Sunday, November 25, 2007

Moan, Moan, Bloody Moan

This morning has been spent on my PC. Last night I realised my Real Player Library had corrupted (again) and I thought 'right, bugger it' and removed it from my computer this morning. I then spent about an hour trying to figure out Windows Media Player. All I wanted to do was burn a CD of some chill out music that I'm really enjoying at the moment. Media doesn't half make it complicated. The menus are unhelpful and I don't really care that they're all groovy and animated, I just want to get where I'm going in as few clicks as possible. I tried to use the software I got with my MP3 player, but not surprisingly, it might be happy ripping CDs, it doesn't do burning. *sigh*

In the end I re-installed Real Player.

So I'm pretty much exactly where I started at the beginning of the day. The only good thing I can say about this morning's activity is the Library in Real Player is now working again, and this newest version seems to be a little more groovy than the old.

Oh yeah, did I mention I have an assignment to do by the 6th of December? As you can see, there are somethings that don't change about me. My procrastination skills are legendary. Speaking of which it's time to kick some Oblivion arse.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Progress Report

Another good day, this time at college. I'm beginning to get the hang of the logic behind the Adobe software, which is amazing, but does require you to turn into a bit of a geek. I'm not even a baby-geek at the moment, but at least I can do some of what I want, which is a bit of a start. After the various software inductions last week I came home and poured myself a large one.

Also, last month I applied to be part of the Graduate Teaching Associates. Basically, it's where they pay you to become a teaching assistant/lecturer. There are only 6 positions within the college and the competition for them is fierce. I didn't even get a look in. Which considering the extra days I'm currently doing at work, which will increase during December, is not necessarily a bad thing. But that didn't stop me being gutted all the same. Monday I bumped into my old Course Leader and gave him my tale of woe, he said I could pop in and see him, any time. Today, I went to him and said 'it's not that I'm desperate, or overly keen, but...can I have some teaching experience?' It will have to be done volutarily, simply because the course just doesn't have the money in the budget, but, it does mean that next year when I apply for the position again, my CV will look brilliant and I'll have a much better chance at landing GTA. I must admit I am dead chuffed that they were keen to have me back. It's always good to feel wanted.

On another note, I bumped into an ex of mine this afternoon. I was making my way from the Post-Grad Centre, to my 16.15 meeting with my current Course Leader, I had just done a load of work for my Core Unit and was feeling very pleased with myself for a) getting that done and b) for getting the dance mix on my MP3 player right for my mood. I was dodging puddles and humming along to Royksopp when there was this man, who looked slightly familiar. He stumbled slightly and then we made eye contact.

I try not to regret the daft things I've done, the poor choices which I've made out of poor judgement. After all, everything is a learning experience and from bad experiences comes good judgement. However, he remains my one true regret, the only mistake I wish I could go back and undo. He really wiped the floor with me, pretty much ruined my chance at a career. A lot of innocent people were hurt in the fall out. In the time since we split, I've always wondered what would have happened if I'd been smarter. Today, I looked at him as we exchanged pleasantries, and realised how much I have achieved. He asked me how I was doing, and I began rattling off the stuff I had done since, the degree I got, the MA I was working towards. Nothing much had changed for him, except he got older and wider.

Actually, it isn't about the fact that today I was feeling really good and he just looked tired, though there is a little bit of that floating about - I'm sure I warned you I'm not a nice person - but it was more about the fact that I am exactly where I want to be. I'm so glad I'm not working in that office, feeling crap about the work, crap about the people I work with. I'm doing a part-time job I really love doing, even with the recent upheaval at work. I'm doing a course that challenges me creatively and intellectually. My Boy is fabulous and next week will be 14 (OMG). I'm in a relationship which is healthy and stable and a lot of fun.

Yeah, the miseries do hound me; but I'm still hanging in there. I'm doing alright. Many thanks to the Universe for pointing that one out to me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Still Standing

It's a funny thing hitting rock bottom, once you get there it's quite comfortable and warm. There are no more expectations, no targets, nothing can be achieved so there's no point worrying. In this space it's possible to breathe.

Then stuff starts to happen, to fall into place. Things that I was struggling to do, got done with minimum of fuss and exertion. My energy levels are still rubbish, I still feel really tired, but not so ground down.

We're getting more busy at work as we gear up for the Christmas rush. Unfortunately, thanks to interest rates, housing prices, Northern Rock and the pending apocalypse, we just aren't busy enough. The New Management are pushing targets, targets, targets, but it's difficult to sell to people who aren't there. The people who do wander in are being crafty shoppers and are making price comparisons. How can an independent department store can compete in prices with the likes of Boots, Savers and Superdrug? We've got several offers on at the moment, but I'm not convinced it'll be enough.

Anyway, for those of you thinking of buying fragrance for loved ones this Christmas, look out for gift sets. They work out very good value for money, for £2 or £3 extra, there's usually a body product as well as the perfume in a flashy presentation box. And if you buy your fragrance from me, I'll even gift wrap it for you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brick Wall *apply head here*

Do you ever have the feeling that you'd achieve more in life, if you'd just walk out in front of a large moving object? I'm struggling at the moment. Part of the problem...actually, the whole of my problem is ME. I just don't seem to have the energy levels to achieve anything at the moment and I'm making stupid mistakes and procrastinating dangerously with tasks which will prove costly to me.

I'm now doing 4 days a week at work - to be increased to 5, plus my day at college. Our diet is rubbish. I'm behind in my college work. The outstanding stuff is so horrendous, I'm just going to continue to stick my bum in the air and keep my head firmly buried in the sand.

The trouble is I don't know what else to do. I can't not do the college stuff, because that way lies more fulfilling employment, or rather employment where I don't have to stand 7.5 hours a day, for not a lot of money. I can't not do the employment, well, cause, I suppose I need to feed Boy, keep a roof over his head and keep us clothed. Having said that, I'd do all of that a lot better if only I stopped the retail therapy. Honestly, did I really need that pot of Wild Rose face-mask?

Realistically speaking, it's just my Self-Pity Gnome come round for a quick cup of tea and bickie. The sun will come out tomorrow. I will feel better after that whinge. So there.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dear Richard Branson (again),

You're having a laugh aren't you? It was only 6 weeks ago that I wrote to you about the very poor service I had, and here I am having to write to you, yet again.

The new box your engineer fit 6 weeks ago after the death of my old one, is behaving like my bank manager when I plead for an extention to my over-draft - it does not respond. It stopped talking to Boy and me last week. After we spent many happy hours unplugging cables and fanning the hot box and could not even coax a 'hello' out of it, I rang your jolly customer service line. This time I was prepared for the runaround of your call-centre staff who, to be fair, were much nicer than Rollo. I saved my breath about the 4 hour service slots and was surprised when I was offered a Saturday slot, such a shame I'm now working Saturdays. Never mind. I agreed I'd wait in on Monday (i.e. today) between 8 and 12. And jolly fun I had waiting as well.

I rang your lovely people in Mumbai at 11.50, to ask about the probability of the engineer turning up in the next 10 minutes. Imagine my surprise when I was told he'd been cancelled because the fault in my postcode was fixed. You would be so proud of me Richard. I did not swear, shout or scream. I explained to the very nice man at the other end of the world that I was switching on my television and my box and if there was no service he would immediately transfer me to his manager. Bless him. He did eventually put me through to his manager.

Your manager really thought I would give a flying fuck that he had been having similar calls from customers all day. Guess what? I told him exactly what I thought of Virgin Media and how unhappy I was to be paying for this kind of crap. Given my level of unhappiness, he did agree not to charge me for the days I do not have a tv, and he will pay me £10 for the engineer's no show. But quite frankly, it's little compensation for the crap service I've had since you decided to expand your empire into telecommunications.

It turns out that the engineers may or may not go to a call-out if a customer requests a particular time within a 4 hour slot. The call centre can only flag requests, they can't enforce it. So, one part of your organisation doesn't really communicate well with the other. But I suppose that shouldn't come as any real surprise to me, since you can't organise a piss-up in a brewery.

Because I work for a living, the next available time when I will be home is next Monday, and no, I'm not prepared to go to my employers and ask for time off to get my damned telly fixed. Tell me something Richard, given that most people work 9 to 5, and that commutes can take anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours, it's not very realistic for you to expect your customers to be home between 8am and 7pm, with 4 hours to spare at either end. As a single parent, whose family lives in Trinidad, it's a bit difficult to ask them to pop round and sit in for me.

Rest assured Richard, the next time I have reason to call your customer service centre it will be to have your dodgy equipment removed, because I have better things to do with my time.



Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Training Day

Yesterday, I extracted myself out of bed at stupid o'clock to head down to London for a perfumery training day. All in all, it was a lot of fun. There's something magical being up before the sun has properly risen, when it's a winters day, the mist lying in the frosty fields and over mirrored ponds. I took my camera with me and got a couple of quite arty shots from the train. Boy quite liked them when I showed them to him last night. As the training started at 10am, I managed to miss the bulk of the commuter crush going down, for which I am grateful. I don't like crowds at the best of times and the thought of fighting up in the tube at that time, did not fill me with a great deal of warmth and joy.

I arrived in Liverpool Street on time and rushed to get to the tube. I'd worked out my route the night before on the internet, so I knew which line I wanted and the train. I had a quick check on the map, scurried off to the platform and pushed my way onto the train. Unfortunately, their idea of westbound and my idea of westbound were two different things: at the next stop, I realised I was going the wrong way. Out I got, practically ran up the steps to the other platform and waited for the train going the other way. Fortunately, it wasn't long and I got to the hotel on time for a cup of coffee and biscuits before we got stuck in.

I've been to quite a few training sessions, I've even delivered a few. So when I say yesterday was fun, informative and the trainers great, I do believe I know what I'm saying. The trainers led us through some of the different fragrances on offer and taught us about their development, history and occasional anecdotes about the designers. It was my first proper perfumery training and I found that I wasn't as ignorant as I first thought. The information I've been reading has actually lodged itself into my brain, I'm no longer bullshitting my customers blindly. I can now bullshit with style and expertise. During the course of the day we had opportunities to win goodies, try the various fragrances and body products as well as taking away a goody bag filled with training notes, posters and, well.....goodies.

The journey home was fun. I spent some time people watching and doing some journal writing. I was able to take some time to think about what it was that so moved me about fragrance that cosmetics and fashion has not been able to do. I realised that perfume is good for your well-being. It's not about anti-aging, making you appear years younger, tightening the saggy bits. Fragrance doesn't rely on your dress sense, or sense of style. Anyone can wear a fragrance, regardless of their looks, social status, gender, sexual orientation. I'm not so naive that I don't recognise there is a link between these things. I know people buy a fragrance hoping to buy into the designer experience, and a fragrance is often designed with this in mind. However, I do believe it is possible to step out of fragrance in this fashion sense. I know this is stepping out of the mainstream idea of perfume and where it sits in fashion, but I am coming at it from a different perspective. I am not trendy, young or even vaguely fashionable. My dress sense is dictated by comfort and what goes with jeans and comfortable shoes. I do not possess a genuine designer anything.

I suppose I'm thinking about fragrance in a more of an inclusive way, it embraces rather than excludes. A fragrance won't care how a woman looks, how old she is, how much money she has. It will smell fabulous on her, or it won't. Therefore, by wearing a fragrance, a woman or man, is making a statement about their personality, their self-esteem, their sensuality. It is possible to be completely skint and to still wear a scent, if only a dab of sandalwood essential oil on your pulse points. I have customers who are highly allergic to some of the ingredients in fragrance and it's a real tragedy for them, they feel as if they are missing out on an experience. In these cases, I always point them towards perfumers who pay attention to quality ingredients and to essential oils.

Fragrance is a sensual experience, best worn on your skin. It's something first and foremost for you to enjoy. A fragrance will react to your stress levels, for women - where you are in your monthly cycle and in your life-cycle, a fragrance will react to your diet. So whatever a fragrance smells like in the bottle, on a piece of card, it only really comes to life on the warmth of your skin. Despite the trend for celebrity fragrance, a person has to genuinely like a perfume to wear it. While there are trends in fragrance, it's not possible to fake liking a fragrance. I dare anyone to wear a fragrance they loathe and to try repeat the experience. You might make a mistake, but you won't want to do it again. There's nothing worse than putting on something which is your olfactory equivalent of Cat's Piss.

A year ago, if you would have told me I would become so passionate about fragrance, I would have laughed at you. Amazing isn't it, what life brings your way? Even if I stop working in perfume, I think I've now got a life-long obsession. No one ever need worry about what to get me for Christmas and birthday now.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Bad Dreams

I didn't sleep very well last night. That's not unusual really, I tend to be a light sleeper and sleeping with a cat pinning your legs down means surfacing into wakefulness every now and then to turn over. I have weird dreams all the time, some more bizarre than others, generally speaking it doesn't bother me one way or another.

Sometimes I have monster dreams, those tend not to bother me either, because I turn into a less-busty version of Lara Croft and do some serious butt kicking. I also have flying dreams which I love. Though having said that, they tend to be big jumping dreams where I'm making gigantic leaps across the landscape, soaring through the clouds (with no turbulence). I often have dreams about Trinidad and my childhood, I revist my grandmother's house for a spot of afternoon tea which was always the highlight of my stay with her. She used to make platted bread for me for the event, and she had to have a pot spoon at hand to beat me away from the cooling bread. It's always lovely to see her again, she looks well and happy.

We've been making our way through the Alien Quadrilogy, which has been a feat of endurance for me. I scare easily watching films. I'm not keen on watching people getting hacked to death, tortured, raped, enslaved or humilliated, which means that most of the time I don't watch horror or thrillers. I do love reading them though. Give me a good horror or thriller to read and I'm a very happy bunny. I suppose reading 'he screamed as the monster from hell ate his arm' is not as scary as seeing the blood gushing from the severed arm, quivering in the jaws of the salivating monster and hearing the pain and fear from the owner of said arm. I'm also a sucker for movie music, the minute the music starts to go menacing, I'm quivering behind the nearest strong shoulder, cushion, cat or doorway.

The last time I tried to watch Alien, it was 1992 and I only managed to watch it as far as when the baby alien's shed skin was found by the guy who was looking for a kitty cat. At that point I fled to read a book in bed, far away from the movie playing downstairs. So I'm rather proud of myself being able to watch it start to finish, albeit behind the doorway, the Viking, the Boy, the cat and the cushion. Boy and I have now watched Alien 2 and are part-way through Alien 3, but Boy got tired and I really didn't want to watch it on my own.

A few years ago I did watch some of Saw, and thought it was the most gruesome film ever. Obviously I was wrong, because they've released Saws 2, 3 and 4. I'm really freaked out by Japanese-inspired horror, that is truly scary. I saw the American version of the Grudge and although I kept expecting Sarah Michelle Gellar to leap up and stake the ghosts, it was creepy, creepy, creepy. The Viking is threatening to bring The Ring down for us to watch. I suppose it'll be good for a laugh - for them.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Pink Fluffy Dressing Gown

Today is a lazy day. I intended to loads, but I'm still sat in my dressing gown: life is good. I'm obviously not at work, I don't think they'd appreciate the sight of me in my strippy socks. I was very naughty this morning. I went back to bed and didn't crawl out of it until 10.30ish. The shock. It's funny, but as nice as it was to stay longer in my beddies, I don't feel any the better for it. My brain still feels mushy. Having said that, I suspect that comes from running around like a blue-arsed fly for most of the time.

Work has been 'interesting', to say the least. Last month we had a change of management in the department and that's really set the cat amongst the pigeons. You will remember I'm not a huge fan of change. I like things to stay 'nice' preferably. I don't like shake ups, wake ups or break ups. I get stroppy without my anchors, my security blankets. October was a month of change. Hence me being a bit quiet as I sulked, moped and stared into the depths of my navel.

Alix is now safely ensconsed in London. She and Shizzle (her husband) found a fabulous flat exactly where they wanted to be, within their budget - a feat considering London housing. I really miss her. It's a good thing that they've gone. But I wish she was still round the corner. I miss her smile, her brilliant hugs and her sense of humour. We didn't see that much of each other, both being busy at work and college, but I loved that we'd bump into each other and steal half and hour for coffee and naughty cake.

I started working part-time. I'm now on 3 days a week, which has come as a bit of a shock to the system. No more swanning about for me. In a couple of weeks, when the run up to Christmas really kicks off, I'll be doing 4 days and when December hits, I'll be doing 5 days. This working for a living lark is bloody knackering. I don't have time to think, much less do laundry, cook etc. I really need a live-in house keeper, or a wife. Actually, a wife would be great. At least then Boy could come home to someone, a decent meal and reasonable company. But I do the best I can with what I've got and he seems fairly chipper and I do have the world's best babysitter in the form of the XBox.

I've also been thinking about my life ahead and where it will lead. I've come to the conclusion that my days of happy homemaking (yeah right) are slipping further and further off into the distance. Boy will be leaving home in 4 years time as he embarks on his chosen path and that's got to be a good thing, but it does make me sad. I know I've talked about this before, endlessly, but when your life has revolved around another human being for whom you are responsible - it's a bit scary. The thought of always coming home just to the cat on a dark winter night, fills me with dread. I did not enjoy half-term without him, even though I was phenomenally busy with work and college.

But there freedom with that thought. I could do anything I wanted (money permitting). I could move to London, it wouldn't matter if I had to live in a shoe box. I could move back to Trinidad. I could move oop North. The world would become my oyster as long as I could embrace the irritation to create a pearl. I know that's four years' off, but I like to think about my bridges, and a lot might happen between now and then. Life has never quite managed follow through as expected with plans.

It was the fire festival of Samhain on Wednesday, which is a pretty big deal in the pagan calendar. It's the start of our new year. A time of opening your arms to let go the stuff that holds you back, keeps and lets you down. With open arms you can embrace the opportunities and challenges that life sends to you. It's also the last time the Norwich Chant Collective will meet in that form. We've been going now for 9 years and people have moved on, changed, moved away. Time to let it go, see what else comes to take it's place. No longer will I be trouping out Wednesday nights to give voice to chants. *sniff*

So that's why I've been a bit absent. Did you miss me?