Visible outcomes is kind of a dumb name

And yet, that’s what this is about, right?

Yesterday, I goofed around most of the day, as you can see from yesterday’s two video posts, but I did finally clean the apartment. Talk about visible — we had black dust on our feet, and the only place I can think it came from was the NYC air, since it accumulated mainly by the windows. The apartment looks amazing now, so I am going to try to clean something at least every other day.

You’d think if I were that compulsive and that into visible results, I’d clean and organize stuff more often. But in fact I’m quite slobby, even slobbier than my husband. It’s to the point where he has designated “clutter-free zones.” I try, of course, but usually that means moving stuff off the dining table before he gets home from work. Hey, let’s not be negative here — that’s a big deal!

It’s better to Netflix than spend the entire day playing Facebook games, especially if I’m watching documentaries and TED Talks, as I am wont to do, so at least I can say I learned something. A middle school kid I’m friends with on Facebook (through church, don’t ask) said Candy Crush is stupid and asked if she’s the only one not playing it. I know lots of people not playing it, but I do play it, rather obsessively. I play the app on my phone (five lives) and on my laptop through Facebook (five more lives). And while I’m waiting for my lives to refill, I play other King games like Farm Heroes Saga or Pet Rescue Saga or Papa Pear Saga (though the last two I can’t play anymore because not enough ‘friends’ play it to help me unlock more levels). Maybe Candy Crush is more successful because it’s not called “Candy Crush Saga.”

She’s right about it being stupid, and she’s right that everyone seems to be playing it. I actually feel embarrassed to play it in public, particularly when I see other people doing it. The ones who play it while walking are the really embarrassing ones, so I always pause my games as I transfer from bus to train. But why? Why should I feel ashamed of playing this game? At least I am not engaging in some other, more destructive compulsion, like picking at my scabs or scratching my hundreds of mosquito bites. Which, if I’m just watching Netflix or reading or sitting on public transportation, I might just do. Don’t judge me!

And while I plead for non-judgment, I simultaneously judge those who pay for more lives or boosts. But I believe in karma, so I’m going to try to withhold that judgment, else one day I’ll be paying for some imaginary stuff on the Internet and remember that time I once laughed at people who did that.

If you’ve ever been addicted to Facebook games, you should watch this Candy Crush addiction fake movie trailer; it’s got some dumb parts, but it also has hilarious bits:

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Fake it till you become it

Video

TED Talk on how doing power poses can change how you feel and act. This is just more of the magic I need to get the job I want; if you’ve ever thought, “I’m not supposed to be here,” like I have, this is a quick way to feel confident.

Now, what’s the written equivalent to a power pose for a cover letter? I guess I should just pretend I’m Wonder Woman for a couple minutes before I write the next one.

Decision

Our friend Tom is one of the best cheerleaders we know. Talking to him can make you feel more confident in yourself, but his own actions can also serve as examples to emulate. The story that inspires me, in particular, is the one about him interviewing for a job as reporter for The New York Times and leaving after a 20-minute wait, resulting in his interviewer chasing after him. It’s not that he’s cocky; he’s just that good, and he knows it.

We visited him and his wife this weekend, and I’ve returned with a more confident attitude about my own skills. I’ve decided that I am an experienced copy editor, which I didn’t feel like before. I had all kinds of doubts and insecurities, stemming partly from the fact that potential employers will not have heard of the publications I copyedited for, but also because of those last couple of weeks at work when I felt like nobody listened to me or cared about my opinion.

It helps, of course, that I’m in the middle of a copyediting intro class that makes me realize I know what I’m doing. Some of my classmates aren’t as knowledgeable yet about grammar/punctuation/usage, and some of them want to over-edit everything. I am also the go-to person when it comes to AP style; nobody there knows it as well as I do (not even the instructor, who has mainly worked with Chicago style). The same goes with working on news publications and the issues that come up for those copy editors.

I have discovered that I know my niche.

This is leading me to rethink what kinds of jobs to apply for. Up till now, I’ve only been applying for clerical jobs at Columbia and NYU with the hope of being able to take classes and explore other fields, with a smattering of applications for editorial assistantships at publishing houses, which have never, ever contacted me. I have also thought about working as a freelance copy editor and wondering how to get started. But now I may actually take Tom’s advice and contact some news organizations about becoming a staff copy editor, which I previously thought I was underqualified to do.

Now for the more difficult task of getting motivation to see myself as a writer and actually sit down every day to write….

Freelancing

I updated my LinkedIn profile, which, like most people, I never use, but I am no longer copy editor at the paper, so I changed my title to “freelance copy editor.”

It’s not untrue; I did do a copyediting gig once in April, referred generously by a coworker, and I spent a few hours editing a script. I recently wrote to them asking why I never got paid, and they wrote back saying they never received an invoice. Oops. I guess I need to figure out how to invoice people if I’m a freelancer! They said they’d like to have me help out with the script later, but obviously that’s not very abundant work.

I signed up for and am currently taking a four-session intro course on copyediting, through mediabistro.com. I figured I’d take it to make sure I cover the basics and get a clue as to what I’m getting myself into. Even though I worked as a copy editor for about six months on an English-language daily paper in Taiwan and last year at the local paper, I don’t have quite enough experience to “qualify” for most job postings, which usually say they want at least three years’ copyediting experience.

My husband said I could count my two years working part-time as editorial assistant on my advisor’s academic journal while I was in grad school. Many of my friends would probably tell me that’s enough to “qualify” and that it wouldn’t be lying to say I had more than three years of experience, but I don’t know. I think I just need to build more confidence in myself. Hence, I’m taking this course.

After the first session the other night, I realized I did learn a few things, but I probably could’ve found the info online somewhere, and I felt that compared to some of the students who didn’t have experience copyediting, I could probably end up feeling more confident over the next few weeks and not think that I need to take a bunch of other courses to get the copyediting certificate. I am a copy editor. I am a copy editor. Keep repeating that.

I just need to learn how to get some freelance work, and build some connections. Yeah, that’s all.

Justice for Trayvon

One of the things I was not supposed to do, as a reporter for a publication that does not espouse a particular political view, was publicize my own political views. While I am finishing up a series on religion in that area, I am still associated with that paper, but we are at a point in our nation’s history when I feel strongly that something has to be done. Please accept my apology if what I say here or on Facebook somehow negatively affects the credibility of the organization for which I worked. My views are not those of the publication.

As I have mentioned here before, the only major disagreement between the editor and me was when I spoke up for my right to sign a petition. When I asked my friend, a former reporter for The New York Times and The Huffington Post, about that right, he defended my editor. Not having any education in journalism, I did not know that, as a rule, journalists do not sign petitions or register with political parties, understanding that any expression of political leaning could immediately be used by an opponent to dismiss all of your work. (This stands, of course, unless you write for Fox News or Mother Jones, where you are assumed to have particular political views.)

My friend added that not declaring allegiance to any party frees him to consider all sides of every story he does, and he therefore has opinions that do not fit neatly into one platform or another. I see that as honorable and to be admired.

During what has been a painful separation from a job that I loved, which has been compounded by the absence of any chance to say goodbye to the people I worked with every week for over a year, a positive result has been a feeling of relative freedom to say “publicly” what I think, which will grow once I have finished the stories I’m writing and completely stopped working there. (I say “publicly” because it’s not really so public; I don’t believe this blog is searchable or contains my name, and the only people who would ever read it are a number that can be counted on one or two hands of close friends and family, and possibly coworkers at the paper who might be afraid that Fox-on-Hudson will find out about me! For the latter, please rest assured that I have not become FB friends with any who would want to alert the opposing faction.)

So now that we’ve clarified that I’m preaching to the choir, let me just say how dismayed I am at the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. I don’t just mean dismayed — I mean saddened, angry, despairing. I am thinking epic proportions of mass national trauma. In this one court decision, everything that is wrong with race relations and attitudes toward gun ownership and violence in this country are put on display for all to see plainly. While people who like the verdict argue that it had nothing to do with race, those of us who see that it had everything to do with race feel at a loss about what to do about it, now that the laws have protected the killer. While people who think Zimmerman was innocent of any wrongdoing continue to believe justice is being upheld in this country and that they are safer because of the system, those of us who think Trayvon Martin was killed unjustly continue to grieve.

I go on Facebook and repost everything I read about the acquittal that I think best explains why people should still be thinking about it and trying to do something about it. I even go and write comments at the original sites.

John Oliver’s incredulous reaction to the verdict on The Daily Show

American Federation of Teachers’ statement (“The disposition of this case is the antithesis of what we teach our children in school—that the law protects innocent victims and that no one has the right to take the law into his or her own hands. Everyone’s child matters.”)

Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America says we are all Trayvon Martin’s mother (“Stand Your Ground laws, which give everyday citizens more leeway to shoot than the U.S. military gives to our soldiers in war zones, endanger our children, families and communities.”)

Religion News Service commentary: Concealed handguns a form of white social control

Source: UniteWomen.org courtesy of Abigail Adams Brigade

Source: UniteWomen.org courtesy of Abigail Adams Brigade

I realized this morning that I am almost obsessed with it, while others are still going about their daily lives as if things were normal. I have signed petitions calling on the feds to take up the case, but it doesn’t seem like enough. What else can we do??

There was a time in high school that I felt the hopelessness and sadness that comes close to what I’m feeling right now. There was a presentation about going to college, including how to get financial aid, and one white boy got up and said he couldn’t get any scholarships because they’re only for minorities. This being in Arizona, there were only a couple of African American students in the crowd, and one of them spoke up angrily. An argument ensued, wherein it became obvious to me that most of other students thought the black girl was just being hysterical and/or hateful. I cried, and all I could think was akin to, why can’t we just all get along? Only now I know why we can’t just all get along: Some of the people in this country see the atrocities that are still committed against black people on a daily basis, let alone the lack of atonement for the atrocities of the past, while other people in this country don’t see them at all.

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I think that verdict really is affecting many people in an incredibly hurtful way, and whether or not you agree with the decision, you have to understand that healing is desperately needed, because the hurt is real.

Solace, however, did come in the form of posts on a tumblr site from people all over the country and even the world, where it is evident that more and more people are aware of the existence of white privilege and know that justice has not been served: We Are Not Trayvon Martin. That, at least, can be a source of some hope.

Now back to the job search … and much-needed, if profane, comic relief about “jobs” from that potty mouth, Louis C.K.

Back to the drawing board…

I’m looking at these last few entries and having a face-palm moment. Why was I writing about church fundraisers and Lent on a blog about finding a fulfilling line of work?

I suppose it was because I couldn’t really write about my job. Something I didn’t know about journalism is the rather high profile a reporter can have; if you are supposed to report “just the facts” without a particular political bias, then it’s hard to be taken seriously by opponents if they know your political views. So, I wasn’t supposed to sign that petition that I signed, and it was the only time that I really got in trouble with my editor at work.

But now I don’t have that job anymore, and I’m back to looking for one, because we finally made the move to New York City.

My husband’s sanity was at stake; he HATED commuting to his job every day. Now we have a sweet apartment a little north of the neighborhood where we used to live, and he has two more hours of the day, free from the Metro-North Railroad. Is it amazing and wonderful to have a happy partner? Yes. Is it great to be living in the big city, with all it has to offer? Definitely.

The compromise was that I got to stay long enough at the paper to complete a full year of work there and get that much more experience. And the truth is that I also didn’t see a future for myself there; what murky visions I could glimpse were full of stress and angst and long hours, dealing with some difficult personalities — basically, what my editor does. And honestly, I would’ve been horrible at his job, which he does really well. He would joke that I was being groomed to take over for him when he finally had had enough to call it quits, which occasionally felt like it could be any day, but I don’t know how serious those jokes were. In any case, I didn’t think they were that funny.

I really loved my job, though, and I loved that quirky and sometimes really annoying little village where we lived for three years. I had a hard couple of final weeks working there, because the editor was away on the first long vacation he has taken since beginning to work for this organization, which was at least two years ago, and I didn’t really get along well with the others who were in charge (and I wasn’t put in charge after all, since I was leaving anyway) and especially not with the sometimes reporter who was tapped to take over my copy editing role. And who was to be trained by me. And who never really was because she didn’t want to be trained by me anyway.

But all of that is very negative talk that is meant to make me feel better for leaving a position I liked. I got to write a lot, and I even have a few more stories to complete my religion series there, so that is something to do while I’m on the job search. I was really an editorial assistant who gradually got more decision-making powers as time went on, and it felt like the editor trusted me with certain decisions. Being tech-savvy, I got to do a lot of editing on the website, too. There aren’t that many people in that organization with access to publishing directly on the website, so I see that I made myself quite useful.

What’s really been nice is the encouragement I got for my writing. Of course I was a big-ass fish in a tiny little pond, but that’s not going to deflate my ego … not yet, anyway. I was trusted by my editor to go out and get the job done, and he often praised me for my stories. Some of the people I talked to at government or school board meetings or those I interviewed for stories sometimes told me that they liked my reporting and were grateful that I was covering them.

I heard many more compliments than I heard criticisms, which was kind of a new experience for me, and a very valuable one.

We also had good rapport as a production team — the editor, the layout designer, the ads person and me, the copy editor. We joked around a lot. I will miss those days at the office a lot.

And last but not least, I’ll really miss sticking to those Fox-on-Hudson people!

Having my writing published, even just seeing copy-edited pieces in print, is something that did really feel good. I’m not sure I want to keep reporting, but I think I have some time this summer to think about it.