Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Need More Cash?

In previous posts I've talked about shopping smarter in the grocery store, cheaper meals, the best products to get at the Dollar Store, and reducing waste as a means of saving money. Whether you're trying to pay off some debt, saving for something special or just trying to pay monthly bills sometimes you just need more money.

The easiest way to do that is to get another job. Except... I deal with chronic pain issues and work a full-time job. I have a second job that I work a few days a month. I also value spending time with my nieces and nephew so I help take care of them a few times a week. Getting a third job isn't really an option for me. What do you do then?

I keep seeing these posts about how people should start a blog to make money. I have a confession to make:

So far, the answer for me has been to cut costs on things I'm already buying. I'm earning back where I can. I'm also finding ways to earn money that doesn't mean working more hours during the week. This list isn't going to help you earn money in a short period of time or for emergencies. It also isn't going to give you an income you can live off of. The suggestions on this list are a great way to get some money back, cut costs and add some extra to the monthly budget.

These are all things I have tried and I am using weekly, sometimes daily, to earn back money. Using these programs, I earned back at least $600 in cash, gift cards or merchandise credit in 2017.

Amazon Mturk Amazon's Mechanical Turk program allows you to work from home performing "Human Intelligence Tasks" (HITs). You can work from home at your convenience. The process of signing up is pretty simple and easy to understand. Sign up is free and you don't need to really do anything extra if you already have an username and password.

There isn't much experience required for many of the assignments, but it does require some patience and a willingness to do the work. The idea of Amazon Mturk isn't to make an income to life off of but simply to make some extra money for completing simple tasks. Some tasks aren't available to beginners, but you can obtain qualifications by requesting them and sometimes taking tests to prove you can do it.

Tasks can include things like photo moderation for dating apps, simple transcription, and educational surveys. I complete HITs when it is slow during my regular office hours. In 2016, I made an $120.09. In 2017, I challenged myself to complete $1.00 worth of assignments each day. I earned $237.36.

I do have to warn you that not all HITs are as safe as one would expect. Sometimes despite the best efforts of Mturkers and the site, scams do occasionally get through and should not be completed by workers. While there aren't many, sometimes they do come up. The best way to avoid this is to not sign up for anything or provide personal identification information or financial information to anyone other than Amazon.

Swagbucks They recently started advertising via television commercials. Unfortunately, the problem with Swagbucks is that the site and how it works sounds too good to be true. I'm here to tell you that it is true!

When I initially signed up, I didn't earn much. It wasn't until I learned how to utilize Swagbucks to earn that I really started making money with it. Like Mturk, you cannot make a living on this site but you can bring in some additional income. In 2017, I earned back $175 in Amazon gift cards, Steam gift cards and payments made to my Paypal account.

So, how does it work and how to I make money? First you need to sign up. This is a pretty easy and straight forward process (use this link for a $3 bonus when you earn 300 Swagbucks: Once you're signed up, you can start earning money through the various earning opportunities. These include:

    Image result for swagbucks
  • Surveys: Definitely on of the most popular and fastest ways to earn. You earn points for answering questions.While you won't be eligible for every survey, you'll get 1 SB for the first five you try that you aren't eligible for.
  • Search Engine: If you use the Search Engine, Swagbucks will randomly reward you with Swagbucks for looking up recipes or searching for cat videos.
  • Referral Program: Swagbucks knows sharing is caring. If you refer a friend, you'll earn 10% back of everything they earn. So if you're friend completes a 100 SB survey, you will get 10 SB. This will work out great if you have a lot of friends.
  • Cash Back: This is one of my favorite features on Swagbucks. You can earn cash back for shopping at online retailers including Amazon, Target and Best Buy. The best way to use this is to download the Swagbutton which will notify you when you can earn cash back through a website.
  • Trial Offers: This is another one of my favorite features on Swagbucks. I sign up for things I want to try and get points. This is great for someone like me because I like to try new things and doing it this way means I get points and deals I wouldn't get going through other sites. If you sign up to try a program or trial offer, you can sometimes earn $25 worth in gift cards back just for trying a service. These services usually include monthly programs and require a credit card, but you can cancel after the first month if you don't like it. Offers include things like signing up for Hulu, Blue Apron or popular snack boxes like NatureBox.

    I recently tried NatureBox. I ordered $20.96 plus $4.95 for shipping. There was a code for $15.00 off. The total was $10.91 for my box and I received 1,250 Swagbucks ($12.50) in rewards.

    Last month they were offering a one day deal if you signed up for Schwans as a new customer.  I basically received my order for $3.81

    The Total: $55.44
    Order Savings with Coupon Code: $16.63
    Order Total: $38.81
    SB Earned: 3500 SwagBucks or $35 which I put back into my bank account via Paypal.
  • Games: Swagbucks offers games on their site, but it's not my preferred method of earning points.
  • Watch: You can earn Swagbucks by watching videos. By clicking on the Watch button and allowing it to play, you can earn up to $5.00 a day sometimes. Swagbucks also has a number of apps you can use to watch things like recipes and funny comedy clips that can earn you $3-5 a day if you allow them to play.
  • Daily To-Do List: Swagbucks gives you a to-do list every day that includes things like answering a Daily Poll questions, watching "Crave" which is a daily video, and attempting a survey. If you complete your To-DO list, you get a bonus!
  • Coupons: Swagbucks offers a really great coupon program every month where you can print off coupons for things like groceries, make up and toilet paper. The best part? You earn when you print the coupons and when you use them. For extra savings, use the coupons with programs the other programs below!
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Ibotta When it comes to saving on groceries, Ibotta has been the best app I've found so far. The app also includes things like soap and shampoo. Before you go shopping, scroll through the app and add offers to your list. Sometimes you'll need to answer a few survey questions or watch a short film to unlock an offer first. Then go shopping and buy the items you selected at any of the participating stores. Don't forget your receipt because you'll need it! Redeem your offers by taking a photo of your receipt and scanning them as you put them away. You may be asked to scan a barcode from the package. Your cash will be deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours. You can withdraw cash once you've earned a minimum of $20.

You'll also earn extra money completing bonus offers which include buying items multiple times or completing a number of offers every month. If you link your Ibotta account to your Facebook, you'll be part of a team and you'll earn bonuses for that as well. You can also earn cash back by using Ibotta to go to your favorite sites like Jet and Amazon (for specific categories like Video and Pet).

I've been a member since March 2016 and I've earned back a $185.17.

BONUS TIP: You can use both store sales, store coupons, coupons from Swagbucks, other apps and manufacturer's coupons with Ibotta.

Click this link or use referral code smaclgp and you'll receive a $10 welcome bonus and you'll be included as a member of my team which will help you reach bonuses!

Fetch Rewards My second favorite app for groceries is Fetch Rewards. It's a newer app that rewards you for buying specific brands when you shop. Fetch Rewards also has special offers from time to time on certain brands. Using the app is easy, just scan your grocery receipt and when Fetch spots an item it will ask you to verify it. Then you'll be rewarded points.
Image result for fetch rewards

I started using Fetch in August of 2017. I've earned back $13, which isn't much but I also haven't been tailoring my shopping to accommodate their special offers. I could earn more with this program if I watched their featured items. However I choose to buy products I already use and enjoy. I don't modifying my shopping habits to accommodate the brands they offer.
Use referral code FA1WR and you'll get 1,500 Fetch Points ($1.50) bonus when you complete one receipt.

Walgreens Balance Rewards Everyone should be using this program! Points back for what you buy, extra points when you buy in bulk, and you can use it with apps like Ibotta & Fetch. There is no downside to the Walgreens Balance Rewards program. The best part? You can use it with the other programs I've listed above, including coupons AND using Walgreens coupons. While the website only shows me the last 180 days, I've earned back at least $60 from this program alone in 2017. Shopping at Walgreens when items are on sale costs less than shopping at Walmart. While I love that Walmart has the Savings Catcher program, if you use the Balance Rewards and buy items on sale at Walgreens you get the sale price plus purchase points.

BONUS TIP: Link your health tracker (Fitbit, Fitbit Aria, Omron blood pressure, etc) to your Balance Rewards card and earn points for daily activities. You can also earn for tracking your weight and blood pressure readings.

Walmart Savings Catcher The Savings Catcher is not dead! There was some serious miscommunication regarding the Savings Catcher program a few months back. I contribute the miscommunication problems to people not knowing about the price match guarantee and reading and comprehension problems in the United States. There were a few changes that came from Walmart this year. The first change was that they were no longer going to allow Price Matching in the stores. This means you can't bring a competitors ad to the cashier and get it for the lower price. Most people don't use it anyway, but it's even less necessary with the Savings Catcher program which basically does the same thing for you. In September 2017, Walmart announced that balances would be transferred to an EGift card automatically. According to the notice, “We’ll be transferring your Savings Catcher rewards balance to an eGift Card between October 11 and October 31– just in time for the holiday season. Your eGift Card can be used toward any Walmart purchase.” You can still use the program, but you'll have to use Walmart Pay.

Receipt Hog While it is considerably slower at earning that any of the aforementioned apps and programs, Receipt Hog is really easy. All you have to do is scan your receipt. Receipt Hog accepts a broad range of receipts including retail, grocery and even fast food. Unfortunately, they don't give you credit for digital receipts. I've been using this program for a few years now and earn about $15 back a year. This might be more useful for people with bigger grocery bills.

Checkout51 This program is very similar to Ibotta. I'm not going to lie, I don't like it as much. The reason I'm mentioning it is because many times offers on Ibotta are also available on Checkout51. I recently bought two bags of Brownie Brittle on sale at Walgreens 2/$5. Ibotta gave me a $2.00 rebate and Checkout51 had a rebate for $1.00. I consider that a definite win!

Sell Items Online I know, I know... selling things online can be a pain. Sites like Ebay have really made huge strides towards making it an easier process for sellers! Ebay has now partnered with the United States Postal Service so you can print your USPS shipping label right at home after selling your item. There are many other sites where you can list and sell your gently used items, even makeup! You can also sell books, clothing, collectibles and stuff you just don't want anymore.

Consignment Stores My area has consignment stores that will pay cash after reviewing my items. While they pay less than what I would get if I were to take the time to sell my items online, I also don't have to deal with the Craigslist weirdos. I also feel better about this option because I'm getting something back, even if it's just a little bit.

Search for Unclaimed Money Currently, the government does not have a central website for searching unclaimed property by name, social security number or state. To find unclaimed money, start with your state and states you've lived in and search your state's listing of unclaimed funds and property.  You're going to want to use sites ending in .gov. When I searched, I found that there was a check for me. I was suspicious when it was requested that I fill out the mail-in form, which included some very serious personal information (including a copy of my State Issued ID). However, a family member informed me that they had done this after a relative had passed and it was legitimate. A check was mailed to me shortly after. The check was a refund owed to me by a previous employer for funds removed from my check in error. When I had updated my address earlier that year with the company, they had failed to correctly enter my address and so when they attempted to mail the check, it was returned. When you do a search, the database will tell you if the amount is less than $10, between $10-100, $100-1,000 and will include where the money is coming from. The most common ones I've seen (by searching for my family members) is school refunds, insurance refunds and old pay stubs.

DO NOT ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE SCAMMED. There are some sites posing as Unclaimed Property sites. They will attempt to charge you a fee to get you your money. The government does not do this because it is already your money and you have a right to it.

Class Action Rebates Long story short, when a company settles a class action lawsuit for a product you purchased you will often be eligible for a cash payment as compensation. However, in order to receive that payment you need to file a claim form stating that you purchased the product and are entitled to some of the settlement. While most settlements require no proof of purchase, others have requirements like receipts or proof of purchase. If you are able to provide the additional information, you should absolutely file.  Once the claim has been approved, your claim check will be mailed to you at the address you provided. Checks are usually mailed 1-2 months after the claims period closes.

You can find lists of current Class Action Lawsuits and how to file a claim at sites like and Class Action lawsuits usually involce consumber fraud, misleading advertising or defective products and can be for just about anything including food and drink purchases, appliances, vehicles, and even pet food. I recently received an $86 check in the mail from a pet food company. The small Mom & Pop store that I purchase cat food from keeps meticulous records regarding what you buy from them. I was able to obtain a copy of my applicable purchases to include with my claim form.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Claims are legal documents. If you submit a claim for something you didn't purchase, you could face legal consequences. If you didn't buy it, don't claim it. There's just no sense in doing that.

Sell Plasma I've left this option for last because I know not everyone is able to do it. This is the one suggestion I have that I personally am not able to do. I was rejected because of my veins. However, I've known people who get paid rather well for going and selling plasma once or twice a week. I once suggested it to a friend and he used it to pay his utilities for two years. Plasma centers pay different depending on your area, but in my area a single weekly visit can mean an additional $100 in the bank. Some centers allow a second visit in a week and often pay more for that additional visit.

While all these things do take a few extra minutes, the pay off for me has been more than worth it and I hope this list helps your bottom line too!

What apps or websites are you using to save money?  Do you have any helpful tips for the programs I mentioned?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

What A Clever Little White Witch

Growing up, I feel in love with the movie Hocus Pocus when it came out in 1993.

I was obsessed. I probably wouldn't be the only child of the 90's to say their interest in witchcraft began at Hocus Pocus and was fueled during tumultuous teen year by The Craft.

Imagine my horror when I recently read that Disney wants to remake Hocus Pocus.

I'm not against remakes. I was excited about the new Ghostbusters movie and loved it for the most part. I'm terrified of clowns, but I've heard fantastic things about the new IT movie. I looked forward to the Live remake/revival/whatever of the classic Rocky Horror Picture Show starring Emmy-nominated actress, documentary film producer and prominent equal rights advocate Laverne Cox.

I don't struggle to reimagine and recast classics. I'm not against the idea of continuing franchises a few years into the future. I actually think doing these things is necessary to appeal to younger audiences, though I believe the hotness of ghostly Thackery Binx is pretty timeless. That being said, a Hocus Pocus reimagining feels like a real hard "No, Thank You".

Times have totally changed. All of those Virgin references and jokes that were surprisingly acceptable in the 90's are never, ever going to be put in a Disney movie now. Max cuddling with is pillow before his sister pops out of the closet? It was awkward then, but it would never happen in a Disney movie now. In fact, much of the movie will not be possible with the current child-friendly state of Disney. I mean, how are they going to get away with a hanging scene? The adult references throughout the movie?

Cell phones ruin everything. Watch any movie from the 90's before everyone went through their Nokia phase. Now imagine everyone has a smart phone. Half of the dilemma's posed in the plot lines are magically solved, no witches required.

Do we even have to talk about the rise of helicopter parents? This movie would never take place. Who leaves their kids to wander the streets alone anymore?

Last, but not least, while reimaginings are fun... it's just impossible. While we were all skeptical about a Rocky Horror Reimagining, the truth is that anyone who has ever been to a live performance of RHPS knows that it was made to be reimagined. Like the third Addams' Family movie (which I've never even seen) or the last Home Alone movie, it's hard to sell something that is allegedly a sequel without the original characters having anything to do with it. I don't know that you can do a Hocus Pocus without Bette Midler. I'm sorry, but that woman is an irreplaceable jewel. Kind of like the Heart of the Ocean in Titanic - that movie would have been completely different if the Heart of the Ocean had been a giant engagement ring.

Maybe I'm just being salty, but I'm not ready for Disney to turn Hocus Pocus into a new Halloweentown.

An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, September 24, 2017


I'm a huge fan of this Internet meme. I mean, what's not to love? It speaks to the resilience and adaptability of women. It also pokes fun at a misogynistic idea that's survived since the medieval period. There is just so much to love.

It is important for women to learn how to fly after our wings have been broken. It is also essential for women to remember the fundamental purpose of brooms. It is something I myself needed reminding of recently.

Yesterday marks the four year anniversary since I left an abusive relationship.

Four years ago, I realized I needed to fix the things about myself that led me to being in an abusive relationship. Things needed to change or that relationship would be every relationship I ever had for the rest of my life. I studied. I read. I worked on finding peace in silence and the joy of my own company again. I rediscovered things I'd set aside that brought me happiness. I practiced listening to my instincts instead of second guessing myself.

Some days I can believe I have made progress with those changes. Other times, I am not sure that I have ever known what I am doing. I thought I had worked on myself enough. I thought I had learned what to avoid in other people. I thought I had spent enough time alone. After all these years I thought it was safe to try and find someone again.

I was wrong.

I am going through a break-up.

I could blame him for the disagreements. I could demonize him for the times that he didn't do the "right" thing. But I don't want to. That isn't what happened.

In the mixed emotions that come after a break-up, I am doubting myself. It feels as though my strength is only false bravado. It feels as though I am posturing for everyone. It feels like I haven't dealt with myself, only put on my Brave Girl face. I don't know that I've grown or changed or healed anything. In many ways, it feels that I've just learned to hide it better.

I wasn't the person I wanted to be in my relationship. I'd done the things I needed to do to grow, but it was like putting on a new coat of paint and not giving it enough time to dry. I was living healthier. I was happier. I felt good about where I was. But I hadn't done it long enough for it to become a real way of life. When something happened that left me feeling hurt or angry, it was so easy to revert to old behavior.

That tells me everything I need to know. No one deserves the lion's share of the blame. Looking back, it would not have ever worked out. I wish I would have been able to save us both some heartache. I wish I would have had the strength to stand on the foundation I had begun rebuilding for myself. I wish I would have had the courage to stand on my own two feet. I wish I hadn't been so ready and able to sweep the issues under the rug.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Polluted Mermaid Hair

From the ages of 21 to 29, I worked for employers that would not allow me to have alternative colored hair. Except for a few pink streaks, I've stuck to all natural colors. I became tired of the maintenance, the damage and the cost. I grew out my natural color. This lasted a good couple of years.

It lasted until a few months ago when I was online and a post about magenta hair came up.  It was so gorgeous. I thought about it for a week before deciding to do it. The thought that prompted me to take the leap?

I'm not getting any younger. I might as well have a little fun with the hair I have while I still have it.

I started with magenta. Then I was a violet vixen for a few months. I recently decided that I wanted to have teal hair. I promptly ordered teal dye from the company that made my violet dye that I loved so much. The company had recently come out with a new formula that was longer lasting with less bleed and I was so excited to try it.

I prepared my hair. But when I opened the box of new dye, the safety seal looked like it had been opened and resealed. I'd seen lots of safety seals with manufacturing defects and the products were fine. I assumed that perhaps the products were cheap because of the defect.

I know I'm not supposed to buy salon products at the drugstore. I'd heard of counterfeit products being sold online, but I was buying hair dye not a Coach bag. Imagine my surprise when I rinsed my hair and blow dried it to find that there seemed to be something wrong.  Very wrong.  My hair felt very slimy and the color mostly washed down the drain. Unfortunately, by that point it was too late for me to do anything about it. I had to go to work with my splotchy, uneven, faded new hair color. I jokingly named the color Polluted Mermaid.

Upon reviewing the seller, they'd had a number of bad reviews from others who had experienced the same thing. When I remembered I'd bought another tube of dye from the same seller in a different color, I opened the box.  This tube's safety seal had also been punctured. Two different tubes in different colors, bought on different days from the same company and both were opened. That seems highly unlikely. I'm not saying I received counterfeit product, but... it did seem likely that it was tampered.

I fixed my hair that night. I also made sure to give myself a speech about the importance of safety seals. Lesson learned. I'm sure I'll forget though.

Have you ever bought something online that turned out to be a bad purchase? Did you learn your lesson?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Customer is Not Always Right - A Poop Story

While updating my resume earlier this week, I realized that I've worked in Customer Service for a long, long time. If we're being honest, probably long enough to actually shave a few years off of my life.

I've learned a lot about working with younger people, managerial types, what it's like to work the floor during the various busy seasons of the year.  But most importantly, I learned a lot about customers.

The phrase "The Customer is Always Right" can be traced back to Harry Gordon Selfridge of Selfridge's Department Store in London. You may be more familiar with the story of Selfridges because of the popular PBS Masterpiece show starring Jeremy Piven. Harry Selfridge might have been a pioneer of retail in London, and eventually maybe even the world, but he was wrong. The customer is NOT always right and I've worked in retail long enough to see many examples of this.

Sometimes people are just wrong.

While working the Service Desk at a former employer, I once had a customer call the store number to ask for help. She was in our bathroom, but wouldn't specify what the problem was. I called my manager who sent me in there because "you're better at dealing with things like this".

When I walked into the bathroom, I found the woman in the bathroom stall.  She'd had a terrible accident and needed some help getting suitable to get out of the store.  I tried to be as kind and compassionate as possible. She was clearly humiliated. She asked me to get some bags we could put her soiled clothing in.  She wanted me to find some underwear and a pair of shorts like the soiled garments she'd handed me to bag up for her.

How do you choose underwear for a stranger?  She'd told me only her size, not her panty cut preferences. I was on my own.  I chose something I thought was reasonable. When I brought them to her, she asked me for something different. I found shorts similar to what she had on, but we didn't have anything that were a perfect match.  I pulled the tags off and explained she could pay at the desk. She walked out the door with her soiled clothing. After five minutes, I was afraid she would not come back in to pay. After ten, I checked to see if she was in the parking lot. When she came back in, I rang her up and she left the store.

We had been having problems with our bathroom at the store.  The first time, a customer approached a cashier and said our bathroom needed immediate attention. The cashier who was one of the youngest on staff informed their manager. The bathroom was shut down to the public immediately.  There are no gentle words to describe what we found in there. It was as if someone had bent over and exploded. We cleaned it that day in complete awe. We assumed someone must have had a serious and unfortunate emergency problem. We thought it would be a one-time experience.

We were wrong.

The mess would continue to happen on a monthly basis. Month after month someone would end up in the bathroom for two or three hours. We didn't have janitorial staff, so a cashier would have to leave their register for hours to deal with the mess. Dealing with the mess meant cleaning feces off of the top and bottom of the toilet, the wall behind it, the stall partitions and the floor. The mess usually was not contained to a single stall.  The entire bathroom would be shut down to clean the adjacent stalls from the splattered stool.  The first few times it happened we got everything cleaned up only to have another customer complain about a smell in the bathroom. We didn't realize that whoever was doing this was also leaving their soiled underwear in the sanitary napkin disposal.

Management had no interest in trying to find out who was doing this. It might have been weird to stake out the bathroom to figure it out, but it was happening on the same discount day every month. They could have figured it out pretty easily. Instead, month after month they asked an employee making ten cents above minimum wage to spend hours on their hands and knees cleaning up feces.

This went on for months. I didn't realize until later that the woman I had tried to treat with so much dignity was the person whose shit I'd been wiping up. I'd spent hours breathing in her brand of methane gas. When she'd handed me her panties in the bag from the sanitary napkin disposal, I thought she was just using what was available to her. Looking back, she'd stuck her panties in there many times before.

I've told this story a few times. Most people react with horror and disgust. My mother has always chided me about it. She doesn't believe I'm being very compassionate about the situation. She thinks my irritation at the situation was an overreaction. She may be right, but she also didn't have to process the return.

The corporation I worked for had three locations in our city. The location on the opposite end of town was having staffing problems and had called to request help. I was managing the front desk when I heard someone come up behind me. I turned around and was face to face with the woman I had taken a bag of soiled panties from only days before.

She put a bag on the counter, handed me a receipt and said she would like to return these shorts. She didn't make eye contact because she was busy looking at her phone. I looked at her. I looked at the receipt. She had kept the tags. The shorts were not visibly stained, and they had not been washed.

Anyone who has ever wiped their ass with the cheap toilet paper they put in retail store bathrooms knows it's practically useless. That woman didn't have any water in there. I used gloves to bag her soiled shorts because they couldn't be rolled up enough to contain the mess. There is nothing she could have done to have cleaned herself up enough that those shorts weren't in some way in direct contact with her excrement.

I realized this, so I was not touching the shorts after checking to see if they'd been washed. I had no reason to refuse the return other that I knew that I had personally sold her the shorts three days before. Management would not have stood behind me if I refused to return the item. Personal knowledge that an item had been exposed to bodily waste wasn't technically against the company return policy. There was no justification not to give her the money back. So I processed the return.

The woman was completely engrossed in whatever she was doing until I handed her the receipt. It was the only time she looked up and made eye contact. I don't think I could hide the smirk at that point. The look on her face was priceless. She left the store immediately.

I stopped working the days she was known for coming in and destroying our bathrooms. I left the company not long after.

People have tried to justify her behavior after hearing the story. Maybe she had some kind of medical problem. Maybe she couldn't afford the shorts I'd sold her. I'm always willing to consider the excusable reason someone is trying to offer. At the end of the day, it's pretty hard for me to see where this customer was right.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Freaking (and Geeking) Out

Late last year, I was invited to attend my first CONvergence. CONvergence is a four day annual convention for fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy in media. This year's theme, "To Infinity & Beyond" was a celebration of all things Space Opera. It seemed like a cool new experience so I jumped on board.  As we got closer and closer to the end of 2017 and I started preparing, I got nervous.

I have social anxiety. Crowds make me especially nervous. When I get nervous about something, I Google the shit out of it. Reading the available knowledge of what to expect makes things easier for me. But even after joining Facebook groups and reading blogs, my head spun with questions. Was I supposed to dress up? Would I stand out if I didn't? Would I stand out if I did? What the hell are badge ribbons for? Was I going to have fun? Would there be weirdos?  Most importantly, would there be my type of weirdos there?

Then I encountered the whole Geek Girl... thing.  It's a thing.  There is no other way to describe it.

I've never considered myself or referred to myself as a Geek. In fact, I've never known what to label myself.  While labels can be used to segregate people, I also believe they help to create communities. I've never really had a label, so when I saw the Fake Geek Girl meme I started to get uncomfortable.

Because I'm kind of a Fake Geek Girl.

I was five the first time a boy grilled me to see how much I knew before declaring that I didn't know anything. We were playing "Mario Brothers". It was our own version of "the ground is lava". The goal was to climb across the swing set to rescue the princess then swing back across without touching the ground. At the time, Billy was the only kid on the block actually owned his own Nintendo. Billy's mom had a rule that only one friend was allowed over at a time. The girls were never invited. The fact that it was make-believe didn't stop Billy from challenging the girls who tried to change or make up a new rule. When he grudgingly accepted a new challenge rule, it was imperative that he point out that it wasn't in the real game every time it was brought up. In hindsight, I should have just kicked him out of my yard.

This would not be the only time this would happen to me. After surviving puberty, if my favorite character wasn't the Token Female Character I was just "into the hot guy". It isn't like I really had a choice though. Well-written, realistic female characters who are more than an accessory or plot device were a rarity. Female characters are generally underdeveloped in character but ample in the bosom. It isn't because we see ourselves that way, but it's hard to feel like it isn't expected of us. The female characters we are given show us we're supposed to be into the main character... you know, so we can be his girlfriend, or his plot device. Then we're shamed for liking Wolverine, Dead Pool, or Hawkeye. It's a no-win situation. But adult women appreciating the abs on a grown man is really a non-issue when you look at how young women are treated.

But I digress. 

Maybe I haven't found my ONE TRUE THING. Maybe it's that I enjoy so many things that it is impossible to focus on the minute details of just one thing. Either way, if the devil is in the details then I'm never going to find him. I have never been able to remember details I don't find particularly of interest or crucial to the story as a whole. I've always been this way and there was always that hyper-fan - usually a man - who put the "fan" in "fanatic" who made me feel bad about it. He knows every line and detail. He uses his knowledge to belittle others for not being as "passionately meticulous".  The weird aggression, intimidation and competitive attitudes I've encountered have always dissuaded me from trying to connect with other fans. I believe that if you love something, you should want to share it, not drive people away. So I've shied away from Fandoms not realizing all the wonderful things that can come with them.

In using Google to learn all that I could, I succeeded in creating such anxiety in myself that I didn't want to go. I was terrified that I would be grilled by a Geeky Gatekeeper type. I was afraid of spending my entire weekend as my boyfriend's silent arm candy. I worried that I would be spend the weekend miserable because I'm not geeky enough for the Geek Con.

I could give you my Geek Credentials, and you'd probably find that I'm lacking. I'm not quite Geeky enough. I'm semi-geeky. I'm quasi-geeky. I'm the margarine of Geek. I'm the Diet Coke of Geeky. Just one calorie, not Geeky enough.

You know what else I am? A little silly. More appropriately, a little silly with a lot of anxiety. 

I had the time of my life.

There are things I wish I would've done differently. I did a few hours of free labor for a group only to find I wasn't on their VIP list as promised when I got there. I wish I would have pushed myself to interact with more people, but I couldn't because of my anxiety. I wish I would've packed more awesome t-shirts. I wish I would've gone to more panels instead of sleeping in. Also, HYDRATION. I wish I would have drank more water. I was burnt out by Saturday when everyone else was just getting there. I drank lots and lots of water, but I think I was feeling so "done" with things by Saturday because I was dehydrated. 

Vomithorse resided over Smoker's Paradise, reminding everyone to drink the damn water. I should have listened better.
But overall it was an amazing experience and I hope I get to go again.

The staff I encountered were all friendly and engaging. Complete strangers spoke to me in lines, in elevators, and even complimented me. I introduced myself to complete strangers (which is totally not something I do at home).  The panels I attended were awesome. I got to see how amazingly artistic and creative people could be. It was unbelievable how friendly and welcoming everyone was. Everyone was just there to have fun, and find other people who enjoyed the same things. People were there just... being. Which is a really hard thing to describe but a really great thing to get to see.

And the Fake Geek Girl thing? I went to panels not having seen or read everything that was being discussed and still enjoyed them. No one cared when I didn't know about something, because they were excited to share with me. When people found out I was a CONVirgin, they were extra welcoming. I didn't feel like a Fake Geek Girl at any point and I realized how ridiculous I was being. Am I a Fake Geek Girl? Maybe. I don't really care anymore. I'm going to keep liking what I like and I'm glad I didn't allow some judgmental strangers on the Internet deter me from meeting people who would introduce me to more amazing things. I'm proud that I went even though I was anxious. I walked away with knowledge, a new perspective, and a list of new things I couldn't wait to check out for myself.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

I Miss Cleaning My House

When I was 24, I was involved in a workplace accident that would change my entire life.

My coworker was improperly operating a motor-powered cart, ran into my back and pinned me to a counter top. At the time, I tried to "walk it off". The pain hurt for weeks. Little did I know, it would never get better.

After a year of physical therapy and evaluations, none of which included a simple x-ray or MRI, I was finally sent to a neurologist. The neurologist demanded an MRI. The MRI showed damage to my spine. Interestingly enough, that's when Workman's Comp decided that I might have been born with back problems and they were no longer going to pay for my treatment.


It's hard for people to understand that I have chronic pain. I hurt every day, but at some point I just got tired of talking about it so I do not complain.  I am usually capable of pushing my body past the limitations in the moment. Not everyone can do that. I can push my body to do things that I shouldn't. The penalty for that is a flare-up of pain that will last weeks, and the inability to do anything the next day. I've adjusted to my new normal. While I am fortunate enough that I can get up and go to work every day, there are things I struggle with every single day.

My house has never been as clean as it was when I was in my early twenties. I used to get on my hands and knees and scrub the floor. I haven't been able to do that since I was injured. Scrubbing the bathroom is the stuff nightmares are made of. I can do it, as long as I accept that I will not be doing ANYTHING the next day and sometimes even the day after that.

I've adjusted when it comes to most things. One thing I haven't made peace with yet? I can't mop my kitchen floor.

It's hard to take pride in the appearance of one's home when you cannot have clean floors.  Maintaining a clean floor at my house means literally begging someone to mop my floor for me, then dutifully cleaning up every single spot, spill, drip, drop and dribble like a maniac because I will not be able to get someone to help me mop it again for another 3-4 months at least.

The depression of not being able to live in a space I feel comfortable in is crushing. At some point, something in me just kind of broke and I developed a very "fuck it" attitude.

Dishes on the counter? Fuck it.

Laundry? Fuck it.

Giant piles of stuff at the end of my bed? You know what to do.

It's really, really hard. I was never like this before and while I've never been a great housekeeper, it didn't take much for me to do the things I wanted or needed to do.  Now, I feel like I can never catch up. My options are to live in it, exhaust and upset myself begging for help, or pay someone I can't afford.

There's a lot of things I wish I could have back. I wish I could do things like ride 4-wheelers again. I wish I had my old waistline back before exercise became torture and I actually was just being lazy. But the thing I want back the most, other than pain free days, is the ability to really clean my house.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


My first comic was Mad Magazine May 1995 Issue 33. My dad bought it for me, but I don't remember what the occasion was or why he chose that particular thing to introduce me to.  I think he probably liked them as a kid.  In hindsight, Mad Magazine was probably not something that should have been given to a 9 year old. I wasn't even old enough to have see some of the movies 'dissed' in that particular issue.   

As kids, we read the comics from the Sunday paper every week.  I don't remember when I quit.  Maybe when I hit high school and took off to college.  I didn't come back to comics until recently. 

It started with a trip to the comic book store to buy something for a game. While waiting for the associate to check the stock I perused the shelves, reading the titles and looking at all the different styles and genres.  I'd never really been to a comic book store and no one had ever really introduced me to comic books.  Archie Comics was a childhood staple for many of my generation, but I honestly can't tell you anything about it.  I don't even know the basic storyline... I mean, what's the deal with Betty and Veronica?  Are they friends? Frenemies?  Lovers?  Interestingly enough, I did have a conversation with Nancy Silberkleit, Co-CEO of Archie Comics once.  I thoroughly enjoying speaking with her, but I felt like a real asshat telling her that I'd never really read an Archie comic.

Comics overwhelmed me. The fact that so many have years of back issues was daunting and intimidating. Reading the old issues felt imperative to really understanded the story.  Somehow, I felt like I would never be able to read the old issues and catch up.  I also wasn't sure there was anything that would really appeal to me as so many of the comics I'd seen up to that point always had a busty, tiny waisted, sexy heroine or damsel.  There always seemed to be a Madonna to be saved, a glowing Heroine with a huge slice of misogyny, or a Whorey protagonist - none of which appealed to me. 

Amidst the traditional comic book characters we all recognize like Spiderman and Wolverine, I saw a headline that read "Snotgirl". 

Snotgirl (Issues) (6 Book Series) by  Bryan O'Malley

That didn't sound traditional. That didn't sound sexy either. I went home that night and purchased a digital copy.  Snotgirl was new and only three issues had been released, so I decided to give it a go.

I didn't realize I was falling down a rabbit hole.  

Since then, I've read at least a dozen other series just trying to discover what I like.  I'm no longer intimidated by a few years of backstory because I've learned I can purchase volumes and read them in a few days. There are so many stories out there and I'm hooked.

It took me 30 years, but I finally fell in love with comics. 

Did you read comics as a kid?  What was your favorite? Do you read comics or graphic novels now?

Thanks for joining in for Sunday Confessions! This week's prompt was: POP. Please Link-Up your Sunday Confessions post and don't forget to check out some of the other great people who linked up this week!

For more information about Sunday Confessions and how to confess, visit More Than Cheese and Beer

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Can Life Be Too Sweet?

Mercury Retrograde, a New Moon and a Solar Eclipse has things a little crazy this month and everyone seems to be feeling it.  Things have just been kind of wonky for the last month and it seems like everyone is struggling with it a little bit.  Everything has just kind of been... well, bullshitty.

At times like this when there seems to be a lot of small bad things happening in large numbers, sometimes it helps me to think about bigger problems, worse days and larger obstacles that I've overcome. The truth is, with all of the nitty gritty everyday problems that are happening in large numbers my general state of being is actually pretty good.

My house is a mess.  I'm having car problems.  Relationship status: Strained is an understatement.  Money is tight and I'm late paying rent.  I'm overweight and could be healthier.  I've been struggling with my mental health lately.  All of these things aren't great, but they're not the worst case scenario.  I have a house with enough stuff to be messy.  My car problems can be fixed and I don't have to worry about a car payment and money for repairs.  Relationship status: once you've been in an abusive relationship and escaped, normal relationship problems feel like small potatoes.  Money is tight, but I'm learning how to supplement my income, identify excess and I have money to pay the rent I just need to write the check.  I might be overweight and generally unhealthy, but I'm not having any major health problems that require medical attention.  I'm depressed, but I'm getting up every day and I'm not in a place where I have to deal with therapy bills.

I can't help but think about people I've met who don't know what it's like to be handed lemons though.

I once had a co-worker who seemed to have the most charmed life.  Bad things happened, but it was always small things.  She seemed blissfully unaware of the dangers that some people face regularly.  Things like drug addiction, sexual assault, serious mental illness and the way people sometimes just use/hurt/abuse other people were all really kind of beyond her.  While she was fortunate that those things didn't happen to her or people around her, it also left her incredibly kind of ignorant.  Maybe what they say is true and ignorance is bliss.

Sometimes, I feel like perhaps I'm too aware of the ugly things in life.  Some of the ugly things have just happened to me or people I've known.  Sometimes, I've gone looking for knowledge in dark places.  Sometimes I'm envious of the people who are blissfully unaware.

But then there are times like these when life seems to be handing people lemons and I know that I'm doing ok because I've been handed lemons before.  There are times when I wonder what it might be like to only know the taste of the sweetest lemonade, but then I remember that while I've always been a fan of candy and sweets, I've always liked my lemonade with a little bit of punch.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Comfort Food for the Soul

Remember when Chicken Soup For The Soul first came out?  It started with one book, then there were more books for the soul.  Then there were books for the Teenage soul and the Preteen soul.  Eventually, there was even a Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul.  It then turned into self help books.

It seems it is almost impossible to find the true source of a quote on the Internet anymore, but I once saw a meme that said something along the lines of:

You are the books you read, the movies you watch, the music you listen to, the people you spend time with, and the conversations you engage in.  Choose wisely what you feed your mind. 

Sometimes, I forget how important it is to make sure I am feeding myself the right things.  Denial is a powerful thing.   Sometimes, I think I can't be sidelined by consuming a few things that are bad for me.  A naughty treat here and there can't be so bad, right?  Until it is.  Sometimes, I don't always realize that I'm unwell and that I've been feeding myself the wrong things until I'm sick.

I think more of us are sick than we realize.  There's been speculation and studies about food and chemicals, but we don't just consume food. Every single day we consume news, media, and conversation that is poisonous to our bodies or our psyche.  There's so much in our everyday lives that isn't beautiful, serves no purpose and doesn't bring us joy.  What, then, do those things do for us?

More importantly, how do those things impact those of us who are already struggling with illness?

I try to talk openly about struggling with chronic pain and my struggles with mental illness.  I do it because I think it's important not only for me, but for other people.  Whether it's about removing some of the stigma by just having the conversations or by openly discussing my struggles so that maybe someone else will read it and see that they're not alone.

Right now, I need some chicken soup for my soul.  I need conversational comfort food. I need mood lifting music.  I need to be with the people who remind me not only who I am but inspire me to be the best version of myself.  Sometimes, you have to shut out the word and selectively filter what comes it.

What good things do you feed yourself when you're feeling sick?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Feats & Fails

Happy Friday!!! 

Welcome to Friday Feats and Fails!  You can find "The Rules" of how to participate down below! 


- I'm broke.  It's a fail every week when I pay my bills that I need to pay (rent, phone, etc), but then have literally nothing to live on for the next two weeks.  Juggling bills is exhausting and while some of the problems I'm having a due to failing to budget better earlier in the year, at the same time... it's hard to budget at all when you're living paycheck to paycheck. I work a full-time job. I have a part-time/on-call/as needed job, but they haven't needed me in awhile. I try to help my sister with her kids when she works on weekends - I don't get paid for this, but it's important to note because it's a part of my very tight schedule.  I literally do not have the time or energy to get a second job.  I am doing little things to earn a little extra when I can - online worker tasks, paid surveys, etc. I am using rebate apps and coupons.  I'm trying to embrace minimalism. I'm doing everything I can and just not feeling like I get any relief from financial stress.

- Two weeks ago when I said I thought I had Plantar Faciitis. It still hurts. I'm starting to think it's something more.

- I'm having relationship problems. Serious relationships problems. I know that some people wouldn't share that and maybe I shouldn't either, but I'm not going to hide it. Sometimes, shitty things happen. Shitty things are happening in my life right now.  I'd love to have the love and support of my significant other, but it seems that we're not good at loving and supporting each other right now. I saw we're not good at it because I'm sure he'd say the exact same thing about me right now.

- I haven't been eating low carb, high fat, moderate protein all week.

- My car is acting up again. 

- My job was a nightmare this week.  A complete and utter nightmare.

-  My house is a mess.  My regular chronic pain coupled with whatever is going on in my foot has made standing and moving really difficult. 

- I made it three days before abandoning The Minimalist Challenge I was trying to do.

- I haven't managed to finish a blog in a long time and I'm upset about it.


+ I survived the week.

+ Other people might think I'm fucked up and awful, but my family still loves me.

+ I got a little time to pamper myself and was able to soak my feet and do a Baby Foot Peel last week.  This week, it's peeling and it's much better than last time.

+ The upside to the fact that I'm broke, with a messy house I don't have the energy or motivation to clean, a nightmare week, and personal conflicts causing emotional distress is that I am creatively on fire.  Everything going on in my life this week is like, The Tortured Artist Emotional and Mental Disturbance Starter Pack and I have so many ideas right now.

The "Rules"

Write a blog post with the Feats and the Fails from your week, or comment them below

Feats: something you did, accomplished, conquered or triumphed over or something that made you want to brag or celebrate.  It can be as simple or complex as you want.

Fails: something you said or did that wasn't so awesome, something that happened that wasn't so great, a low point in the week, or just something you wish had gone better...share, commiserate, and then LET IT GO because it is Friday for goodness' sake!

Follow your host(s)

Grab a button
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Check out the other people who linked up, congratulate them, commiserate with them, and giggle with them!

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Sunday, August 6, 2017


When I was in High School, we did a unit learning the difference between Subjective versus Objective specifically relating to headlines and new reports, sex in advertising, and bias in media.

I struggle to watch any kind of news report now.

The first thing I stopped watching was Good Morning America.  Even know, listening to the things they say to try and keep viewers watching after commercials grates on my nerves.  Then things like 20/20.  While I'm all for reporting on things that impact our world, it seemed that every hour of these shows included a story about a hidden danger lurking in our everyday lives.  What bothers me is the fact that these dangers lurked before, but no one reads the warning labels and somehow it is a revelation when some reporter adds dramatic music and a photo of the fine print with a shadowy vignette.  Or worse, when the report is on a "danger" that people would have realized had they applied even the tiniest amount of thought to it.  Say, for example, Nutella isn't actually healthy for you.  Anyone who has ever tasted it should have been able to tell you that without reading the label.

An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Feats & Fails

Happy Friday!!! 

Welcome to Friday Feats and Fails!  You can find "The Rules" of how to participate down below! 


- I haven't driven my car in a week. I was having problems starting it and then one day it just wouldn't. I then proceeded to not do anything at all because I'm broke. There's no sense calling someone to come take a look at your car if you can't pay them. Long story short, my boyfriend showed up, bought things to check out my car, opened the hood to find.... the negative terminal was loose. How loose?  Refer to image below. It's also really dirty.  That being said, there could be other things going on but I'm hoping it's really just this.

- I'm still broke.

- Remember last week when I said I thought I had Plantar Faciitis. It still hurts. 

- I am constantly on the lookout for new things to try to make life easier for myself as someone with chronic pain and a household to manage, not to mention I'm always looking at new forms of pain relief.  That being said, I really, really hate it when I purchase things and they don't work out. 

- I haven't done laundry all week.

- I haven't been eating low carb, high fat, moderate protein all week. 

- I ordered some plants for my aquarium.  They arrived looking half dead and the fish don't like them. 


+ My car has been running since my boyfriend fixed the negative terminal connection so... yay for that!

+ I managed to finish a book and start another one this week, which is great because that's two weeks in a row. Check out my "What I'm Reading" page.

+ I survived a family dinner and I wasn't drunk. 

+ I got to eat at my favorite places this week. 

+ I got a little time to pamper myself and was able to soak my feet and do a Baby Foot Peel.  Last time, it took about four days to start peeling.  I am documenting it this week and hopefully will follow up with a blog post soon. 

+ I recently watched a documentary about The Minimalists.  I started following them on Facebook last week and they're doing a 30 Day Challenge.  You get rid of one thing the first day, two the second day, three the third day and so on. Anything can go. Donate, sell or trash but it has to be out of your house by midnight.  I'm doing great. So far. I'm taking photos and sharing on Instagram @MoreCheeseBeer

+ I managed to finished the month strong with Ibotta earning back $25 in rebates.  I've been a member since March 2016 and I've finally earned back over $100.  I'm super excited about it.  I'm trying to do better when it comes to little things I can do not only to save money, but to earn a little extra.  If you're not already an Ibotta member, you can join my team here:    Using my code will get you an extra $10 when you start redeeming codes.  It also gets me a $5 bonus, which you can also get when you invite YOUR friends. 

The "Rules"

Write a blog post with the Feats and the Fails from your week, or comment them below

Feats: something you did, accomplished, conquered or triumphed over or something that made you want to brag or celebrate.  It can be as simple or complex as you want.

Fails: something you said or did that wasn't so awesome, something that happened that wasn't so great, a low point in the week, or just something you wish had gone better...share, commiserate, and then LET IT GO because it is Friday for goodness' sake!

Follow your host(s)

Grab a button
(Copy the code below and paste into the HTML portion of your post where you want it to show up)

Check out the other people who linked up, congratulate them, commiserate with them, and giggle with them!

More Than Cheese and Beer
<a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="MoreThanCheeseandBeer" width="125" height="125" /></a>