What’s in my purse

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I remember reading articles in magazines where famous women would empty out their purses for magazines and talk about the contents. They probably got paid to pimp certain brands and products. I understand that I’m not famous and no one cares what’s in my purse, but I thought it’d be fun to write a post about it anyway.

  1. Phone. Okay, not really my phone. But how to take pictures of your phone with your phone? I haven’t gotten to that level of ninja yet. iPhone 6s, if you’re curious. I don’t like that the 7 has a nub camera that sticks out. Or that I have to drill my own headphone jack.
  2. Wallet. It’s not big enough for all the cards I want with me so that leads us to…
  3. Wallet addition. This holds my slightly-less-commonly used cards.
  4. Shopping sac. Yeah, the black rectangle with reindeer and trees. It’s from Monoprix and self-declares as the best shopping sac in the world.
  5. Floss. Worst feeling ever: something stuck between your teeth that you keep trying to dislodge with your tongue. But it won’t budge.
  6. Keys. The boat keychain lets me hang my keys near the door.
  7. Chapstick. Actually, I haven’t needed this in a while. Maybe I should remove it. I’m told this chapstick makes me look like I’ve been feasting on fatty pork. Attractive!
  8. Pen. I can only remember to do things if I write them on my hand. I don’t have the habit of checking notes or productivity apps, but my hand is pretty much always in plain view. Otherwise I have bigger problems.
  9. Comb. I shed like a Persian cat in summer. If I combed my hair inside the apartment my boyfriend would probably evict me.

Before you ask, I don’t have any makeup in my purse because I don’t know anything about it. I sometimes participate in studies where they pay me to apply makeup to my face and report back if I develop a rash, so I’ve decided I only wear makeup if I’m getting paid to do so. Plus, makeup doesn’t make me look cute. It makes me look like Donald Trump.

Yeah, you should quit your job

Disclaimer: I don’t have a degree in life coaching and no, you shouldn’t be taking advice from a stranger on the internet who doesn’t know you or your situation at all.

Lately several friends have asked “should I just quit my job?” They tell me they’re unfulfilled, bored, frustrated with management. I always tell them “If you can afford to, then do it.” Note: I don’t ask them if they have plans. I don’t ask what they would do instead and whether they’d make the same money. I’m just an enabler. Here’s why.

There’s a guy I knew, let’s call him Ol’ Mac. He’s the father of one of my exes. Ol’ Mac was a responsible family man with two kids, so he stayed for years at a job he hated. He woke up every morning at 5am to drive about an hour to work and would get home pretty late most nights. He hated his job so much that his wife would sometimes find him staring at his socks in the morning. When asked what he was doing he’d miserably say “I’m thinking about which one goes on which foot.” He stuck it out until his official retirement day so he could get a full pension. (Yeah, I know this isn’t sounding like a story about quitting your job. Just wait for it.)

So, you’d think he’d be delighted with retirement, right? Well, after watching golf on tv and snoozing most days for a while, Ol’ Mac began to feel bored and restless. He took on odd jobs to get him out of the house. Then word got around that he was looking to come out of retirement, and he was offered a job doing the things he liked about his old job (hands on technical stuff) with none of the parts he didn’t (bureaucratic managers who didn’t know what they were talking about). It was a more relaxed schedule: one week on, one week off. It even paid better than his old job.

What can we learn from this one anecdote? We all know that the plural of anecdote is not “evidence” but that being said, I’ve heard variations of Ol’ Mac’s story repeatedly. People quit their jobs without knowing exactly what comes next, but they figure it out. And in all cases, they’re happier than before they quit. So if you’re miserable or frustrated at your job and you live for the weekends, save money until you can live without a job for a few months, then quit. You’ll figure it out too.

Airbnb outside Geneva

On a recent trip, we stayed at an Airbnb about 20 minutes outside Geneva, on the French side. Well, in the French countryside. The interesting thing about this place was that the owner is a semi-retired former head of operations at luxury hotels around the world. Our stay was a boutique hotel experience at a reasonable price.

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This was our concierge and bedwarmer, the ever-purring Robert. Actually, Robert is female, but our host said “She’s too ugly for a girl name.” Robert was found in a hotel parking lot, abandoned and bloodied from being bullied by other more street-wise cats. Now recovered, she spends her time doing her best carpet impression.

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This was our deck and pool. Another plus for the Airbnb experience is never having to share the pool with other hotel guests. Or cats for that matter. Robert was all mine!

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Our room — I should’ve gotten more of the details. There were antique doors, vintage photographs: small touches that made the place feel special.

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Our private living room. The field beyond the picture window had horses. I should’ve gotten a picture of that, it was delightful.

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“Close your door at night or she’ll end up in your bed. And she snores like a pig,” warned our host. I didn’t mind at all. I wanted to catnap her. Apparently she has a large fan following on Facebook. I’ll update you when I find her page.

My ideal job

When I left my job as a software engineer, I tried to figure out what I really wanted in a job. There were a few options that seemed ideal, but don’t exactly have websites with giant “APPLY NOW!” buttons. You know, things like getting paid $10,000-$50,000 to tweet, or getting paid to travel and write about it.

But since those jobs are hard to find, I started thinking about the components of those jobs that make them attractive. Here they are:

Rewards efficiency

At my old job, being efficient meant you got more work. Even if you had a set number of tasks assigned at the beginning of the week, finishing them didn’t mean you could have the rest of the week as paid vacation. There was no incentive to work efficiently, besides that maybe after doing this for months or years, someone might notice and give you a raise. That process is opaque and subjective though, so it didn’t interest me. I want a job that explicitly rewards efficiency. Such as tweeting for money: if you think of what to say and tweet it in 1 minute, you’ve made $10k in a minute. If it takes you longer, your rate is lower.

Work as much or as little as you like

I used to have “unlimited paid time off*” — and you know what the asterisk means. It means “with the permission of your manager, so probably only about two or three weeks per year.” I don’t want that. I want the ability to decide each week, or even each day, whether I want to work. If not, the process should be as simple as emailing “Not coming today / this week / this month. Please find a replacement. Will return on [date].” And my job, when I return, would be right there waiting for me.

Does not require thinking (about anything I don’t want to think about)

If you’ve ever tried this, you’ll know it’s hard. Some people are lucky, and programming questions happen to fascinate them. But imagine if the world were turned inside out and the high paying jobs in the world involved dreaming up different ways of applying makeup. All day. That would get mind-numbingly dull pretty fast, right? I didn’t get paid enough to think about things I had no interest in. I can’t do it again.

Zero unnecessary commute time

If I don’t get paid to commute, there’s no point in me doing it. I find that working in an office setting is distracting, and commuting takes up some of my best thinking time. I get zilch out of meetings I couldn’t have gotten through a quick instant message or email exchange with the relevant party. Now, if I were getting paid to review a resort in Thailand, then yes, the commute is necessary. If it’s possible to do all of the work remotely but I’m not allowed to? Not the job for me.

High hourly salary

Clearer Thinking has a great quiz to get you started on evaluating how much your time is worth. I took the quiz and my time is worth about $100/hr to me. So it doesn’t make sense for me to take any jobs that pay less than that, as long as I’m managing to survive otherwise. Nb: I had to edit this section’s title from “high salary” because generally, high salary jobs reward presence rather than efficiency. (Think of investment bankers and lawyers who have to be at the office 80+ hours a week).

Does not benefit someone else more for working less

What’s this about? Well, think of the bulk of tech companies, where engineers make the product and the CEO earns several orders of magnitude more in salary/stock. What does a CEO do to justify this discrepancy? I haven’t heard any good explanations, but I’m all ears if you have one.

So, what exactly does that leave? 

These are the things that matter to me, personally, in a job. I’ve been trying to figure out for the past few years where this leaves me, and I have a few non-obvious ideas I’ll link here as I add full posts about them:

mystery shopping

reselling

Calvi, Corsica

We ferried over from the French mainland (Nice), and N drove hours in the dark to get us to Calvi. Terrifying windy roads with no lighting. The ferries forbid passengers from staying in their cars. For safety reasons, so they say. But they also don’t just give you accommodations. No. Renting a single bed in a room that’s barely large enough to move in will cost more than the average AirBnB in Paris. So we slept on the floor, amongst barking dogs (yes, everyone and their mother had a dog on the Corsica ferry) and inconsolable babies under florescent lights. My personal hell.

Calvi appeals to the type of person whose country is too young to have seen much history, and whose cities are full of buildings that are blank and modern. This is the cathedral in the citadelle. It looks abandoned — like something from a ghost town.

This is a still-occupied building, also inside the citadelle. See the greenish door on the second floor that just opens into thin air?

We had lunch on this patch of grass near the fortification wall. This cat was friendly, but had ulterior motives. He kept us company until we finished eating and there were no more scraps for him.

View from the wall

We wandered the town a little, but there wasn’t much there.

Following a delicious smell, we found a tiny bakeshop selling cookies — canistrelli, a Corsican specialty. Think, a crunchy rather than sandy shortbread with flavors like lemon zest and salted caramel.

The cashier pictured here chatted with us on her smoking break. She said she felt like a failure, working at a cookie shop at the age of thirtysomething. But people work and work hard every day so that they can go to a place like Corsica for two weeks out of the year. She gets to spend every day there. It’s too bad that everyone has the same basic image of success: the person who has a well-respected career, makes tons of money, owns lots of stuff.

The beach was covered in brown fur balls. We never figured out what they were, exactly, but we saw a woman collecting a plastic bag full of them. We asked her, and she shrugged. “I just like using them to decorate.”

We stayed at a “residence” — basically a wooded area full of self-sufficient cabins with fully equipped kitchens, bathrooms, showers, etc. This is a view along the walk home.

Our place was also close to the sea, so we went for a sunset. On the way we saw this shell pink house that looked like something you would find in California. There were also half-built structures with no evidence that work was continuing. Maybe illegal coastline development is a problem.

Some backstory — at the supermarket I insisted we get a can of tartiflette for dinner. A large can. I had such nice memories of it that I sort of forgot how crappy canned versions of things usually are. This was sour and not at all like real tartiflette. Yes, I’ve learned my lesson. We were eating it outside our cabin and this dog came sniffing around, looking hopeful. So we wiped down the tartiflette can with all of our remaining bread and gave it to her. She was so happy that she followed us down to the sea for our evening walk. We pretty much thought we had a dog. Permanently.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. On the path home, a fluffed-up, aggressive pomeranian barked at her, blocking her way. She turned back to the sea and we never saw her again. I hope she didn’t starve to death out there.

This was the sunset from our little sea cove.

Cecilia

This is my cat. She actually does go crazy daily. Usually after a long nap or something under the couch. She rushes from room to room with a crazed look in her eyes and either attacks or acts terribly frightened of legs.

The text says:

C is for Cecilia the cat, who snorts coke under the couch and comes back crazy

Please see here for other entries in this series and/or an explanation.

Anglerfish

I once saw a Kindle cover for one of the old Kindles. The ones without a light. Well, the cover had a goofy light that arched forward over the Kindle screen. It made me think of anglerfish.

The text says

A is for angler fish, who doesn’t need the light, since she can’t read anyway.

Please see here for other entries in this series and/or an explanation.