Monday, December 31

For the record: Adam has agreed that he will be the one to take the girl's to the 2015-version of the Backstreet Boys/Britney Spears when they want to go to the concert.
I suppose it's time for a year-end wrap-up. That's what you're supposed to do on December 31, isn't it? 2001 feels like it's been a wild year, and I'm not talking about what's going on in the world at large. In some ways, it feels as if I took my life, turned it upside down and shook. Not a lot of change fell out of the pockets, but things certainly didn't end up where I would have expected them to end up. There's the work front. An overnight promotion that had me managing a team of six (the Tweedle Twirp's words will forever stay with me: "Remember there's a difference between being a boss and being bossy"). Four managers in one year. A constant trickle of people I enjoy working with leaving the company. A decision to take a complete change of direction in my job. There's my personal life. Me getting married. What a concept. There's my writing. Lots of rejection letters. But lots of personal rejection letters, which in some ways is almost more frustrating (I'm tired of "your piece made it into the final round, but…"). Wrote a novel. I've gotten more fit over the year, running both a triathlon and a half-marathon. Things are great, but nowhere where I thought I'd be at 33.

I'm a little anxious about the upcoming year. New job. The wedding. The disappointment if Adam doesn't get into grad school. The stress of selling the house, finding a new one, getting a new job if he does. This will be an unsettling year. I guess I'm ready for it. I mean, I don't really have a choice, do I?

Friday, December 28

Since I'm taking Monday off, this is officially my last day on the DVD & Video team (good-bye free DVDs!). Very odd feeling. The intranet already shows my new title, and I'm feeling neither here nor there at the moment. Occurred to me yesterday that out of everyone who launched DVD & Video, there's only one person still on the team (and that's not just editorial, either). I'll have a few loose ends to tie up next week, but I'm hoping to start sitting in my new office on Wednesday, to remove myself. I hear things going on in DVD & Video, and I want to put in my two cents, but I realize that there are things going on that folks will have to deal with without me. I'm feeling a little angsty about starting my new job--I have no idea what I've gotten myself into. This place has changed so much in the past 3 3/4 years (although who's counting?).

On a happier note, our house no longer smells like oil. Our bright and shiny new furnace is heating the whole house happily. And how do I love our new programmable thermostat (Peter said to me, "If you're moving, why do you want to bother with a programmable thermostat?" Obviously someone has lived too long in a warm weather state). I remember when an exciting splurge used to be dinner at a new restaurant. Now it's a programmable thermostat.

I'm so looking forward to a nice quiet four-day weekend (my first in an age, since I worked the day after Thanksgiving and the day before Christmas. Retail sucks). I want to do nothing but read and relax and catch a couple of flicks. Try to be less tense (or as Peter says, "Just be past tense").

Tuesday, December 25

Ah, Christmas dinner the way the Christians do it. Tracy and Lloyd had us over to dinner tonight and it was fabulous, although I'm definitely waddling now. Adam and I meant to catch a flick earlier, although we got caught up in stuff (read: Adam's b-school essays), so we never made it out.

You know, every Hannukah, on the radio the d.j.s say, "And a Happy Hannukah to our Jewish listeners." How come they don't say now, "And a Merry Christmas to our Christian listeners." I'm feeling slightly bah-humbug as people just don't want to let it rest. At the grocery store yesterday, I was quizzed by the checkout person, who I know was only trying to be nice. "Are you all ready for the holiday?" she asked. And as always, I just played along until she started digging deeper. "All your presents wrapped? Tree all set?" I finally told her I didn't celebrate Christmas and the bag boy looked at me like I was from Mars. "Chanukah is over, so my presents are not only wrapped, they're unwrapped and even exchanged in a couple of instances" (Adam exchanged his green sweater for a gray one.) She kept pressing, "So it's completely done? There's nothing left?" It's women like her that make me want to slap people upside the head and say, "The baby Jesus was a fucking Jew, for God's sake!" But I resisted, and just smiled.

I'm still waiting for my squat. Adam's got another three hours and 24 minutes to squat. Why does he have to squat, you might ask? Because we woke up this morning, and I exclaimed, "It's my half birthday! What did you get me?" and he said, "I got you squat." So I've been waiting all day for him to squat, but so far, I've gotten squat on the squat. Some half birthday this has been!

I ate too much. Did I mention that? I ate way, way too much. But it was sooooo good.
Two interesting Web sites. Looking for the love of your life? Check out Coincidence Design (wish I could say I found this myself, but Eugene actually discovered it and had it in his weblog.) The other, there's nothing like naked women holding a cat.

Monday, December 24

The two faces of Christmas:
1) While running at Greenlake this morning, a man was dressed in a full Santa suit with his son/grandson, and they were handing out candy canes to everyone who walked past them.
2) A group of people have been standing on a bridge over 15th Ave NW, waving to drivers as they display their gigantic banner, which reads, "Holiday is MURDER on turkeys!"

Thursday, December 20

I'm not sure if I haven't posted simply because I haven't had many waking hours or if it's simply that it's hard to follow up after Fernley. I've done little but sleep the past week. And now, I don't even have time to catch up properly (well, really, there's little to catch up on), because I need to go meet Adam at the tire place, as his car needs new tires.

Wednesday, December 12

It's the last blog from Fernley...EVER! (Adam, you'd better get into grad school).

Everything hurts. I'm tired. But there's only an hour and a half to go.

Sarah's here with me. Sarah, anything to say to the folks in Seattle? "Don't ever send me here again," she says. "And at least give me a gun if you do." Sarah actually got tricked into coming out here--she was told it would be "fun." She works in the public policy office in D.C., so she knew no one who could speak the truth of the horrors of Fernley. She's my gift-wrapping buddy, even if she is only twenty-two.

And that's all she wrote from Fernley.

I don't care if it's my last day--I STILL hate Crisplant. Still breaking them.

Another gift card (and really, this stuff is too good to be made up) on a c.d. Two presents, one went to a guy, one went to a girl. This one was for the girl: "[Girl's name ending in i] study her moves, learn them, know them! Then you can tempt my soul like Sakira does. But you can honestly say you have mountainous breasts. Merry Christmas to the two of you."

I am so tired. I cannot wait to get on that plane. When I'm not sleeping, I'll be moisturizing my disgusting hands (cuts, dry skin, general nastiness). When I'm not moisturizing my hands, I'll be sleeping.

Tuesday, December 11

LAST FRIGGING NIGHT!!! As Sarah says, "It's so sad. Minus sad."

Don't drink and dude. Anyone who has spoken with me in the past 24 hours understands this statement (sorry, Adam).

Four and half hours of sleep simply is not enough for me. I knew I was in trouble when full-out daylight hit.

At least I'm not as bad off as Jayson. I was headed back to my room after I had picked up my lunch because I had forgotten my club card, and I ran into Jayson who was walking toward his room with one of the Amazon beach towels (this years gift) on his head. I said (what else?), "Dude, what's that on your forehead?" He pulled the towel down, and across his forehead was written "Elvis Lives" in permanent marker (Jayson's been wearing his Elvis glasses a lot). He said he had fallen asleep in the hospitality and woken up ten minutes before (it was 4 p.m.). He went up to his room and realized he didn't have a key. So he went back, grabbed a towel to cover his head, and went to the front desk for a new key. Funny thing was I had just been in the room to get my Diet Coke and return the many beach towels Scott had given me the night before (oops, that morning), and I hadn't even noticed him. When tonight starts to drag, I'll think of Jayson and just start laughing all over again.

Did really well at the tables last night. I was down to about eight bucks, so I threw it all on the table and hit blackjack. Then, later, I was ready to leave. Didn't know how much I had but I threw it all down and hit blackjack again! When I went to cash out my chips from the trip, I got back just over $65, which puts me pretty even for my own bets (actually, a little ahead). I'm leaving with almost half my per diem still in my pocket, thanks to John Ascuaga. Plus I had $18 on my club card, so breakfast for two of us was free today.

No more fried food. No more cheese. No more iceberg lettuce. No more canned green beans passing as a real vegetable. No more!
Okay, it's past midnight, which means while I still have an entire workshift to go, I'm actually leaving tomorrow. Soon, very soon, I can stop playing the "48-hour" game (you know, "48 hours from now I will be eating a home-cooked meal"; "48 hours from now I will be fast asleep in my own bed"; "48 hours from now my feet won't be hurting") and start playing the "24-hour" game.

Tonight's moving along, but I can't remember the last time I was this tired. And I have to stay up tonight for my last night at the Nugget. There's a party in the hospitality suite after work. I'm going to make it up till 9 a.m. come hell or high water. How's that for living on the edge?

What's with all the people giving World Trade Tower remembrance and tribute books as Christmas presents? Doesn't seem too cheery to me.

One more hour until we start cleaning and one hour and fifteen minutes until I get to fall asleep on the bus.
Almost done, almost done. Today was the first time I slept late enough to be awoken by the alarm. Tonight though will be a very late night, as it's our last night to hang in the casino after work. After Tuesday's shift, it's straight to the airport!

Speaking of the casino, I'm way ahead. Dolphins won tonight, easily covering the spread. And while I didn't get first place in the slots tournament--that sneaky Chad played at the last minute and swooped into first place--I did come in second, which was still a lovely $100.

And my team leader saved me tonight. They needed folks to break in Crisplant, and he sent others, even though the Crisplant team lead requested me (I'm a fast chuter).

Some woman is unknowingly getting two holiday gifts. A guy had sent to himself two items: 1) a gift-wrapped Visor, with a gift card, "Merry Christmas to the bestest sweetie in the whole wide world." 2) a non-gift wrapped copy of How to Make Love All Night (And Drive a Woman Wild: Male Multiple Orgasm and Other Secrets for Prolonged Lovemaking)

Monday, December 10

It was close: almost came to blows when Deb took over my gift wrap station. Luckily, she saw the error of her ways and moved. You don't mess with my gift wrap station.

Sunday, December 9

A gift to "Mom and Dad": The Wrinkle Cure, which promises, "look years younger in days--without surgery!"

What do you think this person's deal is. In one chute: The Art of Seduction, How to Get Anyone to Do Anything You Want, Never Be Lied to Again, 48 Ways to Power.

Another package grouping: Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book, Erotic Confessions, Penthouse: Between the Sheets. I guess that will be a very Normal Rockwell kind of holiday, no?
Crisplant all morning--not too bad today, although they kept changing their minds about where I should work.

Amazon slot tournament at the Nugget: so far, I think I'm in first place (I got 6402 tonight, which means little to those not playing, but it's good).

Another gift I do not want: The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Handwriting Analysis

Saturday, December 8

Success! The ice cream vending machine has been refilled. I have not only an ice cream sandwich, but a neopolitan one, and it's one of those cool vending machines that uses a vacuum to suck the ice cream up.

I was going for a personal best the past hour, and I missed. My best is 33 presents in an hour, and I only did 32 last hour. However, we are out of DVD sleeves (oh joy), which slows me down considerable.

An odd gift grouping: The Best of George Harrison, Manhattan Unfurled (drawings of the skyline of NY), and Miles Davis: Complete in a Silent Way Sessions.

Honest-to-goodness, real-live, I'm-not-making-this-up gift cards for a set of presents (rather bland presents, I might add):

Card 1: Amazon, your Customer Service is getting pretty lousy. Merry Christmas, [name]. Love, [name]
Card 2: Amazon, your gift process is lousy too. You said I could write one note and have it put on each package, but you lied. Merry Christmas, [name]. Love, [name]
Card 3: Amazon, what the hell is the deal with selling cars? What are you trying to do, create your own nation? And you're still not even making a profit, for God's sake! Merry Christmas, [name]. Love, [name].
Happy birthday, Sweetie! Promise next year I'll be in the same city as you for your birthday.

I didn't think it was scientifically possible, but it's true--last night was longer than usual. Somewhere between 9:42 p.m. and midnight, an extra two hours and 27 minutes were snuck in.

All four waves are here. The break room is a madhouse, and I now have to wait for a computer.

The make-me-gag gift card of the night: on the book It Takes a Village by Hilary Rodham Clinton, "Children are precious. If you teach them well they can change the world. Never underestimate your powers as a parent."

Why are there so many matchbooks in my pocket? Adam, how many times have I told you to stop picking up matchbooks where ever you go? We have plenty. We have enough to get us through about hundred power outages, at least. You've got to stop this nasty habit.

Oh, and I did not detect any shower action happening between last Tuesday and now.

Friday, December 7

I'm starting to think that it's not a good sign when I sit down at the black jack table and the dealer says, "Hey Downtown," and then I call to the pit boss, "Hey Greg, I need tracking," and he calls back, "Don't worry, Jenny, I saw ya and got ya down." But I'm still running pretty close to even, and it's sucking up a lot of my off time. Last night of serious gambling, since it's back to F.C. tomorrow (tonight?). A bit o' black jack, some $3.95 steak and eggs, and a bit more black jack to round out my night. Off to bed. May not be able to do much updating while I'm at the warehouse, as all four waves are here and working the next few nights, which means competition for the computers may be fierce. But, while tomorrow night is the first night for wave 4 (wait, I mean tonight), we're close to gone. Focus on the candy. Remember the candy (who can name that reference?).

I sure hope that guy's showered between last shift and tonight's shift.
Pam and Tim are engaged! Yeah, yeah, yeah! That was the best news I've heard in a long, long time. Was so excited when she called, even in my exhausted, blurry state.

Other than that, just trying to make it till next Wednesday morning. Saw Monsters, Inc. again last night (didn't have a whole lot of movie choices). There going to start adding in outtakes to the film on December 7th, which I find pretty annoying. But I'll see them all when they're put on the DVD. That's definitely one to own. Anyway, been doing a bit o' gambling--I'm down about $5. Not too shabby for how many hours of entertainment it's given me (and the free drinks; have I mentioned the free drinks?). Bowled tonight over at the Hilton, but I was so beat I only stayed for one game. A nap revived me and now I'm getting ready to go downstairs and hit the black jack tables again. Digging those black jack tables!

Only five more days. I can do this for five more days. Can't I?

Wednesday, December 5

So even with all of us moving into Crisplant for part of the night, we broke night-shift gift wrapping records. I myself wrapped 146 presents yesterday.

More gifts I don't want: John Denver Unplugged, Pop-up Book of Phobias, computer game: Mary-Kate and Ashley: Crush Course

After all that eleventh hour crap, my day off got off to a great start starting last night (or is that actually this morning?) with bloody marys at 5:30 a.m. An hour an a half at the black jack table, and I walked away up $6.50 (even after those five drinks--four of which were free). And then, my peeps are the best peeps. They sent me a great big gift basket of wine, bubble bath, cookies, and candy. This place is surreal--the Wheel of Fortune slot machines are now in my dreams. Christmas carols are piped in over the sounds of the casino. People are at those slot machines at all hours. And of course, for us, day is night and night is day. But tonight is all-you-can-eat dinner at the Rotisserie Restaurant, and then it's a double header at the movies. Tomorrow night is bowling at the Hilton (how odd is that?). Hit the Laundromat this evening so my clothes are nice and fresh. And I still have per diem burning a hole in my pocket.
Break 2
We've hit that portion of the trip where I'm starting to get irritable. I've had--shall we say words?--with one of the team leads about the whispers of mandatory eleven hour days for all of next week. Ain't gonna happen. No way, no how. I will get on a plane back to Seattle first and let them fire me.

Gift wrap is piling up, which frustrating because they keep sending us off to Crisplant, which is slow, slow, slow. We just stand around waiting for the lights to go off.

And they still haven't replaced the ice cream in the vending machine. And that guy still hasn't showered.
Break 1
In our stand-up, they asked, "Does everyone know about the eleventh hour? If you don't raise your hand." I, along with the rest of the Seattle crew and a few other did. "Tonight Associates must work a mandatory eleventh hour. I.A.s [Integrity Associates, because apparently "temp" is no longer p.c.] are strongly encouraged to work the eleventh hour." The Seattle folks were not happy and we asked if the bus back to the Nugget would wait for us. We were told that Seattle folks were strongly, strongly encouraged to work the extra hour and that we could get rides home with the team leads who have cars, but they couldn't make us work the extra hour. I didn't grow up in the Reagan years and learn nothing: I just said no.

More gifts I don't want: poems by Jewel, The History of Torture, Death Scenes

It's Friday, it's Friday. Tonight, I shall have my bloody mary at the blackjack table.

Tuesday, December 4

Break 2

  • Friggin' vending machine! I've been looking forward to an ice cream sandwich since break 1, and the machine is out of them! Other ice cream just won't do.
  • The guy who comes around and tallies up our numbers knows my name, but still always says, "Thank you, young lady," when I've given him my totals. He needs a shower pretty badly.
  • I think I'd like to write an essay, "Working Graveyard with Smelly People, or How I Spent My Christmas Vacation."
  • Just another hour to go until it's like Thursday night, which means tomorrow is Friday, it's Friday!
Getting fried chicken all over the keyboard and my apron (this year, a festive red with deep pockets). The night is going quickly: I'm on complete autopilot. I like having the late lunch because it means the end of the evening will pass quickly.

Gifts I don't want (besides a salad spinner): Naked L.A., Naked N.Y. (not any other Naked City for that matter), Barbie Shake and Make Lipstick or Nail Kit.
Break 1
Feeling the burn tonight. Switched shoes, and so far feet are fair. But I'm feeling sleepier tonight than any other night. Barely standing.

I'm waiting to get my ass kicked by a bunch of little old ladies. Multis cleared out last night, so another away-teamer and I were sent downstairs to singles. The woman in charge so obviously didn't want us there, but the operations manager insisted. She set us up, saying, "Well, here's a siscors, but it don't work. There's no tape at this station." The O.M. is running around finding us supplies and we finally start in at 3:50. We get about five items done each when the woman comes back and says, "We stop at 4. You gotta clean up now." The other wrapper says, "Let me just finish my tote," and the woman says, "No, you gotta clean now." We had back to out original stations and run into the O.M. who's asking why were headed back. I told him, "They stop at 4 over there," and a woman standing behind him shoots daggers at me. The O.M. was instantly on the phone making sure that they no longer end early. I'm waiting for the singles wrapping posse to find me in a corner of the F.C. to get me for ratting them out.

Tonight's gift card so far: The gift: Gay Men Straight Jobs. The card: "Maybe you should add your job."

Found out tonight that in addition to taking over Delivers, I'll also be taking on SNPs.

Monday, December 3

Still in gift wrap. Doing well, except that my feet are in agony, even with my good new shoes. Hoping we have no problems getting back to the Nugget tonight. I-80 going west of the Nugget was closed because of weather. It started snowing today, but as of when we got here, it didn't seem to be sticking.

  • I wish we had access to customer's e-mail addresses so we could prevent them from making grave gifting errors. For instance, I'd like to get in touch with the guy who sent his mother and another female each a salad spinner. I'd like to write him and say, "Dude, I don't even celebrate Christmas, but even I know that no one wants a salad spinner sitting under the tree. How about we swap this for some cool cds before your order goes out?"
  • Lots of dads sending gifts to kids long distance. Some of the messages have been really sad.
  • What's the meaning behind this one. Gift card: "We're all lying in the gutter...only some of us are looking at the stars." Gift: two books on courtesans.
  • Intrigued by the what-seems-to-be brother sending an educational toy to a kid under five (card reads: "I hope you don't have this, but knowing Mom, you already do), and a violent video game to another brother with a card reading "U OWE ME!" I'm guessing the mother is going to love that one.
Break 1

  • There's a TV show on at 5:30 a.m. on Sundays called High School Sports of the Week. It was fascinating.
  • Strange to see "Florida Caulder" in the Race & Sports room at the Nugget.
  • What was I doing in the Race & Sports room at the Nugget? Why collecting my winnings for yesterday's Dolphins game.
  • Back in gift wrap. Favorite gift of the night. Card reads: "Can you believe what our other amigo has been up to?" Gift: A MInd of Its Own: The Cultural History of the Penis.
  • Odd gift: A game, sent by someone in Germany to someone in Washington state called New York Chase. Can't imagine we're selling a whole lot of those right now.

Sunday, December 2

Break 2
Mmmm, brownies for lunch. Saved mine, and while the brownie is a bit dry, I get to eat the frosting off of it for my snack.

My feet are starting to tire for the night. I'm at that part of the evening where I am not only talking to myself, but I'm talking to myself loudly enough that the locals are eyeing me funny.

We no longer use the turtle packs. At least, nowhere that I can see them.

I'm judging complete strangers from their orders. I decide if I'd want to be their friend or not. I'm particulary fond of people who either order lots of good looking cookbooks (they're welcome to have me over for dinner) and people who have bought DVDs I've recommended on the site (if they're listening to what I say, then of course I will like them). I have no respect for evil parents who only buy educational toys for their kids (c'mon, everyone deserves a Mike Wozeski toy this year), and I'm sick of Harry Potter, even though I'm finally reading book one and I'm surprised to say, I was wrong about it--I'm absolutely loving it and can't wait to get back tonight to read more. I'm very curious about the person who ordered the Ben & Jerry's dessert book, an ice cream cookbook, The Bathroom Book 1, and an ice cream scoop. What they hell do you suppose he/she was thinking?
Foiled! Apparently I shoot too fast, and I got pulled from gift wrap to go back to Crisplant. And I was kicking in ass, too, in gift wrap. Most of the stuff coming down the chutes have been pretty mundane--lots of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings stuff. Not as much Monsters, Inc. for my taste. Only one spotting of books on anal pleasures for women to brighten the shift. But still, the feet are holding up, and it really doesn't feel as bad. I think the after-shift swim and then eucalyptus bath helped a ton.
Break 1
Now gift wrap is moving.

  • Favorite gift card at 8:17 p.m.: "A gift you can't refuse" on The Godfather DVD set.
  • My index finger is black and sticky from the tape.
  • Most cliched gift card at 9:23 p.m.: "A gift you can't refuse" on The Godfather DVD set.
  • Someone bought 65 copies of The Cake Mix Doctor (which granted is a good book) to give as gifts.
  • Ugly expensive shoes are indeed better than cheap cute ones.

Saturday, December 1

Break 2
The barrage hasn't started yet, so for now, I'm out of gift wrap and chuting on Crisplant. I think that night shift is actually easier than day. I'm more awake right now than I was at any point last year on the day shift. Two hours and fifteen more minutes tonight, and then only nine work days left. So far, cake.
Lunch break
Definitely a lot more information than last year. Here's a sampling of what I've learned so far:

  • A Neil Diamond concert is louder than an Oakridge Boys concert
  • There's such a thing as an inappropriate undergarment, but I'm not sure what that is
  • Chiropractors are good, but they'll want to you to keep coming back and back and back...
  • 80% of all scalpings are fatal
  • If a wedding ring is caught in a conveyer, it will pull the meat off your finger, but leave the bone
  • Back braces are bad, unless you are laying sod

Starting work after lunch (which, again, is significantly better than last years). Somehow, still feel awake. Don't feel like I'm getting sick, which is a DC first for me. Could actually live through this one (although not being sick means a greater risk of losing all my per diem at blackjack. I do understand about not hitting when the dealer is showing a bust card, but I never know what to do when she's not and I've got something between a 12 and a 15. Must read that print out that Adam sent me).
Break 1
Feeling the need for sleep. Orientation is much more thorough this year, although it's being held in a warm room. Head hurts a bit from either the hotel's neon or the beers (let's call it the neon, okay?). Night shift is definitely better from a food standpoint--there's time to eat before the shift. Luckily, I'm sure I'll be too tired at the end of tonight's shift to hit the blackjack table again.