Monday, December 13, 2010

Best Advice I Didn't Take-- Part 1

Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep
it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.
--Harvey MacKay

Don't live your life according to someone else's schedule.
Do you ever feel like your life is being influenced by the pressures of others? The average American follows a very specific timeline, and we are made to believe that deviating from this timeline can impact our success. It all starts when we are children. We go to primary school for 5 yrs, then middle school for 3 yrs, and finally high school for 4 yrs.

Then, once you have that short sweet taste of freedom with your diploma in your hand, it is time for the next step. College. There is pressure from all levels of society to go to college immediate after high school (or risk forfeiting your scholarships and possibly your future). Let's be honest, what 18 year old is ready to make the life altering decision of choosing a trade immediately after high school? On average, college students change their major 3 times! 80% change their major at least once. Clearly, these statistics show some reluctance.

Then after college, it isn't over! It's time to get a job. And not just any job-- one that will move you towards a "career." Any later life career changes could set you back time and income. College doesn't prepare you for a career. It prepares you for academic thinking and fills you with book learning. Most jobs are a little more hands-on. So, what will you do with that college major in English? Book publisher, librarian, teacher, business, etc. What about your degree in psychology? Are you going to continue your education and become a psychiatrist? a social worker? or will you join corporate America, working your way up the food chain? Heaven forbid you take a year off and work at a ski lodge or try your hand at numerous jobs.

Then, comes marriage between 24-30 and kids between 27-32. Not everyone is ready to get married by 30, and some people are ready to get married at 20.

The point of my rant being. Everyone must come to things in their own time. Don't let yourself feel pressure because of what other people think of you. I got married at 22, and I am happy. A few people judged me for it, but I don't care. I have a friend that graduated college and postponed several prestigious law school acceptances to work at a national park for a year. She has never been happier. So, just live your life.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Barbie isn't a Bitch

Barbie - Bratz Showdown

When did Bratz start trying to step in and replace Barbie as top doll?!

Yes, I see the complaint that Barbie is "too perfect." She is thin with blonde hair and erm big boobs (there is just no polite way to say it). However, I think parents have done Barbie an injustice. They *gasp* judged Barbie by her appearance.

Barbie is awesome. She is pretty, well-liked by her peers, and constantly following her dreams. Barbie is always clean cut and conservatively dressed. Barbie must be a good friend since she has so many. She isn't prejudiced. All of her friends look different. Barbie is a one man woman. Her boyfriend Ken is an upstanding guy and always by her side. Barbie is also also well educated. She has been a teacher, a doctor, a veterinarian, etc.

Then along came the alleged savior of children from Barbie's crappy example... Bratz dolls.

But alas, the Bratz are far worse. I mean look at this piece of trailer trash. She looks like Sandy from Greese. She's wearing a freaking cat suit. They all have strangely disproportionate heads, big lips (not unlike Angelina Jolie's freak show), excessive makeup, and revealing clothing. There are several Bratz dolls: Cloe, Jade, Sasha, and Yasmin. Unfortunately, they were all given stripper names.... On the plus side, they are all of different races. Other than that, they have the exact same body type.
Barbie Pros:
Boy Dolls
Different Races and Appearances (since 1968)
Appropriate clothing

Barbie Cons:
One body type
Main doll is stereotypical beauty
Possibly materialistic (she has a lot of clothing/houses/shoes)

Bratz Pros:
Different Races

Bratz Cons:
Excessive Makeup
Racy Clothes

Interesting Facts:
The American Psychological Association has expressed concern over Bratz oversexualization and its impact on children.

"On December 21, 2006, the National Labor Committee announced that the factory workers in China, who make Bratz dolls, labor for 94½ hours a week, while the factory pays only $0.515 an hour, $4.13 a day. The per doll amount is $0.17. The retail price for a single doll ranges between $9.99 to $22.99, depending on the included items and specific retailer." -- Wikipedia

In 2005 figures showed that sales of Barbie dolls had fallen by 30% in the United States, and by 18% worldwide, with much of the drop being attributed to the popularity of Bratz dolls. -- Wikipedia

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pervasive Potter

What recent college grad doesn't love Harry Potter?!

This book is an indispensable part of our generation. We grew up with Harry. When he started school at Hogwarts, we were with him. As he struggled with childhood problems, such as bullies, misunderstandings, mean teachers, and friendship, so did we.

However, the most noticeable change in the series, and an essential part of growing up, isn't the world changing or circumstances but the way in which we perceive it. We all started off childlike and innocent in a world where everything was black and white and good and evil, but just like Harry we had to come to terms with the fact that we live in shades of gray.

Is Severus Snape good or evil? He is cruel and nasty to Harry throughout most of the series; yet, he saves Harry's life on numerous occasions. As a young man, he was even more selfish and arrogant than he is as an adult. These characteristics are what led Severus willing to the the ranks of the Death Eaters. One day, Severus makes the unforgivable error of selling out his previous best friend and his unrequited childhood love, Lily Evans, to his master. It is then that his humanity, his ability to feel love and pain, brings him back to the light.

Draco Malfoy also begins the series as a villain. He teases and bullies Harry at every given opportunity. As an older student, Malfoy reaches a crux. He has been given the task of killing Dumbledore and letting Death Eaters in the castle. If he fails to complete his task, both he and his family may be killed. Draco struggles with this decision-- self preservation versus immorality. Yet, Draco is not wholly bad. He lets Death Eaters into the castle but fails to be able to follow through with his orders. He can't kill. Draco may be a selfish snob, but he is not evil. He is only human. Harry's growth in the series is truly shown in his ability to forgive Draco for his past transgressions. In the final book, despite Draco's affiliation with Death Eaters, Harry elects to save his life at the risk of his own.

In the far more eloquent words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, "If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

To me, this is what makes the Harry Potter series not just a children's series but a true examination of life, not just extraordinary but ordinary. What makes Harry such a believable hero is that he is so ordinary. He is not the best wizard in his class. He has no extraordinary gifts. He only has convictions bought from the sacrifice of his parents. It is the loss he feels in his life-- the missed opportunities for family, friendship,and love-- that often drive him forward. Ron, Hermione, the Weasley family, Hagrid, etc ease this suffering, but also give him the means to understand what was taken from him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Pitfalls of Pets

After college, you probably moved. Moving is rough. Suddenly, you are in a new place. You don't know many people. Heck, you may not know anyone! Or maybe you didn't move far (or at all), but you are living alone for the first time and missing your college roommate.

One thing is for sure. You probably feel anxious and lonely.

Then, one day you pass a pet store. The cute kittens meow and stretch. The puppies bark and look at you with big open eyes. "Take me home. I'm cute and will love you unconditionally," they implore you. Without thinking, you buy your first pet.

Uhoh. THINK AGAIN, Sucker!

Now, you are stuck with a brand new puppy that isn't housebroken or trained. Your new job is 9 to 5, and you can't get out to walk said puppy every 2 hours. Your puppy is lonely in your home and misses you and its pack mates. So to rid himself of that anxiety, he destroys your house. Your beautiful new big-kid stuff is ruined, and you are definitely going to lose that deposit.

At night, while you are trying to capture that elusive full night's rest, your puppy howls, barks, or cries. The neighbors are pissed, and no amount of makeup can conceal the hideousness that is your face. Not to mention, your dog eats more than you do! And he needs shots. Lots of shots. And of course, if you don't want MORE puppies, he needs to be fixed. In the words of the Grinch (if he work a tax accountant), "If there's one thing I hate, all the bills, bills, bills, BILLS!"

So, think carefully my friends before you fall victim to the precious eyes of a poodle.

Evidence 1:
This may or may not be my living room. And might I add, the only piece of carpeting in the entire place. Yes, that's right. There are 11 poops.

Evidence 2:
Before and After

Who me?

Termites, I swear.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tips for Using CareerBuilder Effectively

Tips on how to stay ahead of the herd on CareerBuilder from someone who spends most of their day looking for candidates that fit job openings.

  1. Do not use the anonymous feature. Few recruiters or employers are going to bother to try to contact you in this asinine way. Instead, they are going to contact someone else with your experience and background that didn't choose this feature.
  2. Make sure your resume can be downloaded as a file. If I can't download your resume as a .doc, it means I am going to have to copy and paste it into a word document. This way I can pass your information along to my superiors. Many recruiters will lose interest at this point, especially if you are in a common field.
  3. Check your spelling. You can have all the experience in the world, but if you misspell your name on your resume, no one is going to hire you.
  4. Make the title of your resume your career field, not your name. For instance, I want to see Administrative Assistant 10+ yrs as your resume title when I search, not Kathy Bates. Now, on your actual resume, your name should obviously be at the top.
  5. When you upload your resume, your name should be the file name. It should read KathyBates.docx.
  6. Pick a simple, normal resume style that is easily navigable. Use headers, such as education, work experience, etc. Put your name and contact info at the top. Don't mess with the classics. Don't use graphics unless you are a graphic designer. Please, please do not use graphics from Microsoft Word.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The British are Coming! The British are Coming!

This weekend my parents are finally coming to visit my husband and me. This is the first time my mom will see our townhouse, and the first time my dad will see it while not moving furniture.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but I want their approval. I want them to see that I'm a real person with a real house living in a new city and that I'm succeeding. Silly, yes. But true.

When I moved into my 2nd apartment in college, while my roommate's mother was preoccupied with decorating and cleaning, my mom was busy spying the view from the back porch. She was very concerned about the rather meager housing and the fact that people were all gathered on the porch rather than out working. I told her not to worry about it. After all, it was probably just lunch hour. (Granted, her assessment was totally correct. A meth lab blew up in one of the houses a year later, thought I certainly never told her that.) My new place isn't near a meth lab, but I'm still not sure it's going to get the stamp of approval.

Also, in college, on sheer principle, my parents would never stay in my apartment for more than an hour absolute tops. (I tricked them once by making dinner, but alas it was never to be replicated.) I think never staying in the apartment for long was their way of expressing the denial that anywhere other than where they lived could be "home."

So, of course, I've been talking up cleaning all week. Yet, here we are on Thursday, and it's not going so well. I threw my lower back out (I know what you are thinking. I thought she was 20 something not 80), and my husband is a little resistant to picking up the slack. I've got a lot of extra furniture standing around as well as a lot of trash. Uh oh.

48 hours and counting.

Friday, October 29, 2010

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

"This Halloween the most popular mask is the Arnold Schwarzenegger mask. And the best part? With a mouth full of candy you will sound just like him."
- Conan O'Brien

Personally, I disagree with Conan. I was really thinking about flash mobbing a friend's home with the masks from V for Vendetta instead, but I guess his idea is more politically correct...

Nonetheless, today, I came to the sad realization that I have no Halloween plans. When I was in college, I didn't need to make plans because everyone was going to be out at the bars and house parties. All I had to do was show up and make a few calls. However, here I am on the day before Halloween, and I've just realized the gaping hole in my plans... I have none. Sure, the adorable neighborhood children have already informed me they are coming to my house "first." Oh boy! But seriously, after I give out some candy (in my non-costume), I've got zilch.

So, having no better plans in mind, I have come to the monumentous decision that I will.... wait at a local farm in hopes of spying the GREAT PUMPKIN! In the words of Linus, "There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

We literally eat our money!

"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake. I feel better already."
- Dave Barry

If there was one thing I didn't expect when I got out on my own, it was how much money my husband and I would spend on groceries and out at restaurants!

My husband, who's actually quite fit, can eat and eat. When I finish a meal, I simply slide my plate forward, allowing him to devour whatever is left. Our 60 pound sheepadoodle, can really down it too. We're talking 8 lbs a week. And of course, there is my ever-so-mild addiction to anything chocolate or coffee.

Of course, my husband and I started out on a budget, but soon realized, we were having some...err... minor issues sticking to the food part. The truth is we wanted our cake and to eat it too!

So, here are the tricks we've learned:
1. Groupon. I can't say enough about Groupon. If you are lucky enough to have your city featured on this website, then there is a great daily deal. If you are interested and enough people agree to take the deal, then it is yours. It usually is like $5 for $10 worth of food at XYZ Restaurant. It also has local attractions and stores occasionally as well.

2. Living Social. Similar to Groupon. Featured cities have daily deals on restaurants.

3. Coupons. In the newspaper. In the mail. Online. They're everywhere.

4. Gift Cards. You can buy gift cards to your favorite restaurants online for discounted amounts. Buying a $50 Starbucks card for $40 will save you 20%.

5. Drink water. When you go out to eat, drink water. It's not always fun, but it's free!

6. Share. When we want a quick meal out, the husband and I split. At Chik-fil-a, one of us orders a sandwich and one a combo, then we share the fries and lemonade. It's a great deal and saves us some calories too!

Anyone else have any awesome tips to share?