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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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

 

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.

Reading Speed

According to an eReader interactive quiz, I read more slowly than an 8th grader. Okay. That’s nothing new. I’m methodical in my reading. I read every word, often more than once. If the author and myriad prepress eyes thought the word was necessary, I’m not going to argue with them. For what it’s worth, I got all three review questions correct, so my comprehension is decent. Improving my reading speed would likely improve my ability to bring in more cash, though. Hmm…

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.

Learning a Lesson

Today I begin an online freelance writing course. Years ago, I took a continuing education/university evening class about breaking into freelance writing. The timing wasn’t good, though, as I had just moved to a new city, had begun a new job, and was starting a family. I admit, I’m not great with multitasking. I prefer to give one task all of my attention, and then move on to the next item on my To Do list.

So, this writing course. I’m a bit overwhelmed by it. As usual. I’ve received only the first lesson, and I’m still hesitant to dive in. But dive in, I will, as that’s really the only way I’ll get myself started. I’m either on the precipice of something wonderful, or not. We’ll see how it goes.

BLAH-g

So, I’ve heard that it’s not that writers like to write–it’s that they have to write. They feel compelled. If that’s the definition of a writer, then count me out. As evidenced by this bare blog, I don’t feel compelled to write anything. My lack of writing drive is so strong that I had to enforce a “Monday blog entry” rule so I’d have some regular content. The alternative would have me, in a month or two, remember, “Hey, I have a blog. I should probably write something for it soon,” thus adding yet one more thing to my mental To Do list.

That list is spotty, as is my memory. Most of the items aren’t even verbalized–they’re just vague notions not quite formed that only result in a stressed out sense that “there’s something I should be doing…” and my inability to identify what that is. So, if I don’t formalize and put into words the tasks I need to do, their ghosts haunt me, bringing about feelins of inadequacy and dissatisfaction.

The result of this Monday rule is this entry. Blah, blah, blah. Just a bunch of words–a stream of consciousness. I find such streams helpful, though, for forcing the ghosts in my head to pass through some form of thought process to become words. Once they become words, they become real to me and no longer vague notions.

This week’s entry: I don’t want to write. I have to write, because I told myself I had to. I don’t think that’s quite the same as needing to write.

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.

Monday Mornings

Okay. It’s apparent that if I’m going to keep this blog going, I need to schedule time to write. And so my baby step toward this goal is to write something every Monday morning. It’s a snowy day, but not by much. This warmer-than-usual winter has left us with more dreary, rainy days than snowy. I’ll take the snow.

I’ve been fighting a flu-y cold thing for over a week, and it is taking all the energy I can muster to keep working. But today I have a nice chunk of work to finish, and an invoice issue to address. I should get started.

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.

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