October 2011 archive
It took me the better part of a decade to break up with violin. I’m stubborn, you see. It was kind of like a bad relationship. An abusive one. Where 99% of the time, things were miserable. I hated it. I never practised. I never got better. I derived no joy from it. But that golden 1%, those moments when the music flowed, when the strings were nearly at one with my fingers, when the bow glided across them, rather than being dragged screeching – those were euphoric, and hard to give up.
There are friendships and quasi-friendships that have slid, and that’s okay too. All relationships ebb and flow; the kind of bond you may have had in primary school or high school may not be appropriate 10 years later on in life. And not all relationships are 50/50, but I’m trying to do better at upholding my end of the stick.
I couldn’t have asked for a better job after graduation – it was my dream. Stability, prestige, fabulous coworkers. But the hours… Eventually the balance tipped, and I don’t think I was fully aware of that until after the fact.
I’ll admit, I’ve never been very good at knowing when to quit. Deep inside, throwing in the towel equates to giving up = failure.
Calling it quits. You any good at it?
Google seems to have turned on quite a few blogs lately – which just goes to show the importance of fostering engagement and building a loyal community of readers. At work, we’re adopting a similar philosophy – less focus on SEO, which ultimately is out of your control, and more on delivering quality.
When some time ago, I went back and ensured that as many images on this blog as possible were appropriately attributed and sourced from Creative Commons, I definitely lost some search traffic. And that’s fine with me. Search engine visitors love ya and leave ya.
Anyway, thank goodness it’s Saturday! I really needed the breathing room – this week has been overwhelming. I know half the battle is mental, so I’ve been trying to adjust my attitude, which seemed to be a popular theme this week. Behold:
Sometimes it’s about surrendering, Perfectly Cursed Life writes.
Perfectionism is a disease, says StacFace.
Nicole puts paid to inner monologues and limiting self-beliefs.
Zen Habit on the silliness of busyness.
Now, I present the rest of the links. Voila…
Grace Boyle on careers sans the manual.
At Penelope Trunk, what startup life is really like.
Two instances in which you should let your ambition rest, via Ms Career Girl.
Turn your strengths into marketable skills, at I Want Her Job.
Carol Tice’s tips on writing commercial sales copy (like anything, find something you believe in and the rest will come easily).
Ask A Manager tackles 10 myths about nonprofit work.
Funny About Money applies the minimalism principle to personal finance.
Alexis Grant shares the juicy money details on leaving her day job.
Punch Debt shares the easiest ways he’s ever made money.
Beat the single-shopper penalty, with help from Get Rich Slowly.
Dollars versus dreams, by Kat at Stratejoy.
Hyperbole and a Half is back (!!!) with adventures in depression.
Makeunder My Life reminds us to write our own success story.
Everyday Minimalist lists some of the good things about minimalism (what isn’t, I ask?)
Are we Generation F, asks Young and Thrifty?
Here’s how to fix window drafts, by Digging Out and Up!
And finally, Hannah Katy’s take on Adam and Eve.
**I’m also included in this week’s Carnival of Personal Finance. Huzzah!**
- Difficult people. Just…go away and die in a hole somewhere.
- Overworky workload.
- Car issues.
- Taste of New Zealand. As with most food events, it’s great if you want to get boozed. But I was disappointed by the dishes – the quantity, the freshness (some were far too cold), the prices. The best deal were the 2-crown Kapiti ice creams, which we stocked up to take home when we had to use up the rest of our currency and the Kapiti cheese stall next to it would only take cash. Ridic.
- The weather. Sun and I are getting better acquainted. ‘Nuff said.
- Conversations with friends.
- An impending move to a new house. More details on that later! Suffice it to say it all came together and there was a nervous five days (long weekend included) between the agent telling me I needed to let my landlord know we were moving out so that he could call to get a reference (I gave notice immediately after that call), and waiting for all the approvals to come through.
T recently informed me that he can buy shares in his company. And as dorky as it sounds – that got me really amped.
It’s been increasing revenue every year, expanding throughout the recession, and launching new brands and stores – both in Australia and New Zealand. He tells me it’s also on the brink of acquiring a pretty significant chain, so IMO, if we’re going to get in, we should get in quick.
Meanwhile, I’m writing about Kiwi companies doing amazing things and experiencing good growth (my job, obviously – not on here), and I can’t help but want to be a part of it! A lot of them are still private, but there are certainly a few that I could invest in.
The questions really, then, are: Can I afford to? How much would I need to get started? How long would I expect to tie up my money for/how much would I hope to make? And of course, due diligence: are they really solid bets?
I wouldn’t plan to put a ton of money into this – I have too many other short-term goals already vying for my pay – but I obviously want to get in to turn a bit of a profit, not lose cash. And rushing into decisions is a sure sign of foolhardiness.
Better go get some books out on investing, then.
Do you ever invest in individual companies? How did you go about getting started?
Tags: money, personal finance
Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
Summary: Claire Randall is thrown back in time to a war-torn Scotland of the 1700s, and torn herself between husband Frank, back in the future, and gallant redheaded warrior Jamie.
I can’t remember the last time I thoroughly enjoyed a book so much. Let’s be honest; I’ve been reading some pretty literary (relatively) stuff – Outlander was a rip-roarer from start to finish, albeit a little long. I wouldn’t compare it to The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake – which should never have seen the light of day in its final state – but a little more editing wouldn’t have hurt.
It’s obvious Gabaldon loves the characters of Claire and Jamie and that’s infectious for a reader – this comes through very strongly, and the great thing about this couple is that it’s a marriage of equals. While he’s very much a product of his time – protective and gentlemanly – she’s equally strong willed, independent and feisty, and enjoys some great dialogue thanks to her quick, sharp tongue. They’re both as stubborn as each other and are soulmates from the beginning.
Gabaldon is a fantastic storyteller…although a bit too fantastic at times, perhaps - her plotting doesn’t quite measure up to her writing. Also worrying is Jamie’s punishment of Claire for putting their troops in mortal danger and his violation at the hands of villain Captain Randall – an ancestor of Claire’s husband.
But all in all, it’s a bit of a bodice-ripper, a bit of a guilty pleasure, a historical romance – highbrow chick lit? In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’m reluctant to read all the rest in the series, as they have really disappointing reviews.
Charlotte’s Web – EB White
Summary: A naive piglet learns some lessons about the ways of the world, with help from a colourful cast of characters, including one very onto-it spider.
Yes, I did make it to the ripe old age of 23 without ever having read Charlotte’s Web. I have, however, remedied this oversight. And how glad I am! This is simply charming. Wilbur, the runt of the litter, is saved thanks to the pleas of Fern, and soon settles into farm life at her uncle’s. There he meets the garrulous geese, the wily rat who shares his food, and of course, Charlotte. It’s Charlotte who takes a shine to this white piglet and who takes it upon herself to save him from the Christmas slaughter by weaving words into her web that astound the farmer and his family, convincing them that Wilbur is something special.
While I understand this is a children’s book, I would have liked to have heard more about Fern. While she dotes on Wilbur at the beginning, she begins to drift away, and apparently takes an interest in a local boy. I felt that coming back to her towards the end would truly have brought the book full circle.
Bought – Anna David
Summary: One unhappy, unfulfilled celebrity-chasing journalist embarks on an investigation of LA’s underworld – the world of modern courtesans, or prostitutes who take goods in lieu of cash.
As a journalist, I got a fair few chuckles out of narrator Emma’s misadventures on the press line at the red carpet – being a “party reporter” must surely be one of the more demeaning beats out there. Trying to survive on forty grand a year in Hollywood, perpetual rejections of her feature ideas, drifting away from her former best friend and perpetual singledom has soured this modern woman. But when she discovers her ex is involved with a high class prostitute – one who accepts not cold hard cash, but bounty in the form of clothing, dinners out, and having her living expenses covered – she smells a good story.
In fact, Jessica, the ferociously beautiful Eurasian on Matt’s arm, befriends Emma and introduces her to her fast world of sex, drugs and black Amexes. And that’s where Emma proceeds to lose her perspective and objectivity entirely. She’s sucked into a bizarre dimension where she can’t be sure of what’s real. Highly intelligent and highly educated, Jessica is an expert in manipulation – particularly of men – and is of the game-playing philosophy of dating. She’s also rather unstable. While Emma emerges more confident in herself, thanks to Jessica’s coaching, she’s also left virtually friendless. Unlike most chicklit, she doesn’t get the (nice) guy in the end, and doesn’t keep her job. But she does clarify her principles and realises that while some women are happy to wield their sexuality and be “bought”, she can’t live that way. A quick, engaging and satisfying read, David perfectly captures the dilemmas of 21st-century womanhood.
In which I copy Serendipity’s lead!
Do you avoid a lot of the expenses that many of your peers spend money on, such as technology and meals out?
I don’t spend anything, generally on alcohol. Very little on clothes and technology – I replace my phone every few years (my latest one was free through work) and I did buy a GPS last year which unfortunately got stolen and I haven’t replaced. A smartphone should suffice, I think. We do like our food and eating out is our main entertainment – but I think we spend a pretty reasonable amount on that (usually around $160 for two, plus extra that T spends out of his own money).
What’s your typical meal?
Oh so many! We used to eat a lot of pasta (but not so much now). Dinner could be anything from steak and salad to curry, stirfry, nachos, chili, fried rice, roast, fish … you name it.
What about clothes?
I usually go through sprees – I’ll go months without buying anything, then stock up on a few things and blow a couple of hundred dollars in one go. Last year T and I spent less than $1000 combined on clothes, skincare, haircuts and grooming.
What about going on dates?
After nearly six years together and about five cohabiting, we don’t really do ‘dates’ as such. My year of working Wednesday to Sunday was tough on us, but now that I have weekends back, those lazy weekend mornings are lovely, and I’m trying to make a regular date night once a week where we go out to eat somewhere new.
Do you indulge in any luxuries?
Travel? Either that or concerts. And quality food, sometimes. Mmm, cheese.
Do you have health insurance?
Negative, I live in New Zealand.
Do you have any savings for emergencies?
Do you anticipate or look forward to having a higher salary one day?
Yes, although realistically, I can’t expect to make much more in this industry. So…we’ll see. I’m not sure I’m willing to give up work I really like in order to boost my income.
What about retirement – do you plan on ever saving enough to retire?
I sure hope so. Home ownership is one of my big dreams, and I’d also like to be mortgage-free when we retire (and presumably sell up to downsize once old and decrepit.) Is 4% enough? It’s going to have to be, for now, although I want to up that to 8% in time.
Tags: money, personal finance
This week, I lied about having a blog. I’ve done that before – once – to someone to whom I’m not close enough to confess to. But last weekend I got put on the spot by a good friend, and I instinctively said no. I’m definitely struggling with the semi-anonymity – I wouldn’t really care if he knew; I just don’t want to have to reveal it myself, if that makes any sense. And as blogging gains momentum over here (yeah…we’re a bit behind), I can’t help but want to put my name to eemusings. But the freedom to write without pressure – given that I write for public consumption all day long, Monday to Friday – is too good to give up…plus I still don’t want my blog to trump my Google results.
To the links!
Squirrelers tells us how to apply the Pareto principle to finances – eg, concentrating your effort where the returns are.
Rather than jumping from job to job, stick around and make your own luck by being in the right place at the right time, says Robb of Boomer and Echo at Give Me Back My Five Bucks.
As Little House writes, reality bites – and our ideals change over time.
How to quit your job with class, at FruGal.
Everyday Adventures cracked me up with this post on secret single behaviours. So true!
Revanche dishes out some levelheaded advice on getting ahead in the workplace.
Blonde and Balanced asks: Would you quit your job to stay home with the kids?
Makeunder My Life explains how she’d use $100 to start a business.
But don’t start a cafe with your spouse, as this Slate story warns.
Ginger outlines the pros and cons of working from home.
And finally, Penelope Trunk offers up finance tips for the self employed.
In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
Summary: The true tale of the Clutter family murders, dramatised in novel form.
It’s an interesting concept, the nonfiction novel. It tries to be a documentary – after all, Capote covered this story as a journalist – but took this opportunity to retell it more creatively. And it’s a wrenching story. These were good people – as good people as you can get – and they were slaughtered for naught. But it’s just as dreadful to read about the grim lives led by killers Dick and Perry, inasmuch as Capote can get inside their heads. Capote has a talent for bringing characters to life, even without necessarily knowing all that much about them (he never met the Clutters, for example). It’s also clear that he identifies somewhat with Perry; he delves more deeply into his psyche, and we get a sense of his character more strongly than Dick’s.
Diary of an Unlikely Call Girl – Belle De Jour
Summary: The inner thoughts of a high-class London call girl.
Belle de Jour’s book is based on the popular anonymous blog she kept during the year and a bit that she spent as a well-paid London prostitute. Sex has obviously always been a big part of her life; for example, she falls into this line of work after being taken home by a wealthy couple for a threesome, for which they slip her, well, a little bit more than the taxi fare home. Many of her friends are men she’s had relationships with (the rather S&M details of some I’d rather not have heard), and of course, The Boy, her current flame who seems more than a little emotionally unstable. But her sharp observations of life as a sex worker are sassy and engaging. Particularly entertaining is her hooker’s A-Z, where her snarky wittiness really shines. Belle is obviously intelligent, and you will most likely be intrigued as to what she studied that failed to lead to a job. It perhaps sounds as if she was an arts graduate, but Belle de Jour is of course, actually Dr Brooke Magnanti, who is now a bit of a champion for sex workers.
Some Girls Are – Courtney Summers
Summary: The ultimate tale of high school frenemies.
There were two things I found difficult to believe. One, Regina’s name (great name for a character, but SO not a popular girl’s name). Secondly, the sheer scale of the nastiness and bullying that went on – both the meanness that Regina and Anna unleashed on those unfortunate enough to be their targets, and the vitriol and physical abuse Regina suffers at the hands of her ex-best friend once she falls from grace. You will marvel at the new hateful extremes that a teenage girl can go to in order to hurt another human being simply for the hell of it. And conversely, you’ll be heartwarmed to see the capacity for forgiveness held by the people Regina once crushed, despite having no reason to give her the time of day. This is a quick, rip-roaring read – immediate, wrenching and fast-paced.
Image by seanmcmenemy via Flickr
I’ve covered this ground so many times.
I won’t rehash it all for oldtimers, but suffice it to say my fiance’s family are broke as broke gets.
I have a problem saying no, so it’s good that requests get filtered through him. While we he also has a problem saying no, since this recent fiasco, he’s put his foot down, and rightly so.
That got tested last month. There was a big family occasion, but not enough money to put into it. As the go-to people, we (or really just me) were asked if we could front $300.
Sorry, but my answer was a HELL to the NO. It had to be.
We were already putting more than I would have liked towards a keg (that was our contribution), and I sure was not going to lend out money that might or might not be repaid.
In the end, I ended up personally chipping in about $60 toward food and the like. I wasn’t overjoyed about doing so, but I’m not a complete miser, and it was much less than $300.
In theory, our financial situation should improve in the coming years.
T and I are young, we’re just getting started in the world, and we’re on the up.
His family members, on the other hand, are, going nowhere fast. The easiest way to deal with this is obviously to disclose as little as possible, but the fact that we can take any holidays at all, or will be funding a (very frugal) wedding, says enough.
I can only assume this is going to lead to setting new boundaries as the goalposts shift. I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to get harder, not easier, as we really start building our lives together, saving for a house, and all that jazz.
For those of you whose other half has a financial disaster of a family, how did that affect your wedding planning and post-marriage?
Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr
It doesn’t matter how much I love doing any particular thing – actually getting started is the most difficult part.
Once I’m at work, I get straight into it, and the day zooms by. I’m writing, editing, coordinating. I’m doing the things I like best and am good at, in between cursing my computer and the internet cutting out (our network goes down far more often than it should for what is a decent-sized company, in my plebeian opinion). But hauling my ass definitively out of bed? That’s the toughest bit.
I love eating. I think it’s safe to say that it’s hands down my favourite pastime. I spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about food. I even kind of enjoy the process of baking (and to a lesser degree, cooking – which is odd as you’d think I’d enjoy the more freestyle nature of it. But there’s nothing like mixing up batter or kneading dough – to say nothing of the miracle that sees flour and sugar and water swell into something beautiful and edible). But clearing the counter, pulling out the mixing bowl and lining up ingredients? That’s the biggest hurdle.
Once I’m in my groove, making pace around my neighbourhood, I feel freaking great. Working up a sweat is strangely satisfying. Endorphins and whatnot. But putting on running clothes, lacing on my shoes and stretching? That’s the part I put off.
Likewise, every time I get in a decent session with my six-stringer, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. But plugging in my guitar and amp? That’s the chore.
The first step is always the hardest. But once it’s over, it’s all gravy.