Would you like your receipt?

I remember the days when you could go into a store and order a cup of coffee or buy a pack of gum and the clerk would just hand you a receipt.

But sadly, the world has changed. Now, many establishments offer you a choice, a decision to make. It seems simple enough. It’s a yes or no question.

“Do you want your receipt?”

I don’t know why this is so hard for me. I’m prepared for the paper versus plastic debate. I know whether I’m paying cash or credit. I’m ready to answer “no” when they try to sign me up for their rewards program.

But for some reason I can’t decide if I need that little piece of paper. I stand there, with my mouth hung open, “uh…. yes … no, wait.” I look to the other customers for a signal. What do you guys think? “Um.. No. Hold on. Yes, I want it.”

It’s even worse than the “would you like the receipt with you or in the bag” question. I don’t know. Either hand it to me or stuff it in the bag. I really don’t care. And maybe that’s why I have such a problem with the question. I guess I really don’t care. It’s usually asked by a fast food type restaurant and I know I’m not planning to return the veggie burrito I just scarfed down. Therefore, do I need the receipt? I still don’t know.

So, I make random, haphazard decisions, clearly based on whim. Sometimes, it’s a yes. Sometimes it’s a no. But, I can’t say that I’m comfortable with the decisions I’m making.

See, this is what happens when I say no: I watch as the receipt is ripped from the register, crumpled in the hand of cashier and then tossed into the trash beside them. I stifle a gasp. Fear runs down my spine. What if I really do need that receipt? How will I know they didn’t over charge me? What if there is super-secret information on that receipt that can now be harvested and used against me by the coffee making people?

But then this is what happens when I say yes: Receipts upon receipts pile up around me.

Now, instead of sitting in the trash at the local Starbucks, they’re lingering in my purse.

They take up residence in purses I haven’t used in years.

There’s even more in this purse, than in my current purse.

According to the plethora of receipts, I haven’t used this purse since June, 2011.

Some of them even get to live in this ceramic pot.

I don’t know why some grocery store and coffee receipts are more special than others, but they are. That is why they get crammed in the ceramic pot with the coupons I may or may not use and a birthday card from 3 years ago.

So, I fee like I need a plan, a strategy. Should I answer “yes” across the board? Or give a “no” if it’s less than $10? Less than $20? Maybe a “yes” for all goods from Starbucks, so they can’t harvest that super-secret information about me?

Or, I can just continue what I’m doing.

I don’t know. It’s just too stressful. Retailers, please, just make the decision for me. Just give me the receipt. And don’t you dare ask me if I want it printed or emailed.

How to start and manage a blog (In the Real World)

computer cat

Image via Wilson Afonso via Flickr Creative Commons.

Day 1: Begin with the realization that you don’t spend enough time sitting on your behind, staring at a computer monitor. Then, conclude that the best way to remedy this problem is to say to yourself: “I think I’ll start a blog.”

Day 3: Figure out what the heck goes into creating a blog and spend a ridiculous amount of time deciding on the perfect shade of pink for your background.

Day 4: Become uncharacteristically indecisive and continue to tweak the background color and header image until you have them just right.

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Maybe this one… No. Not enough color.

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Now it has too much color.

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Maybe this one? No. It doesn’t seem right either. Perhaps I should take a few more photos…

Day 21: Now that the blog’s appearance is finally right, you begin to think about your blog content. Hmmmm….. what the heck are your going to write about?

Day 23: Realize there are all these blog memes out there and you want to participate in all of them. Then, being the realistic person you are, you whittle it down to Teaser Tuesday and Wordless Wednesday, and then two other posts a week. You can post four times a week. It will be easy. You even promise yourself that you will keep to your blog schedule, with the hope of having your blog posts typed and ready to go ahead of schedule.

Day 25: Become super psyched about your new blog and its awesomeness. Prepare six blog posts in advance, just to give yourself a little content to fall back on, should you ever fall behind. The exercise seems a little silly, because you won’t fall behind. You’re dedicated and it will be easy.

Day 30: Click the publish button on your first post, knowing that it’s unlikely anyone will read it. But there’s a little hope, just a little, that someone will stumble upon it and see it for the masterpiece that it is.

Day 31: Feel your heart flutter the next morning when you receive notification that you have a new follower. Yes, you have a follower… and it’s not your mom.

excited kid

How you’ll look when you get your first follower. (Image courtesy Tim Parkinson via Flickr Creative Commons)

Visit their blog to see if you want to follow them, surely you will because you must have common interests. Your heart flutter will now become crushing disappointment. They have no interest in you or your blog. They want to sell you something.

unhappy kid

How you’ll look when you realize that person isn’t really interested in your blog, or they are a robot. (Image courtesy Peter Dedina via Flickr Creative Commons)

Day 33: Publish your second post and wait for the likes and comments to roll in. Keep your eye on that magical notification button on the top of your screen. You wait for it to turn orange, but it doesn’t. Maybe it’s like the saying about watched water not boiling. You decide to step away and check back later.

Day 33, five minutes later: Certain that you’ve given it enough time you check for the orange button. You’re likely disappointed, but you still hold your head high and continue your blogging quest.

Day 70: Prepare for Monday’s blog post. It’s Tuesday, but hopefully no one will notice. You’re short on time, so you scroll through your pre-prepared blog posts. Sigh when you discover you’ve already used them all. Yes, in six weeks you’ve gone through all six of them. Quickly throw something together and hope your followers still like you. Strangely, this becomes one of your most popular posts.

Day 120: You’ve now been blogging for a few months and have found some great blogging friends (Hi everyone!). Your number of followers continues to go up and you finally understand what the blogging community is about.

Day 140: Allow your hope to slowly fade away. Blogging takes way more commitment than you ever anticipated. But you will persevere. Just maybe with one less post a week. No one will notice, right?

Day 160: You’ve now gone a whole week without posting. You feel guilty, but assure yourself that it won’t happen again.

Day 174: It’s happened again. Tell yourself that it’s okay; everyone gets busy now and then. You’ll do better in the future.

Day 178: Spend a couple hours catching up on your reader. Begin to wonder if those people who post 2, 3, 4, or 28 times a day are really human. You begin to wonder if they are aliens, or a type of superhero you’ve never heard of. Or perhaps they are human, but they’ve become immune to the most virulent time wasters of the Internet. Or they don’t spend hours researching the difference between lay and lie, only to forget the next day, so they just avoid use of the words for all eternity. Anyone? Anyone?

aliens

The very prolific alien blog writers (Image courtesy Interdimensional Guardians via Flickr Creative Commons)

Day 192: Hit the publish button on your 59th post. Not only was it posted on the day it was due, it was actually written in advance. Yep, you’re back on track… for now. You consider writing a few back-up posts, in case you become swamped again in the future… Nah. You won’t fall behind again, you’re sure of it…

I was going to write this post a week ago, but…

You’re given a month’s notice of the impending deadline. A week goes by, then two. Soon, the day arrives. It’s time for your four-hour presentation. Or your in-laws are about to knock on your front door. Or it’s your uncle’s pet iguana’s birthday.

iguana

Igor at his birthday party.
(Image courtesy Patrick Buechner via Flickr)

But you’ve only rehearsed half your presentation,  you haven’t made the guest room bed and you have no present for Igor, the Iguana. Not even a card. You scramble to throw something together. Perhaps a handmade card, with a narwhal on it. Not your proudest moment, but for some of us it happens all too often.

norwal card

Image courtesy Laine Trees via Flickr.

Procrastination. We’re all guilty. I’m procrastinating right now. There are a few things I should be doing instead of writing this post: bathing my cats (Ha! Have you ever seen a wet cat??), researching the origins of the Snuggie, or actually working on my novel.

black wet cat

Image courtesy WATERBOYsh via Flickr.

gray wet cat

Image courtesy Julie Manzerova via Flickr.

annoyed wet cat

Image courtesy Belal Khan via Flickr.

happy wet cat

Weird–this cat actually looks happy.
(Image courtesy Felicity Rainnie via Flickr)

And the farther away the deadline, the more you procrastinate. Well, you tell yourself, you have days, weeks, or months to complete the task. Why worry about it now? There are so many cute cat pictures on Pinterest that need pinning. Then, depending on the size and scope of the project, panic sets in as the deadline approaches. Instead of working on the project little by little, you slam it all out in one caffeine fueled frenzy.

Unfortunately, this process works well for me. I become focused and feverish. And I always get the job done. Except when it comes to my book.

It’s funny. The thing that is most important to me, is the thing I procrastinate finishing the most. Maybe I think I don’t have enough time to dedicate to the project, or I tell myself that I should just get these two things done first, then I’ll edit. I want an uninterrupted block of time to work, and by the time I get those two other tasks done it’s time to watch Sleepy Hollow, and I can’t miss an episode of Sleepy Hollow.

sleepy hollow

Image courtesy Loren Javier via Flickr.

The real problem, though, is that I don’t have a deadline. There is no due date for my project and all these other tasks are time sensitive. The presentation is already scheduled, the in-laws have purchased their plane tickets, and Igor was born on November 28th.

So, I’ve decided to give myself a deadline: December 31st. I will have my entire manuscript edited and in the hands of my beta readers by the end of the year.

deadline

Image courtesy Kalexander2010 via flickr.

I’ll keep you posted throughout the month on my progress. My hope is that it will keep me motivated. Knowing that I will have to announce my progress to the world, or my lovely little group of followers, should be the push I need to disable my Netflix account and edit.