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Eccentricity Is A Luxury Afforded To The Wealthy. When You’re Middle Class, They Just Call It “Crazy.”



You know?

And, like, $%()#$&$(*@#%)(*!

I have nineteen sticky notes on my desk.


They are covered in lists of to-dos, inspiring quotes, jotted ideas or even actual, pertinent information that an organized person would have printed and collated and filed neatly away in a drawer with color coded folders. My problem is that if I take the time to put something “away,” I never see it again. Not for years, at least. “Away” is some strange and far off land accessible only via wormhole or the Knight Bus from Harry Potter. “Away” is a magical place where I manage to complete tasks in an orderly fashion and where all of my little balls fit together to form one giant ball filled with one massive and attainable goal, the achievement of which will somehow make me feel like I’m on the “right” track.

But right now, right here, all of my little balls are crazy and unrelated.

I photograph houses for real estate agents and have continuous requests to expand this venture into a full-blown listing service, so I have stickies with a la carte pricing ideas and necessary website updates and contact information for earnest clients. I write the occasional column for a local magazine, and sometimes they even use one or two of my pictures, which is like, surreal, so I have stickies with invoice reminders and deadline pronouncements and names and phone numbers of people to interview. I photograph families, so I have stickies reminding me who still needs edits and who still needs follow-ups and a list of dream lenses and notes about new cameras. We have to get our house ready to sell, so I have stickies with quotes from handymen and tasks to complete and other things that make my jaw clench when I think about actually tackling them. I have stickies with blog post ideas and novel ideas and media kit bullets and advertisement pitches and travel plans and plane tickets to purchase and I spend all day staring at these damn inspiring quotes by Fredrich Nietzsche and Sir Francis Bacon and Rumi and Ernest Hemingway and Will Smith and I swear sometimes it feels like they’re mocking me with their smug, inspiring wisdom.

Lately I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time researching credit cards, because I’ve come up with the brilliant idea that I will achieve my dream of affordable travel via bonus miles and rewards points and frequent flyer programs, which is like this entire world of fine print to decipher and foreign legal language to learn, but that’s totally okay because I’ve got it all mapped out with this brilliantly foolproof blue sticky note system.

Did you know that they actually approved me for a credit card?


See, until recently, Justin and I only owned one credit card between us. We used it for nearly every purchase, paid if off every month, and racked up our reward points in a 1:1 ratio, using them to occasionally acquire plane tickets or spendy electronics. But lately I’ve been learning about travel cards and sign-on bonus miles and the wonderful perks that can come with knowledgable and responsible credit card ownership. Of course they make it confusing on purpose, so I’m careful to jot the pertinent stuff on a designated sticky, and I wasn’t even sure I’d qualify for any cards of my own since my individual annual income is hovering somewhere around the poverty line, so I prepared myself to feel dejected when the word “DENIED” inevitably flashed across the screen, but it turns out a phenomenal credit score is apparently enough for them to look the other way.


Now look. I’m not encouraging you to run off and start applying for a million different credit cards just so you can rack up bonus miles, but Justin and I figured this was something we could ease into — a hobby of sorts — because we recently refinanced our house and can afford to let our superb scores take a minor hit from some credit inquiries. The learning curve is huge, and for someone like me with the attention span of a gnat, it’s going to take some work to figure it all out. But I’ll let you know as soon as we’re ballin’ first class to Paris.

What I need, I think, is a system.

Something more effective than stickies because, hey. I might actually have a problem.


(And it’s not just that my calendar’s still open to May.)

I want someone to hold my hand and tell me which of these things needs my attention the most, and which needs it the second most, and so on because frankly, I’m ready to fill the bathtub with sticky notes, pour myself a glass of champagne, climb on in, and go full-out eccentric writer crazy because I’m afraid I’m just not cut out for multitasking.

And worse, I don’t know which of these things feels most important to me, because I enjoy them all.

Which is why I’m always envious of people — the Hemingways and Smiths and Rumis and Bacons — who know what their passion is and can concentrate all of their energy on that one single thing and become so fantastically awesome at it that I’m inspired to transcribe their advice on sticky notes so they can mock me daily from the bottom of my computer monitor.

Does that make sense?

Or should I start filling the tub?


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There used to be a girl at my work with the coolest sticky system I’ve ever seen. They were colour-coded by importance and then she had them on a grid chart organized by urgency and she’d move them up and down the chart as appropriate. It was kind of awesome.

That said, if the stickies are getting out of control, spreadsheets are pretty awesome.


oooooH color coded stickies with a grid chart!! You might be on to something, here…

(I’m definitely a spreadsheet fanatic when it comes to tracking how much money I’m owed by various clients. Other than that, I’m at a loss…)


I’m so glad I’m not the only one! (All of it…the magical “away,” the stickies…) Most of my stickies are on my mac’s desktop (Stickies application), but there are still actual, real-life stickies on my actual, real-life desk top. I have tried several ways of making lists and keeping up with various tasks, and I have not found the right one yet. I tend to abandon the method when I realize it’s not working. So there are several long-term “to do” lists somewhere on my desk, on my desktop, on my phone in various apps, in spreadsheets, on index cards, put “away” somewhere… Okay, clearly my manifestation of this syndrome is worse than yours. :)


Ha, I refuse to use the Mac stickies because I never even SEE my desktop! I always have a million different applications open. And don’t worry – you’re not worse. I have lists stored in a list phone app, the “notes” phone app, several notebooks, emailed notes to myself, and many “aways” I’ve probably forgotten about entirely. It’s kind of making my eye twitch just thinking about it.


definitely bathtub.

Kidding. I know what you mean. I cannot deal with credit card companies. I need it to be as transparent as possible and never have the patience to bother with the rewards cards. You can laugh at my simpleminded stubborness while you’re in paris and I’m in the Paris of the midwest! (Cleveland). I am also unable to organize or choose a passion to pursue in the plethora of things that sound fun to do in life.


HA! So I only saw a “preview” of this comment before seeing the whole thing, and I thought all you wrote was “definitely bathtub,” which really, would have been completely justified. Then I died laughing again when you referred to Cleveland (where my brother lives) as the Paris of the midwest. I’ve never heard that before!! Haha. But, yes. This whole credit card thing is very new to me. I, too, like to keep things as simple as possible and this seems to unnecessarily complicate my life, but I thought it might be worth a shot if I can manage the learning curve and swing some good deals out of it. Time will tell!

It’s a crazy system. I have a better credit score than my husband, and it seems anyone will give me any credit card or payment plan I want, or even (usually) don’t. –And I haven’t had an ‘official job’ since 1989!

I get over-researching, too much paperwork lying around with no idea what to do with it, and wanting to do lots of things at once. (I’ve also taken to saving things on the computer…screen shots are my friend… that I’ll probably never look at again, because there’s too many of them!) I DON’T get the people with one single passion. There is a whole world and a whole big picture out there, with all sorts of nuances and what ifs? and they don’t even see most of that! They should really do their share and take on a couple of other things to do, so the rest of us can cut our list. ;-)

Put WATER in the tub, and get in with your champagne anyway. Really, if you weren’t mostly crazy, and truly drawn to multitasking, we’d have nothing to read.


See, I thought I wouldn’t qualify because you used to be able to apply based off of “joint” income, but now it’s just individual income. But I think credit card companies simply adjusted their standards so they could still qualify spouses with good credit who don’t necessarily earn a great income.

EXCELLENT point about the passion! As much as I think it would be fantastic to just be able to concentrate on one thing, maybe then I would envy those who love many things about life. And thanks for the compliment. :)


I like Stephanie’s co-worker’s system (above)! I have to have things like that in front of me, too – out of sight, out of mind.
Also, I really like my travel rewards card.
Also, I don’t know what my passion is, but maybe I can use my rewards card to find out! :)


Oooh, can I ask what rewards card you used? I got the Capital One Venture for me and the Chase Sapphire Preferred for Justin. LOVE that last point! :)


I have the Capital One Venture, too. I like that you just book travel as normal and transfer the points when you want to apply them to a travel expense.


That will make is SO much easier than this dumb Delta card we got. I’m still not sure how to use the points…

Britany Robinson

This is too funny. Since returning from TBEX in Toronto this past weekend, I feel exactly the same way. I have a million different ideas running through my head and instead of sticky notes I tend to write in notebooks and every time I feel overwhelmed I get this sick satisfaction out of starting a new one, even when the old one isn’t full — which is a serious waste of paper. But I can’t help it. Oh boy.

Thanks for reminding me I also need to apply for credit cards to start racking up some miles. I’m going to need to start a new notebook for that whole deal though.


Oooh, how was TBEX? I would’ve loved to go to that. But I think this ailment is why I have to avoid conferences all-gether. I go, get super excited, and then lose motivation when I get home and realize I actually have to make something out of that jumble of notes.

Ha, and now I’ve added credit cards to the mix for you, too. Sorry about that. ;)

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