So I had an epic post about marketing your internet business using LinkedIn, proof-read it and everything, and the moment I hit "post" - it just disappeared.
Gone. Gone forever it seems. Serves me right for trusting Weebly's website builder without writing a hard-copy, I guess.
In lieu of a well-developed blog post, I'm going to leave you with this video clip instead (give it about 15 seconds). Enjoy.
Happy Thursday kids! Or as my spin-instructor used to say, “Happy tiny Friday!”*
I actually wrote a blog post a few days ago, but by the time I got around to posting it, the moment had passed, and I scrapped the whole thing. It was just a lot of hemming and hawing about whether or not I should take a job that someone offered me out of the blue, and spoiler alert, in the end I decided not to take it. Mostly because it didn't seem like a great fit for my interests and because I didn’t want to abandon my editing business after spending so much time and energy to get it off the ground.
But I guess this was the week of job offers, because then a former employer of mine reached out and asked if I was interested in a part-time appointment to edit papers and proposals for his group. Now that was something I was definitely interested in, since it relieves a lot of the pressure from me that it takes to attract and develop relationships with new clients. We debated salary, I emailed him a number, and then he doubled it.** Not bad! We’re not talking Trump dollars here, but I’m pleased. A small, but steady-income to supplement my freelance work will make a big difference.
In non-work related news, I saw an awesome new movie in theaters this past weekend. Seriously, check out your nearest independent movie house and see if they’re playing Hunt for the Wilderpeople (100% on Rotten Tomatoes!). It was light-hearted, funny, likable, etc. It’s the first movie I’ve seen in a long time where I really enjoyed myself and didn't feel scammed out of the price of a ticket.*** Really nice chemistry between the two main characters, including Sam Neill (Dr. Grant!), as a crotchety New Zealand bushman, and his foster son, a Maori city kid played by Julian Dennison. Loved the director’s cameo as a local priest, too (see above). And you can’t beat that New Zealand landscape. My only critique of the movie was that it was maybe 20 minutes too long, and very occasionally got a little too close to saccharine for comfort, but overall it wasn’t a problem. I so enjoyed the movie that I checked out the book that it’s based on, Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. It’s a cute little story, with a great narrative voice. It’s funny, I’ve often found that short, simple books like this one make good movies. Winter’s Bone comes to mine as another great novella that adapted well to cinema.****
The other big news in our house is that we broke down and bought one of those Roomba style robot vacuum cleaners (not a Roomba though, the cheaper knock-off model). I was against it, I hate wasting money on gadgets (I’ve got a juice-maker, a Mia Clairsonic, and Wii gathering dust in my closet), but my husband couldn’t take the animal hair and grit anymore and didn’t like my suggestion to just wear slippers.***** Anyway, it arrived yesterday, and so far I’m pleasantly surprised. It actually seems to work, and does so with a kind of cheerful efficiency. It was humming away all morning and each time I thought about docking it to give it a little rest, it just looked like it was having so much fun that I didn’t have the heart.
Aren't its whiskers cute? (That's the first video I've ever uploaded to YouTube. It's a brave new world!******)
And since this post turned into something of a jumble of updates and recommendations, I’m also going to suggest you check out two articles published in the New Yorker this week. They’re both pretty amazing:
Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tell’s All by Jane Mayer.
Illuminating and frightening to say the least. Best quote: “If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, ‘The Sociopath.’”
The Libertarian’s Secret Weapon by Ryan Lizza
A great profile and explanation of the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, whose name you may have heard tossed around as a kind of alternate to Trump for Republican voters. I’m firmly a Democrat, but this Johnson guy sounds far more reasonable and sane than Trump. I have no problem with people who have a different ideology from me (the appropriate role of the federal government for instance). I do have a problem when a narcissistic lunatic is making a serious bid for running the country, who lacks any kind of belief other than his own superiority.
In other news, I’ve been writing a lot more these past two weeks. If I haven’t yet gotten back into the habit of a daily writing routine, I’ve at least been powering out three to four thousand words at a time. I’m cool with that.
Almost the weekend! Hope you have something fun planned.*******
*Let’s make “tiny Friday” a thing.
**This makes me wonder why I continue to undervalue my own work. I seriously thought the salary I had quoted him was too much. I asked my husband why he thinks that women like myself tend to do this. His answer? “Because you’re afraid of confrontation.” Sounds about right.
***Unlike The Revenant…I don’t care how difficult it was to make. If I don’t give a shit about the characters, your movie was no good.
****Featuring Jennifer Lawrence, no less, before she was famous.
*****Pro-tip: If you wear slippers in the house, you can’t feel how dirty the floor is.
******And now I know to rotate the phone sideways if I want to share a video…
*******Can I suggest you go see Hunt for the Wilderpeople?
So I felt compelled to write this little public service announcement about Lyme disease because both my parents have been treated for it recently. They live in Maryland, which is a hot-bed for Lyme disease carrying ticks, but so is the East Coast in general. It's not an uncommon disease, and not too bad if you catch it in time, which is why I wanted to share these lesser known signs of Lyme Disease:
Rashes, but not necessarily shaped in a bulls-eye
Both my parents, at different times, noticed their knees had become incredibly and inexplicably sore. My mother said that she sat down at her desk, feeling fine, and by the time she stood back up again, she noticed that the insides of her knees had become incredibly sore and painful to the touch. She said she was hobbling, the pain was so bad. She knew there was obviously something wrong, and being an East Coaster, suspected Lyme disease straight away. Both my parents work outdoors a lot, so they get bit by ticks all the time. Not all ticks carry Lyme disease, but some do.
Anyway, she went to the doctor, described her symptoms, and they gave her antibiotics straight away. Now she feels all better.
It's interesting, because everyone is told to watch out for bulls-eye shaped rashes as a sign of Lyme disease, but turns out very few people develop such a distinct rash. My mother remembered having a strange rash at one point, but said it was so minor looking that she thought nothing of it at the time.
My father, however, did have the classic bulls-eye rash (in addition to sore knees), and again, just went to the doctor where they gave him antibiotics, and he too feels just fine now. It's a serious disease if it progresses too long (Amy Tan wrote some really alarming stuff about her advanced Lyme disease, particularly in her excellent memoir, The Opposite of Fate), but if you know the signs it seems to be very treatable when caught early. The CDC has a good resource here for what to look out for.
Wherever you live in the world, if you happen to visit the East Coast of the United States, and you later have unexplained flu-ish symptoms, a rash, and sore joints/knees, please consider telling your doctor that you've traveled in a region that experiences high rates of Lyme disease.
I've grown up being aware of the symptoms my entire life, but not until this year did I think to look out for sore knees based on my parents' experiences. Just something I thought would be worth sharing.
A few things I've noticed since I started working from home these past two weeks:
-My old job is already receding into memory. All the problems I had, the times I felt really angry about my situation - it's all melted away. I have no reason to care about any of it anymore. It's such a relief to be able to let all that go.
-It took me about a week to get out of the habit of monitoring my old work email. Eventually I realized it's just not my problem anymore.
-I've completely lost track of time. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that I had to edit these past few weekends (playing catch-up), so I haven't had a good sense of weekdays and weekends. I've solved this issue by keeping a journal of my daily work activity (I think it's important to keep track of how many hours I'm working on different projects) and noting the day on top of each page.
-I've started eating a lot better. This seems counter intuitive since working from home seems to be code for "I graze from the kitchen all day long." But the truth is, I keep much healthier food at home. There's all kinds of junk food temptation when I leave the house. I once counted that I passed two Taco Bells, two McDonalds, and probably half-a-dozen gas stations on my commute to my old job. Gas stations were my Achilles heel because I would always stop and buy big bags of popcorn to self-medicate myself on the long drive home. Now that's not an issue anymore, and I find myself reaching for salad, fruit, nuts, eggs, fish, etc. Physically, I'm feeling much better.
-I've stopped browsing on the internet and snacking. I realize I spent a lot of time at my old job finding ways to avoid doing work, by either eating or reading my twitter news feed, because I hated what I did for a living. Now my work is aligned with my personal and professional goals, so there's no reason to avoid any of it. Time I don't spend working on my projects or editing jobs is just wasted time that ultimately hurts me and this opportunity I have. Funny how productive you can be when you're working on your own ideas, rather than somebody else's.
-Rather than snacking or goofing around on my phone, I have this tendency to get drawn into chores as a form of distraction. Not sure if this is really a problem though. I guess it just depends on whether I'm getting my work goals finished each day.
-The biggest issue I've had is not making enough time for my own writing, and that has to change. I've been so wrapped up in finding more clients and finishing editing jobs that I've kept pushing off writing, which is bad because I quit my old job specifically so I could write more. Funny that I made more time for writing when I was working at that job, probably because it was my escape. Oh well, just something I have to change. I've been experimenting with my schedule these last two weeks and just haven't decided on the time that will ultimately be devoted to my daily writing, editing, and publishing activities. I will though.
That said, I did manage to write and edit a 3500 word short story over the course of about two days this week, which is light speed faster compared to my previous rate (it used to take me 1-2 months to finish one). So while I'm struggling to reinstate my daily writing habit, I'm at least writing faster.
Anyway, just a few thoughts from the work-at-home trenches. It's such a weird and new experience for me. I'm enjoying it so much, but I also keep waiting for the other foot to drop. Like, is it really going to be this awesome...forever?
Let's see how I feel when I pay myself at the end of the month.
When we moved out to the country, we had to give up our internet along with other city conveniences, like brunch, and trash pickup. There's also no cable where we live, so no TV either. Yes, a satellite dish would solve both of these problems, but it just seemed like more trouble (and money) than it was worth. Plus, I kind of liked not having the constant distraction of TV and internet constantly beckoning me.
When we left Durham, I think we'd just finished watching the 4th season of Game of Thrones. It's never been my favorite show, probably because I'm not a big fan of high fantasy in general, but I watched it anyway because it was an addictive soap opera.
Post-internet, I continued to follow GoT by reading recaps during breaks at work. And honestly, the recaps were almost as good, if not better, than the show itself. They also saved me a hell of a lot of time, and told me what I already knew: it's just a soap opera. Not great art. Just a story built on cliffhangers and melodrama.
Anyway, I've been visiting my parents this week and working from home at their place so I can hang out with them in the evenings. Last night they asked if I wanted to watch the season finale of GoT with them, knowing that I haven't been watching the show for the last two seasons. I said sure, why not. I felt pretty up-to-date from the recaps.
And you know what? I understood everything perfectly. Having watched the first few seasons to get myself acquainted with the characters and setting, I was perfectly able to follow along after missing TWO SEASONS of the show by reading episode recaps alone.
And my parents? They had one question, which they repeated throughout the episode:
Thankfully, I was there and able to fill them in.
So can I suggest you save some time by cutting out at least one show from this "golden age" of television and following along with TV recaps instead (if you must)? It's what I did with Downton Abbey, and it's what I'm doing now with Orange is the New Black.
And no, I have no FOMO about it. I just ask myself, when I'm on my death bed, will I care that I never watched seasons 3 and 4 of OITNB? Will I even care if I skip half the recaps? All of them? Remain totally clueless about how Downton Abbey even ended? Nope. I don't think that's going to be on my mind when I die.
I just think there are better ways to spend your time than watching upscale soap operas. Like reading a book, or writing one. Like maybe for once, we should take a break from consuming so much entertainment/media/art, and take a stab at actually creating some.
Writer, editor, scientist.