Friday, December 28, 2007

Closing Thoughts

This post is about nothing in particular. This post is about everything. This post will probably be my farewell to 2007.

1 - I need a laptop and almost was on my way to claiming one in February - this one in yellow, unless purple comes out soon - until my business partner and I talked about our finances and plans. Any bonus I get needs to go to us this time around, with a few hundred going to credit cards so I can get that mess back down again. Guess my laptop will have to wait a little longer but as long as I get my computer operating at full capacity and buy more memory to boot for the sake of all of us using it, then I suppose I can last a little longer without it.

2 - I want a green bookcase. Actually I realized if I take all the crap out of my office that can't live there anyway, I'll have room for two. The challenge in getting my office as it should be is that I have to think about what I have that needs storage and then consider what kind of storage will do so I won't end up buying something I can't really use. I went on the hunt again and I am giving up after about a year of searching for the right color green and the right look. And no, I don't want to paint a darn thing, Kerri! That's ok. Black is beautiful and Ikea is still the only place that has the right thing so I think black it is. The baskets can be green. Ikea has that too along with orange and yellow which I wanted to use in the room. They may be a tad too low but it's an option. Black will create grounding in the room anyway since the floor is a light wood and so is my desk and my beloved 2-drawer chest with the wonderful green and orange stripes, which is the cause of all this case confusion in the first place. And when I get that sweet lamp I saw at the gallery earlier this month, I am going to get it a black table to light upon because it too is a semi-light wood. (Ahhh, dreaming of that lamp.) I drew myself a floorplan of my room, hearkening back to my interior design days in college. I need a worktable because my partner and I realized we're going to have to take on some of the manufacturing of our puzzles ourselves - the packaging more than anything - but as we thought about what we'd need, I realized my office is truly going to be all about Village Works, which is good news tax wise. You can't claim a home office if the whole space isn't used that way and you can't claim more than one office either. (Now, I'm sure there is SOME way around all that if you try hard enough but we're going to just follow the advice of our accountant. Yay baby! We got one of those. So professional of us!) So you see, my office has been greatly on my mind lately again. Because of the new addition I'm going to need in there, I can finally envision the whole space when I couldn't before. Time to get cracking.

3 - One of the things I have to do is get my blog posts organized. When I started this blogging nonsense, the labels weren't an option. Now they are and I have to go back and add them to about a year's worth of posts now so I can find stuff when I want to link to it again. Plus I feel out of sorts when stuff is half organized so it simply must be done.

4 - Speaking of the business 2 items ago, my partner and I met with a new marketing person. We're keeping the old one for the fundraising projects and maybe she can help us find some local opportunities. However, the man we met with recently was a volcano of ideas and two hours flew by as we told him our thoughts and plans. I love to watch people develop a love for our product. It's truly lovable but it needs to be able to sell itself without us around and that is the issue we are tackling next year. We've got Chris, our new guy, working on a sales kit plan - and cost - and hopefully with his help, we'll land a few more stores next year. We're very excited and this is part of why my laptop now has to wait a little longer. He has a plethora of experience and has worked with oh so many people with oh so many talents and of varying business sizes. This man was there when the local edible fruit bouquet business was a baby. It's a booming enterprise now. 2008 is looking great! We've got one more vending event to do tonight and we can finally focus on next year. Oh, the plans for the website. The plans for the stores. The plans for selling. I'm itching to get going!

5 - Let's see. Anything else? I have to work on Monday so I don't even have another 4-day weekend to look forward to, but that's OK too. It'll be quiet and the highway will be a lovely span of gray concrete that I can navigate all by my lonesome at 80 mph. (Just kidding, mommy! Sorta) Both kids will be home and I will be looking forward to reading my latest Sophie Kinsella. (Hmm. Better update my booklist while I'm here.) I'll probably ring in the new year at church since my choir is recording a CD that night and I haven't been to church on New Year's Eve in about 3 or 4 years now. Also, I need my hair done before birds set up residence but we've been busy vending these past few weekends I just haven't had time. (That was just a little something extra for you.)

6 - I was contemplating calendars today with a coworker and I asked her if it meant something that picking a calendar is really a serious undertaking. If I am going to look at the same picture for a whole month, I need it to be visually invigorating for me. It takes a while to find that but I think I found something interesting for this coming year. Clean lines, lots of colors, exaggerations. This has me thinking back to the conversation I had with that gallery manager and The Artist's Way. I need to do that little exercise just to see what comes of it. If you know not of what I speak, the exercise is to go through magazines and the like and cut out pictures of anything and everything that draws you. Apparently when you put them all together, you get this visual representation of yourself and you find cohesion in all the odd things that attract you. When I think of my beautiful dresser and the lamp I am pining for and even this calendar, I can imagine there is something to it all. I told the woman I had a thing for balance and geometric shapes and bold colors but never in an overwhelming way. The shapes and colors are always offset by neutral tones or set against some kind of quiet background. And now that I think of that, I think a little of my marriage and how we balance each other in that same way. We each have boldness to our style in different ways but for every bold trait I have, Mr. T's is the understated opposite and vice versa. There is probably some personality epiphany I should be having here but it's eluding me at the moment because my bladder is calling.

Later gators!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I tried to post a holiday message on time but darn it, it wasn't happening. Christmas Eve was my chance to do not one darn thing. Christmas Day is always hectic from beginning to end.

Since our living room and kitchen are on the same level as the bedrooms, I had to cover the door with a sheet and write a threatening message to the kids. Something to effect of "Stay Out! This Means You!"



They didn't go to sleep until about 11 so Mr. T and I had to wait another hour to get the stuff set up. But we did it and here is the before picture Christmas morning:



Yes, it's a tiny tree. We've had it since Son was born. I think we'll get a big one next year. No, the Dora kitchen wasn't a Christmas gift. It was a birthday gift that hangs out in the living room because furniture does not currently reside there so the kids do what they want there.

Christmas Day, for more years then I can remember now, has consisted of going to one sister-in-law's house for breakfast for a few hours, talking to family and, since kids came into the picture, watching them open the gifts their aunt and uncle got them.

Then we head over to Nana's where dinner is waiting and either eat or make plates to take home. Then the kids open more gifts from Nana and the other aunt and whomever else was giving enough to buy for them that year.

Usually this means getting home after dark, even though that only means it has to be about 4:30 or so. But this year we made it home while it was still light out. Even with the countless gifts from the family, there is apparently nothing like opening whatever you have under your own tree. So the kiddies tore into it and here are the after pictures:



The living room, which is not as bad as it could have been because this isn't all the paper. I have to clean as they go, you know.



And here's some spillage into the kitchen.

"This was a perfect, Christmas," says Son. He got his DS Lite with about 4 games PLUS a Wii (for the family) AND Pokemon cards, among the rest of his humongous haul, and that's all he ever wanted. He actually hugged Mr. T. He hasn't been that grateful since he was too young to care what he got.

It went by too fast but as usual, it was just great to sit around doing nothing, laughing with family members who are just insane and watching the joy the kids get out of their new stuff.

Hope you had the same joy.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Big Squeeze

One hour until The Appointment. Been too busy this week to be nervous about it, but I have an event to vend for tonight so I moved it up an hour. Told Mr. T. this morning I had to go. "Uh oh," was his response. Even men know to squirm. If I can breathe later, I'll be happy to share most of the blessed event!

************************************************************************************

THE VISIT:
If you've NEVER had a mammogram, allow me to share!

So I got there a little late because I left work a little late. The woman at the desk kept apologizing for her fumbling but she was fine to me. I sat down in the waiting room to fill out a sheet asking who in my family has had breast cancer if anyone. After all these years, I still need my mother to remind me of the kind of illness that claimed her mother and if it was just benign lumps my aunt experienced a long time ago. I called her right quick but she was not home.

There is no mention of the males in my family but men get breast cancer too so I wonder why they don't ask about that. Does that not count for female relatives?

Anyway, I sit and I wait, so glad I was able to move up my appointment so I wouldn't be too late for the vending I had to do that night.

It doesn't take long for Nurse 1 to call me. (For the sake of writing, I'm calling her a nurse but I doubt that's what she is.) She calls a waiting man as well and shows him to this upright coffin - I mean, tiny changing room and then leads me around the corner and down the hall to a small area where I can have a coffin of my own. I took a couple of pictures inside my little room. If I had stood outside of it, I could have gotten the whole thing in one frame.

A plastic-wrapped gown greets me atop a brown padded bench. There is one hook on the wall and practically no room to maneuver. She sweetly tells me to lose the top half of my clothes (not in those words, of course) and put on the gown, then closes the accordion door to await....what? She didn't say. I can only assume someone will come claim me one day. So I wait. And wait. And wait a little more. I look around outside the room where I see signs thanking me for turning off my cell phone. Oops.

Before long, here comes Nurse 2. She looks at me and and ponders the snaps on the shoulder of my gown.

"Is that the gown they gave you. Ohhhh, snaps. I don't know." She thinks. She decides it's OK. Off we go.

"We're going to do the mammogram first," she tells me.

"OK." I point to my things. "Should I leave my stuff here," I ask. I'd like to think they aren't THAT lackadaisical about security.

"Oh, you can bring your pocket ook if you want."

She takes me around the corner to a room that reminds me of the eye doctor's office. Cozy, dim light and ohhhh, yes. There it is. If you haven't seen this contraption yet, I obviously could not take a picture of it but I Googled it and this is what it is:



Not as ominous as I thought but one would expect a person to process film in that thing not press people.

"OK," I tell her. "I need you to know that I have eczema and I have since I was 21. I am 37. I've been using steroids all these years and my skin no longer has the elasticity it once did."

"Well, I'm glad you told me but I'm gentle. At least I've been told I am. Still, it's good you told me so I'll be gentle. Don't worry!"

I can't really describe the woman-handling because it's just too weird. I felt like taffy, I can tell you that. One of the good things about having children is you lose your inhibitions and all the touching these people do just never tops the exposure you feel the day you have that child. So I deal with it. She "arranges me" for the first shot and that plastic piece came down and I'm praying it knows when to stop. It does!

"Hold your breath," Nurse 2 says. Not bad.

"Hey," I tell Nurse 2. "This isn't so horrible! I'll be back!"

She laughs. "Not so fast," she warns me. "We're not done yet."

She switches me up. More arranging and taffy pulling. I roll my eyes at the whole thing.

"Hold your breath," she says.

The first 2 pictures were cake. The next 4? Ah well, that's where the fabled pain comes in. Truly, it's just serious discomfort, lots of twisting, turning, odd angles, - I wish I were exaggerating - me hugging the stupid machine more than I hug my own husband. NOW I see - and feel.

"Oh, OK," I tell Nurse 2. "THIS is not fun. But, I can tolerate it and that's good."

"Good! Hold your breath." Zap. Zap. Zap.

The party is over. I still needed to get my X-rays of my abdomen for my doc to make sure I don't have bone growing where it shouldn't, but the worst is done and now I don't have to go back until I am 40, unless they find something. I can't imagine they will but I suppose you never know.

All I know is I survived The Mangler with only a little residual soreness the next day. So minor I only realize it when I think about it. And I bruise VERY easily but I have no black, blue or purple marks. I guess Nurse 2 was gentle after all.

So if you're new to all this like I was and if you have a low threshold for pain, like I do, and, if you have any skin issues at all, I am here to tell you that it is possible to get through this with your breasts, if not your dignity, intact.

I am happy to have finally added one more preventive medical necessity to my repertoire that is going to keep me healthy and happy and hopefully living a long time. (I am VERY good about seeing all my docs, I am proud to say.)

But if you think I am going back there BEFORE I am 40, well, don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Secret Santa Strikes!

It's Secret Santa time at work. Has been all month. I would have written on it sooner but I could not risk anyone reading and finding out who I have. You see, I have told NO ONE because I think it's fun that way, and I have been listening to all the chatter surrounding the various gifts people have been discovering in their cubes and offices.

For a while I thought I had a guy SS because he/she had not made his/her presence known for a while. But one early morning I arrived at work about 7:40 a.m. (schools were closed due to snow. I can leave my house in one hour when that happens. Whoopee!) and discovered this on my portable drawer thingie:



(The leaves were a little more alive then but I never professed to having a green thumb. Or a red one either.) It had Christmas lights on it and a note to turn on the switch. OK. I was at work until well after 6 the night before and got in 2nd only after the Big Boss the next day, so when did this person strike? Crafty, SS. Very crafty.

Now yesterday, I came in to find this little hand-made treat sitting on my desk. At that time it was devoid of ornaments and presents. I sat it on the wall so everyone could see it. This morning I came in to find it back on my desk with ornaments and presents! SS is crafty indeed!



Today is the lunch and the big reveal. I don't know how we'll all get through the next 2 days with no more Secret Santa. It's going to be like staring at an empty Christmas tree. But for now, the giddy anticipation is giving everyone the shakes, sending us all back to childhood, no doubt. The holiday music WAS blaring from one of the TVs but it was turned down so we could, you know, work!

So back to it. I'll tell you the results later.

UPDATE: So what did I get? This:



and a whole lotta confusion. See I was handed the gift to open but the MC for the lunch said not to reveal our Secret Santas until the very end. He said this while I was in the midst of asking who mine was. (ALERT: REAL NAMES ABOUT TO BE USED! GASP!) Well one guy, Chris, was way to obliging about not telling so I said, "It's YOU! Thanks Chris!" He neither confirmed nor denied. By the end of the present-handing-outs, I was given a second, plainly-wrapped box that bore no resemblance to the nicely wrapped gift I received before. Chris said to open it. I was perplexed. Befuddled. Confused. "Everyone thought I had you so I got you this."

Huh?

So I opened it and it was a gift for his REAL recipient which was NOT me. I was meant to pass it on. OK. What's the deal? Turns out it was Mark who had Chris make the Christmas tree for me because he can do origami. But he arranged the flower and candies himself. Ohhhh! So the gift is from Mark. Thanks, Mark!

We use these at my house so it's perfect but Mark doesn't know how much because I've been thinking about where this should live - at work or at home. I'll tell him pretty soon. There is a lamp I saw at a gallery last week at a holiday party and this gift reminded me of that. I LOVED that funky lamp with it's square shape and colored glass. I can't get it out of my mind. Much like that banana art print in Barbados that I let get away. So I emailed the woman from the gallery who I was talking to and we'll see if I can find that baby. It was at the gallery to be artistic but it wasn't for sale. Hopefully, the artist makes them for sale. What a coup that would be. I think that lamp needs to live with me.

I'll tell you more about where this conversation led me in another post. For now, I'm signing off and wishing you all happy holidays! (In case I don't get back here soon.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Christmas List

Just a quick break from work to add an equally quick message to update my semi-neglected blog.



Life is going on and December is as sweet (and cold) as always.

1 - Today I celebrate the completion of my 37th year of life. (The flowers are from my Teddy Bear.) Ever since, years and years ago, I learned that the Chinese start counting from the day of birth, I've had it stuck in my head that each birthday is a completion as well as a beginning so I also see this day as the start of my 38th year. I think the Chinese would say that I am 38. Too strange to say because I still feel 18, 21 or whatever. I'm just happy to feel good because I know what feeling really, really bad is like. I like the good.

2 - My puzzles have FINALLY come in from my manufacturer as of this past Monday and the fundraiser is complete. Hallelujah! We have learned our lesson about what NOT to do next time and I just want to focus on next year but we have 2 more events to go and hopefully we'll make some sales. We did pretty good at the 2 other events we had this month. There is a ton of planning to do for next year and much, MUCH organization to do on both my partner's and my part. Ah but the potential. So much to do and so much to gain. With both she and I talking about needing extra money but having no extra time at all, there is equal incentive on both our parts to MAKE THIS WORK.

3 - I went to see my financial adviser this past Saturday. She is the best investment ever and I highly recommend getting one if you care about your money even the slightest bit but really don't care to stay in the financial market loop and make all the necessary moves on your own. I always leave there knowing I am falling way short of what I need to be where I really want to be but it's not depressing. At least I know what is happening and what the ideal is and - in the words of the Superfriends - knowing is half the battle! (NOTE: MY BROTHER CORRECTED ME. APPARENTLY IT WAS G.I. JOE WHO CLOSED HIS SHOW WITH THIS MEMORABLE SAYING. EITHER WAY, WE CLEARLY WATCHED TOO MUCH T.V. GROWING UP.)

4 - There is one week before Christmas and I think I won't buy one more thing for one more person right now. I Christmas shop with cash and that does not spring eternal so before I see red in my bank account, I must stop. I still want to get something for my co-workers, however, because I adore them but I want to give it some thought too so they will get to celebrate Christmas all over again in January. I am hoping to be really good next year and either start Christmas shopping in January, buying one or two gifts per month for one person or put aside a small amount until I see something I like for someone. I do so love to watch people opening gifts and when you manage to get something really fitting and/or unique, it's the star on the Christmas tree. So glad I was born in such a fun and giving month.

Back to work.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Business Lessons 101

One of the risks you run into when you are a small business working with other businesses of any size is not getting things done as a result of someone else. The smaller the other company, the greater the likelihood that unexpected issues will arise. This is why we no longer seek to work with one-man (or woman) operations. We are in the midst of an unexpected issue right now with our puzzle manufacturer and it is frustrating enough to make us take a hard look at exactly how much we can do ourselves and how much (or when) we delegate to others.

Doing it ourselves would be not only time-consuming but the machine is costly and then who would run it? Maybe my retired parents would like to help out. It's a possible plan but too expensive for now. So I am thinking about what we CAN afford to control and we are taking a little more of the process into our own hands.

We have a 3-year, maybe a little older, relationship with our current manufacturer. We ADORE them. We love the owners and have highly recommended the company to other people wr know who need their services. They have been beyond patient with our questions and ideas. They have been excited by what we do and have been creative in their solutions to our problems. They have been, until now, faster then we expected, delivering earlier than we anticipated. Their professionalism has helped give us a good and growing reputation.

This is the year we did our first fund-raiser, small as it was. This is the year we got into a store. This is the year we did and are doing more vending than ever before. This is the year they disappointed us and, indirectly, our potential customers.

The product - the materials for which were long ago given to them - is STILL not in our hands for delivery to the people who ordered them and we are about ready to refund their money. Some have been gracious about the situation and want to give to the kids anyway. Others are confused about what's happening and we can only say, "Please hold on a little longer." What we cannot say is, "It's not our fault. Our manufacturer is coming up short and while we built in some time, we didn't anticipate the amount of time needed to this extent." Our reputation, though nurtured by our manufacturer, is our own and we cannot pull back the curtain to expose anyone else.

The tough call is what to do about what's happening now. Again, we cannot heap enough praise on the company's past performance and attention to our needs and wants. In addition, there was a medical crisis in the owner's family and we know that has impacted this situation because I believe we are considered his client. My partner and I are believers in doing right by people, forget what the world says we should do. But we can't put our name at risk anymore. So we remain frustrated but patient. I will line up a 2nd and a 3rd manufacturing option and we have decided that we will do our best to cut off the printing we need at a certain time in the year in order to keep things flowing on time.

So what do we take away from this? When you are in business for yourself, you must delegate sometimes in order to get the job done but make sure the person/people you delegate to are as conscientious as you are. If someone fails you, consider their value to you and look at their record of performance before writing them off. People/companies make mistakes and have things happen. Loyalty is a valuable asset for both parties. Blanket decisions won't work. This has to be looked at on an individual basis. But then after looking at all the facts sans emotional attachment, for the sake of your company's health, you can't be afraid to walk away.

We push on because 2008 has a huge amount of potential for us and I'm not about to let this little setback stop us. As a matter of fact, the storm gets roughest right before it ends, right? We are about to enter our season of harvest. We must keep sowing.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

One Brave Step


It only took me 1 year, 3 months, 1 week and 6 days but I finally did it. I've had the prescription sitting on my desk since I went to see my doctor a couple of weeks ago. It's been daring me to do it. So I finally did. I scheduled the dreaded mammogram/x-rays for Dec. 20th. It's my 37th birthday gift to myself - not. They had an opening on my birthday but that would be masochistic.

This should be torture - I mean interesting!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

We're Live!

My husband thought I had fallen off the face of the earth but my partner and I could not start working on our labels and such until after church was over. It is her job after all.

I got some displays we needed, she printed labels, her cousin helped and it took much longer than we thought it would but with a little less than an hour until the store closed, we ran out of the church and off to set up our product.

It's beautiful. This is our whole section top to bottom. The wall with the window is right next to those black shelves next to ours.




And this is us a little closer up and clearer.



Our new holiday cards should be ready this week. We'll go back in and replace all the more generic cards with those, add our updated business cards (which are currently being held hostage by UPS) and add a table underneath to put our business information - thus freeing up a shelf - and we're set until close to Kwanzaa when we'll go back in and swap out for those. Hopefully we'll sell out of the holiday cards before that happens but as long as we sell a certain amount to make the tiniest of profit, we're happy and can work to improve sales.

This gives us a chance to do some things we needed to be in a store to do like test a new product, change our packaging, etc. I can't exude in writing the excitement I feel right now because frankly I'm too busy thinking about what our gameplan will be next year.

This golden opportunity is just so perfect and today God confirmed it in His message through our pastor. I've said it before to countless people and I'll say it again here, in case someone didn't know this already. Seven is the number of completion. So for us, 2007 ends 10 years of working toward where we are right now. The number 8 means new beginnings. What was the sermon about today? You guessed it. New beginnings and being open to God birthing in you whatever it is He has for your life.

We expected 2008 to be a year of new beginnings for us and by faith, it started December 1st.

To my partner: We made it to the top of the mountain. Before we set out for that promised land, let's enjoy the view for a moment, shall we?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What's in Store for Village Works?

I can't tell you what's in store for us right now. It remains to be seen. But I can tell you that as of tonight, we are in a store. And it's the right store in the right location. The owners are two women partners who know what they are doing because they each own successful stores separately and have gone into this place together. My partner and I are taking an unexpected leap of faith.

This is the kind of place where a variety of vendors rent space to put their product in the store and I had heard of the concept before but I was skeptical. Where was the place? Who was going to watch our puzzles? What's their cut supposed to be? How are they going to sell it since it's not their product? Is this consignment because we hate consignment.

We visited the place and liked the answers to our questions. The place is cohesive, organized and fun to walk around in. It's a high traffic area that borders 3 towns that span the range of economic classes. These women are going that extra mile to treat our stuff like it's their own. We feel like we found the home we were looking for.

We are excited but the work is tremendous right now because we weren't looking for this yet. So now that I've shared this with you, I have inventory to count, price labels I must design and an informational sign to work on with my mother who is sick right now but sacrificing rest so we can have what we need. (Both our families have been above and beyond encouraging and supportive. I can't wait until we can start paying them back.)

So, we have to go to the store tomorrow after church and stock our shelves!

Oh, and did I tell you our space (which is floor to ceiling) is right next to a front picture window?

Oh yes! It's an exciting way to end a year.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Coming Up on the Finish Line


Well, I am 827 words away. It is 10:19 at night, the last night and my fingers are tired because I started today 5,000 words away from finishing. I had hoped to only have to do 2,000 or so words by tonight but I had a vending event to work last night at Son's school and I came home too tired to see straight. So I waited.

I thought maybe at work I'd get a chance to do a thousand or so words at lunch. But I had to go on a mommy mission and pick up Daughter's coveted Dora Vanity today while I had the money. So nothing.

Then I left work thirty minutes early to go check out a new store where we might be able to sell our puzzles but traffic, a major accident and generally not being as familiar with the area in the dark as I am in the light, got me there 5 minutes after closing and I was still not able to write. But I called the woman who was still in the store and she let me in. It felt good. It felt right. My partner needs to go check it out with me and if she agrees, we may plan on trying to get in there about 6 months from now when the first set of contracted vendor agreements expire. If anyone leaves, that is. I suspect between now and then someone will decide they can't do it anymore or they will screw up the rental agreement and we'll get our shot. There is no waiting list right now so we'd be first on the list. Plus the woman was receptive to what I had to say about our product. It's just the sort of thing she looks for as gifts, she said. Plus she and her partner own two other stores so they are pros and partners - just like us. Perfect. We'll see.

But now, 827 words away, why do I take the time to write here instead of there? Simple. I am savoring the moment.

It felt impossible just a few days ago. If you look at my little widget in my sidebar, you can see I had way more red days than green ones. There was Thanksgiving, cub scout meetings and trips, a fundraiser wrapup and product printing, vending at Son's school, finishing a lesson for my children's writing course, business group meetings, and doctor visits amid the usual work frenzy, homework checking, bedtime stories, dish washing, clothes washing, and the like. I know I did it last year but I just didn't see myself pulling it off this year - yet I was determined until the end.

So now I have an hour and a half to go. Like the dropping of the Time's Square ball, I am counting every word and let me tell you, this is an even bigger deal because I am finishing this at home. For whatever reason I and my other nearby Nano Buddy have yet to figure out, my Word program at work gives me approximately 150 more words when I do a word count there than if I do it at home. So 50,000 words here is 50,150 there. But it's better to err on the side of caution than to upload at 11:50 and find out I am 150 words short. There would be a lot of very-ing and and-ing going on if that happened!

But let me not tempt fate and try to upload near midnight only to find the entire world is uploading and have the website crash or something horrible like that and then I would be counted out. Heaven forbid!

When this is done, sweet reward shall be chocolate covered cherries and watching one of the many shows I missed this week; probably "Heroes".

Back to the grind!
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It is 11:10 p.m.



Good night.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Are You In?

Know what I did last night? Instead of writing my ninny novel that is 9,000 words away from done? Until 2 in the morning even though I was already tired after taking Son and Daughter to Son’s cub scout pack meeting – read, TONS o’kids instead of the usual dozen? I went Link crazy.

I’ll explain.

I got the kids settled, Son read his book, they went to bed, I washed dishes and accepted the fact that I would be missing Nip/Tuck for the night because I was too busy. It was already about 10:30 and I had eaten spareribs Mr. T had cooked between shouts at Daughter to go to bed for the 5th time. Nevertheless, I sat down for a moment to chill and look at this lovely catalog that had arrived in the mail. It was just my style, not cheap and full of unique looking stuff. I was intrigued and found some great gift ideas for a friend who is a new mom and one who is having her housewarming next month. And while I was at it, I found another possible gift idea for my nephew-in-law and his wife’s upcoming housewarming that I think is in January. I saw the company, which I had never heard of before, had a website so I checked it out.

“Ooooo! Wishlists! They have wishlists!”

So I saved the stuff I liked for me and I saved the potential gift ideas.

“Hmm, wishlists? Oh yeah! Amazon!”

Off I went because I haven’t updated that one in forever and I had some new books I wanted to keep track of. And I may as well throw in that Palm I still need. And how about some music? May as well get that list going too. And movies? Yep, add them on. And gee, Brain Age! I really have to get that one day. Toss that on the list too because I think this year I’m emailing it to Mr. T, just in case his siblings say, “Hey little brother, what should we get your wife this year?” Mom-in-law gives money so hopefully she’ll never ask him that question because I don’t take Discover or Visa or American Express but cash gets me everywhere I want to be.

Now that little wishlist update somehow, in my twisted mind, made me remember my business meeting from the night before and my internal struggle with networking. So vital yet so hard when you can’t go to 7:30 a.m. meetings. Not now, not ever. At least not until the kids are practically grown. But one way I can network in my own time is via LinkedIn.com.

You know it? If you are dealing with people in any way and if you really want to get ahead somehow in whatever you are doing, this is one way to help you do that. I joined before I took the job I have but I didn’t really work on growing it until I got into my new position and one of the people who was leaving did a mass email to many of us asking us to join his network. It’s been on my mind ever since to keep up with that.

Last night I had LinkedIn scan all my email addresses for people already in their system. Got about 10 new folk that way, some of whom still need to accept. Then I trolled one of my business groups that has over 300 members. I couldn’t send an invite to all of them because I don’t have everyone’s full name but of the ones I sent, I am still waiting on about 80 of them to reply somehow. A few already did. Sweet.

Then I went back in the contacts list to see who was on from my college days. And that’s where it got interesting. I didn’t know too many of those folk. One was a friend I still keep up with but we hadn’t Linked so we’ve done that now. One sounded soooo familiar that I emailed her to see if she’d write back and maybe we’ll Link. We’ll see. Then there was Mr. Popularity. A BMOC if ever there was one. He graduated two years before me and he was the president of the Kappas (Kappa Alpha Psi, for those who don’t know). He has an unforgettable name so of course I recognized it. I flashed back to my best friend at the time. She ADORED him. I can hear her drawing out his name now in the high-pitched squeal she had when she laughed. But we had to be seen as kids to him. At least I know she must have been seen that way because she always had a little girl way about her. (I told you, she is a former friend. Gets tiring after a while.)

So now he’s a lawyer in my town of birth, Washington, D.C. Surely he must be a BMOC there too I bet. I check his profile. THREE connections? Really? I’m kind of surprised. I mean in our small school, everybody knew his name. But maybe he really doesn’t care about networking in this manner, that’s all. Still, it struck me strange. I had to think. He doesn’t know me from Eve but after all these years, his thinking has to have matured right? Networking is networking right? It was amazing how I instantly flew back to not fitting in with his crowd. Not that I wanted to because they were not my type of people and I have NEVER fit in with the in-crowd in my life so why start then? But it kept me wondering. Contact him? Don’t contact him? No messages, per se, just an invite to Link and maybe a brief note so he’d realize we indeed have a connection even if he was oblivious to my existence back then? I looked at his name and kept thinking and just said do it. We weren’t friends then and I doubt we’d do anything for each other now anyway but you never know. Got for it. I did.

Now you think the story ends there don’t you? Nope.

I scanned more names. Remember how I told you my friend was nuts for this guy? Well I had one of those crushes myself so we had a good time baiting each other about our respective loves-of-our-lives-who-don’t know-we are-alive. And watching them. And stalking them, But only a little. (I was 17 and a freshman. Cut me some slack, eh?) Embarrassing, but true. But Maurice – yep his real name - wasn’t a Kappa. He was a laid-back Alpha (Alpha Phi Alpha. A Phi A. Ice ice baby.) He was quiet. He was smart because he was an accounting major and if you can work numbers, I applauded you then and still do. He stopped my heart every time I saw him but I was not the bold type. Got more bold as I got older but not then. I won’t tell you all the stuff I did with my friend in tow. It’s simply more than I care to tell. But we had fun doing it and it helped me break out of my semi-shyness to boot.

I don’t need to say more. You guessed it. He was there in all his glory. I always loved his last name because it was his and I had my days when I imagine it could be mine. Of course I recognized it instantly.

I checked out his profile. Nada. No connections at all. Kind of sad, actually. Made me want to pity link. He’s got no real info about him except where he works but that was interesting because he is in the same state we went to college in all those years ago. He doesn’t give his work history so I don’t know if he ever left or never left. He’s a CFO now. Good for him. I’m sure he must have a family because I wasn’t the only one who watched him and I knew I wouldn’t be the last. I remember the little Greek girl who came into the picture a year or so into our college days. And that’s what I and my friends called her – the little Greek girl – because she just didn’t fit the picture of who should be with Maurice in my mind and I had no respect for her simply because she existed. (I told you I was a teen-ager.) My friend and I watched her too. She was way to giggly for my taste. I don’t know how he tolerated it. Men.

So I check his contacts and he has it set not to receive InMail but I could invite him to Link if I wanted to. He has no connections right now for goodness sake. He’s crying out to be Linked! But do I dare? Do I tell him I inadvertently found him again and risk having him think I tracked him down all these years because clearly I have been waiting for my chance to cyberstalk him and pretending to be in hiding so he’d never suspect? I pondered. I left. I came back. I pondered some more. It was 2 in the morning. Time to call it a night.

Hooking up with friends and acquaintances of the past is cool and if Mr. Popular wants to Link, that would be fine too. But Maurice is on a glass-enclosed shelf all by himself and I’d rather leave him there in all that fantasized perfection. To re-connect at this stage in life and risk ruining my memories all for the sake of one more link in the networking chain is just not a chance I care to take. It’s nice to know I can go “visit” any time I like but there is no place like home.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Let the Season Begin

Too busy to post Happy Thanksgiving posts. I'm terrible. But I hope you had a happy one! I chilled. I wrote. I ate. I chilled some more. I read. I wrote. I chilled lots more. I love doing nothing - when I want to do nothing.

Too busy to post this note. With 7 days and 15,000 words to go until the end of NaNoWriMo, the only thing I should be doing is writing my novel. Instead?

It's Sunday, we went to church and my friend's daughter got baptized today. She's 8. Son thought it was how she joined the church and had lots of questions but he still doesn't get it so I told him he can't do it until he does.

We had to also do the big see-you-later to our friends - the youngest sister of the same friend above - who have now fully moved to North Carolina with her family now that their house here has sold. They take with them the only boy in the world Son will be able to say has been a friend since birth, since his friend was born 6 weeks before he was. He mentioned all the other friends he has at school. I tried to explain to him the significance of a friend who's been in your life so long that you can't remember meeting - I only have one of those myself - but I know he won't get that either, probably much later in life. Lots of tears.

I had lots of the usual housework to do when I got home and now everyone has to get back to routine now that Thanksgiving is over but our minds are also on holiday things and with Mr. T. going to get Son the DS he wanted (don't worry. Son doesn't read this.), the official start to Christmas has begun. We may even get a live tree this year. If Mr. T. will vacuum and pick up the prickly little torturers that bury themselves in carpet, then I will agree to it.

But I can't sing the carols too soon. I have 15,000 words to find and get down on electronic paper. My challenge is to find those words this week amid not one, but two cub scout meetings, a business meeting, a vending event at Son's school and wrapping up the fundraiser we did because hopefully our product will be in our hands this week. It's going to be a photo finish. And it is only now, at 10 p.m., that I can even begin to write something for today because Mr. T. has been tying up my computer ALL DAY - I do mean ALL DAY - downloading TV shows and music for his precious iPhone. Did I say it was ALL DAY? Yeah, it was. Plus I had to stop all my obessesive cleaning that was helping me to forget that I wasn't writing to help him figure out why some of his stuff wasn't downloading. Any iTunes experts out there? Got an error 34; something about a full disk and I can only presume it means my hard drive since he wasn't burning at the time.

Anyway. I had hoped to crank out 5,000 words today so I could start Monday at 40,000 words. Ain't gonna happen. Gotta settle for half that if I can do it.

OK. I gave you 20 minutes. Gotta go.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Books I've Read in 2007

OK, so a friend of mine from one of my writing groups was chatting with us lately saying she keep a running list of books she has read on her blog. (Aside: If you are a writer, I highly recommend joining a critique group. I've been with my group for a couple of years now and I adore them. They are not only a smart, diverse group, they are published and inspirational.) What a great idea, I told her. A perfect way to track my own growth, if you will. So, while I am not going to wrack my brain trying to recall every book from the beginning of the year, I'll just start with now and back track to through summer. This is more for my own record than anything else but you never know. You may see something interesting and want to ask about it, or maybe you read it and wanna chat! Cool! SInce I write for kds and adults, some of the books on my list are kids books I've read as my group and I studied the latest popular works.

So far I have read (or am reading) the following. As you can see, I'm currently nurturing a new Kinsella habit - despite those awful "erms" she uses:

1. Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella (book 3 in the series)
2. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella
3. Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella
4. Mr. Sebastian and The Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace
5. Guide to Organizing Your Life by Donald Wetmore
6. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (kids' book)
7. Ida B. and Her Plans to maximize Fun, Avoid Disaster, and (Possibly) Save The World by Katherine Hannigan (kids' book)
8. Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (book 1 in the series)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Taste of Domesticity

Someone please tell me why, once it gets here, the holiday season has to move so quickly! How on earth can it be Thanksgiving already THIS week? And I certainly don't have enough paychecks left between now and Christmas. It would be great if I could spend a whole check on Christmas. Hmmm.

Don't get me wrong. I look forward to the break. I look forward to not driving in traffic for two days. I look forward to three "Friday nights" in a row. What's a "Friday night" you ask? A Friday night is when I don't have to do a darn thing the next day and I can go to bed as late as I please because I won't be hopping up the next day. Fridays are usually the only time I get a night like that.

Some Friday nights I know I have to get up early the next day for a hair appointment. Good to get my hair done. Not good to have to do something every single day. Saturday nights usually mean church the next day or, now, Son's cub scout pack may have a trip planned. Saturday nights just aren't really that relaxing these days. Sunday afternoons are good if I don't have to do anything. Like right now. I've got a moment so I tried to call a friend who had her first child back in June. She and her husband are living with her aunt right now. Boy do I know what's that like. But she's not home. So I should be trying one of three other long distance friends but first I thought I'd catch you guys up and then - write. Because that's what November has been the past two years. A time of non-stop writing. The closer we get to the end of the month, the more I should have written, but nope! Been busy. Doing what? Well, take a look at this:



Know what that is? That, my friends, is the very first time I ever made macaroni and cheese from scratch. After nearly 37 years of living, it is only now that I felt compelled to do it. I can't tell you why. I hate to cook, for the most part, but I do get these itches and twitches every now and again. Something domestic possesses me from time to time. So I've been cooking for over a week now for the heck of it. It's a long time. Trust me.

Daughter and I went to the hairdresser on Saturday. They were having a Thanksgiving dinner that day so my hairdresser, who is also my friend, tells me, "You'd better go get something to eat! Eat, girl, eat! That's less you'll have to buy later!" After a good four hours in there and after sending Daughter home two hours prior because she was done and I was barely started, I said, why not. And what was there? Mac and cheese, of course! A co-worker recently helped me figure out a poll to put on our job website. It was about the tempting foods of Thanksgiving. I told her I figured the list could go on and on. She sent me back some of the more tempting carbs and I replied that macaroni and cheese is as tempting as they come.

"That's NOT a traditional Thanksgiving food!" she IM'd me.

"It is if you're black!" I IM'd her back. She's not. So she laughed. She had mentioned something about pilgrims to which I responded increduosly, "You are talking to the BLACK girl about pilgrims?!" Don't think the incongruity of the two had crossed her mind before then.

Yep, most black folk (and Southerners of all races) have this filling favorite on most of their holiday tables. So maybe there was just something about this time of the year that made me feel like making it. After all, I don't want to have to wait for a special ocassion to go to someone else's home to have something I love so much.

Time to make it for myself. So I wracked my brain trying to recall what I saw over the years as various family members made it. You would think I would have asked the older women where I get my hair done how they make it because I was guaranteed to get a ton of answers. But I didn't feel like listening to the shock and dismay.
"You've NEVER made it from scratch?!"
"How did THAT happen?!"
"Your mama or grandmama didn't teach you?" (For the record, my mother offered when I was a kid back in Philly but I wasn't interested then either.)
"Why, in my day..." I think you can finish that one for yourselves.
Many women of all ages are still surprised that others of us ain't into the kitchen scene. I'm not the career-type, necessarily, thinking cooking is for SAHMs. It's just not me. Unless I'm in the mood.

So I keep thinking about what makes sense and I even checked out the back of the macaroni boxes to see if they had a recipe - of course they did - and to see if it rang any bells. Checking out 3 different brands yielded me pretty much the same recipe with dry mustard and flour as two of the ingredients. But that felt wrong. So I called my mother who said exactly what I was expecting to hear - milk and an egg, among the usual macaroni and various cheeses.

I get what I need and I go home to see what happens. An hour after I put it into the oven, that dish came out smelling up the house and even though I didn't tell anyone I was making it, they came asking because it's one of those unmistakeable odors. Kind of like Doritos, you know it when you smell it.

It was OK. It smelled fantastic, that's for certain. It LOOKED perfect. But it was a little bland for my taste so I'll figure out what's missing - it may be as simple as not enough salt since it tasted more flavorful after I added salt - and I'll try it again eventually.

My need to heat things up in the kitchen hasn't quite dissipated yet. Maybe I'll venture next into forbidden territory - German Chocolate Cake!

But first, I have to write. I'm still woefully behind and there are people who actually think I'll make the 50,000 words anyway! Oh the pressure! That's a good thing, K8. ;-)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

So Far and Yet So Near

Look how behind I am!


(The counter keep up with me so at the time I posted this, I was at 10,007 words. Before the night was over, I was at 11,032. Only 38,968 words to go!)

With only 18 days left, I have got to get my words in gear. By the end of the night, I should be in the green again. But at least I finally cracked 10,000. Just 40,000 to go!

It's been a challenge, that's for sure. If Son isn't on the computer playing Club Penguin, Mr. T is there downloading some goodie for his iPhone. I can't seem to get on my own computer when I am awake! So I read at home, waiting for my turn, and I write during my lunchbreak at work. A few times I have been awakened early in the morn by the inability to breathe and I've done some writing then. But it's not enough. I should be at over 21,000 by now. I'm still determined to get there and claim my worthless paper prize.

Of course the weekends aren't giving me much wiggle room either. The first weekend in the month was getting Daughter's hair done and taking updated birthday/kid pictures. Oh! I didn't show you one of those, did I? Aren't they gorgeous?



The second weekend was a workshop and birthday party one day, a trip to the Pequot Musuem the next day with the rambunctious Cubs and somewhere in between, we had to make room for Son to see his friend who just moved to North Carolina and was up for the weekend as his parents packed up their house that just sold. This Saturday coming is a hair appointment for both Daughter and I but then I should be clear to do a little writing - in between finishing a writing assignment for my children's writing course and trying to make the house a little homier. Something about the fall does that to me. I've even been cooking. It's just weird but it tends to keep me busy.

I need a laptop. That's the only real solution. So I can write in the car while waiting for Son. I can write at the hairdresser while waiting for Daughter or getting mine own done. I could be writing from the comfort of my bed. How sweet that would be. A few words here and there. It would be so easy! My old computer can't hack it anymore so we're down to one and clearly that is not enough for a family of four. Daughter will want her crack soon enough and then we'll have to set a schedule.

So a laptop goes on my To-Buy List right after furniture for every room in the house and a new external hard drive/memory for the PC I already have and need for my business. Oh and that needs my money too.

Let's not talk money too much. I was relieved to find out the $649 flood insurance bill that I thought we were going to have to pay in this holiday time was actually escrowed into my mortgage - as I thought it should have been - so that brought 6 days of agita that hindered my writing too. That doesn't relieve the debt that's coming because my poor car needs to go into the shop about 4 times to get everything done that needs to be done. But at least it's a little more I can hold onto for that expense.

No real rest for the weary. Thanksgiving is around the corner and at least I'll get some time then AND quiet since I no longer live in the family house that gets invaded every major holiday. I can't give up yet. I write for the sake of writing and maybe I'll end up with something worth pursuing. Maybe not, since I still don't feel drawn to novel-length stories. But this stuff does wonders for my creativity and sense of accomplishment and I really do love that about it. It's just another 40,000 words. I could say that much yelling at the kids for some ridiculous, childish infraction.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 09, 2007

And We're Back

It's all about the writing, baby. Got the widget in it's proper place over there on the side, plus now you can all see how horribly I am doing thus far. I should be at about 11, 000 words by now - that's why it's in the red everyday. (Reminds me of my bank account.) Oh well! I'm currently working on a new children's story, a writing assignment for my children's writing course, an article on musculoskeletal issues for my job and, oh yes, there is NaNo. So, methinks I can cut myself some slack. With a new goal of 2,100 words a day, this is still doable. But first I have to get through a weekend of Son's friend visiting from NC, a birthday party for one of Son's classmate's, a trip to a far away museum with Son's cub scout pack, and a business workshop.

Who needs sleep? Or brain cells?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Just For The Weirdness of It

This is from my boss who comes across the oddest things. I'll blog a real post later. If you understand German, let me know what the heck is going on, would ya?

Enjoy!

Hema

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Father's Love

God did something for me today. He met a physical need that truly only He knew the depth of. I can't tell you what it was - too personal - and if you had witnessed it, it would have seemed like a small gesture. But it wasn't and it never is when God takes the time to physically stand in front of you and say, "I hear you. I see you. I know what you need. I know what you want. I love you and I am always taking care of you." At least that's what I heard. My Angel only said, "When God tells me to do something, I listen." I had to walk awy before I cried, not that she wouldn't have understood it. I just needed a moment to process the fact the God just validated the need. So many times we think we put ourselves into certain situations because of what we do or don't do. It seems unavoidable, maybe even deserved, however - and I don't know about you - I am harshest on myself and I keep thinking I could have done something differently. I should have. But fixing it, isn't always as easy as you tell yourself it can be. You're just struggling in quicksand.

One of the blessings of being a parent is being in the place of God. To your child, you are the provider. You are the protector. You are the one who makes the bad things go away. You are the one they long to please just because they like to see your smile of approval. Children are not just our charges from God. They are a way to see and feel God in real terms. The lengths you go through to get your child what they want for Christmas. The sacrifices you make so they can take part in activities that they want to do. The sleep you lose because one ear is always listening to them as they sleep, making sure each breath is followed by another one, that the cough is a one-time occurrance. The jobs you sometimes take or stay with not because you want them but because you want your children to feel the security of a home.

They are carefree and full of laughter and hopping from place to place. You are stressed and aggravated and tired. But if you have one last dollar, you'll happily give it to them. If you are down to the last drop of gas in your car, you'll drive them to the moon and pray for a way back. As long as you have a pulse, you are there. And God? He's a million times the parent you are. So just imagine how He must look at us and feel for us. It's not always easy to see - unless you are looking through the eyes of a parent.

I still haven't the words to say to Him and I know I don't need to. But His reaching out to me, through her, just to make sure I knew that He knew...it touches me more than I know how to convey. But for certain I wanted to be certain to tell you all that He did that. Because somebody else, I am certain, needed to know it too.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Let The Writing Begin

If it is November 1, 2007, then it must be NaNo time! That's write - pun intended - National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo a.k.a NaNo)is in full effect. It is four hours from the end of day one and I have written ZERO words so far. Woo hoo!

I'm not worried about it. Way to early to worry. This year I will only be doing one book, thank you very much, so I won't be as pressured. Plus, I worked on a bit of an outline this time around so I may even be a little organized but that's because it may be a real story for me as opposed to the one I finished last year, which was just 2 characters that wouldn't let me go so I wrote the life out of them and now I don't care to revisit them. My second one last year I didn't hit 50,000 words but that one is a really work for that I want to complete so that's OK.

This year, I may be working on another real work. We'll see how it goes. I have two children's stories in the works so I have them as a distraction when I want to write my NaNo novel but don't know what to say at the moment. One day I'll make a real effort at shoping around the children's book I already wrote. I've been too busy to be bothered with setting myself up for repeated rejection. ANd I was too busy at work today to think about NaNo. But I have a quick moment and I may at least put my little excerpt in my online book. Depends on how slow the Nanowrimo site is at the moment. I want to at least go pull my word count widget and get that posted so you can all see what I'm not doing. Thank God for DVR. I'm going to miss a lot of my shows.

But first, I need to rest. It's been a long week.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy 4th Birthday, Ladybug!



On this date, at 12:18 p.m., you proved to me that having a little girl wouldn't be as tortuous as I expected. And just like in this picture, you haven't been still or quiet for one moment, not even when you sleep. I love you, Angel Face. ::kiss::

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hire Powers

I had to do some interviewing this week. The one time I did it before, we had pretty much already decided we were going to hire her. It was really just a formality. Now, we are looking for an intern after the one who was hired quit after one day. (She got a full-time job. I did NOT run her off.) Back to the drawing board we went.

Our HR woman sent me all the resumes that had come in for the position and there I sat reading over the lives of these anonymous people, remembering to myself how it felt to be on the other end of the job search, looking for experience yet knowing that my lack of experience was a real hindrance. Or later in life, looking for a change and hoping someone had the ability to connect the dots and find I'd be a good fit after all. So in the end, what I was really looking for both times was a break and those can be hard to come by. You have to hope the person interviewing you can see past the nervousness and uncover the potential that maybe you yourself have yet to recognize.

It is difficult juggling these two perspectives - the one who remembers what it felt like to yearn for a chance and the one who has to look past all that to find the person most likely to succeed with us and stay a while. It doesn't feel fair to pass any sort of judgment on people I don't really know but how else can you choose? Big hint, youngest job seekers: First impressions really do count. Neatness really matters. Spelling and grammar mistakes make it easy to chuck a resume and narrow down the possibilities. A ton of experience in a completely different field gives a potential employer pause. It all seems so trivial and superficial but it's reality because when you have a lot of people with the same ability standing before you but only one job, how do you select? Nit-picking becomes the method of choice. As I stood with Co-workers 2 and 3 discussing it, we briefly considered a test for the real contenders. Maybe a writing test? Maybe a scavenger hunt? How about Intern Survivor!

I tell you it isn't easy doing this. It helps to be as prepared as possible with the questions you ask but also in figuring out exactly what you want a person to be able to do. After talking to one person and consulting with Co-worker 3 who would also talk to these people to get her own assessment, we realized that the perfect person would not only be a go-getter (not literally but you never know) but also have an aptitude for writing. They would be working in Editorial after all. Some creativity would also help since we are involved in a lot of visual projects. So I looked for signs of that in the people I spoke with. I admit I also looked a little for signs of myself and the others on my team. We're all very different but we have our strengths that make us cohesive and productive and you hope like will draw like. The disappointing thing was that our choices were few. I called a good number of people. The responses were less than stellar. But it only takes one right?

It's odd to find myself in a place where I can maybe help someone take their first or next step in the career of their dreams. I dread the thought of having to tell anyone, "Thanks but no thanks." I can only hope they don't take it personally because I remember being crushed by what felt like personal rejection. Of course I didn't know then that one door closing leaves room for something better to come along and came along it did. You have to learn to think that way in order to soothe your hurt feelings. I do hope that the ones who don't make it aren't fazed by it. I hope they truly have the tenacity they say they do and that they land on their feet. I hope the person who accepts the job stays more than one day.

I already know who I am going to pick - or should I say hire? After all, as I am told, it is up to me since I will be the one managing him or her the most. My boss and Co-worker 3 keep smiling and metaphorically throwing their hands up in the air, "Whoever you want" they say. Thanks, ladies!

Now I am just letting the decision gel until next week. It gives me time to at least do what many potential employers never did for me - acknowledge the receipt of the resume and give my thanks but no thanks. After all, if we never take the time to remember we were neophytes once too and make a difference for the people who come after us, then we are doomed to repeat the cycle of indifference and seeming disregard for people's feelings. It's about time more employers put a little heart in their hiring process. You may just get back the loyalty and commitment you seek.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hang up the iPhone, Please

My husband just bought the iPhone. My husband is sweet, funny, a hardworker though he also needs to learn how to be a little more expressive. My husband has an
excellent job but he is not the CEO of a national or worldwide conglomerate. He is not a small business owner. He is not in sales or marketing or a film producer or anything in the creative arts at all. He has two related jobs, two bouncy children, one gym membership, one wife, one home. He does not need this phone.

So, he has been setting it up for THREE DAYS and he is not done! Why so long? I don't know. I do know yesterday was all about hooking up email - MY email - to his phone. He doesn't have his own account so he uses one of mine. That was fine but now he wants to be able to see email on his phone when he happens to be hanging out in Timbuckto? (However the heck that's spelled.) Well, he was having problems - he and the iPhone guy he was talking to. He calls me at work.

"What's your user name and password?"

"I gave you that this morning."

"That's not it. Its not working."

"You mean because I suddenly lost my memory and don't know my own information? I think not. It's something YOU guys are doing. Go back and try it again."

He does. I come home and he tells me the inbox got set up but he can't send out yet. My sarcasm lashes out.

"When you set up email on your phone you get one and not the other? How do they not set up simultaneously? You don't need this phone, man!"

Well, I went to check my business email last night. First of all it asked me for my password which it has not done in ages since it was saved. "Ohhh, what did he do?" I mutter to myself. Multiple attempts using the only 2 possible passwords it could be. I slam my first on the desk. Darn iPhone! I loudly march upstairs and turn on the bedroom light accusingly.

"What did you DO? My business email password is not working."

"What?"

"You changed the password somehow! What did you change it to?"

"I used what you gave me."

"I never GAVE you my business password. It's not the same as the regular email password, Mr. T." What the heck were you guys doing in there?"

I slam off the light and go back downstairs to see if I can do anything. I can't change it to a new password unless I know the old one. I slam my fist again. I hate it when people mess with my stuff. He could fiddle with the main email but why on earth were messing around with ALL the accounts I have? He walks into my office wearing his save-the-day expression which I know is a mask for his I-screwed-up-and-I'm-sorry expression. I know that's what he's doing but I can't help but turn the screw a little more.

"Came for moral support, did you?"

I am on the phone with 2 different people getting my password reset. As I am on hold waiting for the second one I just lean back and look at him through squinted eyes.

"You and that stupid phone, man. You don't NEED it, for goodness sake."

"Hey, gotta have it." (He's a gadget man. I know he means that.)

"Why?"

"It's got an iPod."

"You listen to CDs in your car. You don't exactly power walk. You don't use an iPod now! When on earth are you going to listen to the iPhone?!"

"You can go in there and google."

"You mean in case you suddenly have a need in the middle of traffic to find out the radius of the sun? When do you do that, Mr. T?!"

"You can look up addresses and get a map and boom. You're there!"

"You can do that at home and print it out too but every place we go, you tell me 'You could have gone this other way.' You're a human map all by yourself, Mr. T!"

"You never know! Don't you want to be able to check your email anywhere?"

"No! No, I do no not. And if email is suddenly so important to you, WHY DON'T YOU HAVE YOUR OWN ACCOUNT INSTEAD OF MESSING UP MINE?! This is the email address I share with businesses who want to send me a ton of junk when I just want that one thing. You really want all MY email blowing up YOUR phone?"

"I didn't know that. No. Then help me come up with a user name."

Ugh. Tech person 2 solves my problem and all is right with the world again. So I go play with his phone. "Since you're destroying my world, at least let me see the evil device that has possessed you."

It's a big toy alright. Lots of color. He's happy to show it off but all that finger tapping is just a bit much to me. He says I'd get used to it but it just seems so over-the-top to me, for a man with a life as uncomplicated as his is. Mine is way more involved and I don't even see a need to be that hooked up to the world wide web and other folk. He's a big kid at Christmas so I'll let him enjoy his toy. Maybe every now and again, I'll go look up the radius of the sun. You know, just to keep it busy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Johnny Cash Would Be Proud

At last! The post I had to remove on Oct. 11 when this was originally supposed to run. Of course I have blogged since this went up then came down again so the whole "I've been busy" thing may not work so well now but I don't want to re-write this blasted thing! Pretend it's Oct. 11th.

I've been too busy living my life to blog about it. But that's no excuse, now is it? Bloggers have a responsibility to blog or else they not truly bloggers. I concur. Kerri is posting in a couple of different places now and I told her that my blog saw her OTHER blog, tugged my shirt and said, "Why does HER blog get a post and I don't?" So here I am saying, yes, I am alive but it's been nuts. I can prove it.

You know that Choice Hotel commercial that is using Johnny Cash's song? I've been doing everything, man!

I've been to cub scout meetings business meetings wrapping up a school fundraiser mother-in-law's church award thing selling popcorn at CVS business expo held in New York writing editing and shooting a script and in between dealing with sick girl and working long hours on my job projects - I've been everywhere man. I've been everywhere!

The shoot is something my co-workers and I created for our Boss' Day, which is next week but we're doing it tomorrow because one co-worker will be out of town next week and we're all chomping at the bit anyway. (OK. Clearly that didn't happen. Thus the late posting.) Lady Boss is fantastic and deserves this. We all agree. Three of us are writers so we wrote it. One of us is a video goddess so she and her fiance shot it and edited it and we know it will be hilarious. Stress relief for Lady Boss and us too, we expect. We used sock puppets, people. Yes. I stayed up late one night NOT blogging because I was IMing with my co-workers as we worked on the script and made our puppets. We also created T-shirts to go along with the day. Yes, I am 36, not 6 and no, I am not currently pledging a college sorority. Honest. But it was fun. I haven't laughed that hard in a while. This is me (being animated by Co-worker):



And this is me in the drawer with all of us:



We did this AFTER WORK so no finger wagging in my direction! Nyeh!

Now, in addition I have also helped 2 of said co-workers to create a visual representation of the Battle of the Brides. They are getting married next year - no silly, not to each other! - and they are doing it a week apart at that. One co-worker who knows I hate wedding talk (I didn't do a lot of it for myself either) says, "Oh, can't you play with us for just a LITTLE while?!" You asked for it, missy. So I took her idea for the timeline they wanted to create and said, "Squash that. This is what you do..." And this is what they did:



Can you see them? They are building wedding cakes tier by tier. Each cake represents what they have accomplished on their way to their respective wedding alters. Grimace and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle are racing to the top to ring the wedding bells in victory. Yes, this was my idea folks. I was determined to see it through. Good job, ladies!

Now, the rest is A LOT of cub scout stuff (Son sold lots of popcorn at CVS and his being cute helped a lot. Good for him! [I will not pimp my son. I will not pimp my son!]) and lots of library visits as I try to keep my kids in new books weekly (and me monthly) and me realizing that my business needs me to really put the pedal to the medal because these kids are just expensive! I've said it before and I say it again - kids (not babies, believe it or not) cost mega moolah. I wish I had time for a part-time job.

Oh, and in addition to what I've written here, I've been writing with my crit group twice a week and working on my novel outline for NaNoWriMo. What is it, Theresa asked. Why this, of course! See my little award over there in my sidebar? It's getting married next month. Mark my words - literally. I need 50,000 of them to win.

And then there is Village Works for which I have been working on an email campaign that went out this week. I've been through about 1,000 emails that I had to get added to our mailing list program so that took a few days, plus creating the email itself. You see, the fundraiser was a huge disappointment in that it never got kicked off properly and the kids just didn't do the job. Yeah, we got some orders. Yeah, we're talking high school seniors, which may be more than half of the problem here, but that just gave us a huge task for the next couple of weeks to get those orders bumped up to PROFIT level. We've got a one-week special going on and we'll see what comes of it. For certain all this business stuff going on (we met with an accountant in all this busy time too) and all the kid/family stuff that is breaking the bank is making me think it's time to get on the Ladies Who Launch bandwagon and see if we can make a profitable difference in 2008. It's too soon to give up. We KNOW we have something here. It's just a matter of making it work. Maybe I'll watch a little more Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane so I can get inspired. That woman is truly a dynamo and fun to watch. I don't want her life, just her money!

Oh and just so you know, I am also busy reading at night when I should be watching TV - or sleeping, as another co-worker would say. What am I reading? Two books I dug up from the library.

I got this one at the beginning of September and it's actually not bad but it didn't grab me as hard as I would like. Still it's a little bit of a tease so I hold on. The author is Daniel Wallace. He wrote Big Fish which became a movie. You've got a circus and a black magician who is really white. My favorite line so far from Henry the magician to a racist heckler in the audience as he tried to guess the card the heckler is hiding from him:

Henry closed his eyes and took a deep preparatory breath. A quizzical look appeared on his face. "I'm...I'm having trouble locating it. Your brain, I mean. Where do you keep it? Oh there it is. It was so small that for a moment I couldn't see it!
That had me rolling for 2 days. This is why I hang on.

And there there is his one by British author Sophie Kinsella. It caught my attention pretty quickly, something that is not easily done. But the British text can be a little distracting at times. She has this awful habit of having her somewhat gawky, a little inept character say "Er" and "Erm" a lot and that Erm thing is bugging the heck out of me. What is that, anyway? "Er" I can stand but even that is getting run over repeatedly and stabbed with a big stick in this book. Still, she makes me want to know what the heck is going to happen to this girl. She reminds me a bit of Bridget Jones and... darn it! There is someone else too but I can't grasp her book title. It was about a working mother and the juggling she had to do. Anyone recall it?

I think I am sufficiently caught up until the next time I get behind. See you soon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to Win Employees and Influence People

It's been interesting at work lately. Running my own business, I enjoy the random times when someone does or says something at work that I can implement in my own side hustle. Someone was telling me about the incredible feats that have been performed to pull off a fund-raising program and little did he know he was confirming all my partner and I have done to get our own show on the road.

And then there was some talk about my boss. Good talk. Loyal talk. Praising talk. Life's been a challenge for her lately and we all know it. Those of us in her boat, or one of her boats, understand it. We, her editorial team, applaud her ability to do all she does with grace and style. So the gentleman with whom I was talking said, "She's really good. She's got the lowest turnover in the company."

"She's got NO turnover. Trust me, we've all worked other jobs and we know what it could be like. Half of us are mothers and I think her being in the same place as life as we are makes a difference."

We agreed that money is important but it isn't everything and that is probably what motivates most, if not all, of us - we all have our agendas and family is a big one, including for Boss Lady.

"The fact is," I told him, "she isn't watching every little thing we do commenting on the time we show up. She respects us for our abilities and in turn we do everything we can because we love what we do AND because she deserves it. Trust me, if I were at my old job, telling them that I have to get my son on the school bus first at 8:22 THEN drop off my daughter, I doubt I'd still be there."

She understands that our lives are not linear, simple organisms, nor do we want them to be. Things change DAILY. Things come up. As long as the job gets done, why must employers hound folk to stick to some stupid clock? Yes, I know some jobs require it. My last job was forever talking about the California clients and the need to be available to them, but I suppose that's at the expense of a person's other priorities in life, eh?

"A good leader has the ability to empower people. If you're a good leader, people don't even know they are being led!" It's funny. I would expect to really be keeping an eye on the higher ups of my company to see what kinds of things I need to incorporate into my own business. But in actuality, it is my own somewhat demur (I don't think she'd buy this 100%), witty, and humble boss who is the example that is worth following. She's got us all pow-wowing trying to figure out what to do for her simply because we like her and want to put a smile on her face, given the way life is treating her right now. She absolutely makes us all feel like we are the most capable people in the world and she appreciates how we all bring ourselves into this place and it works for her. It works for us too.

My business partner and I have no intentions of having employees. Only contractors, but it's all the same. We too believe in treating people like we want to be treated. Empowering people, especially once they've proven they can do the job to the satisfaction of all involved. The gentleman at work was explaining about the potential success of his fund-raiser all because he showed heart and enabled other people to show it too. That is how you win employees and influence people. Making friends, not always showing dominance. Hands off. Show appreciation. Keep your priorities straight.

I wonder what things would be like if every company found a way to show their employees that they too believe that family/life/God is most important and everything else - EVERYTHING else - is really just a form of supporting and uplifting those so let's act like it, shall we?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

October Babies

I am sitting here right now fuming. I have errands to run and bills to pay because - surprise! - my job paid us today instead of waiting until Monday. Thank you! So I was able to do some things now that I thought I'd have to wait until Monday to do. Son will be surprised when he finds out I got him a Club Penguine membership. I wonder how long it will take for him to figure it out on his own? Daughter's birthday present was blissfully about $10 cheaper when last I saw it and since it's going directly to the store, I save on shipping too. A Dora Kitchen. She's been bugging us for one for a solid year or more. She turns 4 on the 28th and we finally have our own space so why not?

So I "do my math" as I call it, figure out the bills and try to hurry up because Son has a birthday party to go to later today and I have 2 bathrooms I want to clean but I've got to go get some gloves and a few other things. Cleaning behind males can be gross, you know.

Almost done and what does Son come to tell me?

"Daughter closed your door and now we cna't open it."

"I'm sorry?"

"We tried to open it but it won't open."

All the bedroom doors have locks on them. The woman before us only had 1 kid and I think he was a teen so this was probably never a concern for her. But I have 2 chimpmunks, one in particular who INSISTS on running around slamming doors when they play. This time somehow she locked MINE and I AM RIGHT NOW LOCKED OUT OF MY BEDROOM not yet showered or dressed with bills to pay and errands to run before this party and I am ready to strangle her.

One of my co-workers just had a baby. He wasn't there at the time we were talking about his daughter's impending arrival but I was talking with a few other people, another of whom is also expecting a child this month, and I told them, "Watch out for those October babies. I think it may be more the girls than the boys but they are a challenge."

One of my immediate co-workers (she's a friend now, really but I don't want you to get confused) asked me if she was really a challenge.

"They are a challenge. MINE is a challenge."

I have a friend whose daughter was born in October 3 1/2 years before mine and when I started telling her stuff Daughter did she laughed and said, "October babies." She could predict what I was going to say! Another friend of ours has a daughter who was born in October and she is older than both our girls. When my friend started saying things about her Daughter to this mutual friend he laughed and said, "October babies."

He warned her. She warned me. Now I warn others because these girls have been alike - stubborn, obstinant, always wanting something that costs a lot of money. The immediate co-worker, when I told her Daughter was a challenge says, "Really? A challenge? My son is a challenge." She tells us of tantrums and things he has destroyed and I agree, Daughter is not like that. But what co-worker sees as cute - she's met Daughter - I assure her is not always easy to live with. Right now her age saves her and yes, she is darn cute. I always want to kiss her.

But not right now. Dear co-worker friend, YOU are probably off having fun right now. I am sitting here blogging instead of running errands HOPING Mr. T knows how to jimmy this lock so we don't have to break down a perfectly good door in a perfectly new house because Daughter can't stop closing doors. I TOLD you she is a challenge.

October babies. They are never a bore but if you're having one, baby beware!