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.