One Last Time

Every job, every industry has idiosyncrasies – pros and cons – but I’d argue (tiredly, over a cup of black coffee with two add shots) that there isn’t anything worse than working retail during the holidays. I happen to have had the dubious pleasure of working at the King of Prussia mall – a “retail destination” – aka a really really big mall that most people get lost in, for 4 years. Book rush at a college with only one bookstore (looking at you Villanova) is pretty bad, frappy hour at a busy Starbucks comes close too, but in my biased opinion, Black Friday through to the second week in January at KOP mall is worse.

Tea in glass cups
*internal screaming commences*

It’s not a week you can gird your loins for, or a few hours each day that you just have to keep breathing through. It’s a hellish day that you can never quite recover from, where the music keeps grating, and just when you think “it’s getting better!”, you get slammed with angry people returning things they didn’t want and who are pissed they still hate their families just as much as they did last year. (The week after Christmas? Unequivocally worse than the week before Christmas – which is filled with people looking to buy something, anything, and who then get angry with the sales people that things are out of stock. New Years Eve is the real celebration for people in retail – it’s almost over!!!)

Prior to this, I’ve found it hard to write about retail because I’ve been “stuck” in it so long. It’s been a self-imposed “stuck”, out of convenience, but it’s been too depressing to spend time writing about it when I’m living it. I usually just want to recover during my free time with Netflix, my dog, several warm blankets and a mug of something that may or may not be alcoholic. Before I got back into voice lessons, this season was THE season to smoke. Now I just get jittery with caffeine.

This year though – this could possibly be the last holiday season ruined by working retail. This thought is so painfully hopeful, I’m having trouble trusting it. It’s like an ankle injury that’s been hurting for so long, you don’t want to put your weight down too fast on it – just in case it rolls again. It seems like a fantasy that’s too perfect to be real. Like Santa, or a good book-to-movie translation, or a thoughtful and respectful presidential debate.

(Side note – can we just vote already and get this done? As much as I love watching the late night talk shows – let’s just do this please.)

If you’re reading this and thinking “what??? it isn’t even Halloween??” good for you. You don’t work in customer service. My store put up Christmas things last week, and we weren’t even the first ones I’ve seen.

Anyway, last holiday season in retail – thinking about it I get a turning in my stomach, and a painful leap of joy in my heart. So to my fellow customer service workers who aren’t out yet, here is my oath:

I hereby promise to never forget my roots; to always be nice to sales people, to never sell them out to their managers, to always try to make their day better, and to never never never never ask them to check the mythical back closet for hidden inventory.

So one last time, one last season. Before I retire to my vine and fig tree.

And fly to Ethiopia (!!!!!)

Here we go.

Hidden Magic

Philadelphia has quite a few inconspicuous marvels, and the Barnes museum/foundation is definitely one of them. If you are a fan of French impressionist painters, put this on your itinerary.

I was face-to-face with a few Degas sketches, quite a few Renior paintings, a few by Van Gogh (which made me star struck), and I found a new love – Cezanne. The colors seemed to dance – it was mesmerizing.

My favorites :


Waiting for papers….

I went back into the application system today to update my supplementary essay, and check my status. While there, I figured out that the next step is for my background check to clear. To do that, I have to turn in paperwork that I haven’t received yet….hence the title of this post.

Meanwhile, the weather here in southeastern PA is absolutely, drop-dead gorgeous. Perfect clear blue skies, leaf-swirling breezes and hoodie-weather temperatures. Fantastic bonfire weather. I love it. ☺️🎃💜

Thinking Ahead

img_5930 I was talking with a friend last night, being all introspective and sh*t, and she mentioned that if I get a position, she’s definitely coming to visit me because “when you have a friend who’s living in Africa, how often does that opportunity come along?”.

That hit me harder than the thought of coming home and finding that some of my friends have babies.

I’ve been thinking about working in Africa for 2 + years; the specifics of living without running water, steady electricity or wifi for 2+ years, but somehow the phrase of “living in Africa” dropped like “I’ve got a friend living in Boston” really hit home.

I have a feeling this is going to keep hitting in waves. My brain really can’t wrap around the whole thing at once; but I’m 100% sure that I want to do this, and that I’ll be able to handle whatever comes with it.

Interview!

I had an interview yesterday! I think it went well. As soon as I start analyzing the past, I remember a multitude of things I could have done better.

HOWEVER (I sternly tell myself), I stayed calm and collected in the moment. My first post-interview thought was “That went well!”; so I’m trusting that. (read: forcibly beating all worried thoughts into the ground with this thought.)

🙂

If you found this searching for information about the Peace Corps application process – something to note: the application process moves FAST.

(If you submit an application that gets pulled by a country, but you don’t get an interview within a week or two – as happened to me last Dec. – you probably need to revisit your resume (i.e. get more experience), or check your essay. (The personal motivation question isn’t a short answer, like I thought last year.))

After I submitted my application, I had a week to do my (extensive) health history. Once I got offered an interview, I think I had 5 days to sign up for a time the following week. If/when I (hopefully) get an offer, I’ll have 3 days to accept or decline. So if you’re reading this for research – be sure you’re ready when you submit your application; and keep up with everything.

So now I’m just breathing. And waiting. And watching Luke Cage because damn, it’s good.

img_5742

Happy October!

Corn mazes anyone??

Today I woke up to a cool, foggy fall morning here in southeastern PA. It’s not cold enough to be “damp”, and not warm enough to be “humid”…rather, the air feels alive, friendly & refreshing. Like many people in this area, fall is my favorite season. Everything wakes up after the dozy, dreamy summer heat.

I’ve got an interview this week for a position that I would really love in a country I’ve never really read about. Thank you internet. I am so grateful for Google. (Remember Ask Jeeves? Yahoo Search?…)

Wait. 

Yahoo Search is still a thing? Why????

Whelp. I fell down that rabbit hole. If you were wondering, Yahoo Search has “trending” searches – directly under the search box. For some yet-unknown reason, Barney and Friends is currently trending. (After clicking, all I learned was the TV show has an IMDb rating of 3.5/10, and when you go to YouTube via Yahoo, it looks wayyy different.)

The more you know?