Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Status of My Job Search

I'm currently looking for work, and not getting very many encouraging responses. Things are starting to look up now that everyone's past the Christmas slump, but so far the best response I have gotten is the one reprinted below. I'd be hired immediately, but I'm pretty sure I'd be working for a drug dealer. What do you guys think?

Hello Kimber Starling,

Thank you for your signified interest in the position I advertised. I
will explain the logistics of the job as detailed as possible, I am
sorry if you find it somewhat lengthy but I feel I should let you have
an idea of what you will be doing for me.

I have very tight-fitted schedules, which I must admit I find
difficult to keep up with, and for this reason, I need a personal
assistant who will help me with some of the little details of my
schedules; I used to have someone in this position but she returned to
her home country to assume control over a family business that was
left for her to handle after her father’s demise. As much as I do not
want to use her as a yardstick to measure who fills in her position, I
would reiterate, however, that she was very excellent, prompt, smart,
and courteous in her discharge of duties – I am extremely proud of her
work ethics. All I need is someone who is efficient, timely, and most
importantly, someone who carries out instructions as outlined among
other things.

I am Jerry Jones, 52 years old, originally from United Kingdom, I
moved to the United States about eight years ago, and no doubt, I have
been lovingly enjoying it here all the way. I am an international
businessman who deals in oil and gas ventures, and so far, I have been
involved in a lot of other ventures and businesses which I have been
very well successful at, all over the world from Australia, to Europe,
to The Middle East, and many other continents. As I said earlier, I
have a lot to handle and I need the service of a personal assistant to
handle some of the small tasks that I cannot have time to oversee or

As my personal assistant, here are most of the works you will be doing:

•    Running personal errands, like mailing off packages (contents of
which you will be aware of) and making calls from a phone I will
provide for you – you will also receive phone calls on the number.
Mainly business calls that you will be privy to.

•    Handling some of my financial activities – paying some clients,
receiving payments from clients, making donations, depositing cash –
on my behalf.

Nonetheless, I am in Abu Dhabi, UAE, for an oil seminar and will be
heading off to Kuwait for another workshop based on energy and gas;
both these trips will take three weeks altogether, and after then I
will return Stateside. While I am away, I have a number of tasks I
want you to handle for me this week and next, if you will be
available. This will as well serve as a stable foundation to predicate
our working relations and ethics.

Also, I will have you know that this position is not office-based at
the moment because of my incessant trips but as soon as I settle in
the next four weeks or thereabout, I will have an office for you – I
am also working on extending my offices to various parts of the States
soon as I finish perfecting my merge with some other firms from
London. But, for now, the tasks I will have for you should not
normally take you more than one or two hours to completion depending
on your time management skills. You may also have something else doing
on the side as you await my provision for a permanent office for you.

As I was saying earlier, I would want us to start things as soon as
possible so I can test your diligence, efficiency, and promptness
towards all these. I would want to believe that you will be up for the
challenge, eventually, we should have a smooth working relationship
between us.

The first assignment I have for you is to run a donation to a cause:
an orphanage home that I am very familiar with had told me about a
child that needs a brain surgery, and I have pledged to have a
donation sent to them in form of the payment method which they have
informed me about. Therefore, upon your confirmation of acceptance of
this job, I will instruct a client that owes me to write and send you
a check, details of which I will furnish you with if and when you have
agreed to start this job.

If you are willing to take up this position, I will need you to send
me the following information accurately (this must also be the
information where the check will be sent):

Name –
Address –
City –
State –
Zip code –
Cell phone number –
E-mail address –

As soon as I receive these information, I will contact you immediately
with details of the task for the week. You should also know that you
will be paid weekly. Your basic weekly salary is $400.00 and there
will also be bonuses as from the second week, provided you have
handled the first assignment flawlessly. God bless you tremendously


Jerry Jones

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

For Your Happiness

I think we could all use a daily dose of something that makes us smile. Today's dose is of George Clooney. No, I don't blindly chase stars, or keep up on celebrity news, but I stumbled on a Clooney interview (found in the January 2012 issue of Esquire) that made me laugh, and followed a link to a Clooney commercial that made me smile. That smile prompted me to share, because, for me at least, smiles are in short supply right now.

Here is the quote from the interview:

"I keep thinking: Now that every single human being on earth has a camera phone, where are all those UFO pictures? Remember you used to see those pictures. Some guy just happened to have a Polaroid when the UFOs appeared? Either it was all bullshit, or my theory is that the martians have decided, "Don't go down there, man. All those fuckers have cameras now."

And here is a fun little commercial he did. Don't worry about him being a sell-out, he used the money to finance a project to keep war criminals in check.

Also, the commercial has a good point. I'd be a lot less unhappy right now if I had some savings. Or woke up married to George Clooney.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sorry for my Absence, I've been Depressed and Pining

For those of you who follow me religiously (and there are so many of you), you've likely noticed my long absence from the blogosphere. I wish I could say this due to some awesome occurrence, like being called suddenly to be a secret agent in Russia, jetting off on a whim to the Amazon jungle, or even  just fending off a localized zombie apocalypse; but sadly, it was due to none of these things. I was just depressed.

I hate that I wrote "just depressed", which implies that depression is not a serious mental illness affecting hundreds of thousands of people across the country, and which dramatically impedes productivity, engagement in the world, and overall happiness. If I had my way, everyone would get a yearly physical check-up with their doctor, mental check-up with their shrink, and "good-job-for-making-it-to-work" meeting with their boss. Also, you're apparently supposed to visit the dentist every six months, which I didn't know about until two days ago when fiance informed me of the fact. I thought I was doing good to floss once a week and get my teeth cleaned every two years. But regardless of what tooth-care regimen I'm on, mental illness, even "just depression", is a problem which is not acknowledged, recognized, or dealt with by a lot of people, and I wish that would change. So I revise my statement; I was depressed, and it totally sucked.

Now that I'm feeling better and out and about, I can tell you about one awesome thing I discovered during my days of pitiful interactment with the world: Pinterest. Pinterest is a site where you can visually collect and organize all those inspiring pictures, nifty projects, and funny things you find while browsing the interwebs. You can even upload things from your own computer, which I fully intend to do one day, but haven't yet because I haven't made anything pretty enough to put on display. Sometimes I put on my eyeliner really well, but that's not what I'm aiming for in terms of pin-worthy material.

Anywho, if you'd like to check out Pinterest, I suggest you start here, on my very own board of Heart-Breakingly Adorable Dogs. Then start searching for other things you like (food porn, compost pictures, creepy craft projects), and get ready to waste a whole lot of time. I've found I need to set an alarm when going on Pinterest, otherwise I pass out at the computer after nine hours of pining. If Pinterest isn't your thing, that's okay too, I still can't figure out what the appeal of Twitter is, and it honestly makes me depressed that someone is making millions of dollars off of copying Facebook's status button and making a whole site dedicated to single-sentence posts. Not depressed enough to never leave my bed again. Just depressed enough to eat a few extra cookies tonight.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holy Shit! I Need an Amazon Prime Account, Stat!

My mom says she invented pull-ups and mousse in her head before companies came out with them. This seems like a sticking point with her because of all the money she could have made.

I thought she was crazy, but I invented an based lending library in my head a year ago when I bought my boyfriend a kindle, and now they've gone and made one. Making money on this idea seems like a complicated process, so really I'm just excited that they finally did it (thanks for reading my mind Jeff Bezos, but seriously, from now on stay out of there), stoked to get a chance to use it, and desperate to find the money for an Amazon Prime membership.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

When is Enough, Well, Enough?

Over the past year and a half I've set out to drastically and measurably improve my life. I read Unclutter Your Life in One Week, Getting Things Done, Writing Down the Bones, The Story of Stuff, The Total Money Makeover, The Joy of Less, The China Study, Garden Anywhere, Cesar's Way, and a plethora of cook books. I thought long and hard about what mattered to me and what didn't , and I worked hard to eliminate what didn't matter. I can honestly say that my life is more focused, fulfilling, and clutter free after this massive undertaking, and I am much happier with my life decisions and goals now than I was two years ago.

But honestly, it's taken me longer to get to this point than it should have. Some delays were out of my control: losing my apartment, a wet spring, my dogs getting into my food storage. Some things were my fault: not sticking to my debt reduction plan, accepting packaged food when I knew it wasn't what I really wanted, napping instead of writing. All of these factors aside though, the biggest delay in transforming my life into complete and utter awesomeness has been reading. That's right, reading.

You see, all the books listed above are the best in their category (at least in my opinion). I didn't learn that from fifteen minutes of amazon review research, or from trusted New York Times book critics. I believe these are the best books in their categories because I took the time to read at least a dozen books in each section. I've been so busy looking for the definite source for answers, the best way to do things, and the most comprehensive tome of knowledge that I've fairly frittered away the last year in searching for knowledge rather than employing it.

For example, after reading Garden Anywhere I had a quick burst of energy where I set up a compost bin and planted a few bulbs of garlic. Then eight months later I set about hauling mulch, pruning trees, and planting vegetables. The interim was spent reading a stack of other gardening books as tall as I am. I invested days worth of time into gardening research, and all I realized was that aside from Garden Anywhere, One Magic Square was really the only other gardening book worth reading.

I like to keep up on reviews, recommendations, and preferred reading lists, so in many of the categories the first book I read was the best one. In the case of Getting Things Done and The Story of Stuff I had to dig a little before I found my numero uno choices for each category, but I was only three or four books in before I found the best one. (And I do realize how silly it is that it took me four books to discover Getting Things Done, but for all its market saturation and tried and true methods I had honestly never heard of it before I saw it on the library shelf and thought to myself, "hmm, that guy looks like he's happy with his life, and I could use some coaching on how to get things done".) I'm sure that no matter what topic you're interested in, with only a little effort--half an hour or less--you can find the best resource for your field and toss all the other options out the window. But no matter how quickly I found my favorite book, I still kept looking for others.

I think this comes in part from the urge to buy new creative materials, rather than work with the ones you have. I know from experience that buying a new pen, notebook, or skein of yarn is much more fun than working with the stuff you have. The thing is though, buying new equipment is often a crappy substitute for doing the hard work it takes to be creative (disclaimer: I'm paraphrasing a quote I heard somewhere else. If I remember where I read this I'm happy to credit the person/genius robot who originally said it). Sure, a new notebook is pretty, but at the end of the day it doesn't really help me write better, and I'm out the money I spent on it. If you've carefully considered a purchase and are fairly certain it will improve your productivity, I say get it (I now know that Moleskines are the only notebooks for me), but if you're just trying to put off the perspiration of creation, then get your butt out of the store and back to your work-space.

I thought I'd mastered that concept a while ago, but it turns out that research can be just as insidious as shopping. I've spent hours online trying to find the very best chocolate syrup recipe, dog poop composting method, or e-reader. Even while writing this article I just took fifteen minutes to research Moleskine's new Star Wars special edition notebooks, when I really only needed to jump over to their site to make a quick hyperlink. Researching the best way to do something has become my new way of avoiding the hard work of actually doing it.

So I've decided that enough is enough; I want to spend my time doing, not just passively learning to do. I learned a lot reading about composting, but I learned even more by doing it. Same thing for knitting, organizing, cooking, training my dogs, and writing. I have two more months to reach my goals of a year and a half ago, and I'm determined to finish them. I'll still spend time on the internet reading interesting articles, but I want this to be comparable to the time I spend in the grocery store picking out my ingredients. Yes, it's good to find that perfectly ripe tomato, but at a certain point you just have to say, "Enough is enough, I've found a good tomato, now it's time to cook!"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

(Warning: Stolen Idea!) Weekly Wrap-Up

I read this great blog by The Bloggess, and every week she does a weekly wrap-up. I think this is an awesome idea because it lets me see all the other stuff she's written during the week, which I love because she's a hilarious, talented, and surprisingly poignant writer. I entirely recommend that you check out her site, but please keep reading my stuff, okay?

I have decided to blatantly steal the idea of a weekly wrap-up for three reasons. The first is that it will hopefully help generate traffic for all the different sites I write for. That is especially important these days because all the sites I write for are new and run entirely by me (who has no advertising budget), so I'd love it if word got around and people actually started visiting them. The second reason is because I fantasize about being the kind of writer who is published in so many places and so often that her readers are super-grateful to have one place to go to see everything that she's done. That sounds kind of egotistical, but I'm not going to erase it because it's not that bad of a wish, particularly because if I were that kind of writer I wouldn't have to supplement my income with yard work, e-bay sales, and survey-taking.

The third (and most decent) reason for stealing the idea of a weekly wrap-up is that I've mostly given up on writing about things I don't care for, and now invest a lot of my time into crafting articles about things I love, truly believe in, or think are too hilarious not to share. I spend a good part of my week researching and writing for blogs and sites that spread information that makes the world a better place. I know I'm considered a bit of a crazy lady for composting, going zero waste, making everything I can from scratch, and adopting almost every dog I see in need of a home, but I think all of these things make the world a better place, both for me, and for future generations. And one day, when I'm able to write things that entertain, inspire, and spread joy, I'll be just as glad to spread the word about them too, because what's the point of saving the world without making it a more fun place as well?

So, without further ado, here's the weekly wrap-up. While I wasn't here, I was:
I was also doing some other stuff, but it doesn't involve fun links, or even information that should be shared on the interwebs, so you'll just have to guess at the mystery of my life.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Letting Go

I used to be a pack-rat, and in a horrible way. I would save programs that had my name on them, not because the event was special, but just because the piece of paper had my name on it. When I moved out on my own for real (to an apartment, not just a college dorm), I decided that I wanted to have all my stuff in my house with me. Then I realized how much stuff I had, and spent a month getting rid of a lot of it.

This first round of simplifying and decluttering was easy; there were tons of books I didn't particularly like, clothes I didn't wear or attach sentimental value to, and slips of paper with my name on them that I could get rid of with ease. I got rid of a third of my stuff with no guilt at all, and moved the rest over to my tiny apartment.

Over the next few years I was able to slowly go through a box at a time and downsize my collections. I religiously read to keep myself motivated and inspired. Occasionally if I had fond memories of something but didn't need it in physical form I would take a picture of it. My Scottie dog sweater from second grade makes me smile, but I get just as much happiness from looking at a picture of it as I do from holding it, so I donated the sweater and kept the picture, which takes up no space at all on my hard drive. This picture taking habit served as a useful crutch, and I was steadily making my way towards a streamlined household that only contained things I loved, used, and could store and care for in a respectful manner.

Then I got evicted. It happened with little warning, when I had no safety net, and for reasons that had very little to do with my qualities as a tenant. My apartment was the first real home I had made for myself, and losing it hurt. A lot. Worse, compounding my problem of having no money, no place to live, and very little time to solve both of these problems, was the fact that I still had boxes of stuff left to evaluate.

With everything happening at once I got rid of stuff. A lot of stuff. I opened all the boxes before I donated them, but that was about it. I panicked, and made a bad situation worse by getting rid of stuff that I used and loved. Moving from a hundred and fifty square feet of apartment to fifty square feet of storage unit and whatever could fit in my car made me freak out and get rid of clothes, books, and project materials that I wasn't really ready to part with.

In an effort to clear out my life's problems, I made a list of everything I needed to live. A tiny wardrobe, a few cooking necessities, and the barest bones of hobby material. Artwork, fun-but-impractical clothing, childhood treasures; none of these things made the list, and so a lot of them got donated. My bright orange coat that made me look like a pumpkin when I wore it was donated, despite the fact that I loved wearing it, and was even designing a leaf hat to enhance the pumpkin look. A juicer that I didn't use on a daily basis was listed on freecycle, even though I was steadily increasing my juicing efforts. A typing table that was tiny but faithfully useful was given away, even though it left me with no place to write.

After the purge, when I had finally settled with my fiance at his parents' house, I started to feel guilty and remorseful. Yes, I got rid of some stuff that I would have gotten rid of anyway, and the fact that I managed to take time to donate or recycle everything brought me some comfort, but the fact of the matter was I'd gotten rid of too much too fast. My anxiety and depression turn this into a worse problem than it actually is, but the crappy situation of losing things that were useful and loved remains.

And here is where this post falls apart, because here is where I am right now. I have a lot less stuff, but now the worry of not having it is replacing the worry of having it. I'm slowly beginning to realize that it was never about the stuff in the first place. I'm worrying because I still really don't have a home, years of work to improve my life was blown to hell in less than a month, and things that enhanced and improved my life are now gone. I can (and do) replace some of the best things on e-bay (let's just say I'm knitting myself a green leaf hat for winter), and the rest I'm starting to realize wasn't that important to begin with. Sure, my Chi hair straightener will cost a lot to replace, but the likely-hood that I'll ever need to do that is small, since I wear my hair short now. And in the case of sentimental objects, I try to remember that releasing them back into the universe to give others joy is a lot better than losing them in a natural disaster, or even than letting them molder away quietly in a box sealed for safekeeping.

If I could do it all over again, I'd definitely do things differently, but I'm living well now with what I have, I'm doing well replacing gnawing guilt with simple regret, and I'm learning to love myself regardless of what I own or what bad decisions I've made. Plus, I'll always have pictures of my favorite dinosaur friends.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spelling and Presents

At this point my imaginary readers are pointing out that "extroidinaire", in Writer Extroidinaire is spelled wrong, and should be spelled "extraodinaire" (at least according to Google), but to that I say there are those awful little red squiggly lines under either version of the spelling, and that the standard spelling was already taken as both a website and a Blogger blog. So be happy with what you have, non-existent readers.

I haven't decided if in the future when I have flying monkeys to do my bidding I want to remedy the situation. Perhaps the odd spelling of extroidinaire will become my trademark. Or maybe through my future fame as a writer (watch your back, Hemingway!) I can standardize the spelling to extroidinaire instead of extraordinaire.

Spelling issues aside, my birthday is coming up, and I'm already making my greedy little plans. I want all my stuff on my Amazon wishlist, plus for everyone I know to compost, and for all my problems to go away. Most realistically though, I want some cake, Amazon gift cards to feed my kindle with, and a new pair of glasses (the prescription I have now is super old). If everything goes really well, I suppose someone would get me a couple of flying monkeys too.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Other Stuff I Write

As I hope you can all tell by the frequency of posting here on Writer Extroidinaire, I spend a lot of my time writing for other sites as well. If you like what you read here, you should check out my other blogs. If you don't like what you read here, at least click on the links so I can pretend that I have some readers. Pretty please with a cherry on top?

Here I write about the wonders and joys of composting. I firmly believe that everyone in the world should compost as much as possible, and that every municipality should have some sort of composting program going as part of their standard waste management.

My blog on how to get to zero waste in easy, teeny, tiny baby steps. We all could use a little less waste, clutter, and annoyance in our lives, so why not join me on my journey to zero waste?

I guest blog on this site. It's random crazy fun which is loosely centered on the concept of the messy transition to responsibility and adulthood.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Want More Organs!

I know this isn't practical and would probably infringe on people's rights, but I've been thinking about it anyway. What if we made organ donation an opt-out program, rather than an opt-in one? Organ waiting lists would be incredibly short, rare blood types wouldn't be so hard to find, and I bet the black market for organs would disappear.

Of course we should have a provision for people with certain beliefs, standards, or certain medical conditions to opt out, as becoming an organ donor should always be a choice. However, I think a lot more people are willing to donate their organs than are signed up to do so, and making organ donation an opt-out program would give busy people the peace of mind that should anything happen to them, they will have the silver lining of saving others' lives.

Sadly enough, the inspiration for this idea came from Facebook, where every new change is vehemently fought, but eventually accepted, because they make it an opt-out, rather than an opt-in program. Most people who don't feel strongly about new Facebook initiatives don't bother to opt-out, and so the change is widespread. Think about how awesome it would be if most of the people in the nation were organ donors, rather than the other way around. Face recognition software is just scary though.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cutting Your Own Hair is a Dangerous Kind of Fun

Remember when you were little and your parents never let you play with scissors, aside from the loser safety-scissors which didn't cut crap, but you could still force them to cut your fingers if you really tried (I liked to experiment as a child)? I think this is initially what makes cutting your own hair so alluring; not only are you playing with grown-up scissors, but you're also cutting something that only time can fix. It doesn't hurt anything, but it does have dangerous effects.

In my family, the most famous hair cutting story is that of my cousin, who was getting ready to go to church as a little girl and decided to take out her hair rollers on her own. Rather than undo the plastic clip and unwind her hair from the little foam guard, she simply pulled up on the complete roller and cut her hair off from underneath. Some mothers would have laughed, but my aunt cried at her baby's lost blonde locks, so much so that they missed church that week.

I'm sure I cut my hair as a child, but I mostly remember cutting my hair as an adult. Before my senior year in high school I had only had my hair trimmed, so when I chopped it off at my shoulders for locks of love I donated more than two feet of hair. I left it alone after that until I went to college and decided to give myself bangs. The first attempts were wispy, cowardly little things that showed the restraint I was feeling about doing something so naughty. I continued to cut my own bangs, and get better at doing it, for a couple of years, until I decided that I wanted an ultra-short, or boy cut.

I loved my new effortless haircut until about a month in when I realized that short hair has to be cut much more often than medium or long hair does. I paid to have it cut once, let it grow after that for a year, then paid to have it cut again and lost my job. The two are unrelated, but relevant to each other, because now any money I have goes towards paying for food and gas. I donated and sold a lot of things initially to help cover my bills and make remaining expenses smaller, but a pair of scissors survived several purges, and so now I enjoy cutting my own hair.

Cutting my own hair means I learn new things and make new mistakes every month. At first I was a little embarrassed to admit that I cut my own hair, or even go out in public, but I soon realized that cutting my own hair means I'll save myself a buttload of money, am that much closer to being a celebrity (Mia Farrow cuts her own hair, she said so in an issue of Vogue that I can't specifically cite or remember), and will be more prepared for the zombie apocalypse.