I just worked 23 days in a row with only one day off. Some of them were eleven hour shifts, and always two hours of commute every day. I've been manager of this store for one month and two weeks. Five employees have left, one more dropped from full-time to two days, and this past weekend my receiver (the person who processes all the 'product,' meaning books and tchotchkes sidelines) had a heart attack, and I don't know when or if he's coming back. And really, that's not a relevant question when someone's had a heart attack.

(If this sounds like I'm a terrible manager - well, it's quite possible I am, at least for this position, but I'm not the reason why six employees jumped ship.)

My assistant manager was gone for a week. To Comicon, yay! She's fannish, and we traded AO3 pseuds! But her absence coincided with the flurry of people giving notice, and the last of the part-timers hired back in April (a wryly funny, bohemian person of utter loveliness) is taking the whole month of October off. Her real job is with Kaiser Hospital, and she definitely deserves a vacation from that, but again. Ouch.

Which has left me practically alone to cover shifts. Not yay.

Meanwhile, the Christmas stock has been arriving in wave after wave of boxes. I'm one person; I can't possibly process all this. Or do returns. Or events (actually, yeah, I had to do the events. I got home after eleven at night after an hour and a half of driving in the dark. I hate driving in the dark. And there was a horrific accident that had traffic at a dead stop on the highway). I've been trying to conduct interviews in between juggling everything else. There is no company structure or support for understaffed stores or in the event of unavoidable falling-behind, so I've been left to flail alone.

I am very, very, very, very tired. And angry. And I have no life. The stress of this job is ridiculous, and exactly what I feared it would be. (No bookstore job should be a dysfunctional nightmare. You simply don't get paid enough to justify the stress.) And I wonder how everything has been reduced to this. And why, every time I make a choice in an attempt to do the right thing, my life becomes harder.

I miss being happy, or at least content. And oh God do I miss having an interior world.

Then lo and behold, last week a package arrived on my landlady's doorstep, addressed to me. When I swooped inside and opened it, what delightful prospect met my eye? A bevy of Snapes! A smattering of Sirius! And to top it all off, a sneaky, seductive Snape/Harry. [livejournal.com profile] akatnamedeaster, who is all that is generous and artistic and delightful, mailed me a package full of her glorious art! Some are color copies left over from Leviosa, and although I have no skill in this area, the reproductions and color transfers seem beautiful and sharp to me. Some are pages of original art (which always gives me an extra heart clutch of gratitude, because how wonderful is that?).

There are panels from Advent, one of my favorite series in the Severus/Sirius legendarium, with consistently fantastic art sustained over 59 pages (!!!). There's something about seeing the precision of the pencil lines, the places where the lead bore down, the texture and shading and every particle of expression that's special to me. And the Snarry pic, a sequel to Deviltry (linked because I can't find the post for the artwork Kat sent me), is a serenade to ambiguous sexual enthrallment, i.e. right up my alley on the Snarry front. There's also a lovely drawing of Severus reading, naked and on his stomach, his feet kicked up in the air and one hand absently scratching his bum.

The postcards include one of Kat's most beautiful and elaborate drawings, Gods in Odd Places; Rites of Spring, an utterly gorgeous portrait of Sirius dancing naked in the grass, with only a few vines to clothe him (the anatomy here is exquisite), and a full-color drawing of Severus and Sirius rubbing off against each other, the lovely detail and delicacy of their facial features fraught with emotion and their utter focus on each other.

All right, so I've had today off, and tomorrow (well, today) it's back to work for me. I haven't caught up even halfway, and I desperately need to Write All the Things. But this gift, this box of wonders, completely lit up the long, dreary tunnel of drudgery that stretches in both directions. I've tried twice now to write a thank-you note, but I've been too exhausted to muster coherence.

Thank you, dearest Kat, for sending me a care package and treasure chest all rolled into one. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. And I hope someday I can return the favor when you, too, need something to gladden your heart. <3 <3 <3

From: [identity profile] creascendo.livejournal.com

Sounds like your work is something of a black hole; it consumes all of you. I don't have advice to offer, but I hear you and I'm always here if you'd like to talk, vent, or if you're in need of encouragement and support. *HUGS*

I hope the people on vacation will come back soon to lighten your load. And that you find new employees who make the work atmosphere all the more pleasant.

Sounds like a lovely care package! Are you able to hang things in your apartment?

I found this update by chance —- I came over to consult your list of fics, as I do when at a loss for a good story -— because it didn't show up on my friends' feed. Perhaps when you posted you (accidentally?) ticked the box to not include it in people's friend or RSS feeds?

From: [identity profile] perverse-idyll.livejournal.com

Work definitely feels like being tossed around in the belly of a whale, and oh god do I want out. The store just opened 6 months ago, and after four months they transferred the original manager, and I (very stupidly) agreed to take her place. The store's not making enough money yet to support a reasonable number of employees, so the pressure is on to reduce hours. The only way to meet the sales to wage ratio is if I continue to work every day and regularly pull double shifts.

During the Christmas season.

Which is insane, and I'm not a masochist, yet I think it's what the general manager expects of me.

*sigh* Thank you for letting me rant some more. I'm trying to keep it in perspective and not whine so much, but I really do feel trapped (no savings and huge debt). But yes, I've hired new employees, and they're wonderful. We finally have a chance to dig ourselves out of the mountain of backlog. Only, no sooner do I bring people on board than upper management wants me to get rid of some of them and cut hours. I don't know what to do.

Kat's artwork, though - that always makes me happy. It's emotional and funny and sexy, and I love her line art. I can't hang it on the wall, alas - I'm crammed into one room of my landlady's house, which isn't terribly private - but maybe someday.

I may have messed up the act of posting somehow. I was very tired and not thinking clearly when I wrote the original post. And thanks for reminding me - I've been neglecting my recs list lately.

How is your library job going? I remember you being overworked as well. Have things settled into a more civilized routine?

From: [identity profile] creascendo.livejournal.com

It's startling how out of touch some administrators can be with the reality of direct customer service. Would you be comfortable asking the general manager about their expectations? Perhaps clearing it up would alleviate the pressure? At least you'd know for sure? I'm the type who likes to know, asks a direct answer. However, it can be tricky depending on the type of manager...

I'm surprised that the higher-ups expect the store to make money right away. Isn't there a rule that new stores shouldn't be expected to make money before the first year? Their expectations are downright unreasonable given that they took away their initial manager and you've been replacing her for only 2 months!

This is a seriously shitty situation, and I'm sorry they dumped this on you only to add hurdles and pressure instead of supporting you as a new manager. *HUGS*

I use to have a fandom treasure box of all the art and memorabilia I couldn't exhibit. Making time to have a look through it can be a very comforting experience. Until you have the space to proudly display Kat's art -- and I'm sure you'll get there! -- I hope it brings you lots of joy. <3

Thank you for asking. Not much of a routine as I'm on call, but at least they're respecting our "off" days now... Well, for the most part. (There were a couple of incidents, but I don't have the energy to get into it.)

From: [identity profile] cranky--crocus.livejournal.com

I just worked 23 days in a row with only one day off.
Aaaahhhh *cringes*

And why, every time I make a choice in an attempt to do the right thing, my life becomes harder.
I wonder that all the time too. And am sending you so many hugs! What an exhausting experience.

♥ for a parcel. Once I get to have a life again--I think I can almost maybe see it a little on the horizon?--I'll have to send you a letter as well!

It's good to 'see' you; I've missed you terribly and think of you often.


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