Stay Safe Out There

I helped close up the store last night with the work BFF, the nicest shift leader man alive, and our new seasonal guy that everyone loves. At 9-o-clock we turned off the last cash register, locked all the doors, and pulled out the security gates. The work BFF and I were doing the last minute things (picking up garbage, empty recycling bins) while the shift leader helped our new guy cash out. While we’re piddling about in the office, we could hear banging on the door and a bunch of yelling. By now, it’s at least 10 minutes since we closed, and the store is very visibly closed. It’s dark, the security gates are out, the open sign is turned off, and the store hours posted next to the door say that we closed 10 minutes ago.

Now, we close at 9pm, but the two stores closest to us both close at 10pm. Also, we’re right by the border crossing. Like, if you go out onto the main busy road right outside the store and don’t get into the right lane, you’ll wind up on the bridge and heading over to America. We do get a lot of people coming from out of town who don’t know the store hours or don’t know how to get to the nearest stores. Sometimes they’ll knock on the door just to ask for directions. Also, we’re right by the university, while one of our stores is on a road called University. That store is open until 10pm. A lot of people just see “University location open until 10pm” and assume it’s the one near the university. So, the work BFF and I decided to go out to the vestibule together to see if someone needed directions to the nearest stores.

Last night, it wasn’t lost tourists or someone who read our location wrong. It was three young men who looked to be barely drinking age if they even were.  They were just standing there banging on the door, demanding we let them in so they could drink. WBFF and I get up to the door and tell them through the locked door that we’re closed, but the downtown location is open for another hour. Usually, this is enough to placate people who stand outside our door, demanding booze. Not these guys though. They decided yelling at us through the door would be a better use of their time.

C’mon, I just want one thing!

Dammit, I’m just tryna get my drink on, why you gotta block that?

It’s your damn job, open up the goddamn doors and get me my drink!

We told them all the registers were turned off, the debit machines were off, and the security team would call the police if we let anyone in after the lights go out. They didn’t care. They just stood out there yelling at the two of us. We shut the gate up tight, shook our heads, and went back to the office to laugh at them where they couldn’t hear us. We figured they’d tire themselves out and head downtown to grab a bottle there before that store closed.

About 10 minutes later, we locked the doors for the night and headed out into the parking lot. The new guy got in his car, while WBFF and I walked to hers. We could hear this yelling and then saw a car sitting there honking at our shift leader. It was those three guys! They had sat there in their car, waiting in the parking lot for us. This in itself was creepy enough. But they sat there yelling things at us from their car, watching us walk to WBFF’s car. Then, they sat there in their car, like they were waiting for us to leave so they could follow. We sat there, car off, trying to figure out what to do. I mean, they were pretty pissed off that we couldn’t magically re-open the store for them 10 minutes past closing, make a cash register come to life to ring them through with no drawer in it and sell them a bottle when we legally couldn’t. Like, they were really pissed about that. And then they sat outside waiting for us, and wouldn’t leave until we left. It was really scary.

In the end, I took out my phone and got ready to dial 911 if they got out of their car at all. We sat there for 5 or 6 minutes, trying to keep an eye on them from the locked car we were in. Eventually, they realized we weren’t going anywhere with them sitting there, and they left. Not before driving by us slowly and yelling things at us, and then speeding through the parking lot, almost hitting a minivan and a couple of pedestrians.

Sadly, this isn’t the only time things like this have happened to us at work. I had a group of three younger guys threaten me because I wouldn’t serve them until they gave me their ID. I had the man we refer to as Scary Customer Guy scream at me and shove his pen in my face like he was trying to stab me. We get shoplifters all the time, and more than once they’ve pulled some sort of weapon on our security staff when they try to arrest them. And our store isn’t even one of the two really “high crime” stores in the city!

The point is, stuff like this happens. It doesn’t matter where you are, there is always the chance of crime or violence. Does that mean you should never go anywhere? Stay in the house, hide under your blankets where the world can’t find you? Of course not. You just need to stay smart and be safe out there.

1. Stay In Groups

I’m horrible for this. I walk everywhere and have no problem walking home alone most night. Unless we’ve had an incident in the store, or I had to deny a lot of sales to people in the area, I’m fine walking. My co-workers won’t let me do that though. When we close the store at night, we stand at the doors in a group while the shift leader locks up. Then, we walk as a group through the parking lot, making sure everyone gets to their car ok. We wait and make sure everyone’s car start usually, and everyone gets out of the parking lot ok.

If you’re in a group, you’re less likely to become a random target usually. Some random criminal isn’t going to want to mess with a whole group of people when they could pick on the person who is walking alone.

2. Keep A Legal Weapon With You

I’m not talking about arming yourself to the teeth with guns and ammo. You probably have keys with you. Did you know that putting your keys between your fingers not only makes a great small weapon in an emergency, but it’s also a very low budget way to cosplay baby Wolverine?

We always joke at work that we’re fine in any situation because we have to wear steel-toe boots at work. Those in themselves are a weapon. A kick to the shin or groin with the toe of one of those will stop a lot of people.

Heavy backpacks or purses are great for swinging at people. Large rings make a punch more effective. Keys on a lanyard can be swung around at someone in a panicked moment. There are a lot of things that you have with you right now that can be weaponized.

3. Keep Your Phone Handy

This is the best tip I know. I always have music playing on my phone, so I know it’s right there with me. Know the emergency and non-emergency police numbers for your area. If you think you’re being followed, or you’re in somewhat but not immediate danger, you can always call the police. They’d much rather stop a crime before it starts, or when it’s just starting, then have to clean up the aftermath.

If you don’t feel comfortable calling the police, call a nearby friend. If I have to walk to someone’s house at night, I call them while I walk. That way, I can tell them about anyone suspicious around me. If something were to happen to me, then my friend would not only have a physical description of whoever is bothering me, but she would know where I am so she can call the police for me. She would also be able to hear what is going on as long as I’m on the phone with her.

Well, that’s all the tips I have for today. My work Christmas party is this weekend, and my roots are showing pretty bad right now. I’m off to dye my hair and make myself feel all pretty-pretty again. I am going to work on this topic more at a later date, though, and find some more tips and advise for staying safe out there. I just had to get this out of my head today, because I’m still pretty shaken up about last night.

 

Advertisements

More Praise for the Internet

Sorry lovelies, but today my head is just a giant pile of mush. I had a few glasses of red last night and the got assaulted with cuddles all morning by the surprisingly loving Bowser Kitten. It’s already after 11am, and I have done exactly nothing all day. I played a game on my phone, checked my Twitter, messaged my mum to see how dad is doing (she’s supposed to be at work, so I can’t just call), and have been hiding in my room from roommates all morning. Even the super snuggly Bowser Kitten is in a mood, burrowed into the blankets on the bed with only his little head poking out.

I just can’t wrap my head around anything today. I’m going over to-do lists, trying to get things done, but no one else around here gets anything done so I get side-tracked. This morning, I got up to make coffee around 9:30. Instead of my usual “put the coffee on, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, go grab coffee” routine I do most mornings, I had to wash a sink full of dishes, scrub old macaroni and some sort of brown sauce off the counters, and clean off the stove. My 10 minutes routine was more than half an hour thanks to that! And I seem to be doing everything in super slow motion today, too.

I think part of this is because I spent so much time looking at my schedule for work. They decided to open our store later on Sundays for the holidays, and the first night of this is the night of our Christmas Party. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I are supposed to head out to the party around 6:30 with the work BFF and her fiance, but I am scheduled until 8:15pm. So I have to do a little finagling of the schedule, perhaps a little bribery to switch some things around and get an earlier shift. That’s my only 8-hour shift that week, so I can’t afford to just give it up. Actually, it’s one of the few 8-hour shifts I have in the 21 straight days I’ve been scheduled. Yes, after working a 30-day stretch and getting hell from my manager for working that many days, I take two whole days off just to be thrown into a 21-day stretch. If I hadn’t taken this past weekend off, then I would be working 53 straight days.

There are a few really crappy things that come with this. First off, in our collective agreement it states that we can only be scheduled 6 days a week unless we agree to pick up hours on that 7th day. I could totally go to management and tell them I can’t do all these days in a row, and they’d just give away a shift a week. But they don’t have to make up those hours anywhere on the schedule for me. That means I would be losing 5-8 hours a week just to have a day off. Another crappy thing is that I’m working 7 days a week, and still not being scheduled for 40 hours. In the past, I’ve had weeks where I’ve worked 7 days and not even gotten 30 hours! If I want to pay the bills, then I have to work all of these shifts somehow.

The weird thing is, my managers just gave me hell for doing a 30-day stretch! True, part of the streak was my own doing. When people needed shifts covered, or we knew in advance that we would be short on certain days, I volunteered to pick up hours. But I also did that with the assumption that the days off I was already scheduled for later in the schedule would remain as days off for me. I’d plan for a 14-day stretch, only to have my day off on day 15 rescheduled as a closing shift, give me 20+ days. Even at the very tail end of my streak, I was supposed to get days 27 and 28 off, but the manager tweaked that and gave me shifts instead! On day 30, when I made it known that I had survived yet another 30-day stretch, my manager said I can’t do long stretches anymore and have to take days off. Then he turns around two days later and schedules a 21-day stretch!

All of this scheduling, re-scheduling, and long stretches makes having a life outside of work nearly impossible. It’s already hard to schedule around my job since my shifts change so often. I can be scheduled to close at 4:15, just to get a call at 8am to come in at noon instead. Or I can get a highly coveted morning shift with the expectation to be out of there by 3pm, only to get extended until 6pm. And we just found out recently that the company as started to log everything you do regarding the schedule, possibly to use against you. Every time you request a day off, call in sick, refuse to switch shifts or come in early or pick up an extra shift…….. this all goes in a report they add to your annual review. They even log the reasons why you turn down shifts!  This makes scheduling anything else in my life damn near impossible!

Take, for instance, doctor’s appointments. It’s time for my full physical, something that I simply cannot ignore. We have a history of cancer in my family, and cervical cancer is one of them. I’ve had to have cryosurgery before, to get rid of pre-cancerous cell growth that was caught before it became full-blown cancer. It’s uncomfortable enough for me to make an appointment like this already, but my doctor left his practice and was replaced by a brand new doctor. My down-under exam will be my first time meeting this doctor! I have been trying to find the time to schedule this appointment for almost a month now, and it looks like it will be another few weeks before I know for sure I can have the time to do so without penalizing myself at work. I have a physical to book, moles that need to be checked, I haven’t had my eyes checked in 6 years and need to get new glasses, and I should probably see a dentist someday to check on that wisdom tooth that started coming in a little over a year ago.

What really gets to me, though, is that one of the only ways to really advance in this company is to learn French. Actually, not being bilingual is one of the things that has really been holding me back from getting a government position in my field. There are places around here where I could learn French, but it’s impossible to both afford this and take the time to make it to these classes with the way schedules are done. The work BFF has it in her file that she is only available until 7pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. There are 8 different shifts that the manager has given out on the current schedules that she could possibly work on these days. Still, since she’s not available to close, he doesn’t schedule her at all most weeks. Taking even a few hours off of my availability each week to take French classes could mean giving up 10-16 hours of paid work each week! I really can’t afford to do that.

That’s where the third great love of my life comes in (the first two obviously being AAB and currently hiding Bowser Kitten): the internet. Ever check out Duolingo? It’s free online language lessons! I haven’t been able to keep up with mine much lately, but I’ve been chipping away at them bit by bit. As you learn, you have the option to strengthen your skills and go over things you’ve previously learned. They even have a TinyCards page with little flashcards to help you keep up with your skills. Also, they have an app that lets you learn on the go. And it’s not just French you can learn on there. There are 27 different courses for English speakers to help them learn other languages!

Duolingo isn’t the only free online resource for learning, either. Go do a Google search for free online classes. There are a tonne of resources out there! One of my personal favourites (even though I have a hard time finishing courses sometimes) is Coursera. They have a tonne of courses that you can either take for free (just to gain the knowledge and upgrade your skills), or you can pay to take them to get official credits from schools around the world. You can specialize in things from every area of knowledge in their catalog, from marketing to teaching English as a second language.

Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for on there? Well, try out Open2Study, an Australian-based website that follows the same model. What I love about this site is that it features a lot of self-paced courses. The problem I have when taking online courses is that I’ll start one, get all excited about it, and can only go so far at a time. You have to do a little bit each week, which kind of kills my motivation. With my constantly changing schedule, and putting my writing before anything else online right now, I tend to just drop courses after the third week. With self-paced courses, you can do as little or as much as you want at a time. Have a day off? Laying in bed sick all day? Don’t feel like watching reruns of Friends on Netflix yet again after a long day? You can throw on a lecture video, pull up some online notes, and do just as much work as you’re feeling up to at the time.

One thing I’ve been meaning to look into more is learning a bit of web development online. I learned some very basic HTML way back in my MySpace days, but pretty much stopped there. Having some basic development tools is essential for a lot of jobs out there now. Web development is becoming the new “proficient in Microsoft Office” in resumes. There are a tonne of resources out there, which I haven’t really evaluated for you guys at all. Like I said, this is something I’m looking into, not something I’ve actually thrown myself into yet. Still, I’ve been going over the sites listed here in this article. I’ve heard of a few of them before, like Khan and Code Academy. Maybe one of you out there has a little more insight into which online sites would be best for someone looking to learn online, and would like to leave a comment for us.

It’s actually mind-blowing how much there is that you can learn online. Did you know Yale has free classes online? University of Toronto? MIT? I mean, how great would that look on a resume? “While employed with [XXX], I independently upgraded my skills by taking online courses through both MIT and Yale”. I mean, it just sounds cool. Like, I live in the little border town, working my little retail job, working on my homework for MIT. Need an excuse to get out of a social situation? “Sorry, I can’t make it to your Silly Sock Social and Spritzer Mixer. I have to finish a paper for that class I’m taking at Yale.”

And for anyone who doesn’t think that any of this free online learning is “official” enough for them (I’ve heard that complaint from a lot of people, actually), or you specialized education like a Masters Degree or a few university classes to finish your major, there’s something out there for you too. Almost every single university out there now offers some sort of online learning. All through my two degrees, I took at least two online classes a year, usually during the summer months. I was a Teaching Assistant for an online Sociology class for three years. For us Canadians, there is even an entire university dedicated to online learning: Athabasca University. This online school is a collection of majors, courses, degrees, and certificates from universities all over Canada. Most Canadian universities will allow you to substitute online classes from Athabasca for courses you’re unable to take physically at your school for whatever reason. It’s just a matter of filling out some paperwork and using the online classes kind of like transfer credits. You can pick up a few classes here, or do a full degree. I’ve looked into a few certificates recently that would go great with my degrees, and really add something to my resume!

I don’t know, I’m in one of those moods where I feel like my entire life is falling apart, and I need to do something to get out of here. Like I said, my schedule doesn’t allow me to take the time off to upgrade my education, so I’ve been looking into all of this online learning a lot lately. These classes are perfect for anyone who needs to do a bit of learning but doesn’t have the time to dedicate the same time each week to physically going to a class.

I do have some words of warning, though. Like I said, I took quite a few online classes at my university and was the Teaching Assistant for one course. I know how easy it is to blow off work for these classes. When I had to physically go into class and participate in lectures, go to labs, hand in work, then that pressure to keep up was the motivating factor in me getting anything done sometimes. With my online classes, I could put off doing any reading at all until just before an assignment or paper was due. I once took a course and didn’t even take the plastic wrapping off the textbook until more than halfway through the semester! Unless there is some sort of schedule to the class that makes you hand things in, or take tests and quizzes, and all of this is at regular intervals, then it is ridiculously easy to dig yourself an academic hole that is stupid crazy hard to climb out of.

So, is there anything out there that you need to learn? Always wanted to learn a little bit about Ancient Rome? High school Spanish teacher always tell you that you’d never be able to learn more than a few words of Spanish, and you want to prove him wrong? There is something out there for everyone online. You just need to know where to look for it.*

*Google. Google is where you look for it. Type it into the damn search and look for it.

I’m Pretty Bad At A Lot Of Things

So we’re a little short staffed at work right now. A certain coworker is off sick, and the three newest girls all have exams this week, which means we have to pull in people from other locations to help us out. Sometimes this is fun. We have about a dozen stores in this county, and we pull in people from all over. We get to learn about how other stores in other areas work, the differences between the stores, and we get to make friends with all these new hires so that we all have a little group to hang out with at training events and holiday parties.

And then there are times when we get stuck with a worker like we had last night.

Usually, this gentleman follows us around the store, talking non-stop. He leaves the cash registers unattended when his sole purpose in being there is to work the damn register. Sometimes, he tells people we have products we don’t have, or he directs them to the opposite side of the store a certain product is on because he saw something he thought was similar there. Last night a woman asked for the peach schnapps. Instead of asking us where it is, or going down the aisle labelled “Liqueurs”, he sent her to the Christmas display on the opposite side of the store. Why? He saw the holiday peppermint vodka there and to him, that’s basically a schnapps so everything should just be there.  We tell him constantly to just direct customers to us, or to ask us where something is if he’s not sure if we have it. Last night he wasted customers’ time looking for a whiskey that we don’t even carry because he was sure it would be in a certain place that it’s not.

Last night was beyond anything I’ve ever had to put up with from him, though. Not even 30 minutes into this man’s shift, a customer had to come and track me down while I was working in the back of the store. She wanted to check out, but there was no one at the registers. So I came up front, opened my register, and had to handle a small stream of customers. The entire time, this gentleman was just wandering around the store, pretending to be cleaning when all he was doing was basically facing up the very front bottle on each shelf. Anyone who has ever worked retail in their life knows that if you’re not long-arm facing, you may as well be sitting on your ass in the office taking a nap.

When our shift leader came back from her dinner break, she pulled him aside and told him that we needed him to stay on or near cash at all times. We don’t want to keep the customers waiting, or make them wander the store looking for an associate. Usually, when someone comes to help out at a different store, they get their duties from the shift leader or manager on duty, and then do what they’re told.

Well, this grown-ass man decided to regress to the maturity of a 5-year-old. He planted his feet behind his register and decided not to move the entire night. He threw garbage on the floor, let carts and baskets pile up around him, and refused to move an inch even when the store was empty. The most awkward part was the way he treated us, though. When my coworker or I would come up to the front or run cash, he would turn his body away from us and very dramatically stare at the wall.

Now, I didn’t say or do anything to piss him off, but he gave me attitude like you would not believe. When I told him he could go on his break, he snapped at me and made it sound like I was some sort of evil bitch who made him stand still all night. When our shift leader told him to stop being childish and just do his job, he told her she has an attitude. Then he announced that he was never working at our store again, and I did a little happy dance.

But through all of this, I just couldn’t be mean to him. I mean, when he gave me attitude I called him out on it. But I couldn’t yell, or even talk sternly to him. I had a shift leader there, so my confrontational skills just flew right out the window. Confrontation is something I’m really not good at unless I have to be. Actually, there’s a lot of things I’m really not good at. As you know, getting through university without student loans is one of those things.

For some reason, people don’t like to admit that they’re not great at everything, and they hate admitting they are flat-out bad at something. Jenna Marbles made a few videos of things that she’s just really not good at. After the first one, people bugged her about being down on herself and she had to make a video of things she’s awesome at to make them stop. Admitting that you’re bad at things isn’t something you should be ashamed of. It’s a natural thing. No one is amazing at every single little thing they do. So here are some of the things I’m really not good at.

1. Self-Motivation

Every few months, I get into that “I can do ALL the things” mood. I pledge to myself that I’m going to write for 2 hours a day, work out a bit every morning, eat healthier foods, drink less wine, drink more tea, and chug water like it’s the only thing that can keep me going. And every time I do this, I fail at ALL the things in about 36 hours. I work out sporadically and walk everywhere and haven’t done a week of full workouts in a few years. I eat a lot of veggies, and eat like half a cucumber and a large salad a day, but can still throw back half a small wheel of brie, a Twix, two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon, and some form of potato (fries or chips usually) as a snack. I have a tonne of tea at home (like an entire cupboard of teas), but still grab a Coke Zero if I have it rather than turn on the kettle.

Once, I decided to start bullet journaling. After the first week, I had already failed. I just could not stay motivated enough to brain dump or reflect on my day every single day. Even little things like “I’m going to read more and work my way through my bookcase” turns into “I’ll check Not Always Right regularly while listening to I’m Sorry Dad in the background if I have time”.  I just cannot stay motivated on things that I can’t see results from quickly.

2. Keeping Up With The Cleaning Around Here

I made a cleaning schedule once. There were things like “scrub out the bathtub every other day”, “mop the kitchen floor weekly”, “change the sheets every Saturday” on there. I keep up with the bathtub mostly, but only because the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend comes home from work filthy so our bathtub gets putting grody if we don’t clean it often enough. I sweep and mop when I can, but the big things just seem to get pushed to the back of my brain and forgotten sometimes.

I need to start the fall cleaning soon because there’s a lot of things that need to get done because I don’t do them regularly. Windows need to be washed, mini-blinds need to be repaired, furniture needs to be vacuumed and steamed, and walls need to be scrubbed down. We get 5 or 6 people living here at a time, and most of them are short-term rentals who stay a few months and then leave. I don’t get a lot of help around here with the cleaning. AAB is getting a lot better, scrubbing the kitchen after cooking and helping keep up with the sweeping and mopping. There’s still a tonne of stuff on my cleaning to-do list that I just never seem to get done.

3. Relaxing

This drives AAB absolutely insane. I do what I call “Multitasking Relaxing”. We’ll curl up in the living room when I get home from work, ready to watch some TV or YouTube videos, eat dinner, and just relax. For him, that means lounging on the couch or the floor and watching the TV. For me, it’s curling up and watching the TV while I catch up on Instagram and read the news on my phone, play a game or two on the tablet, make notes for writing projects, maybe read a chapter or two of a book, lotion up my feet and throw on fuzzy socks, and update my day planner for the week. I can’t just sit there and relax.

The only time I can just relax is when I’m beyond stressed, almost to the point that I can’t function anymore. A few months back, I did back to back 30-day stretches at work, followed by 27 days of work in 30 days. On top of that was job interviews, showing the house to prospective renters, family drama for me, family drama for AAB, a wedding in AAB’s family which meant meeting a whole lot of his family, and having to tear apart bedrooms and cupboards to clean them for new renters. When I finally had a whole day off, I just laid in bed until after 1pm. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t play on my phone, I just laid there with Bowser Kitten and did nothing. Then, after a shower, I watched Netflix and laid on the couch the rest of the day. For dinner, I ordered Chinese food so I wouldn’t have to cook or move. When I tried to move, it took every ounce of strength for me to do so. I was just done with everything. THAT is the only time I can fully relax when the stress has taken hold in such an extreme way that having nothing on my calendar just destroys all motivation to even move.

4. Hitting 10,000 Steps A Day

I walk everywhere. Some days, it’s just to and from work. Others, it’s all over the damn city while I run errands. I try to keep my phone on me at all times since my step counter is on my phone. Most of the time, it just doesn’t work like that.

Most days, I probably am hitting that 10,000 steps mark, or coming close to it. Problem is, I’m not totally tracking it. I leave my phone on my desk while I’m running around the house getting stuff done. One day I threw it in my sweatpants pocket while I cleaned, and I hit just over 2,500 steps. That was just from cleaning, too. On laundry day, I can add another 300-400 steps to my day. Running to the store, or running out to grab a coffee, or running to my coworker’s place for a few minutes can add another 1,500 steps.  But instead I throw my phone on the desk next to my computer, and none of this gets logged. When I look at my steps counter for the week, or for the month, I’m 10s of thousands of steps short.

But they’re there somewhere. Maybe. Possibly. We’ll never know (unless somehow I find the money for one of those FitBit things someday).

5. Watching New Things

I’ve watched Daria in its entirety about a dozen times so far. Same goes for old episodes of the Simpsons. I have a collection of 90’s movies I love that I’ve seen a hundred times over. And I’ve seen the first two seasons of Twin Peaks 5 or 6 times now.

I just can’t get myself to watch that new third season. I have a few dozen shows and movies in my Netflix list that I’ve never seen before, but I still throw on old episodes of anything with Gordon Ramsay in it when I come home from work.

I just can’t sit down and focus on new shows sometimes. Maybe it’s the whole Multitasking Relaxing thing. With things I’ve already seen, I know basically what’s going to happen. I don’t need to pay close attention. I can do four things at once and still enjoy it. But something new required focus, it required paying attention, it requires putting down my book and my phone and the tablet and engrossing myself in the new thing. It’s something I just can’t get into most days.

Being bad at these things isn’t a bad thing. I love admitting that I’m bad at things. I love finding more things I’m just awful at. There are a lot of things I’m good at, and I discover new things all the time. Knowing and admitting what I’m bad at helps me find new things that I’m good at.

YouTube Can Be Our Saving Grace

Miel Bredouw is a comedic goddess. She’s also freaking brilliant in understanding something that we all keep seeming to forget to use to our advantage: there are YouTube tutorials out there for everything. Ok, so she was focused on make-up tutorials, but we can work with that. Because everything can be learned, somehow.

As Miel says, we knew sweet dick all about make-up when we were young. I can still remember my grandma throwing away a concealer because it was kinda orange, I took it from her in 7th grade. For like 6 months, I covered up my pimples with these weird orange dots of concealer. People would point them out to me, and I had no clue why they could see them. I mean, it was concealer. Shouldn’t it just conceal stuff? I had no clue that I had to match it to my skin tone.

I spent the better part of high school with either a grey or black line all the way around my eyes. I knew that eyeliner was a thing and that it lined my eyes. I had no clue how to make it look right, so I just threw on these big circles of liner until my eyelids disappeared.

As a young adult, the height of style was Christina Aguilera and her leather chaps. I was also spending a lot of time in goth bars around that time and now refer to that period as my “dark days”. Christina had the whole ‘6 hairs constitutes one eyebrow’ thing going on, and I went with it too. To this day, my eyebrows have never fully grown back.

I was a mess for a good 10 years at least when it came to make-up. But I wasn’t alone. We all were back then. Most of our makeup skills came from working with whatever was on clearance at the drug store and using it to copy looks from ads in Seventeen Magazine.

Oooh, Tyra Banks looks so good with the but of purple eyeshadow. Let’s recreate that look, but since I don’t have purple I’ll use this metallic shimmery seafoam green and up it right up to my eyebrows!

Today, kids don’t have that problem. I see 19-year-olds coming into my work with perfect winged liner, the most amazing eyebrows, and contour that would stop a Kardashian in their tracks. It’s like they’ve all skipped that awkward ‘blue eyeshadow with no mascara’ phase and jumped right into life as a makeup artist.  And how the hell are they doing that?

YouTube tutorials.

You can look up any look you’re going for online and learn to recreate it step by step. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a complex Halloween makeup lesson, how to do the perfect winged eyeliner or just the basics of how to apply your foundation. There is a YouTube tutorial for everything. Can’t find what you’re looking for on YouTube somehow? There’s still WikiHow, LifeHacks, and dozens of websites like this that you can fall back on. And when in doubt, there “the Googles” as my mother calls it.

So the always funny and brilliant Miel touched on something that a shit-tonne of people don’t realize. Yes, we can use the internet to learn to make our eyeliner fierce as fuck. But why stop there? I did a course through a local business on Microsoft Word and Excel. I learned how to do mail merges and make pretty spreadsheets and graphs and shit. That was a few years ago, and my skills have become rusty. I had to go for testing on these programs for a job interview last month. Not only am I rusty, but they use a newer version than I was trained on. YouTube to the rescue! As much as people bitch about the Millenials (and the Xennials, and whatever the hell youngins are being called this day and age in their generation), anyone who was raised with a computer in their home as a child or teen has one gigantic leg up on the older generations.

We have Rapid Skill Aquisition.

If there is something we don’t know how to do, we know how to learn how to do it. I don’t know about you, but I live for online education. My workplace has an online portal for our work training, and there are dozens of courses available to us to take at our “leisure”. I’ve freakin done a bunch of them! For fun one day, I did a course on addiction. It’s something that’s interested me for a long time: addiction, the culture surrounding it, ways to help those battling it. I may not make a career out of it, but with what I’ve learned through this course I was able to get into some free online courses on sites like Coursera on addiction. Maybe I’ll go volunteer somewhere with this knowledge. Maybe it will help me at work, considering I do have to interact with dozens and dozens of addicts some days. Who knows what I’ll do with it!

And there’s more. Need to know how to make a spreadsheet? Turn a spreadsheet into charts and graphs? Charley in accounting thinks you’re useless because he’s been using Excel for like 13 years and you’re just some young new thing in the office? There are YouTube tutorials for that! Hell, WikiHow will walk you through step by step how to do things. I have known dozens of 50+ people in higher-up positions who had no clue how to do this. They were always shocked at how their young employees could figure out how to do pretty much anything they were asked, whether it was photo editing or mail merges.

Now, I’m not knocking formal education here. But that shit is expensive, and the debt from it follows you. The skills I learned in my degrees and certificate were more along the lines of “here’s how to think critically and problem solve”. The actual skills I need for a job in my field, like Microsoft Office training and learning how to take more professional looking photos, are things that I have been expected to teach myself. Unless you took something like Communications or Film, you probably didn’t get a whole lot of training in things like video editing.

Social media itself is something that most schools don’t have classes on but is a huge plus to have experience in when it comes to the workplace. More and more companies are getting things like Twitter, and things can either be amazingly brilliant or bomb spectacularly. I mean, if you want to talk brilliant social media campaigning, then look no further than Denny’s. I follow them on Tumblr of all places, just for fun. There isn’t even a Denny’s in my city! They have that perfect mix of professional and bizarre that Tumblr caters to, and they know it. There are so many fails out there, though. Anything from a stupid tweet to a bad hashtag campaign can ruin a business, and companies are looking for people to run this stuff who don’t still type with just two fingers like my dad does.

There is so much out there that we’re able to learn with just a few mouse clicks and a bit of typing. Take full advantage of this the best you can. Want to spend the day on the internet just reading memes? Spend half an hour learning something new for a program you already use first. Bored feel like watching random YouTube videos for a bit? Start with something educational. In a writing slump and need to write just about anything to get out of it? Check out sites like WikiHow to see if they need articles about anything you know how to do.

Sometimes just learning a little bit extra can be the difference between a job you love and a job you spend every day wishing you could escape. Don’t let yourself be limited by what you’ve formally learned, Sunshine. Go that little extra bit. Learn something new online.

Job Scams: Just One More THings Screwing With Your Job Search

My name is Crystal Coates am an Human Resource Manager at Complete Technical Solutions. We have a job offer for you.

You are happy to greet you.

Complete Technical Solutions provides enterprise-grade IT support for small and midsize businesses. We help your company get more IT bang for your business buck, tackling network and application issues and resolving user woes all while minimizing outages and driving your IT budget down. Complete Technical Solutions is a well established company providing a wide-ranging(and growing) portfolio of services. Clients approach us with many objectives: to evaluate and improve their existing infrastructure, optimise information flow and reduce the hassle of daily activity, outsource their IT support and take advantage of the Internet-based technologies which are transforming the way we all do business. Bottom line: Complete Technical Solutions makes sure that your IT works for your business and not the other way around.

We got your resume from the website: www.workopolis.com We are looking for responsible and reliable people to expand our personnel. Currently we have an open 3 position of an Online Service Manager.

What does an Online Service Manager has to do?

Online service manager performs tasks in the Internet similar to ones performed by customer service representatives. However, as managers, they also supervise other client service representatives. In general, representatives work to ensure clients’ satisfaction with organization’s products and services. They are often the primar point of contact for a client or customer. Their job assignments include directing and controlling the process and fulfilment of orders, fielding customer inquiries, and resolving customer complaints.

If you are interested in this position and you are ready to become a successful manager with the opportunity for career growth together with Complete Technical Solutions, please reply this mail and we will begin your employment.

If you are not interested, please let us know also, and we will not bother you again.

This gem popped up in my inbox this morning. Now, I have three different email addresses, and I can check all three automatically from my main Gmail account. There’s my social media account, my university account, and my professional sounding Gmail account I use for everything from resumes to bills to online shopping. Yes, I use the professional account on my resumes, and for all my job search related emails.  The only time I ever used any of the other accounts was in University when I had to use my university account for my positions through the university.  Every single resume, job search site, employment seminar, and online class uses my professional address.

This showed up addressed to my university address.

That right there is the first red flag. In fact, this is a HUGE red flag! If this red flag got any bigger, it could blanket this entire county. If you have multiple email accounts, and you get any sort of job search related email in an account you never use for job hunting, it’s 99.999% most likely a scam.

It’s a pretty shitty thing, but the number of online scams for job hunters is on the rise. There have always been scammers out there, but their schtick was so old it’s was easy to identify. Back before I had my own personal computer, I remember looking at the old “stuff envelopes from home” thing, where you paid a “low low one-time fee” of something like $69.95 to get a list of work from home jobs. From there, you could contact each of these jobs, most of whom made you pay a “low low one-time fee” of anything from $10 to $500 for materials and training. They claimed you would be reimbursed once you proved you were willing to work for them. They only collected money because there were too many people out there who would send away for the materials and then do nothing with them. They were losing millions, they claimed, and needed to protect themselves from us work-from-home scammers.

Boo-freakin-hoo.

These scams have always been around because people who need money to survive sometimes become a bit desperate. They tell people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to work or make a living that they can work from their home. Working mothers, the elderly, disabled, and people with other issues or responsibilities that keep them in their home were told that they would be able to earn a decent living. Students were told they could work around their schedules to earn money. All they had to do was pay a little bit up front and they could earn all they needed.

Of course, it was all lies. I knew someone way back in the day, before I was so ridiculously old, who fell for one of those ‘stuff envelopes from home’ scams. He got an envelope in the mail, with flyers and lists for all these work from home jobs.  He shelled out $19.95 for a list of work from home jobs, to start with. The list had all sorts of jobs listed: assembling jewelry, assembling small toys, stuffing envelopes, telemarketing from home, things like that. He then had to pay $79.95 as a “material fee” for a box of envelopes and boxes of flyers. The information he got from the company said that he could make “up to $45 an envelope”.  They claimed he could afford to quit his job and stuff envelopes professionally in a few months.

How?

Well it turns out he would get a base fee of $25 for every 200 envelopes he stuffed. That means he would have to stuff 16,000 envelopes a month to make $2,000 before taxes. $24,000 a year before taxes, for stuffing roughly 550 envelopes a day. BUT he could earn more. If someone received his envelope, was interested in the information in the envelope, and ‘responded in a positive manner’, he would receive a $45 commission as a ‘finders fee’.

So what was in the envelopes?

They were the envelope he got in the mail. The one he read, and then sent away for more info for the initial $19.95. It turns out, every time someone sent away for the list of work from home jobs, and then signed up for one of those jobs and sent them a “material fee”, he would get his $45.  The thing is, we were all constantly getting those letters. I would get 6 or 7 a month.  All of my friends did. Out of dozens and dozens of us who knew this guy, he was the only one who sent away for anything. The chances of him getting people to not only send away for the list but then send away for materials was slim to none. He would have to work roughly 12 hours a day, to live below the poverty line. Their whole “you can quit your job” line was based on you getting 50% of the people you send envelopes to every month to send in that money. The real rate of return on that was actually less than 1%, we later found out.

This scam is still out there today, but online. And with the ever changing nature of the internet, scams are evolving too. Some of them are a little too slick, a little too convincing. Some of them are a little too hard to detect at first. You’re not getting the standard “send us money, we’ll send you stuff to make money with” bullshit from the past.

So how do you avoid becoming a victim of these scams? And how do you identify them?

Do they offer you way too much money for simple tasks? 

The job offer from above emailed me again, with more “details” from the job.

Emрlоymеnt: Full/Pаrt timе:

1.Sаlаry: $1340/$670 per week
2.Wоrкing hоurs: 40/20 hоurs wеекly
3.Working hours (full time position): 9 AM – 5 PM.
4.Payment will be sent to your bank account weekly directly via Interac e-transfer. Payable at regular every Friday at 6 pm.

If you choose position of Part Time, you need to work at least 4 hours a day, it is advisable to start the morning.

So working 20 hours a week earns you $670 to “keep in touch with customers and clients”. They claim you would be answering emails and online chat requests, and you’d be working directly from a script. So they’re willing to pay you $33.50 AN HOUR to answer a few emails. Doesn’t that seem just a little bit ridiculously high?

Usually, if you’re going to make a ridiculously high wage like that, you’ve either worked your way up in the company to a very high position, or your daddy is the CEO and just handed you the job to keep the business in the family. No one is going to send out random emails to prospective employees and offer them that kind of wage. No one out there offers this as a starting wage for customer service. No one.

So you received an email with a job offer. What email address did it come from?

Companies pay good money for their domain names. Big companies aren’t going to have email addresses from Yahoo or Hotmail. The emails with come from addresses like FirstnameLastname@company.com. If Amazon were to email you a job offer, for example, the offer would come from someone directly at Amazon. You would be able to Google them, and get their contact information through their website. If Jane Doe is the head of the HR department, you would get an email address from JaneDoe@amazon.com or something like that. You would be able to Google “Jane Doe Amazon HR Department” and come up with information and contact information about her.

You would NEVER get an email from JaneDoe_AmazonEmployment@gmail.com or AmazonEmploymentRelations@yahoo.com. If a company has a website (which pretty much every company existing today does), then it has a professional email address. They’re not going to give everyone a professional email address except the person in charge of hiring new employees.

They’re also not going to have ridiculously long email addresses that seem to have been randomly thrown together. JaneDoeHRdeptcdhm@yahoo.cdhm.gime.uk emailing to offer you a job with a local company is about 200% fake. If an email address looks like it was thrown together randomly from a box of alphabet soup, it’s bullshit.

And don’t be fooled by how professional an email looks. Templates can be copied, logos can be stolen or faked. Just because someone knows what the Amazon logo looks like, or knows how to make an email look super pretty, doesn’t mean they are offering you something real.

What does their website look like?

Ok, I honestly think that “how to spot a fake website” should be a mandatory course, not just taught to students but taught to EVERYONE!!!! I swear, if I have to see one more post on Facebook saying that McDonald’s/WalMart/Tim Horton’s is giving away free $1,000 gift cards to anyone who signs up on their linked website, I’m going scream. Every single one of those websites fails the very first thing you should be checking for a website: their web address looks totally and completely bogus.

If Burger King is emailing you a link, that link should be http://www.burgerking.com/whateverelsefollowsthat. The important part is that little space between “www.” and “.com”. If it’s Burger King sending that email, it’s Burger King you should expect to see in that link. If their web address has anything like “www.wxyz.burger.hamburger.king.zyxw.com”, then run screaming into the night. Run hard, run fast, run far away.

But what if the web address looks legit?

Well, what does the website look like?

A real business website will have certain information on it: email, phone number, business address, prices for services, etc. If something is a scam, then it’s going to be missing a lot of these things. Let’s take the company that emailed me earlier today. In their follow-up email, they gave me their website to take a look at. Go ahead and take a look through the website. The home page has almost no information on it, other than a phone number. There’s no info about their staff, their CEO, the extent of their services. They don’t even have a mission statement or a picture of the big boss.

If a company doesn’t have a picture of at least one of the big bosses (CEO, CFO, founder, site manager, etc) you know there’s something up. These guys LOVE having everyone know that they are responsible for the company’s success. Hell, the website above doesn’t name a single employee!

Can you go through the website and tell me what services the company provides? Not just a basic list of the services. Can you look at the website and tell me details about the services? How much they cost? What exactly they include?Scams don’t go so far as to cover this on their sites. They want to throw together as professional looking a website as they can in a very short period of time.

I’ve never heard of this company before.

Google. Google is your friend. Google will help you find out things you need about a company.

So if you type the company name into Google, what comes up? If you Google a company, you should come up with a whole shit-tonne of information. Just for fun, I Googled the company I worked at before I went to university. It’s a small business, one location, that services and distributes equipment for a few big photocopier and postage meter businesses.  And you know what? There are dozens of results that pop up when I search them. There’s their website, job ads, customer reviews, former employee reviews, and all sorts of random bits of information about the company.

Now, do you know what came up when I Googled the company that sent me that email? Absolutely nothing. Their website didn’t come up, no reviews came up, nothing.  The only time I got results was when I Googled their name plus the word “scam” attached to it.

Did they outright offer you a job in their email?

No phone call. No interview. No back-and-forth emails. There was no cat and mouse to it. Just opened your email and *BAM* there’s a job offer.

Ya, that’s a scam. They don’t know anything about you. They don’t know if you’re qualified for their position. Hell, to be honest, there probably isn’t even a position!

Did they ask you for any details to get payroll moving, or to do a background check?

NEVER give out your social insurance/security number out to random people online. NEVER!!! The same thing goes for banking info, credit card details, or anything else that could be used to “look into” your identity.  This ain’t rocket surgery. If someone came to your door and said, “Hi, can I have your social insurance number? I want to do a background check on you”, would you give it to them? The Same logic applies online.

Wait, did you even apply for this job?

I’ve lost track of the number of jobs I’ve been offered that I haven’t applied for. Most of them say that they found my resume on Workopolis or Monster.ca. The thing is, I don’t have resumes posted on either of those sites. So how did they find me?

I had a local company message me once saying that I was “ideal” for a position with their company. They started telling me about the position, and it was nothing at all what I was looking for. It was strictly commissioned sales in insurance, which would mean no guarantee of a paycheck. It was also mainly based out in the country, well beyond any bus routes. I don’t have a car and take the bus everywhere. I searched online for the company and found out that the “recruiter” jobs are the most lucrative. Basically, they hire people to send out mass messages to “prospective employees”, and they get a commission for every employee they sign up. Then they get a commission for every sale that employee makes. It’s the very definition of “pyramid scheme”.

If you didn’t actually apply for that job, or they say they found your resume through a means you don’t even use (online postings, temp agencies you don’t use, an unnamed “friend” who supposedly passed your info along), then ignore it.

Do they want you to move money around for them?

This one is classic. They give you a check for $1,000. They tell you to deposit the check into your bank account. $250 is yours to keep. You then have to send the other $750 to their business contact. The only reason you’re sending it and not them, they claim, is something like “tax purposes” or some other financial reason. What came to be known as the “Nigerian Prince” scheme was basically the same thing: he gives you a check he can’t cash for “political reasons”, you cash it and keep 10%, and send the rest to his sister/mother/wife to help him escape his country.

Don’t bother. That check is going to bounce, and you’ll be on the hook for whatever money you sent their contact. They’ll disappear, you won’t be able to contact them, and you’ll never get your money back. Oh, and the money they told you to keep will be gone too since the check bounced.

Ok, but what if they just want you to buy something to do the job with?

I’ve had to pay for stuff to do my job before. I bought a special uniform shirt at my current job that I’m allowed to wear on Fridays. I’ve had to pay for uniforms at my old fast food jobs. But that special Friday shirt wasn’t mandatory. And my uniforms came out of my paychecks.

A real job will never tell you “you’re hired, just send us $189.99 for software to get you started”. If they really wanted you to start working, they would just give you the software to start with, and take it out of your pay somehow. They would make sure you had what you needed, were comfortable using it, and were able to do your job well enough to receive regular paychecks. If they want you to pay up-front for whatever reason, they’re just looking to take your money. You’re not getting it back. You’re not going to get paid. Run.

Does the email actually make any sense?

I know we can’t all write with perfect grammar and spelling all the time. But professional emails should be like 99% perfect. MOst of the scam emails I’ve gotten over the years sound like they were written by a 9-year-old who just discovered the Thesaurus feature in Word. Sometimes it’s really big words when a smaller one would be better and make no sense. Other times it’s a ridiculous amount of misspelled words. Most often, it’s sentence structure that makes little to no sense. Like, it just seems wrong and off.

You should check your email constantly throughout the day and quickly response to my messages,
because I’m your manager and I have a few people in this position and I communicate via e-mail only.
I am your mentor, I am interested in your success as well as you when you go through the trial period.
So i need you to connect your phone to Internet connection to receive my messages without delays.

This is exactly what that company from before sent me about my “duties” in the position”. Like, exactly. Spacing, wording, everything. See the weird sentence structure, the odd times to start a new line, and strange wording? Huge red flag!

This shit just makes no sense at all. What the hell would I be doing?

This is the one I have the most fun with. You see, I like to email these people back and string them along like I’m actually going to fall for their scam. I think I get that from my dad. He’s the only man I know who has multiple checks from different “Nigerian Prince” scams in a file at home because he was bored and answered their emails. I emailed that company back, asked what the job entails. Then I emailed again, asking what the job entails. They’ve gone so far as to send me a ridiculously vague Labour Agreement for me to sign and email back to them. They haven’t told me what the damn job is yet though.

All they’ve said is I would be in constant contact with the manager and would have to constantly check my email. That’s it. They’ll pay me $33.50 an hour to check my email and “perform tasks”. They haven’t said what those tasks are at all. I mean, tasks is a pretty broad term. Would I be transcribing record? Raising goats? Arranging travel for foreign dignitaries? Sending out my own scam emails claiming to be a manager for some reason? No clue! They haven’t said a damn thing!

REAL job offer would tell you what the job entails. They want to make sure you’re the right fit for the job before you start. I mean, if they’re going to pay you to work, they want to make sure you can fucking work, right? No company would go through the trouble of performing a mass job search, hiring a candidate, training them, and paying them just to find out they can’t actually perform their job and they need to be fired.

 

Well Sunshine, that’s the basics there. In the end, you really need to trust your gut. Does the offer seem too good to be true? Does it seem off to you? Does it give you that weird feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you’re walking home alone at night and hear footsteps behind you somewhere? Don’t fall for it then.

Hope your day is bright and shiny!

The Failed GrownUp’s Guide to Not Being a Complete And Total Ass Waffle of a Roommate

Well, here in my little University town, it is officially move in day for the residence students. That means that not only is campus flooded with new students and their folks, but the 7-11 I go to every freakin Sunday for my junk food meal of chicken wings and a corn dog is going to be beyond packed and utterly destroyed. That also means that Casa del Failure is packed again.

Once again it’s me, your favourite failure, with my precious Bowser Kitten and the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend taking care of the place. I do most of the general cleaning int he common areas and small repairs; AAB does all the yard work, the really dirty work, and scrubs out rooms when people move out; and Bowser Kitten is in charge of pest control. We have our quirky and quite strange roommate A, who failed to learn how a slow cooker works in his 46 years on this planet (at least I think he’s from this planet), on the main floor with us. In the basement is our young student C, who Bowser absolutely adores right now, taking up the most recently vacated room. And our newest addition is a recent masters graduate we’ll call J, whose girlfriend was my next-door neighbour and babysitting charge more than 15 years ago in a whole other city.

Yes, once again I am living in a house full of dudes. This is a two ovary household still.

So far, things don’t seem too bad. The only real problem we had was with the people moving OUT of rooms. Over the years that I’ve been here, our basement has become quite the collection of randomness that people seem to think I either want or have a burning desire to get rid of for them. Seriously, our little storage area in the basement (which is really just a wide open area when you first come down the stairs with no organizational structure at all) is beyond filed, with things spilling out into the basement common area (where we keep the really really comfy couch).

 

Yes, that is a random tire, a whole bunch of styrofoam, an old broken fan, and a box of old used beer pitchers.  Seriously, what the hell do people think I’m going to do with this crap? It’s not like they left it behind and said, “I don’t have access to a truck to haul this off to the dump. Can I leave it here so you can take it the next time you go?”. They just left it behind in a big pile down there. And that’s not all that’s been left behind over the years, either.

 

That right there is most of a Christmas tree, a treadmill, a box of Christmas lights (which I am actually keeping and putting up in the living room because the lighting sucks in there), and a box of Christmas ornaments. A few of those ornaments were made for the guy who left them here by his freakin son!  So now not only do I have to find a way to get all of this crap to the dump, I have to haul a fucking treadmill up the ridiculously awkward basement stairs!

It gets worse too, Sunshine. When AAB moved in here, the landlord cut a deal with him and paid him to clean out the rooms and bathroom in the basement. Why? Because the last tenant who lived down there (who left the tires, a box of wires and chords, and a few old alarm clocks) was a huge pig. It looked like he had tried to sweep before leaving, but just left piles of dirt and debris all over the bedroom floor. There were old McDonald’s bags from months before, random school papers everywhere, and the bathroom hadn’t been cleaned once in the year he was living down there. AAB spent days down there hauling up garbage, scrubbing layers of mold off the bathroom shower, and basically sanitizing the entire basement.

Sad thing is, this isn’t the first or last time this has happened.  The most recent dude to leave here left behind the tree, Christmas things, random end tables everywhere (who the hell has so many tables for no reason? I mean besides me now), and just garbage everywhere. And of course, no one can forget the guy who lived in my room before me who didn’t vacuum for more than a year. Even after vacuuming the carpet multiple times, I wound up having an allergic reaction to something that had been ground in there and was covered in hives for 94 days.

Yes, 94 fucking days of hives. In the middle of summer, when sweat made the hives worse.

Living in a house you don’t own doesn’t give you free reign to trash the place or disrespect the owners (or your roommates). There are so many simple, little things that you can do to avoid pissing off everyone and someday ending up on some random person’s blog as their Roommate From Hell. So, here for your reading pleasure, I give you…….

The Failed GrownUp’s Guide to Not Being a Complete And Total Ass Waffle of a Roommate

#1: Clean Up Your Fucking Messes

This doesn’t just mean “scrape the berries off the ceiling after you try to make a smoothie in a blender with no lid and cause a giant purple delicious explosion in the kitchen”. Did you use the kitchen counter? Then grab a rag, or a clean sponge, or one of those disinfectant wipes, and wipe the fucking thing down. Use dishes? Fucking wash them!

It’s not rocket surgery here, but it’s the one thing I hear the most complaints about from people I know who are living with roommates. There’s nothing worse than coming home at the end of a long day, wanting nothing more than to throw a bunch of shit into a pot on the stove and make random deliciousness, and finding out that every fucking pot in the damn house is dirty and sitting in the sink. What makes it even worse is when you realize you haven’t touched the pots in days, they were clean right after you used them, and it’s the same fucking roommate using up everything all the time and just leaving it for you to clean.

This isn’t just in the kitchen, either. I could’ve avoided 94 fucking days of hives if someone had just picked up a vacuum every now and then and ran it across the carpet. It’s not a huge room, it only takes a few minutes. Hell, I got a shitty little handheld vacuum with a hose attachment to spot vacuum when I need it in here!

Just generally, clean up after yourself. You know all the shit your parents always bitched at you for, like picking up your socks and not leaving wet towels on the floor? I mean that shit. Pick up things you drop on the floor. If you take stuff into a common area, unless there’s a specific place you can put it, take it with you when you leave. I’m fucking horrible for this, always have been. I’ll take a pile of books, papers, and pens and just leave it somewhere when I leave the room. It’s something I consciously try to avoid doing, though, because I don’t want to be an asshole.

#2: Unless You’re Actually Trying to Wake the Dead, Pipe the Fuck Down

The student life is fucking weird, and you keep the most bizarre hours sometimes. I can remember staying up for like 36 hours sorting through research once, taking a nap at like 10 am and then waking up at 2 pm to start writing for the next 5 hours. Between the classes, the class work, working a job or two, volunteering, clubs and societies, parties, and some semblance of a social life, you find yourself doing strange things like going to 7-11 at 3:30 am for coffee and a RockStar, and then going back again at 3:30 pm for the same thing. There is no one set schedule that all, or even most, students live on. That’s why it’s so damn important to pipe the fuck down.

If you have roommates, unless you’re sitting in the same room together right this very second, you don’t know if they’re sleeping. Or, at the very least, trying to sleep. I once had a roommate who had this big old tv in her room, which was right next to mine. She didn’t care if I worked late the night before, or was up all night writing papers. By 10 am her TV was on and cranked as loud as it would go. I could go downstairs to the living room, turn on the tv down there, and STILL hear her TV. I couldn’t sleep during the day in my own room, let alone take a quick nap unless I had hit the point of total exhaustion where I could sleep through anything.

I admit that I’ve been the loud and annoying roommate at times. Sometimes, if I know everyone is awake, I love to blast some tunes in the shower and sing along. And just so you know, the Bowser Kitten has a better singing voice than I do, and he’s a fucking cat. Still, I now try to do that only when I know everyone is awake and most (if not all) of them are out of the house.

You generally don’t know when someone is sleeping, or napping, or trying to concentrate. I’m not saying you have to tiptoe around the house as quiet as a fucking mime. Let’s be honest here, mime’s are fucking creepy and I would never tell you to act like one! Just be a little considerate. Keep your shows and music at a somewhat reasonable volume.

Why am I sounding more and more like my mother while I write this?

#3: Not Everyone Is Your New Bestie

I’m a pretty solitary person usually. I practice voluntary hermit-ism. If it wasn’t for AAB, I would only leave my room to go to work and take a shit. I’m not totally anti-social or anything. I mean, if I run into a roommate while we’re both in the kitchen or something, I’ll chit chat. I’ve had roommates before who I was friends with, and we would sit around at night and watch tv together. I’m not living here to make friends, though.

All those TV shows where random people live in close proximity to each other and instantly become inseparable best friends for life are a lie. A bold-faced, spit in your eye, slap you across the face, help you move into a new apartment while they fuck your girlfriend in the closet at your old place, LIE!  Living under the same roof does not instantly make you best friends.

My one roommate “A” is constantly trying to strike up a conversation with me. If I’m chilling in the kitchen, I’ll chit chat for a bit while I cook. That’s fine with me. But just a few minutes ago I was cleaning the basement out. I was picking up mattresses and throwing them into a pile, moving the junk people have left behind, and “A” came downstairs. So there I am, hoisting a mattress up over my head while trying to walk around piles of junk, and he just starts rambling on to me about something-or-other. Next thing I know, he’s trying to push mattresses around back into the spaces I was pulling them out of! While I’m pulling stuff out of a tight spot, he’s pushing against and just rambling on about random bullshit.

I know, he’s lonely. He’s always trying to talk to anyone within earshot around here. I’ve taken to hiding when I hear his door open sometimes. It’s just annoying. Like, I just wanted to throw some old mattresses around and check all the Christmas lights that were down there in total peace. It’s my procrastination from writing. I clear my mind, blow off some steam, and lift heavy things over my head for a bit. I didn’t need him undoing my work while rambling my fucking ear off.

Don’t think that everyone in your house will want to sit around and let you talk their ear off. I have had roommates that I grew to be good friends with, some that I actively hate, but most of them were just sorta here. We didn’t chat, or hang out, or go out anywhere together. Sure, we talked when we were in the same room. I can tell you a few things I learned about each of them, and we had some laughs. Hell, I had a roommate I never spoke to outside of our kitchen who I bonded with over a few very large bottles of red wine while we tried to learn about wine tasting in an effort to sound smart at networking events (we failed massively and wound up very hungover instead). He’s moved out since then, and we don’t keep in touch. It’s not a big deal, we’re just not friends.

When you’re renting with random people or people you don’t know very well, don’t try and force the friendship. You might wind up friends with some of them, you might not. It’s no big deal, you don’t have to be everyone’s friend.

And NEVER, under any circumstances, try to force a new roommate into a “fun-filled” night in with you and all your favourite things. A friend had a new roommate try this, and said roommate pitched a fit when my lactose-intolerant vegetarian friend wouldn’t sit around eating burgers and drinking milkshakes for hours during one of the busiest weeks before exams.

#4: Is That Yours? Then Why The Fuck Are You Using It?

Years ago I had to walk home in the pouring rain, and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of grabbing my biggest pot and making ALL the pasta for me and a friend. Like, we were walking in the freezing cold, rain soaking through our clothes, umbrella ripped to shreds from the wind, and all we could talk about was smothering pasta in butter and sopping up the butter with fresh hot bread. Pretty sure the rain was washing away massive amounts of drool. We finally get to my place, change out of our wet clothes, head to the kitchen to start cooking……. and all my pots are gone. I had four fucking pots, and they were ALL gone! A few minutes of snooping and we found all four of them, full of my roommate’s food, used up in the fridge.

This wasn’t the first time, or the last time, this particular roommate took my cookware. I’d come home from class and my stuff would just be gone. When I announced I was moving out, he actually had the nerve to try and hide some of my stuff from me! In the end, I did lose a few things in the move because of him. He grabbed stupid random shit (a toaster, a fan, frying pan, three plates and a bowl from a 4-person place setting) and locked it in his room for the week while he was out of town.  I couldn’t get them before I left.

If you’re my roommate and you ask me if you can borrow something, 99% of the time I’ll let you. I can’t help it, I’m Canadian to a fault and way too fucking nice to say ‘no’ to someone in need. All you have to do is ask. And I know a shit tonne of people who are the same way.

If you’re the one who needs to borrow something, don’t just reach for it unless you know you can use it. Don’t assume that just because your roommate doesn’t hoard their things in their bedroom, they’re fair game for everyone to use.  This kinda brings us to my last point for the day……

#5: Treat Everyone’s Shit As If It Was Your Shit

An old roommate had a bunch of roommates over the years in his house. Most of them were pretty chill, easy enough to live with. One turned out to be a disrespectful piece of shit who cost my friend and his landlord money over the time of this guy’s lease. Carpets had to be replaced because he never vacuumed them or cleaned up spills. He would burn cookware and just throw it back into the cupboard. He’d borrow a jacket or a sweater and just leave it somewhere random. He peeled paint off the walls, left food to rot on the counters, and even put holes in one of the walls. Nice enough guy, just a fucking nightmare to live with.

You’re paying money to live in someone else’s house. Don’t treat it like you’re Motley Cru and it’s a hotel room in 1986. It’s someone’s fucking property, their home. How would you feel if this was your place and someone treated it that way? Nevermind the anger from being disrespected, you’d probably be fucking pissed off about the money you’ve got to shell out for repairs!

If you borrow something from someone, treat it like it’s your own. Take care of it, wash it, give it back in one piece, and if something does happen to it then you damn well better replace it. Don’t treat your place and your roommate’s stuff like this is your personal playground.

 

All in all, if you want to not follow any of these tips, just remember one thing: someday you might need a reference. Most of the apartments in this area require AT LEAST one former landlord as a reference and more and more are asking for references from former roommates. So if you’re a giant dickwad to your roommates, lose and destroy their things, destroy the room you’re renting, and are just a horrible fucking human in general when it comes to renting, what are the chances anyone would want to give you a good reference?

Well Sunshine, the sun aint’ shining anymore today. I’m going to grab my sandwich and a glass of whiskey, throw on the comfy pants, and throw on a horror movie or three. Hope any of you moving for the start of the school year made it through the move safely, and without losing your shit (literally and figuratively).

Mental Health, Mental Help

 

This is the fourth time I’ve started this post in 13 hours. Woke up twice last night trying to figure out what to say. I spent years trying to ignore it or deny it. When I was younger and my symptoms first popped up (9th grade, right after I started at a new high school in a new city where I knew no one), I was made to feel like certain people wanted me to be sick because it made me wrong, and then they could laugh at my family because they had the weird little freak in high school.

During my lunch break, I would get this strange feeling. My heart would start racing and pounding like it was going to jump out of my chest and run down the hall. My breathing would get fast like I couldn’t get enough air in a regular breath so I switched to tiny micro-breaths. Sometimes I’d break out in a sweat, or I’d get too dizzy to stand. On more than one occasion I threw up in the bathroom by my locker. I went home on my lunch maybe 10 times by the middle of the semester.

I can still remember the very last time I dared to call home and have mum come pick me up. There was a full office staff, a few teachers on their spare periods, and maybe half a dozen students in the office with me that day for whatever reason. Mum came into the office to pick me up, and one of the secretaries pulled us aside where no one could hear us talk quietly. She suggested my mother have me speak to the school counsellor, and maybe get recommended to a therapist for a short time, because I appeared to be having some sort of issues with anxiety.

Well, mum was having none of that. She fucking exploded on that poor secretary, in front of everyone in that office.

“What do you MEAN she should see a counsellor? She was perfectly fine before I sent her to this school! How dare you tell me my daughter is some sort of freak! A psycho! Don’t you know what happens to people who see a therapist? They’re branded FOR LIFE as a crazy psycho! You want my daughter locked up in some NUT HOUSE for the rest of her life? Is that it? Have you seen her grades? She’s getting A’s in all her afternoon classes, could some FREAK do that? How DARE you tell me my daughter is damaged, how DARE you tell me my daughter is some sort of psycho FREAK!”

It’s been like 20 years since then, so that’s not exactly word for word, but you get the gist of it. She ranted like that for a good 5 or 6 minutes, referred to me as a freak more than a dozen times in front of a few of my classmates. The car ride home was a total joy! She ranted on even more, telling me that there was nothing wrong with me, that she couldn’t believe someone would think I’m some sort of psycho, that if I ever let myself see a therapist or psychiatrist they would just put me on meds and then no one would ever hire me because the whole world would just know I’m crazy. The rant went on even more once we got home!  I swear, that woman ranted on and on about this for a good two hours on and off that day.

After that day, I stopped telling my mother pretty much anything for many years. I made up some stupid story about a problem with the ventilation system in the hallway my locker was in, and that was why I got sick at school so much. It was the stupidest story, so totally obvious that I made it up on the spot, but she believed it. Hell, she still believes it. We saw an article about my old high school online, and she started telling people about the ‘ventilation problem’ and how it could’ve killed me. She was more willing to believe that the ventilation system in a newly built school was faulty in a way that only affected one student than helping me work through my issues.

So, for years I tried to ignore what was happening inside me. I beat myself up over things I couldn’t control. Instead of working to understand the racing heart and quick breaths, I locked myself away in my room so no one could see the panic. I did the same for the suicidal thoughts. The one time I did hurt myself and opened up to my mother, she flipped out on me again. She said that if I didn’t “cut it out and just act normal” no one would ever love me, I’d be shoved in an institution, and I’d die alone. Totally what you should say to a 16-year-old trying to deal with mental health issues, eh?

I tried to ignore all of this for years. I’d lock myself away from the world so they couldn’t see me struggle. I drank, I did a lot of drugs, I pushed myself to somehow be “normal” in the most fucked up ways. My parents were high school sweethearts who married and had three kids, for example. So, I thought if I found love early enough, I could be normal like them. But the forced isolation made it hard to meet people I could connect with, and I wound up engaged to a drumming ninja (he once put “ninja” on a job application as his current occupation), and got kicked out of my parents’ house to be with him. He treated me like shit, abused me, starved me, and burned the only copy of my first (and to date, only) novel I had written as punishment for something. But in my head, being with him made me “normal”, because…………. I don’t even know anymore.

It wasn’t until more than a decade after that first incident in the school office that I finally sought help. I had gone back to university, and the school had free counseling services. By that point, my anxiety and depressing were pretty bad, but I was still trying to cover them up. I wasn’t sleeping, I was eating like crap and chugging cheap malt liquor while I “studied”. Before a big panic attack, sometimes it feels like all my emotions drain into something deep inside my skin, where they can’t escape or be really felt. I feel this mix of heaviness and nothingness like I’m going to burst out of my skin and run ranting and screaming into the night. I stayed up for three days and finally passed out in our living room (I was living with friends near campus by that point), and rolled over on a pair of scissors in my sleep. The pain was some weird sort of release, and I started cutting myself right after that. It was the cutting that made me finally made me go to counseling services.

I wish I could tell you everything changed for me that day, that everything was magically fixed and I’m living a perfectly “normal” life like my mother wanted. That’s not how things go, though. I’m still fighting through this, learning how to handle both depression and anxiety. I’m learning the patterns they tend to follow (the depression gets bad right before or after a major panic attack usually) and am able to tell the people closest to me when I can feel my anxiety getting worse. I still don’t open up to my family about any of this, though. I tried to years ago, when I first sought help, and my mother denied everything I said. It’s healthier for me to just not tell them about any of this.

There is no magic cure for this. There is no one-way to deal with mental health issues. I’ve tried a lot of things over the years; some of them worked for me, others didn’t. That doesn’t mean those other things don’t work for other people, though. Going back to school brought out some huge stressors and triggers for my anxiety, and a lot of people I know who suffer through this have said the same thing. So, I just want to give you a little help, a little guidance. You don’t need to follow everything I say, or even try any of it. It’s just options, things to keep in mind when nothing else seems to work.

It’s not easy dealing with this shit. I still get panic attacks. The night I started posting about back-to-school help was because I was trying to work through a major panic attack that kept me up until almost 5 am, drained me of all my energy, and left me with a dark cloud over my head that made me wish I could just stop existing. I’m pulling through though, and I know you can too Sunshine.

Tip #1: Grounding

A friend recommended this to me years ago. It’s what she would do when she was living in a dorm and her anxiety would get bad around exam time. Basically, you’re distracting your brain from the inevitable overanalyzing of the ridiculousness of your panic. In my support group back in school, one thing we all agreed on was that our anxiety attacks made no sense to us. It’s like, there’s no reason for you to be panicking, but you still can’t seem to calm yourself down. You try to calm down, and you’re reminded that the fact that you’re panicking makes no sense, so there must be something wrong with you to be making you panic. And that makes you panic more. The more you try to calm yourself down, the more focused you wind up on the panic, and the worse it can get.

Anxiety Grounding.jpg

I know it says right in the little picture thingy there from Tumblr that it helps “when you feel like you have lost all control of your surroundings”. If you get that feeling in your more panicked times, then you can definitely give this a try. I don’t get that feeling, but this still works for me for other reasons.  That kind of leads me into my next tip….

Tip #2: There Is No “Right” Way to Be Have a Mental Issue

Sometimes having anxiety can mean heart palpitations and sweat. Other times, it can mean completely blocking out the outside world, staring off into space, unable to process the things going on around you. Some feel frightened, some are jittery, people get tense or worried or can’t focus on anything else except that anxious feeling bubbling up inside them.  Some of the happiest looking people suffer from depression. It’s not all locking yourself in a dark room and staring off into the nothingness around you. As a master of the Customer Service Persona, I can honestly tell you that it is entirely possible to feel hopeless and worthless like your entire life is one giant failure after another, like the world would be a much better place if you could just stop existing in it, and still slap a smile on your face and laugh about things. I mean, Robin fucking Williams suffered from depression. That man, to all outside appearances, was the exact opposite of depression.

There’s no right or wrong way to have anxiety, or a panic attack, or a depressive episode, or any form of depression in general. I check WebMD for a lot of things (even though somehow, no matter what’s wrong with me, it tells me I’m dying a slow and painful death). According to them, a panic attack should last like 10 minutes, and I should have fear of dying and a sense that I’m choking. I have NEVER had any of that. That panic, that feeling of terror, like my heart is going to burst out of my chest and the world is going to collapse around me, it can last for hours for me.

There is a tonne of different things associated with each and every mental issue out there. You don’t have to tick off every symptom or every box to have a “proper” mental disorder. You don’t have to take medication or see a therapist or psychiatrist long term to have a “proper” mental disorder. You can have the same issue as someone else, have different symptoms, handle it differently, and you can both STILL have that disorder. There is no one way to have an issue with your mental health.

Tip #3:  Regularly Practice Self-Care

I have a list of things that I consider “comfort things”. They’re things that I somehow find soothing, for whatever reason, and I fall back on when my brain starts to feel all fucky. They’re things that comfort me, that bring me to a place where I feel safe and secure, even if that place is just in my head. And the list is all over the fucking place.

  • soup
  • Vine compilations on YouTube
  • the movie Hackers
  • the movie Tank Girl
  • books about serial killers
  • books about cults
  • books about random facts
  • hugging my snuggle pillow
  • flannel
  • slipper boots
  • throwing a blanket over my head while I watch random shit on my computer so it’s like I’m watching it in a tiny blanket fort
  • painting my nails in dark colours
  • 90’s grunge music
  • 80’s new wave music
  • indie music from the 80’s and 90’s
  • Chilean red wine
  • fuzzy socks and lots of lotion

Now I don’t use all of this at the same time. I’ll throw on my slipper boots, maybe a flannel shirt or sleep pants, throw a blanket over my head, and watch a few short Vine compilations while I hug my snuggle pillow.  Or I’ll throw on a bunch of lotion and my fuzzy socks, paint my nails, and watch Tank Girl. I’ll throw on some Talk Talk and Psychedelic Furs in the background while I curl up with a good book about serial killers.

Everyone has their own little comfort things. You need to figure out what it is that is comforting to you. I doubt Charles Manson and Tank Girl will bring most of you much comfort, but it works for me.

Tip #4: Exercise, Get The Fuck Outside

I walk everywhere.

If I don’t get out of the house for a day, I make sure to at least open the blinds for a bit. The cat likes to sit in the window so I tell myself I’m doing it for him, when really just getting a little bit of sunlight can really help me some days.  If it’s nice enough out, I’ll open the window and let in some fresh air.

When I’m in mid panic attack, I completely close myself off in my room as much as possible. But when I’m not, I try to get outside at least a bit each day. I really should be exercising more, but I don’t. It really helps some people manage their mental health issues, and I know it’s helped me in the past. I have too much going on around me right now to focus on that though.

#5: Don’t Eat Like Complete Shit

Again, this is something I’m complete shit at. I have my good weeks, where I’m packing celery and carrots with me at work, and sipping tea all day. Then I have my days (or weeks even) where it’s nothing but pizza, french fries, and red wine.

Usually, the more hours I work in a week, the better I eat. If I have to pack a lunch or dinner to bring to work, I wind up with shit like veggies and hummus, soup, and mushroom meat (I also eat less meat and eat shit like “mushroom meat”, which is faux meat made out of mushrooms and soy, which I can only find at the Multifoods a little ways from my house). If I’m stuck at home, working 4-hour closing shifts every fucking day, I wind up eating a lot of frozen pizza for dinner, a lot of leftover pizza for lunch, and a pot of coffee for breakfast. This is usually when my anxiety starts to flare up a bit too.

For a lot of pizza, there’s a strong correlation between what you eat and how you feel. Eat like shit, feel like shit, basically. If you find that eating certain foods, or eating a certain way, worsens your mental state, then don’t fucking eat like that if you can help it! I know, that’s pretty fucking hypocritical of me to say, considering how I eat usually. This isn’t the easiest advice to follow, and no one is going to be perfect at it. Give it a whirl and see if it helps you out at all, though. Keep a food diary or something for a few weeks or months. No need to count calories or any shit like that. Just keep track of what you eat, what you drink, and how you feel.  If you see a pattern emerging, then fucking run with it.

#6: Stop Fucking Self-Medicating!

Again, fucking hypocritical of me to say this, considering how much wine I drink. I admit, there have been times when I could feel a panic attack coming on, and I reached for a drink. Working in a liquor store, I have constant easy access to alcohol and have to learn about it somehow. So, probably more often when I should when I feel the panic building, I grab a bottle of Chilean cabernet sauvignon, my book about wine (flavours, pairings, smart sounding shit), and curl up with a giant fucking glass or four.  Sometimes it calms me down a bit. Other times, I wind up still awake and drinking wine at 4 am, mindlessly reading through Not Always Right posts and going through old notebooks from 2003.

I’ve had friends who swear by smoking pot as a means of controlling their anxiety. Others have had a hard time controling it, using the anxiety more as an excuse to smoke than anything. I’ve known people to buy medication off the street instead of getting it prescribed. Yes, it’s a great way to get it cheap when you can’t afford your meds sometimes. But you’re playing with doses, and brain chemicals, and all sorts of stuff that can royally fuck your day up.

Don’t use substances that aren’t prescribed to you as a means of controlling your mental health. Yes, a drink or smoke from time to time can be fine. It’s a social thing, a way to calm you, a way to feel normal. But you can really easily start becoming dependant on these things just to feel normal. It’s a short fall into addiction when you let something be the only things making you feel “normal””.

#7: Find Your Fucking Triggers

I know, triggers are a joke to a lot of people. “How are you going to make it through life? There are no trigger warnings in the real world!” Except there are, fucking everywhere. Movie ratings, video game ratings, music ratings, content warnings on TV, allergen warnings on food, warning signs on the road, warning signs on heavy equipment, warning labels on medication……… The only difference between these and a trigger for mental health is that mental health isn’t always taken seriously. You can take a sick day for the flu, or for a broken leg, but most jobs and schools don’t give you mental health days.

Are there certain things that trigger certain feelings in you? No, you can’t avoid them completely, you can’t yell at people for bringing them up (unless they’re really fucked up shit and that person knows how it affects you), and you can’t hide from them for the rest of your life. One of my biggest triggers is finance. I’ve got a metric shit-tonne of student loan debt, a bunch of credit card debt, and feel like I’m going to die in debt someday. The thought of not making my bill payments sends my heart racing, more than it does for the average person. I know that when my hours at work take a drastic cut, there’s a good chance I’ll get thrown into a full-out panic attack at some point.  I can’t avoid that though.

Know your triggers can help you better prepare. Like I said, I KNOW that getting my hours cut can result in a massive-ass panic attack, which then leads to a depressive episode. I make sure I have some of my comfort items ready and waiting for me. I recently went from getting 40 hours a week at work to being scheduled for 15 hours. I know that by next pay day, I will most likely get thrown into a major case of anxiety. I have my soup stuff (powdered mix, noodles, and dried veggies from Bulk Barn), a 10 hour Vine compilation video, a new nail polish, some new murder books, a bunch of flannel ( I am Canadian after all),  and a copy of Tank Girl ready for that. No, I won’t be able to stop a panic attack. But I can help ease my way through it, or through a major anxiety episode.

 

I wish I could say that following all of this has somehow cured my mental state magically, Sunshine. I wish I could say that I’m a happy, mentally healthy, productive member of society now. I’d be lying to you though. Just today, I got so overwhelmed with my current situation (so many roommates, showing the house to prospective other roommates, hours cut at work, things with the boyfriend) that it started really getting to me. I sat there wondering what the hell would happen to this place if I just ceased to exist. Where would my Bowser Kitten be? Who would take care of this house? What kind of shape would the boyfriend be in? Have I really made a difference, or would there always be someone else could’ve stepped in and taken my place for each of these things? What’s the point of being here?

So, I made soup. I threw on some old Vines, and then a bunch of Rage Against the Machine. I typed, I read random useless facts, I played with eyeliner. I can’t fix myself completely, but I have to leave for work in 35 minutes and need to be able to fake my way through my shift. Luckily, I have the Work Bestie with me tonight. She’s one of the few people I actually open up to at all about this, so I can let her know I can feel it building again.