Just a little update on some of the cool stuff I've been covering, for those who are interested in my writing career:
Probably the piece I'm most proud of is writing the cover story for Crazy Wisdom Journal: Gay and Lesbian Spiritual and Family Life in Ann Arbor: A Look at Evolving Attitudes and Practices at Local Churches, Temples, Dharma Centers and Spiritual Communities.
This took months of writing and research, and I talked to at least 15 different people from faith traditions ranging from Unitarian to Reform Jewish to Hindu to Zen Buddhist to Quaker.
I've also written some other fun pieces for local publications:
Local organic clothing retailer earns award
Just FYI, I don't get to write headlines, and this would better read "earns certification." Maggie's Organics, based in my hometown of Ypsilanti, was the THIRD EVER clothing retailer in the entire world to get fair trade certification. And, she helped write the standards. Pretty neat!
Jennifer Green finds her niche at Packard Health as patient advocate
Nice, uplifting story...
Executive Profile: Shelly Kovacs, director of the Office of Student Services in the School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan
Kinesiology: It's about more than just being a Phys Ed major!
This is an oldie-but-goodie that seems appropriate for this time of year:
A Real Northerner's Guide to Snow Shoveling
Just a little update on some of the cool stuff I've been covering, for those who are interested in my writing career:
I have a story I particularly like that hasn't found a home, and I sent it to Room magazine in January of 2009. They said on their submissions page that they usually reply in 3-4 months, so after I hadn't heard anything for 7 or 8 months, I sent a follow-up. I got an e-mail back saying (I'm paraphrasing) there'd been an organizational shake-up and some submissions had gotten misplaced in the process and they'd get back to me. So, finally, THIRTEEN months after I submitted the story, I got a rejection letter. But a nice one, at least:
Thank you for submitting your work to Room magazine. While we are unable to accept this particular submission for
publication, we would very much like to see more of your work.
Members of Room?s collective read more than 700 submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction each year, of which about 10% are accepted for publication... All manuscripts are read for quality, and about 30% are then passed on for further consideration... Your submission was one of the 30% that gets passed on to an issue editor. We really liked it, but were ultimately unable to use it in one of our upcoming issues. Please be sure to send us more of your writing.
In other news, we had a nice weekend. I took almost all of Saturday off (other than about 30-40 minutes worth of copy editing) and I had an awesome workout in the pool that left me feeling really limp and relaxed and mellow.
I also did a fair amount of home cooking. Friday night, we made cheesecake brownies. Saturday, I made vegetarian taco salad for lunch and black-eyed-peas and rice for dinner. I kind of melded two recipes into one for the latter, and I definitely think it's a keeper. On Sunday, I had a hankering to make homemade vegetarian lasagna, so I did. I didn't have my recipe for the version where you don't have to cook the noodles in advance, so I winged it and crossed my fingers. It actually turned out quite good, so I was pleased. Now we have a fridge full of leftovers!
On an unrelated note, J. and I have been enjoying some online point-and-click detective/mystery games (not this weekend, but on previous ones where we didn't have much scheduled.). J. always wants to play video games together, but our taste in games is somewhat different and/or we don't have access to ones we would enjoy doing together. So, the mystery games have been a fun compromise.
Here are a few we particularly liked, but I'm open to suggestion if anyone else out there plays them!
Detective Jack French We only did the first episode on this ( I refuse to use the word "webisode" which I think is an abomination.)
Nick Bounty: A Case of the Crabs
Nick Bounty: The Goat in the Grey Fedora
Also, we looked at a Shakespeare-themed one, The Seven Noble Kinsmen. It's really beautifully illustrated and looks intriguing, but it was more complicated than what we were looking for. I think you could spend an entire weekend solving it, and we were just looking for something that'd take an hour or two.
Yesterday, I talked with a patent lawyer who, as a hobby, flies planes and is part of the "The 99s," a group of women aviators started by Amelia Earhart.
Today, I talked to a man who practices traditional Chinese medicine and was served tea from a 300+ year old tea service that was once used by royalty.
Yeah, pretty cool life. Remind me not to bitch about it. :)
But... you know how the dentist tells you to be careful about eating and chewing while you're still numb from the novacaine? Yeah, I should have listened. I accidentally bit up part of my lower lip and now it's all swollen today. :(
Other than that, having a good, if busy, week.
I lost one freelance client but picked up another temporary gig and got offered additional work by someone I'm already freelancing for. Rock!
J. and I made a deal that we'll start looking at getting a new cat after Penguicon. It seems like good timing since it wouldn't feel right to get a new cat and then go away soon afterward for a long weekend. I'm still missing Mumu terribly and I'm not in a huge rush to get a new cat, but I do feel I want another one, especially if I can help provide a home for a kitty in need.
Here, you'll find a story I did about the Clean Energy Outlet in Ypsilanti - a retail space that sells energy-efficient products and offers classes on related topics.
And here's a story I did about a Michigan author whose book about the Great Lakes was chosen as the "community read" in my area- each year, a committee picks a book for anyone in the two cities to read, and there are author events and book discussions based on the chosen book.
I wrote several retail-oriented stories for AnnArbor.com including one about a jewelry store finding success by going online only and an article about how merchants in Ypsilanti's historic district, Depot Town, are faring. I also reported breaking news- I believe I was the first person locally to report that Cheeky Monkey gift store is going out of business.
Additionally, Travels.com is featuring some brief "tip" articles I wrote about traveling and destinations.
And I continue to write some occasional articles (usually health-oriented) for eHow.com and post education stories and news roundups at my Examiner page.
He became very vigilant as soon as he saw me and stared at me, the way he's staring at the camera, for at least 5 minutes, making sure I had no untoward designs on his sheep. I stood at the fence near him talking to the farmer, Bill Lutz, and put my hand out for the llama to sniff. As I was leaning against the fence, talking, this llama came up to me and put his face right in my face, so I could feel his hair and the puff of his breath against my face.
"I think he's checking to see what I had for lunch," I said to Mr. Lutz.
"You didn't have llama, did you?" he asked.
After he saw I was no threat, the llama wandered off.
A couple recent examples:
a) Last night, during a period of sprinkling rain, I went into the backyard to pick fruit from my very own raspberry bush. While I was squatted down picking, it changed from a sprinkle to a downpour. Being in touch with the elements always makes me feel really alive. Those berries were the sweeter and tarter for having come from my own soil, picked in a rush of rain.
b) I've been doing research on local "Pick your own" farms and have been talking to a lot of farmers. Most of them (with a couple exceptions) are pretty small operations, with farmers who are old, wrinkled rangy men. They have been incredibly kind to me, telling me jokes, driving me around their farms, teaching me about gooseberries and the dozens of varieties of apples. I even got to meet a llama today!
So much of the time, I've remarked, I feel guilty. No matter what I'm doing, I feel like I should be doing something else. If I'm doing housework or yardwork, I'm resentful or wishing I was sitting around reading a book or reading LJ. When I'm lazing around playing solitaire or reading a book, I think I should be doing housework or doing some paying writing/editing work. When I'm doing my freelance writing, no matter what project I'm on, I think I should be doing more on another one, or that I should be getting some housework done.
It's taken me a while, but I really think that -- at least for me, maybe for a lot of people-- the inability to be here now is the major root of anxiety. That's why doing yoga or focusing on your breathing often works, and probably why sex is such a good de-stresser. I have to say that while walking around in the sun smelling apples and tasting fruit and stooping to pick sugar snap peas and talking to 80-year-old farmers, I had very little time or mental energy to focus on anything else. I was present and relaxed. It was awesome.
I need to cultivate more of those moments in my life.
2. I enjoyed the inauguration party some friends hosted last night. They had hamburgers, hotdogs and apple pie for an all-American meal. We brought veggie burgers and potato salad and many other yummy side dishes were contributed by others. And champagne while we watched the re-play of the ceremony.
I can understand why my conservative or libertarian friends and acquaintances might not be thrilled with Obama, but I have a harder time understanding the bitter criticisms from some of my progressive friends. I don't think Obama shoots rainbows out of his butt or anything, but he's a big improvement. I'm not crazy about some of his picks for cabinet, not crazy about Rick Warren to lead a prayer at the inauguration and I have other nitpicks. But I don't want to hear any bullshit about the political parties all being the same, because they aren't. "Not different enough as I'd hope for" is not the same as "No difference." I listened to a bit of Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" as a book on CD, and it made me optimistic about having a Constitutional scholar in the White House. I imagine I'll disagree with him from time to time in the next 4 years, but overall, I'm pretty freaking thrilled.
3. Freelancing just picked up in a big way this month, and now, my office job may want to offer me some additional hours. Someone who had been working the web content part-time quit for a full-time job, and I may be able to pick up additional hours and additional pay while being able to do it from home. That'd be sweet. I'll take what I can get while things are flush, because you never know when those kind of opportunities will dry up...
4. A friend asked on her journal, "What does your weight mean to you?' It's something I've been thinking about a fair amount, largely because it's New Year's Resolution time, and there's stuff about getting rid of your belly and finally finding that right diet for you in the media, plus some friends and acquaintances (real life and LJ) are starting new diets of various kinds. This is what I said in response to her question:
"Rationally, my weight is neutral info. It indicates if I'm stressy or if I'm working out a lot. Unexplained weight loss/weight gain *may* indicate an underlying medical condition.
Non-rationally, my weight is an indication of whether I'm doing it "right." If I'm on the low end of my usual weight range, I'm being righteous. If I'm at the top or go over the top of the usual range, I must be doing something "wrong." Years of conditioning are hard to overcome, even when you're a dedicated fat-pozzer."
I've been about in the same weight range since I stopped dieting about 7 years ago. Since leveling off, I would swing up about 3 pounds, then down 5, but I was always somewhere between 201 and 208. Occasionally, like when I was having a rough time with hypo, I'd go above the range, and other times when I was super active, I dropped down to 199 or 200. But I was fairly rock steady 99 percent of the time in that range. Then, last year, I had 7 or 8 pounds creep up on me, above the top of the range. My weight started fluctuating in a higher range, between 212 and 217.
It's been hard to not see that as a "failure" on my part. I wanted to blame it on some underlying health condition, but all my labs are fine and I'm actually feeling pretty good in general. Then, I blamed it on being less active after the cold weather set in, but the initial gain happened in mid 2008 when I was the most active I've ever been in my life.
Instead of deciding I need another weight-loss diet to "fix" the problem, I've finally decided to get back to fat-acceptance/body-positive basics though. No scales for the last 2 months or so. I even turned backward on the scale at the doctor's office and asked not to be told what I weighed. A few of my pants are a little tight, and I plan to pick up one or two new pair on clearance or from a second-hand store. I want to get back into a regular exercise routine, not in hopes of losing weight, but in hopes of managing stress and anxiety and improving my health overall.
I'm pretty clear that losing weight and keeping it off long-term is not the right focus for me (or 98 percent of other humans). So, it's back to the basics of HAES. I want to focus on eating in ways that makes me feel good (from scratch, lots of fruits and veggies) and putting some fun back in my workouts. Not really a resolution, here, just a re-focusing.
I think I need to stop worrying about workflow on a weekly basis and really look at incoming work and cashflow in more of a monthly or quarterly fashion. Every time I start to feel a little panicky, something good has come along. It's unfortunate but true that bad economic times tend to be good for freelancers, because it's easier and cheaper to pay people on a temporary contract basis than hire people and pay them benefits...
How to protect a cat from mammary cancer
How to roll striped beeswax candles
If you look closely at the photos, you can see I'm using paper models in place of real wax. For some reason, I cannot find ONE place in Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor that will sell me sheets of beeswax for rolling. I could have ordered them on-line, but I was up against a deadline.
Are the 10-Minute Solution exercise DVDs the right choice for you?
I like writing for AC, but it galls me that I can't make changes to articles after they've been published. For some reason, I spell check these and I still end up with typos, and I never seem to see the typos until after they've been published. :(
I'm also annoyed with the site that published my How To articles. They LOST the middle chunk of text on an article I spent a lot of time writing and asked me to re-submit. I didn't get around to it for a couple of days because I could only find the roughest of rough drafts. After a few days, they told me my time had expired and I no longer had a claim on the assignment. So I spent all that time writing for nothing and didn't get paid because of a glitch on THEIR end. Not happy. I'll still keep writing for them, but I guess I need to make sure to keep better back-up files and drafts of what I submit so this doesn't happen again.
This is what I love about writing human interest feature stories, and what I know I'll love about freelancing. There are WHOLE WORLDS out there that I really know nothing about. Sure, polka is corny, and the elderly people I was interviewing and listening to last night were playing in a dark, smoky meeting hall off a pothole plagued back country road. But they were having a hell of a lot of fun. I hope I'm that passionate and am jamming with my friends when I'm 84.
I'll miss several of my co-workers, but luckily, I've got emails or phone numbers for several and plan to keep in touch.
Went to the gym before work and got almost a full workout in
Sat with J. and had some yogurt and juice and coffee for breakfast.
Made it to work just a little bit late.
Gave my 2 weeks notice at work.
It's already been a busy morning!
I'm scared to death but excited. I'm leaving a full-time job at a company I've been with for four years for an uncertain future at a part-time job, trying to freelance on my days off and see how that goes. Everybody at the new place seems nice, and I know I'm going to pick up a ton of new skills. I feel fine about that part (though I can't commute with J. anymore, which bites). I hope I can manage the freelance bit of it. I guess if I fail, it'll teach me that I need more structure and am not cut out to be a full-time freelancer.
But, you keep moving or you stagnate. Onward!