Friday, October 28, 2005

Looting and Pillaging

It has been a while since I've blogged. I have excuses, of course. I will share them with you now.

I've been working nearly 70 hours per week between my two jobs as well as planning my book launch event, etc. The book launch took place last Sunday. It was fabulous. More later.

Last night I worked at the Halloween store. It is the second day I've worked this week. While I have been used to the store getting cluttery and downright messy, nothing had prepared me for what I was going to step into Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. (when my shift started). The store is quite large for a temporary business. It is located in a strip mall, and the space it occupies was once an appliance store many moons ago, I'm told. We have nearly every costume imaginable (except some obvious ones, but we only get what we get from corporate), a bunch of props, fake blood, lifesize and ridiculously large rats, fog machines, things that light up, things that talk (waaaay too much), zillions of latex masks ranging in price from $9.99 to $59.99, Halloween make-up, oodles of false eyelashes, vampire teeth, slutty costumes (also known as Legs Avenue), fart machines, dozens of children's Spider-man costumes in one size only (7-10), obscene costumes (including "Tricky Dick" the inflatable penis costume, which we apparently have sold out of), hundreds of wigs, flying bats, styrofoam tombstones, and many other items many people feel they need to have or at least pick up and put down somewhere else in the store.

I am a temporary employee. I make not a whole lot an hour. I have not complained about this because overall I have enjoyed working at the store and helping people shop for the holiday I love. In fact, I've been priding myself on my customer service, keeping the store in good order, sweeping up feathers and such with the little push-roller non-electric Hoover, etc. What a fun job, I had said to myself many a time.

Then the disillusionment began to set in. A few weeks ago I realized that one of my co-workers was really good at telling people what to do, yet not doing a damn thing except sitting on his ass and occasionally checking people out at the register. There is more to life in the Halloween store than attending the register. There is much clean-up and restocking to do. It is not a difficult job. In reality, a trained monkey could probably do it. Pick things up and put them in their appropriate sections in the appropriate spaces. We don't have to price anything, as the items come priced and ready to be put up.

We wear orange shirts. After all, it is a Halloween store, and orange is a seasonal color. It's also easy to pick us out of the crowd. Yet not all of my coworkers wear their shirts. I do not believe it is because they have a disdain for orange as much as they do not want to be recognized as staff. I wear my shirt every time I work, because we are supposed to. For me, this is not a hard concept. I'm also one of those wacky people that tends to follow the rules.

I also do not steal. This is another concept that some of my co-workers allegedly do not understand. Supposedly, a strip mall neighbor saw one of our workers (in this case I use that term loosely as he is not real keen on actually working) waiting out back by our dumpster for his friend's van to pull up. Then he opened the dumpster and pulled out bags of merchandise and put it in the van. As we do not have a register behind the store by the dumpster, I can only assume these goods were, as kids these days say, "hot."

On top of this, I still do not steal. But it seems that others do. I just found out that one of my favorite co-workers was accused of stealing money from the cash registers one night while closing. The money was accidentally left in the cash register by this young woman, so she left a note for the morning people to explain (after closing down the registers, you can't get back into them--a manager has to open them again). The person who opened the next morning reported that the money was missing. He, who is also among the losers who do not do a damn thing in the store, accused my young female co-worker of stealing the cash. I wish I had known about this sooner, as I was the other person closing that night. I saw the money in the drawers and saw her shut them. I was there when she wrote the note and say she hoped she wouldn't get in trouble for leaving the money in the registers (this was a policy that changed recently, so she shut the drawers out of habit).

When the female manager, who is way cool and on top of things, told the owner what happened, he did not believe her. Why? Because the loser who does not work told the owner that the girl did it. The manager told him that it was most likely the loser who did it, because he's been getting away with murder for months. The owner dismissed everything she told him. My young co-worker turned her key in. I had been wondering why I hadn't seen her for a while. This girl is a very hard worker and is dedicated to doing a good job. The manager says that since she (the manager) has no penis that the owner won't listen to her. I told her to wear the big inflatable penis costume the next time she talked to the owner. Perhaps he'd listen then.

Now to the looting and pillaging.

People are animals. That is a generalization, but if you stepped foot into the Halloween store this week, you'd agree.

to be continued

Monday, October 17, 2005

The local star, that's me.

For all you Quad Citians, I'm somebody! Reporter and arts and entertainment editor David Burke did a story on me for the Quad-City Times on Sunday, Oct. 16. It was the cover of the Arts & Entertainment section. I mean it was the cover! A HUGE photo of me peering through a mausoleum gate. Ironically, it was the same mausoleum I had my picture taken in front of for the Argus/Dispatch a few weeks ago for the Oakdale Memorial Gardens cemetery walk. But it looks totally different to those not as familiar with Oakdale as me (and Dustin, who even drove by while I was being interviewed--such a hard-core taphophile).

The long of the short of it (or something like that):

- The "Cemetery Walk" book launch event is this coming Sunday (hooray!!!). I have no idea how many people will show up. A good number have RSVP'd, and then there's the newspaper article announcing it. It could mean millions. Okay, maybe hundreds. Okay, maybe 100. I'm game.

- Mom is on food and decoration shopping detail. She and Grandma were working on some table decorations tonight. My friend Katie and I also shopped online for wonderful things. It's a Mardi Gras theme.

- One of the food items is called Plantation Curried Fruit. I am so excited about that! Plus, I'm making my famous (at least I think so) Minda's Huck Finn Sweet Potatoes, which were formerly known as Minda's Sweet Potatoes. I added the Huck Finn in homage to my buddy Mark Twain ... and because I was inspired to make them because of a dinner theater performance of "Big River" at Circa '21.

- I dropped off one more coffin press kit today. This one went to Barnes & Noble at NorthPark Mall in Davenport, Iowa. Bill and I also dropped by Borders in Davenport last night, and I talked to Terry. He apologized for not ordering my book sooner. He's already gotten requests for my book! Wow!!! How cool is that? Hopefully that book signing there will come soon. And, of course, I want to do one at Barnes & Noble.

- As my job with the Spirit Halloween store will be ending in a few weeks, I've decided to apply for another part-time job. I decided on Barnes & Noble, as I love books, I've worked at a bookstore before, and it's pretty close to Palmer (my day job). A few years ago I worked at Borders and really like my old co-workers there (Troy, Terry, Brandon ... and Jen is she's still working there). But they had me in the cafe, and while I love making espresso drinks, I do not like making food food. As a mostly vegetarian person, handling meat and such is totally gross to me. So if I did get hired back there, odds are they'd put me back in the cafe. No thank you. If Barnes & Noble offers me cafe work, I'm going to say no thank you. I've got to do something I know I will enjoy or it won't be worth the extra time away from my husband and the time taken away from my book and magazine stuff.

Why am I looking for an extra job, you may be asking? Because I want to finally pay off some medical bills that have been hanging around, and because I want to start saving for my next trip to New Orleans. I really want to go down for Mardi Gras 2006. They're going to have it, and I want to be there to celebrate the rebirth of the most beautiful city on earth.

- My cat Shakespeare misses me and is having separation anxiety issues. Our other girl India is pretty much upset because two nights a week she has to wait a few extra hours for her dinner. She weighs 20 pounds and is only 3 years old. She's a big baby.

- I'm waiting to hear back from a local music store about jazz funeral musicians for my book event. Cross your fingers that Jason finds some people for it!

- It seems some magazine subscribers mags have either gotten lost in the mail or were accidentally overlooked. Unfortunately, since I'm the only one running and working the show, this has happened. Fortunately, my subscribers are the nicest people on the planet and understand. You guys rule.

- I wish everyone from out of town could make it to the party this weekend. You guys are always with me in spirit, though.

- Say a prayer for my grandma, please. She's going in for a test tomorrow. Send some good energy her way.

- To read the QC Times article from yesterday, click here =

- has surpassed the 6,000 mark. Hooray!!!

Well, that's it for me tonight if I want to go to bed kind of on time. First I need to do laundry, which I forgot again until just now. Got to wash my Spirit Halloween shirt for tomorrow night! Work work work! If you're in the area, stop in and say hi.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Spirit Halloween Superstore, how may I help you?

If you call the Davenport Spirit Halloween store, you will hear that on the other end of the line--and you might just be talking to me! Yep, I got a part-time job at the local Halloween shop. And it's not just any run of the mill spooky store--it is the area's craziest and biggest Halloween store! For a part-time job, it's pretty sweet. I mean, I am the cemetery grrrl after all.

It all started when I was kicking around the idea of getting a part-time job for the holiday season. With the ridiculous gas prices (which are completely uncalled for and unnecessary, thank you, Mr. Bush and evil corporate cronies), a new car and the holidays coming up, times are tight. On top of that, I've got a book and magazine to promote! That takes time and money, my friends. I've got to save money up for the book tour, you know. A self publisher is far from rich! (at least for now ;-)

So I happen upon the listing for the Spirit store. How perfect! It's only through Nov. 1, and it's HALLOWEEN! Perfect. This way I can decide if part-time on top of full-time on top of book and magazine will work for me, and it's only for a month. And it's HALLOWEEN! And I love it. What a sweet job! I get to be in a huge store chock full of Halloween craziness. It's perfect! I get to help people, who are mostly very nice. And I also get to fully appreciate the proper upbringing I got from my parents. Because, let me tell you, there are some kids who are obnoxious. But worse than that is the fact that THEIR PARENTS are worse than they are! First of all, the kids act like they were raised by psychotic wolves (because I honestly think wolves could have done a much better job of raising decent kids). Tossing things around. Putting mask after mask on. Tossing them aside. Licking them.

Important aside: I highly recommend to my intelligent readers that you DO NOT ever buy a mask at a store unless you have the intent of Lysoling the hell out of it once you get that sucker home. You can't imagine how many people try those things on EVERY DAY. Cootie central. Better yet, go to and order one off of the site. A brand new one. It will be worth it.

Back to the losers that come into the store. While I don't mind straightening up--because things just get messy--there is a big difference between normal messiness and people who are just a**holes. You know what I'm talking about. And don't get me started about the people lifting costumes or other items. Yes, the costumes and such can be pretty pricey. But that's life. And if you are stealing items, you're making the prices shoot up that much higher. It's like our gas prices ... thieves are in charge of the oil, and it is the thieves that price the gas ridiculously high. Long story short: don't steal, freaks!

But aside from the random idiots of the area, work at the Halloween store is sweet. And they pay me to do it! I get to help people find wacky items. People are usually in a good mood, as they're looking for costumes and props and stuff for an upcoming good time.

Another word to the wise. No matter where you go, it's pretty much the given rule that if it's a Halloween item, there are no returns. That's just the way of the holiday world. People are all about returning something they wore to a party "but didn't get dirty." Not everyone, mind you, but enough to make this rule a rule. We're not the only store that does this by a long shot.

Anyway, though my feet are tired (three day in a row of long shifts on my feet, and I'm a sore footed wuss! Desk jobs will kill ya!), it was a fun day. Right as we were closing, I got a call from a woman who wanted a costume in a plus size. I went over and found a couple for her and described them. What do they come with? How big are they? I tell her and tell her the size suggestions, etc. Can you take them out and see how big they really are? Will they fill a person of such and such size? I was on the phone a good 10 minutes with her. I thought she was going to have me try it on to see if it would fit HER! Geez, lady, I don't know what you even look like! She was very nice, though, and appreciated the help I gave her. No problem. I'm here to help.

Well, I'm also here to see my beloved husband, who is dozing on the couch. His band played for a kids Halloween program today. With my new evening and weekend schedule at Spirit and his evening and day hours and Saturday hours at the museum, we don't see each other nearly as much as we're used to. We miss each other! So I'm going to snuggle up with him and watch a scary movie and drink some hot cocoa. Sounds like a perfect night to me.


Check out the new book! It's on the site!