Just Keep Spinning

There’s a spider that’s moved on to my house. I say “on to” my house because he’s outside. I don’t actually know if it’s a he, but I nicknamed him Pete (as I do with all the spiders I find in my house – I don’t know why) so it’s a he.

He’s living just outside my door on my porch and has chosen the sidelight to build his web. I’m not particularly creeped out by spiders, bugs or other creepy crawlies, but I’m not one for having them so close to me. Especially to my face. But, there’s a nice piece of glass separating the two of us, so we manage to make it work.

It’s been a few weeks since Pete’s moved in and I’ve become utterly fascinated by him. He’s nocturnal, so during the day he hides out just above his web in the framing of the door. He bunches up into a ball and, I don’t know… Sleeps? Hangs out?

Then at night, this happens:

My new friend Pete.

My new friend Pete.

As you can see, he comes down from above and hangs out in the middle of the web. Classic spider stuff. And, yes, he is as big as he looks. I haven’t measured him, but he’s bigger than the spiders I’m used to seeing.

I’m not going to lie, If I saw Pete in the house, I’d be a little freaked out.

After the first week, I noticed one morning that the beautiful web he spun (hard to see it in this picture), was destroyed. Most of the inner circles were gone and the bottom was almost non-existent.

I was sad, but it happens. Circle of life. I figured he was done and moving on.

Except the next morning I came downstairs and noticed that the web was back. Good for Pete, I thought. Another meal will be served.

A few days later, I noticed the web was destroyed again. And, I was sad again.

But, this time, as I was heading upstairs for bed, I saw the most amazing thing. I saw Pete spinning the web!

I’d post the video, but it’s not that great. Pete would walk around the spokes of the web, the webbing trailing from behind him, and at each spoke he’d take a leg and guide the webbing onto the spoke, making it stick in place, walk to the next spoke and repeat, creating the web.

I was utterly mesmerized. At first I wasn’t sure I was sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. I couldn’t really see the web as he spun it. It almost looked like he was walking on air. It wasn’t until I looked back at his work that I actually saw what was being created. He would lay the web and move on to the next part, but I couldn’t see what he just spun. The webbing is mostly transparent at first. It wasn’t until Pete was maybe three parts over that the web started to become more opaque and thus, more visible. And each time around the web added a layer and eventually, Pete had a complete web.

He didn’t stop, he didn’t look back, he trusted his process. He just kept spinning.

Watching him do this has inspired me to adopt him as my spirit animal, and I could use one right now. I know a spider don’t seem like a likely choice for spirit animal, but it’s hard not to want to be like Pete. He moved in and set-up shop like it was no big deal. When the web was destroyed, he went back, fixed it and moved on with his life. When the web was destroyed again, he fixed it again. And even though it maybe wasn’t immediately clear or obvious to me what he was doing, it was to him. When I watched long enough, things came into focus for me, too. They became real to me, just like they are to Pete. And Pete keeps spinning.

There’s a lot going on right now. Not just for me, but for everyone. Even for people I don’t know, haven’t yet met or may never meet. And I’ll probably never know what they’re up against, and they may never know what I’m up against. And that’s OK. But, I’d suggest if you’re feeling lost, out of focus, disconnected or just plain blah, find a Pete and watch him spin his web. Because we all need to keep spinning our web, and eventually, whatever it is will come into focus for all of us.

The End and The Beginning

This has truly been the summer of endings. The job finally, finally, finally, ended. In some respects it was a long, slow lingering thing. We knew it was coming, we just weren’t sure when. And when it was finally done, it was done. I’m sad. It was such a great job. But, that’s life, and it was a job. There will be others.

Unlike the other major ending from this summer. Death. Of a person. In the family. And, much like the job it was a long slow lingering thing. And when it was finally done, it was done. Death is final like that. And, much like the job, I’m sad. Of, course, it wasn’t “just a person.” Their won’t be “other people.”

Dying was easy. Getting the final arrangements done wasn’t. This was the first time I was on the planning side of things. Even with premade and prepaid arrangements, it was a bit messy. Not horribly so. Not oh my God I’m so writing about this messy. But disorderly.

Then, the actual funeral. Geeze. I had no idea the eulogy was the time for airing dirty laundry. Your’s or someone else’s. And that wasn’t the first time I had experienced it! I know people are sometimes grief stricken and aren’t thinking clearly but, yikes. (That could make a good book. All the eulogys in the world that have gone awry.)

white rose

When all was said and done and I finally got a chance to sit down, I got to thinking. When I write, I need to know the ending so I know how to start and how to get there. While I can’t exactly do that in life, what with its unpredictability and all, I can at least try to plan the end so there’s no laundry and no messy. Just something neat and tidy that sort of resembles a happy ending.

First, no long lingering anything for me. I just die. The end.

I will write my own obituary. Which makes sense because I’m a writer. I don’t want one of those standard, boring ones. In it, I will talk about what a great time I had while I was here.

I will also write my own eulogy. There will be no dirty laundry. Or clean laundry. Or any laundry. Mostly, I will talk about my own awesomeness and why you were lucky to have known me. Also, it will be the only thing said. No clergy, no anyone waxing nostalgic about me. Not only to avoid the laundry, but because I don’t want anyone to have to experience losing it in front of a room full of people because it’s contagious and then everyone loses it. And I don’t want anyone losing it while you are discussing my awesomeness.

After said celebration of all things me (notice, I did not say “funeral” or “burial” or any thing like that), there will be an after party. Not a Shiva or a wake or a memorial. An after party. Jello shots and champagne will be served. And, I will pay for all of it in advance. Because it’s my after party, which is why you are having jello shots. And why should you have to pay for it?

Super fancy shots. And I like that the container is edible.

Super fancy shots. And I like that the container is edible.

Hopefully, said after party will take place on the beach, but it’s not mandatory. A bar is fine, too. Whatever. I’m just thinking the beach is best because I’m going to be cremated and turned into fireworks. Because nothing says “celebration” better than fireworks.

That's me!

That’s me!

Lastly, when all is said and done and I’ve been gone for a while, random people from my past will start receiving random items in the mail. A comb, ballet shoes. Something totally odd and random with a note: I’m dead. You know what to do. Of course, they won’t. Why? No reason. It just sounds funny.

And, with that, I close the books on Summer 2015. I won’t exactly miss you, but I thank you. For helping inspire me to look as far forward as possible and for giving me new beginnings.

Also, I am looking for a job. Thoughts to follow. But, in the meantime, if you know of any job that is flexible and involves me sitting on the beach drinking margaritas, please keep me in mind. It can also involve drinking daiquiris poolside. I’m not picky.

I have Nothing. Or Too Much.


As the name implies, sometimes I have time to write. Sometimes, I don’t. This was one of those “don’t” times.

I have a feeling that soon enough, it will be one of those “do” times. In spades. The layoffs at work have begun. They say it’s seasonal, and maybe that’s true. Summer is a slow time and maybe it will pick up again in September. Then again, it tends to be slow in summer for a lot of companies in many different industries and they don’t lay off. Especially unexpectedly and without warning. I have my doubts this is “seasonal.”

In any event, I decided now was a good time to fire up the resume and start looking around. Just in case. While I’d love nothing more than to have time to sit around and write (until I got frustrated and started banging my head against the desk) the reality is that there are bills to be paid and therefore, I need money. Like an actual reliable, I can count on this being in my checking account twice a month kind of job.

Way back when, before this “I’m gonna be a writer!” thing, I was a manager. A person in charge of hiring and firing. A person with a master’s degree. A person with a lot to offer.

In an entirely different field.

And, by that I mean, not a writing field. Not a journalist field. Not a marketing field. Not a new media field. Something totally different. So, while I have a lot of experience and an advanced degree, it’s not in the right field. Not even a related field.

Which is not entirely true. I’ve been freelancing for a while, so I have a body of work, but nothing very current and with my name on it. That’s the funny thing about the Internet. It changes. Constantly. So, stuff I did, say 2 years ago, is gone. I have the originals but no active links on the Internet. That means it doesn’t count.

Lots of people don’t really want to talk to me because of that advanced degree and experience as the in-charge type. They make assumptions about the amount of pay that I’ll work for or what kind of team player I would be. Sure, they call me in for an interview because they have to, to make their hiring pool look good, but then I get in there and it’s a whole bunch of questions that make them wonder why I’d even bother applying in the first place.

It’s hard to say in an interview, Well, I never should have gotten that degree to begin with. I just wasn’t ready for the real world and it seemed kind of interesting, so, you know, I did that, even though, deep down, I never really wanted to it’s just that I lacked good guidance and certain skills to say that and sort of ended up there and I don’t know how but I just woke up one day and there I was in a job I really loathed because of choices and mistakes I made years ago. Then smile sheepishly, because that’s always cool to do in an interview.

It’s tough, I know. I’ve been in their shoes. On the one hand, I don’t really fit what they want in a candidate. And the next 16 applicants do, so why would they hire me? On the other hand, I’ve got an advanced degree, so obviously I must be kind of smart and persistent and all sorts of cool sounding corporate buzz words, but what’s to say I won’t get bored with the job and leave when something better paying, more interesting or more ______________ comes along?

I’d love to start each application with: Look! I’m a writer. Obviously, I’m not in to big pay checks and glory. And I’ve been working for peanuts for the last year! Clearly I’m willing to compromise on everything!

But I would say it in a much less desperate way. because no matter what I can or can’t offer an employer, I’m a writer. That’s what I do. Make it all sound better than it really is.

On to Something New

I’ve talked before about Twitter and how I’ve been finding all sorts of writing prompts and games on there. They’ve been fun and have led me to write some interesting things and to explore topics I may not have thought about otherwise.

One of the prompts has encouraged me to ditch my current WIP and try something new. Completely new. This won’t be the first time I’ve abandoned a project, but it will be the first time I’m going to try and write in a different genre.

It will be interesting, to say the least. And, I think, challenging, but I’m hoping challenging in a good way. Like, in a way that allows me to complete a project and actually send it out instead of just talking about it. Or pushing to get to nowhere.

So, here goes. Out with the old. In with the new.

Memorable Writing

Someone remembered my writing and used it as an example!

Of bad writing.

(Oh, come on. You had to see that coming.)

I can’t say that I disagree, per se. It wasn’t my best work and could have used some polishing. However, that’s not why it was used as an example. Of bad writing. (I might be a tad bitter.)

I know up front that I still have a lot to learn about the craft of writing. Loving to write, needing to write, being unable to stop writing, isn’t enough. That’s the truth I’ve come to grips with lately. Loving it isn’t enough. Very few of us are naturally “that good.” Most of us are good, but have to really work at the “that” part. I’m one of them, and that’s fine.

The reason it was held up as a bad example wasn’t because of the writing but because of where it started. Specifically, because this reader didn’t care about the character yet. There was no emotional involvement so why do we care about what is happening to the character.

OK. I see what she’s saying. Really, I do. But.

(Because you knew that was coming, too.)

Don’t you automatically care about the character because you picked up the book? Part of me wanted to say, isn’t that what book jackets and synopses for? You’re reading the book because your friend said it’s awesome, right? So, don’t you automatically want to know what happens even if you’re not emotionally connected to the character in the first 200 or so words? You don’t just give up on a book after 200 words do you? If you’re an agent, maybe, sure, but a reader? Don’t you keep reading a little further, just to see?

Personally, the soonest I’ve ever given up on a book was about 3 pages in. A record for me, to be sure, and it wasn’t because I didn’t emotionally connect with the character. It had to do with some really bad writing about testicles. Don’t ask. But that’s more than 200 words.

Don’t misunderstand. She wasn’t saying she had to like the character, which is a totally different thing. She just needed to connect. And that’s fine, for her. Not everyone needs to connect with a character just to keep reading.

Take The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I loved that book. But the first 70 pages. Yikes. What the hell was that? I couldn’t understand what all the fuss and hype was about. But, people told me not to give up and I didn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t. And, in turn, I shared that advice with others who wanted to give up. Don’t, I said. I promise.

I didn’t connect with any character in the beginning because, frankly, there was no one really to connect with. Lots of set-up, no action. Boring. When I was reading it I remember thinking, I could easily condense this into about 3 pages and move on, but, that’s not how that book was written. I would have missed out if I had given up after 3 pages just because of the lack of connection.

So, what does this all mean? While the critique was coming from a good place, I just can’t agree. I started in the right place. Perhaps I needed more characterization for context and connection, but, no, I was right to start where I did.

And I’m going to keep going.

You Never Know Unless You Try!

Just a quick note.

There are all sorts of things to find on Twitter – beyond the promoted posts and click bait. There are lots of writing prompts to help you improve your writing. One of those is 200 Word Tuesdays. Each month there’s a theme (or two) and you write a story to fit said theme, but use only 200 words. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.

I don’t generally think of myself as a short story writer, but given how the novel thing is coming along, I probably shouldn’t rule anything out.

So, I tried! And succeeded! Read Beautful Armor here and follow on Twitter at @200WordTuesdays (and the fabulous person behind it all @ReeDwithaBee).

Minimum Pay, Minimum Work: Why Customer Service is Dying

The house is warm, it stopped raining in the kitchen and I have a new phone.

Several things collided this weekend, culminating in an interesting Monday (part of which I blogged about here). In truth, all of it was nothing and it was a bunch of first world problems. Sometimes, to keep it in perspective, I remind myself that it could be worse. Before I started pursuing this lucrative writing thing, I worked with drug addicts, criminals, and juvenile delinquents. Perspective is everything.

Saturday it started “raining” in my kitchen. Not raining, but water was dripping down from the light fixture over the kitchen table. I contacted the electrician and, turns out it’s no big deal – as in, not a roof leak – and he’ll be by to fix it Monday around 12:00.

Ok. I have plans to get a new phone on Monday but that should give me plenty of time. And by “phone” I mean 2 phones and a tablet that had been ordered 2 weeks ago and I had confirmed they were at the store, waiting for me to come get them.

Except I wake up Monday morning to the cold house and spider infested furnace. Fortunately, the HVAC guy can come by that day, also around 12:00. Perfect.


Not where rain should come from

I head to the store and it opens right at 10AM. There’s one employee there (the manager). Fortunately, I’m first, and everything is there so this should be an easy transaction. Only, it wasn’t. One of the phones I was told was there, wasn’t. Which isn’t really the manager’s fault, as she hadn’t been the person setting this up. She tried calling and texting the person I was working with repeatedly to find out what happened to the missing phone and he didn’t answer.

The manager offers to go over to another store to get it, but she won’t be able to do it until later but should have it by 12:45. Which is a problem because I don’t know if I can get back to the store that day because of the rainy kitchen and spidery furnace. (Side note: I wonder if it would have snowed in the kitchen if the furnace was out for much longer?)

But, I don’t have a choice. I leave, telling her I’ll be back. I go home, everything is fixed, I improve my fire starting skills and life is decent.

I go back to the store at 1:00, figuring that would be more than enough time for her to go and come back in lunch time traffic. Only, when I get there, it turns out she had just left the store to get the phone. Now I’m really not happy. The staff (there are 3 of them there now, 1 is a new guy. Poor guy. Crappy day to start a new job), try to talk to me but I explain I’m pissed and why I’m pissed and they are smart. They leave me alone.

Thirty minutes later, the manager returns with my phone, apologizes and, truthfully, handles it like a pro. Engaging me in conversation, being genuinely upset at the guy I was working with for screwing this up, screwing her over and not responding to her for 2 hours (I don’t know what he said about the missing phone). She was all impressed that I knew to do an encrypted back up of the phone before coming in. And she made me laugh when she tested the phone to make sure the number ported over by pranking one of her staff. Good times. And, let’s face it, she drove over to another store to get this for me. That’s pretty awesome.

Later in the evening, in the warm and dry house, I started thinking about everything that happened in the store. Not just about my response to it (because, before the haters get started, yes I was pissed that the phone wasn’t there and I have a right to be pissed because they told me it was there and then it wasn’t and I don’t have all day to wait around for a phone) but about the whole thing.


Apparently, this doubles as a spider hotel

I was told the stuff was there but it wasn’t. That’s poor customer service. I worked retail for years to help me get by and when a customer wants something, you put it on hold, off to the side with a note on it. If there’s a limit on how long you can hold it, you tell them. And if you aren’t allowed to hold things, you mention that before the customer leaves the store.

Then I get there and the manager is on by herself and sort of knows what’s going on but doesn’t and has to call her staff person who doesn’t answer his phone. Not her fault, per se, all though, as a former manager, I kind of feel like you should know what everyone of your staff is up to, especially on their day off (as in “what do I need to know since you aren’t there to make sure the shit doesn’t hit the fan”).

But, again, perspective. How much do these people make? Ten dollars an hour? Twelve? Let’s even say fifteen, though I doubt that very much. Are they hourly? Salaried? Do they get full time hours or are they restricted to part time? Are there any benefits at all? Is the company using predictive software that scheudles hours based on the weather and the probability that X amount of customers will show? Because I gotta tell you, if that’s the case, the software totally blew it that day. No one around here cares that it’s a -20 windchill. Stuff’s gotta get done.

Is it my fault for expecting more? Do I expect too much because I’ve been in that position before and think I would do better? But would I really if I were in that position now? Is it unreasonable to expect more than minimum work for just a minimum wage? I don’t know what the manager makes but she seemed to go above and beyond, all things considered. Why her and no one else? Will she still be like that in 6 months? A year?

Yup, I know, it’s all a bunch of first world problems. And, all things considered, it could be worse. But I find myself asking, shouldn’t we do better? First world problem or not, shouldn’t we be concerned about low pay and what it could lead to? What it seems to be leading to? Shouldn’t we be demanding better for everyone?

Heavy thoughts for a Wednesday. Discuss.