The Failed Grown Up Guide to Not Being a Colossal Douche

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I’ve been showing our house to prospective renters the last few days, Sunshine, and I feel there’s something I need to address. I know that finding a new place to live is hard, that renting a room in a house full of strangers is intimidating, that the people you move in with will have a very real and lasting impact on not only your stay in that place but your life in general.

Believe me, I get all of that.

Since I first decided to go back to school, I’ve moved all over this end of town. I’ve lived with good friends, acquaintances, ex-boyfriends, an ex-boyfriend AND a current boyfriend at the same time, and total strangers. It’s never exactly easy looking for a new place, moving in with new people, or learning to deal with the people you’re now living with.

That being said, no one needs to be a complete douche canoe when they’re looking at places. Just showing this place to prospective renters, I have seen more douchebaggery than most people will see in a dozen life times. There has been enough douche in this house to build a douche canoe, with matching douche paddles, to be floated down a douche stream to the Douche Rapids, over the majestic Grande Douche Falls,   where the douche rocks will obliterate it into a million douchey pieces.

That’s a metric shit-tonne of douche.

So here, for your very own reading pleasure, I give to you……

The Failed Grown Up Guide to Not Being a Colossal Douche

Step #1: Show the Fuck Up

I had three people scheduled to come here today to see rooms. Two showed up.

I had one person scheduled for yesterday. No one showed up.

I have lost count of the number of times we have had someone scheduled to come here to look at a room, and they just don’t bother showing up. And it’s not like we give them no options in contacting us. The landlord gives them his phone number, I Facebook message with them, we all email back and forth, I’ve even given my phone number to a few of them to text in case they’re running late (which I stopped doing after the random 3 am attempted sexts from dudes who saw the place).

Now, I have a job. The other people in this house who help me show it have jobs and/or school. We have busy fucking schedules.  None of us are just sitting around the house, waiting for people to saunter up at their leisure to peruse the joint.

Today, I woke up at 4am to go over the list of things I needed to do today. I was up by 6am when the boyfriend left for work. I showered, drew in my eyebrows, and then cleaned until 9:30am when I left for work.  I worked until 3pm. Had to pick up cat food and dish soap, so I skipped my break in order to run to the grocery store in our plaza. Power walked home with a backpack full of groceries to be here by 3:25. Put away groceries, changed, did a quick sweep of the floors and ran a dust cloth over the tables, and was sitting on the couch waiting for my 3:45 appointment.

They never showed up.

I busted my ass cleaning all morning, then busted my ass at work without a real break, just to bust my ass to get home and get right to the cleaning, all because some douche nozzle said he was showing up here at a certain time and he never fucking showed.

The people showing you a possible place to rent bust their asses off to make sure they are there to show it to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s some tiny bedroom in a shared apartment or a penthouse fucking suite: someone is taking time out of their day to show you that potential new home. Be there, be on time, and if you’re going to be late for the love of all things sacred PLEASE let them know!

Step #2: When you DO show up, show some basic fucking courtesies. 

I have had people show up here in the middle of a driving rain storm, soaked right to the damn bone. I offered towels to dry themselves off with and to throw their socks and shoes on the heating vent to dry off a bit while we toured the house. One guy refused the towel, refused to take off his shoes, and insisted that his three friends do the same. Instead, they thought it was perfectly acceptable to track mud and water through the house.

Of course, after they left I had to report back to the landlord. I’ve studied sociopaths and psychopaths for years, so he sees me as a pretty good judge of character. The first thing I mentioned was their total and utter disrespect for the place while viewing it. If you can’t be bothered to show some basic fucking respect while you’re just viewing the place as a potential tenant, then what are the chances of you respecting the place while you live here?

That dude emailed the landlord and said he’d like to take the place. The landlord said “thanks, but no thanks”.

The place you’re looking at isn’t the only thing being judged. Whoever is showing you that place is checking to see if you’re a fit for them, too. No landlord wants to rent out their spaces to people who are going to just fucking destroy them.  If someone can’t bother to take off their muddy fucking shoes, then what are the chances they’ll sweep or vacuum or mop EVER?

The house manager here for years used to rent rooms to a bunch of his friends and frat brothers. A lot of them were pretty cool and easy to get along with. The one dude who lived here when I moved in became a really great friend to me and used to call himself Uncle Sandwich to my kitten (he’d feed him meat from his designer sandwiches from the Italian grocer’s down the road). Most of the time, renting to people he knew worked out. One frat brother caused some serious issues when he moved out though.

You see, my bedroom is one of two that is carpeted. Fratty McFraterton lived in this room before me. Mr. Manager never bothered to ask him about the places he lived before, or talk to anyone he lived with outside the actual frat house. If he had, he would’ve known that this guy wasn’t exactly someone who cleaned up after himself. As it turned out, he didn’t vacuum his room once in the more than a year he lived here.

When I moved in, I vacuumed and sat down on the floor to organize my books a bit. And that’s when the hives started popping up. Because that damn carpet hadn’t been vacuumed in at least 13 months, dust and food had been ground into it and had to be cleaned out. Like, Mr. Manager had to go out and rent a carpet cleaner and we had to steam the entire fucking room. But the damage had already been done.  That summer and early fall, I spent 94 days covered in hives. 94 fucking days! I saw doctors and specialists, had my eyes swell shut, had to carry an EpiPen and even had hives on my butthole.

The Landlord caught wind of this. The fact that he let someone rent a room here (a damn nice room, for a damn good price, with AC and everything), and that person showed so much disrespect was just mind boggling. The carpet has been cleaned half a dozen times since I moved in, and it will never be the same colour it once was.  He doesn’t want more people coming in and destroying his house like that again.

So the first impression you make, the respect you show me or anyone showing you a prospective place, has a huge role in whether or not anyone wants you to live there.

Step 3: You’re a grown up. Fucking act like one!

It’s perfectly understandable that sometimes you can’t go visit a place on your own. Some people take a friend with them for safety reasons. Others come from out of town and have someone showing them around, or someone who volunteered to drive them. Some people need a health aid, or a translator, or have a parent or two with them to show them that they’re not moving into a crack den. And some people have just never moved out on their own before, and have someone along to make sure they ask all the right questions.  That’s all cool.

But it’s you who is looking to rent the place. You’re the one who would live there, you’re the one who needs info, and you’re the one being judged here.  Having your mommy come along to talk for you is just going to give us something to laugh about later.

Had a young man come here the other day to look at a room, with his mother in tow. Well, actually it was more like she was looking at the room while he tagged along. She made a big show of telling me how her Special Little Man was 25 and moving out on his own for the very first time. I swear, she talked about him the same I was I talk about my baby kitten, who is an Extra Special Very Good Boy sometimes. He was going to go to university and get a BA in Psychology, which would make him a Very Important Special Little Man who would have people just throwing jobs at him. He didn’t have time for silly things like cleaning and cooking, so we’d need to do that. He was going to have a degree, did I have any idea what kind of doors that would open for him?

I so wanted to say, “Yeah, it’ll open the fucking door to the liquor store where I work. I’ve got the same damn degree sweetheart, with a second honors degree on top of that. And I still manage to scrub my toilet and wipe the counters down after I use them.” But I put on my best Customer Service Face, smiled and just said,”Oh ya, ok” while I nodded my head over and over.

The Special Little Man barely spoke. He seemed like a nice enough guy, the total opposite of his mother. A little spoiled, but totally eager to get out from under his mother’s thumb and into the real world. If his mother wasn’t there, I never would’ve known he can barely cook, and had never done laundry, and wasn’t allowed to even use a broom at home because he had better things to focus on. I probably would’ve recommended him to the landlord, told him he seemed like a nice respectable guy.

As it is, that boy won’t be renting a room here. Especially after his mother announced she’d be here every other weekend “at the very least” to make sure we were “taking care of him”.

Step 4: Read the fucking ad!

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Our ads are pretty basic. It shows a few old pictures of the house, tells you the price of the rooms, you share common areas and a bathroom, and it’s a mature home; no loud parties, no selling anything illegal from the house, all utilities included except cable and the internet. It flat out says that you are renting a ROOM and that you will be SHARING a bathroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen with everyone else.  I come right out the second people walk through the door here, and I show them which areas are common areas.  That’s how people have always shown me apartments and homes in the past too.

The ad pretty much tells you what you’re paying for. You get a room all to yourself, with a lock and key and everything. You share a kitchen and living room with everyone. You share a bathroom with one or two other people. The landlord tells you that when you email him saying you want to see the house. I tell you that when you walk in the house to see the rooms.

But this is a small sample of the things I’ve still heard from prospective renters in the last year or so:

  • what do you mean I have to share a bathroom with someone?
  • can’t you just not rent out the room next to me, so I get the whole basement to myself?
  • I thought this room came with a private bathroom.
  • what do you mean I have to share a kitchen?
  • you mean it’s just a bedroom?
  • I thought I was going to be seeing a full apartment.

I think you get the picture.

The fucking ad has PICTURE of the HOUSE in it. It talks about the BEDROOMS for rent. It mentions all of the COMMON AREAS that you would be SHARING with other people if you lived here. It ain’t fucking rocket surgery to realize that this is a room available in a house.

And the last two steps combined bring me to our next step.

Step 5: It is what it is. You’re not getting any more out of it.

You pay for a room here. You cook for yourself, you clean for yourself, you take care of yourself, you even shop for yourself. You are a grown-ass person, who will do grown-ass things, and take care of their damn selves. We do not have maid service or a chef. I’m not here to take care of you. You are paying for a room, and that’s it.

Last week we had a fellow look at the rooms downstairs, and start asking about the maid service schedule. He asked about grocery services. He wanted to know who would be doing the cooking. When he was told that he had to do all of that himself like a Big Boy, he had the fucking gall to try and lowball the landlord for rent to make-up for what was “missing”. He wanted a $400 room for less than $200!

Remember the woman with the 25-year-old Special Little Man who was going to be so fucking important someday? She was fucking appalled that her Special Little Man would have to do things for himself. He was far too important to do things like feed himself, or wash a fucking dish. She seriously expected everyone in the house to chip in and hire a maid to come in and scrub the floors, do the laundry, wash the dishes, and scrub out the bathrooms three or four times a week. If we weren’t willing to do that, then she wanted a discount on the rent.

People come up with all sorts of crazy-ass demands when they come look at the place. I’ve had people try to demand we get a brand new BBQ because ours is old and used. I’ve had people demand no one keep things in the kitchen but them. People have wanted to have the entire basement or main floor to themselves, without paying to rent the other rooms there. They’ve wanted other people to cook for them, to clean for them, to do their grocery shopping, to be their private guide to the city. Hell, I even had one girl who lived here try to turn me into her personal stylist, even though I have ZERO sense of fucking style!

Unless an ad says something like, “Private maid cleaning/cook available for a price/ room and board, meals included”, don’t expect any of this shit. Your parents, or your last roommate, or your last partner may have done these things for you. But was anyone doing any of this for them? Nope, and it’s not getting done for you here either!

A Few Final Thoughts

If you go looking for a place to live, and you act like a total and complete douche, no one is going to want you to live there.

If you come here and start bragging about how smart you are, how your degree is going to mean people will be throwing jobs at you, no one here is going to be impressed.

If your mommy comes in here to tell me that you’re far too important and special to do anything for yourself, or you come in here demanding someone else do your cleaning for you, no one here is going to jump up and cater to your every fucking need and whim.

If your mother comes in here and refers to you by little names that sound like something I would call my kitten, the Most Precious And Perfect Fuzzy Little Baby Man,  I will do my best not to burst out laughing in your face. But that’s as far I’ll go for that.

Basically, if you come in here doing any of the douchey bullshit I’ve just warned you about, I am going to tell everyone about it. I’ll tell my boyfriend, our roommates, my coworkers, maybe even some of my favourite regular customers. And we’re not going to sit back and revel in your awesomeness. No, we’re going to laugh our fucking asses off, make fun of you, and try to figure out who in their right mind would actually want you as their roommate.

So don’t forget, Sunshine: don’t be a douche. Don’t let your friends be douches. Don’t try to out-douche other douches. Just be a fucking awesome person, like are right now.

 

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Groceries: What The Hell Do You Even Need?

We’re in the process of re-teaching a co-worker how to shop for groceries after years of bringing fast food to work every day. So I thought this would be a good time to make up a grocery list for myself. I do this semi-regularly. It’s not like I shop entirely from a list, or have one of those pre-printed lists on the fridge that lets me check things off as we run out of them. And I’ll never be one of those people who always seems to have the well-stocked pantry, with all the ingredients for a three course meal ready at the drop of a hat. Truth be told, I’m trying to chose between semi-stale granola and toast made from bread the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend’s parents bought for us to go with my coffee this morning. I don’t think I could handle the responsibility of having one of those Insta-worthy pantries.

Still, I like to have a nicely stocked cupboard and fridge. There are some things I just need to keep in stock, like milk for coffee, or bread and cheese slices for emergency sandwiches. For some reason the other night, though, while making a grocery list so I don’t forget cat food and bacon, I thought “Gee, I wonder if there’s other things I should be stocking, to really up my cooking game”. So, off to the Googles!

A quick search for “Grocery List Essentials” pulled up article  after  article  of   pre-made  grocery  lists.  There was everything from slide shows of sleek-looking produce, clean eating walkthroughs, and  how to live on an extremely tight budget while still enjoying pancakes and pineapple. While the lists were a great ready (although sometimes overwhelming and huge), and each one was unique, they all had one thing in common: they were full of crap I don’t want or need.

Neither AAB or I are big on fruit. I keep some bananas and berries in the freezer for smoothies on Sunday morning, and he buys the occasional apples for his lunch. So why would we need to stock apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, and pomegranates in our kitchen? All that’s going to do turn into some mighty expensive compost. Things like yogurt and feta cheese would just go bad in the fridge, since we hardly ever use either one. And there is no way in hell I would EVER keep avocados  stocked in my kitchen. As the video says, those things can kill a damn horse!

You’re probably think, “Well shit Sunshine, how the hell will I know how to stock my damn kitchen if all these lists are full of crap I don’t even need?”

Well, sit your ass down and look at what you actually like to eat. Then, imagine eating it. Sounds crazy, right? Hear me out though: I love eggs. I love spinach. I love grains and carbs of all kinds. And I love salads. Before I make a grocery list, I have to figure out which of these things I need, and what I can do with them. One of my favourite things to pack for a quick lunch at work is quinoa, boiled spinach, and a poached egg. So if I know I’ll be getting shifts with lunch breaks this week, I’ll make sure I have those three things on my list. I never eat that at home, though, so I won’t keep all that in stock as much if I’m on evenings and nights. Also when I’m on nights and evenings, I need simple things to make for dinner since AAB doesn’t cook a whole hell of a lot. So, I’ll throw a few frozen pizzas and some crock pot friendly foods on my list.

Another great way to make a kick-ass grocery list is to look at recipes and store flyers. I like to look through Flipp on my phone and see what proteins are on sale at the two grocery stores near my work. Then, I’ll look up a few quick recipes for those: one in the oven, one crockpot, and one more complicated one for nights I’m not working. Then I’ll go through the recipes and make my list based on that, with a few changes. Depending on what is on sale, I’ll substitute a few ingredients here and there (why shell out for organic kale to sautee when you can get a bag of spinach on sale for $1?). This is great because now I have meals planned out in my head, and can shop for other things accordingly. Making spicy chicken on Monday night? Grab some peppers and onions, bust out the tortillas, and the leftovers become fajitas on Tuesday. Want to get that bag of discount spinach but only have it down in one recipe for the week? Boil or sautee some a bunch to add to omelettes, throw in with a bit of pasta, or eat as a side dish with breakfasts and lunches. Bunches of tomatoes are on sale, and you want them for pizza one night, but hate them in your salad? Make some salsa, bruschetta, or pico de gallo to snack on for the week with the leftovers.

So Sunshine, don’t think that you need to follow some sort of pre-made list to stock your kitchen right. I don’t care of Oprah or Gwyneth or Dr. Oz makes the damn list: if it doesn’t work with you, your tastes, and your lifestyle, then don’t bother with it. That’s not to say you can’t take inspiration from them. Check out the spice section of their lists, see if there’s anything there you could use but constantly overlook when shopping. Use things like lists as suggestions, not as can-never-stray-from-guides. You do you Sunshine, whether it’s in the kitchen or the boardroom. Stay golden!

Job Search Frustrations

My hours at work have been…… well…. pathetic. I was lucky to get called in for an extra shift this week, bringing my total hours for the week up to 9. Yes, you read that right, NINE whole hours this week. My paychecks are so tiny, I’ve had to dip into my meager savings just to pay rent. So, once again, I’m looking for a job.

Now, a little background for my newer readers: I’m actually an adult woman (in my 30s), with a lot of education. So far I have a BA(H) in Criminology, and am doing the paperwork to try and get my BA in Psychology. I have a Certificate of Office Administration, certification in Microsoft Word and Excel, and a bunch of job experience. I’ve worked offices, research labs, volunteer office work, and customer service. I’m polite, cheerful, professional, and can create the most complex organizational schematics you could ever need to keep all of your responsibilities in check. I don’t miss deadlines, I don’t mess around on company time, and I don’t slack off when stuff needs to be done.

And I just keep getting shit on.

Looking for a job today ain’t like it was for your folks, Sunshine. In this town, when my parents were in high school, you didn’t even need to finish high school to get into the local car plant. Most people just assumed they’d leave or finish school, and just get a job in one of the plants. Today, IF you’re lucky and IF they have enough Temp Part-Time positions available, you MAY get in part-time but ONLY if you’re a college or university student in good standing, taking full-time classes. And even then, you’re not guaranteed to be kept on the whole time you’re in school. There is actually an age limit on how old you can be in this program. So if you don’t jump right into schooling right out of high school and land one of these jobs, you’re screwed.

Back in those days, you put on your nice shoes and “pounded the pavement” to get your resume out there.

“Well, all you need is to get yourself out there! Go inside, introduce yourself. Hand in your resume in person. Get out from behind the computer and make yourself known!”

Any idea how sick to death I am of hearing that?

Where I work my VERY part-time job, we don’t take paper resumes. Like, at all. It doesn’t matter how nice you are, or how presentable you are, or how badly you need a job. Everything is done online now. You go to our website, follow the links, fill out some forms, and submit a resume. The only way you EVER get to see anyone face to face is, after all that, you get called in for an interview.

And we’re not the only ones who do that. EVERYONE is like that now.

“Get out from behind that computer! Go introduce yourself!”

Or why don’t you do something a little more helpful, Kind Elderly Relative, like getting me a job, or shutting the hell up?

I’d say that around 80% of my actual job search is online these days. I have a bunch of sites bookmarked that I check at least once a day for new postings: job search sites, company websites, government websites, temp agencies……..

“Don’t just check the agency’s site. Just go sign up with them. They’ll get you a job right away!”

Really? Because I’ve been signed up with FIVE agencies for a little more than a year now. One got me a six week gig a little over a year ago, and not one has found anything for me since then.

“Well then, maybe you just need a little more training. Go take some classes, upgrade your skills.”

What a great idea!  I’m just going to go out to the Education Tree and pull some of that free knowledge down for myself! Honestly, even using free websites like Coursera, you can’t get all the training you need without shelling out some serious cash. And all that education I already have? Well honey, it sure as hell wasn’t free.

Still, I’ve gone out for more training. I’ve signed up with government agencies that help the unemployed, I’ve taken their classes. I’ve gone to resume workshops, typing classes, Microsoft upgrading seminars, mock interviews……. I’ve done it all! And now, I can type up one hell of a resume that no one will read, and practice for all the interviews I won’t get!

“Maybe if you’d stop sitting around at your computer, complaining and being lazy, you’d have a job by now.”

My job search is not a fun hobby. NO ONE’S job search is fun! On top of my part-time job, I put in anywhere from 20-50 hours a week just in my job search. That’s time spent looking through websites, personalizing cover letters, writing emails, and tailoring my resume to positions. I go to job fairs, networking events, and free classes and seminars at local schools. I do online free courses in things like Conflict Resolution and Basic Accounting to fill in holes in my training. I am NOT sitting behind a desk, marathoning Netflix and eating Cheesies while I whine about being broke.

And neither are the majority of people out there in my same position.

Yes, we all have our times when it just overwhelms us and we need a break. There are days, or even weeks, where there’s just no new postings out there to apply to. There are the weeks you get 7 interviews, and are driving or bussing all over town. Then there are the weeks where you’d give anything just to hear the phone ring.

My darling Sunshines, you are not alone in this search. I know it seems like everyone out there has a job, and advice, and opinions, and they all want to help, even if that “helping” just makes things worse. I know what it’s like to have no one around who really understands what it’s like to spend 9 hours typing cover letters and researching positions, just to have people look at you like you’ve done nothing all day. I know the loneliness, the despair, the feeling like there must be something wrong with you because no one out there seems to want you.

So just know that you’re not alone in all of this. I’m here, and there are plenty more of us out there too. Just keep on shining, and someday maybe we can all blog about how great things are for us, and how these tough times made it all possible.

Roommates From Hell: The Break-In Upstairs

I once shared an apartment with a friend of mine. It was a dirty little place, where the hardwood floors never seemed to get clean. I couldn’t wear white socks at home, because they would turn black. This is the same place that had no air conditioning, and most of the windows didn’t open properly, so I was forced to sleep on a busted love seat in the living room. The only good thing about the whole place was the bedroom closet in my bedroom (all I want in life is my own place with a really big closet and a great big bathtub).

And the neighbours were some of the worst.

Now, there were actually worse neighbours living in the apartment upstairs when we first moved in, but they deserve their own entire post. After they left, and the apartment was sanitized, two young business students moved in upstairs. One had his very lovely parents come help him move in, and the other looked like a skinnier Thor in a rock band. The first few weeks, they seemed like very nice people.

Then, they got comfortable.

It started with the late nights. They would wear their heavy boots and clomp around, dancing with friends in high heels, blasting music all night. The staircase separating our apartments from the other two in the building muffled the sounds for them, so we got the brunt of it. They started smoking marijuana in their apartment, which was strictly forbidden in the lease (we had even created a smoking area in the back yard for anyone who smoked anything). Then, they started selling marijuana out of their apartment.

None of us knew about this latest development until one night in January, when whey were out at the bars again. I was curled up on the loveseat, trying to relax before bed, while the roommate sat in his chair watching cat videos on his laptop. Suddenly, we heard the complex doors open and someone come storming in, loudly yelling and stomping up the stairs. They stopped in the landing……. and loudly vomited everywhere. Even with my apartment door shut, I could smell it. Someone had extra garlic that night!

Then, they drudged through the puke and up the rest of the stairs, to the front door of the apartment upstairs. At first, they pounded on the door. Then they yelled and screamed. Then I heard kicking, and wood splintering. I tried to call the guys in the other apartment upstairs, but no answer. Turns out everyone was out that night, and my roommate and I were the only ones in the complex.

When we heard stomping up in the locked and empty apartment upstairs, I grabbed my phone to call the police. The stomping moved from the apartment, to the stairs, and back again, over and over. When I heard someone pound on my door, demanding I find the guys upstairs, I grabbed the biggest knife I own, hid my roommate in the bathroom (he couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag if you cut the bottom open for him), and told the dispatcher to tell the police to hurry.

The pounding stopped, the stomping upstairs started again, and then there was the sound of glass breaking and a giant thud. When the cops got there not even a minute later, they found a young university student, higher than a giraffe’s nut sack, half passed out on the livingroom floor upstairs, the remnants of a few (very expensive) bongs broken all around him. They arrested him, took a quick statement from me, and left a note on the now splintered and broken front door of the apartment upstairs, all the while trying to avoid the puke all over the hallway floors.

About an hour later, while I was still too wound up to sleep, I heard the guys in that apartment come home with a friend. She refused to walk through the puke, so Thor carried her. They got to their front door, where the note from the police was, and saw the broken glass all over their floor, and did what any concerned, responsible adults would do: they grabbed some of their weed, grabbed some booze, and went to her house.

The next morning, I left a message for the building manager about what happened. He said the cops called him that morning too, telling him what they found. He had called the guys upstairs, who told him that they didn’t come home at all that night, and were with a sick friend all day as well. I called them out on their bull, told the building manager about them coming home the previous night.

When it later came out that this guy broke into their apartment looking for drugs, and that they were selling them out of the apartment, things changed quickly around there. First, those boys had to pay for both the new door and all of the cleaning and repairs to the stairs and hallway. Apparently, the puke was so bad in some places it made the paint on the walls bubble. Then, the building manager called their emergency contacts, which happened to be their parents, to tell them that the apartment had been broken into and could they please double check with their boys to make sure nothing of value was stolen. He played it off as a concerned friend, calling to make sure these poor, shaken boys had someone there to help comfort them and to think clearly about what they own of value. When Thor’s mom showed up at their door, saw large bags of weed on the table, and read the copy of the police report that was left for the boys, she went outside to wait in a damn blizzard for the other boy’s parents.

This was by far one of the scariest things to happen to me once I moved out for school. I didn’t know why that boy was kicking in the door there, or what he wanted, or if he would try the same thing at my apartment if he didn’t find what he wanted upstairs. I kept a few steak knives on the end table at night, for security, until I accidentally sliced my palm open reaching for my phone one morning.

But that’s the past. After that semester ended, those boys moved out, and I never saw them again. I wish I could say I wonder what happened to them, but the only time I think of them is when I tell this story.

Until next time, sunshine!

Our Microwave Just Broke

So while I was making my dinner, one of my roommates tried to reheat his leftovers in the microwave. It made this awful loud noise that scared the crap out of the cat, and refused to heat anything. I messaged the landlord, and he said he’s look into it tomorrow.

Now, I like this roommate. He keeps to himself, doesn’t leave big messes everywhere, spends a lot of time on campus, is very respectful to everyone here, and the cat loves him. He joked that he was going to have to eat take-out now, and I suggested he reheat his food in the oven when I was done with in. He came back to the kitchen once my food was done, looked at the oven and said, “So how does this work? Do I just put my plate in there?”

I just had to teach a soon-to-be-grown-up how to use an oven.

He didn’t know how to turn it on. He didn’t know you can’t just throw a plate of food in there. He didn’t know how to use a baking pan.

This boy has never had to make anything more complicated than a pot of rice. He has buckets of leftovers in the freezer here that he just reheats and eats over rice.

So once again, I somehow get to be the adult in the house and teach people how an oven works. Is it scary that I’M the adult?

The Meals EVERYONE Needs to Know…….?

So I’ve been seeing these articles all over the internet: The meals every 20-something should know how to make; 30 recipes you should know how to cook by the time you’re 30; 10+ dishes and drinks everyone should know how to make at home (including you). Apparently, there’s a lot of food out there we just MUST know how to cook in order to be considered an adult. To be honest, I don’t know anyone, aside from a few chef friends, who can cook all or even most of the stuff just in these three articles above, let alone everything every seems to think we need to cook.

To me, knowing what you need to know how to cook comes from learning about what you life to eat. For example, I’m not going to learn how to make polenta and zucchini when I don’t even like polenta or zucchini. And these things appear on a lot of damn lists!

If you know that there are certain foods you love when you go out, or certain recipes your folks make when you’re home that you absolutely love, then learn how to make these. But don’t feel any sort of pressure to learn how to make a bunch of stuff you’ll probably never eat, or never want to cook, or never want to serve to others, just because some list told you that you need to.

These lists are pretty damn common. There is always someone out there who is an absolute authority on exactly what you need to know by a certain age. Or things you absolutely need to do by a certain age. Or places you need to travel to, books you need to read, things you need to experience, people you need to date……. it seems like there are a whole lot of things we all need to do in our 20s and/or 30s. Honestly, though, we don’t do most of them.

And that’s not a bad thing.

You don’t need someone else setting up lists for you, or telling you that your life is unfulfilling, or that you’re wasting your time if you haven’t completed all the things on the list. Do you know how many lists I’ve seen that have things like skydiving or bungee jumping on them? My sister is turning 31 this month, and you couldn’t pay her to go skydiving or bungee jumping. Does she consider her life wasted? Oh hell no! She has an absolutely amazing husband, they have a home together, and the craziest fluffy black and grey Norwegian Forest Cat whose fur feels like cotton candy. Does she have everything going for her in life? No, because nobody does! And it has nothing to do with whether she’s ever jumped out of a plane or off a bridge with an elastic band wrapped around her legs. Because not everyone wants to do the same crap.

Why am I bringing this up? To be honest, I was going to give you yet another list of things you absolutely, positively need to do as a young adult, this time in the kitchen. It was inspired by the above Hello Giggles article and the fact that I had almost a full carton of eggs that was just 3 days away from its Best Before date. As part of my research, I tried to look up recipes and things you need to know before you’re 30 (because apparently cooking very specific dishes is something everyone needs to learn as a young adult, whether you like it or not).  Well somehow in my search, I came across this list, which temporarily mentally destroyed me.

Now, here’s a bunch of things on that list that apparently I absolutely should have by now that I definitely do NOT have:

  • A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in my family.
  • Something ridiculously expensive that I bought for myself, just because I deserve it.
  • A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
  • A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a second list on there on things you should definitely KNOW by the time you hit 30. While most of the things on there are perfectly fine with me, there were a few that hit close to home. How I feel about having kids, for example, is a big one with me right now. When I was in my late 20’s, I didn’t think I’d ever want kids. After 30 though, once my friends started popping them out and I got to play with them and babysit them, I realized that I’m pretty sure that I do want them. Oh, and I’m over 30. Here’s the tricky thing though: I met my current boyfriend while I was in my 20’s, and he definitely does NOT want kids. Ever. When we started dating, I was perfectly fine with this. Now though, it’s putting a real strain on our relationship. If I lived according to this list, I would have known that when he and I first met, and it wouldn’t be an issue right now because it would’ve been a deal breaker back then.

So I started thinking, I know I’m not a shining beacon of grown-up success, but have I done absolutely EVERYTHING wrong? Have I done so much wrong that it’s messed up my entire future? I went into a panic, contemplating every decision I’ve ever made with my life. I started thinking, if I’ve already failed this much, can things get better? Or am I stuck in this crappy existence forever? I make no secret of the fact that my life totally and truly sucks at the moment, but have always been told that things will get better. But according to this list, I’ve missed my shot. I’ve missed out on the most basic and fulfilling parts of what I need to have at this age, and it’s too late to start all over again.

Ok, so I lasted like this for a few days (I hate having anxiety at times like that). I didn’t want to write (thankfully I have some drafted and queued posts for emergencies), I didn’t want to go out, and I didn’t want to research any more. It took the homeless fundraiser I wrote about last weekend to snap me out of that. There I realized that I was doing good things with my life, even if I don’t have a daily exercise regiment. I made new friends, and talked to some awesome people who share quite a bit in common with me in that regard. I found kindreds, and acquaintances. Basically, I lived life and in that moment, I loved it.

I wasn’t living off of some list. I wasn’t checking to make sure that someone, somewhere, had already made sure that this was something that I should be doing at my age. I found something that makes me feel good, that makes my soul happy, that makes me feel like I’m doing more than just existing, like I’m giving back to this world. And that feeling, for me, is better than owning new furniture or something ridiculously expensive. I was living.

Yes, eggs and lists helpful recipes both sent me into an existential crisis and to blissful existence. The human mind is funny like that.

Anyway, yes I will be posting more recipes soon. And some cooking basics (which you absolutely do not need to learn if you feel you live a fulfilling life without them). I think maybe this week, I’ll start with a salute to eggs.

Job Search Journalling and Tracking Applications

So I didn’t know this when I started job hunting after I finished my degree. I just got a resume and cover letter together, started applying places, and waited for them to contact me. Sometimes, if they got back to me quickly, I’d remember details about the job ad that I had read, or the basic qualifications for the job. Usually, though, I’d draw a complete blank on the job and what it entailed. Sometimes, when I got the callback, I would only be given a company name and not the position I would be interviewing for. Now how the hell do you prepare for an interview if you don’t know what job you’re interviewing for?

After a few interviews, I went to a place downtown that helps people find jobs in the community. The first thing they asked me was if I was keeping a Search Journal. Pretty sure my answer was something along the lines of “what the crap is that crap?” Well, it turns out that crap is the crap that makes this whole job search thing a little bit easier, but also a whole lot harder. The best part of this is there is no right or wrong way to go about doing this crap. Basically, you need to find a way to keep track of all the essential crap in your job search.

So what exactly is essential?

First, you’ll need to track where you’re applying to, and to whom. Make note of whether you applied by email, website form, or in person, and who you applied to (an actual person, a web form, a general email address, etc.). If you applied to an actual person, try and get their title or position within the company too.

Next, you’ll want to keep a copy of the job ad itself if you can. I’ve seen ads that are only a few lines long, with no real information about the position. If that’s the case, then just make a note of that. Most of the ads I’ve seen, however, have been these long detailed things going on about specific qualifications needed, a description of the job itself, and sometimes even a little bit about the company. These ads are job search gold, I’ll tell you! And it’s unbelievably important that you keep track of these ads, so you know what you’re getting into if you get a call-back.

Finally, you should keep a copy of the resume and cover letter you sent in for that job. Why? Because you’re supposed to be tailoring these to each job you apply to, emphasizing different skills and qualifications you have, and showcasing why you are the absolute ideal candidate for the job. And if you’re going to get called in for an interview, then you REALLY need to know what the hell you told them about yourself!   There’s nothing worse than going into an interview and having to answer 37 questions about your Microsoft and public speaking experience (because you made sure to emphasize these things on your application), only to completely blank on your answers because you forgot what you emphasized. Believe me, it’s happened a few times to me.

I have experience in a lot of different things (writing, editing, research, volunteer coordination), have different educational attributes I can emphasize (Criminology degree, Psychology degree, Office Administration certificate, Microsoft Word and Excel certificates), and held down multiple on-campus jobs while volunteering for multiple organizations on campus for 5 years. There is no way I can talk about all of that each and every application, and there’s no way that I should either. For office jobs, I would usually emphasize my office skills. Jobs on campus meant I would play up how well I worked with different departments in different ways. Some jobs valued education over experience, or vice versa. I have gone into interviews forgetting that my cover letter for that application talked about my experience with coordinating volunteers with one specific organization, only to have almost the entire interview be about that very specific experience. And do you know what happened next? I didn’t get the job, because I wasn’t prepared!

So how you go about doing this is completely up to you. For a short time, I attended a support group for people who were having trouble finding a job. I don’t think any of us went about this in the same way. One woman printed everything out and put it in an accordion folder, alphabetically by company name. Another kept a notebook where she would write everything down as she applied to job. I decided to make my life as difficult as possible, and came up with some crazy combination of Microsoft Word and Excel, a folder full of folders on my computer, and a notebook. No one else could figure it out just by looking at it, but it was what worked best for me.

So in the end, you really need to start keeping track of all this crap! This crap is important crap, crap that needs to be tracked. Track your crap in whatever crap tracking way works best for you. And good luck out there, sunshine!