Tuesday, September 22, 2009
On Craigslist, you can get a pet, meet a guy, buy a bike, rent a room, sell a couch, get a job etc. all in the span of fifteen minutes. Seriously, what did we do before Craigslist? I know it’s gotten a bad rap as of late with the whole “Craigslist Killer” debacle, and coming from a purely marketing standpoint only, I can’t say for sure if I’d be thrilled if there was a “Stiff Niffles Killer” on the loose. (But imagine what it would do to my Site Meter Stats!) Bottom line is that Craigslist is a RESOURCE my friends, and it needs to be utilized to its fullest potential in order to be appreciated.
This past weekend I was looking through the part time, freelance job listings on the site to see if I could find an open position to help me supplement my income. I was looking for something vastly different than my current job, in that it would entail little or no work, and would pay me a lot of money to do it. All I want is less work to do, more time to do it, and more pay for not getting it done. That's all I ask. Imagine my surprise when I came across the following ad:
XXX Company is seeking engaged and enthusiastic Internet users with a little bit of free time.
Okay. That’s definitely me. Reading on…..
The ideal candidate is an Internet junkie – accustomed to the worlds of blogging, online content sharing, and social networking…
Wait… WHAT? Having a Facebook page is a plus?
This person is bright (well if I do say so myself), probably a college graduate, communicative, and willing to take on strange challenges.
Strange challenges? Okay, I'm intrigued.
This person probably already spends a fair amount of time procrastinating on the Internet, often at work or school, and is ready to channel that activity into paid work.
SHUT THE F*CK UP.
This is a freelance, work-from-home-or-wherever position; there is no contract, nor is there a minimum or maximum amount of submissions. If this sounds like you, let us know! Along with your cover letter and resume, please feel free to include one link to a piece of media online (video, photo, text, etc.
Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold up just a goddamned second! Procrastinate on the internet? Find obscure internet media to share? Get paid to do what I already do for free?
I couldn’t respond fast enough.
Submitting a resume in itself posed an interesting challenge. See, I’ve crafted a lot of winning cover letters in my time. I find them fairly easy to compose, and I’ve learned what it takes to separate myself from the pack of “as you will see by my attached resume, I feel my past experience in (obscure corporate position) would greatly benefit your organization” textbook job applicants. But this one was hard! How on earth do you compose a cover letter in which you tout how adept you are at wasting time on the internet to a company that might potentially want to hire you? I decided that honesty was the best policy and went with a professional but mildly funny “Are my eyes deceiving me?” sort of approach. I still wasn’t sure if this was an internet hoax or not, and a part of me was fully expecting a return email in broken English from someone claiming to be a prince of a Middle Eastern nation looking for me to cash a check for him.
Nevertheless I took the gamble. I crafted my response, sent my resume with attached funny media clip, and patiently waited.
The following day I received an email back from the Director of Media Content of XXX company. He was impressed with my use of the word “meandering” in my cover letter, which I used in the sentence “while meandering about the internet this morning, I came across your job posting”. I was as proud as a peacock at being acknowledged for my use of a ten dollar word, and rightfully told him so. Thus began my rigorous interview process in which I was asked to send along a few more pieces of media content per his description, describe in detail exactly how much time per day I spend dallying about the internet, and so forth. Of course, being the cynical gal that I am, I took the time to fully research the company via my expert skills in e-stalking, and to my delight I found that it is in fact a REAL COMPANY. No middle eastern wire transfers necessary. Shortly thereafter I was offered a freelance position with the company, which I happily accepted.
As of this moment, I’m reading through all the paperwork that was sent to me upon my acceptance, and thought I’d take a break and type up a quick blog about my new career. The way I see it, why NOT get paid for doing what I already do for free? It's almost not worth it to NOT do it (Yes, there's a double negative in that sentence but I assure it still makes sense. READ IT AGAIN.) Even if it amounts to a measly ten bucks a month it's worth it. Forward funny emails? Watch hilarious videos on Youtube? Find obscure internet clips? Get paid for it? Obviously Jesus loves me, and that’s that.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I waited my turn and hesitantly walked up the cashier, feeling a little out of place and said – “Hi ma’am, can you recommend a good, fun two dollar scratch ticket?” The woman behind the counter sized me up, made a quick, cursory glance to my right pinky finger that was devoid of the telltale metallic ink smudge, and knew right then and there that she had a scratch ticket virgin standing before her. She then turned her back to me to scan the neat rows of scratch tickets, and I did what I thought all scratch ticket people did and yelled “Hey toots! Pick me a good one, will ya?!” She threw me a dirty look, and handed me my ticket. I looked down and saw that it was a Bingo ticket. I made my purchase, got my change and left.
Something inside me changed when I walked out the door holding that ticket. Oh my god I thought, I could be holding A MILLION FREAKING DOLLARS RIGHT NOW!” (Editors Note: the maximum win on a Bingo ticket is $20,000 but I had no idea. Nor did it matter, really. The bottom line is, it was FREE MONEY). I went home, put my things away and sat down and studied “my ticket to the good life”. I couldn’t read the directions fast enough. I had three, neat rows of nine “calling numbers” on the left and four individual Bingo squares on which to play those numbers. I neatly scratched off the four “free” spaces in the middle and commenced my game. I scratched the first number B-12 and discovered that I had a B-12 on each square!! “This is too easy!”, I thought to myself “Like taking candy from a baby!”. Ten minutes later I had finished my game and I had won $10 – Which amounted to A FIVE TIME RETURN on my original investment. I was hooked.
I promptly sent Matt back to the store for more tickets. We decided that we’d take my winnings, he’d invest an additional two dollars, and we’d get three tickets each. Whatever we won (which would be A LOT) we’d split, right down the middle. His father is a financial advisor, so we’d be covered on that front. We’d hire a lawyer if we had to; maybe even elect a family spokesperson to handle all the publicity. We’d figure out the details later. Anyway, Matt returned a few minutes later with our tickets. He got three more Bingo’s for me, and some other kind for himself. Within 30 seconds he had scratched all his and won nothing. A half hour later I was done with mine and I had also won nothing. That is, until Matt looked at mine again, scratched off the middle part that tells you your prize and informed me that I had actually won $15!! I had missed a few numbers somewhere along the line or something like that. I really had no idea how I won, but alas… I did! True to my word I promised him that I’d give him his $7.50 the next evening.
Next day comes, and I go to a new store to cash in our winnings. I get my $15 and decide I’ll take my half of the investment and buy three more. I scratch them and a half hour later I’ve won nothing. I take a second look at each of them to be sure, and ten minutes after that I’m SURE I’ve won nothing. Now I’m pissed. I decide I’ll take Matt’s half of the investment and get more, and just pay him back from whatever I win. This time I win a measly two dollars. I put the $2 ticket in my wallet to cash in later and head home. Defeated. I decide I’m definitely cashing it in, taking my $2 and never looking back… my torrid love affair with scratch tickets is OVER.
Later on I must face my boyfriend and tell him that I’ve spent all of our winnings with nothing to show for it. Matt jokingly asks me where his $7.50 is and I tell him “well Matt, we took some risks today.” What do you mean, he asks? “Well, these things don’t always pan out quite how we’d like them to. I was hoping for a better return on our investment, but with the market the way it is… sadly that wasn’t the case for us today.” So you spent it all on Bingo tickets, he asks? Yes I did, Matt. Yes I did. I’m so ashamed.
I’ve never been a gambler. Not even close. The biggest gamble I ever make is writing a check for $150 to Shaw’s for groceries on a Sunday when I have less than that in my bank account. If I made it until Thursday (payday) without them cashing the check, then I won. I’ve been to Vegas twice and spent a combined $20 each time on slots. The only reason I spent that $20 to begin with is so that I could fool the bartender into giving me free drinks while I “played”. When my winnings were more than my original investment, I’d immediately cash out. I had a bunch of slips to cash in when the trip was over, none totaling more than $5. But I won. I was still “up”. I don’t see the enjoyment of having my hard earned money stolen from me, under the guise of “fun”! What’s fun about that? But something about these tickets was actually fun for me! Each one took about ten minutes to play (thus delaying my disappointment), and I was really just enjoying the game of Bingo itself. The winning money part was a bonus, a bonus that meant I COULD BUY MORE BINGOS.
Later on the next night I go to the convenience store for cigarettes and I remember that I have a winning ticket in my purse. I decide to cash it in, put the $2 towards my purchase and be done with it. Then I watch as the customer in front of me buys a Bingo lottery ticket. I’m momentarily stunned… "Oh my god, that woman’s going to spend the next ten minutes playing my game! WTF, those are MY tickets! What if she wins the money that is rightfully mine?!" Standing before the cashier, something tells me that the next ticket WILL BE the winning one. I decide to re-invest my winning $2 ticket, plus an additional $2 from the change of my purchase for good measure. I win $25. And so it goes.
I won’t get into the lurid details of my binge, but suffice it to say the next morning when Matt woke me up, I felt oddly hung-over. I blinked and took notice of my surroundings. My bed was covered in metallic shavings, there were tickets strewn about, and my pinky has the telltale metallic smudge of a night spent begging for B-14’s, O-56’s and cover-alls. I had a flashback to the night before when I ran to 7/11 right before midnight, elbowing my way through drug dealers and strippers from the gentleman’s club next door so that I could cash in my tickets before midnight. I shake off the vision as Matt asks me if I want anything from Dunkin Donuts. I groggily tell him to “GO GET MORE BINGOS”. His dismayed look does not go unnoticed.
Today I stand before you, proud to admit that I haven’t scratched a ticket in three days. A full week ago today I bought my first ticket, and all told on my four day binge I probably spent a measly $20. But that measly $20 was MY $20, and I earned it fair and square dealing with stupid customers and even stupider employees. I could have bought twenty McChickens, two and a half packs of Marlboro's, or three six packs of Sam Adams Light with that $20. If that doesn't put things into perspective for you, I don't know what will. Simply put, I do not have room for any more vices in my life, and I’m pretty happy to stick with the few that I have now. Of couse, if I happen to get a Bingo as a Christmas present or if someone else happens to decide to buy one for me, I’ll happily play it, and then cash in the winnings, but I’m not spending MY OWN hard earned money on them anymore.
Friday, September 11, 2009
I read this somewhere recently and it’s so true: You can’t always put your finger on exactly when it’s going to happen, but there comes a time in your workday when you realize that you’re just not going to be doing anything that even remotely resembles work for the remainder of the day. Sometimes it happens after lunch (especially lunch of the liquid variety), and sometimes you’re so focused on the task at hand that it doesn’t happen at all. It’s elusive, that moment when non-productivity strikes. Today the moment hit me at about 8:00 a.m. I’ve been staring down at this spreadsheet for the last five hours, and I’ve made a combined ten minutes of progress on it. I keep telling myself I’ll buckle down right after this last cigarette break… or after I finish this quiz on facebook, etc. I'll start focusing on the spreadsheet and then I’ll hear the little chime signifying a new email, and like a five year old with ADD I’ll drop everything and furiously click open the window to my Outlook with the heady “ooh! New Email!” rush. So I’m conceding. You win procrastination! As always!
First off and foremost, I’d like to just take a moment to remember all of those who lost loved ones eight years ago today. Eight friggen years ago. Wow. Feels like just yesterday I was sitting in my second period class studying literature when a man burst in the room wearing a fireproof space suit with an oxygen mask. He yelled to all of us to drop everything, leave our personal belongings, and evacuate the premises immediately. Oh and then when all hell broke loose he added tactifully “oh, and don’t panic”. "Don’t panic" says the guy with the oxygen mask and space suit to the crowd of 20 year old kids fighting each other through the doorway with no clue as to what the fuck is going on or what they’re running from. They say every generation has a defining moment when tragedy struck where they remember exactly where they were and what they were doing. When JFK was shot, John Lennon was killed, when Milli Vanilli's back up vocal track started skipping, etc. My generation's moment is 9/11. I will never forget.
On to lighter topics. I had a really great night with my father the night after returning from my trip to Bermuda. Our father/daughter bonding isn’t very typical in that we spent the evening drinking 3 dollar drafts at the Elks Club. Per usual, my dad brought it to the bartender’s attention that he had forgotten once again to give him his senior citizen discount of 25 cents per beer. I then made the required “Hey buddy! Stop stealing my inheritance!” joke, and laughter erupted around the bar. It was great.
Sonny the rip-off bartender kept the beers flowing pretty steadily and before long we were both taking turns regaling each other with the requisite tales of our crazy youths. Different generations, same stories: crazy all night house parties, nights that turned into days, fake ID’s and acid trips. We traded techniques on the best way to smuggle a joint into our border countries (his Mexico, mine Canada), which coincidently was so much easier before 9/11. I love my dad. Soon the conversation turned a bit deeper. He shared with me the story of the loss of his idol, Dale Earnhardt and told me that he died protecting his son from another driver. I’ve never given a rat’s ass about Nascar, but my dad is a huge fan. Well, actually he HAS to be a Nascar fan. It’s a requirement of the trailer park – oh, excuse me, the “mobile home community” - that he lives in. I don’t know if it was also a requirement for him to purchase a quad and do donuts on his front lawn when I bring my boyfriend to his house for dinner, but he does it anyway. Then when I look embarrassed he taunts me in his thick Boston accent: "Come on Jenna! Just hop on I’ll take ya for a spin around the pahhhk! COME ON! Whattayou chicken? Yeah that’s it. She’s a chicken. She’s too uppity to ride on a four wheelah. She’s a big city girl now, wearing suits and stuff using that electronic mail on the computah. That ain’t my daughter. They must'a switched her at the hospital. I’ve been supportin’ someone else’s kid for all these years."
Let me tell you, my dad can tell a story. I sat there at the bar and listened to him talk for a good three hours, absolutely riveted by his words. The only interruption came when the bartender came to give us another round (“Don’t forget the discount this time Sonny, I know you’ve been pocketin' my quarters”). Eventually we started talking about his time in the service during the Vietnam War, most of which he spent as a Military Police Officer in Italy. As he was wrapping up his story he made mention about how he "wished he could go back to Italy someday before he died, although it's just not realistic because it's too damned expensive". Actually, it's more than just too damned expensive. My dad isn't in the greatest health, and among other illnesses he has degenerative disc disease which basically means he's in a near constant state of severe pain, even just sitting or standing. It’s debilitating, and he’s headed quickly towards being wheel chair bound. Chances are he would never be able to handle the plane ride to Italy itself, nevermind the fact that it's a more or less a country best seen by foot. Unfortunately, a trip to Italy is just unrealistic. Then again, since his health is as poor as it is, we both know that if there's something he wants to do in his life, he should go for it sooner rather than later.
We're both quiet for a moment, and finally I break the silence and ask: "Dad, is there anything else you'd like to do in your life?"
He looks at me for a minute before responding and says "You know Jenna, there's two things-- scratch that, THREE wishes I want granted before I die" So I ask him to tell me what they are and he starts counting off on his fingers: "One, I'd like to go back to Italy, but obviously it's out of the question but I'm including it because I said these were WISHES.” He counts off on his next finger “Two, I’d like to rent an RV and drive cross country, stopping along the way in Las Vegas to see Terry Fator perform at the Mirage.” So I ask who Terry Fator is and he says that he’s a ventriloquist that is absolutely amazing. He got an email forward that had a link to a video performance of his act, and since then he's become a huge fan. Then he tells me he’s never been to Vegas. “YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO VEGAS?” I ask, shocked! Nope, never been.
So I ask him what his third wish is. He takes a sip of beer before continuing, and counts off his third and final wish and says “I’d like to have a grandchild before I die”.
So it’s my turn to take a sip of beer before continuing. And then another.
And then finally I turn to him and say “So where can we rent an RV on the cheap?
Looks like we’re headed to Vegas!
Thursday, September 10, 2009
But I digress. I had an amazing time. Bermuda is really a fantastic little island, and I’m happy to be able to add it to my list of “Places On This Earth That Are So Much Better Than the Eight Months of Frozen Tundra Four Months of Rain, Hopefully Someday I Can Afford a Condo for Under a Million, State Full of Kennedy Worshipping, Bad Attitude People I call Home” Why do I still live in Massachusetts you ask? Well because I’d have nothing to bitch about if I left. That and because it's the greatest place on earth.
That’s not to say Bermuda doesn't have any negatives. For one, it's even MORE expensive than Boston. After spending five days there living like a Hilton, I’m literally afraid to look at my bank account balance. Nothing says “I can’t pay my rent this month!” like ordering two Corona’s, handing the bartender a $20, nodding at him to keep the change, and walking away feeling like a scumbag because you know you left him less than a dollar tip. I quickly learned that the best way to assuage this guilt was to start paying for stuff in Bermudian money. The exchange rate is pretty much the same as American, so you’re still spending the same amount only it doesn’t FEEL like real money because it’s just so purrrdy. Its pastel colored and has butterflies and froggies and dolphins on it. It's almost as if the head of the Bermudian Treasury Department is Lisa Frank herself. It makes me sad for our American money with the old guys looking up at you all stonefaced with wigs and shit. Our money is serious money. It ain't f*cking around with no butterflies or dolphins. It means business.
So I figured it's only right that I show you a couple of pictures I took while I was on vacation, but instead of showing you the stereotypical crop of pretty pictures of the ocean, the sunset, and the beach etc. etc. etc. to make you green with envy that I was there and YOU WEREN'T (na na na na na) I thought it would be more interesting to let you see the last five pictures I took before I lost my camera battery forever. Somewhere, somehow, someway I lost my my camera battery (along with my dignity, morals, gross motor skills, and the cutest pair of white cotton shorts EVER) while attending the wedding on Saturday night (did I mention it was open bar?), and since I didn’t have a spare battery I couldn't take anymore pictures for the rest of the night, nor could I view any of the ones I had already taken. The first look I got at the pictures I had taken was when I returned home on Monday and downloaded the pictures straight off the memory card to my laptop. So here you have it... the last five pictures I took on my Bermudian Vacation for your viewing pleasure:
EXHIBIT A: Blackness. Deep. Intense. Absymal. Sinister. I like to think this photograph is a reflection of the darkness within ALL of us. What is art? Is art, art? Are WE art?
(I'll make a bet that nobody can guess what movie that's from. Actually, scratch that. I'm a little sensitive to bets after that whole Laney Boggs for Prom Queen thing. "Am I a bet? Am I a F*CKING BET?"
EXHIBIT B: Ah, what have we here? Looks like a lovely moon pic! Well, actually it looks like a moon that's masquerading as a music note. That's definitely sand down below, and the music note moon is reflecting in the ocean, singing its tune to the fishies. (I kill me!) Gorgeous shot by the way. So therapeutic. I might lease the rights to microsoft to use as a screensaver.
EXHIBIT C: Hmmm.... seems my blood alcohol level was still relatively low enough for me to review Exhibit B above, and determine that it wasn't quite perfect just yet. So here's another moon shot, but this time it's brought to you by the letter "J". J for Jenn maybe? Anywho, I think I might have been on stairs here. Not really sure.
EXHIBIT D: I don't want to spend too much time on this one because it makes me seasick. Whatever it is, it appears that I was quite taken with the moment, and wanted to capture it on film to savor it forever. I'm sure glad I have this memory.
EXHIBIT E: Looks like I decided to join the party! I believe this is Matt's sister Jill on the left, and his mother on the right dancing up a storm at the wedding. I'm really happy I could capture such a beautiful mother/daughter moment. Maybe I should have it framed for them for Christmas.
So that's all folks. It's a damned shame I lost the battery when I did, because it would have been awfully cool to have a picture of the 31 wedding attendees (including the bride and groom) who descended into the ocean at 2:00 a.m. drunk and in their underwear* like something out of a bad horror movie.
*Didn't I tell you I left my dignity in Bermuda?
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
And a few short hours later, arriving here:Welcome to Bermuda!
Elbow Beach Hotel, Bermuda
For the next five days, I will be calling this place home:
And here is where I will spend most of my time during those five days:
Beautiful Elbow Beach
While in Bermuda, I plan on trying a few of their signature drinks:
The "Famous" Rum Swizzler
And spending an afternoon exploring the ocean via a Catamaran/Snorkel Cruise:
Ana-Luna Catamaran Tours
I also plan to explore the island itself via the preferred form of transportation:
Which means I will probably end up visiting this place at least once during my stay:
King Edward Hospital
And most importantly....
Come Saturday, I will wear this:My new White House Black Market dress I got on sale!
While on the arm of this handsome man:
And I'll probably have a few more of these:
Well, I gotta get back to (over) packing now! Catch ya'll on the flipside!