Fri. Feb. 26, 2021: Die For Your Employer 280/MA Vaccine Distribution Fail Day 30 — Applying Meditation Practice To Life

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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.

20200630_193503

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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