I Changed My Mind

The verdict is in, and my previous thoughts are overturned: cover letters are the worst.

I say this because I wrote, not one, not two, but THREE cover letters before Thanksgiving, for three jobs I was totally qualified for but that weren't all totally generic and essentially beneath me, and I heard ZILCH.

And now I am trying to write another one, but I feel like I need to do something different because, again, no one liked the last letters! But what can I do different. How do I make you hire me for this lackluster job no one could possibly really desire. But I do want it, I do, I really do! (Really, please, make my next twelve months less of a giant, gaping, mysterious hole!)

I have to go to work number three in two hours, and before then, I also need to call someone, who then will tell me to call someone else, about how my identity has still not been verified for the healthcare exchange application, and isn't this life FUN?

Today's an all caps, all cramps kind of day, I guess.
In other news, my computer is by a window today, and although the window is extraordinarily drafty and chills the keyboard, the heater goes all along the floor under my desk, and it is warm and great. Thank goodness for fingerless gloves and SUNLIGHT.

(Also I now have over 30,000 Delta SkyMiles, thanks to my newest credit card, so, watch out, world, I'm halfway to Europe FOR FREE.)

Cue Christmastime

I'm almost ready for Christmas! Happy November 30th!

Edit: Apparently my phone always fails the first time I try to post? So much for blogging from the bar and actually getting it on the internet.

Can't Wait for December

This photo is from my last NaBloPoMo post last time around, and I still think it is so perfectly pleasant. I jinxed myself, back then, when I wrote, "I think, after all those false starts, I've brought the blog back." Ha. I posted four times that December (almost entirely about the great trials I faced in finally getting internet in my home), seventeen times for all of 2012, and then I made an effort in 2013 from January to April, before complete ignoring the blog until NaBloPoMo came around again. So that was a bit of a disappointment. I was going to say that I had totally forgotten the blog existed over the summer, but truthfully, I thought about it a lot. I battled with myself over whether or not I needed to start an entirely new blog, or just get a new template, maybe with a new name. I searched for pre-made, free templates; I despaired.

It's really thanks to this temporary job I have right now, which is, at times, even more soul-crushing than my old law office job, that I did NaBloPoMo at all. On November 1st, I had nothing to do. I had just received an email from BlogHer about NaBloPoMo starting. I thought, why not?, and so I tried a little harder to figure out how to make my blog look more the way I wanted, and met with some success. I went home feeling pretty accomplished. 

I still need to make a new header, and I am seriously considering changing the name. It's not like I've built any sort of brand recognition around it. Instead I have years—five and a half years—of personal identification with "der Landstreicher," even as I have lived in the same town for the past four and a half, "[spinning] out the fragile thread of [my] pseudo-career." 

Speaking of pseudo-careers, I have to be at the restaurant in just under an hour, so I should probably pile up a plate with Thanksgiving leftovers and prepare myself, mentally and physically, for six hours hosting at a downtown Ann Arbor restaurant, the night before the Ohio State game. Let's hope for the best (crazy-customer-wise; I'm not sure hope's gonna help the football game).

And for the record, I am excited for NaBloPoMo to be done. I'm going to work out a posting schedule, and have plans for different kinds of posts, and I am not going to blog every day. No more cop-out posts with one picture that may or may not relate to the included words. No more staying up past my bedtime every night because of it. I would have much rather read a book on the couch before the sun set than stared at this damn computer screen in my post-workout-shower-M&Ms haze for two hours. Grrumph.

Feast At Our Place

We hosted our first Thanksgiving ever this afternoon. Cooper's mom and sister came into town with pies and wine, I made a corn casserole and set up the apartment, and Cooper did the turkey, gravy, potatoes, and broccoli. Straightforward and delicious.

I didn't take a picture of the full spread, which we served on our side island/cart in the kitchen, partially because I forgot and partially because we had some turkey difficulties. The turkey was ahead of schedule, so he turned down the heat to slow it down, and slowed it down too far. So the full platter of carved turkey was not on display until after I'd started putting the sides away. (We ate parts of the bird as they reached doneness, but most of it was in the oven 'til we finished eating.) We ate at a card table in the living room, because the kitchen felt like the inside of the oven, and because we can't fit four chairs in the kitchen even though the table is larger, and because there were things everywhere. Card table + tablecloth = good enough for me, though. Whenever we had big meals at my grandparents' or cousins' house the kids would eat at a card table. It feels good to continue the tradition.

Haroun pretty much spent the whole day in the living room. In the morning he sat on the back of the couch, meowing at us for attention while we cooked and cleaned. All afternoon and evening, he sat on the couch or on the floor and napped, with some fun interludes of mouse-on-a-stick play. What a people cat.
BTW: Yesterday's post, which I will admit I posted after midnight because we were en route from Grosse Pointe and it didn't occur to me to blog in the car on my phone, failed to upload but I didn't notice because I blogged in bed on my phone and my phone let me down. So I just uploaded it again now. Oh, and I found the errant leftover pie and I ate it for lunch. Delicious.


We got home from dinner at my parents' house close to midnight. What can you do?
Hope the cats don't find the piece of John's apple pie I brought home with me but stowed...somewhere. 

A bit of whole wheat in the butter crust, and oh so good. 

Let's Talk About Chairs

I'm not feeling inspired, especially not in this awful space in which I am currently "working." My supervisor is on vacation, his office is being moved down the hall next week, and today when I got to work at 12:15 there were no computers at our desks and a student was carting filing cabinets out. There was no one else around on the fourth floor; what people I could see were behind closed doors in the conference room. It was ridiculous.

Now I have a loaner laptop from downstairs, an awkward Hewlett-Packard with a weirdly soft, matte finish and a terribly pale screen I can't focus on. (I am thankful for my Apple computer.) The fluorescent lights aren't actually buzzing above me, but it feels like they should be, and the copier is humming and tapping, although it's accompishing nothing. We have a nice view out our floor-to-ceiling windows, but the desks face us away from the windows and toward the hallway all day long. Outside is just an impermeable grey haze; better than the dull taupe of the pinboard in front of me, if only I could stare at it, but instead I have this LCD screen surrounded by aging office accessories.

I am fully aware that this is silly, ridiculous, unacceptable—but one reason I'm averse to the office-drone life path is that it is dressed in drab patterns of nothing colors, accentuated by bad lighting. That alone is a good reason to work at home. At home, my tiny desk is a clean, bright white. Sometimes I light candles at it and in the cocoon of warm darkness I try to write. I still need to hang my pastel map of Germany, alongside my new Ikea corkboard, lovingly decked out in postcards from Europe and other mementos. It's too small, but it fits where it needs to fit, and if I stay focused on corralling the clutter, I can work in the space.
My desk and chair in the old apartment.

Except I'm using my broken chair at the desk, because I need the two intact ones for the kitchen. The back has fallen off, because the screws don't screw into anything anymore, and I haven't stuffed the holes with toothpicks and glue yet like my father does because...I haven't. I want a slightly sturdier chair for my desk, so I can cross my legs on it and stay there longer. I want to put a chair there, and put a (fake?) sheepskin on top of it. Then all the cats will be so jealous while I blog away on my pile of softness, and my life will be so design-y.

I spent a long time making these collages on the PicStitch app on my phone, because it seemed like the easiest way. Please excuse the image quality; they're made of iPhone screenshots. I was really into the way they looked on the phone, but not so much on this huge 13" screen. I don't really like the white chair on the top, but it's a cheaper alternative to my top choice: the Tobias chair, the clear one on the right. It has a cantilever base like my parents' old chairs, for some sense of continuity in the chair collection, but it's comfy and wide. So wide, really, that it can fit a person much larger than I and might actually look silly tucked in under my tiny desk. It's also $80—a lot less than comparable non-Ikea chairs, but a lot for me.
I'm not sure why the coloring in the two collages is so different, but whatever. I did it all with my thumb and finger on my phone, so it's hard to complain. I like the idea of wood and sheep, or black and sheep, maybe, but I don't think these would be as comfortable. They're just wood chairs, and I don't know if the sheepskin will help with that. They're all cheaper than the Tobias chair, but also not free.

Maybe after Christmas I'll take a serious chair-shopping trip to the Ikea in Canton, and spend my gift money on one.

Participation Was Always My Least Favorite Part of School

Hey, readers!

How are you faring this cold November? I'm pretty sure some of you aren't even that cold (cough, people in Georgia, cough) (people in California, cough). Tonight I saw a movie (Blue Is the Warmest Color) and I got a drink at a bar that opened...like a year ago...downtown (Vellum), but it was new to me and it was good. I also tried to pick my bike up from Main Street but I remembered that not having my housekeys with me and having to have Cooper lock the apartment door meant I also did not have my bike key with me. Whoops.

So, readers:

What did you eat for dinner tonight? How ready for Thanksgiving are you? I'm most excited to only work one job a day Wednesday-Friday, and no jobs Thursday. Also, Cooper and I are hosting his mom and sister for Thanksgiving, which will be weird/fun.

I also read this poem today, via The Hairpin. I like just the title, but also the poem itself. November: I no longer hate it so much, but I really used to.

Breaking News: Housewares

After two trips to World Market this weekend, I can now safely announce that I have a rug for my side of the bed. The first one I picked was a beautiful indigo rag rug with touches of purple and a couple shots of red, and I love it deeply, forever, but it made the side of the bed into a sort of black hole and that could not be borne. So I exchanged it for an aqua-colored one, less perfect as a standalone object but much better suited to its new surroundings. The following picture does nothing justice: the angle is bad, the lighting is bad (although better than usual thanks to my stealing the living room lamp for this purpose...we really need to get another lamp!), there is crap on the bed and the doorknob, and the cat is also better-looking than suggested.
I have a new picture frame, currently living on my nightstand. It is my pride and joy of the weekend. I've had the postcard since Janet and David took me to the Kandinsky exhibit at the Lenbachhaus in Munich over Christmas break. In 2008. Reitendes Paar (Riding Couple) is a squareish painting, but my postcard is 4x6, so that's a weird situation. On Friday, though, I finally tried to get a frame for it, and found one that works really well (although it crops out some of the sides). Behold:
I also picked up some red-tag fabric from JoAnn's tonight so that I can change the upholstery on Ali's old vanity stool that Emma re-covered and I then appropriated. We sacrificed the vanity long ago, but the stool has persisted as a footrest. Emma's fabric had turned an entirely new color, so now, voilà!
Cooper had been seated at that laptop, but he fled when he realized photography was afoot. The color's a greyish light blue-green. It was six dollars. Now I just have to attach the fabric—maybe I'll borrow my dad's staplegun at Thanksgiving. I also kind of want to paint over the wood, but white's the only idea I've got, and I'm not that into it. 

So that was the rest of my weekend. Plus a lot of cat-loving today. I think they really appreciate it when we're home all day, which rarely happens.

Or maybe I'm just obsessed.

Hello Winter

I didn't remember NaBloPoMo existed until around 8pm tonight, at which point I was at work, and it had started snowing for the second time today. More serious snow. It took Cooper half an hour to get from North Campus to Main Street to pick me up, and when we got home we found a car stranded on a patch of ice right in front of our building. More cars have hit that same patch of ice since then. Some guys were pushing cars up the hill for a while. It's sort of ridiculous.

My priorities right now are the bowl of popcorn I just made and watching TV cuddled up on the couch, but I burned the popcorn and Cooper can't stop watching the cars get stuck on ice. He called the police, and says the whole right side of the street might be ice. It sounds like spaceships out there when the wheels spin and don't go.
My hair was well-behaved tonight.

Let Them Eat Cake

My brother the bread baker took a cake decorating class last night, then taxied the finished product around town so all could admire/devour. Well. Three of us. Two houses. It took a while. Thanks, John!

You Can Drag A Horse to Water But You Can't Make Her Write a Meaningful Sentence (Or Can You?)

Or Cover Letters: Not That Bad?

For me, conceptually, cover letters and resumes are The Worst. Meaningless salutations ("To whom it may concern"), formulaic paragraphs that relate my personal identity to some boring job posted on the internet? Some unknown human is going to read this embarrassing letter? "Kill me now" is my official stance on job applications. I'm obviously not alone in this.

For some people, who I imagine must be both highly motivated and mostly or completely unemployed, cover letter tweaking and dispatching is a robotic nothing experience that they do for many hours each day, until they are offered a job or have to start working at a coffee shop. These people, I imagine, know what they want and have some baseline of qualifying skills, so they are just doing essentially the same thing, over and over again. They aren't casting about in the dark for any possible handhold, like I have been, and so they can be robots--whereas I must fabricate a bridge to each opportunity and hope everyone involved will join me in my wishful thinking, accept my persuasive tactics long enough to hire me. Writing the sentences, or even the basic sentiments one by one can be like forcing myself to tiptoe across a floor totally covered in broken glass, trying to land on the few safe centimeters of space.

Kill me now.

But I've been practicing this process for a while now, off and on, and so there aren't so many gaps to fill in the resume. I've had one cover letter that got a response, so I know now that I'm not fishing in a lake that is biologically dead, just one that's heavily over-fished. And what I've learned, with all this, is that resumes and cover letters can actually make me feel better about the lackluster jobs I've been spending all my time on. I realize that these jobs where I spend so much time doing nothing have actually imparted a number of useful skills. Despite the downtime, I have had many responsibilities.

So that one successful cover letter of my life thus far. This specific posting didn't require a cover letter, but I figured, I can do this, I can do this (just fucking do it), I can write a few sentences about why I want this tiny part-time job in the few minutes before I get out of work and walk to other work (an exciting Friday night). At the interview, she asked me if I was interested in going into that field, and I said I wasn't sure, but maybe. I wanted to find out. She told me she liked my letter, that it was confident. I got the job. (This was in September.)

The job is only nine hours a week, though, and so I hope they won't care too much if I find something that pays for a full life. And next time I get an interview, I will say YES I want to go into the field. Let's throw ourselves off the cliff, guys. We can always back out later when the going gets mind-numbingly awful. Or before then--file that under "Things I Need to Work On."

Gone Fishing

Okay, not really fishing.

I am also not kayaking in the slough/slue/slew with sea otters and seals. That was two summers ago.
Isn't it great how my life jacket matched the kayak? Isn't it great how I'm wearing that attractive visor? Cooper's life jacket adds a nice pop of red to the photo. And we're smiling, which is misleading, because much of the time I was threatening his life because he wasn't steering us exactly where I wanted and we were falling behind my cousin, who is a seasoned kayaker (we are not). It was a real workout to get back to where we started as the tide was coming in, but we succeeded in the end. We had just celebrated our second anniversary, so it was a good time to start bickering.

Today is not about recreation. I just found a job to apply for that I feel good about, so I'm getting this blog thing off my plate so I can concentrate on it for as long as necessary and get an application in today. Yikes.

(Good riddance, temporary position. Knock on wood.)

My Bedroom Is Like a Peppermint

Before we moved in, the room that worried me the most was the bedroom. When Cooper and I saw the apartment the first time, we were dazzled by the wood floors and actual closets and room for two human beings and a cat litter box. It also helped that the current tenants had some good furniture and nice things hanging on the walls. We signed the lease the next morning. The second time we saw the apartment, after we finally got in touch with those tenants about buying some of their furniture, the apartment was mostly boxes. I realized that the ceilings in the bathroom and bedroom were not so tall as in the living room, and worse was the cause: cheap ceiling tiles. The bedroom also has cardboard-seeming paneling, painted white.

It also looked a lot smaller than it had before, and I realized that they had one side of their bed pushed up against the wall, lengthwise, with no room for a nightstand. My long-held dreams of bedside equality, equal bedtime mobility, shattered.

Thankfully, when we moved in we found there was just enough space to position the bed properly—short side to the wall. But after the bed, we have two dressers, two side tables, one desk. They naturally all wanted to be on the same wall, but we were afraid the floor would tip if we left it like that. (Not really.) So I moved every piece of furniture to every possible alternate location (and I took so many pictures for comparison purposes, but I'll spare you our dirty laundry), and this is where we are today:
From the door to the living room. Look at that big empty wall!
From the door to the bathroom; toward the living room.
Bedroom equality. Cooper's nightstand is short, so you can't see it, but it's on the left side of the bed between it and the desk. My nightstand is beautiful, as is the cutey Ikea lantern.
My apologies for the fuzzy iPhone photos; I don't have any free time during daylight until next Saturday, but I wanted to go ahead and finally write this post.

I swear I didn't plan to make it red and white, and that's not really what I'm going for; it's just that I own a lot of red. I do want more variety, including a second duvet cover. The curtains are going to move to the kitchen, where they can be united in one window, show off their pretty border, and regain a little of their former glory. The black chest of drawers will become a color one day, but not now. The star lamp needs an actual hook—maybe above the bed, maybe somewhere else.

In late spring I made my bed with new floral sheets, a white blanket and a plaid blanket, and my cute silkscreened pillows. Reading in bed by the (meager) light of my little blue lantern reminded me of a cabin in summertime.
Cooper's side table, solid and rustic-looking (see this photo) and the weird paneling pattern fit with that as well. Even the star lamp does, a ray of Nordic hope in a time of growing darkness.

Alternatively or additionally, I'd like warmly pinkish curtains, and some sort of richly detailed lamp. Who knows. What we really need is to start putting hooks in the walls for artwork, and I have to go to JoAnn Fabrics to scout out curtain possibilities. Here are some of the things I've been coveting (World Market, Urban Outfitters). Just for fun, because one is discontinued, one is expensive, and one is awfully (neon?) pink, and I think I'm almost over it.

Magical Thinking

I've spent a lot of time thinking about what sort of feeling I'm going for in the bedroom in my new apartment. I knew from the start that I wanted to add complexity, pattern and COLOR with the curtains, because everything is white, and not in the best shape, so it would be nice to distract from the bones of the place. (Though I'm not so sure about my impulse for patterns anymore.) Which colors, and what styles, I still haven't pinned down, but I do know I want to do something more romantic than my last bedroom, and my perfect bedroom senior year of college (one photo is here). By 'romantic,' I mean more magical, a little softer, with a little more (ordered) clutter, more bountiful details. I want to balance out the clean Ikea lines that you find in every other corner. 
The balancing books are magic in themselves. No, but done carefully, that could be a really cool (if also grossly contrived) look. Which Emma is a master of.
I miss visiting Emma all the time, because it's always fun to see how she arranges her things—both when it's tidy and when it's not. For better or for worse, my stuff is a big part of who I am, and I think collections of personal belongings—in their natural habitats—can be lovely. (Like the art of the mess.) So I'm thinking about Emma's old bedroom in our house on Packard, which became so atmospheric with those leftover balloons. (More photos, and context, here.)
When I was going through my extra hard drive to retrieve these pictures, I also looked at photos from Emma's and my attic apartment, which we lived in the year after I graduated from college. We had the entire top floor of an old, dirty, run-down house in downtown Ann Arbor. What it lacked in laundry facilities, heat vents, and peace and quiet, it made up for in charm. Okay. The charm couldn't take care of everything, but we picked it because we always pick the old house over anything else. My bedroom had three skylights and a peaked roof and westward windows (my favorite), and I made these beautiful curtains from antique Italian cotton with handmade lace. I hung my star lights, which have moved with me from home to home since freshman year of college, in drapes around the window, with my paper globe lamp to one side, like the moon.

So that's one room of mine that had some magic to it.

Job Talk

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I operate as a person, and what I want from life, my friends, a career. Not really job titles or specific areas so much—I'm floating hopelessly, completely ungrounded—but what the work environment would be like; how many people, how much responsibility. I've thought about a whole wide range of work-related things, but these thoughts come and then go again, mostly without being recorded.

This week, I worked about 47 hours, maybe more. Last week was around 54. This is silly because I don't think I want to work even 40 once I have a real career with benefits and decent pay. I know that you have to work hard to move up, and I also know that high-paying jobs are more likely to demand extra hours of you. But I'd like to work my way up to a nice amount of pay and then cut back my hours, say to 30 or 35, and get paid a proportional amount. (I'll go into why in a minute.) So far, I haven't set myself up for greatness—I started at the bottom of the job-ladder and haven't hopped my way into anything remotely ambitious so far—so I should probably be scrambling to increase my income as much as I can, as quickly as I can, instead of dreaming of what I would do with my sizable chunks of free time in this easy future. (Of course, everyone I read on the internet says that as long as you're learning things and doing things, it doesn't matter what you're doing in your twenties—but don't sit them out and don't do nothing! That's why I quit my old job for a temp job: to learn something new.)

But I also know my free time is really only going to shrink in the future. Sure, one job takes less time than three, but my friends are going to have kids someday, and I'll want to see them. I'll probably have kids too. I want to travel once I have more flexibility with my income, and also start seeing my parents regularly, immediately. (Maybe I should not be so certain of this future financial solvency, these easy family developments; I hope I'm not jinxing things!) Even recently, those weeks in October when I worked just a little over 40 hours, it was hard to keep up with my friends and my laundry, my cats and my kitchen. Plus I have a boyfriend I'd like to spend meaningful time with sometimes.

I've never felt passionately about a career. As a kid, I picked them willy-nilly. I was going to be a ballerina, but I never danced. I wanted to be a piano player, having never taken a lesson (and though I did eventually take lessons for eight years, and really loved it, by then I was too scared and too behind to consider it as a career). I liked school, so I'd be a teacher. I liked reading, but almost never wrote good stories in school. Then I wanted to be a writer, assuming I'd have to have a day job, too. I didn't want to study writing or English in college. By then, I sort of thought I'd just end up with some sort of office job like my mom, but hopefully with more security—she was let go my senior year of high school, just in time for all those college bills, and didn't get re-hired for three years. I'd do my work, get paid, save for retirement, have a 2-income family, and I'd be ahead of the game. When I wasn't at work, I'd read books and watch movies and go to exciting places.

But there was that other part of me that assumed I'd have this magic moment in college where everything would click and I would have a path and goals and meaning. I needed for this to happen, and then I did my best to avoid figuring anything out. I want to rewrite, really examine the story of my college years. I feel ambivalent about them. They might not really matter, though. More important is what I've gotten out of the past few years as a poorly paid, but fortunately working person.


Today was pretty warm for November (tomorrow the high is in the 60s! plus rain...), but this was the first night in a while that I remembered I had a bottle of Witches' Brew open from Tuesday night, so after a couple loads of dishes, I heated some up. I guess that makes it our nightcap.

I really like mulled wine now, but I'm not sure how much of that is that I'm more used to the taste of wine now, and how much of it is that Witches' Brew (made with Michigan wine) must be sweeter than the Glühwein I drank with my German tandem partner at the Christmas market in Freiburg. My friend Jeff, who also studied in Freiburg and was my Ireland travel buddy, among many trips, is back in Germany as a Fulbright teaching assistant. He has already been to a Weihnachtsmarkt. I'm jealous, but also...isn't it still November?

How's the Glühwein in Osnabrück, Jeff? The people need to know.

Just Fucking Do It, and Be Nice About It

I think just fucking do it is self-explanatory. It's not always easy, but once I'm motivated, most things in life are pretty straightforward. It's getting to the point where I commit that's hard. In the future, I would like to just do the task at hand instead of working myself up a mountain in preparation for simply jumping off the cliff. What I mean is: once I've started the sentence, I have to complete it. Once I'm holding the cats' toothbrush, I'm going to grab someone's face and shove it in there. (Yep. The cats' toothbrush.) To reach the point where it's effortless, I've been trying to build momentum by bringing myself to the edge of the cliff repeatedly and immediately throwing myself into the abyss every time.

Maybe you didn't realize that asking questions of superiors was such an undertaking—that just means we're different kinds of people.

Last night, I was at the restaurant I work at for a short shift. I knew I'd have enough time to work out afterward, and this time, I even remembered to grab my shorts and sneakers when I left my apartment. I told multiple coworkers that this was my plan, and they held me to it. When I left work at 9:15, I headed west instead of east, and then I had no choice. I didn't go home; I exercised; it was good.

That one was actually pretty painless, but if I'm at home in my pajamas, going to the gym can sound like a huge chore. I need to work on framing it better, like Emma and I used to do. Sure, we complained and avoided it a lot, but we were also proud of the hours we put in at the gym and talked about our new lifestyle constantly. Working out is actually relaxing, and it's selfish time, time devoted to bettering oneself. I'm lucky to have the time and the means to spend an hour at the gym, and maybe to relax in the sauna afterward. Though it can be boring to exercise alone, it's not that boring, and afterward I always feel accomplished. So I should just fucking do it.

Be nice about it is about controlling one's life-narrative, and that was going to be in the title—perfect lifestyle/motivational blogger lingo—but then in my Gchat conversation with Emma I caught myself about to complain that I needed to pee, even though I'm across the hall from the bathroom, and I was like, just deal with it, dummy. (Which doesn't quite mesh with being nice about it, but sometimes the truth hurts.) Anyway, controlling the narrative. My favorite bloggers often mention the importance of writing your own story, staying "accountable to [your] own story." They blog to remember and frame the changes and accomplishments in their lives; in turn, the blog motivates them to do more things that are, you know, worth blogging about. Which isn't to say that this kind of blogging should be all positive. In the five years that this blog has existed, I've realized that glossing over or completely leaving out the things I don't think I want to share or remember doesn't necessarily make the whole "story" more fun or upbeat, and doesn't really make me feel better about them. For example: it's easy to dismiss two years of employment at a fast casual restaurant, because really, show me a college graduate who wants that job. On the other hand, that experience wasn't meaningless to me. That was two years of my life.

So by "being nice," I mean that I'm trying to conceptualize my life in a way that is fair. To stop pushing past elements that really matter to me in a big way. To stop needlessly justifying behaviors that get in the way of my happiness, and instead be more realistic in my day-to-day goals—and more imaginative and precise in the longer-term. The words I think and say make a difference in my life. When I catch up with friends, I say these sentences again and again, updating each person in turn. I spend most of every day working silently by myself, so I repeat these thoughts to myself, too. Words can be dangerous.

*  *  *
I took a pretty big risk in October. If it didn't pay off, life would go on; if it did pay off 100%, I could have ended up with a full-time job that paid at least 50% more than my current jobs. What happened was this: through a friend, I had the opportunity to interview for a temporary position at the university. The interviewer and I discussed how I was ready to move on to something new, and how I thought I could gain valuable experience at the new position. I was offered the job on the spot, and I accepted it, knowing that I could apply for a related permanent position. To accept this job, though, I had to stop working at the law firm, where I had been for two years and where they even had started to pay me on holidays. The new job is thirty hours a week, compared to the law firm's twenty. And it pays better! The plan made my boyfriend a little nervous. It made my mom very nervous, I think, but for my mom, I always put a good spin on things.

I did think it through. Even if I didn't get the job, I would have more experience working at the university, which would help me secure a better university job in the future. I could reasonably bargain for higher pay at future positions, though I might not get it. In the meantime, I would keep working at my other university job (only nine hours a week) and at the restaurant, so I wouldn't be totally unemployed if the new job didn't work out. I also decided to save that extra 50% per hour, the pay bump that won me over on the whole thing, in case I didn't get enough hours come December or January. (I would much rather being spending those dollars on fun things!)

From the vantage point of the interview, it wasn't a horrible plan. I kept telling people, oh, if it doesn't work out, at least I have these other two jobs and this money saved! I said that so many times, though, that I started to think that it was this new job, or nothing. If they didn't hire me on permanently, I was doomed to being a restaurant host thirty hours a week for the rest of my life, and blow through my meager savings.

False. I get like fifty new job notifications every week. I'll find something, and I don't have to settle immediately. This is an opportunity to change my day-to-day life. And it will be okay.

But for a while there, I was getting truly panicky because I had presented my future as a binary where I was either offered a permanent position that I increasingly didn't think I wanted, or I was (much more likely) only going to be making $900 a month, working all the weekends, unable to do anything fun. I guess I can't really explain how my positive spin on the situation turned around and freaked me out so thoroughly, but it did. Maybe I secretly thought it was a terrible plan—once I started freaking out about it, that's what I was saying to my boyfriend every night—and the panic just had to break through.

In any case, I really don't want to spend the money I'm saving now on rent next year. I really want to find a better job that is somewhat appealing to me. So that is what I am going to do (if I don't run away to the woods first).

If You've Never Stared Off into the Distance Then Your Life Is a Shame

What if this was my view every morning when I got stepped out my front door?
I guess it would mean that I had moved in with my Aunt Kathy. Also, there would probably be fog, but that's not the point. The point is that this is a great view, and you could have a great staycation if you lived in the Santa Cruz hills. (I think this qualifies as a pretty good hill, right?) I'm all about staycations right now, as of last night. Since I don't get that many days off, especially in a row, I pretty much only justify taking them when there is a capital Reason I can't be at work.

I haven't just said, "Fuck it," and stayed home to catch up/sleep in/avoid all obligations since college ended. Granted, I've slept in until 11am back when I usually didn't start work until 1pm, or I've gone back to bed at 11am, which is also not the greatest idea but is sometimes Necessary. But except for one time when I called in sick because I hadn't eaten in days and felt awful, I haven't just skipped out on everything. And so as of last night, when I was freaking out about something, although I thought it was before I started the health insurance application, I desperately want a staycation.

I did book plane tickets to Florida in the winter. That is a vacation, not a staycation, but it will be great. One benefit of my temp job that is ending soon is that maybe I'll be mostly-unemployed for a while! This is mainly a problem, but it would be nice if I could arrange to also not work the other jobs for a patch of time so I could...reorganize my closet again? Spend every morning in the sauna at the Y?

No, no, it's all a dream. It would only be great to be unemployed if I got a severance package and unemployment checks. For a little bit. And then a great new job!

I'm not going to quit my jobs all at once for no reason. I'm too responsible and scared. But I have been wishing for some sort of job that would conveniently end in time for a great road trip across the country, or backpacking trip across Europe, or anything that presents me with a big patch of glorious time to myself that I could fritter away but can't fill with something boring and pointless like scanning course evaluations from the late eighties and early nineties for two work days. (What a job.) The motivational bloggers of the internet are always saying that you should do the things you think about doing all the time, because there's a reason you're thinking them. If I did that, my life would be all over the place and completely impossible because I think too many different things.

I think I would quit my jobs after Christmas, when I realized there weren't enough hours to work at the restaurant, and move to the wilderness with several tons of cat food and litter, my down coat and a great sleeping bag, and an adorable tiny house all in naked wood and light, bright colors. And then spring would climb up the mountains and the three of us would reach enlightenment.

Well, no. But the forest would be pretty great.
 I hope you enjoyed this babbling, and this California sunshine.

On the Plus Side, My Bed Is Comfy

I started my health care application today. It is not geared toward people with temporary income, and of course, my most temporary job, which will have ended before my insurance coverage begins, pays at least 50% more than all other jobs I've had in the past two years. So that's screwing up the data.

Also I am scared of this temporary job ending, and what I am supposed to do with myself, day in, day out*, for the rest of my life, and also, everything, always. So I'm gonna say that attempting to apply for health insurance was good enough for now, and goodnight, world, I'm gonna be sleepy tomorrow.

*Or as Estorbo de la Bodega Dominicana would say, "dayeen, dayoud"—I've been reading 66 Square Feet for a year and a half, but only noticed her cat's blog (which actually came first) two days ago. I love it and wish that our fake cat narratives were as well-rounded as hers.

Welcome to My Bathroom

Table Cat's favorite game is Shower-Attack. He'll even do it when you're in the shower.

Please excuse my wastebasket.
It's pretty decent, right? Especially by dim light at night, but also by day with the sun coming through the yellow leaves on the trees. (I pulled down the blind for the night right after I took these photos, don't worry.) But the bathroom needs some decoration other than the shower curtain (although it's doing a great job). (Maybe this or this—I love her stuff.)
Cooper and I decided we needed a serious portrait, a painting, to hang in the spot next to the mirror. Someone, you know, worthy of sharing a wall with Cooper's visage. Something serious, because it would be funny to hang in the bathroom. He suggested Margaret Thatcher, which lead to Jane's cat, Maggie, who Cooper wanted to name Gertie (Gertrude Stein), which then lead Jane to suggest an artist who does portraits of cats from photos. How about Haroun and Table, as ship captains, facing their own litter box and the human toilet? I didn't know what to suggest, exactly, but I brought up Cooper's taco-cart fantasy, even though I've already done it and I'm not into bringing majestic Table Cat into that universe. Anyway. That's one idea we have.

I also want to buy a clock. Specifically, the middle one, from Ikea. I think it's so shiny and retro in such a good way. But obviously, that sort of clock doesn't go in a living room. We already have the microwave clock in the kitchen. And it's not appropriate for the bedroom, either, though I was thinking about getting a real alarm clock (one option is on the left) so that I could put a bedroom-phone-ban into place. 

So I suggested we hang the Ikea Pugg clock in our bathroom—probably pretty high up on the wall above the cabinet. That way I could keep track of the time as I'm getting ready in the morning, and add something else to the room without buying more art (not that I've bought any art yet, sshh). But Cooper thinks it's weird. I'm not sure that it's normal, but my family had a wall clock in the bathroom when I was growing up. We still do. It's nice to know what time it is.

Another option is something small that would sit on that bathroom cabinet opposite the little Knubbig lamp, like the silly clock on the right. I think that would look okay. But I'd rather it not be so roman-numeraled and scroll-y, maybe. I don't know.

What do you think about (wall) clocks in bathrooms? Is this even remotely a thing that people think about?

Money Money Money

My favorite thing I read today was this post on the Billfold about how the author had a big windfall and put $5,000, the maximum she could deduct from her taxes, into a college savings account for her future child. Who may or may not ever exist. Or maybe for herself to use for grad school. Or maybe to give her future niece or nephew. (You can even just withdraw it for general use, for a 10% penalty.)

And it's tax-free!

I didn't know anything about college funds before reading this post, really, besides that I didn't have one, and my best friend did. But hers was through the State of Michigan, and so, although it was great for her to go to school with all the tuition covered, it limited her options quite a bit. With a 529, you can use it anywhere!

After reading the Billfold for over a year (is it almost two years? I don't know!) it was surprising to think this was something I hadn't already heard much about. They covered Roth and traditional IRAs, plenty of times. (It's one of my New Year's resolutions for 2013 to open my Roth IRA, and I finally have enough money to do so, depending on the bank!) Of course, you're supposed to make sure you can plausibly retire before putting all your money into a college fund, because (government) students loans (awful as they are) aren't as bad as just being broke and unemployed and old.

Bleh. Anyway, everyone should read the Billfold if they like reading about how people live and very low-key explanations of money matters, and having an open and useful attitude about said matters!

If I Were Truly Rich...

...I guess I probably wouldn't really appreciate the full scope of this fantasy anymore. But being able to buy something beautiful upon first impulse—okay, I can't really imagine myself doing that, but maybe the second time I felt that little ache of wanting—and just take it home and enjoy it? From here, it sounds amazing.

I know I want many more things than I need. And I know that if I had a better paying job, I would be tempted to spend all the extra money and not even really notice that it had changed. But it's nice to dream. And of course, in the fantasy of newfound wealth, I'm shopping at Anthropologie.
I want this tablecloth that I couldn't possibly need, because no one on the planet needs a tablecloth (or wait, is there a situation where this is truly important?). It's circular, but so is the blue cotton one in a Provençale print that used to be Emma's mom, and so I'd place it, like I do that one, on the square dining table we keep crammed in the corner in our reasonably-sized, but poorly laid-out, kitchen. The ambience in there isn't perfect, but I would turn off the overhead lamp and set out a few candles—white tapers and votives, and then some beeswax ones as well to add some color. I'd put them in my cheap glass holders from Ikea, and the candlelight, along with the small lamp over the kitchen sink, would be perfect.

But instead, I'm putting extra money into savings for when one of my jobs, the most temporary position, ends. I'm saving for future cat veterinary expenses, I'm saving for when I have to refill my prescriptions (possibly one more time before January 1st, when I should have health insurance again), I'm paying my loans and then I'm buying new tights, and clothes for work, and decor that will make a bigger impact than an occasional tablecloth. Photo prints, rugs, new lamps. There's so many things we could add to the apartment, and it's really fun (for me, not Cooper). I wish I could do it all, but until then, I'm thinking about this tablecloth about two times a week. It's basically like I own it.