Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cleaning: a ramble

It's amazing how cleaning off the top of your desk can make you feel like a new person. When I got to work this morning, instead of turning on my computer and getting into it, I decided to organize the top of my desk.

I work for a journal and have about 50 issues on my desk at any one time. Pretty much because I don't know what to do with them. Once my advance copy comes in I thumb through it, make any notes, then toss it in the center of my desk. So today I made 2 piles of them. Ahhh, a start. Then I gathered up all the lose notes from meetings back in December and threw them out.

I'm on a new pattern that if I don't need it I'm throwing it out. This came about by my new cleaning lady. Yes, I did it again and hired a new person. And so far so good. But I came home and there were 2 giant black garbage bags. Filled. With I don't know what. So, at first I was concerned that there was stuff in there that I needed. Important stuff. I held back though and waited. I didn't want to open the bags and end up dumping it all back on my kitchen table, undoing all the wonderful cleaning she did. 

But then I couldn't find a container we use to clean the sink drains. About once a week we put this bio-cleaner stuff down the drain to eat away at the gunk that has developed after 50 years. We have to do this since plumbers came to jack hammer up the kitchen and dining room floor to repair an old pipe that had dissolved. That's another story. So, I tentatively opened one of the black bags...and there is was, right on top. I grabbed it, and shut the bag without looking at anything else. Well, I did spy 4 cans of easy off cleaner. (So THATS why my stove looks awesome.) However, trash day has come and gone and the bags weren't put out. So I have another week of not looking in the bags. And I'm not missing anything else. That I know of right now. Next Wednesday, the day after the trash is picked up, I'll probably remember something I can't find.

But back to my office.

I swept clean my desk, then decided to clean out my work bag. I use a canvas tote that I got at the Black Dog on Martha's Vineyard last summer. It's a great bag. And it was cluttered. I found 9 pens, 3 pencils, $2.12 in change, my prescription for contacts, my gym membership form that I need to send into my health insurance to get a reimbursement, two pairs of gloves, arm warmers, tin of Altoids, Chapstick, 3 lipsticks, hand warmers, a bottle of Gatorade, and 4 hair ties, a book, and 2 race medals. And a bunch of trash and dirt.

No wonder it felt heavy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I have a confession to make: I don't follow March Madness.

In the realm of sports, I devote myself to football. I'm watching the development of next season's teams and following their off season training schedule. When there is a lull in that, I'll check in on my Red Sox to see how they're doing. But basketball is never on my radar.

A friend of mine is extremely excited for this time of year, and was filling out her brackets last week. I had to ask who the teams were. My alma mater has been in the tournament a few times, including twice when I attended. I remember this because classes were canceled one of the times during the game time so that people could watch. I think we had it on in the dorm as a backdrop to whatever else we were doing. I remember it seeming unfair because we were playing Alabama, and their players were giants. It looked like pros taking on high schoolers. Since then, if they make it I am always proud but still don't watch.

Basketball is one of those games that I love to play but hate to watch. It's repetitive, and I get angry when people miss free throws. It's called a free throw for a reason. You get an unblocked shot at the basket. While I give some leeway for the college teams to miss them (they're young, they have nerves), when a pro player misses I want to shut off the TV. You were just paid how much money to not get the ball through the hoop? If I were making a gazillion dollars playing ball, I would practice free throws all day every day so I wouldn't miss. It's not like the basket ever moves or changes.

I played basketball when I was a child and adored it. I grew early, and was one of the taller kids on the court in the 4th and 5th grades. And then when I stopped growing in the 6th grade and everyone else kept sprouting up I made up for my height by being a terror on the court guarding. I loved boxing out and setting picks. Alas, my b-ball career ended Freshman year when two girls took me out in the last game of the season. One slid under my legs and the other pushed me over the other way. My right leg did not go in the same direction as my body, and I was carried off the court. I had a severely sprained ankle, partially torn ligaments, and my leg below the knee was swollen and black. My ankle never fully recovered, most likely because softball season started three weeks later and I was determined to play and threw the crutches away. Running sprints up the baseline and crouching in the catcher's position for hours (sometimes with my right leg straight out besides me) put a permanent kink in that ankle. It's still doesn't turn properly. 

In that game our team got a technical shot because of my injury, and I left the court having had my best scoring game ever. I got 32 points in the first half. I probably wouldn't have ever beaten that again, so it was a good way to go out. That summer I found out during a game on my driveway with my neighbor that I had lost my jump shot (my best one!) and my ankle gave out every now and then when I ran up the court. The spring was gone from my step. I still played with my neighbors, but my drive for the game was gone.

But, I will always remember the games I played as a kid. When competition was friendly, even if the fouls were blatant.

Maybe I'll take a look at the standings to see who's winning.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Am I there? It feels like I am.

This week I've been working like a dog. But like a golden retriever more than a doberman. You know, catching balls, chasing cats, sleeping on the couch. But steadily working.

And I don't mean at my office job. Sure, there's tons of stuff there need my attention (which is why I'm in the office at 7:45 this morning) but my freelancing work has really picked up, and I'm thrilled about it. I'm now doing more writing than acquisitions editing (that's what I do in my office job), and I will now will officially call myself a writer without the disclaimer that in my office job I don't write at all. Because emails don't count.

But in the past two weeks I've been hired as a paid blogger for a great website where I'm learning cool tips like practical uses for olive oil, picked up some assignments at the Harvard Post [that's Harvard, MA and not Harvard University], and been contracted to write reading passages for two history textbooks that will be published by Discovery Education.

Success! Even though I've never had set career goals, I've always been good at writing. And as you tend to like what you are good at, I've always liked writing. Loved it. I never complained about having to write a paper in school, and looked for the classes where you had to write the 20-page research paper instead of take an exam. So I think I'm where I'm supposed to be in my career. Sure, I'm not writing Hollywood blockbusters or wining the Pulitzer (yet), and I totally fell asleep while writing my article Tuesday night on two public hearings because it was 1 AM and I had been up since 4:30 AM but had a 6 AM deadline to meet. My hands were on the keyboard still though. But that's the business.

And that is something that is important in writing. The schedule. I used to think that you had to schedule time to write--set aside a block of time to sit down at your large desk, overlooking your beachfront property with a cup of tea and a scone. But you know what? Scones are really bad for you, I love coffee, my desk is buried in junk and I don't live near the beach. Plus, if I were to schedule in a writing block, my powers of procrastination are so acute that I would probably retile the kitchen floor to avoid it. Because then it's a task. So I write in the few minutes between meetings, on my phone on the commute, and on my sofa at midnight with reruns of Friends on to keep me company.

I write like I breathe, naturally, unconsciously, and all the time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Introducing me as a paid blogger

I am now in official blog format!

Want to know how to workout on a tight budget? Read about it on SheBudgets

Check the site every Thursday for new articles by me! Will take suggestions for writing topics here in the comments section.