Seven Years Behind: A Post Run Review of “Californication”

Having grown up with literary aspirations of my own, I have an inclination to gravitate towards entertainment centered around writers (i.e. Castle, Murder, She Wrote). I have a suspicion that Netflix caught on to this pattern because it recently suggested Showtime’s Californication to me.

Well played, Netflix.

Tom Kapinos’ creation is rapidly nudging its way to the top of my all-time favorite television shows list. There was a slight shock while adjusting to David Duchovny’s transition from the goofy yet lovable Fox Mulder (X-Files) to the rarely celibate and charmingly dysfunctional Hank Moody. Yet, the show’s writing and fast-paced dialogue offer a breath of fresh air from the stale haze of monotony that modern television so frequently emits.

The characters have layers, for God’s sake! Just like the non-fictional people of the real world. The actors do an outstanding job of conveying the depth of their respective characters despite the show’s deceptively shallow premise. Duchovny especially shines as he manages to take the potentially tired story arc of a writer struggling with content production and alcoholism and makes it a tale of edgy renaissance.

Be warned, though, it is not a show for those who are easily offended or have delicate sensibilities. Luckily I am neither a prude nor easily offended. My only regret with finding Californication is that I found it seven seasons too late. Needless to say, I will continue watching and appreciate the spark of television genius while it lasts.


December Beer Review

Anyone who has grown up in the Midwest knows that surviving the harsh winters of the Heartland is worthy of a medal. It could be sunny and slightly warm one day only to have Snowpocalypse bearing down on you with the next sunrise. Free State Brewery’s Winterfest IPA perfectly embodies the grit it takes to make it through the unforgiving and unpredictable season.

The beer pleases the palate with citrusy hints atop a wheat base. It calls to mind a warm, fireside while a snowstorm blazes outside. Even the medium-dark coloring resembles a burning yule log. Winterfest pairs nicely with most soups, red meats, and chili. If you can find it near you, it is worth it.

Available: November-January

Location: Free State Brewery in Lawrence, Kansas or find it near you here.

ABU: 6.0

Holyrood Palace

Last March, my best friend and I took our dream trip across Western Europe. We were lucky enough to spend St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, three days exploring London, a thrilling night in Amsterdam, and a hustled but thorough stint in Paris. The memories made in all of these cities were incredible and have helped shape the person I have grown into during the past year. However, all those memories pale in comparison to our adventures in Edinburgh, Scotland.

It was two days filled with driving on the wrong side of the road without GPS or map guidance, first hostel stays, and braving the underground vaults of the city. We tasted excellent whiskey and went back in time in the halls of the Edinburgh Castle, but our last morning there is a memory I hope I never lose.

After a late night of politely explaining to several Chinese girls we had befriended in the hostel that “Honey Boo Boo” and “Jersey Shore” were not how America really was, my friend and I arose groggily and devoured a breakfast of tea and lemon preserve on toast. Drawing deep breaths, we strapped ourselves into the potential death machine that was our foreign car and headed for Arthur’s Seat. Being fans of folklore, we wanted to see the mythological center of King Arthur’s Camelot. It was a cheerily sunny day but the wind was screaming in off the bay. After several missteps and one lost hat, we decided that climbing all the way to the top was probably not going to happen. Besides, we still wanted to drive by Holyrood Palace before heading south for London.

Climbing back into the Vauxhall windblown but with a little more confidence, we navigated our way to the Queen’s Scotland residence. At the gate, several guards were consulting with the car in front of us, so we waited patiently and snapped pictures. When the leading car drove through, we followed. I maneuvered the Luton-built beauty to a stop just in front of the Queen’s lovely fountain that craftily framed her gilded front doors. I waited with an excited smile for my friend to snap pictures of the Palace. This is where the Queen resided when she was here after all!

BOOM BOOM BOOM! Both my companion and I jumped at the sound of a guard banging on the trunk to signal his approach. I rolled my window down, allowing the chilled gusts entrance into our warm cocoon of travel bliss.

“What’s your business here?” the man asked in his rolling lowlander accent.

After exchanging a glance worthy of “The Office,” we managed to stutter, “To see the Palace….?”

He took a minute to visibly collect his patience with the ignorant young travelers before shaking his head and pointing us back to the gate.

“No, you need to leave. Now! This is private property.”

“Yes, sir!”

“Sorry, sir!”

Rolling up the window, I gave a directive to my friend to snap a few up close (albeit blurry) photos of our accidental trespassing shenanigans. The best part of the experience was that when we were exiting the palace grounds, a group of Asian tourists frantically began taking pictures of us as if they thought we were some kind of royalty leaving our home. Sure, it was a bit startling to realize that you trespassed on ancient property of the Royal Family, but was it worth it? Without a doubt.

Waiting in line to drive in.

Waiting in line to drive in.

One of the better pictures.

One of the better pictures.

Growing Up ENFP

In school I always enjoyed the psychology segments, and I especially enjoyed the lessons in which we were allowed self exploration. Who doesn’t want to know more about themselves, am I right? Some of my classmates got a different personality type every year depending on whom they were trying to impress. Others changed once maybe twice before settling into their true personality types. I, on the other hand, have ALWAYS been an ENFP: energetic, intuitive, feeling, perceiving.

Famous ENFP’s include former President Bill Clinton, Walt Disney, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tina Fey. I was thrilled to find out that my personality type is commonly referred to as “The Champion/The Inspirer.” It was all so interesting to me! Coming from a family ISTPs, I thought I was just a defective dreamer with an over-active imagination. In my 23 years of life, I have toyed with the idea of become an astronaut, signing up for the Coast Guard, enlisting with the Peace Corps, getting into movie direction, joining the FBI, attempting to live like Jack Kerouac, and many more shenanigans. Some of these things I have done while others are just part of the energetic bit of my personality that refuses to accept a mundane life.

When I fell into copywriting for advertising, it was the perfect balance of everything to keep me interested. It is challenging enough and yet it allows room for my creative compulsions. I realize that I probably come off a little crazy in this post, but most ENFPs are misjudged. Below I have added a chart for people to better understand how to deal with the ENFPs in their life and to help them be proud of the disorganized, eccentric, wiry people they are.

The Last Frontier

As a child of the digital age, I have an ingrained appreciation for all things technological. I may not always understand how these things work, but I love what it does for the progression of society and the expansion of knowledge. That is why when I read about the Mars One mission to colonize another planet I get more excited than any right-brained person has a right to get about science things.

When I was a kid, we got the first transmissions back from Jupiter and the first woman pilot became the first woman commander (read more about Eileen Collins here). You had to train for years to go up into space, and even then it was only for a relatively brief period of time. How thrilling is it that in just four short years NASA will be sending up the first crew of individuals from around the world to settle into life on Mars?

After several years of training and an eight month flight, these people will become the first inhabitants of the colony on the red planet. These brave pioneers have accepted a lifetime on alien territory with only freeze dried food and a generous 50 meters squared living unit. They will be expected to build in their new environment and research their surroundings.

It is a costly mission and one not without great risk to the lives of those volunteers, but imagine what it could mean for the future of science and of humankind! Had I not been wrapped up in finishing my university degree, I would have applied to become one of the volunteers without hesitation…or at least I’d like to believe I’m that brave. To read more about the Mars One Colonization Mission you can click the link below. Maybe you’ll get as excited as I am. 

A Cultural Post

One of my favorite parts of experiencing Sierra Leone was the instant immersion into the languages, both tribal and Krio. Two hours a day we practiced with our LCFs (Language and Cultural Facilitators) and our host families were only supposed to communicate with us in Krio. It’s incredible how much more deeply you can interact in a foreign country when natives see that you can speak and understand their language. Just for fun, for this post I will write a paragraph in Krio and translate it in English below.

Kabo! Na we go lan aw fo tok Krio fayn-o. Krio no de pidjon tok. Krio na de tok na ol pipul dem na Salone. Di mos important tin we yu go rememba fo Krio na di gritin dem. Dis important pas mahk. We yu no de grit yu neighba dem o padi dem, yu go mek boku enemy dem. Say, “Monin-o” na di monin tem, “aftanun-o/kushe” na di evin tem, and “gud ivin” na di nite tem. Wi go see bak, ya?

Welcome! Now we will learn how to speak Krio well. Krio is not a pidgin language. Krio is the language spoken by all people of Sierra Leone. The most important thing to remember when speaking Krio is the greetings. This is important above all else. When you don’t greet your neighbors or friends, you will make lots of enemies. Say, “Morning!” in the morning time, “Evening/Hello” in the afternoon time, and “Good evening” at nighttime. We will talk again soon, yes?

Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did!

Me with my host family in Bo.

A Surprising Thing I Have Learned in My Job Search

The past several months have been a whirlwind of frustration, questioning my self worth and abilities, and countless nights lying awake wondering what I could do to make myself a better candidate for the positions to which I was applying. Every new rejection email felt like a personal blow below the belt despite the fact that each letter was written in a courteous tone with no real insult. Rejection was something foreign to me. I don’t mean to present myself in a conceded manner, but I want to establish a basis for a very important life lesson I have learned from the copious rejections I have received.

In high school, I was always a gifted student, breezing through Honors and Advanced Placement courses without breaking a sweat. I made every athletic team for which I tried out and was hired to the first part-time job to whom I had given my resume. I was accepted into every college to which I had applied, and I had done all this without developing a “big head.” Arrogance was not a part of my personality makeup because success was something I took for granted. It had come naturally my entire life, so failure and rejection were not something that crossed my mind.

Even in a completely foreign country during my Peace Corps service I still found a route to success and acceptance. It was only after my evacuation from Sierra Leone that I experienced my first real letdown in life. My job search has been my first true taste of the real world, and I have tried my hardest not to let it leave a bitter taste in my mouth. When the rejection emails started coming back, I learned a lesson I had never before have to learn: humility.

I suppose when I started applying to agencies I retained the attitude I had always had in life. “No worries. This application is a shoe-in.” After dozens of rejections, this has been an eye-opening experience for me to say the least. I was pretty down on myself for a few weeks. I realized something during one of my sleepless nights that gave me a rejuvenated hope. Not everyone can offer me a job, but every rejection is an opportunity for growth. 

Now, when I receive a rejection email after an application, I write the creative director or HR manager back and inquire what made them decide to pursue other candidates. I ask what they would have liked to have seen from me and where my opportunities for improvement lie. Not only has this made me a stronger applicant presently, it has kept me in the game. Instead of allowing myself to wallow in self-pity at another rejected, I have learned to accept it and grow from it. In a way, I am thankful for these past few months.

(I would still appreciate the opportunity for a career, though.)

The Best Book I’ve Read in a Long Time

I am an avid reader, and by that I mean I usually read a different book about every 1-2 weeks, depending on my schedule. There has never been a story that I have hated no matter how childish, graphic, or unrealistic. All I demand from books is an intelligent and well told (preferably well written) story.

Before I left for Africa, the last book I read on American soil was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I’m not here to write a review for the novel. If you want that, feel free to click here. I simply want to share my feelings about the story.

The book started slow, but by the 50th page I could not put it down. The Kennedy Assassination has fascinated me since my parents took me to The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, but there was something so entirely different visualizing it through Jake Epping’s (the novel’s main character) perspective.

As a lover of history and travel it was fascinating to see a man from my time experience all of the political, social, and cultural transformations of the late 1950s and early ’60s. Epping’s journey to follow Oswald took him to a variety of cities across the US. Having visited several of the same cities, it was interesting to read about what they were like 50+ years ago.

It was the first time that I had “a blast” waiting for the resolution in a novel. 11//22/63 challenged me with moral questions and forced me to acknowledge that sometimes there is no monster to blame for the bad things in life. It is simply the fault of man.

I recently read that J.J. Abrams has picked up the story and will produce/direct a miniseries based on the book. It will only air on Hulu, but no dates or casting have been announced. I look forward to comparing my experiences with the literary version to that of the film version. I can only hope the miniseries will be equally enthralling.

Book cover.

Why I Hate Resumes

Resumes are crucial to the 21st century hiring process, and I’d like to think that mine is polished and pristine. Yet, I hate them. The list of past work experience, qualifications, and languages spoken are not what would make me a valuable employ. You can’t learn that from a resume or cover letter. I yearn for the old days of business when I would have had to physically walk into a place, land an appointment, and SPEAK with a person. Broken paragraphs and bullet points crammed onto one page do not define my value.

You put out hundreds of resumes each accompanied by a personalized cover letter, and if you’re lucky, maybe 20 of them are viewed. Even then, the person in charge of hiring may only give your resume attention for five minutes tops. There has to be a better way. Maybe we should all begin submitting video resumes where at least we can make a personal impression. Perhaps I’ll simply start giving out my Skype name (it’s just Jordyn Giddens) in hopes of the opportunity to make human contact.

Maybe it’s just my frustration with the job search starting to break through, but I hope employees of the future are able to submit more than a piece of paper and a one-page letter for consideration for employment.

Pinterest: An Advertiser’s Goldmine

As I was spending another evening virtually planning my non-existent wedding and trying to ignore the delicious-looking pictures of food, I had a thought. Why aren’t more advertisers taking advantage of the goldmine that is Pinterest? They give advertisers the options to promote their pins, and yet, I have never seen a promoted pin. It is a medium used by scores of women who dedicate high amounts of time to it. Think of how many impressions advertisers who don’t utilize Pinterest are missing out on.

For example, a typical twenty-something female will click onto Pinterest 1-3 times a day and visit at least 4 of the categories the website offers. Let’s say these women visit Health and Beauty, Food and Drink, and Weddings and Events. There is a chance to expose those women to a make-up ad, a light beer ad, and an ad for a wedding planner all in one sitting.

The best part about the whole thing is that it is essentially free (or at least costs relatively little). Additionally, people are choosing to view your message, and as such, will likely respond more positively than to a television or pop-up ad of the same product. Location, location, location. It’s a business tactic as old as business itself. Take the message to the audience and good things happen. I hope to see a bigger trend of Pinterest ads in the future.

Pinterest is an addiction.