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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Meditative Writing Prompt

Well... supposed to be  a meditative writing prompt, but what I learned during those few minutes that we were supposed to be listening to the sounds around us is that I cannot sit the fuck still. My feet twitched, my legs wiggled, my breathing was rough, my neck creaked. I wondered if Kathy and Meg could hear all the things my body was doing instead of being still and listening. I peeked a couple of times and both of them were sitting authoritatively still - their bodies silently controlled by willpower and discipline. I wondered if there was a timer Kathy should have set after she read the prompt. Surely, nobody could be expected to sit THIS long! Even now when I can sit and write my body doesn't like it... YET. I sit on my ass all day at work and feel like it is hard to get up and take a break, I am entertained enough by my tasks or my sneaky online article and social media reading to either make my body be still or it keeps my mind occupied enough that I don't notice each twitch and quiver.

I really think I need this vacation, probably could have done it without the tropical cruise, but time for my body to recharge, purge those tics and twitches, and my mind to really, really listen to the sounds around me.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

I made this!





I'll take a photo when my half hour writing time is done. One of my new responsibilities at work is a Rentals Guide and its associated website. The first issue that I put together is for the spring quarter; April, May, and June. I completely admit that it is mostly a replica of the last issue, BUT I had to do all the computer paperwork and "logging" to get the pages designed and ready to go to the printer. There were a couple of ads that are "our" ads and I did edit them because they were too wordy or poorly punctuated. Before the next issue I want to sell more pages. At least enough to get the free pages out and have it all be paid content. It's pretty exciting and I feel motivated to do this not just to earn the money, but because I feel like I am doing something new and that I am learning new skills; the skills of talking to more people in person and the skills of preparing it for publication. The former rep who previously had done this publication retired. The last two weeks before she left she took me out to meet some of the people. That was nice and they are all very nice people, BUT she didn't really show me how to do the technical parts. She left her paperwork and some lists, and that's about it. It turns out that she and one designer, who has also left, had kind of thrown it all together and then she had an ad "coordinator" (assistant) do all the logging. But really, thank goodness.... because that assistant, who is now a sales rep, was there to show me the basics. I kept it all straight by doing it page by page and trying to pay attention to every small detail. I had every page logged and the designs updated and got every single page ready to send to the printer.... The printer rejected them all! The specs for the pages hadn't included the "bleed" needed for each page that made room to do the ads and cut the pages properly. Sigh... so every ad had to go back to creative and get reset a little bit to include that. Ugh.

After getting the print issue ready I had to go through the advertisers who only do the website and do the computer "logging" that would bill them for appearing there. I also went through every little detail on that. I found more than one active ad on the website, that as far back as I can see (almost one year) the advertiser had never been billed for it! When I tried to contact one of those advertisers all the emails were dead and the phone numbers only led to voicemail. I left messages, but I killed their ad! No free advertising for rentals. It's a huge industry and these huge corporations have come and built giant complexes of luxury apartments that have put all the local property owners out of business. I am not letting those billionaires in my magazine or on my pages for free! One of the pages that isn't filled by a paying advertiser is an ad for the very publication that it is in, ummmm.... if I don't get a paid advertiser for that I may try to write some content and get it approved. I think that is more interesting than a stupid self-advertising ad. Maybe something nice about the town itself that new residents would like to learn. or maybe something to do with renting, why one should get renters insurance or SOMETHING.

I made this too! ... not as in programming or anything, but as in using the template and making sure everything is current and is billed properly. Maybe silly, but good for me. I even helped the real computer programmer find a couple of bugs by testing out all the features so I could make sure I knew how to use them to describe to advertisers. I found that some of the features didn't work!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I am doing something new right now. Never before have I sat in  Coffee shop with a computer and written. I've had changes in my life which made it possible for me to purchase a laptop computer and I intend to use it to do more writing! More blogging, more stories, more letters, more, more more!

Changes:

I am a grandmother! Emily and Scott made a baby Anna Claire, who was born on December 1. This is going to increase the frequency of my visits to the northland of the Chicago suburbs. Knowing how quickly babies grow and change makes this super important! While awaiting Anna's arrival I visited up there two full weeks (at separate times) during the summer. I applied for at least twenty-five jobs. Only one even got so far as to interview me. It was a posh furniture store that wanted me to work on commission only. I had to say no to that one. I cannot afford the risk of not getting a paycheck!

Although...I've sold my house. I loved my little house and it was emotionally a difficult thing to do. I had tried during the summer, about the same time I was looking for a job up north. I put an ad in the paper for two days. I got a few calls, but didn't answer any of them. Most of them were creepy sounding guys who asked for the address so they could drive by and look at it, the others I just didn't like the sound of their voices or inquiries for silly reasons. I had let the calls all go to voicemail and didn't even call them back. In the fall, the week before Thanksgiving, (or maybe after, I don't remember), I put in the same ad. I ended up leaving and going to Emily and Scott's because she didn't feel well and I wanted to cook for her and feed her up a little - she had lost weight from being sick. A guy called and he really wanted to see it. My friend Rachael Himsel went in and "staged" the house, hiding all my clutter and doing some straightening. Then Angie Skaggs went in a did the actual cleaning of it, vacuuming and sweeping and mopping - all the things I procrastinate and then rarely do. The house hunter was a young woman, about a year younger than Britt. Rachael showed the house to her and her father and then called and said they wanted to make an offer. Unbelievably, the house was purchased and the paperwork closed on January 31. It all went very well and very fast, even though there were some frustrations along the way. I took the week before closing off work and finished all the packing and moving, mostly on Thursday, some on Friday. I stayed and cleaned everything SO WELL the last day. The house looked beautiful and I was sad. Britt had visited over Christmas and I had her pack up her stuff and sort out what she really needed to keep and what I could donate or throw away. I've ended up with a little bit that I think she couldn't really bear to part with, but didn't want to say... Science Olympiad medals, and rocks and fossils. I kept them at least for reconsideration later.

SO, even though I didn't get a job up near Emily's family I've sold the house... I am living with my friend Kathy, still here in Bloomington, still working my same job.... working super hard to save money so that when I do get a job up north (or elsewhere) I will have the flexibility to move when I need to. Even work has changed...seeing how I am in a declining industry, things there have changed. People were offered early retirement and fewer people are doing more work every day. I am one of the fewer. On top of my regular responsibilities of a phone rotation, counter customers, emails and online submissions for line ads, auction ads, memorials, I am handling the Rentals, which includes a quarterly publication and an online component. I started training for this about the third week of February and my deadline to get my first issue to print for the second quarter is tomorrow. It has really been a lot more of figuring things out than of being trained. I feel nervous because if I make an error it will be in print for THREE MONTHS! It's not like the paper, where I can correct an error the next day. Also Stacey, an ad employee, quit her job. She specifically handled all the display employment ads. On top of my other new responsibilities I am taking on several of her accounts. Nobody will be hired to replace her, on the employment stuff. It was changing anyway, where we were trained in a new program to sell "modular" ads in packages that include online and social media components. BIG CHANGES.... I forgot to mention that I looked into the possibility of moving to the South Bend Tribune, but they wanted me to accept LESS money than I make here and I told them I am worth more than that. Their offer really surprised me, Leah said they have a lower pay scale up there, but seriously, a successful employee with eighteen years o experience deserves to be paid for that. It would have been only a two hour drive to Bolingbrook from there, but nope to the nope!

Well with no house payments, making money on the house, and Kathy doesn't want me to pay rent, I have a little more fluid money to my name. The main goal is to save, save, save, by the thousands, but I did a couple of things right away. Paid off most of my debts. I still have some, but a manageable amount. My next goal in that line is to pay off the car. It is at a high interest rate, ugh. I bought new tires for the car right away. They've really been unsafe for a year, and I felt nervous every time I drove at highway speeds, and bought AAA in case I needed help. I bought a laptop! I've already used it to start a new blog, with local restaurant reviews. I want writing that isn't so personal and can be seen. I've made one post and promoted the blog on FB. I can't remember the numbers, but it had views! AANNDD.... I am going on a vacation - one I have coveted when other friends did it, one where I am not going to visit family, one where I am flying and not just driving around the mid-west... I am going on a cruise, not just any cruise, A SINGLES CRUISE. It is a "hosted" cruise, which is on a regular ship of four thousand people, but the singles group is smaller, I've heard it will be 100-120 by the actual cruise. They have activities for just the group, like a cocktail party, karaoke night, etc. I will do MUCH better at meeting and talking to people in a smaller group like that. Already, I am on a Facebook group with fellow cruisers and people are discussing which excursions to take, etc. Through that I found a roommate to share a hotel the night before the cruise.

Okay. It's 6:20. I told myself at least one half hour committed to writing and I've done 40 minutes. After sitting on my ass all day staring at a computer I need a break. Tonight I am going to dinner at a place I've never been before and will write my second review for B-Town bites. Exciting.

It's another night and I never finished and posted what I wrote above so I will do it tonight. I am at Rachael's for a "writing night." I plan to do it once a week with or without others. The intention (declaring my intention here!) is to have at least a half an hour of silent writing night.

Finding right now that it is harder to do with others present. That might be because we are at Rachael's and it is not conducive to silence!

but in reference to writing, Saturday I attended a writing workshop called, "Writing in Place." It was at the inn at McCormick's Creek state Park. Charity Singleton Craig was the coach and facilitator. She runs a Writers Center in Clinton County - Frankfort Writers Center.  I read a little bit about her online and I was kind of reserved about her qualifications.... I think something I read made it sound like she is writes for a Christian audience and I admit I went into it with prejudice. I figured if she was terrible, that I would dedicate the time to writing and it would do me good in any case. Well, it was fabulous. She was a great teacher and also used some resources that I will end up using in learning to write better for my memoirs. One section on "memories" really helped... The difference between history and memories..... As a writer remembers they are not reporting alt facts, they are reporting their MEMORIES. Even if I write about the touchy things from my family, if others who were there say I wasn't correct, my memory is my memory....

As she talked about the HISTORY she mentioned researching places and using Google maps,,, it made me think that I could look up places like "Fox Den School" and see if my memory matches the history. I was sitting there at the table looking things up, scribbling notes, getting all excited. Even that was worth the $20. It was a cheap workshop to attend because it was sponsored by a state grant for an "arts in the parks" program. Also the program is going to publish a little book with writing inspired by the parks or about the parks.... I want to do that too. I need to use my writing time for that! While she was talking about it I had a thought of writing about a time that I went to the Sugar Hill contra dance. I didn't arrive until later in the evening and when I got there things were already really going. I felt disoriented, like all the people I knew were already dancing and I felt too anxious to meet new people. The dance was in the dining hall building and I couldn't take it, could hardly breathe with my anxiety. I went outside into the night and found my solace there, away from the building, away from the music, away from the sweaty, moving people. I remember going out there are feeling SO alienated, but feeling more like myself and more like I belonged in the natural sounds and smells of the night. Think I can get a thousand words out of that?

This weekend I paan to go to Chicago on Saturday. I'll probably go early enough to spend a little time with Scott and Emily. In the evening I have tickets to a play in the city. One of my friends from Bloomington has his first Chicago role.... He was Tom Robinson when I was in To Kill a Mockingbird. He's graduated from IU, moved to Chicago, got an agent, and now has his first Chicago role. I am excited to go.

Well..... my half hour is up and I am going to make cookies for Rachael. I am going to go ahead and publish this without a lot of proofreading, so that it won't sit for a week!