Showing posts with label change. Show all posts
Showing posts with label change. Show all posts

and now a boring one

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago that I pulled a day after I published it. I pulled it because when I re-read it, it struck me as a little smug. I hate when I sound self-satisfied. I am rarely, if ever, satisfied with myself.

I also really dislike writing general update posts. They strike me as terribly uncreative and boring. Then again, it feels elliptic to skate past so much time without a word about how things have been going.

So I'm going to try again. Some of this might be repetitive, and for that I apologize.

In February, I was granted a promotion and a raise, and my hours were extended to full-time. I'm now "floor lead," which just means that I'm the face of management, when management isn't there. Discounts, voids, comps, and any customer service issues are my responsibility. None of that is ever a problem, because I genuinely love dealing with people. The crowd that visits my work is generally awesome and very friendly. Lots of regulars, lots of wide-eyed and enthusiastic tourists.

My hourly wage is low, but after tips I earn more than I actually would at an admin job. That sounds crazy, I know, but it's true. The place where I work offers dine-in and take out options, and the menu is pricy. Factor in the cost of drinks and checks add up fast. We also use iPad registers which prompt guests to tip at the end of transactions. Plus, the small size of the place allows me to work alone for most of my shifts, eliminating the need to share tips. Bottom line: it's a very, very good gig and I feel extremely lucky to have it.

Recently my manager has been giving me even more responsibility. I'm doing some invoicing, some purchase journaling, and when she's on vacation I'll handle a bit of product ordering as well. Whether this will result in another raise I don't know. The additional tasks are brand new, so we'll see. I do know that my GM is swamped with work, and not having an assistant GM makes it nearly impossible for her to get everything done. Which I suppose is why she and the kitchen manager have begun delegating to me some of their office work. It feels awesome to be trusted and relied upon, in this way.

The increase to full-time kicked my ass a little bit, and I spent several weeks adjusting. That's most of the reason I wasn't blogging. I'd come home and just fall on my bed, stare at my phone, and be incapable of much more than feeding myself before dozing off to a podcast. My days off were Tuesday and Wednesday, and on most days I worked, I wouldn't be home until 9, 10, or even 11pm.

Timo was incredibly patient and understanding during this time. Like...unbelievably so.

I started the job last fall, and as the restaurant's busiest days are on the weekend, immediately lost my Saturdays and Sundays to work. So the fact is, I haven't had a Saturday or Sunday off to spend with Timo since October. 

Back then I was working part-time, and we had four other servers on staff - so at any point I could have requested one of those weekend days off. But they were the money shifts. The post-election protest days were huge for us. I'd make over $300 on those days, in just tips. I didn't want to give them up. Just the pure exhilaration of earning my own money again - I couldn't get enough of it. I took as many shifts as I could pick up, covering for coworkers on a moment's notice, taking any overtime I could get. There was a stretch in December that I worked something like nine days in a row, took one off to move, then worked another seven. And I fucking loved it.

Then Timo came back from his holiday travels, we got back together, and started wanting to see one another more often. Only I wasn't exactly available. I still had no weekend time to share with him, and only a few hours late at night, on most weekdays. But rather than settle for next to nothing, he started working even harder to see me. He'd immediately put my work schedule into his calendar the day I got it. He'd take a change of clothes to work with him and then come to my place after he was finished at the office, going straight back to work in the morning. Or he'd stay up late in the middle of the week, waiting for me to get off and take the train to his house. He'd have food ready for me, candles in the shower, candy - whatever he thought would relax me and cheer me up, because most nights I was burned the fuck out. He'd juggle his own schedule and his own needs so we could start having mid-week date nights. He'd occasionally just take a day off in the middle of the week so we could see one another in daylight. In short he was an amazing boyfriend.

When I got the raise and the bump to full-time, I was able to relax a little, financially. Still I kept the same schedule, for next three months. During this time I felt extremely frustrated. Like my life was passing me by. I'd gotten away from everything that was important to me. I barely had any quality time with Timo, I wasn't writing or reading, I was hardly working out -- I really didn't feel connected to myself at all.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I finally spoke to my manager about making a change. She was completely understanding, as were my coworkers (there are only three of us servers, so we really have to cooperate and support one another). My coworkers agreed to small changes in their own schedules so that I could have Saturdays off, along with Thursdays. Plus I'm off early on Fridays and don't go in until the afternoon on Sunday. My "weekend" is split up, which isn't ideal in terms of recovery/relaxation...but it's a compromise I'm willing to make. My hours and days are more or less consistent, and I'm very happy with the shifts I have.

Today is my first Thursday off, on the new schedule. Saturday will be my first Saturday off in seven months. Timo and I are over the moon. We have a Google doc filled with things we want to do, places we want to go. Restaurants and events and overnights and day trips. I feel optimistic about my ability to start building back into my life the things that have gone missing from it.

Like this.

Soooo...hello again.

suddenly so precious

Well, I said I wasn't going to talk about work. But that was before I realized that work makes for some excellent material. Also: if I don't talk about work, there won't be much blogging going on at all, because that's a large part of where I'm spending my time these days. I do need to maintain some privacy (no names, no specifics), but I feel comfortable that I can manage that boundary and still share some of the more entertaining stuff. Because woo boy is it entertaining.

As I said before, I work in Beverly Hills. The office is in what's known as the Golden Triangle, a super luxe shopping and dining area right in the heart of the city. Every day I walk past some of the most expensive boutiques in the world. It's a kick. When I have some extra time I'll try to get there early and take photos. Gorgeous shopfronts, everything immaculate and gleaming. Yes, conspicuous consumption, yes entitled rich people--but I can't help find it a beautiful and welcome escape from a comparatively dirty downtown. I desperately needed a change of scenery, and wow did I get it.

I work odd hours. Middle of the day. I start anywhere from 11am to 2pm and work anywhere from 8pm to 11pm. That includes after-work dinners or cocktails. The hours are unpredictable because my boss is unpredictable--even to himself. (I'll get back to that.) To get to work I take the train, then the bus. It's an easy, straight shoot, and I don't mind it at all. Driving in LA has always been a personal nightmare of mine, and I use the commute to answer emails, catch up on Instagram, text friends. I am thrilled to be able to continue life car-free for the time being.

Right now I'm working three to four days a week. My boss knows I'm keen to work as close to full time as I can, and he's been great about having me come in whenever possible. To that end I'm working hard to figure out the best way to be of use to him. Indispensable, even. Because that's my goal. It's not a glamorous job and it doesn't pay loads--but it's kind of totally amazing for a lot of reasons. (Which I'll also get back to.)

Basically, I'm an assistant. Part office, part personal. I just do whatever needs to be done. Sometimes that's drafting emails or making calls or doing research. Sometimes it's running errands. Sometimes it's tagging along on a trip to an offsite facility, just so my boss can use the carpool lane. (He doesn't say this, but I'm 99% sure that's the case.) Sometimes it's trailing after him, toting his bags and files, while he makes the rounds near his office. Jewelry stores, the ophthalmologist's, his plastic surgeon buddy. He'll stop in to socialize for a few minutes, and I'll hang out while he gets a quick hair cut, say, or take notes when someone has some information for him. I always have to be on, and alert to direction. I definitely get ordered around, and to make my friends laugh I play up the under-appreciated, downtrodden assistant angle.

But the truth is I love it.

The first few nights when I got home, I just lay on my bed stunned and exhausted, trying to process everything. Because there's a lot to process with my boss, who is an exceptionally unique and occasionally challenging person. And when I had strength enough to do so, I cried. Not because I was unhappy, but because it dawned on me that I'd passed a whole day, then two, without obsessing about my own life. Without thinking about myself at all. Without worry, anxiety, or the demons of depression poking at me all day. The relief was overwhelming. And every day as I get more comfortable and confident in the job, the air grows even sweeter. I feel normal and productive for the first time in a very, very long time. It's a sort of soft-blooming happiness for which I am grateful every second of the day. Maybe happiness isn't the right word. Maybe it's just self-esteem. Maybe it's happiness born of self-esteem. Whatever it is, I'm enjoying it immensely.

So. Now I've got to explain a little what it is about my boss--and therefore the job--that's difficult but simultaneously but great. In a nutshell, he's an eccentric. Brilliant but strange. He's an inventor and an investor, a businessman and an entrepreneur. He's made a lot of really cool, society-advancing shit. His ideas are all progressive, and at the end of the day he wants to help people live better and more safely. And he's made a lot of money working towards that goal.

But, as with many overachieving workaholics, he can be demanding. Impatient. Hot-tempered and moody. Indecisive. Highly opinionated. And all of that can make for a slightly destabilizing work environment. His agenda changes day to day, and therefore so does mine. Sometimes we only put in a few hours of real work before cutting out to have drinks at his Bel Air mansion. Yes there is a Bel Air mansion. And five cars. And all sorts of kooky rich-person nonsense. And honestly? I love it all. It keeps me on my toes. It forces me to flex muscles I didn't even know I had. Tact. Flexibility. Stamina. Patience. All while working to advance someone else's objectives, for once in my life. It's wonderful.

There have been, already, several hilariously WTF moments. Last week I found myself sitting in a five star restaurant, the only sober person at a table with my boss, two beautiful but perhaps overly, um, improved Greek socialites, and an Englishman who owned one of London's most famous music venues in the '60s and whose great-great-great (?) grandfather invented the plate. Supposedly. The Englishman is harmless enough though a bit of a blowhard who rather enjoys bossing yours truly around. I'm not going to say I smiled to myself when he knocked a full glass of ice water into his lap but I'm not going to say I didn't.

The women, who I'd later find out are friends of fifteen years, were having a screaming match. In Greek. I was seated between them. Now and then one would lean in to me and demand to know what the other had said. Thankfully these requests were made in English, but it didn't make playing the diplomat any easier. It was a great relief when they suddenly, unexpectedly made up. Then, since the table was wedged tightly into a corner of the restaurant and the women couldn't stand up without disrupting everyone, I was asked to give each a hug for the other.

During this entire affair I was the only one really eating anything, which my boss noticed with approval (he has many quirks, and one of them is having very particular ideas about what one should eat - in the many meals we've had together already, I've not once been allowed to see a menu for myself). In fact he ordered an entire second round of food I'm pretty sure because he knew I was still hungry. The restaurant we were at is rather famous but as it's one of my boss's regular spots I'm gonna leave that detail out. Suffice to say I ate very well that night.

This is one of the perks of my job: meals. Good ones, at great places. As I mentioned above, my boss is a wee bit controlling about ordering...but I'm completely okay with that. The food is always amazing and I'm never allowed to pay or even chip in. Perk indeed.

As to downsides, well, the hours are a bit tricky. Of course I like not having to be anywhere at seven am, but as I'm determined to keep on top of other already-standing priorities in my life, I still have to get up early. I pledged to myself when I got the job that neither Chaucer nor my health would suffer for the change. That means getting up at eight am, so Chauc can still get his full, ambling walk, and I can still work out. I have to exercise before work; I'm way too pooped afterward. And I have to exercise period, for my sense of well-being. That's non-negotiable. So no sleeping in, despite the later start time.

And then it's a bummer to get out so late, particularly on Thursdays and Fridays, the prime go-out-with-the-friends days. But we're making it work. Saturday I finally caught up with Krista and we had a blast of an evening. Love that girl more all the time.

Anyway, that's the overview. There's much more to it all but now you've got the general picture.

More when time, suddenly so precious, allows.

the rain came

Well, the rain came. Misty floating pillows of it, directionless and soft. Unthreatening, it promised not to interfere with anyone's plans. Then I guess it changed its mind, or just got tired of holding its own weight, and the tin roof above me became a drum. In the pitch black bedroom I pulled up the covers and listened. Each drop was a glass marble surrendered by a sky too full to keep them. Hundreds of marbles fell, then thousands, until the wind stepped in and picked up a slingshot, and the marbles hit with such ferocity I expected to see moonlight piercing through at any moment.

The rain loosened the soil on the cliff above the house, shaking down small stones and clumps of earth. I had the sensation of being buried alive, and with each crumbling patter I pictured faceless mourners tossing handfuls of dirt onto a casket.

It woke me up periodically, from feverish dreams that either made no sense or too much of it, I'm not sure which. One saw Terence embracing me lightly from behind, turning my cheek to kiss me with an adroitness I hadn't remembered ever knowing. He evaporated, leaving me melting and unsure, and standing at the edge of a shallow pond. Someone dared me to wade to the center of it. And when I did, I found a circle of my friends scowling at me in disappointment. I didn't know what I'd done; I only knew I'd confirmed their worst suspicions.

We had a sort of Thanksgiving. The family, myself, and three neighbors whom I tried terribly hard to impress. They must wonder who the hell I am, I thought uncharitably of myself - of them. What gives with this stranger, this interloper from across the country? She is not blood. Where is her own family?

Woody, of course, knows the answers to those questions now, and probably wouldn't ever have asked them anyway. He and his wife (tennis buff, no nonsense but quick to laugh) brought spaghetti squash, sea-salt dark chocolate caramels, a pumpkin pie the size of a manhole cover, and a bottle of Sauternes. The Sauternes really deserves its own post, honey bright and smooth and lip-licking sweet. It was my first, which made it special to me. And it was the first Sauternes Bill has had in decades, which made it special to him. He and Hannah used to order it as a young couple in California - I believe he said on trips to Mendocino. His face when he spoke of it - laughing about how little he knew of wines back then - briefly lost all of those decades. Woody, too, had a Sauternes story to tell. A group of nine friends, gambling one day on a $900 bottle they had to split, well, nine ways. $100 per man, for about a sip. Worth every penny.

Today the rain abandoned all restraint, laughing at me, spitting in my face as I stubbornly rounded up the last day's worth of photos. The wind turned Hannah's umbrella into a sail, and I nearly toppled into the water trying to take a selfie at the end of the dock.

I didn't have a great day today. Sleep has evaded me all week for a combination of reasons, twisting my nerves into a bundle that threatened to snap at the slightest provocation. And provocation came tonight, in the form of a nasty burn running the length of my forearm. I was making vegetable chowder (Hannah liked it so much the last time I made it) and I stupidly used a short-handled cup to ladle some of it into the blender. My elbow grazed the lip of the pot and I jumped, splashing piping hot soup onto myself, my favorite navy cashmere sweater, and the floor.

Everyone swarmed to help me. To clean up my mess, to treat my burn, to fetch me painkillers. Their solicitousness sent me sailing over the edge, and I had to brush tears - humiliating, childish tears - from my cheeks so I could see to finish my cooking. At the table the meal was subdued, heavy with the tone I'd set with my overreaction, and it wasn't long before Bill's gentle prying unleashed the truth underneath the ostensible reason for my tears. I was exhausted, anxious about returning home, lonely for friends who wouldn't be there when I got back, and generally in a storm of self-doubt.

Not exactly the note I wanted to leave on. I mean, I didn't say all that, though the subject of my breakup did come up momentarily. But they could see I was fraught with worry and sleeplessness, and Bill ordered me to bed early.

That was seven hours ago; only one of which I slept for.

Oh god, here it comes again. I wish you could hear it. Great gusting sheets, surging suddenly just now as if desperate to drown out my bleating self-pity. Or maybe gently wash it away. Maybe the rain is a friend tonight.

Anyway, friend or foe, it turned the lake and its surroundings into a crayon box today. It wicked the leaves down from trees that weren't ready to release them; they were still too bright, too alive. They lay stunned on the ground - a wet, waxy palette of goldenrod and ochre, strawberry and chartreuse. I feel guilty filtering pictures of them, like I'm adding salt to food that's already plenty seasoned. So only the tiniest bit, to make sure their vibrancy comes through loud and clear.

The sound of the rain, though - that you'll have to imagine. And now, for me, sleep - though maybe I'll have to imagine that.

some days

Some days are better than others. The bombs have exploded; the shrapnel, I think, has stopped raining down. The dust is still settling and some days it's so thick we choke on it - but it's survivable.  We started out with very different ideas about boundaries (verboten conversation topics, privacy issues, personal space, etc) but we're working towards a place of mutual respect if not understanding. Household stuff is running as usual. I still cook for us; he still runs errands and walks Chaucer. On the best nights, we both feel so optimistic about our separate futures that we're able to relax and just enjoy one another's company.

He took me to Samy's today, and helped me replace the janky light stands that came in a softbox kit I bought there a couple of months ago. Things started out tense. I was hangry, frustrated with my defective equipment and the setback it's caused, and resentful of the unsolicited advice he was offering. (I hate unsolicited advice.) We got into it about something stupid, something that doesn't matter anymore, and that tension stayed with us all the way to Hollywood. Rode in the elevator up to the fourth floor of the shop. Hovered quietly nearby while the salesperson helped me.

But afterwards we stopped at Whole Foods for soup, and he called to me in French in the middle of the wine section. Viens ici, he said. And then he said some more things, things about how he was trying, and how he'd tried before, too. (I can speak them but I can't spell them, because poor old Duolingo got shanked by Colorfy a couple months ago.) Anyway, it's hard to stay angry when you're standing next to bottle upon bottle of pretty pink rose, in a store bedecked with festive orange lights, and you've got a pint of lobster bisque in your hand. When it's the middle of your favorite month and the light at the end of the tunnel seems particularly bright. And when someone's being sweet, and truly showing care for you as a person.

We laughed on the way home, harder than we have in a while. I told him how nervous sharing all of this here makes me, how it feels like I've painted a target on my back. He's always been good-humored about his "role" on my blog, and many's the conversation we've had about the differences between our real life relationship and the one I've portrayed here. (I like to think there aren't that many; I think he agrees.) Tonight we joked about him doing an AMA, like on Reddit. Anything any reader ever wanted to know.

"Can you imagine?"

"Oh my god."

"I'd be like, 'Hi, my name is Terence, I did two seasons on Elliequent. Ask me anything."

He's out right now, doing something quintessentially Terence. And that makes me happy, for him. And I've got a pair of brand-spanking new light stands to play with. And that makes me happy, for me.



Did you know that if you drink enough Red Bull, you lose the ability to cry? It's true; I've been doing the research. Depending on your body weight and capacity for self-pity, ~24 oz of this fizzy energy beverage is enough to temporarily shut down that most bothersome of emotional responses. Red Bull: Gives You Wings and Takes Your Sads.


The following is a list of the three changes currently taking place in my life. I've written this dumb, formal list because compiling them into some kind of casual update is impossible. Each is too hilariously huge and overwhelming on its own. So here goes.

1. Terence and I broke up.

What is there to say about this. Well, there is everything and there is nothing. Why do any two people break up? Because they are wrong for each other. Terence is wrong for me. I am wrong for Terence. But, but Ellie! you say. You guys were so, so, you know! And the festivals, and the concerts, and the pictures and silly videos, and Chaucer, and and...

Yes, well.

We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of really crazy, good times. We did.

But shared interests do not equal shared values. And our personalities are diametrically opposed, which is a thing I have hinted at or outright said many times. But you can't imagine how bad it got. We are so, so different. And those differences chafed and snagged, and we developed huge, long-running issues that bled like ulcers which would never heal. I don't know what else to say. We have only this one life.

We are still living together, for the time being. We are locked in a lease and while Terence wants to break it, I'm unable to do that right now.  So it is...sort of surreal, in this home we share. The atmosphere is a weird amalgam of sadness, tension, occasional anger, pointed politeness, pregnant silences, hurt feelings and brave faces. Very little crying, thanks to Red Bull, though today I collapsed in a heap, sliding down the refrigerator door when a certain song came up on my playlist. Honestly though, crying just feels grossly indulgent anyway. Like a slice of rich chocolate cake I can't afford, for many reasons.

Chaucer, of course, is the ultimate casualty in all of this. If I start to think about what it's going to do to him, when we finally make the physical split...well, let's just say that's a whole motherfucking ganache torte I can't go anywhere near right now.

2. I'm starting a business.

Once it's up and going I'll happily share the details, but until then I'd prefer to keep relatively mum.

It's based on a personal project I did over a year ago. Something that when I showed it to my friends, they were like "Ummm, I want you to do that for me. In fact, you could probably make a business out of doing that." And after that lightbulb moment, I spent months and months procrastinating, ruminating on whether it could work, and how, and if it could be profitable. Finally, I got my shit together and started compiling the materials I'd need. Started learning the technical skills I'd have to have.

There is a lot of technical stuff to master, in fact. That's what scared me off for so long. But also tons of, like, engineering challenges? That problem solving aspect has been the funnest part; that's what I always liked most about Rainy Day Templates, after all. Coming up with small but useful innovations to improve a product.

But the very best part is the philosophy behind the business, which is about empowering other people to be creative. And to be smarter with their time and money. Can you tell I'm excited?

Anyway, that's where I've been lately. Pouring myself completely into that. Not just because it's a welcome distraction from the breakup but because people are counting on me. My friends are faithfully waiting for me to make good on all my talk, and Terence is understandably anxious for us to go our separate ways. I can't do that until this is a viable source of income, so I've put aside everything else in the meantime. Haven't blogged. Haven't picked up a book. Haven't worked out. Unsubscribed from every single event/concert/festival mailing list so I won't be tempted to go futz around. Living on caffeine and taurine and sugar. Working nearly nonstop, because it's the right thing to do.

Thankfully much of the equipment I need can be found right downtown; the fashion and jewelry districts have been goldmines. I've been shown kindness and support by local business owners helping me out with free or cheap materials, and a handy friend of mine has spent hours helping me modify something with his array of power tools and arsenal of glue. (Is it dishonest to exclude the detail that the friend is an ex-boyfriend? I don't know, but there you have it. Life is funny, but not haha funny.)

It's been a very humbling experience so far, is what I'm trying to say.

Tonight I finished cobbling together a barebones Squarespace and while at first I was really pleased with it, then I went sniffing around all those beautiful branding and design boutiques and now I'm jonesing bad. I'm torn because I know a simple site will suffice, particularly as there appears to be zero competition for the service I'm going to provide...but I'd love to go banging all-in with some gorgeous marketing right to start. So I dunno.

3. Kerry is finally moving. She leaves today.

I am so thrilled for her, so impressed by all she's accomplished that's led to her promotion in SF...but I am selfishly heartbroken for myself. She and Ross have been such good friends to me for four years now. I can't write much more without losing it. And I can't afford to lose it right now; there is too much to do.