Tag Archives: blogging

Magical Thinking

There’s a quote in Augusten Burrough’s “Magical Thinking” that I love:

“I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

That’s me, pretty much to the letter.

I had good intentions of keeping things super light here and not addressing some issues, but I also don’t want to be dishonest and act like everything’s fine every day. So today you get this crap.

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Long story short-ish, the past few months my OCD, exercise, weight, depression, etc. have really been kicking my ass. Everything except spacing out on the couch or exercising makes me uncomfortable. When I get uncomfortable my instinct isn’t to sit back and evaluate why, but rather to simply escape.

Quickly.

Enter the (maladaptive) behaviors I associate with relief. But the problem is it’s never enough, and it becomes harder to sit with the most fleeting feelings of discomfort. (And when you’re depressed, there’s a lot of discomfort.)

In other words, it’s a temporary fix for a permanent predicament—that “life” will always happen and things are always in flux.

I guess it’s a little comforting to know that what we all struggle with in our lives can be acknowledged as ordinary experience. Everybody feels the pain of not getting what they want or getting what they don’t want, and most of the time it’s not because they suck and can’t get things right.

It’s life, and we’re not the only ones who feel we can’t keep it all together.

But sometimes the internal issues offer no rhyme or reason—no big life event you can cite—which makes you feel kind of crazy and write blog posts like this.

Because even though my intentions are good — I know I’m not a horrible person — I cancel plans because it might interrupt my “safe” routine. I do a good job at work, but don’t enjoy it or the fact that I’m stuck at a desk for the day. I’m pretty sure at times I come off as a flake.

I’m not a flake.

I’m trying to get by. And while I know these bizarre things I do for self-preservation are technically making my life more complicated, it’s a “comfortable” complicated. I pretend I can deal with that better than I can deal with reality without them.

So why write this? I don’t know.

It doesn’t have some great motivational moment to end with other than the fact that my insecurity over publishing it trumps any insecurity you might have if you relate to anything written.

I can also add that if you do relate to anything here, just know that I pledge to try every day. Most days I fail, but I try.

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Maybe that’s it.

Maybe it’s so you (we) remember it’s easy to get sucked into online personalities presented in an edited version of reality, one where we’re often  given the good parts and a sliver of the flaws, just enough so that people relate. We forget that it’s only what they want us to see. 

Of course I’m envious of those who don’t have to deal with this stuff and can just be “okay” without so much effort, but I’m not ashamed that I have issues.

You should never be ashamed.

So while my next post is back to humor—writer’s block, be damned—this one exposes my flaws. After all, “I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

Magical thinking, indeed.

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The 5 Stages of Writer’s Block

As any writer can attest, getting on a creative roll is one of the best feelings in the world. When I want to, it’s easy. When I have to, it’s hard. And those times when I’m suddenly faced with the fact that the writing well is dry, I become even more moody and broody.

writers block

So today I’m going to turn the tables on that textual dysfunction and write about writer’s block instead.

DENIAL

During the first stage of writer’s block I can still pretend nothing is wrong and rationalize that I write for work, no one really cares if I blog or not and that I just posted a couple of days ago. And after all, it’s possible that a bird might fly into my head and then BAM! Instant blog post. No need to worry.

But after a couple days without writing, the denial really starts to kick in. Someone will be talking to me and I’ll be thinking about how I wish a bird would fly into their head so that BAM! Instant blog post. But when that doesn’t happen, I can no longer deny and I move onto the next stage.

ANGER

Here I spend time pacing and blaming any small interruption for my failure to even produce as much as an account of going to the ATM. I get annoyed with people who can write funny posts and wonder why the cat purrs so damn loud.

But anger takes a lot of energy I would rather channel into navel gazing, so I move on to the next lovely stage.

BARGAINING

Sometimes it’s not that I don’t have anything I could write, it’s that I don’t like anything that I write. I’ll sit in front of my blank screen and think, “Oh, hell. Maybe I can just write something short or do a picture post with some jokes thrown in for fun. Just getting down notes is a start.”

But then I remember I don’t have pictures and the only thing I’ve written is a to-do list that says, “write something.” So no matter how simple the writing goal, my bargaining will fail. There is no bargaining with writer’s block here, which brings us to the next stage.

DEPRESSION

Convinced that I will NEVER WRITE ANYTHING EVER AGAIN, I crash on the couch watching TV while taking shots of garlic hummus. In my mind, I relive all of the good times I had writing. I think of the people who told me that something I’ve written made them laugh or changed the way they thought about something—all five people.

Now with my writing days behind me, I am left with a couple books and hundreds of blog posts to my name. Some day, years from now, I will pull up my dusty blog and show the cat how I misspent my late ’20s and early ’30s.

ACCEPTANCE

Now that I know I’ll NEVER WRITE ANYTHING AGAIN, I wonder what I’ll do with the rest of my life. I start by doing activities I enjoy—Swiffering, feeding my feelings, exercising and watching videos of skateboarding hedgehogs.

I go online and do a Google search to learn how to teach a hedgehog to ride a skateboard. After all, I’ll probably be doing a lot of that now that I’LL NEVER WRITE ANYTHING AGAIN.

But then the new non-writing me has one of those rational thoughts that I’ve heard so much about and decides to give writing a shot once again. After all, if a hedgehog can ride a damn skateboard, I can write a damn post.

Bring me my cape and my keyboard.

There is work that needs to be done. 

(And we circle back to denial…)

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Odds and Ends

I actually have a new post to publish, but I like to read my posts out loud to the cat before I publish them so that I can prepare myself for no emotional reaction whatsoever, and she’s been on a catnip bender this week. Twice I came home to find her burning incense and eating Cheetos while hanging upside down off the couch.

She knows she’s not allowed on the couch.

Anyway, she’s penciling me in this weekend so Monday I’ll probably share whatever it is I wrote that I already forgot about because it’s been a long week. In other words, this is a post that isn’t really a post but just wrapping up a few odds and ends.

First of all, I’m over In the Powder Room talking about shopping for pants and you should go read it.

Clothes shopping is the 7th circle of hell @abbyhasissues

I know, I know. Who am I? First I talk about ta-tas and then retail. But seeing as I’m equally ignorant and ambivalent about both topics, I felt I was qualified to write about them on the Internet.

Speaking of the Internet, anyone who has a Facebook fan page knows what a pain in the dupa it is to actually get people to see your posts. Most of the time the stats show only about 25 percent of my “fans” see anything that I share.

If you’re not doing that on purpose, check out the handy tip sheet Kim from Let Me Start By Sharing made to simplify the process.

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And finally, I hate to brag, but Jake from State Farm replied to one of my tweets.

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Sorry I’m not good at screenshots.

He had to had to stalk his name to find it (weeks later) and doesn’t have that many followers, so maybe he is as hideous as the commercial suggests? All I know for certain is that he’s wearing khakis and emotionally available at 3 a.m.

That’s more than I can say.

Anyway, that’s the end of this post that isn’t really a post. Now entertain me.

If you could sum up your week with one movie or song title, what would it be?

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Getting a Busy Signal

I’ve recently rediscovered my love for reading books. My love of reading isn’t anything new, but allowing myself unlimited “free” time to sit on the deck to read whenever I can instead of trying to do a million other things instead is.

It’s no longer a guilty pleasure, but rather simply a pleasure.

It’s a relative shift in thinking for me. I used to feel guilty, like I should be spending that time doing something work or blog-related that would garner an external result of some sort.

Why?

Because almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t working or doing something to promote their work. Bloggers talk about “taking things to the next level,” working on widgets, book signings, business cards, spending hours on various social networks, reading, writing, commenting, sharing, creating new tabs for their blogs, etc.

If that’s your job, that makes sense, but I just can’t keep up. And to be honest, I really don’t want to.

My job has me in front of a computer all day. I don’t love it, but it pays the bills, I work my butt off and I’m lucky I have it. And while I love blogging most of the time, it isn’t my job and I know that I’ll never be “big.” I know that as hard as I work, I’ll most likely never “make it to the next level” without devoting hours to doing the things that I’ve mentioned above.

Now don’t get me wrong…

I’m a very hard worker and would spend a million hours working towards “making it” if I thought doing all of those things was the key, but I’m not sure that it is. Why? Talent only gets you so far. There is only one Bloggess, and the market for those looking to recreate that magic is diluted with writers that have time and money to spend in an effort to build up their brand.

I do not.

What I do have are decent ideas, a couple books that barely paid for themselves, a laptop I have basic knowledge of and a fairly constant insecurity that a) what I do isn’t good enough b) confusion over what does become “popular” and c) a desire to hang it all up and let everyone else duke it out.

Because, oh yeah, there’s that whole depression/OCD thing to add in there, too.

And unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury to pick and choose when and where I work. Some days are great, and other days leaving the house simply sounds like hard work—but I have no choice.

What I tend to forget is that I do have in choice in how I spend the rest of my time. And sometimes I get caught up in the hype and forget I’m not the girl who is comfortable promoting herself or trying to appeal to a sponsor or some “higher up.”

I’m the girl who rambles and has her head in a book (when it’s not up her ass) and the game on TV with some snacks. I write because I want to share things, not because I need to have those things shared.

So I guess it’s a conscious decision to choose time and simple pleasures over the pursuit of  “more, more, more.” It’s a decision to always work hard and look for new opportunities, but to be content with where I am, whether it’s on the deck with a book or on Twitter spewing one-liners.

It’s remembering that the best investment of my limited time is to spend it doing the things that I want when I can and ignoring the things that might chip away at that contentment.

True, I might miss “making it to the next level,” but I won’t miss feeling like I’ve missed the moments worth writing about. And if I plan things right, I also won’t miss the ballgame.

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That’s What Friends are For

This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I don’t really have a best friend.

Growing up I had a few close girlfriends, but being stuck in school with hundreds of other people my age made that easy. You were pretty much forced to hang out and things like work and adult responsibilities never got in the way.

Fast-forward a decade or two, add in a heap of depression/isolation, less exposure to people my age and those pesky adult responsibilities, and friends became less of a thing. This is my fault—no excuses—and most of the time I’m okay with all that.

But then there are times when I’m not.

And it’s those times that I maintain that blogging has saved my life a million times over. I try to steer the direction of this blog away from “serious” things now—this will resume my next post—but there was a time when it served a much differentpurpose. Instead of staying inside my head—not always a safe place to be—I  allowed myself to be honest and vulnerable at times and created some of the strongest personal connections I’ve ever had.

That brings me to my point 200 words later.

 

I admit that for a long time I was embarrassed about the fact that I had so many close online friendships. I would differentiate between “online friends” and “friends” when talking with people, but then I thought, what the hell?

After all, we now live in a time when we have the opportunity to choose the people we want to surround us not by location or luck, but by similar interests, senses of humor, struggles and successes.

So much goes on behind the scenes of a blog or a website that never goes public—a sick child or spouse, a lost job, a mental breakdown that leaves you panicked and impulsively searching for any way to self-destruct (hypothetically speaking, of course.) But there are people online to remind you that even if you’re physically sitting alone, you never have to feel lonely.

If that’s not a friend, then what is?

And just because the people who “get” you might not be the people you see all that much, that doesn’t make the friendship less real.

 

True, the fact that I  feel like everyone who “gets” me lives thousands of miles away bums me out sometimes. But even though we might be spread wide geographically, I’m still closer to them than anyone I went to school with—by about a million miles.

They support. They entertain. They listen. They can talk you off the ledge that you’re on, knowing they’ve stood there before.

Because after all, that’s what friends are for.

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Added Value

I’ve heard it said that in order to “build your brand” and become a bighugeimportantblogger that you should always make sure that your readers are given every opportunity to know about every minute thing that you’ve ever done in your Internet life.

So even though I’m a tiny little peon in the blogging world, I figured it was verysuperimportant that I send out a newsletter to my loyal readers (Hi, Mom!) In it you will find a recap of things that happened “behind the scenes”—added value!


  • First we’ll take a look at the minutes recorded from the first executive “Abby Has Issues” post planning and self-promotional tour meeting. What’s that? I’m being told we neither recorded minutes nor held that meeting, so we can cross that one off the list!
  • Speaking of lists, it was proposed that changing a “to-do” list to a “suggestions to be considered” list could leave one feeling more optimistic. This was immediately approved and implemented.
  • There was an unfortunate incident involving the vacuum and a cat toy. Long story short, I’m not winning “Cat Mom of the Year.” In an effort to reverse any bad karma, I spent the better part of that night leaving inspirational notes around for the cat: “You WILL catch that red dot” and “Hairballs happen to everyone!”
  • There was also trauma when I found a pile of feathers under my feeder when I got home from work. Let this be a reminder to hug your wild birds a little bit tighter tonight.
  • An ethnic cooking demonstration was given in the kitchen, if by “ethnic” you mean “Cajun” and by “Cajun” you mean “burned.”On a related note, the smoke detector is in perfect working condition.
  • An evaluation of laundry on Sunday revealed another pretty big week for gray T-shirts and white sports socks, so keep up the good work!
  • In terms of relationship status, the last two things I’ve spooned were a pillow and a jar of sunflower seed butter. However, Hot Gym Guy, obviously smitten by the smell of garlic emanating from my pores, asked me if I, “was done with that bench.” I might be reading a bit too much into it, but I’m sending out wedding invitations next week.
  • Oh, and I also overheard a 20-year-old girl at the gym say, “I feel so old!” The crime scene is still under investigation, so if anyone asks I was here the whole time.
  • Things did perk up though when I saw a guy pushing a “pull” door several times. Instead of helping him, I said, “Never give up. Don’t let anyone tell you how to live.” He was quite an inspiration.
  • I celebrated a birthday and capped off the evening by going to the grocery store, because hey! It was my birthday! And because it was Thursday. I always go to the store on Thursday.
  • On the work front, it was business as usual. I made it until lunch every day without eating my lunch before lunch, so I would consider this week to have been a success.
  • However, my attempts to “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have” were frowned upon. Apparently showing up in a tiara and tutu isn’t quite what they meant. The policy has since been changed.

I think that pretty much sums things up—at least the most important points—so stay tuned for future updates! After all, you don’t want to miss a thing!

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(I updated the tab to include the new best-seller, a book I’m totally mooching off the success of the other authors with. Thanks to everyone for their support!)

You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth

I originally had a different post planned for today, but that will have to wait a couple of days.

Why, you ask?

Because instead I have a very cool thing to tell you about that I didn’t know I could tell you about already. I’ve been keeping it all to myself, much like my stash of hummus and emotional availability, but it’s being released today so I can tell you and that’s what you’re getting today.

FrontCOVER_forKINDLE I’m part of another super funny book!

You can read the details about it here, but here’s the description from Amazon to pique your interest:

“Thank God for girlfriends and shared visits to powder rooms! That’s always been the concept behind our website InThePowderRoom.com where we’ve been entertaining women with our humor and bold, brave honesty since 2009. Now we’re taking it to the next level with an anthology of original short stories from some of the wittiest women writers we know—stories they would only tell their closest friends, most likely from within the haven of a ladies’ room.

Inside you’ll find 39 (mostly) true tales by women, for women, about being women—bodily changes, relationships, careers, motherhood, aging, illness, and more—written with the humor and grit that proudly sets In The Powder Room apart. But be forewarned: we’re holding nothing back. We’re revealing our deep dark secrets—because it’s through our most vulnerable and honest moments that we forge the strongest connections and discover we aren’t so alone after all.

You have a gimpy boob? Me too. You think glitter is the herpes of the craft world? Me too! You got your fishnet-clad leg stuck to your head on stage in front of thousands of people? Wait…what? OMG. Tell me everything! We are your friends, sisters, mothers, and daughters. Regardless of what life has dished up for you, chances are, we’ve been there and we can relate. We’ll help you laugh it off, or hold your hand until you’re ready to laugh again. And we promise: we’ll always tell you when you have lipstick on your teeth.”

To be honest, I’m really not sure why I’m part of it. Now I’m not being humble or anything, but I don’t even own a tube of lipstick and only have one “real” bra that fits that I wear out of social convention and not physical necessity.

In other words, I’m not a girly-girl.

Wait. Now that I think about it, maybe they only invited me to make themselves look a bit better. Like how I always feel really super pretty when I walk out of Wal-Mart given the fact that I have all my teeth and only one chin.

Oh well.

Even if I’m there just to balance things out, the point is that I’m in this book with a group of talented, hilarious women and you need to go check it out. I can’t promise that you’ll feel pretty, but I can promise that you will laugh—probably at our expense.

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Better than BlogHer, right?

This week thousands of bloggers are in Chicago attending BlogHer13, one of the biggest blogging conferences in the country. Bloggers will check out seminars, network, collect 1,264 business cards and make connections and memories with good companies and even better friends.

Blah, blah, blah.

Obviously I’m not there, mostly because:

a) I’m a peon in the blogging world who had no ads on her blog or “sponsors.”

b) I don’t have kids—apparently there is a “lactation” lounge—which would make me unappealing to said sponsors.

c) Self-promotion isn’t something I enjoy, and that’s 99 percent of this thing.

d) I would have to leave my house.

e) I don’t even like to travel for work—the thing I actually get paid to do—so the thought of spending $1,000 on a conference appeals to me about as much as self-promotion, a lactation lounge, writing only sponsored posts and leaving my house.

But what does appeal to me is meeting all the awesome people who are there—at BlogHer, not on my couch—and having fun with those talented/hilarious ladies.

So that combined with my raging insecurity that said awesome ladies will become bigger blogging superstars and best friends, forget about me and my blog and form some new clique like the Pink Ladies in “Grease” minus the hickeys from Kenickie is why I’m curled up in the fetal position avoiding any updates from Chicago.

Okay, not really.

It’s more like lounging on the couch this weekend watching baseball and finishing up an upcoming post about fictional characters in therapy. Hey—even Snow White has issues, you know.

But in the meantime—for the MILLIONS of you people who are also awesome but not in Chicago—I invite you to click over here and read about how I have the bladder the size of a Cheerio and memories of my first hover.

powder room Because while I might not be in Chicago, I am In the Powder Room and no one is around to kick us out (see BlogHer crap above.) If we show them how much unsupervised fun we can have while they’re gone, we might just get invited back.

And you don’t even have to leave your own couch. Win-win!

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Ask Abby Anything, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 in the “Ask Abby Anything” series that makes me feel selfish but that I’m writing because I am a WARRIOR who will do anything to make you people happy. Plus, it’s a holiday week when nobody’s on the Internet so I’m less insecure about such a self-involved post.

So without further ado—nobody likes too much ado—here is Part 2.


“How is it you’re single?  I don’t swing that way, but I do like your warped and twisted sense of humor.”

Yes, I take “warped and twisted sense of humor” as a compliment, which might be why I’m single. Or I’m single because I don’t date. I think that’s kind of how things work. There’s a long history of things that have lead up to this decision, but it boils down to the fact that I’m totally okay on my own.

I wouldn’t completely dismiss the possibility of dating a bit. However, I don’t put much effort into it, so unless this suitor comes to my door selling avocados, I’m pretty much destined for spinsterhood.


“How did you decide on your comfy couch?”

As you probably know, my couch gets me. We spend our weekends and weeknights together. There’s nothing I look forward to more than hanging out with some snacks and reading, writing or watching TV (see “Why are you single?” above.)

When I bought my house I found this one at the second store I went to. It matched my new paint, the ends reclined with foot things that came out and the price was right.  My thinking was that if it was what I liked, there was no point in searching for something better—even though now it’s covered in a blanket to protect it from hairballs.


“Do you have a favorite hummus recipe that you use?”

Yes, it’s really super easy. I get in my car and go to the store, locate the Wild Garden hummus and bring it home to live in my fridge until I stuff it in my face. It’s organic and has only a few ingredients but a bite that I really enjoy (warning though—the jalapeno flavor is WAY spicy.) I thin it a little with water and use it as a dressing for salads a lot.


“C
an you ride a unicycle?”

I’ve never actually tried a unicycle, but I rode into both my mom’s rosebushes and a fire hydrant when learning to ride a 2-wheeler and my coordination hasn’t greatly improved from that point, so I’m going to assume that I can’t. (Although maybe I should try—blog fodder!)

But I can still do the splits all three ways and carry 8 bottles of beer at one time (skills mastered while working as a cocktail waitress—don’t ask.) I have talent.


“People keep telling me that when I stop looking for a partner, that is when I will find him. Is this true? If it is true, how does one stop looking?”

I’m no expert (see above) but I never understood people obsessed with finding a husband. Live your own life, create your own happiness and your energy will draw in people who are meant to be in your life.

I might liken it to trying to remember the name of something you forgot. The harder you try and think of it, the slimmer the chance of it popping into your brain. Then one minute you’re in the shower and “BAM!” it comes to you. (Not that a husband is going to appear for you in the shower, but you get my point. I hope. If a husband DOES all the sudden appear for you in the shower, don’t drop the soap. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.)


“Worst job you’ve had?”

I’ve had some crappy jobs, but I would say it was working at a video store in high school. The video cases themselves were always dirty and gross, as were some of the people that came in there for porn. My supervisor was a 40-year-old guy who still lived at home and giggled when saying “Adult Video.”

We were required to wear a white dress shirt, black pants and a necktie. Yes, a tie. Not only was the tie not fashionable for a female, it also wasn’t practical when I had to clean the popcorn maker—scraping out the burned-on artificial butter and caramel syrup while practically hanging myself with the tie.

Eventually smelling like burned popcorn every day and being told I had to work every holiday and holiday eve, I started to want to purposely hang myself with the tie and quit. 


“Where can I buy your books?”

OK. No one asked that, but you can get read about them here and we can wrap up this ridiculously long post. Now I’m going to ask the five people on the Internet this week to entertain me: 

 Worst job you’ve had?

The Internship

Thank you for you interest in becoming my editorial intern. I realize this is a slightly unconventional position, but I need help with some things and you need the college credit, so it’s really a win-win!

Now let’s get this interview started.

Before my illustrious career as an editor for employment and blogger for enjoyment, I was an intern myself. Twice!

My experiences were the semester before I graduated from college. I moved to the mystical city of Detroit for six months to be a Publishing/New Media intern for the Detroit Red Wings. Being a HUGE puck head myself, it was pretty much an awesome experience.

redwingbook

I was Editorial Assistant for this hardcover publication. Cool book.

When I returned I was a Media Relations intern for the professional minor league hockey team in my home town. Neither of these positions paid, so working 40 hours a week for no money was a great way to prepare me for my future career as a writer.

This is where I should mention that this position doesn’t pay either, at least monetarily, but the experience will be priceless.

I spent my intern days compiling 4,000 trivia questions about hockey (not an exaggeration), running stats to scouts and stuffing sub sandwiches into rockets to be launched into the seats during games, but my intern will be doing more practical things.

As a mentor, I want to help you live the life of a successful writer so you might one day do your online shopping using the “Price High to Low” option instead of the other way around.

We all need to have goals.

I’m sure they taught you all the “book” things about writing you think you’ll need in the real world, but writing only gets you so far. The rules have changed and it’s actually much less about what you write than the things you do before and after you write.

So I will prepare you for the real world by asking you do a lot of work in order for me to reap the rewards and become successful without giving you very much credit. But again, great for the résumé!

Expected Duties

If you want to “go viral,” just writing something of quality won’t get you anywhere. So my intern will focus on deciphering electronic ebonics—LMAO, SMH, etc.— composing ridiculous lists for Buzzfeed and creating a new Internet sensation/meme that involves a moody cat wearing clothes. It can also be another small mammal, but cats seem to be a big hit.

During the summer months you’re required to mow my lawn at least once a week. There is no additional compensation for this, but I promise to look out the window and give you a “thumbs up.” 

Some of my followers forget to retweet everything I’ve ever tweeted, which is weird, so you’re required to retweet and “like” everything that I post on social media. If we’re together in person, simply ring a little bell every time I crack a joke.

If (when) you notice I have food in my hair or on my shirt, please let me know. I hate to see food go to waste.

Answer the phone with, “Can I take your order?” instead of “hello” to see if it helps to sell books. Also walk around the city reading passages out loud, laugh and suggest that they all buy the books.

Every Sunday you have to come over, brush my hair and yell at squirrels with me because it’s Sunday and we all need to unwind. YOLO! (See? I’m already using electronic ebonics — this is your first test.)


So as you can see, the experience will be invaluable and guarantees you probably might be able to get a semi-decent job five to 10 years after the completion of your education.

By the way, do you do toilets?

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