you-with-a-needle parts than with checking emails.

I had no idea what I should be expecting or how all of this was supposed to play out, so when my expectations didn’t line up with reality when it came to the communication and the whole process I got super anxious. I probably could have communicated that better to My Artist. I’m sure he would have made an effort to explain things better if he knew exactly how I was feeling and how little I understood everything. Despite all of that though, I did eventually find myself sitting in The Tattoo Chair at My Artist’s shop at 11pm on a Saturday night.

My tattoo is a bracelet of celtic knotwork. There are three open spaces in the knotwork where I had My Artist draw in “charms”. The charms are a Super Nintendo controller, a ball of yarn with knitting needles stuck in it, and a 20 sided die. The first thing I learned while I was sitting in The Tattoo Chair was that it is surprisingly difficult to get a clean transfer of the outline of the design when you’re trying to put it in a band around a place like the wrist. You can’t just wrap the piece of paper around your wrist because the width changes the closer to the hand you get, and any little movement of the skin will mean that the two ends of the design won’t meet up in the right spot. My Artist tried to transfer the design 3 times before he gave up and called his wife (who is also a tattoo artist) over to help. And she tried twice before she gave up on getting a completely clean transfer and just drew in by hand the parts that didn’t transfer cleanly.

That is the point at which I made my first rookie mistake. I noticed much, much later that there are a couple of places where the complicated knotwork isn’t quite right. If I hadn’t been so jazzed up on “holy fuck, I’m finally doing this thing” excitement, and if I had prior experience with this sort of thing, I might have taken a long hard look and made sure the transfer was perfect before the actual tattooing began.

Once the transfer was on the only thing left was to start stabbing me with an inky needle. Over the years I had heard and read so many different things about how getting a tattoo feels that I kind of went into it thinking that it was going to be kind of like sex. Everyone is different and experiences sensations a little differently. Some people find it incredibly painful to get a tattoo. Some people find it pleasant. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what places hurt the most to get tattooed. I tolerate pain fairly well, so I figured I’d be ok even though I was getting my tattoo done on one the places a lot of people agree is one of the most painful.

I was mostly right about how it was going to feel for me. Initially it was less painful than I was expecting. Just kind of a vibrate-y mild burning sensation. Then My Artist got to that little sort of bony protrusion on the pinky side of the wrist. THAT hurt like hell. And something that I don’t think I’d seen or heard anyone point out before- you can’t really get used to the sensation because it keeps starting and stopping. Tattoo guns don’t have, like, a spot for the ink bottle to just be plugged in. It’s like writing with a quill or painting, you have to stop every few seconds and dip the needle in the ink. Which makes the painful parts even more painful, because you can’t just grit your teeth and suffer through and then it’s done. It’s suffer, pause, suffer, pause, suffer, pause… It makes total sense and I’m amazed that I didn’t realize that’s how it would work beforehand.

Roughly two hours later, the knotwork was done. At around 1 in the morning. Now, this is where I made my second mistake… kind of. Once the knotwork was done My Artist did the research and drew up the charms I wanted. He showed me the drawings and got my approval and then we did the transfers and the stabbing again for each one. My mistake can be viewed from a couple different angles. Either I shouldn’t have gone in so late to get the tattoo in the first place, or I should have been extra diligent in checking to make sure the charm drawings were right since it was so late and I was very, very tired. Turns out, tattoo artists don’t just inherently know the difference between a knitting needle and a sewing needle. I know, weird right? So I have a little ball of string with sewing needles poked in it on my wrist now. Not hard to fix, there are knitting needles with embellishment so I’m just going to get some color added later and it will be fine. But still, that’s something I should have caught and I didn’t because endorphins and sleepy.

By about 2am it was all done. At that point I hadn’t noticed the mistakes so I was sleepy and ecstatic all at once. It was incredible. I had a hard couple of weeks afterward when I noticed the problem with the knotwork, but now that I’m on the other side of that I can honestly say that I love my tattoo and I loved the experience of getting it. I’m constantly trying to decide what/where my next one will be. Because I definitely want more. I’m one of those people. Can’t wait to get more.

Am I Alone In Wanting To Be Left Alone?

I was out running an errand tonight and decided to treat myself to some frozen yogurt. So I go into the shop and I’m headed toward the cups when I am accosted by the cashier.

First she welcomes me to the store. Yea, ok fine. I know you’re probably not nearly as cheery and happy as you sound because I also work in food service, but your boss probably requires you to greet the customers so whatever.

Then she asks if I’ve been there before. I had, and I told her that, but why even ask? Why does it matter at all if I’ve been there before?

Lastly, after learning that I’ve bought yogurt from this store before, she thanks me for coming back. Uh… you’re welcome?

Just leave me the hell alone and let me go about my business!! Seriously, am I the only person who actively dislikes all the stupid polite small talk shit that the owners and managers of retail and food service places require their employees to spew at their customers? When I go into a shop of any kind I just want to do my shopping and leave. If I have a question, I will ask.

I don’t need to be greeted, I know you don’t care how my day is and I know you aren’t nearly as happy to be there as you’re pretending to be. So can we just skip that completely pointless interaction? I honestly do not understand why the people who manage these stores seem to think it makes any difference to the customer whether they are greeted when they come in. I have never spoken to someone who was happy with their purchase but wasn’t going to go back to a place because no one said hello when they walked in the door.

I don’t need help. At least not the minute I enter your store. If you’re a retailer, I need to look for the thing I’m there to buy. If you’re a food service establishment, I need to decide what I want to eat. What I do not need is you bothering me before I’m ready to make my purchase. All you’re doing is wasting both our time. Go do something more productive until I’m either ready to leave or I actually do need your help.

I don’t like platitudes, polite small talk or attempts to sell me things. Just leave me alone and let me get what I came for. As long as you’re not rude to me when or if I engage you I will be happy.

Am I alone in this? Do other people actually care whether they’re greeted or like it when a sales person tries to give them a tour or spiel about the products in the store?

No Promises

Eight months. I haven’t written anything substantial in eight months.

And I’m not really writing anything now. But I’ve started to feel the itch again, so I thought I’d pop in here and let anyone who’s interested know that I’m not dead and hopefully neither is this blog.

Hopefully. But I’m not making any promises. That way lies disappointment.

LivingSocial From A Restaurant’s Perspective

Living Social, Daily Deals, Groupon and other deal-a-day sites are great for customers. The Keeper and I have bought deals on food, cleaning services and one for a day out at a firing range from Living Social. But what about the businesses that participate in these promotions? To be honest, I never really thought about what the businesses get out of these deals or what impact these deals have on them when they are redeemed. I was just happy to be paying half price. But last Friday I got to experience a Living Social deal from the perspective of someone working in a restaurant. Here’s what went down:

We started getting calls at about 9:30am (an hour and a half before we actually open) from people asking questions about the deal and wanting to make reservations. The deal in question was with Living Social’s brand new “Instant Deals” function and the deal itself was $20 worth of food/drink and you pay only $1. They’re calling it their $1 Lunch deal and it was supposed to be valid from 11am until 2pm.

So when the managers on duty realized what was about to happen when we opened (the manager that handles making promo deals like this was conveniently scheduled until later in the day), they began frantically calling employees who weren’t scheduled to try and bring more kitchen and serving staff in to handle the extra traffic. I work in the back office normally, but being a new employee and knowing that the restaurant was going to be slammed today I volunteered to help out. They stationed me up front with the hostesses to redeem all the deal codes.

We opened at 11am and were pretty much immediately slammed. There was a line of people going out the door waiting for seats and to place carry out orders. There were people who had made reservations who weren’t getting seated because we were so packed. The kitchen was so backed up that people were waiting up to an hour for their food, both dine-in and carry out. We had to cut off service before the time that had been designated on Living Social’s site because of how backed up everything was. It was a nightmare.

Now, to be fair, I doubt this sort of thing happens with the normal deals from Living Social and other such places. Usually it’s a deal for 50% or so and it doesn’t become usable until the day after you buy it. Then there’s an expiration date like any other coupon, so people have weeks, or sometimes months to use the deal. This $1 lunch thing had a window of 3 hours in which to use it before you were refunded your money and the voucher code was no longer valid, so it stands to reason that during that window the places participating would be packed. However, as best we could tell, no one had given Living Social a maximum number of deals we could handle. Their site sold out of our deal before we actually opened, but we have no idea how many deals were bought. This sort of thing is more likely to hurt business than help it, which for the businesses is the entire point of participating.

Pink Eye+New Job= FAIL

After my temp position debacle, I lost all motivation and inspiration. I would sit down to write, but nothing appeared on the screen. Or nothing appeared that I was happy with. I was not quite fully depressed, but definitely in a depression-like slump. The fact that my unemployment benefits came into question because of the shitty temp job did not help.

Then I was contacted by a couple people for interviews and I thought things were looking up. I went to two interviews one week, which was more than I’d had in the previous 4 months or so. But they were both a bust and I continued to wallow in “meh”-ness.

Saint Patrick’s Day came, and with it a phone call. The author of one of the random ads I’d responded to on Craig’s List, despite the lack of simple information like a company name or who to address the emailed resume to, had liked my resume and was interested in speaking with me. But first, for whatever reason, he wanted to make sure we were on the same page regarding pay. He had budgeted $13-14/hour for the position, but since the job was located in the city I was pretty sure that I’d need a minimum of $15/hour to cover the added transportation costs. We signed off of our phone conversation with the understanding that I would do some calculations and let him know if I could make $14 work. The answer was no, but I emailed him to let him know that if he was willing to consider paying the $15/hour for the right candidate then I would still love to come in and interview.

That Saturday, during my monthly Pathfinder game, another man called me from the same business. I explained what I had spoken about and emailed to the first guy and he said they would talk it over and get back to me. A little while later he called back to say that they were still interested in talking to me, so we set up an interview for Monday.

Monday came and the interview went splendidly. I left feeling excited and optimistic. The job would be a pretty basic Administrative Assistant position, but instead of being in a typical office setting I would be working in the back office of a restaurant. A beautiful restaurant with exotic food that smelled delicious. It was perfect. And there would even be room for growth, because this wasn’t just any restaurant. This was a foreign restaurant chain which was trying to expand into the US, and the location where I would be working was the first US location. Now all I had to do was wait while they finished up their other interviews and chose who to hire.

On Friday I spoke on the phone again with one of the two guys I’d interviewed with and was informed that I had gotten the job! They wanted me to start on the following Monday! I was elated! This was the first “real” job I had gotten all on my own, and it felt fantastic.

Then, on Sunday morning, The Keeper started complaining about his eyes. They were irritated and gooey and in pain. By Sunday evening he was having trouble seeing because of gunk forming on his eyeballs and he was fairly sure he had pink eye. In both eyes. My eyes were just fine though, so I decided to go in for my first day of work as planned. I would just tell my new employers as soon as I got there what was going on, so that they would be aware and have warning in the event that I caught this affliction.

On Monday morning I got up, I got ready and I took the bus and the Metro into DC. I arrived at my new job on time and when my new boss began to extend his hand to shake mine I greeted him with the following:

“Hi! Listen, before we get started and before I shake your hand there’s something I should probably make you aware of… this weekend my boyfriend seems to have come down with a double case of pink eye. I haven’t had any problems, my eyes are just fine, but I thought I should let you know before I touch you or anything else here.”

We talked about the situation a little bit and he decided we should probably push back my start date, just to be safe. Since it’s a restaurant and all. I apologized profusely and felt terrible about the whole thing, but I think he was grateful that I brought it up instead of just jumping right in and then saying something when/if my eyes actually started to be a problem.