Tuesday, January 25, 2011

100-word challenge: harmless

"Do you know why I called you here, Mrs. Sweeney?"

"Nope, can't say I do," she answered Principal Hanford absently, checking her iPhone for messages.

"We've heard from several of Cameron's classmates that he's bullying them, taking their lunches - that sort of thing."

"Not my Cameron," Mirabelle Sweeney stated flatly. "They were probably just goofing around."

"We don't tolerate bullies, Mrs. Sweeney. Since Cameron just started here, we wanted you to know."

"It's just his harmless way of making friends," she responded airily. "By the way, you do know we're donating the new lights for the athletic field, right?

Go to Velvet Verbosity's site and play along or just read the awesome entries that are submitted each week.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Slow burn

One of the toughest and most frustrating things I've found in doing free lance writing for the past nine years is not knowing when someone is flaky and just not worth doing business with. You have to learn their flakiness all by yourself every time you work with someone new. When you're in a corporation or any size organization, you pick up the scuttlebutt, expressions, nuances of body language and other signals so you can prepare yourself mentally for flakiness before it happens to you.

Case in point: I was supposed to meet a guy about doing some writing work for him this morning at 10am. We set the appointment up the first week in January and it has been postponed (his request) twice for legitimate reasons.

  • First mistake: I didn't send him a follow up message earlier this week to confirm our meeting. 
  • Second mistake: In setting the meeting, I never specifically asked if his office was the appropriate location to meet. His Website lists an address and I knew where it was located. So I figured we were all set.

I dutifully wrote down his address and phone number and set off in plenty of time this morning to get there. Dressed in business attire and with complete portfolio in hand.

His street address was a UPS Store. In a one story building so there's clearly not offices above it. Called him 15 minutes before our appointed time asking, essentially, WTF. Got voice mail and left a message.

Killed time getting coffee and taking care of a couple errands. No call. Went home and sent him an email message but refused to say "sorry we didn't get together." Hell, I'm not sorry - he's the dingo who didn't let me know where we should meet.

Received a message about an hour and a quarter later from him saying "sorry for the confusion." Confusion, hecky darn, my left quadrant. So we have set up another meeting for Monday at 11am. At a location that has now been named. Yeay.

I dunno if he's really flaky or too busy or just doesn't pay attention to details. My flaky meter is starting to tick (well, that started after the first postponement) more insistently but I'm hoping for a better reaction in person on Monday. Since getting his two mail notes to set up the Monday meeting I've been getting more aggravated about this and that's why I'm writing. I need to get it off my chest so I can get back to the business at hand.

If any of you have any suggestions for culling and assessing flakiness early in a business relationship, I'd sure love to hear them. This gets so tiring and in the meantime, time is winging away and I'm not making money as a result. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm goin' in

Johnnie has taught me to be a bit compulsive about saving paperwork for just about everything. That's just peachy but after a while, we run out of room. Our office has a four drawer and a five drawer filing cabinet devoted to paperwork. There's also a two-drawer cabinet but it's loaded with computer cables and Lord only knows what else of an electronic nature so it doesn't count.

Last year I weeded out the five drawer cabinet and organized all the manuals for everything we've ever bought (lawn mowers, televisions, can openers, you name it) and all the receipts for those things as well. Big job. Never wanna do it again. However, the satisfaction factor was huge when it was done.

Now it's time to tackle the four drawer cabinet that houses all the monthly receipts for payments and everything else. I haven't filed in that cabinet since July, 2010 because there's no more room. Take a look.

See what I mean? I'm not sure that the pictures really convey the stuffedness of the drawers. As I'm writing, I'm beginning the purge which is the first step to finishing the 2010 filing. I'm finding receipts from 1997 in there. Anything before 2003 is getting destroyed; everything between 2003 and 2009 is going downstairs for storage until I get down there to purge those shelves.

Anyway, I'm goin' in and if I'm not out in three days, send for help. Seriously, I do love tossing stuff away an' I'm just the girl to do it!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Unjust discrimination

We went to church last evening and I was one of the two lectors. In reading through the prayers of the faithful, one item mentioned blessing all those who stand up against unjust discrimination and honor the work and life of Martin Luther King, Junior.

So ... is there any discrimination that is just? The phrase unjust discrimination seems redundant to me. But I suppose just discrimination would include not admitting a man to an all-women's club or not allowing a girl to enroll at an all boy's school.

Interestingly, I just Googled "unjust discrimination" and it returned 420,000 results. Googling "just discrimination" netted 109,000,000 results. Wow. In skimming some of these latter results, it focuses mostly on the necessary discrimination of placing children for adoption with suitable parents and there is a lot of writing about discriminating between heterosexual versus homosexual people for marriage. I'm not interested in a debate of that nature although I do believe in same sex marriage personally. It was merely the words that gave me pause.

John and I both have a love of words and how they're used. Such as business names that make you wonder: Superior Painters -- would you really want Mediocre Painters to work for you? or Economical Plumbers -- again, would you hire a company that called itself Expensive Plumbers? It was in this context that I read and reread the words "unjust discrimination" and wondered about them. So many commercials and ads string words together in an attempt to persuade people to do something or buy something. Yet if you think critically about the words they use, they don't really make sense. Such as "a savings of up to 20% off." That's a double-worded statement. You either have a savings of up to 20% or the thing is 20% off.

Was MLK Jr. only about abolishing unjust discrimination or did he fight against discrimination of every kind. I believe he was against any type of discrimination.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Invincible, She and Danny's got the car tonight

I've toyed with doing these challenges sponsored by Velvet Verbosity many times but just haven't. In my current State of Funk, today is the day. As always, I can only control my reaction to my SoF, not precisely what is causing it. Whatever.

The word for this week's challenge is Invincible.

Title: Invincible, She

Pulling herself along the wooden handrails along the corridor walls and paddling with her feet, Anna shuffled slowly down the noisy hall toward the dining room. As she inched forward, her thoughts focused on an earlier time when she had run hurdles and track in high school and college. She passed other residents slumped and asleep in their wheelchairs without seeming to notice them at all. 

She smiled to herself in satisfaction as she crossed the threshold on the dot of noon and steered herself to her favorite table by the window. She had come in first once again. 

Updated on Saturday, January 15th.

A second entry that couldn't be contained any longer.

Title: Danny's got the car tonight

"Aw, man!" Jared's longish hair swung with outrage, his hands clenched into fists.

"I said NO and that's it." I continued washing dishes to cover my shaking hands and avoided looking at him.

"Aw, Mom..." He knew arguing was futile.

"You know how those boys are, Jared. Going with them will only get you into trouble." I tried reasoning with my preciously 16-year-old, as if that was even possible."

"Maybe not tonight but it will happen, you mark my words."

He stomped away, furious.

"You're not invincible at 16, y'know!" I called as the slamming door rattled the house.

This is a second entry to Velvet Verbosity's 100 Word Challenge on the word invincible.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dear Diary

I started this post more than a week ago and just haven't gotten anywhere with it. There are two good reasons why:

1. Unfortunately, I looked at my sitemeter statistics and it seems as though nobody's out there reading. Sigh. So this is probably more of a diary entry than a blog. That shouldn't bother me but it does, kinda. I do write this for me but it's nice to think someone else might be out there somewhere too. (Ear craning to hear the resounding echoes of silence.)

2. My motivation is at an all time low to do much of anything. It's cold, there's tons of white fluffy stuff on the ground, it's January and I don't have much any steady writing work coming in. I've been monitoring ads (mostly on Craigslist) for additional writing work and part-time administrative assistant positions but haven't had any serious nibbles yet. There's one thing in the works but it's another week out before there's any progress on that. Double sigh.

Anyway, thanks for listening to me bellyache, dear Diary. Erin's dad would tell me to get off the WAAAAAAmbulance. He's right. No one can change these things except me. I'm so much more effective and productive when I'm busy. And I like myself much better then too.

There are plenty of projects and things I can do around the house to improve our home and stay busy but the less I do, the less I do. I need to find some new ways to trick myself into finding motivation and ambition. If you have any ideas, please let me know!

On to bigger and maybe more interesting topics.

I was perusing the shelves at Target last week looking for Static Guard, which seems to be a hot commodity in this land of cold, dry weather and fleece for all. Both Wegmans were sold out. Target did have three lonely cans on the shelves so I scored one. However, while I was looking for the Static Guard, I saw Clorox washer cleaner. Say whaaaaa? Why would you have to wash your washer? All you do is wash stuff in there, right? Unless you accidentally washed the cat one day or attempted to degrime an automobile engine in it. Then perhaps a washer cleaner would be called for. Anyway, it strikes me as an unnecessary product looking for a market. I'm sure it'll sell like hotcakes among the OCD crowd.

Erin has flattered me no end with her belief that I can get stains out of virtually any of the girls' clothing. When she's tried and failed, the stained article of little girl wear travels to our house so I can take a crack at getting the stains out. Most of the time I'm successful but there have been a few failures along the way. Anyway, I'm really flattered that she finds me the stain-getter-outer-wizard.

At the beginning of 2010, my New Year's resolution was to get in 10,000 steps a day. Every day. It didn't happen with the perseverance I had hoped to instill in myself but then again, I didn't do so badly. It looks as though I made 10,000+ (or the equivalent in biking or swimming) steps on at least 94 days out of 365. That's about 25 percent. I also took off about 13 pounds and have only put back on about 5 of those. Working on getting those back off, of course. Another sigh.

My biggest resolution for 2011 is to not procrastinate on things that need to be done along with shedding the remaining weight I want to lose. I don't procrastinate professionally but I'll do it in my/our personal life and I haven't ever figured out why. Here are some examples.
  1. I need to call the plow guy to arrange plowing while we're gone on vacation. It will stay on a note for days or even weeks before I get around to calling him. 
  2. We did our major Christmas at Thanksgiving weekend with our kids but I still didn't get thank you notes written until last week. What have I been waiting for?
  3. I resigned from a volunteer board on which I was our church's representative. The church appointed a new representative in October and I was supposed to get in touch with her and transition all my stuff to her. The next meeting was in December. When did I finally call her? Two days before the December meeting. Again, why put this off when it was only to my benefit to be rid of the responsibilities. I don't understand myself sometimes.