Archive for Optimism

9/11

I was 320 miles away, safe in my family room, watching the events of 9/11 unfold. I would have been blissfully unaware had John not called to ask me what was going on in NYC. I relayed to him what sense I could make of the images on the television.

I started counting the number of loved ones who might be in Manhattan that day. We were fortunate–everyone we knew directly was safe.

Later, my daughter and her friend would go door to door, collecting money for the children in NYC. This was their idea, and there was no way we could stop them. They would eventually receive a letter of thanks from the mayor.

My son, who was in second grade, seemed fine. Unaffected. He went about those first few days as any 7-year-old would. But each night, just a few moments after he went to bed, he would throw up. This went on for days, until finally my husband sat him down and asked if anything was bothering him. He told my husband that when he went to bed, he kept thinking of all the little kids whose parents never made it home from work that night.

My youngest, only 4 and just starting preschool, was too young to process what happened. But he accompanied me from store to store on my quest to find an American flag. Every store here was sold out, and until then we didn’t own one. I wound up painting American flags on our front windows with poster paint, a small act of support for those who lost everything that day.

I pray for peace, love, and understanding.

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Renaissance Woman

Once again, CareerBuilder.com is playing fast and loose with their interpretation of “qualifications.” Although I’m flattered that they think I’m this much of a Renaissance Woman, I don’t come close to being qualified for any of these positions. Here are my suggested job applications for this week:

  • solar cell design engineer
  • material scientist chemical engineer
  • lead teacher – early childhood education/preschool
  • registered dietician
  • real estate sales associate
  • recreation assistant
  • product surveillance specialist

and, my personal favorite:

  • cryptologic linguist for the US Army

I’ve received phone calls and email messages from head hunters and job placement agencies, desperate to place me in one of their open positions. I had no idea I was so marketable! Unfortunately, the vast majority of these “offers” don’t come close to resembling jobs for which I’m qualified. It seems these humans can’t accurately assess an applicant’s qualifications any better than automated online databases such as CareerBuilder can.

Although, they may be on to something here. I am a mom. And, as such, have gathered and honed a wide variety of skills I might not otherwise have come close to. For example, when my children were younger, I worked from home and was able to spend a lot of time with them. I was their lead teacher in so many things: feeding and dressing themselves, toilet training, sharing, language skills, writing their names, creative play, and so on.  As my household’s resident material scientist chemical engineer, I was responsible for identifying mysterious chemical combinations all over the house: crayon wall murals, missed toileting opportunities, and the sippy cup full of milk left behind the couch for three days,  for starters. I also created chemical concoctions such as salt dough and slime, providing hours of play.

As a solar cell design engineer, I was responsible for calculating the amount of solar light my charges absorbed, and applying protective layers of sunblock to them as necessary. Like a registered dietician, one of my main goals was setting up menus, creating nutritious meals, and getting my kids to eat more than apple juice and Teddy Grahams. I performed the duties of recreation assistant by bringing my kids to tee-ball, playing hopscotch with them, and organizing play dates. As my household’s real estate sales associate, I assisted in coordinating the tasks involved in building a home, such as choosing flooring, exterior covering, and window types. I identified paint colors and other home improvements that would maintain the “saleability” of our home and made them happen. My skills in the product surveillance industry include maintaining the quality of my products by keeping them healthy and safe, ensuring regular visits to the family physician for product maintenance, forcing them to wear coats in the winter, and forbidding them from jumping off the shed roof. I continue honing that skill to this day, attempting to know where my products/children are at all times and not allowing them to do stupid things. (Refer to “wear coats in winter” and “shed roof” for more clarification.)

And, although I’ve never been in the US Army, I can say that I have performed the duties of cryptologic linguist innumerable times. Anyone who has tried to decipher what a two-year-old is saying will back me up on that one.

Hey, if CareerBuilder can play fast and loose with job qualifications, then I certainly can do the same with job titles.

New Client

Back in December I faced the possibility of losing two clients. One was reconfiguring the organization, and the other had been chiming the death knoll for a while and I was finally facing that reality.

As a freelancer, I need to be looking for new opportunities continually. Sometimes I succeed in this, and sometimes I do not. Such results depend on how busy I am with current projects and life in general. December, for me, typically provides more work than I can accomplish because my time is shared with the excesses of the holiday season. Midway through December, I took some time to troll through my usual sources for job/client leads. I came across, among other opportunies, a call for scientific journal copyeditors. I applied, and continued with the project I’d been working on. Despite being qualified for the jobs I apply for, the glut of applicants usually means it’s less likely I’ll get a response from a large portion of them.

A few days later, I received an email message, and they were interested. Pay was good. Work was steady. These two factors are huge when it comes to freelancing. And so far, they’ve been a great client. I’m moving through the learning curve, getting used to their process and expectations, and I look forward to working with them for a while.

Acquiring new clients is never an easy task  for me. I feel uncomfortable performing the self-adulation that most potential clients require. So, with that considered, I am grateful for any opportunity to work with a new client.

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.

Back Again

The rush of the holidays took away my momentum. Coming back is difficult–it’s much easier to “forget” this blog exists and continue on my merry way. But with the new year come new resolutions. One of mine is to ramp up my writing and get published for real in one legitimate magazine/periodical. I’ve been writing for Demand Studios for almost a year now. The reason I began writing for them was to establish a portfolio of sorts. I hope my work there will be seen as legitimate enough to open a gateway to better-paying and more “prestigious” publications. I guess we’ll see. In my experience, these resolutions were made to be broken. . . .

Opportunity

I just finished a substantive edit of a friend’s manuscript. His candor about a difficult situation inspired me and was a great reminder: Everyone has suffered heartache. It’s what they do after the experience that’s important.