Ten Things to Remember About Black Friday

black-friday-madnessAh Black Friday, the kick off to the holiday shopping season. Don’t you love it? Actually, I don’t. Just the crazy videos of brawling over cheap goods in Walmart, that populate Facebook are enough to make you stay home with a good book.

But there are many who thrive on a challenge and live for the deal. So before you head out for your big shopping adventure you might want to keep the following in mind:

1. No TV, smart phone, or appliance is worth being beaten up or arrested over.

2. Tomorrow or next week that item will be on sale again or is on sale somewhere else.

3. Cyber Monday is less risky, you don’t have to camp outside a store and you can shop in your pajamas while sipping your favorite coffee drink.

4. Two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time, so breathing down the neck of the person ahead of you in line won’t put you in front of them (or win you any friends).

5. Is that parking space really worth fighting over (or dying over?).

6. If you’re really determined to stand on-line outside a store all night, leave your children at home. It’s better that your child be disappointed than crushed or trampled by an over-tired, anxious, greedy crowd of bargain hunters.

7. The best deals are on Christmas Eve. Retailers will blow out stock by as much as 75% – and most people are home trimming the tree.

8. If the store has sold out of the item you came for, accept it. Arguing with a store clerk, the manager or the customer who snagged the last one will not magically produce the item for you. (And chances are another store has it anyway.)

9. Dress appropriately, have a full tank of gas and eat before you leave. It’s the biggest shopping day of the year, so traffic will be heavy, parking spaces will be at a premium, you may have to stand in long lines and every local eatery will be jammed. Taking care of the basics will help keep you from becoming anxious.

10. Be safe, be smart and don’t take your frustration out on your fellow shoppers. In your quest to get the deal, remember that everybody else in the store is after the deal too. Tempers can flair, hostility can erupt and you could become an unwitting victim. No physical object is worth endangering yourself or your loved ones. Ever.

snowmen

 

 

If you have any tips, tricks, or sage advice, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Writer Chick
Copyright 2014

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I Love Me Some Thin Mints! Don’t You?

I don’t know about you but every year right about this time I start to get a little excited. Not because Spring is right around the corner or because a cute guy has moved in to the house across the street but because the cookies of all cookies are about to go on sale.

Yep – I am a girl scout cookie junkie. I just can’t help myself. If there is even one thin mint within a 20 mile radius I can smell it, hunt it down and take it for my own. Since I don’t even smoke any more I figure I am entitled to just this one little obsession.

Also too there is just something sweet and nostailgic about them. They have been around since I can remember and I can remember pretty far back. Always somewhere around spring break you would start to see little cardboard table and folding chair sales stands cropping up – in front of super markets, laundramats, banks and even street corners in some suburban neighborhoods. Naturally when I was a kid I knew many of the salesgirls 😉 now, not so much.

However, I do have one little friend who is probably one of my favorite cookie sellers:  

Let’s call her Cookie-Girl – she does a bang up job, according to her mom and troop mama. But I mean who has to be told, check out that stand, nice display, clean, neat with lots of variety but no clutter. Poifect.

What many of you may not know is that there is a whole lot more to selling girl scout cookies than meets the eye. In the words of my favorite Girl Scout Mama:

Cookie sales gets so much negative crap that people don’t see the good it does. On the money side, it funds the whole Girl Scout program and it helps troops earn money for their activities. (camping, horseback riding, community service projects [one troop paid their way to Build A Bear to stuff and dress bears then donated them to the Fire Department to give to kids that needed them])

On the “Where Girls Grow Strong” side of it (a Girl Scout saying) cookie sales gives girls a chance to learn so much in a safe environment. Sales, money handling, responsibility, people skills, persistence, goal setting, etc. When it’s all over, they have such a sense of achievement! You can see the change in them. They’ve grown!

Also, especially in recent years, there are many troops who are selling cookies in order to send them to the troops. The way it works is this: you buy a box of cookies and instead of taking them home and eating them and making your thighs and butt even bigger, you tell the troop to go ahead and send them to the troops overseas. In addition to this, the kids take a lot of the money they make and send additional cookies to the troops. For example there is a relatively well known program called Operation Cookie Drop, which is a program started by Girls Scouts who managed to send bagillions of cookies to our young men and women in Iraq and gave them a  taste of home.

If you see a local troop selling in your area, ask them what their ’cause’ or program is that they are selling for – I’m sure you’ll discover that they are not in it for a beach chair or so they can all go to Chuck E. Cheeese for a weekend. They are going to do something special with the money for someone who needs it, senior citizen homes, the troops overseas, underprivilidged children and so forth.

So the next time you see that little cardboard table and chairs set up, don’t hide your face and mumble something about being on a diet. Chat with the girls and find out what they intend to do with their proceeds. And don’t be so darn stingy, give them a five-spot and tell them to give a box of cookies to their favorite shut in, kid stuck in a hospital, or a kid in a uniform overseas and far far away from home.

If you want to know when the cookies are going on sale in your area you can go here – type in your zip code and councils in your area should come up, with their schedules of sales.

Heck there is even a myspace girlscout page here.

So for pete’s sake, get some Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Samoas, Trefoils or even som DoSiDos and know that you are likely contributing to something worthy and worthwhile. Heck if you are really worried about your diet they even sell some fudgy sugar free numbers AND all the cookies have Zero trans fats. So let’s not sweat the small stuff, otay.

For pictures, descriptions and nutritional information about the cookies go here

Also, if you just want to help and contribute to a troop who is sending cookies to the troops, I personally know of such a troop and I’d be happy to hook you up with them. If so, feel free to email me.

Okay, let’s get our fat asses down there and be loading up on the damn finest cookies ever made in America. Sound good? 😉

WC

Ole! Soup, Anyone?

(HT to Gerry for this recipe – rumor has it that it is yummy and comes from his sister. WC )


TACO SOUP
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 package ranch-style dressing mix
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 cup water
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans
1 15-ounce can black beans
1 15-ounce can cream-style corn
Brown beef with onions in a medium-size soup pot.  Drain excess grease.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes before serving.
Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.
I’d add that you could serve it with fresh taco chips or TJ’s blue corn tortilla chips, a crisp green salad and a nice cold Dos Equis. Oh yeah!

How to Tell if Your Christmas Eve Bash is a Success

christmas-tree

I’m not really one of those people who throws holiday parties. I’ll definitely do the dinners and cook up a storm, but when it drifts over to the party category I defer to ones better than I at such things. Happily, I have friends (Zelda) who do parties and I’ve been able to get a real observer’s station at same and feel I can pass along a few tips:

Your Christmas Eve bash is a success if:

1. Your guests don’t use the deserts as an ashtray.

2. The gag gifts you pass around don’t actually gag anyone.

3. You have no one by the name of Skip, Muffy or Biff on the guest list.

4. None of your guests notice the wee paw prints left by your several pets in the dip.

5. The groans you hear whilst guests are munching is because of the deliciousness of the food, not because they have broken a tooth.

6. Your choice of music does not prompt your guests to ask why you are playing funeral dirges.

7. The Christmas movie you make especially for the occasion is coherent and possibly causes your guests to chortle with laughter.

8. Guest do not refuse to take home leftover food and deserts when offered.

9. You do not require a first aid kit to have a fun time.

10. You do not invite people who discuss their recent operations around the fondue pot.

11. Your guests are too drunk to notice you have broken out the cheap wine.

12. You remember everyone’s name through-out the entire evening. Or they don’t hear you when you call them buddy.

13. No one shows up in surfer shorts and asks why all the old people are there.

14. The pets do not break through the barricade you have spent the last three days building.

15. You manage to delete and/or photoshop all the pictures of you before they are viewed.

16. You get through the evening without losing a pet or a guest.

17. Everyone leaves before you fall asleep in the family room.

18. The following morning you wake up to discover Santa’s elves have cleaned up the entire mess and you can go back to sleep.

There may be more and perhaps you can add a few – but in the meantime…

cookies

 

I’ve Got a Branch, Let’s Make a Tree! 12 days of xmas #12

For many years I had the best room mate ever. Let’s call her Buffy. We met while we were both working at a cute, little dive called New York George’s. It served tacky New York Diner food and was a very popular place, especially considering it was tiny and had no real designer ambience to it. What was fun about the place was that everybody was a wise guy and the customers really delighted in being harrassed by the waitresses. Which of course, was right up our respective alleys.

Now Buffy is a very cute girl, who is very tall, has big feet and a laugh that can split your eardrum if you get too close to her when she lets one rip. She also has a heart of gold and I love her like a sister. Truly family in all the really great sense that that word can conjure.

We became fast friends and I convinced her to become my room mate and share the house I was renting from a friend (henceforth known as the Psycho-Lady). The house was cute and pretty comfortable but it was basically in the ghetto section of Pasadena. Which may not exist now but did then. We were the only non-ethnic folk in the neighborhood and I guess were regarded as a sort of oddity although no one ever hassled us, nor did we feel unsafe – it just was what it was.

Both Buffy and I are Christmas nuts. We would die happy if we could permanently live in a Hallmark card. Buffy has her own collection of glass reigndeer ornaments which she has been collecting since she was a child. These are like gold to her. And they are amazingly beautiful – the first time I saw them I think I let out a little orgasmic Christmas gasp. Even today they sparkle in my mind.

Needless to say, like every other year before it we were excitedly anticipating Christmas. Our favorite time of year – an excuse to act like a couple of big dopes, eat lots of great food that is bad for you and your thighs and santa hats, reindeer ears and lightable Christmas ornament earrings – what could be better?

Well, this year was a bit different. For reasons I can’t remember, we decided to work retail sales at shopping malls over the holiday season. We’d both done it before and for some reason we thought it’d be different this year. Dreams of big commission checks and taking a couple weeks off at the beginning of the year spurred us on. Also, Zelda got in on the act. So, the three of us signed on with Gold Exchange.

Oh yes, you read it right – Gold Exchange. Now can you imagine the tacky shit we were hawking from a place with a name like that? I know, I know – we were adding to the evil propagation of commercialism, but hey we needed the money and wanted presents, so….

Either our memories were really selective, we were out of our minds or we were just getting too old for this shit but man, it kicked our asses. For that six or seven weeks we just worked and slept and barely had any fun at all. With the schedule we had there was no time or energy to tend to things like trees, decorating, Christmas movies or anything. Luckily we were working in shopping malls, so buying gifts wasn’t an issue.

Anyway, Buffy and I were kind of glum because we weren’t being able to dramatize our insane love for Christmas and we knew we’d be way too beat to try to put a Christmas dinner together. And at the time, I guess we didn’t have any Martha Stewart type friends so we were pretty much on our own. But Zelda piped up and said her roomie was a Martha Stewart type and did all that Christmas junk every year and we had only to arrive on time and we too could have a big Christmas dinner and enjoy and admire the whole Christmas ambience created by another.

Well that kept us going all the way through the selling season – which was hideous and exhausting. And through til Christmas morning. We got up and had coffee and toast and exchanged gifts and chatted. But then we noticed the time was ticking away, tick, tick, tick. Still no word from Zelda. Hmmmm. We started getting those knots in our stomachs. As if the Grinch had been by the night before and we just hadn’t noticed that it was really December 26th. I called Zelda a couple times but no answer.

Our stomachs were growling and we were starting to get really bummed out. Finally, the phone rang and it was indeed Zelda. Yay! Christmas was saved! Except…Well I guess Martha Stewart roomie decided she wasn’t into it that year (and hadn’t mentioned it to Zelda) and they decided they were going to order some deli samiches and did we want to come over and do that.

Well no fucking way did we want to do that. So then there we were sitting in the living room completely bummed out, with no tree, no food, no hope. We were sad – big time. Then I said, ‘screw this shit.’ There was no way we just weren’t going to have Christmas. So, we jumped in the car and went to the local grocery store.

Of course it was slim pickings, no turkeys to be sure – but they had chicken, and instant mashed potatoes, and stuffing mix and corn. No pumpkin pie but I think we got twinkies or chocolate cupcakes or something. So, we paid for our stuff and went home.

While I started dinner, I told Buffy to get out the ornaments and lights. She squealed with delight. She strung lights on the walls, put ornaments out on every flat surface – now we were having fun. But we didn’t have a tree. We HAD to have a tree. Oddly enough about a week before we’d had some pretty bad wind storms – so bad in fact that a huge branch got snapped off the Wisteria tree in the front yard. I told Buffy to get the Christmas tree stand ready then went outside. After some looking and thinking and finding a hacksaw I found a branch that had some shape and might fit in the stand.

I brought it inside and we managed to get it to stay upright with some jury-rigging, spit, chewing gum and prayers. We strung it with lights and hung a few ornaments, plugged everything in and turned off the lights. “Ah….” it was Christmas after all.

Dinner was ready and though chicken isn’t turkey and the potatoes were kind of soupy and our tree was really just a branch I fished out of the yard, it was grand. Just as we sat down to eat, “It’s a Wonderful Life” came on television and we both let out a hoot. It was the finishing touch to our chia pet Christmas.

Ironically, of all the many Christmases I have celebrated in my life, this is truly my favorite. Because it was our spirit and spirit alone that made it happen – despite all the many pitfalls. And the utter spirit of play of Buffy who was with me all the way in making Christmas happen. And I really loved that little tree more than any other because it proved that even a lowly stick could be something beautiful. In fact, I loved it so much that this year I found an even bigger stick and made another ‘unique’ Christmas tree – it’s pictured above.

For me, Christmas isn’t what other people make it for you, it’s what you make it for yourself.

Thanks for reading (putting up with) this series of memorable Christmases. Much of it was probably too warm and fuzzy or just plain boring – but hey, that’s my life.

Merry Christmas everybody.

WC

New Friends for Christmas – 12 days of xmas #11

The year I lost my mind and decided to move from California to Florida was pretty weird to say the least. If you have any doubts, go back and read my post called Road Trip. To say it was manic was really putting it mildly and giving me way too much credit.I don’t know if some ancient LSD crystal popped loose or just the usual screws, nuts and bolts that live between my ears – but by God I was moving to Florida. So I did.By the time I unpacked the car and locked the front door I knew I had made a terrible mistake. But see I have this problem – I am really fricking stubborn. I kept telling myself I had moved to Florida for a reason. That it was the right thing to do. That there was something there for me.Well maybe there was. A new friend. Someone I’d never have known if not for the momentary flash of insanity – that crazy drive and much of the misery I experienced while there.Lana was an instant friend. I met her first when I showed up at my first day of work for a firm that – come to think of it I’m really not sure what they did or even why they hired me – but I digress. I walked into the office and there was this lovely, lithe woman with hair down to her waist and kind green eyes. “Oh, are you Annie?” she asked.“No, I’m Myrna,” I answered. I have no idea why I said that, but I really did.

She did one of those exagerated double takes and I started laughing and told her I was indeed Annie. Then she started laughing. And pretty much from there on we were best buds.

Now the job…oy my aching head. Let’s put it this way – the woman who hired me wanted me to take over her job so she could move on to a better position within the company. However, I was not allowed to ask any questions nor ask for supplies or pretty talk to her unless she wanted me to talk to her. She wanted me to devine whatever it was she wanted me to do. And she had this insane obsession with a tasking program. So every morning I was to write tasks and send them to her and that way she’d know what I was doing. And then of course she got to send me tasks and I would get these prompts and weird things that were almost as annoying as that dancing paperclip that Billy Gates invented. Long story short within a couple of weeks I felt like I was going insane.

I would constantly check with Lana to see if I really was insane or if this boss lady really was working hard to make me miserable and to feel absolutely and utterly incompetent. Sadly, Lana confirmed my suspicions. Not too surprisingly, I was gainfully unemployed shortly thereafter. Oh boy was I screwed. The job had paid well and when I hit the job market in general it really sucked. The wages being offered were frighteningly low. I took a job with a real nutjob of an orthodontist (he actually believed his work was greatly helping mankind by providing prettier smiles – I shit you not). But at least I had Lana.

We did everything together. It was fun to have a great fun girlfriend again and it made me even sort of like Florida. She invited me for Thanksgiving dinner and there I met her wonderful husband and adorable little boys. We had a great time – but it was more than that – it was like being home for the holidays. Like being among family. I marveled at this because I had really barely met them, yet it seemed I knew them for a million years. I love it when that happens, don’t you?

Since Thanksgiving was such a hit and Lana and I became closer and closer friends, Christmas was a natural. We had all eaten tons of turkey on Thanksgiving so we decided on a different menu. Lana’s brother was in town and he volunteered to make a roast. I made a vat of homemade applesauce, brought a bag of presents and whipped up some mashed potatoes once I got there.

We exchanged gifts and it was fun. It really didn’t matter what they were – we were just happy to be hanging out. It was one of those Christmasses where nothing in particular happened – no special activities or hilarious accidents – just a bunch of people who really enjoyed one another’s company and yakked their heads off. Lana even bought a present for my doggie – a santa suit. Which I put on her as soon as I got home and took pictures.

So the evening was just that. An evening. A great one. And one that brings back warm memories of friendship and love. As I drove home that night, I knew at least a small handful of people in Florida were actually glad I came. And I guess because of them, I was glad too.

The Goodbye Christmas – 12 days of xmas #10

 

There’s a funny thing that happens with friends, I mean real, true, kindred spirit kind of friends – you just assume that they will always be there. It never enters your mind that they will move away. It never occurs to you that you will have a last meal, a last coffee at Starbuck’s or a last adventure with them. Your future will always include their presence. They become such an integral part of your life, it’s as if they were always there and always will be.

This Christmas, the season started as many before it. The cold snap came and the air became crisp. Lights were strung on houses – the ‘Christmas Street’ lit up the entire neighborhood. Shopping, excitement, anticipation. Good times with friends. All the normal, usual stuff. Well maybe not usual because it’s the kind of stuff you (at least me) look forward to all year.

The weather was especially cold that year and it was perfect because it just seemed more like Christmas. My best friend J and I were going off to see a play. The Christmas Carol, as a musical no less. Another friend had a part in the play and we were just going to have fun watching her and then teasing her afterwards.

The play was up in Canyon Country which is about a 30 minute drive from our town. J came and picked me up and off we went. I noticed that J was a little more quiet than usual but really didn’t think much of it, so I sat back and settled in for the drive. Quite casually and out of the blue J said, “I’m moving to Texas, Duckie.”

I was stunned. I knew she liked Texas and all and had been there on business and enjoyed herself but she’d said nothing of moving there. “When?” I asked – pretty sure she was going to say something vague like in a year or two.

“January,” she said looking straight ahead.

It was weird because it felt like all the air was sucked out of me. I just didn’t know what to say. I’m not really sure I said anything. I just sort of collapsed around my grief. It was a mere 4 weeks away. It felt like someone had yanked my arm off or something equally disorienting. I went numb.

I think we talked a little more about it. But just the facts. Where would she work? What made her decide? Where would she live? She’d been made an incredible offer she felt she couldn’t refuse, plus her young son was getting older and she wanted him in a better environment to grow up in. She was going.

I knew there was definitely no talking her out of it. I didn’t try. How could I? I could only hope she’d change her mind, even though I knew she wouldn’t. J isn’t the kind of person who decides casually, I knew she’d given it a lot of thought and weighed the good and bad and her mind was made up.

That terrible ache you feel when you’re trying not to cry crawled around inside me. I tried not to be upset. I didn’t do very well at that. In fact, I did lousy.

The dinner we had with friends before the play was strange and unreal. I just couldn’t think of anything else. I told myself I was being selfish and that I should be happy for her but I was too sad for me.

Christmas went from bright colored and sparkly to gray. I went through the motions but mentally all I did was count off the days til they left. I think I cried just about every day. I kept telling myself I was being ridiculous and that I should grow up and take it like a man – but the girlie girl in me won the battle every time

We spent a lot of time together before she left. We tried like the devil to cram everything in that we could. As many laughs, coffees, jokes, adventures that we possibly could. Eventually, I was able to deal – at least without bawling like a big baby. Because despite my greif I really was happy for her. I knew it was right for her – that good things would come of it. That it was a journey in her life she needed to take and I wasn’t going on this particular road trip with her.

We would write and call – and she had family down here so I would see her again. I knew all of this. But I couldn’t stop missing her. I just couldn’t make myself do that.

Christmas came and went. The time drew near and I did everything I could to avoid thinking about it. And then the final goodbye came. At a restaurant. I met her and her dad and little boy and we had a good time. We chatted and ate chips and drank iced tea as though it was just a normal Tuesday night. But too soon the time came and we stood in front of the restaurant hugging and crying. Then separating.

I walked to my car and couldn’t look back. I didn’t want to have my last view of them driving away. I wanted to keep that image of them standing there smiling and waving.

But life felt emptier at that moment. Less bright. Less colorful. Less adventurous. It just wouldn’t be the same without them. And it wasn’t.

But you know what? As sad as this story might seem and as much as I may have bummed you out by telling it to you – it didn’t destroy me or ruin my life. It just really made me love and appreciate her all the more. Because no matter where your friends go and no matter how far away they may be they never are gone – you always always have them and they always have you. It’s just a little harder to make the commute sometimes.

WC

Boycotting Christmas – 12 days of xmas #9

 

Yep, even I have had my Christmas spirit dashed, beaten and abused. I don’t really even remember the reason but I decided I was sick of Christmas and was therefore boycotting it. I merely decided I could cancel it. I’m sure it had something to do with being broke. Boy there is nothing like being broke at Christmas to send a person into a snit.

So I did nothing. I didn’t get a tree. I didn’t dig out my silly collection of ornaments. I didn’t bake cookies or pumpkin loaf or buy a turkey. I didn’t wear red. I avoided Santa Hats and jingle bells and refused to listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies. (I know! Scary, huh?)

I just happened to talk to a dear friend (and ex room mate, Buffy – more on her later) and told her I was boycotting Christmas that year. As far as I was concerned it didn’t exist and I was really looking forward to December 26th a lot!

A couple of days later, I recieved a package at work from Buffy. The card said ‘you don’t get to cancel Christmas!’ In the box was a miniature tree, ornaments, candy, confetti and a bunch of other sweet and silly Christmas stuff. I was so pissed at her (not really) cuz she made me cry at work.

So, a little glimmer began to warm around my icy resolve toward Christmas. I couldn’t very well insult my friend’s truly sweet and caring jesture. I would just take it home and put the tree and little things on my coffee table and I’d have a tiny little Christmas, just like the tree.

Of course, then there were a couple of movies that came on television which I sort of watched. I believe I nibbled some candy canes. And then I just faced facts. I was so broke I couldn’t pay attention. I just simply couldn’t buy gifts for anyone and I’d have to be all right with that (you see this was the really crushing thing to me) – so I just made myself be okay with it.

After aforementioned movies I started thinking. What gift could I send to my loved ones that could maybe mean something? Maybe something that I could make? I am a disaster at crafts and really cookies don’t like to behave when I make them so the choices were limited. So, I did what any broke writer would do – I wrote a Christmas story. Even though I knew it probably wasnt’ going to please some people on my list – even though I thought it was kind of hokey, I wrote it anyway.

I printed out about 20 copies and sent them off. Explaining that this Christmas it was my best offering and written and sent with love. Afterwards, I really didn’t even care if anyone acknowledged it or said they liked it – something about having done it made it okay in and of itself.

The really funny thing is that it turns out it is one of my favorite stories. And one I have shared with people many times over the years. And I suppose if I truly have a tradition of my own making it is that story. Because in that story I was able to express my true heart about family, love, my fellow man and most especially about Christmas. So maybe in a way…it was my gift to myself more than anything else. And a good one it was.

WC

Retail Sales & 12-Yr Old Chivas – 12 days of xmas #8

 

Unencumbered and foot loose and fancy free and…unemployed….I agreed to do one of those Christmas sales stints. It sounded very good during the talking part. 30% of the sales, they provide the space and the goods and after 6 weeks I’d be about 5 grand richer. It sounded VERY good.

Now, I don’t know if any of you out there have ever worked in a mall during Christmas…but if you want my advise…DON’T. Frankly, you’d probably do better washing windshields in the 7-11 parking lot and the hours are much kinder.

This particular group of yahoos had a system are taped out. They’d been doing it for years and they knew just how to make it work for me. First I started ‘training’ under another guy so I could learn the ropes (read that as working for free). Since he was a friend of mine – a british chap and fellow writer, Giles, was pretty easy to work with. Of course there was that working for free part which I didn’t care for, especially since any sales I made went into his pocket but I agreed anyway because I’d passed up a couple of jobs for this adventure so now I was committed (or I should have been).

So for about 10 days (straight, no time off) I worked Giles’ stand and made some pretty good sales. Of course the company was real swell and paid me a ‘draw’ from my future sales at my own stand, just to help me get by.

Anyway, I finally got my own stand – in West Covina. Which may sound nice and everything but it was about a 30 mile drive from my house and it was a particularly cold and rainy winter season – oh and I really hate to drive the freeways. Oh and I had to go through downtown L.A. to get there. Yeah, that was really great – especially since my heater decided to quit on my and I had to keep a steady supply of napkins handy to wipe away the fog on my windows.

Anyway…I got my own stand in the mall and honestly it was a pretty nice mall. And to be fair to Giles he did come and help me set up and hire some high school girls to do some selling for me – and the sales, well they were smoking. I was able (because of my desparate financial situation) to justify selling gold and silver plated jewelry by just completely ignoring the fact that it was junk. But if you put anything sparkly in front of a person during Christmas they just want it. Truth.

So for 6 weeks, 16 hours a day (not including drive time), no days off I sold. I sold and I sold and I sold some more. I learned how to take naps with my eyes open and while talking to staff and/or customers. For a release I would walk the mall and buy things. Once a week I made a field trip to the company office to restock and get my ‘draw’. Happily gas prices were dirt cheap at the time and with as hyped up as I was on coffee I hardly ever thought of food.

Forget the fact that I didn’t know what I looked like without the pallor and blood shot eyes, that I ended breaking up with my boyfriend over the phone and quite frankly, if I was even conscious by Christmas day there really wasn’t anything to remain conscious for. The minutes, hours, days, weeks went by in a blur of Christmas muzac and the eternal hum of hundreds of shoppers.

Finally came Christmas Eve. The mall was closing early and so I’d only have to work ten hours that day. My girls who had worked for me were so sweet that they pooled their money to buy me a plaque to commemorate an ‘in’ joke we’d developed over those few weeks. And honestly, it was one of the best Christmas presents I ever got because it was so unexpected and it spoke of true affection and good times from some girls who probably should have spent their money on clothes, make up, jewelry and their boyfriends.

Finally, six o’clock rolled around. The big boss came by and congratulated me on my sales which apparently was WAY over what they expected and told me to roll around on the first to pick up (what was left) of my commission check. I gave him the keys to the safe and the receipts and off to home I went.

Giles and I had planned to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together since we were both on our own for the holidays. So I got home, showered and changed, plastered on some make up and went over. I looked like I’d been on a 12 year drunk and didn’t know my name (see picture above).

When I got there Giles was all smiles, wished me a ham sandwich and a happy Christmas. Then he whipped out the big surprise he’d been holding back on for weeks. A 12 year old bottle of Chivas. Now, from what I’ve heard that’s some pretty impressive stuff. I believe it is scotch but maybe it’s whiskey but really I couldn’t tell you the difference anyway.

So me and my pal Giles drank off that bottle of Chivas for the next two days. Occasionally pausing for ham sandwiches or an old movie on the telly. We were so exhausted I’m not sure we even spoke all that much. It was more on the order of grunts and groans and “I’ll have another.” By December 26th we had finished that bottle and were ready for the New Year. Sometime in the next couple of days we got some sleep and finally I went to get my commission check.

Sadly, Santa didn’t have much leftover for me. Just enough to pay the coming months bills and maybe a little extra if I was strict. I actually sat down and computed my hours against what I made and it turns out I made about $3 an hour. Who knew? I could have worked at Kmart and done the same, plus I woulda had that 10% discount. Live and learn and don’t do mall sales! 😉

WC