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Friday, October 26, 2012

I am so full of angst!

With my jewelry inventory bursting, my Etsy store practically dying, and my need to make room/money, I looked up some boutiques that I could sell my things to.  Many of the shops in my neighborhood shut down because of poor sales during the recession.  Of course, a lot of these small boutiques were where I would sell off my jewelry items after a big convention.  I had a big problem.  So I had to search for new places to hawk my wares.

I did what any intrepid Gen Yer would do.  I turned to the power of the internet!  I found a place called Buffalo Exchange.  It wasn't too far, just a train ride away in Wicker Park on the north side of Chicago.  There were tons of positive reviews about the place too, so I felt it could be trusted.  I packed up my things and headed down there Monday, October 22nd.

 I'd called the boutique earlier to get a feel for what they'd be up for buying- to save myself and my back the trouble of dragging suitcases of crap there.  The sweet young lady on the phone stated that they would buy old clothes, Halloween costumes, jewelry- pretty much everything- store bought or hand made.  Good.  She stated that I would get 35% pay out in cash OR 50% payout in store credit.  Sounds fair.  That's how the merchandise things in big retailers.  I was pretty confident that I'd come away with at least $200-$300 if the boutique was as great as people were saying it was online.    I lugged my stuff down to Wicker Park.

Image Cred: Broke and

Now, I'm a smart girl.  I know the signs of a struggling boutique that won't give me much pay out.  There won't be a lot of people inside, the racks will have tons of 'on sale' or '30% off' on prominent display and there may even be a side show clown spinning a sign outside the shop to lure buyers in.  There was none of this at Buffalo Exchange, so I walked in with confidence.

I wish I hadn't. 

It took them a long time to look through all of my stuff.  A very long time.  I brought a lot of stuff, you know.  I brought old clothes I couldn't fit, Halloween costumes I was...bursting out of, and a few accessories that I just didn't like any more.  Only the good stuff, though.  Bringing bad stuff is just bad business.  In the end, I came away with about $150 expected cash payout OR a $225 store credit.  WHAT?!
I was flabbergasted and I asked the nice ladies if the jewelry I'd brought wasn't trendy enough to make the cut because I saw that they'd heaped up a lot of clothes and hadn't finished going through the jewelry yet.  That wasn't the case at all.  They loved the jewelry- just about all of it, in fact.  They loved the details, every little thing about it.

The issue was their pricing model.  They were pricing things that I would sell for at least $60 at a potential retail value of about $30. That's just a little over cost of materials and doesn't even pay for the hours I put into each piece.  It felt like someone was offering me $100 bucks for my left kidney.  Granted, I don't need the kidney to live, but do you realize that this thing is worth 200 times what you're offering me?
F*ck that noise.  I bargained with the ladies of Buffalo Exchange and they were surprisingly amicable about the whole thing.  No one got nasty and they understood the situation.  They even went back into the system and recalculated the items' worth.  In the end, after examination of what they wanted for their store and what I wanted for my work, I came out a little bit above cost of goods sold.  That is, for those of you who didn't have to take accounting and finance classes, BREAKING EVEN.

In the end, I came out with about $70 in store credit and $150 in cash.  It doesn't sound like a big difference, but in total, that's right in the modest $200-$300 payout range I was initially going for.  I would have liked to be paid out MORE, but well, I broke even on my costs and labor and I got a few jazzy clothing items to boot. 

Now, I have to get myself ready for another week packed with job interviews.  Catch ya later.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

You Should Be Watching: RuPaul's Drag Race

There's a lot of stigma about drag queens and crossdressers in general.  The majority of the attention is negative.  People spend time fixating on the sexuality and sexual identity of the cross-dresser instead of taking professional cross-dressing as the artform it is.  And it is an artform.

Before 2009, I had no real experience with professional cross-dressing, or Drag.  Sure, I'd watched Too Won Foo, cosplayed as a feminized version of a male animal character and seen the odd older gentleman dressed as a woman on the train, BUT, I knew nothing of REAL Drag.  One summer day, I happened to be watching a hilarious comedy on the LOGO channel and saw an ad for RuPaul's Drag Race.  I was completely mesmerized by the bronze, golden haired beauty telling me to tune in for reruns of the first season.
I saaaaid, tune in.
Curious, I did.  AND I was not disappointed.  Now, as I've said before, loads of people get hung up on the fact that Drag is men dressing up as women.  But what I got hung up on was the amazing amount of work, prep and artistry it took to turn this:
into this:

My first thought wasn't "Ew!  That man is wearing a dress!"  It was "Oh wow!  I want to be that pretty too!  And I want to sew my own high fashion clothes!  And I want to be fearless and FIERCE!"  And how can you not when you're seeing guys transform themselves into elegant, out-of the box 'women' in the span of an hour?

Just like on project runway and face-off, the contestants have to complete challenges involving strange goals.  One episode they had to make garments by incorporating real, off the vine fruit, as accessories.  Another required them to create a look inspired by the apocalypse.  And in yet another, they had to transform straight guys into drag queens!  And don't get me started on the spin-off series RuPaul's Drag U, where they take ordinary women and make them into extraordinary divas, boost their self-esteem and leave them with a new outlook on life.

From these feats and the mind-blowing results, I get inspiration for everything from the hair, makeup, clothes and jewelry.  A show about drag queens taught me about plucking and thickening my eyebrows, applying make-up and how to make my waistline look slimmer using nothing but contrasting colors.  Each episode has the added bonus of campy jokes and random silliness too.
You never know when you'll see this.

One thing that has upset me about more recent seasons of the show is how catty the Drag Queens have become.  Technically, RuPaul's Drag Race is a reality TV show, but the first two seasons were pretty classy.  If someone had a disagreement, they took a break and then came back and worked it out like adults.  The second and third seasons featured drag queens outright insulting each other's art and being downright nasty.

If you can stomach the shouting matches, put aside your prejudices and just tune in for one or two episodes, I'm sure you can find a lot of inspiration as well.  If you're trying to get creative and find motivation, you should be watching RuPaul's Drag Race.  The Allstars season starts next Monday!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Babies: The Invasion of Cute

I've noticed something odd and I'm sure that you have too.  Recently, there's been a great rise in the appearance of miniature humans.  Every day you can see them.  You don't even have to go out of your house.  Just peek out the window for a while and you'll see a caravan of pastel colored frippery, being pushed down the sidewalk by a tired, but happy adult as they march to the tune of squeaky toys, jangling sounds and the clicking hiss of rattles.
I'm talking about babies.   Toddlers.  Rosy-cheeked little ambassadors of high-pitched squeals and huge, toothless grins.  Tiny, little humans.  They are everywhere. They're infiltrating the nuances of daily life!  For a while, it was common to see a few strollers while you were out.  On public transportation you could count on seeing at least one baby,  but all of a sudden, whenever I find myself on CTA, I see no less than 3-5 infants in strollers, snuggle carriers or car seats.
When I look out my window, I see parades of nannies, Mommies, and sometimes Daddies all walking along with their caravan of babies.
Just like that.

When riding on the expressway, every other car has a baby or evidence of a baby in its back seat, advertised with glaring pastel banners, baby Winnie the Poohs and stuffed teething rings.  They're everywhere!  It's like a never-ending Parade!

I like to think about why things are the way they are, so of course I thought about this.  What changed in the last few years?  I mean, we're still in a recession, folks shouldn't be having babies.  Then, it dawned on me.  I'm in my mid-twenties.  Most people are planning the arrival of or have recently brought forth their first or second child.  I'm also part of one of the largest generations there is.  Generation Y.  The Echo Boomers.  The Millenials.  The Peter Pan Generation.  95 MILLION PEOPLE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 19 AND 34!  Prime baby-making age.

Well, that was easy to figure out.  But, you'd think that with about 20% of us still unemployed, most of us working a series of temp and part-time jobs because of budget cuts, and our extended stay with our parents we wouldn't be able to care for children.  But some of us are having babies.    It may look like lots of us are doing it, but I'm pretty sure if you play the numbers game, the rates are low in comparison with the rates of previous generations.  There's just so many more of us that it looks like a lot.

Babies.  They're the future of our nation.  It's important to make sure they have a good start in their lives so they can grow up to be the game-changers we need them to be.  Recently, a cousin and a couple friends of mine announced that they are expecting adorable little girls.  I'm excited.  Especially since my realistic assessment of my life has led me to the conclusion that I'll be baby free for a while now.
I  must live VICARIOUSLY.  That's why I'm going to start making a bunch of baby-themed stuff!  My babies (read: babies belonging to people I know) will have hand-made blankets, dolls, and butt covers- because I love them and because I'm living vicariously.  Whatever.  They get to feel special and loved.  The parents don't have to pay a ton of cash for unique baby items and I get to exercise my creativity and create spoiled monsters.

That's right, little diva.

Everyone wins.  Yaaaay! 

Now let me get busy.  

Google Search:  Poor Mojo's News Gallery, B*tch media, Mommyish

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Need a pick me up? Have heart to heart with your strict mom.

Yesterday, mom and I got off to a strange start, with her asking me to make sure I scrubbed the pan from the baked chicken breasts I'd made to put over salads (I should probably post that recipe.)  Of course, at the time, I was in my room on the phone with an admissions counselor for a university offering courses that would lead me to a job, certifications, and licenses to mentor, teach, and tutor special ed students as a real job.  I couldn't answer her question about that stupid pan!

Of course, she came to my door with that patented expression of maternal annoyance and, 'you'd better not be ignoring me!'  I pantomimed that I was on the phone and this sparked a whole conversation in silent, expressive gesturing, silly faces and random pointing to objects.  She went back to her laptop to mind the queue for work, granting me enough time to finish with the adviser.

When I exited my room to clean that pan, I wasn't the happiest camper.  College is expensive.  Universities are expensive.  Graduate degrees, even when you're taking all your coursework online, are even more expensive than the four years you spend in a university getting your bachelor's degree.  Even with the scholarships I was eligible for, I still wouldn't be able to afford school without incurring EVEN more student loan debt and I also wouldn't have the cushion of a part-time job helping with my expenses. 

Naturally, my mother's mom sense was tingling!  She asked me what was wrong and I started weeping all over the place.  "Stop that crying!"  She said.  I was too busy being upset with all my short-comings and unemployed status to actually think about what she was really saying. Since we've reached this point where we can seriously talk to each other, she explained herself.

School is expensive- you know that.
Jobs are hard to come by- you know that too.
That job you had wasn't a good fit for you- You were always uncertain of your performance what you were being asked to do.  You recognized that.
It doesn't mean that you're broken or that there is nothing out there for you.
It doesn't mean that you can't find a good or a better job now that it's over.
It just means, you have more time to analyze yourself, to grow into a better and stronger person, and to expand on your strengths.
Don't worry about things.  Stop being sad.  It hurts me when you're sad.

This whole little speech/laundry list of how I should be conducting myself was both uplifting and made me feel a little guilty.  While I was being sad and making ugly faces, I was troubling my mom AND preventing myself from recognizing what's actually good for me.  Jobs are a means to an end, that end being, self-actualization, financial security and overall happiness.
If it is not creating one or more of those ends, it's not worth what you put in.  If it marginalizes your existence, your loves, and your self-esteem, it is completely worthless.  Sobbing over it is also worthless.  Dwelling on what might have been and what you could have done and why you weren't able to be Office Jesus will block out the room you need to seize your real blessings.  Thanks mom.  You're the queen.

I gotta remember this next time I get a application rejection letter. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Um Hiatus break... Right.

I suppose I lied when I said I'd stopped being on hiatus.  Bad Ren!  Bad! 
There's a good reason!  I swear!

First, I was looking for job.  Then, I had a job, a contractual job through the Department of Human Services.  Then I had THREE jobs: Macy's, private tutoring, and working as a contractual worker for DHS.   Then I exchanged TWO of those jobs for ONE job that was immensely more complicated than initially described.  And THEN, my contract with DHS expired and I was down to one job, that was becoming depressingly more complicated and frightening.

I was considering resigning as the work load of the One job shifted to financial filing and reports to grant officers in addition to administrative assistant duties.  I am not a finance major.  I can work with simple to intermediate spreadsheets, but if you give me the year end report and say "Make it happen." without instructions, I fair about as well as a paralyzed fish stranded on land.  Which is to say: Not good.  Not good at all.

I got away from my crafting as I began slipping into a nasty funk while trying to study up on what they wanted me to do.  To be honest, I really wanted it to work.  I consulted everything from real people via yahoo answers, finance and accounting blogs, self-help websites like Livestrong, and the company's parent organization's regulations for these new assignments.  Sadly, reading up on this stuff at home didn't help me much. 
The work I was given was like a hieroglyphic puzzle that I needed to solve so I could get out of a sand pit full of angry snakes.  Oh and, I'd apparently left my handy-dandy hieroglyph translator on CTA and had no hope of getting it back, ever.  WHOOPS! 

Now, I have no job and I'm dealing with the feeling that I'll never be good enough at any thing to actually make a living and be a real live grown up.  Oh and I worry about how I'll pay my student loan debt and other things...and this stupid computer. 

I spent a week being physically ill over all of this.  I'm fairly certain that I lost 15 pounds while my breakfast, lunch and dinner were making forcible resurgences.  I'm also sure that my self-esteem (Darn it, it was already pretty low!) will never been the same again.  But as much as I can villainize and victimize myself, I can also see there's no point in dwelling on it now.

Here's to biting off more than you can chew and getting your butt handed to you!  Stick to what you're good at, what you love, and what you aren't terrified of. 

Me?  I love people.  I love crafting.  I love making people feel like they can be winners and helping them achieve their goals.  I'm going to get my certification to be a special ed aide and tutor...and then I'm going to get my Masters in Education.

Just might take me a while.  I gotta figure out where I can get 30,000 dollars...without incurring more student loan debt.  *sigh*