Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm a blurber, too.

Oh, this is cool. Back when I wrote for AOL/Lemondrop, I interviewed the author of Sex At Dawn, an amazing book about monogamy, fidelity, and bonobo apes that you really must read. And he blurbed me! Or I blurbed him. I'm in his blurbs. We're blurbing. Someone who works at CafeMom alerted me to this because she'd just finished the book and wanted to discuss it in depth. How cool! Also: I need a book group.

But mostly, I'm so flattered, and I so miss writing for AOL. Those were really fun stories. Well, that just means I should pitch some more. So off I go.

It's Saturday night, by the way. Husband and I are sitting with our laptops facing each other, both working. It's a huge relief to be catching up, but now I have to forge ahead. Yep, big night in for mommy and daddy. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm becoming a commenter!

This isn't a byline, but I'm acting like it is -- I wrote a Letter to the Editor of the NYT Magazine, and it got printed! I sent it in via email and thought nothing of it, since I thought they called to confirm before printing anything, but a friend posted it on my Facebook wall on Saturday. I'm pleased as punch!

I'll admit that I almost said "kittens" instead of "marshmallow Peeps" as a nod to Zooey Deschanel, but thought I would be the only one who noticed.

In the olden days, I used to listen to my then-local daytime NPR shows (Brian Lehrer and Leonard Lopate) in lieu of chatting with office mates. It's an old freelancer trick. And when the loneliness (and need to procrastinate) got to be too much to bear, I would call in and lend them my thoughtful thinky thoughts on whatever they were talking about that day. I did this so often that my friend Cindy would tune in while dropping off her kids just to see if I was on that day. I'd call in, yap, then watch my email to see if she was listening. (Freelancing is very, very lonely, people.)

I've called in to the local shows here, too, but it's not as satisfying. But since my friend KJ has been writing for Motherlode at the NYT, I've been commenting like crazy on her posts. Lucky for you (and my pride) that i can't link directly to them. Go on over to Motherlode and read and comment for yourself, and see if you can spot me there.

Meanwhile, back to work. Actually, I'll have to work later -- I have an interview today with a really terrific kids' clothing company that needs a copywriter. If they pay me in pinafores, I'M IN!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Deeper Pitches

This week was much improved. I've been hitting deadlines and getting promising responses to better-paying pitches, and had a terrific tryout for a new copywriting client. Oh, and another client -- a startup -- was just "acquired," and I'm being called in to discuss the new playing field (and pay scale) with the new owners.

But daily blogging v. reporting an article are two different skills. Back at home, I would bounce back and forth, every few years, between writing and editing, and it was always a relief no matter which way I went. Change is refreshing! It's harder now, though. I don't know if my brain has atrophied like my hamstrings, or if these two skills are farther apart, but it feels like more of a challenge to shift from "poop out this blog post NOW!" to "Do several layers of research, work up a deeper pitch, get approved, and then put the rest of the research you already did into the article. Then revise it."

Wait, it is more of a challenge. That's why it's better to read ... and why it pays more. RIGHT. News flash to Arianna Huffington: you get what you pay for.

Okay, off to do some actual research. Oy, my brain-hamstrings.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Adjusted expectations

Phew. I have changed my schedule around a bit so that I can hit my deadlines, and it feels a lot better than, you know, not doing that. But I'm feeling a bit forlorn about two recent job prospects that didn't pan out.

Plus -- and this is weird -- someone in the internets got upset about an article I wrote in -- let me check. March of 2005. I interviewed I guy about some singles parties he was running and wrote a very brief article about the trend. Six years later, the online magazine was still using the content, and another guy who eventually bought the rights to these parties (this is a living?) started harassing me on LinkedIn and Twitter because he wanted me to change something in this six-year-old article.

First of all, seriously? Why do people think the writers with the byline have the least bit of control over what happens to this copy after we hand it in? In the olden days, if you had an embarrassingly bad story under your byline, meh, big deal. The issue would be gone in a month and nobody would remember. Now it's all trapped in amber and on view for all time, like Han Solo in the carbonite. Uch, it was just annoying to deal with this doofus complaining at me.

Meanwhile I'm pitching an old contact at a site I loved writing for -- gotta keep plugging away. Oh: the girls fell asleep an hour early because I haven't changed the clocks in my house. Everybody's happier this way, and I'm pitching and posting like a champ. For now.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Late night. Must work. Legos!

I can't fucking flip a picture in blogger? For crap's sake. Fine. You get the idea. I ran out of time, Randy had to go to work, and here i am, trying to get at least one of my two posts done. arrrrhhghghgsflksjalfkfjla. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where'd I put that?

Where? Where did I put the image files for this story? I had them all collected. See. This is why people use Evernote and Scrivener. I would use those if I had the 30 minutes to sit and focus and do their tutorials. Maybe I put them in Pinterest! they're not there. oh for crap's sake. okay. I AM REALLY TIRED BY THE WAY. Like "the taste of coffee keeps me from closing my eyes" tired. agajagajagajaga. ok back to work. nice to see you all, by the way, you're looking well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Job Interview

GAAAAH I JUST INTERVIEWED FOR THE WORLD'S MOST PERFECT JOB!!!! argh. I hate when this happens. Mustn't get hopes up. Though even if it doesn't work out, I've GOT to get some great freelance work out of it.

I'm reminded of the sketch on Saturday Night Live where a bunch of girls adjust the song "Tell Him" to actual dating. On the first date, you tell him that you don't want kids, that you never want to get married, etc. But with jobs, you DO tell 'em that you're always gonna love them, tell 'em that you're never gonna leave them, and the rest. Argy blargy.

All right. As with dating, there's no point worrying right now -- better get back to work (for the next 20 minutes) because the more I work, the better I look. This entire metaphor has now crumbled to the ground like the tower of Babel. Thank you and good day.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Workin' on a Sunday

a Sunday a Sunday cuz that's how this week weeeeeent. Okay, also planning birthday party, but hoping to catch up and get ahead anyway. Thing is, I need to talk to my editors and change my schedule and, instead, I'm just starting each day with the vain hope that this is the day I'll suddenly work 5 times faster than ever before. This is not just a problem in my work life; I am late 75% of the time to either pick up or drop off Penny, even when I'm working a shift at the co-op, and Randy says I have no concept of what time is or how long things take. He's right. And with that, off I go to write about OH SHIT the jack o'lantern post!!! i have to take one more photo. okay. bye.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Here's how yesterday went

So you know how they say that being a working mom means you're always letting someone down? Yesterday I put that into action.

When I ran out of office time at 10:30, I had only gotten one post done. But I was really really close to having the second one done, too, and I knew if I could just grab a half hour of quiet time, I'd reach that day's minimum baseline goal. I know, wow, really reaching for the stars here.

Now, Penny was at preschool, and my afternoon shift at her co-op didn't start for a while, so I tried working with Abby at my feet, playing with blocks. She needed to snuggle, so I moved her onto my lap. Snuggling turned into napping, and I thought, "Bingo! I'm gonna get this sucker done."

This is where things get muddy. The alarm went off on my phone, playing the opening of "Camp Granada" and telling me to get going for my work shift. My mind then did a switcheroo: "I set that early, so I'd have time to get dressed after it went off, right? So I have a half hour?"

I looked at the clock. I was supposed to be at school at 12:20. But for the morning shift, I arrive at 8:50. So somehow my brain turned that into "I don't have to be there till 12:50, I can get this done!" I typed and posted feverishly, and got the damn thing in.

I was just pushing the "publish" button when my phone rang. It was Teacher Tom. "You're supposed to be here!" he said. And my brain suddenly sproinged back into the real world, and I realized what I had done. Amazing: I completely self-sabotaged in the interest of making a deadline.

I was so mortified, so absolutely embarrassed (this is only the most recent in a string of late-pickups, tardy-arrivals, and school-screwups), that I briefly considered not showing up at all, hiring someone to pick up Penny, and moving to another state, but I faced the music and worked the rest of my shift with appropriate humility.

I'd like to say I'm ditching the guilt to celebrate the deadline I made, and that I'll do the same in reverse (refuse to feel guilty about deadlines when I get to school on time), but come on. I think we all know that's as likely as my making today's deadlines.

Off I go, then. At least I get to make jack o' lanterns out of unconventional materials today! Colon close-parens!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Between a rock and a hard place

The hard truth is, I don't even get my full 2 hours in the morning to work, and whatever I do have, it's not enough to get my work done right now. The only way around this is to hire childcare. But the only way to make enough $$ to hire childcare is to pack more work into the time I have.

I always think of how Stephen King would get up at 5am and jam himself into the boiler room of his family's trailer to write Carrie for 2 hours each morning before he went to work as a teacher, and I feel horribly lazy.

I'm sure there's a conclusion to be reached here, but I'm now down to an hour and a half and I gotta write about signing at daycare and I dunno what the heck else. And I haven't had coffee. So grumble grumble grumble.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Yep, I'm a bitch.

One side-effect of this new schedule is that I get hyper-focused when I'm here at my desk, and plan my work down to the last minute -- sometimes it feels like to the last second. So when I think I have 10 more minutes, and then my husband comes in with the baby to have a last-minute chat about things before he leaves for work, I am liable to bite his head off.

This is to explain things if you happen to see a headless man walking to the BART this morning. He used to be 6'4", but I'm estimating he's about 5'11" without his noggin.

I feel like this is a common problem, and I'm sure it could be cleared up easily. For instance, maybe we can chat while he's at the BART station? Or maybe he needed something from me before he left. Well, I guess we'll find out.

Yesterday I was even more of a lunatic and I have determined that I have to stop trying to pack everything into each day. But when it comes to getting my work done, I still feel like there's hot wolf breath on the back of my neck until I've made my two deadlines per day, which I did manage today (though I missed one yesterday that I hoped to make up).

Anyway, I'm now exiting the workplace and will let you know if he was trying to tell me the kitchen was on fire.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Seriously people we need to get started earlier.

I have 45 minutes to work today because we got to sleep so late last night / slept in today again. This is nuts in the butts. And with both girls I won't be able to use the Ergo to gain an extra little work time. arrrgh.

I did find a cache of pitched/approved ideas, so at least I can get rolling right away. The first one is, of course, a child-safety story, and those I really have to steel myself emotionally to deal with, but that's not time-consuming, it's just hard.

My friend emailed me the other day, my freelance role-model who got me started in this whole game, and asked "How can you stand to only work two hours a day?" I've been too embarrassed to admit it's nooooo problem. I wish I had more time to blog, but the issue isn't "oh! i want to work," it's "oh! we need the ducats." That'll change, I'm sure, as the weeks wear on and I realize this isn't just a temporary state of affairs.

ok then, safety story, 20 minutes to have it up and out.

Monday, October 03, 2011

This is me working today.

She's watching Teletubbies on my browser in an unidentifiable language. Late wakeup + no nap = at least I made my 2 deadlines today.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Let's try that again

So I would have to define my first week of being a mom-working, as opposed to working-mom, as an epic fail. As a mom, I ran the kids absolutely ragged and now they're both spending the weekend dazed and exhausted with runny noses. As a worker, I think I did 2 days' worth of posts? Or maybe 1 days' worth of work, spread out over 2 days?

On the other hand, it was Rosh Hashonah, and it was also my first week, so I'm not firing myself just yet. I'm grabbing 3 hours of work today, and was supposed to do the same yesterday but had to help out a friend instead. So let's see if I can do.... Rocker Lawsuits, Flame Retardants (maybe not that one, I'll look at the emails), and I'll Pray Later.

I'm bummed that I can't seem to make the startup blog happen. I just don't have the bandwidth to work for free for them, and they aren't answering my emails. I also want to post to my craft blog. So don't forget that.

Sheesh. Okay. One thing at a time! Bird by bird! Let's start again. Rocker lawsuits to start.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ramping up (did I really just say that?)

Okay. Okay. Yesterday I only did one story. Today, I should do three. Actually I should do five because technically I should not be working tomorrow, on Rosh Hashonah, but COME ON. And now it's past 9am and I only have an hour and a half minus eight minutes. arrrrrgh.

The morning is just effed seven ways to sunday. Randy wakes up and makes breakfast, and then somehow the girls end up on me. Meanwhile I should be bounding out of bed, grabbing coffee, and disappearing into the office, but somehow I end up pulling the covers over my head and just closing my eyes for five more blessed seconds. What's funny about this is that as good as it feels to feel my eyelids slip down over the burning orbs that cannot yet stand to see the day, I immediately think, "you lazy, lazy slattern, there isn't enough self-loathing in the world for you right now." But I just pile the self-loathing on top of the blanket and it makes me feel even warmer. Mmmmm. Loathy.

I really really need to pitch some relationship stories today! well, what can I do.

Oh! I did enable comments, though. So there's that. Huzzah!

Let's see if I can poop out two stories RIGHT NOW and then another one HA HA. Okay. Which one first? Gloria Vanderbilt! GO!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day Two

Okay. So yesterday I did a bunch of organizing and today I was supposed to write two posts, but I didn't sit down at my desk untilllll... um 9:24. For the record, I'm allegedly working from 8:30-10:30 Pacific time. (Tangent: Can we just say PT and ET and not make it PST or PDT, which I never remember which is which, and just let the computer make the necessary adjustments?)

Anyway, I like to complain that the girls have me up 2-3 times in the night, and all I want to do when they get up is grab a few more minutes' worth of sleep, but come on. I go to sleep earlier to compensate, so let's ovary up and get to work.

I got a subscription to a magazine now helmed by my beloved executive editor at Big Glossy Mag where I worked. I don't think she knows she was beloved unto me -- we only worked at the same place a few months, and she only edited one of my stories, but it was my first one, and it was really hard to research, and she praised it, for which she will be forever beloved. So. I'll be pitching them again soon, and should be pitching Match again today. Shoot. Maybe tomorrow. Argh!

Today I'm supposed to do: Rocker Lawsuits and Gloria Vanderbilt. I think I can do those two in an hour, because I did a bunch of prep-work yesterday. Let's see how I do. GO.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Game Changer

Okay. As of today, I am a mostly stay-at-home-mom, as my husband has finally, after three years of searching, found an amazing full-time gig that tickles his funny bone and fills our bank account. Somewhat. I still have to keep working, but around his schedule, so I get 2 hours in the morning, and whatever I can cobble together during naps and after bedtime. It'll be a challenge, but I'm going to make it work.

Here's the thing: It's Day 1, and I'm already 1/2 hour into my work time with nothing to show for it but a bunch of dinnerware sets saved to Pinterest. So that's awesome. Nice to see some things never change.

I have to figure some things out. Do I stick with the low-pay but very-steady gig that I KNOW I always have, but that pays so little per hour that I'm always scrambling? Or do I ditch that gig in favor of higher-paid work that I have to fight for each month?

I think we all know I'm going to stick with the steady gig for now, but man. It's a real grind. Then, in the middle, there's the low-paying gig for a startup that may or may not pay off when they get funding. Ha ha, did you hear what I just said? But hope springs eternal, people. This is the land of Pixar and Google.

Okay. Off to work. See you on the morrow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Match Made In Heaven!

I am SO glad to be writing for Match again! See my first new story for them over there on the left. They are all over the dating-parents thing, and I've been there and done that, so these stories are especially fun. I've connected with some great new experts, too, which is sometimes the best part of the job.

I've got another new client that I'll reveal soon -- for them, I attended a weekend-long workshop that was a total inspiration. That's also the best part of the job: getting assigned stories that kick my butt in a good way. I met amazing, talented writers, and who knows? Maybe I'll actually start doing comedy again.

Deadlines first, though. I'm off to write about cicadas for TheStir/CafeMom. Eeeeeyuw!

Friday, April 22, 2011

ptui, ptui, ptui -- things are looking up!

I got two calls this week - from two old clients who need me to work for them again. That ROCKS for many reasons. I need the work. I love these clients. And most importantly, I didn't burn bridges by storming off in a huff when I unhitched from them in the first place! Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?


Thursday, April 21, 2011

If Cee-Lo Green Were A Freelancer

For crap's sake. Here's an article in the Times about a vegan website based here in San Francisco that was using free stock food photos and airbrushing out the meat (#awesome!). At first, the editor was unrepentant: free, bastardized photos were "necessary for budgetary reasons." After a smorgasbord of internet fury, he revised his statement, saying they'd stop using meat pictures, but that he "hoped the magazine’s readership would 'stand up and help us' in providing vegan photography."

Fuck you. Pay photographers. (H/T to Mike Monteiro)

And look! Here's a job listing that lists among its many, many requirements:
  • A BA in English
  • An MBA or equivalent
  • 7 years copywriting experience
The online listing doesn't say this, but the posted rate for this job, according to the Media Alliance JobFile, is $10/hour. Minimum wage. You get paid more at Starbucks.

Fuck you! Pay marketing writers a living wage!

Progressive darling Arianna Huffington is defending her perfect right to get fat off of free content. Huffington and AOL are trying to upend the concept of the citizen journalist, which used to mean "getting information out of areas where journalists are under siege by any means necessary," and now means "undercutting professional journalists by expecting above-the-fold copy from unpaid or barely-paid interns." (News flash: they don't deliver.)

Just ... fuck you.

Over the past ten years I've become a more skilled reporter, a better interviewer, a more careful researcher, an all-around better writer. And my per-word and per-hour rates have dropped because the market could not bear what I was making. Which was the same per-word rate freelancers have been making since the seventies. What the heck is going on?!

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I have to go finish a piece for one of the few clients that pays me what I deserve for articles they can be proud to publish. I'm missing no deadlines, and making no fuss: this is a relationship that must work out, or I'll perish along with the cattle featured in the ribs on the front page of VegNews.

(yeah, I know, that was a stretch. Hey, I'm writing for free here!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

I need a new yoga ball

Man. Starting during my second pregnancy, I started sitting on a yoga ball while working. Not too long ago, the damn thing popped. (I know. They're supposed to be able to withstand... I mean, I was pregnant! ugh.) Anyway I've been sitting on a crappy kitchen chair since then and ow. When I stand up after working for a few hours, I walk like Marlon Brando when he was chasing that kid around with an orange peel in his mouth right before keeling over from a coronary. In The Godfather, obvie. You knew that. Anyway, this is apropos of nothing except that I'm sitting here working and my butt hurts. Do with that what you will.

Monday, April 11, 2011

When do I call it?

Man. I pitched a story that an editor was kinda meh about, and I was all "oh no you will LOVE this great story!" and now I am so bored with it I want to gouge my eyes out. I should have listened to my editor! That's why she's an editor! Duh! Winning!

(Will it ever be possible to say "duh" without "winning" again? I hope not.)

Anyway, to save face I keep thinking I must produce this sparkly great story, and I've done interviews and whatnot.

On the other hand, maybe I'm blocked because it's a crappy idea.

On another hand (maybe I'm a octopus, you don't know, YOU DON'T KNOW ME!!), maybe I'm just blocked in general and incapable of ever writing again. It could happen.

Ha ha ha, just kidding, I don't really think that every five minutes of every work day and every ten minutes on the weekends.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Do you ever do that thing?

Do you ever do that thing where you go to the Word file you're supposed to be working on, and then you stare at it, and then you go to Mail and hit "Get Mail" just to make sure nothing came in, and when you hear the "clunk" noise, you hit it five more times just in case?



Never mind, then.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Yeah, not blogging for Babble anymore either. That was a frustrating experience, but onward and upward.

I wrote yet another personal essay for MyDaily because I just never learn that it's an embarrassing and uncomfortable experience to mine one's past humiliations for a buck. I've got so darn many of them! Anyway, the response was really wonderful. I got many supportive emails and comments. And then I got a call from a TV producer! He works for a news show and wanted to do a segment on my story.

Only trouble is, there's really no story unless one of the two bullies in the story (who apologized via Facebook) would appear on the show. I approached them both, but who would do that, seriously? I can't blame them both for being like "uh yeah hm howbout NO." I'm the one who wants to get flown to NYC.

Oh well. On the upside, it spurred me to get back in contact with my agent and suggest that this is a hot enough topic to maybe warrant a book proposal. Annnnnd on the downside, I still haven't heard back from her. Does this mean I call? Durr.

Friday, February 11, 2011

More Blog Business

I'm not blogging for CafeMom anymore -- it was a good run, but they're only going to use staff writers going forward. Ah, well.

I am continuing to write for Babble every day (or as close to it as I can manage), and MyDaily at AOL whenever possible.

I've also started writing for, so you'll see that link soon.

Nothing much to say about all this -- it's really, really hard to juggle assignments with office management (right now I'm also making out health-insurance applications and am way behind deadline on preschool applications as well). Every day feels like a bit of a slog, though I really like the new work I'm doing.

But frantic? Yeah. We've got frantic here.