Category Archives: 300 words

putting myself back out there

My life is about to no longer be my own. It’s nothing morose or overly dramatic, but really about the fact that next week I go back to full-time employment.

I know…in this market, tough problem to have.

But it’s been 15 months since I last “punched a time clock” and worked 40 hours a week on someone else’s schedule. Who’s going to run to the grocery store when we need bread or veggies? How can I run by Costco just to walk around and dream? I know those things are still possibilities. Only now, they’ll be more of a “stop by on the way home from the office” or “I’ll be right back, gotta run an errand on my lunch break.”

Just typing that feels….weird. But I’ll get used to it. And in reality, I’m VERY excited to get back out there. I’m ready to interact with smart, talented, creative people. I’m ready to slay any creative project that crosses my path. I’m ready to see a regular paycheck (beyond unemployment) get deposited into my bank account and hopefully stop the bleeding.

But most important, I’m ready to start challenging myself to grow in a new direction, picking up new (marketable) skills that will extend my creative writing experience into a whole new realm. I’m ready to be a sponge, and take advantage of every encounter, every new scenario, and stockpile this newfound skill set into something that will put me in an advantageous position should I ever find myself on the receiving end of a pink slip again. (It only happened twice within 9 months…..15 months ago.)

This time is going to be different. Unlike my last job, where I had to spend countless hours convincing myself that the position I was offered was “right” and “good” and “marketable.” This job is one that I’ve been cultivating for the past year. I just didn’t know it. It took the wisdom (and different point of view) of my partner in life and crime to recognize it. And the results just show that it was meant to be. It really feels right…..right down to my core.

At least for now. And that’s just what I’m holding onto….the now. I have to focus my energy on making today great. Even if I don’t have the flexibility or freedom to do whatever whim the now presents.

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technology is an energy suck

And by suck, I mean both in actual kilowatts, and in time.

I know, technology is supposed to help you save time. It’s also supposed to help you better organize your day/life/finances/social outlets. And I’m sure once I’ve adjusted to my latest and greatest gadget, I’ll calm down.

But for now, it seems to be consuming all of my free time. (It even kept me from posting my 300 words yesterday…well, at least that’s the excuse I’m sticking with.) There are settings to set. Apps to download. Backgrounds to choose. And then there’s all the loading of contacts, calendar events, photos, and music. (And I’m not even talking about an iPhone here. I’m sorry….I want actual phone service with my gadget, so I went with an HTC Evo on Sprint. It gives good signal.)

Once the gadget is loaded, then it has to be dressed up. And by dressed up, I mean screen protector, cover, and perhaps a cradle to make charging easier.

Speaking of charging, did you know that leaving all those various electronic devices and stuff plugged in to charge can add up to 10% more to your monthly electric bill? Of course, that’s nothing compared to the extra refrigerator or freezer you have in your garage or basement that is keeping that 3-year-old steak frozen and that one can of pop cold. This is especially true if your fridge was manufactured before 2001.

Another fun fact? Washing your clothes in cold water instead of warm could save you $150/year. That’s no small change. Well, it IS a change if you’re used to washing in warm and hot water. Then again, I know I like to wash my whites in hot. It’s how I roll.

I guess what all this comes down to, for me, is understanding when to let new technology help make my life easier. And when to use common sense. (But haven’t you also heard that if common sense were common, wouldn’t it be more prevalent in the world around us? Or are they just used to frying their brains in hot water with lots of bleach?)

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early morning buzz

6:10am. Yet another morning where I’m awake way too early. Only this time it wasn’t biological. Well, for me.

I heard scratching. I look from the bed toward one of the dogs’ crates. Cody is standing up, pawing the gate. My first thought was “someone needs to go to the bathroom…now!” so I hop out of bed and open her crate. But instead of running to the back door, she jumps up on the bed and begins kissing up my partner. (It’s a normal morning routine. I get up, and release the hounds….well, terriers. After some stretching/rolling around/tummy rubs from yours truly, they jump up on the bed via the bench positioned at the foot and run up on the better half, tails and tongues wagging.)

Of course, at this point, I’m thinking WTF? Why did we need to get up 45 minutes early? And apparently Cody wasn’t the only restless one. L asks me if I slept ok. I thought so? Instead, I’m told that I was fidgety and thrashed around most of the night. My only memory (which was fading fast as my body and brain began to emerge from sleep) was having some bizarre dreams (again, pretty routine for my world), but don’t really recall any thrashing on my part.

But then, the girls are off the bed. Frantic rushing around, in and out of the bedroom. Back and forth to the master bath. Out into the great room. But never to the back door. Then the reality of the situation sets in.

There’s a fly in the house.

Our little radar ears have picked up the buzz. (Or was that just me with one last gasp of a snore?) Our girls (Cairn Terriers, with mouser DNA through and through) are excellent fly hunters. They’re also quite good with lizards, bunnies, bird and butterfly shadows. They’ll pace and run around the house until that pesky little fly is caught.

Or until it’s time for breakfast. Then Cody’s food-driven obsession takes over.

It’s only while I’m cleaning up their breakfast dishes do I locate the culprit. It’s buzzing in the window above the kitchen sink, where, with one swat of the dishtowel (Hey! It was going into the laundry pile anyway!), the distraction is gone. Just like the last hour of sleep that now I feel I so desperately want.

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when the brain goes drip, drip, drip

Most nights, it’s tough to get my brain to shut off. I think I’m missing a pause button. It usually just keeps jumping from topic to topic, shiny object to movement to whatever, and usually with no pattern or reason. (Of course, this brain activity usually generates most of my creative ideas or solutions. The tough part? My own stubbornness that also kicks in and says “don’t worry about writing this down, you’ll remember it in the morning.” This rarely happens. Or worse, I have a pathetic night’s sleep because the whole time my brain is repeating whatever it was that I was trying not to forget.)

Now, what were we talking about?

Oh yeah, my hyperactive brain that is so obviously a night owl while the rest of my body says otherwise.

A couple of weeks ago, the shower in the master bath was dripping nonstop (along with the one in the kitchen sink). The obvious solution would be to close the door to the bathroom. If only one was available for closing. Instead we have a lovely archway separating bed from bath. It’s good in theory. But not so good when there is the reality of a dripping shower head.

Like so many nights, I will my brain to channel all its energy to shutting down all other stimuli. I’ve tried some of the techniques I learned years ago in beginner’s meditation. You know, opening the valve at the bottom of the feet, and watching (and feeling) all of the negative energy flowing from the top of my head all the way down through my torso and legs. It was working for about 45 seconds until….

Drip. Drip, drip, drip, drip. Drip.

Switching gears, I tasked the brain with translating that annoying drippage into something more soothing. It’s rain! Yes, lovely raindrops falling on my head. Or at least the head of the house. Isn’t that calming? Aren’t I relaxed?

Again, that worked for a few minutes. Then the brain says “hey! dumbass! call the property management and have them come fix this damn leaking showerhead. Oh, and have them fix the faucet in the kitchen sink while they’re at it.”

I’m too lazy to get up and write it down so I’ll remember to do it in the morning. At least I now have the dripping sound to go along with the repeated mantra of “don’t forget” that will keep me up all night.

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the light of day

My body is obviously trying to tell me something. That’s the only reason I can see that I keep waking up between 5:05 and 5:20 a.m. practically every morning.

And trust me, I’m NOT a morning person.

Granted, I usually go back to sleep for another hour or so, but still. 5 a.m.!!!?!?? It could be that, here in the Land of Enchantment, the sun is getting ready to rise. It could also be related to the big, half-moon-shaped window above the bed in the master bedroom of our rental house that is letting in the light as it creeps above the horizon. But light has never been an issue in determining whether or not I continue sleeping. I used to be a heavy sleeper. I also used to sleep in til 10 or later back in my days of being a bartender.

Maybe this is all just a precursor to actually having to wake up at a certain time because the universe did have a job plan for me. But that is still 2 weeks away (and only a couple of days since getting the firm offer and working out the details). And this early wake up call started several weeks before this new position was even a thought, much less an email in my inbox.

It’s been 15 months since I was on someone else’s time clock, so I know it’s going to be an adjustment getting back into a M-F work schedule. (Even today, I kept swearing it was Sunday. That happens when you’re not in a routine.) But even this kind of adjustment won’t require me getting up earlier than 6, so what’s with this early morning invitation? Maybe it’s telling me to get up and be productive. Stretch. Meditate. Journal. Even get out and walk, checking off that daily exercise box as “done” even before most of the neighborhood is up and about.

Or maybe it’s just my body telling my brain to stop with the bizarre dreams that have surfaced of late. There was the one where I woke up scratching at the ants I’d just dreamed I had sat in.

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when patience and perseverance pay off

Or: Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “P.”

For the last 12 months or so, I’ve been cultivating a relationship with a small regional shop. What started with a blind self-promo piece turned into an invitation to “stop by and let’s get acquainted.” What I didn’t know at the time was this particular agency had been contemplating hiring a writer full-time. From there, we began working together on a variety of freelance projects ranging from one-off direct mail pieces to full-on campaigns with print, radio, tv, and outdoor.

From the beginning, I had a good feeling about the budding relationship. I admired the quality of work coming out of the agency. I liked the people I was working with. And they were constantly providing very positive feedback for the copy I was delivering to NM from CA.

By this time, we had decided that Albuquerque was where we wanted to relocate. The fact that I was building a relationship with future potential was grease to the machine to set the gears of forward motion turning. We came out a few more times to continue exploring the city, feeling the vibe, and confirming the affinity that was developing between the Land of Enchantment and our desire to get out of hyper competitive/pricey/crowded SoCal.

We thought we had the push we were looking for when the agency verbally offered a position back in October. There were just a few details to solidify. Then the pause  button was pressed. Seems one of the big(ger) clients was going in-house with the majority of their work. Which meant some of the needed income to warrant bringing me on was no longer in the till.

Confident that “something would break” on the job front, we packed up our clothes and household items, and moved into a rental in ABQ. Things were looking promising when I was called in for on-site freelance work the first week we had landed. But, again, the damn pause button. Sure, there were still a few projects trickling in, but there was not enough forward momentum (or client business) to move the discussion of employment forward.

During the past few months, I’ve been hitting every professional marketing opportunity to mix and mingle. Seems it’s the best way to be introduced in this town. Here, it doesn’t matter that I have years of global experience working on big brands like Nissan and Microsoft. It’s all about the personal connection, or the introduction from someone already known about town. Regardless of the inroads I was making with other players in this field, every interaction and possibility was always measured by what I knew about the other agency.

But in this market, and not necessarily unique the one here in NM, you have to remain patient. And persistent. There must be little reminders on occasion to keep the relationship at least luke warm.

You also have to think outside the box. Which is exactly what I did when I received an email from the agency saying that one of their account people was leaving. Being completely opportunistic, I emailed the agency stating that I was interested in at least talking to them about the possibility. Sure, my experience has always been on the writing/creative side, but I’ve had plenty of client interaction to know what I was potentially getting into.

Thankfully, the agency also recognized the added value I could bring to the table with my experience, professionalism, and writing skills. The fact that my personality melded well with that of the agency didn’t hurt either.

So now, nearly 13 months after our first meeting (and 15 of being an independent contractor after 2 agency layoffs in 8 months), I will be joining the agency in just over 2 weeks. Whoever said “good things come to those who wait” must have been one smart cookie.

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