Archive for Distraction

Cartoon Fall

A lot of snow fell yesterday—over two feet by some official estimates. I can attest to that. I spent a significant amount of time away from my desk, digging people’s cars out of the snow. My signal that it was time to go inside? When I performed a cartoon-like banana-peel fall on my driveway, culminating in my tailbone meeting said driveway’s icy, snow-packed coating. I swear I was suspended horizontally, legs flailing, for at least 30 seconds. I know that’s not actually true, but it felt like it. I’m just glad I could provide some comic relief for the folks surrounding me.

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Banning Books in My Town

During a book club meeting a couple of months ago, one member—a respected, outspoken woman—mentioned in passing that one of our school librarians had received many complaints about a particular book. Another member countered that statement, by explaining that, as a librarian herself who was friends with the librarian in question, she knew that only one complaint had been received. The conversation ended there.

It started me thinking about how the loudest, but not necessarily most knowledgeable, person is usually heard most. That goes for almost everything, really. The squeaky wheel and all that.

If you don’t challenge your own and others’ assumptions, you’ll never know the truth. That’s not to say that you have to be contrary about everything (a good reminder for myself), but to think critically about everything you’re told is good practice. Don’t fire questions at the supermarket produce manager about how sure he is that the oranges actually came from the central region of Florida. Do question if it’s labeled organic and it looks like it’s not.

Back to loudmouths and book banning. I find it astounding that parents—well-intentioned parents—fight to decrease the amount of information their children have access to. Children who consume book voraciously rarely become degenerates or serial killers.

I don’t have data to back me up there. Just go with it.

I feel students should be allowed to read anything they can that’s appropriate developmentally. That’s the gray area and the common path for folks seeking to ban a book. They think it’s not “appropriate.” Well, it might not be appropriate for your little snowflake, but mine is fine, thank you very much, and I’d like my kids to have access to more information, not less. I’ll decide and take action if necessary. You can keep your book banning to yourself.

I was happy to discover that there have been no reported limitations in the past few years to our local libraries. But limitations can happen earlier on, in the decision not to carry a title or teach a book. Those are the easily hidden decisions that force us to be vigilant. Or they should.

The Pinterest Effect

I’m sitting here in my family room, watching “Modern Family” and looking at Pinterest. This is my life. Multitasking. I can’t just watch TV. I have to be doing something else along with it. Usually, that’s knitting, but not at the moment. I was scanning Pinterest for cookie decorating ideas and came across a humorous item—a photo of an oversized cat accompanied by the text “I’m not fat. I’m just so damn sexy that it overflows.” I read it out loud to my family because, well, I find it life affirming. And I’m not even a cat lover.

The thing is, they didn’t know I was reading from a Pinterest pin.

About 20 seconds after I read that, I turned to my son and said, “Ooh, we should make rock candy some time!” Again, it was another Pinterest pin. They didn’t know this, though.

My family just though that sudden shift was an example of my brain at work. Scary.

Spider Transport

So, I started the day by not being the only one in my shirt. I felt something itchy and went to scratch. There was a lump moving under my shirt. Another spider!

I did the only reasonable thing I could do. I screamed and ripped my shirt off.

It’s a good thing I work from home. That probably wouldn’t have gone over well in a sea of cubicles.

Clean Office

I sat at my desk, which sits within my home office, drinking coffee and reading up on what was happening around the world. I usually like to start my day this way, as I’m isolated in my office and alone for most of the day. It’s good to start the day with the entire world, and then slowly transition to my circle of Twitter followers and Facebook friends, and then finally to the few people involved in whatever project I’m currently copy editing or writing.

There I sat, in a bit of a haze as the coffee was just about starting to work, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. A spider with the leg span of a decent-sized plum scurried across my desk. TOWARD ME. I screamed and jumped faster than anyone who knows me personally would expect.

So, it appears I was not alone in my office after all. I examined the surface of my desk and the carpet under it. No spider. I flipped my desk chair over, expecting it to be lurking there. Nope. Then I waited. It had to show up soon, I thought.

Nothing. So, I did the only reasonable thing I could do, short of burning the house down. I began gingerly tearing through everything on my desk. I got the vacuum out and started cleaning. Really cleaning—not just putting things in piles as I usually do. That would just be giving my little friend another place to hide.

Today, my office is spotless. And I think I may have seen the spider just before my vacuum sucked it up. I’m almost positive that’s what it was.

Pathetic Attempt to Keep This Blog Alive

I read. I read a lot. Especially when I have a lot of work to do. It’s called procrastination, and I am a master at it.

So, when faced with a steady flow of editing/social media work, what happens? Other things become so very important. You know I’m procrastinating if I’m actually writing a blog post. I haven’t been here in six months!

I just read this article, and it made me laugh. It seemed appropriate to share it here. You know, because I’m procrastinating. From McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, I give you “The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do.” http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/the-ultimate-guide-to-writing-better-than-you-normally-do

 

Spring Has Sprung

It’s unseasonably warm here these last few days. We in the Northeast are experiencing a true, sunny Spring, while those in the West/Southwest are dealing with snowstorms and chilly temperatures. I’m not used to doing things like weeding, lawn mowing, or Spring cleaning during the actual Spring. And I might, if I get my behind in gear, even prepare and plant my garden early enough to have a legitimate harvest this year.

This leads me to think that I should start some Spring cleaning, but wow do I not want to do that. I’m always amazed at how some people actually like to clean. I like the results, but seriously dislike the tasks. This is the negative side to freelancing from home–I feel the need to fill the day with various tasks because, as I sit in my home office, these tasks constantly surround me. I look straight at the kitchen floor and see that the fridge should really be moved to clean the grime beneath it. And if I move the fridge, then I should really move the stove as well. Oh, and the cabinet doors need a good cleaning. But before I do all this, I should clean out and reorganize the cabinets. And then we can see how my mind works–inadvertently setting up a relatively simple task into something way bigger. This is why I dislike cleaning or most household tasks. I make them blossom into something way bigger than they have to be.

I think I’ll just stay at my desk and work.

Focus

Today I begin working on a “quick” proofread of an engineering text written by a university professor. It’s already been professionally copyedited and proofread, but he saw things in the “final” manuscript that gave him pause. The text is challenging and very technical, but I’m tasked only with a quick read through to make sure all sentences are intact, for the most part. I’m finding it difficult to get started and stay focused. I know that once I dive in and have some pages behind me, the momentum will keep me going–that, and the good-natured but concerned attitude of this professor. I’ve never been asked to perform a proofread after a book is supposed to be “done,” let alone be paid for such a task. It gives me hope that there remain folks who value meaningful, accurate communication.

Summertime

Summer “vacation” is in full swing here. That means I’m constantly battling the distraction of having people in the house as I work. Kids are in and out constantly, causing me to look up and acknowledge the new face or mentally keep track of who is inside and who has just left. My kids are older now and don’t require my constant attention, but I still like to know where they are and what they’re doing. Right now it’s pretty quiet — the hum of the air conditioner is tempered with the beeps and boops of the Wii video game my sons are playing. We don’t have anywhere to go until my daughter’s softball game this evening, so I have a wide expanse of time to get some work done.

I’m not good with distractions, especially if the topic I’m working on doesn’t interest me. Today’s manuscript is a marketing textbook, which I place in the middle of my spectrum of fascination: It doesn’t bore me to tears but I don’t exactly relish reading about it.

Additional distractions include waiting for the mail to arrive — I’m expecting payment from a client that is inconsistent in its payment terms. (That’s a nice way of saying they don’t pay on time. If this client didn’t provide me with such a large percentage of my work, I would drop it in a heartbeat. But we both know that finding new clients now is challenging, and dropping any client is a serious risk.) My “I work at home so I should be able to get other stuff done during work breaks” list provides endless distractions. I need to fold laundry, finish scrubbing the deck, paint the upstairs hallway, clean out the refrigerator, weed, clean the carpets, and more. Instead of all that, though, I’m writing this blog post.

Okay. Back to work. But first I should . . .

Will Power

Yes, that picture in the previous post DOES contain an authentic, actual photo of Will Ferrell, complete with an autographed note to me. A friend of my aunt’s was his driver for a while, and my aunt asked him to get an autograph for me because we’d talked about how much I like Mr. Ferrell.* So, on days when I’m overwhelmed, bored, or otherwise not enjoying my work, all I have to do is shift my gaze a few inches to the right, and there is Will, smiling at me. How can anyone stay upset with that kind of cheering up?

*I was describing to her a trip to the movies to see Elf with my kids. I giggled so much during the movie that my kids admonished me to be quiet. I still laugh thinking about him waving back to the guy hailing a cab.

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