Archive for Work

Casual Employment

It’s been nine months since I last wrote here. During that time, I experienced an ersatz promotion from my in-office employer. I was made Content Lead for an Eastern European division of a particular client’s training program. I was in charge of putting together their training content. Then I moved on to a Central European country’s training project, and then another. Once complete, I was assigned a South American training project. But, due to financial reasons, was told that all “casual” employees (of which I was one) had their hours cut to zero. Many full-time employees were let go permanently. It was a mass layoff. This, apparently, is common at said Casual Employer Inc.

And, so, I am once again at home, working on freelance projects and keeping my dog company. All of my children are away at college, and my home echos with their absence.

Despite my initial challenges with handling all-day, in-office employment, I miss the purpose I felt driving their each day. And I admit to enjoying the camaraderie I felt with several co-workers. My dog doesn’t like chatting, and our ideas of going out to lunch aren’t the same.

Looking for permanent employment is proving challenging this time around. I was very fortunate last time, applying for one of the first jobs I saw, and then being offered the job. Easy come, easy go. I’ll take the challenge.

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The Imitation Game

Last night I saw the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game. This morning, I sat at my computer to resume the edit of a fairly complex and lengthy computer-network training manual, feeling the touch of Turing’s ghost in every word. The movie moved me. I found Turing’s drive and imagination so far beyond my own that it was a challenge to comprehend. I do, however, find it fascinating. What broke my heart, though, was the way society treated Turing and his ultimate death as a result. What could he have achieved if those around him could have opened their own minds to a fraction of what Turing  was capable of. I continue to wonder what bigotry and ignorance has done to our world—what could have been, if only we all could have been more accepting of those who are different from us?

Working on Location

I have worked out of my home exclusively for the past 17 years. Although I found it challenging at the beginning—the isolation and keeping company with only people under the age of 5 years took some getting used to—I grew to love my cozy home office, and my ability to spend so much time with my children. But three weeks ago, I began working for a company that requires its contract workers to work onsite. Once again, I’m adapting. It’s taking some getting used to, especially in the face of this week’s impending Nor’easter. I keep asking myself if this is the wisest choice I could have made…

449 Followers

I’ve been flirting with the number 450 for months. I admit that I’m not a bountiful tweeter, being of the quality over quantity camp. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but I find my time better spent elsewhere. That’s less a dig at Twitter and its more efficient users and more a commentary on how I get lost in a task and discover hours later that I should have been doing something else—that task whose deadline is now looming, for example. (I’m a freelancer, and so good time management is my savior.) Having said that, I envy those who are so clever that they can manage their Twitter account and meet their deadlines—and do both well.

So, for months Twitter and I have done this dance, moving above and below 450 followers. I’m not concerned…scratch that. I am concerned. I wouldn’t be writing this blog post if I, at some level, was not concerned. Maybe “concerned” isn’t the right word. Maybe “fascinated” better describes what I’m feeling. Or “dismayed.” Each time I log in, my number of followers is different. When it’s 450+, I’m fascinated.

Right now, the number is 449. Color me dismayed.

I should say now that I work on social media as part of my job. I spend a lot of my Twitter time tweeting on behalf of a client, so when I return to my own account, I’m all tweeted out. Add to that my personal Twitter account, which exists solely to track my children’s tweeting habits. I occasionally feel the pressure to tweet from that account to maintain the ruse that I’m just another mom on Twitter—nothing to see here, kids. Just communicating with my tweeps. I swear I’m not stalking you.

Twitter and I have danced like this before. Every milestone had a brief period of wavering back and forth. At this 450 milestone, I may have plateaued. For reasons of my own appreciation of rounded numbers, I’d like to plateau on the other side of 450…

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.

My Workspace

When my kids were little, I worked from a corner of our family room. At first it was at a makeshift desk, and eventually the beautiful desk I have now. As the kids grew, I became increasingly aware of my need to work away from them. I love them dearly, but I could no longer force myself to concentrate within their vicinity.

That’s when I took over the dining room. Despite my husband’s resistance, I rearranged the first floor of our house to accommodate my need for an office. The living room furniture was blended into the family room. The dining room table went into the former living room, and my desk took up residence in the dining room. How did I function for so long, forcing myself to work amidst Dora the Explorer and Guitar Hero? I had my very own office! I felt official. It felt real. And it took only 12 years of freelancing for me to claim a spot for myself.

Now, it’s not perfect, by any means. There’s no door, and the coziness of my house means that I can still see and hear everything thaMy workspacet’s going on. But it’s all mine. And during weeks like this, when the kids are home on spring break, the only way I can get any work done is when I’m listening to sounds of the ocean on noise-canceling ear buds. But it works for me.

A Temporary Island

I’m sitting here in my family room, sleeping dog at my side, waiting for my Internet connection to start working again. How dependent I’ve become to this daisy chain of vital information. I can’t download files I should be copyediting. I can’t research how to make ribbon roses for my latest Demand Studios article. And I can’t copyedit articles for Demand Studios. All these things require a connection to the outside world. Here I sit, secluded and cozy. I can still access email with my phone, but doing research on that little screen is next to impossible.

Okay. It looks like Internet access is back for the moment. I’m downloading the files I should be working on right now. That will keep me busy enough should the connection go kaput again. And, to be honest, if it did, that’s a million fewer things to distract me from working. I believe I’m addicted to the Internet.

Restraint

A blog entry by Carol Saller, the Subversive Copy Editor, got me thinking about the kind of copy editor I was when I first started. My first assignments were done in red pen on paper. A friend and I had both applied for the same two jobs in the same company: one in writing and the other in editing. He  went to writing; I, to copyediting. And, as time and fortune dictate, one of my first assignments was his first book. It wasn’t pretty.

Of course, I, as an overly eager and newly labeled copy editor, went to town on this book. I devoured every mistake in style conformity and spit back pedantic reasons why the changes had to go my way. My pen flew across the pages as I exhibited my knowledge of written grammar. I wasn’t being vindictive. He was a good friend, and we spent lots of time together before that experience. I wanted to “help” him be a better writer. He was kindly receptive to my enthusiastic criticism because that’s the kind of person he was — open-minded, respectful, and patient. Unlike me.

I like to think that both time and fortune have a hand in making me a better copy editor than I was back then.

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. . . .

Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing

Once again, I don’t have much to say, but I want to keep the momentum going and make sure I write something everyday. Eventually I hope to be worthy of readership. (I’m clearly not there yet.) Today, I have some proofreading to do, a few articles to write, and a bid to calculate.