My ebooks The Witch Box and The Sons of Man are free at Amazon for kindle 'til Tues., 8/9. If you read any of these, please leave an honest review at Amazon or Goodreads.Thanks:) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IZ54N6 http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IZ6W0BW
My ebooks The Witch Box and The Sons of Man are now available at Amazon for Kindle for .99 cents http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IZ6W0BW and http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IZ54N6S These ebooks also remain as free downloads at Smashwords, Nook, and Kobo, along with the Last Girl, which received its 1,000th download at Smashwords. Thanks to all of my readers :)
My Kindle ebooks- Karma House, The Last Girl, and The Fountain Gift, along with my vampire tales A Foreign Body, Time Immortal and Blood Bonds-are free downloads at Amazon for Kindle until Tues., 6/21/16. If you read any of these, please leave a review at Amazon or Goodreads. Thanks :) www.amazon.com/Laura-Ellison/e/B0091K33H2
My Kindle ebooks Karma House and my vampire tales A Foreign Body, Time Immortal, and Blood Bonds are free downloads at Amazon for Kindle 'til Tuesday, 6/16. If you read any of these, please leave an honest review at Amazon. Thanks :)
The Fountain Gift, my new ebook, is free at Amazon for Kindle 'til Tuesday, 4/21. If you read The Fountain Gift, please leave an honest review at Amazon. Thanks:) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VPURXO0
The Fountain Gift, my new ebook, is now available at Amazon for kindle for 99cents. If you read The Fountain Gift, please leave an honest review at Amazon. Thanks:) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VPURXO0
My ebooks for Kindle- Karma House and my vampire tales A Foreign Body, Time Immortal, and Blood Bonds- are free downloads 'til Tues. 3/31. If you read any of these, please leave an honest review at Amazon. Here is my author page: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Ellison/e/B0091K33H2 Thanks:) Also, The Last Girl, The Sons of Man, and The Witch Box are always free over at Smashwords. I would also appreciate reviews for these wherever you downloaded them.
I started working at Shape Corporation of Grand Haven, Michigan in September. I'm always nervous when starting a new job; however, being the food-oriented person I am, I focus on my lunch and the lunches of others. Lunchtime is only twenty minutes on every shift, so lunch can be a snatch and chew situation. Fast food places are close by, but when money is tight, it's not uncommon to see my co-workers eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or nothing at all.
I witnessed a co-worker eating soup out of the can in his car. Chunky Soup. That stuff is only good hot. This guy works hard, but he was eating like a homeless person. Some of my co-workers are heavily in debt(join the club), paying for college(most of my co-workers are half my age), paying child support or are single mothers. Shape pays a competitive wage, at least. My former co-workers from K-Mart had to rely on public assistance along with their paychecks. The minimum wage is still pitiful, but at least the amount was raised. Gas prices are down, which is fortunate, because I have to drive forty minutes to work every day, fifty or more in bad weather. I had to listen to my brother's anti-Obama rant at Thanksgiving, but all I know is I have a full-time job with benefits for the first time in almost fifteen years and gas is the lowest I've seen it since 2005.
Getting back to diet, Shape has a gym in one of its buildings and encourages healthy eating and lifestyle. Smoking is prohibited on all campuses; I had to sign a form promising I would never smoke. I am not a smoker, but I wonder about my co-workers that go speeding out of the parking lot at break times. A Wal-Mart and Meijer store are close by, so I'm sure someone is lighting up in the parking lots over there. In the break room, we have Avenue C, a series of refrigerated vending machines that offer healthy food. I now know I hate quinoa, thanks to my employer. I ate some of this stuff with a meal offered during a bonus meeting. Quinoa is not rice or oatmeal, it's paste, Actually, I think paste has more flavor. Just like plain Greek yogurt. Of course, next to the Avenue C machines, there is still cold sodas, including Mountain Dew, which takes up a whole row. I hate Mountain Dew; I think it tastes awful and leaves an aftertaste that makes your breath smell like chemicals. However, Mountain Dew is like Kool-Aid compared to the amount of Monster, Red Bull, and coffee drinks my co-workers consume. Shape may encourage healthy choices, but I don't see too many people taking advantage. If an employee in production is working seven days a week, fast food and coffee are very convenient.
One night, the weather was so cold and blizzardly(I know, that's not a word) outside, that I ate my lunch in the break room. I usually eat my lunch in my car, but I took my sandwich, pudding, and cookies to the large, warm break room. I sat at a picnic-style table, and soon realized I was back at school, everyone in their little groups. I found myself at the Loner Table without knowing it. I could feel my self-esteem deflate; just like the old days. A woman sat across from me. She kept her lunchbox close, she was almost hugging it. She nibbled on a cracker, then another, slowly. In the whole twenty minutes of our lunch break, the woman ate two crackers. She was a foreign woman, much thinner than me. Watching her eat was making me nervous, so I focused my own lunch while most of the crew had their faces in their phones while they were eating.
Some people get so sick of dealing with lunch that they skip it; they have a snack or nothing. But I get hungry in the middle of my shift, so I eat. In the parking lot, the garbage bins are full of pizza and fast food containers, along with the cursed plastic bags. Soup cans on the pavement, along with used earplugs. You can't eat earplugs, although my grand-niece Charleigh tried to eat mine once(she probably thought she was eating marshmallows). Earplugs are a requirement at work, making communication interesting. I've developed my own sign language, along with a series of facial expressions. Everyone seems to do this; I had to get used to speaking up around the noisy machines.
Food is my stress-reliever, and I have gained weight. Driving on icy roads in low visibility during a snowstorm is nerve-wracking as well. My car was rear-ended on my way to work last month. Now the bumper hangs down like a swollen bottom lip. A new car is in my future, and I am saving. I'm tired, but optimistic. With the end of winter, I'm looking forward to the publication of another book, The Fountain Gift, and my new release, The Sons of Man(free at Smashwords). I've been trying to squeeze in some new writing, but I'm lucky to have time to write this blog post. But, as busy as I've been, my imagination is calling. My mind wanders while I stand at my machine, watching the robot weld the components together to make support beams for Dodge trucks. When I drive home at night, I drive past these old Victorian houses that have been restored lately; a few years before, these houses were almost in ruins. I had a dream about being in house like that, going up the old stairs to a room, an old mattress against the wall, supported by chains. I recently wrote this poem I call Ashes:
Up the stairs
So many steps
I am not seen
In this house
Not my home
Around a corner
So many doors
To the room
With the bed that burned
Mattress skeleton springs
Who slept here?
My father's house
A good job is good to have, but my heart is calling for spring and inspiration. The snow will melt away and something new will grow. In the meantime, a toasted steak and cheese sandwich from Subway sounds good. Maybe I'll get a chocolate chip cookie. :)
My Kindle books-Karma House, The Last Girl, Blood Bonds, A Foreign Body, and Time Immortal-are all free at Amazon for kindle 'til Tues. 12/2. www.amazon.com/dp/B00AUQFFU4
A co-worker said to me just weeks ago, "If you leave, I'll want to leave, too." This same co-worker will be moving on to another job soon, she has already been hired. I knew a change was coming when I realized that she was the only person left at K-Mart that I had trained with four years ago. Everyone else from our group is gone, these people finding other jobs or getting fired for whatever reasons. The average worker lasts about five years at a job nowadays; unlike my grandfather who worked at the same factory for forty years. Those jobs don't exist anymore; we're nomads now, carefully hiding our mercenary tendencies. My co-worker's boyfriend made a comment on Facebook about her new job, posting the message through her account. One of her Facebook friends is our department manager, who found out about the message while on Facebook. Our manager then called our general manager, letting him know he had 'lost another one.'
The exodus of workers at our store has a lot to due with decisions coming from almighty Corporate; no raises and no new hires. Because of this, we are now short-handed during the important Back-to-School shopping period. I was told that Human Resources had interviewed eleven people, but I've only seen a few new hires. These people are cashiers, not where I work on the sales floor, straightening and picking up after every slob customer. Children's clothes are strewn everywhere while parents argue with their kids about...everything. I also can't believe the number of grandparents(and great-grandparents)buying clothes for their grandchildren. They tear apart the piles of summer clearance, looking for a few outfits their offspring can wear at the start of school, when the weather is still warm. Piles and piles of jeans in the fitting room, but they only buy one or two. What I really hate are the socks and underwear; pairs of panties torn from packages that have to be taped back together, some pieces 'mysteriously' missing. One night, a woman stole two hundred dollars worth of infants clothing. Because of the lack of security, she walked right out of the store, her big purse stuffed. I found the hangers and a pile of sales tags in a back booth in the fitting room. Dear God, no wonder the place is bleeding money.
The young workers quit because they can't admit that the place drives them crazy. One girl can be put in layaway, but is also expected to help cover breaks in jewelry and at the customer service desk. I don't do this, and I think that's why I have lasted four years. There could be a line in layaway, but the layaway associate is helping a customer at the jewelry counter, while the layaway customers patiently(or impatiently)wait, buzzing that stupid bell, carts full of kids' clothes, children running through the place.
The younger employees get taken advantage of the most. If they want job experience, they can get it being run ragged in that place. The lack of employees have the customers wandering the store, looking for help. I feel sorry for them and disgusted with the problems the store is making for itself. Another young co-worker quit last Saturday, walking out after working at the store for almost two years. She was called to a quick meeting at layaway, our general manager waiting. He had to deal with an unhappy customer in layaway. He met the customer there after she called him on her cell phone. He had the pleasure of listening to her expletive-laced unhappy sounds before she left. He then called the meeting. I was out in my car taking a well-deserved break, unaware of the problem. He had told every associate in softlines(my turf)that they were going to trained for layaway, every last one of us. My young co-worker quit on the spot. She already had another job, and was getting ready to put in her notice, but she lost her patience, the poor thing. I had seen her in the parking lot when I got out of my car, my break over. Her boyfriend was there, hugging her outside of his car. I wasn't too concerned, until my GM told me she had quit. He had calmed down by then, and I only learned about the unhappy customer later. I guess she had a real fit having to wait fifteen minutes for help in layaway. Anyway, you would have to be blind not to see the real problem. A company like Sears Holding Corporation is bleeding out while the CEOs keep their bonuses, although Sears and K-Mart can no longer compete in a world of Wal-Marts. The foundation has rotted, so the house will fall. Band-Aids work on human skin, but not on companies.
My co-worker is waiting on the call from her new job, informing her when she can get her orientation. In the meantime, I have been to a temp agency and sending out resumes. From when I was a teenager, the future always seemed like a pitch-dark room, better to be avoided in favor of daydreaming or trying to face my fears, the worst the fear of the unknown. Those old feelings of inadequacy would creep up my back, making me depressed and lazy. I wasn't going to make any courageous moves. Survival is scary enough by itself, but there was always something else, a little voice, singing songs, wanting to create dreams, showing me glimpses of sweeter places. That's where I really want to go, but the dark room is always there, and I have to open the door, being brave enough to step in, and face not only the unknown, but living with the life I have created along the way. These last four years were all about keeping my head above water and helping my mother. Now what? I only let myself dream in my writing, and that makes me happy when I'm doing it, but I wonder if I'll ever really be happy doing anything else that can promise me a living. Maybe happiness is relative, another responsibility to go with the rest. Can a bigger paycheck make me feel as content as writing? No. Will I be looking at the clock, or my watch, the whole time while I wait to be free? Yes, along with so many others. We take our brains and bodies to work while our souls feel trapped, stifled. I know I sound like a hippy, but I was not born a trust-fund baby, either, so I'm caught between love and obligation, the theme of many Russian novels. But wanting more, working for more, is an American thing. Who would we be without it? An empty shell? A lazy pile of crap? What? Our identities are embedded in work, in achieving, and if we all stopped, the fear of the unknown would be too much to bear, so it's better to be zombies with iPhones and hybrid cars, spending decades of our lives working at a computer or some machine. As the economy improves, it's going to be interesting to see how feelings about work and affluence have changed, if at all. Did we become better people during the Great Recession? I think many will be scrambling to just get back what they had, putting the past behind them. That's what my grandparents did after the Depression, more afraid of the past than the future, because the future has to be better, right? Instead, I think I'll just stay in the present, whatever that is. :)