In Transit(ion)

For all intents and purposes, I am currently homeless.

No, I am not writing to you from the sidewalk outside of a Starbuck’s, there is no paper cup to collect dollars or change. Nor am I seeking shelter from the rain. (Can we please get some sun, already? Come ON!)

No, instead I’m working as a receptionist today at a school on the Upper East Side, with several crying/screeching/bumbling children in the lobby. Birth control at it’s finest.

When my shift ends, I can either walk around (weather permitting — would you just fucking PERMIT already, Weather?), or I can head back to my temporary rental in Queens and get my stuff sorted back into the various cases and bags I arrived with in the beginning of May.

From here, it’s a 3-day writer’s retreat into Vermont that begins this Wednesday, followed by a couple of days with a friend in New Jersey, and then a flight to California, where I will live indefinitely.

Sky’s the limit, bitches, yeah!

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So you may be asking, how did you manage to avoid the bedraggled, wayward life of so many other homeless people?

Strategising and fighting. That’s how.

Working an exhaustive 12 hours a day for a few months, and being so tired by the time I got home, I didn’t want to spend money on anything. All I wanted to do was veg out and sleep.

While I don’t miss that gig, I am very grateful for the money it has allowed me to save to be able to do this. Getting more cushion for the California pushin’.

When I tell people, “I’m moving to California”, it is usually accepted with a response of, “oh, California is very expensive.”

Ahhhhh, Pot? Kettle is on Line 1.

Yes, California is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. I know this. In the beginning, there will be struggle. I’m used to struggle. I know Struggle so well, we snuggle.

I snuggle with Struggle. And then we drive off in a Buggle. Leaving my mind a fuggle. My heart strings all a-tuggle.

Damn it, I went too far again.

Telling someone wherever they’re going, or whatever plans they’ve made is going to be difficult, is like telling a cancer patient that they can live, but they’ll have to take chemo treatments and/or drugs.

This is not a newsflash. It doesn’t enlighten the person. Maybe you think you’re doing them a favour by warning them, but you’re really just bringing them down on their new adventure. When someone needs a boost over a fence, you don’t drop weights on their feet.

In a week and a half, I’m heading west by planes, trains and automobiles. I have my stuff, my notebooks, and my tenacity. How far that will get me is anybody’s guess.

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The Wheels on the “8” Bounce Back and Back

“Bounce back.”

We’ve heard this little nugget of advice numerous times over the years, haven’t we?  It’s in the family of “don’t let a bad hour ruin a good day”.  A not-so-distant cousin of “it’s going to be okay, just relax.”  The twin brother/sister of “shake it off”.  And this family gets through the rainy days under the umbrella of “this too shall pass”.

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With a new year starting, such as 2018, now is as good a time as any to address a new type of resolution that can ball up a lot of the old ones into one big, shiny, new ball that can bounce back to the frontal cortex of your brain.

Bounce back.

Yes, I know, it is a vague and abstract idea that could do with some elaboration.  Like any piece of art you could find in a museum or a Google Images search, it’s interpretive.  It has different connotations for different people, going through any myriad of life experiences that can distort how they see things.

Personally, the concept of “bounce back” means “Carrie, you went through something rough just now, but it doesn’t have to ride you for the rest of the day.  Tomorrow, it will only be a memory.  Get through this now, and it’ll be okay.  Shake it off.”

Working as a cashier at a major store in California, I get to deal with customers for hours at a time.  When the cliche “it takes all kinds” was created, I have to wonder if it wasn’t first opined by someone in the retail industry.

For those reading this who are unaware, California has exercised a law recently where people are charged ten cents per bag, if they choose to buy a bag from the store, as opposed to bringing in their own to use.

It frustrates people.  It frustrates A LOT of people.  Especially those who feel they’re already paying a lot in this state.  Then there are the people who have bags in their car and simply forgot to bring them in when they were parking.  It is also said that there are conspiracies about what the state is really doing with that money.  One dime on its own can feel like a drop in the bucket to some, and the difference between affording a dozen eggs, or going without.  A dime (or two) for some people can be the breaker between a good day to a bad day.

How does this tie into what I was discussing earlier?  Simple.

When the customer(s) come to the register to unload all their loot, I greet them, and then ask, “do you have your own bags, or do you need some of ours?”

Their bodies sink into themselves, their shiny eyes lose that glimmer, their inner Eeyore comes out to show itself.

“Shit, I forgot to bring bags.”  They stall, look over what they have in the cart, try to do the math as to whether the bag purchase is really worth it, or do they want to run to the car and come back, or can all the stuff be put back into the cart, and they’ll just travel the cart all the way to their vehicle.

Who knew “do you want a bag?”, would become such an existential question?

When the customer begrudgingly concedes to the purchase of a bag, this is where I insert my own “bounce back” initiative.  Call it an affirmation, call it perspective, call it cheesy, whatever.

“Not a big deal”, I say.

“If this is the worst thing to happen all day, you’re having a good day.”  Sometimes, this actually cheers the customers up.

I honestly don’t remember where I first heard this.  I’d love to credit it to my grandfather (He was a smart man, and my personality seems to have reflected his over the years).  Looking back, though, I don’t think he gave me that gem.  It may have been from a book.  Lord-of-the-Rings, we all know I’ve read plenty of those.

Wherever it came from, once it was spoken to me, my ears reached for it, gripped it tightly, and tucked it somewhere along the front right side of my brain, for safe-keeping.

A shorter way of saying it is…

Yep.

Bounce back.

Back to the store:

I’ve been a cashier for about 6 months already, and felt ready to explore other areas to work in.  They’ve been giving me little bubbles of time in the Guest Services area, where customers come to return items (Sweet baby cheeses, people!  Try the clothes on in the fitting rooms first!  Commit to the item when you’re here!)

Every time I’ve come into the store, from the outside looking in, it didn’t seem like it was too big of a stretch from doing the cashier work.  The area to work in is slightly bigger – and yes, it gets cluttered with all sorts of paraphernalia – but it seems like nothing out of the ordinary when you’re just walking by.

But then you actually get around to the other side of the counter.  Shit changes fast, at least for me.  And the whole concept of “bounce back” gets lost in the melee of multiple balls bouncing at me.  That isn’t just metaphorical either.  I’ve seen actual bouncy balls being returned.

That’s right, Paw Patrol, ya furry bastard!  I’m talking to you!

There’s a lot happening.  Returns, more returns, sorting what items were returned to said items’ respective carts, picking up items for guests who ordered online and had it delivered here.  The phone ringing on occasion.  Guests coming up to complain about the restrooms.  On my second day in that area, I was left alone.  Everything that I could do well at when there were people around, now felt next-to-impossible, when I was alone.

Not to mention the walkie-talkies.

Holy shitballs, Batman!  Those things are LOUD!

When I’m trying to concentrate on what I’m doing, and those radios go off, it’s disruptive and entirely off-putting.  I’m in a sea of overwhelmingly obnoxious sharks.  They don’t necessarily bite.  They just show their teeth in a threatening way.  Hence the “obnoxious”-ness.  It doesn’t help that I’m working alone in that area.

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Anxiety crawls through my body, taps me on the shoulder, and tells me that I’m naturally going to suck at everything, no matter how hard I try not to.  That everyone can see my “Loser” cape peeking out from my work outfit, and I should run away now before I turn back into a werewolf.  (A werewolf who wears a cape with a big “L” on it.  You now have that image in your head for the rest of the day.  You’re welcome.)

 

The tears well, my shoulders cover my ears, and a look of abject fear covers my face.  Like that last punch on any fighter video game, my energy is completely depleted, and I only want to escape to a safe space.  A quiet corner of my apartment, for instance.

After that initial experience of independent guest servicing, I found my boss a little later and voiced my concern about whether I really belonged there.  I didn’t feel right there, and my anxiety had me at a highly sensitive level, mood-wise.  My manager, a woman I look up to and have great respect for, was surprised when I mentioned my condition of anxiety.

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She came back to me a little later in the same day and told me she hadn’t even considered me as an anxious person because I generally handle myself very well when it comes to dealing with customers.

I explained, “when I’m at the cash register, and the people are only coming from one direction, absolutely I’m on my game.  I can do that with no problem.  It’s when there’s activity from five different directions at once, I get anxious.”

I don’t mention the fact that I’m Asperger’s without a diagnosis, because in all seriousness, without official diagnoses, it’s just conjecture.  It’s considered “uneducated guessing”.  I don’t have a doctor’s degree, I only have the history.  And quite frankly, even those specialised doctors STILL don’t have all the answers to what makes someone fit into the role of Asperger’s.  So I keep that part to myself.  I came out as gay much easier than I ever could as an Aspie.

New Year’s Eve, I had taken on a shift that would have me in that department yet again.  My entire body groaned.  My spirit lost some of its height, and I could feel that anxiety demon knocking to get in through my shins.

Not this again.

Bounce back, Carrie.  I’m telling myself this as my legs bring me closer to that dreaded area.  Bounce back, you can do this, you’re the only one who thinks you can’t.  Put on your lady-balls, and bounce the fuck back!

Later in the evening, the same manager came by to check on the progress of sorting out the returned items.  My immediate workspace was fully cluttered with miscellaneous items of all the departments.  Not to mention the items being held, a co-worker who was frustrated with me being frustrated with my current responsibilities, and a blaring walkie-talkie.

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Now, I can put on a poker face from time to time.  Not often, granted, but it has come to show up in my mental toolbox from time to time.  When I can zone out into any one responsibility, it’s on.  It looks like the identical sister to Resting Bitch Face (neither of them put on any make-up), but so long as nobody talks to me, and lets me do the one responsibility without talking myself, I’m good.

Then the reality that I can’t be there wordlessly sets in, and my manager asks me how I’m doing, I’m forced to look around me once again, and take it all in.

Bye Poker-Face!  Toodles, motherfucker.  It was nice while it lasted.  Here comes good ol’ Anxiety to stand, spread-eagle, across my cheeks and eyes.

“Why do you have that face?” she asked.

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“Huh?” I respond.

“You look anxious.”

“I am.  It’s just…so much!”

“You don’t have to be anxious, Carrie.  You can do this.  Just keep going.”

I don’t have to be anxious?  Really?  Just that easy?

Let’s be clear, for those of you who were lucky enough to never have the condition of anxiety;

On the computer of life, “Anxiety” is not a special feature.  It’s default.  When you inadvertently reset, boom! There it is.  That little hourglass, turning, that tells you “hang on, Sweet Cheeks!  We’re working on finding the programs that help you get along in this world.”

I don’t have the money to buy an advanced Apple, with the Confidence program version 40.1.  It’s just not in my budget.  I have a Dell. (I named it Adele, because fuck it, I love a good pun.)  I’ve only had the “Bounce Back” feature for a few years, and even that program doesn’t always run when I need it to.

So I come to the present day, where my Bounce Back feature seems to be running fairly smoothly.

I work tonight, and the full shift is as Cashier.

It’s Eureka, California, so not every customer is going to be a winner.

But it’s 2018 now, and hey, I can still bounce back.

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The Edge Off ’17

As I write this final post of the year, I’ve instructed Alexa to play Stevie Nicks’ gem that made me feel so empowered for the last few decades.

This time, I’m approximately 2,588 and a half miles (if the crow flies, according to Alexa), away from where I originated this blog.  Over months, miles and the milieu of this country I live in, so much has happened.  I’ve both made and lost friends in the same fashion; personality.  I’ve acquired an apartment; a corner of my own world that I share with nobody else.

I’ve likely shared equal amounts of tears between laughter and loss, and the count continues on, I’ve no doubt, where the future is concerned.

By way of employment, the job I have is permanent and steady, the hours fruitful.

However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking to go rogue, where writing assignments are concerned.

No, I’ve still not published a book.  I was strong for a little while in the month of November (thank you, NaNoWriMo, for the little intermittent pep talks), but real life – and the exhaustion of it – side-lined me for a spell.  My tenacity may have waned, but it has not died.

I have, however, been able to save a little bit of money here and there, by putting myself on a daily allowance.  Whereas in New York, saving anything short of breath was a laughable pipe dream.  My state of mind five years ago had me rooted in the belief that I would live out my days there, no longer in need of a driver’s licence.  The reality so many years later is that people do change their minds, and priorities do tend to shift along with those brainwaves.

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It’s officially 2018 here in Eureka, California.  The only thing that has me hopeful is the fact we’ve already completed nearly a year of the jail sentence that is having Drumpf for a lame stand-in as a remote idea of president.  Everything beyond that is icing on the store-bought cake.

I will be writing more often, as the schedule at the day job will be abruptly shortened now that the holidays are over.

 

If you would like to see more of my posts, contributions via PayPal are welcomed and appreciated.

paypal.me/mywearreadfriends

I will soon have my Patreon account back up and running, where I will release chapters of my ongoing works.

Happy New Year to you all.  May your 2018 be edgier than your 2017.

The Exhaustion of Semi-Success

I write from a new location and a (fairly) new life.

I write from Eureka, California, and it feels like an amazing thing that I can even craft together a sentence.

I’ve been living here for just over two months.  Of that time, I’ve been living alone for almost a month and a half.

I have my own apartment, I have my own corner of the world, I have my Nekkid Time!

It’s eleven-thirty on a Tuesday night, and I’m back from my second job.  A retail job, it’s not glitz and glamour, no.  But it does help me get established in what feels like a small town compared to the world-on-an-island also known as New York City..

So I’m not at the top of the game in anyone’s world, but much like Rudolph, I wasn’t much into games in the first place.

This city, with its tweakers and sneakers, its crabbers and snappers, its salty and its salty and its sweet.  For all intents and purposes, it is, in fact, home.

For someone who was sold on living out her days in Brooklyn, getting a coffee and bagel at the local deli seemed the penultimate on any given Sunday.  Now I just want a day off from both of my jobs so I can sleep in and visit the docks.  To get a nose full of salt water, acquire a gelato and get some pictures of the bay is a goal I yearn for.

Things are quieter and a bit calmer here.  We don’t Seamless or GrubHub here, we don’t have a subway, and Uber is simply a chic adjective in these parts.  I like it and am finding my footing in a somewhat sleepy town.

And now I sleep to dream.

Cali or Bust!

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This has been an interesting year where my indecisiveness has run amok like so many A.D.D. children filled on sugar.

I knew I had to leave New York City. That much had been solidified well over a year ago. The precise direction in which I was headed was another subject altogether.

First, the idea of Oregon had crept it’s way into my labyrinth-like brain. Then there was the southbound direction of California waving it’s little flag in the air, like it just don’t care. (Because it’s a true playa, yo!) (I should stop.)

For a little while, the liberal-and-weird city of Austin, Texas beckoned at the back door of my brain. There was some timid knocking, nothing intense. After my constant whining about the heat of a New York City summer, said knocking had subsided, and Austin was sent away…kicking rocks back to the country of Texas. Even Austin knew it wasn’t meant to be.

I don’t even get a postcard.

In the beginning of ’17, it almost seemed like Rhode Island was going to be a reality, despite the fact it was the exact opposite direction of where I wanted to go. I took a bus to Providence, staying there with a guy I will refer to a Supah-Shady, and got a few surprises in quick, rapid-fire succession that were not of the happiest persuasion. So that idea was soon nipped in the bud.

I had debated whether or not to go through with the New England-bound plans, or do I trust my gut and stay put? Thankfully, I went with the latter, and it has made all the difference.

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The moment I chose to stay in the city I love, my shoulders came back down to where they belonged, and I could use my ears again. Reason Pi you should always trust your gut. Plus, it always holds the best food.

Shoot to four months, a flatmate-from-hell, and one exhausting job later, and I’m at a brave-new-world kind of moment in my life.

I’ve moved out of the apartment I called “home” for the last four and a half years. I’m now in an Air BNB room for another week and change. From there, I’m off to a retreat in Vermont (thank you, Danielle!) for a few days. After that, it’s staying with my friend for a couple of days, and then?

…CALIFORNIA, HERE I COME!

EUREKA!

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From there, who knows where my life’s journey will take me. But as the spectacular David Bowie put it, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

The Day I Cackled Into The Shiny Dome Of A Stranger’s Bald Head

I was encouraged by a good friend to share this experience with the world, about a year ago.

Before I get into it, I feel the need to preface this little memory with an explanation.

As many of you know, Facebook has this wonderful feature for people like me, who can’t let go of the past. It’s called “On This Day”. It shows posts from exactly one year, two years, red years and blue years ago of everything that happened on that exact day. I do enjoy this feature because it shows examples of how I ‘ve both grown and not-grown since the annual days of yawn, I mean yore! Yore! Totally meant yore.

For example, I’m just as snarky now as I was back in ’14. Only now, I’m more experienced at snark. I’ve smoothed some of the edges of my inner snark-statue. No chisels were used in the making of this snark temple.

I’m also just as inept at hiding my feelings when reading books in public now as I was, say, a year ago.

Sit tight, kiddo! Strap yourself into your high-chair on the roller coaster of Memory Lane!

Here goes:

“So I’m on the F Train heading home, and at the tail end of Jenny Lawson’s‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’, and laughing so hard that by the time we stop at Delancey, I literally cackled into the shiny dome of a stranger’s bald head. The woman standing across from me, Shay (we were standing by the doors), starts laughing herself because not only did Under-The-Dome jump, but about 2 or 3 people behind him who were also trying to get off got a little start at my walrus-like bark-cackle. Doors close, 4 petrified-wood people lighter than we were before, and the woman is gripping the door with one hand and a knee with the other, squealing ‘ohmygod!’.

She now has a couple leads of what books to read next, and I have a free ‘Sanders: Because fuck this shit’ pin.

Reading: Bringing people together.”

I haven’t done much writing lately. My current gig, which ends this Friday — THANK YOU, CHEESES! — has had me so exhausted by the end of the day, my brain has held no original thoughts by the time I get home at night in the span of the last 3 months. I haven’t even been able to get much reading in, shy of my sitting in the loo. And you can only get away with doing that for so long before you get those oval-like dents in your arse.

Yeeeeaaaahhh, you know what I mean. Yeah you. I see you, ya little sneak!. Waddling out like you’re pretending you didn’t finish a chapter in there.

You’re fooling nobody.

How To Have Fun With Customer Service Reps

It’s nearly midnight, and my guilt over not writing a post in the last couple of weeks is riding me…hard.  I can’t sleep until I post something.

Going through my Facebook feature of “On This Day”, a story pops up from a year ago about a chat I had with a Warby Parker Customer Service Representative by the name of Aly.

Before sharing the conversation I had, let me give a little back story on why this happened.

It’s two-fold, really.

First of all, I’ve been a customer service representative.  More often than not, I hated it.  Especially the call centre type of work.  You talk to random strangers for approximately 7 hours out of your day.  More than likely, it’s a multitude of calls telling you how much you suck, how much the company you work for sucks, how life sucks, and by the way, they want a credit/discount/validation of how right they are.

It’s not for everyone.  Unless you have the patience of a saint, that revolving door of employees is going to keep spinning like a vinyl on hi-speed.

Secondly, I’m a loyal customer to Warby Parker.  I believe in this company with all of my heart.  There’s a small number of companies I can truly say that about.  The full amount could probably fit into a Drumpf-sized hand.  They’re socially conscious, they give back to the community in that when a pair of their glasses is bought, they donate another pair to a kid in need.  So when I buy frames from them, EVERYBODY WINS!

I have three pairs from them:

My Upton Sea Smokes.

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My Ainsworths

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And most recently, my Wilders:

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These gems start at $95, and they’re just as sharp, if not moreso, in my opinion, than any Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, or Dulce de Leche and Gobblin’ Ya.

Which is why the following conversation happened.

My online chat with Warby Parker rep, Ally, at the beginning of February 2016:

Ally Mon, 02/01/16 04:51:21 pm America/New_York

Hi Carrie! How can I help?

Carrie 04:52:06 pm

If I run through the store, calling out “I want them all, Daddy!” like Veruca Salt…will they call security right away?

Ally 04:53:02 pm

lol!! No, but we maintain the right to turn you into a blueberry 😉

Carrie 04:53:44 pm

lol, sweetheart, that won’t be hard. I’m wearing mostly blue and lusting over the blue Haskell frames – bring it on
My real question (yes, I did have a real one), is does WP ever do BOGO sales?

Ally 04:55:07 pm

We don’t, I’m sorry about that. We try to keep our prices low in general, so we never really offer promotions.

Carrie 04:55:34 pm

What if you made me your mascot?

Ally 04:56:01 pm

We already have one! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-footed_booby

 

Carrie 04:56:25 pm

dammit, work with me here
lol
I’m sending back the 5 try-ons tomorrow
And I’m having a hard time choosing between the Eatons, the Wilders and the Haskells

Ally 04:57:38 pm

There’s a $10 discount in your account – feel to reference this if you come into the store or call in once you place the order online, and we can apply it 🙂

Carrie 04:58:10 pm

ooooooooooohhhhh, now I’m getting really into it.
the cobalt blue Burroughs are also high on my list

Ally 04:58:32 pm

The Eaton Wilder and Haskells are all a bit different – whats the look you’re going for?

Carrie 04:59:14 pm

the I’m-Smarter-Than-You look, but apparently I need better hair for that too.
When is WP coming out with Ziggy Stardust frames?
And how did I end up with a $10 discount, if you don’t mind my asking?

Ally 05:00:55 pm

I like to think the Percey in Maraschino are very Ziggy Stardust!
Because this is the most fun chat I’ve had all day! 🙂

Carrie 05:02:04 pm

lol
agreed!

Ally 05:02:31 pm

Can you be smarter than everyone in a bright color frame?
I think the blue Haskell are smart AND fun?

Carrie 05:03:41 pm

absobloominlutely
I really love the Haskells, they’re so smart
if you look through Instagram, I’m eye_c_books, and I have quite a few WP posts

Ally 05:05:02 pm

Right on! Very smart. I feel like a lot of our frames are traditionally “smarter” (square, statement, black/brown) but the Haskell are smart with a twist
Ally 05:06:48 pm

Wow, great pics. The Wilder looks awesome on you!

Carrie 05:09:20 pm

thank you! The Wilders and the Eatons seem to be getting the most votes
I like the Eatons, because I wear jeans a lot, and they kind of have a denim feel/hue to them
I’m wearing my Ainsworths now.

Ally 05:10:19 pm

Very true. They also have gotten the most instagram love – gotta trust the followers

Carrie 05:10:29 pm

right?

Ally 05:10:55 pm

I think that’s the move!

Carrie 05:10:58 pm

thank you so much for tolerating my silliness, one last question

Ally 05:11:15 pm

Thank you for brightening my day! I could use a little entertainment at 5:15!

Carrie 05:11:17 pm

What are you currently reading?

Ally 05:11:29 pm

Great question! My book club is reading Fates and Furies – you?

Carrie 05:12:54 pm

I’m wrapping up The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s
After this, it’s either M Train by Patti Smith or Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
Ally 05:14:16 pm

Can’t go wrong with Stephen King! I’ll have to look up M Train – never heard of it!

Carrie 05:14:39 pm

It’s her follow-up to Just Kids, have you read that one?

Ally 05:15:20 pm

I haven’t! I just graduated from school in the spring so I’ve been doing a lot of academic reading these past few years, I have a lot to catch up on.

Carrie 05:15:46 pm

Ohhhhhhhhh, you HAVE to read that one! One of my all-time favourites!
Patti is quintessential New York!

Ally 05:16:24 pm

I’ll put it on the list! My book club is a bunch of twentysomething‘s trying to get cultured so I’ll recommend it haha

Carrie 05:16:43 pm

lol – Have them revisit Vonnegut then

Ally 05:16:54 pm

not THAT cultured 😉

Carrie 05:17:05 pm

And anything Neil Gaiman!
lol

Ally 05:17:30 pm

I’ll recommend them!

Carrie 05:17:31 pm

what were you studying in University?

Ally 05:17:53 pm

The history of science and technology!

Carrie 05:18:01 pm

nice!
So you’re loaded up on Hawking I take it?

Ally 05:18:58 pm

Yes – and I’m still not sure if the universe exists, let’s just leave it at that!

Carrie 05:19:19 pm

lol – keep watching Dr. Who, you’ll be fine.
or read The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene – THAT will blow your mind
I’m a huge bibliophile

Ally 05:21:12 pm

Jeez, it looks like you have a lot of reading list on your hands – we better get you some new reading glasses then!

Carrie 05:21:35 pm

exactly! thank you for the discount, by the bye
I won’t take up anymore of your time, you’ve been awesome

Ally 05:22:12 pm

You’re very welcome! Thanks for the afternoon entertainment! Have a great rest of your day

Carrie 05:22:25 pm

lol my pleasure and you too!

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So let this be a lesson to you; you can talk to and have fun with strangers.  Sometimes the candy ain’t so bad!

How Something Bad Can Provoke Something Good

This past weekend was a bittersweet one.

I did not march in the protest, though I wanted to. I wanted my voice in the chorus of power, to tell the country exactly where I stood. Certain barriers, though invisible, were overpowering. Barriers like anxiety, which are overwhelming at the most inconvenient times, can get Rudolph to keep himself out of the reindeer games.

As frustration mounts, I know that simply standing by the wayside is not an option. To be mute is as unforgivable as being with the opponents. Stagnancy has no place here.

So I revert to what I know makes me feel stronger: art.

Art is a great portal to a welcoming world. It is all-encompassing, it is all-consuming, or at least it should be. It is communication without speaking.

A test run

Art is the foundation from which happiness grows. It doesn’t have to be a Degas, it only has to be a you. It has to be genuinely you. That’s the only rule.

The piece above isn’t exactly breath-taking, but it’s all me. It was a message that railed against the walls of my brain. It would not be ignored until it was let out.

This is how you can protest. Fight with your head and hands, and you will always come out the winner.

Trying to Get the Success of Trump, Without Coming Off As A Rump

In a freelancer’s world, you can do whatever you want. However, whatever it is you want to do had better include some element of sales, or your “product/service” won’t get far.

Sales requires confidence. Regardless of whether it’s inherent, or more fake-it-til-you-make-it, it needs to exist inside of you.

This is where Trump comes in, and the hypothetical Achilles heel walks the path. It’s no secret that I don’t like anything about him. I didn’t vote for him. I was vocally for Bernie Sanders from start to finish. Trump’s self-esteem trampled over the line to the darker side of arrogance. His bluntly honest prejudice against races, sexes and sexual proclivities makes my skin crawl.

Having said that, let’s take a hard look at the last couple of years and use another term for what Donald Trump is; the “Underdog”.

Normally, I root for the underdog. Movies, sports, movies about sports, Davy versus Goliath, the one guy moving against the crowds, running in the opposite direction. Reality seems to be the only platform where I want the underdog euthanized.

From the beginning, Trump had everyone laughing that he was even going to try to run. Then the campaigning started, and the general idea was that this was simply a publicity stunt. People all across the nation were waiting for the punchline, where none existed. This orange dude was still going! He was saying some of the most repugnant things, unimaginable to the minds of us “liberals”, but he was still in the race, and we lost Bernie and had to back up Hillary, simply because she was the only front-runner who wasn’t Trump.

And he beat her.

Disbelief led to rage and tears, which led to a hashtag frenzy in this modern-day age of #notmypresident’s, #wtf’s , #fourmoreyears and so on. Everyone who has a heart and actually believes in equality was asking, “how could this happen?” Oh yeah, the electoral college. The new guy in charge won them over, and that’s all that mattered as far as he was concerned. They’re the ones with the money. They’re the ones who get the final say.

Whether this was a fact easily hidden, or easily forgotten, it matters not. It is what it is.

So how does this translate into the world of freelancing? C’mon, Carrie, bring this back to the start of the circle.

You have to make your audience believe you’re the best at what you do, that they won’t get a better product or service elsewhere. Whether by building a flashy website with examples of your work and references, or holding a meeting with a presentation and PowerPoint.

This — all of this — takes a lot of confidence and conviction in yourself. It also takes a talent of dancing on that fine line that – when plucked — quivers from “confidence” to “arrogance”. It takes time to build the foundation, naturally. But it’s time well spent if you believe in what you are selling. If your product/service is truly awesome, it oftentimes sells itself.

Here are five (and a half) important questions to ask yourself:

1. Do you know your audience?

2. Do you know the proper environment for your product/service? Is this something that’s only regional, or could it be taken nationwide?

3. Are your prices reasonable for what you’re doing?

4. Is there competition? If so, how can you “beat them at the game”?

5. What is your daily regime, and is there space for alternatives? Meaning, if you generally get up at eight in the morning, do your exercises, then have breakfast and then get started on your work, will a new contract that requires you to show up at their site by 8:30 a.m. throw you off your game?

5a. Do you have the resolve and flexibility to make amendments to your day?

These are all important questions to ask yourself. If you find yourself answering “no” to any of them, you might want to consider finding a way to say “yes” to them, at least initially.