Freelancing for Dummies: When first world jobs collide with real workplace problems

Well, well, well, what do we have here? It appears we have a couple of “influencers” who’ve experienced a real world dilemma, bursting their dream job fantasy. Welcome to my world, it’s a bit of a pisser.

The other day while scrolling through Buzzfeed during a busy day of work, I came across a story on influencers not being paid by an influencer marketing agency (Christ, man) called Mediakix. My first thought was “that’s because it’s not a real job”. My next thought was “sucks to be them because this could potentially turn into a thing.”

If you’ve been following me you know how I feel about influencers: I don’t consider “influencing” – the act of getting people to follow you and do things you do or like because you appear cool but didn’t we get past this in high school I swear to god we never leave high school – to be an actual job. I don’t see what the appeal is over someone who’s only talent is posting different versions of the same photo with stupid captions.

HOWEVER, as stupid as I think it is they also get a tiny bit of acknowledgement that it is something and here’s why: there are plenty of gigs that started out as something that at one point probably didn’t make sense. If you go back to the beginning of typicaljenn.com, you’ll find posts where I’m ripping into social media marketers. I believe I referred to them as people who are really just unemployed, sitting on their couch playing that farm game on Facebook. Jump to about 6 years later and it’s part of what I do for a living (social media marketing not building a pretend farm).

I’m not above eating my words, I actually enjoy eating thank you very much.

Anyway, as fairytale as their job is, what’s not is their money problems and the fact that this isn’t anything new. Just like every meme on the internet, this bit has been done before. And unfortunately, I’ve witnessed it firsthand.

Back in the early 2000s, I was preparing to move and part of that process involved job hunting. I was moving to a bigger city than my hometown so instead of looking for a boring desk job, I sent my resume to a bunch of local talent agencies – and one actually called me back.

I interviewed for the receptionist position, got hired, and started my new, exciting, sure-to-make-me-famous job a week after moving. My first day began with me meeting the 3 people who worked in the office and being given my first important rule of the job: never let anyone talk to the bookkeeper.

For everyone out there, this is a red flag for ANY job you’re starting. But I was 20 at the time so I was like “ok cool”. I just figured she was busy doing number things. She was and those number things happened to be helping the owner of the agency embezzle from herself.

About a month after I started this job the bookkeeper quit without notice. I don’t know how long she’d been there but red flag number 2 is when the person handling the finances abruptly leaves. That left the owner to handle the books and that’s when things got really bad.

I would get, at minimum, 3 calls a day from talent asking where their money was, and this was after they’d waited standard 8 weeks for payment. I knew we’d gotten the money in but the owner was using it to pay her bills. And it’s not like we had talent booking feature films. They were booking, like, local modeling gigs and Church’s Chicken commercials. We weren’t making that influencer money.

At one point I had a woman tell me that our agency owed her over $10K. TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. I know that’s chump change to some of the popular Insta-people but back then (shit, even now at least for me) 10 grand was a lot. And that was just ONE of the individuals we represented.

Every week the owner tried to get caught up but it wasn’t happening. On top of that, overhead was insanely high. I understood we needed to have some sort of presentation but I thought what effected our reputation the most was, you know, stealing from people.

We did have alternative ways of bringing in money but they weren’t anymore credible than the way the money was handled. The owner would convince people that they could be a model if they got head shots and took her modeling class, which people actually paid for.

I know we’re all about not body shaming but I’m telling you right now, you ain’t walking the Victoria’s Secret runway if you’re built like me (5’3″, thick legs from CrossFit, looks like a baby deer walking for the first time in heels – me and the deer). Watching the owner tell every person who came in our office they had a shot was disheartening at best, fucking criminal at worst.

To me, it’s no different than the assholes selling you on the MLM of the week, convincing you that you can actually make a decent living selling their shit online. You can’t. No, you can’t. End of discussion.

Anyway, in the article Buzzfeed reached out for comment and were told that Mediakix would no longer take contracts until the money was sorted out. I’m not sure how that would work for them. At the agency I was at, we constantly had to have money coming in to try and compensate everyone we owed. So if things are that bad off at Mediakix, I don’t know how you catch up not bringing anything in.

Again, I don’t know shit about this company or what got them into this conundrum so I’m not in a position to say if these influencers will get their money or not. I don’t work there, thank god because I looked at their website and it reminds me of the advertising agency I worked at where I once got in trouble for having a meeting in the “game room” because it prohibited 2 employees from playing ping pong. All I know is I’ve seen this before and it’s pretty shit cycle for everyone involved.

I myself have, on more than one occasion, been stiffed and it was a bag of bullshit. It even happened to me when I worked a for real job that required a W4. What I didn’t have that influencers do is a large platform with a huge following (for reasons I’ll never get – there’s no delineation between influencer accounts, they all look the same, people!).

So speak up. Put that shit out there. This goes for anyone who has a job, real or pretend. If you made an agreement and somebody owes you money, don’t let them skate on you. It is not your problem that they are bad with money management. It’s no different than promising someone work and not being able to do it because you couldn’t manage your time (something I’m also guilty of but that’s for another day). You’d be held accountable, right?

They should be held accountable too.

So go on. Use your social media power. You know, the same way you do when you convince people to buy that face serum that doesn’t work or when you make people think your life is glamorous because you posted a pic on a PJ but you actually just rented the PJ for an hour to take pics on. Like that. Go get ’em!

Watch This, Not That: His House vs. Things Heard and Seen

For the most part, the people in horror movies don’t have it so bad, with the exception of whatever’s trying to kill them. Whether they’re being chased by zombies, serial killers, or whatever demonic spirit they’ve let inhabit a doll, their story usually starts off in a nice house with a nice family and everyone including the toddlers have high-paying jobs. (No wonder the rest of the world hates us). So when Netflix released His House, a horror/drama hybrid, I was pleasantly surprised, and impressed.

His House tells the story of a couple seeking refuge after fleeing their native country: the war-torn South Sudan. They survive the horrendous ordeal and arrive in Britain, eventually receiving housing on the outskirts of London. But it’s not just a regular family home like all of the houses in Insidious. It’s a run down apartment that looks like it’s haunted by the last meth head that lived in it.

Meth head ghosts are the least of their concerns, though. Demons are what they’re fighting, and not just to save themselves but to save what they sacrificed everything for. What kind of demons are they? Who wins? You’ll have to watch this week’s Watch This to find out. Netflix’s His House will mess with your head, which I think we all can agree is the best when it comes to horror.

What isn’t the best is when you have a horror movie figured out in the first 10 minutes and then you have nothing to do for the remainder of the 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours. This week’s Not That was stretched 110 minutes too long and I sat through all of them. Netflix’s Things Heard and Seen features Amanda Seyfried who plays Catherine, a wife who’s given up her life to support the ambitions of her douche husband.

Right off the bat, we’re given insight that there’s something wrong in their marriage: Catherine has an eating disorder. That revelation is immediately followed by another one: Catherine’s husband George (James Norton) has a wandering eye.

Pretty soon, haunted things start happening. A rocking chair moves on its own. Their daughter sees a ghost lady. Catherine smells gas fumes. All of this freaks Catherine out, but then her husband’s colleague explains that it’s NBD, just a woman ghost who’s got her back. Empowered by her supernatural backup, she starts to make her way out of her shitty marriage. During the time she’s getting her groove back, she discovers that her husband is a liar, stole his cousin’s identity, is a cheater, and then also he commits a bunch of murder.

But, surprise!, the ghost men of the house are shit too. Just as Catherine learns everything that’s bad about George and is about to make her move, George drugs her. And, surprise again!, the lady ghost (whose real/ghost name is Ella) can’t help her because of her dick ex-husband ghost. So George kills Catherine. Then he gets away with it because he’s a man. But then he rides off into the ocean and gets killed by the devil? I’m not sure. It doesn’t matter.

What does matter is I sat on my couch rolling my eyes for 2 hours proving that good horror movies are hard to come by, disproving that your eyes will get stuck that way. If you want to try it for yourself then watch Things Heard and Seen. Not responsible for loss of vision or interest.

Photo by screenrant.com

Adventures in Senior-Sitting: When Spring Break Goes Bad

I’m not sure what traumatized me into never wanting kids. Maybe it was realizing that kids equaled zero fun time. Or, that you had to be responsible for them forever. Or maybe it was something my grandma said: “your kids will be 3 times as bad as you.” No thanks. I was a nightmare, so bad that I didn’t even start liking myself until I was 30. I don’t need “younger me” amplified. So I opted out of having kids. Karma, however, found me and opted me in like every e-newsletter I never signed up for.

As most of you know, I inherited a teenager in the form of my 66-year-old father-in-law and it’s been a real barrel of laughs. One after school special after the next.

About a month ago, my FIL was sick but like most kids that have plans for spring break, he wasn’t about to suffer from FOMO. So off he went to Daytona Bike Week, coughing and wheezing his way there. Upon settling in his camp spot, he realized that, uh oh, the cable box in his motorhome wasn’t working. You see, the cable company didn’t shut off his box in his RV when he cancelled his subscription prior to moving in with us. They ended up fixing the glitch and it worked itself out on day 1 of his vacation.

Well, you know kids and their screens. He was so desperate for television he tried to get a box added to MY account (which I actually consider payback for the time I added my own land line to my parents account without permission). When the cable company declined, he called my husband and asked him to MAIL HIM THE BOX FROM HIS BEDROOM. We did not.

He managed to survive his lack of Matlock reruns however, when he arrived home there was something else that he was suffering from.

Yes. He came home with the VID.

And so began the great sickness of 2021. He was coughing non-stop and had zero energy, but he was pushing through. Now, if you asked every friend that he miraculously found the energy to call while he was being quarantined, he was on his death bed. Each night was sure to be his last. He couldn’t lift his head without going comatose from exhaustion. He could only breathe once an hour.

And eating? Forget it. If it wasn’t KFC he couldn’t keep it down, which I don’t remember reading on the CDC website so I suppose they’re due for an update. At one point I had my husband ask him if he needed anything from the grocery store. Grapes and orange juice was his request. Did my husband ask my FIL or my 3-year-old niece because that’s totally something she’d want as a snack.

A week into his illness, things took a turn in a matter of 2 phone calls. That morning my husband checked in on him and informed me my FIL was feeling a little better. Less than an hour later, my husband received a call from one of his dad’s friends. Apparently, he was about to die and another friend was on the way to our house to take him to the hospital, which didn’t make sense to me because I work from home so why wouldn’t he ask me?

So I call my FIL to find out what the deal is and was pretty surprised by how terrible he sounded. What also surprised me was that he actually did not have a friend coming to take him to the hospital. He ended up asking me if I would take him but I suggested calling an ambulance which he agreed to.

A few minutes later I could hear sirens so I went outside to flag them down. Outside I could no longer hear the sirens but I could hear something else: “I guess they missed our house, hee hee.” I turned around and there stood my FIL, giggling. “What the fuck are you doing out here?!” I yelled. I’ve just told 911 that my FIL is on the outs and here he is practically dancing in his driveway.

I. Was. Mortified.

As soon as the paramedics got out of the ambulance I began telling them MY side of the story: he tricked me. They check him out and nothing. Nothing is wrong with him. Are you sure? I asked them. There’s nothing in that ambulance that you can shove down his throat?

No.

The paramedics loaded back into the ambulance and by the time I turned around to ask my FIL “what the fuck was that?!” he was already back inside. That was the last I heard from him for about a week. I didn’t check on him because I didn’t have to. Our neighbor kept me in the know. She also informed me that, according to my FIL, he in fact was dying that day and had the paramedics not given him oxygen for the 3 minutes that they did, it would’ve been over.

This story of almost seeing the light has made its rounds and every time I hear it he was nearer and nearer death. Not long after standing at the pearly gates, he recovered.

BTW, it isn’t lost on me that I once put my mom through a similar situation. When I was in 6th grade I experienced a level of embarrassment I’d never felt before after I tripped over a pipe in front of about 30 kids (out of a class of almost 500). 30 may as well have been everyone. I couldn’t take it. So I faked being sick for about a week and a half before my mom finally took me to the doctor where I was outed as a fraud and had to go back to school.

The moral of the story is I was terrible well into my 20s and my comparisons to my FIL are only up to 11-year-old me so I’ve got a lot more of this shit to go.

Watch This, Not That: Documentaries

I kind of remember when reality TV was invented. For me, it was invented when Season 8 of MTVs The Real World debuted. Th at’s when I started watching it and I remember thinking it was the exact opposite of the real world. It’s been all downhill from there. A few years ago I had a gig writing comedic recaps on reality shows such as Vanderpump Rules and The Real Housewives of Dallas. That was it for me and have since given up on reality TV (except for My 600lb Life). It’s all documentaries for me and readers, have I got some watch this and not that’s for you.

My first recommendation is YouTube’s The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story. In the 90s, most teenage girls were either Team Backstreet Boys or Team N’sync, and if you were Team 98 Degrees you were no friend of mine. Anyway, did you know Lou Pearlman is the reason you had to pick a side? Did you also know that he was a complete fraud who scammed several elderly people out of their life savings with the help of U.S. Representative Charlie Crist? Well, it’s true. Brought to us by Lance Bass’s production company, The Boy Band Con is such a good telling of the boy band craze, the man behind it, and how he deceived so many while simultaneously making music history.

Speaking of the 90s, my next suggestion is all about nostalgia. Before there was Netflix and Chill, there was Be Kind, Rewind. In those days, when you wanted to watch a movie at home you had to physically leave your house and drive (or ride with your parents) to the local video store. For most of us, that video store was Blockbuster. Aahh, Blockbuster. The smell of the weekend. My next watch this is Netflix’s The Last Blockbuster.

I loved this documentary. It tells the story of how Blockbuster came to be, why it was the greatest, what happened to it, and how the very last one is hanging in there. For anyone who wants to reminisce or would like to know more about their botched Netflix deal, I highly suggest The Last Blockbuster.

Here’s something you don’t need to know about: Paris Hilton. Since I’d scored big with that boy band documentary, I let YouTube’s autoplay guide me and next up was This Is Paris, a documentary on Paris. Good god. Sure, her voice finally caught up with her age, but that’s about the only thing that’s tolerable. Other than that the entire documentary is pretty insufferable.

If you watch it, be prepared to weep when you see her museum of MacBooks, explaining that she needs to buy a new one after every breakup. Feel your heart break when you discover she NEVER wears then same outfit twice. At one point she talks about the abuse she endured at bad kids camp that still haunts her to this day (Side note: she recently testified in court against this camp). It’s a serious situation although Nikki Hilton brings us back by asking Paris “do you remember how horrible you were to our parents?” Look, I grew up with a Mexican grandmother so it’s real hard for me to feel bad for Paris. Anyway, unless you’re interested in learning how Paris stayed rich after growing up rich, I do not recommend This Is Paris.

And while we’re on the subject of spoiled rich kids, I also don’t recommend Netflix’s Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal. We all know the story: Aunt Becky used that Full House money to get her bratty, underserving child into USC. And she wasn’t the only one. A bunch of rich parents did it, all with the help of a guy named Rick Singer. The majority of it is shot in reenactments which I get because most of the people this scandal involves are in jail.

The documentary is meant to show how fucked up the system is but here’s the deal: it’s nothing new and it’ll probably never change. And the worse part is there will always be kids that want to go to these shit colleges that allow this.

FUN FACT: I went to school with a girl who wanted to go to the University of Texas at Austin but didn’t get in. Instead of just going to another University of Texas she lied to everyone, telling people she got in and would actually walk around the campus pretending to be a student. She eventually got caught. This happened 20 years ago so this story also serves as a reminder that people don’t forget.

Anyway, my point is, I would rather watch a documentary about that girl than one about something that isn’t that surprising other than Aunt Becky learned dick all from the life lessons on Full House. I do not recommend Operation Varsity Blues.

Review: The Meaning of Mariah | Mariah Carey

Years ago, I had a dream of being a famous singer. Back then you had to really work for it. There was no TikTok or YouTube to propel a talentless individual into the spotlight. No. Back then, you had to find a way to get in front of record executives. I tried cold-calling them using my sales tactics that I learned from my telemarketing job but it didn’t pan out. Then, a miracle in the form of a talent show appeared: American Idol was auditioning for season 2.

The day before the audition I decided I should probably rehearse. I chose a Mariah Carey song and practiced for about 10 minutes in our dining room. I thought I sounded great. My then 7-year-old sister wanted to know why I was screaming. Either way, it didn’t matter. When we got to the venue they’d already reached their cut-off so I couldn’t audition, which was probably for the best since I was prepared to walk in there and SING A MARIAH CAREY SONG. I still live with that blind optimism and confidence, by the way. But just like no one can sing Mariah Carey like Mariah Carey, I don’t do confidence the way she does.

I just finished reading Mariah Carey’s book, The Meaning of Mariah, and I never knew how amazing she actually was until she told me. I had zero intentions of reading this book, but during her appearance on Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Eve special she kept talking about her book and how she wrote it and her book was her answer to every question she got asked so I felt like I had no choice but to read it.

It’s actually not bad but is also exactly what I expected: the story of her life mixed with praise for herself. If you’ve ever seen the movie Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, you’ll recall a scene where, playing herself, she says “I’m probably the most humble person I know.” That’s the entire tone of the book.

HOWEVER, it’s also incredibly inspirational, believe it or not. I was completely unaware of her hardships. The hardest time I thought she endured was the period of her life that was that shit Glitter (she even talks about the infamous TRL publicity stunt that went terrible and made her look batshit crazy, at least she did to me). She had a pretty rough upbringing, growing up around addiction, rage, and poverty. Her drive to make it out and achieve her dreams of becoming the superstar diva she is today is pretty motivational. And now I get why she celebrates anniversaries instead of birthdays and sometimes acts like a kid with a credit card.

She also goes into full detail about her time with Tommy Mottola. I remember when she was married to him and I also remember thinking she became a star because she married him. I was also like 13 when that went down so what did I know? The answer is nothing because the reason she married him and the shit she endured while she was with him is nowhere near as light-hearted as being a gold digger.

She has a great story and while it’s not without her mentioning her thousands of accolades she’s collected over the years – and I mean like every single story has some sort of praise for her, by her – it somehow doesn’t take away from the point of it: never give up. That’s the point of a lot of memoirs I suppose, but this one’s pretty legit. Of course it is, it’s Mariah Carey.

The Meaning of Mariah is a pretty good read, just ask Mariah Carey. She’ll tell you all about it.

Photo by: Rolling Stone because I was too lazy to take a picture

The state of my mind on Mardi Gras during a snow storm

Texans are not equipped for the current conditions we are facing. Snow is nothing more than a faint dream to us. We don’t dream of a white Christmas, we dream of a not-hot one. So when this snow storm hit, we were ill-prepared at best. It’s the Hunger Games at our local grocery stores. People aren’t driving so much as they are gliding to their destinations. Electricity is out in several parts of the city and throughout the state and our water is frozen. FROZEN.

Obviously, only essential businesses are open, like Target because people need to buy pool floats so they can play in the snow. It’s snowmageddon here in Texas and even though I work from home and my electricity is working so my daily schedule really isn’t that affected, I still can’t think clearly. There are too many distractions such as a story I read about another gender reveal party gone bad where 2 idiots used a cannon to find out what they were having.

Call me boring but what happened to the days of just asking the doctor what you’re having and then putting it on an invitation and asking for presents? Every gender reveal is one one-upping contest after another and quite frankly it’s annoying. Kids these days already think they’re special for absolutely no reason at all. Wait until they hear that their parents burnt down an entire city just to announce they’re having a boy. That’s not someone I’d want as a boss.

Anyway, I’m over gender reveal parties and the people trying to go viral with theirs. So, I invented something that will allow people to find out the sex of their child AND celebrate Mardi Gras. You can thank my cabin fever for this.

I give you:

THE KING (SOLOMON) CAKE

The King Solomon Cake is like any king cake. Except this is the gender reveal version so whoever gets the baby is King Solomon and they have to cut the baby in half to reveal the gender. No one gets hurt. Nothing burns to the ground. Everyone loves cake! Patent pending.

Watch This, Not That: Mercy Black vs. Our House

I like to consider myself a horror enthusiast, a horror snob if you will. When it comes time to pick the movies I’m going to watch for this column, I can barely get through the horror movie section of Netflix without making a sarcastic remark to myself. I’m very witty. Who decides this belongs in horror?, I always think to myself. I should be getting paid to decide what goes in the horror genre. Amateurs, all of them.

Then I watched a movie titled Mercy Black and what the fuck? First off, Mercy Black is a Blumhouse Productions movie – the people who gave us Insidious – so I should’ve known it wouldn’t be too terrible because Blumhouse can do no wrong, ever, not even if they tried.

Mercy Black is about a woman who is returning home after having spent 15 years locked in a mental institution for assisting in the attempted murder of her friend – very Slender Man. Upon her return she has to deal with visions of the past, weird occurrences in the home, and then, her nephew acting like a murderous weird-ass just like she did when she was a kid.

She sets out to help him by trying to figure out if the thing that made her try to kill is real – AKA Mercy Black – or if she made it up. The more she looks into her past, the more it comes back to haunt her (obviously). But not like regular haunt. Like, fucked up haunt. Like people getting stabbed in the eyeballs haunt. I had to watch a couple of episodes of Schitt’s Creek to come down off what I saw. I’m not saying this will give you nightmares but any movie that makes me go “the fuck just happened?” is worth a watch.

What’s not worth a watch is Our House. Our House is about a teen, Ethan, who has to leave college to care for his brother and sister after their parents are killed in a car crash. During the day he does the adult thing (job, taking and picking up the kids from school, etc.) but at night, he works on a project: a machine that he hopes will generate wireless electricity.

As you’ve probably guessed, it does not generate electricity; it generates ghosts, two of which are believed the be their parents. At first you’re like, ok, he brought his parents back and now the kids can live with their parents’ ghosts, super cool. But then the little sister starts talking about a little girl ghost she’s been talking to and then the neighbor’s dead wife comes back but in a black shadow/murderous form and then it turns out that the little girl ghost had been killed by her step-father in that house oh and also the parents’ ghosts are not actually their parents but something evil duh.

SOOOO, we’ve established that the ghosts are not the Casper-kind and eventually so does Ethan, but when he tries to get rid of them the neighbor is like “don’t make my ghost wife go away” even though she’s trying to fucking kill everyone and also she looks like what a 1st grader would draw as their interpretation of a scary ghost. Anyway, before all of the ghosts can kill the family, Ethan smashes his machine and the ghosts are gone and then they move out of the house and also it wasn’t actually the house that was causing the problem it was Ethan and his spirit summoner because the ghosts were fine until his wind machine irritated them. So it shouldn’t have been called Our House, it should’ve been called Ethan Fucking Around With Shit He Shouldn’t.

I probably made it sound cooler than it is. Look, it’s a movie about a homebuilt machine that conjures up murder-y ghosts instead of conjuring up electricity or my recommendation.

Freelancing For Dummies

People will pay for the weirdest shit, and I’m not even talking about that one chick on TikTok who sells weird things like her used IUD. Or a former friend of mine who sold a picture of her tonsils to a guy on the internet for $30.

I’m talking about things like bot followers on Instagram or “life coaches”. You’re probably tired of hearing me bitch about that alleged vocation but I can’t help it. Why are you paying a 20-year-old with a trust fund $500 a month to give you life advice that they probably just regurgitated from one of Brene Brown’s bullshit books? It would be cheaper to just read those books yourself and furthermore, if that’s where the life advice is coming from then Barnes and Noble or Amazon can be your life coach.

Actually, support indie bookstores. Thank you.

I’m getting off track. The point is people pay for weird shit. And this is our gig economy. No credentials. No experience. Just tonsils and life advice from someone whose mom pays their phone bill. But guess what? It turns out that I’m a part of the very thing I mock (minus the tonsils and IUD and bamboozling people), and I’ve been trying to be a part of it since I was old enough to work (legally).

It all began when, at 16, I had aspirations of becoming a famous singer and making millions believing that if Britney Spears and Mandy Moore could do it, so could I. So I sent out hand-written essays to a bunch of record companies but when 2 weeks went by without a response (I can’t imagine why), my parents threw in the towel and made me get a job. Shitty stage parents if you ask me.

I worked for the local movie theater and then as a telemarketer before deciding that I needed a job that didn’t require my presence. That’s right. I was trying to freelance before it was a thing #trendsetter. I began looking in the paper for jobs that I could do from home.

*Side note: We did not have social media or Indeed back then and posing as an “expert on living” hadn’t been invented yet.

Anyway, I ended up finding a WFH job: selling Mary Kay make-up. Yes, kids. Younique didn’t invent that. Mary Kay and Avon did. The problem was it was door-to-door sales. None of this harassing people on Facebook and Instagram, NO. You had to do it in person. Like actually get off your IKEA sofa, put something other than yoga pants on, and go door-to-door, business-to-business and talk to people. TALK TO PEOPLE. IN PERSON. I barely like getting texts much less talking to someone. It didn’t work out.

The next want ad I came across was for a job stuffing envelopes. Perfect! All I needed was $399 and I was in. The problem was I did not have $399 and getting a job to pay for an envelope stuffing job seemed counterproductive. There was only one choice left: I had to own my own business.

20 years later I did just that. I’m fucking terrible at it. I started doing freelance digital marketing and because it’s not writing stuff like this, I’m not very good at it. Since starting my “business” I’ve picked up a few clients but instead of collaborating (which, ironically, I hated doing when working with a team) they want ME to figure out their goals and how to make them more money. Why do I have to do everything?!

The clients I’ve wrangled up are all small businesses which means they don’t have the biggest budgets to work with so I can’t do a lot and then feel bad for charging them for the work that I do complete. I’ve really only been successful with one of my clients and that’s only because I love the industry they’re in. So I guess I’m only good at things I care about. Well what other way is there?!

It gets worse. Because I have a problem prioritizing anything that isn’t paying me a regular salary, I would fall behind on tasks and lose clients. Listen, it’s real hard working on tasks that you invented yourself for clients whose goals you had to set and when it comes time to bill them you don’t know what to charge because you didn’t discuss a rate because you didn’t know what the scope of work would be till you started and had to make it up and that pretty much mean you suck donkey dicks at freelancing.

My entire life I’ve either wanted to work for myself or work doing something I loved. I’ve never bought into having to work a job you hate forever. I’ve never thought something impossible. Difficult to achieve, absolutely. Impossible? Abso-fucking-lutely not.

When it comes to work, I want to be a published author, write and sell my screenplays, write for others, and work in publishing. Oh, and I want to work as Head of Content for the Alamo Drafthouse. I don’t even know if it’s a thing but I’ll figure it out.

How I’m not going to get there is freelancing for businesses I don’t care about. So, aside from the one client I love, I’ve gone back into the workforce. That’s right, I got a big girl job. Also, it’s a remote position. It only took 20 years but I finally willed legitimately working from home into fruition. ME. I did that. It was exhausting.

I need to pay my bills but, more importantly, I need to make sure that I’m not juggling a bunch of bullshit so I can work on my writing and getting in at the Drafthouse.

My journey as a freelancer isn’t a total loss, though. Along the way to achieving my dream of not having to go to an office (and also not having to dress like an adult), I’ve worked some pretty weird jobs and think I have some good unconventional business advice to offer, because who better to take business advice from than someone who was horrendously bad at it.

Get ready to get better at things or worse at things. I don’t know, I’m not a life coach. If I were, I would be way better at this “gig economy” shit, and that my friends, is how IRONY works.

Their names are Snoopy and Prickly Pete

I was a nightmare of a 14-year-old, or as I like to think of it, coming into my own. I’d had it with being a cheerleader so during a meeting I made a few of them cry then quit (my parents STILL remind me about that). I’d discovered D.L. Hughley and thanks to his comedy believed that everyone thought it was funny when you made fun of them (spoiler alert: when you’re a teen, they do not). I stole my parents cars including my dad’s patrol car and went joyriding around our neighborhood (I got caught when I locked the keys in my mom’s car – shout out to the inventor of whatever it is that won’t let you do that anymore!). And I got my first boyfriend. Unfortunately, like most girls in their adolescence, I had low self-esteem and because of that, told tall tales out of school in an attempt to make my boyfriend like me more.

We’re talking real whoppers.

Like being the opening act for semi-known singers and God only knows what else. Yeah, I was a TOTAL liar. We would eventually break up and I would eventually quit lying (except now I sometimes get in trouble for being too honest so I fucking can’t win) but not without really driving my parents batshit, particularly my mom. To scare me, my mom would tell me that my kids were going to turn out 3 times as bad as me.

Joke was on her; I planned on having zero kids.

And I had none until about 3 years ago when my husband and I inherited my father-in-law. Karma is a crafty bitch.

Currently we are in the terrible teens and the lying is in full swing. He lies about everything to everyone, one of those people being his most recent girlfriend who is also in her 60s and had no problem addressing his lies with me when she came for a visit.

I sang like a canary. And I laughed and I laughed.

Quick backstory: so after he broke up with JDF, he started dating a woman that my husband and I have actually known for a while – we’ll call her Faith. Faith is the opposite of JDF. She’s not an asshole for one and 2) she’s pretty well off.

A couple of weeks before Christmas she came down to see him, but instead of hiding in his room like a normal teen, she came over to our side of the house when he was out to ask me some questions. Interrupting the one day I get to myself, she started with “I just don’t get him”. Oh goddamnit. “What do you mean?” I asked, not really wanting to know.

She then proceeded to tell me that from the minute she’d arrived, all he could talk about was money. How much money he had, how much he’d paid for things, how much money his friends had. Apparently, he built us this house but then actually bought this house from a friend for us but no actually my mother-in-law had wanted it so he bought it but then she passed away.

He lied about the cost of the house, how much we put down, even how long our note is for. He lied about buying me and paying for my car which is interesting because I’m pretty sure I’m the one who gets nauseous every time I make that payment to the bank. He lied about owning the hangar he lived in prior to moving in with us, and he lied about building the apartment that was inside the hangar (a friend of ours did that).

The hangar lie pissed me off the most; he told her that he sold the hangar a few weeks after my mother-in-law died because he couldn’t stand to live there without her. Uh, he stayed in that hangar for 6 months after she passed and had his new girlfriend there all the time and only moved in with us because the actual owner of the hangar kicked him out.

Anyway, the lies didn’t quit; even my arch nemesis – JDF, his ex-girlfriend – got drug in. My husband checks my father-in-law’s work email so as not to miss any important work emails. One of those emails just happened to be from JDF. In it, she expressed her anger at the fact that we (my husband and I) didn’t know they were still seeing each other and a bunch of other bullshit. The email ended with the revocation of an invitation to her daughter’s graduation dinner.

The dinner was that night.

My FIL’s current girlfriend was still in town.

He’d double-booked himself. You know what? In that one Twilight Zone episode, all the old people wanted to do to reclaim their youth was go outside and kick a fucking can. Now they’re pulling some geriatric Saved By The Bell bullshit.

I never told Faith about that because I didn’t see the point – I’d already busted his story wide open. Like most teen romances, though, it did no good.

Let me preface this next story by saying that I’m not 100% sure what I did to my parents that made me deserve what happened next but whatever it was I think we’re square.

The night she went home, she came over to say goodbye and tell me another story.

I’m just going to rip this story off like a bandaid.

The night before, she’d tried doing it with him but he couldn’t, er, do it back and she said “I think it’s because he’s still in love with his ex-girlfriend.”

Time froze. I hadn’t been this grossed out since that one broad referred to 50 Shades of Gray as “mommy porn”. I have self-diagnosed tourrettes of the face so I’m not really sure what it did, but it couldn’t have been good because she tried to make a joke out of it.

But it was too late. I’d heard too much and there was no going back. And also, what the fuck? Did I just get a glimpse into the future? Do we still want to sleep with dudes, well into our 60s, who have feelings for other women and are compulsive liars? The future keeps looking more bleak.

Anyway, maybe some parents are happy when their children or children’s boyfriends and/or girlfriends confide in them but I’m not one of them. He went from a girlfriend that preferred to not talk to me to a girlfriend that didn’t know when to stop talking to me. I blame myself for the latter; I’m just too friendly.

After I managed to get her out of my house, I sat down and noted everything that had happened that weekend.

And I realized something: there’s no such thing as “the older, the wiser”. It turns out, the majority of us stay morons.

Don’t believe me? Well check this shit out. He’s already back with his ex-girlfriend, and the way we found THAT out was he updated his relationship status on Facebook.

Wait. There’s more.

My husband sent me a screenshot of it and not an hour later, I run into my FIL outside and instead of saying “hi” he says “did you hear what I did this morning?” He then proceeds to tell me that he was trying to change his status from Widowed and “accidentally” hit In a Relationship.

THEN to make the lie plausible, he called Faith and told her that she needed to tell people he knocked her up (why do these people insist on making me need therapy) because he “accidentally” changed his status.

As a parent, I would like to offer up some advice: quit telling your kids to not be in a hurry to grow up. They’re taking that shit to heart.

Faith did end up breaking up with him. You know how I found out? She sent me a text that just said “I did it”, like a hitman. I followed it up with questions so the FBI wouldn’t see it and raid my home.

Anyway, I got the whole story and, like any teen, she ended the conversation with a request for me not to say anything to anyone.

But I’m sure she didn’t mean you guys.

My favorite book of the year and some other ones I liked: 2020 Edition.

There’s never been a better year for books. Books were the escape we needed from this prank of a year and luckily, there were a few good ones to keep us occupied. Now, I don’t always read what’s new but I do try my best to keep up with what comes out and in 2020, there was one book that was so good and cry-laugh funny that it made my “I’m going to read this a lot of times” list.

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost is my pick for my favorite books of the year. It’s hilarious, really funny, and made me laugh out loud a lot. If you haven’t read it, add it to your 2021 list. It’ll be on mine!

I did read a few books that, even under lockdown, I didn’t have time to write about so I figured now was a good time to mention them.

Bare Bones and Fight. Grind. Repeat. by Bobby Bones. Fun Fact: back in like 2003, Bobby Bones – who’d just launched his show – hosted his own version of American Idol in Austin, TX. I auditioned. I sang something by Evanescence believing that I sounded like Amy Lee and as you can probably tell by the fact that I’m sitting on my couch writing this instead of getting paid to make singing Cameo’s, I did not advance to the next round. I did however get to meet Bobby Bones and he was such a sweetheart. His books are both amazing reads and incredibly inspirational. From his very rough upbringing, to his determination and the grind to become a radio personality (something we can all agree he’s done pretty well), his books are real page-turners. Whatever your goals are for 2021, I suggest adding both of his books to your “to read” list for some great motivation.

Yes, I Can Say That by Judy Gold. OK so this book isn’t for everyone, particularly those who offend easily or pretend to be offended. It’s hard to make people laugh these days because it seems like people just want to be mad. Not that they don’t have a reason, everything sucks but take it out on the shit you’re mad at – not someone who made a joke. The biggest problem is people take jokes personally because, thanks to social media and helicopter parents, they think everything is about them. Newsflash: it’s not. You’re making yourself feel bad, not the joke or the person who said it. And that’s why I love this book. Judy Gold nails this trend of getting butt-hurt beautifully and explains how it’s come to this and why everyone needs to bring it down to about a three-and-a-half. And if this is starting to make you mad, I wasn’t talking about you! You see what me and Judy Gold mean?!

Another comedian who’s addressed this before is the man himself, Mr. Jerry Seinfeld, who also happens to be the author of the last book on this list: Is This Anything? If you’re a fan of his then chances are you’ll enjoy his book. Is This Anything? is a collection of his notes that he’s written over the years for his act, accompanied by a backstory for each decade. I’m a huge Seinfeld fan; believe it or not one of the things I love about his comedy is he’s a clean comic. I have to use at least 3 curse words per post – I’m not as entertaining without them. Additionally, I can relate just about any real life situation to his show (I’ve got a Snoopy and Prickly Pete story in the works!) even today. If you’re a fan Jerry Seinfeld, I highly suggest picking up a copy of Is This Anything?

I’ve got an ambitious goal of reading a book a week in 2021. First up: What Would Keanu Do? by Chris Barsanti.

What book are you kicking your year off with?