Monday, September 08, 2008

Some odd comments from some people who mean well

I am living in my house and trying to figure out what to do about my situation. I know the general bit of what eventually must be done, but I haven't a clue about the specifics. Sometimes I think that I should get on with it anyway, and maybe I will figure out the rest as I go along.

So I try to get on with it, and then something happens. I maybe have a bad job interview. It's maybe a bit silly to get one's hopes up to that degree over one interview, but at the time I was really looking forward to getting a job, and getting a job at this place in particular.

Two things went really wrong at this interview. Actually, the first happened a bit before the interview. While I was not quite walking around the house singing, I did feel a bit better having come to a decision and having a job interview scheduled and a few other such things. And then my husband tells me that he really wants to work on our marriage and that he agrees to do some things that he should have agreed to long before. The point of all that being that if we were going to do what we'd agreed to do, I'd need Mondays off, or maybe I'd just need Monday afternoons off. So instead of going into the interview with the idea that I should say anything reasonable to get the job cause I really need a job, I end up going into the interview thinking the I don't need a job but I should probably feel better if I got one anyway, but it would be best if I could get one that did not involve working on Mondays or at least having Monday afternoons off. I'm not sure that getting Mondays off was really a problem, since the whole thing is rescheduled so that people get off Fridays during the summer I would think that a similar thing could be done so that certain people got off Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday during the rest of the year. And getting off Monday afternoons wouldn't have been any problem at all, as some people work in the morning only. In fact a whole lot of them work mornings only, since they have a strict policy of not having anyone in this particular job work over nineteen hours a week.

So it would not have been the perfect job in any case, even with Mondays off or afternoons off or whatever. But still, I would have liked it, and I would have tried harder to get it if I hadn't been asked to totally switch gears a couple of days before the interview. And that was all for nothing anyway, as my husband did not actually go through with any of the things he promised to do and I did not need this particular time off to schedule other things.

The other thing that went wrong during the interview was that while I was being asked the usual questions that one expects during a job interview, a question was asked that upset me just a little bit. One gets asks stuff like do you really want this job and can you handle this job and have you had a job like this before, etc.... And then maybe you get asked why you left your last job or why are you leaving your current position? And then you have to find something to say other than you quit because your boss was being an a**. I had this idea that this particular part of the process was going to go smoothly, because I did in fact have something to say other than my boss was an a**. I had in fact reasonable answers to why I left my last two jobs, even though technically I was let go from one of them. My last job was in fact, a temp job at the Halloween store. So there was nothing bad to say about anybody on that one, since it was just a temp job for a certain period of time and then the job just ended, and it wasn't a matter of anyone getting fired or anyone deciding to quit. The job before that was a sort of private daycare, and I was too much out of my element and was going to admit that and quit anyway when they decided to hire me some help. My help did such a good job that they decided she could probably do the job without me, and I was really rather relieved to be let go as I had planned to go back to school anyway. I really liked those people, and if they had anything for me to do other than watch the kiddos I would have asked to stay, but as it turned out getting fired right then was the best thing that could have happened to me since it lead to me getting a Pell Grant. The job before that one was a less pleasant story, more of the I was going to quit because the boss was an a** but they fired me first, but I had paperwork on the subject if anyone really needed to know the details. I was a traveling salesperson, and I rather got drafted into that job because my husband was a traveling photographer. I never wanted the job in the first place and had pretty much told them that I was quitting the job over arguments about the schedule in March, and I somehow got talked into continuing to work for them the rest of the year. And then after that I'm told that I don't have a job after November, because I'm such a terrible employee. Really, if I was that bad why did they keep me on seven months after I wanted to leave? It's hardly the same as really getting fired when it's seven months after you've already said "I quit."

But none of that really came up about why I left certain jobs, which is what you'd expect to be asked if you're asked about it at all. What did seem to get the interviewer's attention was that my last job had been at the Halloween store, and he didn't seem happy about that. He said something like, what made you take that job? He almost made it sound like, why did you waste your time there?

I don't think that I've ever been asked about a previous job in quite that way before. People need or want money, and other people need jobs filled, and the two come together and one person pays the other to do a job. Maybe the person gets paid a reasonable amount of money for the work done, or maybe the employee likes something about the job that he's willing to take a little bit less money than he would normally want, or maybe he's just so desperate to get any money that he ends up taking a job that he doesn't really want and he'll leave as soon as he can get something better. But I don't think that the employee should be expected to explain any of that to anyone else. I wanted a job, and there was one available, and I took it.

What really upset me was that in previous interviews for other jobs, the main thing that seemed to get people's attention was the years I had not been employed at all. Like they didn't notice that I'd quit working for almost three years to go back to school. I had thought that going back to school would be a positive thing to potential employers, and instead I was finding out that no one cared that I now had a B.A. in English, and everyone cared that I spent a lot of time being unemployed.

So while I wanted to make a little money at the Halloween store, and I hoped that the job might be fun, my main reason for taking it was that I'd have a job to write down in that wasn't as far back as 2002. And it seemed a whole lot better to work at a temp job that had an end in sight, rather than say take a job at McDonald's or something and then quit after a couple of months. So it really upset me to hear this guy asking me why I took the job.

I did not get that job, and I didn't get called back for the five other jobs that were available at that same place. And that and some other stuff rather upset me, and I haven't been on any other interviews since then. But at the time I didn't care that much, since we were supposed to be working on our marriage and that was the priority, not getting a job.

People who mean well say other upsetting things too.

I've had people tell me that it is obvious that I'm only still with my husband because I need the money and that I should just get rid of him.

Despite what might or might not be obvious to other people, my needing the money is not the only reason my husband is still here. The money issue is, on occasion, a major priority, and sometimes maybe it is the main reason for the current arrangement, but it has never really been the only reason.

Still, if people think that it is obvious I only keep him around because I need the money, it does seem odd that they think I should throw him out. I need his money, but I should say since I only need his money he has to get out? I don't recall these people saying similar things to other people, like since you only stay at that job because you need the money you should quit. Or that people who stay in a certain apartment they don't like because it is the only one that they can afford to live in should move someplace else.

On a completely different note, I've had some people say some particularly odd things about selling my art. I've posted before about the difficulties of selling art, and I posted about the problems of trying to figure out how much to charge for the art and other difficults of trying to sell stuff on eBay here. Basically, there's a huge gulf in between what I want to be paid for my art and what the people want to pay for the art. I want to be paid for the supplies I used to make the art plus a reasonable amount of money for the time I spent making the art. What a person is willing to spend on the art is partially determined by how much other things cost that they would be just as happy buying at the mall. So usually, people do not want to buy scarves that costs $80 or $175 or $330 or even more if they can go to Target and buy a scarf that they like for $15 or $20. True, they might like my scarves more, but not that much more. So I have only sold two scarves, and had an order for a third that was cancelled. If I try to sell ceramics I have a similar problem. Usually what a person wants to pay doesn't even cover the cost of the supplies, and they don't seem to realize that an artist should be paid for their time just as much as a person who does "real work." People expect that if you enjoy making the art that you shouldn't expect to make money from it, though those same people don't expect doctors and pilots who enjoy their work to do donate their time.

Part of the confusion comes from the fact that we do sometimes sell our art for smaller amounts of money that do not take into account the time it took to make whatever it is. Let's say that you know someone who enjoys hand-knitting things, and the person is always knitting either socks or little squares that can later be made into pillows or blankets or scarves or maybe even sweaters. And this person always has some knitting project with her, so that if she ever has to wait for anything that the waiting time is spent knitting instead of just being wasted. So five or ten minutes here and there while waiting for class to start and waiting for the phone to ring when someone is going to call right back and waiting for the pasta to boil while making dinner can all add up to an hour or two a day, and in a week or two you can make a scarf or pillow or maybe even a blanket or a sweater without having to really set aside much for knitting. So when this person is selling a scarf she only wants to be paid for her supplies plus something for her time for the hour or two that she spent putting the squares together, and she doesn't think about all the time that she spent actually knitting the little squares. She enjoys knitting and it keeps her from getting bored sometimes, so she doesn't think to charge much for her scarves, just enough to pay for the yarn and maybe a bit more. She has no problem selling scarves for $20 or so.

But if that same person were to quit her job or give up school or whatever she normally does to become a professional scarf maker, she can't keep selling the scarves for $2o and expect to earn a living that way. The people who have been buying the scarves for $20 probably will not keep buying them if they have to pay more for them, and they can probably find someone else who knits these little squares in between doing other things and charges $20 for a scarf.

So I don't sell much of my art. Most of my art is a labor of love to make something that either I want to keep or I want to give to a close friend or that I specifically made for a charity fundraiser. Yes, I can make you one almost just like it, but it will cost you. It will cost you whatever the materials cost, plus a very reasonable rate of ten dollars an hour for my time. I think that a lot of artists do eventually sell some of their stuff for a lot less than that, just to get rid of some of the stuff. This is especially true of art students who had to make a particular thing for a class, but didn't really like the piece. They just did it for the grade, and once the class is over they have no use for the piece. It is just taking up space, so eventually you either sell it or give it away, and sometimes you even throw some of it out. So, yes, sometimes an artist will sell you a vase for $25, even though it costs that much for just for the glaze and the clay, but you just got lucky. I like almost all of my art and don't feel the need to sell anything just free up some space.

So I get these comments from people. You should sell these. You could make some money. But the people rarely know what they are talking about. If I made something specifically to sell, I would have to make a certain amount of money for it, and probably no one wants to spend that much. Besides the two scarves, the only art I can remember selling was one tile and two decorated eggs (and one of those eggs was purchased only because the purchaser broke the egg and had to buy it).

What really puzzles me is that one of the people saying this stuff is someone who actually was an art major in college. She knows all this stuff. She is an artist, and she doesn't make art for a living. Maybe it was so long ago that she doesn't realize how much supplies cost now, or maybe she's forgotten how much time it all takes.

Another odd thing comment came from my ceramics teacher. I was making a Sleestak head. The teacher doesn't like Sleestak heads. He says that I can't make anymore of them for class credit, and he's not going to fire anymore of them. So I said that I would make more next year in the non-credit class, when we're allowed to make anything that we want. I said that I would like to try to sell some of them to fellow fans. He said that he didn't think that selling Sleestak heads counted towards the "personal enrichment" goals of the non-credit class and he was still unlikely to fire any of them for me.

So I thought that was an odd thing to say. If I can actually sell some of them at a profit, I can buy more supplies and have tuition money to keep taking classes. He would have no problem with me selling vases or something like that after we make them in class, but he has doesn't want me to make duplicates of things that I might actually be able to sell at a profit. I am very unlikely to sell many vases at a profit, since most people can find something that they like just as well for less money somewhere else. I don't know of many other people selling Sleestak heads, so I thought that maybe I was onto something.


dmarks said...

His attitude concerning Sleestak heads seems unreasonable to me. He doesn't look like a Pakuni, does he?

laughingattheslut said...

No, but he is an inch or so shorter than I am.

Purple Pigeon said...

I hear you. People dont really want to buy stuff at a higher price that is handmade when they can buy a cheap, mass produced version. Have you tried selling on Etsy?

And teachers are arsey about everything. When i was in college, i made little clay penguins when i had a bit of free time, and they didnt really like firing them, even tho the kilns would be on anyway. They are just an arsey breed.

laughingattheslut said...

I can't really blame people for wanting to get a good deal. I love a sale myself. I buy tons of after holiday clearance stuff. But that's different. The store wants to get rid of that stuff. I didn't get them to do weeks of work just for me and then try to settle the bill with ten dollars.

No, I haven't tried selling anything on Etsy. I'm guessing that it's a lot like eBay, only more for artists and people who actually want to buy from artists. I'm guessing there are fees and I'd need good pictures to post, etc...all of which would not be bad if there was really anything that I wanted to sell that I thought anyone wanted to buy. But after I spend two or three weeks making a vase, I tend to get attached and want to keep it. I'll make a second one almost just like it, if I really think that anyone would pay that much for it, which I usually think they would not. And I don't want to spend another two or three weeks making almost the same vase that I'll probably end up keeping since I've already got that first one. I really do think that people might buy the Sleestak heads. But I'd have to find someone else to fire them for me, cause the teacher probably won't. And that means that even if I find a place I'll have a firing fee to add to the cost of the thing, which might make it too expensive.

I've checked around and there are already people selling Hogwart's scarves and Dr. Who scarves for less money than I would want, so I don't think I'd get many people to buy those either.

My teacher said that someone was really impressed with my purple artichoke and wanted to buy it. But he didn't say how much she wanted to pay for it or give me contact info or anything. She never came to find me in class. Now that is actually one of those things that I did for the grade and I'm not attached to, so if she paid me for the supplies and just some of my time I might want to sell it to free up some space. But I guess the artichoke will stay with me now.

How are your sales going?

dmarks said...

Have you considered your own kiln? Then you could fire what you wanted according to your artistic and professional sensibilities, instead of being beholden to someone else's. However, I don't know much about what it takes to run one, and a quick look on eBay shows them costing around $400.

laughingattheslut said...

I am not sure about how much time and money it would take to go and get the kiln you see on eBay for $400.

When I saw a small one on eBay for $150 in the Austin area, I jumped up and got it. (Round trip that took pretty much all day plus the gas and buying lunch and dinner). Not 110 tabletop small kiln, but small for regular 220. Didn't realize at the time that there were different kinds of 220, so I have yet to even plug the thing up and see if all the lights come on. After taking pictures of the thing to a teacher he says that there appears to be something wrong with it, but it's nothing major. Now after I spend however much it would take to get it fixed I would just have to get an adapter, have an electrician come over and either give me the thumbs up or rewire the house, and then build a new room for the thing. When I saw the thing on eBay I had the silly notion that it was small and I was going to drag the thing outside whenever I wanted to fire it. Just dragging it into the house was enough, and I won't be doing that again until I give up and get rid of it. It has been sitting in the backroom for three years now.

dmarks said...

The 220 power situation was one of those "this is why having a home kiln is difficult" situations I was allowing for, but I had no idea what it would be. I would not have guessed electrical.

Elephantgirl said...

RE your comment about fourth grade. I've heard that also, that the work is much harder for fourth graders in some districts.

As a person who was married for a really long time (22 years) you should do what you feel is right, with regard to your marriage. No one else can possibly know what goes on in your home. People who've been in short term relationships, where perhaps they are in and out of them, until they get tired of whatever annoys them about the person, don't understand the committment that comes with marriage. Only you know what is the right thing to do.

laughingattheslut said...

Dmarks--the 220 thing is only one of the problems, but I somehow thought that it was going to be the main problem. I happen to have a 220 extention cord, because my dad made one for my brother's dryer, and so I grabbed that up when he moved and didn't need it anymore. So I thought I was all set if I wanted to buy a kiln. What was I thinking?

Even after the electrical is dealt with, I'd have to have a new room built. I've seen the kilns right up against the wall in class, and in other places I've seen them practically stuck in closets. But those class rooms and even that closet were specially made for that purpose. If you put a kiln in just a regular room in a house it has to be on a cement floor, so you have to rip up the carpet or tile or whatever, and it has to have ventilation, so you probably have to do something to the roof, and in a regular room the kiln has to be five feet away from the wall in all directions, so you have to put the kiln in the middle of the room if it is maybe 12x12 and just have the rest of the room be empty, or if it is a bit bigger then you can only have things in the room that are at least five feet away from the kiln.

It doesn't look good at this point.

laughingattheslut said...

Elephantgirl--it was just weird that everyone thinks that I should just get rid of him if they think that we are only together because of the money. Let's say that was the only reason. He doesn't have much money, and I don't have any money or a job, and he doesn't have any other place to go. So if I "get rid of him" I have no money, he has no place to go, so we'll both end up having to move out after I lose this place, I'll have to move in with my mother and he'll have to sleep on his brother's couch. After what he's done, he should have to sleep on his brother's couch, but I don't want to lose my house and while I love my mother I really don't want to live with her. So I don't get why people who must know this is the outcome would keep telling me to get rid of him, even if that was the only reason, which it is not.


If you got the bit about the fourth graders, it doesn't matter about the school district, the problem is in their brains. It wouldn't matter if you took them out of school that year, they would still have weird brains, it just wouldn't be as noticable without the school.

There are tests to see if a kid has gotten past this stage, but I don't remember them. I remember a test given to five year olds that shows how really weird a kid brain is. First you get two cups of water and four clear glasses, with the first and second glass being exactly the same and the other two being different. You pour a cup of water into glass 1 and a cup of water into glass 2 while the kid watches, and then you and the kid play around with an eyedropper until the kid is sure that both glass 1 and glass 2 contain exactly the same amount of water. Then, while the kid watches, you pour the water from glass 1 into glass 3, and ask the kid if glass 1 and glass 3 contain the same amount of water, and if the kid is younger than five he'll probably say no. If you ask him he will say that one glass has more water than the other, and if you ask why he'll have some reason, like one glass is bigger or one glass is thinner. Then if you pour the water back from glass 3 to glass 1 and ask him if the water is the same in both glass 1 and glass 2, and he'll either agree that they are or he'll play with the eyedropper some more until they are even. Then you do it again using glasses 2 and 4. Again, if younger than five, he'll get it wrong. If he's older than five he should get it right. If he's five, then he might be past this stage and get it right, or he might not be past this and get it wrong, or he might just be at the point where he's figuring this stuff out and get half of it right and half of it wrong.

Brains are really weird things.

dmarks said...

I know there had to be a lot involved, and that getting a kiln was not just like going to ABC Warehouse or wherever and getting a microwave and plugging it in. I But I had no idea just how it was not like it.

As for that bad kiln you are stuck with, maybe put it on eBay or something to get some money from someone who might be able to fix it.