I work out to music. Because I’m 54, most of my music is on cassette tapes. Sometimes when I am in a hurry to burn a new CD, and then tape it on cassette, there is a blank spot at the end of the tape. Well, since I am too broke to buy cassettes, what I am doing is every time I come across a blank ending, I put the tape by the boombox, blank side facing forward. Then, yesterday and today I am buying new music off of “The Lopsided World of L” playlist, LA’s “Indie 103.1” playlists (a streaming station), songs I hear on XMU and Alt Nation on Sirius Radio, and a playlist I get of the top spinning songs at Alternative stations across the country. See, I’m a former disc jockey in Alternative and was a music director, too. I love music. I even love some oldies and classic rock. What I hate is hair bands. I have this friend who has paranoid schizophrenia, and she must have had a ‘good period’ in the 80’s, because when we are driving around town, I tune in to “Classic Rewind” (hair bands and music from the 80’s an early 90s) and she sings all the songs by heart. She acts as if there is no other music in existence and is unwilling to give anything new a chance, which bugs me. But anyway, today I am buying “Even if you were the last junkie on Earth,” by the Dandy Warhol’s, Beck “Dreams” “Love Vigilantes” from New Order (did you know New Order has a new album out?) New Foo Fighters, and maybe some “Death Cab for Cutie.” Was listening to this Japanese Punk band yesterday “Bo Ningen” I think and I liked them. I am sad that Sonic Youth Broke up. I like Australia’s “Courtney Barnet” and Silversun Pickups, who have a new album out, I think. I go mad for The Clash and older Gang of Four.
You are probably wondering why there is a series of mystery shopping posts on my blog. There are a few reasons. One, I did all these shops while hypomanic and functioning at a high level, so in a way I got turned on to a bunch of restaurants I didn’t know about and got to visit stores like Aveda …things I’ve never done before. It was a romp. Two, a lot of us are on disability and need something to do, to exercise the mind and get out of the house. Three, the best thing for depression is to learn something. And I guarantee you that all the tutorials you’ll take as you do jobs for different mystery shopping companies (there are 200 out there according to The Mystery Shopper’s Manual), they have little tests to get on their list as a shopper and another test for every ‘shop’ you do. If you do Cole Haan three times at three different locations, they won’t make you do three tests, just one and once you’ve done that, they will try to make sure you do a bunch of ‘shops’ for that client. But don’t say the same thing every time you write your summation report. They hate that. The clients catch on and get mad, they say ‘why should I pay this one person to just give me the same info over and over?” This isn’t fair because the truth is, the employees of these companies sometimes all act the same. So sometimes you have to get ‘creative.’
Another reason I wrote about this is that we often need diversion from depression. Hey, Some of us want free stuff. You won’t get that, you’ll get approximately 3/4 free stuff. But that is better than nothing!! Like for example the restaurant shops at Seasons 52. The food was so incredible and they gave you enough or almost enough to take a friend. They had a high end chop house too, “Capital Grill,” I think it was called. And that was a really good ‘shop.’ But the tests afterwards were long. They really make you earn your money. But if you want to shop around and do stuff that is almost free and don’t mind driving thirty miles to make 20 bucks, have at it.Contact the MSPA, pay them their fee (this is the only fee you should ever pay for Mystery Shopping) and start contacting Mystery Shopping companies. There are over 200 of them.
About four years ago I had a sponsor in Overeaters anonymous. She was a tough cookie. She was in her eighties and had survived two rounds of cancer. She was an accomplished and sought after mystery shopper. She did four jobs a week.
She taught me how to get involved. First of all, half of those offering assistance in finding jobs in the field of mystery shopping are fraudulent. They charge people for lists of mystery shopping companies. There are quite a few and some of them specialize in high end, shoplifting prevention and restaurant reviews to name a few. But this ‘charging’ for lists is bogus. Getting good jobs in mystery shopping is a different process. Here it is:
What a person needs to do is become silver certified by the MSPA, Mystery Shoppers Providers Association. Google that, pay them a one time fee of around sixty bucks to study their tutorial, take their test and get Silver Certified. Most mystery shopping firms, like ‘A closer Look,’ and Jancyn (sp?) require that certification before giving you anything. You get the ‘silver,’ (there is a gold cert available but it’s inconvenient and requires travel. Then you start googling to find that list or request a list from MSPA. My OA sponsor told me all that stuff. I still have my silver certificate on the wall. It has a number so that the mystery shopping outfits can verify that I am Silver Certified.
I got ‘in’ with a high end outfit who sent me to Burberry, Chanel Cosmetics, Dior cosmetic counter, Aveda, Dior Couture, Ferragamo, Kate Spade, Coach Barney’s New York, Cole Haan, and other such stores. I also ‘in’ with a few restaurant accounts. Each company makes you study yet another tutorial on what that mystery shopping company wants from its’ employees. Then they have you on a list of available mystery shoppers. Sometimes they contact you for last minute stuff that you have to do and report on by the next day with an added financial incentive. A relationship with a mystery shopping company representative involves a lot of trading. It’s ok. If you do them favors, they will make sure that they save the more lucrative shops for you. It works out. But it requires constant computer access. Everything is done over the computer.
What you have to do for every different store job, is study and pass a test. These tests cover what the ‘brand,’ stands for and they type of displays, customer service, how long the line is, what questions they ask you, all sort of things that the parent company wants you to make sure that the employees are doing. I get triggered in high end shopping environments. Since the jobs usually require you to purchase something and then return it, it can be a double trigger. One time I bought a pair of Ferragamo Shoes that I loved and had to return them. I have foot problems from excessive sports and I have to have really high quality shoes so that my feet don’t hurt. These shoes were 500.00 and I could not afford such a purchase. As I returned the shoes, I felt like a total fraud. I didn’t want to. But the job required that. For the next six months I visited the outlet stores at Sawgrass Mills, searching for the same shoe on sale. But it was never available In my size. The amount of money they paid me to go there twice and write the report might have been forty dollars. It wasn’t worth the heartbreak. I’d have just as soon never known about this perfect black, stretchy shoe.
After a mystery shopping job, you have to fill out a very time consuming form and write mini essays on your experience with the retailer. Believe me, you have to do your homework and do quality work. If your memory is not so strong (as in my case due to psych meds) this can be challenging. And for a long one like a restaurant, they do not let you take notes because that would give you away as a corporate ‘spy.’
More on mystery shopping while manic tomorrow. There are some funny stories.
Allison’s Fall TV Lineup
Quantico Sept 27 ABC young, ethnically diverse FBI recruits (Sundays)
Rosewood (based on Movie) Fox 9-23
Rosewood Fox 9-23 Miami police detective with a pathologist (Wed)
Limitless based on movie about designer drug CBS sept 22 (Tue)
Empire Fox 9-23 (Wed)
Blindspot NBC 9-21 Crime drama (Mondays)
How to get away with Murder ABC 9-24 (Thursday)
2016 “Vinyl” directed by Mick Jagger and Martin Scorcese
PBS Sept 27 Indian Summer (TV Series.)
- Indian Summers PBS 9-27 has to do with India under British Colonial Rule (Sunday)
- Blood and Oil is an upcoming American prime time television soap opera created by Josh Pate and Rodes Fishburne, set to air on ABC as a part of the 2015–16 television season on Sundays at 9pm as of September 27… More, 2015. Wikipedia (Sundays)
der colonial rule in early 1900s
Code Black 9-30 ERCode Black (TV Series 2015– ) – IMDb Wed
Internet Movie Database
Still of Marcia Gay Harden and Luis Guzmán in Code Black (2015) Still of Marcia Gay Harden, Luis Guzmán and Raza Jaffrey in Code Black (2015 Still of Marcia …
The Affair 10-4 Sunday
Homeland Show 10-4 Sunday
The Widower pbs 10-4The Widower is a made for TV film, that was broadcast in three one-hour installments, on ITV in 2014. It portrays the crimes of real-life murderer Malcolm Webster. ITV described the show as: “The Widower tells how, over a 13-year period, a seemingly mild-mannered male nurse, Malcolm Webster, set about poisoning and murdering his first wife, attempting to do the same to his second wife and moving on to a further scheme to deceive his third fiancée.”  The series was written by Jeff Pope.
Agent X Sharon Stone TNT Nove 8 action adventure
The Knick 10-16 Cinemax
Red Oaks Amazon 10-9 Drama (Stream)
Nov 17 Medical Drama Code Black
Blind Spot…someone who has forgotten their identity
House of Cards….When?
B CSI FINALE 2 hours with orig cast CBS 9-27
The Night Manager is an upcoming miniseries directed by Susanne Bier and starring Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander and Elizabeth Debicki. The director, in my humble opinion, Suzanne Bier, is one of the greatest ever.
Having gone through a bunch of long and short depressive episodes, I got into a terribly self focused habit of waking up and immediately ‘taking my mood temperature’ to see what kind of day I’d have. Rather than think about what I want to get accomplished or who I’d like to lend a hand to, I think about myself. I mean, I think it’s helpful in a way, but it can also lead to spiraling downward, wasting time and diffusing focus on life itself.
I’ve had more than my share of depressions in the last three years. So I got in the habit of living in fear of the next one. But I’ve learned that it’s equally important to be aware of manias because they lead to depressions also.
I’ve also been identifying triggers and they are so many. So many, in fact, that life is a virtual landmine. How to I turn triggers inside out so I see the upside, the growth opportunity for them:?
Too many doctor’s appointments
a critical conversation with my dad that feels like judgement
Family not understanding bipolar or believing it’s a real disease
Not writing enough
Computer malfunctions and forgetting to save my work
Not enough exercise
Having learning difficulties on software programs
Clothes not fitting
Being too busy
Not reading enough
As you can see, if I take these and twist them around it would make for a lot of growth, self forgivement and acceptance. Hey, maybe I might be able to focus on others for a change!
They are so focused on helping prevent metabolic syndrome related to antipsychotics that they are medicating us with diabetes drug Meformin and a new one called Victoza. They are rising up to meet the need. Apparently both these meds suppress appetite. What is good about this is that they are not addictive (unless you are addictive to being skinny) by that, I mean mind altering like Belviq, Phentermine, diet pills, Vyvanse, etc.
It’s tough when you have to weigh the danger of clozaril or Seroquel (et al) diabetes risk against possibly destabilizing your mental health. Very tough. I read all this in Psychiatry times. They had links to a huge endocrinology department but I had to go to the gym to help speed up that lazy metabolism and read the new York Times. Fun Fun Fun till my Daddy takes my T-Bird away.
Just trying to learn Movie Maker. I have an opportunity to help develop International Bipolar Foundation’s Vlogging department. I’m happy to continue transferring old acting, radio and copywriting skills! Look, I’d rather still be in the music business but you don’t always get what you want but what you need. My encyclopedic knowledge of music helps me to select instrumentals and lyrics like for example Everlast’s “What it’s Like” in the vids. But there is a lot to learn abour editing and adding these elements to a video. I wish I could find a local teacher! This time I have to teach myself. What is the easiest program for PC’s?
You are what you think. Most people don’t realize the power behind thought … but more importantly, how each thought has its own unique energy signature, which can be very powerful. Always remember that you’re a magnetic energy being, so that when you have a thought, it immediately gets lodged in your magnetic field, which is more commonly known as your aura.
When that thought remains in this field for any length of time, it often radiates out to be absorbed into the Universe. It’s easy to imagine what’s likely to happen to someone who constantly lives in fear that certain things will happen in their life. They’re consciously thinking about it, dwelling on it, obsessing on it, feeding their precious energy into it. Of course, the net result is that they end up sending that stream of fear-based thought out into the Universe. It’s like they’re holding up a sign above their head with a giant arrow saying: “Hey, come to me!” So, it usually does. Then you hear them saying: “I knew this was going to happen!” It’s not rocket science to see that we attract what we think.
I was approached by someone in the business of optimizing websites.
They claimed to have investigated my site and found ways that they say I’m missing out on connectability. Maybe not the correct word, but they cited GoogleMobilGeddon as an ominous threat to my being accessible in my categories and tags. From the gist of it, they said they had looked at my acct same as if it were a website…which it’s not, and they would like to improve other people’s access to me in a Google search result and other search engine results. That really got me to thinking….what is it that I wanted out of this wordpress blog?
I’ve already been to Hollywood (CA) and done the acting thing, so I know better than to think I can go to Schwab’s café and drugstore and be discovered like Lana Turner and become some sort of star. So, I never thought or aimed to be found as some great new writer from this account. I am a writer, am working on several books, both fiction and non and bipolar autobiographical for those who like that stuff.
I came over to WordPress from Tumblr because I felt the Tumblr crowd was random, young, self-harmy. But one thing about Tumblr that I should reconsider is that there is a really active Eating Disorder crowd and I totally suffer from that. I returned the email and will ask for a ‘price’ sheet. But my non technical nature will probably keep me from understanding it and the person on the other end of the line would have to take too much time to explain what it is than the amount of money he would potentially make off of me.
It’s bad enough that talented writers are paying thousands of dollars to self publish, due to the internet, the amazing amount of writers in new genres and fringe topics, etc, but to pay money to have a blog? No, not me. Maybe later, when the trilogy is written. If I’m going to spend any money in the near future it would be to an editor to edit, help rewrite and reformat my book so that I can upload it somewhere for free. I’m in this to be helped and to encourage other people to get the help that they need. I have bipolar disorder, ADD, chronic pain, Binge Eating Disorder, and Tardive Dyskinesia (from Geodon for a year) but right now, things are good and I’m getting by. At least I’m not in a depression. When I came off of Adderall (too abruptly) I was depressed for 7 weeks. Going back to a medication that had worked for me a decade ago was a really smart call, since not all medications work for all individuals.
Normally I am pretty upbeat. But right now I’m having emotional problems. It has to do with these organizations or foundations like NAMI or my local drop in center, Rebel’s. It has to do with them soliciting volunteers or other pieces of content, and then when I raise my hand or offer up what they said they wanted (meeting facilitators, clever little sayings, graphics and this latest debacle with the video I submitted for Healthline’s “You’ve got this Campaign’ that I mentioned yesterday….)
I asked the editor of the magazine why my video wasn’t displayed, acknowledged, critiqued or anything. When she gave me a few excuses that don’t really hold water- could have easily been edited out, cause they were at the very beginning and end..and they never said ‘don’t do this’ or that…I asked her, “How many videos were submitted, anyway?” She wisely never got back to me. Because they probably got thousands of people putting their life on a video, uploading it in hopes of being heard…and nothing. No ‘thanks,’ or anything.
A flash from the past…I’m feeling guilty. I’ve done this to people too! When I was a music director at alternative stations and a disc jockey. We’d have these contests to win a trip to New York or Europe to see, oh, U2 or The Cranberries or something. The whole idea was to give the listener a little thrill, a reason to listen more, to enter the contest at some location like a car dealership (what a car dealership has to do with The Cranberries or The Offspring is beyond me) but the bottom line is this: only one person can win. The rest of the people get their hopes up, register multiple times under different names of relatives or whatever people listen more, our ratings maybe would go up if we had a really good prize, but the point is, it’s about business. It’s not about people, feelings, validation or even hopes and dreams. It’s about the dollars we got from the car dealership and the free trip we got for the international flight and the front row tickets given freely to us by a record promoter in exchange for playing a unknown ‘starter’ type band to get them off the ground.
So really, The “You’ve got This” campaign for bipolar disorder (and they have those same campaigns for HIV and MS, and other illnesses too so it must be adding dollars to their coffers) it had all the hallmarks about helping US with bipolar disorder get our stories heard, and feel better about ourselves for sharing our experience with someone newly diagnosed. It wouldn’t have cost them a thing to list/link all the videos that were submitted, (except the ones they had issues with) unless you consider that the internet has become real estate.
In the space where they could have listed everyone who made a personal effort to be real, they can sell advertising for “Are you having problems with Bipolar Depression? Read about a new treatment option…bla bla bla”
My best friend is a writer. I had told her how excited I was about this and she said, “Allison Don’t be in such a hurry to sell your soul.” And you know what? She’s right. All that ‘feel good’ stuff…many of those meetings they hold for us? It’s about commerce, not about actual care. As always, the bottom line is where it’s at and instead of paying someone to call those of us whose videos they did not accept, those same people could be creating content to grab eyeballs so they can sell the real estate. Now I know what she is talking about.
Sure, I’m going to crop out the stuff they said were the reasons I wasn’t accepted, one editor said she “Loved” my video. It had edits, a little music (Elastica “Connection) and showed in two minutes what other people took six minutes to tell. We live in a short attention span culture. A picture tells 1000 words.
Then again, if the video itself actually is good, captivating and fun to watch, the viewers won’t drift over to the ads for the new psych meds. It’s always about the money. That’s what I have to keep in mind as a mental health advocate. These octopus I tangle with are in it for different reasons that what they say. After all, they need to get paid at the end of the day and the money has to come from somewhere, right?
Ah, We’ll see. We’ll see if they were telling me the truth about why it was rejected. If you are curious about this project, Google “You’ve Got This” Healthline Bipolar. The magazine’s site should come up first but also, since I have posted the video on my blog, there is a separate result for my entry under ‘Allison Strong’. That was the name I used as a music journalist and disc jockey.
But I’ve carried on so, I highly doubt they will put it up on their site. They only display 12 and haven’t rotated them much. I’ve watched them all. Sort of sad,consoling long video selfies. That is apparently what they wanted. To upload it again will probably be just more rejection, dejection.