October Notes

I’m going to echo Lesley Wheeler here, because she is right as usual. Most of us are walking around stunned by the Kavanaugh confirmation. Perhaps we weren’t surprised, but as someone else said somewhere, it sure felt like a referendum on sexual assault. And the powers that be said, “Go ahead. It doesn’t matter.” Time to bring down those powers that be.

I imagine this is how African Americans felt when George Zimmerman was not charged in the death of Trayvon Martin, or when that white police officer got away with shooting Michael Brown in the back, or when Tamir Rice was killed at age 12 because a grown man thought he had a gun, and so on and so on. I feel guilty for not having felt this way when the police were/are killing black people. I was upset and outraged, for sure, but the feeling wasn’t visceral.

Among the stress is beauty. I live in a region that sucks in terms of fried chicken and biscuits, but has really gorgeous fall scenery. Today enough leaves have fallen that I can see the ridge. I’m not yearning for winter, but I do like to see the ridge again. In a few more weeks I will also be able to see the river.

I took a friend to her first poetry reading this morning. I think she liked it. As for me, I found it one of the best poetry readings I have been to in a long time. The poets were not super famous. They had read each other’s work, probably once they figured they were going to read together. They complimented and complemented each other. And they did not fill the space between their poems with bullshit. They said something pithy, and then they just read. I did not need to edit their work in my head.

What was your first poetry reading?



Proving Yourself

An acquaintance contacted me to see if I could do some editorial work for her. I get a lot of editorial work based on my charming personality (or the fact that I’m the only editor people know) and my ability to tear your average piece of text limb from limb and (and this is what is rare evidently) help the author put it back together.

The press is going to give Acquaintance money to hire a developmental editor. Huzzah! I don’t have to charge mate’s rates, which is the downside of editing for friends. But now I have to jump through a bunch of hoops to prove to the press that I am worthy to edit for them.

It’s their right to do so. But I’m cranky (shocker, I know). This is not a fly-by-night press. I would be proud to work on a book for them. But the fact that they are giving money to the author for a developmental edit means that they no longer have in-house editors. My scientific editing gig also used to have in-house editors. Now they hire it out.

I should be grateful. This hiring-it-out is what allows me to live in a pretty place where in-house editorial jobs are thin on the ground. This is why I’m on my couch in pajamas complaining on the internet about my first-world editorial problems. This is why I can have a poodle friend lazing on the other couch. I like my freelance lifestyle. But it’s a shitty model for people who aren’t me.

The other thing that irritates me is that I’m worried they will automatically disqualify me because while I have a ton of experience developmental editing books about socks and tutoring students how to write about socks [Ed. note: this book is not about socks.], the publisher wants me to have direct experience editing books about coats.

How do you prove you can do what you do?

Rain and Creativity

It’s a good day to be an indoor dog, by which I mean to say that my dog went outside in the pouring rain, peed as quickly as she has ever peed in her life and galloped back in. My dog may look like a long-legged poodle, but she runs like a tiny horse.

I like the rain. It means I can stay inside without guilt and listen to the rain. It adds visual interest to my view (all those lines!). And I get to wonder if the neighboring cows care if it’s raining. (Anecdotal evidence would suggest no, and it might be that rain provides a relief from flies.) My little mountain comes and goes among the clouds.

Rain is a tether. Stay inside. Work. Do not bound up and try to go out and do something. It is wet out there. Get shit done.

Can you stand the rain?

Professional Grown-Up Jobs And Other Troubles

Being professional is exhausting, y’all! You have to think before you speak, or in my case, talk quickly to make up for whatever you just said. You have to dress neatly, put your hair up, wear shoes, and talk without cussing. And you know what else? You have to pack a lunch.

Yes, I got my first outside-the-house job in over a year. I drove over the mountains in order to prepare myself to mold young minds. I met with human resource professionals. I met future colleagues. I sat up straight and smiled (with my teeth, because my natural smile is mostly gums) to get an ID card.

Why am I going to all this trouble when I could just sit at home and edit LaTeX all fucking day long? Well, first, I would eventually die of boredom. Second, I do like to get out of the house every once in a while. Third, I grew up practically on a college campus. I have worked at universities in various capacities much of my life. I kinda like college students (some of them anyway) and academics (Ibid.).

Also, I’m going to have access to a college library and interlibrary loan again. What was that? Was that angels singing? I can’t write my super-geeky poems and memoir-nonfiction thingies without some good research materials. I can use an educator’s discount. Don’t stop me! I might buy more pens!!

Phew. How do you deal with the professional world?

Modern Country Living

The life of the freelancer is not glamorous. Now that I have a steady gig again, I keep cubicle hours. I get up, I have coffee, I sit down to edit. I eat lunch, I edit some more. Round about the time my eyeballs feel like they are going to fall out my head, I take my dog for a walk in the woods. My life is simple, which is fine.

I live at the edge of what around here is called a village. (Many people would not call it a village, but rather a few houses grouped together around a convergence of waterways and an old mill. I have human neighbors on one side, and a pasture on the other. Last year, the cows were in our neighboring pasture, and mostly ignored me, except for when they were hungry and they thought I might have food. Have you ever been stared down by a cow?

This year, the cows have been mostly across the street. But today, two of them were brought into the neighboring pasture. And because I’m always on the lookout for small diversions, I called my dog outside. My dog does not look like a country dog; people have funny ideas about what poodles are like. And she is a dog that is very conscious of her own dignity or lack thereof.

But she’s learning to be a good country dog. She sits placidly in the yard while we mow or garden. She mostly does not go in the street. It turns out that although she is originally from Louisiana she loves the snow. She is acclimating. And today she stared at the cows, and the cows stared at her. One cow had clearly been in this pasture before, and tried to eat crabapples from our tree. (Sorry, too late, cow. They’re all gone.)

And I watched this species interaction, this mutual calm staring, this small desire for apples. And I cracked up to myself, wondering what the cows thought of the dog and what the dog thought of the cow. This was my morning amusement. I may have fewer human interactions, but I am not entirely without some kind of society.


Today’s gratitude list is brought to you by this morning’s burnt cup of coffee.

I’m fucking grateful that dear facebook showed me an article about how language editors of academic material should have content knowledge while I’m training (for free) for a new editing gig, trying to learn a whole new style, because how else will I continue to feel bad for myself in my gorgeous rural summer.

I’m fucking grateful that I decided that my real-life persona editor website should be accompanied by twitter, because how else would I know that people seem able to tweet all day AND get writing done? Thanks for letting me know I need to step up my game.

I’m fucking grateful that although I live in a pretty river valley that there is a cafe not so terribly far away where I can go get coffee and get some actual fucking work done.

What are you grateful for today?


The Pastoral

One of the glorious things about being freelance is that you can work from anywhere that you can stand to edit. Today I write from my morning yard office under a crab apple tree. This lovely, if slightly buggy, workspace is shaded in the morning, and smells right now of overripe apples.

(My afternoon office is an arrangement of chairs across the yard that is appropriately shady at around beer o’clock. It has a view of my small neighborhood mountain. My morning office offers a more secluded view of crabapple branches, some weeds, and the compost bucket.)

My canine coworker has taken to chewing on the crab apples. Fortunately she does not appear to swallow them. Or she has an iron stomach. One or the other. It was my coworker who encouraged me to work outside this morning. She has a crush on the neighbor dog, and is hoping he will appear.

But if he doesn’t, she still will settle in the yard, first in the sun and then, panting, in the shade. She likes to smell the wind and keep an eye on the squirrels. And until the bugs drive me mad, I will too.