Science of the Selfie

“My face is my mask.”

Gump Worsley

Parading through life with a fake smile, my face has been my mask. When asked how I’m doing, my response has been I’m happy, masquerading as a fully functional adult. The stormy seas of my brain don’t allow me to show weakness. I stand stoic, brave and somber, letting on that nothing is or ever has been wrong. I place my fingers over this keyboard, dog in my lap, although he’s not a lap sized dog, and feel my fingertips pulse over the keys mindlessly. Nothing to see here, people, move along or take a picture, it will last a lot longer.

Which really got me thinking about selfies. Selfies ruined the world, and will continue to erode at the overall psyche of general social media using public. Am I guilty of taking maybe too many selfies in my life, yes. Will I stop, probably not. What is now a cultural norm was once an inner pride sort of feeling. Instead of having to shoot your face and show the world your accomplishment, we used to use words. Words. Text via hand written letter or even a phone call to people important to us, informing them of what had happened to warrant attention.

The following is a 100% fictitious conversation, I promise.

“Hey Mom, how are you doing today?”

“So-so, I had to go to the DMV today to renew my license and I failed the eye test.”

“No way, I’ve been failing that for years now. Be lucky that you’ve gotten by this long without glasses.”

“I know but, I guess it’s just a sign that I’m getting older, you know, my eye sight is going, what’s next?”

“Gee Mom, don’t think that way.”

“Well, your Grandmother was nearly blind when she got up there in years, and I remember how hard it was for her to get around and do anything. She wasn’t a burden on anyone, but it just made her so helpless, you know. She was such a proud woman when I was young, then to see her up in age, it just makes me realize that I’m getting sort of old too. I don’t mind wearing glasses, I actually always wanted them when I was young, I thought they looked cool.”

“Uh huh.”

“So I’m going to have to go to the eye doctor and they’re going to do that blow in the eye thing, I don’t know what it’s called, and I won’t be able to drive afterwards. I’ve never had it done, but I’ve hear from your Aunt Georgia that you can’t really focus or see anything at all. I’m afraid that will trigger some sort of panic attack in me. I saw a video on Facebook of a woman acting goofy after that eye thing, I don’t want to be that goofy woman.”

“Right?”

“I’ve got an appointment, I’m not sure if I can get your Dad to take me, he’s been a little under the weather the last week. That flu shot didn’t do him very well, I think he’s having some sort of reaction to it. They were talking about it on the news. I don’t think it’s bothered me as much, maybe the first day a little, hey, what are you doing anyways? It sounds loud there.”

“I’m walking the dog. I just got home from spin class.”

“Spin class, all that work and you don’t get anywhere. I don’t get it.”

“Yep.”

“I remember you hated riding your bike when you were a kid. We bought you a bike for Christmas, you bitched about it. You said it was a boy bike and never rode it.”

“It had Spiderman on it.”

“Girls could like Spiderman too. It might be one of those phases you were going through, like that phase where you wanted to be a rock climber, I can’t for the life of me figure that one out.”

*End conversation*

Back in the day, this is how people used words. If you were to pick apart the conversation using only selfies, I count ten opportunities to take a photo as opposed to actually respond (the child and mom both).

  1. Mom takes selfie in front of DMV, eye roll look, as if we all need a visual on how aggravating the DMV is. Sticking your face in a photo at the DMV is the equivalent of taking a picture of a corn on your foot, nobody likes it, nobody needs to see that shit.
  2. Child takes photo of face with glasses on, for use later to send to Mom, showing her that glasses aren’t that bad. Possibly with a fake smile, perhaps with a thumbs up. Fake enthusiasm about an otherwise cumbersome item to allow the second subject to feel better about something sort of crummy.
  3. Mom takes several selfies in the waiting room of the Optomotrist, trying on silly glasses, making silly faces, trying to make light of an other wise depressing to her situation. They get posted on social media, people like them, somehow she’s validated. Glasses aren’t that bad.
  4. Child takes selfie for Snapchat (which the mom isn’t on) with a rolling eyes and fake finger phone to the ear. Caption, “Mom is a talker”. People her age get it, but don’t really care, it’s a selfie, you like them no matter what.
  5. After the eye test, Mom takes a super chic selfie rocking those cook wrap around plastic tinted shades, proclaiming she’s going to make it through. (Of course, this won’t be posted until her eyesight comes back. This inspires a meme of her in the tints and the caption “My future is so bright, I have to wear shades”.
  6. Obligatory sick selfie from Dad, laying on the couch, perhaps wearing a turtleneck. The cautionary caption reading “DDont take the flueshot this year.” Three people like it, all old buddies from the military.
  7. Dog walk selfie, dog panting, probably a golden retriever or doodle or whatever. Caption, “Feeling the burn after spin, this might be a short walk.” The dog is almost never cooperating with the selfie, and there is almost always a smear of sweat (perhaps just spit to mimic sweat) in post work out selfies). People like this post because the light spring jacket is cute and it has a dog in it. People like dogs.
  8. Spin class selfie, even worse than the dog walk selfie. A usually sort of blurry snap of clavical up, with sweat. So much sweat. You can almost smell the BO from your phone. The need for approval for hard work and determination to be a healthy person. The clever person will try to strategically put a less than in shape person behind them, the selfie taker with less experience will sometimes get a finger in there, but leave it, not having time or energy to try another photo. This inspires a rash of others to take selfies in the gym and all of a sudden its a full out photo shoot.
  9. Mom takes cute selfie with Spiderman cup she found at Target. The caption is “My child loved Spiderman, but doesn’t want to admit it.” Other Moms love this post and comment similar stories of things that their kids liked as a phase but won’t admit to. Spiderman cup does not get purchased, although, it rides around in her cart for a while. She decided to put it back when she realizes she rarely sees her child, they’re always busy.
  10. After the phone call is complete, child takes a selfie with a glass of wine while sitting on a throw pillow clad couch, with a hint of dog head in the corner. The caption of “I’ve earned this, love you Mom” gets likes, but mostly from the Mom and men that like to look at her picture. The child turns on Netflix, but mostly checks to see who has liked the picture. While doing this, the child realizes that adulting is difficult and Mom was right, everyone is growing older.

To be absolutely fair, I took a selfie this morning. I don’t even know why. I hadn’t applied a single drop of makeup, I don’t think I brushed my hair and the background was less than majestic. I thought about it for quite a while, actually, and wondered what the point was, do I have to prove that I exist? Do I have to prove to other people that I’m a very ordinary person that can put on an excited face for no apparent reason? All of these things fell into my pondering lap, and I chewed on it quite a bit. After chewing on it for quite some time and getting nothing but selfie indigestion, I turned to the internet to find out why people take selfies.

“To prove you were there, that you heard of them first.”

Cake, in the song The Distance

Do you want to know why people take selfies? Self promotion?  To win the imaginary popularity battle that is social media? Because we all feel like we’re talented photographers at an arms length and we want to show the world our talent? Interestingly enough, it’s been studies and nobody agrees on why. There are psychological ramifications, but nobody can agree on what they are.

One study says that people base their self-worth on others opinions. Big surprise, hasn’t that always been the case, even before the selfie era, you don’t really need a study for that. Another mentions that only narcissistic people take selfies, which makes sense, but when seemingly everyone does it, does that make the entire social media culture a narcissist? That’s a bold freaking claim, to throw everyone under a bus due to a societal norm.

The very best article that I read about it claimed that selfies can’t be bundled in with any one connotation, selfies are multi purpose. We take pictures when we feel happy, and although the first shot might not be the winning show, we strive to make sure that the photo is fully mirroring our feelings, sometimes leading to aggravation and giving up, losing happiness and replacing it with aggravation. We’re happy and we know it, but we don’t clap our hands anymore, we snap a shot. Look at me, I’m happy, therefore your perception is that I’m a happy person and you’ll probably want to hang around me and have fun.

Also, for those of us with less than stellar self esteem, we can channel our stinky thinking into a more positive outlet. When feeling down, blue, over all crummy, you can put on your happy face (your mask) and project a better persona. I’m guilty of this, big time, I feel like I can put something out there that looks better than I feel. It gets more complicated when filters are applied, as if putting a mask on top of your already phony mask. I’ve never understood the filters on Snapchat, which is probably why I won’t participate in it. I can’t knock it, if it makes someone feel cute or good about themselves, praise be to filters. The most creative I’ve ever gotten was doing a sepia shot.

Oddly enough, after reading through yet another selfie article, I saw that they too referenced the DMV (this was after I had written my dialogue  in this article). I realized that I’m guilty of the DMV shot, and other people are too. The research on these sorts of selfies are centered more on the fact that they want people to realize that they exist, that they’re real people. I totally get it, which is probably why I did it. We use it as a coping mechanism in tough moments, moments of aggravation, moments that you  might need  friend but they can’t be there in person.

There’s an evil side of the selfie, the bitter “non-selfie” taker. I’ve been there, I’ve done that and have wondered, “Jesus, do you have to take a freaking picture of your stupid face every goddamn day and pair it with something you’re trying to sell me?” That is wrong, and I feel bad about it. We can get super judgmental, and forget that for the most part every snap that is taken is done for a reason. Life is tough, folks, and sometimes you need to be reminded that even a little accomplishment is better than a loss.

To the guys that do the muscle selfies, instead of thinking of you being a showoff, more than likely it’s a testament to how hard work and determination has paid off. Muscles don’t grow on trees. Same thing with car selfies, you don’t see people posing with a half rusted out neon without a headliner, you see people with cars that make them proud. A snap of that is an indication of having pride in ownership (which, for Pete’s sake, is getting lost, ask me how I know). Females with good hair selfies, that earns a round of applause in my book. Hair isn’t easy, hair is actually a pain in the ass. Even the walking the dog selfie, there isn’t a day that goes by that I feel like I haven’t taken enough pictures of my little dude. He’s not going to be around forever, but I’d love to have a memento of us being together.

Selfie it up. Go, do it. I’d go take one now, but I have a pimple and I’m still not over childhood trauma of pimples. Maybe with more selfies….so you’ll just have to deal with a Shakey selfie complete with finger. He’s damn cute all the time. 

No duck lips though. I still haven’t figured out that one.

 

 

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Legends Are Made At Your Home Track (where is Zips?)

It’s absolutely no secret that most of the friends that I’ve made as an adult have been car club friends, and I’m very okay with that. From what started as an associate membership to a club that I never thought I’d ever fit into, to a faithful following of readers after leaving, to all people in between, car people are good people. There’s not a single day that goes by that I don’t have some sort of interaction with a car buddy.  It’s a warm hug, often times without any sort of prompting. Car people are good, racing people are good, those knuckle heads that jack up the front of their truck while the tow hitch almost scrapes the ground, I’m still unsure of.

Raise your hand if you know who Gord Downie is.

*crickets*

Who can raise a hand for  Dr. John A. Thomson? (ha, you thought I was going to use Dr. Hunter Thompson, hint, they’re not related)

Both of these people have an incredibly vicious cult following in their fields, but nobody knows of them. They both remind me of me, when I was on top of the world and writing happily for Roundel and Garden Center magazine. There were lovers, people that sent me emails monthly, making sure my ego was properly boosted. There was also the flip side of any coin of popularity, the haters. At one point there was a movement to have a Nikki Weed fan club, then there was a petition to get me banned from a club or two.

“We live to survive our paradoxes”

Gordon Downie

That’s the root of living your best life, keeping your chin up through the lovers and the haters. Even as I’m writing this, a little bit of research is going into the actual topic matter of this post is (the find the location Tuesday game), I’m finding that almost everything I look up has a ranking. The second best place is _______, so why bother going there when you can go to the number one? The fifth most unhealthy county is this, so why bother visiting?  How can you quantify goodness based on another person, or group of peoples judgement?

What I faced was the scrutiny of haters, which led me to believe that I had little to no value. It was consuming, but temporary. That’s one thing that I’ve realized, most things are temporary, except for the things that really matter. With approaching 300 posts with most of them lacking viable content aside from a rant here and there, it’s become a constant, a comfortable constant. I don’t think I’ve gotten hate mail here, and I guess I don’t anticipate any.

The point I’m going to make is this, Gord Downie, although maybe a nobody to us, was a revolutionary Canadian musician. His popularity in Canada skirts the likes of Neil Young, but few people have heard of him. What made him more special than most was his work promoting fair treatment of the natives of Canada, both people and plant material. He was passionate, up until his last breath, dying of a brain tumor all too young. Do we hear about those issues? No, we hear about ridiculous claims…I’m not getting into politics.

Dr. John Thomson? He revolutionized a fertilizer/plant food supplement back in 1940. With an unconventional approach to a common issue, Dr. John looked to micronutrients to nourish plants, as opposed to pumping them full of highly expendable macronutrients. With the introduction of Superthrive, Dr. Johns’ secret formula, farmers and hobby planters alike could benefit from a well rounded plant food. Do we hear about Superthrive? No, we hear about Monsanto (and I’m certainly not getting into that).

*Aside*

I tried to post this last Wednesday, almost on time, but not quite. I had been juggling the article between my tablet and my laptop, which caused a WordPress hiccup and deleted the last part of this post. I’m sure the first edition was probably more involved and poignant, but I’m going to give it a go anyways. I do know this, I struggled with a location for this article, most of the times the article writes itself around the photo, however, the article came before me selecting a location. I decided on this one, have fun guessing.

*End Of Aside*

This time Zips is featured in the photo, we haven’t heard from him in a while, which is a whole other bag of worms/donated items (not him, but symbolically other stuff).

Here are your hints:

  1. While a successful track now, this track suffered lack of popularity back in the early 2000’s when the NASCAR ratings weren’t near what they are now and lost it’s NASCAR race at the track. It scraped by with local features for almost a decade until being bought out in 2012. After being bought out, a more commercial feel came about and the track began to poke its head onto the NASCAR radar again. With this, they offered the NASCAR experience, where “you can drive a race car”.
  2. I’m not the biggest fan of oval racing, although, I can respect a good track, and this is one of the better ones. It’s a little over a half mile with asphalt, which appeared in good condition when I was there last. It wasn’t, however, always a paved track, like most local tracks this one got it’s humble beginnings back in ’58 as a dirt oval for the locals to play on (mostly to get them off of the main drag of the major tourist attraction about three miles away.
  3. Interestingly enough, the speedway isn’t just about NASCAR fun and locals getting their ya-ya’s out. The track is home to pretty reputable concert series, demolition derbies and a motorcycle rally stop. Diversifying the target audience for the property has put this track in a more lucrative place than ever before. Instead of just being a place to go on Friday and Saturday nights for racing, the doors are thrown open wide to host just about everything, including something called Hippy Fest…(hmmmm….let’s hope there’s no schedule conflict, I’m not sure how racers and hippies mingle).

The subject matter involving Gord Downie and Dr. Thompson struck a sort of chord, reminding me of the track days that I loved and enjoyed in the past, be it spectating or driving. As a kid we had my birthday party at the tiny little track out in a cornfield outside Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. They announced my name, wished me happy birthday, and at that time at the ripe age of 8, I felt like a legend. I fast forward to sneaking into the Audi hospitality tent at Road Atlanta during the Petit Le Mans because I was about to freeze to death, where I watched legends fight for position the last ten minutes of the race.

I have so many track memories, most of which are only legendary to me, and made no difference in the lives of anyone else. To me those moments were everything, things I can cherish, even when I do feel low and without much value. Gord and Dr. Thompson went and did what they loved and were passionate about, without really anticipating becoming legendary, but that didn’t stop them. The legends that are made at a home track are usually just local legends, but sometimes it doesn’t stop there. The track pictured above was a training ground for a few NASCAR greats, so my point is, why not make the entire world your training ground.

Life doesn’t have to be a drag race, fighting to pull away from the line and getting to the finish line. Life is more about setting up your lines, checking your side mirrors and only looking back occasionally to be proud of how far you’ve come. Be a legend in what you do, go support local natives or create some fertilizer (well, naturally we do that everyday, just research Milorganite).

I’m proud of you, go get ’em and be legendary, like Graham Sexton, who has guessed every single one of these so far. I’m proud of him, now go out and give him some competition.

Worthless Versus Useless

“Luck is believing you’re lucky.”

Tennessee Williams

It has been almost a week since I last posted. After receiving my disturbing news, I fell into a funk of “who the hell cares, anyways?” and let things go. What’s the use, obviously I’m worthless and nobody wants me, right? I get sacked and go back to my den to lick my wounds and revel in the fact that I had been right all along, I’m useless. Upon closing my laptop last Sunday, I strongly felt the urge that I was done, I was giving up. Put me on government assistance and feed me with food stamps, society doesn’t want me.

I looked long and hard at my laptop one morning, realizing that it really is a piece of work, having put up with me for these past three years. We’ve traveled, we’ve applied for jobs, we’ve gotten jobs, we’ve lost jobs, we’ve played countless hours of The Sims. We have gone through some tough emails and sent some pretty bitter responses. My laptop, if it had a mind to, would tell some stories. I’m lucky that it can’t, and I have good security to keep others from opening up it’s mouth for it. At my lowest, last Sunday, surrounded by about six empty bottles of beer, a sleeping dog, and Zips sitting under my desk lamp, I threw out my self worth. That coupled with a severe case of PMS the next day turned any chance of a smile into a permanent frown that I’m still checking to see if it’s stuck there.

It took a good four days before I arose from the muck and mire to try to resurrect my self worth. Again, with the “what’s the use” mentality, I dove into the job offerings on Indeed and became melancholy, which was actually an improvement over despondent. I realized, I have talents out the damn ass, and nowhere to apply them. Most of my talents, however, are non-quantifiable, they don’t translate well to cover letter form. It was a moment to ponder, as I perched on my desk chair pounding out a cover letter, how do you put all that I’ve done and seen into words? Even if I did, would they have any actual worth other than an amusing anecdote?

I kept on pushing, looking towards the horizon of the next day. I’d get up in the morning, play the part, work the detailing gig, and come home to mash keys of more job applications. I started applying for unrealistic positions, just because I felt nothing really mattered anymore. I received suggestions for jobs, including Nurse Per Diem and Carpet Installation specialist, and wondered what sort of algorithmic wizard was pushing buttons behind the Indeed curtain. I’m a master at Powerpoint, but wondered if anybody actually uses those anymore. I’m a mastermind of WordPress, but lack the ambition to try and revamp my own page. Have they seen my newsletters?!?! Do they know I use only organic soap???

So on and so forth, this has been my last couple of days, when not working a real job or cooking (which is another story for another time), my time has been consumed trying on different hats, pretending I can do anything. I wasn’t going to allow my feeling of being rejected to haunt me forever, like I have rejections in the past. Just because I’m useless to one company, doesn’t mean that another company has that same outlook and business structure. After reviewing my resume, I realized that I’m almost too good for most of these positions.

My feeling of useless was shadowed by a feeling of worthlessness. Take for example a nasty break up. There is a little bit of time that goes by that you wonder why you invested time and effort into something that may or may not be doomed. This practice, I feel, is very worthy, and a learning experience. You can only learn where your limitations are and your strengths lie if you push them a little bit. It would, however, be worthless to allow yourself to fall into a pit of “I’m afraid to be rejected and fail, so I’m going to sit still and do nothing”, which I was in danger of. Those people, with that mindset, stay chronically single (or in crummy relationships) and are happy with their job loading mulch at the local big box store.

I’m better than a mulch loader (although I’m great at it), I have much more use than that. I’m lucky, I’ve had some of the most amazing jobs ever, however, I’m not living on luck. It was sheer perseverance that landed me my Lowe’s job. After bombing my first interview at a different location, I went to another one, knowing that that job was meant for me, and it was, just not at that time in my life. I regret nothing, and moving forward, I’m going to focus on being useful, using talents that I’ve been honing in on and sharpening since 1984 instead of focusing on what others think I lack. Somebody needs me, I know it.

Luck, it’s an interesting thing. Luck has found me no riches, has won me no prizes, and hasn’t catapulted me to fame, but it has kept me alive, or something has. Something has awarded me parents that didn’t whip me with a belt, hoard and ruin my childhood, or push unrealistic expectations on me. Something has decided to give me health after a time of severe physical deterioration, mental clarity after an unbelievably black period, and a sense of fatality after trying to welcome death with open arms. I’ve got something going for me, if it’s luck, so be it. Should it be a higher power, I’m all for that too.

In some ways, I think luck is a useful trait to believe in, other times it’s pretty useless. Take for example the cat that randomly started living under my Dads Jaguar. He warned me of it, announcing one morning that “some mangy cat is out there”, chalking it up to one of the hundreds of feral cats in this city, I overlooked it as being a worthless, antisocial creature. Upon arriving home after real work that day, what I felt was a worthless mammal ran up to me, meowing in fear and despair, hoping for help. I rendered, and the cat was grateful. I was of great use to the cat, although, the cat does me no good. Companionship, sure, but as far as a utilitarian purpose? No. Absolutely not.

The cat must have had some luck to be found on my back porch, though. His eyes were crusted completely shut from some eye infection and his ears were blackened from ear mites, gnawing and sucking their way into his little head. His ribs were popping from his tiny emaciated body and to be honest, his surviving the first night was questionable. I took time, lots of it, nursing him back to health. I bathed him with pet wipes, trying to create a somewhat normal looking animal out of what could have easily been confused as roadkill. I risked bites and scratches trying to clear the solidified puss and goop out of his eyes, and even more when trying to apply treatment to his ears. I did it though, and I felt useful.

I did realize that I was useless against whoever caused this poor cat to become such a pathetic animal. I’m positive he was a pet at one time, and loved, but then discarded. I can relate, I was a prized employee once, then cast off. That’s cool, I mean, one mans loss is another ones gain. The cat is healthy as hell now and I’m taking note from him. Even when you’re almost dead and giving up hope, somebody will come home and realize, “hey, you’re worth the effort”.

Thanks cat, I mean, Chester Joe. You’re a good cat.

“Luck is not chance, it’s toil; fortune’s expensive smile is earned.”

Emily Dickinson

I didn’t forget the “Where’s Nikki” last week, I just wanted to make sure the content was quality. I had about seven locations placed across my desktop, all worthy of attention and reflective on my mood last week, however, none got posted. Now you get one, so buckle up and get your figuring out caps on. I’m going to title this one “The Tropical Oasis” (which is what would typically go in the title of the blog post, however, it’s already been hijacked).

IMG_20170810_160951858

  1. This location is near and dear to my heart. Not only does it have some of the lowest prices on diesel fuel, but it’s nestled in a rustic, kitschy sort of area. I’ve been several times and actually made this location my “home” on Waze, although Waze used to get sort of confused. It doesn’t like to calculate locations more than 1,000 miles away.
  2. Last time I passed through this location was 2017, talking constantly about how awesome the travel plaza was, boasting the beautiful palm trees. Upon arrival, we noticed a darkening sky to the East and very few cars coming from the eastbound lanes. I went inside, bought beef jerky and we left, me snapping this shot on the way out. I hopped in the drivers seat and took off. Upon getting on the interstate, we were greeted with an horror movie inspired scene. Cars scattered left and right, windshields missing and semis randomly on their sides. No trace of any sort of event was present. After navigating the carnage, we researched and found we were in the middle of the hail capital of the United States where just moments before grapefruit sized balls of hail fell and destroyed acre of crops and several YouTube videos depict the destruction.
  3. This little ole town got a very modest beginning, which most of their occupants living in homes made of dirt and grass. These poor conditions triggered the need for more structural integrity and fueled the timber trade in the surrounding area. Moving on up from sod huts to stick built houses, this community was ready to grow, and did! Once the Rock Island Railroad pounded the it’s first stake in the community, prosperity flourished. Today, it has a respectable community college and still supports the railways. (Not to mention having the best decorated truck stop in the country).

Guess away.

Strikes and Gutters.

Some days are aces, some days are faces, some days are two and threes.

This is certainly a face card, to be honest, they don’t make a card low enough (maybe the pick four card in Uno, but you know).

After almost four weeks of absolutely loving my transcription gig, day dreaming about doing it as a real job, I received an email today informing that I’ve been revoked transcription privileges and am not blocked from the website. Absolute bull shit. My graded projects were all at a high level and my work was good, considering some of the crap audio they would provide sometimes.

Enclosed is the review I placed on Indeed (and am in the process of putting everywhere that has a http and a review section. I, in all honesty, feel violated. I’m good. There has to be something more sinister a foot.

*review below*

I had been reading reviews of this company while working for them. Interestingly enough, I had read quite a few that claimed that they’ll pull your credentials and kick you off the site for “unacceptable metrics”. I sort of shrugged it off at first and focused on the enjoyable projects that they provided.

The first week was great, I was “leveled up” to Revver and was given access to more projects and a bit more pay. For about two weeks no assignments were graded, which had me a little confused. All of a sudden, every assignment was getting graded and I had great metrics. With every graded assignment, it was mentioned to “review the style guide” even with maybe only one misplaced punctuation mark. After six graded assignment, achieving an excellent metric rating and really starting to get into the flow of the job, I get two simultaneous emails.

The first says something along the lines of “You’ve done a great job, 5/5”. The grader actually made a comment that said that it was a good capture of the context (which was a pain in the butt).

Then, I open the next email informing me that unfortunately they’re closing my account for poor metrics, which is absolute lies. I had one ONE incident where I received a three out of five on formatting (due to the audio being unclear and the male voices being identical). Even on that project the “grader” said I did a great job.

So, as of right now, I can’t even lobby a rebuttal. The email they send you is a non-reply email and the site itself is useless if you’re trying to issue a complaint.

Shady business, I would say, which is a shame. I loved doing the work, often times wanting to do it more than my “real” job.

My hypothesis is this, they are a sort of shell company that doesn’t offer any benefits, nor do they comply with any sort of tax laws for their transcriptions. For the entire time that I was receiving weekly pay outs, no 1099 or W2 were issued. They didn’t even ask for a social, which is fine. I think, for book keeping purposes they’ve decided that if you make a certain amount, which in my case was almost EXACTLY $500, they kick out you out so they don’t have to issue a 1099. Coincidentally, that is (I believe) the same amount of revenue, required by law, that you’re allowed to pay somebody before you have to conform to tax law.

The promised pay rate, at least from what I remember, said something like $40 a week, which is sort of silly. Anybody with a pulse can get that in maybe three days. In that case, those that do two assignments a week will stay in the tax shelter. However, those of us that are good at our jobs will fall victim to getting axed for a stupid reason.

I am disappointed. I really, at this moment, am speechless and am about to get my phone call skills out because I want to speak to a manager. (I guess I’ll have to be “that” person).

Ridiculous.

*end review*

From the girl that has been sacked from other jobs, for some reason this one is stinging a little bit more than it should.

And now there’s the awkward silence of what now.

IMG_1459

 

Castles Made of Sand

*Aside*

In an interesting turn of events, I’ve been cleansing my internet soul and removing most all emails/drafts/unfinished documents to allow me to catapult into a new phase. (Sure, I have more phases than the freaking moon, but hear me out on this one). I’ve permanently erased saved emails from people that I know I’ll never speak to again, that for some reason I was clenching my fingers around, not allowing them to slip into oblivion.  In a sort of fire storm of deletion, I found this post, dated in April of 2017, and couldn’t quite let it go.

I read it and walked away, leaving it on my screen, almost allowing it to fester in front of my very eyes. It was worth saving, but I didn’t know why. It seems like I’ve been on a saving spree. Only a week ago I saved a nasty looking cat from near death by trying to clean his infected eyes with a warm wet rag. Not knowing if he’d gore me and give me rabies or be grateful, I made the move without hesitation. I saved him from starvation and blindness, and I suppose I saved the article below from sudden death after sitting dormant for almost two years.

It is what it is, a blog post that I was writing at two am from my apartment in Oregon. Two things are for certain. For one, I had to have at least a healthy amount of Bourbon in me. Two, the loneliness that I had created for myself had lead me into an incredibly introspective phase. These things built an environment for some decent writing, and some absolute garbage. This falls comfortably between the top bread of genius and the bottom bun of soggy sullen bread.

“But what is to be done if I have taken it into my head, that that is not the only object in life, and that if one must live, one had better live in a mansion?”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground

Really, Nikki, another article that is peppered with the cynicism of a Russian novelist?

Yes, actually, yes. That’s where I am. Curling up in a ball at night I have images of this book bounce through my mind. Much like after reading another book of his, The Idiot, I feel like my life has been a little altered. The premise of The Idiot was more of a dialogue about being comfortable with oneself for being who they are and overcoming the obstacles that may arise due to who you think you are. Notes From The Underground has been humbling, to say the least, in the way that the entire book is more focused on what the perception of who we are in other peoples eyes can alter our daily beings.

How many times do we walk passed a reflective surface and analyze ourselves, pretending to be someone else. We look towards our reflection as a way to look at what other people see or judge us for. “Pssshhhaaawww, look at the gut on that guy, pathetic. He needs to get to a gym,” is the chatter we hear in our own minds, even when we have nothing to hide. You can be walking along being as fit as you can possibly be, however, there’s always a judgmental eye that you want to satisfy. Those that suffer from this try daily to pacify the nagging image in the reflection, or, the eyes that peer back on the sidewalks. We compose ourselves in a manner to get through the day, however, we’re always wishing we were living up to their expectations.

The quote about the mansion struck me like a lead balloon, for several reasons. After moving across country with nothing but a few people cheering me on and the contents of my extremely tacky zebra print suitcase, I was faced with a dilemma. I had no place to call home. It seemed really out of line to try to find a place of lodging from 2000 plus miles away, without being able to walk it and check it out. There wasn’t really a clear cut answer to my conundrum, I had my dream job, just no place to call home, except, the crisp, clean air of “the valley.” I turned Senna the Civic into home, it was going to have to do until I found someplace to call home, my mansion.

Lodging has always been a struggle for me, not in the sense that I couldn’t find it, but that I couldn’t be happy with it. There was this concept that got ingrained into my mind at a young age that I needed a mansion to be happy. I blame it strictly on the Barbie doll mentality that we, as young females, were surrounded with growing up. Barbie had her dream home, a convertible, a hot tub, all the stuff that made Barbie “happy”. Bleeding from that, there was also the image of Barbie as a role model for every young girl. You wanted to be like Barbie. You wanted the Barbie dream home, you wanted the hot Ken with the abs, you really wanted that hot little convertible she’d cruise around in while being dressed to the nines in a formal evening gown.

I had more Barbie stuff than you could even imagine, in fact, my dad built me a custom three story tall dream house complete with wallpaper, lighting, and almost real plumbing. That Barbie house was everything that I wanted as an adult, it was everything that I thought I should have as an adult. I moved on from there and started “creating” dream houses from places other than the house itself. I’d create little mansions out of book shelves, I’d transform a coffee table into a super chic loft apartment with a garage underneath. I’d make bigger more impressive houses every week, that actual semi brick and mortar dream house wasn’t enough for me, I needed bigger, cooler houses.

As an adult, it’s been that way. I thought my townhouse in Lake Geneva was the coolest ever. I decorated it with empty liquor bottles and something called a Love Sac. It was the coolest because I put my personal touch on it. Much like the Barbie dream houses of my childhood, I was building my own dream house. Unfortunately at the time, my priorities were more skewed towards empty liquor bottles and a large foam sack that people would, ahem, mingle on. From there it was a bad ass roof top apartment in Illinois that I put my own personal spin on by selecting the floor tile and wall coloring to suit my needs, at the Landlords expense. That became my “Barbie Dream house” poised strategically above a gun shop. I shared the lobby with gun-toting republicans (I have no problem with republicans). I’d walk in with my bags of groceries, and they’d walk passed me with arms full of ammo. It was interesting, but it was my dream house.

At the same time, I felt like I needed something bigger, better, something to make others envious of. Nobody in the world would be as happy as I was above that gun shop, but, I thought I needed more. Moving to South Carolina, my husband and I had a stereotypical brick house in a very average community. I thought it was paradise. I loved my yard, I loved the changes I made inside, it felt like home. It was no mansion by any stretch of the imagination, but we made it work, it was perfect for us. Dabbling on, throughout the rest of my random living situations, I’ve made life work in a duplex around 300 square feet and an amazing fifth wheel rv with an uncertain amount of square footage. Everywhere I live has been paradise, but there is still that gravel in my craw nagging at me, reminding me that I’m not in that mansion. Nobody is jealous of my living accommodations, but they should be.

The fact of the matter is that “house” and “home” are two very different things (of course), that’s why they have different definitions. For me, home is everything that makes you comfortable, you know, the things that you want to come home to at the end of the day and feel at peace. It doesn’t matter if it’s the White House or the crack house at the end of the block, as long as you can crawl into your bed at night, no matter if it’s a pile of blankets on the floor or a Marriott bed, in either circumstance you can be the happiest person in the world. When I was in the car, making it on my own out in Oregon, I made the most of what I had. There were times that I wished that Senna the Civic was a mansion, you know, a Barbie dream home, but that was all I had at the moment. I transformed him into everything I needed him to be.

I really believe that’s the key to happiness, take what you have and make it work….somehow…some way.

It’s been traumatizing, actually, moving out to Oregon. When you’re the most vulnerable, the closest help is 2,000 miles away, but you make it work.

When I found my sanctuary, my absolutely perfect apartment, with the absolute best roommate ever, here in Oregon, I realized it wasn’t going to be that mansion that I read about or played with when playing with my Barbies. Here I am, in Oregon, in my Barbie dream home. It doesn’t have a whirlpool tub, I still don’t have a convertible, and although my boyfriend has abs, they’re not up to Ken’s standard (primarily because Ken’s are unrealistic).

Being here in Oregon has taught me a few things ,which resonate with Notes From The Underground , my favorite was the fact that he went into debt to buy beaver skins to make a collar for his jacket to “fit it” with his classmates. Never mind the fact that he refused to allow his ex-classmates know where he lives out of shame. It was a sad day for him, and an absolutely shattering moment for me reading it. We spent far too much time worrying about what other people think of us, not only in the external sense of knowing what you look like, but the fact of knowing that you’re in the swanky part of town. The coldest homes are spread evenly across square footage, however, the warmest homes share a similar footprint.

*and this ends that attempt at writing*

Sitting here, back in South Carolina, I can hardly remember what it was like to be out there, and what inspired me to go to Oregon in the first place. There were hypotheses thrown around like drunken discs at a disc golf course assuming that I was running from something.

Maybe I was, and maybe I found it. I’m not sure. the entire point of the topic was to try to paint a picture of happiness based solely on your living situation. I sort of got on a tangent towards the end of that piece, and I can promise you, I know why. Many times I would get on a roll (drinking and typing) and forget what my topic really was. I’m going to attempt to give that piece some closure.

*pretend this is the ending of the partial article*

There was once a time that i thought I was madly in love and  living the american dream. We had two cars in the garage, two motorcycles and a 2,800 square foot three story house on a golf course. From my childhood, that Barbie house with three floors, that’s what I got. I had everything to a personal shower to a hand painted bathroom sink imported from some damn country in the Mediterranean. I attended HOA meetings, I worked hard to achieve yard of the month, I always took the neighbors mail in when they went away.  There was no depth, and actually, I was on more antidepressants than I care to share.

Shake that up a little bit, add a DUI, mistaken identity and copious amounts of soul searching and you get makings for a moving out cocktail. Of course, leaving my Barbie Dream home was difficult. I loaded up a work truck and hauled off only what I could fit in the bed. I didn’t look back, I couldn’t, but I did end up the one place that I knew would be a stable spring board for my new life, my Dads house.

The interesting thing about living with a parent as an adult is that you tend to get a little attached. As a kid, you have to concept of mortality and loss. You fuss with your parents and curse them for giving you a bed time. As an adult, you’re constantly worried if your parent has taken their medication or if they’re eating properly. The role reversal is incredible and at no time in my childhood while playing with my Barbies did I ever set up a scenario of an adult female (maybe Barbie) living with her Dad Ken (maybe Shave Ken, he was the best). This brick and mortar place has been the spring board with one hell of a bounce, but an even bigger boomerang. I have lived here and moved back out more times than I can count, most of the time chasing a relationship somewhere.

As I stand at a crossroads in life right now, I look to the East and see opportunity blazing a new life as a field hand in a beet field. To the West I see melanoma and crows feet, with neither location providing anything quite as stable as this old house that I’ve rambled around for more than a decade now, on and off of course. It’s not the Barbie dream house on the golf course, but it does have memories and in a weird way it sort of looks like me. Aged, but all in the right places. This house, I can say, has become my dream home strictly based on the stability.

For all the decisions I’ve made, and all the moves that were based on very shaky circumstances, I can honestly say that this isn’t just a castle made of sand. This one has some mortar behind it.

 

Select All Delete

Who’s ready for some fun? Are your fingers sweating as they hover over a tiny button on a plastic, handheld device anticipating some sort of emotional adventure? Do you gaze upon the fact that there’s a new post here and wonder, “Hey, this might change my life today if I actually read it”? If you do, I applaud you, and want you to know you’re appreciated more than you might think. These days, in all honesty, I don’t think the words of gratitude are thrown around enough. Screw it, most think, it’s someone’s job to do _fill in the blank_.  Is it really that way?

I, por ejemplo, am sort of jostling certain things back and forth like furious game of badminton. My racket is a piece of fishing line and my shuttle cock is a cherry bomb. Take a moment to imagine that, really, imagine it. I’m waiting for things to explode in my face, and I’m not sure when that will happen. I still swat furiously at it, however, with an invisible deterrent. A struggle of fending off an avalanche with an ice cream scoop. What am I fighting? Who knows. What’s going to alleviate the battle? Who knows. In the meantime I’m going to continue working my two jobs, slave to not only one but two traffic lights, and see that the light at the end of the tunnel might not be down the tunnel I’ve been looking down.

That being said, let’s play the Tuesday “where are we?” game that I suppose most of us have grown to at least tolerate. (We have a stand out winner, so come on, give him some competition).

That being said, I’d like to juggle the circumstances like a drunken clown at a kids party and make the routine unique this week. As opposed to just making you guess the location from a snapshot, I’m going to generalize the game. Maybe that will make it more user friendly, maybe not. The photo this week is indeed going to have been taken in the location in question, however, the clues will not be eluding to the location. The clues, however, will be describing the plant, which has a significance to the location in question. I have found that it’s pretty easy to type in a few SEO optimised words in a search engine and find where I’m hinting at, let’s see if plants are the same.

I’m asking for the state in question. Cool, right, an entire state, but keep in mind, most plants live in 70% of common states, so just because it’s found in Nevada doesn’t mean that it’s unique there. The violet alone is the state flower of four different states, plants get around. Keep that in mind.

  1. Although this flower is widely acclaimed as a popular choice for gazebos and arbors, in this particular state it’s even more desired upon. For almost 90 years the state in question has held this plant, although not indigenous, as it’s state flower. The selection of this flower is sort of lukewarm, it goes right along side of the states’ other copycat trademark items like having the state beverage of milk. Side note, the state does claim the most excellent state dog, cutest ever.
  2. This flower, although about the size of half of your pinky, is incredible in mass. Often seen on estates across the state, the vine, growing thick and woody becomes a tangled knot of foliage and stems for about 50 weeks of the year. The flowers peek out in the early spring stages and hide again only days after saying hello. In some areas they’ll peek back out again in the fall, but only depending on the always variable climate of the state. With a typical summer, in the specified state, the plant will grow anywhere from 3 to 5 feet.
  3. When considering this plant to become the beacon and pride of joy for their state, they failed to realize that every single part of the plant is toxic. In the big picture, it’s actually harmful to honey bees, let alone wandering children through a playground. The leaves can cause irritation in human contact, the nectar in honey bees will cause colony ailments (brood death) and the flowers themselves don’t smell any better than a gym locker. Bumble bees are cool with them, however, which makes Zips pretty happy.

So, where’s the flower? What state is the proud owner of this pretty, yet disappointing flower?

I picked up my spirits a few times this week with anticipation of writing something other than the “where are we” segment, but they all fell short. I’ve been doing the transcription stuff and, in all honesty, it’s left me sort of drained. I’ve been working furiously away at it, making less than minimum wage, but feeling a sense of accomplishment. At the same time, I’ve been working my typical job, detailing. It’s exhausting. Every aspect of my personal life is struggling, but I have hope. Although low pay, transcribing has opened a door that I wasn’t aware lurked in my internal hallway.

Once you’re comfortable in life, you take things for granted. I love my parents, I love my pets. I’m grateful of the bed that I’m in writing this piece. Vicariously through doing transcription I’ve realized I’ve had an incredibly good life. For the past decade or so I’ve chalked it up to good luck, but I can’t see things that way anymore. It’s because people love and care about me, and more importantly I care about my own well being. I had to listen to 40 minutes of a ten year old boy getting whipped with a belt and transcribe it for evidence. I listened to fundraising efforts for an underfunded children’s hospital in Salt Lake City, I was even touched by an interrogation. All  of these things makes me put life in perspective.

I’m facing heavy things, and every single morning I wake up and wander into the kitchen wondering what decision is going to torment me next. Some mornings I decided I want a donut, some morning I opt for a piece of toast. At the end of everyday, sadly, I wish I had a program that allowed me to Select All Delete.

 

The city of big shoal-ders

The excitement of this week has had me sort of questioning my ability to conform to my nondisclosure policy of my new job. I can hint a bit, saying only a transcription I did last week a became something so much bigger than just a little assignment that pays nearly nothing.

Let’s back up, last week I was fresh to the transcription job and doubting whether it was going to stick. My first few assignments were interesting, but gave me a sort of eerie feeling, almost like I was spying on people. Wednesday rolled along and I grabbed an assignment that seemed easy as drinking a tenth beer. As I dug in, the topic matter became one of which I was unfomfortable with. Words that I would never use almost encouraged me to unassigned the project and let someone else listen to the crude script.

I finished , took on another assignment by the same client and found a script very similar to the previous. I kept my professional head on my sholders, I played through. Almost a week later, that same transcript I did made national news.

Here’s the thing, the job I was doing was so trivial at times, I felt like I was unimportant. I really felt like I was rotting away at a low pay job for no good reason other than pure convenience. It was starting to make other aspects of my life feel unimportant too. My work detailing was taken for granted by the clients, who just turn around and dirty up their cars again. My housework isn’t noticed until my vacuum breaks and people start asking when I’m going to vacuum again. Even my cooking, which I felt like I poured heart and soul into was just only mentioned when it turned out bland. Even the dog, who I adore, has taken advantage of my love for him and claimed my chair as his own, biting me when I try and reclaim it.

In former days I’d rely on an eating disorder and booze, doing what I referred to as “kicking mental rocks.” Lately, I don’t even have the mental energy to succumb to evil urges. I’ve just dug my heels into the loamy dirt that is my transcription job. Sure some of the subject manner turns my stomach like a hyacinth blooming in a warm spring day. Pressing on, broadening my shoulders every day. It’s almost like I’m growing into a stronger person.

Truth be told, I daydream at my detailing job about going home and doing the transcription job. I listen and learn something new every single day. Last night I was learning about how combines work, days ago I learned about leptin deficiency. I learn things that I’d never actually think about wanting to learn about. It’s sort of like informational osmosis. Super perk is that in get to put in my Klipsch noise cancelling earrings buds and be in my own little world for a while. Maybe this evening will afford me with an opportunity to learn about how to run a successful blog or keep the dog off my seat.

My guess the location will never make the news, but I’m going to give it a go anyways. Maybe my posts won’t get shared, I don’t mind. It’s still better than kicking brain rocks around.

Here it goes, this week has a fun filled twist, actaully, it’s just sholder themed.

1) It’s really quite amazing to follow this snaking fork and see exactly how small it started off as. Trickling through some foothills and a few fields. I suppose where I’m from it would be called a creek, in Canada it would be a brook, but in this area it’s called a fork. I suppose it does fork a few times, but not anything signnifcantly.

2) If you focus your gaze beyond the beautiful cascade that showers down creating the shoals, you’ll spy a chunk of a building peeking out from defoliated trees. This mill ran continuously for around 150 years, changing hands several times, but always processing the rich cotton that was so prominent in the industry of the community. Cotton, being a pillar of the area declined and went overseas and the mill became an empty cavern, depressing the neighborhood around it. The building was creatively used to store high end car parts, but only for a while.

3) Suprise, the main building of this once prominent mill (the largest in the area for decades) became just another pile of smoldering ash in the early 2000’s around the same time those buildings from last week got torched in Pressmans Home, Tennessee. The building, which encompassed the equivalent of several city blocks, roared in the early morning hours and threatened surrounding homes. I have a theory on why so many mills, most abandoned and forgotten mysteriously burnt down in that time frame, disgruntled family members of laid off mill workers wanted to get revenge on the industry that left many of them destitute. Okay, I have no proof, but it’s a cool idea.

So, where are we this week? Comment or email me at pepitaweed@gmail.com with your response. I look forward to hearing from everyone, and don’t forget, maybe everything that you are doing seems unimportant, but make sure you do it with purpose. Pick up that piece of litter, it might be the piece that chokes a duck. Vacuum that floor, it might sick up the piece of glass that wants to wedge itself in your foot. Respond to that email, it might keep someone busy long enough to distract them from self destructive thoughs.

It’s worth a try.

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A buck short and a Bucksnort (guess the location, late night edition)

What’s that old saying about being a day late and a buck short?

Actually, that makes me think of a bar in Morton, Washington called the Bucksnort os opposed to me thinking about my tardiness this week. I’ll be honest, this week has been an uncomfortable roller coaster that has had me running rails of discomfort and new horizons. I sat at my trusty old fiberboard desk to post my Tuesday mind game, and sat in front of my computer screen with a sort of melancholy that paralyzed my fingers. I had my picture ready to go, but didn’t make the post. Personal reasons, I hope you understand.

So, in a futile attempt at extra credit, I’m going to give a bonus feature this week! You’re not going to get some limp looking photo that looks like it was taken from a car window, you get real life footage. Taken a few years ago on a hiatus from reality on a particularly rainy day.

The back story is this and might contain clues as to the destination. I had left South Carolina on a sort of vision quest. More like I was 29 days sober and had just fallen off the wagon. Of couse, in typical Nikki fashion, I decided to adventure instead of facing reality. I overnighted with my grandma in Tennessee and had a lunch date the next day in Ohio. En route, I decided to find cool scenery along the way.

Hints include:

1) The buildings on this ghost town of a campus was a resort community before being appropriated for more industrial uses. Imagine the middle of nowhere, then drive twenty more miles, thinking the entire time your car is going to be swept off the side of the mountain by a mud slide due to the torrential rainfall, which is common that time if year in that locale. The road pretty much went to nowhere after the industrial campus closed up shop.

2) The site was used for a certain industries union headquarters. The concept of using the retired resort was schemed by a local union worker who had grown up and loved the area. At first it was heralded as a paradise for those in the union, but once the 60’s rolled around, (it had been operating for decades at that location) union members sort of lamented the rural location. It posed a hindrance to travel there, so the union was moved to a more centralized location.

3) Sadly, most of the massive buildings have been destroyed, many by arson. Two main structures remain, which were primarily used for training facilities filled to the brink with the most modern technology for almost six decades, before the union moved. The more interesting footprint left is one of the tuberculosis sanitorium. The union build this specific care center due to the speculation that their trade resulted in the contraction of tuberculosis. When a union member fell ill with consumption, they would be welcomed intone sanitorium with open arms and received treatment free of charge. Many never walked back out of the swinging doors of the sanitorium and their bodies went to sleep for the last time in the surround hills. A cemetery was erected very near this videos site.

That was a blast. That entire trip was blurry, but I have some cool videos I had taken, perhaps for this exact purpose. Who knows. I’m a staunch believer in purpose driven adventures, maybe I didn’t know at the time they’d be used for something so cool. At the time I’m pretty sure I was going to string all of the videos together into a dumb YouTube video. I’m positive this is a better usage of the video.

I’ve been sitting up with a sick dog, which was really the o ly reason I was able to produce this week’s “where is it”. You really never know how much impact you have on another living breathing thing until it paws at you at three in the morning needing a belly rub. I feel bad for the old dude, almost 15 years old and still trucking along as hard as possible. I can only imagine what it’s like to be a Mom to a human.

I’m working diligently to provide quality content, however, the WordPress platform is limited as to the number of photos you’re allowed to upload. While I’m rapidly approaching 300 posts, I’ve gotten notifications of low storage space. This makes me anxious and also full of pride. I feel like it’s time to shed my cocoon of being masked with a dot WordPress site and dive full into my own domain. I’d like to buy nikkiweed.com.

This, of course, would prevent anyone else from the fame of being Nikki Weed. Kidding, kidding. I’m interested in making the move in order to continue doing these fun posts. Please, consider a donation to the domain fund. I considered doing a Paetron, but I felt like my already established PayPal is sufficient enough. If you’re against PayPal and will would like to make a contribution, just contact me at pepitaweed@gmail.com. we can figure something out!

The link below will steer you to my PayPal, any denomination us helpful! Of course, accolades of those who contribute will be noted on a contributor page.

Click here to contribute

Now, get to guessing. Where was the video taken?

The abyss will gaze back, and it’s your computer screen.

Life is interesting, and when you sit back and think about it long enough, it’s pretty boring. We tend to excite ourselves with menial things, memes and YouTube videos, social media and blog sites, Candy Crush and Lumosity. To be absolutely fair, I’m a huge fan of Lumosity and I try to make an excuse for my blog as being an outlet, not a distraction. What is it about the world that makes us turn, so starkly, against reality? What’s wrong with what’s actually happening around us, I mean, life is actually pretty nice. This isn’t the Oregon Trail, we’re not fearing for our lives because of Indians prowling in the surrounding hills and dysentery is pretty much eliminated. Considering the lilies of the valley isn’t as easy as it sounds, or is it.

Take, for example, my desire to dive head first into the writing world. I’ve sat stagnant enough, toiling at a job that is rewarding but demeaning. I wasn’t happy and didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I considered going back to working retail, but every time I pulled up the ole job search website, I got an ugly feeling in my stomach and ran to the fridge for a beer. Here’s where this gets ugly, I was so upset and despondent, I was taking to drinking beer in bed. That’s when you know you’re in a place that requires a life jacket because it’s pretty deep. I wasn’t depressed drinking, I wasn’t drunk drinking, I just didn’t want to leave my bed. This is one of those depression things that people that don’t have it don’t really understand.

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”

Carl Jung

I wasn’t myself, and although my demeanor via social media seemed chipper and my weekly posts asking for the destination of photos was vivid and cheerful, I felt bleak. My life felt like it had become plastic, revolving around a screen. I then realized, by isolating I was making it worse.

I didn’t even want to walk the dog anymore. He looked at me with a confused concern, then went to seek out someone else to trot him down the road. I felt bad about it, eventually apologizing to him. Yes, I apologize to my dog, he deserves it. He’s a solid dude.

As I was toiling my life away, trying to vacuum copious amounts of dog hair out of a brand new Lincoln Navigator, I gave up. I surrendered to my roots, this wasn’t who I was nor who I wanted to be. I started my detailing gig out of desperation, I had nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. I had freshly gotten back from Oregon, tail between my legs and lacking all confidence in everything. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror, I buried myself in self loathing and decided that maybe, just maybe this was the rest of my life…and it was ending one minute at a time. One long minute at a time. In that Navigator I saw my future cultivated in dog hair, this wasn’t my destiny.

I applied myself in a way that I can only describe as superhuman. I set myself at my desk, a fantastic tribute to particle board and clutter and decided to make change happen. I sat there, vacant, staring at my computer screen, unsure where to start. All of a sudden the screen that brought me cat videos and memes was a dark pit mimicking my depression. It was unacceptable to me so I employed my mouse as a shovel and my keyboard as my backhoe to aid in digging myself out of that dark pit. I started with a very limp attempt, expecting a limp response. I woke up the next day, sort of ashamed that my efforts were so lame, so I decided to employ an arsenal of shovels and backhoes to aid in the excavation of my soul.

I wasn’t playing around anymore, I dug into the internet to find different freelance market, finding a plethora of scams. “Pay me, they’ll pay you” scenarios were rampant, and the more I looked at, the weaker my defenses got. Maybe everything is a scam nowadays, maybe nobody really pays and there aren’t any writing gigs that pay without knowing somebody anymore. I developed a defeatist mentality and wanted to give up, it seemed the harder I tried, the darker it got. I used to “have it” I was in high acclaim, I had four of the top ten articles in Roundel one year, I had a featured piece in Garden Center magazine, I was offered a Keynote Speaker position, and now I’m vacuuming dog hair. It sucked, and I was aware of the severity of the depression that was settling in.

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

We all battle monsters, some of us don’t have titles for them. Mine, for as long as I can recall is acceptance. I’ve always felt like a reject, and filling out job applications was triggering a sort of recollection of days past. It’s very possible I never got over my first rejection, a third grade love. It is also very possible that there is some sort of revenge trigger in me that wants to reject offers. Take for instance being offered a writing gig and turning around and turning your nose up at it, just because you can. Rejection, it was haunting me as I sent out my first pitch for a magazine in Plano, Texas.

I sighed heavily and stared at my email inbox that is adorned with a backdrop of a picture of an ex-ex-ex-ex and I on New Years. I haven’t been able to change it, I haven’t been able to find the tab that lets you change it, so I live with it complacently. I look at it daily, I check my email and face that rejection. Think about it, if you want to check your email, you look at the face of a person you loved madly and is now so far removed from your life you might be lucky to get one email a year from them. I knew that focusing on that negativity was going to be a cornerstone of failure, to I went analog. I grabbed the same notebook I used when I was adventuring through a “life changing” book and taking notes, hoping the life changing vibes were still there. They weren’t, but a killer recipe for biscuits was. I documented my first pitch, and realized maybe I was onto something.

The next day I was capitalizing on my momentum and found a site called writers.work.com, a semi-scam looking site asking for money, promising opportunity in return. I tried to dig around on the Googlesphere to find out if it was a legit site, which offered me little to no guidance. One site I found explained everything about the site, essentially just quoting the Q & A section found on the writers.work page. Another site gave the advice “if it seems too good to be true, exercise caution.” I haven’t exercised anything in quite some time, so I said screw it, I’m diving in, worst case scenario I’ll be out $49 bucks for a lifetime membership to the site. I tried to plug in my credit card info and a glitch in the system made it impossible to process the order. I had to wait until the next day.

That night, however, I stewed over the actual culpability of the site and if it was even worth my time and effort. What if I was dried up as a writer and the excitement was fleeting? What if my writing ship had sailed and I’m useless at the keyboard. I came up with maybe seventeen different excuses not to try the writers.work platform ranging from proclaiming that my laptop is garbage to trying to proclaim that my real job wouldn’t allow any time to properly apply myself to anything worthwhile. The next morning I suited up in my normal detailing attire, and went to real work. I was faced vacuuming dog hair again, and my momentum made a triumphant return.

I perched myself at the old laptop and tore into the site as soon as I was allowed access, and to brutally honest, I felt like the $49 spend on membership was the best money I have spent in years. The platform is sort of like any other job search website, but it’s focused nothing but writing. If you can’t find something in the actual “job” section you’re not looking hard enough. Within the first hour my little notebook was full of potential, potential I thought was long gone. Time was flying by, and before I knew it, bedtime had come and gone, I was actually up after nine o’clock due to this electric energy coming out of my fingers. I jotted down ideas for stories based on publications accepting pitches, I mapped out stories in my big writing notebook, I made lists of editors emails. I was suddenly a raging writing machine.

In the first week, my planning and mapping was getting tedious, so I focused my energy on sending pitches via email to at least four publications a day. The writers.work website made this incredibly simple, including a Microsoft Word-like processor with the membership. Not only does this processor enable you to do the menial tasks, like spellcheck, but it will grade your writing. I was getting real meaty feedback on my pitches, feedback I felt turned my pitches into pure fire as opposed to potential junk mail. I fired out the pitches, crossed emails off the list, and repeated. I wanted it bad, and I wasn’t going to be daunted.

Friday, two weeks ago I received an email from Rockstar Magazine, an otherwise unknown publication to me, accepting my pitch. With great energy and fury I immediately delivered an piece titled Festival Express, which covered an obscure music festival in Idaho. The editor praised the concept and wanted more, offering a measly amount as compensation. I wanted to balk at it, but I couldn’t, I was ecstatic, I was actually writing again. I put my nose to the grind stone and realized that I had something somebody wanted, which was a feeling that was fleeting at times until becoming absent. The dog hair sucked it out of me.

Beyond pitching story ideas, I applied for other writing gigs ranging from Social Media Director to Ad Assessor. Although the descriptions were long and intricate, I knew that if anybody had the drive and determination to accomplish a task it was me. I was writing cover letters like a boss and pumping myself full of confidence with the anticipation something would pan out, and it did. I was offered the assessor position, and was in consideration for the Social Media position. I didn’t stop, I couldn’t stop there, I wanted more. I got more.

As of yesterday, I was hired to do transcription, a job I did in my pajamas. It was mindless and aggravating and pays next to nothing, but it was still putting wind in my sails. I listened to help desk calls, I listened to a lecture on Martin Luther King Jr, I listened to a financial planning guru, all the while typing along with their stories. I learned some things, most importantly that I should be the one giving speeches, not the one typing them out.

As of right now my momentum is at full power and my fingers twitch at the anticipation of finding another gig. My notebook sits open on my lap this morning, looking up at me asking where will our writing adventure take us today?

The answer is, I don’t know, little notebook, I don’t know. Chances are there will be Lumosity being played intermittently between vacuuming dog hair. My writing dream isn’t quite reality yet.

In the meantime, here’s a picture of a cat. Everyone likes cat pictures.

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Select the sailboat location

How much fun are you having today? On an honest one to ten scale, can you honestly say you’ve lived your life to the fullest today and took every opportunity to seize happiness? No? That’s not surprising. Lots of us do crummy stuff to make ends meet, hell, lots of us try to make ends meet by doing crummy stuff and don’t even get those ends close to meeting.

Giving up isn’t an option. Just keep trucking..more on this at a later date. This ear infection has me miserable

Our challenge this week may be pretty dag gum simple, but fun still!

Hints:

1. Although called a lake, thus body of water is actually created by three different rivers accumulating in a man made reservoir. It’s on the top five list of water sports attractions in the southeast, a region devoid of naturally occurring lakes.

2. Shoreline is anywhere between 950 and 965 miles, depending on rain fall. Rain fall can vary to such extremes it’s not uncommon for the levels to be regulated by latter water out of the damage that created the lake in the first place.

3. In the lake, not too far from a major highway, sits an irregularly large uninhabited island, well, no people live there. Termed Ghost Island, this land mass holds over fifty graves with almost as many tombstones, some dating back to the war of 1812. A couple of above ground tombs date even further back to the early 1700’s. Apparitions have been spotted, however most people know the island only as “party” island and camp there unknowingly.