Wednesday, December 16, 2009

History repeating itself

Exactly 30 (!!) years ago, December 1979, I was just finishing up the first semester of my first year at university. All my classes ended early in December, like around Dec. 4th. No exams, all my term papers were done.

I went home to my family. I had a whole month before I had to return, & the time stretched out ahead of me like a huge blank slate. What to do with myself? My sister was still in high school, which wasn't finished for another 2-3 weeks, and many of my best friends were also her friends, in the same school. Many of the friends from my own class were still away at university. My mother was working part-time. I was afraid I'd be bored just hanging around the house. And I figured some extra money might be nice to have.

So I went to the local mall, where I'd had a part-time job in Grade 12, working at Woolco (which was bought out by Walmart some years later), found my old boss & asked whether they'd need any help over the next few weeks.

Be careful what you wish for. They hired me on the spot, full-time hours for the Christmas season. I worked in the hardware department (my old stomping grounds, ludicrous as it may seem...!) & the sporting goods department (even more so...!). It was right next to the music department, which played the same Barbra Streisand Christmas album over & over & over & over again. I like Streisand, but to this day, I cannot hear her singing "Jingle Bells" without wanting to climb a wall.

On the first business day after the holidays, they put me on cash at one of the front checkouts for the Boxing Day sale. I gained huge sympathy that day for harried clerks dealing with long lineups of frazzled customers & bargain seekers who question every price that gets keyed in. I collected my paycheque before I headed back to school & vowed that I would never do THAT again. Christmastime is to be enjoyed!!

Needless to say, I wish I had listened more carefully to my younger self. Although, to be fair to myself, when I agreed to do a freelance proofreading project last fall, I never dreamed I would still be working on it at Christmastime. I was first approached about the project -- a book -- back in late September (!). Back & forth we went with e-mails. I got a preliminary copy & supplied a quote in early/mid-November. I didn't actually get the go-ahead & receive the finished manuscript to read until Nov. 30th -- and by then, of course, I was waist-deep in year-end madness at my day job & running around with Christmas preparations & events in the evening.

I was pretty accurate with my estimate of how long it would take to read the book itself -- but then I was asked to also check the index. I vastly underestimated the amount of time THAT would take. I finished reading the manuscript late last night, & sent it back (with an invoice) today -- just as the work week winds down, and holidays at my parents looms on the not-so-distant horizon.

So between my actual job, this additional project, and the wonderful madness that is the Christmas season, I have been extremely busy and highly stressed for the past several weeks. Last weekend I was on the go from the moment I got up until I collapsed in bed later that night. I didn't turn on my computer at home for four full days (a new record for me, I think...!). My blog reader's unread post totals have reached previously unfathomable heights (& I'm sorry if I've missed out on some news you've had to share). I've been crying at the drop of a hat (although I tend to do that anyway at this sentimental time of year).

But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Three more sleeps, & the holidays await. I can't wait to sleep in, to catch up on my reading (blogs & books), & to eat my Mom's fabulous turkey with stuffing & gravy.

And, maybe when I get back, a nice fat freelancing cheque will be waiting for me. I am going to thoroughly enjoy that!


  1. We'', I wish you a peaceful, happy Christmas!! And, yes that freelance cheque :-)

    Le gach dea-ghui i geomhair na Nollag agus na hAtbhliana

    (gailic) Greetings from Ireland

    xx Ines

  2. Oh, sweet freelance-checks around christmas! It was the same here during the last weeks. Too many jobs and too little time for myself. I can't wait to wrap up work and then: sleep in, relax, go on walks, read a ton of blogs, write some and live the days unplanned and spontaneous.

    I wish you a smooth final spurt and a lovely holiday-season!

  3. Indexing is really difficult work. My clients usually use separate people for proofreading and indexing, because creating and checking an index bogs down the proofreader.

    I'm still working on a freelance project for which I was hired in April 08. I feel terrible for the author; he wanted it out by April 09; he was promised sometime in 09, and the editors have been sitting on ms review for 14 months!

    My first job was retail for the Christmas season -- at a toy store in the mall. It was insane. I started the week of Thanksgiving and learned a lot about being nice to retail workers, esp. over the holidays.

    Merry Christmas, Loribeth!

  4. I hope you get that much needed sleep! And how are you going to spend that freelancing cheque? I can think of a few purse, shoes, etc!! Retail therapy is always fun, at least for me!
    Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

  5. Enjoy the money for all your hard work. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.