Friday, November 28, 2008

A poem

After Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt's house, one of my young cousins brought out a copy of Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends. I waxed nostalgic re-reading some of the goofy poems that I loved as a child. Then I stumbled across this one. I don't remember it from my childhood, but it's my new favorite (I like the illustration--also from the book--almost as much as the poem itself).

My Beard

My beard grows down to my toes,
I never wears no clothes,
I wraps my hair
Around my bare,
And down the road I goes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


This has been a very stressful week for me. I've not been under this much stress since I left the cubefarm job, and I must say I haven't missed it. But in spite of all the craziness, I am smiling. Why? Have I finally gone 'round the bend?


I'm stressed because I'm BUSY. And being busy means I have work, and having work is something to be thankful for. So bring it on, clients of mine. I may be bald and twitchy by the end of the year, but I will not stop smiling.

Happy Thanksgiving. May your plates be as full as mine.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yesterday completely got away from me. Cat to the vet at 8:00 A.M., pancake breakfast with a client and on-site work from 9:00 to 2:30, pick up my new glasses from the optometrist at 3:00, RFP work until 5:30, birthday dinner for a cousin at 6, pick up the cat by 8:00 P.M.

Looks like today is heading in the same direction, but I wanted to squeeze in a post before I'm off and running.

Friday, November 21, 2008


You know what really sets my teeth on edge?

The chronic misuse in TV and movies of "I," "me," "us," "we" and "them."

"John and me are going to play tennis."
"Do you want to go with David and I to the movies?"
"You think you're better than me?"
"I have more cookies than them."


It's as grating as fingernails on a chalkboard . . . is there no equivalent to copy editor among the scriptwriting set?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Three is the magic number.

Third time's a charm. Three's company. Three strikes?

I'm working with my client on their winter mailer. Twice, we thought we had a great concept, only to have it blow up in our faces for one reason or another. Observe:

The idea for this one was sparked during a brainstorming session, when one of the team said "When everything's working against you, we're working for you." That got me thinking about tug-of-war, and we ran with it from there. I wrote the copy while the art director searched for an image. Then we set about trying to think of a giveaway item to package with the mailer. My idea was to attach Chinese finger traps to them, but that was dismissed because it doesn't require teamwork to get out of them. Somebody came up with the idea of a carabiner keychain, which was a bit of a stretch but did incorporate rope and the idea of teamwork. Then the art director realized the picture was not only rights managed (meaning we could use it once) but would also cost $400. They couldn't justify that cost for a mailer that would only be going out to about 140 people.

Back to the drawing board.

We came up with this one by looking at a list of historical events that happened in January, of which Henry Ford's concept of the assembly line is one. I voiced a concern that problems in the auto industry are headline news, but we rationalized that we weren't really talking about cars--we were talking about unconventional thinking, and ways to make your product attainable. I wrote the copy, we found several great (and affordable) images, and toy cars are easy to come by. We thought we had it. But my earlier misgiving was raised again by the CEO, and this one was scrapped due to bad timing.

So now we're setting to work on attempt #3. Will it prove to be our lucky number? My thanks to the art director for injecting some lightheartedness and positivity into the situation with these images.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Get to the 'Point

I didn't want to get out of bed this morning, but I didn't want to stay asleep either. All night long, I dreamed I was working on a PowerPoint presentation. All. Night. Long. I woke up several times and tried to shake it off, but when I fell back asleep, I fell right back into the dream. If this has ever happened to you, then you know that you wake up in the morning feeling like you got absolutely no sleep. I'm on my second big cup of coffee, and am just now starting to perk up a bit.*

And to make matters worse, the PowerPoint kept changing because other people kept giving me feedback about it.
"Change the font."
"Can you add animation to slide 10?"
"I don't like that background."
These "perpetual work dreams" happen to me every once in a while, and usually they are tied to whatever I'm working on at the moment. Last night was a new experience for me because I've never spent all night dreaming about PowerPoint (usually it's Word or Excel), and I'm not actually working on a PowerPoint for anybody.

I suppose it could have been worse--my least favorite dreams are the ones in which I'm in high school and can't remember my locker combination or class schedule (though I'm always fully clothed!), or I'm in college and can't find my best friend or call home. I awake from those dreams really anxious. I'll take being tired over being anxious any day.

* For the sake of full disclosure, I feel compelled to point out that while this post was published at 7 on Wednesday morning, it was written at 10 on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Too early?

The election is over. Campaign commercials have been replaced by Christmas ads. Apparently, though, my mind has not yet made the transition. While sweating it out on the recumbent bike at my gym this weekend, I was struck with what I think is a brilliant idea. An idea that would change the course of politics. An idea, I think, whose time has come. And you, lucky readers, are the first to hear about it.

What if each party had to run the campaign for the opposing candidate? Imagine what a different election season it would be if Candidate X was responsible for spending Candidate Y's campaign dollars. If Candidate Y had to write Candidate X's campaign commercials. There would be a rule against running a negative or slanderous campaign, so anything that was said about the candidates would be truthful and realistic. Campaign donations would be spent conservatively, if at all. Commercials would speak to the simplest positive aspects of each candidate:

"Candidate X had never had an overdue library book."

"Candidate Y never cheated on his spouse."

"Candidate Z's plan for balancing the budget might actually work, even if her ideas on health care are a little out there."

People could make real informed decisions about who to vote for, based on actual facts. Of course, we'd also have to get the media, political advocacy groups and the various political parties on board . . . but we've got four years to figure out the details.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Is it over yet?

Have you ever had a project that should have been simple, but just wasn't? I just finished two (frantically trying to find some wood to knock on).

My recent poster/postcard/web graphic project--and another project I was simultaneously working on for the same client--were both plagued by miscommunication and technical difficulties. For example:
  • The client provided the majority of the copy for the pieces--but changed it three times throughout the course of the project.
  • I wanted to create the files using Adobe PhotoShop and InDesign, which I don't have--meaning I had to rely on friends and other clients who do have the software, which was a logistical nightmare. Especially in light of the fact that I had to make multiple rounds of changes.
  • The client communicated to me, in writing, that several logos were supposed to be on one piece but not on the other--and when I delivered a proof according to those specs I was told the logos should be on both.
  • I delivered the final versions, in PDF (per specifications), on a CD--she wanted to email them to her printer, but couldn't open them so she had to take the CD to her printer (fortunately, her printer was able to open the files).
  • The other project required very minor pricing and text edits to an existing brochure (which, incidentally, I did for her last year). When she reviewed the file, she realized she'd forgotten to tell me to update one section, and she also saw that I had missed some subtle wording changes.
  • I revised the brochure and emailed her the file as a PDF, but when she tried to open it she got a message that said it was damaged. I opened it from two different computers, and it opened fine. I burned it to a CD for her, and when she opened it she noticed that the font of one text box had changed. I removed it and emailed it to her (it opened fine this time).
  • She asked me to email her the invoices for both projects--when I did (they're Word docs), she said my contact info was cut off and that she couldn't move the text herself. When I opened the docs, they looked fine to me. I PDF'd them and sent them to her that way--she couldn't open the PDFs. I ended up having to fax her the invoices.
It got to the point where I grimaced every time I saw there was an email from her in my inbox. I think the freelance gods had it out for me for some reason--hopefully they've been appeased and will leave me alone for awhile.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I guess I'm gonna stay "it"

I received this comment from Embee in yesterday's post:
You've been tagged! Check out this blog to find out what that means:

Have fun ... and don't forget to let me know when you've completed your 8!
Curious, I followed the link and read her explanation and the "rules" of the game. It seems to me to be the blog equivalent of chain letters and chain emails, but I decided to comply . . . to a certain extent. Because it saves me from having to come up with a topic for today's post (I promise, I'll think of something good for Monday), I'm going to list my eight "facts" . . . but I'm going to break the rules by not specifically tagging others. The instructions for participating can be found at the bottom of this post--if you want to participate, by all means consider yourself tagged!

Eight Facts About Me
  1. One of my hobbies is making jewelry.
  2. My ideal fast food meal would consist of a Wendy's cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and mustard, McDonald's fries and a Jamocha shake from Arby's.
  3. My best friends and I spoke a "secret" language all through junior high and high school.
  4. I have almost 50 pairs of shoes.
  5. My favorite movie of all time is Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
  6. My husband calls me "The Badger" because I'm small and cute, but can be mean as hell when provoked.
  7. I could spend hours in The Container Store.
  8. I don't forward chain emails, even when they promise special animations or money from Bill Gates, or threaten years of bad luck if I don't send them to a specific number of friends--which is why I'm breaking the rules in this game of tag, too (sorry Embee)!
The tag rules are as follows:
  • Each player starts with eight random fact/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag eight people and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged and to read your blog.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday funny

I'm a little too mentally exhausted to think of something to write about, so here's a cop-out cartoon:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Modest success

As you no doubt understand if you read my blog with any regularity, I'm not a math person. So it was with much grimacing and some under-the-breath cursing that I decided to put aside my fear and loathing of math and crunch me some numbers.

I started my freelance business in June of 2007. I knew there would be no way to immediately match what I had been earning at my cubefarm job, so I determined what I spend in a typical month (utilities, groceries, car payment, mortgage, etc.) and made it my goal to at least make that make that much every month. I was . . . intermittently successful at meeting that goal. Fortunately, my husband picked up most of the slack, so with a little curtailing of "unnecessary" spending we were able to keep our house and cars, eat on a regular basis, etc.

I retained last year's goal for this year, and added a goal of making more per month than I did last year. To determine if I am meeting that goal, I compared my earnings in two ways:
  1. In a straight comparison of the last six months of 2007 to the first six months of 2008, I made 8.4 percent more this year than last.
  2. For an "apples to apples" comparison, I looked at what I earned from June through October 2007 versus what I earned June through October 2008. For that period of time, I made 13.5 percent more this year than last.
Not drastic increases, but it makes me feel better to know that I'm doing better this year than last. And the last two months have been the best yet, so I am hopeful that my end-of-year calculations will show even better increases.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Check please!

First and foremost, I am happy to say that it appears I do not have a cold--I'm just extra-sensitive to climate changes, and we had a doozy of a change this weekend. So hooray and thanks for the well-wishes.

Now then.

When I started my 20-hour-a-week-not-a-part-time-job gig, I also started using their payroll system to track my hours and the amount of time spent of each of their clients' projects. Logically, I assumed that because I was using their payroll system, and submitting weekly time sheets to accounting, that meant I would be paid via their payroll system rather than invoicing them like I have in the past. Three weeks into the project, the accountant needed me to change "accounts" within the payroll system, and asked me to create an invoice for my first two weeks. I did, and I got a check.

Fast-forward to late last week, when I realized I haven't seen another check since that first one. So Monday I asked the CEO when I could expect to be paid for the rest of October and the first week of November--and boy am I glad I spoke up! Apparently, they were expecting me to invoice for all my hours. They use what I enter into the payroll system for billing their clients, but aren't paying me based on that.

As if I needed further proof what a great client this is, the CEO offered to cut me a check right then and there. I told him that wasn't necessary, and that I'd just go ahead and submit an invoice.

Monday, November 10, 2008


One of the less talked-about benefits of working from home is that I have less contact with other people's germs. I used to get at least one cold a year--but I've been freelancing full-time for about a year and a half, and haven't had a cold (or flu, or any other communicable illness) in all that time.

And now, in my 2nd month of working on-site with one of my clients, I'm starting to feel the once-familiar signs of that sneaky little bug. I cling to the hope that I'm just having a wicked allergy attack, but that hope fades a bit with each sniffle, sneeze and cough that aren't assuaged by my daily dose of Zyrtec.


When I go in to my client's office today, I'm taking a bottle of hand sanitizer. They may have given me a cold, but I don't have to return the favor.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

All of the glory, none of the entry fees

There's a possibility that one of my clients may decide to enter some direct mail pieces (on which I did the copy) in a competition. I think they stand a good chance of winning, because the pieces are really good and they've gotten positive feedback from recipients.

I don't typically enter my work in competitions because I just can't bring myself to spend what is usually several hundred dollars on the entry fee. If I'm paying you $300 to critique my work, you darn well better give me an award!

But if somebody else is footing the bill, heck yeah--I'm all for it. You cut the check, client of mine, and I'll do everything else--read the fine print in booklet, write the 2-5 page "work plan," fill out the entry form, and make sure it's in the mail before the deadline.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rockin' the vote

During the primaries, I took pen in hand with the intention of gaining myself some YouTube stardom. Sadly, once the following spoof was written, I had trouble coercing my friends into helping me record it, so the project lost steam and eventually died out.

Now that election day is here, I thought it fitting to dig out the lyrics and let you see what could have been:

"I Choose Barack"
sung to the tune of Tim Curry's "I Do the Rock"*

Primary race heating up for Pennsylvania Ave
Three are frantic’ly campaigning for what one can have
Some will vote for McCain
Some for Hillary
Me, I do the only thing that still makes sense to me

I choose Barack
I choose Barack, ‘rack

John and Clinton raise a stink to defame Obama
Sometimes they start arguments on the Senate floor-a
Hillary’s a lady, McCain’s really frightfully old
But something else ‘bout both of them just leaves me feeling cold

I choose Barack
I choose Barack, ‘rack
I choose Barack, ‘rack, ‘rack
Hey, it’s time for change!

Clinton spoke out vocally against Gitmo’s prison
Saddam’s six feet under but Bin Laden still is missin’
McCain’s war could last for 10 decades, but I just think that Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan aren’t places we should be

I choose Barack
I choose Barack
Hey, it’s time for change!
Change we believe in!

George and Matt and Will and Oprah
Brad and Angelina
Stephen Colbert and Madonna
Gov’nor Schwarzennegah
FOX, CNN, MSNBC and People Magazine
Reporting who the celebs pick for the presidency

I choose Barack, myself

Hammas and the Taliban
Christians, Jews and Muslims
Can’t we all just get along?
Our differences are puzzlin’
Dogma, Fatwa, and Jihad make global warming not so sad
Screw the polar bears and just bring our troops home safely

I choose Barack
I choose Barack
I choose Barack
I choose Barack
Choose Barack
Choose Barack
I do I do I do I do choose Barack

*If you've never heard the original, I'm sure it's out there on YouTube or elsewhere on the Internet for your listening pleasure.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Okay, quick post and then I have to get back to work (I just published that "business plan" and I'm already deviating from it!).

In hindsight, I really should have done some work over the weekend, but I did not and I haven't perfected my time machine yet.

My not-a-part-time-job-20-hours-a-week client asked me to continue on through November. Exciting, but also part of what has me thinking I should have worked a bit this weekend. I also have 3 Requests for Proposals for another client, and am hopefully finishing up the poster and postcard for the neighborhood business association. I say hopefully, because there is a charity involved and nonprofits make things a little more complicated than necessary.

Okay, enough . . . to work!