Writing About Writing

writing-girlI made more than a few mistakes in the last 15 months when it came to my writing career.

I didn’t take my work very seriously and subsequently nobody else did. When asked about my books, I would get all shy about it and say the books are silly light fiction and ramble a bit about the plot and people would generally nod politely and change the subject.  I think I gave people the impression that this was a hobby or a passing fancy and not a job.

It is a job.

Now, if someone asks me of my weekend plans I say in my most confident voice, “when I’m not cleaning offices, I write books and sell them on Amazon.”   This gets people’s attention. All positive. People associate me more as a writer at work than a cleaner.  Fake it ‘til you make and all that.

The great thing about the advent of e-books is that anyone can write and format a book and put it online. The drawback to such an accomplishment is that people still associate self publish with amateur shit.   I wish I had a way to kill this misconception but I don’t.

In all my books the characters are always searching for insight (the characters in my book are much smarter than me and really have their shit together) but I fear I have no insight about my writing except that I produce an excellent product at a fair price.

That’s why I just keep typing away.

My Second and Third Week Without A Car

I sold my car this week and as an added bonus, I got a ca$h refund back on my apartment parking spot.

More Learnin’

vintage-me-bkingMore Biking!
I bike to work (15km round trip) then walk all day at work (2-4km), then bike home. Another extra 2-5km a day was manageable even though I was a wee bit grumpy by Friday night. The weather was unusually warm so that made things easier, but twice I had to pickup/retrieve a car in heavy winds and when you are tired at the end of the day (I have a physically demanding job), the last thing you want to do is battle heavy winds while riding up a hill. Unfortunately not all the cars in my area are easily accessible by public transit (I know, irony) so I am biking to pickup/return the car. Once I buy a monthly bus pass, things will be a lot easier as far as getting to a car. There are three cars right on my bus route and that is a major route and the buses run frequently.

Better Planning!
I consider myself a good planner but I didn’t take into account some of the expansion going on (for the next three years) with the transit system and the trip to pick up the cheque for my car took hours. And, the battery in my phone ran dry so I could not read my ebook.  I had no book to read while on public transit. The horror.

Despite a grocery list, I forgot a few items and had to go back again on my bike. I forgot to buy eggs so I had to be extra careful when I biked home this afternoon. I also managed to forget to buy tortillas, not once, but twice. I’ll get them on the way home from work on Monday.

It takes me about 90 minutes to buy two weeks worth of groceries. I never can get them all at the same store. Luckily, the three stores I shop at the most are near each other. It takes me about 15 minutes to get all the groceries upstairs to my apartment. Someone abandoned a shopping cart last night in the loading bay of my building and that made things much easier.

Spent Less!
Since getting to a store required more planning and effort, I didn’t go to the store much which saved me money. This week, a pair of pajamas fell apart and I was going to replace them but then I decided just out of plain laziness just to see if I can manage with the ones I had. If I had a car, I’d probably would have zipped by the store and bought another pair without thinking too much about it.

Final Thoughts
I learned it’s much easier to sign up to give away your money, usually one step, but getting rid of a service, seems to require many steps to get a refund.

Like any process, there will be mistakes learning opportunities, but I think all of the difficult challenges are behind me. If anything, I will be fitter and richer.

My Week Without A Car

blue-carI know, not a lot of activity in the last year. I wrote four books so that took up a wee bit of time.

So I went a week without a car.

It sucked. But it will get easier.

My car died on Friday and while not unexpected, the timing was bad because I had a few car related errands to run. That’s how I discovered the car was dead. I got into the car to run those errands last week and the battery was dead. A battery that no longer holds a charge, failing brakes, a small exhaust leak and the need for new tires are just the things I know about. It’s not practical for me to keep the ten year old car running when I hardly drive it.

The Good
I rode my bike to work and I did all my “don’t have to carrying anything heavy” errands on the bike. Trips to the bank, library, hardware store and chiropractor were easy errands.  I mainly use my car for trips in lousy weather and for groceries. If pressed, I can go other places on foot or via public transit.

The Bad
The car dying was unexpected which meant I could not get my no car infrastructure in place. I have a bike trailer but I was storing it at my brother’s place and it got packed up when he moved to Europe and I have no access to the storage unit.  I have a folding grocery cart that is falling apart. The wheels keep popping off which is not a huge deal in the parking lot of my apartment building because I can fix it, but the possibility of a broken cart is disaster in the making when using the bus.

I managed to do all my errands on my bike this week up until about two hours ago, when my back tire went pffff. Again. The second flat tire in three weeks. So I had to finish my errands on foot, pushing my bike and carrying groceries. Grumpiness ensued.

The most difficult thing for me was groceries. I probably spent four hours this week doing groceries. I live about 5km (round trip) from the grocery store and it’s a two bus ride so it’s faster and easier to bike.  I had to carry everything on my back and milk crate on the back of the bike, which was more annoying that difficult. Straps digging into you and sudden shifts can affect your balance.  I also got caught in the rain once. More grumpiness.

I don’t like buying a few groceries here and there just because the grocery store is not on my way home or close by. If I lived a few blocks from the store, then I would buy a few days worth of groceries.  I prefer to buy two weeks worth of food in one 90 minute errand. Without a car, what took me four hours this week, netted me half my food for the week, and, well, took four hours. Also, with a car, if a store is sold out of a particular item, I can get it somewhere else fairly easy.  It was irritating that my choices were limited. I had to balance less choice with get on the bike again and bike to another store to find the item.

How I am Going to Get Around?
I joined the car share in my city! My application to the car sharing service was delayed because of a glitch getting my driver’s abstract (driver record). I hoped to have access to a car this weekend but alas, not until next week.  There is a car about a ten minute walk away and another one near the bus station I use when I ride the bus.  I can also book online 24/7 with a PC or smartphone.  Right now, not including maintenance, my 2005 Toyota Echo hatchback costs me this:

Insurance = $66/month (I live in Ontario)
Gas = $30/month
Parking = $40/month (I know, crazy that I pay more for parking than gas!)
Total $136/month

I don’t think I will spend more than $30/month on the car share so that’s an extra $100+ in my pocket each month. Sadly, last winter I was paying the cost of car ownership and a $100/month for a bus pass (parking is very expensive at work). I think I can still bike some days in November and then come December 1st, I’ll have to buy a monthly bus pass. Boo!

All in all, I am up about $100 a month.

What I Learned
Doing errands, especially in cooler temperatures, takes a bit of planning.  Lots of layers and Kleenex for sniffles.
It’s not all or nothing. You can still live without a car but still use a car. You can join the car share, rent a car or use a ride service if you feel comfortable about your safety using that type of service.
I managed to get stuff done this week without any access to a car. Next week I will have access to a car (based on availability) and this means the hard part is over and the added bonus is that I don’t have to worry about insurance, maintenance and parking!

A Big Shot

big-shot-ideaI wonder if things would be different if I was an executive, a leader, rich, powerful, A Big Shot.

Would people return my calls promptly instead of not at all?

Would I move to the front of the line?

Would I have to repeat myself less because people pay attention to the wisdom and brilliance of a Big Shot?

Would people lie less to me cause they are a little afraid of the repercussions of misinformation?

Would my quirks and idiosyncrasies be touted as innovative and cutting edge?


Perhaps it’s time to treat everyone like a Big Shot?

I Stink!

skunkSo when you’re looking for meaningful work, you face a lot of down time, rejection and plain old weirdness and that can be quite the bummer. To keep your spirits up and to keep yourself from descending into madness, you can perform social experiments to pass the time. Because if you spend hours and hours and hours looking for a job each day, eventually the only social experiment you will be participating in is a psychiatric evaluation.


I bring up the subject of stinkyness because lately I have felt very much like I stink. In the metaphoric sense. So part of this post will be a rant about really unprofessional HR people.
If you are a professional HR person, please ignore my rant.


Rant About HR Douchebags

It’s been really really REALLY hard to not get onto social media and call out the unprofessional HR people for their despicable behavior. By despicable I don’t mean not giving me a job, but I mean mind boggling examples of douchebag like behavior:

* We are going to contact everyone we interview to let them know, regardless if they get the job or not. Don’t say it, if you don’t mean it. I call that lying!

* The job is Monday-Friday from 8-5. Then when I get to the interview, The job is 24/7/365 shift work. If you were given the wrong information, at least admit it and apologize. I won’t hold it against you if you were given the wrong information but I will be annoyed if you use bait and switch tactics.

* Leave a phone message at 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon instructing me to call your cell phone anytime. I did not get the message until Saturday night and I cautiously defined anytime as anytime during business hours. So I called back Monday morning at little after 9:00 am and you were on your way to a meeting but yes you would call me back. And then you didn’t. So I left two polite messages and hung around waiting for you to call. It’s been three weeks and the job is no longer posted so I get it, you aren’t interested in me even though you called me. By the way, I won’t be doing business with your company now. Yeah, I was a potential customer.

* Post an entry level job at Christmas, interview a bunch of people multiple times, and then not hire anyone and re-post the job five months later.

I understand that these examples are all RED FLAGS but going through the process of learning that these time consuming experiences are red flags, is not a day at the beach. Unless the day at the beach involves being eaten by a shark.

After a while you really start to doubt yourself and think, man do I stink.


Maybe I Need to Stink?

With the cool weather and a non-existent spring, I am going a little crazy with itchy skin. Buckets of lotion, quick five minute efficient showers, humidifier, limited swimming and still very dry skin. I switched to a basic soap in the winter and it did nothing for my itchy skin.

So I thought, maybe I should give up soap for a week. Then I can write a slightly entertaining blog post about life without soap.

Since I did not want this social experiment to include e-coli, I washed my hands with hot soapy water after I did germy things. To avoid soap temptation, I removed the soap from the shower and put it in the medicine cabinet. Just water and a wash cloth for scrubbing. I still used shampoo for my hair cause my hair is pretty gross after riding around in a bike helmet for more than fifteen minutes.

I was sure this experiment would fail and I could sit back and search the thesaurus for all kinds of adjectives to describe my musk.

Nope. After a week of obsessive sniffing, I did not stink.

I was shocked. I smelled about the same, perhaps slightly better. After two days my skin stopped itching. NEVER has my skin been so soft. I still reeked after exercise but I always reek after exercise, and I always have a quick shower after exercising. I scrubbed myself post 60 minute bike ride and lo and behold, I did not stink.

To figure out how my soap free skin would react to shaving, I shaved one leg with lotion and rinsed and the other leg with just water and alas, my skin was just as irritated as it is with soap.

So what now? Waiting for warmer weather to test my soap free existence. Stay tuned!



Conversation in a Boardroom of Any Canadian Broadcaster

DuncecapLarry: You know what would be awesome!

Curly: What?

Larry: Putting our shows on our website.

Moe: Yes! People want to watch their favorite shows on their schedule. If we don’t put our shows on the internet, people will go to illegal streaming sites and watch the show for free with no commercials. Or just download them.

Larry: And we can generate revenue by showing commercials.

Curly: Going to OUR website to watch a show means that the viewer gets a reliable stream, AND they also don’t have to deal with annoying popups and potential malware.

Moe: And we get viewers who have canceled their pricey cable TV services.

Larry: I think it would be super super SUPER awesome to show the same commercial over and over and over again. Really send the message.

Curly: Yes! And make sure the only commercials we air are not only unoriginal but annoying.

Moe: It’s a slam dunk. I see absolutely no flaws with this plan.

Larry: Why thank you Moe.

Moe: No THANK YOU Larry.

Curly: I am spending my big fat bonus right now.