Friday, November 28, 2014

Diary of a Black Friday Shopper (from a Black Friday in the past)

KMart Sales Price Tag Misprint
If it seems too good to be true...

Each year, retailers hope to entice people to part with their money in ever more seductive ways: free upgrades, bundles, instant rebates, discounts.

This year as my best friend and I plotted our Black Friday recession strategy, there was one thing we had not planned on—bigger crowds.

It wasn’t because they did such a great job on marketing this year—while I heard that many large retailers were opening their doors at midnight, Arundel Mills opening seemed hushed in comparison.  I knew they would be open this year because they were open last year.

At 11:30 pm, the parking lot is a mass of metallic and light.  I find a spot right in front of a store we won’t actually be going to that while not ideal at 11:37 in the cold rain, will be prime once we are gone.

“It’s hard to believe this is a recession."

Initially, I agree.

“Maybe,” I reconsider, “all these people are here really trying to save money.”

In years past, Black Friday has been about camaraderie and competitive shopping.  This year, for us and many of the novice, veteran and window shoppers joining us, this year it is truly about getting a deal.

Retailers like Echo Unlimited recognize it too.

Gone is the attitude of Black Friday being some sort of favor for shoppers. Most of the insulting 10-15% off sales have been replaced with 30-70% off deals.  While many stores wait until the scheduled 12 o’clock mall opening, many capitalize on capitalism and open when the customers arrive—early.

There is a reciprocal shift; an appreciation of commerce seems to have—at least for now—toppled the old way of doing business.

Burlington Coat Factory has multiple cash registers open and we notice at least two managers at the front of the cashiers waiting to answer customer and cashier questions; if their goal is transactional ease—it is achieved and appreciated.

While most of the sale items I want at Toys R US are gone (though available all day online), it’s 3 AM, and I am greeted by eager staff, short lines, and quick service.

Likewise, it takes longer to get to Marley Station’s JC Penny’s than it does to wait in line.  As the clock nears 4 AM, they are prepared, chipper, well-stocked and well-attended.

Honestly, Black Friday for me starts 12 hours earlier, at Kmart.  Because I’m only going to pick up a few items for the house, I don’t mind sliding in near 10 AM for the sale that started at 7.  It took me years to trust holiday sales, as a closet conspiracy theorist, I always worry that the price I pay today is more than the price I would have paid yesterday. 

 So, when my daughter and I see the  slip advertising irons regularly priced $5.99 on sale today for $9.99—a part of me says, ‘I told you so’ to the part of me that didn’t want to know.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Stories at The Storey: What is a True Story Open Mic Night?

Real people. Real life. Real stories.

It's that simple. 

Everyone has a story. No matter what defines us or how we define ourselves, real life happens to all of us. 

Have you accomplished something amazing? Taught yourself a skill? 

Whether the answer is yes or no, you have a story to share.

Have you learned something about yourself that you don't like? Let yourself or someone else down? Ended up miles from where you thought you would be? 

Regardless of where you are or where you thought you would be, you have a story.

And for one night, you have an audience.

Sharing your true story is therapeutic. It can help you move through something, towards something else or remind you that you are where you want to be doing what you want to do.

Who are we looking for? Everyday people.

What's in it for you? A captive audience (at least for 3 to 5 minutes).

What's in it for us? The Story. We realize not all stories have happy endings and not every story has closure. Whether your story covers a chapter in your life; a day, an event, an experience and leaves us there wondering what happened. It's your story. 

Tell it.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Career Options for Creative Writers: My next role: Villain (Expanding My Career Portfolio)

When I was much younger (some time before wanting to be a rapper) I wanted to be a villain. Not necessarily a law breaking villain but one on paper, in a book. Now, after maturing, living and realizing possibilities I'm back to wanting to be a villain; this time off the page.

As an upcoming voice-over talent I'd like to play the character of a villain in an audio book, video game or animation. I've performed as a professional voiceover artist and have been cast for narration and corporate reads.

My next adventure?


Have you diversified your career portfolio?

I'm a mom, a full-time PhD Student, an emerging writer working on a novel, a researcher, a literary interviewer, a literary event organizer, a voiceover artist, an Associate Lecturer and an Assistant Professor. To be successful I'm told I need to create a career portfolio and forget what I've been told about a career path. I need to think in terms of strategies not strategy; Opportunities not opportunity. I need to pluralize my goals.

If I don't diversify now it will take longer to get where I want to go. There is no one path to the future I want. But if I don't seize options (not an option) I will get nowhere faster and stay there longer.

So I diversify and I write and I research and I write. My degree allows me to apply practice based research; I create while I read, research and explore new worlds and stories. My pursuit of a PhD in Creative Writing opens doors to careers people imagine and opportunities people create. For a habitual multi-tasker who needs multiple projects to keep sane, this career portfolio strategy and my future Creative Writing PhD just may work out at least until I find out where I'm going and craft the path there.

Writing your future, revising your past, moving forward: Yvonne Battle-F...

The Writing Life Episode Ten: Ramzy Sweis

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Stories at The Storey: Open Call for performers (Lancaster, UK)

Jobs. Relationships. Journeys. Stories. Everything starts with a beginning—a launch.
We want to hear yours.
Stories at The Storey offers a nonfiction storytelling experience and is looking for performers, students, community members, staff, visitors and anyone with a true story to share to fill 10 True Story Open Mic Night slots.
We are interested in engaging stories told well.
On December 1 we are launching our True Story Series and are honored to be joining Lancaster University's Grad College for the launch of the PG Study Hub at the Storey.
If you have an engaging story that loosely explores the theme “launch” we would love to hear it.
Email: for more information and to apply for a 3-5 minute slot.
Event sponsored by LU Grad College.

Backstory: Reflections on this Month's Theme for Stories at the Storey

Meeting deadlines is as soothing to me as a creamy cup of flavoured coffee. Checking a project off of my mental to-do list settles me. ...