Sort of, not really, back to normal

Now that the literary festival is over, and we’ve moved vanloads of stuff back from downtown Brooklyn, we at the AAWW office finally get to wind down. We’ll slowly unpack boxes while getting back to the work of putting out three online magazines and preparing for other, smaller events.

I will get back to the project of creating a house style sheet/guide for the AAWW publications, which is kind if exciting if you like copyediting, as language-nerds like me do.

I also spent my first working day away from the office writing my long overdue article on the Quakers, whose service I attended weeks ago. If there’s time today, I may even finish it, which is no small accomplishment for me. I putzed around most of the morning yesterday until finally getting myself to the nearby cafe to work.

Haven’t started looking for work again yet. The whole part-time thing seems strange since I won’t be doing this internship long-term, but it’s no excuse.

I complain about working as an intern a lot, but it is a special thing to be working with writers.

One thing I found inspiring at the festival Saturday was unexpected, because it came from the author of several urban-fantasy romance novels and X-men comics, Marjorie Liu. While I love the X-men films (especially Hugh Jackman, I mean, Wolverine), I do not aspire to writing romance novels or making comics. But she said something that has given me motivation to start writing my own fiction, that you can talk about voice and plot and character development all you like, but you have to finish your writing. If you don’t finish something, none of that other stuff matters.

She also said that a lot of her writing, especially in the beginning, sucked, but that’s what revision is for. You have to spend a great deal of time revising to make the writing good. That’s something I definitely need to remember when my perfectionism takes over and harshly judges everything I write down or even think.

So I’ve now signed up to do National Novel Writing Month, in which people vow to write 50,000 words over the course of 30 days and keep track of it at the website.

Who’s gonna do it with me?

In preparation, I am going to have to spend the rest of October writing a lot, so I’ll have to journal daily, at the very least, which I haven’t done in ages, and maybe try for a short story or essay.

No procrastination, no training wheels, just writing … every day.

Course overload

Back from a Labor Day weekend in Cold Spring to spend time with friends, and finally done with the draft of the article on Episcopal churches, I was going to use the day to get homework done for my online classes through Mediabistro, “HTML” and “InDesign for Writers and Editors.” Of course, halfway through my first video lesson of the day, I couldn’t see the video anymore, and it turns out that there’s something wrong with the YouTube server.

So much for work!

Earlier today I went and had an eye exam, resulting in a new pair of glasses (these old frames were from the start of my year in Mexico, fall 2005) as well as some contacts. I have never really liked the way I look in glasses, but when I finally started trying to wear contacts a few years ago, while teaching, I noticed that my students would stop wearing their glasses if I didn’t have mine on. I thought, that’s no good, so I stopped wearing contacts at school, and, finally, ever.

While I was waiting forever for the eye exam, and after all my Candy Crush lives got used up, I happened to see the Tuesday shoe trivia question on DSW’s Facebook page, so I ended up looking up the shoes they posted and submitted the answer.

And I won a $50 certificate! SHOES!!!!!!!!!!

I am seriously in need of self control these days with my shopping. I’m confessing here so that I feel accountable to someone. I am not to buy any shoes beyond that $50, because I actually just got three beautiful pairs last week.

I should be doing more constructive things, like building a website. After all, I need one if I’m going to freelance, along with business cards, invoices, etc. This HTML course is kind of fun, being my very first experience coding, but it’s also showing me how very little I know. My website looks like it came from the early ’90s. Yuck.

Here’s to hoping that the class discussion tonight teaches me a little more so I can make it pretty.

After family reunions, job search resumes

The month of August was eventful in terms of family visits. One weekend was devoted to the in-laws in the environs of Rochester, N.Y., with the following weekend to my own family in Tucson. In between the two, I spent a few days relaxing at the New Hampshire farm of my best friend’s family. I needed the break to recover from the one reunion and to prepare for the next.

There were lots of children.

I was lucky to have had work to do while in western New York; I still have to write the article on the Episcopal churches for the old paper, so on my second day there, I holed myself up in my husband’s old bedroom (now a storage area for toys and clothes for the grandchildren) with some noise-cancelling headphones and transcribed some old interviews.

(Transcription is another area where I could make some money freelancing. It’s tedious, but I can do it, and my friend Tom says there’s money to be made there, because most people hate it.)

There’s nothing like spending your days with nieces and nephews to make a childless person not want to have children. Of course they’re adorable and I love them and all that, but when you put four of them together, aged 6 through 1, even in a big house, it’s enough to make one swear off procreation. It becomes harder when you’re known as the fun childless aunt or uncle who plays with kids, when those same kids expect you to play with them every minute you’re around. I am therefore developing and grooming my un-fun persona, boring childless aunt who doesn’t want to play right now. My husband probably needs to do the same, but he really enjoys playing with toys, so I’m sure he’s feeling conflicted.

The thing I love the most about going to western New York is thrift-store shopping (without kids). The goods are often high-quality, bountiful and cheap. I have perfected the art — only look at clothes your size with the tag color that’s 50 percent off, unless something really catches your eye; else you could be there all day. I wanted to be at the Volunteers of America all day, when in addition to the normal 50 percent off color, they had another color that was 75 percent off, and all tanks, shorts and capris were half off. That quadrupled the amount of clothing I would normally look at, so my husband and mother-in-law had to wait for me, having valuable one-on-one time on a sofa, while I tried on a hundred things. You can’t make them wait forever, though, so I made myself leave the store after only seeing a fraction of it.

When I got to New Hampshire, there was more quality time with children to be had. My friend’s son is a cute 2-year-old with a train obsession (“Play choo-choo, play choo-choo, play choo-choo!” is his usual mantra with his adult playmates — I, the sucker that I am, being one of them), and her 3-year-old nephew Jack is a doll. So I didn’t mind too much when I ended up being the child-minder for a bit one day, when we picked what was left of the glorious blueberries in the yard and wandered down the freshly cleared nature path through the woods on the property. It did get tiring, however, to make sure they didn’t kill each other with the paint-rollers that were doubling as lawn mowers. Boys are hard to manage in a way that is alien to me; I never had brothers so I’m unaccustomed to their brutish ways.

There are a lot of best things about going to the farm in New Hampshire — my friend, of course, is at the top of the list, but the blueberries and the clear, brisk water of the lake are close behind. Even though that week was chilly, I still went in for a couple swims.

Then, Arizona, land of so much personal baggage, because that’s where the family’s at. We did successfully celebrate my father’s 80th birthday and my mother’s lunar birthday, with two giant meals. Of course, all of us (three sisters, their significant others, and two nieces) besides my parents, who are divorced, got to gorge ourselves silly almost every day of the trip, since we had to go from one parent to the other, to be “fair.” Though it was hectic and stressful at times to coordinate, I was glad to be able to spend time with both my sisters at once, since the last time we’d been together was at my grandmother’s funeral about five years ago.

My two nieces are lovely, and since they’re older, they aren’t quite as noisy. They’re going to grow up to be great women, I can tell. The last evening, though, one of them was feverish and grumpy, so they argued rather too loudly for many of our tastes. Being a parent mediator would be a difficult job.

On the flights to and from Tucson, I read my friend Patrick O’Keeffe’s book, The Hill Road, which was superb. It contains four novellas, all of them set in neighboring farming villages in County Limerick, Ireland, where Patrick’s from. I highly recommend it, and if you aren’t convinced simply by my saying so, you can even read the first 35 pages on Google’s e-book preview. It took me a while to get into it, but once I did have a long period of time to start the whole first 20 pages or so, I couldn’t put it down. I cried on both plane trips reading the first and second stories.

Image

It’s inspiring to read an excellent book by someone you know, but it’s also a bit daunting if think of yourself as an aspiring writer and start making comparisons, so I’m trying to focus more on the encouraging and slightly cocky voice of our friend Tom — “Just do it!”

I did, the other day, reread something I had written — the start of what could be a personal essay or memoir or novel — but the problem with it, I think, besides the fact that it needs tons of revision and editing, is that I don’t know what it is yet. Do I want to write an essay or a whole book of memoirs? A novel, a short story, creative nonfiction? I guess I don’t have to worry about it now. I’m supposed to just write, and when I’ve got enough written down, I can decide later what it really is. The problem, however, is making myself “just write.”

The goal for today is at least to start that article on my old town’s Episcopal churches, so that it can be done and out of the way. I may have to force myself to go to the neighborhood cafe to do it, since all I do around here is putz around the internet in my pajamas. I do apply to a few jobs every day, now that I’m back, but I could probably be a bit more proactive and send things to publications without waiting for job postings. It’s hard for me not to be overwhelmed by all the things I “ought” to do. Which is why I often find myself playing mind-numbing Facebook games, probably.

In other news, I started the InDesign course online this week, to make myself learn the program, because some employers prefer their copy editors and editorial assistants know how to use it. Next week I start a short online course on HTML.

Keep self busy.

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.

The flu, mardi gras pancakes, lower back pain

It was a hellish week. Finally caught the flu last weekend as my DH Shane was getting over it, but I don’t have a demanding full-time job and long commute, so I didn’t come down with complications (like Shane’s sinus infection). Being feverish sucks, though. Couldn’t do one of my stories because of that second bout of aches and soreness.

Shane recovering from the flu with Tigger

Shane recovering from the flu with Tigger

As I recovered, I had two nights of insomnia, and I have no idea why. One night I was up till 2 or 3 a.m., reading about Joan of Arc and Arminianism vs. Calvinism on Wikipedia before finally falling asleep on the futon. And then two nights later I was up all night, feeling  nervous, fluttery in my chest, for no apparent reason. I hadn’t even had any caffeine, but I was jittery like I had had a few cups of coffee before bed.

Partly it was because I had to write two articles before noon the next day. I stayed up late, till about midnight, writing one of them, and by the time I finished I felt shaky and tired. I had that feeling like an overtired child who gets all cranky and throws tantrums and can’t sleep. For a couple hours, I tried to sleep, but I figured I’d better do something constructive, so I got up and wrote the other article, which I had been planning to write in the morning. I finished at about 4 or 5 a.m. but still I couldn’t sleep. I got out of bed with Shane when he had to get up, and I thought, well, finally I’ll be able to sleep, but I didn’t. I watched episodes of Stargate Universe, instead. Then I worked the rest of the day copy editing on the paper (as it was going to press that evening) and didn’t sleep till that night.

stargate (Source: gateworld.net)

While I was lying in bed trying to sleep, the only thing I could guess was making me anxious was that stupid pancake supper I was helping to organize for church. I was having all kinds of anxieties about it flopping in a huge way, with nobody coming, or me losing it and yelling at people from my church who were trying to help but being bossy. I ended up writing a long email to my friend Ruth about my worries and how I wouldn’t be able to stand working for the church much longer, and she wrote me the sweetest reply, right away, and she said she loved me and not to fret, which made me cry.

Lucky me, the pancake supper turned out wonderfully, and it was the help of all those people who were also anxious about pulling it off who made it happen, who came early and set up and cooked bacon and sausages and pancakes on griddles and made fun conversation for those few hours beforehand.

Ruth at the mardi gras pancake dinner

Ruth at the mardi gras pancake dinner

One of the strange things I did that made me nervous was I mixed two traditions together, Shrove Tuesday pancake supper plus a mardi gras theme, with feather masks and beads and New Orleans jazz music and king cake. I wasn’t sure it would work, and I have the feeling others weren’t sure about it, either. The king cake turned out very well, though — it was tasty as well as fun to have everyone look for the baby Jesus (a whole almond) inside their slices, and the winner got to wear the crown I bought. As Shane said, always good to have activities. (Though probably a good idea not to make people run with pancakes and frying pans; I was concerned the floor would be slippery from people tracking in snow.)Mardi gras Mary Ann

In the end, it was probably the mimosas that made the dinner fun. We had a pretty good turnout, even though the previous night’s snowstorm kept many of the regular supper guests indoors, and we made almost twice as much in donations as we had at the last fellowship dinner. Success!

Father Shane serving mimosas

Father Shane serving mimosas

Mardi gras beadsI think the busy day of baking (king cake and Valentine’s Day Bake Sale cookies) and setting up tables and cooking and cleaning up tired me out completely. As I was getting into bed, a sharp pain shot through my lower back. It messed up my plans to go cross-country skiing the next day, after all that glorious snow. So instead of playing in the sun and snow, I stayed home this afternoon trying (unsuccessfully) to find a comfortable position in which to sit or lie down and watching a documentary about Tribe Called Quest. But then Ruth had us over for a delicious Sunday dinner, and we had a wonderful time with her and her husband and their beautiful rescue dog, Charlie. What a blessing it is to have good friends!

Not the brightest idea I’ve ever had

Writing a blog about my search for a career/job has proven to be problematic in many ways.

It’s made me worry that I didn’t get a job because the prospective employers found this blog and read what I wrote about them. So I stopped mentioning the job interviews and positions I’d applied for.

Then, complaining about aspects of my current part-time position as a reporter for a local news site and free print weekly has alerted superiors to warn me not air my opinions so freely, lest I compromise my mission to report on events and situations fairly.

Also, it’s never a good idea to complain about one’s employer on a public site.

Maybe my problem is that the blog is public. I should probably be journaling about all this stuff and then writing a book about it later, after I am no longer employed at a place I’m complaining about. Or I should make this thing private and unsearchable and only give out the web address to close friends and family via email, not broadcasting it over facebook, which is full of “friends” who are not really my friends anyway. (Hi, those of you reading this and wondering if I meant you!)

Whatever the case, I am finding it hard to write about anything related to my job search, or rather, lack of a job search, or my current position.

I suppose I can say that I may have wriggled my way out of covering the village government, simply by not covering it adequately, though that was not intentional. My heart’s not in it, of course, so there’s that, but I also don’t have the stomach for the quarreling.

My husband came down with the flu on Monday, so he’s been home since Tuesday on. He finally went to the doctor today — one day shy of health insurance coverage, mind you, because our doctor doesn’t work Fridays, and he’s been feeling miserable enough to self pay. I have been trying my best to take care of him.

Now writing that sentence: “I have been trying my best to take care of him,” makes me realize that I have been trying to do that since he started his full-time job at the end of November.

That has been a difficulty for a while between us. I have high expectations of myself, and I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself to be a good stay-at-home spouse, just like Shane was to me for the four years that I worked full-time as a teacher. I want to make delicious dinners with leftovers so he can bring a lunch to work, keep the house clean, do the dishes and the laundry regularly, but then again, I don’t really want to do any of that at all. At the end of the day, when none of that has been done, I feel like I’ve failed him and myself.

I’m also rather a workaholic, so even though I’m technically part-time at the paper, I have made it so that I work on stuff for the paper pretty much a lot of the time. That way I don’t have to do housewife-y stuff, either.

On top of that, I have taken on lots of responsibility at this church. This church! I am in charge of hall rentals, and now I am trying to organize a pancake supper that is happening NEXT WEEK!

One has to understand something about my past to comprehend the anxiety with which I face this freaking pancake supper. I can remember, in my entire 36 years of life, only one or two gatherings that I organized that were successful. I think they were while I was in grad school, so it wasn’t difficult to impress the other grad students I’d invited, who were equally as or perhaps a little nerdier than I was.

OK, so this is at CHURCH for God’s sake, so what am I worrying about? Well, I still want it to be FUN.

In my search for the right formula to create said FUN, I may have tried a little too hard. I bought a bunch of Mardi Gras masks and beads — I mean, come on, Pancake Day is fine and all, but let’s spice things up a little — and I’m thinking about holding a pancake race (which I’ve learned actually happens at pancake suppers in the UK). Shane and a few friends at church are asking me, “Who’s going to run in a pancake relay race?! It’s a bunch of old people who can’t run!” And I’m saying, “The kids?” while I’m thinking, “I want to run in a pancake relay race! And I want to watch a bunch of people making fools of themselves running in a pancake relay race!”

Did I mention there will be mimosas? Everyone is excited about the mimosas. Maybe with mimosas people will wear Mardi Gras masks and beads and run around flipping pancakes. Maybe it will be fun.

Copy editor and reporter and … photographer?

I could say I have been busy with work, getting more responsibilities at the paper, which is sort of true, but since it is only part-time, there’s no real excuse for my long hiatus from writing.

There was that whole job interview thing — I finally heard back that I didn’t get the job, weeks after the second interview I mentioned previously. It was fine not getting the position, especially after worrying that I’d have to interact with that horrible professor, but I did feel like maybe they had somehow seen my blog post about them (and that I didn’t really want the job). I don’t know how they would have, but I stressed out about it anyway. That paranoia led me not to want to write about much else on this blog. And so a couple of other job interviews have come and gone without so much as a … tweet.

I still do enjoy working for the paper, and staying there is now made easier by the fact that my husband has secured a full-time job (with benefits!) in the city. The whole idea of giving the Ailes operation a hard time is extremely satisfying, which unfortunately allows me and my colleagues to put up with a lot of other stuff, like not being able to go full-time or get insurance benefits.

I remain eternally grateful for the opportunity to develop my skills there, though. I have, since my last posting, written a few more articles, one or two of which have had an impact (however small) on parts of the community.

One of my stories on the Garrison School Board meetings, for example, reportedly angered the teachers there, which was the desired effect. They were not present to hear the condescending tone of some the parents or to defend themselves, and so I felt it my duty to inform those not present of the general themes of the discussion. Unfortunately, I heard that the teachers felt the article was immensely critical of them, when in fact I had tried my best to report as “objectively” as possible.

I haven’t been writing as much for the paper as one might expect, given my “added,” somewhat editorial responsibilities at the paper. With the awesome digital SLR camera that I bought myself for my birthday in October, I have been taking much better pictures than I ever could with my old point-and-shoot, and my photos have been appearing a lot more in the paper than my writing has. My shots of the late-night flooding at high tide in lower Cold Spring (in my last post), for example, were some of the only ones that I have seen. When we need front-page photos now, the editor often asks me to get the shots.

gingerbread ornamentLiving nativity Saunders Farm

The wonders of digital photography! Now any numbnut can take a hundred photos and find a good one somewhere in the mix. I DO want to learn more about photography, though, so that I don’t have to sort through a hundred photos to find one that is merely decent. I know there are several ways to do so that are free, through the Internet, perhaps through all of my artsy photographer friends, but it just means getting up and doing it….

Which brings me to the confessional part of my blog: Am I in a rut? Am I, as I type this entry while noon approaches, in bed, in my bathrobe, shirking my duties as the spouse who works part-time, avoiding the laundry, the dishes, the cleaning, the grocery shopping, the cooking, and contemplating what I’ll watch next on Netflix instant? Am I avoiding a job search that will land us in the city so that my husband doesn’t have to commute an hour and a half each way and so that I can continue working at this paper and take on village reporting duties? Am I also making no progress whatsoever on journaling or writing fiction/creative nonfiction/my first novel? Am I, perhaps, rather depressed? I’m afraid the answer is yes. But therapy will resume as soon as my health insurance kicks in next month.