Sunday, 13 March 2011

Ten Seconds to Midnight...

Before I begin this blog entry I'd just like to direct the readers attention to the terrible events in Japan and, if you have any spare money, to please donate to a recognised charity for the disaster.

I began thinking about this entry at around 2:03pm on Friday the 11th. The mundane grind of my University job slips from my shoulder and shatters amongst the financial statements, letter-headed stationery and is lost amongst the interminable noise of the students (their youthful energy and their bizzarre tastes in music appal me)

I cycle home, invigorated as the Manchester sun beats down on me - arriving back at 2:23pm I begin work - what I see as my actual job - at BarSoap. I prepare an order for posting and deal with some Internet correspondences (mainly detailing my last blog, though with a couple of informal inquiries) and begin preparations for making a batch of soap (Goats Milk, Honey and Oatmeal) I have neither Goats Milk or Honey so I plan a trip to Tesco (a simple plan: Walk to Tesco) for the ingredients. Such are the minor obstacles of soapmaking.

On the way back I stop by the post office with the package. Now, my local post office is a fascinating place; the worker, far from being grateful for my handing over money for the service he provides, views me with intense distrust as though I have some insidious motive for sending a package. He will not speak to me, he will not smile, he will take my money but that is it. Once again I leave questioning myself, did I do something wrong there?

My post office manager.
I return home to make the soap, I won't bore you with the details. At some point later I return to the P.C and discover that my chemist (the man who checks over our ingredients and methods and deems them safe) has responded to my request to allow us to make Lip Balm (BarSoap is expanding its product range!); he wants money from me... they all want money from me. So, I am currently in negotiation as to what the bare minimum of money I can give him is (I also want money, I just love it so much)

At some point Kate returns home, I am obliged to stop working on the business and spend some time with her. I'm sure fellow craft makers can relate to occasionally having to speak to loved ones when there's work to be done, it's frustrating but it's a slippery path towards becoming a sociopath otherwise. After some perfunctory snuggling, we have a brief discussion about marketing and postal options (now postage to the U.S works at a loss in order to encourage trade, bah) it is then time for bed. BarSoap ends for 8-9 fleeting hours.

It is Saturday. We wake and deal with the correspondences of the morning - there are two sales to be packed and posted. Whilst negotiations are ongoing with the chemist I decide to waste no time in designing labels for the lip balms. Using MicroSoft Publisher is an emotionally neutral experience; the process is so dull and yet the program itself is so efficient... it gives the user a sort of glazed mental state - I sit there for 40 minutes adjusting this and modifying that, a vacant smile on my face throughout. I felt pleasure when I'd finished the designs though remember nothing else of the preceding 40 minutes.

I attempt to print the labels and stick them on the lip-balm tubes though our printer seems to have finally perished. It makes incomprehensible whirring sounds, complains of a lack of ink then a lack of paper and, when I finally coax a print out of it, gives a smudged, horrendous copy of the labels. The Devil moves in mysterious ways, though he is very real; I feel his hand in designing the Epson Dx8400 printer, the printer makes sinners of us all. I calmly imagine myself pounding the machine into atoms, my fists bloody and bruised though the infernal machine is dead. I discuss my feeling with Kate and we decide instead that I should order a replacement printer from Amazon.

It is Sunday now; there are no orders to prepare this morning - instead we've been in touch with a graphic designer to work on some sketches and ideas for both our online store and our promotional material, also a customer has a query about the oils we use and I am happy to oblige him (I really, really love talking about soap) In-between disparate episodes of Futurama and Family Guy I do a quick stock check and decided to make some Gin and Tonic soap (I've had Gin on the brain for 30 hours now) Making the soap I cut quite the figure, wearing a Dressing gown that can only be described as "stained", yellow rubber gloves and over-sized tinted Elvis shades to protect myself from chemical burns.

You might say I looked utterly insane, but that's the joy of working at home: I can listen to music I like, if I want to momentarily pause for thought and then watch the action scenes from Terminator 2, I can. That's what this is all about really; hopefully the business will take off and it'll be my inalienable right to watch Terminator 2 at any time during the day. So, that's fifty hours in the life of a SoapMaker - certainly it's more work and less money but, although it's now ten seconds to midnight and my 'official' University job is a mere nine hours away, I am not resentful.

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  1. So pleased to know that Daniel cherishes our snuggle time as much as I do... hmmm

  2. Totally agree with you having to "find time" with your significant other! My poor fiance feels so left out a lot of the time!

  3. Yup, here too - my other half has become adept at catching me out talking to him on the phone while simultaneously checking & replying to emails, painting, drawing or otherwise doodling... (Him, finally: "what IS that constant scratching noise?" Me: "Er, sorry, I'm doing a linocut"). But working from home, and for yourself, still rocks!
    (Oh and I'm a graphic designer too, just sayin'...)