$25 Over Two Months is Better than Nothing…I Think




The link above is to a site called SurverySavvy.com.The following is a review for said site.


First of all, I’m not hacked. This is actually something I did in a moment of desperation, and something I continue to do. It’s no way to make a living, but it IS a way to make Starbucks money.


First, the bad.


It’s obnoxious. You will not qualify to take at least half the surveys thrown your way. On the bright side, they usually figure out that you’re not who they’re looking for within three questions. Fact remains, though, that you are wasting some time. If you do qualify, you’re usually spending 10-30 minutes in pursuit of $1. Occasionally, you get $2, or $5, or $15. Ironically, the amount of time it takes to fill out a survey is inversely proportional to the amount of money you get. Half an hour of your valuable market research time pays $1. Seven minutes sometimes nets you $15. It can be infuriating. The fact remains, though, that money is money, and if you have nothing better to do (many do; at this point, I most certainly do not) you might as well. SurveySavvy is honest as far as these things go, and they know you’re not going to make much money at all from surveys. So, for your convenience, they also work on a referral system. Get a friend to sign up, and there is a bonus involved; if your friend qualifies for a survey and earns that $1 for their time, you get a bonus. You get a bonus every time that happens, for every friend/acquaintance/blog buddy that you refer. It can be worth it. Potentially, you could refer enough people to the point where you’re literally making a little money by doing nothing. It’s interesting. With a little work up front, it can be rewarding. 


If you don’t believe me (and I don’t blame you if you don’t) you can look up reviews of SurveySavvy. A little research will prove that I’m not lying, that I may even be onto something. Well, I am in fact onto something; hopefully, what I’m on to is more than fractions of a cent.


That all said, here’s a shameless plea: the link above is a quickie sign-up via my referral. Yes, if you sign up, I get a few pennies. If you make a little bit of money, I get a few pennies. But it doesn’t impact your own earnings, it actually expedites your registration, and most importantly, it will keep this starving writer who tries to sell books in coffee and fresh cream. Thank you, as always, for your time, and have beautiful day. (It’s beautiful where I’m at. Here’s hoping it’s beautiful where you are.)


Stuff That Works For Me, Part 1: The BCBGeneration Milla Satchel



I gave in to my lust for a designer handbag.

It could definitely have been a ridiculous thing. It could have been a mistake, a complete waste of money that I absolutely cannot afford to waste.

I’m still cringing over the fact that I gave into my desires, given my precarious financial situation. But give in I did. And for the first time in like, three years, I have no buyer’s remorse whatsoever.

Before I go any further, let me insert a disclaimer here: the only reason I have no buyer’s remorse is because I a) saw the item in person before I bought it (no online purchase here, for once); b) carried it around the store, torn over the price (which was severely discounted only because it was the last one in the store); c) put it back regretfully; d) obsessed over it, looking it up, price-checking, researching the brand; and e) finally went back ten days later, praying it was still there.

It was. (Miracle, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight??? $108.00 handbag for $31.99? Shooooooot. )

And that bag, in case the title didn’t tip you off, is the BCBGeneration Milla, in the pewter color.

It is not only adorable and satchel-y and doctor-bag-like and designer and trendy, it is the perfect bag for my needs. It’s very roomy, but not at all bulky or awkward. It actually looks a lot smaller than it is (always cool as far as I’m concerned). In addition to the flipover top, it zips completely from side to side. There is a huge interior, with two small holders inside(I use them for my phone and camera) a zippered interior pocket, and a zipperless outer pocket with an opening just
underneath the buckle.

It has an old-timey, doctor-bag/school satchel look to it. Also, be aware that it looks so much better in person than any online photo gives it credit for. In all the photos, it just kind of looks like a fat, lumpy, regular purse with a sky-high degree of “ho-hum”. I have the pewter color (it also comes in black and bronze), which is darker and much more neutral than you’d think. While it doesn’t go with everything, it matches very well with any color in the cooler spectrum. (Not that it matters to me. Come summer, I’ll be toting this puppy with my neon-pink tank top and day-glo shorts. But I know that relatively few people care less than I do.) Throw on a dark coat or pants, and
you’re set.

For the record, I typically carry a digital camera, planner, a book or two, a sketchpad, notebook, pens/pencils, Bamboo tablet, mini netbook, and a handful of miscellaneous items with no visible strain. It would also probably work as a small overnight bag, depending on what you packed. (But who’d use a designer purse as an overnight bag, right? I mean, besides me.)

As alluded to earlier, I got this item 65% off due to a combination of a pricing error and it already being on sale because it was the last one, of any color, in the store. That said, after owning it for
a while, I believe it’s worth retail (not that I would’ve been able to afford it then, but it’s still worth the price). It’s strong, very well-made, with tight double-stitched seams, and very sturdy in addition to the aesthetic appeal I have not lauded enough. I have no complaints. The Milla is definitely recommended. If you ever have reason to buy one, I hope it works for you, because it definitely worked for me. Because of it, I am officially a BCBGeneration fan. Way to go, expensive labels, seducing girls who have no money to spend.

Romy Inc., WHAT do I Have to DO to You to Make Your Clothes Last MORE Than Four Days?


I am a naive person. Not incurably, intolerably, dangerously so. I just have this tendency to assume that whenever something is unsatisfactory, or disappointing, or otherwise unpleasant—say, Modcloth.com’s selection of incredibly adorable, hideously overpriced, ridiculously flimsy clothes–that it’s bad, and when it’s unusually bad, like Modcloth, there’s just not going to be much else that is as bad. (For the record, color me stupid but I’m a frequent buyer on Modcloth. I can’t stay away.) How many stores carrying incredibly adorable, hideously overpriced, ridiculously flimsy merchandise can one floundering economy support?

As it turns out, at least two.

I have the same sort of disgusted adoration for Romy (http://www.romystyle.com) that, until recently, I reserved for Modcloth.  It makes sense. Browsing their online showroom, or popping in at one of their boutiques, is enough to give anyone the sneaking suspicion that they probably source clothes from the same places as Modcloth.  (If this is true, though, Romy gets the unbranded merchandise, while Modcloth has the go-ahead to use labels.)

Moving on.

It’s pretty easy to see through Romy’s gimmicks. The first time I saw a store, I was thrilled with the screaming red and yellow signs that read, “Everything 50% off!” Very cool, yeah?

Well, not passing any judgment here, but a year later, everything, in every store, is still 50% off. This kind of reminds me of a bit in some movie (I think it was “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan”, but I’m probably wrong) where the owner of some electronics shop has big “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS, EVERYTHING ON SALE….” and has had these same signs up more or less since he took up shop. Anyway, I’m digressing majorly here.

Every time I walk through Romy, or even just past a window display, I fall in love. About every four times I fall in love, I buy. And given the wider availability and more immediate gratification of Romy, I end up buying from them a lot more often than I buy from Modcloth.

With one exception, I’m disappointed every time. (The exception is a black skirt that I’ve since skinnied myself out of. Shame, actually. It’s a really nice skirt. Also, it came off the clearance rack. Miss Bean for the win times two….minus the twenty or so losses she’s sustained meanwhile, leaving her with a rough score of -18. Whoops.) Romy carries some of the prettiest, girliest, most feminine, modest pieces. So many of them are gorgeous. Florals, pastels, flowing skirts, lace, ribbons, sashes, and on and on and on and on. They are so PRETTY and they ACTUALLY LOOK GOOD ON YOU! I’ve never actually bought anything at Romy that looked bad on me. Even the camisole that I accidentally bought in the wrong size (like, four sizes too small size) looked decent. The only problem I’ve ever had with the fit is, inexplicably, on one gorgeous little blouse, the arm-holes were like…miniscule. Insanely small. To the point where they don’t even look like they match the rest of the shirt.

Yes…they are so pretty. And even though they’re not dirt-cheap in terms of pricing, I bought a skirt, two undershirts, a sweater, and two blouses for around $68.  It all sounds so good…

Til the loose threads start to cascade.

I don’t know. I don’t get it. They are SO flimsy. SO poorly-made. SO cheap.


With florals and lace and ribbons and sashes and pastels and flowing skirts…what are we supposed to do? Well, okay, most of you will probably (rightly) turn your noses up and seek your wardrobe elsewhere. So I’ll rephrase:

What am I supposed to do?!?

Even when the clothes fall apart in four days. Even when they forget to give me my $10 gift card no matter how much money I spend. Even when their sale is a hoax. Even when the dressing room is partitioned off from the store by a frigging curtain. Even when the website is riddled with grammatical errors.

I’m hopeless. It’s kind of sad. But I like to think it’s kind of funny, too.

Wacom Tablets…


….are amazing. They make even my poor work tolerable.

I used to not think too much of Wacom tablets and similar products. I kind of thought of them as cheating. I still (kind of) think that they are, only in that they make it SO easy to eradicate any mistakes, and even easier to switch between mediums.  Assuming I can develop what little inclination I have into something credible (not incredible, just credible) I am absolutely upgrading. And I hope that I do get better. I’m a neurotic, as-yet-unpublished novelist (but that’ll change soon enough. The unpublished part, not the neurotic part) and in the near future, I want to write and illustrate a graphic novel. First, I have to be able to draw well on demand, not just goof around as the inclination strikes me. Don’t get me wrong; I can draw on demand, I just can’t draw with any semblance of talent on demand. Anyway, the point of that ramble is, I want to develop what skills/aptitudes I have (meager though they are) and make something of them, sooner rather than later, because “later” has a tendency to turn into “never”. Cross your fingers and offer up a little prayer for Rachele’s talent. I need all the help I can get. See?


Wouldn't it be a cute pet?



Pray a little. Help me out here.

A Little Too Clever for its Own Good, Yes; But “Mangaman” Still Delivers


I’ll be honest. I actually really loved “Mangaman.” 

It is NOT without flaws. For instance, it drags a little in the beginning, the ending was a little too neat even for a silly graphic novel, and sometimes it gets carried away with its own (admittedly considerable) wit, which is just as unappealing in a book as it is in a person.


“Mangaman” is still ridiculously fun.

The story is fairly simple, and (I believe) unique. Cultural and sociological implications aside (which maybe isn’t the best way to go), “Mangaman” goes like this: thanks to the experiments of a mad scientist, a boy from the manga universe gets torn from his world and deposited into the world of Western-style comics. Appropriately off-the-wall situations and adventures ensue. I thought it was really funny. To my mind, it kind of recalled “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in a good way. (Just to be clear, any time I compare something to “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, it’s highest praise.)

The art is also spectacular. I was blown away on nearly every page.

“Mangaman” is a funny, clever, facetious clash of Western and Eastern graphic storytelling. If not constantly laugh out loud funny, it will have you snorting or chuckling on just about every page, and the story will absolutely suck you in. The book is well-written, beautifully illustrated, and so much fun. I think nearly anyone will find something to enjoy here.

No “Battle Angel” Because of “Avatar?!!!!!!!!!!!”


I hate James Cameron.


I’ve never had particularly strong feelings toward James Cameron before. “Titantic” was okay, “Alien” and all the sequels were AMAAAAAAAAZING (some more so than others, but I think it’s totally fair to shove them all under the “Amazing” heading). “The Abyss” was incredible, and ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day” didn’t lack (even the Frankenstein-esque turnabout of the Terminator worked, which is a miracle in and of itself.)


“Avatar”–and tear me apart if you want–was a flat, unemotional take on a very old template. The graphics were mind-blowing, yes. But if “Speed Racer” and “Van Helsing” (I did like “Van Helsing” more than it deserved, by the way) taught me anything, it’s that graphics are a worthless tool if they are the main focus of a feature. Graphics and special effects are supportive. Like any supportive item, they need a foundation. It should go without saying that a story is the backbone of any film.

And “Avatar” lacked it. Poor “Avatar.” It has flawless skin, piercing eyes, straight white teeth, lustrous hair–and no spine. All that would-be beauty just kind of melds into a formless puddle. Oh so sad.

Now, I don’t hate James Cameron for “Avatar.” Everyone screws up. It was inexcusable on the part of the studio to advertise “Avatar” as the “greatest adventure of all time” or whatever it was. But then, 85% of the films out today have that tagline or something similar. So. “Avatar” wasted a 3 1/2 hour chunk of my life that I will never ever ever ever ever ever return. But so did “Speed Racer”. There’s nobody to blame but myself. I get that.

What I don’t get is why there is a sequel.

What is NOT my fault is that there will be TWO sequels.

Jeez Maria cross me twice, TWO.

TWO sequels for an emotionally bankrupt film about stereotypical noble savage aliens that have ferret faces and splotchy blue skin.


What is unforgivable is that Cameron will be putting off an adaptation of “Battle Angel: Alita” for TWO sequels for an emotionally bankrupt film about stereotypical noble savage aliens that have ferret faces and splotchy blue skin.

I’m not going to go into the plot for “Battle Angel.” All you have to do is Google it. It sounds awesome. The manga surely was (is). Done correctly, it would be a fantabulous film. Blockbuster proportions epic sci-fi thriller. Millions of dollars in profit. With the right advertising, the revenue would be incredible.

Don’t get me wrong. I know “Avatar” will bring in the bucks. Ridiculous sequels for undeserving blockbusters always do. But COME ON. The absolute SOONEST “Battle Angel” would go into preproduction is 2016. (And it probably won’t even happen then.)


Jeez Maria cross me thrice, “Avatar” is directly interfering with the production of much better films. It’s tragic. And James Cameron doesn’t care. He prefers stereotypical noble savage aliens with ferret faces and blue splotchy skin.

Three times in a row, apparently.


My only revenge are the paltry following acts: I will never own a copy of the film of, or soundtrack to, “Avatar” or any of its sequels. No costumes or clothing or toys or other merchandise. And I will NOT be wasting 6-7 more hours of my life watching the sequels. “Avatar”, we are done. If only you hadn’t been emotionall bankrupt. And full of blue ferret faces. And bad acting. And unimaginative writing. Then maybe we could’ve had something special.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

“Perfect Entry-Level Job for Graduates! Must have 3 Years Management Experience. Fluency in English, Mandarin, German, and Italian Required.”


I was job hunting today.

I mean, I’ve been job hunting for a while. This isn’t a new thing with me. After discovering that I’m basically only qualified for food service and bank teller jobs (which, by the way, would be awesome!!! ) I gave up and went to Indeed.com, where I typed “entry-level” into the search engine.

I know that entry-level jobs are nearly always for graduates. I get that. Some college is the minimum if you’re looking to go into a Fortune 1000 company. Again, no problem. What bothers me is when these “entry-level” positions call for 3-5 years experience in a fast-paced environment, management experience preferred, and please, please, please, be fluent in at least three languages.

Now that I’ve completed my second shot of complaining, let me explain myself further. I’m not a person who throws tantrums because employers prefer bilingual candidates. If 30% of the market speaks Spanish, then the workforce should learn. Not necessarily to fluency; just to where you can communicate. It’s fair. The market serves the customers. If a large portion of the customers speak Spanish, then yes, people should learn basic Spanish. It’s easy. I’m totally language-impaired, and I can understand most of it. I can even speak haltingly. And I suck at it. It’s hard for me. But I’ve got some groundwork, because dang it, I want a job. And if Spanish speakers are going to help support my employment, the least I can do is help them out.

Further, it’d be great to be trilingual. I’m working on it. Not only does it make you a more valuable commodity in the work-place, it’s good for you. It strengthens your mind, opens neat little pathways in your brain, and expands your horizons all around. It’s a great idea. That’s not my problem. Multilingual abilities are awesome.

Further, I know many jobs require it. You can’t deal on the international level if the players aren’t willing to communicate. It’s fair. It’s helpful. It’s good for diplomacy. It makes business operations that much smoother.

 But here’s my gripe.

In order to start off in the marketplace, I’d have to be fluent in four languages? It’s not enough to have a degree and be fluent in one, proficient in the other. I somehow had to find time between a packed college schedule, extra curricular activities, and a job to learn three additional languages?

Look, I don’t need anybody to tell me that this is a very American gripe. I’m acquainted with a young man right now who knows six, and switches between effortlessly. He thinks it’s funny (and it sort of is.) I know another who claims to know something semi-ridiculous, like tenor eleven. I don’t trust him entirely (I never trust really fun people entirely, what can I say), but he’s at least got three down. My childhood best friend’s father has abilities that made him indistinguishable from native speakers. My dad knows bits and pieces of German and Spanish, certainly enough to get by in either country. And I know enough Spanish to get by in Mexico. I would’t be totally lost in France, either. (That’s the benefit of studying Latin on your own time–know a little Latin, you know a little everything.) Like I said before, it’s great to know several languages. If you’re multilingual, that should definitely help you qualify for a job.

But to require it for entry-level?! Not just prefer it, but to make it necessary?

And what’s with the experience? Why in the world should a recent, entry-level, brand new graduate, have 3-5 years of management experience?

Here’s where I get lucky. Technically, I have management experience. From the food service sector, unfortunately, but I’ve got three years of it. Not to inflate my own importance, but it was all-inclusive, from back-office stuff to the front counter, dealing with customers and employees equally. This does put me ahead job-wise. I don’t get called for interviews often (hooray for California, haha) but when I do, I get the job. Five interviews in my lifetime; five jobs in my employment history (well, six, but as one was a recurring temp job at a summer camp, those two get glommed into one). I don’t actually have a problem with it. If you’ve got it, use it, baby. Get ahead.

It just makes me angry when it’s required. I thought the essence of an entry-level job was that you were entry-level. Education, but little to no experience. You use the extra skills and experience when you’ve got them, of course. Luckily, everybody’s got a little extra something. But when those extra-somethings, those extra-efforts, those self-refinements and voluntary disciplines, become requirements, it makes me sad.  I don’t know. I can see where it would be a very good thing to have a nation of brilliant multilingual citizens who are all at the management level by age seventeen. It’d rock. It’d be good for everyone. But it’s not going to happen. (Look at the public schools. Jeez Maria, look at the universities. We’re doomed.) By requiring these things at the outset–not even giving allowance for training, for extra time to work on it and beef up those skills to the proficient level within 90 days of hire or something–a large sector of the workforce is going to be alienated.  If a 22-year-old university graduate needs 3-5 years’ management experience with trilingual credentials, something’s not right. I’d say it’d be fine to put them on a fast-track to learning languages. Buy them Rosetta Stone or Fluenz (my personal favorite) and tell them, “You’ve got one month to hold a conversation, missy.)  Throw them into an assistant manager role, after a two-week training sessions. Do what you’re going to do, require what you will, but give some leeway. I’d be much happier if a description stated, instead: “Must be bilingual, with the ability to learn conversational skills in [insert language] within [this many] days. Will provide [this long] management training session.”

I don’t know. I’m ranting, and I know it. It’s disheartening, is all. If I need all these skills and qualifications to start a career, I need a new life. An existence where I learned Spanish by 7, German by 9, French by 11, Mandarin Chinese by 13, Japanese by 15, Swahili by 17, and managed to squeeze in proficient Hungarian by graduation. I would also take a job at 16, be a manager by 17, and hold that position til I went off to college at 18, where I would take another job where I promote fast. I’d also manage to learn Dutch, Italian, Romanian, and Hebrew by my senior year. I’d also, of course, be earning straight A’s, garner a fantastic internship or four, travel abroad during the summers, study abroad one semester per year, and of course, be a corporate manager by age 20.

Am I exaggerating? Yes. Totally. Slap me, I’m being ridiculous.

But am I bummed? Incurably.

Wish me luck. And I’m praying for all of you.