My Novels

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Like the far...

Friday was my first day, of course, and it was a bit overwhelming! First off, the QuarkXPress/NewsEditPro IQue programs for editing/designing newspaper pages runs on Apple iMac! I've never used a Mac in my life, and though similar to Microsoft PC features, there's some differences in keys, etc. That will take time to be comfortably familiar with, as well as learning the tools in the IQue programs.

I did sort through some ad sheets for an upcoming special, helped other editorial staff do write-ups for that feature. Basically that consists of condensing three pages of information to about 4 or 5 paragraphs of writing. Fun, yep! There will be quite a bit of this type material to do in my position.

I had written a column for Sunday's newspaper, about my step-dad and it came out today. I thought honoring a good step-dad would be a little different than the usual biological father material for Father's Day. My mother called, had read it, and just loved it, said I "captured" step-dad's personality perfectly. Nice to know.

Yesterday I worked all afternoon, helping proof/edit the front page and hard news features. Wrote brief headers, some headlines, etc. Stayed completely and utterly absorbed, which is what I LOVE about working in a news room. You literally cannot worry/fret about life, since the activity level and concentration keep you completely occupied. I also observed the news editor designing pages, explaining various features/tools of the IQue program, and brought home several technical books I've been wading through slowly.

I like everyone I've met there, so far. Two women will be helping me with Lifestyle sections, and we also use freelancers. That is great, because I have a packet of notes about story ideas for Lifestyle, and can sometimes assign these to freelancers and/or other reporters. I would like to have a full-time reporter working just for Lifestyle, but that probably won't happen until after July 8th, when our new managing editor arrives.

Since I am on salary, my hours are flexible. So long as I get the work done, I can arrive/depart when I wish. I'll have two major week-day deadlines, and if I can stay ahead of those, it should be easier. Nothing like trying to deal with daily hard news deadlines, which can be exhausting. When I did copy editing, NOTHING went to press before I looked it over. That meant sometimes I didn't leave the building till around midnight. I don't mind working past 8:00 but don't think I'd like staying much later.

Tomorrow morning I have medical tests scheduled for daybreak at the outpatient center. Doctor wants an ultra-sound to see if my gall-bladder might be causing this constant acid reflux. My stomach has improved over the past two days, since I quit drinking so much skim milk. I read an article that stated even skim milk has a kind of protein that can cause stomach irritation. And I was drinking a lot, since it first soothed my stomach -- but noticed it rebounded, and got worse. We'll see, I guess; just glad it's not hurting as much.

Next Sunday afternoon we're all having a "company picnic" at a nearby lake. Should be interesting, and I only have to bring plastic plates/glasses.

Rambo has a case of "separation anxiety." Poor fellow, he followed me everywhere when I came home the first day, whining, giving me reproachful looks. I'm trying to adapt them to another routine, and even let them mingle with the cats last night. No incidents, though the cats hissed and growled. Oscar went out the cat-door onto their porch, and when he didn't come back, I looked out to find him eating the cats' food! It is Iams, and he sure was thirsty later. He seemed to like being out there, but the cats were aggravated; I'd never leave them together when I'm gone. But they all need to learn to get along at night, so I can spend time with ALL of them in the evenings. I'll be gone most of the day, and I know Rambo and Oscar will need more attention at night. I do take them on a walk soon as I get home in the afternoon. And they still love it. I'll end with this recent photo of Rambo:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Got the job!!!

If that doesn't call for three exclamation points, nothing ever will!

I am now officially the new Lifestyle Editor at our local newspaper! This is one of those times you want to pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming. I waltzed into the publisher's office and put on my best presentation, and he, obviously, was sold. And as icing on the cake, I am getting a FAN-TAS-TIC salary! More than I've ever earned in my life, and very close to what DH was earning when he died. Not quite as much, but close enough that I'll be back in the same wage bracket. Additionally, health insurance coverage within three months!

I start Friday morning, and will probably just get the "lay of the land" that day and Saturday. There is a Saturday edition, and I guess I'll get one weekday in addition to Sunday off. I don't really care, to be honest, because I'm about to go stir-crazy here. And if there's one thing for sure: I'll be forced to write articles. I'll have plenty to keep me busy there, and no reason to hurry back home -- long hours are on the agenda.

Apparently the managing editor (who is still in Texas) was impressed with my online writing and/or website, and this helped me get the job. Whooboy, now I must live up to their expectations -- but I will try my best NOT to disappoint them. I'm sure there will be a few sharp learning curves in my future, but such deep concentration will allow me to end the frustration and recurring memories that have had me mired down here the past few months.

I dug out my small tape-recorder today, checked it out, just in case I have to go out on an interview soon. It's always good to have one handy, so you can use it and refer back to get quotes. Notebook and pen are good too, but a recorder is an asset.

I will miss my pets, particularly the dogs during the day, but they will be allowed access to the doggie door, and can stay either inside or outside. The cats, of course, have their own quarters. I can be with them in the afternoons/evenings and off-days.

Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment; my acid reflux has been acting up, along with my allergies. NO MORE LAWN-MOWING for me, yippee!

Of course, this calls for a shopping trip -- and maybe not to a thrift store this time!

This has been a day to remember, a real gemstone found amongst the rough-edged pebbles of my life for the past year-and-half.

Wish me luck on accomplishing the tasks, fulfilling my wishes to be a successful editor.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Interesting development...

Just a brief update: Got a call from the local newspaper publisher, wants me to come in for an interview tomorrow at 10:00.

Good, bad, indifferent?

I'm not sure how I feel, but I am going for the interview, and see exactly what they have in mind -- workload, hours, PAY/BENEFITS. I am covered by Cobra insurance (full med/drug), and should be for another two years -- but any money I make will surely help build funds for paying that. Or if, by chance, I get this position and LIKE it, I can switch over to their insurance benefits.

At least I have something to look forward to for now, though of course, an interview is just an interview. And like I stated in my last post: "Just roll with it..."

Sister will be here around noon, may go shop for a decent clothing outfit.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday afternoon thoughts...

I'm feeling in a fine mood this afternoon, just thought I'd write an update.

I haven't heard from the newspaper yet, but the new editor isn't starting till July 16th, so I'm sure they are in the midst of mind-boggling change. And IF I don't hear anything, that's okay too. As the lyrics of a pop song says, "Just roll with it..."

Anyway, I went shopping a bit earlier, just picked up some supplies and stuff for my spoiled-silly pets! If I die and ever come back (reincarnation) I sure hope I'm a spoiled silly dog or cat!

I bought a great pair of walking shoes several months ago when my knees were giving problems, but had not really worn those much due to needing a lot of padding. Today the cheap pair I'd been padding with inserts finally gave up the ghost, and I put a padded insert in the expensive shoes -- which prevent pro-nation (why I have knee trouble, partly) and wow! these are wonderful! I walked through several stores, NO pain, NO problem. It's almost like having a new set of knees, really! So many people have knee/foot problems that relate to the specific way their feet hit the ground -- rolling inward or outward. Any shoe store that has running shoes can help you with that, even without an orthopedic doctor. Anyhow, I'm hoping this will mean I can keep walking my dogs...

Every now and then, I revisit my own website The Prose Menagerie and read a story I haven't read in a long time. It's like some authors say: we have forgotten just exactly how the story unfolds...and it's as if...we think, "Wow, did I really write that?!" I'm astonished sometimes to realize I do have a gift for story-telling, and feel guilty for not writing more now. Maybe I'll have to resort to the tactics in Stephen King's horror novel, Misery in which a writer is trapped by a psychotic fan who forces him to write again! I hope not, but sometimes I think FORCE might be the only way to get me writing fiction again. And the irony is that I actually LOVE writing fiction, living in the fictional world, but...just getting started seems to be daunting these days.

Otherwise, still dry, hot, arid. Are we living in a desert or what? Starting to feel that way. I did get out and use the riding mower to knock down several large spots of weeds in the backyard yesterday afternoon...and stirred up a dust storm. Won't do that again till there's some rain!

Outta here for now...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pain or Paralysis?

For out of nothing comes nothing. But out of suffering may come the cure. Better have pain than paralysis. --Florence Nightingale

And this has been my dilemma after passing the first sad-anniversay of DH's death: Do I let the pain cause paralysis, or throw myself into SOMETHING, no matter what? At times these past few months I feel like I have become invisible, which in itself is not that bad. And I DO like my alone time, but after 24/7 day after day, a couple of weeks being begin to feel, well, a little strange. No matter how you enjoy the solitude, it's a different ball-game 24/7 unending.

Sure I get out -- take the dogs on walks, ride my bike (unless it's been too hot, like the last couple days), go shopping, see family occasionally. Yet I feel adrift, lost in the sea of my life. I know that a certain cure would be to force myself back into creative writing, a story, a novel. But for the past few years, having been so busy with renovating the farmhouse, loss of husband, selling house/farm, moving, etc. I have gotten out of practice. Discipline is necessary for any writing, but especially for writing fiction. I have, of course, written the memoir -- and in all honesty, I can't say it was cathartic, more like the MOST depressing thing I've ever had to write. And I can still tinker with it, improve possibly here and there, but have simply had to "let it go" for now, or go completely mad.

Hence in a weak moment, I sent off a resume/clippings for the Lifestyle Editor position open at our local newspaper. Really didn't think I'd hear anything, but yesterday afternoon the guy who will be managing editor (and is still employed in Texas) called and said the publisher had given him my name, information. We talked awhile, he asked various questions and I answered -- probably not enthusiastically enough. (Hey, age will do that to you! Ha!) Nevertheless, I emailed him some ideas this morning, and don't know if I'll hear back or not. Either way, I'm okay with it. IF interviewed, offered the position, I'll consider it right; if not, I can surely deal with that. I DID suggest I'd be more interested in part-time work, should something become available; at my age, and not NEEDING to earn income, don't know if I'm capable of a full-time, stressful position.

At any rate, that is what has been happening here. It's so dry, we're in such a draught, I can just take the electric weedeater out and whack down any stray weeds that happen to thrive; most of the yard looks practically DEAD. Don't dare mow, for fear it'll kill what is left. And I'm certainly not going to water grass, only to create a lawn-mowing job which I hate. I simply cannot LIKE the nasty, gritty, horrible physical labor of lawn-mowing, even with a riding mower. Should I go back to work, I'll hire it done.

It is smothering, stifling HOT outside, so bad that I've not been on the bike ride in two days. Late in the afternoon, I do take my dogs for a walk around the block, and even then, they (and I) are exhausted upon return.

Haven't slept well the past few nights, have no idea why -- possibly just feeling uncertain about the future. I think tonight I'll read Jane Eyre, the novel I've been rereading lately (GREAT) in bed before trying to sleep.

Sister/bro-in-law returned from vacation, and other sister went home. Don't mind saying, it was a stressful week for all of us -- since sister brought mother here several times, and frankly, it is getting more and more difficult for me to keep up a pretense of mother's presence NOT causing me emotional turmoil, due to the ongoing situation at my sister's home where mother is living.

Now I think I'll go eat some of the delicious chicken breast/brown rice I cooked in the crockpot today. Yum! I'll end with this recent picture of Oscar -- he's getting a bit tubby!