Saturday, December 21

Hey internet, what should I do with my life? No, seriously.

It's been a bit of a mad year. I started driving, changed jobs twice, met a human, moved out of home and in with said human, and LOOK PURPLE HAIR!


(Sorry for the terrible webcam selfie, but my camera was stolen and I don't know how to internet anymore.)

This year has been exhausting and uplifting and good-weird and bad-weird. I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue, which came from a combination of stress and anaemia. While taking iron supplements took the edge off (pills are the best!) I was still all uuuuugh, you know? Moving from spammy copywriting to being a downright content mill to doing social media full time - all within four months - was intense. And all that moving didn't make me happy, because I kept moving AWAY from stuff - horrible management, crazy output goals, soulless companies. The usual.

After a year of changes, I now realize something BIG needs to change. Not just the thing I do every day, but how I feel about it, you know?

I don't want to be stressed every day. I don't want to cringe or roll my eyes when I think of my job. I don't want to sit in the same chair for hours, browsing Buzzfeed and waiting for the work day to end so my life can start. I want to be doing something that matters, and moving towards something rather than treading water and paying rent, man.

And maybe it's immature, unrealistic, selfish and arrogant to want more than that  - after all, I am no special snowflake. I recognise this. I'm just another mildly talented, undisciplined twenty-something with a caffeine abuse problem.

But, despite all my grumblings, I'm an optimist. And I'm going to at least TRY to find fulfilling work. So I started researching what makes people not hate their jobs. The fabulous Brain Pickings directed me to this imperfect but helpful book. And it has an exercise in it that I can't do on my own, boo!

So this is the part where I ask for your help.

Oh wise, clever, sexy internet, please take a few minutes to read the thing below and tell me what you think.

This is basically a personal job ad - like a dating profile but less for finding suitable grope partners and more for finding a career path that doesn't make me want to cry in the office bathroom.

What I'd like you to do is read the thing, give it a bit of a think, and suggest 2 or 3 specific careers that you think match the description. (You need no qualifications to give your opinion - I just need may different voices with many different points of view.) It doesn't matter if I have the experience or education to actually do that job, just that you think it'd suit me.

Comment with your suggestions and it'll help me SOOO MUCH in deciding what the hell I want to do with myself next year.

Okay, enough foreplay, here's the thing: (that's what she said)

Slightly nuts young woman seeks fulfilling employment. 

Talents include:
  • Writing
  • Critical thinking
  • Events organisation
  • Doing tomahawk stops on skates
Job seeker is passionate about:
  • Music
  • Damn good TV
  • Feminism
  • Puns
  • Roller derby
  • Communicating with the written word
  • Sleep
Her personal qualities include:
  •  A love of learning
  • A desire to make a difference in the world (she strongly believes in the healing, restorative power of art)
  • A love of animals
  • A dislike of direct sunlight
  • A binge/purge approach to productivity
  • Problems with authority
  • An editorial eye
  • A loathing for half-assed work
  • A dislike of herding cats (aka telling people what to do)
  • Limited physical and emotional energy
  • Misanthropy
  • A playful nature
  • An internet addiction (she would prefer work that doesn’t involve staring at computers – she’s sick of that)
  • Crazy hair. 
She’d love to make enough money to be independent, buy nice food and not have to seek dental treatment in back alleys. 

What would be a great job / career path for Slightly Nuts Young Woman? Comment below!

Sunday, August 25

Why the fuck should I care if anyone thinks I'm pretty?

I was at a pub with some awesome people - five girls and one guy. He said he didn't really feel like 'one of the girls' so I lent him my alice band - which had a big black bow on it. (He totally worked it, for the record.)

We had a few laughs and a little while later he handed it back. 

Then some random middle-aged man came up to me and said, "Give him back the bow - he looks much cuter in it than you. No offence, hahaha!"

Naturally, I smiled. I do that when I'm nervous. Then I told him to fuck off. I do that when I'm not happy. And then, because he thought I was joking, I ignored him until he went away.

The conversation in our group was a bit stunted by that rude and awkward encounter, but it started to flow again. More jokes, more shots, more silly stories.

But I wanted to take the bow off.

I couldn't WAIT until I could take the bow off. 

In fact, the only reason I didn't reach up and pulling it off  right away was anger. Anger that some fucking random douche in a bar thought he could a) tell me what to do, b) insult me in front of my friends and c) make me feel like shit because...?

Because what? 

Because I let my mood - nay, my entire self esteem - be dictated by the whims of a random stranger.

Because it's normal for someone like me to feel completely collapsed by a smidgen of negative attention from someone like that.

Because he thought he - as a male or a white guy or king of the universe or whatever - believed he had the right to dictate how I should look. 

Because every single day, society tells me that I'm worthless unless someone thinks I'm pretty.

And what the fuck is up with that?

I don't think I'm really under the thrall of mass media. I roll my eyes when big media posts a picture of a woman existing, and declares that she's flaunting or bravely baring her body. Like every moment of a woman's life is spent trying to project her hotness to the general public. 

Like the idea that a woman might just fucking BE instead of obsessing about how she looks is inconceivable.

But clearly, some of those messages stick like splinters in my subconscious. From Seventeen to CNN, every institution tells me: 'To justify your existence, you must be beautiful."

It's also something that bothers me about the fat positive* movement. Of course, as a fat girl I appreciate the acceptance and understanding that fat positivity brings. BUT it bothers me that so much fat positive stuff boils down to "Look -  fat girls can be beautiful! Fat girls can be sexy! ALL THESE MEN approve of plus-size women! Yaaaay!" No. Not yay. Boo.

Boo for "but at least SOMEONE thinks you're pretty" being the bottom line.

Boo for that raw inner nerve that's still struck by a random man being rude to me. That tiny belief that if only I were beautiful, I'd be safe. 

That nerve that's still there even though I know I am smart, talented, and loved. Even though I know in my head that I am a valuable human being who has a right to exist - no matter what I look like.  

Confession: I thought about ending this post with a picture of me in the offending big-bow alice band. It's tempting to end on a note of "But that guy was wrong, I DID look totally cute!" 

But I won't.

I don't have to prove to anybody that I'm pretty.

I don't have to care.

I don't have to give my power away.

And I'm going to keep telling myself that, until that raw nerve is healed up by my self respect.

*Obviously this is only a single facet of the fat positive movement - and I do think it's important as a whole. I just think the "don't worry - fat girls can be pretty too!" thing is misguided.

Saturday, July 27

Today in Things You Didn't Want to Know

I'm at a new job where I have to scour the internet for news - and I come across some pretty weird stuff.

Like this shit:

Beat that, FML.

Saturday, April 20

Tortured Nicolas Cage Puns > Work

So this all started when my worky-friend Robyn went off on holiday with her boyfriend and didn't even take me with. Rude!

As is customary with our dorky awesome group of worker bees, we had to do something silly to her desk before she got back. As an example of the incredibly high standards at my office, here's what happened to my desk when I took two weeks off back in February:

Yes, that's a disco ball.

The plot thickened when Robs announced that she got engaged on the last day of her holiday - now, her desk not only had to say "We're bitter that you went on holiday" but also "Congrats, dude!"

And then, a beautiful pun was born.

Congratulations on your enCAGEment!
Every inch of her workspace was diligently covered with a frighteningly enthusiastic Nicolas Cage! So simple yet so effective. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm more proud of this project than any of the actual work I've done at this company. Well, maybe I'm a little ashamed. But I'm a copywriter, shame is part of the job description.

After the big reveal and the explanation of the pun and then the dawn of realization and then the laughter, Robyn's desk went relatively back to normal, but there was one glaring problem.

What does one do with around a hundred Nicolas Cages?

A question many prank-inclined philosophers have battled with.

At first they all got stuffed in the bottom drawer of my desk. But then... something started happening.

It started off simply enough...


Then it got kinda abstract...

enCAGE... or N*Cage, if you prefer

Then it got kinda meta...


Then it got confusing...

birdCAGE in a CAGEbirdcage

I took some requests...

A glass CAGE of emotion

The glitter glue and rolly-stamps did not go unused...

Nicolas RAGE

I'm sad to say I found this amusing for much longer than everyone else. The thought the magic had faded. BUT THE MAGIC WILL NEVER FADE.

Not with the mighty powers of Nicolas MAGE

 Okay, maybe I went a little crazy there.

Do forgive me.

It's just a Cage I'm going through.

Thursday, March 28

Lifehack! How to Break a Habit

As I've said before, I'm a loser who's bad at life (not as bad as some people, but still pretty bad,) and that's why I read books with titles like The No-Moving 100% Ice Cream Law Of Attraction Diet and Chicken Soup for the Twitter Addict's Broken Husk of a Soul. I've probably read upwards of forty of these sorts of books and here is one of the three* that have actually changed my life in a tangible, positive way.

It's called The Power of Habit, and it's AMAZING. Not only is it impeccably researched and well written, but it offers a fascinating combination of the science behind habits, and how to apply those lessons to make everyday life more awesome.

The Power Of Habit by Charles "the shiz" Duhigg.
I just made that nickname up but here's hoping it catches on.

There are so many fun facts in this book it makes me want to cry, and Charles Duhigg's clear and engaging style made me fly through the 300-odd pages. I mean, when I learned that at least 60% of our behaviour is driven by habits rather than conscious decision making? It blew my mind. The conscious 40% of it anyway. The other 60% was eating a cookie at the time.

So here's the coolest part of the book: the habit loop. Every habit comes in this structure and learning it basically lets you break habits and hack your life and win at everything!

How does it work? Basically, every habit consists of three elements:

1. Cue: that thing that triggers the habit, like a certain time of day makes you want to have lunch or a looming sense of anxiety makes you want to check your phone so your hands look busy.
2. Routine: the actual habit you act out, like smoking a cigarette or unlocking your phone and navigating to facebook (I do that so automatically I can be halfway through replying to a message before I realize I'm even on my phone.)
3. Reward: what you're getting out of it, whether it's as vague as momentary distraction or as powerful as the dopamine rush of someone proposing to you on twitter.

As a rule, the cue will trigger a craving for the reward, and the routine is the flexible part which you can alter to make real, lasting changes.

It's really interesting to take a behaviour you want to change and dissect it into these three separate parts. Some habits are easier to analyse than others: if your cue is thirst, your routine is getting a glass of water and your reward is relief from dehydration. Bam!

Of course, nobody wants to break the habit of water drinking so let's go with something more interesting: incessant phone checking.

Dopamine may stain some fabrics.

Our cue here is a nagging little anxiety, which creates the craving for that happy little rush that social media provides. It's that craving that gets the habit loop rolling through the routine of checking your phone, and of course once the habit is established you're not in conscious decision mode anymore. The cue comes along, and just like a zombie, or a lab rat, or a soccer mom who's been sleep deprived for eight years, you automatically act out the routine in order to get your reward. In fact, the cue gets you excited about the reward so you get a pre-rush just starting the habit. It's like a little shortcut that your brain takes to save time. Isn't that amazing / terrifying?

Now that we've identified the habit, we have the power to break it - well, actually 'break' isn't the right word, because this habit's structure will always be in place: anxiety will always trigger a craving for relief and distraction.

It's the routine bit that we can manipulate to get a better result. See how the routine has a little dotted line surrounding it so you can cut it out? That means you can replace it with something else. The important part is that the new routine is triggered by the same cue, and offers the same reward. To mix metaphors, you're putting a different train on the same track in your brain! You're rewiring your powerful unconscious networks! You are the one, Neo!

It's fun to experiment with different routines until you find just the right one to hit that reward in the nuts. For our example, an alternative to checking your phone might be:

  • Having a glass of wine
  • Taking three deep breaths
  • Popping a happy pill
  • Pulling out a Moleskine notebook and writing a haiku about your feelings

As you can see, some of these solutions are better than others. But I included stuff like having a glass of wine to illustrate that the routine can have negative consequences but still serve to satisfy the craving. That explains why people who quit an addiction often replace it with another - because the craving has to be satisfied and the habit loop's already in place. But if you become conscious of it, you can replace the routine with something healthier and better for your liver.

And of course after you've changed the routines in your existing habits, you can create wholly new habits that have a much bigger chance of sticking around because you know how habits are structured. Your brain wires this stuff the same way every time: get yourself a clear cue, plan a sustainable routine and give yourself a powerful reward and see how much easier it is to make changes than when you're just white-knuckling it and hoping for the best.

Obviously this post is only scratching the surface of this cool concept but I hope it helps a bit and piques some interest in this whole process. If you dig it, I highly recommend The Power of Habit if you want to level up the train tracks of EXISTENCE.** Or if, like me, you just want to stop pulling your hair out or checking your phone so much.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a glass of wine while breathing deeply and writing a haiku about my feelings.

*If you're wondering what the other two are: Follow Your Own North Star by Martha Beck, and A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Both brilliant.
** Yes, I've mixed so many metaphors I seem to have ended up with a metaphor salad. All it's missing is the avo of truth.

Saturday, February 16

Sail: An Open Letter To Myself

(Disclaimer: I have never been sailing, nor do I have a clear idea of what a boat looks like. But just go with it.)

The more I stay here, the more I see that destiny is only the direction of the breeze.

It's up to you to hoist the sails, get on the water, build a fucking boat.

You could go your whole life procrastinating, letting your nerves and doubts keep you safe and sad.

Moving forward, getting something done, creating something worthwhile, is not something that happens to you.

It comes from hard, unsexy, uninspired work. It's about choosing a sense of accomplishment over comfort.

Comfort is lovely.

Comfort is a dangerous narcotic.

You must work on something that makes you happy, otherwise the work will exhaust you.

Everyone is built for something. Everyone has that thing that pushes all their happy buttons at once - being a stay at home parent, a game ranger, an entrepreneur. 

But finding that thing doesn't mean being high all the time. It doesn't mean that confusion, frustration, or fear will never return.

Finding it just means that the wind is in your sails. That's a big deal, a big relief, a big chance to be the best person you can be.

But it's just that: a chance. Not a promise or a money-back guarantee.

Actually doing it, choosing the forward motion instead of fighting with your crew or bobbing around the water in a place that looks good enough.... that's up to you.

So go.


Tuesday, January 1

Big Bang's 'Fantastic Baby': The Only Song You Need In 2013

I'm the first to admit that I don't really 'get' K-pop, but I think everyone needs the video for Big Bang's Fantastic Baby in their lives on a daily basis.

Just look at it. Seriously. WATCH IT RIGHT NOW.

I'll wait.

Seriously, wasn't that just the best four minutes ever?

It's got everything you could possibly want in a music video. And in life:

  • Sassy half-English rap
  • Some sort of post-apocalyptic universe where music is apparently considered evil (so it's sort of like that town from Footloose, I guess?)
  • A disproportionate amount of eyeliner for a video starring zero women
  • One man's hair going from red to white to yellow to pink in the space of four minutes
  • Another man whose hair is as blue as the sky and as wavy as the ocean
  • Lip applique (again, no women star in this video)
  • A point (1:32) where I ALWAYS laugh out loud where a topless blonde man earnestly sings as he is chained to a wall (supposedly by the oppressive anti-music regime [or as they like to call themselves, the pro-talk-radio movement])
  • Outfits, sets and CROWNS so fabulously elaborate they must have been a designer's dream / nightmare
  • Pretty Korean boys
  • More pretty Korean boys
  • I mean, seriously, no amount of plastic surgery or photoshop will EVER make you as pretty as these Korean boys*

So I did a little research and the sassy rapper (the one in the beginning) is called G-Dragon and is kind of a big deal. I watched a few of his other videos and his sass is as boundless as his willingness to look silly. I heartily endorse him.

The other ridiculously pretty one (Mister Blue Hair) is called T.O.P, and I sincerely hope he was aware of how that sounds in English-speaking queer culture, and named himself that totally on purpose**. Because otherwise that'd be pretty embarrassing. But anyway, I checked and he isn't genetically engineered. ALLEGEDLY.***

Hey wait, what if the music-haters in the video are actually a metaphor for North Korea? I watched a documentary that said every house in NK is fitted with a propaganda radio speaker thingy that can never be turned off! So... guys, Fantastic Baby is totally a veiled critique of totalitarianism. And talk radio.

Hey, let's watch it again!


*By 'you' I mean 'me'
** LOL
*** I googled "T.O.P. Korean rapper genetically engineered" and my computer froze and then google showed me a bunch of stuff about PSY and genetically modified crops. So let's just say there's no proof that he's NOT genetically engineered.