Archive for the ‘Freelance Is a Funny Thing’ Category

Jul

1

Portland Bound

Some of you know that I leave for Portland in a couple of hours. Technically I’m doing it as part of the transportation crew for my friend Jordan’s gallery opening in said city.

But if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you also know that Jordan will be locked in a box for the first seven days of that trip. As such, I won’t have any contact with him, even though he’ll literally be no more than six feet from me during that time. That started last night when we bolted him into the box.

The good news is that Jordan’s brother Shane is doing the bulk of the driving on the trip, so I won’t have to worry about keeping up with my work, staying on top of the social media end of the trip, and driving. What’s even better is that I’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest; in fact, I’ve never been north of San Francisco on the West Coast. It was about 88°F when we locked Jordan in the crate, and it was 100° at the hottest part of Friday with the heat index factored in. I’m so looking forward to what weather.com promises are temperatures in the 70s and 80s this coming week in Portland.

Since Shane and I will have no contact with Jordan but will still be driving across the country, we decided to treat the parts of the trip that aren’t about Jordan as a straight-up road trip. We’re hoping to see some awesome stuff along the way, although it likely won’t be quite so awesome to him since he just returned on Tuesday from a month in Italy.

This is not the first trip Shane and I have taken together. I know we made at least two trips to Kansas City together. (Our ultimate destination was an hour or so north of KC, but who wants to  mention she’s been to Lamoni, Iowa, multiple times?) We also used to spend a lot of time driving backroads here in rural Arkansas, and there’s more than one adventure to be told there. Remind me to tell you about those at some point on this trip… (No, seriously. Remind me. Otherwise I’ll forget, and one of those stories involves us sharing a bed in a hotel room that actually had a cat and a litter box in residence.)

I’m also super stoked about the fact that we’ll have long, uninterrupted hours with nothing but the open road and the playlists on my iPhone. You’ve probably already guessed about 80% of said content is showtunes and Glee tracks. It doesn’t hurt that Shane has a master’s in music and is about to pursue a Doctor of Musical Arts degree with an emphasis in choral conducting. I suspect we’ll have perfected our “Anything You Can Do” performance before we cross the Missouri state line.

Don’t forget that you can also follow me on Twitter, where I’ll occasionally enable geo locations in case you want to track our route/progress. Make sure you check in for tomorrow’s post; if the tentative itinerary pans out as expected, I’m almost certain to offend two major religious groups Saturday.

Jun

23

Going Postal

Yesterday I was on my way to Little Rock to watch the limited theater release of Company with a friend when the air conditioner went out in my car. You just can’t make a 65-mile one-way trip in the 95°F+ Arkansas heat without air conditioning unless you want to sit alone in the corner of the theater, so I was pretty pissed.

Then I remembered I was going to be locking my friend in a box and driving him across the desert in July, and I felt pretty crappy about mentally complaining about having no air conditioning for an hour when he’ll be without it (or a toilet) for six-plus days. (Then again, he once showed up at my 400-square foot house unannounced looking for a place to stay with five other guys who’d been living in a van, so he’ll probably be okay.)

After I arrived home from the film (Which, by the way, was AWESOME. You really should see it if you have a chance, as Katie Finneran and Patti LuPone in particular absolutely KILLED it.), I had messages from Jordan (the boxed artist in question) that his upcoming project had gotten quite a bit of coverage in the last 24 hours. In point of fact, his website hits went from virtually nil to over 30,000 in one day thanks to the widespread media coverage, including on sites like MSNBC.com and Kotaku. Of course I was thrilled about the press, because I’m so excited about Jordan’s work and this trip in particular.

Here’s what gets my goat, though. Almost every single online article I’ve seen (I must have scanned at least 30 over the last two days) gets almost every detail wrong. As a former professional journalist who now works as a freelance editor and writer, I was appalled at the lack of accuracy.

On the one hand, I’m quite accustomed to my name being misspelled; in point of fact, I’ve spent most of my life answering to “Brandi” or “Brenda” rather than my actual name (“Bradi”), so that was no biggie.

 

But I just can’t get over the fact that professional sites publish stories with such glaring inaccuracies, especially when they’re (presumably) taking the information directly from Jordan’s site. What’s even more confusing is that Jordan has his contact information right there on his site, so the writers could have resolved virtually all these mistakes by simply shooting him an email. (And to be fair, in the last couple days Jordan has fielded a fair number of emails from journalists from both print and online publications who presumably will get the story right.)

Perhaps the most stunning and consistent error I’ve found in these articles is that they abbreviate “Arkansas” as “AK.” That, my friends, is completely and totally wrong. Driving from Alaska to Oregon presents a whole different set of challenges than driving from Arkansas to Oregon. Of course, this mistake is also quite common. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve given my address to a customer service representative on the phone and had this conversation:

Me: ….in Bald Knob, Arkansas.

CSR: That’s “AK,” right?

Me: No. “AK” is Alaska.

CSR: Really? I thought Alaska was “AL.”

Me: No, that’s Alabama.

CSR: And you said it’s “AR”? Are you sure that’s not Arizona’s abbreviation?

Me: I’m sure. Arizona is “AZ.”

I know that because of my professional field I’m far more aware of grammar, usage and mechanics than the average person. But you guys, the AP Stylebook is your friend. And was I the only one who had to memorize postal abbreviations in, like, eighth grade? Is that a skill schools just don’t teach anymore? No wonder postal carriers always seem so surly.

Feb

25

This Is What Home Schooling Looks Like

In addition to my freelance work, I tutor home schooled kids three days a week. (Have to justify that teaching license somehow!) My tutoring kids are also my cousin’s children, and they’re awesome. Of course, school for them is about as formal as freelancing work is for me, in that you can do it in your jammies most days. Here I give you the face of home schooling: skull-printed footie pajamas and a scowl.

In related news, today Simon made it clear that he had absolutely no interest in learning how to compute compound and simple interest. Neither do I, Simon. Neither do I.

Jan

5

Diplomatic Immunity

I’m fond of saying I have more degrees than a pot of boiling water, although that’s not really true (no matter what temperature scale you use). That said, I am really good at going to school, and I kind of love it. Today I was filling out the education portion of my new Facebook profile, and I remembered that I never technically graduated high school.

I was really busy in high school…with extracurricular activities. In fact, I was so busy with three kinds of band and two kinds of choir and two publications (but absolutely no sports whatsoever) that I couldn’t fit all my academic classes into the regular school day.

But because pretty much all the academic classes I did take were advanced placement or college level, the guidance counselor let me fulfill my last math class via a correspondence course. In fact, I took the paperwork in one day to show her I’d enrolled in it, and she promptly wrote it down on my transcript as completed—even though I hadn’t cracked the spine on the book.

I did do a few lessons, but come on: it was math. Eventually I realized the guidance counselor would never know the difference, and it was already on my transcript as a done deal. That was enough for me.

So despite my not, strictly speaking, having enough academic credits to graduate, I still came out at the top of my class. Because of that, I was invited to attend a special event the Clintons hosted at the Governor’s Mansion for that year’s high school valedictorians. At the time I didn’t think much about it. Arkansas is a small state, and I’ve met each of the Clintons several times; once I even played in a band wherein Bill sat in and shared his smooth sax sounds.

In retrospect, though, it was a pretty sweet deal. It was May 1992, and it was the last time I’d see either of the Clintons in person. Six months later, the nation would elect him as its president.

Frank Bonner, best known for his four seasons on WKRP in Cincinnati, attended the event as well. While I was busy schmoozing with the next leader of the free world, my daddy was chatting up Herb Tarlek about the state of Razorback athletics at the University of Arkansas. Good to know he had his priorities straight.

In retrospect, I suppose it’s fitting that over the years I’ve lost my diplomas from high school as well as three universities; after all, I never technically earned the first.

Jan

3

Perfect Moment Monday: The Write Stuff

My Perfect Moment Monday for this week actually came on a Monday. (Note: that’s probably the only time this will ever happen.)

Today I started a creative writing course. If you’re reading this as a potential client, you’re probably freaking out and wondering, “How can she bill herself as a writer and editor if she thinks she needs to take a writing course?” Fear not: I have a perfectly legitimate explanation.

The key word there is “creative.” I’m fantastic at technical, journalistic and academic writing. And if you give me a topic, I can usually do “creative writing” pretty well, too. But I absolutely stink at coming up with ideas on my own. My hope is that this course will help me grow more comfortable with that style of writing and help me generate new and original ideas. We’ll see how it goes!

Beginning Jan. 03, 2011, I commit to participating weekly in Perfect Moment Monday, sponsored by Write Mind, Open Heart, in which I will reflect on and share a perfect moment from the previous week. You can join in, too!

Jan

2

All Out of Love

It’s no secret that there are a lot of stereotypes about home schoolers, and some of them have roots in reality. For instance, many families who choose to home school do so for religious reasons. Other common stereotypes I hear revolve around home schooled kids being way better educated than your average public school student or, alternately, way more poorly educated than your average public school student. (Both of those have merit, too.) And, of course, there’s the argument/belief that because they don’t go to school, home schoolers don’t interact with peers and are socially inept.

Regarding the last point, “my” two home schooled kids (that is, those for whom I serve as a learning coach) get tons of social interaction. On occasion they even do things with a statewide home school organization. Most recently the kids attended a field trip with other home schoolers at a local television studio. I tagged along with the kids and their mom (who is also my cousin) with the promise of Taco Bueno.

While the kids played around the green screen and explored the sets, my cousin and I sat off to the side. She eyed the other parents and students critically, then leaned down to whisper to me, “The stereotypes are true: home schooled kids really are nerds.”  Then she paused.  ”Of course, my son is watching Air Supply videos on my iPhone as I say this.”

Jan

1

NPR Debut: Diamond in the Rough

12:25 pm · category: Freelance Is a Funny Thing

You can listen to my NPR debut on the “Tales from the South” radio program here on the local affiliate. My story appeared on the Dec. 16 broadcast. You can also download/listen to the podcast at NPR’s website or at iTunes. It’s a 30-minute show, and I present about 20 minutes in. And finally, you can watch the video of the live recording here on YouTube or watch it below.

Please view, comment, “like” or all three on the video if you’re so inclined. The show chooses the year’s best stories to go in an anthology, determined in part on the number of hits, likes and comments the video recordings of the readings get on YouTube. If you can, please do one (Or all!) of those three things on my video. That would give me a leg up, and perhaps I’ll officially be a published author under my own name instead of as a ghost writer!

Oct

1

Almost Falling

I’m so far on the drop edge of yonder that I’m almost falling off into the ether.

This is the fourth incarnation of this blog.  The first two were on Blogspot, but I had my own domain name for the third.  I couldn’t afford the fees to renew the hosting in the summer of 2009.  Four months later, I realize that I’ve lived without a blog long enough.  Too much of my life happens online because of the nature of my work and my relationships, and I can’t pare all that down into 140 characters on Twitter (You can find me there listed as @DropEdge) or a cheesy status update on Facebook  (You can find me there if you know my real name).

In the last four months things have managed to somehow remain the same and yet change dramatically.  After more than a year of unemployment in a decidedly uncertain economy, I’m doing the kind of work I’ve always dreamed about doing--and I’m doing it online from the comfort of my own home.  (And usually naked.  But don’t worry; it’s not that kind of online work.  I’m working as a freelance writer, editor, and virtual assistant.)  On the other hand, I found out today that my home won’t be my own by this time next month, which means that I have to find a new place to live ASAP.  Part of me wants to pick up and move somewhere totally new and unexpected, and part of me wants to stay right here in this lovely little community in the gently rolling hills of rural Arkansas.

As usual, I still don’t have any idea what I’m doing when it comes to customizing a personal blog.  Expect this space to remain plain and ridiculously unadorned.  If I could figure out how to do cool stuff, I would.  Probably, anyway.  Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to transfer everything from the last blog to this one, but there’s no time for that now.  I have an eBook to research, 33 product descriptions to write, and 1200 people to request as friends on Facebook for various freelance jobs.

Aug

14

New Rules

  • If you’re a tweeker and have meth mouth, you are not allowed to sport a tongue ring.  There is no defensible reason to draw further attention to your terrible teeth.
  • If you write a medical transcription training program and insist that the two most important elements for success are speedy typing and strong grammar skills, make sure that your materials are grammatically correct.  This is especially important to those of us who actually know proper capitalization and punctuation, because we “auto edit” as we read/type and have to go back to type text as (incorrectly) shown on screen, thus dramatically lowering our WPM average.  (FYI:  You can’t put a comma just anywhere.  There’s a whole separate set of rules for that.  See The Elements of Style for further details.)
  • If you drop off your dog at Aunt Doodie’s shop for grooming and we ask what time you will pick up your pet, do not respond with, “I’m a school teacher.”  Mr. Whiteaker does not say, “I’m a judge.”  Paula Jones does not say, “I was once a celebrity boxer.”*  “I’m a school teacher” does not register on any clock we have in the shop.  “The last bell rings at 3:15, so I’ll be here right after that” will do just fine.  Besides, when you say, “I’m a school teacher,” I will smile sweetly and respond with, “I’m a dog bather.”  I will not mention that I have more degrees than a pot of boiling water and likely blew your smug ass out of the Milky Way on the NTE.  Aunt Doodie will not mention that she nets twice more than you do annually and works five hours a day.  Our parents (Who were school teachers!) reared us right.
  • If you are Nathan Fillion, David Foster Wallace, or Scarlett Johannson, make plans to ravish me immediately.  Advance notice is preferred but not required.  (I’d like to shave and put some sheets not covered in pet hair on the bed first.)
  • If you are responsible for the Burger King website, be ashamed.  That place is completely unnavigable.
  • If you are responsible for the Burger King commercials featuring the freaky, mute mascot with the ginormous head, email me and plan for a trip to the bank.  I will send you my home address, and you can send me a check for the therapy I’ve needed because of those horrifying ads.

*Paula Jones is tiny and sweet and has the most adorable accent on the planet.  And if you mess with her, I will kick your ass.  Since, um, she proved in her boxing match that she couldn’t kick your ass herself.

Jul

20

While I Was Out

This is what I did during my blogging hiatus, in no particular order:

  • Kicked Rocco out
  • Got fired
  • Decided to write, organize and produce my own version of Food Court Musical
  • Learned how to make homemade candy bars
  • Signed up for unemployment
  • Worked my way up to the number one and number five spots, respectively, on Facebook’s “Addicted to Angel” and “Addicted to Buffy” trivia applications
  • Gave up my dream of being in the roller derby
  • Realized unemployment will not keep me from being homeless…
  • …Began bathing dogs for Aunt Doodie in exchange for her paying my rent
  • Started taking a yoga class
  • Got cable TV with a DVR
  • Spent a lot of time with Aunt Doodie musing about how we would survive on a deserted island
  • Started working on building a freelance career, which will theoretically enable me to stay home so I can play “Addicted to Angel/Buffy” Facebook applications and watch the DVR all day long
  • Successfully completed a ten-day cleansing fast
  • Entertained at my home twice in one week — a record!
  • Found out my Aunt Shelley has cancer
  • Realized I am not equipped to write, organize and produce my own version of Food Court Musical, so enlisted the help of my friends
  • Became obsessed with sushi and ate it almost every day for two weeks
  • Lost nine pounds
  • Spent a lot of time daydreaming about how Nathan Fillion and I would live on a deserted island, using Aunt Doodie’s survival ideas and my “tons of free time” ideas
  • Attended the Slayage Conference, where Rhonda Wilcox saw my name tag, remembered me, and asked why I never formally submitted my paper
  • Made my home almost totally chemical free
  • Became disgusted by sushi and vowed to never eat it again
  • Found out my cousin Bailey is having another baby
  • Learned how to fry an egg perfectly
  • Bought a plane ticket to LA for the WD party in October
  • Twisted Cindy’s arm until she agreed to visit me this summer
  • Ate more sushi
  • Found, loved and lost my precious Dr. Horrible
  • Lost a toenail