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
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