Tues. May 11, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 353 — Vaccine Dose 2 Takes Its Toll

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

New Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Cloudy and cool

The last few days have been a ride, let me tell you. Seriously, that’s what I’m about to do. Tell you. So, get the beverage of your choice and settle in. I didn’t blog or post on social media about it, because, frankly, I didn’t want people weighing in who aren’t living in my skin right now.

Late Wednesday afternoon, we headed over to Enterprise by the airport and rented a car. We just didn’t trust our old car for the trip. The Enterprise rental seemed like a good price (until the extra insurance was piled on). It was tiny, a Chevy Spark. It felt like driving a tuna can. Not stable at all.

Anyway, we packed, and set up feeders and waterers for the cats.

On Thursday, we left a little bit after 9, to miss the worst of the traffic. We had a bit of a delay, because a recruiter wanted information. I sent him what he initially requested and told him I would be out of the office until Monday, and he kept at me two more times for more, so we were a bit delayed. There was still road construction and bridge work, and all the rest. But we took the Sagamore Bridge (the work is on the Bourne); although it was slow, it wasn’t too bad. The car doesn’t accelerate well (unlike the rabbit, which roars into action more like a lion than a rabbit, even as old as it is). We saw some constructions on the other side of 495, so we plotted an alternate route coming back. The car had Nova Scotia plates, which got us a few looks, since the Canadian border is still closed.

We made good time to the Mass Pike, and took gas for the first time just past Worcester. Honestly, just about anywhere we drove through is somewhere we could live, except for Springfield, which has one of the highest crime rates in the country.

Western Mass was gorgeous – spring is ahead of what it is on Cape. Things are in bloom, and it looked just, just lovely. There was a lot of road work around Lee, so, again, we plotted a different route to head back.

There were a couple of places in Pittsfield – they were okay, but not great. Lack of storage and lack of parking were the big concerns. All smaller spaces than what we live in now, but that’s to be expected, within our budget. One place was proud of its additional security system, which reinforced the feeling that the neighborhood was sketchy. We absolutely loved Williamstown. I’ve always liked Williamstown, but we really loved it. Unfortunately, the place we’re interested in – a loft – well, they haven’t finished building it yet and they already have more than a year’s wait list once they do.

We headed into Bennington, which we absolutely adored. It’s been several years since I’ve been to Bennington, and it’s a great town. The place we looked at was in walking distance of downtown, but in a terrific neighborhood. The place itself was tiny – supposedly 1000 square feet of living space, which meant it’s 2/3 the size of where we live now, but it seemed like maybe half. But charming and workable. Delightful details, lots of storage space in the basement, its own garage, a storage shed with lots of space. A small, screened in back porch. A larger, covered porch in the front. A narrow portico along the side that could be more outdoor living space in the good weather. The next-door neighbor is a delightful older gentleman who loves to decorate. Oil heat, which is a worry. Very little closet space. Each closet has less space than our hall closet.  A stream runs behind the house, which, on the one hand is peaceful, but on the other hand, I worried about flooding, although the landlord says it doesn’t flood. If we lost the car and the books, I’d be devastated. I already lost one car to a flood in Rye. Images of Blind Brook regularly flooding came to mind.

But we could work with that. We liked the landlord. It was a good conversation. We liked the feel of the space. We liked the house’s history – it’s from 1913, with a colorful story. We took a rental application. I explained I wouldn’t be able to get it in until we got home, but we would do so as soon as possible, definitely before I got my second dose vaccine, because I wasn’t sure how long it would take me down. He said he’d be away with his family over the Mother’s Day weekend, so it would be next week before he got to the paperwork anyway.

Of all the places we’ve seen since the beginning of this journey, this is the one we liked best. As with any place, there are compromises. But we could be happy there.

By the time we were done, we didn’t have time to go over to Troy to look at another place we were interested in. I’d had a feeling we wouldn’t make it, so I hadn’t booked an appointment, although if we had had the time, I would have called ahead and seen what we could do. But we were at the end of the day by now, and pretty worn out.

To avoid the traffic, we took Rt. 9 East over to Brattleboro and then 91 down to Springfield. We had hoped to take a look at another duplex, similar in size to this one, in Brattleboro, but hadn’t heard back from the landlord. From there, it was back on the Mass Pike to Sturbridge, to stay at our favorite Publick House, n their funky lodge building.

The Publick House had just opened to guests. In fact, only one lodge was open and running. All the ground floor rooms were booked, so we took one upstairs, which was fine. They warned me that the TV wasn’t working – it was supposed to be, but the company screwed up, as usual. But the internet was. We don’t have cable TV at home, so it didn’t matter. To my dismay, they’d also taken the fridges out of the lodge rooms.

However, we’d packed food in an insulated bag, and it was still cold. There’s no way we’re indoor dining yet. It was a calculated risk to travel even as we did, following safety protocols.

The positive part of the risk was that, once we were off Cape, everyone we encountered followed masking and distancing protocols WITHOUT MAKING A FUSS. Unlike here, where they don’t, and when they’re called out, they pull a Karen.

People were cheerful (from a masked distance) and doing what needed to be done. No fussing. No whining.

So this is what it was like elsewhere in the state during the pandemic? Not the nightmare that was Cape Cod, with reckless tourists coming in, determined to kill us all for their “freedoms”?

I kept hearing stories about how MA residents were being so responsible, and it looks like they were, in other parts of the state. Just not here.  Where too many people don’t give a fuck about anything except tourist dollars.

Anyway, at the Publick House, we unpacked our picnic and had a nice supper (we’d skipped lunch). We sat on our balcony and watched the sunset, with all the flowering trees. It was beautiful and peaceful. It was a lovely little break from all the stress.

We talked about possible ways to arrange things in the little duplex, and what to put in the shed, the basement, the garage, and what we still need to purge. The recruiter from the morning was at me again; but the money is insulting for this job. It’s entry level hourly for what should be a senior level salaried position. No. I told him to withdraw me from consideration. I got a message from another potential client about a second round Zoom meeting for Tuesday morning, to which I agreed, although I worried about aftereffects from the second vaccine dose.

The rent on the duplex is considerably less than what we pay now; it would give us some breathing space. It gives me a chance to settle in with the new script coverage job and see how much steady earning I can get from that, and also add in more clients, while still not being frantic every month. The move itself would be a bigger expense, but because it’s all going to the house instead of to a house and a storage facility, that would help. We could do it.

More importantly, we could be happy there. Even moving during Mercury Retrograde, which beyond terrifies me.

We had a decent night’s sleep (although I found the mattress too soft). We didn’t have to worry because we were the first people to stay in the room for over a year, so they were definitely clean. We saw them loading furniture in one of the other lodges. So they stripped all the rooms during the pandemic?

It was cold enough outside to store our insulated bag on the balcony.

In the morning, we headed down to the bakery. They’d set up the flow of traffic and outside seating area for maximum safety. Everyone followed protocols and no one fussed. We got our coffees; they prepared a lovely assortment of pastries (more than we would have taken). We took it back up to the room and ate on the balcony.

We waited until a little after 9, to avoid rush hour traffic, checked out, and headed back on the pike. Filled up with gas again (really, this little car is not more fuel efficient than the rabbit). The seats in the Spark were uncomfortable, and we were a little sore by now.

But we sailed across the Pike and back onto 495 South. We’d timed it well. We took Rt. 44at Taunton from 495 across to Rt. 3 to miss the road work, then took 3 south down to the Sagamore Bridge, which was a little slow, but not bad. We took 6A from the bridge to home, so we could enjoy the scenery.

We were home a little after noon. We unpacked, to the sounds of chain saws and leaf blowers. We realized we hadn’t heard a single leaf blower in the past 36 hours, no matter where we were. It was the first time we had a break or even a mini vacation since 2019.

We returned the car, and came home. Got the cats sorted; Charlotte was anxious; Willa was unsure and puffy; Tessa was angry. It took awhile to get them sorted out.

Unpacked, did the onboarding for the script coverage job. That took longer than expected. Started the rental application for the duplex.

The landlord here had set up an irrigation system while we were gone, for the resodding, so I got that going, too. It looked dry.

The recruiter with whom I’d had a meeting last week who was so hot to have me meet with a client early next week and promised to set a date by Friday – never got back in touch. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I haven’t met a recruiter in the past ten years who wasn’t a complete and utter waste of space and of my time.

Saturday morning, finished up the rental application, scanned it, and sent off the PDF.

Headed to Mashpee for my second Moderna Dose. It hurt more than the first one, and I was already feeling woozy by the end of the 15 minutes. My mom drove us home.

Even with its problems, our old rabbit feels better than that little Spark!

I didn’t feel too bad initially. Even managed to get the laundry done. The fatigue and the thirst started up fast, though, followed by chills and body aches. I was in bed by early afternoon. I managed to hoist myself out of bed in the late afternoon to water the lawn.

Sunday added fever and swollen lymph nodes and nausea. I was awake for maybe 45 consecutive minutes. I slept and slept and slept. I read a little bit – nothing that was work, just for pleasure. Charlotte and Tessa called a truce, so that Charlotte could come on the bed and play nurse, and even Willa came in to visit occasionally.

Monday, I still felt like hell. I told my client I’d work from home, and that is what I did, off and on. Got everything done and out that needed to go out; I just had to take frequent breaks. It had rained quite a bit Sunday into Monday, so I didn’t have to worry about the lawn.

I also turned around my first coverage for the new job, and accepted two more assignments. I read the second one, and will write up the coverage this morning, and will read the third one later today. I need to make up for the money spent on car rental, gas, and hotel.

Plus, I have a feeling that I need to get our car repaired, and I’m worried that will be a large bill that eats into the moving money.

The landlord brought some people to look around the outside of the house. I don’t know what’s going on there, but I feel even more pressure to get the move sorted out.

There was a rental up in Worcester County that looked good, so I sent off an email. It had an open house last night, but there was no way I felt well enough to go anywhere. It will probably be rented from the open house – it’s a nice space at a good price – but it was worth an email.

We heard from the landlord of the duplex. He’s giving the apartment to someone else – a couple who didn’t even come to see it – they cancelled their appointment to see it on Friday, but they got in their application before we got in ours, so he’s giving it to them. Which is complete and utter b.s. The only reason he would rent to someone he’s never met over someone he has is that he didn’t want to rent to us, and he’d rather rent to someone with more money. We happen to be outstanding tenants. May we find something more suited to us.

To say we are disappointed is an understatement. It had faults, but it had enough positives and was in a good place. However, it’s not meant to be. A good cry, and time to move on.

With the first Moderna dose, I was hungry all the time. Now, I can barely keep food down.

Heard from the landlord that he’s bringing landscapers to look at the outside tomorrow.

Heard from another potential client to whom I’d sent an LOI. They want me to do a 40-minute initial assessment/personality test; if they like it, they want two additional samples. I’m sending them the test agreement this morning, and telling them I can schedule it on Thursday, provided I get the deposit by Wednesday. But if the “personality” segment has anything to do with DISC or Myers-Briggs, they can forget about it. It’ll be another no-go from a not-good match. Read my portfolio samples. Your lack of critical thinking skills is not my problem.

Watched more of WILLIAM AND MARY last night, and went to bed early. Had trouble getting to sleep, but once I did, slept pretty well.

Up around 5:30 this morning, later than usual. Charlotte waiting patiently outside the bedroom, instead of banging on the door and crying the way she usually does. I still feel awful – mostly fatigued and dizzy.

Posting this, then showering and preparing for the Zoom meeting with the potential client. Will work on writing up the coverage and getting it out, reading the next assignment, working on my article, and doing other client work.

I’m feeling absolutely beaten down, but the only thing to do is pick myself up and keep going.

Published in: on May 11, 2021 at 6:21 am  Comments Off on Tues. May 11, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 353 — Vaccine Dose 2 Takes Its Toll  
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Tues. April 27, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 339 — And the Retrogrades Begin

image courtesy of Kerbstone via pixabay.com

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Last Day of Full Moon

Pluto Retrograde

Partly cloudy and cool

The Retrogrades are starting, which worries me. I’d hoped to get the house hunting resolved before that happened, but no luck.

I had a good, solid writing weekend, which was necessary. I wrote an entire chapter on Sunday morning.

It took me all morning on Friday to complete the paperwork for the second category of the contest, but I did it and sent it off. I made good progress on the final category (I’d already completed about half the entries for this one, too). So I’m on track with that.

Saturday, I was up early, wrote, did laundry and housework. I’ve been craving fast food like crazy the past few weeks. I haven’t eaten beef for months, because it always made me sick. I haven’t ordered/eaten fast food in about two years. But I decided to go up to Burger King, which is about three miles from here, just off the Rt. 6 exit, and hit the drive through. I haven’t eaten from Burger King in at least 3-4 years, maybe longer. I ate at McDonald’s about two years ago, and was as sick as could be after.

But I risked it anyway. I had a Whopper, my mom had a bacon cheeseburger, we split an order of onion rings and an order of French fries, and had chocolate shakes.

I haven’t drunk cow’s milk in nearly a year, either, because it was making me sick.

Basically, I craved things that were bad for me, and I decided to take the risk.

Did the drive-through window – and realized that, in the 10 years we’ve lived here, it was the first time I’d done that. And yes, of course I wore my mask at the window, and the workers were all masked, too.

Got everything home, and we ate. And ate. It was good, hit the spot, filled the craving.

I didn’t feel as bad as I expected after, although I felt full and heavy. Everything was much saltier than when I cook, so I was thirsty as all get out, and drank a lot of tea and juice all afternoon.

Neither of us was hungry by dinner time, so we didn’t eat.

It was pretty nice outside, albeit a bit windy, so we took Willa and Charlotte out in their playpens. However, because that idiot a few streets over continues to run the woodchipper and chain saws all day every day from 7 AM to 9 PM, it was impossible to actually enjoy sitting outside. Or get much done inside, that required concentration. If you need to run a woodchipper that much, you’re either a serial killer or incompetent, and it shouldn’t be allowed.

I didn’t feel great at night, but at least I got some sleep. I felt okay Sunday morning, although it will probably be a few years before I do that again.

Baked biscuits for Sunday morning breakfast. It was rainy and raw.

I got some paperwork done, got out a few information requests on rentals, got out some LOIs. Got some writing done.

I felt pretty discouraged, all the way around.

Spent most of the day on contest entries.

Monday morning, I was up early and wrote, in spite of feeling resistance to it. Once I started, it was fine.

My mother had terrible nightmares. I realized she’d packed her dreamcatcher over the bed; I unpacked another one, hung it up, and she slept well last night.

I headed onsite to the client’s extra early, since the landlord said he and the septic people would be over to go over the plan for the replacement, which starts next week. I got everything done that needed to be done onsite in a jiffy, dropped things off at the post office, got back to the house – and they never showed up and never contacted me. Frustrating.

Got some more packing done, although I’m behind where I wanted to be at this point. I need to pack faster, purge more, and get stuff up on craigslist this week.

But I did the rest of the work I needed to do for the client remotely, so it worked out. I got out a stack of LOIs. I heard back from a couple of rentals – two very nice, one in particular is a house that might work, although it’s small. The other is bigger, but means moving back to NY State, just outside of Syracuse, to a town that has a rather high crime rate. The cost of the move itself might put it out of reach, although the space is terrific, with a garage and a deck. There was one rental, though, for a loft – they want copies of birth certificates for every member of the household. How is that even legal?

I complained to the AG’s office, and I’m having a conversation with my state senator about it. That is wrong. It also opens the door to identity theft. A landlord does not have the right to birth certificates.  That opens the door to all kinds of discrimination and identity theft.

A recruiter wanted to talk to me about an LOI I’d sent. But the “application” demanded dates of high school and college graduation, which is a workaround on the age discrimination laws, so I called him out on it and refused. I got a very nice apology from him, and that he’s taken up the issue with IT to fix it, and asked to have a conversation anyway, so I agreed to have a short one this morning.

Will probably talk to the property manager for the small house this afternoon.

Put together a LOI package for a potential local client who used to work in theatre, and was email introduced by a mutual friend. So we’ll see if that’s something we can work out. I’m always leery of local clients, because they never want to pay, but she’s a washashore and from professional theatre, and understands that work is paid.

Decent first writing session this morning, although it was hard to get started. Will do some client work, get out some more LOIs, have the talk with the recruiter. I expect it will be a waste of time. I haven’t spoken to a single recruiter in the past ten years that wasn’t a complete and utter waste of my time and energy. My experience is that they don’t actually give a damn about any potential employees. They just want names on their sheet to meet quotas. However, this guy responded and claimed he was dealing with a problem, so I feel like I should give him the benefit of the doubt.

The retrogrades have me even more on edge than I already was. I’m ready to fall off the edge.

Deep breath. Keep going. Because there’s no other choice.

By the way, my first choice for the Kentucky Derby this weekend is Midnight Bourbon. I love him. I love his personality. I still have to do some more research on the rest of the field. I think all the horses are more relaxed and have progressed better without fans in the stands.

Published in: on April 27, 2021 at 7:34 am  Comments Off on Tues. April 27, 2021: Die For Your Employer Day 339 — And the Retrogrades Begin  
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Fri. Feb. 26, 2021: Die For Your Employer 280/MA Vaccine Distribution Fail Day 30 — Applying Meditation Practice To Life

image courtesy of Pexels via pixabay.com

Friday, February 26, 2021

First Day of Full Moon

Partly cloudy and mild

I had the chance to use what we’ve been working on in meditation in life yesterday.

It was a stressful day and kept tugging me off-course, although by 10 AM, I’d gotten in writing, client work, admin work, and my mother’s doctor’s appointment.

The “digital waiting room” for the vaccine appointments is appalling. Who can sit with the computer tab open for 6722 minutes? If you open another tab to work on something while you wait, it kicks you out of the “waiting room.” How is this sustainable? Who can spend 17-18 hours a DAY on the computer trying to get an appointment and still carry work and family responsibilities? Why does every “fix” Baker adds make it all worse?

More importantly, why are second dose patients competing with first dose patients? Why aren’t they sent to a separate sign-in and given the appointments they need?

Why does Baker act like Cape Cod isn’t part of the state?

The physical, emotional, and financial burdens he is causing are enormous. And totally unnecessary. His refusal to listen to qualified, talented people around him and respond to what is actually going on versus what he wants it to look like is infuriating. All these stories are being planted in the press about how great MA is doing with vaccines, and it’s an entirely different reality than what I’m living.

Then, he sits in the state hearing and gaslights.

Of course he does. He’s a Republican. He’s right on brand.

I finally just sat down and took a deep breath, and decided to try techniques we worked on (especially last week, and, since I couldn’t participate this week, I felt off-kilter).

First thing: Where am I right now?

Answer: Not okay.

And, as a friend of mine pointed out yesterday, it’s okay not to be okay. I worked, flat out, through a pandemic, three surgeries, and two cancer scares in the past year. My last vacation was in May of 2016. I’ve been taking care of my elderly mother, fighting to get her the vaccinations in a system that delights to cause pain and suffering, kept up with client work, sought new client work, had to deal with clients being more demanding because remote work “isn’t really work”, and am dealing with some other major upcoming life changes.

I am frustrated, angry, scared, and overwhelmed. And, especially, exhausted.

And those factions who say I “choose” to feel that way say so from hilltops of entitlement and privilege.

I feel what I feel, and it matters.

I acknowledge that I’m not okay. That’s step one. It’s real, and relevant.

I have to acknowledge that the level of stress that didn’t slow me down at twenty is slowing me down now that I am decades beyond twenty. Also, at age twenty, I wasn’t fighting to keep my family alive in a pandemic amidst the selfish and the stupid.

Plenty of external pressures are out of my control. I can’t control the vaccine sign-up site (although, at the risk of sounding egotistical, if I did, there would be a far more equitable distribution system in place).

I can’t control clients who are pretending the pandemic doesn’t exist anymore and demand a higher productivity level than before the pandemic, but without resources. I CAN change my relationship with those clients, although there are consequences, and I have to have other clients in place to pick up the financial slack. That is a work in progress.

Early in the pandemic, I severed relationships with several clients who refused to give me any option to work remotely, and it was absolutely the right choice.

There are a couple of people who are taking up too much real estate in my head, and I need to give them eviction notices. That doesn’t happen immediately, but it is something that can happen, with work.

There’s physical work to be done here at the house, and I’m breaking it down and handling as much as I can at a time, while exploring options in case it cuts very close to me running out of time completely. Again, there’s only so much I can do physically at any given time. I am not twenty. It’s a reality. And it’s not something I could hire anyone else to do – especially not during a pandemic. Plus, we can’t have anyone in the house who is not part of the household during a pandemic.

There are other factors that are out of my control, but I’m trying to figure out workarounds.

By facing each situation individually and looking at it in terms of what can I do? What can’t I do? Where can I adjust? Where does the necessary adjustment go against my needs? What are my other alternatives?

I can also clear out the mental clutter and focus on each piece of work with full attention. When I work on the articles, for instance, and get lost in them, I’m happy doing the work, I do good work, and it gets good results. Or creating a marketing campaign for a client.

One of the few upsides of the pandemic was realizing how many unhealthy work compromises I’ve made over the last ten years, since leaving full-time theatre work, and learning what adjustments I have to make for a healthier work situation. I may not get it with every assignment, but the more assignments I can stack up that are within what I consider the “healthy work arena” the better the quality of my work and my life.

I can’t control the companies that are determined to act like the pandemic never happened and plan to force their employees into their offices full-time, even when the work doesn’t call for it. But I can avoid as many of those assignments as possible.

Accepting not being okay, and working on things I can actually DO instead of drowning in what I can’t do helped a lot.

And reminding myself to let up on the negative self-talk, which, over the past few weeks, has reached screeching levels inside my head.

Freelance Chat was fun and upbeat, and I got some good ideas out of it, which I hope to implement.

Spent some time on the acupressure mat. One of the replacement books arrived, the diaries of Sir Peter Hall, talking about the creation of the National Theatre in the 1970’s. I’d read it before, at the start of my theatre career, and loved it. I started re-reading it, and can’t put it down. I’m seeing so much from a different perspective (not to mention, by this point, I’ve worked with some of the people mentioned, when I only knew their work the first time I read it). It’s a very invigorating book.

Turned back way too many requests to “talk” from recruiters – all for jobs that have nothing to do with what I do. I’m a writer – it’s clear on the website, it’s clear on my resume, it’s clear on my linked in profile. So stop TELLING me I should take a job that’s a web designer (I’m not qualified), a sales executive (I’m not interested), a truck driver (what? How do you get that from writer?). Read my actual material and stop wasting my time.

Was ready to bitch slap some Twitter twat complaining that wearing a mask fogged up her glasses and was “intolerable.” You know what? Over 500,000 deaths are intolerable. You’re merely inconvenienced, you selfish POS. I did not say that in my reply; I told her how I avoided lens fog (at least most of the time). I’ve worn a mask nearly a year now. It’s not hard to wear it with glasses so you don’t fog up.

Worked on the article. I finally have it almost were I want it, although I have to cut about 300 words, which includes a quote I’d like to keep in, but there just isn’t room. I’m going to cut the 300 words to get it in at word count and get it to my editor this morning.

Knowledge Unicorns was good. We got solid work done. I am so grateful for the educational stuff that the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History and other big museums post. Whatever their assignments, we can supplement with material from places they couldn’t visit in time to do the assignment, even without a pandemic. I hope some of theses online resources continue. I know the kids who live far away from these places are now eager to visit when it’s safe.

After I do a library run, a liquor store run, and a CVS run to pick up my mom’s prescription, I will turn my attention to the article for THE WRITER. I’d like to get it out to my editor a little early. I have all but two quotes, and I have enough material to go without. I’m also doing some live script doctoring via Zoom while a corporate video is shooting, which is a new and different experience.

I was up way too early this morning worrying. So I gave up, got up, and need to turn that energy into actual work.

I have a lot on my agenda this weekend, between the article, books for review, contest entries, and more box purging. Weather-wise, it looks like it will be all over the place. I might do another dump run (I sure have enough).

I’m hoping to build in some rest. I need it.

I also plan to drop in, at least for a bit, at my virtual 40th HS reunion. The organizers took the time to hunt me down; the least I can do is show up for a while. I have nothing at stake – maybe one or two people from my high school graduating class have remained part of my life. High school was something to get through so I could get going on my life. Were there many bouts of unhappiness? Sure. It was high school. But I also made decisions to find what I wanted and needed away from the cliques and that kind of stuff, and it was the right choice for me. Plus, I graduated a semester early and started college early, and I was taking college classes while still in high school. I hope everyone in my graduating class is well and happy, but our lives have taken us in different directions.

Next week, I have to make some big decisions.

Have a great weekend.

Fri. July 3, 2020: Die For Tourist Dollars Day 46 — Finally, Productivity

Friday, July 3, 2020
Waxing Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Jupiter Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Cloudy and humid

We’re going into the long holiday weekend, and I just feel like the clock is running out for me on way too many fronts.

Yesterday was actually a fairly productive day. I popped into my client’s to launch an ad – the financial information was at the office. That didn’t take long, and the client is pleased. Let’s hope it converts into actual sales. I’ve got some SEO tweaking to do on the client’s website next week, which should also help.

Swung by the bodega (ahem, convenience store) on the way back to pick up eggs. It just wasn’t worth standing in line to get into a grocery store for eggs. The only people wearing masks around here yesterday were the locals going into the post office and the convenience store.

Clumps of tourists are clomping around, not wearing masks, not social distancing. The bridges were backed up for hours.

We’re going to lose all the progress we made against the virus, and it’s disheartening.

Got home, full disinfectant protocols, and made it to the first session of the Freelance Writing  Success Summit. Attended all three virtual sessions. Got some good information. Some of the sessions are for people earlier in their careers than I am, but they’ll get a lot out of it.

It turns out a lot of best practices for SEO writing were what I do instinctively. That’s good to know. It helps me frame SEO conversations moving forward, especially because I am committed to quality content over SEO word salad. Since Google doesn’t like keyword stuffing anyway, it gives me a stronger position when the companies push back about using keywords that aren’t supported by content.

Got out some LOIs. Refused some reach outs from “recruiters” who want me to do work in which I’m not interested nor is my focus, for lower than my regular rate because I should be “happy someone wants to hire you in these hard economic times.” A) I’m working; B) What you offer is not in my area of expertise OR interest, so find someone in that field; C) I’m not 20 begging for my first job. I’m a seasoned professional and I’m worth my rate.

Freelance Chat was a lot of fun.

Finished reading a book of essays by someone who is a good writer, but her brand of crazy is too much for me right now. And yes, in her case, it’s definitely part of her “brand.” My emotional energy needs to be elsewhere right now, because there’s not a whole lot of it.

My doctor sent me a survey on how I’m feeling, emotionally. Um, I’d be a bit of a sociopath if it was all flowers and rainbows in the middle of a pandemic. No, I’m not sleeping well, I worry a lot, and I have post-anesthesia brain fog. I just had two surgeries in 4 months during a pandemic, for goodness’ sake!

I’m a little fed up with all the forms and the surveys and the tests. I’m tired and I’m worried and I can’t heal if I’m filling out forms all the time.

Got some work done on the promotional TRINITY OF TEASERS package, but exporting text from system to system and having it actually do what I want is frustrating. But I don’t want to rekey over 100 pages of text, either. I need to get back to work on the new editions of the Topic Workbooks, too. I thought I’d be farther along by now.

I thought I’d be farther along on a lot of things.

Didn’t get the reading done for my language class, so I’ll have to get that done today.

Did do some work on Book 4 of the Gambit Colony series, because I craved it. Really shouldn’t be working on it now, but it calms me and soothes me and gives me creative fuel for other projects.

The dickheads with their illegal fireworks were in full force last night. These are the same idiots who won’t wear masks because “fweedom” asLilith St. Crow put it the other day in her blog. Their freedom to terrorize the neighborhood exists, but ours not to be infected by their stupidity does not. We obviously know for whom they voted and where they get their news. About 20-30 minutes, at least 300-400 fireworks (I trained in pyro when I worked rock and roll, I know these things). I was on the floor, beside Tessa, who was terrified, putting my body between the direction of the noise and poor Tessa. Willa and Charlotte ignore the noise, but it absolutely terrifies Tessa.

At least I had a good night’s sleep, for once.

Working on THE BARD’S LAMENT this morning – hoping I can finish fixing that huge plot problem. I can’t believe I was that stupid.

Dashing down to the library for a curbside pickup this morning. Excited to return books and get some new ones. Will also read the book for review this weekend.

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Sent out a bunch of cards to people yesterday, and have some more that need to go out in the next few days. I ordered a bunch of new notecards from Peter Pauper Press (one of my favorite suppliers), so it’s time to use them!

I’m actually almost looking forward to the weekend. I have to battle the bindweed, weather permitting, but I’d like to read and write and not deal with any human beings outside the household.

I don’t feel there’s a lot to celebrate this year, but I am looking forward to some downtime.

Have a great holiday weekend, friends!

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!

Published in: on March 19, 2020 at 5:10 am  Comments Off on Thurs. March 19, 2020: It’s Not All Working in Pajamas and Drinking Wine  
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