Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pro Tip

On September 29th, I received a promotional email from the Idaho Steelheads hockey team. I guess when you buy tickets online, they get your email address and send you junkmail advertisements for ticketing deals for the next season. 

I was actually glad to receive the email. I like going to a hockey game, and the Steelheads offer a fun night out, especially on dollar beer night. Sure, I'd rather go see the Blackhawks, but I can't afford to get myself to Chicago, let alone get tickets to the Madhouse on Madison.

Now, this particular email had a deal that was interesting, though the details were a bit lacking. The tag was "4 games for as low as $56." If that's 4 single game tickets for $56, that's not a super great deal, unless the seats are better than nosebleed. If it's 2 tickets per game, 4 games, then we're talking a great deal. Still, I had to turn the deal down for a very important reason.

You see, this promotional deal only ran through the month of September, which means that they left me less than 36 hours to take advantage. While I'm not living paycheck to paycheck, I'm on a budget. My husband manages our finances well enough to allow us to attend the occasional hockey game, but these aren't spur of the moment decisions. The funds are planned, at least a month in advance, if not far more for big things like our trip to the Washington coast this past summer.

And so, I did the only thing that I could reasonably do in the circumstances. I replied.
I sure wish I had heard about this deal sooner. Since there's less than two days left in September, I don't have time to budget for this great deal. :(
I am interested in hearing about other pricing deals since I do love going out to see the Steelheads.
Okay, my initial reaction was a reply more along the lines of:
Pro Tip: When advertising a month long sale, send out emails at the beginning of the month, rather than the day before the end.  
Either I'm reading Kameron Hurley's* marketing tips too closely, or this hockey team's marketing department isn't.

*There are marketing tips on that Twitter feed, but also hilarity and swearing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Like a Boss

A few months ago, my boss was on vacation. She was going to be gone for two weeks, a nice long trip. We had prepared for her absence as best as we could, and my own long vacation would be happening two days after she came back. Summer's not a busy time at my workplace, which worked out great for both of us, since we both liked taking outdoorsy vacations.

But, the week before she was supposed to come back, the gut punch arrived.

She was not coming back.

At first, I didn't believe it. Classic denial. And then I proceeded quickly through the rest of the stages, landing more in limbo than anything else. For several weeks, I waited to see how things would fall out in my section of the office.

And, two weeks ago, the word came down. I was promoted into my boss's position.

Supervising isn't something that I'd ever planned on doing, but this would be a small team and I would have a mentor in my boss's boss, who had actually been my original boss when I first started in this office. I felt that my path wouldn't be easy, but it would be possible. Something that I could handle. I could learn to supervise.

Then an uppercut came out of nowhere.

My now-boss, who had been my boss's boss before my boss left, was also leaving the department.

When she told me and my direct report, I maintained an outward calm, because I had to take this without freaking out. If there was ever a chance to prove that I could keep control over my emotions sufficiently to be a good supervisor, then the time was now. At the least, I wouldn't be able to prove it to her for much longer.

But it was important for me to prove it to myself as well. I know that one of my weaknesses in this team environment has been a tendency to be overly emotional. Inside, my head is spinning at the rapid pace of change, but outwardly, I'm working on projecting the kind of calm that will hold my team together.

I'm trying to take these punches like a boss.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Aisle Rage

There's no place that proves we shouldn't have jet packs better than the grocery store.

Not because there are a lot of crashes, but because in no other place do people act as if they are alone when surrounded by other people.

Why else would someone park their cart on one side of the aisle and then stand in the space between it and the other side of the aisle to browse the shelves and single-handedly block an entire aisle? Why else would someone abruptly turn around without even a glance to see if anyone else is in the space they want to enter? In the grocery store, the cart is your own personal world, the store is your private freeway, and other carts are not other people, with hopes, fears and dreams of their own, but obstacles that are in your - your! - way.

It's easy to fall into cart rage in such situations. Too easy, to snarl at the idiot who can't decide which way they want to go, or which aisle has the items they want. You can build up a head of steam even in the moments before you get a cart as the person ahead of you blocks your way to grab one.

But that's just not healthy. Better by far to stand back, take a deep breath, and smile at the absurdity of the oblivious.

Better to nod to yourself with wisdom, knowing that this, this is why we can't have jet packs.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Creative Nonfiction

This semester, I'm taking a class on Creative Nonfiction. So far, I'm enjoying it. The teacher has been with the university for more years than I've been alive. Compared to last fall, when I was in the guinea pig group for a new, last minute replacement adjunct, that alone is wonderful.

But there are other aspects of the class that I'm finding useful. We write each class session, even if it is just fast writing in response to an excerpt from an essay in the text. The homework isn't burdensome, at least, not yet, and it keeps me writing.

Last semester, when I dedicated myself to the insane project of writing over 80 blog entries in response to the readings we did, I got a lot of practice in writing. But more is always better. I am tuning my writing, honing my skills and keeping up with my Hike with Me book.

I've had my smart phone for a little over a year now, and it is only in the last few weeks that I've started exploiting it for my writing. Yes, the screen is small and the typing is awkward, but the words come quickly and I can use the time waiting for class to start to just write.

Writing about the trip energizes me to write in class. Writing for homework feeds into writing for the trip. Writing begets writing, and, I hope, better writing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Come on, Get Happy

What is the value of happiness? Recently, I engaged in an online conversation in which a friend of mine decried the idea of happiness as worthless. To him, there is no meaning to life, a theory which he claims is proven and inarguable.

Naturally, I wanted to argue the point.

This isn't just because I have a degree in arguing; I remember what it's like not to believe in being happy. I remember the empty feelings that depression breeds so well. A perpetual hitch in the midsection like being caught on a rollercoaster that never regains an upward trajectory. From the inside of that dark canopy, it does seem to be incontrovertible. Fact. Misery is the norm, and happiness is for deluded suckers. From the outside, I find myself wanting to prove the value of happiness to someone who can't appreciate it.

I know that it’s a futile exercise. There is nothing that can break that bulwark from the outside. Only the person inside it can break it. Only the person inside it can choose to break it. Those choices aren't easy and sometimes you need medication and therapy to make them. The best anyone else can do is try to motivate them to make that choice for themselves.

I can ask him why he keeps pissing into the wind if he doesn’t like getting wet. I can ask him how his philosophy is working out for him, if he likes the way that it makes him feel. I can demonstrate that there are other ways to consider the world by being happy.

But I cannot push a wet noodle up a hill.

No matter how much I might want to.