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 11, 2020: Another Birthday. Who’d’a Thunk?

cake-3163117_1920
image by manfredrichter courtesy of pixabay.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Waning Moon

Today is my birthday. Considering a few weeks ago, it didn’t look like I’d have another one, I’m pleased I got here.

Monday was irritating at my client’s, because people there are not taking the Corona threat seriously. The sheer arrogance and selfishness sickens me.

I seem to have gotten the issues sorted out with Tweetdeck, and I’m using it to schedule posts for both myself and one of my clients. I’m also going to expand to Hootsuite, and see how I like them. Buffer comes highly recommended, but won’t give a free trial without a credit card. Having been burned too often by companies who claim they won’t bill if you cancel before the end of the trial period, and then randomly remove whatever amount they want whenever they want,I don’t do that anymore. Should one of my clients want to put it on their company card, fine. But I’m not taking on that burden. If it winds up making sense for me to run multiple accounts for social media on a paid site, I will build it into the billing, but right now, it doesn’t.

After work, swung by Trader Joe’s for a couple of things, dropped off and picked up library books.

Started cleaning the windows from the inside when I got home. It was such a lovely, bright, mild day. I opened windows and doors, and managed to clean the windows in the living room. It’s a bit of a slog, because they are sectioned into six pieces on the top, six on the bottom. The outside storm windows need a good scrub, but that’s for a later day. Yesterday, I did the windows in my office, the back bedroom, the downstairs bathroom, and the kitchen. Today, I’ll do the windows upstairs.

Excellent writing sessions both Monday morning and Tuesday morning; hope that’s true today, too. It sets a positive tone for the day when that happens. We’re trying to figure out what to do with the Nautical Namaste series — it’s hard to promote it with people quarantined on cruise ships. And is it even ethical to promote it? An ongoing discussion.

I had a good evening yoga session on Monday night. A good hip-opening sequence. Last night, I was a little smarter about the every-other-day core work I’m working up to. I’m feeling better with the weight I’m dropping, but I need to get the fitness and the stamina up. I know it won’t be my 30-year-old self, but I want to be appropriately fit for my this-age self.

Client work was okay on Tuesday; then it was a quick trip to the library to drop off and pick up, and picking up my birthday cake.

I’m going to have a low-key day today. A client wanted to take me to lunch, but I asked to postpone it. The medication I’m on leaves me in a constant state of mild nausea, and I can’t really enjoy meals right now. So I’ll go to work, lift a glass in the afternoon, have a little cake. I’m going to do what I want, as much as possible, and enjoy the fact that I’m around to do it.

I will have to do housework today, although the big push is tomorrow, since the Annoying and Unnecessary Home Energy Assessment happens first thing on Friday.

Tomorrow’s post is shaping up to be a long one, where I share some of the musings and sortings-out I’ve been working on. Friday’s post will be short (and is scheduled already) because of the Annoying and Unnecessary Home Energy Assessment and the follow-up appointment with the specialist.

If the weather is nice, we might go to Truro on Saturday. We’re playing it all by ear.

Next week is all about prepping for the next surgery. I hope it’s the last one. I need to get back on track with a lot of different things.

We’re working on Charlotte’s fear of garbage trucks. I’m trying to teach her that the garbage truck goes to other houses, and only drives by, making noise. If I’m next to her when it goes by, she’s okay. If she’s on her own, she gets upset.

Tessa is thrilled with her catnip carrot and guards it from everyone else.

And so we go on.

Published in: on March 11, 2020 at 6:04 am  Comments (2)  
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Tues. March 10, 2020: Trying to Stay On Course

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Last Day of Full Moon
Mercury Went Direct Late Last Night

Thank goodness Mercury won’t be in retrograde for my birthday.

At least, in these last few weeks, with surgery and healing and prepping for more surgery, and all that, I’ve gotten a chance to think about a few issues and make some decisions. I will review those decisions now that Mercury is direct, and then, after my next surgery in ten days, start acting on those decisions. I will share those decisions as I’m comfortable so doing.

I worked on one of the books to review, but didn’t finish it. I needed rest, and to do so, I decided to re-read some of Donna Leon’s Brunetti books. That was good.

I did some of my own writing (although not enough). I worked on article pitches. I figured I’d wait until today and tomorrow to send them, when Mercury is direct.

Worked with the cats. With Charlotte, it’s two steps forward, one step back. But at least it’s that ratio, and not more backward movement than forward. I have to accept that it will take several years to undo the damage they have. But at least she loves to sit in her bed next to the window while I work on the computer. When I have to go out, she sits there and waits for me to come home, and then greets me. I just have to figure out a way to broker a deal for peaceful co-existence between her and Tessa.

Willa and Tessa have peaceful co-existence, and they might even work up to being friends one day.

From their behavior, I suspect their original human thought it was “cute” when they competed for attention. Therefore, they believe that only one of them can get attention and affection. When, in reality, there is plenty of attention and affection for all three, and when one gets it, it doesn’t mean less love available for the other two. That’s learned behavior, and only socialized affection over a long period of time will get them to adjust. Working on it every day.

The Goddess Provisions box arrived — all about dreaming. Some good stuff in there.

The Chewy order arrived on Saturday afternoon. Fed Ex dumped it on the side yard, instead of leaving it at the door. We couldn’t see it from the windows; the only reason I knew it arrived was because the tracker said it was delivered.

Then, I had to drag it into the garage and unpack it into the garage, because, after surgery, I still can’t lift much.

But we’ve got food and litter and new toys. The cats were thrilled with their new toys. Tessa got a catnip-filled carrot with feathery bits on top. She drags it around the room upstairs and loves it. Charlotte got a rattly catnip squirrel and Willa a soft, catnip-filled mop ball. Only Charlotte stole Willa’s toy, and Willa was upset. She didn’t want it anymore, with Charlotte’s cooties on it.

There are catnip fish and mice that I hid and will dole out in the coming weeks.

We put the sofabed away, finally, on Friday afternoon, and have some semblance of a normal living room back, at least until the middle of next week, when we set it up again for my next surgery. I got the instructions for the prep and am not happy about it. Everyone’s acting like this is nothing; I think it will be worse than the first surgery.

I’m trying to adjust the iron pills, because I’m in a constant state of nausea from them. That’s the one good thing about the second surgery — no iron pills for the week before.

Four loads of laundry on Saturday. Should have baked bread, but was too tired.

It snowed overnight into Saturday — just a few inches. And was lovely and spring-like Sunday, but I was too tired to do yard work.

Trying to get some tidying done because of those damned Home Energy Assessment people coming on Friday morning (before my follow-up appointment). I resent that I’m the one who has to lose work so the landlord can apply for a loan. This is the fourth time I’ve had to lose work in this whole replace-the-furnace debacle — and we still don’t have a new furnace. Not to mention it’s in the middle of all the health issues. I resent it. The landlord had THREE YEARS to get this done. And we HAD an assessment — SEVEN YEARS ago, and he made zero changes from it.

So I’m grumpy.

I’m also grumpy from the whole “spring forward.” I hate it. It upsets my energy levels and internal clock for weeks. I felt behind all day yesterday, even though I got up almost at my usual time.

I made a vegetable sauce for pasta out of the Brunetti cookbook last night, and it was good: eggplant, zucchini, tomato, three kinds of peppers, olives. Just yummy.

I’m worried about the spread of the Corona virus. My mother is in the top risk category, being in her nineties. Because of my current health issues, I am also high risk. So we’re being cautious. And the people who don’t take it seriously and take glee in putting others at risk make me angry. Interesting how all of them around here who do that are also supporters of the Narcissistic Sociopath.

Up at the normal time yesterday, grumpy as all get out. The first early morning writing helped lift my mood. Had to go onsite with a client for awhile, then pick up some milk and bread on the way home.

Up early today, writing, and then onsite again with a client. Not happy that I can’t do the work from home. Can’t afford not to work for this particular client right now. So I’m being as cautious as I can in the situation.

Onward.

Published in: on March 10, 2020 at 5:54 am  Comments Off on Tues. March 10, 2020: Trying to Stay On Course  
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Fri. March 6, 2020: Maybe A “Normal” Weekend?

Friday, March 6, 2020
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
Partly sunny and colder

Yesterday’s big grocery shop left me feeling secure. I like to have a well-stocked pantry. We’re supposed to be prepared for a 14-day quarantine at this point. I like having that much on hand anyway. As a freelancer, when I’m in periods where I’m earning more money, I try to stock up so I don’t run out in the cycles where the money’s slower coming in. I am stocking up a little more than usual on cat food and cat litter. And toilet paper.

Although the price gouging on toilet paper has started — doubled in price since two weeks ago.

Spent a little time at the library; it was noisy and distracting there today, Got a few things out, including an introductory package to a place I thought I’d like to work for until the list of materials kept growing exponentially. It least they read resumes and look at materials. Another company, touting its positive remote culture — wanted me to do one of their projects (a newsletter) as an unpaid “sample” as part of their interview process. Didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday, folks. No. No unpaid labor as part of the interview process. Look at my resume. Read my samples. Ask for additional samples. If I have to craft something project-specific to your company, there’s a fee involved. I’m not 20 begging for my first job. I’m a career professional with decades of experience. You want unpaid labor? Bite me.

Heartbroken that Elizabeth Warren dropped out. The misogyny from her own party and the media has been revolting. I don’t want an old white man as president. in spite of the genuine affection and respect I have for Joe Biden (I was lucky enough to work on a few things with him over the years).  I’m done with that. I don’t want a moderate. Moderates putting their hands over their ears singing, “la-la-la” is part of how we got into this mess in the first place. Where we are now has been in the works since Reagan. And could have been stopped.

But removing the Narcissistic Sociopath and his Evangelical Q-Tip have to be the priorities right now.

Agreed to help a friend with editing some of his college work. He’s going back to school, which is great. His professor uses MLA, which is eye-rolling. I mean, it’s always good to learn all kinds of skills but MLA is rarely used outside of academia, and my friend isn’t planning to work in that arena. Heck, I tossed my MLA handbook back in 1985, when I realized how little relevance it had to my life. Going to the community college bookstore to see if I can hunt down another one, and ordered one from the library.

The college bookstore is selling used copies of a “reference” that includes a little MLA — for $63. Um, no. I ordered it off the internet for 99 cents. A new guide, JUST MLA style.

Didn’t get much writing done this morning, so will have to adjust that later in the day. Working on some article pitches. Put in a big Chewy order this morning — cat food, cat litter, and then ordered a bunch of toys to get the free shipping. Because the little monsters are so happy when we open the box and it contains new toys. Which is even more important than the free shipping.

Working on the books for review, and getting back to the new batch of contest entries. Will do some of the paperwork on the entries I’ve read this weekend, so it’s not all in one big lump at the end.

This morning was the first full morning yoga practice since the surgery. A little sore, but I’m glad I did it. Hoping I can add an evening practice back in soon.

I didn’t realize how long I’d felt bad (since about 2013) until I started coming back from surgery and feeling more like myself. Amazing how you adjust incrementally to feeling lousy so you barely notice it until you’re forced to notice.

Knowledge to use moving forward.

We have to start some spring cleaning this weekend, although I’ll be limited in how much physical work I can do. But it’s time. The mourning doves are back early this year, and so are the Phoebes.

Planted nasturtiums, cucumber, spinach, and snap peas (inside) yesterday. Made tollhouse cookies last night because I felt like them. Will make some cardamom wheat bread (new to me recipe) either later today or tomorrow.

Target run on the schedule today, a bit of work at the library, and then back to the page.

Have a great weekend! It’s supposed to get colder and stormy here.

 

Published in: on March 6, 2020 at 10:04 am  Comments Off on Fri. March 6, 2020: Maybe A “Normal” Weekend?  
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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.

 

Published in: on March 4, 2020 at 6:09 am  Comments Off on Wed. March 4, 2020: Feels Like I’m Just Plodding Along  
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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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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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Tues. Fri. 11, 2020: Health Issues Change the Game

Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Waning Moon
Rainy and cool

It’s amazing how your whole life can change in moments. Last week, it seemed to be for the better. Now, I’m facing some new challenges.

We’ll get to that.

I’m not sure why yesterday’s post disappeared instead of going live. My apologies. My intent, however, for the next few weeks is changing.

Busy, busy weekend. But the right kind of busy.

Friday was about gathering quotes for the article and starting to write it in my head. I find that shifting my process a bit to write more in my head means my first draft isn’t just blather. I carry the piece within me, thinking about it as I go through my day, working out phrasing and shaping. It makes it easier when I sit down to write.

Watching the fourth season of THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW. It’s giving me ideas for my own cooking show treatment (not to star me, but something I’m interesting in creating, and also to get used to writing a non-fiction treatment). There are elements I like about the show, but the show I’m craving also does some things differently.

The weather was awful on Friday. Winds 75 mph. Much to my surprise, the power held. But I didn’t work on the computer in the afternoon or evening. I worked in longhand.

That included background notes and the partial outline for the Millie Quinn books. They’ve been part of my “back pocket document” for several years now, but they’re pulling at me. I wanted to get the basics out of my head and on paper, so it didn’t push out the stuff on which I need to be working.

Saturday, I was up early. I experimented with some breakfast pastry, and remembered why I hate working with puff pastry, especially on only one cup of coffee. I realized, as I made the whipped chocolate cream, that it had to be filling added after the baking, not something that could go into the oven (pretty basic common sense). So I basically made pastry for cream puffs, which turned out well. Unfortunately, my pastry tool that was supposed to inject the cream didn’t work. So I sliced the pastry and made sandwich-style cream puffs instead.

I tried doing a variation on a chocolate croissant, using Nutella in the puff pastry. I rolled it a little too tightly, so the pastry didn’t have room to expand in the middle, but it was okay. Not brilliant, but okay. Needs some work.

I had pastry cream in my hair before 9 AM, which gives you an idea of how it went. But that’s part of experimentation and recipe development.

Made a dump run for household garbage, and then another one for recycling. Ran into a couple of friends at recycling, which was pretty funny. It was clear and cold out, and I have my work cut out with me, clearing all the branches that came down in the storm. Friday was the first time; in the ten years we’ve lived in this house, where it didn’t feel secure during a storm.

Scrubbed down when I came home. Most of the Chewy order arrived for the cats. I didn’t expect it until Monday, and was delighted to get it early, because of the toys.

Tessa, Willa, and Charlotte each got a new catnip mouse, and they were delighted. I also got them spring toys, which I waited until Sunday to give them. I did, however, put together the laser toy so they could Chase the Red Dot. Willa and Charlotte were thrilled and ran and jumped and chased as long as I had the energy to hold the wand. Tessa had never seen it before, and had no idea what to do.

Giant load of laundry in as well.

Working on the article, shaping, seeing where I want to fold in the quotes. I had two of them back by Saturday morning, confirmation a third was forthcoming, and the contact info for the fourth. So I’m really only waiting for the quotes from London and Ireland, which should arrive today.

Worked on one of the grant proposals. I have to submit ten pages of work. I’m not sure if I should do 10 pages on a single project, or 5 on two different projects that show more range. I might send an email and ask.

I’m having trouble accessing the other grant’s information, and have to get an email off about that, too.

I want to get both grant proposals and the article out before Mercury turns retrograde on the 17th.

Worked on blog posts for the various blogs. Revised the beginning of the steampunk play, which I will use for one of the grant proposals.

The cats were hilarious. So happy with their new toys. It was the first time all three cats were genuinely happy in the same space since Willa and Charlotte joined the household. I hope this is the beginning of that being the rule, rather than the exception.

Sunday, I wrote 11 pages on one project, not something I should have been working on, of course. Sent off another quote request.

Worked on the article.

Made a smoked salmon brunch tart. Damn thing took over 3 hours. It tasted good, but the look lacked a good look. This weekend reminded me how much I hate making pastry.

Worked on writing and reading, including one of the books for review.

Over the weekend, some serious health issues accelerated. First thing yesterday morning, I went to the doctor. Who was alarmed. Who initially wanted to send me to the ER for a blood transfusion, which I refused. She did some in-office testing, and found that I didn’t really need one. But I had to go to the hospital to have an emergency ultrasound.

I was sent home to be more comfortable at first until the appointment. I used the time to work on the article that needs to get done this week. The hospital was supposed to call me with the time to come in. Hours went by, and nothing. So I called them — now, remember, I have hyperaccussis — talking on the phone is nearly impossible for me, because it causes such pain. Yet I was repeatedly forced to be on the phone because HEALTH CARE PERSONNEL refused to accommodate me.

I called the doctor — and got a third party, who got in contact with the doctor. Meanwhile, the third party told me to schedule the procedure myself. Only the scheduler wouldn’t do it. She said they couldn’t fit me in. I kept telling her that the doctor insisted it was emergency and had to be done today, and she refused. I was headed back to the doctor to find out what to do when the nurse called. She had called the scheduler and the hospital and told them it was an emergency and they had to make it happen.

I had to dash into the car, race across to the next town where the hospital was, not find parking, and then navigate the corridors for the appointment. But once I got there, radiology took me right away. They were very kind for the multiple procedures — some of them unpleasant. But it took multiple technicians at times, and I was there over an hour.

Then, I had to go and get a blood workup done — only the paperwork hadn’t been handled properly up front. So I had to go back to radiology, where they faxed paperwork to reception who then emailed whatever they needed to email back to the blood draw lab — which was across the hall from radiology.

The technician was lovely and kind. She understood my fear of needles, and was quick and gentle. I thanked her for being kind, and she was surprised.

By the time I managed to get back to the car, then nurse called and asked me to come back to the office. Although they were technically off-hours, they wanted me back. They HAD THE RESULTS. None of this waiting for a week. Everything was there by the time I got back across town to the office.

There, they did another round of unpleasant exams — which they did with kindness and gentleness.

The short conclusion is that I have a challenging few weeks and months ahead. In the very near future, I have an emergency specialist appointment coming up, possibly today; a CT scan this week. Fast track surgery. After the surgery, we will re-assess and see if more has to happen, and if so, what the options are. I said if I have a vote, and I will be vocal about it, there are certain things I want to happen sooner rather than later, and she said it might have to happen that way anyway, so it’s a good thing I’m willing to go even consider it. She’s also worried that I’m joking too much and not processing enough.

I shed some tears early on — and the doctor reassured me that it wasn’t my fault and I’d done nothing wrong. Which, of course, I know intellectually, but emotionally is quite different. But what else can I do except joke around with the technicians and try to make it as easy as possible for all of us to get through it? Living in the terror of it all isn’t going to help me. Acknowledging the fear is one thing, but living in it is something else, and I’d rather not live there. I’d rather keep on keeping on, adjusting as needed on the way.

I was put immediately on a medication to get me through until the surgery can happen, and told to watch for certain symptoms. If I have any of them, I am to go to the ER immediately.

Getting the prescription — CVS tried not to use the insurance, and I had to get the insurance re-run, but then it was all affordable. I’m really glad I switched my insurance — had I been on the old insurance, not only would none of this have been covered, but I wouldn’t even have been able to get in to see the doctor. On the old insurance, any time I wanted a doctor visit, I had to wait 3 months. I’m also grateful that I landed with health care

I’m not sure how much I feel comfortable talking about the details of all this, although you can be damn sure I’ll be talking about health care system issues along the way. Some posting might be a bit erratic, and I may pull back on a few blogs , and I apologize in advance. I’m going to try to get ahead on as much as possible.

I’m worried about money. I’m already living too close to the bone, and I was just starting to land opportunities to fix that — I HAVE to, because I have to move later this year, and I may need a new car. If all I’m worried about is money, I won’t have the emotional or financial resources to get well.

The medication started working right away. If they had started me on it earlier in the day, the day might have not been quite so traumatizing. I do want to emphasize how kind everyone except a couple of admin people were along the way. Plus, for the first time in my life, I feel like I have medical professionals that are on my side.

My client told me not to come in today, but I want to go in early and get ahead on a few things.

I wrote the review and sent it out; went to the office. I am waiting to find out when my specialist appointment is today.

I would appreciate any good thoughts you could send my way. I don’t have the support system here that I had in the Broadway community, and being without them scares me — although some of them will support me every step of the way from wherever they are.

Peace.

Published in: on February 11, 2020 at 10:20 am  Comments (2)  
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Fri. Feb. 7, 2020: Focus on The Work

Friday, February 7, 2020
Waxing Moon
Foggy and cooler

I’ve got a short post aboutMotive up on Affairs of the Pen.

I did an enormous grocery shop yesterday morning. I turned around the contract for the article and got out my requests for quotes. I have a good portion of the article already written in my head, and now am working on getting it on paper, and then adding in the quotes as I get them, and tweaking as needed. I’d like to get it to my editor a few days early, since it’s the first time we’re working together, and I want to give us enough time in case she requests revisions.

Started prepping for the grant proposals. I want to do at least one more revision on the actual material that will get the grant committee’s attention. I’m not sure, for one, if I should submit something in radio play format, which I know works, or something in novel format, which is what I’d actually use the grant money on, for one of them.

For the other proposal, I need to look at a project I put aside last year. It’s a project I’d used for a residency application, and put aside when I didn’t get the residency (they decided not to accept Americans that year).

I tweaked a recipe yesterday afternoon and made a honey/almond/orange cake. I was worried I made too many changes all at once, but it really, really worked. It amazes me how much I like substituting honey for sugar, and how much better I feel eating it

I answered someone’s question on social media and someone else jumped into the conversation to argue with me about not signing a detrimental contract because my lawyer agreed that it was not in my best interest. I’m not arguing. My lawyer is a professional; I get to decide what contracts to sign and not sign. I don’t care how many other people choose to sign it. And if Chickie-poo “doesn’t know anyone” who refused the contract, she must not know many professional writers, because I know plenty who won’t sign that particular contract, especially since we are all expected to sign a boiler plate.

The contract you receive with a publishing offer is the START of negotiations. If a “publisher” is not willing to negotiate contract clauses, it’s not a “publisher” with whom I want to associate.

I get to make that choice. Not be attacked by someone who made a different choice.

The stupidity on social media gets to me sometimes. There’s plenty I scroll past, but it annoys me when I answer someone’s question with my experience and someone else jumps all over me – and the person who asked the question SAYS NOTHING. That’s irresponsible. If you let trolling happen on your feed and ignore it, you’re not someone worth my time. Buh-bye.

Got my Chewy order in. Had to order cat toys to get it up for the free shipping. “Had to.” Riiiight. I’ll own it – that was how I chose to get up to the amount needed for free shipping. I think the cats will enjoy some fresh stimulation, especially Willa. I’m trying to teach Charlotte how to play, and Tessa needs some new toys. Busy cats are happy cats!

This weekend is about writing, purging boxes in the basement, and baking. I have a LOT to get done, and I can’t waste my time on people or situations who aren’t worth it.

Have a great weekend! I’m going back to the page.

Published in: on February 7, 2020 at 10:32 am  Comments Off on Fri. Feb. 7, 2020: Focus on The Work  
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Thurs. Feb. 6, 2020: Up, Down, Frustration, Joy

Thursday, February 6, 2020
Waxing Moon
Raining and mild for February

Well, it’s been an interesting few days, that’s for sure. And I use “interesting” in multiple connotations.

First, I have a quick post on Gratitude and Growth about my concerns that it’s not cold enough this winter.

Back? Okay, let’s settle in and talk.

I didn’t write about Tuesday evening’s meeting, because I needed to think about it and get over my anger by the end of it. Although the conversation went well, and I enjoyed the person with whom I spoke, there were red flags: a 12-hour day instead of an 8-hour day (but at 8-hour rates), no mention of a relocation package, it not being the position or the organization I expected the meeting was about. Then came the “next steps” part of it. Testing, which I don’t do for free. I understand needing to check someone’s proofreading skills, but you’re going to pay me for my time. Typing? Excuse me? I’m not 20 looking for my first job. Plus, typing accuracy is not necessary on a computer, because you fix your mistakes otherwise. Again, since it’s uncompensated labor, no.

But the deal breaker, for me, was the insistence on taking a DISC personality test — again, unpaid time. Above and beyond the unpaid time, any organization that uses a “personality test” as part of the interview process is not a place with which I want to be associated. Of course, it was presented as a “way to look at communication skills” — which isn’t what DISC or any of these other “personality tests” are AT ALL. They are a way to dehumanize candidates and sort them into single categories, denying complexity, individuality, and creativity to limit one into test boxes. It is data that is weaponized by employers to manipulate employees.

Here are two articles that support my position,“How Accurate are Personality Tests?”and “A Warning Against Using Disc/Briggs-Meyer in the Workplace.

Take your test and shove it right up your ass, honey. I don’t care that “everyone” in the company has to take these tests, and that you have taken them. The mere fact you asked means I’m no longer interested.

I sent a polite refusal, to which I got a link “explaining” what DISC is used for — a load of marketing crap I recognized, because I worked for the American Management Association back when these tests came into more prominent use. I know how the sausages are made. And why.

I was asked to “reconsider” and agree to take the tests. No. I said no, and I mean no. What part of “deal breaker” is too complicated for you? I’m not asking for an exception. I’m STATING, clearly, that any company who demands this of ANY potential employee is not a place I want to work.

I was so angry by the end of the night. Just furious

Another useless third party yakker wasting my time and energy.

So, that was that.

Wednesday was busy at the client’s. Still working on a big project. She’s all set to sign a set of contracts on a project that will be a disaster. I pointed out the contract language that needs changing, and she just shrugged and said the contract is meaningless. She’s wrong, but it’s her decision. I’m not cleaning up the mess.

I was disappointed to learn that one of the radio production companies on the west coast with whom I’d hoped to work this year is on hiatus. They liked the play, but aren’t in a position to produce it right now. I’m sending them a potential funding source later today that might interest them.

I also didn’t get chosen for a regular article gig for which I’d pitched last week. They liked my samples, but felt my voice was too unique. Well, they’d asked for samples in MY voice, not ghostwritten samples. Still, they were nice about it, and at least they gave me an answer. So it’s disappointing, but not devastating.

Add to that, the travesty in the Senate yesterday, with most of the Republicans voting to acquit the Narcissistic Sociopath.

We are truly in dark times.

Then, a bolt from the blue! A major publication for whom I’ve wanted to work FOR YEARS accepted one of my pitches! It’s a tight turnaround time, but completely do-able. The contract is on its way, and I’m sending out my requests for quotes. I’m excited!

I’m working on revisions the next few days, the short story, and two big grant proposals that need to go out next week. I’d like to curl up and sleep, but, right now, that’s not an option.

I also need to purge boxes from the basement. I’m way behind on that.

Finished watched Season 3 of THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW. What a great bunch they were! I liked them all so much.

I’m experimenting with a cake recipe this afternoon. It’s using the basic yellow cake recipe again, but making some more changes.

I did a gigantic grocery shop yesterday morning. That should keep us going for a bit. Making pork bahn mi for lunch. Can’t wait.

Charlotte continues to be a lot of work. She doesn’t connect behavior and consequences. She knows certain things result in getting what she likes, but hasn’t connected that other things result in results she doesn’t like. Plus, this morning, she walked over one of the CD/tape players and set off a fast forward button and it scared her. Poor thing. It’s hard to be Charlotte.

I have a lot to do, so I better get to it.

Have a great day!

Published in: on February 6, 2020 at 10:01 am  Comments Off on Thurs. Feb. 6, 2020: Up, Down, Frustration, Joy  
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Wed. Feb. 5, 2020: Technical Difficulties

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Waxing Moon

Head on over to Ink-Dipped Advice, where I talk about the issues I have with marketing materials creating “scarcity and urgency.”

Experiencing technical difficulties. Yesterday was frustrating. Will talk tomorrow about the big meeting.

Weird dreams Tuesday going into Wednesday. Theatre dreams, which I guess is a good thing?

This is grant-writing and script submission season. The next two weeks, I’ll be prepping a lot of both.

Meanwhile, this evening, I’m looking forward to pizza and wine!

Published in: on February 5, 2020 at 6:31 am  Comments Off on Wed. Feb. 5, 2020: Technical Difficulties  
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Tues. Feb, 4, 2020: Adjustments

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Waxing Moon

Hop on over toA Biblio Paradise for a post about my ultimate fantasy library.

Busy weekend. Friday was a lot of errands, then working on revisions and contest entries. Sent out a pitch and samples for a regular gig which would be fun, and the money would help achieve a few things over the next few months, as I get some other financial pieces in play.

Charlotte had a massive anxiety attack on Friday afternoon, and it took her a few hours to settle down. Which meant I had a few hours where she needed my full attention, instead of being able to work.

Saturday should have had more writing in it than it did. I was a little later than I wanted starting the bread, and it took longer on its rises, but it turned out well.

Friday night, I received an email from someone wanting to set up a meeting about a project with which I’d really like to work. We managed to reach each other on Saturday, and set something up for late this afternoon.

I made another recipe from the cookbook where I made the poorly written chocolate cherry bread a few weeks back. I wanted to give this book one more chance.

It failed.

I noticed something was wrong in the way the recipe was written right off the bat, and rescued it. But, had I prepared the recipe exactly as written, I would have prepared some of the ingredients in the food processor, and they would have sat in the food processor for eternity. There was never an instruction when to add them in.

I figure it out, through a combination of experience and common sense, but again — a badly-written recipe.

Where the hell was the editor on this book? Why weren’t any of the recipes tested?

I’m going to give it away. The recipes aren’t good.

The recipe itself was bland. I’m going to dress up the leftovers with some paprika.

It makes me really angry. Here, the author got away with it because there’s a huge following on her novels — but her recipes are badly written, and don’t taste good. The first red flag was when she talked about God in the introduction. Honey, God expects us to handle our own cooking.

I should have test-driven the cookbook. I’d read through a copy from the library, but I hadn’t actually done any recipes before I bought it. That’s on me.

The other recipe was a cake, which I put mixed and put in while the bread was in the oven. It was a very basic yellow cake recipe from my mother’s old LADIES’ HOME JOURNAL cookbook, which is good for basics. I added in a little almond extract. I made two layers, as instructed, and filled them with strawberry jam, and then did a chocolate satin icing, decorated with almonds.

The strawberry jam was a bit too much, especially since the batter didn’t need to be in two pans/two layers. Next time I do this recipe, I will just do it as a single layer with the icing. The icing is superb. The icing recipe is from the NEW BASICS COOKBOOK, which is one of my favorites.

Worked on the short story, worked on contest entries.

Finished watching Season 2 of THE BEST BRITISH BAKING SHOW. Ruby was an annoying little whiner, wasn’t she? I wish the judges would TEACH techniques, instead of smirking and leaving technique out of the recipes in the technical challenges. Also, I wanted to slap them every time they said something was under-baked — then don’t give them only two hours! And expect it cooled and perfectly decorated! The parameters are unrealistic for home bakers.

Makes me want to write a treatment for my own food show — not with me in it, but run along parameters that make it a tool for teaching, historical and societal context of food, etc. A gourmand, a home cook, a food historian, and five students who progress through the series, learning techniques and then creating their own recipes.

Managed to get four loads of laundry done on Saturday, too.

February’sGoddess Provisions box arrived, and it was wonderful! I’m so delighted with it. Also got my wall calendar — the one I usually get was sold out, so I got a different one. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the astrological notations I need. Fortunately, I have it in my usual datebook.

Up early Sunday. Made honey-pecan-chocolate chip muffins, which were delicious. I liked substituting honey for sugar, and using a little baking powder. The sugar converter was a big help.

Worked on contest entries, worked on revisions, worked on the short story, worked on blog posts to get ahead for the month of February on the specialty blogs.

Imbolc ceremony was lovely. Lots of change predictors coming. I just have to choose the right change.

Didn’t really care about the Super Bowl. Sort of kept an eye o the score, but that was it. And, of course, the Narcissistic Sociopath didn’t even know from which state the winners come. He celebrates ignorance, cruelty, stupidity, and greed, which is why his base loves him so much.

Got an idea for an intriguing group of characters, but don’t know what to do with them. Made some notes, but it has to percolate.

Yesterday, I had a decent first writing session, spent a few hours with my client, then had other appointments, which meant I had to miss meditation. Hit my head in the morning, which upset my day, because I was dealing with that aftermath.

Work on revisions and contest entries in the evening.

This morning, out early for some errands, then with a client most of the day, then this afternoon is the first conversation of the Very Important Meeting. Fingers crossed that it goes well.

And, always, back to the page.