Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Selling stuff is "weird"

But in a good way...

We're downsizing (yes, you already know that), and Stephen has rediscovered some of our old electronics, so on a whim, and based on MEMORY, he listed a VCR on Amazon last night, and before we'd even had a chance to wind down for the night, BOOM!  It was SOLD!  So I went to bed and left him to test it and make sure that it did, in fact, work (as listed).  Not only did it WORK, but it worked WELL, and then we had to wonder if we might oughta test shit out before we underprice ourselves. :/

So TODAY, in addition to shipping that off, we also rescued MORE dolls from the attic at the other house, and came home to research a few of them.  We found what looked like another Shirley Temple doll - turns out it's not, but it IS a beautiful porcelain doll that looked so much like Shirley to the original buyer that she topped the molded 20's bob with a "Curly Top" wig.  So now she (the doll) is listed along with a few other new items, and we're "back in the game" (as it were).

When you "manage" an online store, there are days when nothing happens, so you try to carve out time to list something new, so at least all of your auctions don't end at once.  Then there are also days when you sell a couple items that didn't appear to hold any interest for anyone, but you had put them up so you could maybe forget about them for awhile.  It's weird.  We have no one to specifically "market" to.  We have no idea when or where the next sale will come, or whether it happens because we have the cheapest price or the best photos or the rarest item or WHAT.

Weird.  But in a good way.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The "wrong" coast is actually RIGHT, at least for now.

So, I'm a big believer in "everything happens for a reason" and "God's Timing" and "Money Magnetism" and all of that New Age Hippie "crap."  You know this about me, because you've been following along.  You also know that I've been referring to Los Angeles as "home," making where I currently reside simply that - where I currently reside.  I've been REFERRING to my current location as the "wrong coast" and my wording became an item of critique.  And I can take critique; I welcome an honest dialogue that isn't hurtful.  Also, I'm not trying to be hurtful in the things that I say, so it helps to hear the other PsOV that exist in the world, beyond my own.

With my adventures today of packing up for shipping two items from ebay and one from Amazon, I realized that http://kickinaroundideas.blogspot.com/2014/02/treasure-hunting.html and http://kickinaroundideas.blogspot.com/2014/02/its-official.html have already told YOU that I'm right where God wants me to be.  It just took me a day or so to "absorb" the critique to realize it.  This may not be my PERMANENT home (well, actually, we already know that it ISN'T) - that doesn't mean I'm in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I am ABSOLUTELY in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time, and so is Stephen.

When we left California, we were responding to God's guidance.  We had our own ideas about what we'd be doing here, but we never felt like it was the wrong decision.  Now that we're listening again, it still doesn't feel like the wrong decision.  It's just something we had to do RIGHT THEN, and moving back is what we're in motion for RIGHT NOW.  It's not a big deal, so I'm going to stop talking about it as if it is.

We'll be home by mid-year.  Until then, my "job" is to list and ship items in/from the "stores" and keep plugging money into savings.  Stephen's job is to go do his job, and help guide me in downsizing us.  It's what we're up to, at this point in time.

What's going on at this point in time in YOUR life?  Anything more fun or exciting than you've allowed yourself to believe?

Friday, February 21, 2014

What's wrong with "wrong"?

This weekend is my sister's Big Five-Oh celebration, at Daddy's house in Florida.  We all had a lovely visit last night, went to bed at a reasonable-ish hour, and then this morning, fairly early, I had a pleasant catch-up with Cheryl.  One of the things we talked about was this blog, and my use of the word "wrong" as a descriptor for the East Coast.

Everyone who knows me knows that "home" is Los Angeles.  All of my West Coast friends are happy that our plans are to get "home" by mid-2014.  All of the friends I have made through my job at Trader Joe's are happy about those plans.  Each member of my family, no matter how "close" or "distant," is either happy or neutral about these plans.  We have the positivity of our entire circle of circles of friends and family, all helping "drive" us back home.

And one of the things I mentioned to Cheryl was that I am the most upbeat/optimistic/positive person I know.  She agreed, but she pointed out that I may be sabotaging myself by using the word "wrong" - that "wrong" is a HARD word; it's negative no matter what it's attached to.  And there's also the possibility that I'm hurting my friends or family that I will be leaving behind.  These are points that hadn't entered my POV.  So I said I'd re-read my posts with that POV in mind.  She said I didn't need to re-read the blog, but to keep that idea in mind going forward.

I read through to the end of December 2013 (so I only didn't venture into the past two months of posts).  What I "gained" from revisiting those posts was that I am pretty positive, even in my "negative" posts ("My Stint in Juvie" comes to mind).  I know without going further that I have used the phrase "wrong coast" more and more often as we get closer to our move.

So this post is an apology to anyone who has A LIFE - who has CHOSEN North or South Carolina or Florida or any other East Coast HOME in which to make their lives.  I applaud EVERYONE who is able to find their HOME and to make their LIFE wherever they manage to find and choose and make it.  I know that you are all, wherever you are physically, applauding and cheering and sending the positive vibes to US so that we can/will/do/ARE getting back HOME.  I appreciate that your energy is contributing to our energy.

But that leads me to the title: what's wrong with "wrong" and is there any chance that you can provide me with a BETTER, more positive wording to describe the fact that my CURRENT situation is not my PERMANENT one, and that my chosen industry and life exist on the West Coast?  I have not ever intended to hurt you or disrespect your choices or make you feel bad for where you live.  I also want to always be positive.  So what can I start saying that hits all the good stuff and avoids all the bad stuff?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Welcome, Poland!

I got a reader in Poland today.  Yay!

And Australia!  Woo Hoo!  We are officially "around" the globe!  Both hemispheres and all the way around, Baby!

Everything Happens for a Reason

Just watched THIS, and now, even though I am VERY BUMMED that the web series I got to Script Supervise in the summer of 2012, which has waited until NOW to shoot Season 2, but is currently doing just that, in East Los Angeles, which means I am NOT SS-ing, I do feel a little better about my absolute faith that "everything happens for a reason."

There's also THIS, which I saw earlier today on Facebook (and is, frankly, EVERYWHERE, on the internets, so I apologize to the creator of this photo, since I don't know how to credit you properly).  It made me laugh when I saw it, and then I saw that ELH was shooting without me (which made me sad), and then I watched the Scott Hamilton video, which restored my faith.

I know I haven't posted in about a week or so, but I haven't had much to say.  And now I do, and the words don't seem to want to come together coherently.  Sorry about that.  Let's see if I can catch you up:

In our first week on ebay, we sold A BUNCH of stuff and I stayed busy with answering questions and taking pictures and creating listings and buying shipping materials and learning how ebay works and SHIPPING all those wonderful things.  I'd been inspired by Stephen's success over at Amazon, so I set up the ebay "store," at which point, the Amazon store got kinda ignored.  We both have to learn to maintain, not compete, not try to "help" unless specifically asked, etc.  We're getting a system worked out.  It's only been just over a week for me, and less than a month for Stephen, so it's all good.

Then there's my sister's birthday (which is actually today) celebration coming up, for which we will drive down to Florida.  I've been on the phone with Daddy a good bit more than usual, trying to keep his stress level even while we plan.  BTW, Daddy, I need you to pick up (at the store) or borrow from Louise one medium-ish onion and five or six cloves (not HEADS) of fresh garlic.  I'll bring the other seasonings, and I have the wine and coffee already.

And Stephen's discovered that there's a job opening at the San Fernando branch of his employer that he's going to put in for.  Good stress?  Bad stress?  JUST stress?  YES.  If he's eligible and they hire him, that would mean that our move is simplified at the same time that it gets more complicated.  He'd have to fly out, couch-surf, work, and apartment hunt during his off hours.  Then he'd have to fly back here in time for his Mom's 70th Birthday celebration and help me drive the kitties and our stuff back "home."  His pay is already direct-deposited, so that wouldn't change.  And he'd very likely get more hours, which is part of our current financial stress (they've cut his hours, so how badly does that change our "save $ to move" progress?).  In the meantime, I'd still be here, trying to sell stuff in our online stores; taking things to the flea market to sell in person; trying to craigslist the "big" items; getting a trailer hitch installed on my car and arranging the rental of a trailer for the actual physical move.  We'd probably need to learn to Skype.

But there's another update for you of something that's been decided this week.  We WERE looking at trading in my perfectly-reliable Honda Civic for a minivan to take us across the country, meaning whatever didn't fit wouldn't go.  Fresh start and all that.  Our original timing was blown by some bad choices the stupid version of me had made along the way, which led us to "things happening for a reason."  We had done insufficient research into minivans and/or the impact on our credit of a new loan.  My car hit the 50K mile mark, and we're taking it to Florida this weekend.  So I got it serviced, and found out that it WILL accept a trailer hitch for a one-way kind of tow (don't put that kind of stress on a Civic frequently), and the install of a hitch and rental of a trailer is ACTUALLY the cheapest way for us to get back home anyway.  Yay.

If the job transfer looks like a no-go, I'm going to start applying for table-waiting jobs here very locally.  No one expects serving food to be a career choice, so any gig I get will be the wrong coast's version of an industry gig for me (TEMPORARY)... and it'll put cash in my pocket, and extend my unemployment benefit (because there's not a CHANCE I will earn that same amount weekly by waiting tables here in Podunk) until about the time we move.  Win-win-win-win-win.

Are you caught up?  Did you miss me, and now you're glad to know I didn't just fall off the face of the planet?  Aw, thanks.  That's so sweet.  See?  Win-win-win-win-win!  EVERYTHING happens for a reason!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A View From The Bridge (My Balcony)

Oh, it's so BEAUTIFUL!

Barf.  Gimme a break.  It's COLD, and yesterday I had to drive in it, and I probably have to drive in it again today, unless I catch my mailman here in the complex, because I sold another doll - this one's going to NEW ZEALAND, but I'm using ebay's Global Shipping Program, so I only have to get it to Kentucky.  Whew!

Back to the weather.  I was asked if I was ready for cabin fever.  Um, do you remember that I'm not currently employed, and I live in Podunk, USA, on the wrong coast from HOME?  Why should snow give me more cabin fever than I'm likely to already be experiencing?  I know, I know, you're a native, and you realize that I'm not HOME, so you figure I'm not planning to get out in this any more than I had to yesterday, so I do appreciate your POV.  But honestly, the answer is no.  If I'm Stir Crazy it's because I've been Stir Crazy since I lost my job in September.  While I really do HATE cold weather and I'm not impressed with snow (yes, yes, it IS pretty... until the dogs do their business in it and it gets all yucky), yesterday's and today's "blizzard" aren't really going to have much effect on my mental health.

So let me tell you about YESTERDAY!  Stephen had to go in to work - he was scheduled 2-7:30 - and we hadn't done any of the necessary weekly shopping.  We didn't need emergency shopping, as if I'd get cabin fever without milk, eggs, or bread.  We just needed my normal stuff, which happened to include milk and cat food.  We live a normal 40-45 minute drive away from the two stores where we buy our groceries, the Trader Joe's where I used to work, and the Sam's Club where Stephen currently works.  I know he hates to drive that distance on his day off, and he's not terribly keen to shop at the end of his shift.  But we also didn't want to have two vehicles on the road on a crappy weather day, so we opted to "carpool" and I would spend the 5.5 hours shopping while he worked.  It probably sounds like not that great of an option, if you hate grocery shopping (as I know some of you probably do).  But I was going to be "hanging out" with my former coworkers, and I took my laptop with me if I had time still to kill at the end of the day (Sam's has wi-fi), so I'd have posted this yesterday.

We left the apartment at 12:30, just as the lightest of very dry snow was falling.  We'd had no wet precipitation, and all of the roads were already very cold, so driving in took maybe 5 minutes longer than normal.  All of the snow was dry and blowing.  By the time we reached Sam's, it had just begun to accumulate in the gutters and on rooftops and in the Sam's parking lot.  So Sam's wasn't overly busy; nor were they a ghost town.  I did some pre-shopping, to make sure I would be able to get the things we needed at the end of the day, and then I headed out to Trader Joe's, a mere 5 miles away.  It probably took me a good half-hour or more to go that five miles, because there was plenty of slow-moving traffic and the snow was fat flakes by then.   I arrived in the nearly-pristine parking lot, cleared my windows, and went in to shop.

Trader Joe's was nearly empty, and my shopping was easy.  The delivery truck with my particular cat food had arrived while I was there, so I spent the majority of my time there, hanging out near the stock room, waiting for my cat food.  Then I noticed that Stephen had left one text and two voicemail messages, trying to get me to get back out to him, because everyone was leaving early (as they were at TJ's), and he was concerned about me driving in it.  So I had someone check one last time to see if they could get to my cat food, ended up buying a different bag (I know, I know, I'm hoping I can exchange it for what the cats are used to before I actually run out of the open bag), and headed out.

At every red traffic light, I typed a text message of the next road I'd be on, so that when I made those turns, I'd only have to hit "send" and Stephen could stay apprised of my progress.  It took me ONE HOUR to return that five miles.  But the roads weren't "bad," per se.  The worst bits were if I had to stop at a light and lose my momentum; going through the now-slushy intersections caused a little bit of slippage, where the tires couldn't get their traction just right.  The roads between intersections, though?  Straight or curved, level or hilly, didn't matter - as long as I could keep rolling (and there was one stretch where I "coasted" at TWO MILES PER HOUR) I didn't lose traction.

Got to Sam's; checked in with Stephen; did the shopping; he clocked out.  We cleared all the windows, and headed for the highway, which should have been salted and plowed.  We drove exactly one exit before I basically said "Eff this Ess" and we opted for surface streets.  Dry snow on dry streets = No Big Deal.  Wet snow on heavily-trafficked streets (i.e. highways) = NIGHTMARE.

So if, like me, you live somewhere that snow is a rarity so you are an inexperienced snow driver, please learn from my yesterday.  If the air temperature is well below freezing before the snow starts, you have nothing to worry about.  Don't drive like a madman, but it shouldn't be too much of a bother.  When the snow turns to sleet, you have to pay a little more attention.  If the snow turns to freezing rain, or if the streets were already wet before the snow started, STAY HOME.

Now... to get my package out to New Zealand...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Every time I think I'm ready to cut my hair again, something stops me.

Went to the Post Office to send out the international package.  Not the easiest transaction, but by going in and dealing with a person, we saved three bucks and discovered how to do it right (ship internationally, that is).  Also sent out the teeny-tiny parcel that we hadn't charged shipping on (because it weighed less than an ounce) and had to spend the three bucks we'd saved!  Thankfully, there will be no more teeny-tiny parcels, or if somehow there are, we'll still charge something for postage.

Before we went, Stephen went back online to see if there were any new sales in either of our stores, so if we needed to package anything else, we could include it in this trip.  Meanwhile, I walked over to our mailbox here in the complex, and had to send him a text while walking:
Snow.  Or flurries.  Not a lot, but RIGHT NOW.
You may not yet know this about me, but I really HATE cold weather and the precipitation it brings.  Now that we're back from the Post Office, I can SEE the snow falling outside my window.  This wasn't supposed to happen until Wednesday.  I was okay with Wednesday, because by the time Wednesday came, the weatherfolk could have been wrong, and it could have missed us completely.  NOPE.  They were wrong in the other direction.

I sincerely hope that weather doesn't prevent me from shipping lots of packages this week.  I hate that I still need to keep the layer of "fur" on my head, though.  I'm sick of this!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Playin' with Trains...

I keep updating the ebay store and Stephen keeps updating the Amazon store, and yesterday I packaged THREE items to ship!  I was only able to print a shipping label for one of the three, because the first one is international, so I need to hand it to a Postal Worker (probably Lynn) to be sure I did it right, and the third one fit into a little itty bitty envelope, but I still need to track it, so I gotta get that done also in person.  Tomorrow.

In the meantime, Stephen's trying to figure out how best to sell the train sets:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It's Official

We are now "international" sellers.  Yesterday, I created a "new" store on ebay.  They give you many more options than Amazon, including "auction" vs. fixed price; shipping internationally or only to Canada or only domestically; when to actually post your listing; up to twelve fabulous photos of your item; how much to charge for shipping; much more that I can't remember.  I set up our account with two items, a doll gift set and a comic book series.  These were two items we couldn't figure out exactly HOW to list on Amazon, because if no one else is selling your exact item on Amazon, you have to determine the UPC and other "codes" before you can list them.  Not that easy a task for a coupla neophytes.

So I found "similar" items listed on ebay and then listed mine based on those.  Today I'll be completing the doll collection listings, because now I know how.

But I know what you're saying.  "Just because you have items listed internationally doesn't make you international sellers."  Well, what I have to say to that is, "yuh-huh."  I posted both of my items to begin their auctions at midnight last night.  What I didn't know when I scheduled them is that ebay time is PST.  So they weren't listed until 3 hours after I went to bed.  TWO HOURS after that (5 am my time, if you're trying to keep up), a doll collector in CANADA snatched up my doll gift set at the quite reasonable "Buy It Now" price and paid almost as much for shipping!

So now I have to figure out how to ship the dang thing.  And list the rest of the dolls!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Treasure Hunting

Do you ever watch Pawn Stars, or any of those other reality shows where folks find some "treasure" at a yard sale or in Grandma's attic?  What happens when they get down to the negotiation?  Usually, the "expert" will value something at an INCREDIBLY high value (say, tens of thousands of dollars), and the seller will then immediately ask for RETAIL.  When the producers talked to him outside, he said "I'm hoping to get three hundred, but I'll probably take one-fifty, since I bought it for seven dollars.  I think that's fair."  And INSIDE, he's like, "You heard the man.  It's worth ten thousand.  Give me eight and we've got a deal!"  We laugh at these greedy mo-fos, and then we look at each other and go, "damn.  Wish I could find a Civil War-era musket!"

My point is, you know we're downsizing and selling stuff to get our butts back to our real life in LA, right?  Yeah, you know that - I was just checkin'.  Today, on Stephen's day off, we went up to his Dad's house to hunt for buried treasure.  We found some of the train sets (still not ALL of them), and a bunch of dolls that had belonged to his grandmother, and more of the blankets she had knitted or crocheted, and some great cedar chests to hold stuff.  We still haven't found all of Stephen's toys that he's looking for (superhero action figures, specifically), but we brought home maybe half of today's findings.

In doing a little research into the value that OTHERS are asking online, we've probably got enough in today's haul to put us VERY close to our financial moving goal... if stuff sells.  So, we may not have found a Civil War-era musket.  So what?  We've got some REAL items that are TRULY collectible.  And since Stephen's habit is to price his stuff for less than the cheapest seller (of similar quality), we're very likely to make a decent chunk of change from the couple of hours we spent in dusty attics.

Feels good.  I am blessed.  We are blessed.  And so far, we're enjoying this process.  Now, where's that dang musket?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Karma... or just being decent?

I did some weekly shopping today (we live too far away from our fave stores to go more often).  While out in the world, I had an opportunity to hold a door for a mommy of three, whose youngest had already shown us she was getting tired/cranky/fussy... then I held the same door (upon my exit) for a couple of "older" ladies... then I helped a chick free her car from the curb stop that was stuck to her front bumper.

Then a different lady let me in to the traffic flow, without taking the parking space I was vacating.

People were very pleasant today, out in the world.  It's like yesterday happened a million times for some, and they all learned the lessons they were meant to learn.  Or they enjoyed the ball game.  Or the commercials.  Or the National Anthem.  Or the half-time show.  Whatever it was, it was very easy for me to be a decent human being, and in return, everyone else seemed to be as well.

How was your weekend?  Did you experience similar kindness today, either as a provider or recipient?