The Symptoms of Internships, Moving and Mold

I (meaning my best friend and conscience living in the Philippines, Philip. That’s seriously his name, irony is not enough to describe it), keep reminding myself that I need to pay better attention to this blog than I have been doing. I did start writing about how Chicago could have a new serial killer when bodies kept showing up in the North side harbors, but that stopped before I could post. What luck.

Apologies apologies, etc. moving on.drumming coworker

What I want to talk about, is what’s been going on that has kept me from this essential outlet and happiness of mine. I was interning as content management at a startup internet marketing company. It’s been great. They actually hired me, kinda. Well there was talk of salary and then bam, financial troubles and I’m paid per piece. Not ideal, since I do a lot more than blog and produce web content for them (Social Media FTW!). But whatevs, life goes on. To be honest, I don’t think I learned as much as I wanted to there. Since everyone is so busy, pretty sure my internship ended up being a little unbalanced. Like, I worked for free and learned that headphones= sanity, because Tom, on the other side of my cubicle thing, drums with his feet without realizing it. What I wanted to learn was more along the SEO, SEM analytics interpretation thing, all of which I don’t know enough about to be totally comfortable.

I also moved to Andersonville, the best Chicago “ville” in my opinion. It’s indie without being douchy. And that’s exactly what I want in my life. To walk outside and be greeted by nice people with dogs looking at sidewalk sales of vintage inspired happiness.

AAAAHHHHH!!!!One problem.

I started getting sick. Like severe sinus infection, fluid in lungs, bloody noses sick. Why? No effing clue, but it really put a damper on functional life, and all the coughing re broke my rib.  Luckily, one of the blogs I write is for a biohazard removal company whose owner was kind enough to come over and check things out. Here is an article I wrote for them recently.

black mold

black mold

RESULTS: The entire basement underneath our apartment was covered in mold. Landlords won’t admit to it, they say “Annalise, you’re allergic to the apartment,” which is insane. I’m not allergic to drywall. I’m allergic to the mycotoxins floatinging up and around my living space. Seriously, I have an inhaler now. AN INHALER! Not cool mold.
Directly below my bed lives a troll.I won’t even go into the creepy bed and junk that’s down there. It’s very unsettling in a Josef Fritzl way, my friends. We are currently looking for another place, and compiling evidence (pictures, dr bills, pharmacy receipts) for our lawyer.

Life, I suppose is a little frustrating right now, but antibiotics have been taken and we are aiming at a new, healthier situation for cats and peoples alike in the same neighborhood (because damn it, I love this place!).

And don’t worry, soon I will regain health and sanity, and get back into the DIY stuff that I love to share with you all. I’m thinking my cats have enough toys, but my client cat’s definitely could use some love. Then on to jewelry ideas, magnet creation and lamp experiments. And probably a blog or two about urban climate parallels between Chicago and The Wire, and whatever book I finished on the train last. Currently The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.

Who knows, I will never be satisfied with just one thing buzzing through.

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

Robert Frost

Trumbull Elementary Officials Claim School Closing is Unfair

North Side News

Chicago Public Schools placed LymanTrumbull Elementary on the list for recommended closure due to their small class sizes. Maria Jordan, the primary coordinator of kindergarten special education at Lyman Trumbull Elementary School, argues that this recommendation is unfair due to the schools large special education program that demands smaller class sizes.

The proposed school closings are based on a formula that demands an average minimum of 30 kids per class. Supporters of Trumbull are relying on the Chicago Board of Education to make an exception to their formula.

“General education offer roughly 30 students per adult, the special education program requires roughly 15 students per one adult,” Mari Jordan said. “Their (special ed. students) education and development will suffer in larger classes.”

Trumbull’s student population is 37 percent special education, and Jordan says that the possible school closure will be unfair in more than one way.

“General education students have…

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Staying Afloat With Coupons: My New Solution to an Old Problem

IMAG3238-1

little duck friends

While I was walking across the street with my new duck friends, I started to think about all the things that I have been keeping up in the air lately. We are moving in a little over a month, I’m starting my new internship at Smarty Media Tuesday, I’m still trying to figure out what I can do with a part time job to pay the bills while spending a substantial amount of time working said internship, but mostly I’ve decided to latch on to a new obsession hobby. Hoping to get everything I can set up and settled before Tuesday, I have been investing quite a bit of myself in a very new mindset. Couponing. Yes, I said it. My internship is unpaid and unfortunately I still have to eat, so this is my solution. 

I didn’t grow up quite understanding the purpose of these little sheets of paper, they just weren’t necessary, and until recently they were just a nuisance that fell out of the newspaper or my magazine. And I know most of my friends and family won’t really get what I’m doing because of this, moving to Chicago almost 5 years ago has drastically changed the way I live my life, but they can suck it when I start saving 80% on my grocery and drug store bills (that’s right, I’m talking to you Philip).

Since I’ve been spending so much time on starting this journey, I figured sharing it may help me clarify things just by documenting it, and maybe help someone else that’s on the fence about going down the same road. As time goes, and I get a chance to put concepts into practice, I will let you know how things start panning out.

So here’s how I began:

1. I did my research.

There are tons and tons of sites that go over the whole Extreme Couponing thing. I’ve read a fat handful of them, and the two I have found most helpful are The Coupon Project and Living Well Spending Less. These ladies are helpful on a much more realistic level.  The both have written a series on how a normal person, who really doesn’t need 800 boxes of diapers piled in their garage even though they don’t have kids, can get started and save money without going insane.

2. I looked into the stores I regularly use and learned their policies about couponing.

Coupon Binder and Davy Helping

Coupon Binder and Store Policies with Davy Helping

ex. Both CVS and Walgreen’s will allow you to double on BOGO and get both items free if you have the coupons for it, while Target has a much more strict policy and won’t allow this and many of the combinations that are accepted at the other stores I frequent.

Personally I like free. It’s helpful. I’ve found that within the Chicago area, Strack and Van Til has the most lenient policy. Which is why it may be worth the longer trip down Elston to take advantage or what they offer.

3. I learned my coupons and how to read them. Very important.

There are two main types: Manufacturer and Store.

4. Then I got organized. (still doing this actually)

She doesn't like pictures without her in them.

She doesn’t like pictures without her in them.

I created my pretty coupon binder by looking at templates that were free to download and using their category ideas to create a format that would suit my needs. Using a regular three-ring binder and a stack of business card holder sheets (some people use the baseball card binder pages), I folded the coupons so that the front shows what it’s for and the back shows the expiration date. The coupon policies have their own spot, as do the store specific coupons.

Here’s where my weakness comes in… I suck at math. Ever since I faked knowing my times tables (I stood on the table and wrote them on the ceiling by the chandelier so I could cheat by glancing upward when my mom quizzed me. This trick got me pretty far by the way), math and I have not been friends.

Excel and I don’t get along either, so I found some downloads to help me keep track of my price calculations because I couldn’t build one myself to save the Queen’s life. I went through a few and found that they didn’t have the options I needed (I was looking for one with a space for calculating store coupons as well as one for manufacturer coupons, since these can generally be combined for one item). Eventually I came upon this spreadsheet and Working Mom Coupons:

It pretty much had everything I needed to keep that part of my trip organized. So far I am happy, I’ll let you know how it does in action once I spend some more time with it.

wmc-couponing-spreadsheet-excel-1331310745

From here on I’ll be fine tuning and planning my first trip for some time soon.

But be patient. The next few months are so full of changes that if I actually stop and think about it too long I’ll miss half of them as they go by. Think good thoughts, and if you have any tips or basic questions about couponing, moving a two bedroom apartment, or just staying centered in this busy beautiful Chicago of ours, please let me know.

Love and Spreadsheets.

“Industry, perseverance, and frugality make fortune yield.”
–Benjamin Franklin