Monday, April 21, 2014

So you're a writer and...?

I've been away from you, blog. I'm trying to be an adult. Frankly, I don't care for it, but we've all got to grow up at some point, right? How stupid.

Anyway, because I can't seem to get my hands on any Xanax today and I'm one dizzy spell away from an anxiety attack, here I am.

Yep. That's what adults do.

So I'm working at a tech company now and it's pretty soul crushing. I'm hunting for a new gig but I've been taking copy editing classes to move out of writing and into professional editing (because writing and editing go hand-in-hand and I don't know how to do anything else) and I thought that it was going to be so much easier to get a job as an editor. I mean, let's face facts, you guys--all of my skills are solidly entrenched in the realm of the unpayable. This results in my dedicated need to be the best goddamn unpayable writer/editor that I can.

The problem is that everyone thinks they can write and edit. You know what I'm doing right now? Buh-logging. This isn't writing. (Actually, it's really just whining.) But my point is that I wear a completely different hat when I write and edit. My mind is in a different space. A space that I've trained and educated myself to find when I am tasked with writing useless crap that I don't care about because I'm a professional, for the love of Zod.

I've been applying to a lot of jobs with writing and editorial resumes that I have honed for the past 10 years, but inevitably the form rejections that I get are because I don't have peripheral experience in other industries.

"Oh, so you'd like to write for our restaurant section?"

"Yes, here are the relevant clips of other restaurant writing and food editorials that I've done."

"Do you have any formal chef training?"

"Well, no, but you're not looking for a chef, you're looking for a food/restaurant writer."

"We're looking for someone who has been to cooking school, or has worked as more than just a line cook, who can also write and edit."

", Anthony Bourdain?"


"My understanding is that he already has a job, and probably some professional writers and editors helping him out."

"Thanks for applying!"

This follows for so many industries and it's hard not to take it personally. Essentially, the skills that you've worked to perfect are just an add-on for other people, so the battle will always be uphill. We need a professional writer who has also been a real estate agent! And a makeup artist! And do you have experience climbing Mount Everest? Because that's what we're looking for!

And then, occasionally: This position is unpaid for now, but will be a great opportunity for you to see your name in print.

Welcome to adulthood, you guys. I hope you have some Xanax.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Trying to get health insurance is actually making me unhealthy.

I haven't blogged in a very long time--this we know. I don't know that I'm going to start back up again with any regularity, because frankly, my voice and priorities have changed and I don't have any direction to take this mess.  I'm back on here today because I need a platform to vent my frustrations, and you all are free to ignore me as usual.

A little over a month ago, I switched jobs. Yay, right? My previous job had mediocre benefits (because why reward your slaves if you are a company and don't have to?), but it was enough to cover the one health care expense that I have: a longstanding prescription for anti-baby medication. (Sorry if that's too much information, but if you've read my blog before, you're probably like, "Oh good, because she really should not be breeding any time soon.") I went from being a full-time employee to a contract employee with an agency that placed me into a (moderately) better position with a large tech corporation (let's call them "Shmicrosoft"), all with the promise of fantastic benefits once I finished my year-long contract and (possibly, "probably") got hired by the corporation. "Indentured servitude for a year is probably better than many years of prison from cracking at my previous gig!" I thought naively. In the span of that year, my plan was to buy private insurance until I became eligible to get insurance through my future FTE.

Oh, what a simple idea that was. Little did I know the trouble I would be in. (Spoiler:  YOU GUYS, IT'S WORSE THAN THE DMV.)

I voluntarily opted out of my contract agency's proffered benefits plan due to the sheer cost. ("Wait.. if I have renal surgery I have to give them one of my kidneys?!") I'd done a bit of research (re: Googling) into private health insurance coverage and knew I could find something better that was less expensive. In point of fact, I actually could not afford to take on the cost of my contract agency's plan--it totaled about $400 per month (because the doctors are made of solid gold, probably), and that is way over my monthly Taco Bell and comic book budget.

Bear in mind, this was the most basic plan. I am a young (just under 30) woman with no existing health conditions, do not smoke or drink excessively (anymore, though I may start again if this shitshow continues), am of a healthy body weight (despite the aforementioned Taco Bell) and have long since stopped alligator wrestling. I am a health care provider's wet dream: the kind of person who visits the doctor about once a year, almost never ends up in the emergency room (three times in my life, about once a decade), eats vegetables and flosses her teeth, and pays my bills on time. It shouldn't be hard for me to find something relatively affordable, right?

Wrong. Well, almost wrong. I did a lot of research (remember, I Google things!); I spent a lot of time on the phone waiting for representatives from numerous companies to answer my questions about things like deductibles and co-pay and prescription coverage and the like. When I finally found a plan, I checked and double checked my application paperwork. I was an A-student, you know. I did my homework and I turned it in on time.

I applied through a website that was NOT the government website, but was a similar aggregate type situation. Several different providers and plans were listed, and after I had selected one, I went through the lengthy process of following up with my application. The website had constant issues (so it's not just the government site, it's ALL of them) and I spent hours reformatting documents, sending them to people, and having others upload them from different networks (because maybe your Internet is better than mine!).

I submitted and re-submitted paperwork:  bank statements, "proof of residence" rental agreements, copies of my driver's license...just about everything short of my blood type and criminal record WHICH IS OBVIOUSLY EXTENSIVE because I clearly have proven myself to be a nerd with no social life and everyone needs an outlet, right? (Mine is actually knitting, not defenestration.)

My application has been in the PROCESSING stage for exactly one month today. (Happy Anniversary, eHealthInsurance! Let's celebrate by finishing my goddamn application, shall we?!)

 My frustration is boundless. I am one email away from ending up on YouTube as "insane girl trashes computer and jumps out window OMG HILARIOUS!!!".

Swallowing the first lump of frustration and sucking up the fact that I will be paying for my anti-baby medication this month while my application continues to sit in the queue collecting e-dust was fine, until I called in my prescription renewal. It actually costs roughly the same for me to pay out of pocket for one prescription refill as it does for one month of this supposed health insurance I'm supposed to be on. (My birth control might actually be made of solid gold, too.)

The stress and frustration of this entire process is causing me to lose sleep. It's giving me headaches every time I have to sit on the phone for 20 minutes to wait for someone to answer my questions about the status of my application. It's so distracting that I can't even remember to fix my own grammar errors in this. I can't even focus on consistent punctuation.

The process of applying for health insurance is actually stressing me (a healthy person) out to the point of unhealthiness, and I'm zooming towards the inevitable mental breakdown that will land me (and probably some other people) in a hospital emergency room with the taxpayers footing the bill. Hey, sorry, you guys! I was willing to pay for my health insurance until my health insurance put me in the hospital!  NOW YOU'RE ALL FUCKED, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Presumably, I am not the only person going through this getting the runaround. So, the system is flawed--everyone knows this. Obamacare is supposed to fix the problems--okay, sounds great. (Though I have my doubts about the workings of a government who thinks it's perfectly okay to just stop working when they disagree. Look, I work for the Andy Dick of technology companies, and if I didn't show up for work because I disagreed with the way things were going, I would be at home all the time dreaming about my alligator wrestling days. That's not the way the world works, folks.)

If everyone is supposed to go through this process and you're trying to maintain some kind of order while they do, just fucking let people do it. Seriously. Stop complicating this any more than it is. I'm not trying to get out of it. I'm not trying to get the government to pay for it. I know I'm a big girl and this shit is important--hey, it's the law now, and I am indeed a law abiding citizen. But for fuck's sake, give people the tools that they need in order to follow your laws in the first place.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'm back from the Jellyfish Peace Corps, or something.


Here we are.


::tumbleweed rolling by::

::shuffles feet::

Listen, I'm not really great with confrontation (unless it's some kind of food confronting my face) and I don't really have much to say about the last couple--er--few months that I've neglected you, Blog, so  let's just pretend I was away doing some kind of amazing charity work, like picking up plastic grocery bags adrift in the ocean so that jellyfish wouldn't confusedly attempt to mate with them. Assuming jellyfish do not asexually reproduce... and, I mean, even if they do, it's probably good to keep them away from plastic bags so that they don't swim up all tryin' to engage in conversation and then just have to float there awkwardly while they're waiting for the plastic bag to respond, because I've been in stores  without my glasses on and have apologized to mannequins for bumping into them and I'm pretty sure no other silences are as uncomfortable as when you realize you're talking to inanimate objects.

You're welcome, jellyfish.

There are things going on in my life, but that's true for everyone I know, so I don't think I need to bother with the big things.  It's always the small things that matter.  Or, the devil's in the details, they say.  So:  here are some small things.

*This week, I finished reading The Dante Club and The Hound of the Baskervilles.  I have greedily started The Hobbit and The Book Thief simultaneously.  If literary gluttony is a sin, I imagine I'll be in the lowest circle of that particular hell, and my contrapasso will be to only have junk mail and various sports statistics to read.

*I had an opportunity to goad my friends, family and loved ones into recommending one of my short stories for an Edgar nomination.  Unfortunately, any kind of accolade rooted in nepotism would make me feel worse than not getting nominated at all.  This is why I failed in Los Angeles.

*I have learned some Arabic words.  Perhaps I'll try to learn the language.

*I probably have more to say, but EM is making steak fajitas and I'm bringing the booze.  If that's not good enough, just pretend I'm going back out to pull plastic grocery bags from the ocean and soothingly pet the awkward, wayward jellyfish.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I think I need a better book to read.

Hi, blog.  I missed you.  I did... really.  Things get weird in my brain when I don't write.  Well... weirder.

June is already winding down and I haven't been inspired to write in months.  I'm actually faking it right now to try and trick myself back into the habit.  It's not really working.  I'm just too clever.

Today, inexplicably, I really miss California.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I can't be the only one who worries about this.

Me:  Do you ever feel like our world is going to be swallowed by spam and junk mail and automated phone system telemarketers?  I've been worried about that lately.  Like one day, I'm just gonna wake up and call my mom to chat or something, but her voice will be all weird and stilted and all, "Press 1 if you're calling about a recipe.  Press 2 if you're calling to vent.  Press 3 for advice," and I'll end up cracking and going off the grid.

Friend:  Uh?  No.  Can't say that I'm really worried about it.  Are you... are you on meds or something?

Me:  No... it just concerns me.  I mean, I'm not really worried about robot overlords taking over the planet or aliens or even zombies, but I feel like I'm developing an increasingly intense fear that one day, it's all gonna be commercials and junk mail and spam emails with nauseating grammar and spelling errors.

Friend:  Spam emails nauseate you?

Me:  Oh God, yes.  Don't they do that to everyone?  You know what?  That actually might be at the root of my paralyzing anxiety:  the degradation of the English language at the hands of marketers, spammers, and advertisers.

Friend:  Sometimes I worry that you have a type of psychological hypochondria and you just start diagnosing neuroses and it all feeds your anxiety like some kind of catch-22.  I mean, are you really worried about spam taking over the world?!

Me:  Of course I am.  What I can't believe is that you're not worried about it.  You're probably on the right track with "psychological hypochondria," though.  But more importantly, at least I'm on the path to mental preparedness, (should such an event ever happen) because of this psychological hypochondria.

Friend:  It is amazing how far you can go on your paranoia alone.

Me:  Probably a side effect of my disease.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Tech Writing Qualifications

With the end of my internship, I've been nervously looking around for someone to hire me.  Unfortunately, most of my writing experience is in the editorial realm, and I live in an area where business and tech writing abounds.  In order to better compete with my competitive competitors in this particular competition for jobs, what follows is a very technical piece that I've been working on.  You guys are under no obligation to read it, since the technicality of the technicalness will probably be over your heads, and I don't want to be responsible for any of you having some kind of brain aneurysm from having to think too hard.  I'm a professional, after all.

Advanced Guide for Using an Internet

1.  First, locate your computer.  Double check to make sure that your computer has at least one cord coming out of it somewhere, otherwise you'll want to make sure you're not trying to log onto a cardboard box.  This is a common mistake.

2.  Is your cardboard box computer plugged in?  That means the cord should be stuck to the wall somewhere.  A good way to check is by tripping over that cord we discussed in Step 1.

3.  There is probably some kind of big button that is used for turning on your computer.  It's usually farther away from the other buttons, sort of like it's in a time out or something.  Go ahead and push it.  This is where the magic begins!

4.  You may have any number of Internet icons on your desktop.  Remember, an "icon" is a little picture that represents a computer "program" and your "desktop" is that background picture of the Cheezburger cat.

5.  Ha ha ha, yeah, that cat is pretty effing hilarious.  

6.  Okay, so back to the icons.  If your Internet icon is a little blue 'e,' that means you're using Internet Explorer, and your Internet will not actually work.  If you are in this category of computer users, you may go back to looking at the Cheezburger cat picture on your desktop and wait.

7.  If you are using Safari or perhaps Firefox, you are most likely some kind of computer wizard who understands things like string theory and how to make toast.  Well done!  Let's not get ahead of ourselves yet, though.

8.  You may now click twice on your Internet icon.  This step is called "double clicking" and it is an important skill to master. 

9.  When your Internet opens, you may start looking at websites or "surfing."  To find a particular website, find the long, blank bar near the top of the screen and type in

10.  Using Google is as important to web surfing as marijuana is to couch surfing.  With Google, you can search for everything in the universe, like "nearest Taco Bell" and "what is a tapeworm" and "cyborg pornography" and "show me more Cheezburger cats!" and "how much do new livers cost and can I remove my own?"

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  By now you should be well-versed in what computers are, how to "double click" on an "icon," and how to accurately and effectively use an Internet.  Congratulations on this accomplishment, savvy technology user!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Battle of the Sexy Sexes! (In which we all just look like chumps.)

I've been reading "Bossypants" by Tina Fey (I love her more than chili cheese fries) and there are a few sections in her book about what women go through to "be pretty" and the cycle of insecurity that it perpetuates.  I nearly peed in my pants when I read the first part because it's so funny, and so I went down to EM and EM's fiance's apartment to share in the hilarity, and what ensued was a rather unexpectedly heated discussion about who had it worse, men or women.  Since then, I've done a lot of thinking about the subject, and the conclusion that I came to is that we all lose.  Join me on this journey to discovery, won't you?

At first, I was pretty sure women had it worse than men.  As a female, I consider myself to be mostly low maintenance (don't all girls, though?) but there was a period of my life when I liked to spend my time getting dolled up.  Cleverly, much of this time was in college, so I figure when I die and get to the Pearly Gates, St. Peter is gonna be flipping through the book of my life and get to my college years and hopefully not see all of the shady, unpleasant things that I did while intoxicated because it's one big montage of hair curling and lip lining, and he'll just be all, "Yeah, you spent a LOT of time just getting ready to go out, so I guess I'll just skip forward here..." Because I did.  Hours.  Added up, probably at least 3 times more than the time that I was actually out.  But damn, I looked good doing it!  (For the time that I was sober, so after that first 15 minutes it was all drool and drunk eyes.)  Even now, as a low maintenance gal (that is my story and I'm sticking to it), I still have entire days devoted to grooming.  Seriously.  I'm going to give you a look behind the veil of what the average woman goes through.

We have days that we have to pre-groom.  These are days we need to:  dye our roots and/or hair, pluck or wax eyebrows, shave the entirety of our bodies, exfoliate, moisturize, deep condition, anti-age, buff, polish, trim, etc.  Hell, there are several steps to just WASHING your face if you're a girl.  It's never just soap. It's a cleanser, then a gentle exfoliation, then a facial mask, then toner and moisturizer.  Oh, the moisturizer.  It is most likely something freakishly expensive, like ground up baby fetuses that we slather over our skin to hide wrinkles and blemishes and everything else that shows we are human and we are imperfect and might have wrinkles or oily T-zones.  And that's just pre-grooming, you guys.  That does not include what we still have to go through on a daily basis to style hair, apply makeup, and accessorize our outfits with squish-suppressing underwear usually made of the torture devices known as Lycra and Spandex.

I'm made of Photoshop!
My point is, it is exhausting.  And even then, after everything that we go through, after all of the money that we spend, absolutely none of us thinks we look good naked.  There are industries upon industries that market to our insecurities.  I'm not even getting into plastic surgery here.  If you ask the average girl what she likes about herself, she might not know how to respond.  But, if you ask her what she dislikes about herself, she's got a list a mile long.

Now, I can hear you men yelling at me.  "But I like a natural looking woman!  I hate a woman who takes forever to get ready and wears tons of makeup!  I think that's awful!"  First of all, shut up, you dirty, dirty liar.  You cannot honestly expect us women to believe you like women to look "natural," when "natural" to you is Megan Fox rolling around all dewy and fresh-faced in sheets in some Maxim spread.  If you really believe that's what women look like in the morning, you are probably wearing a helmet and eating paste.  Trust me.  EM is a professional makeup artist, and it takes more makeup to look "natural" than if some stripper came in asking for a smokey eyeshadow application and body glitter all over.  Natural, to women, means greasy hair in a ponytail, no makeup (but somehow always smudges of yesterday's eyeliner), weird pimple cream on our zits, baggy tee-shirts, and some kind of soft, flannel, pajama pants.  We love natural, too, you see.  We just don't want you to see it.  I even know girls who, if staying with their boyfriend overnight, will get up early, run into the bathroom to brush their teeth and put a "natural" face on (powder, mascara, lip balm) and rush back into bed so that they can pretend that they're waking up looking that good when their man wakes up.

Not that I am maligning the beauty industry, because I play along just as much as everyone else.  I don't want to leave my house without makeup on.  I don't want to be seen with my hair or my clothes other than put-together, but I accept that much of it is about illusion.  Do I really believe that some dreamboat is going to look at me and think, "Yeah, I bet she rolls out of bed looking like that every day!  I BETTER PUT A RING ON IT!"?  No, because that's unrealistic.  It will not, however, stop me from wanting to at least have a face on if I have to run errands somewhere.

So yes, being a girl is tough.  But EM's fiance reminded me that there are industries that market to men's insecurities, too, and while they may not be the same things as women, it's still based on being "good enough."  Men are supposed to have abdominal muscles and pectoral muscles and biceps that people only get by drinking raw eggs and doing sit ups until you herniate something in your spine, and while you're at it, fight genetics with pills like Enzyte to make your junk bigger and longer lasting with Viagra and Cialis, and then smear some Rogaine on your head (because women hate balding men, didn't you know?) and hop into a car that you can't actually afford to make payments on, and then, ONLY THEN, will we with vaginas give you the time of day.  If we aren't PMSing, and if we want you to buy us something, that is.  All in all, I feel bad for guys.  I do.  Women might have more things to worry about in terms of body image, but I can at least pass for attractive without having to convince myself that I need a Mercedes to attract a mate.  (Which, if you think that, I would assume are the same helmet-wearing, paste-eating person that believes porn and romcoms dictate romance.  NO!  NO!  ::spray bottle:: NO!)

My conclusion is that it's all a fucking shitshow.  A circus.  "Enhancing" your appearance to look more attractive isn't a new idea, and it's not one that will go away.  It isn't even exclusively human.  The important thing is knowing where to draw the line, I guess.  To that end, no gender really comes out on top.  No one really has it harder than the other (haha, 'harder') because it's difficult in different ways.  So, don't judge a book by its cover, don't think you're any worse off than anyone else, and if you meet anyone who thinks they'll find the love of their life just as soon as they get that boob job or that fancypants car, bitch slap them once for me.