Saturday, September 29, 2007

Every heard of Freegans?


Ever heard of them?

Apparently, they are vegans (or at least vegetarians) who search others' garbage cans for produce and goods. They want to reduce the waste in this country (and in other countries as well, I assume) by "recycling" (or simply using) what some people would deem refuse.

This used to be called "dumpster diving", I think. Or maybe that's entirely different.

Can anyone out there enlighten us about freeganism? I've checked a variety of websites for info, but I'd enjoy hearing more "first hand" accounts or knowledge.

Friday, September 28, 2007

All the stink that's fit to print

In the comments section of my last post, Szelsofa asked to hear more about the stink bugs (also known as shield bugs) that have invaded our Pennsylvania area. I'll do one better and allow an expert to give her (and anyone else who is fascinated by crawling, flying creatures) the low-down.

This is a video starring the so-called "stink bugs" from WHP-TV, a local television station:

* I feel compelled to add here that I think very highly of the anchor. I know Sherry--she's a lovely woman and quite the professional.*

The little stinkers aren't innately harmful to humans, though I suppose it's conceivable that a person could be allergic to their musty, spicy aroma. (When they are frightened or--dare I admit to it?--squashed, they emit a most unpleasant odor.)

So that's the deal. You can find out more about these household pests by doing a quick search on the web. Now, I must go seek and destroy the interesting, but uninvited, invaders...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

just another rant

We are a society of uber communicators, frantically texting while driving on the freeway and filling My Space pages with tomes about every subject under the sun.

You would think that with all the writing practice people get on a day-to-day basis (thank you, Internet!) that their emails, articles and web pages would become grammatically tighter. Instead, I believe the art of writing (from an American perspective) has taken a turn for the worse.

Most people simply have never been taught how to write. It's a shame--and I don't know whether to fault parents, the school system, El Nino, Mother Nature, Father Time...?

I'm not talking about occasional typos, either. After all, I'm not above making the frequent faux pas myself.

Heck, I'm a freelance writer and I still ask myself, "Does a comma really belong there?"

Maybe I'm simply getting old (there's no "maybe" about it... I definitely am), but when I see "there", "they're" and "their" incorrectly used, I can't help but rant.

Has no one caught on that Microsoft Word's built-in thesaurus won't catch these kinds of errors?

Again, let me repeat that I am no angel.

I am not perfect.

I make mistakes, especially when I'm scrambling to meet a deadline, it's 3:15 a.m. and a stink bug (we have those in Pennsylvania and they are a pain in the tookus, but that's for another blog post) buzzes annoyingly around my head.

However, I innately realize that "to", "two" and "too" are NOT interchangeable.

I'm currently working on a book to help business professionals who want to become more proficient writers. Unfortunately, many of the worst habits I regularly see (such, as, the, comma, that, appears, everywhere or the insertion of "whom" when it doesn't belong) are so deeply ingrained that writers must be deprogrammed to start on the path to writing excellence.

Heaven help us if the generation growing up now only knows how to abbreviate (that definitely won't make me LOL or LMAO) and insert emoticons.

All I can say to that is a resounding


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The snack that keeps on giving

In a recent comment I made to Lori on her blog, I suggested she deal with her anger by purchasing and devouring some Middleswarth Bar-B-Q potato chips, a Pennsylvania treat that's unique to our area of the state.

(I think they can be found in grocery stores in New Jersey, Maryland, and parts of Virginia, too, but I'm not certain.)

[As an aside, I kind of swiped the image here from --couldn't find a copyright, so I'm hoping the company will forgive me since I'm basically praising their product to the hilt!]

I know of what I speak.

Middleswarth's munchies helped me get through years of teenage and twenty-something angst. Deliciously crunchy and salty-sweet, they were the perfect answer to a crappy boyfriend or ticked off parents. Just ask my BFF (I hate that abbreviation, but had to use it just this once) Sarah. She remembers!

Ironically, I haven't eaten any in years. I'm much more of a health food nut than I was two decades ago. But with all the mounting deadlines, the whole "is-my-son-going-to-cause-a-fuss-about-school" concerns, and the general stresses that come with being alive, I think I'll have to purchase at least a small bag.

If you have never tried this food of the gods, jump onto the link I've provided above. There, you can order (if you're in the 48 contiguous states, that is) a sampling of Middleswarth treats.

I can't promise that they'll take away your tension forever, but I can tell you that you'll remember them for their greasy goodness.

Happy noshing!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Warning: This Post Rated PG-13 for Adult Language

I'm tired today. Really tired. Drop dead tired. I'm functioning, I'm writing, I'm working, I'm playing, I'm reading, I'm grocery shopping, I'm organizing, I'm talking... but I'm damn tired.

On days like these when I've barely had any sleep to speak of, I get a little punchy at points. Now is one of those giggly moments. I can't stop laughing at bizarre things, like squirrels frolicking on the back deck or my dimpled thighs. (Oh, wait. Those aren't funny at all. Crap.)

Ironically, these times of utter fatigue have become the inspiration for a humorous (or not) book I'd like to write.

It's a book for adults that will look like a children's book. It will be called "Dragon Ass", a reference to the statement many of us woefully declare: "Man, my ass is draggin'."

The protagonist will be a lovable, but exhausted, dragon.

He'll spend the story having a series of sleep-related misadventures, kind of a reverse "Rip Van Winkle" experience. At the end, he'll finally lay his head down on the pillow just as the alarm rings.

At that point, he'll breathe fire onto the clock, melting it.

Happily, Dragon Ass will fall into a peaceful slumber.

Dragon Ass.

Say it out loud. I dare you.

Tell me, does it not make you chuckle?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Inner Sanctuary

I'm in a much less maudlin mood today. My sleep was crummy, but I've reset my emotional barometer and feel more in control of the son-going-to-preschool situation. In retrospect, I probably haven't given the whole notion a fighting chance. I must be patient; my child has a way of surprising me (and educating me, too.)

In other news, I didn't go to church this morning, even though it's Sunday. In fact, I never go to church. This fact makes me feel simultaneously free and terrified.

Truly, I've never found an organized religion that resonated with me or gave me any sense of peace. Every time I have attempted to become involved with a church or a group (always Christian-based, as a side note), I have ended up disappointed, confused and disillusioned. Typically, I slink away in disgust, unable to reconcile my questions about why the faith does what it does or expects what it expects.

Am I unusual? I'm not certain. I'm a part of so-called Generation X, a very interesting fusion of individuals who battle traditionalism but intellectually and emotionally seem to crave some kind of religion or communion.

Many Xers have turned to alternative religions and practices, including Wicca, Paganism, and Atheism (which I feel is a sort of religion in and unto itself.) But none of those options feel "right" to me.

Could it be that I'm destined to struggle with this my entire life? If so, I'm sure I'm not alone.

I've always been amazed by people who have that thing called FAITH that's so heralded, especially in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I just don't have that level of trust in something I cannot see or prove. Often, I find it difficult to even trust things I can see, for crying out loud!

My hope is that God (if there is a God) will understand my concerns and not penalize me for questioning something that so many others so freely and easily embrace.

I hope I'm not disappointed.

Dear God, are you there? It's me... Angelique...

(My apologies to Judy Blume for bastardizing one of her most beloved titles...)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A mother's heart

I write from many perspectives.

Sometimes, I write as an expert. Other days, I write as an observer. Once in a while, I write as a wife.

Tonight, I'm writing as a mother.

I'm worried.

More precisely, I'm worried about my son's future.

I'm not talking about anything too profound. I'm just concerned about the whole notion of school.

Unless you read my other blog, Quoibles, you might not realize that I've started him in a pre-kindergarten program at an academically-based, highly reputable franchise.

He goes to the school three days a week, four hours a day. I chose this direction for him because I felt he could learn a great deal from being around a more structured environment than I can offer him at home.

Specifically, I was hoping he'd:

- become more familiar with the concepts and expectations of a student-teacher relationship;
- begin to gain a new sense of independence and self-discipline; and
- learn exciting concepts/ideas.

But all that's happened so far is that he begs me every night before he goes to sleep NOT to send him to school.

He doesn't like it. He really doesn't like it.

And it's making me crazy.

Other mothers tell me to wait--in time, he'll adjust. He'll get used to it. He'll suck it up.

But I'm not sure I really want him to do that.

Maybe he shouldn't HAVE to like it. Maybe he cries for a reason. Maybe he needs something else, something different, something as unique as he.

I've gone so far as to investigate the possibility of homeschooling, at least for now and possibly kindergarten. That would mean more work for me and my husband, but I can already see it could be potentially rewarding.

What to do? (I'm open to suggestions.)

Though I plan to wait a few more months, I can't ignore this nagging sensation that what he's going through is unnecessary and somehow wrong.

To be perfectly fair, his teacher is lovely, the other kids are great... I just don't know if he's going to make himself so sick over going that it's going to break my heart in two.

A mother's heart can only take so much pounding before it shatters into a billion tiny tears.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm crushed !

As a pre-teen, I devoured the book Go Ask Alice. It absolutely terrified me.

For those of you unfamiliar with the work, it's heralded as the diary of a young gal who innocently gets involved in drugs, alcohol, prostitution and everything that goes with those poor life decisions. She spirals out of control and winds up in a mental hospital. Gripping.

I was mesmerized by it.

I read it over and over, so glad that she had kept a written trail of her journey into hell. And I was greatly disturbed to read the ending--she died of an accidental overdose.

Man, it scared me.

However, I was duped.

Apparently, it's well known (at least in the literary world) that the work is a fake, written by a preachy adult who wanted to horrify kids like me and set us on the straight and narrow path. Most analysts seem to feel that the tone of the diary is "off", that it sounds unlike a young person. Truly, I never noticed that--I fell for it entirely and never once questioned it.

It makes me wonder just how many of the memoirs and diaries out there are filled with half-truths and outright lies. No, wait... it doesn't make me wonder. It makes me certain that most of them have probably had the reality edited out of them and falsehoods added for "spice".

Hrumph. I don't like feeling foolish on such a beautiful Friday morning.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What's in a name?

I have read many blog postings about pen names vs. "real" names.

Personally, I have always liked my given name: Angelique. So I use it unless I'm ghostwriting for a client (which I often do.)

What I want to focus upon in this installment of Recess for Writers is the phenomenon of individuals who don't like their names. Maybe the names are kind of boring. Maybe they are too proper or stick-up-the-assish. Maybe they are too wacky or "dirty" sounding (Harry Dick, anyone? Dick Johnson?)

I'm curious to know if those people who don't care for their monikers use pen names as ways to kind of "become" the persons they really are (or long to be?) I mean, that would be fun... and cheaper than therapy (sorry, TIV... just a joke! I respect your profession, I really do!)

Because I'm in a punchy mood, I've been trying to come up with some ideas for names I would use if I couldn't (or didn't want to) use my own.

How about the following nom de plumes? Think they'd attract some traffic?

May Flowers
April Showers
June Breeze
Whiskey Bliss
Freda Frock
Catherine Calling
Georgia Peach
Amber Sunshine


Some sound a bit like names for exotic dancers, don't they?

So how would you want to be known if you were writing (or working) under an assumed name? Be bold! I need a good laugh!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A strange anniversary

September 19, 1987.

Twenty years ago.

My first date.

I was fifteen and very excited to be going out with a guy who had just turned sixteen. He was pleasant enough and seemed to like me. Or he liked that I liked him. Whatever.

It was a double date. The other guy drove and paid more attention to me than my date did. I think we ordered pizza and watched a movie or television or something.

I don't remember a gosh-darn thing as far as the details. Except, of course, that it was on September 19th.

I didn't kiss him.

We did that a week later, on September 26, 1987.

It was boring. He was too clinical about it. ("Lick your lips before we start. Tilt your head to the right. Keep your eyes closed." Yes, he actually said each of these things.)

I was disappointed. I wanted fireworks. I got a barely burning candle wick.

It took a while for my love life to improve... almost a decade, really.

Happy anniversary, teenage self.

You've come a long way, baby.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

But will they respect me in the morning?

Why does trying to snag freelance jobs feel so much like dating?

It starts with the attraction thing. A fascinating job offer. An attractive pay rate. A come-hither call-to-action.

My eyebrows raise, my pulse increases.

I'm hooked.

So I scramble, trying to make myself as comely a writing wench as I can.

I dress up my resume, spiff up my clips, create the most incredible cover letter east of the Mississippi. And to make sure my target hottie knows I'm serious, I add plenty of methods to make the hunt as easy as pie. My phone number. My cell number. My email address. My blog address. My snail mail address.

Then, I send off my little "call me, we'll do lunch" packet and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Days pass. Flowers wilt on the windowsill. I rumple an embroidered handkerchief in my fingers. The candle burns down to a grotesquely-shaped blob.

Finally, the email comes.

It's from an automatic source. It starts off: "Dear Applicant".

My stomach plummets to my curled toes.


I read it thrice.

I dust myself off.

I find something intrinsically wrong with the job. It was truly dull. It would have taken me away from other projects. I would have become disenchanted with the client.

I tell myself it wasn't "meant to be".

I laugh.

But I never forget the one that got away.

Eventually, another call for submissions catches my eye... could this be... the one?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Saboteurs

Why do erstwhile professionals sabotage their own reputations so darn often?

I have seen it happen over and over, not simply in the "brick and mortar" corporate world but also in the work-at-home arena. It drives me to distraction just thinking about the strange ways some persons wind up undermining their own possibilities of success.

Indulge me for a moment while I take you on journey into my past to illustrate some of the self-saboteurs I've known. (Names have been changed, not because I enjoyed being around these individuals, but because being sued would kind of mess up my plans.)

"KAREN" (circa 1995)

"Karen" resided in the cubicle next to me and spent her days whining on the phone. This was not her job, mind you. Every five seconds (give or take), she was contacting her babysitter. Usually, those conversations started on a high note and ended abruptly when the kids (preschool-age at the time) wouldn't say anything to their Mommy. In desperation, she would begin yelling at them. Then, someone would hang up.

Her other phone companion was her husband. They had a volatile union. Typically, he would "hunt her down" if she wasn't at her desk when he called. But before you immediately call him an abuser, know that SHE did the same. (Remember, these were pre-cell phone days. You couldn't immediately connect with someone the way you can now.) Almost every morning and afternoon, they would have a rousing fight. And I, separated from her by light gray cubby fabric, could only sit and listen and learn.

Oh, and when she wasn't on the telephone, she would seek out other office mates to discuss... you guessed it... her strife-filled home life.

Ironically, she was given a few promotions. Maybe her managers just wanted to get rid of her. I know I did.

"JESSE" (circa 2001)

"Jesse" and I worked together in a very attractive, good-paying professional environment. I was her supervisor, and she always had a crisis. Each day was a soap opera drama come to life.

At first, I believed her stories and even thought, "That's terrible! She's really has had such a run of bad luck." Soon, though, I realized that her misfortune was nothing more than the product of an overactive imagination and the need to be important.

Jesse's cell phone rang constantly. Interestingly enough, when she was focused on her work, she could get quite a bit done... but it usually was only half-completed. It "worked" in the short-term, but in the long-term, we'd find out Jesse had overlooked some components of the job. No, we weren't doing anything life-or-death, but we had clients and they counted on us to do everything up to a certain standard.

Jesse was exhausting. Jesse became boring. Jesse made me angry. Jesse was eventually fired.

"GAIL" (circa 1999)

"Gail" was my manager. She never bothered to tell anyone anything; somehow, we were supposed to absorb her commands and desires by osmosis.

She was very religious and touted Bible passages whenever the opportunity struck... and the opportunity struck quite often. Someone came to work at our company who was a Buddhist; he left rather quickly.

Gail gave me much responsibility, but no resources. I was a supervisor, but I had no supervisory control, really. I couldn't make decisions, couldn't give promotions, couldn't offer raises... BUT I was asked to "discipline" quite a few people. I think Gail recognized that I could deliver some hard blows with compassion--something she didn't want to do (nor was she capable of doing, if I am to be honest.)

I don't know what happened to Gail. I literally left the job in tears because I was so frustrated. I felt as if I was working with crazy people. I suppose Gail could still be exercising some sort of Christian-based management techniques. I'm not against Christianity, mind you, but I am against bad supervision.

What do these stories mean? For me, they have strangely been wonderful lessons. They have taught me that I NEVER want to be "the unprofessional one."

I don't want to be the person who isn't able to remain calm. I don't want to be the person who constantly irritates others. I don't want the person who obtains promotions simply because I'm a pain in the ass and my manager wants to pass me along.

Any of you have similar stories or pet peeves?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Time to Clean

I have a secret that's not-so-secret to anyone who comes to my house:

I hate to clean.

I love to write, love to play with my son, love to perform, love to instruct, love to sleep, love to eat, love to chat, love to analyze dreams, love to read, love to cook, but I...


I tell myself on a daily basis that I'm working hard--freelancing, mommying, wifeing, best friending. It sort of makes me feel a little less of a failure. But I know in the back of my mind that I'm definitely doggin' it when it comes to the cleaning thing. So I've made a big decision: I'm going to have to contact a cleaning service.

I feel strangely ashamed, as if asking for help were a crime, a sin, an admittance of guilt.

I was brought up with the notion that every woman could have time for every thing, including a great family life, a fulfilling (and lucrative) career, and the ability to make tiles shine.

This hasn't happened.

If I were to honestly "grade" myself, the report card would look something like this:

Writing: A- (need to become better organized)
Mommy Stuff: B+ (need to play with son more often)
Appearance: C (need to work on the hair)
Wife Stuff: C+ (need to find more time to be with my husband alone)
Friend Stuff: B (need to stay in touch!)
Acting: A- (it can always be a little better!)
Community Service: B (need to find more time to help others)
Teaching: B (need to pump up my class more)
Cleaning: F- (needs more improvement than could possibly be described in this report card)

Oh, well. At least I got that B+ in Mommying...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I am woman... hear me meow

As a freelancer, I'm usually all business. However, I do have one nemesis--getting tough.

Quite honestly, I never learned how to ask for things I deserve, such as payment within a certain time frame. Instead, I try to figure out the least offensive way to obtain past due invoices. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.

Am I a product of upbringing? Culture? Personality?

It's a conundrum.

I believe one of the contributing factors is that the American language offers no positive word for a woman who takes charge. She's a bitch, a witch, a ball buster (which is a funny term to me, but that's probably because I don't have a pair of uber-vulnerable testicles attached to my body) or a whole host of other less-than-attractive monikers.

Why can't a female who stands up for herself as a business person simply be considered "normal"? Why is it that she's labeled as if she were a mythical creature coming to terrorize man- and womankind?

Obviously, it's time for me to do something about my lack of initiative in this area. I mean, I can't blog about it if I'm not willing to put forth an effort to combat this issue.

I think the key is to distance myself emotionally from money and business relationships. I'll have to begin thinking like a mob kingpin: "It ain't personal." That sort of thing.

For now, though, I am not the "roaring" female figure that was heralded in the tune "I Am Woman". I'm more like a persistent (but lovable) kitty.

It's that "nice" thing again, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Animal Spirit Guides

The notion of every person having an animal "spirit guide" fascinates me. Just think about having an invisible, yet extremely powerful, entity ready to fight for you, help you, and inspire you.

But there's always been an aspect of the whole spirit guide thing that bothers me: Everyone has the same guides. Panthers. Leopards. Tigers. Eagles.

Where is the rat? The skunk? The slug?

I mean, don't those beings get the chance to become animal spirit guides, too? Or is there some test that needs to be passed before a creature has the opportunity to become a guide? Perhaps written and oral exams.

Journey with me to the forest for a moment...

Beaver: [opening mail] Dang it! Another rejection from the Spirit Guide Committee of North America.

Weasel: Yeah, I got one, too.

Beaver: It's that stupid multiple choice section. I always mess up! I'm no good at standardized tests.

Weasel: For me, it's the reading comprehension. I run out of time.

Beaver: [sighing] I guess I'll just go build a dam. Damn.


Out of curiosity, I did a search on Google and found out that all animals ARE allowed the opportunity to be spirit guides! Check out this site on Shamanism here.

What do you know? You really DO learn something every day! But I still think that no one would go around saying, "Guess what? I'm a raccoon!"

Monday, September 10, 2007

Adults, please don't try this at home

After blogging about the Top 10 Lies (check out the original post below), I told myself another one (which perhaps should be number 0):

#0: "I won't fall for any of the Top 10 Lies again!"

Uh, huh.

"Denial" ain't just a river in Egypt. (I heard that statement on Saturday Night Live in the late 1980s and have loved it ever since.)

Which Lie worked its way into my thinking? Number nine. The Mountain Dew one.

Now, I actually do not drink Mountain Dew for a caffeine kick, but I do imbibe modest amounts of diet Coke or Pepsi (I prefer the former) on a pathetically regular basis.

Consequently, last night at around 7:00 p.m. I innocently (or not) decided to guzzle more than my fair share of caffeinated drinks because I was feeling a little low on energy. Dumb, dumber, dumbest. I wound up tired and agitated. I couldn't sleep. I had a caffeine-induced headache that ibuprofen would never touch. I couldn't focus. Foolish.

Adults, when you're 17, you can get away with using caffeine. But once you hit the 30 mark, it's time to make a change.

Just. Don't. Do. It. (It's like a reverse Nike ad.)

This morning, I'm still edgy thanks to my extra 12 ounces of cola, and I'm awaiting the inevitable crash and burn. I am going to have to be extra careful not to chew anyone's head off. How could it be that a bit of bubbly cola turns me into a wolverine?

In any case, be warned on this lovely Monday morning. (I actually LIKE Mondays. That's how geeky I am.) That cup o' caffeine may taste swell, but it's bound to send you on a nasty, jittery adventure.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Top 10 Lies Freelance Writers Tell Themselves

10. "This piece couldn't possibly be improved!"

9. "One more can of Mountain Dew won't affect me..."

8. "I can interview someone over the phone when my kids are in the room because they are old enough to be quiet for mommy/daddy."

7. "I'm too smart to fall for a writing scam and subsequently get stiffed for money."

6. "I'll have the energy to finish this later after the kids are in bed and I've done the dishes, folded the laundry and written out the week's bills."

5. "I'll just take a peek at a couple of blogs--it won't take more than a couple minutes."

4. "I'll just write at the dining room table tonight... but it won't be an every day thing."

3. "The client I have today will be the client I have tomorrow."

2. "I don't have time to submit queries."

1. "Now I'm finally one of the 'cool' kids."

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Must. Look. Young.

I have had the great privilege for the past six years to contribute to the community in a most unique way: I perform a one-woman play on relationship violence at many of the area's high schools.

The 30-minute performance entitled "The Yellow Dress" deals with signs of abuse, the reasons people stay in abusive partnerships, and the consequences of not trusting (or listening to) your instincts. Each performance is followed by a 20-30 minute panel discussion (the panel consists of professionals from the region who specialize in helping victims of abuse pick up the pieces.)

Students can ask questions and get direct answers. No subject is taboo. After each performance, I always leave the school with a sense of wonder at what some of these kids are dealing with in their personal lives. (They tend to really "open up".) It's amazing any of them can function at all.

(As an aside, the group that organizes each performance is The Donald Heiter Community Center, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. They are a phenomenal community resource and I am awed by what they are able to accomplish.)

Being able to educate young crowds of up to 300 students and teachers has been so fulfilling... but there's a problem that's been brewing for the past two years: I have to look like "one of them." (Or at least look like I'm in my early-to-mid twenties.)

At 35, that isn't easy.

Fortunately, I've been blessed with "good" genes. However, the day is fast approaching when I simply can no longer fool teenagers into believing that I'm close to their ages. No matter what I wear, no matter how well I can act, the lines on my face are a dead giveaway that I have several years under my belt.

I've never been what you'd call "vain"--make-up is something I only occasionally wear, and my fashion sense is woefully lacking. However, I've begun to investigate "firming" creams and moisturizers in the hopes of eking out another year or two of doing this play. I feel almost guilty for doing so, as if I'm trying to cheat Mother Nature or Father Time or any of their kids. (You knew they were married, right?)

Is it wrong for me to want to continue doing this play? I'm not certain. I do love it dearly, and although it's emotionally demanding, it's one of my favorite roles from a theatrical perspective. (And I've had plenty in the 25+ years I've been addicted to the stage!)

So I'm constantly telling myself, "You must look young." All the while, I know that I cannot stop growing older. (And, let's face it... I'd much rather keep celebrating birthdays than stop living.)


No one said being an adult would be easy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Back to Being a Professional

After yesterday's post (which turned to an impromptu conversation about "spitting" in the comments section, much to my delight), I thought I'd turn my sights to something more directly related to the business of freelancing: Invoices.

Much has been written about when to send invoices, how to collect outstanding payments (check out Words on the Page, Lori's blog, for some awesome ideas to make sure you're not missing out on paychecks!) and how to document your earnings. Thus, what I'd like to talk about today is the need for a professional-looking invoice.

To give you a bit o' background (less delicious than Bit O' Honey, a favorite candy from my childhood... delish!... but I digress...), I've been using the same basic invoice for over three years. It functions well, but looks a little... well... homemade. I know, homemade is kitchy and fun, but not when it comes to money.

I have been aware for a while that I needed to update my invoice, but it took a recent overdue (MUCH overdue) project to finally got me thinking: Would clients take my requests for remuneration more seriously if my invoice looked more corporate?

You can guess what my answer was.

Not sure where to start, I headed to trusty old MS Word for some template ideas--there were a ton. So I used a basic one, fashioned it a tad to make it fit my needs, and--voila!--it was complete. Easier than a three-legged dog running downhill.

(Yep, I made that analogy up. It sounds stupid, I agree, but makes me smile so I'm keeping it in the posting. Still, I'd like to make it clear that I'm not making fun of three-legged dogs, cats, or any critters who have lost a limb. I've owned three-legged animals and loved them dearly. It was just the first thing that popped into my mind. And the word "three-legged" has a silly rhythm to it. Please don't accuse me of being another Michael Vicks. I'm not. I can assure you of that. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...)

As of right now, I have only sent out a couple of these new-and-improved invoices. Therefore, I can't say whether they will make a noticeable difference in how quickly I receive payments. But no matter what, I actually feel more business-like than ever before. Perhaps that's more important than anything else.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

the opposite of "cool"

As readers of this blog (especially those who are friends offline) already know, my son starts pre-K today. In a few hours, he'll get his first taste of classroom life... and I'll have time to work (if I'm not crying profusely and bemoaning my lack of a little buddy.)

In honor of this momentous occassion, I've been thinking about times as a school girl when I thought I was "cool". Of course, I was woefully geeky, but I didn't know it then... enjoy these anecdotes!

- When I was about eight or nine, I loved to go to the roller skating rink in our small Pennsylvania town. Nothing made me feel cooler than "feathering" my hair with a big rectangular comb while skating. (Incidentally, the comb was bright orange and bore the words "Hot Stuff".) I wore terry cloth shorts for that extra special touch. I never understood why the guys didn't flock to me. Now I know.

- When I was in fifth grade, I decided it would be awesome to wear bell bottomed jeans to school. (Bell bottoms were no longer in style, by the way.) That very same day, our class videotaped a play and my best friend, Sarah, and I couldn't stop cracking up because those darned pants swayed so insistently, even when I was standing still. Did I mention that I was also chubby and in a decidedly "awkward" stage of life? Not a pretty sight.

- When I was just starting first grade, I brought a purse to class. I believe it was dark blue faux leather with a white daisy clasp. I put tissues in it and probably other stuff as well. I felt so "grown up" that I just had to keep interrupting the teacher to show it off. I don't remember the outcome, but I'm sure that she didn't think I was cute as a button!

Today, I look back on these (and many, many other) memories with mixed emotions. On the one hand, they are retrospectively embarrassing. On the other hand, they greatly amuse me.

I wonder what "uncool" school moments my munchkin will recall when he's in his mid-thirties?

Saturday, September 1, 2007


A horoscope based on colors? Why not?

Here's your "Hue-a-Scope" for the coming week (Sunday, September 2nd - Saturday, September 8th).* I hope it's a wonderful one!

(* For entertainment purposes only, as they say!)

ARIES: Gold ~ You have the magic touch--go forth and allow your alchemy to shine!

TAURUS: Red ~ Be passionate and fiery. Remember that life is short!

GEMINI: Orange ~ Allow your creativity to reign and don't be sucked into conformity.

CANCER: Purple ~ You deserve to be treated royally, so don't allow yourself to settle for second best.

LEO: Black ~ A deep, serious thoughtfulness can often lead to serendipitous discoveries. Embrace contemplation.

VIRGO: Yellow ~ You will be a bright spot in someone's life and bring smiles and delight wherever you journey.

LIBRA: White ~ The world in its purest forms awaits you. Be vulnerable enough to accept honesty.

SCORPIO: Blue ~ Family has special meaning. What you thought you knew about those you love is only half the story.

SAGITTARIUS: Pink ~ There is a newness to your life this week. Look upon all the fresh possibilities with the eyes of a child.

CAPRICORN: Gray ~ You feel a strong bond with something that's been a part of your life since you were a youngster. Remember, though, that letting go is often more important than holding tight.

AQUARIUS: Green ~ Nature calls! (No, not that way!) Pay special attention to the earth, sky and animals around you. They have much to say.

PISCES: Silver ~ This week takes on a gossamer shine as you happily experience one positive revelation after another.