Fri. Sept. 18, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 121 — Juggling Work Needs

Skelly (photo by Devon Ellington)

Friday, September 19, 2020

Waxing Moon

Pluto, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Raining and cooler

Thank goodness it’s raining. We need it badly.

If you enjoy reading serial fiction, it would be great if you’d fill out my survey on serial fiction here. I’m curious about a few things.

I am so glad I signed up for Concord Library’s meditation group! Yesterday’s session was amazing, and I’m already looking forward to next week. The leader is wonderful – I suspect she either trained at Kripalu or trained with someone who trained at Kripalu because the style is familiar.

After meditation, I put on Real People Pants and did my run to Target. I wound up buying more than I planned (gee, what a surprise). We were low on toilet paper, which is why I went. But then, I bought Halloween lights (mine were wonky last year) which were on sale. And there was a skeleton dachshund all by himself that I couldn’t leave because he looked so sad. They didn’t have the wooden spoons I wanted, but I bought a cute little bear mug for my mom and an owl mug for myself. The soups were nearly half the price they are in the other grocery stores, so I stocked up on those, got the toilet paper, some other bathroom necessities, and there we were. At least everyone was masked and distancing, and I was early enough so there weren’t a lot of people in the store.

Grinding my teeth about it, I went to Country Gardens to get wood for the fireplace, since it’s getting colder and we have no idea when the new furnace will come in. I also grabbed two good-sized pots of mums for the front of the house.

At least everyone was masked, but the woman behind me demanded I let her cut in front of me because she was late for work. Didn’t ask – TOLD me she was doing it. I said no. Then she crowded me. Then she complained that the staff was too slow, and made fun of the lovely older man who was ahead of us and so happy with his purchases because he wasn’t fast enough to suit her, and, you know, she was late for work.

I finally turned around and said, “Lady, NONE of us are to blame because you can’t manage your time, so back off.”

Then the sales clerk had no idea what I was talking about when I said I wanted to by a sixth of a cord of wood. She kept insisting that they only sold full cords, half cords, and third cords. I said that I’ve been buying it every autumn for ten years, and I just walked right past the sixth coming in to the store, with the sign right on it and everything. She said, ‘Oh, you mean the wheelbarrow.”

Yes, the wheelbarrow is a sixth of a cord of wood, it has a sign on it to that effect, which is how I know it’s a sixth of a cord. For fuck’s sake, people, get a clue.  You can see it from where you’re standing at the register.

The guy who was supposed to help me load the wood kind of sauntered over and picked up a log here and there, so I loaded the car my damn self. I’ve been buying wood there at the start of the season for ten years now, and they’ve always been lovely until this year. I realize that the pandemic is putting a lot of stress on all of us, and bulk of the customers I’ve encountered there have been utter jerks, but take it out on THEM, not the ones who are treating you decently.

Making the choice not to shop there unless it was the last resort is the right choice.

Came home, unloaded the wood into the garage (I stacked it well this year, if I do say so myself), did a full decontamination process, and was exhausted.

Tessa loves Skelly, the skeleton dog. Willa and Charlotte aren’t sure. My mom wants me to sew a little brown felt coat for him after Halloween so he can stay out all year.

Managed to work on a couple of ads for a client (which I hope to finish today), noodled a little with some writing, participated in Freelance Chat, got out a couple of LOIs.

Cleaned out a box from the basement. Threw a bunch of stuff out, have to file other stuff. Found drafts of manuscripts, and notes on a couple of projects that are worth going back to next year.

I finished SELF-CARE FOR INTROVERTS. I liked it, although I felt the author self-marketed her other work too much within the text. I know, I’ve been to those seminars who encourage that. I hate it, and it’s more likely to turn me off the author and the product than encourage me to look at the other books.

Did a variation on a recipe for dinner using Chinese Five Spice Powder, and it worked really well.

Trying to decide if I have a script in good enough shape to submit to the O’Neill Center for next year. Either of the Italian plays are probably more suited to the O’Neill than the small company in Brooklyn. I don’t know. I’ll wait for my friend’s notes. Maybe both scripts are just terrible and shouldn’t go anywhere.

Signed up for a cooking class with Jeremy Rock Smith from Kripalu in October. He’s such a great teacher. And his recipes are fantastic.

We’re still playing with times for the Knowledge Unicorns, but had a good session yesterday. Trying to juggle all the different assignments in two hours is a challenge, but with the stretch breaks and dance breaks and the fact that we can work in company and ask questions when stuck, I think (hope) it’s helpful. There’s a lot of laughter, which is good, too. And who knew the octopus was such a fascinating creature? Plenty of people, I guess.

Today, it’s client work and writing. I have to do a curbside pickup at the library, work on the book for review, and clean out at least one more box. We couldn’t wait until Saturday to put the flannel sheets on, so we’ve already changed out the beds, which meant more laundry yesterday. I’m also getting ready for the Equinox on Tuesday. I’m going to pack up some of the books stacked in my office and mark them as “donations” when the library is open for donations, and those I’m keeping. These are from the contest I judged earlier this year.

I’m working on a spec sheet of what I need from a social media management platform and I’m going to send it to the corporate offices of various platforms (Hootsuite, Buffer, Sendible, Social Pilot, etc) and see if any of them can meet my needs. I can’t be the only social media manager running multiple accounts for multiple clients.

I also need to work on Grief to Art.

In other words, a busy Friday.

The weekend will be, I hope, about reading and writing and cleaning stuff out of the basement.

Have a great one!

Wed. Sept. 9, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 112 — Launch of the Knowledge Unicorns

Logo designed by Gabe T.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Mars Retrograde

Sunny and pleasant

Yeah, we’re back up to six retrogrades. Having Mars go retrograde right now really sucks – more likely to get into (and lose) arguments, slowing down momentum, making one question one’s own worth. With Jupiter and Saturn turning direct this month, whose forward energy I need right now, then slowed down by the Mars retrograde – yeah, that sucks all the way around. With Mars retrograde, it’s not about overcoming obstacles, but about figuring workarounds.

Yesterday was fine. I was in the client’s office by myself, which is as it should be. Got a lot done.

Headed to the library for drop-off/pickup; then home for decontamination and back to work, remotely this time. The ad campaign still isn’t quite right. I haven’t hit that golden place yet. Then, I was working on another ad for an email blast that has to go out today; came up with something okay, but not brilliant. Got the idea I needed as I was falling asleep, so putting that together early this morning, so it can go out on time.

I invested in an acupressure mat a few weeks back. I’ve been taking a break in the afternoon to use it, especially when I’ve been sitting a lot. It’s amazing how much it helps. 20 minutes restorative time on the mat, and I can get in a few more focused hours in the afternoon.

Reading the next Gamache and enjoying it.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived. This month’s theme is Color Therapy, and it’s great. So much excellent stuff – and stuff I will use. Tessa is thrilled with the large crystal suncatcher. It might never make it to getting hung from the window; she might keep it for her private cat stash, as she did with last month’s crystal pendulum.

Also got an ARC of a colleague’s book that I won in a contest. I’m so excited – it’s the second book in her new series, and it’s such a fun series. I’m looking forward to reading it this weekend, and then writing about it.

Got a little bit of writing done, but not enough (same song, different day). I’m figuring out the shape for the Susanna Centlivre play. I want the focus to be on her relationship with her husband (who was the Queen’s chef), and one of her closest female friends (probably Mary Pix). I found a Very Long Dissertation about female friendship, and another about her work and Aphra Behn’s work that I will need to read through in the coming weeks. I still don’t have the catalyst or the central dramatic event for the play. I’m still researching.

I think I’ll set the Isabella Goodwin play toward the end of her career. Maybe use flashbacks? They often work better on stage than in novels. I like the fact that she married a younger man when she was older and thinking about setting it when she’s thinking about retiring as NYPD’s first female detective. I haven’t figured out how to incorporate that. There’s a lot of fiction out about her that I’m avoiding, because I don’t want it to influence the piece; I also don’t want to use anything that I’m using in THE WOMEN’S PRECINCT pilot and scripts.

But it’s already September and both plays are due in December (and I have surgery in December), so I need to start writing soon.

I  need to remember that they can be short plays – they don’t have to be full-length. I can always expand them in the future. I need to pick an important moment in each of their lives and dramatize it.

I also need to stop berating myself that I didn’t get those additional Kate Warne plays written during the pandemic – they’re not on deadline. The paid and deadlined work must come first, and everything else has to fit around it. Everything takes longer, between the pandemic and retrogrades and the energy it takes to survive. I need to adjust my expectations for myself, or I’ll get stuck in self-loathing mire, and that doesn’t do any good.

I have to go onsite for a client (where we’ll all be in the office at the same time – ick). But we’re only overlapping a short time, so I will deal. Then I’ll come home, decontaminate, and join Remote Chat, which is one of my favorite parts of the week, then more client work.

Knowledge Unicorns

Yesterday was the first meeting of the online homework group, consisting of my godchildren’s kids. They named themselves the Knowledge Unicorns and one of them designed the logo. We’re still tweaking the time, because there are people in all three time zones. Wide range of ages, some a little quieter than others, so I have to make sure everyone is equally heard and no one is overlooked. But bright and fun and good people.

We talked about the structure of the sessions and how they will work, and how, if something isn’t working, we’ll talk about it and change it. The baseline is respect for each other and kindness toward each other. Everyone’s opinion matters, and if there’s a point of disagreement, it’s discussed with respect and compassion, and positions are backed up by facts and resources (not Wikipedia and Fox News).

We took a few minutes at the beginning to settle in and see how everybody is. None of them are going to in-person learning. They are all learning remotely. This idea that you just sit in front of a screen for 6 hours a day as though it was class is ridiculous, in my opinion. It’s a different kind of school, and needs to evolve for that. Even in school, you’d get up after 50 minutes to go to your locker and get other books and go to the next class.

A colleague and I discussed this the other day – schools have had months to come up with a good way to handle remote learning. They haven’t. They’re not supporting the teachers, they’re not supporting the parents, they’re sure as hell not supporting the kids. Someone I know works for a major online learning company. They did a direct mail campaign (both in print and digital)  to schools all over the country, offering free consults to help them move learning online and talk about the ways it has to be different to be effective. NOT ONE school responded.

Something that came up in the “settling in” talk at the beginning was the external pressures to go to the physical school building and act as though it was all normal. The kids agreed that they miss hanging out with their friends; but they’re more worried about the pressure on their parents. They’re scared and angry that some of their friends’ parents are trying to use the kids’ friendships to bully the parents into forcing the kids back into schools. One of the kids lost a friendship, because the friend’s parents won’t let them be in contact if the kid isn’t physically going to school, because the parents don’t want the remote-learning kid to fill the onsite kid’s head full of “libtard crap.” Because, you know, keeping your kids home and safe is a partisan issue to them. One of my godchildren had her lawyer work to get her temporary full custody of her kids during these months, because her ex-husband thinks the virus is a hoax; during his joint custody, he planned to send them to school. He also doesn’t believe in masks or social distancing, and has his friends over to drink beer and hang out the same as always.  I’m not up on the legal stuff in her state, so I don’t know how that all worked, but she got some sort of order giving her full custody temporarily, and they’re doing fully remote learning (and masking and social distancing).

There’s a lot of pressure on the kids to adapt to remote learning when the school systems haven’t put in the work to support the teachers or parents or kids to make it work (because, let’s face it, most of those believed the myth that the virus would just go away, because it was easier than putting in the work). On top of that, the external partisan pressure to put themselves in danger when their parents are trying to protect them is pretty intense, and that’s something that has to be addressed.

So we talked about that for a portion of our time together, and worked on coping strategies.

We got down to the actual homework – they’re all at different stages of learning and doing different things. If someone was having trouble with an assignment, they could ask a question, and we either figured it out, or figured where to look up the answer, amongst all of us. Some of the older kids remembered some of the stuff the younger kids were learning, and could help (especially in math, because I am useless in math). It was working on the different projects, but having virtual company and online resources at hand. I was either looking for resources to help with different assignments (they have to actually USE the resources, but I can point the way and show them how to research) or working on some stuff of my own that could be interrupted when they had questions or thought of something they wanted to talk about.

Some of the directions that come with the assignments make no sense. We spent time as a group dissecting some of the instructions.

We took regular breaks to stand up and get out the wiggles, and took our dance break (they decided that, at least for the first few weeks, they want me to pick songs from the 80’s for our dance breaks. 80’s music is exotic to them. I officially feel old).

They’d picked the octopus as the animal they want to learn about this month, so we started with the old Audubon Nature Encyclopedia entry from my childhood and will work from there.

Two hours flew by in what seemed like a few heartbeats, but we got a lot done, they got a sense of community and that, although they’re different ages and in different schools in different parts of the country, they’re experiencing a lot of the same stresses and fears, and aren’t alone. They have an adult (?), well, older person, who is not directly related to them, to whom they can talk about things, and, hopefully, they will build a sense that they have each other.

It was a good start, the parents were grateful for the break, and it certainly gave me a view into how broken the educational system is, and how unwilling the administrators are to expand their frame of learning and experience to make it work.

It was a good start, but I admit I was tired by the end of it. A good tired, but still. . .tired.

Have a good one.