Sunday, December 30, 2012

Etsy Seller Remorse

Since the opening of my Etsy shop, Lifelooklens, I have been able to excuse my treasure hunts as business trips. At least, that's what I tell myself when I go to thrift stores, anyway. I'm there on business. Searching for vintage and antique treasures is FUN. Don't tell anybody, though. Strictly business, here, friends. 

I've found several awesome things lately. They're all listed for sale now at my Etsy shop. It will be hard to let some of these treasures go, because I get attached. That happens when you have to measure every little item you find and describe everything you know about it in your listings. By the time you actually sell it, you feel a little sad as you carefully package the little whatevers to send away to some stranger. You hope that they'll like it. You hope they'll treat it nicely. Doubtful that they'll spend hours brushing an old antique lamp with a toothbrush like you did, though. 

Yep, the other night, I found myself surrounded by every household cleaner known to mankind. I had just sold my favorite lamp. Or, so I thought. I mean, I did sell it. But it's still chillin' right here beside me as I type. It's staying. Not my fault, though. We'll get there...

It begins with a CHA-CHING!!

 I hear it and my heart gets all fluttery-like. It's the sound of success that occurs when something sells from my shop. I didn't hear it yesterday and I miss it already. 

I check my emails to see what little treasure is going to be shipped off, and I feel sad when I see it's the lamp. Not just any lamp- my FAVORITE lamp. I found it at Goodwill and fell in love with it. Go figure, that's the stuff that always sells. I secretly didn't want it to. Now, I knew what I had to do and it was nearly 11:00 at night. Great. 

That lamp had to be cleaned before it went to its new home. It was dirty. I had no idea just how dirty until I had to clean it. It took me a couple hours of scrubbing away at it with an old toothbrush, but I polished that baby to a shine it had never known before. It GLOWED. I mean, I guess it glowed from the beginning since that's what lamps are inclined to do. I just didn't know it could shine so much brighter after a good toothbrush scrub-down, that's all. 

The house wreaked of chemicals- probably a toxic mixture of this and that cleaner. Dab of tarnish-remover here, spray of Spic-n-Span there, dab of 409, plop of polish, etc. Q-tips littered my dining room table and I had to open windows just to make sure I wouldn't accidentally kill our dogs or my husband or myself. What an obituary that would make...'Nashville Woman Dies While Cleaning Lamp for Etsy Sale, Toxic Fume-Inhalation Deemed Cause'...yeah, I'd like to go out better than that, my friends.  
<-----------Potentially toxic mixture.

With the lamp shining in newfound glory, I searched around the house for a box that would accommodate its size. 

Boxes are a pain in the rumpus. Any seller will tell you that. This time was no less of an inconvenience, as every box I found was either too big or too small for the lamp that I now began to resent.

I asked Josh for help. We foolishly decided that the safest way to ship a fragile antique lamp would be to take it apart. Yeah, then it'll fit in the box...Stupid, Stupid, STUPID idea. We know that now. 

One should never, ever, freakin' EVER take apart this kind of lamp unless one is prepared to be filled with insurmountable levels of frustration. Just don't do it. I know it seems like a good idea. I know you think it'll work out- and it may, but not before you want to throw that lamp at the wall after cursing at it for another hour that follows your toothbrush-scrubbing madness. 

Once we'd taken the lamp apart, we noticed how ugly it looked in separate pieces. We decided our buyer would not appreciate receiving a lamp in bits of brass and glass, without including a detailed instructions manual on how to put it all back together like the Etsy pictures had shown. Even with a manual, this customer would be far less impressed with a broken down lamp than she would with a fully restored and assembled antique. What were we thinking, anyway? We'd just need to put it back together like it was in the first place. We'd find a bigger box, rather than send a bunch of parts across the country. No biggie, right? 

Oh, Dear God, WRONG. I did actually pray when I tried to put that thing back together. I also asked for forgiveness for my cursing spree that followed that first hopeful and desperate prayer request. 

Josh and I put it back together, 3 or 4 times. Each time, the top piece was loose. We'd take it apart again to pull the cord tightly, in hopes that the top part would securely fasten. It didn't. 

All hope was lost, for at least 15 minutes, while my husband and I discussed various strategies of lamp-assemblage. We each disagreed with the other's theories, which got us no closer to success. The lamp sat on the table, drooping it's little lamp head as though it knew it would never be the same. Two foolish twenty-something-year-olds hadn't even been alive as long as the droopy lamp. How in the world did they think they knew how to restore and assemble a once-beautiful relic? 

Josh had returned to his nightly ritual of video game activism, to a world where he is king and no lamps threaten his attainment of victory. 

"I'm gonna do it. I swear, I'm not gonna let this stupid thing beat me. It's a lamp. I took it apart and I'm going to fix it if it takes me all night." 

Josh glanced at me with a doubtful look that also conveyed sympathy for my slow descent into madness. "Doubt it, honey." 

So, I tried every theory we'd shot down, in hopes of somehow piecing those damn parts back together. Failure after failure, I'd sworn I'd do it. I'd even gone as far as to say, "I can do it, Josh, because I do everything I make up my mind to do. I always have." 

I hadn't meant to sound so conceited, but rather to pump myself up, I guess. I couldn't believe this lamp had lowered my self-awareness, but I had no shame at that point. I WOULD put it back together. I WOULD stay up all night if it killed me. It was decidedly so. 

At last, the lamp hung it's head no more. Miraculously, and because God probably felt sorry for me, the lamp was pieced together without any flaws. Victory was mine. 

The celebratory dance that happened next is one that I do not want any person to ever see. At least, not over a lamp. It was excessively joyful and belligerently arrogant. It was also involuntary. It just happened. Josh got up to check out my handiwork. 

"Yeah, it looks good, but what happens when you jiggle the top part. It falls, doesn't it? Let me see," Josh challenged. 

His doubt infuriated me, but it was expected since neither of us thought we'd ever successfully piece it back together. I jiggled the top of the lamp. I flicked it like somebody thumps an ear, out of meanness and spite. It didn't budge. 

More dancing ensued. "We are the champions" theme song was sung. God smiled. All was well at Dunailie Drive, once again. 

Then I heard a ding. 

Nothing's wrong with the lamp...I'll save you that suspense, because you're thoughtful to care and worry about me like that. :)

The ding means I have an email. No big deal, but I needed to check it. Could be a buyer question.

My heart sank as I read the email, which requested an order cancellation. No reason was given. Just 'please cancel my order, I'm sorry' ....


You've gotta be kidding. No way. But, WHY?

I ask the nice buyer why. I have to know why. I must know why. I neeeeded to know why. 

I told Josh. 

He asked why, too. He was calmer about it though. He saw the disappointment on my face and offered up encouragements like: 'Well, you get to keep it now, Gina. You didn't want to sell it and now it looks incredible and super clean!' 

Yay. hip. hip. horray. Even though he was right, I didn't feel exactly enthusiastic. 

I corresponded with my ex-buyer, who was extremely polite and a pleasure to deal with even though we didn't make a deal that endured more than an exhausting few hours of laboring over a lamp. 

As it turns out, the buyer had bought the lamp only because she'd needed the key part that turns it on. 

That shocked the crap out of me, seeing as how the listed price exceeded any that I'd pay for any key...unless it opened a door to heaven or something.  Nonetheless, she'd found the part she needed online for a few cents. Needless to say, she did not wish to proceed with the business transaction that would incur additional and now unnecessary expenditures. I didn't blame her. I mean, I understood her predicament and I knew the right thing to do was to issue a full refund and thank her for visiting my shop. I totally blamed her for the hours I'd spent cleaning and polishing a lamp that she had intended to take apart for the sole purpose of having a key turn-switch. I forgive her. She is nice. No hard feelings. I thanked her. She left nice feedback. That always helps when you sell on Etsy, where reputations are built upon the feedback of your customers. 

So, there's a lamp I have. 

It's really shiny and clean and pretty and wonderful. I almost kept it after this failed transaction. Instead, I re-listed it. I took lots of new pictures of it, as they show its pristine condition.  I forgot to upload those on Etsy, though. 

Maybe I do secretly want to keep it, after all. 

It's still for sale, though. I worry you might buy it and I'll have to ship it to you. I want to because I make money when you do that. However, if you're planning on taking it apart for a key- I will NOT give it to you. You may not do that. Not to this lamp, please. It has been through enough and so have I. Promise you'll take good care of it. You don't have to clean it now. 

I still need a box. I never got that far. 

Maybe I'll get there this week when somebody else falls in love with the remorsefully re-listed at Lifelooklens on Etsy. 

The top is blue. It's so clean, you can't tell how blue it is in this picture. Good ole' scrubby-scrub with a toothbrush did that. Who knew? :)

The key that caused so much trouble. Pretty lil' thang, ain't it?

The top's darker parts here are only shadows. I'm not defending it, I'm just clarifying that there's no dirt here. Seriously, none. It shines like the stars.

This photo wasn't featured on Etsy. None of these were. These are the clean up pictures. I'm not gonna put them on Etsy. If I did, you'd know how awesome my precious lamp is. Then you might buy it. I have mixed feelings about that and am uncertain of your intentions. :)

Here's the piece that gave us so much trouble when we tried to put it all back together. If you foolishly make the mistake of ignoring my advice to leave your lamp in one piece, you're gonna regret it. You'll run into the same problems we did. I'll help you, though, if you happen to do this. I know the secret that'll fix it. I'm still pretty sure it takes a miracle.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Pursuit of Happiness

I haven't blogged in a while...again. I enjoy it, so why does it feel like such a task lately? Life got busy. Some things had to go. Blogging shouldn't have been one of them.

With the holidays coming up- and a hectic work schedule with irregular hours- and a pharmacy student husband stressed with finals- and the opening of my new Etsy shop- and the trips to the post office during my lunch break from my real job, blogging was too hard to do at the end of the day. I said I was going to do better. I did better at everything else but blogging. Writing has always been my outlet. Whatever I'm feeling, whatever I can't say, I could always write. That's how it's been since I was four. Really, I started keeping journals then. At least two decades of my life are documented on paper. Most people don't know that and it's not really a great conversation starter, is it? "Hi, I'm Regina. I keep journals about what happens to me as I go about my daily living. What's even more interesting is that I've been doing it consistently since my childhood. What's your name?" Yeah...probably not gonna do that. But, when that little scenerio is put into words- it's goes better and is far more humorous than if I lived through the awkward experience. That's why I always liked to write. One of the many reasons, I guess. It makes me HAPPY.

There's this documentary playing on Netflix now. It's called 'Happy'. I may be watching it right now, actually. Well, hearing it. I like background noise when I write or blog but this one is really distracting a good way.

You should watch it. I swear, I feel more fortunate and happier and it's only 15 minutes into the show.

Life is stressful and difficult and stupid and frustrating and challenging and hectic and...IT'S NOT-

Life is what you make it. If you choose to focus on all the negative things that happen- all the cruelty and tragedy and loss and death and sadness- you're going to be miserable. I've been there before.We all have at one point or another.

The thing I notice when I look back on unhappy times is that I made decisions or formed habits that made me unhappy. I tried to live up to what other people wanted...what they expected me to be. I made that choice. I hated it. You- or, at least- I - didn't realize I was trying to be someone I wasn't back then. I just knew what would please people and expected those things to please me. When they didn't, I felt angry, upset...without adding more negative descriptions, I felt...bad.

I still do it sometimes. I mean, I still find myself trying to live up to someone's- or to society's expectations.  Nobody else defines me. Nobody else enables my happiness. Nobody but me, that is. So, even though I love blogging and writing- I needed a break to do other things. People have said that I'm talented and that they love my blog and my writing...

It felt weird to even type that. Feels like bragging. Too many my's, me's, and I's...but-
It's true. Enough people have encouraged this specific talent that I am inclined- but hesitant to agree.

After all, I've been writing since I was 4. I have plenty of room for improvement, but I've also read books that bored the peediddle out of me. Maybe I should take a break from something else in my life other than blogging. Not that it would be in the interest of others, but that it would make me HAPPY. Maybe my million other side-ventures haven't been what I needed to focus on in the first place.

I do love my little Etsy shop, though. Oh, and I also feel rewarded at my job. Obviously, my pharmacy school husband can't be where I cut back my happiness efforts of responsibility- He's the most important factor of happiness in my life. So...something's gotta go. But, WHAT? I'm still figuring it all out. Maybe nothing needs to go at all. Since happiness is a choice, maybe it's the only one I've got to make.

Today, I let go of my tendency to stress. I had to work but that didn't matter. I decided this morning that I would be happy all day long, no matter what. I drove to Jamestown, Tennessee today. I got there before my scheduled work-related appointments. Even though I felt exhausted from the drive when I got back home this evening, I feel incredibly happy when I look back on today....

Take a look with me. Watch that 'Happy' documentary, too. Stop worrying. Remind me to stop it, too. :) Life is good...

Jamestown, Tennessee. My destination today was marked with this tower.
 I spent my lunch break visiting some local antique shops and sight-seeing the oldest established town in my state.
At Walmart, souvenir shirts sell that read: "Where the heck is Jamestown, anyway?"
I said that same thing when I first found out I had to go here.

I'm glad I did, as it turns out...

  Mark Twain lived here. Just about everything is named after him in Jamestown.
This will sound ignorant, but I didn't know any of that. You might have. You're fantastic.

 That's okay, because I can probably one-up you with a treasure find of a 1917 book by Mr. Samuel L. Clemens, himself.

 I had to scurry through my car for change because the shop didn't accept debit or credit. In a panic, I told the wonderful elderly gentleman that I'd be right back and to please hang onto that book for me until I found some cash in my car. Frantically, I fumbled through more tote bags than any one person should ever own- or keep in their car-
until I found the $6.00 price that was listed just inside the shop. Pushing, rather than pulling the door when a sign had clearly stated proper door-opening technique, I finally managed to re-enter the shop. I held a mixture of quarters, dimes, and more pennies than one should ever feel comfortable exchanging in such a monumental transaction.

"Here ya go, Sir. Sorry that took a while. See, I couldn't go to the ATM like you suggested because my card got de-magnetized when I put a magnet in my purse."

"Oh,'s okay, ma'am."

"No, I mean, I know it sounds really weird but...

(Here's when I know I'm going to make things even more awkward...when I start to explain myself and my obscure behavior)

"...I work at a foster care agency in Nashville and we are trying to broaden our recruitment efforts so we got these magnets with our information and we've all been taking them with us to put out in places so that people know kids need homes."

"It's only $6.00 ya got here, ma'am. I'm real sorry-like but it's gotter' be $6.57 'cause we gotta pay the vendors, too, that sell here."

"Oh...uh, I see...Well, I understand. I'm just sorry that I put a magnet in my purse and messed up my debit card even though you don't take debit cards, because if it worked- I could've just gone to that bank ATM like you said earlier and save you all this trouble."

"Nah, it's okay. Dontcha' worry 'bout that, now, lil' missy. Happens to us all."

Except it doesn't. I didn't tell the wonderful shopkeeper that, though. He was the nicest and sweetest man in the world and my narrative captions are only intended to capture his wisdom and country-Southern accent that I more than likely reciprocated, unknowingly. I felt embarrassed and debated on whether or not to leave the shop, never to return. I took one glance at my find and I could not. I looked at the old man's face and saw that he felt bad for me and his empathetic expression for my embarasment was just...too much, my friends.  Back to the car I went. I needed 57 more cents.

I have no idea how it happened, but I managed to locate enough change in my all-too-lived-in-car to buy this silly book that I now slightly resent.

Marching up to the glass-front window, I marked the shop's front door "PULL" and followed instructions accordingly this time. 

The old, gentle soul of the sweetest shopkeeper ever had kept his promise. My Mark Twain 1917 edition had been guarded by the most harmless and loyal stranger I'd ever met. He took a few bites of a sandwich and apologized for his 'rudeness' as I approached the counter.

"I'm sorry, ma'am. Don't mean to be rude at all but the misses' just dropped this off and it's a bit past my lunchtime."

"No, Sir...please, eat your sandwich and I'd like to look around more anyway. There's so much in this shop that it'll take me some time to see it all. I promise that this time I have enough change to pay for my book. Thank you for being so patient with me."

"Ma'am... 'twasn't a thang. I been there b'fore. Only, it was worse. I was at a restaurant and forgot my wallet one time. The lil' waitress asked me to pay an' I reached in my pocket and realized I'd left it in my car- just like you did with yer money. Don't worry about it at all and I'm sorry we don't take debit. If you'd had a check, we coulda' done that, but it's just not allowed is all."

If I were 100 years older, that man would have been in trouble.  Not because he was my type. My husband is completely my type. That shop owner was just an older version of him, that's all...and had a much more pronounced Southern accent.

I paid...finally. In change.

I shook the gentleman's hand before I left. I don't know what prompted me to do that but he seemed thrilled to ablige.

I grabbed my new Twain-y treasure and headed joyfully back to my car- this time, not to search for dimes.

Once inside my trusty little Altima, I inspected my new/old book and noticed something appaling...Not about the book.

My button-down, casual shirt had been worn today. When I travel, I dress comfortably. Today, my decision betrayed me.

While looking my book over as I sat in my car, I noticed something in my flip-down mirror that catapoulted my previous feelings of embarrassment. My middle button was completely un-done.


This unhinged button just so happened to be located smack-dab in the middle of my breasts, leaving the most revealing cleavage view that the public eye in Jamestown has seen in quite some time.

I still admire the old man in the shop. What other man do you know who could carry on a normal conversation while your lady parts are partially exposed without your knowledge? NONE, I tell you. That man is a saint.

Still, I wish he'd said something. Maybe when I thought he was showing empathy for my embarrassment about change, he really had a better reason for feeling sorry for me.

So, that's my story today. More things happened. Work-related and confedential things that I can't tell in near an entertaining way as my book-finding tale are not blog-worthy.

My today story may not be worth writing down, either. I can't tell it in a way that wouldn't bore most people.


My happiness project was acheived today.

My embarrassment was worth it.




Merrily home, went Regina today...enjoying a beautiful sunset...and a new book...

More importantly, enjoying happiness.

"I'm on the pursuit of happiness and I know- that everything that shines ain't always gonna be gold..."


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Etsy Escapades and The Interview

I'm on Etsy.

If you read my blog, you knew that already. The rest of you are now informed enough to understand what follows.

My new shop, Retrospect, has been open for 2 days.

I've made 2 sales.

I have encountered several obstacles along the way. Mostly, these challenges involve boxes. Weird, right? I mean, I just want to own my own business. Who knew boxes and postage costs would be so involved!

I conducted interviews tonight to find a suitable employee for Retrospect. By 'interviews', I mean- interview...with my husband.Since I'm working full-time at my real money-paying jobbie, I realized that I was going to need help to keep up with my off shore escapade on Etsy.

As I contemplated my boxing/packaging dilemma, I raided closets to search for a box that would best suit my newly sold items. I researched shipping costs. I listed a few new items to replace the ones I'd sold.

By the way, my phone makes a CHA-CHING sound when I sell something on Etsy. It's probably the most awesome thing I've ever heard in my life. It's the sound of success- no matter how small or faint...still, that noise fills my heart with a glorious feeling of trimph.

Anyway, about the interview...

It was weird. It was good. It was...confusing.

After all, I interviewed my husband.

He was playing his Xbox while I questioned him about his dedication to Retrospect, as well as his motivation to become an employee.

While I explained the job details about listing specifics of inventory and making spontaneous runs to the post office with little notice, his usual smile slowly transitioned into a secretive scowl.

He'd been so willing at first. However, he soon realized that my company could not offer him benefits of insurance, vacation time, or anything else that would make his boring efforts worth while.

I hired him anyway. He doesn't know it yet, though.

Josh asked me, sarcastically, if I'd made a decision about his interview outcome. I told him "we'd" get back to him.

"We" hired him.

As the new CEO of a brand new company that boasts a margin of profit, I commend myself for making the Retrospect reference of "we", a reality.

Now, it's official. I'm not alone in this anymore.

I have an employee.

I made 2 sales.

I have a margin of profit.

I'm a company.

Today, I became a We. :) :) :)