Fresh Out of Fox

In my biweekly meeting with my boss, I mentioned having to take my car in because the AC is acting up. She launched into a spiel about how I take too many telework days to handle personal errands like haircuts, doctor’s appointments, and car repair. She’s been a very lenient manager but it’s just happening too often. While my work hasn’t been impacted by this, I’m still not picking up my pace enough to meet deadlines imposed on projects before I got them.

Let me repeat some key parts here: My work hasn’t been impacted by those days. The project deadlines were imposed before I ever touched them.

She wants me to ‘have a good work/life balance’ but these deadlines are critical. Bitch, are you kidding me? I’m a temp and get no PTO. You couldn’t have fewer fucks to give about my life if you got paid for not caring. ($10 she still has no idea I’m getting married.) As a temp with no PTO or respect, these deadlines don’t need to matter to me.

I’ve finally had it. I only need this job for the money. While weddings are expensive, I can find coin somewhere else. It’s time to boost my side hustles.

Side Hustle #1: Poshmark
I was thinking about minimizing my closet even more. There are several items I don’t need or wear that much, as great as they are. It’s time to downsize even more and see if I can generate some income.

Side Hustle #2: Etsy
I’ve made chain maille jewelry for several years. I’ve fallen off with it in the last couple of years but now might be a good time to pick it back up.

Side Hustle #3: Writing Smut
I bought a guide to writing erotica for Amazon. I’ve bought cheap Kindle erotica and it had typos. If people who can’t even spell check can spit it out and generate any sort of income, so can I. If I can do some of it on my work computer out of pure spite, even better.

Side Hustle #4: Pet Sitting
I got to watch the lovely Milo for my downstairs neighbors again. When I went to take him for a walk, Milo’s neighbor recognized him but not me. We started chatting and she’d be interested in using my services for her Boston Terrier. I’ve already got a flat rate for 4 walks a day, more if your dog is very active.

New Main Hustle: Doggy Day Care
It’s big and scary but I reached out to the doggy day care in my area with an apprenticeship program for dog training. They may not have any openings, they may not be interested in having me work there, but by doing this, I’ve taken a huge step toward the next part of my life.

Casual Reading Challenge Update

It’s been two months so let’s how I’ve done.

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge

  • LGBT+ romance novel – Fresh Romance Vol. 1
  • Travel memoir – No Baggage
  • Fantasy novel – Split the Party
  • Written by an immigrant – Springtime: A Ghost Story
  • 5,000 miles from me – Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

Fresh Romance was a fun anthology with unique takes on what goes into love. In the first story, two teenage girls are using a ruse where they’re competing over the same guy to hide their relationship. While it’s not a stand alone novel, I think it should count. Springtime was written by a Sri Lankan immigrant to Australia.

Pyongyang is the graphic memoir of Guy DeLisle’s time spent working in North Korea. A Canadian by way of France, DeLisle was there for his animation work. Pyongyang is approximately 6,700 miles from my location so I think that counts.

PopSugar 2017 Reading Challenge

  • Espionage thriller – The Chemist
  • Book with a Subtitle – No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering
  • About an interesting woman – The Big Tiny
  • Nonhuman perspective – Split the Party
  • Season in the title – Springtime: A Ghost Story
  • Recommended by a librarian – Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea

I did a full review of the underwhelming tome The Chemist here. I greatly enjoyed No Baggage and wish I could be that minimal in my travels. Bensen is not as direct about how her anxiety impacted the narrative which is my only complaint. Dee Williams had heart failure and then built a tiny house to live in her friend’s backyard. I’d say that’s pretty interesting.

Picking up where NPCs left off, Split has gnomes, half-orcs, and elves as POV characters as well as humanizing some zombies. Even a kobold deity gets some airtime. As for the librarian, there’s a few spots in my local library where the staff can show off what they think is cool. Among them was Pyongyang.

Diversity Bingo

  • Author is a POC – The Underground Railroad
  • LGBT+ MC of Color – Fresh Romance Vol. 1
  • Neuro-diverse MC – On the Edge of Gone
  • POC on the cover – Back to the Grind
  • Free Choice – Hyperbole and a Half

Colson Whitehead is the only person who managed to write a zombie novel that bored me so I was surprised by how much I liked The Underground Railroad. I may have to give his other stuff a try. Did I mention the closeted couple in Fresh Romance was a redhead and a black girl? Edge is by and about an autistic (young) woman.

The main character from Back to the Grind is Asian and since it’s a comic, the main character is on the cover. Lauded for it’s accurate portrayl of depression, I’m giving my free space to Hyperbole. We don’t talk enough about mental illness or how ordinary people have it. In addition to dealing with depression, Brosh has ridiculous dogs and a family.

52 Books

  • Mystery – The Chemist
  • GoodReads Choice Award 2016 winner – The Underground Railroad
  • Famous Historical Figure – Bad Girls throughout History
  • An adventure book – No Baggage
  • Sub-genre of favorite genre – On the Edge of Gone
  • Middle of my TBR – The Big Tiny
  • Continuation – Split the Party
  • Animal on the cover – Springtime: A Ghost Story
  • Long title – The Girl with All the Gifts
  • Owned for a while and haven’t read – Back to the Grind
  • Strong female character – The Girl with All the Gifts

I’m retroactively adding BGTH since it fits but I missed it last time. I think the sci-fi/fantasy genre would qualify as my favorite so sci-fi teen apocalypse definitely falls in that category with EdgeSpringtime has a dog on the cover. As for the long title, I needed 5 words and that technically has 6.

 

Since this is fairly close to half way through the year, let’s take a look at how I’m doing overall

  • Pop Sugar: 16 out of 52
  • Book Riot: 10 out of 24
  • Bingo: 7 out of 36 (no bingo either)
  • GoodReads: 20 out of 52

Not great but it’s a casual challenge for a reason.

Still Star-Crossed Review

FHubs and I watch The Bachelor(ette) and mock it mercilessly. The producer’s pick for this season is just ridiculous. Immediately after the latest episode, ABC aired a new melodrama, Still Star-Crossed. It’s about what happens after Romeo and Juliet die.

There was definitely some inevitable creative license. The nurse is now Juliet’s cousin, Rosaline, set into servitude along with her sister by a bitchy AF Lady Capulet. In case we had any doubts about what kind of character Lady Capulet is, we first meet her when she’s arguing with her husband about what a saint she is for letting her nieces stay and serve them. Both Livia want escape but in different ways. Rosaline dreams of being her own master and joining a nunnery while her sister Livia desperately wants to marry for love.

Another bit of creative license is Prince Escalus, who is roughly the same age as our protagonists having just succeeded his dead father. Our dear leader now must rule over people who have been playing politics longer than he’s been alive.

Because the actions of the Capulets (old money) and Montagues (new money), Verona is poised to fall to the Medici army, advancing Papal states, or any number of other outside forces. To encourage peace, a law is passed that anyone who commits murder shall be put to death without trial. This helps the new version of events dovetail with the original ending where the sole heirs to both houses die.

In an effort to force peace, Escalus degrees that Rosaline will marry Bevolio, an established womanizer. This is an interesting choice since Escalus is not impartial on the matter. We get a teaser of the inevitable drama to come.

This show feels like it will devolve into a poor man’s Game of Thrones by episode four. The sets and costumes won’t be as elaborate, the sex barely there or unrealistic, and the consequences won’t be as dire. The city may fall into new hands but the world isn’t doomed by magical ice zombies. It could be interesting but I suspect it will just be a vaguely literary variant on any standard melodrama. Check it out if you’re curious but don’t set your hopes too high.

Music Monday: Not So Happy

These songs sound bouncy and fun but the lyrics tell a very different story.

Paper Planes by M.I.A.
LDN by Lily Allen
Pumped Up Kicks by Foster the People
Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant
Rock the Casbah by The Clash
Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel
Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind
Jump by Van Halen
Detroit Rock City by Kiss
Big League by Tom Cochrane
99 Luftballoons by Nena
You Can Call Me Al By Paul Simon
Hey Ya by Outkast
Wonderful by Everclear

Strong Female Characters

One of my casual challenges involves a work with a strong female character. This term has become problematic in recent years because so many creators misinterpret what it’s supposed to mean. Too many see it as:

Strong Female Character – A character who is physically or emotionally strong (tough/badass) that happens to be female. Generally underwritten AF with minimal development over the course of the story. See Halle Berry’s Catwoman or any woman who is the mediocre hero’s ‘prize.’

This has become the new ‘Nice Guy’ or ‘Good Christian.’ Pro-Tip: If you have to tell people you are a ‘NG’ or ‘GC,’ you’re probably not. If you feel compelled to tell people you wrote a ‘SFC’ and expect praise for it, you probably failed. Hard.

What it used to mean and should mean is a female character who is well written, well developed, experiences change in as her story goes on, and exists separately from the male hero. Badassery is entirely optional. Think Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. Her character is an intelligent and capable lawyer who is doing her best to take down the mob on her own terms. Any of the women on Firefly have their own personalities, skills, and motivations. They aren’t there to further someone else’s story or be someone’s prize.

Gamora toes a very fine line on which type of SFC she is. She has her own relationship with her sister and her own motivations but she’s also Quill’s love interest. It wasn’t until the second movie we also got more women on screen in the GotG franchise so it’s easy for her to feel a bit like a token. We get Quill’s backstory but don’t know details about what Gamora went through or where she came from. She’s a badass but needs more development and history for her character to be strongly written.

I just finished The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. There are three strong female characters in this book: Melanie, Ms. Justineau, and Dr. Caldwell. All of these women get POV time, have a mission, are well written, and are disinterested in other people’s bullshit. This is one of many reasons this book is fantastic and deserves a read (4.5/5). All female characters should be so well-written. Carey has some great SFC and gets it right in every sense of the word.

When looking at women in fiction, don’t just ask if she’s strong or a badass. Ask what her story is and does it matter in the context of main story line. Is she a person or a plot device? It’s not enough to just get representation; we need to get it right.

Insta Ads

Inspired by Safiya Nygaard’s latest haul, I decided to see what Instagram is trying to sell me. I mainly follow dogs, bookish accounts, and nature photographers (emphasis on underwater). I follow a couple of makeup accounts and nerd fashion designers. I post almost exclusively bookish photos with the odd selfie.

REI ENO hammock – I’m skipping Firefly this year. I have no practical purpose for a hammock otherwise. Big miss.

SunFrog Shirts – Decent size selection but very generic content. I’d go for Redbubble or Society6 in a heartbeat over this. Good effort but a miss.

Shut Up & Take My Money – A Chewbacca seatbelt cover. I post nothing about Star Wars and follow nothing about Star Wars but apparently I like enough geeky stuff that I am being urged to buy this. Another miss.

Third Eye Comics – Not sure if this is a fluke or not but I consider this place ‘my’ comic book store. I don’t follow them since I’m not especially into comics and only buy bind-ups. This one is a hit but I like this place before Insta got lucky. .75 instead of a full point.

Country Acres Resort and Rescue – A pet boarding and rescue place. It seems like a lovely facility. I’d enjoy working there if I wasn’t over 1,000 miles away on the east coast. That’s another miss.

That’s .75 out of 5. I kind of like having advertisers not be able to pin me down too easily. I like geeky stuff but I’m honestly not that into Star Wars. I’m being much choosier about what retailers get my money. The last 2 locations my account has are Washington, D.C. and New York City. I have less than no idea where they got the Missouri based pet resort.

May Book Haul and Nerdy 30 New Books #29-33

FHubs left me unsupervised in The Strand for too long on our recent trip to NYC. I think I’m learning because I can quickly pinpoint which books I’d have left behind if I’d had more time to think about my purchases. We had to cram a lot of activity in to not a lot of trip so I didn’t have my usual musings about my purchases. The Strand slightly discounts everything so I didn’t pay full price for any of it but I came mighty close.

Signature Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet – Beautiful and inexpensive. My only regret was having to carry it.

Wildwood by Colin Melot – Inexpensive and it feels like it will be delightful. Complete impulse purchase but no buyer’s remorse.

So Sad Today by Melissa Broder – This collection of essays piqued my interest and felt New York.

Body Horror by Anne Elizabeth Moore – As a fat feminist, this definitely piqued my interest.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson – This sounds somewhat like my life motto and my library has a mile long waitlist for this so only a small bit of remorse.


I also got a tote bag and a tee. Other than some farmer’s market jam and pins from Puffs (BEST. PLAY. EVAR!!! Go see it immediately), these were the only things I bought in NYC. If I’d had more time to think about it, I probably would have skipped Sad and Horror, maybe Art but I don’t fully regret any of these.

And with that, I have surpassed 30 books. I did very well in the first quarter and tanked it in the second quarter, even with my BS math. What really pushed me over was the discount adventure books and the pretty indie bookstore buys.

I currently plan on reading more from home and trying to clean out some titles so expect a summer purge. I won’t be using that to reset the counter but I will try to keep it under 60 books for the year.