At Bothering Your Elected Officials

So, it’s been a while since the last time we spoke. After this disastrous election cycle, words didn’t feel like they were sufficient anymore. However, after a few weeks and some historical context, I’ve realized that words are all that matter. I’m gonna keep writing while the world burns, and I hope you will too.

I’ve decided to pick this blog back up again. I’ll be updating weekly, and I’ll dedicate one post a month to political issues. First up: how to get your elected officials to actually listen to you.

A lot of people think it’s enough to just tweet your displeasure at your senators’/representative’s/governor’s/President-elect’s Twitter handle and call it a day, but interns ignore those mentions or delete them almost immediately. Some people who have worked in government say letter writing campaigns aren’t as helpful as they seem either; politicians have a form letter response for almost everything, and it’s difficult for words to make an impact when nobody actually reads them. According to former Congressional staffer Emily Ellsworth, the best way to reach your elected officials is to call them on the phone.

phone anxiety.jpg

Image created by Lucy Anh Doan at

Now, if you’re anything like me, that last sentence really stressed you out. I hate making phone calls, especially if I think that a confrontation will happen when somebody picks up. My threshold for what I consider “confrontation” is pretty low, too: I’ve been known to avoid calling to reschedule doctor’s appointments because I’m afraid they’ll be disappointed in me. However, calling your elected officials to express a political opinion isn’t a confrontation–it’s really more like leaving a voicemail, but with a real person instead of a computer. The process is simple and not scary at all. Let’s begin.

What is not sucking? Not sucking, in the realm of calling your elected officials, is defined as finding someone who actually represents you in government, calling their office, and expressing your opinion in such a way that the person on the other end of the line will pass on the message.

  1. Think about the issue you’re concerned about. Is it a federal, state or local issue? Is it related to a specific law or bill? Whom will it affect? This will determine who it is you need to call. If it’s a local issue, like concerns about your neighborhood’s trash pickup, your child’s school or your city’s electrical grid, you need to find your city or county representative–probably a councillor, mayor or commissioner, but also maybe a head of some local department, like the county Superintendent of Schools.

If it’s a state issue, like a state income tax, current state law or a bill in your state’s House or Senate, then you probably need to call someone at the state level. I tend to only call legislators at this level and above, like state representatives and state senators (who are DIFFERENT, it’s important to note, from representatives and senators at the federal level), but sometimes it’s a better idea to call the office of your state’s governor or Supreme Court. If you need a refresher on which branch of government does what at the state level, there’s a good guide to that here.

If it’s a federal issue–something that will affect people all over the country in some way–then you need to call your federal representatives, again focusing on legislators. Sometimes it’s best to start with your local government and work your way up, like Lee-Anne Walters and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha did when they were first concerned about lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan.

2. Find your representatives. If you live in Colorado, calling an Oregon senator and telling them about your positions on the issues probably won’t do a whole lot of good. Public servants are obligated to listen to their constituents, and you’re only someone’s constituent if you live in the area they represent. Here’s how you can find who represents you:

  • In the United States, every state has two federal Senators. You can find out who those are by Googling “[your state] Senators”. Easy.
  • You also have a federal representative–every state is allotted a number of these based on their state’s population. You can find out who your district’s federal Representative is here. Remember, you have only one of these.
  • You also have one representative each in your state’s House and Senate, respectively. This is where things can get complicated, because you might be in different districts for the federal House, your state Senate and your state House. Googling “who are my [your state] state representatives” will usually pull up results of .gov websites that have search engines where you can plug in your address and find out what district(s) you live in and who represents each of them. For Florida, where I live, those sites are here and here.
  • Depending on where you live, you might also have a county or city commissioner, a city council, a mayor, a school board and/or any number of other people and groups who manage things at the local level. Doing a number of Google searches like “[your city] city council”, “[your county] county commission”, “[your city] waste management”, etc will help you find out who you need to contact about which issues.

There should be a phone number associated with every one of the representatives you find during your search. In the case of federal representatives, there are usually two: one Washington, D.C. office, and at least one local office in the place they represent. When in doubt, call the local office. They get fewer calls, so your voice will stand out more.

3. Research. What is this person’s current stance on the issue you’re calling them about? If you can’t find one after searching a number of trusted sources, search for their voting records on related issues. If all else fails, have a look at their political party’s platform and assume that it will probably be close to that. You want to know what you’re in for before you get on the phone–will you be encouraging someone, or trying to persuade them to


Snopes, probably, when you fact-check Drumpf quotes. Gif from Scrubs.

change their mind? More importantly, what are the facts about this issue? Be very careful about the sources you use to find information–if something seems outrageous or fishy, check Snopes before you go off.

4. Script yourself. Going into a phone call cold always results in disaster for me, so I tend to write down a couple of key points to make before I dial. Sometimes other people who think like you do will share scripts they used when calling their own reps. Try to reference a specific law or action that’s making headlines–“I’m calling to ask about Senator [blank]’s stance on the First Amendment Defense Act” is going to get you a more specific, useful answer than “I’m calling to ask about Senator [blank’s] stance on gay rights”.

5. Make the call. Again, the person answering the phone is not going to argue with you. Usually they are interns or staffers who have been trained to do their jobs as inoffensively as possible. As long as your tone stays civil, all they will do is take down your message to the representative and share it with them at the next opportunity. Most of them even thank you after you’ve finished expressing your opinion.

6. Talk about the call. Share the script you used. Let people in your district or state know that you’re calling your representative about an issue you care about, because once other people know it’s an issue, they’ll probably call too. (This is part of why it’s so important to research before you call!) One call to a federal Senator makes a tiny impact; lots of calls make a big one. If you want action taken on your issue, encourage others to call about it too.

7. Call again. No, not now. Not today. This week sometime, maybe. Definitely next week, though.

blonde pain in the ass.jpg

It’s almost too appropriate to include a Leslie Knope image in this post.


Make it a goal to contact the representative you called regularly until they take a stance on your issue and take action. Once that issue is resolved, find another issue, start calling about that and talk about calling about that. Lots of tiny actions become parts of big movements.

Got opinions for me? Want to tell me when you call your own representatives? Tweet at me @ShelbyBouck.

At Drinking In Public


Hey! You know what sucks? Underage drinking. Don’t do that. If you’re under 21, nothing about this post should pertain to you. See you next time!

All right, now that we’ve got that disclaimer out of the way, us *~adults~* can chat in peace.

Most of the time, I still feel like a kid. I have no idea what I’m doing from one hour to the next, I can’t resist plush toys of video game characters, and one of my favorite TV shows is a cartoon. I’ve even recently gotten in on the coloring fad. But I never feel more gloriously


It’s classy if it’s sandwiched between a Cosmo and two books about French art.

like a grownup than when I’m sipping an ice-cold cocktail, flush with the knowledge that if the cops show up, I don’t have to throw my cup on the ground.


Not that’s an experience I’ve actually had. I was never interested in drinking as a kid. I’m not just covering my butt when I say that: my mom didn’t really drink, and also I was a nerd, so I didn’t get invited to parties where there were red Solo cups. (I was okay with that. Hogwarts was way more fun.) Today, I’m nowhere near “hardcore drinker” status, but I do like my Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio.

I’ve been to a couple of clubs and had an okay time, but my favorite places to hang out and sip some juice for grown-ups are intimate little holes in the wall where you can do stuff other than drink and laugh at drunk people. Indie retro arcade bars are where it’s at–liquor makes me better at Space Invaders.

Since I didn’t start drinking until I was older than all the characters in The Breakfast Club, I missed a lot of opportunities to do stupid stuff and then forget about it. I’ve been described as a “graceful drunk” by friends, which is about the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. However, I’m aware that not everyone compulsively studied alcohol safety before taking their first drink. Here are some tips that have helped keep me from becoming any bar’s “that girl”.

What is not sucking? In the world of drinking with other people, not sucking is defined as leaving the bar upright, conscious, and no more debt-ridden or social media-ruined than you were when you arrived, as well as making sure to the best of your ability that everyone else leaves that way too.

1. Hydrate. 1 drink=1 glass of water. Most bartenders will give you water for free. (They know that if you hydrate properly, you probably won’t throw up in a dark corner.)

2. Watch your tab. If you’re trying to stick to a budget when you go out, use cash. Stop at an ATM on your way out, get however much money you want to spend, and then stick to that–do not open a tab when you run out of bills.

3. Watch your drink. People are horrible, and some of them will try to hurt you by tampering with your drink. If you’re chatting with a guy (while victims of drink spiking can be any gender, drink spikers are overwhelmingly men) and he offers to get you a drink, here’s a flowchart to help you out:

Drinks for Girls.png

The above applies to everyone who has received or regularly receives offers of drinks from men, regardless of gender or actual sexual orientation. Don’t worry, people who like to buy people drinks! I made you a flowchart too:

Drinks for Guys 2.png

4. Watch your friends. Obviously regular party behavior involves a little willing embarrassment; where would we be if no one had any shame about singing “Girls Just

office girls just wanna.jpg

We are the fortunate ones. Still from The Office.

Wanna Have Fun” on karaoke? But if one of your buddies is going over the top in a way that could affect them when they’re sober, take them in hand. No texting exes, no posting incriminating photos on social media, no crying on strangers, and no putting your feet up on the bar. Anyone exhibiting this kind of behavior should be gently coaxed into drinking some water and eating a little junk food.


5. Leave no one behind. Everyone should have an idea of how they’re getting home before they start drinking. Sucky people leave their friends to fend for themselves against predators, questionable transportation choices, and alcohol-driven impulses to stand on non-floor surfaces. If you see someone whose group has abandoned them, try to make friends. Get some water in them and encourage them to call an Uber or take the bus.

If you’re a girl talking to another girl, this should not be difficult, as drunk girls are the nicest people in the world. In my experience, when women drink, they become eloquent angels who have something kind to say about every other woman they see. I have been complimented more beautifully and effusively by drunk girls than I have by any other group of people, intoxicated or otherwise.

Regardless of gender presentation, always ask before touching people, introduce yourself, and explain to them why you want to help. Something like “I’m worried about you, and I want to make sure you get home safe” can help ease tension. If you approach people as respectfully as possible and genuinely want to help, with no creepy intentions, it should be okay.

However, it’s also important to listen. If they refuse your help, don’t push. Back off and try to find someone else to help them. If the drunk loner in question is belligerent or creepy, let security or the bartender know that you’re concerned about them and how they’re getting home–do not engage.

Drink responsibly, everyone. For more stuff like this, follow me on Twitter and like this blog on Facebook.

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 17

Ok… so, definitely not great at the whole “blogging every day” thing. But since today’s theme, “Where do you work?” is kind of impossible right now for reasons I’ve already covered, I’ve decided to go back and do a couple themes that I missed.

sorry album.png

Love me some Meg Myers.

This first one, music, is weirdly emotional for me. I have a history of changing my music tastes based on who I’m friends with or dating at the time–that stopped a couple of years ago, so I’ve had some time to actually develop my own taste. Here it is.

My 10 Favorite Albums Right Now

  1. Sorry, Meg Myers
    • Highlights: “Desire”, “Lemon Eyes”, “Motel”
  2. Hamilton, Original Broadway Cast
    • Highlights: literally all of them, no bad songs, everything is great but you can’t play it on shuffle because you’ll be bopping along to “My Shot” and then “It’s Quiet Uptown” starts and you just. Start crying
  3. Waitress, Original Broadway Cast
    • Highlights: “Opening Up”, “What’s Inside”, “She Used to Be Mine”, “Bad Idea”
  4. Badlands, Halsey
    • Highlights: “Roman Holiday”, “Castle”, “Control”
  5. Infinity On High, Fall Out Boy (I know, I know, what year is it)
    • Highlights: “Bang the Doldrums”, “thnks fr th mmrs”, “Fame < Infamy”
  6. ACT ONE, Marian Hill
    • Highlights: “Down”, “I Want You”, “Bout You”
  7. American Beauty/American Psycho, Fall Out Boy
    • Highlights: “Uma Thurman”, “Jet Pack Blues”, “Immortals”
  8. Pink Friday… Roman Reloaded, Nicki Minaj
    • Highlights: “Beautiful Sinner”, “Marilyn Monroe”, “Va Va Voom”
  9. Red, Taylor Swift
    • Highlights: “State of Grace”, “All Too Well”, “Treacherous”
  10. The Fool, Ryn Weaver
    • Highlights: “OctaHate”, “Sail On”, “Pierre”

These are some choice items from my bucket list: things I want to do before I die. Some of them are a little more immediately achievable than others. For example, I’m probably never going to do #3 until I’m actually on my deathbed.

My Bucket List

  1. Live in Europe
  2. Swim with whales
  3. Tell all of my secrets and live in a state of total honesty
  4. See the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque
  5. See the autumn leaves in Vermont
  6. Be the village witch in a big-city apartment with lots of plants and constantly bubbling glass tubes, a la Kiki’s Delivery Service
  7. Write a series of young-adult fantasy novels
  8. Write some young-adult contemporary fiction
  9. Write some fiction for grown-ups
  10. Be a recognized regular at a local bookstore

What music do you like? What’s on your bucket list? Come talk to me on Twitter and make sure to like this blog on Facebook

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 9

What’s in your purse?

Oh… oh boy. See, the answer to this depends on which purse you’re talking about. See, in my tiny, adorable Betsey Johnson bag from TJ Maxx with the little ladybugs on it, I have

  • my keys
  • my phone
  • my debit card
  • my driver’s license
  • a new Chipotle membership card (because I have a problem)
  • my Torrid Insider credit card (because I Have A Problem)
  • a Torrid gift card (because I Returned Some Bras Without a Receipt)
  • a Publix gift card (because My Mom is Great)
  • an inhaler (because I have asthma)
  • an Epi-Pen (because tree nuts will kill me)

But, see… I can’t always carry that bag, because I’m a grown woman and grown women have a lot of stuff. So, in my Great Big Functional But Still Cute Michael Kors bag (also from TJ Maxx),

michael kors.jpg

My big bag o’ shame.

there is

  • a wallet containing other forms of ID and cards
  • some CVS receipts that are 2 months old (in case I ever need an expired coupon for tampons)
  • a copy of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
  • two pairs of sunglasses
  • a pair of 3D glasses I accidentally took out of Finding Dory
  • some earbuds
  • a flyer explaining the Chipotle rewards program
  • a bag from the dentist (contents: 1 toothbrush, 1 tiny tube toothpaste)
  • a bookmark from my local library
  • a dead Barnes & Noble gift card
  • seven loose mints
  • ten pens: 1 Sharpie Extra-Fine Point, 9 Pilot G2-07s
  • 3 lipsticks: 2 Elf Cosmetics, 1 Tarte
  • receipt from the FDLE, dated May 20th, from the background check I had to pay for in order to start working at my last job
  • Torrid coupons, expired 1 month
  • 1 empty saltine box
  • 2 empty boxes of generic Claritin
  • business card from my eye doctor
  • a bookmark from my favorite local bookstore
  • a checkbook, empty except for carbon copies
  • a flyer for a local production of Sondheim’s Assassins, which my friend Ira is performing in this week
  • a ColourPop contour stick in Dove
  • several Starbucks napkins

What’s in your purse? (Or your… I dunno, pants pockets, if you’re a guy. What do you people even carry around??) Let me know on Twitter.


31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 8

What are you reading? 

First, a note: turns out I suck a little bit at this whole daily-blogging thing. In my own defense:

  • Day 4: “Name your favorite 5 blogs” has pretty much been taken care of on my “Friends Who Don’t Suck” page. Also, it was the 4th of July and I was mixing Everclear, blue Kool-Aid and grenadine at a barbecue like a True American.
  • Day 5: “Share the best advice you ever got” is deep as heck and I’m still working on it
  • Day 6: “Something for your kids to know” is irrelevant because I don’t have kids and don’t want them
  • Day 7: “Share your earliest memory” is boring: I’m three years old and receiving ear drops in a hospital parking lot.

Great. Now we’re caught up.

I’m always reading something–it’s usually a paper book, though some of my favorite authors (Shira Glassman, R.L. Naquin, and Briana Morgan come to mind) are primarily digital. At the moment, because I am an unemployed masochist, I’m tackling Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, otherwise known as the book that inspired the Tony/Grammy-award winning musical Hamilton. It’s 700 pages of history, plus another hundred of bibliography, so it’s not exactly light reading… unless you’re Hermione Granger.

Best tidbit so far: according to an astrological chart I did with an app on my phone, Alexander Hamilton is a quintuple Capricorn. That explains a lot. Basically it just means 5 of the planets visible from Earth were in the Capricorn “zone” of the sky when the ten-dollar founding father without a father was born in St. Kitts. If you’re into astrology, you’re probably cringing. One-planet Capricorns are stubborn–now raise that to the fifth power. This text exchange sums it up:

quintuple capricorn.jpg

That’s all I’ve got today. What are you reading? Come talk to me about it on Twitter


31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 3

Why do you blog? 

Mostly it’s to keep myself from losing my mind.

There’s also some reasoning in there about helping people and junk, but to be fair, a lot of the reason why I blog is selfish. I just need a place to keep my words where people will see them.

The reason I blog here is because of all the reasons I talked about in my last post–I want to help people realize it’s okay to be okay instead of great all the time. We see so much on social media about how to be Supermom, how to look like a model, how to be the Pinterest-perfect homemaker while also holding down a killer executive career and going out with friends every night. That’s not what life looks like for most people. If my friends and I are any indication, life mostly looks like deciding whether to do the laundry or just sniff test something to wear while you watch Netflix. And, for a generation of people that’s been royally screwed over re: the environment and the economy, sometimes that’s okay.

I want to make people happy with themselves. That’s why I write what I write. But the reason I write at all is mostly because if I didn’t, I’d go completely stir-crazy inside my head, home of the question “Why aren’t pandas called orca bears?”

Orca_porpoising.jpg panda eating.jpg

See??? It’s RIGHT THERE. Science has missed an opportunity, I tell ya.

31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 2

Day 2: What’s the meaning of your blog name?

The How Not to Suck Blog started as a way for me to combat lifelong perfectionism. I’ve since adopted the philosophy that being great at things you’re passionate about is, well, great–but it’s impossible to be great at everything. We’re human. We’ve only got so much energy, and physics tells us that energy cannot be created. Therefore, if we want to conserve our energy for the things we care about, we’ve gotta let some stuff go.

However, even the stuff you don’t necessarily love sometimes has to get done. Cooking. Social dancing. Feeling (ugh) feelings. So you’ve got to be adequate at most things, even if you don’t like them all that much.

Basically, The How Not To Suck Blog is all about getting okay with being okay. You don’t have to be the world’s best or your country’s best or your family’s best at everything. You just have to stay alive and hopefully have fun doing it.

That got serious fast. Here are some public domain red pandas.

red-panda-1182069_960_720.jpg red-panda-597615_960_720.jpg


If you like competence, realistic life philosophies and endangered animals, you should follow me on Twitter and like this blog on Facebook


31 Day Blog Challenge: Day 1

Hey, everybody!

Because of my aforementioned unemployment and general need to keep busy, I’ve decided to participate in a blog challenge I found on Pinterest–apparently it came from the now-defunct

31 day blog challenge.jpg

If you’re particularly astute, you might have noticed that this is the post for Day One.

This is the most recent photo of me, and the one I would like put on TV if I discover crude oil in my apartment:

red lipstick selfie.jpg

Of particular note in this photo:

  • my shirt, which I stole from my friend Tai and which has a pictorial depiction of the lyrics to “Friday I’m in Love” printed on the front. I like this shirt because I think it’s clever and the whole off-the-shoulder neckline thing is flattering to what my high school drama teacher deemed my “linebacker shoulders”.
  • my lipstick (MAC Ruby Woo) and eyebrows (Maybelline Eye Studio Brow Drama Pomade Crayon in Deep Brown), which look fantastic
  • my crystal pendant, which I wear everywhere
  • my hair, cut and styled by the fabulous Chisa Rollins, recent graduate of the North Florida Cosmetology Institute and CEO of the art non-profit Barbi3 Headz
  • the vitamins and Aleve on the table behind me
  • the faint outline on the wall of the whiteboard I hung up three years ago to keep track (with my roommates) of who last emptied the dishwasher and took out the trash (who says I’m type A?)

As far as introductions go…

Hi. I’m Shelby, and I’m just trying not to suck. I recently graduated from Florida State University with a double major in English (with a concentration in creative writing) and Media/Communications Studies. Basically, I can make words and tell you, in highly technical language, why Parks and Recreation is the best sitcom ever to be on TV.* I’m currently looking for a job opening that could use someone with those skills.

I like reading books, playing video games, petting animals and traveling in order to do those things in places other than my apartment. I’m not crazy about interacting with humans IRL, cleaning or cooking, but I do them anyway because in order to do the things I like, I have to be alive.

I actually really enjoy talking to people online, so if we haven’t “met” on Twitter yet, tweet at me! Tell me about stuff you like, stuff you hate, what you ate for lunch… seriously, whatever. I’m at Starbucks right now because the power is out in my apartment.

*If any of my prospective employers are reading this, my degree also carries with it a certain amount of “people skill” and advertising and marketing ability. It’s useful.

At Staying Busy

I’ve recently learned something about myself: I hate unemployment.

This did not come as a shock. I’m bad at relaxing; I’ve always felt a nervous need to be productive at all hours of the day, whether that productivity was real or imagined. I played

staying busy

Entertaining yourself doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. I wish I knew where this image originated.

a lot of The Sims 2 when I was a kid. It felt like doing something important, because in that game you are basically God, but in reality I was just seeing what would happen if tiny animated versions of my friends from school dated each other.

This is the same sort of productivity I’ve embraced for now–the kind that keeps your mind busy, even if it doesn’t necessarily end world hunger. Sometimes creativity and activity in general have fallow periods, and that’s okay. Here’s how to deal if you’re in the middle of one yourself.

What is not sucking? Not sucking is defined in the realm of keeping oneself busy as making sure one is physically, mentally and emotionally stimulated enough not to develop adverse symptoms of boredom.

1. Spread everything out. Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t want to leave your friend’s house when your parents showed up, so you’d take forever to put your shoes on? Now’s the time to pull that niche skill set back out.

For example, my schedule this week looks like this:


  • shave below knee
  • apply for jobs
  • write thank-you notes
  • pay rent


  • shave above knee
  • apply for jobs
  • dentist appointment
  • grocery shop


  • shave Duchovny (I have taken on a freelance position as David Duchovny’s barber)*
  • apply for jobs
  • eye appointment
  • return bras to Torrid

And so on. If I were employed, I could probably take care of all these errands in a weekend (and/or shave my entire legs in the shower). However, since I’ve got a lot of time on my hands, I need to spread out my productivity or I will feel like a boss for twelve hours and then like a lump the rest of the week.

joey friends

Hey, work is work, Joe. Still from Friends.

I can’t take credit for this method of staying sane. I actually got it from an episode of Friends, where Joey, the friends’ resident expert on unemployment, schools Ross on the risks of being too productive too early in the week.

2. Explore. You don’t need a lot of money to do this. Go to a neighborhood in your city that you haven’t spent a lot of time in, go to the next town over, cross a state line and head to a flea market. Be safe, but don’t be afraid to get a little messy. If you just can’t bring yourself to leave the house–and in this summer heat, I don’t blame you–try a new show on Netflix, read a book that’s outside your preferred genre, or go on Spotify’s Explore playlist and get hip to some new artists.

3. Take care of yourself. After all, it’s something to do. Shower every day. Shave, if that’s your thing. Wash your face, moisturize everything, cook healthy meals, exercise. Experiment with makeup. Yes, even if you’re a guy. There’s no law on the books that says you can’t cover a zit or draw a glittery line on your eyelid just because you identify as a dude.

4. Develop a new hobby. I, personally, have been throwing myself into strategy-based video games like Civilization V. Your new hobby doesn’t have to make you any money or make you into a more highly effective person. It just has to be enjoyable and take up time

catherine the great

I’m currently playing through Civ V as Catherine the Great of Russia.

and mental energy. Although, I guess, if you really wanted extra credit, your new hobby could be volunteering at a shelter, phone banking for your favorite political candidate, or learning a new language. But honestly, if you’re unemployed, you’re about as capitalistically viable as a Chevy Nova already, so don’t feel bad about leaning into it.

5. Get back on the horse. If you lost your job, you should apply for three to five new jobs per day. That way you get yourself out there without going insane because oh my gosh I already uploaded my resume why do you need me to fill out an hour’s worth of employment and educational history when I ALREADY GAVE IT TO YOU? 

If you just exited a romantic relationship or got dumped by your social group–or, hell, if you moved–you should focus at least an hour or two a day on finding places to meet new people, in real life, in your geographic area. (MeetUp is a great app for this.)

Dry spells suck. They just do. But they don’t last forever.

If you’ve got time on your hands, come talk to me on Twitter. Don’t forget to like this blog on Facebook, too!

*David Duchovny’s lawyers** have asked me to clarify that this is a joke.

**That was also a joke. I’m not important enough for them to notice me. Let’s keep it that way. Also, this whole schtick was much funnier to me in the shower this morning.

At Job Interviews

In the acting community, it’s well known that auditioning is a separate skill from actual performing. The problem is that, if you don’t have an established reel of filmed performances to show casting directors, auditioning is the only way for them to get a sense of your prowess, style and look. Thanks to this, the world’s next Meryl Streep could be in a studio apartment with six roommates somewhere in L.A. because she can’t pick a decent two-minute dramatic monologue.

Job interviews are pretty much just auditions for non-entertainers. You could be the best accountant, marketer, salesperson or even casting director in the world, but if you’re also the world’s worst interviewer, you’re probably not going to get the chance to show that off. It’s an ugly system, but it’s the way it is.

So far, my bouncing back plan has been a moderate success. I had a job for about two weeks, before the company decided to outsource said job to a firm–but I walked out with a paycheck and a promised recommendation, so that’s good.

road to el dorado


My philosophy right now is “it could be a lot worse”. After two budget-related layoffs in two months, this is more out of paranoia than Pollyanna-like positivity. If The Road to El Dorado is any indication, the moment you think it couldn’t get any worse is the moment it does.

Luckily, I’m actually not half bad at interviews. I clean up good, I dress well, I know when to be funny and when to shut up (most of the time)–and since all my elementary school report cards say “A joy to have in class!”, I assume I must be convincing people that I’m good to have around, however briefly. I may not yet be great at keeping an office job, but I can sure get one like a champ.

If you’re worried about convincing others that you’re a good investment (or at least not going to be That Weird Person who hangs out at the coffee machine and makes awkward small talk), here are some tips to improve your interview game.

1. Work on your handshake. Short, firm, but not bone crunching, while making eye contact. There are YouTube tutorials for this, folks.

2. Do some recon. Google exists for a reason: finding pictures of Jennifer Lopez’s dress from the 2000 Grammy Awards.

No, wait… that’s Google Images. Regular Google exists so that you can find information about your prospective employers.

Focus on names first: the name of the company, the person who will be interviewing you, the owner or CEO of the company, any parent companies that the company operates under, any big clients the company serves if that information is public… basically any name that could come up in the interview.

Make sure you also find out the basics of what the company does and what you would be doing for them if they hired you. Try and get a sense of the company’s image. Is it fun and innovative, like Google? Is it serious and fast-paced, like The New York Times? Is it a little weird and sarcastic, like Cards Against Humanity? These are all clues as to not only how you should act in the interview, but whether you’d like working at that company at all. If you don’t speak French, you probably shouldn’t work for Le Monde. 

3. Assemble your outfit. Unless somebody at the office tells you otherwise, dress business casual for your interview. Here’s what that means specifically, but in general: get a blazer, leave your jeans and t-shirts at home, wear closed-toe shoes, and make sure nobody can see your underwear. Basically, make it so that nobody could object to what you’re wearing for safety- or legally-related reasons.

4. Clean up your social media. To some people, this means removing everything from your social media that anyone could disagree with ever, or that implies you have a life outside of work. To me, this means a) never posting anything vicious, prejudiced or illegal online and b) making as many of my social media private as possible. (Obviously Twitter is a different story.) If you’re in a creative field, it’ll be to your benefit to be social media-famous–or at least present. If you’re concerned about intersecting your professional and personal lives, make separate accounts: one Twitter feed for your work, and another for your live tweets of Scandal. 

5. Be early. Google directions from your house to the location of your interview. Find out how long it’s going to take you to get there, and then double that time to figure out when you should leave. Worst case scenario, you end up getting there 20 minutes early and have to sit and wait in the parking lot until five minutes before your interview time so you don’t look like a loser. Second worst case scenario, you get lost and end up getting to your interview on time because you left early, you well-prepared little minx.

job interview stock

“What is your biggest strength?” “I never forward chain emails.” “You’re hired.”

6. Talk like a person. Make yourself look good, but don’t lie. Don’t say your biggest weakness is that you “care too much”. Be relatively formal, but avoid stiffness. Read the room–sometimes (not always) it’s appropriate to make your interviewer laugh.

7. Follow up. Send a handwritten thank you note to the person who interviewed you. Say you appreciated them taking the time to talk to you, and that you hope you can find a way to work together in the future. If your handwriting is hopeless, you can send an email, but make sure your email signature is professional. Regardless of whether you get the job or not, it’s important to remember that you’ll eventually get job. It’s the only way to stay sane–and, as far as I know, as long as you keep applying, it’s true.

Good luck on the hunt, folks. Tell me about your job search experience on Twitter, and make sure to like this blog on Facebook!