“I have been throwing up since I started running.”

I know, I know, I’m on vacation, but I can’t fucking sit here at the beach anymore while this is happening in the real world. It seems like everybody has shit to say about the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

It seems like Brown was either a superhuman thug who’s violent crime spree was mercifully stopped by the hero cop Wilson, or he was an innocent child, gunned down on his own street by racist bully, drunk on power.

In an effort to make things more clear for myself, I read the testimony of Dorian Johnson, the man who was walking down the street with Brown that day, and I think it’s important to share some of it. Not because it exonerates or condemns anyone, but because it lends a human face to something truly terrible.

How to Blog on Vacation

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I’m sitting at my office desk on Saturday before my vacation, writing this so that it will publish next Tuesday as if I were here blogging the whole week when really, I will be in Rockaway Beach, OR with my amazing boyfriend on our first ever non-family vacation.

Previous vacations, I have blogged through, or I’ve scheduled some of the blogs. But this is the first one where I will not be blogging again until the Friday after Thanksgiving, when I will post my annual Thanksgiving Twitter Hall of fame, showing what America’s best and brightest did over the holiday. Previous HoFs include 911 calls, vomit, and stabbings.

So, this is how I plan to blog on vacation this vacation: I won’t.

I’m going to write all of next week’s posts today and tomorrow, and then I’ll be blog-free for the first time in more than two years. I don’t know what I’ll do with myself. There is a small fear that I’ll stop and never start again. But I don’t think I’ll do that. If I need to, I’ll just write blogs to publish the week after next. When I first started blogging, I used to write 10 posts ahead of schedule. But that was because I wasn’t sure I’d really be able to blog every night.

While we’re vacationing, I plan on taking a ton of pictures so I can write about it when I come back. And you guys know me, I can’t stay off social media to save my life. If I’m not online it usually means that something’s wrong with me. So it’s not like I’ve really gone anywhere.

Of course, there’s the other fear that once Ben and I finally get together by ourselves without work or family to distract us, we will realized that we’re horribly wrong for each other and break up. But, I feel more sure that if we don’t spend some real time together here soon, we’ll be headed for a break up anyway. Not like we’d skip one date night and then have a falling out the likes of which will never be reconciled, just that We’re both stressed out, exhausted, and we both tend to bury ourselves in work when we’re scared. I especially feel the need to work constantly. At dinner, in the car, in bed, even in the middle of a conversation from time to time.

So, this vacation is kind of an experiment.

I even have a contingency plan. If it turns out I really do need to work, I’m reserving about two hours a day where work will happen and no more than that.

Then if that doesn’t work, I’ll just cry and move to a state where it’s legal to marry a cell phone.

Canadians Walk Like This 0-|<

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The problem with living in the Pacific Northwest is that I just can’t pick the Canadians out of a crowd like I could in LA. Those crazy Canadians are always wearing tank tops in 70 degree weather and hugging palm trees and things. Up here that’s pretty normal. Except for the palm tree bit. That was unique to one Canadian ever, to my knowledge.

I guess the major difference is that Oregonians are still rude from time to time. The other day I saw a grandmotherly dog-walker flip off an SUV for appearing to disregard a stop-sign. At least I think that’s what was going on.

Also, the strangest thing: From what I can tell people are more polite in Portland than outside of it. I’ve had more rude shit happen to me in the suburbs than in the city. It’s very odd.

I have a feeling that the longer I live here, the more I’ll pick up on the apparent sub-rivalry that’s going on between the Portland soccer team and the Vancouver, BC soccer team. The real rivalry is between them and the Seattle team, but I have a feeling Portland is like Seattle’s much cuter but less outgoing friend, and every time Seattle does anything we tag along, but everybody only ever talks to Seattle so they can gaze longingly at us.

Because Portland is the best.

I’m sorry, what was the question?

Anyway, one thing’s for sure. If this test vacation doesn’t kill us, I’m planning for our next big non-work trip to be to Canada.

Cinco de Stinko

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Some Mexicans get annoyed that white people love Cinco de Mayo. That would be like the Irish getting mad that everybody celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.

Not being a fan of loud drunks in multitude, I abstain for aesthetic reasons.

Everyone is Fighting Their Own Battle

In my business, I do a lot of cold calling. It’s the cheapest, fastest way to get clients, but about 50% of the receptionists I talk to are pretty fucking rude.

This bugs me, but not because they’re rude to me. They don’t know me, it can’t possibly be personal. Although, I do admit that being rejected 30 times an hour can be pretty stressful.

It bugs me because this means that they are either bad at their jobs, which makes me sad (for them, for the universe, in general), or they work somewhere that is actively negative about customer service. Because taking sales calls is a customer service, and if people who work with customers don’t know this, that’s a problem for their whole operation.

It’s one thing to keep people like me out. I’m here to co-opt their boss’s very limited time for my own selfish agenda. I get that. But being shitty to me isn’t going to get me to go away. It’s just going to make me think that the receptionist is incompetent, or poorly managed, which is going to affect the price I quote for projects if we do work together, because it costs me more to work with poorly managed organizations.

It’s also going to effect me as a customer. This shit doesn’t just go one way. Which is of course why I always try to be polite to anybody I talk to in a business capacity. Hell, it’s probably the only reason I’m not a grade-A cunt every second of every day. I don’t exist in a vacuum. Much to my dismay, other people are actually real.

When I moved to Portland, I was thinking of switching banks. My credit union is in LA, and I worried about not being able to do everything remotely. I was seriously considering local heroes, Blahblah Bank. Names, of course, have been changed.

Then I twitter-pitched one of their marketing managers who was bitching about how tired he was of interviewing freelancers in his office.

I joked that he could interview me in a coffee shop because I would buy him a coffee. He shot back that Blabblah Bank makes their own coffee, and if I’d done my research, I would know that he already had coffee. God.

He then sub-tweeted something about morons or idiots to all 78 of his followers.

So I did my research. I saw that the last 3 posts on every one of his public networks were negative and rude, and one of them included an Instagram of the Blahblah Bank offices.

Oh my God.

This poor man.

No wonder he’s like this.

If I had to toil in a dingy grey cave, I’d be bitchy too.

And yeah, it’s not like Blahblah bank has cause to be impressed by my multi-hundreds of dollars. But that’s the thing about customer service. It shouldn’t matter if I’m rich or poor. It doesn’t matter at my credit union, which has gladly worked with me here in Portland as if I were a founding board member and not just the average everyday customer I am.

And it shouldn’t matter if a person is calling to try and pitch today, because nobody knows who they’re going to be tomorrow.

Sales calls can seem like a waste of time, and they usually are. But it takes just as much time to tell someone to fuck off politely as it does to be a shithead.

Also, Blahblah Bank, y’all really need to get a social media policy. Or learn your ass how to enforce it. If you have a good social media manager, she’ll tell you if a your janitor farts in a windstorm, and she’ll link you to the tweet about it. If you can’t say this about your digital marketing, you’re doing it wrong.

When nothing goes wrong

Him: “It’s only been a few days.”
Me: “It’s been two years.”

I’m so tired of my work. I take so much time and effort to get even the smallest littlest of gigs that I don’t want to do them when they finally come in. After getting solvent in the first 6 months, we haven’t made much more than that in the last year. Technically, I’ve been at this for two years on March 13, 2015, but it feels like I’ve been doing this forever.

I started blogging five days a week in February 2012 in an effort to figure out what to do with my life. Early on, I said that leaving Los Angeles was in our five year plan, and nearly three years later, here we are. I love Portland, I feel like this is really my home, even though I haven’t been here a year yet. The real test will come this winter. If I can make it through a dark, wet Portland winter and still feel like I belong here, I think that’ll be it for me.

So, what am I whining about, and why can’t I seem to care about work, the only thing that kept me in LA so long, my apparent passion? In those early posts, I talked about wanting something to invest in, something that I could identify with. And yet, here I am only a year and a half in to that dream and I’m completely out of fucks to give. I’m too tired.

When I started this, I was all prepared for failure or success. The last thing I thought would happen was that I would get neither. Nothing bad has happened. Every campaign has been completed and paid for, no one has been upset with my work, nothing has crashed or burned, and by all accounts, everyone is happy. And yet, here I am making no more money than I was this time a year ago, and fighting just as hard for the privilege to do so.

A lot of things have gotten easier, but the largest part of my day is still as difficult and draining as it always was. Getting clients is like pulling healthy teeth. They don’t want me, they don’t need me, and half the time I’m convinced they don’t even like me. Once I have them, they seem to love me, but getting them on board is nearly impossible.

Then, somebody brought this up at a networking thing the other day, and I think it’s the crux of my issue. Ironically, it’s one of the reasons I moved here. Portland is saturated with marketing freelancers. Which means more structure and support systems, but also more of us competing for less projects.

From my starting up days in LA I knew that calling people I could then drive to meet was the ticket to rapid conversion, but I think it’s taken me six long months to really realize how much smaller this market is than in LA. Everybody here already has somebody, or they don’t fucking need anybody and they’ve been asked several times if they do.

So, for freelancing the answer is to hit the virtual streets of another city. It may be time to turn my calls back to LA, where I have some traction, and am more than likely to visit now and then.

But will people commit to someone they can’t see? They’ve done it before. Some of my best clients are people I’ve never met.

In the meantime, I have something else on the table that looks very shiny and new from where I’m sitting. The question is, what will it look like in 16 months?

Dragon Age Inquisition: Early Access

Thanks to the wonder of EA’s Early Access, you are reading the blog of someone who has played Dragon Age: Inquisition.

The first thing I need to say is that it’s beautiful. The aesthetic is like Fable 3 had a baby with Skyrim.

The animation is the best I’ve seen. Better than Asassin’s Creed 4 on PS4, which was my benchmark until today.

You can play as a human, elf, dwarf or Qunari. If you pick Qunari, you’re the in-universe version of an Oreo: Qun on the outside, cultureless, uneducated husk on the inside.

We meet Varric again, looking younger and considerably less burly then in the last game, although Inquisition clearly takes place after the events of 2.

The secondary art is reminiscent of the load screens from 2, but cooler looking.

Sadly, elves seem to have taken an attractiveness hit. They’re no longer the doe-eyed Kate Moss lookalikes they were.

Everybody’s teeth look like dentures, but I don’t dislike it.

I’m also very happy that you can change their armor. I know, way to play to stereotype, but I wasn’t allowed to dress my dolls up as a child because the idea of owning multiple outfits per doll was abhorrent to my notoriously cheap grandma. So here we are. I have a little bit of a thing for armor. That’s what happens when you refuse to buy the Barbie dress-up pack.

As for game play, I am immensely happy that attack and interact are no longer the same button. That was kind of an issue for me since I do tend to mash.

If you like tactics (who has the time, I always say), Ben loves the new tactical view. It does make everything look extremely epic, which is my only input as far as tactics are concerned.

There are more conversational options than in any game I’ve played to date, and a ton of the NPC dialog seems to be directly related to player-specific choices like race and class. I didn’t play enough to see if there was dialog on any of the other choices.

All in all, it is exactly as awesome as I was hoping and more. I’m very excited to continue game play on the actual release date.