Saturday, March 28, 2015

Daily Adventures: Life, Life, Life

My brother's inner child wanted a Dinosaur Cake for his 27th Birthday.
I said I was going to do all sorts of "Daily Adventures" this blog, but really, I just end up posting random shit. Today, I felt like giving a general life update, and talk about how I've been feeling lately.

1. About a month ago, I started working at my old job again at the college, after being gone and living on only my business income for a year. The idea came up around Christmas time, when I went to visit my co-workers to give them cards and little treats. They asked if I wanted to come back to work with them. At the time, I flat-out said "no", because I do not want to go back to what I was doing before, which was being an aid and note taker for kids with special needs during their college courses. (Basically the movie Groundhog's Day. I was forced to repeat Freshman year forever.) It turns out that they are interested in trying to start up a night shift for the department, and they knew they could trust me to do the admin stuff and test proctoring, so I am in a sort of experimental phase a couple nights a week. We don't know if the college will allow it to stick, but I'm thankfully in a situation where I'll be alright with money if it falls through. It's the perfect part-time job. It does not interfere with my business at all, because most of my operations happen during the day

2. I decided to do an American Sign Language course to help one of our students. It feels really good to have the power to turn down working the classes I don't want (like Freshman math and English) and only say "yes" to the topics I'm actually interested in learning! I was really hyped about ASL at first, but since I came in mid-semester, I don't really understand a whole lot, but I still pick up on random vocabulary.

3. I was offered a wholesale collaboration with a local business owner that could have been really profitable....But the guy who offered to do the deal asked me out to dinner about two weeks into the project. On one hand, I couldn't help but feel a little flattered, because the moment I stepped out of my little hermit cave of social hiatus I took during all of 2014, someone is asking me out. On the other hand, it SUCKS. A LOT. I'm not interested  in this guy. We have zero chemistry, and he's way too old for me. I was very polite when I turned him down, and I am finding a way to slowly back out of this deal, but on the inside, I am screaming, REALLY DUDE!? It's too awkward and uncomfortable for me to continue the deal. So we both lose out on life-changing money. Unless he can find another e-commerce person in this area that has my track record, he took a $40k risk in order to see if he has a shot at asking me out. I feel like it's not even flattering at that point. It's just stupid. I did not give him any reason to think I would be interested. I was 100% all about the business and the numbers, and I never flirted with him. So it was literally like putting all his chips on one number on the roulette table and asking to spin.

4. I started going back to the gym. I really, truly feel so much more content with life when I add in green juice and exercise. I'm such an academic, nerdy couch potato, and yet I truly get addicted to having a healthy lifestyle once I get off my ass and begin doing it. The last time I had a gym membership, it was at an expensive health club. There were a lot of catty women who were clearly judging one another. I loved that gym, because it was so gorgeous, but I never loved the people who went there. Now that I am working at the college again, I get to use their gym for free. I am surrounded by the athletes who are putting in the weight lifting and cardio hours their coaches require of them. No one is judging one another. It's small, there definitely isn't a jacuzzi or sauna, but it's like the room has this vibe of mutual respect, because all of us are there to get fit. I love it.

5. It has finally been getting at least a little bit warmer lately, so that lifts my spirits. I thrive in warm weather. Gas prices are also going down, which is amazing. My plan is- now that I have multiple incomes, maybe I can finally afford to take more day trips. That is really the #1 reason why I chose the life of an e-commerce entrepreneur, and eventually (hopefully) a writer. I want the freedom to go wherever I want, whenever I want, and I may not even work during the summer, since most of our students don't even do summer classes. It just has me generally feeling hopeful and happy about the near future.






Thursday, March 26, 2015

WHY Do I Care About Getting Into Amazon Vine?

I have hit a sort of milestone. I have exactly 100 reviews, and 100 Helpful votes. I finally have a one-to-one ratio, and my ranking has change to 18,515. Yay! I'm very happy about that.

I decided to make a post about WHY being in Amazon Vine Voices is so appealing to me, for the sake of family and friends who might stumble upon my blog. For some people, I think it's self-explanatory, and a lot of people's initial reactions are that they think the program sounds awesome. However, I have one or two people in mind where I think, "I hope he would get this."

When I was  young, I just loved to read. Doing book reports was my favorite. I also love to write, and I have been saying I want to be an author since I was in the 4th grade. At some point, I must have seen a movie where the main character was a professional book reviewer. I'm sure she worked somewhere like The New York Times, where a reviewer would actually earn a living, but I remember saying, "If I can't be an author, I want to be a professional book reviewer!" (as if it would be so easy.)

Whenever I got money for my Christmas and Birthday, I would buy books. Looking back, I spent a fortune, when I really should have been buying clothes or something. Everyone knew to get me Barnes and Noble gift cards. I was a total nerd.

When I was in High School, I was apart of a book club and a "teen advisory council", and we were all sent advanced copies of a book, and asked to share our opinion. I was SO excited about that. I remember being fascinated with the fact that there was no price or bar code on the advanced reader's copy. It just blew my mind that I could get brand new books for free....before everyone else!

When I got a little older, I wrote for a website called Geek Girl on the Street, and one of my assignments was getting an advanced copy of a book, and writing a review about it. Even though I never reached that New York Times making-a-living status, I was so...just...I can't even say how happy I was about it. I got the free book, I got paid a little bit for the article, and the publisher even decided to use my quote as one of the praise taglines. I know it's a really small thing, but that was a proud moment for me.

Now, I am part of this website called Net Galley, and they are not exactly selective about giving away their advanced reading copies, but it still made me happy to know that at the very least, I get free books in exchange for my opinion of them.

I still love reading, but right now, I have so many books and so little time. I get so many for free and cheap now that if I stopped buying books altogether, I could still be entertained for years, but that doesn't stop me from getting more. (I have a rule with myself that I must donate my older books frequently to counter-balance my addiction.)

If I was accepted into Amazon Vine Voices, they will give me free books...and not just digital copies. I will be sent actual physical books. Not only that, but I will be able to get free stuff. I mean thousands of dollars of stuff that I would need to actually spend my hard-earned money on...and I see that as being as close to the dream I had as a little girl as I can possibly get.

I see it this way:
If I worked as a professional book reviewer at The New York Times, and I was assigned an advanced reader's copy of the newest Stephen King novel, I might decide to use part of my paycheck to spend $500 cash to go out to buy a top-of-the-line vacuum cleaner. In reality, I would never spend $500 on a vacuum, because I'm so cheap. I would probably go with the $100 model from Walmart, no matter how rich I was. I know myself well enough to be dead-set on that fact. I would rather spend the other $400 on something else.

As an Amazon Vine member, I get the top-of-the-line $500 vacuum for free, in exchange for a review, plus I get the same advanced reading copy of the newest Stephen King, also free, in exchange for a review.
What's the difference? If I was the first type of writer, my reviews would be read by thousands of people, and I choose the vacuum that is cheaper and possibly lower quality, because I do not want to spend so much of my hard-earned money on something if it does the same job regardless. Whereas if I am an Amazon Vine reviewer, I'd be lucky if 100 people read my review, but I get to keep the high-quality appliance that will probably last me for the rest of my life.

Maybe, to some people, Vine Voices seems like a waste of time, especially if they have good-paying jobs or if they just so happen to have a lot of money...but I'll just go ahead and say it: I don't have either of those things right now... I'm not an overly materialistic person. I just know that some day, when I am getting my own place, I will have to spend tons of money on appliances, and they will all end up being cheap. So why not get the best quality appliances FOR FREE? It just makes sense. Plus, I am fulfilling my childhood dream of being a "professional" book reviewer...I just get paid in stuff rather than money.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Plea from a Desperately Teddy-less Girl

In the past year or more, you could say that I have been a contender for the worst friend ever, and that goes for a lot of people. I suck. I know. I’m sorry.

I have an old friend who I care about very, very much. He is traveling, trying to fight for a cause that makes me proud to have ever known him. 
He had a rare trip home, and invited me to lunch in December, but I missed the message, because it was on my old work e-mail.
The last time we spoke, we had a fight, and stopped talking.
Since we last spoke, I got rid of my cellphone, and I got rid of a lot of ways he used to talk to me. The last time we spoke, I still had that job. He probably sent me the message on my work e-mail as a last ditch effort to contact me.

He probably assumed that I read it and ignored it, because normal people check their e-mail every day. He probably felt hurt by me ignoring him, and wanted to cut things off, and now that I have finally seen the message 3 months later, I can’t even e-mail him back. I really doubt if he will ever try again.

I’m going to regret this the rest of my life.
I’ve been thinking about what to do for the past two weeks. I am completely powerless.

I even tried Facebook messaging his mom, since he took law school really seriously and does not use social media. But through this, I found out that if you are not friends with someone, your messages go in an “untitled” spam folder. (Go check our your inbox, you probably have hidden messages on there too. I actually had a few myself.) So his mom, or any of this friends I may try to contact, won’t see my messages, either.

I have done everything I can do, except this.  I know that he would not try again, unless I gave him a reason to. If you’re reading this, Teddy, just try again. Please. I promise I’ll be there this time. The next time you're in town, even if it's years from now and we are old and gray, let’s go to JG Melons and have a burger and you can tell me all about your adventures. That’s all I could ever ask for.

Journey to Amazon Vine #6

I has been almost 2 months since my last update, because as I said in my last entry, the changes in my rank have been much smaller than they were before. At this point, it's not surprising to see my ranking fluctuate up and down by as much as 1,000 spots per day.
My ranking is currently 20,646 and I have 100 reviews, with 90 Helpful Votes.

I heard from somewhere online that Amazon is looking for people who fill in a certain dynamic. After all, if they have met their quota of white chicks on the east coast, there is no way I am getting in. However, if I was a Pacific Islander from Alaska, then maybe I would have been asked to be in Vine Voices a long time ago.

In the beginning, I wondered why more people are not talking about trying to get into Amazon Vine Voices. For me, the possibility of getting thousands of dollars in free stuff is such a big deal, I am willing to work on it constantly.

There have been a lot of Ah-Ha moments of wonderful things I have discovered in the past couple years. I think, "This is so wonderful! It everyone knew about this, I would no longer have this wonderful thing!." This is the reason why I think other Vine Voice members are afraid to talk too much about it on their blogs, or they try to scare other people away by saying what a "huge responsibility" it is to be given this free stuff and being forced to write about it. (Come on guys, really? If that's the worst part about it, I'm fine with that.)

I realize more and more that I have nothing to worry about that when it comes to other people. Some people may try to get in for a while, realize they do not have the time, and give up. Others do not even try in the first place, thinking that it is not worth their time or effort. This happened with me over the Goodwill Outlet and Couponing. My family sees me coming home with thousands of dollars of next-to-free stuff. They see the potential first-hand, and yet they still want nothing to do with the time and effort that goes into getting that free/cheap stuff. They do not mind reaping the benefits of it, they just do not want to do the work themselves.

I know that people to not want to do the work that is required, especially if they end up not even making it into Vine in the end. Amazon says that they only invited "reviewers they trust." ...And how can they trust someone to join the club unless they see evidence that you are constantly writing accurate reviews over a long period of time?

I am at this point where I think, "Why haven't they invited me yet?" especially since I have seen other Vine Voice members with a ranking of 25,000, and I am already better than that. However, like I said, I'm not giving up. Good things come to those who wait. If you start this journey, you will surely come to a crossroads like this where you have to decide if it is worth your efforts to continue or not. No matter what, good on you for trying.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Re-Occuring Nightmares

I got my Associate's Degree in Psychology, because I was always really interested in what makes people tick. Learning so much during those two years helped me get at least a broader understanding about people, the way we think, etc. There are some nightmares that everyone apparrently has (Ever dream about your teeth falling out? Well, that means you're worried about getting older!)

My dreams are almost always very vivid, and unfortunately, they are sometimes really mundane and realistic...So much so, that there have been times where I confuse my dreams with reality (For example, it has happened more than once: "Wait, isn't she mad at me? We just had a fight yesterday...Wait, no we didn't! I just dreamed that! Thank God!)

There are some dreams and nightmares, however, that are unique to us. I think our nightmares say a lot about who we are as people, especially when they are re-occurring.

My first reoccurring nightmare that I used to get all the time was that I miss the school bus. It does not matter that I have my Bachelor's Degree. It does not matter that I have been driving my own cars for the past 8 years. It does not matter that I even had to drive two hours each way to get to my university. I still have the nightmare, and I look out my window to see the bus leaving without me, and I feel this surge of anxiety and panic, as if this is the worst possible thing. I feel so stupid and irresponsible. Apparently, it means that I am experiencing a major setback on one of my goals, feeling lost, unsure of what to do, etc. Yeah. I can see that. I have not had this dream in a while, so I guess that's a good sign.

My second reoccurring nightmare also has to do with school. In the dream, I am contacted by my high school, informing me that I actually failed math, and that they are revoking my High School Diploma unless I go back and re-take Calculus. (In reality, I got a C in Calculus, which is practically like failing by my standards.) I remember sitting down with my principal, asking him if there was any way to avoid the problem. I explain that I have a Bachelor's Degree, I show him my transcripts with my college-level math, I try to remind him that everyone was only required to pass Algebra 2, and I was actually in the advanced math track. No matter what I do, the Principal always says no, I MUST come back and finish this math course, or my whole academic transcript is worthless. Obviously, this is not how real life works, but in the Dream World, it does. That first part of the dream is always the same.

In the first version of the math class dream, I sit in with teenage kids, feeling very old. I am embaressed, and I can feel everyone judging me. This version of the dream happened many times, and it was always a huge relief to wake up and realize it was not real.
In another version, I ignore the Principal's demands, thinking, "I know this is bullshit. I passed math. This is not real," and decide to walk around the school and hang out with my favorite teachers. (This may have been a lucid dream.)
In one of the final versions, I walk out of the Principal's office to find all of my old High School friends gathered in the hall. It turns out we all had classes we needed to re-take. Instead of mixing us with younger kids, we are all in the same classroom at night, We all have these busy lives outside of what we are being forced to do, but we find a way to have fun.

It is actually what's called a "serial dream", which is a dream that is the same story line, but it evolves and changes as your mind works through the issue. It's like several episodes in a serial drama. The longer it takes for your mind to work around the issue, the more seasons will air on your brainwaves.

There is nothing online that could really interpret my dream for me, but if I were to guess, I think it has a lot to do with me feeling disappointed in where I am in my life.
I grew up being told by everyone around me that if I went to college, I would find a good job, and make a lot of money. Since I always got good grades, and people always commented on how mature I was for my age, I was told by people over, and over, and over again that they thought I was going to be very successful.
Maybe, if I was born 10 years earlier, that would have been true. No one knew that our economy would go to shit the way it did. However, it didn't stop me from blaming myself and taking it as a personal failure that I am not making as much money at 25 as I thought I would be my entire life. I also used to think I would go on to get my PhD or JD, which is not currently happening, either.

Everything I thought I knew about myself has been turned upside-down in the past two years. I spent a long time beating myself up over my failures. The few friends from high school I stayed close with ended up with their dream careers despite the economic issues, so I used that to justify how much of a failure I must be.
I think the serial dream only began to transform when I realized more and more that I am truly not the only person who is not exactly where I expected to be at 25. Even my friends who got their dream careers are not as happy with it as they thought they would be. 

I am slowly beginning to love my life, so much so that I no longer feel very bad when someone questions my choices. Right now, what matters most to me is my freedom. I want to be able to spend my time in whatever way I want. I never want to tie my identity to a career so closely that if I get laid off or fired, I do not know who I am anymore.
I have worked for myself long enough now that I am truly ruined. I can never be anything except an entrepreneur ever again. I recently started working for my old job at night again, but it is because I want to. It is because I enjoy spending time with these people, and it gets me out of the house. If a better opportunity comes along, I will not think twice about leaving, but for now, it makes me happy. The money does not even matter at this point, because I am doing what I want to do. I am not being forced into anything due to the fact that I have to take what I can get, which is more than a lot of people can say in this economy.

So, the serial dream has gone away. I'm sure I will miss the bus again once or twice. Failure is inevitable. What matters more is what we do with that failure. We can't let it ruin us. We have to take it, learn from it, and move forward with the new knowledge about ourselves. Remember that you can turn your life around at any moment. Any age. No matter how big of a mistake you make, you can always redeem yourself.
 If you are experiencing a reoccurring nightmare, asking yourself "why", and see what you can do to bring that serial to the finale.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Baker

Yesterday, I was making one of my trips to a business park only 5 minutes outside Philadelphia. The park holds the United States Postal Service main distribution center, which is a campus of buildings running everything the smaller offices need to get letters and packages to the rest of the world. This campus is right down the street from one of my inventory warehouses. I was taking a break from sorting through the items I would bring home with me by mailing off the things that had already sold.

The air always smells like funnel cake, which I am told is thanks to a local bar that decided it was a good idea to add it to the menu. On sunny days, the smell only intensifies, and it's a strange thing to see long stretches of concrete roads and walls accented by the sweet scent I usually associate with roller coasters and arcades. I often forget where the smell comes from, and I look off into the direction of where the Tastykake bakery used to be. My mom used to take us there when we were kids, bringing home cheap bread and snacks that were about to expire. It's really no wonder why I was always such a fat kid.

"Are you a Baker?" someone asked me as I was walking down the Post Office steps.
I turned, and saw an elderly man holding on to a mail cart. He looked far too old to still be working. He should be home, watching television, soaking up his great government pension and social security instead of working in the massive blizzard we got last week.
My first thought was, Tastykakes.
"No, I'm not a baker," I said.
"Sarah Baker," he said. This time, I looked at him straight in the face. His eyes were lit up with such joy, like he was seeing an old friend for the first time in years. "Are you related to her? You look just like her...She was my High School Sweetheart. Are you sure you're not related?"
"No, sorry, I'm a Quinn," I told him.
"A Quinn, huh..." he said, returning to his cart. I wondered if he had any association with the Quinns. After all, only a few miles from where we stood, this man lived in the generation where my grandfather, with the rest of the Irish boys created empires, raising 6 kids each who would grow to be business owners and princesses, while their grandchildren were reduced to student loan-enslaved, un or under-employed kids who have no idea what's going on with the world. Being a Quinn is not as exciting as being a Baker. Not when a Baker is connected to his first love.

When you really love somebody, you won't forget.  Not even when you're 75 years old, working a job to keep yourself busy. If he loved her so much, why didn't he marry Sarah Baker? And what must it feel like to see the ghost of the one person you loved most? Do I really look just like her, or does he miss her so much that he is still trying to hold on to the things he remembers? Maybe it was the long hair, or my nose, or something that triggered it. I guess lost true love dooms us to keep searching for ghosts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Journey to Amazon Vine Voices Update #5

According to the Amazon website, they update rankings once a day. For the past few months, I only noticed changes in my ranking every two weeks to a month. Once my ranking reached the 31,000 or so range, it flows every couple days, so the small incrimental changes do not seem blog-worthy anymore. I will only do one final update whenever I actually get invited, if that does in fact happen. What I am assuming most people are interested in would be what my final ranking will be before the committee invites me.

I found a Vine Voice reviewer whose ranking was around 25,000, which gave me hope that I could be invited soon. I have also heard that some people e-mail the committee requesting an evaluation. I think I will hold off on doing that for a little while. I just started a new wholesale business deal yesterday that is really exciting, but it also gives me a lot more work to do, So I will try to have patience when it comes to getting into Vine Voices.

If you have been reading these posts, and your ranking is still in the millions or hundreds of thousands, my advice would be to just keep doing the best you can. So far, I do not think there is any trick to the process. Just write good reviews. Be honest, original, and consistent.