Jealousy

This is probably the pettiest post I’ve ever written for this blog, and if it’s not, I’m scared to search through my archives and find what is.

The gist of it is: My boyfriend makes more money than me and I’m mad.

Yeah, that’s it.

Okay, that’s not really it, but most people wouldn’t read beyond that. If you’ve read this far, I assume you’re willing to, so I’ll explain.

It’s not him personally. It’s that the only reason he makes more than me is he lives in a state with a higher minimum wage than the one I reside in, and we’re both paid only $2 above our states’ respective minimum wages. The cost of living is higher is in his state, but our living situations make that factor irrelevant on both sides.

I suppose that doesn’t make how I feel better. He doesn’t make the minimum wage laws, and I’m certainly not trying to insinuate he shouldn’t make a livable wage (I am very much in favor of raising the minimum wage nationwide; no, I don’t think having to work a low-skills job means someone should be unable to afford food, clothes, and shelter). My frustration is when it comes to our personal situations, the only reason he makes more than I do by chance. He happens to live in a state with a higher minimum wage than me. He works hard – I’ll never deny that – but I work hard as well, and knowing that is what sparks the jealousy to begin with.

Since I am the worst person at hiding my feelings, he knows this and I unintentionally made him feel bad. Of course, he shouldn’t feel bad, but I could’ve said nothing and he still would’ve figured it out (note: he’s very good at sensing something’s wrong with me; where and when he picked that up, I’m also clueless). I confess I also feel bad because when I was the only of us making money, he felt guilty I paid for most of our outings and constantly insisted on paying me back, despite my protests he doesn’t have to (thankfully, he hasn’t tried to pay me back for all of that; paying for our outings wasn’t a loan!). I’m happy he does have a job and he is making money, especially since his self-worth was crumbling before he was, but I’m bitter about the reason he makes more than I do.

I guess in the end, almost everyone has something that gives them an edge, even a tiny one. Now, if I could only find mine.

Knock-knock, knock-offs

I haven’t had much to do with anything art-related in a long time. A constant schedule of school, work, studying, and tiredness makes that difficult. Nevertheless, I managed to squeeze a little time in to start playing on my art tablet again. It’s a year old, but still works without issue. However, to some artists, casual and professional (probably especially professional), my graphics tablet has an ongoing problem that can never be fixed:

It’s not Wacom.

Let me explain. Wacom is considered by many artists, if not most, to be the best of graphics tablets, similar to how Apple is considered superior when it comes to mobile devices. It’s to the point any tablet that isn’t Wacom is seen as a “cheap, Chinese knock-off” (never mind many American products are manufactured in China…) that isn’t worth any real artist’s time. There are some artists who go so far as to say you shouldn’t bother with digital art if you don’t have a Wacom tablet.

There are two problems with this. First of all, a tablet, no matter what brand it is, does not make someone a good artist. A graphics tablet makes artwork easier, not better. Only skill does the latter. Using a top-of-the-line tablet will not turn a beginner into an expert. Insisting someone shouldn’t bother with art because they can’t attain a Wacom tablet, or any tablet, is absolute nonsense.

Second, being a “knock-off” doesn’t automatically make a product inferior. Many artists look into alternatives to Wacom for the price (much like Apple, Wacom’s tablets are very pricy) because, simply put, some people have a tight budget and a pricy tablet isn’t high on their list of priorities. In addition to that, every technology has its flaws. I’ve found as many complaints about Wacom as I have praise for it (mostly related to their customer service and to their tablets’ drivers), and the same can be said for any other brand of, well, anything. Using Apple again as an example, google “Apple versus Android” and get some popcorn. I wonder what side you’re on when you have Apple and Android (I have an Android phone and an Apple iPad Pro with the Apple pencil). My point is going for an inexpensive alternative does not always mean you’re sacrificing quality to save money.

Going back to art tablets, when I first began to look into getting one, I was dead set on getting Wacom’s Cintiq 13HD because of how much Wacom was praised as being the best. At the time, this tablet cost $800 and I actually did go for it. However, it did not go well and twice, I had to contact Amazon for a refund due to third-party sellers (the only way you can purchase it from Amazon). After that crashed, I got some advice from a very helpful user who taught me about Wacom alternatives and had even created a detailed list of them (and the list includes Wacom). In the end, I settled on the tablet I currently own, one called Artist 10S 10.1” from XP-Pen. There is a second version of it released now, but as I said, it still works without issue and I have zero gripes with it. That said, I decided to purchase XP-Pen’s newest tablet, their Artist 12, while it’s on sale and my Artist 10S is going to my best friend when my Artist 12 arrives. I could afford a Wacom tablet, even their most expensive one (via credit cards) I linked to above, which is $3,300, but XP-Pen is cheaper, good quality, and satisfies me, so why should I switch (other than for the experience)?

Note I do not hate Wacom or fans of their products. That’s not what I take issue with. I take issue with the idea Wacom is the only good brand of tablets, or you’re not a real artist if your tablet didn’t come from Wacom. I confess to still wanting to try Wacom myself, if only for the sake of knowing if I would personally prefer it to XP-Pen (if my experience with Apple and Android is anything to go by, probably not; take a guess at my preference between those two, despite owning both). Plus, is it really a good idea to promote the concept that tools make the artist instead of the other way around?

(Side note: XP-Pen is a Japanese company, not Chinese. If it’s a knock-off, it’ll be a “cheap, Japanese knock-off”.)

Empathy

A human emotion that’s apparently very hard for some people.

I have four bosses. There are two I absolutely admire. I will keep names private, but I enjoy working with them, even on stressful days. They are never less than radiant – constantly full of sunshine – and what I’ve noticed lately is, no matter how stressed they are, they never stop being kind and empathetic towards those of us beneath them. Despite they have more power and authority over us, they still talk to us and listen to us. It’s to the point I will only come in extra if it’s one of them who calls me and I’m able to say yes.

There was recently one night where I was frustrated and not feeling good at one. One of these two I admire was the closing manager. She had a headache the entire night, yet she noticed I was aggravated.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

Me: (lying) “Oh, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Me: “It’s nothing, really.”

“Well, if you want to talk, let me know.”

Somehow, my night got a lot better after that. I have spoken to her before when I needed help and she’s never failed to solve it. In one case, she undid another manager’s giant mess. I have no idea what keeps these two managers able to put themselves in our shoes, but I hope they never lose it. The level of empathy they have and their ability to never lose it under any amount of stress are things I aspire to possess someday. Were I ever to leave my job, voluntarily or not, I would come back every so often solely to help them out if I thought it made even a small difference in the night for them. I’m not kidding. That’s how amazing they are as managers. Few people can do what they do.

Speaking of few people, the other two of those four bosses? I would’ve left a long time ago if the empathetic two I spoke of weren’t there. The other two have no emotion that doesn’t regard business. I guess that happens over time. I’d get more help from talking to a brick wall than talking to either of them. They only listen to what they want to listen to, and they decide from their own bias and personal ideas who’s right and who’s wrong, regardless of who truly is. One in particular enjoys exaggerating, unable to differentiate between “toss” and “slide”, and loves to blackmail and to make threats. Heck, one of my co-workers (who is older than him!) outright considers him an idiot, and I think stopping at “idiot” is generous. Both of them love to make assumptions, I suppose because taking an extra few seconds (sometimes literally only an extra second) to know what really happened is too strenuous. Heaven forbid anything serious happen at work because they could only be counted on to make the matter worse. I no longer hold respect for either of them (yes, I genuinely did think highly of them at one point, not that it matters), and the bridge has been burned to the ground and into ashes.

Granted, I feel slightly more tolerant toward one because he seems more naïve and lacking in memory than having any real malice. He did, for example, permit me to leave a shift early with no question for why I’m asking, though it’s likely he’s forgotten by now. His naiveté can be painful, to say the least, but I’ll give him half credit for never threatening me. That, sadly, doesn’t make him any better than his assistant, should he be needed for something the empathetic managers can’t do. I prefer not to talk either of them anymore because it’s fruitless. An “open-door policy” is only useful if it actually helps. I wouldn’t be surprised if there have been incidents where they wrongfully penalized someone and never apologized because, well, we’re just drones to make the store money. Who cares what they do to us? In fact, in my case, there has been at least one such incident – a different manager pushed me to mental/emotional breakdown, enough I couldn’t process my thoughts and wanted to hit my head on a railing, and I had to leave for my own well-being – but they already decided I was the monster in that situation, so anything I said fell on deaf ears. I would’ve accepted the penalty for leaving without permission, but for heaven’s sake, just listen!

Interestingly, the two managers who haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be at our level have had breakdowns. One recently told me she went in the back and cried after she had deal with a hellish customer because she was so stressed out and tired. The other admitted to having similar moments and she used to see a therapist to help her stress. In a way, it makes me hate that they can relate. They are too kind, too good, to be given hell like that. At the same time, maybe it’s part of what makes them empathetic. They deal with it, they know we deal with it, they know we break down and lose our stability, and it’s unfortunately a normality of the job, despite their positions being far different from those of us on the floor and register (especially the register; there’s a reason I was desperate to work on the floor). I suppose the two managers lacking in empathy have been managers for so long, they don’t remember what that feels like and they can no longer. I’m not saying I want everyone to be breaking down – of course not – but to still be considered valid. If the empathetic managers can still remember we’re human, why can’t the other two?

All of the above said, the one thing that officially made my last shred of respect for the latter two managers crash and burn is finding out they’re cowardly. They can yell, threaten, and take sides to their hearts’ content, but they could not tell me to my face they thought my performance with a certain aspect of work was low. I had to find out through my own questioning and, still, not much was said about it. They just kept moving me elsewhere, I suppose under the assumption I’d be too stupid to realize something was suspicious. Assuming I’d be slow to figure it out would make sense, but not that I never would. Weird. I’d think people with such a callous outlook toward anyone beneath management would be more than to tell someone they suck. I take more offense to thinking I can’t see through a trick.

Well-Meaning, But Uninformed

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Indeed it is.

I’ve struggled with my hair for years. My family was obsessed with it. As a kid, my mother forced me to my hair permed and professionally styled with extensions, not caring at all for my discomfort or how much getting extensions hurt. Trips to the hair salon were seen as essential to my living, and any protests were met with verbal/emotional abuse and accusations of me not liking to look “pretty”. As an adult, the obsession continued with my grandfather. Let me tell you, an old man obsessed with a young woman’s appearance is all kinds of creepy. Only recently has my family shut up about my hair because, frankly, I can’t afford a bi-weekly visit to the hair salon and I don’t have time for it.

I’m anemic because of iron deficiency. I have not had my hair permed since late last year, but I had no idea stopping those treatments meant your hair begins to fall out. I have been using certain hair oils – something I was recommended by people in personal life who aren’t family – but they’ve had no effect, and my hair is still falling out. Some advice-seeking in a Facebook group got me an interesting bit of knowledge: lack of iron can cause hair loss.

I did a research of my own. It turns out iron is necessary for hair to grow. Iron, the mineral I’ve been deficient in for at least eight years (when I was diagnosed with anemia), is necessary for hair growth.

Never did my hair-obsessed family mention this. And I’m furious.

I don’t expect them to know such a fact. I do expect them to care more that my hair is healthy rather than pretty. But they didn’t. Hair care has been a trial-and-error process for me because I only knew it as “washing, perming, and hair spray”, and I got sick of it. Only when my family’s obsessive behavior stopped did I care to try to learn if there were other ways.

I intend to see a doctor to ask questions and rule out other medical problems, but for the time being, I’m going to take some multivitamins I have and see if my hair changes at all. I don’t expect too, but if there is a good change, I’m going to be both glad and angry. Glad because my hair is finally fixing itself, and angry with my family for not teaching me better hair care habits while growing up to begin with. At the very least, if it doesn’t grow, I’ll be happy if it stops falling out.