Monday, October 31, 2011

And for THIS week . . . .

Continuing my theme of "Just what does Tami write anyway?" (What?! You didn't know there was such a theme? You're clearly not paying close enough attention.)

This week I have THREE different training sessions for three different projects. The first one was a meeting about how I should write the online and on ground lessons for a web design course for college students. The second one is about how to create in-class activities for Kindergartners. The third one is about writing items for employees who will be working in restaurants and with food.
In between these sessions, I am writing an American Lit course, researching electric trains, writing about heat waves, and preparing to write two poems with matching passages.

And the family wonders why, when they ask something innocent like, "What time do we have our class today?" or "Why are we out of toilet paper?", mother just falls over in a gelatinous puddle on the floor and whimpers.

Yes, you're welcome for that image.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

29 Years . . . . Like 5 Minutes

Today is Joseph and my 29th wedding anniversary. (Does "my" need an apostrophe to make it possessive if it is already a possessive pronoun? I don't know . . .. some writer I am, eh?)
Anyway, 29 years ago we said "I do" and today, 10,585 days later, I know I would still say it--and even to the same guy. Snicker.
We had discussed going away to celebrate . .. camping, hotel, something. But in the end, thanks to problems with the vehicles and my stupid workload, we ended up staying home. I slept in and woke to a beautiful love letter on my keyboard. For me to write a love letter, not difficult. For him? Agony. So even more deeply appreciated.
So we are home and I could be disappointed, but I'm not. I slept in (a rarity for me), came down to find a wonderful letter and in a few minutes, I'm going to coffee with the sexiest, handsomest, kindest man on the planet. . . oh and Joseph can come too. Okay. Sorry. It was there.
Anyway, Happy Anniversary to us. I am sure the next 29 will fly by as well. As Joseph delights in telling people: Our time together of 29 years has felt like five minutes . . . .. (wait for it) . . . . underwater.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just in Case You Asked

When people find out I am a full time writer, they typically react one of two ways:
(1) They ask me if I've written a novel . . . when I say no, they lose all interest.
(2) They immediately launch into a long and involved regaling of how they have ALWAYS wanted to be a writer . . . and here is their idea . . . . and this is what they have written of it so far . . . and could I connect them with an editor or publishing house please?
RARELY, ever so rarely, someone will respond with a, "Really? How interesting . . . tell me about it."
So, because I'm feeling self-centered today :), I am going to pretend you asked me this and I'm gonna tell you what I've done in the last 24 hours to give you an idea of what I do.
1. I am writing a book on heat waves . . and have found VERY LITTLE info out there to help me. Very few books, for sure, even at Powell's, Amazon and the library. So I have been downloading technical articles from the web and trying to understand what I am reading, and then taking notes.
2. I just finished filling out the Excel sheet columns for 2,212, yes, TWO THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND TWELVE, medical assessments. I had to click on the link, watch the video and then fill out info about it. It took forever and when I was done, I went out and celebrated.
3. I am writing assessment questions over a dinosaur unit. I am writing it at three different levels, so have to adjust my vocabulary and type of questions.
4. I am writing a college course on American Literature, so have been researching elements about Early American writers and finding articles to reference for the course.
5. I am getting ready to write a book about trains during the Civil War, so have been at the library gathering resource.
6. I am writing 23 passages and 78 items for grade 1. Sound simple? It's NOT. The vocabulary for first grade is so limited (less than 200 words or so) that it is very, very hard to come up with sentences and stories to write and stick to those words only.
That is THIS week's agenda. Just so ya know. In case you were gonna ask. And heck, even if you weren't.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Almost 29 and Still Going Strong

What makes me smile today?
I said to Joseph that I was making a list of editors who were interested in offering me a writing job. There are actually enough of them that I have to make a list in order to keep them straight. I labeled the list, "People Who Currently Want Me". He saw it and said, "Make sure my name stays at the top of the list."
Later, he was checking my pulse and was trying to find my heart. I said, "Silly man," and touched his heart, "It's always right here."
We will celebrate 29 years in just a couple of weeks. The fact that we can still say things like this to each other and MEAN it is the key to why.

Side note . . . Nicole and I went to see the Blue Man Group tonight. I am still reeling from the experience. Amazing. Drums you could feel in your bones. Visual tricks you couldn't believe you were seeing. Truly incredible show. Wow.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Welcome to the Orr's Dinner Table

Eating together at the table as a family is pretty important to all of us. It doesn't happen every single day thanks to work, friends, classes and other complications, but it happens the majority of the time.
Today at lunch, I was absolutely overwhelmed with the dynamics of the meal. All the kids are back home now, so we have five people sitting at the table. It's noisy. It's fun. It's probably a sociologist's nightmare . . .. :). So, in the hour we spent sitting there, we covered "Chucky" movies, vampire-staking toddlers, the size of King Kong's . . . . manly part, as they say, how much alcohol it takes to get drunk and how to recognize when you've gotten there (we don't drink, other than J's occasional beer or glass of wine, but J and I have memories), the origin of the idiom "the exception that proves the rule" (which then sparked Coryn, Nicole and I to sing lines from "You are the Only Exception" by Paramour) the whoooshing sound that a line in a play determined was the sound of angels overhead, and why there are so many spiders in the garden this year--oh, and even took a moment of quiet sadness in honor of a dear friend who lost their family dog today. In the midst of it all, I was attempting to establish the timeline for the afternoon of who needed to go where and when and what order we would do them in. Yeah, I gave up. Not in frustration or irritation. I gave up because I was laughing too hard.
I love, love, love being part of this family. Welcome to the Orr House.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Back to the Basics

I am very lucky that my husband does not do the "I told you so" dance.
Actually, HE is very lucky. If he did, I would have to hurt him.

In January, we went on the paleo diet. In three plus months, I lost more than 30 lbs. Moreover, the blood pressure issue that has haunted me for the past few years was no longer a problem. It dropped from its usual 180/100 (on full meds) to 100/70 (some days even lower). It wasn't easy but I was pleased about the side effects. Then, as time passed, we slipped off the diet . . . a little here, a little there until finally, we were back to eating like we had. To be honest, Nicole and I were the most responsible diet wise. We ate a truckload of salads, avoided bread, didn't eat much fried foods and dessert was a rare treat. Despite that, I stopped losing weight (didn't gain it back though) and my BP crept up again. Sigh. I tried quitting coffee, walking five times a week--nothing made it drop.

So, today we are back to paleo. I don't want to worry about my BP. It becomes this ridiculous spiral of worrying makes me tense which makes it go up which makes me worry which makes me tense . . . and so on. Instead, I want to relax and know that I'm not going to have a health crisis when I least expect it. I have so much work on my "platter" right now, I need breaks wherever I can find them.

As of this morning, we are back on it. I had a paleo breakfast--which is NOTHING new. I often do. However, when I was done, I checked my BP. 147/90. WHY? It can't be in reaction to a diet that just started a few hours ago. Grrrrrr. Wish I knew the patterns to look for. In the meantime, I will just keep an eye out to make sure Joseph is NOT doing that dance.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I See the Signs

These are my signs that Tami is working too hard:

1. When a company loses its funding and cancels the project, I am relieved instead of disappointed.
2. When I wake up in the morning, my very first thought is what I have to get done before I crawl back into bed that night.
3. When I slip on a step on the stairs my FIRST THOUGHT is oh, if I broke my wrist that would probably buy me some time.
4. When walking down the aisles of my beloved Goodwill thrift stores, more of my thought is on guilt over what I should be doing than pleasure at what I am doing.

What do you think? Time for Tami to go on vacation? Get a massage? Take a long afternoon nap?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mulling It Over

Have you ever noticed that as you get older, some of the things you enjoyed doing in the past aren't as much fun anymore? They take longer, more effort . . . more tiring. (Hey! Get your minds out of the gutter . . . I'm not referring to THAT. I like doing THAT just as much as I always have, thank you very much.) In this case, I am referring to writing books.
I have been writing books for about 15-18 years now. I think my first one came out in 1992 or 93 or somewhere in there. Since then, I have written over 300 of them. I commonly have 2-5 of them due each month. And I have always loved the process of researching and writing and then seeing it all flow together.
Until recently. I fell behind on assignments . . . not due to procrastination or laziness but simple lack of time. My assignments have really increased this summer and I find I cannot put in 14-16 hour days like I could ten years ago. I just . . . wear out. I get grumpy. I do things wrong. I don't feel good. It just takes more out of me than it did before. I find myself resentful because I'm not on the couch reading or curled up writing a letter. Instead, I am sitting at the computer trying to meet another deadline.
Lately, I have been waking in the morning with a panicked feeling. My first thought of the morning is what do I have to get done today. Instead of just mulling over possibilities, I go right into full-fledged panic that I won't get it all done. Not the best way to start my day.
So, I am giving some serious thought to trying to cut back . . . starting by not taking many book assignments. Just the most well paying ones, maybe, or the topics I like the best. I do have work I really, really enjoy and want to keep doing that. But maybe, just maybe, if we do some careful cutting back on expenses, I could say no to a few more jobs and find more time for relaxing. I know I'm not OLD (although there are days), but I also know that at 52, I simply can't keep up the schedule I did ten years ago.
What do you think? Good idea? Am I ready to not write a dozen plus books every year? . . . . I think I just might be. Still mulling.