09 February 2012

Dealing with Stress

Finally I have gotten around to watching the movie Julie & Julia.   Yes it’s sad, I know the movie was made years ago and clearly I don’t get out much.  In fact, these days most of my movie watching is on the interminably long international flights twice a year so I save up what I want to see and wile away a few hours being entertained on various flights.  That’s one reason why it’s an absolute deal-breaker for us if an airline doesn’t have individual entertainment screens, and believe it or not some airlines still have group screens even these days.  I recall a hideous flight on Finnair from Singapore to Helsinki where we all had to watch the same movie at the same time, and it was Finland! Land of 180,000 Lakes!  Never again. 

But anyway, I digress:  apart from being one long advertisement for Julia Child’s French cookbook (which yes, I now intend to buy) it was really interesting to see her fabulous kitchen stuff.  Boy she had good kitchenalia!  Lovely French copper, beautiful enamel bowls and jugs, a very large and attractive pestle and mortar, all sorts of interesting things.  And apparently after she died her kitchen was dismantled and reassembled in the Smithsonian Museum, and if they’re going to do that for a cook (albeit a very famous one) you’ve got to wonder what else they’ve got there.  So my Note to Self for this week is that when I get around to doing a reconnaissance trip to America, if I end up in Washington I must put the Smithsonian on my list of Play Days.  Or it might be a Play Week all by itself, because under the umbrella term ‘Smithsonian Museum’ there appear to be lots of different museums, depending on the type of thing you want to see. 

Only five and a half weeks until we head off on the next buying trip, but how changeable are things in retail at the moment?  The week before last was our second best week ever (supplanting the week last December which had held the title until now).  But this week was downright ordinary.  Of course.  Just when I pay for the airline tickets and the trip is set in concrete, an avalanche of bills arrive and the selling week is ordinary.  Hey, cosmos!  Deliver!  So now I am stressing about going off on a buying trip with zero funds, which I do around this time every single trip, and Doug is telling me to stop being stressed because it all comes together every single trip, but how do you stop being stressed (however irrationally) when your brain is telling you to be stressed?  Answer me that.  The trouble is that I stress too much and Doug doesn’t stress at all, and on the basis that misery loves company I think he should become more stressed and I should become more relaxed.  But will he share?  No he will not.

This is before I even start the What If I Get There And Can’t Find Anything Decent to Buy? stress, which happens before every single trip but I’ve now learned will go away the second I make the first purchase and get the show on the road.  And then I get back from every single trip and go through the What If No-One Likes My Stuff And I Don’t Sell Anything? stress, which dissipates pretty well on Unpack Night, which is when we start selling stuff.  So why do I stress about these things when I know on the basis of past experience that it will all work out?  Is this natural or am I just trying to create a bit of drama in my life (even though it’s all in my own mind rather than my life per se)?  Could be I’m just a wannabe Drama Queen.  I really need that part as an extra on Merlin so I can channel all this unnecessary stress into something useful.  Or I could just get a grip.  But how boring would that be?  Who wants to be well-balanced and calm and serene and have other Zen-like qualities all the time?  Works for the Dalai Lama, but on balance I think I’ll deal with my drama by selecting the be-on-telly option rather than the be-an-adult-now option, and that way I can continue to wave my arms about and exclaim over poor me and the stress I must endure in my life.

On a more relaxing note, this week Kim and Fran, my friends and reliably fabulous window stylists, and I have gone all Valentine’s Day in the window.  We put out a lovely French metal garden table from the 1950s, which is suitably shabby chic after all these years, and decorated it for a romantic dinner for two.  We selected nice crockery, French linen, English Victorian cranberry wine glasses, English pewter Arts & Crafts era candlesticks, and even some French glass pate pots with tea candles in them (which look surprisingly good – I stole that idea from a customer), and then surrounded the setting with big French enamel ewers with lots of flowers and suitably romantic French pictures.  Plus jewellery, of course – you can’t have Valentine’s Day without jewellery, which every man who values his goolies should know by now.  I have had some romantic devils come in to purchase secret gifts for their loved-ones, and it’s nice to see that such men do still exist.

Finally we got around to getting some framing done, now that the weather isn’t as humid as it has been, so this week we’ve got some really stylish French advertisements on display.  Doug’s favourite is a Gitanes cigarette ad, featuring a crusty French gypsy having a fag, but I like the Cinzano ads better, with their black and white or red and white zebra stripe backgrounds, which sound like they’d be OTT but in fact look really striking.  In the window for Valentine’s Day we put a picture of an almost naked girl on a red heart by Erte, and at $48 she is gobsmackingly cheap (if I say so myself) and stunning so she is sure to sell pronto.

On the moggie front, it is now confirmed that Calypso is the naughtiest kitten we have ever had.  Klaatu and Artemis are very biddable pussycats, while Mischka is utterly relentless when she sets her mind on doing something and is difficult to dissuade, but Calypso takes that to a whole new level.  I’ve started bringing her into the shop twice a week again, because I’ve found that with more one-on-one contact with me her behaviour improves and she is a lot more responsive to doing as I instruct (rather than entirely ignoring me and running off to play with one of her co-conspirators).  She is one furry little ratbag who wants to do whatever she pleases whenever she pleases, and at five months old this is the age to get things under control.

At the moment, for example, she has taken to chewing up any small cords she can find – mobile phone chargers, computer speakers, etc – and then openly playing with the evidence of her wrong-doing.  It also appears to have become the rule that All Toilet Rolls Must Die.  You know that cute Sorbent Puppy advertisement, where the roll is dragged about (but able to be rolled back up)?  Our version is a little different.  The Kittenator wrestles the roll to the ground, then holds it to her chest while she kicks the bejesus out of it, then tears into it with her front claws until the whole thing is nicely shredded, then dashes about like an idiot, skidding and leaping and somersaulting over the carnage until it’s spread about the entire bathroom.  It’s apparently enormous fun, and even if you catch her in the act - mid-destruction, with an ears-back, wild-eyed look – and you loudly ask her what does she think she’s doing, she just looks at you as if you’re stupid because it should be self-evident what she’s doing.  The assassination of all toilet rolls has become her sacred duty, and she is assiduous in getting the job done.  Last night when I caught her red-pawed, after looking at me blankly for a few seconds she seemed to suddenly remember that This-is-a-bad-thing-and-I’m-in-trouble, so belatedly jumped up and ran behind the toilet to escape my wrath.  But then she immediately emerged to “help” with the clean up and I couldn’t help but laugh, which detracted from the whole You’re A Bad Girl attitude I was meant to be showing her.

But what else can you do but laugh?  The stress in my life is that I might be too poor to buy 1000+ lovely things on my next buying trip, and will have to limit myself to 500.  The aggravation in my life is a kitten who loves life and is busy getting on with enjoying herself immensely (and why not, when you’ve got a maid to clean up after you?).  Things aren’t so bad, on balance.  I would appreciate not having to buy so many toilet rolls, though.

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