One Reason I Belong In Seattle

I really need to eat healthier. I eat a lot of starches and grains, hardly any vegetables, some fruits, and lots of meat. Lots of junk food too. But mostly grains and meats. It all seems very counter-intuitive when I want to be in the best shape I can possibly be, inside and out. I have formed the habit of going for a jog most days of the week, taking my vitamins everyday, making a fruit smoothie most days.

But today, I realized that I had smoked salmon in the freezer because my friend Caitlin brought me some last time she came over, and I rejoiced for all of the nutrients I’d soon be consuming. It’s really good with whipped cream cheese. I never buy fish because ground beef and chicken are cheaper, but I always yearn for the vitamins and nutrients that fish provides. The iron that I need to donate blood. The energy and brain activity that would help me focus better. Every time I go to a fancy restaurant that Kurt and I don’t have to pay for (it happens), I get salmon. Or shrimp. But usually salmon. You know, it’s funny that I’m all over seafood now. As a kid, the only seafood I’d eat was fish sticks, and that hardly counts. Well, and tuna fish sandwiches. But I still claimed that I hated seafood. I guess I just didn’t like the fishy smell of the ocean, therefore I wouldn’t like fish in their natural state. It made sense at the time.

Turns out, I love seafood. I still haven’t tried clams because I can’t get past the idea of how slimy they are, but I did have a spoonful of Kurt’s clam chowder once, and it was good. Once. But other than that, not much is off the table. Once I had tried cedar-planked salmon at McCormick and Schmick’s in Kansas City on my 21st birthday, I was hooked.

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Where it all started.

That salmon, salty and savory and sweet, crispy and tender and juicy, full of flavor and happiness, opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Lobster, crab, shrimp, halibut, cod… I wanted everything. But not scallops. What even are they? I don’t know, but I don’t trust how they look. One day.

A goal I have is to one day live close enough to the coast and make enough money that we can eat fresh seafood everyday. *sigh* It’s a dream, but I don’t think it’s unattainable. I’m so close.

 

What do you like now that you didn’t when you were a kid?

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“You Could Model”

Today, while I was cashiering in apparel, two different women told me I looked like a celebrity. The first said “a prettier Cameron Diaz, which is a compliment,” and the second said, “a much younger Martha Stewart, like from her modeling days.” Now, first, I had already assumed that “a prettier Cameron Diaz” was a compliment because I think Cameron Diaz is a very pretty lady…

An old picture. I think she was about 23 or younger.

A rather old photo. I can kind of see the resemblance.

…and second, Martha Stewart was a model?! As soon as I got off work, I looked it up on my phone. Indeed, she was. 

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I thought this one looked most like me. 

Before today, I don’t recall many times that people have compared me to celebrities. I’ve tried in vain to upload a picture to those “who is your celebrity doppleganger?” websites or quizzes and see who looks like me. I always got Asian people I’ve never heard of, I guess because I have a squinty smile. Those websites never do a very good job. But I had come to accept that my face is distinctly my own and I don’t seem to share enough features with any one famous person for anyone to say, “hey, you look like her!” I didn’t need to look like anyone else, much less anyone famous. It’s a silly, trivial thing. Not a bad thing though. Just unimportant.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting that these two observations happened on the same day, and they were both comparisons I had never heard before, from two women around the same age. The second woman, as she left, said, “You could model!” It was very flattering. I’ve always wanted to model. I’ve just never had the money for an agency (but then, I’ve heard that any agency that makes you pay hundreds of dollars just for a headshot card and simple portfolio is a scam. I have no idea), or enough connections to photographers. I mean, I know photographers. And I’ve asked if I could model for them. I’ve asked friends who model how I could get into it. It never leads anywhere though. I’d love to do it if there weren’t so many hoops to jump through. So I resign myself to my 365 project, which is kind of turning into a 52 project, as in one picture a week. I keep meaning to get back into taking a good picture everyday, but it’s a tough habit to form when a lack of quality photos discourages me from trying for quality photos the next day… it’s a cycle. There are days, though, when I take the time to plan, find a good location, the lighting is just right, my vision is realized, and I get pictures I’m actually happy with. It’s good practice for photography and for modeling, so hopefully, if I can get back into it, it can get me somewhere.

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What’s something for which you wish you had more time?

Finishing The Unfinished

When Kurt and I first moved into our house, my great-aunt Mary and great-uncle Duncan had recently moved out in order to live in assisted living. They didn’t need or have the space for many of their things in their new places, so we were allowed to claim some things that they didn’t want for sentimental value. A few glass tumblers, some blankets, and a whole lot of sewing supplies and materials. Included in the sewing materials was a half-finished skirt, for which I knew my great-aunt, in her state of health, would have no use. Last night, I felt like being crafty, so I decided to finish it. 

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The very top hem, the two darts, and the zipper were all hand-sewn by me. The bottom hem, the gathering, and the seam between the skirt and waist band were already done.

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The seam that connected the whole skirt together below the zipper was also my handiwork. It was tricky, but ended up being not as difficult as I’d expected! I think if I’d attempted to use my machine, I would have royally messed it up. 

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The whole thing, turned back right side out. If only I had found a thread that matched, like Mary used on the bottom hem. I decided that I liked the obviously handmade look and figured I’d cover up the stitches on the top hem anyway…

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With lace! 😀 I found some lace that was just long enough to go around almost the entire waistband! Hooray!

 

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All done! Yay! It’s pretty short, but I think it would be great for a hot, sunny day with no wind and no stairs to climb. I could also wear leggings with it. The high waist makes it feel kind of retro! It would be fun to dance in!

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It feels so good to have made something, even if I didn’t start it from scratch. 🙂 I think I’m going to get back to making things more often. 

 

 

“The Geography of Bliss” Review

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I’ve just finished reading the “The Geography of BIiss” by Eric Weiner (ironically pronounced “whiner”), published in 2008. Freaking finally. I used to finish books so fast, but now I’ve developed the bad habit of only reading books on the bus, while waiting for a bus, or on breaks at work. It took me nearly two weeks. My relaxation time at home is spent watching all of the many TV shows that Kurt and I keep up with. I’m trying to change that, for I have so many books I want to read. This one, I picked up in a Half-Price Books after only reading the back cover. It was cheap, it looked interesting, and I liked the cover art. It turned out to be a book I will probably read many more times in my lifetime.

In 2008, Eric Weiner has been an NPR foreign correspondent for 10 years, reporting from at least 30 countries, as well as several major US cities. He has written for a couple of other newspapers and websites, and now lives in the Washington D.C. area, where he “divides his time between his living room and kitchen,” according to the “About The Author” section of the book. Sounds like we’d get along. After reporting news all around the world for so many years, mostly on terrible, tragic events, Weiner decided that he wanted something happy. There’s got to be something good out there, but what is it and how will he find it?

In the book, he details his quest to find out what makes different countries happy and unhappy. He starts at the World Database of Happiness (DBH), a bank of knowledge built and maintained by Ruut Veenhoven, the man at the forefront of the study of happiness. In the DBH is listed nearly every country in the world, accompanied by a number, its average happiness score. Weiner then travels to 10 of the happiest and unhappiest countries, starting with The Netherlands, where the DBH is located. In each country, immerses himself in the local culture as much as possible, collecting interviews about happiness along the way. In most countries he visits, he also meets with Americans who have moved to that country, so he gets the insider, outsider, and insider-turned-outsider perspective on why the people in that country are happy or not, and how it compares to other parts of the world. I won’t go into it too much, so you can learn what he learned for yourself.  But I will say that I found it very enlightening. It made me want to travel and meet these people.

Through all of Weiner’s experiences, he keeps coming back to one thing: Your culture will affect how you view your circumstances, but that doesn’t mean everyone is predetermined to be happy or unhappy just because of where they live. Everyone has the power to see life in a more positive light if they want to. What matters is what you choose to value. If you value family more than personal success, you’ll be happier as a housewife with children than someone who values personal success over raising progeny. It’s different for everyone, and that’s great. If we weren’t all different, the world would be so boring.

Basically, this is my first book review and it kind of got away from me, but I highly recommend this book.

The Indie Author Manifesto

As a self-published author who has more on the way, this means a lot to me.

Indie Hero

Indie Authors.

Each and every one of us should post this on our websites, blogs, etc.

THE INDIE AUTHOR MANIFESTO by Mark Coker @ Smashwords:

Indie Author Manifesto

THE INDIE AUTHOR MANIFESTO


We indie authors believe all writers are created equal, that all writers are endowed with natural creative potential, and that writers have an unalienable right to exercise, explore and realize their potential through the freedom of publication. 

I hold these truths to be self-evident:

  1. I am an indie author
  2. I have experienced the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from self-publishing
  3. I have a right to publish
  4. My creative control is important to me.  I decide when, where and how my writing graduates to become a published book.
  5. Indie does not mean “alone.”  I choose my partners.
  6. I shall not bow beholden or subservient to any publisher. In my business relationships, I seek partnership, fairness, equity and mutually aligned interests.
  7. We indie…

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I’m Editing A Book

I’ve started editing a book for a guy I met at my friend Caitlin’s church. I was just chatting with one of the pastors and mentioned that I’m an editor working in retail. He said he knew a guy who had written a book and needed and editor, so I said, “Introduce me!” He did, and I gave the guy, Jeff, my email address. A few days later, he emailed me, and the day after that, he sent me his book, and I’m now about halfway through.

This is the first freelance job that hasn’t fallen through on me since I began my search. This is the first paid editing job I’ve had since being the copy desk chief at The Observer. That is, of course, if this job is even paid. We haven’t talked about it. Before anyone goes, “You should have written up a contract before even starting, amateur,” I didn’t think about it because I got the impression that he was a college student or recent grad just like me who probably can’t afford much. I’m not an experienced book editor and in my opinion, don’t really have any business charging a professional rate for my first gig. And he’s not a professional or terribly experienced writer, which is probably why he didn’t think to bring it up either. He says he has four more books after the one I’m editing right now, so if he can’t pay for this one but likes my work, then I’ll be firm and say I’ll edit the rest but not for free. I’m fine with doing the work I love for free now and then. At least this gives me a chance to get back into the swing of editing and show someone that I have a marketable skill. 

But then again, I have no idea what his situation is. Maybe he’s well aware of typical editing rates these days and is fully prepared to pay the $148-$296 this will cost, if the websites I’ve discovered via Google are accurate. I could charge hourly, per page, or per word, and then that will vary by type of editing. Simple proofreading all the way to extensive content editing and revising, it’s a wide spectrum. But the aforementioned numbers are what I’ve picked. Once I did the math (I went with $2-4 per page), it seemed like a lot, but maybe that’s just because I, personally, don’t even have $50 to spare right now.  Maybe he does have that kind of money. Maybe he has other book-writing friends who have more money and more books that need editing. I have hope. Staying positive. I’ll email him today and see what happens.

How To Make Retail Worker’s Day

You may or may not have heard of the website notalwaysright.com. It’s a blog to which anyone can submit a story about a terrible customer they had at work. The things people will say really blows me away sometimes. The stories can be infuriating, strange, or just funny. A common trend I’ve seen in these stories is that many customers just do not seem to be aware of the fact that the employees they are attacking are human beings just like them who are just trying to earn a living. It’s amazing. But maybe they just need to be educated on how working in retail works from an employee’s perspective. Since it’s been about a year that I’ve been working in retail, I have begun to not just sympathize but empathize with the posters on notalwaysright.com. So here’s my little list of how to be the best retail customer ever.

1. Don’t immediately become impatient when the first employee you ask doesn’t have the answer to your question. Especially if they immediately offer to call their manager and ask them. Chances are, they don’t know the answer because they’re new, or they are just passing through a department that they don’t actually work in, or they (strangely) do not have the prices of every item in the store memorized. There is usually a good reason when an employee says, “I don’t know,” so have some grace, and be glad that they offered to find someone who WILL know. That’s the important thing: Someone knows, and the person who doesn’t know is not representative of the entire company or entire store, so your frustrated sigh will only make them feel awkward and embarrassed. It’s okay. More than likely, you will get your answer. The employee wishes they could help you faster, trust me. 

2. For goodness sake, pick up after yourself! No, we don’t expect you to put away everything you tried on and decided not to purchase. We’ll do that. But most dressing rooms have a rack just outside that you can hang your unwanted clothes on, and that’s there for a reason. It’s not very hard to pick up everything you tried on and hand it to the employee waiting outside, who will gladly put it away. I mean, you carried it in there yourself, so we know it’s not too much. There is nothing more annoying than opening a room for a customer and finding that the previous person left a giant pile of clothes on the bench, which the employee didn’t see because they were off helping a different customer find something. The new customer sees this mess and thinks “messy store” and the employee then has to pick up everything in front of the customer and make them wait a few more seconds to use the room. Not fun. 

Also–and I don’t even know what is going through people’s minds when this happens–if you knock something onto the floor, pick it up and put it back where you found it. I don’t care if things aren’t folded as long as they’re on the shelf. If something was on a hanger and you’re too lazy to hang it back up, at least drape it over the rack. That’s not hard. How would you like to bend down and pick things up off of the floor every ten minutes for seven hours?

3. Have a good reason for arguing over prices. A sales associate, even a manager (unless it’s a little ‘mom and pop’ shop) have zero control over prices. Occasionally, one or two things are placed on the wrong rack, resulting in a price that doesn’t match the sign next to the rack, and that is our fault. But if our clearance prices go from 40% off to 50, to 60, to 70, and then back down to 40 in a matter of weeks, and you miss the ‘70% off’ day because you failed to look at the weekly ad in the paper, that is NOT our fault. I actually had a guy who was angry because he missed the ‘70% off’ day and wanted $5 off his item, which was already 40% off the clearance price. Amazing. He even said, “This [child’s] jacket has been here for weeks, but the clearance price keeps changing! I don’t even think it’s worth $15! [the original price].” Yeah, that’s how clearance works.

Also, don’t get angry at a random employee when something that isn’t even advertised to be on sale is more expensive than you think it’s worth. We can do literally nothing about that, especially if it’s a place like Fred Meyer, where products come from a huge variety of vendors, so prices are going to vary by brand. It’s okay. Get the store brand.

4. Don’t steal. I mean, obviously. We can see you. We’re not stupid.

5. Don’t swipe your card until the cashier tells you that you can. I know the little pin pad device says “Please swipe card now” all the time, but usually, the card will not go through if I’m in the middle of scanning items. How is the computer supposed to know how much to charge you? Yes, sometimes, we’ll get to the end, you’ll have already swiped it, and everything will be fine. But it’s so awkward to have to say, “Looks like the card didn’t go through the first time. Can you swipe it again?” when you’ve already put it away and then you sigh, pull it out, pause, and say, “Will it charge me twice?” No. You have the approve the amount before it will actually charge you, and you won’t even see the “approve this amount” screen until after I’ve hit “total” and the form of tender on the register. So relax. Better to play it safe. Do like our ancestors did and pay after you know the total. 

6. Be friendly. Cashiers, or anyone who works in customer service, really, get so used to saying, “Have a nice day,” or something along those lines, all day, every day, without even thinking about it. So when a customer says, “You too!” or better yet, asks us how WE’RE doing, oh my gosh, that makes our day so much better. Be a pleasant customer and you will be the best customer. Smile and thank us for helping you, because we are doing our best. “Thank you”s are amazing. 

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I’m sure I’ll think of more at work this weekend. But tomorrow, I’m going to the Seattle Art Museum with my husband. For free! First Thursday of every month! 

 

What else can customers know in order to be the best customers ever?