Thurs. March 19, 2020: It’s Not All Working in Pajamas and Drinking Wine

Thursday, March 19, 2020
Waning Moon
Ostara – Spring Equinox

Today is when the hours of daylight balance the hours of dark, and daylight lengthens until Midsummer. May that be a good omen for the coming months!

Hop on over to Gratitude and Growth for a garden update.

I am grateful that the bulk of my work can be done remotely. I am a skilled and experienced remote worker, productive and reliable. I am lucky enough to live in a space that has a covered deck and a yard big enough so I can get out in the fresh air. If I was still in my 42nd Street NYC apartment, it would be quite different.

We’re all having different kinds of stresses, and I’m going to talk about some of the ones that I’m facing as a freelancer, and stresses some of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances are going through.

The worst stress in this situation, for me, comes from the clients who demand that I work onsite. I’ve ended relationships with some of them. I doubt we’ll work together again after this is over. One client is away this week; I’ve been able to work in an empty office. The other in-office person and I are staggering hours and disinfecting doorknobs, surfaces, etc. when we enter and leave. But next week, when she’s back and doesn’t believe a virus would ever dare attack her? Or that she couldn’t possibly be a carrier? We have a problem.

Stresses are added as other small business clients cancel upcoming projects. I totally understand. I’ve offered to help them craft and send their COVID-19 policy email blasts or web copy at a reduced rate and then, if they need remote help during the quarantine, or getting back up to speed at the end of it (whenever that will be), we can work out a rate that works for both of us — so I’m not hurting myself, but not taking advantage of them, either. Most of them don’t want to craft a policy statement — they just want to stop it all and throw up a few words on their website or in their auto-response. I understand that reaction, but I believe a thoughtful, well-crafted statement will serve them better in the long run. Keep communication open. Let your customers/audience know you care, wish them well, and look forward to hosting them again when it’s safe and possible.

Stresses are added as non-clients, who’ve always sneered at what I do, saying, “I don’t pay for that” (meaning writing and marketing) are now coming to me DEMANDING that I write copy and market their business FOR FREE so they can stay afloat. I’m being told I “owe it to the community.”

No, I don’t. Especially not to people who never took what I did seriously. I, too, have bills to pay. Plus, a lot of the strategy they want is fear-based and predatory, and I won’t participate in that.

Stresses are added when people contact me and DEMAND that all my books be available for free. My publisher and I considered doing that with the first book in each series. It would take at least two weeks to put the change through in a normal situation, with the distributors. It would take longer now, with people not being able to go into work, and not every system being set up so that it can all be done remotely. I heard a rumor that Amazon’s not filling Kindle orders, and that they’re only shipping physical orders they deem “essential.” I’m not sure if that’s true or not.

But with all these demands that all of my books are up for free? John Scalzi and TOR can afford to put up RED SHIRTS for free as part of their book club. Believe me, I’m glad they did. Other authors are putting up their books for free. Great. They have the resources. I don’t. The books that sold in the last few months (whose royalty check should be coming through shortly, because it’s 45 days after the end of the half-year) will pay my utilities. I hope. Or maybe my mother’s health insurance next month, when I might not have the money coming in the week I usually do to pay for it.

Stresses are added when clueless recruiters contact me, having found my profile on LinkedIn. One recruiter told me that if I “really wanted” to work for the company he represented, I would be willing to commute in to Boston during the pandemic, because “it’s not killing as many people as the flu does.” This is for copywriting. There is no reason copywriting can’t be done remotely.

I told him to grow up and stop watching Fox News.

When I asked another recruiter who approached me what their COVID-19 policy is, I was told, “We don’t have one. We don’t need one. People don’t come in, they’re fired. When this is all over, the unemployment rate will be 20% and we can hire anyone at half of what we’re paying them now.”

Again, this is for copywriting. No reason it can’t be done remotely.

Stresses are added when idiots on social media rant that it’s “obvious” that any job that can be done remotely isn’t “real” or “necessary” and only those done in-person are. Um, no. Both kinds of work are essential, in different ways. What it does is spotlight HOW MUCH work could and should be done remotely, but how little employers trust the people they hire. It spotlights that workers that we need to be onsite — in the grocery stores, truck drivers, gas station attendants, sanitation workers, and all kinds of health care professionals and first responders, deserve a living wage and benefits. It spotlights that EVERY company, no matter what size, MUST give their workers paid sick leave, including part-time workers, and that health insurance cannot be tied to one’s job. On top of that, it feeds into the whole myth that artists shouldn’t be paid for their work because it isn’t “real” work and they should be doing it “for the love of it.” No, it’s a valid profession.

It’s stressful to go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, for obvious reasons, between people panic buying and the worry that we could all infect each other. Someone actually said I was “lucky” to have an elderly parent, so I could take her along and take advantage of the grocery store’s special hours for the elderly. Um, no. She’s staying HOME. I can go shopping an hour later, and then scrub down and disinfect when I get home.

The actual part when I’m home, plugging along at my work? Is pretty normal. I enjoy the work, as I said, I’m skilled and productive in remote work. I’m trying to offer advice and support and resources to people trying to adjust to working for home. I love working remotely, I always have. I take joy in what I do. I’m an introvert, so not socializing for weeks is fine — I’m fine interacting on social media. I miss going to museums and the library, but I’m not having a hard time in the same way extroverts are struggling. I’m lucky that I know how to keep myself occupied and engaged. I’m lucky that I need a lot of solitude.

Parents are under huge stresses with kids home. If they can’t work remotely, who looks after the kids? If they can work remotely, it’s about figuring out how to get work done while also trying to keep school-age kids learning, and younger kids occupied. I’ve heard that some of these online sessions demand up to seven hours a day of “monitored” learning by the parent. WTF?

When I was in fourth grade, I had to travel with my family from New York back to Chicago because my dad had a special surgery there. My teacher sent me with an entire suitcase full of schoolbooks (no internet at that time). I sat, in the hotel room, for six hours a day, and did my work. Quietly. Because once my dad was out of the hospital, he was resting in the other part of the suite, and I had to be quiet. I mailed my assignments in once a week. I had other books to read when I wasn’t working, and board games. Cards. Lots of cards. I remember playing so many card games. That serves me to this day. My mother and I went to museums and the zoo and walked around when we could (which was lucky — we didn’t have to isolate). But my mother wasn’t “monitoring” my schoolwork. She had to deal with hospital issues and field questions and issues from my father’s office. She was pretty fed up we had to lug an entire suitcase of books to Chicago, and she felt six hours’ worth of work a day was too much, but it was up to me to get it done. Granted, I was nine at the time, and able to take on that responsibility. If I was younger, it would have been harder. If I had been older, we’d have had to deal with bad attitude on my part, probably.

I was lucky growing up. I had more freedom than a lot of my peers, and lot more than most kids get today. But there were two things absolutely forbidden in the house. You never, ever, ever were “bored.” No such thing as boredom. The world is an interesting place, and if you’re bored, that’s on you. Engage. The other thing was I could never ask for something because “everyone” had it or did it. I had to present reasons why I wanted it that were separate from the herd.

Name actors who make millions per movie are fine, with all the entertainment shutdowns but the regular working actors? The tech crews? Musicians? They’re all suffering. This is the time the unions could step up and prove why they’re necessary, but all I hear is silence. I’m not hearing much from producers, either.

Marriott is laying people off, but there was a story that when workers file for unemployment, claiming they’re not “laid off” but their hours are cut back — to zero. Why are they getting away with that? They can afford to carry their employees for a few weeks.

Cruise ship bailouts? Really? The cruise industry makes enormous profits. It’s one of the most profitable industries out there. I don’t have the current figures, but when I started shopping the Nautical Namaste Mysteries several years ago, the cruise industry brought in $37 BILLION dollars in profits a year, and it’s only grown. These ships fly under international flags to avoid paying US taxes. So why are they bailed out with US tax dollars because their admin offices are in Florida, California, and New York?

I don’t want to see airline bailouts, either. They didn’t “trickle down” their tax cuts. They’ve raised fees, fought raising pay and benefits for workers, and done stock buybacks instead of investing in their workforce. That shows they don’t know how to manage money. Don’t give them more to mismanage. Make them EARN it. Some airlines need to go under, so new airlines who actually treat both customers and employees right can emerge.

We do need Universal Basic Income right now. Desperately. Not maybe by the end of April, but by the end of next week. Much more than bailing out huge corporations that squandered everything they keep getting handed and screwed their employees. UBI would keep food on the table and a roof over my head. It would allow me to support individual businesses by buying from them rather than big box stores (which I try to do anyway) and maybe allow some of them to hire me for remote writing work. While we’re saving our lives and those of the people around us by not infecting each other.

We need to make sure the health care professionals have what they need to protect themselves and stay healthy and to care for people coming in sick. That has to be a priority. That and testing EVERYONE. So we can get real numbers. Up manufacturing what we need. Get the supplies to the medical profession.

It’s not at all surprising that this administration has failed on such a large scale. The arrogance, the greed, the grift, the racism, has been on full display since the 2016 campaign. Now, they ALL need to be removed, as issues of both public safety and national security. Policies that save lives and get people back on their feet need to be put in place.

Then, when we are up and running again, the corruption needs to have consequences. Or this will all just happen again.

So those are some of what’s happening in my world. I’m deeply grateful for what is working right now — the remote work I have (such as reviewing books and contest entries, articles, the clients with whom I’m still working). Plenty of people are under much worse stress than I am, especially if they’ve got underlying health issues. I’m lucky that the health crisis that could have killed me was handled before the pandemic hit. I’m worried because my mother is in the highest risk category, and I have to do whatever protects her — even if it means losing clients. There are going to be some nasty scenes in the upcoming weeks, because there are still people acting like it’s not a big deal, and/or it won’t happen to them, so why can’t they go about their normal routine? Why can’t they put lives in danger because they “feel fine.”

The arrogance of it all is unbelievable.

Today, I intend to enjoy Ostara, and have a solitary ceremony, on the deck if the weather is good enough. I made some rune eggs yesterday that we’ll eat as egg salad for lunch. If the weather holds, I’ll do yard work.

Tomorrow was supposed to be my surgery, so I cleared it. I’m taking it as a rest day. Extra yoga and meditation. I might read books for review or contest entries, but I intend to enjoy the day.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tues. March 17, 2020: Finally Some Serious Action Around Here

Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Waning Moon
St. Patrick’s Day

I’m sure a lot of people are disappointed at the cancelled St. Patrick’s Day Festivities. But hey, better safe than dead.

Gotta reach all the way back to last Wednesday to catch up. Wednesday was my birthday. Wrote, got some client work done, and we did the birthday gathering via Skype rather than in-person, for safety’s sake. We each had nibbles and drinks in our own spaces and laughed and talked and lifted our glasses. Virtual party. Not bad.

When I worked for The Interactive Telecommunications Department/Alternate Media Center at NYU as part of my work/study, way back in the 1980’s, we had one of the first virtual videoconferencing holiday parties with our counterparts in China. It was fun — and technology’s come a long way since then!

Read in the evening, got some writing done, did some more cleaning.

Got a fabulous birthday gift from a friend — his original art work! I’m looking forward to finding just the right frames for it and hanging it up.

Thursday was the big cleaning day. I made one quick run to the library to drop off/pick up books, and the rest of the day was spring cleaning. Finished washing the windows, at least inside. Polished furniture, including the front door (which is wood). Scrubbed down everything, including doorknobs. Vacuumed — the two and a half hour detailed vacuuming, not the usual weekly 90-minute vacuuming. Scrubbed floors. It gave us a jump start on the spring cleaning, while also giving us the chance to do some deep cleaning/disinfecting, in light of everything that’s going on.

Friday morning, our landlord arrived early, but stayed out in his truck and/or talked to us from halfway across the yard. The Energy Guy came, complete with gloves, gear, etc. We weren’t sick AND we’d disinfected the whole house the day before, AND we were his first stop of the day, so it was all a pretty decent scenario all the way around.

The guy was really nice. He was pleased that all our bulbs are energy efficient already. He checked the insulation, and wants to add a little in the attic, and more in the unfinished part of the basement. He also said they’re going to replace both the fridge and the washer. The fridge was switched out last summer when the other fridge died — this one is original to the house, which means it’s about 50 years old. The new fridge will have the freezer at the bottom, which is much easier. The washer will be a front-load — my preference. The washer/dryer were replaced about six or seven years ago, and I’d hoped it would be with a front-load, but it wasn’t, and this top loader’s been eating clothes ever since.

I said that since I was just the tenant, the landlord had to be okay with all these choices. The energy guy said, no, since I AM the tenant, I make these choices. The landlord is the one who wants the loan for the new furnace. That means he has to comply with/allow all these upgrades from this company — which are FREE to him — in order to get the loan. On top of that, he can’t raise our rent or sell the house to anyone but us for at least a year after the work is COMPLETE.

Good to know.

Especially since none of this hoopla was necessary, because our rent more than pays for a new furnace.

But again — I have to take off work for the construction. I have to take off work for the appliance deliveries — do they not understand that people here WORK for a living?

Anyway, he was very nice and done in an hour, so it was all good. Left us more light bulbs and a fridge thermometer and all kinds of swag. — emphasizing again, it was for US, not the landlord.

Once he was done, I headed to CVS to pick up my pre-op prescription. Which CVS refused to fill. They shrugged and said, “We don’t like your insurance, it’s not authorized, there’s no way it can be fixed.”

Which, of course, is all B.S. — and it’s not up to them to “like” my insurance. I realize they ate AETNA insurance, but that doesn’t mean we all now have AETNA. Bite me, assholes.

But I was still overwrought and burst into tears in the car.

Pulled myself together, did a little grocery shopping. Trader Joe’s was plague of the locusts. I got the last loaf of multi-grain bread. I only needed about 10 things — everyone else had shopping carts FILLED and the shelves were practically empty. You mean they’re actually starting to take things seriously?

Swung by the library to drop off/pick up. They’re taking precautions, I’m taking precautions. I’m not doing any work there, just switching out books and DVDS. They’re wiping everything down, and so am I when I get them home. They’ve cancelled all programs until the end of April.

Falmouth, Mashpee, and Sandwich closed schools until the end of March. NYPL is closed until the end of March. West Dennis Library is closed for the next few weeks. Broadway is shuttered for awhile — let’s hope the unions are stepping up to help their members out of work right now, because I seriously doubt the producers will.

I keep expecting my surgery to get postponed, but they’re trying to get me through it before it hits crisis point here.

Talked to the office of the specialist doing next week’s surgery about the prescription. They will sort it out. I can pick it up today, supposedly. I’ll believe that when it happens. CVS sucks.

Home, tried to recover, showered, headed back to the first specialist for my follow-up appointment. We all kept safe distances in the waiting room, and the doctor and I spoke across the room.

I didn’t need to go through an exam because all the pathology came back clean, my blood work is good (except for the anemia), my vitals are good, and I’m healing. He’s very pleased. He said he’d only need to see me every 1-2 years from here out, and he doesn’t believe I’ll EVER need the more radical surgery, and that I’ll be healthier for the rest of my life because I didn’t have it. I’m grateful for that.

He believes the pathology from the upcoming surgery will come back clean, too, based on the tests. I hope he’s right.

Relieved. Won’t be time to pop the champagne cork until the pathology results come back from the next surgery, but let’s hope for the best. Had he not fixed the problem that led to the first surgery, there’s a good chance I’d be dead; however, since he was able to fix it and it wasn’t part of a bigger problem, things are looking up.

Provided I don’t get COVID-19.

So that was a happy relief.

Worked on books for review. Also read the first book of a new series, HERE COMES THE BODY by Maria DiRico. Hilarious. Absolutely loved it. Set in Astoria and Manhattan by someone who actually knows the area, with smart, engaging characters, it was a ton of fun.

I’ve ordered the first book in her other series (under a different name). She’s a damn good writer, and I look forward to more of her books, under whatever names.

The cats got me up way too early on Saturday. Fed them, wrote. Made a quick library run to drop off/pick up. Put some gas in the car, just to be safe.

Stayed in and read most of the day. Got some writing done, but not much. It’s tough to concentrate with all this going on. Did laundry.

Hearing from friends and acquaintances who are bored and home and want to talk. Well, honey, that’s lovely, but: A) I have hyperaccusis and the phone is not an option; and B) MY schedule isn’t all that different. I’m still working. Most of my work is remote. My schedule’s still packed, except I’m not going to co-working spaces or working out of the library. Some projects for small businesses are cancelling because they’re closed indefinitely. I need to replace that work and meet the deadlines of the work I still have. Just in case the work dries up. And then there’s C) which is that I have yet more surgery coming up this week, so I have to work ahead (again) and prepare myself both mentally and physically for that. Nattering is not on the menu right now. It adds more stress, not less.

Email me. Most of you haven’t been in touch for a few years anyway. There’s this attitude (again) that your time is more valuable than mine. It’s not. I can’t drop everything because it’s finally convenient for you. We can catch up by email. I’ll answer when I can. But I’m not losing what work I have because you’re home and bored! Nor am I repeating the same information over and over again because you can’t be bothered to check the blog or social media. I’m using technology to keep in touch, here, people! Twenty-first century and all.

Waiting for a payment from one of the radio plays that’s now nearly two months after the fact. Reviewing is remote, and I’m upping the reading to up the income as much as I can, while still being thorough and responsible. Plus, I still have contest entries to work on, which I will focus on more, especially if one client in particular pulls the plug or insists on putting us in danger. I might end up unemployed from that gig, but at least I’d be alive. As would my mom. I’m more worried about her, because she’s in her nineties.

I have some money coming in over the next few months, but I count on the part-time regular gig to make up the difference. And the decent money’s not until at least May, and some in June/July, so that doesn’t help right now. Waiting to hear back on a few article pitches, and prepping a few more. Fingers crossed that they hit the right sweet spots. All of that can be done remotely and safely.

Let’s just say I have no faith that we’d actually get paid sick leave, no matter what the House of Representatives passed. Companies will wiggle out of it, and since McConnell’s priority was a three-day fundraising weekend with Brett Kavanaugh of all people — who, as a Supreme Court Justice shouldn’t appear at ANY fundraiser — let’s just say I have my doubts anything will happen.

Universal Basic Income for the next three months would save a lot of jobs and lives, but they’re more interested in giving the money to Wall Street than to anyone who, you know, WORKS for a living.

People are dying because the government is more interested in personal profit. I mean, this is not new. I noticed it during the Reagan years and since. But it’s completely out of control.

Didn’t sleep well on Saturday night. Too worried about everything. I mean, we have plenty of supplies. I might not be able to cook exactly what I want at this very moment, but there’s plenty of food in stock, for us and the cats, and cat litter.

The cats got me up at 4 AM Sunday. Fed them and went back to bed, but they weren’t having it. So I was up early, did some writing, worked on reviews.

Worked ahead on some blog posts for Ink-Dipped Advice. I want to schedule them to post over the next few weeks, since who knows what will be going on.

Did a little bit of work in the yard. The yard is big enough so I’m not putting anyone at risk by working out there, especially if no one else is in their yards. Of course, the men who are quarantined/isolating use this as an excuse to destroy everyone’s peace and quiet by using the noisiest leaf blowers and power tools possible. I realize they’re trying to quiet their anxiety, but ruining everyone else’s quiet and upping the anxiety around them isn’t the right choice. Do the work. QUIETLY. Have some respect for your neighbors.

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could actually ENJOY my deck and yard this spring and summer? Which I haven’t been able to do for the last few years because it’s AS noisy around here now as it was living on the corner of 42nd St. & 8th Avenue in NYC across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Read, wrote, yard work, pretty typical Sunday.

Up early Monday. Wrote. Got some client work done. Had to go to the grocery store to pick up some pre-op prep (special diet on Thursday). The library has closed until further notice. Home, scrubbed down, rested, read, wrote.

Today, more client work. Hopefully, more books to review come in electronically. Any day the weather’s nice, I’ll also try doing some work in the yard. Will also see if I can lift enough to go back to purging the basement.

It’s more the worry about what’s out of my control. My actual schedule is pretty steady —  after all, most of my work is remote. There are a few things about which I worry, and I’m taking extra precautions. The big worry is the Fox News viewers (of which there are too many) who are deliberately going around putting others at risk. Trying to avoid them can be tricky.

Fingers crossed (and washed) that we get through this.

 

Wed. March 4, 2020: Feels Like I’m Just Plodding Along

Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde

Plugging along here, trying to get my energy back up to speed.

Client work was okay on Monday, but I was wiped out by the end of the session. I switched out books at the library, and then went home.

Watching Season 5 of BROKENWOOD, which is fun.

Working on my article pitches, and working on some marketing for the books. I have medical bills coming in soon, along with everything else. I need to up the marketing for the books.

Reading a mystery that’s kind of cute, but I have mixed feelings about it. It’s written by someone in the Midwest, but it’s set in Maine — only it’s obvious the author doesn’t know Maine. Maybe like one week-long visit to sightsee, not really dig in to what it’s about. The characters talk and act like Midwesterners, not like Maine-iacs. Maine has a distinct cadence and set of behaviors. And its own weird humor. It’s different than any of the other New England states, and vastly different than any other area in the country.

Compare it to Barbara Ross’s Clambake mysteries — Barbara lives in Maine; even though her town, too, is fictional, she captures very much what it’s like to live and work in Maine, especially coastal Maine. One can relate to the characters no matter where one lives, but it is definitely Maine-flavored, you couldn’t just pick it up and drop it somewhere else, and the setting and what makes that area of the world unique is vital to making the series work.

Had a good early morning writing session on Tuesday, and another one today. I’m writing in longhand early in the mornings, and then trying to keep up with the typing, so I don’t fall so far behind, the way I’ve done in ELLA BY THE BAY. That has to be untangled, as soon as I get back on track with everything else.

I was happy to come home on Monday to a nice package from Algenist (I like their night cream) and to a package from Mala Prayer — two mala bracelets, one in sandalwood and one in tiger’s eye. They were my birthday present to myself this year.

The next shipment of contest entries should arrive any minute; I’m entering the definite “No” entries already in the computer, so it’s not as much paperwork at the very end. Then, I can put aside those entries, and take a second look at my “Yes” and “Maybe” piles once I’ve read everything, to decide on the winner and the finalists in my categories.

Voted first thing Tuesday morning — for the candidate I feel both represents me the best AND has the best ideas to make the entire country better, and working again. My mother voted, too. Everyone at our little voting precinct is always friendly and helpful. It makes voting fun and positive, which is how it should be.

Onsite with a client yesterday — I got through it, but was exhausted by the end of it. Onsite again today. Hoping I can also participate in the Remote Chat.

I have a short stage script I hope to draft this weekend, and I have to take a look at another script, to see if it makes sense to enter in a “Call for Entries” for a particular company. It might have too many characters. Need to get back on track with the steampunk radio play, and the next Kate Warne play, too.

But first, the focus has to be on the paying work. Because I have to make a whole heck of a lot of money in a short period of time.

Onward, as best I can.

 

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Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020: Preparation

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde

Yup, Mercury’s gone retrograde just before I have surgery. On the one hand, it’s not a good time for surgery; on the other hand, Mercury retrograde is about resolving issues hanging on and preventing one from moving forward, and that’s a good definition for what I’m going through, so I’ll work with it. Plus, it’s happening just a few days before the dark moon, so that’s going to help with the blood loss. (The closer to the full moon, the heavier any bleeding, because blood is our interior tide).

Friday morning, as I stated in Friday’s post, I had my pre-op, got some stuff done at the library. I told my book review editor I’d have the other book review for her on Monday, and what was going on; she was very supportive. Even getting in the review yesterday, it was early. Sent off the big article, and told that editor what was going on, and that I could turn edits around early in the week, but otherwise it would have to wait until next week. Haven’t heard anything from her. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt, that she took Friday as well as Monday as part of the long holiday weekend, but I’ve gotten the article to her FIVE DAYS EARLY. If she comes at me tomorrow to turn it around — no. It’s the day before my surgery. If I get it today, I could turn it around tonight and send it off tomorrow, but if it comes tomorrow, it has to wait until next week. I busted my ass and used up most of my energy to get it in to her early. (Update: she’s being lovely and supportive, so my worries are for naught — details in tomorrow’s post).

I’ve been working with my book editors on new deadlines — I can’t be in galleys and final revisions right now. We have to adjust. They’re 100% supportive. We’re also talking about whether and/or how to handle the Corona virus in The Nautical Namaste Series. There are several different routes we could take, although I doubt any of them will show up in DAVY JONES DHARMA at this point. We are discussing how what I’m going through now will add some depth to one of the subplots in BALTHAZAAR TREASURE.

Went in to my client’s late Friday morning, and we finished the designs for the 2021 collections and sent them to Thailand. She goes next week.

Came home around 1 PM and hit the wall. I slept most of the afternoon, and even the most basic tasks were just too much work.

Ate — I’m making sure I eat, whether I feel like it or not. Watched the last of THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW. Went to bed early.

Had trouble sleeping. Up on Saturday. Had my mom drive to us to the grocery store, so we got a few additional things for the coming week. Made apricot/honey/almond/orange bread. Researched iron-rich foods. Taking too much of the iron supplement makes me sick, so I’m taking slightly less supplement, with more iron-rich foods. Turns out I like a lot of them, and have been craving them anyway.

Worked on the book for review. Napped in the afternoon (and people who know me know I am not a napper). Tessa purred beside me.

Made the sardine/fennel pasta from Dorie Greenspan’s book. It’s yummy. Felt better about a half hour after eating it.

Wasn’t up to watching DVDs, so read instead.

Charlotte and Willa are both worried. They lost their original human to illness, so every time they smell hospital or medicine on me, they worry.

The arm the CT port/IV technician hurt on Wednesday looks AWFUL, is still horribly bruised, and I have trouble using my right arm.

Slept so-so. Didn’t feel up to making the whole wheat bread. The medication I’m on for the moment has side effects, which are starting to get to me, the worst being absolutely ridiculous mood swings. I have to keep reminding myself I’ve lost perspective, and not make long-term decisions until I can think clearly and review all the evidence. I levelled out slightly on Sunday and Monday.

But I was still angry at the paperwork that arrived from the hospital on Saturday, about pre-op prep. I’m responsible for keeping track of my things WHILE I AM UNDER ANESTHESIA IN THE OR or else I should expect everything stolen. Because this hospital is too fucking cheap to have security. There isn’t any. There are signs claiming there are cameras, but no security. Anyone can wander anywhere they want in the hospital at any hour unchallenged. It’s one of the things that has made me uncomfortable every time I’ve had to go there.

I’ll be lucky to have my clothes to return home in.

They can bite me.

I have follow-up tests on the afternoon of the day my landlord wants to have the “home energy assessment.” I told him they can come first thing in the morning, and have to be out of here by 1 PM, or it has to be rescheduled. We HAD this done already. To make us go through a bunch of jackasses stomping through the house again right now is ridiculous. Nothing has changed in the intervening years; everything’s just gotten older. Probably that’s why the landlord is getting it again — because he didn’t do any improvements based on the last one, and is going to pretend it didn’t happen.

Took it easy Sunday. Made arrangements with a friend to pick me up from surgery on Thursday. She’s making it easy-peasy, no drama, which is how it should be. I also specifically asked her because she won’t let the hospital admin bully me on the way out when I’m still trying to get re-oriented after anesthesia, and, based on the pattern of this past week, that’s EXACTLY what they’ll try to do.

Again: bite me.

I was making arrangements with the library the other day, letting them know what was going on, and making sure I get anything back that has holds on it, and extend whatever I need to extend. The librarians wee lovely.

Unfortunately, some random patron eavesdropped and commented, “I can’t stand being around people who are sick. I don’t do sick.”

I turned around and said, “I don’t do assholes, and you aren’t part of my life anyway, so back off.”

Again, since the 2016 Election, people are encourages to be their worst selves. There was no reason that individual had to make ANY comment. The person could have kept her mouth shut or walked away. But no, she had to make a comment, knowing it was inappropriate and hurtful. She deliberately set out to cause harm.

Leaning into my meditation and yoga practices doesn’t mean I’m going to allow people to be deliberately hurtful.

Finished the book for review. Sent off my review yesterday. The next set of books has arrived, and I’m excited to dig into them.

I have a ridiculous amount of books stacked near my recovery area. I ordered more, which I hope will come in by Wednesday — Helene Hanff’s books, which are charming and fun.

Rested and read a lot on Sunday. Roasted a chicken. Noodled with some ideas, but didn’t do any real writing. Got a different, more potent iron supplement that’s already showing me improvement. CVS was selling 30 of the pills for nearly $15. Target had the same one but 180 pills, for $6. Considering I have to take 4 pills/day right now for the next three months, I got it at Target.

Tried to clean up some of the branches that fell from the last storm, but didn’t get too far. Just didn’t have the energy.

Charlotte managed to climb to the top of the big bookcases in my writing room and run around along them. She’s very proud of herself.

Started watching MURDERLAND. The acting is wonderful, but I don’t like the fractured storytelling and repetition from different angles. A little bit is great, but this is too much. From the two points of view? Great. But the same scene from the two points of view repeated six times? No, thanks. Structurally, the storytelling doesn’t work for me.

Woke up about 4:30 on Monday. Didn’t feel too bad. My injured arm is still in bad shape.

Went in to work with my client for a few hours. I can’t afford to miss work. I don’t work, I don’t get paid, and I need money coming in right now.

If I hear one more news “report” about the lack of skilled workers, I will scream. There are plenty of skilled workers. It’s HR that’s useless, only interested in running resumes through algorithms & treating people badly in interviews. They want skilled workers? Don’t insult them with stupid tests and demands for unpaid labor. Want to retain your workers? Pay them fairly and treat them like human beings. It’s not that hard.

I’m playing each work day by ear right now. Working until I get tired, then stopping. Doing a little writing, but not much. A friend sent a draft of her screenplay to read while I recover — can’t wait.

Planning on going in to work with a client for a bit today. Will swing by the library to drop off/pick up books. When I go home, we’re going to vacuum the house and mop floors, so everything is clean. Tomorrow, when I come home, we will set up the living room as my recovery room.

I won’t know when I’m going in on Thursday until late Wednesday.

I have some placeholder posts scheduled, but I don’t expect to post much until sometimes next week (I’ll have something go live tomorrow).

I just have to survive each day, before I worry about the next one.

Published in: on February 18, 2020 at 7:10 am  Comments Off on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020: Preparation  
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Mon. Feb. 17, 2020: Intent for the Week: Survival

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image courtesy of tookapic via pixabay.com

Monday, February 17, 2020
Waning Moon
Mercury Retrograde
President’s Day

If you’ve been following the blog, you know I’m currently facing some health issues, and will have surgery later this week. During Mercury Retrograde, which does not make me happy.

Therefore, my intent for the week is: Survival.

Going back to basics here!

What’s your intent?

Published in: on February 17, 2020 at 7:02 am  Comments Off on Mon. Feb. 17, 2020: Intent for the Week: Survival  
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Fri. Feb. 14, 2020: Keep on Keeping On

valentines-day-3984154_1920
image courtesy of JillWellington via pixabay.com
Friday, February 14, 2020
Waning Moon
Cold & Snowing
Valentine’s Day

Yesterday wasn’t too bad. I made my mom do the driving, with me in the passenger seat giving directions, so she’d get comfortable in the car again and learn her way around. After a few minutes, she seemed to think she’s Speed Racer. She’s used to driving the Autobahn in Germany, so little Cape Cod road speed limits are an adjustment.

It was pretty funny.

But she’s more comfortable in the car again, and I’ll have her do the driving tomorrow when we go grocery shopping.

Got some work done at the library, dropped off books at Sandwich Library, stopped and updated my nurse. The arm that spat out the port is painful. Not discomfort — pain — and looks awful.

The CT results were pretty good, but there was one worrying thing — so my original doctor insists on scheduling another procedure for that as soon as the first surgery done. I keep hoping they can do it in one procedure, but no such luck. They can’t schedule the second until they know how I’ve come out of the first.

The scheduler called to book the surgery — and tried to put me off until March 20. I said no, I was told it had to be next week. She said nothing on the paperwork said so. I told her I SAW the doctor write it on the paperwork — he did it right in front of me, and he actually has nice handwriting. I also told her that my body could not tolerate the problem that caused the need for the surgery for another month, which is why everyone has been rushing me from test to test. I will be dead. The doctors want it done next week. She said, “Well, you’re on medication.” I repeated I am not waiting for a month, and the doctor wanted it done next week. She said, “Well, they don’t understand how this works.”

I was getting ready to contact my nurse when the chastened scheduler called back. The doctor put his foot down. Surgery is scheduled for next Thursday, February 20.

My pre-op was this morning. Easy-peasy, the doctor is going to make sure I’m not battered. The bruised arm looks even worse today and hurts like hell. I have a bunch of follow-up appointments to look forward to (ha) in the coming months, much of which will depend on how the pathology tests come back from surgery. But the doctor is optimistic, and happy that the medication change has made such a big difference so fast.

Worked on the article and finished it around 10:30 last night. I sent it to my editor this morning, with an update on what’s going on. I can turn around revisions early next week, if necessary.

Did a few things at the library, headed in to a client’s to work for a couple of hours and finish a big project. Then, I’m resting for the weekend. I’m wrung out, on every level.

Next week will test my endurance.

Have a lovely weekend!

 

Published in: on February 14, 2020 at 9:57 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Oct. 28, 2019: Commitment to Health #UpbeatAuthors

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image courtesy of anja828 via pixabay.com

I decided to make a commitment to my own health. Far too often, I push it away, to “get around to it” and then pay the price.

I commit to:

–Listen to and understand the signals my body sends me;
–Take care of both my mental and physical health;
–Work for healthcare for ALL as a right, not a privilege;
–Make the time for physical fitness;
–Try new things to improve my life on multiple levels.

What is your commitment to health?

Published in: on October 28, 2019 at 5:11 am  Comments Off on Mon. Oct. 28, 2019: Commitment to Health #UpbeatAuthors  

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Sunny and hot

The migraine won yesterday, and I didn’t get everything done that I needed to do.

Put gas in the car. We’re up to $3.53/gallon, which means it cost me $35 to fill the Rabbit, for crying out loud! Went to CVS, which, as usual, didn’t have everything I needed; went to Trader Joe’s, which, as usual, had everything I needed and more, and I bought it; went to the liquor store to get a nice French rose (can’t get the accent to work on the “e” – have I mentioned how much Microsoft sucks in the last few posts?) that goes with everything I bought.

Read all the rest of the chapters my friend sent me of her manuscript and commented on them. Worked on some pitches, but didn’t send them. I want to re-read them and re-work them if necessary, when I’m migraine-free. Did some work on a short hockey article which has to go out later today.

Had to lie down for part of the afternoon because it was so bad.

Good news – I have the green light to go ahead and write about the America’s Cup Races. Which means I have to learn everything really quickly. I found a book my Dad bought many years ago, after he and my mom attended the races in Newport, RI; I found the notes I took when I covered the HEALTH magazine fair in Newport and skipped out for a few hours to explore Newport and “met” some of the boats from former races; and Strand Books is on it, so I’m sure it’ll be all good. It’s about learning first (as well as fast), and then formulating the interviews, and then watching the live feed from the races – because I really don’t think I’ll be able to hop a plane to Valencia at the end of June. Although wouldn’t it be fun if it worked out and I could?

PERFECTLY PLUM’s release date is June 1, so I better get on the stick and get some PR going. I should have gotten releases out two weeks ago, but if I get them out this week, it’ll still be in the early days of the release. I need to talk to the Ben Bella PR person and see what’s what, so we’re not cross-pollinating and look disorganized. If our lists overlap, I’ll send a friendly note rather than repeat the same information.

I’m also developing a contest where some of you can win a copy! Stay tuned – it’ll probably happen around mid-June.

Came up with a new idea called Tracking Medusa, which could be a lot of fun if I can figure it out and slot it in properly. It’s too early to really discuss – but it’s definitely something that will appear under the Ava Dunne name, so that should give you an idea of its direction!

Did the research I need to do for the next section of Good Names. Had a terrific morning session on it, and finished Chapter 5. Now I can type the first chapters, so I don’t get too far behind.

The migraine still lingers, but it’s better than yesterday, so, hopefully, it will be a more productive day. Melissa, I think you’re right. I think I might have a thyroid problem. Unfortunately, since my insurance plan is in name only, I’m having a difficult time getting in to see a doctor without paying out of pocket. And the lab work is too far out of my price range in order to do it all out of pocket. But I’m trying to get tested. In the meantime, I’m doing dietary research, etc., and I’ll talk with my acupuncturist on my next visit to see what I can do to support thyroid health until I can get the medical treatment I need. Thank you for thinking of it.

Sya, you’re right –maybe I should go back to headphones. I didn’t order the earbuds I wanted because the shipping added 50% to the price. Um, considering how small and light they are, that’s unacceptable.

Devon

Good Names – 15,412 words out of est. 100,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
15 / 100
(15.0%)

Tracking Medusa — 4,123 words out of est. 90,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4 / 90
(4.4%)

February 23, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and stormy simultaneously

I just realized I hadn’t actually posted this – just written it!

Okay, how’s this for more evidence of our administration’s incompetence? At Congressional hearings recently, there are over EIGHT BILLION dollars IN CASH that was flown to Iraq that’s unaccounted for out of the TWELVE BILLION IN CASH sent over.

How did they send it over, do you ask? They packed it in bricks, mostly made up of $100 bills, each brick worth $400,000, loaded it onto palettes, and fork-lifted it onto planes headed for Iraq. It was approximately 363 TONS of CASH.

For which they can’t account.

I’ll tell you where it’s gone – funding the people who are killing our troops every day. Who are now using chlorine gas to kill children.

Meanwhile, at Building 18 of Walter Reed Medical Center, the injured vets are living in conditions worse than slumlords keep in urban areas. And the Pentagon “doesn’t know about it”. Yeah, right. And whose pocketing that cash, I’d like to know?

They can’t rebuild New Orleans – they can’t even distribute the money regular citizens contributed to help after Hurricane Katrina – but they can airlift 363 tons of CASH to Iraq and lose two thirds of it, while leaving troops in a military hospital on American soil in sub-human conditions, while allowing credit agencies to repossess the veterans’ houses, cars, etc.

Completely unacceptable.

You don’t believe me? CNN and The Times UK both have articles on this debacle. Brian Williams of NBC News has followed the Walter Reed story all week, and there have been dozens of stories over the past months about veterans losing everything because they came back injured and the government is CHARGING them for their medical care and then turning everything over to collection agencies that seize their homes and belongings. This kind of treatment after they’ve fought for the US. Those stories inspired my short story “Not My Vote”, which is currently making the rounds.

Prince Harry of the UK is going to fight in Iraq. The Bush twins –and every other child of age belonging to anyone in Congress – should have to go over there as well. It was correctly spoken a few weeks ago in that Congressional hearing – the majority of the people making the decisions about troops have no personal stake in it – none of their loved ones are going. If they believe so much in this war, their children should have to go and fight in it.

Worked on The Project for a bit, and on Changeling, and on some notes for a few other things, but I’m not really in a creative groove. I’m terrified I’ll lose what little ground I gain this week by being on the show full-time for nearly three weeks. I just have to tackle it one day at a time, and not worry so much. Bit by bit, word by word, right?

Read the Coward diaries, which, from a craft standpoint, are really fascinating. When I’d originally read them, back in the 1980’s, it was from a backstage standpoint, because working backstage was the focus of my life. Now, with the shift to the writing, I’m noticing both his process and his productivity, which are fascinating.

The Fred Stone lithograph of John Henry arrived (an early birthday present) and it’s beautiful! I’m so glad to have it. And the three books I ordered from Strand for The Project – I think they’ll make good train and backstage reading, even though I’ll have to take notes sometimes.

Of course, I’ve come up with another few I need from them.

I started the books I’m set to review, and, thankfully, they’re good. That’s always a concern – that someone asks you to read something and review it and then you don’t like it.

Had a phone meeting with a potential client on the coast far too late in the day for me, which meant my head was spinning with ideas and I couldn’t get to sleep. That’ll teach me!

Had a slow start this morning, although I hauled myself out of bed at a reasonable hour. Had plenty of errands to run – banking; post office (always a chore, since it’s only open at random hours now); bill paying; driving over to Larchmont to a store to get some shirts; hitting Pier 1 for a particular china pattern they no longer carry; getting on I-95 and driving 30 minutes to CT to the Staples there because the one a mere mile from my house never has anything I need; stopping at Greenwich Library to find some Large Print mysteries on the discard shelves that I can send to my grandmother (I found five); the pet store to get apple bitter for a friend and dry food for my little bossy ones; back home, unpacking everything; putting together Chaz’s package to go to Newcastle and two packages of books for my grandmother; going BACK to the post office and getting them all out; going to the drug store to pick up some essentials; finally coming home and saying, “enough already!”

I want to finish reading the books I’m reviewing, work on The Project some more, and get started on a proposal for the potential client. And I haven’t even checked the job boards yet.

Not to mention the fact that zero creative work was done today. So I’ll have to make up for that tomorrow. First thing.

I have to do my creative writing first thing in the morning. Anything else, and I’m ruined for the day.

I have an idea for a new play babbling around my brain, and a completely weird newspaper article about murdered clowns is starting something else percolating. We’ll see.

Today’s house-hunting trip was postponed because of predicted bad weather. Of course, the weather was barely spitting snow down here, but, from reports, it’s pretty bad up near the Cape, so I’m glad I didn’t head out. I have a feeling I won’t be able to do any house-hunting until my next three-week stint at the show is over.

Oxford sent their weekly letter about what else they’re cutting from the health plan. I swear, they’re beyond inadequate; they’re practically non-existent. It’s a health plan in name only.

I’m going to have a cup of tea and read a bit before getting back to work.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Devon

February 15, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Sunny and COLD

And guess what? No hot water! Again. Are you really surprised, at this point?

I was featured on Deborah Ng’s “Pay it Forward Tuesday” this week – and too sick to visit any other blogs. So I caught up today.

My “Pay it Forward” is Mia King, who found me here via wordpress or something, and whose new book, Good Things was published about a week ago. Go, Mia! Hop over and visit her if you get the chance. Not only does her book sound terrific, she and her husband run a golfing company in Hawaii!

Visiting the other blogs on the Pay it Forward:

Kelly Boyer Sagertz: Word of Mouth has some interesting information on a variety of topics:

Eleanor Burks’s book Assaulted by Memory – the page goes directly to Amazon.com, not her site, so all I could see was that only one book is left in stock; nothing about her;

Sinclair Nicholas has an interesting Prague Blog

if you’re interested in daily life in Prague. I wanted to comment on the blog, because I enjoyed the writing, but I “wasn’t authorized.” I tried to “log in” and it wouldn’t even let me sign up/sign in/whatever. Oh, well. I’m not going through any more signing up processes. I’m tired of jumping through hoops in order to be able to give someone a compliment. Either you want people to respond to your blog, or you make it too difficult and they don’t come back.

Scott Penny has That Blog

which is pretty fun AND you can leave comments on it without having to promise your firstborn, your dog, and your kitchen utensils.

And I really enjoyed Joanne Mason’s blog, What Do You Read?

Now, back to life, writing, and the rest of it.

I’m much better. No idea what got me down – and, because my union’s so-called insurance plan is not only inadequate, but for all intents and purposes, non-existent (I swear, the guy I was forced to see must have gotten his degree from a matchbook cover, so I ended up paying out of pocket for my former doctor and then going to my acupuncturist, who fixed just about everything), it wasn’t pretty.

Those of you who’ve known me for awhile know I’m pro-union. I’ve served as a union negotiator on contract issues. However, the labor movement, in general, has failed its membership in this country since Bush was crowned President by the Supreme Court (because he sure as hell wasn’t voted in – the votes weren’t even counted).

People join unions for two reasons – to have a unified voice in receiving a FAIR day’s pay for a FAIR day’s work in reasonably safe and sanitary conditions, AND to have access to health care by being a part of a group large enough that an insurance company can actually be bothered. Their responsibility is to provide that day’s work, and the union leaders’ responsibility is to make sure the membership is paid fairly, with cost-of-living increases each year, and to make sure the health care is there.

The union leadership has done nothing but cave to Bush’s anti-labor policies for the past six years instead of holding the line. It’s not just my union, it’s a nationwide problem. Too many egos and personal agendas have taken precedence over the reason unions rose in the first place, and now “union” is equated with lazy and/or corrupt – an incorrect image the employers are eager to push, and the leadership does nothing to dissipate. We need new leadership across the board who clean up the internal messes and then present unity to those who expect everything for nothing.

My industry has prime examples – those with the least contribution to the creative process make the profit, when it should be evenly distributed amongst those who actually generate the work.

Anyway, enough about unions and healthcare.

The show is going fine, in spite of the lazy co-worker who expects to be carried (and I’m not). This person begged for the job; now this person must fulfill the responsibilities. I’m doing MY job, not TWO jobs. I have a second full-time career already. Make the choices, take the consequences, right?

The commute hasn’t been too hateful this week, so far; I’m dealing with it, back to reading on the train, etc.

The writing has gone to hell without even the hand basket – I’m way behind on all the creative work, although I’ve managed to stay on top of the business writing, pitches, follow-ups, etc., and I’m in the midst of negotiating contracts on several interesting projects. I also found some interesting new markets for some of the pieces that I worried about before I left a week and change ago. I certainly have my work cut out for me, catch-up wise, next week, on my week off between tracks. At least I managed to keep up with Circadian posts.

Artie is back, and we went to dinner at a recently opened French restaurant on Ninth Avenue between shows last night. The décor is lovely, the service excellent, the food wonderful, the presentation beautiful. All in all, a good experience.

We had a few kerfluffles in the show – a boot got caught up in one of the massive underskirts and we couldn’t find it for a quick change, so I ran down to storage and got out an old pair and got the actress on stage; two pairs of boots that look the same were accidentally switched, but I managed to get them switched back before the change – little stuff like that. For the most part, it’s been pretty calm, and there’s been enough laughter to make it fun.

I got the child’s humidifier from Target that looks like a small, round, yellow cat. The steam comes out of its ears – it’s pretty funny. My cats are fascinated by it.

I’ve got a few hours before I head back to the show tonight to try and get some stuff done out here. I need to dig out my mom’s car later because she’s got to get on the road, and I’m not going to have her do it herself.

February 19 was supposed to be a day off, but because I lost so much ground when I was sick, that’s just not going to happen. Maybe the weekend of the 24/25, I can have some time off.

Doesn’t it suck that Mercury went Retrograde on Valentine’s Day? Hope it didn’t have too much negative effect for any of you.

Will catch up on everyone’s blogs over the next few days.

Devon

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tueday, February 13, 2007
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Cloudy and cold

I’ve been to sick to even turn on the computer for the past few days. But, as I said, it’s not an option for me to call in. I still have to work.

The fact that our union betrayed us by forcing us onto an insurance plan that’s completely inadequate has only made matters worse.

I’m better, back home, but heading back into the city (and a snowstorm) for daywork and a show.

I’ll catch up here when I’m feeling up to it.

The labor movement, in general, has betrayed its membership, as far as health care. It’s their job to hold the line, not bow down to George W. Bush’s anti-labor policies. They’ve failed in this, mostly due to ego within the unions, and then they wonder why the membership is unhappy and doesn’t turn out in force when needed.

Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 8:40 am  Comments (18)