When did we get old?

January 16, 2012

There were hints of it at recent get-togethers, but over the weekend, it finally happened.

My friends and I are getting old.

Long gone are the days when mani/pedis and dinner were the pre-party ritual. Gone are the days when before we had our first drink we had to figure who’s in charge of calling a cab and who’s making sure I don’t take too many shots.

My group of girl friends goes all the way back to high school. Before high school even, elementary school (I met Alisha on my first day of 4th grade). I consider these women some of the best people I know (see, you can make good decisions when you’re a kid) and I’m honored and blessed to have had them in my life for the past 20 years (wow… that’s the first time I wrote that, that’s a pretty big deal).

June 2000 Graduation Day: Me, Chrissy, Laura, Alisha, Nici, Missy

After high school, every time we got together, we were drinking and/or drunk. That was just how it was. There weren’t many events where drinking wasn’t the main focus of our gatherings and many a Sunday was spent recovering. Over the years we’ve gone months without talking but when we get together again it’s like the day after the last time we saw each other.

Recently our girls nights usually consist of dinner and drinks and that’s the night. We don’t close down the bars anymore.

Our last big drunken night out was Alisha’s bachelorette party in August. It was the last time just us girls got together for the sole purpose of getting drunk. It was a great night followed by one hell of a hangover the next day, which was totally worth it, I think.

August 2011 Alisha's bachelorette party: Chrissy, Cami, Missy, Nici, Valerie, me and Alisha

Saturday was manicures and pedicures and dinner.

It was at dinner when we admitted to ourselves that we are getting old. Very little alcohol was consumed, I had one margarita (mostly because we were having Mexican food, and well… that’s what you drink) and we spent more on our nails than we did on our dinner. Our conversations included our favorite TV shows (and explaining to Nici what “Swamp People” and “Storage Wars” are), a very lively discussion about pickled green beans (after which we decided we were going to learn how to pickle things), our families (the run down on everyone, who’s married, who’s having kids, and so on), Ricky Rubio’s eye lashes (they are pretty amazing) and turning 30.

After dinner we sat there and talked for almost another hour. It was 8 pm and most of us were yawning. Then we were laughing about how tired we were so early in the night (I was suffering from a Benadryl hangover and felt kind of crappy most of the day) and how much our nights out have changed over the years.

Overall, it was a great night. One of my favorites, I think. Of course there will probably be the rare “let’s go out and get drunk” nights, but I feel like those days are pretty much behind us now. We did that throughout our 20s and, in my case anyway, the hangovers are no longer worth it. It’s just good to hang out and talk without having to yell over loud music or other people. And again, the hangovers, oye! I don’t miss wasting an entire day recovering from a night out with the girls.

I’m getting old(er). I’ll admit it. I think this weekend really helped me come to terms with how great it is. Sure, our 20s were awesomely fun but I think our 30s will be even better. At the very least, we’ll remember much more of this decade. And I’ll be able to write a blog post in 10 years about how I’ve been friends with these women for 30 years and well… that’s pretty damn amazing.

These are my adventures in finding a job. This post is a basic overview of the things I’ve been doing and what is and isn’t working for me, so far.

Recruiters

I used to think recruiters were annoying troll-like people who hassle you and try to put you into any job just so they can move on to the next person. I honestly didn’t know how it all worked, and I never really took the time to. BIG MISTAKE.

I eventually ended up with a recruiter in the most backwards way possible. I had already found the job, but since it was a contract and not direct full-time employment, I was hooked up with an Aquent rep. Now, I’m pretty glad it happened that way. I probably would have never gone out and found a recruiter on my own.

(If you’re looking for jobs in marketing, web design, production, and more check out Aquent.us. I’ve had a great experience with them, and they are really fantastic. But mention me if you do. Disclaimer: I get stuff if you do).

I’ve finally connected with my new recruiter this week, which was great. She gave my resume a good look and then gave me a list of things to change. It was good a relief to have another pair of eyes on it and for someone to say “Ok, lets focus on this and remove that.” My resume looks the best it has in years. Oddly enough, those little changes increased my confidence a lot. The moral of the story: let someone look at your resume before you send it all over the place.

Job sites

I hate to say it but sites like careerbuilder.com and monster.com are like throwing your information into a black hole and hoping that someone somewhere finds it. I’m sure there are people out there that will swear up and down that these sites are helpful. But there’s just so much information that’s it’s really difficult to weed through it. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, it’s not like I don’t have the time to do it. I just feel like I could be using my time more effectively searching elsewhere.

Networking

I was told that LinkedIn is a great way to network with people and find a job. I’ve explained that already in my post about social media sites the other day (read it here). I feel like LinkedIn is similar to the other job sites, except it’s more targeted and easier to find things based on your connections. I’m still working on trying to find a good way to incorporate it into my job hunt. I’ll let you know when/if I do.

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading on using social media to help in the job search. This is tricky for me. I found my last job through a Twitter follower, and that was great. But I don’t want to be that annoying girl that blasts twitter with “HIRE ME, PLEASE!!” tweets. I unfollow those people and would expect you guys to do the same. That’s not effective.

I’ve also been intending to follow more writers and journalists on Twitter. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that turned into me following nearly all of the Minnesota Twins, Ricky Rubio and @chriswarcraft. But I promise, I’m working on it. (If you have recs, feel free to send them my way.) I hope it eventually it leads to a better network of writers and even if I just gain more insight, that’s more than I have going on now.

Freelancing

This terrifies me. Mostly because I have no idea what I’m doing. Also, if you’ve ever looked at a freelance job board, it’s intimidating and slightly scary. Most of the time there are blind posts that will say something like “need a short-term content writer, send your bid” or something similar. I have no idea what site I’d be writing for or if it’s a topic I know I can write about (I probably can’t write about healthy eating without being a liar). Regardless, many of the people seem to be bidding pretty low, and I don’t know if that’s the going rate or if they’re writing in India or if $3.00 for a 1,000-word piece is “reasonable.” I am clueless. So, I’ve been avoiding them for the time being. I will keep doing research and eventually figure it out. I really need someone to explain it to me and show me the ropes because there are so many bad sketchy people out there.

Writing for free

Right now I’m writing for free on this blog. I haven’t come across many opportunities to write for other people lately. I suppose now since it’s an election year I could jump back into poli-blogging, but politics makes me want to kick puppies, and I like puppies. So, I may have to use the wait-and-see approach here. At least for now.

If you have job hunting tips please share. I’ll take all the advice I can get.

Thumbed Up on Pandora

January 12, 2012

Pandora seems to be the best way for me to find new and awesome music and also old music that I love. So, these are the last 10 songs I “thumbed up” on Pandora, excluding songs I’ve already mentioned in previous music posts. (if you don’t use Pandora, you’re really missing out).

Bon Iver – Skinny Love

The Band – The Weight

The Black Keys – Next Girl

Adele – Melt My Heart to Stone

Alain Clark – Blow Me Away

Needtobreathe – Won’t Turn Back

The Beatles – Dear Prudence

Jimi Hendrix – All Along the Watchtower

The Pimps of Joytime – Workin All The Time (One of my favorite band names ever!)

Derek James – One More Day (Live youtube videos blow, but this is the best I could find. You can and should listen to it on Grooveshark)

I love Twitter.

I only kind of like Facebook.

Why should I be using LinkedIn? I don’t get it.

That is my stance on the big three social networks.

I’ll be celebrating my three-year anniversary on Twitter next month and thought it would be a good idea to evaluate how I use these social sites and how I could possibly use them more effectively.

There are tons of people out there who can tell you how you should be using social networks. My opinion has always been that I’ll use them however I see fit, which never seems to fall in line with what the social media gurus are saying.

Twitter.

I use Twitter as my main social network. I have amassed a big enough following (over 3k is enough, in my opinion) to get a pretty wide range of news from nearly all perspectives. It’s fast and easy and there’s no fuss really (unless something drastically changes, then I get annoyed, but I adapt and move on). Twitter is also the site where I keep everything, and everyone, at arms length. Since there really isn’t a way to verify who is following you (I have social media trust issues) I tend to avoid putting a lot of personal details out there. People can be creepy.

But I put enough of me into it that I feel like the other stuff isn’t really relevant. People know I’m a woman from Minnesota with a large Mexican family and a suspected meth-using neighbor. I mean, there’s not much more you need to know.

When I first started using Twitter I used it to follow politics, then I got engulfed in the political hullabaloo and blogged about politics. Now I just bitch about politics and talk about how dumb, yet fascinating, the Kardashians are. I also use it to tweet about my favorite shows and sporting events.

Over the past three years I’ve developed some great friendships with people. I think that’s one of the best things about Twitter. Too many people use it to just shout into the black hole of social media. Never taking the time to interact with the people who take the time to read their tweets in the first place. I’ll admit I’m not the best at responding to every single reply I get, but I aim for a 95 percent reply rate. Sometimes you just can’t get them all (I say that as if my mentions feed is flooded with replies…). I get it. But it’s the interaction that makes Twitter Twitter. Unless we’re talking about spam bots. I don’t respond to those jackasses.

If there’s one way I would use Twitter differently it would be to initiate contact with more people. I have a tendency to not be the first to reach out. It’s not really a conscious decision, it’s just something I’ve noticed. Same with following people. A big chunk of the people I follow are people who followed me first. I need to get better at that.

Facebook.

Facebook was, and still is, my “friends and family” social network. I really just use it to keep up with all that stuff. I’m not, nor have I ever been, a hardcore Facebook user. I still haven’t been able to figure out how people can spend hours on Facebook. If someone can explain that to me, that would be fantastic.

I use Facebook to post the occasional funny news story or status update, but I mostly use it to connect with friends and plan stuff. That seems to be the main way the people in my life (or everyone, I don’t know) is planning events these days. The other day I received an event invite which was asking for my address so someone could send out wedding invitations. Pretty clever use if you ask me. Much better than calling around or trying to track down your mom’s handwritten address book.

About two-ish years ago I decided to cross-contaminate Facebook with Twitter and friended a few Twitter-only friends on Facebook. It was a big selection process and I think it was only about 10 people. I eventually decided I didn’t like that and unfriended people I didn’t know in real life. Will I ever cross-contaminate again? Probably not. Facebook is my inner-inner circle, if you’re not already in it, you probably won’t make it. (Semi-kidding.)

If there’s one thing to change about how I use Facebook it would be to have a little more patience with people. I tend to get annoyed very quickly with the whiny folk of Facebook (should be its own website). Maybe it’s my empathy that needs work. I don’t know, I’ll work on something.

LinkedIn.

I don’t get it. I have tried, really super-duper hard but I cannot seem to see the purpose of LinkedIn. I have a profile and all that jazz but I don’t spend enough time on to to try to make meaningful connections. Sure, I could use to increase my network to land another job, but in all reality, it’s like throwing a dart into a cave and hoping to hit the bulls eye. My current connections include a few friends and an aunt (but I already connect with them on Facebook) and one recruiter (with whom I connect with outside of LinkedIn). Aside from the limited contacts, I honestly don’t think to check LinkedIn for anything. Unless I get an email which entices me to actually login, if I can remember my password, I am never on LinkedIn.

Maybe that’s my first mistake. If I actually spent time on the site, maybe I’d get it. Unfortunately as it stands now, I see no reason to waste time on it.

Goal: figure out if or how LinkedIn could serve a purpose for me.

Ok, here’s the deal

January 10, 2012

Last week I posted some crap about trying to write every day. And I have, I just haven’t written anything I wanted to post. This seems to be a common occurrence with me. The more I think about it, it’s probably not a disease but instead a symptom of something else.

With nearly every blog I’ve had, only 2 out of every 10 posts ever made it onto my blog. There really isn’t a single reason for it. Some days I just don’t feel like proof reading, or I just don’t think it sounds right, or it’s just a little too ranty, or I just don’t want to post it because… I just don’t. Quit hassling me!

I’m pretty sure it has something to do with the fact that I’m still fairly insecure with my writing. I know I’m not great (that’s not self-deprecation, that’s just reality). My humor is dry and unbelievably dorky and the depth of my intelligence varies daily (however, I am apparently really good at the game “Smart Ass“, which is fitting). But, that’s me. I’m 30 now, I should probably embrace the shit out of it.

Maybe my perfectionist tendencies are getting in the way (of a lot of things, but that’s been an ongoing problem). Maybe once I’m legitimately comfortable with who/what/where I am everything will fall into place. Or I’ll just be one of those people who is never comfortable with who/what/where I am that I will always be evolving and moving and bouncing from one idea to the next never quite able to pick one focus in my life.

Maybe I’m just wired this way. I’ll never be an accountant, but some day I’ll probably be a physicist/author/fast food critic/marine biologist/video game tester/bus driver. Who knows.

Ok, I probably won’t ever be a physicist because I dislike math, but it’s hard to kill a dream.

2012 writing frenzy

January 3, 2012

My goal for this year is to write daily. Well, actually, I’m starting small, I want to write every day for a week and I’ll go from there. Not only do I want to write daily but I intend to post something somewhere daily; 99.9 percent of the time it will be here, if that changes I’ll definitely let you know. If I really truly expect to be a writer who actually gets paid I should probably write stuff with the intent to post (I’m notoriously bad at writing and not posting, I have about 7 drafts right now).

The problem with focusing on my blog is that it’s not focused on any one topic. It’s random which is both a blessing and a curse. When I had my political blog, I knew what topics were going to be good fodder for the site. Now I have tabs for entertainment, politics, sports, random (which is mostly life stuff) and WTF (the WTF news of the day). So essentially, the options are limitless.

I guess if I’m going to achieve my goal, I’ll just write what I find interesting. I don’t really care if you read it or not. (But seriously, you can read my blog. I don’t mind.) The blog is mostly for me anyway, and the few other loyal stalkers readers who read the stuff I write. Who knows, maybe it’ll even help me find a new future employer.