Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm Back!

Right? Maybe. Who knows.

This will be short, and sweet.

New job- awesome. I order things, I organize, I plan, I plot (Oh yes, the filthy plotter has been thoroughly punished for it's misdeeds....) I race around trying to keep all the balls in the air. I have been pushing some of their internet activities- I now head their Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles, so I get to do something fun every couple of hours

Old job- Part time one, at the castle- I have now moved locations, to a mall much closer to work and home. I miss my besties from the old store, but saving an hour of driving each day is good for my outlook- I am much less a cranky bunny. The rub? I am now officially an assistant manager, so I have more responsibility. That said- I get mo money, which is hella awesome.

I am comfortable working these two jobs, while my husband is working on school, working on helping his mom as she gets ready for another surgery (remember last year, when she was in for a month, from a pacemaker surgery? yeh. That one. Again.) and then a month after that, a double hip replacement (because in her case, two at once just seems safer, even if recovery is longer than one at a time according to studies).

I miss creating, and there's plenty still going on up in my head. I will have to make it happen, in some of my weekend days off, now that I get them on a regular basis (another benefit of my new store)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On Your Mark, Get Set, Plot

Well, month one has just passed. Here's where we are:
  • Have overhauled the spec packs used
  • Have gotten cozy with the sewing girls, who may think I am crazy, but still help me keep track of how much elastic is on hand and tell me when we're running out of snaps
  • Have broken the plotter (not really, but it broke down this week and I felt like it was all my fault...)
  • Have been entrusted with lots of Christmas party planning madness
  • Have learned and been involved in SO MUCH!
I am still terrified that the jig will be up so soon, I will get a 'sorry we don't need you' kinda sit down... I think thats part of the growing pains of being new on the job, newly trained, and still working with the training wheels.... there is the fear that your cost outweighs the pros you provide to your boss while still learning. It's terrifying and frustrating. But then...
  • I leave for Cuba in 12 days for my friends wedding
  • I have the weekend off from my second job
  • I am two presents away from being done both my and my brothers Christmas shopping
  • The owner told me to order business cards
  • The graphics guy is excited to do spec drawings as detailed as I have requested
  • I have started my professional Human Ecologist Designation paperwork
  • I have been asked to give feedback on my practicum experiences to assist in the development of the practicum course within my school
These are all things which make me feel I would be... OK. Fairly safe. A 'real' professional. Maybe these feelings are like newly wed jitters, or like a child entrusted with a new responsibility. I feel like I am maybe just afraid for nothing, or that it's normal. I HATE that, because one thing I pride myself in is casting off fear. This whole lacking confidence thing is so frustrating... someone please tell me it's totally normal and absolutely natural and that I am crazy.

I LOVE my job. That is the best news. The fact that I got here with my confidence and education and experience... fabulous. Not to quote Shania Twain (because I may hate her) but... it 'can only go up from here', right?


Thursday, November 11, 2010


I now have two workspaces:

The plotter room: This is the nitty gritty of my job. The Plotter table is there, a 6x8' megalith which i can move up and down or tilt to my hearts content. It can't plot yet, but it does have many uses:
  • Spreading out test garments for examination in big flat glory
  • Holding stuff /papers / other garments when I'm not ready for them at the computer desk
  • Being a catapult (Haven't tried this yet, but I'm assuming it would be a great game if I'm bored)
The spare room: If any one is a fan of C.S. Lewis, feel free to think of this as my 'Spareoom": a place where work often starts or finishes, but for much of the actual action, I have to head through the wardrobe.... or the door to the right that leads to the plotter room.

I am reminded of so many of the books I read as a child which involved reality, and a place where things are a little bent, a little skewed, and yet all the more real...

Monday, November 1, 2010

It Feels Like Work

So my job started today. I spent the first several hours going over an ordering system which will be integral to my supply chain management function. This was super important, valuable, and incredibly dry for 8 a.m.! but it was over by 11:15, and I had lunch with some of the other staff, trying to get the lay of the land.

Then I got to start on my office, or lack thereof. Since my position has been created as if from nowhere, there is not a space for me to move into... There is however a big room in the back part of the factory which houses a large pattern printer- it is about 8 feet long, and there is a computer which houses it's software... it's on a desk, and apparently, I sit at it. The printer is loud and the sewing machines clatter along. It's a little windowless, a little bleak, but I have some ideas of how to make it my own, hopefully I will share some pictures soon.

The fun part- I get to print patterns all day, and I will be learning how to manipulate and grade them on the plotter system which goes with the printer. The plotting and designing bit of my job will be basic, but the experience and practice is going to do phenomenal things for my job options down the road. The supply chain stuff will be important for me if I ever do start myself a small business- I will need to know the ins and outs of all this accounting and manufacturing software.

So... How are you?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Open to Experiences

My new job starts Monday. I am filled with fear, trepidation.

I worry that I will not know everything, that I will be missing key knowledge. While working at my other job, I heard people around me talking about programs that I have yet to learn, things which are important for moving up at The City... Things which I could have learned to further my career with them...

But this also excites me, and gets my motor going. If I am missing key info that I should know, I will have the opportunity to learn. That means that I am still finding something to do, something to jam into my head... If you're not growing, then you must be shrinking away right? Is there such as thing as static existence in regards to humanity? Learning is proof of vitality. People who are 'over' the thirst for knowledge... To me it comes off a bit like giving up. As long as you're pushing forward somehow, then you're making progress.

My new job involves communicating with factories in Mexico. I took some Spanish in high school and college, and traveled in south america, but I am no where near fluent. I am hoping I will have a chance to take some more school, or even some Rosetta Stone self learning to become better able to communicate with my counterparts. Additionally, I want to do some hard core learning of some things which I have not mastered to do with my field- further classes in Illustrator, Photoshop, pattern plotting via autoCAD type computer programs. These are all things which I have worked with for school, but I now have a paying reason to keep my head in the game and my eye on toning my big grey muscle.

Learn Learn Learn. This is my new mantra. Kind of surprising that this still keeps me going, and I am done school.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New World!

Ok, so blogger uploaded these pics backwards. The blue coveralls are the original, and they look weird and orange when they are post burn. But cool, right?

That's right friends. I fell off the blog-wagon again. I will not be deterred, I will continue on as a fledgling online rambler, if not only for my own ego (or something) but to encourage myself to keep my design directives in mind in all I do.

I was offered a job in my field, and I took it. This adventure begins November 1. Currently I am working with the City of Edmonton, as a 311 operator. 311 is a great service that lots of cities have, they help you plan transit routes, they will help you get your kids into swimming lessons, call out zoning inspectors or advise you on permits, or renew business or pet licenses... anything that falls under municipal jurisdiction is handled at least in the preliminary stages by this call center. It pays well, it's easy, I could probably get on as permanent (I'm currently temporary) and work there or move up with the city and retire and ... be utterly bored with my job. So when I received an e-mail from on of my profs, I was eager to apply, but terrified of getting my hopes up.

The job itself is a mixed bag- I will be taking over responsibilities from the COO and design manager of a small apparel company which is growing, and to encourage that growth, I get to deal with smaller operations related to production. I will be doing a lot of the planning and maintenance in regards to production, ensuring that the spec packs (the information packets which contain all design details to the utmost minutia) are correct for each order, and communicating with the manufacturers in regards to delivery dates and product quality. There's a whole whack of other little stuff I get to deal with, but I will learn and chat more about that when I actually start the job.

It's a way in. It's technical experience related to my degree. My convocation is November 17, 2010. I have beaten the odds to have found (nay, be sought out to fill) a related career building position before I have technically even graduated. It is a matter of personal agency- do I see this as an opportunity, or stick with old reliable- The City and all the security it brings.

My family is a little scared for me. As a newer company, this is not necessarily a secure place for a new grad to be. If cutbacks need to be made, would I be on the chopping block? Maybe. Is The City a better choice in regards to guaranteed wages, the promise of benefits, security of just staying put and be paid more after time because I have seniority? Yes, The City is a safe route.
Recently, my regional manager at The Castle (yes I am still there too, for work clothes discount, the staff, and some money) mentioned that I could have my own store (as manager). I know that there are safe, fairly easy to access options which would provide a more secure position than the one I will be starting November 1, 2010. I also know that I would be capable of running a retail chain store with nothing but my high school diploma and work experience, and the same goes for The City. I am looking for a challenge. Something that actually utilizes my degree, even in the smallest way, or in a way that I wasn't expecting. And I have found that. Whether I work there for two years or twenty, this company is giving me the opportunity to geek out on fabric science and work in the apparel industry. The experience is priceless, because even if long term things don't work out, I will have something to put on my resume which shows I have kept up my skills, and am capable of working in this industry.

The job itself is absolutely an adventure- I am a new addition, not a replacement, and the COO would like to keep building and growing, developing a team to manage the things I am doing, once they get big enough to merit more employees. Until then, I am going to get a lot of experience in a lot of things, and be a scheduling maniac and organizational genius. Naturally.

The pay is competitive- comparable to starting wage at any company here in Edmonton. I am making slightly less than I was at The City, but I don't pay union dues, I get full time hours (I was PT at The City), I will work office hours instead of shift, and I do get benefits after three months. All in all, not shabby for an almost graduate.

The rub: Professional life meets personal: I was not the only new grad who was up for this position. One of my favorite people in the whole wide world applied, interviewed, and was not successful. Sure, I am happy I got the job, but this was not a fun experience. It flat out sucks that one of my best friends didn't get her dream job, not to mention that I did, and that it was the same job. We had to reassure each other that regardless of outcome, there would be no hard feelings, we would maintain that as a professional issue. That doesn't mean the hurt isn't there, that she isn't affected by the opportunity going to someone else. It means she's being strong about it. Which is a lesson I would rather learn with her, together in this situation, because I know we are close enough to muddle through the awkward bits. Other friends I would worry about anger, or pettiness. So I guess that's the bright side.

Anyways, I have to get all fancy for my weekend job, slinging clothes to the masses. Have a wonderful day all, and there will surely be more to come.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Follow the Yellow Brick Road...

Well, this Dorothy is ready to be home, and she is not wearing any ruby slippers, she just needs to get in the car and drive. Maybe I am not Dorothy, I am on some kind of journey, but it feels more like a chase...

One more day of this world: Measuring, noting changes in specifications, keeping the fit model happy, trying to maintain the balance of just being 'the temp'

It's hard. I think I have had a hard time being the full time temp because when things aren't permanent, I don't sink my teeth into them the same way. Even if it was the BEST peach, if I know I have to give half of it to my crummy brother, then it's NOT the best peach, y'know?

So I have been extra homesick, I have been extra critical of the job, fellow employees, the system at my workplace, without really being honest to myself about the good things. I worked with an excellent team, and fell into rhythm with the staff very quickly, and if I felt secure in my position, I might have thrived on the challenges, the problem solving demanded, the lack of structure and support for matrices and tracking, because all those things are things I LOVE to deal with daily. But when you know that you solve their problem and then walk away, without any of the positive turnaround, without knowing if someone will unhinge all your work, without knowing that the process will be adhered to responsibly, it makes things just seem daunting, instead of hella awesome, the way I usually see challenges. It's weird that I get all jonesed up about organizing things, since I am a scatterbrain, but I also love puzzles, which is how i try to approach these things. I just want people to care about the solution. I guess it would be like giving up a puppy that you took care of- I'm not even going to think of equating it to giving up a kid, because frankly that's crazy (I don't think ANYONE loves their job THAT much and if you do, you have problems!) Since I knew my job was finite, it was easy to just see all these issues as issues- things which were wrong, and not have the time to fix it, and so I just saw it as negative features of the business. I will remember that this was a mindset to make it easier to let go, not a true reflection of the workplace.

I need to perk up my attitude for my return to The Castle (my old retail haunt, where I will be working part time to subsidize my picky job desires). I need to address my current job situation like a puzzle, and throw an amazing solution (i.e.: me) at all the problems (i.e. job openings) I encounter, with killer resume and kicking style (thank you The Castle, for giving me back my discount immediately, so I can rebuild wardrobe).

One person I love told me I look like Mae Whitman from a new movie where she plays a long lost love interest. She and another love interest fight for the spoils. I will turn this short lived job into a scorned lover, a fling that I not only think on, feel motivated by, and unwisely decide determines my whole life's unravelings. I will use this job to catapult to unreasonable successes, unmeasurable in the natural world. I will refuse to become a cartoon gravity statistic, and I will survive, move forward, and be awesome. Mainly I just wanted to shout out thanks for the compliment, because Mae is a fox, and I think I maybe have the hair. I'm feeling a little zany, so this turned into a ramble, a slightly determined manifesto not to give up, but not be discouraged either. The reality is that the coyote has always loved roadrunner, and I will love this job, when it comes to me at the right time. I will keep chasing it, and I will work harder on looking like a superhero saucepot while doing it.

That's all f.olks

Monday, August 9, 2010

Que Sera

These are a few little crafty goodies I have been playing around with, I bought a felting tool from a crazy quilt shop in the mountains recently, and these are a couple of things I made.... a work in progress, I am sure you all understand... (The one with the word says RUBY, but the camera flipped the image, and my photo editor doesn't have a mirror flip option, so just deal with it!)

I am encouraged in my pursuit of design by several things:
  • My art teacher in high school who gave many practical job listings which someone could do which involved art- he pushed you to pursue the marketable nature behind being a hippy dippy pie in the sky creative type
  • Watching FTV and, you learn that designers often dress far worse than their brains create for others- I have the first part down...
  • I love other things too. Meaning if I don't create the next big thing, I will still find something I love to do (I'm even okay if it takes awhile)
  • I can (and likely will) jump on board the Etsy train when I finally settle down enough to make some goodies
  • Some mischief making friends of mine have big plans for a weird creative statement, that I would love to take part in. Think 'Fight Club' project mayhem, but with PRETTY instead of DESTRUCTIVE
What keeps you going? How do you know you are doing what you should be doing?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back to the Grindstone

Well. Abandonment makes the heart grow fonder I suppose...But I am back. and soon things will be 'back to normal' whatever that means...

After weeks of working with a design team, here are the things I have learned:
  • Measuring garments may be monotonous, but seeing things change each time the manufacturer sends them back is in the long run exciting
  • Different buyers have different expectations from Spec Technicians. Some of them want your feedback on things such as style, colour, relevance to the target customer. Others think they know best and don't care for feedback
  • Spec Technicians and buyers often don't agree on what the target customer wants
  • Some manufacturers never listen, never learn, and refuse to improve
  • Buyers should know their manufacturers, and follow through on canceling when they still have time to buy other product, instead of pushing through product which is not good because they have to have SOMETHING to sell.
It's interesting to see the politics and the decisions that have to be made in order to fill stores with clothes. The ins and outs of the work room, all the people coordinating the shipments, orders, and delivery from manufacturer to warehouse to store, it all is a lot more clear than it was in school. It has been the movement from the theoretical to the real, applied experience.

It has been invaluable. Really sad that it won't turn into something longer term, but not the end of the world, because I have been WICKED homesick and weekends have been spent just being lazy and hanging out at home because it's HOME. I think it has been worse because I get to come home each week. If it was farther, I think it may be easier, because I would get used to being away. Which is why I am expanding my search for textile related jobs to everywhere... if I have to be away, maybe it would be better to be FAR away, and stuck there for awhile.

I know that in order for my career to advance, I will likely need to be away from my world for a long period of time. I know that it will be lonely and sometimes discouraging, and the money will probably suck. Bear and I have not decided whether he would pack up and follow shortly after job is obtained, or if he would stay in Edmonton for long periods, or what may happen. We both know that depending on where this job may come from, and how much it pays, and where he is in school, and everything else in the mix of this, the answers may change. We're jumpers, not planners, so I think that deciding in the moment is just how we roll.

Have you ever lived away from what you consider to be your home, for work, temporary or to prepare for the permanent move? Words of wisdom?

The pictures today and what they mean to me, and my upcoming choices:
1) This photo is full of symbology (that's a real word, it's just a terrible word... but it's an inside joke to me, so deal with it) all that 'it's not the destination, it's the journey' jargon....
2) My bear, giving his best puppy dog eyes. In this picture he's asking for a baby, but its similar to the way he looks when I come home- happy to see me
3) This is from a big long trip I took alone last summer, and some beauty that came out of it: sometimes being away from home is awesome- This photo helps me remember that
3) Some clothes I have made, they are an important part of who I am- I learned some important lessons about my design process with these items. Plus my buddy is pretty gorgeous, no?
4) The wind will take me where it may.

Goals: Blog twice a week- once about design, once about my endeavors to get back on the volunteer train with my old community roots. So I will see you guys soon! (For real this time)!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Looking for my Lilypad

So. I am working in my field. The position I have is probably not long term, which makes me sad. It is not perfect by any means, but the longer I work here, the more likely I will prove I have the skills to work elsewhere. I am right now working endlessly trying to find my next step...

At my workplace, many of the staff I work with have identified themselves as planners: they like to know what they're doing in advance. If they are going to a city, they want a hotel booked, with a plan of things to do each day and maps of how to get from each activity.

When I try to plan things like this (for myself) I usually do things like: make a big book of all the things I want to see in all the countries I want to see, come up with the schedule, use a back portion of the notebook to record addresses of the people I know and love to send them post cards- basically come up with my own little 'sho.estring' guide...

And promptly forget the whole thing on the plane, under my bed, or in the airport. I talk a good game, and can even plan the whole thing. It's the execution that i fail at. And I know why...
I'm a leaper. My best decisions come out of just GOING. Just BEING. Just DOING. When I sit around and think about it, I get muddled in the many decisions and decide to do all of them, leading to an overstressed time crunch, leading to pretty much NONE of my plans working out.

So I leap. I am Francois the frog. Or Sabine, because that's a way nicer french name in my opinion. Anyways. Back to it- I leap... From one decision to the other. All that matters is that this next lilypad I am headed to happens to be above water for the time being. By the time it starts to sink from my weight, I will be two lilypads away.... And it works, because if I stop and think about it, thats when my world crashes around me.

While discussing this in the design room.... One of the designers told me she was having anxiety just thinking about how she would react under these circumstances.

That is why the world is so beautiful- I need people like her to reign me in, point out logic, reason, all those things which just don't come to mind when I'm sink or swimming.... and she needs me because I bring the whacky, the unexpected, reminding her that scheduling fun into the mix is important.

So I am looking for my next lilypad right now, applying everywhere from the government, jobs in the USA, jobs east and west, and of course some that land me right back in my pond next to my favorite bear (the DH, who I miss like nuts until our weekends of reunion.) Of course, I would prefer the perfect job at a place which works with design, and they're eco, and they're fashion forward, and kind of sporty, and committed to ethical treatment of factory workers in a very hands on way... Whether I will find that immediately is not going to stop me from pursuing every avenue I can find. It's not settling, it's a stepping stone.

So that's my world right now. I will tell you more about my job next time. Sorry I deserted everyone for so long!

P.s> This picture is from last summer. This geese family tends to nest right downtown, and then has to slowly migrate through traffic and parking lots and past countless startled suits to make their way to the river valley where they take their babies swimming... It's so cute, and causes quite the ruckus. It looks like I am not the only one who doesn't plan ahead and things still turn out ok!