Bulk up.

Lists

I like to think I’m a generous person, but the honest truth is that I’m a cheapskate. From couponing for my wedding to having a strict resale-only wardrobe, I’m THAT person who is always looking for a way to get something for a lower price – quality be darned. Thus, buying in bulk has become my thing. But recently I have become frustrated by the fact that there are some things in life that just aren’t cheaper when you get them in large quantities. And that’s just plain wrong. To address this grave disservice to the human race, I will revive my ever-entertaining “lists” with this…

Things That Should Be Cheaper in Bulk But Aren’t

1. Stamps – Snail mail may seem something of the past, but my mailman knows better. Aside from spam mail and the obscure magazine subscriptions of my apartment’s former tenant, I enjoy it. It’s nice to get a physical letter at your door instead of a digital file in your inbox. Recently, I’ve wanted to up my letter-writing game to spread the joy around, but MAN. Stamps be expensive. Why is there no discount for bulk stamps?

2. Prescription Medication – No. I’m not a junky. But I grew up with chronic strep throat and year-round allergies, and my poor parents had to buy me loads of pills to make sure I could run around the playground with the other kids. What if they could have bought a load of penicillin for the pantry? That way hayfever season could come for a fraction of the cost of going to the doctor once a year.

3. Gasoline – I’ll make this brief because I know you get it. Let’s just say that if I could get a discount at the pump if I filled up some spare gas cans, I’d do it.

4. Babies – I’m a twin, so I have been made very much aware of how much children cost families. The little bundles of joy can get expensive depending on your preference for diapers and whether or not you want your child to look like a mini J Crew model. While most of the cost just comes with the territory of family expansion, my heart goes out to the families of multiples. But let’s start small…I propose the “have two-or-more-babies-at-once-get-one-hospital-stay-free” rule.

5. Textbooks – Although I’ve been out of school for three years, I’m still feeling the pain of being a student – specifically in my bank account. One of the more frustrating costs of college is the always fluctuating price of textbooks. Semester to semester my classes could cost me anywhere from $400-$800 for textbooks (and I was just a liberal arts major). Why punish students for buying the proper material? Instead, I say the more textbooks you buy for school, the cheaper they should be.

6. Starbucks – Obviously, I saved the most important for last. This one goes out to all the interns and sub-level employees who offer to get their teammates coffee. Let’s say you get one drink free for every six you buy for your coworkers. Oh, and the free one is for you.

What about you? What do you think should be cheaper in bulk?

12 Books A Year

Lists

2013 marked the first year I indulged in New Year’s resolutions. One of my resolutions included the challenge to read (at least) one book a month. Though I’m an avid reader, this proved harder than I thought. But, two days ago, I finished my last book of 2013.

Books Read in 2013

1. The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien

This was my first foray into the written world of Tolkien. I undoubtedly think Tolkien is a literary master and fantastic storyteller; however, I lost interest in the story once I realized that Bilbo lives because he needs to be in the first three movies.

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry

Believe it or not, I had never read this classic. My being homeschooled in junior high seems to have deprived me of this little gem. I read this book in three days. A beautiful story which argues that pain is worth remembering.

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

I received this as a birthday gift and I couldn’t put it down. This book tells the story of a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who investigates the death of his neighbor’s dog. Through his journey, we learn of his troubled family and his unique perspective of the world.

4. As Sure As the Dawn (Mark of the Lion #3) by Francine Rivers

This is the final installment of a trilogy my sister got me into. I typically stay far, far away from Christian fiction, but this series caught me. It’s a must read for Christian females who love historical fiction or romance or seeing God work through people.

5. Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott-Card

Ender’s Game is probably my second favorite book of all time, behind Orwell’s 1984. Ender’s Shadow is a companion novel and follows the exact time frame as Ender’s Game except through Bean’s perspective. It’s just as good as Ender’s Game, providing an outside view of the boy who could save us all.

6. Crazy Love by Francis Chan

I read this as part of my small group. It’s a pretty popular choice in the Christian world, with some controversy, of course. It speaks to how we should love like Christ loves, which should make us look crazy to the outside world. Some good nuggets, but overdone in my mind.

7. The Chosen by Chaim Potok

I found this book at Half Price Books in the sale section for $1 and it has become one of my favorites I read all year. I was introduced to Potok in high school when I read “My Name Is Asher Lev.” The Chosen chronicles the lives of two American Jewish boys during World War II: a Hasidic Jew who is destined to be a Rabbi, but doesn’t want to, and a Modern Orthodox Jew who is destined to be a mathematician, but wants to become a Rabbi. Just read it.

8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I needed a break from the density of The Chosen, so I went with a Young Adult novel. Don’t let the tagline of the soon-to-be-released film based on the book fool you, this is not just a “sick love story.” The book follows Hazel Grace as she battles with not only her cancer, but also questions of life, death, and what it means to love someone. The book could have come across as cheesy if it weren’t for the charming and often darkly hilarious snark that spews from both Hazel Grace and her love interest, and fellow cancer victim, Augustus.

9. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

I found this book abandoned atop a trashcan at my friend’s apartment complex over a year ago. Spurred my recently discovered love of science fiction, I decided to give this one a go. Much more philosophical than I expected, it follows a one-armed mechanic and his super computer “friend” as they try to declare their moon colony’s independence from earth. Filled with questions of government power, free-will, the definition of family, human rights, and what it means to be free, this book took me on a much more cerebral ride than I necessarily wanted. But it was definitely worth it in the end.

10. Matilda by Roald Dahl

I wasn’t allowed to see the movie when I was little, so I never read the book. After reading the book, I have no clue why I wasn’t allowed to see the film, unless it’s because Matilda disobeys her parents (the reason for the banishment of The Little Mermaid from my household). Go figure.

11. A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler

Upon hearing that I needed a December book, my boss dropped this puppy off at my desk. Needless to say, I felt compelled to read it. It’s not really the kind of book I would have read on my own, but it was nice to shake things up a bit and try something new. The book follows the life of the black sheep of the Gatlin family tree as he tries to find meaning in his own life outside of the pressures of his family dynasty.

12. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

This was both the first book and last book I read in 2013. It took me the entire year to finish, but that means I got to sprinkle bits of Bonhoeffer wisdom throughout my year. A German theologian during World War II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer championed the Christian faith, discipleship, and doctrine when the German church did anything but. This lead him to join the conspiracy to kill Hitler, which he was ultimately executed for. A brilliant, humble, Godly, and inspirational man, and a must-read for any Christian.

Phew. If you read all that, I commend you. But I also challenge you to pick up a few books in 2014. I enjoyed the challenge so much that I’ve decided to do it every year. I wonder which 12 books I’ll read next…

All The Time In The World

Advertising, Lists

This is what my schedule looked like today:

Photo Aug 08, 6 12 29 PM

And that doesn’t include the actual work I had to do – plus the fact that I am working late tonight.

So what does one do when there isn’t enough time in the day?

  1. Make A List – Check.
  2. Utilize Your Clone – Although a stereotypical answer, the clone card is still relevant. Sadly, my clone lives in Dallas and has no knowledge of the advertising industry.
  3. Make a Cardboard Cutout of Yourself – The perfect device for being in two places at once.
  4. Ask Siri For Help – It’s worth a shot.
    Photo Aug 08, 6 06 22 PM
  5. Pitch A Tent – A stellar idea. I’m considering keeping a tent in my cube. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for a fort made of paper balls, my emergency hoodie, and some paperclips.
  6. Invent A New Time-Scale – If time is relative, then I should be able to make more time. Right? Right. From now on there are 47 Haley-hours in a day.
  7. Cry. Then Do One Thing At A Time. – A cathartic process, but could get messy. And it’s far too practical.
  8. Do Everything At Once – The inevitable solution. Every time.

Thankfully, I’ve been able to tackle my task list and managed to get most of what I needed done. And I didn’t even have to resort to the cardboard cutout.

What do you do when you’re out of time?

The Little Things

Everyday, Lists

This is for the little things.

Thank you, random lady, who said my skirt was cute.

Thank you, man, in the grocery line for saying I am pretty.

Thank you, little girl, for wanting to hold my hand.

Thank you, friend, for giving me a pat on the back.

Thank you, cat, for greeting me at the door.

Thank you, friend, for telling me that you missed me.

Thank you, ma’am, for saying you like my style.

Thank you, sir, for holding the door open for me.

Thank you, friend, for actually being interested in my stories.

Thank you, kid, for asking me how my day was.

Thank you, guy, for not thinking I am too weird.

Thank you, gal, for saying you look forward to my doodles.

Thank you, miss, for telling me you love my hair.

Thank you, friend, for looking me in the eyes.

Thank you, boy, for always sitting next to me.

Thank you, man, for not charging me for my soda.

Thank you, lady, for giving me a hug.

Thank you, friend, for saying you care. And really meaning it.

Thank you, for reading this.

Pitch, please.

Advertising, Lists

Before we begin, for those who don’t know, the advertising world is all about pitches. Pitches are the way to win new business and new clients. Basically, it’s the official process through which an agency “pitches” ideas to a prospective client. They are usually a two-week process during which you must respond to a prospective client’s prompt (what we call a “creative brief”) and develop several campaigns, with several different pieces in each campaign. At the end of the pre-pitch weeks, the agency will present their creative ideas and business plans to the client. Then, the client will think on it a long time and then choose which agency they liked best. Usually there are three or more agencies competing for the same business, but it depends on the client and the situation. It’s generally a very exciting – and very stressful – process that feels awesome when you win and pretty sucky when you don’t.

Now that we have that out of the way… I’ve been working on a pitch at work and it has been an event to say the least. We were given two weeks to prepare our presentation, but one of those weeks happened to be during Thanksgiving and you can imagine how helpful that was.

The Things I’ve Learned From Pitches

1. A Pitch is kind of like a marathon. Except you can’t train for it. And there aren’t people on the sidelines cheering for you.

2. There’s a lot of food involved. Catered. For Free.

3. Weekends become weekdays. And you spend more time at work than at home, which makes work feel like home, which makes finally going home feel weird.

4. Elevator music never stops playing. Even at night. When all the lights are off.

5. Night janitors wear headphones when vacuuming. That’s not a joke. Just an observation.

6. No one cares about recycling. We just print things. Over and over and over again.

7. You should be allowed to wear sweats to work everyday. And bunny slippers.

8. Illustrators are strange beasts who only communicate through email and never call you back.

9. Waiting for “Pitch Day” is like waiting for Christmas, the last day of school, and getting your lab test results back at the same time.

10. If I had to work nights and weekends, I wouldn’t choose any other team to work with. It’s feels awesome to stand in front of “The Wall” and see all the crazy, amazing, funny, inspiring work that you and your coworkers created. And I’m happy to have shared in the creative process with them.

For us, D-Day is this Wednesday. That’s when the pitch team travels to the mystery location (mystery for you, not for me) and delivers “The Pitch”. Then we’ll have to wait a bit for the client to deliberate and notify the agencies involved of their decision. I’m pretty confident in our work – and all the hard work and creative thinking that went into it all. We’ve produced a crazy amount of awesomeness these past two weeks. I really want to win. But, win or lose, I’ll just be glad when I can go home and enjoy a home-cooked meal. And change the water in my fish bowl.

Me when I had to work all weekend:

Me when I had to work all weekend.

Me the Monday after having to work all weekend:

Me the Monday after having to work all weekend.

Things I Find #1

Lists

 

I’ve discovered over the past couple years that, although my brain is almost organized by the Dewey Decimal system, my personal life tends to be less so. Basically, on the outside, I look like a mess. This means that I find things randomly that I lost months ago. These instances are typically pleasant experiences, below is one example. Every since I graduated, I’ve found that my personal day-timer has completely lost it’s purpose. Now I use it to write down important dates and then never look at it again. Case and point: I found this lovely note on the things I learned my senior year:

 

Things I Learned My Senior Year:

1. I drool in my sleep.

2. Turkey hands are more than a craft – they are a form of therapy.

3. “Shhh!” doesn’t mean anything.

4. How to master the ancient art of small talk (I’m still working on this one).

I remember when I wrote this that I had intended on creating a humorous blog post about it once I had graduated. Now, I think it is more quaint being told from a long-forgotten sticky-note (the unofficial symbol of my college years).

I wonder what else I will find…

Dear 9-year old me:

Everyday, Lists, Ponderings

Dear 9-year old me,

Right now you are 22 years old and about to graduate from college–congrats! College is great by the way, you really enjoy it. Anyway, on the verge of your jettison into adulthood, I decided to write to you to give you some well-needed advice. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble. There’s just some things that I think you should know that might have made these past 13 years a little different:

Wear dresses. In a few years you decide that you don’t want to wear anything remotely girly because the little boys won’t want to play with you. That’s just stupid. True, you end up with a bunch of really awesome guy friends in high school, but you miss out on a lot of key girl lessons that prevent you from really understanding girl-kind. Plus, people pick on you in high school for looking like a ragamuffin all the time. Believe it or not, the majority of your wardrobe in college is made up of dresses and skirts. Talk about irony.

Don’t dress your little brother up in dresses. It may be cute now, but you’ll pay for it later when he’s taller and stronger than you. (However, the picture of him in the tutu is still a family favorite so that one’s okay.)

Broccoli is really tasty. I’m serious, it’ll become one of your favorite foods. Actually, a lot of the foods that you think are gross end up being seriously delicious. Except for paté, stay away from that stuff.

Do more musicals. You’re good at them and meet some of your best friends doing them. When you get older you get so busy with other things that there isn’t time to do much theater. Besides, there is just a small window of opportunity to qualify for one of the Von Trapp kids…

Don’t be so shy. I know you don’t like to put yourself out there, but there are a lot of things you’ll miss out on because you’re afraid of making mistakes or what other people will think of you. You are an extremely bright little person with a lot of great ideas so share them. What’s the worse that can happen? I’m not going to tell you but it’s really not that bad.

Surprise! You’re an introvert. That means that you like to think… A LOT. This may not mean anything to you now, but you spend the majority of your youth thinking you’re an extrovert and that’s the reason why you get overwhelmed all the time. Oh, and there’s a difference between being shy and being introverted, so don’t use it as an excuse. It’s rare to find introverts who understand their extreme talents for introspection, so take advantage of it now.

Growing up is more fun than you think. I know you’re afraid of puberty and going to high school and having to act like a grown-up all the time, but you’ll change your mind. Yes, there are days when you miss making mud pies and playing dress up, but there are a lot of things to look forward to, like driving, wearing adult clothes, and getting to see whatever movie you want.

Don’t take your family for granted. I know you love your family now (you always will), but make sure to really cherish the moments you have with them and etch them into your memory. When you get older the memories of the times you are all together will become more valuable than you can imagine. Also, whatever happens, remember that it’s not your fault.

Be 9 years old. You’re just a kid, so try not to put so much pressure on yourself. If you’re not careful, you’ll spend your high school and early college years with an anxiety disorder because you think it’s up to you to keep the world turning. It’s not up to you to keep Mom and Dad happy or the family together or your friends from failing–that’s not your job and it will never be. Also, your future career doesn’t care what your GPA is, so you won’t need to worry about that too much.

Learn to love yourself. You try so hard to be perfect for everyone else that you forget to be the person God made you to be. Yes, you’re awkward, and no, that doesn’t go away, but you find friends who love you for it and wouldn’t change you for a thing. God will use your crazy ability to blurt out random facts and your disabling compassion and concern for others to do some truly amazing things. Stop comparing yourself to your sister, everyone else will do it enough for you. You are you. You are nerdy and bad at small-talk and socially-awkward and creative and talented and smart. Just watch out for your sophomore year of high school, because that awkwardness is inevitable and embarrassing…but you’ll live (consider burning all photo evidence, though).

Don’t regret anything. I don’t. You’ve done pretty well for yourself, kid. You got me where I am today and, although there were some cavernous bumps a long the way, I wouldn’t change any of it. You go through a lot in the next 13 years (gathering enough material to fill at least two seasons of an HBO miniseries), but know that you make it out alive and you learn from it all. Just keep doing what you’re doing now and everything will end up working the way God planned it to. God’s plan may not look like something you want to sign off on, but He takes you on an amazing ride that will change you for the better. He seems to know what He is doing.

Sincerely,

Me

A Letter to Willy Wonka

Lists

Dear Willy Wonka,

One of my favorite movies growing up was your thrilling musical biopic entitled “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. I can watch that documentary over and over again. I own the soundtrack. I have the beginning of “I Want It Now” memorized. My sister still fears being turned into a giant blueberry. All in all, this movie was a major part of my childhood. To pay tribute to your wonderful work, I have constructed the following list of invaluable things you and your fabulous factory of scrumdiddliumcious secrets has taught me:

1. Eating disorders are okay as long as you own a fantastical factory. Look at you, Willy! You’re spry, skinny, pensive. You’re living proof that you can never eat too much sugar. But now that I think about it, do we ever see you eat anything? Except maybe for that buttercup teacup, I’m pretty sure you don’t eat at all.

2. Use distracting colors and crazy edible objects to escape food safety laws. The Wonka factory could probably get away with murder (and almost does). Nobody questions anything you do. Where’s the FDA when you need them? I’m pretty sure none of the Oompa Loompas wash their hands.

3. Enslaving midgets from another planet is okay as long as you let them sing and torture the tourists. (And give them free reign of the factory tanning salon.)

4. You invented the brainwashing video. Did you ever work for the government?

5. Snozzwangers, Hornswigglers, and Vormicious Knids are things I never want to run into in the streets at night.

6. I want to try a snozzberry.

7. Always take advice from creepy guys in dark alleyways if they offer you money. Especially if they want you to spy for them. Who wouldn’t want to be a spy?

8. If my future child turns out better than Veruca Salt, then I did something right.

9. You can’t buy happiness, but if you buy enough chocolate bars you could end up winning an entire factory.

10. Small boys are stringy and elastic; God invented roller-skates; and the top hat never goes out of style. 

Well, that about does it. Thank you so much for your morsels of wisdom, Mr. Wonka–all priceless information that is sure to be very useful if I ever run into Mr. Slugworth.

But enough about me! How’s life at the factory? Are Charlie and Grandpa Joe doing well? I’m sure that Charlie’s super busy being trained to take over for you once you’re gone. I like to imagine him lifting giant gumdrop weights and making laps in the chocolate river. He’s probably really buff. Do you know if he has a girl friend?

And what about all the other kids? I’m sure that the Oompa Loompas were able to juice Violet back to normal and that little Mike stretched nicely. I do hope that it didn’t take too long to get Augustus out of the pipes and it didn’t disrupt your production timeline. I couldn’t care less about Veruca.

I don’t want to take too much of your time–I know you’re a very busy candyman–but I was just wondering if you are ever planning on having another chocolate contest? I think that you could really do well the second time around and maybe even turn it into a reality TV show. People would like that.

Well, thanks again for making my childhood so sweet and full of chocolatey goodness.

Yours truly,

Haley

P.S. May I call you Willy?